Despite its possibly misleading title, Trashing the Planet is a tightly argued, well-written antidote to environmentalist disinformation, and a defense of reason, technology and, indirectly, capitalism.
“Our society is based on knowledge and facts,” says Dixy Lee Ray, a marine biologist and a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. “It is not based on wishful thinking … it is not based on emotion .. , it is not based on compassion, concern or sympathy.” This book is committed to bringing logic and truth—to bringing “a perspective based on reason”—to the emotionalist ooze of ecological Issues.
The author examines the facts about a host of environmental “crises” and reveals the exaggerations, omissions and distortions in which they are typically cloaked. For example, it is claimed, and widely accepted, that a “greenhouse effect,” due mainly to the increased generation of gases from fossil fuel plants, is leading to “global warming.” Ray points out, however, that “the largest source of greenhouse gas may well be termites, whose digestive activities are responsible for 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide and methane annually. This is ten times more than the present world production of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel.” On issue after issue, Ray establishes a rational context to counter the baseless assertions of environmentalists. On “deforestation,” for example, she writes: “In the U.S. the average annual wood growth is now more than three times what it was in 1920.” On asbestos: It does “no discernible harm to humans as building insulation,” yet its removal has been demanded by environmentalists; as a result, where the air in schoolrooms used to contain an infinitesimal concentration of asbestos, “after removal, that number typically rises to 20 to 40 fibers per cubic centimeter—a 40,000-fold increase.” On industrial pollution: “All of the air-polluting materials produced by man since the beginning of the industrial revolution do not begin to equal the quantities of toxic materials, aerosols and particulates spewed into the air from just three volcanoes: Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883, Mount Katmai in Alaska in 1912 and Jekla in Iceland in 1947.”
The author rejects the view that nature or the “environment” is an end in itself, to be considered apart from human purposes. She argues that we should applaud technology because it improves the environment—the environment of man. She reminds us that “nature is not kind to humans who abandon science and technology,” and that “electricity has done more to liberate woman than all the speeches and protests and affirmative action programs that have jolted our sensibilities.” Environmentalists, however—Ray writes—”believe that nature is sacred and that technology is a sacrilege.” The danger that the environmentalist movement poses to human life is patent.
Ray explains, for example, that “there are now approximately 60 to 100 million 46 O people who are dying each year as the direct or indirect result of anti-pesticide campaigns that have caused restrictions or bans on the products that could have prevented such deaths.” Moreover, “without deliberate human intervention, nature would soon eradicate the world’s food-producing capacity and unleash plagues of long-forgotten virulence. Huge numbers of humans would suffer and die. Is that what the ban-all-pesticides environmentalists want?” The unadulterated answer is: yes—and environmentalists openly declare it.
According to Paul Ehrich, for example: “Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.” Another environmentalist says: “We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change that will bomb us into the Stone Age.” Ray concludes that environmentalism has “a strongly negative element of anti-development, anti-progress, anti-technology, anti-business … and, above all, anti-capitalism.” Her own abundant evidence, however, shows that this is far more than an ‘ is at the heart of environmentalism, which preaches hostility to human values and to their source: human reason. Environmentalists are not for the are against man.
Trashing the Planet is a model of clarity and credibility. It is a stinging indictment of the ecology movement, and a resounding vote of confidence in technological progress.
This review is made available by the Ayn Rand Bookstore (formerly Second Renaissance Books)