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.
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Science/Technology | Tags: Congress, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science
A 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.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Energy, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Science/Technology | Tags: Cap-and-Trade, Carbon Confusion, Debunking Liberal Lies, Environment
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.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Science/Technology | Tags: Economics, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science
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.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy | Tags: Democrat Lies/Dirty Tricks, Environment, Junk Science
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.
Filed under: Environment, Global Warming, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear | Tags: Al Gore, Democrat Demagogues, Environment, Junk Science
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.
Filed under: Global Warming, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Science/Technology | Tags: Economy, Environment, Junk Science
What do Americans believe about energy and the environment? The Manhattan Institute undertook a poll, with the help of Zogby, to find out with a survey in January of 2009 of 1,000 Americans, chosen to be representative of public opinion generally. Some examples:
- 49 percent of respondents believe that Saudia Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while only 13 percent correctly identified Canada as our major supplier. Only 16.1 percent of our imports came from the Persian Gulf region.
- More than 67 percent believe that we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency. Historically, energy demand increases with efficiency gains. The Energy Information Administration projects U.S. energy use to increase 11.2 percent from 2007 to 2030, while global energy consumption will increase by 50 percent.
- Only 37 percent correctly answered that no one has ever died from the actual generation of nuclear power in the U.S. The U.S. has not built a nuclear -power reactor since the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, 104 active reactors safely generate roughly one fifth of our nations electricity.
- 63 percent of those surveyed believe that human activity is the greatest source of greenhouse gases. In fact, such emissions are significantly smaller than natural emissions. Most of the CO2 that enters the atmosphere comes from the oceans and the biosphere — 41.46 and 55.28 percent respectively. The burning of fossil fuels accounts for only 3.27 percent of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.
- Fewer than 28 percent believe that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970. The six most common pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent. Air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen by nearly 70 percent, and new cars are more than 90 percent cleaner. During the same period, GDP tripled, energy consumption increased 50 percent and motor vehicle use increased almost 200 percent.
Offshore oil drilling can be accomplished in an environmentally sensitive manner. Spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely. 91 percent of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels and uranium. Renewables will not soon make any significant dent in that.
Filed under: Developing Nations, Global Warming, Religion, Science/Technology | Tags: Environment, Junk Science, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder
Happy Earth Day! Steve Hayward, author of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (14th edition) which mostly consists of the good news. Today, at NRO, he points out his favorite tidbit from this year’s edition:
Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times of a recent estimate from the Smithsonian Institution research in Central America suggesting that “for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster… The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play. They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.” The next sentence, however, has a drearily predictable beginning: “The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists,” not because it might be untrue, but because it might blunt support for “vigorous efforts to protect native rain forests.”
Mr. Hayward adds: “Imagine, Environmentalist outrage over potentially good news.” But then they have a lot of outrage over good news. The news that the globe is cooling, not warming, has sent them into paroxysms of fury. Suggest, correctly, that the Arctic and Antarctic have the normal amount of sea ice, or that polar bears are just fine and adapting to cooler and warmer weather just as they have done for at least 130,000 years, and you have a berzerker on your hands. They are not interested in good news — or perhaps it’s just that their definition of what is good news is different.
Filed under: Developing Nations, Progressivism | Tags: Democrat Corruption, Environment, Junk Science
There has been a loud public outcry in vulnerable communities such as inner cities like Detroit. Billed as the biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II, the Environmental Protection Agency held a “bedbug summit meeting” last Tuesday to answer to the public complaints.
Nine years ago, zealots at the Clinton administration’s EPA took Dursban off the shelves. They banned the pesticide chlorpyrifos to praise and enthusiasm from the media and environmentalists. It was the most available pesticide to deal with bedbugs, cockroaches and other noxious pests. It had been available for 30 years in some 800 products in 88 countries around the world.
Henry Payne, writing in Planet Gore describes what happened:
But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations… and exaggerated risk estimates,” said Michigan State University toxicologist J.I Goodman in a typical response.
Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency’s interpretation of his findings.
Such critics were also ignored by the press—as was evidence that the nation’s urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban. Children’s insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. “Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man,” warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute. “Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.”
Nine years later, there is still no satisfactory substitute for Dursban. The EPA, always ready to do the bidding of environmental activists, also banned DDT. That was responsible for millions of deaths in the developing world from malaria, which could have been prevented by spraying huts with a bit of DDT. Ill-conceived regulations have consequences.
The EPA Administrator who approved the ban of Dursban is now the “Climate Czar” in the Obama administration. She remains a zealot.
Filed under: Developing Nations, Heartwarming, Science/Technology | Tags: Endangered Species, Environment, Gas Prices
Good News! A new orangutan population has been found in Indonesia. A team surveying forests snuggled between jagged, limestone cliffs on the eastern rim of Borneo island counted 219 orangutan nests, indicating a “substantial” number of the animals said Erik Melijard, a senior ecologist for the U.S. based The Nature Conservancy.
“We can’t say for sure how many,” he said, but even a cautious estimate would indicate “several hundred at least, maybe 1,000 or 2.000 even.”
The team also encountered an adult male— which threw branches at the crew as they tried to take photographs— a mother and a child. There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 90% of them in Indonesia, and the remainder in neighboring Malaysia.
These countries produce palm oil, used not only in food and cosmetics, but it is in great demand for making “clean burning” fuels in Europe and the United States. Some rain forests where the animals spend most of their lives, have been clear cut. Palm oil plantations, a lucrative source of employment and palm oil production, have led workers to kill orangutans as marauding pests, in spite of efforts to save the animals.
The inaccessibility of the area where the new population was found, as well as its poor soil and steep topography have shielded the area from development. A Canadian scientist, Birute Mary Galdikas, who has spent nearly 40 years studying orangutans in the wild, says that most of the remaining populations are small and scattered, which makes them vulnerable.
The orangutan is called the “man of the forest.” The story inadvertently shows how very difficult it is to get good estimates of the numbers of a species in the wild.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Humor, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Economy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science
A week ago, the New York Times carried this headline: “Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don’t Work?” People are finding out that the new bulbs are a little more complicated than advertised. In San Francisco, the Zurchers have a box of Feit Electric bulbs that didn’t work. Inspired by “An Inconvenient Truth” they had decided to replace all of their incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent. But not every fixture will take a CFL bulb. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours. If screwed into a fixture where heat will build up — the bulbs will burn out quickly.
What happened? The Energy Department (a government agency) asked manufacturers in 1998 to create cheaper models and then helped find large-volume buyers to buy them. That jump-started a mass market and eventually led to sales of discounted bulbs at retailers like Costco and Home Depot.
Consumers are supposed to get some protection by buying bulbs certified under the government’s Energy Star program. In 2007-8 tests, five of 29 models failed to meet specifications for such categories as lifespan, luminosity and on-off cycling. The government is expanding the watchdog program, promising to test samples of 20 percent of the thousands of certified bulb models each year.
“Experts and bulb manufacturers say that consumers need to play a role in solving the problems by learning more about the limitations of compact fluorescent bulbs. The Federal Trade Commission has begun to study whether it should force improvements in the labels of the bulbs.”
You do understand that the government has ordered the phase out of incandescent bulbs in 2014, don’t you? (You didn’t read that provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?) The bulbs don’t do well in recessed ceiling fixtures, or with 3-way sockets or dimmers. You don’t mind replacing most of your lamps and fixtures, I’m sure. One should be aware that CFLs can take one to three minutes to reach full brightness. This is normal, not a defect. Although they are supposed to last for 10,000 hours, and save as much as $5.40 a year in electricity costs, some bulbs died within a few hours.
Because all fluorescent contain mercury, a toxic metal, they must never be put in the trash, but must be transported to a certified disposal point. We received a card from our city government that named the certified disposal points. Most charged a fee per bulb for disposal, and none accepted regular long fluorescent bulbs except the city waste disposal station which is about five miles away, but so far, free.
Because of the mercury, if you drop one and it breaks, you have to call the hazmat crew to dispose of it — that’s somewhere in the $200-$300 range.
The bulbs are manufactured in China, effectively killing of the domestic industry that made incandescent bulbs which will no longer be available. I seem to remember some pious talk about outsourcing and not allowing any more business being moved offshore. But that was then, and this is now, and the Nanny Government, as usual, doesn’t think things through, never considers consequences, and doesn’t read the bills they pass anyway.
This joins the list of low flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and other annoyances that they have inflicted on us. With the forthcoming designation from the dim bulbs at the EPA of carbon dioxide (you know, the stuff you exhale) as a pollutant, they will have the authority to regulate — well, practically everything. And now the government will decide just what kind of cars you may have. Orwellian doesn’t even begin to describe it. I hope someone is taking notes.