What’s Pew Up To?

A blog-buddy told me that he had received an invitation to a meeting for leaders of faith communities put on by Pew Environment on the planning rule.

The Pew folks seem to be fans of the “national standard” approach although it’s a bit hard to tell based on their press release.. also a brief scan of their website did not yield a letter or other clear information on their views.

Jane Danowitz, public lands director for Pew, also backed calls for the agency to maintain concrete standards to protect viable plant and animal species and protect watersheds critical to public health.

“Our national forests are the source of drinking water for more than 120 million Americans and host more rare species than even our national park system,” she said in a statement. “We hope that the administration will back up its proposal with clear standards for water and wildlife protection.”

Now the planning rule is not your run-of-the-mill issue- it’s pretty complex, or arcane, depending on your point of view. So I was surprised that Pew would choose to focus attention on it- but to invest in getting folks outside our resource community up to speed raised a question.

This is from the Pew Environment website:

Pew is a major force in educating the public and policy makers about the causes, consequences and solutions to environmental problems. We actively promote strong conservation policies in the United States and internationally. Pew applies a range of tools in pursuit of practical, meaningful solutions—including applied science, public education, sophisticated media and communications, and policy advocacy.

I’ve always been a bit confused with how this fits in with the broader Pew goals.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.

It’s OK to be an advocate. It’s OK to use “sophisticated media and communications.” But concerned people might wonder how that fits with the “the power of knowledge” and a “rigorous, analytical approach.” If they read a press release, which side is speaking?

And back to the religious leaders. What’s that about? I prowled around the Pew website and didn’t find anything. Have any readers any more information?

P.S. This post is not to be taken as a general criticism of Pew efforts per se. I worked with an excellent group of folks on the Pew Agbiotech Initiative where everyone put a great deal of effort into ensuring that different voices were heard and objective information evaluated. The kind of quality work they did can be found here.

3 thoughts on “What’s Pew Up To?”

  1. Good questions, but don’t stop here Sharon. There’s the Moore, Hewlett, and Packard pack, the Ford, Roosevelt, and Carnegie gang, … ad nauseum. There is no doubt their philanthropy accomplishes much good.

    There is also no doubt their philanthropy has been redefined and openly described on many occasions as “investments”. Another term is “proactive grantmaking” or restricted grant funding routinely used to effect certain specific outcomes favorable to the financial goals of trustees in the name of grassroots environmentalism.

    Consider the ramifications of the achievement of Free Market Environmentalism’s wet dreams (can’t save it unless you own it) of privatizing water, privatizing the oceans and privatizing the rights to catch the fish that swim in them. Privatize education, privatize Social Security, privatize prisons. Privatize the armed forces, privatize the carbon in the forests, privatize biodiversity…ad nauseum.

    They’re well on their way if they haven’t already come to the town you live in.

  2. Sharon asks, “back to the religious leaders. What’s that about?”

    Pew hosted a “meeting for leaders of faith communities put on by Pew Environment on the planning rule.” There is nothing new about that. Religious leaders have been concerned about the fate of the Earth for many years. I for one am glad to see them weigh-in.

    In my 1990s Eco-Watch forums, I posted up a little thing in 1992 titled, Economism or Planetism: The Coming Choice by John Cobb, a theologian. Cobb co-authored one of my favorite books For the Common Good with Herman Daly a renowned economist who keeps an eye on both ecology and “earth-keeping.”

    A 1994 Eco-Watch post relayed an article titled Politics and Spirituality.

    A 1997 E-W post was titled Nature and The Human Spirit, a review of a book by that title. Here is how I introduced the topic:

    Dialogue is critical to social learning and there is simply too little of it at work in our world. For years I have struggled in dialogue with my social science counterparts in U.S. public land management agencies, trying to make sense of new-found philosophy and methods for ecosystem management. The struggle was made difficult, at least for me, by the fact that environmental ethics and other aspects of the spiritual side of life and nature seemed forbidden as topics for conversation. That impasse may have been broken recently with the publication of this book. Significantly, all but one of the editors and many of the contributors work in public land management agencies. …

    I don’t know if this helps, but if it does not, then help be better understand
    the question.

  3. I am not surprised to see this.

    It could be argued that no other single interest group has had more influence on USFS planning activities, especially on Inventoried Roadless Area management, than Pew.

    If one argues against that assertion, then Pew has wasted tens of millions of dollars in the attempt to do so.

    And insofar as Pew bringing “leaders of faith” into discussions about the draft planning rule, Pew has a long history of funding efforts to encourage “communities of faith” to support various pillars in their environmental campaign.


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