Monthly Archives: March 2012

Earth Hour: A Dissent


by Ross McKitrickRoss McKitrick, Professor of Economics, Univer... , Professor of Economics, University of Guelph, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Ross McKitrick
Professor of Economics
University of Guelph, Canada.

Steyn: Lethally leisured

[Ed. note: from last fall, but still relevant, if not more so.]

Lethally leisured

by Mark Steyn, October 17, 2011

Laframboise: The Royal Society’s blatherfest

The Royal Society’s Blatherfest

by Donna Laframboise, March 24, 2012

A “major international conference” will begin on Monday in London. It’s being hosted by the Royal Society, the oldest science academy in the world and previously the most prestigious.

But over the past decade the Royal Society has abandoned its longstanding neutrality and become a political lobby group.

The depths to which this formerly esteemed body organization has now sunk may be seen on the website for this conference. A number of official blog posts appear there, including one written by the event’s co-chair, Mark Stafford-Smith. It declares:

our science tells us that the Earth has entered the ‘Anthropocene’, a geological era in which human impacts are now as important in driving how the planet operates as geological and astronomical forces have been in past eras. [backup link]

But this is nonsense. As I observed last August, a scientific body called the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) is responsible for naming geological eras. It has made no such determination that a new one has begun.

This strange claim can be traced back to informal musings a decade ago by atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen. He is not a geologist. He’s doesn’t belong to the ICS. He has no more authority to announce the beginning of a new geological era than I do.

The Anthropocene is 100% a political statement. It amounts to a PR strategy on the part of activist scientists. It is a trap laid for gullible journalists. That the co-chair of a conference hosted by the Royal Society has the audacity to suggest that science tells us we’ve entered a new geological era demonstrates not only that science has left the building, it was never there in the first place.

Other conference blog posts are equally disheartening. In one, Liese Coulter – a PR/media relations professional  – tells us that she thinks her husband drives their car too much so she “made him” pay for carbon offsets [backup link].

In another, Sunita Narain – who is described as an Indian environmentalist and political activist – calls the United States “the world’s biggest climate renegade” and says that Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada are “other big polluting guns.”

She also makes reference to US “Republicans – Neanderthals who do not believe climate change is real” (backup link). Evidently Ms Narain’s mother never taught her that, when you’re trying to change other people’s minds, publicly denigrating them is rarely a successful strategy.

In yet another conference blog post, “independent environmental educator and musician” Mike Edwards declares:

We face a stark choice: we can either carry on destroying the planet to the point of catastrophe, or we can change our habits…we need to…reconnect with nature and shift towards a value system that doesn’t place material wealth first. [backup link]

Edwards, who considers himself “a climate change expert,” will be part of a panel discussion titled Making the vision reality III – creative, connected science. According to the conference website:

This session will make the case for a new, holistic thinking paradigm that allows space for multiple scientific, artistic and cultural discourses to achieve the vision of a sustainable world. It will be fun, energetic and participatory but will be based on the message that novel thinkers are needed to provide transformatory ideas to address global environmental challenges. [bold added]

Yeah, that sounds like the sort of thing to which the Royal Society should be linking its scientific reputation.

Still another blog post was written by Eva Flinkerbusch, who edits the newsletter and manages the website for the Global Water System Project. She

  • refers to the “alarming state” of freshwater resources
  • declares that the “problem of water scarcity is going to escalate worldwide in the foreseeable future”
  • and discusses “the need for changes in…governance systems”

Her post closes with the typical activist’s rallying cry: “Action has to be taken now.” (backup link)

But matters don’t quite end there. Blogger Bo Kjellén, Sweden’s former chief climate negotiator, pompously opines that “there have to be significant changes in the way our societies and economies operate” – and suggests that humanity’s use of fossil fuels may be analogous to selling our soul to the devil (backup link).

Yvo de Boer – who has served as the UN’s climate chief (and whose academic credentials are apparently in social work) – spends his own blog post lecturing private businesses about how they should run their affairs. In his words:

  • “Companies need to develop resilience…”
  • “businesses must manage risks…” [bold added]
  • “businesses need to fully assess and understand future sustainability risks…”
  • “…strategic planning and strategy development are needed as well…”
  • “businesses needs [sic] to understand the root causes of what affects their operations…” [bold added; backup link]

So if I’m running a business that’s coping with a depressed economy, if I don’t know whether I’ll be able to make payroll next week, does anyone really suppose I’m going to spend five seconds worrying about what a UN bureaucrat thinks I need to do?

I mean, honestly. A lot of money is being spent on this conference. They’re expecting 2,500 people to attend – almost all of whom will arrive there via fossil-fueled modes of transportation.

This is being billed as the “largest gathering of global change and sustainability scientists prior to the Rio+20 Earth Summit” (italics added). But as we can see, many of the individuals involved aren’t scientists at all. They’re politicians and bureaucrats. They’re communications managers and musicians. Most of all, they’re political activists. In some cases, this fact is self-admitted. In others, it’s revealed by how they behave and what they say.

That this conference is being hosted by the Royal Society is nothing short of scandalous.

 

Visit Donna’s blog and order a copy of her book.  You need to read it.      

“Why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can’t be trusted.”

Palin: Breitbart is here.

Palin: Breitbart Is Here
Sarah Palin, March 16, 2012

There is a new street art poster that’s being emailed around and will no doubt eventually be spotted on a street corner near you. It’s a gritty black and white image of Andrew Breitbart looking both battle-worn and ever vigilant with the caption: “BREITBART IS HERE.”

Those three words express the instant connection many of us feel for our fallen friend. They express our identification with him, and our need to continue his fight for the good of our republic.

With the death of Breitbart, the conservative movement didn’t just lose a General – we lost an entire Special Forces Division. But he didn’t leave us without the tools and the knowledge we need to fight. This website – Breitbart 2.0 – is the culmination of his study of the technology and aesthetics of new media. The team Breitbart assembled under the leadership of Steve Bannon, Larry Solov, and Joel Pollak will advance his mission with courage and integrity.

Breitbart’s most immediate mission was the belated vetting of Barack Obama. This obviously is an issue very near and dear to my heart.

During the ’08 campaign, the same media that reported breathlessly about an old used tanning bed I purchased to get some sun during the dark Alaskan winter, couldn’t be bothered to investigate Barack Obama’s associations, statements or even his voting record as a state senator. Suntans and what I wore on the campaign trail were more important than Obama’s political background. Unbelievable.

But when you come to think of it, the media didn’t investigate either of our actual political records very closely.

Barack Obama and I both served in political office in states with a serious corruption problem. Though there is a big difference between serving as the CEO of a city, then a state, and regulating domestic energy resources, and being a liberal Community Organizer, bear with me on the comparison. The difference between my record and Barack Obama’s is that I fought the corrupt political machine my entire career (and I have twenty years of scars to prove it) on the local, state, and national level. But Obama didn’t fight the corruption he encountered. He went along with it to advance his career. Graft, cronyism, and quid pro quo are the methods of the Chicago political machine from which he emerged.

You would think the media – those watchdogs of the public trust – would be interested in this. But they refused to vet Barack Obama. With tingles up their legs, they shielded him.

If the media had done their job of vetting him, we wouldn’t have been shocked that within days after Obama’s election, his close political associate Rod Blagojevich was caught trying to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

If the media had done their job of vetting him, we wouldn’t be astonished to see all the billion dollar green energy kickbacks going to his campaign cronies as the nation heads towards bankruptcy.

If the media had done their job of vetting him, we wouldn’t be surprised that Obama brought these same Chicago “pay-to-play” practices to the White House.

This corruption was entirely predictable. But the mainstream media, who work under our Constitutional right of freedom of the press which our sons and daughters fight in war zones today to protect, dropped the ball and failed America by refusing to vet their chosen candidate.

So, as Breitbart declared in his last CPAC speech, we – the everyday patriotic citizens of the United States – will do the vetting the media refused to do.

This is a first step. Ultimately, Breitbart’s goal was to expose what he called the corrupt Democrat Media Complex. He wanted to break it up because he understood how the left uses its dominance of the mainstream media and pop culture to advance its objectives and marginalize its political foes.

Standing up and defending those who are being unfairly targeted and maligned was also the mission. Is it any wonder Breitbart titled his autobiography “Righteous Indignation” when you consider his deep-seated sense of justice and fair play? He was on the side of the little guy and ready to run to the aid of those who needed it. He possessed that old fashioned virtue of courage, compassion, and decency that we once called chivalry. He inspired that in others.

When you’re in the political arena serving for the right reasons and taking flak from all sides, there is nothing more discouraging than when your fellow conservatives sit on their thumbs or worse yet, join in the attacks. Breitbart understood this because he experienced it himself at times, so he was determined to stand by others in need.
He was a genius at new media, but his real gift was that he was fearless at a time when too many people are afraid and are retreating. Courage inspires courage. Fearlessness emboldens others to follow your lead.

Lately conservatives are picking up the mantle from Breitbart’s absence on the air and in places like Twitter. Watch for tweet jousts with liberal outlets like the weird and creepy Media Matters and re-tweets of leftwing hate using the Twitter hashtag “#IAmAndrewBreitbart” as the battle cry.

Soon we’ll see others imitating Breitbart’s gift for disbanding leftwing protests by simply asking the rent-a-mob, “Hey, what are you protesting?”

And I am confident we’ll soon see more conservatives boldly come out of the shadows in Hollywood without fear of retribution.

The task may seem daunting, but a whole new generation of conservatives has been inspired. I’ve seen it first hand. When my daughter Bristol saw the video of Breitbart’s speech at a Tea Party rally in Madison, Wisconsin, she was fired up. She turned to me and said, “Breitbart is cool!”

Yes, he is cool. And “Breitbart Is Here.”

Now let the vetting begin.

Sarah Palin is the former governor of Alaska and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee.

Chen: New Research Suggests Cap and Trade Programs Do Not Provide Sufficient Incentives for Energy Technology Innovation

New Research Suggests Cap and Trade Programs Do Not Provide Sufficient Incentives for Energy Technology Innovation

March 15, 2012
Allan Chen (510) 486-4210  A_Chen@lbl.gov

Cap and trade programs to reduce emissions do not inherently provide incentives to induce the private sector to develop innovative technologies to address climate change, according to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In fact, said author Margaret Taylor, a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who conducted the study while an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, the success of some cap and trade programs in achieving predetermined pollution reduction targets at low cost seems to have reduced incentives for research and development that could help develop more appropriate pollution control targets. Taylor is a scientist in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab.

“Policymakers rarely see with perfect foresight what the appropriate emissions targets are to protect the public health and environment—the history is that these targets usually need to get stricter,” said Taylor. “Yet policymakers also seldom set targets they don’t have evidence that industry can meet. This is where R&D that can lead to the development of innovative technologies over the longer term is essential.”

In the study, Taylor explored the relationship between innovation and cap and trade programs (CTPs). She used empirical data from the world’s two most successful CTPs, the U.S. national market for sulfur dioxide (SO2) control and the northeast and mid-Atlantic states’ market for nitrogen oxide (NOx) control. (Respectively, Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Ozone Transport Commission/NOx Budget Program.)

Taylor’s research shows that before trading began for these CTPs, analysts overestimated how difficult it would be for emissions sources to achieve targets, in a pattern frequently observed in environmental health, safety, and energy efficiency regulation, including all of the world’s CTPs. This was seen in overestimates of the value of allowances, which are permits to release a certain volume of emissions under a CTP. If an entity can reduce emissions cheaply, they can either sell these allowances for whatever price they can get on the market or they can bank these allowances to meet later emissions restrictions.

The cap-and-trade programs Taylor studied exhibited lower-than-expected allowance prices, in part because program participants adopted an unexpected range of approaches for reducing emissions sources in the lead-up to trading. A large bank of allowances grew in response, particularly in the SO2 program, signaling that allowance prices would remain relaxed for many years.

But this low-price message did not cause the policy targets in the CTPs to change, despite evidence that it would not only be cheaper than expected to meet these targets, but it would also be more important to public health to tighten the targets, based on scientific advances. The lower-than-expected price signal did cause emissions sources to reassess their clean technology investments, however, and led to significant cancellations, Taylor reported.

Meanwhile, the low price also signaled to innovators working to develop clean technologies – which are often distinct from the emissions sources that hold allowances – that potential returns to their research and development  programs, which generally have uncertain and longer-term payoffs, would be lower than expected.

This effect also helps explain the study’s finding that patenting activity, the dominant indicator of commercially-oriented research and development, peaked before these CTPs were passed and then dropped once allowance markets began operating, reaching low levels not seen since national SO2 and NOx regulation began in 1970.

“There are usually relatively cheap and easy things to do at the start of any new environmental policy program,” said Taylor, who specializes in policy analysis, environmental and energy policy, and innovation. “But if doing these things has the tradeoff of dampening the incentives for longer-term innovation, there can be a real problem, particularly when dramatic levels of technological change are needed, such as in the case of stabilizing the global climate.”

###

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

More information:

WUWT: Finally somebody comes right out and says it: climate + world governance is a match made in green heaven

[Ed. note: There's plenty of additional reading in the comments to this post at WUWT]

Finally somebody comes right out and says it: climate + world governance is a match made in green heaven

To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers.

Skeptics get scoffed at when we say the burdensome regulations that have been and have been sought to be imposed by the alarm over global warming are just a tool to secure a larger governance control. In today’s society, if you control how energy is generated, used, and tax, you pretty much control the modern world. People will do almost anything to keep that computer, iPhone, and electric heat and appliances.

Now in Scientific American, one writer just lays it all out for us to see, pulling no punches.

Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe

Almost six years ago, I was the editor of a single-topic issue on energy for Scientific American that included an article by Princeton University’s Robert Socolow that set out a well-reasoned plan for how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below a planet-livable threshold of 560 ppm.

If I had it to do over, I’d approach the issue planning differently, my fellow editors permitting. I would scale back on the nuclear fusion and clean coal, instead devoting at least half of the available space for feature articles on psychology, sociology, economics and political science. Since doing that issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the technical details are the easy part. It’s the social engineering that’s the killer. Moon shots and Manhattan Projects are child’s play compared to needed changes in the way we behave.

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?

Read it all here

Palin(Bristol): Mr. President, When Should I Expect Your Call?

[Ed. note: To quote Ben Flajnik: "sick burn!". Further commentary on Ms. Palin's theme, Libby Sternberg ]

Mr. President, When Should I Expect Your Call?

Dear President Obama,

You don’t know my telephone number, but I hope your staff is busy trying to find it. Ever since you called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut, I figured I might be next.  You explained to reporters you called her because you were thinking of your two daughters, Malia and Sasha.  After all, you didn’t want them to think it was okay for men to treat them that way:

“One of the things I want them to do as they get older is engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” you said.  “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

And I totally agree your kids should be able to speak their minds and engage the culture.  I look forward to seeing what good things Malia and Sasha end up doing with their lives.

But here’s why I’m a little surprised my phone hasn’t rung.  Your $1,000,000 donor Bill Maher has said reprehensible things about my family.  He’s made fun of my brother because of his Down’s Syndrome. He’s said I was “f—-d so hard a baby fell out.”  (In a classy move, he did this while his producers put up the cover of my book, which tells about the forgiveness and redemption I’ve found in God after my past – very public — mistakes.)

If Maher talked about Malia and Sasha that way, you’d return his dirty money and the Secret Service would probably have to restrain you.  After all, I’ve always felt you understood my plight more than most because your mom was a teenager.  That’s why you stood up for me when you were campaigning against Sen. McCain and my mom — you said vicious attacks on me should be off limits.

Yet I wonder if the Presidency has changed you.  Now that you’re in office, it seems you’re only willing to defend certain women.  You’re only willing to take a moral stand when you know your liberal supporters will stand behind you.

But…

What if you did something radical and wildly unpopular with your base and took a stand against the denigration of all women… even if they’re just single moms? Even if they’re Republicans?

I’m not expecting your SuperPAC to return the money.  You’re going to need every dime to hang on to your presidency.  I’m not even really expecting a call.  But would it be too much to expect a little consistency?  After all, you’re President of all Americans, not just the liberals.

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