Climate folly of all the Scottish political parties
Comment below from Neil Craig in Scotland -- now up on the ChangeScotland site. Holyrood is the location of the Scottish parliament
LAST YEAR Holyrood, unanimously, passed the most restrictive "Climate Change" law in the world. Together with the closure of our nuclear plants this means that over the next 10 years we have to close down half, far and away the least expensive half, of our electricity production.
This unanimity was largely reflected in the Scots media with BBC Newsnight Scotland breaching its nominal commitment to impartiality by describing the passage of the Act as the "good news" of the day - the bad news being the not unrelated fact that the recession is deeper and worse in Scotland.
There is a close relationship between electricity usage & GNP. and Britain already has the highest ratio of GNP to electricity consumption of any large developed country so we might be quite lucky to get off with only halving Scotland's GNP as a result of halving our electricity production. Thus the Scots MSPs are unanimously saying that warming is so catastrophic that destroying half of Scotland's economy, even though the world CO2 reduction will be microscopic, is necessary.
Such unanimity in politics was common in the USSR. It is not expected in a democracy. If Scotland is a healthy democracy with parties who are genuinely free thinking then the evidence that we are experiencing catastrophic global warming must be so overwhelming and unarguable that it is worth destroying our economy simply to make what is, in terms of world CO2 production, only a token gesture.
There is, however, no evidence for catastrophic warming. None. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. There is a theory, described in computer models, but a theory is not evidence and computer models themselves are only an extension of theory. None of the models predicted in advance that we would have the cooling there has been since 1998, indeed they did not show the medieval warming period though it was already known. The scientific method consists of making observations, producing a theory that explains them and then testing the theory against future observations. The warming hypothesis fails the test of explaining all previous observations and thus cannot even be called scientific.
The claim of any warming at all depends on doubtful measurements, many taken at sites which, a century ago, were in countryside but which have now been urbanised, with a consequent significant increase in temperature. The warming claim also depends on the year chosen. If the start year is 1975, 1850 or 1600 we have had warming & alarmists usually start their graphs then. If the start year chosen is 1998, 1934 (in the US), 1000 or 6,000 BC, which would be equally legitimate, the globe is cooling. What we actually see is no clear upward or downward trend and a remarkably close correlation between temperature and the sunspot cycle.
CO2 levels are essentially irrelevant and any recent change is well within historic parameters. The Medieval warm period was about 1.5 degrees warmer than today and the well named Climate Optimum of 9-5,000 BC was as much as 4 degrees warmer - this was an era of hippopotamus filled lakes in the middle of the Sahara, the folk memory of which may be reflected in the Garden of Eden story. Obviously that was not "catastrophic" nor did any "tipping point" to runaway warming occur then.
There are many other reasons to doubt the alarmists - the repeated frauds and lies they have come up with; that some of them such as James Hansen, were involved in the previous global cooling story; that CO2 increase means crops and other plants grow faster, absorbing more CO2 and thus making the phenomenon self limiting; that only 3% of all the CO2 produced worldwide is by Man so we simply cannot be causing the disaster being claimed; that "environmentalists", have threatened us with dozens of catastrophe stories over the last 30 years, including global cooling, none of which have come close to being true; that despite the hype ("Netherlands under water by 2007") sea level refuses to show any significant rise (what we can see are some land masses rising and falling while the sea level barely changes); that we now know the Greenland ice cap has been there for at least 450,000 years and isn't that fragile; that we know of geoengineering methods of cutting global temperature at a small fraction of the trillions this scare has already cost.
The fact that this year, before the end of September, Scotland has experienced sub-zero temperatures, may also persuade some that the oft repeated official warnings of "mild winters" and "barbecue summers" have not proven entirely factual.
Life is too short to mention all the holes in the theory but suffice it to say that anybody who honestly believed CO2 was causing extinction level catastrophe would have to be demanding massive subsidies for nuclear power as the practical system that can provide large scale reliable power with far less CO2 than, for example, windmills (remembering that windmills need massive conventional back-up). Almost nobody pushing this scare does so and if those pushing it know it is a lie we should have no doubts.
Yet if all this is true (and I urge anybody to check) it is legitimate to ask why almost all our politicians and mainstream media warn us of catastrophic warming? Why do they say there is a "scientific consensus" on it?
The nature of this lie points to its creators. I have personally asked many hundreds of politicians, newspapers, broadcasters and alarmist websites worldwide to name 2 scientists who are part of this "consensus" and who are not funded by the state. The editor of the Independent and somebody on a South African website were able to give the same name (Professor James Lovelock who, seeing the climategate emails has largely reversed his position). Nobody else has managed even that.
Patrick Harvie MSP, asked on air, merely asserted that everybody knew it so he was not required to name anybody. It is a strange "scientific consensus" from which the large majority of scientists are excluded. In fact the largest single expression of scientist's opinions is from the Oregon Petition where 31,000 scientists have said the scare is false, but you won't see news reports on the state broadcasting service reporting that.
An example of the quality of government-supported alarmist science was given recently in a lecture by Scotland's Chief Science Advisor. Among a long list of counter factual statements was the howler that "global warming will extend day length." Day length is determined by the planet's axial tilt as any well informed schoolboy knows.
Per capita Scots get more scientific papers cited than any nation other than Switzerland. We have some of the world's best scientists yet the Lab/Libs chose the advisor and the SNP confirmed her appointment. This is not purely a dig at Holyrood - she is also on a quango called NERC with a £400 million budget essentially for promoting "environmental" scare stories.
In 2003 the OECD showed that government funding of science had negative value. The way the state has been funding only "science" and "scientists" who support alarmism while preventing sceptical research, when science is nothing but methodical scepticism, supports this disgraceful conclusion.
The explanation, or at least the only one that fits the facts, says much about the nature of modern politics. The great American writer H.L. Mencken once said "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." I do not easily come to believe that our entire political structure, including our nominally free media, whose standard of impartiality is set by the state owned BBC, is so completely corrupt that they would destroy our country simply to maintain power.
Unfortunately, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Since we have eliminated the possibility that we really are experiencing catastrophic warming as claimed and even eliminated the possibility that most proponents actually believe it, the truth that remains must be that virtually all our politicians and state controlled institutions are deliberately promoting this false "hobgoblin" for personal power and profit. I am forced to agree with Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who knows what censorship of debate and unanimous votes mean and says, "I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism"
The world economy is now back to growing at 5% annually. China and India are growing at 10%. There is no question that we could at least match their growth rate if those in charge were not preventing it. That they are deliberately preventing it, despite almost identical promises from all the main parties, is thus also undeniable. There is really nothing one could say about those in power which would be overly critical.
Walrus Desperatus By Medius Doofus – The Latest Media Hoax
It’s September and so it’s the time of the year for ritual bed-wetting here in Europe among the alarmist media and environmental activists, all triggered by the annual arrival of the Arctic sea ice minima.
No matter where one looks, one finds horror stories of “unprecedented” Arctic ice melt and implications of grave consequences in the major media outlets.
Yet, it’s not enough to report only about melting sea ice. An additional instrument, extra shock, has to be found to emotionalize the event. This year that instrument is no longer the polar bear, trapped on a single tiny chunk of ice. That’s out. The new symbol of climate doom this year is the lovable walrus – odobenus rosmarus.
Practically every major German media outlet has reported on the “plight” of the poor walrus, “forced to flee” to the Alaskan beaches because of the “dramatic” ice melt. It’s the latest unprecedented event that’s proof of anthropogenic global warming.
Die Zeit writes: "Thousands of walrus have landed on the shores of Alaska. The timid animals have fled because the ice on which they normally relax has melted away"
Die Welt writes: "The ice has melted beneath their bellies. That’s why tens of thousands have landed in Alaska, forced to flee."
Der Spiegel, not to be outdone, writes: "The ice no longer suffices: in northwest Alaska tens of thousands of walrus have landed on the beaches. Satellite measurements show that the ice areas of the Arctic have again shrunk a lot this year. Now biologists fear that the heavy animals could crush each other."
And of course all the radio outlets, etc. have followed and parroted these reports in tones laden with drama.
IT’S A HOAX – NOTHING UNUSUAL
Relax. Walrus landing on the beaches is nothing unusual. Yes, the beaches in Alaska have been invaded by thousands of walrus. But it turns out that this is nothing unusual. The Tucson Citizen reports here that according to the The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
The largest concentrations are found near the coasts, between 70 degrees North and Pt. Barrow in the east and between Bering Strait and Wrangel Island in the west. Concentrations, mainly of males, are also found on and near terrestrial haulouts in the Bering Sea in Bristol Bay and the northern Gulf of Anadyr throughout the summer. In October the pack ice develops rapidly in the Chukchi Sea, and large herds begin to move southward. Many come ashore on haulouts in the Bering Strait region. Depending on ice conditions, those haulout sites continue to be occupied through November and into December, but with the continuing development of ice, most of them move south of St. Lawrence Island and the Chukchi Peninsula by early to mid-December.
In October? Why are they early this year? The Tucson Citizen also quotes the Alaska Fish & Game Department, which says that concentrations of walrus on beaches is not unusual.
Best known among the Walrus Islands is Round Island, where each summer large numbers of male walruses haul out on exposed, rocky beaches.” “Walrus return to these haulouts every spring as the ice pack recedes northward, remaining hauled out on the beach for several days between each feeding foray.
Even Wikipedia writes:
The rest of the year (late summer and fall) the walrus tend to form massive aggregations of tens of thousands of individuals on rocky beaches or outcrops. The migration between the ice and the beach can be long distance and dramatic. In late spring and summer, for example, several hundred thousand Pacific Walruses migrate from the Bering sea into the Chukchi sea through the relatively narrow Bering Strait.
And finally, h/t to reader M White below, see The Beeb and Nature here: "The annual walrus gathering on Wrangel Island."
How deranged must the media be to take normal behavior of wildlife, and to spin it into a phony tragedy in order to maliciously spread anxiety through the public? When are they going to learn that there are other alternative sources of information out there that are waiting to expose their shenanigans?
Little repentance from hate-filled Warmist videographers
Mentioned yesterday on this blog was a Green/Left video that justified the murder of skeptics. It was justified as funny and warmly embraced by Britain's leading Leftist rag, The Guardian. Leftists never have been bothered by the killing of those who oppose them.
The idea that people should be violently killed because of their opinions was however greeted with widespread revulsion so the authors of the video have now stopped its circulation and apologized. Below is their apology:
Sorry. Today we put up a mini-movie about 10:10 and climate change called 'No Pressure'.
With climate change becoming increasingly threatening, and decreasingly talked about in the media, we wanted to find a way to bring this critical issue back into the headlines whilst making people laugh. We were therefore delighted when Britain's leading comedy writer, Richard Curtis - writer of Blackadder, Four Weddings, Notting Hill and many others – agreed to write a short film for the 10:10 campaign. Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn't and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended.
As a result of these concerns we've taken it off our website.
We'd like to thank the 50+ film professionals and 40+ actors and extras and who gave their time and equipment to the film for free. We greatly value your contributions and the tremendous enthusiasm and professionalism you brought to the project.
At 10:10 we're all about trying new and creative ways of getting people to take action on climate change. Unfortunately in this instance we missed the mark. Oh well, we live and learn.
Onwards and upwards,
Eugenie, Franny, Daniel, Lizzie and the whole 10:10 team
More HERE. Video at link. More comments on the video here and here.
More ill-informed sea level propaganda
The conclusions precede the evidence!
In Part 1 of this three-part article I talked about some of the earlier political propaganda promoting The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis and looked at possible motivation of one UK publisher of books by authors who support that hypothesis. This time I’ll talk about a book that is in preparation, the co-authors and a little about its USA publisher.
This additional potential “spin and scare” book “Rising Sea Levels” is being prepared for publication by McFarland & Co by co-authors Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson. Let us take a closer look at the degree of expertise in the subject of “Rising Sea Levels” shared by this pair of ambitious writers. After all, it would seem to be reasonable to expect that they know something about a subject that they are writing about, especially one as contentious as sea levels claimed to be rising as a result of our use of fossil fuels.
Hunt is “a former US diplomat-turned writer” and “a published author of children's books and young adult books” (Note 1). In July I was surprised to receive an E-mail from Hunt, someone I had never heard of before, requesting help on this book. I considered it worthwhile helping him to write accurately about such an important subject so the next day I offered my assistance with suggestions about balance when commenting on measurement and modelling.
Hunt responded, acknowledging his state of ignorance on the subject and attaching a draft copy which I reviewed. Hunt’s response to my review comments included “I'm assuming that the deniers will not like what I write. That's OK with me: I'm writing for the British Library, not for them .. and will, I hope, remain there for a very long time -- long after the current generation of deniers is dead and buried...”. Those references to “deniers” gives an indication of the degree of balanced presentation to be expected in the book. I heard no more from Hunt after that.
Co-author Ursula Carlson teaches writing and literature at the community college of Western Nevada as Professor in the English Department. She has a B.A. in English from Michigan State University; an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Detroit - note that “creative writing” bit (Note 2).
The Nevada education authority’s Academic, Research and Student Affairs Committee commented recently (Note 3) that she is knowledgeable, scholarly, intellectual, well-grounded in her subject and stands for integrity. The committee makes no mention there of any expertise in sea levels or climate change, however, it does say that she is a published poet (hardly relevant to writing a book about rising sea levels).
I thought it possible that the committee had simply overlooked that area of her expertise so searched elsewhere for any reference to it. Ursula did write a couple of articles on the subject for publication by her local newspaper The Nevada Appeal. In the first article “Fresh ideas: Heed signs of a warming planet before it's too late” (Note 4) in June she gives the impression that she is knowledgeable on the subject of global warming and says such things as “ .. nearly every major glacier in the world is shrinking .. Oceans are not only warmer, but more acidic; the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures is decreasing; plants are blooming earlier (some by days, some by weeks) than they used to; animals are moving farther and farther toward the North and South poles .. ”.
Ursula concludes “In other words, as I understand it, by the time global warming is so obvious as to be potentially or probably catastrophic, climate change may be so much underway that there is little that can be done to mitigate it, much less reverse it”.
This is very scary, but how does she know all of this? Well, the note at the bottom of the article says “Ursula Carlson .. for this column referred to Elizabeth Kolbert's “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” published in 2006”. So that expression of her “understanding” is not from her own research into the subject but is second hand from Elizabeth Kolbert.
Where have we seen that name before? Oh yes, she is author of one of the books published by Bloomsbury that I listed in Part 1 of this series. Elizabeth Kolbert, like Ursula Carlson, is not a scientist. She is a journalist who studied literature and moved straight into journalism (Note 5) and has been with the Obama-supporting New Yorker since 1999. The extent of her expertise in the numerous scientific disciplines that contribute to improving our poor understanding of global climate processes and drivers is from talking to scientists. This suggests that the extent of Ursula Carlson’s expertise in this area is even less than that of Elizabeth Kolbert and I have been unable to find any evidence to the contrary.
In the second article “Loss of permafrost provides visual proof of climate change” this month (Note 6) she is somewhat more cautious. Although she talks about global warming and greenhouse gases she avoids any suggestion that humans are responsible for any climate change or able to exercise any control over it. She does make the nonsensical statement that “Melting snow and ice seems reasonable in a world that is getting warmer, but the earth itself, the dirt, the soil, the permafrost is melting as well”. Although “Ursula .. is currently reading studies on climate change” she does need to do much more reading before she can be considered to be an authority on the subject.
To sum up so far, Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson appear to have only two things in common as far as writing a book relating to sea level rise or climate change:
1) they co-authored “Trails of Historic New Mexico: Routes Used by Indian, Spanish and American Travellers Through 1886.” (Note 7), which had nothing to do with the subject,
2) neither appear to have any demonstrated expertise in the subject.
On 1st September I wrote to Hunt and Ursula recommending that they read the article "South Pacific Sea Level: A Reassessment" by highly respected sceptic Vincent Gray (Note 8) but neither responded. I didn’t expect to get involved with either any more after that but I was drawn back to them via a seemingly unconnected comment about political “spin”. This led me to checking the Internet for what, if anything, Hunt was doing about his book.
I found that Hunt is trolling Internet blogs - mostly of supporters of The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis - seeking help on the topic from anyone who is prepared to give it, regardless of expertise in the subject, e.g. realclimate, Profmandia, Open Mind, Design Observer, Scienceof Doom. As is to be expected, the responses on these blogs to the questions Hunt was posing are heavily biased towards supporting the IPCC’s position that our continued use of fossil fuels will result in catastrophic changes to global climates. The responses, which also refer Hunt to equally biased blogs, give an indication of the likely shape of the finished book As an example there is not a mention of sea level expert Nils-Axel Mörner (Note 9).
From this evidence Hunt and Ursula need help – a lot of it, but not from Internet blogs. A good starting point would be an interview with Mörner entitled “Sea-level Expert: It’s Not Rising” (Note 10).
This is enough to give you a feel for how biased that book “Rising Sea Levels” by Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson will be. This begs the question of why would a respected publisher of non-fiction get involved with people who are writing a book on a subject about which they know virtually nothing?
More here (See the original for references)
Greens Shackle National Security - and Renewable Energy
“China’s control of a key minerals market has US military thinkers and policy makers worried about access to materials that are essential for 21st-century technology like smartphones – and smart bombs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Plus stealth fighter jets, digital cameras, computer hard drives – and wind turbine magnets, solar panels, hybrid and electric car batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, catalytic converters, and more.
China’s dominance in mining and processing 17 “rare earth” metals “has raised alarms in Washington,” says the Journal. These unique metallic elements have powerful magnetic properties that make them sine qua non for high-tech, miniaturized and renewable energy equipment.
China currently produces fully 97% of the world’s rare-earth oxides, the raw materials that can be refined into metals and blended into specialty alloys for defense, commercial and power-generation components. However, the Middle Kingdom has slashed its rare-earth oxide and metal exports.
Beijing claims to be motivated by environmental concerns – reflecting the fact that rare earths are present in very low concentrations, mountains of rock must be mined, crushed and processed to get usable metals, and every step in the process requires oil, gasoline or coal-based electricity. A more likely reason is that the Chinese want to manufacture the finished goods, thereby creating countless “green” factory jobs, paid for with US and EU taxpayer subsidies, channeled through GE, Siemens, Vestas and other “socially responsible” companies that then install the systems across Europe and the USA.
So here we are, long beholden to foreign powers for petroleum – and newly dependent on foreign powers for “green” energy. National security issues (direct defense needs and indirect dependency issues) once again rise to the fore, and the Defense Department, Government Accountability Office, House Science and Technology Committee and others are busily issuing reports, holding hearings and expressing consternation. Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN) worries that the United States is being “held hostage.”
As well he should. However, the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves – or more precisely in our militant environmentalists.
Back in 1978, I ruined a perfectly pleasant hike in a RARE-II roadless area, by asking an impertinent question. “How do you defend prohibiting any kind of energy or mineral exploration in wilderness study areas?” I asked Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rupert Cutler and Forest Service Chief John McGuire, “The 1964 Wilderness Act expressly allows and encourages those activities, so that Congress and the American people can make informed decisions about how to manage these lands, based on extensive information about both surface and subsurface values. How do you defend ignoring that provision?”
“I don’t think Congress should have enacted that provision,” Dr. Cutler replied.
“That may be your opinion,” I responded. “But Congress did enact it, and you are obligated by your oath of office to follow the law the way it was written, not the way you think it should have been written.”
“I think we’ve said enough to this guy,” Cutler said to Chief McGuire, and they walked away.
A couple months later, I asked the Denver Sierra Club wilderness coordinator a related question: “Why are you focusing so heavily on areas with the best energy and mineral potential? Isn’t that going to impact prices, jobs and national security?”
“Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”
And every other restrictive land use category that arrogant, thoughtless activists, bureaucrats, judges and politicians can devise, he might have added. Which is how we got where we are today.
As of 1994, over 410 million acres were effectively off limits to mineral exploration and development, according to consulting geologist Courtland Lee, who prepared probably the last definitive analysis, published in The Professional Geologist. That’s 62% of the nation’s public lands – an area nearly equal to Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming combined – primarily in Alaska and our eleven westernmost Lower 48 states. Today, sixteen years later, the situation is much worse – with millions more acres locked up in wilderness, park, preserve, wildlife refuge, wilderness study and other restrictive land use categories, or simply made unavailable by bureaucratic fiat or foot-dragging.
Due to forces unleashed by plate tectonics, these rugged lands contain some of the most highly mineralized mountain and desert areas in North America. They almost certainly hold dozens, perhaps hundreds, of world-class rare-earth deposits. The vast mineral wealth extracted from those areas since the mid-1850s portends what might still be there, to be discovered by modern prospecting gadgets and methods. But unless laws and attitudes change, we will never know.
How ironic. First eco-activists lock up the raw materials. Then they force-feed us “renewable energy standards” that require the very materials they’ve locked up, which we’ve never much needed until now. Thus China (and perhaps other countries a few years hence) will happily fill the breach, creating green jobs beyond our borders, selling us the finished components, and using our tax dollars to subsidize the imported wind turbines, solar panels and CFL bulbs that are driving energy costs through the roof.
Science historian James Burke became famous for chronicling the “Connections” between successions of past discoveries and achievements and various modern technologies. Unfortunately, today’s increasingly powerful and power-hungry activists, jurists, legislators and regulators cannot see the connection between their actions and the economic havoc they leave in their wake.
Of course, there is little incentive for them to do so. They know they will rarely be held accountable. Others may freeze jobless in the dark – but most of them will keep their jobs, perks, pensions, positions of power over our lives, economy and civil rights progress.
However, there are bright spots. The upcoming elections offer hope for a general House (and Senate) cleaning. A recent poll found that a third of all Americans don’t want to pay even $12 a year in higher energy costs, even to create “green” jobs or forestall Climate Armageddon. Many people are simply fed up – with Washington, and with constant assertions of imminent eco-catastrophes.
A steady stream of shale-gas discoveries in Europe and the United States suggests that we still have plentiful supplies of cheap natural gas. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen. Both developments undermine a principle argument for pricey, land-intensive, intermittent wind and solar power: that we are running out of “fossil fuels.”
Just north of the Mojave Desert, near Mountain Pass, California, Molycorp is working to restart mining operations at the largest rare-earth deposit outside of China. They had been suspended in 2002, for economic, permitting and environmental reasons that have since been resolved. China’s Baotou Rare Earth Company was a happy beneficiary of the circumstances and US regulatory excesses.
Now there is hope that common sense will prevail at Mountain Pass, new processing methods will reduce costs and environmental impacts, and exploration may one day be permitted in areas locked up by Cutler & Company. Too many technologies depend on lanthanides to keep US deposits under lock and key.
Radical greens may not give a spotted owl hoot about military needs. But they may care enough about preserving their dream of a hydrocarbon-free future, while a few politicians may want to ensure that tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies for wind and solar power and electric cars don’t all head overseas.
40 Years of Energy Panic
We seem to get all the oil we want at a price we're willing to pay
The scene was a Senate hearing last November, before the Gulf oil spill. To his credit (and unlike a BP exec seated nearby), Shell's Marvin Odum went on about the risk of spills, the history of spills, the response to spills.
Then he launched into a section that began: "The U.S. imports approximately 60% of its petroleum needs. This is not necessary. . . . We should not be satisfied with having other nations produce their energy for our use."
No, our point isn't that fear of foreigners is being used by Big Oil to con us into taking unacceptable environmental risks. If anything, BP's success in recapping the Macondo well suggests that, had a reliable blowout preventer been installed in the first place, BP's numerous errors needn't have resulted in any spill at all. Rather, our point is that the endless invocation of an alleged energy crisis is used to sell deep-water drilling because it's used to sell everything.
Turn on the TV: ethanol, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, coal, offshore drilling, onshore drilling, wind, natural gas. Inflicted on us relentlessly since the 1970s, the most mischievous and misleading trope in American politics is the idea that our energy supplies are in danger, that foreigners are out to get us, that a crisis is upon us.
What exactly has been the record of poor, pitiful us during this time? We seem to get all the oil we want at a price we're willing to pay. For three decades, our economy enjoyed one of its greatest boom periods ever—a boom that ended, ironically, not because of oil shortages, but because of overspending on giant houses far from town by people happily conditioned by the ubiquity and affordability of their energy supplies.
And look at countries even more dependent on oil imports than ours. China and India have inaugurated two of the greatest growth stories in history. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, much of Western Europe—states notorious for a paucity of natural resources—have built among the highest sustained living standards on the globe.
Some confused persons still think we invaded Iraq to get its oil, which would have been like spending a dollar to get a penny. Saddam would have sold us all the oil we wanted (and Kuwait's too) if we had just left him alone.
Now whole careers in the public eye are being built on the idea of peak oil—a geological conceit that produces scenarios of global catastrophe only because it omits the price mechanism, which has worked well for a century to adapt the world economy to whatever amount of oil is geologically available at a given time.
This isn't to say that oil isn't a political problem maker. Villains like Saddam want to steal it. As a fount of domestic patronage, it spoils, corrupts and degrades societies where control is handed to politicians. But for the rest of us, that corruption is mainly visited via policies peddled domestically with a heavy dose of energy panic.
Take the two scandals dogging BP lately. Britain's craven behavior toward a terrorism-sponsoring Libya partly arose from an exaggerated notion of Britain's stake in Libyan oil. The British, like us, have had no trouble buying all the oil they want on world markets.
And, in retrospect, the obvious question raised by the Macondo blowout is why anyone would bet their company by drilling in ultra-deep water where the consequences of a blowout can't quickly and economically be contained.
It turns out that one reason is the now-famous Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which capped oil-spill liability partly out of fears of jeopardizing the nation's energy. Even so, when the bill was debated, shipowners warned that any substantial liability at all might kill the global oil trade.
Well, if not in law then in practice, the cap has been repealed. We'll soon see on what terms shareholders and insurance markets are willing to back the search for oil in deep waters. Guess what? By properly pricing the risks of a deep-water blowout, we're likely to get much safer drilling.
Would that all our energy choices were allowed to work the same way, undistorted by rampant intervention premised on the false notion that the global oil market has proved to be anything other than what it is: robust, reliable, unfailing, if frequently volatile.
Even the greenies might be better off—Americans might be more amenable to modest energy taxes to fight global warming (if that's your cup of tea) if not preached into constant fear of energy shortages. Someday it will behoove a professor to write a book about the greatest failed political marriage of all time—the marriage of the global warming crowd with the energy panic crowd.
Look how little it has achieved despite commanding the airwaves, the media and nearly universal assent from the great and good. Why the marriage failed so abysmally is a question for another day. For now, it suffices simply to notice that it has.
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