On the Blog

If Obamacare Is Saving the Impoverished, Why Are So Few Signing Up?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 5:48 PM

From its inception, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—popularly called Obamacare— has been touted as the necessary fix for the nation’s health care system needed prior to its passage.

Yes, it’s going to cost nearly $2 trillion over the next decade that the nation doesn’t have. Yes, it’s going to radically transform the entire health care marketplace and lead to significant cost increases for families and taxpayers. But no matter what the costs, the Obama administration told us, Obamacare is necessary because there were roughly 49 million Americans without health insurance in 2010, and something had to be done about it.

Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates between 9 and 10 million people have enrolled through health care exchanges so far in 2015, President Barack Obama still refuses to release or is unable to calculate the number of people who did not have health insurance prior to the passage of the ACA who are now covered.

For all the praises heaped on Obama for his signature program’s alleged success, no one outside of a select few in Washington, D.C. has any clue whether the ACA is actually helping large numbers of impoverished Americans.

Although hard data is not available to the public–which is odd if Obamacare really is the wild success so many of its proponents claim–new clues released by the Treasury Department suggest the ACA has been a massive failure at helping the poor attain health insurance.

According to a top federal tax official, 36 million Americans failed to purchase health insurance in 2014. Interestingly, an estimated 30 million of those people qualified for a penalty exemption under the ACA despite not having a qualified health insurance plan.

According to healthcare.gov, the primary exemptions for avoiding the Obamacare tax penalty are incarceration, living abroad for particular lengths of time, membership in a federally recognized Native American tribe, select religious affiliations, if the lowest-priced coverage available through the exchange would cost more than 8 percent of household income, membership in a health care sharing ministry, and financial hardship.

By examining data we do have about those groups and comparing it to the number of people the Treasury Department says will be eligible for an exemption, it’s easy to see that impoverished citizens are deliberately choosing not to sign up for Obamacare even though the primary purpose of the law was to help this very demographic.

Data shows there are about 6 million incarcerated Americans, about 1 million Native Americans living on tribal lands, and likely less than 1 million who would qualify for religious exemptions, assuming the largest groups are the Amish and Mennonites. If we add another 4 million people to the total to account for Americans living abroad, a figure that gives Obama the benefit of the doubt, there are roughly 18 million Americans remaining who can’t afford Obamacare, believe the cost to be too prohibitive, or are members of a health care sharing ministry because the insurance offered is more affordable.

No matter how the Obama administration wants to spin it, there are more than 15 million Americans—far more than the number who actually enrolled through an exchange—who have decided against Obamacare despite qualifying for some sort of financial exemption.

If Obamacare, with all of its costs, regulations, and mandates, is necessary to help the tens of millions of Americans who did not have health insurance prior to the passage of the ACA, why have so many people who are poor enough to qualify for an Obamacare tax exemption found the exchanges to be anything but affordable?

[Originally published on Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Falling Unemployment Rate Is More Than A Little Misleading

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 5:42 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its January 2015 report this morning, and on the surface the situation looks good for the Obama administration: 257,000 jobs were added in January, wages improved, and the number of full-time workers increased. The unemployment rate did go up by 0.1 percentage point, to 5.7 percent, but analysts agree this is the result of more Americans looking for jobs, not a slowing economy.

Although the BLS report presents multiple positive economic indicators, the truth is that all of them, especially the unemployment rate, mask serious concerns about U.S. economic growth. When more precisely analyzed, it’s clear the economy is not improving nearly as quickly as President Barack Obama would have the nation believe.

One of the best indicators of this is the labor force participation rate (LFPR) — the percentage of the available population considered to be working or looking for work. One of the primary reasons the unemployment rate dropped so significantly from the 10 percent mark it reached at the height of the recession in 2010 is that the percentage of the population considered to be in the labor pool declined greatly.

The LFPR for January was 62.9 percent, the lowest participation rate for the month of January since 1978, and the number of Americans not in the labor force reached 93 million for the first time ever. Incredibly, there are now 12 million more people not in the U.S. labor force compared to when Obama first took office in 2009.

The mass exodus of Americans out of the workforce has undoubtedly helped improve unemployment figures, explaining why they show significant growth contrary to other economic indicators.

Average U.S. wages are another important sign the economy is not improving nearly as quickly as many of Obama’s supporters say. Since January 2009, average private hourly wages have increased from $22.00 to $24.22, just a little more than what was needed to match inflation over that period.

The 41 cent increase in wages from January 2014 to December 2014 was much less than what was needed to keep up with higher costs for consumers. According to the BLS consumer price index, “food at home” prices increased by 3.7 percent; the cost of gas services at home rose by 5.8 percent; electricity costs moved up by 3.1 percent; and the cost of medical care services increased by 2.4 percent.

All of these figures help explain why the U-6 unemployment rate — which measures “the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force” — remains above 11 percent nationally.

In a February opinion piece posted on Gallup’s website, titled “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment,” Gallup CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton wrote, “There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

Clifton is 100 percent correct. Although the slightly improving unemployment rates mean very little, media outlets and politicians continue using and abusing them, hoping the lie will stick. So far, they’ve been successful — unlike the millions of people who have given up looking for work and are being ignored by the official unemployment rate and the media.

[Originally published at The Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Economy Continues to Struggle Despite Unemployment Report

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 5:32 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its January 2015 report on Friday, and the Obama administration is sure to be happy with its findings.

According to the report, the U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate moved up slightly to 5.7 percent. The number of full-time workers also increased, along with a slight improvement in wages.

But despite all of the seemingly positive news, key economic indicators still suggest the economy has improved little over President Barack Obama’s time in office. Many Americans are actually worse off than they were at the start of 2014.

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the unemployment drop is that it fails to take the labor force participation rate—the number of people considered to be working or actively looking for work—into account when presenting unemployment data. This is especially important because since Oct. 2009, when the U.S. unemployment rate hit 10 percent, the number of workers considered to be a part of the workforce relative to the size of the population plummeted.

In Oct. 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65 percent, according to the BLS. The most recent available data indicate that although the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent in Oct. 2009 to 5.7 percent in Jan. 2015, the participation rate has significantly dropped to 62.9 percent.

The data show that one of the key reasons the unemployment has fallen is there are less people in the available labor pool relative to the population, not because the economy is growing at a rapid rate. If today’s labor participation rate existed back in Oct. 2009, the unemployment rate would have been 6.5 percent, not 10 percent. This means that since 2009, relatively speaking, the U.S. unemployment rate has improved by less than 1 percentage point.

The reason unemployment appears to be progressing at such a significant rate since the height of the recession is because the Obama administration’s employment data are wildly misleading the American public; the so-called improvement is truly unimpressive when all the relevant factors are taken into consideration.

Another important economic indicator to consider is the quality of the work available. While it’s true average private hourly earnings improved to $24.63 in Dec. 2014 from $24.22 in Jan. 2014, this increase was just barely enough to keep up with inflation, and the wage increase is not enough to match the rising cost of food, electricity, gas, and medical care commodities and services, according to the BLS consumer price index for all urban consumers.

No reasonable person will argue the economy is worse off than it was at the height of the 2008 economic crash, but those who claim America’s economic outlook has dramatically improved over the past two years are simply not paying attention to myriad data that prove the opposite to be true.

The unemployment rate remains one of the go-to signals of economic improvement or decline for many pundits and media outlets, but those who are serious about studying the state of the U.S. economy know the unemployment rate has transformed into nothing more than a political tool for presidential administrations, both past and present, to use at their leisure to mislead Americans into believing the economic climate is better or worse than it actually is.

[Originally published at Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s Free-Tuition Plan Already Exists, and You’re Paying for It!

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 5:25 PM

One of the most hotly contested proposals put forward by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address is the president’s free-tuition plan for students attending two-year community colleges. Called the “America’s College Promise” proposal by the Obama administration, the plan promises to cover tuition for qualifying community college programs for students who maintain a GPA of 2.5. The White House says the plan is expected to cost $80 billion over the next 10 years.

Obama administration spokesperson Eric Schultz said although the proposal is a “significant investment… it’s one the president believes is worthwhile because we need to make sure that America’s young people are getting the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

Pundits on both sides of the aisle have already lined up to praise the president’s plan or to denounce it as another costly government social program the nation cannot afford.

What the White House isn’t telling you and what many political talking heads fail to realize is that the free-tuition plan is really just a political ploy that does nothing to help students because existing programs, already in place, largely cover the cost of two-year community college programs at taxpayers’ expense.

According to the College Board, the same organization that runs the SAT exams, the published tuition and fee price at public two-year community colleges is $3,350. This figure is more than $2,000 less than the $5,500 nearly all students attending college can receive in guaranteed federal student loans and about $150 less than the subsidized loans most students are eligible for.

The president’s argument that a free-tuition program is necessary to help give all Americans access to quality education is simply not true; the federal government already provides access through its loan programs.

Some suggest that a free-tuition program is necessary despite the available federal loan offerings because too many students are stuck with massive tuition bills when they graduate college. While this is certainly a problem­—one that has only grown since the federal government has become more involved in the student loan industry under Obama­—the reality is that federal tax exemptions and existing grants already offset the entire cost of community college for many students.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit, for instance, provides a tax credit for up to $2,500 of the cost of attendance at any college for up to four years. Amazingly, up to $1,000 of the credit is refundable, which means students or their parents are eligible to receive it in most situations even if no other taxes are owed. This means that a student can loan out the cost of his or her tuition at a two-year college using federal loans subsidized by taxpayers and then receive a tax refund check of as much as $1,000, all without having to pay a single penny out of pocket.

Other federal programs also exist to help students who come from low-income households. Pell grants, perhaps the most famous of these programs, offers a maximum of $5,730 for college expenses, far more than the average cost of tuition at two-year community colleges, and the grants do not need to be repaid.

The mythology fabricated by the Obama administration surrounding access to higher education claims students are in desperate need of government assistance to stay competitive in the global marketplace, but the truth is that the government is already aiding these students much or more than Obama’s State of the Union proposal.

The president’s America’s College Promise plan is nothing more than political theater designed to win political favor with an American public still enduring a sluggish economic recovery. The only people this program will help are those who live and work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

[Originally published at Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – John Eick: What is ALEC?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 1:50 PM

In today’s edition of the Heartland Daily podcast, Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett talks with John Eick. Eick is the Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.

In that role, John works with state legislators and private sector members, including think tanks like Heartland, and companies to develop model legislation that can be adopted by the states to improve their environmental quality while expanding their economic growth.

ALEC also does research at the request of state legislators concerning pressing environment, energy and natural resource matters. ALEC promotes a more appropriate balance between the responsibilities and authority of state governments and the federal government, which has in recent years become ever larger, arguable illegitimate and unconstitutional role in managing energy development and environmental protection in the state.

Eick discussed some model environment resolutions and bills that passed ALEC at its recent summit in Washington D.C. He also talks about research examining the cost of the onslaught of federal regulations from the Obama administration’s EPA on the nation and individual states.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Morality of Capitalism: Liberty, Honesty, and Humility

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 12:25 PM

In American culture there is one persistent villain portrayed as the enemy of humanity, the perpetrator of deception, and the agent for social corruption and human harm: the businessman.

Whether in news commentaries or on the movie screen, the businessman is presented as a heartless, greedy manipulator so concerned with squeezing the last possible dollar out of anything he does, that he is willing to destroy the planet, kill his competitors, poison little children, and sell his own mother “down the river” if it will serve his material and financial purposes.

The only thing that saves us from the end of the world at the hands of these criminal private enterprisers is either some righteous individual who refuses to “take it any more” or the virtuous hand of a government agent dedicated to protecting mankind from those who, clearly, care nothing for the common good of humanity.

Critics of Capitalism Want to Abolish or Regulate It

This imagery of the businessman’s way of gaining profits has been extended by many intellectuals, academics, and public policy pundits into a general criticism and, indeed, condemnation of capitalism.

What can be praiseworthy, ethical or just in a social and economic system that fosters people to focus only on their self-centered personal interest in the pursuit of material gain with little or no thought to the betterment and improvement of mankind?

The conclusion that many of these critics have reached over the years and decades is that the entire capitalist system must be done away with and replaced with an alternative social and economic system such as socialism; or, at a minimum, business enterprise has to be placed under the detailed supervision and regulatory hand of government bureaucrats presumed to be concerned with and devoted to the general welfare of the country as a whole instead of individual private interest.

I beg to differ from this interpretation of businessmen and the free enterprise system in general. Instead, I would argue that a truly free enterprise, competitive capitalism is the most moral and humanely beneficial way for people to live together that has ever been stumbled upon by mankind.

Capitalism’s Premise: Individual Rights and Liberty

There are basically two way human beings can interact and associate with each other: through the threat or use of force or by mutual agreement and voluntary consent.

When have you ever walked into a shoe store looked around and, maybe, tried on a pair of shoes, but when you decided to leave without buying anything a gruff and intimidating character with a club or a gun said, “The boss says you ain’t leaving without buying something”? I doubt it any of us have had any such experience.

Why? Because the philosophical and moral premise underlying transactions in the marketplace is that each participant has the right to say, “Yes” or “No” to an offer and an exchange.

Why does every person have this implied right to “Yes” or “No” without attempted physical intimidation or use of force to make him act against his will? This is due to the fact that the foundational American principle is that every one of us has an inviolable individual right to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property.

Virtually every other philosophical and political system throughout human history has been based on some version of the opposite. That is, that you do not own yourself; your life and property are at the disposal of the primitive tribe or the medieval king, or the social, national, or racial group or “democratic” community to which you’ve been designated as belonging.

That is the premise of all forms of political and economic collectivism. You work for the group, you obey the group, and you live and die for the group. The political authority claiming to speak and act for the group presumes to have the right to compel your acquiescence and obedience to the asserted needs and desires of that collective group.

Only liberal, free market capitalism as it developed in parts of the Western world, and especially in the United States, broke free of this age-old collectivist conception of the relationship between the individual and others in society.

The modern ideas of individual liberty and free enterprise that began to develop and be argued for about 350 years ago transformed the way men lived and earned a living, and the ethical premises underlying human association in society.

A new morality emerged under which human relationships became based on mutual consent and voluntary agreement. Men could attempt to persuade each other to associate and trade, but they could not be compelled and plundered so one person could get what he wanted from another without their consent.

For Americans, it is heralded as the fundamental principle under which our country was based: It is held to be a self-evident truth that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights among which are their individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Capitalism Fosters Honesty and Good Manners

As a consequence of this principle of liberty, in the marketplace of the free society individuals learn and practice the etiquette and manners of respect, politeness, honesty and tolerance. This naturally follows from the fact that if violence is ethically and legally abolished, or at least minimized, in all human relationships, then the only way any of us can get others to do things we would like them to do for us is through reason, argument, and persuasion.

The reason why the shoe salesman is motivated to act with courtesy and deference toward us when we are in his store is precisely because he cannot force on us to buy a pair of the shoes he wants to sell. We can walk down the mall corridor and buy those shoes from another seller interested in winning our business, or we can just go home without buying anything that day.

The clichés of “serve with a smile,” or “the customer is always right,” in fact are inescapable resulting manifestations of the voluntarist principle at the basis of all market transactions.

No businessman is likely to keep his market share or even stay in business in the long run if he earns a reputation for rudeness, deception and dishonesty in his dealings with either other businesses or his consumer customers.

The famous Scottish economist of the 18th century, Adam Smith, long ago explained that the motivation for respectful, polite, honest and deferential behavior on the part of any businessman is his own self-interest. If he does not, he may not long remain in business, as every private enterpriser knows who had learned to appreciate the importance of gaining and maintaining his brand-name and personal reputation in the eyes of all those with whom he has dealings.

Such polite, courteous, honest and deferential behavior may start out as the self-interested conscious and intentional attempt to merely succeed in the market pursuit of profits, when voluntary and free market dealings and transactions become the common and everyday way in which people associate.

But, over time, such rules of “good behavior” become habituated, a part of the routine of regular day-in and day-out interactions, until, finally, they are transformed into the customs and traditions expected in any and all human encounters, whether in the marketplace or not.

Thus, the practice of self-interested good manners and respectful tolerance fostered first in commercial buying and selling become embedded and reinforced as the general societal rules and ways of civilized and “polite society.” And, thus, capitalist conduct makes its contribution to a more cultured and humane civilization.

Capitalism Creates a Spirit of Humility, Not Political Arrogance

Finally, I would suggest that free market capitalism also inculcates a spirit and attitude of humility. In the open and competitive marketplace, anyone who has an idea or a dream is free, in principle, to try to bring it into reality. No private person or political power has the right or authority to prevent him from entering the field of enterprise and trade to discover if his idea or dream can profitability be brought to fruition.

The capitalist “rule of the game” is that anyone is at liberty to enter the arena of enterprise if he has the will, determination and drive to attempt to make that new product, that better product, that less expensive product. This implicitly takes for granted as an underlying assumption that no one, not any of us, has the knowledge, wisdom and ability to know beforehand whose ideas and efforts can turn out to be a success rather than a failure.

The Austrian economist and Nobel Prize-winner, F. A. Hayek, once referred to competition as a “discovery procedure.” If we knew ahead of time who in a marathon, for example, would come in first, second, third and so forth, as well as the actual relative times of the runners, what would be the purpose of running the foot race?

Even when we have the track record of previous marathons, and think we know something about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the competitors looking ahead to a future race, the fact is we do not know how the race will actually play out, until the runners finish the course.

The humility of the marketplace, no matter how strongly confident the individual businessmen may be in their own ideas and abilities, is that no one – neither an private individual nor even the most well-informed government bureaucrat – has sufficient knowledge and forethought to successfully “pick winners” and “avoid losers” for the good of society as a whole.

This can only be found out through the competitive rivalry of the private enterprisers who are each trying to make the product or supply the service that will gain the business of customers, as found out from whose products or services the buying public actually decide are the ones that best fulfill their existing or discovered needs, desires and wants.

Capitalism’s Moral and Virtuous Watchwords

The watchwords of capitalist free market morality, therefore, are liberty, honesty and humility. The freedom of each individual to live and choose for himself; the ethics of fair dealing – that is, human relationships on the basis of force and fraud are banned in all their forms; and the modesty to admit and accept that none of us is wise enough to arrogantly claim the right to plan and coercively direct others in society.

Not only would it be morally wrong to presume to tell others how best to live by reducing them to the status of commanded followers of our own ideas and desires, it would limit what all mankind can accomplish to what the government central planner or regulator can imagine and know within the limits of his own mind’s possibilities for understanding all that there is to know.

How much better, both for the individual and all the rest of us, to leave everyone at liberty to think, imagine, and act as they consider most profitably best for themselves, so all in society can, also, benefit from what a human mind can creatively conceive that others may not.

We live at a time in which real-world capitalism is hampered and stymied in almost every direction by the heavy hand of government regulation, control, restriction, prohibition and taxation. It is politically managed and manipulated capitalism, and very far, therefore, from the truly free market capitalism that I have outlined in terms of its moral premises and social virtues.

It is certainly not the twisted conception of “capitalism” that is presented in the media and the movies. Real free market capitalism, by recognizing and respecting the right of the individual to his own life and liberty and honestly acquired property, is that economic system that offers humanity the most moral system of human association imaginable by and for man.

Free market capitalism is the ethical highroad to human dignity and mutual prosperity – if only we are willing to fully establish and consistently practice it.

(The text is based on a talk given at the James Island Exchange Club in the Charleston, South Carolina area, February 9, 2015)

[Originally published at EpicTimes]

 

Categories: On the Blog

2014– Hottest Year Ever Recorded? Look!

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 11:37 AM


Figure 1

You can see immediately that 2014 is not the hottest year among even the last 18 years. Not by a long shot. Why is this chart be so different from the widely reported announcement in January by NOAA and NASA that 2014 was the hottest ever (“ever” being just since 1880, when records began)? The difference results from different temperature data being used. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) base their analyses on surface temperature measurements. The graph shown above is based on satellite measurements, which are far more accurate and don’t show any warming. Satellite measurements show 2014 was only the sixth warmest year of the last 18.

Since 72 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, temperature measurements are unavailable for a large part of the earth’s surface. By contrast, satellite measurements cover the entire earth not just at the surface but at various elevations all the way to the top of the atmosphere. There are over 160 meteorological satellites orbiting the earth and transmitting 80 million measurements every day to an accuracy of one one-hundredth of a degree. Land based thermometers can do no better than one-tenth of a degree. Clearly the satellite data is far more comprehensive and accurate than that of the surface stations. In fact, the satellite measurement systems were developed because of the weaknesses and inaccuracies of the land-based network. Yet neither NASA nor NOAA use the satellite data.

Those two agencies reported the amount of warming that made 2014 the hottest year was two-hundredths of a degree. No mention was made of the accuracy of the measurement or the range of probable error. It is against normal scientific practice to have a margin of error greater than the precision of the measurement. Yet a two-hundredths degree of warming was reported based on temperature measurements with an accuracy of one-tenth of a degree—that is, the error bar was five times larger than the reported result. An error of a tenth of a degree is in the statistical 95% uncertainty range.

Even greater uncertainty has been exposed by examination of the data itself. It has been subjected to bias, both deliberate and unintentional, in several ways which do not occur with satellite data.

In 2007 it was revealed that GISS had been artificially inflating U.S. temperatures by 0.15 degrees Celsius since the year 2000. NASA had claimed that six of the ten hottest years in U.S. history had occurred since 1995. When the erroneous data was corrected, 1998 (an unusually warm year due to El Nino—not carbon dioxide) was no longer the warmest year of the past century in the US. It fell to second place, with 1934 now being the warmest. And third place now belonged to 1921, not 2006. The formerly high-ranking years 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 fell well down the leader board—behind even 1900. Four of the top ten were now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938, 1939. Since more than 80 percent of the century’s increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide occurred after 1940, the warmer temperatures of earlier years can’t be explained by higher carbon dioxide levels.  So why should we believe all the hype about increased CO2 emissions causing catastrophic warming in the future? Remember, too, that while CO2 was increasing steadily since 1940, the earth’s temperature was decreasing from 1940 until 1975—leading to widespread media reports about fears of a new ice age.

In April 2008 Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre documented that NASA has been “rewriting history time and time again.”  Still, NASA continued the process. It falsely reported that October 2008 was the warmest October on record. Statistical scientists jumped on this claim, leading even NASA to admit it was wrong.

Then meteorologist Anthony Watts caught GISS and James Hansen doctoring data records from Santa Rosa, California, and potentially other temperature stations. The charts below show how Hansen and his underlings turned a long-term decline into a long-term temperature increase.

Raw Data:                                                                            Figure 2 GISS “Adjustment”:                                                                            Figure 3

Figure 2 shows actual readings reported by the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). GISS arrives at its numbers, illustrated on Figure 3, by taking the USHCN data and applying secret adjustments. USHCN reports a temperature decline of nearly one-half degree Celsius during the twentieth century, while GISS reports an increase of one-half a degree. Hansen has refused to explain how and why he makes these adjustments. His s secrecy raises an ethical and perhaps legal question of whether the head of an agency federally funded by U.S. taxpayers can refuse to disclose how those funds are spent. It also raises the question of whether the adjustments are legitimate or merely deliberate manipulations contrived to produce a desired result.

James Hansen is the NASA scientist who started the whole global warming hysteria in 1988 when he told a Senate committee he was 99 percent sure global warming was already underway. The news  media seized upon Hansen’s unsupported testimony and parlayed it into an impending planetary crisis. A new industry was born. Billions of dollars were spent, and tens of thousands of jobs were created, giving rise to growing numbers of people with vested interests in promoting the specter of global warming. James Hansen gave them ammunition. For years, as head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), he has “repeatedly been caught providing erroneous temperature reports that always err on the side of claiming more warming than has occurred,” wrote James Taylor in the February 2009  issue of Environment & Climate News. Perhaps this explains why Hansen has been adamantly opposed to having NASA utilize satellite temperature data.

There are five official temperature data records. Three of these are surface records. The other two are satellite records furnished by Remote Sensing Service (RSS) and the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAL).

The three surface records are NASA’s (GISS), NOAA, and the University of East Anglia/Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office. All three are run by passionate believers in man-made global warming, and all three depend ondata supplied by ground stations via the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN), managed by the US National Climate Data Center under NOAA. A shocking report by two veteran meteorologists Anthony Watts and Joseph D’Aleo states, “All the data centers, most notably NOAA and NASA, conspired in the manipulation of global temperature records.” Thus all three do not display independent research confirming the work of the others; instead they demonstrate their common corruption.

Here’s another example of tampering with climate data, this one reported very recently, January 2015. It covers massive falsification of records for 65 years of data covering a vast area stretching across Brazil and Paraguay. PaulHomewood noticed that this area, according to GISS records, showed a temperature rise between 1950 and 2014 of more than twice the accepted global increase for the entire century. He was able to compare the original data with what was reported by GISS. Far from the temperature increase shown by GISS, the original data showed the temperatures declined by a full degree over those 65 years. The graphs below demonstrate this difference for the Puerto Casada station.

The adjusted graph from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

                                                                     Figure 4 Below, the raw data in graph form:                                                                       Figure 5 Only two other rural stations exist in this vast area, and Homewood found the same thing happened with data there. You can see these graphs here. There is a far larger and more serious distortion in the global temperature data than falsifying the reports from the individual measuring stations.Temperature records throughout the world have been falsified by manipulating the locations of the reporting stations. Beginning about 1990, higher-altitude, higher-latitude, and rural stations were removed from the network in order to create a false warming trend. The global temperature record that used to be based on 6,000 reporting stations now is based on fewer than 1,500. The thoroughly-researched 106-page report by Joseph D’Aleo and Anthony Watts documents the effect with this graph: Figure 6


The rise in global temperature correlates with eliminating
data from weather stations likely to show cooling,

In many cases the stations are still reporting, but their data are no longer utilized. Often the stations have been replaced by others more likely to show warming from lower elevations, lower latitudes, or urban development, which reflects the well-known “heat island” effect of cities. Data gaps are filled in by extrapolating from nearby stations.  Here are some examples from the D’Aleo/Watts report:

“In the cold countries of Russia and Canada, the rural stations in the Polar Regions were thinned out leaving behind the lower latitude more urban stations. The data from the remaining cities were used to estimate the temperatures to the north. As a result the computed new averages were higher than the averages when the cold stations were part of the monthly/yearly assessment.

“In Canada, the number of stations dropped from 600 to less than 50. The percentage of stations in the lower elevations (below 300 feet) tripled and those at the higher elevations above 3,000 feet were reduced by half. [The] depicted warmth comes from interpolating from more southerly locations to fill northerly vacant grid boxes, even as a simple average of the available stations shows an apparent cooling.”

Environment Canada reports that there are 1400 weather stations in Canada, many reporting even hourly readings that are readily available on the internet but not included in the global data base. Canada has 100 stations north of the Arctic Circle, but NOAA uses just one.

The Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) claims the Hadley Center has tampered with the Russian data: “The IEA believes the Russian meteorological station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25 percent of such stations in its reports. The Russian station count dropped from 476 to 121 so over 40 percent of Russian territory was not included in global temperature calculations for some other reasons than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.”

The Russians found that the 121 sites used gave mostly warmer reports than the 355 unused sites. In some cases stations records going back into the 19th Century were ignored in favor of stations with less data but which pointed to warming. The IEA team stated, “Only one tenth of meteorological sites with complete temperature series are used.”

In Europe higher mountain stations were dropped and thermometers were marched toward the Mediterranean, lower elevations, and more cities. The station dropout was almost 65 percent for Europe as a whole and 50 percent for the Nordic countries.

Africa is not showing warming despite efforts to make it appear so by eliminating thermometers from cool areas like the Moroccan coast and moving them toward the Sahara.

Analyst E. Michael Smith found that most of the stations remaining in the United States are at airports. Most mountain stations of the west are gone. In California the only remaining stations are in San Francisco, Santa Maria, Los Angeles and San Diego.

As recently as 1988, temperature records for China came from over 400 stations. In 1990, only 35.

The raw temperature data show no trend in temperatures in Northern Australia in 125 years. The IPCC, however, uses “adjusted” data. NOAA makes data “adjustments” to remove “inhomogeneities” and for other reasons. The D’Aleo/Watts report says, “We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? NOAA added a huge, artificial, imaginary trend to the most recent half of the raw data.” The raw temperatures in Darwin were falling at 0.7 C. per century. After the NOAA adjustment, the temperatures were rising 1.2 C per century.

NASA applies an “urbanization adjustment,” but Steve McIntyre reveals that NASA made the adjustment in the wrong direction, exaggerating the warming effect instead of showing what the temperatures would be without urban development. NASA is always tampering with its data. John Goetz has shown it “adjusted” 20 percent of its data sixteen times in two and a half years.

Lastly, we take note of the absurdity of recent studies and observations purporting to show that the effects of global warming are already occurring. In a cause-and-effect relationship, the effect cannot occur before the cause. You can’t have effects from global warming when there is no global warming and has been none for over 18 years—despite a massive increase in carbon dioxide emissions.  Clearly carbon dioxide emissions have not caused global warming, because the actual temperature records show no warming. Those records have been falsified to justify the global warming doctrine for political purposes.

[Originally published at American Liberty]

Categories: On the Blog

How the States Can Make the Debt Ceiling Debate Real

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 10:39 AM

For the past year or so, there has been no statutory limit on how much the federal government borrows. The debt ceiling was abandoned in the last budget deal. But in the coming weeks, it is scheduled to return—along with the predictable illusion of a debate over whether to lift the ceiling or not.

We can fairly predict the debt ceiling debate will boil down to political theater—cynics would call it a kabuki performance—because Washington always lifts the debt ceiling. Of course, fervent handwringing will no doubt ensue during that debate. It is even possible that the federal government will “shut down” (which really means: “selectively cease operations so as to punish the public collectively for any delay in debt spending”). If the champions of fiscal responsibility try nothing new, business-as-usual will quickly and inevitably resume.

But there is a real chance things could be different this time. Something new is indeed afoot. At least twelve states have filed or will file legislation to join the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which was formed by Alaska and Georgia last year. Together, if these fourteen states are successfully joined by twenty-four more, the Compact could deliver a federal Balanced Budget Amendment as soon as next year.

All that is needed is for simple majorities of Congress to do what they got elected to do by passing a resolution to set the Compact’s amendment process in motion.

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar and a growing contingent of his colleagues are poised to do just that. Gosar plans to introduce the congressional resolution that will activate the Compact for a Balanced Budget. He knows that passing the resolution would be the perfect countermeasure to demands for still more debt spending.

No presidential signature is required for the Compact-activating resolution. By contrast, overcoming presidential threats to popular spending programs in the course of the debt ceiling debate can only be overcome via the passage of new appropriations that require a presidential signature. By supporting the resolution activating the Compact for a Balanced Budget, congressional champions of fiscal responsibility could finally get something done instead of burning all of their political capital in the course of losing the debt-ceiling debate (yet again). The debt ceiling debate could be lost (as always) safe in the knowledge that the war would ultimately be won by advancing the Compact’s Balanced Budget Amendment.

Once ratified, the Compact’s proposed amendment would bring permanent external discipline to Washington by imposing a constitutional debt limit. That debt limit could only be lifted with the approval of a majority of state legislatures within sixty days after an increase is proposed by Congress. State legislators who are familiar with budgeting and state debt limits, who are closer to the American people, and who have no control over the underlying appropriations would be in a position to judge the wisdom of borrowing beyond the debt limit.

National debt policy judgments will thereby become more impartial, more resistant to special interest influence, and more transparent as the debt ceiling debate occurs in 50 state capitals.

At the very least, the outcome of debt ceiling debates under the Compact’s Amendment would finally be uncertain. This would ignite a revolution of fiscal responsibility in Washington driven by necessity alone.

Because of this looming and rare opportunity in Congress, it has never been more important for the States to continue to show leadership. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming must not hesitate in passing the Compact for a Balanced Budget at this critical moment in time. Twenty-four more states must join the fight as well.

After all, with the gross federal debt exceeding 100% of gross domestic product, and $18.1 trillion, the seriousness of the nation’s debt problem cannot be understated. The federal debt is out of control and the current course is unsustainable. The federal debt threatens our future and burdens our children and grandchildren. Even worse, unlimited borrowing capacity has enabled unprincipled politicians to promise $80 to $205 trillion in unfunded entitlement programs.

Not only is each child in America today born with a huge federal mortgage that they will be taxed to pay, but tens of millions of Americans of all ages are living and planning their lives in reliance upon the “Big Lie” that the promised safety net will protect them. We have a moral obligation to address this looming crisis that will destroy our way of life. The out-of-control federal debt will bankrupt our country and cripple the economy if we don’t get it under control.

If the threat of bankruptcy were not sufficient cause for reform, allowing the federal government unlimited borrowing capacity is still an intolerable position. The fact is that the federal government’s limitless credit card cannot help but cause endless fiscal irresponsibility. Limitless borrowing capacity hides the costs of waste, fraud and abuse from current voters and shifts those costs into the future, saddling our kids and their kids with an unbearable burden—when the responsible elected officials are safely out of office. More than anything else, unlimited borrowing capacity is the source and enabler of an ineffective, overstretched, and overreaching federal government.

But the justification for limiting the federal government’s borrowing capacity is driven by more than basic principles of good governance, economics, or morality. Thomas Jefferson was right when, on Nov. 26, 1798, he wrote to his friend John Taylor: “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its constitution. I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”

Simply put, imposing a strong limit on the federal government’s borrowing capacity is the single most impactful constitutional reform we could achieve if we want to save and restore the Republic.

For all of these reasons, the political game in Washington must change when the debt ceiling debate resumes. We must impose a limit on the federal government’s credit card before it is too late. The Compact for a Balanced Budget would do just that.

Fortunately, Congress is poised to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. But not without bold, continued and determined leadership from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

 

[Originally published at Western Free Press]

Categories: On the Blog

FCC Internet Utility Regulation Is A Really Stupid Idea

Somewhat Reasonable - February 11, 2015, 8:25 AM

“Fixing” what’s not broken. Radically changing what everyone likes. Abandoning what works exceptionally well for what’s failed miserably in the past, and forcing outdated regulations on what is the most modern part of the economy.

What a stupid idea.

In November, President Obama called for the “strictest possible” utility regulation of the Internet. On Feb. 26, the FCC plans to implement that presidential directive.

The FCC plans to subject the Internet to Title II telephone utility regulations, which would be a repudiation of decades of successful bipartisan policy consensus that Internet packet data transmissions not be subjected to 1934 telephone monopoly network regulations.

Everyone knows the Internet is not broken and has yet to break down.

The public did not know about the Internet until the Clinton administration wisely privatized and de-regulated the Internet’s operation in 1994. Since then, the Internet has become the shining example of bipartisan deregulation.

Certainly the Internet doesn’t need to be controlled and managed by a government that can’t even launch a functional ObamaCare website, or an FCC whose website can’t even handle the simple task of accurately recording public comments.

Most everyone appreciates that the private sector has proven to be a much more capable operational steward of the Internet than the federal government ever was or could be. Putting the Internet’s operational decision making under the FCC’s control for the first time is a stupid idea.

Consumers like the Internet as it is now — a free market of goods, services and ideas. They don’t want a radical change backwards in policy towards the failed policies of a pre-1994, government-controlled Internet from which no one in the public benefited.

Who wants to slow the Internet’s operational decision making to the speed of government? What a stupid idea.

Why abandon the bipartisan free market Internet policies which have been a phenomenal success over the last twenty years for a partisan return to the FCC’s legacy of Title II disasters?

For several decades the “strictest possible” FCC Title II regulations repeatedly held back American progress and innovation.

For example, telephone technology advanced very little from 1934 to 1984 under the FCC’s heavy hand. While cell phone service was invented in 1947, the glacial and controlling FCC did not approve it for consumer use until 1984. While computer modems were invented in the 1950s, the backward-looking FCC did not get around to green-lighting them for consumer use until the late 1990s.

Abandoning the bipartisan free market policies that rocketed the near ubiquitous use of smartphones by Americans in eight short years, to apply the “strictest possible” obsolete regulations to the most modern part of the American economy, is a stupid idea.

The Internet isn’t even a utility service. Water and electricity are natural monopolies regulated like a public utility because the service and economics haven’t changed for a hundred years.

In just twenty years, Internet service has advanced from stationary dial-up service to constantly improving cable, mobile, WiFi, fixed-wireless and satellite competitive Internet service provider services, and a trillion dollar flood of private investment has catapulted America’s Internet speeds roughly 200 times faster in the last 15 years.

Regulating the dynamic, competitive and innovative Internet marketplace under utility regulation that assumes no technological change or the possibility of competitive choice is a stupid idea.

How could such an obviously stupid idea get this far?

The obvious answer is partisan politics and a politically malleable FCC desperate for relevance in the 21st century.

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.

Categories: On the Blog

Open Letter to Founding EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus

Somewhat Reasonable - February 10, 2015, 12:43 PM

In October 2014, The Heartland Institute sent to 233 Congressional offices an open letter to William Ruckelshaus, thei first EPA Administrator, written by former U.S. Navy Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, a former chief of naval operations and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, rebutting testimony on climate change delivered by Ruckelshaus and other former EPA employees sometime earlier that year.

Read the letter below:

THOMAS B. HAYWARD
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
June 24, 2014

The Honorable Wm. Ruckelshaus
Madrona Venture Group
999 3rd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104

Dear Bill,

By now you have no doubt been inundated with congratulatory adulation for your testimony, along with some of your predecessors at EPA, before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works regarding Climate Change. I wish it were possible for me to join in the chorus; but, being counted among the “deniers” that the President and many others enjoy bashing I cannot let you get away without some pushback.

It was somewhat encouraging to read your words that you “believe there is legitimate scientific debate over the pace and effects of climate change …”  But, then you went on to state that there is “no legitimate debate of the fact of the earth’s warming or over man’s contribution.” Aye, there’s the rub.

No one, of course, is contesting the earth’s warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. Of course it has, and probably will continue until the next ice age. It is discouraging, however, when global warming alarmists lean on the proclamation that temperatures are increasing at accelerated rates based on media reports that we have experienced several recent years of the highest temperatures on record.  Not only are they factually wrong, but allegedly, this is supposed to be proof that it is “man’s contribution” through irresponsible use of fossil fuels causing this potentially calamitous trend.

FACT is, temperatures were 1-2 degrees higher than present for almost all of the past 10,000 years. (See red part of the graph below)

FACT is, since 1480 AD, there have been more than 20 periods warmer than present, long before that nemesis CO2 began to rise. (see red areas in graph below)

FACT is, there have been three periods of global warming and three periods of global cooling since 1850.  The first two occurred BEFORE rise in atmospheric CO2.  See graph below.

FACT is, there has been no global warming over the past 17 years and 9 months, an observation that the IPCC has been unable (or unwilling) to address.  See graph below.

FACT is, global COOLING, not warming, has been occurring for the past decade. (See downward sloping satellite data in the graph below)

FACT is, CO2 has always lagged temperature rise.  See graphs below.

Bill, in your testimony you make a point of relying on the recent reports of the IPCC, the National Climate Assessment and the CNA to emphasize the urgency of confronting these forecast calamities. I would like to share my thoughts, and those of thousands of authentic scientists (of which I am not one), about these reports. (BTW, while there may be hundreds, or even a few thousand scientists who ascribe to the AGW theology, you should be aware that in 2007 a petition was signed by 31,487 scientists, among whom were 9,029 PhDs, disputing the AGW theory and the work being done by the IPCC.  You are outnumbered 10 to 1).

IPCC.  Everyone knows that this is a political organization created to prove that human activity (read fossil fuel/CO2) is the cause of global warming (read Climate Change/Climate Disruption).   The NCA and CNA reports are totally dependent on the IPCC for their “analyses.” And, the IPCC is totally dependent on “models” to support its proclamations. In fact, your own testimony favorably refers to the “models” of the world’s leading scientists as justification for your call to urgency. 

FACT: IPCC models’ results are not even close to real data.  See below.  With each passing year, their results diverge even further from real data. What are we to conclude?

As for the NCA and CNA reports, they made no effort to listen to both sides of this significant national issue.  The authors were already biased in the direction of condemning fossil fuels and/or failed to seek scientific opinion from those who might challenge the anti-CO2 thesis.  I challenge you or any of your scientific associates to provide even ONE piece of empirical evidence that links human activity (i.e. CO2) as the primary cause of global warming.

FACT: Sea levels are not rising abnormally. Sea level rise has been relatively constant since 1850, long before increase in CO2. The rate of sea level rise has actually DECLINED over the past 5-7 years. To get the much exaggerated rates of sea level rise predicted by IPCC would require absurdly large change in the amount of sea water and there is no source for it—Antarctic is getting colder and the ice sheet is NOT melting. See graph.

FACT: The Antarctic ice shelf is at an all-time high.  See graph below.

FACT: Arctic sea ice, that evinced unusually large melting in 2012, has returned to its normal state and rates of accumulation and melting.

FACT: Extreme weather events are not more common now, no matter what we perceive to be happening.  See graphs.

Bill, I am obviously not the one to debate scientific data with other scientists.  But, we do have such an individual right here in our neighborhood, Dr. Don Easterbrook, Geology Professor Emeritus at Western Washington University.  As you are aware from the booklet I sent you a few weeks ago, my interest is national security energy policy, which today is being inadequately developed and exploited in large measure because of the hyperbolic dimension of the anti-fossil fuel cacophony in opposition to all things carbon.  I would be delighted to introduce Don Easterbrook to you at any time that you would deem it useful from your perspective to hear facts from “the other side.”  Just let me know.

To Summarize:
The globe is not warming alarmingly.  In fact, it has been cooling for at least a decade.
Sea levels are not rising abnormally.
Fossil fuels are not a significant Climate Change factor.
There is no empirical evidence that supports the AGW hypothesis.
Our national energy policy is in disarray.
Let’s do what the President said we should do  – “All of the Above.”

Sincerely,

Categories: On the Blog

Largest 1,000 Cities on Earth: World Urban Areas: 2015 Edition

Somewhat Reasonable - February 10, 2015, 12:30 PM

According to the just released 11th edition of Demographia World Urban Areas (Built-Up Urban Areas or World Agglomerations), there are now 34 urban areas in the world with more than 10 million residents, the minimum qualification for megacity status. Tokyo-Yokohama continues its 60 year leads the world’s largest urban area. Before Tokyo-Yokohama, New York had been the world’s largest urban area for 30 years. London‘s run, preceding that of New York, was much longer, at more than 100 years. Beijing, which was the first of today’s megacities to reach 1,000,000 population, held the title for 75 years before London, according to census and urban historian Tertius Chandler.

Demographia World Urban Areas is the only regularly published compendium of urban population, land area and density data of urban areas with 500,000 or more population (defined in the Note below). The 2015 edition provides coordinated population, urban land area and density data for all 1,009 identified urban areas with at least 500,000 population. These urban areas account for approximately 52 percent of the world urban population.

Largest Cities in 2015

Tokyo-Yokohama grew to 37.8 million residents, the largest urban area population ever recorded (Figure 1). But second ranking Jakarta is moving up quickly, becoming the second urban area in history to exceed 30 million residents (30.6 million). Regrettably, Jakarta (Figure 2) is often left off world city top ten lists, because the continuous urbanization extending into the regencies (Figure 2) of Tangerang, Bogor, Bekasi and Karawang usually excluded (see The Evolving Urban Form: Jakarta). Regencies are national second level jurisdictions, within the provinces that make up Indonesia.

Fast growing Delhi retained third position, rising to just under 25 million. Later this year, Delhi will be only the third urban area in history to exceed a population of 25 million. Surprisingly, Delhi is nearly 50 percent larger than Mumbai, which is commonly considered to be India’s largest urban area. The Census of India does not allow its urban areas to cross state boundaries, which has continued to result in an under-reporting of Delhi’s population. Demographia, and the United Nations, have been reporting a higher population level as a result of Delhi’s interstate urban extensions. Many urban areas extend across state, provincial or prefectural boundaries, such as New York, Ottawa, Tokyo-Yokohama, Mexico CityBuenos Aires, Manila, Seoul-Incheon, Cairo, Shanghai among  others.

The developing world continued its increasing domination of world’s largest cities. This year, Manila passed Seoul-Incheon to become the world’s fourth largest urban area. Like Jakarta, Manila is often left off top ten lists of the world’s cities, because the continuous urbanization extending into the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal and are excluded (see The Evolving Urban Form: Manila).

Seoul-Incheon is at risk to falling another position by 2016. At 24.9 million, Seoul-Incheon’s leads sixth ranked Shanghai by less than 70,000. The last four positions in the top ten are occupied by Karachi, Beijing, New York and Guangzhou-Foshan. Karachi’s position, however, is hard to quantify, because it has been nearly two decades since the last census and the current estimates could be unreliable. New York, along with Tokyo-Yokohama and Seoul-Incheon is only one of three high-income world cities in the top 10.

Beijing and Guangzhou-Foshan are new entries to the top ten, having displaced Mexico City and Sao Paulo. These two Latin American cities have long been among the fastest growing in the world and were headed toward much higher rankings. However, their growth has slowed materially, and they are now ranked in the second 10. Nearby Campinas is now growing faster than Sao Paulo and Toluca is exceeding the percentage growth of Mexico City. There was a time that demographers expected Mexico City to become the largest city in the world. In 2000 and 2005, the United Nations ranked Mexico City as second only to Tokyo-Yokohama.

As indicated in a recent article (World Megacities: Densities Fall as they Become Larger), the number of megacities rose from 29 to 34 (megacities are urban areas with more than 10 million residents). These include Tianjin and Chengdu in China, Lahore (Pakistan), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Lima (Peru). China now leads the world with six (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou-Foshan, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Chengdu). The ten largest urban areas are shown in Figure 3 and detailed population data is in Table 1 of World Urban Areas.

Urban Footprints and Urban Density

The title of the world’s largest urban footprint — what some may call “sprawl” —- is held by the New York urban area. Often seen as the epitome of successful dense development (a characterization that applies only in its geographically much smaller core area), the New York urban area itself constitutes the least dense megacity in the world. New York covers nearly 4,500 square miles (11,600 square kilometers) and has a population density of 4,500 per square mile (1,800 per square kilometer). It is a surprise to many that even Los Angeles is more dense, the result of its much denser suburbs.

Tokyo-Yokohama covers the second largest land area, at 3,300 square miles (8,500 square kilometers). There are now 29 urban areas covering 1,000 square miles or more (2,590 square kilometers). Not surprisingly, approximately one-half (15) of these are in the United States. Another five are elsewhere in the high income world, such as Paris. There are also eight developing world cities of 1,000 or more square miles, such as Jakarta, Bangkok and Sao Paulo. Urban land area data for all 1,009 cities is in Table 3 of World Urban Areas.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, remained the most densely populated city, at 113,000 per square mile (4,500 per square kilometer). Detailed population density for the 1,009 cities is in Table 4 of World Urban Areas

Where Urban Population is Growing

Asia’s has more than half (57 percent) of the population in cities of 500,000 and more (Figure 4). This is more than four times the population of such cities in North America, five times that of Africa and Europe and approximately six times that of South America. With stagnant population growth in the high income world and declines in some nations, there is every reason to believe that urbanization in North America and Europe will continue to decline relative to that of Asia, Africa and South America.

——-

Note: There are two generic definitions of cities: urban areas and metropolitan areas. Urban areas define the physical expanse of cities, which is the area of continuous urban development. The second definition for cities is economic. The economic city is the metropolitan area, which includes the urban area and economically connected territory outside the urban area. The economic relationship is usually determined by work trip data, the extent of commuting from outside to inside the urban area. Because metropolitan areas are always geographically larger than urban areas, they also always have more residents. The difference in geographical sizes can be substantial. The Paris urban area covers only 20 percent of the Paris metropolitan area, a figure close to that of US major metropolitan areas, where urban areas cover only 19 percent of the land in metropolitan areas. The paradox is that metropolitan areas virtually always have more rural land than urban land.

Ideally, urban areas are not defined by local or regional government jurisdictional boundaries, since rural areas are often included in such jurisdictions, especially suburban jurisdictions. Urban development is not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries, nor are urban areas. This causes substantial confusion, because of a general lack of familiarity with urban area concepts, even among experts.

Urban areas are called also called “population centres” (Canada), “built-up urban areas” (United Kingdom, “urbanized areas’ (United States), “unités urbaines” (France) and “urban centres” (Australia). The “urban areas” of New Zealand include rural areas, as do many of the areas designated “urban” in the People’s Republic of China, and, as a result, do not meet the definition of urban areas above.

Whatever they are called, urban areas are simply the extent of development, which in most cases extends well beyond the boundaries of core municipalities. Demographia World Urban Areas uses the following definition for urban areas.

An urban area is a continuously built up land mass of urban development that is within a labor market (metropolitan area or metropolitan region). As a part of a labor market, an urban area cannot cross customs controlled boundaries unless the virtually free movement of labor is permitted. An urban area contains no rural land (all land in the world that is not urban is considered rural).

Photograph: Lujiazui business district (Pudong), Shanghai, with the nearly complete Shanghai Tower, second tallest building in the world (by author).

 

[This first appeared at NewGeography]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – John Goodman: Replacing Obamacare

Somewhat Reasonable - February 10, 2015, 9:15 AM

Senior Fellow at the Independent institute, John Goodman, talks with Managing editor of Healthcare News, Sean Parnell about the newest stories in healthcare.

Goodman shares his thoughts on the recent Republican proposal to replace Obamacare with tax credits and (some) deregulation of the health insurance market. He also explains what a more market-oriented reform would look like, as well as what Republicans should be telling people about health reform.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Divesting People of Better Living Standards

Somewhat Reasonable - February 09, 2015, 4:33 PM

Co-Authored by Roger Bezdek

“Social responsibility” activists want universities and pension funds to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios. They plan to spotlight their demands on “Global Divestment Day,” February 13-14. Their agenda is misguided, immoral, lethal … even racist.

A mere 200 years ago, the vast majority of humans were poor, sick and malnourished. Life expectancy in 1810 was less than 40 years, and even royal families lived under sanitation, disease and housing standards inferior to what poor American families enjoy today. Then a veritable revolution occurred.

The world began to enjoy a bonanza in wealth, technology, living standards and life spans. In just two centuries, average world incomes rose eleven-fold, disease rates plummeted, and life expectancy more than doubled. Unfortunately, not everyone benefitted equally, and even today billions of people still live under conditions little better than what prevailed in 1810. Bringing them from squalor, disease and early death to modernity may be our most important economic, technological and moral challenge.

Many factors played vital roles in this phenomenal advancement. However, as Julian Simon, Indur Goklany, Alex Epstein and the authors of this article have documented, driving all this progress were fossil fuels that provided the energy for improvements in industry, transportation, housing, healthcare and environmental quality, and for huge declines in climate-related deaths due to storms, droughts, heat and cold. Modern civilization is undeniably high energy – and 85% of the world’s energy today is still coal, oil and natural gas. These fuels support $70 trillion per year in global gross domestic product, to power virtually everything we make, grow, ship, drive, eat and do. The rest of the world deserves nothing less.

Demands that institutions eliminate hydrocarbon stocks, and society stop using fossil fuels, would reverse this progress, jeopardize people’s health and living standards, and prevent billions of still impoverished people worldwide from enjoying the living standards that many of us take for granted.

Trains and automobiles would not run. Planes would not fly. Refrigeration, indoor plumbing, safe food and water, central heating and air conditioning, plastics and pharmaceuticals would disappear or become luxuries for wealthy elites. We would swelter in summer and freeze in winter. We’d have electricity only when it’s available, not when we need it – to operate assembly lines, conduct classes and research, perform life-saving surgeries, and use computers, smart phones and social media.

Divesting fossil fuels portfolios is also financially imprudent. Fossil-fuel stocks are among the best for solid, risk-adjusted returns. One analysis found that a 2.1% share in fossil fuel companies by colleges and universities generated 5.7% of all endowment gains in 2010 to 2011, to fund scholarship, building and other programs. Teacher, police and other public pension funds have experienced similar results.

That may be why such institutions often divest slowly, if at all, over 5-10 years, to maximize their profits. One is reminded of St. Augustine of Hippo’s prayer: “Please let me be chaste and celibate – but not yet.” The “ethical” institutions selling fossil fuel stocks also need to find buyers who are willing to stand up to divestment pressure group insults and harassment. They also need to deal with hard realities.

No “scalable” alternative fuels currently exist to replace fossil fuels. To avoid the economic, social, environmental and human health catastrophes that would follow the elimination of hydrocarbons, we would need affordable, reliable options on a large enough scale to replace the fuels we rely on today. The divestment movement ignores the enormity of current and future global energy needs (met and unmet), and the fact that existing “renewable” technologies cannot possibly meet those requirements.

Fossil fuels produce far more energy per acre than biofuels, notes analyst Howard Hayden. Using biomass – instead of coal or natural gas – to generate electricity for one U.S. city of 700,000 people would require cutting down trees across an area the size of Rhode Island every year. Making corn-based ethanol to replace the gasoline in U.S. vehicles would require planting every single acre of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin in corn for fuel. Wind and solar currently provide just 3% of global energy consumption, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports; by 2040, as the world’s population continues to grow, hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy combined will still represent only 15% of the total, the EIA predicts.

Not using fossil fuels is tantamount to not using energy. It is economic suicide and eco-manslaughter.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels enabled 1.3 billion people to escape debilitating energy poverty – over 830 million thanks to coal alone – and China connected 99% of its population to the grid and increased its steel production eight times over, again mostly with coal. However, 1.3 billion people are still desperate for electricity and modern living standards. In India alone, over 300 million people (the population of the entire United States) remain deprived of electricity.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, some 615 million (100 million more than in the USA, Canada and Mexico combined) still lack this life-saving technology, and 730 million (the population of Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Millions die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having the safe food and water that electricity brings.

Ending this lethal energy deprivation will require abundant, reliable, affordable energy on unprecedented scales, and more than 80% of it will have to come from fossil fuels. Coal now provides 40% of the world’s electricity, and much more than that in some countries. That is unlikely to change anytime soon.

We cannot even build wind and solar facilities without coal and petroleum: to mine, smelt, manufacture and transport materials for turbines, panels and transmission lines – and to build and operate backup power units that also require vast amounts of land, cement, steel, copper, rare earth metals and other materials.

Coal-fired power plants in China, India and other developing countries do emit large quantities of sulfates, nitrous oxides, mercury and soot that can cause respiratory problems and death. However, modern pollution control systems could – and eventually will – eliminate most of that.

Divestment activists try to counter these facts by claiming that climate science is settled and the world faces a manmade global warming cataclysm. On that basis they demand that colleges and universities forego any debate and rush to judgment on hydrocarbon divestment. However, as we have pointed out here and elsewhere, the alleged “97% consensus” is a fiction, no manmade climate crisis is looming, and there is abundant evidence of massive “pHraud” in all too much climate chaos “research.”

We therefore ask: What right do divestment activists and climate change alarmists have to deny Earth’s most destitute people access to electricity and motor fuels, jobs and better lives? To tell people what level of economic development, health and living standards they will be “permitted” to enjoy? To subject people to policies that “safeguard” families from hypothetical, exaggerated, manufactured and illusory climate change risks 50 to 100 years from now – by imposing energy, economic and healthcare deprivation that will perpetuate disease and could kill them tomorrow?

That is not ethical. It is intolerant and totalitarian. It is arrogant, immoral, lethal and racist.

To these activists, we say: “You first. Divest yourselves first. Get fossil fuels out of your lives. All of them. Go live in Sub-Saharan Africa just like the natives for a few months, drinking their parasite-infested water, breathing their polluted air, enduring their disease-ridden flies and mosquitoes – without benefit of modern drugs or malaria preventatives… and walking 20 miles to a clinic when you collapse with fever.

To colleges, universities and pension funds, we suggest this: Ensure open, robust debate on all these issues, before you vote on divestment. Allow no noisy disruption, walk-outs or false claims of consensus. Compel divestment advocates to defend their positions, factually and respectfully. Protect the rights and aspirations of people everywhere to reliable, affordable electricity, better living standards and improved health. And instead of “Global Divestment Day,” host and honor “Hydrocarbon Appreciation Day.”

Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s Internet Power Grab Visual Aide Hates His Net Neutrality

Somewhat Reasonable - February 09, 2015, 2:52 PM

President Barack Obama has a repetitive tic when it comes to his myriad power grabs.

The President knows if he is straightforward about his plans to government-ize every sector of the economy – said plans will be even less popular than they already are.  (Hello, November election.)

So he likes to cite successful private sector endeavors as alleged, though-actually-antithetical visual aides for his government takeover model.  He heaps praise upon them – and then announces he is going to bury them with government.

This bait-and-switch approach is working less and less.  And sometimes, for some, it never works at all.  Remember this?

Obama Loves Mayo, But Mayo Does Not Love Him

Throughout his push for (ObamaCare), President Obama has (repeatedly) held up the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as an example of great medicine at lower prices – something that could and should be emulated all over the country with guidance from his health care overhaul….

The Mayo Clinic does not approve. And, as he’s pointed out, they should know.

“Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill – including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects – the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.”

And, of course, Mayo was exactly right.

And let us not forget the many private companies who supported ObamaCare – but then experienced grievous endorsers’ remorse.  For instance:

Insurers Regret Backing ObamaCare

Now the President wants to do to the Internet what he’s done to health care.

Dramatically increase regulations on private companies – which will demolish the private sector.  And steamroll state laws and dramatically increase federal government funding of local government Internet providers – to replace the private sector he demolished.

And the President has picked his government Internet visual aide.

The only question is – how does 

anyone not see coming the government’s 

next inevitable, disastrous failure?

Obama Touts Municipal Web in Cedar Falls, Where Everyone’s Wired

Obama used the the well-wired city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, which provides broadband access thats almost 100 times faster than the national average, as an example for the rest of the country.

(The President said) “If you live, or have a business in Cedar Falls, you can get a ‘gig’ … for less than many Americans pay for premium cable.”

Except:

Obama Lied: Broadband Speeds Aren’t Faster or Cheaper in Cedar Falls

(Cedar Falls’) 1 gig service…costs more than the most expensive programming packages offered by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DIRECTV, and DISH Network….

(And) there is no evidence that Internet speeds in Cedar Falls are “almost 100 times faster than the national average.”  This statement in the White House “fact sheet” assumes that the national average download speed is about 10 megabits per second (a Gbps is equivalent to 1,000 Mbps).

Its not clear what the President meant by this, but it fails to pass muster no matter how its construed.

Oh – and:

Obama’s Favorite Internet Provider Hates His Net-Neutrality Plan

In a filing made public Tuesday, Cedar Falls Utilities argued that Obama’s net-neutrality plan would burden the company with unnecessary federal regulations.

Betty Zeman, an executive for Cedar Falls Utilities, along with representatives from other small Internet providers, met with FCC staff last week….

(They said) the president’s net-neutrality plan would hurt the finances of small providers and hamper their ability to expand their services, the industry representatives said.…

The small Internet service providers warned that the move could also empower the FCC to enact other regulations, such as price controls.

When Big Brother has lost Little Brothers – the local-government-run “companies” to whom Big Brother is pledging to give tens of billions of dollars (more than he already has) – just how far from the path has he strayed?

And what do you want to bet that many, many, MANY of the private companies (and just about everyone else) that currently support President Obama’s Internet takeover – end up like the aforementioned health insurers?  Deeply regretting that they ever said anything positive about dramatically more government in their sector.

The only question is – how does anyone not see coming the government’s next inevitable, disastrous failure?

Categories: On the Blog

Fighting Climate Change Through Compact Cities Without Cars

Somewhat Reasonable - February 09, 2015, 2:42 PM

How would you respond if told you could no longer drive your children to school in the morning, or use your car to rush them to the nearest hospital or health clinic if they suddenly were hurt or became ill?

Not favorably I would imagine, because we all have become quite attached to the convenience and necessity of our cars, which is why you might want to know what former Vice President Al Gore, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and a small army of other influential people have been busy devising and deciding for our future.

During the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; regarding the economy and climate, both men claimed  in order to fight global warming, cars must be banned from cities and replaced with a mass transit system in which people will be wholly reliant on public transit.  They suggest devoting $90 trillion for the purpose of studying this issue, so that our cities can become more dense and thus climate friendly.

An observer may wonder why, if these people are really serious about the danger of global warming, did they travel to the Conference in Switzerland on 1,700 private petroleum-using jets,  instead of fly on commercial airlines.  How could they  talk about the dire need to use only public transportation, with their private jets lined up outside?   It has been suggested,  that they may not be as concerned about fossil fuels causing climate change, as they profess.  Could it just be a scare tactic to frighten and force us into their plan for governing population management?

Gore and Calderon are far from alone in their obsession with population management. There is a growing industry of people involved in planning our future, and they have some very wealthy and well connected people who support their efforts to define our lives, lifestyle, and future.  They envision and are planning a world in which the masses live together in large cities of high rise apartments rather than individual homes and where cars are forbidden and only public transportation available. Do not be surprised when we begin hearing of laws forbidding couples to have more than one child, much like current laws in China today.

Origin of Agenda 21

Where did all this begin? The sounding board for what Gore and Calderon are proposing for our cities dates back to The United Nations Agenda 21, signed by the United States in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which included world leaders, including George H. Bush.   Agenda 21 is a non-binding, unenforceable, voluntary policy paper, developed in 1992 and signed by 178 countries.  It’s available online in its entirety in a variety of languages.  Portions of Agenda 21 are meant to be implemented at the local level, coordinated by a United Nations subsidiary group called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).  You might be surprised to learn that your city is already using their guidelines of ICLEI to change your city into one that abides by Agenda 21.   While further planning is underway, part of their agenda is already happening, as the “elite”  prepare for the new world as envisioned by Gore, Calderon, and many other liberal world leaders.

Al Gore is just one of many who enthusiastically endorsed Agenda 21, in the name of “sustainable development”.  They use the excuse of promoting a green agenda for our environment, and rarely, if ever, discuss their real agenda, which is population control.  Their concern is that each birthresults not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants.  That was the issue; U.N. Agenda 21 the solution.

President Obama’s choices for deciding who will be a part of his administration testify to his advancement of Agenda 21 ideals.  An example is John P. Holdren, Barack Obama’s top science advisor, who co-authored a textbook entitled “Ecoscience” in 1977, in which he advocated mass sterilization, compulsory abortion, a one-world government and a global police force to enforce population control.  Obviously not something people would endorse in 1977, and which resulted in Holdren and his ideas being scorned.  Since then Holdren’s ideas and plans have been repackaged with different, more appealing labels, all in a matter of a few decades, and now sold under a variety of labels such as “sustainable development” and “emerging cities”.  Do not be fooled, only the title and rhetoric have changed, not the long term goals.

The speed in which these concepts have been promoted can be attributed to those who support the ideas, such as billionaire Bill Gates. Gates stands firmly behind this new World Order Global Government and has used his wealth to advance Agenda 21. When speaking with Germany’s “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper, Gates called for “a kind of global government”, arguing that the creation of such a system would be needed to combat major issues such as “climate change.”  Gates stressed his position by stating that a global government was “badly needed” in order to combat an array of issues ailing the planet.

Everything from gun control, Common Core and geoengineering (the practice of spraying toxic particles into the stratosphere to block the sun’s rays), have received millions in funding from Gates.   Gates made headlines in late January after introducing a plan to implement a cashless system in multiple third-world countries, a program that would undoubtedly give financial elites total control over monetary systems.  In reality, many believe that the call for global government by Gates and other wealthy elitists has little to do with lifting up impoverished nations. Instead their plans would guarantee global surveillance, global wealth inequality and a world run by the exact corrupt interests

Items already declared “unsustainable”

It may seem too Orwellian to suspect that at some future time the proposals set forth by Agenda 21 will come to fruition, with people crammed into city-wide “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” towers located in urban human habitation zones, with public transportation mandated, suburban growth banned, personal choice abolished, freedom to travel restricted, family planning mandated and environmental impact put before human happiness … but for those who have submersed themselves in U.N. Agenda 21, it is an absolute reality in the making.

In fact, in accordance with U.N. Agenda 21, these items have been declared “unsustainable” and need to be abolished, even if considered essential to the American people.

  • ALL private property rights (ownership of private property)
  • ALL forms of irrigation, pesticides & commercial fertilizer
  • Livestock production and most meat consumption
  • Privately owned vehicles and personal travel
  • Use of fossil fuels for power generation or mechanized travel
  • Single family homes
  • Most forms of mineral extraction and timber harvesting
  • Human population reduced to fewer than 1 billion people, from the present 7.1 billion

How could such drastic proposals ever be accepted by our officials?  Could officials be seduced into destroying their own rights, and the rights of fellow Americans?  Unfortunately, yes!   This has already been happening through federal grants and “easy” money being made available to implement plans for “smart growth”, all under the mantel of U.N. Agenda 21.  What is euphemistically called smart growth usurps property rights and constitutional rights, such as when local officials, at the behest of State Government, revise zoning laws to fit into a “smart code” zoning template.

2005 Supreme Court decision pathway for implementation

Most Americans will remain unaware of the practice and implications of smart growth and Agenda 21, until it begins to personally affect them. Unfortunately, and according to the elite’s plan, by that time it will be difficult if not impossible to stop. Consider that already farmers are losing subdivision rights; conservation land adjacent to population centers are rezoned into commercial employment centers; low-density land in towns are re-designed as growth area and rezoned to accommodate high-density apartments.  Arguably, the worst Supreme Court decision in our lifetime was a five-to-four ruling in 2005 that ruled government could exercise eminent domain power in furtherance of an economic development plan, if the land is for “public use”, which tragically opened the door to government taking our land if that land benefits the public in any way.

Granting government the right to take someone’s property, opened the door for Agenda 21, not just for a public highway, park, or bridge, but for any purpose that benefited the public.  Change is happening in Orange County, CA and in the city O’Neil calls home.  High rise, massive apartment buildings are replacing former low density sites.  Land is being rezoned and in some areas of California land is being deemed “blighted” (when it is NOT blighted) in order for the city to rededicate the land for high density purposes.

Most likely change is already taking place in your neighborhood.  For as more and more people are crammed into cities, under the guise of saving Mother Earth (Gaia), the environment will outstrip the rights of man.

[Originally posted on Illinois Review.]

Categories: On the Blog

It’s Not Just Brian Williams

Somewhat Reasonable - February 09, 2015, 12:56 PM

“When reporters forfeit their credibility by making up stories, sources, or quotes, we are right to mock them. When their violations are significant or repeated, they should be fired,” says Charles Lipson, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. “Demanding honest reporting has nothing to do with the reporter’s politics, personality, or personal life. It is about professional standards and our reasonable expectations.”

 Writing at Real Clear Politics.com, Prof. Lipson concluded by saying, “It’s essential for our news organizations, and it matters for our democracy.”

 Are we seeing a trend here? Dan Rather at CBS and now Brian Williams at NBC? Well, two news anchors are not a trend, but biased and bad reporting is. It’s not new, but it does seem to be gathering momentum and nowhere has it been more apparent than the millions of words written and spoken about “global warming” and now “climate change.”

 It would be easy and convenient to lay the blame on America’s Liar-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, but the “global warming” hoax began well before he came on the scene. It was the invention of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dating back to its creation in 1988 when it was established by the UN Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization.

 The IPCC came to world attention with the creation of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that committed the nations that signed it to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” based on the premise that global warming—a dramatic increase—was real and that it was man-made. The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997. The United States Senate rejected it and our neighbor, Canada, later withdrew from it. Both China and India were exempted, free to continue building numerous coal-fired plants to generate the energy they need for development.

 Today, though, the President is an unrelenting voice about the dangers of “climate change” which he and John Kerry, our Secretary of State, have rated the “greatest threat” to the world. Obama’s national security strategy document was released just a day before he equated the history of Christianity with the barbarism of today’s Islamic State.

 The national security document included terrorism to which it devoted one out of its 29 pages.  Essentially Obama sees all the problems of the world, real and imagined, as challenges that require “strategic patience and persistence.” This is his way of justifying doing nothing or as little as possible.

 Still, according to Obama, the climate is such a threat, his new budget would allocate $4 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency for a new “Clean Power State Incentive Fund” to bribe more states to close even more power plants around the nation. He wants to increase the EPA’s overall budget by 6% to $8.6 billion. The Republican Congress is not likely to allocate such funding.

 As for the environment, there have been so many lies put forth by the government and by a panoply of environmental organizations of every description, buoyed by legions of “scientists” and academics lining their pockets with billions in grants, that it is understandable that many Americans still think that “global warming” is real despite the fact that the Earth is now 19 years into a well-documented cooling cycle.

 Not only are all the children in our schools still being taught utter garbage about it, but none who have graduated in recent years ever lived a day during the non-existent “global warming.”

 On February 7, Christopher Booker, writing in The Telegraph, a British daily newspaper, wrote an article, “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever.”  You are not likely to find any comparable reporting in a U.S. daily newspaper.

 Citing research comparing the official temperature graphs from three weather stations in Paraguay against what had originally been reported by them, it turned out that their cooling trend had been reversed by the U.S. government’s Global Historical Climate Network and then amplified by “two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center.” 

 Why should we be surprised that the national media continues to report on “global warming” when our government has been engaged in the deliberate distortion of the actual data? It is, however, the same national media that has provided virtually no investigative journalism to reveal what has been going on for decades.

 What fate befalls Brian Williams is a mere blip on the screen of events. At this writing, I cannot see how NBC could ever keep him as the managing editor and news anchor.

 What matters regarding much of the product of the mainstream media is the continuing torrent of “news” about “global warming” and “climate change”; the former is a complete hoax and the latter a factor of life on planet Earth over which humans have no control, nor contribute to in any fashion.

 

Categories: On the Blog

OPEC Prediction of $200 a-barrel-oil Ignores Market Realities—or Maybe Not

Somewhat Reasonable - February 09, 2015, 12:45 PM

OPEC’s Secretary General Abdulla al-Badri made headlines when he announced that the oil price may have bottomed out—indeed, we had four straight days of increase—and predicted “you will see more than $200 when it comes to future oil prices.”

Al-Badri makes a strong argument. In the current reduced-oil-price environment, we see oil companies cut back on budgets, curtail exploration, and pull in rigs—as in many places it costs more to get the oil out of the ground than the present sales price. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “the number of rigs drilling in the U.S. has sunk to a three-year low.” Reuters states: “The rig count is down 29 percent from its October peak … a clear sign of the pressure that tumbling crude prices have put on oil producers.”

In today’s market for crude oil, a reduction in the number of drilling rigs in the U.S. does not mean overall production declines. It only means less future production, Tim Snyder, an energy economist with Lubbock, Texas, based Pro Petroleum Inc., who analyzes trends to help his company, and others, make educated decisions and manage risk, told me: “We anticipate a decrease in ‘new’ production in the U.S. as exploration and production companies reallocate capital expenditures and reduce drilling exposure.”

Economics 101 tells us that less supply results in higher prices. Addressing the recent up-tick in prices, Yahoo News says: “Investors bet supplies would tighten in the long term because major oil companies were scaling back investments and drilling to cope with falling prices.

Al-Badri extrapolates this scenario out to a future of $200 a-barrel oil.

What he apparently misses is that as soon as prices increase, activity in the oil industry will pick back up. Snyder says: “Once prices reach the $70-75 per barrel range, the more complex drilling solutions begin to become attractive and we will see new production increasing; putting downward pressure on prices all over again.

There are plenty of smaller companies that can be very nimble. The equipment they have pulled and the employees whose jobs they cut can get back in the field quickly—in fact, they must. Every day that equipment sits on a lot, they are losing money. The trained talent wants to be working.

Yes, it will take some time to get the bigger projects up and running again and to build the needed infrastructure, but as prices climb, more and more production will come back online—bringing balance to the markets.

When prices are high, human ingenuity comes in and finds a solution—which is how the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to unleash America’s new era of energy abundance and helped lower prices worldwide.

Maybe al-Badri’s comments were designed to talk the markets up—after all, several OPEC countries’ economies are grim due to the drop in oil prices. For example, oil-rich Venezuela is facing default and is rationing food. Business Insider reports: “The country is broke … in large part because oil prices are so low. And now … its economic crisis is leading to a health crisis”—a pack of 36 condoms costs about $750. Both Venezuela and Iran have called “for OPEC’s cooperation in stabilizing oil prices,” but Saudi Arabia—OPECs biggest producing member—is maintaining its current output.

Al-Badri is not stupid. He has held several high-ranking positions in his native Libya, starting in 1990 as Minister for Oil. He was appointed Secretary General for OPEC in 2007. His January 26 $200-a-barrel prediction focuses on the future production losses that will result from the industry pulling back—which, as outlined above, are not likely to result in $200 oil.

Snyder believes al-Badri may be signaling something bigger: “The only way for prices to reach the level mentioned is for there to be a decline in available supply through a disruption in production or a break in the supply chain.”

Libya, al-Bardi’s homeland, has the largest oil reserves in Africa. It, according to the WSJ, “helped trigger the world-wide rout in oil prices” when it “surprised the world with a sudden burst of new oil” last summer. However, as Reuters points out: “Libya is in the middle of a struggle between two governments and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for legitimacy and territory.” In the WSJ, Richard Mallinson, an analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects explains: “There was an implicit agreement between the different factions to avoid disrupting oil production. Now the parties have realized that controlling oil means power.” As a result of the fighting, “Libyan oil output has fallen to about 325,000 barrels a day in January from nearly 900,000 barrels a day in October.”

The situation in Libya is deteriorating and western oil companies are pulling out. Then, on Sunday, security guards at the last functioning export port, that used to export 120,000 barrels a day, went on strike because their salaries were not being paid—which closed the port and lowers Libya’s oil output to less than 300,000 barrels a day.

Libya does have one remaining port open, but it is used to supply the Zawiya refinery with crude rather than for export. Reuters states: “All other ports and most oilfields have shut down due to fighting nearby or pipeline blockages by rival factions.”

Snyder posits: “Maybe al-Badri is telling the world that, left unattended, the rapid increase in terrorist activity seen lately could be the only thing to lead to the $200 level in crude oil—which will have catastrophic results.”

With Jordan’s accelerated air strikes, and the United Arab Emirates rejoining the fight against ISIS, added to the already troubled situation in Libya, a major supply disruption becomes extremely plausible.

Maybe al-Badri is right—though not for the reasons he outlined. Maybe he knows more than his simplistic explanation revealed. If he is, if he does, the U.S. is going to need every drop of oil found within our borders, including the Arctic resources that President Obama just proposed be permanently put off limits.

With the current low oil prices, we can easily think that we have too much oil already—after all, last week’s sudden price drop came after the release of official data remain a factor and, if al-Badri is correct, America’s energy abundance can provide us with energy security and global stability—not to mention the economic benefit of supplying our allies with oil and refined-petroleum products. Suddenly, the Keystone pipeline’s critical role becomes perfectly clear.

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Will President Obama’s New Drilling Policy Give the Arctic Over to Russian Domination?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 08, 2015, 1:50 PM

The anger, outrage and frustration in Alaska are palpable after the president stripped the state of vast stores of its oil and gas wealth. His reckless offshore oil and gas restrictions reduced Alaska’s Arctic Ocean presence to one exploration site each in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and left us with the lowest number of prospects in the history of the Outer Continental Shelf leasing program.

Alaska’s U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and at-large Rep. Don Young, all Republicans, vowed at a press conference to fight Obama’s offshore decision, which came only days after his Interior Department announced the shocking designation of nearly all of Alaska’s 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as untouchable wilderness lands. These two moves would lock up the nation’s richest continental oil prospect and lock up America’s share of the Arctic Ocean’s estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves.

The famously outspoken Rep. Young said, “It’s becoming undeniably clear that this administration does not view Alaska as a sovereign state, but rather an eco-theme park for the most extreme environmentalist allies of the president and his party.”

Young didn’t know how stunningly accurate his claim would turn out to be. A day later, a story about some of Obama’s “most extreme environmentalist allies” broke under the headline, “Foreign Firm Funding U.S. Green Groups Tied to State-Owned Russian Oil Company.”

Former Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay wrote for the Free Beacon that Russian money for anti-oil and gas campaigns had been laundered through a Bermuda investment house, bank, and shell corporation and the California-based Sea Change Foundation.

“The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters and the Center for American Progress were among the recipients of Sea Change’s $100 million in grants in 2010 and 2011,” Markay wrote.

John Podesta, White House Counselor to Obama, founded the Center for American Progress, which acts as a two-way pipeline for administration and Democratic Party policy promotion.

One of Markay’s key sources was an untitled, exceptionally detailed report by the Washington-based research group, Environmental Policy Alliance, replete with names, amounts, source documents and infographics.

It reveals money flows from two notorious Russian money launderers—the convicted IPOC Group run by Russian telecommunications minister Leonid Reiman and Russian telecom firm VimpelCom, which is under criminal investigation. Both Mikhail Fridman, VimpelCom’s majority owner, and Reiman are close advisors to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition, three Russian energy investment firms kick in money to Wakefield Quinn, a Bermuda law firm which runs it through Klein, Ltd., an “exists-only-on-paper” firm with Kremlin ties that was mentioned in a 2014 Senate majority report on “Billionaire Club” donors to environmental groups.

Klein passes the money to Sea Change, which dispenses it in perfectly legal laundered grants to U.S. anti-oil-and-gas green groups.

That’s infuriating, but what’s it got to do with Obama’s war on Alaska’s Arctic offshore oil and gas resources?

Well, perhaps everything: While President Obama panders to the extreme environmental left, Putin prepares for an Arctic war.

The very day Rep. Young slapped Obama for appeasing his extremist green group base, the respected global intelligence company Stratfor released a report titled, “Russia’s Plans for Arctic Supremacy.”

As Obama retreats from the Arctic Ocean with contempt for its fossil energy might, Putin sees in it global power. Russia is laying claim to great swaths of Arctic oil and gas with deployed rigs, more nuclear-powered icebreakers and a huge new strategic military command: the Northern Fleet, which represents two-thirds of the entire Russian Navy.

In addition, Putin has activated Arctic warfare units in a 6,000-soldier military group with two motorized infantry brigades and air force facilities from the Soviet era on the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, “renovated to accommodate modern and next generation fighter aircraft in addition to advanced S400 air defense systems,” he report says. In other words, according to Stratfor, the Russians are out to dominate the retreating United States.

Putin is no fool when it comes to dealing with weak enemies – witness Ukraine. He is particularly harsh on those who give policy power to the sort of people he puts in jail. Putin is grabbing Arctic resources while Obama turns his back on them.

The U.S. has no leadership anywhere in the high north and Russia does. There are no U.S. military bases on the entire Alaskan Arctic coast; our fighter pilots have to fly long distances to intercept increasingly numerous and bold incursions.

In August and September of last year, Russian jets made several incursions to the Air Defense Identification Zones off the coast of Alaska (officials say such incidents happen around 10 times a year), and Russian strategic bombers in the Labrador Sea near Canada practiced cruise missile strikes on the United States. American and Canadian fighters intercepted and diverted the Russians.

Russia has increased its bomber patrols and submarine activity and is watching Obama’s every move with a newly opened Arctic military reconnaissance drone base 420 miles off mainland Alaska.

The United States lacks ships able to operate in or near Arctic ice – two medium icebreakers to Russia’s 25 nuclear-powered monsters that look like battleships. We could send our ships, but Arctic Alaska has scant support facilities and hopelessly inadequate communications.

Our nation is in a bind that few even realize. Who will take action and put our energy wealth to use for the strength of America?

Alaska is in the middle of that bind. Alaska is not nearly angry, outraged and frustrated enough with President Obama, Harvard Law graduate—and not yet fearful enough of President Putin, former lieutenant colonel, KGB.

[Originally published at the Daily Signal]

Categories: On the Blog

Could This be the Case That Ends Obamacare?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 06, 2015, 4:25 PM

State officials in Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday, Jan. 26 alleging Obamacare tax assessments against government agencies are unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the case was covered closely by major media outlets across the nation.

But while the Ohio case may be getting all the headlines, it could be a case brought forward by an unknown Pennsylvania tax collector that ends up taking down key provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature law when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considers the case in the spring.

Like countless other Americans, Jeffrey Cutler, currently the tax collector of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, lost his health insurance in October 2013 when his insurance company notified him that his plan did not qualify for renewal due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Cutler, who was covered by the same plan from 2007 to its cancellation in 2013, was pleased with his coverage and did not wish to obtain a different—and in his opinion an inferior—plan through the Obamacare exchange in Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 14, 2013, facing intense political pressure over thousands of cancelled policies, Obama announced a “transition policy” that promised to allow individuals like Cutler to keep, at least temporarily, health insurance plans that originally did not qualify for renewal under the ACA.

Cutler soon discovered, however, Obama’s promise was not a universal policy applying to all the states; only citizens in those states whose regulators chose to implement Obama’s transition policy would be able to keep their health insurance plans. In other words, the Obama administration gave individual states the power to decide for themselves whether or not existing federal law would be enforced in their own states.

Unfortunately for Cutler, Pennsylvania was not one of the states that mandated what became known as Obama’s “administrative fix.” Then-Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine did allow individuals to keep their insurance plans that would otherwise be cancelled by Obamacare mandates, but the decision was ultimately left to the insurance companies to decide whether or not insurance plans would be cancelled.

Cutler’s insurance company chose to cancel Cutler’s plan, and Cutler went without insurance in 2014, which means he now owes the federal government at least $95 for failing to have adequate health insurance coverage.

Critics of Obamacare, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), immediately questioned the constitutionality of the Obamacare administrative fix; they alleged the Obama administration violated the Constitution when it single-handedly, without the approval of Congress, altered the ACA’s clear provisions about when plans considered to be inadequate would be cancelled.

Cutler’s suit, filed on December 31, 2013, took a different approach. Cutler claimed the law violates the Constitution because it does not apply the law equally, which past Supreme Courts have determined is a guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

Cutler, who is now represented by constitutional lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, argues that because the so-called administrative fix allowed states to apply federal law unequally, the Obama administration violated the Constitution.

Further, Cutler asserts that because the religious exemptions provided in the law do not apply to all religions—Cutler is Jewish born—the ACA violates his First Amendment rights as well.

The government filed for a dismissal in the district court on the grounds that Cutler, who initially sued without legal representation, did not have standing and that he did not sufficiently allege a legal claim. The court granted the motion and Cutler’s case was dismissed.

In an interview, Cutler said now that his case is being handled by expert constitutional lawyers Yerushalmi and Muise, he is confident his appeal will be successful. A brief laying out Cutler’s case will be filed in February and the government’s response is due in March. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.

Cutler’s case raises important questions about how the government must apply its laws. Can the federal government arbitrarily choose which states, religious groups, or other classes of people must follow national law and which do not? The Obama administration certainly seems to think so.

“The United States is currently the greatest beacon of freedom in the world,” Cutler said. “If we fail to challenge unconstitutional executive actions and laws, we risk our own humanity. Every person in the United States that liked their old health plan better than their new plan but could not keep it is a harmed individual and deserves judicial relief.”

For Cutler’s sake and for the sake of the nation, let’s hope the Court of Appeals agrees.

[Originally published at Breitbart]

Categories: On the Blog

Lukewarm About Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - February 06, 2015, 12:39 PM

“In short, climate change is not worse than we thought,” wrote Bjorn Lomborg in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal. He is best known as the author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and his skepticism is welcome, but insufficient.

 First of all, climate change is a very long-term process and always has been. The climate takes decades and centuries to change, largely based on well-known warming and cooling cycles. During the course of these cycles, both related to comparable cycles on the Sun, all manner of climate-related events occur, from hurricanes to blizzards. Nothing new here.

 The problem with Lomborg’s commentary is that he confuses climate change with global warming, the hoax concocted in the late 1980s by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to have an international tax imposed on “greenhouse gas emissions”, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), that the IPCC guaranteed was going to heat up the Earth in a few decades unless greatly reduced. Lomborg even cites the IPCC which has grown notorious for its lies.

 The predictions about when the heat would become lethal ranged from ten to fifty years as the amount of CO2 increased. The problem for Lomborg and others is that CO2 has been increasing in the Earth’s atmosphere without any evidence of the predicted heating. That explains why Lomborg and other “Warmists” don’t refer to global warming anymore.  As for the increase, the latest, best science points to the fact that CO2 has no affect whatever on the climate.

 Lomborg wrote, “A well-meaning environmentalist might argue that, because climate change is a reality, why not ramp up the rhetoric and focus on the bad news to make sure the public understands its importance.” Even Lomborg acknowledged that is exactly what the environmentalists have been doing for the past twenty years.

 “The public has been bombarded with dramatic headlines and apocalyptic photos of climate change and its consequences. Yet despite endless successions of climate summits, carbon emissions continue to rise, especially in rapidly developing countries like India, China, and many African nations.”  That’s called development and that requires electricity and other means of powering manufacturing and transportation.

 One thing Lomborg got right is that “Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels.” These are two of the most costly and worthless forms of energy generation and Lomborg notes that even the International Energy Agency doesn’t expect them to provide any more than “a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040.”

 Lomborg continues to do his best to be on both sides of the issue of “climate change” when, in fact, it is not an issue because there is nothing humans anywhere on planet Earth can do to have any impact on it. What we can do, however, is encourage the development which he points to. “This is important because if we want to help the poor people who are most threatened by natural disasters, we have to recognize that it is less about cutting carbon emissions than it is about pulling them out of poverty.”

 It has nothing about cutting carbon emissions because that is not a threat. Indeed, without CO2 all life on Earth would cease to be. It is the gas on which all vegetation depends, just as mammals and other creatures depend on oxygen.

 “In short, climate change is not worse than we thought. Some indicators are worse, but some are better. That doesn’t mean global warming is not a reality or a problem. It definitely is,” says Lomborg.

 No, despite his science credentials and the two books he has written, Lomborg is just dead wrong. Global warming is neither a reality nor a problem because the Earth has been in A COOLING CYCLE for nineteen years at this point and one might think Lomborg would know this; particularly since his views are being published in an eminent U.S. newspaper that should also know this.

 H. Sterling Burnett, the Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News, took note of the current weather, saying “Despite the cold, temperatures in the U.S. at present are closer to the normal winter range than they were in 2014 during the depth of the polar vortex,” adding a tweak to the Warmists, saying “Seems like a good time to protest global warming.”

 The real issue for Americans is an Obama administration that is imposing regulations based on the utterly false assertion that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced because of global warming.

 In June 2014, James Delinpole, wrote: “Here is the Obama administration’s green strategy reduced to one damning equation: 19 million jobs lost plus $4.335 trillion spent = a reduction in global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees C (0.032 degrees F). These are the costs to the U.S. economy by 2100 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired generating plants by 30% below 2005 levels.”

 If you still wonder why the U.S. economy has just barely begun to pull itself out of the Great Recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, the answer is the Obama administration’s spectacular failures typified by massive wasteful spending, ObamaCare’s impact on the healthcare sector, and its continuing attack on the energy sector. 

 Only Congress and the courts stand between us and Obama as he pursues the destruction of the nation while claiming he is acting to “combat climate change.”

 

Categories: On the Blog
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