On the Blog

What’s up With the Prices at the Pump?

Somewhat Reasonable - 9 hours 21 min ago

First, Saudi Arabia drove down the price of oil by increasing its production, which gave Americans a welcome drop in prices at the pump. Could the kingdom now be pushing them back up?

Prices at the pump have gone up nearly 40 cents a gallon from the January low—60 cents in California. Every year, at this time, refineries shut down to make adjustments from the “winter blend” to the “summer blend.”

However this year, the increase is exacerbated.

The unexpected extreme weather in the south, Patrick Dehaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, explained: “caused some of the refineries in the south to shut and restart, resulting in disruption for a couple of days.”

The February 19 explosion at a California refinery, that supplied 10 percent of California’s gasoline, has driven the state’s extreme uptick.

Then we have is the expanding steelworker’s strike that began on February 1—the first in 35 years. Because of refinery automation, the impact to date has been minor. However, if the strike actually shuts down operations, the Washington Post (WP) states: “the impact on gas prices could be swift.”

Opinions vary on why the United Steelworks chose now to strike—especially in a time when labor unions, according to the WP, “rarely exercise that right.” The WP explains: “There were only 11 strikes involving more than 1,000 workers last year, down from hundreds annually in the 1970s.”

Energy economist Tim Snyder sees that big refiners lose their incentive to bargain when crude oil prices fall to low levels. He told me: “The strike helps raise prices so the longer the strike goes on, the more profits they can recover.”

In contrast, energy market analyst Phil Flynn explains: “I think the Union is striking now because refining margins have been good and they want some of that benefit.”

What if the union workers chose this time to strike because of outside influence—specifically Saudi Arabia? There are many coincidences that seem too obvious to ignore.

First, the last time refinery workers went on strike was 35 years ago—about the same time as the oil crisis of 1979. Then, after the Iranian Revolution caused an oil shortage resulting in a catastrophic spike in the price of oil that drove other countries to expand production, it is reported that “to gain back market share, [Saudi Arabia] increased production and caused downward pressure on prices, making high-cost oil production facilities less profitable or even unprofitable.”

Now, increased Saudi production, once again, has driven the price drop, and, it, too, that is about maintaining market share and driving out higher-cost U.S. shale production.

But there’s more.

We think of Saudi Arabia as producing crude oil. However, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the kingdom “plans to become the world’s second largest [behind the U.S.] exporter of refined oil products in 2017 as part of its drive to diversify its economy and increase its share of the global crude and petroleum products markets.”

The Financial Post (FP) takes it further: “Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cohorts may have abandoned their role as market stabilisers, but they are taking the fight with their rivals downstream.” The FP adds: “The push downstream comes as OPEC’s strategy to maintain production and push out expensive non-OPEC producers is working.”

So, while the U.S. hasn’t built a new refinery in decades, Saudi Arabia has two new refineries—with a third planned.

The WSJ reports: “Planning for refineries in Saudi Arabia began around a decade ago to meet growing domestic fuel demand as well as to provide jobs. Domestic demand hasn’t grown as fast as expected, but as prices for Saudi Arabia’s unprocessed oil have slumped—crude prices have more than halved internationally since last summer—the refineries could offer a profitable alternative source of income.”

Note this key line from the WSJ: “Domestic demand hasn’t grown as fast as expected, but as prices for Saudi Arabia’s unprocessed oil have slumped…” This means that the kingdom has excess capacity at a time that it needs extra income.

Economists say Saudi Arabia needs tough economic reform. The Financial Times states: “The IMF wants the government to reduce the growth in spending still further, especially on wages and subsidies, and focus on infrastructure investment. But economists also worry that lower oil prices will hit the government’s capital spending, which could depress economic activity in the coming years.”

As the WSJ points out: “the refineries could offer a profitable alternative source of income.” But first, the kingdom needs outside customers—and the Steelworkers’ strike could provide just the ticket.

The U.S. is the number one global exporter of refined petroleum products. Saudi Arabia aims to capture some of that market share to become number two. We know that, when to its advantage, the kingdom thinks nothing of hurting its ally—but not friend—the United States.

Announcing the first shipment of gasoline from the new Saudi refinery on February 6, the Middle East North Africa Financial Network states: “The refinery is expected to reach full capacity in mid-February. A source close to the company said … European demand was good due to worries about the refinery strike in the United States which could reduce the amount of U.S. diesel heading to Europe.”

So a refinery strike in the U.S. hands them customers—which explains why, after dropping oil prices, the kingdom could be driving up gasoline prices.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – James Shuls: Missouri School Transfer Law

Somewhat Reasonable - 11 hours 29 min ago

Heather Kays speaks with James Shuls, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri and fellow at the Show-Me Institute, about the struggles families faced while trying to use the Missouri school transfer law.

The transfer law allows students to transfer from one school district to another, better school district once the home district is deemed unaccredited by the state. Though the law is clear, many opponents have resisted the law which creates choice for families who would otherwise have none.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate “Witch Hunt” Backfires

Somewhat Reasonable - 13 hours 3 min ago

Senators Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks – including The Heartland Institute – demanding that they divulge any funding they have provided to scientists skeptical of the left’s crazy opinions about the causes and consequences of climate change. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva did them one better, sending letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who dare to question their fake “consensus.”

All this is because Greenpeace persuaded its friends at some major media outlets to recycle decade-old accusations that one innocent climate scientist, Dr. Willie Soon, failed to disclose grants his employer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, solicited, vetted, and profited from to support his work on everything except climate change.

Go figure!

In their testimonies before Congress, the eight targeted scientists offered varying degrees of skepticism that humans are the primary driver of climate change or that specific policies being proposed by government to deal with the issue of climate change were ineffective at curbing climate change or too costly. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact.

Go figure!

The scientists being targeted are Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. of The University of Colorado; Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. David Legates of the University of Delaware; Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama; Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Robert Balling of Arizona State University; and Dr. Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University.

As a result of these inquiries, many scientists, members of the media, and others have equated these inquiries and pressure to McCarthyism. (But let’s be fair to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy; he was never guilty of using the tactics his critics allege. See Stan Evan’s magnificent book on the subject, Blacklisted by History, for the full story.)

Even Michael Mann, the controversial climate scientist at Penn State who is one of the biggest advocates for government action to address climate change told the National Journal, “It does come across as sort of heavy-handed and overly aggressive.”

The American Meteorological Society sent a letter to Representative Grijalva saying, “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to the same 107 groups expressing concerns over the attacks on academic freedom. The letter explains, “Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.”

According to the New York Times, “Andrew Dessler, a mainstream [sic] climate researcher and a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, said that he had concerns about “fishing expeditions” by Congress into researchers’ work, especially drafts of testimony requested in the letters from Representative Grijalva.”

Professor Pielke explained on his blog, “The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues…I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”

Dr. Curry has responded by saying, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus.”

Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well financed advocacy groups and politicians with many “conflicts of interests” of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.

Categories: On the Blog

The Death of the American Corporation

Somewhat Reasonable - 13 hours 51 min ago

The traditional American corporation has been a fixture in the U.S. economy for generations. Corporations allow entrepreneurs to shield themselves from liability, spread ownership out to an unlimited number of shareholders, and more easily raise funds for large-scale business investments.

While many modern politicians and pundits have spent copious time denouncing the evils of corporate America, the reality is that without the legal protections and financial opportunities provided by corporations, the United States would never have developed into the economic superpower it is today.

Despite its many advantages, the American corporate business model is slowly and painfully dying, and with it, a tremendous potential for future economic growth. According to a recent study by William McBride at the Tax Foundation, the United States loses roughly 60,000 corporations every year, and about 1 million corporations have been lost since the mid-1980s. According to the study, the number of corporations in the United States is at its lowest point in 40 years.

As a result of the declining number of corporations, only 60 percent of U.S. business profits now come from this type of business structure, a relatively low figure compared to many of the other successful economic nations of the world.

The reasons behind the decline of the American corporation are not difficult to discover. The United States continues to have the industrialized world’s highest corporate income tax rate, beating out numerous notorious high-tax nations like Belgium and France. Additionally, the U.S. tax code provides many incentives for those starting businesses or restructuring businesses to stay away from traditional corporations, also known as “C corporations.” For instance, C corporations are subject to multiple layers of taxation, which means the profits of the corporation are taxed, the shareholders’ profits are taxed, and all of the employees working for the corporation pay personal income taxes, as well.

The various disadvantages created by the federal government have led numerous entrepreneurs to choose alternative business structures to avoid paying high tax rates. Since the early 1990s, the number of partnerships has more than doubled, and sole proprietorships continue to be an option many small business owners utilize to avoid the complicated tax maze formulated by the IRS.

The number of S corporations has also risen dramatically as a result of the detrimental taxes placed on traditional corporations. Unlike C corporations, S corporations pass all taxes on to the owners of the business; the corporation does not pay any taxes on its profits. Owners pay personal income rates on the profits of the corporation, which significantly limits the total amount of taxes paid. Perhaps the largest disadvantage of an S corporation compared to a traditional corporation is that the number of shareholders in the company is limited to 100, which can significantly stifle the ability of the corporation to raise funds quickly for important projects.

The continuous decline of corporations in the United States significantly harms economic growth. Not only do traditional C corporations allow businesses the possibility to quickly obtain an infusion of cash to spur expansion through stock offerings, they also protect owners from debt and financial liabilities in a way partnerships and sole proprietorships simply cannot. When corporations fail, the repercussions for the owners are virtually non-existent. When sole proprietorships and partnerships fail, owners are often stuck with devastating amounts of debt that often prevent future business ideas from ever taking shape. In the Tax Foundation’s report, McBride correctly asserts:

Unfortunately, [the decline of corporations in America is] troubling for the long-term health of the economy. C corporations usually provide the most efficient business structure for large-scale projects and investments. However, high corporate tax rates drive activity away from the corporate sector, artificially limiting this important aspect of the economy and harming productivity and workers’ wages, [as well as leaving] potential growth and economic activity on the table.

None of these fears seem to have bothered President Barack Obama when he formulated his $4 trillion budget proposal released in early February. Obama’s plan calls for raising taxes on corporations to pay for increased government spending and a massive $478 billion public works project. Unless the federal government implements tax reforms that will encourage the growth of all businesses, including corporations, the U.S. economy will continue to improve at a sluggish pace, and future breakthrough business ideas will be developed in countries that provide a more favorable economic climate.

[Originally published on Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Climatist Jihad?

Somewhat Reasonable - 15 hours 53 min ago

ISIL and other Islamist jihad movements continue to round up and silence all who oppose them or refuse to convert to their extreme religious tenets. They are inspiring thousands to join them. Their intolerance, vicious tactics and growing power seem to have inspired others, as well.

After years of claiming the science is settled and unprecedented manmade catastrophes are occurring right now, Climate Crisis, Inc. is increasingly desperate. Polls put climate change at the bottom of every list of public concerns. China and India refuse to cut energy production or emissions. Real-world weather and climate totally contradict their dire models and forecasts. Expensive, subsidized, environmentally harmful renewable energy makes little sense in world freshly awash in cheap, accessible oil, gas and coal.

Perhaps worse, Congress is in Republican control, and in 23 months the White House and Executive Branch could also shift dramatically away from the Freezing-Jobless-in-the-Dark Side of the Force.

Climate Crisis industrialists are also fed up with constant carping, criticism and questions from growing numbers of experts who will not kowtow to their End of Days theology. Once seemingly near, their dream of ruling a hydrocarbon-free world of “sustainably” lower living standards become more remote every week. Extremist factions had dreamed of a global climatist caliphate and want vengeance.

So borrowing from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mentor Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, they have gone on the attack: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. A good tactic is one your people enjoy. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions. They’ve also borrowed from the Islamic State playbook: Silence your enemies.

Led by Greenpeace associate Kert Davies, this Climatist Jihad wing of the climate chaos movement has launched a well funded, carefully choreographed vendetta of character assassination and destruction, vilifying dangerous manmade climate change “deniers” and trying to destroy their careers. Their Big Green, Big Government and media allies are either actively complicit, rooting from the sidelines or silent.

Instead of bullets, bombs and beheadings, they use double standards, Greenpeace FOIA demands, letters from Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Raul Grijalva, threats of lost funding and jobs, and constant intimidation and harassment. Submit, recant, admit your guilt, renounce your nature-rules-climate faith, Climatist Jihadis tell climate realists. Or suffer the consequences, which might even include IRS, EPA and Fish & Wildlife Service swat teams bursting through your doors, as they did with Gibson Guitars.

Their first target was Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon. Working closely with Greenpeace’s Climate Investigations Center, the Boston Globe and New York Times alleged that Dr. Soon received $1.25 million from the fossil fuel industry, but failed to disclose those funds when his scientific papers were published and falsely claimed he had no conflict of interest.

The charges are bogus. The Harvard-Smithsonian had full knowledge of Dr. Soon’s research financing and took 40% of the grant money off the top: some $500,000! The details are all public records, and Dr. Soon has a solid track record of going where his careful and extensive research takes him – regardless of where the money comes from. Not a scrap of evidence suggests that he falsified or fabricated data or conclusions, or twisted his science to satisfy research sponsors, on any of the numerous topics he has studied.

He has received incredible flak from environmentalist pressure groups, media outlets and even his own university – and has courageously stood behind his research, analyses, and findings, which continue to withstand intense scientific scrutiny. Harvard-Smithsonian recently said it “does not support Dr. Soon’s conclusions on climate change,” and Harvard Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Daniel Schrag averred that Soon’s approach to finding global average temperatures was perhaps not “as honest as other approaches.” But they offer not a scintilla of evidence to support their allegations of inaccuracy and dishonesty, and give him no opportunity to respond.

Indeed, one of the most prominent aspects of the climate imbroglio is the steadfast refusal of alarmist scientists to discuss or debate their findings with experts who argue that extensive, powerful natural forces – not human carbon dioxide emissions – drive Earth’s climate and weather. “Manmade disaster” proponents also refuse to divulge raw data, computer codes and other secretive work that is often paid for with taxpayer money and is always used to justify laws, treaties, regulations, mandates and subsidies that stifle economic growth, kill jobs and reduce living standards.

Dr. Soon is not the only target. The Climate Jihadists are also going after Robert Balling, Matt Briggs, John Christy, Judith Curry, Tom Harris, Steven Hayward, David Legates, Richard Lindzen, and Roger Pielke, Jr. More are sure to follow, because their work eviscerates climate cataclysm claims and raises serious questions about the accuracy, credibility, integrity, and sanctity of alarmist science.

Climate Crisis, Inc. wants a monopoly over the issue. Its members focus almost exclusively on alleged human causes of climate change and extreme weather events – and would love to see skeptics silenced. Crisis proponents will not even attend scientific conferences where skeptics discuss natural causes and alarmists have opportunities to defend their hypotheses, models, and evidence. (Perhaps the FCC needs to investigate this monopoly and issue “climate neutrality” rules to ensure honest and balanced discussion.)

It fits a depressing pattern: of the White House, Democrats and liberals shutting down debate, permitting no amendments, conducting business behind closed doors, not allowing anyone to read proposed laws and regulations, rarely even recognizing that there are differing views – on ObamaCare, ObamaNetCare, IRS harassment of conservative donors and groups, PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, or climate change.

The Climate Crisis industry thrives on tens of billions of dollars annually, for one-sided climate research, drilling and fracking studies, renewable energy projects and other programs, all based on dubious claims that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions threaten climate stability and planetary survival.

Businesses, job holders and consumers pay the huge costs of complying with the resultant regulations and soaring energy costs. Taxpayers pay for much of the research and propaganda that drives the rulemaking. Russia and hard-left foundations have also contributed billions to the process; and government unions, environmental pressure groups and renewable energy companies give generously to researchers and to politicians who keep the alarmist research programs, regulatory processes, mandates, and subsidies alive.

All of this raises another elephantine issue. If a couple million dollars over a decade’s time creates near-criminal conflict-of-interest and disclosure problems for skeptic/realist scientists, what effects do billions of dollars in research money have on alarmist researchers and their universities and institutions?

Few, if any, alarmist researchers have disclosed that their work was funded by government agencies, companies, foundations and others with enormous financial, policy, political and other interests in their work, ensuring that their conclusions support manmade factors and debunk natural causes. Many of those researchers have signed statements that their research and papers involved no conflicts, knowing they would not get these grants, if their outcomes did not reflect the sponsors’ interests and perspectives.

Moreover, ClimateGate, IPCC revelations and other investigations have revealed extensive and troubling incidents of manipulated data, faulty models, wild exaggerations, broken hockey sticks, and completely baseless claims about hottest years, disappearing glaciers, coastal flooding, and other “crises.” And those claims severely impact our energy costs, jobs, living standards, economic growth, and freedoms.

We need to end the double standards – and investigate the alarmist researchers and institutions.

Or perhaps better yet, let us instead have that all-out, open, robust debate that climate realists have long sought – and alarmists have refused to join. Equal government and other money for all research. All cards and evidence on the table. No more hiding data and codes. Answer all questions, no matter how tough or inconvenient. And let honest science decide what our energy and economic futures will be.

—–

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

Categories: On the Blog

Weather Bulletin 8: Records Breaking Across America

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:05 PM

As temperatures continue to dip and snow accumulates, support for claims human caused global warming is causing winters to disappear are melting like ice under a heat lamp.

All fifty states are expecting to see snowfall in the next seven days with most of them already having experienced modest to record amounts of snow as this particularly wicked winter just refuses to let up.

Cold temperature records were tied or broken at more than 2000 locations in the past week. According to the weather website, sunshine hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded 2,634 record low-high temperatures were broken or tied between February 19, 2015 and February 25, 2015. In other words, 2,634 locations experienced daily highs lower than ever recorded on that date since record keeping began. Over the same time period, 272 locations registered record low temperatures at least one day during the week. All these records are falling without the influence of the polar vortex that set thousands of record lows throughout the nation, even into the summer, of 2014.

On Friday the 27th every area east of the Rocky Mountains, excepting Florida, experienced below average temperatures. According to the Weather Channel, cities breaking daily low or daily low high temperatures in New England and the Northeastern U.S. included: Burlington, Vermont (minus 19 degrees), Bridgeport, Connecticut (0 degrees — the latest in a 0 degree temperature was ever recorded), Concord, New Hampshire (minus 20 degrees), Pittsburgh (minus 9 degrees) and Rochester, New York (minus 9 degrees).

Both Bangor, Maine and Syracuse, New York saw more below zero temperatures in February 2015, than they had experienced in any previous February. In Syracuse, the temperature dipped below zero for a record 20 times topping the previous calendar-year record of 19 below zero days in 1948, while Bangor, Maine saw 17 subzero days.

With an average temperature of 24 degrees for the month, 11 degrees below the normal February average, New York City set a record for the coldest February ever. The cold brought winter related health problems in tow. The New York Times reported, “Dr. John Marshall, the head of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, said his hospital was averaging 336 patients a day this winter, 20 more than last winter. On Jan. 19, he saw something unlike anything he had seen before. In a single hour, 30 people showed up after having slipped on ice, most of them with wrist and arm fractures, with some ankles thrown in.”

Nor were the Midwest and the Great Lakes states spared the record chill with low records being set or tied in among other locations, Cincinnati, Ohio (minus 7 degrees), Columbus, Ohio (minus 11 degrees), Chicago (minus 10 degrees, Dubuque, Iowa (minus 17 degrees), Detroit (minus 2 degrees), Erie, Pennsylvania (minus 7 degrees), Flint, Michigan (minus 17 degrees), Grand Rapids, Michigan (minus 10 degrees) and Indianapolis, Indiana (minus 5 degrees) all broke low temperature records.

Some cities, including Cleveland and Toledo in Ohio set broke low temperature records on multiple days.

For South Bend, Indiana, Feb. 12 to Feb. 27, was the coldest recorded for this period in history with an average temperature of 11.4 degrees.

The Weather Channel reports, “subzero readings stretched across 22 states from the interior Northeast to the Plains, Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. Temperatures dropped below minus 20 degrees in 7 states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and New York). Wind chills bottoming out at more than 40 below zero in parts of North Dakota and northern Minnesota Sunday morning. Bottineau, North Dakota saw the lowest actual air temperature in the Lower 48, dipping to minus 32 degrees.

Farther South, Joplin, Missouri (8 degrees), Paducah, Kentucky (11 degrees) set record low temperatures between the 19th and the 25th. On Friday the 27th, Oklahoma (23 degrees) and Dallas, Texas (30 degrees) each set records for the lowest maximum temperature recorded on the date.

As is often the case, in winter, cold temperatures were accompanied with snowfall, in many areas, record snowfall. Boston’s snow woes have been well-documented this winter, but Boston is not the only city, nor the Northeast the only region slammed in February. Accumulating snow and ice brought the roof down on a skating rink in Canton, Massachusetts narrowly avoiding crushing a children’s hockey team and assembled parents and employees.

Also in New England, snowfall measured at Warwick New Hampshire’s Green Airport topped 31.8-inches breaking the old record of 30.9 in set in 1962.

Indianapolis set a new snowfall record for March 1st with 5.9 inches of snowfall, the most ever on March 1st.

According to the National Weather Service, much of Alabama experienced record or near record snowfalls last week. Prior to February 25, Huntsville, AL had received just 6 tenths of an inch of a snowfall all winter, but on the 25th, Huntsville got hammered with 8.1 inches of snow it the second-snowiest day in the city’s history, surpassed only by the 15.7 inches of snow that fell on December 31, 1963.

Record snows fell across much of Alabama with three locations in Marshall County reported 11 or more inches of snow. Other areas receiving high snowfall included Athens (8.5 inches), Eva (9 inches), Moulton (9 inches), Phil Campbell (10 inches) and Rainsville (8.5 inches). 

Farther west in Texans and New Mexican’s have also experienced record late-season snowfalls with attendant weather related disasters. Area’s north and west of Ft. Worth experienced record amounts of snow, with some regions getting more than seven inches of snow. Mixed with the snow was freezing rain and ice. As a result of the unusual late February weather, more than 1,000 flights were cancelled out of D/FW International Airport. North Texas experienced more than 1,000 reported accidents, with 617 traffic related calls between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on Friday in Ft. Worth alone. Interstates 35, 30 and 75 as well and numerous side-streets were closed at times Thursday through Saturday and there were two weather related traffic deaths.

Across New Mexico, residents woke up to more snowfall than some areas had in nearly a decade. The Albuquerque metro area received 1-2 inches per hour for several hours, resulting in a total 8.6 inches, the 9th heaviest snowfall since 1931. The last time more than 8 inches fell in a two day period was in 2006.

H. Sterling Burnett

Managing Editor

Environment & Climate News

 

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Left Launches Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 5:10 PM

Kert Davies, a long-time Greenpeace staffer, has regularly attacked climate scientists who question the group’s views on global warming.

CHICAGO (March 1, 2015) — A week ago, the Boston GlobeNew York Times, and Washington Post  ran stories repeating claims made by long-time Greenpeace staffer Kert Davies that Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics failed to disclose funding from “fossil-fuel sources” to the editors of a science journal that published an article coauthored by Dr. Soon. Davies alleged this violated the journal’s disclosure and conflict of interest requirements.

Since then, many other media outlets have covered the controversy.

This news coverage was the beginning of a witch hunt waged against climate scientists whose work contradicts the claims of Greenpeace and other liberal advocacy groups. Elements of the witch hunt include:

* Forecast the Facts, a project of the left-of-center Center for American Progress (and more recently affiliated with the even farther-left Citizen Engagement Laboratory) launched an online petition to the Smithsonian Institution demanding Dr. Soon be fired for misconduct.

* Democratic U.S. Sens. Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks – including The Heartland Institute – demanding they divulge any funding they have provided to global warming skeptics.

* Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who have questioned Greenpeace’s stance on global warming.

* Davies asked the editors of journals that published Soon’s work to investigate whether he had complied with their disclosure and conflict of interest policies.

The Heartland Institute, which has been part of the climate change debate since 1993, has created a web page atwww.heartland.org/willie-soon that collects commentary and background information on this controversy. The web page contains information contradicting Davies’ allegations while making the following points:

* Neither the editors of Science Bulletin nor the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Soon’s employer, have said Dr. Soon violated their disclosure or conflict of interest rules.

* Davies has been making similar attacks against Dr. Soon and other climate scientists since as long ago as 1997. He is not a credible source. His background and affiliations should have been included in news stories based on his latest allegations.

* Grants supporting Dr. Soon’s work were vetted and submitted by the Smithsonian, not by Dr. Soon. Grant dollars went to the Smithsonian, which kept around 40 percent of the money for oversight and overhead.

* The amount of industry support Dr. Soon received, variously reported as $1 million or $1.2 million, includes the Smithsonian Institution’s 40 percent share and was received over the course of ten years.

* By agreement between donors and the Smithsonian, Dr. Soon wasn’t even aware of who some of the donors were, making a conflict of interest impossible.

* Disclosure of funding sources is not a common requirement of academic journals in the physical sciences field. Most climate scientists – alarmist as well as skeptical – do not disclose their funding sources.

Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, said:

“The Heartland Institute stands four-square behind Willie Soon. He’s a brilliant and courageous scientist devoted entirely to pursuing scientific knowledge. His critics are all ethically challenged and mental midgets by comparison. We plan to continue to work with Dr. Soon on future editions of Climate Change Reconsidered and feature him at future International Conferences on Climate Change, including the next one, the tenth, scheduled to take place in June in Washington, DC.”

John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, said:

“Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well-financed advocacy groups and politicians with many ‘conflicts of interest’ of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

“Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human-caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.”

Heartland has worked closely with Dr. Soon over the years, featuring him as a speaker at conferences and including him as a reviewer and contributor to a series of volumes on climate science published for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). In 2013, Heartland published a critique coauthored by Dr. Soon of a report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

For more comments, see www.heartland.org/willie-soon. To interview a Heartland spokesperson on this story, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

Categories: On the Blog

Apple Accused of Poaching Chinese Know-How Paid for by US Taxpayers

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:52 PM

Since 2011 NLPC has tracked the stimulus-funded fiascoes that were/are battery-maker A123 Systems and luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive, who at one point were business partners (or stuck with each other, depending on your perspective). Both eventually went bankrupt, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars from Department of Energy awards that were never paid back. Chinese company Wanxiang Group ended up with both failed enterprises, buying their assets for cheap.

While the Obama administration declared the two bankruptcies (among others, such as Solyndra) part of their “successful” green energy investment strategy, two Republican Senators – Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota – have applied pressure to DOE over the fate of American jobs and intellectual property created by A123 and Fisker, but paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Now, as the Senators continue to express concern about DOE policy over innovations created thanks to government funding, Chinese-owned A123 is suing over the “theft” of its intellectual resources by an American company – Apple! The Cupertino, Calif. computer giant is said to be secretly working on its own electric vehicle, and A123 has alleged in a lawsuit that Apple is “poaching” its best-and-brightest – led by former A123 Chief Technology Officer Mujeeb Ijaz – in violation of non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.

“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” read the legal complaint, filed in Massachusetts state court but moved to federal court. “They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123….”

As the Boston Herald reported, among the talent lured away by Apple includes an A123 scientist that earned $600,000 last year, plus living expenses. A Forbes.com analysis pondered why the battery innovator/manufacturer was so incensed that it felt it necessary to sue Apple over a few scientists. Technology writer Michael Kanellos reviewed A123’s history, which grew out of MIT, and explained that the company’s lithium phosphate cells did not perform as well as competing technologies. Also, larger and deeper-pocketed competitors like LG Chem and Johnson Controls worked their ways into alternative energy, and A123 struggled to get automotive clients – their only “success” was Fisker.

Nevertheless, post bankruptcy, Wanxiang moved aggressively to acquire A123 at a steep discount (but not necessarily a pittance) – for $260 million. As NLPC concluded in December 2012, “it’s not far-fetched to think that Wanxiang believe(d) the biggest worth of A123 remains in the head knowledge of its scientists and engineers who will now report to them.” That would go a long way toward explaining the Apple lawsuit.

Before the U.S. government approved the sale of A123 to Wanxiang, members of Congress (including Grassley and Thune) expressed concern about the technology transfer over national security concerns, besides the loss of taxpayer-funded resources.

“A123 Systems also works hand-in-hand with U.S. power plants on energy storage and efficiency improvements,” Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn wrote in The Hill. “Its products and technology serve the telecommunications markets through battery backup systems that support telecommunications controllers and Internet servers, transceiver stations and central hubs. Allowing Wanxiang to acquire this company’s technology could leave us vulnerable to cyber attacks.”

Despite the concerns, the bankruptcy court and the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal. But Grassley and Thune are still pressing DOE for more stringent measures to assure that taxpayer-financed innovations are properly protected investments preserved for the public benefit.

“A more complete audit would allow DOE to register and claim title to subsequent inventions that trace back to federal support and may otherwise escape disclosure,” the Senators wrote to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This accountability is especially important to track taxpayer-funded intellectual property through transfer of ownership from an awardee company to a foreign entity.”

The Energy Department responded with an explanation for plans to create rules to address control of such technology, while also stating that other areas of law limit the government’s ability to retain the property or require its manufacture on U.S. soil.

Wanxiang, which does operate A123 in the U.S. and has maintained its identity for “The New Fisker” at its “Wanxiang America” base in Chicago, has aspirations for a re-launch of the electric “Karma” model. Company chairman Lu Guanqiu (pictured) has expressed his passion and commitment for becoming the first successful Chinese automaker.

“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” Guanqiu said at the company’s Chinese headquarters last June. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”

But the effort to get the new Karma to market has been a struggle, apparently. Earlier this week sources told Reuters that the Fisker name would be changed to Elux, and that the hoped-for 2015 relaunch would be delayed at least a year. Wanxiang was also said to be spending millions of dollars updating the Karma’s years-old hardware.

Add to that the lawsuit against cash-rich Apple over “brain drain,” it appears Mr. Lu believes his dream is imperiled. Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of the bizarre scenario of an American company overtaking a Chinese one, whose assets were largely paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Population Control Behind UN’s Agenda 21

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:46 AM

Obama and UN seek to transform

The following commentary by Ben Zycher on the United Nations’ top climate change official, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), tells how the goal of UNFCCC is to “intentionally transform” the world’s economic development model. In Christina Figueres own words, spoken on February 4th:

This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model.  This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the last 150 years; since the industrial revolution.

Instead of focusing on the central issue which is addressing the cost effectiveness of the global warming issue, the main focus continues to be on the nearly irrelevant causation issue. Neither does Christiana Figueres seem to understand that a transformation of the “economic development model” is a repository of consequences unintended but predictable; foremost among them, the impoverishment of many millions of people.

Africa in the crossfire with other 3rd world countries 

Much rides on the UN Kyoto Protocol of 1992 that legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began in January 2013 and will end in 2020.

Regarding CO2 emissions in Africa: Carbon emissions are estimated to be lower compared to western and emerging countriesIn so far as South Africa is so addicted to coal and dependent on coal, the country itself has very high emissions – 13th biggest emitter in the world — in contrast to the rest of the continent, where most countries have very low emissions, or even zero emissions.

The irony is that those who are behind the U.N. Agenda 21 road map, claim all of the changes they want forced upon us are for the good of our planet and people.  That simply is not true, and South Africa is a case in point.  The cost to switch from coal towards renewable energy in South Africa would be significant.  Energy needs in Africa and other developing countries will increase as countries become more industrialized and prosperous. Restricting or reducing CO2 emissions in places such as South Africa, to those below its position of 13th in the world, would cause much hardship and limit overall the growth within the African Continent. Even in this day and age heating and cooking is widely done by African natives with animal dung patties, which is a source of unhealthful pollution.

Questions as to why the push for a successful UN Kyoto Protocol by 2020

Some brave souls have begun questioning whether there are more sinister and self-serving reasons that the UN Kyoto Protocol be successful by 2020.  Could one covert reason be to reduce populations by making life even more difficult for third world poor populations to prosper?  In 2009 a report was published byScientific America, first appearing in Earth Talk produced by E/The Environmental Magazine, which questioned whether the rate of people reproducing needed to be controlled in order to save the environment. They postured that human population growth is a major contributor to global warming, as humans use fossil fuels to power their increasingly mechanized lifestyles.  According to the United Nations Population Fund, human population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion people during the course of the 20th century.  It was that unprecedented increase that began to concern people, who then began looking for ways to control our population. The United Nations Population Fundlikewise predicts that fast-growing, developing countries will contribute more than half of global CO2 emissions by 2050, thereby erasing other countries’ adoption of long held over-consumptive ways.

This article also published in 2009, began raising the question as to whether, given population and sustainability, the planet could avoid not limiting the number of people (or slowing the rise in human numbers) to save the planet.

Alex Epstein, in his book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” — adapted from a published review by Jay Lehr, Director of Science at the Heartland Institute — “lays out a clear story that the use of fossil fuels in the less developed world has dramatically increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality.  Epstein further states that “millions of individuals in industrialized countries finally have their first light bulb, their first refrigerator, their first decent paying job, their first year with clean drinking water or a full stomach.” Hence, the moral case for fossil fuels is ultimately not about fossil fuels; it is the moral case for using cheap, plentiful, reliable energy to amplify our abilities to make the world a better place for human beings.

Shame on our leaders for proposing massive bans on fossil fuels with the promise that these radically inferior technologies will be their replacements, reflecting either an ignorance or indifference to the need for efficient cheap reliable energy for 1.3 billion people without electricity and over 3 billion who do not have adequate electricity.

In summing up his moral argument, Epstein made this excellent and common sense statement:

We don’t want to save the planet from human beings; we want to improve the planet for human beings. We need to say this loudly and proudly. We need to say that human life is our one and only standard of value.  And we need to say that the transformation of our environment, the essence of our survival, is a supreme virtue.  We need to recognize that to the extent we deny either, we are willing to harm real flesh and blood human beings for some antihuman dogma.

In a message to media and legislators:  “We will no longer take it!”

The time has come for truths to be told, and for the media to provide facts and articles by skeptics. We no longer are confident in the reporting on this important issue, nor do we have confidence in those who have already proven to have reported misinformation.  It is imperative that the unreported agendas of those at the highest level of government be fully documented by credible sources and revealed for what they portend for future generations of Americans.

While we are grateful more climate scientists and experts from other related fields have begun to carefully study these important issues and are finding fault with highly reported conclusions, we must demand their work be printed and reported. The views of skeptics are important for us and future generations, so that any misrepresented figures, deceptions, and mistakes are widely reported and revealed to the public.

It may become necessary for an enlightened public to demand that the media cease their practice of only publishing material that reflects the views of the U.N. and those of the ilk of Al Gore.  Accordingly, when so-called “established” facts are refuted, they must be reported as such by a media that has proven itself highly prejudiced to only one viewpoint.  The public deserves a two-sided debate, and it may come to the point citizens may have to demand it.

It is up to informed citizens, scientists and other experts to investigate and report false or questionable information about global warming in order to set the record straight.  Those with opposing opinions and fact must write letters and articles to newspapers and other offending media sources.  Any media source that refuses to publish credible material should be exposed.  Derelict and biased media sources, and our elected legislators, must know that anything less is unacceptable to a concerned public.

Bravo to The Heartland Institute  for being the leader in the field of education by getting facts out to legislators here in the US, and individuals worldwide, about the false premise of global warming which has been and continues to be pushed worldwide as proposed by UN Agenda 21.

Tnorner & O’Neil:  Fighting climate change through compact cities without cars(Part 1)

Thorner & O’Neil:  UN promotes Global Warming consistent with Agenda 21(Part 2)

Thorner & O’Neil:  Man’s folly to curb CO2 emissions continues to advance unabated (Part 3)

Thorner & O’Neil:  Will Agenda 21 continue to go forward despite proven deception (Part 4)

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Schneiderman’s Supplement Scam

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:07 AM

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made a shocking announcement earlier this month. He alleged that DNA tests his office commissioned found that about 80% of GNC supplements tested, including those sold as Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wort, and Ginseng didn’t actually have any of the herb in the capsules.

Mr. Schneiderman issued a cease and desist letter calling for the products to be removed from shelves at GNC, as well as for different products sold at Walmart, Walgreens and Target. He also put out a press release filled with self-righteous and self-serving statements from his allies including state legislators calling for the passage of their own bills and from the food police group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, lauding Mr. Schneiderman for doing “what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”

Class action lawyers are already soliciting clients.

These days, plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t have to chase ambulances, they can troll attorneys general.

The moment the news hit, GNC stock plummeted about 5%.

The problem is, Mr. Schneiderman’s DNA tests, which he refuses to release, don’t support his conclusion that herbs weren’t in the pills as marketed.

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Pieter Cohen, who like myself is a longtime critic of the $6 billion supplement industry, disputes Mr. Schneiderman’s use of DNA barcoding to reach the conclusion he did.

“That’s because DNA barcoding looks for a specific fragment of DNA, but the ingredients in herbal supplements are often highly processed — crushed, dissolved, filtered and dried — so that they may no longer contain the particular fragment of DNA that researchers are searching for, making the supplement appear to be mislabeled,” Dr. Cohen said. The biological compounds extracted from the plant—the parts that supposedly have healing powers—would be in the supplement without the DNA sought in the tests.

It’s like searching for the word “god” in a particular sentence of the bible, not finding it, and claiming your research found that there’s no god in the bible.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion. That’s why it isn’t used for this purpose by the industry, its auditors, or the federal FDA. Yet Mr. Schneiderman, who said that “Secrecy breeds corruption, while transparency generates confidence” when launching an “open government” webpage, refuses to share even the basic methodology of his taxpayer-funded study.

Mr. Schneiderman’s junk science conclusion is a triple-whammy for gullible consumers. First, they think the supplements are magical pills with super-healing powers (without the risks of pharmaceuticals). Then, the anti-corporate AG tells them they’ve been defrauded, not because the herbs don’t work, but because the elixir isn’t present. Third, Mr. Schneiderman’s claim that consumers aren’t getting what they are paying for is made of whole cloth.

“Ironically,” wrote former FDA official and Hoover Institution scholar Dr. Henry Miller in Forbes, mislabeling the active ingredients would have been “the best thing about these products for consumers. Many herbal supplements are complex, highly variable and impure.”

In fact, Mr. Schneiderman’s other finding—that there were undisclosed plant products including wheat and rice—seems to be valid, and not at all surprising.

It is clear that Mr. Schneiderman believes that the FDA doesn’t have enough authority to crack down on the shady supplement industry. But that doesn’t give him license to use tactics reminiscent of 1970’s era tobacco industry chicanery to make claims that just aren’t true.

Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s prosecutor-in-chief, claims on his perpetual campaign web page that he has a record of standing up to financial institutions “that think they can play by their own rules.” Yet Mr. Schneiderman’s market-moving bogus attack on GNC and other retailers was founded entirely on his own rules-a bizarre application of a secret DNA test. Who’s going to hold him accountable?

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Green Slander: The Attacks on Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:58 AM

It is a sure sign that the advocates of the “global warming” and “climate change” hoaxes know that the public no longer believes that the former is occurring or that the latter represents an immediate, global threat.

Even though the “climate skeptics,” scientists who have produced research proving false methodology and the conclusions based on it are quite few in number, an effort to silence them by smearing their reputations and denying funding for their work has been launched and it is based entirely on a lie.

Scientists are supposed to be skeptical, not only of other scientist’s findings, but their own. Good science must be able to reproduce the results of published research. In the case of the many computer models cited as proof that global warming was occurring or would, the passing years have demonstrated that none were accurate.

As Joseph L. Bast, president of The Heartland Institute and Joseph A. Morris, an attorney who has fought in several countries to defend free speech, wrote in a February 24 commentary, “The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon,” of an article co-authored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates, and published in the Science Bulletin, a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences “The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three.” (Emphasis added) Their commentary has been downloaded more than 30,000 times!

“If the work of Soon et al is confirmed by other scientists, the ‘global warming crisis’ may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.” However, “having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.”

Little wonder the “Warmists” are worried; the Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1996. People are noticing just how cold this record-breaking and record-setting winter is.

The attack on Dr. Soon began with a Greenpeace news release that was republished on the front page of The New York Times on February 22nd. Despite its august reputation, The Times’ coverage of climate issues has been an utter disgrace for decades. As public interest waned, it eliminated its staff of reporters exclusively devoted to writing about the “environment.”

Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic and director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted on February 27th that the Greenpeace attack on Dr. Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics claimed they had secured $1.2 million in funding for his research over the past decade and that it came from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies.  The truth, however, is “that the grants were made not to Dr. Soon but to the Smithsonian, which never complained while taking its sizable cut off the top.”

Columnist Larry Bell who is also an endowed professor at the University of Houston, disputed the Greenpeace claim, saying, “First, let’s recognize that the supporting FOIA documents referred to an agreement between the Smithsonian (not Dr. Soon) and Southern Company Services, Inc., whereby 40 percent of that more than $1.2 million went directly to the Smithsonian” leaving “an average funding of $71,000 a year for the past eleven years to support the actual research activities.”

Focusing on Greenpeace and its Climate Investigations Center which describes itself as “a group funded by foundations seeking to limit the risks of climate change”, Bell asked “Do these activist organizations make their estimated $360,000,000 annual funding publicly available?” Bell said “Ad hominem assaults disparaging the integrity of this leading authority on relationships between solar phenomena and global climate are unconscionable.”

In his article, “Vilifying realist science—and scientists,” Paul Driessen, a policy advisor to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), noted that in 2012 Greenpeace USA was the recipient of $32,791,149 and that this is true of other environmental pressure groups that in 2012 secured $111,915.138 for the Environmental Defense Fund, $98,701,707 for the Natural Resources Defense Council, $97,757,678 for the Sierra Club, and, for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, $19,150,215.

“All told,” noted Driessen, “more than 16,000 American environmental groups collect(ed) total annual revenues of over $13.4 billion (2009 figures). Only a small part of that comes from membership dues and individual contributions.”  With that kind of money you can do a lot of damage to scientist’s reputation.

They fear that the public may actually learn the truth about “global warming” and the fear-mongering claims about “climate change” does not stop with just the environmental organizations. At the same time The New York Times was printing the Greenpeace lies, U.S. Senators Ed Market (D-Mass), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined together on February 25th to send letters to 107 companies, trade associations, and non-profit groups demanding comprehensive information about all funding of research on climate or related issues.

Among the groups receiving the letter were two for whom I am a policy advisor, The Heartland Institute and CFACT, but others include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the American Energy Alliance.

Following The New York Times article, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to the presidents of seven universities asking them to provide details about seven professors who are either prominent global warming skeptics.

As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, pointed out on February 27th, that “Science as an enterprise usually doesn’t need political enforcers. But proponents of a climate alarmism that demands immediate action to avert worldwide catastrophe won’t and can’t simply let the science speak for itself.”

This is not fact-finding. It is an act of intimidation.

And it looks like a carefully organized effort to quash any research that might dispute “global warming” or “climate change” as defined by the Greens and by both the President and the Secretary of State as the greatest threat we and the rest of the world faces.

The greatest threat is the scores of environmental organizations that have been exaggerating and distorting their alleged “science” in order to thwart development here and around the world that would enhance everyone’s life. Now they are attacking real scientists, those who are skeptical of their claims, to silence them.

This is what fascists do.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog

Will Agenda 21 Continue to go Forward Despite Proven Deception?

Somewhat Reasonable - February 28, 2015, 11:25 AM

Man-made climate change alarmists continue to be caught revising history. There is a simple concept that continues to be on display here:   If present reality, facts and figures aren’t cooperating with your desired goal, just change them to fit your desired outcome. “Fiddling” with temperature data is the biggest science scandal to date, and one of the least reported by the main stream media.

A report published in 2012 by Charlotte Meredith notes 100 reasons why climate change is natural and not man-made. Meredith’s list of 100 is excellent and should convince any climate alarmist to have second thoughts about man-made global warming.  Consider the following:

  • Data indicates there were warmer periods in our Earth’s history, at least 800 years before the more recent increases in CO2 levels.
  • After World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.

James Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News, disputes the 10 assertions assembled by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) which are considered by EDF to be the most powerful global warming assertions in the alarmists’ playbook.

Obama’s budget calls for billions in Climate Funding for renewable energy and emissions reductions.  This revelation should make sensible people wonder how the world survived for billions of years without funding?  Interesting reading is“How we are being tricked by flawed data on global warming” and Meteorologist: ‘In the business world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data’…

Suspension of disbelief applicable to global warming

Samuel Coleridge, poet, literary critic, and philosopher, coined the term“suspension of disbelief” in 1817:

“It is a tacit understanding between storyteller and audience. The storyteller weaves a fantastical tale and, for the duration of the tale-telling, the audience willingly suspends its disbelief in, say, talking animals or scary monsters or post-apocalyptic Earth. But there are limits to suspension of belief. If a storyteller creates a paradigm, and the audience buys into it, that paradigm can’t suddenly be turned upside down.”

This governing suspension rule also is applicable to global warming. The scientific community has told the tale that human activity is dangerously overheating the planet. The left-leaning mainstream media has amplified that alarmist narrative.  As the saying goes: “Tell a tale often enough and people will begin to believe it to be a fact.”

A dichotomy exists between this nation’s government and the public’s perception of Global Warming.   With data surfacing that denied the Earth was warming, and in fact showed it could be cooling, the term began to morph into a safer label:  “climate change”.  A recent January Pew Research Center Poll shows that the public disagrees with claims of man-made climate change. Other surveys have shown people are more likely to say they agree that climate change is real, but they do not express fear or consider it a significant threat to them.  One big exception is President Obama.  As confirmed by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday, Feb. 10, President Obama stated in an interview with Vox, that climate change is a bigger threat to national security than terrorism”. Obviously, the President has not been reading the newest data from unbiased and credible sources on either of those subjects.

It is understandable that the public has been at odds with President Obama’s perception of global warming, which can be attributed to the public becoming less and less willing to become alarmed over unproven claims produced by climate change promoters.   Consider the February 15th post at Heartland’s “Somewhat Reasonable” which spoke of severe cold weather occurring in New England, the Northeast, Michigan and Chicago.  A group of climate change activists at Yale University had to cancel its scheduled global warming protest, due to severe cold weather. America is not alone in suffering winter disasters.  The Guardian reported the death rate in England and Wales nearly a third higher than normal for this time of year, as was also the situation in the prior five years.

The suspension of public belief by the American people seems to be related, in large part, through direct observation of what is happening around them. Enough time has passed without witnessing Al Gore’s threats becoming a reality, such as massive icebergs melting, with polar bears stranded, and seas rising.  The public also noticed that when the warming trend stopped, its promoters found a new, less restricting label: “climate change”.  They hoped most people would not realize the all-encompassing terminology gave climate alarmists a huge umbrella under which to peddle their propaganda.  The new name allowed most any weather condition to be blamed on man-made causes.

Even though global warming was no longer the trend, and in spite of reporters being told by their superiors to stop interviewing ‘irrelevant’ climate change critics, more and more people began to doubt the whole premise of man-made climate changes caused by burning fossil fuels. 

Bad environmental reporting abounds

A post originally published at Roy Spencer’s blog, calls out Justin Gillis, a New Climate Science reporter, for his recent NYT article “What to Call a Doubter of Climate Change?” as an example of just how bad environmental reporting has become.  In his article Gillis expounds upon a fight that has been going on for a long time, which is what to call the various factions in the long-running political battle over climate change.  Through a public appeal that garnered 22,000 plus signatures, the resulting petition asks the news media to abandon the most frequently used term for people who question climate science, “skeptics,” and to instead call them “climate deniers”.  Roy Spencer, as a skeptical Ph.D. climate scientist, and having worked in the climate field for over a quarter century, reflected how he doesn’t know of any other skeptic who even “doubts climate change”.  Our climate system has changed and will continue changing, as evidence proves it has been doing long before anything man could possibly have done to facilitate the change.   Furthermore, most skeptics believe humans have at least some small role in that change, but tend to believe it might well be more natural than SUV-caused.

The United States isn’t the only country who is pushing the UN’s Agenda 21 on Climate Change through its own EPA regulations and President Obama’s executive orders.  A world wide effort is taking place. Two hundred countries will get together in June to agree on a draft to slow climate change.  The draft document will serve as a blueprint and is the first step towards negotiating a deal to be agreed upon in Paris later this year and scheduled for implementation in 2020.  This UN action is all happening under the premise held by a panel of UN climate scientists who continue to claim man-made climate change is causing downpours and raising sea levels, due to ice melts and extreme heat.

Debunking UN claims that last year’s temperature caused a rising sea level, a new paper shows temperature and sea levels were 20 to 30 feet higher during the past interglacial cycle,125,000 years ago, than at present – and all without human intervention. The authors wrote, “[S]ea-level rise in the Last Interglacial period was driven by the same processes active today – thermal expansion of seawater, melting mountain glaciers and melting polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica – most was driven by polar ice sheet melt.  All of the factors or processes listed are natural and are common between ice ages, regardless of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.” The paper was published in the January issue of Quaternary Science Reviews.

In another recent article published in the Wall Street Journal, skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg makes several excellent points.  He stated that while carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than most scientists have predicted, data shows we are seeing 90 percent less temperature rise than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The various horrific weather events that were supposed to flow from global warming have not come to pass.  Contrary to predictions, Antarctic sea ice is expanding, the rate of sea-level rise is slowing, and droughts and hurricanes are not increasing in number, duration, or strength. Lomborg reported that climate change is not worse than we thought [and though] we’re told that things are worse than ever, the facts disagree.

Thorner and O’Neil’s Part 3 article on this subject, indicated volcanoes on land were designated as a natural source of CO2.  A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters explained that vast ranges of undersea volcanoes flare up on regular cycles, ranging from two weeks to 100,000 years. The cyclical outbursts are apparently tied to short and long-term changes in Earth’s orbit, as well as sea levels. The volcanoes may also help trigger natural climate swings.  If confirmed, that information will be more proof that humans play a relatively small role in any climate change, and that it is our own Earth and sun that are the indicators of our climate and its constant changes.

Preview of addendum to Part 4

Because of the length of Part 4, as originally written, the authors thought it best to divide so reading wouldn’t be too time consuming.

There exists an urgency for the public to know what the UN Agenda 21 is all about as it relates to the environment. Evident is the push to limit the use of fossil fuels under the assumption that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of man-made global warming, but might there be a convert reason at play, that of reducing populations by making life even more difficult for third world poor populations to prosper?

Questioned and documented in our Addendum to Part 4 is whether the rate of people reproducing needs to be controlled in order to save the environment.  It is postured that human population growth is a major contributor to global warming, as humans use fossil fuels to power their increasingly mechanized lifestyles

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

The real face of unemployment and underemployment

Somewhat Reasonable - February 28, 2015, 10:34 AM

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Brian Perry is a college-educated law clerk who worked at the Providence, Rhode Island-based Lovett, Scheffrin, and Harnett law firm for more than 25 years before being laid off in 2008. Since then, Perry has relentlessly searched for quality work, but he’s been unable to find anything stable. With minimal income, no solid job leads, and costs beyond what he could manage, Perry was forced to sell his home a few weeks ago.

“The sad thing is that many American families, especially here in Rhode Island, are worse off than I am,” Perry said in an interview.

Former professionals over the age of 40 are often not portrayed as the face of modern unemployment in the United States by many in the media. Americans hear a lot about recent college graduates who can’t find good jobs and about the unemployment rate in the African-American community topping 10 percent, but there isn’t a lot of talk about well-qualified job-seekers like Perry who have decades of work experience but can’t find any meaningful employment.

“But the unemployment rate has been dropping recently,” you’re undoubtedly thinking.

It’s true the unemployment rate for workers 40 and older (as well as for everyone else) has been dropping since 2010, but these figures are incredibly misleading. The primary reason for the drop is not better employment opportunities but rather is the result of millions of workers choosing to leave the labor force.

Most Americans still don’t realize it, but the government does not count people who have given up looking for work as “unemployed.” Additionally, workers who are forced to settle for far less hours and less pay are also considered “employed.” This is why one of the best ways to gauge the state of the economy is to look at the labor force participation rate instead of the unemployment rate, and an unbiased analysis of the data proves the economy is still in rough shape, regardless of what President Barack Obama says about the so-called “economic recovery.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of workers not in the labor force aged 45 and older was 39.3 million in 1985. By 2005, that number rose to 48.8 million. This was largely due to an increased number of Baby Boomers retiring, not a poor economy. But what took 20 years to occur in the past has occurred again during Obama’s relatively short time in office.

Since 2009, the number of people 45 and older not in the labor force grew by 9 million, and the national total in January topped 60 million, the highest figure ever recorded for that month. This is undoubtedly the result of many older Americans giving up looking for work or choosing to retire early because of a poor economy.

Some critics argue using the labor force participation rate as a gauge of the economic climate is foolish because it fails to distinguish between Americans who are no longer working because they can’t find employment and Americans who are choosing to retire because they are wealthy enough to do so.

It’s true that many Baby Boomers are just now retiring, but this cannot possibly account for the remarkable numbers mentioned above. From January 2005 to January 2009, a period when many Baby Boomers were also retiring, the number of people not in the labor force increased by roughly 2 million. This is an average increase of about 500,000 people per year. The average increase under the Obama administration has been greater than 1.5 million per year, three times that of the second half of George W. Bush’s presidency. If an aging nation is the reason for the changing workforce, the averages mentioned above should be much closer together.

My argument is buttressed by a 2013 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave that found nearly one-quarter of all people who retire do so because of unemployment, nearly the same number of respondents who said they retired because of financial security.

Obama and many Democrats say the economy is getting better. “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” Obama said during his January State of the Union address. “Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before. More of our people are insured than ever before.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said, “[There’s no] question the economic issues are an advantage for Democrats,” prior to her party getting walloped in the November 2014 elections.

In February 2014, former Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chaffee said his administration in Rhode Island created jobs and helped improve the state’s economy.

Brian Perry and millions of other Americans across the country aren’t buying it.

“I don’t think things have improved much since 2008,” Perry said. “Taxes are forcing the young and old out of their homes in this state. Rhode Island politicians and politicians in Washington, DC should realize families and businesses can’t grow in this kind of business environment. If these politicians lower taxes, more families and businesses will develop and grow. … A smart business owner would never come into this kind of situation.”

Perry is right. Unemployment figures offer nothing more than political theater. Further, the narrative that most demographics are enjoying a booming economy and only small, isolated pockets of people are still struggling just isn’t true. The economic climate as a whole is lagging, and many groups popularly thought to be “doing fine” are still limping along just like everyone else.

The current state of the economy is not solely the result of Obama’s policies. He inherited a massive financial crisis – a point the president loves to remind the nation every chance he gets. But at some point, the crisis Obama inherited became his own responsibility, as well as the responsibility of every state and local government in the nation.

Rather than hide behind manipulated employment data, politicians need to start honestly examining their failing economic policies and come up with reasonable solutions to fix them that don’t involve trillions of dollars of debt and a bankrupt nation.

“Lower taxes, eliminate unnecessary regulations, empower entrepreneurs. It’s not rocket science,” Perry said, proving once again why we need working-class Americans in government.

[Originally published on Human Events]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jesse Hathaway: Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 4:56 PM

Managing Editor of Budget and Tax News, Jesse Hathaway was a guest on The Brian Thomas Show on 550 WKRC-AM where he discussed Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws. Hathaway and Thomas discussed examples of when these laws are enforced and how they trample on due process.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: The Crucifixion of a Climate Scientist

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 4:40 PM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you every Fridaywith a highlight show.

Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Florida Lawmakers Propose Sin Tax on Nightclubs
Alexa Moutevelis, the Heartlander
Floridians heading to “gentlemen’s clubs” in the Sunshine State may soon be paying an extra cover charge. One would go to the bouncer, and another $10 would go to the state. No word yet on if this proposed new tax must be paid in singles. READ MORE

Better Price Controls Won’t Fix Medicare
Sean Parnell, Orange County Register
The Obama administration recently announced it will shift how it pays doctors under Medicare, seeking to reward “value” instead of “volume.” This is likely to be yet another fiasco, with elderly patients and taxpayers falling victim to the dreams of bureaucrats and central planners. READ MORE

The Crucifixion of Dr. Willie Soon
Sean Parnell, Orange County Register
The science is not on their side, so climate alarmists and their media allies are getting desperate and vicious with their smears and lies. They’ve gone full Alinsky on their latest target: Willie Soon. They are trying to freeze him, polarize him, and isolate him. It will not work. It must not work. READ MORE

 

 

Featured Podcast – Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL): Civil Asset Forfeiture
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) joins Budget & Tax News Managing Editor Jesse Hathaway to talk about the Internal Revenue Service’s use of civil asset forfeiture laws to seize innocent citizens’ assets based on questionable claims that they could be financial criminals. LISTEN TO MORE

 

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The Incompetent, Abusive, Dishonest, and Anti-Transparent Government Has Grabbed the Internet
Seton Motley, Somewhat Reasonable
Thursday was a very bad day for freedom. It is the day the free-speech, free-market Xanadu that is the Internet was unilaterally seized by the Obama administration. Per the president’s demand, the allegedly independent Federal Communications Commission is pretending to be Congress – and writing new Web-regulating laws for itself. READ MORE

 

Heartland Institute Experts React to Obama Veto of Keystone XL Pipeline
“In one fell swoop President Obama killed thousands of American jobs, raised domestic energy prices, and ensured greater U.S. dependence on oil from nations that are openly hostile to freedom, democracy, and the United States of America.”  READ MORE IL Gov. Bruce Rauner Goes After Healthcare Costs
Scott Reeder, the Heartlander
The governor some on the left have called “Scott Walker on steroids” wants to reduce what Illinois spends on health insurance for its own employees as well how much money it is funneling into Medicaid. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), however, acknowledged his proposed savings would only be fully realized if state worker unions cooperate. Good luck with that. READ MORE BONUS Podcast — Isaac Orr: The Fracking Revolution
Jim Lakely, director of communications at the Heartland Institute, discusses the latest news in the fracking revolution with Heartland energy Research Fellow Isaac Orr. They talk about boomtowns and the “downstream jobs” of the fracking revolution, especially the mining of frac sand in Wisconsin. 

 

Louisiana Lawmakers Propose State Film Tax Credit Reforms
Jeff Reynolds, the Heartlander
“I think it was Bastiat who wrote about ‘the seen and the unseen.’ The film tax credit is popular partly because it’s so visible,” said Kevin Kane, president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. “You see film crews all over town, you turn on television, and you see shows and movies that were filmed in Louisiana.” READ MORE

Obama Administration Preparing for Adverse SCOTUS Ruling on Obamacare
Sean Parnell, the Heartlander
The president has two very obvious plans. The first is to exert enormous amounts of political pressure on Congressional Republicans to add the words “or the federal government” right after the words “established by the state” in Obamacare. The second is to exert enormous amounts of pressure on states that didn’t set up exchanges to do so now. READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom!
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Categories: On the Blog

The Climate ‘Witch Hunt’ Backfires

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 4:27 PM

Sens. Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, have sent letters to 107 universities, companies, think tanks and trade groups demanding information about funding for eight scientists and any work that expresses even the slightest amount of skepticism over catastrophic human caused climate change.

In their testimonies before Congress these eight scientists have offered a varying degree of skepticism that humans are the primary driver of climate, and/or that specific policies being proposed by government to deal with the issue of climate change were going to be ineffective at curbing climate change, or too costly. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact, they have simply raised concerns about some aspects of the science, the economics, or cost and benefits of policies that are being presented to deal with human caused climate change.

The extremist left members of Congress are targeting: Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Roger Pielke, Jr. of The University of Colorado; Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology; David Legates of the University of Delaware; John Christy of the University of Alabama; Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Balling of Arizona State University; and Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University.

As a result of these inquiries, many scientists, members of the media, and others have rightly equated these inquiries and pressure to McCarthyism. Even Michael Mann, a Penn State climate scientist who is one of the biggest advocates for government action to address climate change, told the National Journal, “It does come across as sort of heavy-handed and overly aggressive.”

The American Meteorological Society sent a letter to Grijalva saying: “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee also sent a letter to the same 107 groups expressing concerns over the attacks on academic freedom. The letter explains: “Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.”

According to the New York Times, “Andrew Dessler, a mainstream climate researcher and a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, said that he had concerns about ‘fishing expeditions’ by Congress into researchers’ work, especially drafts of testimony requested in the letters from Representative Grijalva.”

Professor Pielke explained on his blog: “The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues…I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: ‘when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.’”

Dr. Curry has responded by writing, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus.”

Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well-financed advocacy groups and politicians with many “conflicts of interests” of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

This “witch hunt” has nothing to do with the scientists and organizations and their stances on public policy issues. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy, and they should not be allowed to win the day.

Letter by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today led all EPW Republicans in a letter promoting scientific discovery and academic freedom. The letter was sent to the same 107 recipients of letters sent earlier this week by Congressional Democrats to universities, private companies, trade groups, and non-profit organizations, asking for detailed information on funding climate science. As explained in the EPW Republican letter sent today, there is a real concern the Democrats inquiry may impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry and free speech.

“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the [Democrats] letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” said the Senators in today’s letter.

There has been a public outcry in response to the Democrats letters. Noted climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann spoke of the letters calling them “heavy handed and overly aggressive.” Earlier today the American Meteorological Society warned that the letters sent by Congressional Democrats send a “chilling message to all academic researchers.”

“At the end of the day, those disagreeing with certain scientific findings should judge them based on whether or not they are sound and transparent,” said Chairman Inhofe.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

February 27, 2014

Dear _______,

We write in regards to the recent request for information on your support of scientific research initiated by several of our colleagues in the United States Congress. At the outset, we are deeply concerned the letter calls into question the importance of scientific discovery and academic freedom. Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry.

Federal government-sponsored research is good and necessary, but such funding has limits. The federal government does not have a monopoly on funding high-quality scientific research, and many of the nation’s environmental laws require decisions be based on the best scientific information available—not just federally funded research. At the core of American ingenuity are those researchers who challenge the status quo whether in matters of climate, economics, medicine, or any field of study. Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.

The credibility of a scientific finding, research paper, report, or advancement should be weighed on its compliance with the scientific method and ability to meet the principles of sound science; in short, it should be weighed on its merits. The scientific method is a process marked by skepticism and testing, rather than dogma. If the work can be reproduced and independent experts have a fair chance to validate the findings then it is sound, irrespective of funding sources. Science the federal government uses to support regulatory decisions should also comply with the integrity, quality, and transparency requirements under the Information Quality Act and Office of Management and Budget Guidelines.

Indeed, science is only one criterion we must take into consideration when developing laws and regulations. Credible deliberation requires thoughtful analysis and an understanding of the economy, policy, and legal framework in which we function. Dissenting opinions fostered through the encouragement of all ideas is what truly facilitates intellectual prosperity and political discourse.

The letter you received from our colleagues is a wholly inappropriate effort to challenge these well-accepted truths. We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond. Above all, we ask that you continue to support scientific inquiry and discovery, and protect academic freedom despite efforts to chill free speech.
Sincerely,

Sen. Jim Inhofe, Chairman
Sen. David Vitter
Sen. John Barrasso
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
Sen. Mike Crapo
Sen. John Boozman
Sen. Jeff Sessions
Sen. Rodger F. Wicker
Sen. Deb Fischer
Sen. Mike Rounds
Sen. Dan Sullivan
###

Categories: On the Blog

The Word from Brazil

Somewhat Reasonable - February 27, 2015, 1:45 PM

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro from February 13 through the 17th was one heck of a party. It was celebrated by the locals, plus an estimated one million visitors, complete with fabulous parades, street parties and balls. Brazil is blessed with some great beaches, the most famous of which is Ipanema, thanks to the 1962 bossa nova classic “Girl from Ipanema”.

Brazil shares borders every other nation in South America except Ecuador and Chile, and has a range of geographic features from the Amazon rain forest to jungles, towering mountains, rivers and rolling plains. In 2016 Brazil will host the Summer Olympics.

I suspect that’s about the only knowledge of Brazil that most Americans have. Brazil is the largest nation in South America. Its most densely populated parts are in the south-central regions that include major cities like San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The only Portuguese-speaking nation in both North and South America, it has enjoyed economic growth, but that has slowed.

A friend from Brazil shared news that was not likely to show up except on the business pages because U.S. media tend to ignore Brazil and South America unless its bad news. Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras, has been caught up in a huge scandal that will lead to criminal proceedings. In early February, its CEO, Gracas Foster, and five other top executives resigned.

It’s a kickback scandal and what makes Brazil a place to watch is the fact that its president, Dilma Rousseff, served on Petrobras board of directors from 2003 to 2010 when the prosecutors allege that the kickbacks were occurring. Her political party is alleged to have received billions in money skimmed from the company.

In October 2014, she was reelected in what The Telegraph described as a “dramatic run-off and a tense campaign” which she won “by a whisker”, just 51.6% of the vote. She was the candidate of the Worker’s Party. The months leading up to the election included mass protests, the corruption scandal, and a stalling economy, slipping back into recession for the first time in five years.

Petrobras is the perfect example of why a government-run enterprise, socialism, is never a good idea. Worth $310 billion in 2008 and valued as the world’s fifth-largest company, today it is worth just $48 billion. There is a definite sense of crisis in Brazil as its government is posting record budget deficits after a collapse in prices for the soy, oil, and iron that the country exports. Its currency, the real, has seen a drop in value for the past six months. One observer suggests a possible military intervention to remove the president and others involved in the Petrobras scandal.

All that is bad news, but on top of it San Paulo, Brazil’s commercial capital, is running out of water as the reservoirs that supply the nearly twenty million people in the metropolitan area are close to running dry. The water literally goes off around 1 PM until the next day for a few hours but the state water utility denies it is rationing it. The water problem is estimated to last for four to five more years.

America has a long history of isolationism. Early Americans came here to get away from the problems in their home countries, but those problems have ways of affecting our lives as we have seen with the turmoil of Islamic fascism in the Middle East.

We would be well advised to keep an eye on Brazil (and Argentina and Venezuela) and hope it can resolve its current problems, but we can also give thanks that the U.S. is enjoying a boom in energy reserves, particularly oil and natural gas, that protects us against potential upheaval elsewhere in the world.

If we replace the current U.S. administration with one that understands and supports the growth of our energy sector, we will be on our way to a brighter future.

Categories: On the Blog

“Regurgitate Unsupportable Accusations, We Much?” Kert Davies is Back. Again

Somewhat Reasonable - February 26, 2015, 2:17 PM

A brief word of explanation about the first part of that title, it’s a variation of the “Resist, we much” teleprompter reading gaffe by the Reverend Al Sharpton, where he meant to say “Resist, we must” on his TV show. It lends itself to a variety of other overblown political situations which beg for a “Sharptonism” parody. The latest instances where Boston GlobeNew York Times, and Washington Post articles cited Kert Davies’ supposedly damaging documents (screencaptures herehere and here), in an effort to trash skeptic climate scientist Dr Willie Soon, invites exactly that kind of parody.

Funny how none of those publications bothers to mention (hiding appearances of bias, we much?) Davies’ former position as Greenpeace’s Research Director.

Regarding the Washington Post article in particular, the comical aspect of it is how the lateWashPo editor Ben Bradlee must be spinning in his grave at the sight of Chris Mooney as its author – Mooney being nothing like the thorough reporters who investigated the Watergate scandal under Bradlee’s command, but is instead apparently too much in love with Ross Gelbspan’s ‘industry-corrupt skeptic climate scientists’ accusation, as I described in my 2011 WUWT guest post. Conspicuous by its absence in Mooney’sWashPo bio is his association with Desmogblog, the anti-skeptic site built around the works of Ross Gelbspan.

But, that’s only part of the silliness. It isn’t simply that Kert Davies is also the source of this ‘breaking’ story for nine different science journals, it is the plain fact that there is nothing new in these reports that wasn’t already seen in older reports on Dr Soon which cited Davies just the same way.

The June 28, 2011 Reuters report about Dr Willie Soon’s “$1 million in funding” had the following quote from Davies:

“A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over twenty years by Big Oil and Big Coal,” said Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace US.

“Scientists like Dr. Soon who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists are pawns.”

The UK Guardian’s same-day variation written by John Vidal contained the identical quote from Davies, but Vidal skipped the last sentence in the Reuters article where Dr Soon said he’d gladly accept Greenpeace funding. An internet search of just that date and Dr Soon’s name shows just how far and wide those twin stories were spread.

Want to see a fun circular citation in action? Greenpeace’s own ExxonSecrets web site (created and run by Davies) has a page dedicated to Dr Soon, where it cites the above John Vidal Guardian article as the source to say Dr Soon received a million dollars of ‘big oil’ funding. Who did Vidal cite for that? Greenpeace.

All of that was in the summer of 2011. But back in the summer of 2009 — stop the presses — Kert Davies himself gave us the same ‘breaking news’ about Dr Soon’s funding at the Huffington Post (by default, HuffPo shows Davies current “Director, Climate Investigations Center” title, but rest assured that the Internet Archive for his 2009 article shows his then-current “Research Director for Greenpeace US” title):

Finally. After years of denying its role in the campaign of climate denial, Exxon has revealed a dirty secret, that it has and likely still is directly funding junk scientists. …

The new Exxon Giving report shows straight pipe funding, in the odd but specific sum of $76,106 to the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, home of Dr. Willie Soon…

Back in 2007, a giant 176 page official complaint was lodged at Ofcom, (the UK’s communications regulator of broadcasts) about skeptic climate scientists seen in the British video “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, and the complaint went so far as to include its criticism of Dr Soon’s non-speaking contribution to the film, while noting his ‘big oil’ funding. Who did the complaint cite for news of that? Kert Davies. Stop the presses! Breaking news!

However, this GelbspanFiles blog focuses on the origins of the overall smear of skeptic climate scientists. To see how Kert Davies fits into that, we have to go back about a decade earlier.

Prior to starting at Greenpeace in 2000, Davies worked at Ozone Action, the organization that merged into Greenpeace USA in 2000. Prior to that, he worked at the Environmental Working Group, which produced an undated Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) report titled “Affiliations of Selected Global Warming Skeptics” (“Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”’s copy here), which says the following near the end of page 2….

Willie Soon
Suspected fossil fuel funding – Compensation for services to Western Fuels Assoc. funded project

… and this on its page 3:

Organizational affiliations are from CLEARS database, compiled from primary sources and media reports. Additional research assistance provided by Ozone Action.
Funding information primarily compiled from:
Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On. Perseus Books: Reading, Massachusetts. 1997,1998
Ross Gelbspan, “The Heat is On,” Harpers. December 1995.
Ozone Action, Ties That Blind: Industry Influence on Public Policy and our Environment. March-December, 1996. …

Pages 4 through 10 at that Greenpeace scan collection is of CLEAR’s November 10, 1998 (one month after Davies began working at Ozone Action) report titled “Western Fuels Association’s Astroturf Empire.” Page 7 paraphrases a section of Ozone Action’s “Ties That Blind” report, having these key words:

According to documents obtained by environmental group Ozone Action and journalist Ross Gelbspan, ICE messaging strategies included targeting “older, less educated males” … and “younger, lower income women.” ICE’s stated goal was to reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”

My educated guess is that Gelbspan and Ozone Action ‘obtained’ those documents (assuming their statement is accurate) sometime around late 1995, since Gelbspan first mentioned them in a December 1995 radio interview. Who did they ‘obtain’ the documents from? Well, the above CLEAR report mentions the same “older, less educated males”/ “younger, lower income women” seen in Al Gore’s 1992 book. Note how Gore’s 1992 book pre-dates Gelbspan’s 1995 radio interview quote of those same words… yet Gore later prominently said Gelbspan discovered that memo set.

I can at least say Kert Davies had ties with Ozone Action as far back as 1997, since Greenpeace saved a copy (screencapture here) of his July 29, 1997 email from his Environmental Working Group address to a person at Ozone Action.

What is the critical missing element to this 20-year collection of ‘breaking news stories’ about skeptic scientists’ funding? Any scrap of evidence proving the skeptics falsified/fabricated data or conclusions as performance required under a monetary grant or paid employee contract. It’s all guilt-by-association and nothing more.

When gullible news outlets unquestioningly cite people from the same enviro-activist clique every time, failing to realize they could win Pulitzers if they turned the tables on sources of smear material, and when they egregiously allow members of that clique to be labeled as ‘reporters’, this all invites one more “Sharptonism” to be applied to the mainstream media:

Commit political suicide, we much?

 

[Originally published at GelbspanFiles]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Brad Rodu: Tobacco Harm Reduction

Somewhat Reasonable - February 26, 2015, 1:39 PM

In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, research fellow Jesse Hathaway is joined by Dr. Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Hathaway and Rodu talk about how the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  corrupt the scientific process in academia, by refusing to fund studies which do not conform to the federal government’s stated vision of a “tobacco-free world.”

According to Rodu, scientific research into tobacco harm reduction is rarely conducted, not because it lacks merit, but because the federal government provides the vast majority of funding for university research. In turn, studies are tweaked by researchers seeking grants, gaining lucrative grants by confirming the government’s preferred narratives and preconceived ideas.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Two Approaches to Climate Science

Somewhat Reasonable - February 25, 2015, 7:21 PM

www.livescience.com

I saw this blog a few weeks back but haven’t had a chance to share it until now. An interesting take on at least one way many climate alarmists differ from climate realists.

From a very interesting blog site, Bishop-Hill:

A colleague at work describes the difference as roughly the “trust me crowd” versus the “show me crowd”. The trust me crowd can show that some anthropogenic climate change has happened in the past and that models suggest that future conditions are going to get worse. They produce their documentation via the peer reviewed press and in doing so address all the touchstones of the scientific method. Having met the high bar of “good science” they anticipate that their word will be taken as good.

The show me crowd looks at the “good science” and points out that many historical predictions of doom and gloom (that previously met the test of good science) have been shown to be overheated or just plain wrong. They also point out that the best models have not done a very good job with respect to the “pause”. Given this they ask for a demonstration that the next prediction is going to be better than the last one. This does not mean that they deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Rather they are not comfortable with cataclysmic predictions and calls for immediate action prior to a demonstration that those predictions can be supported with something approaching real data.

Both the exchange that follows this post and the one that sparked the quote above are interesting reading.

 

Categories: On the Blog
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