Channel 4 will be showing “What the Green Movement Got Wrong” tonight. Tune in at 9pm…
It’s too early to say much about the film — I haven’t seen it yet — but it appears to feature prominent environmentalist, Mark Lynas saying that environmentalists were wrong to oppose GM and nuclear energy. The thinking being that these are two ways we could prevent global warming.
“My view”, says Lynas, “as one of the contributors to the film, is simple: the greens can dish it out, but they can’t take it.”
You what, Mark?
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.
Is this the same Mark Lynas:
Pie-man Mark Lynas said he was unable to ignore Lomborg’s comments on climate change. “I wanted to put a Baked Alaska in his smug face,” said Lynas, “in solidarity with the native Indian and Eskimo people in Alaska who are reporting rising temperatures, shrinking sea ice and worsening effects on animal and bird life.” Many countries in the Third World are also experiencing the effects of climate change. In Africa, Lake Chad is now a twentieth of the size it was in the 1950s, leaving millions potentially without water. The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is planning the evacuation of its entire population as sea levels continue to rise. “And yet despite all this evidence,” comments Lynas, “Lomborg somehow contrives to argue that it is cheaper to go on burning fossil fuels than to switch to clean energy to prevent runaway global warming. This feeds right into the agenda of profiteering multinationals like Esso.”He continued: “I don’t see why the environment should suffer every time some bored, obscure academic fancies an ego trip. This book is full of dangerous nonsense.
Lynas’s views on nuclear power has got him into trouble with the green movement before, of course. Back in 2008, he wrote,
Just a month ago I had a Damascene conversion: the Green case against nuclear power is based largely on myth and dogma. […] The backlash to my first magazine article on the subject prompted my inbox to collapse, the blogs to drip with venom, the dirty looks to multiply.
Just imagine! Venomous attacks from environmentalists! Poor, poor, Lynas. Still, at least it’s provided a moment of self reflection, even if it is own backside he’s disappearing into.
But was Lynas’s conversion a Road to an Atomic Damascus or the Green Reformation, we asked, as Lynas battled with another favourite of ours, Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas. Lynas, like Luther, has nailed his theses to Ch4’s door. It will be interesting to see just how deep a reflection on the problems of the environmental movement Lynas has been able to commit himself to. I have my doubts.
It’s all well and good to propose nuclear power as a technical solution to an objectively-defined problem of climate change, and to point out that the greens have been the ones doing most to prevent progress in this regard. But this misses the point that environmentalism — Lynas included — doesn’t begin with objectively-defined crises. For instance, Lynas now finds himself accused of the kind of attack on his integrity he was once proud to be involved in. Silly consumer ethics guru, Leo Hickman in Tuesday’s Guardian points out that
An environmental documentary due to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday evening has come under attack from a leading American environmentalist who was interviewed for the programme, as well as a coalition of anti-GM campaigners based in the developing world. [… ] In a letter sent today to Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, a coalition of anti-GM campaigners based in the developing world led by India’s Vandana Shiva accused the filmmakers of using only two “southern-based commentators”, both of whom are “funded by major GMO [genetically modified organisms] companies”.
Friends of the Earth, who are angry that they have been named in the film, have issued a statement and a film:
And it is here that we can really see what the environmental movement gets wrong. Kirtana Chandrasekaran’s vision for the future is one in which we ‘build on the knowledge’ that small farmers throughout the world have. The irony here being that, just a moment previously, she had complained that GM technology locks poorer people into debt and poverty. She can’t see beyond this form of existence, to consider the possibility of small farmers becoming big farmers, and of leaving subsistence existences — and possibly rural life — far behind them. For Chandrasekaran, subsistence existences are the expression of pure eco-virtue. And this is what the environmental movement gets terribly, terribly wrong.