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Monday, November 29, 2010
The Best Article I Have Read About the State of the Environmental Movement
Image of boy drinking polluted water from PlanetArk
If you read one article on environmentalism from now through the rest of the year, read this one. An excerpt...
Mercifully, nobody will pay attention to the climate conference at Cancun next week, where a much-reduced group of delegates will go through the motions. The delusional dream of global action to combat climate change is dead. Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme is dead. Chicago’s carbon-trading market is dead. The European Union’s supposed reduction in carbon emissions has been exposed as a giant fraud. (The EU is actually responsible for 40 per cent more CO2 today than it was in 1990, if you count the goods and services it consumed as opposed to the ones that it produced.) Public interest in climate change has plunged, and the media have radically reduced their climate coverage.
The biggest loser is the environmental movement. For years, its activists neglected almost everything but climate change. They behaved as if they’d cornered the market on wisdom, truth and certainty, and they demonized anyone who dared to disagree. They got a fabulous free ride from politicians and the media, who parroted their claims like Sunday-school children reciting Scripture. No interest group in modern times has been so free from skepticism, scrutiny or simple accountability as the environmental establishment.
Perhaps some good will emerge from the wreckage. (Humility, for example.) Now that global warming has stopped sucking all the oxygen out of the room, some of those who care about the planet will turn to other – and more pressing – problems. There are plenty. Humans are encroaching everywhere on habitats and species. Don’t worry about the polar bears, which have survived hundreds of thousands of years of melting and freezing ice. Worry instead about the lions and tigers, which face extinction within our lifetime. Their problem isn’t climate change. It’s us...
...Before they were sucked into the giant vortex of global warming, environmentalists did useful things. They protested against massive Third World dams that would ruin both natural and human habitats. They warned about invasive species and diseases that could tear through our forests and wreck our water systems. They fought for national parks and greenbelts and protected areas. They talked about the big things too – such as how the world could feed another three billion people without destroying all the rain forests and running out of water. They believed in conservation – conserving this beautiful planet of ours from the worst of human despoliation – rather than false claims to scientific certainty about the future, unenforceable treaties and radical utopian social reform.
“How high a price must the world pay for green folly?” asked the thinker Walter Russell Mead. “How many years will be lost, how much credibility forfeited, how much money wasted before we have an environmental movement that has the intellectual rigour, political wisdom and mature, sober judgment needed to address the great issues we face?”
The world has serious, pressing environmental problems. Ms. Wente's article eloquently makes the case that we should focus on the serious and solvable problems, not trying to control the weather. Highly recommended reading.