Earth Day 1998 Fact Sheet

Myths and Facts About the Environment

Myth: The temperature of the planet has been rising at such an alarming rate that the U.S. and other nations must act immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact: NASA's TIROs series of satellites indicate that there has been a slight cooling trend of 0.04° Celsius per decade (0.72° Fahrenheit) since 1979. These findings have been corroborated by weather balloons. Ground-based measurements have shown a slight warming trend of 0.1°-0.15° Celsius (0.18°-0.27° Fahrenheit) per decade, but at a rate significantly lower than computer projections. The argument that global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate are based solely on computer projections that have been consistently wrong. Source: "Kyoto Earth Summit Information Center Fact Sheet," The National Center for Public Policy Research, Contact: David Ridenour @ (202) 507-6398, e-mail:, Web:


Myth: The excesses of free enterprise are responsible for most environmental degradation and underscore the need for greater regulation of business and industry.

Fact: Economic freedom permits the wealth generation that makes environmental protection possible. As environmental authority Indur Goklany notes, environmental quality improves "almost immediately as the level of affluence increases above subsistence." This explains why communist countries, which have centrally-planned (read: regulated) economies, have the world's worst environmental records. During the last ten years of the Cold War, for example, carbon monoxide levels rose in East Germany by 6.5% but dropped in West Germany by 39%. Today, five of the ten most polluted cities in the world are located in China. Sources: True State of the Planet, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Contact: Jonathan Adler @ 202/331-1010, Web: and "Forget PCBs. Radon. Alar.," New York Times Magazine.


Myth: Wetlands, which are said to sustain nearly one-third of the nation's rare plant and wildlife, are disappearing.

Fact: The U.S. experienced a net gain of 69,000 acres of wetlands in 1995. Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute, Contact: Jonathan Tolman @ 202/331-1010, Web:


Myth: Scientists agree that failing to respond to the threat of global warming now could prove disastrous for some parts of the globe.

Fact: A survey of over 400 German, American and Canadian climate researchers conducted by the Meteorologisches Institut der Universitat Hamburg and the GKSS Forschungszentrum found that 67% of those surveyed either disagreed or were uncertain about the proposition that global warming will occur so quickly that lack of preparation could prove disastrous. Source: "The Myth of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming," National Center for Public Policy Research, Contact: David Ridenour @ (202) 507-6398, e-mail:,Web:


Myth: The U.S. Forest Service subsidizes the timber industry.

Fact: The U.S. Forest Service -- like private, county and state timber owners -- sells most of its timber to the highest bidder in competitive auctions. The market place, not the Forest Service, sets the price. The Forest Service loses money on timber sales due to bureaucratic inefficiency. Unlike many state and private timber operations, the Forest Service is under no obligation to turn a profit on timber sales and thus has little incentive to keep costs low. For example, the St. Louis County Minnesota Land Department spent just $12.61 to produce a thousand board feet of timber from 1990-1993 while the Forest Service spent $34.12 to produce the same amount from Superior National Forest. Source: "Turning a Profit on Public Forests," Political Economy Research Center, Contact: Don Leal @ 406/587-9591, Web:


Myth: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a vital law that protects wildlife and plant life.

Fact: Since it was enacted in 1973, over 900 plant and animal species have been added to the ESA's "endangered" and "threatened" species lists. Of that number, only eight have made their way off these lists. Not one of the delistings was due to species recovery attributable to the ESA. Source: "Conservation Under the Endangered Species Act: A Promise Broken," National Wilderness Institute, Contact: Rob Gordon @ 703/836-7404, Web:


Myth: Pesticides pose a serious threat to both the environment and to human safety and should be phased out.

Fact: Pesticides today have shorter half-lives than those used in the 1960s and 1970s, posing less risk to human beings. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, which are more persistent and tend to accumulate in animal tissue, account for just 5% of all pesticides today. During the 1960s half of all pesticides were made from these substances. Pesticides also have positive environmental side effects. Notes Dr. Norman Borlaug, "Had our country tried to achieve the 1980 [food] production employing the... technology of 1940, it would have required the cultivation of an additional 437 million acres of land." Sources: "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, Contact: Erin Schiller @ 415/989-0833, Web: and Eco-Sanity: A common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism, The Heartland Institute, Contact: Joe Bast @ 847/202-3060, Web:


Myth: Depletion of the ozone layer increases the risk of deadly skin cancers.

Fact: Depletion of the ozone layer has no effect on the risk of deadly skin cancers. The ozone layer blocks UV-B radiation, but it does not block UV-A radiation. UV-A radiation has been linked to malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. UV-B has been linked to only two types of skin cancer, neither of which is life-threatening. Source: "Myths and Facts About the Environment -- Part II: The Hole in the Ozone Layer," The National Center for Public Policy Research, Contact: David Ridenour @ (202) 507-6398, e-mail:, Web:


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