At first glance, it appeared to be a welcomed relief that Earth Day Network chose something other than climate change for the theme of this year’s Earth Day. But, in choosing “End Plastic Pollution,” the organization is again demanding heavy-handed action on comparatively minor problems with little scientific basis.
For years now, Earth Day has effectively been “Stop Climate Change Day” for many high-profile environmental groups and individuals. For example, in 2017, Earth Day Network (EDN) — the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide — called for “a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet.” In 2015, EDN designated April 18-25 as “Climate Education Week.” Their Earth Day 2013 theme was “The Face of Climate Change,” and in 2010, EDN organized a massive Earth Day rally on the National Mall to demand Congress pass a comprehensive climate bill.
Yet, for the past ten years, reports were regularly published by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) demonstrating that none of this makes any sense. Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science and other NIPCC reports show that debate rages in the scientific community about the causes and consequences of climate change. Experts cannot even agree on whether warming or cooling lies ahead, let alone the degree to which humans affect it.
Yet climate campaigners continue to assert that “the science is settled.” We know with certainty, they claim, that our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will cause a planetary emergency unless we radically change our ways. The consequence of this overconfidence is tragic. According to the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative, of the over $1 billion spent worldwide each day on climate finance, only about 1/20 of it is dedicated solely to adaptation, which includes helping vulnerable people cope with climate change today. Almost all of the rest goes to mitigation, trying to control future climate.
Based on a theory about climate, we are letting people die today to possibly help others in the distant future. Billions, if not trillions of dollars are wasted on climate while access to electricity, safe water, jobs, and disease control is often ignored.
As people come to understand how immature the science of climate change actually is, they will regard today’s funding situation as immoral and the climate change crusade as ridiculous. Environmentalists who have relied on the climate scare to promote their agenda will be discredited. That scenario, not hypothetical future climate states, is what should most concern activists.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons EDN did not focus on man-made climate change for this year’s Earth Day. Instead, it weighed in on the anti-plastic campaign, joining hundreds of other groups opposing so-called plastic pollution, including the United Nation’s World Environment Day, which has themed its upcoming June 5 event “Beat Plastic Pollution.”
While some of EDN’s “End Plastic Pollution” concerns and objectives make sense, most do not.
First, consider their use of the term “Plastic Pollution.” Canadian ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, explains that plastic is not toxic. “Plastic is litter, not pollution,” said Moore. “Many people find it unsightly and the solution to this is to educate people not to discard it into the environment and to organize as is done on highways to have it removed.”
So the term “plastic pollution” is a bit like “carbon pollution,” the misnomer climate activists use when referring to the plant-fertilizing gas CO2.
Let’s drill a bit deeper into some of EDN’s concerns and objectives regarding plastics, and see how Moore and other leading environmental thinkers have responded.
EDN says that plastics are causing the following problems:
1. “Poisoning and injuring marine life”
Moore: “Plastic does not ‘poison’ anything, it is non-toxic. Do they think our credit cards, made with PVC plastic, are ‘toxic’? … The main reason birds and fish eat bits of plastic is to get the food that is growing on them. Birds and fish are both quite capable of passing bones and other fairly large objects through their digestive system.”
Paul Driessen, senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy, said: “Some animals do ingest plastics or get caught in plastic loops and nets. But the notion that marine life (and people) are being poisoned by chemicals in plastics has no scientific basis.”
Of course, plastics can release toxins when burned — but not when they are simply littered into the general environment.
2. “The ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food”
Moore: “This is complete nonsense. If a bit of plastic gets in our food it is passed right through the digestive system.”
Driessen: “This is another version of the ‘chemicals in plastics are killing us’ mantra. Plastic wraps and containers help preserve food and keep bacteria out. Which is worse? Barely detectable trace amounts of chemicals in our bodies, or massive bacterial outbreaks?”
3. “Disrupting human hormones”
Moore: “Fake science. Even BPA [a common chemical in plastics that makes it soft and durable] was exonerated under the Obama EPA.”
John Dale Dunn, MD, JD, a lecturer in Emergency Medicine at the Carl R Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas: “Hormone disruptor scares … are based on junk science. Many extensive studies have shown no toxic or lethal effect of BPA — it is a beneficial chemical and has promoted progress and provided new products that are well received and very helpful…The debunking of hormone disruptor researchers and their claims has been definitive and devastating … Steve Milloy at JunkScience.com also has been prolific in his criticisms of hormone disruptor junk science. Here is an excellent example.”
4. “Causing major life-threatening diseases”
Moore: “Lies. There is zero evidence for this.”
5. “Causing ‘early puberty’”
Moore: “More lies. No evidence, it’s a scare tactic.”
Driessen: “There are a lot of theories about this earlier onset of puberty, in various societies, none of them yet proven. What evidence do these fearmongers have that plastics are involved? And how dire a threat is this?”
6. “Threatening our planet’s survival”
Driessen: “Right. Everything threatens our planet’s survival these days. Earth has survived huge meteor strikes, massive ice ages, Devonian and other mass extinctions, and other planetary calamities. Now plastics have usurped dangerous man-made climate change’s role as the threat to planetary survival?”
The late comedian George Carlin poked fun at the plastics scare in this YouTube video viewed 2.6 million times.
EDN says it has the following objectives:
1. “A global effort to eliminate primarily single-use plastics”
Moore: “Even plastic grocery bags can be used a number of times … All plastic can either be recycled or sent to a sanitary landfill or waste-to energy plant.”
Steve Goreham,executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America, and author of Outside the Green Box — Rethinking Sustainable Development: “Single use plastics are a boon for humanity. Packaging food in plastics instead of animal skins, wood, metal, glass, and paper brings major sanitation, convenience, and health benefits, as well as lower cost. The solution is biodegradable plastics for single-use products — not elimination of plastic.”
Driessen: “They always need a new cause, a new fund-raising issue, a new reason for being.”
“Certainly, plastic trash can be a problem in many settings, but the places where they are the biggest issue are the ones least amenable to any ‘global effort.’ Ending single-use plastics will not happen anytime soon, because the substitutes don’t exist, nor do any affordable, practical, international recycling systems, especially those that can be implemented in countries that don’t even have electricity or safe water for most people.”
As reported in a Daily Mail article titled “Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger,” published on October 11, 2017: According to new research, “up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world’s oceans pours in from just ten rivers … eight of which are in Asia … because of the mismanagement of waste.”
2. “Promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials”
Moore: “Fossil fuels are 100% organic, as in the scientific definition of organic chemistry which is the chemistry of carbon. Fossil fuels were produced with 100% renewable energy from the Sun with photosynthesis. When eventually burned or decomposed they produce the two most important foods for life on Earth: CO2 and H2O.”
Driessen: “It is absurd to suggest that non-oil and gas sources would make plastics better — or that it could be done without turning the entire planet into a massive biofuel farm to provide energy and plastics.
“Just replacing U.S. gasoline with corn ethanol would require corn grown on acreage equivalent to the entire state of Texas. Can you imagine the land, water, fertilizer, pesticide, and energy requirements to replace the world’s gasoline and diesel with biofuels? And then to replace plastics feed stocks with biofuel alternatives? The impacts on water supplies, croplands, and wildlife habitat lands would be devastating.”
Alex Pope, retired NASA-JSC engineer: “Fossil fuels and fossil fuel products have made life better for billions of people on this Earth … This better life is due to the energy from fossil fuels and fossil fuel products, especially plastic products … The war against fossil fuels and fossil fuel products, which include plastics, is all the same war. I think they know that they are losing many parts of the war against using fossil fuels for energy, and that they must crank up the war against fossil fuel products.”
3. “Promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics”
Goreham: “‘100% recycling of plastics’ is not an economically sound policy. Either landfilling, incinerating, composting, or recycling of plastics can be best, based on cost and applicability. Today’s landfills are environmentally friendly in modern nations.”
Driessen: “Consider the amount of fuel, infrastructure, money, and people this scale of recycling would require. Sure, it would employ millions who otherwise wouldn’t have jobs — thereby making the ruling elites feel like they are doing something for all these people: giving them menial jobs. But is this really the most important issue our planet faces?”
Howard Hayden, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Physics, University of Connecticut, and publisher and editor of The Energy Advocate: “The only thing that is recycled 100% is doomsday prophecy.”
4. “People should reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle, and remove plastics”
Driessen: “This will work in some places and cultures, just as we have changed our behavior elsewhere. But where people have no food, sanitation, clean water, jobs, electricity, or real hope for the future, do you really think they will worry incessantly about plastics?”
5. “Governments and corporations [should] control and clean up plastic pollution”
Driessen: “Yes, one more corporation-bashing, government control program, with the green elites in charge, raising hell, and feeling good about their moral superiority. Yes, we should do more to address plastics disposal, recycling, and recyclability. But plastics are a minor problem on the international stage.”
Goreham reminds us of the importance of plastic to our society:
“Plastics are a miracle material … We fabricate food containers, boat paddles, shoes, heart valves, pipes, toys, protective helmets, and smart phones from plastic … Low-cost, convenient, and sanitary plastic packaging displaced animal skin, glass, metal, paper, and wood packaging historically used throughout the world.”
Tom Wysmuller, a frequent lecturer on sea level and climate, and chairman of the 2017 Oceanographic Section of the World Congress on Oceans in Qingdao, China:
“The best solution is to encourage EDN members to personally get along without plastics, petrochemicals, etc., and then get into the cave real estate market.”
The first Earth Day was held on April 22 1970, in response to the legitimate concerns of millions of people that reducing air, land, and water pollution needed to be taken more seriously. The movement quickly grew. Today, Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers estimates: “[M]ore than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.”
This should surprise no one. All sensible people are environmentalists. We want to enjoy clean air, land, and water and we like to think that future generations will live in an even better environment. These were the original objectives of Earth Day, and I am happy to have presented at Earth Day events in the early 1990s.
Writing for Fox News, Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier explain:
“In recent years, however, Earth Day has devolved into an occasion for professional environmental activists and alarmists to warn of apocalypse, dish anti-technology dirt, and proselytize. Passion and zeal now trump science, and provability takes a back seat to plausibility.”
All of this demonstrates the wisdom of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rule: Require that the underlying data of all scientific studies used to make federal environment and energy policy be open to public inspection and criticism.
This means actual evidence, full independent peer review, and transparency of data, methodologies, computer codes, and algorithms. No more secrets.
Sterling Burnett, senior fellow, Environment & Energy Policy at The Heartland Institute, sums up the situation well: “This is one small step for regulatory reform, one giant leap for scientific integrity and political transparency.”
Bravo, Administrator Pruitt!