Sunday, February 24, 2013

Open Fascism:   Democracy should be replaced by 'elite warrior leadership' in order to fight global warming

The world is full of envirofundamentalist doomsday prophets, who paint a grim picture of what is ahead for humanity. Few are however as candid as the two Australians, professor emeritus of medicine David Shearman and philosopher and ecologist Joseph Wayne Smith, who openly attack the liberal democratic system, which they think should be replaced by an authoritarian "elite warrior leadership".

This is what the two "warriors" have to say in the foreword of their book 'The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy':

"We have known about these impending problems for several decades. Each year the certainty of the science has increased, yet we have failed to act appropriately to the threat. We have analyzed the reasons for this indolence. This understanding will lead you to ask yourself if Western civilization can survive in its present state of prosperity, health, and well-being, or will it soon suffer the fate of all previous civilizations—to become a mere page in history?

We will demand from you the reader, far more than your comprehension of the consequences of climate change and the workings of democracy. You will need to examine the limits of your introspection and the motivation bestowed upon you by biology and culture. The questions to be asked are difficult. You have a commitment to your children, but are you committed to the well-being of future generations and those you may never see, such as your great-grandchildren? If so are you prepared to change your lifestyle now? Are you prepared to see society and its governance change if this is a necessary solution?"

Chapters 6 and 7 demonstrate...

"that the inherent failures of democracy that have lead to the environmental crisis also operate in many other spheres of society. They are inherent to the operation of democracy. Furthermore, we come to share Plato’s conclusion that democracy is inherently contradictory and leads naturally to authoritarianism.

In chapters 8 and 9 we argue that authoritarianism is the natural state of humanity, and it may be better to choose our elites rather than have them imposed. Indeed Plato, on seeing the sequelae of democracy’s birth, observed that it is better that the just and wise should rule unwillingly, rather than those who actually want power should have it. We analyze authoritarian structures and their operation ranging from the medical intensive care unit and the Roman Catholic Church to corporatism with the conclusion that the crisis is best countered by developing authoritarian government using some of the fabric of these existing structures. The education and values of the new “elite warrior leadership” who will battle for the future of the earth is described."

The authors do not - at least not in the foreword - say, what will happen to the global warming    'deniers' in their brave new world. However, the Gulags of Stalin and Mao should serve as good models ...


Managing Human Wildlife

The National Wildlife Federation regards human beings as just another form of wildlife to be managed.

A year ago this month, the US National Wildlife Federation published a curious, 60-page document titled The Psychological Effects of Global Warming, And why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is not Adequately Prepared.

Yes, that’s right. Wildlife activists devoting time and money to writing reports about mental health. Climate change sure does odd things to people.

The tone of this report is amateurish and the logic is strained. For example, the word “suicide” appears 29 times and particular attention is paid to suicides by armed forces personnel. We’re told that America should embrace “alternate renewable sources of energy” for the sake of its military, and that
Our national need to put these young people in harm’s way would also decline if we were simply more energy efficient. How will we answer these service members’ questions about why we didn’t work harder at fixing this problem?

As if a wildlife group writing about mental health wasn’t silly enough, these people also believe they’re in the business of promoting “social justice.” The preface to the report tells us its purpose is to raise awareness:
by exposing the emotional side of the issue, to find the place in our hearts that mobilizes us to fly into action, forewarned, determined, relentless. It also is a call for professionals in the mental health fields to focus on this, the social justice issue of all times… [bold added]

Elsewhere, the report compares climate change to child abuse:
We must ask…if the call for climate change action is any less compelling than stopping child abuse or protecting the sick. In the final analysis inflicting the burden of climate change on the vulnerable is an immoral act that puts future generations in mortal danger. [bold added; page xiii]

The authors of this report believe that those with psychological training should be using this training to produce politically correct outcomes. For example, page 31 declares:
The discipline of psychology can be used to uncover what the barriers are to reducing our carbon footprint and adopting a green lifestyle.

The following page says:
We need people to learn about and support positive steps at home and in their communities in order to lower carbon footprints.

Indeed, from the perspective of the National Wildlife Federation, we humans are just another form of wildlife to be managed. Members of the public aren’t presented as voters capable of making up their own minds. The public isn’t viewed as the final authority to whom politicians must answer.  Instead, we’re errant children who require shepherding. Thus, the report declares that:
America’s leaders should be trained to use the most persuasive educational tools to influence people to change and to sustain their changes. [p. xiii]

Similarly, businesses are urged to
present environmentally sound products that will steer the consumer to make ethical purchases. [bold added, p. 34]

And then there’s the downright offensive. According to this report, poor people
need professionals and the mental health care community to help them voice their outrage. [p. 34]


Climate evangetist Borenstein wrong to say winters are getting warmer

By Larry Hamlin, retired Southern California Edison vice president of power production, former state energy construction czar

In the article, “Less snow, more blizzards may be in store” [News, Feb. 10], Seth Borenstein, again, uses erroneous information and results from unvalidated climate models to mischaracterize recent weather events occurring in the U.S.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration empirical temperature data shows that U.S. winters have cooled in the past 15 years in all nine U.S. climate regions. Thus, Borenstein’s most basic and fundamental premise, that global warming makes winters warmer, is wrong, based on reviewing actual temperature data.

North America snow extent empirical data from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab for the fall, winter and spring seasons from 1967 through 2012 show virtually no change in total snowfall during this period. Thus, again, one of the article’s most fundamental claims, that global warming results in less snow, is wrong, based on reviewing actual snowfall data records.

Borenstein also claims that global warming results in more winter storms but NOAA winter storm data clearly shows increased storms during cooler periods, which is the opposite of Borenstein’s claims.

The number of winter storms in the past decade is consistent with the number of storms that occurred in the cooler-winter decade of the 1960s versus the fewer number of storms that occurred in the warmer-winter decades of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

This article, unfortunately, is another example of climate alarmists making unfounded claims that are easily refuted using empirical data. Further, the article relies on results from unvalidated climate models whose “projections” are based on unproven assumptions of man-made links to climate change.


Shock!  SciAm allows some doubt


Although extreme weather events, from the creeping drought that scorched last year's corn crop to Superstorm Sandy, are worrisome, automatically and simplistically tying them to the scientific phenomenon of climate change could be misleading.

Last year's drought in Texas, for example, could not be specifically tied to climate change, said John Nielsen-Gammon, the Lone Star State's climatologist. Over the past century there has been an increase in rainfall -- not a tendency toward dryness -- over most of Texas by about 10 percent.

"Changing climate has not contributed to the lack of rainfall over the long term, as of yet," he said. Last year's drought, much like the famed Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s and another significant drought in the 1950s, is tied to rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean -- the weather event known as la Niña.

"Until we see a long-term decrease in rainfall in Texas, it will be hard to say that climate change has caused a decrease," Nielsen-Gammon said.

Temperatures have risen in Texas, meaning the increased rainfall is being evaporated at a more rapid rate, he added. But for the drought, which continues to seize more than half of the lower 48 states, heat was a drought accelerant but not the main cause.


Keystone pipeline is the key to the future

Everything we will ever need to know about the Obama Administration may come down to a single decision. And that is whether Obama, along with newly sworn in Secretary of State John Kerry, approve the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the U.S.

For, contained in that decision is not just the future energy independence of North America — the U.S. currently depends on foreign sources for 45 percent of our fuel — but perhaps the future prosperity of the American economy.

If completed, the expanded pipeline — there actually is another Keystone pipeline from Alberta  operated by TransCanada that already delivers about 590,000 barrels of oil a day — will add another 500,000 barrels a day to the mix.

The fact the Chinese are waiting in the wings to claim this energy for themselves would be reason enough to approve it. Beijing has offered to pay for building an alternative pipeline to the Pacific coast to have  the oil shipped there.

For now, global production keeps up with global demand, but developing economies like China and India — oil importers both — invariably are leading to higher demand.

Which means every drop we fail to develop here, whether in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or fail to gain access to, as in Canada, is driving up prices at the pump.

The recent run-up in gasoline prices provides yet another warning to the Obama Administration of the types of price pressures the American people will be faced with in the future should we fail to become energy independent. Since Jan. alone, the price for a gallon of regular gasoline has jumped by $.44 to $3.69 on Feb. 18, reports the Energy Information Agency.

But even all of that pales in comparison to the growing danger posed to the petrodollar and more generally, the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency — that makes Obama’s opposition to Keystone all the more inexplicable.

As part of the resolution to the 1973 oil shock, the petrodollar was born when Richard Nixon convinced Saudi Arabia to only accept dollars for payment of oil in return for protecting their oil fields and a guaranteed return on investments in U.S. treasuries.

It was a move that cemented the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, since ample dollars were needed  by all oil-importing nations in order to transact in the most essential of commodities in the global economy.

But since that time, the U.S. has not been a responsible steward of the reserve currency, racking up more than $16.58 trillion in debt with artificially low interest rates that seemingly get lower by the year, offering little return on investment for foreign creditors. Right now, some $5.5 trillion of debt is held overseas.

However, the single largest holder of U.S. debt is not a nation or a Wall Street investment house. It is the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, which holds $1.6 trillion, and government agencies, which hold another $4.8 trillion. At $6.5 trillion, that means the government holds about 40 percent of its own debt.

Classical economist Adam Smith warned that such a policy — printing money to pay the debt — was “a real public bankruptcy [that] has been disguised under the appearance of a pretended payment.”

Even if the Saudis continue to agree to denominate oil in dollars and to ignore our obvious insolvency — other nations are not. Russia, Iran, and Venezuela all have taken serious steps to obliterate the petrodollar, first by accepting payment in other currencies. China and India, as customers, are aiding this process along.

These steps make perfect sense, if one anticipates a collapse of the dollar, to already have built a financial system that is capable of delivering energy even without dollars to transact with. And the more these alternative modes of payment are utilized, the weaker the dollar becomes.

The Achilles’ heel may be the House of Saud itself. A WikiLeaks an official U.S. diplomatic cable released in 2011 found that Saudi Arabia may be overstating its oil reserves — said to total from 716 billion to 900 billion barrels — by as much as 40 percent.

Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, was cited in the cable as disagreeing with the official estimates, and that “[i]n his view once 50 percent of original proven reserves has been reached … a steady output in decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it. He believes that what will result is a plateau in total output that will last approximately 15 years followed by decreasing output.”

If true, that would mean the Saudis on their own could not perpetuate the petrodollar regime if they wanted to — and that the system might collapse sooner than anyone thinks.

Which brings us back to the Keystone XL pipeline.   If the demand for dollars to buy oil is reduced, then the very foundation of our financial system is put in jeopardy.  Our saving grace is to generate as much oil, natural gas and coal as we can and sell it for dollars, thus maintain the need for other nations to get and keep dollars.

Our salvation includes developing North American energy resources, like deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, like the Bakken shale oil, and like making certain the Alberta oil sands flow via the pipeline to here and not to Beijing.

It also includes dismantling the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency is regulating carbon emissions and stormwater without any guidance in the law. It is ruining the nation’s coal industry. It is engaged in a sue-and-settle racket with radical environmentalist groups to expand its powers via judicial fiat. And its regulations threaten America’s future ability to develop and utilize natural resources.

Developing energy here and removing regulatory impediments alone will not obviate our financial problems, which are profound, but they can at least keep provide a foundation for future economic growth.  Improved economic prospects will boost our ability to service the national debt without relying on petrodollars or outright monetization. It will reduce inflation and the cost of doing business here in the U.S.

Cheap fuel will pave the way for expanded manufacturing capacity here, creating millions of jobs.

If, however, the Obama Administration rejects Keystone XL, and if it turns its EPA loose on shale oil producers in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere as it has on coal producers — it will have put America on a dangerous path toward a dark and weakened future.

And it will have done so knowing the consequences. Knowing the dollar’s reserve currency status was threatened. Knowing the oil would wind up overseas anyway or just remain in the ground. And worst of all, doing this while knowing that everything depended on taking a different path.

Yes, we’ll know just about everything we need to know about the Obama Administration based on its Keystone XL decision — and its continued war on energy, growth and prosperity via the EPA.


Are we drowning in reusable grocery bags?  Bring back plastic?

“Green” grocery bags once were going to save the planet. Now they’re multiplying in closets.

Patrick Swanson has launched a covert operation to rid his house of reusable shopping bags that his wife keeps bringing home from the grocery store. He brings a bag over to a friend’s house and, when no one is looking, “forgets” it there.

“The idea of the reusable bag has merit, but my opinion is that the majority of people forget to re-use them,” the St. Paul resident said. As a result, “they pile up. ... We never re-use them. In fact, I think we have more ‘reusable’ bags in our closet than the old paper and plastic kind.”

Swanson is far from alone in wondering if reusable bags sound better in theory than in practice. There’s an increasing pushback against the bags, with critics arguing that when you factor in the way the bags are used — or, in this case, not used — they actually have a larger carbon footprint than the plastic variety. But members of the green movement still staunchly believe in them, arguing that the cloth versions keep landfills free of millions of plastic bags, which can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Even among naysayers, support for reusable bags continues to grow: 39 percent of grocery shoppers own them, according to a recent study by McOrr Research.

But are shoppers using the bags enough to make them worthwhile? The UK Environment Agency recently concluded that a cotton bag has to be used 131 times to equal the environmental impact of producing one plastic bag.

Supporters of reusable bags have rushed to their defense.

“Yes, there’s energy embedded in the making of those bags,” conceded Madalyn Cicoi, a waste prevention and recycling specialist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “The goal is, once you get the bag made, to get as many uses out of it as you can.”

Of course, they don’t help the environment if they’re piling up in a closet.

“There’s no need to collect more of them than you need,” said Cicoi, who carries her groceries home in two cotton bags that she bought in 1995. “The whole point is to use them all the time.”

Some people who end up with a stockpile of bags find alternative uses: stashing Christmas decorations in them, using them to organize hobby gear or turning them into overnight bags.

“They are incredibly utilitarian,” said Sara Pearson, who now lives in Richmond, Va., and still uses bags she got in Minnesota six years ago.

Paper, plastic or bacteria?

Reusable bags have come under attack before. When San Francisco banned plastic grocery bags in 2007, the Social Science Research Network published a report claiming that reusable bags are breeding grounds for bacteria. The most alarming charge was that after the plastic bag ban went into effect, emergency room admissions related to bacteria jumped 25 percent.

The report was widely lambasted for not following accepted research procedures involving peer review, and follow-up research failed to come close to verifying the 25 percent figure. But the report was enough to motivate other research, including a 2011 study of reusable bags in California and Arizona in which 51 percent of the bags examined had picked up bacteria from the food they carry.

The green community’s reaction? “Well, duh.”

“To wash something that you carry food in, that’s just common sense,” Cicoi said.

In fact, the same 2011 study, facilitated by Food Protection Trends, also found that washing the bags killed the bacteria.

“I don’t worry about it,” said Nancy Lo, who works on waste reduction and recycling for the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services. “I just throw the bags into the washing machine.”

A jump in reusable use

Reusable bags, mainstays in Europe for decades, started making inroads into the United States around 1990.

“When they started showing up in mainstream places like Lunds, people realized that they weren’t just for tree huggers anymore,” Lo said.

Lunds and Byerly’s started selling reusable bags in 2006 and began tracking their use in 2009 via an incentive program in which the stores donate 5 cents to the Second Harvest Heartland food shelf for every reusable bag a customer brings into the store. As of last week, the stores had donated $220,000, which translates to 4.4 million reusable uses.

But lapses of memory hamper the bags’ use.

“That’s a big issue for us, getting people to remember to put the bags back in their cars after they unpack their food at home and then remembering to bring the bags into the store with them,” Lo said. “Just having the bags isn’t enough. People aren’t going to use them if they’re not convenient.”

Some grocery stores are posting reminder signs in the parking lot and on their doors. Hennepin County is making available free “Don’t forget the bags!” window clings.

“I have a sticker in my car to remind me to bring reusable bags into the store, because I would often forget,” said Mia Olson of Bloomington. “But eventually it becomes habit-forming.”

Sometimes, however, even the best intentions go awry. Laura Toledo of Minneapolis admitted that even though she and her husband try to keep bags in the trunk of their car and put a couple of spare ones on a hook by the kitchen door, they still occasionally arrive at the checkout stand empty-handed.

Rather than buy even more bags, they have a backup plan.

“If we do forget our bags, we’ll take plastic at the store and re-use them at home,” she said. “We never throw them away right when we get home. We’re trying to save the environment in as many ways as possible, even small ones like this.”




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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