On the Blog

The Film Common Core Educrats Don’t Want You to See

Somewhat Reasonable - April 01, 2014, 11:00 AM

It’s crucial you don’t see a free 40-minute documentary film out today or you might get concerned about an effort to control and dramatically reshape every American child’s education. Building the Machine has Common Core right: It’s the biggest reform you know nothing about.

The movie’s ominous background music is a tip-off to its generally negative take on the national curriculum and testing mandates, but that is mostly the fault of Common Core itself and its proponents. Of the many proponents the documentary’s director contacted for an interview, only two agreed to appear in the film.

That’s not a fluke. In my own reporting on the subject, it typically takes months of email and voicemail nagging to get some PR flack to finally refuse to answer my questions, if I get any response at all. And it’s not just me. Last month, a public relations guy for a national schools organization called me to ask if I knew how to get ahold of any of the key Common Core players so he could help them promote it. They wouldn’t answer any of his calls, either.

“‘You are really going to have to work on this Common Core thing if you think that it’s going to be accepted around the country,’” Jim Dunn said he wanted to tell Bill Gates’s foundation. Gates essentially bankrolled Common Core, as the documentary notes. “Calling people names and trivializing their concerns is shooting themselves in the foot.”

Too bad they’re not listening, because he’s right. In response to this movie, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSS) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which received big bucks from Gates to, respectively, create and promote common Core) have decided to again call people names and trivialize their concerns. Oh, and release a counter-documentary and “fact sheets” spinning what they clearly view as a devastating film.

A bunch of Missouri moms came across an email from CCSSO (more at Breitbart) complaining that “The film implies that the Common Core was created through politics, misinformation and corruption.” That’s because this is essentially true. If CCSSO wants to dispute that, it should stop releasing content-less talking points and instead release all the documents, emails, and deliberations related to creating these national mandates to prove that they really did run an open process like, you know, public bodies such as school boards must when they make policy. Unfortunately, the truth makes them look bad, so they have to stick to carefully worded talking points.

That’s probably why, instead of facing straight questions from interviewers who might not already be in the tank for them, Common Core proponents prefer instead to stick to pitched interviews to friendly news organizations, like Bill Gates’s recent one-on-one with George Stephanopoulos. I challenge any Common Core proponent to name one factual error in this movie. No, smears, labels, and insinuations won’t do. I want anyone to quote a factual error. My Twitter feed’s open.

But enough of this manufactured spit fight. How about instead of letting overpaid spinmasters filter Common Core information for you, you actually take a look at the documentary for yourself? It’s free, and it’s only 40 minutes long. That was mercifully short enough for this mom of three kids under age four to be able to see it in just three viewing sessions! Even shorter, here’s a two-page fact sheet for an appetizer.

As for the film itself, it’s likely most folks will agree with its premise: You deserve to know more about the biggest education shift since progressives began centralizing American education in the late 1800s. It matters to everyone, no matter what type of school you send your kids to, or even if you don’t have kids, because the people interviewed for this film charge that Common Core endangers our economy and political freedoms. Their concerns cross political boundaries.

As Building the Machine concludes, no matter where you eventually raise your flag on the topic, it’s important that you get informed and get involved. The more central planners control education, the darker America’s future. For all that, however, there’s still hope. There are still people in this country brave enough to speak truth to power. Some of those people are on this film. And they need you to join them.

(Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the documentary almost a year ago. After that, I have had no involvement with the film besides suggesting other potential interviewees and signing a waiver allowing them to use their recording of me.)

 

[Originally published at The Federalist]

Categories: On the Blog

Section 706, Wild Assumptions, and Regulatory Restraint

Somewhat Reasonable - April 01, 2014, 10:00 AM

I was pleased that Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly accepted my invitation to participate as a keynoter at the Free State Foundation’s Sixth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 18. We engaged in an informative and interesting lunchtime conversation, and I am grateful to Commissioner O’Rielly for indulging my questions.

I’m also grateful that C-SPAN broadcast the entire FSF conference. You can find the video of my conversation with Commissioner O’Rielly here.

I commend to you the entire conversation. But for now I just want to focus on Commissioner O’Rielly’s discussion of Congress’s intended meaning of now-famous Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the post-D.C. Circuit Verizon case world, Section 706 is considered to be an independent source of authority for the FCC to regulate broadband Internet providers (and perhaps other market participants as well, the so-called “edge” providers). Tom Wheeler, the FCC’s Chairman, has announced that the Commission will look to Section 706 for authority as it considers whether to adopt new non-discrimination and no-blocking rules, along with other regulatory actions.

Before taking his seat at the Commission, Commissioner O’Rielly spent almost twenty years in various congressional staff positions. At the time the Telecom Act of 1996 was being drafted, Commissioner O’Rielly served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee staff. According to his account, he was closely involved in the negotiations leading up to passage of the 1996 Act. In other words, as I said during our exchange, Commissioner O’Rielly had a “bird’s eye” view of the drafting process, including that relating to Section 706.

To my mind, this makes what he has to say about his understanding of Section 706 worth contemplating – seriously.

As recounted by Commissioner O’Rielly, in order to accept the court’s (and the FCC’s new) interpretation of what Section 706 means, you would have to make “some wild assumptions.”

·      You would have to believe that a Republican Congress with a deregulatory mandate inserted very vague language into the statute to give complete authority over the Internet and broadband to the FCC, but then didn’t tell a soul. It didn’t show up in the writings, it didn’t show up in the summaries. It didn’t show up in any of the stories at the time.

·      You would have to believe that the conference committee intended to codify Section 706 outside of the Communications Act, thereby separating it from the enforcement provisions of the Act, Title V, but somehow we still expected it to be enforced. [The Communications Act was not amended to include Section 706.]

·      You would have to believe that the congressional committees that went on to do an extensive review of FCC authority afterwards, and even proposed legislation to rein it in, in terms of FCC reauthorization legislation, that they went through that effort, but at the same time they had provided a secret loophole to the Commission to regulate.

·      You would have to believe that when Congress is having extensive debates over the ability to regulate, or the ability to give the Commission authority to regulate net neutrality, at the same time they had already given the Commission this authority.

·      You would have to believe that when Congress did legislate in this space, and more particularly when they legislated on certain edge providers in certain narrow instances mostly related to public safety, you would have to believe that they went through that extensive process, and then it didn’t matter, the fact that they had already given the Commission that complete authority under Section 706.

Commissioner O’Rielly’s conclusion: “It’s mindboggling to believe that all of those assumptions, and there are many more, are true. You would have to suspend your rational thought to get to that point.” [The bullet points above are close to verbatim, but please feel free to listen to Commissioner O'Rielly in his own words directly in the video.]

I don’t want to suggest that Commissioner O’Rielly’s recounting of his personal knowledge of what went on behind the scenes as the 1996 Act was written, itself, should be considered determinative for a court construing Section 706. And I don’t think Commissioner O’Rielly means to suggest that his personal recollections constitute official legislative history. Rather, the importance of what he relates is to show the irrationality – the arbitrariness and capriciousness, if you will, in administrative law terms – of adopting a novel interpretation of Section 706 that necessarily is based on so many implausible assumptions.

Commissioner O’Rielly’s persuasive recounting shows that the court’s – and now, apparently, the FCC Chairman’s – interpretation of Section 706 not only is implausible, but far afield from what was widely understood to be the provision’s original meaning – that the provision was not intended to constitute an independent grant of affirmative regulatory authority. Recall that this was the Commission’s own understanding of Section 706 as well until the agency switched its view after its first foray into net neutrality regulation met with defeat in Comcast Corp. v. FCC.

In providing a convincing account of what Congress intended – and did not intend – Section 706 to mean, Commissioner O’Rielly has performed a valuable service. Even though, for now, the D.C. Circuit panel’s opinion remains the controlling interpretation, it is important to remember that, other than holding unlawful the no-blocking and no-discrimination net neutrality rules, the court did not purport to define the boundaries of the Commission’s Section 706 authority or adjudicate any particular exercises of such authority. The court did not require the agency to adopt any new regulations. Under all the circumstances – and especially the circumstance that there is no evidence of a present market failure or consumer harm resulting from Internet provider practices – there is no reason for the Commission to move forward at this time to adopt new net neutrality or net neutrality-like rules.

Indeed, under the circumstances, and having in mind the doubt cast on the validity of the D.C. Circuit’s Section 706 reasoning by Commissioner O’Rielly’s recounting, shouldn’t this be an occasion for the FCC to exercise some (rare) regulatory humility?

In my view, it should be. The FCC Chairman should announce that the Commission will stand down and, as far as attempts to revive net neutrality regulations go, engage in watchful waiting. To adopt such a posture of regulatory restraint would not be a sign of weakness, but rather of wisdom.

[Originally published at The Free State Foundation]
Categories: On the Blog

The Left’s Ever-Expanding, All-Encompassing Net Neutrality

Somewhat Reasonable - April 01, 2014, 9:00 AM

Network Neutrality is socialism for the Internet – it guarantees everyone equal amounts of nothing.

We’ll let college professor and avowed Marxist (please pardon the redundancy) Robert McChesney identify Net Neutrality’s objective:

“(T)he ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.

How very Hugo Chavez of them.

If you want to use Net Neutrality to end the private sector Web – leaving us all stuck with Government as our sole Internet Service Provider (ISP) – dramatically expanding its definition and reach is a highly useful way to go.

There are two Internet terms we need to rightly define – since the Left is in the word-warping business: “The Last Mile” and “Peering.”

“The Last Mile” refers to your house or business’s connection to the bigger Web – the last stretch of residential road to your place, well off of the main Information Superhighway.

“Peering” is the myriad data-sharing agreements between the myriad different companies on the Superhighway’s multitudinous miles – the World Wide Web’s “backbone.”

If two companies transport roughly equal amounts of data for each other – their Peering deal calls for no charge for either party.  If it starts getting lopsided – the heavier data company pays for the extra freight.

Pretty simple – a fairly basic economic principle.  It costs more to ship five thousand pounds than it does five.

Peering happens – on the fly, all the time.  And there have been Peering deals on the Web for as long as there has been a Web.

Of late some Peering arrangements have become decidedly unequal – mostly because of video.  Video consumes gi-normous amounts of broadband.  The more an online-video-delivery company like Netflix grows – the more unequal their Peering arrangements get.

A Resurgent Netflix Beats Projections, Even Its Own

Netflix Surpasses HBO in U.S. Subscribers

So ISPs are cutting new Peering deals with big data drivers like Netflix to offset the cost of this dramatic inequality.  If they’re shipping five thousand pounds instead of five – they of course should pay more.

Apple Trying To Cut Streaming TV Deal With Comcast

ESPN Eyes Subsidizing Wireless-Data Plans

Comcast and Netflix Reach Deal on Service

Verizon and AT&T Have Netflix Deals in the Works, Too

Except Netflix is balking.  They want to have their dramatically increased freight weight paid for by everyone – except them.

So they are disingenuously claiming that these oh-so-common Peering deals – violate Net Neutrality.

Netflix Blasts Comcast and Verizon on Net Neutrality

And of course the Left has joined the chorus.

Why the Comcast-Netflix Deal Should Worry You

The deal should also be a wake-up call to regulators who are…grappling with what to do about Net Neutrality.

(Democrat Congressman) Pingree Says Comcast-Netflix Peering Deal Is Net Neutrality Threat

The Comcast-Netflix Deal Threatens Net Neutrality

Except very recently, the Left insisted Net Neutrality had nothing to do with backbone Peering deals like these – that it was only about the Last Mile.  They in fact accused others of the obfuscation in which they are now engaged.

“AT&T here seems unable to tell the difference between the last mile and the backbone.

“The FCC’s general counsel made clear that the proposal applies only to service that is offered directly to the public, and the last time we checked, the public was not offered backbone Internet connections.”

So the Left has now created a hay-yuge new, uber-expansive definition of Net Neutrality.  From covering just the Last Mile – to encompassing the entire World Wide Web.

Which would give the government hay-yuge new, uber-expansive power over the Internet.

Which is exactly what the Left wants.

 

[Originally published at RedState]

Categories: On the Blog

Latest IPCC Report Deliberately Excludes, Misrepresents Important Climate Science

Somewhat Reasonable - April 01, 2014, 12:01 AM

This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its latest report, the “Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report.” Like its past reports, this one predicts apocalyptic consequences if mankind fails to give the UN the power to tax and regulate fossil fuels and subsidize and mandate the use of alternative fuels.

But happily, an international group of scientists I have been privileged to work with has conducted an independent review of IPCC’s past and new reports, along with the climate science they deliberately exclude or misrepresent.

Our group, called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), was founded in 2003 by a distinguished atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, and has produced five hefty reports to date, the latest released on March 31.

So how do the IPCC and NIPCC reports differ? The final draft of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers identifies eight “reasons for concern” which media reports say will remain the focus of the final report. The NIPCC reports address each point too, also summarizing their authors’ positions in Summaries for Policymakers. This provides a convenient way to compare and contrast the reports’ findings.

Here’s what the reports say:

IPCC: “Risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states, due to sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surges.”

NIPCC: “Flood frequency and severity in many areas of the world were higher historically during the Little Ice Age and other cool eras than during the twentieth century. Climate change ranks well below other contributors, such as dikes and levee construction, to increased flooding.”

IPCC: “Risk of food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability, particularly for poorer populations.”

NIPCC: “There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Farmers and others who depend on rural livelihoods for income are benefitting from rising agricultural productivity throughout the world, including in parts of Asia and Africa where the need for increased food supplies is most critical. Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels play a key role in the realization of such benefits.

IPCC: “Risk of severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding.”

NIPCC: “No changes in precipitation patterns, snow, monsoons, or river flows that might be considered harmful to human well-being or plants or wildlife have been observed that could be attributed to rising CO2 levels. What changes have been observed tend to be beneficial.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.”

NIPCC: “Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations benefit plant growth-promoting microorganisms that help land plants overcome drought conditions, a potentially negative aspect of future climate change. Continued atmospheric CO2 enrichment should prove to be a huge benefit to plants by directly enhancing their growth rates and water use efficiencies.”

IPCC: “Systemic risks due to extreme [weather] events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services.”

NIPCC: “There is no support for the model-based projection that precipitation in a warming world becomes more variable and intense. In fact, some observational data suggest just the opposite, and provide support for the proposition that precipitation responds more to cyclical variations in solar activity.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of marine ecosystems and the services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.”

NIPCC: “Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life. Many aquatic species have shown considerable tolerance to temperatures and CO2 values predicted for the next few centuries, and many have demonstrated a likelihood of positive responses in empirical studies. Any projected adverse impacts of rising temperatures or declining seawater and freshwater pH levels (“acidification”) will be largely mitigated through phenotypic adaptation or evolution during the many decades to centuries it is expected to take for pH levels to fall.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of terrestrial ecosystems and the services they provide for terrestrial livelihoods.”

NIPCC: “Terrestrial ecosystems have thrived throughout the world as a result of warming temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Empirical data pertaining to numerous animal species, including amphibians, birds, butterflies, other insects, reptiles, and mammals, indicate global warming and its myriad ecological effects tend to foster the expansion and proliferation of animal habitats, ranges, and populations, or otherwise have no observable impacts one way or the other. Multiple lines of evidence indicate animal species are adapting, and in some cases evolving, to cope with climate change of the modern era.”

IPCC: “Risk of mortality, morbidity, and other harms during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations.”

NIPCC: “A modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperature-related events. More lives are saved by global warming via the amelioration of cold-related deaths than those lost under excessive heat. Global warming will have a negligible influence on human morbidity and the spread of infectious diseases, a phenomenon observed in virtually all parts of the world.”

How could two teams of scientists come to such obviously contradictory conclusions on seemingly every point that matters in the debate over global warming? There are many reasons why scientists disagree, the subject, by the way, of an excellent book a couple years ago titled Wrong by David H. Freedman. A big reason is IPCC is producing what academics call “post-normal science” while NIPCC is producing old-fashioned “real science.”

What is a non-scientist to make of these dueling reports? Indeed, what is a scientist to make of this? Very few scientists are familiar with biology, geology, physics, oceanography, engineering, medicine, economics, and scores of other more specialized disciplines that were the basis for the claims summarized above.

It is frequently said of the global warming debate that it comes down to who you believe rather than what you know. Many climate scientists say they “believe in man-made global warming” even though their own research contradicts key points in the arguments advanced in support of that hypothesis. They say this because they believe the IPCC is telling the truth about findings outside their areas of expertise. Ditto influential science journals such as Nature and Science, which claim to speak on behalf of “climate science.”

The NIPCC reports were conceived and written to offer a way out of this conundrum. They are written in a style that laymen without special training can understand, provide explanations of how research was conducted and summarizing the actual findings, often quoting at length from original scholarly sources. Chapters often present research chronologically, in the order in which the studies were published, so readers can understand how the debate has changed over time.

The NIPCC reports are hefty – the first volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series was 850 pages long, and the latest volume is more than 1,000 pages – but executive summaries and “key findings” at the beginning of each chapter make them easy to navigate and fascinating to browse. They are all available for free online at ClimateChangeReconsidered.org.

How credible are the NIPCC reports?  Endorsements by prominent scientists, reviews, and citations in peer-reviewed journals appear at the Web site mentioned above. NIPCC reports are produced by scores of scientists from around the world (some 20 countries so far), cite thousands of peer-reviewed studies, and are themselves peer-reviewed. In June 2013, a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a Chinese translation and condensed edition of the 2009 and 2011 volumes.

We know the authors of the IPCC’s reports have financial conflicts of interest, since the government bureaucracies that select them and the UN that oversees and edits the final reports stand to profit from public alarm over the possibility that global warming will be harmful. The authors of the NIPCC series have no such conflicts. The series is funded by three private family foundations without any financial interest in the outcome of the global warming debate. The publisher, The Heartland Institute, neither solicits nor receives any government or corporation funding for the Climate Change Reconsidered series. (It does receive some corporate funding for its other research and educational programs.)

So is man-made global warming a crisis? Don’t just wonder about it, understand it yourself. Read one or a few chapters of one of the NIPCC reports, and ask if what you read is logical, factual, and relevant to the debate. See if the UN or its many apologists take into account the science and evidence NIPCC summarizes, and then decide whether its predictions of “of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods” is science or fiction.

[First published at Forbes.]

Categories: On the Blog

Clouds on the Solar Horizon

Somewhat Reasonable - March 31, 2014, 2:44 PM

Consumers considering installing solar panels on their rooftops have far more to think through than the initial decision to “go solar.”

They may search for the best price, only to discover, as customers in central Florida did, that after paying $20,000-40,000 for their systems, they are stuck with installations that may be unusable or unsafe. BlueChip Energy—which also operated as Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) and SunHouse Solar—sold its systems at environmental festivals and home shows. Buyers thought they were getting a good deal and doing the right thing for the environment. Instead, they were duped.

A year ago, it was revealed that BlueChip Energy’s solar panels had counterfeit UL labels—this means that the panels may not comply with standard safety requirements established by the independent global certification company Underwriters Laboratory. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “UL testing assures that a product won’t catch fire, will conduct electricity properly and can withstand weather. Without such testing, no one is certain if the solar panels may fail.” Additionally, it states: “Without the safety testing, they shouldn’t be connected to the electric grid”—which leaves customers nervous about possible risks such as overheating. Other reports claim that BlueChip inflated the efficiency rates of its photovoltaic panels, which do not meet “65 percent of the company’s published performance ratings.”

In July 2013, BlueChip’s assets were sold off at pennies on the dollar and customers were left with rooftop solar packages that now have no warranty.

With the shakeout in the solar photovoltaic industry, bankruptcy is a key concern for buyers. No company equals no warranty.

Two of China’s biggest panel makers have failed. On March 20, 2013, Suntech, one of the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturers, filed bankruptcy. Earlier this month Shanghai Chaori Solar became China’s first domestic corporate bond default. The Wall Street Journal reports that another, Baoding Tainwei, has reported a second year of losses and investors are waiting to “see if officials will let it fail.”

Regarding Suntech’s bankruptcy, an industry report says the following about the warranties: “While Suntech has said that it was committed to maintaining the warranty obligations on its products following the bankruptcy, we are unsure if customers will be willing to take a risk considering the firm’s faltering financials.”

Last month, it was reported that solar panels can be “dangerous in an emergency.” Firefighters have been forced to stop fighting a fire due to electrocution concerns. The report quotes Northampton, MA, Fire Chief Brian Duggan as saying electrocution is not their only concern: “cutting through the roof for ventilation would also take a lot longer.” Springfield fire commissioner Joe Conant says: “nothing will stop them if there’s a life to be saved, but if it’s simply to save the structure, solar panels may keep them from going on the roof.

A Fox News story on the risk solar panels pose to fire-fighters states: “Two recent fires involving structures decked with solar panels have triggered complaints from fire chiefs and calls for new codes and regulations that reflect the dangers posed by the clean-energy devices. A two-alarm fire last week at a home in Piedmont, Calif., prompted Piedmont Fire Chief Warren McLaren to say the technology ‘absolutely’ made it harder on firefighters. Weeks earlier, in Delanco, NJ, more than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a massive 300,000-square foot warehouse factored into Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt’s refusal to send his firefighters onto the roof of a Dietz & Watson facility.”

Then, of course, there are new concerns about scam artists like the one in North Carolina who collected “money from victims under false pretense that he would buy and install solar panels in their residences.”

As if all of that wasn’t enough, a new potentially fraudulent scheme has just been exposed.

A recent report from the Arizona Republic, points to complaints the Arizona Corporation Commission—the state’s top utility regulator—is getting from Tucson customers of SolarCity Corporation. They claim: “the solar leasing company is misleading them regarding the state rules for hooking up a solar array.”

In essence, customers in Tucson are being told one thing by their utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), but something else by a private solar power company, SolarCity—the nation’s second largest solar electrical contractor. This has drawn the ire of Bob Stump, Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). “This is an issue of consumer protection and solar installer transparency,” Stump told the Arizona Republic.

Stump made his concerns clear in a March 12 letter to Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s Chief Executive Officer: “I am concerned that you—as well as other solar providers—may be communicating with customers in a way that is both confusing and misleading and which deprives them of the balanced information they need in order to make informed decisions.”

The letter states: “Some customers … say that solar providers have told them that the rates, rules and regulations applicable to net metering are ‘grandfathered,’ thereby implying that the rates associated with net metering are not subject to change.” As a result, Stump says: “Customers are then surprised, disappointed, and angry to learn from TEP that this may not be the case.”

As a vocal advocate for responsible energy—which I define as energy that is efficient, effective and economical—I have closely followed what is happening with Arizona’s solar industry. There, when the ACC proposed a modification to the net-metering policies to make them more equitable to all utility customers, the solar industry mounted an aggressive PR campaign in attempt to block any changes. When the decision was made in November to add a monthly fee onto the utility bills of new solar customers to make them pay for using the power grid, I applauded the effort.

In light of this new issue, with a leading solar company misleading customers, it is time for the nation’s regulators to take a hard look at their states’ policies. Remember, this past summer, Georgia regulators voted for solar leasing such as SolarCity offers.

Pat Lyons, one of New Mexico’s Public Regulatory Commissioners, watched what happened in Arizona’s net metering battle. Upon learning about SolarCity’s potential deception, he was alarmed. “As solar leasing, like SolarCity pushes, moves into additional markets, regulators across the country need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and misrepresentations.”

It is vital that solar providers be held to the same high standard to which we hold our electric utilities and are made to answer tough questions about consumer protection, safety, and operation issues. Stump’s letter to SolarCity’s CEO asked for responses to his questions by March 31 and said he will “be placing this matter on a Commission open meeting agenda in the near future in order to discuss these important concerns with my fellow commissioners.”

It may be too late to protect some solar customers in Tucson, but there is still a chance to make sure others are treated fairly. If things don’t change, the dark clouds hovering over the industry will be raining on unsuspecting customers.

 

[Originally published at TownHall.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Obama May Give Internet Control to “Global Community”

Somewhat Reasonable - March 31, 2014, 2:29 AM

On March 14, the Obama administration announced it was initiating a process to transfer oversight of the Internet from the United States to some yet-to-be-defined global entity.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling said, “The timing is right to start the transition process.”

You don’t need to be a credentialed foreign-policy expert, however, to harbor reservations concerning the plan to turn over management of key Internet functions to what the Commerce Department called the “global multi-stakeholder community.”

It is enough to inject a note of caution to point out that the Obama administration’s proclivity to rely on cooperation from the “international community” — rather than U.S. leadership — has not always produced hoped-for outcomes.

To understand what is at stake, it is important to know the essence of the current Internet governance regime and a bit of recent history. Currently, pursuant to a 1998 agreement with the Commerce Department, an entity called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the assignment of Internet domain names and addresses for websites across the globe.

ICANN is a nonprofit, private-sector-led multi-stakeholder organization. ICANN is required to operate in a collaborative and transparent manner that fosters accountability to the various nongovernment stakeholders — commercial enterprises, civil society organizations representing Internet users, technical experts, and so forth — that are represented in ICANN’s governance structure.

While it is not true that Al Gore invented the Internet, it is true that the Net’s roots are grounded in the United States. It is also true that the U.S. is the only nation with a formal role in overseeing the Internet’s functioning, even though the Commerce Department’s oversight has been mostly hands-off since ICANN took over management of the domain-name system 15 years ago.

With the growth in Internet usage and the number of websites across the globe during the past 15 years, perhaps it is not surprising that other countries increasingly have come to question the U.S. government’s role as the sole sovereign overseeing Internet management. After all, for a century, international telephone communications have been regulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an arm of the United Nations. Each of the ITU’s 193 countries has one vote in its deliberations.

Whatever the current arrangements for overseeing international voice communications, turning over management of the Internet to the ITU almost certainly would be harmful. The likely result would be increased telephone-style economic regulation that would discourage continued investment in Internet facilities and innovation in services.

It would increase the likelihood that censorship of Internet communications and speech curbs would be sanctioned as official policy. Sound farfetched?

In advance of a meeting in 2012 to consider changes to the ITU’s international communications regulations, Russia’s Vladimir Putin explicitly stated that he wanted to achieve “international control of the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capability” of the United Nations.

What’s more, several countries did not hide their intent to adopt as official policy government censorship of Internet communications. A proposal floated by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran — countries not known for respecting free speech — declared that ITU member states should be allowed to restrict communications “used for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs or undermining the sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and public safety of other states; or to divulge information of a sensitive nature.”

That language is an engraved invitation for governments to engage in censorship.

It is true that currently, under the existing governance structure, individual countries often attempt to censor Internet communications, and frequently, they succeed. Right now, Turkey is blocking Twitter communications and Syria routinely has done so over the past three years.

There is a difference, though, between countries acting in contravention of current ICANN and U.S. policies intended to preserve an open Internet and some new international government-controlled organization adopting edicts that give official sanction to such speech restrictions.

To be sure, the Obama administration did state that the current nongovernmental, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance should be maintained. Indeed, its announcement said the United States will not accept a proposal for replacing U.S. control “with a government-led or an intergovernmental organization solution.”

The U.S. government’s resolve must remain firm in this regard, especially when Russia and other like-minded countries already have declared their intent to change the open nature of the Internet if they can gain control over its governance.

While the administration says it will not turn over the Internet’s management to an intergovernmental organization like the ITU, frankly, it is not easy to envision the emergence of a replacement entity that will not be controlled by governments around the world — many of which we shouldn’t wish to see possessing such authority.

I don’t want to foreclose the possibility that such a new entity may emerge. However, I do want the Obama administration to keep its proclivities in check for relying on the “international community” to take on tasks for which such an ephemeral community may not be well-suited.

Contrary to Mr. Strickling’s claim, considering the current troublesome state of world affairs, the timing may not be right for moving ahead with plans to relinquish U.S. oversight of the Internet. At a minimum, the watchwords must be “proceed with extreme caution.”

 

[Originally published at The Washington Times]

Categories: On the Blog

UN Agenda 21 Schemes to Grab Property Rights

Somewhat Reasonable - March 31, 2014, 2:10 AM

[This piece is co-authored by Bonnie O'Neil]

You may be one of the unlucky Americans that have already experienced the heavy hand of government intruding on your personal property rights. However, today most Americans remain unaware of the planned and unprecedented power grab, inflicted on Americans by a relatively “quiet” agreement our government made with the United Nations, known as U.N. Agenda 21.

It is thought by many to be more of a scheme, with the claim it is being initiated in order to save the world by creating a sustainable environment. If allowed to continue, the plan will change America in many ways. Many of our treasured freedoms and rights will be systematically removed. Many see Agenda 21 as the ultimate goal to gain world-wide control and create a one-world-governing body.

What would it involve and how would it impact American citizens? Forget your dream of a two story home on your own piece of land. Instead the plan is to force us to settle for a nightmare. Conjure up an image of China … specifically a city like Beijing with few private homes and massive apartment buildings. A place where people will likely live in zones connected by congested freeways, and all controlled by an untouchable government.

It was George Washington who said, “Private property and freedom are inseparable,” with John Adams affirming that “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” Those wise words are no longer embraced by members of the Agenda 21 group, some of whom are America’s top leaders.

How close is this plan to creating an environment much like that of a Communist state?

Well, Communism is defined as a system of social organization in which economics and property are controlled by the state, offering its citizens few rights or freedoms. One would think that since such a system has never prospered, it would not be attempted again, and certainly not in a country like the United States, one of the most successful countries in the world. America had the good fortune of forefathers who gave us an amazing Constitution, Bill of Rights, and a form of government that is the envy of the World. We have prospered and welcomed others to embrace and enjoy it with us. We have been blessed with the ability to own property; our very own piece of chosen land, which can be passed on to our heirs. Why would we risk losing our freedoms? Who would willingly hand over their property and lose our many freedoms, due to a United Nations Agenda?

The powers behind Agenda 21 knew most people would resent being manipulated by the government into drastic changes in their life style. They did not expect us to easily give up our homes and move to newly designed, massive apartment complexes in a different neighborhood, and raise families in cramped housing units. They know we want the freedom to choose the car we enjoy driving, where and when we want to travel, and the size of family we choose to have.

They needed to devise a clever way to convince Americans to surrender their rights and basic freedoms granted them by our wise forefathers. Thus, we began to hear reports of man-made global warming, which included dire warnings of calamities likely to occur as a result. They claimed man was causing icebergs to melt, potentially causing oceans to overflow onto our shores. They warned we must make drastic changes in our lives to survive the tragedy. They claimed it to be “proven science”. It was not; in fact quite the contrary. Evidence began emerging indicating the World had actually been in a cooling phase for the past couple of decades.

Soon, a growing number of scientists and climatologists began refuting claims of global warming. When massive ships became stuck in thick ocean ice packs and whales became trapped under large ice pockets off the Canadian coast, Agenda 21 masterminds and global warming enthusiasts quickly changed their terminology to “Climate Change”, a much safer title so that any change in our climate can be blamed on you and me, and thus justify laws that dictate those radical changes.

[ The Heartland Institute, located in Chicago, IL, Joe Bast, President, was called "the world's most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change" by The Economist, May 26, 2012. Due to be released by The Heartland Institute in April are Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy and Policies. The reports are produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change (NIPCC), which counters the reports of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning of dangerous and catastrophic human effects on climate based largely on CO2 emissions. ]

Without the threat of oceans warming and flooding our land, what might entice people to make the uncomfortable changes dictated by Agenda 21? Possibly one or a combination of the following might work: Create a downward economy and/or economic crisis, cause jobs to be scarce, create further economic woes through escalating gasoline costs, and higher taxes. Then develop amazingly attractive advertisements of high rise apartments, with low rental fees that are located close to one’s place of employment. That plan worked in China, and is currently a theme in colleges throughout America.

As documented in our introductory article on the U.N. Agenda 21 published Sunday, March 23, “U.N. Agenda 21 designed to spawn a one-world-government,” a non-governmental organization called the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is tasked with carrying out the goals of Agenda 21 worldwide. It is currently being implemented locally through ICLEI USA which was launched in 1995 and now has a solid network of cities, towns and counties. Their agenda has not received much attention in the media, so don’t feel badly if the name is new to you. The organization has gradually and quietly been making changes within our cities, often clothed in clever phrases, such as “smart growth”, “clean energy”, “sustainability”, “redevelopment”, “high density urban mixed use development” and “intelligent cities”.

Has ICLEI invaded your county or city yet? Not sure? Check for the “buzz” words on the agendas of your city council meetings. Better yet, begin attending city and county board meetings

An example of how ICLEI operates in our cities and counties was recently evident in a semi-rural area of Santa Rosa, California; a beautiful and quiet area in which family homes and properties are located with a creek running through their property. The residents had never heard of Agenda 21, ICLEI, sustainable development, or any of the other language associated with Agenda 21, until they received a post card in the mail from a concerned citizen, suggesting they attend a City Council meeting where the officials were expected to vote for a law that would take a specific amount of land on each side of the river (100 feet) and claim what was private property to be designated as government property. Shocked, the residents all marched to the meeting, determined to stop the plan to rob them of their property. Surprised by the overwhelming number of furious residents, the Council put their vote on hold. It has not been put on the City’s agenda since.

The action of one knowledgeable citizen saved those Santa Rosa residents’ property rights. If we are to save our cities and our rights, we too must become educated on all the tentacles of United Nations Agenda 21. Watch for our next edition, as we will provide you with more facts about another facet of this insidious plan.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

A History of the Disastrous Global Warming Hoax

Somewhat Reasonable - March 31, 2014, 1:56 AM
“It is the greatest deception in history and the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured,” says Dr. Tim Ball in his new book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.

Dr. Ball has been a climatologist for more than forty years and was one of the earliest critics of the global warming hoax that was initiated by the United Nations environmental program that was established in 1972 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988.

Several UN conferences set in motion the hoax that is based on the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing a dramatic surge in heating the Earth. IPCC reports have continued to spread this lie through their summaries for policy makers that influenced policies that have caused nations worldwide to spend billions to reduce and restrict CO2 emissions. Manmade climate change—called anthropogenic global warming—continues to be the message though mankind plays no role whatever.

There is no scientific support for the UN theory.

CO2, despite being a minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, is essential for all life on Earth because it is the food that nourishes all vegetation. The Earth has passed through many periods of high levels of CO2 and many cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the life of the planet.

“Science works by creating theories based on assumptions,” Dr. Ball notes, “then other scientists—performing their skeptical role—test them. The structure and mandate of the IPCC was in direct contradiction of this scientific method. They set out to prove the theory rather than disprove it.”

“The atmosphere,” Dr. Ball notes, “is three-dimensional and dynamic, so building a computer model that even approximates reality requires far more data than exists and much greater understanding of an extremely turbulent and complex system.” No computer model put forth by the IPCC in support of global warming has been accurate, nor ever could be.

Most of the reports were created by a small group of men working within the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia and all were members of the IPCC. The result was “a totally false picture supposedly based on science.”

The revelations of emails between the members of the CRU were made available in 2009 by an unknown source. Dr. Ball quotes Phil Jones, the Director of the CRU at the time of the leaks, and Tom Wigley, a former director addressing other CRU members admitting that “Many of the uncertainties surrounding the cause of climate change will never be resolved because the necessary data are lacking.”

The IPCC depended upon the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the science involved and the global warming hoax was greatly aided because the “mainstream media bought into and promoted the unproven theory. Scientists who challenged were denied funding and marginalized. National environmental policies were introduced based on the misleading information” of the IPCC summaries of their reports.

“By the time of the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report, the politics and hysteria about climate change had risen to a level that demanded clear evidence of a human signal,” notes Dr. Ball. “An entire industry had developed around massive funding from government. A large number of academic, political, and bureaucratic careers had evolved and depended on expansion of the evidence. Environmentalists were increasing pressure on the public and thereby politicians.”

The growing problem for the CRU and the entire global warming hoax was that no clear evidence existed to blame mankind for changes in the climate and still largely unknown to the public was the fact that the Earth has passed through many natural cycles of warmth and cooling. If humans were responsible, how could the CRU explain a succession of ice ages over millions of years?

The CRU emails revealed their growing concerns regarding a cooling cycle that had begun in the late 1990s and now, some seventeen years later, the Earth is in a widely recognized cooling cycle.

Moreover, the hoax was aimed at vast reductions in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as nuclear power to produce the electricity on which all modern life depends. There was advocacy of solar and wind power to replace them and nations undertook costly programs to bring about the reduction of the CO2 “fossil fuels” produced and spent billions on the “green” energy. That program is being abandoned.

At the heart of the hoax is a contempt for mankind and a belief that population worldwide should be reduced. The science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren, has advocated forced abortions, sterilization by introducing infertility drugs into the nation’s drinking water and food, and other totalitarian measures. “Overpopulation is still central to the use of climate change as a political vehicle,” warns Dr. Ball.

Given that the environmental movement has been around since the 1960s, it has taken decades for the public to grasp its intent and the torrents of lies that have been used to advance it. “More people,” notes Dr. Ball, “are starting to understand that what they’re told about climate change by academia, the mass media, and the government is wrong, especially the propaganda coming from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“Ridiculous claims—like the science is settled or the debate is over—triggered a growing realization that something was wrong.”  When the global warming advocates began to tell people that cooling is caused by warming, the public has realized how absurd the entire UN climate change argument has been.

Worse, however, has been “the deliberate deceptions, misinformation, manipulation of records and misapplying scientific method and research” to pursue a political objective. Much of this is clearly unlawful, but it is unlikely that any of those who perpetrated the hoax will ever be punished and, in the case of Al Gore and the IPCC, they shared a Nobel Peace Prize!

We are all in debt to Dr. Ball and a score of his fellow scientists who exposed the lies and debunked the hoax; their numbers are growing with thousands of scientists signing petitions and participating in international conferences to expose this massive global deception.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]
Categories: On the Blog

Zeke Goes Off the Rails

Somewhat Reasonable - March 31, 2014, 1:35 AM

Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother and one of the key ObamaCare advisors, has been on quite a roll lately. Consider some of the headlines just from the past few weeks or so –

  • “Insurance Companies as We Know Them Are About to Die” (New Republic)
  • “In Health Care, Choice is Overrated” (The New York Times)
  • “You Don’t Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care” (CNSNews write up of a Bill O’Reilly interview)
  • “Inside the Making of ObamaCare” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “Progress with Caveats: At least 12 million have received coverage directly through a provision of the law” (Wall Street Journal)

In every instance his message is that he knows better than you do what is good for you. He knows a better way to do insurance than you do, he knows that you don’t really need a choice of doctor or hospital, he knows that you don’t really need a doctor at all for most services, and he knows that “things are actually going well” for ObamaCare despite the fact that you and most Americans don’t like it.

One has to wonder what is going on with this guy. Why is he so confident in offending so many Americans? Either he is triumphant in the idea that what we think doesn’t matter anymore because Obama is firmly in control of our future, or he knows that ObamaCare is such a disaster that he can finally say any damned thing he wants because none of it will ever happen anyway.

In either case, he provides a fascinating window into the minds of the Leftist elite. What do we see in there?

Mostly we see an astonishing level of hubris and arrogance. We see an academic living in a world of dreams and “big ideas” divorced from both political realities and real-world practicalities. We also see an intellectual bubble of group think in which expressing a contrary opinion is seen as a betrayal, rather than a welcomed reality check.

In his telling of how ObamaCare came to be, he says he was pushing for bundled payments, at least for Medicare, as the panacea for controlling costs. We have written before about the limits of bundling but Zeke is not deterred. Unfortunately, he says he “hit a brick wall” because the people who actually run the Medicare program told him it wouldn’t work — “the Medicare bureaucracy wouldn’t budge.”

And this is how it goes in Zeke’s brain. The people who actually know what they are talking about irritate him by getting in the way of his pies-in-the-sky.

This hubris is evident in everything Zeke says or writes. He thinks existing insurance companies will be replaced by Accountable Care Organizations. Although these companies are “in their infancy,” in the next decade they will –

“…succeed at integrating all the components of care and provide efficient, coordinated care. They will have the physician and hospital networks. They will have standardized, guideline-driven care plans for most major conditions and procedures to increase efficiency. They will have figured out how to harness their electronic medical records to better identify patients who will become sick and how to intervene early as well as how to care for the well-identified chronically ill so as to reduce costs.”

How does he know this? Is there any evidence to support it? Well, no. What evidence is available shows quite the opposite, but Zeke won’t let that get in the way.

More recently, he pronounced that 12 million people have already gotten coverage due to ObamaCare. He cites the Gallup survey as showing that “the percentage of uninsured Americans declined from 18% in the middle of 2013 to 15.9% in the first quarter of 2014.” Yes, the Gallup survey does show that but what is curious about this survey is that the rate of uninsured soared from 16.3% in late 2012 to 18% in mid-2013. Either the survey is flawed or the anticipation of ObamaCare caused a whole lot of people to lose their coverage in 2013. In either case, the rate of uninsured has barely budged (from 16.3% to 15.9%) in a year.

More importantly, Zeke reports that 3.1 million young adults are now covered under their parent’s plan without mentioning that most of these were previously getting coverage from their employers, and that 4.5 million are newly eligible for Medicaid without mentioning how many actually enrolled and how many of those were previously covered, and the 5 million have selected a plan without mentioning how many have paid their premiums or how many of these got kicked out of their prior coverage thanks to ObamaCare.

So, now Zeke has gone well beyond just fantasizing to actually lying about the available data. And that is the ultimate lesson from the mind of Zeke Emmanuel and most other Leftists — when their dreams turn into garbage, they lie about the truth.

Or as Nancy Pelosi told us the other day –

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

As if repeating a lie enough times will make it true.

 

[Originally published at National Center for Policy Analysis]

Categories: On the Blog

Liberal Fascism: Putting Man-Made Global Warming Skeptics in Jail

Somewhat Reasonable - March 30, 2014, 1:41 AM

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has spent a lot of time since the 2008 publication of his seminal work on the history of the progressive political movement defending the book’s title, Liberal Fascism. He can stop now.

Adam Weinstein, elite liberal journalist — who, sadly has been reduced to writing “Rants” for Gawker — is example 13,873 that proves the thesis. And it’s a doozy.

The headline on Weinstein’s piece is plain: “Arrest Climate-Change Deniers.” Why should folks who have evaluated the observed science and found the predictions of the climate alarmists wanting be put in jail? Why should they be deprived of their freedom of speech, and the freedom to live among us? Because the “smartest” elite liberals want to set up American gulags for those who dissent. Because Liberal Fascism.

The lead of Weinstein’s piece:

Man-made climate change happens. Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It’s going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people’s deaths. It’s time to punish the climate-change liars.

Weinstein writes (absurdly) that anthroprogenic global warming skeptics — and there are plenty of scientific reasons to be skeptical of that theory — are causing 150,000 people a year to die. That is absurd. But anyone who denies that “liberal fact” is labeled a “denialist.” Such people think and say the wrong things. That free speech is killing people! So what should liberals do about this?

Those denialists should face jail.

It’s good to have that on the record at such a popular website. Liberals who are that soaked in the ideology of catastrophic man-caused global warming are fascists. Full stop. It was good to see a least a couple of folks who commented on Weinstein’s piece call him out on his fascism (you’ll have to just trust me on this), but its sad there were not many more considering Gawker is a “liberal” site.

So this is where we are now. Free-thinking Americans who have seen this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and have attended these eight conferences  — and disagree with liberals like Adam Weinstein — must be put in jail.

Our fascist overlords are clever, and will probably set up work camps in which the undesirables will work as Obamacare facilitators. No thanks. I’m an old-school dissident. I choose breaking rocks.

I invited Weinstein to come to the 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas this July so he could punish me and hudreds of other inconvenient and undesirable American citizens. I’ll report back how that invitation goes … while I still have my freedom.

Categories: On the Blog

Uncovering Deceptions in the Climate Change Debate

Somewhat Reasonable - March 29, 2014, 9:34 PM

For more than a decade, the Heartland Institute has tried to explain to the public, in courteous terms, that the idea of a human-caused global warming catastrophe is a delusion, and that its proponents should not be allowed to waste the world’s economic resources through arrogant efforts to alter the planet’s climate.

Tim Ball, Ph.D., takes up the issue with strong words in his new book, The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science. He argues, with overwhelming evidence, that in fact the global warming debate in the halls of science has been an unmitigated fraud perpetrated by people who no longer have the right to be called scientists. Their collective goals have been to alter society radically while enriching themselves, he argues.

Each of the book’s 13 chapters opens with a picture of a major player in this historical drama of the corruption of climate science. A few are heroes, such as Richard Lindzen, Michael Crichton, and Vaclav Klaus, but most are villains, such as Maurice Strong, Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Phil Jones, and Al Gore.

The book is a history of the people and groups who used unwarranted fear of human-caused climate change to undermine science by influencing governments and the private sector to spend vast sums of money on scientists who agreed to climb aboard the global warming gravy train. It also describes the character assassination and dearth of support directed toward those who resisted.

Ball begins correctly at the modern beginning of stifling environmentalism, Paul Erhlich’s egregious and fallacious 1967 book, The Population Bomb, followed by the 1972 Club of Rome report, both of which preached population growth must be stopped or our world was doomed. Then the 1992 UN Rio Conference, led by Canadian tycoon Maurice Strong, developed Agenda 21, a bureaucratic justification for tying population growth to other perceived evils such as global warming.

Strong ultimately conceived of and implemented the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which essentially was engineered to determine that mankind controls the climate. Designating carbon dioxide as an evil, the IPCC created an agenda for stifling economic growth wherever it was occurring. As with so many of our worst politicians, the IPCC is well-described by journalist H. L. Mencken’s famous quote, repeated by Ball: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety), by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Ball explains the many mathematical climate models and the surprising fact that despite all their failures at prediction, governments have been quick to implement actions based on them. He notes the scientists who make the models eliminate many variables from their equations to make it possible for supercomputers to reach a conclusion in less than an eon. These choices just happen to skew the models in the desired direction of predicting disastrous global warming.

Nowhere is Ball more instructive than in his explanation of how the IPCC always releases its Summary for Policymakers well ahead of each session’s full report and then makes sure the full report agrees with the pre-written summary. The summaries never admit to any uncertainty or counter-evidence that may appear in the full reports.

By now you are probably aware of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” fantasy, but you will be amazed at the full story of how prestigious scientists conspired to hide its obvious flaws. Ball recounts the release of thousands of emails from East Anglia University in the United Kingdom, whose climate center was behind a plot to undermine any real science in the climate change debate. Phil Jones is known to have been the primary figure in this, and Ball lashes him to the mast by reprinting email after email in a chronological manner that leaves no doubt regarding this terrible conspiracy to deceive.

Ball’s passion for this subject is palpable throughout the book, but nowhere more than in the following paragraph:

How much longer can the IPCC maintain the charade? How long before the IPCC and its machinations are understood by enough leaders to elicit some backbone? It is incredible that the IPCC and their manipulation of climate science continue to drive world energy and economic policies. How many more people must starve and economies collapse before this most egregious exploitation driven by environmentalists is stopped?

The book does suffer from a lack of an index or even a table of contents, and it is overly repetitive and contains far more quoted passages than necessary, sometimes reading like the transcript of a trial. In defense of Ball, however, I can say he has left nothing out of this complete history, which is fully known only to those who have been knee-deep in this controversy for decades.

Too many of us on the right side of science still treat the global warming leadership with respect they do not deserve. Too many of us, as old-time radio’s “Shadow” often said, do not know “what evil lurks in the minds of men.” With this book, Tim Ball will clearly disabuse you of such erroneous judgments.

(Editor’s note: Join many hundreds who want to hear the truth about the climate at Heartland’s 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas, July 7-9, just before FreedomFest.)

[First published at the Daily Caller.]

Categories: On the Blog

Twin ‘Botched’ Government Programs: Obamacare and Common Core

Somewhat Reasonable - March 28, 2014, 10:00 AM

President Obama has provided us with many classic statements worthy of making the “famous last words” list.  For instance, on September 26Obama said, “…most of the stories you’ll hear about how ObamaCare just can’t work is just not based on facts.  Every time they have predicted something not working, it’s worked.”  About a month later, with hyped media coverage and much fanfare, HeathCare.org was finally launched and open to enrollment.  Within hours, it became apparent there were critical failures in the system, resulting in a disastrous computer crash and one more obvious embarrassing failure for the president.

This past Sunday, March 23, just happened to be the 4-year anniversary of Obamacare, called by some as the president’s signature domestic policy achievement.  Despite the wishful thinking of Obama, his Administration, and many Washington Democrats, the American people have now realized the computer crash was just the beginning of disappointments and deceptive advertising.  Folks all through America are getting hit with higher premiums and fewer choices, we are not always able to keep our doctor if we like our doctor, and seniors on Medicare are frightened due to mounting uncertainly and confusion over what kind of care they will receive.

The American people certainly aren’t celebrating Obamacare’s 4th anniversary.  The results of the latest Pew Research survey show 53% of respondents disapproving of Obamacare, while only 41% approve. Opposition to Obamacare is just one point shy of the poll’s all-time high.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are on record to spend $52 million more for a final media push before the end of the enrollment on March 31.  Worse yet, consider that an estimated $684 million has been spent on publicity, marketing, and advertising the Affordable Care At, according to The Associated Press.

Even so, signups for Obamacare have fallen short of the Administrations’ original goal of seven million, which has now been lowered to a hoped for six million. Arguably worst of all, the system will only sustain itself if young, healthy adults pay into it, but it appears to be the opposite.  The healthy find it too expensive and a waste of money, while those with known medical problems and staggering expenses are taking advantage of the program.

Isn’t it enough to have one botched government program that adversely affects many more Americans than it promised to help?   The Obama administration is also responsive for launching the highly controversial Common Core.

While everyone has heard about Obamacare, this is not the case with Common Core, a United Nations UNESCO global education agenda.  The Tides Foundation in conjunction with UNESCO and Bill Gates of Microsoft had Common Core prepared prior to Obama’s election and once elected, the funding was incorporated into the Stimulus bill of 2009 and funded without knowledge or consent of Congress as usual.  Most telling is that Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, is a strong proponent of UNESCO.  A “Race to the Top” grant program was used to help persuade the States into signing onto the Curriculum sight unseen in 2010.   If states did not agree to implement the Common core Curriculum, the education grant monies for the States was withheld.

With Common Core curriculum, students will no longer be taught math, literature, history, science or social studies the same way we were taught. Much of this nation’s history has been distorted or eliminated by the authors of Common Core.  It is a one size fits all approach to education which does not address the unique individuality of each child.  Most disturbing is that the progressive movement will flourish through the indoctrination of students, who will be lured into accepting an extreme leftist ideology.  I am not suggesting that this will happen in the U.S., but millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom. The indoctrination of students is not new; it has happened in Germany and continues in Middle Eastern countries today.

As with most every government program, there are those who stand to make substantial profits from it.  Realizing the escalating controversy over Common Core, those who will benefit from it have begun promoting it through expensive advertisements. They are countered by pockets of parents and concerned citizens all through America who are demanding their state legislators stop implementing Common Core.   Perhaps most significant is the growing number of teachers who are highly critical of the Common Core curriculum and have begun speaking out against it.   Their concern forced the attention of the National Education Association (NEA) president, Dennis Van Roekel, who recently made the startling confession that Common Core was indeed botched.  The battle rages on.

It was on February 19, 2014, when NEA president Dennis Van Roekel posted a letter to union members at NEAToday.org, breaking with his administration pals by admitting that Common core implementation had been botched. This followed intense teachers’ representative dissatisfaction with Common Core during the 2013 NEA convention at which delegates from the floor introduced two measures, both of which failed to pass.  The measures condemned Obama’s education policies outright and were critical of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Teachers, parent, and concerned citizens knew several years ago that Common Core was seriously flawed, but no one wanted to hear those complaints.  Those who did complain were often labeled as extremists, malcontents, and nut-jobs (Thorner spoke several time during public comment time in front of the principal, superintendent and board members of Lake Forest District #115, but to no avail.  All are staunch pro-Common Core supporters.)  Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even said he found it “fascinating” that Common Core opponents were “white suburban moms who all of a sudden discovered their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were. . . .”  Some wonder if Duncan is equally as fascinated now that the one finding fault with Common Core is his union ally.

In his letter Van Roekel maintains that “scuttling these standards” is a bad idea, but still maintains that “the union wants states to make a strongcourse correction and move forward.”

Van Roekel further suggests allowing teachers “time to field-test the standards in classrooms to determine what works and what needs adjustment.”  As standard have started to be implemented in 46 states and the District of Columbia doesn’t it seem a little late to be field testing?

According to the NGA (National Governors Association) the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers), and their agent, Achieve, Inc., teacher input had been included.  Not so claims Van Roekel who wrote:

“The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make [CC] implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.”

Van Roekel’s letter ends with this proclamation:

“There’s too much at stake for our children and our country to risk getting this wrong.  That is exactly what Common Core opponents have been saying for years.”

On Wednesday, March 26, State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) presented HR 543 before the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee in Springfield. This resolution will urged the Illinois State Board of Education to delay the implementation of Common Core Standards until a study is conducted showing the costs associated with Common Core.

What are the chances Illinois will opt out of the Common Core curriculum as was announced by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana on Tuesday, March 25?  Slim to none, indeed!

Illinois accepted Common Core sight unseen in 2010.  Endorsed wholeheartedly by the Illinois Education Union, Common Core is now being implemented across the state.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with the warning:  “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next”.

Vladimir Lenin, a notorious Russian communist, knew the power of controlling schools and once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Heed Lenin’s declamation and take action if you care about the future of this nation. It is imperative that you take an interest in how and what your children are learning.  If you don’t have children of school age, attend board meeting, ask questions, and be ready to confront school administrators and school boards with facts about the progressive Common Core experiment which was never tried or tested before using children as guinea pigs.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

This Is How The Tea Party Ends

Somewhat Reasonable - March 28, 2014, 1:58 AM

How do political movements end? And how do we assess the impact they had on the political sphere? In the case of the Tea Party, it seems to me that some smart analysts are focusing too much on horserace politics, and less on the bigger picture of how public policy is made.

More than one smart journalist is writing this spring that the less aggressive approach of grassroots groups in this year’s Senate and House primaries means that the Tea Party movement is essentially coming to an end. In a piece at National Journal titled “The Tea Party’s Over”, Josh Kraushaar writes:

2014 is shaping up as the year the Republican establishment is finding its footing. Of the 12 Republican senators on the ballot, six face primary competition, but only one looks seriously threatened: Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi. More significantly, only two House Republicans are facing credible competition from tea-party conservatives: Simpson and Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania—fewer than the number of conservative House Republicans facing competition from the establishment wing (Reps. Justin Amash, Walter Jones, and Kerry Bentivolio). With filing deadlines already passed in 23 states, it’s hard to see that dynamic changing.

And in a piece at Democracy, Molly Ball writes:

The Tea Party appears to have lost much of the media presence, grassroots energy, organizational backbone, and fundraising clout that powered it in 2010. That’s not to say it couldn’t have an impact in select races, and doesn’t still have vocal proponents in Congress. But where it was once the engine of the GOP base, it is now more properly regarded as one faction among many in the Republican coalition—and a poorly organized, arriviste faction at that. Social conservatives, by comparison, have been organizing within the GOP for years, creating important, lasting grassroots power centers.

I think these analyses aren’t all wrong, but they miss something important that’s actually taken place here. The Tea Party’s success is not gauged by primaries alone. It’s gauged by how much the Tea Party’s priorities become the Republican Party’s priorities.

The Tea Party’s impact in primaries is largely about putting fear into establishment candidates, whether they knock them off or not. It took them two cycles, but the traditional Republican establishment took the right lessons from the Bennett and Lugar losses. Orrin Hatch spent 2011-12 voting lockstep with Mike Lee. Primary threats made Mike Enzi part of the organizing group for the defund push. Pat Roberts is doing his best to don the winger apparel. Lindsey Graham is trying like mad to re-establish his conservative credentials. Thad Cochran is the exception that proves the rule: it’s no accident that a traditional Washington appropriator who hasn’t modified his ways is the most vulnerable GOP Senator this cycle. So if establishment Republicans understand that they are vulnerable in primaries, and have to pretend to be Tea Partiers when they’re in cycle, is that a sign that the Tea Party is dead – or a sign that it’s had a significant political impact?

Within the realm of Senate primaries, there’s not as clear-cut of a field of candidates this time in the challenger side with appropriators on one side and strong limited government types on the other (see Nebraska, where Tea Party folks are split between Sasse and Osborn). And the story hasn’t been finalized in North Carolina or Georgia. But even considering the relatively narrow issue of primaries, it’s clear that establishment guys who run as establishment guys lose: their path to winning is to appeal to the Tea Party, champion opposition to Obamacare, hoist the musket and run as right-wingers. Is the fact Mitch McConnell is winning his primary today because of Rand Paul a sign of Tea Party weakness? I think not.

This also speaks to the generational point, where we see Tea Partiers elected to lower level offices rise to take more prominent positions, backed by a new infrastructure of groups which can offset traditional fundraising routes. Think about what the roster in the Senate looks like in 2020, after the next two or three cycles. Senators like Chambliss, Cochran, Grassley, Hatch, Isakson, McCain, Roberts, Shelby, and Wicker will all be gone. What will their replacements look like? If the answer is more Tea Party-friendly and less traditional Grand Old Party, then the Tea Party was an unmitigated success. And there’s no question that of the top ten most public and prominent faces of the next generation of Republican policy leadership in DC, most — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey — are all Tea Partiers or Tea Party-friendly. Only Paul Ryan is outside the Tea Party circle of friendship, and they still like him just fine — heck, he used to work for Empower America.

But of course, horserace politics is not the only arena, or even the most important arena, in which the Tea Party has had a huge impact. Votes that were easy are now difficult. Obamacare’s prioritization has been paramount. ExIm reauthorization went from a voice vote, to nine no votes, to 20 no votes (including Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn), and lobbyists are furious that the House Banking Chairman doesn’t care if they reauthorize it. K Street priorities have been dramatically diminished, and Wall Street is frustrated by the increasing willingness of Republicans to take on the big banks – even in their tax plans. A Republican Party yelling about crony capitalism would’ve seemed absurd in 2006 – now, it’s taken for granted.

Ask John Boehner whether he thinks the Tea Party has influenced policy-making in the House. Ask any conservative or libertarian policy wonk if the market for their ideas in Washington and in the states today is the same as it was in 2006. Or look at the Farm Bill, which in the 2000s was a badge of honor for appropriating GOP politicians, and is now passed in the dark of night (with the rhetorical cloak of “reform/cuts”) to avoid to voter scrutiny and anger. Just as with the backlash over earmarks, what has traditionally been typical Washington deal-making is now something Republicans have to sheepishly defend.

It’s a mistake to assume the Tea Party amounts to Washington-based activist groups and a scattered group of primary challengers. As an organic limited government movement motivated by activist citizens outside the beltway, it has had an enormous impact on reshaping the Republican Party and their policy priorities, in forcing traditional politicians to bend to their will, or at least pretend to until they get re-elected. The old framework where the party elders and K Street set economic policy, temper the social/domestic policy preferences of the coalition, and adopt foreign policy generally as circumstances dictate has been thoroughly smashed. In its place is a new reality which the Tea Party created – a reality which has, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the American political sphere for the foreseeable future.

[First published at The Federalist.]

Categories: On the Blog

Skepticism on Skeptics

Somewhat Reasonable - March 27, 2014, 4:58 PM

I think most man-made global warming skeptics are not realistic. We have to understand: It doesn’t matter if we are right to the people that are demonizing us. By that I mean this idea that somehow we are winning when the powers that be continue to shut down the very sources that would make our nation strong and self dependent.

They could care less about what is right and wrong concerning what is really driving the climate. If you actually cared, why would you make the statements we see coming out of many of the political elite in this nation, given data that at the very least is questioning their ideas, and in many cases, going the opposite direction? You wouldn’t. It’s because they don’t care about all this, except that it’s a smokescreen to continue accomplishing their real mission that, unfortunately, most of the people that really care about what is right and wrong are not involved in.

You have another group that cares that they have become important because of this. Before this issue came to life, can you name one climatologist that had “rock star” status? Yes, plenty of weathermen, from local to national; but for climatologists, it’s like this was their chance to get on the big stage. Heroes and enemies of the people, dispatches from the front lines of the “Climate Wars,” tales of storms for grandchildren – its like some study in delusions of grandeur.

Then there is the money behind it. I have no objection to developing energy sources that are based on the sun and wind. Personally I think it should be done at a grassroots level first – businesses and homes – empowering the individual to control his own fate better. But I don’t care where energy comes from because you need a forecast for planning and that is what I do. So for my own “selfish” purposes I should be all for this. What is not to love about an energy company that needs to know not only what the seasonal forecast is, or demands next week, but whether the on-site weather for their operation is optimum every single day? It’s a meteorologist’s dream come true!

I do care, though, when I see that we need to develop the technology that is not there yet for it, and yet we are forcing a solution down people’s throats. It’s very simple to me: Have the economy boom and set aside a bit of the profits for developing these other idealistic, cleaner and more efficient sources – a practical, not panic-driven approach. But it’s a perfect storm of demonization and disinformation. I am still waiting for my huge check from the sources that are supposed to be paying me to spread all these lies. Yet if you follow the money, the path doesn’t lead to me or anyone I know personally in this, and I know plenty. But I am all for any economical source of energy, including the development of these sources that in the rush to demonize people on my side, portray us as anti-science.

I would like, for once, someone to show who is on the payroll of all these big evil empires that supposedly are seeking to stop all this. I suspect the strawmen they create would burn like paper on fire if they had to reveal what they supposedly know.

In my opinion, here is the real issue behind all this: By standing for what you believe in, you are a threat to the social order they cherish – the “let’s all get together/along” mentality (providing they are in charge). The very idea that a single person with a simple answer based in truth can challenge them, yet alone be correct, is a huge threat to the social order they seek to be in charge of (and in many ways are now). So the fight here is not about whether Earth is warming or cooling ; it’s about something I think is far more sinister – the destruction of the will of the individual to stand for what he believes in. If we understand that, then you see the so-called fight is about something they will use to achieve their ends, no matter what the means.

Given all the evidence out there, what other conclusion can one come too? The fact is that men of good will are at a disadvantage if the fight is not what they believe it is. So all the polls in the world mean nothing to people who really don’t care about the answer, but only care that they get their way.

I want you to think about this winter, unforecasted by so many and like last winter, that keeps dragging on: Record ice cover on the Great Lakes right now at 70% coverage, and more snow coming this week in much of the northern tier of the nation as yet another warmup is getting beat back (relative to the season). Many of the signs of colder times across the globe always have compensating warmer areas somewhere else. But no matter what happens, everything now becomes a talking point for these people to push their agenda. And so the science here is a red herring.

I am just as skeptical about some mythical idea that we are winning the global warming debate as global warming itself. Why? Because the side that we are “debating” could care less about what the climate is actually doing. That is not their goal, and the so called scientific debate is merely a useful side issue to them.

While Rome is burning, Nero is fiddling (with science).

[First published at the Patriot Post.]

Categories: On the Blog

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Uses More Energy Than It Produces

Somewhat Reasonable - March 27, 2014, 11:00 AM

NLPC has detailed extensively the wastefulness and folly of spending billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars to subsidize wind energy, solar energy and electric vehicles, all in the name of fighting climate change.

But the complicated, uneconomical boondoggle that Duke Energy built inEdwardsport, Ind. so as to burn coal gasrather than coal – and thus produce less carbon dioxide than a traditional coal plant – may be the dumbest idea to fight imaginary global warming to date. If you swallow the alarmists’ premise and “solutions,” the plant so far is a joke, as recent evidence shows it is using more energy than it produces.

Edwardsport was supposed to cost $1.9 billion but that estimate was about $1.6 billion short. The project has hacked and wheezed since 2006 under evidence of cronyismcorruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became operational in June – for six days. Then it broke down, and intermittently juiced the grid for the remainder of 2013. Duke was only able to extract 37 percent of Edwardsport’s maximum capacity during the period,according to the Indianapolis Star. Hoosier State customers are paying up to 16 percent more for the privilege – a rate hike pretty much cemented into their bills last week by a state Court of Appeals decision.

Technology is supposed to improve over time, apparently except in the case of electric vehicle batteries and Southwest Indiana power plants. As the Indianapolis Business Journal reported, in an extremely cold January, the art-of-the-state coal gasifier eked out only four percent of its capacity.

“Edwardsport generated 19,644 megawatt hours of electricity,” theJournal reported, “enough to power about 20,000 homes, in one of the most frigid months on record, according to a Feb. 28 filing with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The new plant, at its maximum capacity, could have generated almost 460,000 megawatt hours in January.”

And now, in the latest battle Edwardsport has taken against global warming, the plant was found to have used more energy from September to November than it produced. The Business Journal reported earlier this month that Duke is trying to recover $1.5 million in fuel costs related to the plant, which is being challenged by Indiana’s Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor, which is supposed to advocate on behalf of utility customers.

“We’ve never seen an episode of negative generation as large as this,” said Anthony Swinger, a spokesman for the counselor’s office.

With all the failures and shortcomings, groups representing consumers and environmentalists have asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for an investigation. Duke argued that it already reports regularly on the plant’s operations to the IURC and therefore an investigation is unnecessary.

A settlement has limited the costs of the build-up of the plant for customers to $2.6 billion, while Duke’s shareholders are to absorb $900 million. But now that Edwardsport is officially “online,” critics fear that repairs and maintenance that should be charged against the original design of the plant, will instead be added as new costs for customers under routine ongoing upkeep. And with the Court of Appeals decision, the IURC does not appear willing to revisit the settlement over division of costs.

“The commission gave Duke a blank check for a science project,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, to industry publication SNL Energy.

Duke might not be feeling the pressure from the activist groups as much had the company not engendered distrust throughout the development and construction process. As costs skyrocketed, CEO Jim Rogers sought out help from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels in search of some kind of intervention between Duke and the contractors it felt should absorb some costs, General Electric and Bechtel. According to documents, Rogers also pursued financial support in Washington from federal programs intended for “clean coal” technology development. And two Duke officials were fired after the successful recruitment of an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission counsel to join Duke, while the lawyer still oversaw cases that concerned the utility. That attorney, Scott Storms, was reprimanded last month by the Indiana Supreme Court for his misconduct in the scandal.

In early 2012 the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor was sharply critical of Duke’s management of Edwardsport. According to The Star, the advocate agency believed Edwardsport illustrated “a compelling case of a company that, through arrogance or incompetence, has unnecessarily cost ratepayers millions of dollars and has set back the public’s trust in our regulatory process.” OUCC characterized Duke’s management of the project as “woefully unqualified” and its methods led to “unnecessarily complicated” engineering and construction costs.

“Duke has not demonstrated any budgetary constraints on this project,”testified Barbara A. Smith, director of OUCC’s resource planning and communications division. “There appears to be a lack of responsibility or accountability on the part of those causing these multimillion-dollar cost overruns.”

Nevertheless the IURC has determined that Edwardsport is a necessity to meet Indiana’s electricity demand in the future, and customers will pay for most of it. Duke has said it will take 15 months to get it to full operation. With energy intake vs. output in an upside-down situation after six months, how realistic can that be?

 

[Originally published at NLPC]

Categories: On the Blog

Learning from Extremists’ Tactics, Job Creators File a Lawsuit Against the Federal Government

Somewhat Reasonable - March 27, 2014, 10:00 AM

For years environmentalists have usurped individual private property rights and thwarted economic development. Now, thanks to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, it appears that the job creators may have finally learned something from the extreme tactics of groups, like the Wild Earth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which have been using the courts to their advantage by filing lawsuits against the federal government.

On Monday, March 17, on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA), Pruitt filed a lawsuit against the federal government, specifically the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The lawsuit alleges the “FWS engaged in ‘sue and settle’ tactics when the agency agreed to settle a lawsuit with a national environmental group over the [Endangered Species Act] listing status of several animal species, including the Lesser Prairie Chicken.”

The Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) is especially important, as the FWS is required—based on the conditions set forth in the settlement of a 2010 lawsuit—to make a determination, explicitly, on the LPC by March 31, 2014. A “threatened” listing would restrict the land use in the bird’s 40-million-acre, five-state habitat: Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. The affected area includes private, state, and federal lands—lands rich in energy resources, ranch and farm land—plus, municipal infrastructure, such as water pipelines and electric transmission.

Understanding the negative impact a listing would have, industry (oil and gas, electric transmission and distribution, pipelines, agriculture and wind energy), states, and the FWS have collaborated to develop a historic range-wide plan (RWP) to demonstrate that the LPC and its prairie habitat can be protected without needing to list it. The RWP includes habitat management goals and conservation practices to be applied throughout the LPC’s range. According to a press release about the Oklahoma law suit, the cooperative effort has spent $26 million dollars on the voluntary conservation plan—which would be more than enough to protect restore LPC habitat, as well as to develop an elaborate state-of-the-art LPC hatchery. RWP enrollees are optimistic the FWS can cite the conservation commitment as justification for a decision not to list the LPC as a threatened species.

A DEPA spokesman states: “this designation could disrupt drilling and exploration on hundreds of thousands of very promising oil and gas lands in this part of the country.” The CBD has made no secret of their disdain for oil and gas extraction and has filed many successful lawsuits specifically to block development.

Pruitt says: “the sue-and-settle timelines force the FWS to make determinations without a thorough review of the science. This violates the original statute requiring sound science before listing species.”

Stephen Moore, formerly with the Wall Street Journal, explains: “Under the Obama administration, the feds have entered into a consent agreement with the environmentalists to rush forward a judgment on an unprecedented number of species. A 2012 Chamber of Commerce study found record numbers of such ‘sue and settle’ cases under Obama.” Pruitt adds: “Under President Obama, we have had sue and settle on steroids.”

Political Impacts

The “rush” as Moore calls it, is being driven by the desire to get the decisions made under the friendly Obama Administration—which may appease the environmental base while, unwittingly, hurting Democrats in the 2014 elections and handing the Senate to Republicans.

The LPC decision impacts five western states, from which even Democrat Senators, aware of the potential economic impact, sent a letter to the FWS asking to delay listing the LPC as threatened. The next big listing is the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG) with a habitat covering eleven western states. If the LPC is listed, after the groundbreaking efforts to preserve its habitat, there will be no similar cooperation on the GSG. The GSG will surely be listed—triggering a modern Sage Brush Rebellion and costing Democrats the Senate (and some House seats, too).

The Democrats are in a bind. The rushed listings are being forced by the environmental base, which is myopically focused on the anti-fossil-fuel (job-killing) agenda of restricting oil-and-gas development on western lands and isn’t looking at the bigger political consequences.

It appears the decision has been made. Sources tell me that Dan Ashe, Director of the FWS, has called a meeting on Capitol Hill to brief the stakeholders prior to Thursday’s announcement. If he decides to list the LPC, Pruitt’s lawsuit could be just the first shot that ignites the new rebellion pushing states to take control of the lands within their borders.

Kent Holsinger, a Colorado-based attorney specializing in Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues, told me: “State wildlife management is much more efficient and effective than federal listings. Oklahoma and DEPA should be commended for pushing back on these issues.”

The environmentalists are looking at the end, but not the political means.

Power Shift

For CBD, it isn’t even about the science. Its staff page boasts three times as many attorneys as biologists.

In a High Country News interview with CBD co-founder Kieran Suckling, he explains how their strategy was developed through their first “major victory” over the Mexican wolf.

Previously environmental groups had no leverage with the government, other than saying “pretty please.” In the case of the wolf, groups proposed introducing it onto New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. The general in charge of the range had no interest. Suckling reports: “The strategy of the wolf coalition was to wait for the general to retire. We decided, let’s just sue instead. It got settled with the Service agreeing to do a wolf study, which led to reintroduction. That was the moment when we looked at it and said, ‘Wow.’ The environmental movement spent a decade going to meetings and demanding action and getting nothing done. They were asking powerful people for something from a position of no power. We realized that we can bypass the officials and sue, and that we can get things done in court.”

Suckling called lawsuits: “one tool in a larger campaign.” He explained: “we use lawsuits to help shift the balance of power from industry and government agencies, toward protecting endangered species. That plays out on many levels. At its simplest, by obtaining an injunction to shut down logging or prevent the filling of a dam, the power shifts to our hands. The Forest Service needs our agreement to get back to work, and we are in the position of being able to powerfully negotiate the terms of releasing the injunction.”

When asked if his lack of a degree in science was a hindrance, he answered: “No” and pointed out that “the professionalization of the environmental movement has injured it greatly.” He added: “I’m more interested in hiring philosophers, linguists and poets. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. It’s campaigning instinct.” They operate on emotion, not science.

Sue and Settle

It is these tactics, along with a friendly Obama government, that has led to the “sue and settle” procedure that Pruitt’s lawsuit is hoping to end. The lawsuit is seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the ESA.” Moore reports: “The relief is intended to overturn designations of dozens of species added to the threatened or endangered list through the ‘sue and settle’ process.”

The Oklahoma lawsuit asserts: “the Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by agreeing in its settlement with Wild Earth Guardians to not consider the statutorily-created ‘warranted but precluded’ category when determining the listing status of the 251 candidate species.” Additionally, the lawsuit states: “the FWS violated the law by agreeing to a truncated timeline to the decision-making process on the listing status of the 251 candidate species, essentially sidestepping the rule making process.”

Pruitt believes that: “because these settlements are taking place without public input, attorneys general are unable to represent the respective interests of their states, businesses, and citizens.” Forbes Contributor Larry Bell agrees: “While the environmental group is given a seat at the table, outsiders who are most impacted are excluded, with no opportunity to object to the settlements.”

Bell describes the “sue and settle” practice—sometimes referred to as “friendly lawsuits”—this way:

“Cozy deals through which far-left radical environmental groups file lawsuits against federal agencies wherein court-ordered “consent decrees” are issued based upon a prearranged settlement agreement they collaboratively craft together in advance behind closed doors. Then, rather than allowing the entire process to play out, the agency being sued settles the lawsuit by agreeing to move forward with the requested action they and the litigants both want.”

In a succinct soliloquy about the LPC and GSG, Fox Business’ Stuart Varney says: “I’ve always been amazed at the ability of a very small, but well-funded, group to get their way using the court system. But, that is what really is happening. The Sage Grouse and the Lesser Prairie Chicken interests are obviously far more important than America’s interest in energy independence.”

Gratefully, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has stepped up to the plate and used the environmentalists’ tactics and filed a lawsuit against the federal government. It will not delay the March 31 deadline for the FWS decision on the LPC, but it could “overturn designations of dozens of species added to the threatened or endangered list through the ‘sue and settle’ process.” It could prevent the unnecessary listing of thousands of other flora and fauna—allowing companies to continue providing the jobs, producing the oil, natural gas, and other commodities such as timber and critical minerals that are so important to America and our energy freedom.

 

[Originally published at Conservative Action Alerts]

Categories: On the Blog

Top Three Barriers to Paying Teachers $90k a Year

Somewhat Reasonable - March 26, 2014, 1:00 PM

Matt Damon made headlines a few years ago when he went on an expletive-laced screed about teachers’ poor (not his word, but close) salaries. It’s personal to him because Damon’s mother is an early childhood education professor.

Let’s agree with Damon that good teachers should earn a lot. The job can be very demanding, and it is crucial to society. So what would it take to pay teachers a great salary — say, something around $90,000 a year or more? That’s actually possible, without raising taxes or adding to the great American debt mountain. Here are three major barriers to that.

High benefits for a select few. When you count benefits, teachers actually make 152 percent of what they could earn in the private sector, according to research by Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine. The main reason is simple: Government pensions pay far more than private pensions (that’s one reason they’re flat broke at $1.2 trillion in the hole), and typically encourage people to retire after only 30 years of work. But because these pensions typically kick in after teachers have been in the same job for at least five to 10 years, the 55 percent of teachers who move before then essentially get nothing, whereas teachers who manage to stay put really make bank.

Making retirement benefits accrue at a steady pace and allowing them to follow teachers into new jobs would be fairer and in many places give teachers a salary boost, according to several studies.

Administrative bloat. School administrators also make out like bandits in government pension systems. A Missouri study found superintendents contribute 53 percent more to their pensions than a career teacher, but get pension benefits 89 percent higher. That means, as the study authors say, “Novice teachers are subsidizing a handsome payoff to better-paid administrators.”

A stunning study from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that, from 1950 to 2009, the number of nonteaching school staff in the United States increased seven times as much as the number of K-12 students. If the two had increased at the same pace, U.S. taxpayers would have saved $24 billion a year. On average, it would have provided an extra $12,314 per classroom per year. That’s not a bad pay raise.

Union pay scales. Giving in to unions’ demands, most school districts pay teachers according to two, and only two, factors: Credentials and time on the job. The more degrees and certificates a teacher gets, the more she gets paid, sometimes even if the coursework is not related to her job. And each year a teacher stays in the school district gets her a salary boost, whether she has improved or not.

Not paying according to how a particular teacher benefits her students means the best teachers are underpaid, and the extra wages they’re not getting are going to overpay the worst teachers, notes Stanford University economics professor Caroline Hoxby. This pushes the good teachers to leave the profession because they can get better pay elsewhere, and encourages the worst teachers to stay because they’re getting much better pay than they could elsewhere.

Teacher compensation policy matters beyond mere fairness, because good teachers make a huge difference to kids and, therefore, to society and the economy. Having a teacher in the top 5 percent for just one year raises a child’s lifetime earnings by $80,000, reduces her likelihood of becoming a teen mother, and makes her more likely to go to college, according to a blockbuster study of 2.5 million children over 20 years. Having a teacher from the top 20 percent for three to four years in a row would close achievement gaps between rich and poor kids, or between whites and minorities. Such academic gains have huge economic impacts in the aggregate: “the achievement gap between the U.S. and the world’s top-performing countries can be said to be causing the equivalent of a permanent recession,” says Stanford economist Eric Hanushek.

The U.S. school system doesn’t just punish good teachers with low salaries. By refusing schools and families the freedom to reward good teachers and encourage the worst to find other employment, it also blights kids’ life prospects. That’s not just impractical — it’s shameful.

 

[Originally published at Watchdog.org]

Categories: On the Blog

Individual Self-Determination vs. Ukrainian or Russian Nationalism (Part 2)

Somewhat Reasonable - March 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

In the early years of the nineteenth century the new nationalist idea of self-determination in establishing in what country people should live was considered a logical extension of the general idea of individual liberty and freedom of choice.

Just as an individual should have the liberty to guide his own life according to his own values, beliefs and ideals; just as he should be free to peacefully associate with whomever he chose on the basis of commonly shared goals or mutually beneficial exchanges; so, too, individuals should have the freedom to choose in what political state they wanted to live.

Freedom and the Government Under Which to Live

The (classical) liberal ideal included, therefore, the individual’s right to freedom of movement. That is, if an individual chose to move to another country to live, work or visit, and as long as he was peaceful in his conduct and paid his own way, then there should be no legal barriers preventing him from freely migrating from one part of the world to any other.

Thus, if a person did not agree with the government under which he was living, or considered himself in some way oppressed or persecuted by that political authority, he should have the freedom to “vote with his feet” and move to a political jurisdiction more to his liking and desire.

However, it was also argued that people should not necessarily have to leave their home and country due to oppression and control by an arbitrary and tyrannical government under which they lived. They should be able to influence and determine both who held political office in that country and through them the policies implemented by that government. Thus, arose the advocacy of representative government in place of absolute monarchies claiming to rule by “divine right.”

It was also argued, as stated in the American Declaration of Independence, that when a government has become oppressive, and after many reasonable and peaceful attempts for a redress of their grievances, individuals have a right to replace that government and form a new one that will respect and enforce their respective inalienable rights to life, liberty and honestly acquired property. This was the American Founding Father’s rationale for revolution and breaking away from Great Britain, and in forming their own new nation and political system.

Self-Determination and the Right of Peaceful Secession

But why should men have to resort to and bear the human and material costs of violent change if they no longer wished to live under a particular political authority? Thus, there arose the idea of a right to peaceful secession.

If a group of individuals who shared a set of common values and beliefs, or a similar language or culture wanted to form their own political country independent of the one that they had belonged to up to that time, or be joined with another existing political country through a territorial transfer, they should be free through peaceful plebiscite to make that decision.

The fundamental premise of this right to secession was that of the individual’s right of self-determination. This was explained with great cogency by the free market Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, in his book, “Liberalism” (1927):

“The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to another other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars . . .

“The right of self-determination of which we speak is not the right of self-determination of nations, but rather the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of every territory large enough to form an independent administrative unit. If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done.

“This is impracticable only because of compelling technical considerations [in the provision and enforcement of police and justice], which make it necessary that a region be governed as a single administrative unit and that the right of self-determination be restricted to the will of the majority of the inhabitants of areas large enough to count as territorial units in the administration of the country.”

The Collectivist Turn to National Self-Determination

The problem was that the idea of the individual’s right of self-determination in the form that Mises explained become replaced by the collectivist notion of national self-determination in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

That is, the unit of decision-making was not the individual, but “the people” as a whole defined as a national group sharing some characteristic such as a common language, culture, religion, ethnicity or race, and an often presumed shared “national homeland” over a particular geographical area.

Once established, the government representing that national group was to use its political authority to enforce the use of a particular language or to educate and indoctrinate all inhabitants of this “nation-state” into the cultural customs and traditions of that national group through government schooling, propaganda, and restrictions on the introduction of “alien” cultural influences – regardless of the wishes of the individual citizens of that country, including those who may happen to make up a linguistic or cultural minority in that nation-state.

Government Intervention Against National Minorities

Often in European history, national governments harshly discriminated against linguistic, ethnic or religious minorities within their national borders. Regulatory procedures have been used to restrict members of such a minority group from entering and practicing certain professions, occupations, or trades. Taxes have been imposed in an apparently “neutral language” that, in fact, ended up targeting certain sectors of the economy containing many members of the minority group, and thus placing them at a competitive disadvantage relative to the majority national group.

Economic intervention by the government through taxing and regulatory procedures and practices can and have imposed biased burdens on individuals and minority linguistic, ethnic and religious groups under the cover of “preserving” the majority national group’s cultural, linguistic, or historical heritage.

Here we see the “national self-determination” and government interventionist dilemmas in the current international crisis between Russia and Ukraine. This part of Europe never had the opportunity to fully absorb and integrate the ideas of “the West” concerning the political philosophy of individualism, personal freedom, private property, respect for contacts, and the general, impartial rule of law.

The Collectivism of Imperial and Soviet Russia

Carried over from both the older imperial era of Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution as well as the nearly seventy-five years of communist control and economic planning has been the notion that the sole purpose of government is to plunder others in society through political privileges, favors and “connections” with those in authority.

In old Russia under the absolute monarchy, the Czar was the ruler and nominal owner of all land and property on it. Possession was not a “right” belonging to the individual, but a privilege bestowed upon a person and his heirs for as long as it served the “pleasure” of the Czar.

Both commoner and nobleman were subject to having all that they possessed taken back by the Czar if they fell out of favor due to criticisms or opposition to the wishes of the absolute ruler. This could include exile to the vast wastelands of Siberia.

Following the communist revolution of 1917, all privately owned land and capital were confiscated and transferred to the new revolutionary socialist state. The means of production were controlled and managed by the new Soviet government through a comprehensive system of central planning – of course, in the name of the people and for their claimed benefit.

With the socialist government as the single monopoly producer and employer, every person within the Soviet Union had his fate and future determined and dictated by how he fit within the socialist “plan” of building the bright, beautiful collectivist future.

Political Privilege in the Soviet “Classless” Society

The asserted “classless society” of the Soviet Union was a huge and intricate system of power, position and privilege overseen, commanded and controlled by the Communist Party. Gradations of privilege permeated the entire Soviet system reflected in apartment allocations, accesses to special food shops and medical clinics, acceptance into institutions of higher learning for one’s children, and even designated resorts for rest and recreation based on one’s position within the Party structure and management or employment in the various state enterprises.

The Soviet system worked on the basis of “rank” within the hierarchies of power. Within the Communist Party structure subordinates paid “tribute” to those above them with “gifts” and “services,” and, in turn, these subordinates received “favors” and perks for loyalty and obedience from those “above,” in an almost feudalist relationship of lord and serf.

In such a system the notion of “rights” to life, liberty and property had no meaning. The only implicit rule was to get what one could from any privileged access to the resources and goods owned and produced by the state.

Cheating, manipulating, and stealing what you could was the nature of “competition” in the worker’s paradise of socialist central planning. The only “rules of the game” were to not get caught, remain on the “good side” of those above you in the communist power structure, and often use people in any way that might further your personal interest.

The Plunder Lands of Ukraine and Russia

This is the legacy inherited by those who came to power in the newly independent and “democratic” Ukraine, as well as in the post-Soviet Russian Federation.

Every political party that has come into office in Ukraine since 1991 has used the power of the State to enrich its leading members and others who have given support and allegiance to those in power who can bestow various privileges and favors.

Ukraine, like most of the other former Soviet Republics, has been a plunder land of abuse, corruption, and huge wealth grabs for plutocratic oligarchs and special interest groups that revolve around and manipulate the redistributive and interventionist halls of political power.

In Ukraine, however, the thousands who demonstrated against and overthrew the corrupt and murderous government of Victor Yanukovych in February 2014 have shown their desire, and some of them with the loss of their lives, that they want a new and more “Western”-oriented country.

Yet among those Ukrainians are a significant number ardent nationalists who are more concerned with their collectivist conceptions of a “protected” and enforced Ukrainian culture and language than an open and free society in which each citizen makes his own choices on such matters, and lives his life is own way as he considers best and most desirable.

The main difference between Ukraine and Russia over the last twenty-two years since the end of the Soviet Union in this regard is that Russia is a larger land to plunder and far worse in its political authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin.

Nothing happens in Russia without connections, “pull,” and bribes. Property rights have no meaning – a Russian or a foreigner can find that one day they own a business and the next it has been confiscated under some trumped up charges, with the Russian owner imprisoned and sent off to Siberia or in the case of the foreign investor being expelled from the country with a total loss of his investment.

The news media, especially radio and television, are under virtual government monopoly control. Even “independent” newspapers and other Internet information outlets are subject to conscious degrees of self-censorship under the threat of being shut down. Those from the West wishing to share and disseminate news or information that is in any way viewed by the Russian government as a challenge or threat to the existing system of power have their permissions to operate and their visas to reside in Russia revoked.

Dissent in the street is often met with harsh treatment from the police, and with the danger of high financial fines and uncertain periods of imprisonment.

Ethnic Conflicts within Russia

In addition, Russia’s central, regional and municipal governments have also dealt harshly with some ethnic minorities within the Russian Federation. Several Muslim and ethnic groups in southern European Russia in the Caucasus mountain region, especially the Chechens, have attempted to gain national independence.

This has resulted in massive physical destruction and thousands of deaths as the Russian government under Putin has tried to crush the rebellions in this part of the country. In response, the Chechens and some other related groups have resorted to indiscriminate and deadly terrorist attacks on civilian targets, including in Moscow and most recently, shortly before the winter Olympics, on a train station in Volgograd.

This has angered and frightened ethnic Russians in many parts of the country. Chechens and other groups from that southern region of European Russia have been beaten up, had their property vandalized, and in some cases have been killed in Moscow and other places. In addition, in spite of the fact that every Russian citizen is lawfully to have freedom of movement and residence within the borders of the Russian Federation, the Chechens and some other groups have been required to have residency permits or have been expelled from Moscow and other cities, simply based on their ethnicity.

Ukrainian and Russian Conflict over Crimea

In Kiev, it is said that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and cannot secede from that country, either to be independent or a part of Russia, without the approval of the entire country. In Moscow, it is said that Crimea is a historically important area for Russia, and the people of the peninsula had to decide whether or not to join the Russian Federation.

The problem is that Crimea is populated by three groups: Russian-speakers who make up almost 60 percent of the population, Ukrainian-speakers who represent around 25 percent of the people there, and the Muslim Tartars, who make up an additional 12 percent.

If any referendum on Crimea’s future were to require a vote by the entire population of Ukraine, or by the representatives in the parliament in Kiev, the Ukrainian majority would no doubt vote against it. This would result in many in the Russian-speaking majority in Crimea forced to live within a country to which they do not want to be a part.

Any vote in Crimea, even if “fair” and open to international supervision to prevent “irregularities” compared to the vote recently taken for incorporation into Russia, easily would end in the Russian majority expressing their desire for unification with the Russian Federation. This would leave many of both the Ukrainians and the Tartars forced now to be citizens of a country (Russia) they would prefer not to live in as a result of a change in the political lines on a map.

After the thuggish and brutal behavior of the ‘self-defense” gangs of Crimean Russians and the Russian military forces “hiding” their identities by not having official insignias on their jackets since the “non-invasion” by Russia, the Ukrainian and Tartar minorities most certainly would be frustrated and fearful of a pro-Russia outcome to such a free and impartial referendum.

At the same time, given the behavior of a seemingly sizable number of the Russian-speakers in Crimea to actively and aggressively support the move for annexation by Russia, if the peninsula remained a part of Ukraine resentment and anger against them could easily result in their lives being made “uncomfortable,” or even arrest and imprisonment of some of them as “traitors” to the Ukrainian motherland.

These alternative possible outcomes reflect the effect of thinking of self-determination in nationalist and collectivist terms. The “nation as a whole” of Ukraine has to decide, or the national majority within the entire Crimean peninsula must have its political way and impose it on the ethnic and linguistic minorities who live around them.

A More Individual Self-Determination Solution for Crimea

What, then, could be a (classical) liberal “third way” rather than a nation-wide Ukrainian referendum or a “winner-take-all” plebiscite on the Crimean peninsula? A solution to the dilemma along the lines presented by Ludwig von Mises would suggest that each village and town in Crimea should have a plebiscite, in which the residents would decide between independence, reunification with Russia, or continuing political unity with Ukraine.

A new political map of Crimea might look like a colored checkerboard, with some villages or towns where the majority of the occupants are Ukrainians or Tartars being the same color as Ukraine. Other portions of the Crimea, perhaps a large part of the peninsula, would be the same color as Russia on the map. And possibly some areas would be a different color different from either Ukraine or Russia, being those districts or towns in which the majority had opted to form a separate Crimean government.

Would this prevent the continuing discomfort of some ethnic or linguistic minorities who might still find themselves surrounded by a majority of people who speak a different language or practice different customs in the village or town in which they reside? Or would it prevent political discrimination or favoritism against them by the majority if state power were used in this way? Unfortunately, the answers are, “No.”

As long as people believe that it is the duty and responsibility of government to regulate commence and industry, redistribute wealth and interfere into the individual’s right of free and peaceful association, political power will be used and abused to benefit some at other’s expense.

But such a system of local plebiscite in determining both the formation of governments and the boundaries of political entities, would give each individual more weight in deciding his own future and fate than when he is lost in the great mass of people in the modern nation-state. And it would at least tend to minimize the number of people who might find themselves in the situation of being an ethnic or linguistic or other type of minority within a political entity.

The fact that some areas belonging to one political authority may not be contiguous to the others but separated by the territories of other countries need cause no problems if a minimum of freedom of movement and free trade exist between them. One particularly enlightened outcome of the European Union has been the dismantling of border controls, so people may move as freely between member countries, for the most part, as Americans take it for granted in traveling between and across the states that make up the U.S.

If such a more (classical) liberal method was followed as an answer to these types of disputes everywhere, then at least state borders and political frontiers would no longer be determined by blood and conquest, but by the local choices of the people themselves who reside in such areas.

In addition, they could be open to revision and change periodically as demographics and people’s preferences changed. A plebiscite might be held once every ten or twenty years, as a formality. Or it could be held whenever, for example, two-thirds of the population in an area petitioned for the holding of such a plebiscite.

Such a system for the defining of boundaries of political entities does not necessarily imply exclusionist nationalism. The people of some regions, towns or districts might wish to form separate states or join larger ones that are consciously multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic, and culturally diverse precisely because of the societal advantages of such pluralistic communities. Furthermore, to the extent that freedom of movement and trade existed, everyone could take advantage of global culture diversity and a commercial international division of labor.

The Ideal of Individualist Self-Determination for the Future

Unfortunately, too many people and their governments are not ready for such a system of tolerance and respect for the choices of their fellow individual human beings in establishing their political affairs and boundary lines. Too many still take the collectivist view that the group or tribe owns the entire territory of a nation-state, including those who live, work, and die within it.

But we may wish that after enough wars and conquests, civil wars and campaigns of terrorism against the innocent, people may finally come to see the importance and value of respecting the rights and choices of the other individuals with whom they live in this troubled world.

 

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Benefits of Global Warming Greatly Exceed Costs, New Study Says

Somewhat Reasonable - March 26, 2014, 8:06 AM

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) will issue its critique of the United Nations’ IPCC Working Groups II and III Reports at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 9.

The Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), and Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change will join NIPCC in presenting the report, published by The Heartland Institute.

What: Breakfast press conference with authors and reviewers of Climate Change Reconsidered IIBiological Impacts, and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies

When: Wednesday, April 9, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Where: National Press Club, Bloomberg Room, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC

Who: Joseph Bast, president, The Heartland Institute; Dr. S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia; Dr. Craig D. Idso, founder, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and others to be announced.

An international panel of climate scientists and economists will release a massive new report April 9 that finds the benefits of global warming “greatly exceed any plausible estimate of its costs.” The new report, the second and third volumes of Climate Change Reconsidered II, were produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) and published by The Heartland Institute.

The new report summarizes scholarly research published as recently as January 2014 on the impacts, costs, and benefits of climate change. Hefty chapters summarize thousands of peer-reviewed studies of the impact of rising levels of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas produced during the burning of fossil fuels – on plants and soils, agriculture, forests, wildlife, ocean life, and humankind.

Read chapters as they are edited and publicly posted at the Climate Change Reconsidered website.

The authors find higher levels of carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures benefit nearly all plants, leading to more leaves, more fruit, more vigorous growth, and greater resistance to pests, drought, and other forms of “stress.” Wildlife benefits as their habitats grow and expand. Even polar bears, the poster child of anti-global warming activist groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), are benefiting from warmer temperatures.

“Despite thousands of scientific articles affirming numerous benefits of rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2, IPCC makes almost no mention of any positive externalities resulting from such,” said one of the report’s lead authors, Dr. Craig D. Idso. “Climate Change Reconsidered II corrects this failure, presenting an analysis of thousands of neglected research studies IPCC has downplayed or ignored in its reports so that scientists, politicians, educators, and the general public can be better informed and make decisions about the potential impacts of CO2-induced climate change.”

The authors look closely at claims climate change will injure coral and other forms of marine life, possibly leading to some species extinctions. They conclude such claims lack scientific foundation and often are grossly exaggerated. Corals have survived warming periods in the past that caused ocean temperatures and sea levels to be much higher than today’s levels or those likely to occur in the next century.

The authors contend the world’s economies are heavily dependent on fossil fuels because such fuels are and will continue to be safer, less expensive, more reliable, and of vastly greater supply than alternative fuels such as wind and solar. Dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels would have devastating effects on workers and consumers of both the developed and developing worlds, leading to severe hardship and even deaths.

Rather than continue to fight what is most likely a natural and unstoppable phenomenon, the authors call for adopting new energy and environmental policies that acknowledge current market and environmental realities. Such policies would encourage economic growth as the foundation for a cleaner environment, responsible development and use of fossil fuels until superior energy sources are found, and repeal of many of the regulations, subsidies, and taxes passed at the height of the man-made global warming scare.

A Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the report, written in collaboration with the lead authors and approved by them, will be available at the press conference. The complete study will be released digitally in April and available in printed form in May.

 Previous volumes in the Climate Change Reconsidered series were published in 200820092011, and 2013. Those volumes are widely recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative critiques of the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In June 2013, a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a Chinese translation and condensed edition of the 2009 and 2011 volumes.

For copies of previous reports and background on NIPCC, please visit the Climate Change Reconsidered website. For more information on the event, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at 312/731-9364 or jlakely@heartland.org.

The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

Categories: On the Blog

U.N. Agenda 21 Designed to Spawn a One-World Government

Somewhat Reasonable - March 25, 2014, 10:40 AM

[This piece is co-authored by Bonnie O'Neil, vice president of Eagle Forum in CA.]

Although the initial impetus for Agenda 21 can be traced back to the Stockholm Conference of 1972, Agenda 21 became an official document at the 1992 Rio Conference through an extensive process of preparation at the professional level and negotiation at the political level.

Project 21 contained twenty-seven principles warning against a mode of growth that was leading to the extinction of life on earth.  As such, Project 21 represented a major step forward in establishing the basic principles that must govern the conduct of nations and peoples towards each other and the Earth to ensure a secure and sustainable future.  This plan was developed rather covertly, and due to that lack of transparency, we are still discovering some of the more grievous aspects of their Agenda.

Introduced as a cooperative task and challenge for world nations, Project 21 is based on two fundamental ideas:  development and environment.  To the Preparatory Council of the Rio Conference, it was impossible to have an environmentally sound planet in a socially unjust world, as these goals complement each other in each community and each country around the globe.  They claimed without a global order with greater justice, tranquil prosperity would exist for no one.  An awareness of belonging to a wider human community brought with it an obligation to reduce inequalities as a permanent cause if a better future were to be provided to mankind.

Notice all the “buzz” words in the above statement.  They should sound familiar, as they are words and labels used by our mainstream media and “progressives” of today to promote the concepts outlined in Agenda 21.

Upon learning of Agenda 21, and the vast scope of its reach into our lives, begs the question “How did it all happen and why haven’t I heard of it?”

It began when One hundred nations attended the 1992 Rio Education on Environment and Development (Agenda 21), and according to the UN information Center, all nations in attendance agreed to the document. 

Representing the U.S.A. was President George H. Bush, President, 1989 – 1993.  In a News Conference given in Rio de Janeiro on June 13, 1992, Bush’s opening statement included the following remarks prior to questions taken from reporters:

“Let’s me be clear on one fundamental point.  The United States fully intends to be the world’s preeminent leader in protecting the global environment.  We have been that for many years.  We will remain so.  We believe that environment and development, the two subjects of this Conference, can and should go hand in hand.  A growing economy creates the resources necessary for environmental protection and environmental protection makes growth sustainable over the long term.”

President Clinton signed U.N. Agenda 21 later on to continue the program in the United States.  Agenda 21 is “soft-law,” so elements of it don’t have to be voted on by the Congress.  That is particularly unfortunate, because the impact of this mandate will drastically impact our country in a myriad of ways, and yet basically two men inflicted this agenda on us all.    A non-governmental organization, International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), has the responsibility of carrying out the goals of Agenda 21.  Over 600 cities in the U.S. have since become members of ICLEI, and the number is growing.  Costs are paid by taxpayers.

Is it possible Bush and Clinton were unaware of the full impact Agenda 21 will have?  Has it changed from the time they were first introduced to it?  It is hard to imagine they would have inflicted on us what we are now in the process of experiencing.

They were likely persuaded by lofty Agenda 21 talking points, such as these which are taken from their website:

The concentration of population growth in developing countries and economic growth in the industrialized countries has deepened, creating imbalances which are unsustainable, in either environmental or economic terms. . . Population must be stabilized, and rapidly.  If we do not do it, nature will, and much more brutally.  The rich must take the lead in bringing their development under control, reducing substantially their impacts on the environment, leaving environmental ‘space’ for developing countries to grow.  The wasteful and destructive lifestyles of the rich cannot be maintained at the cost of the lives and livelihoods of the poor, and of nature.  

For the rich, the transition to sustainable development need not require regression to a difficult or primitive life.  On the contrary, it can lead to a richer life of expanded opportunities for self-realization and fulfillment.  More satisfying and secure because it is sustainable, and more sustainable because its opportunities and benefits are more universally shared.”

When our rights and quality of life are being stripped from us, those talking points will not appease us.  We will know the U.N. statements are simply “cleverly devised words and talking points” to push an anti-American way of life upon us.  The U.N. statements are designed to avoid negative public objections.   If we all realized the full impact of Agenda 21 objectives, we would not be at all compliant.  Fortunately, some have dug out the bare facts of how Agenda 21 will negatively impact our lives, and discovered a very dismal picture.  Imagine Russia just before it fell apart or possibly China today.  There will be few freedoms, if any at all for citizens, as the rules and regulations will dictate a whole different life for you and me.

Americans are largely in the dark about Agenda 21 because facts have largely been kept from the public, but also because the recession slowed their plans a bit.  However, they are now beginning to be more aggressive in their implementation process.  We all must learn of the specifics their plan.  Education is essential if we, the public, are to stop Agenda 21.  Hopefully, we can do so before experiencing the huge adverse effects on our lives.  Once implemented, it will be much harder to stop and restore what has been lost to us.

Are the American people going to sit passively by while the United Nations seeks to co-opt, via individual governments, and eventually spawn a one-world government where individuals are stripped of all personal rights and freedoms? The whole idea seems futuristic and impossible to comprehend, like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, but this is the goal of U.N. Agenda 21 for now, and it will happen unless an army of us rise up and demand it stop.

As Agenda 21 covers so many areas of our lives (sometimes called a whole life plan), each aspect of their agenda must be explained individually and carefully.  That is why we will be writing articles in several installments on issues relating to Agenda 21, among them being Property Rights and the Environment.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog
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