Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Growth of Green Hype

Tibor R. Machan

Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is but the most visible of “green” hypes these days, containing doom and gloom galore, the very predictions and prophesies that have been around for centuries and get repeatedly discredited by subsequent events. Gore is now being joined by the highly visible and widely respected New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, with his upcoming June 27th, 2006, Discovery Channel program, “Addicted to Oil.”

This is not the place to analyze the content of these programs. Gore’s film has been scrutinized and the conclusion of most careful commentators has been that while Gore assembles credible evidence for global climate change, he hasn’t proven by a long shot that such change is due to anything that human beings have done or have failed to do. Indeed, it seems that over the centuries there has been ample and oft repeated climate change, not unlike what is being experienced now, in both directions, the warming and cooling of the planet. The misanthropic spin is largely gratuitous, reminiscent of the more faith based doctrine of original sin, not based on scientific reasoning. But never mind that.

What can be noted here is how much hype surrounds offerings such as those by Gore and Friedman. Both of these men receive the most plentiful exposure on the media, yet they complain endlessly about how little attention they are receiving.

The other night I tuned into Charlie Rose, whose daily program I watch loyally enough to have a sense of what themes get treated and which are neglected. (Rose just came back from a hiatus because of an heart operation, which was the main topic of the program I saw on Monday, June 12th, the first day of his return. He seems quite fine. He had Bill Moyers on, one of my nemeses but whom Rose seems to cherish! Yvette Vega, his executive producer and friend, was with him too, so all in all the somewhat self-indulgent show turned out tolerable enough.)

The second half of this come back program featured Thomas Friedman, who has been on Rose’s show two dozen times or more. Friedman, who, as noted above, has what promises to be (based on the trailer) a doom and gloom program coming up on the Discovery Channel, spoke fairly reasonably about Iraq and Bush’s options there but when he started in on the topic of “green,” he went overboard by all reasonable measures.

To begin with, he complained a lot about how “green” isn’t being taken seriously enough in the media, how it is deemed to be “sissy, girly man, soft, too liberal,” what have you, and thus, allegedly, marginalized. Consider—here is a guy who has The New York Times practically all to himself with whatever message he wishes to get out; he gets to put on what promises to be a clone of Al Gore’s movie on the Discovery Channel, a hugely influential media outlet; he gets to peddle this program over and over again on venues such as “Charlie Rose” and Comedy Central’s immensely popular “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Yet he whines and whines about how little attention he is receiving, how the world isn’t giving him a proper hearing.

How do these folks get away with such deceptive hype? How do they manage to put out these endless, relentless prevarications?

If there is anything that has become an orthodoxy in our time it is that “green” is holy and anyone who doubts it is doing the devil’s work. Unless I have missed it, there has never been a global warming skeptic on “Charlie Rose” or on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” not even one who simply takes issue with the misanthropy that’s part of the “green” mantra. There is never a word of doubt about “green” in forums like The New York Times. (When I pointed this out to the editors of THE WEEK, a British magazine which now also has an American clone, they finally ran a short item giving some voice to the skeptics, but it took some prodding to get even this much accomplished.)

I suppose some would consider it fair to bellyache about how your viewpoint is neglected even while it is center stage on nearly all major media. The more the merrier, if it is important enough, never mind how much lying it takes to get the message out there. However, anytime such lying is perpetrated in the service of some idea, that idea immediately loses much of its credibility. That is just one of the many reasons I find the “green” message highly dubious.

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