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Climate Shaming & Virtue Signaling

Gas pumps with the BP label and tags that read "Sorry out of use"


#gaslighting #media #public relations


Doug Fogelson

The culture of public shaming and otherwise “weaponizing” climate change is usually an attempt to discredit a prominent individual. Conservative commentators, news media, and various public or private influencers have disparaged or insulted climate related activists. Attacking activists such as Greta Thunberg, a vocal youth with Asperger’s syndrome, or using “carbon shaming” comparisons when climate/eco activists or other vocal leaders fly, purchase homes, etc is “shaming” that happens both in comments on social media and in the media. Nefarious groups like “The Heartland Institute” have the clearly stated goal of disrupting all progress against fossil fuel interests (doing so in an array of unscrupulous misleading ways), including campaigns such as against Greta Thunburg… where they found, “developed”, and sponsored a contrasting young “anti-Greta climate-denier” public figure.

Psychological schemes are used in “fake news” and in other campaigns across the media produced and distributed by pro-fossil-fuel groups under different misleading entities or lobbyists. These tactics exploit the emotional content surrounding many serious issues faced by the our global community and use the sentiment/fear to try to halt implementation of practical or progressive solutions.

On the flip side, various corporations are adopting new standards of sustainable practices. Some companies use this as a selling point–while remaining in good compliance, conducting reporting of emissions and impacts/savings, leading to significant carbon emission reduction. However, some other brands and corporations claim sustainable ideas or actions in PSAs and advertisements for greater brand enhancement and market share without actually doing anything impactful. This is considered “virtue signaling”.

Companies like Amazon, Apple, Target, Dell, and Clorox have been making big green promises and setting future dates for reduction goals. The companies themselves as well as regulators, lawmakers, and consumers have the responsibility of making sure they do. Often when it’s all about a commercial product the primary agenda is financial profit and market expansion, so be sure to check a little deeper whenever possible into claims by products, and leaders, to keep integrity across the board.

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