NBC 'Green with Envy' Over Swedes for 'Showing Kindness to Planet'

Monday's NBC Nightly News kicked off “Earth Week” by trumpeting Sweden as an environmental and economic paradise that could point the way for the United States. Anchor Brian William contended Swedes “always seem to be so happy and beautiful” and now “there's another reason to be green with envy about the Swedes. We're told they are living green lives, showing kindness to the planet, and saving a ton of energy in the process.” Sweden certainly enchanted reporter Anne Thompson who rode a bicycle in Stockholm and gushed:
Sweden's official colors are blue and yellow, but it lives green -- from the citizens who can eat the fish from waterways in Stockholm to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who rules the land and drives an ethanol-powered car.
Thompson focused on how the nation is researching “gasified wood” and putting people onto bicycles. Plus, “alternatives like the fuel made from organic waste that powers this train.” Highlighting that “to reduce traffic, Swedes pay to drive in the business district,” Thompson concluded by touting how “Sweden's most important export” is “real world ways to live green.”

Preceding Thompson's story, NBC Nightly News viewers were treated to a promo playing on the name of the corporate parent, NBC-Universal, and championing the network's activist agenda (which was also displayed by NBC making the MSNBC.com logo green on screen):
Green is Universal. Earth Week. NBC News is committed to making our world a better place to live, changing our future, shaping our planet, one story at a time. On air, on cable, online, everywhere, this week, NBC News.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the final story on the Monday, April 21 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Have you ever noticed whenever you see those stories about which people are the most contented around the globe, whenever they profile the Swedes, they always seem to be so happy and beautiful? Now there's another reason to be green with envy about the Swedes. We're told they are living green lives, showing kindness to the planet, and saving a ton of energy in the process. Here is our chief environmental affairs correspondent, Anne Thompson.

ANNE THOMPSON: Sweden's official colors are blue and yellow, but it lives green -- from the citizens who can eat the fish from waterways in Stockholm to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who rules the land and drives an ethanol-powered car. Can the rest of the world learn from Sweden?

KING CARL XVI GUSTAF, SWEDEN: If you are willing to, yes.

THOMPSON: To learn, the world travels through Sweden's forest to its living green laboratory Vaxjo. A city of nearly 79,000, it is a pioneer in green living, cutting its carbon emissions by 30 percent per person in the last 15 years while still growing its economy. The crown jewel, its power plant that once burned oil.

What does this big pile do? What is it used for?

LARS EHRLEN, VEAB HEAT AND POWER MANAGER: This pile is our fuel for our district heating and electricity production.

THOMPSON: Wood waste goes from truck to conveyor belt to boiler. Though they need 30 times more wood waste than oil, it only costs one-fifth the price and produces near zero carbon emissions.

EHRLEN: We think that we, by doing this, will not increase the greenhouse effect.

THOMPSON: Because Sweden has no oil of it own, scientists like Anders Bowden (sp?) are trying to turn wood into synthetic fuel.

How long will it take before cars in Sweden can run on gasified wood?

ANDERS BOWDEN, SCIENTIST: I would say within ten years.

THOMPSON, RIDING A BICYCLE: In time to meet Sweden's goal to be fossil fuel free by 2020. But even here in Europe's greenest city, some ways of life are much harder to change, like trying to convince people to ride on two wheels instead of four. Mayor Bo Frank thinks he knows how.

BO FRANK, MAYOR OF VAXJO, SWEDEN: You live with the whip and the carrot. The whip is to make it more expensive to use fossils, and the carrot to make it more inexpensive to use alternatives.

THOMPSON: Alternatives like the fuel made from organic waste that powers this train. Why are Swedes so open to the idea of renewable fuel?

BERTIL CARLSON, SVENKBIOGAS TRAIN PROJECT DIRECTOR: We love the nature. We love what we have around us.

THOMPSON: Even in Stockholm, green works. To reduce traffic, Swedes pay to drive in the business district. A three-mile pedestrian mall runs through the heart of the city. Here it is a way of life, even at the royal palace.

KING CARL XVI GUSTAF: We are not perfect, but we can exchange knowledge and experience and technique.

THOMPSON: Creating, perhaps, Sweden's most important export, real world ways to live green.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN RIDING BICYCLE: Unbeatable biofuel.

THOMPSON: Anne Thompson, NBC News, Stockholm.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center