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WISE USE (Hardly) The Right Wing Campaign For the Environment.

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Presentation on theme: "WISE USE (Hardly) The Right Wing Campaign For the Environment."— Presentation transcript:

1 WISE USE (Hardly) The Right Wing Campaign For the Environment

2 09/30/02 "Environmentalism is the new paganism, trees are worshipped and humans sacrificed at its altar...It is evil...And we intend to destroy it." Ron Arnold, chairman of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Boston Globe, January 13, 1992.

3 09/30/02 Wise Use Defined Term adopted from a motto by Gifford Pinchot – the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service during the Progressive Era “Conservation is the Wise Use of Resources” Thus, the term “wise use” is a synonym for conservation The current anti-environmental moment holds Pinchot as just another bureaucrat who believed conservation had to come through government control of resources

4 09/30/02 The Property Basis "Property is that which is peculiarly yours, whether it's your money, your wife, your children, your house, your car or your real estate." Don Gerdts, founder of The Property Rights Council of America, Albany Times Union, April 11, 1992.

5 09/30/02 Interlocking Groups "... more than five hundred organizations that could be classified correctly as Wise Use groups of one kind or another." Ron Arnold, excerpted from a speech given at the Maine Conservation Rights Institute, April 20, 1992.

6 09/30/02 Their Tactics “They seize on emotional local issues, send in their professional rabble-rousers to fire up the folks, and then disappear into the darkness. They pack public hearings and bully those who oppose them. Their lifestyle is mean, ugly, and divisive” – Hugh McCabe

7 09/30/02 Underlying Principles Unlimited economic growth is possible and beneficial. Most serious problems can be solved by technology. Environmental and social problems can be mitigated by a market economy with some state intervention

8 09/30/02 The Goal "Our goal is to destroy, to eradicate the environmental movement. We want to be able to exploit the environment for private gain, absolutely. And we want people to understand that this is a noble goal."

9 09/30/02 The Three Basis Messages Conspiracy Mainstream Vanguard

10 09/30/02 Conspiracy Environmentalists, a group comprised mostly of elite intellectuals, are in league with big government bureaucrats to put the needs of nature before man. They believe economic activity is less important than preserving a pristine natural environment, and they are ready to sacrifice the basic needs of America on the altar of environmental purity.

11 09/30/02 Analysis – Conspiracy Message The conspiracy message is used as a tool to organize at the local level or to convince people, already involved in local Wise Use groups, of the need for a national movement. While this message is directed at a large it is not for common consumption. It is political rhetoric devised to play on peoples' emotions and fears, polarize people into an us versus them mentality and incite those who feel at risk.

12 09/30/02 Mainstream Message Man and nature can live together in productive harmony.

13 09/30/02 Analysis of the Message The mainstream message is Wise Use dogma packaged for popular consumption It is Wise Use with a moderate face, carefully calculated to appeal to the broadest possible audience A prime example of the moderate message is a recent statement of the Wise Use Movement's core principles

14 09/30/02 Wise Use – Core Principles Man and nature can live together in productive harmony Human values, culture and tradition are more important than other living creatures Economic activity should not be damaged to protect nature. Nature can be properly protected by wise management of economic activity Nature can be properly protected by wise management of economic activity

15 09/30/02 Vanguard Message It is our inherent right to exploit nature, even at a great environmental cost. Is no cost too great?

16 09/30/02 Analysis – Vanguard Message The vanguard message is the central precept of the movement's national organizers. In the early stages of the development of the Wise Use Movement, it occupied center stage and was used to organize an elite group of "true believers" under the Wise Use tent. The vanguard message is still used to keep the core right wingers within the movement, and it reflects the true philosophy of the movement's national leaders.

17 09/30/02 Unique Movement? There is nothing new about extremism in American politics, anti-environmental organizations advocating the exploitation of public lands or the leadership of Watt, Arnold and Cushman. What is new is the success that the anti-environmental movement has had in popularizing their message.

18 09/30/02 Unique Movement There is nothing new about extremism in American environmental politics Many organizations, under the leadership of people such as James Watt, advocate the exploitation of public lands These organization were typically “Midwest” or “West” – small in number and loud in voice What is new is the success that the anti- environmental movement has had in popularizing their message

19 09/30/02 The Propaganda

20 09/30/02 Propaganda? Steve Nelson of Burnt Ranch, California. Nelson is a rancher who owns property adjacent to a National Forest. Nelson learned that the Forest Service was resurveying his area because topographical maps of the area were incorrect. When the survey was completed, the Forest Service claimed Nelson's property and that of two of his neighbors, were in the National Forest. The government promptly served Nelson with an eviction notice and put a sign on his front lawn reading "Property of the National Forest Service."

21 09/30/02 Propaganda – Property Albert Cusick of Pembroke, Maine. Cusick is worried the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take his 100 acres along Maine's coast and make it part of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Cusick told the New York Times, "The Constitution of the United States said we can own this property, and my family has for 206 years, then the government turns around and said they can manage it better. I'm no college boy, but that doesn't make sense to me. What's happening to us just isn't right."

22 09/30/02 Propaganda - Ranchers Sue Sutton of California. Sue Sutton is a farmer in California. When water was taken from the Sacramento River to save salmon, it endangered her farm. She said on ABC News: "Are we going to sacrifice human beings for a fish or a bird or a snake or a rat? We need to ask ourselves that question."

23 09/30/02 The Common Theme The victims live in rural areas and work in resource dependent jobs. There is no doubt that Wise Use has taken root in rural America and found fertile ground there for future growth.

24 09/30/02 The Real Environment Groups "True-Blue Greens (11 percent) are the committed environmentalists. They are convinced that individual actions can make a difference in protecting the environment. They believe that economic development should not take precedence over environmental protection. They also express strong support for all kinds of pro-environmental regulations, regardless of extra cost or inconvenience.

25 09/30/02 Environmentalists – The Sprouts The Sprouts (26 percent) represent the key swing group in a movement toward a green consumer society. On the one hand, Sprouts are concerned about the environment and support many regulatory measures, although to a lesser degree than the True- Blues and the Greenbacks. But on the other hand, they do not believe strongly that individuals can do a lot about environmental problems, they are also less certain about which side to take when confronted with the trade-off between protecting the environment and encouraging economic development.

26 09/30/02 The Grousers (24 percent) rationalize their lack of involvement in pro-environmental activities. They are highly critical of all players in the game...[they] show a low level of pro-environmental behavior...[and] argue that they have reasons for not doing more about the environment -- lots of reasons. And the Grousers

27 09/30/02 Largest Group -Your Basic Browns Basic Browns (28 percent) are characterized by the virtual absence of any pro-environmental activities. But unlike the Grousers, the Basic Browns do not rationalize their behavior or point to the alleged shortcomings of other people...the indifference of the Basic Browns is further evident in their lack of support for government regulation. This group has the least exposure to information about the environment, from whatever source. It is little surprise then, that most Browns admit they are confused about what is good and what is bad for the environment.

28 09/30/02 And, Of Course, The Undecided Roper reports that 11 percent of those surveyed : –A. Expressed no preference or opinion –B Did not know what the environment is, or –Did not care

29 09/30/02 Profile – True/Blue Greens "...a higher socioeconomic status than other Americans. They are well-educated (50 percent college educated) and have the highest median household income ($32,100) of the five groups. There are more executives and professionals among them than among any other group. They are also more cosmopolitan, being concentrated in large urban markets. Interestingly, the oldest median age (44 years) and the highest percentages of women and of part-time workers are also found among the True-Blue Greens. Regionally, the True-Blue Greens are more likely to be from the Northeast

30 09/30/02 Profile – The Greens and Sprouts Median high to higher socio-economic status Well educated – generally university degrees Many executives and professionals More cosmopolitan – generally concentrated in urban areas Highest percent of women of any environmental group Most concentrated in the Northeast

31 09/30/02 Profile – The Browns "...the most socially and economically disadvantaged of the five [groups]. They have the lowest household income -- just $21,200 per year (average for the total public was $27,100). Three out of ten in this group have not finished high school. They have the largest proportion of workers in blue collar occupations. They include many rural people"

32 09/30/02 Off Limits – Wilderness Area

33 09/30/02 Exxon Valdez How dare you city-bred, upper middle class assholes, with all your high education, put these decent people into economic peril

34 09/30/02 The 1997 Roper Study on the Environment " There is some truth to the idea that environmental protection is something mainly affluent people can afford.”

35 09/30/02 The Price We Pay More dramatically, 38 percent of the least wealthy Americans, but only 21 percent of the most affluent, feel environmental degradation is the price we have to pay for progress."

36 09/30/02 Household Incomes Over a third of Americans who have annual household incomes of less than $24,000 (36 percent) feel economic security must come before environmental concerns can be addressed, compared to only a quarter of those earning at least $50,000 per year (24 percent).

37 We Must Use Natural Resources in a ‘Wise Way’ to Survive If environmentalism were to acknowledge our necessary use of the earth, its ideology would lose its meaning. To recognize the legitimacy of the human use of the earth would be to accept the unavoidable environmental damage that is the price of our survival. Once that price is acceptable, the moral framework of environmentalist ideology becomes irrelevant and the issues become technical and economic

38 09/30/02 The Growing Political Message of Wise Use and the Browns Environmentalists tend to be catastrophists, believing that any human use of the earth is "damage" and massive human use of the earth is "a catastrophe." An environmentalist motto is "We all live downstream," the viewpoint of helpless or vengeful victims

39 09/30/02 We learn about the world through trial and error The universe did not come with a set of instructions, nor did our minds. We cannot see the future. Thus, the only way we humans can learn about our surroundings is through trial and error. Environmental ideology fetishizes nature to the point that eco-activists will not permit others to make errors with the environment, dead-ending in no trials and no learning The point of learning is to find better ways to use the earth, not to prevent all use of the earth. The ideal is productive harmony between man and nature, a concept formalized in the National Environmental Policy Act.

40 09/30/02 Mans’ Reworking of the Earth is Problematic and Benevolent Of the ideas behind wise use, this is the most oracular. Humanity is itself revolutionary and problematic. Problems are our milieu. Danger is our forte. We win some, we lose some. We don't give up. Humanity may ultimately prove to be a force of nature forwarding some cosmic teleology of which we are yet unaware. Or not. Humanity may be the universe awakening and becoming conscious of itself. Or not. Our reworking of the earth may be of the utmost evolutionary benevolence and importance. Or not. The only way to see the future is to be there.

41 09/30/02 Some Other Organizations The Blue Ribbon Coalition: Working for unrestricted motorized access across American public lands The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise: Wise Use umbrella group The American Lands Association: Defending property rights at the cost of public rights Heritage Foundation: Think tank for ultra right-wing issues Mountain Legal States Foundation: Law firm defending wise-use property rights

42 09/30/02 And A Couple More Groups The National Center for Public Policy Research: Wise use conservative free market foundation American Forest & Paper Association: National group representing paper products industry Alliance for America: Largest umbrella group in wise use movement

43 09/30/02 Conclusions I am reminded of a short story entitled “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas” Who are the true environmentalists? Are environmentalist elite radicals? Are most anti-environmental movements associated with rural people?

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