Last Night's TV What the Green Movement Got Wrong / Channel 4 Ego: The Strange and Wonderful World of Self-Portraits / BBC4
There's almost nothing so delicious on the small screen as a hippy eating humble pie; except maybe a whole parade of them, exhibited over an hour, and packed into a documentary prosecuting the intellectual crimes of a pressure group who claim to speak for the zeitgeist. I don't know if whoever was behind the treatment for What the Green Movement Got Wrong is freelance or on the staff at Darlow Smithson, the production company, but if he or she is the former, there's a memo that urgently needs sending from the executive suite this morning, with annual contract attached.
The show is already causing a stir. Adam Werbach, the American former president of the Sierra Club, a conservation group, says the programme makers misrepresented him. Channel 4 denies the claim, as they do Greenpeace's accusation that they were "lied to".
Werbach would resist the charge of "hippy"; but most of the others featured here - from authors Mark Lynas and Stewart Brand to Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace who left it in the 1980s because he felt the group had become "anti-science" - would smile knowingly at it. The merit of the show was its use of these authorities to elucidate what has, absurdly, become a heretical position: pro-environmentalism, but anti the Green movement. Hugely controversial issues - GM crops, nuclear fuel, over-population - were examined in turn. With each, one of our ex-hippies said: maybe we Greens got this wrong.
Lynas walked around the derelict plant at Chernobyl. The disaster here had been a formative event in his adoption of the Green cause as a child. He had all the wide-eyed curiosity of a toddler in a zoo, and when talking to the author of a UN report on the disaster, was charmingly receptive to the fact that environmentalists had massively exaggerated the number of fatalities caused by the accident of April 26 1986.
Brand then confessed his sorrow over the mis-adoption by environmentalists of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, in which that author alerted the world to the dangers caused by pesticides. She didn't say ban the lot; but some greens pretended she did. Yet the banning of DDT, a notorious pesticide, led - in Brand's words - to the preventable deaths of millions through malaria.
Along with Patrick Brand also addressed the issue of nuclear power stations. The success of the Green Movement, especially in America, in preventing the building of new nuclear power stations led instead to a massive expansion of coal power stations - which release carbon dioxide on such a scale as to now be a chief target of the Greens' invective. …