A Review of “25 Myths that are Destroying the Environment”

By Andy May

The new book, 25 Myths that are Destroying the Environment, by Daniel B. Botkin, is a bit light on science and a breezy read. But, it makes some good points. All of us are for clean air and water, but as Peter Schwartz once wrote, the modern environmental movement is “anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-human.” The radical environmentalists of today latch onto mythical assertions that have no basis in fact; but support the idea that man is bad, man is “destroying” the planet and the natural “balance” of nature. Dr. Botkin, an ecologist and biologist of some note, addresses these assertions. He has held positions at Yale, the University of California at Santa Barbara, George Mason University and Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. He is a prolific and well cited writer, this is his 16th book on ecology, the environment and science.

We agree with most of the points in the book, but it doesn’t help that in the foreword to the book, by Alfred Runte, we see the following unsubstantiated and clearly false statement:

“Say everyone believed the Earth to be cooling instead of warming. Would we still not want to curtail the use of fossil fuels? Of course, we would, because they are pollutants.”

This assertion not only contradicts the whole point of the book, which is we need to be skeptical of environmentalist’s myths and look to the facts and science, but it is clearly wrong. Fossil fuels are largely responsible for our current high standard of living, our long life spans and arguably played a significant role in eliminating slavery. As Alex Epstein noted in his book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, in the modern world cheap energy from fossil fuels replaces slaves and servants.

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