Diet, Gain Weight, Diet, Gain Weight

My Mother taught gourmet cooking, haute cuisine, for three decades in the local adult schools, first just to women and later with courses just for men as they too wanted to learn how to make succulent dishes, delicious sauces, and to bake as well. She also wrote a cookbook, “Cooking with Wine and High Spirits”, as well as one filled with dishes that the colonial Americans enjoyed.

Meanwhile, at home, my Father and I dined daily like royalty and neither of us got fat. Why? Because eating well means listening to your body when it is hungry and not eating when it’s not. What we are never told amidst the hourly deluge of print and broadcast advertising and reports is that we are each quite individual in terms of inherited genetic traits and that our bodies have different needs as we age,

Instead we are told over and over again that we must be “thin” and that our bodies are not what the culture says is “beautiful.” Try watching television for an hour without getting this message. It starts early and, currently, the First Lady is dictating what school children should or should not eat. It’s none of her business, but it is most certainly big business when you calculate the billions earned by physicians giving nutrition advice, pharmaceutical companies, diet companies offering pre-prepared dinners, others saying their foods are healthier, and all the others that have climbed on the multi-billion dollar gravy train.

An excellent book by Harriet Brown, “Body of Truth”, ($25.99, Da Capo Press) should be must-reading for everyone who has spent their life obsessing about every bite of food they eat. Based on extensive research, over twenty pages of notes citing her sources, she says what virtually any physician, nutritionist, or diet-peddler already knows. “Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that dieting makes people neither thinner, nor healthier. Quite the opposite, actually nearly everyone who diets winds up heavier in the long run, and many people’s health suffers rather than improves, especially over time.”

“Each of us thinks our obsession with weight and body image is ours alone,” says Brown. “We blame ourselves for not being thin enough, sexy enough, shaped just the right way. We believe we’re supposed to fit the standards of the day” and it starts very early in life; by as early as three to five years old.

“This is not a personal issue,” says Brown. “This is not about your weakness or my laziness or her lack of self-discipline. This obsession is bigger than all of us. It’s become epidemic, endemic, and pandemic.”

“Weight-loss treatments are cash cows,” says Brown, “in part because they don’t work; there’s always a built-in base of repeat customers.”

In page after page Brown cites facts that too often do not make it into the pages of the newspapers and magazines we read, or on the radio and television we listen to and watch. For example, “The average American is in fact heavier (by about twenty pounds) and taller (by about an inch) than we were in 1960. And dire predictions notwithstanding, the rates of overweight and obesity leveled off around 2000. We’re not actually getting heavier and heavier; our collective weight has pretty much plateaued.”

Moreover, all those psychotropic medications we’re being prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, psychoses, and other mental health conditions “are known to cause weight gain, especially when taken over a period of time.”

We are constantly told that being overweight or even obese takes years off one’s life, but Brown’s research found that neither condition increased a person’s risk of dying prematurely and being mildly obese increases it only slightly. As you might already suspect, it is the lack of physical activity that poses a great health risk.

Brown cites studies that found that being physically unfit was as much or more of a risk factor for heart disease and death as diabetes, obesity, and other weight-based risk factors. Researchers argue that “it’s better to be fit and fat than unfit and thin.

If any of this hits home with you, if you find yourself criticizing a child for their size and weight, looking in the mirror and being displeased with your own, obsessing over everything you eat or serve, then Brown’s words should be embraced when she says “We’d do better for ourselves and our children if, instead of pushing diets and surgeries and medications, we look at real-world strategies for eating more fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, dancing, playing sports, and other joyful physical activities.”

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.”

“Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat something because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good.”

Listen to what your body is telling you. The message has been passed down from generation to generation of your ancestors through your genetic code. Eat what you want. Stop dieting. Stay active and fit.

There’s countless, endless messages about your weight and how your body looks. When you decide to feel good about yourself, you will be free to ignore them.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Career Girl Network.

President Obama’s FEMA Director: Sounds Like GOP ‘Denier’!?

FEMA Director Craig Fugate said hurricanes cyclical, not linked to AGW! Should FEMA Withhold Funds From FEMA?!

Image result for craig fugate fema

FEMA Director Dr. Craig Fugate

Flashback 2012: Obama Appointed FEMA Dir.: Frequency of Hurricanes Cyclical: Since 1850s ‘a cycle, & its over decades increased activity & decreased activity’ — Won’t Say If he Believes Global Warming Involved – Federal Emergency Mgt. Agency Dir. Craig Fugate: ‘If you look back for the amount information we have going back to about 1850s, you’ll see a cycle, and it’s over decades of increased activity and decreased activity. And so that cycle has been there. As far anything driving that, I’d really defer to climate scientists. But the reality is the history says we’ve had this period of activity, we’ve had a period of quiet’

2015: FEMA targets climate change skeptic governors, could withhold funding

2015: FEMA to withhold disaster-preparedness funds from states that don’t plan for climate change

2015: GOP Louisiana Gov. Jindal: WH Shouldn’t Use FEMA To Push Climate Change Ideology

Fugate’s 2012 comments – ExcerptBill Press asked, “Mr. Director, it seems there’s a lot more tornado activity in a lot more places. Do you see increased activity — looking historically — to hurricanes today? And do you attribute any of that to global warming?”

Fugate in 2012: “Well, I’m not a meteorologist. I’m not a climate scientist, and hurricanes are cyclic,” Fugate responded. “I do know history, and if you look at history and you look at hurricane activity, there are periods of increased and decreased activity that occurs over decades,” Fugate said. “Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s, up until about ’95, the Atlantic was actually in a period of below-average activity, even though you had significant storms like Andrew, Frederic, and David.”…

“But the reality is the history says we’ve had this period of activity, we’ve had a period of quiet,” Fugate said. “We’ve had a period of activity; we’ve had a period of quiet. And so what we’ve seen is not what we — we’ve seen this in history before.”

Climate Depot’s Marc Morano statement:

Morano: ‘Louisiana gets the most FEMA funds due to Hurricanes and the current director Fugate in 2012 was not impressed that hurricanes were influenced by global warming. Louisiana Gov. Jindal can now cite Fugate’s own words as evidence that the FEMA director agrees with the so-called GOP ‘deniers’ on hurricanes not being caused by ‘global warming.’

Unless FEMA director Fugate retracts his comments, the questions looms: Will FEMA withhold funds from FEMA?!

The larger issue is that the states should always prepare for extreme weather regardless of any potential human influence on climate. The whole FEMA issue of withholding funds based on man-made ‘climate change’ acceptance is pure politics, not science.’

Morano additional points:

  1. ‘This FEMA effort is part of a larger picture of global warming promoters attempting to silence skeptics before the UN Paris climate summit and the next Presidential election and its implications for EPA climate regulations.’ See: Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry: ‘I REALLY object to Obama’s ‘denier’ hunt…extreme scientization of political debate by Obama is absolutely pernicious to academic freedom’
  2. ‘Global warming proponents are trying to intimidate GOP presidential hopefuls like Ted Cruz if they say anything skeptical on climate change.’ See: Warmist Smearing Ted Cruz With Junk Science about ‘pause’ & Jerry Brown: Opposition on climate change ‘borders on the immoral’ – Ted Cruz’s skepticism ‘unfit to be running for office’
  3. ‘They are trying to intimidate any scientists who dared testify on behalf of GOP in Congressional hearings. (Pielke Jr., Curry, Lindzen, etc.)’ See: Shocking letter of intimidation from Congressman to MIT re climate skeptic Richard Lindzen
  4. ‘They are trying to ban skeptics like me from appearing on TV because they believe the debate is over. There is petition drive aimed at TV producers by climate activists to ban all skeptics.’ See: ‘Merchants of Doubt’ producer seeks media ban on skeptics: ‘Tell news editors: Stop booking climate deniers!’
  5. The Obama Admin. has a history of intimidating and silencing skeptics. See: Scientific Cleansing: Obama Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says ‘I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior’ &   Skeptics blast Interior Sec. Jewell’s comments as ‘scientific cleansing’: Climate Depot’s Morano: ‘It’s a way for the Obama administration to silence any internal critics’
  6. ‘New Sony pictures film smears skeptics, links them to tobacco scientists.’: See: Reviews are in! Skeptic Morano as villain in warmist film is ‘terrifyingly impressive, sadistic’ – ‘The doc’s most engaging character’ – ‘A magnificent antihero, a cheery, chatty prevaricator’ – ‘Slick’ – ‘Scary’ – ‘A loathsome mercenary’ – ‘Sleazy spin doctor’

Morano note: ‘If current extreme weather trends continue, will FEMA have to reduce funds?!

http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/10/01/extreme-weather-failing-to-follow-global-warming-predictions-hurricanes-tornadoes-droughts-floods-wildfires-see-no-trend-or-declining-trends/

Extreme weather failing to follow ‘global warming’ predictions: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Droughts, Floods, Wildfires, all see no trend or declining trends

Extreme weather at or near historic lows:

New paper unable to link 2013 extreme weather of droughts, heavy rain & storms to AGW

Hurricanes: 3,264 Days Without a Major (Cat 3 +) Hurricane Strike – ‘Nearly 9 years…the last being Wilma in October, 2005′

Tornadoes: U.S. Tornado Count Plummeting to Record Low Levels Three Consecutive Years

Droughts: New Research Confirms Human CO2 Not Causing A Global Drought Increase – ‘Droughts in the U.S. are more frequent and more intense during COLDER periods’

Floods: Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. : ‘Are US Floods Increasing? The Answer is Still No’ — ‘A new paper out today shows flooding has not increased in U.S. over records of 85 to 127 years’ — Quick Flood Facts: ‘The world’s ten deadliest floods all occurred before 1976. The historical flood record is horrific. Here is a small sampling of news stories’

U.S. Heatwaves: ‘The frequency of 90 degree days in the US has plummeted. with three of the five mildest summers occurring since 2004′

Wildfires: 2014 – Quietest Fire Season Of The Decade according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center data — US Forest Fires Near Historic Lows: ‘Burn acreage is much less than half of normal’ according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center

By:  – Climate Depot   October 1, 2014 9:58 AM

Climate Depot Round Up:  ”Despite the fact that climate activists have changed renamed ‘global warming’ into ‘climate change’ and then to climate ‘disruption’ and ‘global weirding’, the weather and climate is failing to cooperate. Below is a round up of the latest on extreme weather data and studies.”

Extreme Weather:

Fine print in Obama’s climate report breaks from warmist narrative — Admits no trends in droughts, storms, tornadoes and hail! – After cranking up the fear of increasing droughts, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, the report offers some little disclaimers admitting to unsettled science: But the fine print that few will ever read acknowledges the real uncertainties of something as complex as the planet’s atmosphere. – “There has been no universal trend in the overall extent of drought across the continental U.S. since 1900,” the authors observe. We also learn that “trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain and are being studied intensively.”

New paper unable to link 2013 extreme weather of droughts, heavy rain & storms to AGW
Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. ‘the bottom line on this new NOAA special report: If you are attributing any extreme other than heat waves to Anthropogenic Climate Change, you are on weak (or worse) scientific ground.”

Hurricanes:

3,264 Days Without a Major (Cat 3 +) Hurricane Strike – ‘Nearly 9 years…the last being Wilma in October, 2005′ – Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer: As of today (October 1) it’s been nearly 9 years since a major hurricane (Cat 3 or greater) has struck the U.S., the last being Wilma in October, 2005. Remember the 2005 hurricane season? Landfalling hurricanes right and left. Katrina! This was going to be the new normal in a Global Warming world. Then the bottom dropped out of tropical activity.

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Tornadoes:

U.S. Tornado Count Plummeting to Record Low Levels Three Consecutive Years

Possible record low number of tornadoes in Oklahoma

Wildfires:

Colorado WILDFIRES NOT MORE SEVERE since 1800s, says ‘massive’ University of Colorado study reveals – Funded by NSF

US Forest Fires Near Historic Lows: ‘Burn acreage is much less than half of normal’ according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center

2014 – Quietest Fire Season Of The Decade according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center data

Real Science: ‘Burn acreage so far this year in the US is lowest in a decade, less than half or normal, and one of the lowest on record.’

Scientist tells U.S. Senate: Global Warming Not Causing More Wildfires – ‘To attribute this human-caused increase in fire risk to carbon dioxide emissions is simply unscientific’

U.S. Networks Blame Wildfires, Droughts on Climate Change, Despite Fact They’ve Declined

Droughts:

New Research Confirms Human CO2 Not Causing A Global Drought Increase

NPR: 3 new papers make the case that forest fires in the West today burn less than in historical times

Climatologist Dr. David LEGATES TELLS U.S. Senate: ‘Droughts in the U.S. are more frequent and more intense during colder periods’

California drought is not related to climate change, much more severe ancient droughts occurred with ‘safe’ CO2 levels

California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say – ‘The state has been parched for much longer stretches before that 163-year historical period began’

Texas droughts – ‘The drought years of the 1950’s were both longer lasting , and more severe than the recent drought, as NOAA’s drought index shows.’

Floods:

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. Rips flooding claims using UN IPCC quotes: ‘No gauge-based evidence has been found for a climate-driven, globally widespread change in the magnitude and frequency of floods’

Pielke Jr.: What did UN IPCC AR5 conclude on trends in flooding? 5..4..3..: ‘There continues to be a lack of evidence & thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude &/or frequency of floods on a global scale.’ -Pielke Jr.: But doesn’t more extreme precipitation mean more floods? Again the SREX authors in 5..4..3: ‘Despite the diagnosed extreme-precipitation-based signal, and its possible link to changes in flood patterns, no gauge-based evidence has been found for a climate-driven, globally widespread change in the magnitude and frequency of floods during the last decades.’Pielke Jr. : ‘How about IPCC SREX authors on floods? 5..4..3..: ‘A direct statistical link between anthropogenic climate change and trends in the magnitude/frequency of floods has not been established”Prof. Pielke Jr. : ‘Are US Floods Increasing? The Answer is Still No’ — ‘A new paper out today shows flooding has not increased in U.S. over records of 85 to 127 years’ — ‘This adds to a pile of research that shows similar results around the world’

Quick Flood Facts: ‘The world’s ten deadliest floods all occurred before 1976. The historical flood record is horrific. Here is a small sampling of news stories’

Shocking extremes in U.S. drought and flood conditions! … They occurred in the 1930′s, 1950′s, 1970′s, 1980′s… During the past decade, not so much’

Federal study finds no evidence that climate change caused more severe flooding during last century!– Inconvenient Reality: U.S. Geological Survey finds in some regions ‘floods become LESS SEVERE as greenhouse gas emissions have increased’ — USGS scientist Robert Hirsch: ‘Currently we do not see a clear pattern that enables us to understand how climate change will alter flood conditions in the future’ — But, USGS pleads they need more study (and money!): ‘Noted more research is necessary to better understand the relationship between climate change and flooding’

All Of The World’s Deadliest Floods Occurred With CO2 Well Below 350 PPM — ‘We know that hurricanes have declined, tornadoes have declined, floods have declined, and droughts have declined. That is why history has been redefined to start in the 1970s’

Global precipitation fails to obey theory of global warming: ‘There has been a slight decrease in global precipitation over past 30 years of global warming’

100/500 Year Floods : Every Few Weeks? Reality Check: ‘One of the big lies of 2011 is the claim that ‘the new normal is 100 year floods every year’ — ‘A search of news archives finds out that 100 year floods have been reported constantly, ever since someone thought the term up’

UK Scientist suggests Gore distorted his study: ‘Al Gore is doing a disservice to science by overplaying the link between climate change and weather’

New peer-reviewed paper on the 2010 Pakistan floods – nothing to do with ‘climate change’

1974: Climatologists Blamed US/Pakistan Flooding On Global Cooling

Is Flood Magnitude in the USA Correlated with Global CO2 Levels? Answer: No — ‘The results of 21 peer-reviewed studies on flooding & climate variability in N. America: ‘If anything, N. American flooding tends to become both less frequent and less severe when the planet warms…on average, we would expect that any further warming of the globe would tend to further reduce both the frequency and severity of flooding in N. America, which, of course, is just the opposite of what the world’s climate alarmists continue to claim would occur’

Which of the below worst floods on record were caused by carbon dioxide?

Date Location Dead
1887, September-October Hwang Ho (Yellow) River, China Over 900,000
1939 North China 500000
1642 Kaifeng, Honan Province, China Over 300,000
1099 England and the Netherlands 100000
1287, December 14 The Netherlands 50000
1824 Russia 10000
1421, November 18 The Netherlands 10000
1964, November-December Mekong Delta, South Vietnam 5000
1951, August 6-7 Manchuria 4800
1948, June Foochow, China 350

Filthy Stinking Profits: Entrepreneurs have a nose for potential by DANIEL J. SMITH, ZAC THOMPSON

Imagine a product that leaves your home covered in soot. Worse, imagine it makes your entire neighborhood smell like rotten eggs. The stuff discovered in Lima, Ohio, did just that. “Even touching this oil,” writes historian Burton Folsom, “meant a long, soapy bath or social ostracism.”

Why even bother to pump such “skunk oil” out of the ground?

When John, an entrepreneur, brought a new “investment opportunity” to the board of his company, suggesting that it spend millions of dollars to buy and store the stinking Lima crude, they must have thought it was the dumbest idea they’d ever been asked to risk money on.

But John was confident that a technology could be found to make the rejected oil usable. Many successful entrepreneurs can sympathize with how he must have felt. They likely have been in similar situations, where no one else saw the hidden potential they did in an idea or innovation.

In fact, Sam Altman, the president of the famous Silicon Valley business accelerator, Y Combinator, revealed that to make profits, his firm specifically searches for companies in which other investors don’t see the hidden potential. “We don’t want ideas that are whatever the current fashionable thing is,” says Altman. “So by the time everyone is already starting something in some category, it’s too late.”

Altman goes on to explain that to make a profit, you have to find ideas that look like bad ideas to most people, but have the potential to actually be good ideas. That investment strategy resulted in the creation of successful companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit.

The most assured way to become rich in a market society is to discover a new idea that can enhance the lives of millions of consumers and be the first to invest in it. As soon as the pathbreaking entrepreneur demonstrates an idea’s potential by earning profits, other investors will quickly enter the market. The increased competition will quickly spur innovation, quality improvements, and lower prices, benefiting millions of consumers in the process. In fact, William Nordhaus estimates that, while initial innovators do earn handsome returns, consumers are overwhelmingly the primary beneficiaries of innovations; innovators receive only about 2.2 percent of the total value to society generated by their innovations.

Even computers and televisions, goods and services that, with perfect hindsight, should have been seen as obvious profit opportunities, demonstrate the skepticism that often surrounds new innovations. Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, famously predicted in 1977 that “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox figured people would “soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night” and predicted household television would never take off.

The path to enhancing the lives of millions of consumers isn’t always obvious or easy. It is often fraught with great personal risk and financial peril, and met with great skepticism.

Perhaps no one exemplifies taking the risky and difficult path to improving others’ lives more than our skunk-oil entrepreneur: the world’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller.

While some have heard of Rockefeller’s humble background and the hard work he devoted to building his fortune, few people know the incredible foresight he exhibited in pursuing ventures that nearly every other investor believed to be bad investments, allowing him unexpectedly to improve the lives of ordinary people.

When it came to skunk oil, Rockefeller saw an opportunity to employ resources that no one else saw a use for. He was convinced that he could purchase up the dirt-cheap crude oil and then invest in discovering a technological innovation that would make it usable. When Standard Oil’s board initially refused to finance the risky project, Rockefeller declared that he would stake some of his own personal fortune, some two to three million dollars, eventually causing the board to grant Rockefeller permission. The investment proved lucrative, as Rockefeller found a technology that would refine the oil while neutralizing the horrid smell. The discovery brought the price of kerosene down to record lows, benefiting millions of consumers (not to mention helping save the whales in the process!).

Rockefeller had a knack for seeing the hidden potential in opportunities that no one else saw. When the Mesabi iron mine was discovered in Minnesota in the late 1800s, investors avoided what they considered to be a risky venture because Mesabi’s ore was notorious for clogging drilling machines. Even iron and steel experts such as Andrew Carnegie saw the ore as worthless; he, too, chose not to invest in the mine. Only Rockefeller made the bold move of investing in the mines. As with skunk oil, he was certain that this ore could be refined and made useable with, at that time, nonexistent technology.

Rockefeller was, once again, proved right when he was later able to provide cheap and useable ore to steel manufacturers after a technology was discovered that made the ore usable. His ability to see a profit opportunity where no one else saw one substantially reduced the costs of steel manufacturing. Cities such as Pittsburgh and Birmingham exploded in economic growth as new factories were opened to utilize the new source of ore. A reduction in steel manufacturing costs allowed for the construction of new railways, bridges, the first skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, and an overall greater infrastructure. Carnegie came to regret his initial judgment and eventually bought the mine’s entire output from Rockefeller.

Not just hardworking and thrifty, Rockefeller also had a natural inclination to see profit where other investors and entrepreneurs saw nothing. Just as importantly, Rockefeller was willing to take great risks investing in projects that no one else dared to invest in. He recognized, as entrepreneurs do today, that substantial profits can only be made by discovering the hidden potential in opportunities that others did not see. Once the first pathbreaking entrepreneur realizes profits, additional investors enter the field, quickly driving down costs and dissipating profits for new investors, all to the benefit of consumers.

Entrepreneurship, when left unfettered, is a continuous process that encourages the creation of seemingly impossible products and services that enrich the lives of billions.

ABOUT DANIEL J. SMITH

Daniel J. Smith is an assistant professor of economics at the Johnson Center at Troy University.

ABOUT ZAC THOMPSON

Zac Thompson is a graduate of the economics program at Troy University.

It’s Not “Global Warming” — It’s “Springtime 2015”

After decades of environmental claims that “global warming” would plunge the planet into catastrophic harm to its human and other inhabitants—at the same time blaming humans for causing it—the sheer arrogance and ignorance of these claims always ignores the real power that is represented by the Earth itself and the beginning of Spring should be proof enough for anyone paying any attention.

This year, Spring begins in the northern hemisphere on Friday, March 20 at 6:45 PM EDT. In the southern hemisphere it marks the beginning of Autumn.

Spring manifests itself in ways we take for granted yet it is a combination of many events that should make us marvel if we gave them any thought. For example, where does all the snow go? The U.S. and the rest of the world set records of snowfall levels throughout Winter.

As noted by the U.S. Geological Service, “in the world-wide scheme of the water cycle, runoff from snowmelt is a major component of the global movement of water.”

“Mountain snow fields act as natural reservoirs for many western United States water-supply systems, storing precipitation from the cool season, when most precipitation falls and forms snowpacks…As much as 75 percent of water supplies in the western states are derived from snowmelt.” Snowmelt ensures sufficient water for all of us and for the Earth that depends upon it for the growth of all vegetation.

How do the flowers know it is Spring? In a 2011 article for the Inside Science News Service, Katherine Gammon noted that “Just in time for the birds and bees to start buzzing, the flowers and the trees somehow know when to open their buds to start flowering. But the exact way that plants get their wake-up call has been something of a mystery.” A molecular biologist at the University of Texas, Sibum Sung, has been trying to solve that mystery and has discovered “a special molecule in plants that gives them the remarkable ability to recall Winter and to bloom on schedule in the Spring.”

Nothing on Earth happens by accident. It is a remarkable inter-related system to which we give little thought. The sheer power of all those blooming flowers and trees should tell us something about the power of Nature that dwarfs all the claims that humans have any influence whatever on the events of Spring or any other time of the year.

Then think about the role of the animals with whom we share the planet. In the Spring many come out of hibernation in their dens, while others such as birds make lengthy migrations from the warmer climes to those in the north. The huge migration of Monarch Butterflies should leave us speechless. Spring is a time when many animals give birth to their young.

AA - Aurora BorealisA sign of the Spring that leaves us breathless is the way it is the season for the aurora borealis. Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA notes that “For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. From Canada to Scandinavia they provide a great show.

“Such outbursts are called auroral substorms and they have long puzzled physicists,” says UCLA space physicist Vassilis Angelopoulos. They represent “a potent geomagnetic storm.” The equinox in Spring and Autumn is a time when magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are most favorable.

One book, “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson, first published in September 1962, started the environmental campaign against pesticide use for any reason, leading most famously to the ban on DDT in the U.S. What Carson neglected to tell readers was how they were supposed to cope with the trillions of insects that come with the advent of warm weather.

No pesticide use does not mean less mosquitoes, less termites, less flies, less ants, or less of any other insect species and the diseases they spread, property damage, and the damage they cause to crops of all descriptions. And, of course, the much of the pollination of crops and other vegetation depends on insect species.

Carson’s claims of a silent spring bereft of bird species was a blatant lie. Rich Kozlovich, an authority on pest management, noted that “Bird populations were never so high in North America” despite the use of DDT and other pesticides. “Carson’s claim about how the poor robin was going to disappear was not only wrong, she was deliberately lying.”

“Carson was a science writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and absolutely had to know that in 1960 there were 12 times more robins, 21 times more cowbirds, 38 times more blackbirds, 131 times more grackles, etc., compared to 1941 numbers.”

Spring is a time of renewal in the northern hemisphere and it occurs with enormous levels of natural power. Most people, however, are oblivious to that power as they enjoy the sight of flowers and trees blooming.

I could almost guarantee that you will read or hear about “global warming” or “climate change” being attributed to the arrival of Spring. Do yourself a favor. Keep in mind that those claims, like Rachel Carson’s, represent an anti-humanity, anti-energy, and anti-capitalism agenda of the environmental movement.

Instead, celebrate the seasonal renewal of life on Earth and give thanks for the energy that permits you to control the environment of the structures where you live and work, that provides you the means to get in your car and go anywhere, and that powers every device you use.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: California Dem Warns of Global Warming-Induced Prostitution

Is John Kerry a Moron?

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John Kerry testifying before Congress on Vietnam War.

I can recall John Kerry, Obama’s Secretary of State, from the days he testified to a congressional committee and slandered his fellow soldiers as the spokesman for Veterans Against the Vietnam War in 1971. I was appalled then and my opinion of the man has not changed since those days. I opposed the war, too, but I did not blame it on the men who were conscripted to fight it, nor did I believe the charges he leveled against some of them.

These days Kerry is engaged in securing an agreement with the Iranians, if not to stop their program to make their own nuclear weapons than to slow it to a later date. Never mind that the Iranian government is listed by our own government as a leading sponsor of terrorism worldwide or that they have signed such agreements in the past and then tossed out the inspectors.

Kerry is convinced that the Obama administration can get an agreement that is, in his own words, “not legally binding”, nor is it a treaty that the U.S. Senate would have to vote for or against. In point of fact, President Obama can make the deal—sign the agreement—just as Presidents have done for over two hundred years. It can then be abrogated by whoever the next President will be.

Why Obama and Kerry are doing this defies my understanding. It gives the Iranians more time to reach nuclear capability. It is opposed by every nation in the Middle East. It puts every nation within reach of Iran’s missiles at risk and it virtually guarantees the destruction of Israel, a goal of Iran’s Islamic Revolution from the day it was born. Kerry is negotiating with people who took our diplomats hostage in 1979 and have played a role in the deaths of many Americans since then.

Is John Kerry a moron? I think so.

I asked myself this question in regard to another area of U.S. policy which the Secretary of State is also championing even if millions around the world have concluded otherwise.

On March 2nd, Kerry addressed the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C, telling them what he has been saying in many forums. Let us understand that “climate change” is the name being used to replace “global warming”, because the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the past 18 years or so. And let us understand that “climate change” has been happening for 4.5 billion years.

Kerry said, “So when science tells us that our climate is changing and human beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, ‘Well, I dispute that’ or ‘I deny that elementary truth’?”

The problem with this is that human beings are not causing the planet’s climate change. Forces far greater than humans are involved, not the least of which is the Sun.

As for science, its most fundamental methodology is to constantly challenge the various ‘truths’ put forward as theories until they can be proved to be true by being independently reproduced. Nothing about the “global warming” theories has been true. All of the computer models on which it was based have been proven inaccurate. In some cases, they were deliberately rigged.

On television meteorologists remind us that every day, indeed, from morning to night, the temperatures of the area about which they are reporting are in a constant state of change. They show us satellite photography and mapping that demonstrates how dynamic the weather is on any spot on Earth. The climate, however, is measured in decades and centuries. Every one of the doomsday predictions of the global warming “scientists” and propagandists have been wrong.

The enemies of the use of energy to enhance and improve the lives of the residents of Earth began to claim in the 1970s and 80s that carbon dioxide (CO2) was threatening the climate.

At best, CO2 is a very minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, about 0.04%, which gets it rated as “a trace gas.” As such, it plays no role with regard to the climate.

Kerry asserted that climate change is “one of the biggest threats facing our planet today” and should be ranked with terrorism, epidemics, poverty and nuclear proliferation…” Oh, wait! Isn’t this the same Secretary of State negotiating with Iran to allow it to become a nuclear power?

And what “solution” does he offer to reduce the “threat” of climate change? Kerry urged that the U.S. transition away from “dirty sources of energy” such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Writing in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley noted that “In 2015, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.”

Fossil fuels have made the difference between modern life and burning cow dung to cook dinner. A billion people on Earth still do not have electricity.

Less obvious, but significantly more threatening is the White House effort to get the U.S. signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its International Climate Justice tribunal. This is a follow-up to the 1977 Kyoto Protocol that was unanimously rejected by the U.S. Senate. Why? Because such treaties threaten the sovereignty of the U.S. and, just as importantly, because the entire United Nation’s climate program is a huge fraud.

This is what John Kerry wants the U.S. to agree to, just like the Iran deal, and just to be sure the U.S. Senate, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, doesn’t have a say in it, he and the President are calling these deals anything other than a treaty.

Is John Kerry a moron? Maybe not as dumb as he seems to be, but surely cynical and devious.

Unfortunately, he is the Secretary of State.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: California Dem Warns of Global Warming-Induced Prostitution

Reviews are in! Skeptic Morano as villain in warmist film is ‘terrifyingly impressive, sadistic’…

‘The doc’s most engaging character’ – ‘A magnificent antihero, a cheery, chatty prevaricator’ – ‘Slick’ – ‘Scary’ – ‘A loathsome mercenary’ – ‘Sleazy spin doctor’

New Warmist film by Sony Pictures, ‘Merchants of Doubt’, portrays Marc Morano as evil nemesis/arch-enemy of climate change promoters – Morano is ‘a grinning-skull nihilist’

Global warming movies sets out to smear skeptics, but ‘features ‘a semi-affectionate portrait of professional attack dog Marc Morano’

[Note: The other upcoming documentary, Morano’s skeptical global warming documentary, ‘Climate Hustle’ ,is set to rock climate debate – Release set for later in 2015. Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry: ‘Morano’s film Climate Hustle; check out the trailer.  Seems to more entertaining anyways than ‘Merchants of Doubt.’…Stay tuned…]

‘Merchants of Doubt’ director pushing to ban Morano & other skeptics from TV!

New York Times: Morano exemplifies ‘slickness, grandiosity & charm’

New York Times: ‘Morano is a cheerful and unapologetic promoter of climate-change skepticism’

Morano in starring role as villain in warmist film ‘Merchants of Doubt’ – Morano: ‘I’m not a scientist, but I play one on TV’

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry: ‘Morano is actually quite broadly knowledgeable about climate science and the associated politics’

Warmist review of Merchants Of Doubt criticizes film for being ‘swindled by the charm of charismatic talking heads’ like Morano

Warmist Naomi Oreskes: ‘People like Morano have made a career out of being contrarians, and they are very good at it. When a scientist comes up against a well-trained, savvy person, scientists will always lose in the debate.’

Warmist Randy Olson laments: ‘Wish the enviros had someone comparable to Morano, but they don’t’

TV villain slogan: “If only he’d used his powers for good, instead of for evil.”

Morano responds to tobacco smear: ‘The warmists have it exactly backwards. It is the global warming proponents who are guilty of the tobacco tactics.’ See: Flashback: Warmists’ mimic tobacco industry tactics: ‘Like tobacco industry, Warmists’ manufactured uncertainty & fear by stridently proclaiming certainty & consensus based on dubious & uncertain modeled results predicting disastrous consequences of a warmer climate’

Watch ‘Merchants of Doubt’ Trailer here:

Morano featured as villain in new warmist documentary: ‘Merchants of Doubt’ – Marc Morano in warmist film: ‘I am not a scientist, although I do occasionally play one on TV — Ok — Hell, more than occasionally.’ – ‘We (skeptics) the negative force, we are just trying to stop stuff.’

[Note: For those not interested in attempted smear job on global warming skeptics, Hollywood has the answer. See ‘Kingsman’ instead! See: The movie ‘Kingsman’: ‘The most subversive anti-AGW movie’ – ‘This movie presents in Technicolor the awful nature of alarmists; they are elitist, narcissistic and misanthropic. And riddled in hypocrisy’]

Producer of new Oreskes Warmist film: ‘My goal was to make people angry that they are being lied to’ – Morano featured as villain in new warmist film

NYT: Morano exemplifies ‘slickness, grandiosity & charm’ – New York Times: ‘Morano is a cheerful and unapologetic promoter of climate-change skepticism’ – NYT film review of warmist documentary ‘Merchants of Doubt’: ‘Public relations, in contrast, is built on slickness, grandiosity and charm. These traits are exemplified by Marc Morano, a cheerful and unapologetic promoter of climate-change skepticism and currently the executive director of the website Climate Depot. One of the film’s conceits is that the actions of Mr. Morano and his colleagues can be con games and magic tricks.’

Newspaper calls Marc Morano ‘terrifyingly impressive’ and ‘sadistic’ – Daily Californian’s film review of ‘Merchants of Doubt’: ‘Marc Morano is one of the terrifyingly, impressive and yet sadistic experts with this skill set. His statements add shock and give viewers a hard-hitting wakeup call’

Morano featured in Newsweek Mag: Warmist filmmaker: ‘I think Morano’s very funny, he’s very smart’ – Climate Depot featured as villain in new warmist Oreskes film

Mag. reviews ‘Merchants of Doubt’ – Calls Morano ‘a grinning-skull nihilist LulzSec member’ – Calls Climate Depot ‘leading site for climate change skeptics’ – Excerpt: Morano is ‘a grinning-skull nihilist LulzSec member, hacking reality for the LOLs—a mirror-world Yes Man who has decided there’s more to be gained in being an actual yes man.’ – ‘Morano, who ascended from accosting celebrities outside the men’s room for Rush Limbaugh’s TV show in the mid-1990s to debating Bill Nye on global warming on CNN in 2012, seems to relish revealing the secrets to his greatest illusions.

Warmist review of Merchants Of Doubt criticizes film for being ‘swindled by the charm of charismatic talking heads’ like Morano

Marc Morano was great in the film. It flopped anyway.

‘Merchants of Doubt’ producer seeks media ban on skeptics: ‘Tell news editors: Stop booking climate deniers!’

San Francisco Chronicle Calls Climate Depot’s Morano ‘shifty’, ‘slick’, & ‘scary’ – San Francisco Chronicle on ‘Merchants of Doubt’ film: ‘Much more powerful are the moments like the interview with climate change ‘expert’ Marc Morano, who luxuriates in his shifty tactics and misdirection plays. To him, it’s all fun and games — he’s both slick and scary.’

Salon Mag. calls Morano ‘a loathsome mercenary’ – ‘Driven by perverse conviction…to jam his thumb into the eye of liberal orthodoxy’

Film Review: Morano is ‘the documentary’s most engaging character’ – One of ‘sleazy spin doctors who will stop at nothing to obscure the truth’ – ‘Merchants of Doubt’ – The documentary’s most engaging character, after all, is self-described creator of chaos Marc Morano, who runs the climate denial site Climate Depot and who frequently appears as an “expert” on network news. (“I am not a scientist, although I do play one on TV,” he explains.)

LA Weekly review: Warmist film features ‘a magnificent antihero in Marc Morano, a cheery, chatty prevaricator’ – LA Weekly review of ‘Merchants of Doubt’: [Producer Robby] Kenner finds a magnificent antihero in Marc Morano, a cheery, chatty prevaricator who has made a mint by muddying water. His job is to promote skepticism of a truth that even Skeptic magazine believes in, and since Morano’s cocksure, and good at yelling on TV, he steamrolls over climate scientists on cable despite his lack of expertise. In interviews, he’s disarmingly guileless…The film and Morano agree on one thing: All that the deniers of climate change have to do to succeed is reduce the country’s certainty. They’ve been wildly successful.’

NY Post film review features Morano as a ‘shifty pundit’– ‘Merchants of Doubt’ doc pulls curtain back on shifty pundits’ – ‘One oft-quoted “climate change skeptic,” Marc Morano, admits in the film, ‘I’m not a scientist, but I do play one on TV occasionally…hell, more than occasionally.’

Warmist producer of Oreskes film: ‘Morano was very funny, very charming, and I think does great damage, but he was honest’ – San Fran Chronicle: Marc Morano, whose job it is to rebut climate change, is not only candid but also humorous. Kenner credits him with helping to set the tone of the film. “Morano was really frank,” he says. “That was a shocking interview. Any time I asked him a hard question, he was far from being insulted. Nothing could scare him. He was very funny, very charming, and I think does great damage, but he was honest.”

Watch: Morano featured as villain in new warmist documentary: ‘Merchants of Doubt’

Review: Warmist film features ‘a semi-affectionate portrait of professional attack dog Marc Morano’ – Review of ‘Merchants of Doubt’: ‘The totally amoral Morano, who more or less admits that he’s only in it for the thrill of the game. There’s a reason folks like Singer and Morano are able to affect public policy with specious data, and it’s because they’re good at playing characters and cracking self-deprecating jokes and generally being interesting on camera, and real climate scientists aren’t.’

Warmist thinks Morano is both ‘a talking bobble head for cable news’ and a ‘little man behind the curtain’?! – Morano is one of the ‘shills for the fossil fuel-industry’ – ‘The documentary’s interview with Morano reveals that he learned many of his tricks from door-to-door sales, including the need to keep it simple so that people can fill in the blanks with their pre-existing biases. Morano’s biggest piece of advice is that the best way to attack science is to attack individuals.’

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry rips the ‘bankruptcy of the ‘Merchants of Doubt’ meme – ‘Morano is actually quite broadly knowledgeable about climate science and the associated politics’ – Curry on ‘Merchants of Doubt’: ‘Censorship and propaganda; lets call a spade a spade.’ – Curry: ‘I’ve met Marc Morano a number of times. He is actually quite broadly knowledgeable about climate science and the associated politics.  He is the one ‘doubter’ in this whole piece that actually has some influence in the current climate debate.’  – ‘And coming sometime next fall (I think; no release date set) is Marc Morano’s film Climate Hustle; check out the trailer.  Seems to more entertaining anyways than ‘Merchants of Doubt.’

Flashback: German Mag does wacko profile of Climate Depot! Morano the Godfather?! German Die Zeit declares: Doubt Being Fanned Worldwide By Climate Godfather Marc Morano

Godfather Morano plays villain in movie – ‘No movie is complete without a good villain, and Morano is good, because he is fearless and committed. I was impressed last week with the Mel Gibson villain role in The Expendables. Gibson has that spark of impetuosity, fearlessness and confidence that Morano displays–you just know when presented with a choice–Morano will ACT WITH VIGOR, as Yogi said–when you come to a fork in the road, take it. Morano will take BOTH CHOICES AND THEN DOUBLE BACK AND DO IT AGAIN.’

Film Review of Warmist film Merchants of Doubt says Climate Depot’s Morano is ‘proudly sleazy’ in ‘discrediting the science’ – Producer ‘Robert Kenner’s polished and deftly argued film finds compelling subjects on both sides of the fence, from the proudly sleazy Marc Morano, who boasts of his underhanded tactics to discredit the science.’

‘Merchants of Doubt’ producer Robert Kenner on Morano : ‘Marc was not thin-skinned. If I asked a tough question, he’d give a tougher answer’

‘Morano seems to be the most aggressive, bullying the scientists he debates’ – Morano stars as villain in new warmist doc ‘Merchants of Doubt’ –

Sony Classics Grabs Docu ‘Merchants Of Doubt’ About Professional Climate-Change Skeptics – Morano featured as part of ‘a secretive group of charismatic pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion’

‘The Marx Brothers’: Director Robby Kenner of ‘Merchants of Doubt’ is’ little brother of 1960s radical leftist Martin Kenner’ – Naomi Oreskes warned many skeptics ‘see environmentalists as creeping communists. They see them as reds under the bed. They call them watermelons — you know, green on the outside, red on the inside. And they worry that environmental regulation will be the slippery slope to socialism.’

‘Merchants of Doubt’ producer seeks media ban on skeptics: ‘Tell news editors: Stop booking climate deniers!’

Skeptic responds to ‘Merchants of Doubt’ producer’s Call to ban skeptics from TV – ‘Surely the best way to defeat a bad scientific argument is to engage with it and show how it is in error. Denying people free speech in the media only fuels the flames.’

Early returns: Warmist film ‘Merchants of Doubt’ struggling at box office – Heartland friend Marc Morano won the “Best Reading of Emails While Traveling in a Car in a Crummy Documentary” Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

WashPost Film Critic Applauds Film Charging Climate ‘Deniers’ Just Like Tobacco Lobbyists

Morano responds: ‘The warmists have it exactly backwards. It is the global warming proponents who are guilty of the tobacco tactics.’ See: Flashback: Warmists’ mimic tobacco industry tactics: ‘Like tobacco industry, Warmists’ manufactured uncertainty & fear by stridently proclaiming certainty & consensus based on dubious & uncertain modeled results predicting disastrous consequences of a warmer climate’

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. Rips ‘Big Climate’ for having ‘similarities’ with ‘Big Tobacco’ & ‘Big NFL’ – Pielke Jr. specifically linked UN IPCC and Michael Mann’s tactics to ‘Big Tobacco’ and ‘Big NFL’

Naomi Oreskes, THE Merchant of Doubt herself, uses tactics of the tobacco lobby – ‘Oreskes wrote an entire book designed to denigrate scientists based on tenuous links on unrelated topics with 20 year old documents. She is The Merchant of Doubt — it’s what she sells — “doubts” about the motivation of skeptical scientists. Her fantasies about skeptics using tobacco tactics is pure psychological projection…In a science debate about the climate, the only things that matter are evidence and reasoning about the climate. Those who can’t point out flaws in the science debate launch personal attacks from the gutter instead.’

Open Letter: Warmist Oreskes ‘Merchants of Doubt’ may face ‘potential major legal entanglement?’

Merchants of ‘smear’ movie slanders eminent Physicist Dr. Fred Singer – Singer Fires Back! – Dr. Singer: ‘I would prefer to avoid having to go to court; but if we do, we are confident that we will prevail.’ – ‘Oreskes book “Merchants of Doubt” contains a number of serious scientific errors; also, it is not in accordance with the kind of scholarship expected from an academic historian.  Instead of primary sources, she relies on secondary and even tertiary sources who have obvious, demonstrated agenda.’

Marshall Institute Rebuts Oreskes Silly New Book: ‘A Critique of Merchants of Doubt’

Report: ‘Merchants of Smear’ – Debunks claims that skeptics are ‘paid by industry to manufacture doubt about’ climate change

Warmist Naomi Oreskes warns of the mass extinction of household pets

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: ‘Merchants of Doubt’ in a nutshell: ‘How a 90 yr-old man and a few dead friends fool the stupid American public, end of civilization results.’

Related Link: 

Flashback: Newspaper Credits ‘Celebrity skeptic’ Morano with Fueling Growing Climate Skepticism: ‘Morano is one of the main leaders of the new breed of climate skeptics’

FL Governor Rick Scott, Secretary of State John Kerry Both Lose Spat over Climate

The people can only laugh and shake their heads to see the antics of both Secretary of State Kerry and Florida Governor Rick Scott as they throw darts at each other’s party and their knowledge, or lack thereof, on the subject of climate change.

The latest spat is driven by comments from the ever incredulous Secretary of State John Kerry when he indirectly condemned Governor Scott’s apparent silent policy of prohibiting state employees using terms like “climate change,” and “global warming.”

Kerry’s counter to Scott’s unwritten policy came via a diatribe at the Atlantic Council this week. Kerry said “…by what right do people stand up and just say ‘I dispute that’ or ‘I deny that’ …when science tells us that our climate is changing and human beings are largely causing that change.”

It was a media sop that would have carried even more weight if he were right about the “science” of climate change. Sadly, he was not.

Kerry’s implication is that we should all blindly follow the United Nations and U.S. government climate reports and their science that say mankind’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the primary cause of climate variation. What Secretary Kerry failed to mention is that the United Nations and their U.S. government counterpart climate reports have been excoriated by a large body of opposing scientists. Further, he should have mentioned that the government’s green house gas based climate models are in error in predicting climate by a wide margin (as much as 300%). He also failed to pass on that a large number of the “leading scientists” who wrote the UN climate reports were exposed in the “climategate” email scandal as having falsified the data, hid opposing data, and came to predetermined conclusions to fit a political agenda.

In other words, the reports were unreliable at best, too flawed for policy making in any case, and quite possibly fraudulent.

What Secretary Kerry also did not say at the Atlantic Council this week were the ‘cold’ facts of the Earth’s climate status:

  1. There is no global warming nor has there been for over 18 long years.
  2. The Earth’s major climate parameters indicate a cooling of the planet is underway according to the most reliable climate change theories and climate models.
  3. Winters are getting longer and more brutal with record cold and snowfalls, despite some climate researchers at the UN saying snow would be a thing of the past by 2003!
  4. We now have more total global sea ice on the planet than ever before recorded since the satellite era began in 1979. This is true even though Al Gore and NOAA scientists said Arctic sea ice should have disappeared completely years ago.
  5. According to a growing body of solar-climate researchers, the Sun is the primary cause of climate variation and that mankind plays an almost insignificant role in global warming or any other kind of climate change.

The Republicans, however, with their weak stance, regularly play right into the Obama-Gore-United Nations climate hand. The Republicans have routinely permitted the Democrats to claim the scientific high ground, even as they make preposterous climate claims with impunity. The policy of ignorance, side-stepping, and ineptness by the Republican Party including in the Governor’s office in Florida, deserves the ridicule it receives.

Now that the planet is heading into what may be the most dangerous cold climate in 200 years, a feud over terminology is the last thing we need from our leaders, in either party.

Yes, we have some fearless Republicans like Senator James Inhofe and Senator Ted Cruz who are unafraid of labeling climate change (manmade global warming) the “hoax” that it is. They have no problem calling out the Democrats for what I have long said is, “the greatest international scientific fraud in history.”

It’s time for Governor Scott and all other Republican leaders to join those good Senators and the legions of scientists like me who are out there, and make a firm unmistakable call for an end to this climate charade and the climate deception of Secretary Kerry, President Obama and the United Nations.

RELATED ARTICLE: Kerry speaks out on Florida’s ‘climate change’ ban

Why Socialism Causes Pollution by THOMAS J. DILORENZO

Corporations are often accused of despoiling the environment in their quest for profit. Free enterprise is supposedly incompatible with environmental preservation, so that government regulation is required.

Such thinking is the basis for current proposals to expand environmental regulation greatly. So many new controls have been proposed and enacted that the late economic journalist Warren Brookes once forecast that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could well become “the most powerful government agency on earth, involved in massive levels of economic, social, scientific, and political spending and interference.

But if the profit motive is the primary cause of pollution, one would not expect to find much pollution in socialist countries, such as the former Soviet Union, China, and in the former Communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. That is, in theory. In reality exactly the opposite is true: The socialist world suffers from the worst pollution on earth. Could it be that free enterprise is not so incompatible with environmental protection after all?

I. Socialist Pollution

The Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union there was a vast body of environmental law and regulation that purportedly protected the public interest, but these constraints have had no perceivable benefit. The Soviet Union, like all socialist countries, suffered from a massive “tragedy of the commons,” to borrow the term used by biologist Garrett Hardin in his classic 1968 article. Where property is communally or governmentally owned and treated as a free resource, resources will inevitably be overused with little regard for future consequences.

The Soviet government’s imperatives for economic growth, combined with communal ownership of virtually all property and resources, caused tremendous environmental damage. According to economist Marshall Goldman, who studied and traveled extensively in the Soviet Union, “The attitude that nature is there to be exploited by man is the very essence of the Soviet production ethic.”

A typical example of the environmental damage caused by the Soviet economic system is the exploitation of the Black Sea. To comply with five-year plans for housing and building construction, gravel, sand, and trees around the beaches were used for decades as construction materials. Because there is no private property, “no value is attached to the gravel along the seashore. Since, in effect, it is free, the contractors haul it away. This practice caused massive beach erosion which reduced the Black Sea coast by 50 percent between 1920 and 1960. Eventually, hotels, hospitals, and of all things, a military sanitarium collapsed into the sea as the shoreline gave way. Frequent landslides–as many as 300 per year–have been reported.

Water pollution is catastrophic. Effluent from a chemical plant killed almost all the fish in the Oka River in 1965, and similar fish kills have occurred in the Volga, Ob, Yenesei, Ural, and Northern Dvina rivers. Most Russian factories discharge their waste without cleaning it at all. Mines, oil wells, and ships freely dump waste and ballast into any available body of water, since it is all one big (and tragic) “commons.”

Only six of the 20 main cities in Moldavia had a sewer system by the late 1960s, and only two of those cities made any effort to treat the sewage. Conditions are far more primitive in the countryside.

The Aral and Caspian seas have been gradually disappearing as large quantities of their water have been diverted for irrigation. And since untreated sewage flows into feeder rivers, they are also heavily polluted.

Some Soviet authorities expressed fears that by the turn of the century the Aral Sea will be nothing but a salt marsh. One paper reported that because of the rising salt content of the Aral the remaining fish will rapidly disappear. It was recently revealed that the Aral Sea has shrunk by about a third. Its shore line “is arid desert and the wind blows dry deposits of salt thousands of miles away. The infant mortality rate [in that region] is four to five times the national average.”

The declining water level in the Caspian Sea has been catastrophic for its fish population as spawning areas have turned into dry land. The sturgeon population has been so decimated that the Soviets have experimented with producing artificial caviar. Hundreds of factories and refineries along the Caspian Sea dump untreated waste into the sea, and major cities routinely dump raw sewage. It has been estimated that one-half of all the discharged effluent is carried in the Volga River, which flows into the Caspian Sea. The concentration of oil in the Volga is so great that steamboats are equipped with signs forbidding passengers to toss cigarettes overboard. As might be expected, fish kills along the Volga are a “common calamity.”

Lake Baikal, which is believed to be the oldest freshwater lake in the world, is also one of the largest and deepest. It is five times as deep as Lake Superior and contains twice the volume of water. According to Marshall Goldman, it was also “the best known example of the misuse of water resources in the USSR.”

Factories and pulp mills have been dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of effluent into Lake Baikal each year for decades. As a result, animal life in the lake has been cut by more than 50 percent over the past half century. Untreated sewage is dumped into virtually all tributaries to the lake.

Islands of alkaline sewage have been observed floating on the lake, including one that was 18 miles long and three miles wide. These “islands” have polluted the air around the lake as well as the water in it. Thousands of acres of forest surrounding the lake have been denuded, causing such erosion that dust storms have been reported. So much forest land in the Lake Baikal region has been destroyed that some observers reported shifting sands that link up with the Gobi Desert; there are fears that the desert may sweep into Siberia and destroy the lake.

In other regions the fact that no compensation has to be paid for land that is flooded by water projects has made it easy for government engineers to submerge large areas of land. “As much land has been lost through flooding and salination as has been added through irrigation and drainage in the Soviet Union.”

These examples of environment degradation in the Soviet Union are not meant to be exhaustive but to illustrate the phenomenon of Communist pollution. As Goldman has observed, the great pollution problems in Russia stem from the fact that the government determined that economic growth was to be pursued at any cost. “Government officials in the USSR generally have a greater willingness to sacrifice their environment than government officials in a society with private enterprise where there is a degree of public accountability. There is virtually a political as well as an economic imperative to devour idle resources in the USSR.”

China

In China, as in Russia, putting the government in charge of resource allocation has not had desirable environmental consequences. Information on the state of China’s environment is not encouraging.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, more than 90 percent of the trees in the pine forests in China’s Sichuan province have died because of air pollution. In Chungking, the biggest city in southwest China, a 4, 500-acre forest has been reduced by half. Acid rain has reportedly caused massive crop losses.

There also have been reports of waterworks and landfill projects severely hampering fish migration. Fish breeding was so seriously neglected that fish has largely vanished from the national diet. Depletion of government-owned forests has turned them into deserts, and millions of acres of grazing and farm land in the northern Chinese plains were made alkaline and unproductive during the “Great Leap Forward.”

Central and Eastern Europe

With Communism’s collapse, word has begun to seep out about Eastern Europe’s environmental disasters. According to the United Nations Global Environment Monitoring Program, “pollution in that region is among the worst on the Earth’s surface.” Jeffrey Leonard of the World Wildlife Fund concluded that “pollution was part and parcel of the system that molested the people [of Eastern Europe] in their daily lives.” Evidence is mounting of “an environmental nightmare,” the legacy of “decades of industrial development with little or no environmental control.”

Poland

According to the Polish Academy of Sciences, “a third of the nation’s 38 million people live in areas of ecological disaster.” In the heavily industrialized Katowice region of Poland, the people suffer 15 percent more circulatory disease, 30 percent more tumors, and 47 percent more respiratory disease than other Poles. Physicians and scientists believe pollution is a major contributor to these health problems.

Acid rain has so corroded railroad tracks that trains are not allowed to exceed 24 miles an hour. The air is so polluted in Katowice that there are underground “clinics” in uranium mines where the chronically ill can go to breathe clean air.

Continuous pumping of water from coal mines has caused so much land to subside that over 300,000 apartments were destroyed as buildings collapsed. The mine sludge has been pumped into rivers and streams along with untreated sewage which has made 95 percent of the water unfit for human consumption. More than 65 percent of the nation’s water is even unfit for industrial use because it is so toxic that it would destroy heavy metals used by industry. In Cracow, Poland’s ancient capital, acid rain “dissolved so much of the gold roof of the 16th century Sigismund Chapel that it recently hd to be replaced.”

Industrial dust rains down on towns, depositing cadmium, lead, zinc, and iron. The dust is so heavy that huge trucks drive through city streets daily spraying water to reduce it. By some accounts eight tons of dust fall on each square mile in and around Cracow each year. The mayor of Cracow recently stated that the Vistula River — the largest river in Poland — is “nothing but a sewage canal.” The river has mercury levels that are three times what researchers say is safe, while lead levels are 25 times higher than deemed safe.

Half of Poland’s cities, including Warsaw, don’t even treat their wastes, and 41 animal species have reportedly become extinct in Poland in recent years. While health statistics are spotty — they were not a priority of the Communist government–available data are alarming. A recent study of the Katowice region found that 21 percent of the children up to 4 years old are sick almost constantly, while 41 percent of the children under 6 have serious health problems.

Life expectancy for men is lower than it was 20 years ago. In Upper Silesia, which is considered one of the most heavily industrialized regions in the world, circulatory disease levels are 15 percent higher, respiratory disease is 47 percent higher, and there has been “an appalling increase in the number of retarded children,” according to the Polish Academy of Sciences. Although pollution cannot be blamed for all these health problems, physicians and scientists attach much of the blame to this source.

Czechoslovakia

In a speech given on New Year’s Day of 1990, Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel said, “We have laid waste to our soil and the rivers and the forests…and we have the worst environment in the whole of Europe today.” He was not exaggerating, although the competition for the title of “worst environment” is clearly fierce. Sulfur dioxide concentrations in Czechoslovakia are eight times higher than in the United Sates, and “half the forests are dead or dying.”

Because of the overuse of fertilizers, farmland in some areas of Czechoslovakia is toxic to more than one foot in depth. In Bohemia, in northwestern Czechoslovakia, hills stand bare because their vegetation has died in air so foul it can be tasted. One report describes the Czech countryside as a place where “barren plateaus stretch for miles, studded with the stumps and skeletons of pine trees. Under the snow lie thousands of acres of poisoned ground, where for centuries thick forests had grown.” There is a stretch of over 350 miles where more than 300,000 acres of forest have disappeared and the remaining trees are dying. A thick, brown haze hangs over much of northern Czechoslovakia for about eight months of the year. Sometimes it takes on the sting of tear gas, according to local officials. There are environmental laws, but they aren’t enforced. Sulfur in the air has been reported at 20 times the permissible level. Soil in some regions is so acidic that aluminum trapped in the clay is released. Scientists discovered that the aluminum has poisoned groundwater, killing tree and plant roots and filtering into the drinking water.

Severe erosion in the decimated forests has caused spring floods in which all the melted snow cascades down mountainsides in a few weeks, causing further erosion and leading to water shortages in the summer.

In its search for coal, the Communist government has used bulldozers on such a massive scale that they have “turned towns, farms and woodlands into coarse brown deserts and gaping hollows. Because open-pit mining is cheaper than underground mining, and has been practiced extensively, in some areas of Czechoslovakia “you have total devastation of the land.”

East Germany

The new German government has claimed that nearly 40 percent of the East German populace suffers ill effects from pollutants in the air. In Leipzig, half the children are treated each year for illnesses believed to be associated with air pollution. Eighty percent of eastern Germany’s surface waters are classified as unsuitable for fishing, sports, or drinking, and one out of three lakes has been declared biologically dead because of decades of untreated dumping of chemical waste.

Much of the East German landscape has been devastated. Fifteen to 20 percent of its forests are dead, and another 40 percent are said to be dying. Between 1960 and 1980 at least 70 villages were destroyed and their inhabitants uprooted by the government, which wanted to mine high-sulfur brown coal. The countryside is now “pitted with moon-like craters” and “laced with the remains of what were once spruce and pine trees, nestled amid clouds of rancid smog.” The air in some cities is so polluted that residents use their car headlights during the day, and visitors have been known to vomit from breathing the air.

Nearly identical problems exist in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

Visiting scientists have concluded that pollution in Central and Eastern Europe “is more dangerous and widespread than anything they have seen in the Western industrial nations.”

II. United States: Public Sector Pollution

The last refuge of those who advocate socialistic solutions to environmental pollution is the claim that it is the lack of democratic processes that prevents the Communist nations from truly serving the public interest. If this theory is correct, then the public sector of an established democracy such as the United States should be one of the best examples of environmental responsibility. But U.S. government agencies are among the most cavalier when it comes to environmental stewardship.

There is much evidence to dispute the theory that only private businesses pollute. In the United States, we need look no further than our own government agencies. These public sector institutions, such as the Department of Defense (DOD), are among the worst offenders. DOD now generates more than 400,000 tons of hazardous waste a year — more than is produced by the five largest chemical companies combined. To make matters worse, the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the enforcement power over the public sector that it possesses over the private sector.

The lax situation uncovered by the General Accounting Office (GAO) at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma is typical of the way in which many Federal agencies respond to the EPA’s directives. “Although DOD policy calls for the military services to … implement EPA’s hazardous waste management regulations, we found that Tinker has been selling…waste oil, fuels, and solvents rather than recycling,” reported the GAO.

One of the world’s most poisonous spots lies about 10 miles northeast of Denver in the Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Nerve gas, mustard shells, the anti-crop spray TX, and incendiary devices have been dumped into pits there over the past 40 years. Dealing with only one “basin” of this dump cost $40 million. Six hundred thousand cubic yards of contaminated soil and sludge had to be scraped and entombed in a 16-acre, double-lined waste pile.

There are plenty of other examples of Defense Department facilities that need major cleanup. In fact, total costs of along-term Pentagon cleanup are hard to get a handle on. Some officials have conceded that the price tag could eventually exceed $20 billion.

Government-owned power plants are another example of public-sector pollution. These plants are a large source of sulfur dioxide emissions. The federal government’s Tennessee Valley Authority operates 59 coal-fired power plants in the Southeast, where it has had major legal confrontations with state governments who want the Federal agency to comply with state governments who want the Federal agency to comply with state environmental regulations. The TVA has fought the state governments for years over compliance with their clean air standards. It won a major Supreme Court victory when the Court ruled that, as a federal government enterprise, it could be exempt from environmental regulations with which private sector and local government power plants must comply.

Federal agricultural policy also has been a large source of pollution, in the past encouraging over utilization of land subject to erosion. Powerful farm lobbies have protected “non-point” sources of pollution from the heavy hand of regulation places on other private industries.

III. Policy Implications

These examples of environmental degradation throughout the world suggest some valuable lessons. First, it is not free enterprise per se that causes environmental harm; if so, the socialist world would be environmentally pristine.

The heart of the problem lies with the failure of our legal institutions, not the free enterprise system. Specifically, American laws were weakened more than a century ago by Progressive Era courts that believed economic progress was in the public interest and should therefore supersede individual rights.

The English common law tradition of the protection of private property rights — including the right to be free from pollution — was slowly overturned. In other words, many environmental problems are not caused by “market failure” but by government’s failure to enforce property rights. It is a travesty of justice when downstream residents, for example, cannot hold an upstream polluter responsible for damaging their properties. The common law tradition must be revived if we are to enjoy a healthy market economy and a cleaner environment. Potential polluters must know in advance that they will be held responsible for their actions.

The second lesson is that the plundering of the environment in the socialist world is a grand example of the tragedy of the commons. Under communal property ownership, where no one owns or is responsible for a natural resource, the inclination is for each individual to abuse or deplete the resource before someone else does. Common examples of this “tragedy” are how people litter public streets and parks much more than their own yards; private housing is much better maintained than public lands but maintain lush pastures on their own property; the national forests are carelessly over-logged, but private forests are carefully managed and reforested by lumber companies with “super trees”; and game fish are habitually overfished in public waterways but thrive in private lakes and streams. The tragedy of the commons is a lesson for those who believe that further nationalization and governmental control of natural resources is a solution to our environmental problems.

These two pillars of free enterprise — sound liability laws that hold people responsible for actions and the enforcement of private property rights — are important stepping stones to environmental protection.

ABOUT THOMAS J. DILORENZO

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

Decentralization: Why Dumb Networks Are Better

The smart choice is innovation at the edge by ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS…

“Every device employed to bolster individual freedom must have as its chief purpose the impairment of the absoluteness of power.” — Eric Hoffer

In computer and communications networks, decentralization leads to faster innovation, greater openness, and lower cost. Decentralization creates the conditions for competition and diversity in the services the network provides.

But how can you tell if a network is decentralized, and what makes it more likely to be decentralized? Network “intelligence” is the characteristic that differentiates centralized from decentralized networks — but in a way that is surprising and counterintuitive.

Some networks are “smart.” They offer sophisticated services that can be delivered to very simple end-user devices on the “edge” of the network. Other networks are “dumb” — they offer only a very basic service and require that the end-user devices are intelligent. What’s smart about dumb networks is that they push innovation to the edge, giving end-users control over the pace and direction of innovation. Simplicity at the center allows for complexity at the edge, which fosters the vast decentralization of services.

Surprisingly, then, “dumb” networks are the smart choice for innovation and freedom.

The telephone network used to be a smart network supporting dumb devices (telephones). All the intelligence in the telephone network and all the services were contained in the phone company’s switching buildings. The telephone on the consumer’s kitchen table was little more than a speaker and a microphone. Even the most advanced touch-tone telephones were still pretty simple devices, depending entirely on the network services they could “request” through beeping the right tones.

In a smart network like that, there is no room for innovation at the edge. Sure, you can make a phone look like a cheeseburger or a banana, but you can’t change the services it offers. The services depend entirely on the central switches owned by the phone company. Centralized innovation means slow innovation. It also means innovation directed by the goals of a single company. As a result, anything that doesn’t seem to fit the vision of the company that owns the network is rejected or even actively fought.

In fact, until 1968, AT&T restricted the devices allowed on the network to a handful of approved devices. In 1968, in a landmark decision, the FCC ruled in favor of the Carterfone, an acoustic coupler device for connecting two-way radios to telephones, opening the door for any consumer device that didn’t “cause harm to the system.”

That ruling paved the way for the answering machine, the fax machine, and the modem. But even with the ability to connect smarter devices to the edge, it wasn’t until the modem that innovation really accelerated. The modem represented a complete inversion of the architecture: all the intelligence was moved to the edge, and the phone network was used only as an underlying “dumb” network to carry the data.

Did the telecommunications companies welcome this development? Of course not! They fought it for nearly a decade, using regulation, lobbying, and legal threats against the new competition. In some countries, modem calls across international lines were automatically disconnected to prevent competition in the lucrative long-distance market. In the end, the Internet won. Now, almost the entire phone network runs as an app on top of the Internet.

The Internet is a dumb network, which is its defining and most valuable feature. The Internet’s protocol (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol, or TCP/IP) doesn’t offer “services.” It doesn’t make decisions about content. It doesn’t distinguish between photos and text, video and audio. It doesn’t have a list of approved applications. It doesn’t even distinguish between client and server, user and host, or individual versus corporation. Every IP address is an equal peer.

TCP/IP acts as an efficient pipeline, moving data from one point to another. Over time, it has had some minor adjustments to offer some differentiated “quality of service” capabilities, but other than that, it remains, for the most part, a dumb data pipeline. Almost all the intelligence is on the edge — all the services, all the applications are created on the edge-devices. Creating a new application does not involve changing the network. The Web, voice, video, and social media were all created as applications on the edge without any need to modify the Internet protocol.

So the dumb network becomes a platform for independent innovation, without permission, at the edge. The result is an incredible range of innovations, carried out at an even more incredible pace. People interested in even the tiniest of niche applications can create them on the edge. Applications that only have two participants only need two devices to support them, and they can run on the Internet. Contrast that to the telephone network where a new “service,” like caller ID, had to be built and deployed on every company switch, incurring maintenance cost for every subscriber. So only the most popular, profitable, and widely used services got deployed.

The financial services industry is built on top of many highly specialized and service-specific networks. Most of these are layered atop the Internet, but they are architected as closed, centralized, and “smart” networks with limited intelligence on the edge.

Take, for example, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the international wire transfer network. The consortium behind SWIFT has built a closed network of member banks that offers specific services: secure messages, mostly payment orders. Only banks can be members, and the network services are highly centralized.

The SWIFT network is just one of dozens of single-purpose, tightly controlled, and closed networks offered to financial services companies such as banks, brokerage firms, and exchanges. All these networks mediate the services by interposing the service provider between the “users,” and they allow minimal innovation or differentiation at the edge — that is, they are smart networks serving mostly dumb devices.

Bitcoin is the Internet of money. It offers a basic dumb network that connects peers from anywhere in the world. The bitcoin network itself does not define any financial services or applications. It doesn’t require membership registration or identification. It doesn’t control the types of devices or applications that can live on its edge. Bitcoin offers one service: securely time-stamped scripted transactions. Everything else is built on the edge-devices as an application. Bitcoin allows any application to be developed independently, without permission, on the edge of the network. A developer can create a new application using the transactional service as a platform and deploy it on any device. Even niche applications with few users — applications never envisioned by the bitcoin protocol creator — can be built and deployed.

Almost any network architecture can be inverted. You can build a closed network on top of an open network or vice versa, although it is easier to centralize than to decentralize. The modem inverted the phone network, giving us the Internet. The banks have built closed network systems on top of the decentralized Internet. Now bitcoin provides an open network platform for financial services on top of the open and decentralized Internet. The financial services built on top of bitcoin are themselves open because they are not “services” delivered by the network; they are “apps” running on top of the network. This arrangement opens a market for applications, putting the end user in a position of power to choose the right application without restrictions.

What happens when an industry transitions from using one or more “smart” and centralized networks to using a common, decentralized, open, and dumb network? A tsunami of innovation that was pent up for decades is suddenly released. All the applications that could never get permission in the closed network can now be developed and deployed without permission. At first, this change involves reinventing the previously centralized services with new and open decentralized alternatives. We saw that with the Internet, as traditional telecommunications services were reinvented with email, instant messaging, and video calls.

This first wave is also characterized by disintermediation — the removal of entire layers of intermediaries who are no longer necessary. With the Internet, this meant replacing brokers, classified ads publishers, real estate agents, car salespeople, and many others with search engines and online direct markets. In the financial industry, bitcoin will create a similar wave of disintermediation by making clearinghouses, exchanges, and wire transfer services obsolete. The big difference is that some of these disintermediated layers are multibillion dollar industries that are no longer needed.

Beyond the first wave of innovation, which simply replaces existing services, is another wave that begins to build the applications that were impossible with the previous centralized network. The second wave doesn’t just create applications that compare to existing services; it spawns new industries on the basis of applications that were previously too expensive or too difficult to scale. By eliminating friction in payments, bitcoin doesn’t just make better payments; it introduces market mechanisms and price discovery to economic activities that were too small or inefficient under the previous cost structure.

We used to think “smart” networks would deliver the most value, but making the network “dumb” enabled a massive wave of innovation. Intelligence at the edge brings choice, freedom, and experimentation without permission. In networks, “dumb” is better.

ABOUT ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who advises companies on the use of technology and decentralized digital currencies such as bitcoin.

Obama Administration Once Approved a Pipeline Just Like Keystone XL

Something to think about after the Senate failed to override President Obama’s Keystone XL veto is that not long ago, pipelines weren’t tied up in regulatory limbo and the focus of anti-energy advocates.

Ken Cohen, Exxon Mobile’s vice president of public and government affairs, looks at a pipeline approved by the Obama administration that does the same thing Keystone XL will do–move Canadian oil sands crude [emphasis mine]:

Consider that the original Keystone pipeline took 693 days to approve. The current Keystone XL application has languished for 2,356 days and counting.

Then there’s the Alberta Clipper pipeline, another cross-border pipeline whose comparison to Keystone XL should leave many people scratching their heads.

That pipeline took 829 days to approve.  That’s about one-third as long as the Keystone XL review.

The Alberta Clipper pipeline moves oil from Alberta to Wisconsin.

Alberta Clipper pipeline map.

Alberta Clipper pipeline map. Image credit: Enbridge.

Cohen quotes the State Department’s 2009 announcement of the Alberta Clipper’s approval [emphasis his]:

The addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States. .… Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements which augment the security of this energy supply.

Approval of the permit sends a positive economic signal, in a difficult economic period, about the future reliability and availability of a portion of United States’ energy imports, and in the immediate term, this shovel-ready project will provide construction jobs for workers in the United States.

“The same arguments that prevailed for Alberta Clipper in 2009 apply even more to Keystone XL today,” Cohen writes.

[In 2013, I broke down in more detail how the State Department’s rationale squared with arguments for the Keystone XL pipeline.]

Remember, this is President Obama’s State Department.

Its attitude toward Keystone XL is a mirror image of what it was toward the Alberta Clipper even though they have similar benefits.

Instead of appreciating how Canadian oil sands crude improves U.S. energy security, the president gets called out for misleading the public that oil through the Keystone XL pipeline will be exported from the U.S.

And instead of applauding the jobs what will be created by the pipeline, the president considers some construction jobs better than others.

What’s the difference between then and now? Politics.

Organizations are cynically using the Keystone XL pipeline as a symbol to gin up anger, expand membership rolls, and raise money to push a “not here or anywhere” anti-energy agenda.

Not that this opposition is stopping oil sands productionRecord volumes of oil sands crude are being refined in the U.S. while President Obama feeds the hopes of activists that he’ll reject a project that his State Department says will have few negative effects on the environment.

Going back to the Senate’s veto override attempt, Karen Harbert, President and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, released a statement:

In an era when Congress can’t agree on much, the Keystone XL pipeline has stood out because it has such strong, bipartisan support.  Unfortunately, pipeline supporters were a few votes short of the super-majority needed to overturn President Obama’s veto, but the President should not ignore this strong level of support when he makes his final decision on the pipeline.

Meet Sean Hackbarth @seanhackbarth Follow@uschamber

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of an oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta. Photo credit: Brett Gundlock/Bloomberg.

Outgoing UN IPCC Chief reveals global warming ‘is my religion and my dharma’

Pachauri’s full resignation letter here.

Climate Depot’s Morano statement on Pachauri’s resignation: ‘The IPCC is quietly popping champagne corks today. Pachauri gone can only be good news for the UN IPCC’ – Marc Morano: ‘If Pachauri had any decency, he would have resigned in the wake of the Climategate scandal which broke in 2009. Climategate implicated the upper echelon of UN IPCC scientists in attempting to collude and craft a narrative on global warming while allowing no dissent. Or Pachauri could have resigned when he wished skeptics would rub asbestos on their faces or conceded that the IPCC was at the ‘beck and call’ of governments. There were so many opportunities to to the right thing and fade away. But it took the proceedings of the Indian court system over the allegations of sexual harassment to finally bring Pachauri down. Things can only be looking up for the UN IPCC now that it has ridded itself of this political and ethical cancer.’

Many climate change activists are motivated by religious conviction. See: Climate Depot round up of climate religion. Actor Harrison Ford’s Green Religion: ‘I needed something outside of myself to believe in and I found in nature a kind of God’

Wave Bye-Bye: IPCC Chair Pachauri forced out at UN climate panel after sexual harassment complaint

IPCC Chair Pachauri

Related Links:

UN Scientists Who Have Turned on the UN IPCC & Man-Made Climate Fears — A Climate Depot Flashback Report

Pachauri critic: Evidence ‘suggest strongly that Pachauri is a longtime sexual predator’ – Donna Laframboise: ‘What’s missing from this (Pachauri’s resignation) letter is any suggestion of remorse. When a scandal-plagued leader resigns because his alleged misdeeds are nuking his organization’s reputation, that is a mark of failure. He has let everyone down. Where are his words of apology to the thousands of IPCC-linked scientists whose honour is now eternally tarnished by their association with him?’ Pachauri’s letter talks about his “greatest joy,” and his “sublime satisfaction.”

Rajendra Pachauri’s Resignation Letter: ‘A two-page love letter to himself’

Flashback 2010: Greenpeace calls for UN climate chief Pachauri to step down in wake of Climategate

Star Trek’s “Infinite Diversity” and the Endless Frontier

Spock understood the importance of innovation for life and prosperity by RICHARD LORENC …

Last Friday, millions of Star Trek fans were saddened by the news that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character Spock on the series, had died at the age of 83 after a brief hospitalization.

I was among the multitude on social media who paid tribute to Nimoy by posting pictures, sayings, videos, and eulogies in remembrance of the man who brought “Live long and prosper” to the world.

The classic Vulcan farewell is not the only thoughtful gift from Nimoy and Spock. Another idea shared by the quintessential Vulcan was his people’s concept of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” or IDIC.

IDIC was the Vulcans’ subdued, yet profound, appreciation for diversity. They wore pendants representing IDIC and posted it like a religious icon in their homes, temples, and starships. It became the de facto symbol of the Vulcans and their intensely logical ways. It was as if they were saying, “Difference is essential to the universe, and we’ve seen far less than actually exists. We’ll never see the end of it – and that’s a good thing.”

That idea didn’t always sit well with space cowboys Kirk and McCoy, who wanted more concrete answers. But then humans are illogical. What else could Spock expect?

Like Star Trek generally, IDIC had a big impact on me. It’s an idea that still motivates and delights me when I think of the possibilities for humanity today, and particularly the opportunities for difference and diversity offered by markets.

If you view the market process as one of discovery – discovering new ways to combine old ideas, and imagining how to apply those ideas in service to others – you can see how it begins to reveal IDIC. With nothing holding back individuals’ creative energies, there’s no telling what orders and ideas might emerge, and there’s no end in sight to the frontiers of social and economic innovation.

The next time you walk a city street and gawk at the skyscrapers, or wander a supermarket and marvel at fresh strawberries in the winter, or gaze through a glowing box to see friends across the planet, take a moment to remember IDIC. Because of it, for the first time in history, our species truly can “live long and prosper.”

It’s fascinating – but it’s only logical.

ABOUT RICHARD LORENC

Richard N. Lorenc is the Chief Operating Officer of FEE.

The Climate Complex Strikes Back

Was the New York Times piece against Willie Soon a hit job? by MAX BORDERS…

Climate-change skeptic Willie Soon may be an unethical, corporate-bought climate-change denier or the latest casualty of the Climate-Industrial Complex’s immune response.

The New York Times’s Justin Gillis and John Schwartz write:

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

Something’s fishy here. Because all researchers get money from somewhere, it’s strange that none of the “eight” journals required Soon to disclose as a condition of publication. Given his reputation as a skeptic, didn’t they even think to ask? And, indeed, if there really is a universal ethical standard, aren’t the journals that published Soon also in violation of the ethics?

To find out whether Soon acted inappropriately and outside of research ethics, we really have to know whether that disclosure standard applies across the board. In other words, of the hundreds of journal articles published over the last few years, how many authors disclosed their funding sources — public, private, corporate, or nonprofit?

If there is indeed a known ethical standard of disclosure to which the vast majority of researchers adhere, then it might be appropriate for the Times to single out Soon for a failure to disclose. (The Times offers no such context, no such data.) However, if a majority does not disclose its funding sources, then there is clearly no well-defined ethic of disclosure and the Times is simply inventing an impropriety to ruin a man’s career as a scientist.

Now, some might argue that people should only be required to publish their funding sources if those sources are private or corporate. After all, they’ll argue, government money is used because government grantors only want to find the truth, whereas private grantors only want to bias the process and to obfuscate the truth.

The idea that a government grant comes with no agenda should be preposterous on its face. After all, who has more to gain from “action on climate change” than the very people providing the research dollars and their solar-powered cronies? The members of the Climate-Industrial Complex have enormous incentives to hide the decline, cook the books, and keep the funds flowing into their department coffers and crony projects. And those with taxing authority — that is, those who hold the government purse strings — have an even bigger incentive.

To put this into perspective, consider the following, reported by Climate of Corruption author Larry Bell in Forbes:

According to the GAO, annual federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010, amounting to $106.7 billion over that period. The money was spent in four general categories: technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, science to understand climate changes, international assistance for developing countries, and wildlife adaptation to respond to actual or expected changes. Technology spending, the largest category, grew from $2.56 billion to $5.5 billion over this period, increasingly advancing over others in total share. Data compiled by Joanne Nova at the Science and Policy Institute indicates that the U.S. Government spent more than $32.5 billion on climate studies between 1989 and 2009. This doesn’t count about $79 billion more spent for climate change technology research, foreign aid and tax breaks for “green energy.”

These sums are only what the US government is spending. Global spending is simply staggering.

More generally, anyone who funds anything is almost always looking for a certain kind of result. Therefore, any standard of disclosure must apply to any and all scholars equally, no matter the funding source.

That government money shouldn’t corrupt is just another application of the Unicorn Fallacy so common among well-meaning greens. Unfortunately, because so many people are under the illusion that “public” money is not a corruptive influence in science, it may be that those who receive it are far more willing to disclose a government grant than a private one — whatever the quality of the research. Or, it might be that journal committees simply don’t require researchers on the government dole to disclose. (The Times offers us no such context in the case of the journals Soon contributed to.)

Here is some more eel-like journalism from the Times:

Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Dr. Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

“I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

Notice the weasel phrase “disclosure standards of some journals.” Some? Isn’t this supposed to be a standard that applies to all? And how should Alcock handle the purported violations of some of the journals? We don’t know because we are only seeing the part of the conversation the Times wants us to see, to infer something, ur, uh, “inappropriate.”

Still, what if it is both true that Soon violated accepted norms of disclosure relative to peers, and that he did so because he was afraid that to disclose his sources would lead to accusations of bias? Then we have to separate questions about Soon’s integrity from questions about his research.

In the former case, there is an army of fanatical climate-change activists ready to pounce on anyone who presents any evidence that runs counter to their apocalyptic narrative. (Remember, professional climate-change activists have a huge stake in the outcome of this debate, too. Climate-change donations are quite the gravy train, and that Prius isn’t going to pay for itself.) Indeed, if climate-change heretics like Soon can only get research funding outside the Climate-Industrial Complex, should we expect researchers with unpopular findings to erect billboards advertising their sources?

For us to ask such questions is not meant to absolve Soon or anyone else of abandoning generally accepted disclosure standards; it is merely to say that the very climate-change activists who wrote the Times piece know full well that this is the sort of incentive they create when they go on witch hunts for “deniers.” Climate-change science has become a hostile environment for skeptics. Science itself becomes the casualty of such hostility, which brings me to the latter point — that is, the quality of Soon’s research.

Even if we found evidence that Soon was the most avaricious villain and corporate toadie the world had ever seen, would any purported wrongdoing invalidate his actual scholarship?

Anyone who has ever had a course in logic knows the unequivocal answer is no. Research is either accurate or inaccurate, whatever the source.

Notice that at no point in the Times article did the authors — or anyone quoted by the authors — actually attack Soon’s specific scholarship. Sure, the Times makes vague innuendo, as with this quote:

Many experts in the field say that Dr. Soon uses out-of-date data, publishes spurious correlations between solar output and climate indicators, and does not take account of the evidence implicating emissions from human behavior in climate change.

Many experts like whom? The only quote they provide is from Gavin Schmidt of the activist website RealClimate.org, who says, “The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” In other words, this Gavin Schmidt:

We don’t want, like the Times, to import an ad hominem fallacy. But of all the innuendo, why are we being asked to believe only that of the world’s foremost climate activists? Innuendo is convenient, but it is not conclusive.

Maybe Soon’s research is bad or misleading or somehow just wrong. But in science, this is where the rubber hits the road. And the Times fails to deliver in demonstrating that Soon’s scientific work is incorrect, wherever he got his research money. And that makes this Times piece just the sort of agitprop we have come to expect from the Grey Lady.

Now, what if Soon is right, for example, about the relative effects of the sun (versus humans) on the climate system? There are thousands of jobs, thousands of reputations, billions in funding, and trillions of future carbon tax revenues at stake. You think they’re going to let this flea continue to irritate the hide of Leviathan?

But let us be clear: the point of the Times article was never to find out whether Soon’s research was correct. The point is to use innuendo to push a heretical researcher to the margins of science — or perhaps out altogether — so that the powers behind the Climate-Industrial Complex can get to that multitrillion-dollar pot at the end of the rainbow.

The Times goes on to say: “The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as ‘deliverables’ that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.”

The most apparently damning evidence that Soon acted inappropriately and was prepared to bias his research for his corporate masters comes in the accusation that he referred to his research as a “deliverable,” and that on another occasion, he referred to his congressional testimony as a “deliverable”?

As everyone knows, deliverables are work products. Sometimes deliverables are paid for by companies, sometimes by governments, sometimes by NGOs. But as someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector for a long time, I can tell you that any time someone gives you a grant, they are expecting you to do some work. And, indeed, they may specify just what sorts of work products you are responsible for producing as a condition of receiving the grant. In other words, they will want deliverables.

Now, does that mean that the “deliverable” in question was research that had packaged into it a specific, predetermined result? Of course not. We should be under no illusions, however: if Soon’s deliverables suddenly started containing messages that did not comport with what the grantors want to hear, the grants might very well dry up. But this is no less true for scientists who fail to produce results that jibe with the “consensus” message that government grantors and climate NGOs are fond of. So why should questions about financial influence only be applied to skeptics?

We should very well expect that the Climate-Industrial Complex and its handmaiden, the Grey Lady, will be looking for blood wherever they can find it. And if we want to talk about bias being bought and paid for by corporate masters, one need look no further than the authors of the Times article — whose omissions and double standards are so bald that Balance, that fair goddess of journalism, weeps.

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.

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

It’s an Ice Age for Sure

Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire.
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate.
To say that for destruction ice Is also great.
And would suffice.

— Robert Frost, American poet.

Cover - Not by FireRobert W. Felix borrowed from the poet Robert Frost for the title of his book, “Not by Fire, But by Ice”, first published in 1997 and devoted to the science of magnetic reversals and the Earth’s ice ages. I read it first in 2010 and was absolutely floored because Felix makes a very strong case for a reversal that would lead to a widespread extinction of life at some point in the future. In the near, more predictable future, he said the Earth was heading into a new ice age.

“What would happen if a magnetic reversal occurred right here?” asked Felix. “The same things that happened in the past. Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, giant snowstorms, rising land, plummeting sea levels—you name it—tectonic activity would go bonkers.” Don’t believe him? Think about the disappearance of the dinosaurs some 65.5 million years ago.

The Earth had been in a cooling cycle that began in 1996 when the sun entered a cycle of reduced radiation. Such cycles were well known and most dramatically tied to the mini-ice age that occurred between 1300 and 1850. Solar observers had noticed many centuries ago that when there were few sunspots—magnetic storms—on the surface of the Sun, the Earth got colder.

This has become especially dramatic because, on February 17 a post on http://thesiweather.com/category/climate-info/ called for a discussion of the fact that “The Sun has gone quiet again during the weakest solar cycle in more than a century.” The post says, “If history is a guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a negative impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom-most layer of Earth’s atmosphere—and where we all live.”

“There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first is known as the ‘Maunder Minimum’, named after solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the ‘Dalton Minimum’, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton and it lasted from 1780 to 1830.” Together they are referred to as the “Little Ice Age.”

There are quite a few scientists forecasting a new ice age. The last ice age began approximately 1.6 million years ago in the Pleistocene epoch. We are currently in the Holocene epoch that began about 11,000 years ago and is regarded as an interglacial period of general warmth.

Cover - Dark WinterIn his book, “Dark Winter: How the Sun is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell”, John L. Casey, a former White House national space policy advisor, says that whatever warming has occurred has ended as the result of “solar hibernation”, a term he applies to the reduction of energy output of the Sun. The “climate change” that is occurring is a long-term reduction in the Earth’s temperatures with, says Casey, “a high probability of increased earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”

In “Cold Sun”, another book by Casey, his says that “The most likely outcome from this ‘solar hibernation’ will be widespread global loss of life and social, economic, and political disruption. You must prepare for this life-altering event now!”

In January 2012, Matt Ridley, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, noted that “The entire 10,000-year history of civilization has happened in an unusually warm interlude in the Earth’s recent history. Over the past million years, it has been as warm as this or warmer for less than 10% of the time, during 11 brief episodes known as interglacial periods.”

Those who kept warning of a “global warming” with dire results misinterpreted the climate. Ridley noted that “It’s striking that most inter-glacials begin with an abrupt warming, peak sharply, (and) then begin a gradual descent into cooler conditions.” That is what is occurring now.

None of this has anything to do with carbon dioxide, ozone, or any other element of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is entirely the result of the lower solar radiation of heat.

The United States should be taking steps to ensure a sufficient supply of electricity to cope with the lower temperatures, but has been wasting billions to support “renewable” energy, wind and solar, that is costly and ineffective. The U.S. Energy Department projects that solar power will make up 0.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015. Wind power which is funded in part by taxpayer subsidies to stay in business has received $7.3 billion over the past seven years, but produces a minimal amount of electricity to justify its cost.

At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on coal” has forced many plants providing electricity to close. A significant disruption of electricity over an extended period of time will cause many deaths due to the cold weather. It is inevitable.

At the same time, instead of providing a source of food, tons of corn are being turned into ethanol in the name of reducing carbon dioxide even though CO2 plays no role whatever in a “global warming” that is not happening.

It’s not just another typical winter. The U.S. and much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing increased cooling that is seen in record-breaking and record-setting new amounts of snow and ice. This is a trend tied to the Sun’s and the Earth’s cooling cycle.

That is of no concern to those who are using “global warming” and “climate change” in order to bring about a transformation in the global economic system from capitalism, the most effective creator of growth and wealth, to socialism, a pathetic, failed system of income redistribution controlled by a central government. Directed out of the United Nations, their absurd claims are supported by the media and many deluded politicians.

Is the U.S. government responding in a sensible way? No. When President Obama speaks of “climate change” he means “global warming.” The result over the past three decades has been the waste of billions for “research” and other schemes tied to this huge hoax.

Real climatologists, meteorologists, and scientists paying attention to both the past and to present events are forecasting more intense and longer winters—for now a Little Ice Age.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The Reluctant Visionary

Nanotechnology – driven manufacturing will change our world in fundamental ways—but we shouldn’t get too worked up about it by PHIL BOWERMASTER:

In 1959, Richard Feynman delivered a lecture with the provocative title “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” Speaking at a meeting of the American Physical Society at Caltech, the Nobel-laureate-to-be speculated about the possibility of manipulating matter at the atomic level via exquisitely small machines. Would it be possible, Feynman asked, for such machinery to configure atoms themselves, producing atomically precise outputs? Might we one day have billions of submicroscopic factories working in parallel to produce anything and everything we need?

It was a profound and exciting idea, and yet one that received very little serious attention in the years that followed, until an MIT student named K. Eric Drexler took up the cause in the 1980s. Working within Marvin Minsky’s MIT Media Lab, Drexler earned a Ph.D. in molecular nanotechnology—the first such degree ever awarded anywhere. Along the way he wrote the bestselling Engines of Creation (1986), which outlined his vision of nanotechnology for non-technical audiences, and the technical treatise Nanosystems (1991), which got into the nuts and bolts of nanotech.

Engines of Creation kicked off a worldwide nanotechnology craze. Corporations and universities began sponsoring research. Governments formed committees to develop technology roadmaps. Speculation in the media and popular culture grew ever wilder and more colorful, promoting images of tiny robots that could keep our clothes stain-free and our arteries unclogged, provided they didn’t go into an unstoppable feeding frenzy and reduce the entire world to a quivering mass of goo. Along with this buzz grew skepticism as to when and if we would ever see such technology, and whether molecular nanotechnology as described by Drexler was even possible.

Atomically Precise Manufacturing

Now, more than 25 years after the publication of Engines, Drexler returns to the subject of nanotechnology with Radical Abundance. Eschewing as tainted both by hype and bureaucratic mismanagement the word he introduced to the world, Drexler refers in his new work to “atomically precise manufacturing” (APM), which he says reflects the concepts he originally introduced.

Drexler devotes an early chapter to the functioning of a typical APM environment, a small factory roughly the size of a garage that produces, appropriately enough, automobiles. At the top or front of this fully automated factory, full-size automobile parts are assembled to produce a finished product. One step below or behind this level, smaller components that make up the auto parts are assembled from still smaller components. And so the system regresses all the way to the molecular scale. Each preceding level produces components of roughly half the size of the next and, because of the tremendous advantages of scale, operates at about twice the speed.

This small factory can produce a car in a matter of minutes, which doesn’t sound all that extraordinary when compared to today’s fully automated assembly lines. But there is really no comparison. Today’s assembly lines can produce a finished car from premanufactured parts in a relatively compact space and in an impressively short period of time, but where did those parts come from? How long did it take to make them, and the materials they were made from? And what is the origin of those materials?

In his classic essay “I, Pencil,” economist Leonard E. Read outlines the unexpectedly widespread origins of a humble wooden pencil. Trees from Oregon, graphite from Sri Lanka, clay from Mississippi, factice (the eraser) from Indonesia, and many other components come together to provide this simple everyday object. Imagine conducting such an analysis for something as complex as a modern automobile. A car that takes a few minutes to assemble actually takes years to build if we add together all the effort required to produce the (finally) ready-to-assemble parts from earlier components traced all the way back to raw materials.

But Drexler’s APM factory produces a finished car directly from raw materials, cutting years down to minutes and shrinking a globe-spanning supply chain to the size of the (remarkably small) factory. In his essay, Read notes that the knowledge required to make a pencil is distributed as widely as its constituent parts. In a strangely prophetic passage, he writes (speaking as the pencil):

Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

In Drexler’s vision of atomically precise manufacturing, the production of material goods becomes an instance of information technology: The finished car is a digital product comparable to a movie burned onto a DVD. All of the know-how required to turn a few basic materials into a working automobile is written into the software that governs the operation of the APM factory, which begins its assembly process by quite literally putting molecules together.

It’s Different Down There

It is that first step of the APM process, molecular assembly, that is by far the hardest to pull off. The question of whether and how molecular assembly could be accomplished is at the crux of the ongoing controversy concerning nanotechnology. There is little dispute that a very small factory can be built that operates in essentially the same way as a full-sized factory, or even that a microscopic factory can be built to operate essentially the same way as the very small one. But as Feynman pointed out all the way back in 1959, and as Drexler goes to some length to explain, once we begin to approach the atomic scale, the rules are quite different. Gravity becomes much less of a factor, surface tension and friction become much more significant factors, and something has to be done about the fact that molecules are always vibrating. The portion of the APM system that operates at the molecular scale would therefore have to be very different from the rest of the system.

That first step has had no shortage of detractors, including the late Richard Smalley, himself a Nobel laureate for his discovery of buckminsterfullerene (“bucky balls”), one of the top scientific contributions to the field of nanotechnology. Drexler describes Smalley as “the leading critic of what were wrongly said to be my views,” citing multiple examples of inconsistency on Smalley’s part concerning both Drexler’s ideas and Drexler himself.

The two men famously debated the issue of molecular assembly in the pages of Scientific American and Chemical and Engineering News. As recounted in the footnotes to Radical Abundance, Drexler portrays Smalley as a primary contributor to many prevalent misunderstandings that surround nanotechnology, in particular the fear of deadly swarms of “nanobots.” Concerning molecular assembly, Drexler notes that Smalley’s major objection was the so-called “fat-finger” argument, which states that it would be impossible to make a stable and usable pair of molecular fingers (or pincers) that would be able to grasp a single atom in order to put it into place.

This argument is a straw man, says Drexler, with little bearing on anything that he has ever proposed or any of the likely paths to atomically precise manufacturing. He devotes a chapter to cataloging the different disciplines that currently achieve atomic precision. These include chemistry, genetic engineering, materials processing methods, and work that is being done with crystals. While skeptics argue that we are no closer today to nanotechnology than we were when Drexler wrote Engines of Creation, contributors to these fields—none of which is considered to be part of “nanotechnology” per se—are rapidly, if quietly, laying the groundwork for that first step of the APM process.

The Fourth Major Revolution

The significance of turning the production of physical goods into an information technology would be difficult to overstate. Drexler puts APM in context as the fourth major revolution after agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, and the digital revolution. APM borrows from and builds upon each of its predecessors, and has the potential to be as disruptive as each of them.

Consider how disruptive the move to the digital realm was for the music industry. In the analog world, recorded music was relatively scarce. Although the means existed by which we could produce our own copies of commercially manufactured recordings—remember the mix tape?—those technologies weren’t much of a threat to the recording industry. Most of the music people owned, they had purchased at a record store or other retail outlet.

Then along comes digital. Suddenly, creating a perfect copy of a commercially produced recording is as easy as copying and pasting text in an email. Music becomes “free” to anyone who has a Napster account. The music industry is shaken to its core and, although it fights back against the new model with some success, ultimately its survival requires that it morph into something very much like the model that is killing it.

Where music is concerned, we already live in an age of radical abundance. Similar transformations have occurred in book publishing and in film and video production. But those transformations are nothing compared to what will happen when that same “copy and paste” paradigm can be applied to essentially any manufactured good. As with recorded music, the cost of producing such goods will drop to a fraction of what it currently is, while much of the infrastructure currently required to produce these goods will become obsolete.

But in this case, that obsolete “infrastructure” is, essentially, the entire world economy of physical goods, from the extraction of raw materials to the production of precise machine tools to the manufacture of finished products. So we have, on the one hand, a superabundance of everything we could want or need, and on the other hand, the complete destruction—it might be fair to call it the “creative destruction”—of the economy as we have known it. Drexler describes this scenario as one of “catastrophic success.”

That same catastrophic success is what hit the music industry a few years back. In the end, we can expect a worldwide physical infrastructure for the production and distribution of goods as different from what we currently have as iTunes is from the old record-store model. Of course, as painful as that transition may be, there is no doubt that we would be immensely better off for having made it, enjoying the same kinds of economic benefits that we gained in moving from an agrarian society to an industrial one.

In fact, we should expect those benefits to be significantly greater than the ones provided by the previous revolutions, seeing as this revolution is effectively the culmination of all of them. We are talking about a world where people can make their own stuff, anything they want or need, and even produce their own energy. Drexler doesn’t get into many specifics about how very bright that future might look, however. On the contrary, at this point he issues an unexpected warning about abundance of a particular kind. He sees little advantage to an abundance of enthusiasm.

There’s something that I feel I must say to some of my readers, and I hope that they will understand a somewhat counterintuitive message and take it to heart. If you find these ideas about prospective technologies compelling, convincing, and exciting—if you imagine vistas far beyond any I’ve outlined, or see solutions to urgent global problems and feel the urge to share the full measure of your excitement—then please lie down until the urge passes. In the world as it is, this kind of excitement triggers a negative response, and for reasons that usually make sense; almost all grand ideas proclaimed by excited proponents turn out to be wrong and are generally discounted without consideration. If you want to make a positive difference, please help to keep fundamentals first, help to correct mistaken ideas, and join the conversation without shouting.

It seems that decades of clearing up misconceptions about fat fingers and swarms of lethal nanobots have taken their toll. Drexler is apparently tired of those arguments, tired of the hype, and tired of the true potential of this technology being, in his view, overlooked. He makes a sober and articulate case for why we should expect to see APM technologies become a reality in the near future. The impact of those technologies will be enormous.

So let’s talk about it, says Drexler. Quietly.

It will be interesting to see whether he gets his wish. It is possible that APM will arrive in full force after we have had the chance to deliberate, to plan, to prepare ourselves for the shock. But if the previous revolutions are any indication, we can expect the real dialog about catastrophic success and radical abundance to take place even as we are being overwhelmed by those changes.

ABOUT PHIL BOWERMASTER

Philip Bowermaster is a blogger and futurist, and co-host of the popular Internet radio series The World Transformed.