My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Friday, April 22, 2005

Some optimism on the environment...

Here's an excerpt of an interview with Steven Hayward, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Pacific Research Center, who is the principal author of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators.
NRO: We've all seen the gross smog photos from Los Angeles. But is the air actually getting cleaner now? How is that happening?

Hayward: L.A. has had the most substantial improvement of any area in the nation. It used to notch almost 200 days a year above the ozone standard; for the last few years it has exceeded the standard less than 30 times a year. It still has the "worst" air, but the peak levels on the worst days today are only a third as high as when I grew up there and had to lay down on summer afternoons because my lungs hurt so bad from just 15 minutes outside. The main reason for the improvement is cleaner technology, especially in cars. The EPA's own models predict a further 80-percent reduction in emissions from cars over the next 20 years simply from fleet turnover, never mind whether we move to hybrids or other technologies. This is why I keep offering to bet any enviro $1,000 that air pollution will be lower at the end of Bush's presidency than when he took office. This is obviously modeled after the famous Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich bet on natural resources that Simon won. The greenies remember this, which is why none of the people who kvetch about Bush "gutting" the Clean Air Act will put their money where their mouth is.

NRO: Is global warming real or not?

Hayward: Yes, I think it is real, but how much warming, how fast, and how serious might be the effects, are questions still a long way from being answered. And it is far from clear that carbon suppression--the Kyoto strategy--is the smartest way to go about addressing the potential of problem. Certainly a costly international regulatory and taxing regime (the U.N.'s goal) is beyond stupid.

NRO: Is my SUV killing the Earth?

Hayward: No. It is a great myth that SUVs are greater polluters. True, they use more gasoline, but they now have the same emissions standards as all other automobiles, so replacing your old clunker with a new SUV will actually help clean up ozone smog in America. Because they use more gas, they do emit more carbon dioxide, but remember, carbon dioxide is not a noxious pollutant, but plant food.

NRO: What are some of the worst environmental-alarmist myths?

Hayward: It not so much a particular myth as it is the Malthuisian mindset that causes them to issue one doomsday prediction after another. Pick any prediction from the last 30 years from conventional environmentalists, and it was usually wrong, often by an order of magnitude. Greenies have learned from this: never offer specific dates. Nicholas Kristof put the matter well in a recent New York Times column: "environmental alarms have been screeching for so long that, like car alarms, they are now just an irritating background noise."