April 4, 2006
Speech by Prominent Ecologist Raises Issues about Unscientific Environmental Claims
OAKLAND, CARecent news reports that a prominent ecologist advocated death for most of the population as a means of saving the Earth is stirring debate in the scientific community. Eye-witnesses to a talk by biology professor Eric R. Pianka, sponsored by the Texas Academy of Science at the University of Texas, Austin, reported that Pianka even spoke approvingly of a deadly pandemic from the ebola virus. Pianka, who reportedly said the public wasnt ready to hear what he had to say, claims his remarks were misunderstood.
What boggles the mind isnt that a lone scientist made loopy predictionsits that the scientists he addressed gave him a standing ovation, said Carl P. Close, academic affairs director of the Independent Institute and co-editor of the book, Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy (Independent Institute, 2006).
Rather than bestow honors on Pianka, the scientific community should censure him for his profoundly unscientificand dangerousrants, Close continued. Too often scientists have let slide the dubious public statements made by their peers, even though those claims would not get published in a leading peer-reviewed academic journal.
In his book Re-Thinking Green (co-edited by Robert Higgs), Close and other scholars show that irresponsible environmental claims have led politicians to hastily adopt numerous laws that have impeded improvements in environmental quality, restricted individual liberty and hampered economic prosperity.
These failures of environmental policy, Close and his co-authors claim, warrant a new approach to environmental policyone which recognizes that special-interest groups, including ideological extremists, have often had a detrimental influence and which recognizes the potential for using property rights and entrepreneurship to spur innovation in enhancing environmental quality.
Mr. Carl Close is available for interviews. For media inquiries, please contact Pat Rose, Independent Institute Public Affairs Director, at (510) 632-1366.
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