Saturday, April 28, 2007

Environmental and corporate social responsibility activists say companies should emphasize people, planet and profits and be honest and accountable. But these basic ethical guidelines ought to apply to for-profit companies and nonprofit advocacy corporations alike, or CSR will remain just another tactic for raising money and advancing political agendas.

Forty years ago, Environmental Defense (ED) was launched to secure a ban on DDT and, in the words of co-founder Charles Wurster, “achieve a level of authority” that environmentalists never had before. Its high-pressure campaign persuaded Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Ruckelshaus to ignore the findings of his own scientific panel and ban DDT in the U.S. in 1972.

The panel had concluded DDT is not harmful to people, birds or the environment. That’s especially true when small quantities are sprayed on walls to repel mosquitoes and prevent malaria. However, ED and allied groups continued their misinformation campaign, until the chemical (and other insecticides) were banished even from most global health-care programs.

DDT had already helped eradicate malaria in the United States and Europe. But the disease still sickens 500 million people a year and kills 2 million, mostly African women and children. Since 1972, tens of millions have died who might well have lived had their countries been able to keep DDT in their disease-control arsenals.

A year ago, USAID and the World Health Organization finally began supporting DDT use again. ED, Pesticide Action Network and other agitators still claim DDT is “associated with” lower birthweights and nursing mothers’ shortened lactation.

Even if true, notes Uganda’s Fiona Kobusingye, these risks “are nothing compared to the constant danger of losing more babies and mothers to malaria.” She has had malaria at least 20 times and lost her son, two sisters and five nephews to the disease. “How can environmentalists tell us we should be more worried about insecticides than about malaria?” she asks.

None of these pressure groups ever apologized for their disingenuous campaigns or atoned for the misery and death they helped perpetuate much less have they been held accountable. Instead, they blame horrendous malaria rates on global warming.

Malaria was once common even in Ohio, Virginia, California and Siberia and they insist it is spreading again because global temperatures have risen a few tenths of a degree. Even worse, they use fears of climate chaos to justify their long antipathy to energy and economic development.

Two billion people rarely or never have electricity for lights, refrigeration and cooking, water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, offices, shops and factories. Women and children are plagued with lung infections caused by wood and dung fires, and by acute intestinal diseases caused by tainted water and spoiled food. Up to 10 million die from these causes every year.

But instead of helping them get abundant, reliable, affordable electricity, Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense and other pressure groups block efforts to build coal and gas generating plants, because they would release greenhouse gases.

Up to 95 percent of people in Sub-Saharan countries have no electricity, Al Gore personally uses more electricity in a week than 25 million Ugandans do in a year and activists tell Africans the biggest threat they face is hypothetical climate change.

Environmental Defense is poised to rake in millions from emissions trading credits, through its new alliance with Morgan Stanley, and an axis of anti-developers is telling the Third World: You can’t have electricity. You can’t have a modern, industrialized society. Your future is expensive, intermittent, insufficient “renewable” energy: a solar panel on your hut, to power a light bulb, radio, hot plate and tiny refrigerator and eventually a few wind turbines to electrify a school, clinic and minimal light manufacturing operations.

In the United States, coal generates half of our electricity. Fossil fuels account for 80 percent of all the energy that fuels our technology, progress and living standards. Proposals to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent over the next few decades would put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage, cost millions of jobs, and add $2,000-$4,000 to the average family’s annual bill for electricity, gasoline, food and other basics, say government and other studies.

Even worse, all this pain would bring no gain in the climate change arena. Ice core and temperature data covering thousands of years clearly show planetary temperatures rise first and, 400 to 800 years later, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase. Temperatures fall and, centuries later, CO2 levels decline. Even Al Gore’s own temperature-and-CO2 graph demonstrates this.

Warm oceans release trapped CO2, while colder seas absorb the gas, in cycles controlled by changes in solar energy and cosmic ray output, shifts in the Earth’s orbit and other natural forces. (See “The Great Global Warming Swindle” at

Talk about an inconvenient truth. It demolishes the central premise of climate alarmism that CO2 is responsible for climate change. It makes it clear that the Kyoto Protocol and assorted legislative proposals are nothing more than $100 billion-a-year symbolic gestures, that primarily would give bureaucrats and activists an ever greater “level of authority” over energy, economic and personal decisions.

Instead of CSR, we need global social responsibility: for all corporations, including multinational activist corporations; for all people, especially the Third World’s poor and families on low and fixed incomes; and for all concerns, health and economic, as well as environmental.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Congress of Racial Equality and Atlas Economic Research Foundation, author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death” (, and a featured expert in “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”

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