March 7, 2007

When the New York Times (a daily always eager to head the media  pack)
suddenly praises Al Gore as a visionary environmentalist and superstore chains like
Walmart and Tesco don the mantle of ‘friends of the earth’ one can safely conclude
the snow has melted clearing the way to a ‘Springtime for the Greenies.’

               The thaw-out began some time ago but turned into a flood after global scientists
last month tabled a doomsday report on climatic changes and former U.S. vice-president
and presidential candidate Al Gore shared a Hollywood Oscar for a documentary on global

               Overnight converts blossomed on every political patch. Chronic and calcified
skeptics like President George Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard stumbled
towards the new bandwagon. Cabinet ministers down to village mayors extolled their
virtues as environmentalists and announced their own ‘significant’ efforts to save
the earth. Fierce critics of global warming executed one hundred and eighty degree turns
while industry, once the sworn nemesis of any change that could imperil their profit
margins, fell over one another to add ‘ecologically friendly’ tags to their advertising
               New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd, notorious for mocking Al Gore
during the 2,000 election campaign as ‘The Ozone Man obsessed about global
warming and the information highway� this month did one of those opportunistic ‘turn
and face the other way’ switches when she wrote the world would be in better shape if
Gore sat in the Oval Office instead of the current occupant. (Gore lost to George W. Bush
in a much disputed razor-edge election)

              Needless to point out much of the new interest in Mother Earth has been
prompted by opportunism and hypocrisy, the former to cash in, the latter to save face.
Even presidents, premiers and prime ministers suddenly and ardently wished to save
water - to save energy, to stop pollution, to reduce fossil fuel emissions after having
dismissed or ridiculed the peril of global warming and climatic change for decades as â
€˜unproven scientific speculation’ or the more blunt ‘hogwash.’
                Industry, most vulnerable (thanks to a revolution in communications) to global
campaigns charging it with environmental and human rights violations was quicker then
governments to confront, neutralize and even take the lead in the battle to save the planet.

                Environmentalist guru George Monbiot argues in his investigation ‘The New
Friends of the Earth’ that after being classified as the arch enemies of the
environment during the 1980 and 90s “embarrassingly, for those of us who have
scorned the idea of corporate social responsibility, some of these companies now claim to
be setting higher standards than any government would dare to impose on them. Marks
and Spencer, for example, has promised to become carbon neutral and to cease sending
waste to landfill by 2012 and to stop stocking any fish, wood or paper which has not been
sustainably sourced. Tesco promises to attach a carbon label to all its goods, Walmart
now says it will run its US stores entirely on renewable energy.�

                Big corporations have reshaped the world at will to make bigger profits for
themselves. Today most of them are noisily trumpeting their innovation of environmental-
friendly measures. The switch to ‘greenies’ will, of course, allow them to continue
making large or even larger profits.

               Most people would say there is nothing wrong with this, except, as Monbiot
points out: ‘It reflects the failure of democracy and the success of the market.’

                 He wrote: “Held back by forces both real and imagined, politicians have
failed to confront the environmental crisis, just as they have failed to tackle inequality, or to
challenge the power of the White House, the media barons, the corporations and the
banks. The choice between two rival brands of margarine appears to have become more
meaningful then the choice between Labor and Conservatives.�

                   The media, dexterous in its flexibility, is also changing tack. Take as example
New York Times columnist Dowd and her change of heart about Al Gore.

                   (Gore was a dove on war, on terrorism and on Iraq.)

                   In her past columns Dowd sneered at Gore as a member of ‘the wackadoo
wing of the Democratic Party’ and derided him as “the champion of Kyodo and
author of a chicken-little polemic warning of an ecological Kristallnacht and wasteland….â

                 Before the 2,000 election she told her readers: “I have zero desire to see
President Gore round the clock putting comely interns to sleep with charts and lectures on
gaseous reduction.�

             In 1999 Dowd wrote: “Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically
correct he is practically lactating.�

              And she made more fun of Gore in recent years after he had told his ‘fellow
Americans’ during a TV interview that President Bush “has created more anger
and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the
228 years of our existence as a nation.�

             Of course Gore has now been vindicated, both for his assessment of the Bush
Effect and his battle against global warming. Hollywood honored him with an Oscar and
Ms Dowd, like so many politicians and heads of state, is back-pedaling as fast as she can
pedal while pretending she was never wrong.

           Save the Earth! Down with Pollution! End the War!

             You can read and hear all about it in your favorite media - tomorrow.