Friday, February 04, 2005

Wrong on the environment

Volokh Conspiracy continues its trend of being reasonable on many things, and wrong about the environment. It reposts the following movie review:

Near the end of The Day After Tomorrow (the day after, I guess), the Vice President, clearly based on Dick Cheney, goes on TV and apologizes for not listening to climatologist Dennis Quaid's warnings. (The well-meaning but stupid President died in a blizzard). Slate Magazine had a contest to write how the real Dick Cheney would have apologized. I didn't enter, but I think the speech would have gone like this:

In the 1960s, there were many significant spokespeople for the environmental movement who claimed the game was already lost and by the mid-70s, we'd have mass starvation in the United States. After being proved comically wrong, they kept predicting apocalypse in very short order, and yet, though disproved time after time, never gave up making terrible predictions, and never apologized for being so frighteningly wrong. By 2004, after more than four decades of being absurdly mistaken, and with the average human on earth better fed, clothed and housed than ever before, you can understand my skepticism when one lone expert predicted outrageous scenarios of disaster, one following upon another, in a matter of weeks. I was not willing at the time to jeopardize the world economy to avoid what sounded like the plot of one of those empty, big-budget hollywood summer movies, full of spectacle at the expense of character. It now turns out after forty years of experts being wrong and not apologizing, one of the experts finally got it right--for not recognizing this, I apologize.

Enviros made some wrong predictions in the 60's and 70's of future scarcity for commodities whose primary value is commercial and are traded in free markets. Only some enviros, I would add - standard for the anti-environmentalists is to take one incorrect assertion by one environmentalist and attribute it to all enviros. The many other predictions were either correct or were stopped through governmental regulation - clean air, clean water, pesticide control, chemical regulation, endangered species protection, and most relevant to the above post, stopping thinning ozone. I'd say we enviros mostly failed to stop sprawl - not many people are rejoicing about that. As to who's been right more often since the 60's - environmentalists or Dick "Let's Buy An Asbestos Company" Cheney, I'd go with the enviros.

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