My turn: Demonizing progress

Juneau's silent majority the victim of environmentalists and their lawsuits

Posted: Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last week, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, the Irish journalists who produced the documentary "Not Evil Just Wrong," brought to Juneau their core message of "questioning authority" in the global climate debate. In this case, they meant the authoritative voice of well-funded, radical environmental groups who proffer disproven science as fact to worldwide media outlets, policymakers and schoolchildren.

After their brief presentation at the weekly Chamber of Commerce luncheon the Juneau Empire printed an article reviewing the event. In the article, Oceana's Jeff Short described the presentation as an "oversimplified attempt to ... demonize environmentalists...." The reporter wrote that "Short ... encouraged an open debate."

Mr. Short, by his very words, was not encouraging an open debate. Short should hold his complaints until the multinational corporation he works for, Oceana, stops doing the very thing he finds so distasteful. On the Oceana home page, every mention of business is done in a way to "demonize" progress that would bring jobs to people in need and to characterize fisheries, manufacturing plants, and oil companies, to name a few, as "refusing" to give in to environmentalists' demands and as "political" forces to be "battled."

Short also told the Empire that the filmmakers "attempt to paint environmentalists as misguided, wrong-headed do-gooders that never get the science right and leads us into economic debacles over and over again is just a really misleading representation of the facts."

One of the key points made by McElhinney and McAleer over and over during their visit was that the organizations claiming to have settled the science on global warming are, in fact, continually being disproven by other scientists. The statistical sacred cows publicized by radical environmentalists' big money have indeed been wrong over and over again.

NASA and the UN's International Panel on Climate Change have both provided incorrect graphs and data to wealthy celebrities like Al Gore and liberal media institutions, and when they are proven wrong they bury that fact or refuse to discuss or admit it, allowing well-meaning policymakers, families, and regular folks like the people of Southeast Alaska to go on believing that what they had been told was fact is simply not true.

Another Oceana employee told the Empire, "it was disappointing the Chamber of Commerce is promoting this film in Juneau." What is disappointing is that Oceana, although a member of the Chamber, doesn't realize that the mission of the Chamber is "to fight for free enterprise." One of the chief enemies of free enterprise in the world is radical environmentalism, which we know well in Juneau after seeing tourism, timber, and mining jobs dry up, displacing families in favor of an extreme agenda.

It's tough to face opposition. So when the people of Juneau finally stand up and unite to offer a different opinion, the well-funded environmental industry is quick to cry foul. The silent majority of Southeast Alaskans who need jobs, who need affordable energy, simply cannot afford to remain silent.

Coeur Alaska said enough was enough when it took Kensington's scores of government permits to the Supreme Court and won against the Litigous Left. The timber industry sits down with extreme environmental groups, asking for 200 million board feet in the LogJam timber sale. SEACC asked for 37 million board feet, most of which proposed was not economically viable. When the U. S. Forest Service settled on 73 million, SEACC appealed - as they did with Kensington - complaining that they were not met in the middle. And when they lost - as they did with Kensington - they criticized the process and agencies authorized to make the decisions.

When is enough enough?

The point of the visit from McElhinney and McAleer was to encourage the silent majority to be heard amid the hurricane of flying court suits and Outside donation checks that cloud issues and choke our economic vitality. The point is not to silence the radical environmental voice, but to ask that their voice be truthful.

If SEACC, Oceana, and the other environmental corporations with loud voices actually want a healthy debate among the people of Southeast Alaska, they should respect the system instead of going to court, and respect an organization's right to ask questions about what radical environmentalism touts as truth, no matter how inconvenient.

• Sarah Chambers is executive director of First Things First Alaska Foundation and is a former Juneau assembly member.

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