Friday, December 19, 2008

Causes Of Global Warming: What Do We Really Know?

The following article expresses the opinion of two professional geologists on the issue of man-caused global warming and of course, what some people want to call "climate change". I agree with their conclusions.

Causes of Global Warming, Are We Certain? (.pdf) November 28, 2007 The Professional Geologist
The November/December, 2007 issue of The Professional Geologist has contains an article titled “Causes of Global Warming, Are We Certain?” by Robert G. Corbett and Gary Dannemiller. Found on pages 12 through 15 it contains a contrarian perspective on the idea that burning fossil fuels makes significant contributions to global warming.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Have We Been Misled About Past Carbon Dioxide Levels?

There are many reasons why atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, from any source, do not control the Earth's climate. However, most of us assume that measures and estimates of past levels of CO2 are accurate. New evidence shows that may not be the case. If this is true, why have we been misled? If we have been misled about the temperature history, and there is much evidence suggesting we have been, why not historical CO2 levels?

CO2 is not causing warming or climate change. It is not a toxic substance or a pollutant.
Pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today. How and why we are told otherwise?

By Dr. Tim Ball Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How many failed predictions, discredited assumptions and evidence of incorrect data are required before an idea loses credibility? CO2 is not causing warming or climate change. It is not a toxic substance or a pollutant. Despite this President Elect Obama met with Al Gore on December 9 no doubt to plan a climate change strategy based on these problems. They make any plan to reduce of CO2 completely unnecessary.

  • Proponents of human induced warming and climate change told us that an increase in CO2 precedes and causes temperature increases. They were wrong.

  • They told us the late 20th century was the warmest on record. They were wrong.

  • They told us, using the infamous “hockey stick” graph, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. They were wrong.

  • They told us global temperatures would increase through 2008 as CO2 increased. They were wrong.

  • They told us Arctic ice would continue to decrease in area through 2008. They were wrong.

  • They told us October 2008 was the second warmest on record. They were wrong.

  • They told us 1998 was the warmest year on record in the US. They were wrong it was 1934.

  • They told us current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record. They are wrong.

  • They told us pre-industrial atmospheric levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts per million (ppm) lower than the present 385 ppm. They are wrong. This last is critical because the claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2 and have throughout the Industrial era. In fact, pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today, but how did they conclude they were lower?

In a paper submitted to the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski explains,
The basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false.”

Ice cores provide the historic record and data collected at Mauna Loa the recent record. Both records are drastically modified to produce a smooth continuous curve with little variability. This was necessary to confirm the evidence falsely concluded from many 19th century measures that pre-industrial levels were approximately 280 ppm and didn’t vary much. So how did they engineer the smooth curves and ignore the fact the 19th century record shows a global average of 335 ppm and considerable variability from year to year.

Most people don’t know that thousands of direct measures of atmospheric CO2 were made beginning in 1812. Scientists took the readings with calibrated instruments and precise measurements as the work of Ernst-Georg Beck has thoroughly documented. Guy Stewart Callendar was an earlier visitor to these records. He rejected most of the records including 69% of the 19th century records and only selected certain records that established the pre-industrial level as 280 ppm. Here is a plot of the records with those Callendar selections circled.
It is clear how only low readings were chosen. Also notice how the slope and trend is changed compared to the entire record.

As Jaworowski notes,
“The notion of low pre-industrial CO2 atmospheric level, based on such poor knowledge, became a widely accepted Holy Grail of climate warming models. The modelers ignored the evidence from direct measurements of CO2 in atmospheric air indicating that in 19th century its average concentration was 335 ppmv.”

Beck recently confirmed Jaworowski’s research. A September 2008 article in Energy and Environment examined the readings in great detail and validated the 19th century findings. In a devastating conclusion Beck writes,
Modern greenhouse hypothesis is based on the work of G.S. Callendar and C.D. Keeling, following S. Arrhenius, as latterly popularized by the IPCC. Review of available literature raise the question if these authors have systematically discarded a large number of valid technical papers and older atmospheric CO2 determinations because they did not fit their hypothesis? Obviously they use only a few carefully selected values from the older literature, invariably choosing results that are consistent with the hypothesis of an induced rise of CO2 in air caused by the burning of fossil fuel.

So the pre-industrial level is at least 50 ppm higher than the level put into the computer models that produce all future climate predictions. The models also incorrectly assume uniform atmospheric global distribution and virtually no variability of CO2 from year to year.
Beck found, “Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942 the latter showing more than 400 ppm.” Here is a plot from Beck comparing 19th century readings with ice core and Mauna Loa data.

Compare the variability of the atmospheric measures with the smooth line of the ice core record. Eliminating extreme readings and then applying a long term smoothing average achieved this. When smoothing is done on the scale of the ice core record a great deal of information is lost. Elimination of high readings prior to the smoothing makes the loss even greater. Also note that as with all known records the temperature changes before the CO2, in this record by approximately 5 years.

Elimination of data is also done with the Mauna Loa and other atmospheric readings, which can vary up to 600 ppm in the course of a day. Beck explains how Charles Keeling established the Mauna Loa readings by using the lowest readings of the afternoon. He ignored natural sources, a practice that continues. Beck presumes Keeling decided to avoid these low level natural sources by establishing the station at 4000 meters (m) up the volcano. As Beck notes “Mauna Loa does not represent the typical atmospheric CO2 on different global locations but is typical only for this volcano at a maritime location in about 4000 m altitude at that latitude.” (Beck, 2008, “50 Years of Continuous Measurement of CO2 on Mauna Loa” Energy and Environment, Vol 19, No.7.)
Keeling’s son continues to operate the Mauna Loa facility and as Beck notes, “owns the global monopoly of calibration of all CO2 measurements.” Since the young Keeling is a co-author of the IPCC reports they accept the version that Mauna Loa is representative of global readings and that they reflect an increase since pre-industrial levels.

The Ice Core record
Jaworowski estimates the ice core readings are at least 20% low. That is more reasonable given the CO2 levels for 600 millions years using geologic evidence. Here the current level of 385 ppm is the lowest in the entire record and only equaled by a period between 315 and 270 million years ago (mya).

There are many problems with the ice core record. It takes years, sometimes up to 80, for air to be trapped in the ice so the question is what is actually being trapped and measured? Melt water moving through the ice especially when the ice is close to the surface can contaminate the air bubble. Bacteria form in the ice releasing gases even in 500,000-year-old ice at great depth. Under the pressure below 50m ice changes from brittle to plastic and begins to flow. The layers formed with each year of snowfall gradually disappear as the ice layers meld and compress. A considerable depth of ice covering a long period of time is required to obtain a single reading at depth.

Further evidence of the effects of smoothing and the artificially low ice core readings are provided by measurements of stomata. Stomata are the small openings on leaves that vary directly with the amount of atmospheric CO2. A comparison of a stomata record with the ice core record for a 2000-year period illustrates the issue.

Stomata data on the right show the higher readings and variability when compared to the excessively smoothed ice core record on the left. This aligns quantitatively with the 19th century measurements as Jaworowski and Beck assert. A Danish stomata record shows levels of 333 ppm 9400 years ago and 348 ppm 9600 years ago.

The EPA is planning to declare CO2 a toxic substance and a pollutant. Governments are preparing to create carbon taxes and draconian restrictions that will cripple economies for a completely non-existent problem. It appears that a multitude of failed predictions, discredited assumptions and pieces of incorrect data are required before an idea loses credibility. Credibility should have collapsed but political control and insanity prevail. (4)

“Dr. Tim Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as an advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition, Friends of Science and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.”
Older articles by Dr. Tim Ball

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Calls For Action On Global Warming: Is He Crazy?

Here it is a mere two weeks after the Election and Obama is already talking nonsense about carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. He is proposing what is essentially an increase in taxes (we all know any increased cost of producing energy, i.e. carbon credits, or cap and trade) will be passed on to the consumer. This will not just harm those producing electricity from the burning of coal, it will cost everyone, substantially. He is then proposing to take that money, tax-payer's money, and use it to fund the development of "alternative" forms of energy.

It is clear that Obama has fallen for the myth of man-caused global warming, hook, line, and sinker. This does not bode well for the future of Obama's reign in office.

Obama seeks immediate action to curb emissions
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(11-18) 17:46 PST LOS ANGELES -- In his first speech on global warming since winning the election, President-elect Barack Obama promised Tuesday to set stringent limits on greenhouse gases, saying the need is too urgent for delay.
Many observers had expected Obama to avoid tackling such a complex, contentious issue early in his administration. But in videotaped comments to the Governors' Global Climate Summit in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, he called for immediate action.

"Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all," Obama said. "Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high, the consequences too serious."

He repeated his campaign promise to create a system that limits carbon dioxide emissions and forces companies to pay for the right to emit the gas. Using the money collected from that system, Obama plans to invest $15 billion each year in alternative energy. That investment - in solar, wind and nuclear power, as well as advanced coal technology - will create jobs at a time of economic turmoil, he said.

"It will ... help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating 5 million new green jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced," Obama said.
Many people listening to Obama's speech Tuesday had waited years to hear it.
Schwarzenegger 'very happy'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger convened the Global Climate Summit along with the governors of Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin - states that have been developing their own global warming policies rather than waiting for federal action. Schwarzenegger clashed repeatedly with the Bush administration on climate policy and complained that the White House was dragging its feet on a looming crisis. He told the conference Tuesday that he welcomed a new approach from Washington and will work with Obama.

"Of course I am very, very happy," Schwarzenegger said. "This is so important for our country, because we have been the biggest polluters in the world, and it is about time that we as a country recognize that and that we work together with other nations in order to fight global warming."

Obama touted the idea of companies paying to emit greenhouse gases, a system known as "cap and trade," during the campaign. But many people had doubted he would make it an early priority as president.

Under such a system, the government would set an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and let companies buy and sell the right to emit specific amounts. The limit would decline over time.

Such systems are complicated to create. They're also controversial. Critics say they amount to a tax on energy use that would hurt businesses and consumers at a time when the economy is floundering.

But one business group threw its support behind Obama on Tuesday.
The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which includes San Francisco's Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as well as several environmental organizations, started calling for government action on global warming two years ago. The group wants a cap and trade system as soon as possible, even though many of its members - such as oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips - emit large amounts of greenhouse gases.

"We stand united behind President-elect Obama's statement earlier today," said James Rogers, chief executive officer of Duke Energy, one of America's largest electric utilities. "Delaying this further doesn't make sense. And using the economy as an excuse is wrong. ... We can solve our economic and environmental crises simultaneously."

Paying for emitting carbons
A cap and trade system forces companies to pay for emitting greenhouse gases, effectively putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, alternative energy technologies should become more cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

"At its core, it's very simple - we need a price on carbon," said David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, another Climate Action Partnership member. "We own coal-fired power plants. That's what we do for a living. We've been developing low- or no-carbon technologies as we look to the future. ... But again, we need a price on carbon, because it's not cheap."

Obama's four-minute, videotaped speech largely repeated elements of his energy plan from the campaign trail, saying the nation must cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

He repeatedly linked the fight against global warming to reviving the economy, saying the investment in alternative energy would put Americans to work.

Nuclear power, 'clean coal'
Obama also made a point of backing technologies that many environmentalists despise - nuclear power and "clean coal," which involves trapping and storing underground the emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Obama told participants at the governors' climate conference that he would work with any country, state or business that wanted to fight climate change. Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Mexico, India, Indonesia and the United Kingdom all sent representatives to the two-day conference.

"I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House," he said. "Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that is willing to join the cause of combatting climate change will have an ally in the United States of America."

E-mail David R. Baker at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gas Hydrates: A Major New Source Of Natural Gas?

Is this Al Gore's worst nightmare? A huge new source of carbon dioxide - producing energy? This could make Sarah Palin look like Joan of Arc with her pipeline to transport natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 United States. I can already hear the howling and whining from environmentalists. Maybe if we really want to pull America out of this economic depression we should put tens of thousands of people to work producing this gas and building this pipeline immediately. Mr. Obama, are you listening?


Study Points to Major Source of Natural Gas in Alaska
By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, November 12, 2008; A06

Federal scientists have concluded that Alaska's North Slope holds one of the nation's largest deposits of recoverable natural gas in the form of gas hydrates, a finding that could open a major new front in domestic energy exploration.

Researchers have speculated for years that gas hydrates -- a combination of gas and water locked in an icelike solid that forms under high pressure and low temperatures -- could provide an important source of natural gas in the United States and worldwide.

Today the U.S. Geological Survey will release a study estimating that 85.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas can be extracted from Alaska's gas hydrates, an amount that could heat more than 100 million average homes for more than a decade.
Brenda Pierce, manager of the agency's energy resources program, called the find "groundbreaking" and said, "I don't want people to think our problems are solved, but this has real potential."

Part of the reserve's significance, federal officials said, is that gas companies will be able to tap into it with existing technology. A coalition of American and international experts conducted three tests on gas hydrates over the past five years in the United States and Canada and demonstrated that the gas can be extracted by reducing the pressure that binds them together. Gas hydrates have also been found in the Wyoming basin, Texas's western Gulf basin, and the San Juan basin in New Mexico and Colorado, as well as in several offshore areas.
"The assessment points to a truly significant potential for natural gas hydrates to contribute to the energy mix of the United States and the world," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in a statement. "This study also brings us closer to realizing the potential of this clean-burning natural gas resource."

The prospect of extracting methane from gas hydrates, some of which lie below the permafrost of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, worries some environmentalists.
Athan Manuel, who directs the lands program for the Sierra Club advocacy group, said that the refuge should remain "inviolate" and that tapping into gas hydrates can harm less-pristine areas as well.

"The process is still pretty damaging to ecosystems," Manuel said, noting that companies must inject water into the reservoirs in the same way they extract methane from coal beds in the West. "Bottom line, this is a very destructive way to extract natural gas."
Pierce said the government will examine the potential environmental effects of tapping gas hydrates as "the next step" in its analysis. "Like every resource, it's going to have impacts," she said.

USGS Director Mark Myers said the process is likely to be less damaging than coal bed methane extraction because water is more plentiful on the North Slope and it will not take nearly as many wells to extract the gas. "The water disposal is not nearly so environmentally challenging," he said.

As conventional sources of domestic natural gas continue to decline, energy companies are eager to exploit what Myers called "innovative supplies." In August, ConocoPhillips received $11.6 million in funding from the Energy Department to test its gas hydrate production technology on the North Slope, and company spokesman Charlie Rowton said yesterday that "both globally and for the domestic market, methane hydrates represent a potentially huge new source of natural gas."

Even if industry manages to extract natural gas from these reserves -- long-term tests on hydrates will take place between 2009 and 2011 -- it will be years before companies will be able to send this gas to the lower 48 states. Such shipments probably would take place via the natural gas pipeline that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has championed, which will not be complete for at least a decade.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton Gone

What a shame, what timing. His writing, his insight, his intellect remain. Do a search on this blog and read more. In tribute, a humble hats off.

More on Michael Crichton: Predicted Demise of MSM in 1993
Written by P.J. Gladnick,
Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Michael Crichton passed away yesterday. Many of you might remember Crichton as the author of superb science fiction novels such as "Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park." Fewer people will know Crichton as a prominent global warming skeptic. And very few of you out there might know that Crichton was also a prophet who predicted the demise of the mainstream media way back in 1993.

This seems like a good time to honor the memory of Michael Crichton by taking a retrospective look at his 1993 Wired magazine article titled "Mediasaurus" about the impending demise of the mainstream media (emphasis mine):
I am the author of a novel about dinosaurs, a novel about US-Japanese trade relations, and a forthcoming novel about sexual harassment - what some people have called my dinosaur trilogy. But I want to focus on another dinosaur, one that may be on the road to extinction. I am referring to the American media. And I use the term extinction literally. To my mind, it is likely that what we now understand as the mass media will be gone within ten years. Vanished, without a trace.

There has been evidence of impending extinction for a long time. We all know statistics about the decline in newspaper readers and network television viewers. The polls show increasingly negative public attitudes toward the press - and with good reason. A generation ago, Paddy Chayevsky's Network looked like an outrageous farce. Today, when Geraldo Rivera bares his buttocks, when the New York Times misquotes Barbie (the doll), and NBC fakes news footage of exploding trucks, Network looks like a documentary.

According to recent polls, large segments of the American population think the media is attentive to trivia, and indifferent to what really matters. They also believe that the media does not report the country's problems, but instead is a part of them. Increasingly, people perceive no difference between the narcissistic self-serving reporters asking questions, and the narcissistic self-serving politicians who evade them.

And I am troubled by the media's response to these criticisms. We hear the old professional line: "Sure, we've got some problems, we could do our job better." Or the time-honored: "We've always been disliked because we're the bearer of bad news; it comes with the territory; I'll start to worry when the press is liked." Or after a major disaster like the NBC news/GM truck fiasco, we hear "this is a time for reflection."

These responses suggest to me that the media just doesn't get it - doesn't understand why consumers are unhappy with their wares. It reminds me of the story of the man who decided to kill his wife by having a lot of sex with her. Pretty soon this beaming, robust woman shows up, followed by a wizened little man with a cane. He whispers to a friend, "She doesn't know it yet, but she has only two weeks to live."

It is this perception that the media, and our current concept of news, is outmoded, that I would like to address.
So for a moment, let's set aside the usual bromides about the press. Let's take it as given that the bearer of bad news is often executed; that all human beings have an appetite for gossip and scandal; that media must attract an audience; that bias is in the eye of the reader as much as in the pen or sound-bite of the reporter.

And let's talk instead about quality.
The media are an industry, and their product is information. And along with many other American industries, the American media produce a product of very poor quality. Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it's sold without warranty. It's flashy but it's basically junk. So people have begun to stop buying it.

Poor product quality results, in part, from the American educational system, which graduates workers too poorly educated to generate high- quality information. In part, it is a problem of nearsighted management that encourages profits at the expense of quality. In part, it is a failure to respond to changing technology - particularly the computer-mediated technology known collectively as the Net. And in large part, it is a failure to recognize the changing needs of the audience.

In recent decades, many American companies have undergone a wrenching, painful restructuring to produce high-quality products. We all know what this requires: Flattening the corporate hierarchy. Moving critical information from the bottom up instead of the top down. Empowering workers. Changing the system, not just the focus of the corporation. And relentlessly driving toward a quality product. Because improved quality demands a change in the corporate culture. A radical change.

Generally speaking, the American media have remained aloof from this process. There have been some positive innovations, like CNN and C-SPAN. But the news on television and in newspapers is generally perceived as less accurate, less objective, less informed than it was a decade ago. Because instead of focusing on quality, the media have tried to be lively or engaging - selling the sizzle, not the steak; the talk-show host, not the guest; the format, not the subject. And in doing so they have abandoned their audience.

Keep in mind that Crichton wrote this article in 1993 before many of us even heard of something called "the Net." And with newspapers now in freefall as more and more people are getting their news information from the Net, Crichton's predictions about the "Mediasaurus" now look incredibly prophetic.
Michael Crichton, R.I.P.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scary Stories Coming From Obama About Global Warming

I had to save this opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal. I'll come back to it.

OCTOBER 20, 2008
Obama's Carbon Ultimatum
The coming offer you won't be able to refuse.

Liberals pretend that only President Bush is preventing the U.S. from adopting some global warming "solution." But occasionally their mask slips. As Barack Obama's energy adviser has now made clear, the would-be President intends to blackmail -- or rather, greenmail -- Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda.
Jason Grumet is currently executive director of an outfit called the National Commission on Energy Policy and one of Mr. Obama's key policy aides. In an interview last week with Bloomberg, Mr. Grumet said that come January the Environmental Protection Agency "would initiate those rulemakings" that classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant under current clean air laws. That move would impose new regulation and taxes across the entire economy, something that is usually the purview of Congress. Mr. Grumet warned that "in the absence of Congressional action" 18 months after Mr. Obama's inauguration, the EPA would move ahead with its own unilateral carbon crackdown anyway.

Well, well. For years, Democrats -- including Senator Obama -- have been howling about the "politicization" of the EPA, which has nominally been part of the Bush Administration. The complaint has been that the White House blocked EPA bureaucrats from making the so-called "endangerment finding" on carbon. Now it turns out that a President Obama would himself wield such a finding as a political bludgeon. He plans to issue an ultimatum to Congress: Either impose new taxes and limits on carbon that he finds amenable, or the EPA carbon police will be let loose to ravage the countryside.

The EPA hasn't made a secret of how it would like to centrally plan the U.S. economy under the 1970 Clean Air Act. In a blueprint released in July, the agency didn't exactly say it'd collectivize the farms -- but pretty close, down to the "grass clippings." The EPA would monitor and regulate the carbon emissions of "lawn and garden equipment" as well as everything with an engine, like cars, planes and boats. Eco-bureaucrats envision thousands of other emissions limits on all types of energy. Coal-fired power and other fossil fuels would be ruled out of existence, while all other prices would rise as the huge economic costs of the new regime were passed down the energy chain to consumers.

These costs would far exceed the burden of a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system enacted by Congress, because the Clean Air Act was never written to apply to carbon and other greenhouse gases. It's like trying to do brain surgery with a butter knife. Mr. Obama wants to move ahead anyway because he knows that the costs of any carbon program will be high. He knows, too, that Congress -- even with strongly Democratic majorities -- might still balk at supporting tax increases on their constituents, even if it is done in the name of global warming.
Climate-change politics don't break cleanly along partisan lines. The burden of a carbon clampdown will fall disproportionately on some states over others, especially the 25 interior states that get more than 50% of their electricity from coal. Rustbelt manufacturing states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania will get hit hard too. Once President Bush leaves office, the coastal Democrats pushing hardest for a climate change program might find their colleagues splitting off, especially after they vote for a huge tax increase on incomes.

Thus Messrs. Obama and Grumet want to invoke a political deus ex machina driven by a faulty interpretation of the Clean Air Act to force Congress's hand. Mr. Obama and Democrats can then tell Americans that Congress must act to tax and regulate carbon to save the country from even worse bureaucratic consequences. It's Mr. Obama's version of Jack Benny's old "your money or your life" routine, but without the punch line.

The strategy is most notable for what it says about the climate-change lobby and its new standard bearer. Supposedly global warming is the transcendent challenge of the age, but Mr. Obama evidently doesn't believe he'll be able to convince his own party to do something about it without a bureaucratic ultimatum. Mr. Grumet justified it this way: "The U.S. has to move quickly domestically . . . We cannot have a meaningful impact in the international discussion until we develop a meaningful domestic consensus."

Normally a democracy reaches consensus through political debate and persuasion, but apparently for Mr. Obama that option is merely a nuisance. It's another example of "change" you'll be given no choice but to believe in.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How To Restore Health To The American Economy: Produce More Oil and Gas

How can we restore the health of the American economy? A good place to begin would be producing more oil and gas here in the United States. This would create jobs, keep our dollars here in America rather than sending them to foreign countries, and generate much-needed revenue for Federal, State and local governments. It can be done.

Why We Need to Add to Production

In an energy interdependent world, we need common sense energy policies that provide access to conventional energy supplies, encourage energy efficiency, and promote continued development of new energy technologies. Common sense dictates that increasing our ability to produce energy from American resources – including crude oil and natural gas -- must be part of the mix. If energy companies are prevented from exploring for and producing oil and natural gas here at home in the United States, they face stiff competition overseas from national oil companies for untapped resources.

We currently import more than 60 percent of the crude oil and petroleum products we use. U.S. oil and natural gas companies don’t set crude oil prices -- the world market does. While we should not expect to be able to generate all the energy we need from within our own borders, each unit of energy we produce here at home is one we do not have to import. In particular, as long as demand for clean burning natural gas continues to increase, we will need access to new supplies of natural gas. We are fortunate to have considerable natural gas resources in the United States and elsewhere in North America. Federal lands are estimated to hold an estimated 656 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to heat 60 million homes for 160 years (60 million homes in the United States are heated by natural gas).

If we stopped drilling new wells, U.S. production would fall rapidly and likely cease altogether within 20-25 years. As old wells reach the point where they are no longer economic to produce, they have to be replaced by new ones. This makes it important that we continue to explore for oil and gas, adding new production sources to those that are already on their inevitable decline. Without new wells adding to U.S. supplies, our volume of imports will have to continue to increase to make up the shortfall.

A report prepared in July 2000 by the Energy Information Administration titled Accelerated Depletion: Assessing Its Impacts on Domestic Oil and Natural Gas Prices and Production remains very relevant today. This report explains why we have to work harder just to stay even when it comes to oil and gas production:
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) report was designed to examine the trend of accelerated depletion and its impacts. Accelerated depletion means that resources found today tend to have much steeper (rapid) decline curves than those found 20 years ago. After a detailed analysis of various alternative scenarios, EIA underscored the importance and interplay of two factors: technology and access to resources on government lands. The EIA report indicates that, for at least the next two decades, the potential negative effects from the accelerated depletion of existing reserves could be offset by an increase in the rate at which new technologies are introduced in the oil and gas industry and by a relaxation of restrictions on drilling on federal [government] lands.

Federal restrictions -- including the decades-old Outer Continental Shelf leasing moratoria lifted Oct. 1, 2008 - have kept significant volumes of our oil and natural gas resources off-limits. These are vital resources that Americans rely upon for our economy and our way of life. Even where leases are granted, restrictions on how those leases are developed essentially preclude development of the resources. We can no longer afford to place off-limits access to vast federal oil and natural gas resources.

Although “energy independence” may not be possible, “energy interdependence” is a reality, and producing more oil and natural gas resources within our borders will be the key to enabling us to maintain a healthy economy in an interdependent world.

Global Warming In The Recent Past

The following article presents convincing, scientific evidence that the climate in the Northern Hemisphere and the Arctic was warmer than today, as little as 6,000 years ago. Whatever caused this warming was obviously not man's burning of fossil fuels and the emission of carbon dioxide. CO2, as we all know is being blamed for "global warming" and catastrophic climate change.

It makes no sense that the natural forces (solar energy) which controlled climate in the past are not at work in the same way today. The fear of global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions is unfounded. Another thought, how did the polar bears, and other species, survive this past warming? Do the global warming alarmists pay any attention to facts and real world observations? It seems clear they do not.

Obviously, sea level was higher 6,000 years ago, there was far less sea ice in the Arctic, and humans lived in areas that became uninhabitable to them because of cooling, not warming. Climate scientists must address the causes of the climate changes of the recent past before spreading fear about carbon dioxide emissions. It has warmed and cooled many times, long before humans could possibly have had any impact. Blaming our current climate change on carbon dioxide emissions simply makes no sense, nor does it explain verifiable, real world observations as reported in the following article.

Less ice in the Arctic Ocean 6000-7000 years ago
Written by: Gudmund Løvø 20. October 2008 (source)

Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.

BEACH RIDGE: The scientists believe that this beach ridge in North Greenland formed by wave activity about 6000-7000 years ago. This implies that there was more open sea in this region than there is today. (Click the picture for a larger image) Photo: Astrid Lyså, NGU

PACK-ICE RIDGE: Pack-ice ridges form when drift ice is pressed onto the seashore piling up shore sediments that lie in its path. (Click for a larger image) Photo: Eiliv Larsen, NGU”The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don’t know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today,” says Astrid Lyså, a geologist and researcher at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

Shore features
Together with her NGU colleague, ICE COVER: Today, at the mouth of Independence Fjord in North Greenland, drift ice forms a continuous cover from the land. (Click for a larger image) Photo: Eiliv Larsen, NGUEiliv Larsen, she has worked on the north coast of Greenland with a group of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, mapping sea-level changes and studying a number of shore features. She has also collected samples of driftwood that originated from Siberia or Alaska and had these dated, and has collected shells and microfossils from shore sediments.

”The architecture of a sandy shore depends partly on whether wave activity or pack ice has influenced SETTLEMENT: Astrid Lyså in August 2007 in the ruined settlement left by the Independence I Culture in North Greenland. The first immigrants to these inhospitable regions succumbed to the elements nearly 4000 years ago, when the climate became colder again. (Click for a larger image) Photo: Eiliv Larsen, NGUits formation. Beach ridges, which are generally distinct, very long, broad features running parallel to the shoreline, form when there is wave activity and occasional storms. This requires periodically open water,” Astrid Lyså tells me.
Pack-ice ridges which form when drift ice is pressed onto the seashore piling up shore sediments that lie in its path, have a completely different character. They are generally shorter, narrower and more irregular in shape.

Open sea
”The beach ridges which we have had dated to about 6000-7000 years ago were shaped by wave activity,” says Astrid Lyså. They are located at the mouth of Independence Fjord in North Greenland, on an open, flat plain facing directly onto the Arctic Ocean. Today, drift ice forms a continuous cover from the land here.Astrid Lyså says that such old beach formations require that the sea all the way to the North Pole was periodically ice free for a long time.
”This stands in sharp contrast to the present-day situation where only ridges piled up by pack ice are being formed,” she says.

However, the scientists are very careful about drawing parallels with the present-day trend in the Arctic Ocean where the cover of sea ice seems to be decreasing.
“Changes that took place 6000-7000 years ago were controlled by other climatic forces than those which seem to dominate today,”
Astrid Lyså believes.

Inuit immigration
The mapping at 82 degrees North took place in summer 2007 as part of the LongTerm project, a sub-project of the major International Polar Year project, SciencePub. The scientists also studied ruined settlements dating from the first Inuit immigration to these desolate coasts.

The first people from Alaska and Canada, called the Independence I Culture, travelled north-east as far as they could go on land as long ago as 4000-4500 years ago. The scientists have found out that drift ice had formed on the sea again in this period, which was essential for the Inuit in connection with their hunting. No beach ridges have been formed since then.

”Seals and driftwood were absolutely vital if they were to survive. They needed seals for food and clothing, and driftwood for fuel when the temperature crept towards minus 50 degrees. For us, it is inconceivable and extremely impressive,” says Eiliv Larsen, the NGU scientist and geologist.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Carbon Dioxide Sequestration and Enhanced Oil Recovery

I think the problem with this idea is the capture and transport of carbon dioxide to use in enhanced oil recover is prohibitively expensive. Any comments?

News Media Contact(s):Craig Stevens, 202/586-4940
For Immediate ReleaseMarch 3, 2006 (source)

New CO2 Enhanced Recovery Technology Could Greatly Boost U.S. Oil

WASHINGTON , D.C. – The Department of Energy (DOE) released today reports indicating that state-of-the-art enhanced oil recovery techniques could significantly increase recoverable oil resources of the United States in the future. According to the findings, 89 billion barrels or more could eventually be added to the current U.S. proven reserves of 21.4 billion barrels.

“These promising new technologies could further help us reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil,” Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. “By using the proven technique of carbon sequestration, we get the double benefit of taking carbon dioxide out of air while getting more oil out of the earth.”

The 89 billion barrel jump in resources was one of a number of possible increases identified in a series of assessments done for DOE which also found that, in the longer term, multiple advances in technology and widespread sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide could eventually add as much as 430 billion new barrels to the technically recoverable resource.

If the 89 billion barrels in resources is converted to reserves, the U.S. would be fifth in the world behind Iraq with 115 billion barrels, and an additional 430 billion barrels would make it first, ahead of Saudi Arabia with 261 billion barrels.

Next-generation enhanced recovery with carbon dioxide was judged to be a “game-changer” in oil production, one capable of doubling recovery efficiency. And geologic sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide in declining oil fields was endorsed last year as a potential method of reducing greenhouse base emissions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The assessments looked at maximizing oil production and accelerating the productive use of carbon dioxide in all categories of petroleum resources, including as-yet undiscovered oil and the new resources in the residual oil zone. The findings are consolidated in the February 2006 report Undeveloped Domestic Oil Resources: The Foundation for Increasing Oil Production and a Viable Domestic Oil Industry.

The 430 billion barrel potential was identified in increments of up to 110 billon barrels from applying today's state-of-the-art enhanced recovery in discovered fields – 90 billion in light oil, 20 billion in heavy oil; up to 179 billion barrels from undiscovered oil – 119 billion from conventional technology, 60 billion from enhanced recovery; up to 111 billion barrels from reserve growth – 71 billion from conventional technology, 40 billion from enhanced recovery; up to 20 billion from tapping the residual oil zone with enhanced recovery; and, another 10 billion from tar sands.

The separate assessments and reports contributing to the total resource estimate are: Basin Oriented Assessments, ten assessments of producing U.S. basins and the potential of state-of-the-art enhanced oil recovery; Stranded Oil in the Residual Oil Zone (ROZ), five reports looking at new resources in the residual oil zone; and, Evaluation of the Potential for "Game-Changer" Improvements in Oil Recovery Efficiency for CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery, a report on next-generation technology. They were prepared by Advanced Resources International and Melzer Consulting.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

The "Green Movement" Hurts the Poor

The so-called "Green Movement" which supposedly seeks to stop global warming and control climate change by limiting carbon dioxide emissions, or more specifically the use of "fossil fuels", (coal, oil, and gas), is hurting and will harm the poorest people first. These efforts raise the cost of everything we use, and everything we do. The world's poor will of course suffer first, and to a greater degree than anyone. Consider the following article. It really has nothing to do with "race", it is about politics, ideology, and the economy. Think carefully about who you vote for.

It Takes Green to Go Green
Are liberal environmental policies hurting poor black communities? Conservatives think so!
Updated: 6:29 PM ET Oct 7, 2008 (source)

Oct. 8, 2008--Failing schools, crime and single-parent households are just a few of the challenges facing urban communities. Now, thanks to radical environmentalists and their supporters, a bunch I like to call "Club Green," they must face soaring energy as well.
"Club Green" enthusiasts are everywhere these days; their ideology is part of the liberal orthodoxy, and I, for one, want nothing to do with them. They are against oil exploration in Alaska and off our coasts. They took a hit last month when Congress voted to end a moratorium on offshore drilling, ending a 26-year ban on new leases. But this boon to domestic energy production could be fleeting, according to House Appropriations Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin, who told reporters, "This next election will decide what our drilling policy is going to be."

Environmentalists and their liberal backers are also blocking the construction of new coal-fired power plants that produce electricity. Plans for 59 coal-based power plants were canceled in 2007, and plans for 50 others are now being challenged.

All this leads to higher energy prices and pain in the pocketbooks of those who can least afford it—poor, black people living in struggling neighborhoods.

According to the Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, the annual median black household income was $34,001 and $40,766 for Hispanics—well below the $50,740 national median. Additionally, 24.7 percent of blacks and 20.7 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty. As energy prices climb, they lose a higher percentage of their take-home pay to increased energy costs—leaving less for things such as savings, education and health care.
Seeking empathy may be asking too much.

Al Gore, the environmentalists' spiritual leader, lectured in Washington, D.C. in July about phasing out fossil fuels. Despite his righteous talk about stopping the "catastrophic" effects of global warming, Gore can't seem to walk the walk.

He flies in private planes, and his Tennessee mansion surely uses much more energy than the average American home. As Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, pointed out in a recent blog post, Gore was chauffeured to his July speech in a gas-guzzling motorcade of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevy Suburban SUV. There's nothing wrong with enjoying one's wealth, but it's hypocritical when Gore asks others to sacrifice their standards of living but does not seem to do the same.

Powerful special interests such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund—with operating budgets in the tens of millions of dollars paying for lobbying, ads and grassroots organizing—also part of the "Club Green" phenomenon. They are joined by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sheryl Crow.

Businesses are also joining in, and sometimes for less than altruistic reasons. General Electric, for instance, makes wind turbines. It's therefore no surprise that GE subsidiary NBC Universal promoted environmental policies during its "Green Week" earlier this year by encouraging "…viewers and fans to go green with green-themed programming across all of its channels and affiliates aimed at entertaining, informing and empowering Americans to lead greener lives."
Despite the hype about wind power and boasts about other renewable energy sources, 85 percent of our nation's energy comes from fossil fuels. Energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar only currently provide about 7 percent of our power and cannot replace fossil fuels anytime soon.

In its September 2008 report, the federal Energy Information Agency predicteda 25 percent rise in heating oil prices and a 17 percent rise in natural gas prices this winter as well as a 9.5 percent projected increase in electricity costs in 2009. Adding to that, gasoline still hovers near $4 a gallon, and the public demands more domestic energy production. A recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters found that 67 percent supported new offshore fossil fuel exploration.

Our nation is blessed with an abundant supply of natural resources. The problem is that Congress, at the demand of Club Green, blocks access to these resources at the peril of families.

What's disturbing is that, like Gore, many of Club Green's leaders are among the elite. They are the wealthy, famous, politically-connected and largely immune to the sticker shock of high energy costs.

Something is terribly wrong because the wealth and the political access of a few are being used to dictate how everyone should live.

Deneen Borelli is a fellow for the Project 21, a national network of black executives.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Very Bad Idea: Following Europe's Lead On Climate Change

These are dangerous economic times. I hope we don't make things worse by following Europe's example of trying to control "global warming" and climate change. Consider the following:

Following Europe's Lead on Climate Change
Paul Driessen Saturday, October 11, 2008 (source)
Environmentalists, journalists and politicians say tough climate legislation is a moral imperative. Global warming science is settled, the United States is out of step with other nations, America must follow Europe’s lead to prevent climate chaos.

It’s great rhetoric. But which European lead should we follow? And how is it morally responsible to enact climate legislation that kills jobs and punishes families and businesses, to reduce global temperatures by perhaps 0.2 degrees?

There is no “consensus” on the “problem” or “solution.” Over 32,000 scientists, including hundreds of climate scientists, vigorously disagree with the assertion that human carbon dioxide emissions will cause a climate cataclysm.

Long ago ice ages and interglacial periods, the Sahara’s shift from verdant valleys to parched desert, and protracted droughts in the Yucatan and American Southwest had nothing to do with humans, they note. Sunspot counts are now at a 50-year low, indicating reduced solar activity and possibly explaining why planetary temperatures haven’t risen in a decade, despite soaring CO2 levels, say solar experts. Some computer models predict major climatic shifts, but they don’t include solar and other natural factors.

Hydrocarbons provide 85% of all US energy. They are the foundation of an economy that has been shaken to its core and may be entering a recession. Wind and solar represent less than 0.5% – and provide only intermittent auxiliary power. The new “Lights out in 2009?” study warns that the United States “faces potentially crippling brownouts and blackouts,” beginning in 2009, especially in regions that experience prolonged hot spells during summer months, due to insufficient generating capacity.

A bank that wanted to install solar panels found it would cost $850,000 – but would cut only 12% off its electricity bill. That meant it would take 90 years to pay off panels would last only 30 years. Fiscal and technological realities must remain the foundation of “social responsibility.”
House Democrats are nevertheless promoting new cap-and-trade legislation that could be even more punitive than Warner-Lieberman, which even sponsors admitted would cost nearly $7 trillion. They oppose oil and gas drilling, and new coal, nuclear and hydroelectric plants. Many want to “transform” our energy and economic system – from one that works to one based on heavily subsidized technologies that aren’t ready for prime time, and may not exist for decades.
We have to do our part, they insist, and join other nations in “saving the planet.” But which “responsible” leaders should we follow?

* Countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol and agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels? Or those whose actual emissions are well above their Kyoto targets: eg, Portugal 12% above, Italy 17% above, Spain 22% above, Denmark 25% above, Canada 27% above?

* A European Union that solved this predicament by agreeing to slash emissions 20% by 2020 – and presumably 30% by 2030 (or 40 by 40) when this new promise also proves too difficult or painful?

* Angela Merkel 2006, who promised to eliminate coal and nuclear power in Germany – or the chancellor of today, who wants to build new coal-fired power plants and shield chemical, steel, manufacturing, cement and automotive industries, by reducing emission goals or providing free cap-and-trade permits.

* Poland and other former Eastern Bloc nations, which intend to block a new EU climate change agreement, because they depend on coal for up to 90% of their electricity and on Russia for up to 97% of their natural gas, were held back for 50 years under Communist dictators – and now are loathe to be kept from developing by dictates from Brussels?

* EU companies that received “climate care” plaudits a few years ago – but now threaten to move jobs overseas, unless they receive preferential treatment under onerous emission controls?

* Britain, where politicians are being pummeled because climate taxes and skyrocketing energy prices have forced 5.5 million households to live in “fuel poverty”?

* Canada, where 78% of the citizens feel they have been mislead about the costs and benefits of Kyoto, and want fair and objective information from the media and politicians?

* The Australia of 2007, which supported taking action on climate change by a 55% margin? Or the Down Under of 2008, which opposed such action by 55% before the global financial meltdown?

* China and India, which put reducing rampant poverty, with its high human and environmental costs, ahead of the speculative effects of future climate change – and say they will be better able to adapt to climate changes (natural or human) if they are rich and technologically advanced?

* Countries that want to help impoverished nations develop abundant, reliable, affordable energy to reduce lung and intestinal disease and death, by bringing prosperity, safe water, refrigeration and modern hospitals? Or those that tell African and other destitute countries they must be satisfied with pitiful amounts of intermittent energy from “sustainable” sources like wind and solar?

* Al Gore, the prophet of ecological doom? Or Al Gore who flies only private jets, owns a fancy houseboat, and uses more electricity in a week than 28 million Ugandans together use in a year?

* Bureaucrats, scientists and politicians who seek open, robust, honest debate on climate change? Or those who use global warming hysteria to secure research grants, control every aspect of our energy and economic lives, and attend conferences at four-star resorts in Bali?

* Or perhaps three Italian ministers, who called the EU climate action plan “politically correct garbage” that “would kill any economic improvement” and “achieve very modest environmental benefits,” in a period of international economic difficulties that call for prudent decision-making?
California gets much of its electricity from coal-fired power plants located 600 miles from Los Angeles – enabling it to claim it’s “a leader” in curbing carbon dioxide. (It also gets substantial electricity from a nuclear power plant in Arizona, and most of its oil from Alaska.) Utah, on the other hand, generates most of its electricity from coal-fired plants within the state.

How many states can outsource their power and pollution? Which ones have more affordable electricity and gasoline, enabling poor families to live better on lower incomes – and still have money left for college, retirement, healthcare and charity? Which states are the more socially responsible leaders?

Morality, environmental justice and corporate social responsibility are too often defined by narrowly-focused environmental ideologies. They are too often winner-takes-all contests, pitting rich countries and eco-elites against poor families and nations that must worry more about immediate life-or-death concerns than speculative human-caused climate chaos. They too often replace rough-and-tumble debate over science and economics with intimidation and dogmatism.
We need to protect our economies, jobs and planet. We need conservation and all forms of energy – whatever works best, at lowest cost, for particular cities, states, regions and nations.

Will we follow politicians and activists who offer fear-mongering and utopian promises, as they lead us lemming-like off an economic cliff? Or will we follow leaders who offer honest, unflinching analysis and sound judgment – and stop us short of the precipice?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Smug Alert!

Smug Alert! is episode 1002 of South Park. It first aired on March 29, 2006, as a send-up of the environmental movement, hybrid cars, their celebrity proponents and the superficial feel-good nature of all involved. Gerald Broflovski buys a hybrid vehicle and buys into the whole progressive movement, becoming an evangelist, moving his family out of South Park, disturbing a delicate equilibrium and indirectly causing an environmental disaster along the way.

[edit] Plot
Kyle's father Gerald buys a new hybrid car, a Toyonda Pious, and drives around showing it off to everyone. He begins an unwelcomed campaign to convert the other townspeople to environmentally friendly vehicles. This behaviour annoys his friend Randy, who complains that Gerald now preachily talks with his eyes closed, and that he almost likes the smell of his own farts. Deciding that they cannot live among such backward, unsophisticated folk, Gerald decides to move his family to San Francisco.
Stan is horrified that his best friend is leaving South Park, but Gerald informs him that he will not be returning until everyone feels the same way as him about the environment.
Cartman is joyous over Kyle's leaving and, after holding a farewell party for Kyle that everyone but Kyle is invited to attend, not celebrating Kyle, but the fact that Kyle is leaving. He decides to fill the void by ripping on Butters, whom he now calls a "stupid Jew". Stan coldly predicts that, without Kyle around to rip on, Cartman's life will be empty.
After the Broflovskis leave, Stan writes a repetitive song about the importance of hybrid cars, which finds its way onto the radio and, incredibly, causes everyone to drive hybrids — and act as smugly as Gerald. Stan is praised for opening everyone's eyes but soon bumps into Ranger McFriendly, protector of the environment, who surprisingly criticises what he has done: although smog rates are down, people who drive hybrids create a toxic gas in the air called "smug", and South Park now has the second-highest levels in the country, after San Francisco.
In San Francisco, Kyle's father is glad to meet like-minded "progressive" people, who, in mid-conversation, fart loudly, bend over and inhale with pleasure, before resuming discussions of their philosophies. Kyle finds it difficult to fit in with the other kids, who take drugs to deal with their parents' "smugginess". Kyle refuses the offer of acid but, after seeing that his dad is even more arrogant than before (sniffing his own fart), asks for "maybe just half a hit," while his brother Ike takes three.
The cloud of smug forms over South Park and begins to combine with that of San Francisco. In a series of scenes parodying the film The Perfect Storm, McFriendly reveals that the cloud of smug from George Clooney's 78th Academy Awards acceptance speech (which claimed that Hollywood was "ahead of the curve" on social issues) will soon drift into the center of the "super cell" and create "the perfect storm of self-satisfaction", which will heavily damage South Park and completely destroy San Francisco, much to Stan's dismay.
Cartman, meanwhile, finds Butters too nice and, due to his lack of self-esteem, unwilling to defend himself as Kyle did, quickly loses patience and wishes that Kyle would return, fulfilling Stan's prediction. To top it all off, Butter states that he is really not a Jew at all, much to Cartman's irritation.
While Stan is forced into helping the town to eliminate hybrid cars, Cartman, desperate to get Kyle back so that he can resume hating him, secretly goes to San Francisco with Butters, planning to infiltrate the city and rescue his foe. Afraid of San Francisco's lesbian and hippie movements (which he hates), Cartman wears an "anti-smug suit" (connected to a hose with an air supply managed by Butters). Just as the storm hits, Cartman finds the Broflovskis in their house, completely stoned on acid and smug.
The storm destroys thousands of homes in South Park, while San Francisco disappears "completely up its own asshole", leading everyone to think that Kyle's family is dead. The Broflovskis reappear, though, explaining that they awoke mysteriously on a bus, and thank a "guardian angel", unaware that it was Cartman who saved them. Even though Butters knows about this, Cartman convinces him to keep quiet, not wanting Kyle to know.
With all their cars destroyed, the townspeople vow never again to buy hybrids. Kyle points out that hybrids really are a good thing; the people who drive them should just not be smug about it, or act as if they are above everybody else. The people, however, are not ready to drive them without being smug — "it's simply asking too much" — so they return to SUVs and other high-fuel-consumption vehicles.
Cartman talks to Kyle, saying that everything is back to normal; Kyle agrees. Cartman then calls him a 'sneaky Jew rat'; Kyle retorts by dubbing him a fatass and storming away. Cartman smiles at this, relieved to have the status quo returned.

[edit] Production
According to the commentary, this episode came directly from the creators' annoyance at people in California with the same attitudes as the people in the episode. One instance in particular involved Trey Parker's mother getting a smuggy compliment one day after receiving a hybrid car from her son as a gift. All quotes from the Clooney acceptance speech are the real words he used, although it is Trey Parker saying them rather than actual audio of the speech.

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Smug Alert!
Teaser Video Clip on
San Francisco values

Thursday, October 2, 2008

T. Boone Pickens and His Cloak Of Green

The following is an article exposing the flaws and deception behind T. Boone Pickens' plan to produce large amounts of electricity from wind turbines. The physical difficulties and the cost of converting wind energy into electricity simply do not add up; they do not make economic sense. The public is being deceived by the cloak of "green" environmentalism. Beware.

T Boone Pickens’ cloak of green

By Dr. Tim Ball Wednesday, October 1, 2008

US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Slim Pickens was a cowboy and actor, but a slim picking is not the adjectival phrase for T Boone Pickens and his wealth. One of his books is titled. “The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on the Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future.” He is busily making the second and likely the third billion much easier. His plan uses the combination of wind power with energy sufficiency and independence for the US.

Initially, his advertisements put wind power front and center. In doing so, he put on the cloak of green, a phrase I co-opted from Elaine Dewar’s wonderful book of the same name. I’ve used the phrase to describe what many politicians feel forced to do. They understand the real science of climate change, but dare not appear opposed to protecting the environment.

Pickens uses wind power as his cloak of green to buy credibility and time to make natural gas the primary power for vehicles and develop nuclear and coal sources. He throws in other alternative energies as a lining to the cloak. I’ve advocated natural gas for vehicles and nuclear and coal for electricity for many years. Oil will serve the petrochemical industry and produce aviation fuels. Reduced demand for oil means that even current reserves will last for a very long time.

So what concerns me about Pickens proposals? Initially it was the wind power proposal, which clearly demonstrates his lack of understanding of the severe limitations of that energy. More recently, it is the advertisement of a natural gas company spokesperson talking about his “good friend” Mr. Pickens. I am not opposed to capitalism or profit; however, I am opposed to achieving the latter with deception. Mr. Pickens folksy manner and financial success are used to convince people wind power can provide 20% of US energy. He appears on television programs selling his proposal to a public and political leaders desperate for solutions.

Pickens’ facade of being knowledgeable with a clear solution is quickly dispelled with a few facts about wind power. Like all alternate energies it is not a panacea. He needs to spend his money on accurate cost benefit analyses of all alternate energies. He should urge government to do the same thing before he takes a penny of the massive government subsidies that are seriously distorting analysis of alternative energies.

What are the problems with wind power?
Demand for electricity varies from hour to hour, but there is a basic demand all the time. Slow fire up time means conventional power stations can’t respond to fluctuating demands so must maintain a steady base load. Wind power is only produced when the wind blows in a relatively narrow range, therefore the availability to the electrical grid surges. Conventional power stations cannot respond to the surges and must produce to meet the demand whether the wind blows or not.

It is difficult to determine when wind speed is going to be strong enough to drive the turbine. It also takes considerable wind to start the turbine turning; so many are kept rotating by drawing power from the grid. A rapid wind speed increase causes a power surge and potential widespread damage to the grid. Conventional power stations maintain a level known as spinning standby to meet fluctuating demand. Most systems have other power stations operating on spinning standby to deal with a supply failure. Wind farms increase the risk of supply failures, which increases significantly with the percentage of power they contribute. Many countries limit the percentage of power from wind usually to about 12 to 14%.

Wind turbulence restricts the number of turbines to 5 to 8 turbines per square mile. 1700 600 KW turbines over 200 square miles are required to equal the output of a 1000 MW power station. The 600 KW output is with wind speeds between 30 and 40 mph. This reduces to 124 KW at 15 mph, which is below the average wind speed for the US. A wind speed of 15 mph would need 8,500 turbines covering 1000 square miles to produce the power of a 1000 MW conventional station. Source

Most wind turbines are only safely operated at low wind speed where they are inefficient. It is estimated an average wind speed of 14 mph is required to produce energy competitive with conventional sources. Average wind speed for the continental US is 10 mph. There are regions down the center of the country where the average is higher and where Pickens wants to place most of his turbines.

Birds and wind turbines are a lethal combination. European estimates claim losses up to 35 million birds a year. It’s reported that a wind farm at Altamont Pass, California kills thousands of birds a year, including an average of 1,000 raptors. Understandably, wind farm companies challenge the numbers and downplay the dangers. It’s a conflict for environmentalists who want wind power but don’t want to kill birds. However, there is no doubt they kill birds. Pickens’ main region for best wind speed potential coincides with the major flyway of migrating birds. Here are diagrams of the Mississippi and Central Flyways illustrating the problem. (see attached) It is a natural route for the birds, which my research shows fly 88% of the time with a tail wind. They migrate north with the southerly winds in spring and south with northerly winds in Fall.

Other environmental problems include noise pollution downwind and subsonic noise reportedly causing health problems in humans and other animals. Many consider them unsightly and even ardent environmentalist Robert Kennedy opposed tower construction near Cape Cod for that reason.

There are concerns about the tracts of land needed for extensive transmission lines over great distances, but there is a more important issue. Many potential power sites such as hydroelectric or tidal exist but they are unusable because they are remote. Line loss puts an economic limit to the distance you can transmit electricity. Loss is higher for alternating current (AC) then direct current (DC), so in some cases they produce AC, convert to DC for transmission and reconvert to AC for the grid. This is only possible with low production costs.

The need to maintain more conventional power plants for spinning standby coupled with the high construction, maintenance and operating costs of wind farms mean they do not save money or reduce conventional sources of pollution.

Richard Courtney has summarized wind power as follows; “ Wind farms are expensive, polluting, environmentally damaging bird swatters that produce negligible useful electricity but threaten electricity cuts.” Source

Even crude analysis of the costs of wind power shows it is an expensive and essentially useless alternative, incapable of producing 20% of US energy as Pickens claims. Rudimentary research reveals this information, which Pickens either ignored or did not do. Regardless, it must put his credibility and/or his real objective in question.

Others confirm the concerns about the Pickens plan beyond the wind power issues. Epstein and Ridenour title their paper “The Pickens Plan: Questions Unanswered.” Amy Ridenour, President of the National Center for Public Policy Research, says, “On the surface, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens appears to be a man with all the energy answers” then asks, “But would the Pickens plan really work? What would it cost taxpayers? Do parts of it raise Constitutional questions? And would private parties-including Mr. Pickens himself - benefit financially?” As Ridenour notes, “The fine print must be examined. In this case, the fine print reveals the Pickens Plan requires billions in government subsidies and the widespread use of government eminent domain powers. It also would further enrich Mr. Pickens.” Source

Making money is fine and I generally agree with his proposals for natural gas, nuclear power and the need for US energy independence. What I object to is deception, especially using wind power as a cloak of green. Apparently Pickens doesn’t know or want to acknowledge the serious limitations of wind power. Finally, he wraps his cloak of green in the national flag. As Samuel Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” (Joe Biden says paying more taxes is "patriotic"?)

Pickens has committed $58 million to sell his plan, which is a bizarre mixture of hucksterism and advocacy that will enormously benefit Mr. Pickens. Haven’t we had enough of this kind of deception from Enron through the current financial crisis and many points in between? Pickens and the public should heed Milton Friedman’s observation, “There is only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits without deception or fraud.” Source

Dr. Tim Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball employs his extensive background in climatology and other fields as an advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition, Friends of Science and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.”