American Elephants


Using kids to accomplish political goals is child abuse. by The Elephant's Child

According to an Earth Day survey of schoolchildren, one in three children between the ages of six and eleven think that the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. The telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research polled a national sample of preteens, 250 boys and 250 girls.

Kids worry about the state of the planet, especially about clean air and clean water, regardless of their parents actions to recycle or make other efforts to be green. 50 percent say that hurricanes and tornadoes are the natural disasters that scare them the most.  28 percent say that they fear that animals such as polar bears and penguins will become extinct and disappear from the planet.

Minority kids are even more anxious. 75 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children believe that the planet will be irrevocably damaged by the time they grow up. Urban children are more anxious than suburban children.

Thank you, Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and all the green propagandists in the education establishment. This is child abuse. Kids write about polar bears for class projects.

I wrote a short post last December about DNA studies that determined that polar bears had been around much longer than estimated. It had been assumed that they evolved from brown bears fairly recently. Genetic studies determined that the polar bear had been around for at least 130,000 years, through warmer periods and cooler periods, and we probably didn’t need to worry about their surviving the slight warming that we have had. We could probably take them off the “might become endangered” list.

The post was illustrated with a really cute picture of a polar bear cub. We have had 26,000 hits on that one post — mostly from school children working on class projects. I hope that some of them read it to find out that the bears are probably not endangered, but I imagine that most of them were simply after the picture of the cub. I know it’s kid’s homework, because the hits stop during school vacations.

In England, the High Court ordered schools to give an equal amount of time to the scientific proof that many of Al Gore’s claims in “An Inconvenient Truth” were unsupportable, false, and just plain wrong.  We have had no such luck in this country, and his celebrated propaganda powerpoint is constantly shown in the schools.  The polar bear was chosen by environmental activists specifically to arouse worries about extinction, and by extension to use their habitat needs to prevent any possible drilling for oil.

Unnecessarily scaring kids seems like a particularly sleazy way to try to accomplish green fantasies.



What do Americans know about energy and the environment? by The Elephant's Child

What do Americans believe about energy and the environment?  The Manhattan Institute undertook a poll, with the help of Zogby, to find out with a survey in January of 2009 of 1,000 Americans, chosen to be representative of public opinion generally.  Some examples:

  • 49 percent of respondents believe that Saudia Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while only 13 percent correctly identified Canada as our major supplier.  Only 16.1 percent of our imports came from the Persian Gulf region.
  • More than 67 percent believe that we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency.  Historically, energy demand increases with efficiency gains.  The Energy Information Administration projects U.S. energy use to increase 11.2 percent from 2007 to 2030, while global energy consumption will increase by 50 percent.
  • Only 37 percent correctly answered that no one has ever died from the actual generation of nuclear power in the U.S.  The U.S. has not built a nuclear -power reactor since the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, 104 active reactors safely generate roughly one fifth of our nations electricity.
  • 63 percent of those surveyed believe that human activity is the greatest source of greenhouse gases.  In fact, such emissions are significantly  smaller than natural emissions.  Most of the CO2 that enters the atmosphere comes from the oceans and the biosphere — 41.46 and 55.28 percent respectively.  The burning of fossil fuels accounts for only 3.27 percent  of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.
  • Fewer than 28 percent believe that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970.  The six most common pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent.  Air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen by nearly 70 percent, and new cars are more than 90 percent cleaner.  During the same period, GDP tripled, energy consumption increased 50 percent and motor vehicle use increased almost 200 percent.

Offshore oil drilling can be accomplished in an environmentally sensitive manner.  Spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely. 91 percent of our electricity is generated by fossil fuels and uranium.  Renewables will not soon make any significant dent in that.



Happy Earth Day! But don’t tell me any good news. by The Elephant's Child

Happy Earth Day!  Steve Hayward, author of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (14th edition) which mostly consists of the good news.  Today, at NRO,  he points out his favorite tidbit from this year’s edition:

Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times of a recent estimate from the Smithsonian Institution research in Central America suggesting that “for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster… The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play.  They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.”  The next sentence, however, has a drearily predictable beginning: “The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists,” not because it might be untrue, but because it might blunt support for “vigorous efforts to protect native rain forests.”

Mr. Hayward adds: “Imagine, Environmentalist outrage over potentially good news.”  But then they have a lot of outrage over good news.  The news that the globe is cooling, not warming, has sent them into paroxysms of fury.  Suggest, correctly, that the Arctic and Antarctic have the normal amount of sea ice, or that  polar bears are just fine and adapting to cooler and warmer weather just as they have done for at least 130,000 years, and you have a berzerker on your hands.  They are not interested in good news — or perhaps it’s just that their definition of what is good news is different.



The EPA held a bedbug summit, and the major culprit is…the EPA. by The Elephant's Child
April 17, 2009, 1:24 am
Filed under: Developing Nations, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

There has been a loud public outcry in vulnerable communities such as inner cities like Detroit. Billed as the biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II, the Environmental Protection Agency held a “bedbug summit meeting” last Tuesday to answer to the public complaints.

Nine years ago, zealots at the Clinton administration’s EPA took Dursban off the shelves.  They banned the pesticide chlorpyrifos to praise and enthusiasm from the media and environmentalists. It was the most available  pesticide to deal with bedbugs, cockroaches and other noxious pests. It had been available for 30 years in some 800 products in 88 countries around the world.

Henry Payne, writing in Planet Gore describes what happened:

But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations… and exaggerated risk estimates,” said Michigan State University toxicologist J.I Goodman in a typical response.

Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency’s interpretation of his findings.

Such critics were also ignored by the press—as was evidence that the nation’s urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban.  Children’s insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. “Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man,” warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute.  “Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as  a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.”

Nine years later, there is still no satisfactory substitute for Dursban.  The EPA, always ready to do the bidding of environmental activists, also banned DDT.  That was responsible for millions of deaths in the developing world from malaria, which could have been prevented by spraying huts with a bit of DDT.  Ill-conceived regulations have consequences.

The EPA Administrator who approved the ban of Dursban  is now the “Climate Czar” in the Obama administration. She remains a zealot.



A rare and welcome boost for one of the world’s most endangered great apes. by The Elephant's Child

orangutan2-copy

Good News! A new orangutan population has been found in Indonesia.  A team surveying forests snuggled between jagged, limestone cliffs on the eastern rim of Borneo island counted 219 orangutan nests, indicating a “substantial” number of the animals said Erik Melijard, a senior ecologist for the U.S. based The Nature Conservancy.

“We can’t say for sure how many,” he said, but even a cautious estimate would indicate “several hundred at least, maybe 1,000 or 2.000 even.”

The team also encountered an adult male— which threw branches at the crew as they tried to take photographs— a mother and a child.  There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 90% of them in Indonesia, and the remainder in neighboring Malaysia.

These countries produce palm oil, used not only in food and cosmetics, but it is in great demand for making “clean burning” fuels in Europe and the United States.  Some rain forests where the animals spend most of their lives, have been clear cut.  Palm oil plantations, a lucrative source of employment and palm oil production, have led workers to kill orangutans as marauding pests, in spite of efforts to save the animals.

The inaccessibility of the area where the new population was found, as well as its poor soil and steep topography have shielded the area from development.  A Canadian scientist, Birute Mary Galdikas, who has spent nearly 40 years studying orangutans in the wild, says that most of the remaining populations are small and scattered, which makes them vulnerable.

The orangutan is called the “man of the forest.”  The story inadvertently shows how very difficult it is to get good estimates of the numbers of a species in the wild.



The Dim Bulbs at the EPA Have Plans for You. by The Elephant's Child

A week ago, the New York Times  carried this headline: “Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don’t Work?” People are finding out that the new bulbs are a little more complicated than advertised.  In San Francisco, the Zurchers have a box of  Feit  Electric bulbs that didn’t work.  Inspired by “An Inconvenient Truth” they had decided to replace all of their incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent.  But not every fixture will take a CFL bulb.  The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours.  If screwed into a fixture where heat will build up — the bulbs will burn out quickly.

What happened?  The Energy Department (a government agency) asked manufacturers in 1998 to create cheaper models and then helped find large-volume buyers to buy them.  That jump-started a mass market and eventually led to sales of discounted bulbs at retailers like Costco and Home Depot.

Consumers are supposed to get some protection by buying bulbs certified under the government’s Energy Star program. In 2007-8 tests, five of 29 models failed to meet specifications for such categories as lifespan, luminosity and on-off cycling. The government is expanding the watchdog program, promising to test samples of 20 percent of the thousands of certified bulb models each year.

“Experts and bulb manufacturers say that consumers need to play a role in solving the problems by learning more about the limitations of compact fluorescent bulbs.  The Federal Trade Commission has begun to study whether it should force improvements in the labels of the bulbs.”

You do understand that the government has ordered the phase out of incandescent bulbs in 2014, don’t you? (You didn’t read that provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?) The bulbs don’t do well in recessed ceiling fixtures, or with 3-way sockets or dimmers. You don’t mind replacing most of your lamps and fixtures, I’m sure.  One should be aware that CFLs can take one to three minutes to reach full brightness.  This is normal, not a defect. Although they are supposed to last for 10,000 hours, and save as much as $5.40 a year in electricity costs, some bulbs died within a few hours.

Because all fluorescent contain mercury, a toxic metal, they must never be put in the trash, but must be transported to a certified disposal point.  We received a card from our city government that named the certified disposal points.  Most charged a fee per bulb for disposal, and none accepted regular long fluorescent bulbs except the city waste disposal station which is about five miles away, but so far, free.

Because of the mercury, if you drop one and it breaks, you have to call the hazmat crew to dispose of it — that’s somewhere in the $200-$300 range.

The bulbs are manufactured in China, effectively killing of the domestic industry that made incandescent bulbs which will no longer be available. I seem to remember some pious talk about outsourcing and not allowing any more business being moved offshore.  But that was then, and this is now, and the Nanny Government, as usual, doesn’t think things through, never considers consequences, and doesn’t read the bills they pass anyway.

This joins the list of low flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and other annoyances that they have inflicted on us. With the forthcoming designation from the dim bulbs at the EPA of carbon dioxide (you know, the stuff you exhale) as a pollutant, they will have the authority to regulate — well, practically everything.  And now the government will decide just what kind of cars you may have.   Orwellian doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I hope someone is taking notes.



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.




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