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Ted Rall: One Man's Ecoterrorist is another's Smokey Bear

News ArchiveSubmitted by Reverend Chuck0:


Tue Sep 16, 8:02 PM ET

By Ted Rall

The War on SUVs

NEW YORK--What kind of world would it be if someone set your car ablaze because it guzzled too much fuel? A better one, argues the Earth Liberation Front, a loosely-organized ecoterrorist organization that spray-painted environmentalist graffiti such as "gross polluter" and "fat, lazy Americans" on 30 sport utility vehicles at two car dealerships and set fire to a third on Aug. 22. Several SUVs and 20 Hummer H2s were destroyed. On Sept.2, 22 more SUVs were trashed at a Houston car dealership. (Police have arrested a man in connection with the California incident.)

Ecoterrorism expert Bron Taylor of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, says that ELF believes "that ecosystems have an inherent worth that cannot be judged in relation to human needs, that human actions are bringing the earth toward mass extinctions, and that political action is insufficient to bring about the wholesale changes needed."

Taken at face value, most Americans agree with the "elves." A Los Angeles Times survey found that, even among conservative Republicans, two out of three people believe that the environment is more important than property rights, corporate profits or even creating jobs. Virtually everyone acknowledges that human-generated pollution is affecting the environment: only eight percent of Americans think that global warming is a myth. (The United States produces more greenhouse gases, both per capita and overall, than any other nation, making it largely responsible for climate change.)

The environmental crisis is, hands down, the most important matter facing humanity today. Who cares about peace in the Middle East if the region is under water, stricken by famine or choked by dust storms? Weather systems are becoming increasingly violent and unpredictable, species are going extinct and virgin-growth forests are vanishing at an alarming rate. While smog has diminished somewhat in places like Denver and Los Angeles, air pollution is getting worse nationally. Ohio's EPA, for example, announced that 2002 was the most toxic summer on record in 14 years.

The main reason: SUVs.

What should we do about this long-ignored crisis? Writing letters to the editor and joining The Sierra Club are admirable, but working within the system hasn't stopped the polluters.

Burning SUVs isn't the answer, argues the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners Association of America: "All told, the vandalism will not make any company think twice about producing more SUVs and other light trucks, nor will it shake the tremendous consumer confidence in the vehicles. Instead, the blaze destroyed the property of a small business owner, and put the lives of innocent civil servants in harm's way."

But SUVs are a national blight, burning 33 percent more gas, generating 30 percent more carbon monoxide and 75 percent more nitrogen oxide than regular cars. SUVs are so popular--they account for more than half of new car sales--that average fuel efficiency reversed a long-term trend by starting to drop beginning in 1987. Since 1990, SUVs have wasted an extra 70 billion gallons of gasoline, costing even more than the war on Iraq (news - web sites). They're the sole reason we dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases. SUVs have got to go.

The SUV phenomenon is the creation of an unholy alliance of Congress, Detroit automakers and consumers. The big four automakers have convinced even the legislators they don't own outright that eliminating SUVs would hurt the economy. SUV owners think the 9,000-pound leviathans make them safer than passenger cars (though studies have proven they're not), are better at handling snow (untrue), drive off-road (very few SUVs ever leave the pavement), offer extra room for big families (get a minivan instead, dope) and let them see ahead of smaller cars (while blocking the vehicles behind them). The Republican-controlled Congress has no intention of closing the fuel emissions loophole that lets SUVs pass as "light trucks." And the SUV craze is making Detroit more profitable than ever.

That leaves consumers and dealers as the principal targets of radical environmentalists like the ELF. The idea is to make SUVs as unfashionable, and as scary to own, as fur became after the PETA-inspired spray-paint attacks of the '80s. In an ideal world, American consumers could be convinced to do the right thing through an appeal to logic with public service messages like the "What Would Jesus Drive?" TV campaign, but the kind of people who would buy a car that increases the risk to other motorists in an accident can't be reasoned with. They're selfish and stupid. It's unfortunate that drivers must worry that their SUVs are being targeted by insulting stickers and Molotov cocktails, but one thing's for sure: It couldn't be happening to a more deserving group of people.

(Ted Rall is the author of the graphic travelogue "To Afghanistan and Back," an award-winning recounting of his experiences covering the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It is now available in a revised and updated paperback edition containing new material. Ordering information is available at amazon.com.)

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Ted Rall: One Man's Ecoterrorist is another's Smokey Bear | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by Cemendur
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17 2003 @ 11:05 PM CDT
Bron Taylor is quoted as an \"eco-terrorism\" expert. Judging by his website, he would not identify himself as such. Self-described \"eco-terrorism experts\" come are usually corporate PR reps or government \"intelligence\" officials.

A self-summary of one of his essays reads, \"Examines the recent escalation of direct action resistance to logging, focusing on the campaigns at Cove/Mallard, Idaho, and Warner Creek, Oregon. Argues that given the record of government lawlessness in its administration of biodiversity-related environmental law, direct action resistance is morally justifiable and yet, grassroots activists must also redouble efforts to defend and strengthen environmental laws and increase citizen vigilance with regard to them. This latter endeavor is essential if activists are to force the government to employ the best science in its decision making and comply with its own statutory obligations.\"

\"Bron Taylor\'s Web Resource for the study of religions, cultures, and environments, with special attention to radical environmentalism, from Deep Ecology to Bioregionalism, and fro Earth First! to the Earth Liberation Front.\" Radical (to the root) environmentalism is an acurate portrayal.


It is unfortunate that liberals such as Ted Rall use the ecoterrorism label for radical environmentalism. Ecoterrorism is what corporations and government officials perpetuate.

In my mind the experts on ecoterrorism tend to be the left environmentalists. They know the names and the story of those who are destroying the environment which includes humans.

We are dealing with an information war here. Media PR reps and \"intelligence\" officials want to perpetuate a newspeak ideology of ecoterrorism. We should not let them win this infowar.

The \"Sport Utility Vehicle Owners Association of America\" is an astroturf organization and it is poor journalism for Ted Rall not to report this.

SUVOA Board of Directors

Larry Innis, Chairman
Washington Representative, Marine Retailers Association of America

Jason Vines, President
Principal, Strat@comm

Derrick Crandall, Secretary and Treasurer
President, American Recreation Coalition

David Humphreys
President, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association

Linda Profaizer
President, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds

Its interesting to not in their own FAQ:

comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 18 2003 @ 12:50 AM CDT
I don\'t see how Rall qualifies as a liberal if he went to an expert on \"ecoterrorism.\" I think he was being tongue-in-cheek about getting this guy\'s opinion.
comment by pr
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 18 2003 @ 02:39 AM CDT
I like some of these experts,take Matt Devost...please.No really,remember when the 40 minute\'s show demonstrated arson timers on national social TV? (The ELF \'60 minutes\'segment)
comment by not a terrorist
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 18 2003 @ 01:19 PM CDT
not a terrorist - a reactionary