And he said unto them,
"If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world,
no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must
do, should the man do as he is told?"
"Of course, Master!" cried the many. "It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask it!"
"No matter what those tortures, nor how difficult the task?"
"Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked." said they.
"And what would you do," the Master said unto the multitude, "if God spoke directly to your face and said, 'I command that you be *happy* in the world as long as you shall live.' What would you do then?"
- Richard Bach, "Illusions"
"The whole aim of practical
politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led
to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of
- H.L. Mencken
Paul Johnson taught
me an interesting concept: The world, and nations, and individuals have
a 'worry space'. Always have had, from time immemorial. Occupying the world’s
worry space at the moment are Islamism and global warming.
- Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"
We have become convinced
that modern environmentalism, with all of its unexamined assumptions, outdated
concepts and exhausted strategies, must die so that something new can live...
Martin Luther King Jr. gave America "I have a dream", but environmental
leaders are effectively giving the "I have a nightmare" speech instead.
- Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus
The RTE Disaster Report:
Floods, hurricanes, tornados, sandstorms, tsunamis, and typhoons are coming
your way. We're no water, oil or money... we are doomed!
- Declan Lynch, summing up RTE's current affairs coverage in Sept'08
"I'm not a reporter.
I'm someone who shows up at night and scares people."
- Robyn, fed up with life as a newsreader, "How I Met Your Mother"
The latest political
crusade is the one to replace ordinary incandescent light bulbs with the
new CFL light bulb that is supposed to save electricity, reducing the need
for fossil fuels and helping the fight against global warming. Since crusaders
seldom stop to weigh the cost of what they are advocating, it is especially
important that the rest of us do so before we get swept along by rhetoric
and emotions.With the CFL light bulb, the initial cost — several times
that of a regular light bulb — is only the financial cost. A bigger problem
is what to do if a CFL light bulb breaks. You are supposed to shut off
all air conditioners or heaters, to keep them from circulating mercury
vapor from the broken CFL. You are supposed to open windows and doors to
air out the place. Pregnant women and small children are supposed to leave
the area while the mess is being cleaned up by someone else, wearing a
dust mask and gloves. What if there is only a pregnant woman present, with
or without small children? And what if there is no dust mask around?
- Thomas Sowell
Our world is dependent,
even governed, by science. We need it and are grateful for it but we fear
it. And we define what is and is not "science" to suit our mood. Every
intervention into nature is science. Every structure. The animals and food
we have had for centuries are the products of genetic manipulation. We
take science for granted and we depend upon it to be sound. We want scientists
to save our lives and improve our world but when we feel they overreach
themselves we accuse them of "playing God" - which is harsh, given that
they spend their time rescuing us from the cock-ups "God" has made.
- Jonathan Miller
In 1968, in his best-selling
book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s
the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going
to starve to death."
In 1972, in their influential landmark study The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead, and gas by 1993.
In 1977, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States incredible as it may seem, confidently predicted that "we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade."
Now, in 2002, with enough oil for a century and a half, the planet awash in cut-price minerals, and less global famine, starvation and malnutrition than ever before, the end of the world has had to be rescheduled. The latest estimated time of arrival for the apocalypse is 2032.
- Mark Steyn, "The National Post"
If everyone in the
entire world moved to the United States the population density would still
be less than the United Kingdom.
- Alan Jay Lerner
Virtually every animal
and vegetable sold in a health-food store has been "genetically-modified"
for millennia by selective breeding and hybridization. The wild ancestor
of carrots was a thin, bitter white root. Plants are Darwinian creatures
with no particular desire to be eaten, so they did not go out of their
way to be tasty, healthy, or easy for us to grow and harvest. On the contrary:
they did go out of their way to deter us from eating them, by evolving
irritants, toxins, and bitter-tasting compounds. So there is nothing especially
safe about natural foods.
- Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate"
GM is a process not
a product - and, each new product (whether it is GM, conventional or organic)
needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis using rational evidence-based
- Conrad Lichtenstein, "Spiked Online"
When people with an
undeclared moral or political agenda slipstream behind science in an attempt
to authorise their opinions, we should be alert for distortions. One is
reminded of those Roman Catholics you hear on the radio claiming it as
a truth of science that the use of human embryos is unnecessary for medical
research. They are in danger both of twisting science and misrepresenting
their own doctrine. Obedience to God’s law was never promised to be convenient.
- Matthew Parris, "The Times"
"Face the facts, all
these environmental organizations are thirty, forty, fifty years old. They
have big buildings, big obligations, big staffs. They may trade on their
youthful dreams, but the truth is, they're now part of the establishment.
And the establishment works to preserve the status quo. It just does."
- Michael Crichton, "State of Fear"
Does the man with no
legs leap up and walk when he is called disadvantaged? Is there less famine
in the Third World than in backward countries? Did second class rail become
more comfortable for being renamed 'standard class'?
- Bernard Levin, on the rise of politically correct euphemisms, "The Times"
The urgent problem
for the poor majority of this world is not climate change. Their problems
are actually very basic. Dying from easily preventable diseases. Being
malnourished from lack of simple micronutrients. Being excluded from taking
part in the global economy through lack of free trade. We can prevent HIV
by handing out condoms and improving health education. We can prevent millions
dying from malnutrition by simple vitamin supplements. These are not space-age
technologies, but simple necessities.
- Bjorn Lomborg, "Save The World: Forget About Global Warming", "The Times"
The most obvious point
about global warming is that the planet is heating up. It has warmed about
1 degree Celsius over the past century, and is predicted by the U.N. climate
panel (IPCC) to warm 1.6 to 3.8 C during this century, mainly owing to
increased CO2. An average of all 38 available standard runs from the IPCC
shows that models expect a temperature increase in this decade of about
0.2 C. But this is not at all what we have seen. And this is true for all
surface temperature measures, and even more so for satellite measures.
Temperatures in this decade have not been worse than expected; in fact,
they have not even been increasing. They have actually decreased by between
0.01 and 0.1 C per decade.
- Bjorn Lomborg, "The Japan Times"
James Lovelock is as
provocative as ever. He is withering about the attempt of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change to forge a consensus, a word that he says has no
place in science: “Just think, over 1,000 of the world’s best climate scientists
have worked for 17 years to forecast future climates and have failed to
predict the climate of today.”
The attempts to model the Earth’s climate system do not yet fully include the response of the ecosystem of the land or oceans, and Lovelock warns about feedback effects, some that can damp down climate change and others that accelerate it, and he predicts a threshold above which there could be a five degree increase in temperature. He fears for the future of our overpopulated planet. “I am not a willing Cassandra and in the past have been publicly sceptical about doom stories, but this time we do have to take seriously the possibility that global heating might all but eliminate people from Earth.”
All is not lost. Lovelock, like many others, is receptive to another idea that relatively recently was laughed off as utterly bonkers: geoengineering, or “planetary medicine”, which could mean cooling the Earth by the use of space mirrors, clouds of particulates, pumping chilly waters from the bottom of the sea and burying agricultural waste in the form of charcoal.
- Roger Highfield, reviewing "The Vanishing Face of Gaia", "The Telegraph"
There is a huge swelling
wave of knowledge building up — knowledge about human variation, human
inheritance, human nature. Things have gone much further than I realized...
This wave of knowledge, this great wave, is building up in laboratories
and research institutes all around the world. Sooner or later the wave
will come roaring in to crash on our beach. When that happens, a lot of
stuff will get swept away — a lot of social dogma, a lot of wishful thinking,
a lot of ignorant punditry and self-righteous posturing, and probably some
law and tradition and religion and social cohesion as well. There is, however,
no stopping the wave. Or rather, we might stop it here in the USA, but
then it would just go crashing ashore somewhere else — in China, or Japan,
or India — somewhere with a different set of attitudes, a quite different
kind of wishful thinking. Dragged forward by cold science, which doesn't
care what we think or wish for, we are headed into some interesting times.
- John Derbyshire, "The Swelling Wave", "National Review"
Many movements are founded on the Puritan notion that something bad has to have an evil cause.
In this largely godless
age, we have a more subtle interpretation of the relation between human
excess and natural disaster. Our new high priests are the environmentalists
and, when the icebergs calve early or the swallows fly the wrong way, it
is they who cry woe and say that it is a judgment on us all, and our wicked
- Boris Johnson, "The Spectator"
The point is that it
isn't natural disasters which kill people, so much as poverty which prevents
them protecting themselves. Had the tsunamis struck Scandinavia or the
west coast of America, people would have died but in nothing like the numbers
who died on the shores of the Indian Ocean. A flood warning system such
as that employed in Britain after the catastrophic floods of 1953 would
have evacuated most people to safety well in time.
Global warming has become a dogma from which no dissent is to be tolerated. And so the world persists in a policy that will do little to abate global warming – such as it is – but will certainly prevent third world countries attaining the living standards of the West. The overall result will be to leave their populations more vulnerable to natural disasters. Natural disasters are just that: acts of nature that have no human cause but whose effects may be reduced by industrial development. The world's poor are being sacrificed in a misguided effort to save them.
- Ross Clark, "Disasters Don't Kill People, Poverty Does", "The Telegraph"
The Asian earthquake
was rather a reminder of the awesome power of nature, and of how little
influence we have sometimes over it. Nature does not care if we drive more
fuel-efficient cars or insulate our lofts. It still crushes whatever gets
in its way... Environmentalists are like religious fundamentalists who
need to see everything as punishment for an imagined sin.
- Eilis O'Hanlon, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"
Just days after the
Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004, a dozen or so writers raised the subject
of theodicy. Within weeks, scores of writers broached the subject. Theodicy,
if you didn't know, is the branch of theology that tries to explain how
a good God can allow evil to persist. I have no idea how to answer the
question of how God can allow evil to exist, except to say that God's ways
are mysterious; a world without evil wouldn't be the world; and so on.
But what I find fascinating is how so many people desperately want the
culprit to be someone — or something — other than God or "Mother Nature."
A slew of partisans have already declared that George W. Bush is responsible
for the Hurricane Katrina disaster because of his policies on global warming
and the Kyoto treaty.
It's become something of a cliché to say that environmentalism has become a religion, but that's because there's something so obviously true about it. They could start by getting their own theodicy, one that would try to reconcile natural disasters with their faith that Mother Nature is such a nice lady. Rejecting Tennyson's description of nature as "red in tooth and claw" they opt for a nurturing but wounded Mommy Nature. Were it not for man's folly, she would be rocking us to sleep in her gentle arms every night.
Those who study theodicy spend a lot of time on the book of Job, which tackles God's willingness to do harsh stuff to people who don't have it coming. Despite his hardships, Job never abandons God because to do so would be to abandon hope. Environmentalists, it seems, need their own book of Job. Because as it stands right now, Mother Nature's ways are not mysterious, but entirely contingent on the output of fossil fuels. And, ironically enough, all of their hopes lie in George W. Bush. Which sounds like their version of Satan worship.
- Jonah Goldberg, "Disastrous Faith: A Belief system sticking blame on Bush, "NRO
Its origins lie in
the refusal of the US Senate and the Bush Administration to sign the original
Kyoto Treaty, which gave rise to the thoughtless narrative in contemporary
Western liberalism that global warming is America’s curse on humanity.
The small question of what to say about the developing world was rarely
asked. Climate change induces despair because, while it is just about conceivable
that post-industrial Western societies will reduce carbon emissions, the
idea that China, India or Africa (if it ever breaks out of kleptomania
and backwardness) will do the same is a daydream. How do you persuade
them to stay poor? How do you put pressure on China’s unbiddable dictatorship?
There are no answers, except in Beaufoy’s imaginings, where he dispenses
with an annoying distraction from American evil by showing the British
delegation persuading the Chinese to sign up to Kyoto with the promise
of a few dozen clean-coal power stations. Walt Disney produced more credible
scenarios... Few intellectuals understand it yet, but an ideological crisis
is almost upon them. Their supposed “root cause” of mankind’s ills will
retire to a Texas ranch in January and a new America will begin. Contrary
to liberal expectations, its arrival will not appease radical Islamism
or Chinese and Russian nationalism. They will remain as potent and as dangerous
as before. Liberal intellectuals will have to decide soon whether to face
them or carry on in the old rut.
- Nick Cohen, reviewing eco-drama "Burn Up" For "Standpoint Online"
Over the period 1997-2005,
America decreased its CO2 emissions by nearly 1% while the EU increased
its by 6½%. Kyoto Ratifiers as a whole increased emissions by 29%
while the non-ratifiers increased by 5%.
- Tony Alwright
There is no population crisis or crisis of resources. The rate of population increase is falling, not rising. The food produced per capita is rising, not falling. The price of oil keeps falling in real terms while the size of known reserves keeps rising. These are true facts, indisputable.
- Bjorn Lomberg, "The Skeptical Environmentalist"
"If six billion people have both more food and more forest than their three billion parents did; if the prices of copper, wheat and natural gas are going down, not up; if there are 20 times more carcinogens in three cups of organic coffee than in daily dietary exposure to the worst pesticide both before and after the DDT ban; if lower infant mortality leads to falling populations, not rising ones, then perhaps we need to think differently about what sustainability means. Perhaps the most sustainable thing we can do is develop new technology, increase trade and spread affluence."
- Matt Ridley, "The End Is Not Nigh", The Spectator.
Do they believe their cause so just that they are above and beyond the truth?
- Walter Hickel
Resources are infinite
in the sense that human beings will never run out of them for whatever
purpose they decide to use them for. This directly contradicts the conventional
environmental wisdom which claims the more of a resource removed from the
Earth, the more scarce that resource becomes. Julian L Simon uses copper
as an example of why resources are infinite. Copper has been used for thousands
of years for a variety of uses. The amount of copper taken from mines has
increased over the last few millennia, yet copper-based products are actually
cheaper today than at any other time in history. If it were true that the
more a natural resource used the more scarce it becomes, this is a puzzle.
Simon points out, however, that as the price of copper increases due to scarcity human beings find new sources of copper, find ways to recycle existing copper stocks and develop alternatives to copper. This helps explain why after 300 years of predictions of imminent severe shortage of natural resources, in fact the supply of natural resource has continually increased.
- Mark Steyn
While it might surprise many ecologists to hear, capitalism is itself the ultimate form of conservationism. Capitalists seek to conserve resources, not because of sentimental feelings about nature or the earth or whales or worry about the well-being of future generations, but simply because every drop of oil, every ton of ore, every shipment of wood saved is a cost reduction and money in the pocket.
- PJ O'Rourke
Environmentalism is just Communism with trees.
- Patrick Moore, former Greenpeace director
Environmental alarms have been screeching for so long that, like car alarms, they are now just an irritating background noise.
- Nicholas Kristof, "The New York Times"
In one of those ironies
that is sometimes lost on the eco-lobby, scientists in Britain last month
demonstrated that the damage caused by driving to a recycling plan through
CO2 emissions outweighs the advantages of recycling paper, which, after
all, is from a renewable source in the first place.
- Ed Power, "Debunking the Great Green Scam" in "The Irish Independent"
Take it from the Environmental
Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than
plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors
plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions
— to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution.
And they take up much less space in landfills.
- John Tierney, "The New York Times"
is, ultimately, an issue of incentives. Command and control prescriptions
for saving the tiger have largely failed because the people who actually
determine the destiny of wild tigers have few incentives to save them.
If environmentalists are to succeed in saving the wild tiger from extinction,
they must understand the incentives facing the people who control the tiger's
fate and change those incentives into ones that promote tiger conservation.
In other words, we must convert live tigers from liabilities into assets."
- Michael 'T Sas-Rolfes
There are People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but sadly no Animals for the Ethical
Treatment of People.
- Mark Steyn
A poll conducted by the European Commission
showed that 30 percent of Europeans think that CO2 emissions have only
a marginal effect on climate change and 15 percent said they did not know
whether it had an impact.
- Seen on AFP
Poland has claimed that it has assembled
enough votes to block an EU climate change agreement. It had led a revolt
by Eastern European states that fear the package would increase their dependence
on natural gas supplies from Russia.
- Michael Levitin, reporting in The Telegraph (Oct'08)
35: Percentage of Ireland's greenhouse gasses accounted for by cows.
A single dairy cow
belches and farts 114 kilos of methane a year. It is a methane machine.
Methane is far more lethal as a greenhouse gas - assuming that one believes
in all this - than carbon dioxide. It is 23 times more potent, although
it does not last so long in the atmosphere. The methane produced by a single
cow is equivalent to 2,622 kilos of carbon dioxide. A Toyota Land Cruiser,
meanwhile, if driven an average mileage, doles out 3,722 kilos a year.
So a cow does 70 per cent of the damage of a Toyota - even more if you
add on the methane given off by its manure. Given that a cow does so much
environmental damage, anyone sincere about greenhouse gases should be demanding
that they are banned or, at the very least, heavily taxed.
- James Bartholomew, "Ban the Methane Machines", "The Telegraph"
Researchers at Lincoln
University in New Zealand... found that lamb raised on New Zealand’s clover-choked
pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds
of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds
of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force
farmers to use feed. In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient
for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than
to buy it from a producer in their backyard. Similar figures were found
for dairy products and fruit. These life-cycle measurements are causing
environmentalists worldwide to rethink the logic of food miles... It is
impossible for most of the world to feed itself a diverse and healthy diet
through exclusively local food production — food will always have to travel.
- James E. McWilliams, on the concept of food 'air miles', "The New York Times"
and large American-style fridge freezers — coupled with the greater use
of energy-gobbling tumble dryers and dishwashers — are leading to increased
carbon emissions as Irish electricity usage soars, thereby undoing the
benefits gained from switching to CFL light bulbs... Many retailers no
longer stock the traditional cathode-ray tube televisions, which consumed
as little as one-third of the energy of modern flatscreens. A 42in plasma
television switched on for five hours a day will consume 766kWh of electricity
over a year, compared with 222kWh for a 28in standard television.
- Jan Battles, "The Sunday Times" (Oct'08)
Switch on the light.
Is the filament glowing because of a heavy gust of wind, or is it nuclear
fission? If you flick a switch today, the light goes on because of coal.
Almost half the power generated in Britain on Tuesday came from coal and
a bit more than a third from natural gas. Nuclear power stations were contributing
17 per cent and windmills provided 0.6 per cent... The wind has failed,
as it does during periods of intense heat and cold, and although we have
built, with enormous subsidy, enough wind turbines to generate 5 per cent
of our electricity, no more than 1 per cent is operational when we need
it.. The reason why we are still stuffing black lumps of carbon into furnaces
is simple: it makes economic sense and the financial markets are shouting
this message louder than ever before. Everyone loves to hate financial
markets — casinos operated by spivs, jungles filled with rapacious speculators
— but they provide warnings when things are about to go wrong and the carbon
market is no exception. The price of European Union allowances to emit
carbon dioxide has collapsed.. The carbon trading system was developed
to stimulate investment in clean technologies, such as carbon capture and
storage (CCS). “A price at this level won't deliver what the carbon market
was intended to deliver,” he says. Carbon needs to be four times as expensive
to make CCS plausible.
Meanwhile, the UK must make a huge decision. We have promised to shut down seven old coal plants by 2015 because they emit too much sulphur. These can supply 12 gigawatts, or a sixth of UK capacity. Ideally, we would fill the gap with nuclear power, but EDF has made it clear that the first new British nuke won't be ready until 2017, supplying less than 2 gigawatts. It is self-evident that we must carry on burning coal for the time being and politicians must stop telling lies about energy. They must begin to set plausible targets, explain their true cost and how they will be achieved. The impact of recession on industrial demand is one reason why the carbon price is weak. The other reason is credibility.
- Carl Mortished, "The Times" (Feb'09)
The EU decreed that
5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from “biofuels” by 2010, rising
to 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. added to its 51 cents-per-gallon ethanol
subsidy by mandating a five-fold increase in “biofuels” production by 2022.
The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free
market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary
of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel
production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than
its value as food, why be surprised that you’ve suddenly got less to eat?
Or, to be more precise, it’s not “you” who’s got less to eat but those
starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about. Heigh-ho.
In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended
bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that
turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place...
Researchers at Princeton calculate that to date the “carbon debt” created
by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse... The biofuels
debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur
environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you
to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason,
real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death.
- Mark Steyn, "National Review"
are not rising. The warmest year in the past century occurred a full decade
ago, in 1998. Temperatures have been gradually and steadily falling for
most of the past decade. Temperatures in 2008 were no warmer than temperatures
The Earth is colder than its long-term average. For most of the past 10,000 years, global temperatures have been 1.0 to 3.0 degrees Celsius warmer than our current climate. Twentieth century temperatures appear unusually warm only when compared to the preceding Little Ice Age, which had the coldest global temperatures of the past 10 millennia. The rise of human civilization occurred in a much warmer climate than that of today.
- James Taylor, "Heartland Institute"
"If you are a human,
you win life's lottery by being born in the West; if you are an animal,
on the other hand, you are better born in the Third World: the environmental
lobby is more likely to come out fighting for you."
- Ross Clark, "The Spectator"
Ignoring more than a decade of warnings to cut down old and diseased trees in our national forests, the nation watched as millions of acres of forests burned needlessly this year. At the same time, the government announced a ban on any roads in more than 60 million areas of these forests. A spectacularly stupid decision, given the need for the logging required to manage them properly or to fight the fires. Through the declaration of one 'National Monument' after another, the Clinton Administration put millions of acres off limits to any use, whether it be for timber, mining, grazing or any recreational use.
"In the environmental
arena, countless capitalistic bogeymen have been blamed for everything
from cancer to the destruction of the planet. This list of phony environmental
scares is so long that any rational, thinking person should routinely assume
that everything the organized, political environmental organizations say
is a lie.
The federal government has been forcasting an impending energy crisis ever since the dawn of the oil industry - roughly 1866. In that year the U.S. Revenue Commission warned that the nation may run out of oil at any moment. In 1885 the U.S. Geological Survey forecast no chance of oil's being discovered in California; some ten billion barrels have been pumped from that state since then.
By 1914 the U.S. Bureau of Mines was predictiong that only 5.7 billion barrels of oil were left; more than 50 billion barrels have been pumped since then. In 1947 the U.S. Department of State warned that 'sufficient oil cannot be found in the United States'; in 1948 more than 4 billion barrels were found, the largest discovery in history up to that point and twice the volume of U.S. consumption. In 1951 the U.S. Department of Interior forecast that oil reserves would last only until 1964."
"I have found myself
increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements
and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental
drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional
climate scientists, who are now the [catastrophe] skeptics. How the wheel
turns. Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too,
who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with
the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the
careful hedging which surrounds science’s predictions? To state that climate
change will be ‘catastrophic’ hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions
which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science."
- Mike Hulme, Director of Britain's Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research
science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN,
CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school
teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmental
- John Coleman, founder of the US Weather Channel, on global warming
Would you bet your
paycheck on a weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this
country bet billions on "global warming" predictions that have even less
- Thomas Sowell
The majority of the
British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by
humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem,
according to an exclusive poll for The Observer... Ipsos MORI polled 1,039
adults and found that six out of 10 agreed that 'many scientific experts
still question if humans are contributing to climate change', and that
four out of 10 'sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people
say'. In both cases, another 20 per cent were not convinced either way.
Despite this, three quarters still professed to be concerned about climate
- Juliette Jowit, "The Observer" (Jun'08)
Kevin Trenberth, of
the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and one of the
IPCC bigwigs, predicts that, unless we act on climate change, "one million
people" will die by 2100 - from droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and the
like. Which works out about 10,000 people a year. Or about 50 people in
each country. On the other hand, over two million people die of diarrhea
each year, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
- Mark Steyn, "National Review"
Faced with a degree
rise in temperature, we could destroy the planet's economy, technology,
communications and prosperity. And ruin the lives of millions of people.
Or we could do what man does best: adapt. You do the math.
- Mark Steyn, "Chicago Sun Times"
It is a characteristic
of people taking weak logical positions that they attack the person presenting
an argument rather than argument itself. Typically Single Issue Fanatics
will dismiss all critics of their position as being in the pay of the tobacco,
alcohol or fuel industries.
The thing that makes
the global warming myth so resilient is the unspoken pact among the media
that only stories about unusual warmth will be published and none about
unusual cooling. While you were reading and hearing all about that bit
of ice that fell off in Antartica due to a bit of local warming in an area
that is generally cooling, you were not allowed to know about Calgary,
which recorded its coolest March on record, or Southern Australia having
its coolest summer for 100 years.
When Greenpeace’s spokesmen
say hot weather is evidence of global warming and cold weather is evidence
of global warming and so’s dry weather and rainy weather, they’re saying
in essence that their thesis is not falsifiable — in which case it cannot,
by definition, be scientific.
- Mark Steyn, mailbox response
While there is little
doubt that global warming is occurring, there is doubt about just how significant
a contribution we are making to it. Global warming and cooling happen naturally
and as a matter of course. At the time of the Vikings, Greenland was so
named precisely because it was green. Mediterranean-style crops grew where
it is now too cold to grow them. Conversely, Europe became much colder
from around the 17th century as a 'mini ice-age' set in. We have been coming
out of this freeze for about the last century and a half. In all previous
times nature and nature alone was responsible for climatic change. Is it
really plausible to blame all or most of it on us this time around?
- David Quinn, "The Irish Independent"
The Archbishop of Canterbury,
Rowan Williams told the BBC's Today programme that we must support government
"coercion" over enforcing "international protocols" and speed limits on
motorways "if we want the global economy not to collapse and millions,
billions of people to die". The evidence for these claims is based on one
or two generally accepted facts. One is that average temperatures since
the 1860s have risen by 0.6 degrees centigrade. Another is that some of
this change (though how much is disputed) is man-made. Upon these rather
modest foundations is erected a whole edifice of theory which purports
to show not only that change is happening, but also that such change will
be disastrous, and that life as we know it will be all but destroyed in
the coming century unless we do something dramatic now. I am not a scientist,
so I do not know whether any of the arguments about climate change are
sound, but then nor does Mr Blair or Dr Williams, although obviously they
are more expensively briefed by experts than I am. This article can therefore
form no judgment on the relative importance of the factors in climate change.
Is it true, for example, that the "albedo" of the surface of the Earth
is a more vital factor than carbon emissions because of the way the Earth
reflects incoming solar radiation? I don't know. What about the changing
cycles of the Sun, the Milankovitch cycles of the Earth, volcanoes? Again,
I don't know, and nor do they.
If I am right, the politics of climate change are bad. They attract the self-righteous and the self-flagellating, the controlling, the life-denying, the people who don't like people, the people who, like Private Fraser in Dad's Army, think we're "all DOOMED". And when I listen to many of the scientists who join in the argument, I often hear in what they say not the voice of science itself, but of the bad politics, thinly disguised by a white coat.
- Charles Moore, "Red with Green should never be seen", "The Spectator"
The Bishop of London
has declared it sinful for people to contribute to climate change by flying
on holiday, driving a “gas-guzzling” car or failing to use energy-saving
measures in the home. Richard Chartres will encourage vicars to preach
more green sermons and warn congregations that it is now a moral obligation
for Christians to lead eco-friendly lifestyles. Chartres, who chairs the
bishops’ panel on the environment, said: “There is now an overriding imperative
to walk more lightly upon the earth and we need to make our lifestyle decisions
in that light. “Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying
a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of
moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore
the consequences of their actions.”
- Jonathan Leake, "The Times
The other day, I was
driving to the shop when my six-year-old daughter suddenly announced that
I shouldn't be taking the car because it kills polar bears.
"Polar bears?" I said.
Polar bears, she assured me. She'd heard about it in school. Too many cars equals global warming equals melting polar ice caps equals dead polar bears. St Thomas Aquinas couldn't have demonstrated a clearer link between sinfulness and suffering...
Schools are by far the worst culprits when it comes to strident ecological evangelism. Teachers seem unable to get through a day without hammering at least one dodgy environmental slogan into captive pupils' heads. They're obsessed, even though most of them know less about the planet's ecosystem than I know about 17th-century Hungarian acrylics.
Recently, I've heard from my own and other people's children how they were told in school that Googling uses as much energy as boiling a kettle (that one, lifted wholesale from some newspaper article, turned out not to be true, unsurprisingly). They've also been fed the lie that air travel is the biggest producer of CO2 gases (it isn't); that ferries are an ecologically friendly way to go on holiday (they're not); and that you should always buy local because it's less damaging to the earth (not necessarily, you have to take account of production methods as well as air miles, so it varies). All of these statements were presented to them as incontestable facts, like gravity, when they're really nothing but political posturings hiding behind statistics, each one designed to ram home the self-hating message that industry and electricity and progress and big cities and capitalism and the wicked West are bad, bad, bad. Schoolchildren are now force-fed these pieties across the curriculum, in history, geography, English, science, sociology and politics classes.
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Irish Independent"
Al Gore says accumulation
of greenhouse gases "is a moral issue, it is deeply unethical." Wouldn't
deprivation also be unethical? Some fossil fuel use is maddening waste;
most has raised living standards. The era of fossil energy must now give
way to an era of clean energy. But the last century's headlong consumption
of oil, coal, and gas has raised living standards throughout the world;
driven malnourishment to an all-time low, according to the latest U.N.
estimates; doubled global life expectancy; pushed most rates of disease
- Gregg Easterbrook, "Slate Magazine"
Even if we accept that
the science of man-made global warming is air-tight, there are only three
questions about it that matter, politically speaking. They are these. How
much of a difference in the worldwide rise of atmospheric and oceanic temperatures
can we make by our political choices? What are the choices available to
us? And how much will those choices cost us? The former vice president
deals with none of these questions in any serious way. Instead, he adopts
the currently fashionable technique -- which is unfortunately not limited
to cinematic entertainments -- of simply ridiculing the choices of the
morons in power. There was a reason, after all, for the 95-0 Senate vote
against ratifying the Kyoto Accords during the Clinton years.
- James Bowman, reviewing Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", "American Spectator"
Al Gore and his confreres
argue time and again that Americans must change their habits and culture
to avoid the ecological holocaust. Chief among these changes is for Americans
to give up their addiction to driving, or driving “unnecessarily.” Surely
a film that teaches young children to love cars is a great moral crime
given the supposed moral stakes. Similarly, why isn’t Gore — or anybody
else in the Democratic party — denouncing NASCAR? I know I’ll hear from
all sorts of angry readers for taking Gore’s position to the extreme. But
this has it backwards. I’m merely taking Gore’s extreme position seriously.
We have lots of debates over the factual soundness of environmental extremism
but nearly none on the moral soundness of environmental extremism. Environmentalists
like Gore who invoke the Holocaust are too afraid to follow through. They
want all the credit for denouncing what they consider a moral horror, but
they’re unwilling actually to face the real consequences of their rhetoric.
I don’t believe global warming is akin to the Holocaust. But if I did,
I’d like to think I’d have more courage about it than Gore is showing.
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
Gore and his followers
seem to assume that the ideal climate was the one they got used to when
they were growing up. When temperatures dropped in the 1970s, there were
warnings of an impending ice age. When they rose in the 1990s, there were
predictions of disastrous global warming... We’re told in effect that the
climate of the late 1950s and early 1960s was, of all those that have ever
existed, the best of all possible climates.
- Michael Barone, "National Review"
We in Britain produce
only two per cent of the world's carbon output and, even if we closed down
British industry overnight; even if we abolished the winter fuel allowance
and ordered the pensioners to wear more sweaters; even if we forested the
entire country with windfarms, it would make not a bean of difference.
It would be like trying to cool a volcano with an ice cube. The Kyoto protocol;
the climate change levy; the windows and doors regulation - they are all
as pointless as telling a patient with terminal lung cancer that he should
give up smoking. And when the Great Heat has destroyed our industry, and
wrecked civilisation, it will get worse, says Professor James Lovelock.
Because then we will lose the aerosol of dust and smog that has kept out
some of the sun's rays; and it will get hotter still.
There is nothing for it, he says, but to forget the piffling Kyoto-led regulation, and build nuclear power plants, so as not to be dependent on Russian gas, and send bodies of fit young men and women to East Anglia, there to build levees against the coming inundations. An international solution is now beyond our reach, he says, and we must look to Britain first.
- Boris Johnson, "The Spectator"
laws would bring back drudgery that should have been abolished with the
invention of the municipal dustbin. Renewable energy means reversing history
by spreading out energy production across the country again, instead of
concentrating it in efficient power stations. And restricting air travel
means trying to return the worldly-wise masses to a state of village idiocy.
To see this garbage passed off as the progressive alternative is enough
to make some of us feel green with nausea. What do the ignorant and starry-eyed
guardians of Europe care about such mundane matters, when they are doing
the work of Gaia?
- Mick Hume, "The Times"
Budget air travel is
a mortal sin these days, everyone knows that. Defending it is the modern
equivalent of heresy. They burned people for less in the Middle Ages, and
they'd probably do it again if it wasn't for the fear of harmful gases
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Irish Independent"
"I would like to suggest
a few symbolic actions that might really mean something. One of them, which
is very simple, and 99% of the American population doesn‘t care, is ban
private jets. Nobody needs to fly in them, ban them now. And, and in addition,
let‘s have the NRDC, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace make it a rule that
all of their members cannot fly on private jets, they must get their houses
off the grid, they must live in the way that they‘re telling everyone else
to live. And if they won‘t do that, why should we? And why should we take
- Michael Crichton, from a debate on Global Warming
Whenever we buy anything
we should be levied a deposit based on the environmental cost of dumping
the item and its packaging in a landfill site. If, when we have finished
with it, we instead present the item for re-use, recycling or as power
station fuel — whichever has the lower environmental cost — we should be
able to reclaim our deposit. Packaging manufacturers would moan bitterly,
but so what? Such a system would present easily the most environment-friendly
means of dealing with rubbish — preventing large quantities of unnecessary
packaging from being made in the first place.
- Ross Clark, "The Times"
terribly worried about man-made pesticides, but it is turning out that
almost all of the pesticides we are ingesting are nature's pesticides.
About 5% of every plant is toxic chemicals, and these chemicals comprise
an amazing zoo of nasty things. The amounts we ingest are enormous compared
to man-made pesticide residues (I would estimate at least ten thousand
times more), and very little toxicological research has been done in this
area. Now that scientists are studying the toxicology of nature's pesticides,
they are finding an unpleasant variety of mutagens, carcinogens, and teratogens.
We are beginning to realize that the risk from man-made pesticides (or
pollutants, for that matter) that humans ingest in their diets is utterly
trivial, relative to the background of hazardous compounds provided by
nature. The main alternative to using man-made pesticides is to grow crops
that have been bred to contain higher levels of nature's pesticides.
- Bruce N Ames
Global warming has
gone Hollywood, literally and figuratively. The script is plain. As Gore
says, solutions are at hand. We can switch to renewable fuels and embrace
energy-saving technologies, once the dark forces of doubt are defeated.
It's smart and caring people against the stupid and selfish. Sooner or
later, Americans will discover that this Hollywood version of global warming
(largely mirrored in the media) is mostly make-believe.
Most of the many reports on global warming have a different plot. Despite variations, these studies reach similar conclusions. Regardless of how serious the threat, the available technologies promise at best a holding action against greenhouse gas emissions. Even massive gains in renewables (solar, wind, biomass) and more efficient vehicles and appliances would merely stabilize annual emissions near present levels by 2050. The reason: Economic growth, especially in poor countries, will sharply increase energy use and emissions.
The actual politics of global warming defies Hollywood's stereotypes. It's not saints vs. sinners. The lifestyles that produce greenhouse gases are deeply ingrained in modern economies and societies. Without major changes in technology, the consequences may be unalterable. Those who believe that addressing global warming is a moral imperative face an equivalent moral imperative to be candid about the costs, difficulties and uncertainties.
- Robert J. Samuelson, "Hollywood Make Believe", "Newsweek"
Every age has a governing
creed from which dissenters are branded heretics or enemies of the people.
Once it was that God created the world. Next it was that man had to recreate
the world as the workers' paradise. When communism imploded in the late
1980s another belief emerged to fill the gap - that mankind was destroying
the world through global warming.
Anyone who questions the orthodoxy that the West's rising output of carbon dioxide will produce environmental catastrophe is branded as mad, bad or in the pay of the oil industry.
There is no conclusive evidence to support the global warming theory.
- Melanie Phillips, "The Sunday Times"
"Today, one of the
most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism
seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's
a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you
see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of
traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. There's an initial Eden,
a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from
grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of
knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming
for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation,
which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the
church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that
pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe."
- Michael Crichton, "The Most Important Challenge Facing Mankind" speech
"The work of science
has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of
politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who
happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable
by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What
is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history
are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no
such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If
it's science, it isn't consensus.
...I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way."
- Michael Crichton, "Aliens Cause Global Warming" speech
Given the Earth’s 700
million years of natural upheaval, human intervention seems about as likely
to change its course as emptying the ocean with teaspoons. The nearest
our generation has come to Apocalypse was the nuclear arms race of the
last quarter of the 20th century. I can still hardly believe that for much
of my life, roughly from 1965 to 1990, the Great Powers held arsenals of
multi-targeted live missiles capable of wreaking 'mutual assured destruction'
followed by a 'nuclear winter'. In comparison, today’s proclaimed abuses
of the 'biosphere' seem trivial.
We are about to be deafened by a green lobby protest against the Danish ecologist, Bjorn Lomborg. His forthcoming and much-trailed The Skeptical Environmentalist charges the green movement quite simply with lying. Almost all the 'facts' on which doom-laden predictions of ecological collapse are based, says Lomborg, are wrong. The world is not running out of food or energy. It is not choking, overpopulating, deforesting, overheating or dying. Most cities’ air is less polluted than ever in history.
As for Kyoto Lomborg leaves nobody, or at least not me, in any doubt that it is a nonsense. It is what you get when you sub-contract world government to publicity-hungry 'non-government organisations'. You end up with ecological fear factories and governments misdirecting public money away from energy conservation and healthcare, which really do save lives, to 'saving the planet', pushing up industrial and farm costs with no measurable benefit.
- Simon Jenkins, "Ecological Terrorism on the crest of a wave", The Times.
At a rough estimate,
The Irish Times devoted 10,000 words last week to the Climate Change Conference
in Bonn, aimed at saving the Kyoto Treaty proposals for cutting emissions
of greenhouse gases. And of those 10,000 words, the total given over to
explaining the US case for not ratifying Kyoto, or indeed to the arguments
of those who believe global warming is more complicated than environmentalists
would have us believe, was ... none.
The non-partisan Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates looked too at the possible effect of enforcing Kyoto on the small state of Montana. They suggested there would be a 4.3 per cent wage reduction, coupled with a 55.6 per cent rise in electricity prices and a 56 per cent rise in heating oil prices
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Irish Independent" (22/7/01)
Before throwing stones
at Bush, European leaders should put a question to themselves: What if
the United States should indeed accept and implement Kyoto and in consequence
the American economy should go into deep recession? Would the European
economy not follow the American one into recession?
We know that the two economies are so deeply intertwined that if one suffers, the other suffers also. And how terrible the suffering can be we also have reason to know. After the Wall Street crash of 1929 both the American and European economies went into deep and prolonged depression. And the consequences of that depression were even worse for Europe than for the United States. The German economy which had been flourishing in the years immediately before 1929 collapsed in the wake of Wall Street.
The political consequences of that collapse were even more disastrous than the economic ones. The German National Socialist Party which had been languishing as an obscure minority before 1929 became by 1930 the second largest party in the Reichstag. Three years later Hitler was in absolute control in Germany. Six years after that came the Second World War bringing with it the Holocaust. Bearing that history in mind, any thoughtful European has to see a serious threat to the American economy as a serious threat to Europe also, both politically and economically. Those who think along those lines will not be the first to denounce America over Kyoto.
- Conor Cruise O'Brien, "The Irish Independent"
When it comes to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, pay attention to what other nations do, not what they say.
- The Indianapolis Star, "Indystar.Com"
"Economic studies clearly
show that it will be far more expensive to cut greenhouse gases than to
pay for the cost of adapting to a warmer planet."
- Bjorn Lomborg
"The trouble is, we
would all be too impoverished to cope with the consequences."
- Phillip Stott, on the consequences of crippling industries to prevent warming
In the past third of
a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile
traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown
45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29
per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3
per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto,
European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's
emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's
best efforts to destroy the planet. Had America and Australia ratified
Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending
to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure
that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation.
In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower
by $97 billion to $397 billion.
- Mark Steyn, "The Telegraph"
Even the generally
gloomy Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change extrapolates that the
cost of global warming will mean that in 100 years’ time living standards
in the developing world will be 8.5 times higher rather than 9.5 times
higher than today.
- Graham Stewart, from his review of Nigel Lawson's "Appeal to Reason", "The Spectator"
"It is not for us to
give an assessment to what happened, but in our opinion the reputation
of British science, the reputation of the British government, and the reputation
of the title 'Sir' has sustained heavy damage."
- Andrei Illarionov, on Sir David King's performance at a Climate Change conference in Russia
In the 1970s, the Ice
Age was coming. Then the ozone hole was going to destroy life as we know
it. Then it was global warming, and that has rapidly morphed into global
climate change. It is very difficult to keep up with the changing threats
we face. If I didn't know better, I would think someone was making these
things up. OK. I would like to get in on this. I will make a prediction
right now. The next greatest threat to life on earth will be global climate
stagnation. It is enough to make one's blood run cold. Or warm. Or change
a bit, one way or the other. Or stay the same temperature.
- John Fagan, letter to "Steyn Online"
They said if we planted
a tree our flight would be carbon-neutral, but they were wrong; I say the
way to cut emissions is to cull some methane-spewing cattle... There are
1.3 billion cows on this planet, and every year each cow produces about
90kg of methane, and as greenhouse gases go, methane is about 24 times
worse than CO2 in sealing the heat in the air. According to a recent report
by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, agriculture produces 18
per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent
— and that, my friends, is more than is produced by the entire human transport
- Boris Johnson, "Save the Planet - Kill a Cow", "The Spectator"
There was a scientist
on BBC Radio 4 a few weeks ago who calculated that during an average year
of average temperatures in Britain, if people turned up their heating to
exactly compensate for the heat energy-saving light bulbs do not give out
compared to conventional ones, the net result was more energy used, not
- Seen on a Free Republic forum (Oct'07)
Stop Global Whining now!
A climate change is as good as a rest.
Beware the SIFS - Single Issue Fanatics.
# THE NANNY STATE
There is a certain
infantilism in a public that demands the Government save it from its bad
habits... Arguably the most harmful ingredient of junk food is sugar, which
promotes obesity by interfering with the body's natural mechanism for telling
us when we have had enough to eat. Yet every year EU taxpayers pay €819
million to European sugar beet farmers. Our own Government funds a research
centre to help them maximise production. It is a similar story with the
mountains of EU-subsidised butter, which Government health quangos spend
much time imploring us not to eat. It is absurd that we should have to
pay once for subsidising unhealthy food and again to be told it is going
to kill us. Nannying is not the Government's only offence: it also has
a propensity for frittering away large amounts of our money on helping
one ministry undo the work of another.
- Editorial, in Britain's "The Sunday Telegraph"
The State is busy giving
lectures to parents (on obsesity). We are so sure that society can sort
things, with TV advert bans and so forth, while lazy, deadbeats are rearing
their children to the sound of a pinging microwave. Meanwhile, as Jamie
Oliver's television programmes on school dinners showed so well, among
the worst, most unhealthy, meals served to children are those being cooked
by employees of the Government.
- Daniel Finkelstein, on the hypocrisies of government programs, "The Times"
It never takes long
in an argument over obesity, as indeed was the case over cigarettes and
alcohol, for the cost to the NHS to be brought up... Following the logic
of the argument, if you are a BUPA client with private health insurance,
please go ahead and eat up. You can get as fat as you like. Where does
this end? If it is reasonable to argue that people shouldn't be fat because
it harms the finances of the NHS, then it would be reasonable to argue
that these people shouldn't choose low-earning occupations either. We need
their tax money. Would I be entitled to insist that charity workers quit
their jobs and work in the City, so that they can help to pay for my healthcare
with their increased earnings? Can I start lecturing people who play dangerous
sports that they should stay at home in case they inflate my bill? Just
about any form of activity has an impact on health. So there is nothing
that is immune to the NHS cost argument. Everything that you do, everywhere
you visit, every bite you eat, every drop you drink, the job you choose,
every road you cross is everyone else's business. This is the road to serfdom.
- Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"
While busybodies and
health experts would have us wine and dine largely on mung-bean mash and
prune-juice fizz, obesity is a long way from being Britain's most pressing
problem. The real issue, in budgetary terms, is not that we are dying too
soon, but living ever longer. Obesity is estimated to cost Britain £1
billion a year. This is a tiny fraction of the shortfall in our pensions
system, caused, in part, by soaring life expectancy.
- Jeff Randall, on the economics of obseity and life expectancy, "The Telegraph"
The government feels
the need to ratchet up the infantilization of the many in order to fix
- Jonah Goldberg, on Britain's Nanny State, "National Review"
A ban will achieve
nothing. It is based on the belief that you can add together the advertising
of, say, crisps, chocolates, burgers, sugary drinks, breakfast cereals,
biscuits and so on, and the totality will constitute a campaign for a particular
class of food: unhealthy food. This is manifest nonsense. No parent or
child puts all their unhealthy foods in one mental shopping trolley, all
healthy foods in another. Unlike cigarettes, foods most certainly do not
constitute a homogeneous category. People have argued, though there is
no data to support it, that the advertising of different brands of cigarettes
amounts to an overall campaign for smoking. But how could anyone argue
that advertising crisps promotes the sales of chocolate? Or that advertising
Sugar Puffs promotes McDonald's? We were all taught that you can't add
apples and oranges; you certainly can't add McCain Oven Chips to McVities
HobNobs and Mars bars, and make sense of the answer.
- Winston Fletcher, as Britain prepares to bank junk food ads, "The Guardian"
"We must convince government
that the answer to all societies problems is not in advertising restrictions
... it is insidious nanny state pressure. It is not going to change people's
lives ... that is too simplistic. Either ban it altogether, ban the product,
or just get out of our lives."
- Michael Grade, ITV Chairman
According to the accepted
measure of establishing a person's Body Mass Index (BMI), Brad Pitt is
'overweight' and George Clooney is 'obese'. The problem is that health
advice is only ever dispensed now in a "one size fits all" basis. You must
be within the BMI range of normalcy, or you will die horribly. You must
stop drinking more than the recommended weekly units, or you will end up
like George Best... aren't we all supposed to be dead by now?
There has never been so much pressure on people to be thin, and the irony is it's not coming anymore from the old scapegoats in the media or the fashion industry, but from some of the very people who used to denounce those outlets most vociferously for undermining women's self-image. The only difference is they believe it's acceptable suddenly to tell women how they should look because they're doing it under the holy auspices of "health promotion". Having a scattering of cod science at their fingertips only makes the modern finger waggers all the more effective bullies. Some progress.
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Sunday Independent"
The core of Robert
Atkin's message was correct: Americans did get fatter when they ate less
fat, and the figures proved it. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, obesity in
America was a relatively constant 13-14% of the population, but in the
1980s, when the low-fat dogma was becoming popular, it shot up to 25%,
although there was no corresponding rise in fast-food consumption or drop
in Americans taking exercise to account for this. Overweight children have
tripled in number, and type-2 diabetes, once confined to older adults,
was increasingly diagnosed in teenagers. It is now widely accepted that
the low-fat fad was and is to blame. The American food-processing industry,
responding to public and government pressure about fat-filled diets, reduced
fat content in its products — but had to replace it with something as pleasing
to the taste buds. More often than not, they chose some form of sugar —
one of the refined carbohydrates that Atkins had identified as the culprit
for America's obesity. Far from making Americans thinner, the low-fat credo
put the pounds on.
- Ed Moloney, assessing the legacy of the Atkins diet, "The Sunday Times"
Until we have better
research that demonstrates which factors relating to the obesity rise are
the significant ones, we shouldn't put all our money into interventions
that target only food marketing and sedentary lifestyle. That conclusion
is further warranted by surprising additional recent research. In one large
study of more than 1,500 children, attempts to increase physical activity
and healthy eating had absolutely no effect on obesity. Another study of
7,000 children found that how close a child lives to the nearest fast-food
restaurant has no effect on obesity. Proximity to a playground also doesn't
- Sydney Spiesel, "Why We're Fatter: Five Reasons You Haven't Thought Of", "Slate"
A big study suggests
the harm of excess weight is overhyped. Downside of obesity: Higher risk
of death from heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and some kinds of
cancer. Downside of overweight: Higher death risk from diabetes and kidney
disease, but no higher risk from cancer or heart disease. Upside of overweight
(compared to "normal" weight): much lower death risk from Alzheimer's,
emphysema, lung cancer, Parkinson's, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. Net result:
100,000 lives saved per year by being overweight instead of "normal." Theory:
Extra weight includes "reserves" that help you resist or recover from disease.
Supportive reactions: 1) Fat isn't bad for you. 2) "Overweight" is normal,
and "normal" is underweight. Critiques: 1) The study only measured deaths,
so it missed the fact that fat causes disease, impairment, and lower "quality
of life," even if it doesn't kill. 2) The reason fat kills fewer people
is that we're medicating them. 3) Overweight may not harm you directly,
but it leads to obesity, which does harm you. 4) Other studies say fat
is harmful. 5) If we tell people fat is harmless, they'll eat crap and
stop exercising, which is bad for them regardless of weight.
- William Saletan, "Slate Magazine"
The Western world is,
famously, full of fat kids. It is not clear why. Could it be because of
the insidious power of advertising? Or the fear of traffic and kidnappers,
which persuades parents to keep their children indoors? Or should we just
blame the steady spread of fast food? All three, it seems, are guilty—or
so say economists, who in recent years have started publishing a bewildering
array of explanations for the obesity epidemic. Another trio of economists—Patricia
Anderson, Kristin Butcher, and Phillip Levine—has suggested that two-income
families may be producing the problem. They find that children are fatter
if their mothers work longer hours. This is true even within families:
The sibling who spent more time as a latchkey child will tend to be the
fatter one, perhaps because the mother is less able to supervise outdoor
play or has less time to cook and therefore buys more fast food. Unfortunately
for working mothers who are already struck by guilt, the effects are pretty
substantial. A mere 10 hours at work raises the chance of childhood obesity
by 1.3 percentage points, which is about 10 percent. Despite all the concerns
about childhood obesity, most of the fat people in the world are old enough
to look after themselves. So, what's going on? Here, traditional economics
seems to offer a perfectly straightforward pair of explanations. First,
the cost of exercise has risen: Most of us used to be paid to burn off
calories in physically demanding jobs, after all. It is hard to undercut
a form of exercise that pays you, and modern gyms haven't tried. Second,
food technology has tipped the balance in favor of more snacking. Despite
the attention devoted to "supersize" portions, the calories consumed at
main meals have actually declined. Three Harvard economists, David Cutler,
Edward Glaeser, and Jesse Shapiro, argue that food technology has dramatically
lowered the cost in time and money of grazing on junk food all day.
- Tim Harford, "Slate Magazine"
According to new reports
new links have been discovered between obesity and sleep deprivation. The
discovery is enough to make you lose sleep: evidence is emerging of a link
between a drop in the time society spends slumbering and the dramatic rise
in obesity and associated diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
A flurry of worldwide research has established an intriguing connection
between poor sleep and fat stomachs... The sleep-weight link initially
perplexed researchers. More time awake should mean more calories burnt.
But people also eat when they're awake, and the effect of chronic sleep
deprivation on the brain's food-seeking circuitry is what seems to be influencing
- Roger Highfield, "The Daily Telegraph (Mar'07)
The next phase of the
war on smoking has begun. Soon, Ireland will be like California. Smokers
will be a despised and reviled breed. Ill-health is to modern, secular
societies what sin was to older, religious ones. Whereas the Catholic church
used to warn against the wages of sin, the state warns against the wages
of smoking, unprotected sex and excessive drinking. The church said sin
was bad for you. The state says unhealthy habits are bad for you.
The odd thing is that it is often the people most in favour of such (public health) campaigns who happily kicked over the old moral restraints which made kids wait until they were older before becoming sexually active, drinking or smoking. I mean those on the left - it was the left which led the rebellion against the old moral restraints, and the left which is now in favour of the nanny state.
- David Quinn, "The Sunday Times"
Everything that used
to be a sin is now a disease.
- Bill Maher
"Nobody should be smoking,
it's really bad for you, but personal freedom is much more important than
- Neil Rafferty, of "Forest"
We lovers of liberty
are opposed to the coming smoking ban, but there is a lesson here about
how liberty disappears. The widespread support for the ban surely does
not come from health fears. The passive smoking argument which, in strict
public policy terms, is what has carried the day, is only half-believed.
The real reason is the sense that, for as long as anyone can remember,
smokers have shown bad manners to non-smokers. Millions feel their clothes
have been made to smell and their eyes to prick and their throats to tickle
by people who never really asked their permission. In the 19th century
smoking was an activity permitted only in certain specific places and company.
If it had stayed that way, the demand for a ban would always have been
weak, but once people started to smoke absolutely anywhere, resentment
at this rudeness grew. "Do you mind if I smoke?" became a question which,
if asked at all, virtually assumed the answer "no". The ban is revenge
— misguided but understandable.
- Charles Moore, "The Spectator"
"Of course, speeding,
especially in residential streets, is a bad thing. But the extraordinary
rash of humps and bumps and pavement extensions and painted hieroglyphics
on streets and roads is quite obviously daft as well as bewildering and
probably a safety hazard in itself. I could not at first help smiling when
I learnt that traffic humps are not only damaging ambulances and fire engines
but are also slowing them down so much as to prevent them doing their work,
but it is not funny. The London Ambulance Service estimates that about
500 lives a year are lost to speed humps."
- Minette Marrin, "Everywhere we turn, Nanny is there and ready to hit us", "The Times"
"If there is the slightest
hint that something pleasurable may do harm, such evidence is immediately
accepted, inflated and disseminated. If, however, the same pleasurable
activity is shown to be beneficial in any respect, such evidence must be
suppressed, ridiculed or dismissed."
- Dr Peter Skrabanek, "The Rise of Coercive Healthism"
Here are some innovative
proposals for the National Taskforce on Obesity: Don't eat as much; It
is possible to stand on your feet and put one foot in front of the other
- it's called walking; Stop stuffing your face in fast-food restaurants;
Get off your fat ass and stop watching telly every night; Stop guzzling
- Will Hanafin, "Irish Independent"
In the War on Smoking,
several US states take legal steps to protect major tobacco companies from
an anticipated huge damage award in a class-action lawsuit. The states
need the tobacco companies to stay in business, because, thanks to the
tobacco settlement, the states now make more money from the sale of cigarettes
than the tobacco companies do. If this makes no sense to you, it's because
you're a human, as opposed to a lawyer.
- Dave Barry, "2000 in Review"
It is now proved beyond
doubt that smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.
- Fletcher Knebel
On the morning of July
7, I watched a commuter, who had just emerged dazed and smoke-grimed from
an Underground station, being asked whether he would like to see a trauma
counsellor. Politely, but firmly, he declined, and staggered off. The counsellor
looked disappointed and mildly disapproving. There is a widespread assumption
that most people, and particularly those suffering from loss or shock,
are by definition in need of psychological treatment, trauma counselling
and cathartic emotional disclosure.
In a remarkable new book, One Nation Under Therapy, Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel have identified the spread of what they call therapism, the growing, quasi-religious belief that humans are generally fragile and in need of psychological aid. According to the tenets of therapism, children must be protected from competition, lest their self-esteem is bruised; sharing emotions is good and reticence a sign of repression, possibly leading to post-traumatic stress disorder; normal human emotions, including grief, stress and sadness, are pathologies to be tended and cured. People who reject therapy are deemed to be in denial, and thus doubly at risk. Satel, a psychiatrist, and Sommers, a philosopher, argue that the emphasis on therapy is steadily eroding such characteristics as stoicism, self-belief and self-reliance. No one would deny that psychotherapy has proved a boon to many, while doctors have developed medications for treating devastating mental illness that have transformed the lives of millions. Some therapies are not appreciated enough: in this country, counselling for bereaved children is woefully underfunded.
But where therapism goes too far is in the assumption that all human beings are essentially weak, unable to confront on their own the quotidian neuroses of life.
- Ben MacIntyre, "Rampant Therapism", "The Times"
# RISK FRENZIES
Avian flu is the perfect
storm of health scare stories. Over the past few years we have been told
of an unstoppable succession of diseases that will kill millions and that
we had better prepare for the worst — heterosexual AIDS, human mad-cow
disease, the Ebola virus, SARS. This current one shares with mad-cow disease
the idea that our food will kill us — something seen in health scares from
Alar onwards. And unlike most of those other diseases it relates to an
illness we are all familiar with — the flu. Yet, although a truly mutated
human version of the disease could be something terrible — just as was
plausible in all those other scares — the disease doesn’t even exist yet.
The current form has killed only 1 in 31 million of the world’s population.
Regulatory bodies such as the EPA and FDA live by the Precautionary Principle,
which seeks to spare no expense to reduce risk to zero, even from 1 in
- Iain Murrary, "National Review"
The World Health Organisation
last night confirmed a pork flu pandemic was now imminent, raising fears
that millions of people obviously had no idea what a pandemic is. The government
was worried about ET fluAs confirmed cases in Europe leapt from probably
14 to possibly 19, officials said the very small number of people infected
meant it was vital governments across the world were prepared to use the
word 'pandemic' as often as possible. Martin Bishop, from Doncaster, said:
"I thought it was when millions of people were infected, bodies were piled
outside cemeteries and doors were daubed with a big, red 'X' to indicate
a 'house of the unclean'. "But then I looked it up and sure enough it said
'Pandemic, noun: 19 people in four different countries, each with a slight
temperature and a bottle of Lucozade'. So there you go."
- Seen on satirical website The Daily Mash
Yellow journalism now
comes in a new color: green. Often as sensationalistic as its yellow predecessor,
green journalism tends to appeal to our emotions, exploit our fears, and
pander to our vanity. It places a political agenda in front of the quest
for journalistic truth and in its most demagogic forms tolerates no criticism,
branding all who question it as enemies of the people. Not all green journalism
harangues, but even the gentlest variety sermonizes, cuts logical corners,
and substitutes good intentions for problem solving
- Jack Shafer, on the excesses of 'Green' journalism, "Slate Magazine"
If they had been around
in the 19th century, those wrecking GM crop trials would presumably have
been smashing up Louis Pasteur’s laboratory, since he could not safely
predict the consequences of his experiments with germs.
- Mick Hume, "The Times", 20/9/99
Life has always been
inherently risk-laden. But in 21st-century America, life is becoming increasingly
a search for the Holy Grail of security in everything we do, from flu to
finances to flying, and from sports to politics... Had our forebears been
as hung up on fear and threat as we, America would be a third-rate power
nestled in the narrow corridor between the Atlantic and the Shenandoah
Valley, without railroads, airplanes, heavy industry or the Internet.
- Bob Barr, "Stalked By Fear", "Washington Times"
"Through the early
1980's, there was a staggering disconnect between the portrayal of menaces
— sexual, chemical, criminal and religious — and what could plausibly be
seen as their objective substance."
- Philip Jenkins, "The Decade of Nightmares"
We have morphed into
a society that hyperbolizes everything. The only way to get any attention
paid to a story is to use as breathless and apocalypse-invoking language
as possible. But that is mostly a declaration of the laziness of the writer.
The problem with declaring everything to be the worst thing in the world
is that it leaves you nowhere to go. The point is that if you immediately
jump for the high end of the scale, you trivialize everything in the process.
- Rrhain, on Slate's Fraywatch
Health warnings should
only be given in moderations.
- Liam Fay, "The Times"
If a headline reads
"Cancer is now the number one killer", should we cower or celebrate? Most
people will cower, assuming that cancer is on the rise, but they forget:
something has to be the number one killer, and cancer may have moved to
the number one spot, not because more people are getting it, but because
a cure has been found for whatever it was that was killing more people
- Alexander Waugh, reviewing "Panicology", "The Telegraph"
Every day we hear about
new studies “revealing” what should have been obvious to sentient beings
for generations. A few recent headlines: “Fat kids become fat adults, says
new study”: “Housewives not as desperate as singles over 40, a new study
finds”; “Drowsiness, inattention play big role in car accidents, study
finds.” Every few months newspapers breathlessly report that—surprise!—men
and women are different, children are impressionable, and poisons are bad
for you. What next? “Research shows wolverines don’t like to be teased”?
Or “Running with scissors inadvisable, Mayo Clinic reports”?
- Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"
To stay alive, conquer
excessive weight, keep waists to ordained limits, control blood pressure
strictly through regular monitoring and assiduous treatment, check bloods
regularly for diabetes and take several portions daily of fruit or vegetables.
Additionally, don't smoke, don't add salt, drink alcohol in moderation,
forget gyms but be adamant about taking at least a 40-minute brisk walk
daily. Finally, avoid divorce and sleep for six or seven hours a night.
- Dr Thomas Stuttaford, on the secrets of a long life, "The Times"
Dr. M. A. Calderon,
of Brompton Royal Hospital, London, and a group of colleagues have done
a serious and extensive systematic review of the literature on immunotherapy
(allergy shots) for seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). After reviewing
more than 1,000 research reports, Calderon's team found about *50* that
asked the right question in a right enough way to make their conclusions
- Sydney Spiesel, from his Slate Magazine medical column
I was intrigued last
week to hear the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, blame the shortage
of flu vaccine on a group called the “worried well”. Apparently some of
us have been so frightened by the fear of being less than perfectly fit
that we respond to any initiative to improve our health, whether we need
to or not. Now who could have been responsible for that phenomenon? Might
it perhaps have been the people who told us that we face an obesity “epidemic”,
a sexual health “crisis” and require a ban on smoking indoors to save us
from premature death?
- Michael Gove, "The Times"
A single sneeze in
a busy area can end up infecting 150 people with a cold in just five minutes,
new research suggests. An analysis of the germs unleashed from a single
commuter's sneeze showed that within minutes they are being passed on via
escalator handrails or seats on trains and underground carriages. At the
busiest stations, one sneeze not smothered by a tissue or handkerchief
will provide enough germs to infect another 150 commuters. Dr Roger Henderson,
a specialist in colds and flu, investigated how germs released by a sneeze
would spread. Researchers asked 1,300 workers about their health and found
99 per cent of commuters suffered at least one cold last winter. In contrast,
just 58 per cent of those who work from home and 88 per cent of those who
walk to work regularly caught a cold last winter.
- Seen in Dublin's "Metro"
Britain has caught
cold. Or is it flu? Most people have only a blurry idea of the difference.
They regard a cold and flu as two extremes of a spectrum of feeling sneezy
and sick with self-pity.
- The Times, after Britain is hit by a cold pandemic
record of scientific accuracy makes astrologers, a maligned group, look
pretty good by comparison.
- Ann Marie Hourihane, as the Atkins' Diet comes under fire, "The Sunday Tribune"
When Crown Shakur died
of starvation, he was 6 weeks old and weighed 3.5 pounds. His vegan parents,
who fed him mainly soy milk and apple juice, were convicted in Atlanta
recently of murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty. This particular
calamity — at least the third such conviction of vegan parents in four
years — may be largely due to ignorance. But it should prompt frank discussion
about nutrition. I was once a vegan. But well before I became pregnant,
I concluded that a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create
and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants... There are no vegan
societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long
- Nina Planck, "Death by Veganism", "The New York Times"
for the deaths of an estimated 72,000 British people every year — or slightly
more than the combined numbers of those feckless people dying from smoking,
drinking and being very fat. I suppose you could call it the silent killer;
there are no government campaigns to educate the public about its lethality.
When lists are published showing the top killer diseases it is never present,
although it is the third most common cause of death. The Chief Medical
Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, is not forever haranguing us about how we
should avoid causes of iatrogenesis. I know of no medical pressure groups
staffed by starch-shirted harridans screeching at us about the problem,
nor taxes designed to prevent us from contracting it. And yet it is very
easy to avoid iatrogenesis; all you need to do is never visit a hospital
or a doctor, and indeed, if a doctor should approach you in a public place,
then roll up your newspaper and swat him away, much as if he were a malarial
mosquito, while holding your other hand tightly over your nose. Iatrogenesis
is the proper name for death by doctors. The latest figures I’ve seen,
through the conduit of the Royal College of Physicians, is the one quoted
above — a quite remarkable 72,000 deaths per year. Not all of them are
the result of premeditated murder, of course; the overwhelming majority
of victims are dispatched through pure incompetence or negligence. I am
not sure if the figure includes those who die from infections generated
in hospitals — my suspicion is, it does not. In which case you can add
another 8,000 to the total, making a nice round figure of 80,000. Astonishing
really, isn’t it? If I were as promiscuous with statistics as is the Chief
Medical Officer, I would tell you that, on the latest available figures,
doctors are twice as bad for your health as lung cancer and substantially
more deadly than a stroke.
- Rod Liddle, "The Spectator" (Mar'09)
Ireland is facing another
BSE epidemic - 'Blame Somebody Else' - which threatens to escalate our
worsening obesity rates.
- Professor Patrick Wall
The forces of safety
are afoot in the land. I, for one, believe it is a conspiracy - a conspiracy
of Safety Nazis shouting "Sieg Health" and seeking to trammel freedom,
liberty, and large noisy parties. The Safety Nazis advocate gun control,
vigorous exercise, and health foods. The result can only be a disarmed,
exhausted, and half-starved population ready to acquiesce to dictatorship
of some kind.
- PJ O'Rourke, "Republican Party Reptile"
The mental health of
millions of people is being put at risk by television news bulletins that
focus too heavily on disasters, war and crime, according to the first scientific
study of how viewers react to news reports, conducted by doctors in Sussex
- Robert Matthews, "Daily Telegraph"
But maybe everything
need not and should not be so antibacterial; maybe we need to start making
the tedious distinctions between good and bad germs and not simply try
to kill all of them. E. coli in general is good for us; E. coli 0157:H7
is very bad for us. Parents need to use common sense: Let a kid play in
the dirt, but don’t let a kid play with a raw chicken in the dirt.
- Susan McCarthy, Salon.com
We live in a far less
risky time than our parents or grandparents. Today fewer than one woman
in 10,000 dies in childbirth: in 1940, one in 300 did. The disappearance
of the Soviet Union is the greatest risk reduction in our lifetimes; but
better drugs, a more plentiful diet, social security and other changes
have also cut the ordinary risks of life. What has changed is attitude
to risk. At a time when most risks are actually declining, people are worrying
more. But they lack the skill to assess risks, to develop a true calculus
of risk in which real dangers are distinguished from mere scares. Driving
a car is far more dangerous than flying, but we seldom hear of people with
driving-phobia. If one believed all the scares floated by environmentalists
and health campaigners, one would never set foot out of doors, though,
of course, that would still leave one the option of falling down stairs.
- Nigel Hawkes, "The Times", 19/2/99
A lot of cows are about
to die. It doesn't much matter which cows. It doesn't matter that there
will be absolutely nothing wrong with the poor brutes. The essential thing
is that they
die. Not till the nation's nostrils are full of the smoke of the burnt offerings will the Molochs of the Labour Party and the consumer groups be satisfied. People are entitled to be
superstitious in the face of improbability, just as they are entitled to invest in the National Lottery. But the central point, surely, is that if there is a risk in eating beef, then it is no greater than many we have decided to accept as part of our everyday lives.
- Boris Johnson, "Only Killing Cows Will CalmThe Human Herd", 27/3/96, during the BSE crisis
For most of history,
people would have agreed with Jonathan Swift when he wrote in Gulliver's
Travels : "And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two
ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where
only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential
service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together"
- Richard D North, on the GM Food scare
"It is worth remembering
that until relatively recently British food was feared throughout the world.
Globalisation has increased both the choice and supply of food available.
For example, we now enjoy a plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables throughout
the year. As a consequence fruit consumption has increased by 50% compared
with the 1970s and the average intake of vitamin C is now twice as high...
the best advice at present is to focus on achieving a balanced diet rather
than demonizing or promoting certain foods. Nostalgia for some former era
needs to be tempered with the knowledge that health and nutritional status
was poorer and infectious disease rampant in the past."
- Professor Tom Sanders, speech at "The Food Foundation Debate"
To only a few chemicals
does man owe as great a debt as to DDT... Indeed, it is estimated that,
in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due
to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable.
- US National Academy of Sciences report, 1970.
The time might have
come when we should change to a list of things that do not cause cancer
according to epidemiologists, if only to save disk space.
If doomsday enviros
have their way, America's love affair with the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles)
may soon be over. A leaked draft report by the National Academy of Sciences
is being used to lobby Congress to pass the first increase in gas-mileage
requirements since 1984. Greenies have been waiting for years to get SUVs
off the road and the global warming scare has provided them with the perfect
vehicle. But raising fuel standards in the past has come at a price few
want to talk about: Forcing cars to be lighter saves fuel but reduces safety.
For the first time, the NAS report acknowledges that connection may have
contributed to thousands of deaths in the 1980s.
- Wall Street Journal
"The biggest epidemiological
study ever is being carried out all over the world, where over half the
population in advanced economies are using mobile phones. There has been
no outbreak of brain tumours. Yet epidemiologists insist on carrying out
piddling little studies in the search for a good scare and their time in
I recently went to
a mobile phone mast protest meeting. The local church was full of well-heeled
people poring over leaflets about the possible dangers of electromagnetic
radiation. Then something started to ring. The man on my right calmly pulled
his Nokia out of his Paul Smith jacket and started yabbering into it. “Do
you all have mobiles?” I asked the group I had joined. Yes. “Er, don’t
you think you need a mast to get a signal?” They hadn’t thought. Didn’t
really want to. They were much readier to sign a petition and express outrage
over a cup of coffee than actually to tackle their own contribution to
the problem. If you really thought mobile phones were irradiating your
children, surely you would jack them in and stick to the landline? Part
of the problem, of course, is the fear that any minuscule step one takes
to do good will simply be exploited by someone else. Why should I endure
the rain at the bus stop with my four-year-old every morning when some
other mother is just going to use the road space I have vacated? ...We
are actually both victims and perpetrators.
- Camilla Cavendish, "Call Yourself a Green?", "The Times"
"The consumption of
alcohol in 19th century America was unlike anything 20th century Americans
are likely to experience in their own lives. Between 1790 and 1840, Americans
drank more alcoholic beverages - nearly half a pint of hard liquor per
adult male each day - than at any other time in our history. The most popular
beverages were cider and whiskey. Water was usually of poor quality, milk
was scarce and unsafe, and coffee, tea and wine were imported and expensive."
- Jerold E. Levy, putting things in perspective, "Encyclopedia of North Americans Indians"
The quest for safety
in our drug supply is an admirable one — to a point. But activists refuse
to understand the most elementary concept of drug evaluation — indeed of
science itself: There is no such thing as "absolute safety." All of life's
activities come with a baseline of unavoidable risk. As a public-health
educator and former clinician, I've seen many lives lost and much needless
suffering faced as a result of excess caution in the quest for "total safety."
- Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, "National Review"
The bright yellow life-jackets
are not intended to act as flotation devices. They are there to make it
easier for the recovery services to spot the bodies strewn across rough
terrain. (I was once asked to put on a life-jacket over central Germany,
some 300 miles from the sea.) And the advice to adopt a head-down fetal
position in the event of a crash landing does nothing to preserve life,
given that the stall speed of a modern airliner means it will connect with
the ground at terminal velocity. However, the position does tend to preserve
dental data, useful for identifying dilapidated corpses.
- Letter to the Economist on the rationale behind Airline safety procedures
# BATTLES OF SEXES
"The media discourse on gender matters is roughly this: when something is bad for females, the fault lies with the society and/or State; when something is bad for males, it lies with the affected men or boys."
- John Waters, "The Irish Times"
"Women in Afghanistan are denied the right to education; women in Saudi Arabia cannot vote; women in Iran are stoned for sexual misconduct. Women in Ireland, meanwhile, have to put up with an occasional critical article from John Waters."
- Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Irish Indepdent"
"Men are condemned as a sex with little regard for their individual differences or for the impediments that they suffer as men. Men die on average seven years earlier than women, have no choice about engaging in a lifetime of work to support their families, commit suicide four times as often, suffer ten times as many work-related fatalities, receive much harsher prison sentences for identical crimes, and are the only group in society that it is permissible to caricature."
- Camille Paglia
It is capitalist America
that produced the modern independent woman. Never in history have women
had more freedom of choice in regard to dress, behavior, career, and sexual
- Camille Paglia
The real liberators
of American women were not the feminist noise-makers, they were the automobile,
the supermarket, the shopping center, the dishwasher, the washer-dryer,
- Pat Buchanan
Gerald: "You see, Kyle,
we live in a liberal democratic society. And Democrats make sexual harassment
laws. These laws tell us what we can and can't say in the workplace and
what we can and can't do in the workplace."
Kyle: "Isn't that fascism?"
Gerald: "No! Because we don't call it fascism. Do you understand?"
Kyle: "Do you?"
- South Park
"The artificial improvement
of human beings will come, one way or another, whether we like it or not,
as soon as the progress of biological understanding makes it possible.
When people are offered technical means to improve themselves and their
children, no matter what they conceive improvement to mean, the offer will
Improvement may mean better health, longer life, a more cheerful disposition, a stronger heart, a smarter brain, the ability to earn more money as a rock star or baseball player or business executive. The technology of improvement may be hindered or delayed by regulation, but it cannot be permanently suppressed. Human improvement, like abortion today, will be officially disapproved, legally discouraged, or forbidden, but widely practiced.
It will be seen by millions of citizens as a liberation from past constraints and injustices. Their freedom to choose cannot be permanently denied."
- Freeman Dyson
"If people have a gene
in their family which means it is necessary to have mutiliating surgery,
and members of their family have already died at a young age, it is utterly
- Lord Robert Winston, on a new gene-screening IVF technique
"In the end, you have
to take a stand for some absolutes in our society. And I think what we’re
talking about here is a moral absolute, and that is why I can’t support
- John Howard, vetoing a bill allowing cloning of human embryos
The actual risk-multiplication
effect of cousin marriage isn't clear. A study I cited six years ago concluded
that having a child with your first cousin increased the risk of a significant
birth defect from about 3-to-4 percent to about 4-to-7 percent... The British
Down's Syndrome Association has posted a chart showing the risk of producing
a baby with the syndrome at various maternal ages. From age 20 to age 31,
the risk doubles. From 31 to 35, it doubles again. From 35 to 38, it doubles
again. From 38 to 41, it more than doubles again. Each delay multiplies
the risk as much as cousin marriage multiplies the risks of all birth defects
combined. By age 45, the probability of Down syndrome alone roughly matches
the 4 percent cumulative risk of birth defects from cousin marriage...
Should women be allowed to have babies well into their 40s? If so, how
can you justify restrictions on cousin marriage? For that matter, what
about sibling incest?
- William Saletan, "Slate Magazine"
Ignorant people often
call cloning "a dangerous new technology" and liken it to nuclear technology.
We fail to see how dropping a clone from a height of 30,000 ft can hurt
anybody (except of course the clone).
"I am reminded of an
anecdote I read once regarding the London Plague. It seems that some astute
soul had noticed that wherever there were a lot of cats, there was a greater
intensity of the plague. They therefore decided to eradicate the cats.
Of course the observation was a valid one, its just that the conclusion
was erroneous and in fact eliminating the cats increased the plague. The
cats were of course attracted to the rats which were in fact the real vector
of the disease. The conversation cast in modern terms might have gone like
this. Look, we know that wherever there are cats there is more plague.
The people know this as well since we have told them so. They want us to
eradicate the cats, and every day we waste means more people will die.
If we wait, there is no telling how many people will die needlessly. Since
we know cats play a role, we must start now. We don't need to know what
exactly the role is, we already know enough, and besides cats are a problem
anyway, what harm could it do?"
- Quoted in Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish (andrewsullivan.com)
# NATURE DOES NOT EXIST
Science is not the new religion. Religion was the old science. The new science, which must manage without God, has found 'nature'. We must not (it whispers) disturb 'nature's balance'. Well, count me among the new atheists. I don't believe in nature. I have seen a tree but I have never seen nature. I don't believe in a nature's way or nature's balance. The history of the planet offers no more reason to believe in a natural balance than the history of mankind offers reason to believe in a beneficent God.
Ever since the Flood, floods were interpreted as divine punishments. The fire and brimstone that rained on Sodom and Gomorrah were among the most spectacularly extreme weather events in legend; but the 'acid rain' that we believe to harm lakes and trees is ascribed to human wickedness just as were Sodom's troubles.
Place at the apex of your order of creation a fiction. If you are born in the Middle Ages, call it God. If you live now, call it the Ecological Balance. Identify a perturbation in nature, then interpret it as a warning that we are living wrongly and should change our ways. Finally, earn yourself status, a pulpit, a Commons cheer, a living, or a research grant by elaborating on the perturbation and enumerating the ways we should change.
Note that in every case the voice crying 'I told you so' has an ulterior motive. Science is wheeled on just as God was once wheeled on, as corroborating evidence (from a superior source) for something upon which the voice of moral reproof wanted to insist anyway. Many and loud have been the voices crying that Aids was God's way of punishing an unnatural practice. One day, perhaps, an inoculation against HIV may be discovered. A bottle of champagne, then, for whoever cites me evidence of one of those voices crying that the breakthrough is God's way of telling us to bugger each other.
- Matthew Parris, "Nature Does Not Exist"
# MINE YOUR OWN BUSINESS
"Mine Your Own Business" is a documentary film which looks primarily at ongoing efforts to stop Canadian company Gabriel Resources from building a gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania.
"I remember a time,
not so long ago, when the man with the sandwich board warning the world
that the end is nigh was a comic figure. He appeared in cartoons and comedy
sketch shows as the clownish, nerdish figure that others made jokes about.
Similarly it is not long ago that the bearded man, with the religious collar
and evangelical zeal, warned us to change our ways or we would be visited
by plagues and pestilence was viewed as a throwback to a conservative,
less sophisticated past.
Most educated westerners feel that no longer believing these spreaders of doom and apocalypse is a sign of progress and how our society has matured.
But remove the glasses and the grubby raincoat from the man with the sandwich board and replace it with an ethnic shirt, maybe a pair of sandals and write on the sandwich board that we are all going to be damned because the oil will run out, Or maybe the message is that we are all going to be doomed because we have cut down the forests or because of global warming and suddenly we take the man with the sandwich board very seriously indeed.
Similarly remove the collar from the man with the evangelical zeal and make him a member of an environmental organisation and suddenly we start paying serious attention to these modern day prophets of doom.
Once, according to our religious leaders, it was our sins that were leading us to damnation. Now, according to our environmental leaders, it is polluting actions of man that will lead to our damnation. How little we have all progressed and how we still love to listen to harbingers of doom would be mildly amusing if it were not for the pernicious effects of such beliefs on the poorest people in some of the poorest countries in the world.
Hundreds of years after we have become rich and comfortable by removing our forests and exploiting our natural resources such as coal, oil, and gold we are now going to the poorest countries on the planet to prevent them from doing what we did and having what we have. We want them to stay as 'traditional peasants' forgetting all the while that the poor people desperately want progress and desperately want to enjoy the good, healthy and long life we in the west take for granted."
- Phelim McAleer, Director of "Mine Your Own Business"
# THE REAL COSTS OF REGULATION
Some years ago, the
FDA held a press conference to announce its long-awaited approval of a
new beta-blocker, and predicted it would save 14,000 American lives per
year. Why didn't anybody stand up at the time and say, "Excuse me, doesn't
that mean you killed 14,000 people last year by not approving it?" The
answer is, reporters don't think that way.
Why, in a free society, do we allow government to perform this kind of nanny-state function? A reasonable alternative would be for government to serve as an information agency. Drug companies wanting to submit their products to a ten-year process could do so. Those of us who choose to be cautious could take only FDA-approved drugs. But others, including people with terminal illnesses, could try non-approved drugs without sneaking off to Mexico or breaking the law.
Freedom makes us safer. It allows us to protect ourselves. Few of us are automotive engineers. But it's hard to get totally ripped off buying a car in America. The worst car you can find here is safer than the best cars produced in planned economies. In a free society, not everyone has to be an expert in order for markets to protect us.
Risk specialists compare
risks not according to how many people they kill, but according to how
many days they reduce the average life. The press goes nuts over airplane
crashes, but airplane crashes have caused fewer than 200 deaths per year
over the past 20 years. That's less than one day off the average life.
When we scare people about flying, more people drive to Grandma's house, and more are killed as a result. This is statistical murder, perpetuated by regulators and the media.
Even more dramatic is the fact that Americans below the poverty line live seven to ten fewer years than the rest of us. Some of this difference is self-induced: poor people smoke and drink more. But most of it results from the fact that they can't afford some of the good things that keep the rest of us alive. They drive older cars with older tires; they can't afford the same medical care; and so on. This means that when bureaucrats get obsessed about flying or toxic-waste sites, and create new regulations and drive up the cost of living in order to reduce these risks, they shorten people's lives by making them poorer. Bangladesh has floods that kill 100,000 people. America has comparable floods and no one dies. The difference is wealth. Here we have TVs and radios to hear about floods, and cars to drive off in. Wealthier is healthier, and regulations make the country poorer. Maybe the motto of OSHA should be: "To save four, kill ten."
Largely due to the prevalence of misleading scare stories in the press, we see in society an increasing fear of innovation. Natural gas in the home kills 200 Americans a year, but we accept it because it's old. It happened before we got crazy. We accept coal, which is awful stuff, but we're terrified of nuclear power, which is probably cleaner and safer. Swimming pools kill over 1,000 Americans every year, and I think it's safe to say that the government wouldn't allow them today if they didn't already exist.
- John Stossel, "ABC News"
>> Read On >> "Fragile Science" by Robin Baker
>> Return to Politics index, or Site homepage.