Environment 'fads' attacked: Right-wingers question value of cloth nappies and recycling

DISPOSABLE nappies are more 'green' than cloth ones, no trees are saved by recycling paper and the population explosion will take care of itself, according to a document from the right-wing Adam Smith Institute published today.

The report was compiled by Russell Lewis, former director of the free-market orientated Institute of Economic Affairs. It runs through what he calls the 'fashionable fads' of environmentalists.

On nappies, he says 'scientific studies' show cloth nappies are more harmful since they consume water and energy for cleaning and put chemicals from washing powder into the environment. Mr Lewis was unable, however, to locate references for any of the scientific studies quoted, and these are not appended to the report because it is intended to be of 'popular interest'.

His report questions the value of recycling paper, which requires transportation, as well as chemicals to remove ink and bleach. It says 'nearly all paper comes from 'farmed' trees grown in response to need,' and describes the value of such younger trees in absorbing more carbon dioxide than older trees, so helping to counter the build-up of carbon from the use of fossil fuels. It does not mention that the carbon stored by trees is released when their wood is used.

On over-population, it says: 'New technology and human ingenuity will more than take care of whatever population growth occurs.'

Chris Rose, programme director at Greenpeace, said the report was 'a pick and mix' of one-off examples, some true and some false. Mr Lewis concludes that the solution to environmental concerns lies in 'the sensible application of market forces'. Greenpeace agreed, for some issues, but said that nuclear reprocessing, for example, cried out for rigorous market analysis, but organisations such as the Adam Smith Institute were shy of taking on the task.

The Environmental Alphabet; Adam Smith Institute; 071-222 4995; pounds 25.

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