It’s all sensation v substance

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iol scitech june 23 al gore pic AP Former US Vice President Al Gore's activism on climate change earned him no less than a Nobel Peace Prize and made him the darling of environmentalists the world over.

John Harvey says many causes are rooted not in any philanthropic calling, but the nefarious greed of those whose “faces” power the brand.

Money makes the world go round, as the saying goes. Perhaps - provided by “world” you mean narcissistic fear-mongers, and by “round” the size of their ever-expanding wallets fuelled by ill-gotten cash flows.

Or at least, that is very much the perception of global figures who purport to be doing things for the “greater good”, yet have been pulling a fast one on millions for years in the pursuit of the Mighty Dollar.

I have long held the suspicion that many of the causes that abound today are rooted not in any philanthropic calling, but the nefarious greed of those who provide a “face” to them, and increasingly this is being born out by factual evidence.

Take Al Gore, for example. A former vice-president to Bill Clinton’s vices (and occasional duties as a world leader), Gore’s activism on climate change earned him no less than a Nobel Peace Prize and made him the darling of environmentalists the world over.

Yet, to all intents and purposes, his “work” and award-winning documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth are the biggest cons of early 21st century history.

On December 14, it was five years to the day that Gore claimed that the “entire north polar ice cap will be gone in five years”. The assured prediction formed much of the basis of his crusade against climate change and the terrible humans responsible.

However, as it currently stands the Arctic sea ice is within a standard deviation of the “normal” line, and global sea ice is actually above normal.

Yet while pyramid scheme King Tuts, like Bernie Madoff, rightly rot away for their confidence tricks, Gore goes unpunished, free to spend the millions he has made off a very convenient - and overly credulous - public who are duped by his bleeding heart brand of spin.

Another example emerged this week, when US teacher John Cisna revealed that he had debunked the claims made by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock in the McDonald’s-bashing documentary Super Size Me.

The film sought to show how eating fast food for a month resulted in severe health repercussions for people, in this case Spurlock himself.

But in a startling study of his own, Iowa science teacher Cisna, who spent 90 days eating only at McDonald’s, not only saw an improvement in his health, but a decrease in weight and cholesterol.

 

By adding 30 to 45 minutes a day of walking and monitoring a “balanced diet” he lost a total of almost 17kg.

What both these cases show is that while Gore and Spurlock, who have become household names in their respective fields, claim to be conducting hard-hitting investigations that will benefit their fellow man, their own theories are largely baseless and are rather geared towards their own acclaim.

The problem with this of course is not that they are misleading the public on the grandest of scales, but that their success will spur on others to do the same.

That unfortunately is the world in which we live: a case of sensation over substance.

Causes and creating awareness are all very well, but how often do we see the core issue fade into the background as a Bono or Geldof or any one of the other celebrities hogs the limelight?

Why should dengue fever that still kills thousands in south-east Asia every year play second fiddle to Aids or Sudan’s starving, just because there is not a Clooney or Jolie attached to it?

There was a time when having these personalities helped to create awareness, but today their support for one or other issue might as well be built into their contracts as a cause clause.

The real heroes are the ones on the ground, everyday folk who don’t wave placards or wear ribbons to show they care, but actually do things without asking a cent in return.

Garden Route Media



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