By Alan Caruba
On April 22, 1995, the silver anniversary of Earth Day arrived with a thud heard around the world. Three months earlier, an environmental trade show on the mall in Washington, D.C. was scrapped for lack of support. Despite the hoopla of the usual concerts and rallies to “Save the Earth,” it’s the environmental movement that is desperate to save itself from a public grown wary of its claims.
The fact is, the entire environmental movement has been losing support for years. In April 1990, Newsweek ran an item entitled, “Earth Day: Who Cares?,” taking note of a Gallup poll in which fully 73 percent said they had no plans whatever to participate. A USA Today review of a 1990 ABC-TV special described it as an “ecological jamboree” suffering from “celebrity overkill.” Left unsaid was why anyone would want to accept the word of Meryl Streep, Robin Williams and Bette Midler on complex scientific issues?
By 1990, after twenty years of being told by the environmental movement that the Earth was so “fragile” that it was on the brink of being wiped out by over-population, so-called global warming or ozone holes, Americans had grown skeptical of such claims. Ordinary people who had to separate their garbage into six different containers every week just to get rid of it or fill their car’s tank with a noxious gas additive were in a rebellious mood. Almost unseen, battalions of scientists, landowners, and business people had been organizing to speak out against a full range of dubious environmental claims.
In 1990, the then-Senator Albert Gore wrote passionately of global warming, ozone depletion, and world population, while ignoring the fact that 90 percent of the Earth’s warming had occurred since 1880 and prior to 1940 when the lion’s share of CFC’s were being utilized in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other wonders of modem technology. Indeed like most environmentalists, Gore ignored the fact that the Earth has warmed barely one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. And, of course, that warming and cooling trends—which take hundreds of years—are a perfectly natural climatological phenomenon, having little, if anything, to do with human activity.
The Vice President is just one example of the way environmental spokespersons have either misinterpreted or deliberately distorted scientific fact to influence the passage of draconian legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and the major Safe Drinking Water Act, to events name just a few which have staged created nationwide havoc. When the smoke cleared after the November 1994 elections, it was obvious the public wanted change and, in no small part, a close look at environmental laws and regulations strangling the economy, taking their property, and imposing billions of dollars of unfunded mandates on the States.
The Green Propaganda Machine stirred to action. Within a month the National Wildlife Federation announced that a post-election poll on “green attitudes” had found people were “pleased with the environment where they live; that they felt the Clinton administration had poorly handled environmental issues and, of course, most were demanding harsher regulations for business and industry. This poll, one hopes, was printed on recyclable paper. It belonged in the nearest toxic dump.
Starting in the 1980’s, there’s been a growing, widespread disenchantment with environmentalism. As recently as December 1994, the journal, Audubon Activist, announced that chocolate was an environmental peril! Much of the environmental message had begun to sound hysterical and paranoid.
Even major events staged by hard core environmentalists who have taken over the United Nations fell flat. News from the U.N. Earth Summit and the Cairo Population Summit didn’t make a lot of sense either. Richard Miller, writing in a leading trade magazine for journalists, described the Rio conference as “no more than photo ops, signing ceremonies, and bureaucratic haggling.” The Cairo population conference degenerated into the Roman Catholic Church versus everyone else on issues of birth control and abortion.
Behind the scenes, at news papers and other media around the nation, however, the “environmental beat” has lost its credibility as it became increasingly obvious to editors that reporters often were little more than uninformed advocates. In 1991, The New York Times moved to end the 14 year career of Phillip Shabecoff reassigning him to another beat and in effect, forcing his resignation. He promptly became editor of an environmental newsletter, Greenwire.
At a Society of Environmental Journalists’ conference in 1994, reporters sought to cope with their diminished status. Meanwhile, their main sources, groups such as the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, were cutting staff and slashing budgets from a significant loss of membership and credibility.
In the January 15, 1995 issue of The Earth Times readers were told that years of “scare tactics …,campaigns that predicted destruction at apocalyptic levels” had “weakened the environmental message and helped to inspire today’s strong counter-movement by scientists, government officials and businessmen.”
In June 1994, The Earth Times headline posed the following question: ‘“Two·Years after Rio: What has gone wrong?” A commentary by Vice President Gore was still flogging tired old scare tactics, saying “As long as 70 million Americans live in communities where the air is dangerous to breath” environmental policy was going to have to “reinvent” itself. The problem with Gore’s “facts” is that they are wrong.
Cancer Institute Trashes Environmental Claims
On February 1, 1995, the most astonishing announcement was made in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. After decades of being told that pesticides and other pollution was responsible for countless deaths, the Institute’s studies revealed that “increasing exposure to general environmental hazards seems unlikely to have had a major impact on the overall trends in cancer rates.” Indeed, while the rates were up slightly due to early detection, the rate of those dying from various cancers had been declining for years! A prime scare tactic of environmentalism was trashed.
Far from killing human beings, pesticides and herbicides had created an abundance of fruit and vegetables, an essential nutritional element to aid the body in resisting potential forms of cancer.
It’s impossible to square environmental claims with obvious truths. The nation’s life expectancy rates have been steadily rising during the past 25 years at the very same time environmentalists were blaming industry, fossil fuels, radon, pesticides, and every chemical as the primary cause of death in America. Today, Americans have a life expectancy of over 75 years, higher than anytime in the history of the nation!
By 1989, for example, a study spanning a decade in the lives of nearly 1,000 people found no statistically significant link between the amount of DDT (banned in the 1970’s) in their bodies and risk of death by cancer.
By 1991, a decade after the EPA declared war on businesses that presumably expose the public to hazardous wastes, even environmental experts were questioning whether it was worth $300 to $700 billion to restore waste sites to pristine conditions? By then, an estimated 20.000 lawyers were devoting themselves to environmental law. They were the only ones cleaning up!
In 1991, the National Center for Policy Analysis published a study that revealed that (1) recycling paper doesn’t save trees; (2) the nation wasn’t running out of landfill space; (3) disposable diapers are not necessarily more harmful to the environment than cloth diapers; (4) plastic products often have less environmental impact than non-plastics; (5) products that are biodegradable can be a bigger threat to the environment than nonbiodegradable products; and (6) packaging leads to a reduction in the total amount of food waste.
The High Cost of Green Lies
John Q. Public began to realize that environmentalism was robbing him blind. In just one American city, Columbus, Ohio, a study revealed that nearly 20 percent of the total city budget would be spent in 1995 to comply with federal and state environmental requirements. It added up to more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars that would not go for more police, more fire-fighters, road and bridge repairs, education, et cetera!
Even the federal office of Management and Budget began to examine the real cost of unfunded environmental mandates. In 1990, it revealed that regulation of just one chemical, atrazine, in drinking water, as carried out by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act would cost $93 billion for every life prolonged.
Forbes magazine quoted Yale Law School professor and former EPA legal counsel, E. Donald Elliot, who said, “I’ve never seen a single rule where we weren’t paying at least $100 million per life.”
Is the danger from hidden environmental agendas over? Not by a long shot!
As this is being written, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is trying an end-run on Congress, funding a National Biological Survey, renamed the National Biological Service, a new bureaucracy that was rejected by the Senate. So secret is the true purpose of this bogus survey that Babbitt wanted it exempted from the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
Why? Because this survey is designed to give Babbitt and Company the power to control both public and private property. Only communist nations own and control all property and, in America, private property rights are part of the U.S. Constitution.
Both the Endangered Species Act and Section 404 Wetlands regulations were just the first step toward the environmental goal of regulating all economic uses of both public and private property.
It will take intensive short-term and long-term effort to undo the damage inflicted by 25 years of eco-mania. Fully 30 percent of all federal laws and regulations on the books today represent the environmental takeover of our property, our rights, and our lives.
The Earth which environmentalists want to “save” is five billion years old and in little danger from the human species. Our job, today, is to save ourselves from a desperate plan to control the United Nations, the U.S. and other governments around the world. This is an ideological, political, economic, and scientific battle no one can afford to lose.
Alan Caruba, a veteran science and business writer, is the founder of the National Anxiety Center, Maplewood, NJ, which monitors the media for scare campaigns.