Planet Gore

Unintended Global Consequences

What better time than Earth Day to reflect upon a few of the calamities that we humans have visited upon the environment and ourselves. We would do well to remember that even the best of intentions can prove deadly when, in our preoccupation with precaution, we fail to contemplate the unintended consequences of our actions.
‐Millions of pounds of apples were left to rot and family orchards were lost to foreclosure following reports that Alar, a common ripening agent, was the most potent cancer-causing compound in the food supply. The American Council on Science and Health later revealed that a child would have to drink 19,000 quarts of apple juice every day for the rest of their life to consume the same amount of Alar fed to mice during tests for cancer.
Beyond these tragic missteps, laudable progress has been made in improving environmental quality. But it is not enough simply to say that along with the good comes the bad. The miscalculations that have cost so many lives were entirely foreseeable and wholly preventable. The value they offer us this Earth Day is as a reminder to reject zealotry and demand sound science in environmental policy; to reject scaremongering and demand facts from the media; and to resist the notion that government control of natural resources is necessarily more beneficial than the free exercise of property rights and the common law to protect the natural bounty that we hold so dear.
– Diane Katz is director of risk, environment, and energy policy studies at the Fraser Institute.

Diane KatzKathryn Jean Lopez is the former editor and current editor-at-large of the widely read and cited daily webzine, National Review Online, where she has written and edited for more than a ...


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