Editor’s Preview: Last November, Hillsdale College’s Center for Constructive Alternatives sponsored a week-long seminar that invited nine prominent scientists and environmental analysts to assess the respective track records of government and the private sector in environmental protection. Their unanimous opinion was that government action, usually precipitated by unsound science and media sensationalism, results in massive overregulation and, as in the case of the 1990 Clean Air Act discussed in this issue, billions of wasted dollars. Soil scientist Edward C. Krug observes that such action often makes environmental problems worse and diverts attention from other less publicized but more potent dangers.
Acid Rain and the Clean Air Act: A 40 Billion-Dollar Cover Up
Every day, millions of dismayed Americans read the news that acid rain is creating an aquatic “silent spring” in the north-eastern United States…Thousands of lakes are dead with thousands more soon to die…Acid rain is wiping out our forests. The perception of mounting environmental devastation has created an overwhelming sense of urgency. The feeling is, “For heaven’s sake stop talking about it and do something before we kill everything!” The trouble is, none of this news of impending environmental disaster is true.
Political activists from the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and other organizations have worked diligently to create the public perception that it is. Some scientists have helped to fuel the flames of panic. In 1980, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that acid rain had increased the average acidity of northeastern lakes a hundredfold over the last 40 years. In 1981, the National Research Council claimed that the number of acidified lakes would double by 1990.
But National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) scientists assigned to research the “problem” realized that the publicly accepted claims of disaster were unsubstantiated. There was simply no scientific assessment of acid rain’s effects on which to base claims of disaster, or any claims at all, for that matter. Accordingly, NAPAP spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the first census of acid rain’s state-of-the-environment. This is what we found for lakes:
- There are only 240 critically acidic (pH<5.0) lakes out of over 7,000 northeastern lakes; not the thousands claimed.
- The average lake is as acidic as it was prior to the Industrial Era (some lakes have become more acidic, some have become less acidic over time); not a hundred times more acidic as claimed.
- Only 35,000 of 200,000,000 acres of eastern lakes are critically acidic.
- Most of this acidic water is in Florida. Yet the rain in Florida is among the least acidic rain in the eastern U.S.— three times less acidic than in the Adirondacks.
- The amount of acidic water is not changing with time; thousands of additional lakes are not becoming acidic as claimed.
- The old Clean Air Act is working: SO2 (the principal pollutant that creates acid rain) has been halved—20 million tons rather than 40 million tons per year.
- The new revisions will make no difference in the amount of acid rain 30-40 years from now All of the acidic lakes in the northeastern U.S. can be limed for $500,000 a year compared to billions of dollars for an elaborate government acid rain program.
This is what was found for forests:
- “Forest decline is extensive in many unpolluted areas of the world, whereas trees in highly polluted areas (i.e., metropolitan areas) are largely unaffected.”
- The nitrogen in acid rain is fertilizing 300,000,000 acres of eastern forest.
- Such fertilization may have a negative effect for about 0.1 percent of the forest.
- Enhanced growth by nitrogen fertilization may result in increased winter damage for 300,000 acres of high altitude spruce-fir forest.
It is only common sense to conclude, therefore, that an expensive crash program to further accelerate the current rate of reduction of acid rain is not justified.
Yet in major media sources such as Newsweek and the New York Times political activists passed off as “environmental experts” continue to claim that NAPAP has made no progress at all. They say that NAPAP was a waste of time: it has only proven that acid rain is the “crisis” it was “known to be” prior to the inception of NAPAP a decade ago. In the few cases where responsible scientists manage to report some of the real facts, it is claimed that NAPAP’s results are politically tainted—underrepresenting the effects of acid rain. It was in this atmosphere that Congress passed a new Clean Air Act in 1990 in large part to allay manufactured fears of acid rain. What Congress is trying to cover up is the fact that this new legislation will cost our nation, conservatively, $40 billion a year.
The Rise of the Environmental Party
Acid rain is only one of a dozen manufactured crises ranging from toxic waste to chemical poisoning of food and global warming. Consistently we are led to believe that we must submit to comprehensive regulation by an “elite” of environmental experts if our planet is to be saved. The real crisis, however, appears to lie with these self-proclaimed. They view the present world order—which places power in the hands of individuals—as foolhardy. They manipulate science and our own institutions to convince us that it is necessary to sacrifice our rights of self-determination for some “greater good” like environmental protection.
Environmentalism has itself become more than just a cause; it is the preeminent American political party. Ron Arnold, author of Ecology Wars, reports that the major environmental organizations meet regularly to coordinate their activities. And, according to California Representative William E. Dannemeyer, the top twelve organizations that comprise the base of support for the Environmental Party are four times bigger than the combined Democratic and Republican parties:
“All told, the Environmental Party has an operating budget of $336.3 million (1988) and a donor base of 12,959,000. That’s nearly $250 million more than the Republican and Democratic parties combined and a donor base of some 10 million persons more!”
Free Enterprise: Targeted for Extinction
About 90 percent of these funds go to support political activities, not environmental improvement. Yet members of the Environmental Party have established themselves as the poor, blue-jeaned, idealistic defenders of the public interest and Planet Earth. Their opponents, usually American businessmen, are portrayed as Darth Vaders in three-piece suits—special interests opposed to the common good.
The Environmental Party is difficult to oppose because it embraces a nominal cause that has no opposition. Who wants foul air, dirty water, and reckless disposal of toxic wastes? Who relishes questioning the Party and being automatically labeled an enemy of Mother Nature? The last group that wants to fight on these uneven terms is the business community. But confrontation cannot be avoided because the Party has targeted free enterprise for extinction.
If one were deliberately trying to create a means to kill free enterprise (and its attendant wealth and freedoms), one could not come up with a better killing machine than the Environmental Party. Indeed, from the very beginning, business and industry learned that fighting back in self-defense is even worse than doing nothing. And, of course, there are those who have decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em; over half of the financial support received by the Party comes from private-sector foundations.
Government: The Business of Regulation
To understand government’s role as a Party ally, it is helpful to think of government as the business of regulation. Like all businesses, the business of regulation seeks growth. But even governmental growth is not risk-free. It has the inherent liability of incurring the displeasure of the consumer (taxpayer) by increasing the cost (taxes) of the product. Environmental legislation, however, is like manna from heaven: it is principally an off-budget tax. The government is thus perceived as working for the common good, literally for free.
To government, the well-known Environmental Party line is an irresistible siren’s song: “Government must regulate all human activity. The masses must obey the environmental bureaucracy—it knows what is ‘best.’ Sacrifice must be made for the ‘just cause.’ There are only 5 to 10 years before it is too late to save the planet from the masses who inhabit it.”
And crises are the time-honored formula by which people are persuaded to give up their rights to government.
Mass Media: The Party’s Other Ally
It was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who observed that “hastiness and superficiality—these are the psychic diseases of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press.” Businessmen would do well to heed Solzhenitsyn’s warning, for they have few enough friends in the media these days. A report of the Media Institute shows that “Television almost never portrays business as a socially useful…activity.”
Americans love the underdog. Stories of the “common citizen” battling against unscrupulous capitalists and industrial giants are popular and pay big dividends for the media with little accompanying risk. The myth of the great lobbying power of the “Timber Barons,” the “Oil Monopolies” and the “Mining Kings” support the image of a David versus Goliath conflict—the battle between good and evil.
Since the Environmental Party provides an endless source of prepackaged, easy-to-report disasters—clear-cut cases of conflict between good and evil for eager consumption by the public—the Party and the media are natural friends and allies, bonded through mutual self-interest. Together, they bombard the public with a never-ending series of fictitious environmental disasters. Invariably, the businessman and free enterprise are to blame.
The Environmental Party and the mass media also conspire to provide government with a clear mandate to micromanage all aspects of human activity. While scientific truth is not established by vote, political reality is. The Environmental Party, government and mass media represent a triad of self-interest that excludes the public interest. They are succeeding in dismantling democracy and free choice where all previous efforts have failed.
The only way to defeat them is by grassroots activism through private groups like the one I work for—the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). These groups, though small and often unknown to the general public, can have an important influence on the issues of our time, especially on environmental issues that have become mired in politics and media hype.
Discrediting Science and Government
But the brilliance of Environmental Party strategy lies in its ongoing attempt to discredit science and government and to persuade the public habitually to place its trust in the proclamations of the Party’s political activists. Here are the results of a survey by the Democratic research firm of Marttila & Kiley, and the Republican firm of Market Strategies, Inc. reported in the Washington Times last August:
- Only 15 percent of the American public trusts what government scientists say.
- Only 6 percent trusts scientists seen as representing industry.
- 68 percent implicitly believes political activists.
- 67 percent agrees with the statement, “Threats to the environment are as serious as environmental groups say they are.”
Virtually all scientific research is funded by industry and government. Since the public no longer trusts these sources, it is apt to accept the “good faith” assertions of political activists as fact.
The Party’s Ruinous Environmental Ethic Diverting Attention from Real Dangers
In 1990, President Bush planted an elm in Indianapolis on Earth Day. He claimed that this tree was a symbol of the environment, and of the “problem” of global warming. The “green” elite that informs the President got part of it right: The elm tree does represent a problem—the environmental devastation resulting from the Party’s sham-environmental ethic.
The President’s elm is also representative of the specific problem faced by our eastern forests: It may soon die. But it will die not from acid rain or air pollution but from Dutch elm disease.
There are 150 million acres of eastern hardwoods that have been assaulted in recent years by a variety of imported diseases and pests. Before the chestnut (the most valuable tree in the eastern forests) was eliminated by blight, an enterprising squirrel could have gone from Maine to Georgia on the branches of chestnut trees, coming down only to cross rivers.
Oak, which has replaced much of the elm and chestnut, is being devastated by the gypsy moth. Beech bark disease from Canada is now making its way across the rest of North America after being introduced into Nova Scotia from Europe.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Party bemoans acid rain’s hypothetical risk to about 300,000 acres of high altitude spruce-fir forest from winter injury due to nitrogen fertilization.
Inflated fears about acid rain distract us from being concerned about the remaining 18 million acres of spruce-fir forest that are literally being chewed up by imported insect pests. For example, 90 percent of the mature fir trees in the Southern Appalachians are dead or dying because of the woolly adelgid. The spruce budworm has eaten millions of acres of red spruce in Maine and many more millions of acres in Canada.
While the Environmental Party diverted our attention and resources to acid rain, in 1986 the zebra mussel was introduced into our lakes from Norway. A comparison of the problems represented by acid rain and the zebra muscle is in order:
It is probable that acid rain acts to increase the acidity of naturally acidic, “fishless” waters. It may also acidify a very small percentage of low-productivity waters. But the Party has portrayed lakes that cover a few tens of thousands of acres—most of which we now know to be naturally acidic—as an environmental Armageddon.
The zebra mussel, on the other hand, is enormously proliferate and feeds on the planktonic food base of aquatic ecosystems. It has no natural enemies. In just a few years, it has rapidly spread to eat the planktonic base of the aquatic food chain, decreasing the productivity of tens of millions of acres of water. It has also done billions of dollars of damage to water supply systems and industry. Biologists see no way to prevent the zebra muscle from taking over our more than 100 million acres of high-productivity freshwater.
If the Environmental Party were a genuine champion of the environment, it would not be preoccupied with multibillion-dollar acid rain controls or its other pet concerns like the spotted owl and the snail darter. It would not embrace nominal environmental issues that are used to acquire control over vital industrial activities and it would not ignore greater environmental problems just because they cannot be used to achieve such control.
The truth is that the Environmental Party is dominated by false prophets whose concern for the environment masks their real agenda, which is social engineering, and their ultimate goal, which is power.
The Quest for Power
During the debate over the Clean Air Act of 1990, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed to the key problem when dealing with the Environmental Party: the triumph of process over reason. He declared that “environmental legislation created over the last twenty years has typically forbidden any analysis of cost or has demonstrated no concern for it.”
The Party is not interested in using logic and science to correctly identify problems, or to decide which responses might do more harm than good. It ruthlessly pursues any legislation that gives it the means not just to control economic activity, but all forms of human behavior. The result is that the Environmental Party has become the absolute secular power of the country. Any activity can be construed as unacceptably damaging to the environment. Pull one fish out of a lake, cut one tree, or plant a field and you can be said to have harmed the environment. If you breathe, you exhale CO2 and allegedly cause global warming.
The Environmental Party did not acquire power all at once; it took its lead from bureaucracy. Starting with the first federal water pollution law in 1948, government has given itself increasing authority to regulate everything from noise to wildlife. Ron Arnold notes that with the passage of RCRA (the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976) and “Superfund” (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980), government now has the authority to regulate literally every substance in existence.
The Environmental Party has imitated government by gradually expanding control over well known environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. These groups began as bona fide organizations promoting wise use, i.e., conservation of the land, but have abandoned, as former NWF president Ray Arnett and others have testified, conservation education for the more tempting pursuits of political advocacy and lobbying.
The New World Order: Color It Green
The Destruction of People
What values does the Environmental Party advocate? Ron Arnold states: “America’s new-found sensitivity to nature came packaged in a strongly anti-industry anti-people wrapper. It came with a gut feeling that people are no damn good, that everything we do damages nature and that we must be stopped before we totally destroy the earth.” The best-known environmentalist of our time, Dennis Hayes, proclaimed on the first Earth Day, “We feel that Earth Day has failed if it stops at pollution, if it doesn’t serve as a catalyst in [changing] the values of society.”
In his 1968 book, The Population Bomb (sold by the Sierra Club and endorsed in the foreword by Sierra Club Executive Director David Brower), Dr. Paul Ehrlich called people a “cancer” on the earth. He repeatedly asserted that “the battle to feed humanity is already lost.” He predicted that the world would run out of food by 1977, after which world population would begin to starve back to two billion by 2025.
To stave off this disaster, Ehrlich prescribed a form of global triage. He claimed that the Third World was hopeless and that we should help it die: specifically, we should increase the death rate by denying food and technology and reduce the birth rate through mandatory birth control and sterilization. The nations that were not beyond hope would have only mandatory birth control. Government experts would decide who could reproduce. In 1968, Ehrlich did not think that we were “mature” enough for this approach—yet.
Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, the world has not come to an end. Undeterred by his awesome capacity for error, however, Ehrlich has republished his thesis (The Population Explosion, 1989), merely changing the dates. Incredibly, he has retained his hallowed status as a prophet of the future, even receiving the 1990 MacArthur Foundation genius award.
With the help of Ehrlich and others like him, the Environmental Party is working hard to make its dismal world vision come true. For example, one of the 12 pieces of legislation the Environmental Party uses to rate Washington legislators is a bill to fund the United Nations’ program of compulsory sterilization in Third World countries receiving aid.
Global Warming: Another Manufactured Crisis
The U.N.’s alliance with the Environmental Party doesn’t end with schemes to kill off or stunt the Third World population; the stated fundamental goal of its international convention on global warming is no less than the development of a statist world government that will control every activity of life in all countries. The leading 17 industrial nations have signed an agreement in principle to implement such a plan to stave off the alleged horrors of global warming.
Global warming is but another manufactured environmental crisis whose real purpose is social engineering. World-class agronomists, geologists, and environmental scientists of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) find that if global warming occurs to the degree and extent that the doomsday global warming models predict, it will be of great benefit to the world! What these IPCC data mean for the U.S. alone is an increase of $12 billion per year in food production, $30-50 billion per year in water resources, an increase in wood of 80 billion cubic feet, and more than $500 billion in wood by 2050. (These prospects may be merely academic, however, since a number of scientists admit that if we look at the last fifty years, rather than the century average as is customary, temperatures are not increasing.)
Nevertheless, the well-publicized plans of the U. N. and the Environmental Party require Third World nations to place large areas into “forever wild” nature preserves to prevent their dire and, predictably, false warnings about global warming from coming true. Additionally, these nations will be denied use of their remaining natural resources by the banning of primitive slash-and-bum practices and of modern agricultural and transportation technologies based on fossil fuels—ostensibly to minimize emissions of CO2.
The real consequence of such action is to prevent Third World countries from becoming developed. The U.N.’s and the Environmental Party’s plan effectively blocks them from following the developed nations through the demographic transition to prosperity and near-zero population growth rates.
The plan is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Underdeveloped nations will remain underdeveloped, and will retain low economic growth, high population rates, poverty, and concomitant environmental devastation.
The Party’s Hostility Towards God-Centered Religion
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-16
The Environmental Party has given us a new definition of “social responsibility,” one that has little to do with people and much to do with rainforests, sea turtles, dolphins and spotted owls. It has also given us a new definition of man, one that has important religious significance. It was the misanthropic core philosophy of the new environmentalism in the 1970s that originally led Reverend Richard Neuhaus (a founder of National Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam) to write the book, In Defense of People, in which he pointed out that this movement puts the “rights of nature” above the “rights of man.” Today, we also know that under the Environmental Party’s proposed new world order, the lost rights of the many are concentrated into the hands of the “knowing few” who administer “the rights of nature.”
The core of this environmental totalitarianism is anti-God, even though some general Judeo-Christian or other religious principles are acknowledged and even venerated by many Environmental Party members.
God and the Environmental Party know that man is a sinner. Both define what sin is. Even though we sin, the loving God views people, science and technology as blessings. Under the loving God, we have free choice. The Party does not love people, science or technology. It wants to replace God with its own authority and eliminate free choice. It worships Creation, but not the Creator.
Defeating the Environmental Party
The Environmental Party does not respect the sanctity of science. It manipulates science as a tool of persuasion. It does not respect the sanctity of the environment. It manufactures environmental as a means of gaining control over the resources that support modern civilization. One of the outcomes of this siege on civilization is the destruction of the environment.
The Party does not respect the sanctity of an individual’s right to self-determination. It holds that, given the truth, “we the people” do not have the ability to make the “correct” decisions. Only the Party elite have that ability.
The Party views the present world order—which places power in the hands of the people—as dangerous and unacceptable. Its leaders must feel ironic satisfaction in using our own free and democratic institutions to force us through a form of boot camp in which they break us down and remake us in a new “green” image.
Those same leaders know that “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Let us prove them right—not by doing nothing—but by defeating the Environmental Party’s bid for power.