February 03, 2004,
International environmentalists finally are being held accountable for the havoc they are wreaking around the world. On January 20, the Congress of Racial Equality a 62-year-old, New York-based civil rights group and the Women's National Republican Club convened a Manhattan teach-in to begin educating the public on a problem they call "eco-imperialism." The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will explore this issue at a Wednesday-afternoon hearing on Capitol Hill.
Countless third worlders still plunge into darkness every dusk. After they fall asleep, they dream about such things as lights, running water, and the defeat of diseases that Westerners cannot even remember. Then these third worlders awaken...to none of the above.
American and European environmentalists help maintain this grim status quo, even as they claim to pursue the best interests of black, yellow, and brown people the world over. Meanwhile, these first-world citizens enjoy refrigerators, indoor plumbing, Internet access, and CAT scans. This toxic hypocrisy is the core of eco-imperialism.
Panelists at this symposium, which I moderated, illustrated how eco-imperialism sentences billions to destitution, disease, and early graves.
Some 2 billion people on Earth have no electricity, explained Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death. "Wealthy, powerful First World environmental pressure groups are seeing to that," added Driessen (like me, a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation). "Their comments reveal an unbelievably callous, paternalistic, eco-centric attitude."
Listen to the Earth Island Institute's Gar Smith: "African villagers used to spend their days and evenings sewing clothes for their neighbors, on foot-peddle-powered sewing machines. Once they get electricity, they spend too much time watching television and listening to the radio."
Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, transforms this prejudice into policy. "It's just not possible for people to have the material lifestyle of the average American. I'm proud that we've been able to block almost 300 hydroelectric projects in developing countries."
The same paucity of hydroelectric dams that keeps third-world homes, workplaces, and clinics dark also limits the water treatment that dams facilitate. Rather than turn on faucets, poor women often take water buckets to wells and streams, then carry them home on their heads. When this water is tainted, they and their loved ones frequently suffer diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and other intestinal ailments that kill some 6,000,000 annually.
Meanwhile, malaria wipes out approximately 1,000,000 Africans every year, mainly boys and girls. "That is roughly like filling seven Boeing 747s with children and crashing them into the ground every day," said the American Enterprise Institute's Roger Bate, "a September 11 every 36 hours." The best and cheapest tool against malarial mosquitoes is DDT, an insecticide that environmental and aid groups hate. The World Health Organization and America's Agency for International Development, among others, have pressured African, Asian and Latin governments to abandon DDT, arguing that it jeopardizes birds, as may have occurred in America due to widespread agricultural use until 1972.
"Would you choose a bird, or would you choose Fifi?" asked astonished Ugandan businesswoman Fiona "Fifi" Kobusingye. She mesmerized her audience with riveting details about how malaria has killed her son, two sisters, and two nephews, one of them as she herself was hospitalized with the disease.
"I have suffered high fevers for days, vomited until I thought I had no stomach left," she said. "Dehydrated, thirsty and weak, sometimes I could not tell day from night." Malaria often makes its victims too listless to move, leaving family breadwinners bedridden and turning workers into wards of indigent states.
Africans beg for DDT. Spraying it in small amounts in homes, buses, and factories curbs this plague. In 1996, when South Africa "wanted to belong to the Western club that didn't use DDT," says AEI's Roger Bate, malaria cases shot from a few thousand to 65,000 in one season. The reintroduction of DDT in 2000 cut malaria rates by 80 percent in 18 months. Despite such successes, anti-pesticide treaties and other regulations environmentalists imposed have hiked the cost and curtailed access to DDT.
Before they do further harm, the eco-imperialists should stop smelling the roses and instead listen to those they have betrayed, such as one woman from India's Gujarat province. Exasperated, she told Great Britain's Channel 4: "We don't want to be encased like a museum."