CHICAGO - Heartland Institute has been the one single national organization that's stood up against the radical environmentalist movement. They've led the effort with scientific and logical arguments, and the American public by and large agrees with their assessment. Global warming (or "climate change") is not a serious issue to over two-thirds of Americans, polls say.
In a recent op-ed, Heartland Institute's Joe Bast notes how conservatives led the anti-pollution movement during the 1970s and 80s, when environmental issues were passed with bi-partisan majorities in Congress. But a change took place in the 80s, and the issue became political - and a weapon of the radical Left. Bast writes:
The great environmental protection legislation of the 1970s passed with nearly unanimous support because the problems were real and begged for national solutions. After early major successes, an iron triangle of bureaucrats, grandstanding politicians, and yellow journalists started a drum-beat for pursuing ever-more stringent emission reductions regardless of their negligible benefits and soaring costs. The consensus that had produced lop-sided votes in favor of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts disappeared, not because of some kind of “political stasis in the ‘90s,” but because the biggest environmental problems had been solved and further legislation wasn’t needed.
It was at this point, during the 1980s, that liberals (or “progressives”) saw the opportunity and the need to take over the environmental movement and use its members as shock troops in its war on “capitalism.” It was easy, since conservatives and libertarians were stepping down and moving on to organizations created to solve real problems. Many histories of the left’s takeover of the environmental movement have been written. A partial list appears in Jay Lehr’s recent Heartland Policy Brief on “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Once in charge of the environmental movement, the left turned its erstwhile members into conscripts much like the others in its army: organized labor, feminists, African Americans, trial lawyers, and gays and lesbians. Donors to the environmental movement – solar and wind entrepreneurs, ethanol producers, lawyers, and billionaire financiers like Tom Steyer – are dunned for contributions to the Democratic Party and its affiliates. Propaganda replaces factual information, hysterical warnings of threats to rights and privileges lead to calls to action and “remember to vote on Tuesday.”
The politicization of the movement is made explicit by the League of Conservation Voters’ annual scorecards, which invariably reward Democrats and punish Republicans. The 2013 National Environmental Scorecard, which it says “represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations,” includes this nice tribute to bipartisanship: “The Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives continues to be controlled by Tea Party climate change deniers with an insatiable appetite for attacks on the environment and public health.”
Heartland Institute just wrapped up its Ninth International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas, and will be holding its annual fundraising banquet September 12th at The Cotillion in Palatine.
Illinois Review readers will get a 20% discount when buying tickets online and entering the code word "LIBERTY." This year's keynoter is conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.