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Billions for High Speed Trains



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Gird your wallets:

WASHINGTON–President Obama on Thursday–before leaving for Mexico–highlighted his plans for a massive investment to develop high speed rail networks in the U.S.– a potential very big deal for Chicago.

Under Obama’s “vision” for high speed rail, Chicago is in the running to be the center of a hub network linking Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.

“What we’re talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train, in the center of a city, no racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes,” Obama said.

(Yes, because Amtrak has never had a dealy or lost a piece of baggage?)

Obama discussed his high speed plans this morning with Vice President Biden and Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has also been involved in developing high speed rail policy.

Nothing happens without legwork. Chicago’s Environmental Law & Policy Center, founded by Howard Learner has been doing extensive work in pushing the nation forward on high speed rail in Congress and in the Obama administration.

And now the cost . . .

” To make this happen, we’ve already dedicated $8 billion of Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to this initiative, and I’ve requested another $5 billion over the next five years. The Department of Transportation expects to begin awarding funds to ready projects before the end of this summer, well ahead of schedule. And like all funding decisions under the Recovery Act, money will be distributed based on merit — not on politics, not as favors, not for any other consideration; purely on merit.”

The problem is nobody is talking about the total cost of the system. $13 billion gets the nation pregnant.  Raising this baby costs how much more?

Really Bad News For Africa



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A new study suggests that droughts in Africa, without any human causes, have been much worse than the present.  NY Times:

For at least 3,000 years, a regular drumbeat of potent droughts, far longer and more severe than any experienced recently, have seared a belt of sub-Saharan Africa that is now home to tens of millions of the world’s poorest people, climate researchers reported in a new study.

That sobering finding, published in the April 17th issue of Science, emerged from the first study of year-by-year climate conditions in the region over the millenniums, based on layered mud and dead trees in a crater lake in Ghana. Although the evidence was drawn from a single water body, Lake Bosumtwi, the researchers said there was evidence that the drought patterns etched in the lakebed extended across a broad swath of West Africa.

More such mega-droughts are inevitable, the research team that studied the patterns said, although there is no way to predict when the next may unfold.

The lead authors of the report, Timothy M. Shanahan of the University of Texas at Austin and Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, warned that global warming resulting from human-generated greenhouse gases was likely to exacerbate those droughts and that there was an urgent need to bolster the resilience of African countries in harm’s way.

The study said that some of the past major droughts appeared to be linked to a distinctive pattern of increases and reductions in surface temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation.

Typically over the last 3,000 years, a severe drought developed every 30 to 65 years, they researchers said. But several centuries-long droughts in the climate record, the most recent persisting from 1400 to around 1750, are harder to explain, they said.

While that extraordinary drought occurred during a cool spell in the Northern Hemisphere called the “little ice age,” other extreme droughts appear to have hit West Africa at points when the world was relatively warm over all.

The article goes on to say how important it is to lower greenhouse gas emissions to try to smooth out these changes, but the real story is that when the Earth decides to start changing its temperature, there will not be a thing humans can do about it.

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Broken record: More bad news for Suzlon



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I’ve posted (here and here) on the financial woes of India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd.  Well, add to them. The  Wall Street Journal reports:

The new concerns come as Suzlon is trying to raise funds, including through selling a stake to private-equity firms. The company may be at risk of breaking debt covenants and has to pay €205 million, or about $275 million, over the next six weeks to complete an acquisition.

The latest issues concern blades for a project in China’s Shandong province. Early last year, Suzlon won a contract with Germany’s REpower Systems AG to produce blades for 75 turbines for the China project and an option on 75 more. But REpower rejected Suzlon’s prototype for the initial blades for not meeting REpower’s quality standards and obtained them from other suppliers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The problems come at a difficult time for the Pune-based company. Suzlon already is spending $100 million to fix blade cracks on its turbines in the U.S., Europe and Brazil. Suzlon’s export-order backlog was down 38% at the end of last year from a year earlier.

New financing has been hard to come by, and as a result, Suzlon may be in danger of breaching its debt covenants, according to analysts and one of the people familiar with the matter.

Other recent efforts to raise capital haven’t borne fruit. Suzlon shelved a $360 million rights issue late last year because its stock price had fallen sharply. Its shares Wednesday were off 79% from a 52-week high reached last May, putting the company’s market value at $2.1 billion. Suzlon also has been attempting to sell a stake to private-equity firms.

An Interview with Secretary Chu



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The Washington Post interviews Secretary Chu.  Here’s an excerpt on what he thinks of Al Gore’s coal plan:

Romano: Al Gore has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign against coal, against coal manufacturing plants. In fact, he’s encouraged civil disobedience in protesting them. What do you think about this?

Chu: The issue here is that if you consider, for example, the countries that have coal, two-thirds of the known coal reserves lie primarily in the United States, China, India and Russia. The United States actually has the most known coal reserves in the world, and over 50 percent of our electricity is generated by coal. Even if the United States turns its back on coal, China and India will not, given the state of affairs. I would prefer to say let’s try to develop technologies that can get a large fraction of the carbon dioxide out of coal. Start with 70, 80 percent and build up to over 90 percent, but start now and try to get it out.

Romano: So is it a little unrealistic for Vice President Gore to think that he can end coal production by protesting these plants?

Chu: Well, Al Gore is a friend of mine, and let’s just say that — I’ll go back to my original statement that we really have to take the lead, the technological lead, and see if this can get done.

EU Sees Easy Mark in Obama



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Juxtapose these statements in different media reports today out of Europe about their aspirations for our adopting measures that would eliminate us once and for all as an economic competitor.

 

First, brought to our attention by OpenEurope, is:

Swedish MEP: “EU climate plan will only achieve one third of what the US will achieve”

At a conference in Brussels on climate change policy, Swedish MEP Anders Wijkman said that the EU climate package which was approved in December will only lead to 4 or 5 percent reductions in emissions, while the US will manage at the same time to achieve a reduction of 16 to 17 percent. Wijkman commented that “us criticising them is possibly not the right thing to do”. He said he was “not convinced” by the EU’s Emissions Trading System, but said that “a lot of revenue and prestige has gotten into the ETS system, so it is not realistic to have another system”.

Then, from ClimateWire (subscription required):

Hope lingers for more ambitious U.S. emission targets
“Finally, [European policymakers] hope that the U.S. Congress will adopt more ambitious mitigation targets than those presented by Obama, and that the bill introduced in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will not be distorted by amendments.”

Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reports that EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas expects the U.S. to open its wallet to help lead the fight against climate change, which will require some 175 billion euros annually until 2020.

As noted previously in another context — about a different bunch who see the U.S. as suckers, ready to fall for anything in our desperate, post-Bush search for the world’s approval on slaying the Loch Nes . . . er, stopping climate change!: “Yeah. If you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that would be greeeaat.”   

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Standing Athwart Waxman-Markey



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In today’s Wall Street Journal, Pete DuPont peels back the layers of the disaster-in-waiting that is the Waxman-Markey energy bill. His conclusion: massive government intrusion into our lives, unlikely new nuclear-energy projects, cap-and-trade permits that send trillions of dollars to the federal government to play with, and protectionist carbon tariffs. The main point: Waxman-Markey means higher energy and electricity prices. It means less energy, not more. 

If Americans don’t start paying attention to what Congress is up to, our nation’s energy policy may seriously change for the worse. A bill styled the American Clean Energy and Security Act, sponsored by Democrats Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, soon goes before the House. The enactment of laws to combat global warming is an established priority of the new administration and Congress, and their impact on the lives and opportunities of America’s people would be substantial and detrimental.

As Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute noted last month, “Waxman-Markey would put big government in charge of how much energy people can use. It would be the biggest government intervention in people’s lives since the second world war, which was the last time people had to have rationing coupons in order to buy a gallon of gas.”

The Waxman-Markey plan intends to give the federal government near-total control of America’s energy supplies and usage. Depending upon how the allowances are organized, it may also create the largest redistribution of money from American families to the federal government since the creation of the American income tax. To keep America prospering, our economy growing, and jobs expanding, we need not less energy, but more of it; not higher energy prices but lower ones; and more energy generation through nuclear power, clean coal and offshore oil and gas as well as possible new energy sources. Waxman-Markey will take us in one direction, but to keep America prospering we need to go in the opposite one.

Planet More



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Bruce from Down Under sends along yesterday’s Bjørn Lomborg item from the Australian.

According to conventional wisdom, we are voraciously using the world’s resources and living way beyond Earth’s means. This narrative of decline and pessimism underlies much of today’s environmental discourse and is often formulated in a simple fashion: by 2030, we will need two planets to sustain us, owing to higher living standards and population growth. If everyone managed to live at American living standards today, we would need almost five planets. But this received wisdom is fundamentally wrong.

Environmental campaigners use the so-called ecological footprint – how much area each one of us requires from the planet – to make their point. We obviously use crop land, grazing land, forests and fishing grounds to produce our food, fibre and timber, and we need space for our houses, roads and cities. Moreover, we require areas to absorb the waste emitted by our energy use. Translating all these demands into a common unit of physical area gives us an opportunity to compare it with Earth’s productive area, and thus to get a sense of how sustainable we are.

For more than a decade, the WWF and several other conservation organisations have performed complicated calculations to determine individual footprints on the planet. Their numbers show that each American uses 9.4ha of the globe, each European 4.7ha, and those in low-income countries just 1ha. Adding it all up, we collectively use 17.5 billion hectares.

Unfortunately, there are only 13.4billion hectares available. So the WWF points out that we are already living beyond Earth’s means, using about 30 per cent too much. And it will get worse. It tells us that the recent financial crisis “pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch”, which could presage “a large-scale ecosystem collapse”.

This message is being seared into the public consciousness. The British newspaper The Observer used the headline “Wanted: New Earth by 2050″; according to the BBC, Earth is “on course for eco-crunch”; and The Washington Post, horrified by the four extra planets needed, urges us to use more canvas shopping bags and energy-saving light bulbs.

The message has been received loud and clear. We are using up too much of the planet’s area.

But wait a minute. How can we do that? How can we actually use more area than there is on Earth?

Obviously, any measure that tries to aggregate many different aspects of human behaviour will have to simplify the inputs; the ecological footprint is no different. For example, when we talk about American lifestyles needing five planets, we assume that technology is frozen, whereas it is likely that worldwide land-use productivity will increase dramatically. Likewise, organic farming leaves a larger footprint than its conventional cousin.

Yet, despite such shortcomings, it is clear that areas we use for roads cannot be used for growing food and that areas we use to build our houses take away from forests. This part of the ecological footprint is a convenient measure of our literal footprint on Earth. Here, we live far inside the available area, using about 60per cent of the world’s available space, and this proportion is likely to drop, because the rate at which the world’s population is increasing is now slowing, while technological progress continues. So no ecological collapse here.

There is just one factor that keeps increasing: our carbon emissions. It is not at all obvious to anybody how to convert CO2 to area. The WWF and some researchers choose to get around this by defining the area of emissions as the area of forest needed to soak up the extra CO2. This now makes up more than 50 per cent of the ecological footprint and will grow to three quarters before mid-century.

In essence, we are being told that we ought to cut emissions to zero, and to plant trees to achieve that, meaning that we would have to plant forests today on 30 per cent more than all of the available land, and plant forests on almost two planets by 2030. This is unreasonable.

Read the rest here.

A New Way to Stop Global Warming



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If we could just get all those poor people from cooking their food, imagine the CO2 savings!

KOHLUA, INDIA — “It’s hard to believe that this is what’s melting the glaciers,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, as he weaved through a warren of mud brick huts, each containing a mud cookstove pouring soot into the atmosphere.

As women in ragged saris of a thousand hues bake bread and stew lentils in the early evening over fires fueled by twigs and dung, children cough from the dense smoke that fills their homes. Black grime coats the undersides of thatched roofs. At dawn, a brown cloud stretches over the landscape like a diaphanous dirty blanket.

In Kohlua, in central India, with no cars and little electricity, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, are near zero. But soot — also known as black carbon — from tens of thousands of villages like this one in developing countries, is emerging as a major and previously unappreciated source of global climate change.

While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide. Decreasing black carbon emissions would be a relatively cheap way to significantly rein in global warming — especially in the short term, climate experts say. Replacing primitive cooking stoves with modern versions that emit far less soot could provide a much-needed stop-gap, while nations struggle with the more difficult task of enacting programs and developing technologies to curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

From DDT to Dursban



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Detroit, Mich. – Greens can take a bow: Bedbugs are back with a vengeance.

Responding to the biggest bedbug outbreak since World War II, the Environmental Protection Agency hosted its first-ever “bedbug summit” Tuesday outside Washington to address a widening public outcry. Some of the most vulnerable communities are inner cities like Detroit, and the major culprit, as it turns out, was the summit host.

Nine years ago, the zealots at Bill Clinton’s EPA banned the pesticide chlorpyrifos (to widespread media and environmentalist hosannas), the most commonly available household product in the world to address bedbugs, cockroaches, and other nuisances. Better known by its trade name, Dursban, chlorpyrifos had been available for 30 years in some 800 products in 88 countries around the world.

But despite widespread protest in the scientific community, EPA Chief Carol Browner erased Dursban from the shelves. “EPA has gone to great lengths to present a highly conservative, worst case, hypothetical risk based in large part on dubious extrapolations . . . and exaggerated risk estimates,” said Michigan State University toxicologist J. I. Goodman in a typical response.

Even Dr. Alan Hoberman, the principal researcher whose data Browner cited, told the Detroit News he disputed the agency’s interpretation of his findings.

Such critics were also ignored by the press — as was evidence that the nation’s urban poor would be most vulnerable to a ban. Children insect-bite allergies and cockroach-induced allergens outnumber pesticide poisoning by 100:1. “Hardest hit will be lower-income families in cities like Detroit, who can ill afford a weekly house call from the Orkin man,” warned News writer Diane Katz, now with the Fraser Institute. “Yet that is precisely what the EPA is recommending as a substitute for a couple squirts from a can of bug spray.”

Nine years on, Greg Baumann — Senior Scientist at the National Test Management Association — confirms that the Dursban void has been largely unfilled, leaving millions to fight pests with less convenient preventative measures. Extermination, for example, costs between $400 and $900 — out of reach for low-income Detroit families.

And those accountable for this predictable disaster? The very media outlets who were cheerleading the EPA ban now feign ignorance. “Out of concern for the environment and the effects on public health, the EPA has banned many of the chemicals that were most effective in eradicating the bugs in the U.S.,” shrugs the AP in graph ten of its story.

And the EPA Administrator who approved the ban? Browner has been promoted to “climate czar” in the Obama administration.

On Spent Nuclear Fuel, What’s Plan B?



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The Heartland Institute’s latest Environment and Climate News has a pair of pieces on Yucca Mountain. And whether or not you think the storage facility there is now dead (Max Schulz certainly doesn’t think so), these items argue that it shouldn’t be.

Heartland’s Jay Lehr suggests that the Obama administration let the science — not Hollywood-driven fears of radiation exposure — drive our policy on nuclear-waste storage.

Meanwhile, our own Drew Thornley discusses spent-fuel reprocessing with fellow Planet Gore contributor Bill Tucker.

President Obama has a tough choice ahead of him. He can lift the ban on reprocessing — France seems to be managing its plutonium adequately enough; on the other hand, it would be a shocking development for Obama to govern in any way different from Jimmy Carter. Or he can disturb the anti-nuke portion of his base and open Yucca Mountain. (Or he can pull a Gitmo, and make a big show of closing Yucca and find another place to store spent fuel rods.)

But the fact remains: if nuclear-plant waste doesn’t start taking up less room — soon — it’s going to have to be stored somewhere.

Reached grillside at his home in Texas, Drew Thornley adds:

So, what’s it gonna be? How many years and how many billions will it take — and how much will our energy supply and economy be damaged as a result of the foot dragging — to come up with anything remotely as promising as Yucca? Simply saying Plan A isn’t good enough isn’t . . . well, good enough.Give us Plan B. President Obama has yet to do so.

Or is this even about Yucca? Is the real goal simply to put the brakes on a safe, clean power source that gives us roughly 20 percent of our electricity?

Socialism, Plain and Simple



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In the old Soviet Union, factories were measured not by the quality of what they produced, but by the quantity. With the state economy organized under Gosplan production targets, a successful factory was one that met its quota — not whether the product it produced was desired by consumers. Television assembly plants, for example, would rush out worthless televisions at the end of a production period lacking crucial parts just to meet quota.
 
Goodbye, Gosplan. Hello, Obamaplan.

With the recession and $2-a-gallon gas, hybrid car sales have tanked this year, with sales falling at a greater rate than gas-powered vehicles (-44 percent vs. -36 percent). Ford’s Escape and Mariner hybrid sales, for example, are down 33 percent compared to 12 percent for conventional model sales.

Consumers don’t want them, but Washington pols demand them. Regardless of market conditions, President Obama has determined hybrids are the car of the future. So on April 9, the Obama administration announced that it is buying 17,600 fuel efficient vehicles from Detroit’s Big Three by June 1, using $285 million from the $787 billion stimulus bill. April’s quota order is 2,500 hybrid sedans. Total 2008 hybrid sales for GM and Ford (Chrysler offers no hybrids) amounted to 34,000 units.

While $285 million is pocket change in this age of trillion-dollar deficits, it is worth noting that the bill should be a lot less — since hybrids typically cost $5,000 more per vehicle than the gas-powered cars, a premium that will not be made back from fuel savings. For example, a 30-mpg Chevy Malibu hybrid costs $4,000 more than the27.5 mpg gas-powered model, meaning it would take 20 years to make up the gas savings even at $4 a gallon.

“You know the truth,” the president fibbed. “It will . . . save the government significant money over time.”

Michigan lawmakers, however, were clear that the government buying program is all about producing products that guarantee jobs and meet government demands.

“The federal government’s purchase of thousands of hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles from the Big Three shows that our domestic auto industry will weather this current crisis and build the cars of the future,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.).

Your tax dollars at work. Happy April 15.

High Speed Trains to Nowhere



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Get your pencils ready, pork watchers. Team Obama is set to release tomorrow the details on how he’s going to waste our money on high-speed trains:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Obama administration is expected to unveil its plans on Thursday for accelerating development of high-speed rail, a concept that in the past has had mixed political support and little public funding.

“It will be broad and strategic,” Karen Rae, acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday about the initiative described by officials as President Barack Obama’s top transportation priority.

“It’s going to talk about how we begin to create this new vision for high-speed and intercity rail,” Rae said.

White House and transportation officials have spent the past several weeks weighing plans for developing at least six high-speed corridors.

High-speed rail initiatives are in various planning stages in California, Florida, Nevada, the Carolinas and the Northeast. States are already formulating how to use the large appropriation for high-speed rail projects in the economic stimulus act.

Better Late Than Never



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Here is that Fox News item Chris referenced earlier today, covering the study he highlighted on March 27:

For the last several months, President Obama has held up Spain, Germany and Japan as countries America needs to emulate in creating so-called green jobs — those involved in renewable energy production — to rev up the economy.

“Will America watch as the clean energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan or Germany?” he asked in January.

But a new report out of Spain says if that country is any indication, Americans shouldn’t be depending on green jobs to help the U.S. economy.

Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, a professor, has released a study with startling claims about what’s happened in Spain and what he predicts will play out in America.

Calzada says for every green job that’s created with government funding, 2.2 regular jobs are lost and that only one in 10 green jobs wind up being permanent.

With billions slated to go toward similar programs in the U.S. the study is sparking new concerns.

Pointed Criticism



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Speaking of silly EU “green” mania and its policies — and killing things — here are a couple of gems from today’s OpenEurope update:

“Binge flyers as bad as stabbing people”, says Green MEP Caroline Lucas
The Mail reports that Green MEP Caroline Lucas has caused outrage by comparing “binge flyers” who regularly use budget airlines to those “stabbing people in the street”. According to the paper, Lucas made the remarks during a live debate on British television about the proposed third runway at Heathrow airport. When asked if flying to Spain was as bad as stabbing someone in the street, Lucas is quoted as saying, “Yes — because they are dying from climate change.”
’Green’ taxes cost every adult £741 a year
A new report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance says that every adult in Britain is paying £741 in ‘green’ taxes, according to the Mail. The article reports that electricity and gas bills are typically £77 higher because of regulations like the Carbon Emission Reduction Target and the EU’s carbon Emissions Trading Scheme.

Spanish Fly-in-the-ointment



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Several outlets have now picked up on Spanish economic professor Dr. Gabriel Calzada’s study of the economic impact of Spain’s “green jobs” scheme, touted by President Obama as a model for the U.S. to follow.

Yesterday, Fox News Channel (America’s Newsroom, Special Report), Fox Business, and Michelle Malkin joined The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, various EU outlets, and Planet Gore in noting this analysis — which shows that Spain’s artificially created, propped up, and now bubble-bursting and job-hemorrhaging renewables industry killed more than twice as many jobs elsewhere in the economy (jobs that didn’t require full-time state support, by the way) than were created by all the “investment” in renewables.

So the White House was asked about it and, in response, spokesman Robert Gibbs provided more fodder to certain radio hosts who have found much joy in his insight:

Q: Back on the President’s speech today, a Spanish professor, Gabriel [Calzada] Álvarez, says after conducting a study, that in his country, creating green jobs has actually cost more jobs than it has led to: 2.2 jobs lost, he says, for every job created. And he has issued a report that specifically warns the President not to try and follow Spain’s example.

MR. GIBBS: It seems weird that we’re importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build — to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case.

Q Is that a suggestion that his study is simply flat wrong?

MR. GIBBS: I haven’t read the study, but I think, yes.

Q Well, then. (Laughter.)

That of course is equal parts non sequitur and nonsense, as the rather piquant response from the study’s authors demonstrates:

If in order to sell turbine parts to another country you have to create a bubble in a whole sector and apply massive subsidizes that amount to $771,000 per green job, you might wonder whether selling those turbine parts is a good idea at all, since those resources could have been used to create other more valuable goods that would better satisfy consumer wants as well as create twice as many jobs in the rest of the economy (in the sector from where those resources have been taken away).

The White House spokesman should read academic studies before ruling out their conclusions with no knowledge of them. This is especially true when his government is considering spending billions of taxpayer dollars on uncertain experiments supported by subsidies that in Spain — after more than 10 years following this path — have produced highly disappointing results, even from a gross job-creation perspective.

Or (Calzada accepts this translation): What “seems weird” is that the U.S. would need subsidies and mandates to artificially create demand for renewables if the study were “flat wrong.”

Given that knowledge tends to trump ignorance, I suggest that this one goes to the Europeans. The issue now is whether the White House can continue to profess a lack of curiosity about the costs that their utopianism will inflicts on our economy.

Weird Science



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Here we go again. You may have noticed recently the spasmodic shrieks of climate change “happening faster than predicted!” — despite the fact that the only thing happening faster than predicted has been CO2 emissions . . . not concentrations, not warming (since it’s cooling), none of the parade of horribles — all of which shows how, to the alarmists, CO2 emissions equate with catastrophic climate change, whatever is really going on in the climate notwithstanding. Science!

 

You may also have noticed how those shrieks are a tad inconsistent with the spate of papers claiming to explain away why the warming hasn’t come. Mmm. Ah. Yes. Well. Just need more grant money.

 

Next Sunday will be no different, when an embargo expires on a paper claiming to have found the latest, bestest reason to explain why the warming — that’s happening much faster than predicted! — hasn’t actually been happening.

 

These particular authors — I have to be careful with this embargo thing — found lead in one-third of ice-forming particles formed back in the day before lead was phased out of fuels; they believe that lead formed half of all such particles, suggesting to them that lead triggers ice formation under natural conditions.

 

It could indicate all of that. Or not. I remember lessons from this debate along the lines of correlation not equaling causation — we’d all like to avoid the embarrassing problem encountered by Al Gore and later Laurie David claiming that CO2 caused warming, something which the literature doesn’t support (as the U.K. High Court solemnly pronounced), and which the IPCC hasn’t quite been able to establish — no matter what Hollywood says. So it is also possible that, say, lead likes ice . . . or at least ends up there sometimes . . . or even that leaded gas leads to global cooling. It could suggest any number of things.

 

Anyway, just something to remember when you hear these claims that they’ve alternately explained why the warming hasn’t quite happened as predicted, while also continually hyperventilating that it’s happening faster than expected.

Snowing on Their Parade



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Detroit, Mich. — Mother Nature, it seems, retains her sense of humor.

Green activist and author Bill McKibben was in Detroit on April 9 to speak to upper-crust, guilt-racked Grosse Pointe residents about global warming. His visit came the same day a spring blizzard dumped six inches of snow on the region, the latest salvo in what has been decidedly un-warm winter.

Fearmongers like McKibben have long used anecdotal weather incidents — the hot summer of 1988, Hurricane Katrina — to peddle their radical agenda. But as this year’s inconvenient weather proves, that trick can backfire.

Green: Stupid EU Tricks



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Whether intentionally or not, in this interview Stefan Singer — director for global energy policy at the WWF — indicates just how stupid it would be for the U.S. to fall for the sucker deal that Europe is touting for Kyoto 2.0 — or for the typical eleventh-hour Russian gambits seeking rents in return for their critical support for any pact. Any analysis of his remarks also reminds one of just how bad Al Gore fell for these tricks in 1997.

It’s nice to have the greens publicly join the party, a rather lonely one for lo these past eight years of dogma-driven rhetoric and reportage pushing an anti-Bush (and therefore, anti-U.S.) Kyoto mythology — the pinnacle of which is the hilarious Euro-posturing about their “world leadership” on (cough [Lie] cough) “emission reductions.” As noted here before, I even caught them increasing their 1990 emissions several times — as late as 16 years after the fact — to reduce their actual Kyoto violation and therefore subsequent financial obligation (in the form of wealth transfers). European parliamentarian Roger Helmer even got the Commission to admit, in response to a “priority question” that sought an explanation on where and how they suddenly found these emissions the size of Ireland’s, that well, Kyoto says we can say whatever we want until it goes into effect.

Mmm. Yes. Now, enter no agreements with these people.

Notice also that Singer acknowledges how President Obama has stumbled into Europe’s trap in his rush to join the posturing — trying to buy Euro-love with economy-crippling promises that green pressure groups can charge into court and enforce in one place and one place only: here.

Ah, “change.”

Waxman and Markey’s War on Coal



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Here’s an idea: Punish our most abundant domestic energy source — which powers literally half of our lives and our economy — unless said power source employs a technology that at present is not commercially viable. Brilliant!

From Environmental NewsStand:

Inside EPA, April 13, 2009 — Performance standards for coal-fired power plants in draft climate change legislation offered by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) would impose a major barrier on the construction of new facilities without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, according to industry consultants and many environmentalists.

Some industry analysts are calling the proposal a “de facto ban” on new coal-fired facilities and predicting political battles over the provision will be hard fought.

The language, however, is causing concern among some environmentalists in part because no immediate carbon performance standards would be imposed on individual facilities given a final permit within the next six years, unless EPA determines that CCS technology is commercially available.

The performance standards for new facilities are just one part of the draft Waxman-Markey legislation that would establish a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. The draft includes a variety of concessions to industry, including language that would bar application of a range of Clean Air Act regulatory authorities concerning greenhouse gases. In addition, the draft includes incentives for industry to go beyond the minimum performance standards in the legislation — provisions that proponents say will help jump-start CCS commercialization.

The performance standards set forth timetables for imposing minimum emissions standards on coal-fired power plants permitted after Jan. 1, 2009, and would effectively require use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology at such plants once the limits are triggered.

Arrested Development



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Here are a couple of stories reminding us of the folly of government — made more idiotic with the contradictions inherent in the green axe-grinding now, er, driving its decision-making.

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