American Elephants


There is No Infrastructure Crisis. They Just Think You’ll Believe Them. by The Elephant's Child

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When  you come to do political battle with your opponent, I guess you try to pick simple clear problems to talk about that people will understand, rather then the difficult, complex problems that really exist. Things like Infrastructure sound important and sound like there could be lots of jobs there. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are claiming that repairing our crumbling infrastructure will be a source of great jobs. Hillary has even gone so far as to call it a “national emergency.” The picture above is very old.

Clinton promises to send a $275 billion infrastructure spending bill to Congress in her first one hundred days of office. In her campaign stops, she invites voters to dream of the hundreds of thousands of jobs that her infrastructure spending will create. Her promised infrastructure boondoggle has drawn Donald Trump into the bidding game with an unseemly pledge to double Clinton’s program. Trump should stick to attacking regulation and tax reform rather than aping her public spending giveaways.

But is our infrastructure really “crumbling?” U.S infrastructure ranks near the top in the world. The lobbyists angling for federal funds are happy to gin up a crisis with D+ report cards for whatever client they represent. “There are 15,000 transportation lobbyists in DC who routinely contribute huge amounts to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Opponents of infrastructure spending are decried as wanting to poison grandma with polluted water and send school buses over the guard rails of decaying roads. Good people want good roads, safe bridges and clean drinking water”— and we all want to be good people don’t we?

This report from the Hoover Institution suggests that there is no crisis, that if we really want to be ‘citizens of the world’ we should help some of the nations that really do have an infrastructure problem that has a real negative effect on the lives of their people.

Under this category is California’s great high-speed rail boondoggle, and the determined goal of the Left to get us all out of our cars and onto trains that won’t work and nobody wants. Seattle has a light rail project that has no riders and costs a bundle, as do many other American cities whose mayors and governors passionately want a legacy and  don’t want to fall behind what their counterparts are doing.

Besides that — there are no jobs. For any infrastructure process, there is a long period of preparation for the project that may involve no new jobs at all and last for years. First there is the planning process, which involves permissions and agreements from all the jurisdictions involved. Architects and engineers design the project. Land must be purchased or condemned (eminent domain and a long court process) and then there are the environmental impact statements.

If the enviros don’t like the project, they are sure to find an endangered species to protect or some other life form they found. With some projects, Indian tribes have claimed ancient burial plots. It  is usually a long painful process that may take ten or twenty years before any new jobs arise, and those may go to experienced construction workers first.

Obama, if you remember, cited crumbling infrastructure, and lots of new jobs — and eventually admitted that there didn’t seem to be any “shovel ready jobs.”  Politicians, it seems, have short memories.



Not to Worry. The Bees Are Just Fine. by The Elephant's Child

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The true believers of the environmental movement need causes that will entice contributions from the gullible to get the funding to support their organization and their demonstrations. “A decade ago, a sudden die-off in some regional honeybee hives got the fundraising juggernaut rolling to protect us from another apocalypse. And they get to claim their methods have worked so far. ”

The science on bee deaths was settled long ago; bees have been dying off for no real reason for as long as we have kept records of bees. It used to be given fancy names, before neonics or pesticides even existed, like Autumn Collapse, May Dwindle, Spring Dwindle and Disappearing Disease. Environmentalists promoted something more apocalyptic sounding: Colony Collapse Disorder.

Yet it was just a new name for a long-existing phenomenon. Taking surveys of bee deaths kept the hype going for a little while, but the public quickly learned that environmentalists were taking up beekeeping as a fad and that resulted in huge numbers of deaths due to mismanagement.  Rather than admit they had amateur incompetence, they wanted to blame pesticides.And small beekeepers did nothing about varroa mites, the big killer of bees. Viruses have evolved too. Bumblebees prefer infected plants over healthy ones because the viruses cause the gene expression of plants to change to be more appealing.

A new study drives another nail into this manufactured neonics coffin. American Council on Science and Health Scientific Advisor Dr. Allen Felsot, Washington State University Tri-Cities professor of entomology and environmental toxicology, and colleagues reaffirm what those versed in science know; hazard is not risk. Mainstream media certainly gets that wrong – it’s why the International Agency for Research on Cancer will get attention with crazy claims like that bacon and plutonium are same level of carcinogen while any junk yard employee knows that’s not true.

I was looking on Yelp yesterday for some recommendations on companies to deal with garden pests, lots of recommendations from women who are frightened by spiders and want them all removed. But there were also recommendations for those who wanted very careful pest removal in order to avoid hurting any honeybees, because the bees were in trouble. Well, no they are not. I don’t know if it has always been so, but the current age seems to have a deep belief in catastrophe waiting right around the corner. And things like “Colony Collapse Disorder” are more comfortable to worry about than problems like ISIS, or corrupt federal agencies like the IRS, or a lack of economic recovery because the current occupant of the White House can’t stop regulating, and controlling, and spending in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.

ADDENDUM: I am not one of those frightened by spiders, but many years ago when we lived in Phoenix, we returned from a trip to Mesa Verde to find out the air conditioner has quit. (In Phoenix in the summer that’s a big deal) The unit was located in a closet accessible only from the outside of the house. Went out to open the door to the closet, and the whole thing was filled with thousands of black widow spiders. That’s something else entirely! Had Raid or the equivalent on hand. Mass death. I was once charged directly by a huge potato bug.The pest control people take care of serious problems as well, including trapping and removing Rats and Raccoons. I once had a mother Raccoon  give birth in the attic over my carport. Cute babies, but Raccoons hiss when annoyed. I put a loud radio in the attic, and encouraged them to leave, which they did, and I quickly made it impossible to get back in.  Adventures with pests!  I’m deadly with woodrats. Nasty critters. Ask about my other adventures with wildlife –rattlesnakes, garter snakes, porcupines, and a lynx.



Sometimes This Climate Change Stuff Gets So Silly All You Can Do is Laugh by The Elephant's Child

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Even when the President is off on vacation golf courses, he prepares his Weekly Address in advance. This week he returned to what he conceives to be the most urgent challenge of our time:

When I took office, I said this was something we couldn’t kick down the road any longer – that our children’s future depended on our action.  So we got to work, and over the past seven-and-a-half years, we’ve made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions.  We’ve multiplied wind power threefold.  We’ve multiplied solar power more than thirtyfold.  In parts of America, these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.  And carbon pollution from our energy sector is at its lowest level in 25 years, even as we’re continuing to grow our economy.

We’ve invested in energy efficiency, and we’re slashing carbon emissions from appliances, homes, and businesses – saving families money on their energy bills.  We’re reforming how we manage federal coal resources, which supply roughly 40% of America’s coal.  We’ve set the first-ever national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution power plants can release into the sky.

We also set standards to increase the distance our cars and light trucks can go on a gallon of gas every year through 2025.  And they’re working.  At a time when we’ve seen auto sales surge, manufacturers are innovating and bringing new technology to market faster than expected.  Over 100 cars, SUVs, and pick-up trucks on the market today already meet our vehicles standards ahead of schedule.  And we’ve seen a boom in the plug-in electric vehicle market – with more models, lower battery costs, and more than 16,000 charging stations.

Late last month, the EPA said they were on track to meet the goals the Obama administration put out in 2012. They call for car manufacturers to produce fleets of vehicles that average 54.5 miles per gallon. An “average”—so if they make some gas-guzzling trucks, they need to sell a lot of hybrids to make up the difference. it also includes credits for more efficient air conditioning systems.  So it’s more like 40 miles per gallon. But nobody has any way of knowing because the EPA’s tests to make sure the car companies are hitting their CAFE numbers don’t work, at all.

The 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act specifies that “the Administrator shall use the same procedures for passenger automobiles the Administrator used for model year 1975.” In other words: When it comes to enforcing the only law that demands cars get better for consumers’ wallets and lungs, the EPA tests like your grandfather.

The president worries about carbon, but he’s talking about carbon dioxide (CO2) which is a natural fertilizer for plants — all plants including trees and food crops. The slight increase in CO2 in the atmosphere has meant a greening of the earth, which in turn has meant that famine and starvation are mostly ended — except in today’s Venezuela, where they really are starving.



Now California’s Climate Cops Are Going After the Cows by The Elephant's Child

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California is sliding slowly into the abyss. It’s not enough that 9,000 companies have packed up and moved to more tax-friendly states. The Bay Area is so expensive that few can afford to live there. Progressives run the place like their own personal slot machine.

The California Air Resources Board has issued regulations to cut the state’s greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but the board is getting worried about their climate agenda. It could all be ruined by natural phenomena.They’ve gone after the oil producers, the manufacturers and now they are going after the cows.

It’s methane, which”according to the board is a ‘short-lived climate pollutant with an outsized impact on climate change in the near term.” ” “Cow manure and ‘enteric fermentation’ (flatulence) account for half of the state’s methane emissions.”

“If dairy farms in California were to manage manure in a way to further reduce methane emissions,” the board explains, “a gallon of California milk might be the least GHG intensive in the world.” And the most expensive. Many California dairy farms have already been converted into nut farms, which are more economical amid the state’s high regulatory costs.

The board suggests that dairy farms purchase technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to consumers. Yet the regulators acknowledge that most ideas involve environmental trade-offs and are not cost-effective without substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits that can be sold to fossil-fuel producers….

Other brainstorms include breeding animals that belch less and testing “gut microbial interventions”—though no doubt Democrats will want to see if the anti-genetic-modification activists object. This all may be too much information for readers, but it shows that in their attempt to impose their climate religion there is no corner of the economy or life that progressives won’t try to control.

They don’t give up. They believe what they want to believe, and are sure that anything else is a lie and shouls probably be prosecuted. The climate of the earth over the past century has warmed by approximately 7 tenths of a degree Centigrade.  Carbon dioxide, which they are desperately trying to get rid of, is fertilizer for plants and is greening the world, and helping to feed a hungry planet. California has managed its water resources so poorly that the great Central Valley, the breadbasket of the world, has turned into a dust bowl as they attempt to save the Delta smelt, a tiny bait fish that may or may not be endangered.



Only 6% of Americans Think the World is Getting Better! by The Elephant's Child

So how do you feel about the state of the world? Is it getting better or getting worse? According to Alex Berezow of the invaluable American Council on Science and Health (ASCH), only 6% of Americans think the world is getting better. The question was “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better or worse?”

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A majority of people—54 percent—surveyed in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom believe there’s a risk of 50 percent or more that our way of life will end within the next 100 years. Even worse, some 25 percent of respondents in the same poll believe it that likely that we’ll go extinct in the next century. Americans were the most pessimistic, giving those gloomy answers 57 percent and 30 percent of the time, respectively. And younger respondents tend to be more pessimistic about the future than older ones. …

For all the talk from the president and the Democrats, one of our biggest problems is gun violence, yet gun homicides in the U.S. are down 43% from 1993 to 2014, the lowest rate in 24 years.

I wrote in May that two centuries ago, average world income per human (in today’s prices) was about $3 a day. Today is is $33 a day in Brazil, and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Matt Ridley wrote that what happened two centuries ago was that “ideas started having sex.” by which he meant that there is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and the freedom to act upon them.

Democrats specialize in a gloomy outlook, from which they promise to rescue you by giving you more stuff, but wealth is created by the free market and capitalism. Free people are endlessly inventive, and the hope of improving your financial situation, making a new idea the next big thing, becomes in a free market the opportunity to succeed. Where did Uber come from? Or telephones unconnected to phone lines that do, well, almost everything.

Democrats and environmentalists are endlessly gloomy. Rolling Stone just had a big article about how New York would shortly be submerged beneath the rising ocean waters. If you consult the scientists who actually know about the increase in ocean waters, you find they speak in millimeters not feet. The Obama administration is reportedly promoting Navy Commanders based on their support for Global Warming. This list of Climate Panics may add a little balance to Obama’s current worries.

The world is better fed than ever before, and starvation is rare except in socialist paradises like Venezuela. Major diseases have been nearly eliminated in the United States, although Obama’s refugees are bringing Tuberculosis and measles and others back. Malaria is way down in Africa. People are living longer. There really is a lot to be upbeat about.



Only 8% of American Farmers Believe in Climate Change! by The Elephant's Child

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A headline from Fortune magazine: “The Paradox of American Farmers and Climate Change”, by Beth Kowitt.  “Some U.S. farmers are skeptical of climate change, even though they’re among the most affected by it.” huh.  More than some.

There’s a strange paradox in the world of agriculture: farmers are perhaps the segment of the population most affected by climate change, and yet a significant number of them don’t believe in it—especially the notion that it’s man-made.

I encountered this phenomenon as I reported a feature for Fortune on how agricultural giant Monsanto is attempting to help farmers both mitigate their impact on the environment and adapt to climate change. All the farmers I talked to readily acknowledged that the weather patterns governing growing seasons had been turned upside down in recent years, but I was on the receiving end of a lot of eye rolls whenever I brought up climate change.

Monsanto MON -0.58% gets a similar response from the growers who buy its seed. The company’s chief technology officer, Robb Fraley, told me he’s received numerous angry emails from farmers asking why the company is supporting what some call “this government effort.

Well, of course the farmers are annoyed. Farmers lives are governed by the weather. They live it daily, and they know far, far more about weather, weather patterns, and forecasts that a condescending writer in the offices of Fortune magazine. And more than the salesmen in the offices of “agricultural giant Monsanto MON-0.58,”as well. Their lives are mostly conducted out of doors — in the weather.

That’s how I grew up, at around 4000′ in the foothills of the Rockies, I guess you could say. We had mild summers and hot summers. Some winters we had 5′ of snow on the level, others, not much more than two.  I’ve been snowed in more than once, had floods, and bad fire years.

Dr. Tim Ball, Climatologist, wrote today about climate alarmism, and how it all began with the “Ozone Hole.” A perfectly normal thinning of the ozone layer was said (falsely) to be a catastrophe. Yet eventually it was noted that the ozone hole was recovering and almost back to normal.  It was essentially, a dry run, a test case for the deception that human produced CO2 is causing global warming.   Read Dr. Ball’s piece to begin to understand how politics has infused the whole climate deception. But back to Fortune magazine:

I don’t want to suggest that all farmers reject the concept of climate change. That’s not the case. But here’s what some of the numbers show: A survey conducted by Iowa State Professor J. Arbuckle and Purdue University professor Linda Prokopy of 5,000 Cornbelt farmers—representing about 60% of U.S. corn production and 80% of farmland in the region—found that only 8% believed climate change is taking place and caused primarily by human activity. That 8% figure is significantly lower than the general population. A poll from January found that 27% of the general public primarily blames human activity.

There’s a big difference in outlook between apartment people in large cities and American farmers. For city people, it’s deciding whether or not to take the umbrella. For farmers, it’s going out in the rain to make sure the water is going to flow properly into the ditches, and not wash out a newly planted crop, and may take most of the day. Farmers listen closely to the weather forecasts, city people not so much.

The idea of human causation is very nebulous. When humans cut down a forest and start tilling the soil, that’s a major human influence and it does affect to local climate. When acres and acres of natural growth are razed to plant wheat or corn, that’s human influence. Exhaling CO2 by millions of people, not so much, either.



Here’s 4,000 Years of Climate History! by The Elephant's Child

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Not quite what President Obama has in mind. Nor what all the fuss was about the “Paris Accords.” As the scientists keep telling us, it has been lots warmer in the past, and lots colder too. So there you are.

ADDENDUM: Please visit the comments to see a better version of this chart that is more detailed and eliminates the “hockey stick” false warming on which President Obama’s climate panic is based.




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