Greens Seeing Red

By Lowell Ponte |

July 7, 2003


This has been a nearly silent spring, a chilly start to the 2004 political season for those leftists who camouflage themselves in the olive drab anti-business, anti-private property rhetoric of extreme environmentalism.

The prospects for imposing socialism via the back door of eco-regulation have declined to their lowest ebb since 1970, when the first Earth Day was set to coincide with the 100th birthday of Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin.

The reasons for this fade in Green politics are many. Science and uncertainty have undercut the simpleton certitude that used to fuel the eco-ideology of many movement followers. The hypocrisy and exposed secret motives of some environmental leaders have alienated many.

The 2000 political rift between Greens and the Democratic Party has not healed. And today’s Democratic candidates, by apparently favoring greed over Green, elicit little enthusiasm or trust among sincere environmentalists.

“This is the most anti-environmental administration in our history,” said Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) vaguely at a June 26 UCLA forum for Democratic Presidential hopefuls sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters. Only five candidates bothered to come. Those aligned with organized labor and its concern over jobs, Reps. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), stayed away as did Senators John Edwards (D-NC) and Bob Graham (D-FL).

As Sen. Lieberman spoke, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) must have squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. Like other Democrats pandering to environmental activists, Kerry had opposed helping make America independent of Middle Eastern oil by drilling in 20 frozen acres of the 1.2 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

But in Massachusetts Senator Kerry has been frantically ducking a politically tougher environmental issue. Kerry had called for a “new Manhattan project” to develop clean sources of energy. But now entrepreneurs are proposing to build a giant “wind farm,” a vast complex of modern windmills to harvest the clean, renewable energy gusting across the waters of Horseshoe Shoal seven miles off Nantucket Island.

What Energy Management, Inc., proposes building is not a quaint line of windmills of the sort jousted by Don Quixote. It would install 130 turbines anchored into the sea floor, up to one-half mile apart, across 24 square miles of ocean. Each would stand taller than the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Each would have three 161-foot blades turning at 16 revolutions per minute.

Experts calculate that this Cape Wind project would generate 75 percent of all the electricity consumed on Cape Cod – which is 1.8 percent of all electricity used in New England. This would be ultra-clean energy of the kind Greens crave, gotten in perpetuity without burning a drop of oil or coal that might affect global warming.

You might think that environmentally passionate leftists would be lining up to endorse this picture-perfect project. But you would be wrong.

Eco-activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., says he loves wind energy – but not where its turbines will pockmark the ocean horizon within sight of his wealthy family’s Hyannisport home. “I think the first obligation of all environmentalists,” Kennedy told the Boston Globe, “is to protect their own backyards.”

Legendary CBS anchorman and self-proclaimed liberal Walter Cronkite, who owns a huge mansion on Martha’s Vineyard, has hyperbolically denounced the wind farm as “a private developer’s plan to build an industrial energy complex….” Thus are simple windmills made to sound like ominous nuclear reactors and a threat to mankind.

Likewise, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), and other prominent Massachusetts liberals who usually give loud lip service to every environmentalist cause, are using every legal and political trick in the book to deep six this wind farm before its first turbine can turn.

“It’s like any tactical fight,” says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace and a supporter of the Cape Wind project. “They’re pushing every channel. It’s the same stuff we use when we want to block something. You go from every angle, because you never know which one will stick. Ultimately it’s a NIMBY argument.” (NIMBY is an acronym of the words “Not In My Back Yard.”)

No wonder Senator John Forbes Kerry has tried to avoid taking a clear stand on this issue in his own political backyard. One recent poll showed that in a Bush-Kerry match-up for President, President George W. Bush today would carry Massachusetts by a margin as large as six percent of the vote against native son Kerry.

The Nature Conservancy is another group of ecologists being accused of leftist hypocrisy. In a series of articles in May, Washington Post investigative reporters Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway laid out evidence that high officials of this widely admired environmental organization had engaged in questionable activities.

One organization official reportedly purchased for himself a choice 10-acre site on New York’s Shelter Island for $1.6 million less than what the Nature Conservancy had paid for it only seven weeks earlier. The deal was rationalized by, among other things, the buyer’s agreement to build one huge mansion for his family on the site instead of a subdivision of luxury tract homes – thereby “preserving” the land. He also donated $1.6 million to the Nature Conservancy, but in a manner he could then claim as a tax write-off.

An investigation of this and other examples of questionable use of lands the Nature Conservancy purportedly acquired for preservation as a tax-exempt organization is now underway. Evidence suggests that some of the group’s activities were very much “for profit” – and the government will try to ascertain whose. The Nature Conservancy has hired lawyers in what reportedly is an attempt to prevent or deflect this probe.

No, it isn’t easy being green nowadays. New Zealand may be launching a new flatulence tax on every cow and sheep on its soil to pay for research into the greenhouse gases these livestock emit, but President Bush has shown little such enthusiasm for eco-taxation or regulation. Mr. Bush also refuses to endorse the Kyoto Protocol on so-called global warming, through which Green Party-influenced European nations aim to hobble the U.S. with taxes and rules as extreme and onerous as their own.

Scientific evidence now casts growing doubts about global warming. Is it as severe as the most extreme alarmists claim? Could it be, as argued in my 1976 book The Cooling (Prentice-Hall) and discussed most recently in the June 4, 2003, issue of the British journal New Scientist, that pollution might be cooling the planet as well as warming it? Could pollution make our world greener and more pleasant, especially in now-chilly places such as Canada and northern Europe, the very nations most eager to prevent a warmer world? Is it possible, as this column has documented, that little or no global warming is happening at all?

Ralph Nader, the 2000 Green Party presidential candidate, was widely blamed for winning the 92,000 Florida votes that “cost” Democratic Party candidate Al Gore the Presidency. Mr. Nader recently said he may run again in 2004, “maybe even as a Republican.” Democrats would prefer that the Green Party commit suicide, disband, and in its last will and testament give directions to its followers to vote for whomever the Democratic Party makes its standard-bearer.

But would the Greens have been happy with Mr. Gore as their “environmental” President?

Many remember the river canoeing photo opportunity Gore staged during the 2000 campaign. As Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon ferreted out, to make sure Gore would not scrape his canoe bottom, this shallow river was swelled by emptying enough emergency water from a reservoir to have flushed nearly every toilet in the United States for a day. Gore had this done despite the locale, Connecticut, suffering severe drought at the time and needing every drop of the water Gore’s photo op wasted. His running mate, Connecticut Senator Lieberman, made no complaint about Gore leaving his thirsty state up a creek without a paddle.

No wonder that genuine environmentalists hold Gore and his fellow “liberal” politicians in utter contempt. And no wonder that sincere Greens are increasingly unwilling to be puppets manipulated by the Democratic Party. It isn’t easy being Green – but it shouldn’t be sleazy, either.


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