American Elephants


A Little Quiz About Science: Do You Know Anything? by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



Obama Promised to Bankrupt the Coal Industry: the EPA is Doing it For Him. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama was speaking in Ohio a couple of weeks ago on one of his many campaign swings, and he said quite specifically:

We also need to keep investing in clean energy like wind power and solar power.

And as long as I’m President, we are going to keep on making those investments.  I am not going to cede the wind and solar and advanced battery industries to countries like China and Germany that are making those investments.  I want those technologies developed and manufactured here in Ohio, here in the Midwest, here in America.  (Applause.)  By American workers.  That’s the future we want.

The president has picked three industries and is arguing for an industrial policy to subsidize them — in part, just because other countries are subsidizing them. This is the same president who argues that we must remove such subsidies from our tax code. If he wants to subsidize wind and solar power because he wants to accelerate the development of carbon-free alternatives, then he should make that argument. These edicts bypass the legislative process, but Obama has little interest in the legislative process unless it backs him on whatever he wants to do. Without their cooperation, he’ll just do it on his own. He’s president. Who’s going to stop him?

Germany, in the meantime, is cutting their subsidies for solar energy. Their solar cell manufacturing companies are going bankrupt, and Germany is turning to coal for energy. The Germans are paranoid about nuclear energy, though the French, next door, are committed to nuclear energy.  Obama, on the other hand, is not only not up on what other countries are doing, but he simply does not change his mind:

If someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
Candidate Barack Obama, 2008

We were warned. This week the out-of-control bureaucrats at the EPA announced a set of proposed rules designed to target greenhouse gas emissions. If enacted, these rules will essentially destroy the coal industry. Under the proposed rules, new power plants will be required to emit no more than 1.000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity. Coal plants average 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt. Natural gas plants already meet this requirement, but if a utility wants to burn coal for electricity, it will need to install carbon capture technology— which is very expensive.

The EPA stresses that the new rules would apply only to new plants, but nobody believes that. David Doniger, climate program policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council notes that the Clean Air Act will undoubtedly make it inevitable that the EPA will tackle existing coal-fired plants. Mr. Doniger promises “We look forward to reaching an agreement with EPA on a schedule for completing the standard for new sources and developing standards for existing sources. Excuse me, but who elected the Natural Resources Defense Council to have any voice in official policy? And the American people have no voice?

Isn’t this the very same Barack Obama who was out on the campaign trail bragging about his “all of the above” energy policy, because people are upset with high gas prices? The “all of the above” claim was clearly a lie. But there is an enormous problem here. Coal-fired power plants produce 45 percent of our electricity. These EPA standards effectively bans new coal-fired plants, and will lead to higher energy costs as the country is forced to switch to natural gas for base-lead supply. Coal is our cheapest energy source, and the United States is the “Saudi Arabia” of coal.

The big problem is that the EPA seems determined to shut down coal plants first, assuming that Obama’s new green energy will replace it. That will not happen. Both wind and solar require 24/7 backup from a regular power plant. Manufacturing states like Michigan are particularly dependent on coal, with 70 percent of the state’s electricity needs coming from coal. Carbon capture technology is still  ‘under development.’ Expensive and not available.  The natural gas industry is historically very volatile. The natural gas industry has discovered vast new resources in the U.S. but that exploration is coming under assault from the EPA.

This misguided ideological thrust is heading into unknown territory of brownouts and blackouts. Our need for energy in increasing at the same time that Obama is waging war on cheap available fossil fuels. The lack of any significant warming for over a decade makes it more difficult for the warmists to demonize CO2. CO2 is not, contrary to EPA claims, a pollutant. Life on earth has flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels would be a net benefit, because plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels. Nations that have plentiful supplies of cheap, abundant fossil fuels are far more prosperous and healthy than those without.

The administration has decreed that by 2020 — in just eight years—we are to get 30% of our electricity from “renewable resources.” The current amount that we get in total pow from renewable resources is just 8.2%. So the nation that is the world powerhouse of cheap, abundant fossil fuels — oil, natural gas and coal — is supposed to dump those and depend on windmills and solar shingles that cannot exist without huge governmental subsidy and full time backup by—fossil fuel power plants.

That makes sense only if you are a failed president who  needs the backing of the big environmental organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club and the others who are all awash in money.



“Environmental Literacy” or Indoctrination? by The Elephant's Child

The state of Maryland has become the first state in the country to impose a new requirement for kids to graduate from high school—something called  “environmental literacy.”

The new rule is a regulation from the State Board of Education, not a law passed by the legislature.  Governor Martin O”Malley offers no  details but praises it saying that “it will infuse core subjects with lessons about conservation and smart growth and the health of our natural world.  O’Malley also said that it will also serve as a “foundation for green jobs.”

An analyst remarks that training for those is just like it is for any other job.  “You need to know how to get there on time, how to be alert, how to work hard, how to absorb a lot of information, how to — learn new skills.

The state board of education leaves all content up to local school boards.  Sarah Boder of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports the initiative and says that students could learn by doing. “Kids have the opportunity to participate in some real world learning, such as raising native oysters and replenishing reef habitat.  By raising the oysters they can learn math and read about the history of oystering in the state of Maryland and throughout the Chesapeake Bay and that gets them excited and that helps to boost their achievement.”

Sounds like a pretty complicated way of getting kids to learn math.  Could there possibly be  political agenda?  Well, in short, yes.  The local school boards won’t get any extra money, so a group called the North American Association of Environmental Education offers a teacher’s guide.

An early passage from the guide says “consumption of natural resources, air and water pollution, and the impacts of climate change are among the many complex challenges that threaten human health, economic development, and national security.”  It goes on to talk about the need to “take informed action.”

That’s not education, it’s indoctrination. Myron Ebell of CEI points out that “it’s propaganda and it’s designed to raise up a new generation of easily led and poorly educated and misinformed students.”

Beware of associations and groups that are just delighted to step in and offer all sorts of free materials to help with the education of your children.  They usually have an agenda.  When kids’ ability in math is a problem, it’s not wise to take more time away from the subject to play around with activist agendas.  Environmental literacy, indeed. Our school have been busy indoctrinating kids in “environmentalism” because they can write papers about cute polar bears and find all sorts of pictures on the internet.  Do they learn that polar bear numbers are increasing, and the bears are not endangered?  Not likely.

They call them NGOs.  Non-governmental organizations.  Because they call themselves “an association” and have a website and a 501(3)C designation doesn’t mean that then are anything other than a bunch of activists with an agenda.



If You Watch Just One Video Today, Make it This One! by The Elephant's Child

A complete debunking of the left’s global warming agenda, from Roy W. Spencer, former NASA climatologist and climate expert.  Dr. Spencer, at University of Alabama at Huntsville, continues his work with NASA as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

He has published two popular books on global warming that are completely accessible for those who are not scientists.  He’s a good explainer.  His first was Climate Confusion (2008), followed by The Great Global Warming Blunder, which has the coolest cover ever.  And for more on this topic, purchase his new Broadside, “The Bad Science and Bad Policy of Obama’s Global Warming Agenda” by clicking here: http://amzn.to/jYWz

He has provided expert testimony to Congress several times on the subject of global warming.

[via @adamsbaldwin on Twitter]



And Now They’re Going to Regulate Your Kitchen! by The Elephant's Child

Sam Kass, who was the Obama’s chef in Chicago, came to the White House with the Obamas.  He was known as Mrs. Obama’s Food Initiative Coordinator, but about a month ago, his title was changed to Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives.  The new title more accurately reflects Kass’ broad range of duties, as internal and external expert on all things health, kids, and food.  Or in the vernacular — he is the “Food Czar.”

So Sam Kass went from being a 20-something Chicago gourmet cook, privately paid to cook for the Obamas, to a big-time White House adviser.  Michelle Obama’s healthy nutrition program is supposed to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, especially in the country’s inner cities.  Mrs. Obama claims that childhood obesity is a threat to national security, and a crisis that requires the administration to spend $400 million a year to bring “healthy foods” to low-income neighborhoods and $10 billion to make revisions to the old federal program that feeds tens of millions of poor children at school. Mrs Obama said when launching  last month’s “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative — a program to get professional chefs to volunteer in America’s schools:

I think it’s just pretty powerful to see what started out as a few conversations in our kitchen on the South Side of Chicago turn into a major initiative that hopefully will change the way we think as a country, not just about the health of our kids but about our health as a nation,”

I think the ambitions may once again exceed what is possible or probable.  Mrs. Obama is enamored of organic produce, local, regional and “sustainable” food.  I assume that is not “sustainable” in the sense of the cans of food in the pantry, but in some larger, greener sense.  “Sustainable” is very big in the green left, but I haven’t figured out yet just what it means, but is sure is a popular word.

Mr. Kass gave the keynote speech at the Food Marketing Institute’s trade show in Las Vegas, urging supermarket important people to take a leadership role in “Let’s Move.”  He told the grocery retailers that it’s time to seize the opportunity to be leaders in creating a generation of healthier kids by being “architects of choice” on the micro and macro level.  He gave, according the to blog “Obama Foodorama” “a mini dissertation on how to change the design of markets which ranged from where to position healthy foods, to changing food packaging labels is crucial for parents’ decision making, to why it’s important to build more supermarkets in places that don’t have them.”

There was also a conference with governors to urge them to establish food initiatives in their states and cities. Baltimore has a food czar named Holly Freishtat, and the City of Boston has recently joined in, creating a $75,000 a year position of “Food Policy Director” with an ambitious agenda.

I may not grasp the true meaning of “sustainable” but I do know a bit about “organic” food.  “Organic” is a marketing ploy designed to sell smaller fruits and vegetables grown on larger acreages at higher prices.  Organic produce has been  tested over and over, and there is no benefit in nutrition or freshness. It usually costs about 30% more.  Organic designates a method of growing which involves using only ‘natural’ fertilizers (manure) and only ‘natural’ pesticides (like pyrethrums–some of the most poisonous pesticides).  No better for you.  You can look up the process that farmers must follow to get the “organic” label, but it remains only a marketing ploy.

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at that convention of supermarket CEOs being lectured by the Obama’s 20-something cook.  But I’m not a foodie, I’m just an ordinary good cook.



Protestors abound at Copenhagen. Are You Surprised at Who They Are? by The Elephant's Child
December 16, 2009, 1:45 am
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Socialism, Statism | Tags: , , ,

Lord Christopher Monckton remarked that “They call themselves Green because they are too yellow to admit they’re really Red.” As the Soviet Union fell, many of the “true believers” migrated to the environmental movement. The environmental movement and global warming have always been political efforts, not scientific. And now it’s playing out. ClimateGate is exposing the truth.



Coming to America… by American Elephant
August 2, 2009, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Energy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: , ,

lightbulb

Germans hoarding incandescent light bulbs:

As the Sept. 1 deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the EU’s ban on incandescent light bulbs approaches, shoppers, retailers and even museums are hoarding the precious wares — and helping the manufacturers make a bundle.

The EU ban, adopted in March, calls for the gradual replacement of traditional light bulbs with supposedly more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). The first to go, on Sept. 1, will be 100-watt bulbs. Bulbs of other wattages will then gradually fall under the ban, which is expected to cover all such bulbs by Sept. 1, 2012 (see graphic below).

Hardware stores and home-improvement chains in Germany are seeing massive increases in the sales of the traditional bulbs. Obi reports a 27 percent growth in sales over the same period a year ago. Hornbach has seen its frosted-glass light bulb sales increase by 40-112 percent. When it comes to 100-watt bulbs, Max Bahr has seen an 80 percent jump in sales, while the figure has been 150 percent for its competitor Praktiker.

“It’s unbelievable what is happening,” says Werner Wiesner, the head of Megaman, a manufacturer of energy-saving bulbs. Wiesner recounts a story of how one of his field representatives recently saw a man in a hardware store with a shopping cart full of light bulbs of all types worth more than €200 ($285). “That’s enough for the next 20 years.” [read more]

No, it’s not unbelievable Werner, it’s what happens when you ban things that people want. Black markets will follow.

Democrats have passed an identical ban in the United States where incandescent light bulbs will become illegal starting with the 100-watt bulb in 2012, and ending with the 40 watt light bulb in 2014.  The same hoarding will happen here. I know. I intend to buy enough incandescent light bulbs to last a lifetime.

What’s unbelievable is that American’s are allowing the nonsensical ban to begin with.

Addendum: According to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 18% of Americans think it’s the government’s job to dictate what kind of light bulbs people can use, while 72% think its none of the government’s damn business.

Precisely why the GOP should make the dictatorial nature of the Democrat party one of their chief campaign issues — starting yesterday.



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.



Leftists Indulge in Wishful Thinking. We Get to Pay For It! by The Elephant's Child

Remember all the fuss about stem cells? Candidate Obama was going to restore science to its rightful place in the wake of the dreadful Bush administration which was apparently completely unfamiliar with science or the scientific method. Embryonic stem cells, freed from the religious fundamentalism of the Bushies, would cure diseases, allow the lame to walk and provide scientific honors for those who engaged in federally funded embryonic stem cell research, as well as endless riches for those who developed the wondrous new treatments. President Obama quickly lifted the ban that limited federally funded research to existing lines of cells. (Please note, there was no ban on research).

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, was once an embryonic stem cell enthusiast. She now calls such research “obsolete.” Medical-research insiders know that embryonic stem cell technology is proving to be a dead end. Senator Arlen Specter, (D-PA) said the research “has the most remarkable potential of any scientific discovery ever made with respect to human health.” That statement gives an idea of the enthusiasm. Remarkable potential indeed. Real results were another thing.

First of all, there is the rejection problem. Your body naturally fights off foreign cells, even ones that might help. So cell recipients must permanently use imunosuppresive drugs, which are dangerous themselves. Then there is the unpleasant tendency of ES cells to become cancerous or to form teratomas — tumors that can grow larger than a football and contain hair or teeth.

The problem of rejection may someday be solved, but University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson, who created the first human ES-cell line, says that treatments and cures could be decades away.

Adult stem cells do not have the problem of rejection, for they come from the patient’s own body.  They have treated scores of illnesses including many cancers, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency disorders, neural degenerative diseases, anemia and other blood disorders.  They have been used in over 2,000 clinical trials.  No uncomfortable moral questions, just cautious, responsible science.

Although it was long thought that only embryonic cells could become pluripotent, researchers in 2006,  led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan’s Kyoto University, were able to reprogram human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.

Several states now fund embryonic stem cell research.  Dead broke California  created a $3 billion research effort with their Proposition 7, and other states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut also fund the research, which may be a dead end.  Federal funds are flowing.

We’re investing a remarkable amount of money in things that are supported by enthusiasm rather than science.  Liberals have always been utopians,  attached to a romantic view of  policy: ending climate change, stopping the seas from rising, powering the world with the wind and the sun, curing disease and injury with embryonic stem cells.  It’s not going to happen.   But they always want the rest of us to support their flights of fancy with our taxpayer dollars.

And if their romantic policies don’t work?  They cannot  fail, it’s just that they did not appropriate enough money.



So Take That, You Interfering Food Police! by The Elephant's Child
July 6, 2009, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, News of the Weird | Tags: , ,

For years, the Food Police have been trying desperately to find something wrong with coffee. If coffee gives many people pleasure, if they gather with friends to have a cup, if they open chain stores all over the world giving people a place to gather over coffee, and if they invent all sorts of special accouterments to help make a better cup, then there has to be something really, really wrong with it.

We’ve had the poor abused workers in coffee plantations, but it has turned out that they are better paid than their peers, and the coffee companies have even built schools for their children.  They tackled the milk used in lattés for the growth hormone given to cows, but that turned out to be junk science, for it is a scientific impossibility for the hormone to pass through into the milk.  They have tried to connect coffee to all sorts of diseases and unpleasant conditions and now, perhaps, they may be undone.

“Drinking five cups of coffee a day may reverse the memory problems seen in Alzheimers” reads the headline from the BBC.  The research carried out in Florida on mice also suggested that caffeine hampered the production of protein plaques that are characteristic of the disease.

This is all preliminary, of course, but it’s nice to know that you can head out for a latté with a clear conscience.

(h/t Dan @ GayPatriot)



Why Do They Want Us To Spend Trillions on a Non-Existent Problem? by The Elephant's Child
July 6, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy | Tags: , ,

Sources_of_electricity_in_the_USA_2006

Do you have storms in your area that damage power lines and cause a widespread loss of power?  Then you are familiar with trying to stay warm, cooking on the barbecue, using candles for light, or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who has a generator.  Nevertheless, you appreciate your electricity.  But do you know where it comes from?

Surprisingly, no one in congress or the administration does.  At least they must not, for their math simply does not add up.  If you cannot read this lovely pie chart, 48.9 % of our electricity comes from coal, 20% from natural gas, 19.3 % comes from nuclear, 7.1 % from hydroelectric plants, 1.6 % from petroleum and the little pinky-peach wedge represents wind, solar and geothermal.

The Waxman-Markey climate bill will punitively tax the energy sources that contribute 90 percent of our current American electricity in order to bet our future on the wedge that is able to produce only 2.4 percent of our electricity.  But we can do it. The conventional phrase is “if we can send a man to the moon we can…..

We have eleven whole years in which to build, install, and connect to the grid at least 180,000 turbines.  Each one of which requires a backup of conventional energy for the times when the wind does not blow, which is often.

And as for solar, not only is it far more expensive, suitable only in the Southwest, but perhaps you have noticed that the sun sinks beneath the horizon  at night, just when we need lighting.

This energy policy is built on a lie, or more accurately a whole bunch of lies.  The whole thing is conceived of as a way to stop the globe from warming, but it stopped warming in 2002.

It’s necessary to remove the CO2 that is causing global warming isn’t it?  CO2 is not the cause of global warming or climate change.  Reducing it is unnecessary and will cost trillions.

There are not, as yet, any large-scale, practical and cost-competitive replacements for fossil fuels.  If you punish fossil fuel use with either taxes or by capping how much energy is allowed to be used, you punish the economy.

When a country institutes cap-and-trade legislation unilaterally, it makes that country less competitive in the global economy.  Imports and trade deficits increase as prices at home rise, while companies or whole industries close and move abroad to countries where they can be more competitive.

And it is the citizen, the consumer, who pays for all of this, either in the form of higher prices or less availability, or less economic growth.  This shouldn’t be rocket science, but consequences are not of much interest to Democrats.  It’s still worth trying to figure out what the consequences will be.



Disaster! Catastrophe! And it’s Happening Here and Now! by The Elephant's Child

Moviemakers are always dreaming up new catastrophes.  We have had giant asteroids headed for earth; the end of days; raging seas sweeping across Manhattan; Manhattan again, empty, the population felled by a mysterious virus; Manhattan populated only with zombies; aliens from outer space in giant ships arriving over Los Angeles; alien ships from outer space arriving all over the world all at once; pod people;  and an earth inexorably warming, the seas rising, hurricanes increasing, polar bears drowning — oh wait…

The big sticking point that keeps people from understanding what a fraud Al Gore’s movie was, is the idea that there is a “scientific consensus.”

But in the real world, there is no such thing.  The scientific method involves observing a phenomenon, and from careful observation developing a hypothesis.  Then testing the hypothesis trying to disprove it.  If the hypothesis stubbornly resists being disproven, it may be true.  So continue testing.

If a “consensus” of scientists fervently believe in a different hypothesis, it doesn’t matter.  There is no “consensus” in science, only what evidence shows to be  true, and that continues to be open to further questioning and proof.  The idea that ulcers were caused by acid stomach, pointed out Professor Ian Plimer, was accepted by everyone until two Australian scientists demonstrated that ulcers were caused by bacteria, and easily treated.

“Weather” is what you experience when you go outside.  “Climate” consists of worldwide averages and is a statistic.  The two should not be confused.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a benign, odorless, colorless gas caused by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration. It is not a pollutant.

Carbon is the chemical element of atomic number 6, a nonmetal that has two main forms (diamonds and graphite) and that also occurs in impure form in charcoal, soot and coal. Carbon is a solid.  Carbon Dioxide is a gas.

The objective is to link CO2 with coal, for coal is seen as truly evil. It is mined, disturbing mother earth.  Mining is evil.   Coal is loaded on long trains, called “death trains” by uber greenie NASA scientist and activist James Hansen. Burning coal to create electricity is evil because it creates the “pollutant” CO2. But if CO2 is NOT a pollutant — which it isn’t— then the whole thing falls apart.

Take a few minutes to watch the interview with Professor Ian Plimer, Australia’s most renowned earth scientist, linked above.  Each of the three segments is only about 9 minutes, and very worth your time.




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