The Washington Times - March 31, 2008, 10:39AM

A group of environmental activists has enlisted Google to help flood the congressional switchboard with one million phone calls on Earth Day urging lawmakers to enact eco-friendly measures. Earth%20Network.jpeg 

“We’re really excited about this because Congress keeps saying they don’t hear from the American public on climate change,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network, which bills itself as an eco-activism group connecting some 17,000 organizations in 174 countries. “The [presidential] candidates are not being asked about climate change. Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity that we’ve ever faced.”


Rogers said her group is finalizing talks with Internet giant Google to coordinate online advertisements and other publicity measures in support of the calls. Details of the arrangement are still being worked out and are scheduled to be released on April 14.

Google has consistently shown support for environmental causes, most recently on Saturday night when its homepage went dark in support of Earth Hour, an hour when cities around the globe went dark to draw attention to the issue of climate change. On Earth Day in the past, Google has decorated its homepage to highlight the event as well. Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Rogers said she wasn’t worried about the switchboard being overwhelmed by the calls. She said she was assured by the office handling congressional calls that staff could handle 1.3 million calls during a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. period.

“They’re very, very competent, and they’re ready. We’re gong to help them as much as we can in advance,” Rogers said. “Our intention is really, really not to shut them down. If things went nuts, which we don’t expect them to, their operators are dreamboats. They consider their jobs part of the democratic process. If there’d be any problems, it’d be with the phone lines, not with the switchboard.”

Rogers said the group is arming supporters with voluntary talking points, including a call for a moratorium on new coal-burning plants and support for carbon-neutral buildings and protections to ensure the poor and middle classes don’t bear the brunt of rising energy costs.

Climate change skeptic Chris Horner said Google has used its homepage “for politically correct posturing” while failing to step in on issues such as human rights in China.

“They’re increasingly known as injecting left-wing activism in their business model,” said Horner, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism.” “At some point, yes, you can collapse in your own ideology, but at this point it’s just more annoying than professionally distracting.”

Rogers said Earth Day Network is planning events in eight cities and has recruited 1,000 student volunteers on 1,000 college campuses across the country to celebrate Earth Day, which it calls “the largest secular civic event in the world.”

Carrie Sheffield, Web editor, The Washington Times