Eco-Activist: Children Amplify Emotional Effect of Alarmist Claims
If you want to get people on your side of an issue, scare them by suggesting something is going to hurt their children.
That’s the environmentalists’ strategy, according to Philip Shabecoff, the former 14-year chief environmental correspondent for The New York Times, and his wife, Alice Shabecoff, the former executive director of the National Consumers League.
On September 18, the couple told an audience at Politics & Prose, a bookstore in Washington, D.C., the idea behind their new book. They said “Poisoned Profits” was designed to scare parents into siding with environmentalists by suggesting kids are at high risk from environmental problems.
“It’s a very difficult question, perhaps the most difficult question, which is why we wrote about children,” Philip Shabecoff said when asked how he and his wife would raise awareness for their cause. “Because, if you’re a parent or a grandparent, you really just throw up your hands and say, ‘This is too much. I can’t do anything about it.’ Or, you do whatever you can because it’s your child’s future. It’s your grandchild’s future. It’s your own posterity that’s at stake and for the nation as a whole when you talk about children – that’s the future of America.”
The Shabecoffs said they patterned their book like “Law & Order” to villainize certain corporations.
“We sort of cast our book as a crime story with our children as victims and the companies that put out these poisons as perpetrators,” Shabecoff said. “We do name companies – not necessarily the worst, but the biggest because there are now public records about their deeds and misdeeds and we have a lot of stories about individual kids are affected by these companies.”
A review of the book in the September 7 Washington Post accused the Shabecoffs of “alarmism” over the harm of what they considered to be “toxic” chemicals.
But at the bookstore appearance, Shabecoff blamed the free market and the lack of heavy-handed regulation vis-à-vis the federal government.
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