Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/12/2009 (7:42 pm)

The Escalating Wind Power Disaster

wind-turbine-reviewTestimony submitted to the government of Ontario last week demonstrates that wind power does not reduce carbon emissions in practice, and raises the cost of electricity for all users.

The Financial Post, a Canadian publication, last Wednesday published excerpts from testimony submitted to Ontario’s legislative committee by Mike Trebilcock, Economics and Law Professor at the University of Toronto. That testimony shows wind power to be useless in practice as a “green” energy source, and destructive to the economies of states that use them. Comments following the article in FP illustrate even more clearly the disaster that’s building under the rubric of “green energy.”

Dr. Trebilcock begins by citing Danish and German experience with wind:

The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).

Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that “Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram,” and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

The issue seems to be that because wind does not always blow, the generating capacity of the system needs to be equal to what it would be if the wind turbines were producing no power at all, and the coal-fired plants need to continue operating normally in order for the wind power plants to be able to contribute.

One of the comments on the article points out that most of the steel for the wind turbine towers is likely to be produced by Chinese steel plants, which burn soft coal at an alarming rate, and transported to the US by diesel-powered ships. These environmental costs were not part of the Danish and German assessments of the environmental impact of wind turbines.

The economics of the wind turbines are no better.

Again, the Danish experience is instructive. Its electricity generation costs are the highest in Europe (15¢/kwh compared to Ontario’s current rate of about 6¢). Niels Gram of the Danish Federation of Industries says, “windmills are a mistake and economically make no sense…”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in 2008, on a dollar per MWh basis, the U.S. government subsidizes wind at $23.34 — compared to reliable energy sources: natural gas at 25¢; coal at 44¢; hydro at 67¢; and nuclear at $1.59, leading to what some U.S. commentators call “a huge corporate welfare feeding frenzy…”

The Economist magazine notes in a recent editorial, “Wasting Money on Climate Change,” that each tonne of emissions avoided due to subsidies to renewable energy such as wind power would cost somewhere between $69 and $137, whereas under a cap-and-trade scheme the price would be less than $15.

This is not to be taken as an endorsement of cap-and-trade; it simply points out that the cost of wind power exceeds the enormous additional cost of electricity in a cap-and-trade system by at least a factor of 4, and possibly by a factor of 9. One of the commenters explains further, drawing on experience from a wind farm in New York State:

For example, a moderately sized windfarm in NY State that only became operational at the end of 2008, was in 2007 awarded by NY State Government a state grant of $65.3 million — LONG BEFORE IT EVER GENERATED ANY ELECTRICITY.

That funding came from the special tax (known as Renewable Portfolio Standard / RPS) billed monthly on each New York ratepayers’ monthly electricity bill for each kilowatt hour of all electricity used.

(see the final 2 paragraphs of the 18 March 2009 Malone Telegram article written by Darcy Fargo, viewable online at: www.wind-watch.org/…/noble-liens-snare-landowners ).

That 2007 monetary corporate welfare handout to the wind industry of the citizenry’s money is NOT based on electrical output (“MW per Hour”) as there were no “MW’s per Hour” being produced in 2007 by that windfarm.

Instead, that monetary handout of the citizenry’s money is based on theoretical maximum capacity (“MW” rating) which is determined and assigned by the wind industry’s own labs.

“MW” ratings which the wind industry assigns to every windfarm are NEVER electrical output. “MW” ratings of wind turbines and windfarms exist for three primary reasons: (1) to mislead the citizenry into believing each wind farm churns out far more electricity than it actually generates; (2) to obtain long term “futures contracts” (in aggregate totals far beyond any output that can ever be achieved) with businesses who are given “MW” Renewable Energy Certificated Credits printed by the wind company and transferred to each “futures contracted” business which in turn receives RPS citizen ratepayers’ cash from the Government to pay back to the wind company before any electricity is ever produced; and (3) to receive from Government other preproduction huge handouts of taxpayers’ and citizen ratepayers’ monies in the form of Government-provided grants and subsidies.

What we’re watching is an economic disaster of enormous proportions. Dr. Trebilcock’s testimony was presented to oppose Bill 150, a massive “green energy” bill that may hobble Canada’s economy. The US extended federal wind farm subsidies and subsidized state “green energy” grants as part of the stimulus bill that President Obama signed in February. We’re basically dumping money into “solutions” that do not reduce carbon emissions but lock America’s future into spending massive amounts of money for electricity — all the while ignoring the building of power plants that can actually contribute on a regular basis to economic growth.

This entire debacle is the result of listening to government rather than to industry. Industry sources look primarily at the economic costs of each energy source, and move towards those that are most reliable and easiest to maintain over the long haul — until government piles on incentives that distort the decision-making process. Government, on the contrary, is more likely to make decisions based on ideology and symbolism, and to ignore economic realities.

There are reasons why certain types of alternative energy sources are never built without heavy subsidies; those reasons almost always indicate that the energy source is not truly ready for the market. Left to themselves, industrial customers choose energy supply that is plentiful and reliable; contrary to loud and ignorant blather from environmentalists, this still means fossil fuels, and will continue to mean that for the next half-century at least. Left more or less to itself, the electrical industry would choose effective, low-polluting solutions that actually work, and would shift toward alternative sources whenever they actually become economically viable. Electric utilities are not suicidal; they would readily switch to alternative production if such production made economic sense, and will do so long before traditional sources are exhausted.

What we’re getting instead is the pipe dreams of Chicken Littles, who fear that the sky is falling; they’re insisting on switching to alternatives long before they’re required, and long before they’re ready. This fear-driven error will demolish our ability to produce and reduce the US economy to second-rate status in the world, and assure the rise of China, India, and South Korea as the new economic superpowers. If that were the goal, we could hardly have chosen a better path.

Hat tip to Blue Crab Boulevard.

03/22/2009 (7:39 am)

Green Hell

Doug Giles wrote a sweet little denunciation of global warming hysteria for Townhall.com that contains some prose that expresses how I feel with remarkable clarity, so I’m going to let him have the floor for a moment. Take it away, Doug:

For instance, if I buy a small car it will be because I want to buy a small car. I bought my wife a beautiful Mini CooperS, not because some green jackass shamed us into it but because it is a screaming little high-quality ride, a veritable street legal go cart that she can park in a mailbox, which is important in a place like Miami (not to mention she looks smoking hot in it, as well).

However, now that we, the slaves of Obamaland, are being humiliated by “them” to get a Thumbelina car that goes at a top speed of 20mph and runs on Balinese spider monkey urine, I’ve decided to sell the Mini and get the Ford F-1150 Global Warmer with the Middle Finger Package that visibly melts the polar ice caps and turns the sky black when you crank it up. Matter of fact, I think I’ll get two: one for her to drive and one just to start and let run in my driveway.

“Middle Finger Package.” Yup, that says it pretty well.

03/03/2009 (9:55 am)

Wrong, Yes. But Not Evil?

One of the more interesting developments showcased at CPAC this weekend was the pre-screening of a documentary film called Not Evil, Just Wrong. It’s a feature-length film purporting to show how the agenda of radical environmentalists causes real, human disasters, and how environmentalists ignore the plight of the real people they claim to defend.

The filmmakers, a pair of Irish media types named Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, were apparently environmentalists themselves, but had their eyes opened when they visited an impoverished village in Romania where a Canadian mining company was attempting to open a mine. Greenpeace was actively opposing the development, and McAleer came to write about the struggle to save the lifestyles of the quaint village. He says “I had the piece written before I got there, what does that tell you?” What they discovered was that what Greenpeace was calling “quaint” was actually grinding poverty, and that there was nobody in the town who did not want the mine. The result of the awakening was an hour-long documentary entitled Mine Your Own Business that focused on the economic need of the Romanian village and two others elsewhere in the world, and on the wealth and insensitivity of the environmental radicals that idealized their poverty.

nejwquote1Now these two are training their fervor on Al Gore and the attempt by the environmental movement to stifle the economic prosperity of the entire world. The film, explicitly a take-down aimed at the grotesquely inaccurate An Inconvenient Truth, begins by reviewing the DDT ban and its effect on Africa, where upwards of 40 million people have died of malaria since DDT fell out of use in the wake of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It proceeds from there to sound the alarm about the human cost of addressing global climate as proposed by Gore and his allies. By appearing at CPAC, the filmmakers apparently hope to raise sufficient funds to display the film in theaters all over America.

More power to ’em, sez me. One of the difficulties we’ve had over the years when facing environmentalists is that conservatives generally are just not nearly as mean as the enviros, and haven’t mastered the language of emotion. My previous paragraph has an example: I said “upwards of 40 million people have died of malaria.” Filmmaker McElhinney’s profile on www.noteviljustwrong.com says “…resulted in the deaths of more than 40 million children and adults in the developing world” (emphasis mine.) See the word “children?” Shameless button-pushing. It’s against my nature to do it. I detest manipulation. But the fact is, it works, and these folks know how to do it.

The economic reality behind the two films is simple: environmentalism is a leisure game for the rich. Nobody else can afford it. The river in the Romanian town in Mine Your Own Business is already polluted, according to McAleer; they can clean it up if the mine permits them to prosper, but otherwise they’re caught and have to live with the mess. It’s the prosperity of development that permits environmental awareness and sustainable development. This accounts for the fact that moderately-free-market America has done a much better job of controlling environmental damage from industrial development than socialist nations around the world. Three Mile Island today provides power to the Susquehanna Valley; Chernobyl houses a radioactive mess, and remains mostly uninhabited.

I have a question about the title, though. If the self-indulgent narcissism of rich fools results in the death of 40 million children and adults because they don’t see the humans affected by their self-indulgence, how is this not evil?

Below is a trailer from the film. I commend the project to you for consideration and support. Pay their web site a visit: http://www.noteviljustwrong.com. Note that their organization is formally a commercial venture, not a non-profit, so you can’t deduct contributions from your taxes, but that really shouldn’t matter.

08/22/2008 (1:19 pm)

Why Climate Skepticism is Crucial

Imagine being accused of a mass murder that won’t come to pass until 50 years hence, rendering it impossible to clear one’s name.

The movie Minority Report posits a future in which precognitive teenagers are used to identify murders before they take place, and on the basis of their precognition, potential murderers are captured, sentenced, and cryogenically frozen before they’ve committed the crime, thus saving the life of the victim. The film explores the potential injustice of such a system, among other things.

Now imagine the futuristic scenario applied to our own culture, only instead of predicting murders about to occur, the system predicts murders to occur in the distant future, 50, 100, 200 years away — and demands we take action now, not only to prevent the murders, but to punish the perpetrators and dissenters.

Welcome to the world of human-caused climate change.

My blog is partisan, and so am I, but I work hard at being a fair-minded and scientifically grounded partisan. I have a point of view, but I attempt to allow facts to inform and modify that point of view. I make serious and sincere attempts to understand my opponents’ points of view, to represent them fairly, and to answer them, not with cheap polemics, but with substance. A point of view that cannot be defended honestly with substance is a point of view that does not deserve defending at all.

With that in mind, I want to posit that the climate change debate only masquerades as a scientific debate. There is a scientific debate about climate change, and scientists should continue that debate, but what our culture is facing is not the result of that debate. On the contrary, in the culture at large the debate has been stifled, distorted, and co-opted by political partisans in an attempt to obtain political power. We’re facing a political take-down, and need to address it as such.

I was reading one of my favorite science blogs, Anthony Watts’ “Watts Up With That,” when I happened across the excellent scientific critique of Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth written by one of Watts’ readers, Bob Edelman. It had somewhat more detail than most critiques I’ve read, seemed fair-minded, and was followed by a lengthy and helpful discussion among his readers.

Included in that discussion was this outstanding explanation of why we can’t treat the subject merely as a scientific issue, produced by a commenter calling himself Wes George. I’ve reproduced his lengthy comment below, expanding his use of the acronym “AIT” to the full title An Inconvenient Truth. “AGW” stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming, global warming caused by man. His comments about “Demonweed” refer to a series of comments produced by a reader calling himself that, an astonishing series of insults, politicizing, accusations, all posturing Demonweed as the only non-partisan, scientifically literate person in the discussion when it was obvious that the converse was true — he was a partisan surrounded by his scientific elders and betters. Wes George’s comments about “Mann” and “Hansen” refer to scientist Dr. Michael Mann, who produced the infamous “Hockey Stick” history of global temperatures, and to NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, famous for his vigorous advocacy of human-caused climate change. George’s previous comment that he refers to by saying “I’ve already posted my analysis of what could happen politically…” I reproduce below as well.

I’ll let Wes George take it from here:

Mr. Edelman’s critique of An Inconvenient Truth sticks to the science claims in the film. By demonstrating most of the film is less than undisputed scientific fact he has exposed An Inconvenient Truth as demagoguery.

Further parsing of the factoid details allows the real crimes of the film to slip by undocumented. By only debating … An Inconvenient Truth’s accuracy [Edelman] bestows a kind of legitimacy to the film, as if its purpose was to promote a free and healthy debate. In fact, An Inconvenient Truth is designed to shut down public debate and create an atmosphere in which skeptical dissent isn’t tolerated.

See Demonweed’s posts for a mild taste of how roughly rational skeptics are to be handled in an online discussion. Now imagine how one might fare on the floor of next year’s Democratic National Convention as an AGW skeptic.

Machiavellian politics, vengeance, mythology, intrigue, faith, mendacity, fear, violence–a whole range of human follies more commonly invoked in discussions about Shakespeare’s work are at the core of An Inconvenient Truth, the science part of the film is in the genre. It emulates a documentary. Facts are to An Inconvenient Truth what spice is to gruel.

Indeed, human passions and politics are what this discussion should be about, because that is what Gore’s film has brought to the table. While we’re at it, Hansen’s voluminous screeds and Mann’s remarkable hockey stick graph should be included in any discussion about the sociopolitical struggles of AGW science and myth.

Demonweed wants to keep the discussion at the tit for tat techno-slur level as a diversion from a deep analysis of Al Gore’s political motives, allies and techniques. He doesn’t want us to delve into the bigger picture of why a major American political actor made a strongly partisan film that takes ownership of the AGW moral high ground for one side of politics strategically against the other.

I’m from Australia. The message received here by the average An Inconvenient Truth viewer was that big American corporations enabled by their party hacks in Washington are guilty of a future global holocaust. Imagine being accused of a mass murder that won’t come to pass until 50 years hence, rendering it impossible to clear one’s name. More like a Hollywood sci-fi plot than fair-game politics in a democracy. In fact, it’s both. The one thing it is not is science.

Hansen, Mann and Gore have all predicted a modern apocalypse even though the facts for such a precipitous prediction are in deep dispute. They make no effort to hide their partisan leanings, their prophecies of doom come appended with accusations and blame.

They should be exposed and held to account. And this is one of the few places on the planet to expose them. The document trail starts here. The accounting will come much later.

It’s a mistake to play Demonweed’s make-believe that we are in a scientific debate of the facts, sprinkled with a few slurs. This is blood and guts politics, folks.

I’ve already posted my analysis of what could happen politically across the Western democracies. I would only add that while one side of the political spectrum has found a compelling and holistic new mythology to unite and rejuvenate itself, the other side has simply no idea of the fall from grace that awaits them like a bridge out ahead.

Al is a latecomer to the AGW debate, but what a clever idea to politicize the weather! Al Gore discovered Love Canal and invented the Internet; now he has appropriated the AGW apocalypse myth as his own. This time he seems to have gotten away with the theft. If every hail storm, every oil tanker beached by high seas, every collapsed bridge or tornado could be pinned to a political opponent…

Every storm, every drought, every cold or warm front is an opportunity to say the magic words on the evening news–climate change. Everyone talks about the weather and like pop music, everyone has expertise. Everyone thinks they know the weather trends in their area and to them that’s climate change. Now everyone has someone to blame the next time the SUV gets hail damage and it won’t be Mother Nature. Weather is local. So is politics.

Don’t like this year’s weather? Vote now to change the Earth’s climate. Legislation will be introduced to outlaw the rising waves of the oceans.

And the oceans will be calmed.

“And the oceans will be calmed.” I believe Barack Obama actually said this in one of his campaign speeches: “This is the moment when the planet starts healing!”

Wes George’s previous comment went like this, in part (with a minor spelling error corrected):

The political Left, after having their theories of economics and socio-political organization so thoroughly discredited over the course of the last century, is now clutching the theory of AGW as the last great hope to halt the zeitgeist of global capitalism. Finally, the chance for that long hoped for socialist victory of the proletariat over their capitalist masters is nigh. Never mind that the paradigm of class warfare is so outdated as to be meaningless, nostalgia is a foundation of all extremism, left or right.

What a great boon for the unreconstructed Left: Hansen, Mann, et al have confirmed the Left’s deepest held beliefs. Capitalism is destroying the planet! The consensus rules! Damn the statistical details, the ends justify the mean. Scientific Method must be modified to meet political objectives since they have a bloody planet to save! Can there be any moral high ground higher than Saving The Planet From Capitalist Destruction? Forget the peer reviews and reproducible results; there is so little time left!

What we need is a zero-growth economy and we need it now. Of course, such an economy will have to be centrally controlled by a bureaucracy of right-thinking technocrats. And, of course, democracy as we know it today, will have to be curbed since it gives too much freedom to wrong-thinking people who would use their freedom in ways not conducive to Saving The Planet. Ultimately, a strong dictatorship, only for the immediate transition, you see, would be the most efficient way to confront AGW. Someone like a latter day Stalin, Mao or even an Ataturk would do. A Christ to drive the moneychangers from the temple. A Five Year Plan with mandatory targets.

If the above seems unimaginably goofy, then take a look at the newspapers of 1907 and recall how unimaginably silly the subsequent history of the 20 th century would appear to the pundits of the day.

Fight this like it’s a political battle, not like it’s a scientific one.

08/07/2008 (8:18 am)

Of Hair Shirts and Light Bulbs

This morning I get to rant about environmentalism, prodded by a self-deprecating essay by Stanley Fish about his guilt over his lack of enthusiasm for saving the planet. Mr. Fish’s wife insists on dozens of inconveniences to “save the planet” and “act responsibly,” and he goes along, regretting the inconvenience. Apparently Catholics and liberals share the enjoyment of guilt feelings.

Things reached something of a crisis point a few days ago when my wife asked me to read a communique from Greenpeace. (She thought, she told me, that if I read it rather than hearing about it from her, my unhappiness would be directed at the organization.) It said that Kimberly-Clark, the maker of the paper towels, facial tissue and toilet paper we buy, does not use recycled fiber and instead “gets its virgin wood fiber clear-cut from . . . the North American Boreal . . . one of the world’s most important forests.” And that meant, she told me, that we would have to give those items up and go in search of green alternatives…

What rankled me most was the toilet paper, but when I protested, my wife smiled at me with a mixture of indulgence and contempt. Some years ago, I beat back an attempt to eliminate paper towels altogether and replace them with re-washable rags. But there are too many battles to be fought and I find that I am losing most of them. I did retain the right to have a small supply of paper napkins in an out-of-the-way cupboard. (I hate cloth napkins; you always have to worry about soiling them; paper napkins you just throw away, which is of course the problem.) But my house is now full of environmentally approved lightbulbs (sic.) They are dim, ugly and expensive, but I am told that they will last beyond my lifetime. (That’s supposed to be reassuring?)

There is such a thing as responsible, adult environmentalism; it acknowledges the superiority of the products we use, and seeks responsibly to find effective substitutes. Usually the substitutes are found by researchers working for the companies that produce the offending products; our role is simply to ask for improvements. Usually the market tells us when a satisfactory substitute has been found — we all buy it, because it’s really better. We don’t need Green Church Ladies scolding us into using the real solutions.

What Mr. Fish is reacting to is something a lot less honorable, though — a modern version of self-flagellation that the self-righteous use to bolster their egos. The feel-good, emotionally needy environmentalist routinely substitutes inferior solutions for superior ones because the hardship makes them feel as though they’re actually doing something. Almost invariably, it turns out that the “solution” is more costly to the environment than the problem it purports to solve, because the real object is not a solution, the real object is a feeling of importance. Self-flagellating environmentalists never calculate the cost of their solutions, or their effect on GDP; they simply don’t want to know.

The instance of paper towels and re-washable rags illustrates the point. Yes, re-washable rags don’t require paper, but trees grow back, and paper deteriorates relatively quickly with no net harm to the biosphere. At the same time, the most troublesome water pollutant in urban areas is detergent, which is often persistent and does not break down easily. Increasing the wash burden by replacing paper towels with rags increases the problem.

Ironically, these moralizers are practicing the very same sort of laziness of which they accuse those who refuse to purge their souls through inconvenience. Medieval penitents wore clothing that made them bleed and whipped themselves to the point of swooning in order to feel they were suffering for God. Modern ones just use inferior light bulbs and carry their groceries in bags that tear. Even penitence has been cheapened by modern convenience. Perhaps if they bled more, we would respect them more. Then again, perhaps not.

Mr. Fish should shed his guilt. He’s the victim of the hyper-religious self-indulgence of others.

07/23/2008 (1:00 pm)

Energy Oppressors On the March

The American version of Gosplan, the Soviet Union’s central economic planning agency, was unveiled about two weeks ago by, of all agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m not kidding.

The EPA released its Advanced Notice for Proposed Rule-Making earlier this month, declaring its intention to regulate… well, everything. Everything that has an engine, anyhow. And buildings. And cows. They’re going to regulate cows.

The story is that the International Center for Technology Assessment, an environmentalist group, petitioned the EPA back in 1999, asking them to regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. The EPA denied their petition based on the claim that EPA lacked authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Several left-loon states took up their petition and marched it to the Supreme Court, where in 2007, deciding Massachusetts v. EPA, that infernal fool Anthony Kennedy joined the Seig Heil brigade of the Court leftists in declaring that yes, CO2 is a pollutant (it’s not — it’s plant food, but we can’t expect poor Anthony Kennedy to grasp this, can we?) and the EPA is authorized to regulate it.

So, now the EPA is unveiling its plans to regulate CO2. They plan to regulate every conceivable source of CO2. They plan to regulate it down to minuscule levels, far below the emissions levels that are currently, technologically possible. And in doing so, they plan to manage the entire US economy.

Here’s the description from the Heritage Foundation:

A few of the items the EPA wants to regulate: planes, trains, ships, boats, farm tractors, farm and mining equipment, lawn mowers, garden equipment, portable power generators, fork lifts, construction machines, and logging equipment. The EPA plan contemplates not only emission caps, but true central planning features such as mandated equipment redesign and operational changes. And that’s only the beginning.

The EPA plan also acknowledges that regulating carbon through the Clean Air Act would trigger regulation requirements under both the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) programs. Under the PSD program, any building exceeding 100,000 square feet would be subject to an expensive permitting process for new construction or modification. The EPA conservatively estimates this item alone will bring 1 million new sources under its regulatory regime.

Just last month the Senate rejected, again, a cap-and-trade plan for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. But don’t fear, environmentalists: The EPA claims it can introduce a cap-and-trade plan by fiat. The EPA admits designing a cap-and-trade system “would entail working with a large number of diverse interest groups on difficult issues involving redistribution of wealth on a scale that typically is decided by Congress rather than the Executive Branch.”

But the bureaucrats at the EPA are undaunted. They fully believe they can and should design a system requiring massive “redistributions of wealth.”

Did you get all that? They’re going to mandate equipment designs. They’re going to dictate operational procedures. They’re going to regulate building sizes. They’re going to institute Cap and Trade by Executive fiat. They’re going to tell us what sort of LAWN MOWER we’re allowed to use.

It’s not law — yet. However, all it will take for this Beast to become the law of the land is for the EPA to issue its final version, and the Chief Executive to refuse to stop it. Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.

This is the way the American experiment in self-government ends: a President gets coerced into nominating a spineless judge to the Supreme Court (do you really think Robert Bork would be flip-flopping between the left and right the way Kennedy has?), then roughly 20 years later, the Court authorizes central planning in the form of carbon emission control, and then an agency of the Executive branch implements it by fiat. Poof! The experiment is over. Huzzah for the Commissariat!

I’m not convinced that the election of a Republican President can stop this. McCain has showed remarkable gullibility on the subject of carbon emissions; he might just agree to these shackles on American ingenuity. There’s absolutely no question, however, that Obama would allow these regulations to take effect; he dreams about central control at night. This is a neo-Marxist dream coming true — and a nightmare for free people everywhere.

The Bush administration has been fighting diligently on all our behalf to keep the hard leftists in the EPA under control; this is what that ugly Nazi Waxman has been griping about for all these years, the Bush administration preventing the leftists from saying whatever they like through the EPA. He calls this “censorship;” I call it “responsible administration,” noting that the EPA does, in fact, report to the President. However, President Bush’s term is nearly over, and as stressful and unsatisfying as his tenure has been, and if this EPA nightmare comes to pass we may look back and long for it.

Hat tip goes to the Wall Street Journal for bringing this to our attention. We need a groundswell of outrage to stop the American system from being shackled into poverty by bureaucrats. Take it to the streets, people.

06/18/2008 (11:38 am)

Al Gore Spreads Some More

Rightward bloggards are hooting at the announcement from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research that despite $16,000 worth of alleged energy-saving technological add-ons, Al Gore’s house’s energy footprint went up about 10% last year. Worth a chuckle.

The part of the story that interests me is the expense of the modifications, and their effect. The economic payback of home energy-related modifications is usually pretty long, often in the 20 year range, and that doesn’t take maintenance costs into account. What’s not often considered is that the price of the modification is a marker for how much energy got burned in production, delivery, and installation; not a perfect proxy, naturally, because the price reflects some mix of labor, capital, and materials, and the energy efficiency of the components varies, but a rough proxy nonetheless. Consequently, even successful modifications usually burn more energy in the short run than they save in the next 20 years or so. If the problem we’re trying to solve is global impact, such a solution is not a solution at all.

And, of course, that’s presupposing a successful modification. Gore’s modifications apparently increased his energy usage, which means they’ll never pay back, although Allahpundit over at Hot Air raises some questions about this.

It all goes to say: if we’re going to change our patterns, let’s change things that actually might make a difference. If we can’t make a difference, there’s no point in changing. Make the modifications if they save you money soon; if not, don’t bother, the technology’s not ready for prime time.

Al Gore’s home energy usage says nothing about the scientific assessment of climate change, which is a serious enough matter (my readers here know I think the science does not support the claim that humans are causing a disaster by increasing atmospheric CO2). It does point out, though, the cynical opportunism of one of the major proponents of the claim that humans need to drastically alter their usage patterns in order to save the planet. Yes, it makes sense that a powerful organizer would have to fly all over the place to perform his globe-saving function, if that’s what it is. However, what we’re talking about here is what he does at home — and at home, it becomes evident that Mr. Gore cares a bit more about his creature comforts than he does about actually saving the planet. If he was serious about the changes he’s advocating, wouldn’t he be doing them himself? Couple that with how much Gore himself appeared on the screen in his own film, and with an assessment of how nicely he’s positioned to profit if people believe him, and we have a profile of a man who’s got his own interests in mind.

Jammie Wearing Fool has a pretty tasty snark on the former Vice President. Photoshop image from fark.com.

04/22/2008 (11:06 am)

Happy Earth Day

My acknowledgment of Earth Day begins with a link to Scott Johnson’s report at Power Line concerning the recently-published 13th edition of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, by Stephen Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute. From the Pacific Research Institute’s page advertising the new book:

As this report and others like it have explored for more than a decade, environmental improvement in the United States has been substantial and dramatic, almost across the board. The chief drivers of this improvement are economic growth, constantly increasing resource efficiency, technological innovation in pollution control, and the deepening of environmental values among the American public.

Government regulation has played a central role, to be sure, but in the grand scheme of things it is a lagging indicator of change, and often achieves results at needlessly high cost. Were it not for rising affluence and technological innovation, regulation would have much the same effect as King Canute commanding the tides.

As a free marketeer, I’m pleased to note the recognition that government regulation did not, and could not, produce the level of change in environmental quality that we’ve seen. The primary causes seem to have been public recognition of the problem, followed by technological innovation to solve it. Government mostly created initiatives that wasted money.

As a citizen of the US and a human being who survives by breathing, I’m pleased to note that the air we breathe and the water we drink are a great deal cleaner than they were 30 years ago. That’s a relief. Johnson asked Hayward to preview his report for his readers, and his reply included this summary:

Air pollution is on its way to being eliminated entirely in the U.S. in about another 20 years. Levels of air pollution have fallen between 25 and 99 percent (depending on which pollutant you examine), with the nation’s worst areas showing the most progress. For example, Los Angeles has gone from having nearly 200 high ozone days in the 1970s to less than 25 days a year today. Many areas of the Los Angeles basin are now smog-free year round.

Water pollution is more stubborn and harder to measure (and is being made worse in the Mississippi River basin by the government’s crazy ethanol mandate), but here too there have been major improvements since the first Earth Day in 1970. The Great Lakes have been cleaned up, with many previously endangered species of birds now thriving. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland doesn’t catch fire any more. The amount of toxic chemicals used in American industry has fallen by 61 percent over the last 20 years, even as industrial output has grown. Forestland in the U.S. has been expanding at a rate of nearly 1 million acres a year over the last generation.

Environmentalism is pretty much a leisure activity of the wealthy; poorer nations cannot afford to put as much effort into cleaning up their industry as richer ones can. This is why the continued health of American industry is so important; poorer nations buy our technology, and our technology is cleaner than older technology, with the result that the environment in other places in the world improves as ours does. Few things could be worse for the environment worldwide than crippling American industry…

…which leads me to my second Earth Day topic, Global Climate Change Hype.

The very same Stephen Hayward wrote an Earth Day article titled the same as mine at Human Events, an exposition of political scientist Anthony Downs’ theory of the “issue-attention cycle,” the cycle of alarm that global fright issues seem to follow. Hayward seems to think that the media will soon grow bored with global climate change and move on to other things. I certainly hope he is correct; however, since climate change is the most successful wedge issue to date by which world socialism can justify increasing domination of world economies, I suspect we’re going to continue hearing about it until well after the science has completely discredited the scare.

With the idea of media attention in mind, I offer two YouTube clips that I gathered this morning, and links to a few more. The first reports a scary incident in which a BBC web article reporting the continued global cooling trend was changed dramatically, apparently based solely on the insistence of a single, unnamed activist. Glenn Beck reports on this remarkable examination of how the media bends its presentation of climate issues to bolster the “Emerging Truth” of human-caused global climate change. The second reviews just a few of the scare tactics used in Al Gore’s scientifically laughable documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and makes a relevant point: climate science, we should take seriously; Al Gore, we should not.

I’m also providing the following links to YouTubes that I found today, as follows:

A brief video reminding us that CO2 is a highly beneficial gas, not a pollutant, and that the most likely result of increasing global CO2 is increased plant growth;

A video illustrating a number of discrepancies between the predictions of climate models and actual observations of the planet (note that the climate models are the only remaining support for the claim that humans are causing dangerous climate change);

Another rip on Al Gore’s inability to get the scientific facts straight, with my apologies for the uncouth rap lyrics playing behind it.

If you haven’t caught it by now, I think Al Gore’s film was wildly inaccurate, irresponsibly so. None of the exposés I’ve seen mention my favorite error: Gore’s thoroughly disingenuous recognition that Dr. Naomi Oreske’s survey of scientific articles, in which she claimed there were no articles in a 10-year period that questioned the majority view that humans were the cause of global climate change, misstated the actual number of articles on the topic by an order of magnitude. He spun it by calling her survey, which she claimed was exhaustive, “10%, a sample,” proving that he knew the survey was invalid even while presenting it as factual. Also, none of them have mentioned his cute slide in which he claims that if you leave a glass of ice to melt, it will overflow the glass, supposedly illustrating the danger of melting polar ice caps. Any 6th grade student who’s done this experiment in science class can tell you that ice has a greater volume than water, and that if you leave a glass of ice in the sun, the level goes down, not up. (Author notes long after the fact: this is actually incorrect. The change in density makes the ice float higher on the water, so if ice floating on water, like the north polar ice cap, melts, the water level stays exactly the same. Either way, Gore’s slide attempting to show the water rising is dead wrong.) Gore’s slide illustrates a violation of the laws of physics. He has to know this. Gore isn’t just wrong, he’s a liar.

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