By Elise Konerza
Former and retired WCCO news anchor, Don Shelby, visited Minnesota State University, Mankato Monday evening during the Bioenergy Conference to speak about conservation in a new manner.
Attendees in the Ostrander Auditorium listened attentively as the idea of trust was presented. Coach was referred to as ideally a personal figure one can trust – and news anchor is really a position to be trusted.
Shelby surely had been added to the trust list after 45 years in the industry and 32 years as anchor, investigative reporter and environmental correspondent. His degree of confidence and trust is recognized on a national level.
“Coach will be on my headstone – I hope that will be true someday,” Shelby said as he addressed his introduction and the audience.
Shelby started his presentation with light humor, “I know, I need a hair cut, but I don’t give a damn, I’m 65 and I have been in a popularity contest for 45 years,” Shelby said.
Being in the public eye for an extensive amount of time had kept him from saying some important things on polarized subjects, he said. Saying biased information would lead to drawing the audience apart.
Seven years before retiring, Shelby said exactly what he believed. As a result, WCCO lost 20 percent of its ratings.
“Ratings means money, money means jobs,” Shelby said.
Shelby attributed a quote once said by Thomas Jefferson that claimed he would rather have newspapers than a government and that newspapers were the basis of all liberties in an informed government.
“I’ve worked 25 years as a journalist and the thing that is least important to me is your informed opinion, it is totally opposite of your own opinion,” Shelby said.
He noted that people tend to gravitate to people in the media who have their own belief system and tell those followers what to believe is true.
“The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is one of my favorite places in the world, I spend a lot of time there,” Shelby said.
According to the NREL, by 2050 80 percent of our automobile energy can be converted into using renewable resources. Shelby pauses and emphasized that first we need to agree there is a problem in order to solve it.
He said half of the American population does not believe there is a problem and are polarized not working on the problem. Eventually, 2050 will be pushed to 2080 and so forth it will not happen if people choose to remain stagnant.
In working with people to give facts, Shelby admits that the American population is lead to believe that there is an actual dispute.
Whether it is the pollution of fossil fuels, or the production coal – Shelby states that coal producers believe there is about 200 years of coal left in the United States. However, if a 2 percent increase were calculated to the usage rate in each year, only 50 years of coal would be left in the U.S.
Shelby said that public officials are trained in convincing no matter what you believed in equivalence to what legislatures are. Sometimes they are invested in doing what is right, while others are primarily focused in being re-elected, being liked and getting back in power.
Referring to the presidential debate, Shelby describes Obama as tired and Romney as animated. He said people don’t have an “informed opinion” because essentially political candidates are saying exactly what people want to hear.
“This has caused me great frustration and heartache,” Shelby said. “Even if we have the facts, if we shout them and prove them true, they’d rather believe their own opinion.”
Shelby said renewable energy is a major source that should have started 50 years ago. Yet, the U.S. Department of Defense receives continues to receive commission contending wars because, “we couldn’t agree on facts,” Shelby said.
Shelby continues his discourse with a long line of public officials in America and around the world that have deemed global warming as an evident and present issue. He identifies Iron Lady; Margaret Thatcher in addressing the United Nations that global warming requires “immediate action.”
“Bush put together a team, Congress made a team, they decided global warming exists – and that yes humans are responsible, they calculated the temperature humans produced,” Shelby said. “Then the Republicans and the House of Representatives decided not to fund the project because they didn’t like it and didn’t believe in it.”
Shelby said that in debates it is hard for an audience to know what you’re talking about, and many elevate to the opposite opposing side if the debated sides are not defended equally.
An ideology that was built upon by government officials was “Keep American’s confused,” Shelby said, “Well, the fossil fuel industry took that and ran.”
He said though there may not be enough science to make adequate decisions, “lets make them sound credible,” Shelby said.
“American’s for prosperity,” became the ultimate campaign.
“As entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers, you’re up against an assault on what you’re trying to make your living on,” Shelby said, addressing the audience.
Shelby figuratively spoke about an airplane flying to Disney World. Of 100 scientists, 98 deem the flight as unsafe and unable to make it to Disney World. Two scientists do not agree; one said it wouldn’t be as bad as the other 98 think, and one saying the plane will make it to Disney World.
“Wouldn’t that prevent you from putting your children on that plane?” Shelby said, “And then you find out that one is paid commission per seat occupancy by the plane company.”
Shelby said he could name a handful of people who are making Americans believe there is an actual debate.
He said that those who do not see global warming as an issue are using the same public relations agency that back Philip Morris, the nation’s leading cigarette manufacturer.
“No science has a public relations agency,” Shelby said, “There are intricacies in how we’re being bamboozled for political reasons, and why?”
Shelby said let’s get together and agree, that if there were a free market solution to this – no government money would have to be spent.
“But we can’t agree because it collides with what people believe,” Shelby said. “But what’s belief got to do with science? Belief ruins science, it just doesn’t work. It affects the outcome because you want it to be true.”
Shelby questioned how to bring the partisans together, when he realized they were already together. He found that both sides do agree and they don’t even know they agree. Putting what conservatives believe from most important to least important on an x-axis and y-axis graph, in comparison with liberals – the point at which both cross is the inflection point in agreement.
He said Romney said the word “inefficiency” 20 times during the first presidential debate.
Shelby’s parents’ were environmentalists that raised him in a Republican household. He continues with a list of great environmental presidents: Harrison, Garfield, Mckinley, and Nixon who even invented the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I’m glad they’re not here today to see what’s happened,” Shelby said.
Shelby asked the audience how many of their grandmother’s threw away a dress. Many replied with a shake of their head.
“Because of the depression, they knew what it was like to be bad,” Shelby said, “I wish I could communicate this more.”
Scientists do not have the capacity to learn to talk with human beings he said.
“Just as Romney’s take on inefficiency, just like my mother and father, I hate it,” Shelby said.
Shelby, a renowned conservative recently constructed a $1.25 million cottage-style home from the ground up with renewable resources.