American Elephants

Here are amazing pictures from the flooding Red River. by The Elephant's Child
March 29, 2009, 6:54 pm
Filed under: Environment, News | Tags: ,

Not only all the misery of flood water, but icy cold as well.  Good neighbors at work.

The new fuel-efficiency standards will cost the auto industry $1.5 billion. by The Elephant's Child
March 28, 2009, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

The Transportation Department has released its requirements for the first increase in passenger car fuel efficiency in 25 years — the first step in what will be extensive reform for the nations truck and car fleets.  The standards for model year 2011 passenger cars will have to average 30.2 mpg, and light trucks 24.1 mpg for cars that will hit the showrooms in September of 2010.  Look for more increases to come.

The new fuel efficiency standards are estimated to cost the auto industry $1.5 billion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that price increases as a result will average $64 for passenger cars and $126 for light trucks. Passenger car buyers will be repaid in fuel savings in an average of 4.4 years, or in 7.7 years for pickups, SUVs or minivans.

Do you get the feeling that the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing? This is, I believe, the same auto industry that is receiving bailouts and needs more?

Representative John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said that Obama and his aides “recognize the auto industry is in a period of transition.” I guess you could call it a “transition.”

Representative Ed Markey,D-MA, chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, praised the regulation.

With gas prices once again on the rise, I am pleased to see the Obama administration taking this historic first step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil and helping revitalize the domestic auto industry. I look forward to working with the president to ensure that future standards are based on realistic assumptions and sound science.

I do not pretend to understand this.  I guess it all makes sense if you believe that global warming is a vast danger to the earth, that extracting petroleum from American earth is something akin to rape, and that charging the auto industry another billion and a half will fill their empty coffers.  But then I have no idea how to build a car.

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste! by The Elephant's Child
March 16, 2009, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Global Warming | Tags: , , ,

Here’s British columnist Janet Daley writing in The Telegraph, exposing the effort to make an “opportunity” out of the present financial crisis:

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama — who gives the impression of being considerably out of his depth in the economic maelstrom — talks of an “opportunity” to “reorganize our priorities.” He gave a major speech last week in which he actually seemed to suggest that the present crisis had been caused by America’s failure to develop a universal health care system and to attend to the impending environmental disaster of global warming (“we made the wrong choices”), and that by focusig on these matters a way can be found out of the country’s economic problems.

Is he quite mad?  Does he really believe that the banking crisis and the recession were some kind of divine retribution for the absence of universal health care, and excessive carbon emissions?

You can read the whole article here, and another from the same author.

Things Obama Needs NOT to do by The Elephant's Child

Holman W. Jenkins Jr.  had a splendid column in the Wall Street Journal today.  Right on the button. “Obama” he said, “needs a ‘not to do’ list.”

Put away childish things, President Obama said during his inauguration.  He couldn’t have found a theme more suited to the moment.  The preoccupations that he and most politicians are used to running on, and that still characterize too many of his administration’s utterances, are being exposed in the global economic disaster as the soppy indulgences they always were.

Put away the global warming panic.  Mankind’s contribution to rising CO2 levels raise serious questions, but the tens of billions poured into climate science have, by now, added up only to a negative finding.  We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere’s component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability.

In any case , has Mr. Obama taken a gander at collapsing industrial production numbers around the world?  He’s going to get a big reduction in CO2 output whether he wants it or not.  Nor will the public be moved to make costly, material changes in its energy habits, especially if the recent global cooling trend continues.  What we’ll get instead is already depressingly clear: climate pork, or lucrative favors for lobbying interests in the name of global warming that have no impact on global warming.

Do read the rest.  It is the best piece I have read today.

Everything is terrible, and it is only going to get worse. by The Elephant's Child


Iain Murray made a cogent observation today in the Corner.  ” The fact is,” he said, “that the impending eco-apocalypse is permanent.” In the early 70s we were told that we were entering another ice age.  Millions would starve to death, the world could not feed its increasing population.

Then there was the panic about over-population.  The Chinese probably had it right with their one baby per family edict. But birthrates are in actuality declining far below replacement rate in most of the west.

Smog in our cities led to catalytic converters and cleaner fuel, and we sensibly cleaned up our air and our water.  But that was not enough.  If we cure one flaw, one problem, they will find an even greater threat.

Vast extinctions.  Half of all species were sure to become extinct, doomed.  A Google search turns up 10,500,000 results for “endangered species.”

Environmental organizations choose the most photogenic species to agonize over, never an unattractive one.  Polar bears, undeniably beautiful, are supposed to serve the dual purpose of  ending climate change and preventing any drilling for oil or gas.

DDT was supposed to be the cause of vast extinctions, yet in reality it was the banning of DDT that caused vast human extinction, especially children,  in the developing world from malaria.

What I am attempting to point out here is not that panics often don’t pan out, which they don’t. But that there is something about the green movement that requires an ecological catastrophe.  Something  is wrong with our food, or our lifestyle.  There is something wrong with us.  And if you attempt a bit of rationality or simple common sense you are “assailed as a holocaust denier for questioning what everyone knows to be true.”

What is wrong with these people? Generous funding, too much free time, and a need for more funds.

Are their lives so empty and purposeless that they can only feel  worthwhile if they are fully engaged with a threat to the planet itself?

Determining risk by using computer models is more complicated than you might think. by The Elephant's Child

Last Friday the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center admitted that their sea ice data was off by as much as a half-million square kilometers due to “sensor drift” of the old satellites that they were using.

A new satellite is available, and it is far more precise, but the Snow and Ice Data Center does not use it because its data is inconsistent with their historical data.  The idea of an “ice-free pole” is so much the consensus that they do not want ordinary facts to get in their way.

The extent of Arctic sea ice is an important measure of how rising or cooling temperatures are affecting Earth’s climate.  The satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of sea ice by 50,000 kilometers (193,000 square miles) or about the size of California.  But this small error does not change their findings that Arctic ice is retreating.

An article from Anthony Watts blog by Machine Design editor Leland Teschler points out that financial institutions have employed legions of PhD mathematicians and statisticians to model the risks that the firms were assuming under a variety of scenarios.

Huybert Groenendaal’s PhD is in modeling the spread of diseases.  He points out that:

In risk modeling you use a lot of statistics because you want to learn from the past.  That is good if the past is like the future, but in that sense you couuld be getting a false sense of security.

That sense of security plays directly into what happened with banks and financial instruments based on mortgages.  It gets back to the use of historical data.  One critical assumption people had to make was that the past could predict the future.  I believe in the case of mortgage products, there was too much faith in the idea that past trends would hold.

In our experience people have excessive confidence in their historical data.  That problem isn’t unique to the financial area.  You must be cynical and open to the idea that this time, the world would change.  When we work with people on models, we warn them that models are just tools.  You have to think about the assumptions you make.  Models can help you make better decisions, but you must remain skeptical.

Climate change is similar to financial markets in that you can’t run experiments with it as you might when you are formulating theories in physics.  That means your skepticism should go up.

Lots to ponder here.  Read the whole thing.

Bad Science, Bad Politics, Bad Results. by The Elephant's Child

“Obsessive” doesn’t even begin to describe Dr. James Hansen, the Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. (GISS)  Since  trumpeting the cause of global warming before a sweltering Congress in the late 1980s, on the hottest day of summer, he has been an indefatigable agitator on behalf of climate crisis.

He is a government employee, but he has been well rewarded by sources outside of the U.S. government for his climate activism.  In 2001, he received a Heinz Foundation award that included a $250,000 payment for promoting global warming.  Investors Business Daily has reported that Dr. Hansen has been funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute by $720,000 to encourage his advocacy of the global warming cause.

Now James Hansen has endorsed the Capitol Climate Action in “mass civil disobedience” at the coal-fired Capitol Power Plant in Washington DC.  He says:

The Capitol Climate Action comes not a moment too soon.  For more than thirty years, scientists, environmentalists and people from all walks of life have urged our leaders to take action to stop global warming; and that action has yet to come.  The world is waiting for the Obama administration and Congress to lead the way forward on this defining issue of our time.  They need to start by getting coal out of Congress.

A recent op-ed by Dr. Hansen in the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. proclaimed that Coal-fired power stations are death factories, and the trains carrying coal to them as “death trains.” In October of 2007 he stated to the Iowa Utilities Board that:

If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains — no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.

He has called for the trial and prosecution of energy company executives.  Elements of carelessness and hype in the promotion of climate change have alienated increasing numbers of scientists, as well as evidence that the planet is actually cooling.  He has called for the trial and prosecution of energy company executives.

Coal-fired plants currently contribute 48.4 percent of the Nation’s electric power.  Nuclear plants contribute 19.4 percent and 21.4 percent comes from gas-fired plants.  Ordinary hydroelectric power provides 6.4 percent of the total, and all the other “renewables” — wind, solar, geothermal and biomass generate the remaining 3.1 percent of electric power.  The assumption among activists that 50% of our power needs can be supplied by “renewables” is simply a Utopian pipe dream.

A recent article in Der Spiegel reports that Germany’s renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story.  Roughly 15 percent of the country’s electricity comes from renewables, but there is a catch — all the renewable energy produced by the nation’s windmills has not prohibited the emission of a single gram of CO2.  The amount of CO2 contributed by human action is simply too small to measure.  And there is another catch.  In spite of the EU emissions trading system and massive government subsidies and taxes, power plants simply cannot meet their government mandated limits on CO2.

But never mind.  The Capital Climate Action isn’t about saving endangered species or preventing CO2 emissions, or ending the threat of rising sea level, or even the ‘niceness’ of clean energy.  As the sponsors and endorsements make clear, it is about “social change”, and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” and “climate justice”.  That’s why it is endorsed by the SDS, Code Pink – Women for Peace, Washington Peace Center, Network of Spiritual Progressives, the Hip Hop Caucus, Greenpeace, the Ruckus Society, Global Exchange and other far-left activists.

The global warming case is breaking down in the face of a political “consensus” about climate policy that is simply collapsing.  Europe is admitting that their cap-and-trade policies don’t work and are far too costly to be tolerated.  Targets for emissions are not achievable, and the public no longer believes.  Hence the desperate effort to stir up support.

The whole global warming hoax was never about saving the earth in a biological sense. It was about saving the earth from Capitalism and Liberty and Democracy, from free trade and  free people.

The brilliant folk who run the world’s Non-Governmental Organizations are much better suited to be in charge and manage the affairs of the world.  Just ask them.

A little odd news to disturb your dreams. by The Elephant's Child
February 6, 2009, 1:51 am
Filed under: Environment, Science/Technology | Tags: ,

I ran onto two bits of news today , both a little disturbing.  First, an extinct ibex is resurrected by cloning.  For the first time an extinct animal has been brought back to life after being cloned from frozen tissue.

The Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last-known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain. …

Using DNA taken from…skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known.  It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.

Sadly, the newborn ibex kid died shortly after birth due to physical defects in its lungs.  Other cloned animals, including sheep, have been born with similar lung defects.

The second story concerns the discovery of the fossilized bones of the world’s longest snake, at a site in northern Columbia.  The largest snake previously known, a python, held the record for length of a snake, measured at 33 feet.

Titanoboa, a relative of the boa constrictor, estimated from the size and curvature of the fragments, suggest that the snake must have been about 42 feet long, or as long as a London bus.

Titanoboa, described in the weekly science journal Nature, was dug up at Cerrejon, one of the world’s largest open-pit mines, where as well as the snake, researchers discovered fossils of their prey including crocodiles and turtles.

I’m not sure I like the idea of cloning.  It immediately brings back memories of Jurassic Park, which was a disturbing movie.  Once you start bringing back extinct animals, where do you stop?  There have been frozen mammoths found in Siberian ice. New creatures are found all the time, and some go extinct. Is that just the natural process of the world, or something that we should or should not get involved with?  Wasn’t Michael Crichton’s whole purpose in that movie to warn us off?

I have never been bothered by snakes.  As a child I carried garter snakes around all the time, for my aunts were most definitely bothered by snakes.  And I’ve killed a few rattlesnakes, but I draw the line at a 46 foot long snake who can chow down on an crocodile.  That is just too much!

Snow and Ice Storms are Not, Repeat, Not, Evidence of Global Warming! by The Elephant's Child

Snow and ice storms across the Midwest this last week have left more than 1,500,000 customers without power in Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas. Oklahoma, Indiana and West Virginia. The weight of ice on branches and trees brings them crashing down, and taking powerlines with them.

People are without not only heat and lights,  but without water and sewers. Small towns are frantically trying to help their residents.  Shelters are full.  FEMA has shipped 50-100 generators to supply electricity to hospitals, nursing homes and water treatment plants.  At least 42 people have died.

Our hearts go out to those shivering in the Midwest, and we hope that power returns soon.

Cold weather is far more dangerous than hot weather.  Cold kills.

The earth has been cooling for the last five years, and the sun has been quiet, without sunspots.  There has been no warming since 1998.

In 2001 geologist Don Easterbrook predicted the beginning of a period of global cooling.  At a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, he again predicted a period of cooling based in part on correlation between past glacial fluctuations, his area of expertise, with periods of low solar irradiance and changes in the Pacific Ocean. (…)

The predicted cooling seems to have already begun.  Recent measurements of global temperatures suggest a gradual cooling trend since 1998 and 2007-2008 was a year of sharp global cooling.  The cooling trend will likely continue as the sun enters a cycle of lower irradiance and the Pacific Ocean changed from its warm mode to its cool mode. (…)

The good news is that global warming (i.e., the 1977-1998 warming)  is over and atmospheric CO2 is not a vital issue.  The bad news is that cold conditions kill more people than warm conditions, so we are in for bigger problems than we might have experienced if global warming had continued.  Mortality data from 1979-2002 death certificate records show twice as many deaths directly from extreme cold than for deaths from extreme heat, 8 times as many deaths as those from floods, and 30 times as many as from hurricanes.  The number of deaths indirectly related to cold is many times worse. (Read the whole article here). (Also see here)

Our government is enthusiastically and gallantly  galloping off in the oposite direction, trying to cut back on the CO2 that will be important in helping food crops to grow in a colder world.  CO2 is not only necessary for life, but it is a natural fertilizer in the atmosphere.

Instead of drilling for oil or natural gas which would assure our future sources of power, they are chasing after the bird in the bush, “clean alternative energy,”  which if doubled or trebled would still not be a significant source of energy in America.

But never let facts get in the way of a payback for radical green supporters.

A green dream, or an uncomfortable metaphor? by The Elephant's Child
January 18, 2009, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

In a previous post, I wrote about California’s required new “green sticker” for cars, enumerating the “clean energy” qualities of each new car.  The star, a perfect 10 points, was the Tesla Roadster.  Pretty sexy, isn’t it?  Only $109,000.

Jeremy Clarkson, the car guy for the London Times, recently got a battery-powered Tesla Roadster to test.

The company claimed it could run, even if driven briskly, for 200 miles, but after just a morning the battery power was down to 20% and we realized that it would not have enough juice for all the shots we needed.

Happily, the company had brought a second car along, so we switched to that.  But after a while its motor began to overheat.  And so, even though the first was not fully charged, we unplugged it — only to find that its brakes weren’t working properly.

The Democrat Congress is pretty excited about electric cars.  The Chevy Volt is purely Utopian — it will go 40 miles when charged — and only costs $4o,ooo.  Congress is prepared to demand that Detroit “go green.” But the American people want a car that is dependable, doesn’t cost too much, and will keep their families safe. Not one that will get a meaningless green sticker.

Hmn.  Do you think this could be a metaphor?

What really causes global warming? by The Elephant's Child
November 18, 2008, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

England is having a bad time with their Green movement.  The Greens have worked for over 40 years to undermine the British economic system and to replace it with a Green autocracy that can control the British population.  Uninvestigated, it all sounded so — caring, and made a good topic of conversation for dinner parties.  When it meant just paying a little more for ‘organic’ veggies, or separating the trash into separate bins, it offered a small noble feeling of doing one’s part.

They, the Greens,  pretty much got away with it. At least until the economic crisis hit and people with calculators began looking at what things would actually cost.  An excellent example is recycling in the UK.  Most of this process has been driven by edicts from the EU — it is the moral thing to do, and you will recycle. But it seems that there is no demand, none whatsoever, for recycled waste.  The British paper, The Observer, reported that:

Huge waste mountains could be sited on military bases under emergency plans to protect Britain’s recycling revolution from the economic downturn.

Local authorities have requested government permission to site rubbish dumps on Ministry of Defense land in order to stockpile growing amounts of recyclable waste for which there is no use and no market.

The Observer is the quintessential right thinking newspaper. Recycling is good.  Therefore we must continue the recycling revolution no matter what the costs.  Can something be “recyclable” if it has no use, and if there is no market at all for it?

A second tactic is the eternal battle against an evil threat. Global warming has become the perpetual threat that demands every sacrifice — democracy, liberty, the destruction of free markets and the establishment of the “Ministry of Truth.” It will be staffed with an army of bureaucrats who will rewrite history, eliminating the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, as well as circulating pictures of drowning polar bears and melting glaciers.

The third tactic is the adoption of Green bureaucratic language. Global warming becomes “climate change’.  “Sustainability” becomes the buzz-word of the day.  “Sustainable development” can be encouraged to build wind farms, to bolster the quest for funds, or to pass undesirable laws.  It can also be used to prevent development, block growth and to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia.

Greens come in many guises, and range from the caring but ill-informed to the totally loony.  Their prescriptions need to be based in observed science and real economics. That shouldn’t be asking too much.

You are being fed a parcel of lies.  Pay attention, read up, and investigate further. Don’t just swallow.

(h/t Climate Change Fraud)

Liberalism IS a Mental Disorder! by The Elephant's Child


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