American Elephants

“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:

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

[via @adamsbaldwin on Twitter]

Adventures in Wonderland! by The Elephant's Child
June 29, 2011, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Humor, News | Tags: , ,

Some days it just feels like you fell down the rabbit hole and woke up in a really strange place. To wit, the new president of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament is — So Se Pyong of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In his initial address to the Conference as president, So Se Pyong of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the was very much committed to the Conference and during his presidency he welcomed any sort of constructive proposals that strengthened the work and credibility of the body.  He was ready to work closely with all members to provide the grounds for strengthening their work.  As president, he would be guided by the Rules of Procedure and take into account the position of each delegation to find common ground on substantive issues and procedural matters as well.  With their support and cooperation, he would do everything in his capacity to move the Conference on Disarmament forward.

The retiring president, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada in his farewell address said:

[H]e would argue that the Conference on Disarmament was on life support because it  no longer was the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament. Indeed, it was not negotiating anything and had not been for a very long time. He suggested they must do more, by looking at the entire United Nations disarmament machinery and deciding whether this machinery was part of the problem or victim of political paralysis. The Conference on Disarmament was fast approaching an historic tipping point. They would need all of their collective wisdom, and perhaps some luck, at the General Assembly in the fall when it would decide what to do with the Conference  on Disarmament.

And that is the word from UNOG, the United Nations Office at Geneva, in the Heart of Europe. If you have constructive proposals for the newly elected president of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, send them along to Mr. So Se Pyong.  And if you see the rabbit, say Hi!

President Obama’s Disastrous Press Conference: by The Elephant's Child

President Obama held a press conference today.  The debt limit conference he turned over to Joe Biden has produced nothing. Congress has called for him to lead.  He rejects the idea that he is not leading, though he has not participated in debt limit meetings, has refused to produce a budget, offers no proposals, and actions taken by the agencies of the executive branch  keep eliminating more jobs.. He ignored the work of his Debt Commission.  He invited Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to the White House and savaged him.

He explained how hard he has been working.  He has been doing Afghanistan, and Libya and Greece, and Congress hasn’t been doing all-nighters.  His leadership on the budget has been notable only for its complete absence.  Obama’s way is to stand back and let others argue and discuss, and at the last minute he will step in to summarize what has been said, and offer his own twist, then claim credit for the whole thing.

He wants to raise taxes.  He does NOT want to cut spending. but wants to keep “investing” in his favored programs. What he’s there for and what his presidency is about,  in his estimation,  is to transform the country with his ideas of a clean green economy and end our dependence on dirty nasty fossil fuels.  He really doesn’t understand this debt thing.  He was handed a disaster by George W. Bush, and he shouldn’t be blamed for any of it. If there was anything that was made clear by this press conference, it is that Obama just does not understand basic economics.

Basic economics as well as common sense instructs that  you do not raise taxes in a recession. It puts an additional burden on the very people that you are hoping will hire the unemployed.  Democrats now talk about “increasing revenue” — and have even said that they don’t want to raise taxes, they just want to raise revenue. Uh huh!

Democrats have urged lawmakers to include in any potential debt deal — new spending measures in the form of infrastructure projects, clean energy subsidies and a payroll tax cut for employers — to “stimulate” the sluggish economy.   They want more money for highway construction. “Get the recovery right before you get in this deficit-cutting mode,” Assistant Senate Democrat Leader Dick Durbin told reporters.  “Get people back to work.  Let’s start moving in that direction..”  Been there, done that.  That’s what Obama’s huge stimulus was all about — infrastructure projects, clean energy subsidies and a payroll tax cut for employers — and it was all, according to official statistics — a waste.

Obama simply does not understand why the economy is not creating jobs, and he does not understand how jobs are created.  The first step to help business, he said, is his review of government regulations that might put an unnecessary burden on business, and they did eliminate the one about spilled milk being treated as an oil spill, and the new regulation will appear sometime.  Yet the Dodd-Frank Bill puts so many new regulations on business that they are paralyzed.  He’s launched a “partnership” with businesses and community colleges to train workers sometime soon for jobs that may appear sometime in the future. Congress could send him a bill, he said, putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding roads and bridges.  We had a lot of people “trained” for green jobs in the last two years, but those “green jobs” just didn’t appear.

If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship.  That means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research.  That means that food safety may be compromised.  That means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden

False choices, straw men, and complete misrepresentation of the budget problems. “Those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” are the Bush “tax cuts for the rich,” a favorite Democrat talking point, but in the real world “the rich” got a smaller tax cut that anyone else.  Having called out that straw man, he claims that if we don’t raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires then— no medical research? no good safety? no college scholarships? and all the old folks out there can now be terrified that Obama is going to take away their Medicare.  Obama apparently sees the economy as a zero sum game — a pie, and if someone unfairly gets more, then everybody else gets cheated.

The corporate jet tax break was part of the Democrat’s stimulus plan in 2009.  Taxing  “Millionaires and Billionaires” (read small business filing as individuals)  said economist Lawrence Lindsay, simply wouldn’t raise enough revenue over ten years to rescue the economy, let alone pay for Obama’s desired new spending.  Many economists have explained that even if you took away all the millionaires and billionaires money — it still wouldn’t be enough.

It is an unusual moment when a president of the United States appears before the press and the nation to demonstrate that he simply hasn’t a clue about economics, at a time when the nation is in enormous peril simply because of his profligate spending.

Your Federal Government at Work, Making Stupid Regulations. by The Elephant's Child

Today is the deadline for U.S. retailers to unload any unsold baby cribs that don’t meet the federal government’s new safety standards.  There are something like 117,000 cribs that are headed to the dump.  Oddly enough, they have never been declared unsafe.  They are not considered unsafe, a hazard to children, or subject to recall.  They simply do not meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s latest safety test. Any cribs that are unsold by today must be destroyed and sent to landfills.  Perfectly good, perfectly safe cribs must be destroyed because some bureaucrats decided that drop-side cribs don’t meet the new paperwork.

The new safety regulations essentially prohibit drop-side cribs, and make retrofitting unused models very difficult.  The new safety regulations are apparently unconcerned about millions of American mother’s backs!  Been there, done that. The whole reason that drop-side cribs were invented is that lifting a heavy, wet baby in and out of a crib is very hard on the back, and I’m fairly tall.  Short moms are out of luck.  Retailers, in a sour economy, stand to lose at least $32 million according to the commission’s own estimates.

A related regulation applies to daycare providers, requiring that all cribs — regardless of age or condition must be replaced by December 28, 2012.

The commission was following a congressional mandate to update safety standards. The 100,000 number represents the inventory of  just five retailers, so it may be vastly underestimated. The commission had the option to extend the deadline to spare businesses the hit in a down economy, but the Democrat-controlled commission refused to move the deadline.

This administration just cannot stop imposing new and damaging regulations on business. And Obama wonders why employers aren’t hiring.  Look in the mirror, Mr. President.

This Is Why I Rant! (In Case You Were Wondering). by The Elephant's Child

I write a lot about Obama’s clean green energy policies, the EPA, wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, high-speed rail, and twisty lightbulbs, dishwashers that don’t get dishes clean,  washing machines that don’t get clothes clean, restrictive shower heads and other federal restrictions on free Americans.  You can search the Constitution, which spells out those tasks that we assign to the government, and find not one single word delegating the job of regulating these things to the federal government. And the powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.

It is not, however on a Constitutional basis that I object to administration policies, though that is certainly a reason to complain. I rant because these policies are political in nature, accomplish nothing worthwhile, and are extremely burdensome to the economy and to  the American people.

Back in the 1970s the fear was global cooling, a new ice age, nuclear winter, and overpopulation.  Everything was going to hell, a frigid hell. We weren’t going to have enough food to feed the burgeoning population of the world.  Even China’s one-child population-control policy got its start in 1979.  But the new ice age didn’t come, nuclear winter didn’t come,  and quietly going on in Mexico and America was a green revolution in agriculture, increasing yields of the basic food grains — wheat, rice, barley and corn. Worldwide, people have fewer babies.

Well, Rachel Carson —Silent Spring— pesticides, DDT, the EPA, Smog, the Great Cranberry Scandal, Thalidomide, Alar, environmental activists, an environmental “movement”, Greenpeace, the WWF, Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy and hundreds and hundreds of others. The environmental movement is huge, and ranges from groups that envision a pleasant return to the Pleistocene to vegans and animal rights organizations, as well as eco-terrorist groups like ELF, ALF, Earth First!, Direct Action, and Sea Shepherds, not to mention the late Unibomber.

As with most movements that begin with people concerned about something-or-other, they have a way of growing into passion, radicalism and power-seeking.  In general, the environmental movement doesn’t like modern society, doesn’t like capitalism, thinks there is some special distinction between that which is natural and that which is unnatural? artificial? not natural, and is subject to fuzzy thinking. They are supported by the true-believers, the naive, and major foundations.  Which brings us to global warming.

Once the fear of global cooling died out, there was more interest in climate. I’m not going into the history of the climate scare, but it was noticed that the earth seemed to be warming slightly at the same time that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was increasing. Some scientists pointed out that the increase in global temperature (very slight) preceded the increase in CO2 and CO2 could not be causative, but other scientists pointed out that their computer programs, into which they had entered everything known about climate, clearly stated that everything was going to hell, and the earth was overheating and we were all going to die. Well, who are you going to believe — the folks with the most modern technology or those who claimed that there was no reason to be concerned?

Ozone hole, acid rain, Cuyahoga river on fire, harp seals, animal extinction, snail darters, the hockey stick, glaciers melting, seas rising, Al Gore, Arctic melting, polar bears, Kyoto Protocol, the IPCC, The Inconvenient Truth, and greenhouse gases, in no particular order.

Is it any wonder that the public has been somewhat confused?  Governments suddenly wanted to make all sorts of changes — enormously expensive changes in our lives — and nobody was answering the real questions — like what is the right temperature? Is the climate we have right now the right one, or is the Medieval Warm Period which they say was the finest climate known to man (and way warmer than now) the right one?

The scientists that get sneered at as “deniers” and “skeptics” based their claims on evidence in the real world.  The global warming alarmists are basing their claims on — computer programs that can’t seem to “predict” today’s climate.  The reporters in the media who have done so much to bring us the alarming news about the perils of global warming formed their own “Society of Environmental Journalists” where they learn how to write about the environment, not from scientists, but from each other.

I grew up in the foothills of the Rockies, surrounded by National Forest and BLM land at an altitude of a little over 4000′. Weather was a matter of daily concern, floods , lightning strikes, snowslides,  in ways that are simply not encountered by city people. My dad often had to get up in the middle of the night to plow when it looked like the snow was going to be too deep to plow in the morning.  We lost four buildings to flood one year. Ian Plimer, the celebrated Australian geologist, said that rural people were not apt to be alarmed by global warming, in his experience. And I’m not.

And apparently Barack Obama believes in global warming (or does he?) and wants to be the president who brings America into the 21st century with an economy humming along on clean energy.  After all, wind and solar are free, and natural, and fossil fuels are dirty and unnatural (?),and must be stamped out.

Instead of trying to put people back to work,  Obama  has worked hard to cut back in every way our “dependence” on fossil fuels.  We will learn to like electric cars, and ride high speed rail. We will accept more government regulation of our use of energy and water, and more control of the way we live.  We can assume that Obama really believes that the planet is warming alarmingly and he is going to be the one who saves the world.  Or, perhaps he really believes that the country will hum along on free, clean energy, and America will be the shining example for the world, and he, our very 21st century leader will be celebrated as “the One”. Or maybe it’s just a power-grab.

It just makes no sense to me. We have all sorts of evidence from other countries and from our own that wind energy does not live up to the claims of promoters.  Solar energy is an expensive way to heat water.  The problems are not in 21st century technology, but in the nature of wind and sun. The clean energy society may sound splendid in late-night bull-sessions, but it doesn’t pass muster in the real world.

Real world problems of deficits, budgets, debt-ceilings and spending need real attention.  The economy is being destroyed while this president plays golf and chases airy-fairy dreams. That is why I rant.

Plentiful Energy? Not On Obama’s Watch! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s hopes that his energy revolution will create something new and wonderful for the 21st Century. (It’s always the 21st Century). The problem is that most of the technologies aren’t new at all.  Windmills are centuries old, the sun has always been a diffuse source. Electric cars have been promising miracles since around the turn of the last century (1900) if only, and as soon as… The engineers say that they have exhausted the periodic tables and known physics. Wind is too intermittent, solar energy is too diffuse (and the sun goes down at night).

But the U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution. A gusher of natural gas from shale formations has the potential to transform energy production, and supply the country with energy for centuries. About ten years ago, Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release the natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling— in which wells turn sideways after reaching a certain depth — and a 50 year-old technique called hydraulic fracking — in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into a well at high pressure, to loosen the shale and release gas and increasingly — oil.

The Bakken formation, along the Montana North Dakota border, is thought to contain four billion barrels of oil — the biggest proven estimate outside of Alaska. The drilling boom is responsible for  North Dakota’s unemployment rate of only 3.2% — the lowest in the country. Keep that in mind when the Obama administration remains bewildered about how to create jobs.

Well, we can’t have plentiful oil and gas making the President’s release of 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve look unimportant. Environmental organizations have challenged everything about fracking claiming that oil shale production techniques were unproven, dangerous, water supply, royalties too low, etc. etc. etc. Earthjustice filed two big lawsuits on behalf of 13 environmental groups to block, well, everything.

Ken Salazar said the administration was taking a “fresh look” at the rules. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the appointment of a seven-member panel to come up with new fracking rules and safety standards. This duo has demonstrated their cooperation with the environmental lobby in the Gulf, in spite of a contempt of court order by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.  The new panel will feature such energy enthusiasts as former Al Gore aide Kathleen McGinty and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

I did mention that the fracking technique had been around — safely— for around 60 years. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 prevents the EPA from explicitly regulating fracking wells under the Safe Water Drinking Act.  Both the EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council have published studies determining that no documented evidence of fracking-sourced groundwater pollution has been found. But the EPA is now looking at possible contamination. The real threat of fracking is to the Obama administration’s promotion of clean energy renewables. Access to abundant, inexpensive energy instead of expensive, job-killing renewable energy, would just be too helpful for the economy.  Can’t have that!

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