Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.
Why did Kumi Naidoo leave Greenpeace’s top job before a replacement was found? The Guardian prints clichés and asks no hard questions.
On the last day of 2015, the UK Guardian published a 2,000-word article about Kumi Naidoo, whose six-year tenure as head of Greenpeace International has now ended. The Guardian sees itself not as a news source duty-bound to provide readers with a range of viewpoints so that they can make fully informed decisions. Instead, it’s an eco propaganda machine, a self-professed climate campaigner. Its newsroom takes sides, knows who the good and bad guys are, and where the truth lies.
This makes for bad journalism, shallow thinking, and wasted opportunities. For example, this article tells us that
Naidoo slaps the table, and says: “It is wrong for humanity to think that we can live in a way that shows no regard to animal and plant species…
This is presented as though it were a revolutionary idea rather than the tritest cliché imaginable. Here in 2016 my supermarket urges me to embrace cloth bags for the sake of the environment. The paper I use in my home office printer tells me it comes from ‘responsible sources.’ The Ikea catalog that serves as reading material in my bathroom preaches sustainability. The school system is turning kids in my community into green scolds. And the latest Star Wars movie was preceded by a climate change ad from my government at the cinema.
Contemporary Western societies ooze concern for the environment. For decades, we’ve funded vast government bureaucracies with significant budgets and startling powers devoted to protecting non-humanity. The first Earth Day was celebrated back in 1970 and was enthusiastically promoted by the media of the time. This means that anyone 50 years old or younger has grown up in a world in which we’ve been exhorted non-stop to tread carefully, reduce our footprint, respect the earth, save the whales, and to worry about polar bears, the rainforest, the ozone hole, and a host of other ecological concerns.
As an illuminating paper published in 2009 explains, widespread concern for the biosphere actually extends back to at least 1948, a year in which books titled Our Plundered Planet (written by a gent born in 1887) and Road to Survival weren’t merely published in America, they became bestsellers.
The world isn’t awash in troglodytes who think it’s OK to indiscriminately massacre fauna and trample flora. That sort of thinking hasn’t been fashionable for several generations. So what is Naidoo talking about? How could such a remark be amongst his parting thoughts, and how could the Guardian consider it worth printing?
The obvious answer is that the people who worked on this story (two reporters and an unknown number of editors) share Naidoo’s comic-book fantasy world – one that’s occupied by evil villains who apparently have nothing better to do than stomp on baby animals.
Journalism worthy of its name would have focused instead on the real world. Naidoo might have been asked why Greenpeace, via its opposition to genetically-modified golden rice, is condemning hundreds of thousands of poor children to blindness every year.
He might have been asked what changes were made internally at Greenpeace after its activists vandalized Peru’s ecologically fragile Nazca Lines in late 2014. Why did these activists flee the country rather than face the music? Why are Peruvian authorities being forced to pursue their extradition?
Naidoo might have been quizzed about the horrendous working conditions of Greenpeace canvassers that came to light in 2015. Finally, he might have been asked to explain why he was departing before his replacement had been found. Greenpeace’s website says Mads Christensen is only the interim executive director. Which means either Naidoo left sooner than planned, or the hiring process hasn’t gone as expected.
The details associated with this transfer of power at what the article describes as “the world’s most recognised environmental organisation” may or may not be significant. But don’t expect to read a hard-nosed assessment of such matters in the Guardian.
lots more about Greenpeace here