ElectionWatch: Newsweek Devotes 18 Pages to Fawning over 'Green,' Including Candidates' Credentials
âAt this vital juncture in the Earthâs history, itâs clear that the American people are looking for a presidential candidate who will take climate change âvery seriously.ââ
He was mocking President George W. Bushâs words from the 2000 presidential campaign. Bush, of course, has changed his rhetoric since then, announcing on April 16 that he would like to see a halt in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
In any case, however, Adlerâs statement was highly inaccurate. In a March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 4 percent of respondents said they thought âthe environment and global warmingâ should be the federal governmentâs top priority. It came in behind the economy, the
Still, Adler tried to justify it as a key election issue, saying âlast year more than three voters in 10 said they would take a candidateâs green credentials into account.â Thatâs about 30 percent of voters saying they would even take it âinto account.â But Newsweek used that statistic to herald it as âa leading concern.â
Regardless of public opinion, however, the media have deemed presidential candidatesâ âgreenâ credentials of great import.
Adler painted the candidates, who for the most part were deemed environmentally friendly, as a balm for the world and a grand blessing:
âThe president Americans choose this fall will take office in 2009, the year in which a new international treaty on global warming is to be negotiated, replacing the expiring Kyoto Protocol. It will likely set the course of energy and technological change for the first half of the century, and if
As for the majority of Americans, who according to polls donât regard global warming as a top priority for the next president, Adler didnât offer much voice for any skepticism of charging forward with post-Kyoto measures. He declared environmentalism âa broad-based political force, rather than an elite preoccupation of people concerned about the effect of rising sea levels on beachfront property.â
He did refer to âclimate-change skeptics and deniersâ in the second paragraph, accusing them of charging that âthe threat of global warming is a conspiracy kept alive by the media.â
But for actual sources in his story, Adler stuck with left-wing environmental activists like the Sierra Club. Much of the article played up the rankings of the presidential candidates according to the League of Conservation Voters, a left-wing environmental organization. Then he turned to Friends of the Earth and a
A companion photo gallery on Newsweekâs Web site highlighted âEnvironmental Leaders.â In addition to the obligatory Al Gore, the gallery exalted Rachel Carson, the activist author of âSilent Spring.â
In Green We Trust
The green grandstanding continued with a philosophical column by Newsweekâs Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert evaluating which candidate has the power to âextract sacrifice from the voters who elected him (or her).â
âThe next president is likely to launch the nation on the path toward reducing dangerous CO2 emissions,â Thomas and Wingert wrote, worrying that Congress might not go as easily. âTo go further, to truly tackle the greenhouse effect, will require the one thing from voters that few politicians dare to ask for and fewer achieve: massive public sacrifice.â
The writers found âsome of the qualities requiredâ in all three candidates, but praised Obama the most.
âBarack Obama is the most thrilling speechmaker since JFK, at least as younger and more-educated voters see him,â they wrote. âHe has the intelligence and storytelling ability to fashion a great narrative, a storyline that would help voters see past narrow self-interest to the âbroad, sunlit uplands,â as Winston Churchill once put it.â
Thomas and Wingert whined, âIf we wait until the water starts lapping over
They admitted the need for
Yet Another Magazine List of Ways to Save Us
Newsweek also produced â10 Fixes for the Planet,â the latest in a long trend of media lists about going green. April is traditionally the time when magazines produce âgreen issues.â Newsweekâs list for this year suggests:
1. âZero wasteâ â thatâs right, the next generation of recycling is âŚ no trash?
2. âLED light bulbsâ â âNow that weâve all dutifully stocked up on compact fluorescents, guess what? A new generation of even better bulbs may be on its way.â
3. âGreener fairwaysâ â considering golf courses as natural sanctuaries.
4. âKite sailsâ â shipping using wind power, the new kind with 20,000-square-foot âkitesâ attached to ships.
5. âPlastic solar cellsâ
6. âClimate countsâ â âYou can vote with your dollars to support green companies.â
7. âThe Apteraâ â itâs a car. A three-wheeled hybrid. And it gets 300 mpg.
8. âStoves for the massesâ â energy-efficient stoves for those in countries that still cook with wood.
9. âNew roots for old cropsâ â crossbreeding crops to grow perennial foodstuffs.
10. âDemocratize greenâ â âEcofriendly products need to go mainstream,â i.e. stop being âthe exclusive domain of the wealthy.â
It Didnât Stop There
Despite the endless magazine lists of ways to save the planet, Newsweekâs Sharon Begley declared âthe greatest folly is the âwhat you can doâ fairy tale.â
â[W]e shouldnât fool ourselves that individual eco-conscious behavior can prevent dangerous global warming,â Begley wrote. âThat will require âserious interventions from governments to change how we produce and use energy,â says Gabrielle Walker, coauthor of the new book âThe Hot Topicâ with
Begley made the valid point that many eco-efforts have proved false â for example, sometimes itâs less energy-intensive to buy food shipped in rather than transported locally. She referred to myths about all hybrids being extremely energy-efficient as well as the ethanol myth.
âWhen you tote up the carbon emissions caused by clearing land to grow corn, fertilizing it and transporting it, corn ethanol leaves twice the carbon footprint as gasoline,â Begley wrote.
Still, Begleyâs sources followed Adlerâs lead of left-wing organizations only: Jonathan Harrington, author of âThe Climate Dietâ; NASAâs James Hansen; the Union of Concerned Scientistsâ David Friedman; Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress.
Business did get a mention â apparently itâs okay to be a capitalist as long as your business has to do with the environment. One article about âGreen M.B.A.â programs told the story of a business student who started a business called Ecohome Improvement.
She âwanted to go to business school without feeling as if she was selling her soul,â Newsweek helpfully noted. But never fear: the magazine declared that the businesswomanâs 200-percent increase in revenue was just fine, thanks to the eco-nature of her trade. âSoul intact, she is cashing in,â the article concluded.
Businesses also strutted their environmental stuff in green advertising amidst Newsweekâs pages. Siemens and Vestas ads sported windmills, while Chevrolet touted a hybrid SUV and Target urged readers to send in their plastic Target bags to get a reusable shopping bag and to âLove your mother (earth).â Ricoh, an office technology company, boasted that it is âboosting the earthâs immune system.â Clorox declared itâs a âproud supporter of the Sierra Clubâs efforts to preserve and protect the planet.â