Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science, National Security | Tags: Anti-Chemical Activists, Genetically Modified Food, Organic Food Fables
Food prices are up, and manufacturers are trying hard to keep you from noticing. Cereal boxes remain the same height, but they are thinner. Baker’s chocolate, formerly in 8 oz. boxes, now comes in boxes that are about ¼” smaller in every direction, contains half as much chocolate “NEW! 4 oz. Easy Break Bar, Same great chocolate. ” Still the same great price, for half as much. Sugar packages have lost a pound of content. I don’t like seeing food prices climb, but I object even more to manufacturers’ attempts to fool me.
If we insist, as a nation, on putting most of our corn crop into our gas tanks — the result is food price inflation. Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. Core inflation is running around 2%, but the USDA said food prices would be up 3% to 4% last year. Corn ethanol does nothing for the climate, and it contains less energy than gasoline. You’re just paying farmers to grow fuel instead of food. A rise in the price of corn affects the price of other farm commodities such as meat, poultry, dairy and soy products. Congress ended the direct ethanol subsidies in 2011, but the renewables standard remains, and it is the biggest factor. Food prices hit the poor the hardest, and the ethanol mandate is essentially a tax on the poor.
“Organic” foods have been heavily promoted. They cost about 30% more than non-organic foods, but the label “organic” means only that growers used “natural” fertilizers and “natural” pesticides, but pesticide residue does not cross the conservative safety thresholds set by regulators. Natural fertilizer refers to animal manure —pathogen-laden animal excreta. “Organic” is supposed to be better for the natural environment, but it isn’t so, it just uses more land. The term “organic” refers to the practices and procedures a farmer intends to use. It does not indicate superior nutrition, flavor, or healthful qualities. It’s not better for you, just more expensive.
And for sheer silliness, consider the locavores. Now that with modern transportation we can have summer foods in the winter, plentiful vegetables when it’s snowing out, and strawberries all year around, the purists insist on locally grown food, with the suggestion that it is much fresher. But there’s not much local in the winter, and it may be flown in faster anyway.
Environmentalists are the loons who care more about the environment than about people. Fringe anti-biotechnology activists are hell-bent on banning anything containing a chemical. Chemicals are bad. A current interest is genetically modified food. Modify people’s genes as much as you want, select the desired sex and attributes of your potential baby, but don’t modify plants to be more resistant to disease, or insert a gene for Vitamin A to prevent blindness, as in “golden rice,”— an incalculable benefit to parts of the world dependent on rice, yet lacking the essential vitamin in their food supply. Better to have blind kids than mess with their food. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) are not GMO skeptics, as they like to portray themselves, but fringe anti-chemical activists operating on the “precautionary principle” or the theory that if something is ‘suspected’ of potentially causing harm, you have to prove that it will not.
We are growing more food on less land, the green revolution, that will help to feed a hungry world. Food for the Poor is asking for help to feed starving Guatemalan children. Egypt is having trouble feeding their own people. We have over 17 years of successful GMO cultivation, millions of acres, hundreds of millions of servings and not one instance of adverse health or environmental effects. It is a remarkable achievement, and there are far more achievements in the pipeline.
Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that’s because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. have spearheaded a “labeling” movement that would distinguish modified food from other food on grocery store shelves. Never mind that 60%-70% of processed food on the market contains genetically modified ingredients. In much of Europe, farmers are barred from growing genetically modified crops. Even in Africa, anti-biotechnology sentiment has blocked its application. In Zambia, for example, the government refused donations of GM corn in 2002, even as its people starved.
Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don’t, as one discredited study claimed recently, cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn’t responsible for suicides among Indian farmers—a 2008 study by an alliance of 64 governments and nongovernmental organizations debunked that myth completely. And GM crops don’t harm bees or monarch butterflies.
Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops. A good first step is for educated, scientifically literate people to avoid being taken in by the myths about genetically modified food. These innovations have too much potential to empower individuals and feed the world to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, News | Tags: Endangered Species, From Mongolia, Przewalski's Horses
This handsome little fellow is not a nod to our political opponents, but a Przewalski’s foal, born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in England, helping to preserve a species that was once extinct in the wild. Due to hunting and competition with livestock for water and pasture, Przewalski’s horses became extinct in Mongolia, their last refuge in the wild, in the 1970′s. This male foal was born last October and was the first born at Port Lympne in a almost a decade. Through a cooperative captive breeding program, the species has been bred in captivity and protected. After successful reintroductions to the wild , Przewalski’s Horses were listed as Critically Endangered, and revised in 2011 to just Endangered. The birth of a new foal is another vital step in continuing to protect this rare species. Here he is with mom.
Zoos have come a long way just in my lifetime. Visit zoo borns often to see the good work they do, and the cute offspring of species you never heard of.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Disgraceful Decisions, Environmental Extremism, Humans Don't Count
King Cove, Alaska is a remote town in the Aleutians of around a thousand people. It’s a fishing village that has a tiny airport which is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. For trauma cases, childbirth and complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away, for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, doctors and hospitals.
King Cove requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile-long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all-weather access to lifesaving medical care. Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.
“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience that “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.“ She rejected the road, saying that “it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”
The assorted kinds of waterfowl with which I am familiar are a moveable species. If a truck is coming down a road, they are capable of moving off or across a one-lane road. These are not flightless species. Bears can manage to cross roads as well as other species to be found in the Aleutians. What could this woman who calls herself an “environmentalist” have possibly been thinking?” A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move from a road trumps human life every time? Well, that’s environmentalism for you every time. Self-righteous in their passion for wildlife; callous and cruel to humanity. Obama can really pick them. Disgusting.
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Freedom, History | Tags: Idaho's Clearwater River, Loggers and River Men, The Last Log Drive
Northern Idaho had a splendid stand of white pine. Logging on the upper Clearwater river began in North Central Idaho in 1928 and continued until 1971. That last great Log Drive, was an historic ninety-mile river trek from the upper reaches of the North Fork of the Clearwater down to the Potlatch mill, the world’s largest white pine sawmill, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.
The 1971 Log Drive was described as the last major white-water sawlog river drive in the United States. In 1971, the completion of the Dworshak Dam meant the end of log drives and inundated the stretch of the North Fork of the Clearwater. Most drives started about May 10th and lasted about 21 days. In the spring, loggers prepared for the snow melt and rising waters. The Wanigan was assembled— a floating cookhouse with two bunkhouses that would follow the drive down the river. Food, tools, safety equipment and work-boats were prepared. It was a cold, harsh and dangerous environment for the river men. Their job was to recover any logs hung up on the banks, sand bars or islands and send them on their way again.
In the early years of the drive, flumes were built from the woods to the bank of the river. Tree lengths were skidded down to the river then bucked by sawyers into saw logs about 16½ feet long. Peavey crews accompanied the logs, keeping them moving, breaking up jams and sometimes having to dynamite jams to get them moving again.
This picture gives you an impression of the mass, and the potential for jams. The men wore heavy caulked boots with thick leather soles and steel caulks for traction on the logs.A slip could not only send you into icy water, but the logs were dangerous. Work boats were originally bateaux with oars, then outboards and they eventually developed jet boats with powerful engines that could help to pull logs out of jams.
After a day of cold, hard dangerous work, three hot meals a day were important and the number one priority on the drive was a good cook. The company furnished the best cook and the best food they could get. Hearty meals meant a lot, and the work developed good appetites.
Here a wanigan hits a patch of white water — this wanigan will have a bunkhouse on each end, with double steel framed bunks, with warm wool blankets and an Arctic heater that burned presto logs for warmth at night, and in the middle the cookhouse with a smaller stove than most kitchens, and a cook who also had to pilot the raft.
Here’s a good shot of the peavey men at work. They still make peaveys, and there are still lumber mills and lumber mills have mill ponds, but the big log drives are gone forever.
Here is a longer photo-essay with more pictures, if you are interested in the days when real men did hard things, in God’s country.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, Politics, Science/Technology | Tags: Germany's Energiewende, Greening the Planet, It Costs Too Much
This video is a year old this month, but the very clear message seems not to have reached the true believers, so I’m re-posting it. Apple CEO Tim Cook has just told global warming skeptics to “get out of this stock.” In essence, he told every Apple shareholder to take a hike and waved away any potential investors.
When Mr. Cook met with shareholders on Friday, a group proposed that the company be more open about its environmental activism and more transparent about the costs it incurs as it increases its dependence on renewable energy. “If you want me to do things only for ROI (return on investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he said.
What he was saying is that profit is overrated, and if you aren’t interested in a warm feeling from political activism, you are misdirected. Cook succeeded Steve Jobs in 2011, and Apple has gone for fighting global warming in a big way, tripling the use of renewable energy for its offices to 75%, The goal is to go 100% renewable.
Unfortunately, comparing costs is interesting. The cost per megawatt hour of a new natural gas power plant averages $66, while the tab for wind is $96, and solar photovoltaic $153, and solar thermal $242. It not only costs way more, it doesn’t do anything whatsoever to stop the natural warming and cooling of the planet. And you may have noticed that cooling is the current mode. There has been no warming for over 17 years.
European countries are becoming aware of the vast drag on their economies from their investment in “renewable” energy. Germany is realizing that its Energiewende — its radical energy policies — cost taxpayers €22 billion last year alone, making businesses uncompetitive.
True believers aren’t interested in facts, but are hell-bent on saving the planet. It’s a religious belief, and it’s adherents are cult-like in their devotion.
Over the past three decades, our planet has gotten greener!
Even stranger, the greening of the planet in recent decades appears to be happening because of, not despite, our reliance on fossil fuels. While environmentalists often talk about how bad stuff like CO2 causes bad things to happen like global warming, it turns out that the plants aren’t complaining.
Filed under: Politics, Domestic Policy, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism, Junk Science | Tags: Obama's Climate Action Plan, Climate Change Hubs, Interfering With Farmers
Your federal Government at work. President Obama has enacted part of his promised “Climate Action Plan” today with the creation of regional “Climate Hubs” to coordinate a response to global warming with farmers, ranchers and owners of forest land. This is another executive order by the president without benefit of Congressional
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaption and Mitigation to Climate Change “are going to do a risk analysis of crop production and of forestry, in terms of changing climates.”
This is, you see, part of Obama’s State of the Union promise “to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.” Unfortunately there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” We are carbon-based life forms. Carbon is one of the basic building blocks of life. No carbon — no life. There is not a thing that Mr. Obama can do to “slow the effects of climate change.”
Well, nevermind. They are going to “responsibly” cut carbon pollution. CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants. It helps plants withstand cold, and many climate scientists believe we are looking at another 20 years of cooling at least. There has been no warming for 17 years.
The problem with Liberals is not that they don’t know anything, but that they know so many things that just aren’t so. The New Yorker: “How Cold Weather Makes You Forget About Global Warming:” Suggests the media needs to “frame the (cold) weather within the context of climate change, emphasizing that it was unnatural.”
“It may come as a surprise to you — it certainly did to me — that 51 percent of the entire land mass of the United States is engaged in either agriculture or forestry. This is a part of our economy that is significant: 16 million people are employed as a result of agriculture, and it represents roughly 5 percent of the gross domestic product,” Vilsack said, adding that the recent severe snow storms and the persistent California drought are a “reflection of the changing weather patterns that will, indeed, impact and affect crop production, livestock production, as well as an expansion of pests and diseases and could compromise agriculture and forestry.”
Well, if we’d start appointing Agriculture Secretaries who have some familiarity with farming, it would help. Vilsack’s qualification was that he had been governor of Iowa. He was also a big backer of the Pigford claimants who fraudulently pretended to be farmers to get enormous amounts of reparations from the government.
Vilsack’s examples of how the new hubs might work would be to identify technologies and practical science-based guidance that will say to farmers — this is how you need to manage, this is what you need to grow, and what seed technology you need. The general direction described doesn’t sound as if this is something the farmers have requested, but simply more Federal busywork. Farmers know a lot more about what they need to do than the Federal government does.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Environment, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Extraordinary Political Cartoons, Investor's Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily
What more needs to be said? (click to enlarge) IBDeditorials.
Filed under: Art, Environment, Freedom | Tags: Busy Bees, Spring Will Be Coming, The Beauty of Pollination
What could be sexier than pollination? With the weather freezing in much of the country, our weather here in the Puget Sound area is mild, but nippy (in the high 40°s) and it’s been foggy for days. Still, a nice pollination video is just what the doctor ordered. Reposted from last year.
Filed under: Environment, History, Movies, News, United Kingdom | Tags: Historic Icebreaker Photos, Sir Ernest Shackleton, The Endurance Expedition
The Week has assembled a group of historic photographs of icebreakers here, from a much longer historical photography collection from the U.S.Coast Guard, showing icebreaking since the mid 1800s. You start getting interested in the Arctic and Antarctic, and explorations and rescues, and first thing you know, you’re collecting every book you can find about Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations and the Endurance, and then you get the 2002 Kenneth Branagh film (excellent) and books about the incredible expedition and examples of leadership, survival and courage, and you’re hooked. You’ll be ordering up the whiskey reproduced from the Scotch Whiskey buried for a hundred years, in Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition Hut. There’s even a book about that.
Filed under: Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, Science/Technology | Tags: Akademic Shokalskiy, Looking for Climate Change, Stranded in the Ice
The Climate Change activists stranded with their guests on the Russian ship Akademic Shokalskiy in the ice in Antarctic summer, have been rescued by a Chinese helicopter and airlifted to a nearby Australian icebreaker, which had tried and failed to reach the stranded ship. The Russian ship’s twenty-member crew has stayed with the Akademic Shokalskiy, well supplied with food and fuel. Three rescue attempts had failed due to growing levels of sea ice and weather conditions.
The Australasian Antarctic expedition was intended to demonstrate the extent to which sea ice was disappearing due to climate change. They believed the ice was sure to be vanishing, and invited paying passengers to accompany them on their scientific expedition. They had been stranded since Christmas morning. Forty one stories about the ‘mission’ failed to mention climate change or global warming, or why the ship was there. The fact that there has been no warming for over 17 years is rarely mentioned in the media.
Chris Turney, the expedition’s leader, is a professor of climate change at the University of South Wales. According to Turney’s personal website the purpose of the expedition was to “discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.” A global warming mission in the Antarctic summer.
The idea that the earth was warming excessively originated in computer climate programs, which have been demonstrated over and over to be ineffective at predicting climate. People whose livelihood and career depend on grants for study of various aspects of global warming are seldom willing to admit that it has all been a fraud — and the earth is always warming and cooling in long cycles that aren’t yet that well understood.
Journalists who write on climate and environment belong to the Society of Environmental Journalists. If the panic about an overheating globe is over, what will the journalists write about? And then there’s the politics of climate change. President Obama is still convinced that saving the country from the rise of the oceans, and our fatal dependence on foreign oil requires ever more funding from taxpayers. It’s a very complicated situation, and there are lots of true believers, and lots of people who want to invest in “renewable energy,” and where did you think all those grants come from, anyway?
ADDENDUM: It appears that the Australian icebreaker which is rescuing the intrepid Antarctic
publicity climate change seekers is now stuck in the ice as well as the original ship. This is, however, weather, as is the cold spell blanketing the Eastern states. Very exciting, gives the environmental journalists a lot to write about. Manitoba is colder than Mars. Oops! Got this one wrong. The Chinese rescue helicopter came from a Chinese icebreaker the Xue Long to which the rescued climate activists were transferred. The Xue Long is having trouble with advancing ice, and is attempting to manouever through it but has notified the Australians that they may need help from their icebreaker which has been put on standby.
The idea that the global warming scientists would prove anything by looking at a small section of the ice sheet which covers 4.5 million square miles is — silly. The whole thing does not grow or shrink all at once, some parts grow, some parts shrink, and that string of volcanoes under part of the ice only confuses matters. Weather is sudden chill that creates more ice, climate is averages of what happens over time.
ADDENDUM II: The plot thickens. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has requested help from the United States Coast Guard. We still have one heavy duty just-refurbished ice breaker. The Polar Star left Seattle in early December on one of its primary missions— Operation Deep Freeze — to break a channel through to McMurdo Sound to resupply and refuel the U.S. Antarctic Program’s (USAP) McMurdo Station on Ross Island. They will cut short their planned stop in Sydney to support the AMSA’s request for assistance before moving on to break a channel through to McMurdo.
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Global Warming, History, Junk Science, Politics, Regulation, Science/Technology, The United States | Tags: Badly Applied Law, Not All Extinct Species Are Extinct, The Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act became law on December 28, 1973, forty years ago. A law intended to conserve species and habitat has meant recovery for less than 2% of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened, but as an industry for enriching lawyers and environmental activist groups it has been remarkably successful. Benefiting the environment? Not so much.
The law was well intentioned, but was meant to depend on science and data. The bureaucrats in charge have administer the law poorly and ignored provisions designed to promote good science and good sense. In the late 1970s, officials erased the distinction between different levels of endangered species listings. Originally it was only when an animal or plant was labeled “endangered” — on the verge of disappearing — that landowners were hit with heavy regulations, including prohibitions on activities that could “harm” or ‘harass” the species. The Carter administration extended these restrictions to species that are “threatened” — in trouble but not facing extinction.
It is not easy to tell when a species is “endangered.” Wild animals prefer to avoid humans, which makes it hard to count them. And if there is only a small population here, is there another on the other side of the mountain? Animals move in response to food. Animals have predators. It is very, very complicated.
Polar bears were supposed to be “endangered” but they found enough to call them “threatened,” but those designations were based on flawed predictions of melting Arctic Sea ice. The globe warms and cools in natural cycles and the bears have done fine through both cycles. Emperor penguins were supposed to be heading toward extinction in the Antarctic — again based on predictions of vanishing ice. The predictions have been wrong, the globe has not warmed for over 17 years. In 2009, the Beverly herd of Caribou which numbered over 200,000 a decade previously could not be found. But a more diligent search turned them up right where the aboriginal elders said they would be.
If there is a project that environmental activists don’t like, they will fan out over the land involved, searching for a species that might be useful to delay or halt the project.
In Cedar City, in southwest Utah, Endangered Species Act regulations have given the Utah prairie dog the run of the town since it was listed in 1973. The rabbit-size rodent is now listed as “threatened” even though there now seem to be around 40,000 in the area. Residents cannot take measures to control the population nor even try to relocate the animals to federal property. Federal regulation is not amenable to common sense. Homeowners’ yards are pockmarked, mounds and tunnels on airport property create real hazards on runways and taxiways. At one airport hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to prevent prairie dog infestation.
Small business owner Bruce Hughes bought a 3.4 acre parcel to develop. “Then the prairie dogs moved in,” making it impossible to use the property productively.”If I killed even one, it would be a $10,000 fine and five years in federal prison. I could rob a convenience store and get off easier.” A lesson in small government where legislation should be made as close to the people concerned as possible.
Many of the most damaging Endangered Species regulations come from federal “biological opinions” issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife or NOAA staff. Man-made drought in the San Joaquin Valley came from a “biop” that claimed that irrigation harmed a tiny fish, the delta smelt. To protect the smelt, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered severe restrictions on water deliveries by government water projects. At the height of the man-made drought, hundreds of thousands of acres went fallow, and unemployment in some communities reached 40%. And with so many acres lying fallow in the great Central Valley breadbasket, the cost of your groceries went up.
If the law is to be retained, its execution needs drastic reform, reliance on poorly informed science needs to stop, and some consideration needs to be paid to the jobs and communities involved. If you are interested, enter “Not Extinct” in the search bar over Bob Hope’s head. Seems that nearly a third of supposedly extinct species aren’t, which is good news indeed.