GLENN: Iain Murray is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He has a new book out called The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About -- Because They Helped Cause Them. What a surprise. Iain is on the phone with us now. Hi, Iain, how are you?
MURRAY: Hi, Glenn, I'm doing very well, thanks.
GLENN: Congratulations on the book and we wish you the best with it. Stu is a big fan of yours. I'm sorry. He is our global warming expert on the show and he's a big fan of yours and says that you nail it every single time. Let me start with the food prices that people are experiencing right now where we have milk and bread going up between 11 and 25% in the last year, global food prices up 83%. How's this tied to ethanol?
MURRAY: Well, because as you said, burning off food as fuel. In a recent study from the World Bank of all places that showed that every extra grain of corn that has been harvested in this country, planted and harvested in this country, the additional grain since 2005 has gone not to feed people but into our gas tanks. The World Bank also said that 50% of the fuel price -- of the food price riots around the world has been due to biofuels policies. Those are staggering numbers. This is having a real effect on food, especially for the poorest of the world.
GLENN: When we first started talking about ethanol and I did my homework on ethanol and I realized this is the biggest scam in the world and I talked about biofuels. You cannot burn your fuel supply -- or your food supply for fuel. This is a global catastrophe. I've talked about how, how are we going to starve and keep in the dark the places in Africa and the emerging world because we're telling them they can't have our lifestyle, how, Iain, does this kind of thinking not create, well, what the UN is now calling, what is it, crimes against humanity?
MURRAY: Yes, that's the UN high commission on refugees. He's saying that the biofuels laws around the world not just in America but in Europe as well are a crime against humanity and it's interesting how a few -- about a year ago the high commission on refugees and others was saying, oh, well, global warming is causing a real problem. Now they suddenly realize as we're taking steps to try and deal with global warming that that's creating a far, far greater calamity, one that's here right now. Haitians are being reduced to eating cakes made with bleach and if you remember what happened in Haiti in the early Nineties, we're looking as if we're going to do that all over again and there's going to be a failed state right on our doorstep and we are partly responsible for it this time.
GLENN: We have riots now, food riots in Mexico, at least that's what I heard yesterday. I haven't seen the story myself. Is that true? Can you verify that?
MURRAY: There have been food protests certainly. I don't think they were quite riots in Mexico because as the price of grain causes increase here, the Mexicans have been exporting more grain. So that means fewer tortillas and tortillas are an essential part of the Mexican diet. At the same time they are clearing the agave fields to grow corn. So that means less tequila. So less tequila, less tortillas. This is a big problem. So for a country where those items are so culturally important.
GLENN: When I had dinner at a global warming conference here with a bunch of scientists, they were all really, really top notch scientists who are against not global warming. They are against the solutions that are being presented for global warming. And I asked, I said, all of your lives have been destroyed, every single one of you at this table, your lives have been destroyed because of this. You are not doing it to get rich, you are not doing it because it's going to advance your career. You are doing it in spite of it destroying your career and you being poor. Why has anybody at this table flinched and said, "I can't do this anymore." The answer was unanimous. All of them said never. And their reason was also unanimous. They said, because I cannot help but weep for the people that this is going to kill. This will kill -- these global warming things will kill millions of people, and the number one example was malaria and what the World Health Organization did to try to stop malaria with DDT.
MURRAY: That's exactly it. That's one of the reasons I wrote The Really Inconvenient Truths. We're having -- we're only hearing one voice on all these environmental issues and at the same time people are covering up the fact that environmental policies, that perhaps the environmentalists did identify a small problems with, for instance, in DDT. Yes, there almost certainly was a problem with the thinning of eggs of large predatory birds in America. But the solutions that they imposed, which are basically Marxist solutions going back to command control, regulation, punishment of anybody who gets in the way of solving this one small problem, they have massive unintended consequences.
MURRAY: There are millions and millions of people who have died because they didn't have access to the single most effective malaria control agent which is DDT.
GLENN: The -- I got so much heat, no pun intended, during the California fires because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in the Seattle area, and I remember -- my grandfather and my uncle, they were farmers in Puyallup. And I remember when everybody was talking about, you know, you can't have control burns and they were messing with Yellowstone and everything else. My grandfather stood there, and he always had dirt underneath his fingernails because he was always working and he said, these people have never spent a day farming. They have no idea what they're even talking about. They are going to cause massive fires and the entire forest will burn down to the ground. And I remember my grandfather, he was a funny guy. He was never an angry guy. And I remember that so vividly because he was so angry at the environmentalists. And every time I see these massive fires, I think to myself, well, there you go. Once again trying to solve a problem and they create a bigger one.
MURRAY: Well, that's exactly it. When the settlers moved out west, they encountered a lot of forests but they were thin because the Indians knew that you have to manage these forests. If you allow undergrowth and small trees to grow up in the forest, then they really exacerbate the effects of any fires. So the Indians really managed the forests. Then we stopped managing the forests. We decided that we weren't going to cut down trees, we weren't going to allow commercial logging in the pristine national forest and as a result our tinderbox grew up for 100 years. And then in the 1970s the crazy idea to cull the forest service and national park service, that natural burning of forests, a wildfire starts by natural reasons, have to be allowed to burn out. So you build up this tinderbox and then you are going to allow fires to rage uncontrolled. Well, it's no surprise that Yellowstone park almost burned to the ground in 1988 and we're still dealing with that. Every time there's a wildfire out in the West, you can bet your bottom dollar it's because of these misguided policies.
GLENN: You say that the global economy could be collapsed by four polar bears. What do you mean by that?
MURRAY: Well, that's because there's a move afoot at the moment to lift the polar bear as endangered under the endangered species act because of global warming. This is -- now, the moment, from what we can make out, the senior management of the Fish and Wildlife Service are so terrified by the identify of the polar bear, as it's replaced the panda, it's replaced the bald eagle. They are ignoring this idea. They say polar bears are thriving, they are booming, they are increasing. Canadian settlements are terrified now because polar bears are ranging into their settlements. So that evidence is being ignored all because Al Gore and others found one study that showed that after a storm, four polar bears had drowned and they spun this massively into a line that polar bears are drowning in increasing numbers. And as a result of this, we've got to lift this species endangered under the endangered species act. And what the effect that will have is that every time somebody builds a new facility that has some effect in released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Fish and Wildlife Service are going to get involved and say, no, you can't do that because that will endanger the polar bear. That's crazy.
GLENN: Iain, here we are. We're in a precarious situation economically at best because of the financial institutions, we have global crises of food going up 83% in the last three years, we have Japan, a story that amazed me last night when I really started doing research on it. Japan is suddenly out of butter. You cannot buy butter in Japan. And I started looking into it and I'm like -- and this is really, it was the thread that I started pulling out and I'm like, oh, my gosh, this whole thing unravels here when you really start following this thread. You've got gas now, oil is at $116 a barrel. People are freaking out because they are paying $3.50 or $4 a gallon of gas. Gang, I got news for you. That is -- you are now paying at the pump what the oil futures, when the oil futures were at about $100 or $105 a barrel. There's a lot more to come and it's coming in the next couple of months because of the oil futures today at $116 or $118 yesterday. It's going to get higher.
When you have all of these things happening, food becoming unreachable for much of the world, oil prices becoming unreachable and a fragile economy, if the economy really starts to sink, I believe the only way any of these global warming things are going to be done is through executive order or in the cover of darkness in a whole bunch of broken up bills because the American people will say, no way, we can't afford this.
Do you think I'm right or wrong?
MURRAY: I think you are very much correct. That's the reason why Kyoto was signed by Al Gore on behalf of President Clinton in 1997. But did Gore and Clinton submit the Kyoto protocol to the Senate? No, because they knew that it would never get through the Senate. Even this Senate wouldn't pass something like Kyoto because they knew that they would be held to account by their constituents. So I don't think there's any way that any, what the environmentalists would call meaningful climate legislation is going to get through. The only way they will do it is they will pass some small bill which sets up an institution that is then insulated from legislative control.
GLENN: That's why they are going after the polar bears.
MURRAY: Absolutely. So they will have some sort of agency which can say, well, we're following the law; the law says we must do this. And they take decisions absent of any Democratic oversight and they go ahead and raise energy prices to the levels where people are forced to stop using energy. In other words, to levels that will plunge the country into recession.
GLENN: Iain, thank you very much. The name of the book is The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know -- Because They Helped Cause Them. Thanks for writing the book, Iain, and best of luck to you, man.
MURRAY: You're welcome, Glenn, anytime.
GLENN: You bet.