American Elephants

This Is Why I Rant! (In Case You Were Wondering). by The Elephant's Child

I write a lot about Obama’s clean green energy policies, the EPA, wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, high-speed rail, and twisty lightbulbs, dishwashers that don’t get dishes clean,  washing machines that don’t get clothes clean, restrictive shower heads and other federal restrictions on free Americans.  You can search the Constitution, which spells out those tasks that we assign to the government, and find not one single word delegating the job of regulating these things to the federal government. And the powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people.

It is not, however on a Constitutional basis that I object to administration policies, though that is certainly a reason to complain. I rant because these policies are political in nature, accomplish nothing worthwhile, and are extremely burdensome to the economy and to  the American people.

Back in the 1970s the fear was global cooling, a new ice age, nuclear winter, and overpopulation.  Everything was going to hell, a frigid hell. We weren’t going to have enough food to feed the burgeoning population of the world.  Even China’s one-child population-control policy got its start in 1979.  But the new ice age didn’t come, nuclear winter didn’t come,  and quietly going on in Mexico and America was a green revolution in agriculture, increasing yields of the basic food grains — wheat, rice, barley and corn. Worldwide, people have fewer babies.

Well, Rachel Carson —Silent Spring— pesticides, DDT, the EPA, Smog, the Great Cranberry Scandal, Thalidomide, Alar, environmental activists, an environmental “movement”, Greenpeace, the WWF, Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy and hundreds and hundreds of others. The environmental movement is huge, and ranges from groups that envision a pleasant return to the Pleistocene to vegans and animal rights organizations, as well as eco-terrorist groups like ELF, ALF, Earth First!, Direct Action, and Sea Shepherds, not to mention the late Unibomber.

As with most movements that begin with people concerned about something-or-other, they have a way of growing into passion, radicalism and power-seeking.  In general, the environmental movement doesn’t like modern society, doesn’t like capitalism, thinks there is some special distinction between that which is natural and that which is unnatural? artificial? not natural, and is subject to fuzzy thinking. They are supported by the true-believers, the naive, and major foundations.  Which brings us to global warming.

Once the fear of global cooling died out, there was more interest in climate. I’m not going into the history of the climate scare, but it was noticed that the earth seemed to be warming slightly at the same time that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was increasing. Some scientists pointed out that the increase in global temperature (very slight) preceded the increase in CO2 and CO2 could not be causative, but other scientists pointed out that their computer programs, into which they had entered everything known about climate, clearly stated that everything was going to hell, and the earth was overheating and we were all going to die. Well, who are you going to believe — the folks with the most modern technology or those who claimed that there was no reason to be concerned?

Ozone hole, acid rain, Cuyahoga river on fire, harp seals, animal extinction, snail darters, the hockey stick, glaciers melting, seas rising, Al Gore, Arctic melting, polar bears, Kyoto Protocol, the IPCC, The Inconvenient Truth, and greenhouse gases, in no particular order.

Is it any wonder that the public has been somewhat confused?  Governments suddenly wanted to make all sorts of changes — enormously expensive changes in our lives — and nobody was answering the real questions — like what is the right temperature? Is the climate we have right now the right one, or is the Medieval Warm Period which they say was the finest climate known to man (and way warmer than now) the right one?

The scientists that get sneered at as “deniers” and “skeptics” based their claims on evidence in the real world.  The global warming alarmists are basing their claims on — computer programs that can’t seem to “predict” today’s climate.  The reporters in the media who have done so much to bring us the alarming news about the perils of global warming formed their own “Society of Environmental Journalists” where they learn how to write about the environment, not from scientists, but from each other.

I grew up in the foothills of the Rockies, surrounded by National Forest and BLM land at an altitude of a little over 4000′. Weather was a matter of daily concern, floods , lightning strikes, snowslides,  in ways that are simply not encountered by city people. My dad often had to get up in the middle of the night to plow when it looked like the snow was going to be too deep to plow in the morning.  We lost four buildings to flood one year. Ian Plimer, the celebrated Australian geologist, said that rural people were not apt to be alarmed by global warming, in his experience. And I’m not.

And apparently Barack Obama believes in global warming (or does he?) and wants to be the president who brings America into the 21st century with an economy humming along on clean energy.  After all, wind and solar are free, and natural, and fossil fuels are dirty and unnatural (?),and must be stamped out.

Instead of trying to put people back to work,  Obama  has worked hard to cut back in every way our “dependence” on fossil fuels.  We will learn to like electric cars, and ride high speed rail. We will accept more government regulation of our use of energy and water, and more control of the way we live.  We can assume that Obama really believes that the planet is warming alarmingly and he is going to be the one who saves the world.  Or, perhaps he really believes that the country will hum along on free, clean energy, and America will be the shining example for the world, and he, our very 21st century leader will be celebrated as “the One”. Or maybe it’s just a power-grab.

It just makes no sense to me. We have all sorts of evidence from other countries and from our own that wind energy does not live up to the claims of promoters.  Solar energy is an expensive way to heat water.  The problems are not in 21st century technology, but in the nature of wind and sun. The clean energy society may sound splendid in late-night bull-sessions, but it doesn’t pass muster in the real world.

Real world problems of deficits, budgets, debt-ceilings and spending need real attention.  The economy is being destroyed while this president plays golf and chases airy-fairy dreams. That is why I rant.

Obama’s National Bankruptcy Strategy. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy of 2010 is a much longer document than George Bush’ 2006 edition, and that was longer than his 2002 edition. There are parts of it that are quite revealing about focus and priorities.  The document says that:

Climate Change: The danger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe. The United States will therefore confront climate change based upon clear guidance from the science, and in cooperation with all nations—for there is no effective solution to climate change that does not depend upon all nations taking responsibility for their own actions and for the planet we will leave behind.

Home: Our effort begins with the steps that we are taking at home. We will stimulate our energy economy at home, reinvigorate the U.S. domestic nuclear industry, increase our efficiency standards, invest in renewable energy, and provide the incentives that make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. This will allow us to make deep cuts in emissions—in the range of 17 percent by 2020 and more than 80 percent by 2050. This will depend in part upon comprehensive legislation and its effective implementation. (…)

Transform our Energy Economy: As long as we are dependent on fossil fuels, we need to ensure the security and free flow of global energy resources. But without significant and timely adjustments, our energy dependence will continue to undermine our security and prosperity. This will leave us vulnerable to energy supply disruptions and manipulation and to changes in the environment on an unprecedented scale.

The United States has a window of opportunity to lead in the development of clean energy technology. If successful, the United States will lead in this new Industrial Revolution in clean energy that will be a major contributor to our economic prosperity. If we do not develop the policies that encourage the private sector to seize the opportunity, the United States will fall behind and increasingly become an importer of these new energy technologies.

We have already made the largest investment in clean energy in history, but there is much more to do to build on this foundation. We must continue to transform our energy economy, leveraging private capital to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies that will cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, increase use of renewable and nuclear power, reduce the dependence of vehicles on oil, and diversify energy sources and suppliers. We will invest in research and next-generation technology, modernize the way we distribute electricity, and encourage the usage of transitional fuels, while moving towards clean energy produced at home.

This is the clearest and most complete statement that we have had from the Obama administration of their views on climate change, and it is frightening.  In their world, ClimateGate never happened, contrary science does not intrude, the IPCC is not discredited, and evidence that global warming is a natural phenomenon is false.  Robert Bryce, editor of the Energy Tribune and author of Gusher of Lies and Power Hungry says:

Energy independence is hogwash.  From nearly any standpoint— economic, military, political, or environmental — energy independence makes no sense.  Worse yet, the inane obsession with the idea of energy independence is preventing the US from having an honest and effective discussion about the energy challenges it now faces.

Mr. Bryce adds that:

[N]one of the alternative or renewable energy sources now being hyped — corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind power, solar power, coal-to-liquids, and so on — will free America from imported fuels.  America’s appetite is simply too large and the global market is too sophisticated and too integrated for the U.S. to secede.

All of Obama’s policies are intended to force us to forego fossil fuels, and into forms of energy that simply will not work.  Wind power must be backed up 24/7 with energy produced by fossil fuels because wind turbines produce energy only when the wind is blowing at the right speed, which happens less than 1/3 of the time.  Solar energy is produced only when the sun shines , not at night, and not on cloudy days.

It may be worth some investment to search for alternates, but for the foreseeable future we are dependent on fossil fuels.  Obama is so anxious to be the president who brings about the “clean energy economy” that in a recession, with deep unemployment, he is attempting to force it on an unwilling population in order to bring about his vision.  But there will be no green energy jobs unless the government pays for them, and they will kill  (according to Spain’s experience) 2.2 jobs in the regular economy for every green job, because of the higher cost of energy.  It bankrupted Spain.

Repeating Common Fallacies Does Not Make Them True! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office on the BP Deepwater oil spill has been received with a unanimous boo from the American people and the pundits.  Even the Democrats hated it.   There remains plenty to object to in the speech, but I particularly want to point out some  of Obama’s oft repeated fallacies:

We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves.  That’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean — because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

False! The U.S. counts our oil reserves as those that are fully available for drilling.  This means that all those reserves in ANWR, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, California, off the East Coast, off the West Coast, everything where Democrats have blocked access are not counted in our reserves, though they are there.  If you count our real reserves, we have enough fossil fuels to last us for at least 300 years.  That’s three centuries!  And that ‘s just the oil that we know is there.  The “peak oil” folks have been out there for years, but they have always been wrong.

The reason we are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean is only because Democrat administrations have banned drilling in the easier places, where spills would not be a real challenge.  This is done to please environmental organizations who donate heavily to Democrat campaigns, and lobby a lot, and to enhance the coffers of favored green energy companies and rent-seeking corporations.

For decades we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered.  For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels.  And for decades we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.  Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

False! The days of cheap and easily accessible oil are numbered only by misguided actions of government. America does not have an “addiction” to fossil fuels.  Fossil fuels provide the energy that powers our society.  There is, at present and for the foreseeable future, no alternative.  We will be dependent on fossil fuels for at least the next 50 years.  Beyond that is just too remote to predict.

Lots of people are working on technologies they deem to have potential, but the potential only lasts as long as the subsidies.  There’s a lot of — “as soon as we have this big breakthrough.” They have been searching for a big breakthrough in batteries since the first electric car.  See the little pinky-peach wedge?  That and the dark blue wedge represent the portion of our electricity that is produced by wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels.  That’s Obama’s “clean energy economy.”

On the transportation side, the picture is much the same.  We now have 10% ethanol in our gasoline.  The environmental people and the ethanol scammers want to raise it to 15% but only 3% of our cars have flex-fuel engines that could accept that much ethanol.  Nobody is very sure that the 10% requirement is not damaging our cars.  It is also damaging all the gas-run things like lawn mowers, camp stoves, power tools, boat engines etc. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline.  Takes more gallons than gasoline does to go the same distance.  To recharge an electric car battery takes something like 7 hours.  There are no charging stations.  The Chevy Volt goes 40 miles (supposedly) on a charge, costs around $40,000 without government subsidy.  This is also Obama’s “clean energy economy.”

Everywhere in the world, when the subsidies are ended, the wind, solar, ethanol, electric cars, all those ever-so promising technologies just stop.  Yes, there’s algae and solar-thermal and lots of really interesting experiments.  But they are not ready for prime time, and trying to make it so by shutting down producer wells and banning drilling, and putting more and more areas off-limits is not going to change that basic fact.  Nor is throwing buckets of money at people who promise miracles going to change that basic fact.

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