Group-think in action: Greens who don’t toe the party line vilified by traditional sections of the environmental movement.

posted in: Syndicated | 6

 In the Pundit’s opinion, serious difficulty with solving global environmental problems is lack of open-minded and objective evaluation of all of the options on the table. Another difficulty is that without full knowledge about how the world works, without practical engagement with the challenges of findingsolutions to real world problems, it’s easy to regard distant problems as being unimportant. The proverb out of sight out of mind comes to mind. One example of this is bad take-up in industrialised countries of vaccination programs for diseases which have seemingly been brought under control because of active vaccination programs.

In the absence of raging disease parents think that diseases such as measles will not strike their own children. In the area of food production and abundant availability of food over the last 30 or 40 years seems to make future food security something we don’t have to worry about.

So we should listen to debates about new technologies particularly keenly even though they are unpopular among many people: 

Leading environmental campaigners support nuclear and GM
Leading environmental campaigners have performed a u-turn on two key technologies they have opposed for decades by openly calling for greater use of nuclear power and genetically modified crops to help the world tackle climate change.

Daily Telegraph, UK, By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Published: 10:15AM GMT 31 Oct 2010

The activists now say that by opposing nuclear power they encouraged the use of polluting coal-fired power stations.

For years they campaigned against nuclear power and genetically-modified food. But now some leading environmental campaigners have performed a U-turn and said that they got it wrong…

…The activists feature in the Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong, which will be broadcast this week.

They say that by successfully lobbying against the building of new nuclear power stations, environmentalists forced governments around the world to build new coal fired power stations instead, resulting in billions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide and pollution being poured into the atmosphere.
Mr Lynas, who along with other activists ripped up trial GM crops in the 1990s, said that GM food had now been consumed by millions of people in the US for more than 10 years without harm, and this had convinced him to change his views.
The campaigners say that since they expressed their change of position, they have been vilified by traditional sections of the environmental movement.


Comments at Ferrari’s for all :

mong the many comments on the Channel 4 documentary were:

* A range of comments by greens in a Guardian feature including by representatives of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the New Economics Foundation (Andrew Simms).

George Monbiot in the Guardian accusing the programme of being imbued with corporate thinking.  This is his standard technique for avoiding hard arguments on difficult topics.

* A critique by Tom Levitt in the Ecologist.

* Matt Ridley, one of the most eloquent critics of environmentalism, in a blog post entitled “sinners that repent”.

For more general background:

* Rob Lyons wrote a review of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline for spiked.

* The main proponents of progressive environmentalism in America are Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute, authors of The death of environmentalism. However, they were not mentioned in Thursday’s Channel 4 documentary.

Follow David Tribe:
David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.