New Book Documents Huge Flaws in Sustainable Development Policies

Published July 31, 2017

Review of Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development, by Steve Goreham (New Lenox Books), May, 1, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN-10: 0982499647, ISBN-13: 978-0982499641; $22.93 on

No one has worked harder or more intelligently to dispel the myth humans are causing dangerous global warming than Steve Goreham. In this, his third book, Goreham documents the evil he says lurks in the minds of eco-activists, the damage they have wrought, and how it can be defeated.

The first six chapters describe the harm done by radical environmentalists, including representative quotes from individuals such as Hillary Clinton, U Thant, Thomas Malthus, Bill Richardson, and David Suzuki. The final four chapters, prescribing responses to alarmist policies, include enlightening quotes by Bill Bryson, Thomas Jefferson, Peter Drucker, and Paul Samuelson. It might be wise to thumb through the book and read these quotes first, to build up your enthusiasm for diving into it.

‘Faulty Assumptions and Rationales’

As Dr. John Dunn’s succinct cover blurb says, Goreham’s book “takes a comprehensive look at the economic, cultural, political, and science issues, identifying the faulty assumptions and rationales for sustainability and green projects, debunking population myths as well as scaremongering about pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modification of crops.”

Goreham demonstrates every major corporation wastes resources in attempting to appear green, including spending enormous sums to write sustainability reports for stockholders. This is not merely an opinion: Goreham supports every fact with hard numbers and references, showing the world spends more than $1 billion a day on useless renewable energy, for example. In addition, Goreham shows the push for biofuels has caused a massive misallocation of resources.

The book documents how green crusaders persuaded governments to pass thousands of laws and regulations restricting carbon dioxide emissions from industry and business and even individual consumer choices. These laws are based on mathematical equations fed into invalid computer models that ignore contradictory observational data to predict a couple degrees of additional warmth 100 years from now. And all this when your local weatherman, using similar models, can’t get next week’s weather right. Climate, after all, is simply the accumulation of weather over time.

Government’s Very Visible Hand

Goreham notes government agencies, such as the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, and hundreds of universities, spend $10 billion per year to push the narrative humans control the climate and the impact is all bad. Goreham carefully shows the science used to push the theory of global warming and the policies enacted to fight it are fraudulent and are driven by a quest for money and power.

The book builds a convincing argument the standard of living and individual well-being in the United States would be higher than they already are if the government were not continually interfering in agriculture and energy markets.

Goreham recounts a mentor of mine, geologist M. King Hubbard, got it terribly wrong when he predicted in 1956 the world would begin running out of oil in 1970. Hubbard could never imagine the technological advances that would change the processes of locating, extracting, and refining this almost limitless resource. The hydraulic fracturing revolution is providing vast new energy resources at lower and lower prices, making environmentalists’ efforts to choke off fossil fuels extremely wrongheaded.

Subsidies, Distortion

Flawed predictions such as Hubbard’s are partly responsible for governments pushing so-called renewable energy in the form of wind and solar power. Wind and solar will never provide significant amounts of energy to the electric grid without massive government subsidies and mandates, which distort economic investment around the world and impoverish millions of people who cannot afford to pay electric bills inflated by government renewable energy policies, Goreham explains.

If you think there is any hope of wind or solar energy ever supplying significant power to the electric grid, Goreham’s book should disabuse you of that quaint notion. As Goreham writes, “wind and solar are dilute, intermittent, and expensive,” require vast quantities of land, and need 100 percent backup by conventional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.

Despite these obvious facts, the European Union has rushed wind and solar facilities into development at great cost to their citizens. Denmark, for example, has constructed 5,200 wind turbines which could all be replaced by a single conventional power plant, resulting in the highest household electricity prices in the developed world.

Similarly, despite all the media praise of electric cars, Goreham shows there has been relatively little improvement in the batteries which power them, limiting their range. Electric vehicle promoters, profiteers, and the media also fail to discuss the high cost of replacement parts for these vehicles. Goreham’s research shows replacing a Nissan Leaf battery costs $5,500, and replacing a Tesla S-85 battery costs a whopping $44,000. How’s that for a repair bill for a part that, as with conventional vehicles, must be replaced regularly?

Down on the Farms

The average reader might be surprised to learn agriculture is also under attack from leftist environmentalists, who say farming pollutes the planet and destroys the climate. I have no idea where environmentalists are going to get their food once they bankrupt farmers by limiting the water and chemicals used to grow the least expensive food on the planet. These people are not just wrongheaded, they are evil.

No one has exposed this evil better than Gorham. 

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director of The Heartland Institute.