American Elephants

Always Chasing Rainbows by The Elephant's Child

The carbon market in Europe — cap-and-trade — is in freefall. The prices of emissions allowances, which award the holder the right to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, have fallen to a record low this week, down 11% from the beginning of the year,  They now trade at less than one-fourth of their July 2008 value. Hopes that other nations would fall in line with the EU program have been dashed, and there is no global consensus.

Recession on the continent has cut back on emissions, and the prolonged economic slump casts doubt on whether the EU can continue to bolster prices on the carbon exchange.  Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher levels than we have at present. We are currently near the bottom end of the scale, not the top.  Greenhouses regularly keep their CO2 levels around 1000 ppm. Plants grow better at higher levels, and are more resistant to drought.

IPCC supporters have been frustrated at the lack of computer-predicted warming, though there has been some warming , perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 1800s, but the timing of the warming suggests that a tangible amount of the warming comes from natural causes and has nothing to do with factories or SUVs.

Germany decided last year to slash the market prices it forces utilities to pay for renewable energy sources, and to cut the subsidies that have locked German taxpayers into €100 billion in handouts to the solar industry. The Germans, being a northern race, have had a long love affair with the sun, but there are limits. They have found that their heavily insulated houses are featuring more mold and mildew. Germany produces nearly half of the world supply of solar energy.

The green manufacturing that was supposed to be the planet’s salvation is just as susceptible to low-cost competition as other industries. Instead of creating a sustainable comparative advantage, German subsidies invited competition, and the rivalry that is now putting their solar industry out of business.

Italy is taking notice and are cutting back on ‘excessive” subsidies for solar and wind power. The Obama administration has shown no signs of such good sense, but we may have lucked out. Solar Trust last year received a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan from the Department of Energy, but declared itself insolvent after its German parent Solar Millennium filed for bankruptcy in March, and Q-Cells, another German solar company filed for bankruptcy this week. Solarhybrid, and Solon went out of business earlier, and according to one analyst, more bankruptcies are on the horizon.  Consumers can expect a $260 hike in their energy bills.

The administration’s website lists five pages of other solar projects, with current and future loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Even after the Solyndra debacle and all the other bankruptcies, Washington boosters still insist that these projects are the key to America’s economic and energy future. They just believe.

The belief in “renewable energy” is religious in nature, and not susceptible to contrary information. Solar and wind remain beautiful dreams with no more substance than a rainbow. And the dream of cheap, unlimited power from “natural” sources is like chasing the end of the rainbow looking for the pot of gold.

“Unexpectedly”—A Healthy Polar Bear Count! by The Elephant's Child

All those dire warnings about the population decline of polar bears—nevermind. The bear population along the western shore of Hudson Bay are believed to be among the most threatened. but the most recent study counted 1.013 bears and could be even higher.

The study was released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. This is 66 percent higher than estimates from other forecasters who expected that numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt. The Hudson Bay region which straddles Nunavut and Manitoba is considered a bellwether for how polar bears are doing in the Arctic.

The survey in 2009 and 2010 late summer flew more than 300 hours and 40,000 km during each year’s survey, and observed 816–1,003 individuals. It is a seasonally ice-free population, so I assume they can see the bears better. This would seem to be a better methodology than say, seeing three drowned polar bears at sea after a storm and then extrapolating that to an entire population as one now discredited and disgraced researcher did.  See “Republicans Don’t believe in Science…” below.

Population figures are used to calculate quotas for hunting, an important industry for many northern communities.  Hunting is highly regulated, but Inuit communities can sell their quotas to sport hunters who must hunt with Inuit guides. A polar bear hunting trip can cost up to $50,000.

(click to enlarge)
(h/t: Watts Up With That)

Obama’s New Press Release: “Rules for Journalists” by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s been busy lecturing lately. He doesn’t take well to disagreement or criticism, His uncomfortable lecture for the Supreme Court really got him in hot water with the legal profession.  Now he has taken on journalists, with some instructions on how to report his positions.

This bears on your reporting,” President Obama said to journalists. “I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And an equivalence is presented which I think reinforces peoples’ cynicism about Washington in general. This is not one of those situations where there’s an equivalency.” …

As all of you are doing your reporting, I think it’s important to remember that the positions that I am taking now on the budget and a host of other issues. if we had been having this discussion 20 years ago or even 15 years ago … would’ve been considered squarely centrist positions,” Obama said a few moments later.

In other words, if you’re going to report, get it right. I’m the centrist and I’m right, and those other guys are the bad guys. No, he couldn’t have been that obvious, could he?

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