April 22 marks the activist-styled “Earth Day,” when every environmental Chicken Little with an axe to grind takes to the media and proclaims the ecological sky is falling. Like carnival shysters on the media midway, a cacophony of scaremongers champions every conceivable allegation of a deteriorating environment, asking you to empty the public coffers in the hope of winning illusory ecological prizes.
Past Scares Debunked
To gain insight into the unfounded environmental scares the Chicken Littles will be pronouncing on Earth Day, all we need do is reexamine some of the environmental scares trumpeted in the past.
The human overpopulation scare of the 1960s has been ongoing for 40 years. Global human population is expected to continue growing until the middle of the century before declining. Yet the alleged overpopulation apocalypse has yet to occur.
The pollution-will-cause-a-new-ice-age scare of the 1970s failed miserably but has now been resuscitated, nearly word-for-word, into a pollution-will-turn-the-Earth-into-a-furnace scare. We were told in the 1980s that climatic calamity was imminent and would be catastrophic by the early 1990s, yet here we are in 2006 and all predictions of gloom and doom remain hypothetical … and always “imminent.”
In the 1980s, the hole-in-the-ozone calamity came and went, and nobody was harmed.
The Alar apples scare of the 1990s was thoroughly debunked, and a decade later the Starlink biotech corn alarm was proven completely unfounded.
The fact is, every year environmental extremists trumpet new Chicken Little fears on Earth Day, and history repeatedly proves the allegations to be pure fancy, contradicted by science.
What are the true environmental facts the Chicken Littles will conveniently fail to mention this Earth Day?
- In 2005, the federal government implemented its first regulations on mercury emissions. Environmental mercury levels will decline by 69 percent by 2018. Scientific studies show environmental mercury at current levels poses no threat to humans.
- Although global warming theory is contradicted by leading climatologists and has yet to have any appreciable impact on the Earth or our lives, the United States has nevertheless demonstrated leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past three years, European Union carbon dioxide emissions have risen, while U.S. emissions have fallen. The U.S. government spends more money on global warming research than the rest of the world combined and has taken dramatic steps to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air we breathe today bears little resemblance to the air quality of 30, 20, 10, or even just five years ago. Over the past three decades air pollution has fallen by 29 percent, while our economy has grown nearly 160 percent. Politicians now bicker about such things as whether we should adopt President George W. Bush’s Clear Skies Initiative, which proposes an additional 70 percent cut in air pollution, or insist on even greater cuts. Either way, the air is cleaner than it has ever been in our lifetimes and is growing appreciably cleaner every year.
Good News Suppressed
- Despite the weakness of data connecting arsenic in water to human health concerns, new federal standards will require communities to eliminate vast quantities of naturally occurring arsenic from drinking water–in effect making our tap water more pure than spring water completely untouched by human influence.
- Biotechnology advances allow farmers to sow crops that require fewer pesticides, fewer herbicides, fewer fungicides, less irrigation, and less acreage. More food is being grown on less land, allowing forests and prairies to reestablish themselves. The resulting crops, moreover, are significantly safer for human and animal consumption.
What does all this mean on Earth Day?
We should always be concerned about our environment, but we should not be duped by incessant cries that the environmental sky is falling.
James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.