Lakewood City Councilmember shares climate denial article

Ramey Johnson sent story to council and staff on verge of election campaign

Posted 7/19/19

Lakewood City Councilmember Ramey Johnson applauded Lakewood’s annual report on its sustainability plan, which includes a section about fighting climate change, saying that it shows a lot of people …

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Lakewood City Councilmember shares climate denial article

Ramey Johnson sent story to council and staff on verge of election campaign

Posted

Lakewood City Councilmember Ramey Johnson applauded Lakewood’s annual report on its sustainability plan, which includes a section about fighting climate change, saying that it shows a lot of people care about the environment and planet, including herself.

But ahead of a July 15 presentation about the report, she sent out an email link to an article claiming manmade climate change doesn’t exist to the city council, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, City Manager Kathy Hodgson and Lakewood Sustainability Manager Jonathan Wachtel.

“Please be open to all perspectives,” Johnson wrote in the email.

The article's author is anonymous, instead using the name and persona of Tyler Durden, a fictional character from the movie “Fight Club.” It was published on ZeroHedge, a blog that says it "aims to liberate oppressed knowledge, provide analysis uninhibited by political constraint, facilitate information unending quest for freedom, to widen the scope of financial," as well as "skeptically examine and attack the flaccid financial journalism institution."

CNN once said the blog “offers a deeply conspiratorial, anti-establishment and pessimistic view of the world.”

Scientific institutions including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say human activity is a significant factor in rapid changes to the planet's climate based on numerous studies.

Durden’s article cites a June study from the University of Turku in Finland that claims there is no substantial human-caused climate change.

Climate Feedback, a nonprofit that verifies scientific claims, including ones involving climate change, criticized the study, claiming it fails to provide correct physical explanation and that it has flawed reasoning and inadequate support.

Johnson, who kicked off her mayoral campaign earlier this week, learned about Durden’s article through her husband. She acknowledged that she didn’t completely go through it and added that if she could go back, she would’ve read into it more.

“I’m a strong advocate that I try to read both sides of things. I passed it on in good faith that people would glance it and come to their own conclusion,” said Johnson. “It doesn’t mean you have to say it’s a good or bad (article). In fairness, it’s okay to share things. Truly, it was done in good faith just to give the rest of council another article.”

City's stance on sustainability   

Lakewood’s sustainability plan is a document that was adopted in 2015 that outlines ways the city can improve its social, environmental and economic conditions. Part of this year’s annual report of the plan includes a section titled “A Call to Climate Change” in which it describes a call to action about the topic as “urgent.”

“Our (sustainability) division is really charged with working across (Lakewood) to ensure that the decisions and programs and policies we put in place now don’t comprise the ability of future generations to realize a high quality of life,” said Wachtel.  

Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist and the director of climate science for the Climate & Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, feels that success stories centered around how communities save money when they institute sustainable practices, like those proposed in Lakewood's sustainability plan, are underreported.

Research from the Institute for Local Government, a nonprofit research education that works to promote good government at the local level, backs up Ekwurzel’s claim.

According to a report from the nonprofit, sustainability practices generate savings to residents and businesses through reduced expenditures like water, energy, gas and other resources. When that happens, those savings go toward supporting local investments and economic activity, according to the report.

“Sustainable plans are the economic engines of the future,” said Ekwurzel. She explained that the more people know about climate change, the more they want to be part of the solution, not the problem that causes it. Ekwurzel believes those same people will be attracted to sustainable communities where they can raise their children and work and live in.  

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