Ethics News

News: Environmentalism


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


>>The green fervour: Is environmentalism the new religion? (National Post, 070212)

**Czech prez: Environmentalism is new communism: ‘Biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’ (WorldNetDaily, 070320)

Bottom-line environmentalists (Ottawa Citizen, 970317)

Feisty environmental movement defends ecological paradise (970818)

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

Smog Spreads over Indonesia (971106)

Pollution in Indian cities gets deadlier (971106)

Diseases Tied to Destruction of Environment (980420)

Stardate 2050: Interstellar Search for Starbucks Begins (Foxnews, 020709)

Unsustainable: It’s the third world, not the West (NRO, 020828)

Taking Environmentalists Seriously: Risks (NRO, 021115)

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

Three Plead Guilty to Ecoterror Crimes (FN, 040112)

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

Arson suspected in mass blaze (Washington Times, 041207)

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)

Poor Al [Sierra Club responsible for the New Orleans disaster] (, 050915)

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

Keeping Our Cool (, 051213)

Kyoto Claims (Foxnews, 051212)

Human life vs. the Earth (, 051214)

Time to Bury Kyoto and Move On (, 051222)

2005 Ties for 2nd Warmest Year Ever, But Cause Still Uncertain (Foxnews, 060109)

New source of global warming gas found: plants (WorldNetDaily, 060111)

Big freeze leaves trail of deaths across Asia (The Scotsman, 060109)

Green Evangelicals Stand Against Global Warming (Christian Post, 060209)

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

Stewards of nature (, 060212)

Evangelical Activism: Stewardship Responsibilities (, 060215)

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)

Children ‘bad for planet’ (WorldNetDaily, 070507)

The Left’s Global Warming Solution: No More Children! (, 070509)





>>The green fervour: Is environmentalism the new religion? (National Post, 070212)


Joseph Brean, National Post


In his new book Apollo’s Arrow, ambitiously subtitled The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything, Vancouver-based author and mathematician David Orrell set out to explain why the mathematical models scientists use to predict the weather, the climate and the economy are not getting any better, just more refined in their uncertainty.


What he discovered, in trying to sketch the first principles of prophecy, was the religious nature of modern environmentalism.


This is not to say that fearing for the future of the planet is irrational in the way supernatural belief arguably is, just that — in its myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, its saints and heretics, its iconography and tithing, its reliance on prophecy, even its schisms — the green movement now exhibits the same psychology of compliance as religion.


Dr. Orrell is no climate-change denier. He calls himself green. But he understands the unjustified faith that arises from the psychological need tomake predictions.


“The track record of any kind of long-distance prediction is really bad, but everyone’s still really interested in it. It’s sort of a way of picturing the future. But we can’t make long-term predictions of the economy, and we can’t make long-term predictions of the climate,” Dr. Orrell said in an interview. After all, he said, scientists cannot even write the equation of a cloud, let alone make a workable model of the climate.


Formerly of University College London, Dr. Orrell is best known among scientists for arguing that the failures of weather forecasting are not due to chaotic effects — as in the butterfly that causes the hurricane — but to errors of modelling. He sees the same problems in the predictions of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which he calls “extremely vague,” and says there is no scientific reason to think the climate is more predictable than the weather.


“Models will cheerfully boil away all the water in the oceans or cover the world in ice, even with pre-industrial levels of Co2,” he writes in Apollo’s Arrow . And so scientists use theoretical concepts like “flux adjustments” to make the models agree with reality. When models about the future climate are in agreement, “it says more about the self-regulating group psychology of the modelling community than it does about global warming and the economy.”


In explaining such an arcane topic for a general audience, he found himself returning again and again to religious metaphors to explain our faith in predictions, referring to the “weather gods” and the “images of almost biblical wrath” in the literature. He sketched the rise of “the gospel of deterministic science,” a faith system that was born with Isaac Newton and died with Albert Einstein. He said his own physics education felt like an “indoctrination” into the use of models, and that scientists in his field, “like priests... feel they are answering a higher calling.”


“If you go back to the oracles of ancient Greece, prediction has always been one function of religion,” he said. “This role is coveted, and so there’s not very much work done at questioning the prediction, because it’s almost as if you were going to the priest and saying, ‘Look, I’m not sure about the Second Coming of Christ.’ “


He is not the first to make this link. Forty years ago, shortly after Rachel Carson launched modern environmentalism by publishing Silent Spring, leading to the first Earth Day in 1970, a Princeton history professor named LynnWhite wrote a seminal essay called “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.”


“By destroying pagan animism [the belief that natural objects have souls], Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects,” he wrote in a 1967 issue of . “Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.” It was a prescient claim. In a 2003 speech in San Francisco, best-selling author Michael Crichton was among the first to explicitly close the circle, calling modern environmentalism “the religion of choice for urban atheists ... a perfect 21st century re-mapping of traditional JudeoChristian beliefs andmyths.”


Today, the popularity of British author James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis — that the Earth itself functions as a living organism — confirms the return of a sort of idolatrous animism, a religion of nature. The recent IPCC report, and a week’s worth of turgid headlines, did not create this faith, but certainly made it more evident.


It can be felt in the frisson of piety that comes with lighting an energy-saving light bulb, a modern votive candle.


It is there in the pious propaganda of media outlets like the, Toronto Star, which on Jan. 28 made the completely implausible claim that, “The debate about greenhouse gas emissions appears to be over.”


It can be seen in the public ritual of cycling to work, in the veneer of saintliness on David Suzuki and Al Gore (the rush for tickets to the former vice-president’s upcoming appearance crashed the server at the University of Toronto this week), in the high-profile conversion (honest or craven) of GeorgeW. Bush, and in the sinful guilt of throwing a plastic bottle in the garbage.


Adherents make arduous pilgrimages and call them ecotourism. Newspapers publish the iconography of polar bears. The IPCC reports carry the weight of scripture.


John Kay of the Financial Times wrote last month, about future climate chaos: “Christians look to the Second Coming, Marxists look to the collapse of capitalism, with the same mixture of fear and longing ... The discovery of global warming filled a gap in the canon ... [and] provides justification for the link between the sins of our past and the catastrophe of our future.”


Like the tithe in Judaism and Christianity, the religiosity of green is seen in the suspiciously precise mathematics that allow companies such as Bullfrog Power or Offsetters to sell the supposed neutralization of the harmful emissions from household heating, air travel or transportation to a concert.


It is in the schism that has arisen over whether to renew or replace Kyoto, which, even if the scientific skeptics are completely discounted, has been a divisive force for environmentalists.


What was once called salvation — a nebulous state of grace — is now known as sustainability, a word that is equally resistant to precise definition. There is even a hymn, When the North Pole Melts, by James G. Titus, a scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is not exactly How Great Thou Art, but serves a similar purpose.


Environmentalism even has its persecutors, embodied in the Bush White House attack dogs who have conducted no less than an Inquisition against climate scientists, which failed to bring them to heel but instead inspired potential martyrs. Of course, as religions tend to do, environmentalists commit persecution of their own, which has created heretics out of mere skeptics.


All of this might be fine if religions had a history of rational scientific inquiry and peaceful, tolerant implementation of their beliefs. As it is, however, many religions, environmentalism included, continue to struggle with the curse of literalism, and the resultant extremism.


“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think all this is wrapped up in our belief that we can predict the future,” said Dr. Orrell. “What we need is more of a sense that we’re out of our depth, and that’s more likely to promote a lasting change in behaviour.”


Projections are useful to “provoke ideas and aid thinking about the future,” but as he writes in the book, “they should not be taken literally.”


The “fundamental danger of deterministic, objective science [is that] like a corny, overformulaic film, it imagines and presents the world as a predictable object. It has no sense of the mystery, magic, or surprise of life.”


The solution, he thinks, is to adopt what the University of Toronto’s Thomas Homer-Dixon calls a “prospective mind” — an intellectual stance that is “proactive, anticipatory, comfortable with change, and not surprised by surprise.”


In short, if we are to be good, future problem solvers, we must not be blinded by prophecy.


“I think [this stance] opens up the possibility for a more emotional and therefore more effective response,” Dr. Orrell said. “There’s a sense in which uncertainty is actually scarier and more likely to make us act than if you have bureaucrats saying, ‘Well, it’s going to get warmer by about three degrees, and we know what’s going to happen.’”




**Czech prez: Environmentalism is new communism: ‘Biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity’ (WorldNetDaily, 070320)


As the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepares to question former Vice President Al Gore tomorrow morning about global warming, Czech President Vaclav Klaus is warning congressmen that environmental extremism is the modern equivalent of communism.


Responding yesterday to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and former House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., the Czech leader said: “It becomes evident that while discussing climate we are not witnessing a clash of views about the environment, but a clash of views about human freedom.”


“As someone who lived under communism for most of my life I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not communism or its various softer variants,” said Klaus, responding to questions posed by the two lawmakers. “Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism.”


He added, “The so-called climate change and especially man-made climate change has become one of the most dangerous arguments aimed at distorting human efforts and public policies in the whole world.”


In a letter to Klaus, Barton, the committee’s ranking Republican, and Hastert, ranking Republican on the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, asked the Czech president to comment on global warming, based on his background as an economist and political leader, especially since he is familiar with European responses to global warming.


“We believe your perspective on the political, economic and moral aspects of the climate change debate can be useful as we seek to assess the potential impacts of proposed U.S. climate-related regulations on the economic well-being of its citizens and their ability to contribute to future economic vitality and innovation here and abroad,” Barton and Hastert said.


Klaus urges policymakers to rely on free-market principles, not government coercion, in formulating public policy. In his written response to the House committee members, the Czech leader said:


“I warn against adopting regulations based on the so-called precautionary principle which the environmentalists use to justify their recommendations, the clear benefit of which they are not able to prove.” Klaus added, “Responsible politics should take into account the opportunity costs of such proposals and be aware of the fact that the wasteful environmentalist policies are adopted to the detriment of other policies, thus neglecting many other important needs of millions of people all over the world. Each policy measure must be based on a cost-benefit analysis.”


Last month, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, congratulated Klaus for speaking out against the fears of man-made global warming. Klaus had told a Czech newspaper on Feb. 8 that fears of catastrophic man-made global warming were a “myth” and critiqued the U.N.’s report, calling it “political.” Klaus also said other government leaders would speak out, but “political correctness strangles their voice.”


“President Klaus is to be commended for his courage in speaking not only the truth about the science behind global warming fears, but the reality of the politicization of the U.N.,” Inhofe said. “President Klaus’s reported comments questioning the fears of catastrophic man-made global warming are in line with a growing chorus of scientists, peer-reviewed literature and government leaders who are finally realizing the true motivations behind climate scares. The scientific and political momentum is clearly shifting away from climate alarmists to climate realists,” Inhofe said.




Bottom-line environmentalists (Ottawa Citizen, 970317)


Doing well, doing good: Growing movement sees business as force that can save the planet.


It’s the most unusual of environmental organizations — a movement that sees big business as the force that can save the world from ecological ruin and the profit motive as the engine that can help build a sustainable society.


Its vision of an environmentally sound future is breathtakingly idealistic and profoundly revolutionary. Yet many of its most eloquent apostles reside in corporate offices and make no apologies for worrying as much about balance sheets as the fate of the Earth.


The two ultimately go hand in hand, according to The Natural Step, an international movement that has just begun to build momentum in Canada. The Natural Step (Canada) Inc. only became a licensed member of the international organization at the end of February. But in communities as diverse as Ottawa, Charlottetown, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Belleville, Ont. and Vancouver, local groups have already formed to spread the gospel to corporate executives, municipal leaders and the public.


Organizations ranging from Ontario Hydro and B.C. Hydro to Island Telephone Company Ltd. of Prince Edward Island have already shown interest. And efforts are under way to attract top corporate executives from across the country to a conference on The Natural Step (TNS) in Kingston, Ont. in the fall.


“Companies sign on because they think they can make money on it, not for altruistic reasons,” says Kelly Baxter, a Montreal-based executive member of TNS Canada. “They realize they can do well by doing good.”


Instead of denouncing industry as the villain behind environmental problems, The Natural Step looks to business’s ingenuity and adaptability as the solution.


“Pollution equals waste; waste equals inefficiency; inefficiency equals expensive,” says Brian Nattrass, a Vancouver-based member of the TNS Canada executive. “We are trying to help companies discover that it actually pays to be non-polluting.”


TNS helps companies cut waste and reduce their dependence on non-renewable resources. Its long-term goal is to change the economy from a linear system, in which natural resources are converted into wastes that nature can’t reabsorb, to a cyclical system, in which any wastes are converted into new resources.


TNS’s arrival in Canada is being welcomed by traditional environmental watchdog groups.


“I think it has a very good science-based approach that has an ethic and a responsibility built into it,” said Beatrice Olivastri, past president of Friends of the Earth. “Business has a responsibility to be part of the solution and that’s very much the way The Natural Step can work. It’s a kind of initiative that business can feel not threatened by but challenged by.”


In Sweden, where The Natural Step was born in the late ‘80s, corporations as diverse as McDonald’s, furniture-maker IKEA and appliance giant Electrolux subscribe to The Natural Step approach to achieving sustainable practices. So do farmers, the state railway, forestry and construction companies, more than 50 municipalities and a major petroleum company.


The movement has quickly gone global, spreading to such countries as the Netherlands, the U.K., France, Australia and the United States.


In the U.S., TNS has launched a program to provide sustainability training to interested corporate leaders and their employees in the heavily industrialized Great Lakes basin. And Interface Inc., a Fortune 500 company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of carpet tiles, formally declared last June that it would embark on a redesign of its business practices to conform to TNS tenets of sustainability.


Chairman and chief executive officer Ray Anderson, who is to be one of the speakers at the Kingston conference, has instructed his workforce “to reach sustainability and then to become restorative, putting more back than we ourselves take from the earth.” That mission is already having an impact at Interface’s plant in Belleville, Ont.


“We led the corporation last year in the accomplishment of our environmental objectives,” says Jann Van Stedum, director marketing at Interface Systems Canada.


Far from hurting the bottom line, such efforts helped improve the financial performance of the Canadian subsidiary, which employs about 100 people in the manufacture and sale of carpet tile and broadloom for the Canadian and U.S. markets. Waste-reduction initiatives that cut landfill shipments in half last year, after another 50-per -cent reduction in 1995, “saved us a lot of money,” Mr. Van Stedum says. “Everything that doesn’t go into the product and can’t be sold is waste — a waste of money, a waste of effort and a waste of material.”


Like other Interface plants, the Belleville operation is now working on techniques to recycle petroleum-based carpets so they can be used to manufacture new carpeting.


With such initiatives, Mr. Anderson is looking beyond quarterly financial results to position his company to thrive in a future of rising populations and diminishing natural resources. “It’s not just the right thing to do,” he has said. “It’s also the smart thing to do when a manufacturing company is 100-per-cent dependent on petroleum, a non-renewable resource, for its raw materials and its energy-intensive processes.”


The Natural Step originated when Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert, one of Sweden’s leading cancer researchers, began working with 50 of the country’s top scientists to outline the basic conditions necessary for a sustainable society. What finally emerged were four system conditions that The Natural Step presents as the basic guideposts to a sustainable future:


(*) Substances from the Earth’s crust must not systematically increase in nature. Fossil fuels and metals, for example, must not be extracted faster than their slow redeposit into the Earth’s crust. Otherwise, their buildup in the ecosphere will cause irreversible changes.


(*) Substances produced by society must not systematically increase in nature. In other words, chemicals and other substances must not be produced at a faster pace than they can be broken down and integrated into nature’s cycles.


(*) The physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not systematically be diminished. For example, resources such as forests or fish stocks must not be harvested beyond their natural capacity to regenerate because our health and prosperity depend upon them.


(*) Natural resources must be used fairly and efficiently: i.e, basic human needs must be met in the most resource-efficient way and resources must be distributed justly if human prosperity and social stability are to be achieved under the previous three system conditions.


Those four conditions may seem radical, but Dr. Robert, the TNS founder, maintains they are ultimately non-negotiable if society is to avoid destroying the foundations of life on a finite planet. “Since we are now five billion people on Earth, trying to become 10, it is as if humanity were running into a funnel where the walls of the funnel are those four restrictions.”


However, companies that embrace TNS cannot immediately bring their operations into line with the stringent conditions, notes Ms. Baxter. “They are designed to be used initially as beacons, to guide long-term planning.”


IKEA, for example, now offers a line of furniture containing no metals and made of wood harvested through sustainable forestry, that complies with TNS conditions.


In addition to removing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from its refrigerators and reducing emissions from its production processes, Electrolux is creating appliances that consume less energy and water. The result, according to company reports, is increasing sales.


One of the great achievements of The Natural Step is that it gives the world a clear and understandable definition of sustainability that is scientifically unassailable, says Kevin Brady, senior adviser of sustainable production and product policy at Environment Canada.


“It’s hard to argue with the laws of thermodynamics.”


Brady recently made a trip to Sweden and the Netherlands to see first-hand how companies are incorporating sustainable development into their business strategies.


“The Natural Step has translated the environment from an emotional issue into a scientific and business issue,” he says. “They don’t sell it as an environmental program, they sell it as a business strategy.”


It also has broad appeal because it holds out a vision of a sustainable society that is also prosperous,” says Baxter.


The Natural Step gets down to basics instead of wasting energy on endless debates about how many parts per billion of various harmful pollutants government should allow industry to emit.


“The nice thing about it is that it operates independently of government. . . . We are not holding out for them; we don’t need them,” says Baxter, formerly the director of communications for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy established by former prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1989.


Still, The Natural Step will be a harder sell in Canada than it has been in Sweden, where it is championed by no less a figure than the king, or other parts of northern Europe, which are generally much more environmentally conscious.


“It will be much more difficult to introduce into Canada because of its resource-based economy,” Baxter acknowledges.


Some question how firmly TNS can take root in North America in an era of deregulation and fierce competition, when the pressure for strong quarterly results makes it difficult for many corporate executives to think seriously about the long-term sustainability and profitability of their operations.


“We have to recognize that it’s going to be years before really big changes will be seen,” says Steve Hounsell, of the environmental responsibility and leadership department of Ontario Hydro, and also a member of TNS Canada’s steering committee.


TNS Canada is now concentrating on building up educational materials and training TNS trainers. It has been advised not to seek media attention at this stage by Paul Hawken, the former American businessman turned environmental guru and best-selling author (Growing A Business, The Ecology of Commerce) who is co-chair with Robert of TNS International.


When it formed less than two years ago, the U.S. organization was quickly inundated with more appeals for information than it could handle.


“People are hungry for this,” says TNS Canada’s Mr. Nattrass. “Thoughtful people in industry know they can’t keep polluting the earth they depend upon.”




Feisty environmental movement defends ecological paradise (970818)


KILOMETER 88, Venezuela (AP) — Not long ago, environmentalists were as rare in Venezuela as the Orinocan crocodile. Today they’re a vibrant movement defending a modern-day Eden from chain saws, bulldozers and the pollution of rapid economic development.


Blossoming since the 1970s into a half-dozen groups that have full-time staffs and scores of other volunteer organizations, environmentalists are using their growing muscle with some success.


Just this year, they helped shoot down an odd government proposal to license jaguar hunting with the purported aim of raising funds to protect that endangered species.


Local chapters of the Audubon Society and other groups brought national attention to the still-unexplained destruction of coral reefs near Caribbean islands in pristine Morrocoy National Park, and to oil spills that killed thousands of fish near Lake Maracaibo, the heart of Venezuela’s oil industry.


Now they’re engaged in their biggest fight yet: the recent legalization of gold mining in Imataca reserve, a Holland-sized chunk of Amazon rain forest near the Kilometer 88 region.


In the heart of Bolivar state’s mining field, near Brazil, the gold-rich Kilometer 88 region is so named because of its distance from a famed mining site, El Dorado.


Activists filed a Supreme Court lawsuit to block mining in Imataca and won support from native Indian groups, key congressmen and the influential Roman Catholic bishops conference.


The clout of the environmental groups “is what’s keeping the Imataca plan on the front pages of newspapers,” said Diego Diaz, executive director of the Nature Defense Foundation, one of Venezuela’s largest and oldest environmental organizations.


The stakes for this South American nation of 22 million people are considerable. Lying beneath its surface are the largest proven oil reserves outside the Middle East, along with gold and diamond deposits thought to be among Latin America’s richest lodes and worth billions of dollars.


There also are extensive tracts of coal, timber, bauxite for aluminum, and other major resources, including hydroelectric power from giant dams on the Caroni River, an offshoot of the mighty Orinoco.


For all that, four of every five Venezuelans live in poverty, by official estimate. The government says it can help create jobs and strengthen the economy by developing natural resources: It plans to double oil production during the next decade.


Americo Martin, a government consultant, said those who try to block development are in effect promoting poverty and starvation.


Environmentalists “prefer that entire families die rather than have a single tree fall,” he said.


Environmentalists stress they’re not opposed to economic development. They just want it done without destroying the habitats of harpy eagles, fresh water dolphins, neon-colored butterflies and saber-toothed payara fish so ferocious they eat piranha for breakfast.


They’re dubious of government pledges to enforce regulations, and claim many mining companies that are winning concessions have poor environmental track records.


“The potential destruction here is much larger than in other parts of the world” because of Venezuela’s ecological richness, said Wouter Veening of the Switzerland-based World Conservation Union, which compiles the standard list of endangered species.


Venezuela is home to snow-capped Andean mountains, the world’s highest waterfall, one of the Caribbean’s longest coastlines, one of the continent’s largest fresh-water lakes, and two of the world’s six largest national parks.


Henri Pittier National Park alone has 600 species of bird. That’s nearly as many as the entire area between Alaska and Mexico’s northern border, even though the park is one-third the size of Rhode Island.


“There is nothing closer to earthly paradise than what we are flying over,” Cesar Perez Vivas, head of Congress’ environmental committee, marveled during a trip over Imataca’s green sea of trees, some of which have trunks thicker than a man is tall.


Such treasures are increasingly threatened. Some species found in Venezuela are on the World Conservation Union’s endangered list, including the Orinocan crocodile, spectacled bear, military macaw, giant anteater and hawksbill turtle.


Travel agents who want to turn the country into an eco-tourism destination say the business could be ruined before it even takes off.


The government of President Rafael Caldera has been criticized as being lax on ecological protection. For instance, it plans to run a nearly 300-mile high-voltage power line through the rain forests of Canaima National Park.


The park is among about 100 U.N.-designated World Heritage Sites. Its mysterious flat-topped mountains called “tepuis” inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventure novel “The Lost World.”


Canadian mining firm Placer Dome and the Venezuelan government want to carve an open pit nearly a mile square and one-fifth of a mile deep in Kilometer 88 near Canaima and Imataca to extract what is thought to be the biggest gold deposit in Latin America.


Government officials contend the Imataca plan actually would lessen ecological damage because major mining companies would bring in sophisticated technology. Illegal miners who knock down trees with high-pressure water hoses, and dump mercury and cyanide into rivers, also would be better regulated, they say.


Environmentalists are unconvinced. One of the Caldera administration’s harshest critics is former President Carlos Andres Perez, who in 1977 created Latin America’s first Environmental Ministry and established 23 of the nation’s 43 national parks.


“Environmental protection policies ceased to exist with the current government,” Perez said.




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 percent of the air pollution in New Delhi.




Diseases Tied to Destruction of Environment (980420)


NEW YORK — Experts warned a conference Saturday of fresh outbreaks of Lyme disease in the United States and tropical diseases across the developing world unless people found better ways to manage the natural environment.


They said new menaces like the AIDS and Ebola viruses and old scourges like malaria were the direct result of interfering with the environment — destroying forests, wiping out animal species and polluting waters.


Preserving biodiversity, or the variety of different species of animals and plants, is crucial to preventing even bigger epidemics of infectious disease, they said.


“It is a warning to us when we are too active in these areas,” Dr. Jaap Goudsmit, a top AIDS expert at the University of Amsterdam, told the conference on the value of plants, animals and microbes to human health.


Goudsmit said frightening new viruses threaten to leap from monkeys into people. “There’s a lot to come if we continue our current behavior,” he said.


He said studies he had done showed monkeys alone harbored many viruses. “We are actually very worried because we are finding so many viruses in these monkeys that humans are susceptible to,” he told the conference, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History.


People catch the viruses when they eat monkeys or chimpanzees, capture them as pets, or use them in scientific laboratories. And as species of primates are wiped out, the viruses will be forced to seek new hosts, perhaps humans, Goudsmit said.


Richard Ostfeld of the University of Connecticut found that outbreaks of Lyme disease in the Eastern United States were linked to acorn production in forests and the population of deer mice.


The mice carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. They are bitten by ticks, which can then transmit the infection to people. The result is fever, rash and long-lasting health effects.


Ostfeld said his most recent research showed a record acorn harvest in the last year.


“In 1999, because of the life cycle of the tick ... we should see extremely high numbers of cases of Lyme disease unless we can prevent it,” Ostfeld predicted.


Wiping out mice might work but is virtually impossible. What Ostfeld did find was that many animals carried the Lyme agent but only a few transmitted it to ticks. If the bacterium can be spread among a large number of different species of animal, it will be less likely to pass to humans.


“Those ticks that feed on a mouse are highly likely to become infected with Lyme disease,” Ostfeld said. “Those ticks that feed on other species are highly unlikely.”


States with high numbers of other animals living in the forests, such as rabbits, raccoons and birds, have lower instances of Lyme disease, even though the tick carrier is common in all the states.


The answer seemed obvious to Ostfeld: Encourage many different animals to live in the forest. “Ecology should be seen as a crucial ally ... of the health sciences,” he said.


David Molyneux, director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said diseases such as leishmaniasis (which causes skin lesions and permanent damage), river blindness, malaria and sleeping sickness had all become more common as people cleared forests.


The mosquitoes and flies that spread such diseases adapted quickly to the new environments, he told the conference. Malaria and sleeping sickness, for example, are spreading to new parts of Africa as rain forests are cleared.


“Now they are adapting rapidly to cocoa and coffee plantations,” he said. “Leishmaniasis is closely associated with mining, logging and road-building.”




Stardate 2050: Interstellar Search for Starbucks Begins (Foxnews, 020709)


By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos


WASHINGTON — The planet is set to expire in the year 2050 due to the over-consumption of natural resources, with the United States being the worst offender, according to a report expected to be released Tuesday.


The World Wildlife Fund is keeping a tight grip on its “Living Planet” study, but the U.K.’s Guardian Unlimited Observer Monday said the report warns that the human race will no longer be able to sustain itself on this planet in 50 years.


“In a damning condemnation of Western society’s high consumptive levels, [the report] adds that the extra planets [the equivalent size of Earth] will be required by the year 2050 as existing resources are exhausted,” the Observer wrote.


Kyla Evans, a spokeswoman for the WFF in Sweden, said the general theme of the British article is accurate, adding that the report is meant to set off alarm bells against rapid resource depletion. But neither she nor members of the Washington, D.C.-based staff would comment further on the Earth’s expected expiration date.


“We’re continuing to look at the depletion of world resources,” Evans said. “In the report, we have figures for most of the countries in the world, how much they are using and what it means to each person.”


Not everyone is buying into the “chicken little” hysteria.


“At the end of the day I don’t think WWF credibility is much different from the World Wrestling Federation,” said Jerry Taylor, director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Department for the Cato Institute, alluding to WWF’s recent success in a lawsuit against the wrestling organization that forced a name change to World Wrestling Entertainment to avoid confusion.


“I think someone needs to start drug testing employees of the World Wildlife Fund,” he added.


“It’s the ‘chicken little syndrome’ that we are all going to die unless we mend our evil ways,” said Myron Ebell, a global warming and environmental analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


The WWF’s 2000 “Living Planet” study found that the demands being placed on the Earth’s natural resources were already 30 percent higher than the Earth’s ability to sustain them. It said the planet lost more than 30 percent of its natural resources in the last three decades and that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will be experiencing water shortages.


The international organization contends that such rapid depletion has already resulted in extended periods of drought and famine in underdeveloped, poor countries, and will continue to add to extreme weather patterns and natural disasters if consumption, which includes deforestation, fish depopulation and energy, is not curbed on a wide-scale basis.


In addition, Monday’s article said the study will also reveal that the world’s forest cover decreased 12 percent between 1970 and 2002, the Earth’s biodiversity dropped by a third and freshwater ecosystems shrank by 55 percent. It blames the United States for most of the burden on the environment.


Pro-environment officials like David Cherry, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the numbers are frightening and the race to industrialize the Third World creates a challenge, but he expressed concern that the WWF’s putting a date on the Earth’s inability to sustain itself gives detractors too much ammunition to attack their goals.


Ebell said that despite the WWF’s claims, other studies are widely available that indicate that not only is agricultural production higher than ever, air and water in developed regions are cleaner and energy sources are more abundant.


Ebell acknowledged that in the poorer areas of the world, such as the Amazon basin, forests are being depleted faster, but overall the loss is not as devastating as the WFF and supporters contend. And, he added, the panic-stricken don’t take into account “human ingenuity.”


“Our only limit to natural resources is human ingenuity,” he said. “For a while human beings had to use wood for energy and now we use coal and tomorrow we will use something else. If you agreed that the only place to find energy was in whale oil … well, yes, this would be conceived as a crisis, I suppose.”




Unsustainable: It’s the third world, not the West (NRO, 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 (NRO, 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 (FN, 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 percent since 1970, notwithstanding increases of 40 percent in population, 43 percent in energy use, and 165 percent 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 percent. Since 1976 concentrations of the six central air pollutants have declined between 28 and 98 percent.


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 percent to 94 percent. 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 percent even as output from the relevant industries has increased 40 percent. Dioxin emissions have declined 92 percent since 1987. Annual wetland losses have declined 80 percent 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 suspected in mass blaze (Washington Times, 041207)


INDIAN HEAD, Md. — More than 40 expensive houses under construction in Charles County were burned early yesterday in a development that has drawn criticism from environmentalists because it is next to a nature preserve.


Arson is suspected in at least four of the 41 blazes, a state fire official said. The houses, 12 of which were destroyed, were priced at $400,000 to $500,000.


Ecoterrorism is one of the motives that would be investigated, said Joe Parris, a spokesman for the FBI, which joined the investigation last night.


“From what you can see, it would appear that way, but we’re not ready to start pointing the finger yet,” Mr. Parris said. “Right now, it’s a local investigation, and the FBI is not willing to speculate into individuals or groups that might be responsible.”


There was no immediate claim of responsibility.


No injuries were reported in the fires in the Hunters Brooke development off Route 225, next to the state’s Mattawoman Natural Environment Area.


Damage was estimated at at least $10 million. If the fires are deemed to be acts of ecoterrorism, it will be one of the most expensive known acts of ecoterrorism in the United States.


Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor refused to disclose what led investigators to suspect arson in four of the fires.


“At this point, our knowledge of the methodology is shared by us and the perpetrator, and we don’t want to share that with anyone else,” he said. “We’re not going to tip our hand.”


The blazes were reported before 5 a.m., drawing more than 100 firefighters from Charles, Prince George’s, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties to the 319-unit subdivision about 25 miles south of the District.


The houses, on lots of about a quarter-acre each, were spread across a 10-acre area, Marshal Taylor said.


“This was a very, very affluent neighborhood under construction,” he said. “I have never in 20 years seen the magnitude of destruction that I have seen today.”


The houses were in varying stages of development, and the subdivision was largely unoccupied. A few houses were completed, while wooden frames were just erected on others.


Only a few houses were occupied, but none of those was burned down. The occupants escaped the area unharmed.


Antoine Potts, 14, who lived in one of the few occupied houses, first detected the fires burning two houses away.


“I woke up to a smell, like a barbecue smell,” he said.


He woke up his parents and two siblings, ages 10 and 3, and they rushed out of their home.


“As we got up, we could see fire everywhere,” Antoine said.


Antoine’s father, Derrick, and mother, Terri Rookard, drove the children to safety, passing by dozens of burning houses.


“There were flames everywhere, and ashes were raining,” Mr. Potts said.


Jacque Hightower was one of the people looking forward to moving into a new home in the subdivision.


“We were going to settlement in about two days, and we woke up this morning and looked at the news, and my wife just screamed, ‘Our house is on fire,’ so I just came down today to try to find out what’s going on,” Mr. Hightower told WRC-TV (Channel 4).


Developers had hired a security company to protect the houses, but residents said the security officers left the area at about 4 a.m.


In addition to the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting local authorities in their investigation. An estimated 30 investigators were on the scene throughout the day.


The number of homes and the distance between the homes prompted speculation that the fires might have been intentionally set as an act of ecoterrorism.


Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and a citizens group opposed the Hunters Brooke development and another subdivision because of their proximity to the Araby Bog, a 50-acre magnolia bog.


Magnolia bogs are wetland areas that provide a unique environment for plants and animals, and the Araby Bog is one of the largest and most pristine bogs in the mid-Atlantic region, conservationists said.


The Sierra Club said yesterday it condemned “all acts of violence in the name of the environment.”


“The perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Bruce Hamilton, the group’s conservation director. “That type of criminal behavior does nothing to further the cause of promoting safe and livable communities.”


In recent years, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a loosely structured group that opposes commercialism and industry in the name of preserving the environment, has taken responsibility for many similar incidents nationwide.


ELF did not respond to an e-mail sent by The Washington Times to its spokesman yesterday.


In the past several years, ELF has burned down apartment complexes in San Diego and a ski resort in Colorado, vandalized sport utility vehicles at dealerships in Virginia, and destroyed construction sites and equipment in Pennsylvania. Total damage caused by the group is estimated at more than $100 million.


In 2002, a top FBI domestic terrorism official called ELF and the Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group, the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist organizations. No one has been injured in any of the incidents.


The Sierra Club called the Charles County development “quintessential sprawl” in its fall 2000 sprawl report, noting that it is far from existing infrastructure and “threatens a fragile wetland and important historical sites near the Chesapeake Bay.”


In 2003, a group of residents and environmental protection groups brought a suit against the Army Corps of Engineers, which authorized a permit for a sewer system and a road crossing as part of the Hunters Brooke subdivision, built by Lennar Homes of La Plata.


Arguing that the subdivision would cause severe environmental damage to the Araby Bog, the plaintiffs said the Corps’ permission violated the Clean Water Act’s restriction that such a permit be granted only when minimal harm would be done to the environment.


Represented by Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR), the plaintiffs received only a partial victory this summer when a judge remanded the case to the Corps, allowing the agency to provide a more detailed explanation for the merits of the permit.


Kristi M. Smith, a staff lawyer with IPR, said construction was not affected by the judge’s order and that the Corps was not likely to issue its explanation until early next year.


Patricia Stamper, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and co-chairwoman of the citizens’ group known as the Save Araby Mattawoman and Mason Springs, said although her group has fought the development’s location near the bog, it was not involved in the arson.


“The fires came as a total surprise,” she said. “I don’t know who would have done such a thing.”




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 percent, and currently stands at over 50 percent 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 percent of mercury use in 1995, and its total mercury use decreased 76 percent 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 percent.


Keep in mind that these are figures for the deliberate use of mercury, not emissions per se. U.S. mercury emissions decreased approximately 45 percent 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 percent.


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 percent by 2006. Nothing like under promising and over delivering! Canada stands at 84 percent and expects to meet its 2000 target of 90 percent 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 percent and 10 percent 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.




Poor Al [Sierra Club responsible for the New Orleans disaster] (, 050915)


Emmett Tyrrell


WASHINGTON — How the gods do play upon the poor soul who is known to us all as Al Gore. On the day Boy Clinton was impeached they sent him out on the White House lawn to laud The Groper as “one of our greatest presidents.” In Campaign 2000, they cast him as the Poor Loser. Ever since he has been wandering the land looking for a friend and intoning preposterosities even more absurd than when he wrote his green classic, “Earth in the Balance.” There he predicted that all the automobiles in America would soon be parked curbside while Americans squeezed into public transportation and enjoyed the ride. Now he champions the windmill over fossil fuel, no matter how many whooping cranes are slaughtered by the whirling blades. He is Don Quixote turned upside down.


What did the rude gods do to him this time? They forced him to cancel a speech scheduled for New Orleans where he planned to blame global warming for the hurricane season. You can be sure that when Hurricane Katrina scotched his appearance in New Orleans, Al, ever the opportunist, saw this idiotic speech as a splendid opportunity to summon the attention of the nation. Of a sudden Al would be the man of the moment. He might yet become president — a Green in the White House.


So where did Al choose to deliver this critical compendium of misjudgments, hyperbole and error? On Sept. 9 he spoke in San Francisco, where he said “The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.” And he urged that “the leaders of our country be held accountable” for the flooding of New Orleans. Unfortunately he was addressing the Sierra Club, which was not the best place to bring up the flooding of New Orleans.


The very day he spoke a congressional task force reported that the levees that failed in New Orleans would have been raised higher and strengthened in 1996 by the Army Corps of Engineers were it not for a lawsuit filed by environmentalists led by who else but the Sierra Club. Among those “leaders of our country” to “be held accountable” for the flooding of New Orleans, would Al include the Sierra Club? How about the Save the Wetlands stalwarts? According to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, a 1977 lawsuit filed by Save the Wetlands stopped a congressionally-funded plan to protect New Orleans with a “massive hurricane barrier.” A judge found that New Orleans’ hurricane barrier would have to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers filed a better environmental-impact statement.


Now, because those who would have improved hurricane protection in New Orleans were prevented by the environmentalist rigorists, the wetlands are polluted and imperiled and New Orleans has suffered the damage that practical minds have been trying to prevent for three decades. What has thwarted them are the Al Gores of the environmental movement and a well-intentioned piece of legislation that has become a major stumbling block to improving the nation’s infrastructure and energy production, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA). The legislation might have been sensible at the time but it has grown like a bureaucratic cancer. Environmentalist lawyers have expanded its reach until it now entoils practically any construction done by the federal government in red tape that stops projects large and small, some mere pork barrel expense, some critical to the safety of the citizenry.


The congressional task force that exposed the Sierra Club’s mischief in New Orleans was convened in April to study the costs of NEPA and suggest means to reform it. Doubtless members of the task force — it includes 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats — will find some valuable contributions to the environment that it has made. But the task force and Hurricane Katrina have already revealed that it is in need of serious reform. For too long environmentalist fanatics with no sense of a broad-based commonweal have had a veto over government projects and projects in the private sector that are essential to the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Cost-benefit analyses and free-market treatment of pollution are but two alternatives the task force should consider over the decades-long environmental policy of “just say no.”




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.




Kyoto Claims (Foxnews, 051212)


By Brit Hume


Bill Clinton says President Bush is “flat wrong” to reject the Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on economic grounds telling an audience at the U.N.’s climate conference in Montreal, “we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies.” Clinton and then-vice president Al Gore were instrumental in the formulation of the original Kyoto treaty in 1997, which would have required a 29 percent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2012.


President Bush has come under fire from environmentalists for formally renouncing the agreement, but in 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 against even considering the treaty and warned President Clinton not to even send it to them, saying the United States shouldn’t sign anything that would “result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.” As a result, President Clinton never even submitted the Kyoto Treaty for ratification.




Human life vs. the Earth (, 051214)


by John Stossel ( bio | archive )


They’ve been at it again. In Montreal, a bunch of politicians and activists just finished another round of negotiations among themselves about just how much of our freedom to take away in pursuit of a greener planet. That’s “green,” as in “envious” — of the people who were able to invent, build industries and develop economies in generations past, before the environmentalists convinced world “leaders” that products that improve human life, and the factories that make those products, must be limited in the name of the Earth.


Meanwhile, in Ntinda, Uganda, that country’s vice president was calling on world leaders to help save human lives — by supporting Uganda’s use of a chemical the fear of which galvanized the environmental movement decades ago.


On the surface, these are two different environmental stories: one about chemicals that supposedly might raise temperatures, and one about a chemical that can damage eggshells. But the underlying issue is the same: Should the law promote human life, or should it sacrifice human beings and their quality of life on the altar of Gaia?


Two to three million people die of malaria every year, Uganda’s health minister has said, because the U.S. government is afraid of a chemical called DDT. The United States does spend your tax dollars trying to fight malaria in Africa, but it won’t fund DDT. The money goes for things like mosquito netting over beds (even though not everyone in Africa even has a bed). The office that dispenses those funds, the Agency for International Development, acknowledges DDT is safe, but it will not spent a penny on it.


Why? Fifty years ago, Americans sprayed tons of DDT everywhere. Farmers used it to repel bugs, and health officials to fight mosquitoes that carry malaria. Nobody worried much about chemicals then. People really did just sit there and eat in clouds of DDT. When the trucks came to spray, people often acted as if the ice cream truck had come. They were so happy to have mosquitoes repelled. Huge amounts of DDT were sprayed on food and people, who just breathed it in.


Did they all get cancer and die?




Amazingly, there’s no evidence that all this spraying hurt people. It killed mosquitoes. (DDT also kills bedbugs, which are now making a comeback.) It did cause some harm, however. It threatened bird populations by thinning eggshells. In 1962, the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson made the damage famous and helped create our fear of chemicals. The book raised some serious questions about the use of DDT, but the legitimate nature of those questions was lost in the media feeding frenzy that followed. DDT was a “Killer Chemical,” and the press was off on another fear campaign. DDT was banned.


But fear campaigns kill people, too. DDT is a great pesticide. The amount was the reason for the DDT problems. We sprayed far more than is needed to prevent the spread of malaria. It’s sprayed on walls, and one spraying will keep mosquitoes at bay for half a year. It’s a very efficient malaria fighter. But today, DDT is rarely used. America’s demonization of it caused others to shun it. And while the U.S. government spends tax money fighting malaria in Africa, it refuses to put that money into DDT. It might save lives, but it might offend environmentalist zealots and create political fallout.


DDT was banned in America after we started celebrating Earth Day. Environmentalists made a lot of claims then — I have an amusing clip of an environmentalist exclaiming, “You are breathing probably the last of the oxygen!” Soon after that the environmentalists mounted their campaign against DDT. The result? A huge resurgence of malaria, more than 50 million dead, mostly children.


“If it’s a chemical, it must be bad,” said scientist Amir Attaran. “If it’s DDT, it must be awful. And that’s fine if you’re a rich, white environmentalist. It’s not so fine if you’re a poor black kid who is about to lose his life from malaria.”


Attaran is leading a campaign of hundreds of scientists urging the use of DDT to combat malaria. It’s needed especially in Africa, he says, because malaria kills thousands there every day. “If I were to characterize what USAID does on malaria,” he said, “I’d call it medical malpractice, I would call it murderous.”


Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News “20/20” and author of “Give Me a Break.”




Time to Bury Kyoto and Move On (, 051222)


by Michael Fumento ( bio | archive )


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.




2005 Ties for 2nd Warmest Year Ever, But Cause Still Uncertain (Foxnews, 060109)


Predictions early in 2005 that the year would be the warmest on record turned out to be off the mark.


A new study finds last year tied for the second-warmest year since reliable records have been kept starting in the late 1800s.


The global average temperature in 2005 was 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3 Celsius) warmer than the long-term average, tying a mark set in 2002.


But a puzzling general pattern, seen the past three decades, persisted: The most significant warming occurred in the Arctic, where the ice cap is shrinking at an alarming pace.


Seven times faster


Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed seven times faster than the average warming trend over the southern two-thirds of the globe, based on data from NOAA satellites.


“It just doesn’t look like global warming is very global,” said John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


The warmest five years since the 1890s, when reliable record-keeping began:


1. 1998


2. 2005


2. 2002 (tie)


4. 2003


5. 2004


Scientists agree the planet is warming. Ground in the Northern Hemisphere that’s been frozen since the last Ice Age is melting and collapsing.


But they are still debating exactly how much and to what extent humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases.


Lack of understanding


In a report last May, researchers said they know very little about how Earth absorbs and reflects sunlight, crucial factors that control climate. Other studies have indicated that increased output from the Sun is responsible for more of global warming than was previously realized.


“Obviously some part of the warming we’ve observed in the atmosphere over the past 27 years is due to enhanced greenhouse gases. Simple physics tells you that,” Christy said. “But even if you acknowledge the effects of greenhouse gases, when you look at this pattern of warming, you have to say there must also be something else at work here.”


Nobody’s sure what that might be.


“The carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is distributed pretty evenly around the globe and not concentrated in the Arctic, so it doesn’t look like we can blame greenhouse gases for the overwhelming bulk of the Northern Hemisphere warming over the past 27 years,” Christy said. “The most likely suspect for that is a natural climate change or cycle that we didn’t expect or just don’t understand.”


Opposite of expectations


Over the past 27 years, since the first temperature-sensing satellite was launched, the overall global temperature has risen 0.63 degrees Fahrenheit, while the hike in the Arctic has been 2.1 degrees.


“The computer models consistently predict that global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases should show up as strong warming in the tropics,” Christy said.


Yet the tropical atmosphere has warmed by only about 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit in 27 years.


A study last year examined natural climate change going back more than 1,000 years. How do the recent changes stack up?


“It would be fairly rare to have this much warming all from natural causes, but it has happened [in the past],” Christy said. “What we’ve seen isn’t outside the realm of natural climate change.”




New source of global warming gas found: plants (WorldNetDaily, 060111)


LONDON (Reuters) - German scientists have discovered a new source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on climate change.


The culprits are plants.


They produce about 10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere, according to researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.


The scientists measured the amount of methane released by plants in controlled experiments. They found it increases with rising temperatures and exposure to sunlight.


“Significant methane emissions from both intact plants and detached leaves were observed ... in the laboratory and in the field,” Dr Frank Keppler and his team said in a report in the journal Nature.


Methane, which is produced by city rubbish dumps, coal mining, flatulent animals, rice cultivation and peat bogs, is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in terms of its ability to trap heat.


Concentrations of the gas in the atmosphere have almost tripled in the last 150 years. About 600 million tonnes worldwide are produced annually.


The scientists said their finding is important for understanding the link between global warming and a rise in greenhouse gases.


It could also have implications for the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for developed countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.


Keppler and his colleagues discovered that living plants emit 10 to 100 times more methane than dead plants.


Scientists had previously thought that plants could only emit methane in the absence of oxygen.


David Lowe, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, said the findings are startling and controversial.


“Keppler and colleagues’ finding helps to account for observations from space of incredibly large plumes of methane above tropical forests,” he said in a commentary on the research.


But the study also poses questions, such as how such a potentially large source of methane could have been overlooked and how plants produced it.


“There will be a lively scramble among researchers for the answers to these and other questions,” Lowe added.




Big freeze leaves trail of deaths across Asia (The Scotsman, 060109)


INDIA’S capital New Delhi recorded its lowest temperature for 70 years yesterday as unusually cold weather continued to cause havoc across Asia.


In Japan, where at least 63 people have died and more than 1,000 have been injured since heavy snowfalls began last month, troops and volunteers shovelled snow from roofs and roads, while in China’s Xinjiang province cattle were dying in the fields in temperatures of -43C and a 25-mile section of the Yellow River froze.


In Bangladesh, at least 20 people have died from exposure, disease and malnutrition over the past three days because of a cold snap there.


In India, residents of the capital awoke yesterday to a temperature around freezing point, forcing officials to shut primary schools for three days. TV footage showed a layer of ice on the grass in parks and on the roofs of cars.


“I was so excited. This is the first time I have seen it (frost),” said a teenage girl wearing a thick sweater.


But thousands of homeless and those without heating were hard hit. And further north, Indian Kashmir continued to shiver as overnight temperatures dipped to -6C.


“It is terribly cold. I feel like we are living in a refrigerator,” said 34-year-old housewife Rubina Malik.


For the first time in ten years, parts of the famous Dal lake in the regional capital Srinagar were frozen. Authorities banned skating on the lake after a child drowned when the thin ice cracked.


More than 100 people have died in northern India since December because of the cold. The coldest recorded temperature in New Delhi is -0.6C (30.92F) in 1935.


In Japan workers were trying to clear snow which was up to ten feet deep in some of the worst-hit areas of Niigata prefecture, and to reopen blocked roads in Nagano prefecture.


Many of the dead there were elderly people who fell from their roofs while trying to clear snow, while others were crushed when their houses collapsed under the weight of the drifts.


“It’s frightening,” said a woman in Akita City, in northern Japan, as local government workers began to shovel snow from her roof.


“There were creaking sounds and I couldn’t open the doors because of the weight of snow.”


China is in the middle of its coldest winter in 20 years, the China Daily newspaper said. Even in the usually mild province of Guangdong in the south, temperatures dipped as low as 5C on Friday while some local roads have frozen over with more than an inch of ice.


In Xinjiang, where heavy snowfalls and temperatures as low as -43C forced the evacuation of almost 100,000 people earlier in the week, conditions remained testing.


In the province’s northern Altay region, temperatures were hovering around -26C after falling to 37C and killing cattle over the past few days, said an official from the local meteorological bureau.




Green Evangelicals Stand Against Global Warming (Christian Post, 060209)


WASHINGTON – Evangelicals are newly rising up to the good-old, biblical commandment to be stewards of God’s creation by joining the environmentalists’ call to stop global warming.


“Love of God, love of neighbor, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate change problem with moral passion and concrete action,” states a document recently signed by 86 top evangelical leaders and representatives.


The document, aptly entitled “The Evangelical Climate Initiative,” was released on Wednesday at a press conference in Washington alongside results from a nationwide study that showed a “higher-than expected level of concern over the environment” from Evangelical Christians.


According to the study, three of four evangelicals support environmental issues, two thirds are convinced that global warming is actually taking place, and seven out of ten believe global climate change will pose a “serious threat to future generations.” [KH: ignorant of facts]


“Even among evangelicals who are political conservatives, over four out of ten believe global warming must be reduced even if there’s a high economic cost, and half feel we must begin addressing the issue immediately,” reads an excerpt from the research paper, conducted by the Arizona-based Ellison Research center.


The 86 signers hope that such results and their new initiative could help influence government leaders to “pass and implement national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions…”


“As American evangelical Christian leaders, we recognize both our opportunity and our responsibility to offer a biblically based moral witness that can help shape public policy in the most powerful nation on earth,” the Climate Initiative states.


Supporters of the statement include top Evangelical stars such as: Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church; Rich Stearns, president of World Vision; Todd Bassett, national commander of the Salvation Army; and Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College.


However, noticeably missing are the names of other Evangelical heavyweights who in the past have closely worked with the Bush Administration on public policy. Neither James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, nor Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, has joined the effort.


Instead Dobson and Land were among 20 Evangelicals who signed onto a letter urging the National Association of Evangelicals to refrain from taking an official position on the issue.


“We believe there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity and solutions to the global warming issue,” the conservative Evangelicals wrote in their letter to the NAE.


Ultimately, NAE staff members opted not to sign the initiative, though over a dozen unpaid board members lent their name. Those who signed the campaign are now working to gain a broader support from the Evangelical community.


“Some are early adopters, and some are late adopters,” Jim Ball, Executive Director of the Evangelical Environmental Network said at the press conference.


Ball also explained that in coming months, signers will work to reach the grass-roots by mobilizing pastors.


“We are going to be engaged in many activities over the year, reaching out to churches and going to colleges,” Ball said.


They also began a massive advertising campaign through both television and print media.




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 percent 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.




Stewards of nature (, 060212)


by William F. Buckley


We hear now (in full-page ads) from the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Their summons, signed by 80-odd evangelical leaders, is to address the global-warming crisis. The opening statement declares that “as evangelical Christians, we believe we’re called to be stewards of God’s creation.”


That isn’t an inflated claim; ministers of the Gospel are expected to address common concerns. This time we are advised that “global warming can and must be solved. It is no small problem. Pollution from vehicles, power plants and industry is having a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate. Left unchecked, global warming will lead to drier droughts, more intense hurricanes and more devastating floods, resulting in millions of deaths in this century.”


The premise is that the planet is suffering from rising levels of greenhouse gasses, which are bringing on increasingly sharp climate changes. As Anthony McMichael of the Australian National University in Canberra has articulated the problem, climate change would lead to “an increase in death rates from heat waves, infectious diseases, allergies, cholera as well as starvation due to failing crops.”


Two questions arise. The first, and most obvious, is: Is the information we are receiving reliable? There is a certain lure to apocalyptic renderings of modern existence. Some remember, not so long after the first atomic bomb was detonated, predictions that we were directly headed for nuclear devastation. After a bit, a Yankee skepticism came in and informed us that Dr. Strangelove was a creature unto himself — that he could be isolated, and that nuclear armament could proceed, with high levels of caution. Today the problem on the nuclear front is proliferation. And the crisis is at our doorstep in the matter of North Korea and Iran. But even if they develop the bomb, we do not go straightaway to the end of the world with Strangelove.


The environmentalist alarum is strongly backed by evidence, but there are scientists who believe that the data of the last few years, indeed of the last century, attest to cyclical variations that make their way irrespective of the increase in fossil-fuel consumption. Professor Robert Jastrow, a distinguished astrophysicist, is skeptical in the matter. Yet recent reports of measurements done in the Antarctic have not been fully absorbed by the non-believers, and they aren’t likely to ignore as simply inconsequential the increase in greenhouse gases, whatever dispute there may be about their exact effect.


There is no disputing that, over the recent period, temperature changes have been in an upward direction. The latest figure is one degree in the last generation. The nation’s temperatures this January were the warmest on record, and NASA scientists have informed us that 2005 was the hottest year ever recorded worldwide.


The issue of Kyoto divides the world. The protocols agreed upon there were affirmed by President Clinton, but were rejected by the Senate. The grounds for doing so were that unrealistic demands were being made on the developed nations, without realistic attention to what the less-developed countries were prepared to do in the way of reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. China, for instance, would simply refuse to abide by schedules that failed to take into account its spectacular demands as a country moving to western levels of consumption at singular speed.


Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman have endorsed a bill that would set for the United States a goal, by the year 2010, of a reduction in emissions to the level of 2000. President Bush has refused to sign on to any schedule whatever that would mandate national goals, or would restrict normal impulses.


The pressure of the environmentalists has combined with a more direct pressure, which is the scarcity of those fuels that do the most damage. There are visions knocking on the door, of fuels without the heavy carbon-dioxide emissions. But mostly there is a recognition that economic and environmental concerns might combine to discourage profligate consumption of the toxic stuff.


One way to go would be a surtax on gasoline. Another, a heightening of federal requirements in the matter of energy-efficient automobiles; these began many decades back, when the impulse to formalize our concern for nature began to take concrete legislative form. Add now the moral concern. We are indeed stewards of nature, and calls to conjoin our concern with a sense of Christian mission are noteworthy.




Evangelical Activism: Stewardship Responsibilities (, 060215)


by Chuck Colson ( bio | archive )


The television ad shows footage of devastating storms, droughts, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As the images flash by, a voice intones, “The good news is that with God’s help, we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world, and for our Lord.” That’s quite a promise.


The ad is part of a publicity campaign by an organization called the Evangelical Climate Initiative—and it highlights both the controversy over global warming and the eagerness of the secular press to promote supposed divisions among evangelicals.


Last week, to much fanfare in the secular press, the Evangelical Climate Initiative—ECI—issued a report signed by eighty-six evangelical leaders titled, “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” Among other things, it called for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.


The New York Times, in particular, seemed to delight in the fact that this initiative represented a split in evangelical ranks. The Times gleefully reported that prominent evangelicals—including Jim Dobson, Richard Land, and yours truly—did not sign the report. The implication was that more enlightened Christian leaders were now breaking ranks with the Bush administration and conservatives.


What the press left out was the fact that some of us were never invited to sign the statement. Maybe that was because we had earlier signed the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, in which we argued that there had to be a balancing of interests. In particular, the world’s poor could be adversely affected economically by some of the more radical environmental proposals.


Let me be clear: Some of the ECI recommendations—like driving fuel-efficient cars—are sensible. And there is no disagreement about our goals: Everybody is for stopping global warming. But at what cost?


We are not alone in believing that some of the global warming solutions go too far and do too little good. Two days after the Times exploited so-called divisions within the evangelical community, John Tierney, an op-ed writer for the Times, lampooned the entire debate over global warming. Solutions like the Kyoto treaty, writes Tierney, “amount to expensive hair shirts that appeal to [environmental] penitents,” but with costs that economists say are far too high. He cited four Nobel laureates and their colleagues, who met in Copenhagen in 2004 to study proposals to help the poor, and concluded that programs to slow global warming are “far less worthwhile than programs to immediately combat disease and improve drinking water and sanitation.”


“Saving lives now,” Tierney concludes, “makes more sense than spending large sums to avert biblical punishments that may never come.” Besides which, scientists are still unsure of how much the planet will heat up or how much—if any—damage will be done.


Now, we all have a stewardship responsibility for God’s creation, but we also have responsibility for God’s creatures. Balancing those interests requires prudence. I’m convinced most evangelicals agree on this—the New York Times notwithstanding—even if we may disagree on how resources are most effectively employed. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” as the Scriptures put it. But it takes wisdom to figure out exactly how best to take care of it—and people too.




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 percent 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.”




Children ‘bad for planet’ (WorldNetDaily, 070507)


HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.


The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family’s carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.


John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: “The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.


“The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”


In his latest comments, the academic says that when couples are planning a family they should be encouraged to think about the environmental consequences.


“The decision to have children should be seen as a very big one and one that should take the environment into account,” he added.


Professor Guillebaud says that, as a general guideline, couples should produce no more than two offspring.


The world’s population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. Almost all the growth will take place in developing countries.


The population of developed nations is expected to remain unchanged and would have declined but for migration.


The British fertility rate is 1.7. The EU average is 1.5. Despite this, Professor Guillebaud says rich countries should be the most concerned about family size as their children have higher per capita carbon dioxide emissions.




The Left’s Global Warming Solution: No More Children! (, 070509)


By Ben Shapiro


Proving once again that foolish ideas don’t die or fade away — they walk the earth eternally, preying on the brains of the living — scientists at a UK think tank have determined that the greatest threat to the planet is more human beings. “The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights,” explains Professor John Guillebaud, co-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). “The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”


The OPT is hardly the first to jump on the Malthusian bandwagon. The environmental left is in a constant state of apoplexy about the environmental cost of human existence. Back in 1968, Professor Paul Ehrlich published his famous — and entirely erroneous — anti-reproduction manifesto, “The Population Bomb.” “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” Ehrlich claimed. “In the 1970s the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” His solution: “The birth rate must be brought into balance with the death rate. We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out.”


Naturally, no such disaster occurred. Nonetheless, “Children Are Global Cancer” Ehrlich remains a highly respected figure for the global left. In 1990, Al Gore trumpeted the sequel to “The Population Bomb,” writing a glowing blurb for its dust jacket: “The time for action is due, and past due. The Ehrlichs have written the prescription.” Gore neglected to mention that Ehrlich’s prescription is mass distribution of RU-486.


The radical left embraces Ehrlich and OPT because it fundamentally believes in an atheistic version of original sin: We are all endowed with the evil capacity to consume. For the radical left, the planet is not a bountiful source to be protected and used for human happiness — it is a Higher Power to be protected from humanity’s rapaciousness. The planet should not be protected for future generations, they say — it should be protected for its own sake.


This concept of Mother Earth as feckless deity and Man as apocalyptic destroyer is deeply perverse. Nonetheless, the Democratic Party has been infused with this planet-as-deity cultish fanaticism. The major item of faith for Democratic devotees is religious belief in manmade global warming, which every major Democratic politician has termed the most dramatic threat facing America.


The Party has its own religious figures. There’s Gore, whom the Democrats have labeled a “prophet.” There’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who religiously dismisses all evidence that global warming is not manmade: “The science of global warming and its impact is overwhelming and unequivocal.” There’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has seen the light: “Today, the world’s best and brightest scientists made clear that the debate on global warming is over. The world has moved beyond doubt, and now all that remains is to work urgently toward solutions.” There’s Barack Obama, who, during the recent Democratic presidential debate, mentioned only one lesson he’s trying to teach his daughters: “working to install light bulbs that last longer and save energy.”


Democrats have not yet openly embraced OPT’s Heaven’s Gate strategy, though many of them buy into the idea of “stabilizing population growth.” For now, the Democrats will settle for crippling American standards of living in the name of a phantom threat. But it will not be long before Democrats — like their more radical allies in Europe — demand more in the name of protecting Gaia.