In the past, professional climate deniers have done their job as rodeo clowns to distract the public from charging at fossil fuel companies for their responsibility for the climate crisis by, among other things, comparing climate activists to Nazis or Hitler.
For example, back in 2009, before the House of Lords sent him a cease and desist letter and he could still honorably use his inherited title, "Lord" Christopher Monckton called youth climate activists "Hitler Youth," and then performed an encore two years later by illustrating a quote from a climate economist with a giant swastika. A couple years after that, in 2014, William Happer (Trump's climate guy) said on CNBC, "The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler." Also in 2014, Roy Spencer published a blog post titled "Time to push back against the global warming Nazis."
For a while, it seems like folks learned their lesson as these incidents were huge embarrassments for their respective rodeo clowns, and we hadn't heard anything like it for a while. (Also possible that in the Trump years, the right no longer found the Nazi insult to be quite so insulting…)
But now a new clown has entered the rodeo, and oddly, it's someone who's usually a bit more buttoned up: A gas industry PR executive.
Kate Aronoff reported yesterday at the New Republic on a keynote speech at the recent annual North American Gas Forum, on the "defining moment" the methane industry is in, and what they might do about that.
"You might reasonably expect Adolf Hitler would not come up in such a presentation." Aronoff
wryly writes wry-tes. "You would be wrong."
Apparently John Davies, CEO of the eponymously named Davies Public Affairs, thought it would be a good idea to design, create, and share a slide of Neville Chamberlain shaking Adolf Hitler's hand, to illustrate how the industry doesn't push back on calls to ban methane. In the lead-up to the conference, he no doubt poured over the slides and his speech, perfecting the moment he would stand in front of people and say "We don't talk about how they're wrong. We don't talk about why," describing an industry that's spent more time and money on attacking the science of its harms than any other (with the potential exception of Big Tobacco).
"Are we appeasing those who call to ban us?" he asked, and answered that they instead "tell our positive story, which is so well accepted. So we don't become Neville Chamberlain. That is not a great place to be."
Sure, but an even worse place to be is in your public relations office, dodging requests from press to comment on why you compared people who don't want to die in a climate fire or flood to the man responsible for murdering of millions of Jewish people and others he didn't like.
Davies likely knows that now. In fact, he might have known it at the time, ending his presentation with "This is your moment to be bold."
And you gotta admit, it is pretty bold to compare people who'd rather not constantly inhale a steady leak of toxic gasses from their stove and risk it giving their children asthma to the man who orchestrated the Holocaust.
Still, we're guessing that the phones over at Davies Public Affairs aren't jammed up with new potential clients seeking John's advice….