Green activism is all the rage these days, with events taking up so much calendar space you might need a separate one just to keep track – just be sure it’s printed on post-consumer recycled paper, of course.
Many of these events, like the April 14 Step It Up demonstrations, are designed to pressure the government into regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and regulation will cost businesses and taxpayers plenty of greenbacks.
Green days receive uncritical media coverage. After all, what journalist wants to dampen the mood by talking about costs to the economy or harm to businesses when former vice presidents, celebrities and ordinary people are trying to save the planet?
“What can Al Gore expect now that he is organizing a concert to save the entire planet from a global warming disaster,” asked the Los Angeles Times on February 16. Noting that Bob Geldof earned a knighthood for Live Aid, a previous fundraising concert, the paper asked:
“Would King Al be out of line?”
Eco-activists have already celebrated the Climate Crisis Action Day and International Earth Day in March, as well as Step It Up global warming rallies on April 14, but there are many more green days and green press to come.
Earth Day is just around the corner on April 22; Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts will be held on all seven continents on July 7; and a number of smaller events are planned throughout the year.
Uncritical coverage of eco-rallies and protests is not new. The New York Times was squarely on the side of “thoughtful” green warriors in coverage following the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
“Conservation is a cause that has been espoused by some thoughtful Americans at least since the days of Thoreau, a cause whose time has come because life is running out …to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction,” the Times editorialized on April 23, 1970.
But even the Times in 1970 hinted at the real result of the green agenda: “enormous expenditures.”
Those expenditures will be paid for by taxes and regulations, which will act as taxes by driving prices up.
Step Up the Regulation, Forget About Cost
Climate activists rallied in more than 1,300 locations across the United States on April 14 to “Step it Up,” calling on Congress to regulate carbon emissions – specifically a mandatory 80-percent decrease in U.S. emissions by 2050.
The rallies were previewed or covered by ABC “World News Saturday,” The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and BusinessWeek, just to name a few. But what those outlets didn’t report was the devastating cost of Step It Up’s pro-regulatory agenda.
“In nearly every corner of the country, at gatherings large and small, Americans demanded Congress take action on global warming,” reported ABC’s Stephanie Sy on April 14.
Sy’s report excluded a reality check from critics like Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell told the Business & Media Institute (BMI) that “if you really wanted to cut emissions by 80 percent most people would have to give up their cars, get rid of air conditioning and only heat one room of their house.”
The cost to the economy would be tremendous. BMI reported in the study Fire and Ice  that signing on to Kyoto would have cost the United States several hundred billion dollars a year.
Yet the cry of Step It Up is an 80-percent reduction of emissions, “far beyond the goals” of Kyoto, BusinessWeek reported on April 9. So it would cost the U.S. even more green than Kyoto.
Instead of reporting the costs, Sy quoted four environmental activists, including Step It Up organizer Bill McKibben, who called the 80-percent decrease “pretty doable” at the rate of 2 percent per year.
But neither McKibben nor Sy mentioned that according to the pro-regulatory group U.S. PIRG, carbon emissions increased by 18 percent between 1990 and 2004.
That makes decreasing emissions by 80 percent a much larger task because emissions have not stayed at a constant level.
The New York Times offered a glowing 1,225-word profile of McKibben on March 14, calling him “the philosopher-impresario of the program of climate-change rallies called Step It Up.”
Not a single critic of McKibben’s goal was included in those 1,225 words.
In “The Greening of America’s Campuses,” BusinessWeek gushed on April 9 that Step It Up could become legendary and “it could help catalyze the first mass student movement since the days of the Vietnam War.”
Live Earth – More Hot Air
The bulk of media coverage of Al Gore’s concerts to save the planet is still to come, as Live Earth will be held on July 7, but already CNN has misreported why one of the concerts will be taking place in New Jersey instead of Washington, D.C.
“[Gore] wanted to have his July 7 concert on the National Mall in Washington,” said “American Morning” anchor Miles O’Brien on April 10. “His global warming nemesis, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, threatened to block that plan.”
But O’Brien was wrong. Inhofe didn’t try to prevent Gore’s concert from taking place on the National Mall. The reason Live Earth couldn’t be held on the Mall was because the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a Christian festival called Together One Unity already have the Mall reserved on that date, according to the April 11 Washington Post.
Inhofe did seek to prevent Live Earth from taking place on the grounds of the Capitol, because “there has never been a partisan political event at the Capitol, and this is a partisan political event,” the Post explained.
Media mentions of “King Al’s” worldwide climate concerts conveniently leave out questions about how much energy those events will consume, how much CO2 will be spewed by the entertainers and attendees, or how much waste will be left over after such events.
The BBC reported on July 3, 2005, that the “150 tonnes of rubbish generated by the Live 8 crowd would be the amount normally collected in around 10 days.”
On April 10, the U.K.’s Daily Mail highlighted the hypocrisy  of several entertainers scheduled to perform at the Live Earth concerts, including Madonna, who “produced 440 tonnes of CO2 in four months last year” and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who used 220 tons in six months on their private jet during their last world tour.
The paper quoted John Buckley of CarbonFootprint.com, who stated that the average British person emits 10 tons of carbon a year, far less than the celebrities.
But media outlets like “Good Morning America” have talked about Gore like he was a Teen Beat cover boy.
“There is one man sure to make a splash on that red carpet tonight,” Kate Snow said of Gore on February 25.
Later in the broadcast, Snow had more praise for Gore and his mission: “He’s organizing a huge concert event this summer, sort of like Live Aid, but for global warming. And, oh, yeah, he’s up for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
Like Step It Up, a main function of many green days is to demand greenhouse gas emissions caps.
But how will we achieve that lower emissions goal? Step It Up doesn’t know. Organizers say they are “not advocating any particular set of solutions,” according to the Web site.
But experts like Ebell say such a reduction is impossible.
“Practically speaking, what they want is impossible without some kind of technical breakthrough,” said Ebell, who added that breakthroughs are impossible to predict.
Ebell explained that 85 percent of all energy in the world currently comes from coal, oil and natural gas, and while alternative energy sources exist, they are either politically unpopular or very expensive. Most, like wind power, can only fill small niches of the energy market, he said.
“Like energy taxes, carbon caps would increase the prices consumers must pay for electricity, gasoline, food, and manufactured goods. Poor households would be hit hardest, because they spend a larger portion of total income on energy,” Lewis wrote.