Sunday, April 22, 2012

Is the current system "broken"?

The self-appointed wise men below say that it is but that assumes that the  system was at some time "whole".  So who broke it?  They do not say so explicitly but it's an easy guess that they mean mankind.

They point out many things that are not ideal in the world and it  is certainly true that  many things are not ideal --  but what those things  are depends on your ideals.  I for instance know someone who said that AIDS made him believe in God.  He said:   "Something that just kills homos, blacks and druggies!  What more could you ask?"

I don't subscribe to that view, in part because I am an atheist but I quoted that to show that ideals can vary.  And, as Jonathan Haidt points out, it is the clash of ideals that we have to deal with in politics.  Declaring something "broken" is just a lazy way of avoiding serious discussion and responsible compromise.  But it seems to be exciting some erectile tissue below:

Seventeen top scientists and four acclaimed conservation organizations have called for radical action to create a better world for this and future generations. Compiled by 21 past winners of the prestigious Blue Planet Prize, a new paper recommends solutions for some of the world's most pressing problems including climate change, poverty, and mass extinction. The paper, entitled Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act, was recently presented at the UN Environment Program governing council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Blue Planet Prize is given for "outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application that have helped provide solutions to global environmental problems." Dubbed by some as the Nobel Prize for the environment, award winners have included such luminaries as environmentalist James Lovelock, biologist Paul Ehrlich, physicist Amory Lovins, economist Nicholas Stern, and climatologist James Hansen, all of whom have contributed to the report.

"The current system is broken," said climatologist Bob Watson, a Blue Planet winner in 2010 and the instigator of the report. "It is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5 degrees Celsius warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self. We cannot assume that technological fixes will come fast enough. Instead we need human solutions. The good news is that they exist but decision makers must be bold and forward thinking to seize them."

For their part, the Blue Planet laureates call on the world to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, switch out GDP (gross domestic product) for a more holistic measure of national well-being, decouple environmental destruction from consumption, drop subsidies for fossil fuels and environmentally destructive agricultural practices, put a market value on biodiversity and ecosystem services, work with grassroots movements to create bottom-up action, and finally address overpopulation.

"If we are to achieve our dream, the time to act is now, given the inertia in the socio-economic system, and that the adverse effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity cannot be reversed for centuries or are irreversible," the authors write.

Declaring that "the system is broken and our current pathway will not realize [the dream of a better world]" the authors point out that "civilization is faced with a perfect storm of problems driven by overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich, the use of environmentally malign technologies, and gross inequalities." Worsening the situation, according to the scientists and environmentalists, is the dangerous "myth" that "physical economies can grow forever."


Earth Day 2012: A Cloaked Celebration of Statism

Each year on April 22, Americans celebrate Earth Day. While the “holiday” is dressed up as a day to preserve the Earth, it serves little more as a day to attack the benefits of capitalism and modern society. Does anyone really know what Earth Day is all about?

Not only is April 22 Earth Day, it is also the Birthday of Vladimir Lenin and the National Day of Communism in the U.S.S.R.. Obviously, the latter holidays are less celebrated, but consider that through Earth Day, the spirit of those days lives on.

If you need to be persuaded, consider what Alexander Marriott wrote in Capitalism Magazine about the similarities between a Communist holiday and Earth Day:

Think of the parallels between Lenin and environmentalists. Lenin once said that, “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.” Environmentalists second this wholeheartedly when they restrict the ownership and control of private property through the guise of saving the environment. The Endangered Species Act is used voluminously to take the property of anyone if an endangered species is living on it. President Clinton cordoned off thousands upon thousands of acres of land in the form of national parks with the alleged concern of saving the natural resources thereon from development. The federal government now controls nearly forty percent of all land in the continental United States. Lenin’s goal was to destroy private property and this goal is obviously shared by environmentalists.

Marriott is exactly right. The parallels between these holidays are undeniable. And remember, the people that created these holidays share the same worldview as the communists of Soviet Russia. The green zealots of today are nothing more than thieves of private property and promoters of irresponsible government and the regulations that come along with that.

The whole notion of Earth Day centers around spitting on the successes of capitalism, chiefly the goods and services that make life easier and even make life longer.

So I would ask those that celebrate Earth Day to think about these things that they condemn through their annual day of protest.

If you celebrate Earth Day this year, please remember that with the creation of the automobile, you are able to travel efficiently and in a cleaner and safer fashion than our ancestors who used horses. Also, remember that because of washing machines and driers, our clothes are clean and pleasant to those around us while keeping dangerous bacteria away. And, don’t forget, because of modern plumbing, we have cleaner living situations and disease is much less prominent.

It is because of modern innovation that we have much more efficient, and health preserving, products to use. It is not through government controls that we are better off, rather, it is through the entrepreneurial spirit that drives us towards more efficient products and machines that allows us to live in a cleaner society than that of our ancestors. Green zealots and other statists that promote Earth Day would rather remove these efficiencies and send us back to the days of cholera outbreaks and the bubonic plague, where such modern precautionary conveniences, which the greens and statists despise, did not exist.


Some environmental follies perpetrated by the U.S. government

A list for  Earth day

1. Coal

We’ll start with this current administration’s war on coal — one of the main sources of electricity here in the U.S. Unfortunately, this industry now faces huge burdens and regulations from the EPA. Some of these new rules include capping carbon emissions on power plants, and forcing them to employ prohibitively expensive technology to capture the emissions. Another rule, which seems to attempt to edge out the coal industry from America, forces mountain top mining to adhere to near-impossible rules set by the Clean Water Act.  With 45 percent of the U.S. dependent on electric energy from coal perhaps the Obama administration should listen to his speeches where he declares support for an all-of-the-above energy strategy rather than continuing to pursue its war on coal.

2. Oceans and Great Lakes

President Obama is moving full-speed ahead on his Executive Order “Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes,” which he put into order on July 19, 2010. The White House claims this Executive Order, “strengthens ocean governance and coordination, establishes guiding principles for ocean management, and adopts a flexible framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes.” But the truth is this is nothing more than an absurd power grab by the Obama administration.  To control the country’s lakes, oceans and coastlands by issuing strict usage regulations and restrictions will only hurt such livelihoods as farming, fishing and logging.

3. Volt

The infamous Chevy Volt — known to catch fire, yet comes with a tax credit, so it’s OK right? Well, sure, if you don’t mind waiting about 27 years for the hybrid vehicle to finally pay for itself.  From the New York Times, “The Volt, which cost nearly $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, could take up to 27 years to pay off.” No wonder sales on this once-touted, and taxpayer-supported, vehicle of the future have stalled.

4. Solyndra

This is an example of one of many bad investments made by this administration that went belly up. After receiving a $535 million U.S. taxpayer loan, California-based solar panel company Solyndra went bankrupt — taking all of that $535 million with it. But don’t worry, those employees of Solyndra were taken care of again by taxpayers — receiving another $13,000 each beyond their unemployment benefits through the Trade Adjustment Authority provisions. You can thank the U.S. Labor Department for that last handout.

5. Central Valley, Calif.

Also known as the salad bowl of the nation.  Agricultural production in the area accounts for $26 billion in total sales and 38 percent of the Valley’s labor force.  Farmers grow more than half the nation’s vegetables, fruits and nuts. But in order for these products to grow, the Central Valley needs water — and the past few years the government has been withholding that vital resource. The reason: to protect a three-inch fish called the delta smelt and other salmon species.  Meanwhile, since farmers don’t know one year to the next how much water they will receive, they must make the difficult decision of what to plant and what once-productive farmlands to leave fallow.  This does nothing but leave this region with some of the highest unemployment in the nation, destroying livelihoods and families.  Ironically, there is no evidence that depriving water to the farmers actually does anything to save the fish.

6. Logging industry/barred owls

Who would have thought a breed of owl could downsize the entire logging industry in the northwestern part of the U.S.?  Well, it has, with the help of the government of course. The Northern spotted owl was once thought to only be able to survive in old forests, overgrown and unmaintained.  So when it became an endangered species in 1990, and even before, great cutbacks were made in the logging industry throughout California, Oregon and Washington states.  Ironically, the Obama administration recently admitted that the owl still hasn’t made a comeback and so has decided to kill the more dominant owl species, the barred owl, in hopes of rejuvenating the spotted owl’s population. But in the midst of all this, the livelihoods of those people and communities that depended on the timber industry were crushed under the government’s heavy environmental hand.

7. Tombstone, Ariz.

“The Town Too Tough To Die” is in a heated duel with the U.S. Forest Service.  In 2011, the Monument Fire ripped through the Huachuca Mountains in Arizona — land belonging to the U.S. Forest Service.  Following the fire, floods and torrential mudslides destroyed mountain spring water lines to the town of Tombstone. Approximately one year later, Tombstone is still unable to fix its water lines, affecting 1,500 residents and more than 400,000 annual visitors. Due to the location of the springs being on a government wild land area, Tombstone residents cannot use the heavy machinery necessary to fix its water supply—Forest Service rules won’t allow it. Never mind that a significant level of arsenic, an element heavily regulated by the EPA due to health risks, is seeping into their water lines poisoning the residents. So far all the residents of Tombstone have been able to do is file a lawsuit against the Forest Service.

8. Keystone XL pipeline

Remember this statement by Obama after he rejected the Keystone pipeline: “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.”  Though this administration had plenty of time for reviewing the pipeline, after all, it was not a new idea, they still rejected it. In fact, the State Department stated the pipeline would likely create about 6,000 jobs, which some say is a relatively low estimate. You’re right, Mr. President, one more pipeline on top of the nearly 2 million we already have in the U.S. safely delivering natural gas and petroleum every year, would have been one too many.

9. Oil

About a year ago, President Obama said, “We have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We’re running out of places to drill. We’re running out of oil. We need to end our $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to oil companies. We need to invest in clean, renewable energy.”  What he really meant: “We are running out of places where I will allow drilling.” Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico continues to drop despite the president promising new permits.  He rejected the Keystone pipeline and won’t advance oil production in Alaska.  In fact, while oil and gas production has increased dramatically on non-federal government controlled lands, it has dropped in those areas controlled by the Obama Administration.  The oil and gas industry in the U.S. support 9.2 million jobs and generates federal revenues.  Sounds like an industry that needs to grow rather than be slowly wiped out.

10. Renewable energy

Solar, wind and biofuel are all critical to Obama’s energy policy.  About 8 percent of all energy consumed in the United States in 2010 was from renewable sources, and they account for about 10 percent of the nation’s total electricity production.  In 2009, Obama’s stimulus package included about $100 billion to invest in green energy.   And ever since, all forms of renewable energy still need taxpayer funds to stay afloat.  Investing in tomorrow’s energy hasn’t been a smooth process; the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.  Unfortunately taxpayers are paying for these many “green” blunders.  However, if no renewals of subsidies are given to these industries they will begin to phase out until the markets and consumers begin to demand them.


Hippie Earth Day!

In 1970, a senator from Wisconsin by the name of Gaylord Nelson invented a holiday to celebrate all of nature’s wonders, now known to the world as Earth Day, and celebrated each year on April 22.

Throughout the years it has become a day for reminding those Americans who dare to drive non-hybrid SUV’s or refuse to install cumbersome solar panels on their roofs they are endangering the welfare of the planet.

Major cities across the country, including New York and our very own Washington, D.C. host festivals to celebrate this “green” day, drawing crowds of crazed, dirty, patchouli oil-scented activists from all corners. Anyone who has not gone through twelve steps to reduce their carbon footprint is identified as the enemy, and rallies often break out in defense of Mother Earth.

But hold on, does this really need to be classified as a holiday? A day to celebrate grass, trees and flowers as if they are doing something extraordinary for us?

Yes, they provide lots of things that are essential to our survival, however it is not as if they are sacrificing their lives to do so. They are simply doing what they are programmed to do, as simple organisms. The trees in the Amazon rainforest did not give up their dreams of being on American Idol to stand in South America and release oxygen…they just did it. They’re trees, and that is what their sole purpose is.

Holidays, at least in America, are special points during our calendar year where we celebrate something, whether it be a religious figure, an occasion or a particular person who has made an indelible mark on our country’s history. As far as I am aware, no plant or animal has ever been president, ended a war, fought for civil rights or risked its life to defend our liberty.

And if there are any tree huggers out there who think that in fact trees do have dreams and feelings and are in fact sacrificing them for our benefit, then perhaps you should see a doctor.

One odd fact about the inventor of this meaningless holiday is that he is from Wisconsin, not known for being an extremist state. After creating something like this, that would grow to gain popularity from hemp-lovers everywhere, one would think they would hail from a Haight Ashbury-type commune. A place where the concepts of “reality” and “logic” are a bit blurred.

Senator Nelson simply wanted to pay homage to his environmentalist passions, and to teach others to give thanks to nature and conserve its beauty by protecting it from abuse.

So on this April 22, remember to go outside, get some fresh air, and thank your local foliage for providing you with oxygen, but please don’t worship it.


Green Bureaucrats Nix US Timber, Common Plastic in New Plan

The U.S. Green Building Council has begun floating a series of progressive amendments to its building certification program, stirring controversy within the construction, forestry and chemical industries that warn the proposal is radical environmentalism masquerading as reasonable regulation.

The proposed changes to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, administered by the private USGBC group but since adopted by the federal government, disallows the use of over 75 percent of America’s certified forests and the third most commonly produced plastic worldwide.

A building must cross varying green thresholds — accruing credits through an exhaustive review of sustainability, water efficiency, energy and materials — to earn one of the program’s four accreditation levels. As written, the four new accreditation levels will bar the usage of products containing Polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, or lumber sourced from over three-fourths of American certified forests.

In a preferential nod to one forestry certification group, LEED stipulates that credits will be awarded for the “responsible extraction of raw materials” that qualify as “[Forest Stewardship Council] or better.”

Unlike other green building rating tools like Green Globes and the National Green Building standard that recognize all forest certification standards, LEED’s critics say the insistence on FSC-certified forests or the undefined “better” baseline has erected an artificial and ambiguous barrier to American timber.

“‘FSC or better’ is neither logical nor scientific,” Michael Goergen Jr., executive vice president and CEO of the Society of American Foresters, said of the decision. “Especially when it continues to reinforce misconceptions about third-party forest certification and responsible forest practices.”

But whereas industry forces acquiesced to the technical provisions in earlier models, the proposal to ban products containing PVC has put on edge the construction and chemical industries.

The effective banning of the third most widely-produced and consumed plastic worldwide means a tremendous, new burden on the industrial and construction sectors, as the pair will be forced to use other, more expensive alternatives whose own environmental merits are ambiguous by the government’s own account.

While the outright banning of PVC has been a goal of the environmental lobby for some time — GreenPeace has a campaign to “phase out this poison plastic” — USGBC’s assent, some say, runs counter to the group’s long-held posture towards the chemical.

A 2007 study by the USGBC revealed PVC outperformed a number of still-approved alternative materials in ecotoxicity, eco depletion and contribution to climate change. Specifically, the report found:

“PVC performs better than some alternatives studied for window frames, siding, and drain-waste-vent pipe;”

“Relative to the environmental impact categories (acidification, eutrophication, ecotoxicity, smog, ozone depletion and global climate change), PVC performs better than several material alternatives studied;”

“If buyers switched from PVC to aluminum window frames, to aluminum siding, or to cast iron pipe, it could be worse than using PVC;”

“The evidence indicates that a credit that rewards avoidance of PVC could steer decision makers toward using materials that are worse on most environment impacts.”

The USGBC must “develop guidelines for approval of innovation credits that move the industry forward,” the report advised. “Recognizing that there are many possible ways to address this challenge, the capabilities and motivation of the marketplace should be engaged as a resource.”

So much for that.

Yet some say the radical bent is not particularly surprising, considering the environment-as-religion disposition of LEED’s founder, Robert Watson.

Once the chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change until it was reported he began “advocating more openly for global climate change policy, rather than just assessing the science,” Watson famously said that “buildings are literally the worst thing that humans do to the planet.”

Others point to what they call an unseemly kinship with the federal government, which they say has largely preserved the certification program’s revered status globally.

Government officials in the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages the functioning of other federal agencies and bureaus, have mandated all federally-owned facilities be built to LEED’s Gold specifications, the second highest certification the USGBC offers. GSA officials announced earlier this year it had enrolled 50 additional existing properties in the program. (Nearly 19 million square feet is LEED-certified in the District of Columbia.)

Sometime later this year, the agency will begin considering adopting LEED 2012.

That the GSA, whose own judgment has been impeached in the wake of its lavish government-sponsored conference in Las Vegas, was tasked by the White House to consider implementing these new regulations is enough to give pause to sensible government-watchers.

If these high-roller bureaucrats apply the same poor judgement here, their decision will effectively ban American timber and PVC for the federal government. Private industry, of course, will take cold comfort in the knowledge that government bureaucrats will likewise be handicapped by terrible regulations.


Australia:  Windfarm revolt

A DEAD wedge-tailed eagle, chicken eggs without yolks and a dysfunctional village with residents bursting to flee. This is the clean-energy revolution Waterloo-style, where the nation's biggest wind turbines have whipped up a storm of dissent.

Adelaide University has been drawn into a controversy that threatens to spin out of control after one of its masters students asked residents of Waterloo, 120km north of Adelaide, what they really thought about living near windmills and was knocked over in an avalanche of complaint.

Yesterday, a South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage officer collected the remains of a juvenile wedge-tailed eagle from the base of one of the Waterloo wind farm turbine towers. He said it would be X-rayed and examined to establish the cause of death.

It may help to explain why, according to one local ranger, three wedge-tailed eagle nesting areas identified before the turbines began to operate 18 months ago are no longer active.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources district manager Ian Falkenberg said initial observations of the eagle remains showed a punctured skull and major fractures of the right wing, including a significant break about three inches from the shoulder.

GPS readings showed the remains were located 180m from the base of the tower.

Mr Falkenberg said eagles in the mid-north of South Australia were in lower numbers than in other parts of the state and considered "vulnerable" at a regional assessment level.  He said prior to the wind turbines at Waterloo, there were three eagle territories but was not aware of any of those territories now being active.

According to wind farm operator TRUenergy, there are still active wedge-tailed eagle populations in the hills.  TRUenergy spokeswoman Sarah Stent said: "Eagle monitoring on site of resident population today shows no decrease in bird numbers."

TRUenergy acquired the Waterloo wind farm last year and has announced a $40 million expansion. It is also planning a wind farm development at Stony Gap. The company insists it has broad community support and certainly the strong backing of the SA government.

Waterloo has become a hotbed of concern among locals, many of whom claim to be suffering ill-effects from the wind turbine development.  They want independent noise measuring and for Senate inquiry recommendations for research into the impact of low frequency noise to be adopted. Some want to be relocated and many want the wind turbines to be turned off at night.

Village resident Neil Daws is concerned his chickens have been laying eggs with no yolks.

Ironically called wind eggs, the yolkless eggs can be explained without wind turbines.  But together with a spike in sheep deformities, also not necessarily connected to wind, reports of erratic behaviour by farm dogs and an exodus of residents complaining of ill health, Waterloo is a case study of the emotional conflict being wrought by the rollout of industrial wind power.

When Adelaide University masters student Frank Wang surveyed residents within a 5km radius of the Waterloo wind turbines he found 70 per cent of respondents claimed they had been negatively affected by the wind development and the noise, with more than 50 per cent having been very or moderately negatively affected.

Mr Wang is concerned that a summary of his results was leaked before it could be peer-reviewed.

Adelaide University vice-chancellor Michael Head has written to TRUenergy in response to company concerns about publication of the summary. "I have looked into this matter and found that the study in question was undertaken by a student as part of a minor thesis for his masters by coursework," Professor Head said. "This was entirely the student's own project and not undertaken for or on behalf of the university."

A university spokesperson said the survey was overseen by a senior lecturer and approved by the University's Human Research Ethics Committee.  "There is clearly a need for further research that considers all aspects of wind farms and their impact on the community," the spokesperson said.

Mr Wang told The Weekend Australian the university had been supportive of his research.  "Yes, definitely," he said. "My supervisor helped me to choose this topic."

Mr Wang said he was not willing to release his research publicly until after academic peer reviews.

Ms Stent said TRUenergy was not able to judge if Mr Wang's results were a fair representation of community sentiment in Waterloo.  "It is not our view that the majority of the population is opposed to the wind farm nor dissatisfied with our approach to community engagement," she said.



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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