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Eco-Sanity: A Common Sense Guide To Environmentalism Paperback – January 1, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
Guess what? We're not killing the planet!
Bast, Hill and Rue survey air and water quality, forests, global warming, ozone depletion, solid wastes and acid rain among other environmental topics. Bast, Hill and Rue succeed in showing that few if any of the hysterics coming from environmentalist circles are really warranted. The best scientific evidence we have tells us, for example, that our air and water supplies are getting cleaner, not dirtier. Total air pollution emissions in the U.S. today are much lower than they were in 1940, and lower than they were in the 1960s and 1970s. Water quality has shown equivalent improvements. Likewise, there are more acres of forest in the U.S. today than anytime since the 1950s. Regarding global warming, the evidence of a phenomenon that can be traced to human industrial activity is nowhere near as decisive as both the "greens" and the major media would have us believe. Average temperatures fluctuate across the globe for a variety of reasons, some of them too complex to determine exact causes, and we simply have not been keeping records for long enough to map out a direct cause-and-effect connection between warming temperatures and human industrial action. Certainly the science is not decisive enough for the massive changes in the whole economic order being demanded by many "green" activists (many of whom--let's just say it--are socialists who want a "new world order" they can control).
The authors present similar evidence regarding other environmentalist "issues." Consider ozone-layer depletion. Bast et al draw our attention to the fact that global ozone levels have *increased*, not decreased, since 1986. The "hole in the ozone layer" about which "greens" have obsessed was observed back in 1956, long before the man-made chlorofluorocarbons blamed for the phenomenon could have had this kind of effect. Again, real science does not support extravagent "green" claims.
In short, there is no "environmental crisis" in any large-scale sense. The planet is not dying. Nor are we overpopulating ourselves toward extinction. If anything, we are getting healthier because of increased levels of prosperity over the past half-century. Prosperity--created by market-driven and not-command-driven economic systems--leads to a healthier environment because it leads people to adopt more environmentally sound patterns of action. Worries over the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources are exaggerated, because the available reserves dwarf actual consumption. There would be more reserves available, moreover (e.g., in northeastern Alaska), if only the "greens" would let us drill for them. We have the technology to do so in ways that accommodate legitimate calls for environmental protection.
These revelations, important as they are, are not the major strength of this book. Its major strength is to offer a set of principles for *sound reasoning* about environmental issues. These principles do not simply brush the subject off. Obviously we don't want to foul our own nest. There have been environmental problems in the past, but the point is, the situation is under control. Improved technology, the product of human ingenuity that can never be predicted in advance, has consistently provided *solutions* whereas radical environmentalists have provided only prophesies of doom. The real issue, therefore, is "green" hysterics--especially since these hysterics are so often repeated mechanically, like mantras, in the major media.
ECO-SANITY thus offers 36 "rules for eco-sanity" that ought to lead us to a more informed view of how to protect the environment in ways that do not undermine necessary economic liberty. Here is a sampling:
-Correlation is not causation. In eco-systems, cause-and-effect is very complex, and we should never jump to conclusions (e.g., "industrial pollution" is a direct cause of "global warming"), particularly if these conclusions could impact on public policies in ways that could prove to be economically disastrous over the long run.
-We can never avoid risk completely.
-Risks, however, can be measured and ranked.
-It is impossible to prove that something does not exist. (This is that old adage about the logical impossibility of proving a negative.)
-Science is not immune to politics. (Note that the views of climatologists who object to the above global warming thesis are never reported by the major media, much of which is sold on the "green" agenda.)
-Ownership leads to better stewardship. (If land is owned as property, in other words, and protected by private property rights, it is likely to be better taken care of.
-Some environmental groups profit from false alarms.
-Don't react out of fear.
This, as I observed, is only a sampling. For the rest, I recommend getting the book. The point is, we should stop reacting to hysterical claims about a global environmental crisis for which "American capitalism" is almost invariably blamed. And though Bast, Hill and Rue don't dwell on it as much as I would have, we need to question the motives of the "green" movement, especially since this movement now operates at an international level, very well organized, and bankrolled by people with very deep pockets (think of the Rockefellers, for example). There is pretty good evidence that this movement is motivated more by a desire for global power than a sincere belief in protecting the environment. Part of this effort consists of the above-mentioned media blackout on the views of scientists who question the global warming thesis, for example, as well as more recent efforts to destroy the reputations of dissident scientists such as Bjorn Lomborg (author of THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST) who have presented direct scientific evidence of the flimsiness of the science behind the "green" movement. When efforts are made to ruin dissidents instead of answer them with responsible arguments, watch out! You're dealing with people more interested in an agenda than the truth.