American Elephants


Reason TV Went to the Big Climate March! by The Elephant's Child

Reason TV went to the Climate March, and chatted with some of the marchers. Watch the whole thing. Only 3.17 minutes! They really don’t like the corporations that make all their stuff. More corporate haters than advocates of green policies, which they seem a little fuzzy about. Kind of embarrassing. They didn’t pay attention in high school science class.



An Out-of-Control Agency of Zealots, Destroying Your Freedom. by The Elephant's Child

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You have undoubtedly seen this picture before. I haul it out every time I write about the EPA and the agencies’ effort to transform the words of the Clean Water Act which give the EPA authority over the “navigable waters of the United States of America.”

It is partly Congress’ fault. They have chosen to write bills in general form, and leave the intricacies to federal agencies to work out and regulate. This has led to the growth of government, the growth of agencies, the growth of unionization of federal agencies, bad regulation and bad law.

Undoubtedly the Congress didn’t know how to define “clean water” in a specific and legal way—in which case they had no business making such a law.

In 2006, a US.Supreme Court Case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered and which were not. This left the government with a clean slate on which to write it’s own interpretation —everything they wanted to regulate. They are zealots and want to control everything.

I wrote about this problem in May of 2011, when the EPA was suspending 79 surface mining permits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee because they could possibly violate the Clean Water Act. They revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No.1, a permit that had been in force for 4 years and obeyed in every comma and dot.  Arch Coal provides 16% of America’s coal and have invested $250 million in the operation which would have employed 215 miners and 300 support jobs.  The President has expressed his desire to bankrupt the coal industry.

I wrote about it again in  June of 2012 when they started trying to control the land alongside ditches, gullies and temporary water sources caused by rain or snowmelt by claiming that they are part of navigable waters. It doesn’t sound scary until you recognize that it would make it harder for private property owners to use their own land, in their backyards, to grow crops, raise livestock or even raise kids. The bill they had then had 64 co-sponsors, and John Barrasso (R-WY) said “It’s time to get EPA lawyers our of Americans’ backyards.”

October, 2013: “The Clean Water Act charged the agency with keeping the navigable waters of the United States clean. What Congress probably had in mind was shutting down any sewers emptying improperly and keeping boats from dumping oil and stopping the Cuyahoga River from catching fire. In many places the water naturally contains some methane. Not harmful to people, but it can catch fire.”

There was a big arsenic flap where some springs were found to contain arsenic in what were presumed to be dangerous quantities. The EPA made a nationwide regulation determining that every municipality would be required to treat their water to remove any trace of arsenic. Many communities had no arsenic in their water, but the agency demanded expensive water treatment anyway. In the case of safety for humans, many things that are poisonous in large quantities are perfectly safe in small quantities. The rule is always “the dose makes the poison.”

In 2013, they were going for a proposed rule—the “Water Body Connectivity Report” which removed the limiting word “navigable” from “navigable waters of the United States” and replaces it with “connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters” Whoa! Change one word officially and expand your overreach by billions. Congress saw what they were trying to do and demanded answers. I don’t know how that one turned out, but it would seem to be this one.

A little over a week ago, the House passed legislation that would prevent the EPA from implementing a proposed rule to define its jurisdiction over bodies of water. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the rule does not significantly expand the agency’s existing authority. Uh huh. Republicans said the rule would go too far and subject trivial bodies of water to federal regulation.

You see how slow the legislative process is. The Bill passed the House 263-152. Vulnerable Democrats broke with their party and signed on. Before final passage the House rejected 179-240 an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) that would prevent enactment if implementation would harm water quality. The White House issued a veto threat, saying it “would derail current efforts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act, hamstring future regulatory efforts, and create significant ambiguity regarding existing regulations and guidance.”

Harry Reid would be unlikely to bring the bill to a vote. You have heard much about a “Do Nothing Congress,” which is a Democrat slander. The Republican House of Representatives has passed over 297 bills, a fairly standard number for a session. The Do Nothing Democrat-led Senate has passed just 59 bills— the fewest number of any Senate session since 1972. So the next time the President claims the Republicans aren’t doing anything, which he does with some regularity — he’s just doing politics again. Harry Reid tries to avoid bringing anything to a vote that the president would have to veto.

If you attend a town hall meeting with one of your representatives, you might let them know you’re concerned. Or give them a phone call. Those probably get tallied. I suspect emails just vanish into the ether. They really don’t want to hear from you.



Root Causes: Here’s Why Ferguson Rioted: by The Elephant's Child

There is always an answer for every problem. In the case of Ferguson, Missouri, everyone has been searching for the cause of this summer’s violence. We just weren’t looking in the right place. The violence was clearly caused by climate change.

350.org Strategic Partnership Coordinator Deirdre Smith wrote:

To me, the connection between militarized state violence, racism, and climate change was common-sense and intuitive. Oppression and extreme weather combine to ‘incite’ militarized violence.

Smith explained that poor minority communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change, but that “people of color also disproportionately live in climate-vulnerable areas,” which makes climate change a race issue.

The 350.org Strategic Partnership is behind the big climate march this weekend at the UN Climate meeting that everybody important is skipping. And of course, their real interest is the doctrine of “environmental justice,” a notion used by the EPA whenever it seems to be helpful in their legal arguments.

The EPA defines “environmental justice” as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” according to the EPA website.

That makes it a civil rights issue, which brings in a whole different body of laws and regulations. It suggests that power plants or “excessive” car exhaust can be considered civil rights violations — if they occur in poor or minority neighborhoods. The object is not to improve anyone’s life, but control, which is accomplished with a maze of regulation and red tape, and gigantic fines for those who offend the EPA.

Climate, which is a statistic representing worldwide temperatures, affects everyone equally, and since in the last one hundred years it has only warmed by about one degree, we can all adapt fairly well, even the folks in Ferguson. Weather can affect some people more than others because of where they live—in Tornado alley, near the beach where Hurricane Sandy hit. We just had a small earthquake yesterday, but earthquakes are not climate or weather. This one was only a .4 and we didn’t feel it at all.

The National Weather Service says the St.Louis area was not noticeably warmer this summer than it has ever been. At 80.3 degrees F. this August’s average temperature was only the seventh-warmest of the last 20 years, substantially cooler than the high of the last two decades of 83.9 in August of 1995. It got up in the 90s here in the Seattle area as it usually does once or twice a year.



What If You Have A Party and Nobody Comes? by The Elephant's Child

World leaders are expected to meet as at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 21 to announce plans for reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, world leaders are staying home. It’s turning into a bit of an embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott can’t make it because he has a country to run. Chinese President XI Jinping and new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they won’t attend. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending. And even Angela Merkel, President of very, very green Germany just can’t make it.

Well, some people do pay attention to the news. The Antarctic ice is at the greatest extent ever measured. Arctic ice is expansive and growing. There has been no warming at all, none, for seventeen years and eleven months. We’ve had snow in September in the northern Midwest and New England. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow—which supposedly means that world climate is getting warmer—but the climate is not getting warmer, but cooler.  So possibly the increase in the benign gas that we exhale each time we breathe, the one that is a natural fertilizer for plants, is not the cause of the 1º of warming that occurred over the last hundred years? Well, yes. Exactly.

The sun, which does have a lot to do with climate, has gone quiet, and all the vast dollars and crony capitalism that have gone into finding an alternative source of energy in solar and wind energy has been for naught? Yep.

“There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change:” Australian geologist Dr. Bob Carter.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry warns of decades of possible global cooling: Suggests the “current cool phase will continue until the 2030s.”

Leonardo DiCaprio: “How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

Nancy  Pelosi: “Republicans winning the Senate would be the end of civilization.”

Activist green groups are drumming up a way to use the federal courts to force Americans to drastically reduce their energy consumption whether or not Obama signs a new climate change treaty in Paris next year.

The EPA plans to propose and finalize regulations establishing first-ever carbon dioxide (CO²) regulations for jet aircraft.

The Obama administration is reading the Clean Air Act to require a climate policy never intended or approved by Congress, and intends to negotiate an international agreement that would not survive a Senate vote on ratification.

Green organizations are planning a big climate march in conjunction with the UN Climate meeting. They are concerned about “climate justice” which seems to have nothing to do with climate (which they can’t affect anyway) and everything to do  with ‘justice” which seems to be about putting the people in charge, destroying large corporations, and redistributing income. They are particularly interested in the particular large corporations who extract energy from Mother Earth and use it to power civilization, but that is secondary to “justice.”

Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act show that Obama’s EPA is in collusion with “green” lobby groups — the report details the conflicts of interest, “unalterably closed minds,” internal activism and influence of outside interest groups on the Obama Administration EPA. Documents raise questions about the legality of EPA rules.

The EPA also wants to garnish your wages if they accuse you of something, without any court order. How do they get that power? They just announce that they have it. That is apparently the way that some 30 government agencies have granted themselves the power to garnish your wages.  There are more problems with big government that we ever knew.



Early Snow. Colder Winter? Looming Power Shortages. by The Elephant's Child

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Los Angeles is sweltering under 100º+ temperatures, but in other parts of the country they are having a very early winter. Temperatures are forecast to dip into the 50°s from Boston and New York City to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Some areas in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northwestern New England will see temperatures in the 30ºs. An inch of snow at Rapid City on the 12th was the earliest recorded snowfall since 1888.

There has been no global warming for 17 years and nine months.

Obama administration officials intend to sign a “politically binding” agreement to drastically reduce U.S, greenhouse gas emission at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris next year and have a legal strategy to turn any non-binding accord into federal law. Chris Horner, senior fellow and attorney at CEI  says activists are planning to use the sue-and-settle strategy they have used in the past to impose drastic energy restrictions on all Americans. But India, China and Germany have already said they won’t be attending the conference. The major aim of the less developed countries is to force the Western developed countries to pay for the misery inflicted on the poorer world.

Antarctic sea ice extent, September 13, 2014—a new all-time record : 1,121,000 square km., breaking the past record by 48,000 sq. km.

So what’s going on here? Author Greg Easterbrook calls it “collapse anxiety.” He defines it as “a widespread feeling that the prosperity of the United States and the European Union cannot really be enjoyed because the Western lifestyle may crash owing to economic breakdown, environmental damage, resource exhaustion, …or some other imposed calamity.

These are the descendants of English economist Thomas Malthus who forecast a dire future in “An Essay on the Principle of Population” which was published in 1798. He believed the increasing global population would result in starvation for many people as the world would not be able to feed itself. Malthusians are still with us in the persons of Paul Ehrlich and “The Population Bomb,” and Obama’s science advisor John Holdren, who advocate for radical approaches to forestalling catastrophe, including what they call “de-growth.”Nuclear energy is bad, Genetically modified foods are bad. Coal is awful. Oil is bad. Natural gas is bad, and fracking is bad. Renewable energy is good. Organic food is good. Locally grown organic food is better. “¹

The assumption is that we are running out of every essential commodity—food, oil, copper, iron ore. We are sinning against the planet. Directly in the face of the facts —”people are living longer, healthier, freer, more peaceful, lives than in any other time in human history.” Human ingenuity and creativity are triumphing all over the world. The big environmental groups like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year by scaring people about coming disaster.

Climate science was once a quiet corner of university science departments, but the creation of the IPCC and important meetings on climate held at all the world’s nicest resorts meant departmental growth, fame, more students, and lots and lots of grants. Governments invested mightily in protecting their citizens from the rise of the oceans, and helping the planet to heal. Those who have been riding that gravy train are not likely to give it up gracefully.

But there has been no warming whatsoever in 17 years and nine months.

Last winter the Great Lakes froze over. New England has obediently been on a hell-bent drive to rid itself of any form of “dirty” non-renewable energy, and has been closing down coal-fired plants for the last decade. Last winter when the real record temperatures hit, there wasn’t enough natural gas to go around. The EPA is planning to shut down 300 coal-fired power plantsfor which there is no replacement. Residential electricity prices in New England are up by 11.8%.

We hear about the horrors of a warming world, but cold is far more dangerous. People die from freezing to death. Some scientists are predicting a new “Little Ice Age,” Nobody, and no computer program, can predict the future. We just don’t know.This looks to be a colder winter, and the president, his science advisor and the EPA are still chasing carbon dioxide, though CO² has continued to increase as warming has failed to increase for nearly 18 years.

¹ Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper by Robert Bryce.



Nevermind ISIS or Russia, Fixing Global Warming is Much More Urgent! by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, which is silly enough, but he wants to do it without ratification from Congress. One little problem:

Under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.

How interesting that someone who liked to proclaim himself a scholar of Constitutional Law, should, after swearing an oath on the Lincoln Bible to “the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” be so determined to get his own way that he is willing to defy the Constitution in case after case. It is more than ignoring his oath, it is a matter of character. This is a man who cannot be trusted because he does not keep his word.

The New York Times casually notes that President Obama ignored the legislative process in his domestic climate-change agenda as well.

In seeking to go around Congress to push his international climate change agenda, Mr. Obama is echoing his domestic climate strategy. In June, he bypassed Congress and used his executive authority to order a far-reaching regulation forcing American coal-fired power plants to curb their carbon emissions. That regulation, which would not be final until next year, already faces legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed on behalf of a dozen states.

Doesn’t matter who disagrees with him, he’s right and you are wrong. He is the President of the United States, and he cannot be opposed.

Does anyone believe that the president has spent even five minutes studying up on global warming or climate change? He’s probably talked to Al Gore, and Science Advisor John Holdren, and all his backers and bundlers who have gotten rich off of the taxpayer money he has poured into energy scams and failed renewable energy projects. But actually looking into the science? Not a chance. Global Warming is for the Left the best chance of establishing social justice in the world. They believe because the Left believes. It is a religion, a matter of faith. As James Delingpole says:

First, they are determined to misrepresent this as a party political issue – in which ignorant, ideologically motivated, Big-Oil-funded Republican “denialists” are willfully and perversely obstructing the perfectly sensible climate policies fully supported by all Democrats. This wasn’t true in 1997 when the Senate voted down the first attempt at a binding international climate treaty – Kyoto – by 95 to 0. It isn’t true today.

Second, it refers to “established climate science” as if – to quote Al Gore – the science on global warming were “settled.” This was a risible notion even at the height of the global warming scare back in 1992 during the Rio Earth Summit when for a period global mean temperatures were actually rising but when scientists couldn’t agree why. It is even less plausible now, given that as all half-way serious scientists – alarmists and realists, alike – now acknowledge there has been no global warming in over 17 years.

Climate change, or global warming, does not even show up on the list of concerns of the American people. I don’t know if “naming and shaming” will convince anyone. The American people aren’t all that impressed with the United Nations either.



Do Dead Birds Matter? by The Elephant's Child

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Let’s see. We are capturing the energy of the sun because it’s free, and replaces nasty coal-fired power plants that produce CO² because the CO² we exhale with every breath is poisoning the earth and causing global warming which causes the seas to rise, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, bad weather, carbon pollution and…Oh wait, it doesn’t? CO² is a natural fertilizer, causes plants to grow and resist drought. That part, at least, is true.

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant has 350,000 mirrors which bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1.000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

Workers in those “green jobs” at the state-of-the-art solar plant call the birds that fly through the concentrated solar rays — “streamers.” Birds ignite in midair with a smoke plume, instant barbecue. Federal investigators saw a bird burn about every two minutes. One environmental group claims the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that wind turbines chop up 440,000 birds each year, but an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 in addition to 888,000 bats. ( I thought bats only come out at night —our bats did, and slept all day). Airline pilots whose course takes them near the solar plants report being blinded.

The Obama administration remains wildly enthusiastic, and gave Ivanpah a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called Ivanpah “a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy.” Interestingly, everybody else is trying to get out of solar energy because it’s too expensive. And the sun does go down at night.

I’m not sure what bird fatalities that extensive mean. More mosquitoes, a return of Malaria, and that other new disease transmitted by mosquitoes? What about migratory birds and birds of prey? There is a balance of nature to some extent and if it gets out of whack there are unintended consequences. Europeans still kill off their songbirds by erecting great nets along the flyways to catch them. Whole fried or pickled songbirds were considered a gustatory treat. I thought the practice was outlawed, but apparently not.

The Mohave Desert Food Chain:

  • Raptors (golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, falcons, owls),Small insect-eating birds (finches, warblers, gnatcatcher, doves, bats),

    Reptiles (desert tortoise, Chuckawalla lizard),

    Moths and insects (yucca moths, soaptree moths, other insects)

    Yucca plants (Joshua trees, soaptree yuccas, etc.)

    The raptors prey on the small birds; the small birds and reptiles forage on insects; yucca moths and butterflies pollinate yucca trees and other plants; and yucca trees provide habitat and nectar for yucca moths. Without yucca moths, you have no Joshua trees.




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