Is Environmentalism Anti-Science?

We recommend Keith Kloor’s short essay on the anti-science, anti-GMO activists. Keith doesn’t discuss this, but aren’t there strong parallels to the anti-nuclear ideology? I speculate there is a lot of overlap between the two anti- populations. E.g., Greenpeace.

As I try to answer Keith’s captioned question, I think of the example environmentalists that we know by reading or personal contact. Those who have a science/engineering background are much more likely to be influenced by the data than by some politically-correct ideology. Can you name a person who understands the peer-reviewed literature who is anti-nuclear or anti-GMO?

We are pro-people and anti-anti. Our interest is how to feed ten billion affordably. Especially the Bottom Billion — that will grow to at least two bottom billion around 2050 – all wanting a share of the low-cost energy and low-cost food enjoyed by today’s rich countries. There are no anti-GMO activists amongst the hungry.

Here’s an excerpt from Keith:

(…) I’ve been particularly interested in this question lately. In doing some catch-up reading, I came across a fascinating roundtable of views in a 2009 Seed magazine article, set up by this introduction:

Most Europeans don’t consider themselves to be anti-science or particularly technophobic. In fact, Europe’s full embrace of the scientific consensus on another environmental issue, global warming, has enabled the continent to take the clear lead on climate change, with the most ambitious emissions targets, the first carbon trading market, and the greenest urban infrastructure plans on the planet.

Europe’s scientific disconnect is more broadly true of eco-minded citizens worldwide: They laud the likes of James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri but shrink in horror at the scientist who offers up a Bt corn plant (even though numerous studies indicate that Bt crops—by dramatically curbing pesticide use—conserve biodiversity on farms and reduce chemical-related sickness among farmers).

So why the disconnect? Why do many environmentalists trust science when it comes to climate change but not when it comes to genetic engineering?

Before you click on the link to learn some of the proffered reasons, think about it first.