Quoting from another movie review:
”… there’s a lot to be angry about. And though Rosebraugh shines a light on plenty of jaw-dropping corruption, it plays out like a shrill rallying cry without catharsis for the already initiated.”
The reviewer is basically talking about enviro-activists — and likely herself — already initiated to the certainty of global warming induced by human activity, and the notion that the only opponents to it are people who deny or lie about reality in the pursuit of their own corrupt personal gain.
But, her concluding remarks about catharsis were specifically about filmmaker Craig Scott Rosebraugh’s failure to extract any enlightening statement out of an undercover effort to confront Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, and generally about Rosebraugh’s failure to say anything really satisfying about the issue in general.
However, that is only one of the film’s major problems. Its other problem is far more serious: To be truly effective in reaching the otherwise disinterested public and prompting action from them, nobody must question the assertions and insinuations within the film. Start asking questions about the following points, and the movie’s effectiveness begins to crumble.
- The first few seconds show an epic dust storm engulfing the Phoenix metro area in Arizona. But how does it follow that these occurrences happening every summer are the result of global warming-caused drought when they result from thunderstorm downdrafts?
- A dryland farmer laments the death of his lawn as he shows full force water from an open garden hose going down a crack in the grass. But how does it follow that global warming is causing the dry earth to crack, when we see a huge field of dark, green, healthy, very tall corn in the background topped with irrigation machinery? And who in their right mind waters a big lawn with a single open hose rather then with a sprinkler system?
- PR man James Hoggan claims sheer repetition of fossil fuel industry-funded talking points is winning the hearts and minds of the public. But how many times does some variant of the word “deny” occur from this point onward in the film? And regarding his point that skeptics are given free rein in the media, what would his explanation be regarding the utter lack of such skeptics appearing on news outlets like the PBS NewsHour giving their unrestrained viewpoints for the last 17+ years?
- When we are presented with what appears to be a damaging scene where Rep. Jay Inslee humiliates Lord Christopher Monckton over not being an actual Lord, what are viewers to think when they discover that the video ends before Monckton explains to Inslee how he inherited the title from his father?
- In the case of skeptic scientist Fred Singer, we are told that, among other things, he denied the connection of cigarette smoking to cancer. But what happens if we are unable to find any actual transcript or video where he made that assertion?
- The movie claims scientists involved in the ClimateGate scandal were absolved of any wrongdoing in no less than six investigations. But what happens if we viewers are able to find mind-blowing levels of detail about how the investigations were instead poorly handled whitewashes? And regarding Michael Mann’s complaints that reports about his statements were taken out-of-context, what happens when readers read his emails in their full context? And why wasn’t he given just a few minutes to illustrate how his sentences take on a proper meaning in their full context?
I could go on, and likely other people on the skeptic side will offer their insight about the movie. The basic point being that a movie which intends to definitively put the nails in the coffin of those standing in the way of solving man-caused global warming are obligated to do it convincingly — as in demonstrating it has actual proof at its disposal of skeptic climate scientists receiving direct payments from industry executives with corresponding instructions to lie about the issue, while not leaving any doors open for viewers to doubt what is being presented.
When such a movie makes elemental errors which invite viewers to go looking for more, rather than take action on what it advocates, it has lost the ball in epic fashion.
Russell Cook’s collection of writings on this issue can be seen at “The ’96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists.” You may also follow him at Twitter via @questionAGW at his corresponding Facebook page.
“Sequester,” a word foreign to most of us, “is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.” In short, it is what happens when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenue.
Washington only talks about two choices when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenues: raising taxes and cutting spending. Taxes were raised as a part of the fiscal cliff deal. Sequester fills out the other half of the equation by cutting spending.
But there is an overlooked option: creating new wealth—which is different from printing new money.
Creating new wealth involves producing something of value which didn’t exist before, but that someone will pay for, bringing new money into the system. Our personal budget generally works this way: we have a job that we get paid for. We use that money to pay bills and buy stuff. That same money cycles through the system and ultimately comes back to us in the form of a paycheck. And the cycle continues. But if, one day, you were digging in your backyard and you found a pot of gold—that puts new wealth into your personal system. You can sell the gold, creating new wealth for yourself.
As a country, our bills and the stuff we buy—the cost of running the government— has exceeded the revenue for some time. The same is true for many states, counties, and cities—often resulting in bankruptcy. Not every city, county, or state has a pot of gold, but in the form of natural resources—many do. Some choose to dig up the pot of gold, creating wealth resulting in a healthy community and government. Some choose not to and instead are back to the same two choices: raising taxes and cutting spending.
On January 10, I was at a county commission hearing in New Mexico’s San Miguel County. This poor, rural county in northeastern New Mexico has geology that leads the experts to believe that there might be oil or natural gas under their feet. Several surrounding counties do have known resources and people who own the land and production companies are eager to explore to see if there is, in fact, a “pot of gold.” As is to be expected these days, there is plenty of opposition, scaring folks with talk of supposed water contamination and other calamities.
The hearing opened with a Skype presentation from the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. He clearly stated that the group’s goal were to stop or block production or to create so many regulations that exploration and development was cost-prohibitive. Next a parade of naysayers, with a sprinkling of supporters, addressed the county commissioners.
The commissioners asked questions throughout the day-long process. However, they really perked up at the testimony of two county officials from the oil-producing corner of the state: Greg Niebert—County Commissioner for Chaves County; and Mike Gallagher—County Manager for Lea County. Both talked about the decades, during which fracking has been used in their counties, with only positive impacts: their schools are fully funded, unemployment is virtually nonexistent (one proclaimed that anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job), and their economies are thriving. I could almost see the dollar signs rolling through the eyes of San Miguel County Commissioners like a slot machine spinning.
Niebert produced some papers containing a resolution that the Chaves County Commission had just passed that morning. The gist of the document said that the oil and gas counties of the state were tired of supporting all the other counties—especially those that had resources, but elected not to use them. In New Mexico, revenues generated from resources extracted from state lands fill the Land Grant Permanent Fund—which is the largest contributor to the state’s schools and hospitals. Overall, the industry is responsible for nearly half of the state’s budget—which generally has a surplus. The resolution proposed that the schools and hospitals in the counties with resources that chose not to extract them should not get the benefit of the counties that do.
That is New Mexico’s story. But the theme runs through other states that are creating new wealth: Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania—with a welcome increase in jobs and tax revenues. Each has very low unemployment and a thriving economy. Contrast those states to two of the states hardest hit in this time of economic demise: California and Nevada. Like New Mexico’s San Miguel Country, both have natural resources, but unlike the poor, rural county, the states’ resources are known. While San Miguel is considering a drilling ban, the troubled states have an effective ban and a big part of their pot of gold is on federally owned land. Policies and regulations could prevent the states from accessing their individual pots of gold (Nevada has the Chainman Shale and California the Monterey Shale), which would create new wealth for local communities as well as state and federal governments. David Pratt, president of Santa Maria Energy, says: “the Monterey is California’s way out of the ‘fiscal toilet.’”
California’s Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff, agrees. He told me: “California sits on two-thirds of America’s shale oil reserves, which is an economic gold mine just waiting to be safely extracted. Tapping into this reserve could cause an oil boom that would dwarf North Dakota’s oil riches that have given the state a $3.2 billion budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.2%.”
“I am committed to new job and business creation for all Californians. We should not ignore recent technological innovations that have released a bounty of wealth in other oil-producing states and put people back to work. It makes absolutely no sense to create these new jobs and wealth in countries who are not friendly to the United States, when we can put our own citizens to work and gain energy independence at the same time.”
“But alas,” Matt Insley, a specialist on commodities and natural resources, says, “this is California. The political and environmental red tape in the state have brought energy development to a virtual halt.”
The New York Times reports: “The oil companies’ plans for the Monterey Shale are already drawing increasing scrutiny from environmental groups.” Despite the fact that “oil companies have engaged in fracking in California for decades,” Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), calls it “one of the most, if not the most, important environmental issue in California.”
Meanwhile, people are leaving the state, houses are being foreclosed, and unemployment levels are the highest in the country.
Though less-widely reported, Nevada faces a similar opportunityand opposition.
Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. has leases for 350,000 acres in Elko County. They plan to spend $130 million over four years to ramp up operations. However, the Las Vegas Review Journalcites the federally owned land as “the greatest limitation Nevada faces in getting its resources to market. … Much of Noble’s plan requires Washington’s blessing. Midwestern states, which are composed almost entirely of private land, have no such problem, hence their prosperity.”
As we’ve seen with the Keystone pipeline, it is expected that the greens will “put on a full-court press to block the project.” Rob Mrowka, who heads the Nevada CBDoffice, says: “Fracking is not a good thing. We don’t feel there is a safe way to do it.”
California and Nevada—along with New York—have known resources, yet they depend on other localesfor much of their energy. What if the states that sell their resources to California, decided to follow Chaves County’s lead and told California they are on their own? California is using the resources, but sending their money out of state—which helps the other states and hurts California.
Gabe Garcia, an assistant field officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Bakersfield, CA, reports: “the government receives 12.5 percent of revenues from the oil retrieved. … Last year we brought in $190 million.” Half of that goes to the state of California; the other half goes to the federal government. And the $190 million figure is before the Monterey Shale takes off.
Insley believes “A change in tone from the political side” could fuel a turnaround. It is the politics that is holding back a boom in new wealth creation and as California Senator Huff said: “It makes absolutely no sense.”
Sequester didn’t have to happen. Allowing, even encouraging, development of our natural resources would bring welcome new tax revenues that might even exceed the cost of running the government.
[First published at Townhall.]
Lately, though, it has become the subject of ridicule for its officious and intermeddling government under the stewardship of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants to ban everything potentially dangerous to his taxpayer base, from handguns to Big Gulps or any other soft drink larger than sixteen ounces, while bankrolling special congressional primary elections in other states.
In a self-governing republic, one would expect most citizens to be able to decide for themselves how thirsty they are and what they like to drink – especially when they pay for it themselves – if not what kind of self-defense protection best suits them in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights or who their representative in Congress should be, especially if they live out of state.
But sometimes the Nanny State gets its comeuppance, and New York City just got one in the process of raising its subway fares. It seems that in its haste to get out new subway maps to accompany an increase in fare hikes, the New York Transit system sent out 80,000 maps with the old fares listed. Now, according to msn.com, it will spend an additional $250,000 of taxpayer money to redistribute new maps.
Perhaps with all his extra money Mayor Bloomberg could write a check for the difference.
New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are continuing to rise but global temperatures are not following suit. The new data undercut assertions that atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing a global warming crisis.
NOAA data show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 2.67 parts per million in 2012, to 395 ppm. The jump was the second highest since 1959, when scientists began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Global temperatures are essentially the same today as they were in 1995, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were merely 360 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 10 percent between 1995 and 2012, yet global temperatures did not rise at all. Global warming activists are having a difficult time explaining the ongoing disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that global temperatures have disobeyed the models presented by global warming activists. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, global temperatures endured a 30-year decline even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose nearly 10 percent. From 1900 through 1945, by contrast, global temperatures rose rapidly despite a lack of coal power plants, SUV’s, and substantial carbon dioxide emissions.
Remarkably, global warming activists are spinning the ongoing rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, along with the ongoing lack of global temperature rise, as evidence that we are facing an even worse global warming crisis than they have been predicting.
“The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped,” the Associated Press reported yesterday.
Actually, the fact that temperatures remain flat even as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise is a devastating rebuke to assertions that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing a global warming crisis.
On a related front, the NOAA data amplify the futility of imposing costly carbon dioxide restrictions on the U.S. economy in the name of fighting global warming. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined 10 percent during the past decade, yet global emissions rose by more than 30 percent.
Regardless of the future pace of ongoing reductions in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, global carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise. Even if the United States committed economic suicide by imposing all or most of the carbon dioxide restrictions advocated by global warming activists, the ensuing U.S. carbon dioxide reductions would amount to merely a drop in the bucket compared to the flood of emissions increases by the world as a whole and by developing nations such as China and India in particular.
Fortunately, as the new NOAA data show, and as global warming ‘skeptics’ have observed all along, rising carbon dioxide emissions are having only a modest impact on global temperatures and are not creating a global warming crisis.
[First posted at Forbes.]
Almost a week since the dreaded sequester went into effect, and look out your window. To quote President Obama the day after Obamacare was passed, the sun is still shining, the birds are still chirping, and the earth is still spinning on its axis.
Of course, Obamacare still does not go into effect for another year now. But the sequester has already been in effect for five days. Unlike the sequester, when Obamacare goes into effect, it will kill people.
Everybody knows by now that President Obama was telling a lot of tall tales to stop the sequester from cutting even 1% of federal spending, not from current levels of spending, but from the increase in spending this year. That should make clear Democrat policy is to oppose any cut in federal spending.
But the sequester debate also clarified President Obama’s economic policy. If you listened carefully to what Obama was saying, you would see that Democrat economic policy holds that it is government spending that drives economic growth and prosperity. If that should sound nuts to you, that’s because it is. I don’t want to appear to make the notion sound respectable. But that is the reality that we have to deal with.
And we are not talking here about government infrastructure spending, national defense, or even education spending, all of which can have positive economic growth effects, when done right and effectively, education spending longer term, infrastructure and national defense more immediately. We are talking here about general government spending on everything, which is what the sequester was about.
What Obama and the Democrats were saying repeatedly during the sequester debate is that the government spending cuts would hurt the economy, but increasing taxes would not!
That is right, they said repeatedly the sequester spending cuts would hurt the economy today, but that could be avoided if we would follow their recommendations and increase taxes instead. In fact, the alternative Democrat sequester bill that barely failed in the Senate would have increased capital gains and dividends tax rates again, on top of the January increases from Obamacare and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. America would then suffer with the fourth highest capital gains tax rate in the world, to go with Obama’s highest corporate tax rate in the world (except for the socialist one party state of Cameroon).
Yes, America is rapidly becoming the world’s leading socialist state. Everyone else, including former communist/socialist powers such as China, Russia, and India, are turning to the Reaganomics we here in America have so stupidly abandoned. If you want to move to Argentina, stay put. Argentina is coming to you. If you want a booming capitalist country following the policies of Reaganomics, move to formerly socialist Canada.
The Democrat-proposed further tax increases are not even good Keynesian economics. Even Keynesian economics says raising taxes hurts economic growth. Their explanation of that is all wrong, focusing on the reduction in so-called “aggregate demand,” rather than incentives. But at least the Keynesians got the policy right.
It is true that Keynesian economics supports the idea that increased government spending, deficits and debt is what sparks recovery and renewed economic growth. That is core Democrat policy, and what you are voting for every time you vote Democrat. But there is no more discredited idea in economic history (except for outright Marxism), both intellectually and in practice.
Keynesian support for increased government spending to boost the economy fails to consider that government has to get the money to spend from somewhere, either increased taxes, increased borrowing, or inflation. And all of that takes an equal amount out of the economy, leaving no net increase in demand. In fact, when the negative economic effects of the increased taxes, borrowing, or inflation are considered, the net result is a contractionary drag on the economy. That is why Keynesian economics has never worked. Obama’s nearly $1 trillion so-called “stimulus” in 2009 just proved that yet again.
Indeed, the entire Keynesian focus on “demand” is misconceived, because demand is insatiable, and can never be inadequate in a market economy. If demand for any good or service is insufficient for the supply, in a market economy the price of the good or service will just decline, until demand equals supply. Keynesian economics survives only because it supports what Democrats want to do, which is increase government spending, deficits, and debt. See, e.g., Paul Krugman.
The obscured truth that our very dumbed down country right now can’t get is that economic growth is the ultimate determinant of revenues, and deficits. Follow pro-growth policies, and you get booming revenues and disappearing deficits. But that is so yesterday for America, which thinks now with rapidly declining Europe that pro-growth policies are “unfair.” (What is fair about plummeting middle class incomes, soaring poverty, and persistent high unemployment?) This in the formerly richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Good job, Progressives, you have your fundamental transformation of America (into Argentina).
The Coming Crash of 2013
I have long been on record as predicting renewed, double dip recession for 2013, just as happened during the depression. The full story on that can be found in my short book published in 2011 by Encounter Books, Obama and the Crash of 2013, and my long 2011 book published by HarperCollins, America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb.
That is because all of Obama’s policies are so anti-growth — increasing tax rates, especially on capital investment that is the foundation for jobs and rising wages, increasing regulation, easy money with a weak dollar, and increased government spending, deficits and debt.
But here is the first coming sequester lie. When the economy turns down this year, Obama and his socialist Democrats will all blame it on the sequester spending cuts. Cut just the increase in government spending by just 1%, and that is supposed to be the roots of another recession. The great debate will be what caused the downturn, the spending “cuts” or the tax increases, (plus regulation, plus the cheap dollar, plus the exploding escalation of debt). That is if our party-controlled, new socialist media (stop calling them the mainstream media, nothing remotely mainstream about them) even allows the debate on the air.
Republicans Gaining Some Control Over Spending
But one emerging truth out of the sequester battle is that the Republicans are gaining some control over spending. The sequester spending cuts over 10 years total $1.2 trillion, out of a 10-year budget of $47 trillion, or 2.5%. But the next battle over spending presents opportunity for still more spending restraint.
That is not the debt ceiling, which leaves the Republicans with little leverage, because Obama has already convinced the country that failing to increase the debt limit means defaulting on the national debt. Even Fox News reports on it that way, as if you can’t continue payments on what you owe on your credit card unless you get an increase in your credit limit. You see what I mean when I say our country is so dumbed down right now?
The opportunity is the continuing resolution (the CR in Washington parlance) to authorize government spending for the rest of this year. The current continuing resolution providing such authorization runs out at the end of this month.
The opportunity is for the Republicans to pass a new continuing resolution that provides for continuing discretionary government spending, or at least domestic discretionary spending, at the exact same levels as last year, minus the already enacted sequester spending cuts. The Republicans and the conservatives then need to drive home to the public two simple points.
One is that the continuing resolution involves no new spending cuts. It just continues government spending at the same levels as last year. This can successfully counter the Democrat media theme that crazed radical Republicans want to tear the federal government to pieces, destroying the economy and the safety net for the poor, sick, weak, and vulnerable in the process. But such an effective spending freeze even on just discretionary domestic spending will add up to serious savings over time.
The second point then is that the Republican House has already acted in passing the continuing resolution to keep the government open and operating. If the Democrats don’t agree with the continuing resolution that the Republicans have passed, their job is to pass their own continuing resolution through the Senate. Then any differences and compromises can be worked out in the House Senate Conference. The Republicans can and should talk to President Obama if he wants, but that must not prevent them for acting and explaining the process to the American people.
The Republicans have to be focused in driving this point home, because the Democrat-party controlled media at NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. will definitely not keep the public informed as to what is happening in Washington with their federal government. I have read two Washington Postcolumns this past week by closet Marxist revolutionaries E.J. Dionne and Dana Milbank who misinformed readers that the Republicans failed to act to do anything to pass an alternative to the sequester, when the truth is the Republican House passed two alternative sequester bills that rationalized the spending cuts, and the Democrats failed to take any action. If you or anyone you know is subscribing to the Washington Post, that is part of the problem causing the decline and fall of America. Ditto that for the openly Marxist New York Times. (I read the columns in Investor’s Business Daily).
Moreover, this current dumbed down American public cannot be counted on to know the process for passing legislation in Washington. The American public today does not recall their high school civics teaching that the process for passing federal legislation is the House and Senate pass their bills, then they go to Conference Committee for compromise, and then the President either signs of vetoes the legislation.
This process will force the Democrats to take a stand in the light of day that they want to increase spending, deficits, and debt still more, even while the country is careening towards bankruptcy. The whole point of the Democrat Senate failure to pass any budget in the past four years is to hide this from the American people. Forcing the Democrats to act in public where they can be held accountable will frame the issue for the public correctly.
The Republicans and the conservatives need to drive this second point home also so that the public can understand who to hold accountable for any government shutdown. The President has the bully pulpit, and the party-controlled media, so artfully informing the public of the truth is critical.
House Republicans can help their case for controlling government spending immensely if they will hold aggressive oversight hearings on government waste, fraud, and abuse. When the Democrats wanted to slash defense spending, they held hearings about the Defense Department buying $100 hammers and $500 toilet seats.
OMB and GAO have already documented failed government programs not accomplishing their stated laudatory goals, and at least $125 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse. Holding hearings to communicate and dramatize that would put Democrat socialists on the defensive. Sure the Democrat party-controlled media will not cover it. But the alternative conservative media will, embarrassing the party hack media in the process.
But here is the second coming sequester lie. If the Republicans are successful in these spending restraint strategies, you know of course Obama will take the credit. After the 25% increase in government spending in year one of Obama’s term, the spending increases Obama can get through from that base with the Republican-controlled House may appear negligible, especially in percentage terms. The Democrat party-controlled media will then sing Obama’s praises as the most restrained government spender since Eisenhower.
[First published at the American Spectator.]
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday presented his proposed budget for the next fiscal year and pronounced it “the most difficult budget Illinois has ever faced.” He added, “There are significant reductions in this budget that I do not want to make, and that none of you will want to make, either.”
Everything should be this difficult.
From the numbers I’m looking at, Gov. Quinn is proposing a budget that totals $1.9 billion more spending than the budget he signed last June. Bloomberg News reports spending would rise 5.6 percent. Inflation over the last 10 years has never come close to 5.6 percent. It’s currently 1.6 percent and averaged 1.7 percent in 2012, 3.0 percent in 2011, 1.5 percent in 2010, 2.7 percent in 2009 . . . well, you get the picture.
This in a state with the nation’s worst credit rating, worst pension shortfall, and worst backlog of unpaid bills.
Real personal incomes have declined, Illinois cannot pay its routine bills on time, yet Illinois’ governor finds a way to try to raise spending at a clip more than three times faster than the government’s official inflation estimates the past two years. And he speaks of spending cuts and “the most difficult budget Illinois has ever faced.”
Meanwhile, the state’s teachers union is blasting the budget proposal and complaining about the many years the state has skipped payments into their pension system to spend that money on other things. Well, their pensions are swallowing almost all the additional revenue the state takes in.
And this same union slavishly backs Michael Madigan, who entered the legislature while in his 20s and is now in his 70s, and who has been House Speaker 30 years. No one is more directly responsible for the pension disaster and fiscal crisis the teachers decry than Madigan, yet he is politically untouchable, largely because of the support of teachers and other government-dependent groups. If teachers and others want things to change in Illinois state government, they have to stop sending their money and political support to Madigan and the political puppets who dance every time he pulls their strings. I won’t hold my breath.
Quinn’s total budget is about $62.4 billion. His general budget is $35.6 billion. The difference is federal money for various programs. So $26.8 billion of the spending by Illinois state government would be paid for by people around the country.
The Illinois Policy Institute last year reported, from 2000 to 2010, state per-capita spending grew 71 percent, more than twice Illinois’ growth in economic output. Since 1990, state spending per person has grown nearly three times faster than it would have if spending had been held to inflation plus population growth.
And Illinois’ governor proposes another 5.6 percent increase in total spending, with much of it paid for by people in other states.
This cannot continue. I wonder if Illinois’ governor, lawmakers, teachers and others who back ever-greater spending will ever acknowledge this.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) publishes almost daily newsletters containing information on climate science and energy policy, The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) publishes weekly newsletters on climate science and energy policy, and the Nongovernmental International Policy on Climate Change (NIPCC) by The Heartland Institute publishes weekly newsletters on latest peer-reviewed publications on climate science.
These are only three of hundreds, and maybe thousands worldwide, of Internet and published newsletters dealing with climate science and energy policies that show fallacies of the hypothesis carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes catastrophic global warming and energy policies trying to reduce fossil fuel use. Free subscriptions are available from all sources by simply checking a box “subscribe” on their home pages. [Get the weekly NIPCC report here.]
The February 21, 2013 GWPF featured an article titled, “The phase relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures,” Global and Planetary Change, Vol 100, January 2013, pp 51-69. The Norwegian authors are Ole Humlum, Kjell Stordahl, and Jan-Erik Solheim.
This is an important piece of research that should have been reported years ago. However, due to research funding in the United States and other parts of the world only being distributed to support the hypothesis carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes global warming, this type of research would be deemed irrelevant.
The paper studied global temperatures and carbon dioxide changes from January 1980 to December 2011. Temperature data is from several sources for sea surface temperatures and global air surface temperatures.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide changes increase due to burning fossil fuels with a superimposed sine wave variation over a year’s time. The acknowledged world measuring point is at Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1959.
At Mauna Loa there is a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the Northern spring and summer due to plant’s taking up carbon dioxide due to photosynthesis and an increase in the Northern fall and winter due to plant growth slowing and dying plant material decaying. About ninety percent of the earth’s land area is in the Northern Hemisphere; so the growing activity takes place mostly in that region.
Figure 3 of the Norwegian researchers paper is shown below.
“Fig. 3. 12-month change of global atmospheric CO2 concentration (NOAA; green), global sea surface temperature (HadSST2; blue) and global surface air temperature (GISS; red dotted). All graphs are showing monthly values of DIFF12, the difference between the average of the last 12 months and the average for the previous 12 months for each data series.”
Temperature data shows temperature increases are taking place during carbon dioxide declines. The delay in carbon dioxide changes following temperature changes is about 11-12 months for global sea surface temperatures and 9.5-10 months for global surface air temperatures.
Ice core data from thousands of years ago indicated carbon dioxide increases followed temperature increases by about 800 years. The following figure shows Vostok ice core data from Antarctica.
This is a good reason to believe carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels does not influence global temperatures. The phase lag in modern temperature and carbon dioxide measurements is an additional argument increasing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is a minor player in global warming.
The March 2, 2013 issue of SEPP mentioned a recent article ”Synchronous Change of Atmospheric CO-2 and Antarctic Temperatures During the Last Deglacial Warming” in Science, Vol. 339, No. 6123, pp. 1060-63, March 1, 2013. This article contests the 800 plus year following of carbon dioxide changes from temperature changes shown by the preceding graph. The paper covers the last 20,000 years and mentions differences in temperature-carbon dioxide changes were less than 200 years and may not have existed at all. Since the temperature-carbon dioxide measurements don’t cover the same time period, the challenge of past time lags needs further verification.
To add more confusion to the role of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, a paper by Ed Caryl “Most Of The Rise In CO-2 Likelly Comes From Natural Sources.” This paper examines monthly changes in global and sea surface temperatures and carbon dioxide changes. The good correlation of carbon dioxide and sea surface temperature changes makes the author think carbon dioxide increases are due to natural events. The solubility of carbon dioxide in water decreases with water temperature increases, so atmospheric carbon dioxide increases with sea water temperature increases.
Like The Onion®, “The Nation’s Finest New Source™,” The New York Times editorial page sometimes slides into self-parody but, Paul Krugman aside, its op-ed page is often worth reading. Such was the case on Wednesday, March 06, 2013, when The Times featured two thoughtful and informative pieces on the role and future of education in North America.
The first, “The Country That Stopped Reading,” by Mexican novelist David Toscana (“The Last Reader”) and translated from the original Spanish by Kristina Cordero, describes how the Mexican state school system has managed over the past few decades to produce more functionally illiterate citizens than ever while ostensibly enrolling more students.
The second, Thomas Friedman’s “The Professors’ Big Stage,” describes the increasingly outmoded “higher education” system of the nation north of Mexico’s border, namely the United States. Taken together, the two pieces reveal much about what is wrong with current educational systems and offer suggestions for improvement that will require seismic shifts in pedagogical thinking.
Toscana’s piece posits that Mexico, once a reasonably well-educated country and despite recent gains in industrial development and increasing numbers of engineering graduates, is today “floundering socially, politically and economically because so many of its citizens do not read.” Not that they can’t read, but that they simply don’t.
Part of the problem, Toscana observes, is that “education reform” in Mexico has focused on teachers instead of students. As he notes, “the job of the education secretary has not been to educate Mexicans but to deal with the teachers and their labor issues” and “[n]obody in Mexico organizes as many strikes as the teachers’ union.” The result, he says, is that “students can advance from one level to the next as long as they attend class and surrender to their teachers” but that Mexican schools have accordingly turned into factories that churn out “chauffeurs, waiters and dishwashers” rather than educated citizens suitable for self-government.
The same could be said in the United States, particularly in large cities like Chicago and San Antonio. Here in Chicago, for example, the consistent theme of all-too-common teachers’ strikes and labor negotiations is preserving lucrative pension and benefit plans, maintaining the “due process” that helps keep unqualified teachers on the public payroll for years, and keeping superfluous schools open in order to preserve un-needed teaching and administrative jobs.
“Education reform” in Chicago, in other words, appears to have precious little to do with actually helping students prepare for either the job market or the responsibilities of citizenship, and changing the name of every public high school in the city to “Career Academy” or “College Prep” won’t make a difference. Meanwhile, in places like San Antonio, elementary school teachers spend such inordinate amounts of time just feeding breakfast and lunch to their charges that they have little time for actual teaching and tend to burn out quickly.
At the other end of the spectrum is “higher education,” which is where Tom Freidman’s column comes into play. Along with “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” one of former President Bill Clinton’s more memorable lines was that he wanted to make the 13th grade as common as the twelfth grade. And indeed, here in the U. S. we have: virtually everyone in America thinks he or she (or his or her children) should go to college and virtually anyone who wants to go to college gets in somewhere. Yet nearly half of college enrollees eventually drop out and many of the 56 percent who do actually graduate within six years are unprepared for the real world of business and self-government.
Having become truly “the 13th grade” of elementary/secondary school, the first year at many colleges is often reduced to remedial courses, while over the next four or five years students may officially major in such amorphous fields as “gender studies” while actually majoring in beer pong. Meanwhile the cost of college tuition, directly and indirectly subsidized by taxpayers, keeps rising out of proportion to the cost of almost everything else except government and health care – with both of which it has much in common.
Yet some hope remains. As Friedman notes, fresh on the heels of attending “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education,” a conference co-sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T., the traditional college experience is becoming increasingly irrelevant in an inter-connected world.
When the Harvard Business School, to use an example Friedman cites, no longer offers an introductory accounting course because the online version at Brigham Young University is “just so good,” it’s no longer necessary to go to Harvard to get an education – or even to Brigham Young. Just sign up for no charge for one of the thousands of online courses now available through MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses – and offered by institutions from Cal Tech to Vanderbilt, with Princeton, Rice, and Stanford in between.
To be sure, as Friedman notes, in-person student-teacher and student-student interface still provides some value. Yet it is hard to see how such interface justifies the cost of today’s entire college experience, from college applications to the college visitation tour to on-campus housing and dining facilities to student activities funds and such esoterica as student health care coverage for sex reassignment surgery.
Here in the second decade of the 21st century North Americans still operate with 18th century models of education inherited from the Puritans (although todays’ mores and curricula are far from Puritan). As today’s Times op-ed page amply demonstrates, our educational systems are in serious need of rethinking, and soon.
In his first address as Secretary of State, John Kerry said we must safeguard “the most sacred trust” we owe to our children and grandchildren: “an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.”
Even the IPCC and British Meteorological Office now recognize that average global temperatures haven’t budged in almost 17 years. Little evidence suggests that sea level rise, storms, droughts,polar ice or other weather and climate events and trends display any statistically significant difference from what Earth and mankind have experienced over the last 100-plus years.
However, we do face imminent manmade climate disasters. Global warming is the greatest moral issue of our time. We must do all we can to prevent looming climate catastrophes.
But those cataclysms have nothing to do with alleged human contributions to planetary climate systems that have always been chaotic, unpredictable and often disastrous: ice ages, little ice ages, dust bowls, droughts and monster storms that ravaged and sometimes even toppled cities and civilizations.
Our real climate crisis is our responses to Mr. Kerry’s illusory crises. It takes four closely related forms.
Influence peddling. Over the past three years, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center alone poured $335 million into environmentalist climate campaigns, and $1 billion into green lobbies at large, notesUndue Influence author Ron Arnold. Major US donors gave $199 million to Canadian environmental groups just for anti-oil sands and Keystone pipeline battles during the last twelve years, analysts Vivian Krause and Brian Seasholes estimate; the Tides Foundation poured $10 million into these battles during 2009-2012.
All told, US foundations alone have “invested” over $797 million in environmentalist climate campaigns since 2000! And over $19.3 billion in “environmental” efforts since 1995, Arnold calculates! Add to that the tens of billions that environmental activist groups, universities and other organizations have received from individual donors, corporations and government agencies to promote “manmade climate disaster” theories – and pretty soon you’re talking real money.
Moreover, that’s just US cash. It doesn’t include EU, UN and other climate cataclysm contributions. Nor does it include US or global spending on wind, solar, biofuel and other “renewable” energy schemes. That this money has caused widespread pernicious and corrupting effects should surprise no one.
Politicized science, markets and ethics. The corrupting cash has feathered careers, supported entire departments, companies and industries, and sullied our political, economic and ethical systems. It has taken countless billions out of productive sectors of our economy, and given it to politically connected, politically correct institutions that promote climate alarmism and renewable energy (and which use some of this crony capitalist taxpayer and consumer cash to help reelect their political sponsors).
Toe the line – pocket the cash, bask in the limelight. Question the dogma – get vilified, harassed and even dismissed from university or state climatologist positions for threatening the grants pipeline.
The system has replaced honest, robust, evidence-based, peer-reviewed science with pseudo-science based on activism, computer models, doctored data, “pal reviews,” press releases and other chicanery that resulted in Climategate, IPCC exposés, and growing outrage. Practitioners of these dark sciences almost never debate climate disaster deniers or skeptics; climate millionaire Al Gore won’t even take questions that he has not preapproved; and colleges have become centers for “socially responsible investing” campaigns based on climate chaos, “sustainable development” and anti-hydrocarbon ideologies.
Increasingly powerful, well-funded, unelected and unaccountable activist groups and bureaucracies use manmade global warming claims to impose regulations that bypass legislatures and ignore job and economic considerations. They employ sweetheart lawsuits that let activists and agencies agree to legally binding agreements that leave out the parties who will actually be impacted by the court decisions.
The green behemoth wields increasing power over nearly every aspect of our lives and liberties, with no accountability for screw-ups or even deliberate harm to large segments of our population. All in the name of controlling Earth’s temperature and preventing climate change
Climate eco-imperialism impoverishes and kills. Climate alarmism and pseudo science have justified all manner of regulations, carbon trading, carbon taxes, renewable energy programs and other initiatives that increase the cost of everything we make, grow, ship, eat, heat, cool, wear and do – and thus impair job creation, economic growth, living standards, health, welfare and ecological values.
Excessive EPA rules have closed numerous coal-fired power plants, and the agency plans to regulate most of the US hydrocarbon-based economy by restricting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, generating plants, cement kilns, factories, malls, hospitals and other “significant” sources. Were it not for the hydraulic fracturing revolution that has made natural gas and gas-fired generation abundant and cheap, US electricity prices would be skyrocketing – just as they have in Britain andGermany.
EU papers carry almost daily articles about fuel poverty, potential blackouts, outsourcing, job losses, economic malaise and despair, and deforestation for fire wood in those and other European countries, due to their focus on climate alarmism and “green” energy. California electricity prices are already highest in USA, thanks to its EU-style programs. The alarms are misplaced, the programs do nothing to reduce Chinese, Indian or global emissions, and renewable energy is hardly eco-friendly or sustainable.
Wind energy requires perpetual subsidies and “backup” fossil fuel power plants that actually produce 80% of the electricity attributed to wind, and blankets wildlife habitats with turbines and transmission lines that kill millions of birds and bats every year. In fact, industrial wind facilities remain viable only because they are exempted from many environmental review, wildlife and bird protection laws that are enforced with heavy penalties for all other industries. Solar smothers habitats with glossy panels, and biofuels divert crops and cropland to replace fuels that we have in abundance but refuse to develop.
Now climate activists and EPA want to regulate fracking for gas that was once their preferred option.
By far the worst climate crisis, however, is eco-imperialism perpetrated against African and other poor nations. When their country was building a new power plant that would burn natural gas that previously was wasted through “flaring,” President Obama told Ghanaians they should use their “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy, instead of fossil fuels that threaten us with dangerous global warming. Meanwhile, his Administration refused to support loans for South Africa’s critically needed, state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant, which the Center for American Progress, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and other radical groups stridently opposed.
The actions ignored both the livelihoods and living standards that electricity has brought the world, and the millions of deaths from lung infections and intestinal diseases that these power plants would prevent.
Ready-made excuse for incompetence. Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy proved how “dangerous manmade climate change” can give politicians a handy excuse for ill-considered development decisions that increase storm and flood risk, failure to prepare their communities for inevitable severe weather events, misleading storm warnings, and slow or incompetent responses in their aftermath. Blaming carbon dioxide emissions and rising seas is always easier than manning up and shouldering the blame for Bloombergian failures. Citing IPCC computer forecasts of nastier storms and flooded coastlines likewise gives insurers a convenient excuse for hiking insurance rates.
When the conversation next turns to climate change, discussing the real climate crisis – and the true meaning of environmental justice – could open a few eyes.
Comcast has instituted a program, now in its second year, called Internet Essentials. Its purpose is to give low-income families — those eligible for school lunch programs — affordable access to broadband technology in the home.
The program provides Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus government taxes, natch) and a $150 computer. And Comcast also provides personal service — training for families to get them up to speed with the digital age.
All this is done without taxpayer money — so no “sequester” dodge — and has impacted the lives of 150,000 families.
Says Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen:
“To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources. While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.”
In just two years, this program has:
• Printed and shipped more than 25 million pieces of collateral material for free.
• Fielded more than one million phone calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.
• Distributed more than 15,000 computers at less than $150 each.
• Trained 10,000 people in-person about digital literacy and how to use the Internet.
• Received more than 800,000 visitors to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico websites.
• Partnered with almost 7,000 community-based organizations; government agencies and federal, state and local elected officials.
Learn more about this program here — where you will be guided by the smiling face and happy voice of NBC’s Al Roker. It’s a good example of what private firms do every day, but get little attention for it because it’s not a government-run program.
In fact, it’s better — because it comes without the bloat and failure of most programs run out of Washington.
This response to The Heartland Institute’s Monday press release about Obama tapping Gina McCarthy to be the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency was too fun not to share.
Our experts didn’t think much of the news. A climate “journalist” thought even less of the release than Heartland’s experts did of the news.
This is from Paul Koberstein — who apparently writes for something called the Cascadia Times in Portland, Oregon — and could not resist emailing me a profane rant … IN ALL CAPS, of course:WHAT IS THIS SHIT…. GET OUT OF MY INBOX FUCKING LIARS FUCK YOU FUCK YOU YOU PLANTET RAPERS
For the record, all our press releases come with an easy-to-see “unsubscribe” link at the bottom. I was kind enough to click it for Mr. Koberstein. I wouldn’t want to cause him to go into a spasm of illiterate swearing again.My conscience is clear.
Auditing the Fed, replacing Fed monetary policy discretion with a mandatory price rule governing policy, even the gold standard, Nobel Laureate Friedreich Hayek pushed the envelope beyond all of these. He advocated running the world economy on competing private currencies.
A competitive private market for money, instead of an arbitrary government monopoly amounting to a license to steal for the ruling class? How could that ever work?
Just like any other competitive private market for any other good or service, Hayek would answer, which is a lot better than a government monopoly. But doesn’t the government have to determine the standard for any society’s money, just like it determines the standards for the society’s weights and measures?
Actually, the governing standards for weights and measures historically grew out of the competitive private marketplace of ideas in every culture. The government only validated society’s determination. But in regard to money, governments have abused their monopolies since ancient times.
Kings and Emperors would start out with pure gold or silver coins. But then they would melt down the old and reissue them debauched with increasing portions of less precious metal alloys. Hence the beginning of inflation, with markets devaluing the debauched currency.
Paper currency began as warehouse receipts for specified weights of gold or silver. The bearer could turn them in for the actual specie. But the custom developed of just using the paper receipts as the medium of exchange, with few if any showing up to demand the actual gold. Governments soon began to abuse this, issuing more and more warehouse receipts without enough gold to back them, which enabled the government to buy more goods and services.
That meant inflation as well, and threatened to spark runs on the gold reserves. Governments would respond by “devaluing” the currencies, arbitrarily reducing the amount of gold each unit of currency was worth. But that meant more inflation.
Such inflation amounted to sophisticated stealing, of course, as the value of savings by the industrious would be devalued in the process as well. That value effectively went to the irresponsible and dishonest governments abusing their currencies. Inflation also amounted to the first redistributionist policies, effectively stealing from creditors to favor debtors, who could pay back their debts in depreciated currency.
Inflationary policies consequently developed a constituency among debtors. But that policy was short sighted, as the redistributive theft discourages the savings and investment that are the foundation of economic growth, and rising prosperity for all, as such policies do to this day.
Hayek argued that in competitive private markets, private currency issuers would compete to maintain the value of their currencies. Those who were less reliable or effectively stole from their customers would be driven out of the market.
From the early rise of capitalism, private bankers issued their own currencies, or specie warehouse receipts. But governments drove them out over time, disdaining the competition. The monopoly of the dollar in the United States was achieved by taxing private and state currencies out of existence in the 19th century.
But in their new book, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity, Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne document the new rise of effectively competing private currencies. Lietaer, MIT PhD in economics, served as an official of the Central Bank of Belgium, and as President of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System. He was an architect of the EU, and Business Week named him “the world’s top currency trader” in 1992. Dunne is an award winning journalist, and a leader in promoting development of environment friendly technologies.
Lietaer and Dunne report more than 4,000 unofficial, private currencies already operational in the world today. They call these complementary orcooperative rather than competing currencies because they are not competing to replace the official currency, but to complement it where it is leaving available resources unused.
The most easily recognized complementary currency is frequent flyer miles, now issued by 92 airlines. These do not involve just bonus or discount tickets in return for repeat flight business. “Increasingly, frequent flyer miles are redeemable for a variety of services besides airline tickets, such as long-distance and mobile phone calls, hotels, cruises, and catalog merchandise,” the authors write. Yet, more than half of frequent flyer miles “are not earned by flying. Instead, credit cards that offer bonus miles with purchases have become the most popular way to earn frequent flyer credits.” Consequently, the authors rightly conclude that the frequent flyer miles have “developed into a corporate scrip – a private currency issued, in this case, by airlines.”
Another private currency model is time-backed currency, which has been spearheaded by liberal lawyer Edgar Cahn, former advisor to Robert Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. Participants provide an hour of service to earn an hour of service in return, involving such services as tutoring students, teaching English or other languages, gardening and lawncare, housecleaning, helping the homeless and teaching them skills, rides for those without transportation (or for seniors who can no longer drive), respite care freeing caregivers for children with special needs, adults with disabilities, and aged seniors to take a break, and other services. Lietaer and Dunne add,
“Mayor Bloomberg has launched TimeBanking for seniors in all five boroughs of New York, as baby boomers turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next two decades. Seniors can live longer in their homes independently because they can avail themselves of services offered by people within their time bank community, such as rides to a doctors appointment or help with writing letters to their insurance company.”
Cahn reports there are nearly 300 TimeBanks in the U.S., another 300 in the United Kingdom, with TimeBanking now spread to another 34 countries internationally.
This mutual exchange concept is expanded more broadly in the LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) model of private currencies. Participants trade goods and services to each other in return for agreed LETS credits, which are recorded in a central exchange. Lietaer and Dunne quote Michael Linton explaining how LETS enabled economic recovery in a small town near Vancouver:
“We are a town of 50,000 people, and the major industry was a defense base, plus the town was a dormitory for timber, mining, fishing, and a bit of tourism at that stage. In 1982, everything stopped. The defense base moved, and the Bank of Canada was running at 14 percent prime, and mortgages were approximately 18 to 20 percent. I was a sole proprietor business….When the sand ran out of the economy, my business dried up in a matter of months, as it did for many others.”
But after LETS was created, the currency was used by participating employers to hire the unemployed to produce the many goods and services the community needed. This positive result in reviving depressed local economies has been repeated many times around the world by introducing such cooperative, complementary currencies in the area. Lietaer and Dunne suggest that there is special opportunity for such private currencies anytime there are unused resources that can be linked with unmet needs, which the established currency is not serving, as in the example above. They suggest that such LETS currencies “are the most frequent cooperative currency system in the world today.”
Indeed, such private complementary currencies have arisen to serve local economies around the globe on a regional basis. Lietaer and Dunne write, “Germany and Austria are now spearheading regional currencies, generically called regios, which complement the euro.” Participating local businesses, from shops to restaurants, accept the regional currency for their goods and services.
One example is the Chiemgauer system based in Bavaria in southern Germany. Lietaer and Dunne explain:
“Today, there are 600 participating businesses with 550,000 Cheimgauers in circulation and a turnover equivalent of over 6 million euros in 2011….The Sternthaler currency, which operates in the adjacent area of Upper Bavaria, and partnering with Chiemgauer, provides access to an additional 500 businesses to the system. Seventy-five percent of the money is now in electronic form….Ten local branches of cooperative banks provide banking services in Chiemgauer.”
Another such private, regional currency is Berkshares, traded in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Lietaer and Dunne write, “The 13 branches of five local banks operate as exchange bureaus and have issued 3.3 million Berkshares to date [since 2006]. Currently, more than 400 businesses have signed up to accept the currency.” The banks grant 100 Berkshares for $95, and participating businesses accept each Berkshare as $1, providing an incentive for consumers to use Berkshares to shop at local businesses. This represents one feature of such currencies, each can be designed as the issuer thinks would best serve the targeted market. People are free to use the currency or not, and no government permission is needed to launch it.
Merchants use the Berkshare to trade among themselves as well, and some local employers partially pay their employees in the currency. Local banks accept Berkshare deposits.
The most prominent of such regional private currencies is the WIR in Switzerland, started by businesses in the economic crisis of the 1930s, when the banks cut off their lines of credit, threatening their survival. They started the WIR mutual credit system among themselves, paying each other for goods and services in the currency, instead of succumbing to the worldwide depression. Their employees and customers began trading in the currency as well. A cooperative among these businesses keeps the accounts dealing in the currency.
“Over time, the system grew to include up to a quarter of all the businesses in Switzerland,” Lietaer and Dunne write. The WIR is administered by a bank headquartered in Basel, with 7 regional offices. The same concept is now being tried in Vermont.
[First published at Forbes.]
If global warming were truly a crisis, China would be the earth’s bad-guy bully. China emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation on earth. Heck, China emits more carbon dioxide than all the nations in the Western Hemisphere combined. China’s emissions have more than tripled since 2000, even while the United States and other nations have cut their own. China by itself caused most of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions this century.
That being the case, it is surprising how often global warming alarmists throw love at China on energy and climate issues, saying we should emulate the Far East superpower:
- Media across the alarmist spectrum are gushing with praise and envy this week in the wake of China announcing it may impose a small tax on carbon dioxide emissions.
- The reliably alarmist Bloomberg media site published an article last month titled, “China, Mexico Leading Fight on Climate Change with New CO2 Laws.” (Mexican emissions, like those of China, have increased this century while U.S. emissions have declined.)
- And during this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama claimed, “As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we.”
So just how is China going “all in” on clean energy?
Global warming alarmists tell us coal is the dirtiest form of electricity production, yet China produces 70 percent of its electricity from coal. By contrast, coal accounts for only 40 percent of U.S. electricity generation.
China produces merely 1 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable power, while the United States produces 5 percent of its electricity from non-hydro renewable power.
China uses more coal, uses less renewable power, emits more carbon dioxide, emits more pollutants across the board, and is on a trajectory of tremendously higher future pollution levels. The United States, by contrast, uses less coal, uses more renewable power, emits less carbon dioxide, emits fewer pollutants across the board, and is continually reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants.
As the Bloomberg article notes, China has central planning programs on the books allegedly addressing climate change. And now China is pledging to enact a modest carbon tax (which may or may not actually be enforced, even if it is enacted.) Nevertheless, Chinese emissions continue to dramatically rise, while U.S. emissions continue to decline.
Global warming alarmists and environmental activists constantly praise China and hold the nation up as an example for the United States to follow. Yet the two nations are on distinctly different trajectories regarding carbon dioxide emissions and environmental quality. Given the choice between a policy of more taxes and more government programs that do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and a policy of fewer taxes and fewer government programs that nevertheless result in declining carbon dioxide emissions, I will take the latter. It is surprising (then again, maybe not) that so many self-professed global warming advocates prefer the former.
When it comes to choosing between a carbon tax and fewer carbon dioxide emissions, alarmists show their true colors by turning up their noses at real-world carbon dioxide reductions and instead pushing wholeheartedly for ineffective central planning and carbon taxes.
“Forget the carbon, we demand the tax!”
[First published at Forbes.]
Anyone who still believes that the United States of America has a “free” market economy has obviously not taken a look at the health care sector lately. Speaking as a practicing lawyer, one reliable measure of how heavily-regulated an industry may be is how many lawyers it keeps employed, both directly and indirectly.
Already one of the most heavily regulated industries on earth, the American health care sector in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” has become one huge rent-seeking missile for lawyers.
Consider, for example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as “HIPAA.” You probably know it as the statute that requires delivery of pounds of paperwork regarding your privacy rights directly to your mailbox while the receptionist, when it comes time for your appointment, continues to call your name loudly in front of everyone else in the waiting room.
But as medical care providers have moved increasingly towards keeping records electronically rather than on paper and therefore turn like the rest of us to “business associates” to manage electronic information, recent HIPAA revisions have been required to redefine what it means to be a business associate, to redefine rules for notifying patients and the government of potential privacy breaches and, of course, to redefine HIPAA’s “penalty structure.”
In 2009, as the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin recently reminds us, our acronym-loving Congress gave us the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act – or “HITECH” – as part of the Orwellian-named American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). (You’d think they could have at least called it the American Recovery and Government Help! act, or “ARGH!”)
In keeping with the current administration’s “nudge” theory of incentivizing certain behaviors, ARRA (or ARGH!) aims to create a national care information technology infrastructure, together with “specific incentives designed to accelerate the adoption of electronic health record systems among providers” while still, of course, ensuring your medical privacy. With ever-increasing cyber-attacks on American computer databases from China, al-Qaeda, and Iran, what could possibly go wrong?
The published “interim final” regulations just for “Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information” run to over thirty full pages in the Federal Register, and if you really want to read them you can find them here. But let me save you some trouble: according to the Department of Health and Human Services website, “This new federal law ensures that covered entities and business associates are accountable to the Department and to individuals for proper safeguarding of the private information entrusted to their care.”
Got it? Good. Because if you’re a “covered entity” or “business associate” and you “secure health information as specified by the guidance through encryption or destruction,” then according to HHS you are “relieved from having to notify in the event of a breach of such information.” (Fortunately, for your convenience, this guidance will be “updated annually.”) But if you don’t, then you must inform the affected patients and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and you may get fined – as much as $50,000 per violation, depending on severity and circumstances – and according to a practitioner quoted in the Law Bulletin story each record that gets released is its own violation.
So if you’re a provider or a business associate, be sure you don’t go leaving your laptop containing patient information on the bus or the train. But according to another practitioner quoted in the same story, a lot of lawyers will set up a “business associate agreement” for the same $50,000 that you might get fined if you don’t have one. And if you’re a patient and the Chinese or al Qaeda nonetheless gets hold of the records of your last prostate exam, then at least the U. S. government can collect a fine from your health care provider or its business associates.
In the end, then, everybody wins – except for common sense, the taxpayer, and the hopes of streamlining government in the wake of sequestration.
Welcome back to Nannyland!
On Friday, the Department of State released a 2,000-page draft review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. If approved, the pipeline will carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from oil sands in Canada and the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana to Gulf Coast refineries.
The review did not recommend approval of the pipeline, but raised no major objections, concluding that the project was “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the climate or oil sands production. Nevertheless, the same-day outrage from liberal politicians and environmental groups was caustic.
The report found that the $3.3 billion Keystone XL project would create 42,100 US jobs during the two-year construction period. In addition to construction of the pipeline, new electrical transmission and power substations would be required. The project would generate an estimated $65 million in use and sales taxes for traversed states.
If approved, Gulf Coast facilities would refine more oil from Canada and the northern US and less from the Middle East. Keystone could potentially replace 45 percent of the oil imported from the Persian Gulf. At $90 per barrel, this would supplant $27 billion in annual payments to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Coast nations with payments to Canada and US citizens.
Van Jones, CNN contributor, raised fears of an oil leak, calling Keystone the “Obama pipeline” and saying that a leak “could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history.” Proper environmental care must be taken, but Americans know how to build pipelines. The proposed 875-mile pipeline would add to the 55,000 miles of U.S. crude oil pipelines that have been operating for decades. The lower Great Plains region over the Ogallala aquifer is already crisscrossed by tens of thousands of miles of pipelines. The report concluded that potential oil leaks were unlikely to affect groundwater quality in four major aquifers.
However, oil leaks are a red herring issue. The keystone pipeline battle has always been about the ideology of Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. Proponents of the theory of man-made warming warn that mankind’s tiny contribution to a trace gas in our atmosphere, carbon dioxide, causes extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods, snowstorms, rising seas, polar bear extinction, and other projected calamities. Canadian oil sands have become a lightning rod for climate activism.
Congressional representative Henry Waxman issued a press release, stating “The draft impact statement appears to be seriously flawed. We don’t need this dirty oil. To stop climate change and the destructive storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires that we are already experiencing, we should be investing in clean energy, not building a pipeline that will speed the exploitation of Canada’s highly polluting tar sands.”
Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford said “…it’s just untrue that piping oil from the Tar Sands will not have a devastating impact on our climate. To fulfill his promise to the American people to address global warming, the President must say no to the Keystone Pipeline.” But the State Department draft review points out that Canadian oil sands will be mined, regardless of whether the pipeline is built or not.
The review estimates that if Keystone is not built, oil sands production will be only 0.4 to 0.6 percent less that if the pipeline is built, or less than 0.83 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions annually. This difference equates to less than two hours of U.S. emissions, a negligible amount. Seventy-four million US housecats annually cause an estimated 196 times this emissions volume. Why isn’t Greenpeace urging President Obama to ban cats?
If not through Keystone, mined oil will be transported by rail, truck, or planned pipelines in Canada. Last month, the China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) completed the purchase of Nexen, a major producer of oil from Canadian sands, for $15 billion. CNOOC would not have purchased Nexen without assurance by the Canadian government that the oil can be harvested.
Mr. President, it’s your decision. On one side is the common-sense choice of more jobs, economic growth, reduced dependence on Mideast oil, and a negligible increase in greenhouse gas emissions. On the other side is Climatist ideology. Which will you choose?
[First published at The Washington Times.]
On February 20, Secretary of State John Kerry gave his first speech, as Secretary, at the University of Virginia where he offered a glimpse of how he sees tackling climate change as part of his job—as is “reducing nuclear threat,” “fighting corruption in Nigeria,” and breaking “the cycle of poverty, poor nutrition and hunger.”
On the same day, February 20, NASA’s James Hansen was speaking in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Lensic Theater, with a follow-up presentation the next day at the Santa Fe Institute where he proposed “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.”
In Kerry’s introductory comments he says: “So our challenge is to … offer even the most remote place on earth the same choices that have made us strong and free.” Later, he launches into his climate change litany, and talks about developing and deploying “the clean technologies that will power a new world”—yet the inefficient, intermittent, and uneconomical “clean technologies” are not what made America “strong and free.” America became a superpower on the basis of energy that was abundant, available, and affordable. Now, in the cause of climate change, we want to deny developing countries the same benefits we’ve had?
Additionally, Kerry acknowledges: “We are all in this one together. No nation can stand alone.” After 15 years of supporters’ best efforts, the global community has rejected the Kyoto Protocol—which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries on the theory that it would stop global warming. It expired December 31, 2012. The world’s biggest emitters refused to sign on, the US never ratified it, and Canada has since completely backed out. The UK is likely not far behind.
Last week, London’s Daily Express featured a story titled: “Blackout Britain: EU environmental directive puts millions at risk of power cuts”—which concluded with the following: “We are facing disaster on energy prices. The dynamic has changed, but the thinking hasn’t.” A few days earlier, February 20, another Daily Express headline addressed the panic the UK is facing: “Cheaper energy is more important than going green.” The “cheaper energy” article cites “rising energy prices” that have “gone up 159 per cent since 2004” and quotes Energy Secretary Ed Davey as saying: “energy prices are now out of control.”
The author states: “Our energy policy is no longer dictated by the need to keep supply plentiful and cheap which for decades was the basis of all planning. Today energy policy is framed with only one factor in mind: satisfying the green lobby.” He concludes: “in the UK we let the green lobby sneer at fracking and barely even pay lip-service to its possibilities, at the same time as we close down productive power plants and stand back watching while prices go through the stratosphere.”
It is true, Secretary Kerry, that “no one nation can stand alone.” But he has promised we will rise to meet the challenge of tackling climate change—rising energy prices, that is.
Even Dr. Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges a “17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office.” At Melbourne’s Deakin University, Dr. Pachauri said: “People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning.” He continued: “no doubt about it,” it is good for controversial issues to be “thrashed out in the public arena.”
Which takes us to Dr. Hansen’s presentations in Santa Fe—primarily attended by sycophants carrying copies of his book:Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. However, four scientists also attended—a meteorologist, a physicist, a biologist, and a geologist.
No transcript of the speech is available, however the Santa Fe New Mexican covered Hansen’s presentation at the Institute, during which he predicted catastrophes, such as rising seas and species extinctions “if carbon-based fuels continue to be used at the same rate as today.” He believes “efforts to stem climate change will be ineffectual as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest form of energy,” and therefore he “proposed a new tax for carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal.” Yet, he stated: “Government shouldn’t be making decisions as to what the next energy sources are. Let the marketplace make the decision.” He wants a tax to make fossil fuels unattractive, but the government should let the marketplace decide?
“That wasn’t the only nonsensical idea he presented,” the scientists told me.
Robert Endlich, the meteorologist, reported: “One item after another struck me as being completely at odds with measurements. For instance, Hansen claimed Earth’s energy balance is out of balance, and we are warming rapidly, but recent global surface temperatures of land and water have not increased and, in fact, many measures show cooling over the past 17-19 years. In the US, there has not been a new state maximum temperature record set since 1995, and, in spite of the claims to the contrary, July,1936, is still the warmest month on record, set when CO2 was less than 300 parts per million. CO2 is now 395 PPM.”
Bernie McCune holds degrees in both engineering and biology and has worked with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Hansen admitted there is still some question,” McCune said. “But, his presentation was mostly political and didn’t prove that CO2 is the problem; it didn’t show that humans had anything to do with it.”
Jerry Clark, the physicist, who has spent 30 years tracking data from the relay satellite system, talked to one of the organizers before the meeting. The young man was surprised to learn that not all scientists agreed with Hansen. Clark feels frustrated because “the opportunity for opposing views to receive equal time and billing with Dr. Hansen does not exist; nor will the apologists engage in data comparisons.” Instead of the short-term charts Hansen presented, Clark wants to see the data and the real records. Drawing from his experiences on his college debate team, Clark was surprised that “Hansen didn’t even try to justify his thesis of man-made global warming.”
John Clema looks at the geologic history when he says: “Hansen’s claim of ‘extinction of 30 percent to 50 percent of animal species’ is nothing more than shameless spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. More than 98% of all the plants and animals that we currently know of are from the fossil record. There is no evidence that connects CO2 to these extinctions other than the strong possibility of linking huge volcanic activity to some timeframes where extinctions have occurred. In the geologic record, there are times when we’ve had much higher CO2 than at present—yet there are few recognizable extinctions. Nor is there any link between CO2 from fossil fuels and global warming. We are still in an interglacial period were warming could be expected—but Hansen can’t prove any part of this is due to human activity. Warm and wet is good for our species, cold and dry is not.”
At the end of Hansen’s presentation, there was a brief question and answer time. Only four questioners got answers. In response to Endlich’s question: “Observations show 10 years of warming from 1988 to 1998, but steady and by many measures, even falling temperatures since—a period over 17 years where the temperature has not risen at all. The total rise since 1988 has been only 0.2-0.3C. To what do you attribute the poor performance of that prediction?” Hansen first acknowledged the sun’s involvement, then he denied that the globe had not warmed—despite Pachauri’s admission that the warming had stalled.
Pachauri’s February 24 speech invited traditional scientific give and take, yet Hansen refused additional discussion with the scientists. When Endlich showed data from the Vostok and the Greenland ice cores, Hansen blew him off, saying: “you are wrong!” End of discussion.
The Santa Fe New Mexican’s headline for Hansen’s visit was: “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.” Perhaps Hansen was tipping his hand, confirming the rumor that Obama will approve the long-delayed, but much-needed Keystone pipeline if Congress will approve a carbon tax. Tit for tat.
Just what our teetering economy needs: higher energy prices. What planet do these guys come from?
[First published at Townhall.]
Someone should let Obama and McCarthy know that John Deere doesn’t have the electric or solar-powered tractor on the drawing board. It turns out the battery for such a tractor would be larger than the tractor itself and would have to be recharged on an hourly basis. One might as well try inventing an electric airplane. Let’s face it, some mechanical devices are simply destined by the laws of physics to make use of fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel provides a whopping 20,000 man-hours of energy per barrel of oil, which sells for less than $100. This means that even if tractors and harvesters are only 50-percent efficient in converting fuel into work, they’re still operating at less than one penny per man-hour. (W = Fd, where W is work, F is constant force of magnitude, and d is distance.) And this, in essence, explains why we in America pay roughly half what Europeans pay for food. Not only do American farmers make use of more advanced technologies on their farms, but they pay far less for the fuel it takes to put a crop in and harvest it efficiently.
Do you feel like doubling your grocery bill? No… neither do I. But there are many urban activists out there who actually envision what they refer to as a “sunshine-based” food economy. But with American farmers accounting for a whopping 37 percent of America’s current greenhouse-gas emissions − due primarily to their reliance on fossil fuels − anyone who’s ever actually worked on a farm knows diesel and gasoline are here to stay. As such, any attempt to “transform” the nation’s energy-use by discouraging the use of diesel and gasoline, perhaps through the regulatory introduction of a carbon tax, will only drive up every American farmer’s fuel bill, thereby driving up the cost of food.
The only renewable alternative to fossil fuel which is even worthy of consideration at present is of course biofuel, which is fuel derived from crops. The problem though, is that this dream constitutes a huge logical inconsistency. If farmers are forced to grow more crops for biofuel instead of food, they’ll sooner or later run out of land for food production. And to even believe that at some future date it might become possible for farmers to grow enough crops to feed everyone AND provide all the fuel America needs − much of which, I remind you, farmers themselves use − one must essentially embrace a belief in the concept of perpetual motion. And surely every sound-minded person knows that’s impossible.
Then there’s algae. But while publicly-funded experiments are indeed underway to produce biofuel from algae, why would anyone volunteer to pay through the nose for food and fuel in the meantime while this technology remains in its infancy? At the end of the day, biofuel in any form, along with it the whole concept of a “sunshine-based” food economy, is little more than a joke, at least from any serious scientific perspective. Rising food costs on the other hand, well that’s no joke, especially with so many Americans out of work.
Let’s all hope and pray that Gina McCarthy quietly rides out her term at EPA and that she doesn’t make any serious attempt to achieve politically what science dictates is physically impossible.
- Lynn Dicks, a “Natural environment Research Council Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK,” says “lies and exaggeration on both sides are a necessary part of the democratic process to trigger rapid policy change” and “when I saw the exaggerated pollinator [bees]-decline claim attributed to me in The Guardian I did not seek to correct it….” Amazing. Shouldn’t she be fired? But given her title, maybe she doesn’t really currently have a job.
- A review by Robert P. Crease of the new book Maverick Genius: The Pioneering Odyssey of Freeman Dyson by Phillip Schewe (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013), which mentions in passing and in a dismissive fashion his skepticism about global warming. You would think that when one of the world’s most eminent theoretical physicists denounces global warming alarmism in the most plain and emphatic terms possible that the folks at Nature would take him seriously. But no…
- Two articles about fracking, one claiming the “production of shale gas and oil in the US is overhyped and the costs are underestimated” and the second praises environmentalist efforts to slow down fracking in China. I suppose lowering emissions by trading gas for coal takes second place to the mission of slowing down the world’s engines of commerce.
- A report that the National Academy of Sciences will receive a staggering $350 million from BP, the British oil company, during the next five years, “money that officials at the NAS say the were surprised to receive.” No mention of any potential conflict of interest here, since the reporter clearly views this as a “good guy” getting money from a “bad guy.” How much of the money will end up fueling junk science? Given the recent scandals involving peer reviewed journals, probably quite a lot. The final sentence of the article quotes a biologist in Florida saying “Once the cheques start showing up, there will be an enormous amount of pressure to spend.” And the result will be more alarmism about more natural phenomenon, since after all, that’s what publishers want.
- Three articles on global warming and tropical carbon sequestration. Two are pretty technical, but I gather that the first article (nontechnical) tries to explain away the implications of the second article, which lowers the probability of a tropical rain forest die-back “by almost two orders of magnitude from 21% to 0.24%” (p. 343). The third article also appears to challenge the notion that ecosystems are fragile: “This indicates biome-scale resilience to the interannual variability associated with the early twenty-first century drought — that is, the capacity to tolerate low, annual precipitation and to respond to subsequent periods of favourable water balance” (p. 349). That would seem to be good news, but good luck finding it framed that way in Nature or reported in the MSM.
Fewer and fewer people care about the apocalyptic claims and outright lies of the environmental movement these days. The end of the world is nowhere in sight unless a stray asteroid is headed our way and, after some seventeen years of a natural cooling cycle, it’s hard to convince people that global warming is a problem.
In January The New York Times that has printed every global warming lie it could since the late 1980s shut down its “environmental desk” and reassigned its editors and reporters to other tasks. On March 1 it announced it was discontinuing the “Green Blog,” leaving only Andrew C. Revkin to rave on at “Dot Earth.”
Tim Graham, the Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, noted that Revkin’s paycheck is being underwritten by financing from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and, if that dries up, Revkin will have to take his fear-mongering somewhere else. Graham opined that “The reality must be that people don’t read it (Green Blog) and people simply don’t find global warming a scintillating subject. So much for the notion it’s the ‘story of the century.’”
The Times promised “we will forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics, including climate change, land use, threatened ecosystems, government policy, the fossil fuel industries, the growing renewable sector and consumer choices.” Readers have already made their choice; they are no longer interested in the torrent of lies that pours forth from the pages of the Times on the topics they will continue to report about. They have figured out that it is a steaming pile of horse manure.
It won’t be long before other print news media conclude that writing about “climate change”, aka global warming, no longer gets their reader’s hearts pumping faster.
A case in point from the alternative world of Internet blogs is the fact that 13 of the 17 blogs nominated for Best Science & Technology Weblog Awards were those of climate and environmental skeptics!
At The Guardian, a British daily that, like the Times, never failed to report that the Earth is warming, Leo Hickman who writes an environmental blog for it was fuming. He accused the climate skeptics of “gaming” the awards competition because they have succeeded in generating so much enthusiasm.
P. Gosselin, the writer of the No Tricks Zone blog admitted that “It was tough not to gloat” after reading Hickman’s screed. “It’s indeed a good look at a sour grapes display by the increasingly defeated looking alarmist side, now that they see they have got no chance of winning. Of the five finalists, four are skeptic blogs. The sole remaining alarmist blog, Skeptical Science, has dropped out.”
“The problem for them”, the alarmist blogs, “is that nobody is listening to their message any more. And, except for themselves, nobody else even has an inkling of enthusiasm left o nominate them, let alone vote. They’re rapidly sinking into irrelevance.”
It took time, but a consensus has been growing about the alarmists, whether it’s their absurd claims or the media that has been reporting them. It will take more time—and Mother Nature—before more people conclude that they have been victimized by the Greens who have foisted “renewable energy” (solar and wind) that not only provides less electricity than traditional sources, but drives up their bills in the process.
Environmentalism has never really been about science or even the Earth. Judi Bari of Earth First made that clear when she said, “If we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically” or Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund who said, “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
Writing recently in Investors Business Daily, Dennis Prager, a syndicated columnist, noted that the Philippines recently decided after twelve years to permit the planting of genetically modified (GM) rice. The reason for the reversal was that 4.4 million Filipino children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, causing 250,000 to 500,000 children to go blind; half die within a year.” GM rice provides that vital vitamin. The Greens where and everywhere fight against the use of GM crops.
“So who would oppose something that could save millions of children’s lives and millions of other children from blindness?” asked Prager. “The answer is people who are move devoted to nature than to human life. They are called environmentalists. These are the same people who coerced nations worldwide into banning DDT.”
Who is really saving the world and our fellow humans? The skeptics. The scientists and others who have debunked the lies and exposed the agenda of the environmentalists. The Green Blog is dead. It is a victory for all of us.
Unlike predecessor Bill Clinton, President Bush didn’t spend an hour or so reviewing the troops at Andrews Air Force Base while his successor was being whisked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, and his staff didn’t busy its last hours by swiping all the “O’s” off their office keyboards.
Neither did Bush grant interviews nor sign up with a speaker’s bureau nor hit the campaign trail for his party in either 2010 or 2012. “I owe my successor my silence” was all the outgoing president would say, and has.
In contrast to President Bush, former Massachusetts governor Willard “Mitt” Romney, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for president against Obama in 2008, marked his return to the public stage with an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday, March 3, 2013.
In the face of sometimes skeptical questioning from Wallace in his home, Romney came across as an intelligent, warm-hearted, and capable leader, a man with genuine concern about the future of America and a genuine ability to help do something about it.
“I’ m not gonna disappear” because “I care about America,” Romney declared – convincingly. With 20 grandchildren at current count, Mr. Romney has a deeply personal stake in the future of our country as well as an ideological and philosophical one. “I care about America and my twenty grandkids and what kind of world we’re going to have,” he said.
In contrast to the current administration’s constant campaign, ex-Gov. Romney is perfectly poised to actually lead instead of serving as a partisan political figurehead. Not being the head of his party, the former governor can focus instead on practical solutions to some of the real problems continuing to confront America today: the deterioration of the family and the dumbing down of education, our incoherent immigration and foreign policies, and out of control federal spending.
On Monday, in the wake of sequestration, Mr. Romney promises to lay out his views on spending. Unlike a White House seemingly interested only in scoring political points no matter what the cost, the betting here is that he will talk more about ideas than about laying blame.
The solutions Mr. Romney may propose will be less important than the fact that he is proposing them. In contrast to current posturing, it may mark the start of a genuine civic conversation.
In any event, it is good to have him back.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com