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R.I. Unemployment Worse Than it Seems

January 19, 2015, 11:26 AM

The old adage “numbers never lie” is true. Numbers can’t lie, but the people who use them can and very often do. Such is the case with the unemployment rate in Rhode Island.

When a falling unemployment rate in Rhode Island was coupled with a sudden loss of 2,600 jobs from September to October, Charles J. Fogarty, the director of the state’s Department of Labor and Training, talked-up the unemployment drop and dismissed serious concerns about the job losses. “[The number of lost jobs] got our attention but everything else seems to be working well,” Fogarty insisted. “So, it could be a statistical aberration.”

The DLT and others in the state who stand to benefit from improving employment figures see recent improvements in Rhode Island and across the nation as a sign of significant economic gains. Between June and November 2014, the Rhode Island unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the U.S. unemployment rate also dropped — down to 5.6 percent — causing many political pundits to tout the alleged success of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

What pundits both inside and outside of Rhode Island won’t tell you is that the real reason the unemployment rate is falling is not because the economy is improving; it’s because unemployment data are being tortured to fit a politically driven narrative. In other words, politicians and their sycophants are lying to you.

Although it’s true the percentage of people working relative to the number of workers considered by the BLS to be in the labor force is improving in Rhode Island and the United States as a whole, the number of workers in the labor force is shrinking to an unprecedented level.

In March 2010, at the height of the recession, the Rhode Island unemployment rate stood at a dismal 11.9 percent and the labor force included 573,930 workers. Even though the unemployment rate is down to 7.1 percent (with lower figures expected for the December report), the labor force has shrunk by more than 20,000, making it appear as though the economy has improved more than it actually has.

If the same number of workers were in the Rhode Island labor force today as there were in March 2010, the unemployment rate would actually be over 10 percent — a much less appealing figure for the Rhode Island Democrats who have run the state over that period.

Nationally, the situation is only slightly better. There are more than 92 million American workers aged 16 or older that are not considered to be in the labor force, which means only 62.7 percent of the population eligible is working or looking for work. This represents the lowest national labor force participation rate since 1978.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that unemployment rates are falling; there simply aren’t as many workers in the economy as there were just four short years ago, and there is no sign the drain of available workers will halt anytime soon.

 

[Originally published at the Providence Journal]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 5 of 8)

January 19, 2015, 10:12 AM

This is part 5 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit E-Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 85

In Federalist No. 85, Alexander Hamilton said all amendment proposals under Article V, logically including even those originated by the sates, would be brought forth without “giving or talking” and “singly;” that “nine” states [two-thirds] would effect “alterations,” that “nine” states would effect “subsequent amendment” by setting “on foot the measure,” and he promised, “we may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority” by using their amendment power under Article V.

Hamilton not only focused Federalist No. 85 on the argument that the Article V amendment process was superior to convening a second wide-open convention, his statements all anticipate the amendment-specifying power of an Article V application, which alone is entirely controlled by two-thirds of the states through their legislatures; as well as a narrow and preset agenda for an Article V convention.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jon Haubert: Responsible Energy Development in Colorado

January 19, 2015, 10:00 AM

There is a lot of misleading information about hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” out there. Some of it comes from sources that are intentionally misleading, like the movie Gasland, but some of the confusion surrounding the process of hydraulic fracturing comes as a result of poor messaging from the the oil and gas industry itself, who for years allowed environmental activists to control the narrative around fracking.

Jon Haubert from the group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) discusses the role that CRED plays in helping the general public understand the process of hydraulic fracturing in a balanced manner that weighs the costs of developing oil and natural gas against the benefits derived from them. Haubert discusses some strategies for communicating the benefits of fracking to a general audience and share successes from Colorado.

Categories: On the Blog

Pope Francis Says Freedom Of Speech Has ‘Limits,’ Gets It Wrong Again

January 18, 2015, 2:37 PM

Just two weeks after reports surfaced that Pope Francis plans to put significant pressure on global leaders to fight what he believes to be manmade, imminent global warming, the leader of the world’s largest church is receiving strong and worthy criticism from conservatives again — this time for suggesting there is a “limit” to freedom of speech in wake of the Paris attacks on magazine Charlie Hebdo.

According to the Associated Press’ Nicole Winfield, Francis responded to questions about the Paris attacks and the notorious cartoons and satirical articles published by Charlie Hebdo that inspired them, saying, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,” Pope Francis said. “They are provocateurs. … There is a limit.”

France apparently agrees. According to CNN, French comic Dieudonné M’bala M’bala now faces up to seven years in prison for posting a Facebook comment in wake of the terrorist attack. He allegedly wrote “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” a combination of a popular French phrase in support of Charlie Hebdo and the last name of one of the attackers. M’bala has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, and the French government is now claiming he should be charged with publicly supporting terrorism.

What the pope and the French do not understand is that freedom of speech is not the problem; radical Islamism mixed with violence is. This is not to say Charlie Hebdo’s disgusting jokes and cartoons about the religious beliefs of others were moral, but the idea that freedom should be limited whenever there is a chance deeply held beliefs could be “insulted” is an idea far more dangerous to a free society than anything cowardly terrorists could ever do.

If Francis is correct and speech ought to be limited, who gets to decide what permissible language is and what it isn’t? Which “moral” government agency decides which commentaries are too shocking or insulting?

The logical end result of Pope Francis’s comments is the majority population subjugating minority groups to whatever standards the majority determines acceptable. The pontiff can praise the virtues of liberty all he wants, but if he doesn’t support putting liberty into practice, his voice will ultimately be used to oppose freedom.

Pope Francis’s comments come just hours after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo that took the lives of 12 people. The organization says plans for the attacks had been in the works for several years, and that they were motivated by France’s “crimes” against Muslims. AQAP did not claim responsibility for a second attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris.

The “limits” on speech the pontiff seems to be suggesting, which may be nothing more than society choosing not to tolerate offensive organizations like Charlie Hebdo, is precisely what Al Qaeda and other radicals want: to create an environment where people are afraid to speak freely.

If freedom of speech is abridged — even if it’s only limited by society and not by some sort of legal restraint from the government — and other potentially offensive behaviors are forbidden as an overreaction to the horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the terrorists win. French society will become slaves to whatever politically correct fad comes next, and the voice of the minority will slowly and surely be drowned out by popular waves of emotion and irrational attacks on liberty.

 

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Minimum Wage Mythology Will Hurt Workers

January 18, 2015, 11:09 AM

More than 3.1 million workers across the nation received a late Christmas gift on Jan. 1, when minimum wages were increased in 21 states. Although the mandated wage hike was welcomed by many workers, they will soon find that their new pay raise will cause more harm than help.

It’s understandable why voters supported increasing the minimum wage. Living on $7.25 per hour—the federal requirement for minimum wages—is an exceptionally difficult endeavor, and it’s hard to imagine a family with children thriving with such little income, even if parents are working 40 hours per week or more. However, behind all of the compassionate slogans and well-intentioned protests rests a reality that sharply cuts through the many myths surrounding minimum wage increases: economics and common sense.

Contrary to claims made by advocates of the mandated increases, raising wages by less than one dollar will do little to curb poverty. In Colorado, for instance, wages increased 23 cents to $8.23, but that only means full-time workers earning the minimum wage will see roughly $9.20 (before taxes) more per week than they currently receive now and about $478 more per year, assuming the worker works all 52 weeks.

If current trends for inflation and the consumer price index continue at rates comparable to the past three years, those minimum wage increases will evaporate by the end of 2016—and this assumes the minimum wage hike will have no effect on prices in Colorado.

Ultimately, minimum wage laws do little to help impoverished workers, and basic economics explains why. When any market sees an increase in dollars available, prices for common goods and services, such as gasoline and groceries, inevitably go up. The reason for this is simple: If consumers have more money to spend, businesses will charge more money in the hopes of earning a greater profit.

For example, a small store in Colorado, where the state’s minimum wage increased 23 cents to $8.23, may employ 10 workers earning a minimum wage and working an average of 40 hours per week. With the passage of the new minimum wage, the store owner now has to pay his or her workers a total of $92 more per week than in 2014. The easiest way for a business owner to come up with the difference is to raise prices, which leads to increased costs for all consumers across the market.

Many business owners, however, are already charging what they believe to be the highest prices possible to stay competitive, which means owners must either take a profit loss themselves or reduce employee hours. Myriad businesses are even compelled to lay workers off.

Minimum wage proponents argue that such sacrifices may be necessary in order to keep an entire class of workers who can’t survive on a minimum wage from falling into poverty, but this myth fails to consider the many taxpayer-subsidized benefits minimum wage earners already receive.

At the federal level alone, full-time minimum wage workers with any number of children are eligible for both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—$496 in 2014—and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which combined with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 equals or exceeds the poverty level for all conceivable family combinations. This effectively means that no one working full-time on a minimum wage in the United States is actually in poverty according to the federal government, and the taxpayer aid they receive dwarfs the minute benefits minimum wage workers gain from increased pay.

Although voters’ desire to increase the minimum wage was based on an altruistic hope that the government mandate would lift thousands of Americans out of poverty, the reality is that no full-time minimum wage workers are in poverty by the federal government’s own standards, and even if they were, artificially raising the minimum wage will do little to improve their lives.

[Originally published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Focused Article V Convention (Part 4 of 8)

January 17, 2015, 2:18 PM

This is part 4 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit D-George Nicholas’ Reply to Patrick Henry

On June 6, 1788, Patrick Henry raged against ratification at the Virginia convention.

In response , leading Federalist, George Nicholas, observed that state legislatures may apply for an Article V convention confined to a “few points;” and that “it is natural to conclude that those States who will apply for calling the Convention, will concur in the ratification of the proposed amendments.”

Notice how Nicholas’ conclusion is only “natural” with the expectation that the states would typically organize a convention with a narrow and preset agenda, and only after first agreeing on one or more amendments specified in their Article V application.

This is, of course, the foundational principle of the Compact approach to advancing constitutional amendments. Like and share if you agree and want to spread the word! And consider a tax deductible donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

Capitalizing on Cheap Energy for the Long Term

January 17, 2015, 8:37 AM

For the past several weeks, falling oil prices and a likely veto of the Keystone XL pipeline by President Barack Obama have been commanding the headlines. But something more significant has been lost in the commotion. Last year, the United States produced more oil and natural gas than any other country, allowing us to achieve virtual energy independence which has been an expressed goal of public policy since the 1970s. What’s more, American consumers are reaping a fiscal windfall as lower energy prices reduce the costs driving their cars and heating and powering their homes. Most American industries are benefiting as well, especially energy-intensive manufacturing companies that use oil and gas both as fuels and feed stocks.

American innovations, in particular the application of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the nation’s many shale plays, are primarily responsible for our new-found energy abundance. Ironically, while total U.S. oil output has doubled since 2008, off-shore production has been dropping for the past six years.

Here’s another little known fact: The largest gas field in the nation today isn’t in the Southwest but in the North East. The Marcellus shale, which encompasses much of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Eastern Ohio and the southern tier of New York, has become the nation’s biggest gas producer. And even though New York has banned hydraulic fracturing, the state’s residents nonetheless benefit from the drilling activity occurring on the south bank of the Susquehanna River.

The economic benefits from America’s shale revolution have not been limited to the traditional oil patch but have been spread widely across the nation. Thirty-two states currently produce commercial amounts of oil and gas, and though only about 350,000 workers actually toil in the field, the energy industry directly and indirectly supports more than nine million jobs across the country.

Cheap oil and natural gas are helping the economy in other ways, such as reducing our trade deficit and attracting foreign investment, especially in heavy manufacturing. Increased use of clean natural gas for power generation is largely responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to their level of 20 years ago.

The shale boom has also helped revive a number of “Rust Belt” cities who are providing drilling equipment and oilfield services to operators in the northeastern U.S. And the Great Recession would have been longer and deeper absent the shale boom that started about the time the economy went into a tailspin.

Without question, the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices over since last summer is posing challenges to America’s domestic energy industry. The number of operating rigs, as well as new drilling permits, has been falling for the past two months, and several large companies have recently announced layoffs. At today’s prices, new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico may well be put on hold.

But oil prices won’t remain depressed forever. At present, every OPEC country, including Saudi Arabia, is running a budget deficit due to lower prices, an imbalance that can’t persist for the long-term. By contrast, the U.S. budget picture will be minimally affected by lower oil and gas prices while the International Monetary Fund projects a one-half percent bump in our GDP growth rate this year from cheaper energy.

Being the world’s largest producer of oil and gas gives America huge economic and political leverage, but only if we engage more fully in the global marketplace. To retain this leverage, while sustaining our oil and gas industry during a period of lower prices, we should quickly remove any artificial barriers to enhanced production. In addition to completing the Keystone XL pipeline, all restrictions on the export of oil and natural gas should be lifted and lease sales on federal lands and the outer continental shelf should be resumed.

[This first appeared in The Hill]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Sean Parnell: 2014 in Healthcare and Looking Ahead to 2015

January 16, 2015, 3:49 PM

Director of Communications Jim Lakely talks to Managing Editor of Healthcare News and Research Fellow Sean Parnell about the past year in regards to healthcare and the obamacare law. They discuss the failures from the launch of the government healthcare websites to the lackluster enrollment numbers.

Lakely and Parnell also talk about the future of Obamacare and what 2015 may hold for the controversial law. They discuss the potential political battles that may be looming. Between the pressure to repeal and replace the afforable care act and the further implementation of said law, 2015 should be an interesting year for the subject of healthcare.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The EPA’s Methane Madness

January 16, 2015, 11:03 AM

The Obama administration’s attack on America’s energy sector is insane. They might as well tell us what to eat. Oh, wait, Michelle Obama is doing that. Or that the Islamic State is not Islamic. Oh, wait, Barack Obama said that.

Or that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about protecting the environment. It used to be decades ago, but not these days.

There was a time when the EPA was devoted to cleaning up the nation’s air and water. It did a very good job and we now all breathe cleaner air and have cleaner water. At some point, though, it went from a science-based government agency to one for which science is whatever they say it is and its agenda is the single minded reduction of all sources of energy, coal, oil and natural gas, by telling huge lies, citing junk science, and generating a torrent of regulation.

Americans have been so blitzed with global warming and climate change propaganda for so long one can understand why many just assume that these pose a hazard even though there hasn’t been any warming for 19 years and climate change is something that has been going on for 4.5 billion years. When the EPA says that it’s protecting everyone’s health, one can understand why that is an assumption many automatically accept.

The problem is that the so-called “science” behind virtually all of the EPA pronouncements and regulations cannot even be accessed by the public that paid for it. The problem is so bad that, in November 2014, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill, HR 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act, to address it. It would force the EPA to disclose all scientific and technical information before proposing or finalizing any regulation.

As often as not, those conducting taxpayer funded science studies refuse to release the raw data they obtained and the methods they used to interpret it. Moreover, agency “science” isn’t always about empirical data collection, but as Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, noted in 2013, it is “a ‘literature search’ with researchers in a library selecting papers and reports by others that merely summarize results and give opinions of the actual scientists. These agency researchers never even see the underlying data, much less collect it in the field.”

The syndicated columnist, Larry Bell, recently noted that “Such misleading and downright deceptive practices openly violate the Information Quality Act, Executive Order 12688, and related Office of Management and Budget guidelines requiring that regulatory agencies provide for full, independent, peer review of all ‘influential scientific information.’” It isn’t that there are laws to protect us from the use of junk science. It’s more like they are not enforced.

These days the EPA is on a tear to regulate mercury and methane. It claims that its mercury air and toxics rule would produce $53 billion to $140 billion in annual health and environmental benefits. That is so absurd it defies the imagination. It is based on the EPA’s estimated benefits from reducing particulates that are—wait for it—already covered by existing regulations!

Regarding the methane reduction crusade the EPA has launched, Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, says “EPA’s methane regulation is redundant, costly, and unnecessary. Energy producers are already reducing methane emissions because methane is a valuable commodity. It would be like issuing regulations forcing ice cream makers to spill less ice cream.”

“The Obama administration’s latest attack on American energy,” said Pyle, “reaffirms that their agenda is not about the climate at all—it’s about driving up the cost of producing and using natural gas, oil, and coal in America. The proof is the EPA’s own research on methane which shows that this rule will have no discernible impact on the climate.”

S. Fred Singer, founder and Director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project as well as a Senior Fellow with The Heartland Institutesays “Contrary to radical environmentalists’ claims, methane is NOT an important greenhouse gas; it has a totally negligible impact on climate. Attempts to control methane emissions make little sense. A Heartland colleague, Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett, says “Obama is again avoiding Congress, relying on regulations to effectively create new laws he couldn’t legally pass.”

As Larry Bell noted, even by the EPA’s own calculations and estimates, the methane emissions limits, along with other limits on so called greenhouse gases “will prevent less than two-hundredths of a degree Celsius of warming by the end of this century.”

That’s a high price to pay for the loss of countless plants that generate the electricity on which the entire nation depends for its existence. That is where the EPA is taking us.

Nothing the government does can have any effect on the climate. You don’t need a PhD in meteorology or climatology to know that.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

CBO Report: Social Security Going Bankrupt Faster Under Obama

January 16, 2015, 11:00 AM

At a town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio in 2010, President Barack Obama ensured the worried audience that “Social Security is not in crisis.”  Obama was wrong.

Not only is Social Security in the worst shape it has ever been in, a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report reveals the problem has grown significantly worse under the Obama administration.

In its annual long-term Social Security projections report, the nonpartisan CBO says 2013 Social Security costs exceeded income by about 9 percent, and that gap is expected to average 17 percent over the next decade. The CBO projects that by 2030, all Social Security trust funds will be exhausted, and unless income exceeds expenditures, “the Social Security Administration [will] no longer have legal authority to pay full benefits when they [are] due.”

The slow demise of Social Security trust funds should surprise no one, but what is disturbing is the rate at which the CBO’s projections for Social Security’s survival has dropped under Obama.

In August 2009, the CBO estimated the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) — the two funds that compose Social Security — would be exhausted in 2043. The last CBO report for Social Security under President George W. Bush, released in August 2008, projected funds wouldn’t be exhausted until 2049.

The 13-year decline in CBO estimates for Social Security’s viability from 2009–2014 under the Obama administration represents a major failure by the president to solve — or even mitigate — a crisis everyone knew was coming.

“We’re going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen [Social Security],” Obama said in Ohio in 2010, but rather than strengthen the system, the president’s economic policies have contributed to its downfall.

Since his inauguration, Obama has implemented countless destructive taxes. In fact, taxes have risen faster under Obama than they have under any other president since the end of World War II.

The American Action Forum also found in its recent study that new or expanded regulations passed by the Obama administration cost Americans $181.5 billion in 2014 alone, and the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that businesses have been forced to endure 50 percent more “significant” regulations under Obama than under George W. Bush.

The irresponsible business climate fostered under the president’s leadership is reflected in numerous important economic indicators that help explain the increasing collapse of Social Security.

Although the misleading unemployment rate under Obama dropped down to 5.6 percent in December 2014, the civilian labor force participation rate for Americans aged 25–54 has fallen by more than 2 percent since Obama took office, which means there are fewer non-retirement-age people, relative to total population, paying into Social Security than in past decades. Additionally, real median household incomes have sharply decreased under Obama, and the number of Americans receiving food stamps is up by more than 50 percent since George W. Bush left office in 2009.

Add it all together and it’s easy to see why the nation has been left with a Social Security disaster — one so extreme that the CBO says the DI trust fund, which is responsible for aiding disabled workers and their spouses and children, will be tapped out by 2017.

Unless Obama swallows his pride and works with the Republican-led Congress to make serious reforms to Social Security trust funds, Baby Boomers around the nation are going to be stuck with ever-decreasing benefits in an increasingly inflationary world.

[Originally published at the American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

Friends of the Earth are the Enemies of Mankind

January 16, 2015, 10:44 AM

It’s such a benign sounding name, Friends of the Earth. This multi-million dollar international organization is a network of environmental organizations in 74 countries. If its agenda was adopted and enacted much of mankind would lose access to the energy sources that define and enhance modernity or the beneficial chemicals that protect food crops from insect predators and weeds.

I am on FOE’s mailing list and the most recent email informed me and the thousands of others who received it that “the oil lobby and the Republican leadership in Congress are plotting a full frontal assault on our environmental protections…” I bet you didn’t know that the Republican Party was an enemy of the environment. That’s curious because it was a Republican, Richard M. Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order!

 

FOE was upset by the $1.01 trillion bill to fund the U.S. government for the coming year through to September. “What’s more, in a surprise giveaway to the super-rich, the bill raised the maximum contribution limit from individuals to political parties—opening the door for billionaires like the Koch Brothers to purchase even more seats in government.”

The sheer hypocrisy of FOE defies the imagination. No mention was made of the secretive “billionaires club” that was revealed in August in a report by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How as Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”  Didn’t read about it in the mainstream press? That’s because it was hushed up.

You may, however, have heard of San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer who in February pledged to spend up to $100 million, half his own money and half from other billionaire donors, to get candidates who promised to pass anti-global warming legislation elected in the midterm elections. Steyer has been a leading opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, but for sheer hypocrisy, Steyer made his fortune by investing in fossil fuel companies!

As far as FOE is concerned, only conservative billionaires are evil.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Will Gov. Snyder Drop The Ball on E-cigs?

January 16, 2015, 8:55 AM

The Michigan Legislature got it right last year, passing bills to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Only a handful of states haven’t gotten around to this sensible, limited form of e-cigarette regulations.

Under pressure from activist groups who oppose this approach, Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t signed the bill, and may veto or pocket veto it in the next week.

You read that right: So called “public health” groups have been lobbying governors and legislators around the country against bans on sales of e-cigarettes to minors. Why? Because bans on sales of e-cigarettes to minors make sense and are popular. So activists are trying to load up these bills with all sorts of nanny state provisions that would incorrectly treat e-cigarettes as if they were actual cigarettes. Then the activists could accuse opponents of the add-on regulations of supporting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

As a longtime anti-smoking policy expert, I have studied the issue of tobacco harm reduction at the city, state, and federal level.

Failing to sign this legislation would leave Michigan as one of the few remaining states that allow the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

By definition, no reputable retailer sells e-cigarettes to minors, even without this legislation on the books. However, like in any field, there are unscrupulous actors. This legislation would properly make their actions illegal, and send a clear message that these products, which are meant for adult smokers, are not for minors.

There is a nearly universal consensus that there should be a ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors. However, groups who seek Snyder’s trust have been advising him not to sign the bills. Instead, they seek to keep the sale of e-cigarettes to minors legal, until they pass legislation that rushes to treat e-cigarettes exactly like combustible cigarettes. For this, there is little support in the scientific community.

In fact, treating e-cigarettes like cigarettes would undermine a central tenet of the U.S. FDA’s approach to securing the potentials benefit of e-cigarettes, while minimizing any potential harm.

As the FDA’s chief tobacco regulator, Mitch Zeller, told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Public Health, “If, at the end of the day, people are smoking for the nicotine, but dying from the tar, then there’s an opportunity for FDA to come up with what I’ve been calling a comprehensive nicotine regulatory policy that is agency-wide and that is keyed to something that we call the continuum of risk: that there are different nicotine containing and nicotine delivering products that pose different levels of risk to the individual.

“Right now the overwhelming majority of people seeking nicotine are getting it from the deadliest and most toxic delivery system, and that’s the conventional cigarette. But if there is a continuum of risk and there are less harmful ways to get nicotine, and FDA is in the business of regulating virtually all of those products, then I think there’s an extraordinary public health opportunity for the agency to embrace some of these principles and to figure out how to incorporate it into regulatory policies.”

Certainly, regulatory approaches to e-cigarettes, beyond those already underway at the Food and Drug Administration, will need to take into account what Zeller and others refer to as the “continuum of risk” among different products. Failure to do so risks unintended consequences that include discouraging smokers from switching to significantly less harmful products such as e-cigarettes.

Those who encourage Snyder not to sign the ban on e-cigarette sales to minors are seeking a range of potentially harmful regulations. Yet those proposals deserve individual consideration on their merits, taking into account the best science available. Those approaches do not deserve any halo from the consensus of banning sales to minors. Conversely, a ban on sales to minors should not be delayed because some groups seek to advance approaches that aren’t supported by science and may undermine public health.

In the meantime, Snyder should act to remove Michigan’s name from the quickly shrinking list of states that still legally permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

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

Heartland Daily Podcast: Rob Bradley – What is the Biggest Threat to Energy Today?

January 15, 2015, 1:37 PM

Rob Bradley, Jr. can be fairly considered one of the leading experts in the nation, if not the world, on energy issues, particularly oil and gas and renewables.  Bradley has written seven books including, Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategy’s and an energy primer (coauthored with Richard Fulmer) Energy: The Master Resource and is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research, among the nation’s leading research institutes on the structure and regulation of energy markets.

Bradley briefly discusses the history of innovation in natural gas markets, why markets work better than government intervention in reducing energy poverty and what the biggest threats are to energy and thus economic progress in the world today.  Bradley also dissects the motives of climate change alarmists and the idea that renewables are the new, innovative form of energy for the future.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Friends of the Earth are the Enemies of Mankind

January 15, 2015, 1:09 PM

It’s such a benign sounding name, Friends of the Earth. This multi-million dollar international organization is a network of environmental organizations in 74 countries. If its agenda was adopted and enacted much of mankind would lose access to the energy sources that define and enhance modernity or the beneficial chemicals that protect food crops from insect predators and weeds.

I am on FOE’s mailing list and the most recent email informed me and the thousands of others who received it that “the oil lobby and the Republican leadership in Congress are plotting a full frontal assault on our environmental protections…” I bet you didn’t know that the Republican Party was an enemy of the environment. That’s curious because it was a Republican, Richard M. Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order!

FOE was upset by the $1.01 trillion bill to fund the U.S. government for the coming year through to September. “What’s more, in a surprise giveaway to the super-rich, the bill raised the maximum contribution limit from individuals to political parties—opening the door for billionaires like the Koch Brothers to purchase even more seats in government.”

The sheer hypocrisy of FOE defies the imagination. No mention was made of the secretive “billionaires club” that was revealed in August in a report by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How as Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”  Didn’t read about it in the mainstream press? That’s because it was hushed up.

You may, however, have heard of San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer who in February pledged to spend up to $100 million, half his own money and half from other billionaire donors, to get candidates who promised to pass anti-global warming legislation elected in the midterm elections. Steyer has been a leading opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, but for sheer hypocrisy, Steyer made his fortune by investing in fossil fuel companies!

As far as FOE is concerned, only conservative billionaires are evil.

“At Friends of the Earth, we’re working to protect people and the planet from Big Oil and its profits.” Translation: We don’t want oil companies to provide the source of energy that fuels our cars, trucks, and other devices that improve our lives. We don’t like profits because they are the result of capitalism.”

For good measure, FOE tells its supporters the “future would be great for companies like Dow, Syngenta, and Monsanto — but terrible for bees, butterflies, and people like us. Take away pesticides and all you have left are the pest insects that spread disease and harm food crops.

According to Wikipedia, “Originally based largely in North America and Europe, its membership is now heavily weighted toward groups in the developing world.” It’s the developing world that has been the focus of the United Nations greatest hoax, global warming, now called climate change, as a means to transfer money from wealthy nations to those less well governed, often because there is a despot or larcenous group in charge.

It is little wonder that FOE is upset by the decision of millions of American voters to elect candidates who want to rein in the excesses of the Environmental Protection Agency and take steps to improve the economy. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is denounced as “a climate denier with close ties to the coal industry.”  He has made it clear that getting the Keystone XL pipeline approved by Congress will be a priority.

FOE’s email even named the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as “a policy group that helps develop anti-environmental state laws across the country. Right now they’re focused on plans to erode the President’s Clean Power Plan and EPA’s ability to carry out its mission.”

What FOE’s email decrying Big Oil and Republicans doesn’t mention is that, among the elements of the 1,603 pages of the omnibus appropriations bill, is a reduction in the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency which received $60 million less than last year. At $8.1 billion, the EPA is operating on its smallest budget since 1989.

I would like to see the EPA eliminated as a federal agency and that funding go as grants to the individual state environmental protection agencies to address problems closer to those responsible to do so. As it was, the omnibus bill put a variety of limits on EPA “greenhouse gas” programs, some of which verge on the totally idiotic such as permits for gas emissions—methane from cows!

The bill also disallowed President Obama’s promise to give $3 billion to the United Nations Climate Fund, a means to take our money and give it to nations for “environmental” programs that are more likely to end up being something else entirely.

With its anti-energy, anti-capitalism agenda, Friends of the Earth are in fact enemies of mankind. They would happily return the planet to the Dark Ages. That’s why people like me shine a very bright light on them so you will not be duped in the way far too many others are.

Categories: On the Blog

How to Achieve a Balanced Budget Amendment

January 14, 2015, 4:52 PM

On January 5, Compact for America Education Foundation President & Executive Director Nick Dranias was a guest on Michigan’s Frank Beckmann show. Sitting in for Frank Beckmann and conducting the interview was M. L. Elrick. Dranias discussed his organization Compact for America and their plan to fix the national debt crisis.

According to Dranias, the most realistic solution to resolving the national debt crisis in America is to pass a balanced budget amendment. Dranias uses historical precedence and quotes from the founding fathers to justify this potential amendment.

When advocating a balanced budget amendment, critics will argue our debt may be unnecessarily limited when facing a disaster or crisis that requires an increase in spending. In the interview, Dranias lays out an impressive work-around that would prevent this hypothetical scenario from occurring. Regardless of hypothetical situations, something has to be done.

The current system that we are operating in America is unsustainable. When the government’s spending is unconstrained, it makes it easier for politicians to promise seemingly unlimited entitlements. This causes our debt to balloon with no real end in sight. And eventually, this debt causes instability and dependence. On a whim, China – our largest foreign debt holder – could send our economy reeling if it drastically altered its bond-holding practices. This is not sustainable and is not something we should settle for.

Listen to the interview by clicking on the picture above for more information about the process required to create a balanced budget amendment and other details about the plan.

For even more information, visit the website –> Compact for America

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Joy Pullmann: 2014 Education In Review and Looking Forward to 2015

January 14, 2015, 1:47 PM

Joy Pullmann, managing editor at The Federalist and education research fellow at the Heartland Institute discusses some of the top education policy stories of 2014 with Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News. Pullmann and Kays also discuss what’s to come in 2015.

The issues Pullmann and Kays talk about include teacher tenure, the midterm elections, Common Core, the impact of teachers unions, and school choice. Pullmann outlines causes for concern as well as reasons to be hopeful in regards to education policy.

 

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 3 of 8)

January 14, 2015, 12:58 PM

This is part 3 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit C-James Madison in Federalist No. 43

In Federalist No. 43, James Madison emphasized that Article V: “equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.”

The most plausible way Article V could be viewed as “equally” enabling the “State Governments to originate the amendment of errors” as with the general government, or Congress, is if the Application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, which triggers the convention call, could also direct the Article V convention to propose desired amendments.

If you agree, like and share! And consider a tax deductible donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 2 of 8)

January 14, 2015, 12:10 PM

This is part 2 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

“Exhibit B” linked below is strikingly powerful. It is a huge brick in the wall of proof that the Article V convention was meant and publicly understood at the time of the Founding Era to be an instrumentality of the states and subject to the states’ direction and control—as illustrated by the Compact for a Balanced Budget.

Exhibit B-Tench Coxe

“If two thirds of those legislatures require it, Congress must call a general convention, even though they dislike the proposed amendments, and if three fourths of the state legislatures or conventions approve such proposed amendments, they become an actual and binding part of the constitution, without any possible interference of Congress.” Coxe further explained, “[t]hree fourths of the states concurring will ensure any amendments, after the adoption of nine or more.”

These statements were made during the Constitution’s ratification era and constitute clear evidence of the public understanding of the function of the state legislative application in the Article V amendment process. Notice that these statements clearly indicate that two-thirds of the states would specify and agree on the desired amendments in their Article V application before any convention was called. If you find this evidence to be as powerful as we do, please like and share this blog. Also, consider a donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

Requiem for a Failed Socialist State

January 14, 2015, 10:58 AM

No folks, it’s not Bernie Sanders’ Vermont nor Jerry Brown’s California Democratic Republic that’s about to get flushed down the economic toilet. We are talking about Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela that he inherited from his predecessor Hugo Chavez. With the recent collapse in crude oil prices that account for roughly 95% of the country’s export revenues, the red lights are flashing that the country is once again on the cusp of widespread civil unrest with the additional prospect of a possible overthrow of the socialist government. From a fiscal standpoint, the country is also only a few steps away from defaulting on its debt. The country’s current plight is a culmination of fifteen years of profligate spending on all manner of social programs and subsidies while failing to reinvest in PDVSA’s oil production and refining operations and to set aside adequate cash reserves for potential downturns in the commodity cycle.

The seeds of the failure of the Bolivarian state were sewn throughout the period of Hugo Chavez’s dictatorship. From the time he took office in 1999, plans were implemented to dramatically transform the country’s economy. Over time, private property was confiscated, the entrepreneur class of the population was largely stripped of its wealth and oil revenues were funneled increasingly into constructing a welfare state. Along the way, in 2002, the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, went on strike with the end result that thousands of trained engineers were fired from their positions and replaced by Chavez party loyalists. PDVSA soon became just another cog in the country’s cultural metamorphosis, increasingly taking on the role of provider of funds for Chavez’s socialist revolution. Thus, the oil company took on a greater role of passing along cash flows to social programs while investing less in maintaining the refining infrastructure and the exploration and production activities of its oil operations. A Reuters article in April of 2013 noted that in 2012 PDVSA contributed $44 billion to spending on social programs. While the spending level for these programs has largely been maintained, PDVSA currently generates only roughly $32 billion of crude oil revenues with oil now trading at $50 per barrel. At the same time, the underinvestment in the company’s oil business has had a pernicious effect on operations. The lack of spending on oil infrastructure was a likely contributor to the massive explosion and fire at the 645,000 barrel a day Amuay refinery that killed 48 in 2012 and for ongoing operational problems that have kept the company’s Isla refinery operating at half of capacity for the last few years. Likewise, despite investment from the Chinese and other foreign players, PDVSA’S upstream division has lacked the attention it needs to attain production goals.

In evaluating Venezuela’s options, none of the country’s courses of action appear to be without great risk. Reduced spending on social welfare programs and reduced subsidies for gasoline (currently at $.18 per gallon at a cost of $22 billion per year) runs the risk of stoking civil unrest and creating further disenchantment with a Maduro administration that currently has only a 22% approval rating. The second option involving further currency devaluations is likely to lead to further inflation problems, creating greater financial hardship among the general population. Venezuela also could try to restructure its debt with the Chinese, having already sold a great deal of future production to the country in exchange for loans. The Chinese, however, appear to be increasingly wary of loans to Maduro’s regime and are likely to make the terms of any future loans more stringent. In light of its financial predicament, the country’s CCC-rated sovereign bonds currently sell for around $.44 on the dollar, are yielding around 22% and the credit default swaps that serve as a barometer of the bonds’ quality suggest a greater than 90% chance of default.

Combined with an inflation rate approaching 60%, ongoing currency devaluations, widespread scarcity of basic consumer goods and an extremely high crime rate, the country indeed appears on the cusp of some type of major upheaval. As the tenuous situation looks to become more dire, an overthrow of the current regime looks increasingly possible as the country’s inhabitants reconcile themselves with the idea that socialism, once again, has proven to be a failed experiment.

Categories: On the Blog

Government + Phony Science + $$$$ = Waste

January 13, 2015, 1:13 PM

The obvious successes of past technologies have made politicians and environmentalists eager to be in the forefront of promoting futuristic schemes for their goals. Everyone wants to be on the side of the next Great Idea. All too often these futuristic fantasies are sold to a gullible public, as well as fellow politicians and the news media, with impressive but scientifically-flawed arguments that bump up against harsh physical realities that are immutable. These cannot be changed by any amount of laws, government spending or propagandizing. Solar power and wind power are examples. So is global warming.

SOLAR

Sunlight, despite being plentiful all over the earth, is inherently dilute. It arrives at a rate of 1 kilowatt per square meter (about 11 square feet) when the sun shines unobstructed directly overhead. That rate can never be increased. It imposes an inefficiency that can never be overcome. As Dr. Petr Beckmann, a professor of electrical energy, explained:

“No amount of technology, no amount of money, no genius of human inventiveness can ever change it….The effort of concentrating it, either by accumulation in time or by funneling it in space, is so vast that nothing as puny as man has been able to achieve it; only Nature herself has the gigantic resources in space, time and energy to do the job.

“To get an idea of how concentrated the energy is in coal, and how dilute sunshine is, consider a lump of coal needed to make 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity. It weighs under a pound…its shadow would measure perhaps 15 square inches. How long would the sun have to shine on those 15 square inches to bring in 1 kilowatt hour of energy? For 1,000 hours of pure sunshine. In the Arizona desert, where the sun is out about 12 hours a day, almost three months. For the average location in the U.S., our little lump of coal would have to be out for almost half a year to be struck by a total energy of 1 kWh. But only struck by it; if we wanted to get 1kWh out from that sunbeam, we would have to divide by the conversion factor….That is how concentrated the energy is in coal, and how dilute it is in sunshine.” And the energy in coal is available almost immediately.

WIND

Power from wind energy also bumps up against immutable physical realities. One is the fact that the wind doesn’t blow all the time. That can never be changed. Another is that 25 to 60 percent of the time the wind is blowing, it is at a rate less than the maximum efficiency for the turbine. As a result, windmills operate at only around 33 to 40 percent of maximum production level, compared to 90 percent for coal and 95% for nuclear power. Turbines start producing power with winds at 8 mph, operate most efficiently at 29-31 mph winds, and must be shut down at 56 mph winds (though the highest winds have the most energy to be collected) to avoid potential damage, such as rotor blades flying off or “cause vibration that can shake the turbine into pieces.”

Wind turbines are—and will always be—unable to achieve high efficiency even under the most favorable conditions. To attain 100 percent efficiency would mean the blades would stop rotating. The best efficiency achieved is about 47 percent, which is about as good as it can get because of a physical law known as the Betz Limit. This has been known for a hundred years. It was independently discovered by three scientists in three different countries: Albert Betz (1919) in Germany, Frederck Lanchester (1915) in Great Britain, and Nicolay Zhukowsky (1920 in Russia. Their discovery applies to all Newtonian fluids and identifies the maximum amount of kinetic energy that can be captured by windmills as 59.3 percent. But the advocates of wind power are either ignorant of this or willfully ignore it to make wind power seem feasible for achieving their goals. Wind turbines may be useful in remote locations with adequate winds where more efficient energy sources are unavailable, but they will never achieve widespread displacement of more economic energy without the waste from government subsidies and/or artificially high electricity rates for consumers.

ETHANOL

The government’s taxpayer support for industry to produce ethanol—for which both republicans and democrats received huge campaign donations—and the requirement that consumers buy it at gas pumps are further examples of forcing us to pay wastefully higher prices for an inferior fuel. Ethanol has only two-thirds the energy of gasoline, meaning it will take a car only two-thirds as far as a gallon of gas without ethanol would take it. And the amount of energy in ethanol cannot be changed; you cannot get more energy out of ethanol than is in it. No amount of laws, government spending or research is going to change that. Ethanol corrodes rubber, aluminum and steel, imposing costs on the design and construction of surfaces with which it comes in contact. US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory warns against the use of zinc with ethanol. (Carburetors are made from alloys of zinc and aluminum.) Because ethanol attracts water, including moisture from the air, it cannot be shipped by pipeline—the cheapest method of transport—and must be distributed by truck.

There have been several studies of the economics of ethanol. The most thorough was done by Cornell University Professor David Pimmentel, who also chaired a U.S. Department of Energy panel to investigate the energetics of ethanol production. Pimmentel and his associates found that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than you can get out of it. They found that “131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTU….a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs [per gallon].” Pimmentel adds, “That helps to explain why fossil fuels—not ethanol—are used to produce ethanol.”

A study by Hosein Shapouri is championed by pro-ethanol advocates because it disputes Pimmentel’s finding and instead claims a modestly positive net energy balance. But Howard Hayden, a Professor Emeritus of Physics from the University of Connecticut and Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern Colorado, notes that Shapouri et al “use the most optimistic figures: the best corn yield, the least energy used for fertilizer, the least energy required for farming, the most efficient distillation techniques, the most residual energy (in the form of mash); and in general the most favorable (but still credible) values for any and all aspects of [ethanol] production.” Even so, Hayden says that, using Shapouri’s numbers, the net average power available from the ethanol of one acre of corn would be enough only to keep one 60-watt light bulb burning continuously for one month. To keep that bulb burning for a year would require 12 acres of corn. (An acre is 43,560 square feet.)

Pimmentel vigorously defends his study and launches a formidable criticism of Shapouri’s report. He gives this explanation for their differences:

“Pro-ethanol people make [ethanol] out to be positive by omitting many of the inputs that go into corn production. For example, they omit the farm labor — I’m not talking about the farm family, I’m talking about the farm labor. They omit the farm machinery. They omit the energy to produce the hybrid corn. They omit the irrigation. I could go on and on. Anyway, if I did all of those manipulations, I could achieve also a positive return.

“However, that’s not the way these assessments are made. You can go check the noted agricultural economists who have looked at corn as well as other crops, and they do include the labor, they include the farm machinery, they include repair of the farm machinery, and so forth and so on. And so, those are all inputs that the ag economists include. Why are the pro-ethanol people leaving them out?”

One aspect of the dispute between Pimmental and Shapouri involves credit for distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol fermentation that is used as animal feed. Pimmental says Shapouri uses an extravagant credit to make ethanol look good, while Shapouri say Pimmental doesn’t account for the credit. Pimmental’s response:

“We do account for it. Distillers grains, incidentally, are being used as a substitute for soybean meal. So we went back to the soybean meal, and examined how it’s produced, and the energy that is required to produce it. Instead of giving [distillers grains] a 40 to 60 percent credit as the pro-ethanol people do, we found that the credit should be more like 9 percent. They [pro-ethanol researchers] are manipulating the data again.”

How can the correct numbers for all the inputs be determined? How can each be given an appropriate weighting in the total picture? How can we be sure that no inputs are left out? Or manipulated? The free market automatically does this through the mechanism of prices. It is a further waste of resources to employ hordes of government regulators and researchers to determine that which the market can automatically do more thoroughly and accurately. If the inputs for ethanol, or anything else, add up to a profitable price for demand of a given commodity, it will be produced voluntarily in the market. If it is not profitable, laws and regulations on producers and consumers will not make it so. They will merely translate the losses (waste) into higher prices for consumers or taxpayers or to future generations in the form of depreciating dollars and a growing national debt.

Other biofuels—which futuristic fantasists acclaim is the next Great Idea in energy—are worse than corn-based ethanol. They all bump up against the limits of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll converts sunlight into energy, but solar energy is dilute to begin with and plants, on average, collect only one-tenth of one percent of the solar energy available. If corn-based ethanol were to replace all the oil used in the U.S. for transportation, 700 million acres of corn would be required, compared to 408 million acres currently used for all types of crop production. If soy biodiesel were the substitute, it would require 3.2 billion acres of soybeans—one billion more acres than the entire U.S. including Alaska. Nevertheless, in 2013 the Obama administration announced contracts for $16 million to 3 biofuel plants in Illinois, Nebraska and California.

ENVIRONMENT

It has long been argued that solar and wind must be the energy sources of the future, regardless of cost, because the world will run out of petroleum in a few centuries. But that argument has been destroyed in recent years by new drilling techniques, the invention of fracking to extract oil and gas, and the discovery of hundreds of new oil and gas fields all over the world—even at extreme depths under the oceans—all of which mean the world will not exhaust petroleum resources for many thousands of years, if ever.

The environmentalists preach that the extractive industries which produce fossil fuels rape the landscape, pollute the air and water, and consume resources that should be left in their natural state. They worship the primitive. Their ideal is a pristine state of nature uncontaminated by civilization. So they favor renewable energies as being less damaging to the environment. But they ignore the environmental consequence of the consumption of energy and other resources that solar and wind utilization requires, which are greater than the traditional energy industries they deplore.

Like the pro-ethanol advocates, the advocates of solar and wind energy fail to consider all the inputs in the claims they are economic. The construction of a 1,000 MW solar plant requires 35,000 tons of aluminum, 2 million tons of concrete, 7,500 tons of copper, 600,000 tons of steel, 75,000 tons of glass, and 1,500 tons of chromium and titanium and other materials. These amounts are about 1,000 times greater than what’s needed to construct a coal-fired or nuclear plant producing the same power. Nuclear plants require enormous amounts of concrete for the massive containment structure, but a solar plant of equal capacity requires 500 times as much..

Those massive material requirements also consume massive amounts of energy in their manufacture. These include: 75 million BTU per ton of aluminum, 56 million BTU per ton of steel, 18 million BTU per ton of glass, and 12 million BTU per ton of concrete. And the manufacturing processes emit pollution of various sorts, some toxic, along with other wastes, for which disposal sites must be provided at further cost.

Solar and wind generating plants require vast land areas, with the most favorable areas being distant from the urban populations that require electrical power. This means further cost and energy requirements for establishing a power distribution network.

GLOBAL WARMING

Though it is no longer believable that the world is going to run out of petroleum, there is another scare tactic that demands we must use renewable fuels even if they are uneconomic. That is the threat of global warming ruining the planet. Isn’t saving the world more important than saving money? But once again, just as in the foregoing examples, inputs have been left out resulting in a false conclusion.

What has been left out? Temperature records were discontinued or no longer included in the data base in certain cold regions of the world, thus showing an elevated global temperature record. New measuring stations were added in warm areas, with the same result. Data was manipulated, falsifying records. There is no recognition of, or explanation for, the earth being warmer 1,000 years ago, 3,000 years ago and 10,000 years ago, when there were no factories or automobiles. Also omitted is that 10,000 years ago when the carbon dioxide level was about the same as today, the climate rose as much as 6 degrees Celsius in a decade—a hundred times faster than the rate we are supposed to regard as troubling—yet without the catastrophic consequences now predicted for global warming. Also omitted is incontrovertible evidence that rising temperatures produce rising carbon dioxide levels—not the other way around. Also omitted are 90,000 measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide made between the years 1812 and 1961 and published in 175 technical papers that give lie to the claim industrialization has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Those measurements were made by top scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, using techniques that are standard textbook procedures; they show an average of 440 ppm carbon dioxide in 1820 and 1940. Also, ice cores show over 400 ppm carbon dioxide in 1700 A.D. and 200 A.D., as well as 10,000 years ago. Samples from Camp Century (Greenland) and Byrd Camp (Antarctica) range from 250 to nearly 500 ppm over the last 10,000 years. These make a lie out of the claim in 2013 that the recent atmospheric carbon dioxide level of 400 ppm is the highest in 3 million years. I explained these issues in previous postings on this blog so will not repeat them here. What else has been left out? Almost 5,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers in professional journals, identified by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, showing the claim that carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming is baseless.

One doesn’t need to be aware of all those shortcomings to realize the falsity of the global warming propaganda. It was sold to the public on grounds that the computer models on which it was based represented the real world. Reality has shown they do not. That is all you need to know. Eighteen years of no global warming—in the face of enormous increases in carbon dioxide emission—invalidate the global warming hypothesis. The U.S. government alone has wasted more than $165 billion since 1993 to combat global warming from carbon dioxide and caused many billions of dollars more to be wasted by the private sector.

One other item missing from the anti-global warming campaign is the role of the sun. It determines not only the earth’s climate but the carbon dioxide content of its atmosphere!

The sun’s radiation is varied by “sunspot cycles,” disturbances on the surface of the sun. Magnetic fields rip through the sun’s surface, producing holes in the sun’s corona, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and changes in the “solar wind,” the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and  the carbon dioxide level in the earth’s atmosphere. Sunspot cycles cause only slight changes in the sun’s radiation, but these changes are amplified many fold by interaction 1) with ozone in the upper stratosphere, and 2) with clouds in the lower troposphere. Clouds have a hundred times greater impact on climate and temperature than CO2.

“Cosmic radiation comes to the earth from the depths of the universe, ionizing atoms and molecules in the troposphere, and thus enabling cloud formation. When the sun’s activity is stronger, the solar magnetic field drives a part of cosmic radiation away from the earth, fewer clouds are formed in the troposphere, and the earth becomes warmer,” wrote N.D. Marsh and H. Svensmark, pioneers in this issue. The process was explained with eloquent simplicity by Theodore Landsheidt of Canada’s Schroeder Institute: “When the solar wind is strong and cosmic rays are weak, the global cloud cover shrinks. It expands when cosmic rays are strong because the solar wind is weak. This effect [is] attributed to cloud seeding by ionized secondary particles.” Or, as Zbigniew Jaworowski put it more poetically, “The sun opens and closes a climate-controlling umbrella of clouds over our heads.”

The sun also sets the carbon dioxide level in the earth’s atmosphere by the same process. Nigel Calder explains: “The sun sets the level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere by the cumulative effect of variations in the galactic cosmic rays reaching the earth, as modulated by the solar wind. My results leave no room for CO2 levels due to man-made CO2….nothing to do with emissions from factories or cars (emphasis added.)”

After about 210 years, sunspot cycles “crash” or almost entirely die out, and the earth can cool dramatically. These unusually cold periods last several decades. Of greatest concern to us is the Maunder Minimum, which ran from 1645 to 1715. (See It’s the Sun,Stupid for graphs and explanation.) Some years had no sunspots at all. The astronomer Sporer reported only 50 sunspots during a 30-year period, compared to 40,000, to 50,000 typical for that length of time.

In the year 2008 there were no sunspots at all on 266 days, an ominous indication of extreme cold weather for several decades despite all the BS about carbon dioxide.  While the believers in anthropological global warming usually try to make their case on a basis of a century or less of data covering the rise of industrialization (and fail), a prominent Russian solar physicist was looking elsewhere. Looking at 7,500 years of Maunder-type deep temperature drops, Habibullo Abdussamatov predicted a slow decline in temperatures would begin as early as 2012-2015 and lead to a deep freeze in 2050-2060 that will last about fifty years. In October 2013 he updated his earlier warning: “We are now on an unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop.”

Everyone knows the sun’s heating of the earth and atmosphere is uneven. We have all witnessed changes in the sun’s heat we receive throughout the day, that it is warmest in midday when the sun is directly overhead; and as the sun moves across the sky, new volumes of air are exposed to its heating while others are left behind. This uneven heating is the basis for wind currents. A similar process takes place in the oceans, creating ocean currents. According to NASA, “uneven heating from the sun drives the air and ocean currents that produce the Earth’s climate” (italics added)

While others were studying and propagandizing about carbon dioxide, Don Easterbrook, a geology professor and climate scientist, noticed a recurring pattern in an ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation going back to 1480. Every 25-30 years there was an alternation of warm and cool ocean cycles. In 2000 he concluded “the PDO said we’re due for a change,” and that happened. No global warming now for 18 years.

Nitrogen, oxygen and argon comprise more than 99 percent of our atmosphere. Water vapor and carbon dioxide are the next most abundant gases. Carbon Dioxide comprises 0.04 percent and is a weak greenhouse gas; water vapor, a strong one. Joseph D’Aleo, first direct of meteorology, the Weather Channel, offers this perspective, “If the atmosphere was a 100-story building, our annual anthropogenic (man-made) contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor.”

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi says only 1/50,000 of the air is man-made and carbon dioxide is “too trivial of a factor” to be of concern regarding global warming, that the whole argument is “tiresome and absurd…Warmists are living in a fantasy world.

“To those who say there is…a gas (which is only 1/2500th of an atmosphere in which the most prominent GHG [Greenhouse gas] is water vapor, and with oceans that have 1,000 times the heat capacity of the atmosphere) is somehow controlling all this (recall that we once had an ice age at 7,000 ppm CO2), you live in a fantasy world.

“Then again, men who have the fantasy of saving the planet by controlling others are indeed in their own world. It’s up to those grappling with the real facts to make sure that the world we live in is one that promotes freedom and the betterment of mankind, and not one controlled by those who believe they are superior to everyone else. This is where the real battle is, and not with a trace gas that has little if anything to do with the climate of a planet created and designed the way it was.”

We close with a quote from Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin: “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as a doubling of carbon dioxide.”

Categories: On the Blog