- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 6, 2009



Eternal vigilance - that’s the only answer I can think of in the fight against a certain style of extreme environmentalism that, first off, would mendaciously fill you with fear to win your support for a cause and then turn around and do something worse. It would deny the enormous human costs of causes it endorses.

Examples of each are with us at the moment, one coming from an outfit called the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It sponsored a study saying human-caused global warming kills 300,000 people annually, harms another 325 million and robs economies of $125 billion.

Is the debate on climate change really, really over, given this run-for-the-hills proclamation, which goes far beyond any previous declaration of current climate catastrophe? Hardly. All kinds of observers are objecting, not least among them a University of Colorado environmental studies professorwho happens to think climate change is a serious problem.

The study, says Roger A. Pielke Jr., is a “methodological embarrassment and poster child for how to lie with statistics.” In a New York Times article and on a blog site, he says researchers have no way of knowing how much extreme weather can be attributed to man-made warming as opposed to other causes and whether deaths in certain regions result from warming or from various societal reasons.

Scaremongering is a beloved tactic of some greenies. All by himself, Al Gore has misled people about rising sea levels, hurricanes, tornadoes, melting glaciers and more. The scientist Paul Ehrlich once sincerely warned that overpopulation would cause the starvation of hundreds of millions in the 1970s and 1980s. It didn’t happen.

The flip side of this alarmism is virtual silence and even tacit-to-open collusion in the deaths of millions of African children through some degree or the other of hostility to the use of DDT to fight malaria.

Banned in America because of dangers to wildlife, the pesticide is in some instances and some parts of the world the most effective weapon against this deadly, painful disease and poses minimal if any threats to human health or the environment when sprayed inside homes. Environmental consternation nevertheless kept many rich countries from sending DDT to poor, malaria-inflicted countries and caused some people in those countries also to fear the pesticide.

In some places, thanks to these practices, malarial death rates rose dramatically, and then, several years ago, the anti-DDT ethos began to change. While some environmentalists remained opposed to its use, a number of environmental groups came around to saying DDT might be helpful here and there, if only temporarily. National Geographic magazine ran an article noting its usefulness in saving lives. The United States agreed on using DDT to combat malaria, and so did the United Nations.

But extremism dies hard, and at a time when DDT is only just now beginning to do its good work again, the United Nations has said it wants to start chipping away at its use, taking it out of commission entirely no later than the 2020s. A new drug might be better, it says, but there are questions about that new drug’s cost and side effects, and even if that were not true, why not employ all means available to stop the malarial slaughter? The objective should be to phase out the disease, not DDT.

For all the good environmentalism has done, it is at its far-out fringes not science, not rational, not wise, not beneficent, but a wild-eyed, dishonest, dangerous, modernist superstition that, incredibly enough, has come to have great influence in the corridors of power. A consequence is policies that can lead to unspeakable disaster.

In a democracy, at least this much is required of the people - that they watch this thing very carefully, refuse to be its dupes and speak up in defense of the human good.

Jay Ambrose is former Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard News Service.

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