Investment and other financial matters

The Jig Is Up On Wacko Environmentalism

October 17 2008

Lawrence Solomon

The next commodity to collapse will be mass-marketed environmentalism,
which will come to be disdained

Stock market indexes have plummeted from their inflated peaks. Oil and
other commodities have likewise plummeted.

The next commodity to tumble from unsustainable peak levels:

In part, I am making this prediction because, in my 30 years as an
environmentalist, I have never seen so many governments and so many
corporations so profusely espousing so many environmental causes. Where
promoting environmentalism was once seen as daring and counter-cultural,
today it has become banal, no longer the exclusive preserve of a Body
Shop chain, but of every retailer down to Wal-Mart.

For the same reason that clothes go out of fashion after the masses
embrace them, mass-marketed environmentalism will come to be disdained.
That won’t sell for long.

I am predicting a collapse of today’s Wal-Mart environmentalism for
another reason, too: Much of it is misguided, based on misunderstanding
and vacuity.Global warming is by far the biggest such example. Those who
have been following my Denier series in these pages know that large
numbers of distinguished scientists dispute the conventional wisdom on
climate change, making absurd the claim that the science is settled on
climate change. And yet government and corporate propaganda – in global
warming and elsewhere – strip away all subltety and uncertainty in their
public relations programs, portraying environmental problems and
proposing environmental solutions in cartoon-cutout simplicity that,
more often than not, accomplish nothing good or make matters worse.

While governments and industry discount major environmental issues that
affect crown corporations and crown resources (nuclear power, forestry),
they stir up concerns in consumer areas that have high visibility and
often pose few true hazards. The results are often perverse: Blue Box
recycling programs that promote waste; ethanol blends for automobiles
that benefit the farm lobby while depleting the land and fouling the
air; bans on incandescent bulbs that ignore consumer preferences but
please light bulb manufacturers seeking lucrative new markets; public
transit systems that run near-empty buses along low-density routes;
"Right-to-Farm" laws that legalize polluting practices; demonization of
private water systems, including bans on water bottles, when private
systems have a superior safety and environmental record – in short, most
of the environmental policies that governments put before the public are

A third reason for my prediction that environmentalism has peaked is the
instinct for self-preservation among the political leadership. Thinking
they could raise revenues while appearing green, opportunistic
politicians have been promoting environmental taxes without having a
credible case to make. The result, increasingly, is political ruin.

 The federal election results this week are, in good part, a testament
to Liberal leader St├ęphan Dion’s failure to sell his Green Shift – the
Liberals obtained the lowest share of the vote since Confederation.

In England, where citizens face the world’s highest burden of green
taxes, the ruling Labour Party received a miserable 3% of the vote in
by-elections earlier this year and London’s mayor, the greenest in
Europe, was thrown out of office.

Across Europe, once-green politicians are now backing away from their
earlier commitments to push green agendas.

In stock and commodity markets, when values fall from unrealistically
high levels, they often fall further than justified. When
environmentalism falls from its high values on the realization that many
concerns have been oversold, it too will likely fall further than
justified. Environmentalism will then need to reestablish public trust
before real environmental gains can be made.

As history shows, after being burned in the stock market, investors
often stay away for years, fearful of being burned again. The lack of
trust harms the greater economy. We have no history of what happens when
citizens feel taken in by false environmental claims.

But we may soon find out!…

Warmest Regards


"I’ve argued time and again that the old trade unionists and CND
lesbians didn’t go away. They just morphed into environmentalists. The
red’s become green but the goals remain the same. And there’s no better
way of achieving those goals than turning the lights out and therefore
winding the clock back to the Stone Age. Only when we’re all eating
leaves under a hammer and sickle will they be happy." Jeremy Clarkson,
BBC Top Gear

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