Beware environmental wolves in sheep's clothing

ALERT's recent blog on the Orwellian world of the Australian Environment Foundation -- which should really be called the Australian ANTI-Environment Foundation -- has provoked a great deal of interest internationally.  Why?  The AEF, it turns out, is far from the only environmental wolf in sheep's clothing.

Some sheep bite

Some sheep bite

In an article that's just appeared in The Ecologist, ALERT director Bill Laurance highlights the devious activities and hidden agendas of other groups with eco-sounding names. 

The USA and UK are hotspots for such front groups, many of which are funded by major oil, chemical, and other industrial firms.  These groups often specialize in fighting environmental, global warming, and consumer-protection initiatives while posing as concerned citizens or independent scientists.

Mega-corporation Dow Chemical, for instance, has funded ten different front groups, including the innocuous-sounding 'American Council on Science and Health' and the 'Council for Solid Waste Solutions'.

The Information Council on the Environment, which was actually a front group for the coal industry, was founded to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)", according to its internal documents.  Its media strategy included targeting "older, less-educated males" and using scientists as spokespeople to take advantage of their high public credibility.

It's worth taking a moment to read and share the article.  Environmental sheep-wolves are dangerous -- but they only thrive in dark places.   


The 'environmental group' that's anti-environmental

George Orwell would have appreciated the Australian Environment Foundation.  That's because Orwell was a master of doublespeak--where words don't really mean what they say.

These guys make perfect sense to me...

These guys make perfect sense to me...

The AEF is not pro-environment.  In fact, it's arguably anti-environment, at least by any recognizable definition of that term.

The AEF opposes lots of things--wind farms, many mainstream efforts to combat climate change, and what it labels "green thuggery".  And it likes the Tony Abbott government's efforts to carve out 74,000 hectares of Tasmania's World Heritage forests for industrial logging.

In fact, the AEF likes Abbott's anti-World Heritage efforts so much that it's written to all of the members of the 21-nation World Heritage Committee, stridently urging them to back it.

The AEF was established in 2005 by the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, which has received funding from a number of major oil, mining, and industrial corporations and is closely affiliated with Australia's Liberal Party--"Liberal" in this case being another term that would make Orwell proud.

And one shouldn't be surprised to learn that Alan Oxley is closely associated with the AEF.  Oxley is the industrial lobbyist and former Australian trade ambassador who's become notorious for opposing a wide range of environmental initiatives both in Australia and internationally.

Three years ago, ALERT director Bill Laurance debated Oxley at Australian National University, and that day did not go well for Mr Oxley.  Laurance and others have tried repeatedly to have a video of the debate posted on Youtube, but Oxley evidently bullied ANU and so the university declined to release it.

However, Laurance did summarize his comments about Oxley in a talk at Stanford University--which you can see here.

As the debate about Tasmania's World Heritage forests heats up, the AEF is finding itself back in the headlines.  If George Orwell were still alive, he'd surely enjoy their pronouncements--for entertainment purposes only.