Sunday, February 28, 2010

When Responsibility Doesn’t Pay


Mark Steyn


When Responsibility Doesn’t Pay

Welfare always breeds contempt.


While Barack Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand-new, even-more-unsustainable entitlement at the health-care “summit,” thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split-screen — because they’re part of the same story. It’s just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They’re at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is farther upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter Twenty (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter Seventeen or Eighteen.

What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1 — or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: Ten grandparents have six kids have four grandkids — ie, the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 “lowest-low” fertility — the point from which no society has ever recovered. And, compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?

By the way, you don’t have to go to Greece to experience Greek-style retirement: The Athenian “public service” of California has been metaphorically face down in the ouzo for a generation. Still, America as a whole is not yet Greece. A couple of years ago, when I wrote my book America Alone, I put the then
Social Security debate in a bit of perspective: On 2005 figures, projected public-pensions liabilities were expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of GDP. In Greece, the figure was 25 percent: in other words, head for the hills, Armageddon outta here, The End. Since then, the situation has worsened in both countries. And really the comparison is academic: Whereas America still has a choice, Greece isn’t going to have a 2040 — not without a massive shot of Reality Juice.

Is that likely to happen? At such moments, I like to modify Gerald Ford. When seeking to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, President Ford liked to say: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Which is true enough. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public-sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work: For many of them, the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the Greek protests make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the socially equitable communitarianism of big government: Once a chap’s enjoying the fruits of government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement, and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest; he’s got his, and to hell with everyone else. People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense.

The perfect spokesman for the entitlement mentality is the deputy prime minister of Greece. The European Union has concluded that the Greek government’s austerity measures are insufficient and, as a condition of bailout, has demanded something more robust. Greece is no longer a sovereign state: It’s General Motors, and the EU is Washington, and the Greek electorate is happy to play the part of the UAW — everything’s on the table except anything that would actually make a difference. In practice, because Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland are also on the brink of the abyss, a “European” bailout will be paid for by Germany. So the aforementioned Greek deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos, has denounced the conditions of the EU deal on the grounds that the Germans stole all the bullion from the Bank of Greece during the Second World War. Welfare always breeds contempt, in nations as much as inner-city housing projects: How dare you tell us how to live! Just give us your money and push off.

Unfortunately, Germany is no longer an economic powerhouse. As Angela Merkel pointed out a year ago, for Germany, an Obama-sized stimulus was out of the question simply because its foreign creditors know there are not enough young Germans around ever to repay it. Over 30 percent of German women are childless; among German university graduates, it’s over 40 percent. And for the ever-dwindling band of young Germans who make it out of the maternity ward, there’s precious little reason to stick around. Why be the last handsome blond lederhosen-clad Aryan lad working the late shift at the beer garden in order to prop up singlehandedly entire retirement homes? And that’s before the EU decides to add the Greeks to your burdens. Germans, who retire at 67, are now expected to sustain the unsustainable 14 monthly payments per year of Greeks who retire at 58.

Think of Greece as California: Every year an irresponsible and corrupt bureaucracy awards itself higher pay and better benefits paid for by an ever-shrinking wealth-generating class. And think of Germany as one of the less profligate, still-just-about-functioning corners of America such as my own state of New Hampshire: Responsibility doesn’t pay. You’ll wind up bailing out anyway. The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they’ve run out Greeks, so they’ll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick their defense tab to the Americans. And in America, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2010 Mark Steyn

Friday, February 26, 2010

A new paper comparing NCDC rural and urban US surface temperature data


26 02 2010

There’s a new paper out by Dr. Edward Long that does some interesting comparisons to NCDC’s raw data (prior to adjustments) that compares rural and urban station data, both raw and adjusted in the CONUS.

The paper is titled Contiguous U.S. Temperature Trends Using NCDC Raw and Adjusted Data for One-Per-State Rural and Urban Station Sets. In it,  Dr. Edward Long states:

“The problem would seem to be the methodologies engendered in treatment for a mix of urban and rural locations; that the ‘adjustment’ protocol appears to accent to a warming effect rather than eliminate it.  This, if correct, leaves serious doubt for whether the rate of increase in temperature found from the adjusted data is due to natural warming trends or warming because of another reason, such as erroneous consideration of the effects of urban warming.”

Here is the comparison of raw rural and urban data:

And here is the comparison of adjusted rural and urban data:

Note that even adjusted urban data has as much as a 0.2 offset from adjusted rural data.

Dr. Long suggests that NCDC’s adjustments eradicated the difference between rural and urban environments, thus hiding urban heating.  The consequence:

“…is a five-fold increase in the rural temperature rate of increase and a slight decrease in the rate of increase of the urban temperature.”

The analysis concludes that NCDC “…has taken liberty to alter the actual rural measured values”.

Thus the adjusted rural values are a systematic increase from the raw values, more and more back into time and a decrease for the more current years.  At the same time the urban temperatures were little, or not, adjusted from their raw values.  The results is an implication of warming that has not occurred in nature, but indeed has occurred in urban surroundings as people gathered more into cities and cities grew in size and became more industrial in nature.  So, in recognizing this aspect, one has to say there has been warming due to man, but it is an urban warming.  The temperatures due to nature itself, at least within the Contiguous U. S., have increased at a non-significant rate and do not appear to have any correspondence to the presence or lack of presence of carbon dioxide.

The paper’s summary reads:

Both raw and adjusted data from the NCDC has been examined for a selected Contiguous U. S. set of rural and urban stations, 48 each or one per State. The raw data provides 0.13 and 0.79 oC/century temperature increase for the rural and urban environments. The adjusted data provides 0.64 and 0.77 oC/century respectively. The rates for the raw data appear to correspond to the historical change of rural and urban U. S. populations and indicate warming is due to urban warming. Comparison of the adjusted data for the rural set to that of the raw data shows a systematic treatment that causes the rural adjusted set’s temperature rate of increase to be 5-fold more than that of the raw data. The adjusted urban data set’s and raw urban data set’s rates of temperature increase are the same. This suggests the consequence of the NCDC’s protocol for adjusting the data is to cause historical data to take on the time-line characteristics of urban data. The consequence intended or not, is to report a false rate of temperature increase for the Contiguous U. S.

The full paper may be found here: Contiguous U.S. Temperature Trends Using NCDC Raw and Adjusted Data for One-Per-State Rural and Urban Station Sets (PDF) and is freely available for viewing and distribution.

Dr. Long also recently wrote a column for The American Thinker titled: A Pending American Temperaturegate

As he points out in that column, Joe D’Aleo and I raised similar concerns inSurface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception? (PDF)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory

February 25, 2010  By Alan Siddons


Insulated by an outer crust, the surface of the earth acquires nearly all of its heat from the sun. The only exit for this heat to take is through a door marked "Radiation." And therein lies a tale...

Recently, I chanced upon an Atmospheric Science Educator Guide [PDF] published by NASA. Aimed at students in grades 5 through 8, it helps teachers explain how so-called "greenhouse gases" warm our planet Earth.

These guides are interesting on a number of levels, so I recommend you look them over. But what caught my eye was this:

  • Question: Do all of the gases in our atmosphere absorb heat?
  • Answer: (Allow students to discuss their ideas. Don't provide the answer at this time.)

Indeed, that's a good one to think over, yourself. Almost all of what we're breathing is nitrogen and oxygen -- do these gases absorb heat? Lakes and rocks absorb heat, after all, and thereby reach a higher temperature. So can nitrogen and oxygen molecules do the same?

Well, I won't keep you hanging. After allowing students to discuss it, the instructor is instructed to give them the final verdict.

  • Answer: No. Only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat.

These are the infrared-absorbing "greenhouse gases," of course, substances like carbon dioxide and water vapor, not nitrogen and oxygen.

Now, is something wrong here? Most definitely, for NASA has a finger on the scale. Let's review a few basics that NASA should have outlined.

Heat consists of vibrating and colliding molecules. The motion of these molecules jostles their electrons around, and this emits light. Heat and light are thus strongly related, but aren't the same. For instance, heat can't actually be radiated, only the light that heat brings about. By the same token, light itself has no temperature because temperature is an index of molecular motion, and a beam of light isn't composed of molecules. In short, "heat" can be regarded as molecular excitement and light as electromagnetic excitement.

Observe how NASA describes this relationship, however.

  • Question: What is the relationship between light and heat?
  • Answer: Things that are hot sometimes give off light. Things under a light source sometimes heat up.

Utterly false. Heated masses always emit light (infrared). Always. That's a direct consequence of molecules in motion. And while it's true that some substances may be transparent to infrared light, it doesn't follow that they can't be heated or, if heated, might not emit infrared. Yet NASA's misleading formulation implies precisely that.

There are three ways for heat (better to say thermal energy) to move from one zone to another: by conduction, convection, and radiation. Conductive heat transfer involves direct contact, wherein vibrations spread from molecule to molecule. Convective transfer involves a mass in motion: expanded by heat, a fluid is pushed up and away by the denser fluid that surrounds it. Radiative transfer arises when molecules intercept the light that warmer molecules are emitting, which brings about a resonant molecular vibration, i.e., heating.

Heat is transferred and absorbed in several ways, then, and no substance is immune from being heated, which means that all gases absorb heat -- contrary to what NASA tells children.

So how does NASA go wrong? By consistently confusing light and heat, as you see in the illustration below, where infrared light is depicted as heat. Elsewhere, NASA expresses heat transfer in terms that pertain to radiant transfer alone:

The Earth first absorbs the visible radiation from the Sun, which is then converted to heat, and this heat radiates out to the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gases then absorb some of the heat.

Nowhere in its teacher's guide are conductive and convective heat transfer even mentioned. By selective context and vagueness, then, NASA paints an impression that only light-absorbing substances can be heated. Thus, since nitrogen and oxygen don't respond to infrared, NASA feels justified to say that "only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat."


But a mix-up like this raises a deeper question: why does NASA go wrong? Because it has a flimsy yet lucrative theory to foist on the tax-paying public, that's why. As the space agency explains in the Main Lesson Concept, the core idea of greenhouse theory is that downward radiation from greenhouse gases raises the earth's surface temperature higher than solar heating can accomplish.

To make this idea seem plausible, therefore, it's crucial to fix people's attention on the 1% of the atmosphere that can be heated by radiant transfer instead of the 99% and more that is heated by direct contact with the earth's surface and then by convection. NASA is stacking the cards, you see. If they made it clear that every species of atmospheric gas gets heated mainly by conductive transfer, and that all heated bodies radiate light, then even a child could connect the dots: "Oh. So the whole atmosphere radiates heat to the earth and makes it warmer. All of the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas."

Crash, boom, there goes the theory. And there goes the abundant funding that this fear-promoting "science" attracts so well. For what CO2 and water vapor emit is miniscule compared to the buzzing multitude of heated nitrogen, oxygen, and even argon, all of it radiating infrared too. Keep in mind that thermal radiation from this forgotten 99% has never been proposed or imagined to increase the earth's temperature, although by the theory's very tenets it should. You simply take the NASA formulation:

Greenhouse gases absorb heat that radiates from Earth's surface and release some of it back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature

And make allowance for conductive transfer too...

All gases in the atmosphere absorb heat from the Earth's surface and radiate infrared back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature.

Consider too that since most air molecules are infrared-transparent, they can't be heated by the infrared that CO2 and water vapor emit. This means that downward radiation from "greenhouse gases" can only explain how the earth's surface might get warmer, not the rest of the atmosphere. Which underscores, of course, how much the surface is heating this 99% by conduction and convection alone, since radiative transfer can't do the job.

To repeat: Irrespective of the manner of transfer, all gases absorb heat and all heated gases radiate heat (infrared light) in close proportion to their temperature. Major gases like nitrogen and oxygen, then, do not just radiate heat to the earth below, but the  total of this radiation vastly exceeds what minor players like carbon dioxide and water vapor contribute. Ironically, another NASA publication [PDF] reinforces this point.

In solids, the molecules and atoms are vibrating continuously. In a gas, the molecules are really zooming around, continuously bumping into each other. Whatever the amount of molecular motion occurring in matter, the speed is related to the temperature. The hotter the material, the faster its molecules are vibrating or moving.

Electromagnetic radiation is produced whenever electric charges accelerate - that is, when they change either the speed or direction of their movement. In a hot object, the molecules are continuously vibrating (if a solid) or bumping into each other (if a liquid or gas), sending each other off in different directions and at different speeds. Each of these collisions produces electromagnetic radiation at frequencies all across the electromagnetic spectrum.

... Any matter that is heated above absolute zero generates electromagnetic energy. The intensity of the emission and the distribution of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum depend upon the temperature of the emitting matter.

Accordingly, any heated gas emits infrared. There's nothing unique about CO2. Otherwise, substances like nitrogen and oxygen would truly be miracles of physics: heat ‘em as much as you wish, they'd never radiate in response. 

Yet this amounts to a double whammy. For meteorologists acknowledge that our atmosphere is principally heated by surface contact and convective circulation. Surrounded by the vacuum of space, moreover, the earth can only dissipate this energy by radiation. On one hand, then, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do not radiate the thermal energy they acquire, they rob the earth of a means of cooling off -- which makes them "greenhouse gases" by definition. On the other hand, though, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do radiate infrared, then they are also "greenhouse gases," which defeats the premise that only radiation from the infrared-absorbers raises the earth's temperature. Either way, therefore, the convoluted theory we've been going by is wrong.

An idea has been drummed into our heads for decades, that roughly 1% of the atmosphere's content is responsible for shifting the earth's surface temperature from inimical to benign. This conjecture has mistakenly focused on specifically light-absorbing gases, however, ignoring heat-absorbing gases altogether. Any heated atmospheric gas radiates infrared energy back toward the earth, meaning that the dreadful power we've attributed to light-absorbing molecules up to now has been wildly exaggerated and must be radically adjusted, indeed, pared down perhaps a hundred times. Because all gases radiate the heat they acquire, trace-gas heating theory is an untenable concept, a long-held illusion we'd be wise to abandon.

Page Printed from: at February 25, 2010 - 07:23:25 AM CST

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Pending American Temperaturegate

February 24, 2010

By Edward R. Long

Our study of data-massaging by the U.S. government agency charged with collecting temperature information raises uncomfortable questions.

We have been repeatedly told (perhaps "lectured" is a better word) the past twenty years that global warming is occurring. With Climategate and subsequent confessions and bailouts by scientists at the CRU, Penn State, Arizona State, IPCC, et al., we are learning that little to none of the factual content in their "peer reviewed" articles is true. The Medieval Warming Period did occur, and it was warmer than currently; the oceans are not going to flood the plains; and the Artic Ocean may not be turning into a summer water park. Of course, the mainstream media, especially in the United States, has reported little of this news, and President Obama appears not to be well-informed. But now the global warming story grows more interesting because here in America, we may have our own little "gate." I will call it ATG, for "American Temperaturegate."

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) informs us, based on their "Adjusted Data" for the period from the last decade of the 19th century to 2006, that the temperature for the contiguous U.S. has increased at a rate of 0.69oC/century. Click here. NCDC arrives at this conclusion by massaging raw data from a set of meteorological stations located in the contiguous U.S. which they selected on the basis of a 2.5-degree latitude- and 3.5-degree-longitude grid. For more on this, click here and here. The most-asked question, most recently by D'Aleo and Watts, is whether the NCDC's reported increase is correct. Perhaps the value is due to a dominant use (over-selection) of stations in urban locations or because of other issues, such as leaving out stations at higher altitudes for the more recent history and retaining them for the more distant past. 

Here, one aspect is considered -- that of the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is tagged as UHIE.

We selected two sets of meteorological stations (48 each, with one station per each of the lower 48 states) from the NCDC master list. The stations in one set were at rural locations -- a rural set. The stations in the other set were at urban locations -- an urban set. The NCDC latitude and longitude station coordinates were used to "fly over" the locations on a computer, using a GPS map application to confirm the rural and urban characteristics. For each of the 96 stations, the NCDC's raw and adjusted temperature data were entered into a spreadsheet application and studied. The "raw" data are the annual average temperatures of the measured data. The "adjusted" data are the annual average temperatures the NCDC derived from the raw data by making a set of "corrective" assumptions for time of day, type of instrument, etc. and guessing the temperature at stations for missing data based on temperatures of other stations at the same latitude and/or region. For a more in-depth understanding of the NCDC protocols for converting raw data to adjusted data, click here. A summary of the findings is in the following table.  The values in the table show that the NCDC's rate of increase of temperature, 0.69oC/century, is based on an over-selection of stations with urban locations.

Station Set

oC/Century, 11-Year Average Based on the Use of

Raw Data

Adjusted Data

Rural (48)



Urban (48)



Rural + Urban (96)



The values in the table highlight four important considerations:

1) The rate of increase for rural locations, based on as-measured (raw) values, is small
(if not, in effect, zero) at 0.11 oC/century. 

2) There is definitely a UHIE in that the urban raw data has a rate of increase of 0.72oC/century. This tells us that man has caused warming in urban locations. This finding should not surprise anyone. On the other hand, because the rural value is 15% of the urban value, the UHIE has not caused warming in the rural locations, and it certainly has not caused a global sense of warming other than the aspect that the urban location values when averaged with the rural values produce an average increase which is larger than that of the rural alone. 

3) The rural + urban value for the adjusted data, 0.65oC/century, is still less than the 0.69oC/century published by the NCDC. Thus, likely, there are more urban than rural sites used by the NCDC. 

4) And this is the "Temperaturegate" aspect: The NCDC's massaging -- they call it "adjusting" -- has resulted in an increase in the rural values, from a raw value of 0.11oC/century to an adjusted value of 0.58oC/century, and no change in the urban values. That is, the NCDC's treatment has forced the rural value to look more like that of the urban. This is the exact opposite of any rational consideration, given the growth of the sizes of and activities within urban locations, unless deception is the goal.

The criticism this makes of the NCDC's treatment of historical data for the contiguous U.S. is the same as a recent Russian paper made of the HadCRUT treatment of historical temperature data for Russia. For a thumbnail of the points made in that paper, click here.

Edward R. Long holds a Ph.D. in physics. He is a retired NASA scientist who is a consultant on radiation physics for space flight and on energy/climate in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Page Printed from: at February 24, 2010 - 07:17:23 AM CST

Monday, February 22, 2010

Answer to a “global warming” fanatic


From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

  • I try to answer as many enquiries as I can from people who want to discuss “global warming”. I wrote this letter in reply to a “global warming” fanatic who, it is not unfair to say, had never actually thought about the superstition to which he subscribes. Perhaps this letter will make him think a little more and believe a little less.

Dear Enquirer, – Thank you for taking the trouble to write to me. If I may, I shall highlight various passages from your letter in bold face, and then respond to them seriatim in Roman face.

“I am not a climate scientist, and so I can only go by the overwhelming consensus amongst scientists that man-made climate change is occurring and that it poses a grave threat to humanity.”

First, science is not – repeat not – done by consensus. Aristotle, in codifying the dozen worst fallacies to which mankind is prone, described this one as the “head-count fallacy”, or, as the mediaeval schoolmen called it, the argumentum ad populum. Merely because many people say they believe a thing to be true, they do not necessarily believe it to be true and, even if they do, it need not necessarily be true. Abu Ali Ibn al-Haytham, the astronomer, mathematician and philosopher of science in 11th-century Iraq who is credited as the father of the scientific method, said this –

“The seeker after truth does not put his faith in any mere consensus, however broad and however venerable. Instead, he subjects what he has learned from it to scrutiny using his hard-won scientific knowledge, and he verifies for himself whether it is true. The road to the truth is long and hard, but that is the road we must follow.”

More recently, T.H. Huxley, in the famous debate in which he defeated Bishop Soapy Sam Wilberforce in Oxford on the question of evolution, put it this way –

“The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the very highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

Secondly, the “consensus” you speak of does not in fact exist. Schulte (2008) reported that, of 539 scientific papers dated January 2004-February 2007 that contained the search phrase “global climate change”, not one provided any evidence that any anthropogenic influence on any part of the climate would prove in any degree catastrophic. That, if you do science by consensus, is the consensus.

Thirdly, during the pre-Cambrian era CO2 concentration was 300,000 parts per million, or 30% of the atmosphere, 773 times the 388 parts per million (<0.04%) in today’s atmosphere. Yet at that time glaciers came and went, twice, at the Equator and at sea level. The appearance of glaciers in this way could not have happened if CO2 had the exaggerated warming effect, derived by modelling rather than by measurement, that the IPCC imagines.

Fourthly, although the IPCC says more than half the 0.5 C “global warming” since 1950 was manmade, in fact four-fifths of it, or 0.4 C°, is known by measurement to have been caused by a naturally-occurring reduction in cloud cover from 1983-2001 (Pinker et al., 2005).

Since the warming actually observed from 1983-2001 was also 0.4 C°, during that period of more than 18 years there appears to have been no contribution whatsoever from CO2 or from any other greenhouse gas, even though the IPCC’s central estimate is that the increase from 342 to 370 ppmv CO2 over the period ought to have caused a warming of 4.7 ln(370/342) = 0.4 C°. So there should have been a warming of 0.8 C° over the period, but there was not.

From observations such as these, it is not possible to place any faith in the IPCC’s values for climate sensitivity, which have always been highly speculative. In fact, global temperature since 1980 has been rising at half the rate originally predicted by the IPCC in its First Assessment Report in 1990, and, since 1995, has not risen in any statistically-significant sense at all.

“Certainly if you told me that there was a mere 1 in 100 chance that the plane on which my daughter was about to crash I would not let her take it, because the potential downside would be so disastrous.”

Here, with respect, you have misunderstood what is misleadingly called the “precautionary principle”, though it is not a principle at all. For it is essential – but all too often forgotten – to ensure that the precautions you adopt do not do more harm than whatever it is you are taking precautions against. To take your example, if your daughter was on a volcanic island that was erupting, and if the scientists told you that if she remained on the island she would certainly die, and that the only way to escape was on an aircraft with a 1:100 chance of crashing, you would surely let her take the plane.

Mutatis mutandis, one should look at the precautions that are being taken in the name of Saving The Planet from the non-problem that is “global warming”. The biofuel scam, for instance, has taken so much farmland out of growing food for people that need it that world food prices doubled in just two years, causing mass starvation, food riots and death in a dozen major regions of the world. These food riots went almost entirely unreported in the mainstream news media. In Haiti, long before the recent tragic earthquake, the poor had been reduced to eating mud pies made with real mud, and then the doubling of world food prices meant they could not even afford the mud pies. So they died, as millions of others pointlessly died, because self-indulgent environmentalists in the West were not willing to do the science more carefully, and were not willing to apply the precautionary principle to the precautions that they had themselves so enthusiastically but foolishly and cruelly advocated.

“I am writing to find out why the proposed solutions to the problem of climate change make you so angry.”

These “solutions” that you speak of, which would make not the slightest difference to the “problem” of “global warming” even if there were one, are killing my fellow-citizens of this planet by the million. Of course I am angry.

“Will the production of oil and gas not surely peak and decline, if not imminently then in 20 years’ time?”

A third of a century ago, the Club of Rome decided that by now there would be no oil or gas reserves left anywhere in the world. Yet, despite massive increases in consumption of oil and gas worldwide, proven reserves today are larger than they were 30 years ago. As the reserves become scarcer and more expensive to extract, the price will rise. As the price rises, so alternative sources of energy will become less unviable economically. There is no role for governments in trying to pick future winners in energy supply: the free market will do it better and more economically, and without the need for over-taxation or over-regulation on the part of the State.

“Are the prices of fossil fuels and in fact nearly all commodities not subject to increasing volatility year by year?”

No. In the 1970s the volatility in the oil price was many times greater than it is today. And any attempt to ban the use of fossil fuels would merely add greatly and unnecessarily to the price of all commodities. Yet it would make not the slightest difference to the climate, even if you believe the IPCC’s sevenfold exaggeration of the true (and negligible) warming effect of CO2. Shutting down the entire carbon economy of the world, which would amount to much the same thing as shutting down the entire world economy, with an unimaginable increase in the number of deaths already being caused worldwide by misguided policies in this field, would forestall just 1 C° of “global warming” every 41 years. The mathematics are not difficult: we emit 15 billion tons of CO2 per part per million by volume in the atmosphere, and we emit 30 billion tons a year at present worldwide, equivalent to an increase of 2 ppmv per year in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Shutting down the economy would stabilize CO2 concentration at today’s levels, preventing this 2 ppmv/year rise. So, given the 388 ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere at present, each year without any CO2 emissions at all would forestall 4.7 ln (390/388) C° of warming, or 1/41 C°. Now you will begin to see what I mean by counting the cost of the precautions. Shutting down the entire world’s carbon economy would kill billions, and cost trillions, and yet our instruments would hardly be able to measure the difference it made to the climate. And this, you will recall, is on the basis that the IPCC has not exaggerated the warming effect of CO2 as prodigiously as numerous peer-reviewed papers have demonstrated that it has.

“Are western trade deficits not reaching crippling levels, at least in part because of our addiction to and utterly profligate use of imported fossil fuels?”

No. Trade deficits tend to be a feature of Socialist administrations. During the Thatcher era, for instance, UK trade ran for much of the time at a surplus, particularly when errors in the official figures were accounted for (one could demonstrate these errors by adding up all of the published trade deficits and surpluses in the world, whereupon it appeared that there was a massive trade deficit with outer space). It is the right of individuals to decide whether they want to pay the price of imported oil, and they do. I bet you have at least one car, for instance. If you give it up, like me, and use a motor-cycle, you will do much to reduce both the trade deficit and the congestion on the roads.

“Are those imports not vastly enriching some of the worst regimes on the planet?”

Yes. So give up your car. Give up electricity. Your letter was written electronically, for it has justified type, which a manual typewriter cannot achieve. Go back to the Stone Age, but remember not to light a carbon-emitting fire in your cave. Even if we all went back to the Stone Age (and that would involve the deaths of billions of our fellow-citizens), remember that we should forestall no more than 1 C° of “global warming” in 41 years – or, if I am right in suspecting that the IPCC has exaggerated CO2’s warming effect sevenfold, in almost 300 years.

“I cannot see how becoming much more efficient in our use of energy and other resources can be anything but a good thing.”

That, of course, is already happening, and by leaps and bounds. As energy prices rise, people learn to use energy more efficiently, to insulate their houses, to use their cars less often or use motor-bikes instead, and so forth. But, once again, there is no role for government here. The overhead cost of any government-driven activity doubles not only the cost of that activity but also the resource consumption associated with that activity. Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize for Economics for explaining exactly why that multiple is so.

The fastest way to reduce resource consumption, including energy consumption, is to make government smaller. Yet I have never heard any environmentalist advocate that, for – as my good friend Eric Ellington, a founder of Greenpeace who died this week, told me on many occasions – Greenpeace and many other environmental groups founded by people who, like Eric, genuinely cared for the environment were rapidly taken over by totalitarians with not the slightest genuine interest in the environment, because they saw the environmental movement as a Trojan Horse that could be used to collapse the economies of the West from within.

I am against that Marxist/eco-Fascistic entryism, not least because the totalitarian countries have done far more damage to the environment than the nations of the free West. By all means use energy more efficiently, but don’t involve government in the process, or any benefits will be very heavily outweighed by the overhead cost of the extra bureaucrats and their lavishly-heated offices. “Keep it simple, stupid,” as the saying goes, and let the free market do what it does best – allocate resources in a far cheaper and more efficient manner than any totalitarian, however pious his intention.

“Similarly the development of alternatives to fossil fuels, such as anaerobic digesters that use food and farm waste to generate heat and electricity, or solar thermal panels on our rooftops to heat our bathwater.”

Anaerobic digesters are all very well on country estates and in large town houses with their own land, but they are impractical in most cities, and their cost often outweighs any environmental benefits. As for solar panels, the CO2 emitted in their manufacture easily exceeds any CO2 that will be saved in their relatively short lifetime. Maybe that will change one day, but that is and has long been the case. CO2 emissions don’t worry me, but, if they worry you, then forget solar panels.

“Is the decline in manufacturing in the West not a trend that can be reversed by the rise of a huge industrial-efficiency, clean-technology and renewable-energy industry?”

No. The decline of manufacturing in the West is chiefly attributable to the excessive cost of government and the intrusiveness of regulation. The last steelworks on Teesside has just closed because we have a no-doubt-piously-intended EU emissions-trading scheme which prices UK-made steel right out of world markets. If and when there is a market for the types of industry you mention, even then the cost of manufactures in those markets will almost certainly be cheaper almost anywhere else in the world than in the benighted, overtaxed, over-governed, over-regulated, over-pious EU. It is no accident that the last major manufacturer of wind-turbine blades in Britain has recently closed, precisely because the EU is no longer open for manufacturing business – thanks to carbon trading, which is a rigged market that favours those who rig it (governments and absolute bankers) at the expense of everyone and everything else, including the jobs of our workers.

“What about the aim of slowing and ultimately halting the clearance of the tropical rainforests on which surely all life depends? Is this not worth a global pact now, whether we believe in man-made climate change or not?”

A shame that you overstate your case here, because I agree that deforestation is undesirable and that reafforestation should be encouraged. I also agree this is one area where government, and even inter-governmental co-operation, has a role. But it is silly to say that all life depends on the tropical rain-forests. It doesn’t, though we should all be poorer for their passing.

“If I were to discover man-made climate change to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax created by the world’s scientific establishment, I would not reveal it, because all of the changes that its existence will bring about are changes which we absolutely must be making right away, irrespective of the climate.”

Since one of the “changes” that the climate scam has caused is the deaths of millions by starvation, I cannot and will not agree. Also, the lies and exaggerations peddled with such enthusiasm by the environmentalist movement will scarcely win it any friends when – as is already happening with great rapidity – the world wakes up to the fact that it has been lied to. In the end, it is always better to adhere absolutely to the truth, because no one heeds a proven liar, as the environmentalist movement will rapidly learn to its cost.

It is also questionable whether the “changes” you mention would be a good idea in their own right. There is a direct correlation between CO2 emissions per head and life expectancy, and a direct anti-correlation between CO2 emissions per head and child mortality, for instance. Also, CO2 is plant food: if we were able to double its current concentration, the yield of many staple food crops would increase by up to 40%. So curbing CO2 emissions, the principal objective of the environmentalist movement at present, would do great harm. In particular, it would prevent the cheapest and surest way of lifting people out of poverty: the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Populations that become free of poverty stabilize themselves, while countries compelled to remain poor continue to suffer an excessively rapid birth-rate. The perverse but inevitable effect of any success that the environmentalist movement may have in trying to limit emissions of CO2 will be to increase world poverty, to increase world population, and ultimately to increase the world’s carbon footprint. I don’t mind about the carbon footprint, which would be harmless and beneficial, but increasing the world’s population by forcibly keeping it poor is surely cruel madness.

“I have yet to see you touch on the now virtually undisputed fact of ocean acidification by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the consequences of which are predicted to be catastrophic.”

Ah, ocean “acidification”, the fall-back position of those who have realized that there has been no statistically-significant “global warming” for 15 years, and a rapid global cooling trend for nine of those 15 years. Once again, you overstate your case by talking of the “virtually undisputed fact” of ocean “acidification”. In fact, as you will find from the little book on the subject by my distinguished colleague Dr. Craig Idso of, the overwhelming opinion of scientists in the literature is that ocean “acidification” is a chemical impossibility.

So let us end this letter with a little science. First, with this as with all scientific subjects, we need a sense of proportion. So let us get a few things clear straight away. The acid-base balance of water is measured on a logarithmic scale of the proportion of hydrogen ions in the water. This proportion is labelled the pH. The pH of seawater is 7.9-8.2; the pH of neutral or pure water is 7.0; and the pH of rainwater is 5.4. Any value greater than 7.0 is alkaline; any value less than 7.0 is acid. So seawater is pronouncedly alkaline, and rainwater is pronouncedly acid.

Next, we need to gain some idea of the amount of CO2 in seawater. Seawater at the surface is 1100 times denser than the atmosphere, and it contains 70 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. From this it is easy to see that the amount of CO2 in seawater is very, very small, for it is minuscule in the atmosphere. Now, suppose that we were to double the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere. In accordance with Henry’s Law, about 30% of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere would end up in the oceans. Accordingly, the amount of CO2 in the oceans would increase by 1/233, or less than half of one per cent. Is that enough to “acidify” the oceans? Obviously not. At most, it would move the pH by an immeasurably small amount towards neutralization.

In fact, however, it would not even do that. Why? Because CO2 is only the seventh-most-prevalent of the substances dissolved in the oceans that can alter its acid-base balance. And CO2 has a special role as the buffer that preserves homoeostasis in the acid-base balance of the oceans. In the pre-Cambrian era, for instance, the CO2 in the oceans reacted with the superabundant calcium and magnesium ions in seawater to precipitate out dolomitic rock. As the partial pressure of CO2 fell, the CO2 reacted with calcium ions to form limestone or chalk (CaCO3), which contains 44% CO2.

In the Cambrian era, when CO2 concentration was 7500 parts per million, or around 18 times today’s, the first calcite corals achieved symbiosis with algae, then the only plant life on Earth. In the Jurasic era, when CO2 concentration was around 6500 parts per million, the first aragonite corals came into existence. For most of the past 750 million years, CO2 concentration in the oceans has been at least 1000 parts per million, compared with <400 today. Why were the oceans never acid throughout this time, notwithstanding the high partial pressures of CO2? Because the oceans run over rocks, and rocks are pronouncedly alkaline. As long as there are rocks beneath and around the oceans, the oceans cannot and will not acidify.

One final point about so-called “acidification”. Believe it or not, calcium carbonate shells and corals dissolve 15 times more readily in the strongly-alkaline seawater of today than they would in neutral water of pH 7.0. If it were possible to neutralize the oceans somewhat, shells would be less at risk of dissolving, not more at risk. I do not know how much chemistry you have, but I can show you the chemical equations underlying this topic, if you like. There was not and is not any sound scientific basis for believing that a little extra CO2 in the atmosphere will have any appreciable effect on the oceans.

Let me conclude by observing that it is not appropriate to try to politicize science. The environmentalist movement, by seeking to push the science beyond reason or reality in its attempt to frighten schoolchildren and the feeble-minded, will find that as the truth emerges the world will turn its back on those who have baselessly cried “Wolf!” many times too often. It will then be seen that nothing has done more harm to the cause of true environmental concern than the attempted capture of the environmental movement by people who care nothing for the environment and everything for the narrow, poisonous, politicized faction with which they unwisely identify themselves. Great is truth, as the Book of Life says, and mighty above all things.

Yours sincerely,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Unsustainable Spending

By David Warren

A spectre is haunting Europe, and America -- the spectre of Keynesianism finally gone nuts.

What began, not very innocently, as a suggestion that governments should run deficits in bad times, and surpluses in good times, gradually "evolved." In the next phase, governments tried to balance at least the operating account during the best of times. In phase three, governments ran deficits by habit during the good times, but much bigger "stimulus" deficits during the bad times. We are now entering phase four.

Canadians tend to feel smug about this, for we look south at a fiscal catastrophe that had nothing to do with us. For the last generation, we have been trying to claw our way back to budgetary conditions before Pierre Trudeau broke the bank. This had once seemed a small price to pay for his "just society" (or "just watch me"). Surely it was worth mortgaging our children's future, and that of their children, and children's children, for the transient privilege of being governed by such a man. (I can still hear the erotic screams of the women, from the 1968 general election, as Trudeau passed by.)

By about 1984, we had had enough. Michael Wilson balanced the operating account, then Paul Martin balanced the overall budget, and today Jim Flaherty tries to keep the federal debt "shrinking" in proportion to national income. (Of course, the debt itself grows and grows.)

We feel smug because we are watching President Barack Obama do for the United States what Prime Minister Trudeau did for us -- although in their case, on top of what Obama's predecessors did. The U.S. national debt now exceeds $12.3 trillion in a $14.2 trillion economy, and the U.S. government is now piling it on with unprecedented new deficits. The U.S. Treasury's borrowing requirement is, as it were, coming up against the Great Wall of China.

Little things, such as the heart of the U.S. space program, are being gutted to make way for metastasizing social security entitlements and debt service payments that will soon swamp the entire federal budget -- thus requiring the elimination of more little things such as the army, navy and air force. At some point the entitlements simply can't be paid, without hyperinflation.

I am not exaggerating. The American debt is now at levels that ring bells at the International Monetary Fund. And as the world's biggest debtor rapidly accelerates its borrowing, the fiscal carrying capacity of the rest of the planet comes into question.

There are two large reasons why we cannot afford to be smug, up here. The first is that after adding the "entitlement" heritage of our provincial governments to the federal debt load, our position is not much better. The second is that even if it were much better, the tsunami coming from south of the border will anyway sweep all our dikes away.

The Obama administration's financial projections are extremely optimistic, yet even if they all come true, the U.S. debt will continue to grow unsustainably. The kind of alarm falsely placed in "global warming" would more usefully be directed towards the remarkable cooling effect this will have, as all our fiscal and demographic trends converge. For this is a predictable future; an issue where the numbers correspond to real things, not to mere speculation.

We can already see where the U.S. is headed, because Iceland and Greece are showing the way. Both have now passed a point of no return, and both are being followed down that plughole by Britain and several other European countries that will probably precede the U.S. into outright bankruptcy. The State of California also gives some clues.

While an optimist would say that we are witnessing the final demise of the welfare state, and good riddance, a pessimist would observe that everything must go down with it. Moreover, as we have seen from the history of Germany and other countries, fiscal catastrophe accentuates every latent threat to public order.

For our governments have created vast bureaucracies, employing immense numbers whose livelihoods depend entirely (whether they realize it or not) upon the capacity of profit-earning people to pay constantly increasing taxes.

It should have been grasped, decades ago, that the constant transfer of resources from the productive to the unproductive must eventually tip the ship. And when it does, real people go over the side, who get angry when they are thrown in the water. There are consequences to that anger.

The idea that we can spend our way out of a debt crisis -- or what I called above, "Keynesianism gone nuts" -- has already been rejected by the Tea Party movement in the U.S., and has always been rejected by voters of conservative tendency. They know what's wrong with the present order, and have an important teaching function to the rest of the electorate, which doesn't get it yet.

But more urgently, we are in need of a positive conception of how to rebuild economy and society, when Nanny State collapses under her own weight. For yelling "run!" is only a short-term solution.

© Copyright The Ottawa Citizen

Page Printed from: at February 21, 2010 - 12:29:40 PM CST

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Does Canada Have to go Down This Road Too?

February 19, 2010

What Does 'Racial Socialism' Sound Like to You?

By James Lewis

The United States today has slipped toward race-based socialism: That's the true name for an overwhelming bias for one race above others, in employment, promotion, and educational opportunities. Our media are constantly stirring the witch's brew of racial grievances, constantly making black people feel aggrieved and white people feel accused. Our schools drive that lesson home with young and innocent kids in a totally ruthless way. Repeat that for twelve years of schooling and TV, and you have a brainwashed kid.

That is what European socialists have done with class envy for the last hundred years: whip up the poor against the middle and the rich. It's in their standard bag of tricks. The American Left has just added racial grievances to class anger and resentment, always feeding more and more power to the racial socialists to buy peace for the very grievances they have whipped up in the first place. The NAACP today practices racial socialism. So does Obama. "Racial Ssocialism" drives the Left's current assault on American values. That's why Jeremiah Wright is such a significant part of Obama's life. Wright specialized in whipping up racial anger for political purposes. Obama's career was powered by it.

Only 12.3 percent of Americans are black, and they cannot command a majority vote. It's therefore necessary to add gender socialism, because half the population are women. If enough women can be made to feel rage against normative America, along with blacks, Hispanics, and the poor, you've got majority control of the country. You can add the wackier Greens, the ones who fall for the global warming scam, the anti-nuclear scam, and all the other anti-scientific Luddites who vote Left. The Democrats control our major cities with a coalition of those whipped-up grievance groups. 

We are no longer a society run by talent, work, and opportunity. Like ancient Egypt and Sumer, we are a society where the ruling class exploits its productive workers by taxing their labor, talent, and ability to recognize and use new opportunities.

Barack H. Obama is the logical outcome of racial socialism. You can see it in his words and actions, and his very physical stance, all signaling his sense of superiority, the flip-side of feelings of inferiority he is reacting against. Obama's core support came from the Leftist alliance of grievance groups in spite of his total lack of relevant experience. Obama is objectively the least qualified person to be elected to the presidency. But the media could not say that, because it would have been non-P.C. to tell the truth.

Obama's election was a kind of guilt propitiation by the American people for the history of slavery. But that is bizarre. Living people are not responsible for what others did two hundred years ago. That is a racist idea -- it makes sense only if whites have Evil Genes -- just like traditional anti-Semitism and hatred for blacks as a race.

We are seeing the consequences right in front of our eyes today, as this administration demonstrates its incompetence and intellectual confusion about the most obvious problems we face -- the Islamist terror threat, for starters. 

The most famous version of racial socialism is you-know-who. The Nazis rose to power by whipping up racial resentment against the Jews, the Gypsies, and other "inferior" peoples: race-based national socialism. For the Nazis, the "oppressed" were the German people, das Volk, as a race. Racial socialism is routine in post-colonial regimes, like in the case of Robert Mugabe, who clings to power by scapegoating white Zimbabweans, people who also happen to run the farms that provide food for that country. Like Stalin and Kim Jong Il, Mugabe is exploiting racial divisions at the cost of starvation and poverty for his people.

That is also why Obama's Dreams from My Father is an important policy statement, whether Bill Ayers wrote it or not. Obama is a post-colonial socialist, as was his father -- a Kenyan who wanted revenge against white Britons who ran colonial Kenya. That is why as president, Obama bizarrely tries to diss the Brits -- both the Queen and socialist Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- while bowing low to autocrats like the king of Saudi Arabia. There is something very regressive about that. It is looking to the past, not the present or the future.

Post-colonial socialism has been a universal failure wherever it has been tried. Robert Mugabe is one in a long series of failures. In India, the big post-colonial socialist was Jawaharlal Nehru, and his Congress Party has now switched its economic policies to encourage free markets, having learned something from decades of economic failure. In China, a similar evolution has happened. In Africa the most successful regimes have rejected post-colonial revenge socialism.

But don't we owe black Americans something for the sins of slavery? Just like we owe women for the sins of sexism, and gays for the sins of heterosexuality?

The answer is no. Remedies for past injustices cannot be used to overthrow a society. Germany's forced reparations after World War I destroyed the economy and the middle class, thereby undermining France and the rest of Europe as well. The attempted "remedy" for past sins also created a nationalistic revenge movement, the Nazis, who committed aggression even bloodier than World War I. Revenge movements do not make for peace.

But that is precisely what Racial Socialism is all about. But a society based on racial compensation turns into a tyranny, just as a society based on racial superiority does. Real democracy allows individuals to overcome their circumstances. But you can't overcome your race, your gender, or, in some cases, your sexual preferences. America is therefore being driven relentlessly toward a European ruling class model based on inheritance and not talent, hard work, and opportunity.

Race-based socialism is not progressive, but radically regressive, going back to the clan-based ruling classes of the first city-states in human history, as in Sumer, Egypt, and the Indus Valley six thousand years ago. The Indian caste system arose as a racial layering of Indian society by different invading tribal groups. The Left is always pointing the finger at mainstream America for the sin of racism. But racial divide and conquer is precisely the deliberate strategy of the Left.

In Britain, Labour politicians have finally confessed that they has deliberately imported hundreds of thousands of Pakistani Muslims to serve as cheap wedge-voters against British whites, while constantly accusing normal, decent people of racism. Throughout Western societies, the Left has conducted a mean and cynical assault on the mainstream of society, constantly undermining normal people while laying claim to a higher morality.

When Saul Alinsky dedicated his Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, he wasn't kidding.

Page Printed from: at February 19, 2010 - 07:47:14 AM CST

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Both Canada and United States have a Health Care Emergency

February 17, 2010

Bending the Curve

By John Lilly

Over the last several years, numerous politicians including President Obama have used the phrase "we need to bend the curve" when talking about health care expenditures. What is this "curve" they keep wanting to "bend"? The following chart is from the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report (page 51).

The dark line labeled Expenditures is that "curve." The idea is to bend the curve so that it becomes flatter rather than continuing its upward trend. So just how are we going to "bend the curve"?

To answer that question, we must look at the history of how health care has been paid for in the United States. Numerous books have been written on this subject, including Patient Power by John C. Goodman and Gerald L. Musgrave. From the end of World War II through the mid-1980s, Americans paid for hospital care primarily through a cost-plus system of health care finance. Health insurance literally ensured that hospitals had enough income to cover their costs, and health insurers acted as agents for the suppliers of medical services, not the policyholders. Because the only way the suppliers could increase their income was to increase costs, the cost-plus system invariably lead to rising health care costs. Patients had no reason to show restraint since they were spending someone else's money, not their own. Treatments were also much simpler. If you had a heart attack, they admitted you to the hospital, and you either survived or died. Now the goal is to get you to the cardiac catheterization lab as fast as possible. Today's interventions are more advanced and more expensive.

Because there is a limit to how much any society will pay for health care, the cost-plus system was ultimately forced to limit the decisions of suppliers of medical care. The limitations took the form of rules and restrictions written by impersonal bureaucracies, far removed from the doctor-patient relationships they sought to regulate. During the 1980s, the health care system evolved from a pure cost-plus system into a cost-control phase in which third-party paying institutions, both public and private, attempted to reduce their share of the total cost. This system fast becomes bureaucratic warfare over how to shift costs. Every year, Medicare restrictions become tighter.

All free-market competitive systems have two characteristics in common: increasing quality and decreasing prices. However, the difference between a normal marketplace and the medical marketplace is striking. In a normal marketplace, consumers spend their own money, producers search for ways to reduce costs, individuals choose from diverse products, technological change is good for consumers, and producers advertise price discounts and quality differences. In the medical marketplace, consumers are usually spending someone else's money, physicians and hospitals increase costs and perform more procedures to increase their income, most people who have health insurance are covered under an employer or government plan, third-party payers are increasingly hostile to new technology, patients cannot find out the costs prior to admission and cannot read the hospital bill upon discharge, and patients rarely can obtain information about the quality of physicians or hospitals. In a normal marketplace, quality increases and prices decrease with time. In the medical marketplace, quality improvements are questionable and prices continue to rise.

Examples of a normal marketplace include cell phones, computers, cameras, and music players. Twenty-five years ago, cell phones were large and bulky, limited in their features, and very expensive. Today's cell phones are compact, have multiple applications, and are relatively inexpensive. There are two areas of health care where quality has increased and price has decreased: plastic surgery and corrective eye surgery (radial keratotomy and now Lasik). This has occurred because the individual consumer pays for the entire bill. When you have a third party paying for the majority of any particular expense, there is no incentive for the individual consumer to control costs. It is a common practice for consumers to demand additional costly and unnecessary testing and procedures especially once their annual deductible has been met. Almost every primary care physician has had a patient come to his office in October and say, "I've paid my deductible for the year, so now I want to get every test possible." It is also common to delay elective surgery until it is covered by insurance. These practices increase the cost of medical care. In many respects, health insurance is not insurance at all. It is instead prepayment for the consumption of medical care. 

Medicare is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla sitting in the waiting room. Medicare sets reimbursement rates for all types of procedures and office visits. Insurance companies simply follow Medicare's lead with reimbursement rates that are a multiple of Medicare rates, generally from 110% to 140%. Once Medicare reimburses for a particular procedure or device, like motorized scooters, there is an incentive to qualify as many people as possible. Medicare gives more emphasis to procedures relative to office visits. The Medicare reimbursement for removing a toenail is more than three times the reimbursement for an office visit to control a patient's blood pressure. Physicians are incentivized to do things to patients rather than maintain their health. Physicians are not paid to keep you healthy (even though that is our goal). We are paid to do things to you. The system for physician and hospital reimbursement is incentivized to increase costs, not to "bend the curve."

So how do we "bend the curve"? Do we continue with a cost-plus health care system that does not control costs, or do we make a fundamental change to a market-based competitive system? Until Congress and the president have the will and the courage to change the incentives in Medicare, the curve will not be bent. Until patients are put in charge of their own medical expenses, doctors and hospitals will just find new ways to increase revenue. The solution will occur only when the federal and state governments encourage insurance companies to work with physicians on innovative payment methods that do promote health and quality. Health care costs cannot be controlled unless we empower individuals and make it in their self-interest to become prudent buyers of health care. When individuals have control of their own health care dollars through insurance policies like health savings accounts, they won't purchase health care services unless the services are worth the price. What is the right amount of money to spend on health care? In general, there is no right amount; it is whatever people choose to spend, as long as they are spending their own money (or money that they control) and are knowledgeable about prices that reflect the real costs of medical services.
There will always be health care rationing. The real question is, "Do you want to make medical decisions about what you spend on health care with money that you control, or do you want the decisions to be made by a bureaucrat?"

John Lilly, MBA, D.O. is a family physician and Vice President of The YOUNG Conservatives of America ( He can be reached through the website.

Page Printed from: at February 17, 2010 - 08:50:30 AM CST

Wow Peer Reviewed Climate Science!

February 17, 2010

The AGW Smoking Gun

By Gary Thompson

A key component of the scientific argument for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has been disproven. The results are hiding in plain sight in peer-reviewed journals.

Politicians and scientists still cling to the same hypothesis: Increased emission of CO2 into the atmosphere (by humans) is causing the Earth to warm at such a rate that it threatens our survival. The reality of our global temperatures, the failure of these catastrophic predictions to materialize, and the IPCC scandals all continue to cast serious doubt on that hypothesis. 

The only rebuttal given by AGW proponents is that the scandals of the IPCC don't negate the science (i.e., unscrupulous behavior by a few don't negate the rock-solid science), so it seems that the only way to disprove the AGW hypothesis is to address problems with the science. Climate science is very complex, and AGW proponents dismiss the scientific arguments unless the data are contained in journal papers that are "peer-reviewed."

Three peer-reviewed journal contain data contradicting the AGW hypothesis. But before the journal papers are reviewed, here is a little background on the science.

The Greenhouse Effect is real and necessary for life on Earth. Without it, our world would be a frozen ball that would not be hospitable for life as we know it. The harmful stuff (x-rays and gamma rays) is filtered out, but the light in the visible spectrum enters, and that light energy warms our Earth. The land and sea then respond to that warming energy by emitting light in the spectrum of the infrared (IR), and that energy takes the form of small packets of energy called photons. When those IR photons reach the atmosphere, some of them get absorbed by certain molecules, and that absorbed energy is transferred into the elements of the molecules. That energy causes the molecules to vibrate and heat the atmosphere, and finally, the atmosphere transfers some of that energy back to the Earth's surface. Again, this is necessary, because if we didn't have this blocking of IR wavelengths, our average temperatures on Earth would be about 32 degrees Celsius cooler (-18ºC instead of the current 14ºC). One of the greenhouse gases (GHG) that reflects these IR wavelengths is CO2, but there are others, such as water vapor, ozone (O3), methane (CH4), and CFCs. 

The science behind the AGW hypothesis is that increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere (that humans produce by burning fossil fuels) will block more outgoing long-wave IR radiation (OLR) from exiting the atmosphere and thereby warm the surface. It is well-known that IR radiation causes CO2 molecules to vibrate, but only at very specific wavelengths (wavelengths are the distances between peaks of each wave), and that wavelength is 15µm. (Fifteen µm means that each wavelength crests at a distance of 15 millionths of a meter.) As was discussed above, this vibration of the molecule causes it to heat and then radiate IR radiation back toward the atmosphere and the surface of the Earth. If the solar activity is taken to remain constant, more CO2 in the atmosphere will trap more of the OLR, and thus cause a net heating of the planet.   

So what type of experiment could be performed to test this AGW hypothesis? If there were satellites in orbit monitoring the emission of OLR over time at the same location, then OLR could be measured in a very controlled manner. If, over time, the emission of OLR in the wavelengths that CO2 absorbs decreases over time, then that would prove the AGW hypothesis (i.e., that OLR is being absorbed by CO2 and heating the planet instead of being emitted from the atmosphere). But what if, over time (say, over thirty years), the emissions of OLR wavelengths that CO2 absorb remained constant? That would disprove the hypothesis and put the AGW argument to bed. 

As luck would have it, that experiment has actually been performed! Three journal papers report the data from three monitoring satellites that have measured the OLR of 1997 and 2006 and compared those measurements to 1970, and they are located here, here, and here

There were three different experiments performed in space to measure OLR emissions. The Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS) was performed in 1970, the Interferometer Monitor of Greenhouse Gases (IMG) was performed in 1997, and the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) was performed in 2006. All of these experiments were performed over the Pacific Ocean and confined to the same three-month period (April through June), and the data were limited to cloudless days. The variable measured was brightness temperature, which is given in degrees Kelvin (K). Higher brightness temperatures correlate to higher emissions (meaning that more OLR is emitted to the atmosphere and less is absorbed by GHG).  

The figure below (from the first link above) shows a comparison of OLR emission in 1997 vs. 1970. (Positive values indicate that more OLR emission was measured in 1997 vs. 1970, and negative values indicate that less OLR emission was measured in 1997 vs. 1970.) The top graph is taken over the East Pacific, and the bottom graph is taken over the West Pacific. The middle line is the actual measurements, and the other lines show the upper and lower uncertainty ranges. The x-axis of the graph is given in wave numbers per centimeter (cm), and the area that relates to CO2 is at the far left of the graph (700 wave numbers per cm). After analyzing this graph, the following conclusion can be drawn: There is actually an increase of OLR emissions in 1997 as compared to 1970!

The next figure (from the second link above) shows the actual measurements of OLR emission in 1997 vs. 1970. The dark line is the IMG data (from 1997), and the gray line is the IRIS line (from (1970). After analyzing this graph, the following conclusion can be drawn: The 1997 OLR associated with CO2 is identical to that in 1970.

The next figure (from the third link above) shows the OLR emission from TES (in 2006). The black line is the actual measurement data, the red line is what the climate models show, and the blue line is the difference between the actual and model data. 

The final figure (from the third link above) shows the OLR emission from IMG (1997). Just like the previous figure, the black line is the actual measurement data, the red line is what the climate models show, and the blue line is the difference between actual and model data.

The last two graphs can be placed on top of each other, and the black lines (actual measured data) are basically copies of each other. That means that there was no difference in OLR between 1970 and 2006.

All three of the links referenced here devote the latter sections of the papers to removing the impact of surface temperatures and water vapor and graphing the OLR that is associated only with trace GHGs. The authors perform this trick (there is that word again...) based on the climate models and not through actual measurements, and surprise, surprise -- these simulated results show a reduction in OLR emission with wavelengths that are absorbed by CO2. Computer-simulated results based on climate models are never a replacement for actual measured data, and they should never be used to draw conclusions when actual measured data contradicts those models. 

So the results of three different peer-reviewed papers show that over a period of 36 years, there is no reduction of OLR emissions in wavelengths that CO2 absorb. Therefore, the AGW hypothesis is disproven. 

It should be noted that another paper written by Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi (both work at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences -- Lindzen is a professor and Choi is a postdoctoral fellow) reveals the differences between the measured OLR and its impact on temperatures vs. climate models. In the paper, the data showed that OLR increased when sea surface temperatures increased, so this is in direct contradiction to the AGW hypothesis that less OLR should be emitted since more CO2 is absorbing it and warming the planet. Furthermore, in contradiction to the climate models, these results show that OLR is acting like a negative feedback (cooling the surface) instead of a positive feedback (radiative forcing). The Lindzen and Choi paper dealt in general with all OLR wavelengths and didn't show granularity with respect to specific wavelengths that were related to various GHG absorption, but the fact that the entire OLR emission spectrum didn't behave like the eleven climate models' predictions means that "the science isn't settled."

Page Printed from: at February 17, 2010 - 07:39:48 AM CST

Green Costs Millions of Innocent Lives

The Green Death

posted at 12:58 am on February 16, 2010 by Doctor Zero

Who is the worst killer in the long, ugly history of war and extermination? Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? Not even close. A single book called Silent Spring killed far more people than all those fiends put together.

Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT – which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this book… and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a “political” decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.

The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process – a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched “hockey stick” for decades.

The motivation behind Silent Spring, the suppression of nuclear power, the global-warming scam, and other outbreaks of environmentalist lunacy is the worship of centralized power and authority. The author, Rachel Carson, didn’t set out to kill sixty million people – she was a fanatical believer in the newly formed religion of radical environmentalism, whose body count comes from callousness, rather than blood thirst. The core belief of the environmental religion is the fundamental uncleanliness of human beings. All forms of human activity are bad for the environment… most especially including the activity of large private corporations. Deaths in faraway Africa barely registered on the radar screen of the growing Green movement, especially when measured against the exhilarating triumph of getting a sinful pesticide banned, at substantial cost to an evil corporation.

Those who were initiated into the higher mysteries of environmentalism saw the reduction of the human population as a benefit, although they’re generally more circumspect about saying so in public these days. As quoted by Walter Williams, the founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, Alexander King, wrote in 1990: “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guayana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” Another charming quote comes from Dr. Charles Wurster, a leading opponent of DDT, who said of malaria deaths: “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”

Like the high priests of global warming, Rachel Carson knew what she was doing. She claimed DDT would actually destroy all life on Earth if its use continued – the “silent spring” of the title is a literal description of the epocalypse she forecast. She misused a quote from Albert Schweitzer about atomic warfare, implying the late doctor agreed with her crusade against pesticide by dedicating her book to him… when, in fact, Schweitzer viewed DDT as a “ray of hope” against disease-carrying insects. Some of the scientists attempting to debunk her hysteria went so far as to eat chunks of DDT to prove it was harmless, but she and her allies simply ignored them, making these skeptics the forerunners of today’s “global warming deniers” – absolutely correct and utterly vilified. William Ruckleshaus disregarded nine thousand pages of testimony when he imposed the DDT ban. Then as now, the science was settled… beneath a mass of politics and ideology.

Another way Silent Spring forecast the global-warming fraud was its insistence that readers ignore the simple evidence of reality around them. One of the founding myths of modern environmentalism was Carson’s assertion that bird eggs developed abnormally thin shells due to DDT exposure, leading the chicks to be crushed before they could hatch. As detailed in this American Spectator piece from 2005, no honest experimental attempt to produce this phenomenon has ever succeeded – even when using concentrations of DDT a hundred times greater than anything that could be encountered in nature. Carson claimed thin egg shells were bringing the robin and bald eagle to the edge of extinction… even as the bald eagle population doubled, and robins filled the trees. Today, those eagles and robins shiver in a blanket of snow caused by global warming.

The DDT ban isn’t the only example of environmental extremism coming with a stack of body bags. Mandatory gas mileage standards cause about 2,000 deaths per year, by compelling automakers to produce lighter, more fragile cars. The biofuel mania has led resources to be shifted away from growing food crops, resulting in higher food prices and starvation. Worst of all, the economic damage inflicted by the environmentalist religion directly correlates to life-threatening reductions in the human standard of living. The recent earthquake in Haiti is only the latest reminder that poverty kills, and collectivist politics are the most formidable engine of poverty on Earth.

Environmental extremism is a breathless handmaiden for collectivism. It pours a layer of smooth, creamy science over a relentless hunger for power. Since the boogeymen of the Green movement threaten the very Earth itself with imminent destruction, the environmentalist feels morally justified in suspending democracy and seizing the liberty of others. Of course we can’t put these matters to a vote! The dimwitted hicks in flyover country can’t understand advanced biochemistry or climate science. They might vote the wrong way, and we can’t risk the consequences! The phantom menaces of the Green movement can only be battled by a mighty central State. Talk of representation, property rights, and even free speech is madness when such a threat towers above the fragile ecosphere, wheezing pollutants and coughing out a stream of dead birds and drowned polar bears. You can see why the advocates of Big Government would eagerly race across a field of sustainable, organic grass to sweep environmentalists into their arms, and spin them around in the ozone-screened sunlight.

Green philosophy provides vital nourishment for the intellectual vanity of leftists, who get to pat themselves on the back for saving the world through the control-freak statism they longed to impose anyway. One of the reasons for the slow demise of the climate-change nonsense is that it takes a long time to let so much air out of so many egos. Calling “deniers” stupid and unpatriotic was very fulfilling. Likewise, you’ll find modern college campuses teeming with students – and teachers – who will fiercely insist that DDT thins egg shells and causes cancer. Environmentalism is a primitive religion which thrives by telling its faithful they’re too sophisticated for mere common sense.

The legacy of Silent Spring provides an object lesson in the importance of bringing the global-warming con artists to trial. No one was ever forced to answer for the misery inflicted by that book, or the damage it dealt to serious science. Today Rachel Carson is still celebrated as a hero, the secular saint who transformed superstition and hysteria into a Gospel for the modern god-state. The tactics she deployed against DDT resurfaced a decade later, in the Alar scare. It’s a strategy that offers great reward, and very little risk. We need to increase the risk factor, and frighten the next generation of junk scientists into being more careful with their research. If we don’t, the Church of Global Warming will just reappear in a few years, wearing new vestments and singing new hymms… but still offering the same communion of poverty, tyranny, and death.

Cross-posted at

Monday, February 15, 2010

I wonder if Dalton Read this?? (from American Thinker)

February 15, 2010

Wind Energy's Ghosts

By Andrew Walden

Bankrupt Europe has a lesson for Congress about wind power.


The sound floats on the winds of Ka Le, this southernmost tip of Hawaii's Big Island, where Polynesian colonists first landed some 1,500 years ago.

Some say that Ka Le is haunted -- and it is. But it's haunted not by Hawaii's legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are "Na leo o Kamaoa"-- the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

 The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU's expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.

The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill appears to be politically dead since Republican Scott Brown's paradigm-shattering Massachusetts Senate victory. But alternative proposals being floated by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and others still promise billions of dollars to wind developers and commit the United States to generate as much as 20% of its electricity from so-called "renewable" sources.

The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles -- but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites. 

 Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy. 

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming.  By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company. 

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa.  In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned.  Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio.  But California's Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law. Wind Power advocate Paul Gipe, who got his start as an early 1970s environmental activist at Indiana's Ball State University, describes a 1998 Tehachapi tour thusly:

"Our bus drove directly through the Tehachapi Gorge passing the abandoned Airtricity site with its derelict Storm Master and Wind-Matic turbines and the deserted Wind Source site with its defunct Aeroman machines. We also got a freeway-close glimpse of Zond's wind wall with its 400 Vestas V15 turbines, the former Arbutus site on rugged Pajuela Peak where only the Bonus turbines are still in service, and steep-sided Cameron Ridge topped with FloWind's few remaining Darrieus turbines before reaching SeaWest, our first stop.

"As we approached SeaWest from the desert town of Mojave, the old Micon 108s were spinning merrily, but the Mitsubishis with their higher start-up speed were just coming to life. SeaWest and Fluidyne had done a commendable job of cleaning the Mitsubishis of their infamous oil leaks for the tour's arrival."

Tehachapi's dead turbines
(image via webecoist, sky#walker; Center for Land Use Interpretation; Terminal Tower)

Writing in the February, 1999 edition of New Energy, Gipe explains:

From 1981 through 1985 federal and state tax subsidies in California were so great that wealthy investors could recover up to 50 percent of a wind turbine's cost. The lure of quick riches resulted in a flood of development using new and mostly untested wind turbines. By the end of 1986, when projects already underway in 1985 were completed, developers had installed nearly 15,000 wind turbines. These machines represented 1,200 MW of capacity worth US$2.4 billion in 1986 dollars.

It took nearly a decade from the time the first flimsy wind turbines were installed before the performance of California wind projects could dispel the widespread belief among the public and investors that wind energy was just a tax scam.

Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised.  He asks:

"If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?  It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

After the collapse, wind promoters had a solution to their public image problem.  Hide the derelict turbines.  Gipe in 1993 wrote for the American Wind Energy Association: 

Currently most of the older, less productive wind turbines are located within sight of major travel corridors such as I-580 and I-10. Many first generation turbines and some of the second generation designs are inoperative, and all turbines of these generations are more prone to mechanical failure than contemporary designs. Public opinion surveys have consistently found that inoperative wind turbines tarnish the public's perception of wind energy's efficacy."

Gipe then quotes a 1991 UC Davis study, which explains:

"Our research and that of others show that turbines' non-operation and public fear of wind farm abandonment is still a critical issue, and it therefore behooves the wind industry to return to the 'big three' wind farm sites (Altamont, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi) and to ensure that these areas are operating as efficiently as possible, and all turbine arrays which do not contribute significantly and conspicuously to power production are either replaced or, if necessary, removed."

Altamont's turbines have since 2008 been tethered four months of every year in an effort to protect migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit.   According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, 75 to 110 Golden Eagles, 380 Burrowing Owls, 300 Red-tailed Hawks, and 333 American Kestrels (falcons) are killed by Altamont turbines annually.  A July, 2008 study by the Alameda County Community Development Agency points to 10,000 annual bird deaths from Altamont Pass wind turbines. Audubon calls Altamont, "probably the worst site ever chosen for a wind energy project."  In 2004 the group unsuccessfully challenged renewal applications for 18 of 20 Altamont wind farms.

From its beginnings as a slogan of the anti-nuclear movement, wind energy has always been tied to taxpayer support and government intervention.  Wind farms got their first boost with the Carter-era Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) which encouraged states to enact their own tax incentives.  PURPA also for the first time allowed non-utility energy producers to sell electricity to utilities -- the first step towards a bungled half-privatization of electricity supply which would come two decades hence.

In the 1985 book "Dynamos and Virgins" a San Francisco based PG&E utility heir tells the story of how he joined forces in the 1970s with lawyers from the Environmental Defense Fund.  Together they worked for years to obstruct coal and nuclear power plants until utilities were forced to do business with wind energy suppliers. 

Protest and litigation remain among the foremost competitive tools used by the now multi-billion dollar "alternative" energy industry.  Reviewing the book, Robert Reich, a Kennedy School of Government professor who would later become Clinton's Secretary of Labor, wrote:

"The old paradigms of large-scale production, centralized management, and infinite resources are crumbling.  We are on the verge of a new political economy."     

The new paradigm created by the generation of 1968 is more political and less economy.  Without government intervention, utilities normally avoid wind energy.  Wind's erratic power feed destabilizes power grids and forces engineers to stand by, always ready to fire up traditional generators.  Wind does not fit into an electric supply model made up of steady massive low cost "base load" coal or nuclear plants backed up by on-call natural gas powered "peaker" units which kick in during high demand.  No coal or nuclear power plant has ever been replaced by wind energy.

Although carbon credit schemes often assign profitable carbon credits to wind farm operators based on a theoretical displacement of carbon emitted by coal or natural gas producers, in reality these plants must keep burning to be able to quickly add supply every time the wind drops off.  The formulae do not take into account carbon emitted by idling coal and natural gas plants nor the excess carbon generated by constant fire-up and shut down cycles necessitated to balance fluctuating wind supplies. 

But with PURPA on the federal books, the State of California quickly created "Interim Standard Offer" (ISO4) contracts guaranteeing a purchase price based on utilities' "avoided costs"--launching the first "California Wind Rush".  By 1982 turbines were sprouting from the dusty terrain of Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio.  The ISO4 contracts were written with the assumption that fuel prices would continue to soar. 

But that's not what happened. 

By 1985 oil and natural gas prices were dropping.  This changed the "avoided cost" calculations to the disadvantage of alternative energy producers.  ISO4 contracts no longer guaranteed a price sufficient to attract investment in wind energy.  Construction of new turbines stopped.  As the old ten-year contracts began to expire in the late 1980s, renewals were pegged at much lower avoided cost estimates.  As a result, many California wind developers quickly closed up shop, abandoning their turbines to moan out the one note song. 

Then Enron got involved. 

Building on the foundation laid by PURPA, 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) began the partial deregulation of wholesale -- but not retail -- electricity.  Reich in 1985 had lauded the "crumbling" of "large-scale production (and) centralized management".  He got his wish.  EPAct set the stage for Enron's California energy market manipulations which led to the 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis (D-CA).  The movement started by a PG&E heir led to the bankruptcy of PG&E.  Perhaps this is why some call the children of the 1960s "the destructive generation."

Designed to create a renewable energy trading market, EPAct -- much of which took effect in 1997 -- created a combination of mandates, incentives, and tax credits.  These included:

  • laws requiring large wind producers to be allowed to tie into the existing utility grid
  • "Renewable Portfolio Standards" forcing utilities to buy intermittent wind generated electricity.
  • "Renewable Energy Certificates" tradable separately from the electricity itself to sell to companies needing to meet the portfolio standards.
  • A 10-year "Production Tax Credit" that now equals $.019/kWh
  • Accelerated depreciation allowing tax write-off using an accelerated 5-year double-declining-balance method (40% per year).

Wind capacity had stagnated through the mid-1990s.  But Enron in January, 1997 bought out Tehachapi-based industry leader Zond Corporation - launching the second California Wind Rush. 

Four years later, Enron would implode.  The company which gamed a government-crippled artificial marketplace was deconstructed as poster boy for unbridled capitalism. 

But the tax credits, mandates, and regulations which made Enron possible did not die with it.  Enron Wind's turbine manufacturing subsidiary was purchased by General Electric.  Many of its wind farms went to Florida Light and Power.  By 2009, the US Department of Energy estimates mandate-and-subsidy-driven wind capacity would rise to 28,635mw. 

That much coal or nuclear "capacity" would power 28.635 million homes, but wind "capacity" is calculated assuming perfect wind 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.  At the best wind sites, such as Kamaoa, newly installed turbines generate only 30-40% of "capacity".  At most sites, the figure is 20% or less.  After 30 years of development, wind produces only 2.3% of California's electricity.  

And then there is maintenance.  The turbines installed in the first wind rush were not very reliable.  Some never worked at all.  As the years passed and the elements took their toll, downtime climbed ever closer to 100% and production dwindled to negligible amounts.  Developers often set malfunctioning turbines to "virtual" mode -- blades spinning without generating electricity -- in order to keep oil circulating inside the turbine drive.  Of course this habit also gives passing drivers an illusion of productivity.

Wind developers claim that today's American and European-made turbines are more reliable and longer-lasting than their old-tech predecessors.  But new Chinese turbine manufacturers of untested quality are crowding the marketplace Europe's subsidy-driven turbine meisters are chased from their home markets.

After the debacle of the First California Wind Rush, the European Union had moved ahead of the US on efforts to subsidize "renewable" energy--including a "Feed in Tariff" even more lucrative than the ISO4 contracts.  EU governments provided government-backed securities to support utilities burdened by Feed-in Tariff costs.  But last year, as the national debt of wind-intensive EU countries became unbearable, the EU subsidy bubble burst.

Wind maven Gipe proudly takes a page from the disastrous European playbook, crediting himself with "Almost single-handedly launch(ing) a campaign for Advanced Renewable Tariffs (electricity feed laws) in North America." 

But addressing a Heritage Foundation seminar last May, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, Professor of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid explained what Feed In Tariffs and other wind subsidies did to Spain (as well as Portugal and Greece) got into debt:

"The feed-in tariff... would make (utility) companies go bankrupt eventually.  So...the government give back the money in the future -- when (they) are not going to be in the office any more.  Slowly the market does not want to have these securities that they are selling.  Right now there is a debt related to these renewable energies that nobody knows how it is going to be paid -- of 16 Billion Euros." 

In early 2009 the Socialist government of Spain reduced alternative energy subsidies by 30%.  Calzada continues:

"At that point the whole pyramid collapsed.  They are firing thousands of people.  BP closed down the two largest solar production plants in Europe.  They are firing between 25,000 and 40,000 people...."

"What do we do with all this industry that we have been creating with subsidies that now is collapsing?  The bubble is too big.  We cannot continue pumping enough money.  ...The President of the Renewable Industry in Spain (wrote a column arguing that) ...the only way is finding other countries that will give taxpayers' money away to our industry to take it and continue maintaining these jobs."

That "other country" is the United States of America.

Waxman-Markey seems dead, and Europe's southern periphery is bankrupt.  But the wind-subsidy proposals being floated in Congress suggest that American political leaders have yet to understand that "green power" means generating electricity by burning dollars.

Andrew Walden edits

Page Printed from: at February 15, 2010 - 08:07:14 AM CST