The toasts, the celebrations, and the media triumph for Al Gore's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize lasted all of nine days. It was a good run, and as PRWeek reported in our news analysis of October 22, environmental groups across the globe began to feel that, at last, their message was being heard and taken seriously.
Nine days later, we don't exactly know how, (the latest culprit is allegedly a kid with a book of matches) that victory seems to have gone up in smoke. On October 21, the beginnings of a massive wildfire in Southern California gripped the nation's attention, and provided a perfect platform for conservatives to reclaim their position that environmentalists, not developers, are the wolf at the proverbial door.
“If the Nobel Committee really wanted to give an award to folks preventing a hazard threatening mankind, they should rescind Al Gore's prize and hand it to the brave California firefighters whose jobs have been made so much harder by the nonsensical practices of the environmental movement,” concludes John Berlau in The American Thinker. The column opines that California environmentalists who pushed to ban the clearing of brush in the region because of its danger to small woodland creatures, contributed to the tinder box that destroyed homes and lives these past few weeks.
Of course, environmentalists, like actress Jamie-Lee Curtis, didn't hesitate to get their message out as well: that development in those dry regions, and global warming's effect on coastal winds, is the culprit.
"We've done this; we've created all of this. This isn't an act of God, this is an act of man," said Curtis at an annual Women's Conference event in Long Beach. But a simple Google search and a quick evaluation of online media outlets quickly reveal that conservative messages made big media impressions during wildfire coverage.
Whatever momentum environmental activists and global warming proponents may have gained from the time Gore snatched an Academy Award for “An Inconvenient Truth,” they should have anticipated their own version of “The Empire Strikes Back,” on the part of conservative skeptics and professional contrarians on the right.
For the conservative agenda's PR contingency, this is a tip-toe act. They're in the unenviable position of finding a way to turn the wildfires into political fodder without looking like they're exploiting tragedy. But environmentalists would be wise to cork the champagne bottle, get over the Nobel Prize hangover, and get back to work before their public headway goes up in flames.