Impressions

 

Compiled by Timothy M. Cranston

Earth Day

"Last Sunday was marked by an orgy of celebrations of Earth Day, the worldwide annual event intended ‘to spark a revolution against environmental abuse’…[But it is] human ingenuity and technology that not only raise living standards, but also restore environmental amenities. How about a day to celebrate that… Economic Progress Day?"

--John Stossel, Anchor, ABC News 20/20

How Wrong Can a Guy Be?

"The Nazis got 200 German scientists to say that Einstein was wrong, and then somebody asked Einstein, 'How does it feel to have 200 scientists against you?' And he said, 'It takes only one to prove me wrong.' "

--Michael Crichton, in a global warming debate

On Markets, Incentives, and the Environment:

"It is time for public-land agencies to start running themselves like businesses and stop running themselves like an entity that gives things away to businesses. If we donn't keep records, if we don't measure it, we can't improve it."

--Carl Pope, Sierra Club President

[The market] is a humbler way of going about things than by following the conceited blueprints of politicians, the hubris of monopolistic buinessmen, or the arrogance of scientists."

--The Economist, an unsigned editorial

All my constituents love forests. It's just that some love them vertical and some horizontal.

--unnamed elected official

"When we buy wood, we are sending a signal to plant more trees to satisfy demand. I there were no demand for wood, landowners would clear away the forest and grow something else instead

--Patrick Moore, founding and
former member of Greeenpeace

A Translator's Guide to Environmental Vocabulary

Entries from the (fictitious as yet) "A Translator's Guide to Environmental Vocabulary," started by Owen McShane and Wallace Kaufman (PERC welcomes resders' entries):

Crude oil: incompletely recycled plant wastes that humans finish recycling as gasoline.

Farmland preservation: cultivation of permanent clearcuts, usually devoted to a few cash crops and preserved in such a way as to remove wildlife habitat.

Old growth forest: collective of trees in which a few large species kill off the competitors for energy and form a local solar energy cartel, rationing this vital resource away from lower growing plants and other species of biodiversity.

Solar energy: radiation from a centrally located nuclear reactor that provides the primary support for all plant life, and that has recently been converted to electricity in extremely small quantities.

How Should Science Intersect with Policy Making?

“We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

--Stephen Schneider
(Leading advocate of
the global warming theory)

“In the long run, the replacement of the precise and disciplined language of science by the misleading language of litigation and advocacy may be one of the more important sources of damage to society incurred in the current debate over global warming.”

 --Dr. Richard S. Lindzen
(leading climate and
atmospheric science expert-MIT)

The Keynes Challenge:

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

--J.M. Keynes

On Endangered Species:

“[After the 1973 Endangered Species Act was passed,] the feds decided that…the spotted owl was being killed off by logging, so (under President Clinton) they cut logging by 80 percent in the Northwest, killing off more than 130,000 jobs. Now it turns out that the science used to justify this war on a whole industry was likely bogus. It appears that what has caused the decline of the spotted owl was not evil hominids or vile technology, but another owl—the larger and meaner barred owl—had been killing and otherwise displacing the wimpy spotted owls.

“[Biologists are apparently surprised to learn that the fittest survive. The role of the barred owl was suspected in the early 1990s, even as the Clinton enviro-axe fell upon the hapless loggers’ heads; but many scientists swept doubts aside, claiming that ‘the best science’ put the fault on logging. Now that we know they were wrong, will these green activists admit their error and apologize to the hundreds of thousands of victims of their misguided policy? No. They don’t give a hoot.”

--Gary Jason, in Liberty magazine

“There is increasing evidence that at least some landowners are actively managing their land so as to avoid potential endangered species problems. Now it is important to recognize that all of these actions are…not the result of malice toward the environment. Rather, they’re fairly rational decisions motivated by a desire to avoid potentially significant economic constraints. In short, they’re really nothing more than a predictable response to the familiar perverse incentives that sometimes accompany regulatory programs."

--Michael Bean, Environmental Defense

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