United States: More Tornadoes in the Future?

pielke_tornadoesProfessor Roger Pielke is an objective and well-informed professor of environmental policy at the University of Colorado. He had a useful column in the Wall Street Journal last Saturday, The Decline of Tornado Devastation, debunking the claims of the global warming/climate change wackos, who seek to persuade you that a carbon tax will somehow reduce severe storms, and tornadoes especially. Pielke’s chart of normalized tornado damage is nearby. Bottom line: damage is decreasing, as a result of better science, technology (radar), and communication. The USA will never be spared tornadoes, because of our geography. We were reminded of this only a day after Pielke’s column, when tornadoes struck Arkansas.

What makes the wind blow? In a word (or two), “temperature differences.” If you live near a coast, you’re familiar with the land breeze and sea breeze effect. In the daytime, the land warms more rapidly than the sea, and a breeze from the sea flows in to replace the rising air. At night, the land cools more rapidly than the sea, and the cooler, more dense air flows outward from the land. Pretty easy to understand, especially for a Floridian. You may not realize that simple explanation is the major driver of the Earth’s general circulation, but it’s true. And you thought meteorology and climate were complicated! Just remember, it’s the difference of temperatures that causes the circulation, the wind, not the absolute temperature value. Herewith, a couple more examples.

In the large land mass of Asia, Summertime heating causes formation of a low pressure system over Siberia, while the western Pacific and Indian Ocean remain relatively cool. The result is the Summer monsoon, bringing rain as the humid oceanic air rises over the mountains; millions of people depend on the monsoon rains for their food. Of course, there’s a lesser-known Winter monsoon as well, when cool air from China and India pushes south. For the same reasons, there’s an American “monsoon” and an African “monsoon”; in meteorology, any seasonal reversal of circulation is referred to as a “monsoon.”

The major temperature difference that drives atmospheric circulation is that between the wintertime pole and the “thermal equator”, the subsolar location, which moves 24 degrees North and South between the solstices. The difference is most intense and most localized in the mid-latitudes, approximately 30 degrees to 60 degrees North and South. We call those intense differences “fronts”, a name deliberately evocative of the military “fronts” of World War One, when meteorological science was being formulated in Norway. The stronger that contrast, the greater the violence in the storm.

The “global warming” doctrine claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) will cause worldwide warming, and that this warming will be greatest at the poles – the Arctic Ocean ice will melt, the two-mile thick Greenland icecap will melt, sea level will rise, coastal cities will be flooded, millions of “climate refugees” will overrun neighboring regions, and, oh yes, storms will become more severe. This is, of course, self-contradictory. If the poles were to become warmer, the thermal contrast that drives the General Circulation would become weaker and storms would become less intense. Very big if, since there’s no evidence of polar warming. Polar sea ice is at record levels, as is ice on the Great Lakes.

motherjonesThat’s why it’s maddening to read the idiotic pronouncements of “global warming” liars such as Chris Mooney, a self-appointed “science and political journalist” (i.e., he’s an English major) writing for Mother Jones magazine. His latest piece of anti-scientific nonsense was out on Monday, the day after the tornadoes killed 14 people in Arkansas. Mooney not only claims “global warming” is responsible, he asks “Will Global Warming Produce More Tornadoes?” You can guess his answer: of course. The climate models – which have been wrong for 17 years and counting – predict so. The real basis of Mooney’s prediction is the liberal obsession to destroy economic freedom in the name of saving the planet.

LIAbookEnd of story, right? Mooney’s wrong. But, Mooney’s wrong for the wrong reason. He claims the poles are warming; they’re not. They’re cooling; polar sea ice is at record levels. What will that do to mid-latitude winds and storms? Make them stronger! Bad news! We’re seen this happen before – in the Little Ice Age, from 1400 to 1850 – and especially during the minimum of sunspots between 1650 and 1730, known as the Maunder Minimum.

For a few examples of life during the Little Ice Age, let me refer you to the book of that name, by Professor Brian Fagan, an archaeologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The following examples of storms in a period of cooling are from his book.

Between 1680 and 1730, the coldest cycle of the Little Ice Age, temperatures plummeted and the growing season in England was about five weeks shorter then than now. The winter of 1683/4 was so cold that the ground froze to a depth of more than a meter in parts of south west England and belts of ice appeared off the Channel coast of England and northern France. The ice lay up to 30 miles offshore along the Dutch coast and many harbours were so choked with ice that shipping halted throughout the North Sea.

Another exceptional winter was that of 1708/9. Deep snow fell in England and lasted for weeks while further East people walked from Denmark to Sweden on the ice as shipping was again halted in the North Sea. Hard frosts killed thousands of trees in France, where Provence lost most of its orange trees and vineyards were abandoned in northern France, not to be recultivated until the 20th Century. In 1716 the Thames froze so deep that a spring tide raised the ice fair on the river by 4 meters! The summer of 1725 in London was the coldest in the known temperature record and described as “more like winter than summer”.

Later in the 17th Century, great storms blew millions of tonnes of formerly stable dunes across the Brecklands of Norfolk and Suffolk, burying valuable farm land under meters of sand. This area has never recovered and is heathland. A similar event occurred in Scotland in 1694. The 1400 hectare Culbin Estate had been a prosperous farm complex next to the Moray Firth until it was hit by another huge storm which blew so much sand over it that the farm buildings themselves disappeared. A rich estate had become a desert overnight and the owner, the local Laird, died a pauper three years later.

Am I trying to scare you? No; hopefully we’re in for a couple of solar cycles’ (22 years) worth of cooling, like the 22 years of warming from 1976 to 1998. Let’s hope we don’t experience the deadly weather of Europe during the 1650 – 1730 years of the Little Ice Age. But if we do have some more harsh Winters and cool Summers, don’t let people like Mooney and Mother Jones tell you it’s evidence of “global warming.”

The 2014 state of wind energy: Desperately seeking subsidies by Marita Noon

With the growing story coming out of Ukraine, the ongoing search for the missing Malaysian jet, the intensifying Nevada cattle battle, and the new announcement about the additional Keystone pipeline delay, little attention is being paid to the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy—or any of the other 50 lapsed tax breaks the Senate Finance Committee approved earlier this month. But, despite the low news profile, the gears of government continue to grind up taxpayer dollars.

The Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act (EXPIRE) did not originally include the PT; however, prior to the committee markup hearing on April 3, Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pushed for an amendment to add a 2-year PTC extension. The tax extender package passed out of committee and has been sent to the Senate floor for debate. There, its future is uncertain.

“If the bill becomes law,” reports the Energy Collective, “it will allow wind energy developers to qualify for tax credits if they begin construction by the end of 2015.” The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) website calls on Congress to: “act quickly to retroactively extend the PTC.”

The PTC is often the deciding factor in determining whether or not to build a wind farm. According to Bloomberg, wind power advocates fear: “Without the restoration of the subsidies, worth $23 per megawatt hour to turbine owners, the industry might not recover, and the U.S. may lose ground in its race to reduce dependence on fossil fuels driving global warming.” \

NRELThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a report earlier this month affirming the importance of the subsidies to the wind industry. It showed that the PTC has been critical to the development of the U.S. wind power industry. The report also found: PTC “extension options that would ramp down by the end of 2022 appear to be insufficient to support recent levels of deployment.… Extending the production tax credit at its historical level could provide the best opportunity to sustain strong U.S. wind energy installation and domestic manufacturing.”

The PTC was originally part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. It has expired many times— most recently at the close of 2013. The last-minute 2012 extension, as a part of the American Tax Relief Act, included an eligibility criteria adjustment that allows projects that began construction in 2013, and maintain construction through as long as 2016, to qualify for the 10-year tax credit designed to establish a production incentive. Previously, projects would have had to be producing electricity at the time the PTC expired to qualify.

Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, which represents the interests of oil, coal, and natural gas companies, called the 2013 expiration of the wind PTC “a victory for taxpayers.” He explained: “The notion that the wind industry is an infant that needs the PTC to get on its feet is simply not true. The PTC has overstayed its welcome and any attempt to extend it would do a great disservice to the American people.”

As recently as 2006-2007, “the wind PTC had no natural enemies,” states a new report on the PTC’s future. “The Declining Appetite for the Wind PTC” report points to the assumption that “all extenders are extended eventually, and that enacting the extension is purely a matter of routine, in which gridlock on unrelated topics is the only source of uncertainty and delay.” The report then concludes: “That has been a correct view in past years.”

The report predicts that the PTC will follow “the same political trajectory as the ethanol mandate and the ethanol blenders’ tax credit before it.” The mandate remains—albeit in a slightly weakened state—and the tax credit is gone: “Ethanol no longer needed the blenders’ tax credit because it had the strong support of a mandate (an implicit subsidy) behind it.”

The PTC once enjoyed support from some in the utility industry that needed it to bolster wind power development to meet the mandates. Today, utilities have met their state mandates—or come close enough, the report points out: “their state utility commissioners will not allow them to build more.” It is important to realize that the commissioners are appointed or elected to protect the ratepayers and insure that the rates charged by the utilities are fair and as low as possible. Because of the increased cost of wind energy over conventional sources, commissioners won’t allow any more than is necessary to meet the mandates passed by the legislatures.

The abundance of natural gas and subsequent low price has also hurt wind energy’s predicted price parity. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), in Bloombergsaid: “If gas prices weren’t so cheap, then wind might be able to compete on its own.” David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy Inc.—which builds both gas and renewable power plants—agrees: “Cheap gas has definitely made it harder to compete.” With the subsidy, companies were able to propose wind projects “below the price of gas.” Without the PTC, Stephen Munro, an analyst at New Energy Finance, confirms: “we don’t expect wind to be at cost parity with gas.”

The changing conditions combined with “wide agreement that the majority of extenders are special interest handouts, the pet political projects of a few influential members of Congress,” mean that “the wind PTC is not a sure bet for extension.” Bloomberg declares: “Wind power in the U.S. is on a respirator.” Mike Krancer, who previously served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, in an article in Roll Callstates: “Washington’s usual handout to keep the turbines spinning may be harder to win this time around.”

Despite the claim of “Loud support for the PTC” from North American Windpower (NAW), the report predicts “political resistance.” NAW points to letters from 144 members of Congress urging colleagues to “act quickly to revive the incentives.” Twenty-six Senate members signed the letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and 118 House members signed a similar letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). However, of the 118, only six were Republicans—which, even if the PTC extension makes it out of the Senate, points to the difficulty of getting it extended in the Republican-controlled House.

Bloomberg cites AWEA as saying: “the Republican-led House of Representatives may not support efforts to extend the tax credits before the November campelection.” This supports the view stated in the report. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) held his first hearing on tax extenders on April 8. He only wants two of the 55 tax breaks continued: small business depreciation and the R & D tax credit. The report states: “Camp says that he will probably hold hearings on which extenders should be permanent through the spring and into the summer. He hasn’t said when he would do an extenders proposal himself, but our guess is that he will wait until after the fall elections. …We think the PTC is most endangered if Republicans win a Senate majority in the fall.”

So, even if the PTC survives the current Senate’s floor debate (Senator Pat Toomey [R-PA] offered an amendment that would have entirely done away with the PTC), it is only the “first step in a long journey” and, according to David Burton, a partner at law firm Akin Gump Hauer and Feld, is “unlikely on its own to create enough confidence to spur investment in the development of new projects.” Plus, the House will likely hold up its resurrection.

Not to mention the growing opposition to wind energy due to the slaughter of birds and bats—including the protected bald and golden eagles. Or, growing fears about health impacts, maintenance costs, and abandoned turbines.

All of these factors have likely led Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric Co.—the biggest U.S. turbine supplier—to recently state: “We’re planning for a world that’s unsubsidized. Renewables have to find a way to get to the grid unsubsidized.”

Perhaps this time, the PTC is really dead, leaving smaller manufacturers desperately seeking subsidies.

About the Author: Marita Noon

Marita NoonThe author of Energy FreedomMarita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Local communities face onslaught from self-anointed planners by Bonner Cohen, Ph.D.

A growing number of initiatives by elitist organizations, working hand-in-glove with local kindred spirits, is transforming once-self-governing communities into instruments of environmental political correctness.

Cloaked in the mantle of providing for “sustainable” or “livable” communities, these programs include such fashionable ideas as “open space,” “heritage areas,” “view sheds,” ”smart growth,” “clean energy,” and “combatting climate change,” – just to name a few.

What was once largely the domain of far-away UN conferences and obscure academic journals has now made its way to Main Street. Planning commissions, which have spread like wildfire over the past couple of decades and whose members are unelected, produce an endless array of schemes designed to micro-manage every aspect of commercial, residential, and recreational life. No town, no matter how small, is safe from the meddling of planners in and outside of government.

The Shadow of Agenda 21

The proliferation of efforts by green elites to mold communities in their own image is a consequence of the rise of the environmental movement – both in the U.S. and throughout the world. Those efforts received a substantial boost with the adoption of something called Agenda 21 at the conclusion of the June 3-14, 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment & Development in Rio de Janeiro. Agenda 21 is described by UNbuildingthe UN Division on Sustainable Development as “a comprehensive plan of development to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations Systems, Governments and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts (sic) on the environment.”

A 300-page document divided into 40 chapters, Agenda 21 has many goals, including changing consumption patterns, conserving biological diversity, protecting fragile environments and the atmosphere, and achieving more sustainable settlements. Agenda 21 provides a blueprint for the kinds of structural changes the proponents of sustainable development (a term left purposely vague) want to see take place.

Merely setting goals, however, was not enough; the task of implementing Agenda 21 fell to another UN body, the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Founded in 1990, ICLEI is an association of local and regional governments as well as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) – all sharing a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI’s membership currently numbers over 1200 cities, towns, counties, and NGOs in 84 countries. In the United States, 528 cities belong to ICLEI, including New York, Los Angeles, Dubuque, Iowa, and Arlington, Texas.

ICLEI’s U.S. website, www.icleyus.org, informs its visitors that $618 million in funding for grants and technical assistance is available for state, local, and tribal governments. The largess comes courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Energy, Interior, and Transportation and is be used for climate and energy initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Lest they have any doubts about the organization’s commitment to combatting climate change, visitors also can read about ICLEI’s new emissions-management software.

Another organization spreading the gospel of sustainable development is the appropriately named American Planning Association (APA). Founded in 1978, APA provided a ready-made vehicle for taking the goals of Agenda 21 to the local level. A forum for the exchange of views and proposals among urban and regional planners of every description, APA has state chapters throughout the country. In addition to its well-attended conferences, APA uses its website, www.planning.org, to get the message out. Its website, for example, touts the virtues of solar power and bike-sharing as ways communities can reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

When such “lofty” goals are adopted by local governments, they have real-world consequences for those on the receiving end of the elitists’ grand vision. Open space in a case in point. Thomas Sewell, senior fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, notes that open space comes at an enormous cost to perspective homeowners and those seeking affordable apartments to rent. “What that lovely phrase means is that there are vast amounts of empty land where the law forbids anybody from building anything,” he says. “Anybody who has taken Economics 101 knows that preventing the supply from rising to meet demand means that prices are going to rise,” he explains. “Housing is no exception.” (Washington Times, April 23, 2014)

The “Plantocracy”

Indeed, all across the country, the lives of ordinary citizens are under siege by the grandiose schemes of what we will call the “plantocracy.” Consider:

  • In Ohio, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) teamed up with the Montgomery County Commission, the Washington Township Board, and an assortment of NGO “stakeholders” to have a bike path added to a road-widening project. The bike path comes within seven feet of the front door of a local resident’s 164-year-old farm house. In July 2013, bulldozers flattened hedges and trees in front of the historic farm house to make way for the bike path. The owner of the property protested vehemently, but to no avail. An official with the MVRPC justified the bike path and the destruction to private property it wrought by saying, “Doing so reduces the amount of carbon and harmful emissions into the atmosphere so that our air is cleaner.” (Range, Winter 2013-14)
  • In Washington, a bill, HB 2386, introduced in the legislature would create the State Maritime Heritage Area that would include “all federal, state, local, and tribal lands that allow public access and are partly located within one-quarter mile land inward of the saltwater shoreline (of the Pacific Ocean)…” Language in the bill assures the public that nothing in the legislation “creates any regulatory jurisdiction or grants any regulatory authority to any government or other entity” or “abridges the rights of any owner of public or private property within the designated area,” or “established any legal rights or obligations, including in regards to any environmental or administrative review process involving land use.” Opponents of the legislation ask why, if the designation is so benign, does Maryland have a 19-member Maryland Heritage Authority and a 10-member board appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s heritage areas. The question is a reflection of the well-founded mistrust of such schemes on the part of ordinary citizens.
  • In Isle of Wight County, Virginia, local officials are trying to prohibit a farmer from allowing a disable friend from staying overnight on his property in an RV. County officials claim that the use of the RV constitutes an unauthorized “campground” in violation of local zoning ordinances. “Cases such as this one are becoming increasingly common across the country as overzealous government officials routinely enforce laws that undermine the very property rights that are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” says John Whitehead, president of the Charlottesville, Va.-based Rutherford Institute.

Defenders of Agenda 21 and ICLEI are quick to point out that they have no regulatory authority and cannot enforce any of their recommendations. That’s true. But once the genie is out of the bottle and finds its way into the rules, regulations, ordinances, “green” building codes, and land-use restrictions of local governments, what comes out does have the force of law behind it. The plantocracy, with all the interlocking relationships it has with well-funded and well-connected interests, is a beast that is roaming the countryside searching for its next prey.
Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

About the Author: Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

Should California dictate U.S. energy policies? by Paul Driessen

Can the rest of America afford its Alice in Wonderland energy policies for? (Can California?)

California loves to be seen as the trendsetter on energy and environmental policies. But can we really afford to adopt their laws and regulations in the rest of America? Heck, can the once Golden State afford them itself? The path to hell is paved with good intentions, counter-productive policies – and hypocrisy.

The officiajoblessinCAl national unemployment rate is stuck at 6.7% – but with much higher rates for blacks and Hispanics and a labor p labor participation rate that remains the lowest in 35 years. Measured by gross national product, our economy is growing at an abysmal 1.5% or even 1.0% annual rate.

Meanwhile, California’s jobless rate is higher than in all but three other states: 8.1% – and with far worse rates as high as 15% for blacks, Hispanics, and inland communities. First the good news, then the insanity.

Citigroup’s Energy 2020: North America report estimates that the United States, Canada, and Mexico could make North America almost energy independent in 6 years, simply by tapping their vast recoverable oil and natural gas reserves. Doing so would help lower energy and consumer prices, insulate the three nations from volatile or blackmailing foreign suppliers, and spur job creation based on reliable, affordable energy, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Driving this revolution is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. According to Citigroup, IHS Global Insights, the EIA, and other analysts, “fracking” technology contributed 2.1 million jobs and $285 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, while adding $62 billion to local, state and federal treasuries! Compare that to mandates and subsidies required for expensive, unreliable, job-killing wind, solar and biofuel energy.

Fracking also slashed America’s oil imports from 60% of its total needs in 2005 to just 28% in 2013. It slashed our import bill by some $100 billion annually.

By 2020 the government share of this boom is expected to rise to $111 billion. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while contributing $300 billion a year to GDP and generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues. What incredible benefits! But there’s more.

A Yale University study calculates that the drop in natural gas prices (from $8 per thousand cubic feet or million Btu in 2008, and much more on the spot market, to $4.00 or so now) is saving businesses and families over $125 billion a year in heating, electricity, fertilizer and raw material feed stock costs.

The only thing standing in the way of a U.S. employment boom and economic and industrial renaissance, says Citigroup, is politics: continued or even more oppressive anti-hydrocarbon policies and regulations.

Here’s the insanity. Fully 96% of this nation’s oil and gas production increase took place on state and private lands. Production fell significantly on federal lands under President Obama’s watch, with the Interior Department leasing only 2% of federal offshore lands and 6% of its onshore domain for petroleum, then slow-walking drilling permits, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

The President continues to stall on the Keystone pipeline, while threatening layers of expensive carbon dioxide and other regulations, to prevent what he insists is “dangerous manmade climate change.” His EPA just adopted California’s expensive all-pain-no-gain rules for sulfur in gasoline, and the Administration and environmentalists constantly look to the West Coast for policy guidance.

poweroutageGovernor Jerry Brown says 30 million vehicles in California translate into “a lot of oil” and “the time for no more oil drilling” will be when its residents “can get around without using any gasoline.” However, that rational message has not reached the state’s legislators, environmental activists, or urban elites.

California’s ruling classes strongly oppose drilling and fracking – and leading Democrats are campaigning hard to impose at least a long temporary ban, based on ludicrous claims that fracking causes groundwater contamination and even earthquakes and birth defects.

Meanwhile, California’s oil production represents just 38% of its needs – and is falling steadily, even though the state has enormous onshore and offshore natural gas deposits, accessible via conventional and hydraulic fracturing technologies. The state imports 12% of its oil from Alaska and 50% more from foreign nations, much of it from Canada, notes Sacramento area energy consultant Tom Tanton.

The record is far worse when it comes to electricity. The Do-As-I-Say state imports about 29% of its total electricity from out of state: via the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Phoenix, coal-fired generators in the Four Corners area, and hydroelectric dams in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest, Tanton explains.

Another 50% of its electricity is generated using natural gas that is also imported from sources outside California. Instead, the Greener-Than-Thou State relies heavily on gas imported via pipelines from Canada, the Rockies and the American Southwest, to power its gas-fired turbines. Those turbines and out-of-state sources also back up its numerous unreliable bird-killing wind turbines.

It adds up to a great way to preen and strut about their environmental consciousness. They simply leach off their neighbors for 62% of their gasoline and 79% of their electricity, and let other states do the hard work and emit the CO2.

These foreign fuels power the state’s profitable and liberal Silicon Valley and entertainment industries – as well as the heavily subsidized electric and hybrid vehicles that wealthy elites so love for their pseudo-ecological benefits, $7,500 tax credits, and automatic entry into fast-moving HOV lanes.

Meanwhile, California’s poor white, black, Hispanic, and other families get to pay $4.23 per gallon for regular gasoline, the second highest price in America – and 16.2 cents per kWh for residential electricity, double that in most states, and behind only New York, New England, Alaska, and Hawaii.

However, the state’s eco-centric ruling classes are not yet satisfied. Having already hammered large industrial facilities with costly CO2 cap-and-trade regulations, thereby driving more jobs out of the state, on January 1, 2015, they will impose cap-and-trade rules on gasoline and diesel fuels. That will instantly add at least 12 cents more per gallon, with the price escalating over the coming years.

CARCULTURERegulators are also ginning up tough new “low-carbon fuel standards,” requiring that California’s transportation fuels reduce their “carbon intensity” or “life-cycle” CO2 emissions by 10% below 2010 levels. This will be accomplished by forcing refiners and retailers to provide more corn-based ethanol, biodiesel, and still-nonexistent cellulosic biofuel.

These fuels are much more expensive than even cap-tax-and-trade gasoline – which means the poor families that liberals care so deeply about will be forced to pay still more to drive their cars and trucks.

In fact, Charles River Associates estimates that the LCFS will raise the cost of gasoline and diesel by up to 170% (!) over the next 10 years, on top of all the other price hikes.

In the meantime, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, and a hundred other countries are burning more coal, driving more cars, and emitting vastly more carbon dioxide. So the alleged benefits to global atmospheric CO2 levels range from illusory and fabricated to fraudulent.

Of course, commuters who cannot afford these soaring prices can always park their cars and add a few hours to their daily treks, by taking multiple buses to work, school and other activities.

There’s more, naturally. Much more. But I’m out of space and floundering amid all the lunacy.

Can we really afford to inflict California’s insane policies on the rest of America? In fact, how long can the Left Coast afford to let its ruling classes inflict those policies on its own citizens?

About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

President Obama: Request you prepare the USA for Dangerous Cold Climate

The Orlando, FL based Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) delivered a letter to the White House this morning for President Obama, in which it warned of the dangers expected from the ongoing climate change to decades of record cold weather.

This predicted historic event is caused by a rare, yet repeating 206-year cycle of the Sun which the SSRC calls a “solar hibernation.” During these hibernations, the Sun dramatically reduces the energy by which it keeps the Earth warm.  In past occurrences of these solar hibernations, the Earth was struck by two of the worst cold climate periods ever recorded, each of which witnessed global crop devastation, civil and political strife, and warfare.

One historian classified the last hibernation from 1793 to 1830, as the world’s “last great subsistence crisis.” That period was also called the Dalton Minimum, because of the scientist who kept track of temperatures then and the reduced energy output of the Sun as measured by a low number of sunspots during that period. The previous hibernation from 1615 to 1745 was called the Maunder Minimum and was far worse than the last hibernation both in terms of the depth, and extent of the cold epoch but also in the global crop devastation. Russian scientists are saying we are heading into another Maunder class solar hibernation starting this year.

John Casey

John Casey, President, Space and Science Research Corporation.

The letter to President Obama coincides with the seventh anniversary of discovery of the 206-year cycle that led to the formulation of the ‘Theory of Relational Cycles of Solar Activity,’ or the ‘RC Theory.’ The RC Theory creator and SSRC President Mr. John Casey, has since been leading the effort in the United States to alert the US government, the media, and US citizens about the dangers associated with this regular, albeit ominous cycle of the Sun. The SSRC record of major climate predictions using the RC Theory has been recognized as one of, if not the best public record of climate prediction in the US. That includes a successful record of predictions better than NASA, and NOAA, and by far exceeds that of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC).

According to Mr. Casey, “There is overwhelming evidence that global warming no longer exists and that the use of CO2 and the greenhouse gas theory by the UN and our own government represents what I and other scientists believe is the greatest scientific fraud in history. Sadly, even though the Earth is now cooling rapidly, we still see the current US administration and other countries trying to force-feed this bad science on their citizens. The record winter of 2013-2014 along with others in the past six years is but one example of how this recently started solar hibernation will continue to make the Earth much colder. The SSRC’s Global Climate Status Report, now shows that of twenty-four global climate parameters that we monitor, eighteen are showing a cooling trend is in place.

“I am also particularly concerned how the President’s climate policies will hit African Americans, other minorities and the poor the hardest, in terms of higher energy bills they will be paying and that they will be totally unprepared for the cold climate ahead. That matter is also addressed in the letter the White House received today.”

Read the full letter to President Obama by going here.

ABOUT THE SPACE AND SCIENCE RESEARCH CORPORATION

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) is a leading independent US climate research company. It is the foremost institution in the United States dedicated to the analysis and planning for the next climate change – forecast to be one of decades of record cold weather.

The SSRC maintains active communication channels with some of the world’s best experts in the field of solar physics and climate research pertaining to the matter of the next climate change. In addition it has a dedicated list of “Supporting Researchers” who have committed their name and assistance to the mission of the SSRC. The SSRC also updates key US government leaders of the status of climate change activity centered on its area of expertise.

The SSRC possesses the capability to conduct planning and research on how best to prepare individuals, businesses, and governments at all levels for the next climate change to a period of long lasting and potentially dangerous colder weather.

EPA’s McCarthy Defends Hiding Secret Science from Public

In a speech filled with more straw men than a corn field in the fall, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy fired back at critics, like the U.S. Chamber, who have called out the agency for its lack of transparency and openness involving scientific data and analysis that it uses to impose costly air regulations on the economy.

The debate stems around access to data on the health effects of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) on humans. While EPA and researchers have blocked public access to the data, the agency has used it to justify nearly all (98%) of the benefits of EPA air regulations between 2002 and 2012.

“People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. You can’t just claim the science isn’t real when it doesn’t align well with your political or financial interests,” McCarthy said to the National Academy of Sciences, “Science is real and verifiable.”

See what I mean about straw men?

No one disagrees with any of this. What EPA critics want is public access to the data in order to scrutinize, verify, and reproduce the conclusions.

For instance, William Kovacs notes a major problem with the data:

The studies used to support the 1997 PM 2.5 standard have never been independently reproduced or validated, and EPA has successfully resisted all attempts – including a 2000 Freedom of Information Act request from the U.S. Chamber – to obtain the data underlying the studies upon which EPA based its standards.

Nevertheless, in her speech to the Academy, McCarthy reaffirmed her agency’s refusal to make the data available to public scrutiny.

Science is an iterative process. It builds on previous work and assumes that no one has all the answers. EPA shouldn’t be afraid to open the data to public inspection.

This is especially important when regulators use this data to impose tremendous costs on the economy—especially inelectricity generation–keep jobs from being created, and hold back investments. The public should be able to see the data and not merely take the word of a federal agency.

Despite McCarthy’s claim that EPA critics are attacking science itself, by advocating for openness and transparency we’re defending the scientific process that’s delivered progress to humanity for centuries.

“When we follow the science — we all win,” McCarthy told the audience, and she’s right. However, that requires that the data be open so the public can examine it.

[via memeorandum]

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is by photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg.

Ouch! Washington Post Calls Keystone XL Delays, “Embarrassing”

The Washington Post editorial board excoriated the Obama administration for holding up the Keystone XL pipeline [emphasis mine]:

If foot-dragging were a competitive sport, President Obama and his administration would be world champions for their performance in delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last Friday afternoon, the time when officials make announcements they hope no one will notice, the State Department declared that it is putting off a decision on Keystone XL indefinitely — or at least, it seems, well past November’s midterm elections. This time, the excuse is litigation in Nebraska over the proposed route, because that might lead to a change in the project that various federal agencies will want to consider. The State Department might even decide to substantially restart the environmental review process. This is yet another laughable reason to delay a project that the federal government has been scrutinizing for more than five years.

As for the pipeline’s routing, planners and regulators have already considered all sorts of options through Nebraska, and they already shifted the route once. Neither route posed environmental concerns of a sort that would justify concluding that Keystone XL is outside the national interest. It is bizarre to imagine that a new route from an even more careful process in Nebraska would significantly increase environmental concerns.

The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now, bow to reason, approve the pipeline and go do something more productive for the climate.

That will leave a mark.

Along with that scathing editorial, the American Petroleum Institute released a poll of registered voters that shows 70% support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Here are some other findings:

  • 78% agree that the pipeline would improve America’s energy security by helping to create jobs.
  • 78% believe that the pipeline is in America’s national interest because it would increase North American oil supplies.
  • 67% say that if the United States has to import oil, they would like to see more of it come from Canada rather than other foreign countries.
  • 68% say they’re more likely to support a candidate who supports the pipeline.

UPDATE: This political cartoon illustrates how these delays have become a farce.

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[via memeorandum]

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: The features photo of sections of pipe for the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma in 2013 was taken by photographer Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

Updated Status of the Climate Change Fraud

McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Gina McCarthy, EPA

Happy Earth Day! Heck, Happy Earth Week!! Gina McCarthy, Chief Protector of the Environmental Protection Agency, is engaged in a week of traveling the USA – five cities in all – “to ask Americans to act on climate change through simple actions to reduce carbon pollution in their daily lives.” In case you were planning to fly to five cities to celebrate Earth Week, don’t. Take Gina’s advice – not her example. Incidentally, Gina flies home to Boston most weekends to be with her family.

Earth Week is wonderful because it makes so many people happy. The Greenies and Alarmists are happy because they get to do something to save the planet. We skeptics are happy because we get to watch the ridiculous, hypocritical, foolish things they do that they think will save the planet. This week their obvious hypocrisy and stupidity illustrate the weakening of their Climate Change fraud.

To start things off,  President Obama, late on Friday afternoon, decided to delay yet again a decision on the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, until after the November midterm elections. Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager, who has pledged $100 million to support Democrat politicians who oppose KXL, was jubilant. Warren Buffet, an Obama supporter, whose BNSF railroad carries oil from Alberta to the Gulf, was pleased. Mr. Steyer has also pledged additional millions for the Obama Presidential Library. Nothing could better illuminate the venality of the Obama administration and the Democrat Party.

Working men and women, however, hoping for the 40,000 jobs the pipeline would create, were not as pleased. “This is once again politics at its worst,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.“In another gutless move, the administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process — and which has nothing to with the national interest.”

I’m sorry for the members of O’Sullivan’s union – which twice endorsed Obama for president, claiming he would “work to create jobs.” Pretty obvious who Obama works for, and that the “climate change” fraud is a weapon against the American middle class – whose median wealth is now second to the Canadian middle class. That’s why the latest Gallup poll shows increasing skepticism and decreasing belief. Since 2001, the number of the deeply skeptical has doubled; the number of “concerned believers” (Gallup’s term) has remained the same; the “mixed middle” group has lost about 10% – all of whom have joined us, the skeptics. None have joined Gore, Obama, the IPCC, and the other alarmists. There’s a reason for that.

gallup

Remember the TV Showtime documentary, Years of Living Dangerously, airing on Sunday evenings? I wrote about the first episode a week ago, pointing out that drought in West Texas is not convincing proof of “climate change.” The second episode aired this week; it failed to make the top 100 cable shows, and was beaten in its time-slot by a rerun of the animated cartoon, Bob’s Burgers. Yikes! Showtime spent $20 million on this turkey, directed by James Cameron. The emotional appeal doesn’t seem to be working.

subsidiesFinancially, you’ll be happy to know our Federal Government is spending less of your tax dollars on subsidies for wind power farms. The bird lovers among us will be pleased that fewer raptors and song birds are being sliced and diced. From Investors’ Business Daily:

The federal government has spent some $100 billion in taxpayer subsidies on green energy since 2006. Now we are seeing the flimsy and declining returns on that investment.

The wind industry saw its growth tumble by 92% last year, according to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and that’s off of a very low base to begin with.

Big Wind blames the decline in output on uncertainty over the future of a federal wind industry tax credit — an absurdly generous subsidy of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour produced.

This handout is what keeps those giant turbines twirling. These subsidies have been thrown at the renewable energy industry for more than a decade and always with the promise by AWEA that profitability is right around the corner. Sure it is.

The reality is that the wind industry is to energy production what Amtrak is to intercity transportation — a perpetual tax-dollar burning machine.

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily

yalenewsFrom its dreadful effects on the working middle class to the subsidies it steals from our pockets, the “climate change” fraud has been a disaster. But perhaps its greatest failure has been its absurd catechizing in the halls of higher education, among those with the most advanced educations. For example, from The Yale News, dated 21 April:

Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today’s California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures.

Led by scientists at Yale, the study focused on Antarctica during the Eocene epoch, 40-50 million years ago, a period with high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and consequently a greenhouse climate.

Merciful Heavens! 50 million years ago, Antarctica, like India and Australia, was an island continent in the South Atlantic, 2000 miles from the South Pole. Northern hemisphere continents were also dispersed away from the North Pole. Ocean currents flowed freely across the poles; major mountain ranges had not arisen. For these and other reasons, world climate was much warmer and more equable. Apparently there are senior editors at the Yale News who are unaware of continental drift, the foundation of modern geology. Faculty adviser? Let’s hope not.  The effect of the climate change fraud has been to dumb down science education, even at the highest levels. Unquestioning acceptance of authority is deadly to science.

We should be grateful for blessings – even small blessings. Vladimir Putin is helping convince even the most fervent believers in “climate change” that there are worse things. Michael Fallon says yesterday was the kickoff in development of shale gas in the UK. Who’s Michael Fallon? He’s the UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change!  Even politicians can sometimes see the light – if the threat to reelection is strong enough.

CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #2 — Because We’re Running Out of Resources, Government Must Manage Them

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

Leaders and experts who support free enterprise and who understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship will author the pieces. A book will be released in 2015 featuring the best editorials in the series. The opinion editorials and columns will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: www.yaf.org and www.FEE.org.

See the index of the published chapters here.

#2 — Because We’re Running Out of Resources, Government Must Manage Them

Milton Friedman once said “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” The great economist wasn’t just being cute. He’s pointing to a very serious problem with government management of resources. And in this chapter, we’ll talk about why it’s a problem. But first we should ask: Why are people so concerned that we will run out of resources? And how can we find a reasonable balance between using resources and conserving them?

When most people think about resources, they think about the possibility they might be used up. And running out of resources means there will be nothing left for future generations. This scares people. So the notion goes something like: If parents let kids get into the groceries on the first night of the camping trip, there won’t be any sandwiches left for the picnic. The parents wisely ration the resources and restrict the kids’ access so that there is something to left for later. People who think government should manage resources are thinking that government will behave like wise parents. But does it?

What you may not have realized is that people in the market—under certain conditions—find a balance between consumption and conservation, which one might call “sustainable.” But first there has to be a complete market mechanism. This may be hard for some people to get their heads around, because most people think markets cause over consumption. And certain kinds of markets can.

Healthy markets only exist under certain rules. The main rules are what we might call the Three Ps: Private property, price signals and profit. These are the basic conditions of exchange. Without them there can be no healthy market.

Private property means that an individual has full ownership of a resource. We know who the owner is, how much they own and that right cannot be taken away arbitrarily. The owner may also have the authority to divest himself of the resource. That means we know the difference between mine and thine and in so knowing, we have the one of the conditions under which to conserve, trade, or consume.

Prices are what economist Steven Horwitz calls “information wrapped in an incentive.” When the price of some resource goes high enough, owners have the incentive to do any number of things. They might use less of the resource (i.e. conserve it), they might find new creative ways to increase the supply of the resource, or they might find a substitute, which ends up conserving the resource. Of course, we make any such choice because we expect of future returns, otherwise known as profit. And in this equilibrium created by prices, property and profit markets balance use with conservation.

Consider a resource that was once highly sought after: whale blubber. Whale blubber was used as an energy resource in the 19th century. But in the case of whales, there were only two of the three Ps. Whalers had prices and profit, but no private property. The whales belonged to what is known as the Commons—which meant anyone could hunt them. Unsurprisingly they were nearly hunted to extinction. Because no one owned them, whalers had a perverse incentive to hunt them quickly. The whales rapidly became scarce. Indeed, as the number of whales went down, the price of each individual whale went up and the incentives to hunt increased. But this can’t happen if there is a robust private property regime in place. If people could own whales, their incentive is not destroy them unsustainably, but to raise them. (Ironically, fossil fuels saved the whales thanks to substitution.)

In the 19th Century American West, wild bison (buffalo) roamed the unfenced, commonly-held Plains by the millions. They were hunted nearly to extinction. By contrast, people could own and raise cattle and the use of barbed wire on private property made it feasible to do so. Today, there are far more cattle in the Plains than bison and even where bison are privately-owned, their long-term survival is now better assured than it ever was on “public” property.

Consider trees. In North America, there are more trees than there have been in over a hundred years. Not only do foresters have incentives to regrow trees they harvest, they have incentives to cut them at a sustainable rate. Of course, in certain parts of the world—like Amazonia and Africa—concerns about forest clearing are justified. The big difference between forests in North America and South America? In one case, forests are largely government managed and in the other they largely privately managed.

Since 1900, U.S. forestland acreage has remained stable for more than a century. Unlike some regions in the world where deforestation is happening at a rapid pace, the US has actually maintained its forestland for the past 100 years. When one includes the heavily forested Northern Forests of Canada, forestland in North America since 1900 has grown—by a lot, according to the UN State of the World’s Forests reports.

By contrast, forests in many parts of the world are losing ground, even losses in these areas are slowing. Still, that leaves the question: why are North America’s forests growing while forests in other areas being lost? Certainly the biggest factor is whether the country has the Three Ps. The absence of property rights is known as the Tragedy of the Commons. If we look at the facts around the world, places that have stable private property rights have stable forestland. Places that don’t have tragedies of the commons—with its attendant rush to exploit.

Political leaders in areas without private property rights have tried to solve the problem of over-exploitation of forestland through the application of government management—that is: simply forbid people from using the resource or have the government allocate it “sustainably.” Contrary to Progressive conservation clichés, neither policy works particularly well.

In the case of bans, black markets form and there is a race to exploit the resource. Poachers and illegal exploiters emerge as the problems persist. For example, black rhinos are under threat in Africa despite bans. Because the profit motive is even stronger under bans, risk takers come out of the woodwork. In the case of government allocation of resources, the process can easily be corrupted. In other words, anyone who is able to capture the regulators will be able to manipulate the process in his favor. What follows is not only corruption, but in most cases considerations of “sustainability” go by the wayside, along with all the market mechanisms that constitute the true tests of sustainability.

 

Max Borders
Editor & Director of Content
The Freeman

Summary

  • It is simplistic to assume that people will blindly use up what sustains them without regard to the incentive structures they face; if they have incentives to conserve, they will do so.
  • Private property is a powerful incentive to conserve resources. You lose if you squander what’s yours.
  • When property is held “in common,” you have a license to use and abuse resources with little incentive to nurture and improve them.
  • For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/pn3qlfbhttp://tinyurl.com/ot533p3 and http://tinyurl.com/ngchvyo
Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

RELATED STORY: CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #1: Income Inequality Arises From Market Forces and Requires Government Intervention

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

President Obama’s War on U.S. Energy

A nation without adequate energy production is a nation in decline and that has been the President’s agenda since the day he took office in 2009. He even announced his war on coal during the 2008 campaign even though, at the time, it was providing fifty percent of the electricity being utilized.

It’s useful to know that the U.S. has huge coal reserves, enough to provide energy for hundreds of years and reduce our debt through its export to nations such as Japan. It increased coal-fired power generation by ten percent in 2013 while Germany’s coal use reached the highest level since 1990. Both China and India are increasing the use of coal. So why is coal unwelcome in the U.S.? Because Obama says so.

On April 15, the White House held a “Solar Summit” to continue promoting subsidies for solar panels and the Obama Energy Department has announced another $15 million in “solar market pathways” to fund local government’s use of solar energy. Its “Capital Solar Challenge” is directing federal agencies, military bases, and other federally subsidized buildings to use solar power.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, “solar energy provides two-tenths of one percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. While the amount of solar electricity capacity in the U.S. has increased in recent years…it still only accounts for 0.1% of net electricity generated…the least among the renewable sources of hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar.”

So, in addition to the millions lost in earlier loans to solar companies like Solyndra that failed not long after pocketing our tax dollars, Obama is using the power of the federal government to waste more money on this unpredictable—the Sun only shines in the daytime and clouds can get in the way—source of energy whose “solar farms” take up many acres just to provide a faction of what a coal-fired or natural gas powered plant does.

This isn’t some loony environmental theory at work although the Greens oppose all manner of energy provision and use whether it is coal, oil or natural gas. They always find an excuse to mine or extract it. This is a direct attack on the provision of energy, fueled by any source, that America needs to function and meeting the needs of its population, manufacturing, and all other uses.

The most recent example of this is the further extension of the delay on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. That too is part of Obama’s war on energy for the nation, but it may also have something to do with the fact that the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad owns all of the rail lines in the U.S. connecting to western Canada. They haul 80% or more of the crude oil from Canada to the Midwest and Texas, earning a tidy sum in the process. It is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a major contributor to Democrat causes and candidates. The Keystone XL pipeline could divert more than $2 billion a year and if its delay is not crony capitalism, nothing is.

This is what the Sierra Club is telling its members and supporters as of Monday, April 21: “Keystone XL means cancer. It means wolf blood spilled. And it’s nothing short of a climate disaster.” It is a lie from start to finish.

Keystone has become a political issue and the announcement by the Obama State Department that is giving agencies “additional time” to approve its construction due to ongoing litigation before the Nebraska Supreme Court that could affect its route brought forth protests from red-state Democrats in Congress who even threatened to find ways to go around the President to get the project approved. Eleven Democratic senators have written to the President to urge him to make a final decision by the end of May. Some of them will be up for reelection in the November midterm elections.

Even Congress, though, seems incapable of over-ruling or overcoming Obama’s war on the provision of energy sources. In early April, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new data showing that federal onshore oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits are at the lowest levels in more than a decade. Leases to companies exploring the potential of oil and natural gas reserves were down in 2013 from 1.8 million acres the year before to 1.2 million, the smallest area since records began to be maintained in 1988!

We have a President who gives daily evidence of his contempt both for those who voted for him and those who did not. His anti-energy agenda impacts on the creation of jobs, causes manufacturing to delay expansion or to go off-shore, reduces the revenue the government needs to reduce its debts and deficits, and drives up the cost of energy for everyone.

And he is doing this in one of the most energy-rich nations on the planet.

EDITORS NOTE: For the latest, updated information on energy visit: Energy Depot. The featured photo is courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.

RELATED STORIES:

Obama: Hurting Energy and Economic Growth
Here’s Where the Government Can Get Out of the Way
Study Shows Ethanol Produces Worse ‘Global Warming’ Pollution Than Gasoline

Was stopping Nevada’s fracking rush behind the Bundy Showdown? by Marita Noon

The story of rancher Cliven Bundy has captured an abundance of media attention and attracted supporters from across the West, who relate to the struggle against the federal management of lands. Bundy’s sister, Susan, was asked: “Who’s behind the uproar?” She blamed the Sierra Club, then Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and then President Obama. She concluded her comments with: “It’s all about control”—a sentiment that is frequently expressed regarding actions taken in response to some endangered-species claim.

An Associated Press report describes Bundy’s battle this way: “The current showdown pits rancher Cliven Bundy’s claims of ancestral rights to graze his cows on open range against federal claims that the cattle are trespassing on arid and fragile habitat of the endangered desert tortoise.”

Bundy’s story has been percolating for decades—leaving people to question why now. The pundits are, perhaps, missing the real motive. To discover it, you have to dig deep under the surface of the story, below the surface of the earth. I posit: it is all about oil and gas.

On April 10, the Natural News Network posted this: “BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases.” It states: “a Natural News investigation has found that BLM is actually in the business of raking in millions of dollars by leasing Nevada lands to energy companies that engage in fracking operations.”

This set off alarms in my head; it didn’t add up. I know that oil-and-gas development and ranching can happily coexist. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, told me: “The ranching and oil-and-gas communities are the backbone of America. They are the folks who allow the rest of the nation to pursue their hearts’ desire secure in the knowledge that they will have food and energy available in abundant supply. These natural resource users have worked arm-in-arm for nearly a century on the same land. They are constantly developing and employing technologies for ever better outcomes.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wouldn’t be enduring the humiliating press it has received, as a result of kicking Bundy off of land his family has ranched for generations and taking away his prior usage rights, just to open up the land for oil-and-gas—the two can both be there.

The Natural News “investigation” includes a map from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology that shows “significant exploratory drilling being conducted in precisely the same area where the Bundy family has been running cattle since the 1870s.” It continues: “What’s also clear is that oil has been found in nearby areas.”

Nevada is not a top-of-mind state when one thinks about oil and gas. Alan Coyner, administrator for the Nevada Division of Minerals, describes his state: “We are not a major oil-producing state. We’re not the Saudi Arabia of the U.S. like we are for gold and geothermal production.”

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports: “When it comes to oil, Nevada is largely undiscovered country…. fewer than 1,000 wells have been drilled in the state, and only about 70 are now in production, churning out modest amounts of low-grade petroleum generally used for tar or asphalt. Since an all-time high of 4 million barrels in 1990, oil production in Nevada has plummeted to fewer than 400,000 barrels a year. More oil is pumped from the ground in one day in North Dakota—where the fracking boom has added more than 2,000 new wells in recent years—than Nevada produced in 2012.”

But Nevada could soon join the ranks of the states that are experiencing an economic boom and job creation due to oil-and-gas development. And, that has got to have the environmental groups, which are hell-bent on stopping it, in panic mode. Until now, their efforts in Nevada have been focused on blocking big solar development.

A year ago, the BLM held an oil-and-gas lease sale in Reno. At the sale, 29 federal land leases, totaling about 56 square miles, were auctioned off, bringing in $1.27 million. One of the winning bidders is Houston-based Noble Energy, which plans to drill as many as 20 exploratory wells and could start drilling by the end of the year. Commenting on its acreage, Susan Cunningham, Noble senior vice president, said: “We’re thrilled with the possibilities of this under-explored petroleum system.”

The parcels made available in April 2013 will be developed using hydraulic fracturing, about which Coyner quipped: “If the Silver State’s first big shale play pays off, it could touch off a fracking rush in Nevada.” Despite the fact that fracking has been done safely and successfully for more than 65 years in America, the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Nevada-based senior scientist, Ron Mrowka, told the Las Vegas Review Journal: “Fracking is not a good thing. We don’t feel there is a safe way to do it.”

The BLM made the leases available after someone, or some company, nominated the parcels, and the process to get them ready for auction can easily take a year or longer. One year before the April 2013 sale, CBD filed a “60-day notice of intent to sue” the BLM for its failure to protect the desert tortoise in the Gold Butte area—where Bundy cattle have grazed for more than a century.

Because agencies like the BLM are often staffed by environmental sympathizers, it is possible that CBD was alerted to the pending potential oil-and-gas boom when the April 2013 parcels were nominated—triggering the notice of intent to sue in an attempt to lock up as much land as possible before the “fracking rush” could begin.

deserttortoiseA March 25, 2014, CBD press release—which reportedly served as the impetus for the current showdown—states: “Tortoises suffer while BLM allows trespass cattle to eat for free in Nevada desert.” It points out that the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan purchased and then retired grazing leases to protect the endangered tortoise.

Once Bundy’s cattle are kicked off the land to protect the tortoise, the precedent will be set to use the tortoise to block any oil-and-gas development in the area—after all environmentalists hate cattle only slightly less than they hate oil and gas. Admittedly, the April 13 leases are not in the same area as Bundy’s cattle, however, Gold Butte does have some oil-and-gas exploration that CBD’s actions could nip in the bud.

Intellihub reports: “The BLM claims that they are seizing land to preserve it, for environmental protection. However, it is obvious that environmental protection is not their goal if they are selling large areas of land to fracking companies. Although the land that was sold last year is 300 and some miles away from the Bundy ranch, the aggressive tactics that have been used by federal agents in this situation are raising the suspicion that this is another BLM land grab that is destined for a private auction.”

The Natural News Network also sees that the tortoise is being used as a scapegoat: “Anyone who thinks this siege is about reptiles is kidding themselves.” It adds: “‘Endangered tortoises’ is merely the government cover story for confiscating land to turn it over to fracking companies for millions of dollars in energy leases.” The Network sees that it isn’t really about the critters; after all, hundreds of desert tortoises are being euthanized in Nevada.

Though the Intellihub and Natural News Network point to the “current showdown” as being about allowing oil-and-gas development, I believe that removing the cattle is really a Trojan horse. The tortoise protection will be used to block any more leasing.

On April 5, 2014, CBD sent out a triumphant press release announcing that the “long-awaited” roundup of cattle had begun.

What I am presenting is only a theory; I am just connecting some dots. But over-and-over, an endangered or threated species or habitat is used to block all kinds of economic development. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the lesser prairie chicken and the huge effort ($26 million) a variety of industries cooperatively engaged in to keep its habitat from being listed as threatened. The effort failed and the chicken’s habitat was listed. In my column on the topic, I predicted that these listings were likely to trigger another sage brush rebellion that will challenge federal land ownership. The Bundy showdown has brought the controversy front and center.

propertyrightsFor now, southern Nevada’s last rancher has won the week-long standoff that has been likened to Tienanmen Square. Reports state that “the BLM said it did so because it feared for the safety of employees and members of the public,” not because it has changed its position.

While this chapter may be closing, it may have opened the next chapter in the sagebrush rebellion. The Bundy standoff has pointed out the overreach of federal agencies and the use of threatened or endangered species to block economic activity.

About Marita Noon

Marita Noon

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Try to Ignore the Earth Day Hype

Try to ignore Earth Day, April 22. It won’t be easy. The print and broadcast media will engage in an orgy of environmental tall tales and the usual end-of-the-world predictions. It will scare the heck out of youngsters and bore the heck out of anyone old enough to know that we have had to endure the lies that hide the agendas that have driven the Greens since 1970 when the event was first proclaimed.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It is the third planet from the Sun and fifth-largest of the eight other planets that orbit it (if you don’t demote Pluto). It is the only planet in our galaxy that has life on it and it has an abundance of mineral resources as well as water and the fecundity to grow crops and maintain livestock to sustain the human race.

Despite four decades of being told that the Earth was going to heat up due to greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide and methane, we are currently in a cooling cycle and no child born since 1997 has ever experienced a single day of the dreaded “global warming.”

Humans play a very small role affecting the Earth’s climate although, for example, deforestration is one way it has affects it. Other than cutting down trees, another way is to put the government in charge of vast acres of forest. It has a long record of failing to manage them well to the point where diseases and pests render the trees so weak that wildfires wipe out what would otherwise have thrived.

Otherwise, the Earth is and always has a been a very volatile place, subject to a variety of extraordinary natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The only thing humans can do is clean up and rebuild.

What has mostly changed for humans has been the discovery of energy sources that have transformed and enhanced their lives. Coal, initially, followed by oil and natural gas. All are carbon based, but then, so are humans and other life forms.

The Greens call them “fossil fuels” and some refer to “dirty coal” or seek to demonize “Big Oil.” Between 2007 and 2012, three U.S. oil companies paid a total of $289.7 billion in corporate income taxes. Until the Obama administration took power, coal provided fifty percent of all the electricity Americans used. Completely bogus “science” cited by the Environmental Protection Agency has been used to shut down coal-fired plants and close down coal mines. And, in concert with costly, unpredictable and unreliable “renewable” energy, wind and solar, have driven up the cost of electricity for everyone.

According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, released in March, over the next two decades the EPA’s climate rules aimed at reducing “global warming” (which is not occurring) will cost the economy $2.23 trillion. An estimated 600,000 jobs will be lost. The jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline have been waiting five years for the White House to approve the project.

As mentioned, it has been the many inventions that utilize the energy sources the Greens want to “leave in the ground” that have totally transformed the lives of Americans and others throughout the world. What Earth Day is really about is not the improvement of life, but limits that will reduce the world’s population. The one thing all environmentalists agree upon is that there are too many humans. This is a form of fascism that goes back to the creation of the communist/socialist economic systems, none of which have provided the level of prosperity that capitalism has. Even Communist China has adopted the capitalist model.

The other agenda Greens agree upon is that the government should own and control every square inch of the nation’s (and world’s) landmass. That is why climate change is part of the United Nations’ intention to become the single world government. It is home to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that has clung to the global warming hoax since they invented it in the late 1980s.

Recently, the IPCC released another report claiming “climate change” will melt polar ice, cause the oceans to rise dramatically, generate extreme weather conditions, et cetera. There have always been extreme weather conditions somewhere and the rest of the IPCC claims are just great big lies that have been around for decades.

Along the way, environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth, among countless others of comparable or lesser size have received millions in membership dues, donations, the sale of products, and from the assets that many own. Many, like Greenpeace, enjoy a non-profit status. For example, in 2011, Greenpeace took in $27,465,948 and had assets of $4,653,179. Multiply that against all the others and it adds up to billions.

Green organizations represent a very big business that is constantly at war with legitimate businesses in the energy, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors, seeking to impose laws and regulations that cost them and consumers billions every year.

If you’re a parent take some time to explain to younger children that the Earth is very old and not going to suffer the claims Greens repeat and repeat. As for everyone else, just try to ignore the Earth Day deluge. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

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Agenda 21? What is Agenda 21? by Michael Coffman

Most people have never heard of Agenda 21. If they have heard of it, they likely believe it to be a vague United Nations program that will never see the light of day, or they believe it is imagined by conspiracy theorists. Yet, the principles contained in Agenda 21 are at the heart of many of our federal programs since the late 1990s. They reach every corner of the United States and impact millions of Americans who don’t even realize the document exists.

Although Agenda 21 was decades in the making, it was showcased to the world at the 1992 UN “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. It was there that President George H. Bush, along with leaders from 177 other nations, signed onto this “non-binding” UN action plan that was purportedly designed to assist governments at the local, national and international level implement the principles of so-called “sustainable development.” The “21” in the name refers to the 21st Century.

Agenda 21 made its way into the U.S. the following year when President Clinton quietly established the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The PCSD codified Agenda 21 into U.S. policy through a program called Sustainable America. Today, nearly all federal programs dealing with land management, education, environment and much more are linked to Agenda 21 through Sustainable America.

Because of grassroots pushback, the federal government today rarely uses the term Agenda 21 or Sustainable America anymore – especially with any program it is promoting. Instead, programs which administer Agenda 21’s sustainable development principles are given warm and fuzzy titles like the America’s Great Outdoors InitiativePartnership for Sustainable CommunitiesObama’s Climate Action Plan and many more. Even the newest education fad, Common Core, is linked to Agenda 21, as are the new Next Generation Science Standards.

Google has over 300 million referenUN buildingces to Agenda 21, yet it’s hard for most people to get the truth about Agenda 21 because of the truckloads of smoke and misinformation generated by government bureaucrats and the progressive media. This UN program is indeed real and it is an affront to our personal liberties.\Agenda 21 is supposedly designed to make the world “sustainable” by limiting human activities that environmental extremists believe are harming the planet. That may sound fine to many people – until they understand what it means in practice. In order to protect the environment, Agenda 21 instructs governments to micromanage virtually all human activity – which the governments either severely restrict, or regulate to the point that such activity can be minimalized.

A good case in point took place in California recently, which as has been widely reported, experienced a major three-year drought. In mid-March 2014, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld federal guidelines that guaranteed minimal flow of the Sacramento River to benefit “endangered” Delta Smelt – totally neglecting the needs of local farmers. Most farmers are getting no water even though most of them have long-term contracts guaranteeing it to them.

Delta smeltIronically, the Delta Smelt have survived many severe droughts in the past when farmers got virtually all the available water from the Sacramento River. Yet today the smelt get the water and the farmers don’t – even though many of the farmers will not survive the cutbacks. Seeing the needs of nature as being in conflict with the needs of people is a principle that is at the very heart of Agenda 21.

This is no small matter. Thousands of workers are being put out of work in California, and up to 700,000 acres of prime farmland will be removed from production. Since one-third of America’s fruit and vegetables originate in California’s Central Valley, this means that food prices could jump as much as 3.5%. While that may not seem like much to the more affluent in our society, it could be devastating to seniors and the poor who may no longer be able buy essential fruits and vegetables.

Simply stated, the only way Agenda 21 can work is to deny private citizens their private property rights. This should surprise no one since the UN has maintained that “public control of land use is…indispensable” since the 1976 Habitat I Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yet, recent research sponsored by the World Bank has shown that legally protected private property rights drastically reduce corruption, while establishing the foundation for wealth creation. This in turn also helps the environment as weathier nations spend more on environmental protection than poorer ones. The research stressed that “since these people do not have access to a comprehensive legal property system, they cannot leverage their assets to produce additional wealth.” The bottom line? “Nearly five billion people are legally and economically disenfranchised by their own governments,” reports the Bank.

The vast bulk of this is occurring, of course, in the developing world – but not all. The same thing is happening in the U.S. as Agenda 21 principles are adopted into policy. It has already had devastating effects. According to the Fraser Economic freedom wordsInstitute and CATO’s Economic Freedom of the World, the legal-system and-private-property-rights ranking for the U.S. plummeted from number one in 1980 to 38th in 2011; which not unsurprisingly has occurred since Agenda 21 principles began to be implemented in the 1990s. The U.S. combined economic ranking in the world from 1980 to 2000 was second or third place behind Hong Kong and Singapore. It plummeted to 19th between 2000 and 2011—mostly due to federal spending, debt, skyrocketing regulations (especially from EPA) and, most importantly, loss of a stable legal system and property rights.

Is it any wonder the current “economic recovery” is so anemic. Certainly not all of the economic woes we have experienced since President Obama’s election can be blamed on Agenda 21 policy. But Agenda 21 is no doubt a big factor in ravaging the U.S. economy. Citizens can begin to restore America’s health by supporting rational candidates at every level of government that are committed to ridding this nation of Agenda 21’s “sustainable development” policy plague.

Mike-Coffman-250x300About Michael Coffman

Michael Coffman, PhD, is CEO of Sovereignty International and has worked to raise awareness about the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, one of the key goals of Agenda 21

Declaring War on Americans

You have to be extremely stupid to send a couple of hundred armed government agents to confiscate some bullheaded rancher’s cattle without contemplating how the rest of the nation will interpret your actions.

What was obvious to voters who rejected Barack Obama’s run for the presidency the first and second time was the fact that he lacked any record of competency to be President. The rest voted for him because they wanted to say they helped elect the first black President of the United States and because they believed what this pathological liar said then and since.

The assertion that Obama’s and Eric Holder’s actions and policies are opposed because they are black is absurd. It is an insult to everyone who voted for Obama and to the rest of us.

I love the notion that Cliven Bundy lives in Bunkerville. It reminded me of Bunker Hill and you know how badly that eventually turned out for the British in 1775. What ensued was a guerrilla war led by George Washington that defeated the most powerful nation of its time. There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them. That’s quintessentially American!

Bundy should have paid his grazing rights fees. Other ranchers do. What he has done, however, is bring greater awareness the amount of land that the federal government owns in Nevada and elsewhere, particularly west of the Mississippi, and expose a regime that wants to intimidate Americans with force.

According to Wikipedia:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers America’s public lands, totaling approximately 247.3 million acres, or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. The BLM also manages 700 million acres (2,800,000 km) of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state, and private lands. Most public lands are located in western states, especially Alaska. With approximately 10,000 permanent employees and close to 2,000 seasonal employees, this works out to over 21,000 acres (85 km) per employee. The agency’s budget was $960,000,000 for 2010 ($3.79 per surface acre, $9.38 per hectare)

what police state poster

For a larger view click on the poster.

I can understand the need for national forests and reserves, but I have concerns that those reserves are used as an excuse to deny access to massive energy sources that lie beneath their surface. If the U.S. didn’t own most of Nevada, Bundy would not need to pay grazing fees. Most certainly, his ancestors didn’t. The other excuse, that the government is trying to protect an endangered tortoise, is just part of the environmental movement’s efforts to keep energy sources from being available to all of us. Endangered species is pure fiction.

What worries me and many of my blogger colleagues is the prospect of a renewed effort by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding what is essentially a fairly minor dispute between it and Bundy. Showing some common sense, the BLM backed off its initial effort.

I don’t think the BLM response to Bundy was exclusive to the agency. That decision needed to be sent up the line as far as the White House. Indeed, it was likely initiated by the White House.

Even more scary is the fact that only Fox News channel had reporters on the scene. No other major television news outlet set journalists to record the event. How much in league with the White House does the media have to be to ignore two hundred armed government agents descending on a ranch in Nevada?

I suspect that a lot of Americans and most certainly those who live in the rural areas of the nation are going to remember the Bundy face-off with the BLM come the November midterm elections. While most voters are crowded into the cities on the East and West Coasts, there are a lot of others in “flyover country.’

When you add in all the folks who lost their healthcare insurance and others who have discovered they can’t even buy a policy until next January, that’s going to be a voting bloc that could decimate Democratic Party candidates.

All tyrannies over-reach at some point and we are seeing that occur in the White House. The nation is fortunate to have the House controlled by Republicans and now needs a Senate as well in order to dispense some much needed justice on behalf of Americans.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the White House responds to the May 16 “Operation American Spring” being organized to bring a million or more to Washington, D.C. to participate in an event that will demonstrate the breadth of the unhappiness that has spread since Obama’s first election and is gaining momentum since his second.

The White House response will tell us all a lot about its current state of mind. Whatever it has in mind is likely to leak. The best thing about Washington, D.C. is its inability to keep a secret. The worst thing is the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORY: BLM Attacks Again: From One Rancher to the Next, The BLM Targets 90,000 Acres They Say Doesn’t Belong to Texas

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Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

REMARKS TO THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB

by Michael Crichton – San Francisco – September 15, 2003

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism. And in order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why.

I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

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.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

Am I exaggerating to make a point? I am afraid not. Because we know a lot more about the world than we did forty or fifty years ago. And what we know now is not so supportive of certain core environmental myths, yet the myths do not die. Let’s examine some of those beliefs.

There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did. On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process. And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself. The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

There was even an academic movement, during the latter 20th century, that claimed that cannibalism was a white man’s invention to demonize the indigenous peoples. (Only academics could fight such a battle.) It was some thirty years before professors finally agreed that yes, cannibalism does indeed occur among human beings. Meanwhile, all during this time New Guinea highlanders in the 20th century continued to eat the brains of their enemies until they were finally made to understand that they risked kuru, a fatal neurological disease, when they did so.

More recently still the gentle Tasaday of the Philippines turned out to be a publicity stunt, a nonexistent tribe. And African pygmies have one of the highest murder rates on the planet.

In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don’t, they will die.

And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you’ll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you’ll have infections and sickness and if you’re not with somebody who knows what they’re doing, you’ll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won’t experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you.

The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It’s all talk-and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it’s uninformed talk. Farmers know what they’re talking about. City people don’t. It’s all fantasy.

One way to measure the prevalence of fantasy is to note the number of people who die because they haven’t the least knowledge of how nature really is. They stand beside wild animals, like buffalo, for a picture and get trampled to death; they climb a mountain in dicey weather without proper gear, and freeze to death. They drown in the surf on holiday because they can’t conceive the real power of what we blithely call “the force of nature.” They have seen the ocean. But they haven’t been in it.

The television generation expects nature to act the way they want it to be. They think all life experiences can be tivo-ed. The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn’t give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock. Well-to-do, educated people in an urban environment experience the ability to fashion their daily lives as they wish. They buy clothes that suit their taste, and decorate their apartments as they wish. Within limits, they can contrive a daily urban world that pleases them.

But the natural world is not so malleable. On the contrary, it will demand that you adapt to it-and if you don’t, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.

Many years ago I was trekking in the Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan, when my group came to a river that we had to cross. It was a glacial river, freezing cold, and it was running very fast, but it wasn’t deep—maybe three feet at most. My guide set out ropes for people to hold as they crossed the river, and everybody proceeded, one at a time, with extreme care. I asked the guide what was the big deal about crossing a three-foot river. He said, well, supposing you fell and suffered a compound fracture. We were now four days trek from the last big town, where there was a radio. Even if the guide went back double time to get help, it’d still be at least three days before he could return with a helicopter. If a helicopter were available at all. And in three days, I’d probably be dead from my injuries. So that was why everybody was crossing carefully. Because out in nature a little slip could be deadly.

But let’s return to religion. If Eden is a fantasy that never existed, and mankind wasn’t ever noble and kind and loving, if we didn’t fall from grace, then what about the rest of the religious tenets? What about salvation, sustainability, and judgment day? What about the coming environmental doom from fossil fuels and global warming, if we all don’t get down on our knees and conserve every day?

Well, it’s interesting. You may have noticed that something has been left off the doomsday list, lately. Although the preachers of environmentalism have been yelling about population for fifty years, over the last decade world population seems to be taking an unexpected turn. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. As a result, over the course of my lifetime the thoughtful predictions for total world population have gone from a high of 20 billion, to 15 billion, to 11 billion (which was the UN estimate around 1990) to now 9 billion, and soon, perhaps less. There are some who think that world population will peak in 2050 and then start to decline. There are some who predict we will have fewer people in 2100 than we do today. Is this a reason to rejoice, to say halleluiah? Certainly not. Without a pause, we now hear about the coming crisis of world economy from a shrinking population. We hear about the impending crisis of an aging population. Nobody anywhere will say that the core fears expressed for most of my life have turned out not to be true. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. They were never there—though they still appear, in the future. As mirages do.

Okay, so, the preachers made a mistake. They got one prediction wrong; they’re human. So what. Unfortunately, it’s not just one prediction. It’s a whole slew of them. We are running out of oil. We are running out of all natural resources. Paul Ehrlich: 60 million Americans will die of starvation in the 1980s. Forty thousand species become extinct every year. Half of all species on the planet will be extinct by 2000. And on and on and on.

With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it’s a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn’t quit when the world doesn’t end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts.

So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven’t read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don’t report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn’t carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn’t give a damn.

I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.

I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won’t impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.

Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.

I want to argue that it is now time for us to make a major shift in our thinking about the environment, similar to the shift that occurred around the first Earth Day in 1970, when this awareness was first heightened. But this time around, we need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.

There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.

First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth—that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won’t. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.

The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.

How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There’s a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren’t true. It isn’t that these “facts” are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all—what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.

This trend began with the DDT campaign, and it persists to this day. At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. In the wake of Carol Browner, it is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.

Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race. That’s our past. So it’s time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

Thank you very much.