I’d like to compile a list of political brouhahas (to use a technical term here) where one side presented a potential environmental or public health threat and the other side presented evidence that the threat was not well-founded.
I’d also like, if possible, to be able to label them as much as feasible (that is, as a factually answerable question) as things that turned out to be scares versus things that turned out to be legitimate threats.
For example, lead in the environment (as seen on the recent Cosmos episode). A scientist says lead is harmful and levels in the environment are greater than in the past; a scientist from the lead and gasoline industry refutes it. 20 years later something is done about it. Since then it’s obvious that environmental lead levels were attributable to the use of lead in products such as gasoline and paint, and meanwhile, its pretty clear that lead is nasty stuff for the body. So, this would turn out as “valid threat” and not “scare”.
For another example, cyclamates (while not nearly as much of a political brouhaha) pretty much turned out to be not much more harmful than other artificial sweeteners, despite the claims that they might cause cancer.
I’d like to assemble the list of candidates here, and would definitely appreciate cites.
I’d rather not debate “valid vs scare”, but do want cites to info that might lean one way or another. If, for a given subject, it turns out to be debatable, I’d like to know that. If it sparks a debate hopefully we can spin that off to a GD thread rather than continue it here, in the spirit of a GQ thread.
Let’s not discuss climate change. That’s already on my list.
Another is probably DDT. My understanding is that it’s sufficiently well documented not to be a scare, but it’s also not a simple issue. (For example, while DDT is terrible for the environment, it might be a good thing we did use so much of it before banning it, that malaria is nearly unknown in the US.) Please feel free to fight my ignorance on this matter.
The debate over nuclear power and its hazards is ongoing. It would be silly to call concerns about nuclear disasters unfounded, though it’s debatable whether current policy regarding nuclear energy is idea. That’s beside the point of my query.