How a "Green" Energy Company Can Support Climate Misinformation

I've been tracking green house gases (GHG) emissions data for years as part of our effort to understand and publicize the environmental footprint of the global ICT infrastructure. My work ties with my assessment that anthropogenic climate change is a real and major threat to our environment and global welfare. Yet climate deniers exist and the need to go-along-to-get-along in local communities can give deniers unlikely allies. The May issue of In Business, a local business magazine where I live, states that "...we’ve reduced carbon emissions over the past 37 years by 84 percent...". Worse yet, this publication is supported by local 'green' advertisers.

The context was an opinion piece arguing against a carbon tax. The merits of a carbon tax is a reasonable topic for an opinion piece, but the editors should have better handled this unsubstantiated 'fact'.

But only did the In Business editors let this pass, they amplified the misinformation in a huge callout in the print version.

Climate 'false facts' do not deserve the shelter of 'opinion'!

The media does a disservice when it applies the "two sides" formula to matters of fact. There is no 'other side' to GHG emissions. They are increasing, not dramatically decreasing. It's that simple!

It would have not taken much work to fact-check this. The author cites as his proof the EPA Carbon Monoxide Trends. Two problems here.

First, the EPA page is talking about ground level air quality, not total atmospheric emissions.

Second, the EPA page is talking about carbon monoxide (CO), not carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 comprises about 82% of GHG emissions in the United States.

The bottom line is that the alleged 84% reduction in carbon emissions is totally unsubstantiated.

Can we be green while spending our money to support climate deniers?

I was even more surprised when I received the June issue. MGE is our local (private) power utility. We pay it a substantial premium to supply us with 100% wind power. Yet here it is funding this climate dis-information with their "green" advertising dollars sourced from green customers like us. It is a shame that a company offering its customers options to reduce carbon emissions is supporting messaging that says we do not have to worry about carbon emissions.

This is a good reminder that we should all be more mindful about the second-order impacts of our purchasing decisions!

I reached out to both In Business and MGE.

MGE responded, "As your community energy company, MGE places advertising in a number of different local newspapers, magazines, newsletters and other media in an effort to reach all of our customers. In addition to supporting local business and other local organizations, these ads give MGE the opportunity us to reach customers throughout our area to share important safety information and program offerings."

In Business has not responded.