I enjoy hosting “conspiracy parties,” which involve a bunch of friends gathering together, eating snacks, and challenging mainstream notions about historical events or the way the world works. While some conspiracy theories are ludicrous and merely entertaining, others spark lively debate. After attending Joseph Howe’s 2014 Communicating Energy conference, I was inspired to make my next conspiracy party about climate change and the anti-fossil fuel movement. The mainstream notion is that global warming is a result of mankind’s CO2 emissions, and if you challenge this common assertion, you are automatically written off as a “denier.” Similarly, fossil fuels are widely viewed as “dirty energy.”
We began by watching YouTube videos. Some were of geologists talking about the earth’s climate over millions of years, others criticized the International Panel on Climate Change, and some discussed the origin and motivations of the environmental movement. The most shocking video was the “No Pressure” short film that was part of the 10:10 global warming mitigation campaign. This film graphically portrays people, including children, being blown to pieces if they weren’t on board with lowering carbon emissions. While one participant thought the video was humorous, the rest of the room agreed the video went too far.
I also decided we should watch Phelim McAleer’s documentary FrackNation, which I received at the Communicating Energy conference. FrackNation is a response to the documentary Gasland, which makes the point that fracking contaminates water and causes health problems. Whereas man-made global warming is considered a “done deal,” fracking is at least a controversial topic among the general public and in the media. But fracking still fits the conspiracy theme, as those opposed to fracking conspire with each other to see fracking stopped.
One friend brought a friend from Russia to the party who works in oil and gas. She was struck when FrackNation suggested Russia helps fund the anti-fracking movement, and she wasn’t convinced this was true. After the documentary was over, she videotaped herself in the room with us as we watched the Gazprom music video. Watch the video here - it’s fantastic. She insisted through her laughs that unless she took a video, her father would not believe that only a day and a half after arriving in Canada she wound up in someone’s basement watching the Gazprom song! To Russia’s credit, they are more proud of their oil and gas industry than apologetic.
At the end of the party, no one admitted to changing their stance on man-made global warming, whether they originally bought into the notion or not. Some people didn’t express an original stance and simply left saying the evening was “educational.” As long as I “planted a seed” and got people to critically think and acknowledge that what the media puts out is problematic and biased, I feel I did my job. Something new I learned personally that night is that Earth Day is Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. Speaking of anti-capitalism, we had a book draw for Peter Foster’s Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism, an extra copy of which I obtained at the Communicating Energy conference. It was an interesting and fun evening, and we can thank the Joseph Howe Institute for providing inspiration and materials for the party!
Brianna is a Master’s student in political science at the University of Calgary, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree. Her thesis examines the controversy surrounding provincial impaired driving legislation. Brianna carries out research and writes for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, as well as coordinates its internship program. She has had op-eds, some of which pertain to the oil industry, published in several Canadian newspapers, and she has written on municipal issues for the Manning Foundation. Brianna enjoys traveling, learning, and attending conferences. She also enjoys volunteering at a drop-in centre for at-risk youth in downtown Calgary. Soon she will be moving to Saskatchewan and getting married.