A Very Serious Mistake

This horrific video, produced by a British environmental group called the 10:10 Campaign, was intended to be funny. But when few people laughed and the complaints began pouring in, 10:10 quickly pulled the video off their web site, and apologized for their “serious mistake.”

It was a serious screw up. The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg called the video a “catastrophe for environmentalism.” Roger Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, deemed it “the worst climate PR stunt ever.” Environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote that “it’s the kind of stupidity that hurts our side.”

For us, it was a reminder of what Mike Fay, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, observed about working in countries with dysfunctional governments — that is, in places ruled by despots who have a Red Button of their own. Fay’s point, in a nutshell: Warlords who care about the planet can “make more [environmental] progress” because they can easily wipe out their opponents without worrying about democracy or the rule of law.

Creepy stuff, all the way around.

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