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Commentary By Max Schulz


Radical Greens Harm The Earth More Than They Help

Tuesday is Earth Day, the calendar's High Holy Day of Green theology. With each passing year, environmentalism more clearly assumes the trappings of a secular religion. Now, along comes Iain Murray to assert that the Green God is dead.

Murray's new book, "The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About - Because They Helped Cause Them," clarifies the difference between caring for the environment - a reasonable and virtuous belief that people rightly harbor - and the modern-day movement known as environmentalism. The latter, Murray notes, has amassed a shameful legacy over a half century that has killed millions of people and consigned billions of others to backbreaking poverty. "Environmentalism deserves to be as discredited as Marxism," Murray argues. His book does a superb job of doing just that.

Murray, an energy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, lives a low-carbon lifestyle. He loves nature and the outdoors. He's practically a tree-hugger. Nevertheless, he makes clear, "I am not an environmentalist."

Why? Because, as he explains, environmentalism has become a socio-political movement exploiting people's genuine regard for nature as a smokescreen for expanding government and exercising power. And the results have been disastrous for both humanity and the environment.

Murray chronicles seven environmental catastrophes, and shows the hand of the professional environmental movement in each one.

Thanks to the efforts of Green patron saint Rachel Carson, environmentalists have succeeded in curbing the use of DDT, which, Murray writes, is "highly effective in controlling malaria and thereby lifting millions out of poverty." While it's unclear if banning the pesticide has had much in the way of environmental benefits, it has been unquestionably harmful to humankind. Unchecked malaria has killed tens of millions of people, particularly in Africa, and continues to cost people their lives each year. "In 2005 alone, across Uganda, 50,000 children died from malaria," Murray notes. "That is the true Silent Spring."

The current biofuel craze is another case in point. Greens have long favored government mandates to convert corn into motor fuel. They claim this will cut into our supposed addiction to oil, while minimizing harmful greenhouse gas emissions from our tailpipes. The Greens got their wish, and in recent years Congress has ordered billions of gallons of ethanol to be introduced into our fuel supply. European nations have passed similar biofuel mandates to fight global warming.

The result, by almost any account, has been a fiasco. Pouring corn into our gas tanks has led to a spike in food prices worldwide. Those high prices have caused food shortages and even riots in other countries (several in just the last month). While people starve, biofuels are creating an environmental disaster as well. In places like Indonesia, forestland is being cleared at alarming rates in order to plant palm oil crops and cash in on the artificial demand for biofuels. The result is a holocaust for many endangered animals. "The orangutan is being crucified on a cross of green," Murray notes.

Murray also has the number of environmentalists who demand higher automobile fuel efficiency mandates. These government standards have meant smaller, lighter, less crashworthy vehicles. "The tradeoff the liberal environmentalists demand is actually safety for gas mileage. In other words, blood for oil."

At bottom, Murray notes, the environmental movement is rooted not in a concern for the environment, but in a disdain for personal freedom and free-enterprise capitalism. Humanity is the disease plaguing the planet. The antidote must be environmental policies enforced by government diktat, relying on mandates, bans, orders, restrictions and punishments to achieve its goals. The better answer is conservation by private stewards, individuals and corporations, who understand caring for the environment is important, while making choices that are actually logical - and sustainable.

Put in such stark terms the choice isn't that difficult, Murray notes. "Marxism brought us the Gulags. The worst that most commentators can say about free enterprise these days is that it brought us McDonalds."

This piece originally appeared in New York Post

This piece originally appeared in New York Post