What the green movement got wrong: A turncoat explains
2.Controversy Over Bias in T.V. Show on the Green Movement
3.What the Green Movement Got Wrong: A turncoat explains
NOTE: The turncoat in item 3 is Mark Lynas - one of the main contributors to the Channel 4 programme "What the greens got wrong". Here are a couple of responses to his article:
*Mark Lynas shows his lack of knowledge about how the GM debate has been conducted. Florence Wambugu, for instance, is absolutely notorious for her extreme and misleading propagandising for GM, and her many GM industry connections: http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Florence_Wambugu
The Gates Foundation's many synergies with Monsanto, including having a former Monsanto VP in charge of its agricultural programmes, are also well established: http://current.com/1jbbe4c
On Zambia, Mark seems unaware of the long history of PR exploitation by the GM lobby of what happened there, which has involved rewriting history and even manufacturing crimes against humanity! http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7092
To shift one's position is one thing but to do it on this kind of basis is quite another.
*Come on Mark... the movement has moved on since your days. It now espouses positive solutions, mostly those promoted by peoples and movements in the global South, especially farmers e.g. Via Campesina the international farmers' movement that represents hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers across the world, and the many who wrote a letter to Channel 4 pointing out the severe limitations of the programme that will be screened and debated tonight...
The 'false solutions' peddled by those who hold economic and political power will do what they intend: they reinforce the status quo and dupe people into believing that there is no alternative but to sup the spoon of technologies which have origins in proprietary science not those that develop in the living laboratories of farmers' fields.
Come back to the fold, Mark, and learn what is happening...
1.What the environmental movement got right: activists respond to Channel 4 film
The Ecologist, 4 November 2010
Green campaigners reject accusations of failure and point out success of domestic climate legislation, regulations to tackle ozone pollution and growing acceptance from the business community of environmental issues
Environmental campaigners have rejected calls to embrace genetically-modified crops and nuclear power in order to tackle climate change.
In a documentary being screened tonight green activists including author Mark Lynas say environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are 'clinging' to out-dated ideological opposition to solutions like nuclear power.
However, Friends of the Earth says its opposition to so-called 'radical solutions' like nuclear and GM is not ideological but practical.
'The solutions for how to deal with radioactive nuclear waste remain. The technology has been around for five decades now and billions of pounds of public subsidies have gone into the industry yet the problem [of radioactive waste] remains unresolved,' said director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett, who added the British taxpayer alone already faced £80 billion in liability for nuclear waste.
On GM, green campaigners said GM was not a 'silver bullet' for poor farmers. 'In order to help the poorest farmers you must empower them to achieve food sovereignty - they are not going to get that by relying on foreign-owned seeds from foreign-owned corporations,' said Bennett.
A coalition of anti-GM campaigners, including Vandana Shiva have also complained to the makers of the documentary that both the Southern-based commentators speaking out in favour of GM crops in the programme were in employment funded by major biotech companies.
'Where it has been adopted, GM hasn't worked to deliver food security for poor or vulnerable communities in the Global South. There is no evidence that it will do so in the future - drought and salinity-resistant GM crops do not exist - and are unlikely to appear any time soon. Only two types of technology have been successfully commercialised: those resistant to a particular type of herbicide, and those resistant to one specific type of pest. Neither of these technologies in any way address the causes of hunger. But the expensive and patented seeds have made seed saving illegal, taking away poor farmers' most basic rights and resources,' said the letter sent to Channel 4 programme makers.
Green campaigners also said it was wrong to cast the movement as a failure and pointed out the 'extraordinary' success in campaigns on climate change, which brought the world's first legally binding legislation in the Climate Change Act, 2008. Bennett said the corporate and business world had slowly been brought onboard to an agenda that may once have been seen as radical, but was now mainstream.
2.Controversy Over Bias in T.V. Show on the Green Movement
Some prominent environmentalists featured on a t.v. documentary about the green movement and its future are distancing themselves from the final product, saying that it misrepresents their views and is overly biased against them.
The documentary, called What the Green Movement Got Wrong ,is described by Channel 4 as a film in which "life-long diehard greens advocate radical solutions to climate change, which include GM crops and nuclear energy." Except, ummm, that's not what they said....
There are some heavy hitters from the green movement speaking in it: people like Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees, and Stewart Brand, author of The Whole Earth Catalog. According to Channel 4, they are now part of a "a group of environmentalists across the world [who] believe that, in order to save the planet, humanity must embrace the very science and technology they once so stridently opposed ... They argue that by clinging to an ideology formed more than 40 years ago, the traditional green lobby has failed in its aims and is ultimately harming its own environmental cause."
However, several of the "talking heads" in the show which is airing tonight say that the filmmakers misrepresented its focus. According to the Guardian, Adam Werbach, says that the final version does not represent his views and he wants his bit taken out. Now Werbach is no slouch : he is the Chief Sustainability Officer for Saatchi & Saatch and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. So when he complains that "They told me they were doing a documentary about the ideas of Stewart Brand, who is a friend of mine, and looking at other inspiring ideas and new ways to protect the planet. They didn't tell me that it was basically about nuclear reactors and genetically modified foods" this not just idle chat.
Greenpeace is also having problems with the film's focus. They say "We've now seen the documentary. It's a slick expensive piece of film-making, but gets basic stuff flat out wrong and misrepresents the green movement from start to finish."
A coalition of anti-GM campaigners has accused the filmmakers of using commentators who are ""funded by major GMO [genetically modified organisms] companies".
There is a panel discussion after the film which will include George Monbiot from the Guardian. It will be interesting to see if he stays on the panel, in the light of the controversy about the film.
Of course, controversy is good for the ratings--there are already 80 comments on the Guardian's website about the matter, and the show hasn't even been seen yet.
3.What the Green Movement Got Wrong: A turncoat explains
Daily Telegraph, 4 November 2010
*Mark Lynas contributed to the Channel 4 documentary, 'What the Green Movement Got Wrong'
Does the environmental movement still speak for the environment? Or are the greens in danger of being left behind, trapped in their own ideological fortress, as the world outside changes rapidly? These are the questions asked by a provocative new Channel 4 documentary, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, to be screened on Thursday evening. But before the programme even airs, it is mired in controversy with environmentalists in the major campaign groups already crying foul before most of them have even seen what the documentary contains.
My view, as one of the contributors to the film, is simple: the greens can dish it out, but they can’t take it. This is a real debate and the environment movement needs to tackle it head- on rather than asserting that all challenges must be part of some imagined evil conspiracy.
Unless we can have a constructive debate about what environmentalism is seeking to achieve, its potency as a force for good in the world is in danger of being diluted by a religious-style adherence to the campaigns of the past.
Take nuclear power. The origins of the modern environmental movement are intimately bound up with its anti-nuclear campaigning but it is by no means clear that this has been beneficial to the environment. Nuclear power has not caused a single species to go extinct. Instead it is of enormous benefit in helping industrialised, densely-populated, power-hungry societies to generate much-needed electricity without emitting carbon.
Green anti-nuclear campaigning has already added to the atmospheric stock of carbon dioxide, probably to the tune of more than a billion tonnes. Why? Because nuclear plants which were opposed by greens in the 1970s and 1980s were instead replaced by coal plants. In hindsight that was obviously a mistake, but it is one that today’s environmental lobby groups seem determined to repeat. German per-person carbon emissions are several tonnes higher than those in France, because France mainly deploys nuclear power. Yet the German greens are still demonstrating against nuclear in their thousands, having apparently learned nothing from the past.
This is one important area of debate that the Channel 4 film highlights. The documentary follows me as I visit Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, and discover that wildlife in the area is thriving, and that the effects of the radioactive contamination on people are much less serious than previously thought. That is what the science says, yet many green groups continue to spread myths about tens of thousands of people dying because of Chernobyl when the actual death toll so far according to a major UN report published in 2006 has likely been only around 65.
For the record, I am not in favour of nuclear power because I have been bought off by industry lobbyists, but because I think that climate change is such an important issue that outdated environmental ideology should not stand in the way of a massive potential source of zero- carbon power. I feel that my position on nuclear makes me more of an environmentalist, not less of one.
Perhaps the other most controversial topic dealt with in the film is GM crops. The programme’s key contributor is the US environmental writer Stewart Brand, who suggests that western-led opposition to GM a decade ago led to the Zambian government rejecting US food aid (which contained GM corn) in the midst of a hunger emergency. Greenpeace emphatically rejects this assertion, but surely this is a debate that needs to be aired openly and honestly and not painted as just another ill-motivated attack on the environmental movement.
In response to fears about what the programme might say, Southern-based groups on 2 November sent an angry letter to Dorothy Byrne, the Channel 4 commissioner who is responsible for the film. The letter asserts that the documentary is part of "corporate-led campaigns which are motivated by profit alone" and insists that GM is a "western imposed idea".
The irony here is that none of the signatories to the letter have actually seen the film, thereby aptly illustrating Stewart Brand's point southern groups are simply repeating what they have been told by Greenpeace HQ in London.
In actual fact, the film looks at the development of what poverty campaigners call "pro-poor GMOs", developed by public institutions and aimed at improving the nutrient content of basic subsistence crops in Africa. The African contributor to the film, Dr Florence Wambugu, has been attacked by anti-GM activists as somehow representing nefarious corporate interests, but her work is funded not by Monsanto but by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the intellectual property rights to many of the crops she helps develop are held by the Kenyan state.
No-one is arguing that GM crops are somehow a silver-bullet solution to world hunger, but that, as Oxfam puts it, "modern biotechnology might play a role in helping to achieve global food security" if GM is used to benefit subsistence farmers. An outright rejection of the technology, as green groups still insist should be our position, is both illogical and potentially harmful to the interests of poorer peoples and the environment.
A real debate is needed about these and other issues that greens campaign on. In this age of rising global temperatures, declining biodiversity, accumulating toxins, fractured ecosystems and rapidly-increasing economic growth and global population, we need a strong and successful environmental movement more than ever. But it must be a movement which is informed by sound science, and not by outdated prejudice.
:: What The Green Movement Got Wrong is on C4 9pm