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More on Sheryl Crow’s Toilet Paper



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R.J. Smith, the doyen of free market environmentalists, emails:

US was/could be supplying world with inexpensive fast-growing pine trees, easily chipped and pulped for paper products. Greens shut down those forests with ESA and world chops down tropical hardwood forests for paper products and even chopsticks. All to save one woodpecker. While each acre of tropical forests has thousands of rare species. Go figure.

Carson-Gore



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On Friday, Katherine Mangu-Ward had a terrific piece on Rachel Carson, of DDT-is-Evil fame, in the Wall Street Journal (now posted at Reason ). It’s a depressing reminder of what can happen when a bad environmental idea becomes fashionable. It starts with a “d” and ends in “th.”

Mangu-Ward passes on an interesting tid-bit: the Christian Science Monitor recently dubbed Al Gore the “Rachel Carson of global warming.” Since I’ve followed the shameful de facto banning of DDT for years, I figured Gore wouldn’t care for the association. But apparently he embraces it wholeheartedly, and even claims to have a Carson portrait hanging in his office. Just in case you still needed evidence that the global warming hysteria has exited the byways of rational discourse, here it is.

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Re: Sheryl Crow



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When I read her suggestions for toilet paper conservation and her self-designed “dining sleeve” invention I cannot help but hear them in the voice of Mr E.L.Wisty.

Roll On, Mamma



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Eat the Rich?



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I haven’t read anything more likely to make me start singing, “Praise Marx and pass the ammunition,” than this all year:

Trend-sensitives as finely attuned to a cause as they are to the charms of Hermès paddock boots, Ms. Barnett’s guests seemed to share her conviction that in this day of fervent eco-consciousness, one can never be too green.

“We all want to make our homes the safest place in the world for our families,” she said to a roomful of women with cascading hair and bouclé jackets. “We get global warming, but we don’t think about what we are exposing ourselves to in our homes. We can all watch ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ But what can we actually do to make a difference on Earth Day besides buying a Prius?”…

Still, she has no plans to reduce the family’s significant carbon footprint by, say, selling the Manhattan second home. “I’m not a perfect person,” she said. “I’m not the greenest woman in America.” And there was scant indication that other guests, most of whom, presumably, knew their way up the steps of a private jet, were contemplating major lifestyle cutbacks. Glancing about the room, Ms. Barnett said, “We aren’t all going to move to one-bedroom apartments.”

She would do what she could, she said, pointing to the correlation between commercial cleaners and the toxic residue that sometimes lurks in the tub, forming that grimy bathtub ring. “Basically your kids are bathing in the Love Canal,” she warned, her comments drawing a shudder…

Ms. Seinfeld, who is married to the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, was prepared to clamber on board. “I’m a child of two parents who grew up in the ’60s,” she said. “I’ve been recycling since I was born.” Did she plan to reduce her own carbon footprint by selling off a few of her possessions? “What I have and what I don’t have is not something I talk about,” she said.

In total, Ms. Barnett’s informal consciousness-raising resulted in 65 orders for Shaklee’s $140 Get Clean kits, a showing that might make any one of the company’s 750,000 distributors proud.

Ms. Rockefeller wanted four kits, one as a gift to her housekeeper. “I want to spread the word,” she said.

She plans to practice conservation, to a point. Energy-saving light bulbs are fine — for the utility closet, perhaps. In other rooms, “they don’t give a very pretty light,” she said.

Taking in such reservations, Ms. Barnett remained sanguine. “This is the grass-roots way to help save the world,” she said.

Ecclesiaticus 18:25 refers.


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What did you do on Earth Day?



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I spent the day using energy to power-wash away the green mold that has been decaying my deck’s structure and strength. Next week I shall use chemicals to varnish the deck and restore some strength to it.

I can’t help but feel this is a metaphor for something.

“I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.”



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Speaking of Sheryl Crow, maybe this restroom mandate can be the first act of the Gore administration, where she could be EPA commissioner?

If I Were a Global-Warming Sista



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I wouldn’t harass Karl Rove like Laurie David and Sheryl Crow did for a cheap blog post . I’d host the hottest White House Correspondents Dinner after party but make people watch parts of an Inconvenient Truth to get in. Based on the lines people waited on to get inside the Bloomberg after party and the yearning some had to get into the Vanity Fair one, if you told them it was the hottest, they would have been hot for whatever you had to give them, just as long as they eventually got in and got their goody bag.

Some Pigs Are More Equal Than Others



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I see that Google has one of their cutesy logos up for Earth Day that I assume is meant to represent glaciers melting from global warming.


Google’s trendy political correctness is an irritating, but not surprising, result of incredible growth in profits and value. The founders of Google, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, famously drive hybrid cars. In the air they apparently prefer something roomier.


I’ve got an interesting experiment for you: go to Google and enter “Larry Page” 767.

China, UNSC and Global Warming



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The Chinese media are a a fairly reliable indicator of that government’s thinking. Yesterday they spoke on the issue of Europe’s effort to have the matter of global warming debated in — and presumably acted upon by — the United Nations Security Council. UNSC’s competence is over the issues of international security; further, this implicitly acknowledges the failure of the Kyoto regime under which so much of the UN’s membership are reaping massive rents. A majority of that membership also believes that this is a matter of economic and social development better left to the General Assembly, if the stance taken by the 130-nation Group of 77.

What catches one’s eye when reading coverage of the week’s activities by The People’s Daily — no, not The New York Times — isn’t just the rakish use and sneer-quoting of the phrase “environment card” tossed back at Europe in response to Eurocrats singling out to the media China’s opposition to this particular stunt. Most entertaining is the penultimate paragraph:

“Behind the contention are EU efforts to gain domestic support and boost its international image by suggesting the environmental threat is a security issue. Apparently, some western countries hope to break the ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ principle laid down in the [UN Framework] Convention and other institutions to shift more obligations to large developing countries, including China.”

In sum, preen and pose all you want to score points among your masses and international elites, but we aren’t about to help end the free-ride and gravy train that are Kyoto, under which most of the world remain party-to yet exempt from Kyoto and therefore subjected only to massive wealth transfers.

Cap-and-Trade Wirtschaftswunder, Cont.



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On Monday, regional Spanish media in Galicia reported yet another story revealing the wonders of carbon cap-and-trade, such that Spain is rapidly pulling ahead as the ideal case study for what awaits us for our moral leaders bent on applying the ETS or its ilk to the US economy. This latest comes on top of a) plants being closed in Valencia and Zaragoza for lack of a Kyoto permit and b) Acerinox’s CEO announcing his (steel manufacutring) investment would all go outside Europe now (the US — so far, 175 jobs in Carroll County, KY — and South Africa)..

Ceramics are an industry that Spain seeks to protect from Brussels like Germany (ideally) would its chemicals — they tried, e.g., in the REACh debate — and they require a bit of energy to make their products. Now, in Galicia, a manufacturer announced that last year it earned more from selling credits than ceramics (reminding me of an email I once got in which a French pharma company announced that selling credits was where its future lies, not pharmaceuticals).

Their statement was couched in terms of thanking the government for generously (that is, “over-”) allocating ETS credits to them (for free, as industry lobbyists already demand of Congress), and noted that with the credit price having skyrocketed (before collapsing) they were able to reap a windfall by selling what the government had given them. They lamented that the price collapse, however, indicated this wasn’t, er, sustainable.

Buried in this however was the phrase that, taking that price spike into account, they had decided to “equalibriate” their operations so as to maximize profits with an ideal mix of selling allocations and using them by, well, using electricity to make stuff…which is to say they also went into the business of making nothing, dedicating more of their operations to the task, which is far less labor intensive. That is, they found it more profitable to partially shut down, to idle workers.

In the name of the environment, mind you.

Fun with Emissions Calculators



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Inspired by John Whitehead, I decided to use the EPA emissions calculator to find out how much CO2 my household emits.

Total emissions for my family of two adults and two children came out at 30,502 lbs of CO2. I used actual kwh and so on rather than price to base the calculations on, so that is a pretty accurate figure. It’s actually probably too high as it includes a figure for unrecycled newspapers, and we don’t get any.

Average for a family of 2 is 41,500 lbs.

Given that I am contributing 4.5 metric tonnes less social damage to the environment than the average family of 2, never mind 4, using Sir Nicholas Stern’s figure of $85 per ton, I reckon I should be getting a check for $385 from a carbon offset company any day now to reflect my virtue.

If Al Gore would like to engage in a Coasean bargain with me, I’m open to the offer.

Ontario bans the bulb



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Once again illustrating the global warming crowd’s statist intentions, Ontario, Canada has joined Australia in the incandescent bulb ban fad. Ontario’s ban will take effect in 2012. Never mind the move’s empty moral symbolism. Replacement fluorescents haven’t exactly been getting rave reviews as their wider use has exposed inherent limitations. And there are other reasons why the ban’s target date is likely to fail. Here are two.

Kim Freeman, a spokeswoman for GE Consumer & Industrial, tells Hearst newspapers “there’s no need to ban a particular technology. We know we can use innovation to get energy-efficient incandescent lighting.” Hearst reports “GE expects by 2010 to roll out an incandescent light bulb that is twice as efficient as current incandescent bulbs, and by 2012 a bulb that is four times as efficient and comparable in use to CFL bulbs.”

Then there will be competing liberal agendas.

Problem: CFLs contain mercury. Freeman warns a national policy for disposing safely of these new-age bulbs is needed.

Problem #2: The poor. According to an excellent piece in American Thinker, CFLs are “five times more expensive than regular incandescents, which if replaced in their entirety would cost consumers an extra $4 to 5 billion at the cash register. This ban will be a tax on poor people and the silent majority-retirees on fixed incomes, single working parents, low wage earners working double shifts or two jobs along with the average Joes and Marys who live each week paycheck-to-paycheck.”

One can already see pitchforks at the green door.

Deep Thoughts (a la Jack Handley)



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Iain below links to a very interesting post on the resistance on so much of the serious non-specialist scientific press (e.g., New Scientist, Scientific American, etc.) to attempts to conduct falsification tests of various claims of climate science.

Falsification testing is a crucial element of establishing scientific certainty. Any “science” that has a very limited willingness or ability to conduct such tests should be expected to have less certainty in its claims that what we typically think of as science.

I think that one of the underlying problems with the whole “science says” argument when it comes to climate predictions is that they resist falsification tests. It’s not only that journals resist reporting them, but they’re also hard to design and execute.

 

 

In classical physics you can normally isolate the phenomenon under consideration pretty well. For example, a scientists can drop a ball in a near vacuum to test F = MA. In various “systems science” fields, where the interaction of the parts is essential to the theory at hand, this isolation becomes more difficult, but doable if the system as whole is small enough. Think of needing to test a complete airplane wing in wind tunnel, or more realistically in a wind tunnel simulator that has been in turn subject to repeated falsification tests versus a real wind tunnel so that engineers can have confidence in its results. Now scale the system up from a wing to the whole Earth, so that it is almost impossible to really conduct a test. Now further exacerbate the problem by making predictions of long-term change that can’t be tested over short periods (climate vs. weather), so that even if you wanted to run a single falsification test it would require something like 30 – 40 years (the general estimate of climate modelers for how long it takes separate signal-from-noise in a climate model prediction).

 

 

At this point, you have to ask whether this is really the same things as, say, particle physics. It seems to me that there is a continuum of certainty that can be expected from various different means of theory building and testing that share the label “science”. Classical physics is at one end and climate science at almost the other. Unless you want to add political science, economics and so forth to this spectrum, in which case these would obviously provide even less certainty than climate science. In fact, I think that climate science shares many methodological constraints with economics (one world, systems perspective, etc.). The big advantage of climate science is that the atomic unit of analysis for climate science is the molecule, while for economics it is an even trickier thing called a human.

 

 

In effect, climate scientists are trying to borrow the historical record of amazingly accurate predictions made by physical scientists and apply this prestige to their pronouncements, when there is a lot of reason to think that “climate science” will have a hard time ever replicating the predictive accuracy of physics.

Lenin’s Birthday



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It is a little-known fact that Earth Day is celebrated every year on Lenin’s Birthday, the first Earth Day being the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

I therefore heartily recommend Tracy Mehan’s Washington Times article today which highlights recent triumphs of the Free Market in securing environmental improvements. Too much effort is still directed towards statist solutions to environmental problems. The world has rejected Marxist-Leninist approaches in virtually every other aspect of the economy. With more attention payed to free market solutions, we might be able to move Earth Day to, say, June 5.

A Crisis in Journalism?



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Benny Peiser says that there is a crisis in scientific journalism. He gives a great example of how the editors of New Scientist attempt to square the basic scientific principle of falsification of theories with resistance to attempted falsification of climate science. Meanwhile, scientists are attacking journalistic norms and, almost certainly without realizing it, the concept of procedural justice. While I mght disagree with Benny that this is yet a crisis, it seems to me that it is the front line in the battle between technocracy and democracy.

Truth in Advertising



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Realclimate.org advertises itself as “Climate science from climate scientists.” You would therefore expect the scientists to portray the state of the science accurately and precisely.

Too much to hope for, it seems.

Science moves on



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There was considerable consternation among climate scientists a few months back when a paper was published that appeared to show an abrupt cooling of the oceans, with them losing much of the heat that had built up over the past three decades in just two years. Now it appears that the abrupt cooling was actually an artifact of the instruments.

However, the correction to the paper raises further questions. First, the warming trend has stopped in the last two years however the data are presented. Secondly, it appears that the historical data have suffered from an artificial warming signal. How great this artificial warming was is unclear, so it is too early to say that it accounts for a significant amount of the warming attributed to the oceans over the past few decades.

Once again, this illustrates just how difficult climate science is, how it is an evolving field, and how little we really know with certainty about the Earth.

The implications of Boxer’s hot air



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Per Barbara Boxer’s flippant suggestion that the US should “reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050,” fellow Planet blogger Jim Manzi asks: “Is it conceivable that she’s even thought through the economic implications of this?” Obviously she hasn’t, but Americans should. Here they are:

Since the Great Depression, according to the Department of Energy, CO2 emissions have dropped only twice – during the recessions of 1981-82 and 1990-91. The 1981-82 recession, the deepest since the 1930s, reduced CO2 emissions by 8 percent.

Celebrating the Kyoto treaty signing in 1997, Boxer’s fellow traveler Gore proudly announced that the United States would slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 to 7 percent below 1990 levels (in order to prevent what Gore then described as an ‘environmental holocaust’). What he didn’t say was that the Clinton administration had already quietly reneged on its 1993 commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2000.

All told, under the “It’s the economy stupid” Clinton/Gore Administration, emissions increased nearly 12 percent.

The Skeptical Brits



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The British public, it seems, has not yet bought the climate-change alarmism their public officials have been trying to sell. A poll late last year found that of British respondents who had heard of climate change, about half thought it was primarily a natural process and only a small percentage thought it could be influenced by individuals changing their behavior. The messages and politics here are complex, writes the New Statesman:

At the moment we are mired in a bog of confusing messages. In a portentous speech to the Green Alliance last month, the Chancellor Gordon Brown talked about the need for “new global partnerships and multilateral networks” to tackle the environmental challenge. The recent climate change review by the economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted hundreds of millions of “climate refugees” streaming across the world in an effort to escape from drought, flood and famine.

Yet opinion polls for the BBC and others indicate that the reaction of people hearing these pronouncements is that they are simply relieved to hear the problem is nothing to do with them. An ICM poll last month found about half the people questioned in some parts of the country were quite clear about their unwillingness to change their lifestyle at all. Elsewhere, there is growing scepticism that any of it is true, and the dissenting voices are getting louder. A recent editorial in the Daily Mail told millions of readers that it is pointless to alter drastically the way we live simply on the “vague possibility of an ecological disaster”.

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