Monday, April 02, 2007

Warm And Fuzzy

This week's copy of (the increasingly unreadable) TIME magazine arrived in the mail on Saturday, hysterically pooping its global warming panties.

The issue kicks off by informing us that, "Our feverish planet badly needs a cure." (Of course, TIME also famously predicted that our "feverish" planet was about to freeze to death a few decades ago.)

They then offer a "Global Warming Survival Guide," listing "51 Things We Can Do" (number 26: "Plant a bamboo fence"). One of the more ridiculous solutions (and that's saying something here) involves (and I kid not) launching trillions of tiny mirrors into space to try to block out some of sunlight that reaches our planet. Proving that this really is one of those 51 things I can personally do to help, TIME adds:
Implementing this plan would be no mean feat: the mirrors would collectively weigh 20 million tons and cost trillions of dollars. And to get all those lenses into orbit, we'd have to launch rockets every five minutes for 10 years.
I'm on it. The guy down Sidewinders Fireworks Mart looked at me a little funny when I bought three million bottle rockets, but hey, this is science, and the Earth hangs in the Balance. Incidentally, I wonder how much carbon, say, ten thousand rocket launches would release? Of course, even TIME blushes as it proposes this nonsense, adding, "That these far-out ideas are getting a serious hearing in mainstream science is a measure of how desperate the battle against climate change is becoming." Either that or it's a measure of how utterly unhinged "mainstream science" has come.

Anyway, since the "just do anything!" juggernaut is in full swing, I thought it would be as good a time as any to link you to an article from Reason magazine from a few years ago. It shows with tragic clarity that doing something isn't necessarily better than doing nothing.

In the late 60's and early '70's, rabid environmentalists pushed for (and got) a worldwide moratorium on the pesticide DDT based on spurious claims that it was cancer-causing and dangerous to bird species. As a result, mosquito-borne malaria, which had been nearly eradicated in every country employing DDT, has killed tens of millions in the Third World since the ban. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria kills as many as 2.7 million people per year. The American Council on Science and Health gives an example of the direct correlation:
In what is now Sri Lanka, malaria cases went from 2,800,000 in 1948, before the introduction of DDT, down to 17 in 1964 — then, tragically, back up to 2,500,000 by 1969, five years after DDT use was discontinued there.
So while it's tempting to chuckle at the environmental movement and their every-decade flights of fancy, make sure to remember as they're giving their advice that this is a movement whose policy initiatives have been directly responsible for more deaths than Hitler.

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