Sometimes, in observing the various maneuverings in the current mix of junk science, politics, and blatant self-interest, the only rational response is to chuckle. We've been chuckling a lot this week.
Over at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where departing President Jane Lubchenco has done her best to humiliate herself--and her organization--by joining forces with an environmental pressure group to promote the global warming "crisis," it seems they are shocked--shocked!--to find that school children are being brainwashed into becoming little foot soldiers in the army of anti-science activists.
In an editorial in the Sept. 5 issue of Science, the flagship publication of the AAAS, Deborah Runkle and Ellen Granger complain that literature promoting the animal rights agenda has been showing up in the schools and in magazines aimed at grades K-12. Such literature, they say, exploits the children's "growing social awareness and concern for the helpless, a concern that is usually not tempered with knowledge of the part that animals play in improving human health, or personal experience with disease and death." Expressing alarm at this one-sided debate, the authors call on the research community to take immediate steps to counter this misinformation with good information.
Well, we sympathize, to be sure. The AAAS, which counts many biomedical researchers among its members, is right to be alarmed at this situation; scientists should speak up. But at the same time, we can't help but note some irony in this situation. We wonder if the many animal research scientists who signed Ozone Action's global warming statement--at the behest of Jane Lubchenco--were as concerned then about the perversion of science. We wonder if the editors of Science magazine are equally shocked at President Clinton's September 9 speech here in Washington, extolling kids to make global warming a "gripping national issue." If we "let the sea level rise and we flood the southern coast of Florida and we flood the southern coast of Louisiana and we otherwise disrupt what life is like in the United States over the next 50 years," said the President, "then your children pay the price for our neglect." We won't hold our breath waiting for that editorial.
Speaking of ironies, one of the more prominent supporters of energy taxes and emission controls to combat global warming is the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Information Center. Just last week, EIC Spokesman Peter Kelley and President Philip Clapp were complaining loudly to reporters about how energy industries are running radio, TV, and print ads to alert the public about the high cost of the proposals being readied for Kyoto in December. "It's dirty money," they sniffed. What they didn't mention is that EIC is about to move into lavish, marble-floored, granite-columned headquarters here in Washington, thanks in part to a $3.5 million check that arrived in March from Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew Trusts, it should be noted, was founded on oil money.
Popular Science magazine is still trying to convince its readers that stratospheric ozone depletion is a threat to human existence, and that the 1996 ban on CFC production (in developed countries) was not only necessary but actually accomplished something. According to postings on the Popular Science online "forum", the last time the magazine ran an article on this topic, PS subscribers paused from their usual discussions of God, space aliens, hoverboards, LSD, and spontaneous human combustion, to shout "hogwash!" Shaken by that response, Popular Science editor-in-chief Fred Abatemarco and science editor emeritus Arthur Fisher have now raised the topic again in their October issue and patiently seek to educate the masses. "Debate can be invigorating and is necessary in a democracy," says Abatemarco. "But the...harm being done to the earth's ozone layer is indisputable. The time for debate is over." In other words, gentle PS readers, don't send in your comments this time. Just nod.
Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reports that European customs officials have just broken up a major CFC smuggling operation. Officials charged the ringleader with importing 630 tons of CFCs and 365 tons of halons, then relabeling them as hydrofluorocarbons and reselling them over the past year in several European countries. The CFCs and halons originated in China. According to Duncan Black of the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, if China is supplying the smugglers, then depletion of the ozone layer could persist until 2010, when China and other developing countries must abide by an international ban on ozone-depleting chemicals. Really? We wonder how Mr. Black thinks the UN is going to enforce that ban in a communist country of more than 1 billion people? Will the United States government threaten sanctions and loss of MFN status over CFCs when it wouldn't consider such a move over human-rights violations?
Finally, officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have proposed that 1999 be designated the "Year of the (Environmentally Healthy) Child," and have recommended several programs to reduce pesticides and other chemicals alleged to affect children. We would like to cast our vote for INCREASING one pesticide that had a profound effect on the health of children--DDT. This year, malaria is expected to kill three million people and infect as many as 500 million worldwide, all because of a ban that was imposed on the Third World by environmental activists in the West.
Americans see an occasional case of malaria, largely because of the environmentalists' love affair with swamps (i.e., wetlands) and the tire recycling dumps that have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But the American experience is nothing compared to the devastation in impoverished tropical countries. Let's stop this nonsense and lift the ban on DDT. We could save millions of children--and their parents--from illness and death.
The White House is gearing up for its big global-warming confab/tent-meeting in Washington the first week in October. The Union of Concerned Scientists will be the warm-up act. More later.