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Encyclopedia > Environmental skepticism

Environmental skepticism is an umbrella term that describes those that believe certain claims put forward by environmentalists, particularly some of the more alarming claims, are exaggerated to some degree. Sometimes a view may be labelled as environmental skepticism when the term environmental cynicism may be more accurate. Environmentalism is the support of or involvement with the environmental movement by environmentalists. ... Cynicism was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics (main article), founded by Antisthenes. ...

Some skeptics believe that human damage to the environment is either minimal or less important in its likely consequences than the benefits that damaging economic development brings, others believe that any significant future damage will be fixed by yet-to-be invented technology, while yet others believe that major elements of the environment are in fact improving over time. On the other hand, skeptics who believe that human activities have not caused any environmental damage are almost non-existant. } the surface of the planet for the first time and explore space. ...

Sometimes environmental skeptics hold opinions that run completely counter to the opinions of most environmentalists, for example their stance on second-hand tobacco smoke, recycling, global warming or nuclear power. However, most of the skeptics arguments are much more nuanced. For example, they may object to recycling of plastic on the ground that resource cost of recycling plastic is greater than resource cost of producing plastic from oil. Some accept the science of global warming but object to the Kyoto protocol on the grounds that it is damaging to the economy.   The international symbol for recycling. ... Global mean surface temperatures 1856 to 2005 Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 Global warming is a term used to describe the trend of increases in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere and oceans... A nuclear power station. ... Global mean surface temperatures 1856 to 2005 Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 Global warming is a term used to describe the trend of increases in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere and oceans...

To illustrate the difference between the environmental cynics and the skeptics, environmental skeptics, like all skeptics use the scientific method to evaluate concerns while environmental cynics would maintain a generally negative attitude to all environmentalism including environmental science especially if it is based on some "soft" science such as meteology.

Historically, a small number of extreme environmental skeptics have been linked to the interests of large, polluting industries, including those have led a backlash to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring ("dilution is the solution to pollution"). It is also pointed out that environmentalists also employ much of "science" which is spinned toward the political purpose of environmental groups. Carsons Government Photo (1940s) Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born zoologist and marine biologist whose landmark book, Silent Spring, is often credited with having launched the global environmental movement. ... Silent Spring was written by Rachel Carson and published in September, 1962. ...

A particularly controversy is a book published by Bjørn Lomborg called The Skeptical Environmentalist. His book was peer reviewed and published under the category of environmental economics. The book probably presented a middle ground of environmental skepticism. Bjorn accepted the general consensus of science about global warming while disagreed on the policy response exemplified by the Kyoto protocol. Environmental scientists generally were hostile to the book while the responses from economists and political scientists were generally positive. Bjørn Lomborg Bjørn Lomborg (born January 6, 1965) is a Danish political scientist and former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen. ... The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Danish: Verdens Sande Tilstand, literal translation: The Real State of the World) is a controversial book by political scientist Bjørn Lomborg, which argues that claims made about global warming, overpopulation, declining energy resources, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, and...


  • Chase, Alston, In a Dark Wood: The Fight over Forests & the Myths of Nature, New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers, 2001 ISBN 0765807521
  • Driessen, Paul, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, Kenmore, NY, Merrill Press, 2003 ISBN 0939571234
  • Essex, Cristopher and Ross McKitrick, Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming, Toronto, Ont., Key Porter Books, 2003 ISBN 1552632121
  • Huber, Peter, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, New York, Basic Books, 2000 ISBN 0465031137
  • Lomborg, Bjørn, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, Cambridge & New York, Cambridge University Press, 2001 ISBN 0521010683
  • Lomborg, Bjørn (ed.), Global Crises, Global Solutions, Cambridge & New York, Cambridge University Press, 2004 ISBN 0521606144
  • Michaels, Patrick J., The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming, Washington D.C., Cato Institute, 2000 ISBN 1882577922
  • Ortega Y Gasset, Jose, Meditations on Hunting, Montague, MI, Wilderness Adventures Books, 1995, ISBN 1885106181
  • Reisman, George, The Toxicity of Environmentalism, Laguna Hills, CA, The Jefferson School of Philosophy, Economics & Psychology, 1990 ISBN 1931089019
  • Swan, James A., In Defense of Hunting: Yesterday and Today, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995 ISBN 0062512374

  Results from FactBites:
CNE Environment : Stagnaro Blog Archive 2006 (9055 words)
Environmental, especially climate, fundamentalism has been the rule and those who dared to raise Verheugen’s point were dismissed as skeptics or Big Business’ puppets.
Now that the costs of EU environmental policies are becoming unsustainable – as the gap between the American and European rate of growth shows – “skepticism” begins to gain consideration.
First, as a briefing (pdf) by the European Environment Agency shows, it is still unclear whether the alleged environmental benefits of biofuels (no net CO2 emissions) are large enough to balance their environmental impact (increased land use, loss of biodiversity in Europe, etc.).
  More results at FactBites »



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