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The Religious Left



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Oakland County, Michigan’s wealthiest county and a national political bellwether, has gone Democratic in recent presidential elections as “business Republicans” vote their concern that the Religious Right (or “fringe Christians” as Oakland executive commissioner Brook Patterson calls them) is taking over the party. But as last week’s climate hearings showcased, the Democratic Party has been co-opted by a religious interest of a different sort: the Green faith. 

Al Gore called global warming “a challenge to the moral imagination of humankind” but Rep. Jay Inslee (D- Wash.) was even more explicit on how addressing global warming is a matter of religious doctrine: 

(My constituents) believe we have moral obligation under their belief in a higher power that we have to take care of God’s garden.

If the Religious Right is in your bedroom, the Religious Left wants to be in your car, furnace room, light sockets, appliances. . . .

 

Rocking



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Al Gore may not get to use the Capitol for his global-warming concert.

Editor’s Note: This post has been amended since posting.

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Kerry Cares -- Really!



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TNR’s Sacha Zimmerman has this dead-on take on Kerry’s newfound environmental consciousness:

In an effort perhaps to reestablish his relevance, John Kerry is back in the public eye with a new book he has written with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, This Moment On Earth. The book is all about the importance of taking care of our planet and responding to the environmental crises in our midst. While I am certainly a proponent of environmental activism, this sudden burst of “conviction” feels totally hollow. Watching Kerry discuss the book on television, one can’t help but think that Kerry saw Al Gore’s success with the issue and simply jumped on the bandwagon–as if to say, “Look America! I care about pollution, too! Love me! I said, love me!!”

That said, I’m sure his conviction is at least mostly genuine. After all, it would be terrible if global warming (or whatever) were to keep him from windsurfing

Partisan is as partisan does



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Last week, Jonathan Chait answered the question, “Why is global warming so partisan?”, with the suggestion that it’s all the fault of the Republicans, citing Planet Gore as an example. Yes, well. Anyway, Roger Pielke Jr has a much more nuanced answer today at Prometheus, and I recommend reading the whole thing.

“The plant would have been our salvation”



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Columnists like Thomas Friedman and other Greens are thrilling over Environmental Defense’s successful negotiation with two big New York investment firms to buy out Texas utility TXU and reduce its planned expansion of 11 coal-fired power plants to three in order to “save the planet.”

Writes Friedman: “TXU not only didn’t understand that the world was getting green; it didn’t understand that the world was getting flat. ‘Going online,’ (Env. Defense president) Fred Krupp said, ‘we shifted this from a local debate over generating electricity to a national debate over capping and reducing carbon emissions.’”

And by shifting the issue to a “national debate,” comfortable Greens in New York City can blithely ignore the devastating economic consequences the deal has had on local Texas communities.

Never mind the loss of needed electricity generation, thanks to a nice piece of reporting in USA Today Wednesday we now know the human sacrifice that was made to satisfy Green dogma. Reporter John Ritter visited just one town devastated by the plants’ cancellation:

“This county seat of 4,100 was primed for an economic windfall from a coal-fired power plant that utility company TXU Corp. planned to build. . . . In Colorado City and surrounding Mitchell County, ‘there were lots of long faces,’ Mayor Jim Baum says. ‘The plant would have been our salvation, even more so than the discovery of oil.’

Up to 3,000 workers would have poured in for three years of construction, spending their pay at local stores. The plant, once operating, would have provided more than 100 high-paying jobs and hundreds more in support businesses. Tax revenue from TXU’s estimated $1 billion investment could have cut local taxes in half, Baum says.”

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Taxes v Cap and Trade



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Here are some useful reminders of just why honest politicians in favor of restricting emissions should be arguing for a carbon tax against cap-and-trade:

Of course, a tax is not a “market mechanism,” so they can’t dress the proposal up as “market-friendly.” It’s a political restriction on the market. So is cap-and-trade, of course.

Gore in the Shizzle-fazizzle?



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Carter Wood at the NAM blog Shopfloor asks a good question: does Tipper know who Al is going to be on stage with at the Live Earth concerts?

Having it all



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Poor Germany. After all of the green lectures about how we can have both economic growth and their brand of environmental protection, it appears that maybe tough choices are in order:

Economic Growth threatens German Emissions Targets

Handelsblatt, 27 March 2007

An unexpectedly soaring growth rate of the German economy is foiling the plans of environmentalists.

It is more difficult to reduce CO2 emissions when the economy is booming.

Germany has made significant progress in recent years to achieve Kyoto goals. Nevertheless, it will be difficult in the end to fulfil the target…

Although no official emissions data for 2006 have been released yet, there are important indicators that indicate that CO2 emissions have risen. Energy production has risen by 2.6% in 2006…..

You can’t legislate morality...



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So keep your hands off my global warming. This is beautiful.

Paul Driessen on the wrongs of “social responsibility”



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Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Atlas Economic Research Foundation, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death (www.Eco-Imperialism.com), and a featured expert in “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” sent me the following commentary on environmentalist crusades against DDT and fossil fuels, which he argues have harmed people and the planet:

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean,” said Humpty Dumpty – “neither more nor less.” Lewis Carroll’s “Looking Glass” logic too often seems to be a guiding principle for environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activists.

They claim to be committed to people and planet, not just profits – and to honesty, transparency, accountability and human health. One would expect that such basic ethical standards would apply equally to for-profit companies and nonprofit advocacy corporations. However, the activists who defined CSR standards routinely exempt themselves and use the terms primarily to pressure companies, raise money and advance political agendas.

Forty years ago, Environmental Defense (ED) was launched to secure a ban on DDT and, in the words of co-founder Charles Wurster, “achieve a level of authority” that environmentalists never had before. Its high-pressure campaign persuaded EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus to ignore the findings of his own scientific panel and ban DDT in the US in 1972.

The panel had concluded that DDT is not harmful to people, birds or the environment. That’s especially true when small quantities are sprayed on walls to repel mosquitoes and prevent malaria. However, ED and allied groups continued their misleading eco-catastrophe campaign, until the chemical (and other insecticides) were banished even from most global healthcare programs.

Thankfully, DDT had already helped eradicate malaria in the United States and Europe. But the disease still sickens 500 million people a year and kills 2 million, mostly African women and children. Since 1972, tens of millions have died who might well have lived if their countries had been able to keep DDT in their disease control arsenals.

A year ago – after an extensive public education effort by the Congress of Racial Equality, Africa Fighting Malaria, Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW Coalition and other health and human rights groups– the USAID and World Health Organization finally began supporting DDT use once again. But ED, Pesticide Action Network and other agitators still promote ridiculous anti-DDT themes on their websites, claiming it is “associated with” low birth weights in babies and shortened lactation in nursing mothers.

Even if these assertions were true, notes Uganda’s Fiona Kobusingye, such risks “are nothing compared to the constant danger of losing more babies and mothers to malaria.” She has had malaria at least 20 times and lost her son, two sisters and five nephews to the disease. “How can US environmentalists tell us we should be more worried about insecticides than about malaria?” she asks. “Their attitudes are immoral eco-imperialism – a crime against humanity.”

None of these anti-insecticide pressure groups has ever apologized for their disingenuous campaigns or atoned in any way for the misery and death they helped perpetuate, much less been held accountable. Instead, they blame today’s horrendous malaria rates on a new “crisis” – global warming.

Malaria was once common even in Ohio, Virginia, California and Siberia – and they claim it is spreading because global temperatures have risen a few tenths of a degree. Even worse, they are using fears of climate chaos to justify their long antipathy to energy and economic development.

Two billion people rarely or never have electricity – for lights, refrigeration and cooking, water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, offices, shops and factories. Women and children are plagued with lung infections caused by wood and dung fires, and by acute intestinal diseases caused by tainted water and spoiled food. Up to ten million die from these causes every year.

But instead of helping destitute families get abundant, reliable, affordable electricity, Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense and other pressure groups block efforts to build coal and gas generating plants, because they would release greenhouse gases. They block hydroelectric and nuclear projects on equally questionable grounds – and then praise Citigroup, JP Morgan and Bank of America for being “socially responsible,” by refusing to finance any major power projects.

Up to 95% of people in Sub-Saharan countries have no electricity, Al Gore personally uses more electricity in a week than 25 million Ugandans do in a year – and agitators are telling Africans the biggest threat they face is hypothetical climate change.

Environmental Defense is poised to rake in millions from emissions trading credits, through its new alliance with Morgan Stanley, and an axis of anti-developers is telling the Third World: You can’t have electricity. You can’t have a modern, industrialized society. Your future is expensive, intermittent, insufficient “renewable” energy: a solar panel on your hut, to power a light bulb, radio, hot plate and tiny refrigerator – and eventually a few wind turbines to electrify a school, clinic and minimal light manufacturing operations.

Such a future would perpetuate poverty, deprivation, misery and disease in Third World countries – ensuring death tolls that would likely dwarf even the activists’ malaria records

In the United States, coal generates half of all electricity. Fossil fuels account for 80% of all the energy that fuels US technology, progress and living standards. Canada, Australia and Europe also rely heavily on fossil fuels.

Proposals to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 80% over the next few decades would put US companies at a competitive disadvantage, cost millions of jobs, and add $2000-4000 to the average American family’s annual bill for electricity, gasoline, food and other basics, say government and other studies. Other developed countries would suffer similar fates.

Moreover, all this pain would bring no gain in the climate change arena. Ice core and temperature data covering thousands of years clearly show that planetary temperatures rise first and, 400 to 800 years later, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase. Temperatures fall and, centuries later, CO2 levels decline. Even Al Gore’s own temperature-and-CO2 graph demonstrates this.

Warm oceans release trapped CO2, while colder seas absorb the gas, in cycles controlled by changes in solar energy and cosmic ray output, shifts in the Earth’s orbit and other natural forces. (See “The Great Global Warming Swindle” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XttV2C6B8pU)

Talk about an inconvenient truth!

It demolishes the central premise of climate alarmism – that CO2 is responsible for climate change. It makes it clear that the Kyoto Protocol and assorted legislative proposals are nothing more than hundred-billion-dollar-a-year symbolic gestures, whose primary effect would be to give bureaucrats and activists an ever greater “level of authority” over energy, economic and personal decisions.

To Humpty Dumpty, the central question when defining words was “who is to be master.” It’s become the central question when discussing climate cataclysm theories.

Instead of CSR, we need global social responsibility: for all corporations, including multinational activist corporations; for all people, especially the Third World’s poor and families on low and fixed incomes; and for all concerns, health and economic, as well as environmental. A healthy dose of sound science and robust debate would be equally helpful.

The authentic voice of the third world needs to be heard here. Paul’s warnings against eco-imperialism are timely.

Domenici and the Gore Standard



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New Mexico’s Pete Domenici — a Senator who had been seen as wavering in his opposition to carbon rationing legislation –stunned the Kyotophile world yesterday by claiming that “‘I believe it would be unwise for the United States to move forward without also working to get China and India as full partners in the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide,’ he said. ‘To do otherwise would negatively impact the U.S. economy, our global competitiveness.’”

Where ever would he get such an idea, that without these countries’ participation all we would be doing is exporting jobs, as Europe is doing now? Why, the Goracle himself, who set the standard for the US entangling itself at least in any foreign pacts on this matter — a standard which George W. Bush adhered to in March 2001 not long after taking the oath of office, to swift, nasty, international and inexplicable (outside of partisan politics) condemnation the day he ignored unanimous Senate advice and agreed to the Kyoto Protocol:

“‘As we said from the very beginning, we will not submit this agreement for ratification until key developing nations participate in this effort,’ Gore declared.”

UK Tories and free-market environmentalism



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Yesterday, British Tory would-be legislator and editor of The Ecologist magazine, Zac Goldsmith, inheritor of the fortune built up by Sir James Goldsmith, had a column in the Daily Telegraph that suggested that the market should provide the response to climate change. All well and good, but Mr. Goldsmith’s definition of a free market is actually one shackled by taxes and regulation. As I argue in this critique of the piece, the Tories should be examining genuine free-market environmentalism.

Spinning Kyoto



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David Freddoso reins in Al Gore.

Gore’s Europe



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David Freddoso has a piece up on NRO today examining Al Gore’s cheerleading for the EU’s Kyoto experiment. Gore’s claims consists, like his movie, of half-truths, non-truths, and some flat-out falsehoods. Here are a few points to remember when reading this piece:

Although the EU, like Gore, is now trying to be clever by redefining “Europe” for Kyoto purposes in popular discussion, there has been no such redefinition. They both do this because, by bringing in nations whose economies collapsed after the ultra-artificial 1990 baseline year for this 1997 treaty, it absorbs a lot of economic collapse, er, “emissions reductions”. Regardless, “Europe” for Kyoto purposes remains the EU-15; to claim otherwise is to transparently seek to claim (inapplicable) virtue in economic malaise.

Europe collectivized their emission obligations under Kyoto’s Article 4 so as to have a “bubble”, under which they shifted around the original burden of an -8% promise that they all originally ratified, individually. This allows 13 countries ostensibly to ride the UK’s early-’90s “dash to gas”, and Germany’s absorption (and shuttering) of East German capacity. The latter act alone accounts for 75% of “Europe’s” emission reductions under the collectivized deal. The EU-15 is actually now the Party to the treaty, not Germany, the UK, et al. It is therefore not subject to rhetorical games.

Europe also did not in fact recently adopt “binding” promises, as Gore says, any more than Kyoto is a “binding” treaty – it is not but instead, like this promise, only offers the promise of being made binding, which its Parties rejected. All Europe did was trumpet a promise that the EU-25 would collectively reduce emissions (or more likely, as they are currently doing, buy credits from countries like China) by 20% by 2020. This is rhetoric; it cannot be enforced. This is good for them because, also contrary to Gore’s claims they are not reducing their emissions, it would be either utterly unrealistic or breathtakingly expensive. Already, EU leaders are pointing out that “no country will be forced to adopt measures in this field without its consent” (Polish President Kaczynski) and that the beauty in this promise as it stands is that each country gets to believe that it is a special case (German Chancellor Merkel). Make promises today, worry about them tomorrow; this perfectly sums up Europe’s Kyoto dalliance.

Again, by (actually) redefining “Europe” for this “post-2012” purpose the EU lessens the burden on the rest, the new EU-10 all being 1990s economic basket cases. However, as I will demonstrate in a forthcoming paper, by luring Eastern Europe with the promise that they face no actual reduction requirement, a business-as-usual approach in the face of official projections by almost all these countries of emission increases provides little to no succor as originally intended.

This promise was of a collective -20% target, again Cf. 1990. Brussels does not actually have the power, or in EU parlance the “competence”, to assign each country a quota; that must be volunteered, or agreed to. This reality is increasingly cited as a reason that the EU “constitution” must be imposed and Brussels otherwise further empowered. Absent this, agreeing on such a new “Burden Sharing Agreement” will prove, IMHO, the undoing of Europe’s Kyoto experiment. Getting someone to actually be the one to pick up the tab — Germany for example has said it’s now someone else’s turn despite that their first “cut” was to ride E. Germany’s collapse — is such a daunting prospect that Eurocrats are complaining that the BSA concept should be scrapped.

This would matter not. Each nation would still, in practice under nearly any scenario, require national targets particularly given their differing circumstances. And even the most “yes-sir-how-high-sir” country when it comes to Brussels (say, Spain) would reject the pain that this de facto non-binding promise of -20% Cf. 1990 would entail. Regardless, experience indicates that, just as with Mr. Gore, one ought to take any EU claims with caution.

Delayed Round-up



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Lots of items you may have missed:

Enough to be going on with?

Ethanol’s corny appeal



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The mirage of energy independence has beckoned every president since Nixon. Today, we are more dependent on foreign oil than ever, but political reality necessitates that President Bush deliver a strategy for oil alternatives while the country sends young men and women to fight in the Mideast. Thus the presidential photo-ops with ethanol-fueled cars this past week

That political benefit aside, it is hard to think of a more cynical, wrong-headed program than corn-based ethanol.

As I’ll detail in subsequent blogs it will not effect energy dependence, it is not a viable alternative, it will have no effect on alleged global warming – in fact, its only discernable value is to provide a bio-fuel infrastructure should another alternative (switch grass or sugar) prove viable on the distant horizon.

Not even corn-ethanol’s original justification– as a federally-mandated gas additive to assist urban air quality – holds water anymore. As Car & Driver magazine’s brilliant engineer, Patrick Bedard, explained in July, 2006:

“Feedback-fuel-metering systems (in engines) . . . became the norm roughly 20 years ago. As a result, the benefits of the oxygenate rule have decreased as newer vehicles’ fuel systems have replaced the older, more primitive ones. Today, as any engine engineer will testify, the rule has virtually no pollution benefit and has become nothing more than a backdoor mandate for the ethanol industry and corn farmers.”

Heritage’s Ben Lieberman on Global Warming



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Less Gas



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The president this morning:


THE WHITE HOUSE

 

Office of the Press Secretary

 

For Immediate Release March 27, 2007

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AFTER DEMONSTRATION OF ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES

 

U.S. Postal Service Vehicle Maintenance Facility

Washington, D.C.

 

 

10:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, thank you. I want to thank you all very much.

Yesterday I talked with the chief executive officers of U.S. auto companies about what they’re doing to help us meet the goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent over 10 years. Today I’ve had the honor of visiting with private sector companies — “Big Brown” FedEx, the Metro bus line, as well as the Postal Office folks, and DaimlerChrysler, as well, to talk about how we are using new technologies to convert truck fleets, bus fleets to vehicles that will be able to help meet the goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent over 10 years.

The reason I’ve come is I want the American people to understand that there are new technologies on the market that are being used every single day, but there’s more we can do. I’m looking forward to working with Congress to meet this goal. They need to pass meaningful energy legislation as soon as possible, all aiming at making sure that we promote technologies that, for the sake of our national security and for the sake of good environmental policy, we reduce the usage of gasoline.

The goal I laid out of reducing gasoline by 20 percent over 10 years is a realistic goal. In other words, this isn’t a pipe dream, this is something that our nation can accomplish. It’s going to take more research dollars, it’s going to take working with the private sector, and it’s going to take innovative leadership. And I thank the folks here who are representing companies that have got innovative leadership, people willing to make use of technologies that change the way we drive and will change the way we live.

So I appreciate you all being with me. It’s an honor to be with you. Thank you for your time.

END 10:41 A.M. EDT

George Monbiot is Right



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Yes, and I’ve said it before. George Monbiot is right when it comes to his criticism of biofuels:

So what’s wrong with these [biofuel subsidy/mandate] programmes? Only that they are a formula for environmental and humanitarian disaster. In 2004 I warned, on these pages, that biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation. It would also lead to the destruction of rainforests and other important habitats. I received more abuse than I’ve had for any other column – except for when I attacked the 9/11 conspiracists. I was told my claims were ridiculous, laughable, impossible. Well in one respect I was wrong. I thought these effects wouldn’t materialise for many years. They are happening already.

Exactly right. CEI argues as much in this recent paper:

There are significant trade-offs, however, involved in the massive expansion of the production of corn and other crops for fuel. Chief among these would be a shift of major amounts of the world’s food supply to fuel use when significant elements of the human population remains ill-fed.

Even without ethanol, the world is facing a clash between food and forests. Food and feed demands on farmlands will more than double by 2050. Unfortunately, the American public does not yet understand the massive land requirements of U.S. corn ethanol nor the unique conditions that have allowed sugar cane ethanol to make a modest energy contribution in Brazil.

The United States might well have to clear an additional 50 million acres of forest—or more—to produce economically significant amounts of liquid transport fuels. Despite the legend of past U.S farm surpluses, the only large reservoir of underused cropland in America is about 30 million acres of land—too dry for corn—enrolled in the Conservation Reserve. Ethanol mandates may force the local loss of many wildlife species, and perhaps trigger some species extinctions. Soil erosion will increase radically as large quantities of low-quality land are put into fuel crops on steep slopes and in drought-prone regions.

Free-Market Environmentalists and Green Environmentalists are united on this issue (as on many more issues than either side likes to admit). Biofuels are a cop-out and a boondoggle rolled into one.

Tim has more on how George comes to be in this position in the first place.

 

More Backbone in the Senate



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E&E Daily reports (subscription required):

A key Senate Republican vowed yesterday to block global warming legislation if emerging industrial nations do not make similar commitments.

“My concerns are long enough that I would kill a bill if we haven’t taken some giant stride in the direction of getting China and/or India to join with this,” Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said in an interview yesterday.

China’s emissions are on track to surpass the United States as early as this year, according to recent media reports, driving the Senate Energy Committee’s ranking member to express concern that a new U.S. program would do little to address climate change while simultaneously harming the domestic economy.

“It’s just grown on me in the past month, where I just can’t believe and will not support major legislation imposed upon the American economic system and jobs and everything else,” Domenici said. “I won’t support doing that .. unless and until we have brought the Chinese on board, or the Indians, or there is absolute assurance they are coming on.”…

In yesterday’s interview, Domenici cautioned that he was no closer to joining Bingaman, now the chairman of the Energy Committee.

“The more I go through all this, the further we get,” Domenici said.

This squares with the long-standing Senate objection to Kyoto. Good for Sen. Domenici!

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