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Customer Review

168 of 189 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unintended Consequences?, May 15, 2008
This review is from: The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About--Because They Helped Cause Them (Hardcover)
Iain Murray has done a real service with The Really Inconvenient Truths. Perhaps a majority of us are now environmentalists. Yet the track record of environmentalist legislation and regulation is unenviable. There are problems with the incentives created by many bills.

The ban on DDT might have saved the live save the lives of a few birds, but it has cost deaths of Africans from malaria. Ethanol increases food prices. The endangered species act creates perverse incentives. There are what we might term as unintended consequences, as far as most environmentalists are concerned. It is important to note, however, that there does exist a lunatic fringe of the environmentalist movement, who will interpret part of the results discussed in this book as a job well done.

In some respects The Really Inconvenient Truths is unremarkable. Much of its analysis derives from common sense economics. Some of its examples are already known. This in not the first time someone has noted a connection between malaria and the DDT ban. However, The Really Inconvenient Truths is quite remarkable in the current political environment. This is a very politically incorrect book. As Murray himself notes, there is certain populist fervor among environmentalists. Murray deserves credit for taking on such a emotionally and politically charged issue.

Part of the problem of environmentalism is the conceit of social democrats and socialists who think that the world is made better through conscious planning. Yet most environmentalists are just normal well intentioned people, whose faith in government solutions has caused them to implement the wrong solutions. Why is it that the environmentalist movement retains its momentum despite the severe unintended consequences of its policies? This movement is dangerous because it is based on emotion, rather than the type of cool headed reasoning found in The Really Inconvenient Truths. Sound reasoning is important here because many lives are at stake. Bravo!
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2008 7:16:38 AM PST
Craig Hunt says:
DDT as well as other options are being used in Africa to control malaria. Through conscious planning, Africans are targeting malaria sources without resorting to the widespread use of DDT for general agricultural purposes which can lead to bird population decline. Human health and environmental health are not mutually exclusive. This is an example of how cool-headed reasoning can result in a win-win solution. The age of cynicism and rhetorical fallacy is over.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2008 2:10:42 PM PST
Lisa Brandt says:
Yes, DDT is being used in Africa, as Mr. Murray points out, in countries that can afford to buy their own. But it is anathema to aid organizations, as he also points out, so poor countries don't get any. The reference to "widespread use of DDT for general agricultural purposes" is not relevant, because Mr. Murray wholly agrees that that is inappropriate and always has been wrong.

Posted on Dec 30, 2008 11:12:28 AM PST
tex says:
this book should be read in conjunction with 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science' by Tom Bethell. Here is a rough guide to the contents:

- radioactivity: not as bad as they say, and can do some good (hormesis theory)!!
- dioxin: not that poisonous actually, and easily proved
- DDT: not poisonous, not persistent, does not harm the birds' eggs
- African AIDS: what disease do see here? test needed to diagnose...
- cloning: a miracle cure looking for a use
- stem cell bioengineering: ditto
- the great cancer error: forgotten science - the wrong gene model of cancer? [cf. Coley's toxin cure]

Two chapters on EVOLUTION
- Darwin's theory-spinner. Lack of evidence, then, now. The humanist-atheist mindset and motives leading to its acceptance. `Life...a cosmic accident, purposeless and pointless'. (p.200)
- the persistent and flagrant fraudulence of the `proofs' including Haeckel AND the peppered moths (stuck on the trees!)

- global warming, not
- biodiversity, how to define a species (exaggerate, move goalposts)

One chapter on NUCLEAR ENERGY
- yes, we need more, and windmills do suck

One chapter on GENETICS
- science in search of research grants (taxes...Congress loves to spend your money). Promise big, deliver small, or not at all. [Actually, this is a very hot basic research area, so he may be being too harsh here.]

One chapter on the POLITICS OF SCIENCE
- there were no `flat earthers'. Why the pseudo-war of science and religion is a truth-reversal.

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2009 11:33:30 AM PDT
BO stinks says:
Respectfully, in my opinion African governments couldn't pour pee out of a boot with the instructions printed on the sole of the boot. Cynicism is over? Yessir, right away, sir. Yeah, right. Check back with me on 1/1/2010, and lets compare notes then. Otay?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2009 4:11:20 PM PDT
Indeed the kleptocrats who siphon value out of Africa wouldn't pour it out of a boot, they'd send it to their Swiss bank.

Posted on Sep 1, 2009 7:50:03 AM PDT
"The ban on DDT might have saved the live save the lives of a few birds, but it has cost deaths of Africans from malaria."

In the mind of the eco-nazis, a policy that saves birds and kills humans is pure bliss.

Posted on Jun 9, 2010 8:14:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2010 8:25:46 AM PDT
Wired says:
You and Murray and Fox and Limbaugh and endless others will always look at any type of environmental efforts not in the impact of what happens if something is NOT done, rather the perception of what happens to one species (human) if the regulation is enacted. So from the righties, it would be better to ensure the destruction of an entire segment of the ecosystem than to eliminate an arguable percentage (certainly not 100%) of the Malaria vectors. So it is better to destroy SOME of the Malaria mosquitos (because you will never destroy ALL of them) while you surely risk destruction of ENTIRE groups of bird species? Righties ALWAYS look at environmental issues as to how it impacts humans despite the fact that in most cases we're the cause of the problem. The gulf oil gusher is a perfect example. By the time this is done, we'll have massive areas where fishing can no longer be done due to contamination and dead zones yet we don't dare discontinue offshore drilling because of our oil addiction yet we don't dare divert any food production acreage to fuel production because the food prices for the most obese nation on the planet could go up. The argument of the environmentalist is that these catastrophes are of our own making while the argument of the rightie-pro business side is that we dare not do anything to impede the march towards destruction because it might supress somebody's amassing of huge quantities of $$$. The rightie-pro business side is that the amassing of $$$ is sacred and all other things must be sacrificed first. The environmentalist argument is that all the $$$ on the planet will not correct irreversable destruction so it's better to try to avoid the destruction before it happens than to try to fix it after it's done. The rightie argues that we dare not try to reduce dependency on coal for electricity production because too many financial streams will be disrupted. The unintended but very real result is that more and more species of fish cannot be consumed because of mercury contamination of the world's oceans. The effect of mercury poisoning on mammalian neurology is well known and increasing concentrations in fish species cannot be fixed with any amount of $$$ after the damage has been done yet we dare not risk increasing the cost of our electricity. When we have so many nay-sayers who look solely on how environmentalist efforts have a negative impact on human's artificial progress, large segments of society are convinced it's OK to turn a blind eye to the damage done by the combination of overpopulation and greed. People like you make the absurd contention that economic concerns have a higher priority than environmental concerns and that our species must always have priority over all other species combined. A species that exploits it's environment to the degree that humans do we will bring about the crash of the ecology. It is as inevitable as tomorrow and it is future generations that will suffer for it, not us. They will say "what were they thinking" and all they'll have to do is read books like the ones you praise. The crash will not come upon us so fast that it will be obvious to any idiot like a freight train bearing down on a school bus load of kindergardeners but will happen slowly like the person who smokes a few cigarettes a day and then at 50 wakes up with lung cancer. That cancer could have easily been avoided yet once it happens, massive expensive efforts must be made to make some minimal progress towards, in most cases, a temporary repair. So bravo to the nay-sayers who work hard to push us closer to the precipice at an ever increasing speed. You guys are kind of like a doctor who says to a patient that they're showing early signs of cirrhosis so just ignore it, drink up and have fun, you're going to die anyway and far be it from me to be a party pooper. Our party will likely continue for our lifetimes so lets all party like it's 1999...somebody else's children is going to suffer from the hangover. Do yourself a favor, read up on mixture toxicity and effects of environmental stressors, then get back to us after you've learned something.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2010 8:57:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 30, 2010 8:58:03 AM PDT
Diapason says:
Wired, please remember this! Paragraphs are our friends.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2012 2:48:11 PM PST
I. M. Best says:
Well stated! And as for nuclear energy, the US doesn't even seem to be able to get one plant off the ground, so wind energy is a no brainer- we can put online hundreds of megawatts of capability in a year. To naysayers- try to do your research before you talk.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 9:59:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2012 10:10:16 AM PST
M. Mcnivens says:
OK, so green groups lobby and protest to stop nuclear power, and this means that wind is a no brainer- got it, nice logic. Wired's "well stated" position starts off placing emphasis on birds and fish over humans- this is a value judgment, and a rather insidious one. He ends worrying about future generations- but the death of many children by malaria cut off how many future lives? How many young people do not go on to have children because of malaria? Lost potential lives are a hidden cost (except for those who have read Derek Parfit).

Possible arguments against DDT are that it might cause human health problems and mosquitos might evolve immunity to DDT. When or if these propositions are proved, DDT may become utterly useless. At the moment light use of DDT can save many human lives- potentially millions over not too many years. Millions of human lives are worth more than a few birds. Naysayers do research and have superior pro-human values Mr Best. Perhaps you are the one who needs to think about things more clearly...

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