TCS Daily

The Bad News Industry

By Joshua Livestro - June 24, 2002 12:00 AM

THE HAGUE -- In December of last year, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn gave an interview to an environmental magazine that may very well have sealed his fate. Though his murderer, Volkert van der Graaf, remains silent about his motives, there is little doubt that these statements by Fortuyn caused outrage among the green brigades, enough outrage perhaps to make Van der Graaf reach for his gun.

What were these remarks that caused such outrage? For one, Fortuyn observed that "in The Netherlands, we don't have any environmental problems. We have clean water, clean air, and clean soil." Which is, of course, true. The past twenty years have proven beyond reasonable doubt that economic growth and responsible environmental stewardship can go hand in hand, and not just in The Netherlands. He then went on to say that the evidence of a link between CO2 emission and global warming is far from convincing, and that there is no scientific consensus on the subject of global warming. Again, Fortuyn was merely stating the obvious.

What's all the fuss about, you might wonder? But then you would be missing something important. Fortuyn's remarks were in fact highly dangerous. They posed a serious threat to the dominant market position that the environmental lobby has built up since the 1970s, when it used the now discredited report by the Club of Rome to launch itself into the headlines. Since then, it has turned bad news into big business, with multimillion dollar multinational organisations running global advertising campaigns.

The environmental lobby's large market share is based mainly on its ability to use Malthusian scare stories to persuade people that only its policy proposals can help to save our planet and its inhabitants. The world is coming to end, unless, of course, we accept their proposals for higher taxes, agree to turn our companies into global democracies to give all relevant stakeholders a say in the running of these companies and allow the environmental lobby to determine our trade, farm and development policies.

Like every other radical movement, the environmental movement accepts violence as a means of keeping the competition out of the market. It knows best what's good for us, it sets the standards by which developments can be judged, it decides whether facts are relevant or irrelevant to public debate. Challenge this monopoly, and it will try to crush you.

Most of the eco-terrorist violence is directed against property - farmers have seen their animals released and their crops and farm equipment destroyed, while eco-terrorists also target the personal property of laboratory researchers and shopkeepers. But increasingly, violence is also directed against people, especially people who present the audience with unwelcome facts that challenge the Bad News Industry's dominant market position.

The Danish academic Brian Lomborg, author of The Sceptical Environmentalist, writes about a world where things aren't getting worse and where we are not heading for an environmental Armageddon. The real world, that is. What's worse, he exposes the lies, damned lies and statistics produced by the environmental lobby as selective and misleading. In return, the Bad News Industry has turned its guns on him, exposing him to an unprecedented level of abuse, including a number of death threats.

With Pim Fortuyn, there were no threats, just five shots that shook the world. The environmental lobby immediately tried to distance itself from the killer. "Our movement is non-violent to its core," one of the directors of the multimillion dollar organisation Environmental Defence stated. It was one lie too many. The press, looking to explain the inexplicable, published a series of articles about eco-terrorist activities. They unearthed a number of close links between radical activism and mainstream environmentalism. The end is no longer able to justify the means.

As a result, the Bad News Industry is on the back foot in Holland. The new Dutch government has introduced measures that were unthinkable even a few months ago. It has reversed the decision to close one of the nation's two nuclear power plants. It has approved a large new road-building project blocked by the previous government. It has scrapped legislation imposing severe planning restrictions on local government.

Is it too good to last? Maybe, but there is cause for optimism. Like every other radical movement in history, the environmental lobby is at its most vulnerable when exposed to the Truth for a significant period of time. In the end, the facts will set us free.



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