Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Earth Day an Oil Industry Scam?

According to 1960s radicals, the environmental movement has been funded and orchestrated by fossil fuel interests.

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Yesterday, I discussed the language used to market a book published in 1970, just prior to the celebration of the first Earth Day on April 22 of that year.

Titled Eco-Catastrophe, it is a collection of articles/essays selected by the editors of Ramparts magazine – which was produced by 1960s-era radicals between 1962 and 1975.

One of its fascinating revelations is that those people thought Earth Day was a crock – and were highly suspicious of the fact that the mainstream, establishment media was eagerly promoting it.

AnĀ Editorial included near the front of the book is worth quoting at length:

The environment may well be the gut issue that can unify a polarized nation in the 1970’s writes Time magazine. The Hearst Press sees it as a movement “that could unite the generations.” And the New York Times solemnly predicts that ecology “will replace Vietnam as the major issue with students.”

…the organizers of the officially-sanctioned April 22 [Earth Day] Teach-In movement are doing their best to give life to the media’s daydream…

We think that any analogy between what is supposed to happen around April 22 and the organization of the Vietnam teach-ins is obscene. We think that the Environmental Teach-In apparatus is the first step in a con game that will do little more than abuse the environment even further.

…The orginators of the Vietnam teach-ins worked at great odds and against the lies and opposition of government, university administrations and the media. They raised their own money and had offices in student apartments or small storefronts. “Earth Day” came to life in the offices of Senator Gaylord Nelson, received blessing from [President Richard] Nixon’s Department of Health, Education and Welfare, was funded by foundations, and has worked out of facilities lent by the Urban Coalition.

Vietnam protesters had to create their own reading lists…The Environmental Teach-In comes pre-packaged; a well-paid and well-staffed national office sends local organizers an official brochure…Friends of the Earth (FOE) provides, through Ballantine Books, a semi-official “Environmental Handbook”… [bold added]

Forty-three years after the first Earth Day was celebrated, young people assume that the history of environmentalism is similar to that of other protest movements. They attempt to ennoble their cause by drawing parallels with the struggle for civil rights, imagining that they themselves are speaking truth to power.

But it was clear to at least some 1960s American activists that the green crusaders were playing a totally different game. The environment has always had friends in high places – politicians, journalists, and charitable foundations that distributed grants like candy.

An article titled The Eco-Establishment, that appears on pages 15-24 of Eco-Catastrophe, points out that the “environment bandwagon is not as recent a phenomenon as it seems.” Remember, this was published in 1970.

The article alleges that green players such as the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund were being financially “nourished” by the Ford Foundation (whose executive committee allegedly included “polluters such as Esso”) during the the 1960s.

It further alleges that the Rockefeller Foundation (funded via the Standard Oil fortune) was also “channelling money” to “the conservation elite” more than four decades ago.

As is the case today, those elites produced research reports that were then publicized by influential media outlets. Which means that the specifics of the green agenda have been determined by well-fed, well-paid people sitting behind desks for approximately half a century.

The green movement has long been a top-down – rather than a grassroots – phenomenon. Or, as the authors of that article phrase it,

The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the [environmental] movement; they built it. [bold added, p. 21]

Here in 2013, climate activists who know nothing about history routinely use the “you’re part of a fossil-fuel-funded misinformation machine and therefore don’t deserve to be listened to” argument.

But according to the 1960s radicals whose analysis has been preserved within the pages of Eco-Catastrophe, the environmental movement is actually a corporate scam – orchestrated by oil interests, amongst others.

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