Environmentalism is suffering a crisis of both image and reality. Two news stories highlight this trend.
The first story is on the reality of electric cars . "The German branch of the environmental group World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has conducted a study together with IZES, a German institute for future energy systems, on the environmental impact of electric vehicles in Germany."
In the "best case" scenario, "overall national carbon dioxide emissions would only be cut by 0.1 percent." In the "worst case," the electric car would be worse than gasoline-powered ones.
"An electric car with a lithium ion battery powered by electricity from an old coal power plant could emit more than 200g of carbon dioxide per km, compared with current average gasoline car of 160g of carbon dioxide per km in Europe."
So the electric car controversy will soon go the way of cloth-vs-plastic diapers, paper-or-plastic grocery bags, and disposable-cup-or-ceramic-mug controversies. All against the original environmentalist position. (Not to mention acid rain or the coming ice age.) The second main story is about the image of environmentalism. The story comes, from all places, the New York Times . The environmental cause is getting an extreme PR makeover. Apparently, a memo got out that was not supposed to get out.
EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the last several years to find new ways to frame environmental issues and so build public support for climate change legislation and other initiatives. A summary of the group's latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations...
Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about "our deteriorating atmosphere." Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up "moving away from the dirty fuels of the past." Don't confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like "cap and cash back" or "pollution reduction refund."
Another consultant had recommended in 2002 that people call themselves "conservationists" not "environmentalists."
The two consultants agree that " ‘climate change' is an easier sell than ‘global warming.' "
Reality bites again.