“Trashing the Planet”

We stole that headline from Dr. Dixie Lee Ray, the former governor of the State of Washington, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and one “who has the credentials, professional scientific experience and courage to stand up to the rogues, fools, charlatans and conspirators who pass themselves off as the Voice of science in all matters concerning human interaction with the rest of creation”.

And we stole that last quote from William F. Jasper’s report on Dr. Ray’s remarkable book, “Trashing the Planet”, so we might as well steal excerpts from the rest of his work. It might convince a few people to look into what that brilliant woman had to say “with cold facts, hard logic, and sharp wit” about those who’ve been picking our pockets.

“If you’ve earnestly longed for a single volume that takes on the eco-disaster fright peddlers and their apocalyptic visions of global warming, ozone depletion, ozone holes, deforestation, acid rain, alar, asbestos, dioxin, PCBs, CFCs, pesticides, nuclear waste, etc., ad nauseam, ‘Trashing the Planet’ is it” is how Mr. Jasper begins.

“Page after page, Professor Ray explodes one myth after another. Pesticides are killing the planet and giving us all cancer, right? We’ve heard it a million times since Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ alerted us to the toxic peril decades ago. But repetition of falsehood does not a truth make. The truth is, as Dr Ray explains, that the ‘amount of pesticides we eat every day is at least 10,000 times the level of pesticide residue from agricultural use of synthetics.’ As it turns out, ‘99.99 percent of the carcinogenic materials ingested daily are either natural or produced by drinking alcohol, cooking or smoking.’

“Moreover, naturally occurring substances like ‘nitrite, nitrate and nitrosamines can be avoided only by eliminating most vegetables, especially beets, celery, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, mustard kale, turnips cabbage ….’ Yet if these foods were subjected to tests similar to those applied to synthetic chemicals, they would all be banned. Which isn’t to argue that pesticides haven’t been overused or abused in many instances; but it does put the matter in perspective.

“Dioxin, of course, is one of the favorite scare substances of the moment. Dr. Ray cites an incident in her ‘backyard’ of Tacoma, Washington where the EPA caught near a mill nine flounder with minute amounts of dioxin. ‘On the basis of a trivial 1.5 parts per trillion – not per flounder but in the total of nine flounder mashed up together, guts and all – the EPA proposed a national program to examine the aqueous environment around every pulp mill in the country.’

“That is not science, but politically driven pseudoscience and economic madness. Minute traces of dioxin have caused many waste disposal sites to be marked for cleanup under the ‘Superfund.’ Estimates for the total cleanup of all sites on the Superfund National Priorities List range from one to ten trillion dollars!

“Everywhere we turn we are besieged by what Dr. Ray calls ‘factoids – false, exaggerated or misleading information that is made believable by constant repetition, such as PCBs cause cancer … .’ These factoids are manufactured by the alarmists, then parroted and amplified by the ‘liberal’ media.

“But Dr. Ray faults her fellow scientists, as well, for abdicating responsibility. She berates her colleagues in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Nuclear Society for their timidity and negligence in refuting the charlatans. ‘Until respected scientists, preferably through their professional societies … identify the purveyors of misrepresentation,’ Dr. Ray says, ‘they have only themselves to blame for fear, misunderstanding, the persistence of factoids, and the rejection of technology.’

“Are you petrified at the thought that our smokestacks and tailpipes might bring on global warming? Don’t be. ‘The largest source of greenhouse gas,’ says Dr. Ray, ‘may well be termites, whose digestive activities are responsible for about 50 billion tons of CO2 and methane annually. This is 10 times more than the present world production of CO2 from burning fossil fuel.’

“Still, NASA scientist James Hansen continues to warn of the impending Big Thaw. Incredibly, his computer model for global warming does not take sea temperatures into account. ‘Yet,’ says Dr. Ray, ‘the oceans cover 73 percent of the earth’s surface. When people, including scientists, talk ‘global,’ it is hard to believe that they can ignore 73 percent of the globe, but obviously they sometimes do.’

“They also ignore the massive ‘pollution’ by ‘Mother Nature’ herself, next to which man’s contaminants are often puny. The available data, notes Dr. Ray, ‘suggest that all of the air pollution materials produced by man since the beginning of the industrial revolution do not begin to equal the quantities of toxic materials, aerosols, and particulates spewed into the air from just three volcanoes: Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883, Mount Katmai in Alaska in 1912, and Hekla in Iceland in 1947.’ Then there was El Chicon in Mexico in 1982. That violent eruption sent more than 100 million tons of sulfur gases into the stratosphere, enough to produce ‘acid rain’ for years to come.

“Our planet appears to be now in a period of heightened volcano activity, with about 100 eruptions a year. But the eco-alarmists continue to bankrupt our nation to clean up man-made ‘acid rain’ flyspecks while ignoring nature’s manure pile.

“Likewise, it is ludicrous to focus on man-made CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) as dire threats to the ozone layer when nature dwarfs these anthropogenic sources with its own chlorine contributions. Mt. St. Augustine in Alaska spewed 289 billion kilograms of hydrochloric acid into the stratosphere in 1976, about 570 times man’s total world production of chlorine and fluorocarbon compounds during the peak CFC production year of 1975. Three hundred million tons of chlorine reach the earth’s atmosphere each year through evaporation of sea water alone.

“Dr. Ray’s chapters on nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and nuclear waste are alone worth the price of the book. ‘If those who call for penalizing coal-burning utilities were really sincere,’ she observes, ‘they would be campaigning vigorously for conversion to nuclear power.

“Nuclear power plants emit no sulfur, no nitrogen, no CO2, no organic compounds, and only a tiny amount of radioactivity, less than 0.1 percent of the natural level.’ Nevertheless, nuclear power has remained the chief bugaboo of the environmental technophobes.

“Immediately following the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the Soviet Union, for instance, the Western press and broadcast media were replete with hand-wringing stories about the dangers from radioactive fallout in the clouds, announcing the radiation levels in picocuries (parts per trillion). What the stories didn’t explain, says Dr. Ray, is that the minute concentrations warned of were ‘analogous to one drop of vermouth in 5,000 carloads of gin.’ Completely inconsequential. By far more harmful was the stress and fright caused by the alarmists.

“The 112 nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. have amassed more than 1,200 reactor years of operation and produce 20 percent of our nation’s electricity. Harnessing the power of the atom has saved us $ 100 billion in foreign oil payments since 1973.

“Electricity is the lifeblood of modern, technological society and no industrialized nation can maintain productivity and competitiveness without cost-efficient access to electrical power. For most of the industrialized world, nuclear power is the technology of choice for electrical generation. France generates 70 percent of its electricity through nuclear power. Belgium over 65 percent, Sweden and South Korea 47 percent, Taiwan 41 percent Spain 36 percent, West Germany 34 percent, and Japan 28 percent.

“While other nations push forward with new nuclear power plants, the United States, which pioneered the technology, finds itself so strapped with environmental regulations and lawsuits by militant anti-nukes that no new plants are even being considered. That means scarcer and costlier electricity for America, which translates into declining competitiveness, fewer jobs, and flight of industries to friendlier markets.

“Ironically, it also means declining environmental conditions, as oil, gas, and coal are substituted for nuclear power. If the anti-nuke campaign had succeeded completely in shutting down nuclear power worldwide in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, the ecological impact on our planet (relatively speaking) would have been substantial. If coal had been used to replace nuclear power, says Dr. Ray, ‘an additional three billion tons of carbon dioxide, 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide, and five million tons of nitrous oxide would have been discharged into the atmosphere.’

“In the final chapter, ‘Environmentalism and the Future,’ Dr. Ray shows that she realizes the leadership of the environmental movement has far more radical goals in mind than most of the followers suppose … In stark contrast to these anti-human, anti-God, collectivist earth-worshipers, Dixie Lee Ray believes that ‘humans cannot live on earth without altering it and without using natural resources. Our responsibility is to be good stewards of the environment and to remember that a well-tended garden is better than a neglected wood lot. It is demeaning beyond belief to consider mankind simply another species of animal, no better and no worse than wild beasts.’

“Trashing the Planet is an excellent and timely book that can do much to dispel the ignorance and darkness about us on all sides. It deserves the widest possible readership.” – William F. Jasper