Arnold Schwarzenegger, Auto Engineer


Detroit, Mich. – The Society of Automotive Engineers is in town for their annual convention and this year’s schedule kicked off Monday morning with Green governors Jennifer Granholm and Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about the future of the auto industry. Welcoming two witch doctors to address an AMA convention would be no less absurd, but in an age when the Green Church dictates engineering goals, I suppose the conference organizers thought it relevant to invite two of its more prominent preachers.

Schwarzenegger tried to soften the crowd with his usual collection of movie-inspired one-liners“The car industry is saying, ‘I’ll be back.’ ”) but there was no disguising his heavy government hand. Detroit automakers, he said, should continue to get federal dollars “if you do it the right way.”

The “right way,” of course, is to make the cars he wants.

He endorsed a federal “cash for clunkers” program to get gas-guzzlers off the road and spur new auto sales, but — realizing that his name is synonymous with GM’s Hummer — was quick to add that the problem is not big vehicles, but what technology powers them.

“There is nothing wrong with the Hummer. The Hummer is a great vehicle. We should change the technology within those vehicles,” said Schwarzenegger who famously has had one of his Hummers converted to hydrogen.

The cost of that conversion? $100,000. The California company that performed the work estimates that, with volume, the cost could be brought down to $20,000 per vehicle. Sound expensive? Just put it on the government credit card.

Garbage In, Gospel Out


An editorial from the Las Vegas Journal-Review, entitled “Garbage In, Garbage Out“:

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to propose regulating greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that these “pollutants” pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have warned that if the federal government regulates carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act it will end up imposing an enormous regulatory burden.

“The proposal, once finalized, will give EPA far more responsibility than addressing climate change,” warns Roger Martella, who served as EPA’s general counsel under President George W. Bush and is now a partner at the firm Sidley Austin in Washington. “It effectively will assign EPA broad authority over the use and control of energy, in turn authorizing it to regulate virtually every sector of the economy.”

This would all be quite silly if it weren’t going to be so expensive — a vast and totally unnecessary tax load piled onto an already suffering and fragile economy.

The greenhouse effect is, in fact, beneficial to all life on Earth. Without it, the planet would freeze at night. We should be wary of tampering with it, even if we could, which (fortunately) we can’t.

If there is currently some modest global warming going on (there’s considerable evidence the recent minor warming phase has slowed), it’s beneficial in that it allows mankind of grow more food. It’s certainly of less concern than global cooling, which will eventually lead to another Ice Age.

The main greenhouse gas is water vapor, which comes mainly from natural sources. Carbon dioxide has only one quarter the thermal absorption of water vapor; there’s only about 3 percent as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as there is water vapor; and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also overwhelmingly from natural sources.

In short, eliminating man-made carbon dioxide entirely — which can’t be done, in part because the EPA has no authority over fast-industrializing India and China — would impact any ongoing “climate change” by less than 1 percent.

So where’s the “compelling and overwhelming” evidence that carbon dioxide emissions from American cars and power plants “pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare”? Who has died as a result of “global warming”?

It’s all derived from science-fiction computer models — designed by the people who quite presciently gave us the term “garbage in, garbage out.”


Solar Energy From Space


A few Planet Gore readers have sent along this story — which I’m sure I have seen in a James Bond movie:

A leading American power company is hoping to turn science fiction into reality by supporting a project to set up solar panels in outer space and beam the electricity generated back to Earth.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which serves San Francisco and northern California, has agreed to buy electricity from a startup company claiming to have found a way to unlock the potential power supply in space.

The firm, Solaren Corp, says it will launch solar panels into orbit and then convert the power generated into radio-frequency transmissions, which will be beamed back down into a depot in Fresno, California. The energy would then be converted into electricity and fed into the regular power grid, PG&E said.

Although spacecraft and satellites routinely use solar panels, the project marks the first serious attempt to take advantage of the powerful and near-constant supply of sunshine in space.

Nasa and the Pentagon have been studying the idea of orbiting solar farms since the 1960s, and a number of private researchers have been looking at ways to tap into space-based solar energy.

But Solaren Corp, founded by a former spacecraft engineer, says it has developed a technology that would make it commercially viable within the next seven years to transmit electricity generated in space to a terrestrial power grid.

And now the cost . . .

Spirnak will face a difficult task raising funds for his project though, especially in this time of global economic recession. He said he was seeking in the low billions of dollars in investment – much higher than the usual $100m (£67m) to $200m costs for projects in renewable energy.


Off Track


Over on the homepage, David Freddoso on Obama’s high-speed-rail plan

Hurricane Forecasting 2009


A downgrade:

MIAMI, April 20 (Reuters) — The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season will produce 11 tropical storms, of which six will become hurricanes, WSI Corp predicted Monday.

The Andover, Massachusetts, private forecaster reduced its forecast from the one it issued in December, when it said the six-month season starting on June 1 would see 13 tropical storms, including seven hurricanes.

The lower forecast was due to cooler water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and a fading La Nina cool-water event in the eastern Pacific, the forecaster said.

WSI predicted that two of the six hurricanes would be “major” storms of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Such storms are the most destructive type, with sustained winds winds of greater than 110 miles per hour (177 km per hour).

Another prominent storm forecaster, Colorado State University, also reduced its forecast recently.




You can find the second edition of Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts here.

More Cooking


Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has followed up on this article (about how poor people are killing the planet by cooking their food using wood) with a blog post on alternative, Earth friendly cooking methods. Check out the YouTube video on the solar-powered stove — called, predictably, the Kyoto Box — that will supposedly save the planet: 

What a joke. In the first 30 seconds of the video, the announcer talks about how 1.6 million women and children die each year from smoke related cooking injuries, but then the announcer goes on to say that 10 million children die each year of polluted water. Somehow this magic tin-foil covered box will end this?

What these people need is electricity that that can operate things like ovens and refrigerators and sewage treatment plants, not this nonsense that takes ten hours to boil water.

More Antarctic Ice


The Australian has a good follow-up today on the Antarctic ice cap, but this section gave me a slight chuckle:

The Antarctic also has an ozone hole above it, which could be acting as a pressure valve, allowing heat to escape the icecap. “It could be that when the ozone hole is fixed, there will be more warming,” Allison says.

Does this mean we can use chlorofluorocarbons again? Create ozone holes to save the planet!

We’re Saved!


Tom Nelson and the art of juxtaposition.

Heroic Energy Department hopes to replace one in every 8,000 school buses with a plug-in hybrid

Creating a Plug-In Hybrid School Bus –
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu (an honoree for a 2009 Heart of Green Award from The Daily Green) focused on how this initiative will reduce global warming pollution by slashing the amount of oil needed to ferry children to and from school. (“By investing in the vehicles of the future,” he said, “we will create new jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment.”) But deploying these buses will also clean the air breathed by millions of school children every day.

There will only be 60 buses manufactured under the plan envisioned by the Department of Energy — but over time, this technology should show the way forward, so that old polluting diesel buses become a thing of the past.

National School Bus Fuel Data
ASBC estimates the number of school buses in the U.S. to be 480,000

‘I’m with the Band’


Drew Thornley is in D.C. today for the release of the second edition of Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts, a publication he authored for the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. (And yes, the Americans polled still think we get most of our oil from Saudi Arabia; in fact, Canada and Mexico top the list.) We’ll have more on the Energy Myths report later, after its embargo is lifted.

If you’re in the capital and want to drop by for the proceedings, the event begins at noon in room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I’m sure Drew and MI would love to have you. Needless to say (with Drew involved), they are serving BBQ.

Earth Day Blues


Everywhere there are signs of green fatigue. The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert, usually a first-rank alarmist, notes with understatement that “Earth Day has lost its edge and, with that, the sense that a different world is possible”:

Still, there are plenty of reasons to wonder whether serious steps to reduce carbon emissions will be taken this year or, indeed, ever. Regulating CO2 using existing laws will be a laborious, and potentially litigious, exercise. Meanwhile, the Administration has been strangely passive about trying to shape climate legislation — one reason that the Waxman bill is likely to be further watered down. Then, there’s the question of whether even an inadequate bill has the votes to pass.

If someone named Bush were still in the White House, the “strange passivity” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be cause for 100 decibel condemnation. Maybe they don’t want to ponder that perhaps The One isn’t into the issue.

Getting Over Carbon?


The indispensable Peter Huber, in City Journal’s new Spring issue.

Like medieval priests, today’s carbon brokers will sell you an indulgence that forgives your carbon sins. It will run you about $500 for 5 tons of forgiveness — about how much the typical American needs every year. Or about $2,000 a year for a typical four-person household. Your broker will spend the money on such things as reducing methane emissions from hog farms in Brazil.

But if you really want to make a difference, you must send a check large enough to forgive the carbon emitted by four poor Brazilian households, too — because they’re not going to do it themselves. To cover all five households, then, send $4,000. And you probably forgot to send in a check last year, and you might forget again in the future, so you’d best make it an even $40,000, to take care of a decade right now. If you decline to write your own check while insisting that to save the world we must ditch the carbon, you are just burdening your already sooty soul with another ton of self-righteous hypocrisy. And you can’t possibly afford what it will cost to forgive that.

If making carbon this personal seems rude, then think globally instead. During the presidential race, Barack Obama was heard to remark that he would bankrupt the coal industry. No one can doubt Washington’s power to bankrupt almost anything — in the United States. But China is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. That’s another whole United States’ worth of coal consumption added every three years, with no stopping point in sight. Much of the rest of the developing world is on a similar path.

Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions — because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

Not the Nobel for Literature


Here’s Nobel laureate Steven Chu on the dangers of global warming (emphasis mine):

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — Caribbean nations face “very, very scary” rises in sea level and intensifying hurricanes, and Florida, Louisiana and even northern California could be overrun with rising water levels due to global warming triggered by carbon-based greenhouse gases, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Saturday.

Whenever I string together a bunch of verys, they get edited out. I hope NRO changes its style manual accordingly now that it seems very, very acceptable to use the multiple-very construction.

Bad News for the Goracle


In taking note of the surging anthropogenic-climate-change skepticism that Rasmussen reports, Lawrence Solomon (delightfully) lays the blame at Obama’s feet.

Climate change skepticism has soared under Obama’s presidency, with only one third of American likely voters now blaming humans for climate change, according to a Rasmussen poll released today. In contrast, 48% believe that long term planetary trends are responsible, 7% blame other non-man-made factors, and 11% aren’t sure.

The plummeting support for Al Gore’s thesis — the lowest ever — is a complete reversal from one year ago, when 47% blamed humans and only 34% saw long-term planetary trends as the culprits.

The rise in climate change scepticism, and decline in pinning the blame on humans, tracks Obama’s assumption of power. In December, one month after his defeat of John McCain in the presidential race, the number of Americans who blamed people dropped to 43%. By February, the figure had dropped to 38% and it now rests at 34%

Why has Al Gore’s position lost so much credibility with the American public? While the Rasmussen poll does not explore this question, two Obama factors could be at play.

First, public hostility toward George Bush and the Republicans likely expressed itself in part as hostility toward global warming scepticism, with which Bush and the Republicans were identified. As soon as the Republicans lost power, many in the public lost their fervour in opposing climate change scepticism.

Second, the recession, combined with proposals from the new Obama administration to start taxing carbon in one form or another, gave the public new reason to question whether carbon dioxide really is the demon that climate change doomsayers claim. Upon investigation, the public would have found little to support the doomsayer case.

About that Shrinking Southern Ice Cap


Antarctic ice is expanding. The Australian:

Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. “The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west,” he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.

“Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off – I’m talking 100km or 200km long – every 10 or 20 or 50 years.”

Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia’s Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

The Al Gore Effect, Vegas Style


Al Gore was in Vegas in early April talking at the wireless show:

Speaking at the International CTIA Wireless 09 in Las Vegas Friday morning, former U.S. vice president Al Gore called for the wireless industry to take the lead in building a “green” infrastructure across several vertical industries including utilities.

And I saw this story up on Drudge today:

A chill moved across Las Vegas late Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing lower temperatures and strong winds to the valley.

Five inches of snow fell Tuesday night on Mount Charleston, and trace amounts of rain were recorded at McCarran International Airport.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday’s high was 59 degrees, which fell short of the record low high of 56 degrees set in 1998.

“This is definitely not your typical April day,” said Barry Pierce, weather service meteorologist.

Flurries were spotted in parts of Summerlin and Henderson, while in other parts of Las Vegas, high winds took shingles off homes.

We’ll have to defer to the judges on this one, but I think a snow storm roughly two weeks after the Goracle’s talk still counts as a Gore-Effect event.

Doing My Part


A reader e-mailed to remind me of my contribution to the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to provide (undoubtedly, a fair and balanced) assessment of groups whose wingnut agenda and anger are driving them to violence.

The reader suggested that I call DHS’s attention to the book I recently published addressing a political movement that engages in precisely this sort of alarming behavior: death threats, physical attack, and other intimidation tactics aimed at silencing those who stand in their way.

I look forward to having Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed sent to local sheriffs and police departments across the country.

You’re welcome, Madame Secretary.

Just What America Needs . . .


. . . more ethanol in our cars. WSJ:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opened the door to allowing higher mixes of ethanol in gasoline, a potential boon to farmers and the struggling ethanol industry, but opposed by auto makers whose consumer warranties typically are tied to the current EPA standard.

Warranties are no longer a problem, however, now that President Obama is guaranteeing them.

Another Vetting Issue for Team Obama


Steve Rattner, head of the auto task force, is in the news. And not in a good way (from over in the Web Briefing):

Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state’s pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a “senior executive” of Mr. Rattner’s investment firm met in 2004 with a politically connected consultant about a finder’s fee. Later, the complaint says, the firm received an investment from the state pension fund and paid $1.1 million in fees.

The “senior executive,” not named in the complaint, is Mr. Rattner, according to the person familiar with the matter. He is co-founder of the investment firm, Quadrangle Group, which he left to join the Treasury Department to oversee the auto task force earlier this year. Neither Mr. Rattner nor Quadrangle has been accused of any wrongdoing. Mr. Rattner did not return calls for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury, which is in charge of the auto task force, said that “during the transition, Mr. Rattner made us aware of the pending investigation.”

In the long-running pay-to-play case, authorities allege that about 20 investment firms made payments in exchange for investments from the $122 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. The case, being investigated by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the SEC, has led to three criminal indictments and a guilty plea. The attorney general’s office and the SEC declined to comment.

Update on the Disneyland to Vegas Maglev Train


Las Vegas Sun:

New life for high-speed train from California

WASHINGTON – Start talking about magnetic levitation trains and people quickly fall into two categories: dreamy-eyed futurists whose eyes widen with the promise of 300 mph travel or dismissive cynics who see the next boondoggle heading down the track.

When it comes to building a maglev train between Las Vegas and Southern California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has remained a believer. This week, he is risking the wrath of the Senate anti-pork czars to secure $45 million to push the train project along.

The money was approved as part of a massive transportation bill in 2005, but no money was authorized. The House strengthened the bill last year to allocate funds, which would go toward completing an environmental review now underway.


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