Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future / Edition 2

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Overview

<p>Despite widespread public support for environmental protection, a backlash against environmental policies is developing. Fueled by outright distortions of fact and disregard for the methodology of science, this backlash appears as an outpouring of seemingly authoritative opinions by so-called "experts" in books, articles, and appearances on television and radio that greatly distort what is or is not known by environmental scientists. Through relentless repetition, the flood of anti-environmental sentiment has acquired an unfortunate aura of credibility, and is now threatening to undermine thirty years of progress in defining, understanding, and seeking solutions to global environmental problems.<p>In this hard-hitting and timely book, world-renowned scientists and writers Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich speak out against what they call the "brownlash." Brownlash rhetoric, created by public relations spokespersons and a few dissident scientists, is a deliberate misstatement of scientific findings designed to support an anti-environmental world view and political agenda. As such, it is deeply disturbing to environmental scientists across the country. The agenda of brownlash proponents is rarely revealed, and the confusion and distraction its rhetoric creates among policymakers and the public prolong an already difficult search for realistic and equitable solutions to global environmental problems.<p>In Betrayal of Science and Reason, the Ehrlichs explain clearly and with scientific objectivity the empirical findings behind environmental issues including population growth, desertification, food production, global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, and biodiversity loss. They systematically debunk revisionist "truths" such as: <ul> <li>population growth does not cause environmental damage, and may even be beneficial <li>humanity is on the verge of abolishing hunger; food scarcity is a local or regional problem and is not indicative of overpopulation <li>there is no extinction crisis <li>natural resources are superabundant, if not infinite <li>global warming and acid rain are not serious threats to humanity <li>stratospheric ozone depletion is a hoax <li>risks posed by toxic substances are vastly exaggerated </ul> The Ehrlichs counter the erroneous information and misrepresentation put forth by the brownlash, presenting accurate scientific information about current environmental threats that can be used to evaluate critically and respond to the commentary of the brownlash. They include important background material on how science works and provide extensive references to pertinent scientific literature. In addition, they discuss how scientists can speak out on matters of societal urgency yet retain scientific integrity and the support of the scientific community.<p>Betrayal of Science and Reason is an eye-opening look at current environmental problems and the fundamental importance of the scientific process in solving them. It presents unique insight into the sources and implications of anti-environmental rhetoric, and provides readers with a valuable means of understanding and refuting the feel-good fables that constitute the brownlash.
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Editorial Reviews

Amicus Journal
With clear prose, clear concepts, and clear-eyed realism, the authors have managed to make abstract concepts of environmental science understandable and even compelling.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The time has come to write a book about efforts being made to minimize the seriousness of environmental problems." With that opening sentence, the authors The Stork and the Plow take on what they see as the purveyors of environmental disinformation. In a lively style, they systematically dismantle claims allegedly made in recent booksby the likes of Gregg Easterbrook, Stephen Budiansky, Rush Limbaugh, Dixy Lee Ray and Julian Simonthat global warming is fiction, ozone depletion should be of no concern and that the earth can support many times its current population. Chapters cover population growth, food supply, natural resources, species diversity, toxic substances, global warming and economics. In each, direct quotations from the anti-environmentalists named above are presented, dissected and refuted. With ample documentation and a great deal of input from some of the world's most renowned environmental scientists, such as Stephen Schneider, Peter Raven and Nobel laureate Sherwood Roland, the overall effect is powerful. 25,000 first printing; author tour. Oct.
Library Journal
Recently, several popular books have concluded that nothing is seriously wrong with the environment. The Ehrlichs label these critics of themselves and other environmental activists as leaders of the "brownlash." They forcefully argue that although some improvements have occurred, most environmental problems have not been solved but are in fact rapidly getting worse. Throughout their book, the Ehrlichs address questions raised by such writers as Dixie Lee Ray, Gregg Easterbrook, and Julian Simon, responding to doubts those writers have expressed about overpopulation, global warming, and natural resource limits and asserting that there is a solid consensus among serious scientists that these issues must be addressed if humanity is not to suffer severe consequences. While not without flaws, e.g., the authors make some assumptions of their own, this is a solid addition to popular environmental literature and should spark more debate about the extent and nature of current environmental problems.Randy Dykhuis, Michigan Lib. Consortium, Holt
Kirkus Reviews
The Ehrlichs (Healing the Planet, 1991, etc.) land a sober-sided sleeve across the collective windpipe of today's environmental glad-tiders.

"Brownlash" is what the Ehrlichs call "those efforts made to minimize the seriousness of environmental problems" still bedeviling planet Earth. This happy bunch—Gregg Easterbrook, Julian Simon, Dixy Lee Ray, et al.—have twisted the findings of empirical science and arrived at a body of antiscience, suggest the Ehrlichs, for less than ethical ends. The Ehrlichs have no issue with scientists who challenge conventional thinking, but they find repugnant the brownlash that is simply a vehicle for right-wing ideology or to further some economic or political goal. Since scientific knowledge is not one of the hallmarks of this country's population, the brownlashers have managed to sow seeds of doubt. So the husband-and-wife environmental science team explains once again overpopulation, global climate change, ozone depletion, and losses of biodiversity. They answer questions about the dangers with brisk, no-nonsense answers: They write about a population overshooting the carrying capacity of its turf; about renewable resources becoming nonrenewable due to rate of use; about long-term sustainability and ethical decency toward the Earth as intelligent goals. Sound familiar? The figures have been updated, the latest studies have been plumbed, but these are the same points the Ehrlichs have been fielding since 1970. That doesn't mean they're stuck in a rut, it's just that they got it right the first time around.

Ignorance is what allows the brownlashers a toehold. Learn what you can on a topic and make your own decisions, counsel the Ehrlichs. A little reflection, a little common sense, they'll wager, and the glad-tiders will be out on the street selling pencils.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559634830
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 A Personal Odyssey 1
Ch. 2 "Wise Use" and Environmental Anti-Science 11
Ch. 3 In Defense of Science 25
Ch. 4 The Good News . . . in Perspective 45
Ch. 5 Fables about Population and Food 65
Ch. 6 Fables about Non-living Resources 91
Ch. 7 Biological Diversity and the Endangered Species Act 107
Ch. 8 Fables about the Atmosphere and Climate 125
Ch. 9 Fables about Toxic Substances 153
Ch. 10 Fables about Economics and the Environment 175
Ch. 11 Faulty Transmissions 189
Ch. 12 How Can Good Science Become Good Policy? 203
Ch. 13 One Planet, One Experiment 213
App. A Brownlash Literature 217
App. B The Scientific Consensus 233
Notes 251
Index 321
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