On the Blog

About that Persistent Polar Vortex

Somewhat Reasonable - February 28, 2014, 10:27 PM

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the polar vortex and severe weather that is supposed to be as a result of global warming — particularly because of what Jennifer A. Francis and Stephen J. Vavrus contend is the result of “arctic amplification” or the greater warming rate of the arctic vs. the mid latitudes that occurred between 1977-1998. (Read their paper in Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39 from March 17, 2012.)

Francis and Vavrus are claiming that this arctic amplification has lead to the presence of increased long waves (big loops in the jet stream) that become stationary — thus persistent at mid latitudes and are causing more severe weather in the USA and other mid latitude locations. The authors invoke the Rossby wave theory to conclude what they did in their peer reviewed paper by the Geophysical Research Letters.

The problem is that their claims actually contradict the theory of Rossby waves as derived in the literature by Rossby himself. In their paper, Francis and Vavrus claim that because there was arctic warming that occurred at a faster rate than the mid latitudes from 1977-1998, that this warming weakened the jet stream winds at high latitudes. Thus, according to Rossby wave theory, this has allowed these waves to amplify and become more persistent around the earth as full latitude waves — creating bigger storms and more severe weather at mid latitudes. The implication is that severe snowstorms, thunderstorms, and tornadoes are a result of this arctic amplification.

The problem is, again, that this contradicts the physics of Rossby waves — as every meteorologist is required to understand — because the waves actually do the opposite of what is claimed in their paper. If it is true that the jet stream winds have decreased as claimed by the “reanalysis” of the upper level winds, it is also true that as you move to higher latitude, Rosssby waves can develop with a lessened wind speed and achieve a standing or stationary status. But this is less than half of the physics involved. The problem is that this is not true to obtain full latitude waves as discussed in their paper. For that to happen, winds must increase — as the amplitude of these waves is dependent upon the speed of the jet stream winds which must increase at lower latitudes, consistent with a greater difference in temperature across the latitude lines. This is the opposite of what they claim in their paper.

It is not possible for full latitude waves to develop based upon a weakening westerly jet stream as they claim. If their claims were true, the correct Rossby wave physics tells us that such waves would shorten in both amplitude and wave length and migrate further north — thus not affecting mid latitude locations in the USA as claimed that produce severe weather.

The fact that we have had persistent long waves this winter causing severe snow and cold in the USA is actually an indication of the opposite of what the authors claim. It is a fact that the North American continent has cooled over the last 10 years, while the global oceans have retained a lot of their heat energy as the higher specific heats have allowed thermal inertia to be a factor in global ocean temperatures with the declining solar magnetic. In terms of the near future, this could easily spell trouble for the USA’s Midwestern states this spring — as the severe cold and deep snow in the north will cause a slower warming rate of these areas vs. the more rapid warming of the southern latitudes that is always associated with the climbing sun angle of late winter and spring.

It is the difference in temperature across the latitude lines that liberates potential energy and creates storms and because there is no global warming present yet the likelihood that these temperature gradients will develop at mid latitudes during the next 4 months and be greater than average, that the severe weather season at mid latitude and in particular in the Midwest USA has the potential to be bad this year with a lot of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Francis and Vavrus claim the severe weather is caused by arctic warming, but this contradicts all of the founding literature in atmospheric science as I pointed out to these authors including their claims about Rossby waves. Neither author has answered my concerns and questions.

Categories: On the Blog

Cop Candor, Part II: ‘Too Often, In Too Many Courtrooms . . .’

Somewhat Reasonable - February 28, 2014, 9:15 PM

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Darren Manning, a model high school student athlete, was a victim of police brutality in Philadelphia.

On Thursday, The Heartlander published my blog post headlined, “Cop Candor: ‘At Least We Didn’t Rape Her’.” I wrote about the Austin, Texas, police chief who recently made light of several of his cops being caught on video roughly treating a young woman jogger who allegedly jaywalked. He said:

Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.

I used his remarks as the jumping-off point to write about the many crimes police are committing and often getting away with, often because other cops – and many times prosecutors – cover up for them. I encountered this problem decades ago as a young reporter but am convinced things are worse now.

It seems since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it’s become open season on Americans. Because of my job as a managing editor and research fellow here at The Heartland Institute, every day I look at newspapers around the country and many blogs. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a story about a police or prosecutorial outrage.

Today in the Chicago Sun-Times there is an outstanding editorial that touches on this subject. It goes perfectly with the outstanding work the Sun-Times has done to try to bring some semblance of justice to the family and friends of David Koschman, a young man who was killed by Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of Chicago’s former powerhouse mayor, Richard M. Daley. Only now – nearly 10 years later – has anything happened to Vanecko. He’s serving 60 days in jail. If not for dogged reporting by Tim Novak and Chris Fusco in the Sun-Times, this sorry episode would still be buried.

Please do read the whole Sun-Times editorial. To whet your appetite, some excerpts follow. But before we get to the excerpts, let me mention the following:

Some people have contacted me to try to explain away the police abuses I cited in my first Cop Candor column. The gist of the argument seems to be if those people had merely stood still and put up no argument or struggle, they would not have been beaten up or shot (or at least not as much). I, for one, don’t think human beings should have to act like sheep to stay safe. I’m told we’re supposed to respect cops. Aren’t cops supposed to respect us?

And I wonder what these people would say to Darren Manning, a 16-year-old boy from Philadelphia. He’s a straight-A student who attends one of that city’s best schools. The school’s principal and teachers describe him as a “model student.”

Last month Manning and other members of his high school basketball team got off the subway dressed in their uniforms to go to basketball practice. Police stopped them because, on this bitterly cold day, they were wearing scarves and hats that partially covered their faces. Apparently this a threat to Philadelphia cops.

The cops stared down the kids, scaring them, and they started running but Manning stopped. Now Manning might never be able to have children because a police officer – a female police officer – crushed Manning’s testicles in her hands while he was handcuffed. Surgeons had to repair the damage and say he might be sterile as a result of the injuries the cops inflicted on him. By the way, this model straight-A student who has never been in trouble and who voluntarily stopped running to allow the cops to catch him is now charged with resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and reckless endangerment.

If anyone knows how Americans can fight back against these police outrages without getting ourselves beaten up or killed, please let me know.

 Now for the excerpts from the Feb. 27 Sun-Times editorial:

Sometimes it’s a video that surfaces in a criminal case, clearly contradicting how a police officer under oath described a scene.

Sometimes it’s a document that is uncovered late in the game, showing how a law officer’s story has changed 180 degrees.

Sometimes it’s a new DNA test that shows how an official version of events, accepted for years, couldn’t possibly be true.

 Too often, in too many courtrooms, people entrusted with assuring justice instead shade the facts to strengthen cases against people they believe to be guilty. Or maybe they’re just covering up for each other. Either way, innocent people caught up in such machinations never know what hit them. . . .

The cops in the Koschman case apparently cooked up a self-defense theory to protect Richard J. Vanecko, former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew. Police reports in the case said Koschman’s friends described him as aggressive, yelling and lunging in a 2004 encounter with Vanecko outside a Near North Side bar, an encounter that left Koschman dead 11 days later. But the friends told the Chicago Sun-Times, Webb and a grand jury that they never said that. How did that get into the police reports?

Moreover, after a second investigation in 2011, a police report stated that Koschman yelled, ‘F— you! I’ll kick your ass.’ Where did that come from? Not one witness claimed to have heard that. . . .”

The whole history of the former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge saga, in which police tortured suspects into confessing and then lied about the torture, shows how innocent people got swept up along with the guilty, with no recourse.

Another example was the 2007 case of Anthony Abbate, a police officer who beat a female bartender. Police conveniently forget to write in their report his name, that he was a police officer and that there was video of the attack. Does anyone believe that was an oversight? . . .”

The real painful story of the David Koschman scandal, sadly, may be that this stuff happens all the time.

Categories: On the Blog

Huffington Post Means Well, but Insults Naomi Klein, Gives Heartland Too Much Credit

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2014, 11:12 AM

In this Huffington Post piece, Bill Shireman of Future 500 means well — or at least he means to mean well — with his attempt to nurture a middle ground in the “climate wars.” He’s a left-leaning writer, so I give him credit for trying to spray pox upon both the “warmist” and “skeptic” houses instead of just the the “skeptics,” which is the usual HuffPost angle.

The Heartland Institute is chiefly featured in Shireman’s piece — which is a tribute to the hard work of an organization that has had enormous impact on the debate while enjoying just a tiny fraction of the funding of our prominent peers in on the “other side.” (One demerit for Shireman, however: Heartland never compared “climate advocates” to Nazis.)

That aside, Shireman’s theme is that “both sides” are to blame for the caustic state of the climate debate in this country. The left has wrongly cast the Koch Brothers as “demons,” he writes, while “anti-climate” forces on the right have vaguely done the same. OK. The world knows the former is true of the left, but what is his example of the same from the right? Apparently, The Heartland Institute is to blame for shaping “the climate-policy prescriptions of its chief rhetorical nemesis, Naomi Klein.”

Some background: In 2011, Klein attended Heartland’s sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6) in Washington. For a yet-to-be-released documentary on climate change, she interviewed many of the scientists Heartland invited. I happily arranged all those interviews, and sat in on most of them. Klein is one of the most prominent and articulate leftists in America, and she came prepared with very challenging questions — which her subjects addressed with honesty and expertise.

But according to Shireman, Klein wasn’t an informed leftist journalist and intellectual. She was merely an empty vessel into which Heartland poured its viewpoint of the leftst climate position:

For example, the Heartland Institute, which prides itself on being the premier climate-change-denying [sic] NGO, directly shaped the climate-policy prescriptions of its chief rhetorical nemesis, Naomi Klein. They crafted her positions to directly match their caricatures of the anti-freedom environmental extremist.

I hope Klein is as insulted by that telling as we are surprised. Shireman would have his readers believe that what Klein subsequently wrote in The Nation was not her own observations, but “extremist” views planted in her brain by Heartland and the scientists who attended our conference.

Shireman quotes a bit from Klein long piece on the conference in The Nation:

The deniers [sic] did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system.

So, let’s see if I have this straight. Naomi Klein — a proud, educated, and informed leftist who writes for a staunch socialist publication — attends ICCC6 in 2011. Klein hears presenters state plainly the aims and methods of the left when it comes to the political ends of the climate change agenda. Klein does not dismiss the statements she hears at Heartland’s conference as some wild conspiracy or a “covert socialist plot,” but affirms that it is what leftists must publicly admit needs to be done.

Yes. She did that. From later in her piece at The Nation:

Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.

This is clearly what Klein believes, and has always believed. But, according to Shireman, Klein’s beliefs — “a top-10 list of libertarians’ worst nightmares” — have been “framed” and planted in her mind by Heartland.

We wish moving the public debate was so easy.

Categories: On the Blog

Why It’s So Hard to Sell Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2014, 1:06 AM

In the Obama administration’s effort to talk about anything other than Obamacare and Obama’s near-jobless recovery, the president flew across the country to find the one part of the United States which is having a warm, dry spell. The other 90+ percent of the nation’s landmass has been suffering through a terribly cold and expensive winter.

A meteorologist at the National Weather Service created a “winter extremity index” — which some are calling a “winter misery index” — that, as the Associated Press reports, “confirms what many Americans in the Midwest and East know in their all-too-chilled bones: This has been one of the harshest winters of our lifetimes.”

Where’s Algore when you need him? One thing is for sure: He isn’t in England.

In November, the British Met Office, the analog to our National Weather Service, predicted that the December – February period would be “drier than usual.” Instead, as the Met Office themselves pointed out on Twitter last week, “Early statistics show it has been the wettest winter in the UK in records going back to 1910.”

Is it any wonder that the American public and the British public are getting increasingly skeptical about man-made climate change as well as souring on the left’s “renewable energy” religion?

One wonders whether members of that particular cult, especially those in the public eye, will ever recognize that they damage what little credibility they have left with performances like this.

[First published at the American Spectator.]

Categories: On the Blog

Cop Candor: ‘At Least We Didn’t Rape Her’

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2014, 12:51 AM

Rarely do I sing the praises of cops but today I do. Let us all applaud Austin, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo for telling Americans what police work in this nation has become.

After several of his department’s finest were caught on video roughing up a young woman jogger who was wearing earbuds and therefore could not hear an order to stop running, Acevedo said at least his cops didn’t rape her as cops in other towns might have done.

Here are his exact words:

Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.

Let that sink in a moment . . .

A police chief in a major city says people should be happy his cops did not rape a young woman whom they stopped for jaywalking. Doesn’t that speak volumes about the nation’s police?

Cops are also committing many other crimes on duty, including murder, and often getting away with it. Just last month, two Fullerton, Calif., cops were acquitted of beating to death a homeless man in a crowded commuter parking lot. Dozens of people witnessed the savage attack and recorded it. But in rock-ribbed Republican and law-and-order Orange County, Calif., juries apparently believe people who are mentally ill and wandering through a commuter parking lot should be summarily beaten to death if they don’t obey a police order.

Remember when nearly every cop car had the words “To Protect and to Serve” emblazoned on it? We don’t see that so much anymore. I think it’s because cops do little to serve but a lot to harass, bully and intimidate. If they protect anyone, it’s themselves.

Just ask Jonathan Ferrell. Oh, wait, we can’t because he’s dead. Last fall the former Florida A&M football player, just 24 years old, was shot 10 times and killed by an apparently panic-stricken cop near Charlotte, N.C. Ferrell had been in a late-night car crash and walked to a nearby house to ask for help. The woman who answered the door feared a break-in and called police.

A few minutes later police arrived at the house. Instead of helping Ferrell, one of them fired 12 shots, striking him 10 times. Toxicology reports showed Ferrell had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and he had no weapons. Here’s the latest development on this case.

We could ask Jonathan Meister about the protection and service police provided him, but we’d need to know sign language. Meister is profoundly deaf. About two weeks ago he filed a lawsuit against the City of Hawthorne, Calif., and the city’s police department. Here’s why:

A former roommate of his told him he could go into his yard and remove some snowboarding gear. Neighbors saw Meister, thought he might be stealing the things, and called police. Meister started using sign language to explain to the police that he is deaf. The cops thought the gestures were threats. They grabbed his hands.

We’ll let Jean Trinh of laist.com pick up the story from here:

Things escalated from that point. The lawsuit says:

According to the officers’ reports, Officer Salmon tried to put a potentially lethal carotid choke hold around Mr. Meister’s neck, and after being unable to do so, kneed him twice in the abdomen.

Then things got worse:

At some point, HPD officers Erica Bristow and Mark Hultgren joined the beating of Mr. Meister. After being unable to pull Mr. Meister to the ground (Mr. Meister played club rugby at Ohio State and instinctively tries to stay on his feet when being tackled), Office Tysl punched him in the face repeatedly while Officer Salmon shot darts from a TASER Model X26 electrical control device into Mr. Meister’s left side, causing five seconds of rapidly pulsing electrical shocks. Officer Salmon reported that the X26 current had the desired result and Mr. Meister fell face down. … The officers allegedly kicked, elbowed and Tasered Meister multiple times before he was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.

All because cops were too stupid to recognize sign language when they saw it. Read the whole thing for yourself. And also this article, posted yesterday, shows how incidents like these have become routine.

I was raised by authoritarian parents who, naturally, taught me to respect, submit to and obey authority — particularly authority wielded by cops, because they serve the most authoritarian institution of all, government. So I grew up fearing cops while at the same time believing they could be trusted. After a few years as a newspaper reporter who covered cops and courts, I became convinced the fear of cops was correct but the trust was wrong.

I wrote about one cop who got his own 15-year-old daughter pregnant. During the trial it was revealed he had been offering pelvic exams to his daughter’s friends. I wrote about another who helped cover up his kid’s bicycle theft ring.

I wrote about others who had the mysterious ability to get into bar fights while off duty and never be charged with a crime. In every instance, the victims of the numerous attacks by these off-duty cops were charged.

I wrote about a man who was wrongly charged with and convicted of murdering both his parents and sentenced to death. Nearly four years later, he was cleared after the FBI — by pure dumb luck in a totally unrelated investigation — recorded the actual killers talking about their crime and how the poor schmuck son would die for it. When the FBI presented the indisputable evidence to the local cops and prosecutors, they changed their story.

From the first day, and all the years until then, cops and prosecutors had said the son committed the murders by himself in a drug-induced blackout rage – even though they had no physical evidence against him. They they said he was the mastermind of a criminal plot to have others commit the murders. The Illinois Appellate Court saw through their pathetic attempt to cover up their incompetence and immorality.

Since 2010, in the county next to the one in which I live (the county line is just three miles from my house) five people convicted of murder have been freed after the courts were confronted with DNA or other indisputable evidence showing the convicted persons could not possibly have committed the crimes. Here’s the most recent release.

These people were wrongly convicted of murder because cops or prosecutors (or both) made up evidence, missed evidence, withheld evidence, suborned perjury, or engaged in other acts that would have been considered negligent or criminal if you or I or anyone else not a cop or prosecutor would have committed them.

In instance after instance — no matter how outrageous their conduct has been — police and prosecutors have tried to defend, downplay, and explain away their actions.

Now comes Austin Police Chief Acevedo, who has told America we should be thankful his cops did not rape a female jaywalker. Applaud him, Dear Reader, applaud him. We need more candor like this from America’s police chiefs.

Categories: On the Blog

San Jose Mercury News Hangs Peter Gleick’s ‘Crimes’ Around His Neck

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2014, 3:42 PM

Peter Gleick may like this photo, but he won’t be framing the SJ Mercury News story on his office wall.

A story in the Feb. 24 edition of the San Jose Mercury News noted that the drought in California has raised the profile of Peter Gleick and his Pacific Institute.

But in what certainly came as a shock to Gleick, the liberal Bay Area paper dedicated one-quarter of its 775-word story outlining his admitted identity theft and fraud against The Heartland Institute — the scandal known as Fakegate.

The story accurately quoted me about Gleick’s admitted crimes, and how Gleick’s years of advocacy about global warming have “actually decreased the public’s understanding of the climate”:

But Gleick, 57, got tripped up in heated climate politics in 2012 when he admitted to using a fake name to obtain internal documents from the libertarian Heartland Institute, an anti-regulation group that works to minimize or refute global warming. He took a four-month leave of absence and was reinstated after the Pacific Institute cleared him of wrongdoing. The incident gained national attention, and Gleick was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the American Geophysical Union’s ethics committee.

The Heartland Institute continues to push for criminal charges.

Gleick proved he “has no moral qualms about committing serious crimes to advance an ideological agenda,” said Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely. No one “should take seriously anything he has to say about the climate. To the extent he’s shaped public opinion, he’s actually decreased the public’s understanding of the climate.”

Frankly, that’s more than I expected from a MSM outlet, but I’m grateful. And it’s gotta smart Gleick — and Michael Mann (also quoted in this story), and every alarmsit who is used to glowing coverage in the MSM to see those quotes in print. At the end of this post are the questions asked of me by the reporter and my emailed responses in full.

When asked about his crimes by the San Jose Mercury News, Gleick said he “is not remorseful”:

“The science of climate change is incredibly strong,” Gleick said. “There is a remaining small group of deniers who try to misuse the science but I think are really afraid of the policy debate about what to do about climate change. Like the tobacco industry, I think history will show them for what they are.”

One does not have to wait for history to see Peter Gleick’s legacy. The San Jose Mercury News helped its readers show Gleick for what he is now. And it’s quite rich for Gleick to suggest the scientists and policy experts Heartland works with are “really afraid of the policy debate.” Gleick began the crime spree that ruined his reputation shortly after he was invited to debate those he calls “deniers” at a Heartland Institute event. We offered to donate $5,000 to the charity of his choice. Gleick chose, instead, to commit a crime.

For the record, here’s a taste of the “horror” Gleick had in store: A cordial and informative debate between a “warmist” and a “skeptic” at one of one of Heartland’s eight international conferences on climate change. The “warmist” (for lack of a better term, to his dismay) is Scott Denning, Ph.D., the Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and an editor of Journal of Climate who has given two other presentaions at Heartland’s climate conferences. The “skeptic” is Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D., principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

I’ve embedded at the end of this post the impromptu tribute the charming Scott Denning gave to Heartland and the scientists we assembled at the end of our fourth conference in Chicago in May 2010. Denning’s testimony of how welcome he felt and how intellectually stimulating he found the conference speaks for itself. (SPOILER: Denning said it was “really too bad” more of his colleagues didn’t have the good sense to attend. They’d have learned a lot, as he did. “We need public policy that’s based on facts,” Denning said, “rather than ‘facts’ that are based on a policy agenda.” BTW: Heartland is planning a ninth international conference on climate change this year … stay tuned.)

Meanwhile, click around at Fakegate.org to get the full story of Gleick’s crimes — including a plethora of independent media analysis of his pathetic, fumbled caper. (Be sure not to miss this devastating piece of sleuthing by Megan McArdle, as well as this one by her — both published before Gleick confessed). You can also see the criminal case The Heartland Institute presented to federal prosecutors. The case is still open, because the crimes still stand.

———————–

My email correspondence with reporter Heather Somerville:

Q: How did Peter’s fraudulent actions against Heartland impact the scientific community, in the context of credibility and trust? Have you seen any long-term impacts?

A: Gleick’s fraud damaged the climate alarmists in the scientific community — especially because many of his colleagues applauded him for his crimes. The observable climate data of about the last two decades has served to disprove the computer-modeled hypothesis of man-caused global warming. That true data is what Heartland and the scientists we work with have published in two volumes of research and eight international climate conferences.

Gleick was apparently so frustrated by the inconvenient truth that he sought to take down a small, but influential organization through criminal activity. The actual effect was to generate more attention to, and more funding, for our work. Gleick damaged his side of the climate debate, not ours.

Q: How did Peter’s fraudulent actions impact his own reputation, in your view?

A: Gleick seriously harmed his reputation through his criminal actions. No serious scientist, reporter, or the public should take seriously anything he has to say about the climate.

Q: Is Heartland still seeking criminal prosecution?

A: Yes.

Q: What has been Peter’s and the Pacific Institute’s contribution to the scientific community?

A: Gleick’s greatest contribution to the scientific community is showing the world that global warming alarmists have no moral qualms about committing serious crimes to advance an ideological agenda. The Pacific Institute has also ruined its own reputation by conducting a sham investigation, reinstating Gleick as president, and not addressing any of the questions Heartland posed to them in two open letters.

Q: How do you believe his work has shaped the public’s understanding of climate and water issues?

A: Gleick is not a climate scientist. His expertise is in hydrology. To the extent he’s shaped public opinion, he’s actually decreased the public’s understanding of the climate by falsely claiming there is a man-caused crisis.

Q: What scientific research and data does Heartland draw on to formulate it’s position on climate change? (just a few examples, please)

A: Heartland has a global network of hundreds of climate scientists who write for us, participate in peer review, and speak at our international conferences. We support the efforts of more climate scientists than any other free-market think tank in the world.

The best and most comprehensive examples of their work are the “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, or NIPCC. These volumes, including a new one coming out in March, amount to more than 3,000 pages of research taken from the peer-reviewed literature that suggest the conclusions of the United Nations’ IPCC are wildly off the mark. The “Climate Change Reconsidered”series looks at the data first, then draws conclusions, rather than the other way around. The volumes have been reviewed by scores of scientists from around the world under the leadership of three main editors: Dr. S. Fred Singer, Dr. Craig Idso, and Dr. Robert Carter. More info about the series of reports can be found at the link above.

Heartland has also hosted eight International Conferences on Climate Change, with work already begun on hosting a ninth. The eight ICCCs so far have featured 350 presentations from 187 scientists, economists, and other public policy experts. Many of the hundreds of scientists that Heartland works with have presented at those conferences.

Q: Does Heartland offer any alternative solutions to the drought crisis in California, that either are similar or dissimilar to recommendations made by the Pacific institute?

A: I’m not familiar with what the Pacific Institute recommends to help alleviate the drought crisis in California. But activists like Gleick were at the forefront of the push to stop the flow of water from the Sacramento Delta to the farm country in the Central Valley in the service of “protecting” a small bait fish. Tens of billions of gallons of fresh water were instead diverted into the sea. The drought in California is as much the fault of senseless decisions by man as it is of Mother Nature.

———————–

The Scott Denning video:

 

Categories: On the Blog

Democrats’ Climate Change Emphasis is Hurting Their Own

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2014, 4:53 PM

The Democrats think that climate change is a winning issue for them in 2014—and, if they handle it correctly, this could be a winning issue for the Republicans.

Nothing comes out of the Obama White House by mistake—so you know the recent flurry of noise on climate change is not an accident.

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced the creation of 7 “climate hubs” with the stated goal: “to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods.”

Then on February 14, President Obama announced a new $1 billion “climate resilience fund” that “would go to research on the projected impacts of climate change, help communities prepare for climate change’s effects and fund ‘breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure.’

Secretary of State John Kerry has received a lot of attention for his February 16 fear-mongering comments in Indonesia, during which he called climate change a “weapon of mass destruction”—the “world’s most fearsome.” He said: “Because of climate change, it’s no secret that today Indonesia is…one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.”

On February 17, the New York Times (NYT) reported that billionaire Obama donor Tom Steyer plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election cycle to “pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.” Steyer has been critical of Democrats who waver on climate issues. The NYT reports that Steyer’s new fundraising push “signals a shift within the environmental movement, as donors—frustrated that neither Democratic nor Republican officials are willing to prioritize climate change measures—shift their money from philanthropy and education into campaign vehicles designed to win elections.”

However, I see all of this Democratic emphasis on climate change as an opportunity for Republicans—if they realize it as a gift.

The January electricity price index was just released and revealed that the cost of electricity has hit a new high—which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year. CNSNews.com reports: “During the year, the price of a KWH of electricity usually rises in the spring, peaks in summer, declines in fall, and is at its lowest point in winter.”

True to the law of supply and demand, rising electricity prices in the U.S. have not been inevitable. According to CNSNews.com, following WWII, the U.S. was rapidly increasing its electricity generation capacity. In the 1950s and 60s the price remained relatively stable. However, since 2007, the U.S. has decreased its electricity production; while the population has increased by more than 14 million people—almost all with multiple electronic gadgets running simultaneously.

The 2007 benchmark is important because 2006/2007 is when the global-warming scare began to influence public energy policy—this is the time frame when states passed laws requiring more-expensive renewable energy to be part of the total energy portfolio (laws that set up the rationale for the $150 billion of taxpayer dollars being spent on green energy projects). It is when the war on coal began.

The CNSNews.com report states: “The Monthly Energy Review also indicates that a large part of the decline in U.S. electricity generation has come from a decrease in the electricity produced by coal—which has not been replaced by a commensurate increase in the electricity produced by natural gas or the ‘renewable’ sources of wind and solar.”

The decline in electricity production—slightly supplemented by more expensive renewables—has directly caused the price spike. And Obama’s climate change policies are shuttering more and more coal-fueled power plants—even after they’ve spent millions on pollution controls. We can expect continuing higher electricity costs heading into the 2014 election.

Recently, I received a phone call from an irate woman. She told me she’d been searching the Internet for someone who could help her and found me. She explained that she was an unemployed, single mom living in an 800-square-foot apartment. She said she didn’t turn on her heat because she couldn’t afford it. When she got her electric bill, she noticed that it had a line item: $1.63 for green energy—about which she declared: “I don’t give a *!%# about green energy! I am so mad at PNM for making me pay for green energy that I don’t want!”

I explained that it wasn’t the utility company’s fault. They are just following the law by incorporating renewables into the portfolio. It is the lawmakers who deserve her wrath—from the local and state representatives all the way up to the president.

I do not know if this woman is a Democrat or a Republican. But I do know she represents the exact type of voter Obama claims to champion—the exact type of voter his climate-change policies are hurting. These voters “don’t give a *!%# about green energy”—they care about the rising cost of electricity.

The Democrats own “climate change.” The Democrats are hurting their own.

If the Republicans are smart enough to capture the anger of voters—like the woman who called me—and feature it in television ads, the Democrats’ climate-change emphasis will be a winning issue for Republicans. (BTW, Karl Rove, I have the caller’s phone number. Maybe you could feature her in an ad.)

Categories: On the Blog

Those GHG Reduction Deniers…

Somewhat Reasonable - February 19, 2014, 10:41 PM

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Let’s see if a couple of global warming advocates have the courage of their convictions. I’m not a Twitterer (being unable to say anything in 140 characters or less), but hopefully some kind reader will bring this particular issue to the attention of Chicago Tribune columnist Stephen Chapman and popular TV personality Bill Nye “The Science Guy”.

Let’s start here. There are two parts to the global warming (a.k.a.: “climate change”) issue as it relates to the US of A. Part one can be roughly defined as: “mankind has a significant, disproportionate effect on the earth’s climate, chiefly through the combustion of fossil fuels”. I don’t happen to agree with that proposition, but I don’t make any claims to infallibility either. So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the combustion of fossil fuels significantly affects the planet’s climate. That leads us to part two of this issue: is America reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to solve this supposed problem?

There are plenty of people who insist that people like me who happen to disagree with proposition #1 are – at best – dirty rotten liars who have sold our souls to evil energy conglomerates. “Deniers” is the popular term applied to us. So be it. Yet, if people like me are supposedly “denying” that human activity is causing massive changes in the global climate, what should we say about those folks who continue to demand that the United States take action to combat “climate change” who remain willfully ignorant of all the time and treasure that has been expended to accomplish that very goal? In practical terms, they are the real “deniers”. The very actions they have demanded have been, and will continue to be, implemented.  But they pay no attention to this demonstrable fact. It’s the Stephen Champmans, the Bill Nyes, etc. of the world who have truly earned the title of “deniers”. They claim to be so very concerned about Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG emissions), but they don’t pay any actual attention to the sources of those emissions.

In a recent debate with US Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, engineer Bill Nye said that he wanted “…the U.S. to lead the world in this”, referring to GHG emissions reductions. Good news for ya Bill – you’ve gotten your wish! Nobody in the industrial world has done more to reduce GHG emissions that the USA, and nobody is on track to do more. If you believe this is such a vitally important issue Billy boy, why in the heck aren’t you keeping track of GHG emissions? Last time I checked, science depends on data. How about doing your homework? Among other things, you can check out the following: USEPA reports regarding ever-decreasing national GHG reductions, state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program reports that have and will continue to reduce GHG emissions, more stringent CAFÉ standards that will continue to reduce GHG emissions from mobile sources, more stringent coal boiler standards that force power production toward less GHG intensive sources, new EPA efficiency power production standards that require more GHG reductions, and new federal permitting requirements that demand new large projects be as minimally GHG intensive as possible. These things are all happening, have been happening and will continue to happen. Those who choose to ignore the demonstrable, verifiable fact the United States has gone through great pains to reduce emissions of fossil fuel generated emissions of carbon dioxide are the ultimate “deniers”.

In that vein, Chicago Tribune columnist Stephen Chapman wrote a piece a few years ago in which he upbraided conservatives for not getting on board with the climate change crowd. I penned Stephen a response, believing that he was an honest libertarian expressing a honest opinion, rather than an ideologue. Stephen wrote me back defending his position (as explained below). I stored his response in the memory file, with the intent of revisiting the issue after a few years had passed. A few years have now passed and I sent Stephen the e-mail pasted in below. I’ve had no response from him as of yet. So how about it Stephen (and how about it Bill Nye?) – any response?

 My e-mail to Stephen Chapman:

 Dear Stephen,

 A few years ago, you wrote a column upbraiding Republicans for not getting on board with legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the US. Having long respected you as a honest libertarian (and seeing as how I have been intimately involved in the environmental world throughout my career) , I dropped you a line to let you know that no further action was needed in the US. A combination of anti-coal regulations, energy efficiency standards, state Renewable Portfolio Standards and regional efforts had combined – and would continue to combine – to reduce US GHG emissions. You kindly replied, stating that your sources indicated that the declines in GHG emissions were “short term” and would not continue in the future.

 I hope you will appreciate an update. According to USEPA data, the nation has continued to steadily reduce GHG emissions. One can “write off” 2009 emission levels as an aberration associated with the onset of the Great Recession, but the steady decline has continued since then. Here’s the latest trend data from USEPA. (Unfortunately it’s from 2011, but bureaucratic wheels turn oh-so-slowly…)

As you can see, the US was down to sub-1996 GHG emissions levels in 2011, making the nation – as Exxon-Mobil correctly  asserts – the world leader in reducing those emissions.

 Here’s another look at the same data set from USEPA:

 

Since 2011, there have been more coal plant shutdowns, more renewable power installations and more energy efficiency initiative implementations. The reductions in GHG emissions for 2012 and 2013 will – and you can quote me – be even more dramatic than what we have seen so far. This curve will continue to head steadily downwards, no matter what Messr. Hawthorne and his pals say to the contrary.

 So my problem is this: the Tribune has joined the chorus that proclaims that man-made “climate change” is, if not the most important issue of our times, damn near the top of the list. As a scientist who has spent his career immersed in air quality, I don’t happen to agree, but I don’t make any claims of infallibility either. But, if the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune sincerely believes that GHG emissions are a threat to human existence, why does your paper consistently ignore the massive – and expensive – efforts that have been successfully implanted in the United States to reduce those emissions? It’s like you’re covering a four alarm fire and choose to completely ignore the fact that firefighters responded to the call. Identifying GHG emissions as a threat and then dispassionately transmitting the nation’s efforts to reduce such emissions would seem to meet the definition of “journalism”, as least as I understand it. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens. Identifying GHG emissions as a threat and then completely ignoring the verifiable fact that the nation has been reducing such emissions appears to fall under the heading of “advocacy”. Perhaps that’s what modern journalism has become, but I would hope the venerable old (used to be) Trib would at least be a bit more honest about this issue.

Best Regards,

Rich

Still waiting for a response.

Not holding my breath…

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Obama Wants to Waste a Billion on Climate Change

Somewhat Reasonable - February 19, 2014, 11:09 AM

Barack Obama will be remembered for many things during his two terms in office, but high on the list, right after lying to everyone about everything, will be his determination to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on every Green scheme from solar and wind energy to electric cars, and now on “climate change.”

He is calling for a billion-dollar climate change fund in his forthcoming budget, due out next month. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the fund “would be spent on researching the projected effects of climate change and helping Americans prepare for them, including with new technology and infrastructure, according to the White House.

We don’t need any research and we don’t need any new technology. The National Weather Service has hugely expensive computers that enable it to predict what the weather will be anywhere in the U.S. with some measure of accuracy for up to three or four days. After that, it gets fuzzy. What will the weather be next week? Well, maybe a bit warmer or a bit colder.

As for the effects of weather events, we have centuries of knowledge regarding this. We know what happens after a blizzard or a hurricane, a drought or a flood.

When a huge storm like Sandy hit the East Coast, we had FEMA that was supposed to come in and help the victims. The federal government also came up with a couple of million for the States most affected, but it is still a problem that local first responders and utilities have to address most directly.

Obama was out in California to show his concern for the drought-stricken farmers and the administration is speeding delivery of $100 million of aid to livestock farmers, $15 million for areas hit hardest, and $60 million for California food banks to help the poor. Rep. Kevin McCarthy(R-CA) pointed out that the drought has been “exacerbated by federal and state regulations” including an environmental rule that placed “the well-being of fish…ahead of the well-being” of communities.

Like Rep. McCarthy, those on the scene point out that the drought is in part the result of the failure to restore the water flow from California’s water-heavy north to farmers in the central and south. House Bill 3964 does that, but only if the Senate will stop holding it up. Rep. McCarthy is joined by Rep. Devin Nunes explaining that California’s system of aqueducts and storage tanks was designed long ago to take advantage of rain and mountain runoff from wet years and store it for use in dry years.

As Investors Business Daily pointed out, “Environmental special interests managed to dismantle the system by diverting water meant for farms to pet projects, such as saving delta smelt, a baitfish. That move forced the flushing of three million acre-feet of water originally slated for the Central Valley into the ocean over the past five years.”

Obama made no mention of that, but it is an example of how, in the name of climate change billions are wasted or lost, such as when the outcry over Spotted Owls caused a vast portion of the Northwest’s timber industry was decimated by the false claim that they were “endangered.”

All this traces back to the founding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program. The IPCC was given a formal blessing by the UN General Assembly through Resolution 43/53.

And what has the IPCC done? It has championed the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for warming the Earth and that all the industries and other human activities that create CO2 emissions had to reduce them in order to save the Earth. In 2007 the IPCC and Al Gore would share a Nobel Peace Prize. As an organization and as an individual these two have proved to be the among the greatest liars on planet Earth.

Dr. Craig D. Idso, PhD, is the founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. He is an advisor to The Heartland Institute and, with Dr. Robert M. Carter and Dr. S. Fred Singer, authored the 2011 study, “Climate Change Reconsidered”, for the entertainingly named NIPCC—Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. Published by The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank that has led the effort to expose the IPCC since 2009, sponsoring eight international conferences, the report was updated in 2013 and a new update is due in March.

Writing in The Hill on January 30, Dr. Idso said “the President’s concerns for the planet are based upon flawed and speculative science; and his policy prescription is a recipe for failure” noting that “literally thousands of scientific studies have produced findings that run counter to his view of future climate”:

As just one example, and a damning one at that, all of the computer models upon which his vision is based failed to predict the current plateau (the cooling cycle) in global temperature that has continued for the past 16 years. That the Earth has not warmed significantly during this period, despite an 8 percent increase in atmospheric CO2, is a major indictment of the model’s credibility in predicting future climate, as well as the President’s assertion that debate on this topic is ‘settled’.

“The taxation or regulation of CO2 emissions is an unnecessary and detrimental policy option that should be shunned,” said Dr. Idso. Unfortunately for Americans, that is precisely the policy being driven by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of the Interior and other elements of the government.

So the trip to California with its promise of more million spent when, in fact, the Green policies of that State have caused the loss of the Central lands that produce a major portion of the nation’s food stocks, reveals how utterly corrupt Obama’s climate-related policies have been since he took office in 2009.

Billions of taxpayer dollars have been squandered by the crony capitalism that is the driving force behind the IPCC’s and U.S. demands for the reduction of CO2 emissions.

There is climate change and it has been going on for 4.5 billion years on planet Earth. It has everything to do with the Sun, the oceans, volcanic activity and other natural factors. It has nothing to do with the planet’s human population.

What is profoundly disturbing is the deliberate political agenda behind the President’s lies and Secretary of State John Kerry’s irrational belief that climate change is the world’s “most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Other Union Ruining Schools

Somewhat Reasonable - February 18, 2014, 6:01 PM

David Horowitz has a new campaign in which he points out rotten schools thrive in Democrat-controlled inner cities and predominantly hurt poor, minority children. His new one-minute ad dramatically makes that point, calling the situation an “atrocity” and pointing a finger at teachers unions as the cause.

“One out of three children in America’s inner cities fails to graduate,” the clip’s narrator says. “Half of those who do are functionally illiterate.”

The problem, she says, is adults who oppose reform: Democrats and unions.

Teachers unions do block reforms that would benefit kids. Policies they favor degrade education, such as firing and hiring teachers according only to how long they’ve been in a particular school rather than their quality or area of expertise.

As President Franklin Roosevelt noted, government employee labor unions also are a scam against taxpayers because they let unions elect the officials they’ll bargain with, effectively directing tax money to political activism and ensuring no taxpayer or child advocate sits at the bargaining table.

Unions are certainly among those responsible for the 702 percent increase in school staff since 1950, while student enrollment increased only 96 percent. Public schools have gotten approximately 300 percent more expensive but hardly a whit better since the 1970s, as the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson has documented. That’s a disgrace.

Although it’s fair to blame the unions for many ills besetting the nation’s schools, unions are by no means the only big problem affecting education.

I’ve talked to many teachers whose jobs were threatened when they exercised free speech, and often the local union was their only protection. Unions occasionally meet real needs in a school teaching market monopolized in each locality by a single player — the government.

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute also discusses some freedoms school leaders don’t realize they have, partly because of union-blaming.

“The problem is not just the very real statutory, regulatory, and contractual barriers, but also the ‘culture of can’t,’ a culture in which even surmountable impediments or ankle-high obstacles are treated as absolute prohibitions,” he said.

Horowitz’s ad risks oversimplifying the problems with public education and overpromising success. Probably the biggest reason for the inner-city atrocity this ad targets is not teachers unions or the “culture of can’t” but the lack of another kind of union: marriages.

Family structure is the single largest predictor of economic mobility, a new Harvard University study found. It’s also a predictor of education success. Children raised by both biological parents have higher graduation rates, math and reading test scores, college-going and completion rates, fewer behavior problems and other family-generated riches.

Combine this with the dismal statistics that 7-in-10 African-American children and 1-in-2 Hispanic children are born to unmarried mothers. That fact alone clouds their life prospects.

It’s easier — and fairer — to beat up on a big, bad labor union boss than a struggling single mom. But we can and should beat up on deadbeat dads, as Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute has suggested, and without involving government.

We could start with positive public education campaigns, touting the benefits of stable, married parents for all children. It is a scandal the way the media ignores this huge and growing social, educational and economic problem. Pretending it is the teachers unions who deserve blame, without mentioning the failures of parents’ unions, will only perpetuate kids’ failure and suffering.

[First published by Watchdog.org]

Categories: On the Blog

A Brutal Chicago Winter, Global Warming, and Just Weather

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 3:20 PM

I moved to Chicago in 2010 after five years of living in perfect Pasadena, California — where I looked at the sun setting on the beautiful San Gabriel Mountians every day during what for East Coasters and Midwesterners can be a miserable train commute home.

Sure, sometimes the mountains were on fire, but I wasn’t too concerned. The view was still beautiful to a man raised in Pittsburgh. Hell, I played softball in the shadow of the historic Rose Bowl —  at night in December and January. How could one find something to complain about weather wise? As far was I as concerned, Pasadena in winter was the definition of Lower 48 paradise.

But for most of my life I’ve known what “real winter” is like. I hate it, but I can endure it. My blood didn’t get “vampire thin” during my interregnum from actual weather for five years in SoCal. And I enjoyed the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. It was a great one day reminder of what winter really is like for most of the country.

But this year has been brutal — as if I moved to Winnipeg, not Chicago. As you’re reading this on the morning of February 17, 2014, Chicago is getting another six inches of snow. That wouldn’t be so bad except for the 60 inches of snow that has already fallen. That’s about 250 percent more snow at this date than has usually fallen in a typical Chicago winter. We have had almost no days to melt it off all year — this being the coldest winter in Chicago in generations — and we still have about six weeks of winter left to go. This is already the snowiest winter in 34 years in Chicago. And if we get one more significant storm after this one, Chicago could see its snowiest winter EVER since records began in 1884.

So why is the title of this post, “A Brutal Chicago Winter, Global Warming, and Just Weather”? Well, these things happen. I feel bad for the residents of Chicago from 1977 to 1979. They averaged almost 90 inches of snow each of those winters. Less than a handful of times in the intervening years has the snowfall been even half that amount.

Back in the late ’70s, talk of an approaching ice age was all the rage. And in the ’90s and ’00s, man-caused “global warming” caused by man was the fashion. Even Robert Kennedy Jr. talked of his kids never enjoying a skiing or a sled ride.

But I’m not so vain to believe this season’s anomalies in Chicago and elsewhere prove a given climate theory. Weather does not equal climate — though that is what the alarmists always say.

This year has just given Chicago a winter that makes me angry. It will pass. Spring will come. And the real data about what is happening to our climate will endure.

Categories: On the Blog

Carbon Benefits Exceed Costs by up to 500:1

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 2:49 PM

[Ed: Dr. Roger Bezdek is the co-author of this post.] 

The Environmental Protection Agency, other government agencies and various scientists contend that fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming and climate change. They use this claim to justify repressive regulations for automobiles, coal-fired power plants and other facilities powered by hydrocarbon energy.

Because these rules are costing millions of jobs and billions of dollars, a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) devised the “social cost of carbon” concept (SCC) – which attaches arbitrary monetary values to the alleged impacts of using hydrocarbons and emitting carbon dioxide. SCC estimates represent the supposed monetized damages associated with incremental increases in “carbon pollution” in a given year.

With little publicity, debate or public input, in 2010 the IWG set the cost at $22 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Then, in 2013 (again with little notice), it arbitrarily increased the SCC to $36/ton, enabling agencies to proclaim massive, unacceptable damages from “carbon,” and enormous benefits from their regulations. Recently, the Department of Energy used the $36 formula to justify proposed standards for microwave ovens, cell phone chargers and laptops!

The SCC allows unelected bureaucrats to wildly amplify the alleged impacts of theoretical manmade climate disasters, exaggerate the supposed benefits of rules, minimize their costs, and ignore the value to society of the facility, activity or product they want to regulate. That is exactly what is happening.

Fundamental flaws in the SCC concept and process make the agencies’ analyses – and proposed rulemakings – questionable, improper, and even fraudulent and illegal. A new Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) analysis examines this in detail.

1) Executive Order 12866 requires that federal agencies “assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.” (EO 12866 was issued by President Clinton in 1993.) A recent Office of Management and Budget statement notes that careful consideration of both costs and benefits is important in determining whether a regulation is worth implementing at all. Indeed, any valid and honest benefit-cost (B-C) analysis likewise requires that agencies consider both the benefits and the costs of carbon-based fuels and carbon dioxide emissions.

Thus far, the EPA and other government agency analyses, press releases and regulatory proposals have highlighted only the alleged costs of carbon-based fuels and their supposed effects on climate change. They have never even mentioned the many clear benefits associated with those fuels and emissions.

2) EPA claims the government is “committed to updating the current estimates, as the science and economic understanding of climate change and its impacts on society improve over time.” Given the Obama Administration’s history and agenda, it is highly likely that SCC values will only increase in forthcoming updates – with literally trillions of dollars at stake.

3) The IWG methodology for developing SCC estimates is so infinitely flexible, so devoid of any rigorous standards, that it could produce almost any estimates that any agency might desire. For example, its computer models are supposed to combine climate processes, economic growth, and feedbacks between the climate and the global economy, into a single modeling framework.

However, only limited research links climate impacts to economic damages, and much of it is speculative, at best. Even the IWG admits that the exercise is subject to “simplifying assumptions and judgments, reflecting the various modelers’ best attempts to synthesize the available scientific and economic research characterizing these relationships.” [emphasis added] Each model uses a different approach to translate global warming into damages; transforming economic damages over time into a single value requires “judgments” about how to discount them; and federal officials have been highly selective in choosing which “available scientific and economic research” they will utilize. As objective outside analysts have concluded, this process is “close to useless.”

4) The differences in the 2010 and 2013 SCC estimates are so large, and of such immense potential significance, as to raise serious questions regarding their integrity and validity – especially since, prior to 2010, the “official” government estimate for carbon costs was zero!

Finally, and most importantly, the agencies hypothesize almost every conceivable carbon “cost” – to agriculture, forestry, water resources, “forced migration” of people and wildlife, human health and disease, coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands. But they completely ignore every one of the obvious and enormous benefits of using fossil fuels … and of emitting carbon dioxide! Just as incredibly, they have done this in complete disregard of EO 12866 … and the OMB ruling that careful consideration of both costs and benefits is important in determining whether a regulation is worth implementing at all.  Had they followed the law and B-C rules, they would have found that:

Hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide benefits outweigh the cost by as much as 500 to 1!

In other words, the costs of EPA and other restrictions on fossil fuel use exceed their benefits by 50:1 (using the 2013 SCC of $36/ton of CO2) or even 500:1 (using the 2010 SCC of $22/ton). The entire process is obviously detrimental to American lives, jobs, living standards, health and welfare. Yet it is being imposed in the name of preventing highly speculative “dangerous manmade climate change.”

The successful development and utilization of fossil fuels facilitated successive industrial revolutions, launched the modern world, created advanced technological societies, and enabled the high quality of life that many now take for granted. Over the past 200 years, primarily because of hydrocarbon energy, people’s health and living standards soared, global life expec­tancy more than doubled, human population increased eight-fold, and average incomes increased eleven-fold, economist Indur Goklany calculates.

Comparing world GDP and CO2 emissions over the past century shows a strong and undeniable relationship between world GDP and the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.  In fact, the fossil fuels that provide the vast bulk of the world’s total energy needs – and from which CO2 is an essential byproduct – are creating $60 trillion to $70 trillion per year in world GDP! That relationship will almost certainly continue for the foreseeable future. Today, 81% of the world’s energy is from fossil fuels. For at least the next several decades, fossil fuels will continue to supply 75-80% of global energy.

That means any reductions in United States fossil fuel use or carbon dioxide emissions will be almost imperceptible amidst the world’s huge and rapidly increasing levels of both. In fact, the World Resources Institute says 59 nations are already planning to build more than 1,200 new coal-fired power plants – on top of what those nations and Germany, Poland and other developed nations are already building

However, hydrocarbon use has also helped raise atmospheric concentrations from about 320 ppm carbon dioxide to nearly 400 ppm (from 0.032% of the atmosphere to 0.040%). The Obama Administration (wrongly) regards this slight increase as “dangerous.” That is an erroneous, shortsighted perception that improperly ignores the enormous benefits of this increase in plant-fertilizing CO2.

Carbon dioxide truly is “the gas of life,” the basis of all life on Earth. It spurs plant growth, and enhances agricultural productivity.  Plants use it to produce the organic matter out of which they construct their tissues, which subsequently become sources of fiber, building materials and food for humans and animals.

Carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by humans 1961-2011 increased global crop production by some $3.5 trillion, plant biologist and CO2 expert Craig Idso calculates. Human CO2 emissions will likely add $11.6 trillion in additional benefits between 2013 and 2050 – based on actual measurements of CO2-induced plant growth and crop production, not on computer models, Idso estimates.

Carbon dioxide benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the SCC – no matter which government reports are used. In fact, any estimate for “social costs of carbon” is hidden amid the statistical noise of CO2 benefits.

Prodigious amounts of fossil fuels are required to sustain future economic growth, especially in developing countries. If the world is serious about increasing economic growth, reducing energy deprivation, and increasing or maintaining living standards, fossil fuels are absolutely essential. Their benefits far outweigh any conceivable costs, and will continue to do so for decades to come.

These undeniable facts must form the foundation for energy, environmental and regulatory policies. Otherwise, regulations will be far worse than the harms they supposedly redress.

——————

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. Dr. Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc., in Washington, DC.

Categories: On the Blog

Presidents Day and ‘The Decline of the Republican Spirit’

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 2:38 PM
When then-candidate Barack Obama was running for president on a platform of hope and change, most Americans probably didn’t think he had in mind the loss of individual freedoms and the steady slide of the United States toward becoming just another European-style social democracy.    When almost President-elect Obama, just before his 2008 election night victory, triumphantly crowed that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” most Americans probably didn’t think he meant ignoring the Bill of Rights in favor of government by an increasingly powerful and intrusive ruling class of experts.    Yet five years into the Obama Presidency, as the nation pauses to observe “President’s Day,” some people have begun to wonder.    Speaking at the Union League Club of Chicago’s 126th annual George Washington’s Birthday Gala on Valentine’s Day Friday, February 14, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a packed audience in response to a question following his speech that what most worries him at the age of 77, after nearly 28 years on the nation’s highest court, is “the decline of the republican spirit.”   “It doesn’t exist in our people with a vigor that used to exist,” he told his audience as quoted in the Chicago Tribune.  “That’s what I’m most worried about, that we’re going to become just another … undemocratic politician-run state.  Which our framers would never have supported.”   Scalia may have ample cause to worry.    Sadly, it seems that the Senate no longer understands that the Constitution provides that revenue bills must originate in the House or Representatives, which is closest to the people from whom all government revenue comes; the House believes it must pass bills to find out what is in them rather than thoroughly reading and vigorously debating them first; and the President believes that it is up to him and his Attorney General to decide which laws – once passed and signed – to enforce, which to waive or to delay, and which to ignore completely.   Justice Scalia’s own Court is not without blame. The Chief Justice apparently doesn’t know a penalty from a tax, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg isn’t sure she would advise another country to look to the United States Constitution as a model.  Excepting Justice Thomas, many of the rest ruminate occasionally about whether the government can or should order citizens to eat broccoli while debating how many multicultural angels can dance on the head of a pin in the public square without offending anyone.    The American people, meanwhile, stagger under a crushing economy while politicians carry on like the crown princes of Europe. The Secretary of State hectors the public about global warming while crisscrossing the planet on a fossil fuel-burning jet; with fully one-sixth of men of working age having dropped out of the labor force for want of meaningful work, the President plays a lot of golf.    Voters nonetheless sit blithely by while the Congress digs the country ever deeper into debt, magically hoping their pennies will grow into dollars instead of the other way around.  Somehow many still believe that they will actually find themselves “socially secure” in their dotages after the nanny state has already exhausted its resources raising their children, putting food on their tables and cell phones in their hands, and providing them with “free” health care and birth control.    The government insists that opening the borders to low-skilled undocumented immigrants who are nonetheless willing to work and giving them a path to citizenship and the right to vote will postpone the inevitable, while a metaphorical fence is being built around us and the gates are beginning to close.    Although he declined to opine that the country has passed a “tipping point” beyond which total decline is inevitable, Justice Scalia noted that the framers didn’t expect our democracy to last forever and said he doesn’t think “we can be too cocky about America always being America.  It’s going to change unless the people have the same determination to preserve liberty that the framers had.”    The United States Constitution is only 225 years old, and Justice Scalia has been around for over a third of them.  His are words to ponder on this 2014 President’s Day.
Categories: On the Blog

Government Broadband Overbuilds Are Anti-competitive

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 7:22 AM

Governments do not “compete” with companies. Governments tax, limit, police and judge companies.

So when governments try and offer a similar service that private companies have long provided consumers, these governments effectively are opposing and undermining private companies in the marketplace – not “competing” with them.

That’s why some municipalities, which are overbuilding existing wire-line and wireless broadband companies’ services, are acting anti-competitively – not pro-competitively as they try to claim.

So what’s going on here? It’s simply politics.

At the local level, activists of common carrier net neutrality have long pushed municipalities to offer broadband as a government-owned utility service.

It is a key element of a broader political grassroots movement that seeks a government mandate that the Internet be a public information commons – not an e-marketplace.

These utopian activists oppose the “economics of scarcity,” i.e. free market competition and private property of Internet infrastructure or content.

They imagine a new virtual society based on the “economics of abundance,” i.e. no cost use of the Internet because the government owns or subsidizes the cost of broadband infrastructure, and common carrier regulates a zero-price for downstream traffic.

Since these activists politically oppose unregulated broadband competition, it is no surprise that they claim there is insufficient broadband competition to serve or protect consumer interests. Conveniently, they ignore that America enjoys the most facilities-based broadband competition in the world.

Tellingly, this utopian movement’s municipal broadband record to date has been one of mostly waste and failure.

At the federal level, these activists continue to pressure the FCC to force broadband to become a public utility by unilaterally “reclassifying” competitive broadband companies’ businesses from an unregulated Internet information service to a monopoly telephone service.

That would reverse a consistent forty-three years of FCC precedents to not apply monopoly telephone price regulations on the competitive computer data services market to promote innovation.

At the state level, these same activists oppose state legislation geared to prevent municipalities from undermining market-based broadband competition and investment with anti-competitive government entry into the broadband business.

Why is it anti-competitive for municipalities to oppose private broadband companies in their localities?

First, in the 1996 Telecom Act Congress made promoting communications competition the law of the land. To forward that goal the FCC ruled broadband was an interstate service under federal regulatory jurisdiction.

Nowhere in that law did Congress define or conceive a government to be a potential “competitor.”

Second, everyone knows the old adage, “You can’t fight city hall.” A private company certainly cannot compete with the regulator who controls their business’ livelihood – access to public rights of way underground, on poles, or on wireless towers.

Moreover a company can’t compete with their tax assessor, permit-grantor, police force, etc. – no more than a citizen can “compete” with the powers of a policeman, prosecutor, or judge.

Third, a private company cannot compete with a municipality that can compel taxpayers to subsidize the municipality’s overbuild broadband network even if they don’t vote for it, sign up for it, or if they want to use a private company service. That’s not competition – it’s a rigged game.

Fourth, who thinks government can deliver complex technology better than private companies?

Building and operating a broadband network is much more than digging trenches and laying fiber. It is a very complex and difficult systems integration and management endeavor to do competently, economically and responsibly.

Moreover, governments are well known to vastly underestimate the complexity and degree of difficulty in delivering successful systems integration.

Americans learned this lesson only too well last fall when the HealthCare.gov website managers failed to anticipate that one needs to not only test individual systems, but also how all the different subsystems work or don’t work together, under most all circumstances.

Provisioning and operating advanced technology networks is a job for professional technologists and experienced systems integrators who have successfully done it before – not municipalities, which have neither the core competency nor the experience to do it.

Sadly, this is why so many municipalities have run up large broadband infrastructure debts that can’t be repaid. It is why they have failed in creating economically sustainable and operationally proficient broadband networks.

Fifth, municipalities building opposing networks create a predatory and hostile market environment that unnecessarily and unfairly chills much needed private capital investment to best serve consumers.

Lastly, what about all the obvious privacy and surveillance conflicts? Who thinks it is a good idea for the mayor or the police to have access to local voters’ emails and web surfing histories?

In short, municipalities building broadband networks are not “competition,” they are effectively political opposition to the existence of private broadband networks.

In this light, municipal broadband networks are highly anti-competitive, heavy-handed government actions.

[First published at the Daily Caller.]

Categories: On the Blog

Presidents Day and Tevi Troy’s Book a Perfect Match

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 6:03 AM

The Heartland Institute last week hosted a luncheon lecture with author and presidential scholar Tevi Troy, who talked about his new book, What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House. [Watch the video of his presentation here, or in the player embedded below.]

Troy, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, is the rare presidential historian who has also served as a high-level White House aide. Confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2007 as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration, Troy is now recognized as an expert on health care policy. Having earned his doctorate in American Civilization at the University of Texas at Austin, Troy is also the author of Intellectuals and the American Presidency.

As an icebreaker, figuratively speaking now that Lake Michigan is mostly frozen over, Troy acknowledged being in Obama’s home town, and spoke about Obama’s Chicago connections — before digressing into Obama’s recent State of the Union address by noting how these annual addresses are continuing to receive less and less attention. While 67 million watched Clinton address the nation, Obama’s recent State of the Union address captured only 30 million listeners.

Further noted was how seldom memorable phases occur in a State of the Union address which linger on to elevate an address above the ordinary run-of-the-mill. Such was the situation with Obama’s recent State of the Union Address. But that didn’t stop Twitter from lighting up with nearly 2 million tweets expressing support of disdain for what they heard Obama say.

Initially as a way to market his book,  Troy considered calling it From Cicero to Snooki: How Culture Shapes Our Presidents. What made Troy believe Snooki and Cicero could exist in the same title? As Troy explained, he recognized Obama’s affinity for pop culture, observed during the time of the Congressional battle over Obama’s health-care bill. President Obama told a joke at the White House Correspondents Dinner that zeroed in on Snooki and Minority Speaker John Boehner, referencing the indoor tanning tax within Obamacare. Not long afterwards, however, Obama denied knowing who Snooki was when appearing on The View.

Perhaps fortunate for Troy is that his submitted title proposal wasn’t a hit with his publisher, who thought it made no sense to link the names of Cicero and Snooki together. The two names just didn’t overlap in any way. Snooki was but a “flash in the pan” pop media sensation (the reality TV show featuring Snooki wasn’t even around during the presidency of George W. Bush) whereas the collected works of Cicero are just as relevant today. Which led Troy to an unanswered question: “Is it better to have a president who knows about Snooki or one who doesn’t?”

Prompted by his publisher’s rejection, Tevi Troy settled on What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 year of Popular Culture in the White House as a way to tell the story of how our presidents have been shaped by popular culture. And what a delightful and entertaining story Tevi Troy had to tell as he regaled his attentive Heartland audience with fascinating tidbits of information that only stoked the fire to learn more about how presidents have affected the culture and culture has affected them as set forth in Troy’s book.

In Thomas Jefferson’s day, only two “pop culture” options were available: Reading books and attending live performances, and 18th century presidents availed themselves to both. Even though books were very expensive, Thomas Jefferson had a library of 6,000 books. John Adams’ library consisted of 3,000. Books shaped the American Revolution, which shaped our nation. It was the writings of John Locke, Troy said, which formed the basis for our Constitution. Not well known is that the early colonists were literate — likely to have a Bible and Shakespeare in their homes. Thus a concept of governing evolved that called for an enlightened leader to preside over an educated populace.

By the beginning of the 19th century every president had attended at least one live theater performance. Presidents even went on good-will tours to be seen. As theatrical performances could vary as to the actors of stage, and the way the audience reacted to the dialogue, political expression developed.

Such was the situation in the reelection bid of President John Quincy Adams in 1828 — when Andrew Jackson defeated first term incumbent Adams, having first lost to Adams in his bid for president in1824 in an election decided by the House of Representatives. The win of Adams over Jackson in 1824 was known as a “corrupt bargain,” angering Jackson supporters. So it was during a Washington, D.C. theatrical performance with John Quincy Adams present in the audience that ad lib dialogue by actors conveyed comments favorable to Andrew Jackson. This was enough to give Jackson more than the edge he needed to defeat Adams handily in 1828. The unschooled Jackson was seen as a “man of the people,” and it irked Adams that Jackson was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard, Adams’ own alma mater.

Abraham Lincoln was likewise good at conveying the common touch, according to Troy. Lincoln knew how to speak to the people in the language they understood. Lincoln also loved books and was obsessed with reading. In light of how expensive books were, and not being a wealthy man, Lincoln owned only a limited number of books — among them being the Bible, Shakespeare, and Aesop’s Fables, from which Lincoln learned how to tell tales that resonated with voters. Books elevated Lincoln from his humble beginnings and into a self-educated man, proof that America was a land where one could rise up from poverty to become successful and even become president. 

While the railroad was an important technical development in the 19th century, radio emerged as a seismic change in the 20th century. President Warren G. Harding was the first president to use the radio to get his message out, reaching the then amazing total of 125,000 Americans. President Calvin Coolidge was likewise skilled in the use of the radio, using this tool effectively as a savvy radio operator.

FDR was a skilled radio operator, even before being elected president 1932, Troy said. Roosevelt was the first president who shaped his speeches, not for the people in the room, but for the many listening at home. Although Roosevelt is now known for his “fireside chats,” FDR only gave them a few times a year because he didn’t want to over-expose himself to the American people.

Troy noted in his talk taht Roosevelt took his radio speeches very seriously — proven by the fact that he used special paper that didn’t crackle when turning pages, and FDR’s insertion of a false tooth in the front of his mouth to eliminate a whistling sound when he spoke. Roosevelt also crossed out all the “fancy words” his speech-writers gave him, Troy said, so he could better connect with the common folk. FDR was so fixated on appearing as “man of the people,” he served hot dogs to the Queen of England on her visit to the White House. Could it ever happen today that Roosevelt’s bout with polio, leaving him wheel chair bound during his presidency, was unknown to most Americans? The media stuck to publishing photos of Roosevelt minus any hint of a wheelchair.

FDR also exploited the Silver Screen’s ability to distribute political messages. Roosevelt made use of the film industry indirectly to protect him and also gathered celebrities round him for their support — who never depicted him in a wheelchair.

It was with the introduction of TV that presidential politics and the culture were redefined, Troy said. A novelty during the presidency of Harry Truman, it came to be a make-or-break medium in presidential politics.  By 1956 percent 73 percent of American homes were in areas capable of receiving TV programming.

President Eisenhower was the first president to host a televised press conference. What is still considered Ike’s most famous presidential speeches of all time is his televised farewell address in which he warned of the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”

Ike, the first presidential TV junkie, especially liked I Love Lucy. It just so happened that the birth episode of little Ricky happened during the time of Ike’s Inaugural speech in 1953. To Ike’s chagrin at the time, the I Love Lucy episode received more viewers than did his inaugural ceremony. TV did remain a problem for Ike during his campaign. It made Ike look old and gray and lacking the appearance of a war hero. Hollywood adviser Robert Montgomery was brought in to help perk up Ike’s image, Troy said.

TV certainly played a part in the September 1960 Nixon/Kennedy election, which featured the nation’s first televised debate. Ike, Troy noted, had warned Nixon not to debate Kennedy on TV, realizing Kennedy’s superior ability in projecting himself favorably — and all who watched the Nixon/Kennedy TV debate declared Kennedy the winner. While Kennedy came off as calm and confident, Nixon appeared sickly and sweaty. Radio listeners actually picked Nixon as the winner. Kennedy would never have won the presidency had TV not been so unkind to Nixon.

When elected, Kennedy skillfully used TV and excelled at doing unedited live news conferences. Note from the Troy presentation: Kennedy was warned by his advisors about being too close to Hollywood celebrities. We know now that Kennedy for the most part disregarded this advice.

Skipping ahead, we all now live in the era of generations raised in the 24-hour news cycle on TV — and worse, the era of Twitter and Facebook, of which Obama is a master. The one time Obama’s father came to visit young Obama in Hawaii, Troy said, he tried to get Obama’s grandparents to turn off the “contraption,” upset that his son was watching too much TV.
 
Obama still likes to watch TV — arguably too much — and favors shows watched by the “1 percent” of Americans, rather than the “99 percent.” Obama’s publicly expressed favorite shows, Troy said, are Homeland, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, and The Wire — all on premium pay-cable. Once, when told about a sleeper terrorist cell, Obama replied that it sounded like “Homeland,” Troy said.

In the 2012 match-up between Mitt Romney and President Obama, the incumbent president used pop culture to his advantage by appearing on soft media venues like “The View” and Leno — making Obama the first president to go on a late night TV show. Romney, in contrast, appeared dated. When asked about a favorite movie, Romney chose a 1986 movie, Bueller’s Day Off, which didn’t resonate with the younger crowd. Hanging out with celebrities also helped Obama look better and provided him with a platform to amplify his message, thereby contributing to his wins in 2008 and 2012.

Troy said, however, that there was a positive message for Republicans. He believes conservatives are in a better position today than they were thirty years ago to have their message heard, although liberals continue to have the advantage in pop culture, Hollywood, and messaging through film.

Discounting the Republican disadvantage with Hollywood and the mainstream media, conservatives do own the talk media. Troy noted that recently Duck Dynasty has become associated with conservative TV viewing.  Knowing how to engage in the cultural battle is essential to a winning strategy.

Troy’s book contains a wealth of material following its final and eleventh chapter. Featured is a comprehensive “notes” section — which, chapter by chapter, tells the location of the presented material. There is also a helpful index to easily locate the references made throughout the book. (I was most interested in the Appendix with its “Rules for Presidents Engaging in Pop Culture.” It would behoove Republican candidates to read up on these rules.

[UPDATE: On February 13th Troy wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled, “The Presidential Bible Class,” which features information presented in his book.]

 

Watch the video of his presentation below:

 

Categories: On the Blog

Want A Government Official To Change His Mind? Hire Him!

Somewhat Reasonable - February 17, 2014, 12:52 AM

As President Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar was charged with being one of the biggest defenders of the Obama agenda on energy and environmental issues – among them, running interference on the potential construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But now that he’s out of government, Salazar feels free to change his tune:

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an interview Thursday that his endorsement of construction of the Keystone oil sands pipeline comes after learning new information, including that the pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions.

Speaking at an energy conference in Texas earlier this week, Salazar said he supported the project. He said he believed construction could “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.”

This is the first time Salazar, now a lawyer in the private sector, has endorsed the pipeline, which would carry crude from tar sands in Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.”

Of course, this wasn’t Salazar’s tune less than two years ago, when he was releasing statements like this:

As Secretary of the Interior my job is to help protect America’s natural resources, our cultures and tribal communities, and supply energy for the long term. My concerns about the Keystone Pipeline are in line with the Obama Administration’s position on the issue. I feel that the President acted responsibly in rejecting the initial proposal on the grounds of environmental issues.

The rushed decision to give the President a 60 day 
period to review the Keystone pipeline, which goes through six states, 
hindered any probability of it being passed. If the reformed version of the proposal poses no threats to our nation’s resources and does not endanger communities along the pipeline, then I am in support of it’s approval. Until the guidelines for this project are significantly altered, the pipeline should not be constructed because of the potential risks it poses to the well being of US citizens. Of course the main concern is the possibility that the pipeline could rupture near the Ogallala aquifer, the main
source of drinking water in the Midwest.

We trust that the Administration and the EPA will exercise prudent judgement and will not approve a proposal that poses such threats. While the southernmost portion is being built, we will wait for an acceptable and detailed plan before constructing the rest of the pipeline. We strongly urge TransCanada to present a more pragmatic and nonpartisan approach that
 will serve the best interests of the American people.

Now, it may be that Salazar has had a legitimate change of heart on this matter, or that new evidence altered his perception of the matter… or it could be that his employer just changed. About that lawyer in private practice job the Denver Post mentioned: Salazar is now a partner at WilmerHale, charged with building business for the Washington, DC-based firm’s new Denver office. And what is he working on there?

WilmerHale’s energy and environmental practice is nationally known for advising companies in the technology, life sciences, energy and manufacturing sectors, and for shaping regulatory and policy developments on both a federal and state level. The firm’s strategic response practice handles multifaceted, high-profile challenges with legal, public policy and media dimensions.

Our investigations and litigation practices draw on the collective experience of our many lawyers who have served in senior government positions, handling matters across the nation and abroad. The firm’s Native American law practice has a long track record of handling high-stakes litigation and complex regulatory matters on a range of issues—including energy and natural resource development, land acquisition, water rights, and gaming matters of particular importance in the western United States.

In other words, Salazar was happy to be part of an administration that’s done everything it can to block energy development and particularly the Keystone pipeline… but now that he’s employed by those with different priorities, he is happy to flip flop.

I wonder whatever that “new information” could be that made Salazar change his mind. Was it “you’re hired”?

[First published at The Federalist.]

Categories: On the Blog

Do We Really Need Nuclear Fusion For Power, or Might its Quest Be Another Government Spending Boondoggle?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 16, 2014, 10:16 PM

[Editor's Note: Ed Ingold is the co-author of this post.]

According to a February 12 article in USA Today by Wendy Kock titled “Quest for pollution-free fusion energy takes major step”:

The decades-long quest to develop a pollution-free energy source via nuclear fusion — the power source of the sun and other stars — has taken what scientists say is a major step forward.

The article cites a study by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the government funded U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in which a lab experiment produced more energy out of fusion than was put into the fuel that sparked the reaction. What followed in the article was an admission that the lab results fell short of what is considered the “holygrail of fusion: ignition — the point at which more energy is produced than was used throughout the process.”

A day later, February 13, the quest to develop nuclear fusion was questioned by James Conca, a Forbes.com contributor, in his article, “Do We Really Need Nuclear Fusion for Power”:

Why build a fission reactor to make tritium via neutron capture on deuterium to make the fuel for a fusion reactor, when you could just use the fission reactor to make the energy ion the first place?

Ed Ingold remembers his father-in-law saying there is enough uranium above ground, much of it stored in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he worked, to power 1,000 reactors of 1,000 MW each. To put that in perspective, each of those reactors would have twice the output of all the windmills in the US.

So-called “fast” reactors refer to the harnessing of high energy (fast) neutrons to “burn” naturally occurring uranium 238. Unfortunately, the Fast Breeder Reactor Project at Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) was halted by the renowned “nucular [sic] engineer,” President Jimmy Carter, and the scientists involved were re-tasked to harnessing the limitless power of coal. The other “nuclear” problem, spent fuel disposal, can be credited to another famous Navy veteran, President Richard Nixon, who halted development of fuel reprocessing. We aren’t burying nuclear ashes. To the contrary, only about 5 percent of nuclear fuel is consumed before fission products accumulate, absorbing neutrons, until the fission reaction cannot be sustained.

Fusion reactors don’t burn “limitless” fuel, vis-à-vis hydrogen, like the sun. They burn relatively rare isotopes of hydrogen – deuterium and tritium. Deuterium constitutes only 0.016 percent of naturally occurring hydrogen, as found in water. The separation process consumes huge amounts of electricity and a vast supply of water. A 200 MW power station, dedicated to producing deuterium, would yield about twelve liters of “heavy water” (D2O) a year. Tritium does not occur naturally (12 year half-life), but is made in fission reactors. As the good professor points out in the linked article, you can make tritium on the fly by irradiating lithium with fast neutrons. Incidentally, that’s how it works in a hydrogen bomb, packed with (among other things) solid lithium deuteride. One downside is that 99 percent of the world’s lithium is found in the mountains of Peru and China, and most of what we import goes into batteries.

There also some questions about the “limitless” energy available from fusion reactions. The project hailed in the Forbes article uses a D+T reaction, which yields helium and a fast neutron. About 80 percent of the energy of this reaction is imparted to the neutron. The tritium (T) comes from neutron bombardment of lithium, which is endothermic (consumes energy).

The net result is 99 percent of the energy is in the form of fast neutrons. Since neutrons don’t interact well with materials, only about 30 percent of this energy can be converted into heat for turbines, and replacing the heat needed to sustain the fusion reaction. The by-products of the fusion reactions are not radioactive (other than tritium, which is difficult to contain), but the neutrons render everything they contact radioactive. In short, instead of burying spent fuel, you bury the reactor, once the materials of its construction are transmuted until they are not structurally sound.

It’s also puzzling why it’s claimed that this experiment produced more energy than it consumed. The brief (7 billionths of a second) reaction released about 9,400 joules of energy due to the fusion reaction, above that used to heat the reactants. To achieve this, approximately 1.8 trillion joules of energy was imparted by a bank of X-Ray lasers, which occupy a 10 story building with a footprint of over an acre. It’s like an inveterate gambler who brags about $500 of winnings, after laying down $5,000 on the ponies during the season — or Congress, where spending less than you wished is called savings.

There’s nothing wrong with the science, and it’s important to continue. For the foreseeable future, we should recognize that the most important gains are in the form of knowledge and technology, rather than a viable source of electricity. How few men stepped on the moon, but who doesn’t benefit from the technology which came out of the Apollo project? Who hasn’t worn or used something made of Teflon, used a computer, watched a program broadcast by satellites, or handled a cell phone? Someday there will be a Scottie who knows just what to do with a dilithium crystal or two.

Categories: On the Blog

On Fox: Debate Over Climate Change Heats Up

Somewhat Reasonable - February 16, 2014, 12:48 PM

On Valentine’s Day evening, “Special Report with Bret Baier” took President Obama’s desire for a $1 billion climate change “resililence fund” to discuss the science and politics of the issue.

Charles Krauthamer rightly calls the left’s adherence to climate change as the cause of all calamities a “religion.” And Steve Hayes counters the typical “97 percent” line put out by Juan Williams, and most climate alarmists. (What Steve lacked was something to cite showing why it’s bunk; Heartland’s James M. Taylor does so in his Forbes column.)

You’ll want to watch it below.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Categories: On the Blog

There is No Global Warming and Will Be None for Decades

Somewhat Reasonable - February 15, 2014, 7:59 AM

I recently received an unsigned email about my Sierra Club commentary in which I pointed out that it opposes traditional forms of energy and made a passing reference to Obama’s lie that “climate change,” the new name for global warming, was now  “settled science.”

Global warming was never based on real science. It was conjured up using dubious computer models and we were supposed to believe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could actually predict what the climate would be 20, 50, or 100 years from now.

The writer of the email disagreed with me:

lol you are a f**king idiot. you don’t believe there is global warming going on? you need to let your prejudices go and stop basing your views on what your political stance is. . . . do you research you f**king f**got.

Now, not everyone who believes in global warming is as rude as this individual and certainly not as ignorant, but his message suggests that those who do not believe in it do so as the result of “a political stance” when, in fact, our views are based on science.

Anyone familiar with my writings knows that a lot of research is involved. In my case, it dates back to the late 1980s when the global warming hoax began to be embraced by politicians like Al Gore who made millions selling worthless “carbon credits” while warning that “Earth has a fever.”

A small army of scientists lined their pockets with government grants to produce data that supported the utterly baseless charge that carbon dioxide was causing the Earth to warm. They castigated other scientists or people like myself as “deniers” while we proffered to call ourselves skeptics. They were joined by most of the media that ignored the real science. And the curricula in our schools were likewise corrupted with the hoax.

Then, about 17 years ago the Earth began to cool. It had nothing to do with carbon dioxide — which the Environmental Protection Agency deems a “pollutant” despite the fact that all life on Earth would die without it — and everything to do with the sun.

A few days after the email arrived, two-thirds of the contiguous U.S.A. was covered by snow. As this is being written, Lake Superior is 92 percent frozen, setting a new record. As of February 5, the entire Great Lakes system was, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, 77 percent covered with ice.

On February 1, NOAA and NASA held a joint press conference in which they released data about 2013’s global surface temperature. They made reference to a “pause” in the temperature that began in 1997. Dr. David Whitehouse, science editor for the BBC, noted:

When asked for an explanation for the ‘pause’ by reporters, Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA and Dr. Thomas Karl of NOAA spoke of contributions from volcanoes, pollution, a quiet Sun, and natural variability. In other words, they don’t know.

Both of these government agencies, along with others like the EPA and the Department of the Interior, are staffed by people who understand that their employers are deeply committed to the global warming hoax. One should assume that almost anything they have to say about the “pause” is based entirely on politics, not science.

Then, too, despite the many measuring stations from which data is extracted to determine the Earth’s climate, there is a paucity of such stations in cold places like Siberia. Stations here in the U.S. are often placed in “heat islands” otherwise known as cities. If you put enough of them close to sources of heat, you get thermometer readings that produce, well, heat.

People in the U.S., England, Europe and other areas of the world who do not possess Ph.Ds in meteorology, climatology, geology, astronomy, and chemistry have begun to suspect that everything they have been told about global warming is false. Between 1300 and 1850 the northern hemisphere went through a mini-ice age. After that it began to warm up again. So, yes, there was global warming, but it was a natural cycle, not something caused by human beings. Nature doesn’t care what we do. It is far more powerful than most of us can comprehend.

This brings us back to the sun. which determines, depending on where you are on planet Earth, how warm or cold you feel. The sun, too, goes through cycles, generally about eleven years long. When it is generating a lot of heat, its surface is filled with sunspots, magnetic storms.

When there are few sunspots, solar radiation diminishes and we get cold. Scientists who study the sun believe it may encounter another “Maunder minimum,” named after astronomer Edward Maunder, in which the last “Little Ice Age,” between 1645 and 1715, occurred. The Thames in England froze over as did the canals of Holland froze solid.

There is no global warming and scientists like Henrik Svensmark, the director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute, believes that “world temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more.”

I agree.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

‘Alex’ Tokeville Has Some Choice Words For President Obama

Somewhat Reasonable - February 14, 2014, 4:28 PM

In his remarks at the White House the other day during the state visit of French President François Hollande, President Obama curiously referenced “Alex” De Tocqueville. Here’s the video (click the speaker in the upper left-hand corner of the video for sound):

It’s an interesting choice, given how much Tocqueville has to tell us about the world – and the Obamacare economy – we inhabit today. His critique of socialism during the Second Republic, in context, transitions beautifully to the modern day debate over Keynesian projects and the entitlement state. As the introduction notes, “The new republic believed that the unemployment problem which was plaguing Paris could be solved by setting up government work-projects, guaranteeing employment at a certain wage rate for all who desired it”. Tocqueville even makes reference to why the American democracy he wrote about would never consider socialism. He even argued against a false understanding of inequality which led to socialist calls for more redistribution:

“Democracy extends the sphere of personal independence; socialism confines it. Democracy values each man at his highest; socialism makes of each man an agent, an instrument, a number. Democracy and socialism have but one thing in common—equality. But note well the difference. Democracy aims at equality in liberty. Socialism desires equality in constraint and in servitude.”

This passage is apt as well, on the danger of a government which provides too much, and in the name of the best interests of a people, seizes away our liberty. But this passage of his represents perhaps the best response you’ll ever read to Obama’s approach to governance:

What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish? There are some nations in Europe whose inhabitants think of themselves in a sense as colonists, indifferent to the fate of the place they live in. The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved. They are so divorced from their own interests that even when their own security and that of their children is finally compromised, they do not seek to avert the danger themselves but cross their arms and wait for the nation as a whole to come to their aid. Yet as utterly as they sacrifice their own free will, they are no fonder of obedience than anyone else. They submit, it is true, to the whims of a clerk, but no sooner is force removed than they are glad to defy the law with the spirit of a defeated enemy. Thus one finds them ever wavering between servitude and license. When a nation has reached this point, it must either change its laws and mores or perish, for the well of public virtue has run dry: in such a place one no longer finds citizens but only subjects.

That’s from Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Part 1, Chapter 5, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.

Of course, Tocqueville’s views were not without controversy at the time. They still are in some corners.

Given @bdomenech‘s tweeting over the last 10 minutes, he seems to think we live under a 19th century monarchy.

— Jeff Spross (@jeffspross) February 11, 2014

 

@jeffspross No, we’ve got the phone to go with the pen now.

— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) February 11, 2014

 [First posted at The Federalist.]

Categories: On the Blog
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