Shane Frith is director of the classical-liberal think-tank
Progressive Vision. He has worked for Conservative MPs in the UK and
National Party MPs in his native New Zealand. He is a former chairman
of the International Young Democrat Union, linking young people
involved in centre-right political parties worldwide, including the
In most areas of society, reputation management is crucial. An organisation found responsible for a dodgy report that led a global organisation to make erroneous claims would be a laughing stock. Organisations advocating policies responsible for the deaths of millions, and the impoverishment of many more, would be pariahs. At a time when Britain needs to focus on economic growth in order to return the nation to prosperity, anti-capitalist anti-growth organisations should be shunned by conservatives and classical liberals. Yet today, organisations in these categories are courted by politicians and royalty. Others are partnered with corporations seeking to bolster their perceived corporate responsibility and image. Volunteers for these groups openly fund-raise on the streets of Britain and retain charitable status.
For some reason, the environmental movement seems to be immune to the standards to which other organisations are held. WWF’s false claim that Himalayan glaciers might disappear by 2050 fits well with their alarmism about climate change, but for accuracy it rates with Tony Blair’s dodgy dossier. Yet, Sky News now partners with WWF in an attempt to protect the rainforests. Have they consulted the millions of Asians, Africans and South Americans who have their livelihoods threatened by various campaigns of WWF? Their latest campaign is for a blanket ban on the importation of palm oil, despite the fact that most companies adhere to a policy of sustainable harvesting and employ hundreds of thousands. Let’s not allow discredited organisations influence public policy in this way. How can Sky News be seen to be objective on environmental issues with their WWF association? For that matter, what do their colleagues at Fox News think of such a connection?
Since the 1990s, organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have led hysterical campaigns against genetically-modified food. They have delayed the introduction of flood resistant rice by ten years and of golden rice for more than a decade, resulting in the suffering of millions from malnutrition or Vitamin A deficiencies (causing blindness). Throughout this time, these opponents of genetically-modified food have disputed the claims that the science on GM has been settled and that the consensus that GM is safe for human consumption. It is highly ironic given their current claims about the “settled” science on climate change. Any apologies from these groups for their involvement in the suffering of millions? Not a chance. Yet, Eurostar partner with Friends of the Earth as part of their marketing campaign. Maybe it’s time to start flying to Paris and Brussels.
Possibly the most damning activity of these green groups has been their opposition to the use of DDT in combating malaria. Like most readers of this blog, I grew up believing that DDT was a harmful chemical, one that threatens to kill all bird life as described in (the now discredited) Silent Spring. Like most chemicals (including H₂O) if concentrated it can be harmful. However, used in moderation DDT remains an effective insecticide, particularly for controlling malaria carrying mosquitoes. We know, because it was highly successful in the eradication of malaria in southern Europe after World War Two. However, using faulty science, green groups such as Greenpeace have successfully prevented the use of this important tool in Sub-Saharan Africa. This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Most of these groups have now, reluctantly, withdrawn their open opposition to DDT, but again we receive no apology.
Today in Britain, these groups are opposing the construction of a biofuel plant (as long as they receive no taxpayer subsidy, biofuel is an effective way to reduce our dependence on vile Middle Eastern regimes) in Bristol, on spurious grounds. Forget the economic ham to the people of Bristol – they can collect government handouts. The poor who harvest these crops in Malaysia and Indonesia will have no such luxury.
These groups are driven by a green ideology that undervalues human life and prosperity. Their positions on climate change, genetically-modified food, DDT and deforestation have resulted in the deaths or impoverishment of millions. It is time that they were held to account for their past misdeeds. Politicians should not be associating themselves with the likes of Greenpeace in an attempt to win votes. It may be morally questionable to be working with these groups, but it is also politically short-sighted. Who doubts that these groups will turn into vociferous opponents of a Conservative government when it is forced to deal with economic reality, not the woolly-headed ideology of the green lobby?
Last year, Progressive Vision launched Green Monitor to highlight the activities of and harm done by the environmental movement. If we are to combat the harm done by groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF we must work together. We ask supporters to assist in the following ways:
- Alert Green Monitor to local campaigns these groups in where they are spreading false information
- Join Green Monitor
- Where possible avoid using companies that associate with these groups (although watching the BBC rather than Sky is possibly going too far)
- Challenge their supporters when they fundraise in our streets – most of the volunteers will be oblivious as to the actual consequences of their actions
- Ensure politicians don’t share platforms with these groups