Originally Published: July 12, 2001 7 p.m.
While watching John Stossel's ABC News special, "Tampering With Nature," I felt like a citizen of those not-so-long-ago "captive nations" who learned the truth of what was going on not from their own leaders and the controlled media, but from the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.
In one hour this past Friday, Stossel exposed the propaganda and one-dimensional perspective about the environment and biotechnology that has caused millions of schoolchildren to repeat the information they've been spoon-fed in a way that would delight a teacher in a communist classroom.
The special revealed another point of view that we rarely, if ever, hear. We don't hear these views because most of the people who bring you the news and who teach our children are of a singular mindset and teach or broadcast only their ideas.
Stossel inteviewed Patrick Moore, a former director of Greenpeace. He said political activists have hijacked the environmentalist movement, and that they are "using environmental rhetoric to cloak agendas like class warfare and anti-corporatism that, in fact, have almost nothing to do with ecology."
Interest groups, Stossel said, pressure members of Congress into voting for things that have little or no effect on the environment, but which increase the influence and fund-raising abilities of such groups.
Even if we restricted greenhouse gases, Stossel says reliable estimates show restrictions would prevent a rise in global temperature by only a fraction of a degree. He wondered if such low expectations are worth the potential high cost to taxpayers of trillions of dollars and a radically altered lifestyle.
Biotechnology, which is helping to make food more plentiful, is another target of environmentalists. Stossel showed that the very science they decry has answered their objections.
Bovine growth hormone, for example, increases milk production in cows, though environmentalists regularly condemn it as harmful to human health. Stossel reported that the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association have deemed the hormone completely safe.
The most controversial and disturbing moment came when Stossel interviewed elementary schoolchildren in Santa Monica, Calif. Stossel told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly that some individual interviews had been cut by ABC after an environmentalist group contacted and "brainwashed" parents into believing that Stossel was doing an "editorial" that would be injurious to the environmental cause.
Stossel told O'Reilly he wanted to show how teachers have lied to public schoolchildren about the environment. He said children believe the one side teachers have taught them about the global-warming argument: that Republican presidents are responsible for dirty air and water (though, he noted, air and water are much cleaner now) and that corporations are "evil."
Even with the interviews that remained in the program, Stossel managed to prove his point. He asked the children what they had learned, and then he quoted governmental and scientific sources to prove the children and their teachers wrong.
He also interviewed activists about their knowledge of the earth, food additives, genetic food engineering and other scientific discoveries designed to improve human life.
"The extremists dominate the debate," Stossel told O'Reilly. Indeed they do.
What else have teachers taught students and what else does the public believe is factually untrue? It might take years of TV specials and a different education objective to cleanse our systems of the intellectual and moral impurities we have been programmed to accept as truth.
We should thank Stossel and praise ABC News for publicizing another environmental point of view. The environmental lobby controls almost all of the media, as do so many other liberal perspectives. It is testimony to the power of truth that so many wish to discredit and even silence John Stossel.
(Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas can be reached at Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave. Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)