Friday, April 22, 2011

If the environmental movement has a high holiday, Earth Day is it

Earth day today and the above heading appeared on the Reuters article below. Carefully unmentioned is the fact that Apr. 22 is also Lenin's birthday. There is no reason to believe that we are looking at a coincidence there. Note the following:
"When I planned the first Earth Day, only one major corporation contributed to our national effort and that one corporation was Arm and Hammer," stated Senator Gaylord Nelson. Armand Hammer (1898 - 1990) owned stock in Arm and Hammer and served on its board of directors. Armand Hammer remains a controversial person because of his close ties to the former Soviet Union and because he won the Order of Lenin once! The Arm and Hammer is also the symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America (SLP).

And the ideology of a small elite controlling all the "fools" is both Communist and Green. So the judgment that Earth say is THE Greenie high holiday is both telling and welcome

I might note how one Leftist deals with that "coincidence". Comedian and "infiltrator" Harmon Leon seems quite serious when he starts out describing the mass-murdering Lenin as "the man who developed the pragmatic Russian application of Marxism". No mention of Lenin's murderous rise to power and his scorn for democracy, of course. Harmon Leon is apparently one of the "San Francisco brights" but his history is obviously very clouded by ideology.

Leon then notes two conservative comments on Earth day:
It's appropriate that the two are celebrated on the same day, because there is no relevant difference between the socialist and environmentalist agendas in this country. Saving the environment is simply a euphemism for eviscerating the rights of property owners and creating a dictatorship.

For many political Leftists, environmentalism is merely a pretext through which private property and capitalism can be regulated, strangled, and finally replaced with totalitarian government ownership of everything. How could they criticize Marxist dictatorships, since their prescription for "healing the world" is socialist dictatorship?

Leon proceeds to ridicule both comments without managing to give a single fact or line of reasoning about why they are wrong. His is thus a very good example of Green/Left reasoning -- i.e. no reasoning at all, just emotional spasms. In conveying conservative critiques to a wider audience, however, he probably does us all a good service.

The annual effort to raise public awareness about the environment and inspire actions to clean it up marks its 41st anniversary on Friday, coinciding with the Christian Good Friday and Judaism's celebration of Passover.

In an effort dubbed "A Billion Acts of Green," organizers are encouraging people to observe Earth Day 2011 by pledging online at to do something small but sustainable in their own lives to improve the planet's health -- from switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs to reducing the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

"Millions of people doing small, individual acts can add up to real change," said Chad Chitwood, a spokesman for the umbrella group coordinating efforts.

There will be hundreds of rallies, workshops and other events around the United States, where Earth Day was born, and hundreds more overseas, where it is now celebrated in 192 countries.

In the United States the activities range from the premiere of the new film from the director of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" (it's called "Revenge of the Electric Car") at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York to a discussion about creating a green economy in 12 cities along the Gulf Coast, where this time last year residents were reeling from the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 the environmentalist movement made great strides with passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and other groundbreaking laws.

But the bipartisanship that marked the birth of Earth Day -- it was sponsored in Congress by a Wisconsin Democrat named Gaylord Nelson and a California Republican named Pete McCloskey -- is often missing in discussions about environmental policy today.

Efforts to fight climate change by regulating greenhouse gases, for instance, face fierce resistance from many Republicans and members of the business community, who dispute the science supporting global warming and warn new rules to regulate emissions will kill jobs and raise energy costs.


An Australian clergyman who should stick to themes he knows something about

"God's vision is threatened by climate change"? Is this guy a Christian at all? He doesn't seem to have much faith in his God. But the "Uniters" are very wishy washy these days. They had real faith when they were Methodists but their gospel these days appears to be a purely social and political one.

My old Presbyterian church stayed out of the "Uniters" and when Anne and I attended there this morning it was the Gospel of salvation only that I heard. To preach anything else on Good Friday is very peculiar Christianity indeed. And it was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland that we had preaching

THE crippling of Japan, the devastation of Christchurch and the floods that ravaged Queensland were not the work of God, church leaders said. But the leader of one of Sydney's three main Christian denominations blamed man for some disasters that caused human suffering.

The Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT, the Reverend Niall Reid, said in his Easter message that climate change was the result of "unsustainable, unfettered and unthinking addiction to economic growth", and those who could not entertain a less destructive path were like those who sent Jesus to the Cross for expediency's sake.

Rising sea levels and more ferocious storms, floods and fires caused by climate change had the potential to threaten food security, exacerbate poverty and create an environment ripe for war, he said.

"God is found in the lives of those who seek remedies and work towards God's vision of a reconciled and renewed creation," he said. "Surely in our time [God's] vision is most threatened by climate change, which the science seems to be telling us is caused by human activity."


Three More Attacks on Civilization

Thank goodness we've got a global marketplace where banned and nearly banned products can be purchased with a click. This is how I obtained a box of Savogran Trisodium Phosphate, which sounds like an explosive but is really just a cleanser that was in every dish-washing soap until last year. It is made of phosphorous, an element from bone ash or urine that was discovered in Germany in the 17th century. It is also the reason that dishwashers once cleaned dishes perfectly, leaving no residue or spots.

Remember the old Calgon commercial that showed food falling off plates and glasses left gleaming at the end of a wash? That was phosphorous at work.

It is still a must in commercial establishments like restaurants and hotels. But 17 states have already banned the product for consumers, causing most all makers of the detergent to remove it from their products, which vastly degraded their value. The detergent makers saw the writing on the wall and this time decided to get out in front of the regulatory machine, anticipating a federal ban before it actually takes place.

Most consumers are clueless as to how sometime in the last year, their dishwashers stopped working properly. They call in the repairman, who fiddles with things and announces a fix. But it is not fixed. The glasses are gritty and the plates often need to be rinsed again after washing. Many households have bought new machines or resorted to just running the dishes through twice.

The creation of phosphorous-free detergent is the real reason. As Jonathan Last explains in the Weekly Standard, the antiphosphate frenzy began in Washington State, which was attempting to comply with a Clean Air Act mandate that a certain river be swimmable and fishable. This was a problem because tests found inordinate amounts of phosphate in the river. As part of the effort to comply, the state banned phosphates from detergents. That was in 2008, but the way politics works these days, the banning spread to state after state - again with the backing of federal law.

Now, it is clear that the law's proponents knew exactly what the results would be. It would increase dishwasher use and even end up leading people to abandon dishwashers altogether, and either solution leads to much more water and energy use. In other words, even by the goofy environmentalists' own standards, this is no savings. It might end up in the reverse.

Studies since the ban have even shown that phosphorous reduction in the Washington State river is entirely due to a new filtering system and, further, that it turns out that the phosphorous in the river was not even a problem in the first place!

Of course the facts don't matter. Our conveniences, like clean plates and the machines that make them so, must be sacrificed to the false gods of environmentalism. One of the great innovations in human history must be reverted because governments are enthralled by the witch doctors of Mother Earth. Thus must mankind take yet another step back on the path of social progress. And to heck with your fetish for clean things!

A similar impulse is driving the new attack on ice makers. Jeffrey Kluger writes in Time Magazine a typically hectoring piece that claims that one way to save the earth is to

buy a couple of ice trays. To the long list of human inventions that are wrecking global climate - the internal combustion engine, the industrial era factory - add the automatic ice maker.
Of course we don't use ice makers for completely arbitrary reasons. It is because it is a pain in the neck to carry a full tray across the room, spill a bit here and there, and then balance it carefully in the freezer. And then when you take it out, your fingers stick to the trays and you have to break the tray and dump the cubes into something and refreeze what you do not use, and then the cubes stick together and so on. That's why we use ice makers.

"Puritans and paranoids work with bureaucrats to unravel all the gains that markets have made for civilization."
But, still, the Department of Energy hates them. And so it has warned all makers of freezers that it will lower the energy-compliance rating of any freezer that keeps them. Or, another way to make a freezer with an ice maker is to degrade the refrigerator and freezer itself, leaving most of the energy use for the ice maker.

This whole model forgets a perfectly obvious point: having an ice maker often means that you have an ice dispenser on the outside of the fridge, meaning that you do not have to open the door to get your ice. This is surely an energy saver. Having to open the freezer far more often only ends up wasting energy, which is another reason for the ice maker in the first place (saves on electrical bills).

Here again, facts don't matter. If there is something you like, something that makes your life better, you can bet that some bureaucrat somewhere has targeted it for destruction. Saving the planet is the most convenient excuse around. Time Magazine would contribute more to "saving the planet" by putting an end to its print publication.

We can see where this is headed. Just as people hoard old toilet tanks and old washing machines that actually use water to wash clothes, so too people will now have to hoard their old refrigerators because they work. We are becoming like the Cubans with their 1950s-model cars, holding on to them for dear life if only to preserve some elements of civilization in the face of government attacks.

Now let's talk drain openers. Everyone knows that the best chemical drain opener is lye, or sodium hydroxide. It is wicked stuff that cuts through grease, hair, or just about anything else. It will burn right through human flesh and leave terrible scarring. But for drains, nothing else compares.

Now that less and less water is flowing through our homes (thanks to regulatory attacks on water use), and the water we use is ever more tepid (thanks to regulatory attacks on hot-water heaters), it is no surprise that clogged drains are ever more common, thus making lye an essential household chemical.

If you can get it. The mainstream hardware stores have stopped carrying the stuff. So have the grocery stores. When I asked around, I thought I would hear stories involving liability for injuries, but no: instead, the excuse is the drug war. It turns out that this stuff is an ingredient in the making of methamphetamine, and hence it too is on the regulatory hit list.

Fortunately you can still buy it through Amazon, but how many people know this? How many people are buying liquid drain openers only to discover that they don't actually work? Surely millions are doing this. So far as I can tell, there is nothing but hush-hush about the strange disappearance of lye-based crystal drain openers from our shelves.

So there we go: we must also live with clogged drains, so that not even the pathetic drizzles of tepid water that come out of our faucets can flow down the drain, and we must stand in pools of bacteria-breeding water as we take our short, cold showers. It's back to the 19th century for all of us!

In these three examples, we can see the model at work: Puritans and paranoids work with bureaucrats to unravel all the gains that markets have made for civilization. And they do this not with persuasion or an attempt to convert us to their primitive faith. Instead, they do it by force, driving us back to the compost pile, the river for cleaning, and, eventually, having to hunt and gather for food that we take back to our caves, which serve as domestic environs for those lucky enough to survive their regime of coerced poverty.


Health and Human Services and that evil Styrene

In late 2009, recently inaugurated President Obama stayed in campaign mode, making trips across the country to promote his $800 billion plus economic stimulus package. The president made one town in particular his ground zero for the economic recovery: Elkhart, Indiana. At the time, Elkhart had the nation's highest unemployment rate, in the neighborhood of 15 percent. Obama visited the town to make a major speech on the stimulus bill and continued to reference the dire situation the town faced as the debate over the stimulus raged, speaking of how the infusion of federal spending would save the town from the brink.

Now, over a year and a half later, Elkhart faces a new crisis driven by the policies of the Obama administration that could wipe out any progress made in the town.
Elkhart is a city that is essentially fueled by a single industry and that industry is the recreational vehicle or RV manufacturing industry. Naturally, this particular area of the commodity market took a beating during the economic down-turn, causing massive layoffs in the town that is home the "RV Hall of Fame" and some of the largest motor home manufacturers in the world.

The newest challenge facing this recovering industry now stems not from rising fuel prices and a flagging economy, but from a regulation proposed by the National Toxicology Program, a program of the Department of Health and Human Services. The issue centers around the chemical called styrene being listed as a candidate for the 12th ROC, or Report on Carcinogens issued by the department. So what does this have to do with RVs?

Modern RVs are made extensively with styrene based composite material parts. Much of the side paneling and other parts, including the various fixtures, such as tub/showers, are made with styrene based composites like resin and fiberglass. These composite parts and materials absolutely require the use of the styrene to be cost effective in their production. Without styrene, these parts could not be made and modern, fuel efficient, RVs would be impossible to produce.

Composite parts are not exclusive to the RV industry. Many industries including the boat/watercraft, tub/shower, construction and infrastructure, and even the wind mill industry depend on styrene based composite parts. The massive wind mill blades advertised in green energy and job stimulation initiatives are almost entirely made of composites that require the use of styrene.

Despite these facts, Obama-appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius is proposing to sign new regulations that would label styrene as a carcinogen, creating incredibly burdensome regulations surrounding the sale and use of the chemical itself and products containing it. This would dramatically increase the cost of U.S. based production of RVs, windmills, and all other products containing composites. These increased costs will likely drive even more windmill production overseas where most of it already exists and would certainly wipe out the only industry that keeps Elkhart alive.

Additionally, an overwhelming majority of the lab studies on the effects of styrene as a cancer causing carcinogen have come back as inconclusive or negative. In fact a lab study on lab rats and mice, found on the National Toxicology Program's own website shows tests of styrene's "Levels of Evidence of Carcinogenicity" as completely non-existent or negative in a majority of categories, and inconclusive in the rest.

Obama has staked much of his rhetoric and policy in the success of green energy initiatives like wind farms, and massive federal spending influxes designed to save single industry towns like Elkhart. Yet the administration continues its aggressive pursuit of new regulations - through HHS, the EPA, and the rest of the bureaucracy - that stifle economic growth. Styrene is essential in producing the composite products that the president has touted as the keys to economic recovery, yet his administration is ready to create a storm of burdensome regulations surrounding a chemical that has never proven to be dangerous; regulations that will surely cost thousands and thousands of American jobs across dozens of industries and all across the country. This is simply another case of bureaucrats and the president getting a little "bureaucrazy".


Natural Scientists and Economics

Don Boudreaux replies to someone who does not like an economically sophisticated paper by Indur Goklany that began: "Despite claims that global warming will reduce human well-being in developing countries, there is no evidence that this is actually happening"

Commenting on this post, Notalawyer writes that he (or she) is seriously concerned about global warming especially because:

"many natural scientists consider this to be a serious and existential problem. Its [sic] entirely possible that global warming could open up more space for human habitation, crop growth etc. But most scientists believe it will have large detrimental effects"

While no one has more respect for the natural sciences than I do, I am not persuaded by Notalawyer's reasoning. Meteorologists, biologists, horticulturists, zoologists, physicists, entomologists, physicians, and other natural scientists are not economists.

While there are some exceptions - Indur Goklany, for example - of natural scientists who understand economics, far too many of them see the world as posing physics or engineering problems rather than as posing economic ones. The two problems are very different from each other.

And the economic way of thinking - studying economic history; pondering the role of entrepreneurship; reflecting on creative destruction; being attuned to the fact that so many social phenomena are the results of human action but not of human design; understanding the fact that market-determined prices both signal important information about resource availabilities and give consumers and producers incentives to change their actions in accordance with changes in resource availabilities - gives economists a different perspective from that of natural scientists on the range of likely economic consequences of climate change. One manifestation of this different perspective offered by economics is that the prospect and possibilities of productive human creativity seem to be more readily grasped by the typical economist than by the typical natural scientist.

Natural-scientists' track record on predicting the economic impact of environmental changes is poor - at least, this is my off-the-cuff sense. Most famously, the scientist Paul Ehrlich has been consistently and magnificently mistaken about the effects of economic and population growth on human well-being. Likewise, Jared Diamond, for all of his undoubted brilliance, fundamentally misconstrues the most basic features of globalization. (See also here.) So, too, the great E.O. Wilson (whose 1994 autobiography Naturalist, I enthusiastically add, is among the most enjoyable of that genre that I've ever read).

Albert Einstein - no slouch when it comes to science - was a terrible economist. [He was in fact a Marxist -- JR]

I don't blame natural scientists for their frequent failures to grasp even basic economics. Each of these scientists is a specialist in his or her own field. It would be as out of place for me to criticize, say, a scientist who specializes in the study of ants for his poor grasp of economics as it would be for the ant-specialist scientist to criticize me for my poor grasp of the biology and behavior of ants. The difference is that I don't fancy that my expertise in economics equips me to speak with any authority at all on ant science or on other natural-science matters....

Here's what my colleague Jim Buchanan wrote in December 1976:

"The principle that exposure to economics should convey is that of the spontaneous coordination which the market achieves..

I recently talked with a prominent economist who mentioned that one of his colleagues had reported having several conversations with the then presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. This colleague passed along his view that Carter was a "good systems analyst," and my friend added, more or less as an afterthought, and "hence, a good economist." I very quickly and very emphatically put him straight, saying that nothing could be further from "the economic point of view," properly interpreted, than that of the systems analyst. Indeed, this is precisely my own fear about Carter, that he is, in fact, a good systems analyst without the remotest understanding of the principle of spontaneous order."


Trying to Avoid Greenie Regulations? The Department of Energy is Not Amused

Last month, the Department of Energy issued a "Showerhead Enforcement Guidance" related to flow standards through consumer showerheads. You see, it turns out that "efficiency standards" tend to upset people, as it usually leads to products being outlawed that people really like.

What happened was that certain showerhead manufacturers were taking a bit of creative license in interpreting the definition of a "showerhead," and selling showerheads that (by the DOE's standards) exceeded the maximum allowable 2.5 gallons per minute.

Sound familiar? The tragedy of low-flow showerheads was brought to light on Seinfeld way back in 1996 (the original regulations were put in place in 1992). Sorry, Kramer, but the Department of Energy is going to force you to keep going to the black market for your high-powered showerhead needs.


I am rather glad that we have no showerhead mandates in Australia but one of the comments from an American reader gave a sane response: "In many "low flow" shower heads, there is a "restrictor" that can easily be removed. If not, judicious use of a drill can be used to increase the flow. Increased flow means less waiting for hot water and subsequently a quicker shower" -- JR

If Warmists were doctors ....

"Step up on the scale, Mr. Naughton."

"Sure, Doctor. I'm looking forward to seeing this myself."

"Let's see... slide this over a bit... hmm, pretty bad. Your weight is up again."

"Uh... Doctor, you mind getting your foot off the scale?"

"Oh, okay."

"So... you want to weigh me again now?"

"Sorry, I've already recorded the results. You can step down now."


"Just as I predicted. Man-made body enlarging. I told you to stop consuming so much animal fat."

"There's nothing wrong with eating-"

"If this keeps up, you'll weigh 650 pounds by the year 2030. It's a looming disaster."

"Doctor, excuse me, but there's no way I'm gaining weight. Look at me. I had to buy a smaller belt last month."

"That's a temporary anomaly. I'm more interested in the long-term trend."

"I've been shrinking for two years now. I've also been eating more animal fat. So it can't be making me fatter. Your theory doesn't hold up."

"Do you weigh more than you did 40 years ago?"

"Yes, I was a skinny runt 40 years ago."

"And did your fat consumption go up during the past 40 years?"

"I was 11 years old 40 years ago! Of course I eat more now."

"Aha! So you agree there's a long-term trend in your body enlargement."

"Those are natural forces at work. I'm pretty sure that's been happening forever."

"But the rate of the enlargement has accelerated. Look at your weight chart. See there? All nice and even for two decades, then it shoots up here at the end. It looks like a hockey stick."

"That chart is bull@#$%!"

"It can't be. I showed it to a bunch of doctors who are friends of mine and they agreed: it looks like a hockey stick. We even wrote a paper about it."

"Look, Doctor, I went through a period in my thirties when I was fatter than I am today, and I wasn't eating animal fat because I was a vegetarian. Now I'm experiencing a thinning trend, even though I eat a lot of fat. So obviously, fat isn't the problem, and that chart is bull."

"I see. So you're a denialist."


"I suppose you don't believe the Holocaust happened either?"

"No! I mean, yes, I believe it happened. There's evidence it happened. But there's no evidence that I'm gaining weight!"

"Who's paying you to say this? The dairy industry? The cattle ranchers?"

"Nobody's paying me! Just use your senses! I'm smaller!"

"This is the worst case of denial I've ever seen. I'm afraid we're going to have to institute a fat-and-trade system. Every time you consume fat, you'll need to pay me a stiff fine. Or you can buy a fat credit from another tubbo who's willing to go without butter for a week. It's the only way to stop you from getting larger."


"Yes, you are. It says so right here in my computer data."

"Let me see that."

"No. I will not have you second-guessing my data. I don't have to show you anything."

"Yes, you do, Doctor. And if you don't, I'll call my lawyer and have him file the papers."

"Damn! I was hoping you didn't know about that law. Now I have to destroy the data."


"Nothing. I didn't say anything."

"Give me that book!"

"Hey! Give that back!"

"Back off, Doctor, or I'll smack you. Let's see . Hey, what's with all the emails and notes?"

"Nothing. Just doctor's notes."

"Nothing, my @##. Look at this: `James - I figured out how to apply Mike's trick of mixing belt-ring data with actual weight measurements to hide Mr. Naughton's mid-thirties fattening period.' What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It doesn't mean anything! `Trick' is a common term in medical research. Give me that back!"

"And here's a coding comment from the guy who designed your computer program. What does he mean, he's having a hard time writing code that produces the results you want?"

"You know . just programmer lingo. That's how they talk."

"And this one: `James - Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues to boycott medical journals that publish articles by doctors who have seen people lose weight on high-fat diets. By the way, please delete this after reading.' And you printed it out? What are you, an idiot?"

"Oh, I see. Already reduced to resorting to attacks on my character, huh?"

"And what's up with this one: `James. The fact is that we cannot account for Mr. Naughton's failure to gain weight in recent years, and it's a travesty that we can't.'"

"Well, uh, you see, the theory is still correct, because uh, I mean it's not like we have anything to hide!"

"Let me get this straight... you wouldn't give me your data, you threatened to destroy your data so I wouldn't see it, your programmer was upset because he was having a hard time producing the data you wanted, you applied `tricks' to your data, and in spite of all that, your colleague thinks it's a travesty that you can't explain why I'm not actually gaining weight. I'd say you were hiding something, Doctor."

"But the theory is still correct! I'm sure of it! To hell with your annoying weight loss."

"No, to hell with you, to hell with your theory, and to hell with your fat-and-trade fines. I'm leaving."

"Don't go outside while you're angry, Mr. Naughton! You'll get heat exhaustion!"

"It's snowing, you moron."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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