Eco-swindlers

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The True Story of DDT, PCB, and Dioxin
OFERTA WYDAWNICZA:
CHEMIA ORGANICZNA
ELEMENTARNA CHEMIA ORGANICZNA
ELEMENTARNA CHEMIA NIEORGANICZNA
Ekologiczne Klamstwa Ekowojowników
TEKSTY:
1. Szkodliwe mity ekologiczne
2. Persistent Ecological Myths
3. Eco-Swindlers
4. Pomaturalne uwagi o chemii w szkole
5. Argumenty przeciwko ekologicznym klamstwom
AUTOR

How The Humanity Is To Defend Itself Against Eco-swindlers And Believers In Supernatural Phenomena

Przemyslaw Mastalerz

They are not many, those swindlers who cheat by spreading falsehoods disguised as scientifically proven facts. There are perhaps not more than several thousands of them, or a few mill1ions at most if we count also those of the tiniest caliber, but they are noisy and, eagerly supported by the media, they are very well heard everywhere.

There are two categories of scientific swindlers. One category includes all sorts of doomsayers who insist that something very bad is going to happen if we disregard their warnings. To this category belong those who warn against the global warming, genetically modified food, cell phones and other electric appliances, pesticides, waste incineration, mineral fertilizers, atomic power plants and other alleged dangers. It is convenient to call them eco-swindlers because in their teaching they always refer to the environment. They are a rather new phenomenon, which appeared only about 50 years ago, together with the growing public awareness of environmental issues.

The second category includes astrologists, dowsers, homeopathic doctors and other kinds of healers. It is an ancient category. There were always astrologists and all kinds of shamans.

Swindlers of both categories claim that all their teachings have a strong base in physical sciences. This is their biggest lie, which needs to be opposed very strongly by scientific community.

My purpose is twofold. The first is to argue that all the claims propagated by scientific swindlers have long ago been disproved by science, although only few people seem to be aware of that fact. My second purpose is to propose measures which we should take to defend ourselves against the avalanche of falsehoods coming from newspapers, radio and television.

 

The global warming

The claims that global warming is coming and will have dire consequences to all mankind are based on the unquestionable facts that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising and that carbon dioxide is able to warm the atmosphere by preventing infrared radiation to escape into space. These facts are true but the environmentalists are making the grave error of assuming that carbon dioxide is the most important factor governing the temperature on our planet. With that assumption, they totally disregard other powerful factors, which were shaping the climate in the past. There is no reason to assume that these factors ceased to operate.

The history of the planet Earth is divided into periods of glaciations with permanent icecaps in polar regions and much warmer periods with no permanent ice cover. It follows that some powerful factors were always changing the climate on Earth.

We are now living in a cold period of glaciation which begun about two million years ago. During that time there were fluctuations of temperature and of the size of polar icecaps but no evidence was found for a corresponding variation of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

By accident we are living in one of the warmer periods which is about to end with a new ice age as did similar periods in the past two million years.

The last ice age ended about 15 thousand years ago when ice cover retreated from Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since then there was a series of alternating warmer and colder periods. The weather was cold when the Roman empire was collapsing but later, during the Middle Ages, the climate was warm with vineyards growing in England. Later the weather cooled so much that the period between 15th and 18h centuriesis known as the Little Ice Age.

It thus appears that it does not make much sense to invoke carbon dioxide as the most important factor of climate change as do the proponents of global warming. Nevertheless, the environmentalists were extremely successful in convincing the general public and state administrators in most countries that the threat of global warming is real, imminent and serious and that nations must undertake urgent actions to decrease the emission of carbon dioxide. The infamous Kyoto agreement demonstrates the strength of eco-swindlers and the weakness of the scientific community.

The dangers of global warming are now widely believed because of incessant propaganda in numerous internet papers and in all media. Even the textbooks for all levels of education are infected with false stories of what will happen if we do not limit the combustion of fossil fuels.

 

Genetically modified foods

Foods produced from genetically modified plants are being met with heavy opposition

in Europe. The reasons of European opposition are purely political. There are no scientific reasons for stopping genetic modification of plants or animals.

 

Cell phones and other electric appliances

The environmentalists claim that electromagnetic radiation emitted by electric appliances may cause cancers and other diseases. This is a particularly silly claim because billions of people were exposed to such radiation for many years and no single case of any disease related to electric appliances was ever found. It is impossible to explain why articles warning about the danger of radiation emitted from electric power lines, cell phones or TV sets continue to appear in scientific journals. Perhaps it is a case of dishonesty of some scientists.

 

Pesticides

The pesticides are chemicals used to exterminate crop-damaging animals and plants. The weed killers are known as herbicides while the insecticides are used to exterminate insects.

The herbicides were never seriously attacked by environmentalists while strong attacks were directed against many insecticides. For reasons which are difficult to explain without referring to historical details, the most vehemently opposed is DDT, which is the most efficient and the safest of all insecticides. DDT was banned after a long campaign involving evidently false claims that it is toxic to humans.

The number of lies related to DDT is truly amazing. Some of the better known are shown in table 1. It is important to know that all false claims concerning DDT were disproved by scientific experiments and epidemiological observations.

 

False claims related to DDT

False: DDT is toxic to humans and animals                 

True:  During more than 60 years of continous use DDT was never found to have caused human death or disease

False: DDT brought several bird species to verge of extinction

True: DDT was never a threat to bird populations. On the the contrary, bird populations increased during the most heavy use of DDT.

False: DDT is carcinogenic

True: It was demonstrated beyond any doubt that DDT is not carcinogenic

False: DDT was the cause of the epidemics of child paralysis in 1950

True: The most stupid lie ever told

 

Municipal waste incineration

Very few industrial procedures were opposed with such vehemence as the incineration of municipal waste. Several years ago the eco-swindlers were able to achieve the closure of many existing incineration plants and to prevent building of new ones but lately the common sense together with the economics are prevailing and incineration is becoming the method of choice for getting rid of garbage. However, the environmentalists still insist that segregation, recycling and composting are more friendly to the environment. They do not accept the fact that nothing is more friendly then clean combustion which produces only carbon dioxide, water vapor and harmless ash.

 

Mineral fertilizers

One of the most frequent manifestations of chemophobia is the claim that mineral fertilizers are dangerous to our health and that the only way to grow healthy food is through organic farming, which permits only the use of manure. It is difficult to understand why animal feces should be more healthy to humans than the phosphates and nitrates present in mineral fertilizers. Phosphates and, to lesser extent, also nitrates are natural components of human bodies. It follows that it does not make sense to try to eliminate phosphates and nitrates from our food by abstaining from the use of mineral fertilizers.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with organic farming except for the fact that the high yields necessary to feed the growing population can be achieved only through intensive farming with heavy application of mineral fertilizers.

 

Atomic power plants

The heavy opposition against electric power generation in atomic plants appears to be fading away with growing realization that atomic plants are safer than plants fired with coal because of the high death rate in coal mines. In addition, electricity from atomic plants is cheaper and its supply is more reliable than in the case of wind turbines and solar cells. In the past decades, when the fear of radiation prevailed, no new atomic power plants were built and the demolition of existing ones was considered but this seems to be over now.

The fear of radiation is also decreasing with growing realization that low radiation doses are harmless or even beneficial to living creatures.

 

Homeopathy

Aggressive and fraudulent advertising persuaded millions of sick people that homeopathic drugs bring relief or even heal all diseases even when the drug is pure water and nothing more. The homeopaths developed their trade into a semblance of science and thus increased the confidence of patients who willingly pay dearly for nothing but false hope. A law is needed which would force homeopaths to provide unequivocal evidence that their drugs are more effective than placebos.

 

Dowsing

Dowsing is the procedure of searching for water, oil and lost persons or things using a rod, pendulum or other devices which by their movements indicate the presence of the sought objects. Dowsing is a very old trade with millions of ardent believers in the whole world. The facts is, however, that no dowser was ever able to demonstrate his talents under controlled conditions. The most convincing evidence against dowsing is the fact that a prize of over one million dollars is offered to anybody who will demonstrate his or her ability to detect underground water by dowsing and the prize is not yet taken. Other arguments provide the dowsers themselves who claim to be able to detect underground water or oil by letting pendulums swing over maps. It is an evidence against dowsing because such ridiculous claims cannot be accepted as true unless we believe in miracles.

 

Astrology

Astrology is the study of the positions of stars in the belief that they affect human fate. It is difficult to understand why astrology is believed by many even now in the era of science. It would be very easy to show that the stars are not able to tell anything about our affairs but nobody seems to care and astrological swindle will be with us for many years to come. Astrology is not very harmful but the fact of cheating for money should not be tolerated.

 

How to oppose the frauds disguised as science

The scientist are not able to provide successful opposition because most of them do not care enough to voice their protest whenever they see a publication which is against science and reason. In addition, even if they wanted to speak up they would have problems with finding an opportunity to publish their protests because the media prefer to publish scaremongering enunciations rather than cool scientific statements.

To counteract the spread of falsehoods presented in a scientific disguise we need a better educated society. The scientists should pressure the educators to change the science curricula at all levels of education by introducing topics related to scientific swindles and insuring that the new topics are taught in accord with science and reason and not in accord with pseudoscientific beliefs. The changes need not be many but the new topics should be repeated many times at all levels. Here we should follow the example of eco-swindlers who owe their successes in convincing the public only to endless repetition of their claims. I propose teaching the following topics

1. The children should learn that DDT is more safe than any other known insecticide and that it saved many millions people from unnecessary death of malaria. They should also learn that the ban on DDT deprived poor people in mosquito-invested countries from the only cheap and effective weapon against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

2. The existing curricula include global warming but do not mention that the slight warming observed recently might be due to other causes than to carbon dioxide. Children should learn that the climate on Earth is variable with alternating cold and warm periods.

3. It is necessary to teach children that the electromagnetic radiation at the wavelength emitted by cell phones or TV sets is not absorbed by animal tissues and therefore is unable to do any harm.

4. Children must be reminded that genetic modification of plants and animals is being constantly performed by the nature itself albeit at a slow rate. Accelerating that process by scientists in their laboratories is not necessarily harmful. Billions are eating food derived from genetically modified plants with no harmful effects.

5. Children should be made aware that it would be silly to expect modern technology, which managed to send Man to the Moon, to be unable to burn cleanly our garbage. Present incinerators do not pollute the environment because they produce only water vapor, carbon dioxide and ash.

6. Schools should counteract any claims that nitrates present in mineral fertilizers are harmful. Everybody should learn than the bacteria living in human intestines produce about 50 mg of nitrates daily and they enter our bloodstream. The schools should also teach that organic farming is unable to feed the number of humans living now on Earth.

7. It is particularly important to dispel the fear which now surrounds atomic power plants. The curricula should include also the phenomenon of hormesis.

8. Children taught at school the truth about homeopathy would probably not try to treat their diseases with homeopathic drugs.

9. Dowsing does not do any harm except that it helps to create a false picture of our world. Schools should invite dowsers to demonstrate their skills. It is the surest way to convince the kids that dowsing is a hoax.

10. An interesting challenge to educators would be to design experiments to disprove the belief that the positions of stars affect our life. Whole classes should participate in critical analysis of horoscopes found in daily papers until everybody is convinced that it is silly to take horoscopes seriously.

The measures proposed here would probably help to lessen the impact of scaremongers and believers in supernatural phenomena but it will take time until the effects of the new teaching will become visible.

I am fully aware that the attempts to introduce the new teaching would be met with a vehement opposition of eco-swindlers and that their protests would be very difficult to overcome but one has to try.

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