Environmentalism is hip, green celebrities are “very sexy” and saving the planet is “simple,” according to the media.
The deluge of celebrity books, films and even rock concerts is making green look good – because journalists leave out the cost to individuals, businesses and the economy.
A June 19 Reuters story said Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts will be “as green as possible,” but left out the point that not putting on seven concerts on different continents would be a whole lot “greener.”
“Going green” is all the rage – from Live Earth to “green” weddings and interior decorating. The problem is, media reports imply that people won’t have to make enormous sacrifices to do what is right for the environment. That downplays the reality of environmentalism, which is anti-business and anti-economic growth; even, at times, anti-human rights.
If These Aren’t Extremists, We Don’t Know Who Is
Many environmentalists support extreme measures that will cost ordinary citizens tax dollars, create inconvenience and limit technological and industrial advancement. In one recent case, environmentalists have even limited people’s right to travel in their own country.
ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” on June 19 told the tale of Americans Doug and Kristine Tompkins, who purchased 800,000 acres of “magnificent” wilderness in the South American country of Chile – to keep it pristine forever.
Reporter Jeffrey Kofman spun the story in the couple’s favor, focusing on the beauty of the park and the way Chileans are won over once they visit it, instead of emphasizing the problem it created.
The wilderness area, named Pumalin, bisects the narrow country of Chile from east to west, which means Chileans have to ferry around the park or travel through Argentina, because the Tompkins will not allow a road and power lines to be run through the park.
A Chilean member of Parliament told ABC News, “Tompkins’philosophy in my opinion is extreme. To the point that nothing can be touched, nothing can be changed.”
But mankind’s effect on the earth has become paramount in mass media, and extreme ideas are creeping into public policy.
In Britain, “[m]inisters want a slop bucket for food waste to be placed in every kitchen under their latest plan to generate green electricity,” reported the May 20 Sunday Times. “The rules will oblige some homes to sort rubbish into five containers – or potentially risk fines.”
Then of course there are the calls for reducing carbon emissions. The left-wing environmental group Greenpeace has called for an 80-percent cut by 2050. Such drastic mandates would affect every aspect of American life, from driving cars to heating homes and all sorts of energy use in between.
Still, activists talk more about impact on the earth than impact on people.
“No room for compromise on this, incrementalism is for tax fights and trade disputes,” wrote Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando on his blog. “On global warming we must do what the best scientific concensus says we must do and that is the 80% reductions by 2050.”
Rarely do the media call radical environmentalism what it is or ask how much such measures would cost citizens, businesses and the economy.
Media Champion ‘Sexy’ Cause
The media have been abuzz for months about making “green” decisions and fawning over everyone who does.
Weatherman Sam Champion has been leading the green campaign with regular segments on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
In January, he hosted an “It’s Cool to be Green” series. In one episode, he praised “green” celebrity activists like Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom and Cameron Diaz, calling them “a young, elite, and very sexy group.”
On June 14, Time magazine named Michael Bloomberg, the formerly-Republican mayor of New York City, and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California “New Action Heroes” because of their “socially liberal” positions including climate change. The odd couple was featured on the magazine’s cover.
NBC’s “Today” show has also been on the green bandwagon. On May 17, Ann Curry pedaled a “People-powered blender” in order to mix up a smoothie with Ben & Jerry’s Jerry Greenfield. After some technical difficulties, Curry successfully pedaled the stationary bike to blend the drink.
“You see, you can save the environment! It is possible,” she exclaimed. No one in the segment pointed out that powering your own blender by bicycle is inconvenient, time-consuming and impractical. It is doubtful that Ben & Jerry’s uses that method to create its own line of ice cream.
It’s Not Extreme, It’s Idyllic
The media downplay the radical side of environmentalism. ABC and The New York Times both lauded the “No Impact” experiment without making it sound extreme.
Colin Beavan is the “No Impact Man.” He, his wife and daughter are striving to have no negative impact on the planet for an entire year by not doing many everyday things like using electricity, eating out, buying anything in packaging, or using toilet paper.
Beavan was flatteringly portrayed on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “Nightline” on May 10, with weatherman Sam Champion giving only a slight nod to his extremism.
“The rules may seem a little extreme,” said Champion on “Good Morning America.” Since when is going without toilet paper only a “little” extreme? Co-host Diane Sawyer then gushed over Beavan’s lifestyle.
But it isn’t exactly a lifestyle. Beavan’s family is doing a project for one year, and he is turning it into a book – which will presumably be printed, bound, shipped and sold. Not once did ABC point out that hypocrisy.
But what environmentalists really want is for us to stop flying, driving and living in cities – which would end airlines, car manufacturers, oil companies and the economy overall.
“[T]raveling is so environmentally destructive that there is no such thing as a genuinely ethical holiday,” reported the Guardian (U.K.) on May 6 in an article titled “Travel: The New Tobacco.” Amelia Hill was expressing the opinion of Mark Ellingham, the founder of Rough Guides, who also called for a green tax on all flights.
Paul Watson, the founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and co-founder of Greenpeace, said on May 4 that “[w]e are killing our host the planet Earth.”
Watson also called for a decrease in the global population to less than 1 billion – which would require eliminating 5.5 billion lives – including an end to communities larger than 20,000 people, and sea travel exclusively by sail.
Essentially, Watson’s rant called for a return to primitive lifestyles: “We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles. The Mennonites survive without cars and so can the rest of us.”
Not Counting the Cost
As if not being able to fly or drive wouldn’t be bad enough, the media also don’t stop to ask about the price tag of cutting emissions.
The Kyoto treaty, which the U.S. Senate rejected 95 to 0, would have required a reduction in greenhouse gases of 15 percent to 20 percent below 1990 levels.
“People cannot simply turn up their air conditioner thermostats to 72 degrees from 70, or replace 75 watt light bulbs with 60 watt bulbs. Instead, the proposed Kyoto accord will require drastic reductions in every aspect of people’s every day lives,” Smith continued.
If a 15- to 20-percent cut would change lives and have such dramatic costs, the 80-percent cut advocated by Greenpeace and the League of Conservation Voters would have an even greater impact: economic devastation.
“[E]nvironmentalism seeks the destruction of the energy base of the modern world, along with the elimination or radical reduction in the supply of all goods and services that depend on that energy,” wrote George Reisman, a professor emeritus of economics at Pepperdine University.
What services are dependent on that energy? Reisman mentioned air conditioners, cars, planes, housing, food, clothing, refrigerators, TVs, phones, and many other goods and services in his May 23 Mises Institute article.
An 80-percent reduction would require a “94 percent reduction in per capita US carbon dioxide emissions” which, because of environmental opposition to hydro-power and nuclear power, would result in economic devastation, according to Reisman.
The media haven’t yet investigated whether everyone would have to limit exhaling carbon dioxide in order to achieve such a “green” goal.