American Elephants


Another word about the polar bears. by The Elephant's Child

Polar Bear Cub

Advances in DNA research point to a change in thinking about the evolution of the polar bear.

The stories revealed by ancient DNA are not all dismal.  Genetic study of polar bear fossils predicts a better fate for the endangered species.

Before 2007, it was thought that polar bears evolved from the brown bear fairly recently in the planet’s history.  But three years ago, a DNA study of polar bear fossils showed that the polar bear originated nearly 130,000 years ago.  That means the species survived the last interglacial period of global warming.

The discovery gives MacPhee hope about the polar bear’s fate in the coming decades.  “Its possible they will survive, even though they will suffer.” he said.

Well, yes, since it was much warmer during the last interglacial period, and far colder during the little ice age.  And, since polar bears are not endangered but multiplying nicely, in spite of all the environmental activist hype, we need not be too surprised that they have survived the less than one degree of warming that we have so far suffered in the current “global warming” panic.  Especially now that it has cooled.

The environmentalist hype about bears, usually accompanied by photographs of cute baby bears like the one above, has been intended to prevent drilling for oil in the arctic.  The designation of the bears as a “threatened” species is a bureaucratic misstep.  Environmentalist activists are determined to prevent the use of fossil fuels, and will go to extreme lengths to accomplish that.

Since this DNA confirmation that polar bears have survived climate both much warmer and much colder than the present misplaced panic has been available for three years, it might have affected the threatened designation, if the media had thought it worth mentioning.



They said they would, but no they won’t…. by The Elephant's Child

The War in Georgia

Russia agreed to pull out of South Ossetia, a cease-fire in the Georgian War, but, of course, they are doing no such thing. They are digging in a little deeper. In Poti, a port on the Black Sea, the Russians have sunk all Georgian naval and patrol vessels, and have been systematically destroying port facilities. They are far outside the borders of South Ossetia. The cease-fire deal calls for both Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions they held before fighting erupted on August 8.

The media seems to have accepted Russian propaganda, as usual.

The War in the House of Representatives

First she says she will and then she won’t. She will consider opening “portions”, but probably include little remedies that fit all her lies. Opening the Strategic Reserve, creating green jobs, curbs on non-existent speculation, all the loony leftist ideas. We need to increase the pressure on the Speaker of the House. She has created the worst record of any speaker in my lifetime, and with an approval rating of 9%, it can’t get much lower.

Do you suppose that Speaker Pelosi’s big investment in Boone Pickens’ big wind energy play “Clean Energy Fuels Corporation has anything to do with her insistence on subsidies for wind energy?



The Energy Gap, and what to do about it… by The Elephant's Child

Nancy Pelosi called plans to drill for more oil “a hoax.” She called for President Bush to release oil from the Strategic Reserve. She claimed that drilling wouldn’t help since it would take too long. She blamed high prices on speculators. She blamed oil companies. She said that the oil companies had 68 million acres that they weren’t drilling on. She demanded to sue OPEC. I’m sure I’ve missed several of her little stories. She now says she’ll allow a vote on drilling for more crude to come to the floor of the House. And I really believe her, don’t you?

To understand Nancy Pelosi and Harry “oil is dirty” Reid’s stubborn resistance to oil drilling, building new refineries, building nuclear energy plants, and their enthusiasm for ethanol, solar and wind, you have to understand from whence comes “progressive” money.

One thing that “Progressives” do especially well is to organize into groups. They have meetings and write grant proposals, organize more, do financial studies, negotiate, do focus groups, poll testing, and write more grant proposals. And they get huge amounts of money from liberal foundations.

“Progressives” come in many varieties, there are Environmental Progressives, Labor Progressives, Social Justice Progressives, Anti-Globalization Progressives, Anti-Corporate Progressives, Anti-Capitalist Progressives, Post-National Progressives, and Anti-War Progressives, and I’m sure there are other groupings.

Very high on the list for Environmental Progressives is ending our reliance on (they say addiction to ) fossil fuels. They believe that most of the pollution in the world comes from “dirty” oil and gas. They believe that “dirty” oil and gas is causing runaway global warming which may end life on earth. They want to stop all development, curb consumerism. reject modernism, and end industrialism and capitalism to start with. Does this sound loony? The more extreme want to reduce human population, and return to a “simpler” time.

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund took out full-page ads in the Washington Post and other newspapers to blast Offshore drilling for oil as “George W. Bush’s Gasoline Price Elixir” that is “100% Snake Oil”. It urges visitors to their website to send a letter to their members of Congress that says “I am not buying the lie…that sacrificing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and America’s coastal waters to oil dilling would make a real difference in gas prices — either today or twenty years from today!” It adds “With just three percent of the world’s oil reserves, our nation doesn’t have enough oil to impact the global market or drill our way to lower prices at the pump.” Here you have the ideas that are reproduced in Harry and Nancy’s playbook.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a long history of exaggeration, misrepresentation and lies. Remember the Alar scare, when all apples were removed from grocery stores? The scare made a bundle for NRDC, and cost the apple growers over $250 million for no reason at all as Alar proved to be perfectly safe. Then there was their swordfish scare.

This was too much for even the Washington Post. The United States has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves only when one is speaking of Known oil reserves, which were last measured before Congress imposed a moratorium on drilling in 1981. Technology and techniques have changed, and estimates have ballooned, but they have to be able to measure to compute today’s known reserves.

Only when pumping finally begins, is a lease classified as “producing”, which with a little twisting turns into the statement that “Oil companies aren’t using the leases they already have”. Environmental impact statements, sensitive resource development plans, oil spill recovery plans, reports filed, exploration begun, environmental lawsuits argued, infrastructure built simply don’t count.

Drilling is environmentally dangerous, they said. Between 1993 and 2007 there were 651 spills of all sizes at OCS sites, the equivalent of 1 barrel of oil spilled per 156,900 barrels produced. More oil is released from the ocean floor naturally.

The environmental progressives believe that they can just shut off the oil and gas, and the high prices will force the government to invest billions in “renewable” energy, for that fits their vision of “clean” energy. They want us to have another Apollo Project. If we can go to the moon, we can certainly shift to renewable energy.

Currently, renewable energy contributes just 6% of U.S. energy consumption. Hydropower contributes 44% of the minuscule renewable energy sector, and biomass/waste contributes 46.5%. This latter contribution is from factories that generate their own power from burning the waste from their processes. Both are not really approved by the environmental crowd. Wind contributes 2.3% (of the 6% renewable category), solar contributes 1%, and geothermal contributes 5.6%. This teeny-weeny bit is what they believe will power the American economy if we just fork over enough money.

Problem is, the Apollo Project was a straight engineering feat. Wind only blows part of the time and at the right speed, even in the windiest locations, and must be backed by electric power whenever it doesn’t blow. A solar array requires vast acreage. Biofuels produce less energy than must be used to produce them. And biofuels have already caused severe disruption in the world food supply by putting farmers’ crops in our gas tanks. We must stop trying to grow our fuel. The world population is expected to double by 2050, and we are not producing enough food now to feed them without cutting down forests and putting more land into farming. The most promising technology seems to be fuels produced from algae, which requires far less land, and re-grows quickly.

So what we have here is an Energy Gap. It’s the gap between reality and dreams, between fact and fiction, between the hard lessons of the marketplace and Utopian hope. Progressives are good at “hope”, but not too successful at math, economics and science.

What has been forgotten in most of the debate is that oil is a matter of national security, as the War in Georgia should remind us. Nations all over the world are drilling for oil and natural gas, building nuclear reactors and new refineries, acknowledging the realities of supply and demand. We are stuck with so-called “progressives” who put their political party ahead of their country.

Barack Obama’s “Oil SENSE Act,” introduced in January 2007, is kind of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forbids exploration with modern seismic methods that are about as intrusive as photography on land. Deroy Murdock describes this as engineering a Space Shuttle mission with slide rules. The maps of 20-40 years ago led to 17 percent of offshore wells striking oil. With contemporary surveying, 70% of wells hit oil.

Not much sense here, in spite of clever names. But there’s always hope.



The bare facts about the bear business… by The Elephant's Child

Polar Bear

Are you confused by the whole global warming thing? Do your eyes glaze over and do you quickly turn the page at the very mention? You are not alone.

The Interior Department ruled today that the polar bear will be protected as a threatened species”. The polar bear population across the Arctic has doubled from an estimated 12,000 to 25,000 since 1960. But some scientists believe that sea ice, necessary to the bears, may diminish in future years because of global warming. This is an enormous threat to the American economy.

But there has been no global warming for the past 10 years, and there has been actual cooling for the last 5 years. What’s up with that?

“Threatened” is a term with specific meaning. It means their numbers are declining and the species is likely to become “endangered”. But if the numbers of bears are increasing, then why… Because the predictions of computer climate models said that in future years the sea ice may diminish. But…

But the predictive ability of the climate models is increasingly in question. Meteorologists will tell you that they can predict the weather with some degree of accuracy about 5 to 7 days out. Many scientists say that the climate models have no predictive ability whatsoever.

Well then, how effective is the Endangered Species Act? It’s very hard to tell. In some cases, an order to stop shooting the animal in question meant that the species increased. Many have been de-listed because it turned out that they weren’t threatened or endangered in the first place. Counting species accurately is exceedingly tricky. Do they only live here, or could they live just as well there? Is this a lone population or are there 20 more just over the next ridge? Faulty data is frequent.

The Endangered Species Act is, for many environmentalists, not a law to protect plant and animal species, but a back door means of preventing economic development of some chosen area. It is for others a mythical attachment to the idea of “a balance of nature”, which does not exist, for in nature there is only constant change.

The drive to list the polar bear as endangered is more about drilling for oil in the Arctic than it is about the bears. And the propaganda has been intense. We watched “The Golden Compass” recently, a movie made about a children’s book, a fantasy that includes ice-bears — essentially talking polar bears. To watch the movie, we had to endure a commercial from the WWF featuring a little girl pleading for other children to enlist their parents in the campaign to save the polar bear. Unbelievably crass.

So, it is back to the courts, for both sides have said they will sue.

This is a dreadfully dishonest way to deal with national conundrums. No matter how much the naive urban people dream of a world energized by the power of the sun and the wind and hydroelectric power, it’s not going to happen. At least not in the foreseeable future. And if you don’t like the price of gas, write to the Congressional Democrats — they have a lot to answer for.

In the meantime, no wonder your eyes glaze over…




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