Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day Dopes

John Stossel
Expect more craziness this weekend. Earth Day is Saturday. This year’s theme: Government must “do more” about climate change because “consequences of inaction are too high to risk.”

They make it sound so simple:

1) Man causes global warming.

2) Warming is obviously harmful.

3) Government can stop it.

Each claim is dubious or wrong.

This weekend at a movie, I was surprised to be assaulted again by former Vice President Al Gore. In a preview, a puffy-looking Gore suddenly appeared, attacking Donald Trump and mocking critics of his previous movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the deceitful documentary that spreads fear in classrooms today. Yes, teachers play it in class.

Now Gore claims “the most criticized” part of the film was his assertion that the 9/11 memorial site would flood. Then, during Hurricane Sandy, it did!

But Gore creatively misremembers his own movie. He had claimed the World Trade Center would flood because of a permanent 20-foot sea-level rise. Actual scientists called that nonsense. It would take hundreds of years for such a thing to possibly happen.

But since the area flooded, briefly, Gore spins that as confirmation of his exaggerations.

This preview was the first I learned that theaters will soon show a sequel to Gore’s film. Google tells us that “An Inconvenient Sequel” got a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Trendy Hollywood is so dumb.

At least critics who’ve watched it gave it poor reviews.

Let’s go back to points 1, 2 and 3:

1) Man’s greenhouse gases contribute to warming, but scientists don’t agree on how much. Of 117 climate models from the 1990s, 114 overpredicted warming.

2) Warming is harmful. Maybe.

But so far it’s been good: Over the last century, climates warmed, but climate-related deaths dropped. Since 1933, they fell by 98 percent. Life expectancy doubled.

Much of that is thanks to prosperity created by free markets. But some is due to warming. Cold kills more people than heat.

Carbon dioxide is also good for crop growth. Even The New York Times admits, “Plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years.”

But what if Al Gore is right? Maybe our greenhouse gases will eventually cause Greenland’s icecaps to melt and flood our cities. Shouldn’t government act now? No.

3) Nothing we do today will stop global warming. The Obama regulations that Trump recently repealed, horrifying the Earth Day crowd, had a goal that amounted to a mere one percent reduction in global CO2. And that was just the goal.

Of course, some think any cut is better than nothing. But cuts are costly. They kill jobs, opportunity. All to accomplish… nothing the earth will notice.

If warming does become a problem, we’re better off if our economy is very strong when the science tells us clearly that action will make a difference.

We should be especially wary of expensive government projects given how often alarmists were wrong in the past.

As Cato’s Pat Michaels says, “I’ve lived through eight environmental apocalypses … overpopulation … resource depletion … Silent Spring … global cooling … acid rain … the ozone hole … global warming … the next one is going to be ocean acidification.”

In the ‘70s, environmentalist Paul Ehrlich won fame with his book “The Population Bomb.” Ehrlich predicted: “I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”


Ehrlich now admits: “When you predict the future, you get things wrong.” But he says there’s a grain of truth in his prediction, because: “If you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems.”

Give me a break.

Saturday’s Earth Day nonsense will include a “March for Science.” The media will hype it, claiming Trump’s proposed budget will poison the earth.

It won’t.

The alarmists claim they’re marching for “science,” but they’re really marching for a left-wing religion.

Instead of celebrating Earth Day Saturday, I’ll celebrate Human Achievement Hour. The think tank behind it, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says Human Achievement Hour pays tribute to “our basic human right to use energy to improve everyone’s quality of life.”

Some ways to celebrate:

—Use your phone or computer

—Drive a car

—Take a hot shower

Good idea! Let’s celebrate progress instead of attacking it.


Federal Ethanol Policies Make Prairies Go to Seed

The prairies of the American Midwest are a vanishing “species” of ecological habitat. Although many blame its demise on the rise of industrial civilization, some of the worst culprits are products of the modern state: ethanol subsidies and mandates. As Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II explains in an op-ed for Investor’s Business Daily, the prairie has fallen victim to massive cultivation of corn for ethanol, fueled by federal policies such as the renewable fuel standard, “a congressional mandate requiring refiners to mix renewable fuel (mostly corn-based ethanol) with U.S. gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil products.”

The renewable fuel mandate—and the federal subsidy to corn farmers—arose from two concerns: fear of fossil fuels and fear of energy scarcity. The latter arose during the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74—long before the shale revolution that has unlocked vast reserves of shale oil and natural gas. The former is a by-product of environmentalism, most recently of climate alarmism. Ironically, it has also taken a toll on the environment, including its destruction of prairieland for the sake of corn ethanol.

“Currently, roughly half of the entire U.S. corn crop—which topped more than 15 billion bushels last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—winds up in biofuels,” Shughart writes. Partly as a result, the vanishing prairie now covers only about 5 percent of the land area it once inhabited. “The ethanol mandate has triggered an environmental disaster,” Shughart continues. “Kicking the ethanol habit should be as much of a no-brainer as buckling up before starting the car.”


Coal's Colossal Comeback
Buried in an otherwise-humdrum jobs report was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Department of Labor that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in October 2016, and following years of painful layoffs in the mining industry, the mining sector has added 35,000 jobs.

What a turnaround. Liberals have been saying that Donald Trump was lying to the American people when he said that he could bring coal jobs back. Well, so far, he has delivered on his promise.

There’s more good news for the coal industry. Earlier this month, Peabody Energy — America’s largest coal producer — moved out of bankruptcy, and its stock is actively trading again. Its market cap had sunk by almost 90 percent during Barack Obama’s years in office. Arch Coal is also out of bankruptcy.

It turns out that, after all, elections do have consequences. The Obama administration and its allies, such as the Sierra Club, tried to kill coal because of their obsession with global warming. Regime change in Washington has brought King Coal back to life.

Donald Trump pledged to coal miners in small towns across America that he would be a friend to American coal and fossil fuels. As promised, Trump has lifted the so-called Clean Power Plan regulations and several other EPA rules that were intentionally designed to shutter coal plants, which it accomplished with ruthless precision. Hillary Clinton had promised her green allies that she would finish off every last coal-mining job in America.

The coal miners weren’t too happy about this, and her arrogant disregard for a leading American industry that hires tens of thousands of union workers contributed to her losing almost all the coal states — many of which were once reliably Democratic.

America was built on cheap and abundant coal. Fossil fuels powered the U.S. into the industrial age and replaced windmills and wood burning, which were inefficient, as the primary sources of electricity. America currently has access to 500 years' worth of coal — far more than any other nation. Despite the last decade’s war on coal, the U.S. still derives about one-third of our power from coal, making it second only to natural gas.

Liberals have argued that coal could never make a comeback, because of cheap natural gas. Clearly, the shale gas revolution — with prices falling from $10 to $3 per million cubic feet — has hurt coal producers.

But economic necessity is the mother of invention, and coal companies, including Peabody, have figured out how to become far more efficient in production. What’s more, clean coal is here. Emissions of lead, sulfur, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants from coal plants have fallen by more than half, and in some cases 90 percent, in recent decades.

The climate-change industrial complex pontificates that the U.S. has to stop using coal to save the planet. But even if the U.S. cut our own coal production to zero, China and India are building hundreds of coal plants. By suspending American coal production we are merely transferring jobs out of the U.S.

Renewable energy is decades away from being a major energy source for the world. Until that happens, coal and natural gas will compete as low-priced, super-abundant, domestically produced energy sources for 21st-century America. Nuclear power will, I hope, continue to play an important role, too. Meanwhile, for all the talk of the growth in wind and solar industries, they still account for less than 10 percent of our energy. Almost 70 percent comes from natural gas and coal.

Coal isn’t dead in America. It is unleashed. As a Washington Times editorial put it very well recently, “The left gave up on the 100,000 coal workers in America more than a decade ago. Donald Trump has not.” Remember this the next time Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi lectures us about how much they care about the working class in America.


ALG Foundation releases ‘Shedding Light on Solar Electricity’

Americans for Limited Government Foundation released a report today entitled “Shedding Light on Solar Electricity.” The report covers a number of problems that the solar industry has been causing its customers. It also makes a number of recommendations to state legislators about how to protect consumers and improve transparency in the solar industry.

Americans for Limited Government Foundation Director of Research Richard McCarty, who authored the study, stated in the report’s conclusion: “Consumers have a right to know the facts before they decide to have solar panels installed on their homes. Too many times, unscrupulous solar industry employees have omitted these facts or, intentionally or unintentionally, misled potential customers. That is why state legislators should enact sensible laws that require solar companies to be open and transparent with their potential customers about the advantages and disadvantages of solar panels. Even after legislators address these problems, it will still be necessary for consumers to do their own research to ensure that solar panels are the right choice for them; but until consumer protection laws are strengthened, this research will be even more vital.”

The report covers some of the ways in which solar customers have been scammed as well as problems customers have experienced. For example, some solar customers have not received the government rebates they were due because they were stolen by their contractor. Others have paid deposits on solar panels that were never installed. Many customers have not seen the savings on their utility bills that they were promised. A number of customers who have signed solar leases have experienced problems with selling or refinancing their homes. Those leasing solar panels and trying to get a reverse mortgage have learned it is simply impossible. Of course, all too often, these customers were not told of these risks.

To reduce the number of these cases and improve consumer protection laws, the report includes a list of recommendations for state legislators to consider. This list includes requiring solar contractors to provide customers with a written contract; requiring contracts to include the amount of any monthly payments and what, if anything, could cause them to rise; requiring that any promised savings must be written into the contract; and requiring that contracts specify who is to receive any solar incentives.

It is hoped that this report will be of use to consumers considering having solar panels installed and to state legislators and regulators concerned with consumer protection.


Why This Scientist Won't Be Attending The 'Science March'

A much-discussed "Science March," which germinated on the social news site Reddit and then experienced a meteoric rise on all social media in the past two weeks, now has an official date: April 22nd. While a march to support science sounds like a good idea, given the agenda, this scientist will not be attending.

I wrote previously of my concern that the Science March would be hijacked by the kind of political partisanship it should instead be concerned about – and that has indeed come true. This fear was based on not-so-subtle hints provided by its Twitter feed, such as embracing "intersectionality" (a concept taught in classes on feminism) as a core principle. To its credit, the march's Twitter account has stopped dropping hints; now, it's openly stating what its agenda actually is:

If you're wondering what this has to do with science, you're certainly not alone. The answer, of course, is nothing. These issues are the primary concern of revisionist historians and social justice warriors, not empirically-minded scientists.

The group's updated website* sheds no new light on its cause. The front page is full of trite platitudes, such as: "We are scientists and science enthusiasts... Our diversity is our greatest strength." This screenshot is from the diversity page:

It's curious that a website that seeks to include everybody conspicuously left men, whites, and Christians off the diversity list. Similarly, the site's mission statement is odd:

The march supports publicly funded science. That's good, but what about privately funded science, where the majority of basic research and the overwhelming bulk of applied research, is done? Non-academic science makes up the vast majority of research in America. According to R&D Magazine, last year the U.S. spent $514 billion on research and development, 64% of which ($328 billion) came from industry. Why don't those scientists count? Despite an enigmatic commitment to "diversity," the march leaves out the majority of scientists. And the private sector is actually far more diverse in science than universities are.

Claiming to support evidence-based policies is nice, but it's ultimately hollow if it doesn't specify which policies. Surely, we could learn something about the real intention of the march if we knew who the organizers are. Alas, no transparency is to be found. For privacy reasons, the site won't tell us who they are:

In summary: The Science March has now selected a date. But we don't know what they're marching about, who the organizers are, or what scientific policies they support. The only consistent message of substance from the group so far is an insistence on diversity, albeit a version that doesn't include white men or scientists who don't get government funding.

Is it too soon to conclude that the organizers never really intended this march to be about science in the first place?



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