Tuesday, March 31, 2009

By Steve Milloy
Regnery, $27.95

The Wilderness Act, signed into law by President Johnson in 1964, represented nearly a century’s worth of effort and activity by old-school conservationists like John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. In lyrical language — odd for a bill written by bureaucrats — the act defined wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

For some conservationists, this was a culmination. For others, it represented a beginning, with the language laying down a foundation upon which to build today’s green movement. And that striking image of man as an unwelcome visitor to planet Earth is what animates much of what today’s neo-romantic green movement has grown into.

In this strongly written and well-documented book, Steve Milloy introduces us to many such groups, among them the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, that carry the thought to its logical conclusion: “[The] hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens — us.” Others, Mr. Milloy writes, “advocate more coercive policies” based on China’s child-rationing program, which, as one green thinker puts it, are necessary to protect “environmental rights, which are potentially infringed by the addition of each new human being.”

In other areas, the drill seems to be to increase daily discomfort through a complex mesh of taxes and regulations aimed at “sustaining the environment,” “reducing our carbon footprint” and “combating global warming.”

Says Mr. Milloy: “A powerful network of individuals and organizations is propelling this agenda. Its adherents have sought for decades to transform our economy and our way of life based on various environmental pretexts — looming food shortages, deforestation, population growth, even global cooling. Manmade global warming is simply their latest — and by far most successful — organized campaign to achieve this transformation.”

Al Gore is voice and symbol for this campaign, and Mr. Milloy raises hard questions about the validity of Mr. Gore’s signature work, “An Inconvenient Truth.” But if Mr. Milloy is correct, the whole discussion is academic: The “fatal flaw of global warming alarmism,” he writes, is that “there is no scientific evidence indicating that carbon dioxide, much less manmade carbon dioxide emissions, control or even measurably impact global climate.”

“This is true whether you look at data going back 650,000 years, data from the twentieth century, or even data from the past ten years. Alarmist predictions of climatic doom are based exclusively on hypothetical mathematical models that have never been validated against the real world.”

If so, the whole organized campaign and all its props could legitimately be flushed down the drain — Mr. Gore’s drowning polar bears, seals, fires, floods, hurricanes, ozone holes, melting ice caps, receding glaciers, minimal flushing toilets, recycled sewage water, electric cars, even light bulbs.

And how many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? In the name of fighting global warming, Mr. Milloy writes, Congress wants to replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) that contain mercury and cause a great deal of trouble if they’re broken.

“Consider the case of Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, who had the misfortune of dropping a CFL. — Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her — she should call the poison control hotline which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental protection. The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges’s house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels — in excess of six times the state’s ‘safe’ level for mercury contamination [and] recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which gave her a ‘low-ball’ estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room. The room was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began ‘gathering finances’ to pay for the costly cleaning.”

With this and similar examples — mandatory “smart thermostats” in California, proposed laws to monitor and charge drivers via GPS, opposition to the biotechnology that produces crops resistant to both pests and pesticides, blocking the rational development of natural energy resources — Mr. Milloy convincingly documents his charge that the green agenda has permeated every aspect of our daily lives, at great economic and social cost.

In an endorsement of “Green Hell,” Vaclav Klaus, president of the European Union and of the Czech Republic, puts it this way: “This book describes why the world can’t afford to fall for global warming alarmism and environmental hysteria.”

John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author with Linda Bridges of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement,” published by Wiley.

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