Green U-turns are a sign of desperation
The radicals in the Green movement have very short memories. Just a few months ago they were livid. They claimed that Bjorn Lomborgs book The Skeptical Environmentalist was terribly unfair to them. In the book Lomborg had tackled the doomsday scenario of the special interest groups within Green circles.
But the Greens pooh-poohed Lomborgs critique. Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation claimed that Lomborg was picking fights with long-forgotten ghosts of the environmental movement, such as those who thought that all natural resources would run out next Tuesday.
Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute wrote an anti-Lomborg letter that he sent to all members of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He claimed: that Lomborg paints a caricature of the environmental agenda based on sometimes mistaken views widely held 30 years ago, but to which no serious environmental institution today subscribes.
The response of the environmental lobby was therefore that Lomborg was out of date. He was responding to doomsday scenarios that no serious Green currently accepted. According to these Greens Lomborg had therefore merely wasted his time.
Well, if true that does say something about Lomborg and his book. However, the problem with these intended rebuttals is that they are false. The doomsday prophets in the Green movement are still with us and they are not merely fringe lunatics but serious environmental institutions that even Jonathan Lash would have to recognise. It appears that the ghosts that Andrew Simms alluded to are alive and well.
The British Observer reported on July 7, 2002 that a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was soon to be released, which warns that the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life. In a damning condemnation of Western societys high consumption levels, it adds that [two] extra planets (equivalent in size to Earth) will be required by the year 2050 to support consumption at existing levels. The earths own resources, we are told, would be exhausted.
When the environmental movement started its activities, it was full of doomsday prophets claiming the world would run out of natural resources within four or five decades. Now it is peopled by individuals who predict that the world will run out of resources within four or five decades. Lomborgs critique, instead of being outdated, is most relevant.
In fact the WWF projections, if anyone really believes them, are even worse than any made by the doomsday Green prophets of the 1960s. They are saying we will need two planets the size of Earth just to keep up with the current consumption of natural resources. And that will be by 2050!
So supposedly, at present consumption rates, we will use up this planet and two more of equal size in the next 48 years! Three planets in less than five decades is something like one planet fully depleted every 16 years! Does anyone seriously believe this?
The World Wildlife Fund is one of the larger of the various special interest groups that coalesce around the Green agenda. The Observer reported: Experts [meaning the authors of the WWF report] say that seas will become emptied of fish, the forests that absorb carbon dioxide emissions will be completely destroyed, and fresh water supplies will become scarce and polluted. That sounds exactly like the litany that Lomborg debunked.
A few years back the Green movement, through the United Nations, orchestrated a world conference in Rio de Janeiro that promoted their agenda. They were hoping the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development would be Rio: The Sequel. But they are afraid that some Third World nations, threatened more by poverty than by Green exaggerations and lies, will concentrate on development instead. To try and counter this threat to their special interest coalition the Green movement will desperately beat the doomsday drum as much as possible before the Summit. However, they cannot go back to their old rhetoric without admitting that the notions that Lomborg refuted in his book are precisely the notions they continue to propound. And it then follows that they were deliberately dishonest in their criticisms of Lomborgs book.
The Greens have always counted on the public having short memories. Obviously the public has forgotten that decades-old Green projections have not even been remotely correct. But it is a gamble when the Greens do such drastic U-turns in such a short a time. It is a sign that they are becoming desperate. If the public were to become immune to their scare mongering their own resources may well become rapidly depleted.
Author: Jim Peron is a freelance researcher and writer. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement. The patrons, council and members of the Free Market Foundation do not necessarily agree with the views expressed in the article.
FMF Article of the Week\16 July 2002
Publish date: 18 July 2002
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.