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Destroying Biodiversity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The Soviet Union’s demise ushered in manmade catastrophic global warming as the new “central organizing principle of civilization.” Now, global warming hysteria is giving way to a growing recognition that: climate change is primarily natural, cyclical and moderate; China, India and other poor countries will not sacrifice CO2-generating economic growth on the altar of speculative climate disaster; and carbon taxes strangle competitiveness, destroy jobs and send families into fuel poverty.

However, environmental activists know the key to power, control and fund-raising is the specter of disaster. Thus, even as climate chaos shrivels as an organizing principle, the United Nations and radical greens have inaugurated a new eco-Frankenstein monster.

The real threat to the planet, they now assert, is the impact of modern energy technologies and civilization on biodiversity. The case for saving species, they insist, is even “more powerful” than the need to address climate change. Of course, they have a plan.

They will preserve biodiversity by controlling not just land and energy use, but all human activity – under the auspices of the United Nations, expanded global government, and new regulations and taxes. Their efforts to preserve species, they claim, will generate benefits “worth $4-5 trillion per year” (based on computer models and unsupported assertions about the intrinsic value of species and biodiversity).

To accept these claims, one would need to believe in the IPCC, Stern Report, tooth fairy – and a UN system that will suddenly, magically ensure honesty, transparency, and accountability for misfeasance, malfeasance, fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation, and adverse impacts on people and wildlife.

One would also have to ignore this fact. The real threats to the world’s species are environmentalism, misguided environmental policies, and anti-technology zealotry. Here’s the tip of the iceberg.

* Intensive, unrelenting opposition to coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants for generating the electricity that two billion people worldwide so desperately need. Not only does this force people to rely on open fires for heating and cooking – perpetuating poverty, lung disease and premature death.

It also destroys mountain gorilla and other wildlife habitats, as people cut trees for fires and charcoal.

China and India no longer tolerate these policies and are self-financing hundreds of power plants, mostly coal-fired. But poor countries must still rely on World Bank loans – and thus must run gauntlets laid down by the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Obama administration, which steadfastly oppose construction of critically needed power plants.

* Constant promotion of expensive, unreliable wind and solar power. Wind turbines slice up birds and collapse bat lungs. Turbines and solar arrays would have to cover millions of acres to provide power for cities. They require ultra-long transmission lines and backup gas generators, and consume millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, polymers and rare earth (lanthanide) minerals – all of which have to extracted from the Earth and processed into finished products, burning fossil fuels and generating mining wastes and air and water pollution every step of the way.

As Planet Gore blogger Greg Pollowitz has noted, Con Ed must generate 13,450 megawatts to meet New York City’s air conditioning and other electricity needs during this July heat wave. The 600-turbine Roscoe wind farm blankets 100,000 Texas acres to generate 782 MW at full capacity. That means NYC would need a wind farm 1.6 times the size of Connecticut (5 million acres or 2 million hectares), if the turbines are running at a generous 30% of capacity. But during the heat wave, there’s barely a breeze.

Now multiply that habitat demand times the world’s biggest cities, and calculate the biodiversity impact. No wonder the wind industry wants exemptions from endangered species rules and environmental impact studies that hyper-regulate fossil fuel and nuclear companies. No wonder Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced legislation to prohibit solar panel installations in the super-sunny Mojave Desert.

* Equally fanatical advocacy for biofuels, especially ethanol. Every 7 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol requires crops grown on an area the size of Indiana (23 million acres) – and Congress now wants the USA to produce 20 billion gallons of EtOH annually by 2020. In addition to this massive food crop and wildlife habitat land grab, ethanol production requires billions of gallons of water, millions of tons of fertilizer and insecticides, and vast quantities of natural gas and diesel fuel to power tractors, tanker trucks and conversion plants – to distill a fuel that gets 20% fewer mpg than gasoline.

And yet, President Obama told a Ghanaian audience in July 2009 that malnourished Africa should forego even gas-fired electricity generators in favor of wind, solar and biofuel power. The continent and its arid, nutrient-depleted soils already cannot feed their populations adequately, and the President wants them to divert cropland and wildlife habitats to biofuels. Meanwhile, environmental activists continue to …

* Oppose biotechnology, genetically engineered crops and even hybrid seeds. These specialized crops survive better during droughts, increase farm family incomes, improve nutrition, and reduce the need for insecticides. They offer the best hope for growing more biofuel crops on less acreage.

The New York Times says we can ill afford “not to make the best use of genetic engineering.” If we “allow propaganda to trump science, then the potential for global agriculture to be productive, diverse and sustainable will go unfulfilled.” The late Dr. Norman Borlaug warned that forcing the world to rely on organic and traditional farming to feed even current populations would require plowing under nearly every remaining acre of forest and grassland habitat. That’s without factoring in biofuels.

And yet, eco-fanatics and EU bureaucrats threaten African nations with punitive boycotts if they plant biotech crops. Radical greens want Third World farmers to rely on “traditional” seeds and agricultural methods, and oppose the use of seeds that have been “touched by corporations.”

Is there no end to eco-zealot insanity? Apparently not.

* Environmentalists also oppose timber cutting and even tree thinning and mechanized fire suppression on vast acreage of US national forests. Too often the result is fiery conflagrations that incinerate trees, wildlife, soil and streams, causing extensive erosion and long-term habitat loss.

* Topping it off, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent endangerment decision, low-carbon fuel standards, and power plant emission rules will force even greater expansion of wind, solar and biofuel use, further impacting habitats and biodiversity.

It is bad enough that “biodiversity stabilization” is a reprise of past government-environmentalist eco-scares. Like its predecessors, the BS program offers horrifying predictions of a dying planet – backed by little more than dubious theories, assumptions, assertions and statistics, fed into fancy computer models that generate ominous scenarios and graphics. It also proposes the same tired “solutions” – more taxes, regulations, and government control over our lives, energy development and economic growth.

The far greater problem is that the UN, EPA, “mainstream media” and political establishment are studiously ignoring the real threats to habitats, species and biodiversity: the anti-energy, anti-technology, anti-people agenda of radical green ideology.

As the November elections approach, we have an opportunity to make Earth a better place for people and the natural world. Embrace true science and ethics. Reject the latest UN power grab. Throw the bums out.

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