Climate Week: Denial Never Sleeps

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Anti-activists: “Real grassroots; not Astroturf”

Wandering through New York in the early part of Climate Week, climate activists were interrupted periodically by forceful protesters assuring us that climate change is not a scientific reality, it’s a wild-eyed plot by the dastardly Al Gore and his minions to trick us into wrecking the (Exxon?) economy.

When questioned as to whom was funding the most prominent of these protests (in front of the NY Public Library immediately before the opening ceremony), a well-dressed, 30-something pamphleteer said, “We are. We’re real grasroots; not Astroturf.”

This sounds exactly like a guilty conscience. It also sounds, in the vernacular, like bullshit.

The group in question was promoting two things: DDT and a movie called Not Evil Just Wrong. The record of Monsanto’s favourite killer of all tiny things is well-established, and the anti-activists’ contention that the DDT ban somehow increased the worldwide toll from malaria is pointedly (if not also purposefully) incorrect. DDT, banned for agricultural use, is still in common distribution as an anti-mosquito weapon.

As for the movie, check out the cheery image at left and you’ll get a likely sense of the mood the filmmakers are trying to strike. But looking back at director Ann Mclhinney’s last film, Mine Your Own Business, you probably get a more accurate sense of the purpose. MYOB was an attack on environmental concern, sponsored by the mining company Gabriel Resources.

McElhinney has turned up here and there since, praising the role of CO2 in the world or making excuses for companies that make a huge amount of money by trodding on the rights of mining victims. The “Not Evil” website shows no sponsorships but links to the Tea Party Express movement, the quintessential Astroturf operation, with support from groups like FreedomWorks, and “think” tanks like Heartland Institute, whose stock-in-trade is to whip up phoney populist campaigns, often executed by people who don’t even know that organizer put the whole “party” together with self-interested corporate cash.

So now we have the pre-promotion for a movie due for release in less than a month. We can undoubtedly expect an even more enthusiastic roll-out as we get closer to the actual day (October 18, 2009). Even more, we can expect rising cries that it is an arm’s length effort – “real grassroots; not Astroturf.”

Don’t buy it. If McElhinney won’t account for her funding, ask why not. For the time being, the quick denial that this is fake grassroots seems, rather, like an absolute confirmation.

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