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The “Precautionary Principle”, Keystone XL, Cell towers and Bug Killer

March 9, 2013

This is an update to my earlier posting below.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Richard Tren called “Environmentalists Try to Squash a Bug Killer” is the latest example of enviro-nuts using the “precautionary prinicple” to attempt to ban a successful insecticide, without a shred of evidence that it’s causing harm.  Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of agricultural insecticides that environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety blame for colonies of bee die-offs.  However, there is not a bit of evidence to support them, so why do the go after successful chemicals that help people? According to Tren,

Part of the reason is surely that insecticides are produced by large multinational companies that make them more inviting villains to pursue than the varroa mite (another possible reason for bee die-offs).  Another reason is the traditional environmentalist hostility toward modern technology.  In reality, the development of hybrid seeds, genetically modified crops and other technologies, such as insecticides, means that more food is produced than ever before, on less land, to feed the world’s growing population”

Mr. Tren is director of Africa Fighting Malaria, a nonprofit.  Surely his fight against Malaria, which has once again become a disease that kills millions each year, after nearly being eradicated before the cries of alarm by Rachel Carson in ‘Silent Spring”.  The reason Mr. Tren’s non-profit exists at all is because of the harm done due to the “precautionary principle” of the left.

The decades-long protests against DDT, the first modern insecticide, relied on shoddy science and deprived missions o a safe and effective weapon against malaria.  Campaigns against insecticides have dampened research and development and raised the cost of bringing a new insecticide to market.  The danger with these campaigns, including the one against neonicotinoids, is that the pipeline of new products will dwindle, making food production ever more difficult.  Activists may romanticize the life of farmers before the advent of science-based technologies in the 20th century.  But there is nothing romantic about malnutrition, something the world is beating precisely because of innovation.


President Obama recently rejected approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  By doing this, he rejected energy independence for  America, and also rejected tens of thousands of good paying jobs for Americans.

However, he may have been doing right thinking people a favor, in that he uncovered the environmentalist left use of the “precautionary principle” to justify their real motive – which is not to protect the environment at all – but to slow the progress of industry and which appeals to the affluent.  According to William Tucker who writes in the American Spectator on January 20:

People who are already comfortable with the present state of affairs – who are established in the environment, so to speak – are happy to go along with this.  It is not that they have any greater insight into the mysteries and working of nature. They are happier with the way things are.  In fact, environmentalism works to their advantage.  The main danger to the affluent is not that they will be denied from improving their estate but that too many other people will achieve what they already have.  As the Forest Service used to say, the person who built his mountain cabin last year is an environmentalist.  The person who wants to build one this year is a developer.

Tucker goes on to say about Environmentalism

It has spent decades trying to pretend it has common cause with the working people.  With the defeat of the Keystone Pipeline, this is no longer possible.  Too many blue-collar and middle-class jobs have been sacrified on the altar of carbon emissions and global warming.

So, what is the “precautionary principle” and where does it fit in?  According to Wikipedia the precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.  In other words, it’s the commonsense axiom of “better safe than sorry”.  While this holds true in many cases, the environmental leftists have a bad habit of using the precautionary principle most in cases where there are human made actions, but does not when it’s mother nature causing the action.

One of the best examples of the use of the precautionary principle by environmentalists to enact their agenda and cause untold harm to mankind is the entire Rachel Carson assault on DDT during the 60’s.  Up until then, DDT had been effective for years towards eliminating the mosquito population causing malaria, and the disease had almost been totally eradicated globally, saving millions of lives.  When radical environmentalists suspected, but could not prove, that DDT was harming eagle populations, they effectively prevented the use of the chemical because they “thought” it “might” be harmful…..without one single shred of scientific proof.  The effect is that today, malaria is again killing huge numbers needlessly because of the precautionary principle.

Obama and his administration, because of “possible” harm to the environment that is both unlikely and preventable, refuses to allow energy development or refining that will bring economic security to our country and its citizens, all because of the precautionary principle.

This principle is regularly used by the left to stop any progress or iniative that might change their status quo and work to their advantage.  Case in point in Gardiner NY.  The Town of Gardiner has suffered from a large gap in cell service for many years, and it’s been a complaint of both the rescue and fire responders both from the GFD and the Shawangunk Valley Fire Department.  It’s hard to save someone if they can’t call you and you can’t locate them.  Gardiners first attempt to put up a tower ended with the enviro-nazis suing and winning against the town.  Their current attempt is to put a tower on town owned land at the rear of the town hall property off of Rt 44/55.   The process has been moving along for about a year now, and SLAM!  The “precautionary principle” is in play again.

This time, it’s major screamfest protest by the people who regularly jump out of perfectly sound planes in Gardiner.  The owners of the Ranch skydiving club, and it’s purveyors of jumping, are actually saying that the cell tower should not be sited where it it…..get this….because someone might jump out of an airplane and land into the tower.  You heard it right.

So, using their thinking, I assume that the town, in order to fully protect these jumpers-out-of-planes – should remove the town hall tower, the church steeple(s), all trees over a certain height, because jumpers might fall into them.  Oh, and they should remove the roads, cars, houses, people….basically all objects, because a jumper might fall out of an airplane into them!  Maybe put down huge air mattresses across the entire town, just in CASE a jumper falls out of an airplane and hits something.

Or, how about instead, we erect the cell tower, which will increase the safety of every single person in town, and eliminate the jumping out of planes, of course because of the precautionary principle?  That would make too much sense.  Instead of “better safe than sorry” it would be “look before you leap.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jackie S. permalink
    January 23, 2012 1:19 pm

    You’r kind of harsh on skydivers who probably bring a certain amount of income to your area. Having been a skydiver who jumped in Gardiner back in the 70’s I feel sad that they are being accused of being radicals by people that want the public to believe in individual freedom and liberty. If you want to experience same you should jump from a plane alone, unassisted by anyone just one time, you may feel enslave once again when you feet touch the ground. I may not agree with the call to prevent the installation of a cell tower but please don’t make these folk out to be crazy or villainous simply because some may “protest” something you support. Maybe you should try to convince them that one of them may benefit from the cell tower one day when one of the rare emergencies that can accompany their sport occurs. I’m an FOL student and am disappoint in this post as I can come down on both sides of the issue. We have to approach difference considering each side. This has been a reminder of that and a good lesson to remember.

    • January 23, 2012 5:03 pm

      Point taken. My slant did sort of make what they said seem childish. So, I’ll back off, and not say this about ALL skydivers, by the way many that I know myself. I have nothing against them myself. However, this viewpoint came directly from the owner of the “Ranch” skydiver club, who is the one indicating that the safety issue is for skydivers as the tower might be “in their way”. I’m not making this up. The main reason we need cell service is for emergency services – both for users and providers….not a few who end up being skydivers. However,their “protest” is a perfect example of the sometimes absurdity of using the precautionary principle to discourage any development. By the way, the proposed cell tower backs into a large stand of trees, almost as tall as the tower, but no one is proposing cutting down all the trees in Gardiner because a skydiver might fall into one.

      • Jackie S. permalink
        January 23, 2012 5:35 pm

        Seems a little silly to me too as and if that is the case they should lose their bid to not have a cell tower in that location. I hope common sense prevails for all concerned.

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