Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Religion of Economic Suicide

The greens/democrats frequently trot out the argument that even if we began drilling for energy in the areas that they have placed off limits for decades, it will be up to a decade before any such new sources will be available to relieve our current pain resulting from skyrocketing fuel prices. This argument is specious in light of the 2 year lapse in time between the the development of the north Alaska oil fields and the completion of the trans Alaska pipe line. They refuse on the other hand, to advise us of any specific date when their sources of as yet undiscovered "clean alternatives" will be available to relieve that pain. We are supposed to rely on their pie in the sky "alternative sources" while rejecting proven sources and technologies? Present energy sources from so called fossil fuels may be finite and exhaustible which over the long run will cause their costs to rise, but to artificially limit their exploitation by political fiat which has resulted in the present situation is insane.

The contradiction behind the green lifestyle [religion] fad is the idea that we can reject industrial civilization -- and the fuel that powers it -- while still enjoying a modern, prosperous, "First World" standard of living.

The more shallow followers of the green [religion] get around this contradiction through "greenwashing": finding a superficial "green" angle to rationalize buying expensive goods and living pretty much the same opulent lifestyle they enjoyed before. My favorite example is a magazine article on "green" houses that advocated buying more expensive, nicer-looking "architectural grade" asphalt roof shingles, because they won't have to be replaced as often and will therefore -- if you can follow this chain of reasoning -- use less resources over the long run. Maybe so, maybe not. But it gives well-off, upper-middle-class types an excuse not to feel guilty about telling the roofer to go with the upgrade.

Among more serious devotees, the green contradiction takes the form of endless, arbitrary debates about which lifestyle choices are really more-green-than-thou. They debate over whether to ask for paper or plastic bags at the grocery store, or whether to buy milk in glass jugs or cardboard cartons, and a whole host of other eco-theological conundrums that turn out to be more convoluted and harder to resolve than the [religious] debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

What both groups are trying to evade is that truly consistent environmentalism demands the sacrifice of all prosperity. The only genuine way to slash your "carbon footprint" is to stop consuming goods. The "lifestyle" it really demands is not about hemp bracelets, bamboo textile skirts, and reusable burlap grocery sacks-the entire Whole Foods scene. It's really about abject, Third World poverty.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Savonarola Is At NASA Now

Cross posted from Climate sceptic via Coyote Blog:

In 1497, Girolamo Savonarola tried to end the Italian Renaissance in a massive pyre of books and artwork (the Bonfire of the Vanities). The Renaissance was about inquiry and optimism, neither of which had much appeal to Savonarola, who thought he had all the answers he needed in his apocalyptic vision of man. For him, how the world worked, and particularly the coming apocalypse, was "settled science" and any questioning of his world view was not only superfluous, it was evil.

Fortunately, while the enlightenment was perhaps delayed (as much by the French King and the Holy Roman Emperor as by Savonarola), in mans questing nature was not to be denied.

But now, the spirit of Savonarola has returned, in the guise of James Hansen, a man who incredibly calls himself a scientist. Mr. Hansen has decided that he is the secular Savonarola, complete with apocalyptic predictions and a righteousness that allows no dissent:

“James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, today June 23, 2008 called for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen used the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he accused the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.”

It will be interesting to see if any champions of free speech on the left can work up the energy to criticize Hansen here. What we have is a government official threatening prosecution and jail time for Americans who exercise their free speech rights. GWB, rightly, would never get a pass on this. Why does Hansen?
[Does he believe that the US now treats speech which diverges from government orthodoxy in the same fashion as does the European Union presently or as National Socialist Germany in 1942? One wonders.]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Political Theatre

With the recent runup in the cost of energy, the politicians are scrambling about attempting to assure that they are seen as blameless for the negative consequences for their actions. While placing about 90% of the sources of energy off limits for development through legislative and regulatory fiat, the pols in the U.S. Congress haul privately owned energy firms' executives before their inquisitions for the sheer purpose of badgering them for attempting to provide a product that virtually everyone needs and is willing to purchase. The inference from this sorry display of political theatre is that profit is an evil motivational force for economic endeavour.

If profit is to be disparaged as these public "servants" aver; what, pray tell is their own motivation? Most all evidence tends to convince anyone who is sentient that the force driving most seekers of office and indeed a substantial portion of the regulatory bureaucracy is the exercise of power and the enjoyment of its concomitant perquisites.

The energy company executives underwent their grilling on 21 May in the Senate and the House of Representatives the next day. In what other venue would a semiliterate and ignorant member of congress such as Maxine Waters D (can we call them socialists yet?) south central Los Angeles, California be able to address a fellow citizen in terms lacking even a modicum of courtesy?

An excellent account of the Senate testimony is posted at Powerline by John Hindraker:

"Every once in a while, Congressional hearings turn out to be informative."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Politics or Justice?

Leonidas is confused. The confusion in this instance is the result of attempting to understand the "logic" of court decisions here in the wonderful U.S. of A. It all began many years ago in a court room in the South Bay judicial district of Los Angeles County.

As a young starry eyed deputy sheriff recently matriculated from a government university with a paper proclaiming to all interested parties (the Sheriff's Department was less than suitably impressed) that he had passed the required courses to be legally designated a "bachelor of arts" in political science and history, he was seated in the court room of one judge whom we shall name Smith. Leonidas' presence was the result of a subpoena to testify in the case of one John Doe to whom he had issued a traffic citation for proceeding through an intersection against a red traffic light.

The traffic court room was crowded with miscreants, officers of the law and a smattering of porch climbers attorneys. Apparently the Doe case was near the end of the calendar to be called so Leonidas settled down to be entertained by the unfolding human comedy. After the judge had disposed of several cases Leonidas was nudged by a colleague who whispered: "Do you see what's going on here?"

Sure enough, every other case resulted in a not guilty verdict. The testimony of the witnesses both police and defendant did not seem to be relevant. Often the defendants were tripped up in obvious lies by the prosecutor but this was apparently not germane to the verdict. Leonidas was at first incredulous, but having just completed a graveyard shift on the streets of the south central district of the Lennox Sheriff's station decided to extrapolate the anticipated decision of the judge in his case on the basis of this newly garnered logic. As luck logic would have it, by projecting the guilty/not guilty decisions down the calendar the Doe case would be decided as "guilty". Drat! It would make no sense for Leonidas to leave the court to retire to bed and have the judge simply dismiss the case. In the interest of "justice" he had to remain and participate in the charade.

Leonidas subsequently learned that Judge Smith had been appointed to the bench by Jerry Brown, California's then governor and now Attorney General.

Fast forward to a June 2008 Supreme Court decision. For the sake of analogy and a view of history let us examine the hypothetical case of Hans Backer. Hans is the highly trained skipper of a German U Boat in December 1941. He has the misfortune to have his boat sunk by depth charges from a British corvette in the north Atlantic. He and several crew members escape the doomed craft and are rescued/captured by the corvette's personnel. Due to overcrowding and security issues the brits turn Hans and his colleagues over to the Yanks who intern them in a POW camp in Alabama. In late 1942 Hans files a writ of habeas corpus with the US District court in Birmingham. The judge refuses to issue the writ and Hans appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court. Five of the 9 justices agree that as no "charges" have been brought against Hans and he was an enemy combatant captured on the battlefield by an ally, the US authorities must release him.

At this point there are two options: either return Hans to the Brits (who refuse to accept him) or release and repatriate him to Germany. For the sake of this hypothetical scenario let us assume that Hans is repatriated via neutral Spain to Germany where he is hailed as a hero and granted command of a newer and improved U boat which sinks an American troop ship carrying troops to England to be landed at Normandie.

These are the implications in the 5-4 decision in the Boumediene v. Bush decision. In a judicial/political coup to seize power from the legislative and executive branches, the 5 justices have rejected the concept that combatants captured during hostilities are to be held until the conflict ends to prevent them from reengaging in war against us. Wouldn't it be convenient if such a concept were accepted by our friends the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah et al?

A third alternative has been omitted here with regard to the Supreme Court's decision. In 1832 President Andrew Jackson objected to the Marshall Supreme Court decision in Worcester v. Georgia and refused to execute it saying: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!". Imagine that.

cross posted at: Eternity Road

Friday, June 20, 2008

We Bake Therefore We Shake

We now have incontrovertible evidence for the validity of Mr Barnum's aphorism about suckers being produced on a minute by minute basis as the mainstream media appear to have been greatly infiltrated and successfully proselytized by warmista religion adherents. On June 18, CBS NEWS posted an article which it attributed to the Associated Press alleging that a "scientific study" has discovered that global warming has caused a sharp increase in the frequency and intensity of earthquakes since 1990. The story contained no byline for attribution. There is no link to the story as it has quietly been removed by CBS with no retraction after it was pointed out by real scientists to be a work of junk science by one Thomas Chalko. A screen shot of the "news" item can be viewed here (scroll up for the screen shot)

The real scientists pointed out that the global warming data attributed by Dr. Chalko to NASA orbiting instruments were in fact the product of computer models generated by the NASA (as in government employed) scientist Dr. James Hansen, the high priest extrodonaire of the warmista religion.

Dr. Chalko believes that events on Earth are influenced by beings from the planet Thaiaoouba who visit us regularly in order to abduct a single person to be taught their wisdom. Dr Chalko's web site may be visited here. and more data on the Thiaoouba Prophecy are here.

You can't make this stuff up.

ht: Marc Sheppard

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Good Laugh

Anecdotes illustrating and mocking the illogic and amusing aspects of collectivist i.e "progressive" societies actions are legion and sometimes amusing in a tragicomic sense. Long time readers of this blog may recall the true incident which occurred during your humble scribblers visit to the workers paradise of the Caribbean (Cuba) aboard his sailboat home of 23 years.

A shop at the marina near Havana selling items such as imported beer and canned goods to foreigners for hard currency had some lettuce which they refused to sell us saying that the scale to weigh it was broken. I estimated that the weight was 1 kilo and offered to buy it for the price of 2 kilos and this was refused. We returned on each of the next 2 days to buy the lettuce which was beginning to wilt. On the 3rd day with the scale still not repaired I asked to negotiate with the manager. Two phone calls were made to Havana and the merchant finally got permission to sell the head of lettuce for the 2 kilo price.

The humor engendered by the illogic and frustrating aspects of collectivist societies is also revealed in a recent book entitled: Hammer & Tickle: A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes by Ben Lewis reviewed recently in the British newspaper The Telegraph

No better example of the experiment in "progressive" government exists than in the late great USSR:
A story goes of a man who proceeds to buy a car in Moscow, pays for it, and is told by the salesman that he can collect it on a particular date in 10 years' time. The buyer thinks for a moment and then asks: 'Morning or afternoon?' The salesman, astonished by the question, asks: 'What difference does it make?' And the buyer answers: 'Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.'

Also there is the story of the sheep who try to leave an [East bloc] country, explaining to the border guards that they want to get out because the political police have received orders to arrest all elephants. 'But you're not elephants.'
The lead sheep replies:'Try telling that to the political police."

Another widely circulated anecdote concerns the question: Is it true that half the Central Committee [congress?] are idiots?' To which the progressive commissar replies: 'No, that's rubbish. Half the Central Committee [congress] are not idiots'.

A joke reminiscent of Kruschev's assurance that collectivism would "bury" the West avers: "Capitalism stands on the brink of the abyss. It will soon be overtaken by communism".

The following statement from Mr. Lewis' work congers up the current "Inconvenient Truth" of the warmista scam occupying center stage these days: "Is it true that Marxism-Leninism [human caused global warming] is scientific?' 'No, surely not. If it were, it would have been tested on animals first.'

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Enviro Time Warp

The top graphic is of the Belmont oil field circa 1921 (click on image to enlarge). The wooden derricks date the photo as having been taken prior to 1925 when the addition of "runarounds" and crown "A" frames were included on wells drilled by the rotary method as opposed to the cable tool methods of the 19th and early 20th century. The field was approximately 4 miles west of the Los Angeles civic center. The enviros would have us believe that modern oil production results in scenes like this. The Belmont area has recovered sufficiently to be the battleground of two of the most violent latino street gangs in Los Angeles county.

The lower photo shows a recently completed energy well head in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The fencing is to prevent the local ruminants from damaging the sensative instrumentation and according to the enviro religion would inflict irreparable harm to the caribou (reindeer) population of the north slope of Alaska which has doubled since the development of the Prudhoe oil field in the 1970's.

The photo of the Belmont field evokes a certain nostalgia on the part of your humble scribbler as it much resembles the oil fields 20 miles to the south in Signal Hill and Long Beach which he grew up and worked in during a bygone era P.E. (pre environazi)
cross posted at: Eternity Road

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rocket Science?

The International Energy Agency estimates that worldwide [petroleum] production from older existing fields is now falling each year by about 4.5 million barrels a day. To stay even, let alone to meet rising demand from the new automobile drivers of Russia, [India] China and other countries, the world has to increase annual production by 4.5 million barrels a day.

While all this is happening Democrats in government and environmentalists are standing in the way of the United States' ability to increase the supply of oil. Left-leaning politicians and, unfortunately too many Republicans, are more concerned with erroneous beliefs in man-made global warming to focus on the real needs of our country. As we switch light bulbs, create a huge additional bureaucracy for cap-and-trade "carbon credits, and make inferior additions to dilute the gasoline fuel, our economy will undergo an enormous destructive effect and our way of life will be irreversibly altered for the worse.

The United States is blessed with an almost limitless capability to produce oil but we are prevented from recovering and producing it. Proven technology can be harnessed to extract oil from abundant coal reserves and large amounts of oil in place remain untapped. Americans have proven to be able to rise to national emergencies and overcome all obstacles by unleashing a market economy on any problem but American success is artificially thwarted by socialists masquerading as environmentalists.

The only thing that can be done is for Americans to waken to the threats we face and take all possible action to change the direction our leaders are taking us; God help us all if we don’t.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Congress Must ACT"???

Last Monday, June 2nd, Senator Harry Reid (D Nevada) assured us: "It's clear that "global warming is real" and Congress must act." Wow! Senator Reid has always appeared to this writer to be a profound thinker with astonishing intellectual and logic gifts, (irony alert) but the preceding statement is so profound as to boggle the mind. What next may we expect; "Tectonic movement and continental drift are real and Congress must act."? While such a discussion may appear hyperbolic, if collectivist politicians perceived an opportunity to devise a tax or regulation which would benefit themselves, a governmental bureaucracy or a deep pocketed constituency, appropriate legislation would begin wending its way through the ozlike congressional labyrinth.

In a previous post I alluded to the "pork barrel" nature of the subject of the present debate on S 2191 a legislative "cap and trade" mandate to affect a regression of the US economy to pre industrial levels by the year 2050. In determining the motives behind such a proposal, the most important question to ask is: "qui bono" ( who benefits?). Consider the implication of the following report from Reuters:
"Generation Investment Management, an investor in green firms chaired by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has bought a 9.6 percent stake in UK-listed Camco International Ltd, Camco said on Wednesday.

The stake is worth around 6.4 million pounds ($12.59 million) at Camco's current price of 40 pence a share.

While Gore, a politician turned environmental activist chairs Generation Investment, David Blood, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, is managing partner of the firm, which was founded four years ago."

Generation Investment Management is a cap and trade brokerage firm that Mr. Gore uses to "offset" the huge "carbon footprint" generated by his personal lifestyle and globetrotting activities to hype the catastrophic environmental consequences of man made global warming (e.g. the recently revealed warmista religion). Mr Gore has consistently refused to debate the validity of the tenets of his new religion with credited scientists such as Lord Moncton and a 15 year old honor student who question the computer generated dogmas of the warmista doctrine. To quote one wag on the efficacy of computer modeling for future climate change: "garbage in, dogma out". Gore simply states: "There is no need to debate. The science is settled". This reminds us of the "settled science" of the geocentric universe insisted on by religious and political leaders in the 14th century.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bend Over When you Hear the Oink

Today the US Senate will begin debate on S.2191: "A bill to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes (read the bill to learn the "other" purposes)." This is in fact a new record with regard to so called "pork barrel" spending in the legislative history of such outrages and is tacitly approved by the presidential nominee designate of the Republican Party.

For anyone who is interested, "greenhouse gases" include: H2O (water) which covers more than 70% of the globe and the lower atmosphere, CO2 (carbon dioxide), a necessary ingredient in plant photosynthesis which is the nutritional basis for all life forms on the planet and CH4 (methane) which is produced by the biodegradation of all nutrients.

Both the impact on global temperature of greenhouse gases as well as the extent of their anthropogenic sources is hotly debated by scientists of various persuasions but has been seized upon by politicians in order to advance their own agendas of increasing governmental power. In the United Kingdom a proposal has been put forward in Parliament to issue each citizen a "carbon ration card" which would allow each individual a stated amount of CO2 production and would be required to be presented at the purchase of any fossil fuel product, airline ticket or pay an energy utility bill. Given the chances of the Democratic Party soon achieving control of both the executive and legislative branches of the US government can such an outrage be excluded from being foisted upon our own population? How far down this green mile (pun alert) can we expect the requirement of an "exhale permit" for each individual? After all, the quantity of CO2 in the exhaled breath of living organisms is not inconsiderable.

Update: 13:49 Hrs.:
Law professor wants to use courts to fight global warming

EUGENE — University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood is tired of waiting for government officials to take action on global warming. So she’s devised a new legal tool to hurry them up.

Drawing on her background in both natural resources and property law, Wood has developed a theory that claims the atmosphere is an asset that belongs to all but is held in trust by the government. The government has a legal obligation to protect that trust from harm, she argues, just as financial managers have a legal obligation to protect the monetary assets in their care.

“The main problem with climate is that no government is taking responsibility for it and our government is sitting idle [but not for long] while this catastrophe is unfolding,” Wood said

Gentle reader, if you believed I was engaging in hyperbole regarding an "exhale permit", read more