American Elephants

Putting the Cart Before the Horse. by The Elephant's Child
November 30, 2010, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Consumer demand is a consequence, not a cause, of economic growth.

How Do You Fix the Crisis of Anthropogenic Global Warming? You Halt Economic Growth in the Rich World. by The Elephant's Child
November 30, 2010, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Energy, Environment, Junk Science, Politics | Tags: , ,

The Warmists have arrived in Cancun for another round of talks.  Copenhagen was a flop, and expectations are not high for Cancun, but there is no lack of trying.  According to The Telegraph, physicists and chemists from Oxford and the Met Office have agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.  The influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions. Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said:

The only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years. (emphasis added)

This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.

Politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s. This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models.  Food that has traveled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.

Ah yes, if you are not scared enough of global warming, we might have trouble getting more grants.  We can’t figure out how to make the poor nations not poor, so we want to halt economic growth in the rich world.  Um, just where did you think that HIV medicines come from, and water purification systems, and the green revolution?

Halting economic growth in the rich world is not going to do one thing to replace the corrupt governments in the developing world, and it will not make the poor nations less poor.  And comparing the green movement’s invented ‘crisis’ to a previous “time of crisis” like World War II and the worldwide great Depression is unbelievably crass.  As James Delingpole said:

AGW is on its last legs.  The watermelons who still talk about it and obsess about it…are the equivalent of a tiny suicide rearguard that gets left behind by a losing army to cover its retreat.  Meanwhile the main Green war effort rumbles on regardless.  Ecofascism can lose the AGW battle because — as befits the Leninist method underpinning its philosophy — AGW was never more than a convenient means to an end.  Controlling the world, is what this war is ultimately about — not saving it for Mother Gaia.

Should you need a reminder of what ClimateGate was all about, James Delingpole has a special column here.

Green Energy Needs Government Mandates to Reach Its Job Creation Potential. Oh. by The Elephant's Child
November 30, 2010, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

A recent article in the Washington Post featured a former surveyor who has been unemployed since 2008.  His job vanished with the collapse of Florida’s once hot housing market.  Unable to find a new job, he signed up for green jobs training earlier this year at his local community college.  Yet his new skills have not resulted in a single job offer, and officials at the jobs training program say the same is true for three-quarters of their first 100 graduates.

With the unemployment rate continuing to hover just under 10%, policymakers are desperate to stoke job creation, and have bet heavily on green energy.  The Obama administration has directed more than $90 billion from stimulus funds into clean energy technology, confident that the investment would be the economy’s next big thing.  But the huge federal investment has encountered the very stubborn reality that there is not yet much market for renewable energy or workers in renewable energy.

Administration officials and green energy executives say that the business needs not just government incentives, “but also rules and regulations that force people and business to turn to expensive renewable energy:”

Without government mandates dictating how much renewable energy utilities must use to generate electricity, or placing a price on the polluting carbon emitted by fossil fuels, they say , green energy cannot begin to reach its job creation potential. (emphasis added)

Everybody seems to love “green jobs” but it’s a vague, poorly thought out love.  Everyone wants to genuflect to the supposed need to decarbonize America’s economy, though they’re not sure what decarbonizing is, nor why it is necessary.  It isn’t.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is only a trace gas in the atmosphere, and is not a pollutant.  How can what you breathe out with every breath possibly be a pollutant? The panic over 1° of warming over a century, which is probably still just natural warming from the Little Ice Age is delusional.  There may be no warming whatsoever.  Temperature records are contaminated or poorly calculated, and the idea of an “average global temperature” may be a faulty concept.  And if it takes more jobs to produce “green energy,” that is a net cost to the economy, not a benefit.

One report by the RAND Corporation and the University of Tennessee found that if 25% of all American energy were produced from renewable sources by 2025. we would generate at least 5 million new green jobs. (too many ifs)

So “green jobs” are being redefined to include practically anything, from driving a bus to accounting.  Much of the components for wind and solar energy are creating lots of jobs, but in China.  And as with renewable fuels, things supposed to be ever-so-green turn out to pollute even more than ordinary gasoline.  The jobs, in renewable energy as elsewhere, can depend only so long on government handouts.  At some point they have to engage with the free market, have something to sell that someone wants to buy, and turn a profit.  That is not happening.  And the reasons for that have nothing to do with the environment at all.

Stairs. by The Elephant's Child
November 30, 2010, 8:45 am
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Entertainment, Freedom | Tags: , ,

This took place in Sweden, with a creative idea to get more people to take the stairs. I wonder if pedestrians tried to play known tunes? A delightful solution.

Now this I’d like to have in my own house:

The New York Times vs. The New York Times. by The Elephant's Child
November 29, 2010, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Environment, Media Bias, National Security | Tags: , ,

James Taranto points out interesting reporting on”illegally leaked” emails by the New York Times in today’s “Best of the Web” at the Wall Street Journal. Made me laugh.

— “The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.”–New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009

— “The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.”–New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010

How embarrassing.   Your very own bias exposed once again.

RIP Leslie Nielsen by American Elephant
November 29, 2010, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Humor, Movies, News, Television | Tags:

The great comedic actor is dead at the age of 84. Best known for his roles in Airplane!, Police Squad! and The Naked Gun, Leslie Nielsen has been acting since 1956, appearing in more than 100 films, and 1,500 TV shows. But it wasn’t until his deadpan performance of Dr. Rumack  in Airplane! (1980) that Canadian-born Nielsen became known as one of Hollywood’s funniest funnymen. His career would never look the same.

Surely, he will be remembered as one of the best comedic actors of our time — and don’t call him Shirley.

“Going Green” Is Not About The Environment, It’s About Power and Control. by The Elephant's Child
November 29, 2010, 8:24 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

President Obama modeled his “renewable energy” policies on Spain’s vast investments in wind and solar energy.  So as they careen towards complete collapse they have finally settled on what they it hope will be the way out of the green subsidies and mandates that Obama admired so much.  They have pulled the plug on solar subsidies.  Alternative energy has  been a disaster for Spain.

While Spain’s Socialist government tried to figure out how to pull the plug on all the green investments, the banks mentioned that they were on the hook for having underwritten the whole scheme, and could go under right along with the renewable bubble.

Dr. Gabriel Calzada, professor of economics, first exposed the truth about the bubble Spain was creating after President Obama told our country to look at Spain’s policies to see what a wonderful experience we had ahead.  Professor Calzada ‘s research demonstrated that Spain’s energy policies were unsustainable without government subsidy; caused electricity rates to go up, not down; and cost more than two jobs in the regular economy for each “green” job.  Calzada was badly treated by the Obama administration, the usual suspects in Congress, all the “green organizations’,” and trade unions in Spain: as well as Spanish ministers who sought to have Calzada fired from his university.  Dr. Calzada was right, and unfortunately, Obama was wrong, and remains wrong.  As Christopher Horner explains in his book Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America:

At the end of his campaign for president, Barack Obama boasted, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” He wasn’t blowing political smoke for the benefit of his supporters.  He was telling us all who he is and his plans for us, as he affirmed even before his inauguration.

Barack Obama’s radicalism runs deep.  When he crowed in San Francisco, “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket,” he meant it.  And it’s not just electricity prices that he wanted to skyrocket, but the costs of politically disfavored “fossil fuels.”  As everything has the cost of energy embedded in it, costs will rise across the board.  The result of these policies will be to crowd millions more toward energy poverty and dependence upon the state.  That, too, is by design.

As the left sees it, if you do not coerce people out of their wretched levels of energy use, they will not change their lifestyles.  In the Left’s view, these lifestyles must be changed because they are “unsustainable.”

“America has the greatest energy reserves in the entire world, and it is these resources that ensure our liberty,” Horner reminds us.  From the first days of his administration, Obama began putting our own resources off-limits.  Oil in the Gulf of Mexico has supposedly emerged from the moratorium, but somehow new drilling isn’t allowed, and one thing and another seems to prevent existing rigs to get back to work.

The coasts, East, West, and the coast of Alaska have all been put off-limits, citing “environmental” concerns.  And as I noted below, the “threatened” nature of polar bears (probably soon to be raised to “endangered” ) puts offshore Alaskan waters off-limits.  And the administration is working with Congress to put the massive new natural gas discoveries off-limits.

The “climate” agenda, “going green,” is not about environmental protection, and quite certainly not about the climate.  It is about empowering a global bureaucracy.  The Left’s agenda requires us to accept its “global governance” — not to be confused with a global government.  It is about empowering a global bureaucracy, and curbing democracy, which must be sacrificed because climate change is so important.

Meeting the challenge of “global warming” became the emergency reason for pushing through the European “Constitution” in spite of citizen protests.  And now an unaccountable and unrepresentative bureaucracy governs Europe as they choose, paying themselves ever more generous salaries and benefits, and increasing their power.  And like all bureaucracies, their opinions of their own wisdom and infallibility greatly exceed reality.  Europe is showing signs of coming apart.

And largely to blame are Europe’s huge subsidies for “green energy”. Denmark has invested in enormous amounts of wind energy, and has the highest prices of electricity in Europe. Germany went in for encouraging everyone to add solar panels to their homes, but that isn’t working either. A kilowatt of electricity costs 3 times as much in Germany as it does in the U.S.   Britain has subsidized wind farms in places where there is no possibility of enough wind to make it cost-effective, and neglected clean nuclear energy to the extent that they are deeply worried about the death toll from the cold this winter.

The Left, always so dissatisfied with the freedom and prosperity of the United States, is sure that there is something better just around the corner when they are fully in charge.

But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.  Things are coming apart.  Obama does not have the skill set to understand the problems he is faced with.  People don’t believe in the dangers of climate change any more.  Investing enormous amounts of money in wind farms that create most of their “green” jobs in China, and produce only tiny amounts of energy puts the lie to all the “sustainable” claptrap.

It’s bunk, and when Al Gore’s climate exchange goes bust, and he admits that the whole ethanol thing was a fraud, Americans just may get tired of being fooled.

What Did You Say We’re Having for Dinner? by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Instapundit)

The Obama Administration Moves to Lock Up Another 8.3 Million Acres by The Elephant's Child

Sigh!  The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears.

“Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.”

Polar bears are not in the slightest danger of extinction, nor are they “threatened.”  Arctic sea ice melts in the summer, freezes up in the winter, just as it has always done.

There are five times as many polar bears as there were 50 years ago.  In the 1050s, they estimated that there were 5,000 bears.  In 1965–1970, the estimate had climbed to 8,000–10,000 bears.  By 1984, there were estimates of 25,000 bears, and in 2005, the estimate was about the same — 25,000.

The “critical habitat” designation is an action that could restrict future offshore drilling for oil and gas.  The total area is about 13,000 square miles, and includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast.  This would seem to be the actual reason for the action, and they are hoping you will swallow the protecting the bears hooey.

Obama came to office with big ideas for transforming America.  The centerpiece of his vision has been to  “unleash a clean energy revolution.” Along with that comes “advanced vehicle technology,” and a “leading physical infrastructure.”

Dr. Richard Lindzen, in his testimony to the House subcommittee  included a panicky summer 1922 report from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the melting ice, unheard-of temperatures, disappearing glaciers.  Similar statements were available for 1957, and in 1959, the Submarine Skate surfaced right  at the North Pole.  You would find it rewarding to read his whole testimony to the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology hearing on “A Rational Discussion on Climate Change; the Science, the Evidence, the Response.”

Polar bear encounters on the North Slope oil fields have risen to record levels the last two years, and the Canadian government has similar reports for the area around Churchill.  But actual evidence doesn’t count for much when lawyers for the Center for Biological Diversity (biological diversity is the next “big thing” for green enthusiasts, now that global warming is failing as an issue) who have filed a lawsuit to increase protections for the polar bear.  Kassie Siegel, their lawyer, hailed the decision.  “Now we need the Obama administration to actually make it mean something so we can write the bear’s recovery plan — not its obituary.”  Green lawyers always over dramatize. I wonder if she has ever been to Alaska?

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and the state’s oil and gas industry had complained that the preliminary plan was too large and dramatically underestimated the economic impact.  The designation would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic activity and tax revenue.  Existing man-made structures will be exempted from critical habitat considerations, which means that five U.S. Air Force radar sites were exempted from the final rule, as well as Native Alaskan communities in Barrow and Kaktovik.

Officials face a December 23 deadline to explain why the bears were listed as threatened instead of the more protective “endangered.”  Possibly because they know it is hooey?

The federal government cannot manage to care for the national parks successfully. They cannot  care for the land they have already locked up so it won’t be despoiled by humans.  And they intend to lock up lots more in the attempt to make their green dreams sustainable.

On October 30, The Opera Company of Philadelphia Performed Another “Random Act of Culture.” by The Elephant's Child
November 26, 2010, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, Heartwarming, Music

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation’s “Random Acts of Culture” at Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia.

Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ – the world’s largest pipe organ – the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.

This event is one of 1,000 “Random Acts of Culture” to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives.

Not “Black Friday” but Lethargy Friday. by The Elephant's Child

Temperatures are  back up in the 40s, the snow and ice have melted away, the streets are clear. A great relief. When it’s icy and we have had recent snow, everyone is left with a nagging worry. Can we get there from here?  How are the streets on this hill or that hill?  Slick is much worse than deep. I still distinctly remember the sensation of doing a 360º on a well-traveled highway.  Not pleasant.

“Black Friday” is starting to overpower and obscure Thanksgiving.  There’s not much new to say about Thanksgiving.  Pundits have been saying the same things for years and they are bored.  Retailers are so anxious to get you started on Christmas shopping that they are apparently staying open on Thanksgiving. Most retailers don’t make a profit all year until the Christmas shopping season, and “Black Friday is supposed to be the day they get into the black in the profit and loss department.   I know why they call it that, what I don’t know is when this started? I think it is very recent.  Anyone know?

I have trouble leaping into major shopping mode the day after Thanksgiving.  My daughter-in-law did the turkey and all the trimmings yesterday, quite splendidly, and I only had to produce a couple of pies.  So my complete lethargy today is unjustified,  but enjoyable.  I will return to blogging mode tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2010, Typical Seattle Scene. by The Elephant's Child

Our friend Ron Spins, who always has a good video up his sleeve, posted this in the comments, but I don’t want anyone to miss it, so I’m putting it on the front page.

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