THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 528, July 19, 2009
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
When I began to write this article I was hoping to have it done by Earth Day, but I found myself occupied by other things. Not that it matters, since the mainstream media and the government schools sprout off green nonsense on a daily basis. Most of the green rhetoric is spread by radical leftists that are more hell bent on destroying capitalism then protecting the earth. I remember the misinformation that was fed to me and my peers. They told us that landfills were filling up and recycling was the only way to stop it. They made it seem like the environment was getting worse and drastic action needed to be taken.
When I was in grammar school back in the early nineties it seemed like my age group was constantly bombarded by environmental propaganda. Back then we had environmental cartoons such as Captain Planet and Widget the World Watcher. Those cartoons made it seem like the earth was headed towards an ecological disaster. It is no wonder that so many people believe the world is about to face an apocalypse.
One of the biggest misconceptions that I had was the idea of recycling. They had us believe that we would be up to our necks in garbage, unless everybody recycled. It seemed like everybody was recycling. At least that is what the public schools, the media and various forms of programming for children wanted us to believe. I remember feeling guilty because my family didn't recycle. I would later discover the truth about recycling many years later. Thanks to my two favorite magicians and libertarian debunkers, Penn and Teller I learned the truth. On their show, Bullshit, they pointed out that recycling was one of the most unproductive, wasteful, and expensive projects ever created. With the exception of aluminum cans, it is more cost efficient to throw out recyclable items and start from scratch. With the amount of time and effort it takes to recycle, more resources are actually wasted instead of preserved. As for landfills we have thousands of years before we have to worry about the lack of space.
Another one my favorite misconceptions is the tree myth. In middle school I remember being told that we were running out of trees and that we needed to use less paper to preserve the trees that we have left. They also told us that since trees provided oxygen, the lack of trees would endanger our air supply. What they failed to tell us was that both the lumber industry and paper manufacturers replant trees on a regular basis. Why? It is more cost efficient to replant trees then to search for more to cut down. This was something else that I learned from Penn and Teller.
When I learned about all this, it made me angry. Aside from being lied to, I didn't like being made to feel bad about not participating in a project that was actually a total sham. I remember another instance in middle school where they gave us worksheets that had printing so small that you practically needed a magnifying glass to read it. Not surprisingly, saving trees was their excuse. The real reason was because they were too cheap to use the right amount of paper needed for the worksheets.
The biggest environmental falsehood that is being passed off as a scientific fact is global warming. I admit that I am a layman when it comes to anything scientific. I do know when a group of people are trying to further their agenda. I am always skeptical of any group who says that the science is settled and that there is no room for debate. I am even more skeptical of a group that claims that they have the facts on their side, but will try to shout down any scientist with a dissenting opinion.
One of the guys that the alarmists tried to shout down was Bjorn Lomborg, an environmentalist who has shown much skepticism when it comes to global warming. Lomborg has written two books, titled The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. For the record he does believe in man-made global warming, but unlike the Al Gores of the world he doesn't believe that the changes in climate will be as catastrophic as the alarmists would have us believe. Instead of debating Lomborg's research, the alarmists in the scientific community took upon themselves to attack the credibility of the skeptical environmentalist.
Character assassination is the favorite tactic of the alarmist crowd. Instead of using science to prove their points, they resort to accusing skeptics of being in league with the oil companies or some other corporation. The one thing that they can't change is the number of holes in their climate change gospel. One of them being that there hasn't been any significant warming since 1998. There are even some who think that we may be heading into a cooling trend. Never mind that the earth has had a history of climate shifts. That little icy piece of land wasn't called Greenland for the sake of irony. At one point the place was populated with green vegetation and the Vikings that lived off of it. That was until the mini-ice age made it too cold for people to settle.
To the embarrassment of environmental extremists, many of their gloom and doom predictions have been proven wrong. Back in the seventies, there were many scientists who said that the cooling trend that they were in would lead us to the next ice age. Many environmentalists like to downplay this and claim that it was only a few kooks who actually believed this. If they could, they would destroy every last peer reviewed article on global cooling. Paul Ehrlich had once predicted in his book, The Population Bomb that all the earth's resources would be consumed by overpopulation, which would result in mass famine. He predicted that this would come about during 1980's. To his eternal embarrassment he had to pay a bet to one of his colleagues, who challenged his predictions.
Unfortunately, the one thing that many people don't know about the environment is that it is actually getting better, not worse. Air quality is actually better now, than it was fifty years ago. As John Stossel pointed out on an episode of 20/20, the Hudson River had been so polluted with raw sewage that no fish could inhabit it and all human activity in the water was banned. Thanks to the treatment plants that were built, the fish population has flourished and people can now swim and fish to their hearts' content. Lomborg has concluded that even though there is room for improvement in certain areas, the overall environment on earth is actually getting better. With the advancement of better technologies, the conditions on earth will continue to improve.
What concerns me the most about all the rhetoric that is being spewed out of the mouths of environmentalists is that it could be used to create bad policies. This seems evident in our current administration. Our government is about to sink money into green initiatives, such as alternative energy and taxes on greenhouse gases. Even though I am all for the exploration of alternative energy, I don't believe the government will generate anything useful. These programs will most likely become black holes that will swallow trillions of more dollars that the government doesn't even have. As for the green house emission taxes, it will most likely drive energy costs up and make it even more difficult for the companies that we still have left in this country to make a profit. Contrary to what Obama says, there will be fewer jobs created by his green programs. And I thought the left cared about the poor.