C4′s ‘What the Green Movement Got Wrong’: A Quick Riposte

The recent documentary ‘What the Green Movement got Wrong’ by Stewart Brand was a welcome change of focus and many thought it would address the clouding of the climate issue and the problems with its framing within the media. However it appeared one sided focusing on nuclear power and GM foods and how if environmentalists hadn’t campaigned against them at the time the world would be a better place.

This short article quickly shows the counter points and corrects some of the more sensational statements made. If you haven’t seen it yet watch it here.

Opposition to GM foods caused starving in Africa

The report blamed environmentalists for starvation in Africa and energy scarcity throughout the world. “That blame is misplaced. Of all those at fault for drought and food shortage in Zambia, environmentalists rank low on the list”, Adam Werbach, former Sierra Club President. War, corruption and disease are far greater to blame and those needing to blame someone for these should focus on the bigger issues affecting the African nations.

Also they African countries don’t have to listen to popular opinion in the west when making their policies. They need to do what is right for their people. Asking for help is the right thing to do but they do need to make their own decisions too.

Opposition to nuclear has meant more coal powered stations which cause global warming

In the 60’s and 70’s nuclear energy caused much alarm not least due to the Chernobyl disaster. BUT the world economy has not been shaped by the greens and therefore they cannot be blamed for the energy situation. While yes coal produces more CO2, when demonstrations were occurring the nuclear power industry was light years behind the safety standards we have today. That is why I have no problem with nuclear energy supplementing  renewables

But back to the documentary,  showing images of children in Indian slums and blaming greens for that is daft. If politicians are looking for excuses for poverty again a bunch of hippies protesting in the other side of the world is pretty far stretched. Perhaps a look closer to home would provide more compelling reasons. That is not to say I don’t support the development of such countries in a sustainable fashion, that is what the UNFCCC compensation is about and encouraging developed nations to provide clean technologies.

Looking forward a new philosophy on environmental matters is needed without sceptics clouding the issue

George Monbiot’s thinking  Brand’s approach, which the film is based on, is not so much a new form of environmentalism as a new form of corporate consultancy: he appears to be seeking to shape the environmental debate to suit the businesses he works for. Many contributors feel that their opinions weren’t accurately displayed and are threatening to take action further demonstrates the controversial nature of this programme . While the environmental movement undoubtedly needs to change and innovation from large corporations may be key and should not be undervalued. That is not to say that geo-engineering should be plan A.

But perhaps this documentary was designed to fuel debate (like the debate show that followed on C4) and for that this programme must be applauded. It has probably been the most positive environmental thought provoker since An Inconvenient Truth and maybe that is the most important thing to come out of it. That and causing green campaigners to have a look at how they go about their business.


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