A research expedition to study the effects of global warming aboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen is on hold as the icebreaker is needed to do it’s primary job — break up ice.
According to a Coast Guard officer, the icy conditions are the “worst he’s seen in 20 years“:
A carefully planned, 115-day scientific expedition on board the floating research vessel, the CCGS Amundsen, has been derailed as the icebreaker was called to help resupply ships navigate heavy ice in Hudson Bay.
“Obviously it has a large impact on us,” says Martin Fortier, executive director of ArcticNet, which coordinates research on the vessel. “It’s a frustrating situation.”
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/arctic_ice_ship-e1437647911329.jpg360640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-23 06:39:172015-07-23 06:39:17Global Warming Expedition Stopped Because of Too Much Ice
Why does federal spending matter? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most fundamental is that free markets allocate resources better than governments because markets rely on price instead of politics. Many industries show this observation to be true, but the emerging field of “green banks” offers perhaps one of the clearest recent examples.
A green bank is a “public or quasi-public financing institution that provides low-cost, long-term financing support to clean, low-carbon projects by leveraging public funds…to attract private investment.” Right now, only a handful of green banks are scattered across Connecticut, California, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.
Free marketers rightly doubt whether public funds should be used to finance private startups. But regardless of where one stands in that debate, the states’ struggles serve as a valuable testing ground for future investments.
The State of Connecticut operates under a fairly significant budget deficit. California has been calculating its budgets without taking unfunded pension liabilities into account, and it’s gambling with its ability to service its debt. New York continues to live beyond its means. Rhode Island’s newest budget does little to rehabilitate its deficit spending addiction, and, despite having a balanced budget clause in its state constitution, Hawaii has a pattern of operating at a deficit.
In fact, a state solvency report released by the Mercatus Center has each of these five states ranked in the bottom third of the country, with their solvency described as either “low” or “poor.”
This all raises the question of whether these governments are able to find sound investment opportunities in the first place. Rhode Island couldn’t even identify a bad investment when baseball legend Curt Schilling wanted $75 million to make video games about something other than baseball!
Recently, though, there have been calls to extend the struggling green banking system to the federal level. Mark Muro and Reed Hundt at the Brookings Institute argued in favor of federal action in support of green banks. Somewhat paradoxically, they assert that demand for green banking institutions and the types of companies they finance is so strong that the existing state-based green banks cannot muster enough capital to meet demand.
Wherever there is potential for profit and a sound business plan, lending institutions are likely to be found, willing to relinquish a little capital for a consistent and reasonable rate of return. So where are the private lenders and other investment firms who have taken notice and are competing for the opportunity to provide loans to such highly sought-after companies and products?
Even assuming that there is demand for green banking services, recent experience shows that a federally-subsidized system would likely lead to inefficiency, favor trading, and failure. For instance, the Department of Energy Loan Program is designed to facilitate and aid clean energy startup companies. Its portfolio exceeds $30 billion, but following a series of bad investments like Solyndra, Inc., new loan guarantees have been few and far between. The program has already lost over $700 million.
Even the rosiest measurements do not show particularly exciting returns from this system. The Department of Energy itself estimates that over the lifetime of the loans it’s guaranteed, there exists the potential to see $5 billion in profit. However, those estimates also depend on the peculiar accounting methods the DoE itself employs.
This problem is apparent in other government sectors. For instance, determining how much profit the federal government makes off of student loans depends on who is asked. Some say none, while others say it’s in the billions. Gauging the economic impact or solvency of government programs is notoriously difficult, and different methods can yield what look like very different results. Add to that the consistently uncertain nature of the energy market, and profits are hardly guaranteed.
Examples abound of wasteful federal spending, and the growing green technology and renewable energy industry is no exception. The DoE Loan Program has already faced issues that go well beyond Solyndra: Abound Solar, a Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer, was given a $400 million DoE loan guarantee, only to later file for bankruptcy, potentially costing taxpayers $60 million. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 175,000 unit heliostat array in California, received a $1.6 billion federal loan and, because it failed to produce the amount of power estimated, was forced to later request more than$500 million in federal grants from the Treasury Department. A recent Taxpayers Protection Alliance study showed that risky investments in heavily subsidized solar energy could even lead to a bubble similar to the disastrous 2008 housing bubble.
Those who want to expand the government’s role in green banking likely want to see more clean and renewable energy reach the consumer market, and a lot of people probably applaud that goal — but the real question is whether the proposed means can reliably achieve that end. A wise manager with a solid business plan can find investors who will willingly take a chance. Considering the struggles of several states, trusting the federal government to build an even bigger system would exponentially increase that risk.
In contrast, the market offers opportunity to entrepreneurs in the green technology and renewable energy industries. For instance, GreatPoint Energy, a company specializing in clean coal, successfully went the route that other companies do: Design a product or service, find investors, and compete in the marketplace.
SolarCity, a California-based and publicly traded corporation of over 2,500 employees, entered the industry before many government loan programs were established. Thanks to a sound business model and subsequent horizontal and vertical expansion, it has become a leader in the industry. SolarCity’s success, however, cannot be touted by the Department of Energy’s Loan Program, which declined to invest in the company, leading SolarCity to try — and succeed — in finding private investment.
If GreatPoint or SolarCity had failed, only those who willingly participated in the startup would suffer the consequences. The issue with green banking — and indeed government “investments” more generally — is that taxpayers are not party to the negotiations but are the ones ultimately on the hook for failures.
In absolute terms, these billions of dollars are a lot of money. But in the grand scheme of government spending, the amount of money invested in green banks and renewable energy production is relatively small. If Social Security is the Atlantic Ocean, and wasteful defense appropriations are the Mediterranean, then green energy investments fall somewhere in the range of the Y-40 pool: easily measurable but certainly not insignificant.
Your odds of drowning may be smaller in the pool than the ocean, but that doesn’t make the drowning itself any more pleasant. The federal government is already under water; adding new liabilities on the hope that politicians can guess the future of energy is merely a step towards the deep end, not the ladder out.
Jonathan Bydlak is the founder and president of the Institute to Reduce Spending and the Coalition to Reduce Spending.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/wind-solar-power.jpg283460Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2015-07-22 17:20:112015-07-22 17:21:36“Green Banks” Will Drown in the Red by Jonathan Bydlak
On Tuesday, July 14, 2015 a photo provided by Karen Maudlin shows cars on the side of the road after a hailstorm near Rockerville, South Dakota. A brief but intense hailstorm Tuesday dropped as much as 4 inches of slippery pellets in a South Dakota city prompted officials to call out snowplows in the middle of summer.
“The Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned. A new study claims to have cracked predicting solar cycles – and says that between 2020 and 2030 solar cycles will cancel each other out. This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘Maunder minimum’ – which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715, even causing London’s River Thames to freeze over”, writes the Daily Mail.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Karen Maudlin via AP.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/HAIL-IN-SOUTH-DAKOTA.jpg277512Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-18 12:54:242015-07-18 12:54:24What Global Warming? Summer Hail Prompts use of Snowplows in South Dakota
Now more than ever, every time it rains, one Indiana farmer fears his land will be declared a federally-regulated body of water:
After a recent rainfall, Charlie Houin looked out over one of his cornfields in Marshall County as a clear stream of water flowed beneath him. With the summer’s high rain levels flooding fields, drainage systems and the streams that carry excess water away are crucial for farmers to maintain healthy crops.
But Houin, and farmers across the country, are now in a fight for control over these small waterways — battling a new rule in the Clean Water Act opponents say will be overly burdensome and costly to the agriculture industry.
[ … ]
Houin said he not only sees this as one of the EPA’s biggest land grabs in history, but he’s worried the permit process is going to be crippling when he needs to repair ditches, waterways and drainage systems for his farm. When you have only one chance a year at the planting season, he said, having farmland and waterways tied up in an approval process will be costly.
Worry about federal overreach isn’t limited to farmers and ranchers. Many other businesses also oppose the agencies’ regulatory overreach.
This has driven business groups to take EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to federal court.
The U.S. Chamber, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Portland Cement Association, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and the State Chamber of Oklahoma filed suit to stop the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) which dramatically expands the definition of federally-regulated “navigable waters” covered by the Clean Water Act.
They make the case that the water rule gives the federal government unprecedented and unconstitutional regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in the United States and undercuts state and local government sovereignty.
The plaintiff’s argue that the new waters definition goes beyond its authority under the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, because it “confers jurisdiction to the Agencies over waters that are not ‘navigable waters.'”
Under the Clean Water Act the federal government has jurisdiction over only “navigable waters.”
Initially that was defined as bodies of water where interstate transportation or commerce could take place. However, over the decades, the regulatory creep set in and that definition broadened from lakes and rivers bordering states (literally interstate waters) to include tributaries and wetlands that abut regulated water bodies. WOTUS is the latest expansion.
Through the water rule, “thousands of miles of intrastate waters that have no substantial effect on interstate commerce” are now under federal regulation, the plaintiffs note. This includes wetlands, streams, ditches, ponds, and bodies that only occasionally hold water.
This broad federal jurisdiction is what has farmers, ranchers, home developers, other businesses upset.
To understand the plaintiffs’ legal argument, you need to know about a 2006 Supreme Court case, Rapanos vs. United States. In it, the court established two tests for determining if a body of water falls under federal jurisdiction.
The first is “continuous surface connection.” In his plurality decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Clean Water Act requires that a body of water have a “continuous surface connection” to another federally-regulated body for federal regulators to have jurisdiction.
The second is “significant nexus,” found in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion. In order to be considered a navigable water, a body of water must “significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of “waters that are or were navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made.”
The water rule fails both tests, the plaintiffs explain:
[C]ountless waters, wetlands, and normally dry lands will be classified as ‘waters of the United States’ despite their complete detachment–both on a surface level and on a chemical, physical, and biological level–to any navigable water.
The Matrix Defense
One example of how EPA fails to meet these tests is by employing something I call the “Matrix Defense.” EPA claims it can determine a federally-regulated tributary to a body of water simply with the use of computer “desktop tools that provide for the hydrologic estimation of a discharge sufficient to create an ordinary high water mark.” Virtual reality trumps physical reality, as the filing explains:
“In other words, if a computer model suggests that a feature has enough flow to create a bed and bank and ordinary high water mark, the Agencies can determine that that feature is a ‘tributary,’ even if the physical indicators have not been observed in the field.”
Unfortunately for EPA, this tactic doesn’t satisfy either Justice Scalia’s continuous surface test or Justice Kennedy’s significant nexus test.
WOTUS is Unconstitutional
The water rule doesn’t just violate the Clean Water Act. The plaintiffs argue it also violates the 10th Amendment, which states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
State governments have the authority to regulate land and water in their states. The Clean Water Act affirms that states have “the primary responsibilities and rights … to plan the development and use … of land and water resources.”
However, with the water rule, the federal government claims regulatory authority over nearly every body of water in America. Waters, including ditches, canals, ponds, and wetlands, as far as 4,000 feet from a navigable water can be regulated by the federal government.
This violates the 10th Amendment. As the plaintiffs state:
The Supreme Court requires a ‘clear and manifest’ statement from Congress to authorize [such] an unprecedented intrusion into traditional state authority.
State and local government sovereignty gets squeezed as the federal government expands its reach.
EPA Avoided Looking at the Economic Effects on Small Businesses
Not only does the water rule conflict with the Constitution and the Clean Water Act, regulators didn’t follow the proper rulemaking process.
The plaintiffs point out that EPA ignored the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) which requires federal agencies to analyze the effects of proposed regulations on small businesses, organizations, and governments.
EPA claims it didn’t have to do this because the water rule “will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities,” and it “will not affect small entities to a greater extent than the existing regulations.”
[T]he Clean Water Act and the revised definition proposed in this rule directly determine permitting requirements and other obligations. It is unquestionable that small businesses will continue to seek permits under the Clean Water Act. Therefore they will be subject to the application of the proposed definition and the impacts arising from its application.
The “fundamentally flawed” rulemaking process drove SBA to ask EPA to “withdraw the rule and that the EPA conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before proceeding any further with this rulemaking.”
Finally, the water rule is too vague. If people can’t understand the regulation, how are they supposed to behave lawfully? The water rule “fails to provide fair notice of what conduct is prohibited by the civil and criminal provision of the Clean Water Act and grants overly broad enforcement discretion to” federal regulators, writes the plaintiffs.
To see how this applies in the real world, let’s go back to Charlie Houin’s story:
The water rule states that a “tributary must show physical features of flowing water — a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark — to warrant protection,” as well as connecting to a larger body of water.
Discussing the rules with The Tribune, Houin stood near one of his small waterways that, he said, he has always thought of as a ditch and has never had regulatory issues with. But based on the EPA’s definition, Houin’s small “ditch” could be considered as a tributary because it has continually flowing water that empties into the nearby Yellow River.
This is a major problem, [Justin Schneider, senior policy adviser for the Indiana Farm Bureau] said, because no matter what a farmer may think a waterway is, it comes down to the EPA’s interpretation. A farmer could be in violation and not realize it, he said, calling it “an issue with potential for big repercussions.” Beyond having to obtain expensive federal permits, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said farmers could face civil penalties up to $37,500 a day for violating the new rule.
Citizens “cannot reasonably determine based on the face of the relevant statutes and regulations what is required of them,” plaintiffs state.
Let’s step beyond how the water rule violates the Constitution and ignores federal law. It also will shower uncertainty over every property owner.
An economy can’t function effectively if people fear that taking some ordinary action like filling in a ditch will require costly permits or unleash the fury of federal regulators.
The easier path to take is to not invest in and improve one’s business. Don’t build an addition to a factory that could employ more people. Don’t build a housing development and increase the housing supply for families. Don’t touch that gully the rain cut in the corn field. Instead, let it go fallow.
That may satisfy a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., but it means frustration for Americans having to live under those rules.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a Holstein cow grazing by a pond in Lancaster, NH. Photo credit: Bloomberg.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/bloomberg_cow_pond_800px-e1437167703694.jpg426640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2015-07-17 17:16:352015-07-17 17:16:35What is the Legal Case Against EPA’s Water Rule?
Geothermal heating from within the Earth’s core – as opposed to the possibly warming air or sea – has been measured beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet for the first time ever. And, we are told, it is “surprisingly high.”
Exactly what the new geothermal heating figures mean for the forecasts remains to be seen, but it is clear that the amount of geothermal heating is a good bit more than scientists had thought. Some of them are still hoping that it’s a fluke result.
It’s all a very confusing picture, then, and to make it worse nobody until now has had any idea how much heat might be reaching the possibly-troubled West Antarctic sheet not from the somewhat warmer seas and atmosphere, but from the rock beneath it. — Lewis Page, The Register, 13 July 2015
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/Crabeater_Seals_in_Pléneau_Bay_Antarctica_6058603731.jpg426640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-16 09:39:212015-07-18 12:36:02Antarctic Ice Melting Due to ‘Geothermal heating’ from Earth’s core not Global Warming
“Crying Wolf: Exposing the Wolf Reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park” is an eye-opening exposé of the illegal introduction of non-native Gray Wolves to Yellowstone and beyond during the Clinton administration.
Film maker Jeff King grew up in the thick of the wolf controversy. This is the real true story from the people who lived it. The wolf on King’s film cover photo [right] was one caught less than a mile from the King family home when Jeff was a teenager.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/Gray+Wolf+Face-e1407707040736.jpg480640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-14 08:03:252015-07-17 10:02:55Film ‘Crying Wolf’: An Exposé on How Illegal Wolf Reintroduction has Harmed Nature and Mankind
It has become popular to demonise fossil fuels (FF). Pop stars, press, politicians and now Pontiffs speak with a single voice:
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition.
In this post I want to take a brief look at what FF have done for humanity and the environment. I will argue that in the 19th Century, FF first of all saved the whales from extinction and then through averting whole sale deforestation of the planet’s surface FF saved multiple ecosystems from destruction and as a consequence averted the extinction of thousands of species.
Figure 1 Population growth (blue line), right hand scale. Fossil fuel consumption (million tonnes oil equivalent) left hand scale. The exponential growth in population would not have been possible without FF. We all therefore owe the fabric of our society and our very existence to the use of FF over the past century or more.
Energy and Man
Every human being on Earth requires energy to survive (see list on Figure 1). Be it a handful of rice for the poorest Bangladeshi or the excesses of suburban life in the West, everything we do requires energy and in 2014 86% of that energy came from FF and 11% from legacy hydro and nuclear plant. Only 3% came from alternative sources. Worryingly, in a step back towards 19th century squalor, much of that 3% came from felling and burning forests.
Figure 2 This chart shows per capita productivity (a proxy for income) on the Y-axis and per capita energy consumption on the X-axis. The data for each country represent a time series starting in 1970 and normally progressing with time towards greater income and energy consumption. It is plain to see that there is great disparity in the per capita income and per capita energy consumption between countries. As a general rule, developing countries are striving to become wealthy like the OECD and hence show year on year growth in income AND energy consumption. See for example China, Turkey, Brazil and Belarus. To become more wealthy and more prosperous, in the common sense, requires us to use more energy.
It is simple and simplistic to make the argument that there should be a more equitable distribution of wealth and energy consumption. It is certainly rational to propose the reduction of waste and improved energy efficiency in the west. But competition and survival of the fittest is in our genes and makes us who we are. And there are certain benefits that flow from the wealthy to the poor, inoculation against deadly infectious diseases to name but one.
I am not arguing here in favour of greater polarisation of wealth but merely making the observation that it is a natural consequence of the socio economic models that appear to have served us well. I would warn against the growing politics of envy.
To become wealthy, the poor need access to clean drinking water, sanitation, food, and housing. All this requires energy and natural resources. The simplest and most economic way to provide this is through coal or gas fired power stations and the construction of electricity grids. To deny the poor access to FF is to condemn them to poverty for ever. It is fantasy to believe that the poor can be made wealthy (in the sense that the OECD is wealthy) by deployment of expensive and intermittent renewable energy. Like us, they may become wealthy only from using cheap, reliable and predictable energy supplies. This is not to say that there is no place for niche deployment of renewable energy in some developing countries.
Saving the Whales
During the 19th Century, global population doubled from approximately 0.8 to 1.6 billion (Figure 1). Throughout Europe and N America this coincided with a process of industrialisation, urbanisation and war. Resource consumption was on the rise and as we shall see in the following section forest timber was a key source of building material and fuel. But neither timber nor coal (at that time) could provide the light required in the cities that were being built and it is this niche that was filled by whale oil.
The production of whale oil grew exponentially from 1815 to 1845 and thereafter declined following a classic “Hubbert curve” (Figure 3). At the same time we know that whales were almost hunted to extinction and this is often held up as an example of over exploitation of a finite resource. Post-peak whale oil production saw prices rise and become volatile suggesting a continued demand for whale oil that could not be met by supply. But the market situation is made more complex by the fact that just in the nick of time for whales, rock oil was discovered in Pennsylvania in the 1850s. It was found that rock oil could be distilled into a number of fractions and that one of those, kerosene, was ideal as lamp oil.
Figure 3 The production of whale oil in the 19th Century follows a classic Hubbert curve with production dwindling as the stock of whales in the oceans was depleted. Chart source Ugo Bardi.
This represents one of the great energy substitutions of human society. It was to be short-lived since electric lighting would soon take over from kerosene where the electricity was provided by combusting coal. Note that I use the term substitution and not transition since there was a direct substitution of one energy source for the other and whales ceased to be a part of Man’s energy supply mix. Without the discovery and use of rock oil it seems likely that whales would have become extinct in the 19th Century.
Saving The Forests
Prior to the mid nineteenth Century the main fuel source used by Man was forest wood (Figure 4). Wood (biomass) continues to be an important fuel today throughout the developing world.
Figure 4 The development of Man’s energy supplies has seen the sequential addition of coal, oil, gas, hydro and nuclear to the energy mix. In discussing energy transition, it is wrong to assume that a new energy source replaces what went before. The main pattern is one of addition, not substitution or replacement. Data from Vaclav Smil and BP as compiled by Rembrandt Koppelaar.
Population growth and progressive industrialisation throughout Europe led to wholesale deforestation of the Continent (Figure 5). And then in the mid-nineteenth Century we learned how to burn and mine coal on a grand scale powering the industrial revolution. We can but speculate what might have occurred had this not happened. It seems likely that Europeans would have spread themselves around the globe plundering resources on an even grander scale than took place at that time.
Figure 5 Data on deforestation is hard to find. This slide from a surprisingly interesting presentation by Sir Mark Walport shows the impact of 2500 years of felling trees in Europe. It was to a large extent the quest for natural resources that sent Europeans around the World in the centuries that followed and that sent Adolf Hitler East in 1941. Our current system of international trade and financial deficits may be imperfect but it seems preferable to the system of plunder that it replaced.
What did happen is that we learned to use coal, then oil and natural gas and ultimately nuclear power. Harnessing the power of fossil fuels provided Man with energy slaves to do work on our behalf. It led directly to the progressive development of the highly sophisticated society we live in today where, life expectancy, health and comfort far exceed levels of 100 years ago for billions of souls. It allowed us to achieve this whilst largely abolishing slavery and ending our dependency on forest wood as a fuel.
When FF runs scarce in a country this can cause great harm to the environment as we saw in Indonesia in 2003. Indonesia was once a member of OPEC and exported oil. But owing to population growth, increased prosperity and then a down turn in oil production, Indonesia found itself facing oil imports. Donning a Green cloak, Indonesia turned to biofuels in the form of palm nut oil, and set about burning virgin rain forest and orang-utans to make way for the plantations.
Those who fail to see the staggering benefits brought to Man through using FF are blinded by dogma. Those who argue that FF should be phased out are making an argument to end prosperity for all.
The Population Paradox
Whilst I argue here, and many others have argued before me, that FF has enabled the human race to flourish, we have been so successful in doing so that over 7 billion souls on planet Earth is now viewed by many as the greatest threat to our continued existence. It is certainly true that there are a multitude of problems that are not evenly distributed about the Earth. These include water shortages, food shortages and malnutrition, air and water pollution, deforestation, social and civil unrest, spreading conflict, displaced persons, infectious diseases and their spread. These are all problems caused by too many people combined with inadequate social, political and economic structures to deal with a rapidly changing world. While certain aspects of air pollution in China and plastics pollution of ocean gyres may be attributed directly to FF, by and large FF are the solution to these problems, not their cause, for example creating clean water supplies and sanitation requires energy as does food production. It is a lack of energy and other resources that lies at the heart of many of the major issues that cause real hardship around the world. It is therefore a mark of extraordinary ignorance and stupidity to believe that withholding these resources may lead to solutions.
The problem of course is that we have become too successful at resolving these issues for many and that inevitably leads to more, not less people and a compounding of the very problems that we are attempting to resolve. Population controls are a subject ducked by virtually all OECD political leaders and organisations. Over population and poverty lies at the heart of many of the major issues confronting humanity and yet no one is prepared to confront this issue. It is certainly an extremely difficult issue to confront and not easily solved.
My own view is that natural evolutionary forces will see global population peak this century followed by decline. That is what the UN central forecast shows. This may happen via the spread of prosperity in some parts and by the spread of deprivation, disease, hunger and war in others. But what is widely viewed as a population problem, will resolve itself in response to various pressures. A falling global population will present a whole new set of problems for humanity that we will address when the time comes. There will be a growing acceptance that economic growth, welfare, free healthcare and pensions were all temporary aberrations made possible by abundant and cheap FF. As those resources run scarce this century humanity will struggle to maintain the living standards of the past. There is no need to artificially create a major trauma for humanity today by forced withdrawal from the FF era upon which virtually all of our prosperity is based.
An argument can be made for leaving some FF for future generations but that is not the argument being made by Green anti-capitalists.
Past Energy Transitions
Finally, a quick note about past energy transitions as illustrated in Figure 4. Let me repeat what Pope Francis had to say:
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas needs to beprogressively replaced without delay.
The first key observation from Figure 4 is that energy transition is via addition not substitution. In 150 years we have not replaced any of our major sources of energy with another at the system level. At the smaller scale oil fired power generation may have been replaced by coal and then by natural gas, but that merely freed up some oil or coal for use elsewhere. The second key observation is that “energy transition” has normally followed thermodynamic and economic laws where the new offered advantages over the old. It is therefore in my opinion sheer folly to believe and to propose that FF based technolgies can be replaced en-mass by much inferior, environment wrecking, more expensive renewable energy flows.
Figure 6 Millions visit the gold-plated Vatican every year, arriving in jet aircraft from all over the world, consuming vast amounts of oil and according to Pope Francis creating risks to the stability of Earth’s atmosphere.
Certain readers may read my bio and then seek to make scurrilous claims that I am somehow wedded to and supported by the FF industries. This is not true. I do however have holdings in certain oil companies and I do object to Green pressure groups trying to talk down the price of energy companies in general. My analysis and opinions are based upon my understanding of thermodynamics, economics and human society. Comments will be heavily moderated. I cannot lay claim to the truth. And so if anyone can demonstrate in a quantitative way how we can migrate away from FF to alternatives with anet benefit to society then please make your case.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Energy Matters. The featured image is of Prometheus best known as the deity in Greek mythology who was the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, who gifted mankind with fire stolen from Mount Olympus.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/prometheus-21.jpg410640John Droz, Jr.http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJohn Droz, Jr.2015-07-13 08:01:052015-07-13 08:05:56Fossil Fuels and Mankind by Euan Mearns
“The Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned. A new study claims to have cracked predicting solar cycles – and says that between 2020 and 2030 solar cycles will cancel each other out. This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘Maunder minimum’ – which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715, even causing London’s River Thames to freeze over”, writes the Daily Mail.
THE MAUNDER MINIMUM
The Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time. It caused London’s River Thames to freeze over, and ‘frost fairs’ became popular.
This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the ‘Little Ice Age’ when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes.
There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past, Nasa says. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research. Some scientists hypothesize that the dense wood used in Stradivarius instruments was caused by slow tree growth during the cooler period.
Instrument maker Antonio Stradivari was born a year before the start of the Maunder Minimum.
Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time. It is 172 years since a scientist first spotted that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. But every cycle is a little different and none of the models of causes to date have fully explained fluctuations.
EDITORS NOTE: The video above is copy-written property of Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Lindau does not endorse this publication or the use of this video. According to their terms (See end of video) they allow non-commercial sharing and embedding of this video.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/obama_big_brother_puppet.jpg371640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-11 12:48:262015-07-15 15:03:05The Climate Not Following Obama’s Global Warming Propaganda [+Videos]
Giaever, a former professor at the School of Engineering and School of Science Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received the 1973 physics Nobel for his work on quantum tunneling. Giaever delivered his remarks at the 65th Nobel Laureate Conference in Lindau, Germany, which drew 65 recipients of the prize. Giaever is also featured in the new documentary “Climate Hustle”, set for release in Fall 2015.
Giaever was one of President Obama’s key scientific supporters in 2008 when he joined over 70 Nobel Science Laureates in endorsing Obama in an October 29, 2008 open letter. Giaever signed his name to the letter which read in part: “The country urgently needs a visionary leader…We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.”
But seven years after signing the letter, Giaever now mocks President Obama for warning that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”. Giaever called it a “ridiculous statement.”
“That is what he said. That is a ridiculous statement,” Giaever explained.
The Nobel physicist questioned the basis for rising carbon dioxide fears.
“When you have a theory and the theory does not agree with the experiment then you have to cut out the theory. You were wrong with the theory,” Giaever explained.
Global Warming ‘a new religion’
Giaever said his climate research was eye opening. “I was horrified by what I found” after researching the issue in 2012, he noted.
“Global warming really has become a new religion. Because you cannot discuss it. It’s not proper. It is like the Catholic Church.”
Concern Over ‘Successful’ UN Climate Treaty
“I am worried very much about the [UN] conference in Paris in November. I really worry about that. Because the [2009 UN] conference was in Copenhagen and that almost became a disaster but nothing got decided. But now I think that the people who are alarmist are in a very strong position,” Giaever said.
“The facts are that in the last 100 years we have measured the temperatures it has gone up .8 degrees and everything in the world has gotten better. So how can they say it’s going to get worse when we have the evidence? We live longer, better health, and better everything. But if it goes up another .8 degrees we are going to die I guess,” he noted.
“I would say that the global warming is basically a non-problem. Just leave it alone and it will take care of itself. It is almost very hard for me to understand why almost every government in Europe — except for Polish government — is worried about global warming. It must be politics.”
“So far we have left the world in better shape than when we arrived, and this will continue with one exception — we have to stop wasting huge, I mean huge amounts of money on global warming. We have to do that or that may take us backwards. People think that is sustainable but it is not sustainable.
On Global Temperatures & CO2
Giaever noted that global temperatures have halted for the past 18 plus years. [Editor’s Note: Climate Depot is honored that Giaever used an exclusive Climate Depot graph showing the RSS satellite data of an 18 year plus standstill in temperatures at 8:48 min. into video.]
Giaever accused NASA and federal scientists of “fiddling” with temperatures.
“They can fiddle with the data. That is what NASA does.”
“You cannot believe the people — the alarmists — who say CO2 is a terrible thing. Its not true, its absolutely not true,” Giaever continued while showing a slide asking: ‘Do you believe CO2 is a major climate gas?’
“I think the temperature has been amazingly stable. What is the optimum temperature of the earth? Is that the temperature we have right now? That would be a miracle. No one has told me what the optimal temperature of the earth should be,” he said.
“How can you possibly measure the average temperature for the whole earth and come up with a fraction of a degree. I think the average temperature of earth is equal to the emperor’s new clothes. How can you think it can measure this to a fraction of a degree? It’s ridiculous,” he added.
Giaever accused Nature Magazine of “wanting to cash in on the [climate] fad.”
“My friends said I should not make fun of Nature because then they won’t publish my papers,” he explained.
“No one mentions how important CO2 is for plant growth. It’s a wonderful thing. Plants are really starving. They don’t talk about how good it is for agriculture that CO2 is increasing,” he added.
Extreme Weather claims
“The other thing that amazes me is that when you talk about climate change it is always going to be the worst. It’s got to be better someplace for heaven’s sake. It can’t always be to the worse,” he said.
“Then comes the clincher. If climate change does not scare people we can scare people talking about the extreme weather,” Giaever said.
“For the last hundred years, the ocean has risen 20 cm — but for the previous hundred years the ocean also has risen 20 cm and for the last 300 years, the ocean has also risen 20 cm per 100 years. So there is no unusual rise in sea level. And to be sure you understand that I will repeat it. There is no unusual rise in sea level,” Giaever said.
“If anything we have entered period of low hurricanes. These are the facts,” he continued.
“You don’t’ have to even be a scientist to look at these figures and you understand what it says,” he added.
“What people say is not true. I spoke to a journalist with [German newspaper Die Welt yesterday…and I asked how many articles he published that says global warming is a good thing. He said I probably don’t publish them at all. Its always a negative. Always,” Giever said.
“They say refugees are trying to cross the Mediterranean. These people are not fleeing global warming, they are fleeing poverty,” he noted.
“If you want to help Africa, help them out of poverty, do not try to build solar cells and windmills,” he added.
“Are you wasting money on solar cells and windmills rather than helping people? These people have been misled. It costs money in the end to that. Windmills cost money.”
“Cheap energy is what made us so rich and now suddenly people don’t want it anymore.”
“People say oil companies are the big bad people. I don’t understand why they are worse than the windmill companies. General Electric makes windmills. They don’t tell you that they are not economical because they make money on it. But nobody protests GE, but they protest Exxon who makes oil,” he noted.
Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, 2011 in disgust over the group’s promotion of man-made global warming fears.
Giaever is featured on page 89 of the 321 page of Climate Depot’s more than 1000 dissenting scientist report (updated from U.S. Senate Report). Dr. Giaever was quoted declaring himself a man-made global warming dissenter. “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion,” Giaever declared. “I am Norwegian, should I really worry about a little bit of warming? I am unfortunately becoming an old man. We have heard many similar warnings about the acid rain 30 years ago and the ozone hole 10 years ago or deforestation but the humanity is still around,” Giaever explained. “Global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important. We don’t really know what the actual effect on the global temperature is. There are better ways to spend the money,” he concluded.
Giaever also told the New York Times in 2010 that global warming “can’t be discussed — just like religion…there is NO unusual rise in the ocean level, so what where and what is the big problem?”
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/obama-arm-up-open-mouth.jpg460640Marc Moranohttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngMarc Morano2015-07-08 06:16:562015-07-08 06:17:54Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Says President Obama is ‘Ridiculous’ and ‘Dead Wrong’ on ‘Global Warming’
Some may say there is only circumstantial evidence and others may say it is just a coincidence, however, the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio that presented Agenda 21 and introduced sustainable development to the world as the solution to save the planet from man made global warming likely would not have happened if the Soviet Union continued to be the main rival to America and Western Civilization.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/Its-easy-being-green-when-you-have-no-choice.jpg333640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-02 11:09:072015-07-02 11:09:07VIDEO: It’s Easy Being Green When You Have No Choice
The Collier County School Board has drawn fire for showing the controversial film Disruption: A Call To Act On Climate Change.
Doug Lewis, a parent with a child in the Collier County public schools, wrote the School Board in an email dated May 27th, 2015:
I trust that you can appreciate my concerns as a father pertaining to the use of this [Disruption: A Call To Act On Climate Change] video that (in my opinion and by any fair measure) clearly tends to indoctrinate him and the viewers to a particular point of view. It even goes beyond this by calling my son and other viewers to do three (3) specific things to act on the controversial issues presented in the video.
As you know, Policy 2240 provides that, “a controversial issue is a topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion or likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community.”
The video Disruption: A Call to Act on Climate Change (click on the following link to see the ENTIRE video for your-self (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQsIErJ7-yk), contains many controversial issues and was shown to my son (and I presume other Collier County public school students) without any prior parent notice or parent consent.
Collier County School Board Policy 2240 states:
“The School Board will permit the introduction and proper educational use of controversial issues provided that their use in the instructional program: A. is related to the instructional goals of the course of study and level of maturity of the students; B. does not tend to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view; C. encourages open-mindedness and is conducted in a spirit of scholarly inquiry. [Emphasis added]
After reviewing the controversial video Lewis noted:
For example, the issue of whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline should be supported is clearly a controversial issue under [School Board] Policy 2240. Also, the issue of whether or not we should demand that our nation gets off fossil fuels now is clearly a controversial issue under [School Board] Policy 2240. However, the video attacks the Keystone XL pipeline and encourages its viewers (in this instance, Collier County public school children) to get to work and to get in the street and stand up and say “no more.” Further, the video promotes the anti-fossil fuel social movement and calls for the globe to “get off fossil fuels now.” By any fair measure, this video tends to indoctrinate and persuade students to a particular point of view.
A significant contributor in the video is a man with known communist ties named Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones. He is perhaps the last person that Collier County parents would want teaching their school children at taxpayer expense. Mr. Van Jones is himself a controversial figure.
The video concludes with a demand for action from Collier County students. Its viewers (in this instance, Collier County public school children) were asked to do three things:
Here is what you can do right now…. “join the march www.peoplesclimate.org (by the way this organization is organizing for future marches and events of civil disobedience),
Send a message to Text DISRUPT to 97779,
and Share this video.
Lewis asks, “On what legal basis, can this School Board permit, at taxpayer expense, my son and Collier County children to be invited in the classroom and during the video to join this radical organization and participate in and facilitate civil disobedience/public protests on these controversial issues? In view of the foregoing and Policy 2240, on what basis did the School Board permit the introduction of this video containing many controversial issues?”
EDITORS NOTE: To date Mr. Lewis has not received a reply from the Collier County School Board on the showing of Disruption: A Call To Act On Climate Change. We will update this column as new information becomes available.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/collier-county-school-logo.jpg394639Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-07-01 07:18:392015-07-01 07:36:40Collier County, FL: Climate Propaganda Video Shown to Students – Demands Action
Effective immediately, the Orlando, Florida based Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC), a leader in climate prediction, has dropped the US government’s ground based global temperature data from its list of reliable sources.
This significant step has been made by the SSRC after extensive review of the U.S. government’s ground temperature data and its wide divergence from more reliable sources of climate data, namely satellite systems.
The SSRC has found multiple flaws that it says render the U.S. government’s climate data virtually unusable. The SSRC has further observed that the U.S. government and specifically, President Barack Obama, have routinely deceived the people regarding the true status of the Earth’s climate, its causes, and where the global climate is heading.
In the past, the SSRC has used five global temperature data sets, three ground based (NOAA, NASA and HADCRUT) and two satellite data sets (RSS, UAH). These data sets are analyzed and an integrated picture of all five allows the SSRC to produce its semi-annual Global Climate Status Report (GCSR). HADCRUT is a combined set from two UK science groups.
As of today, the SSRC will no longer use the ground based data sets of NASA and NOAA because of serious questions about their credibility and allegations of data manipulation to support President Obama’s climate change policies. Use of HADCRUT will also be suspended on similar grounds.
According to SSRC President, Mr. John L. Casey:
It is clear that during the administration of President Barack Obama, there has developed a culture of scientific corruption permitting the alteration or modification of global temperature data in a way that supports the myth of man-made global warming. This situation has come about because of Presidential Executive Orders, science agencies producing unreliable and inaccurate climate reports, and also with statements by the President about the climate that are patently false.
For example, the President has said that global warming is not only a global threat but that it is “accelerating” (Georgetown Univ. June 2015). Further, he has said that “2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record” (State of the Union Address, January 2015). Both these statements are simply not true. He has also publicly ridiculed those who have correctly stated that there has been no global warming for eighteen years therefore nullifying any need for US government actions to control greenhouse gas emissions for any reason. Climate mendacity seems to be the rule and not the exception in this administration.
As a result, the U.S. government’s apparently politically manipulated ground based temperature data sets can no longer be regarded as credible from a climate analysis standpoint. Until scientific integrity is restored in the White House and the rest of the federal government, we will henceforth be forced to rely solely on satellite measurements.
Most disturbing of course, is that the President has failed to prepare the country for the difficult times ahead as a result of the ominous changes taking place on the Sun. Not only is the Sun the primary agent of climate change, but it is now cutting back on life giving warmth, bringing a new cold climate period. We will all face a more difficult future, one which the President is ensuring we will be totally unprepared for.
Dr. Ole Humlum, a Professor of Physical Geology at the University of Oslo, Norway and an expert of global glacial activity, is the co-editor of the SSRC’s Global Climate Status Report (GCSR). He adds to Mr. Casey’s comment with:
“It is regrettable to see the politically forced changing of temperature data which will of course lead to the wrong conclusions about the causes and effects of climate change. Recently, NOAA indicated that May 2015 was the warmest May since 1880. Yet, this cannot be verified by satellite measurements which show that May was in the average range for the month over the past ten years. Also, on page 41 of the June 10, 2015 GCSR, we noted that the temperature spread between ground based and satellite based data sets, has now widened to a point that is problematic. The average in degrees Centigrade among the three ground based sets shows a 0.45 C warming in temperature since 1979. For the more reliable satellite systems, it is only 0.17 C warming. This 264% (0.45/0.17) differential is scientifically unacceptable and warrants ending the reliance on the ground based data sets until some independent investigation of the variance resolves the matter. While the use of satellite data only, will limit the depth of quality of the Global Climate Status Report, it will at the same time allow us to still provide the best available climate assessment and climate predictions possible using only the most reliable data.”
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/unreliability1.jpg324640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2015-06-29 10:20:562015-06-29 10:20:56Government Climate Data Found Unreliable
The memo told me to get rid of my printer — or the college would confiscate it.
The sustainability director — let’s call him Kermit — is an enthusiastic and otherwise likable fellow whose office is next door to mine. Kermit had decided it would be better if the centralized network printers in each department were used for all print jobs. He believed that the environment was going to benefit from this printer impoundment.
Some sustainability advocates object to printers because little plastic ink cartridges sometimes wind up in landfills — but I saw no effort at the college to promote cartridge recycling; the sustainability policy had skipped persuasion and gone straight to confiscation.
Certainly the IT people didn’t want to maintain the wide variety of desktop printers or supply them with cartridges — but the printer on my desk was not college-supplied or maintained, and I provided all my own cartridges. Personal printers were now verboten. Period. The driver behind the policy, apparently, was the rectangular transformer box plugged into the wall, which consumed a trickle of a few watts of electricity 24/7.
A typical household inkjet printer draws about 12 watts when printing, and when it’s not, it draws about 5 watts. At 5 watts per hour, then, with a few minutes a week burning 12 watts, my lightly used inkjet would use around 46 kWh a year, which at the commercial average rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour translates to an annual cost of $5.06. There may be side effects, or externalities, to use a term from economics. A 2011 study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciencesthat renewable energy advocates often cite estimates that the side effects of coal-produced electricity cost about 18 cents per kWh, so assuming that all the electricity saved would have been produced by burning coal (nationwide, it’s actually less than 40 percent), that brings the total annual cost to $13.34.
Kermit must have calculated that confiscating printers would collectively generate several hundred dollars a year of savings for the college — and allow the college to put another line on its sustainability brag sheet.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to save electricity. But Kermit had forgotten the value of an important natural resource: human time.
Time is a valuable resource: labor costs are a large chunk of most businesses’ costs. The college basically wanted to save electricity by wasting my time — and everyone else’s.
Here’s how that works. Suppose I want to print out a recommendation letter and envelope on college letterhead. Using the network printer involves the following steps:
Walk down hall with letterhead and insert letterhead in single-feed tray.
Return to office.
Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
Discover that page was oriented the wrong way and printed upside down.
Return to office.
Walk back to printer with new letterhead page.
Return to office.
Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
Discover that someone else had sent a job to the printer while I was in transit and printed his test on my letterhead.
Return to office.
Walk back to printer with new letterhead page.
Wait for other guy’s print job to finish.
Insert letterhead, properly oriented.
Run back to office to reduce chances of letterhead being turned into another test.
Hit Enter and walk back to printer.
Pick up successfully printed letter.
Walk back to office, quietly weeping at the thought of repeating the process to print the envelope.
This “savings” turns into more than 12 trips to and from the communal printer, plus any time spent waiting for another print job. The environmentalist may bemoan the two wasted sheets of paper, but he would quickly remember that there’s a recycling bin beside the printer. The more significant cost of this little fiasco is human time.
Let’s suppose that’s a total of six minutes. Of course, I’ve learned the right way to orient paper and envelopes after a mistake or two, and printer congestion is rarely a problem. And I never did higher-volume print jobs, such as tests for classes, on my own inkjet anyway, so the lost time in trotting back and forth would apply mainly to one- or two-sheet print jobs, envelopes, and scanning. Suppose the confiscation of my inkjet means, conservatively, five additional minutes a week during the school year. That’s about three hours a year sucked out of my life, absorbed in walking back and forth.
Suppose, again to be conservative, my time is worth what fast food restaurant workers in Seattle are getting paid right now — $15 per hour. So the university is wasting $45 of my salary to save $13.34 in utilities. Does that sound like the diligent stewardship of precious resources?
(I will assume that any health benefits from the additional walking are canceled out by the additional stress caused by sheer aggravation.)
I am pleased to say that the desktop printer kerfuffle ended with the sustainability director backing down. We were all allowed to keep our printers, and I thereby kept three hours a year to do more productive work. Kermit and I remained on good terms, though he never took me up on my offer to provide an economist’s voice on the sustainability committee.
But we must make the most of small victories, for college and university sustainability proponents march on undeterred. If anything, the boldness and scale (and the waste) of campus initiatives has only increased. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) recently released a report showing that colleges trying to reduce their environmental impact have spent huge amounts of money on sustainability programs for little to no gain.
The unintended consequences of these programs abound. And though each initiative may destroy only a small amount of human time, the collective impact of these microregulations is a death by a thousand cuts.
Many college cafeterias are now “trayless,” in the hopes of reducing dish use and wasted food. But students must manage unwieldy loads of dishes, leading to inevitable spills, or make multiple trips (and student time is valuable, too). One study mentioned in the NAS report found that “students without trays tend to run out of hands and to skip extra dishes — usually healthy dishes such as salads — in order to better carry their entrée and dessert. This leads to students consuming relatively fewer greens and more sweets.”
A college’s “carbon footprint” has also become the object of campus policy. Middlebury College, for example, pledged in 2006 that it would be “carbon neutral” by 2016. So it has spent almost $5 million a year (over $2,000 per student) on things like a biomass energy plant, organic food for the dining hall, and staff and faculty tasked with improving sustainability. All of this has cost the college about $543 per ton of CO2 reduction. So even if one accepts the $39 per ton figure the Obama administration has stated as the value of reducing carbon dioxide emissions (and I, for one, am skeptical), Middlebury has greatly overpaid.
We can all appreciate the desire to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. But this doesn’t mean that every environmental sustainability initiative makes sense. Overpaying to reduce CO2 emissions, as with Middlebury, means that the product of hours of our work is needlessly consumed, and we have fewer resources for other valuable pursuits.
Sustainability advocates need to remember that resources include more than electricity, water, plastic, paper, and the like. Humans have value, too, here and now. Chipping away at our lives with little directives to expend several hours saving a bit of electricity, water, or some other resource, is to ignore the value of human life and to waste what Julian Simon called “the ultimate resource.”
Timothy Terrell is associate professor of economics at Wofford College in South Carolina.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/brain-watch-graphic-e1435074863478.jpg317640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2015-06-23 11:54:522015-06-23 11:54:52Unsustainable: Little Ways Environmentalists Waste the Ultimate Resource by Timothy D. Terrell
Paganism as a distinct and separate religion may perhaps be said to have died, although, driven out of the cities, it found refuge in the countryside, where it lingered long — and whence, indeed, its very name is derived. In a very real sense, however, it never died at all. It was only transformed and absorbed into Christianity. – James Westfall Thompson, An Introduction to Medieval Europe
In 2003, science-fiction writer Michael Crichton warned a San Francisco audience about the sacralization of the environment. Drawing an analogy between religion and environmentalism, Crichton said:
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all.
We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
This analogy between religion and environmentalism is no longer a mere analogy.
Pope Francis, the highest authority in the Catholic Church — to whom many faithful look for spiritual guidance — has now fused church doctrine with environmental doctrine.
Let’s consider pieces of his recently released Encyclical Letter. One is reminded of a history in which the ideas of paganism (including the worship of nature) were incorporated into the growing medieval Church.
Excerpts from Pope Francis are shown in italics.
This sister protests the evil that we provoke, because of the irresponsible use and of the abuse of the goods that God has placed in her. We grew up thinking that we were its owners and rulers, allowed to plunder it.
Notice how Pope Francis turns the earth into a person. Sister. Mother. This kind of anthropomorphic trope is designed to make you think that, by virtue of driving your car, you’re also smacking your sibling. We’ve gone from “dominion over the animals and crawling things” to “plundering” our sister.
The violence that exists in the human heart wounded by sin is also manifested in the symptoms of the disease we feel in soil, water, air and in the living things. Therefore, among the most abandoned and ill treated poor we find our oppressed and devastated Earth, which “moans and suffers the pains of childbirth” [Romans 8:22].
First, if the state of the soil, water and air and living things is indeed symptomatic of our violent, sinful hearts, then the good news is that sin is on the decline. On every dimension the Pope names, the symptoms of environmental harm are getting better all the time — at least in our decadent capitalist country.
There are forms of pollution which affect people every day. The exposure to air pollutants produces a large spectrum of health effects, in particular on the most poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.
This will always be true to some degree, of course, but it’s less true than any time in human history. Pope Francis fails to acknowledge the tremendous gains humanity has made. For example, human life expectancy in the Paleolithic period (call this “Eden”) was 33 years. Life expectancy in the neolithic period was 20 years. Globally, life expectancy is now more than 68 years, and in the West, it is passing 79 years.
Yes, there is pollution, and, yes, the poor are affected by it. But the reason why the poor are affected most by air pollution is because they’re poor — and because they don’t have access to fossil fuel energy. Pope Francis never bothers to draw the connection between wealth and health because he thinks of both production and consumption as sinful. Brad Plumer writes at Vox,
About 3 billion people around the world — mostly in Africa and Asia, and mostly very poor — still cook and heat their homes by burning coal, charcoal, dung, wood, or plant residue in their homes. These homes often have poor ventilation, and the smoke can cause all sorts of respiratory diseases.
The wealthy people of the West, including Pope Francis, don’t suffer from this problem. That’s because liberal capitalist countries — i.e., those countries who “plunder” their sister earth — do not suffer from energy poverty. They do not suffer from inhaling fumes and particulate matter from burning dung becausethey are “sinful,” because they are capitalist.
See the problem? The Pope wants to have it both ways. He has confused the disease (unhealthy indoor air pollution) with the cure (cheap, clean, abundant and mass-produced energy from fossil fuels).
Add to that the pollution that affects all, caused by transportation, by industrial fumes, by the discharge of substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, by fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and toxic pesticides in general. The technology, which, connected to finance, claims to be the only solution to these problems, in fact is not capable of seeing the mystery of the multiple relationships which exist between things, and because of this, sometimes solves a problem by creating another.
It is strange to read admonitions from someone about the “multiple relationships that exist between things,” only to see him ignore those relationships in the same paragraph. Yes, humans often create problems by solving others, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t solve the problems. It just means we should solve the big problems and then work on the smaller ones.
Solving problems even as we discover different problems is an inherent part of the human condition. Our creativity and innovation and struggle to overcome the hand nature has dealt us is what makes us unique as a species.
Perhaps this is, for Pope Francis, some sort of Green Original Sin: “Thou shalt just deal with it.” But to the rest of us, it is the means by which we live happier, more comfortable lives here under the firmament.
The Earth, our home, seems to turn more and more into a huge garbage dump. In many places on the planet, the elderly remember with nostalgia the landscapes of the past, which now appear to be submerged in junk.
If you get your understanding of waste management and the environment from the movie Wall-E, then you might have the impression that we’re burying our sister in garbage. But as the guys over at EconPop have pointed out, land used for waste management is also governed by laws of supply and demand — which means entrepreneurs and innovators are finding better and less expensive ways to reuse, reduce, recycle, and manage our waste.
The industrial waste as well as the chemicals used in cities and fields can produce an effect of bio-accumulation in the bodies of the inhabitants of neighboring areas, which occurs even when the amount of a toxic element in a given place is low. Many times one takes action only when these produced irreversible effects on people’s health.
People, on net, are living longer and healthier than they ever have in the history of our species. What evidence does the Holy Father have that irreversible effects on people’s health rises to the level of an emergency that demands drafting in a papal encyclical? And why focus on the costs of “chemicals” without a single mention of overwhelming their human benefit? Indeed, which chemicals? This kind of sloppy thinking is rather unbecoming of someone who is (we are constantly reminded) a trained chemist.
Certain substances can have health effects, but so can failing to produce the life-enhancing goods in the first place. The answer is not to beg forgiveness for using soaps and plastics (or whatever), but to develop the institutions that prevent people and companies from imposing harmful costs onto others without taking responsibility for it.
The key is to consider the trade-offs that we will face no matter what, not to condemn and banish “impure” and unnatural substances from our lives.
These issues are intimately linked to the culture of waste, affecting so much the human beings left behind when the things turn quickly into trash.
Now we’re getting somewhere. This is where Pope Francis would like to add consumerism to production on the list of environmentally deadly sins.
Let us realize, for example, that most of the paper that is produced is thrown away and not recycled.
Heaven forfend! So would Pope Francis have us burn fossil fuels to go around and collect processed pulp? Is he unaware that demand for paper is what drivesthe supply of new trees? We aren’t running out of trees because we throw away paper. The Pope’s plan sounds like it could have been hatched in Berkeley, California, instead of Vatican City. And yet worlds have collided.
Mandatory recycling, by definition, takes material that would not be recycled voluntarily, diverts it from the waste stream, and handles it several times before using it again in a way that wastes resources.
The only explanation for this behavior that I can think of is a religious ceremony, a sacrifice of resources as a form of worship. I have no problem if people want to do that. As religions go, it is fairly benign. Butrequiring that religious sacrifice of resources is a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
Well, Professor Munger, this is the Pope we’re talking about.
We find it hard to admit that the operation of natural ecosystems is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients that feed the herbivores; these in turn feed the carnivores, which provide a lot of organic waste, which give rise to a new generation of plants. In contrast, the industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the ability to absorb and reuse waste and slag.
Where is the evidence for this? These are matters of faith, indeed. All this time I thought the industrial system did have the ability to absorb and reuse waste: It’s called the system of prices, property, and profit/loss. The problem is not that such a “recycling” system doesn’t exist, it’s that corruption and government distorts the system of property, prices and profit/loss so that our economic ecosystem doesn’t operate as it should.
Indeed, when you have the Pope suggesting we burn gas to save glass, you have to wonder why the industrial system is so messed up. A system that “requires us to limit the use of non-renewable resources, to moderate consumption, to maximize the efficiency of the exploitation, to reuse and to recycle,” is called the market. And where it doesn’t exist is where you’ll find the worst instances of corruption and environmental degradation.
Then, of course, there’s climate change. In the interests of brevity I won’t quote the whole thing. But here’s the punchline, which might have been plucked straight from the IPCC Summary for Policymakers:
Climate change is a global problem with serious environmental, social, economic, distribution and policy implications, and make up one of the main current challenges for humanity. The heaviest impacts will probably fall in the coming decades upon developing countries.
Meanwhile, the biggest benefits of burning more carbon-based fossil fuels will accrue the poorest billions on earth. The Pope should mention that if he really has their interests at heart or in mind.
But many symptoms indicate that these effects could get worse if we continue the current patterns of production and consumption.
“Patterns of production and consumption”? This is a euphemism for wealth creation. What is wealth except production and consumption of resources to further human need and desire?
His suggested cure for our dangerous patterns of wealth creation, of course, is good ole demand-side management. Wiser, more enlightened minds (like his, he hopes) will let you know which light bulbs to buy, what sort of car to drive, and which insolvent solar company they’ll “invest” your money in. You can even buy papal indulgences in the form of carbon credits. As the late Alexander Cockburn wrote,
The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. … Devoid of any sustaining scientific basis, carbon trafficking is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed, just like the old indulgences, though at least the latter produced beautiful monuments.
But the most important thing to realize here is that the “current” patterns of production and consumption are never current. The earthquakes of innovation and gales of creative destruction blow through any such observed patterns. The price system, with its lightning-quick information distribution mechanism is far, far superior to any elites or energy cronies. And technological innovation, though we can’t predict just how, will likely someday take us as far away from today’s energy status quo, just as we have moved away from tallow, whale oil, and horse-drawn carriages.
The Pope disagrees with our rose-tinted techno-optimism, saying “some maintain at all costs the myth of progress and say that the ecological problems will be solved simply by new technical applications.”
The Pope sits on his golden throne and looks over the vast expanse of time and space — from hunter-gatherers running mammoths off cliffs to Americans running Teslas off electric power, from the USA in 1776 and 2015, from England before and after the Industrial Revolution, from Hong Kong and Hiroshima in 1945 to their glorious present — and sneers: progress is a myth, environmental problems can’t be fixed through innovation, production is destroying the earth, consumption is original sin.
Innovation is the wellspring of all progress. Policies to stop or undo innovation in energy, chemistry, industry, farming, and genetics are a way to put humanity in a bell jar, at best. At worst they will put some of us in the dark and others in early graves. They are truly fatal conceits.
And yet, the Pope has faith in policymakers to know just which year we should have gotten off the train of innovation. William F. Buckley famously said conservatives “stand athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’” Greens are similar, except they’re yelling “Go back!”
Therefore it has become urgent and compelling to develop policies so that in the coming years the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases is reduced drastically, for instance by replacing fossil fuels and by developing renewable energy sources.
I reflect again on the notion that this effort might be just another way of the Church embracing and extending a competitor religion. Then again, Pope Francis so often shows that he is a true and faithful green planner. In an unholy alliance with those who see the strategic benefit in absorbing environmentalism, the Holy Father has found the perfect way to restore the power of the Church over politics, economics, culture, and the state to its former glory.
Max Borders is the editor of the Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.
Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/vatican-e1434989477829.jpg317640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2015-06-22 12:16:232015-06-22 12:20:39The New Paganism? The Case against Pope Francis’s Green Encyclical by Max Borders
For some years now I have publicly praised the work of the Heartland Institute for leading the attack against the fraud of the anthropogenic global warming movement.
Based on criticism the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) received from Heartland the day after our June 8, 2015 press release, it would seem my praise has been misdirected.
The June 9, 2015 ‘shoot-from-the-hip’ opinion by members of the Heartland Institute (HI), about the important SSRC press release, demonstrates what I believe is a patent lack of credibility and bad scientific judgment on the part of the institute.
The article was written by HI ‘expert’ Alan Caruba with comments by HI Science Director Dr. Jay Lehr. See the article at Mr. Caruba’s site at Facts Not Fantasy. They jointly recommended that people be “extremely skeptical” of the SSRC press release.
The SSRC press release and the semi-annual GCSR were a culmination of a number of other papers from the sister company of the SSRC, the International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center (IEVPC). As well, leading edge climate research from the SSRC over the past eight years was included. Several PhD experts in seismology and solar induced climate change were directly involved in the research in the GCSR that supported the assertion of the press release – that a potentially dangerous era of increased geophysical activity – major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has begun.
The press release not only contained a general U.S. wide alert, but also referenced a letter sent to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, asking that he begin to prepare the US for what the science says is coming. In these documents, the SSRC specifically indicated another major earthquake is highly probable in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) between St. Louis and Memphis. The time frame for the next catastrophic quake to strike was determined to be 2017 to 2038.
The Caruba-Lehr explanation seems to be that they have accepted the current USGS position that no one can predict earthquakes. The USGS position was born out of their singular attempt and failure to predict an earthquake in Parkfield, California between 1985 and 1993. This has led to a global scientific barrier to advancements in earthquake prediction based on the belief that if the USGS cannot do it, then no one else can, or should try!
Beyond that, the HI article has many fundamental errors that should not go unmentioned:
Neither Mr. Caruba nor Dr. Lehr have any research background in seismology or climate science and are thus unqualified to render such important opinions as they have about the SSRC press release. Though a well published author in ground water hydrology, the public record shows Dr. Lehr has done nothing in the relevant fields of seismology, or climate science, much less solar effects on the Earth’s climate. Mr. Caruba’s choice of someone with no apparent credentials or history of scientific achievement in the fields being discussed is like asking a brain surgeon to do his first heart transplant operation on you. Everyone should demand a ‘second opinion’ here.
The criticism by HI completely ignores the decades of experience and success achieved in the fields of seismology and climate science found within the careers of the authors of the research cited.
The HI assault on the credibility of the SSRC and the IEVPC comes from Dr. Lehr and Mr. Caruba without either of them even reading the research! The research was not posted in the GCSR until two days after they issued their critical article. This is an unforgivable failure in making a scientific decision on any subject, especially one where so many lives are at stake. This is de facto bad scientific judgment. One has to ask is this typical of how decisions at HI are normally conducted?
If Caruba and Lehr had done their homework first, they would realize that what the press release said was nothing new but merely an independent research company confirming what is already widely known by the USGS and experts who study the NMSZ, namely: The approximately 200 year pattern of major quakes in the NMSZ is already well established. The work by the SSRC shows the pattern is identical in periodicity to a 206 year solar cycle. We merely confirm what is already known from a solar-climate perspective.
The geology community and the USGS are keenly aware that there has been a dramatic increase in earthquakes and volcanoes worldwide and in the US. Our press release and GCSR just gives a new rationale, highly correlated to climate change, for why this is happening.
The expected quake for the NMSZ mentioned in the article is not a prediction for an earthquake per se since it lacks a specific magnitude, epicenter location, depth and day (s) expected. Neither the SSRC nor the IEVPC currently do earthquake predictions. The press release is, however, a reasoned long range warning of a highly likely event based on past history and now linked to naturally caused climate variation.
The criticism by HI misses the point altogether of both the press release and the more important GCSR, the latter of course no one read anyway. Specifically, the last four devastating quakes in the NMSZ struck at the bottom of a solar hibernation, a period of dramatic reduction in solar energy output. Now that the next solar hibernation has begun, common sense dictates that major preparations be made in the interest of public safety.
The present state of preparation by the federal government and the state governments involved for another major NMSZ quake can be described as token at best, and otherwise abysmal in all categories. A human catastrophe is highly probable based on the best seismic and climate research available. Yet what do we see from the Heartland Institute and the federal and state governments? Nothing, except heads buried in sand or else criticism of those who wish to give the public the information they deserve. Is it any wonder why so many Americans distrust the US government and political organizations?
In the absence of any government and media interest in properly educating our people on the increased risks they face, the SSRC has issued the appropriate press release and notification of the FEMA Administrator.
The Heartland Institute article by Caruba and Lehr is a clear example of shooting the messenger. Except this time, many citizens may pay with their lives for following such uninformed, incompetent advice.
EDITORS NOTE: After this column was published we learned that Alan Caruba had passed away. Alan was a friend, colleague and contributor to this publication. We will miss his daily commentary and analysis of the issues. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.