Thursday, April 30, 2009

Understanding energy options post AGW dismissal

Another in a fine series of articles by Lawrence Solomon contains these wise words:
  • Yes, it's important to identify the correct problems, and the non-problems, not just on global warming but on energy policy.
  • More nuclear, wind and solar as a solution to high fuel prices and oil imports? Not a chance, at least not anytime soon.
  • First, nuclear, wind and solar cannot today substitute for oil, which primarily fuels cars and is a feedstock for plastics. Nuclear, wind and solar are primarily used to produce electricity
  • In large part, nuclear, wind and solar are uneconomic for the same reason: They are inflexible technologies that cannot be dispatched.
  • Unlike other methods of generating electricity — from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas or from falling water — nuclear, wind and solar systems cannot moderate their output to meet society's fluctuating demands for power.
  • ...the world's oil reserves have increased by 36% over the past two decades, excluding the massive unconventional reserves in Canada's tar sands and America's oil shale.
  • As for American dependence on hostile countries, this is more myth: America's only suppliers that could be considered hostile are Venezuela, which meets about 6% of U.S. needs, and Russia, which meets 2%.
  • The entire Persian Gulf meets only 12% of U.S. needs, and that 12% comes from three allies: Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
  • ...decades of environmental pressure has led to immense improvements in coal and other fossil fuel technologies, making them no less virtuous than many renewable fuels.
Pesky things, facts.  Totally get in the way of a perfectly good ecomyth.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where's Walden?

An ugly illness that afflicts liberalism is:
  • ...the patronizing puritanical attitude of those who think that material prosperity is a dead end and that they know better than people who do seek prosperity.
  • This is the Luddite snobbishness that leads liberals to shut down opportunities for those in need, barring the trade that third world countries need for their economic improvement, and preaching self-destructive anti-materialistic nonsense that ends up hurting everyone in the service of allegedly higher goals
And the wellspring of much contemporary liberalism is the seminal work of Thoreau: much revered but seldom actually read by those who embrace his environmentalism and ideology.

Thoreau, whose name is invoked as part of the essential catechism of liberalism,
is thoroughly critiqued in this recent essay:
  • I thought I would delight in the eloquent prose of a journey of self-discovery and celebration of life.

  • Instead, it turns out to be ... pseudo-sophisticated claptrap; a merciless collection of false profundity and Puritanism.

  • Thoreau's ignorance of economics is absolute. His hostility to material prosperity and spiritual invocations to "simplify" are nothing more than the old asceticism of Savonarola transplanted into a quaint country cabin.

  • Not just ignorant, but ignorant in that colossally self-righteous way reserved only for youths.

  • He routinely utters the most sophomoric riddles and paradoxes designed to infect us with his reactionary preference for the allegedly more meaningful life of savages and rural villages, while ignoring the ravages of poverty, disease, illiteracy, ignorance, loneliness, monotony, hierarchy, and darkness that such a life actually represents.

  • There is no doubting that materialism can be a cause of spiritual emptiness and no doubt there are a lot of people who "starve for want of luxuries."

  • But it is always easy to regard another man's things as superficial and another man's pursuits as greedy, while one's own belongings have sentimental value and one's own pursuits are profound (or at least harmless indulgences).

  • It is even easier for self-righteous 30 year olds to regard older men with families as leading lives of desperation, while impressing themselves with the depth of their spiritual access.

Ecomyths persist and propagate not out of pure ignorance but from the imposition of dogma that is inherently ignorant is its composition and construction (e.g. see this manifestation which is a direct translation of Thoreau ideology in a contemporary setting).

Thoreau and Rachel Carson are emblematic of a presumptive moral superiority within contemporary environmentalism: their continued status as revolutionary icons underscores the intellectual poverty of environmentalism as an ideology of real change.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dearth Day, Illustrated

Several sites have posted
this image (or provided links to it): it provides a graphic illustrating of the relative effects of ideology on prosperity.

Korea is one country culturally, in language and geography. All that divides poverty in the North, from prosperity in the South, is prevailing ideology.

Poverty is the default condition of all societies. It is wealth that must be created.

Without wealth, there is no environmental protection, no social justice, no sustainability. We can manage and alter the software of capitalism, but its hardware is non-negotiable, a fact that eludes many ideological environmentalists

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Belief in utopian tyrannies

There is common sense environmentalism, the kind most people practice and identify with:

  • don't waste things unnecessarily
  • value wildlife and nature
  • practice conservation to lower your own bills
  • don't litter or pollute but dispose of waste safely
  • seek a healthy environment, especially for your kids
This is environmentalism characterized by an awareness and appreciation for the natural world balanced with the practical economics of survival and personal security. It is an environmentalism enabled by the general wealth and well-being of the society that practices a responsibility for its own lifestyle.

In contrast, there is ideological environmentalism. The environmentalism of Earth Day, of AGW advocacy and as a political movement. This is environmentalism as an ideological alternative to capitalism, an
ideology of believers, of moralism and social engineering to achieve a vision of low carbon, low consumption, conformity with strict stasist regulations developed and enforced by the "enlightened" elite to save the planet.

This is the ideology of the
  • The believer...begins with an acute sense of alienation from his own society. A secularist, he nevertheless yearns for redemption, so finds a "secular shariah" in any totalist world... "where no individuality exists, and where human estrangement is thus impossible."
  • The believer does not seek truth, he seeks submission to a movement.
  • The price for this cultural orphan's acceptance in his adoptive "vast community" is the amputation of residual emotional ties to his own. Henceforth, the believer must see the flaws of his own society as the keys to all the world's evils. Once inducted, losing membership in the community becomes unthinkable.
  • And so he stops thinking. Logical and moral contradictions disappear. For now he needn't "know" what is plain to see about the ever more oppressive real-world effects — the suffocation of free speech, the arbitrary imprisonment, gulags, terror bombings and stonings — of the utopian system he commits to.
Zealotry is a universal trait of all stasist ideologies. Dogma, the corruption of education and the use of mass media to inoculate the moral pre-determinism of key constructs are the tools of all totalitarian ideologies. Sadly, contemporary environmentalism fits this description.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Warning Signs: The Annual Green Orgy

When somebody writes something and you can't think how to paraphrase or supplement it in a manner that would improve on their words, it is better to just quote them, cite the source, and enjoy their words:
  • On Earth Day we will have been engulfed by the avalanche of "Green" propaganda that preceded it, fills the day, and then continues relentlessly thereafter.
  • Much of the foundation of the environmental movement is pure lies, mind boggling distortions of questionable "science", and a thin veneer for the entire purpose of environmentalism, the imposing of a one-world agenda for the enrichment of a few who dream of a monopolistic control of the world's resources and its human work force.
  • It would be managed for the uber-wealthy—an unelected group of elites, selected "world leaders" and politicians, plus a vast diplomatic corps backed up by the coercive might of police and armies answering not to sovereign nations, but the "new world order" exemplified by the United Nations.
  • The real problems in the world are largely tied to poverty and the oppression and corruption that facilitate it, but the United Nations is mostly composed of the very nations responsible for poverty, racism, sexism, and other ancient ills of mankind. It is a useless global doppelganger.
  • On Earth Day you will hear all manner of claims that the Earth is in severe environmental danger due to the human population, but what you won't hear or read about is the 2009 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators...
  • This year's report notes that no American or Western European city ranks among the top 50 cities in the world for air pollution....
  • Earth Day is a lie from start to finish.
  • It seeks to limit access to more and more land and ocean areas, removing their vital resources of coal, oil, and natural gas from use by a human population that depends on the energy they generate.
  • The Earth Day orgy of lies will come and go, but the battle with this insidious movement, directed from the citadel of hatred called the United Nations, goes on.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What the Tea Parties Represent

Since the mainstream media in North America has sought to either (a) ignore or (b) mis-represent the wave of Tea Parties that took place this past week, I thought it would be useful for those both inside and outside of North America to get a little heads up on the transformation of politics that has started and will gain increasing momentum as stasist edicts continue to vex people's common sense:
  • The protests were about prohibitively high tax rates, yes. But they were also about exponentially increasing debt; the punishment of hard work and success through confiscatory government policy; the replacement of age-old American equality of opportunity by government-mandated equality of outcome; and — perhaps most importantly — the current attempts by liberal politicians to inject government into the daily life decisions of ordinary American citizens.
Stasis is all about equality of outcome: doesn't matter what you do or who you are, everyone gets the same result.  Which history shows is varying degrees of poverty.
Dynamism is all about equity of opportunity: each person deserves the opportunity to maximize their abilities and efforts and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Some will, some won't: society as a whole prospers, wealth accumulates differentially, but wealth does accumulate.

why serious and persistent doubts remain

One of the aspects I respect most about Richard Lindzen's many articles on climate is his ability to transcribe the science into terms accessible to all. This feature forms the central premise for one of his latest papers:
  • In science, there is an art to simplifying complex problems so that they can be meaningfully analyzed. If one oversimplifies, the analysis is meaningless. If one doesn't simplify, then one often cannot proceed with the analysis.
  • When it comes to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, it is clear that many approaches are highly oversimplified. This includes the simple 'blanket' picture of the greenhouse effect .... We will approach the issue more seriously in order to see whether one can reach reasonably rigorous conclusions. It turns out that one can.
  • ...we present a physically correct view of the greenhouse effect, and show how this view enables us to use modeling results and observations in order to estimate a bound on the greenhouse contribution to recent surface warming of about 1/3.
  • This is, indeed, somewhat less than the iconic claim in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers of Working Group 1 which
    claimed that it was likely that most of the recent warming was due to man. The present estimate is more constrained, and thereby suggests a lower climate sensitivity than is commonly found in current models.
  • Section 3 discusses the origin of the contradicted claim as well as its relation to claims of high climate sensitivity. It turns out that far more than the iconic claim is needed for the sensitivity required for alarm.
  • The main point of this paper is simply to illustrate why serious and persistent doubts remain concerning the danger of anthropogenic global warming despite the frequent claims that 'the science is settled.'
Often when I give presentations on climate change as a pre-dominant ecomyth, I am asked for referrals to sources and readings, especially on the supposed "settled" science enveloped by the ideological dogma. This paper by Lindzen offers an excellent study point for anyone interested in either AGW theory and/or the skepticism it fosters.

While this paper, also by Lindzen, puts the issue of climate change into the larger perspective of environmentalism and ideology.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Not evil, just wrong

By the time students in Ontario get to my second year class in resource management and environment, many have seen the Al Gore film Inconvenient Truth several times -- most not by choice, but as part of their high school indoctrination.  I say indoctrination as few even know that any films with a contrary or alternate perspective exist: fewer still have seen The Great Global Warming Swindle or had its existence mentioned in those same high school classes.
A new documentary seeks to rectify this situation.  Entitled Not Evil, Just Wrong the film seeks to receive the same exposure and promotion within the educational system that Gore's awful film benefited from.
This may seem to be a far reach and naive optimism.  But grass-roots opposition to stasist dogma is experiencing a new revival.  The people, it appears do not wish to be fooled all of the time and want to express their displeasure.  It might be hard for constituents to connect with their elected representatives, busy on state business as they are, but news travels fast.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who really killed the pirate radio stations?

Pirate radio stations off the British coast were not put out of business by the right-wing establishment, but by the interventionist, stasist, socialists of Harold Wilson's government.

And what is the relevance of this arcane piece of British history? The fact that unless we are prepared to learn from our history, we are condemned to repeat it:
Revisionist history is a staple of academics who confuse their ideological preferences with analysis: in simple terms state control, centralized planning and stasist governance has never resulted in a sustainable economy any where, ever in the history of the world. The only debating point is how much damage, to whom and at what cost (see, Soviet Union -- Stalin, UK - Wilson, Zimbabwe -- Mugabe, N.Korea -- Jong).

The biggest problem with most democratically elected stasists, is they seek to act like dictators: imperious and invincible. The biggest problem with most dictators is they want to be Napoleon. They forget that they are not Napoleon and they lack his genius. Moreover, without understanding history they fail to realize that despite his acknowledged genius, Napoleon failed (as, ultimately, did Alexander, Attila and Genghis Khan). Even when headed by a genius, dictatorships fail. Democratically elected demagogues fail just as ignominiously. All that's left to assess is the cost that their interference in daily life has wrought

Follow up:
Here is an excellent discussion of the difference between the dynamist, free-enterpise perspective and that of stasist, interventionists.

  • When you drill down, the conflict between conscientious free-marketers and interventionists is not about facts or about what people are likely to do. It is about values - what each regards as the way things should be.
  • The core premise supporting the free-market is individual rights.
  • By contrast, the assumption of the interventionist is that society and the state take precedence over the individual. It is the group that counts and has rights.
Individual responsibility and freedoms, versus collective entitlement and state censure. The former results in prosperity: the latter in poverty.

As Hayek explained so unequivocally, poverty is the default condition of all societies. It is wealth that has to be created. Individuals, not governments, create wealth.

Government intervention is not the moral high road, it is the expressway to serfdom.