The Green Wave: Environmentalism and Its Consequences
Capital Research Center, 2006
240 pages, $14.95, ISBN 1892934116
Available online through Amazon.com
T.S. Eliot once said, “half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm–but the harm does not interest them. Or they justify it, because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
Eliot said that long before real environmentalism existed, but can anyone describe the environmental activist movement better?
Some people, observed columnist George Will, “use environmental causes and rhetoric not for the purpose of environmental improvements, but rather, for them, changing society’s politics is the end, and environmental policies are mere means to that end.”
No one has ever exposed this movement better than Bonner Cohen in his brief, 240-page paperback book. The text is actually less than 180 pages, as the rest contains tables of wonderful data exposing the funding and power connections of the environmental fear-mongering groups.
There are more than 8,000 environmental advocacy–or should we say “obstacle”–groups in the United States today. This book deals with the largest few dozen, not because the others are not important, but to imprint upon the reader that in this David and Goliath battle, it is American industry that is the David and the environmental activists, with their vast resources, who are the Goliath.
This is a studious work not to be read quickly. It is in fact the detailed history of an environmental scare industry intent on defeating capitalism and pushing the world toward another socialist experiment that they suppose will not renew the murderous treachery and ultimate failure of the previous version.
Deadly DDT Ban
Cohen’s summary of the terrible impact of withdrawing DDT from the world’s battle with malaria is as good as it gets. He notes that global malaria death rates of 1,740 per million in 1930 were reduced to 160 per million by 1970 primarily through the use of DDT.
In Sri Lanka, a hotbed of malaria in the 1940s, there were only 17 cases in 1963, but in 1968, after DDT was banned, there were more than a million cases.
Cohen tells the sad story of how U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator William Ruckelshaus caved in to environmental advocates’ pressure when he banned DDT against the better judgment of his own research investigators.
I knew Ruckelshaus from my days at Princeton University. When years later I confronted him about this horrendous decision, he stuck to his guns, ignoring the devastation it caused. I wonder if the man ever sleeps at night.
Activist Agenda Debunked
Cohen’s brief discourse on the Precautionary Principle, an absurd, artificial, and unscientific policy intended to stifle human progress, is excellent. He also exposes the concepts of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility for the shams they are.
He does a great job explaining the importance of genetically modified foods, which hold the primary hope of feeding future generations of an expanding population. Cohen exposes the environmental activists’ strategy of depriving the world of genetically improved foods by dividing their work among the more radical groups such as Greenpeace–which insists on the removal of all bioengineered foodstuffs–and the more moderate groups that claim to believe genetically improved crops may have value but should not be released until more research is completed.
Cohen points out there will never be enough research to satisfy these groups.
None of us needs to read any more about global warming than what we are now subjected to daily, but The Green Wave includes a nice summary of what we do know, which is that man has not warmed the planet to any significant degree and is totally incapable of altering its temperature.
A less well-known subject is how environmental activists distort the facts about environmental mercury to suppress the building and use of coal-fired power plants. Cohen explains mercury is a naturally occurring element that is ubiquitous in the environment. Coal-burning power plants account for less than 1 percent of total global mercury deposition.
A well covered-up fact that exonerated coal-fired power plants was mentioned in an EPA research project carried out at Princeton University, where they discovered methylmercury levels in tuna were the same in 1998 as they were in 1971, even though the number and output of coal-burning power plants increased dramatically.
Similarly, Cohen does a good job explaining the endangered species follies and conservation claims. Species protection, he explains, is often just a ruse to slow economic growth and market activity. Similarly, most of today’s conservation movement does not provide the common-sense cost/benefit ratios many expect.
Green Funding Exposed
While technically the book is excellent, economically it is magnificent. Cohen exposes the budgets and sources of funding for the major environmental fear-mongering groups. He points out most of the groups are financed by once-levelheaded if not conservative foundations, which upon the passing of their founders were hijacked by their more liberal board members.
Bonner Cohen has made a fine contribution to honest environmental issue literature. I recommend The Green Wave highly.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director for The Heartland Institute.