COMMON SENSE ENVIRONMENTALISM PAGE www
SAC BEE ENVIRONMENT. INC SERIES
A massive piece of investigative work. An outstanding public service of the McClatchy News Chain to Alaska and the whole country. The activities of national environmental organizations have so affected and controlled what now happens in our state. In my opinion, this makes the subject of this Sacramento Bee series an issue of profound importance. Ray Kreig
Environment, Inc. in the Sacramento Bee -- The series:
Sunday, April 22, 2001: PRICE OF POWER (published in Anchorage Daily News 7/1/01)
A century after John Muir served as the Sierra Club's first president, environmental groups have successfully traded on his legacy, becoming bigger and richer than ever before. But in their quest for power and money, have they cashed in their tradition?
Monday, April 23, 2001: CAUSE
OR COMMERCE? (published in ADN 7/2/01)
When you give $20 to an environmental organization, you expect it to go toward protecting the environment. But creative accounting hides the myriad ways groups can fold a hefty chunk of that donation back into their fund raising and bureaucracy.
Tuesday, April 24, 2001: STRONGEST
SUIT (published in ADN 7/3/01)
Suing the government has long been one of the environmental movement's most important tools. But today, the targets and proliferation of environmental lawsuits are yielding an uncertain bounty for the land.
Wednesday, April 25, 2001: APOCALYPSE
NOW (NOT published in ADN)
Scientists say Western forests are gigantic tinderboxes inviting disaster, badly in need of thinning. But many environmental organizations are ignoring -- and sometimes manipulating -- that message.
Thursday, April 26, 2001: HOPE,
NOT HYPE (published in ADN 7/4/01)
A new kind of conservation is blossoming at the grass roots that focuses on results, not rhetoric. Its goals include buying, protecting and restoring land, and making commerce and conservation work together -- without crying wolf.
[excellent editorial winding up
the ADN's republication of Tom Knudson's 4/22/01 to 4/26/01 series originally in
the Sacramento Bee]
Anchorage Daily News – Page B4 – Monday, July 23, 2001
'Disease of money' infects environmentalists too
Environmentalists absorbed some hard, clean shots in Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson's series "Environment Inc.," republished recently in the Daily News. They should resist the temptations to point to corporate foes for the same sins or cry that they're being unfairly singled out.
Instead, groups and individuals should look to themselves and, where needed, clean up their acts.
Let's be clear: The environmental movement has proved itself vital to protecting the lives and health of people in the United States and around the world. It has demanded and won wiser stewardship of wildlife and habitat. It has dramatically reduced the pollution, waste and degradation of our air and water. As our economy has become more prosperous than ever, our environment has improved too. Industries and developers want to be seen as environmentally responsible. The best go well beyond the minimum protections that are legally required. Landmark legislation and oversight have provided essential, successful tools.
This has been good for all of us. But neither green groups nor individuals are immune to the sins of the corporations and agencies they sometimes battle.
That stings because environmental groups are held to a higher standard - and they should be. They have long cast themselves as white knights - not for profit, in the public interest. But when you claim the moral high ground, you must constantly show you belong there. At the same time, environmentalists find themselves in political and legal arenas where to win they have to play the game by some hard rules. But there's more than one way to play that game. Let's look:
• Historian Alfred Runte said the movement has been afflicted with the "disease of money." The 1990s were a rich decade for environmental fund-raising, as for many other causes. But for many environmental groups, the decade's collection of $3.5 billion meant increasing overhead, bureaucracy and spending on direct-mail and fund-raising consultants. In other words, spending a growing share of those donations to raise yet more donations. Fund-raising is a necessary and proper part of virtually all mission-oriented nonprofit work, but there are limits. The line between proper and questionable fund-raising nearly always depends on integrity - to a mission and to appropriate tactics in pursuing it. The green movement should police itself, in its own best interests, to ensure the boundaries are not overstepped.
• The scramble for money led to perhaps the biggest sin exposed in the series. Membership campaigns ranged from overdone pitches to outright lies in which science and integrity gave way to the sales pitch. "You can call it dramatic. You can call it hyperbolic," said direct-mail copywriter Jeffrey Gillenkirk.
You cap call it hypocritical too. Mr. Gillenkirk says it works, but cooler heads, like Daniel Beard, chief operating officer of the National Audubon Society, have second thoughts. "I think it's a slow walk down a dead-end road," Mr. Beard said, even while recognizing the short-term gain in contributions.
Environmentalists could look at history and learn something from Ralph Nader. What was Mr. Nader's greatest strength, aside from a superhuman tenacity, in taking on General Motors in the 1960s over auto safety? Simple. He was right. He used his energy, allies and money to make his case, and he had the truth on his side.
Shaded facts and half-baked science won't make a greener planet in the long run. In using such, environmentalists give live ammunition to people who want to discredit them.
Worse, bad information muddies public debate. Sure, an environmental group can argue that it's just fighting fire with fire. But then citizens begin to have trouble telling the sides apart. Dueling propaganda is a sign that the game has stolen center stage from the goal. Does every environmental group engage in fraudulent propaganda? Of course not. People who make such a blanket charge are guilty of the same sin they decry. But when propaganda prevails, the environmental movement suffers.
• The series points out that nine of the chief executives at the 10 largest environmental organizations make more than $200,000 a year.
So? The real question is whether those executives provide solid leadership, contribute to environmental understanding and awareness, and run a tight ship. The notion that to work for environmental causes must be an act of financial hardship is silly. Environmental groups need talent just like every other organization. To compete, they must pay competitively, and well-paid executives must return high value for what they earn.
However, the $760,335 severance settlement awarded one former chief executive, Paul Pritchard, can't help but appear obscene to the average donor being asked to send a few hard-earned bucks to the cause. Golden parachutes of this size will hurt the cause every time.
• Lawsuits. As Mr. Knudson says in his series, citizen suits have won major environmental victories. But for some environmental groups, this has become the weapon of choice; even a seasoned attorney like Michael Bean of Environmental Defense questions some legal actions. A few demands for inflated legal fees have made suits look like shakedowns.
Environmental groups should sue when they must, not as a matter of course or routine and surely not simply to reap legal fees or harass government agencies. They should look for opportunities to cooperate with businesses, communities and individuals. Mr. Knudson provided good examples of progress made when different interests find common cause.
Environmentalists have a natural and powerful constituency - the American people, who want clean air, water and wildlands but who also want to make a good living. What Americans want and deserve for their environmental donations are honesty and a sense of balance.
More sources for COMMON SENSE ON THE ENVIRONMENT!
The Skeptical Environmentalist - Measuring the Real State of the World - Bjørn Lomborg - Cambridge University Press. "This is one of the most valuable books on public policy - not merely on environmental policy - to have been written for the intelligent general reader in the past ten years. The Skeptical Environmentalist is a triumph." The Economist
John P. McGovern M.D. Center for Environmental & Regulatory Affairs (National Center for Public Policy Research)
Competitive Enterprise Institute also R.J. Smith
Political Economy Research Center -- Free market solutions to environmental problems
Here's a NEW solution for ANWR - ADN - Terrific piece by common sense environmentalists on the ANWR issue
ANWR is victim of Americans' hypocrisy - By FIONA WORCESTER - December 17, 2005 Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News. The best piece yet capturing the hypocrisy of politically correct environmentalism of the suburbs and urban areas. text
"Most likely, those who oppose drilling in Alaska feel guilty. Rich Americans can afford to enjoy both the environment and status symbols such as personal vehicles. A paradox arises: Americans feel guilty about using their enjoyable cars because they pollute the enjoyable environment. However, they don't want to let this guilt interfere with their lifestyle.
"The solution to the paradox: Project the problem onto Alaska. By preventing additional drilling within America, Americans can feel less guilty about driving their Hummers (or Subarus, as the case may be). Also, the economic losses would be isolated outside of mainstream America, concentrated in a remote state with a small population and limited influence in national politics."
Eco-anxiety replaces dishpan hands for 'green moms'
Common Sense Environmentalism at Heartland Institute (Chicago)
Green-Colored Communism Forbes Magazine 9/4/06
The New Environmental Priesthood By Iain Murray - CEI Planet 4/08
Nature isn't Disneyland; it's savage and unyielding - CRAIG MEDRED - OUTDOORS - Anchorage Daily News - January 20th, 2008 - If you want a valid reason to get upset, turn your attention to the people of Africa dying from diseases associated with the simple lack of access to clean water. Now that is upsetting.
Most cold to change in personal CO2 habits - CRAIG MEDRED - OUTDOORS - Anchorage Daily News - December 16, 2007 - The fact is Americans like to make noise about saving the environment a lot more than they like to make even the smallest sacrifice to actually try to save the environment.
EXTREMISM -- Outrageous and despicable use of Holocaust analogies in the global warming debate.
Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist
- Guardian (London) - June 23, 2008
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.
Are Big Oil and Big Coal Climate
Criminals? - NY Times - By Andrew C. Revkin - June 23, 2008
“These CEO’s, these captains of industry,” he said in the briefing, “in my opinion, if they don’t change their tactics they’re guilty of crimes against humanity and nature.” He made the point more strongly in a written statement summarizing his talk. He has used strong words and imagery before to drive home points, including comparing cordons of coal cars heading to power plants to the death trains of the Holocaust (because of the mass extinctions foreseen by many biologists should warming go unabated).
James E. Hansen is the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.
More rational comments: Bjorn Lomborg: A better way than cap and trade — 6/26/2008 Washington Post
Hansen presumably would have Lomborg arrested and tried for crimes against humanity and nature.
ENVIRONMENTALISM AS A RELIGION
REMARKS TO THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB by Michael Crichton - San Francisco - September 15, 2003 - The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda...Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.