Friday, February 25, 2011

The 9 Most Annoying Sky-is-Falling Clichès in American Foreign Policy

From Michael Lind, at Foreign Policy, "So Long, Chicken Little." It was hard to decide, but I'm sampling "4. The rain forests are about to disappear":
This is yet another case of exaggeration in defense of a good cause. Remember the 1980s, when it seemed the Amazon rain forest wasn't long for this world -- and that humanity was threatened as atmospheric oxygen levels correspondingly declined? The World Wildlife Fund's Thomas Lovejoy in 1980 predicted 50 percent deforestation in Latin America by 2000. And Al Gore famously claimed in Earth in the Balance that rain forests "are disappearing from the face of the earth at the rate of one and a half acres a second, night and day, every day, all year round."

But as the New York Times reported in 2009, "new 'secondary' forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest -- an iconic environmental cause -- may be less urgent than once thought." For every acre of rain forest chopped down annually, more than 50 acres are growing back on previously ravaged tropical land, according to one estimate. Meanwhile, thanks to advanced agricultural technology that permits more food to be grown on fewer acres, Northern Hemisphere countries like the United States, Canada, and the nations of Europe are being regreened rapidly, as former farmland returns to forest.


Steve said...

The article's 3rd "Cliche" is a bunch of crap: Europeans are pacifist. The can defend themselves, the author says. So why are we there? Why have we provided at least half of their defense budgets over the last 60 years? Well, maybe they aren't pacifists, but they certainly are freeloaders.