While addressing the 20th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past February, I confessed unease. A recovering “environmentalist,” addressing CPAC seemed equivalent to a recovering alcoholic witnessing before Alcoholics Anonymous. My story starts with the acknowledgment that the environment is a just cause; the world deserves wise stewardship, and there are some people who abuse it. This last point is abundantly clear to me, for I grew up in northern New Jersey, parts of which resemble the surreal industrial moonscape pictured at the beginning of the movie The Blues Brothers.

Like most environmentalists, I did not perceive anything fundamentally wrong with the movement. Before earning a Ph.D. what involvement I had had with it was straightforward—meeting environmental standards for surface water and wastewater discharge. However, my perspective on environmentalism expanded after earning my doctorate. In 1981, I became Connecticut’s acid rain expert. It was then that I began to see how environmental goals and standards are currently established. Anywhere from 44 to 100 percent of Connecticut’s lakes were said to be (or soon to be) “acid-dead,” as a result of acid rain. But these figures were entirely fabricated.

Similar disinformation was foisted on the nation with hardly a peep of dissent. For example, in 1980 the Environmental Protection Agency asserted that the average Northeastern lake had been acidified 100-fold over the past 40 years as the result of acid rain. Not to be outdone, in 1981 the National Academy of Sciences asserted that the 40 years of acidification would be repeated again; this time not in 40 but in only nine years—by 1990. All of these claims were scientifically unsubstantiated. Similar scientifically unsubstantiated claims were made for damage to forests. In sum, the public was led to believe that acid rain was an enormous environmental crisis that would transform the Northeast into a “silent spring” by 1990.

Quite worried, I went to others in the environmental movement with the concern that we were ruining our credibility. Believing that the truth must eventually come out—that 1990 would come and go without a “silent spring”—I stated that we had to correct ourselves about acid rain if we wanted to retain our respect and reliability. Moreover, believing that environmental leaders were truly interested in the well-being of the environment, as I am, I thought that my comments would be well received, that everyone would breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that thousands of lakes and millions of acres of forest were not being sterilized by acid rain.

To my shock, instead of thanking me, environmentalists fell on me like a ton of bricks. It would take 10 years of additional shocks before I could bring myself to face the unpleasant truth—environmentalism is not a science but a socioeconomic revolution. Facts are ignored and other “facts” are manufactured to support the deception of self and others.

With acid rain, scientists who made politically incorrect utterances were marked for destruction. Agronomists, foresters, and biologists—who pointed out that nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S), which make up acid rain, also constitute fertilizer—were ridiculed into oblivion. How could anything good come of something named “acid rain”?

Environmentalists made sure the public never knew that European and American acid rain monitoring networks originated in national agricultural experiment stations. The ag stations have been sampling and analyzing the N and S of rain for more than a century, not as contaminants but as beneficial macronutrients. Among agronomists, such “pollution” was often called the “poor man’s fertilizer.” The collective work of the world’s scientific establishment on the essentiality of N and S as life-giving macronutrients was strictly censored.

The jihad against scientific truth continued. If a scientist tried to inject reason into the acid rain “debate” but was from the “wrong side of the tracks”—the Midwest—he was tarred as a liar who had sold out to the economic interests of his region. If he came from the “politically correct” part of the country—the Northeast—and was making politically incorrect statements, his background was searched long and hard to see if he had any “dirty” money (read “industry money”). If a scientist was unimpeachable in background and credentials and was part of a government bureaucracy or tenured faculty, he was immobile and could therefore be isolated from funding and institutional support and effectively silenced.

On the other hand, those who asserted that the sky is falling—or who could envision some futuristic scenario holding some possibility of the sky falling at some indeterminate time (otherwise known as science fiction in literary circles)—were automatically held up as authorities to be respected and obeyed no matter what their qualifications (or lack thereof).

Finally, the dreaded moment of truth arrived. The year 1990 came and went. Acid rain did not transform the Northeast into a “silent spring.” Nevertheless, the Clean Air Act—the most comprehensive regulatory act in American history—passed in 1990 largely on the deliberately well-misinformed public perception of acid rain, meaning I was completely wrong in my concern about the environmental movement losing credibility. Why? Because I was thinking as a scientist, not as a political activist implementing a socioeconomic revolution.

While scientific truth is not established by vote, political “reality” is. In politics, perception is reality. Or to quote Niccolo Machiavelli describing the basis for deception, “Most people have eves and can, therefore, sec. However, few people have the ability to reason. Therefore, appearances are everything.” Environmentalists made sure that people did not have the ability to reason.

After screaming in the early 80’s that acid rain was an invisible horror raining death out of the skies, environmentalists maintained strict censorship through the “reign of terror” described above. They then went on to create more environmental “crises.” And after ten years of blather about global warming, dioxin, styrofoam, wetlands, asbestos, alar, spotted owls, ozone depiction, etc., the public no longer remembers that acid rain was supposed to have sterilized the Northeast by 1990. All we remember is the “crisis” of acid rain, not its details. It was then I realized that what was happening in the area of acid rain was also happening with other environmental issues.

In 1989 I worked at the Central Analytical Laboratory of the national acid rain monitoring network located at the University of Illinois. Here we had one of the world’s five General Circulation Models, commonly known as globalwarming models. The United Nations had set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to see what global warming means to the world. In 1989. its findings were presented to us at the University of Illinois.

Assuming that these models are representative of reality, scientists using first principles predicted that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the presumed climatic changes associated with it, would increase agricultural productivity by 15 to 40 percent, depending upon the region of the world. Similarly, global warming should increase average forest productivity as well as water resources (a warmer world is, on average, a wetter world). I nearly fell out of my chair. But then I realized that the reality-check of world history supports what these scientists were telling us. Historians and paleoecologists call the warmer period of the recent past the “Climate Optimum.” The world was a much better place to live in when it was warmer. The historic fact is that, relative to today’s world climate, global warming is “good” and global cooling is “bad.”

However, as with acid rain, the good news about “global warming” was censored, along with information showing that global-warming models—like those of acid rain—do not work in the first place. “We the People” hear none of this. Instead, we hear the United Nation’s Maurice Strong indict global warming as the “primary risk to the human future” and Vice-President Gore call for a New “Green” World Order. In other words, within ten years after earning my Ph.D., I came to know that environmentalism is fundamentally flawed.

As C.S. Lewis observed, the greatest evils are committed by perverting virtue, or, as I like to say, by abusing a just cause. In world history’s long string of abused just causes, the latest failed experiment in socioeconomic revolution—communism—illustrates the fundamental flaw of environmentalism. As noted by Francis Schaeffer among others, communism attracted many wellmeaning adherents with its idealistic language about the dignity of man, the end to the exploitation of man by fellow man, and so on. However, communism had to borrow this ideal from the West. Marxist philosophy was incapable of generating the concept of personal dignity. What is amazing is that people seriously attempted to do the absurd— to use communism to implement an idea that it was incapable of generating in the first place. The results were disastrous. As Russian President Boris Yeltsin told the United States Congress during his 1992 visit, “There is no human face of communism.” Solzhenitsyn’s estimate that the Soviet Union murdered over 66 million of its own citizens for purely political reasons—to end the exploitation of man by fellow man—appears to be essentially correct.

Today’s environmentalism also suffers from an inherent incompatibility between its goal of wise use—borrowed from the West’s Judeo-Christian values of stewardship—and its core philosophy of the perfect “Natural State.” Free markets in free societies compel us, in the most direct manner (increasing prosperity), to use nature ever more wisely. This is the real “Green Revolution.” However, the profit motive that compels us to produce more from less is called “greed” by environmentalists. Science that shows us how to use and waste less is called “unnatural.” Its technological application is called “exploitation.” Environmentalism’s core philosophy of the perfect “Natural State” is therefore killing the real Green Revolution because it is incapable of conceiving that man has any right to use nature, no matter how careful he is.

Ironically, as with communism before it, environmentalism attracts many well-meaning adherents with its idealistic language about living in harmony with nature. What is amazing is that people have seriously attempted to do the absurd—to use environmentalism to implement an idea that it was incapable of generating in the first place. The results are predictably disastrous. Environmentalists—whether admitted or not—will always find something wrong with, and ultimately oppose, whatever mankind does.

Take energy as an example. Because of acid rain, coal is now a “dirty fuel” that will have to be replaced. But with what? Certainly not another fossil fuel. (This leads to global warming.) Nuclear power? No, they say. It’s unsafe. And we don’t want anyone trying to make it safe either. We only want to use renewable sources of energy. But try putting in a dam someplace. Geothermal? They oppose it on aesthetics. Charles Kuralt did a Christmas special a few years ago titled “Gifts We Give Ourselves.” One of these “gifts” was stopping geothermal in Oregon. How “nice.” The televised May 12, 1992, hearing of the Senate Energy Committee showed that environmentalists are very “slick” in opposing geothermal wherever it is feasible and supporting it wherever it is not. Windmills? Again aesthetics, and in California they even complain that windmills kill birds. Environmentalists have even opposed cold fusion, which, if true, would be a totally unpolluting source of energy. Paul Ehrlich said, “the prospect of cheap, inexhaustible power from fusion is ‘like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.'” Jeremy Rifkin warned, “It’s the worst thing that could happen to our planet.” Ralph Nader and Barry Commoner also heaped abuse on it. Their objection? Not pollution. If true, it would be able effectively and cheaply to generate power. They were against power generation itself, as they made clear in the April 19, 1989, Los Angeles Times.

Thus, like communism before it, “purity” of lofty goals blinds environmentalism’s numerous well-meaning adherents to its horrendous bottom line. Bv adopting environmentalism as a personal meaning of life—as illustrated with acid rain—facts that do not support the cause are ignored. And “facts” are conveniently manufactured to support the prerequisite world view.

Many environmentalists readily recognize in others that such a personal philosophy is tantamount to intellectual suicide. However, these very same people commit precisely that, fiercely resisting anything that threatens their manufactured personal meaning of life. They deceive themselves with much talk about man altering the “delicate balance of nature” or about how to quote Vice-President Gore, “We are . . . bulldozing the Gardens of Eden” (Earth in the Balance, 1992). And so, I point out to environmentalists and nonenvironmentalists alike, this is no wav to save the planet or the human race; it is the surest way to trash it.