American Elephants


Science and Health and Science Scaredy-Cats by The Elephant's Child

Oh dear, O dear! I believe this was the evening when we were, all across the world, at precisely Eight o’clock — supposed to turn off all our lights and sit in the dark for an hour to save the earth, or show our empathy for those who are deeply concerned about the climate and the earth and the future. I usually see enough reminders to remember to turn on all my lights to demonstrate my skepticism.

I grew up in Idaho, in what you might call the foothills of the Rockies,  mostly outside, winter or summer. Winter was for sledding, and we had a splendid sledding hill, or building snow forts, but let me not drift off into reminiscing. Some winters we had little snow, not much more than 3 feet on the level. Other years, 5 or 6 feet. Some years we could skate on the river, others not. Been snowed in. When it gets down to 20° below, all the hairs in your nose freeze. The climate has warmed over the last century, somewhere around one degree. The Paris Climate Agreement would not have prevented any measurable amount of warming.

The Paul Erlich’s of the world have always believed in overpopulation and consequent hunger and starvation. Yet what has happened is that the very small amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere has meant the greening of the planet, less famine and more food.

Most packaged goods in the grocery store will carry the admonition somewhere on the label that there are no GMO ingredients  (genetically modified organisms) in their offering, yet I just saw the notice today that another country (in this case Canada) has approved “golden rice”, a strain of rice to which a carotene-producing gene is added.

In many areas of Asia, vitamin A  is devastatingly rare in the diet of many children, causing blindness and altered immunity. Since rice is the dietary staple, adding it to rice can save children from the deficiency.  Nearly 500 million children are said to be deficient. Yet the usual suspects (the anti-GM foods nuts at Greenpeace) have fits claiming all sorts of disasters from the golden rice. The link is to a story from ASCH which also explains the Gates Foundation’s work in fortifying bananas with beta-carotene for the highlands of East Africa where the dietary staple is bananas. There is another banana in Papua New Guinea that contains so much beta carotene that they are orange, and they can simply transplant the gene that produces it into Africa’s cooking banana.

I wandered a bit all over the planet with this post, which started with telling you that I forgot to turn on all the lights to celebrate President Trump’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, the loonies who flunked high school biology and chemistry and are terrified of science, and the advances of science in preventing blindness and death in the children of some areas of Asia. ASCH — the American Council on Science and Health is a dandy website for understanding what’s going on in this part of the world. You can sign up for a free subscription, and they’ll send a brief note to your mailbox with the latest news. The Little Black Book of Junk Science by  Alec Berezow is newly available and is just what the title implies.



Turn Them On. Turn Them All On. Celebrate Electricity! by The Elephant's Child

lightbulb1

At 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 23, 2013, the World Wildlife Fund has mandated that millions of people should turn off all their lights for one hour, for no discernible reason. They call it “Earth Hour.” I suggest you turn them all on, to celebrate electricity. “Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance of the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.”

Ross McKitrick continued: “Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading. Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes specifically because they have no access to electricity.”

I have lived without reliable electric power, without any electric power, and a modern refrigerator has it all over an icebox and putting up ice in the winter. Filling the lamps, trimming the wicks and cleaning the chimneys loses big time to simply changing a lightbulb.

This is another of those precious gestures so favored by the environmental left, that simply don’t work.

Between 2006 and 2011, U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields. In corn-belt states like Iowa and South Dakota, about 5 percent of pastureland is being converted into cropland every year. This pasture destruction will lead to serious environmental harm. Grassland soil captures carbon better than cropland. Corn crops require more fertilizer and pesticides, and are turning prairie into a potential dust bowl.

Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, expecting considerable production of cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, wood chips, and other plant refuse. This has driven up prices across the board, and harmed millions of people in poor countries dependent on U.S. corn exports. And biofuel still has not been reliably produced.

The Renewable Fuels law mandates that ethanol production ramp up from 13 billion gallons this year to 36 billion gallons by 2022. The idea was that ethanol would help America to achieve energy independence, but with new technologies America could be energy independent right now, if Obama would stop blocking it. Refiners are crashing into a “blend wall”, where the feds have forced them to purchase more ethanol than they can safely put in their gasoline. Consumers don’t want it, and a higher blend 14.4% next year, will damage older cars and small engines.

That incandescent light bulb ban was another environmental bad idea. Governments are simply incapable of good business decisions. The free market is always better than politicians at picking efficient solutions. CFLs are impractical, more expensive and may be a cancer risk.

Solar energy was going to save us from foreign oil, except they forgot that the sun goes down in the west every night. Wind  energy would replace all those coal-fired power plants, except that they found the wind only blows occasionally, chops up birds like a Cuisinart, and makes unbearable noise.

The whole global warming scare is turning out to be a fraud, and governments all over the world are retreating from their failed green dreams as millions freeze because they can’t afford enough energy to keep warm in a cooling climate.



Celebrate Cheap Abundant Electricity and Human Progress by The Elephant's Child

Let’s Hear it For Civilization, and Common Sense! by The Elephant's Child
March 31, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science | Tags: ,

Reprinted from Anthony Watts splendid blog, Watts Up with That?:

Earth Hour: A Dissent

by Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, Univer...In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

[Ross McKitrick is a Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, Canada. Photo Credit: Wikipedia]



The NUPs Strike Again! by The Elephant's Child

8PM Saturday night, March 29 is designated as “Earth Hour”. The Greenies want us to turn off our lights for one hour, to demonstrate something or other. If you are interested, just google “Earth Hour 2008”. If you think it is a crock, consider yourself an Illumination Activist. Turn on all household lights, any heaters, air conditioners, automobile headlights, the stove’s self-cleaning cycle, the TV. all kitchen appliances, the stereo. Or have a Carbon Party.

David Warren not long ago wrote a column in which he spoke of “Naive Urban People”. I refer to them as NUPs. They love wild animals, particularly babies, and Nature — which they observe from their car windows. The average visit to the Grand Canyon — one of the wonders of the world — lasts 20 minutes. NUPs are deeply concerned about “global warming” and can’t be bothered to read up and find out what it is all about. They are careful to recycle, but don’t ask what it costs their municipal government. They are urban people, deeply uninformed about the natural world and how it works.

Perhaps you remember World Jump Day. A typical NUP production. You can Google that one too.




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