Climate Change Deniers, Greenwashing, Labels

Climate Change Deniers

Climate change deniers are people who either do not believe the climate crisis exists, or that it poses a significant threat to present and future generations [there are also people who are knowledgeable on the subject and just don’t care – we can’t pay too much attention to them].

For one reason or another, they’ve managed to persuade themselves that the climate crisis is made up – or that it’s a liberal movement. It’s important to understand that climate change deniers don’t base their arguments on reliable facts, so hearing them out really can’t hurt.

In fact, we encourage climate change ‘acceptors’ to have open-minded discussions with climate deniers so that they can identify at which point the difference in the thought process begins. Only then will we be able to present facts that matter, instead of always repeating the same truths [e.g. differentiating climate and weather instead of always repeating that global temperatures are increasing].

It’s also important to understand that most climate deniers don’t use what we’ll call ‘primary’ sources of information. Instead, many rely on arguments made by influential climate change deniers, who themselves source their faulty information from other ‘secondary’ sources of information, like social media posts and blogs. That’s a problem, as we’re now seeing climate change deniers comfort each other with terrible information that makes loops and loops within their online feeds. Lies are recycled within their ‘woke’ community with different fonts and wording – but that doesn’t make the pseudo-scientific arguments any less wrong.

One of the main issues at hand is that climate acceptors can easily look up statistics from international panels of scientists and trusted organizations – yet still have to debate with climate change deniers that instead trust a recycled social media post originating from a random influential climate change denier.

As such, the significant problem with influential climate change deniers is their blind fanbase. Those fanbases are made up of people who don’t understand the science behind climate change, yet voice opinions and state them as facts. That’s extremely frightening, especially since it’s not really their opinions. They just regurgitate the lies spread by influential climate change deniers on their platforms. These fanbases are being fed bullshit and are asking for seconds – and that’s one of the reasons we’re not making progress fast enough to curb GHG emissions.

To avoid further irreversible damage to our environment, we’re going to need to be united. That will only happen if we aim to educate everyone using the trusted scientific organizations that we literally created for that reason. As long as a good chunk of the population continues to trust ‘leaders’ who reject climate change based on evident economic incentive [or other ethically questionable motives] rather than trust unbiased international organizations who have nothing to gain – we’ll continue to struggle to implement environmentally friendly measures. It will be no one’s fault but our own if we fail to educate one another, but we [humans] won’t be the only ones to suffer as a result of our inaction.

Greenwashing

As is always the case, there will be people who take it too far. Until now, we’ve been led to believe that vegans are the extremists in our societies because of their abnormal lifestyles. Although it’s true that a lot of vegans can be pretty in your face about it, that’s not what makes someone an extremist. If anything, they’re the ones taking concrete steps by sacrificing their food freedom for a greater cause.

In our book, what makes someone extreme is believing that we can make the switch from fossil fuels to renewables, without changing our habits. The problem is, that doesn’t sound nearly as hardcore as veganism because it has been presented as the uncontested solution to global warming for decades. At this point in CyclopediApp, we hope you’re familiar with at least a few reasons why that’s impossible at our current levels of material and energy demand.

Going forward as we tackle environmental issues, we’ll need to scale back our optimism a bit. It gives too much power to conspiracy theories and climate change deniers worldwide who can easily pick apart the ‘green dream’ with valid arguments.

Instead, if we present the complete truth which outlines that renewables aren’t a perfect solution, then we can start taking meaningful action. We’ll be able to focus resources and concentrate renewables where they can help achieve the most GHG savings – instead of funding all kinds of innovative ‘green’ projects that can end up doing more harm than good [again, not all of them].

Contributing to greenwashing can be unintentional, but it can also be used to make a lot of dough. Green tech, like other tech, is an extremely profitable market – so we have to be wary of companies who claim to help, but are actually just exploiting more discrete resources.

In any case, it’s important to educate yourself when in doubt. Googling a question doesn’t make you an expert, but if you can find reputable sources that corroborate each other, odds are that the information is correct [or close enough to get the point across].

Labels

One of the greatest challenges of this century will be properly evaluating emissions and environmental impacts. With this in mind, companies and governments have come up with labels to help consumers make more sustainable purchases and dispose of products appropriately. However, there’s still lots of work to be done, as current labelling techniques are lacking in more ways than one.

There are loads of criteria that make labels ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – we’ll synthesize some of them here.

First off, it’s important for consumers to be able to trust the companies making the claims. This means companies have to show full transparency [i.e. hide nothing], while making logical claims based on the data available all along the life-cycle. It’s also important for companies to only mention relevant impacts, excluding ‘sustainable initiatives’ that are actually just required by law. Irrelevant information could otherwise be used to distract consumers away from the main problems. Next, it’s important for companies to make sure that consumers can easily spot the label and understand its significance – ideally before purchasing the product.

There are many ways to make sure these criteria are respected for all the products we sell. Between relying on third-party certifications, adhering to international standards, and providing quantitative data in labels, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to gain the trust of consumers.

On the other hand, as we’ve seen above with greenwashing – some companies will try to slip through the official certifications to maintain their polluting practices while keeping their reputations intact. This can include companies that refuse to reveal all their data to the public, continue to lie about their impacts, or make void claims about their products. This can be achieved through the use of terms like ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’, ‘low-impact’, and many more that don’t mean anything on their own. Without facts and quantitative data, these are just words that aim to cheat the label system and mislead consumers instead of adhering to official standards that rigorously evaluate data before handing out labels.

Lastly, it’s important to note that disposal labels such as ‘recyclable’ or ‘biodegradable’ aren’t all that useful depending on where they’re recycled. For many products in many countries, it’s unclear which parts of a product are recyclable and which are not. Differentiating the recyclable components would help individuals sort their waste more effectively.

There’s certainly a lot of work to do to improve labels on all types of products. Unfortunately, there’s not much individuals can do about that, except demand for better and clearer eco-labels to improve purchasing decisions and waste management systems worldwide.

The following criteria were identified by the One Planet Network as the 10 most important principles for better product labels.