Saturday, March 13, 2010
ARE WE READY TO PAY A TAX ON LIFE?
All this was inspired by the principle-which is quite true in itself-that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.
Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. -Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X
Currently in the mainstream media there is a constant barrage of repetition concerning the issue of human emissions of carbon dioxide. You cannot open a newspaper or turn on the radio without being told how we must reduce our carbon footprint and do our bit for the environment. Terms such as Man Made Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect and more recently, Climate Change have cast a shadow of gloom over our very existence. A mass global guilt trip has been successfully laid on the ordinary people of the world which makes even the Catholic Church look like part-timers.
It has been said by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the debate is over. That we humans are responsible for a rise in CO2 over the last 150-200 years or more taking levels from 280 ppm (parts per million) up to 385 ppm. It is also claimed that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and causes global warming because it traps heat from the Sun. And that because of our CO2 emissions, the temperature on Earth is set to go on rising until the polar ice caps melt and the sea levels rise, swamping coastal towns and villages and displacing millions of people.
In fact such catastrophic predictions have been so numerous that CO2 levels have been increased by the very act of their verbalisation. Most worrying is the fact that there are currently, very real efforts underway to curb our carbon emissions and force us to pay a premium for the right to emit carbon dioxide based on these claims which, it has to be said, although the debate is apparently over, have yet to be substantiated.
The reason that so many people have accepted that they are to blame, regardless of the fact that these claims remain unsubstantiated, is simple. To be told that you are responsible for harming the very environment on which you depend for life is enough to fill you with the utmost fear, unbearable guilt and sheer terror. Therein lies the problem. When we are in a state of fear or shock or we feel a sense of intense guilt we lose the ability to think properly. Rational and logical thought is shut down to a point where we cease to even question what we are told.
With regard to these claims about human emissions of CO2 I have remained resolutely unconvinced. This has freed my mind of the fear and guilt associated with such claims, currently affecting millions worldwide, and has enabled me to ask a few pertinent questions which I among many others feel need answering in order to establish the truth about such claims.
Not least of all, can these claims be tested? By which I mean that if a claim is made to the effect that CO2 traps heat for instance, can this claim be tested? The answer of course is yes it can.
The purpose of this book then is to address these claims or rather accusations against us with regards our CO2 emissions with a rational, logical, guilt-free and above all, questioning mind.
I have for as long as I can recall been aware that carbon dioxide is a kind of plant food. It is used in commercial greenhouses all over the world to increase yields. If as the IPCC claim CO2 levels are becoming dangerously high because of human emissions, first we must ask, are we obliged to take the IPCC at their word? Second we need to know what current levels are and how do they compare with historical levels. Third and most importantly we must ask what CO2 levels represent a benefit to the environment and how high can levels be before they produce a detrimental effect.
Since the answer to the first question is a resounding NO, then we must also apply this questioning to all the other claims of the IPCC and the anthropogenic global warming lobby, or to put it another way, "Always, without exception, question authority."
So what is all the fuss about CO2 and what does that have to do with us? The accusations are twofold. First, that human CO2 emissions are responsible for a 100 parts per million overall rise globally during the last 200 years. Second that CO2 harms the environment because it traps in heat causing global warming. These are the claims being made against we humans and the purpose of this book is to address these accusations and to clear up any ambiguity.
I shall begin by looking first at CO2 levels and some of the data on which the accusations are based. Then I shall look at CO2 itself and question whether it or any other material or substance for that matter, has the ability to trap heat or cause a "Greenhouse Effect" and thus, "Global Warming".
What are the current levels of CO2 and what is the total human carbon footprint? Strangely, considering the enormity of the implications, there are only two sources of data being considered as the basis for claimed levels of atmospheric CO2 content. Even more telling is that the data being relied on is not in the least supported by the many other available sources of evidence for atmospheric CO2 content such as tree rings, lake sediments, stalagmite formation and chemical gas analysis, all of which have been dismissed as irrelevant by the IPCC.
The first source are samples from ice cores obtained from various glaciers which apparently represent atmospheric gas content for the last 200 years. Ice core samples however, like those who collect them, are not particularly reliable. Ice core data is highly imprecise at best and according to some scientists such as Zbigniew Jaworowski, Ph.D. in his paper: IceCoreSprg97.pdf, at worst, a blatant cherry picking exercise.
Above all, the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old so obtaining any definitive information regarding specific atmospheric CO2 levels over such a miniscule time frame as 200+ years is not only meaningless but unsurprisingly, the subject of much debate. After all CO2 levels have fluctuated up and down by thousands of parts per million for billions of years so obviously we can understand nothing whatsoever by looking at a 200 year period.
Even so, we are expected to be willing to undergo evolutionary reversal based on unreliable, unsubstantiated and highly insignificant data. The only other source of data being relied upon for CO2 levels comes from spectrophotometric measurements at Mauna Loa, a volcano in Hawaii. Mauna Loa is not just any old volcano. It happens to be the largest and one of the most active volcanos in the world. Consequently it will itself, no doubt, be producing large amounts of CO2. Yet we are told that these measurements at Mauna Loa agree with those at other locations.
It is worth mentioning that CO2 measurements have only been collected at this location for a mere 50 years. However from this scant and highly dubious data it is stated that CO2 levels have been steady at 280 parts per million for hundreds of thousands of years but due to human emissions and in particular the industrial revolution, during the last 200 years levels have risen by more than 100 ppm to 385 parts per million.
All the same, lets be generous and give the proponents of anthropogenic global warming the benefit of the doubt. For the moment, lets accept that the figure of a 100 ppm rise in CO2 over the last 200 years is accurate. All that the AGW proponents need do then, is show that we humans are responsible for this increase and that it poses a significant threat. But since no one has ever attempted to record the carbon dioxide usage or production of every plant, animal and natural process involved in the carbon cycle, this cannot even be quantified, let alone proven.
All that is known, is that there are huge exchanges of CO2 between the atmosphere and the surfaces of the oceans, the land, organic matter and the large numbers of organisms. The approximate annual human contribution to the overall atmospheric CO2 content is apparently about 8 billion (some say six billion) tons per year. Humans emit approximately 8 billion tons of CO2 per year.
It sounds like a lot doesn't it? But if we compare that to the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere we can put that figure into perspective. Approximately 8 gigatons is the total human annual output of CO2. It is said that the atmosphere contains an average of about 750 gigatons of CO2 which is roughly 385 ppm. (parts per million) 8 gigatons into 750 gigatons = 93.75 385 ppm ö 93.75 = 4.1066666666666665 ppm.
So assuming these figures are correct, our annual contribution of CO2 to the total average of 385 ppm is at most, a fraction over 4.1 parts per million. 4.1 ppm is the entire annual CARBON FOOTPRINT of the whole of the human race. That means that if all 6.8 billion of us reverted to a state before the discovery of fire we could reduce atmospheric CO2 by a staggering 4.1 ppm per year, out of a claimed total average of 385 ppm.
Let me say that again. Even if all 6.8 billion humans on Earth gave up ALL forms of transportation, ALL forms of industrial activity, ALL forms of energy production and even reverted back to a Stone Age state before the discovery of fire, living in cold damp caves as hunter gatherers and eating raw food, bearing in mind that most of us would die of starvation and/or hypothermia, we could only reduce overall atmospheric CO2 content by about 4.1 parts per million per year against a supposed average background level of 385 ppm.
That is assuming of course that all anthropogenic CO2 ends up in the atmosphere and remains there for a significant length of time. So what does this figure 4.1 ppm really mean? Is 8 billion tons significant or not? It is estimated that each year the surface oceans and the atmosphere exchange 90 billion tons of CO2. Vegetation and the atmosphere, 100 billion tons, marine biota and the surface oceans, 50 billion tons and the surface oceans and the intermediate and deep oceans as much as 40 billion tons of CO2.
It is important to point out that this data is not precisely known and these annual numbers are very rough estimations but they show clearly, just how insignificant the 8 billion tons from human activity each year, really is. The effect of variability in these figures by itself, is enough to swallow without a trace, the so called Anthropogenic contribution to CO2.
To put it another way, our total annual output may be 4.1 ppm, but the estimated annual CO2 exchange rate between the surface oceans, the vegetation and the atmosphere alone, is well over 100 ppm (ignoring the fluctuation of these levels). Considering this figure is estimated and variable, are we to believe that the difference, if corrected up or down to account for that variation, would be less than 3 or 4 ppm per year?
Of course, these estimated numbers ignore completely the many other factors which need to be considered when looking at the effect of Carbon Dioxide and the role it plays in the environment, not least of all the way plants themselves behave in the presence of higher levels of CO2.
It is well known that in an environment which has increased CO2 levels, plant growth is much more vigorous, doubling and even quadrupling crop yields. For instance, in a commercial greenhouse the CO2 level strived for is usually 1200+ ppm. This is known as Threefold Enrichment, three times normal atmospheric levels. These larger plants are then going to cause a negative "feedback loop" on atmospheric CO2 content as their larger size then in turn requires even more CO2. Thus placing further demands on atmospheric levels. This poses the question, if CO2 is increasing for other more credible reasons such as naturally warming oceans for example, what might happen to CO2 levels when this current warming ends but the demand from these larger plants still persists?
During daylight hours plants are using CO2 and producing Oxygen in the process know as photosynthesis. The peak of that usage is when the Sun is at its strongest, at around noon. At night however this process is reversed and instead of using CO2, plants are using Oxygen and producing CO2. During each 24 hour period, as the light from the Sun moves east to west across the Earths surface, CO2 and Oxygen are being used up and reproduced like a giant Mexican wave (in terms of gasses), creating massive variations in CO2 and Oxygen levels.
At the same time that this is happening, great areas of the oceans are also being warmed by the Sun causing the release of yet more CO2. It is clear then that at no point during any 24 hour period do CO2 levels remain constant let alone month to month or year to year. This daily rate of change in terms of parts per million, as said, completely negates the annual 4.1 ppm total human CO2 contribution.
Is it any wonder that this figure of 4.1 ppm is never mentioned in the mainstream media? Who in their right mind would believe that 4.1 ppm per year can affect global CO2 levels which can fluctuate by more than 10-20+ times that in a single day regardless of human activity?
Much more HERE. (PDF. See the original for links, graphics etc. -- and forgive the spelling. I have fixed the spelling in the excerpt above. The author is obviously a scientist rather than a liberal arts graduate)
If only the weather were as predictable as the alarmists
It seems that a group of US warming alarmists have been emailing one another discussing an offensive against those nasty people who question their theory. I was looking at those emails and one of them, apparently from David Schindler says: "I'd add that Edmonton is near snowless and has been shirtsleeve weather for most of 2010 instead of the usual -40C... but of course there are no major media here, so only the locals know!"
Unlike most global warming theory, which is based on models projecting into the future what the theorists think will happen, given the assumptions they make, this claim is easily verified in the here and now. So I did. First, I wondered if the "usual" temperature in Edmonton is -40C, as the author claimed.
According to the BBC the average minimum temperature in Edmonton, for January, is -20 and the average high is -9. For February it is -17 and -6 respectively. The record low is -50, so it appears that -40C is not usual at all, but would be highly unusual. I went to the Canadian Weather Office for more official data. They say the daily average in January, in Edmonton, is -11.7, not -40 as Schindler claimed in his email. For February, the weather office says the average is -8.4. They say the January "extreme minimum" was -44.4, set in 1943 and for February the extreme minimum was -46.1, set in 1939.
The record lows for Edmonton are barely colder than what Schindler claimed is the "usual" weather in Edmonton. The official data shows the "usual" weather is nowhere near -40C, either an a daily average, or as the daily low. Temperatures of -40 are not "usual."
What about Edmonton having "shirtsleeve" weather this year? Since Schindler said this was "for most of 2010" and since he wrote the email on February 27th, it is fair to look at average temperatures for January and February in Edmonton. Obviously there is no objective definition of "shirtsleeve weather," so that is more ambiguous than the now-debunked claim that the usual temperature is -40C. But I sincerely doubt anyone reading this would actually define the weather in Edmonton, this year, as shirtsleeve weather. I would dare Prof. Schindler to spend much time outside, in his shirtsleeves, during even the warmest of the days this year in Edmonton. At best there were a few hours that might qualify as "shirtsleeze" weather. A few hours over 58 days is not "most of 2010."
For the last third of January the temperature never got higher than -5.1C (yes that is negative) and the minimum temperature went down t0 -21.5C. Here is the maximum temperature, per day, for February: 1st, -6.4C; 2nd, -7.4C; 3rd, -4.7C; 4th, -6.6C; 5th, -8.9C; 6th, -6.7C; 7th, -5.9C; 8th, -5.6C; 9th, -2.4C; 1oth, 1.7C; 11th, -1.7C; 12th, -8.6C; 13th, -14.6C; 14th, -6.1C; 15th, 4.8C; 16th, 1C; 17th, 2.3C; 18th, 2; 19th,-2.4C; 20th, -6.3C; 21st, 0.4C; 22nd -5.1C; 23rd, -5.1C; 24th, 4.2C; 25th, 5.5C; 26th, 7.3C; 27th, 0.6. I end with the day of Schindler's email since he was referring to the weather to that date.
Considering that when Schindler made his claim, there had been only 58 days in 2010, it certainly was easy to check how accurate he was. He said that "most of 2010," as of that day, had been shirtsleeve weather. The official data shows the average day to be below freezing. Only a few days crept above freezing and just a handful had highs in the 40s (F). Even defining "shirtsleeve weather" very broadly it is impossible to say that "most of 2010" was "shirtsleeve weather." Mr. Schindler grossly exaggerated the warming.
I have also looked at his other claim, that the "usual" temperature in Edmonton is -40C. I don't know if "usual" is supposed to be the mean temperature or the usual low temperature. Normally I would take his comment as referring to the usual mean temperature. Unfortunately for him, neither would substantiate his claim. The most favorable interpretation would be to say he meant the mean low temperature for those months. But that is still far off the mark since the mean couldn't be that close to the record low. For the record, the mean temperature for Janaury, 2010 in Edmonton was -12; for February it was -8. In addition to exaggerating Edmonton's "warm" weather, Schindler grossly exaggerated it's "usual" cold weather as well. This seems par for the course with the alarmists, hence the designation "alarmist."
Perhaps Mr. Schindler thought he could get away with it because, as he said, "there are no major media here." Unfortunately for him, there is weather data available. Of course, that is before they "adjust" the data with unknown formulas in their climate models. No doubt when they finish that process Edmonton will have had the "warmest" winter in recent memory.
But, doesn't Mr. Schindler's claim—even if it were true—confuse weather with climate? After all, we constantly hear that record colds don't disprove warming theory since the one is weather, and the theory is about climate. Of course, when we have extraordinarily warm days the warming alarmists bleat about it constantly. So apparently the "weather isn't climate" slogan only applies to weather that contradicts their theory, not weather that is alleged to confirm it. As far as I know, all weather, of whatever kind, for however long, is considered proof of warming. I've yet to find out what the alarmists say would falsify their theory.
I also note, with some amusement, that one of the prominent names among the emailers about countering the evil skeptics was Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich is certainly an alarmist, if ever there was one. His history of unsubstantiated looming disasters are well known. And, again par for the course, his solutions were always massive government control of individuals. His first alarmist work was The Population Bomb, which said: "By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." He predicted a massive famine in America with populations plunging to around 2.6 million by 1999. (Yep, still waiting for that one as well.) He predicted the oceans wouldbe destroyed by 1979 and said: "If I were a gambler, I would tekae even money that Engliand will not exist in the year 2000." If anyone deserves the lable "alarmist" it is Ehrlich. I know of no prominent left-wing environmentalist who has been as hysterical, on as broad range of topics as Ehrlich. I should also note that I can't think of anyone in the field of public academia who has been so consistently wrong either.
Given Ehrlich's history of paranoid alarmism I'm not suprised he is now in a warming alarmist. Given his track record, when it comes to being right, I find his presence in the warming camp actually rather assuring.
EPA gets on the ocean acidity bandwagon
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will consider ways the states can address rising acidity levels in oceans, which pose a serious threat to shellfish and other marine life. The agency's decision was announced in a legal settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity. The environmental group sued the EPA last year for not requiring Washington state to list its coastal waters as impaired by rising acidity under the Clean Water Act. Such a listing would have
"It's one of the most important threats to water quality right now," said Miyoko Sakashita, a senior attorney at the group's San Francisco office. "It's affecting waters around the world, and it's particularly stark in the waters off the West Coast." Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — a problem Sakashita referred to as "global warming's evil twin."
The changing chemistry of the waters affects many types of sea life, but especially anything that grows a shell or hard covering. Some scientists believe it is likely to blame for die-offs in Northwest oyster stocks over the past several years. "Protection of the nation's water quality, including the health of our ocean waters, is among EPA's highest priorities," the agency said in a statement. "EPA is interested in learning more about how to protect our ocean and coastal waters from acidification."
Previously, states have taken steps to address rising acidity levels in lakes and streams under the Clean Water Act, but this is the first time the EPA has agreed to consider ocean acidity. The Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning each coastal state to address the issue, Sakashita.
In the settlement agreement, the EPA said it would take public comment on the increasing acidity of oceans, on ways states can determine if their coastal waters are affected, and on how states can limit pollutants that cause the problem. Such measures could include regional cap-and-trade systems to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels or requiring industrial plants to reduce their emissions as a condition of any discharge permits granted under the Clean Water Act, Sakashita said.
She compared it to the way the states have used the Clean Water Act in the past to regulate mercury emissions and acid rain. The problem is global, she said, but any steps toward reducing emissions help. "It would be complementary to any other types of climate solutions we have out there," she said.
The American Petroleum Institute, which represents hundreds of oil and gas companies, sought unsuccessfully to intervene in the lawsuit. It claimed that its members have refineries in Washington state whose permits under the Clean Water Act to discharge wastewater off Washington's coast could be affected by the lawsuit's outcome.
"API is now reviewing the settlement and looks forward to seeing EPA's notice for comments on the ocean listings issue," spokesman Bill Bush said in an e-mail.
Lord Rees, President of Royal Society criticized for ‘surrender to politically driven Climate Change dogma’
The feeble defence today (BBC Radio4*) of the failed science of Man-made climate change by Lord Martin Rees President of the Royal Society is a “dereliction of his duty to defend the integrity of science and a surrender to the politically driven agenda of the UN which is mounting a ‘Custer’s last stand’ review of IPCC procedures in a desperate bid to save its credibility”, said Piers Corbyn astrophysicist and founder of WeatherAction long range weather and climate forecasters.
Piers further said: “Martin Rees is a great scientist but his support today of failed science over evidence-based factual observations is a betrayal of the scientific method in favour of anti-scientific dogma. One wonders at what point should political expediency ever over-rule evidence-based science?”
“His defence of the refuted** theory of man-made climate change on the grounds that ‘CO2 has been rising recently at an unprecedented rate and very simple physics’ is without foundation.
“Firstly the claim that current rates of rise of CO2 are unprecedented is neither relevant nor justifiable. Recognized published peer-reviewed work shows:
(i) measured data over hundreds, or thousands, or millions of years proves CO2 changes have no nett driving effect on world temperature or climate, indeed the relationship is observed to be the other way around – for example at the end of ice-ages temperature rises drive CO2 rises with a lag of centuries.
This means that current changes of CO2 are also of no consequence. This is demonstrated by world cooling for the last 8 years while CO2 has been rapidly rising.
(ii) ice core data smooths out rapid fluctuations in CO2 levels which occurred in the past and other methods of measuring CO2 in more recent times show rapid changes**.
The claim of unprecedented rises in something of no consequence is scaremongering nonsense.
“Secondly the ‘very simple physics’ he claims to draw on is just too simple and leaves out other pretty simple physics.
The supposed large magnifying effect of water vapour which is a more significant contributor to infra-red absorption and emission than the trace gas CO2 has been widely challenged along with other assumptions of the CO2 centred theory. More fundamentally wherever those considerations lead a number of feedback effects totally negate any impact CO2 changes may have on surface temperatures. For example extra CO2 enhances plant growth and photosynthetic transpiration which is a powerful cooling effect and the more CO2 the more the cooling. So any extra surface warming due to extra CO2 in the atmosphere is negated by extra cooling caused by extra photosynthetic transpiration. Warming also enhances plant growth so if at one point there were insufficient plants to do the cooling and therefore warming occurred that would enhance plant growth and extend the growing season until there are sufficient plants to provide cooling to negate any warming.
“Martin Rees and the IPCC should be prepared to defend their CO2-driven climate change position but they have still failed to produce any observational evidence for their hypothesis and the BBC consistently avoids allowing any air time to Climate Realist scientists who can easily refute the CO2 hypothesis. Nevertheless I am glad Martin Rees did not repeat the banal claims of Professor Corine Le Quere of the University of East Anglia that ‘There is no other explanation for it (= recent(?) Climate change)’. Perhaps he realizes that our WeatherAction verification of predicted chains of events leading from solar activity to extreme weather events is evidence that the Sun causes ‘it’.
Why won't more politicians talk about Climategate?
Americans honor the courageous informant, the gutsy citizen who stands against the savagery of the profit-mongering conglomerate. Well, sometimes. It appears, believe it or not, that there are those who aren't religiously tethered to this sacred obligation.
For now—because of revelations of the ClimateGate scandal, in which hacked e-mails revealed discussions among top climate scientists about the manipulation of evidence—Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain, has stepped down from his position. Michael Mann, architect of the famous "hockey stick" graph, is now under investigation by Pennsylvania State University. Similar inquiries should follow.
Yet Barbara Boxer, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is off hunting bigger game. "You call it 'ClimateGate'; I call it 'E-mail-theft-gate,'" Boxer clarified during a committee shindig. "We may well have a hearing on this; we may not. We may have a briefing for senators; we may not." Boxer, as steady as they come, went on to put the focus where it belongs: on hackers. She warned: "Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated. ... This is a crime."
If this hacker(s) is unearthed on U.S. soil (or anywhere in the Middle East, actually), Boxer can jettison the guilty party to Gitmo for some well-deserved sleep deprivation. But surely there is time for some sort of investigation? This is, after all, the senator who ran a vital committee hearing in 2008 so that an Environmental Protection Agency whistle-blower, who accused the Bush administration of failing to address greenhouse gas emissions appropriately, could have his say. Boxer's rigid devotion to rule of law is also admirable. But this is the senator who championed the Military Whistleblower Protection Act and fought for whistle-blowing rights for defense contractor employees (to ferret out bureaucratic waste) and for nurses (to protect patients' rights).
All of which sound like sensible protections for the truth-seeking citizen. Because taxpayers matter.
So take Kevin Trenberth, who was caught claiming it was a "travesty" that climate scientists could not "account for the lack of warming at the moment"—though such anxiety never slowed him from weaving unnerving tales of calamity. Trenberth runs the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., which obtains 95 percent of its funding from taxpayers.
Take the taxpayer-funded EPA, which was handed the incredible power to arbitrarily (and without Congress) regulate all carbon dioxide, through the Clean Air Act, in part because of the science in question.
Take NASA, which—despite a 2-year-old Freedom of Information Act request asking for research detailing its historical data—continues to ignore taxpayers. Are these state secrets?
Surely this insularity is one reason 59 percent of Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, believe it is "somewhat likely" that some scientists falsified research data to support their own global warming theories. (Thirty-five percent of Americans believe it's "very likely.")
Fortunately, President Barack Obama has an unwavering admiration of truth tellers, asserting during his campaign that their "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled."
Well, we don't need acts of courage and patriotism. Not yet. Just start with a committee hearing, and work your way up. Because the real crime here would be to continue to irresponsibly pass more experimental legislation that fundamentally undermines our affluent economy and free society on the word of those whom we might not be able to trust.
Will smart meters mean smart coercion?
Dallas residents have been up in arms over the new "smart meters" installed in their backyards. Digital smart meters, which can monitor electric, natural gas, and water usage, allow utility companies to remotely read usage levels and control the delivery of services. Many claim their monthly electric bills have spiked to outrageous levels since being installed. Some have held meetings, set up websites and blogs, started petitions and confronted installers, refusing to allow them to switch out the meters at their homes.
This isn't anti-technology Luddism, this is legitimate concern. Wired recently ran an article, "Security Pros Question Deployment of Smart Meters," which is concerned with the fact that the whole "smart grid" is being deployed nationwide before security guidelines have even been developed. "The most common vulnerability," says the article, is "cross-site request forgery" in which a hacker can hijack an authentication cookie stored in a user’s browser and obtain access to the system as that user. Encryption schemes, it seems, are lagging behind advances in encryption cracking. Add to that the fact that smart meters have a remote shut-off capability and you can see the potential for mayhem.
But libertarians see much greater potential for misuse and abuse. Already, enviro-manipulators are counting the days until everyone's energy usage – electricity, gas, water – can be monitored and posted on a public website where every neighbor can monitor everyone else's usage.
An article in Grist, "Smart meters save energy, water, and dollars," describes a pilot program in which smart water meters take hourly readings and participants can check each other's consumption on a social networking site. Then the author adds, "Nothing like a little peer pressure to get you to turn off the tap."
Yes, imagine your nosy neighbor seeing the spike in your water usage chart whenever you water your plants, make ice cubes, or flush your commode when you get up to pee at two AM every night. Why not just hand them binoculars?
But given the history of ever-escalating government intrusion into our private lives, libertarians warn it won't be long before that "peer pressure" evolves into "mandatory compliance." We can all look forward to visits from the Energy Compliance Cops knocking on our doors with warnings and fines and subpoenas and arrest warrants and, inevitably, SWAT cops with battering rams and deadly weapons. That's not paranoia, that's tomorrow's reality. Ask any peaceful pot smoker.
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Posted by JR at 4:56 PM