Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Great Climate Clash

Dr. Eric Grimsrud and Dr. Ed Berry both live in Flathead County, Montana. As a result of their Letters to the Editor in the Daily Inter Lake, they agreed to conduct an online debate open to the general public. While they live in what many consider a remote part of America, their Climate Clash debate is relevant to all of America even into the Halls of Congress.

Dr. Ed's first post reviewed "The Scientific Method." Dr. Eric followed by suggesting the problem of AGW is too complex for the scientific method. Dr. Ed concludes with his challenge to Dr. Eric:

"A refusal by Dr. Eric to agree to using the Scientific Method as the one and only method for verifying the AGW hypothesis, will be an admission of defeat. This will be clear evidence that AGW is based upon pseudo-science and is a fraud. The debate will be over."

Details here

Ecofascists drop the mask

Three examples

These days, explicit arguments in favor of fascism and the ideology of unlimited state power are, how shall I put this, ineffective at convincing the masses. Though people still adore the fascist ideology of the boundless power of the state and its fusion of public and private business, this is only so long as it is not given its proper name.

These days, people prefer their fascism to be cloaked in disingenuous and deceptive language that disguises its true nature. All those old slogans about the supreme state and the suppression of the individual to the collective are so early 20th century! Far better to have your leaders pay lip service to "freedom" and "human rights" as they coercively mold you into a docile little manikin fit for their desired bureaucratic utopia.

Modern authoritarian movements tend to adopt the strategy of avoiding talking about or even hinting at the coercion they will adopt to deal with those opposed to the supreme rule of the all-powerful state apparatus. They deny that they are fascist movements and instead adopt a slew of fanciful euphemisms for the coercive policies they propose to inflict on their brutalized subjects.

You silly fool! They are not robbing people — they are just "asking them to pay their fair share." They are not micromanaging people's lives — they are just "looking after their health and welfare." They are not silencing dissent — they are just "ensuring tolerance" and fighting "hate." They are not trespassing against private property — they are just "managing the economy." They are not enslaving people — they are just "encouraging volunteerism." Didn't you realize?

Of course, every so often, a modern fascist movement develops such a degree of hubris that it decides to dispense with all the euphemisms and denials and openly display the coercive means underlying its ambitions. After all, surely the poor rubes in the population must have figured it out anyway! Why not just level with them for a moment and have a little chuckle?

For those of you that haven't already heard, the ecofascist movement is currently having a bit of a heart-to-heart with the population of this kind, and they are letting us have a quick peek at the ol' mailed fist under the velvet glove. You see, having achieved all of this wonderful "consensus," they are now ready to drop the mask a little bit, and have a bit of a giggle about the fact that, well yeah, they really are a pretty violent bunch.

Exhibit A: The "No Pressure" Short Film

The new ecofascist short film "No Pressure" created by director Richard Curtis for the 10:10 "carbon reduction"[1] campaign is a beautiful example of the environmentalist movement dropping its pleasant-looking mask and joking about its true authoritarian nature. The film shows several sketches in which supporters of an environmental program to cut carbon-dioxide emissions explode people into a bloody mess when they decline to participate. After telling their hapless targets that there is "no pressure" to take part, the environmental organizers press a magic button, and presto, another dissenter liquidated — literally. The film ends, having murdered eight people (including two children) in four separate sketches, with these ominous words: "Cut your carbon by 10%. No pressure.

The video, which (of course) was funded with money stolen from British taxpayers, has now been removed from its previous home by its creators after some members of the public found the "joke" to be offensive. But the real joke is on the environmentalist movement. The ecofascists are learning the hard way that people do not like to be confronted by the realities of coercion in modern authoritarian ideologies. They want their fascism with nice cuddly slogans, and plenty of euphemisms. Jokes about killing dissenters, it turns out, are only funny when you are not actually touting an authoritarian ideology that uses coercion as its central tool.

Exhibit B: The Greenpeace Skinhead-Thug-in-Training Video

Here is another ecofascist advertisement, this time created by those cuddly loveable fascists at Greenpeace. The video shows an angry and menacing child, dressed up and lighted to look like a young hooded skinhead thug,[2] as he angrily lists a litany of alleged environmental outcomes that will destroy his future, if adults fail to act. After going through the litany of environmentalist propaganda, he tells us, in a menacing tone and with plenty of scowling looks:

"[W]e're not just talking about the future. We're talking about my future. But this is no surprise. You adults have known about this for years. And though you could have done something about it, you haven't. You can say "It's not my problem"; you can say "I won't be around in fifty years"; but from now on, you can't say "I didn't know." Starting today, the lines are drawn: you have to choose sides. Either you're for my future, or you're against it. You're a friend, or you're an enemy. I may just be a kid today, but tomorrow will be different. This is the last time I'll be talking to you adults. You had your chance to fix this problem, now we have ours. We won't be cute, we won't be patronized, we will not be denied our future.

Watching this video, I can't help but think of myself replying in my best talking-to-a-baby voice, saying "What a gorgeous little ecofascist you are! Yes you are! Yes you are!"

But I guess that would be patronizing, and according to the video, this young man will not be patronized. Oh yes, and in case you didn't quite understand the thinly veiled message, he may just be a kid today, but tomorrow, he will be a full-grown ecofascist hoodie-wearing skinhead thug, and you, dear viewer, will be his enemy.[3]

Exhibit C: The "Planet Slayer" Game

Some more ecofascist propaganda, this time designed directly for young children. The Planet Slayer game features, among other things, a cartoon pig game used to calculate carbon-dioxide emissions. It helpfully informs children when they should die in order to ensure they do not use more than their "fair share" of the planet. Other helpful information for children includes some harsh words against "cultural imperialism" (i.e., the free choice of people in other countries to adopt certain products and practices from Western countries) and this helpful instruction: "Organise and socialise comrades. Together we can save the world!"

Like other pieces of ecofascist propaganda, this one was also funded with taxpayer loot, and is also recommended for primary-school teaching by several government education departments. It has now been taken down from its previous home at the government media provider after some parents found its content, hmmm, how shall we put it, less educational than was intended. Again, jokes about exploding children (even in pig form) are only funny when you are not actually touting an authoritarian ideology.

There are plenty of other examples that could be given, though the three present exhibits are probably the most egregious in recent memory. For some reason, they do not make me feel any more inclined to cut my carbon-dioxide emissions or save the world from loggers and nuclear power plants. Nonetheless, all three of these pieces of ecofascist propaganda have something to recommend themselves: they all accurately represent the true nature of the environmentalist movement and draw attention to its love of violence to achieve its aims, even if sometimes in an allegedly light-hearted manner.

It seems that environmentalists are forgetting the lessons of George Orwell, who tells us: "[P]olitical speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. [Brutal policies] can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness".[4]

Indeed, it is precisely this kind of euphemism and cloudy vagueness that most people adore when they are being presented with state-sponsored schemes to save us from all our ills and perils. It is smiley-face fascism they want, and they find it rather tactless to speak about all that nasty coercion stuff that goes along with it.

So don't be offended by these videos, advertisements, and games. Be thankful — thankful that the environmentalist movement is now ready to show us what it really thinks, stripped of all its pleasant euphemisms and ambiguity. Be thankful that they are ready to have a little joke at their own expense and press their own magic red button. Kaboom!


Greenie judge wants to make polar bears 'endangered'

Purely on theory about the future. The bears are thriving in the present

A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.

Sullivan's request, made at a hearing Wednesday in federal court, keeps in place the 2008 declaration by the Bush administration.

Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in May 2008 that the bears were on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice upon which they depend. But he stopped short of declaring them endangered, which had it been declared would have increased protections for the bear and make oil and gas exploration more difficult. Scientists predict sea ice will continue to melt because of global warming.

Along with the listing, Kempthorne created a "special rule" stating that the Endangered Species Act would not be used to set climate policy or limit greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The Obama administration upheld the Bush-era policy, declaring that the endangered species law cannot be used to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by sources outside of the polar bears' habitat. If the bears are found to be endangered, however, that could open the door to using the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Sullivan said he would issue a written order shortly, but said Wednesday that the government is likely to have about 30 days to explain how it arrived at its decision. A lawyer for an environmental group called Sullivan's action "good news for the bear," adding that the popular animal's fate was now in the hands of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

"The court is not accepting the Fish and Wildlife Service argument that extinction must be imminent before the bear is listed as endangered," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based group that challenged the polar bear listing.

Reed Hopper, an attorney for the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation, which opposes protections for the bears, called the ruling disappointing.

"We would have liked to have the case decided earlier," Hopper said, noting that legal challenges have lingered in the courts for two years and probably will be delayed at least several more months. Hopper's group has filed a separate challenge to the polar bear listing, calling the bear a "thriving species" that now numbers about 25,000 from Alaska to Greenland, the highest total in history.

The bear's threatened status is due mainly to projections about declining Arctic sea ice, rather than a current decline in bear populations, Hopper said. A spokeswoman for Salazar would not comment Wednesday. A Fish and Wildlife Service official referred calls to the Justice Department, which also refused to comment.


Green Subsidies: Price Shock For German Electricity Customers

Next year, German households are in for a big price shock: the renewable energies levy, which every household in Germany has to pay as part of their electricity bills, will increase by over 70 per cent to 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This was announced by the German network operator on Friday. For an average household this will mean additional costs of around 10 € a month, according to the Federal Environment Ministry.

An end to the price spiral, which is caused by the subsidies for green electricity, is not in sight. Holger Krawinkel, energy expert of the Federation of Consumer Organizations, expects a further rise of the so-called EEG surcharge in the medium term. “It will rise by more than 5 cents in coming years in any case", Krawinkel predicted in an interview with the news agency DAPD. The reason: The federal government has failed to cut subsidies for solar energy fast and strong enough. Moreover, the impending boom in offshore wind energy is not even included in the green energy levy.

Potentially, there is a small consolation for electricity consumers: the price increase does not necessarily have to be passed on in full to customers. The President of the Federal Network Agency, Matthias Kurth, appealed to utility operators not to pass on the full price increase to consumers. After all, the companies have been benefiting in recent weeks from lower prices (of conventional energy) at the Leipzig Power Exchange.

13 billion euro subsidies

Overall, German consumers will subsidize green electricity through the compulsory green energy levy by around 13 billion euro in 2011. According to the transmission system operators, the reason for the drastic increase is mainly due to the expansion of solar energy panels. The installed photovoltaic systems in the Federal Republic has increased by almost 50 percent in the first eight months of this year. In addition, the lower prices for (conventional) electricity at the Leipzig power exchange further increases the need for subsidies.

The surge of green electricity subsidies has heated up the debate over the future support of wind, solar and biogas plants. Germany’s industry is increasingly overwhelmed by the financial burden. Manfred Panitz of the Federal Association of Energy customers, who primarily represents medium-sized companies, demands an end to green subsidies in face of the price explosion: "The government must abolish the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) or at least put a lid on the development of renewable energies.”

Federal Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen (Christian Democratic Union) defended the green levy against criticism from the industry. "The promotion of renewable energies is an investment in future technologies, which are of crucial strategic importance to our future economic development," said the CDU politician in Berlin.

More HERE (in German). Translation above by Philipp Mueller

The eternal return of overpopulation

Getting the cause of high fertility backwards

Overpopulation panic is back. Concerns about a world too full of “filthy human children” motivated eco-terrorist James Lee when he held employees of the Discovery Channel hostage at gunpoint in September. But the deranged Lee is far from alone when it comes to worrying about overpopulation. The May-June cover of the progressive magazine Mother Jones asked, “Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis?” British journalist Matthew Parris wrote an op-ed in September in the London Times asserting, “If you want to save the planet, stop breeding.” Parris further coyly suggested that we study “China’s example, for lessons good and bad.”

But on World Population Day in July, British journalist Fred Pearce argued that “population is not the problem.” Pearce’s relatively sanguine article at the environmentalist website Grist provoked Robert Walker, former head of the anti-gun group Handgun Control and now executive vice-president of the Population Institute, to respond at the same site with an article titled “Of course population is still a problem.”

Walker asks Pearce what he evidently thinks are deep questions: “Looking ahead, Fred, will these countries [with anticipated population growth in Africa and Asia] be able to feed themselves? Will they have enough safe drinking water? Will their lands be deforested or their rivers polluted? Will their maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates remain unacceptably high? Will they be caught in a demographic poverty trap? Will they become failed states? If you have good answers to these questions, please let me know.”

Let’s take a stab at providing good answers to Walker’s questions.

Will the world be able to feed itself in 2050? As it happens, the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) devoted its September 27 issue to analyzing the issue of global food security through 2050. One of the specially commissioned research articles projects that world population will reach around 9 billion by 2050 and that in the second half of the 21st century, “population stabilization and the onset of a decline are likely.” This should allay Ryerson’s concern that the world’s resources are not infinite and therefore “cannot support an infinite population of humans.” So okay, infinite human population growth isn’t likely, but can the Earth adequately feed 9 billion people by 2050?

Well, yes, suggest two other of the Royal Society articles. A review of the relevant scientific literature led by Keith Jaggard from Rothamsted Research looks at the effects of climate change, CO2 increases, ozone pollution, higher average temperatures, and other factors on future crop production. Jaggard and his colleagues conclude [PDF], “So long as plant breeding efforts are not hampered and modern agricultural technology continues to be available to farmers, it should be possible to produce yield increases that are large enough to meet some of the predictions of world food needs, even without having to devote more land to arable agriculture.”

Applying modern agricultural technologies more widely would go a long way toward boosting yields. For example, University of Minnesota biologist Ronald Phillips points out that India produces 31 bushels of corn per acre now which is at the same point U.S. yields were in the 1930s. Similarly, South Africa produces 40 bushels (U.S. 1940s yields); Brazil 58 bushels (U.S. 1950s yields); China 85 bushels (U.S. 1960s yields). Today’s modern biotech hybrids regularly produce more than 160 bushels of corn per acre in the Midwest. For what it’s worth, the corporate agriculture giant Monsanto is aiming to double yields on corn, soybeans, and cotton by 2030. Whether or not specific countries will be able to feed themselves has less to do with their population growth than it does with whether they adopt policies that retard their economic growth.

Another article looking at the role of agricultural research and development finds that crop yields have been recently increasing at about 1 percent per year. In that article researchers estimate that spending an additional $5 to $10 billion per year would increase food output by 70 percent over the next 40 years. Note that world population is expected to increase by about 33 percent over that period.

What about safe drinking water? Water is more problematic. The researchers commissioned by the Royal Society run a model that projects that competition for water to meet environmental flow requirements (EFRs) and municipal and industrial demand will “cause an 18 percent reduction if the availability of water worldwide for agriculture by 2050.” Interestingly, the amount of freshwater withdrawn for municipal and industrial use was 4.3 percent in 2000 and is estimated to increase to 5.9 percent by 2050. So the main competition for agricultural water is maintaining flows for environmental reasons. Since water is now often unpriced and subsidized, it gets used very inefficiently. As water becomes scarcer farmers and other users will have incentives to adopt water sparing techniques, such as drip irrigation. In addition, researchers are close to developing drought tolerant crops. The study also notes that water stressed regions will be able to “import water” in the form of food produced in areas with abundant water.

With regard to deforestation and polluted rivers, the answer is probably yes for many of the poorest countries. However, speeding up economic growth and technological improvements will dramatically lower the risks of these undesirable outcomes. As noted above, enough food to feed 9 billion can be grown on land currently devoted to agriculture.

With regard to water pollution, it is one of the first environmental problems that poor countries begin to clean up as they grow wealthier. A recent study found that in every country where average annual per capita income exceeds $4,600 forests are stable or increasing [PDF]. In addition, technological progress offers the possibility that humanity will increasingly reduce its future demands on nature by a process of dematerialization [PDF], that is, obtaining more value while using less material.

Maternal mortality rates have fallen substantially—from 422 per 100,000 live births to 251 per 100,000 live births—over the past 30 years, according to a study published in The Lancet this past April. Sadly, the study noted, “More than 50% of all maternal deaths were in only six countries in 2008 (India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).” Oddly, some activists opposed the publication of The Lancet article, fearing that the good news would stifle their fundraising. The world’s infant mortality rate has never been lower. Most countries, even very poor countries, continue to experience declines in infant mortality.

Walker’s last two questions about poverty traps and failed states are related, but not in a way that supports his implied points. As Wheaton College economist Seth Norton explains, "Fertility rate is highest for those countries that have little economic freedom and little respect for the rule of law.” He adds, "The relationship is a powerful one. Fertility rates are more than twice as high in countries with low levels of economic freedom and the rule of law compared to countries with high levels of those measures."

Fertility rates are high in failed states like Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Yemen, because of the lack of rule of law which inexorably generates poverty. Norton persuasively argues that such places are so chaotic that it’s like living in giant open access commons. In those cases people often reason that more children means more hands for grabbing unowned and unprotected resources for the family. Such anarchic places would be particularly ill-suited to implementing the kind of population control policies Walker favors.

According to research published by the Royal Society, it looks as though the world will be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050, perhaps even allowing some farmland to revert to nature. Water is a problem, but economic and technological solutions show promise in ameliorating it. But more importantly, Walker and other overpopulationists get the causality backwards. Poverty is the cause and high fertility is the symptom. Poverty traps and failed states which result in high maternal death rates, starvation, pollution, and deforestation are not created by population, but by bad policies. Working to spread economic freedom and political liberty is a lot harder than self-righteously blaming poor people for breeding too much. But it's the only real option.


Australia: Another "Green jobs" bungle hurts those who took a Green/Left government at its word

A BRISBANE war veteran has been forced to sell his service medals after almost losing his livelihood in the Federal Government's bungled Green Loans Program.

Robert Rice, who served in Afghanistan and Bougainville, received his Green Loans assessors' accreditation two days before the scheme was radically altered before finally being axed.

"The Government was crapping on about how we've got to get it sorted out, so I basically waited like all the other assessors and later on they came back and said all the Green Loans (were) gone," he told The Courier-Mail.

Mr Rice, 44, said the debacle cost him the $3000 training fee and an estimated $45,000 in lost wages because he rejected other work in anticipation of the scheme taking off. He sold his service medals to help recover some of his losses. "It was really tough," Mr Rice said.

The troubled $174.4 million rollout was shut down in July but no compensation has been provided for the thousands of assessors left out of pocket. "The way the Government handled it was absolutely disgraceful," Mr Rice said.

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt has written to Climate Change Minister Greg Combet seeking "justice" for Mr Rice, saying he was a "casualty of Labor's incompetence".

"He's been forced into a fire-sale of his service medals after the Government's bungling of the Green Loans scheme," he said. "In the very week Parliament is debating the importance of the work of our soldiers in Afghanistan, the treatment of Mr Rice is just inexcusable."

The Auditor-General last month found "significant failings" in the scheme, set up to provide free energy assessments, and loans to encourage homeowners to install energy-efficient products. A Senate inquiry into the scheme is due to report next week.



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


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