If you’re not familiar with The Onion, you should really give it a look — it’s a fake news site that often actually does better at reporting the news and important issues of the day than… well… anyone else around. Some of its coverage on global warming, extreme weather, and our response to these issues absolutely rocks.
Yesterday, it published a piece on natural gas fracking that triggered a light-bulb moment in my head (well, actually, it was the title of the TreeHugger piece sharing it that did so — Thanks to Fracking, PR Industry is Booming). Basically, the implied points of the article and what immediately came to my mind upon reading that title are as follows:
- Natural gas fracking has an uphill battle to fight with the public because people are well aware of the health and environmental harms related to this process. Clearly, Oscar-nominated Gasland had no small part to play in that. But, also, it takes all of one minute to explain how natural gas threatens some of basic natural resources that we all need to live.
- Clean energy, as much as some folks are trying to make it look dirty, consistently has the support of the majority of the public (even in the U.S.) because people know that it is inherently better for us.
- OK, nothing new here, but the sort of “light-bulb moment” that this triggered was basically around the fact that clean energy has a tremendous resource behind it — public support — while natural gas production faces a serious ongoing challenge due to its multiple dirty secrets (and some of them really are secrets — natural gas companies won’t reveal the toxic chemicals they use in some parts of the fracking process). With a little more work, clean energy industries could really use that support to land a big energy-market checkmate, in my opinion.
But, enough chatter, here’s the brilliant Onion piece on natural gas fracking:
Fracking Industry Now Largest Employer Of Recent PR Graduates
SAN FRANCISCO—A new labor market study published Wednesday has found that oil companies with hydraulic fracturing interests have outpaced the tobacco industry, Wall Street, and the gun lobby to become the largest employer of recent college graduates with public relations degrees. “These days, media-savvy professionals who know how to publicize questionable scientific data in order to downplay the environmental dangers of forcing toxic fluids into the ground can pretty much write their own ticket,” said Bart Hobijn of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, adding that this year at least 2,500 graduating seniors will be put to work obfuscating the levels of carcinogens in groundwater. “And in the long term, the job demand will only increase. Fracking has become a high-growth sector in which there is an extraordinary amount of spinning to be done.” When asked how he enjoyed his new position with a Pittsburgh-based fracking operator, recently hired PR manager Matt Coleman said he believed the practice is a “safe, clean way to increase our natural gas reserves and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”
What a little bit of wit can do to nail an issue!
Fracking activist image via linh.m.do
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.