Sunday, July 15, 2007


It is however an outcome that the haters in the Greenie movement would greet with glee

The next time Democratic leaders lament the decline of American industry, please refer them to the current Congressional brawl over auto fuel-efficiency standards. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and most of their colleagues are siding with upscale environmental lobbies over American carmakers and workers. Call it their Drive-a-Toyota Act.

Foreign automakers were cheering in June when Senate Democrats muscled through energy legislation to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, requiring that automaker fleets hit an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 (up from today's 27.5 mpg). GM, Ford and Chrysler all warned Congress that this would add to their financial burdens, making their vehicles even less competitive with those made by Toyota, Honda and other automakers.

The United Auto Workers warned that even a small mileage increase could cost more than 65,000 jobs. Yet Senate Majority Leader Reid's response was to scold Detroit for opposing him, and to assert that if the U.S. carmakers had only signed onto CAFE sooner they wouldn't be in their current predicament. Had they "joined us instead of fighting us these last 20 years [over CAFE standards], they might not be in the financial mess they're in today," he said. His apparent point is that if only GM and Ford had invested in new technology and smaller cars the way Toyota and Honda have, they wouldn't be losing market share.

This is a bizarre reading of recent automobile history. Detroit has made its share of mistakes, but refusing to compete with smaller, more fuel-efficient cars isn't one of them. GM tried and failed with its Saturn project. And one reason for that failure is that the main competitive reality facing Detroit for a generation has been the burden of its worker pension and health care costs. The consensus is that those costs add about $1,500 per vehicle compared to Japanese or Korean competitors. The best way to recoup those costs is by making larger vehicles that earn more profit per sale than smaller cars do. Making trucks (protected by a 25% U.S. tariff) and SUVs was entirely rational, and failing to do so would have meant more financial trouble earlier.

Mr. Reid also forgets that, until this decade's surging gasoline prices, those larger, U.S.-made cars were what Americans wanted to buy. The Ford Explorer SUV was a huge consumer hit. With gas prices as low as 90 cents a gallon during the 1990s, U.S. drivers preferred the safety and power of SUVs, pickups and large sedans. We don't recall Bill Clinton proposing a 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax to spur gas conservation, or for that matter lecturing Detroit to stop making those vehicles.

Amid today's much higher gas prices, more Americans are choosing more fuel-efficient cars -- a market phenomenon that will do far more to reduce fuel consumption than any Washington mandate. As most economists understand, mileage mandates are an inefficient way to limit fuel use. They don't reduce the number of cars on the road, and owning a car that gets more miles to the gallon often encourages people to drive more miles. If Mr. Reid truly cared about cutting gas consumption, he and his party would increase the gas tax. But voters are already steamed about $3-a-gallon gas, and Mr. Reid's commitment to lower carbon consumption doesn't go as far as the personal sacrifice of losing Democratic Senate seats.

CAFE is a way to appease the green lobby immediately, while taxing Detroit, its workers and American consumers indirectly but significantly over time. Technology exists to further increase fuel efficiency, but that technology costs money. The Big Three will have to pass those costs along to consumers, which will make their products less competitive, while yielding a smaller profit margin on those they do sell. Ford lost $12.7 billion last year as it is.

One Democrat who understands all this is Michigan's John Dingell, the House Energy and Commerce Chairman who has so far refused to include sweeping new fuel-efficiency standards in his energy bill. He prefers the more modest, flexible standards favored by the Bush Administration and U.S. carmakers. Ms. Pelosi has refused to budge from her plan to pass standards like the Senate's, however. And so the House CAFE showdown has been postponed until the fall -- or until enough Democrats and wealthy Sierra Club donors can beat Mr. Dingell into submission.

Journalists and greens are starting to highlight this debate as a test of Ms. Pelosi's political manhood, saying she needs to show the venerable Mr. Dingell who's boss. But it's more accurate to say this debate is a test of who has more clout in today's Democratic Congress -- the men and women who work in American factories, or the affluent greens on both coasts who can afford to pay a premium to own a Prius to indulge their concern about global warming.


That good ol' public transport the Greenies love (for others; not for themselves)

Quadriplegic left on an Australian government-run train after a breakdown. Nobody gave a stuff. Only his cellphone saved him -- with the assistance of voluntary workers. Despite much notification, at no time did any government worker lift a finger to assist him

A QUADRIPLEGIC left stranded on a train for four hours without essential medication was told by CityRail staff he would be assisted in "two or three days". Wheelchair-bound Mark McCauley suffered the humiliation of eventually being removed by construction workers using a forklift during the first Harbour Bridge train fiasco. Quadriplegic and paraplegic advocates yesterday blasted CityRail for the shameful - and potentially life-threatening - treatment of Mr McCauley, a senior lecturer at the College of Law in St Leonards.

An internal investigation report, revealed by The Daily Telegraph yesterday, found CityRail has absolutely no procedures for the care of disabled passengers in emergencies. All other passengers in the March 14 incident were evacuated three hours earlier, leaving Mr McCauley alone without any advice about when he would be rescued.

"I started to get agitated because no one seemed to know I was stuck on the train and it was getting towards the time when I need my medication," Mr McCauley told The Saturday Daily Telegraph. "I rang CityRail and told the lady I was stuck . . . and at the end of the conversation she said 'That's fine sir, somebody will get back to you in two or three days'. "I said 'Don't bother I'll be dead by then.' It was like she was a robot."

Mr McCauley then called triple-0 and asked police to intervene. They arranged to have another CityRail manager call him back just before 8pm. "She said we can't get you off the train until we restore power - it could be in the early hours of the morning. I said to her 'I'm a quadriplegic do you know what that means?' She said yes but she clearly didn't."

It took construction workers at North Sydney station to volunteer to use a forklift to take Mr McCauley off the train just before 10pm - more than four hours after he boarded for the 15 minute journey to the city.

Mr McCauley said four letters to Premier Morris Iemma and Transport Minister John Watkins went unanswered. CityRail posted him two one-day free rail passes, which he described as a slap in the face.

Reeling from a week of rail shame, a contrite Mr Watkins last night said CityRail's treatment of Mr McCauley was "completely unacceptable". "I'm disappointed we have not responded more formally to him and I will certainly write to him detailing the outcomes in the final report and the steps the Government is taking to prevent it happening again," he said.

The Quadriplegic and Paraplegic Association of NSW last night demanded CityRail develop protocols to rescue people with mobility aids and other disabilities. "What would they do in the event of a terrorist attack?," ParaQuad chief executive Max Bosotti said last night.


Shock! Cars are "greener" than trains

From Britain: Amusing that British trains weigh twice as much as Japanese trains! What a lot of oiks the Brits have become under the influence of socialism and its related pathologies!

It can be greener to drive than catch the train, according to a rail industry study which reveals that trains are losing their environmental advantage. Modern diesel-powered trains are so polluting that a family of three or more would be responsible for at least double the carbon dioxide emissions on many routes when travelling by rail compared with driving in a typical medium-sized car. The study concludes that the Virgin Voyager, the most advanced diesel train on the network, has the highest emissions of any British train and that its performance compared with cars is steadily worsening as motor manufacturers improve efficiency.

The study, commissioned by the Rail Safety and Standards Board, urges the Government to electrify key sections of the rail network to allow greener electric trains to replace diesel ones. On several long-distance routes, such as London to Hull, diesel trains run long distances under electric wires because short stretches of track have not been electrified.

Only 40 per of Britain's rail network is electrified, the lowest proportion of any large European country. The best-performing electric trains are operated by GNER between London and Edinburgh and emit only 40g of CO2 per passenger-kilometre (g/pkm) compared with 112g/pkm for Voyagers. By 2022, more efficient power generation will have reduced the emissions of the GNER trains to 28g/pkm. But the emissions of the Voyagers, which are only five years old and are due to remain in service until after 2030, will be unchanged. On present trends, emissions from the average car will have been reduced from 131g/pkm to 98g/pkm by 2022. The numbers are based on the existing average passenger loads on cars and trains. Cars carry an average of 1.6 people and, across the whole day, a third of train seats are occupied.

The study says: "As the efficiency of cars progressively increases, the difference in emissions between cars and high-performance trains will narrow and it will be increasingly difficult to make an environmental case for transferring people on to diesel-powered railways." Its author, Roger Kemp, Professor of Engineering at Lancaster University, said that the Government should focus on attracting business travellers, rather than families, to rail. "It's not politically correct to say so, but the Government is better off encouraging families into low-emission cars and getting business people, who tend to travel alone in large cars, to catch the train."

Professor Kemp said that he was sceptical about the experimental running of trains on biodiesel, made from plants. "I'm very doubtful of the claims made for biofuels because the overall CO2 can be even greater once you take into account what is emitted in production." He said that modern trains tended to be less efficient than older ones because they were much heavier. Safety regulations have added to the weight by requiring more robust bodies and crumple zones. New trains also carry more equipment, such as air-conditioning and motors for sliding doors, and have space-consuming lavatories for disabled passengers. Britain's long-distance trains typically weigh more than a tonne per seat. By contrast, Japan's bullet trains weigh only 500kg per seat as they are made using lighter, more advanced materials.

The Government is expected to address the environmental challenge facing the railways in a 30-year strategy being published this month. Ministers have already admitted that some trains on rural lines, such as the diesel Sprinter, are less efficient than 4x4s because they are often almost empty. Douglas Alexander, when he was Transport Secretary, said last year: "If ten or fewer people travel in a Sprinter, it would be less environmentally damaging to give them each a Land Rover Freelander and tell them to drive." An official at the Department for Transport said that the strategy would not set specific targets on electrifying more of the network because of uncertainty over how much electricity would be generated in future from low-emission sources. Some companies which operate electric trains, such as Virgin West Coast and C2C, carry systems that allow them to capture and reuse the energy usually lost during braking.


Double standard for global warming skeptics and believers

Thanks mainly to sensation-mongering media, global warming is the modern version of a State religion. The editorial below from "The Australian" pushes for more balance

AMONG all the arguments unleashed in the Thursday night ABC TV debate about Martin Durkin's documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, it was left to journalist Michael Duffy to query the way Durkin was being dealt with. Why, Duffy asked the debate's moderator, Lateline host Tony Jones, was Durkin's argument being held to a higher scholarly standard than Al Gore's global warming documentary? And why was Durkin's argument being eviscerated when one of the academic architects of the global warming orthodoxy, Nicholas Stern, got a much less critical reception on Lateline last March?

Fair questions both. They illustrate one of the greatest dangers in the debate - that accepting humanity plays a part in the way the planet is warming is no longer enough. It is now an article of popular faith that the worse-case scenarios are always right.

Thus professor Tim Flannery gets an uncritical go in much of the media when he warns the weather is going to get worse unless we heed his advice and cut back on coal. In September 2005, he told Lateline there was a clear link between Caribbean hurricanes - including Katrina, which had just flattened New Orleans - and global warming. Except there isn't, according to Swedish scientists who reported last month that Katrina was unexceptional. Professor Flannery had another go in February, disputing the International Panel on Climate Change's estimate that global warming would increase the sea level by 0.6m by the end of the century. Instead, he told Lateline two years of data demonstrated all the Artic's ice could melt in five years. And he has spoken of sea level rises of 80m - 160 times the IPCC's consensus on a maximum figure - by 2100.

None of this is good enough. As American oceanographer Carl Wunsch put it on Thursday night, "it is very important for the science community to try to retain its credibility by not exaggerating what the science says''. Or as another American, the second president of the US, John Adams, put it: "Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.''


Global Warming's Trillion Dollar Giveaway

Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced this week their "Low Carbon Economy Act" (LCEA) intended to combat global warming. The bill ought to be called the "The Trillion Dollar Giveaway and Wealth Redistribution Act." The LCEA's ostensible goals are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 2006 levels by 2020; to 1990 levels by 2030; and by more than 60 percent from today's levels by 2050. These goals are to be accomplished not by directly mandating reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Rather, the LCEA would compel larger GHG emitters - e.g., petroleum refineries, natural gas processing plants, liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities, oil and gas importers, and large coal-burning facilities - to pay for the right to emit GHGs.

The lack of a mandate to reduce GHGs emissions means that they could actually increase under the LCEA, as long as emitters are willing to pay to do so. The LCEA is 130 pages in length and quite complex. So while it will take considerably more time to do a thorough analysis, the bill does have one notable feature that screams for immediate attention - its giveaway of more than one trillion dollars to special interests in its first 10 years.

Under the LCEA, the federal government would annually issue rights or "allowances" to emit GHGs. In the first year of the bill, slated as 2012, allowances would be issued for approximately 6.65 billion metric tons of GHGs. The amount of allowances slightly decreases every year - for example, 6.59 billion metric tons in 2013, 6.53 billion metric tons in 2014, etc. - until it finally levels out at 4.82 billion metric tons in 2030 and beyond. These allowances have monetary value - a lot.

Owners of allowances can either use them to pay for their GHG emissions or they can sell them to other emitters who need allowances. Emitters can also simply pay the federal government directly to emit GHGs at a cost of $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide starting in 2012. This price is slated to increase annually by the inflation rate plus 5 percent. By 2030 - and unrealistically assuming that no inflation occurs - the pay-to-emit price would be about $27.50 per metric ton of carbon dioxide.

Using the pay-to-emit price, the GHG emissions allowances issued by the federal government in 2012 will have a potential market value of $80 billion. The annual market value of these government-issued allowances will rise to over $100 billion by 2018 and hit $130 billion in 2030. It will only take about 10 years - exclusive of any inflation - for value of the allowances issued by the government to exceed $1 trillion.

And incredible as it sounds, the bulk of these allowances - 76 percent for the first five years, declining to 47 percent by 2030 - will be given away at no charge to special interests including private industry, farmers and states. This global warming giveaway works out to a total of $1.34 trillion of free money - not adjusted for inflation - that would be handed out to global warming special interests from 2012-2030. After 2030, the annual amount of free money handed out is about $65 billion, increasing by 5 percent per year, exclusive of inflation.

But the great global warming giveaway is only part of the story.Allowances that aren't given away - for example, 24 percent of allowances issued from 2012 to 2017 - will be auctioned by the government to GHG emitters ineligible for the giveaway. There can be no doubt that the purchasers of the auctioned allowances will simply pass along their higher costs to consumers in the form of higher prices for all goods and services that involve the energy use - in other words, just about everything.

LCEA supporters might argue that, between the auctioned allowances and direct payments for the right to emit GHGs, the federal government will recoup some of the value of the allowances given away for free. Another way to look at that recoupment is as a redistribution of wealth from consumers to those select entities eligible for the allowances.

Keep in mind that even if GHG emissions are lowered as per the LCEA, there will most likely be no discernible impact on climate. In the first place, adding more GHGs to the atmosphere has little, if any, climactic impact since there's already far more GHGs in the atmosphere than there is energy emitted by the Earth available to be absorbed by them. (Suggested link is )

And if you ignore that atmospheric reality, then perhaps you'll note that the neither the LCEA nor any other law that Congress can pass is likely to force China, India, Brazil, Mexico and other developing nations from more than making up for the GHGs that the U.S. may reduce in the future. China just recently passed the U.S. in terms of GHG emissions and has publicly stated that it doesn't intend to harm its economy by reducing its GHG emissions in the future.

In the end, the LCEA and its ilk will only have created a permanently, well-funded global warming industry that will never go away, regardless of scientific or climactic developments. Just imagine how politically powerful this industry could become - it already has our government, economy and personal liberties by the throat, even in its infancy.

If Congress is determined to pass legislation like the LCEA, then let's at least entertain a more balanced scenario. Rather than distributing valuable allowances for free to select special interests, allowances ought to be distributed on a more democratic basis - an equal share, say, to every taxpayer. Taxpayers could then sell their allowances to emitters in the open market and recoup some of the higher costs imposed by the LCEA. Since the environment belongs to everyone, let everyone profit from global warming hysteria.



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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: