Debunk this Cornicopian

Hey All,

I received the following e-mail message

I feel in my gut that Mr. du Pont is using selected statistics to paint a picture of a future Cornicopian Utopia, and not to worry about cutting down all the trees, over fishing the oceans, turning farms into residential housing etc.

Am I right? What are the facts?


p.s. Cornicopians believe that science will invent techniques/technologies to provide for ever increasing population growth.

p.p.s. Malthusians believe that eventually the earth will run out of resources and there is a limit to the number of people the Earth will support.

And your question would be…?

I should think the question would be

I thought it was pretty clearly stated what the question was. I’m sorry I can’t help answer it.

How timely!

Outside magazine has an article just this month debunking “LynxGate”.

The current issue of Skeptic magazine happens to have a cover article contrasting Bjorn Lomborg’s “everything’s a-okay” environmental position with a counterpoint by E.O. Wilson. As I have yet to read the articles, I can’t provide any details.

Thanks for the support Racinchikki.

Is the article a fraud?

Is the article based on faulty science?

Is the article true in every detail?

If it is false, as I suspect, what sources can I site that support the claims that the article is fraudulent?

Thanks Kamandi!

From The Christian Science Monitor:
Catfight ensues over case of lynx fur planted in forests

and from The Seattle Times:
Lynx-fur furor focuses on science role

The whole lynx affair boils down to what you want to believe. One side is that the researchers cited submitted samples they knew to be false outside of the research protocals, protocols they were aware of. The other side is that they wanted control samples to verify the validity of their results. That’s what I’d say were I in their position.

From Kamandi’s link:

From the National Acadamies News:
Higher Water Levels Not Scientifically Justified To Protect Fish in Klamath Lake and River

From The Outdoor Network:
U.S. Forest Service Grossly Overstated Visitor Statistics

From the Washington Times:
Owl data knowingly faulty

From a site at Slippery Rock University:
World Per Capita Grain Production 1950-1999

From something called Agrevo:
Calorie Consumption now, and projected

That’s a lot of stuff to research, and I’m not going to get through it all. For energy info you can browse around at the Energy Information Administration website and find a lot. It’s hard to find some info without getting someone’s agenda with it.

Don’t you mean cornucopian?

I cannot shed any light over the OP, though.

From the Pete DuPont article in the OP:

(Emphasis added)

Nice dig at the liberals and their e-vil welfare programs, there.

Woah! That’s quite an unfounded leap! It also contradicts the US Census Bureau’s figures. The fact that some of the industrialized nations have birth rates below their death rates does not mean that the tremendous birth rate in most of the developing world (well above the death rate) will change any time soon.

The land area of Texas is 261,797 square miles. With a world population of 6.2 billion, this means 1177 square feet per person, or a 34 ft by 34 ft square. Too bad this grossly underestimates the actual land area required to feed, house and support a population. “Enjoy” is hardly the word I’d use.

The greens aren’t the only ones using these tools, Mr DuPont.

Man, that’s a laugh. Du Pont’s article is, mostly, a farrago of misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and pure nonsense. And he’s claiming environmentalists are dishonest?

For detailed rebuttals to “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” check out this site. The various articles there will also serve to refute many of du Pont’s points as well.

This paragraph in du Pont’s article is particularly specious:


I haven’t tried to check out these figures in detail, but of course the reductions in pollution can largely be attributed to the efforts of environmentalists and to the Clean Air Act. Is du Pont contending that the air quality would have improved despite the increase in fossil fuel consumption even if nothing had been done?

It is true that in some cases the most dire predictions of environmentalists have not come to pass. This is often because the warnings were heeded, and something was done to improve the situation.

There is also a recent (Jan 2002) Scientific American article answering The Sceptical Environmentalist*.

Ooh, nice brush.

Also, note the fallacy of excluding the middle.

Some people believe that there is room in the world for economic growth and environmental protection. We take the long-term view of preserving our resources for the future, rather than the short-term view of maximizing profits now without regard for how damage done now will affect future prosperity.

History has taught us that economic growth without regard for environmental protection is a recipe for disaster. Think of the damage done to the American Southwest by unrestricted cattle farming (turned tallgrass prarie into desert) and the massive clearcutting in the forests of the Northwest caused by the railroad barons, both in the nineteenth century. And how about the legacy left to us in the form of all those Superfund cleanup sites? Uncounted tons of poisons dumped into lakes, rivers and the ground by companies with more interest in their balance sheets than the damage they were doing to the environment.

Thanks, FriendRob, I was going to mention the Scientific American article as well but it isn’t posted at Sci-Am’s website. The article is:

SandWriter, I have deleted the bulk of the article. Quoting more than a paragraph or two of a copyrighted work is too much. The rest of the article can be found at

moderator GQ


Won’t post whole articles again. I thought it was important to see the entire article to see all the statements of opinion as fact.


Bjorn Lomborg, IMHO, is not a nut. He replies to his critics at his website. As for the 4-part Scientific American series, I thought that Schneider destroyed Lomborg, but that the next 2 parts were much more dubious. (I was undecided on #4). There was a GD on this topic some time ago.

Pete DuPont, former Governor of Delaware, is another kettle of fish.