As plenty of cynics and even some environmentalists are pointing out, Earth Day bears little resemblance to the annual call to action that first emerged in 1970. What was once a national effort to raise awareness about long-term environmental issues is now a watered-down marketing ploy for everything from organic t-shirts to vegan hot dogs:
Denis Hayes, a coordinator of the first Earth Day, likens the event today to Americans who drive their SUV to the supermarket — and then grab a canvas bag from the back of the truck to pick up a quart of organic milk. “If they never move beyond the canvas bags, then we’ve done a belly-flop," said Mr. Hayes.
Of all the “greenwashing” going on this week, yesterday’s shower stunt by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is among the most laughable. As we pointed out to the press:
An anti-beef "naked shower" protest from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Times Square today will demonstrate that the animal rights group’s employees either aren’t terribly good at math, or don’t shower often enough.
PETA falsely claims that "producing just 1 pound of meat requires water equivalent to more than a year’s worth of showers." But according to the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), it would take less than 18 ten-minute showers to consume the amount of water required to produce a pound of American beef. That includes all the water consumed by cattle, plus everything involved in irrigating feed crops and processing the meat.
As we told The New York Times yesterday, “If these PETA nuts are only showering 18 times a year, we have a new reason PETA stinks."
Also, PETA’s claim that meat production is the “leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions” is dead wrong. The United Nations has calculated that meat production is responsible for just 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. And data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that American livestock only contribute 2.4 percent.
When science and substance don’t cut it, leave it to groups like PETA to repackage their propaganda as a trendy “green” gesture. As the co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace wrote in The Wall Street Journal today, “We all have a responsibility to be environmental stewards. But that stewardship requires that science, not political agendas, drive our public policy.”