Thursday, March 31, 2005


For more than ten years, America has stood at the threshold of a new era in environmental policymaking, but hasn't stepped forward. The successes--and failures--of many of our landmark environmental laws (the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Superfund program) have been clear since the 1990s. All have accomplished much, although at needless cost, and all are straining against their limitations, undermined by unforeseen complications and unintended consequences. They haven't met their goals completely, and they face uncertain prospects for getting the job done.

Enacted a generation ago, these laws have been revised only occasionally and incompletely, if at all. They were the first federal efforts to respond to important--and complicated--problems. It's not surprising that they weren't perfect; it's surprising they worked at all. By now, their strengths and weaknesses are well understood, and yet reforms have been halting at best.

Take, for example, the Clean Air Act. A vast army of state and federal bureaucrats is employed issuing thousands of permits, inspecting facilities, and litigating everything from medical science to speculative engineering questions. Rigid regulations require overly prescriptive and sometimes counterproductive approaches to complex problems. Perverse regulatory incentives hinder innovation, as companies focus on the letter of the law rather than the larger goal of environmental performance. Every sector of the economy--and every household--bears some of the cost of this inefficiency; in some sectors, the cost is considerable. Meanwhile, in some areas, air pollution remains a serious public health problem, despite 35 years of federal regulation.

To do better--to make further improvements in air quality, where it's needed, at less cost--we need a better regulatory approach. We need an approach that promotes less bureaucracy, less litigation, more flexibility and innovation--and perhaps most importantly, more reliable results. In broad terms, we know what is needed, but cannot agree on how to do it.

The success of the 1990 Clean Air Act's marked-based "cap-and-trade" program to control sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions is uncontested. Even skeptics admit that the program has produced far greater reductions in pollution, far faster, at much less cost than anyone had imagined possible. This approach has two strengths: It gives companies an economic incentive to excel, and it is 100 percent effective. No lawsuits, no army of permit-processing civil servants, and no excuses. It offers perfect compliance at a minimal cost.

Extending this approach to other pollutants, and perhaps other industrial sectors, is the obvious next step. For three years now, President Bush has proposed doing just that, with no success. This year, once again, he called on Congress to establish a national trading program for SO2, nitrogen oxides, and mercury.

The President's proposal would cut power plant emissions of these pollutants by more than 70 percent--to levels 90 percent lower than they were when the Clean Air Act was first enacted in 1970. Environmentalists concerned about acid rain in the Adirondacks could hardly believe their ears when the President announced this initiative in 2002--it was all they had dreamed of--but they were even more surprised when the national environmental groups geared up to block the bill in Congress.

Since then, there's been heated debate over whether the caps are too high, whether the timetables are too slow, whether it's safe to "trade" mercury emissions, and whether it's wise to ignore greenhouse gases. These are reasonable issues to debate, and there are reasonable ways to resolve them. All that is needed is determination to get the job done, and for the first time, there are signs of seriousness from the administration.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will move forward this year with implementing as much of the President's initiative as possible through regulation if Congress doesn't act first. If Congress is smart, it won't wait for the EPA. Policymaking at this level is properly the responsibility of legislatures, not the courts or bureaucrats, and the legislative process is far more likely to produce a carefully crafted compromise that accommodates valid concerns on both sides.

For example, the ability to adjust the caps is one of the strengths of a cap and trade system. This flexibility needs to be limited--frequent adjustments would be costly and inefficient--but it can be useful. Congress could use this feature to craft a simple compromise: Adjust the targets or timetables as needed to satisfy a voting majority (probably making them somewhat more ambitious), while requiring an independent review of new information about pollution levels, health effects, and the efficacy of the trading system. Every five years, the caps could be adjusted, with an appropriate phase-in period for the new targets to take effect. The trading system could even be expanded, over time, to include new industrial sectors, and the caps reset accordingly.

The way forward on air pollution is clear. The reform agenda for other areas is, in many cases, equally obvious. It is well understood, for instance, that the Endangered Species Act creates perverse incentives for landowners: If your land offers suitable potential habitat for an endangered species, call the bulldozers--quick! If the owls show up first, the cabin you dreamed of building will remain just a dream. It's no surprise that once a species is listed as endangered, there's almost no chance that it will ever recover enough to be delisted. A new law that offers landowners positive incentives to protect species, and some reasonable flexibility in accommodating competing needs, would serve us well. On issue after issue, conservative environmentalism can be built on a foundation of simply learning from our successes--and our failures.

More here


Banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase is under pressure to condemn millions of people to perpetual poverty. Thanks to the short-sighted surrenders of two of its competitors, J.P. Morgan Chase's management is now facing serious harassment by the activist group Rainforest Action Network, who wants to dictate the bank’s lending policies in the developing world. Last week, RAN expanded its campaign against the U.S. financial services industry into tony Greenwich, Conn., to the very street where J.P. Morgan Chase's CEO, William Harrison, lives. RAN activists put up old-fashioned Wild West-type "Wanted" posters featuring Mr. Harrison as "Billy the Kid." The posters criticized the bank for "reckless investment in environmentally and socially destructive projects in dozens of countries" and urged Mr. Harrison's neighbors and friends to "ask him to do the right thing."

RAN wants to control J.P. Morgan Chase's lending policies in developing countries, especially with regard to energy projects and logging. As an extremist group that rails against oil, wood, and meat consumption, RAN wants to block lending to projects it claims may contribute to global warming or involve logging in "sensitive" areas. Given RAN's agenda, what’s next? Opposition to loans for ranchers and home builders?

What makes the stakes so high is that banking giants Citigroup and Bank of America have already caved in to RAN, following a similar poster assault near the home of Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill in 2004. If J.P. Morgan Chase joins these capitulating capitalists, then that means the three largest financial services companies —­ thus, virtually an entire industry — will have ceded control of a portion of their businesses to anti-business activists and turned their backs on many in the developing world. J.P. Morgan Chase has so far held out against some of RAN’s more appalling tactics like rounding up second graders from Mr. Harrison's hometown in December, and transporting them to J.P. Morgan Chase's Manhattan headquarters to protest the bank during school hours — a stunt aptly described by Terence Corcoran of Canada’s National Post as "ideological child abuse."

But RAN’s latest brand of intimidation may be working. A J.P. Morgan Chase spokesman told the New York Times last week that the bank was "on track for April" in terms of a review of its lending policies as demanded by RAN. Let’s consider the consequences should Mr. Harrison give in to RAN.

“The real targets — the victims — of all these campaigns are the world’s poorest children and families,” point out Niger Innis and Paul Driessen of the Congress of Racial Equality. “Their countries are deprived of investment dollars to generate electricity, create jobs, improve health, education and nutrition, build modern homes and businesses, and instill hope for the future,” add Innis and Driessen. The World Health Organization reported in May 2002 that 5,500 children die every day from consumption of food and water contaminated with bacteria. The WHO painted a shockingly bleak picture for millions of third-world children: 1.3 million under the age of five die annually from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe food and water; another 2.2 million die from respiratory infections caused or exacerbated by poor sanitation. This death toll equates to about 40 jumbo jets filled with kids crashing every day — a death toll that can only be alleviated by economic development.

CORE’s Driessen points out that 2 billion people around the world lack electricity. A billion people live on less than $200 per year; three billion live on less than $700 per year. As an illustration of the often disturbingly confused priorities of many environmentalists, a dam project in India’s Gujarat Province was halted after eco-activists pressured lenders to withdraw financial support. The dam had to be stopped because it would “change the path of the river, kill little creatures along its banks and uproot tribal people in the area,” one eco-activist smugly intoned. “The local ‘tribal people,’ however, don’t appear to appreciate her intervention,” wrote Driessen in his book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death. “One resident angrily called the activists’ handiwork ‘a crime against humanity,’ because the project would have provided electricity for 5,000 villages; low-cost renewable power for industries and sewage treatment plants; irrigation water for crops; and clean water for 35 million people.”

People in the third world need economic development. It’s the only truly sustainable solution for them — and access to the financial services necessary for economic development is largely in the hands of lenders like J.P. Morgan Chase, with $1 trillion in assets and operations in 50 countries. Appeasing RAN would be an unconscionable and socially irresponsible business decision for J.P. Morgan Chase to make and would amount to a shameful betrayal of the millions who look to this nation and its lenders for hope.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005


"Our friends at Powerline wrote several weeks back about how the unctuous Bill Moyers had slandered Reagan's Interior Secretary James Watt by recycling the canard that "Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'"

Watt never said any such thing, and though this urban legend has been knocked down for more than 20 years, as the Moyers article shows it lives on. Moyers had to issue a public apology to Watt, as did the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where Moyers article appeared. (He also made the same charge in a speech at Harvard.) So, too, the environmental website issued an apology and retraction (it had been Moyers' source for the quote): "Grist has been unable to substantiate that Watt made this statement. We would like to extend our sincere apologies to Watt and to our readers for this error."

All of this is prologue for considering what is likely an equally spurious quotation, if not in fact a fabrication, that appears in the pages of Jared Diamond's new best-seller Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In a particularly frothy passage on page 462 attacking mining companies, Diamond writes: "Civilization as we know it would be impossible without oil, farm food, wood, or books, but oil executives, farmers, loggers, and book publishers nevertheless don't cling to that quasi-religious fundamentalism of mine executives: `God put those metals there for the benefit of mankind, to be mined.'"

The "mine executive" who supposedly said this is not identified, nor the name of her company. (There are no footnotes or source notes for this quote, or any other in the book.) It is not clear from Diamond's prose whether this is meant to be a verbatim quotation, or a stylized characterization, The doubt about the authenticity of this quote is deepened by the immediate sequel: "

The CEO and most officers of one of the major American mining companies are members of a church that teaches that God will soon arrive on Earth, hence if we can just postpone land reclamation for another 5 or 10 years it will then be irrelevant anyway."

Again, Diamond identifies neither the mining company nor the denomination in question here. These things matter. Precisely because Diamond is a bestselling author of considerable reputation, his distortion or invention of ridiculous quotations threatens to inject them into wider circulation. In fact, it has already started.

Reviewing Collapse in Science magazine, Tim Flannery writes of "the CEO of an American mining company who believes that `God will soon arrive on Earth, hence if we can just postpone land reclamation for another 5 or 10 years it will then be irrelevant anyway.'" Suddenly we've gone from executives who attend an unidentified congregation that believes this to an unnamed CEO who "believes" this. The next short step will be directly attributing this non-quotation to the unnamed CEO.

It is beyond doubtful that any denomination believes as a matter of doctrine the ridiculous views Diamond describes. To paraphrase Orwell, only a university professor could believe such nonsense. Diamond owes it to his readers, and the mining company executives in question, to come clean with specifics about who supposedly said this and what denomination holds these views, so other journalists can verify the story. Either Diamond was had by some woolly faculty room chatter, or he fabricated another shameful slander reminiscent of the Watt remark".

(Post from No Left Turns -- which see for links)


And that one is ignored, of course

Almost every issue facing the EU - from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities - has at its heart the same glaringly plain root cause: a huge lack of babies. I could understand a disinclination by sunny politicians to peddle doom and gloom were it not for the fact that, in all other areas of public policy, our rulers embrace doomsday scenarios at the drop of a hat. Most 20-year projections - on global warming, fuel resources, etc - are almost laughably speculative. They fail to take into account the most important factor of all - human inventiveness: "We can't feed the world!" they shriek. But we develop more efficient farming methods with nary a thought. "The oil will run out by the year 2000!" But we develop new extraction methods and find we've got enough oil for as long as we'll need it.

But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of. When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2005, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2025 (or 2033, or 2041, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management, Systemic Racism and Gay Studies degrees). If that's not a political issue, what is? To cite only the most obviously affected corner of the realm, what's the long-term future of the Scottish National Party if there are no Scottish nationals?

When I've mentioned the birth dearth on previous occasions, pro-abortion correspondents have insisted it's due to other factors - the generally declining fertility rates that affect all materially prosperous societies, or the high taxes that make large families prohibitively expensive in materially prosperous societies. But this is a bit like arguing over which came first, the chicken or the egg - or, in this case, which came first, the lack of eggs or the scraggy old chicken-necked women desperate for one designer baby at the age of 48. How much of Europe's fertility woes derive from abortion is debatable. But what should be obvious is that the way the abortion issue is framed - as a Blairite issue of personal choice - is itself symptomatic of the broader crisis of the dying West.

Since 1945, a multiplicity of government interventions - state pensions, subsidised higher education, higher taxes to pay for everything - has so ruptured traditional patterns of inter-generational solidarity that in Europe a child is now an optional lifestyle accessory. By 2050, Estonia's population will have fallen by 52 per cent, Bulgaria's by 36 per cent, Italy's by 22 per cent. The hyper-rationalism of post-Christian Europe turns out to be wholly irrational: what's the point of creating a secular utopia if it's only for one generation?

The 19th-century Shaker communities were forbidden from breeding and could increase their number only by conversion. The Euro-Canadian-Democratic Party welfare secularists seem to have chosen the same predicament voluntarily, and are likely to meet the same fate. The martyrdom culture of radical Islam is a literal dead end. But so is the slyer death culture of post-Christian radical narcissism. This is the political issue that will determine all the others: it's the demography, stupid.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Candles and stoves are in their sights. Burning ANYTHING inside your home may soon be a No-No

The California agency famous for putting the squeeze on automotive tailpipe emissions is poised to tackle dirty indoor air. In a hefty report to the Legislature completed this month, the California Air Resources Board asserts that indoor air can be as polluted and dangerous to breathe as outdoor air, costing the state at least $45 billion a year in lost worker productivity, medical expenses and premature deaths......

Some sources of indoor pollution are well-known, such as cigarette smoke. Others are less obvious - for instance, air purifiers that deliberately generate ozone. Makers tout ozone as killing germs and eliminating odor-causing chemicals. But ozone itself is harmful to breathe.

Another little-known trouble source: Natural-gas stoves. The biggest culprits are unvented stoves, or stoves in which cooks don't use the ventilation hood. But even properly vented appliances pose a risk, because combustion creates byproducts that aren't completely sucked away by a hood, Nazaroff said. "After the gas burns, you end up with nitrogen oxides and soot, and you also may end up with some formaldehyde," he said. "There's no exposure that's good to those things." By the same token, fireplaces and even candles make particulate pollution, which is bad for the lungs and heart. "Any kind of combustion, in my view, is something to avoid," Nazaroff said.

The list of sources goes on: Mold, dust mites, cockroach droppings; radon; off-gassing from particle board, new carpets and furniture; fumes from consumer products, including certain cleansers, pesticides, hair spray and nail polish.

At an air board meeting this month, industry representatives defended their products. "These aren't just pollutants in a can," said Laurie Nelson, a lobbyist for the Consumer Specialty Products Association, representing makers of goods marketed as providing a cleaner and healthier environment, including disinfectants and odor-masking fragrances. Nelson said reformulating products to minimize emissions could render those products less effective. Nevertheless, putting pressure on manufacturers to make less-polluting products is one obvious way to clean up indoor air, said Nazaroff, who supports more government involvement. Even a voluntary program could work, he said, one in which manufacturers who meet emission standards could put a label on their goods, similar to the "Energy Star" label allowed on energy-efficient products.

What regulating indoor air is not likely to involve is pollution police checking the air inside people's homes, Nazaroff added. "Some of what we're talking about ... is not going to require profound change in habits ... and could lead to significant improvement in environmental health," he said.

More here

Simplistic Religious Fundamentalism on the March

(This post lifted whole from Daily Ablution)

Today on BBC Radio 4, the hugely influential Today programme presented a discussion (streaming RAM) between Dick Taverne, author of The March of Unreason and highly sceptical about the environmental lobby in general, and Charlie Kronick, chief policy advisor for Greenpeace.

Although the piece was overall a well-balanced one, Sarah Montague's introduction struck an odd note:

"What happened to GM crop trials in Britain? It seems no-one wants to carry them out because the fields were attacked. So, environmental organisations have won the public debate."

Interesting that a tiny proportion of activists forcing a response through property destruction and the ensuing intimidation constitutes "winning the public debate" at the BBC. One wonders whether they'd take the same view of, say, a group of Tory party activists storming the Today studios, demanding that all presenters and producers espouse right-of-centre politics (think Monty Python's Hell's Grannies confronting Mr. Humphrys et al).

Conservative activists debate Today programme presenter (prone, shielding face)

In the unlikely event that such an action were to prove successful in forcing editorial change through direct intimidation, do you suppose that the unemployed Today team would see it as the result of "public debate"?

In the same segment, Greenpeace chief policy advisor Charlie Kronick wastes no time in making something "absolutely clear". Responding to the Lib-Dem Lord Taverne's assertion that "they [environmental NGOs, specifically Greenpeace] say there's a danger to health," when in fact study after study has shown none, Mr. Kronick is unequivocal:

"Well, first of all, Greenpeace doesn't oppose GM crops of the basis of health. Greenpeace opposed GM crops on the basis of their risk to the environment. So that's absolutely clear."

How odd that their chief policy advisor is unaware of the position laid out on the organisation's website (emphasis added):

"Greenpeace opposes the release of GM into the environment because they pose unpredictable and irreversible long-term risks to environmental and human health."

Or perhaps what his statement really makes clear is his propensity to mislead the public when it's necessary (or even just momentarily expedient).

Mr. Kronick goes on to illustrate the illogical certainty of the religious fundamentalist:

Sarah Montague, BBC: "Do you accept that there are some advantages to them?"

Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace: "No. We don't accept that there are advantages."

And later:

SM: "Do you not accept that there are some benefits to GM crops?"

CK: "We do not accept that there are benefits to GM crops."

None. And if it's possible for tests to demonstrate benefits, or to accurately quantify the risks, those tests must be stopped - through violence and intimidation of law-abiding farmers, if need be. One can't help but be reminded of the Church authorities' (apocryphal?) refusal to look at the moons of Jupiter through Galileo's telescope, for fear that the facts might interfere with the theological position so important to them.

(Incidentally, such one-dimensional certainty in the face of a complex issue (see also: nuclear power) is always amusing coming from the greens, given their frequently-professed contempt for the simplistic black-and-white mindset so often ascribed to President Bush.)

As far as possible advantages of GM crops are concerned, Mr. Kronick has previously demonstrated that "3 million people being able to eat" is not to his mind an advantage at all, having applauded the Zambian government's 2002 refusal to allow distribution of GM food aid (corn previously ground, and therefore incapable of 'contaminating' the gene pool) for those under an immediate threat of famine - ostensibly on human health grounds - as  "a triumph of national sovereignty. The US has been putting pressure on countries to accept the GM surpluses produced by its farmers."

Once again, an underlying priority of the Green movement is revealed. In fact, one could argue that Mr. Kronick's statement on human health contains an element of truth, shedding light as it does on the primary interest of his organisation - which has become so highly politicised that even its founder left in disgust, noting that "the environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists who are using green rhetoric to cloak agendas that have more to do with anti-corporatism and class warfare than with ecology or the environment."

For it is a fact - Greenpeace and their co-religionists are not primarily concerned about human health (see also: DDT and malaria). Nor is their main concern the welfare of the starving, nor even the broader environment itself. It is, all-importantly, opposition to global capitalism - especially as reflected in the policies of the US and the current administration - whenever possible, whatever the issue and whatever the situation.

And if that means widespread famine, or millions dead from malaria, so be it. After all, we're all going to die anyway, but Gaia and Green theology will live on - and aren't cherished religious principles worth more than a few million human lives?


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, March 28, 2005


Washington DC has a new baseball team, but the city's favorite pastime will surely remain "gotcha," a game in which it is possible to criticize someone for making the wrong decision, no matter what. (If the outcome is bad, he made the wrong choice; if the outcome is good, he was just lucky, or the price was too high.) Many politicians and columnists deserve membership in the Gotcha Hall of Fame.

We propose a new nominee: the Washington-based, ironically misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest, for a hypocritical and disingenuous new report about the current state of agricultural biotechnology. CSPI's "analysis" concludes that the agbiotech industry "is not innovating, it is stagnating," leaving unfulfilled its promise "that genetic engineering would spawn a cornucopia of heartier crops, more-healthful oils, delayed-ripening fruits, and many more nutritious and better-tasting foods." Also, they allege, "the biotech cupboard remains pretty bare, except for the few crops that have benefitted grain, oilseed, and cotton farmers," and supposedly there now exists "a voluntary, antiquated, and inefficient hodgepodge of a regulatory system" that must be replaced "with a mandatory system that takes risk into account." These assertions are part of activists' Big Lie about the application of the new biotechnology, or gene-splicing, to agriculture and food production—namely, that the technology is unproven, untested and unregulated. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Gene-splicing is an extension, or refinement, of less precise and predictable technologies long used with great success; the new techniques offer plant breeders the tools to make old crop plants do impressive new things. In the United States, Canada and at least sixteen other countries, farmers are using gene-spliced crop varieties to produce higher yields, with lower inputs and reduced impact on the environment. American farmers' adoption of gene-spliced crops has promoted the use of no-till cultivation, which lessens soil erosion; and has obviated the need for millions of pounds of chemical pesticides, reducing runoff into waterways and occupational exposures.

More than 200 million acres of gene-spliced crops were cultivated worldwide last year, about 80 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves now contain gene-spliced ingredients (mostly byproducts of soy and corn), and Americans have collectively consumed more than a trillion servings of these foods. With all this experience, not a single person has been harmed or an ecosystem disrupted—a record that is superior to that of conventionally-produced products.

But the greatest boon of all from agbiotech in the long-term may be the enhancement of the ability of new crop varieties to tolerate periods of drought and other water-related stresses. Irrigation for agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of the world's fresh water consumption, so especially during drought conditions, even a small percentage reduction in the use of water for irrigation could result in huge benefits, both economic and humanitarian. Where water is unavailable for irrigation, the development of crop varieties able to grow under conditions of low moisture or temporary drought could both boost yields and lengthen the time that farmland is productive.

The biotech fix? Plant biologists already have identified and transferred into important crop plants the genes that regulate water utilization in wild and cultivated plants. These new varieties are able to grow with smaller amounts or lower quality water, such as water that has been recycled or that contains large amounts of natural mineral salts.

There are thorns on the rose, however: unscientific, gratuitous and overly burdensome regulation in the United States and elsewhere that has been championed by CSPI and other activist groups. Part of the activists' strategy to make agbiotech less accessible, this discriminatory regulation, focused specifically on the most precise and predictable techniques of biotechnology, has raised the cost of research and development to levels that "exclude the public sector, the academic community, from using their skills to improve crops," according to Dr. Roger Beachy, the director of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. This is public policy at it most anti-social.

In fact, the very regulatory policies promoted by radical activists are the reason we don't have gene-spliced versions of more nutritious and flavorful fruits and vegetables, new varieties of grapes resistant to Pierce's disease, and improved subsistence crops for farmers in the developing world. It is revealing that CSPI's biotech spokesman, Gregory Jaffe, was a primary drafter of scientifically flawed legislation introduced in Congress by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) that would have established even more excessive and debilitating regulatory requirements specific for gene-spliced foods -- requirements that no conventionally produced food (made with less precise and predictable technology) could meet.

CSPI's crocodile tears for agbiotech remind us of the child who murders his parents and then asks for mercy from the court because he's an orphan.



So, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, sees purported man-made global warming as "a moral issue which causes us to exercise moral leadership before the worst consequences are seen" ("Evangelicals lobby Congress on responsibility" Page 1, Friday).

By such leadership, he presumably means his McCain-Lieberman legislation seeking to implement a scaled-back version of the regime set forth in the unratified Kyoto Protocol. Precisely how scaled back remains unclear because, in a bid to strip away opposition, the bill's sponsors serially carve out industries from its emissions rationing scheme.

Precisely how moral is Mr. Lieberman's response is a legitimate issue given that the sole basis for such "greenhouse gas" regulation is the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. Even Kyoto's proponents admit that a treaty, perfectly implemented, would not have a detectable climatic effect despite its enormous cost. As such, Mr. Lieberman offers a percentage of nothing in response to a purportedly grave and imminent threat so that we can say we are "doing something."

If the senator believes the basis for Kyoto/McCain-Lieberman, he needs to propose Kyoto's express endgame or at least something near thereto: 60 percent to 80 percent reduction of energy use emissions, and not just here in the United States. (Europe, by the way, admits it is not complying with Kyoto.) Amid the political firestorm Mr. Lieberman et al., can ponder the human consequences of their moral play.

In fact, the climate has always changed and always will. It is always getting cooler or warmer, wetter or drier. Man has always adapted, with the wealthiest societies adapting best. The solution to the entire parade of supposed horrors is not rationing energy—access to affordable, reliable supplies of which the world has too little, not too much—but wealth creation.

This is indeed a moral question. Politicians who seize it in the fashionable sense do so not only wrongly, but in a way that upon scrutiny appears to be little more than political posturing.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, March 27, 2005


A global water crisis is looming. More than a billion people worldwide lack access to clean and safe water - with devastating effects: 12 million deaths annually and millions of others struck by diseases associated with the lack of sanitary water. Last year, more people likely died from lack of water than from armed conflicts.

There may be a solution to what had been an insoluble problem. In recent years, a small number of developing country governments have turned to the private sector for help and have introduced market-oriented reforms in the water sector. Overall, the results have been encouraging. The reforms have had limited scope - 97 percent of all water distribution, after all, is still in government hands - but millions of new households in such diverse locations as Argentina, Cambodia, Guinea, Morocco, and the Philippines, have been connected to water networks as a result of private investment. In developing countries with private investment in water infrastructure, 80 percent of the population now has access to an improved water source. Countries that don't allow private investment in water distribution have lagged behind their entrepreneurial rivals.

The attempts at privatization have met vociferous resistance. A coalition of Non-Government Organizations, trade unions for public employees, and international organizations such as the United Nations have done all they can to limit the role of the market and the business community. And they have had some success. The privatization pace has slowed down and the World Bank - one of the major advocates of privatization - has gone on the defensive. Global water companies are less and less inclined to invest in developing countries, for fear that their efforts may be nationalized......

Millions of women and children therefore spend many hours per day (the estimate is 10 million man-years per annum) fetching bad water from remote sources. They cannot work or go to school during this time, which helps to keep them in poverty. Too low prices also lead to waste and misallocations in agriculture where most water is used, and generally used inefficiently.

Most importantly, the billion people who are not connected to any water network are forced to buy water - usually of bad quality - that costs on average 12 times more than network water. These people will gain, not lose, from higher prices, when operators get capital and incentives to reach them. Since the poor are not connected to the networks, they do not gain from subsidized water; they pay for it with their taxes, financing cheap water for the better off.

Members of the anti-privatization movement claim that water is a human right that only governments can provide. The problem is that, for whatever reason, many governments simply will not provide this water. It is not surprising that water companies with skills, incentives, capital and technology are far better equipped to provide water. No matter how many documents there are stating that access to water is a fundamental right, people drink neither paper nor rights, but water.

Some people also argue that since water is necessary for life, it needs to be distributed "democratically" - i.e., by the government. That is nonsense. Food is also necessary for humans to survive. And in countries where food is produced "democratically," there tend to be neither food nor democracy.

More here


Tropical weather expert William Gray says nature, not mankind, is to blame for a period of increased hurricane activity that could last for another 20 or 30 years. The Colorado State University professor, known for his annual predictions, will be the closing speaker tomorrow at the 27th annual National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.

Gray said hurricane activity began increasing 10 years ago after a slack period of about 25 years. He says faster-moving currents in the Atlantic Ocean produce more major hurricanes than slower currents, although they don't seem to have much effect on less powerful storms.

Gray is predicting another above average season in 2005 but not as busy as 2004, which saw 15 named storms including nine hurricanes. Six of them were major and Florida was hit by four hurricanes for the first time in the state's history. The initial 2005 forecast, released in December, was for eleven named storms including six hurricanes, three of them major. Gray also predicted a 69 percent chance that at least one major storm would make landfall in the United States.


We have been hearing this sort of story for around a hundred years: "The worldwide decline in new discoveries has profound implications for the global supply of energy and, by extension, the world economy. Given a recent surge in energy demand from China and other rapidly-developing countries, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) predicts that, for all future energy needs to be satisfied, total world oil output will have to climb by 50% between now and 2025; from, that is, approximately 80 million to 120 million barrels per day. A staggering increase in global production, that extra 40 million barrels per day would be the equivalent of total world daily consumption in 1969. Absent major new discoveries, however, the global oil industry will likely prove incapable of providing all of this additional energy. Without massive new oil discoveries, prices will rise, supplies will dwindle, and the world economy will plunge into recession -- or worse."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, March 26, 2005


Seeking to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the status of endangered species every five years or remove them from the protected list, the Pacific Legal Foundation sued the agency Tuesday in Sacramento federal court.

Noting the reviews are required by the Endangered Species Act, the foundation argues that continued listing of species that no longer need protection burdens California property owners with unnecessary land-use restrictions. The foundation, based in Sacramento, bills itself as "the nation's oldest and largest public interest legal organization dedicated to defending private property rights."

The suit alleges the agency has failed to perform reviews for at least 193 of the 298 species listed in California. Fish and Wildlife official Jim Nickles would not comment on the suit. But he said most of the agency's resources are devoted to the recovery of critical habitat, and most of that work is mandated by court order.



The Greenies are opposed, of course. They oppose anything that might help anyone

While Congress debates whether to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a similar battle with much higher stakes is under way in northwest Canada. The $6 billion Mackenzie Pipeline project would open the Canadian Arctic for natural gas drilling and send the gas 800 miles south down the Mackenzie River Valley to Alberta. There, much of this fuel would be used to throttle up production in a huge but hard-to-tap supply of petroleum dispersed in underground gravel formations. These so-called oil sands hold petroleum reserves that are second in size only to Saudi Arabia's, and analysts say they could supply a large portion of U.S. energy needs for decades to come.

But the project has sparked opposition from some native tribal groups, which call it a federal grab of their ancestral lands, and from environmentalists, who say it would churn out greenhouse gases linked to global warming. It is a fight that is likely to forever set the course for Canada's vast and empty north. The project is full of continental superlatives -- North America's richest oil patch, its biggest construction project since the Alaska pipeline in the 1970s, its largest strip-mining operation. "By far the most important thing for North America are those oil sands in Canada," said Robert Esser, director of oil and gas resources at Cambridge Energy Research Associates in New York. "It's nice we're going to have access to (the Alaska refuge), but there are a lot of unknown questions there. We have no idea whether there is oil or gas or how much. In the oil sands, we know the reserves are huge, much larger than in Alaska."

The Canadian government, which calls the project an economic necessity, is not required to seek approval from Parliament in Ottawa. Pipeline construction is expected to start in early 2007, with gas flowing two years later.

In Alaska, by contrast, congressional authorization is required to develop the wildlife refuge. Last week's Senate vote to allow drilling will be followed by several more months of legislative maneuvering and, if the plan is approved, about eight years of preparation before oil begins to be pumped.

Despite its bright prospects, Canada's pipeline could still be stopped in its tracks by opposition from one of the region's native tribes, which are known in Canada as First Nations. The Deh Cho First Nation, a tribe of about 4,200 people who occupy the southern third of the pipeline route, has filed suit in federal court in Vancouver, British Columbia, to block the project. Unlike tribes of the northern Mackenzie Valley that have settled their land disputes with the government and support the pipeline, the Deh Cho are holding out for autonomous powers in their area. Until a deal is reached on the land dispute, the government lacks legal authority for a pipeline right of way, the tribe insists. "What we see today is Canada not living up to its obligations," said Noeline Villebrun, national chief of the Dene, the parent federation of Mackenzie Valley tribes. "If Canada hopes to settle the claims, then the Deh Cho have to see their rights being accommodated." The Deh Cho won a round last week, when a federal judge ordered the government to release briefing notes, minutes, draft plans, correspondence and other documents related to planning for the pipeline project.

Contained in the oil sands are vast quantities of so-called bitumen, or super-heavy oil, underneath an area of northern Alberta as big as Florida. One extraction process is similar to strip mining, in which sand is scooped out and cooked at high heat to extract the sludge. Another process pumps steam into the underground deposits, dissolving the bitumen and allowing it to be piped to the surface. Under both methods, the resulting goo is refined into commercial grades of crude oil and piped to customers, mostly in the western United States. About 2 tons of sand have to be dug up, heated and processed to make a single 42-gallon barrel of oil.

The crucial ingredient in this process is natural gas. Although other fuels have been used to cook the oil sands, such as coal and the bitumen itself, none works as well as gas. Production of gas from long-established fields in Alberta is expected to decline in coming years, and because demand for gas is rising fast, expansion of the oil sands will require new supplies. The nearest major source is in three well-explored yet untapped gas fields in the delta of the Mackenzie River on the shore of the Arctic Ocean. If the pipeline is built, gas from the delta can be funneled down to Alberta, where it will connect with the province's pipeline system to reach the oil sands.

With international oil prices soaring over $50 per barrel and likely to remain high for years to come, the oil sands are a bonanza in the making. The oil sands are estimated to contain 174 billion barrels of oil, second only to Saudi Arabia's 260 billion barrels. In contrast, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains only about 10 billion barrels. The Energy Department predicts output there will reach a peak of about 1 million barrels per day within a few years after the estimated 2015 start, and will decline gradually thereafter....

The economic potential of the pipeline project has been a powerful lure for many of the region's Natives. Poverty is rampant in the ramshackle Native villages that dot the boreal forest. Unemployment can be as high as 50 percent. "People need jobs, and although we're not sure the pipeline won't just hire outsiders from down south, there are a lot of people here who are really hopeful," Villebrun said. Three tribes in the Mackenzie Valley have allied themselves with the oil and gas companies behind the pipeline project. The Sahtu Dene, Gwichin and Inuvialuit, which settled their federal land claims in the 1990s, hold a one- third stake in the pipeline project along with its corporate parents: Exxon Mobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, March 25, 2005


The environmental activist group Union of Concerned Scientists has launched an attack on the auto industry blaming it for contributing to smog and "global warming pollution". As is so often the case, these concerned scientists seem to have no concern for science. Let's look at some facts.

Smog is a mixture of pollutants, principally ground-level ozone, produced by complex chemical reactions in the air enhanced by sunshine, high temperatures, and calm winds. The Union of Concerned Scientists is correct in noting that a major portion of smog-forming chemicals comes from burning gasoline in our fleet of vehicles. However, in the case of smog, the newest vehicles are far cleaner than the cars and trucks from decades ago. And as time goes on, these older vehicles will be eliminated, and the principal smog producers will vanish from the landscape. I have been involved in studying air quality in Phoenix, and contrary to popular perception, the hard data show that visibility and air quality have improved over time in the city, despite a very large increase in population.

The Union of Concerned Scientists refers to something they call "heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution". They are correct that burning fossil fuels in vehicles produces carbon dioxide and indeed, carbon dioxide traps heat and contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. However, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and even the United States Environmental Protection Agency does not list carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is naturally-occurring and responsible for life on the planet. In fact, carbon dioxide concentrations were much higher in the past, millions of years ago, when plants evolved around the world. Literally thousands of biological experiments show that when carbon dioxide levels increase, plants grow faster, bigger, more resistant to any number of stresses, and far more efficient in their use of water.

The Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that carbon dioxide emitted from American vehicles is contributing to global warming, and in fact, they are correct. However, if you have exhaled while reading this sentence, you have emitted carbon dioxide and to some degree, you have contributed to global warming. Across the globe, human activities result in an emission to the atmosphere of approximately 6.5 billion tons of carbon (not carbon dioxide). Of that amount, 23 percent comes from the United States, and of that amount, approximately one-fifth comes from our vehicular fleet. The American fleet constitutes less than five percent of emissions globally: While the global emission of carbon is 6.5 billion tons, the emission from the American fleet is approximately 0.3 billion tons. Even if the fleet vanished from the face of the earth, human activities would still result in 6.2 billion tons of carbon, and the atmospheric concentration would continue to rise. Like it or not, with or without cars and trucks in the United States, the concentration of carbon dioxide will double this century, and the year when this will occur is not impacted much by American cars and trucks.

Another point to consider is that many developing countries have no obligation via the Kyoto Protocol to reduce or even stabilize emissions of carbon dioxide. China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, and many other countries are planning substantial increases in electrical generation, and almost all of that electricity will be generating by consuming coal, oil, and natural gas. What happens to the cars in America is dwarfed by orders of magnitude by development in the rest of the world. As the rest of the world increases their emissions of carbon dioxide, the American fleet becomes more and more trivial in terms of global emissions.

The Union of Concerned Scientists must do a more credible job presenting the science behind smog, the greenhouse effect, and enhanced global warming. Like many other groups, they seem to be on an environmental crusade in which facts are distorted to encourage their desired behavior. The auto industry is very much at the mercy of the buying public - they can manufacture small electric cars all day, but in a marketplace where people demand safety over fuel efficiency, we will continue to see larger cars in the fleet. However, those larger vehicles are remarkably clean in terms of smog contribution, despite the claims of the UCS. The cars undoubtedly produce carbon dioxide, but their total emission is small in terms of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Scientists throughout the world concede that even if the Kyoto Protocol magically stabilized global emissions to 1990 levels, we would never be able to detect its climate impact. Similarly, the American fleet could totally vanish, and its climate impact would never be detectable. These facts fly in the face of the latest distorted message coming from the Union of Concerned Scientists.



Critics are "lying about environmentalists" and "willfully representing facts" about them and their views, concerns and agendas. So says a recent commentary by the Earth Island Institute and Environmental News Network. A principle object of their wrath was a recent article by this author, shredding lofty claims about wind turbines, much as these towering "Cuisinarts of the air" eviscerate birds and bats. They particularly objected to this statement:

The Earth Island Institute longs for the day when Africa's poor made clothing for their neighbors "on foot-pedal-powered sewing machines" and says, "once they get electricity, they spend too much time watching television and listening to the radio."

"Earth Island longs for no such thing," the ENN column protested, "and Driessen is misrepresenting "a former Earth Island staff member who spoke supporting sustainable development in Africa." One can readily understand their pique at being roundly criticized for their eco-imperialistic, anti-development ideologies. However, the facts speak for themselves. Former EII editor Gar Smith's comments were duly reported in a 2002 story in which Smith opined:

"I don't think a lot of electricity is a good thing.. I have seen villages in Africa that had vibrant culture and great communities that were disrupted and destroyed by the introduction of electricity." [Once they got electricity,] African villagers spent too much time watching television and listening to the radio, allowing their traditional ways to fade away, according to Smith.

Smith lamented that "people who used to spend their days and evenings in the streets playing music on their own instruments, and sewing clothing for their neighbors on foot-peddle-powered sewing machines," lost their culture with the advent of electricity. "If there is going to be electricity, I would like it to be decentralized, small, solar-powered," he said.

Moreover, in the common vernacular of radical environmentalism and "corporate social responsibility," helping African villages to retain their "traditional ways" - by keeping their access to electricity at a bare minimum - is precisely what is meant by "sustainable development." Thus, actor Ed Begley, Jr. pontificates that "it's much cheaper for everybody in Africa to have electricity where they need it, on their huts." (And huts forever, one might suppose, since little solar panels like these can barely power a few light bulbs and small appliances - and certainly can never provide enough electricity for a modern hospital, school, office, manufacturing facility or society.)

Similarly, the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) demands that the World Bank, Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and other lenders demonstrate their social responsibility by pulling the plug on coal and natural gas power projects, and funding only renewable energy. But not the most efficient and cost-effective of all renewable sources, of course - the hydroelectric facilities that generate 99% of all electricity that currently comes from renewables. Wind and solar are the only "appropriate" and "sustainable" sources permitted under radical green and CSR standards. And the smaller-scale the better, when it comes to poor developing countries.

Begley, RAN, Earth Island, Friends of the Earth, International Rivers Network and similar groups are adamantly opposed to "damming more rivers" to provide clean water and abundant, affordable, reliable electricity to the world's poor. Hydro projects "ruin good kayaking rivers" and "displace" little creatures that live along river banks. On the other hand, most of these activists voice few objections to the impact that forests of 300-foot-tall wind turbines have on scenic values or bird and bat populations.

Environmentalists airbrush and sanitize "sustainable development," dressing it up in fancy verbal raiment about pristine nature, indigenous cultures and future generations. But the result remains unchanged. "Sustainable development" is being used to justify blocking energy and economic development, and keeping the world's most destitute people mired in misery. "Cute, indigenous customs aren't so charming when they make up one's day-to-day existence," Kenya's Akinyi Arunga observes. "Then they mean indigenous poverty, indigenous malnutrition, indigenous disease and childhood death. I don't wish this on my worst enemy, and I wish our so-called friends would stop imposing it on us."

Opposition to hydroelectric projects is "a crime against humanity," a man in Gujarat, India angrily told a UK television news crew. "We don't want to be encased like a museum," a Gujarati woman told the crew, in "traditional" lifestyles so romanticized by Hollywood and radical Greens. "Telling destitute people in my country, and in countries with even greater destitution, that they must never aspire to living standards much better than they have now - because it wouldn't be `sustainable' - is just one example of the hypocrisy we have had thrust in our faces, in an era when we can and should grow fast enough to become fully developed in a single generation," South African anti-poverty activist Leon Louw says bluntly. "We're fed up with it."

One factor driving opposition to Third World development is the alarmists' fixation on theoretical human-caused climate change. They know that, despite the economic pain it will inflict on signatory nations, the Kyoto Protocol will at best keep global temperatures from rising a few tenths of a degree over the next century. That's why alarmists now say global emissions must be cut by 60 to 80 percent! But developing countries are exempted from the Kyoto treaty's draconian measures, and China, India and Brazil refused to be bound - and are strong enough that they can't be bullied. So the alarmists have turned their attention to the smaller nations, successfully pressuring banks and governments not to support power generation projects. The tactic supposedly keeps emissions down, if one ignores the millions of wood, grass and dung fires that substitute for electricity. It certainly keeps poor people from become middle class consumers (of "finite resources").

It also gets the banks and other organizations out of the pressure groups' crosshairs, at least for awhile. But it does so by imposing a death sentence on critically needed projects - and millions of people, who succumb to a host of diseases that no longer exist in developed countries. Why any ethical company or politician would want to be associated with such policies is a mystery. Poor countries need sustained development, not sustainable development, if they are ever to take what Rabbi Daniel Lapin calls "their rightful place among the Earth's prosperous people."

Opposition to centralized electricity and economic projects, support for "sustainable development" and "appropriate" forms of small-scale renewable energy projects, and an attachment to romanticized visions of "indigenous" cultures, are merely different facets of the anti-human attitudes that dominate so much of environmentalist thought today. They are ingredients in a recipe for sustained poverty, misery, disease and premature death. They need to be resisted - not applauded or promoted - by every ethical and socially responsible CEO, politician, journalist, clergyman and citizen. For its part, the environmental movement needs to do some serious soul-searching, and began to abide by the same rules of honesty, transparency, morality, accountability - and concern for people's lives - that it demands of everyone else.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, March 24, 2005


Lately I have been reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything,' a breezy pop summary of scientific knowledge from the big bang down to us, by Bill Bryson. Published in 2003 by Broadway books, it rapidly became a bestseller, and I can see why. However well-educated you may consider yourself, it will tell you far more than you ever knew about the origins of the cosmos, the Earth, life and mankind.

For example, you may think that the ice ages that have afflicted the Earth arrived and departed gradually, over hundreds of thousands of years. But ice cores from Greenland tell a very different, very turbulent story. According to Bryson, "for most of its recent history Earth has been nothing like the stable and tranquil place that civilization has known, but rather has lurched violently between periods of warmth and brutal chill.

"Toward the end of the last big glaciation, some 12,000 years ago, Earth began to warm, and quite rapidly, but then abruptly plunged back into bitter cold for a thousand years or so. ... At the end of this thousand- year onslaught, average temperatures leapt again, by as much as seven degrees in 20 years, which doesn't sound terribly dramatic, but is equivalent to changing the climate of Scandinavia for that of the Mediterranean in just two decades.'

What most alarmed Bryson is that, with all of the current available data, ongoing research and modern technology, scientists have absolutely no idea what natural events could have rattled the planet's "thermometer' so violently.

Contrast this description of the recent history of the Earth's climate with the antics of the global-warming hysterics. They have gone into near-catatonic fits because their dubious computer models predict that the temperature of the Earth's surface will rise between 1 and 3 degrees centigrade over the next century. They are so horrified at that possibility, and at the further possibility that a fraction of that increase may be caused by human beings (notably through large discharges of carbon dioxide), that they want whole sectors of the global economy cut back to prevent this "global warming.'

Bryson has no special axe to grind in the global-warming controversy, but he does quote Elizabeth Kolbert, writing in The New Yorker magazine, as pointing out that "when you are confronting a fluctuating and unpredictable climate, 'the last thing you'd want to do is conduct a vast unsupervised experiment on it.''

People who are determined to worry about the near future of the Earth's climate would do better to concentrate on the possible collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In the past 50 years, Bryson points out, the waters around it have warmed by 2.5 degrees centigrade, and collapses have increased dramatically. Because of the underlying geology of the area, a large-scale collapse is all the more possible. If so, "sea levels globally would rise and pretty quickly by between 15 and 20 feet on average.' The only trouble is that not even the Sierra Club can bring itself to blame the warming of the Antarctic waters in the past half-century on American industry, and that takes all the fun (not to mention sense) out of demanding production cutbacks to stop it.

The simple fact is that the Earth's climate fluctuates, to a degree and owing to causes far more vast than any specified by the global-warming alarmists. We should respect that fact, and not permit these fluctuations to be tampered with by a bunch of hysterics who have no idea what they may be unloosing in the name of their cockeyed political agenda.


Animals and humans have suffered the menace of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for three long decades. During this span, over 1,300 species have been listed as threatened or endangered under the Act's guidelines. According the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ESA is responsible for recovering a mere 10 of them. That amounts to a pitiful recovery rate of less than one percent. When you take into account credible studies that show these 10 recoveries had little or nothing to do with the ESA, the "success" rate plummets to zero.

Saving zero of over 1,300 species is hard work and sacrifice under the Endangered Species Act. After all, you don't achieve a zero percent success rate without breaking a few eggs. When the Northern Spotted Owl was listed under the ESA in 1990, tens of thousands of Americans in the Pacific Northwest lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Billions of dollars were sapped from the regional economy. Private property was taken from landowners. Such is the toil and hardship associated with saving an owl that, as it turns out, isn't endangered and never needed saving.

Crucial military preparation and training operations have fallen victim to the ESA's relentless pursuit of imperfection. The Pentagon regards Camp Pendleton in Southern California as one of the best places to train U.S. marines due to its unique terrain and coastline. In fact, Camp Pendleton is the only amphibious training base on the West Coast. Alas, it is also home to the California gnatcatcher, the San Diego fairy shrimp, the tidewater goby, and more than a dozen other species listed as "endangered" or "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. As such, our men and women in uniform must tread lightly, or not at all, in certain areas that used to be their training ground-lest they find themselves subject to penalties and fines. Dodging bullets may prove easier than avoiding fairy shrimp "vernal pools," or "puddles of water" to the layman. An inadequately trained military is a small price to pay when you've got a zero-for-1,300 streak on the line. Even during a time of war.

The Endangered Species Act does not discriminate. Just ask the family and friends of the four firefighters who were killed in 2001. Federal bureaucrats fiddled while the inferno around them burned. These four heroes were fighting the infamous Thirty Mile Fire in Washington's Okanogan National Forest when the blaze bore down on them and encroached on their emergency fire shelters. Their only salvation was the nearby Chewuch River, which could supply water to helicopters for a flame-dousing airdrop. Oh, if it were only that easy.

According to the Endangered Species Act, the Chewuch was home to a several endangered fish and, therefore, ladling water from the river might, could, possibly imperil a few of the little buggers. While paper pushers back East fretted over how to satisfy the ESA's requirements, these four brave men and women were snuffed out by the deadly fire. The good news is there are plenty of humans to go around. Fish, on the other hand, well, they're abundant too. But who are we to question the supremacy of the Endangered Species Act? Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) has stated: "It is no secret the ESA has been used by extremists to restrict, seize, and devalue private property rights, as well as halt important government projects. In fact, this is what most `green' obstructionist groups relish most about the Act."

Whatever intentions were behind the ESA when it was conceived in 1973 are of little consequence. Intended results mean nothing when compared to actual results. The ESA exists solely as a land-use and power tool, whereby radical environmentalists and their allies in government can take property and force their whims on the public. As Rep. Pombo points out, "The ESA has become the pre-eminent law of the land; in its implementation, it takes precedent over all else." Included in that "all else" is common sense. The Endangered Species Act punishes property owners for fostering an environment that is suitable for species habitation. You read that right. The ESA is so backwards that it creates a perverse incentive for landowners to actually rid their property of species and habitat for fear of government confiscation of their land or property rights.

"The incentives are wrong here," notes biologist and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director Sam Hamilton. "If a rare metal is on my property, the value of my land goes up. But if a rare bird is on my property, the value of my property goes down."

Stolen property, lost jobs, shattered livelihoods, broken dreams, billions of dollars, and lost lives. This is a pretty steep price for a law that has failed to save species. Can't America do better? Isn't it time to repeal the Endangered Species Act and start over?



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005


This study could lead to some fun. The Greenies will want to ban jet aircraft now. Back to the DC3! Seriously, however, it shows yet another climate-influencing factor left out of the global warming "models" (i.e. guesswork). If a large part of the warming is due to contrails, it means that estimates of carbon dioxide involvement are seriously wrong. And that is a BASIC assertion that is wrong. It means that the Kyoto treaty is focusing on substantially the wrong thing in its (pathetic) attempt to influence climate

NASA scientists have found that cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for a warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994. "This result shows the increased cirrus coverage, attributable to air traffic, could account for nearly all of the warming observed over the United States for nearly 20 years starting in 1975, but it is important to acknowledge contrails would add to and not replace any greenhouse gas effect," said Patrick Minnis, senior research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The study was published April 15 in the Journal of Climate. "During the same period, warming occurred in many other areas where cirrus coverage decreased or remained steady," he added. "This study demonstrates that human activity has a visible and significant impact on cloud cover and, therefore, on climate. It indicates that contrails should be included in climate change scenarios," Minnis said.

Minnis determined the observed one percent per decade increase in cirrus cloud cover over the United States is likely due to air traffic-induced contrails. Using published results from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York) general circulation model, Minnis and his colleagues estimated contrails and their resulting cirrus clouds would increase surface and lower atmospheric temperatures by 0.36 to 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. Weather service data reveal surface and lower atmospheric temperatures across North America rose by almost 0.5 degree Fahrenheit per decade between 1975 and 1994.

Minnis worked with colleagues Kirk Ayers, Rabi Palinkonda, and Dung Phan from Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., of Hampton, Va. They used 25 years of global surface observations of cirrus clouds, temperature and humidity records from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis dataset. They confirmed the cirrus trends with 13 years of satellite data from NASA's International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project.

Both air traffic and cirrus coverage increased during the period of warming despite no changes in the NCEP humidity at jet cruise altitudes over the United States. By contrast, humidity at flight altitudes decreased over other land areas, such as Asia, and was accompanied by less cirrus coverage, except over Western Europe, where air traffic is very heavy.

Cirrus coverage also rose in the North Pacific and North Atlantic flight corridors. The trends in cirrus cover and warming over the United States were greatest during winter and spring, the same seasons when contrails are most frequent. These results, along with findings from earlier studies, led to the conclusion that contrails caused the increase in cirrus clouds. "This study indicates that contrails already have substantial regional effects where air traffic is heavy, such as over the United States. As air travel continues growing in other areas, the impact could become globally significant," Minnis said.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air and determines how long contrails remain in the atmosphere. Contrails that persist for an extended period of time are most likely to impact the climate.

Contrails form high in the atmosphere when the mixture of water vapor in the aircraft exhaust and the air condenses and freezes. Persisting contrails can spread into extensive cirrus clouds that tend to warm the Earth, because they reflect less sunlight than the amount of heat they trap. The balance between Earth's incoming sunlight and outgoing heat drives climate change.


(I can't help noticing that one of the researchers is a Vietnamese by the name of Dung Phan. I wonder how often he has to endure jokes about the s**t hitting the fan?)

Envirocrats and Their Wall of Fear

Greenies use irrational fear to block things that are friendly to the environment -- such as nuclear power

The coining of a new word in the English language - envirocrat - has become necessary since a vociferous minority has falsely captured the moral high ground of the environmental consciousness of the American people.

Americans, by culture and heritage, love the flora and fauna that surround their daily lives. Intelligent corrections to environmental threats have been addressed and resolved. An example is the catalytic converter. New exhaust standards introduced in 1994 have reduced pollutants from automobiles up to 97.5 percent in hydrocarbons alone and carbon monoxide by 96 percent. The U.S. General Accounting Office estimated in one 20-year period the U.S. government and private industry spent close to one trillion dollars on pollution control and continues to spend at a cost of hundreds of billions per year.

But is this ever enough in the eyes of the envirocrat? The money to solve America's pollution problems comes from one source - the free enterprise engine of the great American capitalist economy. The vociferous minority of envirocrats represents a political group with a hidden agenda. That hidden agenda is the total destruction of capitalism. Lenin and Trotsky started a system to destroy capitalism in 1917 and for 75 years it continued, eventually ending in absolute failure. The envirocrat gang is chameleon-like in nature. They are masters at color changes. Miraculously they changed from red, the traditional Marxist color, to green to match their envirocrat endeavors. Not satisfied with their own color change from red to green, they succeeded in changing the color of their political party from red to blue, with the help of a like-minded mass media, leaving Republicans with their old Marxist red. In essence, the envirocrats emerged as watermelon Marxists - green on the outside, red to the core, with a designated political party colored Republican blue.

The envirocrat's stated view of capitalism is found on website, "Toward Ecological Democracy," Page 6, Paragraph 5: "Capitalism creates a wealthy class of social parasites who make no productive contribution to society."

Any sane person who claims to be an environmentalist knows that solutions to environmental problems invariably are reduced to money. It follows, therefore, that capitalism and a safe environment go hand in hand. Nothing that capitalist America can do or spend to resolve real or perceived environmental problems will ever be acceptable to the Marxist envirocrat. They are like the man who is standing with a loaf of bread under each arm, crying he is starving to death. The envirocrat cries hysterically, "We don't want American children to breathe foul air or drink poisoned water." A noble plea, indeed, if in fact, American children were breathing foul air or drinking poisoned water. Even an idiot knows America has the safest drinking water on the planet. As for foul air, America has the cleanest atmosphere of any industrialized nation in the world. In addition, capitalist America is constantly striving and spending billions of dollars to provide further safeguards.

What have the vociferous envirocrats done to help? Better yet, what have the envirocrats done to obstruct solutions to eliminate the remaining atmospheric pollution? Their answer is emphatically to make the environment worse by burning high pollution fossil fuels for America's electrical energy. In doing so, the envirocrats have lit a flame of fear within this nation by equating atomic energy plants with the atomic bomb. This is tantamount to building a wall separating the people of America from the cleanest, safest, most efficient and cheapest method of production of electrical energy known to the mind of man. Through concerted fear mongering, envirocrats have forced America to use coal, the highest producer of pollutants and greenhouse gases of all fossil energy resources. Today, 53 percent of America's electricity is generated in coal-fired plants.

Studies at Ohio State University, conducted by Gordon J. Aubrecht, Department of Physics, determined that the amount of coal burned annually to produce electricity in America releases nearly 1,500 tons of cancer-causing uranium and over 3,500 tons of cancer-causing thorium, resulting in 50 fatalities, 120,000 cases of respiratory ailments, tens of millions of dollars in property damage, plus the emission of nitrous oxide equivalent to 40,000 cars per year.

Oddly enough, the claimed wants of the envirocrats are the same as honest American environmentalists. Their wants are: (1) air free of radiation, (2) air free of carbon dioxide, (3) air free of nitrous oxide, (4) air free of carbon monoxide, and (5) decreased respiratory diseases and deaths caused by all the above. The envirocrats say that's what they want, but in reality they obstruct all efforts to solve the pollution problem. What the nation needs at this point is atomic energy. Atomic energy answers the claimed wants of the extremist envirocrats.

Atomic energy, when correctly managed as it has been in the U.S. for generations, releases no radiation. In 55 years, only one accident in the whole world released radiation; Chernobyl, Ukraine, where 31 lives were lost. Radiation sickness affected many more, but nowhere near the numbers that hysterical envirocrats" claim. Compare this to the tens of thousands of lives lost around the world just in the processing and transporting of fossil fuels; losses in coal mine; oil field and gas line explosions; and the environmental damage caused by 1.5 billion gallons of crude oil dumped in the ocean. This is what the envirocrats have forced on the American public with their blunt denial of the use of atomic power. The wall of fear needlessly built by the envirocrats must be torn down.



Green propaganda is now so pervasive in the media and public debate it has become part of the cultural background. Extraordinary errors and misrepresentations, on subjects such as global warming and native vegetation clearing, are regularly published without comment. Here's a story about just how hard it is to defend the truth against the Green spirit of our times.

On February 16, 2004 ABC TV's Four Corners aired a program about the Tasmanian timber industry. It is possibly the most biased Australian television program ever put to air. Called Lords of the Forest, its faults included a map that dramatically under-represented the amount of forest preserved in Tasmania, unsubstantiated allegations of criminal activity, the smearing of pro-logging speakers who appeared on the program, and emotive language. This included the following phrases: mushroom clouds, scorched-earth policy, an aggressive forest policy, a voracious appetite for timber, overwhelming devastation, absolute assault on the landscape and the senses, and corruption and cronyism.

Timber pays the wages of about 10,000 people in Tasmania. Many of them, their families and their supporters were appalled that the ABC could produce a program that treated their way of life with such contempt. But that was only the beginning.

Timber Communities Australia (TCA) is a volunteer organisation with a professional secretariat funded by the industry. It complained to the ABC about Lords of the Forests. Following an internal review, Geoffrey Crawford, director of corporate affairs, told TCA the corporation "cannot agree with your view that the program was unfair and impartial". All it would concede was that the map had been "oversimplified" and two other, minor, errors of fact. The ABC put a corrected map on its website but refused a request from TCA to correct any errors on air.

TCA and Forestry Tasmania, the state agency that manages public forests, then appealed to the Independent Complaints Review Tribunal. In stark contrast to the ABC's internal review, this one found, last December, "instances of serious bias, lack of balance and unfair treatment [the program] frequently casts doubt on the credibility of the 'Lords' and their supporters, but scarcely ever subjects their opponents to the same treatment". A complaint about the map was also upheld by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which found last month that the program had breached the ABC code of practice and had "failed to present factual material accurately".

TCA again asked the ABC for an on-air correction, and was again refused. Apart from a short press release, the ABC did nothing in response to the independent findings. Its response can be compared with that of the British Broadcasting Corporation, which in 2002 also broadcast a biased and ignorant attack on the Tasmanian timber industry. In that case Britain's Broadcasting Standards Commission not only found against the program, it was able to order the BBC to run a summary of its finding on air after each of four subsequent programs, and publish a half-page summary near the front of The Times newspaper on June 2, 2003.

Strange to relate, while the Australian inquiries were under way, Lords of the Forest was one of a group of three programs from Four Corners that won the prestigious 2004 Australian Government Peter Hunt Eureka Prize of $10,000 for outstanding science communication. Following the damning findings of the two independent review organisations, last month TCA asked the Australian Museum, which administers the prizes, to have the decision reconsidered. The judges met and decided not to withdraw the prize, saying in a written statement that the factual inaccuracies upheld by the Independent Complaints Review Tribunal (including the map) were "relatively minor" and they did not believe the wording used in the program was unusually emotive.

This decision was supported in letters to Barry Chipman, Tasmanian state co-ordinator of TCA, by the museum's director Frank Howarth, and Brian Sherman, the president of the museum trust. Sherman wrote that "your suggestion that the museum overturn the reconsidered decision of a judging panel would, I believe, compromise the independence of the judging process and not be in the best interest of the integrity of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes".

Following the ABA finding last month, Senator Ian Campbell, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, intervened. He said he "was concerned that this prestigious award, sponsored by my department, has been given to a story that might not have met the highest standards of journalism". After writing to Sherman about the affair, Campbell added a member to the panel of judges: Professor Bob Carter, of James Cook University, an environmental scientist specialising in climate change. Campbell also demanded to see the criteria used for awarding the prize.

In December, Gunns Limited, the big Tasmanian timber company, launched a writ against 20 environmental activists and organisations - an action widely supported by the 10,000 people who live off timber, and their families and their union. To find the motivation behind the writ you need look no further than the frustration and bitterness created by years of media bias, typified by Lords of the Forest. The Tasmanians feel they have been betrayed by revered national institutions such as the ABC and the Australian Museum.

Anyone concerned by the left's domination of cultural institutions in this country will be further depressed by the sad example of this program, the cover-up afterwards, and the lack of interest in the whole sordid affair from the media.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Wisconsin is considering allowing the hunting of cats. Not cougars or mountain lions or tigers on the loose but putty-tats: Sylvester the cat. Morris the cat. Garfield. The aim is to prevent the mass-killing of birds by cats, mostly of the feral - i.e., wild - variety. In other words, some people want to give granny a shotgun so she can kill Sylvester before he gets Tweety Bird. ...

Let's start with the big picture. If you know anything about American environmentalism, you know that Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring," is a secular saint. Time magazine named her one of the "100 People of the Century." In 1992 a highfalutin panel of distinguished experts named "Silent Spring" as the most influential book of the last half-century. "More than any other (book), it changed the way Americans, and people around the world, looked at the reckless way we live on this planet," writes Philip Shabecoff in "A Fierce Green Fire," his history of U.S. environmentalism. As the name suggests, the thesis of "Silent Spring" was that the birds were dying from the ravages of DDT and other pesticides. The chemical was found to thin the eggshells of some species of birds, most notably eagles and falcons - which, a pedant might add, are not particularly known for their contributions to melodious springs.....

Well, the inconvenient truth is that cats kill more American birds, particularly songbirds, than DDT and pesticides ever did. Wisconsin is considering allowing residents to shoot feral cats in part because a respected study found that felines kill between 7.8 million and 217 million birds in Wisconsin alone. Data from a Michigan study suggest that some 75 million birds are killed there just in the summer alone.

Cat defenders say that this is all bogus. If cats didn't slaughter the birds, natural predators would. Maybe, but they are, uh, natural predators, and nature's a big deal for environmentalists, right? Or have I been reading the wrong magazines? They also claim that losing habitat to development is a bigger threat than cats. OK, but even if that were true in some places, why should that get cats off the hook?

This raises an important insight into what is really going on here. The objection to DDT and pesticides has a great deal to do with the fear of technology and material "progress." For example, Carson's memory is still invoked regularly by the anti-pesticide movement today. Anti-pesticide activists claim that some 67 million birds die every year from such chemicals. In other words, compounds that make food cheaper and more abundant for everybody kill between 10 and 20 percent of the number of birds killed by cats every year. And yet, environmentalists are terrified of making cats a major issue, because it will split the movement. An official at the World Wildlife Fund calls the cat issue a "third rail" for environmentalists.

More here

BOOK REVIEW: State of Fear, by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins, 603 pp., $27.95)


If you want to see what an apoplectic fit looks like in print, check out Michiko Kakutani's review/denunciation in the New York Times of State of Fear, the latest book from Michael Crichton. Crichton is the author of Jurassic Park, Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain, and much more (or, in the case of Prey, less); in State of Fear he dares to challenge the numbskull pieties of "global warming" and that has made Michiko very mad indeed. State of Fear is, she writes, "shrill," "preposterous," and, horror of horrors, "right-wing." So many angry, foam-flecked adjectives jostle for attention in the text of Kakutani's padded-cell philippic (I'd use the words "shrill" and "preposterous," but she got there first) that the fastidious will want to mop the page for spittle before reading.

Crichton's book is, she sneers, "ham-handed"; the plot of this "sorry excuse for a thriller" is "ludicrous," its disquisitions "talky," its facts "cherry-picked," its assertions "dogmatic," and its efforts to make a case "lumbering." Still, at least she spared Crichton contemporary culture's most fashionable insult, that irrevocably staining mark of Cain, that deepest red of all scarlet letters, that other N-word. The Los Angeles Times does not; according to its reviewer, Crichton has written "the first neo-con novel." Ouch.

At this point, wiser, calmer readers will suspect that a book that attracts that sort of condemnation in the pages of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (reassuringly, The New Yorker didn't like it either) must be really, really good. The wiser, calmer readers will be right. It is.

Crichton has, unsurprisingly, chosen to incorporate his message into the medium he knows best, the thriller, but what is surprising is that this latest effort is packed with graphs, scientific discussion, footnotes, a manifesto, and an extensive bibliography: not usually the stuff of popular fiction. And, remarkably, the whole package - all 600 pages of it - succeeds. State of Fear is a good, solid, exciting read, and if the writing is occasionally wooden, it is so in the finest, somewhat flat tradition of Ludlum, Turow, and the other bards of the airport bookstore.

State of Fear is a didactic work, but its author has not neglected the conventions of his genre: Men are men, women are hot (it's the planet that's not), and deaths are excruciating. Bullets fly, cars crash, poisonous octopi do their worst, hideous catastrophe looms, and, the last surviving fans of the late H. Rider Haggard will be delighted to know, cannibals make an appearance. Cannibals! And not effete Lecters either, but real honest-to-goodness, traditional missionary-in-the-pot anthropophagi, who know that fresh flesh needs neither sips of Chianti nor fava-bean frippery to make it something truly tasty.

But all those daunting graphs and lurking footnotes are a reminder that, populist format or not, Crichton is making a serious point about the dead and dangerous end that modern "environmentalism" has reached. In the hands of contemporary Greens, it no longer has much to do with brains, or, at least, reason. Protecting our planet has, he argues, degenerated into a religion - a matter of faith, not science.

The frenzied response to State of Fear proves his point. Crichton's arguments have not been treated as a contribution to a legitimate debate, but as blasphemy. Yet if this is an urgent, insistent, sometimes overstated book, it's because Crichton cares so much about the environment, not so little. Who with any brains does not?

Yes, Crichton raises the rhetorical stakes very high, but the real stakes are even higher. If the prescriptions of the Kyoto Treaty are followed, the cost could run into hundreds of billions of dollars a year, a cost that, if history is any indication, will be disproportionately borne by the world's poor. Under the circumstances, the science that backs it had better be rock solid. Crichton argues that it is not.

To take just a sample of the intriguing data that turn up in this book, the melting of Antarctica is confined to just one relatively small peninsula. The continent as a whole is getting colder, its ice thicker. At the other end of the planet, Greenland too is chilling up, while here at home, the temperature in the United States is roughly where it was in the 1930s, there has been no increase in extreme weather, and changes in upper-atmospheric temperature have been far smaller than most global-warming models would suggest.

Those are some cherries, Ms. Kakutani.

In her disdain for inconvenient, ornery facts, however, Kakutani is sadly typical. While there are those in the Kyoto crowd who have genuine, and carefully thought-through, scientific concern about the fate of the Earth, the motivation of the many who shout so loudly and so dogmatically about the perils of global warming frequently owes less to logic than to neurosis, misplaced religious faith, and, often, the characteristic dishonesty of a Left looking for yet another stick with which to beat both Western civilization and those wicked, dirty capitalists.

And then there's something else: greed. One of the more entertaining aspects of Crichton's tale is that the clever, conniving, white-collar villains, regular thriller fare of course, are not the standard corporate swine. No, in this book they are environmentalists acting from exactly the sort of motives more usually attributed to the bad boys from the boardroom than to the saints from the NGOs. In State of Fear, the Gekkos are Green. They are caricatures, but Crichton is making a fair point: Big Environment is a big, big business, "a great fundraising and media machine - a multi-billion industry in its own right - with its own private agenda that's not necessarily in the public interest," and like any big business it comes complete with temptations, timeservers, fat paychecks, fatter payrolls, and a legion of lawyers trying to make a fast buck.

This combination of false gods and real mammon has replaced the hard science of global warming with scaremongering, publicity stunts (both have a key part to play in State of Fear), and relentless pressure, political and otherwise, to sign up for the new orthodoxy. The problem for its believers, however, is that it's an orthodoxy that the facts do not support. In reality, the facts, such as they are, do not support any orthodoxy. There aren't enough of them, and those that exist often appear to contradict one another. The hard science of global warming is, as Crichton explains, well, hard; the data are far from reliable, and there are so many variables that, even for today's computers, the value of most climate-prediction models lies somewhere between a bookie's tip and a crystal ball.

Crichton has his own theories as to what is going on (very roughly: mild warming, possibly purely natural, perhaps associated with the heat islands of urban development, or maybe both), but he is at pains to describe these as guesses, a humility that would be equally welcome among those who would base their highly interventionist environmental policy on little more than hysteria and a hunch - something, I suspect, that helps explain their reluctance to see their version of the truth subjected to serious intellectual criticism.

For matters to improve, Joe Friday science, freed from agendas, has to return to the center of the investigation of global warming. How mankind responds to those facts, once discovered, is a legitimate topic for political controversy and debate. Trying to establish what they are should not be. If Michael Crichton can push thinking even a little way in this direction, he will have written a very good book indeed.

(I believe that this review appeared in "National Review" but cannot find it online)

Michael Crichton on science policy: "Considering that we are a society deeply dependent on information, Crichton is surprised that we are slow to think of information as a 'product;' he foresees product-liability lawsuits in the near future concerning flawed information. 'How do we set policy in uncertainty?' He cited the example of the recent tightening of the 'safe' level of arsenic, despite the absence of decisive evidence that the new standards will bring about a significant improvement in public health. He recommends tying policy to research; in the case of arsenic, establishing very long-term studies at costs that would be a fraction of the costs of implementing the proposed, un-tested standards."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.