Friday, August 15, 2008

New book: "Green Gone Wild -- Elevating Nature Above Human Rights"

For those considering the green revolution and wondering about its future, it may be too late. One prominent authority believes green has gone, gone wild. M. David Stirling, vice president of the highly regarded Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento has just published a book titled "Green Gone Wild -- Elevating Nature Above Human Rights." In it he catalogs the unrestrained steps by hardcore environmentalists from Rachel Carson to present day power and property grabbers who operate through the implementation and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

He chronicles the half-century worldwide influence of Carson's rage against the use of the mosquito-killing DDT as costing tens of millions of lives. Uncontrolled mosquito populations, especially in developing countries, have spread killer malarial plagues year after year since DDT was banned in 1972.In what Stirling calls a display of classic hypocrisy, Carson's erroneous fear-mongering that DDT was causing human sickness and deaths led her radical followers to find ways to eliminate or curtail humans' activities they viewed as endangering an ever-expanding number of lesser species.

He believes that today's greenies are on a rampage to confiscate millions of acres of private property they declare as habitat for an assortment of rats, snakes, crickets, birds, salamanders and other wildlife and plants. Like many of the other 1,350 species that have been tucked under the ESA's protective canopy, polar bear numbers are increasing as the animal thrives. Stirling foresees that tying the polar bear's listing to global warming can lead to highly restrictive regulation of any human activity viewed as contributing to that alleged phenomenon.

Stirling's book recalls the poorly researched science and knee-jerk reaction of authorities to declare a significant portion of the Northwest's old-growth forests as protected habitat for the northern spotted owl. Timber operations throughout the area closed down, causing immeasurable economic and personal distress to logging families and communities, making the forests more vulnerable to wildfires.

Stirling's conclusion is that nature-loving green zealots hiding behind the ESA are exclusionists at heart. That means they are anti-human. They believe the earth is overpopulated, and restrictions on human enterprise such as the pursuit of happiness should be curtailed, whatever it takes. They have found a way to discourage and limit human enterprise with the ESA's onerous and expensive regulations.

He offers 15 ways to modify the ESA to allow it to actually protect plants and animals that may be in danger without eliminating human activity and commerce. For farmers and others with property at stake these suggestions alone make the book worth the price


Gang Green

Earlier this month, while visiting a friend in San Francisco, I almost spilled my latte in my lap when I read this on the front page of the Chronicle: "S.F. Mayor Proposes Fines for Unsorted Trash." The story began: "Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents' trash to make sure pizza crusts aren't mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom."

Isn't that what homeless people do -- rooting around in other people's garbage? If Bay Area residents are caught failing to separate the plastic bottles from the newspapers, according to the newspaper story, they could face fines of up to $1,000. "We don't want to fine people," the mayor is quoted saying reassuringly. "We want to change behavior." Translation: Do exactly as we say and no one gets hurt. And San Francisco considers itself one of the most progressive cities in America!

When I was a kid, the environmentalists promoted their clean skies and antilittering agenda mostly through moral suasion -- with pictures of an Indian under a smoggy sky with a tear rolling down his cheek or the owl who chanted on TV: "Give a hoot, don't pollute." Such messages made you feel guilty about callously throwing a candy bar wrapper on the ground or feeling indifferent toward car fumes. Back then I was a devoted recycler, but not for sentimental reasons. It was the financial incentive: You got up to a nickel for every bottle you brought back to the grocery store. So I would scavenge the landscape to find unredeemed bottles to buy baseball cards and candy.

But now the environmental movement has morphed into the most authoritarian philosophy in America. The most glaring example of course is the multitrillion-dollar cap-and-trade anti-global warming scheme that would mandate an entire restructuring of our industrial economy. This plan, endorsed by both presidential candidates, would empower climate-change cops to regulate the energy usage and carbon emissions of every industry in America. If we do this, the best estimates are that we could reduce global temperatures by 0.1 degrees by 2050 and save on average about one polar bear a year from early death. But no burden is too great when it comes to helping the planet -- even if the progress to be made is infinitesimal. To weigh costs and benefits is regarded as sacrilege -- the refuge of global warming "deniers."

There are also new federal and state proposals to snoop on citizens in our own homes. California is considering a plan to police the temperature settings on residents' thermostats. The feds are checking on the flush capacity of our toilets and the kinds of light bulbs we use. A new game called Climate Crime Cards urges kids to spy on and keep an online record of their family's environmental faux pas -- noting when their parents fail to turn off the TV, plug in too many appliances or use the clothes dryer on a sunny day.

Sen. John Warner, a Republican from Virginia, wants to bring back the reviled 55-mile-per-hour federal speed limit law so that America can reduce gasoline consumption. Barack Obama believes that properly inflating the tires on our cars is the solution to our energy woes. Is the government going to start giving tickets for failure to inflate?

The latest rage among the more radical environmental groups is to encourage the government to monitor and ration every individual's carbon footprint -- how much you eat, drive, fly, heat, air condition, throw away and so on. Why? Because the average American emits twice as much carbon as the average European (which is another way of saying we are more productive than they are).

This is all promoted as a form of shared sacrifice. But under this system some people are more equal than others. People with enough money like Al Gore can purchase carbon offset credits to justify chartering a plane rather than having to fly commercial. Seems like this is the very kind of elitist policy -- reminiscent of the practice during the Civil War of allowing the rich and privileged to buy their way out of the draft -- that liberals used to be against.

Do-gooders also once wanted to "celebrate diversity," but total conformity seems to be the aim of those in Seattle these days, where the city has started putting green tags on garbage cans of homeowners who don't recycle. Enthusiasts boast that there is a very positive "Scarlet Letter" effect to subjecting noncompliers to public scorn. So you can almost hear the kitchen conversations: "Jimmy, I don't want you playing with the Williams boys anymore; their family doesn't recycle."

But wait, aren't these the same ACLU members who oppose public registries of multiple sex offenders? Many studies have shown that the environmental benefits from household recycling are minimal or at least highly exaggerated (because it uses a lot of energy and those recycling trucks emit a lot of greenhouse gases). America is not in danger of ever running out of landfill to store our garbage. For example, a study by Daniel Benjamin, an economist at Clemson, finds that we could store all of America's garbage for the next century within the property of Ted Turner's ranch in Montana, with 50,000 acres undisturbed for the horse and bison.

In reality, household recycling is mostly about absolving the guilt of Lexus liberals who just hate themselves for enjoying an affluent 21st-century lifestyle. The aim seems to be less saving nature than building self-esteem. And it has worked. Too well. I can barely tolerate the proud recyclers, hybrid-car owners and "save the polar bear" button-wearers who smother us with their self-righteousness. A few weeks ago I was at the house of some friends, and I accidentally tossed a plastic Gatorade bottle into the glass recycling bin. You would have thought that I had made a pass at their daughter.

Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes with rich irony that "we now live in a society where Sunday church attendance is down, but people wouldn't dream of missing their weekly trek to the altar of the recycling center." These facilities, by the way, are increasingly called "redemption centers." Which is fine except that now the greens want to make redemption mandatory. Oh, for a return to the days when someone stood up for the separation of church and state.


REAL climate change -- and not an SUV in sight

A US-led team of archaeologists said today they had discovered by chance what is believed to be the largest find of Stone Age-era remains ever uncovered in the Sahara Desert. Named Gobero, the site includes remarkably intact human remains as well as the skeletons of fish and crocodiles dating back some 10,000 years to a time when what is now the world's largest desert was a swampy wetland.

The discovery, reported in the September issue of National Geographic Magazine, was stumbled upon by University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno as he and his team searched for dinosaur fossils in Niger. The archaeological site is a part of the desert called Tenere, or "deserts of deserts" in the Tuareg nomads' language, and dates back to when the region was at its wettest period between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

Gobero holds evidence of two different human populations that lived in the area more than 1,000 years apart. Exposed by the hot winds of the Sahara, human bones were found strewn about a wide area, the researchers said. "At first glance, it's hard to imagine two more biologically distinct groups of people burying their dead in the same place," said team member Chris Stojanowski. The Arizona State University bioarchaeologist added: "The biggest mystery is how they seemed to have done this without disturbing a single grave."

One of the finds stopped the team in its tracks -- a 5,000-year old skeleton of a small woman facing the remains of two young children, her arms outstretched in a gesture of embrace. Samples taken from underneath the bones revealed pollen clusters, evidence the team says, that those who perished had been buried on a bed of flowers. Other finds at the site include a human jaw with a nearly complete set of teeth and the bones of a small hand jutting out of the sand with all its digits intact. Alongside the human remains, the archaeologists also found harpoon points, stone implements and small, pierced decorations for making collars.

Because of the pristine condition in which the remains were found, the archaeologists say they are certain the burial ground was undiscovered until now. "Everywhere you turned, there were bones belonging to animals that don't live in the desert, Sereno said. "I realised we were in the green Sahara." The site yielded fossils of huge crocodiles and dinosaurs including the complete skeleton of Sarcosuchus imperator, one of the biggest crocodiles that ever roamed the earth some 110 million years ago. Sereno also unearthed the Nigersaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur with a huge jaw studded with 500 teeth that lived in the same geologic period, the Cretaceous, some 110 million years ago.

Carbon-dating tests carried out on the bones and teeth by Stojanowski, from the University of Arizona, revealed more than 80 radiocarbon dates, showing two distinct populations lived on the banks of the lake, but 1,000 years apart.


Austin, Texas, wants to produce power (at 6 times the normal cost) by burning wood waste

Burning wood will reduce pollution?? When other people are paying, no cost is too great and no acrivity is too bizarre in the pursuit of righteousness

Austin Energy (the city-owned electric utility in the Texas capital) and Nacogdoches Power, LLC, are hosting a town hall meeting in Austin tonight about their proposed biomass-power partnership. They propose a $2.3 billion, 20-year contract for power from wood waste. Austin Energy would be the sole buyer of power from the plant for the duration of the 20-year contract.

So Austin, always eager to lead the way in costly "green" ventures, is about to spend $2.3 billion on a 100-megawatt power plant that produces power from a fuel source that accounted for 0.95 percent of the total electricity generation in the U.S. in 2006. Not a surprising move, as the Austin Climate Protection Plan seeks to have 30 percent of the city's power from renewable-energy sources by 2020.

But even local environmental groups are urging caution:
"The City Council's decision to delay a decision on the plant for a couple weeks is a good one because I think there are a lot of questions," said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, who said he supports getting power from a biomass plant but would like to see more data. "It'd be really helpful for that information to come out and be reviewed."

Tom "Smitty" Smith, executive director of Public Citizen, a government watchdog and environmental group, said he likes the basic concept behind the project but still has concerns about the cost and environmental impact, specifically pollution and the amount of wood waste that might be available to fuel the plant.

Mike Sloan, president of local renewable energy consulting firm Virtus Energy, said Austin shouldn't make such an expensive decision before Austin Energy's planned effort this fall to gather input about future sources of energy. "There are so many changes going on in the energy industry right now; it would be a good idea for Austin to get its priorities based on input from the people," Sloan said.

Austin Mayor Will Wynn is raring to go, though: "Wynn said partnering with Nacogdoches Power is a valuable opportunity. If Austin doesn't jump on this offer, someone else will, he said. `I definitely want to act when we can control our destiny,' Wynn said. `This is a remarkable hedge against the volatility of fossil fuels (pricing) and whichever carbon regime is going to happen sooner rather than later.'"

Missing from Mayor Wynn's comments are the effects of the project on Austin Energy ratepayers. Austin is preparing to commit $2.3 billion for 100 megawatts of generating capacity. The FutureGen project promised 275 megawatts of generating capacity for about $1.5 billion. The two proposed additional units at the South Texas Nuclear Project will generate 2,700 megawatts for about $6 billion. On a cost-per-megawatt basis, the city would be better off pursuing these zero-emissions alternatives rather than air-polluting burning of wood waste.

The kicker: Austin Energy owns 16 percent of the existing two STNP units but declined to participate in the two new units over cost concerns. Maybe Austin's ambitious Climate Protection Plan had something to do with it. The article reports, "If the biomass plant and a planned solar power project for a city-owned Webberville tract go forward, 18 percent of Austin Energy's fuel would be coming from renewable sources in 2012."



Responding to various new scientific reports questioning the concept of global warming, Assemblyman Michael Doherty today called on Governor Corzine to hold off on proposing any new regulations associated with the state's Global Warming Response Act and urged the Legislature to repeal that act when it returns to legislative business after Labor Day.

"There are many credible members of the scientific community who have questioned the theory of global warming, and now we have some scientists actually suggesting the earth's temperatures may be entering a period of dramatic cooling," said Doherty, R-Warren and Hunterdon. "With this growing level of scientific uncertainty, it makes no sense to enact a new set of economically damaging regulations prompted by the global warming hysteria of recent years."

The Global Warming Response Act was signed last year by Corzine, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The law required the state Department of Environmental Protection to release a report detailing how the state would meet the goals, with recommendations now expected to be issued this fall.

According to recent news reports, a top observatory that has been measuring sun spot activity predicts that global temperatures will drop by two degrees over the next 20 years as solar activity slows and the planet drastically cools down. They suggest this could potentially herald the onset of a new ice age. Following the end of the sun's most active period in over 11,000 years, the last 10 years have displayed a clear cooling trend as temperatures post-1998 leveled out and are now decreasing.

Earlier this year, John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel, stated that manmade global warming is "the greatest scam in history," adding, "I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a scam." Coleman said the theory of global warming is based on fraudulent science.

"New Jersey's tax and regulatory climate is already chasing jobs from this state left and right and these new regulations will make matters worse," Doherty said. "Rather than conforming our policies to questionable scientific theories, we should be looking at the concrete economic indicators that show our state's economy is in trouble. And we should be taking steps to help people who are losing jobs and being forced out of their homes by this state's anti-economic growth agenda - not making matters worse."


CCSP-USP Report misunderstands ice-core data

Comment by ice-core expert, Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski. See also a previous critique of this allegedly "expert" Warmist report here


The foundations of the CCSP-USP Report, its "fingerprints" and "human influences", are based on ice core studies of CO2. However, ice cores are a wrong matrix for reconstruction of chemical composition of the ancient atmosphere. No effort dedicated to improving analytical techniques can change the imperative pattern of polar ice as a non-closed system matrix. Because of this pattern of ice the CO2 ice core data will always be artifacts caused by processes in the ice sheets and in the ice cores, with CO2 concentration values about 30% to 50% lower than in the original atmosphere.

The low CO2 ice-core concentrations during the past interglacials, when the global temperature was warmer than now, suggest that either atmospheric CO2 levels have no discernible influence on climate, or that proxy ice core reconstructions of the chemical composition of the ancient atmosphere are false - both propositions are probably true.

The scenarios in the CCSP-USP draft Report are based on unreliable ice core data and on incorrect presentation of the past climatic changes. They should not be used for global economic planning. Under Information Quality Act's terms this document is not permissibly disseminated so long as it continues to reproduce these false scenarios with the apparent imprimatur of the federal government. The requested change is: (1) to drop all the references to "human influences" and "fingerprints" as they cannot be credibly validated and are in fact empty notions; (2) to present the veritable fluctuation of climatic cold and warm phases over the past millennium; (3) to review the recent cosmo-climatologic studies, and to reflect them in the conclusions and recommendations of the Report. Without such corrections, the statements in this document fail to meet the authors' claim of representing "the best available information" (p. 14), and "the best available evidence" (p. 15), and otherwise violate applicable objectivity requirements.

Heavily referenced full article available online here


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