VITAL SIGNSrnEnvironmentalismrnby Edward C. KrugrnAbuse of a Just CausernWhile addressing the 20th annualrnConservative Political ActionrnConference (CPAC) this past February,rnI confessed unease. A recovering “environmentalist,”rnaddressing CPAC seemedrnequivalent to a recovering alcoholic witnessingrnbefore Alcoholics Anonymous.rnMy story starts with the acknowledgmentrnthat the environment is a justrncause; the world deser es wise stewardship,rnand there arc some people whornabuse it. This last point is abundantlyrnclear to me, for I grew up in northernrnNew Jersey, parts of which resemble thernsurreal industrial moonscape picturedrnat the beginning of the movie The BluesrnBrothers.rnLike most environmentalists, I didrnnot perceive anything fundamentallyrnwrong with the movement. Beforernearning a Ph.D. what involvement I hadrnliad with it was straightforward—meetingrnenvironmental standards for surfacernwater and wastewater discharge. However,rnmy perspective on environmentalismrnexpanded after earning my doctorate.rnIn 1981, I became Connecticut’srnacid rain expert. It was then that I beganrnto see how environmental goals andrnstandards are currently established.rnAnywhere from 44 to 100 percent ofrnConnecticut’s lakes were said to be (orrnsoon to be) “acid-dead,” as a result ofrnacid rain. But these figures were entirelyrnfabricated.rnSimilar disinformation was foisted onrnthe nation with hardly a peep of dissent.rnFor example, in 1980 the EnvironmentalrnProtection Agency asserted that the averagernNortheastern lake had been acidifiedrn100-fold over the past 40 years asrnthe result of acid rain. Not to be outdone,rnin 1981 the National Academy ofrnSciences asserted that the 40 years ofrnacidification would be repeated again;rnthis time not in 40 but in only ninernyears—by 1990. All of these claims werernscientifically unsubstantiated. Similarrnscientifically unsubstantiated claimsrnwere made for damage to forests. Inrnsum, the public was led to believe thatrnacid rain was an enormous environmentalrncrisis that would transform thernNortheast into a “silent spring” by 1990.rnQuite worried, I went to others in thernenvironmental movement with the concernrnthat we were ruining our credibility.rnBelieving that the truth must eventuallyrncome out—that 1990 wouldrncome and go without a “silent spring”—rnI stated that we had to correct ourselvesrnabout acid rain if we wanted to retainrnour respect and reliability. Moreover,rnbelieving that environmental leadersrnwere truly interested in the well-beingrnof the environment, as I am, I thoughtrnthat my comments would be well received,rnthat everyone would breathe arnsigh of relief in knowing that thousandsrnof lakes and millions of acres of forestrnwere not being sterilized by acid rain.rnTo my shock, instead of thanking me,rnenvironmentalists fell on me like a tonrnof bricks. It would take 10 years of additionalrnshocks before I could bring myselfrnto face the unpleasant truth—environmentalismrnis not a science but arnsocioeconomic revolution. Facts are ignoredrnand other “facts” are manufacturedrnto support the deception of selfrnand others.rnWith acid rain, scientists who madernpolitically incorrect utterances werernmarked for destruction. Agronomists,rnforesters, and biologists—who pointedrnout that nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S),rnwhich make up acid rain, also constituternfertilizer—were ridiculed into oblivion.rnHow could anything good come ofrnsomething named “acid rain”?rnEnvironmentalists made sure thernpublic never knew that European andrnAmerican acid rain monitoring networksrnoriginated in national agricultural experimentrnstations. The ag stations havernbeen sampling and analyzing the N andrnS of rain for more than a century, not asrncontaminants but as beneficial macronutrients.rnAmong agronomists, such “pollution”rnwas often called the “poor man’srnfertilizer.” The collective work of thernworld’s scientific establishment on thernessentiality of N and S as life-givingrnmaeronutrients was strictly censored.rnThe jihad against scientific truth continued.rnIf a scientist tried to inject reasonrninto the acid rain “debate” but wasrnfrom the “wrong side of the tracks”—rnthe Midwest—he was tarred as a liarrnwho had sold out to the economic interestsrnof his region. If he came fromrnthe “politically correct” part of therncountry—the Northeast—and was makingrnpolitically incorrect statements, hisrnbackground was searched long and hardrnto see if he had any “dirty” money (readrn”industry money”). If a scientist wasrnunimpeachable in background and credentialsrnand was part of a governmentrnbureaucracy or tenured faculty, he wasrnimmobile and could therefore be isolatedrnfrom funding and institutional supportrnand effectively silenced.rnOn the other hand, those who assertedrnthat the sky is falling—or who couldrnenvision some futuristic scenario holdingrnsome possibility of the sky falling atrnsome indeterminate time (otherwisernknown as science fiction in literary circles)rn—were automatically held up as authoritiesrnto be respected and obeyed nornmatter what their qualifications (or lackrnthereof).rnFinally, the dreaded moment of truthrnarrived. The year 1990 came and went.rnAcid rain did not transform the Northeastrninto a “silent spring.” Nevertheless,rnthe Clean Air Act—the most comprehensivernregulatory act in Americanrnhistory—passed in 1990 largely on therndeliberately well-misinformed public perceptionrnof acid rain, meaning I wasrncompletely wrong in my concern aboutrnthe environmental movement losingrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn