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The green fever subsides

By Alan Caruba
web posted July 5, 2004

We all know that polls are just snapshots of a moment in time, taking the pulse of public opinion on some subject. A recent one by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, however, produced some encouraging news. Of 1,000 people polled, just over half said that, while protecting the environment is important, it is more important to keep the economy growing.

Despite their rhetoric, the environmentalists who keep the movement going with countless organizations, by lobbying the government, and with a constant propaganda program, care little about a healthy, growing, successful economy. They say they do, but so much of what passes for environmentalism is actually a constant attack on the most basic elements of the nation's economy.

Recently I saw a PBS documentary on the building of the Grand Coulee Dam that transformed the economy of the northwest, providing inexpensive electricity that stimulated the growth of business and the irrigation needed for agricultural expansion. I was struck by a comment by one of those who built the dam during the days of the Roosevelt administration. He said, if the Environmental Protection Agency had been around in the 1930s, the dam would never have been built.

This explains why there hasn't been a new oil refinery built in the United States since the 1970s, why the electrical grid on which we depend has not been upgraded for decades, why there hasn't been a new mining operation opened to get at our abundant resources of coal and other minerals, why the cost of natural gas continues to rise because we need more pipelines, and why this nation still hasn't been able to tap an estimated sixteen billion barrels of crude oil in Alaska.

It explains why the cost of new and old housing continues to rise. The environmental restrictions on building new housing for a growing population have to be passed along to the buyers. Developers must assume the cost of various environmental impact studies. If an "endangered species" is found on the property, it can stall the project for years. Old homes often have to add the cost of radon reduction, asbestos removal or the removal of an old oil tank before they can be sold to new owners. The "risks" involved are virtually non-existant.

In a full scale attack on the rights of private property owners, less and less land is available for housing as one State after another takes advantage of federal dollars to place it off limits to any development. Well-funded conservation organizations purchase countless acres of forest to insure that it will not be used for the production of timber needed to build new homes and this, too, drives up the cost. Farmland, as well, is purchased or encumbered against future use. Ranchers face grazing restrictions.

All of this reflects the true agenda of the environmental movement.

Of those polled, 44 per cent identified themselves as "environmentalists" and, as a news report noted, "of the total polled who own a sports utility vehicle, 44 per cent identified themselves in the same way. For many who call themselves environmentalists, a lifestyle that includes a SUV and all the many other benefits of modern technology takes precedence over environmental issues. Indeed, calling oneself an environmentalist is a way of identifying with often-vague notions of those things said to be good for the environment.

Some of those things, however, are very bad for human beings. The banning of DDT has insured that millions of people around the globe have died from malaria when spraying just a small amount would have protected them. As West Nile Fever continues its spread from East to West coast, there are still protests against spraying programs.

The resistance to any new exploration and extraction of oil has made America increasingly dependent on nations in areas where we have had to send our military to protect our interests and to protect our lives from the fanatical Islamic threat that breeds in such places. The banning of Freon, one of the best, cheapest refrigerants and fire retardants ever invented, has increased the cost of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other modern marvels that now must use a more expensive alternative.

The failure to effectively manage our nation's forests, thanks to the Green demand they not be used for timber production, has produced year after year of catastrophic forest fires that often destroy homes and threaten entire communities.

As these and countless other examples have penetrated the national psyche, more people have become disenchanted with what passes for environmentalism. The Green fever that swept over this nation, starting in the 1970s, has begun to subside a bit. People are more rightly concerned with jobs and aware that environmentalism is more often than not the roadblock to new jobs and economic growth. Many are still unaware of how the gospel of environmentalism permeates the curriculum of our schools.

It is an irony, but true, that economically successful nations can afford to protect the environment while those that are not experience degradation of their natural resources. Environmentalists have stopped all manner of projects that would improve the economies all over the world. Here at home, a poll gives a small indication that economic growth is beginning to take precedent over the half-truths and lies of the environmental movement. It's a step in the right direction.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the website of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004

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