Rave On, Young Enviro-Lefties, Says NYT's Science Reporter

December 9th, 2005 10:40 AM

For some reason, New York Times science reporter Andrew Revkin, in Montreal to cover a climate change conference, instead gives prominent coverage to an ongoing rave of young leftwing environmental activists.

Friday's "Youths Make Spirited Case at Climate Meeting" gives a shout-out to the lefties:

"But a stream of participants hiked through the frigid night to a corner building on the far side of Chinatown that pulsed with light and thudding music. Inside, a local nonprofit group called Apathy Is Boring was giving a party. There was no apathy in attendance -- just 300 people, most in their 20's, who had come from as far away as Australia and Los Angeles to pester the 'fossils' -- the legions of gray-suited negotiators who, these young people said, were hijacking their future."

Revkin covers the puerile-sounding festivities like an emerging civil rights movement:

"Through nearly two weeks of treaty talks here, the young attendees, more than 500 in all, have been staging daily demonstrations, mainly lighthearted, to highlight the meeting's importance for their generation. And they have been buttonholing delegates to share their concerns about the lack of significant new action to cut greenhouse gases linked to global warming."

But Revkin's clever young protesters seem in fact pretty disappointingly retro and unimaginative, stuck on 60's clichés the same way Revkin's fellow reporters are mired in Vietnam clichés in Iraq:

"On Thursday, the major action of the day was a 'bed-in' on the sprawling polished floor outside the main meeting rooms. About 15 people lay down on pillows near pictures of a similar protest staged in Montreal in 1969 by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. They started singing old Beatles songs, but with new lyrics: 'We all live in a carbon-intensive world' and 'All we are saying is give youth a chance.'"

Revkin lays out the group's cliched, counter-productive protest tactics with the innocent air of someone who's never stepped inside a student union at a "progressive" college campus:

"There is little time for leisure. While some delegates went shopping with the per diem money provided by the United Nations, the campaigners, wielding cellphones and laptops, continued pressing delegations for meetings. On Thursday, about a dozen young people trooped through a maze of corridors to a room used by American negotiators for confidential talks. There they sat around a rectangular table with Daniel A. Reifsnyder, the director of the State Department's office of global change.

"They met in part to lay out their case for new actions to reduce greenhouse gases, but also to complain about the fate of Nia Robinson, a young campaigner from Detroit working for Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, a group focused on the social impact of global warming. She had been ejected from the meeting hall on Wednesday for trying to deliver a 'climate change survival pack' to American officials, consisting of a face mask for air pollution, a life jacket to counter the threat of rising sea levels and a can of Spam, symbolizing the potential disruption of traditional food sources for indigenous people."

If that's the big news coming out of the Montreal climate talks, perhaps the Kyoto Protocol really is doomed.

For more NYT bias, visit TimesWatch.