Fossil Fuel Disinformation Campaign Backfires and Goes Viral

March 20, 2015
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by Jake Anderson

Despite a veritable mountain of scientific data and the dramatic weather fluctuations that ordinary people are experiencing every day, the media-manufactured ‘debate’ over climate change continues to rage on. All the evidence in the world won’t deter the fossil fuel industry from implementing aggressive public relations campaigns to keep the United States–and other countries around the world–addicted to the very elements that are causing the damage.

Their latest offering is a Valentine’s Day cartoon warning about the losses the society will have to withstand if they give up fossil fuels. The cartoon as succeeded in going viral, but not with the impact its designers intended.

Manipulation and “Regrets”

The video, in animated form, tells the story of the “breakup” of a young man (society) with his true love (fossil fuels) and the hardship and emptiness he feels after the breakup, induced by lying, cruel friends (climate change activists). As a result of this ‘breakup,” his phone doesn’t work, his computer doesn’t work, his refrigerator and stove disappear. Even his clothing disappears into oblivion.

Of course, the video fails to acknowledge that other means are now available to procure these necessary items. Its bald-faced attempt at fear-mongering becomes strained and laughable. Nonetheless, it is the industry’s most recent attempt to persuade the public that they are inextricably linked to energy sources that are known to be hazardous to the environment and human health. It is disinformation and propaganda at its most sinister.

The Groups Behind the Effort

The video is a promotional ad from a group called Big Green Radicals, a division of the Environmental Policy Alliance. This group is known to be a front group for the PR firm, Berman & Company, headed by Richard Berman, former lawyer and lobbyist, who operates as a kind “hired gun” to oppose concerned citizen groups, environmental activists and a variety of political candidates.

Meet Richard Berman

Berman is careful to obscure his clients through a number of shadow non-profits, but he is known to be the power behind a number of PR efforts in opposition to popular political and social movements. Berman has previously led efforts to undermine the efforts of unions, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the Humane Society of the United States, which reveals the ruthlessness of this man who has been nicknamed, “Dr. Evil.” Berman is known for his calculated misinformation and tapping into public fears to de-rail social movements.

Berman Tactics

Part of the evil genius of Richard Berman is to put together an argument against these social movements that serves to confuse and mislead the public. He employs a strategy of “edited facts” that support an opposition argument, and reaches deep into the dark recesses of the human subconscious to dredge up doubt and fears over change. The tactics have earned him a place in “America’s Ruling Class Hall of Shame,” according to one writer for the Huffington Post.


With the industry’s billions of dollars in profit to sustain their anti-climate-change message and a talent for emotional manipulation of the public’s fears, ad agencies will continue to spread doubt about the viability of alternative fuel sources, despite the obvious viability and social and environmental utility of these methods. Clearly, a counter-campaign to keep alternative energy progress in the public eye is needed in order to undermine such underhanded propaganda campaigns.


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