Greens revealed in their true colours

5th December 1997 at 00:00
AGAINST NATURE. Channel 4. Sundays. 8-8.50pm. November 30 - December 14.

If you're an anti-Green, what colour are you? Perhaps a concrete-coloured Off-White or a polluting Sludgy Brown. The problem is that the Green lobby has grabbed the most attractive symbolic colour, along with the moral high ground, over the past 20 years. This three-part series aims to redress the balance by taking apart the fundamental tenets of the environmentalists.

The first film, The Battle for Progress, did this in a stimulating but not entirely convincing way. It looked briefly at the power and wealth of the Green lobby (four million people belong to environmental organisations in Britain alone), touched on the image of Greens as folk heroes and rebels, and noted that Green theory is widely accepted in Europe and the US.

Then the boot went in: was global warming, for example, a fact? Scientists told us that world temperatures are destabilised rather than consistently warming, and that the temperature in the southern hemisphere is currently falling. And the classic environmental catastrophes are in fact no such thing. Lake Erie was dead 30 years ago, but now you can fish and swim in it. Even Los Angeles has falling levels of air pollution.

Things became more interesting when we got a case history. In a Gujurat village, women lifted steaming cow dung into bowls with their bare hands and took it off to be dried and turned into fuel. If the environmentalists hadn't prevented the Narmada Dam from being built locally ("save the flora and fauna") the villages might by now be able to cook by electricity and have clean water. Instead, their children suffer severe, sometimes fatal, ailments from inhaling fumes given off by the burning cow dung. The Greens have prevented construction of 150 dams worldwide.

The case against the environmentalists' approach to the Third World was admirably made by Steve Haywood of the Pacific Research Centre. "There's something immoral about rich Western environmentalists imposing their ideology on the Third World. The best thing that can happen to these countries is to industrialise rapidly so that they can have the resources not only to be healthier but also to protect the environment. And to stand in the way of that is wrong and dangerous."

The programme concluded that the Greens were posing as sensitive radicals while, in fact, they are deeply conservative and anti-scientific - idealising nature, animals and the past. This Sunday's show, The Myth of Too Many, dares suggest a higher population in Africa might be a good thing and that some birth control initiatives are, pun intended, misconceived. And the series ends next Sunday with a paean to the brave new world of scientific experiment. Channel 4 may soon find a Green gunboat heading its way.

Bernard Adams

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