American Elephants


Green Dreams Cost the Democratic Party by The Elephant's Child

Patrick Moore was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace and is a former president of the organization. He has sharply and publicly differed with many of the policies of the Green groups, including Greenpeace itself, and is a spokesman for common sense.

From the Wall Street Journal’s “Notable & Quotable” column: Being Green Costs the Democrats

Josh Kaushaar: “Democrats Pay a Price for Being Green” in the National Journal on Dec.6:

Let me offer a piece of unsolicited advice, one that Democratic strategists have discussed privately but are reticent to promote publicly for fear of alienating green activists. Taking a more moderate stand on energy policy—whether it’s supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, championing the fracking boom that’s transforming regional economies, or simply sounding a more skeptical note on the Obama administration’s litany of environmental regulations—would do wonders for the Democratic Party’s ability to compete for the working-class voters who have drifted away from the party.



The Environmentalist War on Rural America by The Elephant's Child

Hypocrisy in the Bureaucracy, and In the Courts As Well. by The Elephant's Child
September 8, 2009, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Law | Tags: , ,

The Wall Street Journal  has a story by Robert Bryce, that just knocked me out.  It is a splendid example of the utter dysfunction of today’s world.

On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. In July, for example, the Oregon-based electric utility PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitution for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly-designed power lines.

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year.

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

“Somebody,” Mr. Bryce said Mr. Fry told him, “has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free- card.  If there was even one prosecution the wind industry would be forced to take the issue seriously.”

The world’s environmentalists, and their bureaucratic enablers who expect to profit vastly from taxing carbon dioxide and raising the cost of energy on everyone ; are in love with the idea of “clean, renewable energy” from “free sources” like the wind and the sun.

But neither the wind nor the sun are free when it comes to generating electricity. In spite of the promises and posturing and platitudes, there is little evidence that either wind or solar can ever make a significant contribution to our energy needs.

The wind blows at the right speed only intermittently. When the wind does not blow, there must be backup from a regular power plant.  The effective locations for wind farms are usually far from urban centers.  Although the wind is free, making electricity from the wind and connecting it to a grid are very, very expensive.  The U.S. government subsidizes wind power at $23.34 per MWh. This compares with 25¢ per MWh for natural gas or 44¢ for coal.

Most people need more electricity at night when it gets dark.  The sun sinks beneath the horizon at night.  Solar panels require vast acreage to produce power in any significant quantity.  We are not able at the present time to store electricity in any sizeable amount.  Solar panel manufacturers are going out of business everywhere except here where they are being subsidized enthusiastically by our government.



Green, green, it’s green they say on the far side of the moon. by The Elephant's Child
November 6, 2008, 7:22 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , , ,

O.K. It was the New Christy Minstrels, and hill, not moon, but moon is perhaps more applicable in this case.  In California, three initiatives on green energy were roundly defeated. And both the Media and politicians should take notice.  The American people remain unconvinced that “global warming” is either anthropogenic or other than natural, and they are right.  Carbon dioxide remains a natural fertilizer, not a pollutant.

By wide margins citizens voted against Proposition 7 , which would have required utilities to generate 40 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025.  It was defeated by a margin of 64.9% to 35.1% according to NewsBusters

Proposition 10 would have created $5 billion in general obligation bonds to help consumers and others purchase certain high fuel economy or alternative fuel vehicles, and to fund research into alternative fuel technology.  Investors are bailing out of alternative fuel startups.

In San Francisco, voters were confronted with Proposition H, the “San Francisco Clean Energy Act”.  It would amend the county charter to require the city to transition from fossil fuels to clean, non-nuclear, sustainable energy production at affordable rates.  With this vote the city would abandon any use whatsoever of any energy from coal, natural gas, fossil fuels and nuclear power.  Good luck with that! Fortunately that too was defeated by a large margin of 59% to 41%.

What the environmentalists fail to understand is that in the best of all locations, the wind blows at the right speed only about a third of the time. When the turbines stop producing electricity, a backup of nuclear or coal-fired power is required. Solar power requires the sun to shine — clouds and night will not produce power — and solar panels require an enormous acreage.  No matter how much you “mandate”, power from these sources is not going to work in the foreseeable future. Renewable resources at present represent only about 1% of our current energy supply, and most of that is from burning waste.

Californians pay 36 percent more for their electricity than the rest of us. They have watched manufacturing’s share of state output drop by 15 percent since 1980.  They need less electricity for heating and cooling than the rest of the nation.  They mostly live in smaller houses than the national average and pay billions of dollars for generating electricity from inefficient alternatives.

Restricting CO2 makes less energy available.  When the impacts of restricting carbon are traced through the economy, according to Dr. David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation, some jobs are created but more are lost. If you just count the new jobs, you are distorting the analysis.

Environmentalists seem to be convinced that if they just ban any use of fossil fuels or nuclear energy, that the necessary investment or consumer demand will miraculously produce energy from these improbable sources.

The earth has been cooling since 1998, and is expected to continue to cool for the next two decades.  Al Gore has trumpeted all sorts of unlikely catastrophic events caused by “global warming”, but real people are much more susceptible to suffering and death from cold weather.  There is a long time-frame for increasing our energy supply.  A few wells could be brought online fairly quickly if obstacles were removed, but in most cases it means building new nuclear plants, doing exploratory drilling, and adopting clean-coal technology. Ethanol is a bust, and ethanol companies are going bankrupt.  There is no alternate fuel on the horizon.

The Democrat Congress is anxious to do the environmental lobby’s bidding.  (That’s where a big chunk of their money comes from). One of the first items on their agenda is reversing the opening of any lands for drilling. The second is some kind of cap-and-trade or energy tax to force consumers to support “renewable energy”.

Britain is facing a similar problem.  Many of the wind farms built with taxpayer subsidies will never produce power, and would have not been built without subsidy. Their situation is far more dire than ours, for they are farther down the road.

The deep worry is an Energy Gap. They will have banned everything that actually produces energy to power our economy and our  homes, yet their faith in clean renewable fuels will be shown to have been complete fantasy.  And we will be left out in the proverbial cold.  Better stock up on firewood and long johns.



The color of hypocrisy? Green! by The Elephant's Child

Junk Science’s Steven Milloy reports on the latest thing in green travel:

The World Wildlife Fund’s website states that “It is clearly time for all Americans to roll up their sleeves, to take steps to reduce emissions, to prepare for climate change, and to encourage others to do the same.” We Americans must use compact fluorescent light bulbs, reduce hot water use, turn thermostats down in the winter and up in the summer and use low-flow shower heads and faucets.  We should pledge to commute by carpool or mass transit, switch to green power, and get more fuel-efficient cars.  We should make our lives more expensive and less convenient so that the Green elites don’t feel too guilty while jet-setting to exotic locales.

That’s for us.  For their wealthy donors they have something else in mind:

“Join us on a remarkable 25-day journey by luxury private jet,”invites the WWF in a brochure for its voyage to “some of the most astonishing places on the planet to see top wildlife, including gorillas, orangutans, rhinos, lemurs and toucans.”

For a price tag that starts at $64,950 per person, travelers will meet at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Fla. on April 6, 2009 and then fly to “remote corners” of the world on a “specially outfitted jet that carries just 88 passengers in business-class comfort.” “World class experts — including  WWF’s director of species conservation — will provide lectures en route, and a professional staff will be devoted to making your global adventure seamless and memorable.” Travelers will visit the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, Easter Island, Samoa, Borneo, Laos, Nepal, Madagascar, Namibi, Uganda or Rwanda, and finish up at the luxury Dorchester Hotel in London.

According to the calculator on the WWF’s website, it would cost in excess of $44,000 to offset the carbon emissions from the jet travel alone.  But there is some doubt about the whole carbon-offset thing.  it may be just a rip-off.  And so it goes.



Progressive Thinkers or Mindless Sheeple? by American Elephant

You decide:

(h/t Mind of Mookie)



Fueling Famine: The Biofuel Disaster! by The Elephant's Child

Food Protests in Mexico

We have warned about the dangers of subsidizing ethanol production. We have spoken of food riots in Mexico, and Egypt and Vietnam. Orangutans are being killed in Indonesia to make way for palm-oil plantations to feed Europe’s demand for biofuel. In Haiti, five people were killed in protests last week over a 50% rise in the price of food staples in the past year. People are going hungry.

Inflated corn prices encourage farmers to divert more acreage to corn which means they plant less soy and wheat, which drives up the price of those commodities. According to the Washington Times, the aggregate price of wheat, corn, soy oil and soy meal in the U.S. will be $61.7 billion higher in the 2007-2008 crop year than it was in 2005-2006.

Our Congress is promoting famine in the third world because they can’t be bothered to seriously study what they are doing with their subsidies.

If famine and hunger and food riots will not move people to action (and millions of deaths from malaria didn’t seem to bother anyone enough to authorize the use of DDT), there is some news that may spur action.

Drought conditions in parts of Australia and New Zealand where malting barley is grown may mean that Beer will be in short supply, may be more expensive, and may taste different. In the US, hops will be in short supply due to fungus problems, or perhaps to more land being turned over to grain production. Perhaps a shortage of beer will spur letters to Congress.



Did you turn your lights off? Why? by The Elephant's Child

Last night at the appointed hour (8:00 pm local time, “Global Hour” — see “The NUPs Strike Again!” below) I turned on all the lights and looked out the window. I was appalled. The neighbors just below had their porch lights on, but across the valley it was a sea of darkness. Surely I couldn’t be living in such a sea of greenies. Then I realized that I wasn’t. It was snowing, and I couldn’t see across the valley.

The NUPs (naive urban people) had thought to make some important environmental point by turning off the world’s lights for one hour. I am unsure of what the point was. World Jump Day‘s purpose was a little clearer –if everyone in the world jumped at the same time, it would alter the orbit of the earth slightly and improve something or other. I’m not much on candlelight vigils or marches with big puppets either. I suspect that the time involved could be better spent reading up on the problem that is of such concern.

The problem is that if the concern is “global warming” or “global cooling” or even the revised formulation “climate change”, the implication is that there is some right temperature from which variation is a worrisome thing. Which is clearly nonsense. I’m personally in favor of something ranging from 70° to 78°, but I have skiers in the family.

It is worth noting that true believers, such as Al Gore, will not tolerate disagreement. In a preview clip from his coming appearance on 60Minutes this week, he refers to climate skeptics as “few” and “flat-earth people”. And this is typical. Just mention NASA’s Aqua satellite and note the blank stares or rude language that ensues. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the splendid The Skeptical Environmentalist, has been the recipient of attacks almost as violent as those visited upon the publication of the Danish cartoons. Lomborg, a professor of statistics, merely took official government statistics and explained clearly what they indicated.

It is very worth following up on the previous link, and reading the whole thing. This paragraph is especially worth remembering:

Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring.



Brave New World by The Elephant's Child

Is this the world of the future? Gordon Brown announced last summer, plans for 10 eco-towns in response to the housing shortage in Britain. Half of the households in eco-towns will have to live without a car, and those that have one will be limited to a speed-limit of 15mph.

These new towns will have about 20,000 residents each, and such amenities as skateboard parks will be included to help achieve community cohesion. Rainwater will be captured and wastewater recycled so there is no overall increase in water demand.

The Secretary of State for Communities and the Minister for Housing and Planning have other plans. Happy socialist plans to assure that everyone gets along. The possibility of limiting Britain’s open door immigration policies to ease the housing crisis seems never to have occurred to anyone.

Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, has a must-read article from the Daily Mail about what is happening to England, and what seems to be her inexorable future.

Glowing descriptions of the eco-communities of the future sound uncomfortably familiar to the glowing descriptions of gracious apartment buildings in “modern housing projects” that were described to us many years ago. The notion that government can do a better job of planning our future than we can, is fairly frightening.

There’ll always be an England
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

 




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