Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Di Caprio Lies And Hustles Bucks

Leonardo DiCaprio graced my mailbox yesterday with a big, fat shill for bucks for one of the most successful, richest enviro-litigation mills, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

In it, he uses polar bears as his leverage to try to argue money out of my wallet. I'll get to that pack of frozen lies in a moment, but first let's take a look at the mailing itself. It consisted of a large envelope that could hold 8 1/2 X 11 sheets flat. Inside was:
  • A two-sided letter printed in two colors from DiCaprio to Incredible Wife, who he wrongly addressed as "Dear NRDC Member." As if.
  • A four-page, three color letter from Frances Beinecke, NRDC's president.
  • An undersized, four-color slip-in sheet offering us a FREE! POLAR BEAR TOTE BAG if we give $10 or more. The bag doesn't look anywhere near big enough to tote a polar bear.
  • A two-color money solicitation form ("Can you give $30 or more to throw polar bears a life line?") with an attached letter to the Fish & Wildlife Service.
The package was addressed to "Dear NRDC Member." There are 1.2 million NRDC members nationwide who presumably received it, along with God knows how many others who, like my Incredible Wife, are not members. An Environmental Impact Report should have been required for this mailing in order to answer these questions and develop mitigations for the impacts:
  • How many trees were chopped down to produce the paper, which at best is 30 percent post-consumption recycled, 70 percent new trees?
  • What was the global warming impact of the loss of those trees?
  • How many gallons of fuel were required to process this order, including fuel used in the lumber operations and the various deliveries, i.e., from the printing house to the post office, and by all the postal carriers carrying it?
  • What was the global warming impact of that fuel consumption?
  • How much electricity was needed to run the presses on which the job was printed?
  • What was the global warming impact of that electrical consumption?
  • What was the chemical nature of the inks used, and what impact did their production have on the planet?
  • How much fuel and electricity will be used to deliver cash to the NRDC and process the take?
Of course, this was just one mailing, the veritable tip of the iceberg that's melting out from beneath the polar bears. I gave a presentation to the California Mining Association a few years back that included a slide with these bullets:
  • In 2001, environmental groups mailed 160 million fundraising letters
  • In 1999 alone, The Wilderness Society mailed 348,000 pounds of junk mail soliciting members
  • Many of the claims made in these mailings are bogus:
    -- A Rainforest Alliance mailing said, “By this time tomorrow, nearly 100 species of wildlife will tumble into extinction.” No primate species has gone into extinction in decades. The claim is based on faulty computer models, not field science.
    -- The Wilderness Society said “We will fight to stop reckless clear-cutting on national forests … that threatens to destroy the last of America’s unprotected ancient forests in as little as 20 years.” But cutting is down 89 percent from 1990. In 1998, clear-cutting in national forests dropped to a “reckless” 1,395 acres.
  • Daniel Borochoff, president of The American Institute of Philanthropy said of the Greenie mailings, "They're spending as little as 15-20% on programs in some cases! These groups should not be allowed to get away with this. We'll sue if necessary."
So the NRDC's polar bear solicitation is but one of an endless stream of expensive, ecologically damaging, untruthful mailings that stream from America's mainstream environmental groups to solicit the money and members they need to keep their top-heavy organizations and well-paid staffs functioning.

Did I say top-heavy and well paid? The NRDC has 350 lawyers and scientists on staff -- and some pretty posh digs, as the photo of its DC office shows. One NRDC lawyer I know comes to meetings in fabulously tailored suits, pulling up in a late-model BMW.

Now, onto the mailing. It doesn't start well. In the second paragraph, DiC writes:
My grandfather, who lived in Germany, told me a story about an industrialist who owned the coal mine my grandfather worked in. The mine owner refused to build a smokestack tall enough to prevent smoke and soot from overwhelming the town.
The filthy capitalist! No, wait a minute! The filthy, lying environmentalist! Coal mines don't have smokestacks. DiC should read up a bit on industry before he hysterically condemns industrialists.

But onto the cuddly, pathetic polar bears. DiC says:
Today, the entire Earth is like my grandfather's town. [heh] Unless we act soon to control our global warming pollution, it will have a devastating impact on our planet's web of life.

Polar bears are already suffering the effects. As one of the first species to face extinction as a direct result of global warming, the bear's [sic] future is literally melting away along with the Arctic sea ice.
One little problem with that hypothesis. There's no evidence whatsoever that polar bears are going extinct, while there is evidence that they've survived worse in the past.

Polar bears survived through a warm spell considerably hotter than predictions the Warmies make for our future. This is now known for certain because scientists recently unearthed and dated a 130,000-year-old polar bear jaw -- dating the species to the toasty Eemian period, when there was no arctic sea ice. (source)

Time to set the heartstrings aquivering:
There have been documented reports of polar bears drowning and starving -- and of snowy dens collapsing on newborn cubs and their mothers from unseasonable rains.
It's called nature, Leo. Get used to it. Critters drown and starve every day with no help whatsoever from our industries. Sometimes it rains when it's not supposed to. Sometimes it snows when it's not supposed to.

Besides, where's the proof? Here are two papers on arctic ice melt (NASA, CIRES), neither one of which mentions air temperature at all. This NYT article mentions that the water temperature is nine degrees above normal and supposes that as the ice melts, the water gets warmer because sunlight is reaching it.

But what set the ice melting in a climate where temperatures rarely get above freezing. Many believe it's above-normal volcanic activity on the Arctic Ocean floor -- something man has nothing to do with and can do nothing about, no matter how much money the suckers send to the NRDC.

Update: A hat-tip to my friend Neil for reminding me that this year saw a little reported fact: a record in the growth of Arctic sea ice. During late October and early November, 58,000 square miles of it formed per day for 10 days straight . Yeah, yeah, record ice melt can be expected to be followed by record water freeze, but it shows that while climatic conditions may come and go, global warming hysteria is stuck on full volume.

Also from Neil, this from the Weekly Standard:
Last March [2006], Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, two renowned polar explorers, set out for the North Pole to raise awareness and document the threat from global warming. Unfortunately, their trip came to an abrupt end when Arnesen suffered severe frostbite in temperatures that fell to 100 degrees below zero. At the time, Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition, explained to the Associated Press that “they were experiencing temperatures that weren’t expected with global warming. . . . But one of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability.”
"So," says Neil, "one of the unpredictable elements of global warming will be cooling." (end update)

But I digress, let's get to the heart of the matter: Who's to blame? You got that right:
The polar bear is sending us a desperate S.O.S. We can no longer turn our backs on these warning signs -- even if our political and corporate leaders keep denying the truth.
Greenie-speak, and Greenie quests for green, always require an enemy, and it is always the GOP and business. Never mind that many political and business leaders are on the global warming magic bus; never mind that we do not live in a world where one viewpoint alone has ever sufficed. We have seen the enemy and he is us.

But wait a 'sec here. Didn't those bad guys in government start the paperwork on declaring the polar bear endangered? Ha! Don't be so easily lulled:
Pressured by NRDC's legal action last year, the Bush Administration has proposed that our nation come to the polar bear's [sic] rescue under the Endangered Species Act. [Bush? Really?]

But that proposal will not become reality without the strong support of millions of Americans like you and me. Fortunately, NRDC's Polar Bear S.O.S. campaign makes it easy for you to make your voice heard.
This is Leonard's biggest lie, and he's making it so that people are encouraged to sign the enclosed letter to the Fish & Wildlife Service. Why's that so important? Because NRDC is "giving" you the letter to sign, which psychologically obligates you to it, making it much more likely that you'll give them some of your money.

But the fact of the matter is that species listing decisions are based -- in theory at least -- on science, not the fervent pleas of Greenie whiners. Once and endangered species listing is initiated, it moves forward through studies and Federal Register postings and comment periods until it's finished -- with or without letters from common citizens that don't make scientific arguments.

But DiC pleas for the letters nonetheless to "help us create a blizzard of nationwide support" to offset the efforts of the "big polluters" who are "mounting their own campaign to protect their 'right' to spew global warming pollution into the air."

Who are these "big polluters?" They go unnamed but they are, presumably, the power plants, oil refineries and factories controlled by the Clean Air Act, the car manufacturers whose products must comply with more federal regulations than you can shake a harpoon at, and those nasty, nasty farmers, who continue to spew greenhouse gases into the air, just because they want to grow food.

Not to blame are the people who demand more and more power for their flat screen TVs (Al Gore's got three of those energy-suckers in his office alone), gas for the cars that they insist on driving (whether it's a Prius or a Hummer) and the jets they insist on flying (whether it's commercial or private), and the goods they continue to demand from factories or the food they continue to insist on eating.

And I haven't even started on NRDC president Beinecke's letter, which is even worse than DiC's, begging for money more shamefully than a televangelist consumed in the spirit:
With polar bears drowning and starving -- and their populations declining -- we must act with speed and determination to win this fight for their survival.

That is why I am personally asking you to please dig deep to support NRDC's Polar Bear S.O.S. campaign. Working together, we will do everything in our power to pull the polar bear back from the brink of extinction.
Just two problems. First, polar bears aren't going extinct and their populations aren't declining:
And second, I've read through both letters several times, and neither one of them says one word about what NRDC is going to do with the money it raises. No promises are made, other than that they'll send in the letters people sign, and no plan is laid out. No budget is set, and no goals, other than the nebulous "save the world" ones, are expressed.

Instead, this environmental group, which DiC calls "America's most effective environmental action group," has simply been doing the equivalent of screaming "fire" in a crowded theater -- shouting "warm" in the vast emptiness of the Arctic -- in order to panic the uneducated and foolish into filling their already bountiful coffers.

Yet most Americans hold groups like the NRDC in high esteem, confusing them with organizations that are actually honorable. There's a sucker born every minute, and NRDC is fishing desperately for them, as aggressively as Japanese going after whales.

Labels: , , , ,