If there’s not a crisis — invent one. This seems to be the
philosophy of the Worldwatch Institute, whose latest “doomsday” forecast
calls for an end to the use of coal. According to Seth Dunn, author of
the article that drew significant press attention, a half-million
premature deaths occur each year because of coal. Now really!

What gives Seth such incredible wisdom? How can Seth know the cause
of death of a half-million people he has never met?

Before assuming his present position, Seth worked for the Climate
Action Network, that robust group of environmental organizations that
overrun every United Nations meeting on climate change. Seth learned the
tricks of the trade from his time with the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC), which gained notoriety by convincing CBS to air a
program labeling Alar (a preservative sprayed on apples) as a
cancer-causing chemical.

After the apple industry suffered devastating losses, Dr. Dixy Lee
Ray, former Governor of Washington, and member of the zoology faculty of
the University of Washington, said, “Extensive studies carried out with
scrupulous attention to scientific protocol have failed to find any
credible evidence that Alar causes cancer.”

She reported further that for the chemical to have the effect claimed
by the NRDC, an adult would have to eat 28,000 pounds of apples each day
for 70 years. And if the dose were reduced to the equivalent of 14,000
pounds of apples per day, no tumors appeared at all.

When scary claims are made before the scientific evidence is
validated, people tend to accept public policies that are unnecessary
and expensive.

The scary “doomsday” scenario is the chief tactical weapon of the
environmental propaganda machinery that drives the global environmental
agenda. If they are successful in scaring people into believing coal is
a killer, it will hasten the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which
will give the United Nations the authority to control the energy supply
to 38 developed nations, including the United States.

If the use of coal were outlawed, as is suggested, electricity prices
would skyrocket — just for starters. Natural gas prices would be forced
upward by the increased demand for fuel. Coal now provides nearly half
of all the electricity used in America. Were all that fuel requirement
transferred to natural gas, the world’s supply of natural gas would
dwindle rapidly. Best estimates reveal a supply of coal reserves that
will last at least 200 years. Some estimates extend this time to a
thousand years. Coal is the least expensive fossil fuel. The problems
that existed in the early 1900s, from ash and particulates have been
largely eliminated by improved technology. No doubt, technology will
improve even further, if allowed to do so in a free market.

Seth says that making smokestacks higher, part of the technology that
reduces ash, results in acid rain — another doomsday scare tactic. A
$500-million government study found that acid rain is essentially a
natural phenomenon, with fairly minimum consequences. The acid lakes in
New England, erroneously thought to have been caused by industrial
smokestacks, can be easily restored with an inexpensive treatment of

The doomsday tactic is deliberately used by environmental radicals.
Dr. Stephen Schneider, a leading proponent of the United Nations’ Kyoto
Protocol, told Discover magazine, “We have to offer up scary scenarios,
make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any
doubts we may have. Each of us (scientists) has to decide what the right
balance is between being effective and being honest.”

The choice between “effective” and “honest” is hardly a consideration
for the Green Advocacy Groups (GAGs) that continue to spout doomsday
scare headlines. A very thorough analysis of this “Doomsday
has been completed by Dr. Jacqueline Kasun, Professor Emeritus from
Humboldt University. It’s high time that we recognize that the Chicken
Little, sky-is-falling, doomsday routine is no basis for making public

The argument that coal should be outlawed is as flawed as the Alar
scare. Before policy-makers jump in response to the scaremongers, a
long, careful look at the science is in order. Next, a long careful look
at the economic impact is in order. And finally, a long careful look at
the credibility of the doomsayers will keep low-cost coal powering our
electricity generators for a few hundred more years.

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