American Elephants


The Climate is Definitely Cooling. by The Elephant's Child
June 1, 2010, 11:54 am
Filed under: Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Speaking of the environment, Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper, have announced that they are separating after four decades of marriage.  Just thought you should know.



Government Spending Once Again Becomes the Problem, Not the Solution. by The Elephant's Child
July 22, 2009, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Science/Technology | Tags: , , ,

climate

monopsony is a situation in which a product or service is only bought by one customer.  Jo Nova has done a new study now available at The Science and Public Policy Institute that reveals that the U.S. Government has spent more than $79 billion of taxpayer money since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, propaganda campaigns, foreign aid and tax breaks.  Most of this spending was unnecessary and useless.

An informal movement of scientists around the world has sprung up to test the integrity of the “global warming” theory and to compete with this lavishly funded, very organized climate monopsony.  Over and over, they have exposed major errors.

Worldwide, carbon trading reached $126 billion in 2008. Experts are predicting that the carbon market will reach $2-$10 trillion in the near future. The largest single commodity traded on global exchanges will be hot air.

Exxon-Mobil is continually attacked for funding climate skeptics for $23 million — less than one thousandth of what the U.S. Government spends on climate activists and alarmists.

This huge expenditure is designed to prove the non-existent connection between carbon dioxide and climate.   Government bodies, big business rent-seekers and environmental NGOs recruit, control and reward their own scientists who use climate modeling to justify power, control, wealth and population reduction.  Robert Ferguson, SPPIs president asks:

Are politicians paying out billions of our dollars for evidence-driven policy-making, or policy-driven evidence-making? The truth is more crucial than ever, because American lives, property and constitutional liberties are at risk.

If the Waxman-Markey climate bill passes, billions more will be expended to pay for environmentalists useless fantasies.



What a Cap-and-Trade Energy Bill Will Cost You, And Why You Should Care. by The Elephant's Child

Cap-and-trade has been much in the news, but Americans haven’t a clue what it is.  A recent Rasmussen poll found that only 24 percent of respondents could correctly identify cap-and-trade as something having to do with the environment.  A slightly larger percentage — 29 percent — believed that it had something to do with regulating Wall Street, and another 17 percent thought it had to do with health care.

Cap-and-trade does have to do with the environment, or at least with some views of the environment.  It is a plan to force industry and other groups — anyone who emits carbon — to buy permits to release CO2. Those who emit less than their permits allow can sell their unused permits to others who emit more.  Just those three sentences are enough to confuse anyone.

But industry does not bear the costs, they simply raise their prices.  [You surely know that business does not pay taxes, don't you?  They just pass the cost of the taxes on to consumers].

Perhaps if we correctly called it “cap-and tax-you-a-lot,” folks would be more interested.  Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that “Under a cap-and-trade-program, consumers would ultimately bear most of the costs of emission reductions.” Actually some businesses stand to profit significantly, like GE and Duke Energy.

If  “carbon emissions were cut by 15%” the CBO said, “it would cost each American household an average of $1,600 a year.  In a worst-case scenario, the cost is $2,200 per household.”   MIT in 2007, estimated tax increases at $3,900 a year, but some dispute that number, and another MIT economist came in at $3,100. Whatever it is, it won’t be small.

Many scientists do not agree that CO2 is a problem.  Many scientists doubt that such a program would have any affect on CO2 in the atmosphere.  Many doubt that CO2 has anything much to to with so-called global warming, since it is only a trace gas in the atmosphere.

Cap-and-trade has been tried in Europe, and has had no affect whatsoever on CO2 emissions, but a deleterious effect on the economy. The slowdown from the world capital crisis has done much more to lower emissions from shuttered industry.

The Obama administration feels that “policymakers can significantly affect the distribution of costs , depending on how they decide to distribute the value of the allowance.” The Democrat-led bill in Congress aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 20 percent from their 2005 levels by 2020, and dramatically boost reliance on renewable energy. Chip Knappenberger of  Master Resource has calculated that Waxman-Markey — the Democrat led bill in congress — would at best avert 9/100ths of one degree in global warming.  Which doesn’t sound even slightly cost-effective.

It is all very confusing.  Many say that Waxman-Markey has no chance of passage.  Obama seems set on passing cap-and-trade, and wants it passed by congress.  Climate realists say that it will accomplish nothing at all, and be an economy destroying bill. Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, said that an agency finding that carbon dioxide is a public health danger won’t necessarily lead to government regulation of emissions.  Others say that Obama needs the income from cap-and-trade to establish his health care plan.

If you care about a large tax in the guise of increased prices hitting you about the same time that inflation from the government’s profligate spending does, it might be wise to learn what you can about cap-and-trade, and Waxman-Markey and other efforts of the government to separate you from more of your money.



Global Warming Meets a Basic Cost-Benefits Test, and Loses. by The Elephant's Child

Bjørn Lomborg is director of the Denmark-based think tank The Copenhagen Consensus Center, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.  He gave a talk today at the Manhattan Institute. The transcript was published in The New York Post. Lomborg is a professor of statistics, and was at one time, a member of Greenpeace.

Here, he has some important information for politicians, and the rest of us:

IN the heart of a financial crisis, most of us carefully consider every last purchase. It is important that politicians do the same when making vital policy decisions.

Instead of focusing on initiatives with the greatest benefits, they tend to be swayed by those with the most vocal advocates. Take the Kyoto Protocol. Its $180 billion annual global cost would perhaps be worth the investment if it made any substantial difference to global warming. But even if Kyoto were implemented for the rest of this century, it would cut temperatures by just 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

This doesn’t pass a basic cost-benefit test. The investment would cause more immediate financial hardship than eventual good. There are many better uses for the money.

That point was underscored by Copenhagen Consensus 2008, a project I designed to champion the use of economic tools in international aid and development policy.

For two years before Copenhagen Consensus 2008, teams of experts wrote papers identifying the best ways to solve the world’s biggest problems: air pollution, conflict, disease, inadequate education, global warming, malnutrition and hunger, sanitation and water challenges, subsidies and trade barriers, terrorism and gender-disparity issues. They identified the investments that would best tackle each challenge and outlined the costs and benefits of each.

A group of prestigious economists — including five Nobel laureates — gathered and examined this research. They took the long menu of investments and turned it into a prioritized list of opportunities. At the bottom — the least cost-effective investment the world could make to respond to any of these problems — was dealing with climate change through immediate CO2 cuts, as the Kyoto Protocol attempts.

At the top was the provision of micronutrients — particularly vitamin A and zinc — to undernourished children in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

For just $60 million annually, we could reach 80 percent of the world’s 140 million or so undernourished children. The economic gains from improving their lives would eventually clear $1 billion a year.

For another $286 million, we could iodize salt and fortify basic food with iron for 80 percent of the children who are at risk of stunting and poor development because they’re going without.

Interestingly — and perhaps predictably — many of the economists’ top-ranked solutions were to problems that don’t attract many headlines or much celebrity attention. The simple act of deworming children in developing countries, for example, would improve nourishment and allow some of the world’s most disadvantaged kids to learn more and get better jobs later.

Copenhagen Consensus 2008 showed that we know how to stop people from dying from malnutrition, pollution, HIV/AIDS and malaria. Solving these problems would open a world of opportunities, including allowing a disadvantaged community to grow, develop and care about longer-term issues like global warming.

What we need to do now is cheap and simple. It’s mostly a question of getting what’s needed (micronutrients, cleaner forms of fuel, free condoms and mosquito nets) to those in need. Death tolls remain high because we have limited resources, and these problems are not considered our biggest concerns.

Economic tools such as cost-benefit analysis and prioritization will never offer the last word in public policy debate — and nor should they — but they can provide a vital input for decision-makers.

The process that worked for Copenhagen Consensus 2008 — and that encouraged philanthropic organizations to invest more in malnutrition — is also relevant for national and state governments and city administrations.

Prioritization is difficult for any politician, whether a member of the Obama team or a city administrator. The project would give a city like New York the opportunity to focus on the spending priorities that achieve the most. Vested interests and lobbying groups create a lot of noise. Copenhagen Consensus sets aside that noise, so that the costs and benefits of competing options can be seriously considered side-by-side.

The recession that has made life more difficult also offers an opportunity for us all to rethink our priorities — and ensure that each dollar spent achieves as much as possible.



Those Terrible Twisty Lightbulbs Are in The News Again. by The Elephant's Child

There are health hazards to twisty light bulbs. Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which makes up part of a compact fluorescent light bulb. There has been a dramatic surge in demand for the CFL bulbs which has been set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years. In the U.S. the bulbs become compulsory in 2014. I explained some of the problems here.

The bulbs are all made in China. ( So much for not sending American jobs overseas). The increased demand has led to the reopening in China of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.

Courts, regulators, lawyers and Doctors in China are paying closer attention to the possible impact on public health in an industry that portrays itself as environmentally friendly, but depends entirely on toxic mercury.  All in the cause of preventing CO2 emissions that are of no moment to anyone but the IPCC climate model programmers.

There will be health hazards for members of Congress when the public discovers that they will have to replace most light fixtures in their homes, most lamps, and forego the brighter light of 3-way bulbs, dimmers, spots and any light not emitted by a twisty bulb.



outed. exposed. revealed. caught with their pants down. by The Elephant's Child

Ordinary people, worldwide, are beginning to have doubts about the whole “global warming” thing. When the Dutch are able to skate on their canals for the first time in fifteen years, the warmist claims begin to seem a little dubious.  Pictures of backyard snow in April in Minneapolis, snow in New Orleans, and in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, cast a little doubt on Al Gore’s claims of a drastically heating planet. A 2009 Rasmussen survey shows that 44 percent of Americans believe that global warming is attributed to long-term planetary trends, and just 38 percent believe that it is caused by human activity.

We have a sun that has gone quiet, with not a single spot for over 600 days, declining global temperatures, no significant warming in the last ten years, and an increasing number of respected scientists who are aware of signs that we might be entering another Maunder Minimum.

Well.  The Warmists have everything invested in convincing the world that global warming is here, hot, and probably the end of life as we know it if we do not give them all our money.  EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the past several  years into why their efforts are faltering.  Not, they are sure, because the whole global warming thing is found to be a fraud, found only in the computer programs of the IPCC.  What is the matter is their “branding”, that is the language in which they present their case.

The term “global warming” turns people off,  “fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes” according to extensive polling and focus groups conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.  EcoAmerica has been conducting research to find new ways to frame environmental issues.

Instead of grim warnings about global warming, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Don’t talk about carbon dioxide, but speak of “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” The term “cap and trade” is confusing; use terms like “cap and cash back” and “pollution reduction refund.

[A summary of the group's latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations by someone who sat in this week on a briefing intended for government officials and environmental leaders.] Ooops!

So who is ecoAmerica? Their board of directors includes representatives of the Environmental Defense Fund, The Sierra Club, Fenton Communications, and Daryl Hannah among others.  Among their advisers are representatives of MoveOn.org, the Trust for Public Land, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, all far-left groups. If you are curious about any of these groups, you can check them out at Activist Cash or Discover the Networks.

A Pew Research Center survey found global warming dead last among 20 voter concerns.  The answer, says Robert Perkowitz, President and founder of ecoAmerica, is to reframe the issue in different language.

“Energy efficiency” makes people think of shivering in the dark.  Instead, it is more effective to speak of “saving money for a more prosperous future.”

In fact, said the group’s focus groups and surveys, it is time to drop the term “the environment” and talk about “the air we breathe, the water our children drink,” Let’s be clear.  Everyone advocating a political position puts their policy in the best language they can. This is why we no longer have a War on Terror, but an “Overseas Contingency Operation.”  This is why “global warming” suddenly reappeared as “climate change.”

The approach is cynical.  It is the use of advertising techniques to manipulate public opinion.  And manipulate is the key word.  This is the approach of community organizing — manipulating public opinion.

In this case it is particularly deceptive.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to life.  It is what we exhale every time we breathe, and what plants take in as natural fertilizer.  CO2 does not cause global warming, it is merely a trace gas in the atmosphere. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor (clouds). The greatest portion of the CO2 in the atmosphere arises from the sea, and the amount from human influence is almost too small to measure.

We are urged to eliminate CO2 from the world.  Eliminate life? We are urged to turn for our energy needs to wind and solar energy in order to eliminate the need for “foreign oil.” But neither wind nor solar are capable of meeting our energy (electricity) needs, no matter how much subsidized.  Environmentalists oppose nuclear energy, which can.  And none of these have the slightest effect on our transportation needs, which can only be satisfied by petroleum until there is a scientific breakthrough in batteries.  And by the way, our air is clean and our water is pure.

You might want to watch for the use of  “improved language” in the mainstream media and congressional pronouncements.

(emphasis mine)



Using kids to accomplish political goals is child abuse. by The Elephant's Child

According to an Earth Day survey of schoolchildren, one in three children between the ages of six and eleven think that the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. The telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research polled a national sample of preteens, 250 boys and 250 girls.

Kids worry about the state of the planet, especially about clean air and clean water, regardless of their parents actions to recycle or make other efforts to be green. 50 percent say that hurricanes and tornadoes are the natural disasters that scare them the most.  28 percent say that they fear that animals such as polar bears and penguins will become extinct and disappear from the planet.

Minority kids are even more anxious. 75 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children believe that the planet will be irrevocably damaged by the time they grow up. Urban children are more anxious than suburban children.

Thank you, Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and all the green propagandists in the education establishment. This is child abuse. Kids write about polar bears for class projects.

I wrote a short post last December about DNA studies that determined that polar bears had been around much longer than estimated. It had been assumed that they evolved from brown bears fairly recently. Genetic studies determined that the polar bear had been around for at least 130,000 years, through warmer periods and cooler periods, and we probably didn’t need to worry about their surviving the slight warming that we have had. We could probably take them off the “might become endangered” list.

The post was illustrated with a really cute picture of a polar bear cub. We have had 26,000 hits on that one post — mostly from school children working on class projects. I hope that some of them read it to find out that the bears are probably not endangered, but I imagine that most of them were simply after the picture of the cub. I know it’s kid’s homework, because the hits stop during school vacations.

In England, the High Court ordered schools to give an equal amount of time to the scientific proof that many of Al Gore’s claims in “An Inconvenient Truth” were unsupportable, false, and just plain wrong.  We have had no such luck in this country, and his celebrated propaganda powerpoint is constantly shown in the schools.  The polar bear was chosen by environmental activists specifically to arouse worries about extinction, and by extension to use their habitat needs to prevent any possible drilling for oil.

Unnecessarily scaring kids seems like a particularly sleazy way to try to accomplish green fantasies.




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