In 2000 elections, my issue trumps yours: Environment

Published January 1, 2000

Abortion. Free trade. Jobs. These are all important issues, issues many Americans care about deeply. Each has a wide variety of vocal supporters and detractors who will fervently want their positions to prevail in the 2000 elections and candidates who support their positions to be elected.

Too bad. In many cases, these and many other important issues are going to be superseded by a single, complex issue of many parts and even more faces, driven by well-organized, well-financed groups of dedicated, hard-working people who call themselves “environmentalists.” They will see to it that the environment trumps all other issues and, to win, a candidate will have to win on the environment.

Abortion. As the world’s population topped 6 billion, scarcely a word was heard in the popular media about how food is so plentiful, crop prices are at near-record lows, and U.S. storage facilities are filled to overflowing with insufficient room to accept this year’s harvest. Nor was much note taken of the failure of the doomsayers who, so often through the years, predicted that we would long ago run out of the energy that is more abundant today than ever. Instead, from network to network, from newspaper to news magazine, the emphasis was on the need for population control if we are to “save the Planet.”

Free trade. This has, for some time, seemed to many to be an issue already resolved. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is up and running and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the law of the land. Arguments against free trade, led by labor unions, have lost their impact in the media as the economy booms and employment remains high.

But a unique new alliance threatens to change all that. The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment consists of members from the United Steelworkers and Teamsters Unions, combined with members from anti-industry groups, including Earth First! and the American Lands Alliance. In this double-Faustian deal the anti-industry groups get workers to advance their agenda and the anti-free-trade unions get to cloak their message in what they see as a more acceptable “green” mantle.

This strange new alliance is expected to stage major demonstrations at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle the end of November. Their message: free trade harms the environment, jeopardizes the food supply . . . and, presumably, kills small children.

Jobs. This is what makes the aforementioned alliance so laughable. While unions are working with anti-industry groups to fight free trade, those same groups are in the process of denying employment to Americans in every walk of life. Earth First! apparently never saw a logger it liked and has shut down timber harvesting operations throughout the West, putting thousands out of work and jeopardizing the very existence of some small rural towns.

Big cities fare no better. In the name of “environmental justice,” the Environmental Protection Agency has prohibited the construction of new factories in minority neighborhoods. EPA apparently defines justice as denying minorities the jobs those factories would have provided.

Perhaps union members, whose numbers continue to shrink as a percentage of the work force, will be discussing these issues with their new comrades as they stroll the picket lines in Seattle.

These are, of course, only three examples of how those who profess to care about the environment place their “issues” ahead of all others. We could cite more.

But what about the scientists and physicians whose objective research and impartial analysis is supposed to help us all sort through environmental concerns and how they affect our health?

In October, the National Environmental Trust–representing the Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility–launched an $11 million campaign to “educate the public about global warming.” Three million dollars are to be spent on grassroots organizing, while $8 million will go for television advertising.

According to the group, their message will consist of such [unsupported] claims as:

  • “Costs from severe weather have tripled since the 1980s.” (No mention of whether these are constant or inflated dollars, allowances for increased construction in coastal areas, or of any peer-reviewed studies which support the claim.);
  • “Increased smog threatens the health of children with asthma.” (I thought EPA said our air has been getting cleaner–and peer-reviewed science shows it has.);
  • And, of course, “The impacts of global warming are likely to be quite severe.” (Even though no actual evidence of the global warming predicted by computer models has been found.)

It would seem that the issues of those who call themselves environmentalists trump all others simply because they rely on fear rather than a slavish adherence to truth.

In a land not far away, in a time not long ago, a man nearly enslaved a continent with such techniques while the world’s politicians acquiesced. As we enter an election year, it is time for politicians of honor to stand up for truth on the environment. It is always the ultimate trump card for those with the courage to use it.