Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nick Kristof Is Wrong Once Again

In his Saturday diatribe against "tree huggers," Little Nicky Pistof confesses he was "once an environmental groupie." What he did with the pine cones, you don't want to know.

Anyway, Kristof is convinced environmentalists have lost all credibility:

"The fundamental problem, as I see it, is that environmental groups are too often alarmists. They have an awful track record, so they've lost credibility with the public. Some do great work, but others can be the left's equivalents of the neocons: brimming with moral clarity and ideological zeal, but empty of nuance. (Industry has also hyped risks with wildly exaggerated warnings that environmental protections will entail a terrible economic cost.)"

Yet apparently industry didn't lose its credibility, or at least Kristof doesn't think it worth discussing.

Kristof's proof of the "awful track record" and frequent alarmism of environmental groups? Here's his entire argument, and his best two examples:

Example one: "In the 1970's, the environmental movement was convinced that the Alaska oil pipeline would devastate the Central Arctic caribou herd. Since then, it has quintupled."
Uh, "the environmental movement" meaning who? Didn't they name any names on whatever right-wing website you got this argument from, Nick?

Example Two: "When I first began to worry about climate change, global cooling and nuclear winter seemed the main risks. As Newsweek said in 1975: 'Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend ... but they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.'"

Not even "the environmental movement," or environmentalists, but meterologists. Purportedly talking about a trend with a 25-year impact -- the cause of which they disagreed about.

Yes, environmental groups are so frequently alarmist that the most recent examples of their incorrect alarmism Pistof can cite are 30 years old. And he doesn't mention any group by name.

Pistof also mentions Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb," for the wild-eyed notion that overpopulation will cause starvation, and a book from 1959 entitled "Too Many Asians," which, as we all know, is the Satanic Bible of the environmental movement. (A classic attempt by Pistof to smear his political opponents as racists. I wonder how that out-of-print tome found a home on Pistof's bookshelf.)

After castigating screeching extremists, Pistof concludes:

"Given the uncertainties and trade-offs, priority should go to avoiding environmental damage that is irreversible, like extinctions, climate change and loss of wilderness. And irreversible changes are precisely what are at stake with the Bush administration's plans to drill in the Arctic wildlife refuge, to allow roads in virgin wilderness and to do essentially nothing on global warming."

Extinctions? Climate change? But... but ... environmentalists have no credibility on Arctic drilling or global warming! What about those caribou? And the meterologists?

I think I've got whiplash.

In summary, Kristof's column brims with moral clarity and ideological zeal, but is empty of nuance. And fact.

For Further Reading: Dave Johnson tells Kristof to read the whole thing.

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