News Analysis

News: Environment (Supplement)



Schoolchildren are ‘victims of green conspiracy’ (London Times, 971006)

Smog Spreads over Indonesia (971106)

Pollution in Indian cities gets deadlier (971106)

Real Aid: Save the planet with capitalism (020828)

Ecologist snubs UN Earth summit (Ottawa Citizen, 020828)

Ottawa may go it alone on Kyoto (National Post, 020829)

10 years in the battle against climate change (National Post, 020829)

In Johannesburg, activists sow false fears (National Post, 020828)

No hesitation but plenty of deviation (London Times, 020903)

Unsustainable: It’s the third world, not the West (National Review Online, 020828)

Taking Environmentalists Seriously: Risks (National Review Online, 021115)

Time to throw out ‘myth’ of recycling (London Daily Telegraph, 030304)

Three Plead Guilty to Ecoterror Crimes (Foxnews, 040112)

Celebrate Earth Day! Today’s no time for gloom and doom (National Review Online, 040422)

Arson cited as cause of fires (Washington Times, 041208)

Suspected Eco-Bomber Arrested (Foxnews, 050210)

Environmentalism is dead - Long live environmentalism! (, 050429)

More Good Green News: The Great Lakes and beyond. (National Review Online, 050531)

God and Man in the Environmental Debate (Christian Post, 051130)

Keeping Our Cool (, 051213)

Time to Bury Kyoto and Move On (, 051222)

Greenland’s Ice-Dumping Glaciers Send Sea Levels Skyward (Foxnews, 060216)

Common Ground on Creation? The E. O. Wilson Interview (Mohler, 061129)

An Inconvenient Economic Truth: Going green comes with costs. (Weekly Standard, 070321)

Consumers in dark over risks of new light bulbs: Push for energy-saving fluorescents ignores mercury disposal hazards (WorldNetDaily, 070416)

The Truth About “Alternative Energy” (, 071205)

Fire Ignites ‘Street of Dreams’ Home Development; ELF Sign Left at Scene and Explosives Found (Foxnews, 080303)

Jury Convicts Woman of Arson in Eco-Terror Firebombing at College (Foxnews, 080306)

Pop Tarts: Exclusive: Not So Earth-Friendly? Activists Attack Al Gore (Foxnews, 080421)

A New Environmentalism (, 080424)

‘Crime’ and Ethanol (, 080507)

China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard (Paris, International Herald, 090811)

Climatism and the new green industrial state (National Post, 091021)

China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard (Paris, International Herald, 090811)

The recycling conundrum: How your blue bin hurts the environment (National Post, 091204)

Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively (Paris International Herald, 091225)

‘Green’ shopping used to justify subsequent wasteful behaviour: study (National Post, 091221)

Obama energy official can cash in on administration’s green policies (, 100427)





Schoolchildren are ‘victims of green conspiracy’ (London Times, 971006)


CHILDREN are being indoctrinated by inaccurate and misleading programmes of environmental education, according to a report published today.


A study of textbooks in Britain and the United States, commissioned by the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs, finds that theories such as man-made global warming are often taught as fact. The subject is said to be dominated by tendentious “doomsday scenarios” and in need of reform.


The two American researchers whose book, Environmental Education, is published today, focused on GCSE texts and examination questions in Britain, and reading material for young children in America. They found that in both countries pupils were being encouraged to take action to “save the planet” without full consideration of the benefits.


Environmental education is high on the Government’s agenda for schools, with Sir Geoffrey Holland, the Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University, chairing a panel of experts examining the subject.


But Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie, who carried out a five-month study of the subject in Britain, says that discussion of complex issues such as the need for alternative sources of energy and the spread of “desertification” is often inaccurate and biased. In one book, a photograph of blackened conifers is captioned “Acid rain damage to trees in Poland”, when local air pollution was almost certainly to blame rather than the more distant burning of fossil fuels. Exercises encouraging children to simulate the damage done to forests by pouring acidic water on to cress seeds are dismissed as “purely rhetorical science”.


Teaching about acid rain usually ignores recent scientific evidence suggesting that its impact has been overstated. Desertification is also said to be exaggerated, while the most pessimistic assumptions about global warming are accepted uncritically.


Mr Aldrich-Moodie, who is a doctoral student at Princeton University after studying at Yale and Cambridge, writes: “It would be too much to claim for environmental education either the power to ‘save the Earth’ or to turn children into brainwashed environmental activists, as some conservatives no doubt fear. All the same, improvements in environmental education could help to equip children to be more savvy, humane environmentalists as adults.”


Allegations of systematic bias in the teaching of environmental education have been the subject of protracted debate in the United States. Guidelines emphasising objectivity have been adopted in a number of states.


The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority issued advice to English schools last year on the teaching of environmental education, which is a “cross-curricular theme” in the national curriculum. Last week, the Government asked the Council for Environmental Education to draw up a code of practice for teaching materials.


The voluntary code, which is expected to be ready next spring, will include a commitment to accuracy, clear labelling of authorship, and trials of any exercises to ensure their worth. Nick Jones, the council’s education officer, said: “I do not think environmental education is a subject that can be taught neutrally, but we hope to see that the information given to children is accurate and the source identified.”


Mr Jones added: “There is much more to the subject than gloom and doom. Most of what goes on in schools is about opening young people’s eyes to what is around them and enriching their lives.”


Bill Lucas, director of Learning Through Landscapes and an adviser to the Government’s panel, said: “Environmental textbooks that I have seen in Britain have been first rate, and no more or less biased than anything else you might buy for schools. There certainly is no green conspiracy.”


But Mr Aldrich-Moodie said complex issues were being over-simplified to make them easily communicable and encourage political action. “Children are missing the crucial and difficult lesson of how to approach evidence with an inquiring scepticism that both probes it for weaknesses and searches out its implications.”




Smog Spreads over Indonesia (971106)


JAKARTA — At least 30 Indonesian cities were covered by thick smog from raging bush and forest fires on Thursday, five more than a day earlier.


“More cities are covered with smog today. Zero visibility was reported in Jambi (on Sumatra island)... In general, the smog still persists,” said an official at Jakarta’s smog control bureau.


He said that in addition to Sumatra and Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo island, smog also covered parts of Sulawesi island in the east.


An official at the Aeronautics and Space Office said the latest satellite data received from the U.S.-based National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed 40 “hot spots” or areas affected by the fire in Indonesia, including some on the eastern island of Timor.


“Identifying the hot spots has been hampered by the smog. The provinces of Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung (on Sumatra) are almost completely covered with smog today,” he said.


The official Antara news agency reported Thursday that at least 12 people, most of them elderly, had died of respiratory problems in Jambi, which has been covered by smog for three months.


And the rainy season in Indonesia, now expected to start at least two months late in December or January, would not necessarily mean an end to the smog problem, said the official from the Aeronautics and Space Office.


“I think the rains will produce more smog because of the burning. It’s just like pouring water on burning coal. It will produce smoke,” he said.


The normal, torrential monsoon rains have been delayed by the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that is affecting global weather patterns.


Officials have blamed plantation and forestry companies and small farmers for starting the fires to clear land for planting.


Forestry and environmental experts said burning peat was spewing carbon into the atmosphere, causing much of the choking smog that has blanketed parts of Southeast Asia and triggered health alerts in recent months.


Typhoon Linda, which devastated Vietnam last weekend causing hundreds of deaths, fanned the flames and swept smog back over Malaysia and Singapore, although Thursday both countries were experiencing a respite from the choking pollution.


Singapore had a smog-less day with a Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) rating of 36 in the early afternoon. A PSI reading of under 50 is regarded as good.


The smog situation had also eased over the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.




Pollution in Indian cities gets deadlier (971106)


NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Pollution in Indian cities is getting deadlier.


Nearly 51,800 people were estimated to have died in 1995 because of lung and cardiovascular diseases linked to pollution in 36 Indian cities, according to a new study by the New Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment.


The center based its estimate on government pollution statistics and a mathematical model devised by the World Bank.


In the capital of New Delhi — among the most polluted cities in the world — 9,859 deaths were estimated to be caused by polluted air in 1995.


In the eastern port of Calcutta, the annual pollution death rate increased to 10,700 in 1995 from 5,726 four years earlier.


In addition, 25 million people were treated for related problems such as bronchitis, asthma attacks, respiratory tract diseases and skin allergy, the report said.


Vehicle emissions account for 65% of the air pollution in New Delhi.




Real Aid: Save the planet with capitalism (020828)


Whenever delegates from countries around the world get together it is almost always bad news for freedom and capitalism. The earth summit on “sustainable development” that is currently being held in South Africa is no exception.


So far the conference has been an all-too-predictable bashing of rich nations for holding back the poor nations. The rich nations (the United States) are asked to do more to alleviate AIDS, more to reduce global poverty, more to protect the earth’s natural resources, more to feed the hungry, and more to stop mythical global warming. All that was left off the list. Instead, we hear the familiar refrain from self-righteous-and-yet repressive leaders of poor nations that the U.S. with five percent of the world’s population uses 25% of the world’s resources. (No mention that the U.S. also produces more than 25% of the world’s output — of AIDS drugs, food, vaccines, infant formula, humanitarian aid; the list goes on.)


There is an overall false message of doom and decline at the earth summit, as if the earth’s ecosystem is on the verge of collapse and that human beings are worse off now than in the past. It isn’t true. Sure, in some of the heartbreakingly repressed nations of Africa things are getting worse. But in the rest of the world things are almost universally getting much better — in terms of health, in terms of material progress, and in terms of a cleaner environment.


Here are some of the most encouraging trends that you will not hear about among the elite gathered in South Africa this week.


Life Expectancy: In the rich countries life expectancy — the broadest measure of health and a safe environment — has increased by 30 years over the past century. Even in poor countries life expectancy has risen at an astonishing pace. The average resident of a poor nation can expect to live nearly twice as long as his or her 19th-century counterpart. Most of humanity enjoys better health and longevity than the richest people in the richest countries did just 100 years ago.


Health: Parents should reflect long and hard on one statistic whenever they think life isn’t treating them well these days: The death rate of children under 14 has fallen by about 95% since 1900. The child death rates in just the past 20 years have been halved in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Israel, and scores of other nations. Almost all of the major killer diseases prior to 1900 — tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox, whooping cough, polio, malaria — to name a few, have been nearly eradicated thanks to medical progress, most it coming from the evil capitalist United States.


Nutrition: Nutrition and diets have been improving the world over. Gale Johnson the agriculture expert at the University of Chicago has discovered that fewer people worldwide died from famine in the 20 century than in the 19th century — not just as a percentage of the population, but in absolute numbers. That is a spectacular achievement in our ability to feed the planet, given that the world population is some four times higher today than 100 years ago.


Education: The world’s inhabitants are better educated than previously. Illiteracy has fallen by more than two thirds in the U.S. and by an even greater percentage in many poor nations.


Environment: Economic development is the best way to clean the environment. Poverty is the biggest impediment to clean air and water. Consider the U.S.: Smog levels have declined by about 40%, and carbon monoxide is down nearly one third since the 1960s despite nearly twice as many cars. Some of the most impressive advances in cleaning the air have been recorded in the dirtiest cities, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. Airborne lead is down more than 90% from 40 years ago. Contaminated drinking water killed hundreds of thousands of Americans annually 100 years ago, versus very few deaths today.


Natural Resources: By any measure, natural resources have become more available rather than more scarce. Consider copper, which is typical of metals: The cost of a ton is only about a tenth of what it was 200 years ago. There is evidence that oil — the most worrisome of resources because it is mostly burned up and therefore cannot be recycled — has actually been getting cheaper to produce.


What has been the driving force behind this miraculous progress? Three words: free-market capitalism. If only the intellectual elite and the power holders in South Africa this week would go home and deregulate their economies, cut tax rates, expand democracy, and cut government rules and bureaucracies, we could blaze a path to alleviating world poverty in a generation or two. If only markets, not governments, controlled the price and usage of natural resources, we would see a further abundance of food, minerals, and energy — enough for the entire world to share in the bounty.


The earth summit is based on a cancerous and discredited creed of limits to growth. It is insane to hope that people who believe in limits to growth will create the conditions that nurture growth. Even the term “sustainable development” is offensive and suggests that economic development and improving the environment are somehow incompatible — which is precisely the opposite of the historical record. Where there is economic development and capitalism, there is clean air and water, well-educated citizens, abundant resources and low disease rates. Where there is no capitalism, there is an abundance of these maladies.


It really is all that simple.


The only real limits to growth are created by wrong-headed conferences populated by unthinking do-gooders.


Freedom will save the planet — if only governments will allow it.


— Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.




Ecologist snubs UN Earth summit (Ottawa Citizen, 020828)


‘I’m not going to jet off to every useless talk-fest that occurs’


Elizabeth May says the Johannesburg summit borders on fraud.


OTTAWA - One of Canada’s leading environmentalists says she is not going to the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development because it is a “useless talk-fest” that will not accomplish anything.


“I’m not going to jet off to every useless talk-fest that occurs just because it’s happening and I’d get to see a bunch of old friends,” said Elizabeth May, president of the Sierra Club of Canada. “I think the world would be better off and the climate would be better off if we could have avoided all the greenhouse gases from people flying there, and all the money.”


The United Nations summit, which bills itself as the biggest-ever international meeting on the environment and development, will bring together more than 100 heads of state, 5,000 governmental delegates, 15,000 delegates from public interest groups and 2,000 journalists. Another 50,000 unofficial delegates are to show up at various side events organized around the main meeting, which began Monday and ends Sept. 4.


The City of Johannesburg alone estimates it will spend $9-million to host the summit, while the UN is kicking in $1.3-million. Canadian officials refused to disclose the amount Canada expects to spend sending its delegation of approximately 200 people, saying it is against policy to disclose figures until after the conference is over.


The Canadian delegation will include Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister; David Anderson, the Minister of Environment; Susan Whelan, the Minister of International Co-operation, and Denis Paradis, the Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa.


Speaking at a background briefing yesterday, a Canadian government official said the summit will produce a political declaration, a raft of “partnership agreements” between governments and businesses on sustainable development projects and about 50 “targets and timelines” to achieve goals in areas such as biodiversity, education and fisheries.


However, the official admitted there is no penalty for failing to meet the goals, and that some of the goals have already been set in other international declarations.


Ms. May is not the only one declining to attend the conference on the grounds of pointlessness.


Louise Comeau, director of the Centre for Sustainable Community Development with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, said the federation was offered two seats on the official delegation, but turned them down.


“We were asked if we wanted to be on the delegation.... I said: Would we be contributing to key decisions that would affect Canadian communities? And we were told no. There are no key decisions being made,” she said. “It’s just a fight over a communiqué, and we don’t have time any more.”


Ms. Comeau works with towns and cities on practical environmental projects such as setting up recycling programs, converting gases from landfills into green energy sources and treating sewage water. She estimates it would cost $10,000 to send one person to the summit.


“You’ve got to feed them, you’ve got to put them in a hotel. And you’ve got to fly them there. And they’ve got 200 people coming. Imagine what we could have done with that money,” she said.


Ms. May said the original concept of the Johannesburg summit was as an accountability session -- to hold countries to account for promises kept and promises broken since the 1992 Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro.


At the 1992 summit, industrialized countries made three major promises: to reduce the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change; to protect wilderness areas and the plants and animals that inhabit them; and to increase foreign aid to 0.7% of gross domestic product.


Canada has not kept its promises: the Species at Risk Act is still awaiting passage in the Senate; greenhouse gas emissions have risen 16% since 1990; the Kyoto accord on climate change is still not ratified; and foreign aid stands at 0.25% of GDP.


Yet the Johannesburg summit will not evaluate nations’ past performance, and the Kyoto accord is not even on the agenda.


“To have a summit that doesn’t even discuss Kyoto is a scandal. I feel it borders on fraud,” Ms. May said.




Ottawa may go it alone on Kyoto (National Post, 020829)


Speculation rife that PM will commit at Earth Summit: Cabinet gets ratification plan next month, could be approved without provincial OK


OTTAWA - The federal government is moving swiftly on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change with a plan for ratification and implementation of the international treaty set to go to Cabinet on Sept. 26, sources say.


It appears the federal Cabinet could approve the plan to ratify the accord without first consulting the provinces, contrary to promises it had made earlier. Some of the provinces, particularly Alberta, are strongly opposed to the treaty.


News of the plan comes as speculation mounts that Jean ChrÈtien may use his speech at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on Monday before more than 100 world leaders to announce a decision to ratify Kyoto.


David Anderson, the Environment Minister, said yesterday the decision to announce ratification is the Prime Minister’s call.


The Prime Minister has told his party he will retire in February, 2004. He said in a speech last week that his government will “probably” ratify the accord, which aims to reduce Canada’s output of greenhouse gases to 6% below the level produced in 1990. Greenhouse gases, produced by burning fossil fuels, are believed to be the prime cause of the gradual warming of the Earth’s temperature and the subsequent change in climactic conditions.


“He will have to decide whether or not, in his view, consultations have been adequate, and, of course, we will have to have in place some sort of plan which will not unduly penalize any region of the country,” Mr. Anderson said.


The government seemed to promise business groups and the provinces that it will set out a detailed plan for implementing the climate change treaty this fall and consult with them before announcing whether or not to accept the international treaty.


But Mr. Anderson said yesterday Ottawa has been consulting widely on climate change for the past five years with various groups.


“We do not expect to satisfy everybody across the board who may have a point of view that consultations have been completed, because most people regard consultations as complete only when you accept their point of view. So we don’t expect everybody to be fully in agreement with us when we announce our decision. There will be some that say consultation should continue,” Mr. Anderson said.


The ratification plan is being pushed forward by Environment Canada and has the support of the Privy Council, the chief advisory group to the Prime Minister.


The plan has five core elements, including a proposal for a $500-million annual federal-provincial fund to offset the costs to business of implementing the accord and the continuation of Canada’s demand that it receive credit for exports of clean-burning natural gas and of hydroelectricity.


The plan is to be reviewed by the special Cabinet committee on climate change on Sept. 12 before going to the full Cabinet on Sept. 26, at which time a decision on whether to accept it would be made.


It would then be discussed with the provinces at a ministerial meeting on Oct. 12 and then released publicly in late October just before the next international meeting on climate change in India.


Consultations with various groups and industry will follow the announcement of the government’s intention to ratify the controversial treaty, but it appears those consultations would focus on implementation issues rather than on whether Canada should sign the accord.


Business groups predict the Kyoto deal will cost the Canadian economy thousands of jobs. In a rare show of unity, the country’s major business organizations are expressing concern that Mr. ChrÈtien will renege on his pledge of full consultation on the issue.


“Each of our organizations has been in touch with your government to raise the very real concerns of our members regarding this protocol and the potential impact a hasty decision [on ratification] could have on Canada’s economy and standard of living,” said a letter sent to Mr. ChrÈtien by the leaders of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.


“Recent comments from you and other representatives of your government indicate that it is important to restate these concerns.”


The business groups, which represent the broad spectrum of business interests in the country from large international corporations to small business, remind Mr. ChrÈtien, in the letter, that he promised a concrete plan on how to implement climate change policies and how to pay for them before committing Canada to the international treaty.


“The government still has not laid out a concrete plan indicating the policies that it will utilize to implement Kyoto. Nor has there been adequate discussion with businesses, provincial, territorial and local governments and individuals Canadians about the implications of such policies, their cost and how they will be financed,” the letter states.


Nancy Hughes Anthony, Canadian Chamber chief executive officer, said business remains skeptical that Canada can meet the climate change goals of the Kyoto Protocol and is still urging Mr. ChrÈtien and the the Liberal government to develop a “made-in-Canada” climate change policy.


“Our concern is the government is just going to ratify it now ... it will make them feel good but it really wouldn’t address the key issue -- which is how can we develop a plan that is good for Canada, that everybody can get behind and will actually be effective in responding to the goals of the Kyoto Protocol,” Ms. Hughes Anthony said.


Provinces such as Alberta believe the Kyoto Protocol will have a devastating impact on the province’s oil and gas sector. The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association has predicted 450,000 jobs in manufacturing will be lost over the 20-year period that Kyoto is implemented.


Quebec, which exports clean hydroelectric power, is pushing Ottawa to ratify the treaty.


The United States has rejected the Kyoto agreement and business groups believe Canada will put itself at a competitive disadvantage with the United States in ratifying the treaty.


Enough countries have already pledged to ratify the Kyoto protocol that Canada could, despite its small share of global emissions, raise international support to the threshold required for it to take effect.


That would mean all signatory countries would be legally bound to cut greenhouse emissions back to 1990 levels by the period 2008 to 2012.


Such an announcement would infuriate the treaty’s critics, but ensure headlines worldwide and earn Mr. ChrÈtien kudos from environmentalists.


The Environment Canada plan includes plans for the federal-provincial fund, addresses the consumer-related issues such as regulations on vehicles, education and information, outlines industry innovation proposals and looks at the process of adaptation to climate change, sources said.




10 years in the battle against climate change (National Post, 020829)


1992 The United Nations Framework on Climate Change is created. Also known as the Rio Convention, it called for the world to stabilize greenhouse-gas emissions by 2000. The agreement, signed by more than 180 countries including Canada and the United States, took effect in 1994. But it called only for voluntary measures to reduce industrial country emissions by 2000 to 1990 levels. The measures did not work. Global emissions rose 10% in that span. Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions are 19.6% higher today than in 1990.


1995 The countries that ratified the Rio Convention start to hold a Conference of Parties each year. Commonly known as COP 1, the first meeting took place in Berlin, Germany.


1996 COP II takes place in Geneva, Switzerland.


DECEMBER, 1997 The third meeting in Japan establishes the Kyoto Protocol to set legally binding targets for industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emission. Canada’s target is to lower emissions so that the yearly average between 2008 and 2012 will be 6% below what it was in 1990. The federal government estimates that if no action were taken in Canada to address climate change, emissions would be about 33% greater than they were in 1990. The cost of implementing Kyoto has been estimated at about $20-billion. The protocol will only become legally binding when it is ratified by at least 55 countries, covering at least 55% of emissions from industrialized countries.


NOVEMBER, 2000 At the sixth meeting, ministers and delegates from 180 governments meet at the Hague attempting to finalize a framework for countries to meet their Kyoto targets. That attempt did not succeed and COP 6 breaks up, suspending its work.


MARCH, 2001 U.S. President George W. Bush announces his government will not ratify Kyoto, calling it economically irresponsible.


APRIL, 2001 The federal government conducts an internal poll, finding most Canadians are not very concerned about global warming and many a lack a solid grasp of the problem. Only 7% of Canadians mentioned greenhouse-gas emission, global warming or climate change as the most important environmental issue.


JULY, 2001 Due to the failure of COP 6, governments decide to hold two meetings in 2001 because the mechanism for implementing Kyoto is still unclear. Leading up to the seventh meeting in Bonn, Germany, it appeared Canada would follow the United States and withdraw. However, at the meeting, Canada joins the European Union and more than 170 countries in giving life to the Kyoto Protocol, committing to ratify the global-warming treaty possibly by 2002. Canada is successful in getting credits for green space, called “carbon sinks,” it can use to meet its emissions targets. According to the plan, Canada wins points for the way forests and agriculture absorb greenhouse gases. The trade-off was there would be penalties for non-compliance with the treaty.


NOVEMBER, 2001 At a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, Canada pushes for more credits, this time for clean-energy exports to the United States, as well additional points for carbon sinks. David Anderson, Canada’s Environment Minister, says it is waiting for the United States to establish an environmental policy before deciding whether to ratify the protocol.


FEB. 14, 2002 U.S. President Bush releases Clean Skies initiative, proposing 60% reductions in sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. The plan also introduces restrictions on mercury emissions linked to birth defects. The initiative is expected to reduce acid rain and air pollution. Regarding greenhouse-gas emissions, the United States would link the amount of reduction directly to its gross domestic product (GDP). Under the proposed plan, the United States will produce an estimated 183 tonnes of emissions per million dollars of GDP in 2002. This would drop to 151 tonnes per million dollars of GDP by 2012.


FEB. 21, 2002 The government of Alberta releases a study showing ratification of the Kyoto Protocol could cost Canadians anywhere between $23-billion and $40-billion a year.


APRIL, 2002 At a meeting of environmental ministers in April, the European Union angrily tells Canada to stop asking for more lenient treatment.


MAY, 2002 At meetings with EU leaders in Spain, Prime Minister Jean ChrÈtien argues Canada should get credits for the clean energy, such as natural gas and hydroelectricity, that it exports to the United States. Mr. ChrÈtien says Canada will not ratify the protocol if these issues are not clarified.


AUGUST, 2002 On the closing day of the premiers conference, Alberta’s Ralph Klein spars with Manitoba’s Gary Doer. Mr. Klein says signing Kyoto could make Alberta a have-not province, bringing down the rest of Canada. Western premiers, except Mr. Doer, support Mr. Klein. Quebec and the Atlantic provinces support ratification, with Quebec’s support the most enthusiastic. Ontario is undecided.




In Johannesburg, activists sow false fears (National Post, 020828)


Six thousand journalists are in Johannesburg to cover the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The BBC team alone is rumored to number at least 100. Never have so many traveled so far to report so little: The meeting will likely produce nothing except the same tiresome effusion of anti-Western rhetoric we heard from last year’s “World Conference Against Racism” in Durban. Already, both South African President Thabo Mbeki and the summit’s secretary-general have accused Western leaders of presiding over a system of “global apartheid.” Not to be outdone, Friends of the Earth International declared Canada, the United States and Australia to be part of an “axis of environmental evil.”


Newspapers, naturally, splashed these charges across their front pages. This is, after all, the narrative readers have come to expect since the disastrous 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle: North versus South, rich versus poor, black versus white, people versus profits. In fact, most observers seem to find the rational discourse that goes on among government officials a tedious distraction from the real business of slamming whitey. To quote a CBC Newsworld host covering this year’s G8 summit in Kananaskis, Alta.: “If there’s a protest anywhere across the country, we’ll be covering it, throughout the day.”


This preoccupation with class warfare is not only shallow, it is deceptive. The majority of ordinary people in the Third World want nothing to do with the anti-Western agenda that dominates the “sustainable development” movement. Whenever a sweatshop is closed, well-fed graduate students at Berkeley send up a rousing cheer. But the poor workers who get thrown out of their jobs find little reason to celebrate. Africans desperately want more trade opportunities and incoming investment -- and have sensibly used the current summit as a platform to demand that Western nations cut back on their farm subsidies. Yet most NGOs see corporate involvement as anathema to eco-acceptable development. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, who is in Johannesburg to lead protests, insists “the Canadian delegation should be rejecting the corporate brainwashing that is happening here.” Tragically, some African leaders are listening to her message. Even as three-million people in Zambia face the risk of starvation, that country’s government is rejecting donations of perfectly safe genetically modified food -- in deference to the Council of Canadians’ false warning that GM technology is “imprecise and very unpredictable.”


What is at the root of this perverse campaign? Why do Western activists fly halfway around the world to prevent the world’s poor from building a better life with the same tools -- technology and capitalism -- that are the source of our own wealth? Mr. Mbeki’s accusation of “global apartheid” gives us a clue. Opposition to colonialism and its alleged modern reincarnations is a bedrock component of the modern Western worldview. Thus do our universities pump out a steady stream of activists who see neo-colonial plots meant to perpetuate racial disparities behind every Western initiative, trade deal and investment in the Third World.


The bias affects the news coverage we see. If a Third World mob burns down a Pizza Hut or some other corporate American consulate, you can bet CNN will be there within minutes. But how many Western media outlets covered the recent Jamaican poll in which more than half the people said they’d be better off if they were still under British rule? And how many readers know anything about the tiny force of British marines and paratroopers who occupied Sierra Leone’s capital two years ago, took control of the country’s military and saved the nation from a band of deranged rebels? I don’t hear anyone in East Timor complaining about neo-colonialism -- even though the West has run the place since the Indonesians left in 1999. Nor do most Afghans seem upset that their president is now being protected by U.S. bodyguards.


Of course, Noam Chomsky and his acolytes have lots of theories that ascribe sinister motives to every strand of Western foreign policy. But most of these theories date to the Ronald Reagan era and have little applicability to the post-Cold War period. We know why the United States invaded Grenada. But what kind of ulterior motive did the West have in Sierra Leone? And why is it we care about building a democratic Afghanistan? If not out of concern for the locals’ welfare, why not just hand the keys to a friendly warlord and fund him to the gills providing he wiped out al Qaeda? And then there’s Zambia. Why, absent humanitarian motives, would we send food (of any variety) to a country 99% of us couldn’t place on a map?


The Western do-gooders who would like to keep Africans hoeing organic maize in their ancestral villages should wake up. We have come a long way since the days of King Leopold’s Belgian Congo. It is not “global apartheid” or corporate “neo-colonialism” that is the greatest threat to Third World development, but rather the risk of economic stagnation, a risk that is only compounded by the interhemispheric suspicion stoked by the West’s activist class.




No hesitation but plenty of deviation (London Times, 020903)


From Anthony Browne in Johannesburg


IF YOU ever wanted to learn all that is wrong with the world and all the ways to put it right, the plenary hall of Standton Convention Centre in Johannesburg was the place to be yesterday.


The greatest number of world leaders ever to give a speech in one day under one roof kicked off the formal start of the Earth Summit, aimed at nothing less than ending world poverty and saving nature.


One after another for 11 hours, a procession of more than 70 world leaders ascended the podium to share their wisdom with one another, and let the rest of us listen in. Which is just as well, because it seemed that few were listening to each other. One after another, democrats and dictators, thugs and bishops, dressed in suits and flowing robes, were introduced with flowery language, and marched up to the lectern by the chief of protocol in a smart military uniform.


From the leaders of Britain and Japan, to those of Monaco and Vanuatu (population 10,000), the mighty and the modest were for once all equal: the leaders of nations were all limited to five minutes.


“A yellow warning light will alert you after three minutes and a red flashing light and warning tone will indicate the five-minute time limit has elapsed,” Thabo Mbeki, the President of South Africa and master of ceremonies, said. In case world leaders got ideas above their station, Mr Mbeki added, while wagging his finger: “And I have a button here that turns the microphone off!”


It was Mr Mbeki himself who gave the first speech, noting the woes of the world the poverty, the destruction of nature and wondered how it had all gone wrong. “What are the answers to all these questions and others? Who and what is to blame? What shall we do? What shall we do?” Luckily, everyone else had an answer.


For His Excellency Hugo Chávez, the new President of the Bolívarian Republic of Venezuela, a romantic modern-day Che Guevara, it was capitalism itself that was the root of the world’s problems. “Neoliberalism is responsible for the disasters of the world. We have to confront the elites that destroyed a large part of the world,” he said. Indeed, the rich nations did not have too many friends.


In a podium-thumping performance, His Excellency Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, laid into the International Monetary Fund and imperialism before demanding: “Blair, keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe!” The press room echoed with cheers from the assembled African journalists. So irritated was Mr Blair by a two-pronged attack from both Mr Mugabe and President Nujoma of Namibia that he left the official dinner an hour early.


His Excellency the Honourable Saufatu Sopoanga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, told how his country was being annihilated by rising sea levels, and said: “We are being submerged because of the selfishness and greed of the industrialised world. When are the leaders of the industrial world going to take the moral high ground?” His Excellency Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, had a simple solution: “We need thorough redistribution of existing wealth not the creation of new wealth, but the redistribution of current wealth.” The West did not quite share this analysis.


His Excellency the Honourable Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire Prime Minister of Italy who is often accused of corruption, and the leader of a country where governments rarely last more than a year, told the developing nations: “We are firmly convinced sustainable development requires effective and transparent governmental mechanisms.”


His Excellency Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark, insisted what was needed was more not less: “We must make globalisation a positive force for all. Free trade and increased market access to all nations in the world is key.” Others used the occasion to pat themselves on the back.


“We have already succeeded in cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 19 per cent,” boasted His Excellency Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor. Others were far more downbeat. His Excellency Dr Bakili Muluzi, President of Malawi, gave the gloomiest self-assessment of all: “Malawi is one of the least developed country’s in the world. Forest cover has declined by fifty per cent in the last 20 years. Three million people in my country face poverty.”


Her Excellency the Right Honourable Helen Clark of New Zealand, ticked off those commentators who had written off the summit as a load of hot air: “Summits of this size inevitably generate cynicism.” But you didn’t have to leave the room for the cynicism.

Polite applause was given to all, but it was three children who stole the show with their demands that adults ensure they grow up in a world worth living in. Mingyu Liao from China, Justin Friesen from Canada and Analiz Vergara from Ecuador, said: “We need more than applause and comments of ‘well done’ or ‘good speech’. We need ACTION!”




Unsustainable: It’s the third world, not the West (National Review Online, 020828)


By Jerry Taylor


As the U.N.’s “World Summit for Sustainable Development” got under way this week in Johannesburg, South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki welcomed the 12,600 attendees with the warning that “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are creating an environmental disaster that threatens both life in general, and human life in particular.” The root of the problem, according to Mbeki, is that the international economic order is “constructed on the basis of a savage principle of survival of the fittest.” And thus, the U.N. conference got off on a predictably wrong foot.


First, blaming Western industrialized nations for producing and consuming too much is misguided. If the West didn’t produce as much as it does, standards of living in countries like South Africa would be lower than they are today. If the West didn’t consume as much as it did, we’d join those countries in their pool of human misery. Nobody in the United States has to apologize for living in nice houses, eating well, investing in education, spending money on health care, or enjoying life. Despite what the U.N. would have us believe, those things did not come at the expense of the third world or the global environment.


Tropical rainforest deforestation, for instance, has little to do with Western consumption. Less than ten percent of the harvested timber is exported. Most of that wood is burned for fuel, and most of the cutting takes place to clear the way for third-world farmers who lack the capital to increase yields in any other way save for putting more land under the till. Third-world poverty — not Western affluence — is the problem.


Pollution, moreover, is likewise primarily a problem in the developing — not the developed — world. As anyone who’s traveled can attest, air and water quality in the West is far better than it is in countries like South Africa and continues to improve at jaw-dropping rates. Western nations aren’t the ones exporting “brown clouds” to the Third World. It’s the Third World that’s exporting brown clouds to the rest of us.


President Mbeki ignores the fact that the West doesn’t simply consume natural resources. It also creates them. Natural resources are simply that subset of the earth’s “stuff” that we can harness profitably for human benefit. As knowledge and technology expands, our ability to harness new and different sorts of inert matter for human use expands along with it. It’s the only way to square the fact that — no matter how you measure the availability of fossil fuels, minerals, or foodstuffs — they’re becoming relatively more abundant, not scarcer, even in the face of growing consumption.


Second, Mbeki’s slur against Western capitalism as a “primitive” and “self-destructive” ethos of “survival of the fittest” is insipid. First, the lesson of the 20th century is that no other economic system is as capable of producing wealth and bettering the lot of mankind than capitalism, a fact that should be clear to president Mbeki of all people.


Third, virtually every serious analyst is now well aware of the link between economic growth and environmental quality. Once per capita income reaches a certain point (somewhere between $2,500 and $9,000, dependent upon the pollutant), ambient concentrations of air and water pollution begin to decline in real terms. Analysts have also found a link between poverty and deforestation, between poverty and land degradation, and between poverty and environmental-health threats.


That latter point deserves more attention. Approximately two million people across the third world die every year because they rely upon dung and kerosene to heat their homes and cook their food, a practice that generates deadly amounts of indoor air pollutants. Another three million people a year die in Africa alone because they rely on lakes and rivers for drinking water that has been contaminated by untreated sewage and other wastes. Yet both electrification and water treatment requires capital investment that the third world can’t afford because, well, they’re more interested in redistributing wealth to fight “jungle capitalism” and following every trendy environmental fad that crosses their path than in promoting the economic freedoms and private-property rights necessary to facilitate economic growth.


Unfortunately, President Mbeki and most of the rest of the attendees are largely interested in getting a handout from the West. And they believe that guilt-tripping Europeans and Americans for their excessive consumption and economic success is the way to get it. Other attendees see the conference as yet another front in their war against economic liberalism. To the extent that either party succeeds, sustainable development will be hobbled, not helped, by the Johannesburg conference.


— Jerry Taylor is director of natural-resource studies at the Cato Institute.




Taking Environmentalists Seriously: Risks (National Review Online, 021115)


By Jerry Taylor & Peter VanDoren


What if we were to discover tomorrow that a dangerous environmental pollutant was lurking about that was capable of killing millions with little warning and at a moment’s notice? What if the best experts were divided about the risk-some saying it posed a 1-in-5 chance of triggering such a calamity while others argued that the chances are more like 1-in-500? What if some argued that the risk was immediate while others contended that, for various reasons, the risk wouldn’t present itself for at least a few years? And what if some worried that the cost of doing something about this pollutant could perhaps prove more costly than leaving the threat unattended, while others argued that this end of the calculation was highly uncertain and that the risks of acting ranged from great to negligible?


Would environmentalists argue that we need to learn more about this risk before acting? Almost certainly not. It’s safe to say that environmentalists would argue that “the precautionary principle” demands that, in the face of uncertainty, we assume the worst about this threat.


Environmentalists have, after all, vigorously crusaded against environmental health risks that range as high as 1-in-1-million and have been willing to spend several billions of dollars to save one statistical life. They have, moreover, militantly opposed any requirement that environmental risk reduction efforts be subjected to cost-benefit or risk-risk analyses. So it’s probably safe to say that the Greens would launch the political equivalent of a holy war against this environmental pollutant.


Would they be right to do so? Well, substitute the phrase “environmental pollutant” with the phrase “Saddam Hussein” and you’ve actually got a reasonably fair depiction of the debate about whether the United States should preemptively strike Iraq to prevent chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons from falling into al Qaeda’s hands.


Risk is risk. Whether we’re talking about the risk of global warming or the risk of being subject to a nuclear attack, the fundamentals about how we should think about risk and how we should go about dealing with it shouldn’t vary based upon the particular risk at hand. If we are to take Greens seriously about how we should approach risk in the environmental arena, why shouldn’t we use their decision-making template when confronting other sorts of risks?


It’s worth noting, however, that absolutely nobody engaged in the debate about war with Iraq — even the environmentalists! — would dream of applying the environmentalists’ approach to risk assessment. Hawks and doves both accept that there are great uncertainties; that risks abound both in action and inaction; and that not undertaking cost-benefit and/or “risk-risk” tests would be madness. The “precautionary principle” could cut either way and is accordingly useless.


Why do we think one way about environmental risks but another about public risks in other contexts? Or to put it another way, why do some of us have far greater tolerances for some risks (like getting nuked by bin Laden because he got the bomb from Saddam Hussein) but not for others (like getting cancer from PCBs because you ate too many fish from the Hudson)?


For no reason that we can see. The science behind many of the environmental risks we worry about, after all, is no more certain than the geopolitical calculations used to justify war or peace. The cost-benefit calculations are just as tough.


This isn’t to say that we should or should not launch a war against Iraq. It is to say, however, that the decision-framework employed by environmentalists would look absurd in any other policy context if it were stripped of its emotional baggage. To focus only on the benefits of action rather than on both the costs and benefits of action, as well as inaction, is logically indefensible whether we’re talking about our war against terrorism or our war against pollution.


— Jerry Taylor is director of environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Peter VanDoren is editor of Regulation, The Cato Review of Business and Government.




Time to throw out ‘myth’ of recycling (London Daily Telegraph, 030304)


LONDON — Throw away the green and blue bags and forget those trips to return bottles — recycling household waste is a load of, well, rubbish, say leading environmentalists and waste campaigners.


In a reversal of decades-old wisdom, they argue that burning cardboard, plastics and food leftovers is better for the environment and the economy than recycling.


They dismiss household trash separation — a practice encouraged by the green lobby — as a waste of time and money.


The assertions, likely to horrify many environmentalists, are made by five campaigners from Sweden, a country renowned for its concern for the environment and advanced approach to waste.


They include Valfrid Paulsson, a former director-general of the government’s environmental protection agency; Soren Norrby, the former campaign manager for Keep Sweden Tidy, and the former managing directors of three waste-collection companies.


The Swedes’ views are shared by many British local authorities, who have drawn up plans to build up to 50 incinerators in an attempt to tackle a growing waste mountain and cut the amount of garbage going to landfills.


“For years, recycling has been held up as the best way to deal with waste. It’s time that myth was exploded,” said one deputy council leader in southern England.


A spokesman for East Sussex County Council, which plans to build an incinerator, said, “It’s idealistic to think that everything can be recycled. It’s just not possible. Incineration has an important role to play.”


The Swedish group said that the “vision of a recycling market booming by 2010 was a dream 40 years ago and is still just a dream.”


The use of incineration to burn household waste — including packaging and food — “is best for the environment, the economy and the management of natural resources,” they wrote in an article for the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.


Technological improvements have made incineration cleaner, the article said, and the process could be used to generate electricity, cutting dependency on oil.


Mr. Paulsson and his co-campaigners said that collecting household cartons was “very unprofitable.”


Recycled bottles cost glass companies twice as much as the raw materials, and recycling plastics was uneconomical, they said. “Plastics are made from oil and can quite simply be incinerated.”


The Swedes stressed that the collection of dangerous waste, such as batteries, electrical appliances, medicines, paint and chemicals “must be further improved.”


They added, “Protection of the environment can mean economic sacrifices, but to maintain the credibility of environmental politics the environmental gains must be worth the sacrifice.”


The Environmental Services Association, representing the British waste industry, agreed that the benefits of incineration had been largely ignored.


Andrew Ainsworth, its senior policy executive, said, “This is a debate that we need to have in this country. Recycled products have got to compete in a global market, and sometimes recycling will not be economically viable or environmentally sustainable.”


A spokesman for the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said incineration was “way down the list” because “it causes dangerous emissions, raises public concern and sends out a negative message about reuse.”




Three Plead Guilty to Ecoterror Crimes (Foxnews, 040112)


RICHMOND, Va. — Three young men pleaded guilty to vandalizing more than 25 sport utility vehicles, construction equipment and building sites on behalf of a radical environmental group.


The three, who were in high school at the time of the attacks in the Richmond suburbs in 2002, face up to five years in prison at sentencing in April. Under the plea agreement announced Monday, they must also repay more than $200,000.


The three were affiliated with the group Earth Liberation Front.


Adam Blackwell, 20, and Aaron Linas and John Wade, both 18, vandalized construction equipment being used to build a mall, defaced 25 SUVs at a car dealership and several more vehicles at homes, and defaced three fast-food restaurants, prosecutors said.


They scrawled graffiti and left notes that accused the victims of harming the environment and contributing to suburban sprawl.




Celebrate Earth Day! Today’s no time for gloom and doom (National Review Online, 040422)


Once again Earth Day has come around, traditionally a day of baleful prophecies. A better Earth Day activity would be review of the actual environmental record, which will lead to more upbeat activities.


Consider first the state of the air. As reported by the Environmental Protection Agency, aggregate emissions of air pollutants have declined 25% since 1970, notwithstanding increases of 40% in population, 43% in energy use, and 165% in real GDP.


Average vehicle emissions are declining ten percent per year. Since 1988 the annual number of days in the U.S. with adverse air-quality indices has declined by about 70%. Since 1976 concentrations of the six central air pollutants have declined between 28 and 98%.


Between 1993 and 2002, the percentage of the U.S. population served by community water systems reporting no violations of health standards has increased from 79% to 94%. The way we collect information on water conditions could be improved, but by current accounting the improvements are significant, welcome, and at odds with media reports that still tend toward the sensational.


Since 1988 toxic releases have declined 55% even as output from the relevant industries has increased 40%. Dioxin emissions have declined 92% since 1987. Annual wetland losses have declined 80% over the last three decades.


These figures, one must repeat, are not any kind of utopian wish list. They represent actual conditions, as reported by government agencies and assembled in the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators 2004, co-published by the Pacific Research Institute and American Enterprise Institute.


This annual report shows that environmental quality is improving steadily and virtually across the board — with public lands as the exception. Private groups, as this year’s Index shows, are doing a good job protecting wildlife and preserving habitat. While the overall improvements will come as news to many, none of it should be surprising.


As the late Aaron Wildavsky noted, wealthier is healthier. Individuals and societies rationally opt for greater levels of environmental quality as individual and aggregate wealth grows. It is the affluent society that does not want to be the effluent society.


It would be amazing if an increasingly wealthy and technologically advanced society failed to engender economic and political processes yielding constantly improving environmental conditions over time.


At the same time environmental quality itself is a very real form of wealth. But it is not the only form, and environmental policy always must remain cognizant of both the benefits and the costs of environmental improvement. Both the benefits and costs can be explicit and subtle.


On one hand there are cleaner air and water and improved labor productivity. On the one hand, environmental spending and the erosion of private property rights. For some, no benefit is too small to justify any given cost, regardless of magnitude. Indeed, on the fringes, actual environmental degradation is worth the acquisition of increased political power.


Draconian regulation and infringement of property rights are often sought for the benefit of “the children.” But the children’s prospects of a long and healthy life have seldom been better. The interest of future generations is served by the inheritance of the largest possible stock of capital, including technology levels, of which the environment itself is but one important component among many.


Based on the actual facts, Earth Day is a good time to shunt aside the standard environmental doom-and-gloom, the scare tactics, and the politicized fear-mongering. Earth Day is a time to rejoice in our society’s great wealth. It should be a day to celebrate, not lament, the institutions that reward productivity and investment.


Balancing conflicting goals is not a bad definition of life. On Earth Day we can also celebrate the good sense of nation’s people in assigning high value to environmental improvement.


— Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO of the California-based Pacific Research Institute.




Arson cited as cause of fires (Washington Times, 041208)


INDIAN HEAD, Md. — Authorities yesterday confirmed that as many as seven houses were deliberately set ablaze Monday in a newly constructed upscale subdivision here, as more than 100 investigators sifted through the ashes of the largest arson case in Maryland history.


Investigators have not ruled out ecoterrorism, or any other motive, as the cause behind the fires that destroyed at least 10 houses at Hunters Brooke, off Route 225 in Charles County, a fire official said yesterday. The development had been opposed by environmentalists for years because it is near a magnolia bog they said would be polluted by the project.


“We have not been able to establish at this point any motive,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor.


FBI spokesman Barry Maddox said the agency was not aware of any groups taking credit for the fires. He also said he was not aware of any recent activity locally by radical environmental groups, such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).


“All of these groups, we are aware of them. We will conduct a logical investigation,” Mr. Maddox said. But, he said, ELF was “not something we are focusing on.”


Marshal Ames, vice president of investor relations for Lennar Corp., which was building the development, said he was outraged by the possibility that the fires might have been set as an act of protest. Damage was estimated at at least $10 million, a figure authorities expect to rise.


“If someone is unhappy that this area has been approved for homeowning, threatening lives and damaging property is the wrong way to disagree,” he said in a telephone interview from the company headquarters in Miami yesterday.


He said the fires will not stop the development from moving forward.


“It will be built. There is insurance coverage for this type of damage,” he said.


The houses were priced at from $400,000 to $500,000.


Last night, WRC-TV (Channel 4) reported that police were looking for the driver of a blue van seen leaving the neighborhood.


Mr. Ames said the fires have upset some prospective buyers, some of whom were days away from closing on their new houses in the development.


“A number of people have had their lives terribly disrupted,” he said. “Many of these families have already sold their existing homes, made moving plans and made significant financial commitments.”


Mr. Ames said he didn’t know how many buyers were affected by the fires. Authorities have not allowed Lennar officials access to the site and provided limited information about the extent of the damage to each house.


Authorities yesterday allowed several families to return to their homes, which were some distance from the crime scene, Marshal Taylor said. One family was not allowed to return to its home because it is located within the 10-acre crime scene.


The number of investigators more than tripled yesterday, growing from about 30 on Monday to more than 100. Local, state and federal agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are investigating the blazes, which also damaged at least 16 houses. Fire officials originally reported that 29 houses were damaged, but lowered that figure yesterday.


Investigators are trying to determine where each of the fires was ignited and whether there were unsuccessful attempts to set fires. Investigators late Monday recovered some evidence, which was taken to the ATF laboratory in Ammendale, Md., ATF Special Agent Mike Campbell said.


“This is one of the largest [crime scenes] areawise that our National Response Team has investigated,” Mr. Campbell said. “You’ve got houses in various stages of construction and various stages of fire damage. It’s a unique scene.”


Since 1997, ELF has taken responsibility for more than 40 acts of arson or property destruction costing more than $100 million nationwide. A spokesman for ELF did not respond to e-mails sent by The Washington Times yesterday and on Monday.


Yesterday, investigators inspected the damaged houses, each situated on a quarter-acre lot. They also conducted interviews with residents and business owners in the community, Marshal Taylor said.


Chemists and engineers are also among the investigators, who are interviewing various persons, including the construction crews, he said.


He said authorities also were conducting interviews with an independent security contractor who was hired by the developer to protect the houses under construction. Several residents said Monday that the security officers had left the area at about 4 a.m. The fires were reported less than an hour later.


“I can’t answer whether they were actually here at the time,” Marshal Taylor said.


Damage was scattered throughout the closely built development. In some cases, houses that were burned nearly to the ground sat next to structures suffering only minimal damage. Some lots were empty; others were just foundations waiting for construction.


Marshal Taylor would not comment on the origin or methods used by the arsonists. “Divulging information compromises an important investigatory tool,” he said.


But he did say that some fires began inside the houses.


“Fires inside some of those houses would not have been readily apparent to firefighters at that time [when they arrived at the scene],” he said.


The Hunters Brooke subdivision was part of a 319-unit development plan to build houses on both sides of the Araby Bog, a wetland area 25 miles south of the District that provides a unique home for plants and animals.


Environmental activists had opposed the development for several years, saying it would pollute the bog and have a negative effect on the Chesapeake Bay.


The posh development also had plenty of other opponents who didn’t agree with the county’s rapid growth in recent years.


“Are some people happy? I’d say so,” said Charles H. Dudley, 81, a lifelong Charles County resident.


His son, Charles W. Dudley, said some resent the influx of newcomers, whom he referred to as “imports.”


“The older residents of Charles County are a little tired of seeing all the imports move in and take over the county,” the younger Mr. Dudley said. “There’s been a tidal wave of imports.”


Scott Grieninger, a 63-year-old owner of an automotive-repair shop called Scooter’s Place not far from Hunters Brooke, said he was among those investigators had interviewed. He said he gave investigators his own arson theory.


“Subcontractors sometimes don’t get paid and they sometimes get tired of waiting for their money, and I’ve seen subcontractors do all kinds of things,” he said.


He said the fires would not have been difficult to start. Inside the houses under construction, workers had left turbo heaters, which are industrial heating fans that run on propane or kerosene. “All you needed was someone who wanted to do it,” he said.


Mike Routt, a 36-year-old mechanic at the shop, said he was among the residents who opposed Hunters Brooke because the area didn’t have the schools or other infrastructure necessary to support new neighbors.


“There were a lot of people ticked off because of it,” he said.


Environmentalists sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers last year, saying the agencies had violated the Clean Water Act by granting permits that allowed construction at the site.


In July, a judge denied a request for an injunction against construction of the development, but ordered the Corps to provide a more thorough explanation of its decision to authorize the sewer line and a road in the subdivision. The Corps filed an appeal of that decision the same day of the ruling.




Suspected Eco-Bomber Arrested (Foxnews, 050210)


SACRAMENTO, Calif — Investigators said Thursday they have made an arrest in one of three recent alleged eco-terror arsons or attempted arsons east of Sacramento.


Ryan D. Lewis, 21, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Newcastle and charged with the Jan. 12 attempted firebombing of a commercial building in the nearby city of Auburn, northeast of Sacramento.


The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office said the arson attempt was believed to have been committed on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy environmental extremist group.


No arrests have been made in a similar attempted firebombing at a subdivision in nearby Lincoln Dec. 27, or in an arson at an apartment complex in Sutter Creek to the south Feb. 7.


The FBI said its Joint Terrorism Task Force is continuing its investigation.


The five incendiary devices found at the Auburn commercial complex matched three devices found in homes in the upscale Lincoln subdivision, the FBI has said.


Letters to several newspapers purporting to be from the Earth Liberation Front said the attempted Lincoln arson was a statement against suburban sprawl, while the Auburn office building was targeted as “a statement against work and the horror of the (cubicle).”


The letters promised more actions “every few weeks.”


None of those devices exploded, but seven crude explosive devices at the Sutter Creek apartment complex caused an early morning blaze. Fire sprinklers helped minimize the damage.


Nearby graffiti asserted that “We will win — ELF,” investigators said.


The FBI says ELF has caused more than $100 million in damage since 1996, including an arson at a five-story condominium under construction in San Diego in August 2003 that caused $50 million in damages.




Environmentalism is dead - Long live environmentalism! (, 050429)


Jonah Goldberg


I was recently invited to speak to C-Fact, a conservative environmentalist group at the University of Minnesota. To some this might sound about as weird as saying I was invited to speak to a group of Socialist Yachtsmen in Monaco. Of course, there are plenty of yachtsmen who are more or less socialists (whether they meet in Monaco, I have no idea - but I will gladly go speak to them there). And, there are conservatives who love the environment - more of them than you might realize. More importantly, young conservatives are willing to fight for the environmentalist label, and that’s a sign of progress.


For decades, a certain type of environmentalist has laid exclusive claim to this set of concerns, terming anyone who disagreed with them as “anti” environment. It was a twist on the “for the children” gambit devised by Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. She discovered that you can push favored policies farther if you claim they are “for the children.” Thanks to this insight, the same old tired suite of Fabian programs were recast as efforts “for the children,” and anybody who opposed them became, in effect, anti-child.


For years environmentalists have done the same thing with their favored policies. Even though recycling is often a monstrous waste of time, energy and money, the Greens have insisted that if you don’t separate your plastic from your paper you are “against” the environment.


The truth is that nobody is anti-environment. I have lots and lots of conservative friends and colleagues. I go to many of the most sinister right-wing meetings and parties. I’ve simply never heard anybody say they want to hurt the environment. No matter how many pave-the-planet jokes conservatives tell to annoy liberals, the truth is none of them really wants to. Some may not care that much one way or the other. But if given a cost-free option to maintain clean water, clean air and prospering ecosystems, there’s really not a conservative - with his marbles intact - who wouldn’t leap at it.


In other words, all of the serious arguments are about means, not ends. For decades, Greens have insisted their means - heavy-handed government command and control - were the only way to those ends. Obviously, there are some exceptions: Some organizations have raised money to buy land and then manage it themselves. But at the national level, where impressions are formed, the enviros have become indistinguishable from any other special interest group that wants the government to do their bidding.


Don’t take my word for it - google “The Death of Environmentalism” by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. “We believe,” write these two respected veteran liberal Greens, “that the environmental movement’s foundational concepts, its method for framing legislative proposals, and its very institutions are outmoded. Today environmentalism is just another special interest. Evidence for this can be found in its concepts, its proposals, and its reasoning.”


The author’s remedies aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, but they clearly recognize the political problem their movement faces. For decades, environmentalists have relied on scare tactics and doomsday scenarios that never had any chance of coming true. Does anybody remember Paul Ehrlich’s prediction that 65 million Americans would die of starvation by the early 1980s? If you haven’t checked, obesity is a much bigger problem than starvation.


The future of environmental success is to move away from Romantic gobbledygook about Gaia and semi-pagan mumbo jumbo about communing with nature, and instead to foster a more mature understanding of costs and benefits. The great flaw in conventional environmentalism has always been its view of capitalism and, to a lesser extent, technology as enemies of all things Green. This way of looking at the world comes from the Industrial Revolution, with its belching smokestacks and poisoned air and waterways. It’s no coincidence that the Industrial Revolution gave birth to both Romantic environmentalism and socialism.


It’s also no coincidence that socialism’s environmental track record is a disaster. Which is why governments around the world are crafting environmental policies that “monetize” resources, recognizing that people tend to take care of things they own better than things nobody owns. If a fisherman knows that his competitor will grab any fish he leaves behind, he will in all likelihood grab as many as he can. When everybody subscribes to this “tragedy of the commons” logic, there are no fish left for anybody. That’s one reason why many global fish stocks are in danger of crashing. But if you sell someone exclusive rights to fish in a certain area, he will leave enough fish behind for another day. This is why many governments are moving in the direction of assigning property rights to all sorts of environmental resources, from fisheries to wetlands, with very encouraging results (for an excellent survey of the trend, pick up a copy of the April 23 edition of The Economist).


Obviously, not every problem can be solved through tax credits or property rights, but the exciting solutions these days are coming from the people at least willing to entertain that possibility.




More Good Green News: The Great Lakes and beyond. (National Review Online, 050531)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment Canada are poised to highlight more good news on North America’s environment.


The 2004 Annual Progress Report on the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy, just off the press but, as of this writing, not yet released, documents progress in dealing with a particularly nasty suite of persistent, toxic chemicals which accumulate in the environment with increasing concentration up the food web. These are pollutants of national and international concern, but they have pronounced impacts on the biota and fisheries of the Great Lakes, and the people who rely on them, because of the size of the lakes and the longer residence time of the contaminants in such huge bodies of water.


The strategy was the result of a 1997 agreement between the U.S. and Canada “to virtually eliminate toxic substances from the Great Lakes to meet previous commitments under their Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. As ambitious or foolhardy as this goal may sound, it seems that success is within reach with respect to priority pollutants such as mercury, PCBs, dioxins/furans, and hexachlorobenzene (HCB).


Using “Great Lakes” in the title is some what confusing since the goals for both countries are, for the most part, national in scope. But these waters are major receptors of the pollutants addressed in the Strategy. Many of these pollutants travel great distances in the air. In the case of some, mercury for instance, they cycle about globally. Nevertheless, the 2004 report gives us a snapshot of tremendous progress which extends well beyond just the Great Lakes region.


Of the 17 reduction goals set forth for the top twelve toxic substances (“Level 1”) back in 1997, “ten have been met, three will be met by the target timeline date of 2006, and the remaining four will be well advanced toward meeting the targets by 2006,” states the report.


Regarding mercury, the subject of much debate in Washington these days, the report notes that the U.S. met its national mercury-use reduction goal of 50%, and currently stands at over 50% based on a 1990 baseline. Mercury is now out of batteries, paints, high-school labs, some illuminated tennis shoes, and other products. When was the last time your kids played with elemental mercury in the high-school chemistry lab? Digital thermometers obviate the need for mercury in that high-volume product, too. In the mid-1990s, this writer, on behalf of then Governor John Engler of Michigan, worked with the Big Three auto companies to phase out 9.8 metric tons of mercury going into convenience-light switches under hoods and trunks annually. The chlor-alkali industry accounted for almost 35% of mercury use in 1995, and its total mercury use decreased 76% between 1995 and 2003 (with some plant closures). The fluorescent-lamp industry reported using 6 tons of mercury in 2003, down from 32 tons in 1997.


The Canadians are also making great progress towards a 90-percent reduction goal (based on a 1988) baseline. They are now at 83%.


Keep in mind that these are figures for the deliberate use of mercury, not emissions per se. U.S. mercury emissions decreased approximately 45% between 1990 and 1999, according to the annual report. Significant reductions in emissions from municipal-waste combustors and medical-waste incinerators, by 1999, resulted from regulatory mandates under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The good news is that the U.S. has yet to see the new reductions to be achieved from regulation of the power industry pursuant to the new Clean Air Mercury Rule which will eventually cut those mercury emissions by nearly 70%.


The 2004 report recognizes tremendous progress by the U.S. and Canada in reducing emissions of dioxins and furans. The U.S. projects a 92-percent reduction in nationwide releases of these pollutants by the end of 2004 against a goal of 75% by 2006. Nothing like under promising and over delivering! Canada stands at 84% and expects to meet its 2000 target of 90% by 2005. Again, past regulation of combustion sources has yielded these substantial reductions. When pending regulatory actions are fully implemented, “the largest source in the United States will be household garbage burning,” according to the report.


Think about it: We have done such a great job controlling dioxin emissions from large, industrial sources that we only have backyard burn barrels to go after. Check out


PCBs, second only to mercury as a cause of fish-consumption advisories nationally, is also a top priority of the Binational Toxics Strategy. The goal for high-level PCBs was a 90-percent reduction of use in electrical equipment along with proper management and disposal to prevent accidental releases. PCBs were banned by law many years ago, but they were still in use at the time the strategy was conceived. In the U.S. about 87,000 PCB transformers and 143,000 PCB capacitors were disposed of between the 1994 baseline and the end of 2002. This represents reductions of 43.5% and 10% respectively.


The 2004 Annual Progress Report on the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy is a treasure trove of statistics, graphs, and general information on our sustained, continuing efforts to protect human health and the environment. Executive summary: It’s a greener world than you know.


— G. Tracy Mehan III was assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency and director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, serving in the cabinet of Governor John Engler. Presently, he is a consultant with the Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consulting firm.




God and Man in the Environmental Debate (Christian Post, 051130)


I recently received a letter from a leading botanist at a prominent scientific institution. The letter was mostly agreeable and even complimentary. But near the end, when humanity became the subject, its tone darkened. The scientist said he disagreed with me that human beings were part of the plan, as it were. On the contrary, he complained about “the devastation humans are currently imposing upon our planet”:


Still, adding over seventy million new humans to the planet each year, the future looks pretty bleak to me. Surely, the Black Death was one of the best things that ever happened to Europe: elevating the worth of human labor, reducing environmental degradation, and, rather promptly, producing the Renaissance. From where I sit, Planet Earth could use another major human pandemic, and pronto!


Based on his public writings, I would expect this scientist to be personable and humane. Nevertheless, in his private correspondence, he casually wishes for the deaths of many millions of his fellow human beings. If he were merely offering an eccentric, private opinion, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Unfortunately, his desire is all too common among some self-described “environmentalists.” Our wellbeing, on this view, doesn’t really enter into the calculation. We are, at best, an accident of cosmic history, and at worst, despoilers and destroyers. Adding more humans to the planet, then, is as bad as adding more parasites to an already ailing host.


Again, this would be merely academic, except that such ideas have real world consequences. Every environmental policy implemented by government authority, for instance, stems from someone’s views about the nature of man and man’s place in nature. If those views are anti-human, the policy probably will be anti-human as well. Consider the ban on DDT in the 1970s. The ban, which in hindsight we know was misguided, has resulted in the deaths of more than a million people a year. The vast majority of these deaths have been among the poor in developing countries.


Because environmental policies perpetuate certain notions about the human person, and because these notions have real world consequences, Christians have little choice but to engage the debate over the environment. In particular, we should strongly challenge the misanthropic strain in the modern environmental movement. Human beings aren’t an accident. We are an intended part of God’s good creation. And while God called everything he created “good,” he only called human beings, whom He created in his own image, “very good.”


That doesn’t mean God has given us a free pass to do whatever we want. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that the Earth is the Lord’s, and we are its stewards. We have a delegated responsibility over the Earth, for which we will be held accountable. And Scripture is hardly Pollyannaish about fallen humanity’s destructive tendencies. So we should not be surprised to find that we sometimes abuse our stewardship over nature.


These truths provide a solid theological foundation for addressing environmental concerns while avoiding an anti-human bias. Unfortunately, these truths do not figure prominently in the contemporary debate. In fact, it’s more fashionable to argue—incorrectly—that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the problem, not the solution. Even some Christians who have entered the fray have not been careful to separate the empirical evidence from the doubtful assumptions.


An organization called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance has been launched to help Jews and Christians develop a positive environmental ethic that avoids such pitfalls. Announced this fall at a press conference at the Ugandan embassy in Washington D.C., the ISA is a coalition of individuals and institutions—including the Acton Institute—who share an interest in environmental stewardship. The ISA will focus on issues such as global warming, population, poverty, food, energy, clean water, endangered species, and habitats.


The ISA draws its inspiration from the Cornwall Declaration, published by the Acton Institute in 2000. As theologian Calvin Beisner explains, the Cornwall Declaration describes human beings not merely as consumers and polluters but also as producers and stewards. It challenges the popular assumption that “nature knows best,” or that “the earth, untouched by human hands is the ideal.” And it calls for thoughtful people to distinguish environmental concerns that “are well founded and serious,” from others that “are without foundation or greatly exaggerated.” In other words, it calls for a reasoned, humane environmental ethic. At a time when mistaken policies based on anti-human assumptions can lead to the deaths of millions of people, such an ethic cannot come soon enough.



Jay W. Richards is director of institutional relations at the Acton Institute.




Keeping Our Cool (, 051213)


by Edwin J. Feulner


You can do a lot of things when December rolls around and temperatures plunge. But would you hold an international conference on global warming?


The United Nations did. It recently hosted a gathering of all the countries that have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty aimed at preventing global warming. Some 10,000 people traveled to Montreal for the conference. It was predictably cold outside, but there was plenty of hot rhetoric indoors. Unfortunately for the delegates, the speakers could never quite agree what we’re up against.


While most Kyoto enthusiasts have long argued the planet is getting warmer, a recent report in the journal Nature hints that a new ice age may be on the way. The report says the ocean current that keeps Europe warm may be shifting, which could make the continent cooler.


But no matter what, the worrywarts have the future covered. Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace explained, “Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that’s what we’re dealing with.” No wonder humanity is having trouble addressing the problems — we can’t even decide what the problems are.


However, activists can agree on who’s to blame: The United States, of course.


Another Greenpeace spokesman, Bill Hare, told reporters, “When you walk around the conference hall here, delegates are saying there are lots of issues on the agenda, but there’s only one real problem, and that’s the United States.”


It makes a nice soundbite and certainly plays to the anti-American crowd, but nothing could be further from the truth.


Yes, the U.S. refused to ratify Kyoto. President Clinton never even submitted the treaty to the Senate, perhaps because senators had already voted 95-0 to reject any pact that would reduce economic growth — something Kyoto certainly would do. President Bush eventually put the treaty out of its misery in 2001.


But that hasn’t kept Washington from leading a serious international effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Just last summer, the U.S. announced the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change. This group includes Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States. The State Department says the group will “cooperate on the development, diffusion, deployment and transfer of longer-term transformational energy technologies that will promote economic growth while enabling significant reductions in greenhouse gas intensities.”


That’s critical for two reasons. First, because China and India are among the world’s biggest polluters, any treaty that aims to reduce pollution is going to have to include them. Yet both were exempt from Kyoto.


Second, any attempt to control global warming will fail unless it also encourages global economic growth. As British Prime Minister Tony Blair put it in September, “the blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.”


Most European Union countries that signed the treaty are seeing carbon dioxide emissions increase and realize they have no way to meet their obligations under Kyoto. Some, including host nation Canada, have seen emissions climb more quickly than they are in the United States.


That doesn’t seem to bother some participants. “We need much deeper cuts beyond 2012,” the European Union Commission’s director general for the environment said after the conference wrapped up. But that ignores the fact that most European countries are already failing to live up to Kyoto. How could they make deeper cuts than the ones they’re not making now? Blair’s approach, and the one the U.S. advocates, is the correct one. We can do good by doing well.


A certain amount of humility is in order here. With all our scientific advances, we can barely predict what the weather will be tomorrow, let alone forecast what will happen 50 years from now.


What we do know is that as a country becomes more affluent, it becomes cleaner. So the best way to protect the earth is to skip the big U.N. conferences, which certainly do produce a concentrated mass of hot air, and focus on keeping the global economy hot.


Dr. Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation, a Gold Partner.




Time to Bury Kyoto and Move On (, 051222)


by Michael Fumento


Do you think manmade global warming threatens the planet? Or that it’s little more than an environmentalist sham? Either way it’s time to realize that the celebrated Kyoto Protocol – long touted by the greens as essential to preventing ecological disaster – isn’t just dying, it’s decomposing. It’s time for something new.


The Kyoto Protocol was a 1997 pact to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, or otherwise reduce these gases in the atmosphere. Environmentalists and many scientists say gas-induced warming is already causing a cornucopia of ills including – most recently – polar bears drowning because of melting Arctic ice.


Over 150 nations have now ratified the treaty, but the US became a pariah for refusing to do so as did President Bush by abandoning it altogether.


Turns out, though, there’s little distinction between those who ratified and those who didn’t. Of the original 15 European Union ratifiers of Kyoto, at best four are on course to meet the treaty’s target of an 8% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2008-2012 from the 1990 base-year level.


“The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem,” UK Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted in September.


But this becomes less disappointing once you learn Kyoto’s dirty little secret. Even supporters concede that if all countries complied the amount of warming prevented by 2100 would be at most 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, except that 0.2 degrees is unmeasurable. Certainly it won’t save a single polar bear.


Kyoto’s real purpose was to lead to stricter standards later on, such as at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal this month. But conferees were forced to go home with little more than an agreement to negotiate some more, for essentially the reason Blair gave. It’s silly to plan a Mars landing when your rocket can’t get off the launching pad.


Of course, Europe could continue setting goals and failing to meet them; but the EU is becoming irrelevant anyway. “By 2010, the net reduction in global emissions from Europe meeting the Kyoto Protocol will be only 0.1%,” said Margo Thorning, senior vice president for the free-market American Council for Capital Formation, in recent congressional testimony. That’s “because all the growth is coming in places like India, China and Brazil.”


And bizarrely, while these countries have ratified the treaty they are exempt from its requirements because until fairly recently they weren’t major greenhouse gas producers.


“We need to focus on things like the [Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate], which are driven by long-term strategies to reduce emissions and boost growth,” says Thorning. This is a US-signed pact allowing participants to set goals for reducing emissions individually, but with no enforcement mechanism.


Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and a former US climate negotiator in the Clinton administration, says it can’t work. “If you really want results, you have to do something that’s mandatory,” she told reporters. Right. That’s why those 11 EU nations are falling out of compliance.


That’s also why Kyoto signatory Canada is producing 24% more carbon dioxide than in 1990 while the US is producing only 13% more. None of which prevented Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin from emitting a noxious gaseous emission accusing his southern neighbor of lacking “a global conscience.”


Ultimately Kyoto has no more “teeth” than any voluntary agreement – yet another explanation for why it’s being violated willy-nilly. “It is not that we should take these targets too literally,” as Italy’s economic minister put it.


So if nations refuse to agree to real sanctions, we must offer them constructive approaches that emphasize maximum gain with minimum pain. That’s the purpose of the first meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership in January, at which innovation and technology will take center stage rather than top-down governmental controls.


The conference should call for ramped-up production of nuclear power plants that produce no air emissions of any kind except for steam. It will also probably advocate carbon sequestration, various artificial and natural processes for removing carbon from the biosphere.


But Kyoto? Ah, we hardly knew ye! Not that the effort’s been a total waste. It’s taught us that massive international undertakings require just a bit more than making sanctimonious speeches and signing a sheet of paper.


Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. and a science and health columnist for Scripps Howard News Service.




Greenland’s Ice-Dumping Glaciers Send Sea Levels Skyward (Foxnews, 060216)


ST. LOUIS — Greenland’s southern glaciers have accelerated their march to the Atlantic Ocean over the past decade and now contribute more to the global rise in sea levels than previously estimated, researchers say.


Those faster-moving glaciers, along with increased melting, could account for nearly 17% of the estimated one-tenth of an inch annual rise in global sea levels, or twice what was previously believed, said Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.


An increase in surface air temperatures appears to be causing the glaciers to flow faster, albeit at the still-glacial pace of eight miles to nine miles a year at their fastest clip, and dump increased volumes of ice into the Atlantic.


That stepped-up flow accounted for about two-thirds of the net 54 cubic miles of ice Greenland lost in 2005. That compares with 22 cubic miles in 1996, Rignot said.


Rignot and his study co-author, Pannir Kanagaratnam of the University of Kansas, said their report is the first to include measurements of recent changes in glacier velocity in the estimates of how much ice most of Greenland is losing.


“The behavior of the glaciers that dump ice into the sea is the most important aspect of understanding how an ice sheet will evolve in a changing climate,” Rignot said. “It takes a long time to build and melt an ice sheet, but glaciers can react quickly to temperature changes.”


Details of the study were being presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The study appears Friday in the journal Science.


The researchers believe warmer temperatures boost the amount of melt water that reaches where the glaciers flow over rock. That extra water lubricates the rivers of ice and eases their downhill movement toward the Atlantic. They tracked the speeds of the glaciers from space, using satellite data collected between 1996 and 2005.


If warmer temperatures spread to northern Greenland, the glaciers there too should pick up their pace, Rignot and Kanagaratnam wrote.


The only way to stem the loss of ice would be for Greenland to receive increased amounts of snowfall, according to Julian Dowdeswell of the University of Cambridge, who wrote an accompanying article.




Common Ground on Creation? The E. O. Wilson Interview (Mohler, 061129)


Professor Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University joined me today on The Albert Mohler Program. We discussed his recent book, The Creation: An Appeal to Save the Earth. Dr. Wilson was gracious in our conversation, but he was also clear. He explained his proposal to unite secular scientists with evangelical Christians in an effort to create a new environmentalism.


One central issue became clear in our conversation. Evangelical Christians base a biblical approach to environmentalism on the concept of stewardship. We are concerned for the creation precisely because we know and worship the Creator. We do not worship the creation itself.


Professor Wilson, on the other hand, holds that what he calls “scientific humanism” as the only valid means of knowledge. His “provisional deism” leaves him with nothing greater than the creation itself—which he then capitalizes. This is a radical distinction that leads to inevitable conflicts.


Dr. Wilson described his worldview succinctly in a 1995 article in the Harvard Magazine:


The impact of the theory of evolution by natural selection, nowadays grown very sophisticated (and often referred to as the Modern Synthesis), has been profound. To the extent it can be upheld, and the evidence to date has done so compellingly, we must conclude that life has diversified on Earth autonomously without any kind of external guidance. Evolution in a pure Darwinian world has no goal or purpose: the exclusive driving force is random mutations sorted out by natural selection from one generation to the next.


What then are we to make of the purposes and goals obviously chosen by human beings? They are, in Darwinian interpretation, processes evolved as adaptive devices by an otherwise purposeless natural selection. Evolution by natural selection means, finally, that the essential qualities of the human mind also evolved autonomously. Humanity was thus born of Earth. However elevated in power over the rest of life, however exalted in self-image, we were descended from animals by the same blind force that created those animals, and we remain a member species of this planet’s biosphere.


In that article, Professor Wilson certainly did not call for any joint effort with evangelical Christians. Consider these two paragraphs:


So, will science and religion find common ground, or at least agree to divide the fundamentals into mutually exclusive domains? A great many well-meaning scholars believe that such rapprochement is both possible and desirable. A few disagree, and I am one of them. I think Darwin would have held to the same position. The battle line is, as it has ever been, in biology. The inexorable growth of this science continues to widen, not to close, the tectonic gap between science and faith-based religion.


Rapprochement may be neither possible nor desirable. There is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict. In the early part of this century, the toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view, that humanism based on science is the effective antidote, the light and the way at last placed before us.


Let us note clearly that Dr. Wilson does understand the importance of worldviews. He sees scientific humanism as the “antidote” to what he oddly calls “faith-based religion.”


So, does ground for any common environmental understanding exist? Time will tell, but E. O. Wilson is honest in explaining that, without the involvement of evangelical Christians, his effort is not likely to get very far.




An Inconvenient Economic Truth: Going green comes with costs. (Weekly Standard, 070321)


by Irwin M. Stelzer


AS THEY STRUGGLE to cope with voters’ new concern about global warming, the world’s politicians seem to be standing in front of Snow White’s mirror asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is the greenest of all?” while desperately chanting the Everly Brothers hit, “Let it be me.” Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard opened the bidding by banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs, starting in 2010; Britain’s Tony Blair and Germany’s Angela Merkel are competing for the anti-global warming leadership of Europe, while the British prime minister-to-be entertains Al Gore for what can only be an ample lunch; Tory leader David Cameron is erecting windmills on his house and targeting air travel, with people who fly most often (read: wealth-generating businessmen) to be taxed at the highest rate; California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has converted one of his Hummers to hydrogen and another to biofuel, and says the environmental movement is taking off just like the body-building movement once did; and George W. Bush is lavishing billions of taxpayers’ money on America’s already-cosseted farmers to get them to grow more corn.


All of these plans have two features in common: rationing and new costs. Both Tory and Labour green campaigners favor issuing each of us a certain number of carbon credits, modeled after the ration books of World War II. This rationing of carbon emissions means rationing energy, at least until new technologies emerge, and will involve enforced used of fluorescent light bulbs, or inconvenient switches on television sets, or so low an individual allocation of carbon credits as to curtail travel. Such rationing apparently appeals to left-leaning types. “The current climate crisis gives the Labour party—never comfortable with the politics of post-war affluence—the opportunity to return to the politics of austerity,” writes Professor Mark Roodhouse of the University of York in support of applying to climate change “the Blitz spirit . . . this time to avert catastrophic climate change rather than Nazi invasion.” Show the Left a crisis, and they will show you how to surrender more control of your life to the government.


The second feature of all proposals is that they cost money—to be paid by consumers, taxpayers, and businesses. Some green politicians want to tax energy use, or at least those uses they have decided are not as important as other uses (airplanes seems to be the first thing that comes to politicians’ mind as they jet around the world to conferences aimed at saving the planet). Others want to cap the carbon emissions of various industries, imposing costs that will certainly be reflected either in higher prices or, if the rest of the world doesn’t go along, in jobs lost to international competitors.


Consider the simple matter of incandescent light bulbs, which the European Union wants switched off by 2009, and Australia a year later. (I’ll wager this policy comes to our Congress ere long.) The European Lamp Companies Federation is ecstatic. Its president hailed the move, “These [energy-efficient] bulbs have been on the market for 15 years. Price has been a factor. If the E.U. sets minimum energy-efficiency standards, people will have to buy them.” No surprise that the industry is delighted to have government force people to buy a product consumers don’t want, at prices they consider too high.


All of these costs might be worth bearing if the threat is as immediate and overwhelming as our very own Al Gore and Britain’s Sir Nicholas Stern believe. Fortunately, it is neither—Gore is guessing that sea levels will rise 20 feet, and soon, while scientists are guessing closer to 20 inches, and later. The flaws in the Stern report have been pointed out by serious academics at MIT and elsewhere when Stern recently visited the United States. Stern’s critics, it should be noted, include many scholars and experts who do not oppose emissions-reducing policies as insurance should the forecasts of warming prove correct, and the new technologies now on the drawing boards prove unworkable or uneconomic.


So sensible policymakers will have to ignore the most dire forecasters. And the noisiest. Hollywood stars such as Pierce Brosnan and Martin Sheen, leaders in the fight against global warming, are also leading the campaign against the construction of an offshore terminal that would permit the importation of clean, liquefied natural gas from Australia into California. That $800 million project would supply 15% of California’s massive natural gas requirements.


Powerful American promoters of the virtues of ethanol are fighting to retain the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff that keeps cheaper ethanol from entering U.S. markets. Warned by corn-state congressmen that their constituents were demanding the right to develop a high-cost domestic industry, President Bush was unable to promise the Brazilians that he would roll back that tariff.


Fortunately, lurking in the flurry of political activity are some sensible ideas. It does make sense to put a price on carbon, so that the users of energy bear the costs they are imposing on society. It does make sense to shift the tax burden from growth-stifling income taxes to pollution-creating activities. It does make sense to allow polluters to trade carbon credits internationally so that the cost of reducing emissions can be minimized. It does make sense to consider the costs of any emission-reducing plans. It does make sense to consider the impact of any program on economic growth and jobs—some pollution is worth bearing if it is more than offset by the wealth it creates.


Finally, it does make sense to consider the unintended consequences of legislation. Our policy-makers’ infatuation with corn as a replacement for crude oil has driven corn prices so high that poor Mexicans can’t afford tortillas. It has created such inflated incentives to plant more corn that forests are being chopped down to increase corn plantings and other acreage is being shifted from barley to biofuels, driving up the cost of beer. The new light bulbs will make reading more difficult and drive up demand for spectacles—the cosmetics industry is said to be reformulating foundation makeup so that feminine beauty will shine through the strange hue emitted by the new bulbs. There are more such consequences, but you get the idea: think hard before jumping on the green bandwagon. There is no free ride.


Irwin M. Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, a columnist for the Sunday Times (London), a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.




Consumers in dark over risks of new light bulbs: Push for energy-saving fluorescents ignores mercury disposal hazards (WorldNetDaily, 070416)


WASHINGTON – Brandy Bridges heard the claims of government officials, environmentalists and retailers like Wal-Mart all pushing the idea of replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving and money-saving compact fluorescent lamps.


So, last month, the Prospect, Maine, resident went out and bought two dozen CFLs and began installing them in her home. One broke. A month later, her daughter’s bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb.


With everyone from Al Gore to Wal-Mart to the Environmental Protection Agency promoting CFLs as the greatest thing since, well, the light bulb, consumers have been left in the dark about a problem they will all face eventually – how to get rid of the darn things when they burn out or, worse yet, break.


CFLs are all the rage. They are the spirally shaped, long-lasting bulbs everyone is being urged, cajoled and guilt-tripped into purchasing to replace Thomas Edison’s incandescents, which are being compared to sports utility vehicles for their impracticality and energy inefficiency. However, there is no problem disposing of incandescents when their life is over. You can throw them in the trash can and they won’t hurt the garbage collector. They won’t leech deadly compounds into the air or water. They won’t kill people working in the landfills.


The same cannot be said about the mercury-containing CFLs. They bear disposal warnings on the packaging. But with limited recycling prospects and the problems experienced by Brandy Bridges sure to be repeated millions of times, some think government, the green community and industry are putting the cart before the horse marketing the new technology so ferociously.


Consider her plight.


When the bulb she was installing in a ceiling fixture of her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom crashed to the floor and broke into the shag carpet, she wasn’t sure what to do. Knowing about the danger of mercury, she called Home Depot, the retail outlet that sold her the bulbs.


According to the Ellison American, the store warned her not to vacuum the carpet and directed her to call the poison control hotline in Prospect, Maine. Poison control staffers suggested she call the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.


The latter sent over a specialist to test the air in her house for mercury levels. While the rest of the house was clear, the area of the accident was contaminated above the level considered safe. The specialist warned Bridges not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself – recommending a local environmental cleanup firm.


That company estimated the cleanup cost, conservatively, at $2,000. And, no, her homeowners insurance won’t cover the damage.


Since she could not afford the cleanup, Bridges has been forced to seal off her daughter’s bedroom with plastic to avoid any dust blowing around. Not even the family pets are permitted in to the bedroom. Her daughter is forced to sleep downstairs in an overcrowded household.


She has continued to call public officials for help – her two U.S. senators included. So far, no one is beating down Bridges’ door to help – not even Al Gore, whose Academy Award-winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” urges everyone to change to CFLs to save the planet from global warming.


Bridges is not alone.


Elizabeth Doermann of Vanderbilt, Tenn., had a similar experience. After her CFL bulb broke – because the cat knocked over a lamp – she didn’t call Home Depot. Instead, she did what she had always done when old-fashioned incandescent bulbs had broken. She vacuumed up the mess.


Only then did she learn about the mercury hazard.


“If I had known it had mercury in it, I would have been a lot more careful,” she told the Tennessean. “I wouldn’t have vacuumed it up. That blew the mercury probably all through the house.”


The warnings on the packages of some of the new bulbs are in fine print – hard to read. They are also voluntary, with many bulbs being sold and distributed with no disposal warnings at all.


Charmain Miles of Toronto, Canada, had another frightening experience with a CFL bulb.


Last month she smelled smoke on the second floor of her home, only to discover it was emanating from a new energy-efficient bulb.


“I was horrified,” she told a local TV station. “I went through every place upstairs and took out every bulb.”


The bulb had been placed in a track-lighting fixture. Though the bulb contained no warning about such fixtures, it turns out CFLs are not for use in track, recessed or dimmer fixtures.


And while the Consumers Council of Canada advises not to purchase any package of CFL bulbs that contains no instructions, the entire country is on a timetable to eliminate entirely the only alternative – the incandescent bulb.


In fact, practically the whole world – fearing global warming – is getting ready to ban the incandescent light bulb. It started in Cuba, moved to Venezuela, then Australia, Canada and the European Union. Now individual states in the U.S., including California, Connecticut, North Carolina and Rhode Island, are all in the process of legislating an end to Edison’s greatest invention. Even local towns and cities are getting into the act.


The rap against the incandescent is that it uses more energy to produce light. Advocates of CFLs say they save money and energy by producing more light over more time for less money and less energy. They prefer to minimize concerns about cleanup and disposal, usually saying more needs to be done in the area of recycling.


But recycling experts say the solutions are at least five years away. Meanwhile, millions of consumers and green activists are being persuaded to make the switch.


“EPA currently doesn’t provide a unified message to the public on what to do with fluorescent lamps once they are no longer used,” admits a draft announcing plans for a pilot project by the agency.


Yet, the EPA’s Energy Star program is one of the major forces behind the push for CFLs.


“Currently the need to recycle mercury in fluorescent lamps isn’t mentioned on the Energy Star web page although they are working with the Office of Solid Waste to address this,” the memo continues. “This may create confusion to the public about doing the right thing.”


In fact, even the memo doesn’t advise what the public should do.


No question about it, though. You as a consumer will be required to find certified waste recycling centers to turn in your dead and broken bulbs.


The American Lighting Association has some ideas. It has created a list of five considerations that should be weighed by all legislative bodies considering bans on incandescent bulbs.


The association of American manufacturers and retail outlets suggests any such legislation include the following provisions:


1. a lumen per watt energy efficiency standard should be established rather than a ban on a specific type of product. It should include a 10-year goal


2. halogen bulbs should be exempted


3. incandescent bulbs 40 watts or less should be exempt


4. collection and disposal plans for mercury-based CFLs should be made prior to any ban;


5. persuade consumers through education rather than coerce them through limiting choices


Governments may indeed be promoting a kind of lighting that is itself nearly obsolete. Fluorescent lights are nothing new. They’ve been around for a long time. And while they may save money, some say the public hasn’t chosen them for good reasons – including, but not limited to, the mercury issue.


Some experts predict the next generation of lighting, though, is LED lights. They are made from semiconductor materials that emit light when an electrical current flows through them. When this form of light takes over, all bulbs will be obsolete. Your wall tiles can light up. Curtains and drapes can light up. Even your dining room table could be made to light up – at exactly the level you want.


That’s what is ahead in the next decade, according to some in the industry.


Nobody promoted CFLs as aggressively as IKEA. Not only does the retailer sell them, it also provides one of the very few recycling centers for the burned out bulbs. But even with a plethora of recycling centers, how will the public view the prospect of saving up dead bulbs and transporting them to recycling centers? And how about the danger of breakage in that process?


“The industry is currently aiming at totally mercury-free CFL lighting, but this is still five to 10 years away,” admits IKEA.


Those who really care about this problem right now are those involved in the waste industry.


“Most agree more energy-efficient light bulbs can significantly curb air pollution, but fewer people are talking about how to deal with them at the end of their lives,” explained a page 1 story in the April 2 issue of Waste News. It goes on to explain “there is no plan to address air and water pollution concerns that could develop if consumers improperly dispose of the mercury-containing devices.”




The Truth About “Alternative Energy” (, 071205)


By Roy Innis


Every week brings new claims that clean, free, inexhaustible renewable energy will soon replace the “dirty” fuels that sustain our economy today. A healthy dose of reality is needed.


Over half of our electricity comes from coal. Gas and nuclear generate 36% of our electricity. Barely 1% comes from wind and solar. Coal-generated power typically costs less per kilowatt hour than alternatives – leaving families with more money for food, housing, transportation and healthcare.


By 2020, the United States will need 100,000 megawatts of new electricity, say EIA, industry and utility company analysts. Unreliable wind power simply cannot meet these demands.


Wind farms require subsidies and vast stretches of land. To meet New York City’s electricity needs alone would require blanketing the entire state of Connecticut with towering turbines, according to Rockefeller University Professor Jesse Ausubel. They kill raptors and other birds, and must be backed up by expensive coal or gas power plants that mostly sit idle – but kick in whenever the wind dies down, so factories, schools, offices and homes don’t shut down.


On a scale sufficient to meet the electricity needs of a modern society, wind power is just not sustainable.


For three decades, US demand for natural gas has outpaced production. In fact, gas prices have tripled since 1998, to $13 per thousand cubic feet today, and every $1 increase costs US consumers an additional $22 billion a year.


With Congress and states locking up more gas prospects every year, this trend is likely to continue – further driving up prices and forcing us to import increasing amounts of expensive liquefied natural gas, often from less than friendly nations.


We simply cannot afford to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants, though some are trying to do exactly that.


Chesapeake Energy Corp. masterminded and bankrolled anti-coal initiatives in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. The scheme was intended to drive up the price of natural gas, and thus profits, by making coal less available and more expensive – with little regard for poor families.


As Kansas discovered after its environmental chief blocked a proposed new coal generator, coal projects also come with transmission lines to carry intermittent wind-generated electricity and more reliable coal-generated power. Wind farms typically do not. Now a dozen Kansas wind projects are also on hold.


Former Clinton Administration environment staffer Katy McGinty engineered the lockup of 7 billion tons of low sulfur Utah coal, worth $1 trillion. Current and proposed air and water quality rules would make it even more difficult and expensive to provide adequate coal-fired electricity. But the facts support more coal use, not less.


Power plants fueled by coal are far less polluting than 30 years ago. Just since 1998, their annual sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have declined another 28% and 43% respectively, according to air quality expert Joel Schwartz – and new rules will eliminate most remaining emissions by 2015.


Coal-fired power plants are now the primary source of US mercury emissions only because the major sources (incinerating wastes and processing ores containing mercury) have been eliminated. US mercury emissions are now down 82% since the early 1980s; America accounts for only 2% of all global mercury emissions; 55% of global emissions come from volcanoes, oceans and forest fires; and two-thirds of mercury deposition in America comes from other countries, Schwartz adds. (Compact fluorescent lightbulbs or CFLs could become a more serious potential source of mercury than power plants.) Nevertheless, new EPA rules require a further 70% reduction in mercury from power plants by 2015.


That leaves carbon dioxide and catastrophic climate change as rationales for opposing coal. The latest UN-IPCC report again reduces projections for future temperature increases, polar melting and sea level rise. Moreover, increasing scientific evidence suggests only slight warming, climate change controlled primarily by solar cycles, and no storm, drought or sea level trends that exceed historical experience.


Yet, claims about imminent catastrophes have become increasingly hysterical, as a prelude to international climate negotiations in Bali.


The inconvenient truth is that these climate chaos horror stories are based almost entirely on computer models and digital disaster scenarios. They are no more real than the raptors in “Jurassic Park.”


Nevertheless, politicians are promoting initiatives like the Lieberman-Warner bill and Midwestern Governors Association climate pact, which they say will prevent a cataclysm, by slashing CO2 emissions by 60-80% and generating “thousands of megawatts” from wind energy.


If these initiatives become law, experts say electricity rates would soar another 50% by 2012. Labor unions predict millions of lost jobs, as companies shift operations to foreign countries.


Preeminent alarmists Al Gore and Hillary Clinton emit more CO2 in a week from the private jets they take to campaign, lecture and fund-raising events, than the average American does in a year. And yet they’re demanding a wholesale “transformation” of our economy and living standards.


Mrs. Clinton says she is switching to CFLs, to save a few kilowatts, which brings us full circle on the mercury issue. Mr. Gore justifies his emissions by noting that he gets “carbon offset” indulgences from his company.


China and other rapidly developing countries will build 1,000 new coal plants during the next five years – with few of the pollution controls that we require. That means even major sacrifices by American workers and families won’t affect global temperatures, even if CO2 is the primary cause of global warming – which numerous scientists say is not the case.


We need every energy resource: oil, gas, coal, hydroelectric, nuclear – and wind, solar and geothermal.


We cannot replace 52% of our electricity (the coal-based portion) with technologies that currently provide only 1% of that power (mainly wind). Wind is a supplement, not an alternative.


We cannot generate electricity with hot air from politicians eager to create tax breaks, subsidies and “renewable energy mandates” for companies that produce alternative energy technologies – in exchange for campaign contributions from those companies.


We cannot afford to trash the energy we have, and substitute energy that exists only in campaign speeches and legislative decrees.


Poor and minority families can least afford such “energy policies.”




Fire Ignites ‘Street of Dreams’ Home Development; ELF Sign Left at Scene and Explosives Found (Foxnews, 080303)


WOODINVILLE, Wash. —  Explosive devices were found inside luxury houses set ablaze Monday morning outside of Seattle, and police suspected that a well-known eco-terrorism group ignited the fires.


The multi-million-dollar development known as “Street of Dreams” in Woodinville, Wash., burst into flames in the early morning hours, and Snohomish County crews fought to contain the blaze.


The Earth Liberation Front, known for violent acts in the name of environmentalism, left a sign at the scene and was suspected to have set fire to the swanky, newly built neighborhood.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement saying that the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and local authorities were on-scene of the possible arson.


“This is being investigated as a domestic terrorism act by the Seattle FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, but it is too early in the investigation to make any determination,” the FBI said Monday in a statement.


The houses burned as a federal jury in Tacoma was about to resume deliberations in the case of an alleged ELF activist, Briana Waters. Waters could face at least 35 years if convicted of helping to firebomb the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001.


No injuries were reported in the fires, which began before dawn in the wooded subdivision and were still smoldering by midmorning.


The Snohomish County District Seven Fire Department, which was extinguishing the flames, said Monday that the case had been turned over to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office — which estimated damage at $7 million. In addition to the three homes destroyed, two sustained smoke damage.


Explosive devices were found in the homes, and crews were able to remove them, said Fire Chief Rick Eastman of Snohomish County District 7.


Crews battled fires at four multimillion-dollar model homes in Woodinville, a suburb north of Seattle.


The houses are in a development near the headwaters of Bear Creek, which is home to endangered chinook salmon. Opponents of the development had questioned whether the luxury homes could pollute the creek and an aquifer that is a drinking water source, and whether enough was done to protect nearby wetlands.


The sign found at the scene bore the initials “ELF” — those of the radical environmental group — and mocked claims that the luxury homes were environmentally friendly, according to video images of the sign aired by KING-TV.


“Built Green? Nope black!” the sign said.


The sign, a sheet with red scraggly letters, said “McMansions in RCDs r not green,” a reference to rural cluster developments.


One of the people involved in the project said the homes used “green” techniques such as water-pervious sidewalks, super-insulated walls and windows and products made with recycled materials, such carpet pads. Advertising for last summer’s Street of Dreams show focused on the environmentally friendly aspects of the homes, which were smaller than some of the huge houses featured in years past.


“It’s very disappointing to take a situation where we’re tying to promote good building practices — Built Green practices — and that it’s destroyed,” said Doug Barnes, the Northwest division president of Centex Homes in Kirkland.


The fires started at a strip of unoccupied, furnished luxury model homes where developers show off the latest in high-end housing, interior design and landscaping. The homes are later sold.


The homes that burned were between 4,200 and 4,750 square feet, with prices up to nearly $2 million.


The blazes are suspicious because they were set in multiple places in separate houses, said Eastman — who confirmed that the ELF sign was found at the scene of the fires in the community north of Woodinville, where some homes were still under construction.


The Earth Liberation Front is a loose collection of radical environmentalists known for trying to cause economic damage to companies or organizations that, in its opinion, harm the environment. The group has no organized structure or leadership; typically, autonomous cells of activists take “direct actions” such as arsons and claim responsibility on behalf of ELF.


A woman is currently trial in Tacoma for a suspected ELF fire at the University of Washington in 2001. Briana Waters, a 32-year-old violin teacher, is accused of serving as a lookout while her friends planted a devastating fire bomb.


The fire is one of the most notorious in a string of arsons that investigators say were perpetrated from the mid-1990s to 2001 by ELF.


No one was hurt in the arson at UW, but its Center for Urban Horticulture was destroyed and rebuilt at a cost of $7 million. It was targeted because the ELF activists mistakenly believed researchers there were genetically engineering trees, investigators said.


In 2005, federal authorities charged more than a dozen people involved in an ELF cell known as “the Family” and centered near Olympia, Wash., and Eugene, Ore. The group was responsible for at least 17 fires around the West from 1996 to 2001 — most notoriously, the 1998 destruction of the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado, a fire that caused $12 million in damage.


Waters, a 32-year-old violin teacher from Oakland, Calif., is accused of serving as a lookout while her friends planted a devastating firebomb at the UW’s horticulture center in 2001, causing $7 million in damages. The horticulture center was targeted because the ELF activists mistakenly believed researchers there were genetically engineering trees, investigators said.




Jury Convicts Woman of Arson in Eco-Terror Firebombing at College (Foxnews, 080306)


TACOMA, Washington —  A federal jury Thursday found a woman guilty of two counts of arson for being the lookout in the 2001 burning of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture by members of the radical Earth Liberation Front.


The judge declared the jury deadlocked on three other counts against Briana Waters, including the most significant count, using a destructive device during a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison.


For the arson convictions, Waters, 32, faces 5 to 20 years in prison.


The fire, which destroyed the plant research center, was one of at least 17 fires set by radical activists with the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front from 1996 to 2001.


Waters maintained her innocence on the stand, despite the testimony of two women convicted in the fire and records suggesting she obtained a rental car used in the crime.


Her lawyer, Robert Bloom, insisted during closing arguments that the women, Lacey Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar, lied on the witness stand to frame her and win lighter sentences.


First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett argued that the women had no reason to identify Waters falsely.


Bartlett portrayed Waters as an environmentally concerned student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia who became convinced that “direct action” was the best way to protect the Earth and change corporate behavior. In 1998, The New York Times Magazine quoted her, then a senior, as saying she supported politically motivated arsons as long as no one got hurt.


She was a close friend of William Rodgers, a leader of the arsonist cell who committed suicide after being arrested in the UW fire.


Waters first came to the attention of investigators in early 2006, when Kolar said she had found documents at her home with Waters’ name and remembered that Waters served as a lookout during the arson.


In all, more than a dozen people were arrested in connection with the arsons around the West. Waters was the only one who went to trial rather than plead guilty.


The university rebuilt the horticulture center at a cost of $7 million. It was targeted because the ELF activists mistakenly believed researchers there were genetically engineering poplar trees.


The radical group is suspected in a fire that scorched three model homes in a Seattle suburb earlier this week. A spray-painted sheet found at the scene of the fires bore the initials of the group, and appeared to protest claims the homes were environmentally friendly.




Pop Tarts: Exclusive: Not So Earth-Friendly? Activists Attack Al Gore (Foxnews, 080421)


LOS ANGELES —  Look out, Al Gore ... People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says you are refusing to face one very “inconvenient truth.”


On Monday, the animal rights organization launched the campaign (conveniently timed for Earth Day) in an attempt to counter the effects that they say the former vice president’s meat-laden diet has on Mother Nature.


While reps for Gore had no comment, Pop Tarts confirmed with people who have worked with the ex-veep that he loves his steak and sausage, plus he was notorious for chowing down on the almost all-meat Atkins diet during his run for president.


A recent report published by the United Nations determined that raising animals for food generates about 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, ships and planes in the world combined.


“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” said Henning Steinfeld, chief of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Livestock Information and Policy branch and senior author of the report. “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”


So while Gore is known worldwide for his environmental activism and efforts to build awareness about global warming, is our steak-lovin’ “Earth Day” man a hypocrite? PETA certainly seems to think so.


The campaign encourages people to go vegetarian for 30 days and claims that that is enough time to prevent the release of more than 270 pounds of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere. Studies suggest that this will prevent more pollution than if a person left his or her car at home every weekday for 30 days.


Speaking of which, researchers at the University of Chicago also found that converting to a vegan diet is about 50% more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to Tinseltown’s fave Toyota: the Prius.


“Americans now eat 1 million birds an hour, and yet Mr. Gore has not mentioned the fact that poultry production is a huge problem — one reason we have him holding a drumstick in our ad asking him if he’s ‘too chicken to go vegetarian,’” said Ingrid E. Newkirk, the president of PETA.


“Given the fact that vegetarians are on average much slimmer than meat-eaters, Mr. Gore doesn’t even remotely look as if he is fond of vegetables, grains and fruit,” she said. Ouch!




A New Environmentalism (, 080424)


By Victor Davis Hanson


Tuesday was Earth Day, and it reminded us how environmentalism has helped to preserve the natural habitat of the United States — reducing the manmade pollution of our soils, air and water that is a byproduct of comfortable modern industrial life.


But now we are in a new phase of global environmental challenges, as billions of people across an interconnected and resource-scarce world seek an affluent lifestyle once confined to Europe and the U.S.


No longer are the old environmental questions of pollution versus conservation so simply framed. Instead, the choices facing us, at least for the next few decades, are not between bad and good, but between bad and far worse — and involve wider questions of global security, fairness and growing scarcity.


One example of where these diverse and often complex concerns meet is the debate over transportation. Until hydrogen fuel cells or electric batteries can power cars economically and safely, we will still be reliant on gasoline or similar combustible fuels. But none of our current ways in which we address the problem of transportation fuel are without some sort of danger.


We can, for example, keep importing a growing share of our petroleum needs. That will ensure the global oil supply remains tight and expensive. Less-developed, authoritarian countries like Russia, Sudan and Venezuela will welcome the financial windfall, and keep polluting their tundra, coasts, deserts and lakes to pump as much as they can.


Rising world oil prices ensure that Vladimir Putin, or his handpicked successor, can continue to bully Europe; that Hugo Chavez can intimidate his neighbors; that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can promise Israel’s destruction; and that al-Qaida and its affiliates can be funded by sympathetic Middle East sheiks. Such regional strongmen and terrorists cease being mere thugs and evolve into strategic threats once they have billions of petrodollars.


The U.S., in taking advantage of a cheap dollar, may set records in exporting American goods and services this year. But we will still end up with massive trade deficits, given that we are importing every day over 12 million barrels of oil, now at over at $100 each on the world market. It takes a lot of American wheat, machinery and computer software to pay a nearly half-trillion-dollar annual tab for imported oil.


An alternative is to concentrate more on biofuels. Currently, American farmers are planting the largest acreage of corn in over 60 years. But the result is that fuel now competes with food production — and not just here, as Europe and South America likewise turn to ethanols.


One result is higher corn prices, which means climbing food bills for cattle, pigs and poultry, and thus skyrocketing meat, pork, chicken and turkey prices. Plus, with more acreage devoted to corn, there is less for other crops like cotton, wheat, rice and soy — and the prices of those commodities are soaring as well.


Americans’ increasing use of homegrown ethanol seems to be raising the price of food for the world’s poor, just as our importation of oil enriches the world’s already wealthy and dangerous.


What, then, is the least pernicious alternative — and the most environmentally, financially and ethically sound?


Unfortunately, for a while longer it is not just to trust in promising new technologies like wind and solar power; for decades to come, these will only provide a fraction of our energy needs.


Instead, aside from greater conservation, we must develop more traditional energy resources at home. That would mean building more nuclear power plants, intensifying efforts at mining and burning coal more cleanly — and developing more domestic oil, while retooling our vehicles to be even lighter and more fuel-efficient.


Nuclear power poses risks of proper disposal of radioactive wastes. Coal heats up the atmosphere. But both can also reduce our need to import fossil fuels to run our generators, while offering electrical energy to charge efficient and clean cars of the not-too-distant future.


No one wants a nuclear plant in his county. But, then, no one wants to leave the country bankrupt paying for imported fuel, or vulnerable by empowering hostile foreign oil producers, or insensitive to the price of food for the poor.


It is also time to re-evaluate domestic oil production in environmental — and moral —terms. The question is no longer simply whether we want to drill in the Alaskan wilderness or off the Florida or California coasts. Rather, the dilemma is whether by doing so, we can mitigate the world’s ecological risks beyond our shores, deny dictators financial clout, get America out of debt, and help the poor afford food.


We may not like oil platforms off the beach or mega-tankers in Arctic waters, but the alternatives for now are far worse — in both environmental and ethical terms.




‘Crime’ and Ethanol (, 080507)


By Chuck Colson


Biofuels are one of the major reasons you and I are paying more for groceries these days. For most of us, it is just an inconvenience. For many around the world, however, it is a catastrophe. Last week, United Nations Special Investigator Jean Ziegler called the use of biofuels, such as ethanol, a “crime against a great part of humanity.”


In the past, global food crises were sparked by natural disasters and bad harvests. What makes this food crisis a crime against humanity is: We caused it. And like many man-made problems, this one can be traced to our false worldview.


Here in the United States, egg prices are up 35%; milk up 23%; and bread up 16. For most Americans, who on average spend 10% of their income on food, these increases squeeze our budgets.


But for the “great part of humanity” Ziegler talks about, it is a lot worse. In countries like Ethiopia and Bangladesh, people can spend 70% of their income on food; so even modest increases in food prices can impair their ability to feed their families. And price increases for the staples they depend on have not been modest: Wheat prices have doubled and corn prices quadrupled in the last year.


Rising food prices are causing social instability. According to the World Food Program, “33 countries in Asia and Africa face political instability as the urban poor struggle to feed their families”—which is why the president and Congress are talking now about increasing aid to these countries.


While the rise in food-staple prices has many causes, as Ziegler noted, one of them is definitely man-made: the use of cropland and food-staples to produce bio-fuels such as ethanol. He called “transforming hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tons” of foodstuffs into fuel “absolutely catastrophic for the hungry people.”


Look at it this way: It takes 510 pounds of corn to make 13 gallons of ethanol; that amount could “feed a child in Zambia or Mexico for a year,” while it fuels your car only for a week!


Ziegler is not alone; the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has raised grave concerns, and Secretary of State Rice recently spoke of the “unintended consequence from the alternative fuels’ effort.”


What is maddening about this is that the biofuel effort is fueled by politicians handing out massive subsidies to the farm belt and pandering to glassy-eyed environmentalists. Every presidential hopeful who participated in the Iowa caucuses had to sing the praises of ethanol. That is why John McCain stayed away, because he opposes the subsidies.


Now, I am all for farmers making money on their crops. They deserve it. But no politician with a shred of integrity can deny that it is more important to feed a child in Zambia for a year than to feed your car for a week. And—as if I need to remind you—this is an election year, so ask your candidates where they stand on this tragic political folly. And call your members of Congress to tell them how you feel.


A properly informed worldview is the key here. Two non-Christian worldviews have merged to bring about this crisis: one that sees maintaining political power as an end in itself, and one that sees the environment as our chief concern, even at the expense of humans.


We Christians insist on the proper use of government: that is, to restrain evil and promote justice. And we believe in proper environmental stewardship. But we insist that people, especially the poor, must come first.




China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard (Paris, International Herald, 090811)


SHENZHEN, China — In this sprawling metropolis in southeastern China stand two hulking brown buildings erected by a private company, the Longgang trash incinerators. They can be smelled a mile away and pour out so much dark smoke and hazardous chemicals that hundreds of local residents recently staged an all-day sit-in, demanding that the incinerators be cleaner and that a planned third incinerator not be built nearby.


After surpassing the United States as the world’s largest producer of household garbage, China has embarked on a vast program to build incinerators as landfills run out of space. But these incinerators have become a growing source of toxic emissions, from dioxin to mercury, that can damage the body’s nervous system.


And these pollutants, particularly long-lasting substances like dioxin and mercury, are dangerous not only in China, a growing body of atmospheric research based on satellite observations suggests. They float on air currents across the Pacific to American shores.


Chinese incinerators can be better. At the other end of Shenzhen from Longgang, no smoke is visible from the towering smokestack of the Baoan incinerator, built by a company owned by the municipal government. Government tests show that it emits virtually no dioxin and other pollutants.


But the Baoan incinerator cost 10 times as much as the Longgang incinerators, per ton of trash-burning capacity.


The difference between the Baoan and Longgang incinerators lies at the center of a growing controversy in China. Incinerators are being built to wildly different standards across the country and even across cities like Shenzhen. For years Chinese government regulators have discussed the need to impose tighter limits on emissions. But they have done nothing because of a bureaucratic turf war, a Chinese government official and Chinese incineration experts said.


The Chinese government is struggling to cope with the rapidly rising mountains of trash generated as the world’s most populated country has raced from poverty to rampant consumerism. Beijing officials warned in June that all of the city’s landfills would run out of space within five years.


The governments of several cities with especially affluent, well-educated citizens, including Beijing and Shanghai, are setting pollution standards as strict as Europe’s. Despite those standards, protests against planned incinerators broke out this spring in Beijing and Shanghai as well as Shenzhen.


Increasingly outspoken residents in big cities are deeply distrustful that incinerators will be built and operated to international standards. “It’s hard to say whether this standard will be reached — maybe the incinerator is designed to reach this benchmark, but how do we know it will be properly operated?” said Zhao Yong, a computer server engineer who has become a neighborhood activist in Beijing against plans for an incinerator there.


Yet far dirtier incinerators continue to be built in inland cities where residents have shown little awareness of pollution.


Studies at the University of Washington and the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., have estimated that a sixth of the mercury now falling on North American lakes comes from Asia, particularly China, mainly from coal-fired plants and smelters but also from incinerators. Pollution from incinerators also tends to be high in toxic metals like cadmium.


Incinerators play the most important role in emissions of dioxin. Little research has been done on dioxin crossing the Pacific. But analyses of similar chemicals have shown that they can travel very long distances.


A 2005 report from the World Bank warned that if China built incinerators rapidly and did not limit their emissions, worldwide atmospheric levels of dioxin could double. China has since slowed its construction of incinerators and limited their emissions somewhat, but the World Bank has yet to do a follow-up report.


Airborne dioxin is not the only problem from incinerators. The ash left over after combustion is laced with dioxin and other pollutants. Zhong Rigang, the chief engineer at the Baoan incinerator here, said that his operation sent its ash to a special landfill designed to cope with toxic waste. But an academic paper last year by Nie Yongfeng, a Tsinghua University professor and government adviser who sees a need for more incinerators, said that most municipal landfills for toxic waste lacked room for the ash, so the ash was dumped.


Trash incinerators have two advantages that have prompted Japan and much of Europe to embrace them: they occupy much less real estate than landfills, and the heat from burning trash can be used to generate electricity. The Baoan incinerator generates enough power to light 40,000 households.


And landfills have their own environmental hazards. Decay in landfills also releases large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas, said Robert McIlvaine, president of McIlvaine Company, an energy consulting firm that calculates the relative costs of addressing disparate environmental hazards. Methane from landfills is a far bigger problem in China than toxic pollutants from incinerators, particularly modern incinerators like those in Baoan, he said.


China’s national regulations still allow incinerators to emit 10 times as much dioxin as incinerators in the European Union; American standards are similar to those in Europe. Tightening of China’s national standards has been stuck for three years in a bureaucratic war between the environment ministry and the main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said a Beijing official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject publicly.


The agencies agree that tighter standards on dioxin emissions are needed. They disagree on whether the environment ministry should have the power to stop incinerator projects that do not meet tighter standards, the official said, adding that the planning agency wants to retain the power to decide which projects go ahead.


Yan Jianhua, the director of the solid waste treatment expert group in Zhejiang province, a center of incinerator equipment manufacturing in China, defended the industry’s record on dioxin, saying that households that burn their trash outdoors emit far more dioxin.


“Open burning is a bigger problem according to our research,” Professor Yan said, adding that what China really needs is better trash collection so that garbage can be disposed of more reliably.


Critics and admirers of incinerators alike call for more recycling and reduced use of packaging as ways to reduce the daily volume of municipal garbage. Even when not recycled, sorted trash is easier for incinerators to burn cleanly, because the temperature in the furnace can be adjusted more precisely to minimize the formation of dioxin.


Yet the Chinese public has shown little enthusiasm for recycling. As Mr. Zhong, the engineer at the Baoan incinerator, put it, “No one really cares.”




Climatism and the new green industrial state (National Post, 091021)


Industry, government and NGOs are creating a new political model


By Terence Corcoran


One of the big green lies about global warming science and climate change policy is that the issues are vicious battlegrounds between corporate interests and environmentalists. David Suzuki has been pushing this idea for years, at times going so far as to claim that the National Post and some of its editors/writers are corporate pawns and shills for big business’s anti-climate change agenda. One of Mr. Suzuki’s associates and chairman of the Suzuki Foundation, Jim Hoggan, operates a blog site and has a new book dedicated to the corporate-manipulation theme. Mr. Hoggan claims there exists a concerted public relations assault on climate science and policy that “could not be accomplished without the compliance of media as well as the assent and participation of leaders in government and business.” He talks of “a global PR machine that is too often in the service of special interests and too little concerned about the public interest.”


Let us now return to reality, where this idiot’s guide to climate policy making doesn’t survive 24-hours’ worth of news reports and press releases.  The daily news flow is packed with evidence to the contrary and proof that the opposite is true: Big business and the globe’s greatest corporate powers are marching in lock step with governments and environmentalists to impose climate policy on the world and its people. At the Copenhagen climate conference in December, no group looks forward more fervently than big business to a global carbon control agreement filled with firm targets, big tax increases and massive subsidies for special interests all over the world.


If there’s a corporate-driven global PR machine, it’s firmly on the side of climate control, grinding out one corporate climate agenda after another, an avalanche of business-government co-operation the likes of which the world has never seen. And smack in the middle of this global PR machine, shifting the gears and greasing the wheels, are the world’s leading environmentalists and green NGOs: The World Wildlife Fund, David Suzuki, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defence, Forest Ethics, the Pembina Institute and many more. Together with industry, they pressure government in the creation of the green industrial state.


The shape of the green industrial state rises out of a not-so-attractive place in history. The two great theories of modern statism are part of the recent past: Communism has been dead for two decades, discredited with the fall of the Soviet Union; and full-blown fascism, with government in total control of a subservient corporate private economy, has been a non-starter since 1945. What we have now rising out of the ashes to fill the void is climatism.


Signs of climatism are everywhere. Here’s news yesterday from the Forest Products Association of Canada, whose president, Avrim Lazar, threw Canada’s forest firms behind a World Wildlife Fund campaign to stop global deforestation. Claiming Canada has no “net” deforestation — which means Canada does deforest, but offsets it by planting trees — Mr. Lazar said deforestation accounts for almost 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Could it be that Mr. Lazar’s forest firms are looking for other governments to take action that would favour Canadian industry?


On Tuesday, another green corporatist group — the Canadian ENGO-Industry Cap-and-Trade Dialogue — issued a final statement calling on the Canadian government to jump-start a national cap-and-trade carbon regime that would make no exceptions, for instance, for Canada’s rapidly expanding oil sands industry. The group’s members are a rogues gallery middlemen, energy consumers and green activists: The David Suzuki Foundation, Dow Canada, DuPont Canada, Environmental Defence, Forest Ethics, Pembina Institute, Royal Bank of Canada, Rio Tinto, Sierra Club of Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank and the World Wildlife Fund. 


Looks like Jim Hoggan, chair of the Suzuki Foundation, is in bed with a mess of powerful corporations to promote their private interests so they can cash in on climate policy. The group also said it agreed with “the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C.” Oh really. Did the Royal Bank’s risk department conduct the appropriate scientific assessment to determine the logic of global temperatures? Did they assess the risk of the bank being sucked into a perilous carbon trading market, carbon being a likely global investment bubble? Or is the bank just keen to rake in the billions that could be made trading credits and doling out loans to fund carbon credit purchases?


Corporate fingerprints, smudged with government and green group participation, is nowhere more evident than in the climate-driven rush into renewable energy. In Ontario, the list of corporations supporting and circling the province’s new Green Energy Act is an appalling demonstration of climatism run amok. From TransCanada to GE, from wind farm developers to solar panel makers, it’s a corporatist free for all.  All have joined forces with David Suzuki, Environmental Defence and other green groups in cahoots with government to install a regime that looks all to much like a giant swindle. Mr. Suzuki’s image, and his video support for their cause, is a fixture on the Ontario green energy web site.


The model for Ontario’s green renewable schemes is Germany, where climatism is well advanced and where solar and wind power programs — fuelled by the same feed-in tariffs proposed for Ontario — has created an economic fiasco. A new study, “Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies: The German experience,” published this month by the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut in Essen, Germany, found tens of billions had been wasted, consumers gouged, and carbon emissions essentially unchanged.


Also exposed in the German study (summarized elsewhere on this page) is the myth of “green jobs” from renewables. In Ontario, Rick Smith, head of Environmental Defence and a prominent front-man for renewable programs, boasted that since Germany created 250,000 green jobs, Ontario would create 50,000 green jobs. But Germany’s job creation is doubtful. The institute report said Germany created 50,000 jobs at most — but at a cost of $240,000 per job.


Renewable energy may well be the best demonstration yet of the folly of climatism.  But there is much more to come, at Copenhagen and beyond.  Last week, to pick one example, a Canadian green business summit boasted Walmart, Maple Leaf Foods, Coca-Cola Bottling, McDonald’s, Home Depot as leaders, with a keynote speech by David Suzuki titled, “Business, like every other sector in society, must understand that being green is about sustainability.” He’ll be speaking to the converted.


Formal state corporatism is unmarketable as a political model, but green industrial statism looks like a winner.




China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard (Paris, International Herald, 090811)


SHENZHEN, China — In this sprawling metropolis in southeastern China stand two hulking brown buildings erected by a private company, the Longgang trash incinerators. They can be smelled a mile away and pour out so much dark smoke and hazardous chemicals that hundreds of local residents recently staged an all-day sit-in, demanding that the incinerators be cleaner and that a planned third incinerator not be built nearby.


After surpassing the United States as the world’s largest producer of household garbage, China has embarked on a vast program to build incinerators as landfills run out of space. But these incinerators have become a growing source of toxic emissions, from dioxin to mercury, that can damage the body’s nervous system.


And these pollutants, particularly long-lasting substances like dioxin and mercury, are dangerous not only in China, a growing body of atmospheric research based on satellite observations suggests. They float on air currents across the Pacific to American shores.


Chinese incinerators can be better. At the other end of Shenzhen from Longgang, no smoke is visible from the towering smokestack of the Baoan incinerator, built by a company owned by the municipal government. Government tests show that it emits virtually no dioxin and other pollutants.


But the Baoan incinerator cost 10 times as much as the Longgang incinerators, per ton of trash-burning capacity.


The difference between the Baoan and Longgang incinerators lies at the center of a growing controversy in China. Incinerators are being built to wildly different standards across the country and even across cities like Shenzhen. For years Chinese government regulators have discussed the need to impose tighter limits on emissions. But they have done nothing because of a bureaucratic turf war, a Chinese government official and Chinese incineration experts said.


The Chinese government is struggling to cope with the rapidly rising mountains of trash generated as the world’s most populated country has raced from poverty to rampant consumerism. Beijing officials warned in June that all of the city’s landfills would run out of space within five years.


The governments of several cities with especially affluent, well-educated citizens, including Beijing and Shanghai, are setting pollution standards as strict as Europe’s. Despite those standards, protests against planned incinerators broke out this spring in Beijing and Shanghai as well as Shenzhen.


Increasingly outspoken residents in big cities are deeply distrustful that incinerators will be built and operated to international standards. “It’s hard to say whether this standard will be reached — maybe the incinerator is designed to reach this benchmark, but how do we know it will be properly operated?” said Zhao Yong, a computer server engineer who has become a neighborhood activist in Beijing against plans for an incinerator there.


Yet far dirtier incinerators continue to be built in inland cities where residents have shown little awareness of pollution.


Studies at the University of Washington and the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., have estimated that a sixth of the mercury now falling on North American lakes comes from Asia, particularly China, mainly from coal-fired plants and smelters but also from incinerators. Pollution from incinerators also tends to be high in toxic metals like cadmium.


Incinerators play the most important role in emissions of dioxin. Little research has been done on dioxin crossing the Pacific. But analyses of similar chemicals have shown that they can travel very long distances.


A 2005 report from the World Bank warned that if China built incinerators rapidly and did not limit their emissions, worldwide atmospheric levels of dioxin could double. China has since slowed its construction of incinerators and limited their emissions somewhat, but the World Bank has yet to do a follow-up report.


Airborne dioxin is not the only problem from incinerators. The ash left over after combustion is laced with dioxin and other pollutants. Zhong Rigang, the chief engineer at the Baoan incinerator here, said that his operation sent its ash to a special landfill designed to cope with toxic waste. But an academic paper last year by Nie Yongfeng, a Tsinghua University professor and government adviser who sees a need for more incinerators, said that most municipal landfills for toxic waste lacked room for the ash, so the ash was dumped.


Trash incinerators have two advantages that have prompted Japan and much of Europe to embrace them: they occupy much less real estate than landfills, and the heat from burning trash can be used to generate electricity. The Baoan incinerator generates enough power to light 40,000 households.


And landfills have their own environmental hazards. Decay in landfills also releases large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas, said Robert McIlvaine, president of McIlvaine Company, an energy consulting firm that calculates the relative costs of addressing disparate environmental hazards. Methane from landfills is a far bigger problem in China than toxic pollutants from incinerators, particularly modern incinerators like those in Baoan, he said.


China’s national regulations still allow incinerators to emit 10 times as much dioxin as incinerators in the European Union; American standards are similar to those in Europe. Tightening of China’s national standards has been stuck for three years in a bureaucratic war between the environment ministry and the main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said a Beijing official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject publicly.


The agencies agree that tighter standards on dioxin emissions are needed. They disagree on whether the environment ministry should have the power to stop incinerator projects that do not meet tighter standards, the official said, adding that the planning agency wants to retain the power to decide which projects go ahead.


Yan Jianhua, the director of the solid waste treatment expert group in Zhejiang province, a center of incinerator equipment manufacturing in China, defended the industry’s record on dioxin, saying that households that burn their trash outdoors emit far more dioxin.


“Open burning is a bigger problem according to our research,” Professor Yan said, adding that what China really needs is better trash collection so that garbage can be disposed of more reliably.


Critics and admirers of incinerators alike call for more recycling and reduced use of packaging as ways to reduce the daily volume of municipal garbage. Even when not recycled, sorted trash is easier for incinerators to burn cleanly, because the temperature in the furnace can be adjusted more precisely to minimize the formation of dioxin.


Yet the Chinese public has shown little enthusiasm for recycling. As Mr. Zhong, the engineer at the Baoan incinerator, put it, “No one really cares.”




The recycling conundrum: How your blue bin hurts the environment (National Post, 091204)


The City of Calgary introduced its blue box, curbside recycling program this year, and there was rejoicing. Calgary, the last major Canadian city to offer it, had, until recently, asked citizens to deliver their own recyclables to green bins located every few blocks, or to hire, at $10 a month, a private pickup service. To those concerned about environmental appearances, it was embarrassing.


“It means something to me that we’re the last large city in Canada to implement curbside recycling,” said Druh Farrell, the alderman championing the program.


Approving the $50-million plan (plus another roughly $50-million a year recycling tax on homeowners) meant that Calgary had emerged from the “stone age,” sighed a columnist with the Calgary Herald, relieved of being “the laughingstock of the country” for living in a city of eco-barbarians.


If symbolism, and the urge to feel ecologically righteous, were the objective, then the blue box program - part of the city’s ambitious goal to divert 80% of trash from landfills by 2020 - succeeded the moment it began. But if the aim is to help the environment, Calgary, ironically, may have been just as well off in the Stone Age.


Before this year, Calgary was already diverting more than 20% of city waste from landfills through private arrangements. In terms of making an environmental difference, that’s getting close to what cities should aim for, says J. Winston Porter, who, as former assistant administrator for America’s Environmental Protection Agency, was the first to establish nationwide recycling targets in the United States in the 1980s. His target then was 25%, and it’s a number he largely sticks by. Diverting 35% of waste into recycling is about as a high as any city can justify, he says.


Trying to recycle more can be wasteful, if not harmful, he says, even though many major cities are setting targets at 70% or higher.


“People say you can’t recycle too much. It turns out you can,” says Mr. Porter, president of the environmental consulting firm, the Waste Policy Center, near Washington, D.C. “If you spend enough money, you can recycle anything. That doesn’t mean you should.”


While a blue bin out front makes us feel we’re helping the planet, recycling most household materials has either minimal environmental impact, or even a negative one. Homeowners dutifully put out their glass, plastic, steel and aluminum packaging. But the only really valuable item, Mr. Porter says, is the metal. That sounds like an economic assessment, but it’s a key environmental measure: resources to make metal are at a premium, and production is energy intensive. Recycling metal pays because it saves on limited resources and energy - in other words, it’s better for the environment. The trouble is that in the typical North American city’s solid waste stream (including trash and recyclables) aluminum and steel generally account for just 2% by weight. Glass sent to recycling facilities is heavier, making up 3 to 5% of typical city waste by weight. But although it demands more energy, there isn’t much use for it.


All the glass collected this year by Calgary’s new program ended up at the East Calgary Landfill, where it is piling up for want of a buyer. “It’s a product that there just isn’t any demand for,” Bill Stitt, general manager of Metro Waste Paper Recovery Inc., the city’s recycling contractor, told a local paper. Edmonton is stockpiling, too, as are a number of other Canadian cities. The price of sand is simply too cheap, and the impracticality of reusing bottles of varying quality and colour is too big a headache to make it marketable.


Glass is a “red herring when talking about recyclables,” a Recycling Council of BC spokeswoman conceded to the CBC this year; since it doesn’t break down, there’s no effect on air or water when it’s buried in landfills. A 2003 study by Enviros Environmental Consultants UK found that “from a global warming perspective, there is limited environmental benefit to using recycled glass” but continuing with the exercise of recycling was “an important part of the UK meeting its overall glass recycling targets.” That is, so politicians could meet their set goals, even if there was no environmental point to it.


Unfortunately, recycling plastic often doesn’t make much more sense. Germany has stockpiled millions of tonnes of recyclable plastics in rural fields, like above-ground dumps. “These cheap plastic bottles, it depends on the price of oil, but the market is not worth much,” says Daniel Benjamin, an economist at South Carolina’s Clemson University who studies recycling. Though it makes up roughly 5%, by weight, of a typical North American garbage stream, applications for used, mixed plastic are limited. “We’re talking about a few dollars a tonne,” Professor Benjamin says.


San Francisco’s Department of Waste recently calculated it paid $4,000 a tonne to recycle plastic bags. Its resale price for the recycled product? $32. “Nobody wants it. There’s no value. It doesn’t make sense,” says Joseph Gho, CEO of EPI Environmental Products Inc., a Vancouver manufacturer of biodegradable plastics. “Besides the financial, the economic cost, you’ve got the environmental cost” of recycling unwanted material. “The trucks running out there, burning fuel ... you have to use energy, you’ve got CO2 emissions.”


That’s why curbside recycling requires, wherever it’s implemented, millions of tax dollars to stay afloat: the inputs required are greater than the savings. Even in New York City, where area land is some of the most expensive on the continent, it costs $240 to deal with a ton of recyclables, compared to the $130 a ton of landfills, says Angela Logomasini, Director of Risk and Environmental Policy at Washington, D.C.’s Competitive Enterprise Institute.


Often the effects of aggressive residential recycling programs harm environmental goals. Citywide blue box programs typically mean a whole new fleet of trucks: Calgary now has 64 more diesel-burning rigs retracing the same tracks its garbage trucks did just a few days earlier, roughly doubling carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants.


A 2000 study by the London-based environmental group Friends of the Earth found that collecting yard waste for recycling (ie, making mulch) emitted 264 more pounds of CO2 than burying it in a landfill. In 2002, two of Sweden’s leading environmental authorities argued that recycling’s benefits were usually undone by the resources required to collect and process it. The promise of environmentalists of a “flourishing recycling market” where reused goods would find ready buyers “was already a dream 40 years ago and is, unfortunately, still a dream,” they conceded. Better, they wrote, that most materials be incinerated at waste-to-energy plants, which is easier to do, and generates electricity, offsetting the need for fossil fuels. “We believe that incineration of household waste including disposable packaging and food waste, with energy recovery, is best for the environment, economy and management of natural resources,” wrote Valfrid Paulsson, former head of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and Sorren Norby, former president of Keep Sweden Tidy.


The approach is catching on. Britain is building 50 new waste-to-energy incinerators; Denmark’s environmental protection agency recommended in a 2002 report that the country would be best to reroute parts of its recycling program to incinerators instead. With pollutants having been cut dramatically from the process, and a smaller CO2 footprint for power than coal, converting waste-to-energy makes as much sense to Europeans as does growing grain to burn for bio-fuels.


“It’s done in Japan, in Europe, in Russia, all over the world, and we’re actually way behind on waste-to-energy in North America,” says Patrick Moore, chairman of Vancouver environmental communications firm, GreenSpirit Strategies, and a co-founder of Greenpeace. “Wherever there’s diminishing returns [on recycling], that’s where we should be converting waste to energy.”


Here in spacious North America, incineration can’t usually compete with cheap landfills. In the late-eighties, Americans panicked over landfill shortages after a media scare set off when a garbage barge, the Mobro 4000, floated for months off the U.S. east cost seeking a ready landfill. Its owners’ bad management was the real culprit, not landfill scarcity: In fact, the U.S. and Canada both have more cheap space for landfill than anyone could ever need. “The only problem is will,” says Ms. Logomasini. A study out of Washington’s Gonzaga University calculated that all the garbage produced by Americans over the next 1,000 years would fit into a landfill just 44 miles square and 100 feet deep-less than one-tenth of one-percent of American real estate.


The idea of burying garbage in the earth instinctively turns off some people, Mr. Porter admits. But, unless we adopt European levels of incineration, landfills are the final destination for pretty well everything we produce. “Landfills are always going to be with us,” Mr. Porter says. “If I leave a foam cup resting in a landfill, I don’t see why that’s a problem.”


A certain amount of recycling will always be with us, too. It has been for ages, wherever the value of useful materials - paper, aluminum, copper, etc. - created businesses eager to reprocess the products at their own cost. For cities determined to do their part, or, likelier, looking to seize the profitable part of the recycling business, Mr. Porter argues that there are easier, more environmentally friendly options than immense, mandatory blue box programs. First, cities should drop the ridiculously high targets to recycle 70, 80 or 90% of waste. And instead, have homeowners bundle their paper, cardboard and aluminum - the worthwhile stuff - into special coloured bags alongside their regular trash pickup. Those bags can then be separated at the landfill, and the rest trashed. That would eliminate all the extra trucks, energy and cost that so many cities incur so that green-posturing politicians can delude citizens into believing they’re helping the environment, when really, they could be making things worse.




Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively (Paris International Herald, 091225)


GUYUN VILLAGE, China — Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.


This abandoned mine in Guyun Village in China exhausted the local deposit of heavy rare-earth elements in three years.


Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.


Western capitals have suddenly grown worried over China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future.


In Washington, Congress is fretting about the United States military’s dependence on Chinese rare earths, and has just ordered a study of potential alternatives.


Here in Guyun Village, a small community in southeastern China fringed by lush bamboo groves and banana trees, the environmental damage can be seen in the red-brown scars of barren clay that run down narrow valleys and the dead lands below, where emerald rice fields once grew.


Miners scrape off the topsoil and shovel golden-flecked clay into dirt pits, using acids to extract the rare earths. The acids ultimately wash into streams and rivers, destroying rice paddies and fish farms and tainting water supplies.


On a recent rainy afternoon, Zeng Guohui, a 41-year-old laborer, walked to an abandoned mine where he used to shovel ore, and pointed out still-barren expanses of dirt and mud. The mine exhausted the local deposit of heavy rare earths in three years, but a decade after the mine closed, no one has tried to revive the downstream rice fields.


Small mines producing heavy rare earths like dysprosium and terbium still operate on nearby hills. “There are constant protests because it damages the farmland — people are always demanding compensation,” Mr. Zeng said.


“In many places, the mining is abused,” said Wang Caifeng, the top rare-earths industry regulator at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China.


“This has caused great harm to the ecology and environment.”


There are 17 rare-earth elements — some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare — but two heavy rare earths, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as the miracle ingredients of green energy products. Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90%, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80%. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407 a pound, before slumping in the global economic crisis to $205 a pound.


China mines more than 99% of the world’s dysprosium and terbium. Most of China’s production comes from about 200 mines here in northern Guangdong and in neighboring Jiangxi Province.


China is also the world’s dominant producer of lighter rare earth elements, valuable to a wide range of industries. But these are in less short supply, and the mining is more regulated.


Half the heavy rare earth mines have licenses and the other half are illegal, industry executives said. But even the legal mines, like the one where Mr. Zeng worked, often pose environmental hazards.


A close-knit group of mainland Chinese gangs with a capacity for murder dominates much of the mining and has ties to local officials, said Stephen G. Vickers, the former head of criminal intelligence for the Hong Kong police who is now the chief executive of International Risk, a global security company.


Mr. Zeng defended the industry, saying that he had cousins who owned rare-earth mines and were legitimate businessmen who paid compensation to farmers.


The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a draft plan last April to halt all exports of heavy rare earths, partly on environmental grounds and partly to force other countries to buy manufactured products from China. When the plan was reported on Sept. 1, Western governments and companies strongly objected and Ms. Wang announced on Sept. 3 that China would not halt exports and would revise its overall plan. But the ministry subsequently cut the annual export quota for all rare earths by 12%, the fourth steep cut in as many years.


Congress responded to the Chinese moves by ordering the Defense Department to conduct a comprehensive review, by April 1, of the American military’s dependence on imported rare earths for devices like night-vision gear and rangefinders.


Western users of heavy rare earths say that they have no way of figuring out what proportion of the minerals they buy from China comes from responsibly operated mines. Licensed and illegal mines alike sell to itinerant traders. They buy the valuable material with sacks of cash, then sell it to processing centers in and around Guangzhou that separate the rare earths from each other.


Companies that buy these rare earths, including a few in Japan and the West, turn them into refined metal powders.


“I don’t know if part of that feed, internal in China, came from an illegal mine and went in a legal separator,” said David Kennedy, the president of Great Western Technologies in Troy, Mich., which imports Chinese rare earths and turns them into powders that are sold worldwide.


Smuggling is another issue. Mr. Kennedy said that he bought only rare earths covered by Chinese export licenses. But up to half of China’s exports of heavy rare earths leave the country illegally, other industry executives said.


Zhang Peichen, deputy director of the government-backed Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, said that smugglers mix rare earths with steel and then export the steel composites, making the smuggling hard to detect. The process is eventually reversed, frequently in Japan, and the rare earths are recovered. Chinese customs officials have stepped up their scrutiny of steel exports to try to stop this trick, one trader said.


According to the Baotou institute, heavy rare-earth deposits in the hills here will be exhausted in 15 years. Companies want to expand production outside China, but most rare-earth deposits, unlike those in southern China, are accompanied by radioactive uranium and thorium that complicate mining.


Multinational corporations are starting to review their dependence on heavy rare earths. Toyota said that it bought auto parts that include rare earths, but did not participate in the purchases of materials by its suppliers. Osram, a large lighting manufacturer that is part of Siemens of Germany, said it used the lowest feasible amount of rare earths.


The biggest user of heavy rare earths in the years ahead could be large wind turbines, which need much lighter magnets for the five-ton generators at the top of ever-taller towers. Vestas, a Danish company that has become the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, said that prototypes for its next generation used dysprosium, and that the company was studying the sustainability of the supply. Goldwind, the biggest Chinese turbine maker, has switched from conventional magnets to rare-earth magnets.


Executives in the $1.3 billion rare-earths mining industry say that less environmentally damaging mining is needed, given the importance of their product for green energy technologies. Developers hope to open mines in Canada, South Africa and Australia, but all are years from large-scale production and will produce sizable quantities of light rare earths. Their output of heavy rare earths will most likely be snapped up to meet rising demand from the wind turbine industry.


“This industry wants to save the world,” said Nicholas Curtis, the executive chairman of the Lynas Corporation of Australia, in a speech to an industry gathering in Hong Kong in late November. “We can’t do it and leave a product that is glowing in the dark somewhere else, killing people.”




‘Green’ shopping used to justify subsequent wasteful behaviour: study (National Post, 091221)


If buying an organic apple instead of one caked in pesticides eases your conscience, there’s a good chance that your next ethical decision might not be a good one.


According to the results of a University of Toronto study, participants who assigned more social value to ‘green’ shopping were more likely to cheat and steal in subsequent tests than those with less stringent shopping habits.


The study, to be published in the new year in the journal Psychological Science, is the latest in a growing field of research called “moral licensing.”


It’s a relatively new concept that posits humans might store up a reserve of good karma only to squander it later. It’s a little like Tiger Woods spending thousands of hours of golf practice and earning hundreds of millions of dollars on the PGA tour, only to fritter it all away with a few nights of extramarital indiscretion.


Co-authors Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, professors at the university’s Rotman School of Business, said they considered themselves to be “green” consumers, which is partly why they took up the research.


The pair set up tests for a sample of university students which asked them to purchase a basket of goods at either a hypothetical organic shop or a typical grocery store.


Those who bought more green items were found in separate tests to be significantly less likely than their conventional counterparts to share money with an anonymous recipient and more likely to cheat on and lie about the results of a simple quiz.


Mazar cautioned that the size and type of the study limited its implications, and that green purchases could be replaced by any similar moral decision, such as donating to charity.


But the results lend credence to the concept of moral licensing, said Zhong.


“When [people] feel that their morality is lacking, they’re more likely to engage in good behaviours as compensation,” he said. “But when they observe or perceive themselves to be morally satisfied or content, that creates licensing effects for them to engage in ethical behaviours that are less likely to be moral.”


The researchers point to a landmark study from 2001, in which researchers found that, after an employer had made a “politically correct” hire, he often followed up by hiring a white male for the same position.


Just why this happens is unclear, said Mazar, noting that she and Zhong would like to look at the potential biological underpinnings for such decisions.


What the authors also found, however, was that simply being exposed to green products led to better ethical behaviour than did the act of purchasing green products, a phenomenon known as “priming.”


In Mazar and Zhong’s case, when people were “exposed” to the green grocery store but did not purchase any items from it, they shared substantially more money with the anonymous recipient.


A similar study in 2008 found that when participants were shown the Apple logo, they then demonstrated heightened creativity, a trait commonly associated with the electronics brand.


The pair said those striving to keep up with the Greens shouldn’t change their shopping habits just yet.


“I would assume that many other people who actually buy green products on a regular basis are not moralizing their behaviour,” said Mazar. “They’re doing it because they really believe in that, and think that this is the right thing.”


The licensing effect is instead more prevalent when people do something that they believe society will see as virtuous.


“I think the key [problem] is that people see green products as moral, as good,” said Zhong. “If we simply understand that these behaviours are necessary, that these behaviours are the bare minimum that we can do, then we wouldn’t expect the same licensing effect.


“If everyone recycles, recycling is not going to be seen as a moral positive.”




Obama energy official can cash in on administration’s green policies (, 100427)


When Barack Obama ran for office, he promised to change the culture of Washington, blah, blah, blah.  These openings more or less write themselves, don’t they?  Anyway, to no one’s great shock, yet another senior Obama administration figure has managed to find ways to cash in on the sector she’s supposed to be regulating.  Meet Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy — and Green Entrepreneur on the taxpayer dime:


A top Obama administration official who’s helping lead a campaign for energy conservation has a major financial interest in two companies that are poised to benefit from the government’s spending.


Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters that are used to create an efficient “smart” grid of electricity use.


Her husband, Robin Roy, owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient windows that’s been singled out for praise by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. As an officer of the company, Roy receives options on an additional 2,500 shares every month and will continue to do so until October 2012.


Energy Department aides said that Zoi, once a close ally of former Vice President Al Gore, doesn’t participate in decisions that would drive government money to either company.


Of course not! Just because two companies in which a senior DoE official owns stakes suddenly gets a lot of business from the administration doesn’t mean that corruption exists. No, no, no. That’s just a coincidence!


McClatchy notes that some critics wonder what it is that Zoi actually does, if she’s been cut out of the loop on these projects. Pajamas Media, among the first to notice Zoi’s business connections, mused: “If she doesn’t participate in decisions that could have a ‘direct and predictable effect’ on her Landis+Gyr holdings and she doesn’t participate in decisions that could have a ‘direct and predictable effect’ on her holdings in Serious Materials, it seems worth asking in which decisions she can participate.” Or, alternatively, why we’re paying Zoi at all. After all, she seems ready to do well on her own, and it doesn’t appear the DoE gives her much to do. Can’t we save a salary here?


It also seems worth asking how many more Obama administration officials will personally profit from enforcing White House policy.




In the ‘Green’ Economy, the Poor Pay More (Christian Post, 100913)

Kelly Miller


Cap-and-trade legislation has died, with little hope of resurrection for a long time to come. What the representatives of the people cannot accomplish, however, the Environmental Protection Agency can.


The EPA’s Lisa Jackson has denied ten petitions filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Republican attorneys general from Texas and Virginia, and other conservative groups. The petitioners asked the EPA to reconsider its finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has refused to reconsider, and plans to regulate emissions from new cars and trucks this year, and emissions from power plants next year. The state of Texas is now threatening not to conform to the new regulations.


Christians believe that when God created the world and created people in His image, He gave mankind a mandate to be stewards of the creation. Therefore, Christians should be especially concerned about treating the natural world with care and respect. At the same time, the stewardship responsibility includes all of the resources we have – nature, the ecosystem, and technology; as well as our bodies, talents, and relationships with other people.


People of faith have no intention or desire to pit these responsibilities against one another. When a proposal to improve the environment negative consequences for our economic and technological ability to steward our resources and care for people created in God’s image, Christianity teaches that we should investigate whether the environmental policy is truly necessary to accomplish its stated goal, and whether it is possible to care for the environment in a way that also enhances human life and productivity.


To restrict energy usage is to restrict human ability to productively steward God’s creation. God ordained work as a good thing for Adam and Eve to do in the garden of Eden before sin came into the world. For this reason, Christians believe that productive cultivation of natural resources can improve, rather than damage, the health of God’s creation.


However, the Environmental Protection Agency generally treats human economic activity as climate enemy number one. Unfortunately, discussing climate issues through the EPA bureaucracy does not lend itself to a full and open investigation of the options and issues at stake. The legislative branch set up the bureaucracy in such a way that it can make difficult policy choices without facing electoral accountability. Joe Postell of The Heritage Foundation has explained why the progressive movement began setting this system in place several decades ago:


The progressives sought to circumvent representative government by transferring power from Congress to a newly created fourth branch of government, our modern bureaucracy. Congress would no longer make laws but merely pass bills that consist of assignments to agencies. The actual laws then would be passed by agencies in the form of “rules” carrying the full force of law.


If the EPA believes it knows the best way to promote “public health and welfare,” it will not easily admit that it might be. EPA officials may have the best of intentions for crafting the best policy, but there’s no guarantee that they are safe from the lure of self-interest, much less from their own fallibility.


For instance, the EPA believes that regulating emissions will improve the American economy by creating “green” jobs. The evidence, however, does not support this line of reasoning. The government simply cannot create jobs in one industry without destroying jobs elsewhere. For every “green” job Spain has created by subsidizing wind and solar energy, it has destroyed 2.2 jobs created by the private sector. Green jobs have done nothing to improve Spain’s 19% unemployment rate. Denmark actually spends more money on creating jobs in the wind energy industry than the jobs actually pay.


Politicians in the United States have already tried unsuccessfully for years to create technological innovation by legislative mandate, and there’s no logical reason to expect that more government mandates will produce efficient energy technology.


Rather than stimulating the American economy, full regulation of carbon emissions will damage it severely. Essentially, a cap or a regulatory burden on carbon emissions would create energy scarcity, making it just as expensive to purchase energy from fossil fuels as it is to purchase energy from “renewable” sources. The supply of efficient energy would drop in order to encourage production and consumption of inefficient energy, and prices would skyrocket as a result. Politicians themselves, including Barack Obama as a presidential candidate, have admitted that skyrocketing prices are a crucial component of the carbon regulation strategy.


Under the cap-and-trade bill considered by the House of Representatives, the average American family would likely face a 90% increase in electricity prices, according to research done by The Heritage Foundation. Gasoline and natural gas prices would also rise by over 50%. The economic impact of EPA regulation would be even worse than the impact of cap-and-trade legislation, because regulation would involve more compliance, administrative, and legal costs.


Skyrocketing energy prices would cause the prices of most other goods and services to rise as well, because energy is the lifeblood of the economy. Almost nothing happens – no manufacturing, no transportation, and no sales – without energy.


For people who already have plenty of money – think John Kerry and Bill Gates – this is not much of a problem. But economically vulnerable groups already spend much larger portions of their budgets on basic necessities than do those who are better off. The poor have less discretionary income to spend on things they don’t absolutely need, and therefore less room to breathe when expenses rise.


This economic burden would come in addition to other financial woes caused by carbon regulation. An economy struggling under dramatic decreases in employment, household income, and national GDP would make it even more difficult for low-income families to cover expenses, especially utilities. Families who could not afford to heat or cool their homes, especially the elderly, would risk their health and could end up homeless. After inability to pay rent, inability to pay utilities is the most common cause of homelessness.


The Environmental Protection Agency justifies this onerous economic burden with its finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. However, its proposed regulation of emissions could endanger public health and welfare even more. Christian doctrine teaches that it is not acceptable to treat the poor unjustly, or take from them the ability to earn their own living and to productively steward the resources God has given them. Rather, we should investigate whether human economic productivity could be an ally rather than the enemy of our natural resources.




Administration Inflates Green Jobs Numbers (, 100928)

Byron York


Are you a financial adviser? You may not know it, but you’ve got a green job. Are you a wholesale buyer? You’ve got a green job, too. Or maybe you’re a newspaper reporter. You, too, have a green job — at least according to the Obama administration.


For months, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has been pushing the administration to substantiate its claims of having created nearly 200,000 green jobs. More fundamentally, Grassley has asked Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to state clearly what a green job is. So far, he hasn’t gotten an answer.


Now, Grassley has learned that, in lieu of a settling on a straightforward definition of a green job, the administration has adopted an extraordinarily broad description of such jobs that could include not only financial advisers, wholesale buyers and reporters but also public-relations specialists, marketing managers and many more occupations that have nothing to do with protecting the environment.


If federal money has created any of those jobs, then the administration can claim to have created a green job.


Last June, Grassley sent Solis a letter questioning an administration request for public input on the definition of a green job. Grassley dryly noted that the request came after the government had already spent hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars on green jobs. Given that the administration couldn’t nail down just what a green job is, Grassley asked Solis how she determined where those hundreds of millions of dollars went.


In response, Assistant Labor Secretary Jane Oates told Grassley that the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is “working to develop a definition for green-job sectors and jobs.” Oates also noted that the department has “supported occupational research that begins to define green jobs.” She specifically suggested he look at work done by a Labor Department project called the Occupational Information Network, also known as O*NET.


So Grassley’s staff checked out O*NET and found extensive listings of jobs that could be classified, for government purposes, as “green.” The list includes “arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators,” “financial analysts,” “financial quantitative analysts,” “investment underwriters,” “marketing managers,” “personal financial advisers,” “public-relations specialists,” “wholesale and retail buyers” and “reporters and correspondents.”


Grassley was appalled. “These are, no doubt, respectable and needed professions,” he writes in a new letter to Solis, “but their tenuous connection to the stated goal of ‘green jobs’ only underscores the mismanaged efforts of the Department’s stimulus dollar spending.”


The senator points out that money for green jobs comes not only from the stimulus but also from the Green Jobs Act of 2007, which calls for the government to spend $125 million per year on “energy efficiency and renewable energy” worker training. The legislation specifically refers to things like retrofitting buildings, biofuels and wind turbines. What do financial advisers, wholesale buyers and reporters have to do with that?


Grassley is waiting for an answer.


In a statement, the senator says he’s a “big supporter” of green jobs. “But the government shouldn’t cook the books with how it defines these jobs,” he adds. “Taxpayers deserve an honest accounting for the nearly half billion of their dollars being spent on this program. If the government plans to lump reporters, marketing managers and financial analysts into its definition, then I’m afraid this is yet another area where the administration and the American people just don’t see eye to eye.”


For the administration, Grassley’s discovery is just the latest in a long line of embarrassments on the green-jobs front. First, there was the controversy surrounding departed green-jobs czar Van Jones. Then there was widespread skepticism about the nearly 200,000 such jobs the administration claims to have created. And then there was the unhappiness on Capitol Hill over reports that of $2.1 billion the government has granted for renewable energy jobs, like assembling wind turbines, about 80% has gone to foreign companies. The stimulus has created some actual green jobs, but they’re in China.


The promotion of green jobs with stimulus money — a marriage of the Obama administration’s environmental and economic agendas — has been a top priority for the White House since day one. It still is. Just last month, Vice President Biden traveled to New Hampshire to tout “good-paying jobs, green jobs, jobs that can’t be exported.”


It sounds good. But if you look a little closer into the administration’s claims, you’ll find they literally don’t know what they’re talking about.




Millennials Concerned but Not Fanatical About Environment (Christian Post, 100924)


Nearly 9 in 10 American “Millennials” – those born between 1980 and 1991 – say it’s up to their generation to clean up the environment, but a majority also believes that many Millennials go overboard when it comes to environmental issues.


These are the findings from a LifeWay Research study for an upcoming book by Thom Rainer and his son Jess Rainer titled “The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation.” The research is based on a wide-ranging August 2009 survey of 1,200 Millennials in the United States.


Eighty-seven percent of Millennials agree, 41% strongly, with the statement, “It is up to my generation to clean up the environment.” Asians, Hispanics and people living in the West have particularly strong convictions about their environmental responsibility.


Most Millennials feel “previous generations did great harm to the environment,” but just 25% agree strongly with this assessment.


“Millennials show an acute awareness of the issues surrounding the environment,” said Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. “Any outright dismissal of environmental issues will be seen as crass ignorance regarding both the people and the planet.”


Do Millennials go overboard?


Millennials are split as to whether they see their peers going too far on environmental issues. A slim majority (54%) agrees with the statement, “Many people in my generation go overboard on environmental issues,” and only 18% agree strongly. Thirty-six percent disagree somewhat, and 10% disagree strongly.


Women and people in the Northeast are less likely to agree with this assessment of their generation, while those who trust Christ as Savior particularly feel that their generation overdoes it on environmental issues.


Most Millennials say their voting is impacted by a political candidate’s environmental conscience, but very few feel strongly this way. In responding to the statement, “One of the key factors when I choose a political candidate is that he or she has a strong environmental conscience,” 2 out of 3 agree, but only 16% agree strongly.


Whites are less likely than other ethnic groups to agree with this statement. Those who trust Christ as Savior also are less likely to agree, although they are fairly split on the issue with 60% agreeing and 40% disagreeing.


The environment and employment


Although many feel their generation goes overboard on the environment, that didn’t stop 73% of Millennials from saying they would like to use their skills in a job that benefits the environment.


Minorities and those involved in a non-Christian religion are the most likely to want to have a job that benefits the environment. Those who indicate their religion as Christian are less likely to want such a job, but those who trust Christ as Savior are no less likely to agree with the statement, “I would like to use my skills in a job that benefits the environment.”


“Churches were once built at the center of town because it was the place where faith and culture intersected,” Rainer said. “But today’s research shows the church at the margins of conversations important in our culture. Christians do not have to agree about the issues of environmentalism, but they should be engaged in the dialogue important to the largest generation in American history.”




Engineering the Earth: From Wacky to Necessary? (Christian Post, 101025)

By Chuck Colson


The failure of Congress to pass “climate change” legislation has, as you might expect, prompted some strong reactions. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman cites this failure in calling for the creation of a third political party that will allow us to do what’s needed to “move forward” as a country.


Others are contemplating a different way “forward”: instead of transforming politics, they want to reinvent and transform the planet.


According to the Washington Post, ideas once considered “downright wacky” are getting serious attention here and in Britain. These ideas involve “playing God with the weather in the hope of slowing global warming.”


The technical term is “geo-engineering.” The notion is that if humans won’t change their behavior, then the only way to avert catastrophe is to change the earth.


The goal of geo-engineering is to modify the environment, particularly the atmosphere and the oceans, in a way that mitigates the impact of increased CO2 emissions. For instance, if greenhouse gases are trapping too much heat in the atmosphere, you could, in theory, spray particles that could cause sunlight to be reflected back out into space. Or more ambitiously, you could look for a way to remove “excess” CO2 from the atmosphere.


“Playing God” is, of course, risky business, as anyone who has ever watched a science fiction movie can tell you. Our attempts to combat global warming could themselves trigger “radical shifts in the climate” and kill millions. It may also unintentionally affect fragile ecosystems and the species that depend on them.


Stated simply, the unintended consequences could be severe-we don’t know how the world works nearly well enough to predict the outcome.


But that’s not to going stop us from trying. Part of the reason for the strange new respect for the previously “downright wacky” is the fear that “some nut case” might go ahead and actually do it on his own.


It’s not hard to understand why. The same people who worry about “nut cases” have spent the past 20 years warning us that a few degrees are all that stands between us and the apocalypse. Their preferred mode of argumentation has been fearmongering.


Any attempt to question the scientific basis for man-made global warming has been compared to Holocaust denial. They’ve told people that the principal environmental problem is too many people living too long at too high a standard. Little wonder that they fear “some nutcase” taking premature actions that could kill countless numbers of people.


What’s telling is that no one in the debate seems to object to the whole idea of “playing God.” No one seems to wonder about the hubris of what is being proposed. Is there no end to human hubris? Have we gotten used to the idea that we’re really in control of everything? I mean, we speak of “designer genes” for the human species-is a “designer planet” that surprising?


So, we propose to become Frankenstein in order to stop would-be Frankensteins. If this doesn’t make sense to you, that’s because it’s nonsensical. Either way, hubris gets the monster built.


And, like in the movies, it’s the villagers who get hurt. And that’s not “wacky,” it’s evil, a very human kind of evil.




Christian Earthkeeping – Social Justice Over Climate Change (Christian Post, 101120)


At George Fox Evangelical Seminary, this semester marks the first for the Christian Earthkeeping concentration and growth in the way evangelicals are viewing environmentalism through the lenses of stewardship and poverty.


Since an announcement in May, the evangelical seminary located in Portland, Ore., has welcomed its first 15 students into the program and started them on their first course in Christian Earthkeeping. The course is part of a concentration in sustainability.


Admissions officer Sheila Bartlett says the concentration is about more than the three R’s (recycle, reuse and reduce).


“This is not about recycling … this is about good stewardship,” explained Bartlett.


On the website, the seminary notes that the evangelical church has long been silent about environmental issues. However, it cites the Bible as the anchor for Godly concern. The site quotes Genesis 2 :15, which states, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”


Evangelical leadership has historically challenged environmentalism because of theories such as global warming and climate change.


In March 2007, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins expressed opposition to evangelical activism on global warming.


This year, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., a leading evangelical theologian, posed arguments that liken ecology to a secular religion on his blog.


“[T]he 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,” he wrote in a January blog post.


But according to a 2009 report from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, sustainability studies – the study of environmental, economic and social dimensions – is catching on at many Christian institutions of higher learning.


Last year, the institution created a grant for the development of creation care courses and 24 CCCU campus applied. Six of those campuses received mini grants of $5,000 along with training and with the intent of offering courses this year.


“Something is happening that makes [the work of creation care] less adversarial and much more attractive. We have seen a sense of value and technology come together, so that it has become a sense of best practices to do what is right,” said Dr. Randy Lowry, president of Lipscomb University.


What’s happening, says James Tomowich, a senior fellow of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, is religious leaders are taking an ecology stance that is focused on people as the answer to earth’s problems rather than the initiator.


The type of environmentalism that focuses on climate change and global warming says that humans and humans’ consumption are the source of earth’s problems, Tomowich points out.


By contrast, he defines stewardship as “an acknowledgment that God created all things and that, as in the first two chapters of Genesis, God gave human beings one, dominion over creation, and two, called them to be stewards to tend the earth.”


The difference is the role of the human being. “Humans from a biblical, Christian point of view are producers and stewards of creation. From an environmentalist point of view, humans are users and polluters,” Tomowich explained.


The focus of Christian earth care then is to uplift people spiritually and economically.


The goal of Christian stewardship on the mission field is not “running in[to an impoverished community], sharing Christ with people and then running away,” Tomowich shared, but to develop communities so as to lift people from the biological and environmental problems that stem from poverty.


This is also the goal at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.


Seminary students who elect the Christian Earthkeeping concentration balance theology courses with a half credit earthkeeping courses such as “Theology and Stewardship,” “Theology and Ethic of Land” and “Poverty and Restoring Earth-keeping” throughout the fall and spring.


In the summer, students will participate in five-day retreats to learn about the environment but also, how issues like racism, sexism and global systems lead to poverty.


Daniel Brunner, a professor at the seminary, says the program is focused on the social justice aspect of sustainability rather than climate theory.


“This is the single most important social justice issue facing humankind today,” Brunner told The Oregonian. “Therefore, it needs to be the single most important social justice issue the church engages in.”




One year after spill, Gulf recovery beats expectations (National Post, 110420)


GRAND ISLE, Louisiana - A year after the worst U.S. offshore oil spill swamped the Gulf coast with petroleum and misery, Louisiana officials on Wednesday declared the hard-hit region reborn.


It is still too early to know the long-term damage to the Gulf’s rich and complex ecosystem. But, so far, predictions made at the height of the spill of an impending environmental Armageddon appear overstated.


“The bottom line is there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but the vast majority of our waters are clean, open and ready for our fishermen,” said Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal at a ceremony to mark the event’s anniversary.


“We’re inviting America to come down here, have a great time, enjoy our seafood and be part of the greatest rebirth you will ever see,” Mr. Jindal said.


It started on April 20, 2010, when an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and released nearly 5 million barrels of oil that fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states.


Louisiana bore the brunt of the BP Plc spill’s damage — about 650 miles (1,050 km) of its coastline were oiled, versus 174 miles (280 km) in Florida, 159 miles (255 km) in Mississippi and 90 miles (144 km) in Alabama.


On Grand Isle, a barrier island at the mouth of Barataria Bay which was heavily oiled, business is returning to normal after the spill shut down fisheries and caused widespread economic damage.


“Everything’s opening up again now,” said J.T. Hood, a retired offshore platform worker who came down from Donaldson, La., for some offshore fishing. “I can’t wait to get back out there.” When Mr. Hood’s son, a commercial fisherman, ventured out recently, he had a respectable haul.


“By 10 a.m. he had 75 speckled trout,” Mr. Hood said.


Nearby, local TV chef Kevin Diez whipped up the region’s signature seafood dish — shrimp etouffee - made with the famous Gulf crustacean.


The spill captured the world’s attention for the 87 days that the Macondo well spewed oil, with live images from the “spill cam” beamed around the world.


In places like Bay Jimmy and Barataria Bay, the oil lingers in the form of brownish tar and dead or dying marsh grasses. And there are still perhaps millions of barrels of oil lingering beneath the ocean surface, the effects of which are largely unknown.


But spill’s effects are far less serious than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, which marred Alaska’s environmentally-fragile coast in heavy oil, said Edward Overton, an ecologist and professor emeritus at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.


“I think it’s too early to tell, but I am extremely optimistic,” Mr. Overton said. “We’re way off what Exxon Valdez was, way off.”


But across the Gulf Coast, residents who still feel the spill’s impact fear they will be abandoned by BP and an army of contractors who swarmed over the coast in the largest oil-spill response in U.S. history, involving nearly 50,000 workers and 7,000 offshore vessels at its height.


“Oil is still washing up on our beaches and on the islands. Now that the media is gone, the BP effort has all but disappeared and so has our livelihood,” said Craig Moore, a charter boat captain in Long Beach, Mississippi.


President Barack Obama, who was criticized as reacting slowly to the spill, said the government will keep pressure on BP, and that “the job isn’t done.”


“We continue to hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.


BP has paid out about US$5-billion in claims for economic losses through a spill fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg. The spill wiped about US$70-billion from BP’s market value and spurred it to replace its gaffe-prone British chief executive with an American, Bob Dudley.


“At BP we regret that the accident happened and the impact it has had on the environment of the Gulf Coast and the people living there,” Dudley wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.




Green Buildings Hazardous to Health? Report Cites Risks of Weatherization (Fox News, 110608)


The buildings commonly referred to as “green” could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report.


That’s one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments.


The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades.


“Even with the best intentions, indoor environmental quality issues may emerge with interventions that have not been sufficiently well screened for their effects on occupant safety and health,” the report said.


To save costs and cut down on emissions, building owners typically find ways to seal off potential leaks and conserve energy. But in “weatherizing” the buildings, they also change the indoor environment.


By making buildings more airtight, building owners could increase “indoor-air contaminant concentrations and indoor-air humidity,” the report said. By adding insulation, they could trigger moisture problems. By making improvements to older homes, crews could stir up hazardous material ranging from asbestos to harmful caulking — though that problem is not unique to energy improvements.


The report did not dissuade homeowners and businesses from making the energy-efficiency upgrades. Rather, it called for a more comprehensive approach, urging organizations to track the side effects of various upgrades and minimize the “unexpected exposures and health risks” that can arise from new materials and weatherization techniques.




The Joyful Environmentalists: Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris (Christianity Today, 110617)

The duo thinks of creation care not as an onerous duty but a natural response to the goodness of God.

Interview by Andy Crouch


Creation care is a hot topic among Christians, but it is nothing new for longtime friends Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris. Peterson’s recent memoir The Pastor (HarperOne) is saturated with environmental themes and metaphors, grounded in his annual visits to the family cabin in the highlands of Montana, where he now resides. In 1983, Peter and Miranda Harris and a few friends founded a Christian ecological study center in Portugal called A Rocha (Portuguese for “the rock”). It is now an international conservation organization that has recently expanded its work in the United States. Christianity Today editor at large Andy Crouch spoke with Peterson and Harris on the banks of the Frio River in Texas at a conference on faith and technology at Laity Lodge.


Eugene, how did you come to be so involved in conservation and environmental issues?


I grew up in a very sectarian world. There was no explicit care for creation. My parents were indifferent to it, and my church was indifferent. Hunting was the closest my family or my church ever came to being involved in the world around us. But after they killed their deer or their elk, they were done.


In some ways, that indifference was good for me and for our family, because our kids discovered environmental concerns as we hiked, fished, gardened, harvested, and canned fruits. It was more of a discovery and enjoyment. When I met Peter and saw him at work and listened to him, I realized this really was something significant and biblical.


Peter Harris: It’s important to understand that A Rocha, as a movement, is driven by biblical theology. It’s not a Christian attempt to “save the planet.” It’s a response to who God is. Therefore, the role of people like Eugene has been to help us lay that foundation.


Many people—and many Christians—would be happy just to say they are “saving the planet.” How would you distinguish a biblically formed movement?


Harris: We may do many of the same things as do secular environmental organizations, but we do them for very different reasons. One question for any kind of activism is, how long are you going to be able to keep doing it? If you believe you’re going to be able, by technology, by political force, by whatever means, to save the planet, you may well get exhausted and disillusioned and depressed. These are genuine problems within the environmental movement.


If, on the other hand, you do what you do because you believe it pleases the living God, who is the Creator and whose handiwork this is, your perspective is very different. I don’t think there is any guarantee we will save the planet. I don’t think the Bible gives us much reassurance about that. But I do believe it gives God tremendous pleasure when his people do what they were created to do, which is care for what he made.


There are some obvious biblical texts to which Christians tend to turn when they think about creation—Genesis 1 and 2, and maybe Romans 8:22. Are there any others?


Peterson: The book of Exodus and the Egyptian plagues. Those 10 plagues are all exorcisms of specific aspects of Pharaoh’s control over the world. For eight months, the whole country of Egypt was turned into a theater of exorcism, item by item by item. Pharaoh was unable to do what he had done to creation, and the evil was exorcised by the command of God.


It’s extraordinary, taking away the authority of the powers that be and demonstrating that to the whole nation, maybe most of all to the Hebrews, who themselves had been under Pharaoh’s power. Here is a huge wrecking ball: smash, smash, smash, smash, and after eight months there’s nothing left of Pharaoh’s power.


Then out of this highly technologized world of Egypt—the pyramids, the statuary, the temples—they go into the wilderness, which is supposed to be empty. Yet they are all provided for, and they live by the providence of God in a most unlikely place. You can bet that they gained an appreciation for the fertility of the world they were living in—that they did not need all of Pharaoh’s technology to be provided for. That’s a great environmental text, even though I don’t think it’s ever been used that way.


Harris: Our job in reading Scripture is not primarily to find proof texts about creatures with wings or legs. Our job is to discover: Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What do they care about? And how does the Spirit enable us to live that life?


Look at Hosea 4. In the first three verses, we have moral problems: adultery and murder, bloodshed following bloodshed. But then, “Therefore the land mourns,” and “the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away” (v. 3, ESV). That’s a prophecy three millennia before we have the words for a marine crisis. Who would have thought that the fish of the sea would die? Until modern times, the fish of the sea seemed like an inexhaustible resource.


You get those ecological consequences of the broken relationship with God all the way through Scripture. But at the same time, there’s the phenomenal hope that as people are restored in Christ to a right relationship with God, there will be a restoration of our relationship to creation and healing for the creation.


How do these themes connect with Americans, who mostly live in either suburban or urban environments?


Harris: That’s one distinction between a Christian take on creation and a secular romanticism about wilderness. Think about Psalm 104. In that psalm, which echoes Genesis, you don’t just have “the sea and everything in it”; you have ships on it, working. You don’t just have the land; you have people, working. There is a radical environmentalism that wishes people were not on the planet. That’s not the biblical view at all. A Rocha in the United Kingdom actually works in the most polluted, urban borough of the country, because creation isn’t absent just because people are there. The challenge is how to restore a right way of life, rather than escaping to some wilderness paradise. Fifty percent of the planet now lives in cities. That is where we live out our relationship with creation.


As Christian conservationists, do you see urbanization as a good thing, a bad thing, or something neutral?


Harris: My biblical theology means I cannot see it as a bad thing. The ultimate biblical vision is the heavenly city. Our challenge is the redemption of the urban, not the consecration of wilderness.


Peterson: I agree, and I don’t think we realize how much of our view of wilderness comes to us through the Romantic movement. Romantic literature was written at the height of the industrial city, with its exploitation, poverty, and child labor. In reaction to all that, they gave us the concept of nature as romantic. But it’s not romantic.


Harris: It may not even be natural. Sir Ghillean Prance, who has studied the Amazon rainforest for decades, believes that the very diversity of the rainforest is a result of gardening. The human beings who lived there selectively used it and tended it, and that is the best way to account for its extraordinary botanical diversity.


Even biologically, the idea of a pristine, teeming world without human beings probably isn’t accurate. Britain is certainly a case in point. The original British form of vegetation was a pretty monocultural oak forest. It was only as farming came and we had a diversity of habitats that we had the biodiversity that we cherish on the British Isles today.


So we should understand the human presence on the planet in God’s purposes as a blessing.


A Rocha focuses on conservation. In a biblical sense, what is it that we are to conserve?


Peterson: For me and for my family, our primary entry point to conservation—to keeping—was keeping the Sabbath. At one point we decided we were going to keep the Sabbath. We kept a regular Monday Sabbath because as a pastor, Sunday was a work day. We’re still doing that. Our kids grew up doing that. If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life. And it doesn’t necessarily have to do with seeing birds or foxes or whatever. Sometimes it is your own kids—putting them in a different setting and bringing them home refreshed.


Harris: It’s important to recognize that we are losing species on the planet at an unprecedented rate since industrialization. Now, if in Psalm 104 it says, “In wisdom [God] made them all,” and if God gave us the work of caring for creation, then clearly, we aren’t fulfilling the biblical vision.


But I think the Christian vision of conservation is exactly as Eugene framed it. It’s a wider one that has to do with human flourishing, that has to do with recognizing that a ravaged creation has wrecked not just species but God’s intention for time, for Sabbath, and that in turn wrecks families and whole societies.


Some Christians believe that prioritizing environmental concerns limits economic growth and consequently the prospects of the poor. Increasingly, one hears the charge that environmentalists care more about birds than people, but more pointedly that they care more about species than about human beings who are poor.


Harris: Every Christian leader I’ve ever met in poor parts of the world understands that they live an unmediated relationship with the creation. That means that if there is damage done to the creation, there is damage done to the human community. I would argue that the economic possibilities lie now in the building of a sustainable economy; that’s where the smart money is today. In any case, an economy founded on degrading the creation is theologically incoherent. The old model that you can make your money any which way and then give some of it away when you’re rich enough is lacking biblical warrant. A much better way is to make money in a way that impacts the poor and the planet beneficially.


Clearly there is a growing enthusiasm among Christians for creation care. But enthusiasm can go wrong. What do you see as the deepest risks in our current interest in environmental concerns?


Harris: I think eco-judgmentalism is a real danger. This is not a matter of finding another five quick rules to keep you on the right side of God. This is not about what we do; this is a change or a development in the depth of our relationship with God himself. It’s about everything, not just about a narrow slice of topics. It would be disastrous if we turn the biblical vision into a code that “good” Christians follow—something like, thou shalt eat muesli, wear sandals, and look miserable.


I think the environmental movement has been perceived as judgmental and angry, claiming moral high ground and issuing rules with disapproval. Recently a social scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology told me that studies have shown one of the marker personality traits among environmentalists is anxiety. The Christian approach is very different: it is celebratory and grateful and hopeful.