American Elephants


We cannot stop climate change. We are not the cause. by The Elephant's Child

From the Washington Post today, from a Professor Joseph Stiglitz:

Obama is also inheriting a climate crisis.  The United States and China have been racing to see which nation will contribute most to the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.  It looks as though China will win in absolute terms, but on a per capita basis, America takes the smoggy cake.  We cannot save the planet without a global agreement, and we cannot get such an agreement without massive reductions in U.S. emissions.  This transition could have upsides beyond the environmental ones.  A carbon tax — or the auctioning of emissions permits — could generate huge revenues; some of those could be used to help Americans adjust to the new “green economy,” while the rest could be used to reduce the deficit or lower taxes on workers.  But we really have little choice here: Europe and other global players are likely to slap a carbon tax on U.S. goods if we don’t deal with the issue at home.  Their firms will not tolerate giving U.S. firms a competitive advantage simply because we refuse to bear our responsibility for the global environment.

This is so wrong headed on so many fronts that it is breathtaking.  Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.  It is a colorless, odorless benign gas that we exhale. It is not a cause of global warming, and is only a trace gas in the atmosphere.  If you burned all of the carbon on earth all at once, it would still be only a trace gas. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor. Carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer that makes plants grow. This is a good thing.

The planet is in peril only in Al Gore’s mind and in the computer models of the UN’s IPCC. Not in the observational evidence.  Only in computer models.  High priced computers to be sure, but the same GIGO still applies.

A carbon tax will do nothing whatsoever for the planet, but it will make the planet’s people a lot poorer. Professor Stiglitz is apparently so consumed with his desire to ‘save the planet’ that he has not seriously looked at the downside to carbon taxes. There is simply no reason to tax carbon.

The earth has been warming and cooling for centuries. It is a natural process. We cannot stop climate change because neither we nor our CO2 are the cause.  Even if every country in the world implemented the complete Kyoto Protocol, the difference in atmospheric CO2 would be undetectable.

The European Union is facing it’s own revolt.  In the face of the credit crisis, many nations are looking seriously for the first time at the real cost of the unnecessary containment of carbon, and having some serious second thoughts.

It has been a bad year for the alarmists. Cold periods and snowfalls are occurring around the world. The British House of Commons debated a climate-change bill that pledged that the United Kingdom would reduce its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 , just as London was hit by the first October snow since 1922.

Would someone please note that happenings and observations in the real world trump computer projections every time!



Sorting out the early signs from the Office of the President-elect. by The Elephant's Child

The signs are not encouraging.  President-elect Barack Obama has named Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to his 17-member economic advisory panel.  Granholm’s vision has led to heavily subsidized ethanol plants and renewable-power mandates for utilities, which pleased the Obama team.

Unfortunately, the ethanol boom is fading as ethanol companies go bankrupt.

Granholm has also presided over the worst state economy in the country since her election in 2003.  With a huge budget deficit, and unemployment rates reaching 8.7% she has raised personal income taxes by 17 percent. Her energy plans have raised the utility bills for Michigan’s citizens by an estimated 12%.

To combat the increased unemployment and high union costs, she has offered her “investments” in alternative energy and increased road construction to grow jobs. But then her failing auto industry is asking for a government bailout. Which makes her a questionable economic adviser at best.

Leftists put a lot of “hope” in the promise of “green jobs”. This promise remains fairly gauzy and often includes, according to Chris Horner of CEI, gimmicks like shifting “steel jobs” into the “green jobs” column because windmills have steel arms.  The Washington Policy Center’s Todd Myers says” Nuclear, hydro, and other “non-green” energy sources produce more power per worker than renewable alternatives.  Moving from efficient to inefficient energy means more people are needed to do the same amount of work.”

Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out some of the changes in the climate for climate change policy:

The European Union’s (EU) Emission Trading System (ETS), once the model for a U.S. program, continues to fail.  Europe’s program is not reducing CO2 and has led to higher energy costs.  The U.S. has reduced more CO2 by market efficiencies and without any complicated cap-and-trade programs.  Growing numbers of EU member countries, including Italy, now want to delay (read: scratch) the ETS because of economic woes approaching crisis proportions.

Obama’s plan was to stick the oil companies with a “windfall profits tax” to get the money for a big stimulus package, but the declining price of oil is taking the profits out of the windfall.  And a windfall profits tax would drive up the price of oil again, harming consumers. But then, stimulus packages don’t work either.

Obama’s campaign proposals have been heavy on giving government (taxpayer) money to those he found more deserving, but these actions have consequences. Raising taxes as the economy is declining is a very bad idea, as any student of the Great Depression would tell you. Something Obama has yet to learn.

The Environmental organizations that have been vigorous supporters of Obama are, above all, true believers in clean energy, strong global warming legislation, and locking up America’s natural resources so they cannot be defiled.  Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said:

President-elect Obama and the incoming Congress offer new hope that Americans will come together to repower America with clean energy that revitalizes our economy and defends a planet in peril from the climate crisis…to pass strong global warming legislation that invests boldly in clean energy, caps and cuts the pollution that causes global warming, and restores America’s natural resources.

Other environmental CEOs rhapsodized about the environmental mandate that voters demanded.  Unfortunately, four of five environmental initiatives lost heavily at the ballot box.  Voters are more skeptical about excessive regulation and exorbitant costs with no clear benefits.  And even more, a study by the American Climate Values Survey found that only 18% of respondents strongly believe that global warming is real, caused by humans and is harmful.

As I said, the signs are not encouraging.  If you add in the observed fact that the sun has gone quiet, and the earth has not been warming for the last ten years, but cooling. And it is expected to continue cooling for the next two decades at least, you can see that there are some things that badly need to be sorted out.

You might want to keep an eye on an over-enthusiastic Congress.



The “Greens” are nuts, and are driving the rest of us crazy! by The Elephant's Child

What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous, planet -destroying toxin.  It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world — that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.

Richard S. Lindzen, MIT

Barack Obama’s energy adviser has made it clear that the would-be President intends to blackmail Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda.  The “complaint” has been that the White House has blocked EPA bureaucrats from making an “endangerment finding” on carbon.  A President Obama would use such a finding as a political club to force Congress to either impose the new taxes on carbon that he wants, or the carbon police will be turned loose to regulate your lawnmower, chainsaw, boat motor and any other engines you might have, with enormous costs to the economy.

Obama wants to give away a lot of money, and he has to find it somewhere.  A minor detail is that carbon is NOT a pollutant, but helps plants to grow, is what you breathe out, and is nature’s fertilizer so there is no reason whatsoever to regulate it.  None. But think of the possibilities when you have something that is absolutely free, and you can impose a brand new tax.

In a recent campaign move intended to claim Iowa once and for all, Obama announced his plan to increase by two-thirds the federal mandate for ethanol and other renewable fuels.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the price of basic foods in the United States is currently raising at twice the rate of inflation and is expected to continue to escalate in the future.  The Pennsylvania State Senate has called on Congress to phase out the use of food crops for biofuel production and amend existing food to fuel mandates.  The cost of food at home was up 7.6 percent this last year.  The decade average has been 2.3 percent. Cereals and bakery products are up by over 12 percent.

You’d think that someone whose campaign has been based on claims that he would relieve the misery Americans are in would want to avoid raising their food costs.  Not to mention the food riots and hunger in developing countries.

But not to worry, there will be a “Green Jobs Fund” to pay for things like the “Energy Efficiency Engineers Apprenticeship”, a two-year program to “hire young people who don’t have a trade and give them a trade making homes more energy efficient, insulating homes, changing light bulbs, and reducing our dependence on dirty  power plants” according to a speech Obama gave earlier this year.

Of course this might affect the existing home insulation businesses, the energy-efficient windows businesses but they have a lot more experience than the kids.  I don’t know how much people would pay to have someone come in to change their light bulbs. Do you suppose he has thought through the economics of this proposal?

If you are worried about an economy slipping into recession, you might consider that the worst thing you can do is raise taxes and cut off free trade.  But everyone knows enough history to know that, don’t they?




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