The Great Environmentalist Conspiracy

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Environmentalism is liberalism

Environmentalism is liberalism

In 1907, the twenty-sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, famously said that, “The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life.”

Today, this problem has morphed into a philosophical battle between those who, like Roosevelt, have a wish us to use natural resources and others who try to apply the power of government to prevent them from being used.  This ideological conflict over the use and control of productive resources is not some modern nicety fought out in tea rooms, but rather can be traced back to the writings of Karl Marx.  Environmentalists want to limit the use of our natural resources and they want to impose their beliefs and values on the rest of us. 

In true Malthusian tradition, current economic development is rejected as unsustainable.  Resources - specifically those related to energy, food production and land use – are judged to be more scarce, more vulnerable and more polluting than we had thought, while the global population, growing in size and wealth, apparently cannot be sustained by a fragile earth.   

Liberal environmental campaign groups have been using international organizations to further their anti-development aims ever since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was hijacked by Greenpeace and other animal rights activists in the early 1980s.  The group paid membership dues for small island states to join the IWC and then voted to establish a moratorium on commercial whaling irrespective of the abundance of the various species. 

Today, this technique has ballooned into a vast network of well-paid lobbyists who monitor and influence the global governance institutions that regulate what nations must and must not do when it comes to environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity and trade in endangered species. The message and the medicine is the same in each case: the planet, climate, oceans, animals, etc. can only be saved if we stop the offending activity. 

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cannot make formal proposals to United Nations bodies like CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, so they lobby governments to adopt their anti-use positions and then use access granted by their observer status to support and cajole from the sidelines as these countries do their bidding. 

Part of the beauty of this approach is that multinational lobby groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace are not geographically aligned to any one single country, and can therefore present themselves as a domestic constituency to many powerful governments simultaneously – the United States, European Union, Australia, etc.  And because they present themselves as objective, ethical and without party affiliation, rather than ideological, they can appear neutral to politicians who really should know better. 

Externally, they can set up nations against each other on different issues, while internally they can lobby to get their policies adopted by opposition parties who will eventually win power.   The Obama administration in America and the Rudd government in Australia both came to power accepting the notion of man-made global warming, in marked contrast to their Bush and Howard predecessors. 

European governments are particularly susceptible to lobbying by environmentalist NGOs because the European Union imposes common positions at international meetings, potentially giving the campaigners a huge bloc vote if they can secure the backing of a few of the bigger countries like Germany, France and the United Kingdom.  With industry groups, like fishermen and ivory artisans, fragmented and not resourced to undertake major lobbying campaigns, and others like the energy producers wary of antagonizing regulators, the field is left mostly clear for the anti-development agenda to be pushed forward. 

So, like puppet masters, western NGOs are able to create the perception of environmental crises – man-made climate change, empty oceans, potential species extinctions – and then secure restrictive proposals from willing government bureaucracies, which are submitted to the relevant intragovernmental institutions. 

Journalists at these international meetings rely on the same NGO lobbyists for comment and evaluation, casting them as concerned and objective experts with an independent worldview.  A quote from an environmentalist lobbyist for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) holds greater news value than the supposedly narrow perspective of a spokesman for a specific country.   Needless to say, their modus operandi is to cast aspersions against the evil motives of those countries that do not share their objectives.  And the NGOs diligently feed the press rooms with new controversies to keep the circus moving. 

In this way, the world was misled in March into believing that the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will shortly go extinct, after a proposal to prohibit its trade was rejected by member states of CITES.  The proposal was drafted by WWF and, in true liberal intellectual tradition, submitted by the wealthy European principality of Monaco.  The species has been over-fished but it is not endangered and actions taken by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) offer the best option for increasing stocks.  Nevertheless, after the defeat of its proposal, WWF called the decision scandalous and arrogantly urged “restaurants, retailers, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating this endangered species.”   

But it doesn’t stop there.  Now unsuspecting taxpayers around the world are even being co-opted into backing the campaigns of international environmentalist groups, as governments have become their proxies.   Several years ago the Irish government took on the cause of four of its nationals when it went to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to stop the operation of a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in England.  The bid failed and cost Irish taxpayers millions. 

Australia’s government has now succumbed to the lobbying of animal rights groups and filed suit at the International Court of Justice to stop Japan from undertaking research whaling.  The research is a treaty right that is not precluded by the commercial whaling moratorium and it can only be challenged by a sovereign nation.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare, an American animal rights NGO, organized legal panels in Australia that recommended the action.  The costs and legal footwork will be paid for by Australian taxpayers. 

Policy by policy, expediency or ideology has been embraced by various governments, and development has been sacrificed.  As a result, citizens have to pay higher costs for energy, food and housing.  Some taxpayers are also directly subsidizing the campaigns themselves.  Like it or not, we are all liberal environmental activists now.

12 Comments add one

  1. Dancer says:

    I would go a step further and say that the enviros make environmentalism their religion. They have rejected a monotheistic practice with one that values nature as their “god”. They have truly gone back to pagan days. And instead of a “devil” or “Old Hickory” there is Man. Man is to blame for all evil in the world and poor little old nature can’t defend itself against, greedy, hegemonic, dangerous man. So in step the NGOs to “fight the revolution” all the while feeling morally and intellectually superior to everyone else.

    Can you tell I’m fed up with them?? Perhaps I could be more sympathetic if they were true conservationists and disseminated real information and data. They would rather produce propaganda and skew the facts to keep their fundraising going. They are contemptible.

  2. ShootMe says:

    What a depressing story, especially the conclusion. True, but extremely depressing.

  3. It is indeed a sinister plot you describe, clearly visible once you get through the smokescreen of self-righteous left-wing gobbledygook. If there’s one thing I have to hand to them, it’s a talent for producing buzzwords and detailed alternate realities that would seem to operate on an entirely parallel set of values, and indeed, rules of physics. Now all we need to do in this neck of the woods, is learn the lesson in detail and translate it into Spanish. Bravo, El Gavino. Good work.

  4. You make some good points, Gavino – even if you didn’t have the courage to include a paragraph about why wise people with the ability to read beyond media headlines should be supporting rather than reviling BP. That aside, fortunately, there are a few folk around who are able to call upon their own personal and professional experiences to challenge the behaviours of irresponsible environmentalists. Incidentally, I wouldn’t tag all of them as the same – it is possible to be green without being Green, if you know what I mean.

  5. Gavino says:

    BP is an interesting case. Certainly the environmentalists who predicted long-term devastation in the Gulf of Mexico have been proved wide of the mark. Environmentalists in this case can include those within the U.S. government bureaucracy up to and including the president himself. Now they can’t find the oil…! The environmental damage has been significantly more limited than we were told it would be. Exaggeration is certainly a feature of political environmentalism. That said, oil industry insiders tell me that BP’s internal culture leant itself to exactly this type of accident. If so, it is the shareholders who should now be demanding changes that will protect their investment from future events like this and the $20 billion government shakedowns that can result. Perhaps it is not an accident of language that green can also mean naive and gullible…

  6. JoeB says:

    These Environmental Organizations are simply special interest groups – let’s just call them big green.and lump them in with big pharma, big oil, big labor, etc. The fund raising machines of big Green are there, in large part, to make sure their representatives can attand converences in Bali, Tunisia, Switzerland, Denmark, etc. Just imagine how much good they would do the environment by staying home.

  7. A Patriot says:

    The problems here lies with our education systems that does not teach our children facts about our environment. The education system has somehow become a bastion of liberalism and false teachings. If we do not correct those problems even those politicians who are a product of a liberal education system will be susceptible to these types of lobbyist manipulating our elected officials since that is the only education they receive on the subject. Mao, Stalin, Osama bin Laden, and other leftist and radicals understand this why don’t we as conservatives? This is not a battle of immediate issues but a strategic battle to defend our way of life and resources.

  8. You are a very smart person!

  9. Irish Bogger says:

    An interesting commentary on the tactics of some environmentalist NGOs, which I presume is your main objection to them. Rightly so – I would have reservations myself about the pervasive influence of NGOs and, for example, the use of ‘gray’ literature, such as WWF and Greenpeace reports, in IPCC reports. On the other hand, all interest groups, including globalised industry and service companies, have sophisticated lobbying operations and deploy all sorts of non-transparent tactics to set the rules of the game in their own favour in international fora.

    And of course the media love the environmental lobby since they have ‘moral authority’ on their side. It’s hard to take issue with a man who’s devoting his life’s energies to ‘saving the planet’, isn’t it? Especially if you’re a journalist trying to put together a 40 second package with neither the time nor the inclination to delve into the complexities of any issues. The environmental NGOs are masters of PR and of the populist soundbite, perfect for the news reporter. They are always ready and willing to be part of the media action since they are performers as much as they are ‘players’.

    That said, the ‘environmental conspiracy’ as you term it, is not a particularly successful one, if it could be termed as such. Incidentally, I don’t believe it is a ‘conspiracy’. Public support for environmental causes remains determinedly shallow, as evidenced witnessed in recent opinion polls in the US and throughout the EU. Concerns about saving the whale or climate change etc. rapidly slip down the public agenda when hard times come a knocking on ordinary people’s doors. Such lofty concerns are quickly displaced by more immediate concerns about unemployment, the health of the economy and putting bread on the table.

    As for tracing environmentalist ideology back to the ‘writings of Karl Marx’, it goes a lot further back and a lot deeper than that, I think. The writings of JJ Rousseau and the romantic movement of the 19th century are the true grandfathers of the environmental movement. Darwin’s Origin of Species had a profound influence. Ernst Haeckel coined the word ‘ecology’ – which he described as the study of the interrelationships of all species, including humans – in 1866. In truth, Marx, and the socialist and communist ideologies spawned by his philosophy, showed a more ruthless disregard for ecology and environmental protection than any other political system before or since. More recently, it has been argued that German National Socialism incorporated a strong strain of ‘environmentalist’ thinking that finds an echo in parts of the ‘Green’ movement today. Modern eco-political movements, in all their manifestations, draw on deep wells.

    Finally, on your reference to the Irish government’s misfortunate foray into the international courts, mounting such an international court action against the UK was originally a Greenpeace and a central plank of that organisation’s campaign in Ireland for about two decades and resolutely opposed by all Attorney Generals until finally, a more volatile individual came into that office… but that’s another story. As the Irish Government found out, to their cost, and as they should have already known, they were prohibited from taking any such case against the UK under EU rules. Naturally, it’s all quietly forgotten now and never mentioned in polite circles!

  10. Gavino says:

    You raise a number of very interesting points which should, and will, be debated further! Still, I have to take issue with one word – the use of the “all” in: “On the other hand, all interest groups, including globalised industry and service companies, have sophisticated lobbying operations and deploy all sorts of non-transparent tactics to set the rules of the game in their own favour in international fora.” My experience is that it is not a level playing field and many groups, like fishermen, for example, or Namibian artisans making jewelry from ivory, do not have anything like the resources available to them to counter wealthy NGOs in international fora. And it’s not just a matter of money. Many large companies do have the resources, of course,but they don’t always devote the resources that they should. Still, at least they have a choice…

  11. Irish Bogger says:

    The only place where I expect to see a ‘level playing field’ is on a football pitch. A key function of NGOs, including environmental organisations, is to act as intermediary between rule making international fora and local community groups, provided, of course, the two agendas fit i.e. the local agenda of craftsmen, farmers, fishermen etc. with the global issue agenda of the respective NGO. For example, you wouldn’t expect to find an international medical NGO defending the ‘culture’ of female genital mutilation that prevails in some parts of the African continent, would you?

  12. Gavino says:

    Well, I’m merely observing that there isn’t balance, the degree to which things can be unbalanced, how this is expolited by powerful NGOs and how it negatively imnpacts the little guy. I’m not sure I follow your point on genital mutilation…