If it Saves One Life and Other Meretricious Lies

It’s not unusual that power-mad politicians justify depriving us of liberty using the appeal to emotion:“If it saves one life.” Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo justified the statewide shutdown with this poppycock: “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” Former president Obama said “If we save even one life from gun violence, it’s worth it.” Then vice president Joe Biden endorsed that: “As the President said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.”

This is not justifiable constitutionally any more than it is factually: These actions often cost far more lives than the theoretical one life saved. Everything in life is a tradeoff

 If we really believed that any law is justified if it saves just one life, we would require all Americans to pass a mental health evaluation on a regular basis or be institutionalized (more than 38,000 Americans commit suicide annually). We would outlaw all motor vehicles (almost 35,000 Americans die in vehicle accidents annually). We would require all houses to be single-story structures (more than 26,000 die in falls annually). We would ban alcohol (almost 17,000 die annually from alcohol-related liver disease). We would require people to be certified as swimmers before allowing them into any large body of water (more than 3,500 die from drowning annually). We would prohibit women from getting pregnant unless they had no family history of birth complications (more than 900 American women die in childbirth annually).

Of course, none of these things will ever happen, nor should they. Life is full of dangers that cannot be legislated away. 

 My online friend Alex Bensky nailed it:

They don't mean "if it saves just one life" anyway…  and nobody does.

When I was substitute teaching, a few years ago someone brought this up in a high school class, I forget the particular policy the girl was urging, and I suggested that we don't in fact believe this. "If you gave me the power to make laws," I said, "I could save ten thousand or more lives a year but no one here would support how I would do it."

How would that be: "I would raise the driving age to twenty-five, install a national speed limit of thirty-five miles an hour everywhere, including interstate highways. I would require a year in prison and five years loss of license for the first DUI and five years in prison and lifetime loss of license for the second DUI.

"This would save at least ten thousand lives a year and probably many more. How many of you would support any of this?"

Of course, if they wanted to save "just one life" they'd support a ban on third trimester abortion. Otherwise, this "if it saves one life" is as cheap and meretricious as claiming that whatever cockamamie and expensive program the left likes is "for the children. 

Two years ago, the UN found that the coronavirus lockdowns disrupted healthcare services and “may have led to an estimated 239.000 maternal and child deaths in South Asia.”

While we are dealing with a smaller population than that of South Asia, many deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to the “save one life” lockdowns. 

During the first two years of the pandemic, “excess deaths” -- the death toll above the historical trend -- markedly exceeded the number of deaths attributed to Covid. In a paper we just published in Inquiry, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that “non-Covid excess deaths” totaled nearly 100,000 a year in 2020 and 2021. 

Even these numbers likely overestimate deaths from Covid and underestimate those from other causes. Covid testing has become ubiquitous in hospitals, and the official count of “Covid deaths” includes people who tested positive but died of other causes. On the other side, some Covid deaths early in the pandemic weren’t diagnosed as such. We adjusted for the latter effect but not the former.

What are non-Covid excess deaths? During the pandemic, deaths from accidents, overdoses, alcoholism and homicide all soared, as did deaths from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. From April 2020 through December 2021, deaths from Covid averaged 350,000 a year for Americans 65 and older, 100,000 a year for those 45 to 64, and 20,000 a year for those 18 to 44. That produced excess deaths for these age groups of 16%, 19% and 11% respectively. (The percentages reflect the lower base death rate for younger age groups as well as the raw numbers.)  

If it Saves One Snail Darter

Just as this nonsensical appeal to emotion was used to justify lockdowns, the green movement thrives on emotional pap which hides the true cost of their policies. I’m old enough to remember how a major energy project (Tellico) was held up for six years at high cost to energy customers and the local economy because the claimed need to protect the snail darter from extinction. It was subsequently transplanted and thrives. The media, using a variation of “if it saves one life” yammered on about the need to preserve every species (actually in that case a subspecies) of a miniscule fish versus the needs of those people in the Tennessee Valley. It’s not the only time some exaggerated claims about a minor species was used to halt needed conventional energy projects, but it was the first of several which set the standard.

Not so lucky are the North Atlantic right whales, who are being killed practically to actual extinction by offshore windmills, an energy source which is at best intermittent, relies on extraction of metals which cause environmental degradation and fossil fuels to create, and are exceedingly difficult to dispose of once damaged beyond repair or usage. The death of these endangered whales is receiving little coverage in comparison, and when there is coverage there’s subterfuge for the reason for their demise. The reason for this misinformation is simply graft: 

Increased boat traffic and high-decibel sonar mapping of the ocean floor by the wind energy industry are behind the rising deaths of whales and other cetaceans off the East Coast over the last six years and could make the North Atlantic Right whale extinct, according to researchers featured in a new documentary, ”Thrown To The Wind.” Data analyst Lisa Linowes found that increased boat traffic from offshore wind construction strongly correlates with whale deaths. Researcher Rob Rand discovered the wind industry engaging in high-decibel sonar mapping, which scientists say can split mothers from their calves, send them to poorer feeding grounds to escape the noise, and drive them into highly trafficked boat lanes where they face a higher likelihood of being struck by a boat and killed.

The people who run the U.S. government agencies in charge of protecting the whales have either conducted similar research, come to the same conclusions, and covered them up, or they had not done the research, in which case they lied to the public when they claimed to have looked into the matter and determined that the wind industry was not behind the whale deaths. Either way, the killing of whales by the wind industry and the role of the US government is one of the greatest environmental scandals in the world. 

And yet the mainstream news media have to date not only failed to cover it, they have themselves spread misinformation. The New York Times’ top environment writer, Lisa Friedman, relied entirely on US government sources when she called the connection between the wind industry and whale deaths “misinformation.” AP also relied entirely on government sources when it ran an article sub-headlined, “Whale Deaths Not Linked to Wind Prep Work.” USA Today dismissed the connection as “cynical disinformation.” And the Guardian falsely suggested that conservationists raising the alarm had secret ties to “right-wing think tanks” and the oil and gas industry. 

What’s more, the New York Timesthe APthe GuardianUSA Today, and most other mainstream news publications that have published articles on the North Atlantic Right Whale’s dwindling numbers either didn’t mention offshore wind construction as a potential factor or inappropriately dismissed it. [snip]

The reporter, Jennifer Dlhouey [Bloomberg], even filed a Freedom of Information Act to get the information.

The Washington Post reported on the proximity of the dead whales to the wind turbine construction. [snip]

But even the piece by the Post suggested that most of the opposition to the wind industry was coming from the fossil fuel industry, and ran articles headlined “The Value of Offshore Wind” and “An Ideal Setting For Offshore Wind Technology” about one of the East Coast wind farms.

These windmills have a negligible role in reducing carbon emissions and in increasing employment opportunities. They will not lower electricity prices. In fact, it’s estimated they will increase them by 64%.

The population of North Atlantic right whales has plummeted. Today there are only 340 of the whales left, down from over 400 just a few years ago. Their average life expectancy has declined from a century to 45 years.

Biden, the Democrats, and progressive think tanks all say they care about working people, climate change, and the natural environment more than Republicans and conservatives. Why, then, are they pursuing offshore wind that would raise electricity prices, hurt working people, and kill whales, perhaps to the point of extinction?

If you guessed “grift” you’d be correct. In exchange for substantial subsidies, the wind power industry is making big donations to the Democrats, and if the Democrats and their allies like Media Matters are being fattened up to promote offshore wind projects, why would the major media dare expose that the cost-benefit accounting sheet is pure fraud?

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