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It's a Wonderful Life . . . Environmentally Speaking

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
April 22, 2008

I was despondent to the point where I was thinking about ending it all because of the continuing terrible news about the environment and global warming. As I stood there on the bridge like James Stewart's character, George Bailey, in the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life," an elderly gentleman came up to me. He introduced himself as Clarence and said he knew how I was feeling and that he'd be willing to show me how things would have been without the environmentalist movement.
He pulled out a copy of the day's New York Times, but it wasn't the Times I'd read earlier that morning. It was the Times as if the environmentalist movement hadn't happened. The headline read "Fighting in Baghdad Continues."

"So what's new?" I asked. Then I read on. The fighting was between Iraqi and Iranian troops. The smoldering conflict between those two countries had been rekindled in the late 1990s, but neither had enough military power to overwhelm the other, so they were permanently occupied what amounted to a long, drawn-out internecine conflict.

"Where are our troops?" I asked. Clarence explained that without the environmentalist movement, the United States had engaged in responsibly exploiting the oil reserves in Anwar and the Bakken Field in North Dakota and Montana, as well as tapping oil fields off of the Florida coast. Since the United States had developed the cleanest, least environmentally damaging drilling technologies in the world, we'd avoided the terrible environmental destruction that would have occurred had Russia and Venezuela done extensive exploitation of their oil fields, since both of those countries were irresponsible at best and criminally negligent at worst in their drilling practices.

Clarence added that six new nuclear power plants had come online in the past decade in the United States, and the technology they used was so advanced and so safe that we were gradually able to retire outdated power plants and yet still increase our electricity production capacity. Not having the environmentalists around to hold up important drilling and nuclear energy projects had made us virtually energy independent, and so our troops were deployed strategically to make sure that local conflicts between Muslim countries, which were the only remaining warlike societies on the planet, were contained and didn't spill over to neighboring countries.

His conclusion: Not having the environmentalists around to impede the responsible progress of energy resource development had saved, by his estimate, more than 250,000 lives over the past decade, much of it because we were no longer dependent on Middle Eastern Oil. And with oil at $50.00 a barrel and gasoline at $1.79 a gallon, we were certainly saving our citizens money.
"That's amazing," I said. "What else has happened as a result of environmentalists not being around?"

"Well," he went on, "130,000 people in the northwest United States who work in the logging industry and who would have lost their jobs due to the Spotted Owl legislation still have those jobs."

"But what about the Spotted Owl?" I asked, fearing the worst.

Clarence explained that it was never the logging industry that threatened the Spotted Owl in the first place; it was another more aggressive species of owl, the Barred Owl, that was causing the demise of the Spotted Owl. The Spotted Owl has continued to lose population, but that would have happened anyway, as we found out in the ten years following passage of the original legislation. It was well-known among responsible scientists that logging was not the real reason the Spotted Owl population was declining, but New York Senator Chuck Schumer had bowed to pressure from the environmentalists and squelched the research that would have saved those 130,000 jobs and which would have found other ways to try to preserve the Spotted Owl that would not have caused such hardship to so many American citizens.

"OK," I said, determined to seek vindication, "let's get to the big one: Global Warming."

"Global warming?" he asked, clearly not understanding my reference.

"Yes, global warming. You know, Al Gore's pet project, the one he won the Nobel Prize for?"

"Al Gore? Nobel Prize? Not sure I understand."

"Do you mean to tell me that without the environmentalists Al Gore didn't mount his global warming initiative to stop carbon emissions that are causing our planet to heat up uncontrollably?" I asked, by now somewhat frustrated.

"Oh, you mean the guy that lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush," he said, finally getting it. He went on to explain that, without the environmentalists pushing their global warming agenda, responsible climate scientists had come together to examine the verifiable data about climate fluctuations and had determined that the primary driver of climate variation was change in sunspot activity. They tracked the evidence of climate change for the past century and determined that it correlated almost exactly with changes in sunspot activity and not to increases in carbon dioxide emissions. They're currently noting that the global temperature hasn't risen noticeably in the past decade, but that it's actually gone down .7 degrees in just the last year, due to the fact that sunspot activity is at a cyclical 11-year low.

Clarence went on to note that the incidence of forest fires had dropped 70 percent over the past several decades after President Reagan instituted responsible forest management practices modeled after those native Americans had practiced for centuries before we came to this country. That saved our country hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage, not to mention the loss of human and animal life, the damage to human health, and the loss of productivity that the toxins and particulate matter spewed into the atmosphere by forest fires cause.
"That would have been impossible with the environmentalists still in the picture," he said. "For some reason they got the silly and often disastrous notion that thinning underbrush and dead wood was detrimental to forests and that we should let forest fires take their course. Totally unenlightened, of course, but fortunately that's been avoided, thanks to Reagan's sound forest management policy." And just for good measure he added that since we've re-introduced DDT into Africa - another thing that environmentalists had been trying to prevent - malaria has been virtually wiped out on that continent.

"But how is this supposed to make me feel better?" I asked. "In 'It's a Wonderful Life,' the world was much better because of George Bailey's being there. You're telling me the world is much worse now than it would have been without the environmental movement."

"Well, at least you've identified the enemy," he said, trying to lift my spirits. "You can't jump off this bridge because there's still an important battle to be fought. We've got to bring sanity and reason and science back into the debate, despite the fact that that's the last thing Al Gore and the environmentalists want. Introducing science into the climate change discussion is to the environmentalists like holding up the Christian cross is to a vampire. Environmentalists shrink from the truth; they don't have any answers when the facts are brought out into the open. So you've got to keep fighting to make sure ignorance doesn't continue to be the guiding principle in our global climate and environmental policy . . . oh, and to prevent several hundred thousand more deaths due to environmental irresponsibility."


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