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Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity

"John Stossel" and "journalist" aren't words that I'd generally put in the same sentence, but sometimes he does do some reports that are pretty entertaining and well done. This one, sent to me by Barney, is a transcript from his "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity" of the notion that America is destroying its forests. And he's absolutely right: For groups like Sierra Club to survive, they have to scare the hell out of people, and for Weyerhaeuser paper folks to survive, they need to make themselves sound like environmentalists. In between lie us moderates. Read on for the full entertaining transcript...

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"Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity" continues with John Stossel.

Myth # 3: We are destroying our forests?

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) Lots of people don't like to see this. We're murdering that poor tree. Many of you see this and feel bad because you've been told that at the rate we're felling these trees we'll soon run out of forest land. The group Save America's Forests says we've cut way too much.

CARL ROSS, SAVE AMERICA'S FOREST
The loss of natural forests in America is a crisis and we will lose species forever, they'll go extinct if we don't take action now.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) Other environmental groups run ads warning of the dire consequences. No wonder the activists are waving chainsaws outside the White House to protest. And this woman was so upset she lived in a tree for two years.

ACTIVIST, FEMALE
If they take anymore it's going to destroy what's left.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) What is left? The US Agriculture Department says today America has 749 million acres of forest land. In 1920, we had 735 million acres of forest. Wait a second. Did you catch that? We have more forest now. How can we have more? Well, for one reason, technology now allows us to grow five times more food per acre, so we need less farmland. And so, lots of what once was farmland has reverted to forest. Still, even with more forest, people have an emotional reaction when they see scenes like this.

HOLLY FRETWELL, ECONOMIST
People don't like to see clearcuts. People don't like to see timber harvested. They don't like to drive down the highway and see that we've removed timber. It's not a pretty sight.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) Environmental economist Holly Fretwell points out that while we are cutting lots of timber, we grow more than we cut. America has more forests than we had in the 1920s.

CARL ROSS
Well, it depends on how you define forest. We have more areas in America with trees on them, that's true. But we have less that are natural.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Off Camera) So, what we have is unnatural forest?

CARL ROSS
We have a mix in America of unnatural tree farms and real natural forests.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) It's true that many of the oldest trees have been cut down. And seven percent of America's forests have been planted by man. But that still means 93 percent are natural forests.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Off Camera) You're scaring people to death. "Bald Eagles flying in terror as their 400-year-old nest trees crash to the ground."

CARL ROSS
Well, certainly that's true.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Off Camera) But we have more Bald Eagles now.

CARL ROSS
Well, recently we do and that's excellent. But there are lots of endangered species that have -are still plummeting.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Off Camera) He says we're facing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity.

HOLLY FRETWELL
Well, that's actually nonsense because we have all kinds of trees that exist out there and so we have all sorts of wildlife out there. White-tailed deer are thriving in the East. Wild turkey are thriving. We have numerous bear that are starting to inhabit more of our forests.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) Some species have decreased. But the populations of all these animals and others have increased in the past 75 years. Yet so many environmental organizations warn us of doom. It made me want to ask Michael Shermer, what does he think about that?

JOHN STOSSEL
(Off Camera) Why is there all this fear?

MICHAEL SHERMER
The fear is there because if your goal is to raise funds, you have to scare people. You can't tell people things are getting better and here's the data. You have to tell people things are worse, you have to scare people.

JOHN STOSSEL
(Voice Over) So you may be scared. But today, in the United States, there is so much forest land, there are two acres of forest for every single person.

Posted by Jake on 03/24/04 @ 06:25 PM
Posted in Funny | Permalink



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