Wise Use Movement

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The so-called "Wise Use" movement is an industry-front and anti-environmentalist organization founded by Ron Arnold in the late 1980s, primarily dealing with timber and mining issues in the western US.

It inspired a number of spin-off groups, including the "Share" groups in the Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.), which give the appearance of being grass-roots community organizations, but are in fact organized and funded by major corporations. (For example, the "B.C. Forest Alliance" was chaired for its initial period by an executive of Burson-Marsteller.) This type of "fake grass-roots" group led to their description of the advocacy as being an astroturf campaign.

"Wise Use groups are often funded by timber, mining, and chemical companies. In return, they claim, loudly, that the well-documented hole in the ozone layer doesn't exist, that carcinogenic chemicals in the air and water don't harm anyone, and that trees won't grow properly unless forests are clear-cut, with government subsidies. Wise Use proponents were buffeted by Bush's defeat and by media exposure of the movement's founders' connections to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church network (tainted by charges of cultism and theocratic neo-fascism), but the movement has quickly rebounded. In every state of the US, relentless Wise Use disinformation campaigns about the purpose and meaning of environmental laws are building a grassroots constituency. To Wise Users, environmentalists are pagans, eco-nazis, and communists who must be fought with shouts and threats."[1]

Case studies

Other SourceWatch resources

Books about the Wise Use movement

External links

Wise Use Movement

  • David Lavigne, The return of Big Brother, BBC Wildlife, May 2004, pages 70-72. (Not currently available online).