American Elephants

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.

Independent, Free, and Self-Directed, Or the Democrat’s Gulag? by The Elephant's Child

At Real Clear Politics (the Real Clear Policy sector) Sherzod Abdukadirov writes about “How Uncle Sam Uses Behavioral Science,” in Mr. Obama’s “executive order urging federal agencies to use behavioral science insights in designing government policies and regulations. The order argues that such insights have the potential to improve consumer welfare through better policy design.”

I wrote about this week or so ago, but I find I’m not ready to leave the subject. It’s straight out of the Marxist playbook, and you can talk about ‘nudges’ or ‘behavioral experiments’, but it’s just plain propaganda designed to make you do what the government wants you to do. No “consumer welfare” about it. If at first they don’t succeed, they will try a little harder.

The example used in Sherzod’s piece is from the Energy Department, with their “Energy Star” appliances. They boast about consumer savings which are supposed to justify the higher price of the appliances.

Unfortunately, the evidence marshaled by the agency for consumer myopia is highly dubious. For example, the latest standard for residential dishwashers promises consumers a savings of $3 over 15 years — it takes twelve years just to cover the higher up-front price — while the standard for clothes dryers delivers $14 in savings over 16 years, with the higher price covered after five years.

That DOE would declare consumers irrational for not chasing trivial, long-term savings defies common sense. And when one considers the fact that another objective for energy-efficiency regulations is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it becomes clear that the agency’s motivation may have less to do with improving consumer welfare and more to do with hitting its environmental goals. The use of behavioral insights in policy opens the door for agencies to impose more stringent regulations that aim to advance the administration’s agenda rather than consumer welfare.

This is why everything that the EPA does to take further control of your life and options is cloaked in preventing childhood asthma. Or the noxious twisty lightbulbs or their expensive counterparts. Consider a federal department and you can probably come up with something intended to shut down your options and force you to do something you don’t want to do. Consider ObamaCare.

The Left wants control. They don’t want you to have the option of free speech if it disagrees with them. Obama just said that you couldn’t have freedom of religion if it opposes gay marriage. The federal government will put restrictors in your shower head so you don’t use too much water. Just think of what the feds have done to make driving a car more expensive.

Conservatives talk about freedom, but perhaps that is too broad a term. What we are really talking about is autonomy: the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing.  It’s the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision. Take away our autonomy and welcome to the Gulag.

The Department of Energy believes that paying more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a public good. We would suggest that the Department of Energy has not studied the science of carbon dioxide. The Department of Agriculture has ordered that we enrich factory farms by putting the corn crop in our gas tanks. Mrs. Obama has ordered that small school children eat what she tells them to, but because even little children prize their autonomy, they throw the food in the garbage.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama became lawyers. How can you study law in the United States of America and fail to understand the importance of freedom and autonomy? Did they never read the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and not understand what it was about? Obama announced early on that the law was about empathy. And he has repeated that many times, emphasizing how important empathy is to him. Take another look at Dierdre McCloskey’s graph, and what personal autonomy has meant to America.

The Illusions of Green Energy by The Elephant's Child best places for wind turbines have already been used. To supply the United States with energy from wind power would take a wind farm the size of Texas with densely sited turbines, but there’s not windy places for the turbines everywhere. A turbine requires wind blowing at a certain speed to produce power. If it blows too hard, the turbines have to shut down for they could be damaged. If it blows too gently, they do not produce energy at all , the backup power station which has been running all the time has to take over the production of energy.

I frequently say that the great fault of wind power is that wind is too intermittent. It just doesn’t blow at a steady strength at all, but you have been out in the wind, and you know that.
part-1-fig-11-1024x6611 Here is a graph of electricity production as a percent of wind capacity. I think this one is from Bonneville Power, but I just saved the graph, not the source. Assume that the correct speed for producing electricity from these turbines is at the 50% mark. The power plant operating on natural gas is chugging away, and whenever the wind drops below 50% the gas takes over. So to however much the energy produced by the turbines costs, you have to add in the cost of the natural gas fired power plant.

The Obama administration is eager to shut down any coal-fired power plants to eliminate the CO2 that might go into the atmosphere to fertilize the plants of the earth and enhance our food supply, might add to the tiny bit of CO2 in the atmosphere and cause the earth to warm uncontrollably, although the amount is almost too small to be measured, and there has been no warming at all for eighteen years and eight months. Here’s a bit of reality.


Up until very recently our coal-fired power plants were producing over 40 percent of our electricity. Obama, persuaded that an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere would cause the oceans to rise and the earth to boil,  set about shutting down coal-fired power plants, which will accomplish nothing at all except to put more hundreds of workers out of a job. Oddly enough, as the big coal companies neared bankruptcy, thanks to Mr. Obama, George Soros popped up to buy a controlling interest in the big coal companies. You can figure out what that means on your own.

All Because of Democrat Talking Points! by The Elephant's Child

California Governor Jerry Brown, sometimes referred to as “Governor Moonbeam,”is at it again. He wants to control greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the climate change agenda of the country’s most prominent Democrats. They have pledged to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. They’ve given this the clever slogan “80 by 50.”

Earlier this month, by just two votes the Assembly rejected SB32 which would have required the state to reach 80 by 50. Pushing the bill was the state’s Democratic leadership, the governor and  U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. President Obama has repeatedly endorsed the plan as have all of the candidates for the Presidency except Jim Webb.

What, asks Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, would this mean to real people, or the citizens of California? Residents of California would be asked to night1emit less carbon dioxide than do the current residents of North Korea. Surely you have seen the satellite pictures of North Korea at night. That one bright spot is undoubtedly Kim Jong Un’s palace.

Wind and s0lar energy cannot accomplish the desired reduction — they require vast acreages of land and 24/7 backup from a conventional power source.  Nuclear energy would do the trick, but Democrats and environmentalists are totally opposed to nuclear energy, and building nuclear energy plants is not cheap. Germany estimates that for them to reach the 80 by 50 target would cost another $1.3 trillion. For us it would be over $5 trillion.

That brings us to an interesting article from Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post. He asks if Democrats and Republicans are talking about the same country? Of course we are not. Democrats follow Democrat talking points. They all march to the same tune. They are interested in income inequality, although their policies do nothing to reduce it. They simply accept climate change as a crisis, not because they have ever looked into the science, but because they just accept Democrat talking points as gospel. They care desperately about workplace equality for women, although equal pay for equal jobs has been the law since 1963. Other than a campaign issue, they don’t pay any attention to the law anyway. Women in the White House are paid less for the same job, as are, I have read, women in Hillary’s campaign.

On climate change, I refer you to my previous post, about 20 scientists  asking that climate deniers be prosecuted for their beliefs. It turns out that the organization responsible for the letter to the President asking for skeptics to be prosecuted is almost entirely funded by U.S. taxpayers. Scientists with the Institute of Global Environment and Society gets millions from taxpayers, and the lead scientist gets a six-figure salary for part-time work.

On top of that, we have the Associated Press changing the language. The AP announced today that it will no longer use the terms “climate change deniers” or “climate change skeptics” to refer to “those who don’t believe the world is warming or don’t accept climate science.”

The wire service sets the style standard for many news organizations. They announced they will refer to “individuals who reject climate change” as “climate change doubters” or “those who reject mainstream climate science.”  Oh please! Could I possibly ask for a better demonstration of why I seldom pay attention to news from the Associated Press? The American people’s trust in Mass Media has returned to an all-time low at 40% who believe the news is reported fairly and accurately.

The scientists who do not accept the work of the IPCC, don’t accept it because it is not correct, and designed for a political point, not a scientific point. The earth is always warming and cooling as it has done for millions of years. We have had periods much warmer than today as the Medieval Warm Period when grapes grew in England, and the Vikings farmed in Iceland. It’s known as the finest climate ever, and led to the Renaissance. We have also had Ice Ages, and more recently the Little Ice Age in the 1800s.

Another day, another battle over whether of not climate change is a catastrophe. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has filed Articles of Impeachment against EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, with 20 other members of Congress because she committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings, and as a result is guilty of  high crimes and misdemeanors.

Do You Dare To Disagree? You Must Go To Jail! by The Elephant's Child

slide_272890_1944640_freeThey are panicking! Some climate people have bet the farm on a dangerously warming earth, and the need to instantly switch to clean natural energy so we aren’t polluting the world by burning nasty coal and using nasty gasoline and creating the CO2 in the atmosphere that is causing all the trouble. It’s our fault. But we are promised a colder winter, the claims of a lack of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are disproved by satellite photography. There’s millions and millions of subsidies and grants building wind farms and solar arrays, and they are still not producing much energy at all.

The science of global warming is so settled that 20 climate scientists have written to President Obama to ask him to prosecute the people who “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.” They want him to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — a law enacted to take down organized crime syndicates. The 20 scientists repeated the claims made by radical green groups that those who have had the colossal nerve to disagree with them — have engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse the public on global warming.

It is CO2, carbon dioxide produced by humans in their capitalist greed for money. Obama should be sympathetic, he claimed his election was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to halt and the earth began to heal. Activists have successfully pressured governments to declare CO2 a pollutant and to take drastic action to reduce the amount entering the atmosphere. And down with Capitalism too!

The folks at Heartland Institute have come up with an excellent mental exercise to explain about carbon dioxide. Picture a large football stadium that will hold about 10,000 people in the stands. Assume that each person in the stadium represents a small volume of one type of gas.

•Nitrogen (N2)  ………….. 78% of the Atmosphere……………….  7,800 people

•Oxygen (O2)    ………….. 21% of the Atmosphere………………… 2,100 people

•Argon (A))…………………….1% of the Atmosphere…………………   100 people

•Carbon Dioxide (CO2)0.038% of the Atmosphere………………….. 4 people

Carbon dioxide makes up only 4 parts in 10,0000. Historically low.
Approximately 2 % of the atmosphere is water vapor or clouds.

Moreover, those who name CO2 as a pollutant are not concerned with the 4 parts, but only with 1 part–the portion added during the past 150 years by the burning of fossil fuels. This 1/10,000 increase is the target of the Kyoto Protocol.

Remember high school biology and photosynthesis? After Nitrogen, Oxygen is the most common gas. The leaves of trees and other plants take in CO2 from the atmosphere, retaining the carbon for plant food, while releasing the O2 back into the atmosphere.

The present level of CO2 in the atmosphere is extremely low by historical standards. If atmospheric CO2 is significantly reduced, it is more likely that slower plant growth could affect world food supplies while having little effect on global warming. The life of all plants and animals on Earth is dependent on CO2 for food and oxygen.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is the staff of life for our planet.

What if they find out? The EPA gets in big trouble, grants for climate studies vanish, wind farms go quiet and the turbines sit there rusting. The birds can fly free and not face being chopped up, and I don’t know what they do with the solar arrays. A lot of crony capitalists lose their subsidies and their shirts. And global warming skeptics don’t go to jail after all.

Australia Changes Prime Ministers by The Elephant's Child

150914-turnbullAustralia’s Liberal party has given the Prime Minister’s job to Malcolm Turnbull today, a mere two years after Prime Minister Tony Abbott won a strong election mandate. Their Liberal Party is the conservative one in Australia, opposed by the Labor  Party.

Mr. Turnbull, who won the vote among Liberal MPs 54-44, was also exacting some political revenge. The 60-year-old former barrister and venture capitalist had been the Liberal leader in opposition until late 2009, when Mr. Abbott challenged him and won by one vote. Mr. Turnbull had made the mistake of endorsing the expensive and unpopular carbon tax pushed by the Labor Party government.

Mr. Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax helped bring the center-right Liberals back to power, and Mr. Turnbull now says he’ll keep the Abbott government’s climate policy. But his earlier support for faddish climate-change regulation illustrates the doubts about his convictions among the Liberal rank and file. He is more socially liberal than Mr. Abbott, which will help among young people on same-sex marriage, but he is also seen as someone without firm convictions.

Mr. Turnbull is closer to the business community than is Mr. Abbott, and he’ll need its help because his main challenge is reviving economic growth. Australia hasn’t had a recession in 24 years as it rode the global commodity boom, but growth slowed to 0.2% in the second quarter thanks to falling Chinese demand and the world-wide commodity bust.

When the world is in turmoil, the people get restless. Australia has been very dependent on commodities and more competitive in a range of global goods and services. Mr. Abbott made policy on the fly, and made decisions to cut spending on areas that he had promised to protect and to raise taxes without preparing the public.

Mr. Turnbull will have to make the case that Australia needs to become less dependent on commodities and more competitive across a whole range of global goods and services. He is a little more left than his predecessor. He says he will keep the Abbott government’s climate policy, though he’s earlier supported climate change regulation. The Aussie’s distaste for a carbon tax is what won the election for Mr. Abbott.

Australia’s ruling party has given the job of Prime Minister to Malcolm Turnbull turning out Tony Abbott a mere two years after Mr. Abbott won the job with a strong election mandate.

Mr. Turnbull, who won the vote among Liberal MPs 54-44, was also exacting some political revenge. The 60-year-old former barrister and venture capitalist had been the Liberal leader in opposition until late 2009, when Mr. Abbott challenged him and won by one vote. Mr. Turnbull had made the mistake of endorsing the expensive and unpopular carbon tax pushed by the Labor Party government.

Mr. Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax helped bring the center-right Liberals back to power, and Mr. Turnbull now says he’ll keep the Abbott government’s climate policy. But his earlier support for faddish climate-change regulation illustrates the doubts about his convictions among the Liberal rank and file. He is more socially liberal than Mr. Abbott, which will help among young people on same-sex marriage, but he is also seen as someone without firm convictions.


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