Peter Dykstra: The Age of Medieval Greenwashing

Last week, I dug up an archaeological site to reveal ancient green washes and my denier. This week, I present five more that remain to this day.


Heartland Institute

Chicago-based Heartland may be known for three things: its annual conference that brings together climate deniers from around the world; And two massive embarrassments within a few months of each other in 2012 briefly seemed to threaten Heartland’s very existence.

In February of that year, one of Heartland’s enemies, scientist Peter Gleick, obtained internal documents that showed deep cynicism at the group’s efforts to raise funds and provide biased climate information to schoolchildren. Glick did this by impersonating a Heartland board member. He endured the punishment and criticism (including, for what it’s worth, from me), apologized, and returned to his job at the Pacific Institute a few months later. But Heartland remained plagued by the disclosures.

Then in May 2012, Heartland sewed in a big pile of arrogance of her own. Electronic billboards appeared briefly on Chicago highways to liken advocates of climate change action to killer villains like the Unabomber and Osama bin Laden. The uproar was massive and immediate. The billboards have disappeared. So did some Heartland support.

With a bit of chastity, Heartland survived. The Deniers Conference, which I like to call “Deny-a-Palooza,” continues today.

Ketchum and other “key” PR firms

I have some first-hand experience with Ketchum, an international PR firm that occasionally works in industries with a poor environmental reputation. In 1991, shortly before I left Greenpeace, the group received a preview copy of a “PR crisis” plan developed by Ketchum for Clorox, a chlorine bleach retailer. The plan details legal threats to both Greenpeace and “Green Reporters” who have raised questions about the safety of chlorine and other suspected tactics. punch line? Clorox was never a target for Greenpeace – until its PR firm’s counter-attack strategy faltered.

Public disclosures such as Ketchum’s example are scarce. Industry defenses against science, journalism, or advocacy are confidential. But they are there. Two examples in recent years involve journalists in high positions employed by industries eager to portray themselves as loyal.

Edelman Worldwide snatched Dina Capiello, a respected reporter for the Associated Press and other news organizations, in 2015. Edelman has at best a spotty reputation for hiring in dirty industries, but there is no evidence that Cappiello focused on those accounts. Two years ago, I took a job at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the visionary clean energy group founded by Amory and Hunter Lovins.

Father died, long ago The New York Times The reporter, whose reporting on nuclear energy has sometimes been criticized by anti-nuclear advocates, worked at the Nuclear Energy Institute in 2015. He stayed there for six years.

Center for Organizational Research and Education (CORE)

Even many of those who follow the green wash and denial are familiar with CORE. They’re the newly baptized front group of attorney Rick Berman, who has invented more than a dozen other groups to launch guerrilla media attacks on environmental, consumer, labor, and animal rights and safety organizations — even MADD and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (!). The Distilled Spirits Council viewed grieving mothers as a threat, apparently.

Berman’s anti-environmental work has appeared under the radar multiple times, including in 2014 The New York Timesexposure.

Berman’s “Big Green Roots” attempts to portray mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC as tyrants who exploit the meek, like ExxonMobil and Chevron-Texaco.

Thirty-five years after Berman and Company was founded. Rick Berman doesn’t seem to be slowing down at 80. And as society grapples with long-term threats like smoking, obesity, and climate change and confronts new threats like plastic pollution and PFAS chemicals, customers won’t be short of it.

Taurus moose from Taurus climate sh * t

In 1992, Mark Morano signed on as a young reporter and producer for Rush Limbaugh’s syndicated radio show. By 2004, he worked for the Cybercast News Service, where he did serious damage to Democrat John Kerry’s presidential campaign by reporting allegations that had never been proven that Kerry’s service record in Vietnam was bogus. In 2000, he delivered full-time climate denial to Senator Jim Einhove’s staff, directing a relentless stream of anti-science propaganda.

In 2009, he moved to Committee for Tomorrow’s Construction (CFACT), where he edited for ClimateDepot.com. Later that year, another piece of news fell into his lap when 10,000 emails among climate scientists fell into his lap ahead of the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference. The selective release of a few of these emails suggested scientists were rolling the world’s eyes by Climate fraud.

Multiple investigations resulted in no evidence of this Which Such fraud, but that didn’t stop the portrayal of “ClimateGate” as a corruption scandal nearly 13 years later.

CFACT remains an essential resource for far-right media and politicians. Murano easily returns to McCarthy’s red-handed mania for horror in the 1950s to connect scientists to a vast invisible gang to flood the global economy. In recent years it has been written off by anyone to the left of Fox News.

According to ProPublica’s 2020 survey of IRS filings under Form 990 for nonprofits, Morano withdrew a base salary of $182,000 that year. Not bad for a movement that likes to accuse climate scientists that they only work for the money.

Pat Moore, from Greenpeace to Green Wash

Another person with whom I have a direct connection: Patrick Moore, Young Ph.D. He joined Greenpeace shortly after its founding, and became a leader of the Vancouver-based group in the mid-1970s.

As Greenpeace grew worldwide towards the end of the decade, internecine war broke out between the original group and their burgeoning San Francisco chapter. The armistice designed by other Greenpeace entities in Europe brought stability to the worldwide organization, but left Moore far from its leadership. He left Greenpeace in 1986, declaring that it had deviated from its original duties.

Within a few years, Pat Moore employed all kinds of Greenpeace opponents: timber, aquaculture, nuclear power, polyvinyl chloride chemicals, and more. His transformation was an irresistible media lure, and through his Ecosense collection it remains so today.

At one point in 2017, the Nuclear Energy Institute used Moore to promote nuclear power as a “zero carbon” threat to climate change, while Canadian Fossil Fuel Energy used it as a speaker to question that climate change was real.

The early work of Pat Moore for the British Columbia lumber industry provided what I believe to be a perpetual green washing line: “A clear road is a temporary meadow.”

There are a lot of profitable efforts to find enthusiastic audiences to push for, say, plastic recycling as a cure-all for what we find to be a huge and growing problem.

Common sense and mounting scientific evidence can be weak weapons against slick BS and good funding

Peter Dykstra is our Weekend Editor and columnist. for him The views do not necessarily represent the opinions of Environmental Health News, the Daily Climate, or the Environmental Health Science Publisher.

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