Environmentalists claim the moral high ground: their interests are in preserving our precious planet, protecting defenseless animals, ensuring our children have clean water to drink and air to breathe. Yet environmentalists' policies have been a much more mixed bag in terms of their actual consequences. Indisputably, many regulations and initiatives have reduced pollution and improved air and water quality, to the benefit of everyone. But other environmental efforts have backfired, some with truly disastrous consequences.
Consider what's happened with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. The pesticide came into use during World War II and helped eliminate malaria in
As a result of the ban, malaria remained a plague in many poor countries, particularly in
So during the decades in which DDT was not used, when the world bowed to undoubtedly well-intentioned environmental activists, about 50 million people--overwhelmingly African children--died, mostly unnecessarily.
Ethanol provides another, though far less dramatic, example. For years, biofuels were heralded as the promising alternative to fossil fuels, which would reduce our carbon output, improve the environment, and provide needed energy. Yet it turns out biofuel's environmental impact is much more complicated.
So the once environmentally favored solution to our energy problems--and still a politically-favored one--is now recognized as a potential environmental catastrophe. It's worth noting that, beyond biofuel's environmental effects, using food for fuel has a significant impact on the worldwide food supply. As more crops and land are dedicated to producing fuel, the costs of food will climb, which could exacerbate problems of poverty and hunger, particularly in already impoverished countries.
Given this experience, the public would be wise to be cautious in whole-heartedly embracing the policy prescriptions of environmentalists. The movie, Not Evil, Just Wrong, makes the connection between the DDT saga and what's going on with climate change today. Prominent environmentalists promise that they are confident that man is causing the Earth to warm, and they don't want to contemplate (at least publicly) alternative theories about how the sun might be responsible for warming, that the warming isn't unprecedented and therefore could be naturally occurring, or to linger on potential problems on their own temperature readings that might make warming seem more extreme than it is. They don't want to consider the costs of policies that they want to oppose in the name of combating global warming, or just how ineffectual those policies might be. Yet the public should consider what a significant decline in worldwide wealth will mean, particularly for those who are already poor.
Those who question global warming alarmists' claims and policy prescriptions have been compared to holocaust deniers. Yet what are we to call environmentalists whose policies have resulted in the deaths of millions and could exacerbate poverty and hunger? The movie title Not Evil, Just Wrong may be too charitable.
- Extreme Environmentalism
- Global Warming, Ethanol, DDT and Environmentalism's Dark Side
- Obama's Climate Czar Working Toward National Energy Policy
- Obama's Offshore Oil Decision Has Political Dimension
- Climate Change Debate and The Future of Energy
- Dirty Truth About Air: Pollution's Effect On Heart Health Obesity and Fertility
- Climategate Shows There's No Global Warming Consensus
- Climategate Reflects Changing Debate over Global Warming
- Global Warming Fact Denial Won't Change Climate Back
- Watch What Obama Says Not What He Does on Cap and Trade Off-Shore Drilling
- Energy-Efficient Updates Help Homeowners Save Cash
- Going Green Is Good Business
- Small Town Grapples with Legacy of Chemical Byproduct
- Side by Side in Need for Green Growth: China and America try cooperation
- Jolt for Energy Innovation: Government Investing
- National Power Grid That Thinks
- Exxon: Slow Evolution of an Oil Giant
- Stuttering Start for Electric Cars
- Going the Extra Mile
- Front Line of the Climate War
Environment - Global Warming, Ethanol, DDT and Environmentalism's Dark Side | Reader Comments
(c) 2010 U.S. News & World Report