Extremists Abound in Green Movement But Don't Expect Media to Say That

Environmentalism is hip, green celebrities are “very sexy” and saving the planet is “simple,” according to the media.It is certainly not “extreme” as far as journalists are concerned. 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.“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.But the truth is, like the recent Dilbert comic pointed out, environmentalism is extreme, inconvenient, and costly. In one recent case, environmentalists have even limited people’s right to travel in their own country.ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” highlighted the 800,000 acres of land purchased by Doug and Kristine Tompkins. The couple purchased the acreage in Chile with the intention of keeping 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.If I was in Chile, I would find that extremely annoying.Extreme ideas for “saving the planet” are also creeping into public policy.The May 20 Sunday Times (UK), reported that 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.”Others want to save the world by rationing or going without toilet paper, like singer Sheryl Crow and “No Impact Man” Colin Beavan.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. In fact, experts have said that level of energy reduction is basically impossible with existing technology. In addition to eliminating jobs, mandatory cuts would hit the poor the hardest. 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.Instead they buzz about “green” decisions, fawn over “very sexy” green celebrities and label liberal Republicans “New Action Heroes.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.