Ninety-two percent of respondents to an on-line poll on World Net Daily believes that the so-called Frankenstorm is a sign that God is angry with the United States for its stance on Israel. It is just slightly possible that the people who voted in this poll were not an accurate cross-section of Americans.
But what do you make of the “progressive” web site, Common Dreams, arguing that Frankenstorm is nature’s “revenge” on the presidential campaigns for “ignoring climate change”? Is progressivism as much a religion as fundamentalist Christianity?
As a believer in the separation of church and state, the Antiplanner ordinarily does not comment on someone’s religion. But I make an exception when that religion disguises itself as a political philosophy that is, in fact, just as anti-science as the most extreme fundamentalists.
One of the things I am proud of is helping to bring science to the wilderness movement in the 1970s. When I graduated from forestry school in 1974, the environmental argument for saving public lands from timber cutting was, basically, “big trees are pretty; clearcuts are ugly.” The timber industry, meanwhile, seemed to have all the science on its side: old forests were biological deserts that were rotting away; cutting them was doing mother nature a favor; and besides it earned big bucks for taxpayers.
James Monteith, then head of the Oregon Wilderness Coalition, gathered together a broad range of scientists, including ecologists Glen Juday and Paul Alaback; geologist Fred J. Swanson; the Antiplanner; and several others. Thanks to the hard work of these scientists, in less than a decade all of the scientific arguments supported wilderness preservation. Old-growth forests turned out to be vital habitat for more than 100 species of wildlife, of which the spotted owl was only the most famous. They were also highly productive ecosystems and important components in maintaining water quality and fish habitats. Oh, and by the way, most national forest timber sales lost money for taxpayers. The timber industry arguments for cutting old growth shrunk down to “cutting trees means jobs.”
Monteith’s foresight led to the outcome we have today: millions of acres of public forests in the West have been closed to timber cutting and set aside for old-growth preservation. It wasn’t done exactly the way I would have done it, and there are a lot of scientific questions that remain. But this shows just how valuable science can be on the side of the environment.
Today’s environmentalists have forgotten that lesson, if they ever really learned it. Yes, there is some science behind global warming, though not as much as its adherents claim. There is no science at all behind the “precautionary principle,” which is basically a prescription for digging a hole and burying yourself in it. There is very little science behind “peak oil,” and when the oil industry proves it by finding new reserves the environmental community tries to make peak-oil a self-fulfilling prophecy by preventing the extraction of those new reserves. Oh, and smart growth is anything but, while self-driving cars, not trains, are the twenty-first century technology we should be focusing on.