Friday, September 30, 2005


The Leftist elite don't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us contemptible rabble, of course

On Friday, after giving a stirring speech about global warming, saving the planet, bad George Bush, Katrina, etc., the former Vice President, who was subjected to massive FReeper verbal abuse in 2000 with "GET OUT OF CHENEY'S HOUSE", actually walked out of the Moscone Center, looked at the display of hybrid vehicles, and got into a Cadillac Escalade.

There was some question as to whether Gore had control of the vehicle chosen or whether it might have been a Secret Service requirement for his protection at a crowded event. I made calls today and left messages at the field offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. I don't know which office returned the call, but I got the answer.

The agent told me that Al Gore is a private citizen. He would have had Secret Service protection for no longer than six months after his time as VP.

DemocRATS sometimes make it so easy to mock them. Gore is the featured speaking at a major Sierra Club event in a major green left wing city. He arrives at the event and leaves the event in one of the biggest vehicles on the planet. Just amazing.

For good measure, Arianna Huffington departed in a gas guzzling Chevy Suburban after her speech on Sunday.



There is a peer-reviewed paper just out which assembles lots of evidence to show that the sun is NOT just a ball of hydrogen steadily converting itself into helium, as we are usually told. So if we have got wrong how the sun works, how can we be sure exactly what impact it has on the earth's climate? As one of the authors of the new paper (nuclear chemist Oliver Manuel) emails:

"Trying to grasp the cause of incremental changes in global warming is like trying to grasp the influence of a flea on the weight of its host without knowing anything about the host. NASA has obstinately insisted that our global heat source is a ball of hydrogen, despite 35 years of evidence that the Sun sorts atoms by mass and moves light ones like hydrogen to its surface. The Apollo 11 lunar samples revealed compelling evidence that elements in the solar wind had been sorted by mass, but NASA took a combative approach to this and denied funding, lunar samples, and access for oral presentation of such findings to annual Lunar Science Conferences for the past decades. A new paper summarizing evidence for solar mass separation and an iron-rich Sun passed peer review and is now scheduled for publication in Proceedings 1st Crisis in Cosmology Conference".


The Government gave its clearest signal yet that it is considering expanding nuclear power in Britain. Tony Blair made it clear that "all options" would be considered to tackle climate change, including building a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Government is to hold a full review of nuclear power and renewable energy sources - including clean coal - next year. Malcolm Wicks, the Energy minister, said yesterday that it would be "more difficult" for Britain to meet its targets on cutting carbon emissions without nuclear power.

Speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the nuclear industry, Mr Wicks said the government was "keeping options open" about expanding the nuclear industry as a way of reducing global warming. "I think, in principle, we can meet our climate change targets without going down the nuclear route but it would be more difficult," Mr Wicks said. "I think it would help us tackle our challenge of climate change, all things being equal. But there is no silver bullet." Mr Wicks is to lead the review into energy sources that will examine the cost of nuclear power and the role it can play in securing future energy supplies and tackling climate change.

Mr Blair has put his personal authority behind a fresh look at nuclear power as a way to cut carbon emissions. He also indicated it could help guarantee the security of future energy supplies in Britain, reducing reliance on oil and gas piped in from abroad.

His speech drew a furious reaction from green campaigners who said the Government would be foolhardy to presume nuclear power was the answer to reducing carbon emissions. "There are far better solutions to our climate change problems than nuclear power that are cheaper, more sustainable and less dangerous," said Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth.

The Prime Minister is understood to want to resolve the issue of whether to build more nuclear power stations before he leaves office. Many of the unions are believed to be on board and, yesterday, Jack Dromey, the deputy general secretary of the T&G, indicated he favoured a fresh look at nuclear power to tackle climate change. Mr Wicks said the civil nuclear issue would be resolved within three or four years. But he said the Government would not provide direct state subsidy to the nuclear industry to renew its ageing stock of nuclear power stations.

The nuclear issue has divided the Government, with Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, expressing concern that the question of how to deal with tons of nuclear waste has yet to be resolved. Others have raised fears that expanding nuclear energy could encourage nuclear proliferation worldwide and make it more difficult to criticise nuclear expansion in countries such as Iran. Mr Blair has ordered his strategy unit to examine whether nuclear could be an answer to tackling global warming and is said personally to favour pursuing the technology.



Simplistic science is behind the idea put forward by Tim Flannery and others that man is causing global warming, writes William Kininmonth. Kininmonth, a meteorologist with more than 40 years' experience, headed the National Climate Centre for 12 years. His book, "Climate Change: A Natural Hazard", was published last year.

"The spectre of climate change is certainly with us. In addition to local fluctuations of rainfall patterns that extend from years to decades, there is clear evidence that global temperature has been rising and mountain glaciers and polar ice caps have been diminishing for nearly two centuries. The El Nino event of 1997-98 affected many millions, yet historical records show that, as early as 1877, droughts and famine related to an El Nino event were responsible for more than 9million deaths in northern China and more than 8million in India.

The problem is to identify the cause of recent climate change and to project with confidence its future course. A range of natural factors affect the Earth's climate, including the changing orbits of the planets around the sun, fluctuations in the sun's intensity and volcanic activity. The oceans and atmosphere are fluids in motion and have their own internal variability; the interact and, in combination, transport enormous quantities of energy from the tropics to the poles.

In his new book, "The Weather Makers", Tim Flannery embraces the hypothesis that human activity is causing dangerous climate change. He calls for urgent action to remove carbon from the energy sector, yet the nexus between atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change is not as strong as he would have us believe. The science linking human activities to climate change is simplistic and his arguments are assisted by the fact we are in a period of apparent warming. We are in a relatively warm part of the Ice Age cycle that has lasted more than 8000 years, but temperatures have been higher during this period.

The evidence that the climate system may pass some imagined critical point that leads to runaway global warming is not convincing. The focus on carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change overlooks the importance of water vapour as a greenhouse gas and the hydrological cycle's role in regulating the temperatures of our climate system. Water vapour is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and the formation and dissipation of clouds has a bigger impact on the climate. The hydrological cycle encompasses the evaporation of surface water, its carriage by the winds, and condensation to form clouds and precipitation. The evaporation of surface water extracts energy and regulates the surface temperature, especially over the warm tropical forests and oceans. Condensation of water vapour during the formation of rain and snow releases energy to the atmosphere.

Climate is a complex system for exchange and transport of energy, to balance the excess solar radiation of the tropics and the deficit over polar regions. Existing computer models are not able to adequately replicate these essential energy processes, raising serious doubt over their ability to predict future climate. Our future is one where we will have to adapt to a naturally changing climate. It is a delusion that dangerous climate events are new and will be averted by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Australia suffered for nearly a decade as prolonged drought affected eastern parts leading up to and following Federation. The record daytime temperatures in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney occurred during a heatwave in January 1939. Our climate is naturally variable and the extremes have always been dangerous.

Global demand for non-renewable fossil fuels will increase their cost and limit their availability. Public attention to using energy efficiently and evaluating the list of potential non-carbon and renewable energy sources is to be applauded. However, a rush to cut carbon emissions to meet Kyoto targets could distort the energy market and adversely affect economic and social outcomes. As Flannery points out, many developing countries have relatively lax environmental standards. This is good reason not to impose international regulations - such as differentiated responsibilities under Kyoto - that could well shift potentially polluting industries and associated skilled jobs to those countries.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, September 29, 2005


The six-year old U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and shows no signs of abating. Last year, there were more than 2,500 serious cases and 100 deaths. Still early in this year's West Nile virus season (there is a time lag during which animals are infected, mosquitoes convey the virus to humans, and the virus incubates until symptoms occur), the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds) in 44 states, and has caused almost a thousand serious infections and a score of deaths in humans in 36 states. As of September 6, Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in human West Nile virus infections; but with most of New Orleans still under water and a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, there are likely to be far more cases.

However, thanks to politically correct but egregiously flawed federal regulatory policy, the tools available to local officials for mosquito control are limited - and largely ineffective. The website of the Centers for Disease Control suggests several measures to avoid West Nile virus infection: "avoid mosquito bites," by wearing clothes that expose little skin, using insect repellent, and staying indoors during peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn); "mosquito-proof your home," by removing standing water, and installing and maintaining screens; and "help your community," by reporting dead birds.

Conspicuously absent from its list of suggestions is any mention of insecticides or widespread spraying. Anyone curious about the role of pesticides in battling mosquitoes and West Nile is directed to a maze of other Web sites.

More here


Here is a recipe for an explosive news cocktail. Take the president of the world's most powerful nation. Add two intense and damaging natural storms which bring destruction to that country; then mix in the widely held view that the same nation's environmental policies are partially responsible for those storms. In the polarised world of climate change, this cocktail has proved an irresistible temptation to organisations which campaign against President Bush's administration in support of enhanced action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The latest to succumb was the British newspaper The Independent, which screamed on its front page: "This is global warming", above an alarmingly portentous graphic of Hurricane Rita's projected path.

But is it global warming? What is the evidence that the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are changing weather systems in such a way that hurricanes become more powerful, or more frequent?

Certainly, 2005 appears to have been an unusually active year. The US National Hurricane Center/Tropical Prediction Center comments in its August summary that "thus far in 2005, there have been 12 named storms and four hurricanes. "These numbers are well above the long-term averages of 4.4 storms and 2.1 hurricanes that would normally have formed by this date."

But a single year's observation does not permit the divination of a long-term trend, or the attribution of that trend to a cause such as climatic warming. "Based on recent research, the consensus view is that we don't expect global warming to make a difference to the frequency of hurricanes," explains Julian Heming, from the UK Meteorological Office. "Activity is naturally very variable in terms of frequency, intensity and regional occurrence; in the Atlantic, there are active phases and not so active phases, and currently we're in the middle of an active phase. "It's very dangerous to explain Rita or Katrina through global warming, because we have always had strong hurricanes in the USA - the strongest one on record dates back to 1935."

Records from the 20th Century suggest that hurricane formation over the Atlantic has changed phase every few decades: the 1940s and 50s were active, the 70s and 80s less so, while the currently active phase appears to have commenced in 1995....

Every time a hurricane comes along - or a flood, or a drought, or a freeze, or a heatwave - the question is now asked "is it linked to global warming?" A decade ago, that was not the case - a clear signal that climate change is now firmly established in the public mind and in the political arena.

Now that climate scientists are being taken seriously, they are also under pressure to produce instant answers. One problem is that not all of those answers exist. Another problem is that some scientists - not to mention lobby groups, environmental organisations, politicians, newspapers and commentators - will go much further in their public statements than the data allow.

With such incendiary material, that is unlikely to change; but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we would all benefit from people on both wings of the issue looking rather more to research, however laboured its progress, and rather less to screaming headlines and easy quotes.



Summary of a recent academic journal article:

What was done:
The instrumental or thermometer temperature record typically extends back in time no more than a century for most locations on earth, and few are the stations with temperature records extending over two hundred years. In the present study, however, Butler et al. standardized three temperature series from Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland to obtain a nearly continuous record of temperature at this location since 1796.

What was learned:
In this longest temperature series for all of Ireland, the authors detected significant year-to-year fluctuations and decadal-scale variability. On a shorter time scale, wavelet analysis revealed a 7.8-yr cycle that was particularly strong in the winter and spring, which they believe is related to the North Atlantic Oscillation. On longer time scales, multi-decadal oscillations are noted in the many-year warm and cold periods scattered throughout the record, including a relatively cool interval prior to 1820 followed by a warmer period that peaked about 1830 and lasted until nearly 1870. Thereafter, a second cool interval ensued, followed by another warm peak between 1940 and 1960, while yet another cool period held sway from 1960 to 1980. The record then ends with a final warm period over its last decade; but this period is not in any way extraordinary, as the authors say that "in spite of the current warmer conditions, annual mean temperatures still remain within the range seen in the previous two centuries."

What it means:
In contrast to the highly publicized climate-alarmist claim that the past two decades have experienced unprecedented warmth due to CO2-induced global warming, the Armagh record indicates that "we are not yet beyond the range of normal variability," to quote its developers. What is more, Butler et al. note that late 20th-century warmth is typically compared to temperatures characteristic of the beginning of the 20th century, when conditions were noticeably cooler, which comparison, in their words, "exaggerate[s] the subsequent warming in the 20th century." Their proposed solution is to extend the baseline for comparison further back in time. We agree, for the crux of the climate change debate rests on obtaining a much longer perspective from which to view the late 20th century, in order to appreciate the degree of natural climatic variability inherent in earth's climate system; and whenever this is done, it is typically concluded that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the world's current level of warmth.

Butler, C.J., Garcia Suarez, A.M., Coughlin, D.S. and Morrell, C. (2005). "Air temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796-2002". International Journal of Climatology 25: 1055-1079.

Summary from: CO2 Science Magazine, 28 September 2005. The journal abstract is available here. It is as follows:

Three independent mean temperature series for Armagh Observatory, covering the period 1796-2002 have been calibrated and corrected for the time of reading and exposure. Agreement between the three series is good in regions of overlap. With a short gap in the Armagh data from 1825 to 1833 filled by data from two stations in Dublin, the resulting series is the longest for the island of Ireland and one of the longest for any single site in the British Isles. Over the past 207 years, we note that temperatures in Armagh, in all seasons, show a gradual overall trend upwards. However, there are seasonal differences: summer and spring temperatures have increased by only half as much as those in autumn and winter. This is partly due to the exceptionally cold winters and autumns experienced prior to 1820. Relative to the overall trend, warm periods occurred in Ireland, as in other parts of Europe, in the mid-19th century, in the mid-20th century and at the end of the 20th century. Relatively cool temperatures prevailed in the early 19th century, in the 1880s and in the 1970s. Thus, if the baseline against which current temperatures are compared were moved from the late 19th century to include the earlier warm period, the apparent warming at the end of the late 20th century would be correspondingly reduced. A gradual decline in the daily temperature range at Armagh since 1844 may have resulted from higher minimum temperatures associated with increased cloudiness. A 7.8 year periodicity is identified in winter and spring mean temperatures at Armagh, which is probably a consequence of the North Atlantic oscillation.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


But I suppose we are still stuck with the stupid 1987 Montreal treaty banning our most effective refrigerant gases despite the fact that the Antarctic ozone "hole" shows no sign of shrinking

Tony Blair has admitted that the fight to prevent global warming by ordering countries to cut greenhouse gases will never be won. The Prime Minister said "no country is going to cut its growth or consumption" despite environmental fears. Mr Blair's comments, which he said were "brutally honest", mark a big environmental U-turn and will dismay Labour activists. They were made earlier this month in New York, at a conference on facing up to "global challenges" organised by Bill Clinton, the former United States president. Mr Blair, who has been seen up to now as a strong supporter of the Kyoto Treaty, effectively tore the document up and admitted that rows over its implementation will "never be resolved."

Mr Blair told the New York conference: "I would say probably I'm changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years. I think if we are going to get action we have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. "Some people have signed Kyoto, some people haven't signed Kyoto, right? That is a disagreement. It's there. It's not going to be resolved."

His remarks, unreported at the time but now published in a transcript of the conference, are certain to spark wide-ranging criticism that he is again signing up to the agenda of President George W Bush. Under Mr Bush, the US has consistently refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

Mr Blair's comments have emerged as his biographer, Anthony Seldon, branded him a "weak man" who has been unable to stand up to rich and powerful figures such as Mr Bush and Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Blair admitted that there would probably never be a successor treaty to Kyoto, which expires in 2012, and said the "answer" was merely to try to introduce "incentives" for business and large-scale energy users to make cut-backs. He said: "To be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto." One of the problems surrounding the Kyoto Treaty was that the harsh carbon emissions targets did not apply to developing countries such as China and India. Mr Blair said in New York: "China and India... will grow. They are not going to find it satisfactory for us in the developed world to turn around and say, 'Look, we have had our growth. You have now got yours so we want you to do it sustainably even if we haven't'."

More here


Or is it just clever propaganda?

The green revolution is sweeping the heirs to the industrial revolution. At a news conference in Washington today, the chairmen of six major corporations, flanked by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, announced a plan to set public goals and verification standards for companies to reduce their energy and water use, increase recycling and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The so-called S.E.E. Change initiative (for Society, Environment and Economy) was developed by the Business Roundtable, a collection of U.S. corporations with combined revenue that is equivalent to the fourth-largest economy on earth. The initiative, led by DuPont Chairman Charles Holliday, is at least partly designed to deter more aggressive government regulation, as the U.S. comes under pressure to join other nations in agreements, like the Kyoto treaty, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "We believe that business is more than just the bottom line, and we actually believe doing the right thing can help our shareholders," said Holliday, who was joined by the chairmen of Dow Chemical, Sun Microsystems, AEP, Xerox and Office Depot, at the news conference.

The diversity of the participants was designed to illustrate the difficulty of devising regulations that would control emissions and energy use across multiple industries. The Bush administration has opposed the Kyoto Protocol, in part because it would force all American companies to reduce emissions while giving their competitors in developing nations, such as China and India, a free pass. "Regulation is impossible to write and even more impossible to enforce," said Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. "It's a fool's errand."

S.E.E. Change will establish voluntary environmental goals and a transparent means for publicly announcing progress toward meeting them. That information will be shared among companies to accelerate the pace of sustainable technologies. The information will also give government officials the statistics needed to negotiate the next round of post-Kyoto treaties, Holliday said. DuPont, for example, has committed to a 30% reduction in water use. "The objective is not a law or regulation, the objective is a result," he said.

The Business Roundtable announcement comes four months after General Electric Chairman Jeffrey Immelt kicked off GE's Ecomagination campaign, also with a Washington press conference. Attendees downplayed the influence that GE's program to reduce emissions and develop energy-efficient technology had on the Business Roundtable, of which GE is a member.

Sun has been working on similar projects for at least five years, McNeely said. "It isn't like all of a sudden Ecomagination got us focused on this," he said. Sun has introduced new microprocessors, for example, that consume just two watts for a task like a Web information search, instead of 70 watts to 90 watts.

The main focus will be on reducing water use, Holliday said, because that is a theme common to every industry. Frist, in his opening remarks, applauded the group for tackling a problem with implications on both a global scale and in the U.S., where victims of Hurricane Katrina were devastated by the lack of drinking water. "Clean water is absolutely essential, and, thus, I appreciate the focus," Frist said.

Industry's attention to so-called "sustainable development" reflects the realization that it can eventually result in higher earnings, said Gwen Ruta, director of corporate partnerships at Environmental Defense, a New York activist group. Environmental Defense is working with FedEx, for example, to introduce a fleet of hybrid delivery trucks that use 50% less fuel and reduce emissions by 90%. "A lot of it is eliminating waste, and waste is not good for the environment or the bottom line," Ruta said. "That's sort of the 'duh' part of the equation."

The more subtle payoff comes from getting less attention from regulators and groups like Environmental Defense, Ruta said. Companies that are perceived as being environmentally friendly may face fewer challenges to expansion or in getting permits for new facilities, she said. "It's hard for companies to expand if they're seen as bad actors," she said.


Baptists, bootleggers and global warming: "George Monbiot expresses surprise and delight that big corporations would request regulation (Comment, September 20) . Monbiot has obviously not read enough in the field of regulatory economics, else he would have come across Professor Bruce Yandle's theory of 'bootleggers and Baptists'. As Professor Yandle pointed out in 1983, Baptists support the banning of alcohol sales for moral reasons; bootleggers support alcohol bans for very different reasons, and are therefore likely to back the Baptists in their efforts. To Monbiot, the ultimate Baptist, a regulation banning alcohol sales would be 'making a market' for the bootleggers. The public has fended off this alliance in the alcohol market to its benefit. It should come as no surprise that the government is defending the public from this unholy alliance in the environmental field also."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, September 26, 2005


"Decarbonising the UK", published this week by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, argues that if air travel continues to expand at its current rate, there is no chance the UK government will meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050 - unless, that is, all other sectors stop emitting carbon altogether. The report cites government figures which suggest that passenger numbers will rise from 180million to 475million over the next 25 years.

But why should we accept that air travel is the problem, and that it needs to be curtailed? It's more realistic to say that unrealistic carbon emissions targets are the issue here. And why should we cancel our holidays just so the government can be seen to be doing its bit for the environment by achieving questionable targets?

According to Dr Kevin Anderson, who led the research at the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University: 'If the government does not curb aviation growth, all other sectors of the economy will eventually be forced to become carbon neutral. It will undermine the international competitiveness of UK industry.' Anderson suggests that in order to keep emissions under control, passenger numbers can only rise as quickly as fuel efficiency rises. And as fuel efficiency has only been improving by 1.5 per cent per year, passenger growth would be minimal indeed. In July, Anderson told the Guardian: 'We're not saying don't fly; we're saying that we cannot fly very much more than we do now.' So either flights need to be made more expensive, or plans for new airports and runways and cheaper holidays must be curtailed.

Mayer Hillman, author of How We Can Save Our Planet, is much more blunt. Writing in the Independent this week, he condemned our increasingly energy-profligate lifestyles, with a particular focus on air travel. 'An increasing majority of the population is inadvertently complicit in a process that is already reducing the quality of life of literally billions of people, and which will almost certainly cause the deaths of millions in the near and longer-term future', Hillman wrote. He also argued that carbon use per capita must be reduced by 85 per cent by 2030. One return flight to New York from London represents about three years worth of carbon 'allowance'. So you can forget going on holiday once - or heaven forbid, twice - a year. Hillman also said that the time for 'awareness raising' on green matters is over: now, 'only urgent and ruthless government action will do'.

It is right to question whether there will be substantial change in climate as a result of carbon emissions. But even if we accept that as a possibility, the dramatic cuts in consumption proposed by Hillman and others should at least beg a further question: wouldn't our time be better spent finding ways to manage climate change, rather than trying to curb emissions dramatically and make people's lives more boring in the process? By promoting economic growth rather than trying to curtail it, the likely effect of cutting carbon emissions, wouldn't we be in a better position to cope with the consequences of climate change?

Environmentalists have been pointing the finger at 'cheap air travel' for some time now, arguing that cut-price flights encourage more and more of us to holiday abroad and unthinkingly cause pollution as we go. Guardian columnist George Monbiot has even said that 'flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse'. Behind the smug denunciations of cheap air travel and package holidays, there lurks not only a lack of imagination for dealing with pollution issues, but also a thinly veiled contempt for the masses. This was brought home to me during a wedding reception in New Zealand a couple of years ago. The groom was a youngish, up-and-coming member of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland and there was a fair sprinkling of party colleagues at the event. Guests were soon discussing the long journey from the UK, but it didn't take long for it to turn into a debate about the 'problem' of air travel.

The real problem, I was told, were all these people now making short trips to Europe by air, particularly to those sun, sex and booze resorts. Guests complained that it has become far too easy for individuals to hop on to a plane. The hypocrisy of this position being advanced by people who had made a 25,000-mile round-trip for a wedding was not at all self-evident to them. They had clearly decided that they were responsible travellers and not debauched 'holidaymakers'.

The advent of cheap air travel has provided a vast majority of Britons with the opportunity to explore new horizons. They no longer have to accept over-priced holidays and miserable weather in the UK, when they can get two weeks in the sun for cheaper. And why spend that stag night in the Red Lion when you can spend it in Amsterdam or Reykjavik?

Underpinning the debate about air travel is the idea that people, and what people do, are a problem - and that we must reduce our 'ecological footprint' by reducing the number of individual footprints. What killjoys. We should celebrate the capacity to be liberated from our everyday lives as often as possible. In response to the miserable puritan morality of sustainability and reduced consumption, we need a bit more 'blue-sky' thinking.



Research summary:

What was done:
Historians typically point to political, economic, cultural and ethnic unrest as the chief causes of war and civil strife. In the present study, Zhang et al. argue that changes in climate play a key role as well; and to examine their thesis, they compared proxy climate records with historical data on wars, social unrest and dynastic transitions in China from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties (mid-9th century to early 20th century).

What was learned:
War frequencies, peak war clusters, nationwide periods of social unrest and dynastic transitions were all significantly associated with cold as opposed to warm phases of China's paleotemperature reconstructions. More specifically, all three distinctive peak war clusters (defined as more than 50 wars in a 10-year time period) occurred during cold phases, as did all seven periods of nationwide social unrest and nearly 90 percent of all dynastic changes that decimated this largely agrarian society. As a result, the authors conclude that climate change was "one of the most important factors in determining the dynastic cycle and alternation of war and peace in ancient China."

What it means:
Historically, warmer climates have been much more effective than cooler climates in terms of helping to "keep the peace" in China. Based on this model, perhaps we should all pray for a little global warming to give peace a better chance worldwide.

Zhang, D., Jim, C., Lin, C., He, Y. and Lee, F. 2005. Climate change, social unrest and dynastic transition in ancient China. Chinese Science Bulletin 50: 137-144.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, September 25, 2005


Perhaps it's natural to blame humans for natural disasters: the president's out of touch; the emergency services are unco-ordinated; it's all a racist plot. The people who do this are either out of touch themselves - they've never co-ordinated more than a Sunday picnic or, more sadly, are victims of the disaster and are going through the first stages of grief. Katrina didn't expose gaping holes in modern American society; it exposed weaknesses inherent in all today's globalising cities when faced with the forces of nature, chaos, call them what you will.

Put simply, any human society is a house of cards. The more complex that society is - numbers of people, communication links, socio-economic levels, trade networks, income sources, resource needs, etc - the higher the house, and the more cards that can collapse. Looked at in this way, modern societies are not more robust and strong than less developed, simpler communities, but in fact are more vulnerable, requiring far more care and attention.

Historically, large, complex civilisations have existed for a fraction of the time of simpler agricultural communities, and there is a reason: not, as we arrogantly assume, that they were less technologically advanced, clever and networked than us, but precisely because they were so advanced and complex, and hence a bitch to manage. The taller the house of cards, the further there is to fall. New Orleans is a perfect example, and hence a timely warning for the future as the global population expands, its climate changes, and its cities become more mega. Witness the fall. It took about 72 hours for a reasonably functional, high-tech, well-educated, urbane, globalised, wired and well-resourced population in the world's richest nation to unravel and start behaving like a roving primate troop.

This is not to criticise the people of New Orleans as individuals, it is to highlight how dependent we all are on social organisation and institutions. The people who remained in the city were removed from modern society and dumped in the wet maw of nature - a bit like Survivor, and the results were far more of a reality check than Channel Nine. It is probably better if New Orleans again becomes a small Mississippi port, and is allowed gradually to become part of the Gulf of Mexico."

It's clear to everyone that the death toll and damage caused by Katrina or any of the other recent major natural disasters has been far greater than any of the terrorist attacks for which we have so obsessively prepared, and a lot of that human suffering has occurred in the breakdown of social organisation that follows. If our governments really want to protect their citizens, rather than just play geopolitical chess with religious militias, they would do well to "be alert to the clear danger of Katrina et al", and "boost our homeland security", because it's "not a matter of if but when".....

We live in a giant, precarious and precious house of cards. How much of it blows down, and how soon, will depend on the strength of its bonds: not the concrete ones, but the compassionate, civil and cerebral ones.

More here

Recycling: What a Waste!

The fact that communities have to PAY companies to do recycling shows that it is a waste of resources

This Fall, school kids across the country will again be taught a chief doctrine in the civic religion: recycle, not only because you fear the police but also because you love the planet. They come home well prepared to be the enforcers of the creed against parents who might inadvertently let a foil ball into the glass bin or overlook a plastic wrapper in the aluminum bin. Oh, I used to believe in recycling, and I still believe in the other two Rs: reducing and reusing. But recycling? It's a waste of time, money, and ever scarce resources. What John Tierney wrote in the New York Times nearly 10 years ago is still true: "Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America."

Reduce and reuse makes sense. With no investment in resources I can place the plastic grocery bag in the bathroom garbage can and save a penny or so for some more pressing need. Reducing and reusing are free market activities that are an absolute profitable investment of time and labor.

Any astute entrepreneur will see the benefit of conserving factors of production. Houses are built today with much, much less wood than homes built just 20 years ago; and they are built sturdier, for the most part anyway. The decision to reduce wood in houses was not prompted by a green's love for trees; it was a reaction to the increasing cost for wood products. Using less wood makes financial sense and any entrepreneur worth his profit will change his recipe to conserve wood through better design or by substituting less dear materials for wood products.

A recent Mises article, Ethanol and the Calculation Issue, discussed the inability to calculate the true cost of producing Ethanol. No one can calculate the cost of all the factors of production in the direction from the highest order labor and land down to the lowest order. Ethanol at the pump, though the Chicago School, Keynesians, etc., would certainly give the calculation the old college try. Absent government supports, the cost of Ethanol at the pump reveals the true economic cost of producing that fuel.

The same applies to recycling. What is the true cost of all factors involved in the recycling activity? I haven't a clue. Though using Misesian logic I know that the costs of recycling exceed the benefits. This is the simple result of the observation that recycling doesn't return a financial profit.

I used to recycle. It paid. As a child living in the Pittsburgh area, I would clean used glass containers. After collecting a sufficient amount of glass, my father would drive the three or so miles to the local glass factory where the owner gladly exchanged cleaned waste glass for dollars. It this instance I was an entrepreneur investing factors of production in order to turn dirty waste glass into capital. The value of the exchange exceeded my preference for time, elbow grease, and my parents' soap, water, and auto fuel. (Of course all of my exchanges against my parents' resources were high on my preference list, but that's another issue altogether).

What's wrong with recycling? The answer is simple; it doesn't pay. And since it doesn't pay it is an inefficient use of the time, money, and scarce resources. That's right, as Mises would have argued: let prices be your guide. Prices are essential to evaluate actions ex post. If the accounting of a near past event reveals a financial loss, the activity was a waste of both the entrepreneur's and society's scarce resources.

I'm supposed to believe that I need to invest resources into cleaning and sorting all sorts of recyclable materials for no compensation. And this is considered economically efficient? In some local communities--many thousands of which have recycling progreams--residents have to pay extra so that a company will recycle their paper, plastic, and glass. The recycling bins come with a per-month fee.

In other areas, such as my township, the garbage company profits at the mercy of the political class. The trustees in my township specified that in order to win the waste removal contract, the winning company has to provide recycling bins. Further, they have to send a special truck around to empty those neatly packed bins and deliver them to companies that have no pressing need for these unraw materials. The recycling bins are ostensibly free, but in reality their cost is bundled into my monthly waste removal bill.

Since there is no market for recyclable materials, at least no market sufficient to at least return my investment in soap and water, not to mention time and labor, I conclude that there is no pressing need for recycling. If landfills were truly in short supply then the cost of dumping waste would quickly rise. I would then see the financial benefit to reducing my waste volume, and since the recycling bin does not count toward waste volume, the more in the recycling bin, the less in the increasingly expensive garbage cans. Prices drive entrepreneurial calculations and, hence, human action. Recycling is no different. Come on now, there can't be any benefit to even the neoclassical society if you actually have to pay someone to remove recyclables.

That recycling doesn't pay signifies that resources devoted to recycling activities would be better utilized in other modes of production. Instead of wasting resources on recycling, it would be more prudent to invest that money so that new recipes could be created to better conserve scarce materials in the production process.....

Who reaps the real psychic reward from recycling? The statist do-gooder and the obsessed conservationist. Since recycling is now a statist goal, the do-gooders and greens force the cost of recycling on the unsuspecting masses by selling recycling as a pseudo-spiritual activity. In addition to these beneficiaries, there are those who have not considered the full costs of recycling, but their psychic benefit is more ephemeral than real. The other winners are the companies that do the collecting and process the materials, an industry that is sustained by mandates at the local level.

If recycling at a financial loss leads you to greater psychic profit, then recycle, recycle, recycle. Let your personal preferences guide your actions, but don't force your preference schedule on others who have a different preference rank for their own actions. And, do not delude yourself into thinking that you are economizing anything; you are simply increasing your psychic profit at the expense of a more rational investment....

More here


Following are some excerpts from a still very relevant article in the 1996 New York Times. Nothing seems to have been learned in the years since 1996

Recycling does sometimes makes sense-for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environrnentally safe landfill. And since there's no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren't good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups-politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations-while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.....

The costs of natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, have been declining for thousands of years. They've become less scarce over time because humans have continually found new supplies or devised new technologies. Fifty years ago, for instance, tin and copper were said to be in danger of depletion, and conservationists urged mandatory recycling and rationing of these vital metals so that future generations wouldn't be deprived of food containers and telephone wires. But today tin and copper are cheaper than ever. Most food containers don't use any tin. Phone calls travel through fiber-optic cables of glass, which is made from sand-and should the world ever run out of sand, we could dispense with wires together by using cellular phones.

The only resource that has been getting consistently more expensive is human time: the cost of labor has been rising for centuries. An hour of labor today buys a larger quantity of energy or raw materials than ever before. To economists, it's wasteful to expend human labor to save raw materials that are cheap today and will probably be cheaper tomorrow. Even the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental group that strongly favors recycling and has often issued warnings about the earth's dwindling resources, has been persuaded that there are no foreseeable shortages of most minerals. "In retrospect," a Worldwatch report notes, "the question of scarcity may never have been the most important one."

Every time a sanitation department crew picks up a load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products- recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don't know the rules.) It requires enforcement agents to inspect garbage and issue tickets. Most of all, it requires extra collection crews and trucks. Collecting a ton of recyclable items is three times more expensive than collecting a ton of garbage because the crews pick up less material at each stop. For every ton of glass, plastic and metal that the truck delivers to a private recycler, the city currently spends $200 more than it would spend to bury the material in a landfill. City officials hoped to recover this extra cost by selling the material but the market price of a ton has never been anywhere near $200. In fact, it has rarely risen as high as zero. Private recyclers usually demand a fee because their processing costs exceed the eventual sales price of the recycled materials. So the city, having already lost $200 collecting the ton of material typically has to pay another $40 to get rid of it.

The recycling program has been costing $50 million to $100 million annually, and that's just the money coming directly out of the municipal budget. There's also the labor involved. the garbage-sorting that millions of New Yorkers do at home every week....

Officials in some cities claim that curbside recycling programs are cheaper than burying the garbage in a landfill, which can be true in places where the landfill fees are high and the collection costs aren't as exorbitant as in New York. But officials who claim that recycling programs save money often don't fully account for the costs. "A lot of programs, especially in the early years, have used funny money economics to justify recycling," says Chaz Miller, a contributing editor for Recycling Times, a trade newspaper. "There's been a messianic zeal that's hurt the cause. The American public loves recycling, but we have to do it efficiently. It should be a business, not a religion."

Recycling programs didn't fare well in a Federally financed study conducted by the Solid Waste Association of North America, a trade association for municipal waste-management officials. The study painstakingly analyzed costs in six communities (Minneapolis; Palm Beach Fla.; Seattle; Scottsdale, Ariz; Sevierville, Tenn., and Springfield, Mass.). It found that all but one of the curbside recycling programs, and all the composting operations and waste-to-energy incinerators, increased the cost of waste disposal. (The exception was Seattle's curbside program, which was slightly cheaper-by one tenth of 1 percent-than putting the garbage in a landfill.) Studies in European cities have reached similar conclusions. Recycling has been notoriously unprofitable in Germany, whose national program is even less efficient than New York's. "We have to recognize that recycling costs money," says William Franklin, an engineer who has conducted a national study of recycling costs for the not-for-profit group Keep America Beautiful He estimates that, at today's prices, a curbside recycling program typically adds 15 percent to the costs of waste disposal-and more if communities get too ambitious.

Recycling newsprint actually creates more water pollution than making new paper: for each ton of recycled newsprint that's produced, an extra 5,000 gallons of waste water are discharged. Cost-benefit analyses for individual products become so confusing that even ardent environmentalists give up. After years of studies and debates about the environmental merits of cloth versus disposable diapers, some environmental organizations finally decided they couldn't decide; parents were advised to choose whichever they wanted This sensible advice ought to be extended to other products. It would not only make life simpler for everyone, but would probably benefit the environment. When consumers follow their preferences, they are guided by the simplest, and often the best, measure of a product's environmental impact: its price.

The Tragedy of the Dump is a simple problem better resolved with the first approach: private responsibility. Your trash is already your private property. You should be responsible for getting rid of it. You should have to pay to get rid of it- and you should pay whatever price it takes to insure that your garbage doesn't cause environmental problems for anyone else. Paying for residential garbage collection sounds like a radical idea in New York and other cities where these costs are hidden in property taxes, but it's already being done in thousands of communities, including cities like Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle. It's also standard practice for commercial establishments in New York and elsewhere. Some cities charge according to volume-the number of bags or cans that you fill - and some have begun experimenting with charging by the pound.

Once people switch to this pay-as-you-throw system, they throw away less-typically at least 10 to 15 percent less. Some shop differently, some take their names off junk-mail lists; some recycle. Instead of following (or ignoring) arcane rules and targets set by politicians, they're personally motivated to figure out what's worth paying to discard and what's worth diverting to a recycling bin. Those who want to recycle for spiritual reasons can do so; others can recycle whatever makes economic sense to them. If the pay-as-you-throw system became common everywhere, there would be no need for recycling laws and goals and moral exhortations. "In a purely market-driven situation, people would still recycle according to what makes sense in their area," says Lynn Scarlett, the vice president of research at the Reason Foundation, which has studied pay-as-you-throw systems. "In most places it would pay to recycle aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard and office paper. A lot of newspapers and some clear glass would be recycled.

By turning garbage into a political issue, environmentalists have created jobs for themselves as lawyers, lobbyists, researchers, educators and moral guardians. Environmentalists may genuinely believe they're helping the earth, but they have been hurting the common good while profiting personally, just like the village's herdsmen. This is the real Tragedy of the Dump: the waste of public funds on recycling programs, the needless public alarm about landfills. Fortunately, though, not every community has been afflicted. For those seeking the truth about garbage, there's a mountain 300 miles south of New York that's worth a pilgrimage.

Ten years ago, Charles City County had much in common with New York today. It had no money to fix its decrepit schools. Its economy was stagnant, its tax rate was among the state's highest and it was being ordered to shut down its old dump. Now, thanks to its new landfill, the county has lower taxes, better-paid teachers and splendid schools. The landfill's private operator, the Chambers Development Company, pays Charles City County fees totaling $3 million a year-as much as the county takes in from all its property taxes. The landfill has created jobs, as have the new businesses that were attracted by the lower taxes and new schools. The 80-acre public-school campus has three buildings with central air conditioning and fiber-optic cabling. The library has 10,000 books, laser disks and CD-ROM's; every classroom in the elementary school has a telephone and a computer. The new auditorium has been used by visiting orchestras and dance companies, which previously had no place to perform in the county.

If you are heavy with garbage and guilt, Charles City is the place to lay down your burden. There you can see garbage the way Linny Miles regards it: not as a moral issue but as an economic commodity. New Yorkers get rid of their garbage cheaply, Charles City's children get new schools. Why should New Yorkers spend extra money to recycle so they can avoid this mutually beneficial transaction? Why make harried parents feel guilty about takeout food? Why train children to be garbage sorters? Why force the Bridges school to spend money on a recycling program when it still doesn't have a computer in the science classroom?


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, September 24, 2005


And the U.S. seems to be going along with it

This week, Bush-administration officials are meeting in Vienna to discuss a United Nations plan to globalize environmental regulation. Dubbed the "Strategic Approach to Global Management of Chemicals" or SAICM, the program is anything but strategic.

SAICM would attempt to regulate basically all substances in commerce - manmade and natural - and would attempt to manage all the world's solid and hazardous waste. And in time, it could easily spill into other areas - air and water.

If you read the documents published by SAICM negotiators, you might think you are reading Al Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, in which he proposed making the environment the "central organizing principle for civilization." In the chapter titled "A Global Marshall Plan," Gore outlines a utopian vision for a "Strategic Environment Initiative" through which world regulators could effectively "discourage and phase out" supposedly "inappropriate technologies and the same time develop and disseminate a new generation of environmentally benign substitutes."

This sounds an awful lot like SAICM's "Global Action Plan." Among 288 "concrete measures" proposed in SAICM's plan are intentions to "restrict availability" of "highly toxic pesticides;" substitute "highly toxic pesticides;" "promote substitution of hazardous chemicals;" "regulate the availability, distribution and use of pesticides;" "halt the sale of and recall products" that pose "unacceptable risks;" "eliminate the use" of certain "hazardous chemicals;" and so on.

Such policies would be pushed by an international chemicals bureaucracy and implemented by "stakeholders" - government, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. Somehow we are supposed to believe that these parties know better than the rest of us - the actors in the world marketplace who must live with the consequences of such decisions.

While SAICM negotiators don't want to acknowledge it, many products are valuable because they are toxic and even "highly toxic." These properties provide important advantages, and their risks can be managed. Pesticides, for example, should be highly toxic to the vermin they are supposed to kill, while having little impact on humans when used properly. Chlorine is caustic and dangerous if misused - and for that we can thank its Creator. Indeed, chlorine's potent properties will be crucial in helping control the spread of deadly pathogens in the hurricane-torn regions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

These states face risks that are all-to-common in poor nations - risks of cholera, dysentery, and other deadly water-borne diseases. The only difference is, the United States has access to disinfectants and many poor communities around the world don't.

In 1991, residents of Peru and surrounding nations learned about the dire impacts of following the advice of regulators who suggested reduced chlorine use because of alleged risks associated with the chemical. According to the scientific literature on the topic, inadequate chlorination was a key factor in a cholera epidemic that started in Peru and spread throughout the hemisphere, leading to about a million cases of cholera and thousands of deaths.

If the United Nations truly wants to do something to improve the human environment around the globe, it would not spend any time or money empowering regulators to make more such horrific mistakes. Instead, it would be working on policies to promote much needed economic development.

Most of the world's serious environmental problems are the effects of poverty in developing nations. On the top of the list according to a 2001 World Bank study-"Environment Strategy Papers: Healthy and Environment" - is inadequate sanitation. This is something that only economic growth can address through improved infrastructure and increased access to chemical disinfectants - such as chlorine.

Next on the list of problems is limited access to modern energy sources - including such things as electricity and fossil fuels. Lacking such amenities means that rural poor around the world rely on burning biomass fuels (such as cow dung) in their homes as an energy source. Resulting pollution leads to an estimated 1.7 million deaths annually associated with respiratory illnesses. And as international bureaucrats at the United Nations lament the potential that someone might consume trace levels of chemicals found in plastic packaging, the absence of such sanitary packaging and refrigeration in developing nations kills tens of thousands every year.

The solution is not more regulation - but less. Indeed, these nations are least able to afford such regulatory burdens. Economic freedom and resulting growth would do far more to improve the human condition. Indeed, the authors of a World Bank report document the fact that pollution and environmental problems decline as gross domestic product increases.

While the Bush administration has not officially endorsed SAICM, it does appear to be silently following along. In August, the administration held a public meeting in Washington at which officials basically outlined SAICM's progression. Perhaps the administration's excuse is that it needs a "seat at the table" to influence the outcome of any SAICM policies. But that's just plain dumb. Bush did not go along with the creation of a global court to get a seat on the bench. Bush knew that any involvement with that global bureaucracy spelled disaster for Americans. Hence he deflated the entire initiative by publicly withdrawing all U.S. involvement. It's time he did the same with SAICM and any other green globalony coming from the United Nations. After all, human-well-being should the central organizing principle for civilization



By Jeff Jacoby explains something that is obvious to economists but obvious to about no-one else

It didn't take Hurricane Katrina to move the issue of fuel efficiency into the spotlight. For decades, automakers have been urged to produce, consumers have been urged to drive, and the government has been urged to mandate more fuel-efficient cars. If the vehicles on our roads got more miles to the gallon, we have been told again and again, we could dramatically reduce the amount of oil we depend on -- and from that would flow benefits equally dramatic:

America's foreign policy would be strengthened, it is said, since we would no longer have to appease the unsavory regimes that control most of the world's crude oil. The economy would surge as money now spent on fuel was channeled to more productive uses. Mother Earth would be better off, since less fuel would mean less pollution and less drilling for oil. And at a time of $3-a-gallon gasoline, motorists would have particular reason to rejoice: Higher-mileage cars would need fewer expensive fill-ups.

Late last month, with Katrina still days away, the Bush administration proposed new regulations mandating improved gas mileage for pickup trucks, minivans, and some SUVs. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said the plan would save 10 billion gallons of gasoline by 2011. Critics dismissed his proposal as either trifling (''almost embarrassingly inadequate" -- Eric Haxthausen, Environmental Defense), or dangerous (''higher fuel efficiency standards increase traffic deaths" -- Sam Kazman, Competitive Enterprise Institute). But the basic idea -- that higher fuel efficiency can mean lower American gasoline use -- no one seemed to challenge.

If better mileage had political sex appeal before the hurricane, it had even more of it afterward. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino called a press conference to announce that the city's 450 diesel-powered cars would be replaced with more-efficient vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel. He promised to trade in his mayoral SUV -- a Ford Expedition -- for something smaller and more fuel-efficient. Then, ''as television cameras rolled," The Boston Globe reported, ''he climbed into the Public Health Commission's new Ford Escape hybrid SUV and drove away across the plaza."

Lawmakers have gotten into the act too. A bill introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature would shower benefits on drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles. Among them: a $2,000 tax deduction, the right to drive solo in carpool lanes, and lower fees at parking meters. All of which might be worth considering if using fuel more efficiently really would result in less fuel being used. But it won't. It will result in *more* fuel being used.

If that sounds counterintuitive, think about it this way: Would lowering the price of operating an automobile -- i.e., making driving cheaper -- lead to higher or lower consumption? Higher, of course: The cheaper something is, the more of it we generally want. Cars that run more efficiently make transportation cheaper by getting more miles out of each gallon of gas. Result: more miles driven and more gasoline consumed.

If that still sounds counter-intuitive, think about computers. Consider how much more use you get from your computer today than you did from the far less efficient PC you owned 15 years ago. As the efficiency of computers has climbed, so has the demand for them. Today it costs less than ever to process a byte of data by computer -- but more resources are devoted to computing than ever before. Driving is no different. If American cars averaged 45 miles per gallon, it would take less fuel than it does now to move a car from point X to point Y -- but the total amount of driving in America would rise, and so would the amount of gasoline consumed.

In *The Bottomless Well,* a myth-busting new book on energy and how we use it, Peter Huber, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute, and Mark Mills, a physicist and technology expert, acknowledge that this paradox -- ''the more efficient our technology, the more energy we consume" -- strikes many people as heretical. But the numbers bear it out. Thirty years ago, the energy cost of transportation was nine gallons per 100 vehicle miles. Today it is six gallons -- a 33 percent drop. Yet over the same period, the total amount of fuel consumed rose 56 percent -- from 115 billion gallons a year to more than 180 billion gallons.

This ''paradox of efficiency" is as true of cars and computers as of light bulbs, jet turbines, and air conditioners, Huber and Mills write. ''The more efficient they grew, the more of them we built, and the more we used them -- and the more energy they consumed overall."

None of this is meant as a defense of gas-guzzlers. As the owner of a '99 Toyota Camry who has never driven an SUV, I certainly don't oppose the quest for better mileage. If you have your heart set on a Prius, don't let me dissuade you from buying one. After all, fuel-efficient cars do have their advantages. Reducing American dependence on oil just doesn't happen to be one of them.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, September 23, 2005


Or maybe all those Martian SUVs

The climate on Mars is showing a warming trend and recent images have shown the first evidence of seismic activity on Earth's neighbor planet, scientists said on Tuesday. New gullies that did not exist three years ago have been pictured on a Mars sand dune -- just another of what scientists say are surprising discoveries found by cameras aboard the 8-year-old Mars Global Surveyor that are changing notions about the climate and formation of Mars.

"To see new gullies and other changes in Mars surface features on a time span of a few years presents us with a more active, dynamic planet than many suspected," said Michael Meyer, NASA's Mars Exploration Program chief scientist. Images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera on board the Surveyor showed that boulders have fallen down a Martian slope in the past two years. Michael Malin, principal investigator for the Mars Orbiter Camera, told reporters it was the first evidence scientists had seen of some kind of seismic activity, or possible "marsquake," on the planet. If so, "it could speak to the planet having warmth in the interior ... which means the interior could be more active than previously thought and there could be a habitable environment in the deeper regions of Mars," said Jack Mustard, geological sciences professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Malin said images of Mars' southern polar cap showed that scarps formed there are retreating at "a prodigious rate" of about 10 feet per Mars year. Mars years are nearly twice as long as Earth years. The images, documenting changes from 1999 to 2005, suggest the climate on Mars is presently warmer, and perhaps getting warmer still, than it was several decades or centuries ago just as the Earth experienced its own Ice Ages.

Malin said scientists had no explanation yet as to why Mars might be warming. The Mars Global Surveyor reached orbit in September 1997 for an initial one-martian-year mission. It was subsequently extended and is currently funded through 2006 although Meyer said it was technically capable of extending its mission even further. In November 2006 the Mars Global Surveyor will be joined by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was launched in August on a four-year mission to continue the search for evidence of how long Mars had water, which is the key to sustaining life.



The New Orleans flood barriers were so poorly designed and built that they collapsed while the water level was still well below the top of them

Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said that Katrina was just too massive for a system that was not intended to protect the city from a storm greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and that the floodwall failures near Lake Pontchartrain were caused by extraordinary surges that overtopped the walls.

But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals -- and the flooding of most of New Orleans.

In the weeks since Katrina drowned this low-lying city, there has been an intense focus on the chaotic government response to the flood. But Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center's deputy director, said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease. "We are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped," said van Heerden, who also runs LSU's Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.

In an interview Tuesday, Corps spokesman Paul Johnston said the agency still believes that storm surges overtopped the concrete floodwalls near the lake, then undermined the earthen levees on which they were perched, setting the stage for the breaches that emptied the lake into the city.

Johnston said the Corps intends to launch an investigation to make sure it is correct about that scenario. But he emphasized that Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it smashed into the Gulf Coast, whereas Congress authorized the Corps to protect New Orleans against a storm only up to Category 3. "The event exceeded the design," Johnston said.

The center's researchers agree that Katrina's initial surge from the southeast overwhelmed floodwalls along the New Orleans Industrial Canal, flooding the city's Lower Ninth Ward as well as St. Bernard Parish. They believe that a little-used Army Corps navigation canal known as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet helped amplify that surge, although they acknowledge that this surge was larger than the system was designed to control.

But the researchers have strong evidence that Katrina's subsequent surge from the north was several feet shy of the height that would have been necessary to overtop the 17th Street and London Avenue floodwalls. It was the failures of those floodwalls that emptied the lake into the rest of the city, filling most of New Orleans like a soup bowl.

On a tour Tuesday, researchers showed numerous indications that Katrina's surge was not as tall as the lakefront's protections. They showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They also pointed out how the breached floodwalls near the lake showed no signs of overtopping -- no splattering of mud, no drip lines and no erosion at their bases. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping.

The center has also completed a computerized "hindcast" of Katrina, which has confirmed the evidence before their eyes. Their model indicates that most of the surge around the lake and its nearby canals was less than 11 feet above sea level, and that none of it should have been greater than 13 feet. The Army Corps's flood-protection system for New Orleans was designed to handle surges of more than 14 feet above sea level. "This should not have been a big deal for these floodwalls," said oceanographer G. Paul Kemp, a hurricane expert who runs LSU's Natural Systems Modeling Laboratory. "It should have been a modest challenge. There's no way this should have exceeded the capacity."

The center's researchers said it is too early to say whether the breaches were caused by poor design, faulty construction or some combination. But van Heerden said the floodwalls at issue -- massive concrete slabs mounted on steel sheet pilings -- looked more like the sound barriers found on major highways. He also suggested that the slabs should have been interlocked

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Post from someone closely involved

Big Green's Big Lie is that Pombo is out to destroy the Act. Quoting an Activist Alert e-mail from the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC), "...greedy developers and the politicians they give money to are attempting to weaken America's safety net for fish, plants, and wildlife on the brink of extinction."

Never mind that Greens give far more money to Congressional races than developers. Never mind that the same e-mail from ESC solicits funds for just such a purpose.

Never mind that far-right property rights groups are just as angry at Pombo for giving into the Greens (which he didn't) as the Greens are angry at him for giving into the property rights crowd (which he didn't).

Never mind that most of the ESA fights are over species that are hardly on the brink of extinction -- like the California gnatcatcher, which is genetically indistinguishable from millions of Mexican gnatcatchers, or the fairy shrimp, which some of us remember advertised in the back of comic books as "sea monkeys."

One of the things you will hear about ESA is that thousands of scientists oppose reforming it. This claim is a hooey-pot so foul reporters should steer far, far away from mentioning it. Why? Because you don't have to know anything at all about endangered species to get on the list. Here's ESC's solicitation to sign up:

In order to show opposition to Rep. Pombo's bill from the scientific community, we are circulating a letter for signatures by scientists. If you are a scientist, please consider signing the letter. If you know of scientists who may be interested in signing, please forward this letter to them. Text of the scientist sign on letter can be found here.

What does an astrophysicist, volcanologist or electrical engineer know about ESA? Nothing, but they're all scientists. In fact, most biologists and botanists are unfamiliar with species outside their narrow window of expertise -- and they certainly don't understand how the Act works."


The environmental movement's strong opposition to a key provision of Rep. Richard Pombo's Endangered Species Act reform bill suggests they aren't serious about protecting the public's "right to know," says The National Center for Public Policy Research. It also suggests environmentalists aren't serious about saving endangered species, the group says. "For perhaps the first time, Congress is considering a proposal to stop penalizing private stewardship and thus create an ESA that offers the potential of being good for both people and good for species," said R.J. Smith, senior fellow at The National Center.

The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA), which was introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo and others September 19, includes a provision that would require the federal government to inform property owners within 90 days whether their proposed activities would harm species listed under the Endangered Species Act. But environmental groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity oppose the provision, arguing it would harm species.

"Environmental groups say they support the public's 'right to know,'" said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "But they apparently don't think this right should extend to American landowners-they would rather keep them in the dark." The 90-day review period could be a means of not only protecting the rights of property owners, but of saving species, according to The National Center. "So long as ambiguities exist on which activities are illegal and which are legal, which activities would harm species and which would not, property rights and endangered species will both be in jeopardy," said Peyton Knight, director of the John P. McGovern MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center. "A 90-day review period, if formulated correctly, could protect property owners by giving them the final agency decision they need to seek compensation for their losses under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But it would also protect species in so doing."

The Endangered Species Act has failed to save endangered species because its incentives are wrong. "Today private landowners live in fear of the ESA," said Ridenour. "Those who harbor endangered species on their property often find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions." To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many landowners preemptively sterilize their land to keep rare species away.

The Pombo proposal appears to have been significantly changed from a draft released this summer. With further refinement, several provisions of the proposal could relieve property owners of some of the ESA's harsh regulatory burden. Under one provision, property owners who lose the productive use of their land due to endangered species regulations would receive 100 percent of the fair market value in compensation for their losses. The provision also notes that any "ambiguities regarding fair market value shall be resolved in favor of the property owner." "Given its failure to recover species and its enormous burden on private property owners and regional economies, you would think Congress would want to repeal the ESA," said Knight. "Strong protection of private property rights ought to be a minimum standard for the Act."

The recent bill comes on the heels of a coalition letter widely circulated last week. The letter was signed by over 80 major national and state public policy organizations voicing their concern that TESRA's first draft would not have provided meaningful reform to the ESA. Plans revealed in the early draft to introduce "invasive species" regulations to the ESA have been removed from TESRA. Knight says this removal was essential. "Adding invasive species regulations to the ESA would have had a devastating impact on landowners," he said. "We're thankful that this has been removed from TESRA."

The House Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing on TESRA for Wednesday, September 21, and plans to vote on the bill the following day. As Congress is currently conducting hearings on eminent domain abuse, this may be a critical week for property rights. "Eminent domain abuse is a terrible injustice to be sure," said Ridenour, "But when government takes your land under eminent domain, you get compensated. Under the Endangered Species Act, government can take your property without paying you a dime."



Some excerpts from an interview with libertarian New York Times columnist John Tierney:

I was a science writer and would cover environmental issues, and I started to realize that if you really looked at the science you'd see there was all this dogmatism on one side. But the real influence on me was Julian Simon. I was assigned to do a story in 1985 for Science magazine about the population crisis, and Greg Easterbrook was assigned to do the other part of a double cover-story package out of Africa. It was going to be "The Problem: Population Growth; The Solution: Technology Transfer." And I was going to Kenya, the fastest growing country in history, to do a story about the crisis the country was in, and Greg was going to Tanzania to do a story about some new technology for helping low-income people survive. When we came back, I ended up saying: "Population growth is not the problem." And Greg said: "Technology transfer is not the solution." To the editors' credit, they ran it.

For that story, I had heard about Julian Simon, this kind of iconoclastic economist, and I had read some of his work debunking claims about endangered species. I didn't know much about population growth, but I knew I didn't just want to write yet another story about the "population bomb." I was hoping I could say something fresh about it, so I called him up. And I said to him: "You know, I'm going to Kenya, fastest growing country in history, the average woman is having eight children, the population is doubling every ten years," and I started rattling off all these disasters. And Julian interrupted me, he said: "Yes, isn't it wonderful that so many people can be alive in that country today?" It was just a whole different way to look at it.

His great advice was: "Don't look at it as an isolated problem, a current crisis. Try to look at the long-term trends, the big picture; try to see if things are getting better or worse, not just if someone has a problem." So I went there and there were all these foreign aid workers and the usual people getting money to study the population crisis. And I was trying to find some way to tell a story, and I found this documentary that had been made about ten years earlier called Mara Goli-a village in the fastest growing part of Kenya. It was a great documentary-there was this one woman in a pink dress who wanted to have 20 children. They're all on these very crowded farmlands, and you figure there's no more room to grow, they're all going to starve to death if they all want to have these children. So I thought I'd go back to this village and see what happened ten years later. I found the woman in the pink dress, and she had four kids. She said, "Oh, I don't want to have 20 kids, we can't do it." The interesting thing was that the families that were larger actually were doing better, which is what Julian had found, that there isn't this "more people equals less wealth" relationship.

Q: Is that because people wait to have more kids until they're more prosperous, or because the kids are helping out with the work, or something else?

Tierney: Well, it's a complicated equation. At the time, I remember thinking it didn't make any sense. You can say that people have more kids when they have more money; when you can afford it you have the kid. Though at a certain point of development, of course, that changes and richer people don't have more kids. Another theory at the time was that having more kids makes you work harder. At the time I was single and childless and it didn't seem to make that much sense, but I have a mortgage now and I see exactly what this does to people and how it spurs them.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Congressmen who want to amend 1973's landmark Endangered Species Act said the effort they launched Monday may succeed where previous attempts have failed because they now have significant bipartisan backing. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo plans to move his bill to the full House this week. He scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a measure that environmental groups say would gut a law that has saved dozens of species. Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza joined his fellow Californian in arguing the current law does more good for lawyers engaged in endless litigation over species protection than it does for the species themselves.

It's time to return to the original goal of the act, Cardoza and Pombo said: increasing threatened or endangered species' populations to the point that they can be removed from the list. The pair was joined by Republican U.S. Reps. George Radanovich of California and Greg Walden of Oregon at a Sacramento news conference at the same time the bill was formally introduced in Washington, D.C.

Aside from being the primary co-authors' home state, the location far from the nation's Capitol was intended to show the proposed law would return more control to state and local governments. Six Democrats joined eight Republicans as original co-sponsors of the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005," from Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming. Seven of the eight Republicans and two of the six Democrats are members of Pombo's committee. "We made the effort to actually sit down and get a bipartisan bill," Pombo said.

Pombo said some environmental groups - whom he would not name - joined with recreational users, property rights advocates, industry groups and Department of Interior officials in crafting the bill. His committee passed two bills last year to amend the law, but neither got a vote on the House floor. Earlier attempts to amend the law also went nowhere, including a 1997 effort that cleared a Senate committee. The latest effort would require the government to compensate property owners at fair market value for any loss that results from protecting endangered species, or else it could not enforce the act.

Environmental groups said that provision would be so expensive as to make the law useless, and would encourage developers to plan projects for environmentally sensitive areas to get compensation from the government.

The bill also would eliminate the act's requirement that critical habitat be designated for endangered species, substituting a provision that enough habitat be set aside to help each species recover. Pombo said that could be more or less land than under the current act, though environmental groups questioned the intent. Critics said the proposed legislation would politicize the act's enforcement with a provision requiring the Interior secretary to define what constitutes the "best available scientific information." They said other provisions would make it difficult to block damaging projects or add to the list of 1,370 plants and animals considered threatened or in danger of extinction.



"Amid the handwringing that has followed the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, a persistent question whispered in the background has been whether hurricanes are getting worse. A paper in this week's Science, by Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, and his colleagues suggests that they are, but only in one, specific way.

Hurricanes can form only over oceans that have a surface temperature above 26øC. That is well known. What is debatable is what effect, if any, raising the temperature beyond that has. It might increase the number of storms, the length they last, their maximum strength or the proportion that are strong. Or it might have no effect. Since average ocean-surface temperatures have risen by about half a degree since 1970, this is not an idle question, and it has, indeed, been asked in the past. But it has been asked largely of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, because they are fringed by countries that can afford to do the asking. Dr Webster, by contrast, has looked at the whole planet-or, rather, the six ocean basins on its surface that act as hurricane nurseries.

He and his team used satellite data to obtain consistent observations from around the world. (This was the reason they were able to go back only as far as 1970; before that, there were not enough observations.) Analysing the sea-surface temperatures in the six basins (the North Atlantic, the West Pacific, the East Pacific, the Southwest Pacific, the North Indian Ocean and the South Indian Ocean), they found statistically significant temperature rises in all but the Southwest Pacific.

Looking at the hurricanes themselves, though, they found no long-term trends in the number of storms per ocean basin or the length a storm lasts, except in the North Atlantic, where both increased. That is unfortunate news for Caribbean countries and the United States, which bear the brunt of those storms. But it suggests that whatever is increasing hurricane incidence it is not-or, at least not solely-to do with ocean warming. If it were, such increases would have shown up in other places where the sea is getting warmer.

Nor was there any increase in the maximum windspeed that storms attained anywhere. What there was, however, was a doubling around the world of the proportion of storms in the most destructive categories (4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale usually employed by meteorologists). And, although the exact rise in that proportion varied from basin to basin, all of them saw a significant increase.

What caused that increase is, of course, debatable-and since the second-largest percentage increase was in the Southwest Pacific, where no significant temperature rise was observed, leaping on changes in sea-surface temperature as the sole cause might be premature. But what Dr Webster and his colleagues have shown beyond much doubt is that something rather nasty has been happening. Time, perhaps, to batten down the hatches".

(From The Economist)


We are the first inhabitants of Sydney who will leave this city worse than we found it. In pursuit of the policy called "consolidation", we are turning one of the most liveable cities in the world into a congested rats' nest. Artificial restrictions on growth have increased housing prices so much that many of our children cannot afford to live here. It's a mighty political and social failure. Things are about to get worse. About 70 per cent of all new housing in the next quarter-century will be built within the existing city boundaries. That will be half a million new homes, most of them as part of an estimated 7000 blocks of flats, to be built in streets like yours and mine. More and more people will be forced to live in concrete boxes or to spend their lives paying off some of the largest mortgages in the world. More suburbs will be blighted, deprived of oxygen, grass and space by denser housing, as remnant bushland disappears and roads and rivers become clogged like arteries running through fat.

The policy of consolidation, sometimes also known as "smart growth", is international and enshrined in the State Government's Metropolitan Strategy. It is based on a number of false assertions that fly in the face of common sense or have been exposed as false by academic research. Yet they persist, for reasons we will consider later. But first let's look at those assertions. The biggest is the claim, popular with all ideologues, that there is no alternative. We are constantly told that Sydney has reached its natural limits. In fact there are enormous areas of empty land on the city fringes, as anyone who drives along the Northern Road from Penrith to Camden can see. As the Australian Institute of Urban Studies demonstrated years ago, there is huge potential for extending the city into the Southern Highlands, half an hour by fast train from Central station. So there are alternatives.

The next big argument is environmental. Many people assume Sydney can only expand by eating into national parks, but as the two examples above show, this is not true. It is also claimed that the environmental cost of more freestanding houses on traditional blocks of land (700 square metres or more) is no longer acceptable, mainly because they use too much water. The first issue here involves equity: why should those who already own suburban houses on decent blocks be able to deny them to the young, the poor, and newcomers? In any case this is a furphy. Sydney's water crisis is as artificial as its land shortage. It could be solved in a few years by changes to the pricing system and the introduction of large-scale recycling. We could even build a new dam. (Many environmentalists are opposed to this but they shouldn't be. Dams involve the green ideal: large areas of bush - the catchment areas - from which humans are excluded.)

A variant of the environmental argument involves public transport. It's often claimed that we need to get people to stop driving their cars and use public transport, and that consolidation will achieve this. Unfortunately, evidence from around the world shows this to be wrong. Denser housing increases public transport in the affected area by a little and road use by a lot, so creating traffic congestion. Tony Recsei, the president of anti-consolidation group Save Our Suburbs, notes that "in cities all over the world, traffic congestion increases with density, even in cities with public transport systems Sydney can't hope to match". The reason for this is obvious: public transport, no matter how much is spent on it, just doesn't go to most of the places most of us want to go to when we leave our houses. To ignore this, as many planners and their supporters so persistently do, is to indulge in nostalgic left-wing fantasy.....

I suspect it's driven by something more prosaic, a desperate effort by government to minimise the increasing expense to itself of providing new housing. For Sydney's first 200 years, new suburbs were usually opened up with very basic facilities, and gradually improved over a long period. But today we have greatly increased expectations and a media ready to pounce on shortcomings. The old approach is no longer acceptable. So, believing it is cheaper, government crams most new housing into established areas to take advantage of existing infrastructure, from water pipes to schools. When it does provide building sites on the fringes, it now charges developers (that is, homebuyers) for infrastructure costs that would once have been borne by the general budget. So the housing crisis is a corner of the bigger problem, of government trying to cope with budgetary problems that persist despite the growing prosperity of society.

The result of all this is the destruction of the traditional suburban way of life that has suited the vast majority of Sydneysiders. Governments have been assisted in this by certain planners and environmentalists antipathetic to that tradition, indeed contemptuous of the suburbs. They desire to change our cities into a green fantasy of Paris, in which cafes and bicycle paths play a big role. They speak of bringing the vibrancy of Manhattan to Sydney, and contrast this dream with the tedium of ordinary life in a freestanding house with a garden - a life that millions of immigrants have crossed the world to achieve.

They denigrate this bourgeois utopia by calling it "urban sprawl", despite the fact that space and sprawl are part of Australians' cultural heritage. They call their dreams for the city "smart growth", to imply that any alternative is dumb. Government has turned to these intellectuals to provide the arguments to justify its budget-driven assault on suburbia......

Ian Macfarlane, the governor of the Reserve Bank, has suggested young people should leave Sydney because house prices are so high. It's sad this hasn't created a greater sense of shame among those who have created this situation. But then, it's not the children of the elite who are being driven out of their city.

In Cox's view: "The government advocates prefer to think Sydney's growth is the root of the housing affordability problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta are the fastest growing large urban areas in the English-speaking New World. Each is already larger than Sydney and growing faster. They also have the most affordable housing markets. This is because [they] have been careful not to apply Soviet breadline policies to their housing markets."...

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.