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2001's green lies
By Alan Caruba
One of the great benefits of a free press is that it affords everyone an opportunity to access the news about the events of our times, but one of its great drawbacks is that it permits groups with hidden agendas to mask their goals by manipulating public opinion and policy. With freedom comes the responsibility to be not merely informed, but to be able to discern truth from propaganda.
It strikes at our security and our future when an entire nation is distracted daily by non-existent "threats" to the environment or health or the animal population. It gets everybody -- and particularly the media -- looking in the wrong direction and ignoring the likes of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida network still active around the world.
In 1990, after a long career as a business and science writer, I founded The National Anxiety Center as a clearinghouse for information about "scare campaigns", those deliberate programs of misinformation and dis-information that find their way, not only into the news and entertainment media, but into the schoolrooms of America.
Every year since then, I have issued an annual review of "The Most Dubious News Stories of the Year". Prior to September 11th, Americans were being assailed by every kind of scare campaign routinely generated by environmental groups. For example, the effort to impose environmental thinking throughout the US military resulted in the disruption of infantry and tank training exercises whenever a so-called "endangered species" was found at various bases. Environmentalists used the same ploy to disrupt the training of pilots on bombing ranges in the US. This has served to put our fighting forces at risk.
Environmentalism has even more dire impact on America's needs. Given the upheaval in the Middle East and our dependence on oil from their area of the world, one would think that gaining access to the estimated 16 billion barrels of oil in a remote region of Alaska would have a priority, but the Democratic Party, allied closely with all environmental objectives, has refused to even consider this necessary option. Ignoring the obvious threat to our nation, some Greens even assert that the war the US has conducted against al Qaeda exists solely to protect the interests of oil companies.
Environmentalism, particularly when based on insane and patently false standards of caution, can prove very costly. When the Bush administration rescinded the reduction in the amount of arsenic allowable in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, environmentalists claimed Americans were being poisoned, ignoring the fact that we drink 110 million gallons of water daily with no ill effects whatever. One part per billion is the equivalent of one inch to 16,000 miles. The hue and cry that ensured from the Greens resulted in a reversal that will impose huge costs on the nation's water systems, estimated to be as high as $605 billion. No threat to health exists. Guess who will pick up the tab?
This is how scare campaigns work. Environmentalists are expert at finding non-existent threats and turning them into multi-billion-dollar programs that do nothing more than drain the nation's economic resources or restrict access to our natural resources, from timber to coal to oil and natural gas, along with many vital minerals.
While Americans were being deliberately frightened in 2001 about the water they drink, the American Academy of Pediatrics was recommending that children should not drink fruit juices, claiming it might cause malnutrition and a variety of other scary illnesses. Meanwhile The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a consort of the animal rights fanatics, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was warning against letting children drink milk.
Not to be outdone, the US Food and Drug Administration put into effect regulations that would outlaw various ways of preparing eggs, from sunny-side-up to their use in Caesar salads. The regulations are estimated to add more than $66 million to the cost of preparing eggs by the thousands of fast food and other restaurants throughout the nation. If you like your eggs served as hard as hockey pucks, you will love these new regulations.
Two world-class perpetrators of scare campaigns, the US Public Interest Research Group and the Consumer Federation of America, announced in August that playgrounds were too dangerous for children, claiming that playground equipment is the leading cause of injuries to children, citing hundreds of thousands of injuries. As any emergency room doctor will tell you, every year children routinely manage to injure themselves riding bicycles and generally enjoying themselves despite the fear-mongers who would ban everything from skate boards to tinker toys.
If these scare campaigns about everything we eat and drink were not enough, Americans and others around the world were treated to news that a "super volcano" could erupt somewhere and endanger all life as we know it. These events occur, British geologists noted, every 100,000 years. Those on the East Coast of American were encouraged to worry about giant waves called tsunamis.
Meanwhile, a scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California had hatched a plan to prevent global warming by moving the earth further away from the Sun by deliberating deflecting the path of a passing comet or asteroid to alter the orbit of the Earth. The fact that the Earth has not warmed even a single degree in the passed half century continues to be ignored by environmentalists and the mainstream press, for whom this lie has become standard issue.
The bogeyman of Global Warming got a boost in 2001, a uniquely warm one. Climate, though, is not measured by a single year, but in terms of centuries. Not content with attributing warming to human activity, a study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency, declared that "volatile organic compounds" were emitted by autumn leaves! We were informed that they "combine with certain types of industrial emissions to create smog, and, in some cases, they play a role in global warming." The earth has been gradually warming for tens of thousands of years since the last Ice Age. If this natural process were not occurring, you would not be reading this.
Not to be outdone in the endless cycle of idiotic research, scientists at the University of Oregon found that the pitcher-plant mosquito can sense global warming. They warned that genetic adaptation could "dominate a mosquito population in as little as five years", this time ignoring that insects, among the oldest living creatures on Earth, routinely adapt to various threats to their survival. Meanwhile, the Green objective of banning every pesticide continues, leaving everyone on Earth vulnerable to the diseases spread by insect and rodent pests.
A rash of shark attacks off the Florida coast in 2001 generated a lot of headlines during the summer and, of course, PeTa announced it was putting up a billboard with the message "Would You Give Your Right Arm to Know Why Sharks Attack, Could it be Revenge? Go Vegetarian." Earlier an eight-year-old had had his arm ripped off by a shark and a ten-year-old had been killed.
According to PeTa, "Our message is that humans kill billions of fish, including sharks, each year, in the most hideous ways, and sharks aren't really to blame for doing what comes naturally." It was subsequently revealed that an animal rights-inspired National Marine Fisheries Service program to protect sharks had contributed to the rise in shark attacks on humans in recent years.
Amidst the endless and relentless scare campaigns, in October, the National Center for Health Statistics announced that American's average life expectancy is now a record 76.9 years, the highest ever, and infant mortality rates had dropped to the lowest level in the nation's history. Earlier, in June, the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came together to announce that new cases and deaths from the biggest cancer killers were declining, pointing to early detection and reduced smoking as indicators for the trend. The rates had declined 1.1 per cent each year from 1992 to 1998.
Other statistics offered more good news. Teen pregnancy rates had plummeted to new lows and there was a record drop in violent crime in 2000. Home ownership rates had increased in nearly every state for the past decade.
2001 will be remembered for the way the United States and other nations were confronted with the harsh reality of the global Islamic radicalism supported by millions of Muslims. This is the preeminent threat facing Western civilization. You can forget about all of the bogus environmental claims. On close examination, it quickly becomes obvious they are not based in science, but rather exist to advance a harsh, leftist agenda of global governance by a Green Taliban.
Alan Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.anxietycenter.com.
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