Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2002 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Using pollution "scare labeling" to political advantage


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Words change meaning over time. Sometimes this happens "naturally," in response to social and cultural changes. Go back a couple centuries, call your friend "intelligent" or your priest "enthusiastic," and you've made two new enemies; at that time, "intelligent" meant sneaky, and "enthusiastic" meant unwholesomely and excessively possessed. Sometimes the changes are forced from above: George Orwell's "Newspeak" (War Is Peace, Freedom is Slavery), Hitler's "Word Rules," the gangrene terminologies of Marxist dictatorship.

And sometimes, words change meaning by losing meaning - deliberately. The Mandarins and Gauleiters of Political Correctness know how it's done. Racism, homophobia, genocide, rape - all have been stretched beyond rational usage as means of political intimidation and control.

Latest candidate for inclusion in the Dictionary of Tortured Terminologies: "pollution." And as always when the meaning of a word is expanded, there's an agenda afoot.

Today, "pollution" means anything you want it to, even if it is good for you (or the world) in the right dosage. True, even now, some dictionaries carry the outdated definition of "pollution" as "the introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment." The key determinant was harm. No injury, no harm; no harm, no pollution.

Self-evident, almost. But what exactly is harm? As we've remarked before, every harmful substance or agent is harmless in low doses; in fact, many substances harmful in high doses are helpful or even essential to life in lower doses.

Aspirin, Vitamin A, iron, Vitamin C, water, ionizing radiation, and even oxygen come to mind.

Further, harm cannot be measured in isolation; trade-offs are always involved. Even though urban air pollution increased dramatically during the Industrial Revolution, so did life expectancy, due to the beneficial material advances that Revolution wrought. But today, perhaps because we're living longer and healthier lives, some now regard nearly all theoretical and remotely potential threats to themselves and the "environment" (another tortured word) as unacceptable pollutants.

This trend probably started with ionizing radiation, for example, from the atmospheric "fallout" of the early nuclear era. Demagogic scientists, such as Linus Pauling who invented unfounded fear of low radiation doses, did their parts. So did technology; increasingly sensitive tests could detect many agents, such as radiation, at levels far below the threshold of harm. Pesticides, ditto. Myriad industrial chemicals, the same.

And of course, there's the latest fad of "global warming" caused, in part, by that most natural and useful of "pollutants," carbon dioxide. Some people worry that changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might possibly contribute to warming of the earth's climate over the next century. Even though these projections are based only on theoretical calculations and even though the changes would be tiny and even though the earth's climate was warmer in past good times (such as in the Medieval Warm Period when the Vikings found Greenland green and grew grapes there), some people want to control carbon dioxide. Toward what end? Even if totally successful, the controls might possibly cool the world's climate by less than an immeasurable one-half of one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. The true beneficiaries would be power-hungry bureaucrats - international, national and local - who would expand their control and income.

Have we forgotten that plants thrive on carbon dioxide?

Yet another example, far too typical of what passes for science nowadays. Researchers have found that abnormal genital organ developmental in some male laboratory rats follows experimental doses of di-2ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP). DEHP is present, in tiny amounts, in the life-saving plastics used to make millions of very useful medical products, such as intravenous (IV) fluid bags and tubes. The evidence is that monkeys (and other primates, such as humans) aren't sensitive to these doses and that rats are unusually sensitive. The FDA admits "Everyone is exposed to small levels of DEHP in everyday life." and "We have not received reports of these adverse events in humans, but there have been no studies to rule them out." Yet even without evidence, the FDA warns us to avoid plastic IV bags, if possible.

Verdict first, trial later. Once again, the deal-makers, including lawyers, would be the beneficiaries.

We would suggest that the agenda goes far beyond using pollution "scare labeling" to advance political power and anti-capitalist, anti-growth, anti-western policies. It involves nothing less than a redefinition of both human beings and the planet we inhabit. We're no longer dynamic, rugged, adaptive systems. We're weak. We're vulnerable. "Those of the Agenda" want us to believe that without constant protection, achieved via minute and coercive regulation by the social engineers, we and the planet would succumb to even the mildest of threats.

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Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical- legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

Up

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© 2002