Loading…
Friday, July 11, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Sunday, 7/15/2001

Environment: Schools feed false information

An almost unheard of thing happened June 29: A news special on the environment got higher ratings than Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

That John Stossel's report on “Tampering With Nature” bested the popular quiz show is due less to a sudden outbreak of taste on the part of the viewing public than to the fact that eco-nazis tend also to be morons.

The Environmental Working Group inadvertently hyped the Stossel show by noisily demanding that ABC remove from it a couple of minutes of footage of Mr. Stossel asking elementary school students in California what they were being taught about the environment.

ABC complied, but the victory for the eco-nazis was Pyrrhic. On the footage that ABC withdrew, the children say “Yes” when Mr. Stossel asks whether they thought America is more polluted and the air and water dirtier than they used to be. Mr. Stossel replaced the footage of the California kids with footage of him asking the same questions to public school students in Manhattan. He got the same responses and - thanks to all the fuss - a much larger audience for his entire program than if the Environmental Working Group hadn't weighed in.

This is good, because Mr. Stossel is one of the few reporters in “mainstream” television who thinks that facts matter. His point is that most of what elementary school students are being taught about the environment is untrue.

“Tampering With Nature” is a rare opportunity for people to be exposed to the reality that there is even another side to many important environmental issues,” said the television writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

“There is plenty of evidence that schoolchildren are ... being fed a lot of false information about environmental topics,” the Denver Post said in an editorial.

Mr. Stossel's point has been made more forcefully by a Danish political science professor and former member of Greenpeace. Nearly every grim prediction environmentalists have made about the Earth's future is wrong, said Bjorn Lomborg. “Mankind's lot has improved in terms of practically every measurable indicator,” he writes in The Skeptical Environmentalist, which will be published in the United States by Cambridge University Press. Mr. Lomborg's work is bolstered by statistics from internationally renowned research institutes.

In the United States since 1976, ambient levels of sulfur dioxide are down 65 percent; nitrogen oxides are down 37 percent; ozone is down 27 percent; carbon monoxide, down 67 percent. Forest area has increased by more than 10 million acres since 1987. People can swim in rivers like the Hudson and the Cuyahoga, which wasn't true 30 years ago.

Mr. Lomborg said environmental organizations twist scientific evidence to cultivate public support for their causes. This causes people to invest resources to help solve “phantom problems” that never materialize while more pressing concerns are ignored.

That view is shared by Patrick Moore, a former director of Greenpeace, who Mr. Stossel interviewed on his program. Mr. Moore said the environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists who use environmental rhetoric “to cloak agendas like class warfare and anticorporatism that, in fact, have almost nothing to do with ecology.”

That so many public school teachers are in league with the eco-nazis is a matter of grave concern. Children should not be taught things that are demonstrably false, nor should they be subjected to blatant propaganda. Children should be taught how to think, not told what to think.

Jack Kelly writes for Block News Alliance. Email: jkelly@post-gazette.com.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.