Filed under: China, Developing Nations, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, News, Politics | Tags: Iran and China, The Ancient Silk Road, The Taklimakan Desert
Taking up much of the space between China and Iran is the Taklimakan desert, one of the most hostile environments on earth. Almost no vegetation, almost no rainfall, frequent sandstorms, much loss of life. Surrounded by some of the highest mountains,—to the North is the Gobi desert, almost as hostile, but with a few oases, to the South are the Himalayas, Karakorum and Kunlun ranges with only a few dangerous icy passes.
The first meetings of East and West took place somewhere around 125 B.C. Calling it the”Silk Road” is misleading, for there was no one defined route, and certainly no road. All routes started from Changan, headed up the Gansu corridor and reached Dunhuang on the edge of the Taklimakan. One route skirted the Northern edge of the Taklimakan at the base of the mountains, the southern route skirted the southern edges. It was not a trade route that existed solely for the purpose of trading in silk, but gold, ivory, exotic animals and plants. Silk was the most remarkable trade good in the West.
Bandits soon learned of the trade routes, and caravans had to arm up, and forts were built along parts of the route. But trade also took place in fashion, religion, art and custom. Religion may have been the most important. Mongols, Buddhists, Muslims, and assorted Chinese dynasties. Silk began to be moved by sea, but there were pirates and hurricanes.
Renewed interest in the Silk Road emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century, as the British were interested in consolidating some of the lands north of their Indian territories. There were tantalizing rumors of ancient cities lost in the desert, which led to exploration, discovery, archaeology and treasures carted off to British museums.
The demise of the Silk Road began some six to seven hundred years ago. What new interest will bring is an unknown. There is oil under the desert in some places. There are thirteen different races of people in the area, and now a railroad, a private, not a state operation.
The train carried 32 containers of commercial products from Zhejiang province and the 5,900 mile trip took 14 days. This was 30 days shorter than the sea voyage from Shanghai to Bandar Abbas in Iran. The railway is planned to extend on to Europe. It will leave once a month and the frequency might be increased if necessary. China is Tehran’s top customer for oil exports. The distance is roughly comparable to a trip from San Francisco to New York and back again., though it sounds like more hostile territory.
Chinese President XI Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to build economic ties worth up to $600 billion within the next 10 years. We’ll see what comes of this new trade along the ancient Silk Road.
For more, go to Google Images, enter “the Silk Road” and see all the photographs and maps of ancient sites, forgotten cities, art and religion, and desert. Fascinating.
Filed under: Asia, Bureaucracy, China, Developing Nations, Economy, Environment, Foreign Policy, Global Warming, India, Japan, Junk Science, Media Bias, Politics, The United States | Tags: Climate Conference COP21, Fantasy and Belief, James Delingpole
The report of the President’s response to the jihadist attack in San Bernardino should give you pause. As soon as he realized that some would classify the killing in San Bernardino as a terrorist attack, he called together his National Security Council and the heads of federal law enforcement agencies to discuss a public relations strategy. A designation of the killing as a terrorist attack would threaten to upset his “strategy” in Syria.
The President of the United States has declared publicly, 22 times, that climate change is a greater threat by far than Islamic terrorism: Jan. 15, 2008; Jan 26, 2000; May 2010; Sept.6, 2012; Jan 23, 2013; Feb. 16, 2014; June, 2014; Sept. 2014; Sept 24, 2014; Oct. 29, 2014; 2015 State of the Union address; Feb. 2015; Feb. 09, 2015, Feb. 10, 2015, April 18, 2015; May, 2015; May 20 2015; July 13, 2015; Defense Dept report, July 29, 2015; Aug 28, 2015; September UN 2015; Sept.28, 2015 at the United Nations, he said “No country can escape the ravages of climate change.”
The Big Climate Meeting: COP 21, has concluded. The negotiators have thrashed out their final details. The agreement will make no difference whatsoever to “climate change,” and the total effects will be another very expensive meeting to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco next year.
As James Delingpole, who is always correct, said, “All that stuff you’ve read and heard about “time running out,” “deadlock,” “last minute deals,” — it’s all a charade, everything was pre-ordained. COP is not really about saving the planet, it’s a massive jobs fair for activists, shyster politicians, bureaucrats, and people with otherwise worthless degrees in “sustainability,” “conservation biology,” and “ecology.”
He adds that “No serious person in the world believes in man-made climate change any more. They just don’t. Only people like Secretary of State John Kerry — who has staked the reputation of the Obama presidency on how well it deals with this non-existent problem.” Delingpole adds “If you live by fairies you will die by fairies.”
We said in the beginning that China and India aren’t about to sign on to any plan eliminating or reducing their efforts to industrialize and their need for cheap energy. China is building one new coal-fired power plant every 7 to 10 days, while Japan plans to build 43 coal-fired power projects to replace its Fukushima nuclear plant, which killed 19,000 people and destroyed 150,000 buildings. India has some 500 coal-fired power plants planned.
The stated aim of the meeting was to prevent the earth’s temperature from rising more than 2º C. above pre-industrial levels. If all the world’s leading nations stick to the carbon-reduction commitments they will make (which are totally not binding) then they will stave off ‘global warming’ by the end of this century by 17 one hundredths of one degree C. (0.170º C.) That is the “optimistic scenario,” assuming that nobody’s lying.
The annual cost to the global economy is approximately $1.5 trillion. As Ebeneezer Scrooge said, Bah Humbug!
“We met the moment,” Obama said. “We may not live to see the full realization of our achievement but that’s OK,: he said. “What matters is that today we can be more confident this planet will be in better shape for the next generation.”
So there you go. Nothing binding. Opt-outs written in. Totally fake agreement. What more could you ask for, if you are trying to decorate your legacy? But they will have another big meeting next year, and the year after…
Nevertheless, the press, totally invested in saving the earth, as you hear from them constantly, erupted with delight:
(h/t: T. Becket Adams)
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Developing Nations, Economy, Foreign Policy, Global Warming, Junk Science, National Security, Politics, Progressives, Science/Technology, Terrorism, The United States, United Nations | Tags: Cannot Agree On Reality, Expect Failure, Paris Climate Conference
“Next week I will be joining President Hollande and other world leaders in Paris for the Global Climate Conference,” Obama said at a press conference on Tuesday. “What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.” His remarks came a day after the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert urging American citizens not to travel abroad for fear of increased terrorist activity. The travel advisory will expire in February.
The President seems completely sure that climate change is destroying the world, and to preserve it we have to switch to alternate forms of energy and put large amounts of corn into our gas tanks, and in general worship at the altar of pure environmentalism. The opposition are so-called “deniers” who are to be scorned for disagreeing. The problem is that the “global warming” in which the president believes so firmly exists only in the computer programs of the UN’s IPCC. They start with what we actually know about today’s temperatures, add a lot of informed guesses, some ill-informed estimates and a lot of maybes and what ifs. We’ve had centuries of worry about the winters getting colder or warmer and everything melting. This is not the first time we have been through this. In the 70s they worried about cooling, and nuclear winter.
The so-called “Deniers” (intended to associate with Holocaust Deniers) or Skeptics believe that the climate is always changing, that it has been much warmer in the past, and much colder as well. Man and animal species are adaptable and have successfully adapted to changes. No need for panic.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change has admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity — but to destroy capitalism.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.
I have no idea if this is Obama’s underlying belief, or if he is a true believer, like Prince Charles and Bill McKibben. The true believers are sure that the drought in Syria is the cause of terrorism, yet scientists say there is no drought. This gets us to the very awkward place where the people cannot agree on reality which is the increasingly common state of affairs between right and left.
There are increasing accusations that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has cooked the books in a scientific paper which they prepared. They denied that there has been a “pause” in the warming, which other scientists put at 18 years and 9 months of a quiet sun and no warming. History shows that scientists are not above doctoring the data to further an agenda, and there are very big bucks riding on a warming climate. Climate change activists are begging for the “deniers” to be scared to death to further their goals.
The Obama administration expects to update a controversial standard for ethanol levels in gasoline. Researchers say there is no benefit from including ethanol in gasoline, and it actually increases the CO2 in the atmosphere. The farmers in the Midwest want more ethanol so they can sell more corn at higher prices. The greens want more ethanol because gasoline is evil.
There’s a report from CFact that the Obama administration may be prepared to shut down the entire U.S. government unless Congress appropriates funds for the UN’s “Green Climate Fund.” This fund was created as a mechanism for the transfer of funds from prosperous nations to “developing countries.” Naturally the developing countries are anxious to blackmail the prosperous nations into funding their development, and much of UN funds are apt to fall into the outstretched hands of dictators and strongmen. They see no reason to agree to anything unless they get a major payout.
The newest bright idea is a demand for member countries to cut down on meat consumption to help them stem global warming. The livestock sector is responsible for 7.1 GtCO2 a year of greenhouse gas emissions (burps and flatulence), and equivalent to tailpipe emissions from the world’s vehicles. Adoption of a healthy diet (vegetarian) would generate over a quarter of the emission reductions needed by 2050. Raising the price of meat, or removal or subsidies for the livestock sector and substituting ‘plant-based alternatives.’ Uh huh.
The annual UN Conference of the Parties (COP-21) on climate change brings together over 191 countries and over 100 heads of state. Estimates are of around 40,000 in attendance to reach a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees C. over pre-industrial levels. A legally binding treaty would require signatures of 190 or more nations. Unlikely to happen.
There are not 67 supporting votes in the Senate, the Democrats are increasingly unwilling to vote for higher energy costs in an election year. European nations need higher levels of economic growth, and they are currently devastated with a massive influx of refugees and migrants.
Developing countries face real poverty, with need for potable water, commercial electricity, and cure for diseases. They want a higher standard of living which means the use of fossil fuels. Windmills and solar panels aren’t going to do it.
The pursuit of significant emission reductions represents an agenda of the arrogant and crony capitalists who want to further enrich themselves by promoting subsidies, mandates, and loan guarantees to encourage solar, wind, and electric vehicles—even though these vehicles are not commercially viable and have no near-term prospect of being so.
That’s where we stand right now. Lots of hype and threats, and hard work to sort out reality. Britain is backing off from unworkable climate schemes, and looking to go for fracking to get at the natural gas in their shale deposits. Germany is building more coal-fired power plants, as are Japan, China, and India and all the smaller nations in between. Looks as if Obama is the one who is completely out of step.
Filed under: Africa, Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Energy, Environment | Tags: Do It Our Way, Energy for Africa, Environmental Activists
Why are environmentalists so impervious to facts? It is a religion, faith-based, and even high-school biology goes by the wayside as one faces the problems of the modern world. Sierra Club president Aaron Mair had to rely on his aides and the much debunked 97% canard to respond to Ted Cruz’s questions.
Friends of the Earth; Oxfam America; Sierra Club; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate demanding changes to the Electrify Africa Act of 2015. S 1933 in order to help accomplish the goals of the Act and to promote clean and sustainable development. (Lofty, ludicrous and laughable)
Unsurprisingly, they want Africa powered with (extraordinarily expensive) sources like wind and solar (presumably without the needed backup power). They note that more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lacks electricity, with that number growing to more than 85 percent in rural areas. They demand:
- Ensuring that growth in access is inclusive and is reliable, affordable and sustainable energy with a particular emphasis on increasing off-grid coverage in rural areas.
- Developing an energy access strategy for sub-Saharan Africa that promotes safe, affordable community-controlled renewable energy solutions, rather than encouraging an “all-of-the-above” strategy that promotes oil, natural gas, and coal that is harmful to human health and local environments and that is often associated with corruption. (emphasis added) …
- Requiring meaningful consent on energy development plans from local communities, and
To be inclusive means improving opportunities for and involvement of women and girls by:
- Ensuring that women and girls benefit from access to energy, conduct a gender assessment at each project level to analyze gender differences and inequalities, that will inform best practices for energy project design and implementation. …
- Disaggregating by age, gender and economic quintile the number of people and communities that have benefitted from the law.
I left out several lines of gobbledygook, but you can find the whole thing here, with additional comments from Steven Hayward. He adds that the environmentalists have successfully lobbied the World Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. not to fund any hydroelectric dams in Africa (or anywhere else.) Africa has lots of hydro potential, and oddly enough, hydro is the original “renewable” resource. Environmentalists don’t like dams! Only wind and solar that require 24/7 backup from conventional power plants that they hope to forbid.
What a bunch of shallow-minded lightweights. You want energy to enter the modern world — only if you do it our way.
The African wind farm in the photo will produce some very expensive, intermittent energy when the wind blows at the right speed. The entire objection to conventional energy is that it adds CO2 to the atmosphere and thus causes global warming. Such warming as there is — roughly a degree over the last century — is less than the normal warming from winter to summer, and is probably caused by the sun. CO2 is a natural fertilizer, and helps plants (like African food crops) to grow.
Filed under: Africa, Developing Nations, Economy, Education, Energy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: Speeches and Audiences, Talking to Africa, The American President
I had to laugh at Abe Greenwald’s line: “The United States has been too eager to throw its weight around and impose it’s norms on other countries without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.” Which he attributes to Barack Obama’s worldview.
Obama went to Africa to make a speech. He spoke in the Mandela Hall in the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and he spoke at the Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall on the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus. He told Africans to stamp out corruption, get more young people in school. Africa’s population will double, he said, but it is urgent to get more young people trained. Africa’s growth will depend on unleashing economic growth, and ending the cancer of corruption. He tried to push education for girls, gay rights in Africa, fighting corruption and “clean energy” and — solar panels, not ‘dirty’ fossil fuels.
The young Africans, according to the BBC, said their feeling about America is ‘clean your own house first.’ They are shocked and horrified at what is going on in the black community in America — police brutality, all these killings, everything being swept under the rug, investigations don’t happen. They were horrified by the lack of freedom of speech and expression in the U.S. Many said they found Obama’s views about gay rights unpalatable. “When Obama declares gay rights is about human rights, most of us feel he’s not Christian.”
Mr. Obama may be laboring mightily to keep anyone from thinking that America is an “exceptional” country. He wants it to be just one of the “community of nations,” and not any more important than any other. Strange ambition. But the nations of the world haven’t lost interest, and everything American makes it onto the front pages of the world’s newspapers, and with the increasing spread of technology, they have only to log on. After all, we are the source of movies, celebrity gossip and strange behavior, fashion, what’s new, and just what’s happening in America. So they know quite a bit about what’s going on here. In spite of the compliments, Obama seemed to be there to throw his weight around as the American president, and impose some American norms without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.
Here are remarks from young Africans of East Africa in Addis Ababa
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Free Markets, Freedom, History | Tags: Cell Phones, Changing Africa, Leon Luow
President Obama spoke on Sunday in Kenya about Africa’s bleak history, referencing the racism his grandfather faced as a cook for the British during the colonial era, and the ethnic violence that erupted after a disputed election in 2007. He urged Africans to build stronger and more tolerant democracies. Graft, he said, is “not something that is just fixed by laws, or that any one person can fix. It requires a commitment by the entire nation—leaders and citizens—to change habits and change culture.
What does this have to do with rather primitive cell phones? It’s that modern cell phones are now common in Africa. You may see a Masai tribesman in the remotest part of Africa, herding goats in his red blanket, talking on a cell phone. Poverty is being eliminated, life expectancy is longer, and trade and investment are changing Africa. Leon Louw urges more “exploitation.” More people buying things from Africa, investing in Africa and employing people in Africa. Yet the assumption is that poverty is increasing, while the opposite is the case, and should be celebrated.
If you have not watched the 9 minute video below, you can see the important part about eliminating poverty and the proliferation of cell phones at about 9: 30, and the potential difference that BitCoin may make. Mr. Obama’s advisors did not prepare him for recognizing the advances that Africa has made.
Last time he made a speech in Africa, Obama told the people that they couldn’t all have cars and air-conditioners or the oceans would boil over.
Time and technology move on, and change the world.
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Economy, Education, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Media Bias | Tags: Free Market Capitalism, Societal Transformation, Understanding What's Important
Leon Louw is an author, policy analyst, and executive director of the South Africa-based think tank: The Free Market Foundation. “Thank goodness people are ‘exploiting ” Africa by buying things from it, by investing in it, by employing people in it,” he said. “The worst thing that would happen is if people decide to stop exploiting Africa.”
The statement might sound provocative, but Louw is responding to a a pair of critiques he hears often: That economic development is akin to exploitation and that the gap between rich and poor is growing dangerously large. But Louw says that the focus on economic inequality is a distraction from a more important metric.
“The world is experiencing the most amazing accomplishment of humanity: The virtual elimination of poverty,” says Louw. “It’s strange that as that happens, we are talking about it as if there is more of it.”
Another illustration of “One of the Most Remarkable Achievements in Human History.”Some good news to be celebrated. The Decliners are sure that there is more poverty, more unfairness, more decline. About 9 minutes long. It is getting really hard to get a straight, true look at the state of the world. Those things which are hard and bad are ignored, misunderstood, and the dangers made light of. And the good things? We don’t even know they are happening. It would be helpful if there was way less talk about the supposed gap between the rich and the poor, and a lot more appreciation for free market enterprise that moves people out of poverty.