Monday, January 02, 2006

Every Man's Land: Who really owns ANWR?

Maybe the fact that it is government owned is part of the problem. It is now just a political football

ANWR is "a symbol for both sides," the executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League recently told the Washington Post, and as symbols go, it's perhaps not the one environmentalists would have hoped for. Cold, remote, hostile, and housed in the superfluous state of Alaska, it's enough out of sight to put out of mind. Then again, it may be exactly what greens would have wanted, perfectly attuned to the sensitivities of blue-state aesthetic purity: a pristine white canvas, uniquely vulnerable to exploitation by overfed, cigar-wielding oil barons who will smear it with black gold like a kid laying into finger paint.

The showdown reflects decades of public anxiety about the slope; established as a refuge in 1960, locked away by President Carter in 1980, and the site of numerous torturous legislative battles ever since. President Clinton vetoed a drilling proposal in 1995, and President Bush has been trying to poke holes in the tundra since before he was waging war. Explained Senator John Kerry in the last election: Big Oil now calls "the White House their home."

That characterization might be plausible if the oil executives were nearly as excited about tearing up the tundra as the White House. No one knows how much oil lies beneath the slope; this is a faith-based debate from every side, and there is evidence that oil executives themselves aren't true believers. In February, a former engineer for Halliburton told the New York Times: "The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces...and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising." In December of 2004, Lee R. Raymond, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, said simply, "I don't know if there is anything in ANWR or not." Said Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton in an interview last weekend: "[oil companies] can produce energy in any place in the world. They are not the strong proponents of opening ANWR."

Norton, in talking point mode, calls ANWR a "national security" issue. But even the optimistic estimates of what lies beneath aren't exciting enough to support fantasies of oil independence. The Department of Energy estimates that, when ANWR oil first comes to market a decade after drilling operations start, Alaska's new bounty will reduce America's oil imports by a grand total of four percentage points.

ANWR has also been pitched as a deficit saving measure, a suggestion promoted by Sen. Stevens, whose recent belt-tightening efforts include bringing Alaska over $1 billion in pork, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) of $230 million Bridge to Nowhere fame. ("I won't jump off of a bridge if we don't win [on ANWR]" Young recently remarked, days before he was officially deprived of an eponymous bridge to jump off.) For a party known to be bad with numbers, the numbers here are particularly suspect— a supposed $2.5 billion in leases, an extremely optimistic projection that represents over 60 times the historic average for land leases in the area.

Once you're over the idea that ANWR is a security issue, it's hard to justify contentious collective ownership of the place—unless you're an environmentalist, and firmly convinced that the fate of every stripmall-free acre in America rests upon its inviolate preservation. "If we reverse the protection for ANWR, then the protection of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and all other public spaces becomes meaningless," Rep. Charles Bass(R-N.H.) panicked in a press release last week.

Being places that people actually visit, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon aren't going to get torn up anytime soon. But whether or not the lower 48 states become a vast oil field, the greens' obsession with ANWR belies an ugly shortsightedness—an L.L. Bean vision of environmental purity, in which Northeasterners rally to protect nice places they might just hike someday. ("Has anyone ever been to ANWR?" fake presidential candidate Alan Alda asked on a recent episode of The West Wing.) While greens pour resources into keeping Alaska postcard-pretty, real problems exist in decidedly less remote Louisiana, where hurricanes Katrina and Rita left the coast stained with oil spills.

ANWR itself, if only a symbol, is a symbol of something more complex than greedy executives or green extremists; it's indicative of an irresolvable tension over publicly held land, uselessly locked away and yet uniquely vulnerable to special interests. An ANWR owned by greens would be used to further environmental interests (possibly by selling oil and channeling the profits toward more pressing concerns); an ANWR owned by Exxon Mobil would be efficiently leveraged to produce oil; an ANWR owned by everybody is just a question mark waiting for the next administration that needs to prove it's serious about something.


DDT Is the Only Real Weapon for Combating Malaria

During the few minutes you spend reading this article, malaria will kill six Africans and sicken about 3,000 more, mostly children and pregnant women--a rate of more than one million deaths annually and 500 million illnesses overall among the 2.2 billion people who live in malarial regions, such as much of Africa. There's legislation moving through the U.S. Senate right now intended to reduce this tragic toll.

U.S. taxpayers spend about $200 million annually on malaria control efforts. Ironically, almost none of this money is spent to kill or repel the mosquitoes that spread disease. The money is instead spent on anti-malarial drugs and insecticide-treated bed nets that aren't very effective. Bed nets are often torn. They are uncomfortable on hot African nights and may get kicked off. Anti-malarial drugs are in short supply. The U.S. Agency for International Development hopes to have 55 million pediatric doses for 2006--leaving the other 445 million people on their own to battle against malaria without any drugs. Although researchers are working to develop an anti-malarial vaccine, there is little prospect for one in the next 10 years.

It's a grim reality, but it doesn't have to be. We have the technology to make a large dent in this tragedy, if only we could rid ourselves of the most infamous environmentalist myth of all time, our irrational fear of the insecticide DDT. "Getting rid of malaria in Africa is just as critical to [the continent's] future as eradicating malaria, yellow fever, and hookworm was vital to economic progress in the Southern United States," Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor at the Congress of Racial Equality, said. "If people are sick, they can't work, attend school, or cultivate their crops and certainly can't be at 100 percent. If other people have to stay home to care for them, they can't be productive, either."

As discussed in's "100 Things You Should Know About DDT," the Rachel Carson-Silent Spring-inspired campaign against DDT was utterly detached from reality. Contrary to Carson's claims, DDT did not cause declines in populations of great birds such as the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon. These bird populations were threatened before DDT had even been invented, thanks to over-hunting, habitat destruction, and egg collectors. The bird populations rebounded, in fact, during the period of the greatest use of DDT.

No scientific experiment has ever shown that typical levels of DDT found in the environment cause the thinning of bird egg shells--a mechanism by which DDT was alleged to have harmed birds. While a host of natural and artificial factors have been scientifically identified as potentially contributing to egg shell-thinning, typical environmental levels of pesticide residues aren't among them.

DDT also has never been credibly linked with cancer or non-cancer health effects in humans. What really drove that point home to me was a recent visit to the Imperial War Museum in London, where I saw a display about the DDT delousing that was done to liberated World War II concentration camp victims. DDT was used to save their lives, and despite the extremely fragile state of their health during such use, no ill effects among the survivors have been attributed to DDT in the medical literature.

DDT was ultimately banned in the United States in 1972 because of politics, not science. For no stated reason, EPA Administrator William Ruckleshaus overruled a finding of DDT's safety by an EPA administrative law judge. Evidence was later discovered identifying Ruckleshaus as a fundraiser for the Environmental Defense Fund--the activist group spearheading the anti-DDT campaign. Of course, by the time Ruckleshaus banned DDT, malaria in the United States and Europe had essentially been eradicated, so the insecticide was no longer needed. Although DDT also was used--some say overused--in U.S. agriculture, economical substitutes could be had.

But there is no economical substitute for DDT when it comes to preventing malaria in poorer regions of the world. Other chemicals are too expensive and don't work as well for the sort of widespread spraying needed to control mosquitoes in Africa. While DDT has not been officially banned in Africa, its use is discouraged by limited production and cumbersome environmentalist-designed rules on use and handling. The European Union, which environmentalists often lead by the nose, has even threatened a ban on agricultural imports from countries that use DDT.

But when DDT is available, the results are nothing short of spectacular. Indoor spraying with DDT, for example, reduced malaria cases and deaths by nearly 75 percent in Zambia over a two-year period and by 80 percent in South Africa in just one year. DDT works like nothing else--there's simply no doubt about it.

A bill in Congress (currently it's known as the Senate version of H.R. 3057) would reform the U.S. Agency for International Development so that insecticides like DDT could be added to the arsenal for fighting malaria. President Bush announced in July that U.S. taxpayers would spend $1.2 billion for world malaria control over the next five years. Rather than wasting that money on ineffective bed nets and anti-malaria drugs, and then repeating such futility in another five years, let's spend it on DDT and get the job done now.


Kentucky: Greenies oppose flat land!: "The towering mountains that frame this Appalachian town have been a hindrance to growth, forcing homes and businesses to crowd together side by side on precious little flat land. That could change under a plan by Pikeville leaders who recruited a coal company to flatten two mountaintops to make room for the town of about 6,300 to expand. Appalachian towns like Pikeville that have exhausted all usable land have no choice but to look to the mountaintops, City Manager Donovan Blackburn said. 'If you look at the amount of land that is developable right now, there is virtually none,' Mr. Blackburn said. 'This will be a tremendous benefit.' However, in mountaintop-removal coal mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams, and the leftover rock and dirt are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying streams. Environmentalists say the process destroys wildlife habitat and contaminates water. "


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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