Chicken Little’s “the sky is falling” story taught a generation of children not to make up stories that are untrue. Unfortunately, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and many other environmental organizations failed to learn the lesson.
Why anyone would pay attention to what these organizations say – or contribute money to support their disinformation campaigns – is beyond comprehension.
The NRDC orchestrated, with the help of a high-priced public relations firm, the near-destruction of the U.S. apple industry by producing a “report” used by CBS’ “60 Minutes” to declare that alar (a chemical preservative used on apples) was a powerful carcinogen that caused cancer in lab animals. Schools dumped apples, grocery stores took apples and apple sauce off their shelves, and in a matter of days, the apple industry was devastated.
Dr. Dixy Lee Ray, a biologist from the University of Washington, former governor of Washington and former head of the Atomic Energy Commission, later reported that in order for a human to be exposed to alar in doses comparable to the lab animals used in the NRDC study, a person would have to eat 28,000 pounds of apples each day for 70 years. She also noted that the NRDC report failed to mention that when the dose was reduced for the lab animals to the equivalent of 14,000 pounds of apples per day for humans, the lab animals had no ill effects at all.
In other words, the NRDC knew full well that alar was not harmful to humans in any conceivable dosage. Nevertheless, they arranged for scary, false information to be broadcast to the American people. Should this episode not destroy the credibility of the NRDC?
Greenpeace has perfected the art of disinformation for profit. This organization raised a ton of money using a video of hunters clubbing baby seals, and slogans that promised to stop the brutality if only people would send money to their organization.
Magnus Gudmundsson, a researcher who lives in Iceland, later revealed that Greenpeace had staged the event and actually paid actors to club the seals to produce the desired level of brutality. Gudmundsson produced his own 43-minute video – including interviews with the people who were paid.
Greenpeace produced another film depicting brutality to dolphins, using paid actors to stage events that were presented as actual dolphin harvests. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who has jumped ship, says that these efforts to stop seal and dolphin harvesting never had anything to do with endangered species, as was claimed at the time, but were about promoting the idea that no animals should be used as resources.
More recently, Greenpeace decided to wage war on chlorine. In a special report issued shortly after Clinton was elected, Greenpeace said “… all uses of chlorine must be phased out …,” claiming that it caused all manner of illnesses, from breast cancer to shriveled penises.
Bill Richardson, who became Clinton’s U.N. ambassador and energy secretary, introduced the “Chlorine Zero Discharge Act” (HR2898), in cooperation with EPA Administrator Carol Browner, who proposed to require (and not issue) permits for the discharge of water runoff that contained chlorine. Chlorine is used to purify 98 percent of public water supplies. Fortunately, the bill failed.
The World Wildlife Fund jumped on the bandwagon. Theo Colburn published “Our Stolen Future,” which goes to great lengths to scare readers with what “might” or “could” happen to people who are exposed to chlorine. As usual, the evidence to support the claims was sketchy, incomplete and overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community. Theo Colburn was an employee of the WWF – Al Gore wrote the foreword for the book.
In support of the Greenpeace and WWF claims, Stephen F. Arnold, a researcher at Tulane University, produced a study that said the effects of industrial chlorine use were a thousand times more potent than use of the chemical alone. Carol Browner praised the report: “I just can’t remember a time where I’ve seen data so persuasive … The results are very clean looking,” she said. This report brought about new EPA regulations and screening programs that cost $10 million per year.
The EPA screening programs remain in place, despite the fact that Arnold’s study has been thoroughly discredited.
Neither Greenpeace nor the WWF have slowed their quest to ban the use of chlorine – they have now moved to the United Nations to achieve their objectives. The Bush administration has announced its support of a new U.N. treaty to ban certain chemicals. Chlorine is not among the eight chemicals banned by the treaty, but it is among four others that are identified for special study for future banning.
Chlorine is used, not only for water purification, but also in many industrial processes, including the production of PVC pipe and a wide range of plastics.
Regardless of the endless studies, reports and exaggerated claims of these and other environmental extremist organizations, the sky is not falling. Nevertheless, these folks continue to say and do whatever it takes to impose their belief system on the rest of the world.