Some Environmental Myths
An interesting study, yet to be done, is how people obtain information
and what is viewed as credible
Reasons that myth propogation is easy in today's society:
- We live in a sound bite world
- Attention span is now an oxymoron
- Intrinsic paranoia that the government always lies
- Intrinsic mistrust of data; people think "scientists"
are trying to fool them with numbers
- "Well I heard that ...." takes the place of factual
- Absolution of personal responsibility blame it all
on a volcano or something ...
- Strong belief in conspiracy theories (as if anyone was
sufficiently organized these days to even do this!)
The X-files are all True
Myth propogation is serious - we can't solve any environmental
problem if we don't understand its origin! The problem is that most
legends are gounded in a small grain of truth.
Since people believe anything, its possible to amplify this small
grain into an entire theory.
- One needn't worry about population growth in the United States, because it's still nowhere near as
densely populated as - for example - the Netherlands.
- Predictions of a "population explosion" were wrong because they were based on past trends that
are no longer valid.
- Modern medicine has eliminated one big threat connected with overpopulation, the spread of
- There is no need to be concerned about world hunger; feeding the world's population is a
problem of distribution, not supply.
- Advances in agriculture will soon eliminate the remaining pockets of hunger.
- Humans have altered only a small portion of the Earth.
- Almost 90 percent of Brazil's coastal forests have been cleared, but not a single known species
could be proven extinct as a result.
- The Endangered Species Act shows that the government cares more about animals than about human welfare.
- Old-growth forests are not necessary to preserve northern spotted owls.
- The Endangered Species Act is too strong and should be scaled back.
Climate Change and Ozone Depletion Myths
Toxic Substances Myths
- Global warming is not a major environmental problem.
- There is no evidence that global warming is real.
- Global warming exists only in computer simulations.
- The atmosphere has actually cooled since 1979, according to accurate satellite-based
- Since carbon dioxide is responsible for only one percent of the greenhouse effect, increasing
concentrations in the atmosphere are of no concern.
- It is unlikely that human beings can really influence the overall climate, because there are a
million tons of air for each person on Earth.
- The less than one-half degree of temperature rise - all that global warming enthusiasts can find -
is probably part of the slow recovery from the "Little Ice Age."
- There is plenty of time to adjust to changes in climate.
- Certain places on the Earth are getting colder, not warmer, disproving the theory of global
- Just a few decades ago, climatologists were concerned about global cooling. Scientists are
obviously confused about the issue.
- If global warming is occurring, there's probably not much we can do about it anyway.
more Global Warming Myths
- The annual ozone hole that appears over Antarctica was first measured in 1957, long before
supposed ozone-depleting chemicals were in common use.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can't rise into the stratosphere and deplete ozone, because their
molecules are too heavy.
- CFCs are not likely to be the source of the chlorine that is depleting the ozone layer because
volcanoes are a much more prolific source of chlorine.
- Doubling ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation over the Antarctic would be roughly equivalent to the
natural increase a person would experience by traveling south from Chicago to New Orelans.
- If there is in fact some reduction in the ozone layer, the appropriate way to avoid additional cases
of skin cancer would be to provide more sunglasses, more hats, and more suntan lotion.
- Without pesticides, starvation would stalk the planet.
- The dangers of dioxin are vastly overrated. Exposure to dioxin is considered by some experts to
be no more risky than spending a week sunbathing.
- Too many chemicals have been overregulated.
Economics and the Environment Myths
- Unregulated capitalism is good for the environment; the profit motive will lead people to be good
stewards of the land.
- The United States can't afford stronger environmental protection; it would interfere with GNP
- Countries get greener as GNP grows
- The burden of environmental regulations is reducing the competitivene
- Stricter environmental regulations will cost American jobs by forcing industries to relocate in
nations with weaker standards.
- Economics, not ecology, should guide policy decisions.
Some Resources to combat mythology: