Recently a popular imported mineral water was removed from the market because tests showed that samples of it contained thirty-five parts per billion of benzene. Although this was an amount so small that only fifteen years ago it would have been impossible even to detect, it was assumed that considerations of public health required withdrawal of the product.
Such a case, of course, is not unusual nowadays. The presence of parts per billion of a toxic substance is routinely extrapolated into being regarded as a cause of human deaths. And whenever the number of projected deaths exceeds one in a million (or less), environmentalists demand that the government remove the offending pesticide, preservative, or other alleged bearer of toxic pollution from the market. They do so, even though a level of risk of one in a million is one-third as great as that of an object from airplane falling from the sky on one's home.
While it is not necessary to question the good intentions and sincerity of the overwhelming majority of the members of the environmental or ecology movement, it is vital that the public realize that in this seemingly lofty and noble movement itself can be found more than a little evidence of the most profound toxicity.
Consider, for example, the following quotation from David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, in his prominently featured Los Angeles Times book review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature:
"This [man's "remaking the earth by degrees"] makes what is happening no less tragic for those of us who value wildness for its own sake, not for what value it confers upon mankind. I, for one, cannot wish upon either my children or the rest of Earth's biota a tame planet, be it monstrous or - however unlikely - benign. McKibben is a biocentrist, and so am I. We are not interested in the utility of a particular species or free-flowing river, or ecosystem, to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value - to me - than another human body, or a billion of them.
"Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line - at about a billion years ago, maybe half that - we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.
"It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."
While Mr. Graber openly wishes for the death of a billion people, Mr. McKibben, the author he reviewed, quotes with approval John Muir's benediction to alligators, describing it as a "good epigram" for his own, "humble approach": "'Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty!'"
Such statements represent pure, unadulterated poison. They express ideas and wishes which, if acted upon, would mean terror and death for enormous numbers of human beings.
These statements, and others like them, are made by prominent members of the environmental movement. The significance of such statements cannot be diminished by ascribing them only to a small fringe of the environmental movement. Indeed, even if such views were indicative of the thinking of only 5 or 10 percent of the members of the environmental movement - the "deep ecology," Earth First! wing - they would represent toxicity in the environmental movement as a whole not at the level of parts per billion or even parts per million, but at the level of parts per hundred, which, of course, is an enormously higher level of toxicity than is deemed to constitute a danger to human life in virtually every other case in which deadly poison is present.
But the toxicity level of the environmental movement as a whole is substantially greater even than parts per hundred. It is certainly at least at the level of several parts per ten. This is obvious from the fact that the mainstream of the environmental movement makes no fundamental or significant criticisms of the likes of Messrs. Graber and McKibben. Indeed, John Muir, whose wish for alligators to "be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty" McKibben approvingly quotes, was the founder of the Sierra Club, which is proud to acknowledge that fact. The Sierra Club, of course, is the leading environmental organization and is supposedly the most respectable of them.
There is something much more important than the Sierra Club's genealogy, however - something which provides an explanation in terms of basic principle of why the mainstream of the ecology movement does not attack what might be thought to be merely its fringe. This is a fundamental philosophical premise which the mainstream of the movement shares with the alleged fringe and which logically implies hatred for man and his achievements. Namely, the premise that nature possesses intrinsic value - i.e., that nature is valuable in and of itself, apart from all contribution to human life and well-being.
The antihuman premise of nature's intrinsic value goes back, in the Western world, as far as St. Francis of Assisi, who believed in the equality of all living creatures: man, cattle, birds, fish, and reptiles. Indeed, precisely on the basis of this philosophical affinity, and at the wish of the mainstream of the ecology movement, St. Francis of Assisi has been officially declared the patron saint of ecology by the Roman Catholic Church.
The premise of nature's intrinsic value extends to an alleged intrinsic value of forests, rivers, canyons, and hillsides - to everything and anything that is not man. Its influence is present in the Congress of the United States, in such statements as that recently made by Representative Morris Udall of Arizona that a frozen, barren desert in Northern Alaska, where substantial oil deposits appear to exist, is "a sacred place" that should never be given over to oil rigs and pipelines. It is present in the supporting statement of a representative of the Wilderness Society that "There is a need to protect the land not just for wildlife and human recreation, but just to have it there." It has, of course, also been present in the sacrifice of the interests of human beings for the sake of snail darters and spotted owls.
The idea of nature's intrinsic value inexorably implies a desire to destroy man and his works because it implies a perception of man as the systematic destroyer of the good, and thus as the systematic doer of evil. Just as man perceives coyotes, wolves, and rattlesnakes as evil because they regularly destroy the cattle and sheep he values as sources of food and clothing, so on the premise of nature's intrinsic value, the environmentalists view man as evil, because, in the pursuit of his well-being, man systematically destroys the wildlife, jungles, and rock formations that the environmentalists hold to be intrinsically valuable. Indeed, from the perspective of such alleged intrinsic values of nature, the degree of man's alleged destructiveness and evil is directly in proportion to his loyalty to his essential nature. Man is the rational being. It is his application of his reason in the form of science, technology, and an industrial civilization that enables him to act on nature on the enormous scale on which he now does. Thus, it is his possession and use of reason - manifested in his technology and industry - for which he is hated.
The doctrine of intrinsic value is itself only a rationalization for a preexisting hatred of man. It is invoked not because one attaches any actual value to what is alleged to have intrinsic value, but simply to serve as a pretext for denying values to man. For example, caribou feed upon vegetation, wolves eat caribou, and microbes attack wolves. Each of these, the vegetation, the caribou, the wolves, and the microbes, is alleged by the environmentalists to possess intrinsic value. Yet absolutely no course of action is indicated for man. Should man act to protect the intrinsic value of the vegetation from destruction by the caribou? Should he act to protect the intrinsic value of the caribou from destruction by the wolves? Should he act to protect the intrinsic value of the wolves from destruction by the microbes? Even though each of these alleged intrinsic values is at stake, man is not called upon to do anything. When does the doctrine of intrinsic value serve as a guide to what man should do? Only when man comes to attach value to something. Then it is invoked to deny him the value he seeks. For example, the intrinsic value of the vegetation et al. is invoked as a guide to man's action only when there is something man wants, such as oil, and then, as in the case of Northern Alaska, its invocation serves to stop him from having it. In other words, the doctrine of intrinsic value is nothing but a doctrine of the negation of human values. It is pure nihilism.
It should be realized that it is logically implicit in what has just been said that to establish a public office such as that recently proposed in California, of "environmental advocate," would be tantamount to establishing an office of Negator of Human Valuation. The work of such an office would be to stop man from achieving his values for no other reason than that he was man and wanted to achieve them.
Of course, the environmental movement is not pure poison. Very few people would listen to it if it were. As I have said, it is poisonous only at the level of several parts per ten. Mixed in with the poison and overlaying it as a kind of sugar coating is the advocacy of many measures which have the avowed purpose of promoting human life and well-being, and among these, some that, considered in isolation, might actually achieve that purpose. The problem is that the mixture is poisonous. And thus, when one swallows environmentalism, one inescapably swallows poison.
Given the underlying nihilism of the movement, it is certainly not possible to accept at face value any of the claims it makes of seeking to improve human life and well-being, especially when following its recommendations would impose on people great deprivation or cost. Indeed, nothing could be more absurd or dangerous than to take advice on how to improve one's life and well-being from those who wish one dead and whose satisfaction comes from human terror, which, of course, as I have shown, is precisely what is wished in the environmental movement - openly and on principle. This conclusion, it must be stressed, applies irrespective of the scientific or academic credentials of an individual. If an alleged scientific expert believes in the intrinsic value of nature, then to seek his advice is equivalent to seeking the advice of a medical doctor who was on the side of the germs rather than of the patient, if such a thing can be imagined. Obviously, Congressional committees taking testimony from alleged expert witnesses on the subject of proposed environmental legislation need to be aware of this fact and never to forget it.
Not surprisingly, in virtually every case, the claims made by the environmentalists have turned out to be false or simply absurd. Consider, for example, the recent case of Alar, a chemical spray used for many years on apples in order to preserve their color and freshness. Here, it turned out that even if the environmentalists' claims had actually been true, and the use of Alar would result in 4.2 deaths per million over a seventy-year lifetime, all that would have been signified was that eating apples sprayed with Alar would then have been less dangerous than driving to the supermarket to buy the apples! (Consider: 4.2 deaths per million over a seventy year period means that in any one year in the United States, with its population of roughly two hundred and fifty million people, approximately fifteen deaths would be attributable to Alar! This is the result obtained by multiplying 4.2 per million times 250 million and then dividing by 70. In the same one-year period of time, approximately fifty thousand deaths occur in motor vehicle accidents in the United States, most of them within a few miles of the victims' homes, and undoubtedly far more than fifteen of them on trips to or from supermarkets.) Nevertheless, a panic ensued, followed by a plunge in the sale of apples, the financial ruin of an untold number of apple growers, and the virtual disappearance of Alar.
Before the panic over Alar, there was the panic over asbestos. According to Forbes magazine, it turns out that in the forms in which it is normally used in the United States, asbestos is one-third as likely to be the cause of death as being struck by lightning......
Fanatical EPA rules stop refineries and raise gas prices
Ever-increasing worldwide demand for gasoline, U.S. oil refineries operating at or near capacity, and the recent one-two punch from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulting in facility shutdowns and infrastructure damage, are major reasons that gasoline has spiked to over $3 per gallon. Of these reasons, only the increasing worldwide demand is more or less inevitable. But even rising demand can be satisfied by increasing supply - and this is where action can be taken, according to a December 2004 report issued by the National Petroleum Council, a federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy.
One major bottleneck in the gasoline supply is refinery capacity. If you've followed the news coverage about the gasoline spike, you've probably heard that we need more refineries - especially since we've not built a new one in 30 years. But don't hold your breath waiting for construction of new refineries. In addition to the hurdles of not-in-my-backyard opposition and burdensome environmental regulation, the oil refining business has not produced terrific financial returns for investors - a 5.5 percent return on investment in the oil refining industry versus a 12.7 percent return on investment in blue-chip stocks from 1993 to 2002, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The good news, however, is that while new refineries may not be built any time soon, production at existing refineries can be expanded - and that's what's been happening over the last 20 years. Remarkably, we've gone from about 320 refineries producing about 100 billion gallons of gas in 1980 to about 150 refineries producing about 130 billion gallons of gasoline in 2004. But while it is possible to expand domestic refinery capacity without constructing new refineries, current and planned EPA rules act as disincentives to refinery expansion.
In 1997, the EPA made air quality standards across the country more stringent. As I've written in this column many times before, these standards were not based on sound science and, consequently, aren't likely to produce benefits commensurate with their $100 billion annual cost. Although the EPA's 1997 rules have not yet been fully implemented, states are already being held hostage by them. States where air quality standards fail to meet (or "attain" in air pollution lingo) EPA air quality standards can be penalized through loss of federal highway funds - a coveted source of revenue to states.
But the EPA stands ready to penalize the states before the 1997 rules have had the chance to have an impact on air quality. In the language of the National Petroleum Council report, "As currently structured, [air quality] attainment deadlines precede the benefits that will be achieved from emissions reductions already planned." The effect of enforcing the EPA rules before they've had a chance to have an effect on air quality will be to force states to take action that will discourage refinery expansion. States may require refineries to implement more costly emissions controls that further reduce the economic attractiveness of refinery expansion or reduce the viability and profitability of existing domestic refining. Less domestic refining means greater reliance on imported gasoline, which can be more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
As if enforcing air quality standards that haven't had a chance to materialize yet isn't bad enough, the EPA is preparing to embark on a new rulemaking process to make those standards even more stringent - forcing states to take even more drastic action that would act as even a greater disincentive on refinery expansion. While the President and Congress might not have the political will to force the EPA to revise its 1997 standards, they should at least press the agency to delay the attainment deadlines. This would give states sufficient time to assess the impact of the 1997 rules and perhaps not make refinery expansion any more economically unattractive than it already seems to be.
The NPC recommended in a 2000 report that "Regulations should be based on sound science and a thorough analysis of cost-effectiveness." President Bush issued Executive Order 13211 in 2001 requiring agencies to consider the impacts of regulatory actions on energy supply, distribution and use. But the NPC 2004 report spotlights EPA's air quality standards as "examples of regulations that [do not] reflect a thorough analysis of their energy supply effects." We may not be able to do anything about the ever-increasing global demand for energy or the extreme weather, but our leaders certainly have the authority to force government agencies to use sound science, cost-benefit analysis and, from time to time, even some common sense
BRITISH ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY PRESS RELEASE: PLAGUE OF FLIES COMING
What a laugh! But I suppose we should congratulate them on the "if" in the part I have highlighted
In 75 years' time, the UK could be plagued by fly populations 250% up on today's levels if forecasts of climate change prove accurate, ecologists have warned. Writing in a special climate change issue of the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, Dave Goulson and colleagues from the University of Southampton found that if the worst case scenario for climate change occurs - a 5 deg C rise in temperature by 2080 - house fly numbers in the UK could explode.
Studies on the ecological impact of climate change has to date largely focused on butterflies and birds, two groups for which data on distribution and abundance abounds. Until now, ecologists have been less keen to study flies, but says Dr Goulson: "The annoyance and public health risks associated with large populations of flies are considerable, and potential increases in their abundance as a result of climate change are a cause for concern."
Between January 2000 and December 2003 Dr Goulson and his colleagues monitored populations of calyptrate fly species - including the house fly Musca domestica and bluebottles Calliphora spp. - at six sites in Hampshire, three of which were near landfill sites. Over the four years they set almost 10,000 yellow sticky traps and caught more than 100,000 calyptrate flies.
Using the first three years' data for weekly fly catches and prevailing weather conditions (temperature, rainfall and humidity) Dr Goulson constructed a model of the relationship between weather and fly populations. He then tested the model's predictions against the actual number of flies caught in the fourth year of the study.
Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.
Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists
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