“Greenie derangement syndrome” is something I have observed for a long time, and can be defined as a condition that often occurs when a person enters the fringe environmental movement, whereby despite previous education, training, and attitudes, he begins to lose the capacity for rational thought when considering environmental issues.
A corollary is that a person affected by this syndrome is prone to quoting sources out of context, or simply making things up, in an attempt to support his positions.
A good example is Dr. Christopher De Rosa, former director of the CDC’s Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, who stated on more than one occasion that there is no safe level of exposure to formaldehyde. Lest we blame only De Rosa, he is but one victim of the concept called the precautionary principle, which holds that if some concentration of a chemical is dangerous, than ANY concentration of that chemical—other than “zero”—must also be dangerous.
This concept is also known as the linear no-threshold (LNT) model. Here is an example, as applied to radiation exposure, where the model was first proposed:
If a particular dose of radiation is found to produce one extra case of a type of cancer in every thousand people exposed, LNT predicts that one thousandth of this dose will produce one extra case in every million people so exposed, and that one millionth of this dose will produce one extra case in every billion people exposed. This means that any given quantity of radiation will produce the same number of cancers, no matter how thinly it is spread.
Needless to say, many scientists do not buy into this concept. In the case of formaldehyde, it is especially foolish to believe in this since formaldehyde is a natural metabolite of all animals, is present in human breath at a median concentration of 30 parts-per-billion, and appears in many fruits and vegetables. Note that these are inherent concentrations, and are not affected whatsoever by environmental concentrations of formaldehyde.
If some FEMA trailers had elevated concentrations of the compound, it was due to off-gassing of newly installed items in the trailers, and lack of proper ventilation.
The point is that De Rosa and his cohort should know better, and probably DID know better, until Greenie Derangement Syndrome set in.
Another more recent example involves Bill Nye, the former “Science Guy,” who boasts a mechanical engineering degree from Cornell. Now featured on Planet Green’s “Stuff Happens” series, he seems to have succumbed to the Syndrome. On a recent episode that dealt with environmental hazards coming from your attic, he went off on a bit of a tirade against fiberglass insulation, and its use of formaldehyde resins to bind it together.
At one point he actually said the following:
“Twenty years ago, it took twice as much formaldehyde to embalm a dead body than it does today. Why is that? Because today, we already have twice as much formaldehyde in our bodies.”
It is difficult to overstate how absurd that statement is.
First of all, formaldehyde does not build up in our bodies, but exists at a steady state concentration of 1 to 2 parts-per-million in the blood.
Embalming fluid contains anywhere from 5 to 29 percent formaldehyde. This content is referred to as “index,” thus a 25-index fluid would have 25 percent formaldehyde. Doing the conversion, 5 percent formaldehyde is 50,000 parts-per-million, and a 25-index solution would be 250,000 parts-per-million. Do you really think that the amount of formaldehyde in the blood is going to affect this? What if the amount in our blood did double (which it most assuredly did NOT)? We would still be off by a factor of more than 10,000!
Note that even if we WERE walking around with these incredibly high and toxic levels in our blood, it wouldn’t matter, since the embalming process REMOVES blood before the fluid is injected.
This is far more than a simple mistake. His quote compounds multiple errors, and on its face is absurd in its suggestion that we are already walking around half-embalmed. Yet, because of Greenie Derangement Syndrome, not only was he able to say this, it was also not corrected by any of his staff, and no retraction has been posted on the website.
I have often suggested that the radical Greens cling to their beliefs as a substitute for religion. This, though, is a very easy religion to follow in that they don’t really have to do anything other than hold certain politically correct positions. Of course, they can also parade about doing cool “Green” things, much as the hypocrites, who sound a trumpet before them, that they may be honored by men (Matthew 6:2).
For that matter, what would Jesus do? While there are no Gospel references to the environment as such, we do see that Jesus is not terribly concerned about material things, nor even in conserving them. Luke 5:1-11 tells of the extraordinary catch of fish that threatened to sink the boats, but right after this happened, the catch was abandoned as Peter, James, and John left to follow Jesus.
Matthew 8:28-34 tells of demons being cast into a herd of swine, and then the entire herd being forced into the sea. Matthew 26:6-13 tells of expensive perfume being poured on His head, and the disciples becoming indignant at the waste. Jesus, though, instructs them not to worry about it, and that the woman who did this had performed a good deed. Finally, He even mocks the covetous man who plans to store up all of his wealth, so that he can then pursue a life of leisure—only to die that very night (Luke 12:16-20).
Returning to the 21st century, one further aspect of the syndrome is that the more absurd the position, the more our sufferers must believe in it, presumably since that shows their sincerity and determination. Thus, “The cooler weather is caused by global warming.”
Beware this syndrome. Identify it in others, and don’t let it infect you.