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Washington, D.C., October 20, 1998– Picture this: In a mid-sized Japanese city, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex constructed of junk metal towers over the entrance to a conference hall, now the point of convergence for thousands of Green activists from Europe and North America. Inside, a small cadre of these activists is fanning out, covering every empty table, door, and corridor with propaganda leaflets. To the whir of video cameras, four men, disguised as world leaders, play a game of soccer with a large inflatable balloon of the planet. Out front, reporters and news photographers surround another knot of individuals who strategically position three penguin ice-carvings on heat-absorbing blacktop and, grim-faced, beg the little creatures to forgive mankind for permitting the "global warming" that is now causing them to melt.
Theater of the absurd? No. It is the UN Conference on global warming, held last December in Kyoto, Japan. And while such antics kept the news media occupied, lawyers and lobbyists employed by multi-million dollar activist organizations huddled in a side room with government diplomats and dignitaries, hammering out a legal document that would—if ratified—curtail energy use in industrialized countries, further destabilize the global economy, and suppress development in the Third World. (A follow-up summit on the global warming treaty is being held November 2-13, 1998 in Buenos Aires.)
In Global Greens: Inside the International Environmental Establishment, a book just published by the Capital Research Center, author James Sheehan of the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute documents the rise of these powerful organizations and their increasingly negative impact on national and international policy.
"To fully understand current foreign policies controversies," says Sheehan, "it is important to know the many ways in which environmental groups are involved." Most Americans first became aware of the environmental movement on Earth Day 1970, when a handful of grassroots groups, an outgrowth of 1960s counterculture and the radical antiwar movement, attempted to raise local consciousness about air and water pollution and a host of other environmental concerns. Today, he says, there are some 4,000 organizations worldwide focussing on environmental matters, and while the scares they promote are more ephemeral, their solution is almost invariably the same: ever-tightening government controls, preferably administered by international super-agencies of the United Nations.
The turning point, particularly in the United States, says Sheehan, occurred in the 1990s; first with the defeat of some 200 environmental initiatives on 1990 state ballots, including California's "Big Green" initiative, and then with the 1994 general election, which gave Republicans control of the U.S. Congress. Having soured on an uncooperative public, activists turned their attention from the grassroots, where their views were clearly not representative, to Washington and the United Nations, and the leverage of broad-based regulation.
Few Americans are aware, says Sheehan, that environmental activist organizations, an ideologically driven political force staffed by professionals and financed by millions of dollars in public and private funds, exercise real power in the conduct of diplomacy and the creation of international policy. Using international law and assisted by the UN and other international agencies, these groups are working behind-the-scenes to undermine national self-governance, economic freedom, and individual liberty. If this continues unchecked, Sheehan foresees an ominous future as the last of the central planners advance their global agenda through a professed concern for Mother Earth.
James Sheehan directs the International Environmental Policy program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-profit research organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Sheehan is a frequent political commentator on television and radio programs across the country. His many articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Times, and the Journal of Commerce. He has testified on environmental issues before Congress.
Global Greens: Inside the International Environmental Establishment (Capital Research Center 1998, 213 pages, $25.00) is available through the Capital Research Center and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. An executive summary and chapter list can be seen on-line at www.capitalresearch.org . For additional information, or to interview the author, contact Emily McGree, CEI's Press Relations Director, at (202) 331-1010.