American Elephants

Another Surprising Feature Of the Waxman-Malarkey Bill. by The Elephant's Child
July 3, 2009, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy | Tags: ,

One of the main features among many in the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill is the requirement that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions be 17 percent below those of 2005 by 2020 and that 15 percent of electric power generation come from “clean energy sources” such as wind, solar, biomass or geothermal by 2020.

Population increase is estimated to grow by 40 million more than that in 2005, a 13.5 percent increase.  So we need a 28 percent decrease in fossil energy use  which will mean a major decrease in such comforts as hot water, heating and air conditioning.  Not to figure how much energy is required for the vast fleets of electric cars that the administration is counting on.

Many states are unsuitable for the use of solar or wind as energy sources.  These states will have to buy power from more wind-friendly states at much higher rates.  Solar power is far more expensive, so wind power will probably be the greatest source of renewable power.  If there is no growth for for the intervening 15 years to 2020 we would need something like 600 billion KWh.  The typical wind-power plant produces about 3.3 million KWh per year.

Thus, in the eleven years to 2020, the United States would need about 180 thousand 1.5 megawatt wind turbines.  This means 45 new wind turbines per day!

And that does not count the new coal-fired plants needed for all the times when the wind does not blow.

I wonder how much 180,000 wind turbines cost?

(Thanks to Professor James Rust for this information from CCNet News)

The Secrets of The Waxman-Markey Climate Bill. No Wonder They Didn’t Want Anybody to Actually Read It. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2009, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Here is the Must Read Article for the weekend, and for the foreseeable future.  Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson have rounded up 50 reasons why the Waxman-Markey climate bill is part government power-grab, part enviro-fantasy, and should be stopped.   You have no idea of the horrors to be found within its many pages, but of course your representatives have no idea either, because nobody read it before they voted to pass it.

Read it, print it out and pass it around.  Take it to a Tea Party.  Inflict it on your relatives.  Discuss it with your friends.  Challenge the Democrats you know.  You can have all sorts of fun with this.

The Bears Are Doing Just Fine! Really! by The Elephant's Child
June 28, 2009, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Environment, Science/Technology | Tags: ,

polar bears

New headlines will soon be featured in the world’s newspapers, as long as they are not still overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson and the affair of Mark Sanford.  Watch for them, they will report something along the lines that “scientists say that vanishing Arctic ice threatens the extinction of our beautiful polar bears.”

There is a conference in Copenhagen of the Polar Bear Specialist Group under the auspices of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission, and at the very tippy top of their agenda will be the need to produce a report designed to increase fears that polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming.  Financial support and donations from polar bear enthusiasts will hopefully be forthcoming if the report is sufficiently scary.

Dr. Mitchell Taylor, a leading world expert on polar bears, had obtained funding to attend this week’s meeting,  but he has been impolitely dis-invited.  He is known to have signed the Manhattan Declaration — the statement by 500 scientists that climate changes are natural, and not caused by CO2, but by changes in the activity of the sun and in ocean currents — and that just simply won’t do.

Dr Taylor has been researching the state of the polar bear population around the Arctic Circle for 30 years as a government employee and an academic.  His work has made headlines  by insisting that polar bear numbers are much higher than they were 30 years ago and of the 19 different polar bear populations almost all are increasing or at optimum levels.  Only two have modestly declined, for local reasons.  He has also noted that the Arctic has been warming, but not as warming activists claim, from CO2, but from current changes bringing warmer water into the arctic from the Pacific. And here it is, nearly midsummer and the temperature is still below zero, and with the cooling climate the summer melt will probably be less.

Dr. Taylor was told that his views running “counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful.”  The science, you see, is not of interest.  It is the agenda that matters.  So please, just shut up!

Hopenchange Indeed. Take a Look at This Map. by The Elephant's Child
June 25, 2009, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Global Warming, Progressivism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

PowerLine Blog has a dandy map , created by John Boehner, of  the convoluted bureaucracy that would be created if Democrats succeed in passing their Cap and Trade Bill.   This bill is such a pathetic disaster, and will do such damage to the American people.  $1,600 to $3,900 per household.  Graft and corruption.

Nancy Pelosi apparently thinks she has the votes, after twisting agricultural arms with ethanol promises.  That’s going to look really smart when crop yields drop because of the colder climate and late planting, and we start hearing stories of food riots and hunger caused by putting food crops in our gas tanks.

Another Government Loan to a Surprising Recipient. by The Elephant's Child

Our government has given a $468 million loan to Tesla Motors to build an electric sedan and the battery packs to run it.  When we have been hearing billions and trillions daily, $468 million begins to sound like chump change.  For those unfamiliar with Tesla motors, I have written about their sexy little Tesla Roadster ($110,000) here and here.  It’s a good looking little electric sports car;  when the London Times car guy tested first one and then another, um, there were a few problems.  But for $468 million they should be able to come up with a sedan.

The Chevy Volt is still much hyped by the Obama administration, and if they can get the price ($40,000) down, the  miles it can go up (40 mi.) on a charge, cover the nation with stations where one can plug in to get recharged less than 40 miles apart, and come up with new sources of energy to make the necessary electricity,  then all will be well, if GM can survive long enough to sell one that anybody wants to buy.

The problem is that the Obama administration is attempting to bankrupt the coal companies, deny nuclear permits, deny coal-fired power plant permits, and rely on “clean” wind farms which produce electricity only when the wind blows, which is definitely not all the time.

When the wind does not blow at the right speed, or when it does, there must be full-time back-up from a regular power plant.  Thus if you are depending on wind power you need more power plants, coal-fired or gas-fired, not fewer.  Wind, solar and geothermal are not cost-effective, cannot produce energy at all without vast subsidies, and there is no indication that they can ever become cost-effective.

But I wish Tesla well, I’m just not sure I understand why taxpayers should finance their experiments.

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention the $1.6 billion loan to Nissan to develop electric cars.  I got all wrapped up in the $468 million and completely forgot the $1.6 billion.  My bad.

The Sheer Stupidity Simply Boggles the Mind. by The Elephant's Child


If a tree falls in the forest in Brazil, or Indonesia, will American taxpayers be paying for it? According to a little-noticed provision in the pending climate change bill the plan is ” to pay companies billions of dollars not to chop down trees around the world, as a way to reduce global warming.”

The very liberal Center for American Progress says it will be pricey. “By 2020, the U.S. could be spending $4 billion on international offsets.”

“Supporters of the legislation counter that the plan recognizes the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to curb global warming — in the United States and beyond.  Supporting ways to keep trees alive or plant new trees, wherever those trees are located helps the effort, they say.”

I’m beginning to think that term limits are a very good idea. For other posts on global warming or more euphemistically “climate change”, enter either term in the search function just above Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.

Why Are We Allowing Congress to Commit American Economic Suicide? by The Elephant's Child
June 23, 2009, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Freedom | Tags: , ,

There are big differences in the way that Conservatives and Liberals address policy.  Liberals are sure that things are better done by a wise and authoritative government, namely themselves.

Conservatives, believing firmly in free enterprise, competition and learning from mistakes remain unconvinced that government is wise and don’t care much for being bossed around.

Liberals, having decided that a policy is a good, spend great amounts of time determining just how to pass the policy into law.  Horse-trading, bullying, threatening, focus groups to see what language is most appealing to voters.

Conservatives study the policy to understand the costs and benefits and the consequences that it might entail down the line.  They study the history of such policies to see how effective they have been elsewhere.

President Obama said in today’s press conference “the House of Representatives is moving ahead on historic legislation that will transform the way we produce and use energy in America.  It …will finally spark a clean energy transformation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and confront the carbon pollution that threatens our planet.”

To be as polite as I can, this is hogwash.  Carbon is not pollution, but an element essential to life. Barack Obama should have learned that in high school biology.  The carbon emitted by internal combustion engines, SUV exhausts, coal-fired power plants, human breathing and cow burps is not the cause of the small amount of warming over the last century.  There is no climate crisis. The earth is always warming and cooling, and it has not warmed since 1998.

The rising sea levels, submerged Manhattan, killer hurricanes, melting Arctic and Antarctica, all the disasters arise from flawed computer climate models that cannot predict anything because they are programmed with guesses and estimates and output nonsense.  The legislation, in its entirity, would not reduce climate temperatures at all.

The President went on to say: “This energy bill will create a set of incentives that will spur the development of new sources of energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal power….these incentives will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy.  And that will lead to the development of new technologies that lead to new industries that could create millions of new jobs in America — jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.”

“At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.”

Does he actually believe these things, or are these just focus-group-tested phrases?  Carbon emissions are not dangerous, do not contaminate the water nor pollute the air.

Wind energy is a proven job killer, in Spain killing two jobs for every one “created”.  Wind blows only occassionally, seldom when it it most needed, and requires backup from an ordinary power plant when the wind does not blow.  Solar is not cost effective.  When a wind farm or large solar array is planned, the environmental activists who demanded clean energy quickly file suit to prevent harm to an endangered species or because they make too much noise.  Environmental activists want to remove the blight of humanity from mother earth.

Economist Martin Feldstein says that the cap-and-trade program would raise the average family’s cost by $1,600 a year.  Heritage Foundation says $1,870.  Nancy Pelosi wants the House of Representatives to pass this Economic Suicide bill by Friday.  It’s time to get on the phone, and contact your Representative by calling the House switchboard at (202) 225-3121.  Tell your Representative to vote No on H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. You can also send your Member an e-mail by going to and following instructions to find your Representative’s website.

Liberals have trouble with basic economic common sense.  You would think that they would understand that raising taxes or consumer costs during a recession is not a winning policy.  When tax receipts go down because so many are unemployed, their natural reaction seems to be to raise taxes rather than cut expenses.  Go figure.

The Amazing Benefits of the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill. by The Elephant's Child
June 9, 2009, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

The Heritage Foundation reported on the benefits of the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill.  “Nothing.  Zip. Zero. Zilch.  There are no benefits for the American people in the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill.”  Now that’s plain speaking.

Mr. Waxman (L.) and Mr. Markey (R.) have crafted a bill — which Mr. Waxman admits that he hasn’t read and he doesn’t really know what’s in the bill — which will do nothing whatsoever to prevent ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change.’

Christopher Monckton costed out the Climate Bill. ” To prevent a “global warming” of only 1° Fahrenheit, we must forego the emission of 1 – 10 trillion tons of CO2.  Waxman/Markey states that CO2 emissions in the US by the year 2050 will be cut by five-sixths of today’s 5 billion tons.  That would prevent just 0.0005 – 0.005 Fahrenheit degrees of warming a year or 1° F. in 200 – 2000 years — at a cost of $180 billion a year.”

SPPI president, Robert Ferguson says:

According to Monckton’s calculations, cutting ‘global warming’ by the 7°s F. that the UN predicts will happen this century would cost $250 trillion to $2,500 trillion.  That is beyond expensive, particularly when you find that ‘global warming’ is not happening anyway.

But never fear, whatever is wrong, the Democrat Congress will endeavor to fix it; and if they have time they might even read the bill.

Global Warming Meets a Basic Cost-Benefits Test, and Loses. by The Elephant's Child

Bjørn Lomborg is director of the Denmark-based think tank The Copenhagen Consensus Center, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.  He gave a talk today at the Manhattan Institute. The transcript was published in The New York Post. Lomborg is a professor of statistics, and was at one time, a member of Greenpeace.

Here, he has some important information for politicians, and the rest of us:

IN the heart of a financial crisis, most of us carefully consider every last purchase. It is important that politicians do the same when making vital policy decisions.

Instead of focusing on initiatives with the greatest benefits, they tend to be swayed by those with the most vocal advocates. Take the Kyoto Protocol. Its $180 billion annual global cost would perhaps be worth the investment if it made any substantial difference to global warming. But even if Kyoto were implemented for the rest of this century, it would cut temperatures by just 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

This doesn’t pass a basic cost-benefit test. The investment would cause more immediate financial hardship than eventual good. There are many better uses for the money.

That point was underscored by Copenhagen Consensus 2008, a project I designed to champion the use of economic tools in international aid and development policy.

For two years before Copenhagen Consensus 2008, teams of experts wrote papers identifying the best ways to solve the world’s biggest problems: air pollution, conflict, disease, inadequate education, global warming, malnutrition and hunger, sanitation and water challenges, subsidies and trade barriers, terrorism and gender-disparity issues. They identified the investments that would best tackle each challenge and outlined the costs and benefits of each.

A group of prestigious economists — including five Nobel laureates — gathered and examined this research. They took the long menu of investments and turned it into a prioritized list of opportunities. At the bottom — the least cost-effective investment the world could make to respond to any of these problems — was dealing with climate change through immediate CO2 cuts, as the Kyoto Protocol attempts.

At the top was the provision of micronutrients — particularly vitamin A and zinc — to undernourished children in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

For just $60 million annually, we could reach 80 percent of the world’s 140 million or so undernourished children. The economic gains from improving their lives would eventually clear $1 billion a year.

For another $286 million, we could iodize salt and fortify basic food with iron for 80 percent of the children who are at risk of stunting and poor development because they’re going without.

Interestingly — and perhaps predictably — many of the economists’ top-ranked solutions were to problems that don’t attract many headlines or much celebrity attention. The simple act of deworming children in developing countries, for example, would improve nourishment and allow some of the world’s most disadvantaged kids to learn more and get better jobs later.

Copenhagen Consensus 2008 showed that we know how to stop people from dying from malnutrition, pollution, HIV/AIDS and malaria. Solving these problems would open a world of opportunities, including allowing a disadvantaged community to grow, develop and care about longer-term issues like global warming.

What we need to do now is cheap and simple. It’s mostly a question of getting what’s needed (micronutrients, cleaner forms of fuel, free condoms and mosquito nets) to those in need. Death tolls remain high because we have limited resources, and these problems are not considered our biggest concerns.

Economic tools such as cost-benefit analysis and prioritization will never offer the last word in public policy debate — and nor should they — but they can provide a vital input for decision-makers.

The process that worked for Copenhagen Consensus 2008 — and that encouraged philanthropic organizations to invest more in malnutrition — is also relevant for national and state governments and city administrations.

Prioritization is difficult for any politician, whether a member of the Obama team or a city administrator. The project would give a city like New York the opportunity to focus on the spending priorities that achieve the most. Vested interests and lobbying groups create a lot of noise. Copenhagen Consensus sets aside that noise, so that the costs and benefits of competing options can be seriously considered side-by-side.

The recession that has made life more difficult also offers an opportunity for us all to rethink our priorities — and ensure that each dollar spent achieves as much as possible.

The Search for Scientific Truth Sometimes Wanders into Strange Paths. by The Elephant's Child
May 6, 2009, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Global Warming, Humor | Tags: ,

Here is clear evidence for the real cause of global warming climate change: (Click image to enlarge)


The rise in global temperatures since 1880 closely correlates with increases in postal charges, sparking alarm that perhaps CO2 has been usurped as the main driver of climate change.

The U.S. Postal Service is poised to raise the charges by 2¢ to a total of 44¢ for a first class stamp, on May 11, 2009.  According to Jo Nova, the Postal Action Network (PAN) has already sprung into existence this afternoon and plans a boycott campaign of the new 44¢ Homer Simpson stamp.

(h/t: Jo Nova)

Another Little Speed Bump on the Road to Utopia. by The Elephant's Child
May 6, 2009, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Law, Progressivism | Tags: ,

President Obama wants car makers to put a million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) on American roads by 2015.  At least eight big automakers are gearing up to sell new types of electric cars.

There are some basic questions, however.  Where do you plug your car in?  GM’s Volt only goes 40 miles on a charge.  I know lots of people who drive more than 40 miles a day.  New York and Washington city-dwellers are unaccustomed to the big distances in the Western U.S .  When do you plug it in?  When you get home and everyone is cooking dinner, turning on the lights as it is getting dark? Hah!

Do we have enough new power plants to produce all this electricity?  It is not going to come from Obama’s vaunted wind and solar energy.  Hydropower dams are being torn out, not rebuilt.  Environmentalists are vehemently opposed  to nuclear energy, though it is the cleanest, safest, most environmentally sound energy on offer. Massive server arrays demand more and more energy.  Who is going to build all the “plug-in stations” and where do you put them?  How long does it take to recharge a battery at a plug -in station?

In Great Britain a study by the Campaign for Better Transport found that changing to electric vehicles might require increasing the country’s electricity capacity by 2.4 to 3.5 times.  Britain is not very big, and distances aren’t very long.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory looked into the problem.  “It seems that the general excitement with the idea of PHEVs springs from the perceived possibility of a ‘free lunch’,” states the latest study.  “There are some concerns about whether this lunch is really free.”

If you are trying to eliminate “carbon dioxide pollution” with electric cars, but require 3 or 4 times as many  coal-fired power plants — which Obama has promised to bankrupt — just where is the electricity going to come from?  That massive solar array in the Mojave Desert is opposed by environmentalist organizations — the very people who are so enthusiastic about solar energy— and Senator Diane Feinstein.

People who are enthralled by their own good intentions can really screw things up if they pay no attention to the consequences of their actions.

Those Terrible Twisty Lightbulbs Are in The News Again. by The Elephant's Child

There are health hazards to twisty light bulbs. Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which makes up part of a compact fluorescent light bulb. There has been a dramatic surge in demand for the CFL bulbs which has been set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years. In the U.S. the bulbs become compulsory in 2014. I explained some of the problems here.

The bulbs are all made in China. ( So much for not sending American jobs overseas). The increased demand has led to the reopening in China of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.

Courts, regulators, lawyers and Doctors in China are paying closer attention to the possible impact on public health in an industry that portrays itself as environmentally friendly, but depends entirely on toxic mercury.  All in the cause of preventing CO2 emissions that are of no moment to anyone but the IPCC climate model programmers.

There will be health hazards for members of Congress when the public discovers that they will have to replace most light fixtures in their homes, most lamps, and forego the brighter light of 3-way bulbs, dimmers, spots and any light not emitted by a twisty bulb.


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