Impressions

Compiled by Timothy M. Cranston

To Tell The Truth

“The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda.”

Michael Crichton, scientist and author

“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.”

Richard S. Lindzen, MIT atmospheric scientist

“What accounts for scientists’ policy blinkers? I suspect part of the answer lies in an implicit assumption…that alternatives to fossil-fuel energy are just as cheap and convenient, but that dark corporate and government forces have prevented them from being disseminated. Never mind the countervailing evidence such as the fact that decades of $5 and $6 per gallon gasoline in Europe has failed to create economically viable alternatives to gasoline- or diesel-powered automobiles…

“[Scientists’] credentials give them great authority on the world policy stage. Yet like the boyfriend who is in fact “high maintenance” while unwittingly believing himself to be “low maintenance,” climate scientists believe their policy recommendations to be based on science, rather than on unexamined prejudices that are yet to be subjected to scientific scrutiny. Only at our peril do we continue to dance to their tune.”

Joel Schwartz, NROnline

Miscellaneous

We welcome readers' quotes

“When all is said and done, more gets said than done…Talk is cheap. The supply exceeds the demand.”

Tim Raygor, friend of PERC

“Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down.”

Tony Blair, on his then impending retirement

The Sky is faling...Maybe Not

“I don’t like global warming because it kills animals, and I like animals…I worry about it because I don’t want to die.”

9-year-old Alyssa Luz-Ricca
quoted in The Washington Post, 4/16/07

“When you really think about it people aren’t the problem when it comes to a changing climate, they are the solution. Human innovation and creativity have already changed the world for the better countless times and they will again. And that’s why it’s OK to chill about global warming!”

Holly Fretwell, PERC research fellow and author of forthcoming children’s book,
The Sky’s Not Falling: Why It Is OK to Chill About Global Warming

A Translator’s Guide to Environmental Vocabulary

More entries from the fictitious guide started by Owen McShane and Wallace Kaufman (PERC welcomes readers’ entries):

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.

DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE(DHMO): an often toxic chemical responsible for many deaths a year; less than a teaspoonful in the human lungs is lethal. Petitions to ban it have been signed at environmental fairs; other names: hydronium hydroxide, water.

WEED: Wildflower

WILDFLOWER: Weed

What Africa really needs

“Some good ideas even come from economists. Julian Simon came up with the idea of bribing airline passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights—and gone were the days when you relied on the luck of the draw to make it to your daughter’s wedding. Economists first suggested creating property rights in African elephants, a policy that has given villagers an incentive to harvest at a sustainable rate and drive the poachers away. The result? Villagers have prospered and the elephant population has soared.”

—Steven Landsburg, author of
More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics

"Environmental leaders must join the 21st century, acknowledge the mistakes [Rachel] Carson made, and balance the hypothetical risks of DDT with the real and devastating consequences of malaria. Uganda has demonstrated that, with the proper support, we can conduct model indoor spraying programs and ensure that money is spent wisely, chemicals are handled properly, our program responds promptly to changing conditions, and malaria is brought under control.”

—Dr. Sam Zaramba,
Director General of health services, Uganda

Climate Change

“The poor old Scandinavian moose is now being blamed for climate change, with researchers in Norway claiming that a grown moose can produce 2,100 kilos of methane a year— equivalent to the CO2 output resulting from a 13,000-kilometer car journey.”

—Spiegel Online, 8/21/07

“Researchers conclude that much or all of the allowance [CO2 emissions cap and trade] cost would be passed on to consumers consumers in the form of higher prices. Those price increases would disproportionately affect people at the bottom of the income scale. For example, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the price rises resulting from a 15 percent cut in CO2 emissions would cost the average household in the lowest onefifth (quintile) of the income distribution about 3.3 percent of its average income. By comparison, a household in the top quintile would pay about 1.7 percent of its average income…A cap-andtrade program for CO2 emissions would tend to increase government spending and decrease revenues…The higher prices caused by the cap would lower real (inflation-adjusted) wages and real returns on capital, indirectly raising marginal tax rates on those sources of income…In essence, such a strategy would transfer income from energy consumers among whom lower income households would bear disproportionately large burdens to shareholders of energy companies, who are disproportionately higher-income households.”

—Congressional Budget Office

“The planet will continue to change, adapt and evolve, with or without us…We can’t control these things…But we can take control of how we treat each other. The best we can do for the environment and for the planet is to learn not to let undemocratic power structures run our lives. The best we can do is to reject exploitation and domination and to embrace cooperation and solidarity. The best we can do is…to become active agents for change beyond head-in-the-sand personal lifestyle choices.

—Denis Rancourt
Physics professor, University of Ottawa

Czecmates

“[Hope] is not the same thing as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good … The more unpropitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is.”

—Vaclav Havel
Dramatist and first president of the Czech Republic

“As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning…The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists…

—Vaclav Klaus
former Czech president and author

 

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