As fitting the environmental movement, my tribute to Earth Day is both late and recycled. The only way it could fit the environmental movement better would be if everything I said was factually wrong. No can do. It wouldn't be me. Herewith a "best of" from my previous Earth Day ramblings.
Earth Day, as most of you
know, is a holiday made up in the late 1960s at the start of the
national environmental movement. Ira Einhorn is one of the main
founders of Earth Day, if not the
guy who started it. Ira practiced what he preached: he murdered his girlfriend (less stress on the planet) and composted her body in his closet
. (Hey - reduce, re-use, recycle!)
You won't find Ira Einhorn's name listed in any of the Earth Day
promotional literature, as the organizers have taken great pains to
distance themselves from this man, at least since he became better
known for composting his girlfriend in a trunk in his closet for a
couple of years in the late 1970s.
I was a
science geek in high school in 1970, the first Earth Day, and
indoctrinated into the liberal crap of the day. Who can forget the
commercial with the crying Indian
("Iron Eyes Cody
who - BTW - was Italian, not Native American) looking at the spoiled
earth. Caught up in the spirit of the day, we went looking for
pollution, and tested a local canal for coliform bacteria
The movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency,
probably the best example of an agency that has outlived its
I suppose the ethos of modern America requires that I say I want a clean environment as much as anybody. Long before 1970 and ever since, I've been a
fisherman, hiker, camper, cyclist, runner, biathlete (I'm a really
crappy swimmer...) and outdoor photographer. I want a clean, healthy
environment. Nobody wants dirty air or water, nobody wants pollution,
nobody wants to make themselves or their children or anybody else or
anybody else's children sick. Can we get away from those useless
stereotypes and be grown ups from now on?
That said, 95% of being environmentally responsible is cleaning up after
yourself. Most of the rest of that last 5% is recognizing "there is no
such place as 'away' where you throw things". All you do is relocate
your problem from right under your nose to somewhere else.
I don't think there's anyone alive who remembers the 1960s that doesn't
think we're better off today than we were then. The laws removing lead
from gasoline and paint removed tons of the metal from the environment.
Removal of combustion products of Nitrogen from vehicle exhaust,
reduction of sulfur emissions at power plants, and mandating catalytic
converters to remove heavier combustion products are all big steps.
..... (rather than repost the whole thing, here's a short version of the
part on using Vilfred Pareto's law to methodically find and reduce or
eliminate sources of pollution. Chart your problems, smallest to
largest. Go after the 20% of the sources that cause 80% of the problems
until you knock them down to minor contributors. Lather, rinse,
repeat. Typically, you're done after five cycles.)
The EPA is there
. I would argue that when the things on their list to clean up are small engines that are rarely used like lawnmowers, or personal boats
the pollution problem is essentially solved. While I know a lawnmower
can produce some visible exhaust, the vast majority of lawnmowers run very infrequently compared to cars and buses running
five days a week or more. The total amount of pollution they contribute is a tiny
fraction of what we started out cleaning up.
The EPA proudly lists a lot of its accomplishments
There's a lot of items in that list that are more "hall of shame" than
"hall of fame". Take the CFC bans they brag about. This science has all but fallen apart
in the years since the ban, sure evidence that they jumped onto a
bandwagon rather than waiting for good science (I love the conclusion to
that Science paper, "we don't know what we're talking about and none of
our theories work, but don't doubt the conclusions that CFCs are to
blame!" - yeah and frogs with no legs are deaf, too) It has been
suggested that the whole CFC ban and Montreal Protocol was expert
manipulation of the governments by Dupont Chemical, because their
patents on Freon 12 were going to expire and they invented a way to get
the world to come to them for the solution, R134! Does that give you
much confidence the EPA regulating carbon dioxide is anything other than
a handout to some groups
or some people
that are going to profit
wildly from carbon restrictions?
DDT? How many people have been killed
by the absence
of this cheap, effective malaria preventive (by killing the mosquito vectors)? One source (below) suggests over 50 million people have been killed by banning DDT.
"[Any known alternative to DDT] only kills farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes. So what?
People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We
need to get rid of some of them and this is as good a way as any,"
said Dr. Charles Wurster, chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund's
Scientific Advisory Council and a key promoter of the DDT ban.
I have to tell you that those people feel differently
, Dr. Wurster. Perhaps you and your fellow travelers will do the planet the favor of offing yourself first?
But go back to that EPA accomplishments
page. They say:
EPA bans use of DDT because the widely-used pesticide is found to be cancer-causing and accumulating in the food chain...
Contrast that with (source
"The scientific literature does not contain even one
peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking DDT exposures to
any adverse health outcome [in humans]," said Dr. Amir Attaran, who is
with Harvard University's Center for International Development and is a
former WHO expert on malaria who used to support the
environmentalists' call for using alternatives to DDT. Attaran changed
sides on the DDT debate after he witnessed what happened when South
Africa. After intense U.N. and environmentalist pressure, South Africa
stopped using DDT and switched to the U.N. Environmental Program's
alternative pesticides as a way to control malaria. But the mosquitoes
quickly developed resistance to the new pesticides and malaria rates
increased 1,000 percent.... (Bold added - SiG)
Not afraid to put his mouth where his moxie was, Edwards took to swallowing a tablespoon of DDT on stage before every lecture on the subject.
In September 1971, Esquire magazine pictured Edwards doing just that.
The accompanying text explained that Edwards had "eaten 200 times the
normal human intake of DDT." He did not even consider this gesture
risky. In the one year of 1959, for instance, unprotected workmen had
applied 60,000 tons of DDT to the inside walls of 100 million houses.
Neither the 130,000 workmen or the 535 million people living in the
sprayed houses had experienced any adverse effects. (emphasis added - SiG)
These two examples, gathered in a couple of hours of thought and
searching, tell me the EPA is a political body that gets the occasional
thing right, but has outlived its usefulness. Perhaps there's some use
for a skeleton crew to administer a few things, but No. New.
Regulations. Not. One. Shutter the windows and bar the doors. Mr.
Speaker, if you're looking for an agency to zero out in the budget and
save some money, look no further.
Remember, to really commemorate Earth Day, your lights should be visible from Proxima Centauri.