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Trust Us: We Mean Well



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On the homepage, Kevin Williamson discusses Dambisa Moyo’s book Dead Aid and the reaction to it from would-be international do-gooders — like the ONE Campaign, an organization founded by U2 lead singer (and Irish tax evader) Paul “Bono Vox” Hewson. Kevin writes:

Bono’s organization, defending government-to-government aid, argues that Moyo is taking a blinkered view, citing as evidence the fact that “between 2005 and 2007, in Rwanda and Ethiopia malaria cases and deaths were more than cut in half thanks to a dramatic increase in bed nets and access to anti-malaria medication.” It is a remarkable indictment of this celebrity-based movement that such a high-profile organization finds itself unable or unwilling to ask the logical, and necessary, follow-up questions: How does a nation become so poor and backward that it cannot provide something so simple as a mosquito net?

I have another question: Since eco-conscious white Westerners have prevented the ready availability of DDT throughout Africa — thus helping to promote the malaria pandemic that kills hundreds of thousands of children every year — why would anyone anywhere listen to them about what’s best for Africa?

Could Obama’s Economic Advisor Want American Car Companies to Fail?



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Fortune profiles Warren Buffett and his investment in Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD.

Last fall Berkshire Hathaway bought 10% of BYD for $230 million. The deal, which is awaiting final approval from the Chinese government, didn’t get much notice at the time. It was announced in late September, as the global financial markets teetered on the abyss. But Buffett and Munger and Sokol think it is a very big deal indeed. They think BYD has a shot at becoming the world’s largest automaker, primarily by selling electric cars, as well as a leader in the fast-growing solar power industry.

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Polar Bear Update



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The horror.  Global warming is now forcing polar bears to eat Easter bunnies. North Pole elves, no doubt, are next on the bears’ menu. . .

Global Warming Lawsuits



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The lastest and greatest from the Democrats:  Global warming lawsuits.

An under-the-radar provision in a House climate bill would give plaintiffs who claim to be victims of global warming a way to sue the federal government or businesses, according to a report Friday in The Washington Times. 

The Times reported that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts added it into a bill they authored.

The provision, which was just released, reportedly would set grounds for plaintiffs who has “suffered” or expect to suffer “harm” attributable at least in part to government inaction. The provision defines “harm” as “any effect of air pollution (including climate change),” according to the Times. Plaintiffs could seek up to $75,000 in damages a year from the government, with $1.5 million being the maximum total payout. 

Sherlock Holmes They Ain’t



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AP:

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington state environmental regulators say they’ve finally found the source of pollution that has been fouling a creek near Vancouver Lake: the agency’s own sewer pipes.

City workers have discovered that an office building’s sewer line was mistakenly connected to a storm drain, rather than the municipal sewer main.

The 1970s-vintage building houses Washington state Department of Ecology regional offices, as well as those of the Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Sewage from the building has been making its way into Burnt Bridge Creek and eventually into the lake. Jay Manning, the environmental agency’s director, says the discovery was “embarrassing and upsetting.”

The building owner is paying for repairs.

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Headline of the Day



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MSNBC’s article on the New York Auto Show:

The SUV is dead – long live the SUV

SUVs, crossovers dominate at 2009 New York auto show

Too Alarming Even for the Alarmists?



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There’s substantial pushback on a new study that says the Amazon is doomed. The “Dot Earth” blog at NYTimes.com reports:

The lure of the “front-page thought” – for both scientists and the press – was very much on display at the recent Copenhagen summit on climate change. Presentations and speeches were followed by a wave of coverage, primarily in Europe, focused on what many papers said was strong new evidence of pending climate calamity.

Some scientists who attended the meeting pushed back. Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia criticized efforts to cast the six-point manifesto released at the meeting’s end as the product of a broad consensus (simultaneously published on the Prometheus blog). Other scientists, who study facets of how global warming could affect things that matter – in particular the Amazon rain forest – criticized what they saw as overstatements coming out of the meeting and have now followed up afresh.

Yadvinder Malhi, a professor of ecosystem science at the University of Oxford, and Oliver Phillips, a professor of tropical ecology at the University of Leeds, have written a response to a story in the Guardian on a modeling study that projected that the Amazon forest was poised to die off. The scientists contend in a response published today in the paper that the single study, not yet peer reviewed, was laced with uncertainties downplayed both by the scientists describing it and the resulting news story.

What’s the Carbon Footprint of a Pizza?



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For President Obama, quite a lot higher than the average American. From Kathryn over on the Corner:

When you’re the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do – even if that means flying a chef  860 miles. 

Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.

He had apparently been handpicked after the President had tasted his pizzas on the campaign trail last autumn. 

’It’s surreal, it’s a huge honour,’ said Mr Sommers, who owns Pi restaurant in St Louis.

’It will be a casual lunch and hopefully we’ll have a chance to say hello to the president.’

Mr Somers was accompanied by this business parnter Ryan Mangilardo who will help prepare the dinner for 140 this evening.

It will feature his signature dishes – ten deep dish and ten thin crust creations.

He is also planning a pizza especially for the president – the Hyde Park topped with chicken and hot sauce. 

Exit question:  Who paid for the trip and how is this different than CEOs flying to D.C. on their private jets for hearings?

Fact Checking the LA Times on Global Warming Alarmism



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Attention Australian readers: what say you about this LA Times piece? The excerpt about the 4,000 flying foxes dropping dead on the same day strikes me as suspect. (A quick search of Google News turned up only this LA Times piece.) Also, any additional news items on the fires, which we’ve covered before, please send along.

Many here believe Australia already has a death toll directly connected to climate change: the 173 people who died in February during the nation’s worst-ever wildfires, and 200 more who died from heat the week before. A three-person royal commission has convened to decide, among other things, whether global warming contributed to massive bush fires that destroyed entire towns and killed a quarter of Victoria state’s koalas, kangaroos, birds and other wildlife.

The commission’s proceedings mark the first time anywhere that climate change could be put on trial. And it will take place in a nation that still gets 80% of its energy from burning coal, the globe’s largest single source of greenhouse gases.

The commission’s findings aren’t due until August, but veteran firefighters, scientists and residents believe the case has already been made. Even before the flames, 200 Melbourne residents died in a heat wave that buckled the steel skeleton on a newly constructed 400-foot Ferris wheel and warped train tracks like spaghetti. Cities experienced four days of temperatures at 110 degrees or higher with little humidity, and 100-mph winds. In areas where fires hit, temperatures reached 120.

On the hottest day, more than 4,000 gray-headed flying foxes dropped dead out of trees in one Melbourne park.

California Hypocrisy



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California supports environmental regulation, just not the kind that affect them personally. Like taking shorter showers or watering your lawn:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Despite dire warnings of water shortages due to prolonged drought, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday rejected a plan to ration water in the nation’s second-largest city for the first time in 18 years.

The unanimous 15-0 vote against the plan marked a surprise setback for Los Angeles water managers, who like their peers in cities throughout California were directed to cut water use 20 percent this year under a drought emergency proclaimed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But David Nahai, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the nation’s biggest municipal utility, insisted that the proposal was not dead.

“The city must cut back its water use. There are no two ways about that,” Nahai told Reuters after the vote.

But, honestly, if the Los Angeles City Council can’t even implement this water plan, is there really a chance that President Obama’s cap-and-trade program, with its attendant skyrocketing energy bills, will ever pass muster?

Marc Morano Profiled in the Times



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An excerpt from the Times doing its best to hype Marc’s new venture before it launches:

In his work with Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Morano, whose thick build fills out his suit like a bulldog in a restraining jacket, did not hesitate to go after journalists he saw as biased. He promoted any study or statement that could be construed as cutting against the prevailing view that heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide contribute to global warming. Peter Dykstra, a former executive producer for CNN’s science, environment and technology unit, recently called him the “drum major of the denial parade.”

Mr. Morano may be best known for compiling a report listing hundreds of scientists whose work he says undermines the consensus on global warming.

But environmental advocates and bloggers say that many of those listed as scientists have no scientific credentials and that their work persuaded no one not already ideologically committed.

Mr. Morano’s new Web site is being financed by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues.

Craig Rucker, a co-founder of the organization, said the committee got about a third of its money from other foundations. But Mr. Rucker would not identify them or say how much his foundation would pay Mr. Morano. (Mr. Morano says it will be more than the $134,000 he earned annually in the Senate.)

Public tax filings for 2003-7 – the last five years for which documents are available — show that the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the ExxonMobil Foundation and from foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime financer of conservative causes best known for its efforts to have President Bill Clinton impeached. Mr. Rucker said Exxon had not contributed anything last year.

PUMA Roadkill



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I Didn’t Think So



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The NRC didn’t take Bill Tucker’s double-dog dare from earlier this morning.

They renewed Oyster Creek’s license today.

The U.N.’s Global Green Raw Deal



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Day by day, our government is taking more and more control over once-private corporations, with plenty of green strings attached. GM will be required to produce more hybrid cars that people won’t buy. Employee compensation will be determined by federal fiat. “Everyone will be better off.”

Not surprisingly, the United Nations has just jumped on President Obama’s hybrid bandwagon, demanding yet another trillion dollars (coming mostly from you-know-who) to fund “A Global Green New Deal for Sustainable Development.” Translation: The U.S. will provide funds to poorer nations so that they, too, can tell their private companies what to make, whom to employ, and how much to pay them. The U.N. wants your money pronto, by the end of next year.

The U.N.’s “deal” really amounts to drastic interference in the development of other nations that are neither recipients of nor contributors to the cool Trillion. India’s Tata Motors has just unveiled a $2,000 mini-car, which could be a hit in a lot of poor countries. China’s Cherry is poised for a global pounce as soon as liquidity reappears. But the U.N. proposes to spend our money fighting “automobiles, which are environmentally harmful,” promoting instead a “shift to clean public transport” which they then call “clean fuel buses.”

Huh? So the UN is hoping to close developing markets in poor countries to developing producers in countries a tier or two up the economic ladder, and then substitute a nonexistent technology?

Our researchers are still busy at work trying to figure out what a “clean fuel bus” is. It can’t be one run on ethanol, because that takes more energy to produce than we currently get out of it. If it‘s run on electricity produced by solar panels, the physics become daunting. An array required to run just one bus for 100 miles per day would stretch over ten miles. And where would the energy come from at night?

Like Obama’s initiatives, the U.N.’s purpose is to provide “green jobs.” Nothing new here. Germany put in a similar program a few years ago, sending out an army of people otherwise employed or not employed to install solar panels. German taxpayers subsidized each of these 35,000 jobs at $170,000 apiece. Now the UN wants to do the same with your money — all over the world.

Worse still, the “Green New Deal” wants energy subsidies from you — called global “feed-in tariffs” — to boost inefficient energy sources. This reverse tariff would “overcome” the “difficulty” of noncompetitive energy, providing guaranteed purchase prices to producers in developing countries for a period of 20 years. The electricity would then be sold to final consumers at a lower price.

What’s the difference between a “feed-in” tariff and a real one? There isn’t one. It basically says that anyone who has cheaper electricity for sale across national borders need not apply. As is the case with Obama’s cap-and-trade energy taxes here in the States, the U.N. says their tax on us is “desirable on climate-related grounds.”

Nothing is new here. The U.N. is hoping for more green stimulus from an already overstimulating and intrusive president, and returning more of the same: higher taxes, and technologies that won’t work and that will cost a fortune.

– Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of the forthcoming Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.

Go Ahead, Close Oyster Creek



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Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big advocate of nuclear power. I just published a book called Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey and spend my time touring the country trying to convince people nuclear is the best thing that could happen for the environment, and debating those who want to see it banned from the planet.

But after listening to both sides of the argument, I’ve made another decision. I think the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should deny a license renewal to the 650-megawatt Oyster Creek Nuclear Reactor in southern New Jersey, the license for which is scheduled to expire today. And then let’s see what happens.

The NRC should also think careful before relicensing the 620-MW Vermont Yankee plant in southern Vermont — and Indian Point Units1 and 2, which provide 2,000 MW in Westchester Country, just north of New York City. Oyster Creek generates 12 percent of New Jersey’s electricity, the two Indian Point reactors provide 25 percent of New York and Westchester’s electricity and Vermont Yankee provides nearly all of Vermont’s electricity, making it the cleanest state in the country. (Coal-rich Wyoming emits more air pollution in a day than Vermont produces in a year.)

Closing all four reactors, of course, would devastate both the environment and the economy of the whole Northeast. But the point is this. All four of these are aging reactors whose growing vulnerability risks strangling the current nuclear revival in its cradle. There are now applications for 26 new reactors before the NRC, and the industry is straining to start new construction. Who wouldn’t be when existing reactors are making more than a million dollars a day? Nuclear electricity is nearly competitive with coal and natural gas and the economics can only get better if the Obama administration imposes a national carbon regime. Safety and operating procedures at nuclear reactors have improved so much since Three Mile Island that they now run nearly two years without shutting down.

Closing Oyster Creek, Vermont Yankee, and Indian Point, of course, would leave the entire Northeast importing electricity at exorbitant prices from who-knows-where along transmission lines that haven’t been built. Of the 5 million megawatt-hours of electricity generated last year in New Jersey, 3 million came from nuclear reactors — 675,000 of them from Oyster Creek. The state would have to fire up every aging coal boiler, or suffer summer brownouts.

New York City and Westchester would suffer a much worse fate without Indian Point, and Vermont would go from being the cleanest state to one of the dirtiest without Vermont Yankee. For years I’ve argued that the easiest way to absorb the loss of these reactors would be for everyone give up air conditioning, but that’s not likely to happen.

Anti-nuclear activists dream that nuclear and coal can be replaced by wind, solar, and other “renewable” things. That’s because nobody has seen what these plants would look like. A 45-story windmill produces 1 megawatt of electricity. Windmills must be spaced several hundred feet apart so they don’t interfere with each other. To replace Oyster Creek’s 650 megawatts, New Jersey would have to cover 300 square miles of land or ocean with 45-story windmills. Even then, they’d only work when the wind blows, which is about one-third of the time. To replace just one of Indian Point’s reactors, you’d have to cover every square inch of Westchester County or Long Island Sound. Windmills would work blanketing Vermont’s Green Mountains, but then the state could likely kiss its fall-foliage tourism goodbye.

Solar collectors face the same problem. In New York and New England, you could rely on them only for summertime peak loads, since there are too many cloudy days the rest of the year. California had big plans to build 500 MW of solar capacity in the Mojave Desert — until California Senator Diane Feinstein announced two weeks ago she would seek legislation banning solar collectors from the Mojave, with nature groups having suddenly realized what a 25- to 30-square-mile facility would do for the desert environment.

It’s the same everywhere. Environmentalists will support any form of energy generation as long as it’s over the horizon. Once it comes into view, however, they find it objectionable. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the most visible and vocal opponent of nuclear power in the New York metropolitan area, also opposes wind farms in Long Island Sound and off Cape Cod (where he summers). Breakthroughs in extracting natural gas from shale deposits have opened the possibility that the Northeast can once again become a producing area, but Kennedy’s group, Riverkeeper — the leading opponent of Indian Point — is already opposing that, as well.

Veterans of the nuclear industry say they are very concerned that relying on aging reactors like Vermont Yankee, Oyster Creek, and Indian Point is eventually going to lead to an accident, which will kill nuclear power in this country forever. What they want instead is new construction incorporating all the technological and safety improvements that have been made since we stopped building reactors in the 1980s. We should have built replacements for these reactors long ago.

So it’s time to call the opponents’ bluff. Let’s close Oyster Creek, Indian Point, and Vermont Yankee and see what life is really like without nuclear power.

– William Tucker is author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey.

I’ve Been Expecting This



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Vanity Fair drops its poor-selling Green Issue. Expect more of this. Even Time magazine will get it eventually.

Obama, Geoengineer



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The Associated Press reports:

The president’s new science adviser said Wednesday that global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air.

John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is being discussed. One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort.

“It’s got to be looked at,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.”

Holdren outlined several “tipping points” involving global warming that could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of “really intolerable consequences,” he said.

That Giant Sucking Sound



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Is the UN, seeing a Doppelganger in the White House, trying to vaccum out the remaining contents of your wallet by seizing the crisis — as unsavory people tend to do — as an excuse to impose their long-held agenda of taking from and bossing around others.

After my weekly hit on WIBC’s “Garrison” in a few minutes, I’m flying out for a debate at Colorado Christian University tonite, then two townhall meetings with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) tomorrow, followed by a dinner talk to a policy group in that same land-o-lakes, then up to Duluth for a CFACT event the next day. Other than that, not much on tap. Given that posting a detailed analysis isn’t in the cards while I’m off enhancing my carbon footprint, take a gander at this plan for the “Global New Deal” . . . oh, wait, gotta throw “green” in there . . . the “Global Green New Deal.”

It ain’t pretty.

The plan appeals to FDR’s efforts at electrification as an analogy for its agenda — which is disingenuous, because the point of the green agenda is rather the opposite. What the two agendas principally have in common — marked as they are with market intrusions and power-grabs — is economic downturn.

Can’t say you weren’t warned.

Iran’s Oil ‘Discovery’



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I’m really not sure if this is true (coming as it does from the mullah-stream media), but Iran has announced that it has found billions of barrels of new oil.

Iran is reporting huge new discoveries of oil that contain “billions” of barrels of reserves, state radio quoted the managing director of the country’s National Oil Co. as saying today. 

Seyfollah Jashnsaz said Iran has discovered seven new oil fields in unspecified locations around the country.

“Billions of barrels of oil will be added to the country’s existing oil reserves,” he said in comments broadcast on state radio.

Iran-oil According to Jashnsaz, just one of these oil fields has 9 billion barrels of oil.

“Even if we make calculations based on the minimum 12% recovery rate,” he said, “it means that 1 billion barrels of oil can be recovered from this field alone.”

Alaska Senator Begich on Energy Policy



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Here’s an excerpt from an address Senator Begich gave on Tuesday to the Alaska legislature. Note the section on how little those in D.C. know about oil and natural gas:

Certainly high on my list is Alaska’s oil and gas industry, which has taken its share of lumps recently with the fall in world oil prices.

That’s why I was troubled by proposals from the national administration to scale back incentives designed to increase domestic oil and gas production which make our nation more energy secure. I told President Obama exactly that in the Oval Office a couple of weeks ago and repeated it to his budget director last week.

I am working with senators from states like Louisiana, Nebraska, Montana and Texas to educate the administration and members of Congress on the need for a healthy American oil and gas industry.

Certainly renewable energy and conservation must be an essential part of a national energy policy. But we can’t make the transition overnight as national decision-makers finally come to grips with the consequences of climate change.

In just the few months I’ve been in Washington, I’ve discovered there’s little understanding of how oil and gas production works.

My colleagues are amazed when I explain how Alaska is on the cutting-edge of production technology, using techniques like directional drilling to reach oil miles away with minimal disruption to the environment.

The bill Senator Murkowski and I introduced calling for directional drilling to reach the oil beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may just change the conversation on that controversial issue.

If that happens, it will be Planet Gore readers who are the “amazed” ones.

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