Virginia, Maryland, Delaware Electric Cooperatives Actively Push Climate Science Denialism

Virginia, Maryland, Delaware Electric Cooperatives Actively Push Climate Science Denialism


by Andy Schmookler

As customers of the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, we get the magazine Community Living (“published 10 times a year by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, and is distributed to over 490,000 homes”). The most recent issue contained a letter – the latest of many they’ve published questioning climate change – that so offended my wife (April Moore) that she prevailed upon me to write the magazine to protest. So I did, thus: 

In your Nov-Dec issue, you published a letter so chock full of the-earth-is-flat misconceptions that I am writing not to dispute the letter itself but to question why Cooperative Living would give space to such a misguided and misinformed letter on its pages.

I am referring to the letter that expresses outrage at the way the “false science” behind “climate-change myths” is being used as a “tyranny to control electric cooperatives.”

Now that

  • over 99 percent of scientists, all over the world, who know the most about the earth’s climate system are agreed about the scientific validity of the problem of man-made climate disruption (and never in history has there been a scientific “hoax” of anything like this magnitude);
  • 13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all been since the year 2000;
  • it is well-established that the impetus behind climate-change denial comes from a deliberate attempt to deceive the public and prevent action to meet this challenge – a campaign funded by the fossil fuel companies, including Exxon which has now been shown to have known the truth about the problem since the 1970s;

one would think that responsible citizens and organizations would want for us to get beyond the falsehoods contained in that letter, and move our discussion toward the question of how best to meet this major challenge.

Indeed, some major publications have adopted the policy of refusing to publish such demonstrable falsehoods. The Los Angeles Times, for example, decided on that course, declaring that “Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

But Cooperative Living has been publishing these science-denying messages regularly for years. Why? Do you publish every single letter you get, without exercising any editorial discretion?

One might reasonably suspect that the way you have consistently provided a forum for these messages is connected with your own strong connection with the fossil fuel world. Is that the reason?

It is understandable that a company would want to protect its short-term profits. But, when the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that the well-being of our children and grandchildren depends upon our acting responsibly now, one would hope that such a sense of responsibility will outweigh the power of corporate greed in a publication like Cooperative Living.