Last week, an organization called Stand.earth (who even knew that .earth was a domain?) organized a rally dubbed “Too Dirty To Wear” at a Levi’s store in Manhattan to protest the company’s “climate pollution.” Supposedly, by manufacturing its jeans and other products all over the world, in factories where power is made from carbon fuels such as coal, Levi’s is culpable in all the purported badness that global warming (excuse me, climate change) is causing, today, to Mother Earth.

Levi’s is not alone in this, apparently. The apparel industry as a whole has been called out for being a major climate polluter. As reported, the apparel industry, including its supply chain, pumps out 5.4% of total “climate emissions” – I assume that’s the new, woke term for carbon dioxide – globally. I like the euphemism for a vital gas without which there’d be no climate to pollute, by the way. It’s great psychological pap for the eagerly offended. Those emissions are translated into 38,000 deaths per year – currently – making Levi’s share of the butcher’s bill 31 deaths per annum. So, those jeans you buy make you an accomplice to murder, it seems.

This was a bit of a surprise to me, because global warming has long been sold as something that’s going to wreck the planet a century from now, rather than today. Curious, I clicked through to the source of this death assertion, and it turns out to be a group called the Global Humanitarian Forum. Lest anyone think it’s just a bunch of enviro-nerds running a blog from their mud hut, the GHF is (was?) chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and populated by Big Names from the international scene.

Reading through the report (published in 2009), I noticed that it alleges the standard sky-is-falling 2°C “danger level” is imminent (i.e if we don’t get a handle on things by 2020, it’ll be too late). The increasing divergence of actual data from this prediction (statistical shenanigans notwithstanding) is a topic for another day, since today I want to explore the allegation of current deaths from global warming.

Here’s the punch line:

Already today, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost every year due to climate change. This will rise to roughly half a million in 20 years. Over nine in ten deaths are related to gradual environmental degradation due to climate change — principally malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria, with the remaining deaths being linked to weather-related disasters brought about by climate change.

Rather than (deservedly) challenge the data, I’m going to, for the sake of argument, take this report at its word, for the moment. Take notice of the primary death mechanisms: Malnutrition, dysentery, and malaria.

Now, lets contemplate what we know about the biggest Chicken-Littles of global warming alarmism: that they trend rich and liberal. This same population is where we find countless advocates for organic farming, countless opponents to genetically modified (GMO) crops, and a near-universal shock-and-outrage opposition to DDT.

The atrocity herein is that many of the folks who are decrying global warming deaths and protesting blue jeans advocate for policies that cause a far greater number of deaths in the very same populations they purport to defend.

Consider, first, the combination of anti-GMO and organic farming advocacy. Both policies substantially harm farming efficiency, crop yields, and pest management, and contribute greatly to “food insecurity,” as hunger and the fear of it has been dubbed.

Two recent examples illustrate the broader point, particularly in relation to GMO: 1 – A disease called BXW is a massive threat to banana crops in parts of Africa, where it is a food and export staple. GMO variant banana plants that were highly resistant to this threat were kept away from farmers, solely due to baseless bias. 2 – “Golden Rice,” a variant genetically engineered to provide Vitamin A, has been tested and ready to go for 15 years, and its cultivation could save hundreds of thousands of lives and prevent blindness in millions of the world’s poorest.

Those are just two of countless examples of GMO benefiting humanity. Dr. Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate pioneer of GMO agriculture and the “father of the Green revolution,” is credited with saving a billion lives through work that today’s “woke” ninnies reject. There are few people of recent history more deserving of hero worship, yet his name remains, sadly, too obscure.

Consider, next, the grand tragedy of the environmental movement spawned by Rachel Carson’s seminal work “Silent Spring.” The book led to the banning of DDT, an incredibly effective anti-mosquito pesticide (that, conveniently, had already wiped out malaria in America by the time the enviros got rocking and rolling). Science has, long ago, debunked Carson’s sky-is-falling conclusions, and yet we still bear witness to hundreds of thousands of deaths from malaria every year because of a persistence in opposing DDT use by those who are too rich and too first-world to be affected by the scourge that is the Anopheles mosquito.

Finally, there’s the matter of clean water. Noted environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg launched the Copenhagen Consensus Center a number of years ago to advance the idea that there are far more pressing concerns for humanity, today, than the impact of global warming (and Lomborg was a believer). Among them was clean drinking water, and his powerful point was that resources devoted to combating climate change would do humanity FAR more good if devoted to clean water, better medicine, and other immediate-impact initiatives for the world’s poor.

Unfortunately for those poor, the supposedly caring and “woke” first-worlders who have the free time and disposable income to protest and contribute choose to complain, instead, about the carbon footprint of blue jeans – a product that provides great benefit for both consumers and workers.

I am rather skeptical of the estimates of current-day deaths from climate change, given that severe weather events have decreased, given that the warming predictions have not materialized (the “pause” in warming has exceeded 20 years), and given that climate researchers keep having to revise the historical record for global warming to appear to exist. On the other hand, malnutrition, dirty water, and malaria are established and long-standing causes of death among the world’s poor. Deaths from malnutrition are best addressed by economic growth and technological improvement (thank you, GMOs), as is clean water, and I answered the malaria question above. Making life more expensive by demanding that industries and nations decarbonize their energy output will cost lives – millions of lives – not save them. Focusing protests and activism on the wrong targets creates an opportunity cost also measurable in lives, as more worthy and productive uses of time and money are neglected.

Some of my readers point out that many enviros and “greens” actually advocate for depopulation, and buy into the Malthusian myth of resource depletion. This persistent garbage has thoroughly infused pop culture, including the recently released comic book movie Avengers Infinity War, where the bad guy’s on a mission to gain enough power to eliminate half the universe’s population because, you guessed it, there are too many people and not enough resources. At least Marvel got it right and made Thanos the bad guy, but there are people you encounter every day who, often quietly, truly believe the Earth would be better off if 2/3 or 90% of the population died off. Of course, they never volunteer to go first, and they rarely elect not to have children of their own. I don’t think they’re a majority, and I do believe that many green protestors genuinely believe they’re advocating for a good thing. Ignorance, however, is not a virtue, and it’s not wrong for us to call out protests that do more harm than good.

As well as pointing out the hypocrisy. When actual lives are at stake, calling someone a hypocrite is not a cheap tactic. Should I ever cross paths with someone showing earnest high dudgeon regarding the carbon footprint of jeans, I won’t feel bad asking them their thoughts on golden rice and DDT.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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