Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conservatives Are No More Biased About Science Than Liberals Are

The article below by psychological researchers Erik C. Nisbet and R. Kelly Garrett is a curious one.  I have no great argument with either their conclusions or their methodology but it is a sad day when scientific claims are examined in this way.  Disputes about scientific claims should be examined by presentations and discussions of the evidence only.  The article below does not do that.  It treats the facts as irrelevant.  It claims that ideology dictates scientific conclusions, not the facts underlying the conclusions.

The sad thing is that they are obviously right in lots of cases,  but it seems a great pity that they could not survey the evidence pro- and con- for the scientific conclusions that they study.

I like to think that  I am persuaded solely by reason and the facts.  I can well imagine that in saying that I provoke laughter.  But I think I can substantiate it.

Christians sometimes say that I am their favorite atheist.  And they have good grounds for that.  I am basically a very religious person and was a very fundamentalist Christian in my teens.  I am perfectly at home even with a demanding and puritanical religion.  But I also have studied philosophy from an early age and I cannot fault Carnap's argument that all metaphysical statements are meaningless.  So I have been an extreme atheist for the whole of my adult life.  I don't even believe that the statement "God exists" is meaningful.  Can you get more thoroughgoing atheism than that?

But due to my religious instincts and religious past, I still have warm feelings towards Christians and regularly defend them.  So some people CAN come to conclusions about the world that are ideologically inconvenient -- VERY inconvenient in my case.

And the undoubted fact that Northeast Asians (in China, Japan, Korea) have markedly higher IQs than people of European origin might well be bothersome to a person of European origin like myself and I could be inclined to deny it -- as Leftists do.  But I actually accept the reality with perfect equanimity.  I publicize it in fact.

I suspect that many atheists find something or somebody in the world about them to worship.  The way many obviously intelligent academics pore over the works of Karl Marx seems to me to be pretty religious.  "What Marx was really saying" is a phrase that I have heard from them "ad nauseam".  They treat Das Kapital in the same way that fundamentalist Christians  treat the Bible.  Their examination of it is very reminiscent of the theological disputes among Christians. It is certainly their holy book.

And I know why they do that.  Marx was a great hater. He hated just about everyone -- even the working class from which he hoped so much.  And Leftism is a religion of hate.  Leftists hate the world about them.  They hate "the system", in their words.  That is why they yearn to "fundamentally transform" it, to use Obama's phrase.  So haters like a great hater.  Marx FEELS right to Leftists, even if no application of Marxism has worked even passably well.

So have I too found a new object of worship to replace my early Christianity?  I don't think so.  I am not only an extreme atheist, I am also a complete one. I don't believe in Karl Marx, Jesus Christ or global warming. And I also don't believe in the unhealthiness of salt, sugar and fat. How skeptical can you get?  But I could be said to worship reason, I think.

Getting back to the article below:  The authors reveal themselves to be very unscientific.  Though maybe they had to be in order to get their stuff published.  Take for instance this paragraph:

"We note in particular that our findings neither exempt nor validate the well-organized and heavily funded “climate denialist movement.” This movement engages in extensive public communication campaigns and lobbying efforts intended to misrepresent the science and scientific consensus about the issue"

Where is the evidence that climate skeptics are "well-organized and heavily funded"?  They quote no evidence because there is none.  The overwhelming majority of climate skeptics are just isolated individuals calling foul over what they see as bad science. And very few of us have received a cent in connection with our writings on climate. I have received nil and other skeptics I know say the same.

The statement is however a rather good example of psychological projection.  Warmists receive vast financial support not only from government but even from energy companies such as Exxon.  Leftists understand people so poorly that they judge other people by themselves. They HAVE to believe that we are like them.

Despite my criticism of the article below, I hope it is clear that I do agree with their fundamental premise that there is such a thing as "motivated social cognition". That people see what they want to see or expect to see is proverbial and has often been demonstrated in psychological experiments.  Even the classical Asch conformity experiment is as good a demonstration of motivated social cognition as any.

And motivated social cognition provides an excellent explanation for the fact that there is a large degree of consensus among academics about the dangers of global warming.  Solomon Asch would not be surprised by it. Let me elaborate:

At law, one routinely asks "Cui Bono" (who benefits?) in deciding guilt or innocence of some crime. It's often the decisive factor in arriving at a conviction.  And looking at who benefits from a belief in dangerous global warming makes it crystal clear why academics support that belief.  The global warming scare has produced a huge shower of research money to fall on climatologists  and anyone else who can get into the act.  All academics hunger for research grants and the global warming scare provides those  lavishly.  Say that your research supports global warming and you are in clover.  If we go by the legal precedents, the consensus among academics is a consensus about the desirability of research grants more than anything else.

And the same thing goes for journalists and newspaper proprietors.  Scares sell newspapers and global warming is a scare that can be milked in all sorts of ways. John Brignell has a long list of the ways.

So where is the impact of the article below likely to be?  I am confident that it will have very little impact.  It goes against the kneejerk way the Green/Left respond to skeptics.  Rather than challenge the facts that skeptics put forward, the Green/Left simply resort to abuse.  They say anything derogatory about skeptics that they can think of.  They fallaciously think that abusing the arguer answers the argument.

And one of the commonest types of abuse that they resort to is to say that skeptics are psychologically defective in some way.  One such way is that skeptics and conservatives generally are supposed to be especially closed-minded and ideologically biased.  The article below sinks that accusation rather well. But the Green/Left cannot afford to lose an arrow out of their slender quiver of them so the study below will simply be ignored.  Ignoring facts is a standard Leftist defence mechanism so will be trotted out on this occasion with the greatest of ease

I could say more but I have already said much so I will end with an anecdote.  Sometimes in company when some adverse weather event is being discussed, I say: "It must be due to global warming".  Every time I say that people laugh. Skepticism about global warming is very widespread.  As far as I can see, it is only a few Leftist barrow-pushers who believe in it and I wonder how sincere their belief is.

I excerpt below just the "guts" of the article I have been discussing:

Testing our partisan brains

Our own study focused on the second explanation for ideological divides and tested whether conservative and liberal trust in science varies by topic.

Recruiting a diverse group of 1,500 adults from a national online panel of volunteers, participants were randomly assigned to read scientifically accurate statements about different science topics.

Some participants read about issues exhibiting a significant partisan divide, including climate change, evolution, nuclear power, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of natural gas, while others read about issues that tend to be viewed as ideologically neutral, namely geology and astronomy.

Nuclear power and fracking are often seen by liberals as threatening their environmental values. Evolution and climate change are more often contested by conservatives because they challenge the social and economic beliefs associated with their ideology.

We went into our experiment expecting that liberals and conservatives would experience negative emotional reactions when reading statements challenging their views, which would increase their skepticism to the claim.

We also anticipated that participants would be motivated to resist the science, experiencing feelings of threat and arguing against the presented information.

Each of these factors would lead individuals to feel more distrustful of the source of the unwelcome information, the scientific community.

Unsurprisingly, we found that conservatives who read statements about climate or evolution had a stronger negative emotional experience and reported greater motivated resistance to the information as compared to liberals who read the same statements and other conservatives who read statements about geology or astronomy.

This in turn lead these conservatives to report significantly lower trust in the scientific community as compared to liberals who read the same statement or conservatives who read statements about ideologically neutral science.

Significantly, we found a similar pattern amongst liberals who read statements about nuclear power or fracking. And like conservatives who read statements about climate change or evolution, they expressed significantly lower levels of trust in the scientific community as compared to liberals who read the ideologically-neutral statements.

Biased attitudes toward scientific information and trust in the scientific community were evident among liberals and conservatives alike, and these biases varied depending on the science topic being considered.

An additional distressing finding was that though liberals who read statements about climate change and evolution reported greater trust in science than conservatives who did the same, they also reported significantly less trust in the scientific community than liberals who read ideologically neutral statements about geology or astronomy.

This suggests that highly partisan, high profile science can result in an overall loss of public confidence in the scientific community, even amongst those likely to trust the evidence.

We wish to stress that demonstrating that both conservatives and liberals are prone to responding to ideologically unpalatable scientific information in a biased manner is not an excuse for either side to do so.

We note in particular that our findings neither exempt nor validate the well-organized and heavily funded “climate denialist movement.” This movement engages in extensive public communication campaigns and lobbying efforts intended to misrepresent the science and scientific consensus about the issue; it funds and targets political candidates; and it attempts to intimidate climate scientists.


MOVIE REVIEW of "Kingsman: The Secret Service", only recently released and the most subversive anti-AGW movie yet

Anthony Cox below rightly reports that the movie has a large basis in fact.  The Green/Left do indeed despise humanity and want  to reduce the human population.  And many do see humanity as a "disease" infecting and damaging the planet.  And as psychohistorian Richard Koenigsberg points out at length, that is also how Hitler saw Jews -- as parasites infecting Germany.

Leftists rarely know much about history and it shows.  They keep on repeating themselves with no awareness of their past mistakes and failures.  Because they know so little history, they cannot learn from it.

Note that Croly and others of the war-mongering American "Progressives" around the beginning of the 20th century also relied on the human body as an analogy to the state and justified their policies as "healing" the body of America.  The more things change, the more they remain the same -- at least among Leftists

Some movies are unintentionally anti-AGW because they are so pretentious like Atavar or just plain stupid like Noah.

Some are subtle and sly in their critique of AGW like Interstellar, a great movie or Captain America: The Winter Soldier another great piece of cinema.

But there is nothing subtle or sly about Kingsman: The Secret Service; this movie presents in Technicolour the awful nature of alarmists; they are elitist, narcissistic and misanthropic. And riddled in hypocrisy.

The villain is Valentine, played by Samuel Jackson. Valentine is another tech billionaire who despises his fellow man for causing AGW. His solution is to kill off 99.9% of the human population.

His sales pitch to the rich and famous is classic alarmist agigprop. Valentine tells them that humans are a virus raising the temperature of the living Earth. If the virus isn’t destroyed the planet’s fever will worsen and either the planet will fight back and kill the disease of the disease will kill the planet.

The idea that humans are a disease or parasite has underpinned the AGW narrative and is espoused by all the leading AGW scientists and particularly AGW’s many rich supporters like Bill Gates.

In Kingsman Valentine is seen convincing Obama of his vision which is ironic since Obama’s chief scientist, John Holdren, is an avid supporter of forced reduction of humanity. In real life Obama would have taking no convincing.

Valentine, as the archetypal rich supporter of AGW,  has a tenuous hold on real life. He thinks he is living in a movie and can’t stand the sight of blood even though he is prepared to kill billions.

Valentine is the perfect portrayal of the elitist loon who supports AGW. He has made his vast wealth from his society and now as a matter of vanity will destroy that society. The thought that his lifestyle will cease when the society is destroyed doesn’t enter his thinking. This is cognitive dissonance on a grand scale.

Valentine implants chips in the chosen ones so they can resist the doomsday device he has perfected.

In a delicious twist all the elistists, including Obama (and Prince Charles) literally lose their heads when the device backfires.

The movie wittily portrays the religious nature of AGW belief when Valentine tests his device on a bible bashing Southern Baptist church. The message is plain: when religion claims to be fact trouble is inevitable. This is what has happened with AGW: it is religion masquerading as fact. Armed with the pseudoscience of AGW rich crackpots like Valentine can live out their dreams. At the end Valentine can’t tell reality from his ego generated bubble of fantasy.

The movie offers no formal solution to the blight of public corruption by the AGW scam and relies on a steadfast and very aggressive secret organisation to violently eradicate the AGW zealots and hypocrites.

We should be so lucky in the real world.


Extreme weather the new normal in Australia's disaster-prone neighbourhood

As soon as I saw the headline above I smelled a rat.  I then deployed my pesky habit of going back to the raw data underlying the report.  I did not have to go far.  I read here:  

"In order for a disaster to be entered into the database at least one of the following criteria has to be fulfilled: - 10 or more people reported killed; - 100 people reported affected; - a call for international assistance; - declaration of a state of emergency"

So the finding is not about climate but about people. It does not list cyclones, hurricanes etc. but rather the number of people impacted.  And with growing populations in third world countries -- where most of the casualties occur -- one must expect more people to be impacted when severe weather strikes.  The data therefore tell us NOTHING about "climate change"

If it seems to you that major humanitarian emergencies are happening more often, you're right. Extreme weather events like the one that devastated Vanuatu on Saturday are on the rise. Since 2000, the average number of climate-related disasters each year has been 44 per cent higher than between 1994 and 2000 and well over twice the level during the 1980s, a data-based managed by Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters shows.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a disaster risk reduction conference in Japan on Saturday that climate change is making extreme weather events the new normal.

"Over the last two decades, more than four out of every five disasters were related to the climate change phenomenon," he said. "The economic toll is as high as $300 billion every year."

Developing countries are disproportionately affected – they account for about 95 per cent of all people killed by natural disasters – and once again small, vulnerable nations have been hit hardest. Cyclone Pam caused damage in Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands before tearing through Vanuatu.

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale has stressed the long-term consequences of the disaster.

"All I can say is that our hope for prospering in future have been sedated."

Australia's immediate neighbourhood is especially prone to extreme weather events. The latest World Risk Index, collated by the United Nations University, showed five of the 10 countries most vulnerable to disasters are near Australia. The index's rankings have proved alarmingly accurate. Vanuatu was ranked No.1 on the index, and the Philippines, which was shattered by Cyclone Haiyan only 16 months ago, was ranked No.2. Other Australian neighbours among the top 10 were Tonga, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Australia is a significant contributor to the global humanitarian system and has a special responsibility in the Pacific region.

"As one of the biggest and strongest economies in the region, Australia really should be leading the way in helping our closest neighbours to prepare for and recover from disasters such as Cyclone Pam," said Paul Ronalds, the head Save the Children Australia.

Australia contributes about 60 per cent of all the aid given in the Pacific Islands and is best equipped to lead major humanitarian operations in the region. With the humanitarian system under strain across the globe, it is likely Australia will be called upon more often to provide assistance after extreme weather events in the Pacific.


The Last Battle of Climate Alarmism?

Written by Dr Vincent Gray

The Environmentalist religious dogma that humans are destroying the earth has spawned many scams. Its most ambitious project, veritably a Superscam has been the claim that the climate is controlled by human emissions of so-called greenhouse gases.

These cause global warming which will ultimately destroy us unless we cease using 'fossil fuels.' The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 in order to supply scientific evidence to support this scam.

It was realised from the start that the task was impossible.

The earth does not have a temperature and there is no way that a scientifically acceptable average temperature can currently be derived. it is not possible to know whether the earth is warming or cooling, Then, the climate is constantly changing. No part is ever in equilibrium.

The trace gases in the atmosphere are not well mixed and their concentrations change constantly in every place. It is not possible to derive an average concentration for any of them. Then, the science of the study of the climate, built up over many centuries as the discipline of meteorology, has officially established weather forecasting services in most countries. These services now measure many climate properties with a variety of instruments, including satellites.

The measurements are used in the most up to date computer models based on currently accepted physics, thermodynamics and statistics. They provide the only scientifically valid daily forecasts of future weather for every part of the earth.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide measurement has not proved to be useful and they do not even bother to measure it. It is simply not possible to overcome these difficulties with honest science, It has therefore been necessary to employ fraud, dishonesty, distortion fabrication, massive public relations, and enormous sums of money.

Jim Hansen of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York provided a pseudo global temperature technique that has proved useful to the scammers. He admits that there is no such thing as an absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT : He calls it elusive) Meteorologists know it is impossible to measure a plausible average surface air temperature. Instead they record a daily maximum and minimum in a protected screen at their weather stations. Today they often also measure at different intervals as well.

These are a useful guide to temperature conditions.
Hansen and Lebedeff 1987 decided to ignore what Hansen had said was impossible. They assigned a constant temperature to each weather station for a whole month and assumed that this temperature applies also to a radius of 100 km around each weather station. The chosen temperature was the total average maximum and minimum temperatures measured at that station for a each month, the sum of the statistically unacceptable maximum/minimum averages.

They considered that could correlate each station figure with the next weather station. But their correlation coefficient was only 0.5 or lower. By subtractimg the average from stations in all latitude/longitude boxes from the average in each box they got an annual global temperature anomaly record. There is no mention of the very large inaccuracy figures that should accompany this exercise, or of the varying number and quality of the global weather stations, both currently and over time.

The IPCC has used the supposed trend of a measly few decimals of a degree of this concoction to prove that global warming is happening and will inevitably rise dangerously. Now it has broken down.

This trend has hardly changed for 18 years while greenhouse gases have supposedly increased The IPCC has resorted to desperate measures. Instead of annual warming we now have to worry about decadal warming, Efforts are escalated to fudge the figures and publicise a slight rise of hundredths of a degree at any opportunity The required treatment of atmospheric carbon dioxide was made by Charles Keeling of the Scripps Institute off Oceanography La Jolla California.

The grossly oversimplified climate models demand that atmospheric carbon dioxide is globally constant, only increasing from more human emissions.

This was a problem because there exist some 40,000 previous measurements going back to the early 19th century, published in famous peer reviewed journals, sometimes by Nobel Prize-winners. These measurements showed that surface concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are never constant and vary from one place to another, time of day, season, and wind direction.

Keeling suppressed this early information. He gave the excuse that he had a slightly different measurement method and he had discovered fhaf there was a background concentration which was almost constant and increased steadily with increased emissions. Keeling based his figures on sites at the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Oahu. Hawaii, and a site in Antarctica.

In order to come close to a globally constant value at any one time it was required that most other measurements were made from coastal sites on winds from the ocean. Any figures that did not comply are rejected as noise.

A difficulty was that the steadily increasing figures over the years did not easily agree with the rather sporadic behaviour of the approved global temperature. Now this carbon dioxide scam has broken down.

The NASA satellite AIRS system now provides frequent global maps of carbon dioxide concentration showing that it is not well mixed, is highly variable, and tends to be higher in regions of high emissions. The officially sponsored background is no longer relevant, and the fact that the supposed warming effect of carbon dioxide is logarithmic with concentration means that increases have little effect in high concentration areas and is most effective over forests and pastures where it is beneficial.

The IPCC climate models defy all of the accumulated knowledge of climate science currently practised by meteorologists and replace it with a system of absurdities which has been amazingly successful.

Instead of the ever changing climate we know. It is now assumed to be static. All heat exchanges are by radiation. Admittedly the input and output are radiation but everything else in the climate combines all methods of heat exchange, predominantly conduction, convection and latent heat change.

The sun is assumed to shine all day and might with equal intensity. The earth is dead where living creatures are impossible except they emit greenhouse gases. All the past climate effects known to meteorology are parameterized and assumed to be constant.

There is no hope that such a model could possibly forecast future climate and the IPCC even admits this. They say the models provide projections, never predictions.

At the beginning they avoided being proved wrong by projecting only so far ahead that they could be sure nobody living would survive to check. The IPCC has now been running for 25 years and the early reports had to show that the models fitted their temperature record. Now it doesn’t.

Also the models could be used to calculate present upper troposphere temperatures, and that does not work either. They are therefore in deep trouble. All they can do is prevent people from telling the truth.

Every news bulletin, every newspaper must have a daily reference to global warming or carbon footprint or endure protests from climate activists who must all write letters to the press and organise rentacrowd gatherings of environmental devotees to picket any discussion venues. There must be constant lectures by those most financially dependent on the scam.

With luck the downfall of Valhalla will take place at the Paris Climate meeting in December where the attempts to impose a global climate dictatorship will either fail miserably or fizzle slowly. What a relief!


Tidal lagoons: another green rip-off?

This latest green initiative is promising, but it will cost British taxpayers a fortune

The headlong charge to make the UK a low-carbon economy is reflected in the desperation of both the current Lib-Con coalition government and the Labour opposition to find and fund new ways of producing green energy. The scale of the problem is hard to underestimate. As Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, noted last weekend: ‘We need to invest around £100 billion in the electricity system alone by 2020 as we replace ageing and polluting sources of power with new, cleaner alternatives. But investment is running at half that level.’

Flint was talking to the Observer about Labour’s idea of green premium bonds to encourage the public to invest in new forms of energy. While it may be copying a policy that is already in place in Germany, it sounds like an expensive way to raise money when the government can borrow from the financial markets very cheaply. It’s just the kind of wonkish, half-thought-through announcement we can expect more of in the run-up to the election. But when it comes to green energy, cost barely seems to be a consideration in the rush to be seen to be green.

Last week, for example, plans for producing electricity in the UK from tidal lagoons were unveiled. The first, to be built off the coast of Swansea, will involve building a sea wall five miles long with turbines embedded into it. As the tide comes in, water will flow through the turbines to produce power and the process will be reversed as the tide goes out. The proposal would involve building six such lagoons – four in Wales plus two in England.

In many ways, this is good news. When green energy is so often discussed in terms of small-scale local schemes, or overshadowed by the demand to use less rather than generate more, the plans for tidal lagoons are on a huge scale and involve billions of pounds of investment. Unlike wind power, which is unpredictable, the timing of electricity production from the lagoons would be predictable because we know exactly when tides come in and out, making the electricity much easier to manage on the National Grid.

And a sea wall – something that could have other benefits besides producing power – is far less likely to incur the wrath of local residents who often hate their local landscape being covered in wind turbines. With offshore wind turbines – which are much more productive than their equivalents on land – proving to be stubbornly expensive to build and maintain, tidal lagoons could solve a number of problems.

The trouble is the cost. The developers want a guaranteed price of £168 per megawatt-hour (MWh) from the Swansea scheme. That’s far higher than the cost of electricity from coal (more like £50 per MWh) or even onshore wind (roughly £80 per MWh). The only redeeming feature of tidal lagoons is that the costs might, in the long run, come down to marginally less than the eye-bleedingly expensive price agreed for power from the Hinkley Point C nuclear-power plant, at £95 per MWh. Moreover, if we going to bank on the costs of tidal power coming down as more facilities get built, maybe we should give the same benefit of the doubt to nuclear, the costs of which would no doubt fall as more plants were built. That is if they are ever given the chance, given the lingering anti-nuclear feeling among green groups and in the corridors of power.

Such is the price to be paid for low-carbon energy – and it will be end-users who pay that price. Not only will it make high energy bills even higher, but it makes the UK even less attractive to heavy industrial users of electricity. At a time when the government is trying to ‘rebalance’ the economy towards industry and away from services, making large-scale production even more expensive by bumping up the price of power seems irrational.

In the dash to decarbonise the UK economy in the name of preventing climate change, the result could be far greater hardship. There are often claims that green policies will produce lots of jobs, but the reality is almost certainly the opposite: massive subsidies to particular firms – green-energy producers, recycling firms, and so on – at the expense of many others. The tidal lagoon project is a case in point. It is only the obsession with global warming that means schemes like these tidal lagoons are considered viable at all. Meanwhile, natural gas produced by fracking is struggling to get off the ground, despite having enormous potential to produce cheap, reliable and flexible power. Where gas replaces coal, it leads to lower emissions than before. Yet green groups have been at the forefront of trying to block its development in the UK.

In short, tackling climate change through making energy more expensive could have worse consequences than rising temperatures (and would do little to prevent rising temperatures).

It is one thing to favour low-carbon solutions where there is little difference in price. There can be benefits in terms of increasing security of supply, providing some insurance against fluctuating fuel prices and producing less local air pollution. But those benefits do not justify the enormous sums of money being thrown at renewable-energy schemes, at the expense of the people who need the energy. Instead of spending a fortune on dubious energy sources funded by whizz-bang schemes like Flint’s premium bonds, maybe we should have a serious conversation about the damage that green policies could be having


Crony biofuel politics wag the dog

A governor and his son lobby for ethanol – and expect presidential candidates to endorse it

Paul Driessen

Talk about the Norfolk terrier tail wagging the Great Dane. If they are to have any hope of winning their party’s nomination, Republican presidential hopefuls better support ethanol mandates, Hawkeye State politicos told potential candidates at the recent Iowa Agricultural Summit in Des Moines.

“Don’t mess with the RFS,” Republican Governor Terry Branstad warned, referring to Renewable Fuel Standards that require refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline. “It is the Holy Grail, and I will defend it,” said Rep. Steve King, another Iowa Republican. It is vital for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preventing dangerous climate change and weather extremes, said others.

Corn ethanol is big in Iowa, the March 7-8 Ag Summit kicked off the state’s 2016 election debates, big-time GOP donor Bruce Rastetter made his fortune from ethanol and hosted the event, and the first presidential primary will be held in Iowa. Moreover, Gov. Branstad’s son Eric directs the multi-million-dollar America’s Renewable Future campaign, which co-sponsored the summit and hopes to convince increasingly skeptical voters that the federal government must retain the RFS or even expand it.

Failure to back the RFS means sayonara to any White House hopes, candidates were told. Appropriately chastened, many normally free market proponents dutifully took to the podium to endorse the mandates.

Some cited national security as a justification. The RFS reduces demand for foreign oil, Jeb Bush asserted. Biofuels are a way for America to “fuel itself,” said Mike Huckabee. “Every gallon of ethanol … is one less gallon you have to buy from people who hate your guts,” Lindsay Graham added.

Others focused on allegedly unfair competition. Rick Santorum said the RFS helps ensure that other competitive products besides oil and natural gas “are allowed into [the energy] stream.” Scott Walker recanted his previous opposition and said someday the ethanol industry won’t need these mandates, but right now it “needs government assistance,” because “we don’t have a free and open marketplace.”

Bush and Santorum added that ethanol boosts corn-state economies and creates jobs “in small town and rural America.” Chris Christie said the RFS is “what the law requires” and we need to comply with it. Rick Perry seemed to say it’s time to end federal mandates – and let states pick winners and losers.

That’s fine. But now that they have bowed to the biofuel gods, kowtowed to the small cadre of Iowa corn growers, sought the blessings of crony capitalist campaign contributors, and repeated the standard deviations from facts about green energy, climate change and national security, perhaps they will pay closer attention to other candidates, and to what’s actually happening in the energy and climate arenas.

Presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul remained firm in their belief that the RFS should be phased out now. Cruz has joined Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others in sponsoring bills to abolish the corn ethanol RFS over five years.

If refiners and gas stations really are working with big oil to cut off access, Cruz suggested, “there are remedies in the federal antitrust laws to deal with that.” Otherwise “the right answer” is to let biofuels keep innovating and producing on their own, “and not have Washington dictating what is happening.”

Biofuel’s problem is not lack of access or unfair competition. It’s that the world has changed since ethanol subsidies and mandates were enacted in 2005. Back then, people more plausibly believed we were running out of petroleum, and global warming might become a serious problem.

But then hydraulic fracturing took off. This steadily improving 60-year-old technology turned the United States into the world’s #1 producer of oil and natural gas – and the U.S. is now importing one-third of its oil, instead of two-thirds. Gasoline prices have plunged, making ethanol much less cost-competitive.

Motorists are buying less gasoline than the 2005 and 2007 ethanol mandates envisioned, so refiners don’t need even 14 billion gallons of corn ethanol a year, much less the 15 billion statutory cap. They’ve hit a “blend wall,” and are being forced to buy far more ethanol than they can blend into E10 gasoline. They certainly don’t need an extra 21 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022 – and innovators still haven’t figured out how to make that “advanced biofuel” at a profit.

Using tax dollars to prop up new subsidies, and imposing 15% ethanol gasoline mandates, would be a ridiculous response. The last thing we need is more citizen cash for crony capitalist cellulosic capers.

As to climate fears, no Category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States since late 2005, the longest such period in more than a century, and perhaps since the Civil War. Tornado activity is also down. Arctic ice has returned to normal and Antarctic ice is at record levels. Sea levels are rising at barely six inches per century. The global frequency and duration of droughts, rainfall and snowfall is within historic norms.

Where is the crisis? The fossil fuel link? If human carbon dioxide emissions drive climate change, did steadily rising atmospheric CO2 levels cause all these blessings and normalcy, and average global temperatures to hold steady for 18 years? The far more likely answer is that the sun and other natural forces still dominate climate and weather systems, as they have throughout Earth and human history – and as actual, real-world temperature, climate, weather, solar and other observations strongly suggest.

IPCC, EPA, NASA, Obama, Penn State, East Anglia University and other climate models and alarms are completely at odds with what is happening on Planet Earth. No wonder alarmists are now so desperate that they blame every weather event on fossil fuels, and viciously attack scientists who point to reality … and threaten their Climate Crisis, Inc. money machine and regulatory power grab.

On top of all the corporate and scientist welfare, rip-offs and McCarthyite tactics, the manmade climate cataclysm mantra has also created a steady stream of corruption and scandal. Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was forced to resign, after he and his fiancĂ© Cylvia Hayes profited (and failed to report $118,000 in income) from “green energy” schemes. Current Oregon Global Warming Commission chairman Angus Duncan is also president of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which makes millions from regional and national sales of renewable energy and “Green Tag” carbon offsets; he also helped write the state’s climate change strategy and cap-and-trade system!

Tens of billions of dollars in wheeling, dealing, nepotism and corporate-environmentalist-political cronyism is intolerable. The Branstad governor-son arrangement raises sniff tests of its own.

Then there are the practical problems. A few corn and soybean farmers get rich. But meat and poultry producers pay far more for feed, and family food bills keep rising. Perhaps worse, says the World Bank, turning half of the U.S. corn crop into fuel creates aid and food shortages in poor nations. More people stay hungry longer, and more die of malnutrition and starvation. The UN Food and Agriculture Association says this has caused food riots and calls it an environmental “crime against humanity.”

Ethanol-blends get fewer miles per tank than pure gasoline. They collect water, corrode engine parts, and cause serious maintenance and repair problems for lawn mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, emergency generators and other small engines. Classic car enthusiast and former Late Night host Jay Leno says ethanol “eats through fuel pump diaphragms, old rubber fuel lines or pot metal parts, then leaks out on hot engines … and ka-bloooooie!” The older cars catch fire – far more often than before E10 was required.

A new Oregon State University study says biofuels barely reduce fossil fuel use and are likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. And US Department of Energy and other studies demonstrate that producing biofuels requires unsustainable amounts of land, water, fertilizers, pesticides and fossil fuels.

Not surprisingly, even many likely Iowa voters are now skeptical of federal ethanol mandates. Nearly half of them no longer support the RFS even if it helps some Iowa farmers. Republican presidential candidates who surrendered to a gaggle of Iowa corn growers and renewable fuel interests need to reflect long and hard on these ethanol and corruption realities, and the broader national interest.

Via email


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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