Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Tuesday is Earth Day, the calendar's High Holy Day of Green theology. With each passing year, environmentalism more clearly assumes the trappings of a secular religion. Now, along comes Iain Murray to assert that the Green God is dead. Murray's new book, "The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About - Because They Helped Cause Them", clarifies the difference between caring for the environment - a reasonable and virtuous belief that people rightly harbor - and the modern-day movement known as environmentalism.

The latter, Murray notes, has amassed a shameful legacy over a half century that has killed millions of people and consigned billions of others to backbreaking poverty. "Environmentalism deserves to be as discredited as Marxism," Murray argues. His book does a superb job of doing just that.

Murray, an energy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, lives a low-carbon lifestyle. He loves nature and the outdoors. He's practically a tree-hugger. Nevertheless, he makes clear, "I am not an environmentalist." Why? Because, as he explains, environmentalism has become a socio-political movement exploiting people's genuine regard for nature as a smokescreen for expanding government and exercising power. And the results have been disastrous for both humanity and the environment.

Murray chronicles seven environmental catastrophes, and shows the hand of the professional environmental movement in each one.

Thanks to the efforts of Green patron saint Rachel Carson, environmentalists have succeeded in curbing the use of DDT, which, Murray writes, is "highly effective in controlling malaria and thereby lifting millions out of poverty." While it's unclear if banning the pesticide has had much in the way of environmental benefits, it has been unquestionably harmful to humankind. Unchecked malaria has killed tens of millions of people, particularly in Africa, and continues to cost people their lives each year. "In 2005 alone, across Uganda, 50,000 children died from malaria," Murray notes. "That is the true Silent Spring."

The current biofuel craze is another case in point. Greens have long favored government mandates to convert corn into motor fuel. They claim this will cut into our supposed addiction to oil, while minimizing harmful greenhouse gas emissions from our tailpipes. The Greens got their wish, and in recent years Congress has ordered billions of gallons of ethanol to be introduced into our fuel supply. European nations have passed similar biofuel mandates to fight global warming.

The result, by almost any account, has been a fiasco. Pouring corn into our gas tanks has led to a spike in food prices worldwide. Those high prices have caused food shortages and even riots in other countries (several in just the last month). While people starve, biofuels are creating an environmental disaster as well. In places like Indonesia, forestland is being cleared at alarming rates in order to plant palm oil crops and cash in on the artificial demand for biofuels. The result is a holocaust for many endangered animals. "The orangutan is being crucified on a cross of green," Murray notes.

Murray also has the number of environmentalists who demand higher automobile fuel efficiency mandates. These government standards have meant smaller, lighter, less crashworthy vehicles. "The tradeoff the liberal environmentalists demand is actually safety for gas mileage. In other words, blood for oil."

At bottom, Murray notes, the environmental movement is rooted not in a concern for the environment, but in a disdain for personal freedom and free-enterprise capitalism. Humanity is the disease plaguing the planet. The antidote must be environmental policies enforced by government diktat, relying on mandates, bans, orders, restrictions and punishments to achieve its goals. The better answer is conservation by private stewards, individuals and corporations, who understand caring for the environment is important, while making choices that are actually logical - and sustainable.

Put in such stark terms the choice isn't that difficult, Murray notes. "Marxism brought us the Gulags. The worst that most commentators can say about free enterprise these days is that it brought us McDonalds."


Atmospheric physicist says CO2 temp link is 'belief based upon emotion'?

A letter from Brian Valentine of Arlington, U.S.A. published in the Prague Post on April 4, 2008

Thanks to President Vaclav Klaus for delivering the message to the U.S. Congress ("Be afraid," Opinion, March 28-April 3). The U.S. government needs to hear the consequences of heeding to the demands of a few who would like to demolish free-market economies and replace them with a system that was failed from the start.

Leninism forced poverty upon the majority of people of a number of formerly prosperous countries in the name of sacrifice for the "state." Leninism was nothing more than a system of favoritism, and the same is true in the parallel case - only the consequences of demands made by "environmentalists" will be more severe for those least able to withstand the economic burdens.

I am an atmospheric physicist and state flatly: A perceived connection between carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel combustion and climate variation is nothing more than a belief based upon emotion alone because there is no mechanism by which such climate variation can occur, and, if you heard otherwise, you have heard it wrong.

Faith-based Oklahoma forecast

In response to the article below, atmospheric physicist Brian Valentine asks: "Drought? What drought? Show me a spot on the Earth affected by any drought of any kind or any duration that is even comparable to any drought the place experienced within a KNOWN history of it. Any place, any place at all, show me, I want to know where it is, and then I will listen"

Weather in Oklahoma always has been a roller coaster - droughts and floods, tornadoes and calm. In the past year, it has become increasingly clear to scientists that future weather patterns will trend even farther toward the extremes. The culprit: climate change. The prediction: more droughts, longer droughts, scarce water, more wildfires and severe weather.

Oklahoma weather is known for its volatility and for good reason. "We kind of get it all," said Derek Arndt, assistant state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The forecast for this year is still inconclusive, Arndt said, citing federal forecasting information. The end of the year might be warmer than normal, but, he said, that's still a long way away.

The weather here is so tumultuous because of the geography of the region. Oklahoma sits in the middle latitudes, where warm air from the south collides with polar air from the north. On a smaller scale, Oklahoma is also surrounded by weather-changing features, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. "We are in this kind of three-way do-si-do," Arndt said. "Warm, moist air to our southeast, warm dry air to our southwest and cold air lurking somewhere up north." The result is warm summers, cool winters, hail and tornados.

The weather situation will be affected by global climate change, Arndt said, though the exact effects won't be easily noticed. The effects are cumulative, he said, so the weather must be closely monitored for long-term changes. "I don't think we'll be able to point at any single event and say, `Ah-ha. That's it,'" he said. "Over the long run, (we will) start to see maybe warming winters, which we've already seen."

In addition to global warming, the climate changes naturally with events such as a change in the output of the sun, according to the report. Oklahoma experienced long-term drought in the 1910s, 1930s and 1950s; periods of abundant rain occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.....


Growing up green: Youngsters are pressuring parents to make not-so-easy lifestyle changes to conserve the environment

Article excerpt followed by a comment from Brian Valentine:

Marika Martin is a vegetarian. So is her husband, Charles Gonzalez, who rides his bicycle to work every day in New York City traffic, rain or shine. The couple care deeply about the environment, but if you ask their kids, 12-yearold Sinika and 8-year-old Soren, it's sometimes not deeply enough. "My hopeless mother is obsessed with plastic bags," said Soren, a third-grader and huge fan of Al Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." "A lot of plastic can't be recycled," chimed in his sister, who's in seventh grade. "The turtles can get suffocated and it can go into the water. My dad gave her a cloth bag but she doesn't use it. Plastic drives me nuts."

Say hello to Generation Green. They're young, well-researched and mad as heck - inspired by an outpouring of movies, TV shows, books, Web sites and "green classes" at school. They've been learning how to save the planet since they were toddlers, and they're taking on their parents to do more, do better.

While some parents fret that the pop culture tidal wave amounts to environmental indoctrination, others are looking for ways to accommodate their kids - and compromise when the price tag or the convenience factor come into play. "I get it, I get it, I'm a bag lady," Martin said of her plastic-wrapped groceries. "But I'm always doing spontaneous shopping so it's hard. It isn't always feasible. Of course it's making me feel guilty. I know I shouldn't use them, but in everyday living it's hard."

Tiffany Bluemle in Burlington, Vt., knows exactly how she feels. She and her partner, Elizabeth Shayne, drive an environmentally friendly hybrid and live a generally green lifestyle. When their 8-year-old son, Will, wanted a global warming birthday party last year, they treated him to a cake decorated as Earth, a bike-repair workshop for his guests and a pinata in the shape of a gas-guzzling Hummer that partygoers beat to the ground. "He's adamant that I drive 55, but I'm naturally a speedster," Bluemle said. "We have a bumper sticker on the car saying `55 slows down global warming.' It's killing me."

Will has begged his parents to buy a new dishwasher to cut down on energy use. He imagines redesigning their house with solar and wind power and a pass-through of used kitchen-sink water to flush toilets. Earth, he said, "is a lot of animals' home. If a lot of animals become extinct it would be hard for us to live." Bluemle shares her young eco-warrior's passion but said she's careful not to over-promise while encouraging him to dream big. "I want to make good on any pledges that I make," she said. "At this point it's pretty doable, yet we don't use a renewable form of energy to power the house. Very frankly, we don't have the money."

Compromise is key, said Julie Ross, a parent and family therapist in New York who has written three books on childrearing. Not every family can afford to install solar panels, but they can put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat, she suggested. If a new car isn't in the budget, a hybrid is out of the question, but car pooling to school or turning off the car rather than idling when stopped in the pickup line might work. Some parents think composting toilets are way too big a hassle, but they're willing to share a flush.

"I definitely hear a lot of frustration and anger in young kids," Ross said. "They don't feel powerful enough to be able to make changes themselves, yet they're being told that this is a big issue and they're going to have to deal with it. Parents have a tendency to dismiss the young." Debra Weitzel, an environmental educator at Middleton High School in Middleton, Wis., said feedback from parents of her students has been overwhelmingly positive when her assigned home-based green projects force the family to participate. One student meticulously charted his family's computer habits and was able to show a reduction in the electric bill after he trained his loved ones to shut down more often. Another student drafted energy-efficient plans for an addition to his family's house, and his father was wowed by savings from his high-performing insulation recommendation......


Comment from Brian Valentine:

OK kids - that is admirable, you don't care for plastic and you live your lives accordingly. Good for you for making your emotions and your lives consistent by what you perceive - although plastic, of course, as a commodity, will find its way to be used in the commercial market, and someone else will buy it and use it, and all of it is quite independent of what you chose to like or dislike.

But kids - you have to realize, that not everyone subscribes to your preferences and ideals, and not everyone believes what you perceive to be the truth, to be accurate. You've got to understand, that other people by their rational evaluation, have concluded that what you believe to be a true picture of the world around you - is not accurate, and you need to accept that as the honest evaluations of others, who are quite capable of making just that evaluation.

All this means, that other people have chosen to live their lives in am manner that is not consistent with your ideals, and your maturity will come, when you come to accept the reasoned considerations of others equally valid as your own

Global Warming 101: Professor Carter Explains Climate Realism

Post below recycled from Newsbusters. See the original for links

For years, NewsBusters has made the case that foreign press outlets do a far better job of covering both sides of the manmade global warming debate than American media. Friday was a perfect example as New Zealand television's "Nzone Tonight" broadcast an interview with Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.

As you watch the video embedded to the right, notice the respect and courtesy Carter is given by host Allan Lee as he calmly and methodically explained the position of climate realists without being insulted or referred to as a "denier." Compare that to the disgraceful job ABC's Dan Harris did last month when he interviewed Dr. S. Fred Singer on "World News" in a segment entitled "Welcome to 'The Denial Machine'" that actually began:
One of the most influential scientists in what's been called "The Denial Machine," for decades, Fred Singer has argued loudly that global warming is not dangerous despite the vast majority of scientists who agree it is. His critics say Dr. Singer has helped create the mirage of a scientific debate which has preventing the American public and American politicians from taking action.

By contrast, Lee treated Carter with the respect any guest on a television show should be accorded, leading to an interview that can educate people on both sides of this controversial issue. With this in mind, I challenge American television news outlets to reciprocate, and begin interviewing climate realists on the air, with courtesy and decorum, so that the citizenry can better understand all the intricate facets of the real science involved in this matter and not just the hysteria being advanced by Al Gore.

Bravo, Nzone. Bravo. And, thank you Professor Carter for the much-needed lesson.


Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, has given warning that a proposed European Union scheme to force companies to pay for carbon emissions permits previously handed out free threatens to destroy Europe's petrochemicals and refining industry. Mr van der Veer told The Times that the EU needed to be careful not to trigger an exodus of European jobs and investment offshore with no net reduction in global emissions.

Speaking in The Hague, he said that the proposals would undermine the competitiveness of a struggling industry and have a cascading impact on Europe's wider economy because of the close links between the region's oil, chemicals and plastics industries, which collectively support nearly two million jobs. He said: "In the past 20 years the refining industry in Europe has been very difficult . . . But if we have additional penalties because we move away from a system of free allocations to a large extent, then in such a marginal industry that is a real problem."

In January the European Commission announced measures designed to cut EU emissions of CO2 by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020. One of the cornerstones was a reform of the emissions trading scheme (ETS), which allocates a free, fixed quota of emissions permits to heavy industry. The Commission has proposed that from 2013 oil refineries and airlines, and possibly other sectors, will have to pay for 20 per cent of their emissions permits, rising to 100 per cent by 2020. It hopes to formalise the plan by the end of the year.

"We don't want to threaten draconian measures," Mr van der Veer said. "We prefer to make the case in a positive way. But it's a hell of a lot of employment."

His comments were rejected by Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, the sustainable development charity, who said: "The EU emissions trading scheme is the most important initiative we currently have in the world to tackle climate change. Our major companies need to be getting behind it and investing in a low-carbon future and not trying to undermine positive action."

Mr van der Veer said that a level playing field for industry was critical if the ETS were to succeed in cutting emissions. He said: "If the regional block is big enough, then that is OK. But it gets very difficult for energy-intensive industries. What will happen if you have to buy auction rights inside EU but not outside?" He claimed that Europe's oil-refining industry, which employs about 100,000 people directly and represents 18 per cent of global refining capacity, should be rewarded, not punished, for the progress that it has made to enhance energy efficiency.

"In Europe our industry is already quite efficient," Mr van der Veer said, "and if [it] is more energy-efficient than elsewhere, then you should not drive that industry away. Maybe we need to benchmark EU industry with the outside world. If it is energy-efficient, you should get a lot of free allocations . . . You have to start with lots of free allocations to get the system to work. Then, over time, you can tighten the measures." He indicated that the global nature of the oil and chemicals industries would force them towards lower-cost regions. Shell has sold three of its refineries in France because of concerns over profitability.

"The industries are very international," he said. "A lot of our refining is Middle Eastern oil, a lot of which is then exported to the US." Europe's petrochemicals industry has an annual turnover of 74 billion euros, according to the European producers' association.



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1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

re: Growing up Green

As I commented at the article website, the kids fair to grasp basic things that make the issue complex -- Turning off and on electronic components creates stress fractures in the delicate structures of the crystals in the electronics as a result of the heat-up/cool-down process. This shortens the life of the components, which means that they need to be replaced more often, creating more disposed components, a lot of wasted time and money purchasing new components, and the manufacture of electronic components itself is far from particularly "Green".

As a result, the on-off process likely produces far more waste products than it saves in terms of energy use reductions.

I recall from the 70s that cars are (or at least, were) more efficient at 50 than at 55 (the 55 was more of a compromise because diesels, heavily used in the transport/shipping industry, are efficient at a higher speed). So if your only goal is better fuel efficiency, your car should be going more like 50 than 55. If course, that means that your daily 20-mile trips take 24 minutes of your time instead of 15 (at 80mph). If people made 3 trips like this a day, the cost to the nation would be on the order of 15000 man-years each year. It adds up.

In specific, we don't let children vote, or drive, or drink. The reason for this is that they aren't known for making good, reliable decisions.

WHy in (insert preferred Diety here)'s name, would you think that they'd be a good source for information on how to "best" be Green? Yeesh.

There's a fine line between being stupid and being smart -- Actually, no, there's not, there's a Grand Canyon -- Try and stay on the smart side of it, folks. It's not that hard. Really, it's not.