By James Tillman

SILVER SPRING, Maryland, September 2, 2010 ( - James Lee, the gunman who entered the Discovery Channel building and took three hostages yesterday because he thought the TV station should be doing more to combat overpopulation, might be the first hostage-taking environmentalist gunman.  But according to John Berlau, author of “Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health,” radical environmentalists have long advocated violence to further their goals.

"People adhering to environmentalist beliefs have certainly been involved in violent actions before," Berlau, a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told (LSN).  They have done many things, he continued, "from spiking trees with metal rods, [which] Earth First! does, to threatening both animal researchers and biotechnology researchers, to calling for violence against them, and to, of course, the Unabomber, who had Earth First! journals."

Spiking trees, or driving a long metal rod into a tree that might someday be logged, has been illegal since 1988.  The year before, a 23-year-old sawmill worker in northern California had his face lacerated, both of his jugular veins cut, and lost his upper and lower front teeth when his saw hit a spike.

At the time, environmentalist David Foreman, a founder of Earth First! who had advocated such tactics in his book “Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching,” said that the injury was "unfortunate" but that "the real destruction is ... liquidating old-growth forests.”

Among the Unabomber's three murdered victims was New Jersey advertising executive Thomas Mosser who the Unabomber said he targeted because he helped Exxon clean up its image after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

"The FBI has called eco-terrorism the number one domestic terrorist threat," said Berlau. But from the mainstream media one would think "that people influenced by conservative talk radio would be the number one threat," he continued.

In 2002, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI, James F. Jarboe, testified that eco-terrorist groups "have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars."

Arson is another common crime for extreme environmentalist movements like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).  In 1998 they used incendiary bombs to set fire to a ski resort and cause $12 million worth of damage.

The rhetoric and ideology of the environmentalist movement, said Berlau, encourage extreme actions.

"[Lee] was responsible for his own actions, but nevertheless actions are always preceded by beliefs, and beliefs don't exist in a vacuum," he said.

Lee followed common Malthusian environmentalist rhetoric when he wrote that “saving the Planet means saving what's left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population.”

“That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!” he continued.

Berlau also pointed out that mainstream environmental organizations often are not as far removed from radical groups as they may appear to be.  As Berlau has previously mentioned, David Brower, longtime head of the environmentalist Sierra Club, explicitly stated that the mainstream environmentalist groups use extremist groups to make themselves "look reasonable."

"The Sierra Club made the Nature Conservancy look reasonable," Brower stated. "I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We're still waiting for someone else to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable."

"The times there have been an abortion clinic bombing, you see ... all the mainline pro-life groups rush out to condemn it," Berlau said.  But as regards environmentalism, he continued, "in some cases the mainline leaders have actually praised eco-terrorism advocates."

The Discovery Channel network itself has featured a reality show on people who have been dubbed "eco-terrorists."

Animal Planet ran the show "Whale Wars," which featured the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  The Sea Shepherds have attempted to prevent whalers from killing whales by throwing butyric acid-filled bottles at whaling ships, by scuttling whaling ships, fouling their propellers with ropes, ramming their own vessel into whaling boats, and by temporarily blinding crews with laser pointers.

An author on the liberal Huffington Post news agency called the show "cheap exploitation in praise of what is nothing less than eco-terrorism."

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