May 6, 2009
What Green Means
Marketing: The environmental left is conceding that its effort to "fight" global warming is in trouble because the public has tuned out the message. So the plan is to obscure the agenda even more.
An agenda that eviscerates property rights, enlarges the regulatory state, increases taxes and forces egalitarianism isn't an easy sell in a nation with a legacy of liberty and free markets.
But some time ago, eco-activists and their allies in Congress understood that they could march the country to the left by small degrees if they disguised socialism as environmentalism.
And thus the environmental movement was hijacked.
Decades of sermonizing have indeed nudged us leftward, but we are still — for now — a nation of mostly free men and largely free markets. Credit a public that seems to grasp we don't have to kill capitalism in order to save the planet.
This same public has become increasingly skeptical of the global warming assumption, perhaps the environmentalists' last chance to remake the country in their image.
Now, frustrated with their inability to have forced a deeper leftward shift, the environmental activists feel the need to recast the language of the debate.
Using polling and focus groups, ecoAmerica, an environmental group that develops marketing and messaging strategies, has forged a list of recommendations. It was obtained by the New York Times, which says it's one of "a number of news organizations" that was accidently e-mailed a "summary of the group's latest findings and recommendations."
Rather than talk about "global warming," which is already being replaced by the less-specific "climate change," ecoAmerica suggests that alarmists should discuss "our deteriorating atmosphere." And instead of picking on carbon dioxide per se, it proposes we simply abandon "the dirty fuels of the past."
The memo also recommends embroidering conversations with language about "shared American ideals, like freedom, prosperity, independence and self-sufficiency," which is ironic, since those are the uniquely American qualities that the environmental movement seems to be moving us away from.
What's clear is eco-activists and their allies will do anything to avoid talking about their real goals, which have less to do with cleaning up the environment than with pulling down capitalism.
Every solution they offer to the problems they exaggerate erodes economic freedom, increases regulation or both. Blurring the real meaning of words can't change that.