2001 Earth Day Information Center

 

Earth Day 2001 Fact Sheet

 

Myths and Facts About the Environment

 

*Myth: Smart Growth policies are reasonable land-use measures that combat the alleged ills of urban sprawl without harming Americans' standard of living.

*Fact: Smart Growth measures such as urban growth boundaries and restrictive zoning practices inflate housing prices and could deprive millions of Americans of the promise of homeownership. Minorities and moderate-income families especially suffer from costly smart growth policies because many new homeowners are minorities. Between 1994 and 1998, minorities accounted for 42% of the growth in homeownership. But smart growth threatens to end this positive social trend. The smart growth program in Portland, Oregon, widely praised by environmentalists as a model for anti-sprawl planning, has contributed to a major escalation in the cost of housing in that city. In 1991, Portland was ranked as the 55th most affordable city in America. But thanks to the rapid rise in housing prices due mainly to the urban growth boundary and other anti-sprawl policies, Portland is now ranked 174th in housing affordability - the second least affordable city in the nation. Between 1995 and 1997 alone, more than 80,000 single-family homes became unaffordable due to housing price inflation. In one inner-city Portland neighborhood, home prices doubled between 1990 and 1995 from $41,300 to $83,800, seriously undercutting the chance of moderate- and low-income families to own homes.

Source: John Carlisle, Suburban Snob Politics Fuels "Smart Growth" Land-Use Movement, National Policy Analysis Number 312, The National Center for Public Policy Research, October 2000.

 

*Myth: There is widespread agreement among scientists that carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, cars and other human activities are causing significant global warming that is threatening the planet's environment.

*Fact: More than 17,000 scientists signed a petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Health which declares that, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of... greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere." The signers include 2,100 climatologists, meteorologists and environmental scientists who are especially well-qualified to evaluate the effects of carbon dioxide on the Earth's climate. One prestigious signatory is Dr. Frederick Seitz, President Emeritus at Rockefeller University and a former President of the National Academy of Sciences. Even scientists who subscribe to the global warming theory have admitted that their dire predictions were proved wrong. Dr. James Hansen, the NASA scientist widely considered a leading exponent of the global warming theory, said in 1988 that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to severe climate impacts such as increased drought by the end of the 20th century. In 1998, Dr. Hansen candidly admitted that his predictions did not come true because he failed to take into account the significant amounts of carbon dioxide absorbed by forests, the soil and the ocean. Dr. Hansen now believes that carbon dioxide emissions have not contributed to global warming.

Sources: John Carlisle, Cooling Off On Global Warming, National Policy Analysis Number 284, April 2000; John Carlisle, Treaty to Combat Unproven Global Warming Threat Would Hurt Americans' Standard of Living, National Policy Analysis Number 309, September 2000.

 

*Myth: Developing nations are critical of foods derived from agricultural biotechnology because they view biotechnology foods as unsafe and a way for Western multi-national corporations to dominate their fragile economies.

*Fact: Nearly 2,300 scientists from around the world - including respected Nobel prize-winners - have signed a petition organized by Dr. C.S. Prakash, director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University, strongly endorsing the safety of biotechnology and its promise to address hunger and poverty in developing nations. Kenya's President, Daniel T. arap Moi, says "the international community is on the verge of the biotechnology revolution which Africa cannot afford to miss." Nigeria's Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Hassan Adamu, says environmentalists "claim to have the environment and public health at the core of their opposition, but scientific evidence disproves their claims... If we take their alarmist warnings to heart, millions of Africans will suffer and possibly die."

Sources: Michael Centrone, Biotechnology: Putting An End to World Hunger, National Policy Analysis Number 289, June 2000; Congressman Nick Smith to Speak at Press Conference Praising Biotechnology and Criticizing Unsound Science of Biotechnology Critics, Press Release, The National Center For Public Policy Research, September 20, 2000.

 

*Myth: There isn't enough oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to justify oil and gas development, and such development would ruin the pristine refuge's scenic beauty and threaten its abundant wildlife.

*Fact: ANWR is the nation's single largest oil reserve. Some petroleum experts say that ANWR has at least 9.2 billion barrels of oil while others say it may contain as much as 16 billion barrels. ANWR is so oil-rich that it could substitute for the oil the U.S. would otherwise have to import from Saudi Arabia over the next 30 years. In addition, ANWR may contain an estimated 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The environmental impact of drilling in ANWR would be minimal. To recover the area's huge oil reserves, oil companies would only have to build drill platforms, production facilities, pipelines and roads on as little as 2,000 acres of the refuge's 19 million acres.

Sources: Amy Ridenour, Government Energy Policy Errors Contribute to High Gasoline Prices, National Policy Analysis Number 283, March 2000; John Carlisle, Environmentalists' Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is Unfounded, National Policy Analysis Number 324, January 2001.

 

*Myth: California's power crisis was caused by deregulation.

*Fact: Overly restrictive pollution rules prevented the construction of power plants needed to keep pace with the state's need for more power. Between 1996 and 1999, peak power demand increased 12%, but power plant capacity increased only one percent. Enron Corporation planned and built three power plants in the southeastern U.S. in less than a year during the period. It is going to take Enron three and a half years to build just one California plant. California power companies are producing about the same amount of power they did in 1990, even though the state's electrical demand is increasing twice as fast as the national average.

Source: John Carlisle, Environmentalists' Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is Unfounded, National Policy Analysis Number 324, January 2001.

 

*Myth: Environmental regulations have no significant impact upon airport congestion airport congestion, airline delays and cancellations.

*Fact: It often takes 10 years or more to plan and build a new runway, primarily because of cumbersome environmental permitting requirements. Environmental regulations are a major reason why, since 1978, only two new major metropolitan airports have been constructed even though the number of passengers flown annually has risen from 250 million in 1978 to 600 million in 1999. Since 1990, only six new runways have been added at large hub airports despite the fact that airline departures increased 25% during the decade. As a result of so many jets competing for a limited amount of runway space and gates, the quality of air travel is declining. Between 1995 and 2000, airline cancellations jumped 104% while departure and arrival delays increased 33%. The average flight now arrives 52 minutes late compared to five years ago.

Source: John Carlisle, Mad About the Quality of Air Travel These Days? Blame Environmentalists, National Policy Analysis Number 331, March 2001.


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