I frequently have to tell people that I am a science writer, not a scientist. The only science course I took in college was zoology, and I passed it only because my paper on Procyon Lotor—raccoons—demonstrated an ability to do some good research and present it cogently.
In the decades since then I have had the opportunity to write about many science-based topics. It became evident that a huge portion of our society and worldwide is ignorant of how science functions and the incredible advances for mankind that it has provided.
It is this ignorance that is constantly exploited by the many environmental groups. Scaring people about the climate has been their bread and butter for decades, but a natural cooling cycle that is approaching two decades in a few years is killing that goose that laid so many golden eggs. The same is occurring for “renewable energy,” as Europe is beginning to regret pouring billions into wind energy while multi-million U.S. subsidies are on the chopping block as well.
The “food police” are generating a scare campaign about genetically modified food crops. As Dr. Jay Lehr, the Science Director of The Heartland Institute, pointed out in a December 2013 article, “Not one single human has been harmed by genetically improved food.” So, naturally, some Greens are pushing to have everything made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) subjected to warning labels.
Do you know who the first environmentalists were? Farmers! It is the original “green job,” because farmers were among the original users of renewable energy—the solar power—to grow their crops. They used wind power to draw water and grind grain into flour. They built irrigation systems to make more efficient use of water.
When the United States declared its independence, the nation was largely composed of farmers. Now less than 2% of the population grows enough food to feed all of us and have plenty left over to export. The current exception to this is California’s central valley — when farmers have been denied water to save the lives of bait fish — smelt. They’re getting no help from the federal government either.
Throughout the last century the American Farm Bureau Federation and state farm bureaus were leaders in conservation tillage, well-water testing, and many other environmental improvements. As one observer noted, “Long after the current excitement about the Green economy has worn off, American farmers and ranchers will remain green collar workers as they have always been—efficient producers of food, fiber, and fuel and stewards of natural resources.
In the meantime, we are subjected to celebrities like Al Gore, Bill Maher, and Daryl Hannah, none of whom has a science degree. The outspoken actors, Ed Begley, Jr., and Leonardo Dicaprio, only have a high school diploma; many others who opine on environmental issues are literally high school dropouts. A long list of news media personalities has no science degree. They include ABC’s Sam Champion, NBC’s Matt Lauer, and CBS’s Harry Smith. CBS’s Scott Pelley is a college dropout.
Among the scientists, many have degrees in areas that do not reflect meteorology or climatology. They include Bill Nye — known as the “science guy” –who has a degree in mechanical engineering.
As Dr. Lehr points out, “There is little food on the plate of humans anywhere that has not been genetically improved.” This goes back four thousand years to the creation of wine. In 1862, an Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel, began to crossbreed simple garden peas to improve their taste, yield, and strength. Thirty years later his work on the subject was published in the journal of the Royal Society of London, “and the new agricultural science of hybridization was born to improve our food.”
Writing in the February edition of Wheat Life, a publication for Washington state farmers, John Moffatt, a wheat breeder for Syngenta, noted that “Wheat is not only the largest crop in the world with acreage surpassing that of even corn and soybeans, it is also one of the most complex.” Sygenta is one of North America’s leading wheat genetic research companies, responsible for helping farmers grow profitable wheat with research that begins with seeds that undergo a certification process. Their crop varieties consistently outperform saved seed in yield, quality, and test weight.
“If genetic labeling laws are passed throughout the United States,” warns Dr. Lehr, “it will severely set back the scientific and human health benefits of genetic food advances. Billions of people around the world have consumed genetically modified food since it became widespread during recent decades. Billions more will benefit from such foods in the coming decades.”