Magazine article New Internationalist

[Road Raging: Top Tips for Wrecking Roadbuilding]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[Road Raging: Top Tips for Wrecking Roadbuilding]

Article excerpt

If you care a fig for either democracy or the environment, then Global Spin is a book for you. It is a thorough - and thoroughly shocking - account of the sophisticated techniques being used around the world to undermine environmentalism and reset the agenda to status quo.

Sharon Beder, a senior science lecturer at the Australian University of Woolongong, details a wide array of strategies. For example, the use of specialized PR firms to create environmental front (or 'astroturf groups) to further corporate causes By manipulating politicians, the media, and community groups, the anti-green spin doctors weave their subtle and invisible webs. Beder cites an alarming plethora of examples from North America, Australasia, Britain and other European countries and reveals the links between greensounding bodies and their corporate backers and creators.

So, the National Wetlands Coalition with its flying duck motif is, we learn, funded by Mobil and Shell; the Clean Air Working Group is formed by coal companies, and the Australian Mothers Opposing Pollution group, whose prime purpose is to oppose plastic milk bottles, is run by a PR company boss who also happens to be a consultant to the Association of Liquid Paperboard Carton Manufacturers.

The covert power of corporations is making itself felt at every level, from government to the street - as US citizen Betty Jane Blake discovered. When she opposed developer Terra Homes Inc. who wanted to cut down some trees in her street, she found herself faced with a $6.6 million law suit from the company for defamation, interference with business and trespass. Her crime: she had put up signs saying 'This neighbourhood will not be Terrarized' and tied red ribbons around the tree trunks. The company also sued all residents who attended a protest meeting and who, through fear, then abandoned the campaign.

This is absurd yet depressing stuff and it leads the author to the inevitable conclusion: 'A new wave of environmentalism is now called for that will engage with the task of exposing corporate myths and methods of manipulation. …

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