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Climate/Carbon Shaming & Virtue Signaling in Media

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, media, and various public or private figures have disparaged or made insults at activists, such as at Greta Thunberg who is a youth activist with Asperger’s syndrome, or using “carbon shaming” comparisons when climate activists or other leaders fly on airplanes, purchase homes, and the like. The Heartland Institute organization has the goal of disrupting progress against fossil fuel interests seemingly by any means possible, including campaigns such as the one against Greta Thunburg where they developed and sponsored a similarly young “anti-Greta” public figure. Psychological schemes are used in “fake news” or other campaigns and media by pro-fossil-fuel groups like the Koch Industries. These tactics exploit the emotional content around serious issues faced by the entire global community and try to halt implementation of progressive solutions.

On the flip side, various corporations are adopting new practices and touting them widely (aka “virtue signaling”) in PSAs and advertisements for greater brand enhancement and market share. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Target, Dell, and Clorox have been making big green promises and setting future dates for reduction goals. Despite this, there are plenty of good reasons corporations are making more sustainable changes as they can have large impacts in savings for all. Leading with practical values is a virtue, but don’t forget, when it’s all about a commercial product, the primary agenda is profit and growth.

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