American Elephants


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

rainforest

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 http://www.house.gov 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)

us_post_causes_global_warming3

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.



outed. exposed. revealed. caught with their pants down. by The Elephant's Child

Ordinary people, worldwide, are beginning to have doubts about the whole “global warming” thing. When the Dutch are able to skate on their canals for the first time in fifteen years, the warmist claims begin to seem a little dubious.  Pictures of backyard snow in April in Minneapolis, snow in New Orleans, and in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, cast a little doubt on Al Gore’s claims of a drastically heating planet. A 2009 Rasmussen survey shows that 44 percent of Americans believe that global warming is attributed to long-term planetary trends, and just 38 percent believe that it is caused by human activity.

We have a sun that has gone quiet, with not a single spot for over 600 days, declining global temperatures, no significant warming in the last ten years, and an increasing number of respected scientists who are aware of signs that we might be entering another Maunder Minimum.

Well.  The Warmists have everything invested in convincing the world that global warming is here, hot, and probably the end of life as we know it if we do not give them all our money.  EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the past several  years into why their efforts are faltering.  Not, they are sure, because the whole global warming thing is found to be a fraud, found only in the computer programs of the IPCC.  What is the matter is their “branding”, that is the language in which they present their case.

The term “global warming” turns people off,  “fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes” according to extensive polling and focus groups conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.  EcoAmerica has been conducting research to find new ways to frame environmental issues.

Instead of grim warnings about global warming, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Don’t talk about carbon dioxide, but speak of “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” The term “cap and trade” is confusing; use terms like “cap and cash back” and “pollution reduction refund.

[A summary of the group’s latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations by someone who sat in this week on a briefing intended for government officials and environmental leaders.] Ooops!

So who is ecoAmerica? Their board of directors includes representatives of the Environmental Defense Fund, The Sierra Club, Fenton Communications, and Daryl Hannah among others.  Among their advisers are representatives of MoveOn.org, the Trust for Public Land, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, all far-left groups. If you are curious about any of these groups, you can check them out at Activist Cash or Discover the Networks.

A Pew Research Center survey found global warming dead last among 20 voter concerns.  The answer, says Robert Perkowitz, President and founder of ecoAmerica, is to reframe the issue in different language.

“Energy efficiency” makes people think of shivering in the dark.  Instead, it is more effective to speak of “saving money for a more prosperous future.”

In fact, said the group’s focus groups and surveys, it is time to drop the term “the environment” and talk about “the air we breathe, the water our children drink,” Let’s be clear.  Everyone advocating a political position puts their policy in the best language they can. This is why we no longer have a War on Terror, but an “Overseas Contingency Operation.”  This is why “global warming” suddenly reappeared as “climate change.”

The approach is cynical.  It is the use of advertising techniques to manipulate public opinion.  And manipulate is the key word.  This is the approach of community organizing — manipulating public opinion.

In this case it is particularly deceptive.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to life.  It is what we exhale every time we breathe, and what plants take in as natural fertilizer.  CO2 does not cause global warming, it is merely a trace gas in the atmosphere. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor (clouds). The greatest portion of the CO2 in the atmosphere arises from the sea, and the amount from human influence is almost too small to measure.

We are urged to eliminate CO2 from the world.  Eliminate life? We are urged to turn for our energy needs to wind and solar energy in order to eliminate the need for “foreign oil.” But neither wind nor solar are capable of meeting our energy (electricity) needs, no matter how much subsidized.  Environmentalists oppose nuclear energy, which can.  And none of these have the slightest effect on our transportation needs, which can only be satisfied by petroleum until there is a scientific breakthrough in batteries.  And by the way, our air is clean and our water is pure.

You might want to watch for the use of  “improved language” in the mainstream media and congressional pronouncements.

(emphasis mine)



The H1N1 flu strain by The Elephant's Child

The Swine, Mexican, H1N1 flu, will be relatively mild scientists say, according to genetic data, and won’t be as deadly as even the average winter flu. Scientists are working on a new vaccine, but it won’t be ready until around December.  Because of  Hillary Clinton’s insistence on removing the profit motive from vaccine manufacture, there is now only one company that makes vaccines in the United States.

The World Health Organization says that only 7 8 people worldwide have died from the H1N1 flu.

Janet Napolitano warned youngsters released from schools closed in fear of the flu, that school closure didn’t mean they should go the the mall, but that they should stay home.

Somebody or other announced that the flu was caused by a virus — as the flu always is — and you cannot get it by eating pork chops or bacon.

According to the media, this flu is closely related to Seattle’s own winter storm watches.  All panic, few flakes.



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.




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