What the green movement got right

Posted by jamess — 4 November 2010 at 7:26pm - Comments

Wind turbine construction in Butterwick

Channel 4 has broadcast another film bashing environmentalists, including Greenpeace.

We put science and practical solutions at the core of everything we do, which is why we're dismayed that Channel 4 would commission a programme littered with bad science and factual errors.

It's not just us saying it. Earlier this week statistics about climate change opinions from MORI had to be removed because they were misleading. Now one of the main contributors, Adam Werbach, is publically saying he was badly misled by Channel 4. If you'd like to read our response to the Channel 4 claims, go here.

The programme portrays the contributors to the film as the "new environmentalists", but scratch below the surface and there is nothing new. There are corporate lobbyists and a climate change skeptic, along with a few honest people. But what makes them 'new', god only knows. 

What the Green Movement Got Wrong is a documentary film claiming "that by clinging to an ideology formed more than 40 years ago, the traditional green lobby has failed in its aims and is ultimately harming its own environmental cause".  Channel 4 has a history of broadcasting misleading documentaries that attempt to discredit the environmental movement (who can forget The Great Global Warming Swindle?). It creates controversial television in the hope of boosting ratings.

But we want to debate facts. We know from our long history of challenging entrenched power - whether in the form of governments or corporations - that our strength is in our transparency, in science and in our promotion of solutions. That's why we've set out the facts in response to the claims made in the programme, so people can make up their own minds on the issues.

Claims made in the programme:

‘Greenpeace never changes its stance or works to create pragmatic solutions'

Wrong. We have a long history of working with corporations - from Coca Cola to McDonald's - and many governments and international institutions in our constant search to find solutions to environmental problems. (read more)

‘Greenpeace won't support nuclear power because it's stuck on an outdated ideology'

Wrong. We only have so much time and money to spend on tackling climate change. Decisions on how we do this must be made by assessing the true merits of technologies like energy efficiency, renewables, gas or nuclear. We have to prioritise those technologies with the greatest benefits first. We believe that when you do the calculations, nuclear comes last. (read more)

‘Genetically modified crops could feed the world if only Greenpeace would support it'

Wrong. The cause of global hunger today is not a lack of food. Hunger and poverty go hand in hand. Technological inventions like GM foods are not going to solve the underlying social, economic and political problems that cause hunger. (read more)

‘Greenpeace opposed GM food aid to Zambia'

Wrong. We advised the Zambian government that if no non-GM food aid was available then they should absolutely accept the GM aid. (read more)

‘Greenpeace won't support GM Golden Rice, even though it could stop blindness'

Wrong. While golden GM rice promised a lot, it has so far delivered absolutely nothing after over ten years of expensive research. Worse, it has diverted public awareness away from available solutions - like growing vegetables alongside rice, and taking Vitamin A supplements - these are cheaper, more effective and more sustainable for both people and the environment. There is no silver bullet technology to tackle the underlying social and economic drivers behind Vitamin A deficiency. (read more)

‘Greenpeace wants to ban DDT where it is stopping the spread of malaria'

Wrong. DDT has never been banned for use as a malaria preventative. We support the continued use of DDT in malaria control programmes where there are no effective alternatives. (read more)

Find out more about those who feature in the programme and the people behind the camera.

Hi reebus, apologies it was used as a turn of phrase. No religious connotation intended (although you're right, it was sloppy). James

I am concerned by the use of the phrase 'god only knows' in this article. Is Greenpeace against secular government? Is it religously neutral? Please explain why this phrase was used. I am an atheist but i do not like to donate if i think my donation is going to be used to fund religious indoctrination as a condition for assistance or advice. I do not think religion and science are compatible. I do not think unbiased evidential and rational basis for decision can be acheived in a theocracy.

i would say that frankly the programme was insufficient to fully portray Brand's ideas and the debate was in C4 style typically childish. Who let the Guardian columnist in? As something of a fence sitter I feel that no one was well served here.

To be honest, I am glad I missed this. Channel 4 love to be controversial and most the time it's just trash.

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