“When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power”
I began writing this article on April 22, 2017. What’s so special about this date? In addition to being the 146th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth….it’s also the 46th annual observance of Earth Day (I guess anti-capitalist have two reasons to celebrate today)! According to the Earthday.org website….this year’s campaign is all about environmental & climate literacy. Stand up! Join up! Take action!
In this context, I guess the term literacy mean more than just how to spell “global warming.” It must refer to a clear understanding of today’s environmental and climate issues. If this is the case…Earth Day has basically been an exercise in “illiteracy” since its inception! To prove this point…let’s look back at some of the false predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970 and the media hype surrounding it (“Taken from Reason.com May 1, 2000 Earth Day: Then and Now)
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
“In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” — Life magazine
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
“[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” — Newsweek magazine
As absurd as these false predictions appear now…there was legitimate concern regarding air and water pollution in the 1970’s. I’m sure many if not most of the people who showed up for the first Earth Day had genuine concern for the environment and their efforts did play a role in establishing regulations that helped clean the air and water in the late 70’s and 80’s. But as the environmental movement grew in the 90’s and 2000’s….Earth Day became more about political advocacy, power and money.
Speaking of money…no discussion of false climate change predictions would be complete without an examination of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. Released in January 2006, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” cost $1 Million to produce and raked in $50 Million at the box office. Here is a list of the false predictions in Al Gore’s famed fable:
Rising sea levels (wrong). Increased tornadoes (wrong). New ice age in Europe (wrong). Melting Arctic ice – (wrong – it’s expanding). Polar Bear extinction (wrong – they’re increasing). Temperature increase due to raising CO2 levels (wrong – no significant raising in over 18 years). An increase in hurricane strength AKA Katrina (wrong – no F3 hurricanes in past 10 years). Earth will be in a true planetary emergency within 10 years (Wrong – never happened!).
And what did Al Gore receive for this collection of falsehoods? In addition to the $50 million in box office receipts, he won an Academy Award and a Noble Peace Prize!
Al Gore left the White House with $2 Million in assets and is now valued at over $100 million. He makes over $175,000 for speaking fees and sits on a number of executive boards. He has two large residences in Nashville and California and commutes between the two on private jets. He’s on his way to becoming what one congressional leader called “a carbon billionaire”. And if you need more false predictions…the sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” will be released by Paramount in July, 2017.
In coordination with Earth Day….organizers also arranged marches in major cities across the globe. The “March for Science” called for scientist and researchers to come out and march with Earth Day protesters to combat budget cuts in the areas of Health & Human Services, the EPA and NIH. Having felt quite cozy during the Obama years (Obama ranked climate change as the top threat to the security of the United States despite more immediate threats from terrorism, Iran and North Korea), the scientific community feels under siege from Trump policies and campaign rhetoric. Never mind the American public has listed climate change at the bottom of their concerns in poll after poll. Perhaps they remember those false predictions from the very first Earth Day in 1970?
The one prediction which few people remember but has actually come true dates way back to 1960. In his farewell address to the American public, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American public of scientific research falling into the hands of the scientific-technological elite. The speech, widely remembered for warning America of the military-industrial complex, also included this warning:
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. … we must … be alert to the … danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.”
A prime example of how public policy can stifle scientific discussion occurred in the 1970s when Congressional hearings were held on the nutritional diet of the American public. The nation had experienced a sharp uptick of deaths related to heart disease since 1950 and Senator George McGovern headed up a committee to find a culprit. McGovern turned to ONE research study conducted by a charismatic Minnesota Physiologist named Ansel Keys. Keys had studied the diets of 13,000 middle age men in Japan, Europe and the United States (Seven Country Study) and concluded that a diet high in saturated fats caused heart disease. His study persuaded the American Heart Association to issue the country’s first-ever guidelines targeting saturated fat—and he wasn’t shy about shouting down any researcher who questioned his data.
There was plenty of push back on Ansel Key’s study from other researchers and scientist and most certainly food companies. However, the political desire to find a culprit to the growing deaths from heart disease won out in the long run. Those researchers who continued to question Keys research found their government grant money dry up. Time Magazine ran a front page picture of Dr. Ansel Keys and endorsed his finding to the American Public. Other critics, like Dr. Robert Atkins of the famed Adkins Diet, faced ongoing professional and public ridicule. As a result, food companies and opposing researcher gave up the fight and Dr. Keys’ research became medical dogma for over 40 years.
Until March 2014 when Oxford University released the results of their extensive research which examined the results of 72 different studies on saturated fats and heart disease, heart attacks and angina. They found NO link between saturated fat and heart disease. Furthermore, Ansel Keys study was found to be flawed. Keys omitted countries where people eat a lot of fat but have little heart disease, such as Holland and Norway. He also omitted countries where fat consumption is low but the rate of heart disease is high, such as Chile. A practice called “Cherry Picking”. As a result, Time Magazine ran a new cover edition telling Americans they could eat more butter and admitting they were wrong about saturated fats.
The toll on the country was far greater than the humiliation of Time Magazine however. What resulted over the 40 years following the McGovern Report was a sharp rise in obesity and an epidemic in diabetes. Furthermore…..heart disease still remains a leading cause of death in the United States. If you believe the state of government research has improved since the release of the McGovern Report…you’d be mistaken. The Center for Accountability in Science states that nearly every aspect of the federal grant making process is full of political maneuvering and potential bias. They also state much of the research released by governmental research organizations goes through little peer review and the media who reports on it are overly trusting of the findings.
So the next time you hear a politician tell you that climate change science is “settled” remember the multitude of false predictions from the so-called scientific experts. Remember the “Climate-gate” scandal that had climate researchers scrambling to cover up their own words. Remember the costs that Americans are still paying for the fraudulent science of Ansel Keys. Remember the false prophesies of Al Gore and the millions of dollars he’s banked at your expense. But what ever you do….don’t forget who is ultimately responsible for the corruption of scientific research……the scientific technological elite better known as your elected representatives and the corrupt bureaucracy of the Federal government.
This is John Galt Speaking!