American Elephants

Artisanal Firewood by The Elephant's Child

This is That profiles Smoke & Flame, a Vancouver artisanal firewood company that is selling bundles of kindling for $1,000 a bundle. For more, visit  Craftsmanship!

(Well-crafted joke)

They’re At it Again! Another EPA Spill! by The Elephant's Child

WASGINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2013/06/03: EPA building, Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It’s not the Gold King Mine this time, it’s the Standard Mine, and it’s not 3 million gallons of toxic waste, but only 2,000 gallons — so much smaller, but once again the EPA neglected to notify the appropriate officials and agencies of the spill in a timely manner.  Once again it’s in Colorado.

The Standard King Mine is an EPA designated superfund site, where the EPA has been directing ongoing clean-up at another abandoned mine.  A spokesman for Rep Scott Tipton (R-CO) said that more than 2,000 gallons of reportedly uncontaminated water were spilled from the mine site Wednesday into a local watershed.

So what has happened to the noxious mustard yellow spill from the Gold King Mine into the Animas river? Last we heard it was moving though Lake Mead on its way to the Grand Canyon, our beloved National Park. It just dropped out of the news didn’t it? Funny how things detrimental to the administration do that.

I suspect that what infuriates people most is that when a rancher makes a small pond to water his stock, the EPA descends with threats and warrants and massive charges designed to reduce the victims to abject terror. The size of the fines is designed to terrorize. But when it’s the EPA at fault — ho hum.

The EPA is under investigation by the Interior Department for the Gold King Mine  near Silverton, Colorado. I’m sure the Interior Department will deal with them fairly, and they will be found to have dealt with a difficult situation with the grace and efficiency expected from an agency of the United States Government.

Brain freeze: corrected. The Gold King Mine spill was 3 million gallons (est,) the Standard Mine spill was 2,000 gallons of”gray water” maybe toxic, maybe not. (est.)

The Sierra Club Embarrasses Itself! by The Elephant's Child

There was a time when the Sierra Club was a positive environmental club, doing what they could to protect the Sierra Nevada mountains and encourage the millions of people who wanted to use the mountains for recreation and exploration to think environmentally. We had friends who took pack trips with the club, exploring during the day and at nightfall the pack horses would appear with food and a set up camp. Great summer vacation.

The Sierra Club turned radical green some years ago, and now is just another crony-capitalist bunch, throwing their weight behind leftist programs like opposition to coal, opposition to the Keystone pipeline, and ill-informed scare-mongering to raise money to ‘stop’ global warming, and whatever is fashionable on the green agenda at the moment. There are enormous amounts of money involved.

Sierra Club President Aaron Mair in this hearing demonstrates the position perfectly. The science has been decided, there can be no debate since we are right because 97% of all science says we’re right, so just shut up and don’t question our superior wisdom.

The 97% “consensus” study, Cook et al. (2013) has been thoroughly refuted in scholarly peer-reviewed journals, by major news media, public policy organizations and think tanks, highly credentialed scientists and extensively in the climate blogosphere. The shoddy methodology of Cook’s study has been shown to be so fatally flawed that well known climate scientists have publicly spoken out against it.

There is no such thing as “consensus” in Science. That means everybody agrees. Even if 99% of all scientists agree that something is so, a lonely scientist working in his garage can prove them all wrong. Science is what is proved over and over by observation, not what flawed computer models predict.

Until the panic about the coming catastrophe of rising seas and a steadily warming planet appeared in the press, climate science was a rather dusty corner in most universities. When the climate became scary, and advantageous for congress to do something, grants (significantly big ones) became readily available for anyone who could write a good grant proposal demonstrating how their interest in tree rings could contribute to solving the problems of the drastic warming of a small percentage of a degree, if the granter just gave then enough money for an enlarged department, new equipment, and a few new assistants.

Don’t forget, Climate Change is now a $1.5 trillion industry!

Plastic Bags Are a Great Modern Invention! by The Elephant's Child

bags2 As long as I’m on a roll, let’s address the plastic bag problem. Actually, there is no plastic bag problem, but a problem with aggressive Greens. I’ve written about plastic bags way too often. Just enter “plastic bags” in the search bar over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar. You can learn how this all came about, the dangers of cloth bags, the cost-benefit effect, and all about City Councils’ overbearing regulations.

Seattle, always sensitive to ‘sustainability’ problems or sensitivity among their residents, essentially bans paper and plastic bags. They will charge you if you don’t bring your own cloth bag. Which may be fine and dandy for  a single person living in a small apartment just a few blocks from the grocery store.

I don’t particularly enjoy grocery shopping — it’s just another task, so I try to go no more than once a week. I load up something over 20 plastic bags. I’m supposed to buy 30 cloth bags and wash them (necessary for safety) between each use? I have ranted far too many times, but Katherine Mangu-Ward writing in Reason magazine says:

Plastic bags for retail purchases are banned or taxed in more than 200 municipalities and a dozen countries, from San Francisco to South Africa, Bellingham to Bangladesh. Each region serves up its own custom blend of alarmist rhetoric; coastal areas blame the wispy totes for everything from asphyxiated sea turtles to melting glaciers, while inland banners decry the bags’ role in urban landscape pollution and thoughtless consumerism.

But a closer look at the facts and figures reveals shaky science and the uncritical repetition of improbable statistics tossed about to shore up the case for a mostly aesthetic, symbolic act of conservation.

Her article is thorough and well done, and worth your time. She has traced the plastic bag back to it’s beginnings, and covers the dangers inherent in cloth bags, though I’m not sure she emphasizes them enough. But finally, she admits to cultural and economic pressures, and uses cloth bags herself.

I remain defiant and unreformed. The objections to modern plastic bags are ill informed, the dangers of unwashed cloth bags too severe, and besides I have two cats and I need plastic bags for the kitty litter, and the other noxious things that turn up around my house in the woods.

I’m also getting really tired of the ‘public service announcements’ that are designed to make me hew to the green agenda, and whatever new idea the EPA has this week.

Do You Recycle? Why? Does It Make You Feel Noble? by The Elephant's Child

Surely, if you live in a city in the United States, you recycle. If you are rural, or live in a small town, you are excused. I am suburban, and have 3 cans, one for yard waste, one for plain old garbage, and one for recycling. But there are rules. My Krups coffeemaker quit, but I cannot put it in the garbage, but must take it to a electronics recycling event, fortunately, this coming weekend. Batteries and lightbulbs go somewhere else. They aren’t supposed to go in the garbage either.

I pay a monthly bill for the privilege of recycling the yard waste, which the city turns into compost, which I then have the privilege of buying back for the garden. In neighboring Seattle, they will inspect your garbage to make sure you are not putting any food scraps in with the recycling or the garbage. If they find you guilty the fine is, I think, $50. Three cans, we get 3 different trucks to pick it all up. But is it worth it?

So — do you look for and buy recycled goods? Are you more likely to buy a product that brags on the percentage of recycled goods in their product? Thought not. And often, recycled goods are more expensive than their counterpart. The most desirable goods look as if they have been recycled. Gray-brown plastic bags, brown recycled paper. What use are recycled goods if they don’t show how admirable you are for buying recycled?

The original idea was that landfills were bad, and we were running out of room, which is absurd. Landfills are carefully constructed so there is no damage to the water table. If I remember correctly there was a famous barge of garbage that traversed the East Coast looking for somewhere, anywhere, that would accept their garbage, proving that landfills were all used up.

Recycled paper goods were supposed to save the trees. Catalog companies bought into a tree-planting scheme, assuring their customers that they would compensate for the tons of paper used by planting x number of trees. But most paper is made from tree farm trees raised specifically for the purpose of being turned into paper.

There are environmental groups that seduce cities with a big dog-and-pony show, and  offer them the chance to join a vast group of cities who are also coping with great masses of garbage. They offer pre-designed programs and expertise, posters and mailers, everything a with-it city might need to start their own program, and the opportunity to meet with other mayors in the club  and schmooze. So the correct position in the culture today is to have the very best recycling program. Sustainability is the au-courant buzz-word.

For anything beyond aluminum cans, it’s probably a waste of time and money. Aluminum cans go right back into making new cans. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of reduced demand overseas, the worldwide recession, the drop in oil prices. I think locally the price we pay to have our yard waste composted, and then buy it back at a cost comparable to brand-name composts, but slightly less, is probably reasonably cost-effective (or they would raise the price).

There is no shortage of landfill space. “All the waste generated  by Americans for the next next 1,000 years would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the land available for grazing. Landfills are typically covered with grass and converted to parkland,”according to John Tierney, writing in the New York Times.

Many on the Left have confused recycling with morality, rather than politics where it accurately belongs, and environmentalism with a form of religion. They don’t care if it is wasteful, unnecessarily costly, and accomplishes nothing at all. Saving carbon from entering the atmosphere where it would become a fertilizer for plants and help to feed the world is not a useful enterprise. We need more carbon, not less. Environmentalism is essentially a political ploy, designed to bring an end to capitalism and has nothing to do with saving the earth. They were sure the suckers would fall for it.

A Little Good News for a Change by The Elephant's Child

green-7 by anild sud courtesy eyeTraffic in the Seattle area was impossible yesterday, due to e visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and aside from his entourage, there must have been hundreds of newspeople. The rest of us still have our ordinary errands, which became hours long instead of minutes. Should have stayed home.

On the East Coast they have the same problems because of the visit of the Pope. Today, a horrible traffic accident in Seattle between a tour bus and the Duck Bus  (another tourist enterprise), four people killed, forty-four taken to hospitals. It’s clearly time for some good news and Ronald Bailey at the Reason Foundation supplies it, from their latest magazine.

Paul Erlich, notorious spreader of gloom and doom, was deeply concerned with overpopulation, along with his wife biologist Anne Erlich in the March 2013 Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Not only overpopulation, but overconsumption of natural resources, but “global toxification” which has “exposed the human population to myriad subtle poisons.

Hasn’t happened, for the greening of the earth caused by the natural fertilization of plants from increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere means more food. Fewer people across the world are going hungry.

Most people think that the risk of dying from cancer is going up because of chemicals and pollution, but even as the number of man-made chemicals has increased, your risk of dying from cancer has been decreasing for more than 40 years. Age-adjusted rates of cancer have been dropping largely because fewer people are smoking,  more Americans are having colonoscopies, and cancers are being diagnosed and treated earlier.

The overall incidence of cancer has been falling by about 0.6 percent a year. Modern medicine has increased the five-year survival rates of cancer patients from 50 percent in the 1970s to 68 percent today. That means that in recent years about 100,000 people each year who would have died are alive today.

Although President George W. Bush has been widely criticized for the Medicare Drug program because of the program’s cost, it has saved a lot of lives by getting needed medications to seniors at prices they could afford. It is the only program that came in at less than the estimated cost because of the “donut hole” incentive that encouraged seniors to use generics when they were as effective as more expensive brand-name medicines. Democrats, who simply do not understand incentives, eliminated the incentive, so costs are higher now.

The Erlichs are still going on about overpopulation and shortage of food, but in most societies women with more education have fewer children. Given current age, sex and education trends world population will most likely peak at 9.6 billion by 2070 and then begin falling. If education levels are pursued more aggressively, would population could top out at 8.9 billion in 2060 before starting to drop. Increased economic opportunities, more education, longer lives, more liberty are all trends that reinforce each other and accelerate the trend of falling global fertility.

In 1950 the average yield in the U.S. for a acre of corn was 51 bushels which would support 5 people for a year.  Today, the yield from an acre of corn is 166 bushels that would supply enough calories to support 16 people for a year. (Since we are a rich country, we’re putting a lot of it in our gas tanks) In India the average is 42 bushels that would support 4 people and in Africa, the yield is an average 32 bushels per acre per year to feed just 3 people. With lots of room for improvement.

Much of the increase in our food supply can be attributed to advances in biotech crops.

The board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the largest scientific organization in the United States has, on October 20, 2012 point-blank asserted that “contrary to popular misconceptions, GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.” The AAAS board concluded, “indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”

The entire article is here, and offers some positive news for those who follow the IPPC’s version of fear about global warming as well.

We still have our worries about the economy, national security, wars and trials and tribulations, education, and the general messed-up state of humanity, but really, there is good news.

Obama Went to Alaska to See a Glacier, Make a Speech, And Talk a Lot of Nonsense. by The Elephant's Child

www.usnews.comPresident Obama likes to make a speech or two in appropriate places to give him a little more authenticity for whatever program he is pitching. In this case, there was a Conference on Global Leadership on the Arctic, in Anchorage. As a sign of  the importance the United States placed on the Alaska forum, the president attended.  He used the conference as a platform to urge swifter action to combat climate change.

Our understanding of climate change advances each day.  Human activity is disrupting the climate, in many ways faster than we previously thought.  The science is stark.  It is sharpening.  It proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present.

In fact, the Arctic is the leading edge of climate change — our leading indicator of what the entire planet faces.  Arctic temperatures are rising about twice as fast as the global average.  Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the United States.  Last year was Alaska’s warmest year on record — just as it was for the rest of the world.  And the impacts here are very real.

Thawing permafrost destabilizes the earth on which 100,000 Alaskans live, threatening homes, damaging transportation and energy infrastructure, which could cost billions of dollars to fix.

The president is an ideologue, and he knows many things that just aren’t so. The globe is actually cooling. Arctic ice is growing and has been in greater extent this year than last, as has Antarctic ice. There has been no warming at all for the last 18 years. There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” He referred to our forest fires here in Eastern Washington, and said “even the rainforest is on fire.” Oh?

They had a big signing ceremony affirming “our commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic.” But Russia, China and India refused to sign. A bit embarrassing.

Obama added:

“If we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century ”

Climate politics, a religion, is one thing, climate science is something quite different. It’s actually expected to get somewhat colder.

Obama also announced that he is changing the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali, the Inuit name for the mountain. He really has no authority to do so. The name of the mountain was created by an act of Congress, and can be re-named the same way. The president is feeling cocky, and intent on overruling Congress at every opportunity.



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