Posts tagged ‘Tom Nelson’

A Green Business Model

An enterprising UK resident has questions about starting a new green business:

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a check for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business....

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is "“ until this year, when he received a check for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?  I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department....

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tons of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I wonder if we adopted this in the US, if jobs not lost not growing grain to not feed to pigs that aren't reared  would count in the stimulus numbers?

via Tom Nelson

Agriculture Is Cheap When You Have Serfs to do the Work

Tom Nelson has a pretty funny set of articles on the White House vegetable garden.    Michelle Obama told a group of kids it only cost $180.  Tom links a variety of videos and articles showing:

  • Five NPS workers digging in the garden, with a tractor, tiller, and hand tools.
  • A job posting for a college grad for the position of "White House Farmer."
  • A job description of an assistant White House chef who currently overseas the garden.

Farming is cheap if the serfs (ie US citizens) provide all the labor and equipment for free.

Poverty Is Not Sustainable

This article from Climate Resistance about the sustainability movement is terrific.  I want to excerpt a relatively long chunk of it:

It is our belief that Oxfam's increasingly shallow campaigns reflect the organisation's difficulty in understanding development and poverty, and the relationship between them. In other words, it seems to have lost its purpose. This is a reflection of a wider political phenomenon, of which the predominance of environmentalism is a symptom. We seem to have forgotten why we wanted development in the first place. It is as if the lifestyles depicted in Cecil's painting were to be aspired to, were there just a little more rain. Development is a bad thing. It stops rain.

If we were to add a city skyline into the background of Cecil's painting it might ask a very different question of its audience. Why are people living like that, with such abundance in such proximity? Of course, in reality, many miles separate the two women from any such city, but the question still stands; there is abundance in the world, and there is the potential for plenty more. Yet Oxfam have absorbed the idea from the environmental movement that there isn't abundance. This changes the relationship between development and poverty from one in which development creates abundance into one in which development creates poverty; it deprives people of subsistence. But really, the city (not) behind the two women could organise the infrastructure necessary to irrigate the parched landscape, the delivery of fertiliser, and a tractor. The field could be in full bloom, in spite of the weather. The two women could be wealthy.

Oh no, says Oxfam. That's not sustainable....

The myth of sustainability is that it is sustainable. The truth is that drought and famine have afflicted the rural poor throughout history "“ before climate change was ever used to explain the existence of poverty. Limiting development to what "˜nature' provides therefore makes people vulnerable to her whims. Drought is "˜natural'. Famine is "˜natural'. Disease is "˜natural'. They are all mechanisms which, in the ecologist's lexicon are nature's own way of ensuring "˜sustainability'. They are checks and balances on the dominance of one species. To absorb what Hitler called "˜the iron logic of nature' is to submit to injustice, if famine, drought and disease characterise it. We can end poverty, but not by restricting development. Yet that seems to be Oxfam's intention. That is why we criticise it.

Hat tip:  Tom Nelson.

More of the Carbon Offset Folly

A while back, in relation to a company called Terrapass that sells carbon offset certificates (or smugness coupons, as I called them) I observed:

My guess is that TerraPass, when it sells the electricity from these
projects to customers, is selling it on the basis that it is
earth-friendly and causes no CO2 emissions.  This lack of emissions is
likely part of the "bundle" sold to electricity customers.  But note
that this would be selling the same lack of emissions twice -- once to
TerraPass certificate holders, and once to the electricity customers.
I am sure they are both told they are avoiding X tons of emissions, but
it is the same X tons, sold twice (at least).

We are starting to see this all over now.  From the WSJ, via Tom Nelson:

America's garbage dumps are reaping a windfall from the fight against
global warming. But their payday might not be doing much to reduce
greenhouse-gas emissions.

For more than a decade, the landfill
here has made extra profit simply by collecting methane given off by
rotting trash, and selling it as fuel. Last year, the landfill learned
that doing this also qualified it to earn hundreds of thousands of
dollars via a new program that pays companies to cut their
greenhouse-gas emissions.

Eliminating methane lets dumps sell
"carbon credits" to environmentally conscious people and companies. The
long-term goal of trading credits -- basically, vouchers representing
reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases -- is to reduce
global pollution by encouraging others to cut emissions when the buyers
of the credits can't or won't cut their own.

"It seemed a little suspicious that we could get money for doing nothing,"
says Charles Norkis, executive director of the Cape May County
Municipal Utilities Authority, which has raised $427,475 selling
credits since February, or 3% of the authority's projected solid-waste
revenue for the year.

The sale of credits by these landfills
undermines a premise of the global fight against climate change. The
credit system was designed to encourage pollution cuts that wouldn't
have happened without a financial incentive. But the credits aren't helping the environment if they're merely providing extra profit for cleanups already made. And dumps already have an incentive to capture methane because selling it can be profitable.

More on this same carbon offset issue in the European / UN system here.

Why a carbon tax, if we really feel we must limit CO2, is better than cap-and-trade / offset system here.

Now I Understand - Obama Means Five Million New Government Jobs

I have not been able to figure out how Obama gets to a 5 million job creation number from his alternative energy plans.  As I pointed out,

OK, so the total employment of all these industries that might be
related to an alternate energy effort is about 2.28 million.  So, to
add 5 million incremental jobs would require tripling the size of the
utility industry, tripling the size of the utility construction and
equipment industry, tripling the size of the auto industry, tripling
the size of the aircraft industry, and tripling the size of the
shipbuilding industry.  And even then we would be a bit short of
Obama's number.

But now I think I am starting to understand.  Tom Nelson gave me the clue with this article from the town of Frankfort, Kentucky:

Commissioners again discussed the possible creation of a sustainability coordinator position for the city.

Andy MacDonald, of the Mayor's Task Force on Energy Efficiency and
Climate Change, told commissioners that the creation of the position is
"the next critical step" to reduce the city's environmental footprint.

Commissioner Doug Howard brought up the possibility of asking the
city's recycling coordinator to fulfill part of the proposed position's
duties until money is available.

OK, so we need both a recycling coordinator and a sustainability coordinator for a town of 27,741 people (2000 census).  At this rate, that would imply nearly 22,000 government jobs across the country just in the government recylcing and sustainablity coordination field.  Now I am starting to understand.  Obama means five million new government jobs.

Dumbest Thing I Have Read Today

Apparently from the lips of Barack Obama, via the WSJ and Tom Nelson:

"I want you to think about this," Barack Obama said in Las Vegas last
week. "The oil companies have already been given 68 million acres of
federal land, both onshore and offshore, to drill. They're allowed to
drill it, and yet they haven't touched it "“ 68 million acres that have
the potential to nearly double America's total oil production."

Wow.  I would not have thought it possible to blame government restrictions on drilling, which the oil companies have decried for years, on the oil companies themselves.  But apparently its possible. 

1.  Just because the Federal Government auctions an oil lease, it does not mean that there is oil there.  And if there is oil there, it does not mean the oil is recoverable economically or with current technology.  Does this even need to be said?

2.  The implication is that oil companies are intentionally not drilling available reserves (to raise prices or because they are just generally evil or whatever).  But if this is the case, then what is the problem with issuing new leases?  If oil companies aren't going to drill them, then the government gets a bunch of extra leasing money without any potential environmental issues.  Of course, nobody on the planet would argue Obama's real concern is that the new leases won't get drilled -- his concern is that they will get drilled and his environmental backers will get mad at him.

Dumbest Thing I Have Read Today

Apparently from the lips of Barack Obama, via the WSJ and Tom Nelson:

"I want you to think about this," Barack Obama said in Las Vegas last
week. "The oil companies have already been given 68 million acres of
federal land, both onshore and offshore, to drill. They're allowed to
drill it, and yet they haven't touched it "“ 68 million acres that have
the potential to nearly double America's total oil production."

Wow.  I would not have thought it possible to blame government restrictions on drilling, which the oil companies have decried for years, on the oil companies themselves.  But apparently its possible. 

1.  Just because the Federal Government auctions an oil lease, it does not mean that there is oil there.  And if there is oil there, it does not mean the oil is recoverable economically or with current technology.  Does this even need to be said?

2.  The implication is that oil companies are intentionally not drilling available reserves (to raise prices or because they are just generally evil or whatever).  But if this is the case, then what is the problem with issuing new leases?  If oil companies aren't going to drill them, then the government gets a bunch of extra leasing money without any potential environmental issues.  Of course, nobody on the planet would argue Obama's real concern is that the new leases won't get drilled -- his concern is that they will get drilled and his environmental backers will get mad at him.

Know Your Enemy

I want to thank Tom Nelson for the pointer, because I usually don't hang out much at the Socialist Unity site.  But I thought that this post was telling.

While it may be urgent that we create a red green alliance to
strengthen radical social action to stop climate change, our collective
problem is how are we going to do that?

The Climate Change Social Change Conference
held in Sydney Australia during April tried to tackle that
challenge.This was a bold attempt to bring together left and green
activists in order to locate a shared perspective around which we could
begin more consciously organize....

Foster and Perez urged the conference's participants to consider
socialism as the only viable solution to the climate emergency. This
was a persistent theme discussed throughout the three day event as
speakers were drawn from a range of environment movements and
organisations (such as the Australian Greens and Friends of the Earth)
as well as academic specialists "” who preferred solution packages which
were not consciously committed to a socialist transformation of
society..

Cui Bono?

Here is something I didn't know:  Way back in the 1990's, Enron was lobbying hard for cap and trade legislation to create a lucrative new trading profit center for the company (HT Tom Nelson)

In the early 1990s Enron had helped establish the market for, and
became the major trader in, EPA's $20 billion-per-year sulphur dioxide
cap-and-trade program, the forerunner of today's proposed carbon credit
trade. This commodity exchange of emission allowances caused Enron's
stock to rapidly rise.

Then came the inevitable question, what
next? How about a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program? The problem was
that CO2 is not a pollutant, and therefore the EPA had no authority to
cap its emission. Al Gore took office in 1993 and almost immediately
became infatuated with the idea of an international environmental
regulatory regime. He led a U.S. initiative to review new projects
around the world and issue "˜credits' of so many tons of annual CO2
emission reduction. Under law a tradeable system was required, which
was exactly what Enron also wanted because they were already trading
pollutant credits.

Thence Enron vigorously lobbied Clinton and
Congress, seeking EPA regulatory authority over CO2. From 1994 to 1996,
the Enron Foundation contributed nearly $1 million dollars - $990,000 -
to the Nature Conservancy, whose Climate Change Project promotes global
warming theories. Enron philanthropists lavished almost $1.5 million on
environmental groups that support international energy controls to
"reduce" global warming. Executives at Enron worked closely with the
Clinton administration to help create a scaremongering climate science
environment because the company believed the treaty could provide it
with a monstrous financial windfall. The plan was that once the problem
was in place the solution would be trotted out.

With Enron out of the picture, the way is clear for new players to dominate this multi-billion dollar new business.  And look who is ready to take over from Enron:

The investment
vehicle headed by Al Gore has closed a new $683m fund to invest in
early-stage environmental companies and has mounted a robust defence of
green investing.

The Climate Solutions Fund will be one of the biggest in the growing market for investment funds with an environmental slant.

The fund
will be focused on equity investments in small companies in four
sectors: renewable energy; energy efficiency technologies; energy from
biofuels and biomass; and the carbon trading markets.

This is
the second fund from Generation Investment Management, chaired by the
former vice-president of the US and managed by David Blood, former head
of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

The first, the Global Equity
Strategy Fund, has $2.2bn invested in large companies the company
judges have "sustainable" businesses, from an environmental, social and
economic viewpoint. Mr Blood said he expected that fund to be worth
$5bn within two years, based on commitments from interested investors.

Going green indeed.

No Bias Here

Via Tom Nelson comes this interview with climate "scientist" Dr. Kate Rawles:

Greenbang: What do you think is wrong with the debate on climate change?

Dr Kate: It hasn't really got to grips with the fundamental problem,
which is that Western, industrialised lifestyles are literally
unsustainable. Climate change is just one symptom of this. WWF famously
calculated that if everyone on earth were to enjoy the lifestyle of an
average Western European, we would need three planet earths.

Not even the most optimistic believers in technology think that we
can technofix this problem so that 6 billion people (let alone the
projected 9 billion) can enjoy a western lifestyle without ecological
meltdown. It follows that we urgently need to rethink what we currently
mean by a "˜high standard of living' and move away from materialistic
versions of this to an understanding of quality of life that could be
enjoyed by everyone, without causing environmental mayhem. This is
about values, not just about technology.

To a large extent, understanding the passion of climate alarmists is a chicken and egg problem.  Normally, scientists identify a problem and then we seek to solve it.  But, as you can see with this woman, climate science works in reverse.  The debate began with people who believed that technology and economic growth needed to be diminished, and then found global warming as a conveniently manufactured "problem" that pointed to their already preferred solution. 

This, by the way, is her complete answer to the question about what is wrong with climate debate.  You can see her answer to this climate science question has nothing to do with climate, but everything to do with her pro-poverty position.  She actually states her position as anti-western-standard-of-living, because that plays better with the soccer moms, but this is exactly the same as pro-poverty.  And get a load of this great scientist quoting WWF advocacy press releases as if they were peer-reviewed science.

By the way, I personally believe that the world could easily sustain 6 billion people in a western standard of living, and love humanity enough to root for this to occur, so here statement is untrue  (by the way, why are people who advocate for universal poverty like this person considered "sensitive" while folks like me who would love to see all the world wealthy considered evil and cold-hearted?)  I don't know exactly how this will happen, but if I stood in the year 1908 I would not know how (or probably believe) even a single person could  enjoy what we call a western standard of living today, but billions do.  The human mind is a wonderful thing, and can achieve a lot, at least when scientists pursue new possibilities rather than simply shrieking that we need to turn the clock back.

Update:  Here is one faulty assumption she is making:

Current levels of consumption in industrialised societies are too high
- as the three planet earth analysis clearly shows. This presents a
major problem for current economic thinking, which is premised on
growth, and which requires us all to keep consuming more, not less.
Clearly we can't grow infinitely, and consume infinitely, on a finite
planet.

Her assumption is that the Earth is somehow at capacity.  How do we know that?  If a scientist bases all of her beliefs on an assumption like this that has never been proven and the scientist is perfectly comfortable taking on faith, can we really call her a scientist?  Or do we call her a religionist? 

Our Technology Is Not Economic -- Do We Invest in R&D, or Lobbying?

Lobbying of course!  Silly rabbit. 

The wind industry's trade group spent nearly $816,000 to lobby last
year as wind companies tried to persuade Congress to extend a key tax
credit and make power companies use more renewable sources.   

Despite the efforts of the American Wind Energy Association, neither desire found its way into legislation this past year.   

The
group, whose members include General Electric Co., BP PLC, AES Corp.
and FPL Group Inc., is still pushing for the tax-credit extension after
lawmakers failed to tuck into the economic stimulus plan. The industry
argues that 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investments are at risk if
the 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour tax credit doesn't get a second wind.
It expires in 2008.

Here is the really, seriously amazing part:  In 2004, there were just over 400,000 people employed in the US power generation, transmission, and distribution business.  This means that, incredibly, this advocacy group is claiming nearly 30% of the electric utility industry owes their job to wind power, despite wind generating a bit less than 1% of all the power in the US.  If this is true, then here is a solution - forget the 1.9 cent subsidy, and cut some staff. 

Oh, you mean that job number probably isn't real, kind of like those municipal stadium and sports team subsidy studies.  Really?  Boy are you cynical.   

(HT Tom Nelson)

Thank God George Bush Supports Ethanol...

... because that may make it easier for the Democrats to summon the political will to kill ethanol subsidies, though don't hold your breath.  Certainly, though, the NYT, after years of cheerleading ethanol, may finally be coming around:

Congress must take a hard look at the effect of corn ethanol on food
supplies in the same way the new energy bill requires it to review the
environmental effects. It must move toward ending subsidies that will
become even more difficult to justify as oil prices rise and the costs
of producing corn ethanol decline. And it must press other wealthy
countries to do the same before hunger turns to mass starvation.

Via Tom Nelson

By the way, these problems with ethanol we are experiencing today were are inevitable as night follows day, yet we still had to blunder into it before we started questioning the economics.  The power of political correctness to trump science and logic is amazing.

The More Things Change....

Professor Lance Endersbee, via Tom Nelson:

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the climate in Europe was cold
and unpredictable. Crops failed. Famine followed famine, bringing
epidemics.  There was a belief that crop failures must be due to human wickedness.

But who were the wicked ones? 

It
was believed that there must be some witches who are in the grip of the
devil. Witches were named, Inquisitors tested their faith, and a large
number of poor souls were condemned and burnt at the stake. For decade
after decade, fires burned in most towns in Europe.

Fast-forward to our "enlightened" society today:

"Every time a child dies as a result
of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of
his office and drowned
," for causing global warming, rants UK
firebrand George Monbiot. Government leaders "should go to jail" for
failing to act more quickly to prevent planetary climate cataclysm,
insists Canadian eco-zealot David Suzuki. These assertions range from
simplistic and outrageous to straight out of Lewis Carroll.
...
Eco-alarmists
tell impoverished Africans that global warming is the greatest threat
they face "“ when Al Gore uses more electricity in a week than 100
million Africans together use in a year. Those people rarely or never
have electricity and must burn wood and animal dung, resulting in lung
diseases that cause millions of deaths annually. Yet alarmists oppose
fossil fuel power plants, as well as nuclear and hydroelectric projects
"“ guaranteed that Africa's poverty and death toll will continue.

Cap and Rent-Seek

Just the other day, I made the point that just because regulated corporations support a regulation does not mean that said regulation is sensible or good for the economy.  Often, incumbents are beneficiaries of industry regulation, which tends to give them certain advantages over new entrants.  I showed an example with General Electric and the new energy bill regulating light bulbs:

we see that GE has a product sitting on the shelf ready for release
that fits perfectly with the new mandate.  Assuming competitors don't
have such a technology yet, the energy bill is then NOT a regulation of
GE's product that they reluctantly bow to, but a mandate that allows GE
to keep doing business but trashes their competition.  It is a market
share acquisition law for GE.

Marlo Lewis makes a similar point, this time in relation to cap and trade systems:

I can't count how many times I've heard that line of
chatter"”and from people who usually assume anything corporations are
for must be bad!
 
There are many reasons some corporations
support cap-and-trade, or at least say nice things about it in public.
Some companies seek the PR value from looking green....
 
But in the case of energy companies, many who support
cap-and-trade do so in the expectation that they'll get a boatload of
carbon permits from the government"”for free!
 
Permits represent an artificial, government-created
scarcity in the right to produce energy. The right to produce energy is
very valuable, especially where government restricts it. The tighter
the cap, the more valuable each permit traded under the cap.
And this is a major problem with cap and trade that no one talks about:  It is a huge government subsidy and protection of existing competitors against new entrants.  Because in most systems, current competitors receive a starting allotment of credits for free, but new entrants who want to start up and compete against existing companies must purchase their credits.  This is tolerated in Europe, because that is how the European quasi-corporate-state works, with politicians and large corporations in bed together to protect each others' incumbency.  But it creates a stagnating economic mess, ironically locking in place the very companies and business models environmentalists would like to see overtaken by new ideas and entrants.

Frequent readers know that I am not convinced the costs of man-made global warming exceed the costs of abating such warming.  However, if we are going to do so, a carbon tax makes so much more sense, in that it avoids the implicit subsidies of incumbents and reduces the opportunities for rent-seeking and political shenanigans.  Politicians, however, live for these rent-seeking opportunities, because they generate so many campaign contributions.  They also favor hidden taxes, as cap-and-trade would be, over direct taxes, such as the carbon tax, because they are, well, gutless.

More here on cap-and-trade vs. carbon tax.

HT:  Tom Nelson

Businesses and Regulation

I sometimes here supporters of a certain regulation say "even big company X supports this regulation, so it must be a good idea."  But this is based on a faulty assumption, similar to that made by people who equate being pro-business in politics with being pro-free markets.  They are not the same thing.  As was said at the Cato blog:

Representatives of the business community frequently are the worst
enemies of freedom. They often seek special subsidies and handouts, and
commonly conspire with politicians to thwart competition (conveniently,
they want competition among their suppliers, just not for their own
products). Fortunately, most business organizations still tend to be -
on balance - supporters of limited government. But as the Wall Street Journal notes, some state and local chambers of commerce have become relentless enemies of good policy.

Incumbents of major industries very often shape regulation to their advantage, and to the disadvantage of consumers and smaller or new competitors.  For example, as one of the larger companies in my business, many of the regulations and restrictions I rail against in this blog actually help my business.  Licensing requirements, bonding requirements, insurance requirements, regulatory and reporting requirements, etc.  all tend to make it nearly impossible for new companies to enter the business to compete against me, and give a distinct advantage to the larger incumbent players.   I still vehemently oppose all that garbage, but I do so as a defender of capitalism and against what are probably the best interests of my company.

So when large companies like GE say that they are now on the global warming bandwagon and support government intervention in CO2 emissions and such, it is not an indicator that CO2 science is any good; it just means GE has decided that likely CO2 legislation will help its bottom line.  While GE is portrayed as someone who will get hurt by CO2 regulation but is reluctantly coming around to the science anyway, what it in fact really means is that GE has decided that global warming regulation can be shaped to its advantage, particularly if it can use its size and political muscle molding the details of that regulation.  Here is a great example, via Tom Nelson (the Instapundit of global warming skepticism)

But there is sure to be strong opposition to the bill, including from General Electric Co.

The
light bulb maker is developing a new generation of efficient
incandescent bulbs, said Kim Freeman, a GE spokeswoman in Louisville,
Ky.

By 2012, she said, GE will have an incandescent bulb that uses as little energy as the compact fluorescent bulbs sold today.

"We
would oppose any legislation that would ban a particular technology,"
she said. "Giving consumers more choices is the appropriate approach."

The
company supports the standards passed by Congress in December,
according to Freeman. That law requires bulbs to be 25 percent to 30
percent more efficient starting in 2012.

Read between the lines, and you see GE attempting to steer global warming legislation to its advantage.   The last paragraph goes a long way to explaining GE's support of the last energy bill (with substantial light bulb legislation), which GE might have been expected to oppose.  Because now we see that GE has a product sitting on the shelf ready for release that fits perfectly with the new mandate.  Assuming competitors don't have such a technology yet, the energy bill is then NOT a regulation of GE's product that they reluctantly bow to, but a mandate that allows GE to keep doing business but trashes their competition.  It is a market share acquisition law for GE.  On the other hand, GE says a total ban would be bad, because it would force CF bulbs to the forefront, where GE trails its competitors.  This is the cynical calculus of rent-seeking through regulation.  And it is all worthless, because high efficiency bulbs are one of the things that so clearly pay for themselves that consumers will make the switch for themselves without government mandates.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You -- The Environmentalist Case for Fascism

Our (mostly free) society has survived many challenges.  But will it be able to withstand gentlemen like this waving around immensely flawed climate science:

Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most
extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of
the collective needs of the citizens. The subject is almost sacrosanct
and those who indulge in criticism are labeled as Marxists, socialists,
fundamentalists and worse. These labels are used because alternatives
to democracy cannot be perceived! Support for Western democracy is
messianic as proselytised by a President leading a flawed democracy

There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy.
Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly
regardless of some perceived liberties. ...

We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions
based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse
emissions. It is not that we do not tolerate such decisions in the very
heart of our society, in wide range of enterprises from corporate
empires to emergency and intensive care units. If we do not act
urgently we may find we have chosen total liberty rather than life.

He has great admiration for how China does things

The [plastic shopping bag] ban in China will save importation and use of five million tons of
oil used in plastic bag manufacture, only a drop in the ocean of the
world oil well. But the importance in the decision lies in the fact
that China can do it by edict and close the factories. They don't have
to worry about loss of political donations or temporarily unemployed
workers. They have made a judgment that their action favours the needs
of Chinese society as a whole.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

By the way, here is a little "tip."  The author says this:

Unfortunately it seems increasingly likely that the IPCC underestimated
the speed of climate change and failed to recognise the likely effect
of a range of tipping points which may now be acting in concert.

I believe that man is having a warming effect on the earth, but that effect is small and non-catastrophic.  There are reasons I may be wrong.  BUT, you should immediately laugh out of the room anyone who talk about "a range of tipping points" in a system like the earth's climate that has been reasonably stable for tens of millions of years.  When used by climate catastrophists, the word "tipping point" means:  Yeah, we are kind of upset the world is not warming nearly as fast as our computer models say it should, so we will build an inflection point about 10 years out into the forecast where the slope of change really ramps up and we will call it a "tipping point" because, um, that is kindof a cool hip phrase right now and make us sound sophisticated and stuff.

Postscript:  Anyone who makes this statement is WELL grounded in reality:

All this suggests that the savvy Chinese rulers may be first out of the blocks to assuage greenhouse emissions

LOLOLOL.  They are building a new coal plant, what, every three days or so in China?

Postscript #2: Quiz for older folks out there:  How long ago was it that environmentalists were encouraging us to use plastic bags over paper because it saved a tree?

HT:  Tom Nelson

Congress: We Can't Stop Ourselves From Doing Harm

From the Washington Post, via Tom Nelson, comes a nice summary of the consequences of Congress's addiction to ethanol mandates and subsidies.  The last sentence in particular is one I have warned about for a while on this issue.

To be sure, some farmers in these countries benefit from higher prices.
But many poor countries -- including most in sub-Saharan Africa -- are
net grain importers, says the International Food Policy Research
Institute, a Washington-based think tank. In some of these countries, the poorest of the poor spend 70 percent or more of their budgets on food.
About a third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is
undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations. That proportion has barely changed since the early
1990s. High food prices make gains harder.
...
It's
the extra demand for grains to make biofuels, spurred heavily in the
United States by government tax subsidies and fuel mandates, that has
pushed prices dramatically higher
. The Economist rightly calls
these U.S. government subsidies "reckless." Since 2000, the share of
the U.S. corn crop devoted to ethanol production has increased from
about 6 percent to about 25 percent -- and is still headed up.
...
This
is not a case of unintended consequences. A new generation of
"cellulosic" fuels (made from grasses, crop residue or wood chips)
might deliver benefits, but the adverse effects of corn-based ethanol
were widely anticipated. Government subsidies reflect the careless and
cynical manipulation of worthy public goals for selfish ends. That the
new farm bill may expand the ethanol mandates confirms an old lesson:
Having embraced a giveaway, politicians cannot stop it, no matter how
dubious.

Let Us Not Forget This

It is good to know that Al Gore is proud of supporting, even "saving," corn-based ethanol (from a pro-ethanol site):

Vice-President Al Gore
Third Annual Farm Journal Conference, December 1, 1998
http://clinton3.nara.gov/WH/EOP/OVP/speeches/farmj.html

"I
was also proud to stand up for the ethanol tax exemption when it was
under attack in the Congress -- at one point, supplying a tie-breaking
vote in the Senate to save it. The more we can make this home-grown
fuel a successful, widely-used product, the better-off our farmers and
our environment will be."

It is good to know that when the economic and environmental toll from our disastrous subsidization of corn ethanol is finally tallied, we will know where to send the bill.

HT: Tom Nelson

Update: More Here on Ethanol Craziness

New Unified Field Theory

Albert Einstein's dream is now a reality.  We have a new unified field theory:  Global Warming causes everything bad.   Via Tom Nelson and American Thinker, comes this list by Dr. John Brignell of links to articles in the media attributing various bad things to Global Warming.  Currently, his list has over 600 items!  Some excerpts:

Agricultural
land increase
, Africa
devastated,
  African
aid threatened
, Africa
hit hardest,
air
pressure changes
, Alaska
reshaped
, allergies
increase
, Alps
melting
, Amazon
a desert
, American
dream end
amphibians
breeding earlier (or not)
ancient
forests dramatically changed
, animals
head for the hills,
Antarctic
grass flourishes
, anxiety,
algal
blooms
, archaeological
sites threatened,
Arctic
bogs melt
, Arctic
in bloom
, Arctic
lakes disappear
, asthma,
Atlantic
less salty
, Atlantic
more salty
...


itchier poison ivy
, jellyfish
explosion
, Kew
Gardens taxed
, kitten boom,
krill
decline
, lake
and stream productivity decline
, lake
shrinking and growing
, landslides, landslides
of ice at 140 mph
, lawsuits
increase
, lawsuit successful,
lawyers'
income increased (surprise surprise!)
, lightning
related insurance claims
, little
response in the atmosphere
, lush
growth in rain forests
, Lyme
disease
Malaria,
malnutrition,  mammoth
dung melt
, Maple syrup
shortage
...

wheat
yields crushed in Australia
, white
Christmas dream ends
, wildfires, wind
shift
, wind
reduced,

wine - harm
to Australian industry
, wine
industry damage (California)
,
wine industry disaster (US)
,
wine - more
English
, wine
-German boon
, wine
- no
more French
winters
in Britain colder
, wolves
eat more moose
, wolves
eat less,
workers laid
off
, World
bankruptcy
, World
in crisis
, World
in flames
, Yellow
fever
.

All I can say is:

Dont_panic_earth_300w

Burning the World's Food in Our Cars

It is good that doom mongers like Paul Ehrlich have been so thoroughly discredited.  But could anyone have imagined that not only are we not facing "Population Bomb" style famines, but we are in fact spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money to promote burning food in cars?

I am not sure how anyone thought this was a good idea, since

  1. Every scientific study in the world not conducted by an institution in Iowa have shown that corn-based ethanol uses more energy than it produces, does not reduce CO2, and creates new environmental problems in terms of land and water use.
  2. Sixty seconds of math would have shown that even diverting ALL of US corn production to ethanol would only replace a fraction of our transportation fuel use.

Apparently, Nebraska has reached a milestone of sorts: (HT Tom Nelson)

With three new plants
added in November, annual corn demand for ethanol production in
Nebraska passed the 500-million-bushel mark for the first time, using
37% of Nebraska's corn.

How much fuel has this produced?

"Today, that ambitious
directive has become a reality." Sneller says "At current rates,
Nebraska plants will use 514 million bushels of corn annually to
produce 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol. By the end of 2008, Nebraska
plants will process 860 million bushels into 2.3 billion gallons of
ethanol. Distillers grain, a co-product of ethanol production, is
widely accepted and marketed as a superior livestock feed."

This is enough ethanol to replace about a billion gallons of gasoline (since ethanol has less energy content than gasoline).  This represents about  0.7% of US gasoline usage.  The cost?  Well, I don't know how many billions of subsidy dollars have flowed to Nebraska, but there is also this:

Corn prices have
remained virtually unchanged since World War II. Increased demand from
ethanol production has raised average corn prices by 70% and is driving
an economic resurgence in rural Nebraska, according to Todd Sneller,
administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

So we have spent billions of taxpayer dollars, have diverted about 40% of Nebraska's corn output, and we've raised prices on corn 70% all to replace less than a percent of US gasoline usage.  If we could really do the fuel balance on the whole system, we would likely find that total fossil fuel usage actually went up rather than down through these actions.

Never have I seen an issue where so many thoughtful people on both sides of the political aisle united in agreement that a program makes no sense since... well, since farm subsidies.  Which, illustratively, have not gone away despite 80 years of trying.  As I wrote here:

Companies are currently building massive subsidy-magnets
biofuel plants.  Once these investments are in place, there is going to
be a huge entrenched base of investors and workers who are going to
wield every bit of political power they can to retain subsidies forever
to protect their jobs and their investment.  Biofuel subsidies will be
as intractable as peanut and sugar subsidies and protections.