Environment

Young skulls full of green mush

As any visitor to Cuba will tell you, slogans like "Hasta la victoria siempre" (towards victory always) or "Socialismo or muerte" (socialism or death) are dotted here and there all over the Caribbean island for fear that the long-suffering local population might lose sight of the ill-fated goals of the communist revolution that took place there under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1959. The way things are going in France right now, pockets of little Cubas are very likely to sprout up all over the country as the summit on climate change in Copenhagen next month looms larger and larger. I personally know of one such Cuban-like ideological treadmill: the High School in Lyon, France’s second-largest city, where I am completing my third year as a teacher of Anglo-American Studies.

About two months ago, straight from the French Department of Education came a diktat to the effect that all public schools in the country had to organize teaching activities aimed at promoting so-called environmentally-friendly sustainable development, i.e. socialism. I have been asked to participate. Needless to say that I have sustainably declined.

One of the ideas some of my colleagues have come up with, though, is to translate the speeches President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are expected to make in Denmark next month, and to flash up bits of the speeches on large TV screens dotted here and there all over the school for fear that the students might lose sight of the ill-fated goals of the green revolution that is currently taking place in France under the leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy. With so much hot air coming out of the screens, I guess temperatures will rise exponentially all over the school and melt what little critical thinking is left in the French education system.

As the episode illustrates, descriptions of President Sarkozy as a conservative are misleading. On global warming, as in many other policy areas, Sarkozy is just about as conservative as Newt Gingrich sitting on a couch with Speaker Pelosi touting misguided bipartisan efforts to save the planet.

The green revolution currently going on in France is being every bit as destructive of individual freedom and responsibility as the ominous events of 1789 there, or, for that matter, those in Cuba more than 150 years later. In other words, welcome to the new land of scorching propaganda, brainwashing, intellectual goose-stepping and, I almost forgot, youth duly decked out in Guevara accessories and apparel as the latest fashion dictates.

Are you sure you want to be next, America?

Udall still slippery on energy

Sen. Mark Udall, D-CO, is reported to be twisting arms for Senate votes on the economically ruinous cap-and-trade scheme already passed in the U.S. House. Hollywood leftie Henry Waxman’s is one of the names on the House bill, and few could name a Member of Congress who deserves more “credit” for laws burdening the U.S. economy and restricting the individual rights of U.S. citizens. Leftist Members of Congress like Udall are exempt from mainstream media criticism for conflicts of interest. However, Udall has one here in spades. His wife, Maggie Fox, is CEO and president of something called Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by Al Gore with money from his global warming horror movie. Typical of Big Enviro’s big bucks “charitable” [i.e., organized under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code] organizations, the Gore/Fox alliance has a companion lobbying organization, the Climate Protection Action Fund. Fox is CEO and president of that as well.

Gore is reported already to have amassed a huge fortune in a market for trading carbon credits, and that’s before any law has been enacted limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the purported reason for any such limits — the claims that the climate is warming and that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from human activities is the cause — has been reduced to pseudoscience making mischief comparable to eugenics.

Just for the sake of changing the course of the argument, however, why not inquire of Udall and others in the global warming camp as to what sources of, say, electricity they propose as alternatives? “Renewables” like solar and wind is the stock answer. After decades of subsidies, and now laws mandating their use, these sources remain well under one percent of national electric output, and they obviously cannot run 24-7 even when they work.

The correct answer, of course, is nuclear. Udall has whispered that word somewhat approvingly. However, deep skepticism is warranted since most of Udall’s energy talk comes out of the Big Enviro side of his mouth. Despite its unequalled, half-century record for safety, Udall always raises that “issue” and can be expected to hide behind it when the chips are down and Big Enviro says, “No way, Mark.”

Click here for my op-ed on this subject in The Denver Post on July 27, and click here for the senator’s limp response. It’s time, as they say, to get down to brass tacks, so here’s an open letter:

Dear Sen. Udall: Many friends and I were happy to read your letter-to-the-editor in The Denver Post on July 29, responding to my op-ed published two days earlier. I had been attempting communication with your office for nearly eight weeks before I received two e-mails, slightly different but with substantially the same “boilerplate” I referred to in the op-ed.

It should surprise no one that you have supported WIPP. It commenced operations about two months after you took your seat in the U.S. House and now holds thousands of tons of TRU waste from your congressional district (Rocky Flats). My reference to Udall family complicity in delaying WIPP and adding huge sums to its cost was about events going back more than a decade before you were in Congress and needs no further elaboration here.

However, I’m reminded of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. I find at this website that your father was a sponsor. That was 27 years ago. My understandings are that, under this legislation, utilities (read, ratepayers) have now remitted about $30 billion to the federal fund it created; about $10 billion of that has been spent, largely or entirely on the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada; not an ounce of spent fuel has left temporary storage; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now intends that the Yucca Mountain project be deep-sixed.

I reminded readers of my op-ed, “Preserving the myth that radioactive waste cannot be safely disposed has been a major goal of organized ‘environmentalists’ for decades.” A Denver Post article on Aug. 25 quotes you on Yucca Mountain, “a dead project.” Have you just rolled over and died for Sen. Reid?

Your claims of concern about anthropogenic global warming are not credible without a great deal more support for expanded nuclear power than this from your l-t-e: “I am more than open to expanding our use of nuclear power and recently said so on the floor of the Senate.” Frankly, sir, that’s not even a starter. The aforementioned Denver Post article about the bipartisan photo-op you and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., held in front of trees killed years ago by pine beetles has a terrific headline, “Udall, McCain united in call for nuclear power,” but I hope you’ll excuse my skepticism after experiencing a decade or more of safety-shrouded doublespeak on the subject by Bill Richardson.

Perhaps as a red herring, your letter raised cost as an issue unfavorable to nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are delivering electricity cheaper than any other source today. Your “cleaner sources,” solar and wind, are the choices that have failed for decades on account of cost whenever they aren’t underwritten by direct government subsidies and/or laws like Colorado’s essentially mandatingtheir use without regard to cost. Uncertainty associated with the licensing process, and “leadership” such as you are getting from Sen. Reid, are the primary reasons I’d suggest for any reluctance by utility company boards and executives to build nuclear power plants we need.

Lastly, about global warming. People chasing money mostly from government grants and agency appropriations have now spent many tens of billions on “proving” that global warming continues, is a very bad thing, and is largely the result of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activities. Others who simply observe the world around us shake our heads in disbelief, wondering what planet you and these researchers live on. The climate is cooling, not warming, and the researchers among the crowd laughably claiming consensus about warming can’t make their expensive, complicated – and might I also suggest falsified in some cases? – models jibe with real world measurements.

I believe global warming is to the late 20th and early 21st centuries what the pseudoscience eugenics was to the early 20th. For a cogent discussion of eugenics and the historic mischief of politicized science, look here.

Isn’t it well past time for you to level with the people you represent and tell them the truth? I wouldn’t suggest that’s a decision that can be reached and implemented easily. You have been prominent among global warming alarmists for a long time. Further, I acknowledge the awkwardness of, uh, breakfast table talk and all if this were juxtaposed against your wife’s prominent position in the propaganda end of Al Gore’s carbon-cap-and-trade crusade.

But wouldn’t a mind change now be better than having most of one’s constituents look back in a couple of years, wondering what kind of fool would defy what was so obvious and vote to accelerate his country’s economic tailspin? You got elected to lead us toward sound public policy. In my experience, that’s occasionally neither easy nor comfortable. Honesty, however, sure makes for better sleeping.

I look forward to receiving a reply that addresses directly what is said in this letter. Respectfully, John Dendahl

Bag madness in Seattle

Here we go again. Leave it to government, in this case the City of Seattle, to find new and creative ways to reach into your pocketbook and grab more of your hard-earned cash. Recently, the Seattle City Council approved a 20-cent tax/fee (subject to voter approval today) on every plastic or paper bag you use to take your groceries home. Years ago, in the early stages of the environmental movement we were advised that the production of paper bags kills trees and emits high levels of greenhouse gases and that’s not good. Soon thereafter, strong, lightweight, low-cost, water resistant plastic bags came along years ago to help save trees, a renewable resource by the way. As the environmental movement gained popularity it was determined that plastic bags were also an environmental hazard since they are not biodegradable.

So now, thanks to the watchdog efforts of the City of Seattle, we are urged to use cloth grocery bags to save our environment and avoid this new tax/fee. As more and more citizens move to cloth bags they’ll need to clean them regularly, with detergent. That, of course, is a problem too. Many detergents, we are told, affect the quality of our water supply and cause algae blooms, which can also greatly reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and cause large fish kills.

So what’s the solution? Should we buy only the groceries we need for our next meal and consume them before we leave the grocery store? Voila, no bags necessary. But wait, that sounds like a restaurant. And surely we are aware of the many public health and environmental health hazards created by restaurants, aren’t we?

This all seems like a vicious cycle. What shall we do? What shall we do?

There should be little argument that we can all be more environmentally aware than we have been in recent decades. The use of biodegradable plastic, environmentally friendly laundry detergents, and making every effort to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases will go a long way toward reversing what many believe is an alarming trend.

But the biggest concern many citizens have right now, an understandably so, is the insatiable appetite at all levels of government for new taxes and fees…even if it is disguised as an important government intervention program to protect our environment.

Before you know it, some local government will invent a tax on citizens who choose to install a home security system or a fine if you don’t shovel your sidewalk, even though the City may have stopped plowing your street 5 or 6 years ago. Sounds familiar…did the City of Colorado Springs already do that? Yes, on top of the highly controversial storm water fee that about ten thousand citizens have refused to pay. Then, perhaps, a misguided, fiscally irresponsible and liberal Governor will revoke the property tax exemption on seniors on fixed incomes. You say “That will never happen?” Well that happened in Colorado this year!

So what’s next? Here are some ideas…

• a tax on unnecessary, luxury auto accessories (back-up cameras; sun roofs; CD players; automatic, remote or keyless door locks; satellite radios; more than two cup holders; low tire inflation indicators; electronic rearview mirrors; back seat DVD players; etc)

• a fee for each child who uses a swing, practices soccer, football or baseball in a public park...or a fee for mothers who stroll a toddler through a public park

• an annual mileage tax (in addition to the excessive taxes we pay on each gallon of fuel)

• a tax on ownership of household pets, or

• forcing military members to carry insurance to pay for their own war injuries

I know there are some elected officials saying right now “Why didn’t I think of that?” while others may be saying “Already thought of that, but do you think we can get away with it?” Ridiculous you say? I couldn’t agree more…and so is a tax on “paper or plastic?”

How about, from this day forward, electing only those city councilmen, county commissioners, state legislators, and United States Senators and Congressmen who pledge no new taxes or fees for at least their next term in office; those who pledge to support growing infrastructure and national security needs only through thorough elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in government spending and programs, and not new taxes? How about not electing those who may say “no new taxes”, but by their records have already proven they cannot deliver on those pledges…those who will say ANYTHING to get re-elected. If they have a tax and spend record, let’s get rid of them all...regardless of their political affiliation. Enough is, enough…throw the bums out!

In the morning we'll know if the citizens of Seattle voted to support or defeat this grocery bag tax/fee. If they support it, let’s call them enablers…feeding the habit of greedy elected officials who continue to tax and spend like there is no tomorrow. Some argue that unless we act now to protect our environment there will be no tomorrow…others argue that if our governments, at all levels, continue their reckless spending spree the greatest nation of Earth will no longer be the greatest nation on Earth. Count on it.

Own a house? Beware climate bill

If you will ever consider buying or selling a house, you need to beware of the Democrats' "cap and trade" bill that recently passed the House of Representatives. It could dramatically lower the value of your property and/or make it very difficult for you to sell it without very expensive and time-consuming upgrades. (Story linked here, with full text below.) They call it a national "retrofit" policy. If it becomes law, you will not be permitted to sell your property until it meets federal energy standards that Congress has not seen fit to define.

In this bill Congress asserts enormous additional (and unconstitutional) power for the federal government, but delegates the practical details to the environmental zealots and other bureaucrats in the EPA and in state governments. Thus nobody in particular can be held accountable for requiring building retrofits that could bankrupt many homeowners and businesses.

Congress is unleashing regulatory pit bulls on unsuspecting citizens while preserving its own ability to deny any wrongdoing. Politicians do know how to cover their posteriors while doing great damage.

If you have ever sold a house, you know how much stress is involved, especially in a weak housing market such as we already have. This bill is all we need to destroy the market and force us to visit Congress with torches and pitchforks.

If the Senate also passes this abomination, President Obama will sign it. But you still have a little time left to influence the Senate vote. I suggest you get to it pronto.

And be sure to remember this insanity in November, 2010.

CNSNews.com Democrats’ Cap-and-Trade Bill Creates ‘Retrofit’ Policy for Homes and Businesses Wednesday, July 01, 2009 By Matt Cover

(CNSNews.com) – The 1,400-page cap-and-trade legislation pushed through by House Democrats contains a new federal policy that residential, commercial, and government buildings be retrofitted to increase energy efficiency, leaving it up to the states to figure out exactly how to do that.

This means that homeowners, for example, could be required to retrofit their homes to meet federal "green" guidelines in order to sell their homes, if the cap-and-trade bill becomes law.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, directs the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement a national policy for residential and commercial buildings. The purpose of such a strategy – known as the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) – would be to "facilitate" the retrofitting of existing buildings nationwide.

"The Administrator shall develop and implement, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, standards for a national energy and environmental building retrofit policy for single-family and multi-family residences," the bill reads.

It continues: "The purpose of the REEP program is to facilitate the retrofitting of existing buildings across the United States."

The bill leaves the definition of a retrofit and the details of the REEP program up to the EPA. However, states are responsible for ensuring that the government’s plans are carried out, whatever the final details may entail.

"States shall maintain responsibility for meeting the standards and requirements of the REEP program," the bill says.

Insanity of higher CAFE standards

Here we are again, faced with another cramdown policy by the misguided but ever hard-charging President Obama . This time it’s raising fuel-economy standards. Instead of waiting until 2020 to increase the standards, now the President is saying 2016. I think he really wants all the car companies to go out of business. Now before you criticize me by saying I’m not a friend of the environment, let me say that I am a conservationist but at the same time I’m not in the business of making decisions rooted in untruth. Let’s take a look at what previous fuel standards have accomplished. Since 1975 we have had fuel efficiency standards, but they have done little to help reduce carbon emissions. In his book Spin Free Economics, Narmin Behravesh demonstrates the inefficiency of these standards. Here is an excerpt from his book:

    “To begin with, they (fuel efficiency standards) don’t necessarily reduce total fuel consumption. In fact, more fuel efficient cars can, perversely, encourage more driving. Similarly, while the mpg per ton of cars has improved about 20 percent in the United States in the last two decades, average car weight has risen ( heavier vans and SUBs now account for half of all light-vehicle sales, compared with 20 percent in the 1980’s), so the mpg per vehicle has actually fallen about 10 percent.”

Wait a minute here; is Behravesh saying that fuel efficiency has decreased? That is exactly what he is saying. Is not the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? So if the goal is to decrease carbon emissions would it not make sense to do something different instead of the same thing over and over?

I’m not writing to propose an alternative to the fuel standards, but to show the ineptness of the government’s policy. But perhaps a solution to not only this problem but many others would be that of a consumption tax. Talk about fairness, this eliminates the IRS and you only pay for what you use. But I digress. The point is, insanity is not good policy.