The Week That Was
April 22, 2000 NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:

The Daily Oklahoman's editorial "More Hot Air." A message of common sense from the heartland, to balance all the garbage you will be reading in your newspaper on Earth Day, April 22.

Also, an op-ed from the Washington Times, in a skeptical celebration of Earth Day #30 and of 30 years of EPA.

The Week That Was April 22, 2000 brought to you by SEPP


And time to celebrate the re-issue of Al Gore's opus magnum, his confession of faith "Earth in the Balance." You'll enjoy his brand-new Foreword, specially composed for this Earth Day premiere. Edwin Chen writes in the LA Times (4/13/00):

"Far from softening his controversial views on the environment, Gore warned that, unless the trend is halted, sea levels could rise high enough to cause "a catastrophic mutation in our physical and human geography."

In a postscript, Gore jauntily reaffirms perhaps the most controversial point in his book: that "completely eliminating" the internal combustion engine during his lifetime is not only possible but "needs to be done."

Failure to curb global warming will bring cataclysmic consequences, he warns. "We will face more frequent drought, the loss of crops and native species and the inundation of major areas of U.S. coastal cities such as Miami, New York, and Los Angeles and of cities on every continent and in every low-lying coastal country. We are living at the leading edge of vast climate changes unprecedented in human history."

For their part, Republicans are looking forward to promoting Gore's book Only the other day, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), one of the Senate's most conservative and pugnacious members, touted "Earth in the Balance" as a must-read. Scott Reed, who managed former GOP Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 White House bid, said of Gore's environmental record, "This is an issue Republicans plan to wrap around his neck."

Some of Gore's acolytes go much further: A contemporary college textbook talks of "the potential for catastrophic change in the global climate," accompanied by "rising sea levels," "inundation of ... low-lying areas ... desertification of ... grain-producing areas ... mass hunger ... and rapid loss of biodiversity." The author, Steven C. Hackett, says the causes are "population growth and increases in ... consumption," "disproportionate consumption ... by the rich," capitalism, private property, and trade. And until all of these evils are transformed and controlled by true believers in the intrinsic rightness of the biospheric vision in the spirit of deep ecology, the planet will continue to be in peril.

A leading spokesman for the environmental movement and "sustainable economics," eco-economist Herman Daly, has called for a conversion of "half or more" of the land area of the United States to unsettled wilderness inhabited by wild animals; a giant forced reduction in trade, and a change to self-sufficiency at not only the national level but at local levels also; complete population control with births limited by government licensing to levels consistent with a stationary or, better yet, declining population; and the abolition of private land ownership.

When last heard of, Daly had been working for the World Bank. We wonder if he was now among the protest marchers…


The Federal Appeals Court for the DC Circuit threw out EPA's case last month (see TWTW of March 11, 2000). A Wall Street Journal lead editorial "Weird Science" told the story: ".. the EPA set out to put limits on a certain chemical in ground water, asked a scientific panel to establish a safe limit , took the panel's recommendation and threw it away, then set the limit to zero. The three-judge panel laughed this out of court….EPA argued that a zero tolerance level was merely a 'prudential step.' The court said that this 'novel, even politically charged outcome' didn't relieve EPA of its duty to obey the law."

The agency then tried to defend itself with the why-take-chances argument, sometimes known as the "precautionary principle." The court replied: "EPA cannot reject the 'best available' evidence simply because of the possibility of contradiction in the future by evidence unavailable at the time of action -- a possibility that will always be present." This opinion of the Appeals Court may have more wide-ranging consequences since it really tackles the precautionary principle head-on.

The Court's decision (Case 98-1627, March 31, 2000) is a wonderful Earth Day present. For a perspective on what was accomplished in the 30 years since Earth Day #1 read Earth Day #30


As you probably know by now, the great protest fizzled, in spite of all the efforts of the Ruckus Society. Now the costs are being totaled: $5 million for the DC police and many millions more of lost business downtown, plus the disruption of the federal government with workers on forced leave. Our suggestion: Let the organizers of Ruckus pay for it!

For a more humorous slant on the great protest and the Ruckus organizers read this excerpt from the "Washington Pest," courtesy of David Wojick:

Standing on top were two top Turtle Suits, Friends of the Earth executive director Brent Blackbiter and Odorous Action executive director John Papacantango. They were introducing a Campaign Platform demanding that the World Bank phase out its financing of oil, gas and mining projects, which the groups say lead to environmental destruction and human rights gases.

"The World Bank's oil, gas and mining projects have left a trail, nay a paved road, of environmental devastation, increased poverty and severe social disruption in their wake in poor countries," said Blackbiter of Friends of the Earth. "The record shows these projects do little or nothing to foster poverty alleviation, except create jobs, and instead mainly benefit multinational corporations."

"Flooding and heat waves linked to global warming, a process linked to the burning of fossil fuels, which is linked to having heat, light and rock and roll, which is linked to unsafe sex, which is linked to more people that we don't need, are already overwhelming developing nations," Odorous Action's Papacantango said. "The World Bank likes to talk about its new concern for stopping catastrophic global climate change. Yet it is still spending 25 times more on the very fossil-fuel projects that cause global warming than on clean, useless, gold-plated renewable energy projects."

For more, read
If you missed the NOVA/Frontline program on Global Warming, shown on PBS on April 18, you can find the full interview with Fred Singer on

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