We Must Loudly Contest Environmental Myths

by | Jan 7, 2020 |

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We are often told by environmental extremists and their allies in main stream media that humankind’s assault on nature is increasing. We are approaching an environmental ‘tipping point,’ beyond which there is no hope of returning, they say. We are supposedly doomed, they would like us to believe.
Fortunately, this is completely wrong, at least with respect to most of the developed world. No where is this better demonstrated than in America where proper environmental protection has been going on for the past half-century.
1968 began a major legislative effort by scientists to bring knowledge of our environment to bear on procedures and regulations that could staunch the unnecessary outpouring of industrial, municipal and domestic waste into the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, the water wells we pump from and the soil in which we grow our food.
Between 1972 and 1980, Congress passed a safety net of environmental laws that adequately protected every medium of our environment. They spawned an environmental improvement and protection program during the ensuing two decades that became the most successful grass roots, self-improvement program in our nation’s history.

Today, the United States enjoys its cleanest environment ever, and by any measure, the best in the world.

The air in every major city in America has improved more than 100% as contaminants such a sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, lead, turbidity and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have declined dramatically and continue to do so. The EPA asserts, “This progress occurred while the U.S. economy continued to grow, Americans drove more miles and population and energy use increased.” 

Between 1970 and 2018, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10, SO2, NOx, VOCs, CO and Pb) dropped by 74 percent.” – Environmental Protection Agency.

Nationally, concentrations of air pollutants have dropped significantly since 1990.” – Environmental Protection Agency. 
Most of our rivers and streams are now fishable and swimmable. The Cuyahoga River, near Cleveland, which caught fire in June of 1968, now abounds with pleasure boats and fishing boats. Likewise, the Hudson River in New York State, a veritable sewer in the 1970s, is clean and beautiful again.
You do not often read or hear this great American success story because the environmental movement has been co-opted by left leaning organizations. It is now controlled by individuals and groups with hidden agendas that barely involve our air, water and soil. These people use the environmental concerns of the public to oppose capitalism, suppress individual rights, and enlarge government.

Their willing co-conspirators are the main stream news media, which has long known that bad news sells best, and the major environmental advocacy groups who package and sell fear to a willing public, apparently wired genetically to believe in the worst outcomes. 

Our technology is constantly able to measure ever smaller concentrations of contaminants in our air and water without explaining the virtual lack of impact such small concentrations have on human health. Fifty years ago, we were lucky to measure contaminants in parts per million (ppm). Now we regularly measure everything in parts per trillion (ppt, a millionth of a millionth) which is the equivalent of one second in 32,000 years. Such concentrations are insignificant to our health regardless of the chemical of concern.  
A short list of environmental myths would include conventional wisdom on the impact of global warming, ozone holes, radon, asbestos, electric transmission towers, cell phones, arsenic, nitrates, nuclear power, pesticides, fertilizers, and wood preservatives to name but a few. That is not to say that everything and anything cannot become dangerous at high enough concentrations. They certainly can, but not at the levels commonly set for us by the federal government or fear-mongered to us by environmental advocacy groups.
The battle against overzealous environmentalism will never end, and we may not win, but we must persist in attempting to convince all those in our sphere of influence that the preachers of doom and gloom are simply wrong. Their messages are based merely on political agendas rather than sound science.
Just as Y2K and virtually every other scare in your lifetime proved a fraud, so too will next year’s scare du jour likely be a contrived falsehood. But if the public have even a simple grasp of the basic scientific facts presented in this brief article and also have the courage to speak out in support of our logical convictions then we can one day prevail. There are so many constructive accomplishments that can be gained with the use of public energies and public monies to solve real societal problems. It is tragic to waste these resources on the fraudulent fears foisted upon us by those with a hidden agenda.
Cleveland Fire Dept. Boat on the Cuyahoga River – Image: Reddit

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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Dave James
Dave James
2 years ago

Dr. Jay Lehr and Mr. Tom Harris begin their opinion piece by disparaging environmentalists as “extremists.” This is not unusual for Mr. Harris and Dr. Lehr. They often say or imply those who accept the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change are “anti-human.” For example: (“Climate Change Alarmism Is A Despicably Anti-Human Ideology” by Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris, Dec 26, 2019 Humans are Free)
Mr. Harris and Dr. Lehr are associates of the very conservative, anti-regulation, pro-fossil fuel Heartland Institute. (Source Tom Harris and Jay Lehr by-line to this op-ed) Dr. Lehr asserts the green movement is irrational, misanthropic and morally defective and have probably been responsible for the deaths “the socialist monsters of the 20th century who murdered over 100 million people in Russia, China and Germany.” (Source “Science! GMO’s are not the problem, they’re the answer!) rich-kozlovich, Dr. Jay Lehr,|Jan 3, 2020)
It is unusual for Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris to acknowledge the profound beneficial effects the environmental movement and environmental regulation has had on a America: “1968 began a major legislative effort by scientists to bring knowledge of our environment to bear on procedures and regulations that could staunch the unnecessary outpouring of industrial, municipal and domestic waste into the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, the water wells we pump from and the soil in which we grow our food.”
and
“The air in every major city in America has improved more than 100% as contaminants such a sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, lead, turbidity and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have declined dramatically and continue to do so.”
Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris assert that the impact of global warming is an “environmental myth.” Their assertion is not supported by the science. The scientific evidence of human-caused climate change is both robust and compelling. (Source Canada’s Changing Climate Report, 2019, Chapter 2, Section 3, “Understanding the causes of observed global climate change”)

Tom Harris
2 years ago

Stopped reading after James’ first sentence since any intelligent reader will see it as a straw man argument, an approach James often takes.

Dave James
Dave James
Reply to  Tom Harris
2 years ago

Mr. Tom Harris refuses to discuss his opinion pieces because he understands that open and honest debate can only hurt his pro-coal agenda.

Tom Harris
2 years ago

This Disqus profile – https://disqus.com/by/disqus_JzQ88MTX2I/following/ – shows that since March 31, 2016, Mr. James has made 4,180 comments. Here is a sample of some of his many, many posts apparently trying to discredit my writings in online article comment sections: https://www.google.ca/search?site=&source=hp&q=%22Tom+Harris%22+%22Dave+James%22&gws_rd=cr&ei=nyGDWefuDavcjwSb-oK4DA . I already explained to Mr. James that many of his points are either wrong or misleading . I will not waste any more time explaining this to him, unless other people bring up the same or similar questions.

Dave James
Dave James
2 years ago

Tom Harris repeats his refusal to discuss his opinion piece. Refusing to debate your op-ed again and again is not the sign of a strong, well supported argument.
Mr. Harris vaguely implies he has discussed his opinion piece in some other forum at some other time. He hasn’t. The words Mr. Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr write have far more impact on their credibility than anything I write. That is why I directly quote Mr. Harris and Dr. Lehr and provide the source of the quote so their words can be read in context.

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