Skip to comments.Right-minded environmentalism
Posted on 04/28/2005 9:58:18 PM PDT by SmithL
"We didn't create this Earth," President George W. Bush said at his abbreviated Earth Day visit to East Tennessee last week, "but it is our obligation to protect it." Quite the contrast with conservative icon Ronald Reagan's pronounce-ment, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."
Bush's words grabbed me when I heard them over the radio while sitting in Cades Cove last Friday watching the weather wash away the president's visit. When the most conservative president in 25 years talks about protecting the environment, times have obviously changed.
It's not just the compassionate conservative from Crawford, Texas, talking about the environment. Charles Colson of Watergate infamy discussed the environment for five days on his daily radio commentary, "Breakpoint."
Colson, along with an increasing number of conservative Christians, holds to the theology in Bush's statement. He challenged evangelicals to understand that " we are stewards of all of God's creation."
Colson and Bush are no tree-huggers. Theirs is a clear-eyed environmentalism that doesn't protect pines or pandas more than people. Right-minded environmentalism gives equal weight to economics and ecology.
"It will do us little good to keep the Arctic Circle pristine if it's at the cost of America being driven to her knees by Middle-Eastern oil traders," Colson said. "It does little good to preserve the Brazilian rain forest if the cost is millions of Brazilians living in shacks on substandard wages."
Colson discussed theologian Michael Novak's "ecology of liberty" that "encourages the highest possible level of practicality and private enterprise." Novak notes, "Where people are poor, environmental conditions tend to be abysmal."
Take the case of Visit, a street merchant in Bangkok. The Nation newspaper wrote, "'The air is really terrible around here,' Visit says, after lowering his mask made of one layer of thin fabric, a precaution he has used here every day for over two years. 'It's getting worse day by day,' he adds."
While wealthy-by-global-standards Americans cackle that the sky is falling - or smogging or the icecaps are melting or the seas are rising - people like Visit struggle to survive. While Earth First! and Greenpeace proselytize for pantheism and protest economic development, the poor in Asia and Africa beg for food.
Colson talked about former Greenpeace member and statistician Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg sought to make an irrefutable statistical case for radical environmentalism. Instead, Lomborg discovered that much of the general understanding of environment did not "stand up to statistical scrutiny," and his findings became the book "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
Environmental activists performed their Chicken Little dance during the president's visit to decry the decline in air quality in the United States. Just one problem with their protests: They're statistically wrong.
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 30 nations in Europe, North America and the Far East collaborating to promote healthy growth, publishes "Key Environmental Indicators." OECD's 2004 report showed that ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons consumption dropped to virtually nil since 1990 in North America.
Emissions of air-polluting nitrogen oxides dropped 19 percent in the United States and sulfur oxides dropped 31 percent since 1990. In OECD nations, emissions of both nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides declined (17 percent and 40 percent, respectively) while OECD gross domestic product grew over 25 percent.
An 18 percent increase in global-warming carbon dioxide emissions in the United States is a problem. But, Korea saw a 99 percent increase, Portugal 58 percent and Spain, New Zealand and Turkey over 40 percent.
Relative to total energy produced, America generates significantly less nuclear waste than the OECD average. While a relatively small part of the United States energy mix, renewable sources such as wind, solar, ethanol, etc. grew over 80 percent in the 1990s. The United States is hardly a polluting pariah.
President Bush spoke plainly last week: "One of the interesting things about our nation is that, since 1970, the air is cleaner and the water is more pure and we're using our land better; and our economy has grown a lot. It's possible to have economic growth and jobs and opportunity and, at the same time, be wise stewards of the land."
"Facts are stubborn things," Ronald Reagan said, and Bush's right-minded environmentalism is supported by facts.
Regardless of how loud the Chicken Littles squawk.
I've always been a right-minded environmentalist :~D
READ HERE: Dreaded New Pollutant: Rain
Whether Reagan was reviled for it or not, it happens to be true. Trees produce isoprenes and terpenes. Both cause ozone. Both are carcinogenic. The amount of VOC (volatile organic compound) produced by one tree exceeds the Bay Area Air Quality Management District threshold for Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) by a factor or eight.
Commonsense environmentalism. But the greenies simply refuse to accept that technology, free enterprise and the rule of law that guarantee them are the best guarantors of the environment. There are so many examples. The horrendous destruction that the Soviet Union's command economy wrought on Russia, Central Asia and Siberia. The mess that China is becoming. Remember the "Asian Brown Cloud" the continentwide air pollution caused by a billion charcoal and cow chip cooking fires? Indonesia's gagging summers of smoke in the late nineties, caused by fires set by slash and burn farmers. The greenies only talk about third-world pollution if they can somehow set it in the context of Western exploitation. Poverty is bad for the environment and we know what perpetuates poverty, don't we?
I was in Singapore during those fires set in Sumatra, quite an experience.
"I was in Singapore during those fires set in Sumatra, quite an experience."
It still seems hard to believe the descriptions. An entire geographical region rendered unbreathable from smoke for weeks on end.
In Singapore it wasn't quite to the point of "unbreathable" but there was a constant fog-like haze, the smell of something burning in the air (like a distant campfire), and eventually it did kind of irritate your throat a little.
Most of us concerned with proerty rights are. Greenpeace, Sierra Club, ELF, and other "environmental groups are not concerned about the environment, they are concerned with power and control. Most small farmers in America are truly the best stewards of the land, they have a duty to keep that land prosperous for future generations.
It's so nice to see an article that doesn't devolve into a hit piece or become a paean to misty-eyed environmentalism.
Isn't it now illegal, in California, to plant certain types of trees because of the larger-than-average amounts of pollutants they naturally produce? Thought I read something here about that once.
That Reagan was really stupid, wasn't he? He should have been putting limits on human freedom instead, that's much easier and more just to the vegetable kingdom.
Ping! I have great!
It not only makes economic and social sense, it makes scientific environmental sense to manage resources instead of "preserving" them as if they were capable of being static.
For example, you can clearly see the dramatic results of the Cone Fire passing through "no treatment" forest vs. forest after various fuels treatment at the Black's Mountain Experimental Forest. http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/5098/5200.pdf
This shows that management makes sense ecologically as well as economically.