An interview with Naomi Klein, Naomi Klein: Why Big Green Groups Can Be More Damaging Than Right-W... lays bare how many of the biggest environmental groups actually prop up  business-as-usual that's destroying the Earth, the exact opposite of their stated mission. Klein says that after Reagan attacked the environmental movement, most groups changed themselves to get along with corporatist government. In particular, they adopted big corporations as partners in the U.S. climate Action Partnership. In exchange for corporate money they sang the song of corporations as good guys who are changing their ways. Meanwhile these "partners" were members of US Chamber of Commerce.

It’s not every green group. It’s not Greenpeace, it’s not Friends of the Earth, it’s not, for the most part, the Sierra Club. It’s not, because it didn’t even exist yet.

For example:

The Big Green groups, with very few exceptions, lined up in favor of NAFTA, despite the fact that their memberships were revolting, and sold the deal very aggressively to the public. That’s the model that has been globalized through the World Trade Organization, and that is responsible in many ways for the levels of soaring emissions. We’ve globalized an utterly untenable economic model of hyperconsumerism. It’s now successfully spreading across the world, and it’s killing us. [emphasis mine]

Naomi Klein accuses liberal environmentalists in the Big Greens of a denialism that's just as evil as that of conservative climate deniers.

Jason Mark: ... there’s a dual denialism at work – conservatives deny the science while some liberals deny the political implications of the science. Why do you think that some environmentalists are resistant to grappling with climate change’s implications for the market and for economics?

NK: Well, I think there is a very a deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to,...

So I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions.

... Regan ... essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly. We started to see some of the language that is common among those deniers – to equate environmentalism with Communism and so on. As the Cold War dwindled, environmentalism became the next target, the next Communism. Now, the movement at that stage could have responded in one of the two ways. It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter.


In sum

The green groups are not nearly as clever as they believe themselves to be. They got played on a spectacular scale. Many of their partners had one foot in US CAP [Climate Action Partnership] and the other in the US Chamber of Commerce.

I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis. [emphasis mine]


Big Green groups in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (source)


  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Natural Resources Defense council
  • Pew Center on global climate Change
  • World Resources Institute
  • The Nature conservancy
  • The National Wildlife Federation

If you still belong to one of these groups, consider switching to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and

What about the Sierra Club? It's in the process of change.

I see some big changes as well. I think the Sierra Club has gone through its own reformation. They are on the frontline of these struggles now. I think a lot of these groups are having to listen to their members. And some of them will just refuse to change because they’re just too entrenched in the partnership model, they’ve got too many conflicts of interest at this stage.

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Replies to This Discussion

Klein has a discerning eye and ear. I find her analysis to be accurate and timely. She makes a lot of people furious, even as she hits the bull's eye.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Sierra Club make sense to me.

I just received a card from Carh with the web site:  

saying they will take e-waste. I don't know anything about this group and don't feel like looking into it, thought I do have a bunch of old computer hard drives, routers and etc (that still work) - that I want to go into some kind of reuse program - rather recycle (raw material) program.

Backyard recyclers abound and are dangerous for the environment. City and local community programs are probably better when it comes to E-waste (than a commercial outfit). I'm too new to this area to know, but the city through their waste management program will be getting my E-waste.

Thanks for taking the time to properly dispose of your E-waste, Chris. You're a good role model.

She's way too gentle. I'd say only Greenpeace and FOE are clear of corporate ideologies!
But plenty of smaller groups are dangerous too, like my local "conservation" group, they are totally into government partnership (funding oblige), which is just as bad as corporate partnership. Of course, they tow the nice green line, but in the end, they achieve absolutely nothing. And by doing nothing, they make environmentalism look uber clean, which makes real environmentalists look radical >/p>

An interesting point TNT666. The groups that "play nice" shift the Overton Window, so those who agitate for real change look extreme in comparison.

Another worthy Environmentalist group is Climate Direct Action.

From Democracy Now:

Climate Direct Action: Activists Halt Flow of Tar Sands Oil by Shut...




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