American Elephants


Dueling Climate Reports: Here’s the Important One. by The Elephant's Child

There is a vigorous scientific debate over humanity’s influence on climate. The leftist media prefers to attempt to prevent that simple fact from being heard. This is a strange time in history when disagreement is not to be allowed. Those who disagree are to be prevented from speaking. Some want dissenters jailed. It’s getting really weird out there.

Here’s a little dissent from the scientists at the independent Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

Guest essay by Dr. Craig D. Idso

The release of a United Nations (UN) climate change report last week energized various politicians and environmental activists, who issued a new round of calls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the most fiery language in this regard came from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who called upon Congress to “wake up and do everything in its power to reduce dangerous carbon pollution,” while Secretary of State John Kerry expressed similar sentiments in a State Department release, claiming that “unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy.” 

Really? Is Earth’s climate so fragile that both it and our way of life are in jeopardy because of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions?

In a word, no! The human impact on global climate is small; and any warming that may occur as a result of anthropogenic CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions is likely to have little effect on either Earth’s climate or biosphere, according to the recently-released contrasting report Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts, which was produced by the independent Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

This alternative assessment reviews literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support and often contradict the findings of the UN report. Whether the subject is the effects of warming and rising CO2 on plants, animals, or humans, the UN report invariably highlights the studies and models that paint global warming in the darkest possible hue, ignoring or downplaying those that don’t.

To borrow a telling phrase from their report, the UN sees nothing but “death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods” everywhere it looks—as do Senator Boxer, Secretary Kerry, and others. Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts demonstrates that life on Earth is not suffering from rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels. Citing reams of real-world data, it offers solid scientific evidence that most plants actually flourish when exposed to both higher temperatures and greater CO2 concentrations. In fact, it demonstrates that the planet’s terrestrial biosphere is undergoing a great greening, which is causing deserts to shrink and forests to expand, thereby enlarging and enhancing habitat for wildlife. And much the same story can be told of global warming and atmospheric CO2 enrichment’s impacts on terrestrial animals, aquatic life, and human health.

Why are these research findings and this positive perspective missing from the UN climate reports? Although the UN claims to be unbiased and to have based its assessments on the best available science, such is obviously not the case. And it is most fortunate, therefore, that the NIPCC report provides tangible evidence that the CO2-induced global warming and ocean acidification debate remains unsettled on multiple levels; for there are literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support a catastrophic, or even problematic, view of atmospheric CO2 enrichment.

Unfortunately, climate alarmism has become the modus operandi of the UN assessment reports. This fact is sad, indeed, because in compiling these reports, the UN either was purposely blind to views that ran counter to the materials they utilized, or its authors did not invest the amount of time, energy, and resources needed to fully investigate an issue that has profound significance for all life on Earth. And as a result, the UN has seriously exaggerated many dire conclusions, distorted relevant facts, and omitted or ignored key scientific findings. Yet in spite of these failings, various politicians, governments, and institutions continue to rally around the UN climate reports and to utilize their contentions as justification to legislate reductions in CO2 emissions, such as epitomized by the remarks of Senator Boxer and Secretary Kerry.

Citing only studies that promote climate catastrophism as a basis for such regulation, while ignoring studies that suggest just the opposite, is simply wrong. Citizens of every nation deserve much better scientific scrutiny of this issue by their governments; and they should demand greater accountability from their elected officials as they attempt to provide it.

There it is, that’s my op-ed. It’s what some people apparently do not want you to read. While the over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific references cited in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts are likely more than sufficient to establish scientific fact in a court of law, they are not sufficient to engage the real climate deniers in any debate. The rise in atmospheric CO2 is not having, nor will it have, a dangerous influence on the climate and biosphere. But don’t take my word for it, download and read the report for yourself (available at http://www.nipccreport.org). Compare it with the UN report. You be the judge!

Dr. Craig D. Idso is the lead editor and scientist for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).



Another Stunning Example of Political Opportunism. by The Elephant's Child

 

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The U.S. State Department has cleared the Keystone XL Pipeline twice, so far, but now they are going to have to pass it again, after an extension of the public comment period which will, coincidentally, last until after the election. Part of the pipeline’s planned path has been changed to suit protesters. It is not a coincidence that the news of the ‘decision’ was released on the convergence of Good Friday and Passover. News that they’d rather cover up is always released late on a Friday. The cover story is that a further delay in the five-year saga of the Keystone couldn’t be avoided because of ‘unresolved legal issues’ over land seizures in Nebraska. Of course.

Let’s see what is involved:

TransCanada has provided a detailed job breakdown for the pipeline. They say it will create 13,000 union construction jobs, 7,000 jobs for Americans in manufacturing. It is estimated that there are up to 250,000 jobs over the life of the pipeline. That boom in employment would have spin-off jobs in the local economies that support each segment of the pipeline.

The Canadians are mightily annoyed. The United States imports eight to nine million barrels of oil every day. A stable, secure supply of oil from Canada makes better sense. Obama has orated about “our dependence on”foreign oil” often enough when it suits what he wants his audience to think.

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

Pushing the Keystone XL through would send an important message to Vladimir Putin that America is willing to develop our energy. And allowing the export of liquified natural gas would put a thorn in the side of Putin’s ability to blackmail Europe because of their need for natural gas. But we don’t actually want to annoy Mr. Putin, do we?

On the other side you have:

Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer has promised to spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million for the Democrats in this election if they support the cause of global warming. He really “hates” the Keystone XL pipeline. Steyer has made much of his money at Farallon Capital by investing in fossil fuel producers.

Steyer now claims that stopping Keystone will somehow prevent Canada’s oil sands from being developed. That’s hogwash. The oil is now being carried by rail. In 2008, there were less than 10,000 carloads of crude oil moved by rail. Last year it was more than 400,000 carloads. Rail transportation is far less safe than a pipeline, and the network of pipelines across the country is already extensive, and safe.

Steyer will profit from any delay of the Keystone because he is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. He is, today, a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. Banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. He owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financiers of coal projects in Australia and Asia.  He has led recent campaigns with climate nut Bill McKibben to encourage university endowments to divest coal equities. John Hinderaker at Powerline has assembled a remarkable list of Steyer interests. The Hypocrisy is breathtaking.

The most notable takeaway is that, for Barack Obama political money for the upcoming election trumps jobs for unemployed American construction workers, unemployed American manufacturing workers, and for the taxpayer money going to import all that “foreign oil. Everything, for Barack Obama, is about politics. All that talk about jobs, jobs, jobs is just talk.



The Environmental Themes of Aronofsky’s “Noah” by The Elephant's Child

I have not seen Noah, nor do I intend to. Saw the trailers, and Noah as an environmentalist and vegetarian with really bad dialogue left me thinking there were better ways to spend my time.

This summary of, um, “creative interpretation or heretical imagination” — or Noah’s top five environmental intrusions into the biblical textual account convinced me that, much as I like Russell Crowe, I would pass on this one.

The environmental notions of the movie show the extent of the culture wars.

  1. Man’s primary sin is that of destroying the environment.
  2. God prefers animals to humans.
  3. Man is an unwelcome intrusion on the environment.
  4. Taking dominion over the earth means ravaging it.
  5. Man’s task is to reduce his environmental footprint.

The explanations of each theme are here. The author says:

Aronofsky himself sees the movie as an environmentalist sermon of sorts, with anthropogenic global warming as our latest evil to combat. “The water is rising, and we already saw it once,” he commented to CNN on the supposed climate effects predicted by the United Nations. “We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

Sounds like a religion to me. The culture wars are getting exceedingly strange.



The Age of Global Warming Is Over: Sanity Returns. by The Elephant's Child

Mankind cannot predict the future. We attempt it constantly. Prediction has become a profession of sorts, with strategists, planners, futurists—and governmental agencies. We’re not always successful with our plans for tomorrow, which should teach us something about prediction, but hope springs eternal.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, is a prime example. Weather forecasters can predict the future pretty well for the rest of the week, but the IPCC attempts to do a “gigantic weather forecast for a century or more.”And they know that because they have computer programs the tell them so. The total absurdity of such predictions is clearly expressed by Christopher Booker in The  Telegraph:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

That’s four-tenths of one percent! And the panic over that 0.4 percent of warming has become a religion, with ardent true believers who want to send “denialists” to prison. That 0.4 percent has drawn forth massive government investment in low-flush toilets, banning lightbulbs, massive wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, ethanol, biofuels, and pages and pages of regulations. The stage of the panic can be partly measured by the list of things caused by global warming. The amount of money misapplied to preventing global warming, with no visible result, is immeasurable. The totals would be humiliating, and we will probably never know. Wasted. Completely wasted.

Also in The Telegraph, Charles Moore reviews The Age of Global Warming by Rupert Darwall.

The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more. However interesting the scientific inquiries involved, therefore, it can have almost no value as a prediction. Yet it is as a prediction that global warming (or, as we are now ordered to call it in the face of a stubbornly parky 21st century, “global weirding”) has captured the political and bureaucratic elites. All the action plans, taxes, green levies, protocols and carbon-emitting flights to massive summit meetings, after all, are not because of what its supporters call “The Science”. Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t. No, they are the result of a belief that something big and bad is going to hit us one of these days.

James Delingpole, another Brit, reports on the latest Climate Change Reconsidered report by the NIPCC — the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change, an independent research body funded by the Heartland Institute:

The latest verdict is in on ‘climate change’— and the news is good. The planet is greening, the oceans are blooming, food production is up, animals are thriving and humans are doing better than ever; and all thanks to CO2 and global warming.

Mr. Delingpole summarizes the work of the NIPCC, and the scientific studies which support it. Nice to have a concise summary of where we stand. And the scientists and  ordinary people who disagree with the true believers are not “deniers,” they are skeptics— skeptical that humans are causing a disruption in the climate of the earth, skeptical that computer programs based on a superficial understanding of climate and a lot of sheer guesses can predict the climate 50 to 100 years out, and very skeptical that we should be spending billions to attempt to change the climate.

Do read all three pieces. They’re not long, and they give a good picture of the real world of climate change.

 



A Rescued Florida Panther Kitten by The Elephant's Child

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This Florida Panther kitten was rescued on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge after January’s record cold snap. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission discovered the kitten with a dangerously low body temperature, non-responsive and way too young to be separated from his mother. They transported the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples. Raised by people, he can’t be released to the wild. Once he’s old enough he’ll go to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Except for small numbers in Florida, the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar, is extinct or rare in the Eastern United States. Puma concolor

It is the biggest of the small cats, and more closely related to our own pet cats and cheetahs of Africa. Where I grew up, we called them cougars. I never saw one in the wild, though I heard one scream several times. That is something else; “mountain screamer” doesn’t capture the sound. Sounds like a woman screaming in the most terrible agony you can imagine. Here’s a handsome grown-up. They are solitary animals, and occupy a large territory.  (from zooborns.com) a favorite website.mountain-lion

 



Forecasting the Climate: Maybe Not So Bad After All. by The Elephant's Child

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon publish the second part of its latest report on the likely impact of climate change. It will reportedly be less frightening than last time around in 2007.

Contrary to media opinion, the real debate has never been between “deniers” and the rest, but between those who think warming is fairly harmless and those who think the future is alarming.

Matt Ridley writes in the Wall Street Journal that a small amount of warming over a long period will probably be a good thing. People can adapt. Satellites have recorded roughly a 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all ecosystems.

And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population “bomb,” pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

 



A Twenty-Five Foot Wall of Mud Left Her House “in Sticks” by The Elephant's Child

Preferably, we would be able to stay out of the national news. The vast and deadly mudslide in Snohomish County, on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River has left 18 people missing, 3 people dead and 8 others injured as the timbered side of the mountain just suddenly came down.

The situation is dangerous for more than 100 rescuers as the buried structures and debris is still moving and has the consistency of quicksand carrying the remains of houses, vehicles and timber with it to form a temporary dam in the river that could break and flood communities further down the river.

Here is an overhead look at the mudslide. Here is the Seattle Times article about the disaster. And here is a survivor’s story of the wall of mud that slammed into her home on Saturday morning.



The Latest News from the Greenies: by The Elephant's Child

From Mother Jones, Friday, March 21: “One Reason It May Be Harder to Find Flight 370: We Messed Up the Currents: How climate change factors into the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

Scientists say man-made climate change has fundamentally altered the currents of the vast, deep oceans where investigators are currently scouring for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, setting a complex stage for the ongoing search for MH370. If the Boeing 777 did plunge into the ocean somewhere in the vicinity of where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, the location where its debris finally ends up, if found at all, may be vastly different from where investigators could have anticipated 30 years ago.

From The Hollywood Reporter: 3/20/2014: “Darren Aronofsky wrestles one of scripture’s most primal stories to the ground and extracts something vital and audacious, while also pushing some aggressive environmentalism, in Noah…. Already banned in some Middle Eastern countries, Noah will rile some for the complete omission of the name “God” from the dialogue, others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time.”

From the Washington Examiner, March 21, 2014:”Burials go green; bodies interred in just a cloth bag or wicker basket”

Cemeteries are the latest business go to green.

The new trend is for families of the dead to skip the traditional embalming, elaborate casket and concrete box and simply wrap the dead in a cloth shroud and put the body into the earth.

A Washington, D.C., cemetery is being recognized for helping lead the green drive. And not just any cemetery. The Historic Congressional Cemetery reported on Friday that it has been certified as a “Hybrid Service Provider from the Green Burial Council.” They said Congressional is the only cemetery within a 100-mile radius of Washington to get the certificate.

“Green burial options are increasingly popular with pre-planning baby boomers and other socially and environmentally conscious individuals,” said cemetery president Paul K. Williams, “and with the designation, we are proud to be the only cemetery in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region to qualify to date.”



Wooden High-Rise Buildings to Fight Climate Change? by The Elephant's Child

Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced a new partnership at the White House Rural Council last week, to train architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of advanced wood building materials, and plans for a forthcoming prize competition to design and build high-rise wood demonstration projects.

In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan
goal of preserving the role of forests
in mitigating climate change.

Secretary Vilsack is a former governor of the State of Iowa, which means he must know about farming and corn and trees, right? Actually, he doesn’t seem to have ever done anything but Democratic politics, but that makes him a good candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.

Wood may be one of the world’s oldest building materials, but it is now also one of the most advanced, said Vilsack. Building stronger markets for innovative new wood products supports sustainable forestry, helps buffer reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and puts rural America at the forefront of an emerging industry. Presently, the market for wood and other related forest products supports more than one million direct jobs, many in rural America. As these markets expand, so will the economic opportunities.

The Secretary also announced plans to launch a new prize competition, expected to begin later this year, for developers, institutions, organizations and design teams competing to demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction.

The lumber mills that provided employment for most of the small towns where I grew up are long gone. The log trains as well. Seldom see a logging truck. Back in the Clinton administration, one of his bright ideas was to ban roads in the woods. Of course that meant the hotshot crews had a harder time getting to the fires. Greens have had a hard time understanding that trees are a renewable resource. The time frame is just longer. Oddly enough, plentiful carbon dioxide  in the atmosphere, a natural fertilizer, helps them to grow.

Perhaps you remember this 2008 video of a bunch of Earth First loonies in a stand of saplings wailing over one that has been cut down. I feel confident that they are all city apartment people whose connections with the out-of-doors are a little tenuous at best.

They usually don’t know much about the environment itself, only their emotional response to nature.  We shut down the forests to save the spotted owl, who nests only in old growth, except that turned out to be false. And their declining numbers were due to their barred owl cousins, not evil loggers.

We must refuse to build the Keystone XL pipeline because a pipeline might someday spring a leak, but this pushes the transportation of oil onto trucks and trains which is much more dangerous. The newest protest is against the  Cove Point facility in Maryland that is due to be the first to export liquified natural gas, which Europe needs badly for fuel to counter the risk of Putin’s blackmail with Russian natural gas. In the meantime, we are exporting wood pellets to England to fire the furnaces to keep the Brits warm. Go figure.

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan will do nothing to change the climate, but if Democrats keep talking as if it will, they will get $100 million from Tom Steyer who is a billionaire hedge fund climate activist. The promise of more subsidies for solar and wind will reward Obama’s supporters and accomplish nothing for our energy mix. Secretary Vilsack is a big ethanol supporter, which is probably what got him the appointment. If I have given the impression that nobody knows what they are doing, that’s what I had in mind. Actions have consequences. If you think things through, the consequences don’t have to be unfortunate unintended ones.



Super Sprowtz? Let’s All Indoctrinate the Kids! by The Elephant's Child

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Do you find yourself wondering these days just what you can believe? When they are not just plain lying to you for political purposes, they are exaggerating, or making false claims, or insisting that you ignore what you know to be true. I’m at the point where I don’t want to hear any of those innocuous public service announcements from some federal agency and the ad council, and I’m irritated at the ad council for participating.

Take, for example, the Childhood Obesity Epidemic, please. It seems now, there is not and never was any childhood obesity epidemic. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported on a study that indicates that obesity rates among two to five-year olds have plunged over the past decade.

The prevalence of obesity in two to five-year olds declined by an estimated 39.6 percent between 2003-04 and 2011-12 from 13.9 percent to 8.4 percent. According to the same study, it declined by 23 percent between 2003-04  and 2005-06 and then rose by 19.8 percent between 2007-08 and 2009-10. Huh?

Childhood obesity is a brand-new concept, invented a few years ago for essentially political reasons. It is arbitrary. They took the 95th percentile of the height-weight chart from the 60′s and 70′s and treated that as a definition of childhood obesity. Besides that, it was based on a deeply flawed Body-Mass Index height-weight ratio (BMI) that inflates the obesity rate. And it was self-reported!

The United States at the present time has an enormous weight loss industry. Stop and think about a day’s accumulation of messages about diet or weight control on the radio, in magazines, online (“Eat this one weird food”), weight-loss programs, diet foods, diet programs, health clubs, fashion models, latest fashions, and so on.  Fat is big business. Some of that enthusiasm was bound to overflow to the kids.

I have a small modicum of expertise in little kids and fat. Many years of Red-Cross swim lessons and you see a lot of small bodies. Some little kids are naturally and healthily — skinny. Really skinny. Other kids of the same age are naturally and healthily — stocky, not fat, but stocky.  I don’t know what they were measuring, but it wasn’t real kids.

I assume with the best of intentions, Michelle Obama set out to cope with the epidemic of childhood obesity. (Naturally with reports of the decline, Ms. Obama is being credited with the improvement) Not so.

Michelle Obama’s well-intentioned National School Lunch Program has not gone well. There has been a sharp decline in participation, a total of 1,086,000 students stopped buying school lunch. 321 districts  left the National School Lunch Program altogether, many citing the new standards as a factor.  (Translation: The kids hated the meals.) The waste problem was huge, kids threw out the healthy fruits and vegetables. Lunchroom costs went up because schools needed additional kitchen equipment to comply with the new lunch requirements.

Calorie counts were specified for each age group, but kids in athletic programs weren’t getting enough to eat. This is not a small problem. The National School Lunch Program served more than 31 million children in fiscal 2012, with $11.6 billion in federal support. In many cases schools had to raise the price of meals to cope with increased requirements, an estimated $3.2 billion overall for school districts to come up with. Participation dropped even more in 2012-2013.

Reformers believe that the kids will get used to the “healthy food” and eventually get to like it. Students discarded roughly 60 to 75 percent of the vegetables and 40 percent of the fruit. Some nutritionists say that fruit is simply sugar anyway. I don’t know. I saw a menu a while back, and I thought it was pretty gross.

Undeterred, Ms. Obama is proposing a ban on marketing junk food and sodas in schools, and an expansion of food service to free breakfast and lunch. She is also pushing new food nutrition labels for grocery store products to make them easier to read and easier for people to understand. If you are wondering who elected…, and where does the authority… nevermind. If you are pondering the similarities between this boondoggle and ObamaCare, it’s all in the family, isn’t it.

As for the nutrition labeling program (do they not have any understanding of the costs this kind of thing imposes on business or what it does to the cost of food? Of course not.) A. Barton Hinkle takes that program on in a piece entitled “Big Government Will Help You Eat Right.” Funny! Do read the whole thing, you will need the laugh.

Americans so dumb. Not know how to do basic stuff, like eat. Or read. Or math. Dumber than sack of hammers, really. Take labels on boxes and cans of food.



When a Billionaire Says Support Climate Change, Democrats Hold a “Talkfest”. by The Elephant's Child

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer

Why did the Democrats in the Senate hold an all-night pajama party talkfest? They have no intention of passing a bill or doing anything about “cap and trade.” It is all about campaign cash. Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, who made much of his money on government-subsidized “green’ energy projects, has become one of the Democrat Party’s most important donors.

He has retired from hedge funds to devote all his attention to politics, and particularly to the “urgent” case of climate change. He has pledged to contribute $50 million and raise another $50 million to help Democrats in the 2014 campaign. The catch is that they have to emphasize global warming as an issue. His new group NextGen Political Action. The group will refuse to spend money on behalf of Democrats who oppose climate regulation, but will not spend against them either. To quote Breitbart:

Once upon a time, Democrats complained about fatcats funding campaigns. Then they discovered that it was they who had the fatter cats. So that made the situation different: Fatcats—at least liberal fatcats— are okay.

The new breed of fat cat demands that candidates espouse a Green ideology that happens to be ballot-box poison. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple just announced that he didn’t want any climate change deniers investing in Apple. Way to go! For many Democrats it is a matter of faith, not of science. when it comes to political donations the Koch brothers are far down the list, something like 59th. They are more inclined to invest their money in searching for a cure for cancer. It was John Kerry, married to another Green billionaire, Theresa Heinz Kerry, who declared “Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

The environmental true believers range from passionate to Malthusian. They run around in private jets and limousines, but as a recent Sierra Club press release said “There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the US. We have to de-grow our economy.” Their goal is to de-grow the economy. Passionate true believers are seldom interested in ordinary science, or ordinary economics either.

Among other things they are totally opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. Dirty Canadian oil needs be banned and to hell with all the jobs. The voters do want jobs, they do want plentiful, cheap energy, and common sense and direct observation leads them to believe that climate change is not an urgent problem.

Leaves Congressional Democrats walking a fine line. They want and need the political donations, but want to avoid anything that might upset the voters on the one hand or the donors on the other. Hence the talkfest.

 



Have You Noticed Rising Food Prices? Here’s why: by The Elephant's Child

Food prices are up, and manufacturers are trying hard to keep you from noticing. Cereal boxes remain the same height, but they are thinner. Baker’s chocolate, formerly in 8 oz. boxes, now comes in boxes that are about ¼” smaller in every direction, contains half as much chocolate “NEW! 4 oz. Easy Break Bar, Same great chocolate. ” Still the same great price, for half as much. Sugar packages have lost a pound of content. I don’t like seeing food prices climb, but I object even more to manufacturers’ attempts to fool me.

If we insist, as a nation, on putting most of our corn crop into our gas tanks — the result is food price inflation. Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation. Core inflation is running around 2%, but the USDA said food prices would be up 3% to 4% last year. Corn ethanol does nothing for the climate, and it contains less energy than gasoline.  You’re just paying farmers to grow fuel instead of food. A rise in the price of corn affects the price of other farm commodities such as meat, poultry, dairy and soy products. Congress ended the direct ethanol subsidies in 2011, but the renewables standard remains, and it is the biggest factor. Food prices hit the poor the hardest, and the ethanol mandate is essentially a tax on the poor.

“Organic” foods have been heavily promoted. They cost about 30% more than non-organic foods, but the label “organic” means only that growers used “natural” fertilizers and “natural” pesticides, but pesticide residue does not cross the conservative safety thresholds set by regulators. Natural fertilizer refers to animal manure —pathogen-laden animal excreta. “Organic” is supposed to be better for the natural environment, but it isn’t so, it just uses more land. The term “organic” refers to the practices and procedures a farmer intends to use. It does not indicate superior nutrition, flavor, or healthful qualities. It’s not better for  you, just more expensive.

And for sheer silliness, consider the locavores. Now that with modern transportation we can have summer foods in the winter, plentiful vegetables when it’s snowing out, and strawberries all year around, the purists insist on locally grown food, with the suggestion that it is much fresher. But there’s not much local in the winter, and it may be flown in faster anyway.

Environmentalists are the loons who care more about the environment than about people. Fringe anti-biotechnology activists are hell-bent on banning anything containing a chemical.  Chemicals are bad. A current interest is genetically modified food. Modify people’s genes as much as you want, select the desired sex and attributes of your potential baby, but don’t modify plants to be more resistant to disease, or insert a gene for Vitamin A to prevent blindness, as in “golden rice,”— an incalculable benefit to parts of the world dependent on rice, yet lacking the essential vitamin in their food supply. Better to have blind kids than mess with their food. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) are not GMO skeptics, as they like to portray themselves,  but fringe anti-chemical activists operating on the “precautionary principle” or the theory that if something is ‘suspected’ of potentially causing harm, you have to prove that it will not.

We are growing more food on less land, the green revolution, that will help to feed a hungry world. Food for the Poor is asking for help to feed starving Guatemalan children. Egypt is having trouble feeding their own people. We have over 17 years of successful GMO cultivation, millions of acres, hundreds of millions of servings and not one instance of adverse health or environmental effects. It is a remarkable achievement, and there are far more achievements in the pipeline.

Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that’s because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. have spearheaded a “labeling” movement that would distinguish modified food from other food on grocery store shelves. Never mind that 60%-70% of processed food on the market contains genetically modified ingredients. In much of Europe, farmers are barred from growing genetically modified crops. Even in Africa, anti-biotechnology sentiment has blocked its application. In Zambia, for example, the government refused donations of GM corn in 2002, even as its people starved.

Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don’t, as one discredited study claimed recently, cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn’t responsible for suicides among Indian farmers—a 2008 study by an alliance of 64 governments and nongovernmental organizations debunked that myth completely. And GM crops don’t harm bees or monarch butterflies.

Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops. A good first step is for educated, scientifically literate people to avoid being taken in by the myths about genetically modified food. These innovations have too much potential to empower individuals and feed the world to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.




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