Overheated White House Environmental Campaigns

CHURCHVILLE, VA–It was only a matter of time before First Lady Michelle Obama sprang to the wall of the White House Organic Garden and demanded more organic food–a heartfelt campaign fully as sincere as her husband’s ongoing demand that the affluent countries fight off man-made global warming by taxing away most of their energy. However, both the First Lady’s and the President’s campaigns share the same problem: Both are based on politically-correct illusions.

Mrs. Obama’s moment came earlier this month when she invited fifth-grade students to join her at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and share an early harvest from the White House Organic Garden. The menu: brown rice, baked chicken and fresh snapped peas. We’re sure it was delicious.

Mrs. Obama understandably touted the freshness of the peas–and nothing’s fresher or more local than vegetables picked from a backyard garden. Unfortunately, Mrs. Obama would have us believe that modern farming’s food is less healthful and nutritious than food grown the old-fashioned, organic way. But, then, why do Africans today, eating all-organic diets, still expire 30 years younger than their Western counterparts? Why no age adjusted increase in cancer rates, except among smokers?

Could it be that the health of the First World’s offspring is enhanced, not only by modern vaccines and pharmaceuticals, but by food abundance that is protected by the same life-saving principles of chemistry applied to fending off such natural pests as potato blight, bacterial wilt, leafhoppers, and aphids?

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Marion Burros of The New York Times sneered about a critical letter to Mrs. Obama from the Mid-America Croplife Association, defending chemicals, that “the group euphemistically called ‘crop protection products.'” Apparently Ms. Burros hasn’t spent much time with a hoe in her hand, watching the Colorado potato beetles gnaw the leaves off her potato plants and spider mites sucking the juices from her beans and raspberries.

The very heart of organic farming is a refusal to use industrial fertilizer. But without nitrogen fertilizer, the planet would immediately suffer the worst famine in all history, with half of humanity dying within a year or so. We don’t have enough manure to fertilize enough food organically. Famine is a harsh recipe coming from the First Lady of a rich country.

Similarly, the President has said on global warming, “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.” Fortunately for the world, not a single one of those claims is accurate.

* Sea levels have risen only 6 inches per century for the past 300 years–and they stopped rising in 2003.

* Any discussion of record drought should include the two century-long droughts that struck California in the 9th and 14th centuries. We’ve had nothing recent to match them.

* Antarctic sea ice extent has been record-large in recent years.

* The British Navy logged twice as many major, landfalling hurricanes per decade in the Caribbean during the Little Ice Age as were recorded during the “warming” of 1950-2000.

* We’ve had no “spreading famine” during the Modern Warming, just a doubling of world food prices as more corn and rapeseed were diverted from food to biofuels.

The global climate computer models, incredibly, have been programmed without any knowledge of the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming and 500 previous global warmings that have arrived as part of the warming/cooling cycle every 1,500 years–thanks to the sun, cosmic rays, and low, wet clouds that deflect solar heat back into outer space.

The White House should double check its realities.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to [email protected]

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