Earth Day: Liar, liar, river’s (not) on fire


Hello, Cleveland!! Doove Doove DOOOOOOVE! Doove-doove da-DOOVE!

Sorry: that was me playing “Smoke on the Water” on air guitar…

Anyhow: President Obama just made a special video message for Earth Day (April 22), saying in part:

Forty-one years ago, in the city of Cleveland, people watched in horror as the Cuyahoga river, choked with debris and covered in oil, caught on fire. Images of the burning Cuyahoga shocked the nation and it led one Wisconsin senator, the following year, to organize the first Earth Day to call attention to the dangers of ignoring our environment.

Except, er…

[T]he image of the burning river that purportedly catalyzed Earth Day and the modern environmental movement was actually taken in 1952, not 1969, because the “historic” latter fire didn’t even burn long enough to be photographed. (…)

By the 1969 river fire, the image was far more threatening than the actual event. (…) the dependence upon visual imagery is a kind of nostalgia masquerading as political strategy. And like almost all expressions of nostalgia, it is reductive and simplifies a much more complex picture…

So, just who are the rabid right-wing troglodytes who dared to point out that inconvenient truth? None other than the progressive environmentalists at The Breakthrough Institute. The Institute was founded in 2008 by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, the guys who brought us the Apollo Alliance of Van Jones fame.

Given progressives’ nasty habit of misrepresenting videos, photographs and statistics to promote their causes, it’s refreshing to discover that at someone on that side is more interested in getting its facts straight and questioning its own tactics than simply pushing its agenda.