Conservative commentary: Earth Day then, now


"The trouble with the eco-crusader is that his false guilt and his false fears feed endlessly upon each other." With all the Earth Day hoopla April 22, I remembered this line from an old presidential speech. Can you guess who said it?

"From the emotional remorse that we have sinned terribly against nature," it continues, "there is but a short step to the emotional dread that nature will visit terrible retribution upon us. The eco-crusader becomes, as a result, deaf to reason and science, blind to perspective and priorities, incapable of effective action."

That's telling 'em, Mr. President. Or it would have been, if Richard Nixon hadn't let staffers talk him out of giving the eco-crusader speech in September 1971.

Fired up by attacks on the "disaster lobby" by Look magazine publisher Thomas Shepard, and uneasy about his own role in establishing the Environmental Protection Agency after the first Earth Day in 1970, Nixon directed me and other speechwriters to produce a warning against ecological extremism that he could deliver as a major address.

Our draft died on his desk amid concerns about political backlash. I kept the file as a historical curiosity - the presidential bombshell that wasn't. Today, four decades into the age of true-believing green religion, Nixon's undelivered speech reads prophetically.

So does Shepard's diagnosis that the environmental doomsayers "are basically opposed to the free enterprise system and will do anything to bolster their case for additional government controls." So does the denunciation by Prof. Peter Drucker, another source we consulted at the time, of the green fallacy "that one can somehow deprive human action of risk." The battle lines have changed little in 38 years.

I now wish President Nixon, a gambler in foreign policy, had risked this piece of domestic truth-telling. One politically incorrect speech from the White House couldn't have halted the tides of earth-worshipping guilt and fear that still engulf us. But it would have been a start. With braver leadership sooner, America's voices for environmental common sense might have been less outnumbered today.

Two of those lonely voices were in Colorado last week. Terry Anderson, leader of the Montana-based Property & Environment Research Center, and Christopher Horner, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., brought a coolly factual message to deflate some of the new-energy hype and carbon-phobia that Bill Ritter trades on and Obama wants to emulate.

Anderson literally wrote the book about free-market environmentalism - a 1991 volume by that title. He told the Independence Institute about PERC's research on such inconvenient truths as the wildly oversold benefits of green jobs and the grim toll that cap-and-trade legislation to mitigate CO2 will take on our standard of living.

Horner's current book is "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed." He told the Centennial Institute, where I work, that a recessionary economy and 10 straight years of global cooling make this the worst time for a burdensome new carbon tax that "would not detectably impact climate anyway."

If the eco-crusaders were serious about cleaner energy, says Horner, they would support nuclear power. They aren't, so they don't. And again, we find the battle lines unchanged; the nuclear debate also pervades my 1971 White House file. No, their aim is control, as Thomas Shepard warned. "For a new enemy to unite us, the threat of global warming fits the bill," gloated the anti-growth Club of Rome in 1991.

Cheerleading mainstream journalists have decided the likes of Horner and Anderson "are not news," as one bluntly told me - so you heard little about their visit to Ritterville. The governor letting three eco-crusading foundations pay his climate czar's salary has caused no stir, either.

What sheep we are.

John Andrews, of Centennial, was president of the Colorado Senate in 2003 to 2005. He is director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, a member of the Conservative Leadership Counsel of Northwest Colorado and host of Backbone Radio, Sundays at 5 p.m. online at You can e-mail John at


Murray Tucker 7 years, 11 months ago

President Nixon had many faults the worst of which was the paranoia that ultimately forced him from office. But he was the last of the leaders of the Republican Party who was a pragmatist. Today, there are only a few Republicans who would take the stands that he took. EPA was his creation, but it was opposed by the nascent neo-conservatives who ultimately controlled the Party's policies.


ybul 7 years, 11 months ago

The article cites that if a cap and trade system is imposed our standard of living will be greatly reduced. Maybe standard of living and has been confused with standard of consumption. Consumption does not equate to a higher quality of life. A higher standard of living should be equated with quality of life not consumption. Though that is a hard metric to measure.

As we move forward, India and China's economies are both expanding, while the earth has limited resources. As such our standard of consumption is bound to go down, even without a cap and trade. Those limited resources also are going to require us to rethink how we produce those renewable resources we consume.

While there is compelling evidence that global warming might simply be a natural phenomenon, their exists evidence that the continued use of coal fired power plants poses health risks, from mercury. These costs are passed from the power companies who do not mitigate the problem to the general public.

A true free market system would require that these costs are internalized, which would allow alternative energy sources to compete on a level playing field, probably making wind power the least expensive power source, although variable, though with a smart grid, one that prices electricity based on supply and demand, the variability can be reduced. As hybrid cars and homes could either buy or sell electricity based on the going power rate.


playa46 7 years, 11 months ago

"If the eco-crusaders were serious about cleaner energy, says Horner, they would support nuclear power. They aren't, so they don't. And again, we find the battle lines unchanged; the nuclear debate also pervades my 1971 White House file. No, their aim is control, as Thomas Shepard warned. "For a new enemy to unite us, the threat of global warming fits the bill," gloated the anti-growth Club of Rome in 1991."

Nuclear energy is very risky. Remember what happened at Chernobyl? We still have to deal with the effects today. The Russians finally admitted they had made a mistake, why would we want to have Nuclear Energy here? Yes, we can find energy through it, and we may never have an explosion, but the effects of an explosion here would not only affect just us, but the entire world. It's true, a lot of people who are for the environment keep you misinformed, but they don't support Nuclear Energy because there are so many other, safer ways to find energy without hurting our planet.


GearyBaxter 7 years, 11 months ago

Conservation is the Fastest and the Cheapest Way to Conserve "We already know the fastest, least expensive way to slow climate change: Use less energy. With a little effort, and not much money, most of us could reduce our energy diets by 25 percent or more doing the Earth a favor while helping our pocketbooks. So what's holding us back?" National Geographic Magazine, March 2009.

"There is nothing warm and fuzzy about the real human side of engineering. It is just technology beamed so that there is accountability with responsibility and the most effective measures get done and remain done for the least cost." Peter H. Judd, Ph.D., Strategic Planning for Energy and the Environment, Vol. 13, No. 2, Fall 1993

A Pragmatic Approach:

The UtiliTRACK approach is based upon a simple concept; combine real-time monitoring with the basic fundamentals of engineering problem solving and good financial management to identify, create, document and maintain energy savings. By creating savings using existing equipment in all types of existing facilities, UtiliTRACK provides the most cost-effective tool to produce and maintain savings. Reduced energy usage also means reduced Greenhouse Gas emissions and a positive environmental impact. It is based on accurately measured data rather than engineering estimates. Decisions are based on reality rather than theory.

I used this technology to reduce my utility costs in the ice arena I was managing in Indiana by 70% - $100,000.00 a year. It took my rink off the tax records and made it a viable, self-sustaining business. Think about the effect if every rink, school, hospital, hotel, manufacturing plant, etc... used this same approach. Think how many teaching jobs that would save! Or nursing jobs. Think of it!

Most people want a technology "pill" rather than be accountable for the energy they use. It is a people problem, technology is only a tool. Wind and solar power are very expensive and with the current mindset, we will waste that just as well. Short term, we need accountability, not alternative energy sources. Long term, we need to find a technology that can produce energy for less than it cost to create it.

You'll have to excuse me - I'm on a mission.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 11 months ago

When Al Gore was VP we didn't hear a peep about the environment. Suddenly it is topic, one, and a very good one from their standpoint. Researchers need only to verify the predetermined results, and the check is in the mail, and there is more where that came from. It is very difficult to question Mother Nature and the media is not about to ask any questions. The global concerns may be accurate but: Our best chance is nuclear and O just cut the funds for Yucca Mtn. Wind and solar are 1.5% at present, five times that is 7.5%, sounds Mickey Mouse to me. Prohibit offshore drilling so that we can ruin our economy by sending money overseas. Try cap and trade or carbon tax and break our weak economy or send business to countries that don't follow our folly. This leaves me with the assumption that ignorance abounds, or that we are trying to destroy the efficient capitalist engine that produces too efficiently. It would be easier to control if all decisions were made by "central planning". I think that we can make environmental progress but George Soros and surrogates seem to have other motives.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.