Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Greta Thunberg – Master of Self-marketing

Once again Greta Thunberg has demonstrated her PR genius. She just met a researcher from neighboring Norway for a conversation on the border between their two countries. And Greta didn’t waste any time posting the pictures of their meeting on Twitter and Instagram. In one of the photos, the two are seen greeting each other by touching their right feet together over the Morokulien border crossing – without physically entering the other’s country.

According to Thunberg, she was interviewing the climate and environmental scientist Per Espen Stoknes for an upcoming BBC documentary series. However, because she was not allowed to enter Norway, she and Stoknes decided to stay on their own sides of the Swedish-Norwegian border.

Greta Thunberg is without a doubt one of those very rare individuals with an almost unique talent for self-marketing, although much controversy surrounds the role she played in developing her distinctive PR strategy and how much of her rise to global fame she owes to her mother and professional PR consultants.

Distinctive brand identity and positioning

Like other masters of self-marketing before her, Greta Thunberg has turned her hair into an unmistakable visual trademark. Donald Trump has his outrageous, shiny golden combover; fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld had his powdered braid; and Albert Einstein’s hair underscored his image as the quintessential nutty professor. And Greta? She has her pigtails.

Hardly any young women still choose to wear their hair in pigtails at the age of 17. Greta’s pigtails are designed to emphasize her childlike nature, as is her slight figure and the fact that she refuses to wear make-up. Her famous outburst of anger when she addressed the United Nations was also a key element of her self-stylization – she spoke more like a fuming child than an adult: “How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Her childlike aspect is important because she wants to speak for the children of this world who have had their lives and their futures stolen from them by adults.

She stylizes herself to an unbending idealist, that is her positioning. Her motto could well be the words traditionally attributed to Martin Luther: “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Even her harshest critics credit her idealism, as if idealism were something to be admired. After all, history is full of idealists who did more harm than good.

Perfectly staged PR

Greta Thunberg’s PR image is so perfect that her critics seek to portray her as nothing more than a puppet controlled by professional PR consultants. No one could deny that she is supported by a team of PR professionals, but it still remains to be seen whether she was “made” by them or has her own natural talent for self-marketing. In reality, it is probably a mixture of both.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Greta always manages to produce perfect pictures for her public relations campaign, just like when she set off for the United Nations climate summit in New York on September 23, 2019, to warn the world of its impending doom. As the world’s leading eco-evangelist, she did not fly, she set sail on the ocean-going yacht Malizia II. It was a powerful media spectacle of global proportions: the fragile child plunging into the life-threatening Atlantic currents to prevent the apocalypse at the very last minute. There was no question her voyage would dominate the front pages and grab the headlines around the world.

Turning weaknesses into strengths

In any case, an adept PR strategy involves skilfully recasting obvious weaknesses as strengths. Just like the self-marketing genius Stephen Hawking, who embraced his disability (ALS) as a core component of his marketing strategy (the cover of his bestseller depicted him in a wheelchair), Greta incorporates her own disability as a central feature of her self-promotion. It is widely known that she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and she is completely open about her condition: “I have Asperger’s syndrome, and to me, almost everything is black or white.” But what Greta and her supporters have done is transform a weakness into a strength. When a reporter asked her whether living with Asperger’s syndrome made her life more difficult she responded by saying that her autism “means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.” On her Twitter bio, she originally described herself as a “15 year old climate activist with Asperger’s.”

All of this became part of the Greta Thunberg story and was enthusiastically communicated by her sympathetic supporters in the media. As one paediatric psychiatrist explained in an interview: “Without Asperger’s, she would never have made it this far. Let’s not forget, teenagers do not normally focus so narrowly on a single topic; they are usually highly animated and easily distracted by a host of different influences. But Greta has a kind of tunnel vision, she focuses entirely on this one topic. People are aware of climate change, but don’t really do anything about it. At the same time, Asperger’s sufferers can’t stand contradictions, so Greta cannot understand why people are not doing more. And that’s also why she is so unflinching and stubborn.”

Surrounding yourself with celebrities

Like others who want to become famous, Greta likes to surround herself with celebrities. She meets Hollywood stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger, statesmen like Barack Obama and other leading figures from the worlds of business, politics and show business. By doing so, she is again exploiting a proven PR strategy that has been knowingly used again and again by other masters of self-marketing – from Andy Warhol and Oprah Winfrey to Kim Kardashian – to strengthen their own brands. And even when she doesn’t actually meet someone – Donald Trump, for example – she turns not wanting to meet them into a huge PR story. And hardly anyone bothers to mention the fact that Trump would never have agreed to meet her anyway. Despite their differences, as masters of the art of self-publicity, Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg have more in common than one might think.

A desire to provoke, a focus on publicity stunts that produce a constant stream of stories and images, an ability to redefine weaknesses as strengths and integrate this into a coherent PR story, and finally an appreciation of the value of visual trademarks (e.g. the pigtails) as a key component of a successful positioning strategy – these are all characteristics of highly professional self-marketing.

Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. His book Die Kunst, berühmt zu werden – Genies der Selbstvermarktung von Albert Einstein bis Kim Kardashian (English: The Art of Becoming Famous – Geniuses of Self-Marketing from Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian) has just been published in Germany. Zitelmann was the owner and managing director of one of Germany’s leading PR agencies for 15 years.


FDA Approves Salmon as First GMO Animal Fit for Food Supply

The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light on Nov. 19 for genetically engineered salmon to be sold to consumers. AquaBounty’s application to sell its quick-growing salmon was finally approved 20 years after initially being filed.

Whereas plant-based genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are already common in the U.S. food supply chain, the FDA had yet to approve a genetically modified animal—until now.

“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted … regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

The FDA stated that AquaBounty’s salmon was found to be as nutritious as regular, nongenetically modified Atlantic salmon, and that the agency found no “biologically relevant differences” between the two.

AquaBounty combines growth hormone genes from Pacific salmon with DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eel-like ocean pout to create a fish that produces growth hormones year round and thus grows faster than natural varieties. The AquAdvantage Salmon still reaches the same size when mature.

Lack of Labeling

In a 2013 New York Times poll, three-quarters of Americans said they wouldn’t eat genetically modified fish.

Despite obvious discomfort with the idea, it’s likely many consumers who are against the practice may end up buying it anyway.

Currently, labeling of GMO products is voluntary, and the CEO of AquaBounty told the Washington Post that the company will most likely label the genetically modified fish as regular “Atlantic salmon” because selling the only GMO fish on the market would be a “dangerous” marketing decision.

The same poll found that 93 percent of Americans support labeling of GMO products, but efforts to legislate mandatory labeling have stalled. Ballot measures to make GMO labeling obligatory have successively failed in California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.

Meanwhile, Congress is working on legislation that will pre-emptively stop individual states from requiring food suppliers to label GMO products, with the stated purpose of preventing the creation of a patchwork of state regulations that could disrupt the food supply and raise prices.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act was passed in the House with bipartisan support in July, and expects to enjoy a similar level of support in the Senate.

The bill has been dubbed the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know, by its critics.

President Obama has been reticent about the issue, although on the campaign trail in 2007 he said that every American should have to right to know if their food is genetically modified.

FDA Approval Denounced

The FDA’s approval of genetically modified salmon was roundly denounced by anti-GMO activists.

The main concern is that GMO salmon could escape into the wild and threaten existing salmon populations.

AquaBounty maintains that no such risk exists because all its fish are female and sterile, and physically stored in facilities on land. But Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization that’s been campaigning against what it calls “Frankenfish,” said that once the salmon is approved, it becomes much easier to change farming practices down the road.

Friends of the Earth said that more than 60 grocery chains in the country have promised not to carry GMO salmon, including Safeway, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. In August, Costco made headlines when it refused to sign the pledge.

“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon.” Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

The organization warns that FDA approval of the salmon will set a precedent for the 35 other species of genetically modified fish in development, as well as similarly modified chickens, pigs, and cows.


Bishops Tout ‘European Green Deal’ as Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

The Catholic bishops of the European Union (COMECE) have endorsed the European Green Deal as an “underpinning strategy” for a continent-wide plan of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ecological justice” must be at the core of Europe’s response to the pandemic, the bishops stated in a position paper Wednesday, because the coronavirus outbreak “has revealed both our dependence as well as our disastrous impact on a heavily fragile eco-system.”

“A virus that causes a lung disease made us realise that we cannot live healthy on a sick and polluted planet,” the bishops said.

“We should acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to the larger socio-ecological crisis that has become increasingly visible to us through climate change, biodiversity loss and its devastating consequences on the most vulnerable,” they said, while urging the EU to “seize this moment as an opportunity to work for radical change.”

“We therefore welcome the Commission’s proposal to integrate the European Green Deal as an underpinning strategy into the recovery plan and call upon EU member states to translate their pledges towards climate neutrality and the care for the environment into tangible actions that will spur ecological conversion in Europe,” they said.

“This pandemic should be proof for us that urgent action is needed,” the bishops added.

In rolling out the European Union’s proposed €750 billion pandemic recovery fund Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the recovery plan “turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization.”

The European Commission has said that 25 percent of the EU’s updated seven-year €1 trillion budget proposal and €750 billion recovery plan will be set aside for climate action.

Last December Ms. von der Leyen called the Green Deal Europe’s “man on the Moon moment,” aimed at making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

According to the European Commission, “climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world” and therefore Europe needs to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and decouple economic growth from resource use.

“The European Green Deal is our roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable,” the EC declares. “This will happen by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.”

The progressive leader of the European bishops’ conferences, Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, has stated his belief that climate change is the most urgent problem facing humanity.

Backing up Pope Francis’ call for “ecological conversion,” the cardinal says that he buys fair-trade coffee instead of Nespresso, no longer uses plastic bottles, and has changed his diesel car for a hybrid one.

“We bishops have to change our lifestyle, and if we older people succeed in doing it, then the younger ones can do it too,” he said. “But if I cannot change my own lifestyle, how can I say to young people to do so?”

In late 2018, Hollerich signed an appeal calling on government leaders to take immediate action to overcome the “devastating effects of the climate crisis.”

The appeal called for keeping global warming below 1.5º C as well as a shift toward sustainable lifestyles, respect for indigenous communities, and the implementation of a “financial paradigm shift” in line with global climate accords.

This entails “putting an end to the fossil fuel era and transitioning to renewable energy” as well as rethinking the agriculture sector to ensure it provides healthy and accessible food for everyone, with a special emphasis on promoting agroecology, the appeal said.

Following last year’s European elections, Hollerich said he was delighted with the successes of green parties while lamenting the rise of populist-nationalist groups.

“It is positive that in several places numerous young people voted for ecological parties, which means that the themes of environment and creation can become important in the future,” Hollerich said, noting that “as a Church” the victory of the green parties “makes us happy.”


The Australian Press Council Is A Hive Of Climate Zealots

By Prof. Ian Plimer, geologist

As a result of an activist campaign, the Australian Press Council took exception to my article in The Australian on November 22, 2019.

They claimed that my statement that there “are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black. Such terms are deliberately misleading, as are many claims” was false.

Journalists in the Press Council should know basic English and the difference between an element (carbon) and a compound (carbon dioxide).

This is elementary schoolkid’s science. For the Press Council to claim that this is factually incorrect shows breathtaking ignorance.

There are eight forms (allotropes) of carbon, one of them (diamond) is not black which is why the word ‘most’ was used. I was showing that to call the odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is the food of life as ‘carbon emissions’ is Orwellian.

The Press Council objected to the use of ‘fraudulent’ in my statement about ‘fraudulent changing of weather records’.

It is clear that the council is not aware of the widely publicized fraudulent expunging of the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age by Michael Mann and failed court cases initiated by Mann. They are clearly not aware of the admission of fraud in the Climategate emails.

The Press Council wrote, “The Council considers that the statement concerning the Bureau of Meteorology fraudulently changing weather records is one of fact and implies an element of dishonesty or deception on its part.”

I made absolutely no reference whatsoever to the Bureau of Meteorology. I have been verballed. When can I expect an apology?

It was claimed that my statement, “unsubstantiated claims polar ice is melting,” was wrong. Polar ice concurrently melts, grows and moves and polar ice includes terrestrial ice and sea ice.

Changes in polar ice are due to a diversity of reasons and my point was that we only hear from activists who claim that polar ice is melting due to human-induced global warming.

We don’t hear that glaciers move due to recrystallization, that many glaciers are growing, or that there are more than 150 volcanoes and areas of hot rocks beneath the Antarctic ice.

The Press Council claimed that my statement “the ignoring of data that shows Pacific islands and the Maldives are growing rather than being inundated” was false.

There is a huge amount of scientific literature based on aerial photographs and satellite images showing that atolls are increasing in the area.

A ten-second Google search would have shown peer-reviewed publications supporting this statement. Why was this not done? Or maybe the Press Council has become yet another activist institution?

As soon as the words carbon footprint, emissions, pollution, and decarbonization, climate emergency, extreme weather, unprecedented and extinction are used, I know I am being conned by ignorant activists, populist scaremongering, politicians, and rent-seekers.

Pollution by plastics, sulfur and nitrogen gases, particulates, and chemicals occurs in developing countries. That’s real pollution. The major pollution in the West is the polluting of minds about the role of CO2.

There are no carbon emissions. If there were, we would not be able to see because most carbon is black. Such terms are deliberately misleading, as are many claims.

But then again, we should be used to this after the hysteria about the Great Barrier Reef. We’ve had reefs on Earth for 3,500 million years.

They came and went many times, thriving when water was warmer and there was an elevated CO2 content of the atmosphere. Reefs need CO2; it’s their basic food.

It has never been shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming. Climate models have been around 30 years. They have all failed.

Balloon and satellite measurements show a disconnect from climate model predictions. We emit a trace atmospheric gas called carbon dioxide at a time in the planetary history of low atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Earth’s climate dances to rhythms every day, every season and on far larger lunar, oceanic, solar, orbital, galactic, and tectonic cycles.

Climate change is normal and continual. When cycles overlap, climate change can be rapid and large. Sporadic events such as supernovas and volcanic eruptions can also change the climate.

The main greenhouse gas is water vapor. It is the only gas in air that can evaporate, humidify, and condense into clouds that precipitate rain, hail, and snow. Earth is unevenly heated. Oceans hold most of the planet’s surface heat, not the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is plant food. It is neither a pollutant nor a toxin. Without carbon dioxide, all life on Earth would die.

Plants convert carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight during photosynthesis into sugars, cellulose, fruit, vegetables, and grains, which animal life uses as food. Marine organisms also take up and use carbon dioxide.

Plants need almost three times today’s carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere to thrive. For decades horticulturalists have pumped carbon dioxide into glasshouses to increase yields.

The fossil record shows that a thriving and diversification of plant and animal life occurred every time the atmosphere had a very high carbon dioxide content.

In the past, warming has never been a threat to life on Earth. Why should it be now? When there is a low atmospheric carbon dioxide content, especially during very cold times, life struggles.

For the last 500 million years, the atmospheric carbon dioxide content has been decreasing, and if we halved today’s atmospheric carbon dioxide content, all life would die.

This carbon dioxide has been removed into the oceans and is sequestered into coral, shells, limey sediments, and muds and on the land into coals, muds, soils, and vegetation.

In our lifetime, there has been no correlation between CO2 emissions and temperature. Geology shows us again there is no correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature.

Each of the six major past ice ages began when the atmospheric CO2 content was far higher than at present. The idea that a slight increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to unstoppable global warming is demonstrably wrong.

In the past decade, China has increased its CO2 emissions by 53 percent, 12 times Australia’s total output of 1.3 percent of the global total. The grasslands, forests, farms, and continental shelves of Australia absorb far more carbon dioxide than we emit.

The attack on emissions of the gas of life is an irrational attack on industry, our modern way of life, freedoms, and prosperity. It has nothing to do with the environment.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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