Sunday, 25 February 2007

10 Institutions That Ruin The World - #4

My series of the 10 institutions that are ruining the world continues. Today we have:

#4 - The Environmental Movement

There are few movements that have done so much harm over the last four or five decades in the name of doing good than the Environmental Movement. Exacerbating the damage in recent years is the fact that there are now so many green-wrapped socialists promoting their extremist propaganda under the guise of environmentalism.

For this piece I am going to lift a complete essay from Dr Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who became disillusioned with it in the mid-80s after Greenpeace 'made a sharp turn to the political left' and started his own organisation Greenspirit. What he says is about as authentic as one can get.

As he wrote in his article for the Miami Herald, "How Sick Is That? Environmental Movement Has Lost Its Way":

I am often asked why I broke ranks with Greenpeace after fifteen years as a founder and full-time environmental activist. While I had my personal reasons—spending more time with a growing family rather than living out of a suitcase most of the year—it was on issues of policy that I found it necessary to move on.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Greenpeace, and much of the environmental movement, made a sharp turn to the political left and began adopting extreme agendas that abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism. I became aware of the emerging concept of sustainable development—the idea that environmental, social, and economic priorities could be balanced. I became a convert to the idea that win-win solutions could be found by bringing all interests together around the same table. I made the move from confrontation to consensus.

Since then, I have worked under the banner of Greenspirit to develop an environmental policy platform based on science, logic, and the recognition that more than six billion people need to survive and prosper, every day of the year. The environmental movement has lost its way, favoring political correctness over factual accuracy, stooping to scare tactics to garner support. Many campaigns now waged in the name of the environment would result in increased harm to both the environment and human welfare if they were to succeed.

So we’re faced with environmental policies that ignore science and result in increased risk to human health and ecology. To borrow from the vernacular, how sick is that?

Genetic Enhancement:
Activists persist in their zero-tolerance campaign against genetically enhanced varieties of food crops when there is zero evidence of harm to human health or the environment, and the benefits are measurable and significant. Genetically enhanced (GE) food crops result in reduced chemical pesticides, higher yield, and reduced soil erosion. Golden Rice, for example, could prevent blindness in 500,000 children per year in Asia and Africa if activists would stop blocking its introduction. Other varieties of food crops will contain iron, Vitamin E, enhanced protein and better oils. No other technology can match the potential of GE to address the nutritional deficiencies of billions of people. The anti-GE campaign seeks to deny these environmental and nutritional advances by using “Frankenfood” scare tactics and misinformation campaigns.

Salmon Farming:
The campaign against salmon farming, based on erroneous and exaggerated claims of environmental damage and chemical contamination, is scaring us into avoiding one of the most nutritious, heart-friendly foods available today. Activists persist in this campaign, yet the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association and the US Food and Drug Administration say eating salmon reduces the risk of heart disease and fatal heart attack. Salmon farming has the added benefit of taking pressure off wild salmon stocks. Activists respond by telling us to eat only wild fish. Is this how we save them, by eating more?

Greenpeace wants to ban the use of chlorine in all industrial processes, yet the addition of chlorine to drinking water has been the single greatest public health advance in history, and 75% of our medicines are based on chlorine chemistry. My old Greenpeace colleagues also call for a ban on polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), claiming it is the “poison plastic”. There is not a shred of evidence that vinyl damages human health or the environment. In addition to its cost-effectiveness in construction, and ability to deliver safe drinking water, vinyl’s ease of maintenance and its ability to incorporate anti-microbial properties is critical to fighting germs in hospitals. Banning vinyl would further raise the cost of an already struggling health care system, ultimately denying health care to those who can least afford it.

Hydro Electricity:
International activists boast they have blocked more than 200 hydroelectric dams in the developing world and are campaigning to tear down existing dams. Hydro is the largest source of renewable electricity, providing about 12% of global supply. Do activists prefer coal plants? Would they rather ignore the needs of billions of people?

Wind Power:
Wind power is commercially feasible, yet activists argue the turbines kill birds and ruin landscapes. A million times more birds are killed by cats, windows and cars than by all the windmills in the world. As for aesthetics, wind turbines are works of art compared to some of our urban environments.

Nuclear Power:
A significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions seems unlikely given our continued heavy reliance on fossil fuel consumption. Even UK environmentalist James Lovelock, who posited the Gaia theory that the Earth operates as a giant, self-regulating super-organism, now sees nuclear energy as key to our planet’s future health. Lovelock says the first world behaves like an addicted smoker, distracted by short-term benefits and ignorant of long-term risk. “Civilization is in imminent danger,” he warns, “and has to use nuclear—the one safe, available energy source—or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.”

Yet environmental activists, notably Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, continue to lobby against clean nuclear energy, and in favour of the band-aid Kyoto Treaty. We can agree renewable energies, such as wind, geothermal and hydro are part of the solution. But nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand.

Anti-forestry activists are telling us to stop cutting trees and to reduce our use of wood. Forest loss, or deforestation, is nearly all caused by clearing forests for farms and cities. Forestry operations, on the other hand, are geared towards reforestation and the maintenance of forest cover. Forests are stable and growing where people use the most wood, and are diminishing where they use less. When we use wood, we send a signal to the marketplace to plant more trees and produce more wood. North Americans use more wood per capita than any other continent, yet there is about the same forest area in North America today as there was 100 years ago.

Trees, and the materials they produce, are by far the most abundant, renewable and biodegradable resource in the world. If we want to retain healthy forests, we should be growing more trees and using more wood, not less. This seems lost on activists who use chilling rhetoric and apocalyptic images to drive us in the wrong direction.

The Prognosis:
Environmentalism has turned into anti-globalization and anti-industry. Activists have abandoned science in favour of sensationalism. Their zero-tolerance, fear-mongering campaigns would ultimately prevent a cure for Vitamin A deficiency blindness, increase pesticide use, increase heart disease, deplete wild salmon stocks, raise the cost and reduce the safety of health care, raise construction costs, deprive developing nations of clean electricity, stop renewable wind energy, block a solution to global warming, and contribute to deforestation. How sick is that?

made a sharp turn to the political left and began adopting extreme agendas that abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism" - that's about as powerful as criticism can get and really resonates with the current climate change scaremongering we have to endure. I disagree with him on the odd point such as the viability of wind farms, as they are being shown time and again to be massive white elephants that are oversold in terms of performance and need to be heavily subsidised by the taxpayer.

People are largely unaware that the reason the US, Australia and Europe do not have a malaria problem is due to massive spraying of DDT after WWII. It is thought of today as a 'Third World Disease', one that kills more than a million people every year. There are few more disgusting chapters in the Environmental Movement's appalling history than its campaign against this cheap and effective substance. You can look up the history of DDT for yourself but to cut a long story short environmentalists campaigned hard for the banning of what were called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). In spite of there being no credible science showing that DDT was harmful to humans and flaky evidence that it thinned egg shells in some bird populations, DDT was placed on the list of 12 POPs and effectively banned by the United Nations Environmental Program. There are those such as the hilariously intellectually maladroit Australian non-scientist, Tim Lambert, who argue that the banning of DDT is a myth thought up by the vast right wing conspiracy. The fact is that in order to gain access to UNEP funding for any program, Third World countries had to comply with all UNEP positions including those on POPs, which is how DDT was effectively banned. DDT is a cheap and effective way of dealing with malaria in the developing world and while it's true that mosquitoes can develop a resistance to its toxicity DDT still retains repellent and irritant properties that drive mosquitoes away from human populations.
The priority of symbolism over practicality and positive outcomes is a feature of the Left in general and the environmental movement in particular. To the morally malnourished such as Lambert who support far more expensive solutions including pesticide-impregnated bed nets and pyrethroid insecticides for societies that have annual health budgets of less than $10 per head of population this leftist symbolism-sans-results is highlighted for all to see.

For inflicting vast damage on those in society least able to bear the burden, the Environmental Movement comes in at #4 on my list of 10 Institutions That Ruin The World.

#5 - The Mainstream Media
#6 - Education Institutions and Education Unions
#7 - Government
#8 - The Social Justice Movement
#9 - The Peace Movement
#10 - The Intelligent Design Movement, Discovery Institute

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great list so far. I'm looking forward to seeing what the last three on your list are.