Sunday, July 22, 2007

No warranty express or implied

Perhaps opinions on global warming and other critical ecological issues from such environmental savants as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fred Singer, Sean Hannity and the George C. Marshall Institute ought to bear a label explaining that these opinions come with no warranty express or implied. Such a label was suggested to me by a piece in David Orr's collection of essays entitled Earth in Mind.

About Rush Limbaugh Orr writes: "[I]f his view is wrong but acted on nonetheless, the consequences will be serious, and Mr. Limbaugh provides no warranty for buyers of his opinions that subsequently turn out to be defective." To this I would add that we ought to include a list of warnings and contraindications such as those which are now included in television commercials for prescription drugs--which warnings and contraindications usually make you think you'd be far better off not using the drug being advertised.

If such a label were to be included with broadcasts or in the introductions to printed pieces, naive television viewers, radio listeners and readers would be forced to evaluate whether their health and lives and that of their children, grandchildren, and all future spawn ought to be risked on a kind of ecological roulette offered by this group of environmental grandees.

I use the roulette analogy because science can only deal in probabilities. Likewise, their can be no certainty from these apologists for business-as-usual. So we are left with what the preponderance of evidence tells us, and it tells us in no uncertain terms that the vital signs of the Earth are in the danger zone and are moving further into that zone at a high rate of speed.

Of course, in a free society we do not want to impose a warranty or warning label on free speech, but we can respond to free speech that is designed to be intentionally confusing and misleading with clarity and where appropriate, a little ridicule. In this context, I offer (facetiously, in case anybody wasn't sure) the following proposed labeling for all environmental pronouncements including, to be fair and balanced, those that warn of ecological dangers ahead. The statement below might be used for television or radio, but could easily be adapted for written work:

Statement of Warranty


"We" and "our" refers to the conglomerated corporate media enterprises that currently maintain a virtual stranglehold on the airwaves. "You" and "your" refers to the hapless viewer or listener who has no control over such media and who relies at his or her peril on the information (or lack of information) provided by said media.

No Warranty Express or Implied

No warranty express or implied is made for any opinions provided to you concerning global warming, resource depletion, species extinction, pollution or any other environmental topic. No refunds, replacements, or compensation will be offered to those killed or injured or who experience loss of property (including household pets) or livelihood (including farming and ranching) as a result of any of the following:
  1. Rising sea levels.

  2. Violent storms.

  3. Food, fuel, mineral or fertilizer shortages.

  4. Water shortages.

  5. Drought.

  6. Deforestation.

  7. Disease resulting from toxic pollution or from the movement of tropical diseases to formerly temperate areas.

  8. Costs associated with loss of eco-services to human or animal populations whether known or unknown at the time of the utterance.

  9. Any other outcomes that can be linked to the diminished habitability of the biosphere.

  1. We bear no responsibility for the harm that may come to you or your heirs or assigns or to the biosphere at large even if our hosts or guests denied the existence of any such dangers or stated or implied that such dangers would be inconsequential.

  2. You are advised that our hosts or guests may receive compensation or sponsorship in the form of cash, gifts, free meals at expensive sushi bars and other restaurants, rides on corporate jets, luxury vacations disguised as seminars and fact-finding trips, and speaking fees as well as myriad other items from the fossil fuel, nuclear, automotive, electric utility, chemical and other industries. Some of our guests may also have received lucrative appointments requiring little work from nonprofit organizations supported by the industries above and/or that have a stake in pretending that human activities are neither a threat to the stability of the biosphere nor to the human societies that rely on that stability.

  3. You are further advised that our hosts or guests may have no recognized expertise or if they do have expertise, it is most likely in an area irrelevant to the matters being discussed.

  4. Disjointed, inconsistent, and intentionally deceptive arguments may be used by our hosts or guests and will result in no liability whatsoever for said hosts or guests or for our programs, our producers or staff, our network, or our affiliated stations. Such arguments are designed to make it appear that we are "practicing journalism."


Advice flowing from opinions that downplay present and future ecological dangers for humanity may be contraindicated when:
  1. You have children.

  2. You are planning to have children.

  3. You know any children.

  4. You are a child.

  5. You care about whether some (possibly more modest) form of modern, technical human culture can continue into the future.

Additional warnings

Conversely, if you follow any advice from hosts or guests that in any way helps create a more sustainable world, you are warned that you must take full responsibility for such results as:
  1. An increase in biodiversity.

  2. An increase in soil fertility.

  3. A decrease in toxic pollution.

  4. A decrease greenhouse gases.

  5. A more equitable distribution of wealth.

  6. Stronger local communities.

  7. Any development that leads to greater sustainability that results from your actions.

We cannot take any responsibility for such results though we'd like to if you turn out to be right about the need to move toward sustainability.

Further additional warnings

Neither we, nor our producers or staff, nor our affiliates, nor our parent company, nor the shareholders of our parent company, nor the regulators of our network or our parent company have ever or will ever take responsibility for anything said about the above mentioned environmental topics or any other environmental topic.

Consent to This Statement of Warranty

By viewing or listening to our programs you agree to all the terms of this Statement of Warranty. In the event that you do not agree with this Statement of Warranty, you are advised to turn off your television, radio, Internet connection to our server, or other method of viewing or listening to our programs and seek other outlets for information.

Questions or comments

If you have any questions or comments about this Statement of Warranty, Warnings, Contraindications, Additional Warnings or Further Additional Warnings, fuhgeddaboutit.

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