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Conservative policy experts and religious leaders have collaborated to condemn the radical environmentalism movement in a 12-part video series.
The series, called “Resisting the Green Dragon,” features criticisms of the green movement which religious leaders contend is a false religion that puts nature above people.
“Environmentalists have a long history of believing and promoting exaggerations and myths,” says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in the video.
One such myth speakers cite in the video is the notion that humans are causing global warming. According to The Cornwall Alliance founder Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, environmentalists are using this belief to advocate increased population control as a means of saving the earth.
“Most environmentalists want to greatly reduce the human population, which is why the green movement and population control and reduction movements have gone hand in hand,” says Beisner in the promotional video.
The Cornwall Alliance produced the series. The alliance is a scientific and religious coalition advocating a stewardship view of environmentalism based on God’s Genesis command to tend to the garden.
As alliance Senior Fellow Dr. James Tonkowich states in the promo, religious leaders are not demonizing efforts to care for the earth.
“Taking care of the earth sounds like a good idea because it is a good idea. What most Christians don’t understand is that environmentalism is a whole worldview that offers its own doctrines of God, of creation, of humanity, of sin and of redemption,” he contends.
The series, therefore, is an effort to expose the true motivations of the environmental movement.
“I think the fear mongering is simply a way of obtaining power. Whoever controls the environmental regulations controls the economy, controls the population,” Tonkowich expresses.
The alliance series was made in collaboration with American Family Association, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.
The videos feature FRC President Tony Perkins, FOTF Vice President of Public Policy Tom Minnery, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright and Summit Ministries founder Dr. David Noebel, to name a few.
Joseph Brean, National Post
In his new book Apollo’s Arrow, ambitiously subtitled The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything, Vancouver-based author and mathematician David Orrell set out to explain why the mathematical models scientists use to predict the weather, the climate and the economy are not getting any better, just more refined in their uncertainty.
What he discovered, in trying to sketch the first principles of prophecy, was the religious nature of modern environmentalism.
This is not to say that fearing for the future of the planet is irrational in the way supernatural belief arguably is, just that — in its myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, its saints and heretics, its iconography and tithing, its reliance on prophecy, even its schisms — the green movement now exhibits the same psychology of compliance as religion.
Dr. Orrell is no climate-change denier. He calls himself green. But he understands the unjustified faith that arises from the psychological need to make predictions.
“The track record of any kind of long-distance prediction is really bad, but everyone’s still really interested in it. It’s sort of a way of picturing the future. But we can’t make long-term predictions of the economy, and we can’t make long-term predictions of the climate,” Dr. Orrell said in an interview. After all, he said, scientists cannot even write the equation of a cloud, let alone make a workable model of the climate.
Formerly of University College London, Dr. Orrell is best known among scientists for arguing that the failures of weather forecasting are not due to chaotic effects — as in the butterfly that causes the hurricane — but to errors of modelling. He sees the same problems in the predictions of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which he calls “extremely vague,” and says there is no scientific reason to think the climate is more predictable than the weather.
“Models will cheerfully boil away all the water in the oceans or cover the world in ice, even with pre-industrial levels of Co2,” he writes in Apollo’s Arrow . And so scientists use theoretical concepts like “flux adjustments” to make the models agree with reality. When models about the future climate are in agreement, “it says more about the self-regulating group psychology of the modelling community than it does about global warming and the economy.”
In explaining such an arcane topic for a general audience, he found himself returning again and again to religious metaphors to explain our faith in predictions, referring to the “weather gods” and the “images of almost biblical wrath” in the literature. He sketched the rise of “the gospel of deterministic science,” a faith system that was born with Isaac Newton and died with Albert Einstein. He said his own physics education felt like an “indoctrination” into the use of models, and that scientists in his field, “like priests... feel they are answering a higher calling.”
“If you go back to the oracles of ancient Greece, prediction has always been one function of religion,” he said. “This role is coveted, and so there’s not very much work done at questioning the prediction, because it’s almost as if you were going to the priest and saying, ‘Look, I’m not sure about the Second Coming of Christ.’ “
He is not the first to make this link. Forty years ago, shortly after Rachel Carson launched modern environmentalism by publishing Silent Spring, leading to the first Earth Day in 1970, a Princeton history professor named LynnWhite wrote a seminal essay called “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.”
“By destroying pagan animism [the belief that natural objects have souls], Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects,” he wrote in a 1967 issue of . “Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.” It was a prescient claim. In a 2003 speech in San Francisco, best-selling author Michael Crichton was among the first to explicitly close the circle, calling modern environmentalism “the religion of choice for urban atheists ... a perfect 21st century re-mapping of traditional JudeoChristian beliefs andmyths.”
Today, the popularity of British author James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis — that the Earth itself functions as a living organism — confirms the return of a sort of idolatrous animism, a religion of nature. The recent IPCC report, and a week’s worth of turgid headlines, did not create this faith, but certainly made it more evident.
It can be felt in the frisson of piety that comes with lighting an energy-saving light bulb, a modern votive candle.
It is there in the pious propaganda of media outlets like the, Toronto Star, which on Jan. 28 made the completely implausible claim that, “The debate about greenhouse gas emissions appears to be over.”
It can be seen in the public ritual of cycling to work, in the veneer of saintliness on David Suzuki and Al Gore (the rush for tickets to the former vice-president’s upcoming appearance crashed the server at the University of Toronto this week), in the high-profile conversion (honest or craven) of GeorgeW. Bush, and in the sinful guilt of throwing a plastic bottle in the garbage.
Adherents make arduous pilgrimages and call them ecotourism. Newspapers publish the iconography of polar bears. The IPCC reports carry the weight of scripture.
John Kay of the Financial Times wrote last month, about future climate chaos: “Christians look to the Second Coming, Marxists look to the collapse of capitalism, with the same mixture of fear and longing ... The discovery of global warming filled a gap in the canon ... [and] provides justification for the link between the sins of our past and the catastrophe of our future.”
Like the tithe in Judaism and Christianity, the religiosity of green is seen in the suspiciously precise mathematics that allow companies such as Bullfrog Power or Offsetters to sell the supposed neutralization of the harmful emissions from household heating, air travel or transportation to a concert.
It is in the schism that has arisen over whether to renew or replace Kyoto, which, even if the scientific skeptics are completely discounted, has been a divisive force for environmentalists.
What was once called salvation — a nebulous state of grace — is now known as sustainability, a word that is equally resistant to precise definition. There is even a hymn, When the North Pole Melts, by James G. Titus, a scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is not exactly How Great Thou Art, but serves a similar purpose.
Environmentalism even has its persecutors, embodied in the Bush White House attack dogs who have conducted no less than an Inquisition against climate scientists, which failed to bring them to heel but instead inspired potential martyrs. Of course, as religions tend to do, environmentalists commit persecution of their own, which has created heretics out of mere skeptics.
All of this might be fine if religions had a history of rational scientific inquiry and peaceful, tolerant implementation of their beliefs. As it is, however, many religions, environmentalism included, continue to struggle with the curse of literalism, and the resultant extremism.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think all this is wrapped up in our belief that we can predict the future,” said Dr. Orrell. “What we need is more of a sense that we’re out of our depth, and that’s more likely to promote a lasting change in behaviour.”
Projections are useful to “provoke ideas and aid thinking about the future,” but as he writes in the book, “they should not be taken literally.”
The “fundamental danger of deterministic, objective science [is that] like a corny, overformulaic film, it imagines and presents the world as a predictable object. It has no sense of the mystery, magic, or surprise of life.”
The solution, he thinks, is to adopt what the University of Toronto’s Thomas Homer-Dixon calls a “prospective mind” — an intellectual stance that is “proactive, anticipatory, comfortable with change, and not surprised by surprise.”
In short, if we are to be good, future problem solvers, we must not be blinded by prophecy.
“I think [this stance] opens up the possibility for a more emotional and therefore more effective response,” Dr. Orrell said. “There’s a sense in which uncertainty is actually scarier and more likely to make us act than if you have bureaucrats saying, ‘Well, it’s going to get warmer by about three degrees, and we know what’s going to happen.’”
by Chuck Colson
The television ad shows footage of devastating storms, droughts, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As the images flash by, a voice intones, “The good news is that with God’s help, we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world, and for our Lord.” That’s quite a promise.
The ad is part of a publicity campaign by an organization called the Evangelical Climate Initiative—and it highlights both the controversy over global warming and the eagerness of the secular press to promote supposed divisions among evangelicals.
Last week, to much fanfare in the secular press, the Evangelical Climate Initiative—ECI—issued a report signed by eighty-six evangelical leaders titled, “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” Among other things, it called for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
The New York Times, in particular, seemed to delight in the fact that this initiative represented a split in evangelical ranks. The Times gleefully reported that prominent evangelicals—including Jim Dobson, Richard Land, and yours truly—did not sign the report. The implication was that more enlightened Christian leaders were now breaking ranks with the Bush administration and conservatives.
What the press left out was the fact that some of us were never invited to sign the statement. Maybe that was because we had earlier signed the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, in which we argued that there had to be a balancing of interests. In particular, the world’s poor could be adversely affected economically by some of the more radical environmental proposals.
Let me be clear: Some of the ECI recommendations—like driving fuel-efficient cars—are sensible. And there is no disagreement about our goals: Everybody is for stopping global warming. But at what cost?
We are not alone in believing that some of the global warming solutions go too far and do too little good. Two days after the Times exploited so-called divisions within the evangelical community, John Tierney, an op-ed writer for the Times, lampooned the entire debate over global warming. Solutions like the Kyoto treaty, writes Tierney, “amount to expensive hair shirts that appeal to [environmental] penitents,” but with costs that economists say are far too high. He cited four Nobel laureates and their colleagues, who met in Copenhagen in 2004 to study proposals to help the poor, and concluded that programs to slow global warming are “far less worthwhile than programs to immediately combat disease and improve drinking water and sanitation.”
“Saving lives now,” Tierney concludes, “makes more sense than spending large sums to avert biblical punishments that may never come.” Besides which, scientists are still unsure of how much the planet will heat up or how much—if any—damage will be done.
Now, we all have a stewardship responsibility for God’s creation, but we also have responsibility for God’s creatures. Balancing those interests requires prudence. I’m convinced most evangelicals agree on this—the New York Times notwithstanding—even if we may disagree on how resources are most effectively employed. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” as the Scriptures put it. But it takes wisdom to figure out exactly how best to take care of it—and people too.
by William F. Buckley
We hear now (in full-page ads) from the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Their summons, signed by 80-odd evangelical leaders, is to address the global-warming crisis. The opening statement declares that “as evangelical Christians, we believe we’re called to be stewards of God’s creation.”
That isn’t an inflated claim; ministers of the Gospel are expected to address common concerns. This time we are advised that “global warming can and must be solved. It is no small problem. Pollution from vehicles, power plants and industry is having a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate. Left unchecked, global warming will lead to drier droughts, more intense hurricanes and more devastating floods, resulting in millions of deaths in this century.”
The premise is that the planet is suffering from rising levels of greenhouse gasses, which are bringing on increasingly sharp climate changes. As Anthony McMichael of the Australian National University in Canberra has articulated the problem, climate change would lead to “an increase in death rates from heat waves, infectious diseases, allergies, cholera as well as starvation due to failing crops.”
Two questions arise. The first, and most obvious, is: Is the information we are receiving reliable? There is a certain lure to apocalyptic renderings of modern existence. Some remember, not so long after the first atomic bomb was detonated, predictions that we were directly headed for nuclear devastation. After a bit, a Yankee skepticism came in and informed us that Dr. Strangelove was a creature unto himself — that he could be isolated, and that nuclear armament could proceed, with high levels of caution. Today the problem on the nuclear front is proliferation. And the crisis is at our doorstep in the matter of North Korea and Iran. But even if they develop the bomb, we do not go straightaway to the end of the world with Strangelove.
The environmentalist alarum is strongly backed by evidence, but there are scientists who believe that the data of the last few years, indeed of the last century, attest to cyclical variations that make their way irrespective of the increase in fossil-fuel consumption. Professor Robert Jastrow, a distinguished astrophysicist, is skeptical in the matter. Yet recent reports of measurements done in the Antarctic have not been fully absorbed by the non-believers, and they aren’t likely to ignore as simply inconsequential the increase in greenhouse gases, whatever dispute there may be about their exact effect.
There is no disputing that, over the recent period, temperature changes have been in an upward direction. The latest figure is one degree in the last generation. The nation’s temperatures this January were the warmest on record, and NASA scientists have informed us that 2005 was the hottest year ever recorded worldwide.
The issue of Kyoto divides the world. The protocols agreed upon there were affirmed by President Clinton, but were rejected by the Senate. The grounds for doing so were that unrealistic demands were being made on the developed nations, without realistic attention to what the less-developed countries were prepared to do in the way of reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. China, for instance, would simply refuse to abide by schedules that failed to take into account its spectacular demands as a country moving to western levels of consumption at singular speed.
Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman have endorsed a bill that would set for the United States a goal, by the year 2010, of a reduction in emissions to the level of 2000. President Bush has refused to sign on to any schedule whatever that would mandate national goals, or would restrict normal impulses.
The pressure of the environmentalists has combined with a more direct pressure, which is the scarcity of those fuels that do the most damage. There are visions knocking on the door, of fuels without the heavy carbon-dioxide emissions. But mostly there is a recognition that economic and environmental concerns might combine to discourage profligate consumption of the toxic stuff.
One way to go would be a surtax on gasoline. Another, a heightening of federal requirements in the matter of energy-efficient automobiles; these began many decades back, when the impulse to formalize our concern for nature began to take concrete legislative form. Add now the moral concern. We are indeed stewards of nature, and calls to conjoin our concern with a sense of Christian mission are noteworthy.
A new study provides experimental evidence that cosmic rays may be a major factor in causing the Earth’s climate to change. Given the stakes in the current debate over global warming, the research may very well turn out to be one of the most important climate experiments of our time — if only the media would report the story.
Ten years ago, Danish researchers Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen first hypothesized that cosmic rays from space influence the Earth’s climate by effecting cloud formation in the lower atmosphere. Their hypothesis was based on a strong correlation between levels of cosmic radiation and cloud cover — that is, the greater the cosmic radiation, the greater the cloud cover. Clouds cool the Earth’s climate by reflecting about 20% of incoming solar radiation back into space.
The hypothesis was potentially significant because during the 20th century, the influx of cosmic rays was reduced by a doubling of the Sun’s magnetic field, which shields the Earth from cosmic rays. According to the hypothesis, then, less cosmic radiation would mean less cloud formation and, ultimately, warmer temperatures — precisely what was observed during the 20th century.
If correct, the Svensmark hypothesis poses a serious challenge to the current global warming alarmism that attributes the 20th century’s warmer temperatures to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases.
Just last week, Mr. Svensmark and other researchers from the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Centre published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A — the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the venerable Royal Society of London — announcing that they had experimentally verified the physical mechanism by which cosmic rays affect cloud cover.
In the experiment, cosmic radiation was passed through a large reaction chamber containing a mixture of lower atmospheric gases at realistic concentrations that was exposed to ultraviolet radiation from lamps that mimic the action of the Sun’s rays. Instruments traced the chemical action of the penetrating cosmic rays in the reaction chamber.
The data collected indicate that the electrons released by the cosmic rays acted as catalysts to accelerate the formation of stable clusters of sulfuric acid and water molecules — the building blocks for clouds.
“Many climate scientists have considered the linkages from cosmic rays to clouds as unproven,” said Mr. Friis-Christensen who is the director of the Danish National Space Centre. “Some said there was no conceivable way in which cosmic rays could influence cloud cover. [This] experiment now shows they do so, and should help to put the cosmic ray connection firmly onto the agenda of international climate research,” he added.
But given the potential significance of Mr. Svensmark’s experimentally validated hypothesis, it merits more than just a place on the agenda of international climate research — it should be at the very top of that agenda.
Low-level clouds cover more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface and exert a strong cooling effect. Observational data indicate that low-cloud cover can vary as much as 2% in five years which, in turn, varies the heating at the Earth’s surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square meter during that same period.
“That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square meter estimated by the [United Nations’] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution,” says Mr. Svensmark.
That is, cloud cover changes over a five-year period can have 85% of the temperature effect on the Earth that has been claimed to have been caused by nearly 200 years of manmade carbon dioxide emissions. The temperature effects of cloud cover during the 20th century could be as much as 7 times greater than the alleged temperature effect of 200 years worth of additional carbon dioxide and several times greater than that of all additional greenhouse gases combined.
So although it has been taken for granted by global warming alarmists that human activity has caused the climate to warm, Mr. Svensmark’s study strongly challenges this assumption.
Given that the cosmic ray effect described by Mr. Svensmark would be more than sufficient to account for the net estimated temperature change since the Industrial Revolution, the key question becomes: Has human activity actually warmed, cooled or had no net impact on the planet?
Between manmade greenhouse gas emissions, land use patterns and air pollution, humans may have had a net impact on global temperature. But if so, no one yet knows the net sign (that is, plus or minus) of that impact.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Svensmark’s potentially myth-shattering study has so far been largely ignored by the media. Though published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A, it’s only been reported — and briefly at that — in The New Scientist (Oct. 7), Space Daily (Oct. 6) and the Daily Express (U.K., Oct. 6).
The media’s lack of interest hardly reflects upon the importance of Mr. Svensmark’s experiment so much as it reflects upon the media’s and global warming lobby’s excessive investment in greenhouse gas hysteria.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
A new year is around the corner, and some climate scientists and environmental activists say that means we’re one step closer to a climate Armageddon. But are we really?
Predicting the weather — especially a decade or more in advance — is unbelievably challenging. What’s the track record of those most worried about global warming? Decades ago, what did prominent scientists think the environment would be like in 2010? FoxNews.com has compiled eight of the most egregiously mistaken predictions, and asked the predictors to reflect on what really happened.
1. Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.
Ten years later, in December 2009, London was hit by the heaviest snowfall seen in 20 years. And just last week, a snowstorm forced Heathrow airport to shut down, stranding thousands of Christmas travelers.
A spokesman for the government-funded British Council, where Viner now works as the lead climate change expert, told FoxNews.com that climate science had improved since the prediction was made.
“Over the past decade, climate science has moved on considerably and there is now more understanding about the impact climate change will have on weather patterns in the coming years,” British Council spokesman Mark Herbert said. “However, Dr Viner believes that his general predictions are still relevant.”
Herbert also pointed to another prediction from Viner in the same article, in which Viner predicted that “heavy snow would return occasionally” and that it would “probably cause chaos in 20 years time.” Other scientists said “a few years” was simply too short a time frame for kids to forget what snow was.
“I’d say at some point, say 50 years from now, it might be right. If he said a few years, that was an unwise prediction,” said Michael Oppenheimer, director of Princeton University’s Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy.
Of course, Oppenheimer himself is known for controversial global warming scenarios.
2. “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michael Oppenheimer, published in “Dead Heat,” St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
Oppenheimer told FoxNews.com that he was trying to illustrate one possible outcome of failing to curb emissions, not making a specific prediction. He added that the gist of his story had in fact come true, even if the events had not occurred in the U.S.
“On the whole I would stand by these predictions — not predictions, sorry, scenarios — as having at least in a general way actually come true,” he said. “There’s been extensive drought, devastating drought, in significant parts of the world. The fraction of the world that’s in drought has increased over that period.”
That may be in doubt, however. Data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center shows that precipitation — rain and snow — has increased slightly over the century.
3. “Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.” Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972.
Ice coverage has fallen, though as of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover — an area larger than the continental United States — according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.
4. “Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010.” Associated Press, May 15, 1989.
Status of prediction: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1989. And U.S. temperature has increased even less over the same period.
The group that did the study, Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc., said it could not comment in time for this story due to the holidays.
But Oppenheimer said that the difference between an increase of nearly one degree and an increase of two degrees was “definitely within the margin of error... I would think the scientists themselves would be happy with that prediction.”
Many scientists, especially in the 1970s, made an error in the other direction by predicting global freezing:
5. “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Life magazine, January 1970.
Life Magazine also noted that some people disagree, “but scientists have solid experimental and historical evidence to support each of the following predictions.”
Air quality has actually improved since 1970. Studies find that sunlight reaching the Earth fell by somewhere between 3 and 5% over the period in question.
6. “If present trends continue, the world will be ... eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in “Earth Day,” 1970.
According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1970.
How could scientists have made such off-base claims? Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb” and president of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology, told FoxNews.com that ideas about climate science changed a great deal in the the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“Present trends didn’t continue,” Ehrlich said of Watt’s prediction. “There was considerable debate in the climatological community in the ‘60s about whether there would be cooling or warming … Discoveries in the ‘70s and ‘80s showed that the warming was going to be the overwhelming force.”
Ehrlich told FoxNews.com that the consequences of future warming could be dire.
The proverbial excrement is “a lot closer to the fan than it was in 1968,” he said. “And every single colleague I have agrees with that.”
He added, “Scientists don’t live by the opinion of Rush Limbaugh and Palin and George W. They live by the support of their colleagues, and I’ve had full support of my colleagues continuously.”
But Ehrlich admits that several of his own past environmental predictions have not come true:
7. “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people ... If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.
Ehrlich’s prediction was taken seriously when he made it, and New Scientist magazine underscored his speech in an editorial titled “In Praise of Prophets.”
“When you predict the future, you get things wrong,” Ehrlich admitted, but “how wrong is another question. I would have lost if I had had taken the bet. However, if you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems, just like everybody else.”
8. “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970
“Certainly the first part of that was very largely true — only off in time,” Ehrlich told FoxNews.com. “The second part is, well — the fish haven’t washed up, but there are very large dead zones around the world, and they frequently produce considerable stench.”
“Again, not totally accurate, but I never claimed to predict the future with full accuracy,” he said.
Purchasing green products may license people to engage in self-interested and unethical behaviours, such as cheating, stealing and lying, according to a newly published study. [KH: it is probable that those who were less morale were more likely to be concerned about being green.]
The study, in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science and conducted by University of Toronto professors Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, set out to determine how green consumption fits into people’s sense of social responsibility and how if affects their behaviour.
“While mere exposure can activate concepts related to social responsibility and ethical conduct and induce corresponding behaviours, purchasing green products may produce the counterintuitive effect of licensing asocial and unethical behaviours by establishing moral credentials,” the researchers write.
In other words, the moral halo people feel after purchasing green products might lead them to develop a holier-than-thou attitude, whether conscious or not, that could ulimately manifest in immoral acts.
In one experiment, 156 volunteers were randomly assigned to a computer screen showing one of two online stores that either carried mainly green products or conventional goods. One group was asked merely to rate the products for “aesthetics of design” and the “informativeness of description.” The others were invited to select products for purchase.
The students were then invited to take part in an ostensibly unrelated game where they were given money and told they could divide it with a partner any way they liked, as long as the partner agreed. If the offer was rejected, no one would get any money. The results were startling.
Those who had been exposed to the green store and asked merely to rate the products shared the most money. Participants who had made purchases in the green store shared less money than those who made purchases in the conventional goods store.
In a separate exercise, students were randomly assigned to make purchases in either the green or conventional store, as in the previous experiment, but they were then asked to accurately report which side of a computer screen was displaying more dots in a series of visual tests. They were told they would earn money for every correct response, but the program was designed so that students would quickly realize the computer would pay based on keystrokes, not accuracy.
When the results were tallied, students who had made purchases in the green store were found to have a higher number of incorrect answers, suggesting they cared less about being accurate than earning more money.
Finally, when students were asked to pay themselves in good faith from envelopes beside their computer screens, the students who had shopped at the green store stole a significantly larger amount on average.
Green living expert Amy Todisco debates the study’s findings, saying they seem like just another attack on environmentalism.
“The same argument could be made about Catholics after they’ve gone to confession or about missionaries doing good deeds - does that somehow licence them to do less altruistic things after they’ve done something good?” Ms. Todisco said. “I don’t think that makes any sense.”
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The human species is inherently and resolutely religious. The Bible and the Christian tradition affirm this truth, even as we know that the religious impulse can so easily transform itself into idolatry.
Even the most cursory look at the world’s cultures will indicate the religious fervor that characterizes humanity. The only observers who seem shocked by this universal phenomenon are the secularists and the prophets of secularization theory who were absolutely certain that religious faith and religious fervor would disappear in the modern world.
Needless to say, it hasn’t turned out that way. The theory of secularization is a shadow of its former self. Leading proponents like Peter Berger of Boston University now acknowledge that the secularization thesis was not an accurate predictor of the fate of religious belief in the modern world. The modern world is not secularized. Indeed, many of the most heated conflicts around the world today involve conflicting faiths. As Berger has commented, it turns out that a few European nations and the American intellectual elites are the exceptions, rather than the rule.
And yet, the intellectual elites are not so secular as they believe themselves to be. As it happens, their religion may not be theistic, but it is a religion all the same.
That fact is confirmed in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Stephen T. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, argues that the new religion of many secular folk is ecology. As Asma explains, many secular types suffer from “green guilt.”
In “Green Guilt,” he writes:
Now the secular world still has to make sense out of its own invisible, psychological drama-in particular, its feelings of guilt and indignation. Environmentalism, as a substitute for religion, has come to the rescue. Nietzsche’s argument about an ideal God and guilt can be replicated in a new form: We need a belief in a pristine environment because we need to be cruel to ourselves as inferior beings, and we need that because we have these aggressive instincts that cannot be let out.
Asma rightly notes that Friedrich Nietzsche, the nihilist who famously declared that God is dead, understood that religion was not dead at all. He “was the first to notice that religious emotions, like guilt and indignation, are still with us, even if we’re not religious.”
These “religious emotions,” including guilt, explain why so many people seek relief by therapy or treatment of some sort. Therapy replaces theology; the analyst replaces the minister; psychotropic drugs become the sacraments; and confessing one’s misdeeds on Oprah substitutes for the confession of sin. Some of the most obviously religious individuals on earth are those who genuinely insist that they are free from any religious beliefs at all.
Asma is not the first to note the deeply religious character of radical environmentalism, but his analysis of the structure of this religious system is truly insightful.
Instead of religious sins plaguing our conscience, we now have the transgressions of leaving the water running, leaving the lights on, failing to recycle, and using plastic grocery bags instead of paper. In addition, the righteous pleasures of being more orthodox than your neighbor (in this case being more green) can still be had-the new heresies include failure to compost, or refusal to go organic. Vitriol that used to be reserved for Satan can now be discharged against evil corporate chief executives and drivers of gas-guzzling vehicles. Apocalyptic fear-mongering previously took the shape of repent or burn in hell, but now it is recycle or burn in the ozone hole. In fact, it is interesting the way environmentalism takes on the apocalyptic aspects of the traditional religious narrative. The idea that the end is nigh is quite central to traditional Christianity-it is a jolting wake-up call to get on the righteous path. And we find many environmentalists in a similarly earnest panic about climate change and global warming.
Interestingly, Asma begins his article with an anecdote about his six-year-old son, who scolded his father for letting the water run too long. The boy is clearly “stressed and anxious” about the “sins of environmentalism.” The boy had obviously been indoctrinated into the religious system of environmentalism — something common to many of today’s children and adolescents.
Stephen Asma’s essay is important for multiple reasons. It is an excellent analysis of the religious character of environmentalism, complete with a set of comprehensive doctrines and religious practices. It is also an excellent consideration of the religious nature of human beings. Asma understands the pretensions of the secular mind, and he also sees the religious impulse working its way to the surface in the modern obsessions with health, fitness, and an ever-expanding set of “secular” sins.
At the same time, he writes from an apparently secular perspective — at least warning that we do not need yet another “humorless religion.” He is also identified as the author of Why I am a Buddhist. He seems above all to desire a bit less religious fervor from the environmentalists. He writes, “Let us save the planet, by all means. But let’s also admit to ourselves that we have a natural propensity toward guilt and indignation, and let that fact temper our fervor to more reasonable levels.”
We are left without a clue about what Asma would see as “more reasonable levels,” but his essay offers a rare glimpse into the religious character of the rather new faith of environmentalism, complete with its “potential for dogmatic zeal and obsession.” His essay puts an intelligent spotlight on the new religion of green.
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepares to question former Vice President Al Gore tomorrow morning about global warming, Czech President Vaclav Klaus is warning congressmen that environmental extremism is the modern equivalent of communism.
Responding yesterday to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and former House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., the Czech leader said: “It becomes evident that while discussing climate we are not witnessing a clash of views about the environment, but a clash of views about human freedom.”
“As someone who lived under communism for most of my life I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not communism or its various softer variants,” said Klaus, responding to questions posed by the two lawmakers. “Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism.”
He added, “The so-called climate change and especially man-made climate change has become one of the most dangerous arguments aimed at distorting human efforts and public policies in the whole world.”
In a letter to Klaus, Barton, the committee’s ranking Republican, and Hastert, ranking Republican on the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, asked the Czech president to comment on global warming, based on his background as an economist and political leader, especially since he is familiar with European responses to global warming.
“We believe your perspective on the political, economic and moral aspects of the climate change debate can be useful as we seek to assess the potential impacts of proposed U.S. climate-related regulations on the economic well-being of its citizens and their ability to contribute to future economic vitality and innovation here and abroad,” Barton and Hastert said.
Klaus urges policymakers to rely on free-market principles, not government coercion, in formulating public policy. In his written response to the House committee members, the Czech leader said:
“I warn against adopting regulations based on the so-called precautionary principle which the environmentalists use to justify their recommendations, the clear benefit of which they are not able to prove.” Klaus added, “Responsible politics should take into account the opportunity costs of such proposals and be aware of the fact that the wasteful environmentalist policies are adopted to the detriment of other policies, thus neglecting many other important needs of millions of people all over the world. Each policy measure must be based on a cost-benefit analysis.”
Last month, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, congratulated Klaus for speaking out against the fears of man-made global warming. Klaus had told a Czech newspaper on Feb. 8 that fears of catastrophic man-made global warming were a “myth” and critiqued the U.N.’s report, calling it “political.” Klaus also said other government leaders would speak out, but “political correctness strangles their voice.”
“President Klaus is to be commended for his courage in speaking not only the truth about the science behind global warming fears, but the reality of the politicization of the U.N.,” Inhofe said. “President Klaus’s reported comments questioning the fears of catastrophic man-made global warming are in line with a growing chorus of scientists, peer-reviewed literature and government leaders who are finally realizing the true motivations behind climate scares. The scientific and political momentum is clearly shifting away from climate alarmists to climate realists,” Inhofe said.
Are too many churches these days more concerned about saving the earth than saving souls?
A British sociologist and a prominent American theologian are among those who might say so.
Frank Furedi, who teaches at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, suggested that churches have replaced theology with ecology, using ecological virtues as a platform to assert their authority in society.
“In recent years, some in the church have sought to gain the public’s ear through the greening of traditional doctrines, and Christ the Savior is fast becoming Christ the environmental activist,” wrote Furedi in a recent article that appeared in the independent online publication Spiked.
“Western society is continually in search of rituals and symbols through which moral probity can be affirmed,” he continued. “It appears that, for many church leaders, the project of saving the planet offers more opportunities for reconstituting rituals and symbols than the saving of souls.”
As an example, Furedi pointed to the Church of England which launched an “eco-crusade” entitled Shrinking the Footprint in 2006.
The head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, had complained that “early modern religion contributed to the idea that the fate of nature is for it to be bossed around by a detached sovereign will, whether divine or human.”
In response, Furedi suggested the possibility that those “misguided early modern religionists” had received that idea from the Book of Genesis, which gives the account of when God gave mankind dominion over all the Earth and every “creeping thing that creepth upon the earth.”
He also criticized Williams for protesting “about nature being ‘bossed around’ not only by Man but by God.”
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, agrees that ecological concerns appear to act as a replacement for “abandoned doctrines” and “outdated concerns” – such as evangelism.
“Furedi’s argument is both insightful and troubling,” wrote Mohler in his blog after reading the British sociologists’ comments. “There can be no doubt that his argument is true with respect to many churches and denominations.”
As Mohler observed, creation care and climate change has increasingly become an important as well as divisive issue for Christians and churches in America.
Although nearly all Christian leaders affirm the need to protect God’s creation, many split when it comes to the reality of global warming and prioritizing environmental concerns among other moral issues.
During a U.S. senate committee hearing in June, a panel of evangelical, mainline and Catholic leaders debated the reality of global warming with both sides referencing the Bible for support.
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the head of The Episcopal Church and a former oceanographer, said she believed global warming is real and mainly caused by humans. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) also sided with Schori’s positions.
Yet others at the hearing, including a Southern Baptist representative, resisted from confirming the reality of global warming and criticized the use of the Bible to back environmental positions.
“The SBC and other like-minded evangelical groups are not opposed to environmental protection,” said Dr. Russell Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration. “We are, however, concerned about the ways in which religious arguments are used in this debate, possibly with harmful consequences both for public policy and for the mission of the church.”
The Southern Baptist Convention is the nation’s largest protestant denomination with 16 million members and 42,000 churches.
Moore affirmed that Southern Baptists do care about global warming “because the creation reveals the glory of God,” but that science does not absolutely support humans being the main cause for global warming and that cutting carbon emissions will be in the best interest for the majority of the world’s population.
In another incident, high-profile evangelical leaders voiced concern over the priority of global warming among other social issues.
Earlier this year, dozens of prominent evangelical leaders criticized the National Association of Evangelicals’ vice president, the Rev. Richard Cizik, for his global warming activism.
These leaders, which included conservative ministry leaders Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer, criticized Cizik’s green activism for stealing the spotlight from what they deemed as more important issues – such as abortion and same-sex “marriage.” In a letter to the NAE board, the leaders called the board to either stop Cizik from speaking about global warming or for his forced resignation.
In the end, the NAE board sided with Cizik and even adopted an official stance on climate change.
“Christians do bear a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth,” acknowledged Mohler. “This is not an easy responsibility to bear in the confusing context of modern ecological debates.”
However, he emphasized, “[t]he church of Jesus Christ bears the responsibility to be the steward of the Gospel above all other concerns.”
Both Furedi and Mohler warned that although creation care is a biblical responsibility, a church that makes saving the earth its core mission will ultimately lose authority because scientists will always be regarded as the expert in this field.
“We should take note when a sociologist like Frank Furedi sees the picture so clearly. Why does he see what so many other miss?” questioned Mohler.
“When a church forfeits its God-given mission, no other mission matters,” he concluded.
In the sometimes fractious world of Canadian environmentalism, few are as vilified as Dr. Patrick Moore.
At one time a ragged, rugged activist who helped lead Greenpeace in the 1970s, he later left the movement, slamming his former colleagues on the way out and championing enemy causes such as genetically modified food, fish farming, and most vocally, nuclear energy. The Vancouver scientist became known as the “Eco-Judas.”
While his turncoat gospel is known to some Canadians, it has recently gained him notoriety beyond these borders. Beginning with his appearance last year in the British documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle – the eco-skeptic’s riposte to An Inconvenient Truth – Dr. Moore’s green-bashing act is heating up in the United States.
As the expensive thirst for oil grows and the debate over a “nuclear renaissance” intensifies, Dr. Moore is experiencing his own revival. As the chair of Greenspirit, his B.C.-based consultancy, the 61-year-old with a PhD in ecology has become nuclear energy’s go-to spokesman in Washington, D.C., where he and former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman lead Casenergy Coalition - a lobby group to which former Florida governor and presidential brother Jeb Bush is a member.
While mocking his former comrades as purveyors of what he calls “pop environmentalism,” he touts the power of fission.
Nuclear energy remains controversial because of its radioactive waste, potential fallout issues, projected cost overruns and security concerns such as vulnerability to terrorism attacks. Still, the Bush administration has frequently supported nuclear energy as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal, which are considered dirty and expensive.
As Dr. Moore’s supportive op-eds pop up in newspapers across the country, foes depict him as a well-greased “greenwasher,” a spokesman who abuses his Greenpeace bona fides to give enviro-legitimacy to corporations.
“Every time he opens his mouth, the first thing he mentions is Greenpeace,” said Jim Riccio, nuclear-policy analyst in that organization’s U.S. chapter. “He keeps on cropping up wherever the government wants a reactor. He goes in there to greenwash for the industry whenever they want to build.”
His omnipresence has been duly noted elsewhere. Newsweek’s April 21 issue featured him in a Q & A with its resident philosopher Fareed Zakaria. On Earth Day, he wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal justifying his departure from Greenpeace, and the same week, the left-leaning magazine The Nation placed him at the nexus of nuclear advocacy, ridiculing him as “the former Greenpeace co-founder turned corporate shill.”
The May issue of the liberal magazine Mother Jones, however, was perhaps the most critical, depicting him as a Pinot Grigio-sipping, atom-peddling sharpie. “Patrick Moore sits in a dark mahogany booth at the Off the Record bar across from the White House,” begins the article’s author, Justine Sharrock. “Clad in a conservative navy suit, he blends comfortably with the crowd of lobbyists and politicians - a far cry from his former identity as a scruffy-faced Greenpeace leader battling nuclear power.”
“When you’re next to the White House, it is sort of respectful to dress the part,” said Dr. Moore in a telephone interview, adding that Ms. Sharrock, “was nicely dressed herself.”
He also added that Pinot Grigio was hardly a top-shelf wine. “It was not as if it were a Pouilly Fuissé.”
In essence, he insisted, the article had nothing new to report.
Some members of the U.S. and Canadian environmental communities would agree. The new criticisms echo the old ones: he’s a flip-flopper and a sellout. The geography, however, has changed.
In the United States, many experts say there is a greater reliance on “dirty” energy sources such as coal and oil than in Canada, raising the stakes to the south: there are an estimated nine applications out to build nuclear plants, making his role all the more pivotal and public.
As a result, many new allegations dog him: he fails to disclose his lobbying ties in his myriad op-ed columns; he’s in it for the attractive dollars of K Street, the lobbyist’s corridor of clout in the capital. “I could be a carpenter, but I’ve got to make money,” he said. “I’d rather do it with the issues I truly believe in.”
As for the lack of disclosure, he said that he could not help what credentials editors chose or dropped from the bottom of his opinion pieces.
Unflappable in the face of criticism, he is also unyielding towards his antagonists.
Often portrayed as “the Luke Skywalker who became Darth Vader,” “speaking more for his own bottom line than intellectual rigour,” Dr. Moore is equally unsparing in his depiction of Greenpeace, which he thinks has veered too far from its scientific moorings. “You don’t need a lot of education to know that we need to save the last whale,” he said.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Moore, whose family was in the logging business, helped found Greenpeace and aided in planning its first protest, a boat trip to protest nuclear testing in the Aleutian Islands.
For 15 years he participated in the movement’s showboating environmental tactics, campaigning against nuclear testing, whaling, seal hunting, uranium mining and toxic waste dumping. As one of its national — and then international — leaders, he became one of its most public faces, rallying against the dark forces of waste and wanton destruction.
By the mid-1980s, the non-profit group established itself as the globe’s ecological enfant terrible, with offices in almost two dozen countries and an annual income of more than $100-million in donations and grants. It was around then that Dr. Moore had second thoughts.
In 1986, he abruptly left the environmental movement — or as some retorted, it left him by voting him out. “At one point — I think it was in England — we were talking about science and I realized that not one of [the directors] were scientists,” he recalled. “We were taking on chemistry issues like dioxin and chlorine.”
Dr. Moore said when his fellow directors wanted a worldwide ban on chlorine, he wanted out. “How could you ban chlorine? It’s an element,” he said. “You can’t ban an element.”
More than two decades later, he said, the old battles are still being fought.
His former colleagues are trying to ban him from a crucial document from its history: His name has been removed from the official crew list of Greenpeace’s maiden voyage.
HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family’s carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: “The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.
“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”
In his latest comments, the academic says that when couples are planning a family they should be encouraged to think about the environmental consequences.
“The decision to have children should be seen as a very big one and one that should take the environment into account,” he added.
Professor Guillebaud says that, as a general guideline, couples should produce no more than two offspring.
The world’s population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. Almost all the growth will take place in developing countries.
The population of developed nations is expected to remain unchanged and would have declined but for migration.
The British fertility rate is 1.7. The EU average is 1.5. Despite this, Professor Guillebaud says rich countries should be the most concerned about family size as their children have higher per capita carbon dioxide emissions.
by John Stossel
They’ve been at it again. In Montreal, a bunch of politicians and activists just finished another round of negotiations among themselves about just how much of our freedom to take away in pursuit of a greener planet. That’s “green,” as in “envious” — of the people who were able to invent, build industries and develop economies in generations past, before the environmentalists convinced world “leaders” that products that improve human life, and the factories that make those products, must be limited in the name of the Earth.
Meanwhile, in Ntinda, Uganda, that country’s vice president was calling on world leaders to help save human lives — by supporting Uganda’s use of a chemical the fear of which galvanized the environmental movement decades ago.
On the surface, these are two different environmental stories: one about chemicals that supposedly might raise temperatures, and one about a chemical that can damage eggshells. But the underlying issue is the same: Should the law promote human life, or should it sacrifice human beings and their quality of life on the altar of Gaia?
Two to three million people die of malaria every year, Uganda’s health minister has said, because the U.S. government is afraid of a chemical called DDT. The United States does spend your tax dollars trying to fight malaria in Africa, but it won’t fund DDT. The money goes for things like mosquito netting over beds (even though not everyone in Africa even has a bed). The office that dispenses those funds, the Agency for International Development, acknowledges DDT is safe, but it will not spent a penny on it.
Why? Fifty years ago, Americans sprayed tons of DDT everywhere. Farmers used it to repel bugs, and health officials to fight mosquitoes that carry malaria. Nobody worried much about chemicals then. People really did just sit there and eat in clouds of DDT. When the trucks came to spray, people often acted as if the ice cream truck had come. They were so happy to have mosquitoes repelled. Huge amounts of DDT were sprayed on food and people, who just breathed it in.
Did they all get cancer and die?
Amazingly, there’s no evidence that all this spraying hurt people. It killed mosquitoes. (DDT also kills bedbugs, which are now making a comeback.) It did cause some harm, however. It threatened bird populations by thinning eggshells. In 1962, the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson made the damage famous and helped create our fear of chemicals. The book raised some serious questions about the use of DDT, but the legitimate nature of those questions was lost in the media feeding frenzy that followed. DDT was a “Killer Chemical,” and the press was off on another fear campaign. DDT was banned.
But fear campaigns kill people, too. DDT is a great pesticide. The amount was the reason for the DDT problems. We sprayed far more than is needed to prevent the spread of malaria. It’s sprayed on walls, and one spraying will keep mosquitoes at bay for half a year. It’s a very efficient malaria fighter. But today, DDT is rarely used. America’s demonization of it caused others to shun it. And while the U.S. government spends tax money fighting malaria in Africa, it refuses to put that money into DDT. It might save lives, but it might offend environmentalist zealots and create political fallout.
DDT was banned in America after we started celebrating Earth Day. Environmentalists made a lot of claims then — I have an amusing clip of an environmentalist exclaiming, “You are breathing probably the last of the oxygen!” Soon after that the environmentalists mounted their campaign against DDT. The result? A huge resurgence of malaria, more than 50 million dead, mostly children.
“If it’s a chemical, it must be bad,” said scientist Amir Attaran. “If it’s DDT, it must be awful. And that’s fine if you’re a rich, white environmentalist. It’s not so fine if you’re a poor black kid who is about to lose his life from malaria.”
Attaran is leading a campaign of hundreds of scientists urging the use of DDT to combat malaria. It’s needed especially in Africa, he says, because malaria kills thousands there every day. “If I were to characterize what USAID does on malaria,” he said, “I’d call it medical malpractice, I would call it murderous.”
Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News “20/20” and author of “Give Me a Break.”
By Brit Hume
Bill Clinton says President Bush is “flat wrong” to reject the Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on economic grounds telling an audience at the U.N.’s climate conference in Montreal, “we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies.” Clinton and then-vice president Al Gore were instrumental in the formulation of the original Kyoto treaty in 1997, which would have required a 29% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2012.
President Bush has come under fire from environmentalists for formally renouncing the agreement, but in 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 against even considering the treaty and warned President Clinton not to even send it to them, saying the United States shouldn’t sign anything that would “result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.” As a result, President Clinton never even submitted the Kyoto Treaty for ratification.
WASHINGTON — How the gods do play upon the poor soul who is known to us all as Al Gore. On the day Boy Clinton was impeached they sent him out on the White House lawn to laud The Groper as “one of our greatest presidents.” In Campaign 2000, they cast him as the Poor Loser. Ever since he has been wandering the land looking for a friend and intoning preposterosities even more absurd than when he wrote his green classic, “Earth in the Balance.” There he predicted that all the automobiles in America would soon be parked curbside while Americans squeezed into public transportation and enjoyed the ride. Now he champions the windmill over fossil fuel, no matter how many whooping cranes are slaughtered by the whirling blades. He is Don Quixote turned upside down.
What did the rude gods do to him this time? They forced him to cancel a speech scheduled for New Orleans where he planned to blame global warming for the hurricane season. You can be sure that when Hurricane Katrina scotched his appearance in New Orleans, Al, ever the opportunist, saw this idiotic speech as a splendid opportunity to summon the attention of the nation. Of a sudden Al would be the man of the moment. He might yet become president — a Green in the White House.
So where did Al choose to deliver this critical compendium of misjudgments, hyperbole and error? On Sept. 9 he spoke in San Francisco, where he said “The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.” And he urged that “the leaders of our country be held accountable” for the flooding of New Orleans. Unfortunately he was addressing the Sierra Club, which was not the best place to bring up the flooding of New Orleans.
The very day he spoke a congressional task force reported that the levees that failed in New Orleans would have been raised higher and strengthened in 1996 by the Army Corps of Engineers were it not for a lawsuit filed by environmentalists led by who else but the Sierra Club. Among those “leaders of our country” to “be held accountable” for the flooding of New Orleans, would Al include the Sierra Club? How about the Save the Wetlands stalwarts? According to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, a 1977 lawsuit filed by Save the Wetlands stopped a congressionally-funded plan to protect New Orleans with a “massive hurricane barrier.” A judge found that New Orleans’ hurricane barrier would have to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers filed a better environmental-impact statement.
Now, because those who would have improved hurricane protection in New Orleans were prevented by the environmentalist rigorists, the wetlands are polluted and imperiled and New Orleans has suffered the damage that practical minds have been trying to prevent for three decades. What has thwarted them are the Al Gores of the environmental movement and a well-intentioned piece of legislation that has become a major stumbling block to improving the nation’s infrastructure and energy production, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA). The legislation might have been sensible at the time but it has grown like a bureaucratic cancer. Environmentalist lawyers have expanded its reach until it now entoils practically any construction done by the federal government in red tape that stops projects large and small, some mere pork barrel expense, some critical to the safety of the citizenry.
The congressional task force that exposed the Sierra Club’s mischief in New Orleans was convened in April to study the costs of NEPA and suggest means to reform it. Doubtless members of the task force — it includes 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats — will find some valuable contributions to the environment that it has made. But the task force and Hurricane Katrina have already revealed that it is in need of serious reform. For too long environmentalist fanatics with no sense of a broad-based commonweal have had a veto over government projects and projects in the private sector that are essential to the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Cost-benefit analyses and free-market treatment of pollution are but two alternatives the task force should consider over the decades-long environmental policy of “just say no.”
In December, 1997, world leaders met in Kyoto, Japan, to discuss how best to act upon the promises they had made at the 1992 Earth Summit.
Global warming occurs when carbon-based gases -- mainly carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane -- accumulate in the atmosphere and retain the heat of the sun. They are called greenhouse gases because the effect is similar to the retention of the sun’s heat in a glass-walled greenhouse.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy agreed to bring their emissions of greenhouse gases to 5% less than 1990 levels. They also agreed to foster energy efficiency in their economies, promote the development of cleaner energy sources, and employ agricultural practices that have a sustainable environmental impact. Overall, there was an agreement to co-operate internationally in these policies and to share reports on progress.
HOW IT WORKS
In addition to domestic goals on pollution reduction, the Kyoto Protocol provides countries with three other ways of earning credits toward their stated goals:
- Clean Development: countries can earn credits by investing in emission reduction projects or clean energy production in developing countries.
- Joint Implementation: countries can earn credits by investing in emission reduction projects in developed countries that have taken on a Kyoto target.
- International Emissions Trading: developed countries that have taken on a Kyoto target can buy and sell emission credits among themselves.
WHAT CANADA AGREES TO DO
Under Kyoto, Canada agrees to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. This would represent a 26% reduction from projected 2012 levels. Two years ago, Canada had surpassed its 1990 levels by close to 20%.
As of this week, 86 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol -- roughly half the number that attended the Kyoto conference. The United States has said it will not ratify Kyoto.
Canada has argued it should receive greater credit for “carbon sinks.” This is the term used for forests and other vegetation that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store it and produce oxygen. Canada has also asked for more clean-energy export credits for the natural gas and electricity it sells to the United States. The Canadian oil-and-gas industry has also argued that the economic impact of sweeping emissions reductions would harm the Canadian economy, while a flight from Canada’s oil and gas would not necessarily mean a global reduction in the burning of these fossil fuels.
The government of Canada has made a total commitment of $1.1-billion to address climate change over the next five years, compared to $850-million over the past five years. These figures do not include the economic effects of ratification, projections of which vary widely.
The protocol will only become legally binding when it is ratified by at least 55 countries, covering at least 55% of the emissions addressed by the protocol. The 55-country benchmark has been passed, but the 23 industrialized countries that have ratified represent only 36.6% of 1990 emission levels. Canada represents 3% of these emissions.
Supplemental Articles in a separate file (click here to read)