Environmental Movement Has Lost Its Way
By Dr. Patrick Moore, PhD
I am often asked why I broke ranks with Greenpeace after fifteen years as a founder and full-time environmental activist. While I had my personal reasons—spending more time with a growing family rather than living out of a suitcase most of the year—it was on issues of policy that I found it necessary to move on.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, the environmental movement made a sharp turn to the political left and began adopting extreme agendas that abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism. I became aware of the emerging concept of sustainable development—the idea that environmental, social, and economic priorities could be balanced. I became a convert to the idea that win-win solutions could be found by bringing all interests together around the same table. I made the move from confrontation to consensus.
Since then, I have worked under the banner of Greenspirit to develop an environmental policy platform based on science, logic, and the recognition that more than six billion people need to survive and prosper, every day of the year. The environmental movement has lost its way, favoring political correctness over factual accuracy, stooping to scare tactics to garner support. Many campaigns now waged in the name of the environment would result in increased harm to both the environment and human welfare if they were to succeed.
So we’re faced with environmental policies that ignore science and result in increased risk to human health and ecology. To borrow from the vernacular, how sick is that?
Activists persist in their zero-tolerance campaign against genetically enhanced food, yet there is no evidence of harm to human health or the environment. Genetically enhanced (GE) crops reduce chemical pesticides, boost yield, and reduce soil erosion. Enriched with Vitamin A, Golden Rice could prevent blindness in 500,000 children every year in Asia and Africa if activists would stop blocking its introduction.
The campaign against salmon farming, based on erroneous claims of environmental damage, scares us into avoiding one of the most nutritious, heart-friendly foods available. Salmon farming takes pressure off wild stocks, yet activists tell us to eat only wild fish. Is this how we save them, by eating more?
Activists continue to lobby against nuclear energy, the only non-greenhouse gas-emitting power source that can replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand. Renewable energies such as wind, geothermal and hydro are only part of the solution.
So-called environmentalists want to ban the use of chlorine in all industrial processes. Yet the addition of chlorine to drinking water has been the greatest public health advance in history, and 75% of our medicines are based on chlorine chemistry. Activists call for a ban on polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), claiming it is the “poison plastic”. There is not a shred of evidence that vinyl damages human health or the environment. Apart from lowering construction costs and delivering safe drinking water, vinyl’s ease of maintenance and its ability to incorporate anti-microbial properties is critical to fighting germs in hospitals.
International activists boast they have blocked more than 200 hydroelectric dams in the developing world and are campaigning to tear down existing dams. Hydro is the largest source of renewable electricity, providing about 12% of global supply. Do activists prefer coal plants? Would they rather ignore the needs of billions of people?
Activists argue wind turbines kill birds and ruin landscapes. A million times more birds are killed by cats, windows and cars than by all the windmills in the world. Wind turbines are works of art compared to some of our urban environments.
Trees are the most abundant, renewable and biodegradable resource in the world, yet activists tell us to reduce our use of wood. Forests are stable and growing where we use the most wood, and diminishing where we use less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to plant more trees and produce more wood. There is about the same forest area in North America as there was 100 years ago.
Activists’ zero-tolerance, fear-mongering campaigns would ultimately prevent a cure for Vitamin A deficiency blindness, deplete wild salmon stocks, decrease the safety of health care, deprive developing nations of clean electricity, stop renewable wind energy, block a solution to global warming, and contribute to deforestation. How sick is that?
Co-founder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore is Chairman and Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in Vancouver, Canada. http://www.greenspiritstrategies.com/.