On the Blog

James Taylor’s Polar Ice Article is Making Waves

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 5:21 PM

A recent article published by Forbes by Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor has been causing quite a stir. The article titled “Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat,” highlights the fact that global warming is not causing arctic melting that so many alarmists fear.

In the article, Taylor notes that the initial baseline for the ice extent was set in 1979 when the ice was “abnormally extensive.” But even recent satellite measurements show little change from this abnormally high baseline. As Taylor points out, this flies in the face of those, including Al Gore, who predicted an ice free Arctic by the year 2014.

The article has been very popular. It has been shared nearing 90,000 times and has had nearly 300,000 views. The article was even featured in a recent episode of the Mark Levin Show. You can listen to the clip above. But as you can imagine, the article did not sit well with climate activists.

In the wake of the Taylor article, climate alarmist Chris Mooney authored a response article published by the Washington Times. In this article, Mooney attempts to make the claim that global ice is in retreat. He states “Taylor doesn’t appear to distinguish between what’s happening to sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic.”

After the release of the Mooney article, Taylor decided to respond. In his response article titled “The Climate Alarmists’ Latest Argument About Polar Ice – And Why It’s Wrong,” Taylor dissects each argument point by point. He concludes by stating, “the objective fact remains that the short-lived, minor decline (mearly 10%) in polar ice extent is over, is now fully recovered, and has been since 2012.”

The back and forth has been a great thing to watch as the climate change debate goes on.

Categories: On the Blog

James Taylor On Fox & Friends Explains Why Common Core is Wrong on Global Warming

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 4:23 PM

A new controversy surrounding the already controversial federal Common Core standards relates to global warming. It has come to light recently that new science standards, adopted by 13 states so far, contain curriculum that conveys some disputed climate change assertions as fact. This new revelation has caused some to label the federal curriculum standards as government indoctrination.

A segment in a recent episode of Fox & Friends featured this topic. Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor joined host Brian Kilmeade to discuss the relationship between Common Core and global warming. In the clip posted below, Kilmeade lays out a number of the “facts” students are expected to learn in class. One of the more ridiculous lessons is that U.N. climate models can accurately predict global warming.

Taylor corrects the “fact” by stating U.N. climate models have been notoriously wrong. He explains that the new curriculum is the result of an increasingly centralized education system. When the lesson plans are written in Washington instead of on a local level, we should expect more of these instances. While this may be the newest outrage coming from Common Core, it surely won’t be the last.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Categories: On the Blog

Markets, Not Janet Yellen, Should Set Interest Rates

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 4:00 PM

Financial markets in the United States and around the world are all waiting with “bated breath” for when the Federal Reserve modifies its “easy money” policy and starts to raise interest rates. No one, however, asks a simple question: Why is the American central bank in the interest rate setting business?

In May 20th, the minutes were released of the April 2015 meeting of the Open Market Committee (OMC) of the Federal Reserve. The Open Market Committee decides when and by how much America’s central bank should intervene into the financial markets to influence the amount of money and credit in the banking system and, therefore, over time, in the U.S. economy as a whole.

The members, it seems, were still divided as to whether or not the OMC should start nudging interest rates up through monetary policy, or keep them at the low levels they have been at for years, with a majority leaning to not doing so until maybe September.

In its usual ambiguous language, the published summary of the OMC meeting stated that, “Many participants . . . thought it unlikely that the data available in June would provide sufficient confirmation that the conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate had been satisfied, although they generally did not rule out this possibility.”

The next day, Friday, May 21st, Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, spoke before the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce in Rhode Island and said she, “Thinks it will be appropriate at some point this year to take the initial step to raise the federal-funds rate target and begin the process of normalizing monetary policy.”

But she added that, “The Fed’s objectives of maximum employment and price stability would best be achieved by proceeding cautiously.”

How the Fed Creates Money and Influences Interest Rates

A key Federal Reserve policy instrument or “tool” is, as Yellen stated, the Federal Funds rate. This is the rate of interest that banks charge each other for overnight or short-term borrowing.

Every bank is required under Federal Reserve rules to maintain a certain amount of cash reserves against its outstanding depositor liabilities. On a daily basis, sums of money deposits flow in and money withdrawals flow out of every bank and financial institution. Sometimes banks find that the withdrawals have exceeded deposits into their vaults, and they are threatened with temporarily falling below that required minimum of cash reserves. At other times, the reverse may be the case, and deposits have exceeded withdrawals resulting in “excess reserves,” that is, those above the minimum required.

Banks borrow and lend funds between each other to cover and smooth out these temporary fluctuations in their deposit and withdrawal flows of cash, and a rate of interest emerges on the market reflecting the availability or “tightness” of such excess funds for some banks to lend to others running a bit short, short-term.

The Federal Reserve can influence this Federal Funds interest rate by purchasing or selling U.S. government securities. The Federal Reserve is prohibited by law from directly lending to the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury first borrows money to cover the government’s budget deficit by issuing IOUs – short-term or longer-term securities – to financial institutions or larger private lenders.

The Federal Reserve then goes into what is called the “secondary market” and offers to buy some of those securities being held by financial institutions or individuals, and pays for them by creating new money that then enters the banking system when those who have sold those government securities to the Federal Reserve deposit the check payments into their bank accounts.

The banks receiving those additional deposits of this new money now have larger excess cash balances with which to extend loans (after setting aside a small fraction as a required cash reserve against the depositor’s newly deposited money).

Finding themselves with larger available funds to lend, banks with try to attract interested and willing borrowers by lowering the rates of interest at which they offer to lend, given such things as the potential borrower’s creditworthiness and the type and term of the loan.

This includes the short-term Federal Funds rate at which banks are lending to each other. Money is said to be “easy” when the Federal Funds rates is low or falling, since this means the banking system is awash with cash to facilitate the reserve requirements of those banks briefly short of required reserves.

This process is reversed when (or if) the Federal Reserve sells government securities rather than buying them. The purchasers of those Treasury securities from the Federal Reserve’s portfolio pay for them out of their bank accounts. This “drains” reserves out of the banking system, tending to push up interest rates, as funds for lending purposes (all other things remaining the same) are reduced.

$4 Trillion of New Money, But Low Price Inflation

Since 2009, the Federal Reserve has been adding loanable funds into the banking system is such a large amount (around an extra $4 trillion) over the last five and a half years that the Federal Funds rate, when adjusted for the rate of price inflation has been “negative” virtually the entire time, as have one-year Treasury securities.

And reflecting this, interest rates on various commercial and other loans have been “dirt cheap,” again, especially when adjusted for price inflation as measured, say, by the Consumer Price Index.

It may be asked, why, if this is the case, price inflation has not been much higher with $4 trillion of extra loanable funds in the banking system? Sure, with that much additional money in the economy prices in general should have been rising much higher than the CPI measured rate of price inflation of far less than two percent a year.

Fearful of the price inflation its own “easy” monetary policy might generate, the Federal Reserve has been paying banks not to lend a sizable portion of that $4 trillion by offering banking institutions a rate of interest slightly above what it could earn by lending to you and me. Thus, nearly $3 trillion of the $4 trillion have sat in the banks as unlent “excess reserves.”

In viewing and treating interest rates as “policy tools” to influence the general levels of employment and prices in the economy, the Federal Reserve prevents interest rates from doing their “job” in a functioning market economy.

Market-Based Interest Rates have Work to Do

In the free market, interest rates perform the same functions as all other prices: to provide information to market participants; to serve as an incentive mechanism for buyers and sellers; and to bring market supply and demand into balance.

Market prices convey information about what goods consumers want and what it would cost for producers to bring those goods to the market. Market prices serve as an incentive for producers to supply more of a good when the price goes up and to supply less when the price goes down; similarly, a lower or higher price influences consumers to buy more or less of a good. Finally, the movement of a market price, by stimulating more or less demand and supply, tends to bring the two sides of the market into balance.

Market rates of interest balance the actions and decisions of borrowers (investors) and lenders (savers) just as the prices of shoes, hats, or bananas balance the activities of the suppliers and demanders of those goods. This assures, on the one hand, that resources that are not being used to produce consumer goods are available for future-oriented investment, and, on the other, that investment doesn’t outrun the saved resources available to support it.

Interest rates higher than those that would balance saving with investment stimulate more saving than investors are willing to borrow, and interest rates below that balancing point stimulate more borrowing than savers are willing to supply.

There is one crucial difference, however, between the price of any other good that is pushed below that balancing point and interest rates being set below that point. If the price of hats, for example, is below the balancing point, the result is a shortage; that is, suppliers offer fewer hats than the number consumers are willing to buy at that price. Some consumers, therefore, will have to leave the market disappointed, without a hat in hand.

Central Bank-Caused Imbalances and Distortions

In contrast, in the market for borrowing and lending the Federal Reserve pushes interest rates below the point at which the market would have set them by increasing the supply of money on the loan market. Even though savers are not willing to supply more of their income for investors to borrow, the central bank provides the required funds by creating them out of thin air and making them available to banks for loans to investors. Investment spending now exceeds the amount of savings available to support the projects undertaken.

Investors who borrow the newly created money spend it to hire or purchase more resources, and their extra spending eventually starts putting upward pressure on prices. At the same time, more resources and workers are attracted to these new investment projects and away from other market activities.

The twin result of the Federal Reserve’s increase in the money supply, which pushes interest rates below that market-balancing point, is an emerging price inflation and an initial investment boom, both of which are unsustainable in the long run. Price inflation is unsustainable because it inescapably reduces the value of the money in everyone’s pocket, and threatens over time to undermine trust in the monetary system.

The boom is unsustainable because the imbalance between savings and investment will eventually necessitate a market correction when it is discovered that the resources available are not enough to produce all the consumer goods people want to buy, as well as all the investment projects borrowers have begun with the newly created money for which real savings does not exist to complete or fully sustain them.

Federal Reserve Policies Bring About the Boom and the Bust

What is important to understand is that while price inflation carries it own negative effects on the economy by eroding the real value, or buying power, of the money in people’s pockets, the most serious consequences of monetary expansion and interest rate manipulation are those distortions and imbalances brought about in the underlying supply and demand relationships between savings and investment in the economy.

That is why even if price inflation, as measured by such statistical methods as the Consumer Price Index, may seem moderate or even near zero, as in recent circumstances, the most serious effects brought about by Federal Reserve monetary policy are those beneath the surface of the macroeconomic aggregates of total employment, total output, or the “general price level” of goods and services.

Janet Yellen and the other members of the Board of Governors may be waiting for price inflation to rise into the neighborhood of two percent a year (their desired “target” for inflation) before being seriously concerned about the impact of their own easy money policies. But by that time, beneath that macroeconomic surface of statistical aggregates and averages, the savings and investment patterns and the use and allocation of labor and other resources among different sectors and activities in the economy will have been given a “wrong twist.”

As a consequence, Yellen’s monetary and interest rate policies meant to assure full employment and stable prices will have set the stage for another “bust” following another unsustainable “boom.”

In her address in Rhode Island Janet Yellen recalled taking economics classes at Brown University and thinking, “Gee, I didn’t realize how much influence the Federal Reserve has on the health of the economy. If I ever have a chance at public service” working at the Federal Reserve “would be a worthwhile thing to do.”

The only way to bring an end to these cycles of booms and busts is to end Federal Reserve power and authority to manipulate the money supply and interest rates. But that is unlikely to happen any time soon with “activist” policy addicts like Yellen running the central bank who think it is “a worthwhile thing to do.”


[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Larry Bell: Scared Witless, Prophets and Profits of Global Doom

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 3:12 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett speaks with Larry Bell. Bell is an endowed professor of Space Architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the Graduate Program in Space Architecture. Burnett and Larry discuss his 2nd book on climate change titled “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Global Doom.”

Bell exposes the “climate alarm industry” the scientists, regulators, politicians, environmentalists and commercial interests to that profit from hyping fears of climate change. He also discusses those who would benefit either financially, or with expanded authority and power (or both) from harmful climate policies.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: EPA Claims Control Over Puddles

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 1:35 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 Friday with a highlight show. Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Martin Duggan, RIP
Joseph Bast, Somewhat Reasonable
A founder of the school choice movement has passed away. Martin Duggan was a marvelous man who dedicated much of his long life to helping parents enroll their children in schools that would give them a better chance of succeeding in life. Martin will be sorely missed, and our sympathy goes out to his copilot in life, Mae Duggan, along with our sincere thanks to her for sharing Martin with us for all those years.  READ MORE

New Policy Brief: Best Options for Potential Nuclear Power Plant Closings in Illinois James M. Taylor and Taylor Smith, Heartland Policy Brief Exelon, whose wholly owned subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, provides electricity to 70% of Illinois’ residents, is demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to bail-out its supposedly unprofitable nuclear power plants. Existing renewable power mandates already force expensive power options on Illinois consumers, unnecessarily driving up electricity prices across the state. Why allow another pig to line up at the trough? READ MORE EPA Claims Control Over Puddles Emily Zanotti, Somewhat Reasonable In an almost breath-taking grab for more power than ever before granted to a government bureaucracy in the U.S., EPA is claiming authority over every body of standing water in existence – including drainage ditches, overflow reservoirs, and even potholes in your street. Will Congress finally act to rein in the EPA? READ MORE Featured Podcast: Devon Herrick on FDA Driving Up Drug Costs Millions of people suffer needlessly and thousand die every year because of the slow and antiquated methods used by the Food and Drug Administration to approve new drugs. FDA has a backlog of around 4,000 new drug applications, many of which won’t become available to needy patience for a decade or longer. In other cases, FDA needlessly forces consumers to pay higher prices to prove a drug that’s been used safely for decades is “actually” safe.  LISTEN TO MORE  

Heartland – A Great Nonprofit If you love The Heartland Institute and its efforts on behalf of individual liberty and smaller government, tell the world! You have an opportunity to help us make even more of a difference. GreatNonprofits – a review site like TripAdvisor – honors highly reviewed nonprofits with its Top-Rated Awards. Won’t you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your experience with us? All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and takes only 3 minutes! GET STARTED NOW  Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat James M. Taylor, Forbes Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. This is especially notable when you take into account Al Gore’s prediction of an ice-less arctic cap by the year 2014.  READ MORE FDA Going ‘Full Speed Ahead’ on E-Cig Regulations Warner Todd Huston, The Heartlander While it delays approval of potentially life-saving drugs, FDA is moving toward extinguishing the best thing that ever happened to smokers: the emergence of vaping as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. “In fact, e-cigarettes have become the greatest source of ‘creative destruction’ that we’ve seen against the tobacco industry,” California Polytechnic State University professor of economics Michael L. Marlow said. “But unfortunately, maybe it’s also a source of creative destruction for those who make a living out of tobacco control.”   READ MORE

Sign Up Now for Our Climate Conference: June 11–12 in Washington, DC The Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (#ICCC10) will take place Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, 2015 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC. There is still time to register for tickets at the link above. If you cannot make it in person, you can watch the entire conference live online at Heartland.org. Confirmed speakers include Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Lamar Smith, author Mark Steyn, and some of the leading climate scientists and energy policy experts in the world. SEE WHAT’S NEW Bonus Podcast: Heather Kays on Lindsay Lohan, Cell Phones and More Research Fellow Heather Kays was a guest on the Freedom Works Show on WTAM-AM in Tampa, Florida. Kays and host Paul Malloy talked about parent reactions to actress Lindsay Lohan serving community service in a preschool, whether or not cell phones should be banned in schools, teacher evaluations in Florida, and school choice in Montana.  LISTEN TO MORE Greenpeace’s Dirty Money Ron Arnold, The Daily Caller The list of foundations giving Greenpeace oil profits goes on and on, yet Greenpeace goes on and on hypocritically taking oil profits to back campaigns aimed at undermining America’s energy future. This cabal could redeem itself instantly: It could just stop using any fossil fuels right now.  READ MORE Heartland’s Last Author Series Event at 1 South Wacker Features Larry Schweikart Nancy Thorner, Illinois Review The Heartland Institute’s final Author Series event before moving to its new facility in Arlington Heights featured Larry Schweikart, who along with co-author Michael Allen wrote the newly released 10th anniversary edition of A Patriot’s History of the United States.  READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.  
Categories: On the Blog

Dust in the Wind: Kansas Repeals ‘Green’ Energy Requirement

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 12:22 PM

Higher energy prices are blowing in the wind.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback yesterday signed legislation that removes a regulatory requirement that renewable resources must provide for 20 percent of the electricity generating capacity of utilities in the state.

Green energy companies — specifically wind power companies — consented to the proposal to turn the “mandate” into a “nonbinding goal.”

As part of the dramatic environmental policy shift, state legislators scuttled a proposal to impose a 4.33 percent tax on the electricity generated from “renewable resources.”

The accord also will give all new green energy companies tax-free status for the first 10 years of their operation, but after a decade, they will be required to pay commercial property taxes, like other conventional firms. Renewable power plants are currently given a lifetime exemption from property taxes in Kansas.

Analysts were enthusiastic about the development.

“A big victory that has been a long-time coming,” said John Nothdurft, director of government relations at The Heartland Institute, in reaction to Gov. Brownback signing the bill yesterday. “States are now moving in the right direction and rolling back these policies.”

Categories: On the Blog

Martin Duggan, RIP

Somewhat Reasonable - May 29, 2015, 9:24 AM

I received notice today of the passing of Martin Duggan, a marvelous man who dedicated much of his long life to helping parents enroll their children in schools that would give them a better chance of succeeding in life. It was a noble cause that benefited literally millions of children across the U.S., only a tiny fraction of whom will ever know the name of their benefactor.

The Heartland Institute gave Martin and Mae, his equally wonderful and committed wife, a Heartland Liberty Prize at our anniversary benefit in 1999. It was a small gesture to a couple who deserved much, much more. Four-hundred-and-fifty people attended that event at the Palmer House in Chicago and gave the Duggans a well-deserved standing ovation. (Walter Williams delivered the keynote address that year.)

Over the years, Heartland did many projects with CEF, playing junior partner to two giants in what we all understood to be the most important civil rights movement of the late-twentieth and now the twenty-first centuries. Their commitment, sacrifices, and cheery disposition in the face of determined opposition from the “public school monopoly” provided the best role models Diane and I could ever ask for.

The Duggans honored me by allowing me to deliver keynote addresses at the 35th (1994), 40th (1999) and 50th (2009) anniversary celebrations of Citizens for Educational Freedom, the first organization created in the U.S. to advocate for school choice (and vouchers in particular). (The photo above is from the 2009 event.) I’ll never forget those events or the kindness extended by the Duggans to someone nearly 40-years their junior and whose contributions to the cause were tiny compared to their own.

Martin will be sorely missed, and our sympathy goes out to Mae, along with our sincere thanks to her for sharing Martin with us for all those years.

Categories: On the Blog

Radical Eco-Activists Hijacking the Pope’s Message on the Environment?

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 4:20 PM

Radical activists are hijacking the forthcoming papal encyclical on the environment and the planned appearance by Pope Francis before the U.S. Congress and the U.N. General Assembly this Fall to promote their own secular, “progressive” agenda.

No one knows for certain, however, whether His Holiness tacitly approves of these radical tactics, or whether he has told his underlings, and their U.N. confreres, to cease and desist with their misleading statements, so to speak.

News reports on the controversy differ as to Pope Francis’s true disposition. But that has only, irrationally, emboldened the far-left environmentalists.

Liberal U.N. officials are self-righteously making the case in every media interview and op-ed they publish that “climate change is real” and that the church now says it is a “moral imperative” to reduce “unsustainable” global economic growth, fueled by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. “If God is with us, who can be against us,” said a recent report at The Daily Kos about the U.N. advising the Vatican at a recent climate workshop.

To be sure, the environmental activists have a lot at stake here. They want the U.S. to sign a proposed U.N. treaty, in the offing this Fall in Paris that would constrain global economic growth by cutting the use of fossil fuels. The progressives want to appropriate the Pope’s planned statements and homilies this Summer and Fall on the environment to give them the moral high ground in the global debate over climate change.

The leftists also hope you, and others who follow the news, have a very short attention span, and give no weight to the fact that they routinely deny the existence of God, and the truth that progressive activists voted on a plank requesting that the name of God be stricken from the platform of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In other words, these radicals lack any credibility here on issues of religious faith, and how faith can inform one’s daily life. They are disingenuously spinning the Pope’s statements on the environment for their advantage, and hoping that you and I don’t notice.

One of the more egregious assaults on the truth here was launched last week by the progressive SuperPAC American Bridge which misappropriates the words and image of the Roman Pontiff in a secular TV ad bashing those who would dare disagree with the environmentalist extremist agenda.

The 53-second Spanish-language ad contrasts images of the Koch Brothers – the environmental bêtes noiresof the Left – and the humble, kind and friendly Francis. The ad claims that the American right-wing – financed by the Kochs – is trying to get the Pope to lose his faith in the left’s environmental agenda. It’s all completely over-the-top.

What’s missing here is a proper, prudent perspective. The liberals’ belief that the Pope has somehow become a wild-eyed crusader for the environmental alarmist cause, in fact, completely contrasts with the context in which he, as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has spoken on the issue of the environment.

Like his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Francis has stated that man has a duty to be a judicious steward of the environment. These teachings are right out of Genesis 1:1-25, 1:26-31, and 2:7, which state than man is charged by God with cooperating with Him and utilizing His creation for divine purposes.

“A Christian who does not protect creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God; that work that was born from the love of God for us,” Francis said in a homily earlier this year. “And this is the first response to the first creation: protect creation, make it grow.”

Viewed in the context of the Bible and church teachings on the environment during the last 30 years, Francis’s statement seems to be a rather standard homiletic exhortation to live life guided by the scripture.

But, unlike his predecessors, Francis is perceived in the world media as a liberal, himself, and the Left fullyexpects him to take their side in political arguments over abortion, divorce, gay marriage, and the environment.

Never mind that the Church has not abandoned its stance on divorce and gay marriage, and shows no signs of doing so, the secular liberals still breathlessly anticipate that Francis will join them on the radical environmental ramparts.

This is the kind of suspension of disbelief that one usually sees among those watching a futuristic science fiction movie, not the mindset of those accurately analyzing the real world.

Though the planet has not warmed, research shows, for 18 years, the environmentalists believe it has. This belief has now been fused with the left’s foolish faith that the church agrees with their global warming hypothesis.

[Originally published at CNSnews]


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Devon Herrick: FDA vs. Generic Drugs

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 3:54 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, National Center for Policy Analysis health care policy expert Devon Herrick joins Managing Editor of Health Care News Kenneth Artz. Herrick and Artz discuss how the policies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are needlessly driving up the cost of generic drugs.

Herrick says some drug inflation is due to slow action by the FDA, which has a backlog of around 4,000 abbreviated new drug applications. In other cases, the FDA is needlessly forcing consumers to pay higher prices to prove a drug that’s been used safely for decades is actually safe. Currently, there are more than 1,000 drugs that preceded the FDA’s approval process and were grandfathered. Even though these have been around for decades, the FDA wants to get them off the market and replaced by a version that has been clinically tested and approved.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Merchants of Doubt: A Climate Change Dud

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 3:48 PM

Marc Morano was great in the film. It flopped anyway.

Financially speaking, Merchants of Doubt, which purports to debunk global warming skeptics by revealing their nefarious sources of funding, is a dud. Three box office sales reporting sites, The NumbersBox Office Mojo, and Pro Box Office all show ticket sales of barely over $190,000 from its March 6 opening date through the first weekend of April. It is still showing in a handful of theaters through June 20th, but my inquiry to The Numbers site yielded a response from Nash Information Services, LLC in Beverly Hills that “Sony Pictures Classics hasn’t reported any box office for this film since the weekend of April 3.”

Content success is an entirely different matter. In any movie review, the reviewer’s objective is to explain how the movie succeeded or failed to tell its intended story. Documentaries face a tougher challenge than fictional movies, namely to successfully and accurately tell the story of a real-life situation.

Merchants of Doubt does indeed succeed at telling a tale in an attention-keeping way. People who accept its assertions without question say they have all the information they need to justify animosity against scientists who express skepticism about catastrophic human-induced global warming. However, if anyone deeply questions its assertions, the movie unravels.

Merchants of Doubt is no dud on presentation. Director Robert Kenner provides us with an entertaining opening, a consistent theme using a sleight-of-hand metaphors from “close-up card trick magician” Jamy Ian Swiss, and effective visuals, leaving viewers with a memorable impression about skeptic climate scientists being little more than the latest in a lineage of industry-paid and directed shills. So long as nobody checks the veracity of that impression, the movie accomplishes its goal.

For example, the movie claims the ClimateGate scandal was not a scandal but instead nothing more than a few leaked email statements taken out of context. But people can easily read those leaked emails in their full context and read analysis at ClimateAudit.org so intensely detailed about ClimateGate scientists’ actions that they might get migraine headaches from doing so. The movie also features former Greenpeace USA executive director John Passacantando, speaking vaguely about his role in ‘discovering industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists’, but people can check for themselves whether this so-called discovery happened while he was at Greenpeace, or at another organization, and whether that particular situation ever actually produced evidence proving its accusation was true.

There’s more: Merchants of Doubt portrays the Oregon Petition Project as worthless because of the fake scientist signer names found within it, but people can check for themselves to see if a certain organization played a role in planting a fake name in the petition, whether the other ‘fake’ names are actually in the petition, or just how many legitimate PhD-level scientists signed it.

For me, one of the more amusing instances in the movie came from former Republican South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis’ claims that he, as an affirmed conservative, lost his election solely because of his pro-global warming beliefs. Among the visuals for this passage was news video of the other completely unnamed Republican primary challengers he faced, which comically prompted a movie viewer seated near me to audibly gasp the name of one of those challengers: Trey Gowdy! People can do their own objective analysis to see whether Inglis was just as conservative as Gowdy, of course…. to the detriment of the movie.

Therein lies the problem with Merchants of Doubt. In what turned out to be a pair of hugely ironic statements, John Passacantando said the public will ultimately catch up on what is truly going on in the global warming issue, and at the 1:28 point of the movie’s trailer, Naomi Oreskes — who wrote the book the movie is based on — said, “It’s all about preventing you from looking at where the action really is, which is in the science.”

Problem is, the public may very well catch up to the fact that the collective two-decade effort to portray skeptic climate scientists as ‘paid shills of industry’ is all about distracting everyone from looking at what the issue actually is, an unsettled debate over whether human activity is the primary driver of what little global warming there’s been over the last century.

From my knowledge about the issue, Merchants of Doubt employs outright misdirection to tell the story of skeptic climate scientists’ alleged “misdirection.” Essentially anybody having full familiarity of the issue could do a Rush Limbaugh-style “stop the tape!” point-by-point dissection of the movie’s misdirection attempts. I’ll finish with one more item: the movie wants us to believe the issue is a battle of settled science versus ‘paid industry shills’ who have no credibility because they aren’t scientists, a sleight-of-hand trick specifically described within the movie as “once revealed, it cannot be concealed.” The problem is, Oreskes herself appears toward the end of the movie authoritatively proclaiming the near-certainty of a future plagued by rising seas from melting ice sheets, droughts, and other extreme weather. But she has no scientific expertise, she is no more than a history professor.

Indeed, a problem once revealed that now cannot be concealed.

Believers in human-induced global warming heartily recommend that you see the movie and trust all of what is said within it. For anyone near the handful of theaters still showing it through June, I also recommend that you see it, but that you also look deeper into every assertion it makes and see how many other problems are found in it that, once revealed, cannot be concealed.

[Originally published at the American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

Leo Catholic High School Students Provide Evidence Favoring School Choice

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 3:29 PM

A great example in Chicago of how school choice works, and works well, is Leo Catholic High School, a private all-male, secondary parochial high school located at 7901 South Sangamon Street in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago. Leo is home to a predominantly African–American student body, and the Chicago Archdiocese school is named in honor of Pope Leo XIII. Established in 1926 as the Congregation of Christian Brothers‘ first school in Chicago, Leo has educated thousands of boys from Chicago’s South Side and suburbs.

Student enrolled at Leo come from 26 different zip codes. Currently enrolled are several white students who live in the Canaryville section of Chicago, a largely Irish community on the South Side adjacent to Bridgeport. Leo’s current student body numbers 153 students with a full-time staff of 23.

Leo Alumni Succeed

Considering the success of Leo students who are guided by their school motto — “Deeds Not Words” — since 1926 Leo is where young men have learned to become leaders. Framed photos of successful alumni adorn the walls at Leo High School. Below are but a few of many successful Leo graduates:

  • Tom Garrity (class of 1930), a general and head of Air Force Logistics Command during World War II.
  • Kevin McCarthy, a Secret Service agent that took a bullet for President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

When touring Leo High School, a steep climb to the second floor revealed a most unusual site:  a full-fledged boxing ring.  #68  Thanks to Mike Joyce, the Leo High School Boxing Club is the only on-campus high school boxing program in the city.  Having graduated from Leo High School in 1986, Mike Joyce has served there as a volunteer coach since 1996. The Leo Boxing Program Coach started by Joyce has produced many Golden Glove Champions.  A sign on the wall above the boxing ring displayed these words:

Leo High School Tour Reflections

There were many favorable impressions when touring Leo High School.  Meeting our charter bus as it pulled up in front of Leo High School was the president of Leo Catholic High School, Dan McGrath, who in  reflecting his great pride for Leo in its 89th year, cited this amazing statistic: There has been a 100% graduate rate for the past six years, with 94% of Leo students going on to college. Such was reflected on the orange and black sign (Leo school colors) located in front of the school.  There are 27 students in this year’s graduating class. Behind the sign was a Veteran’s Memorial to honor the war dead, described as keeping in the proud military tradition of Leo High School.  Likewise noted by McGrath was that St. Sabina Church was located just down the road from the high school.

During the course of the tour these facts were related about Leo High School:

  • Educational experiences for Leo students include speakers of note and field trips.
  • One-half of the individuals that work at Leo are Leo graduates.
  • No student who wants a good education is turned away. Leo expects its students to succeed and to be the best they can be, as do parents who have a financial obligation.
  • Leo’s tuition is $7,000 a year, but no one pays this amount. 50 hours of volunteer work by parents over the course of the school years will lower tuition down to $5,000.  Alumni are also very generous, bringing the average tuition cost down to $4,000 per year. This is in contrast to $15,000 actual cost at Leo High Schooltp educate one student.  Based on 2014-15 published tuition rates, the average tuition of South Side Catholic Schools is $10,000.
  • Leo does face competition from other charter schools.  There are five in the 17th ward.
  • Leo provides a rigorous college prep program.  Although no direct subsidies are received from a religious institution (Leo does have a chapel), Leo benefit from the Big Shoulders Fund that supplies support to Catholic schools in the neediest areas of inner-city Chicago.  Big Shoulders performs prep work free for Leo students.
  • All teachers are non-union.  Teachers remain at the school for a good while, consider it a calling, and are dedicated to helping students succeed.  Teachers willingly stay after school to help students who fall behind.
  • There is a very supportive and interested alumni, loyal and dedicated, who often show up at Leo unannounced. This year’s alumni banquet attracted 700 Leo grads and guests.
  • Although the Leo high school building is structurally old and lacks the frills and attractiveness of school buildings located in more affluent areas, the structure is solid and was built to last.  Upkeep and maintenance costs are therefore kept at a minimum.

Nancy Thorner on tour at Leo Catholic High School – photo by Mark Weyermuller

A pressing problem facing Leo High School is that it’s land-locked, making expansion of the campus difficult. With this in mind a small land acquisition is being considered, made difficult because most of the money raised goes for tuition. Active parents’ and alumni clubs contribute much to the school’s financial well-being. As to the gym on the 3rd floor, it needs to be replaced.  And despite having won 7 state championships, Leo doesn’t even have a track to call its own.

When visiting the cafeteria, students  were dressed in either a solid colored shirt and tie or wearing an orange Leo polar shirt which students must buy. Although informed initially that a tie and shirt was the dress code from October thought April, it was later stated that a tie and shirt could be worn anytime if a student chose to do so, even in September and May.

Students Display Future Success and Leadership Skills

My most favorable impressions of Leo were of the students themselves.  The students assigned to be on hand to answer questions that might arise during the tour were polite, friendly, and well spoken.  As to this question posed by Thorner to the school’s president, Dan McGrath, during the course of the tour, “Do students always communicate so well in standard English?” His response:  “Although students might not do so when away from school, it is required of them when in school.”

It was also noticeable  how all students held eye contact when spoken to or in responding. McGrath explained how eye contact does not come naturally to Leo students. This attribute acquires much work to achieve.

It is evident that a private charter school like Leo High School is educating young men who are ready and willing to make a difference in society.  It amazed me to hear that no policeman is needed to maintain order or to ensure a good learning environment. This is in contrast to what Leo students would face if enrolled instead in a Chicago public school mandated by their home address.

Other stories from Amplify School Choice Conference include:

Thorner:  Vouchers in Waukegan?  It’s a real possiblity 

Thorner:  “Blended learning” could be an answer for America’s education woes 


[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Alarmists’ Latest Argument About Polar Ice – And Why It’s Wrong

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 2:52 PM

Expanding polar ice caps are defying alarmist global warming claims, sending global warming alarmists into desperate damage control. Since late 2012, polar ice extent has averaged greater than the long term mean. When I pointed this out in a recent Forbes.com column, and after more than a quarter million people learned the truth by reading my column, the alarmists predictably began searching for ways to spin the expanding polar ice. Fortunately, the truth will always win out over scientifically unsupported spin and fearmongering.

In an article posted yesterday at the Washington Post, climate alarmist Chris Mooney tries his hand at damage control. Responding to my article, “Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat,” Mooney makes three arguments: “1) total (or global) polar sea ice is in fact declining, according to both NASA and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Cryosphere Today; 2) if you analyze the Arctic and Antarctic separately — which makes more sense to do, as very different things are happening to sea ice in the two places — you realize that the Arctic sea ice decline in particular is very stark; 3) there is also bad news about the melting of ice atop land, based on data that are completely outside of this discussion, but that are perhaps the most worrying of all.” Let’s examine Mooney’s arguments one-by-one.

(1) Government-funded spokespersons at NASA and the University of Illinois’ Polar Research Group indeed have attempted to spin the latest polar sea ice data to preserve their bloated climate research budgets. Without an ongoing global warming crisis, their taxpayer-funded staffing and budgets will be cut. Fortunately, however, we don’t need to rely on people with a financial self-interest to “interpret” data that are readily available for objective review. And the objective polar sea ice data, linked here and explained in my Forbes.com column, show “the polar ice caps remained at approximately their 1979 extent until the middle of the last decade. Beginning in 2005, however, polar ice modestly receded for several years. By 2012, polar sea ice had receded by approximately 10 percent from 1979 measurements. (Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.) A 10-percent decline in polar sea ice is not very remarkable, especially considering the 1979 baseline was abnormally high anyway. … In late 2012, however, polar ice dramatically rebounded and quickly surpassed the post-1979 average. Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.”

You don’t have to take my word for it, you can see it for yourself in the data. Yes, there was a very modest decline from 2005-2012, but polar ice extent has averaged above the long-term mean since 2012. NASA and the University of Illinois’ Polar Research Group may argue polar sea ice may decline again in the future, but such self-serving speculation does not rebut the objective truth that polar ice extent has averaged above the long-term mean since 2012.

(2) Analyzing the Arctic and Antarctic polar ice data separately is disingenuous when the issue is global warming and global polar ice extent. Alarmists have long predicted a decline in Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice, and total global sea ice, yet only one of the three has occurred. Two of the three predictions have proven spectacularly wrong. Now, like a street-corner shell-game hustler hiding one ping-pong ball among three coconut shells, Mooney and other global warming alarmists tell us we should ignore the two datasets showing an increase in Antarctic and global polar ice extent and only consider the one dataset showing a decline in Arctic ice extent.

Mooney also claims the decline in Arctic ice extent is “very stark” and the increase in Antarctic ice extent is only “modest.” If that is the case, then how does the increase in Antarctic ice extent dwarf the decline in Arctic ice extent such that global ice extent is above the long-term average? Mooney has a very interesting way of defining “very stark” vs. “modest.”

(3) Mooney argues melting polar ice on land masses are more consequential than sea ice because melting ice from land masses raises sea level. Mooney, however, supports his argument merely by linking to an article he wrote himself. Mooney’s linked article mentions thinning ice in two individual sections of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but fails to mention the ice is thickening throughout the larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Mooney also fails to mention that global sea level is rising no faster now than it did throughout the twentieth century. If human civilization was able to cope with modestly rising sea levels last century utilizing twentieth century technologies, it is difficult to imagine human civilization having a much harder time coping with the same sea level rise this upcoming century utilizing twenty-first century technologies.

So in sum, it is hard to find anything worrying about the polar ice caps, even when the Washington Post assigns its best spin doctor to raise the alarm.

In an article yesterday for Slate online magazine, columnist Phil Plait attempted to divert attention away from the expanding polar ice by alternately attacking the messenger and presenting false and misleading arguments. Let’s examine them one-by-one.

Responding to my article on global polar ice, “Updated NASA Data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat,” Plait first attempts to misdirect his readers by cherry-picking Northern Hemisphere polar ice rather than global polar ice. Presenting a large graph purporting to show recent Arctic ice trends, Plait writes:

“In the op-ed, he [Taylor] claims that global warming has not caused global sea ice retreat. This is a gross distortion of reality. The truth is that in the arctic we’re seeing record low levels of sea ice year after year, including just this year, when in March the North Pole saw the lowest maximum ice extent on record.”

Well, if we are talking about global warming, it is of course necessary to talk about global polar ice, not cherry-picked regional ice. Modestly declining Northern Hemisphere sea ice is not very indicative of global warming if Southern Hemisphere polar ice is expanding by a greater amount than modestly declining Northern Hemisphere polar ice. And that is indeed what is happening. As I documented in my Forbes.com article, objective data gathered by NASA satellite instruments show global polar ice has averaged above the long-term mean since late 2012.

“It takes a very twisted view of the world to claim global warming isn’t doing anything to polar ice not two months after that record was broken,” writes Plait. “And as we know very, very well, Arctic sea ice is on a long, drastic decline that does not show any signs of recovery at all.”

Actually, it takes a very twisted view of scientific ethics to attempt to fool your readers into believing a lie about global polar ice by presenting a chart that only addresses Northern Hemisphere sea ice.

Plait eventually gets around to addressing the topic of global polar ice, but does so again in a grossly misleading manner.

First, he attempts to rebut my objective, up-to-date polar ice data by linking to a chart that ends in 2009. The fact that a minor, very short-lived decline in polar ice ended in 2012 was a focal point in my Forbes article. Nevertheless, Plait attempts to rebut the post-2012 data showing a complete recovery since 2012 by presenting data from 2009. Not only is such an argument misleading, it is transparently ridiculous.

Second, Plait attempts to rebut the objective data showing above-average polar ice extent by arguing the ice may not be as thick as before. “In fact, land ice in Antarctica is melting away extremely rapidly,” writes Plait. This is quite a novel claim, considering Antarctic temperatures only rarely rise above freezing.

“January is the second warmest month of the year in Antarctica, according to data gathered at the American Amundsen-Scott station from 1957 to 1988,” USA Today reports. “The average high temperature in Antarctica in January is -18 degrees F.” That’s an average high temperature, during the peak of the Antarctic summer, a full 50 degrees F below the freezing mark. The warmest month, December, averages a high temperature of -16 degrees F, or fully 48 degrees F below the freezing mark.

So how can Plait claim the Antarctic ice cap is melting? Well, the only supporting sources he cites are two similarly misleading articles written by himself. In one of the articles, he misrepresents the reasons, pace, and significance of receding ice in a very, very small portion of Antarctica that is primarily affected by local geography, sea water temperatures, and nearby undersea volcanoes. In the other article, he asserts the smaller West Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass while grudgingly admitting the larger East Antarctic ice sheet is gaining mass.

Sure, the very edges of Antarctica occasionally top the freezing mark in the very brief Antarctic summer, but it is difficult to argue warmer temperatures are “rapidly” melting ice and afflicting the edges of Antarctica when this is the very region where polar sea ice sets new records almost every year. In short, temperatures do not get warm enough to melt the Antarctic interior, and polar ice is expanding in the only regions where melting is possible. Plait’s speculation about Antarctic thickness decline, if true, would have more to do with a decline in snowfall than “rapidly” melting ice.

Indeed, Plait inadvertently contradicts his own argument when he adds, “in fact wind-driven snow can be increased by global warming (warmer air can hold more moisture).” In other words, Plait points out warmer temperatures can cause in increase in the Antarctic snow and ice thickness. It therefore follows that cooling temperatures can cause a decline in the Antarctic snow and ice pack because less snow falls when below-freezing temperatures become even colder. Even if Plait’s assertion were correct that the Antarctic ice sheet is slightly less thick, Plait himself points out this would likely be due to a cold-induced decline in snowfall rather than “rapid” melting in places where average summer high temperatures struggle to get within 50 degrees F of the melting point.

Plait’s final attempt to mislead his readers about the expanding polar ice sheets is to link to a statement by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group claiming the expanding post-2012 polar ice will likely end soon. While the Polar Research Group – much of whose public funding is dependent on the continuation of an asserted global warming crisis – is free to make whatever prediction it wishes, the objective fact remains that the short-lived, minor decline (merely 10%) in polar ice extent is over, is now fully recovered, and has been since 2012. Indeed, the Polar Research.

Categories: On the Blog

Yet Another Terrible Idea: States Consider Combining Their Failed ObamaCare Exchanges

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 12:19 PM

ObamaCare is an unmitigated disaster. A total, miserable failure.

Everything President Barack Obama and his Democrats promised it would do?

Obama Promises ObamaCare Won’t Add ‘One Dime To The Deficit

36 Times Obama Said You Could Keep Your Health Care Plan

Obama Montage: If You Like Your Doctor You Can Keep Your Doctor

Obama Promises To Lower Health Insurance Premiums by $2,500 Per Year

Obama: ‘Under My Plan, No Family Making Less Than $250,000 A Year Will See Any Form of Tax Increase.

Not so much.

Ten Broken ObamaCare Promises

CBO: Cost of ObamaCare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years

Health Insurance Cancellation Notices Soar Above ObamaCare Enrollment Rates

O-Care Premiums to Skyrocket

ObamaCare Deductibles Hit Patient Pocketbooks And Hospital Finances

ObamaCare Contains 18 Separate Tax Hikes, Fees, and Penalties, Many of Which Heavily Impact the Middle Class

And the states that set up their own ObamaCare exchanges? More epic disasters.

Oregon Gives Up On State ObamaCare Site, Switches to Federal Exchange

Failure and Corruption in the Massachusetts ObamaCare Exchange

Almost Half of ObamaCare Exchanges Face Financial Struggles in the Future

Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer call centers  and tepid enrollment numbers.

What’s their alleged “solution” to this completely predictable – and predicted – problem?

(O)fficials are considering raising fees on insurers…and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions.

Even more of our money. Completely predictable – and predicted.

What else are these failed states contemplating?

States Quietly Consider ObamaCare Exchange Mergers

Many of the 13 state-run ObamaCare exchanges are worried about how they’ll survive once federal dollars supporting them run dry next year….

“What is happening is states are figuring out the money is running out, said Jim Wadleigh, the director of Connecticut’s exchange….

Umm, the law from its inception sunset the federal coin. To these panicking states one can only say “Duh.”

But a shared marketplace…has become an increasingly attractive option for states desperate to slash costs.

I get it – miserable loves company. But I’m not sure how taking two (or more) individual state failures and combining them – is a solution to anything.

Having the makers of the Chevrolet Corvair, the Edsal and the DeLorean combine forces doesn’t seem to be a winner. Multiple people who can’t swim desperately clutching at one another – just means they’ll all sink together.

It certainly won’t slash costs. Quite the opposite – there will be additional, huge expenses attending these states attempting their misery mergers.

By most accounts, creating a multi-state marketplace would be a logistical nightmare.

It’s unlikely that states could ever merge the full responsibilities of a marketplace, such as regulating plans and managing risk pools.

But even with a simpler model, like a shared call center or website platform, there are big questions about how states could share those costs and duties.

Jennifer Tolbert, a state health expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said “one of the trickiest issues would be determining a governing structure for multi-state exchanges.

I don’t know how that would be resolved, she said.

Again, if none alone can get it together – how will their getting together help? Indeed, it won’t.

These hurdles have been big enough to thwart multiple states from moving forward with their plans. Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia, which commissioned a study on the option in June 2013, have all dropped the idea.

So why on Earth are any states still considering it?

It’s time for Congress to do what Congress before the last election promised it would do.

Anti-ObamaCare Ads Dominate GOP Ad Buys in October

Which worked.

ObamaCare Opposition Drives 2014 Election Results

Congress needs to head off this latest, looming ObamaCare disaster.

And start rolling back all the others.

[Originally published at Red State]


Categories: On the Blog

National Security, The Seattle Oil Rig, And Greenpeace’s Dirty Money

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 12:02 PM

President Obama had it all wrong in his commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He warned that climate change “deniers” endanger our national security – denying “undermines the readiness of our forces,” he said.

In fact, climate change believers are the threat to our national security, such as the recently notorious Seattle mob of Greenpeace “kayaktivists” paddling around Puget Sound trying to stop Polar Pioneer, Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, from making a layover at the Port of Seattle to gear up for Alaskan waters. When thwarted by the Coast Guard’s 500-foot no-approach cordon, the Greenpeace canoe crowd left the harbor and took to the streets, where they blocked suppliers’ access to the rig until city police dispersed them.

These angry picketers are the threat. They undermine America’s share of the Arctic Ocean’s estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves. That fuel will move the military as well as civilians.

How do slogan shouters endanger America’s national security when their targets are civilian oil rigs? Shell’s rigs will draw needed attention to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in an ocean filling with Russia’s growing Arctic supremacy. This month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a Senate appropriations committee hearing the U.S. military Arctic defense policy is falling short.

The United States lacks ships able to operate in or near Arctic ice, with only two medium icebreakers, one nearly a decade past pull date. Russia, by contrast, has 40 big icecap-crunchers, 25 of them nuclear-powered, including one battleship-size beast ominously named 50 Years of Victory (but it takes tourists to the North Pole for 15 day cruises at $30,000 and up). Our entire Alaskan Arctic coast has no U.S. military base, not one. Russian jets make nearly monthly incursions to the Air Defense Identification Zones off the coast of Alaska. Interceptors have to fly to the north coast from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks (500 miles) or all the way from Elemendorf AFB in Anchorage (725 miles).

President Putin strategically laid claim to great swaths of Arctic oil and gas with deployed rigs, has activated the Northern Fleet – two-thirds of the entire Russian Navy – as a strategic military command, and assigned a 6,000-soldier Russian Arctic warfare unit to the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya with next-generation fighter aircraft in addition to advanced S400 Triumf anti-aircraft systems. An Arctic military reconnaissance drone base 420 miles off mainland Alaska is operational.

President Obama seemed to have adopted the Greenpeace strategy of roll over and play dead in February when he stripped Alaska of vast stores of its oil and gas wealth by reducing offshore drilling and declared most of the 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits to oil production. Yet his administration approved a conditional permit for Shell’s Arctic oil exploration.

The United States “may be 40 years behind,” Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski said to Defense Secretary Carter. The U.S. Northern Command has a report due this spring, expected to militarize the existing 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. According to the strategy, as reported by Foreign Policy Journal, “the Navy’s role will primarily be in support of search and rescue, law enforcement, and civil support operations.” Shell’s oil rigs provide peaceful reasons for our warships and planes to patrol the Arctic in counterbalance to Russia. Carter told Murkowski, “The Arctic is going to be a major area of importance to the United States strategically and economically to the future [sic].”

Research by the Chicago-area Heartland Institute found a secret beneath Greenpeace’s anti-oil ruckus: it is funded by oil-drenched millions from investments in ExxonMobil, Chevron, PetroChina, and dozens more, ironically including shares of Royal Dutch Shell, owner of the rig docked in Seattle.

According to Foundation Search, the top Greenpeace donor is the leftist-run David and Lucile Packard Foundation, paying them a total of $2,146,690 since 2000. Managers of the late electronics mogul’s foundation boast 2013 assets of $6.9 billion and have invested working capital in Anadarko Petroleum, Apache Corporation, Arch Coal, Carrizo Oil and Gas, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Devon Energy, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Phillips66, Questar, Tesoro, Valero Energy, and World Fuel Service (a defendant in lawsuits over the 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people), and many others—and paid Greenpeace from the profits.

The second-ranked Greenpeace donor is the left-funding Arcus Foundation, at $1,055,651 since 2007. The foundation of ultra-green billionaire Jon Stryker, Arcus’ 2013 assets totaled $169,472,585, with working capital injected into China Petroleum, ExxonMobil, PetroChina, Royal Dutch Shell, and TransCanada (the “tar” sands pipeline company)—and paid Greenpeace from the profits.

The list of foundations giving Greenpeace oil profits goes on and on, and Greenpeace goes on and on hypocritically taking oil profits to undermine America’s real energy future. This cabal could redeem itself instantly: they could just stop using any fossil fuels right now.

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Leaving the Church of Environmentalism

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 11:45 AM

In March 2009 while the Environmental Protection Agency was rushing to fulfill a presidential campaign pledge to document that carbon dioxide (CO2) and five other greenhouse gases endangered public health and the environment, a longtime employee, Alan Carlin, put out a 93-page report challenging the science being cited and the drift of the agency from its initial role to one captured by fanatical activists and alarmists, treating environmentalism more as a religion than based in science.

At the time Carlin was a 72-year-old analyst and economist who, as The New York Times put it, “had labored in obscurity in a little-known office at the Environmental Protection Agency since the Nixon administration.” His EPA career would span 38 years.

The website for his new book,“Environmentalism Gone Mad” says, “Dr. Alan Carlin is an economist and physical scientist with degrees from Caltech and MIT and publications in both economics and climate/energy, who became actively involved in the Sierra Club in the 1960s as an activist and Chapter Chairman. This led to a career as a manager and senior analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency.”

As he says in the preface “The purpose of this book is to explain why I changed from my lifelong support of the environmental movement to extreme skepticism concern their current primary objective of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide.”

“Although I and the many other climate skeptics are now referred to as ‘deniers’ by the climate alarmists, that does not change the science—and there is no valid scientific basis for the alarmists’ catastrophic climate predictions—or justify their fantastically expensive and useless ‘solution.’”

Carlin went from being a dedicated environmentalist, based on its initial philosophy of conservation, to an observer of the movement that was taken over and distorted to advocate falsehoods about global warming and a transition from fossil-fuels to “clean energy” meaning wind, solar and bio-fuels. As an economist he understood how absurd it was to suggest rejecting fossil-fuels, the key element of modern industry and society.

“The climate alarmists,” says Carlin, “have now been making their apocalyptic predictions for almost thirty years and it is now possible to compare their predictions with actual physical observations.”  Suffice to say all the predictions of a significantly higher temperature—the warming—have been wrong.

In fact, the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle since 1998 and shows no indication of warming

Predictions about the North and South Poles melting, a major rise in ocean levels, increased hurricanes and other climate events have been wrong along with countless other climate-related apocalyptic predictions.

Having observed how the EPA has functioned for more than three decades, Carlin warns that its current “environmental policy has been hijacked by radicals intent on imposing their ideology by government fiat on the rest of us whether we like it or not…If environmental policy is based on government fiat or ‘green’ policy prescriptions the results have been and are very likely to continue to be disastrous.”

At 625 pages, Carlin’s book takes the reader from his early days as a Sierra Club activist and chapter leader to being an EPA outcast, denounced for telling the truth about the false claims of global warming, climate change, and what is now being called extreme weather.

As an economist, Carlin is particularly upset that “the Obama Administration’s climate/energy policy is wasting very large sums on non-solutions to minor or non-problems.”  The book has come along as President Obama has been flogging “climate change” as the greatest threat to the nation and the world.

“It has been long recognized that weather is chaotic,” says Carlin. While we operate within the four seasons, the weather that occurs can only be predicted in the most general terms. Suggesting that humans actually have any effect on the weather is absurd.

That is why the predictions made by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and all the others based on computer models are, by definition, worthless. Computer models cannot predict anything about the vast chaotic global climate system. Even today, meteorologists are mystified by the actions of clouds which can form and disappear in minutes.

It’s useful to keep in mind that climate is measured in centuries, while the weather is reported as what is occurring today and forecast, at best, for no more than a week. Weather records are maintained for purposes of comparison and within the larger context of determining the Earth’s climate cycles. Like those in the past, the present cooling cycle is based on a comparable one of the Sun that is producing lower levels of radiation. You don’t need a Ph.D. in meteorology to understand this.

Carlin does not hesitate to excoriate the blather put forth by the alarmists; particularly their claims that the weather is affected in any significant fashion by human activity and development in particular. “There is simply no evidence thus far that the normal activities of man have or will result in catastrophic outcomes for either man or nature.”

The actions the alarmists call for do nothing to enhance and benefit our lives. They drive up the cost of energy and food. They ignore how dependent modern life is on the use of fossil fuels.

“Despite all the lavish funding by liberal foundations and the federal government on their global warming doctrine-inspired programs, the radical environmental movement has long since gone so far beyond rationality that it is counter-productive in achieving its own ends.”

So long as it remains heavily funded and backed by the federal government, we must, like Carlin, speak out against environmental extremism. We must elect new people to govern in a more realistic, science-based fashion. We must urge our current legislators to rein in the rogue Environmental Protection Agency.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

The EPA Claims Control Over Puddles

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 10:26 AM

Yesterday, the EPA, together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced changes to the existing “navigable waterways” rule, adding a variety of bodies of water to their existing regulatory purview. The rule change, they claim, amounts to a mere 3% increase in the territory they control and can enforce the Clean Water Act over.

But while the amount of land the EPA is claiming territorial rule over is concerning, it’s the type of “navigable waterways” they now believe are under their control. In addition to the lakes, rivers, tributaries and bays that an average American might recognize as a navigable waterway, the EPA seems to be asserting its charge over basically every body of standing water in existence, including drainage ditches, overflow reservoirs, and, yes, those potholes in your street that fill up with water every time it rains just a little.

The Obama administration issued a rule on Wednesday increasing the number of small bodies of water and wetlands that fall under federal protection, a move that has riled some lawmakers, business executives and farmers who say the rule unnecessarily expands federal bureaucracy.

The rule, issued jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is estimated to put about 3% more waterways throughout the U.S. under new federal jurisdiction, which will require more permits for use of those waters and could restrict access altogether, according to the EPA. Agency officials said Wednesday that the rule will protect drinking water supplies for more than 100 million Americans.

The EPA has already noted that the “small bodies of water” include anything that looks, smells or behaves like a wetland, including, but not limited to “prairie potholes.” In clarifying its statements, the EPA hasn’t done much to dispel the notion that they will use the power to radically redefine their own regulatory boundaries, stating that “the rule will seek to protect only waterways that have physical features of flowing water” (according to a fact sheet found by the Wall Street Journal, linked above).” Heaven help the landowner of a trickling sewer drain that runs a bit downhill.

According to the American Energy Alliance, which is monitoring the impact of EPA regulations on America’s energy producers, the rule is a blatant attempt to interfere with private property rights, specifically those of energy producers, who may have ersatz “wetlands” on their properties, or who may create loosely-defined “navigable waterways” by creating drainage ditches or runoff collection reservoirs on their property to handle potential byproducts of the production process. Although these waters would be contained on private property, and don’t necessarily connect with any water that Americans use for drinking or bathing, the EPA wants to allow itself the right to inspect and, likely, punish producers for the “dirty water” – even if it’s just an oversized puddle in a parking lot.

The EPA has tried this before, only to run up against the Supreme Court. As Heartland’s own James Taylor noted in Environment and Climate News, when these EPA first proposed the rules last summer, they did so in open violation of and in challenge to the Supreme Court’s clear directives – that the EPA rules as they were were already an overreach. And now, they’ve expanded even that.

Congress looks to be skeptical about the EPA’s claim that they’re just concerned about our clean water, so there’s opportunity to remain hopeful. In the meantime, keep your puddles clean.

Categories: On the Blog

Rather Than Make a Bad Bill Look More Like a Good Bill – Just Pass the Good Bill

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 9:38 AM

Some in government are yet again using a tiny private sector problem to allegedly justify a massive government private sector invasion. Proposed is a huge government hammer. To obliterate – a gnat.

The gnat in question is the “patent troll” – a term the Theft Coalition loves (and likely coined). Theft Coalition? These are people who steal intellectual property – and are now looking to have government legalize their heists.

Congress Seeks to Quash Patent Trolls

Congress Must Thwart Patent Trolls, Promote Innovation

Google Eyes New Way to Pick Up Your Patents, Combat Trolls

Ahh Google – an absolutely massive member of the Theft Coalition.

Google May Settle Patent-Abuse Charges

European Commission Warns Google on ‘Patent Abuse’

Microsoft Slams Google for ‘Abusing Patents’ Following Legal Win

Top Patterns of Google Theft

  • Admitted Pattern of Promoting Online Piracy
  • Anti-Competitive Pattern of Book Theft
  • Willful Pattern of Promoting YouTube Video Theft
  • Willful Pattern of Android Property Infringement
  • Anti-Competitive Pattern of Stealing Competitors’ Signature Patented-Innovations
  • Extensive Pattern of Content Theft
  • Extensive Pattern of Trademark Theft
  • Pattern of Stealing Contact Lists

And – shocker – a “patent troll” isn’t at all what the Theft Coalition claims it to be.

When You Hear ‘Patent Trolls’ – Think ‘People Protecting Their Private Property’

(W)hat exactly is a “patent troll?” He or she is someone who owns a patent – which is private property. And is trying to protect their private property from unauthorized use by someone who doesn’t want to pay to use it.

Is someone who owns a house and calls the police to roust squatters a “property troll?” Is someone who reports their car stolen an “automobile troll?

The proposed huge government hammer? The woefully misnamed “Innovation Act.” Which eviscerates the ability of patent holders – property owners, many of them Little Guys – to protect themselves from the the Theft Coalition.

Small Inventors Step Up Fight to Block Patent Overhaul Law

Rarely do small inventors and business owners go to such great lengths to lobby Washington lawmakers, but new patent legislation is proving to be so controversial that small innovators across the country are banding together to form a new lobbying voice….

Some small-scale innovators say that the legislation only helps big companies like Google and Apple, and argue that provisions in the bill make it so difficult for innovators to protect their patents that it actually stifles American innovation….

(C)ritics of the legislation warn it goes too far, targeting just a small number of abusers while raising the costs for legitimate patent holders to protect their legal rights under long-established law.

“A small number of abusers” – the gnats in question. Rather than a legislative hammer – how about a gnat-swatter?

(Senate) Patent Act of 2015 Offers Bipartisan Compromise on Reform

The bill attempts compromise on the controversial fee shifting proposal of the House bill (major sticking point) by creating and “objectively unreasonable standard” for such an award as opposed to the loser-pays presumption of the House Bill. This would keep the determination in control of the judiciary, as it should be. Other key issues addressed include enhanced pleading requirements for patent suits, discovery changes, stays of customer suits, and provision to reign in abusive demand letters.

A size-appropriate response to the problem – that is beginning to win the day in D.C.

Goodlatte Circulating Innovation Act Changes

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte is floating potential changes to his sweeping patent reform package, the Innovation Act….

The tweaks appear to bring the Innovation Act closer to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s PATENT Act.

Here’s a thought: Rather than taking even more time to contemplate perhaps making your hammer look more like the gnat-swatter – why not just pass the gnat-swatter?

The government moves at a glacier-esque pace in the least terrible of circumstances. And when government is moving – the private sector is frozen in amber. Awaiting the legislative and regulatory anvils to stop falling before they can again move forward.

The Patent World – including all its innovators – has been frozen. Awaiting resolution of this governmental foray into “fixing” it.

Let’s stop with the huge government hammers – and the attempts to make the hammers look more like gnat-swatters.

Let’s just pass the gnat-swatter – and let the private sector get back to actually improving our lives.

[Originally published at Red State]


Categories: On the Blog

How FCC Hurt Its Title II Anti-Stay Case

Somewhat Reasonable - May 28, 2015, 8:40 AM

The FCC’s latest legal brief opposing a stay of its Open Internet Order, hurt its legal case more than it helped.

The FCC brief unwittingly: exposed a glaring internal inconsistency with the FCC’s Open Internet Order; spotlighted its arbitrary and capricious decision-making; and exposed a big mistake in its legal strategy.

If the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rules on the legal merits of the industry’s petition, it remains very likely they will grant a partial stay of the Title II reclassification part of the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

However, the FCC remains very confident that a majority of the court will overlook the multiple serious legal infirmities in the FCC’s Title II case and deny a stay based on sweeping legal deference to the FCC and political deference to President Obama’s public position for the FCC to reclassify the Internet as Title II telecommunications.

Thus this stay decision, and the ultimate judicial resolution of this case, potentially by the Supreme Court, could prove to be a test of American rule of law.

  • [Note: This analysis provides only the new and latest legal problems with the FCC’s order based on the FCC’s latest brief countering the industry’s petition for a partial stay of the Open Internet Order. For more on the multiple serious legal infirmities of the FCC’s legal case see PrecursorBlog posts:  5-14-155-4-153-16-15, and 3-2-15.]

Ironically, the FCC’s brief claims up front that the “petitioners’ stay motion is not what it seems.”

Given the FCC’s invitation to explore that line of inquiry, let’s consider three big ways the FCC’s own argument “is not what it seems.”

1.  The FCC brief exposes a glaring internal inconsistency with the FCC’s Order.

On pages 11-12 of the brief, the FCC says it forbore from “the large majority of Title II’s provisions…” and “this established “a light-touch regulatory framework,” thereby “minimizing the burdens on broadband providers while still adequately protecting the public…”

Thus the FCC admits in its brief, and in its Order, that the FCC Order does impose “burdens” on broadband providers, and it also admitted it chose to keep some of the “burdens,” like sections 201 and 202, to protect the public.

The simplest of cursory review of Title II by the court will show that the FCC retained the provisions with the most burdens, i.e. sections 201 and 202 powers, upon which the remainder of Title II rests.

Now on pages 2 and 24 of the FCC’s brief, the FCC summarily dismisses any legal harm (burden) on broadband providers in summarily asserting: “each alleged harm is speculative or insubstantial.”

How can the FCC’s sweeping denial of any harm in their brief square with the FCC’s detailed discussion in their Order of the need for the FCC to be “minimizing the burdens on broadband providers while still adequately protecting the public?”

Simply, why did the FCC need to forbear from Title II at all, if even the most burdensome Title II provisions, from which the FCC chose to not forbear, implicitly represent at best “speculative or insubstantial” harms to broadband providers?

The FCC can’t have it both ways.

Either Title II has actual harms/burdens on broadband providers as it made clear in the Order: “minimizing the burdens on broadband providers,” or it has no harms to broadband providers as it said it its stay brief: “each alleged harm is speculative and insubstantial.”

2.  The FCC brief spotlights the FCC’s arbitrary and capricious decision making.

Just like the FCC arbitrarily and capriciously denies any harm from Title II at all, the FCC brief also arbitrarily and capriciously dismisses the existence of any reliance interests for broadband providers, suppliers, or investors by summarily dismissing them as “alleged reliance interests.” [page 18]

Let the magnitude of the FCC’s caprice here set in: “alleged reliance interests.

The FCC brief denies that broadband providers, other Internet businesses, and private investors — who have invested upwards of a trillion dollars over the last decade relying on the law, Supreme Court precedent and multiple FCC precedents classifying all broadband infrastructures: cable, DSL, wireless and power-lines, as Title I services, not Title II utility rate regulated services — have no reliance interests requiring “substantial justification” to overcome.

Just like the FCC summarily dismissed that the un-forborne parts of Title II — like sections 201 and 202 that subject common carriers to sweeping rate regulation obligations — pose no “burdens” on broadband providers, the FCC is summarily asserting that imposing sections 201 and 202 implicates no reliance interests.

It is the quintessence of arbitrary and capricious behavior, when the FCC essentially can’t/won’t acknowledge before the court that the interests which maximally relied upon FCC’s settled precedent have no reliance interests at all, let alone reliance interests warranting “substantial justification” to overturn.

To paraphrase a famous line in an old infamous movie, the FCC is effectively saying to broadband providers: “You screwed up; you trusted us.”

3.  The FCC brief exposed a big mistake in its legal strategy.

Apparently the FCC remains confounded that broadband providers have only challenged the FCC’s Title II reclassification (and the conduct standard) and have not challenged the FCC’s section 706 authority or the FCC’s bright-line net neutrality rules banning blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

It’s pretty obvious from reading the FCC Open Internet Order that it never occurred to the FCC that a legal challenge would concede section 706 and the bright line net neutrality rules, and then isolate Title II for legal challenge.

That’s because the clear backbone of the FCC’s integrated legal defense in the Order and in its stay brief is the Verizon v. FCC decision. Tellingly, the FCC brief cites Verizon v. FCC as much as it cites the Supreme Court’s Brand X decision.

Obviously the FCC likes the Verizon Court’s affirmation of the FCC’s section 706 authority and many of the FCC’s market findings/assumptions in its 2010 Open Internet Order that the court otherwise overturned.

The FCC’s apparent failure to anticipate a Title II-only challenge now has the FCC having to de facto assume and imply to the court that its section 706 and Title II authorities are somehow inseverable, when they are completely separate legally.

This big awkward FCC mistake in legal strategy has resulted in an FCC defense that may be inappropriately, too-heavily-reliant on Verizon v. FCC, which is a much more of section 706 relevant precedent that a straight Title II classification relevant precedent, like the Supreme Court’s Brand X decision which was solely focused on FCC classification.

Importantly, both the FCC and industry did not brief the Verizon v. FCC court about the legality of reclassifying broadband as a Title II service, after the FCC repeatedly found the facts and law warranted an information services classification. That’s because the FCC asserted 706 authority, and did not assert Title II common carrier authority to promulgate its 2010 net neutrality rules.

Simply, to this court, reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, after a decade of being legally classified as an information service, is a new legal question that Verizon v. FCC did not rule on.

This is a big problem for the FCC’s case for a variety of strong reasons.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act made Title I information services and Title II common carrier telecommunications services mutually exclusive legal classifications.

Not only are Section 706 & and Title II part of different legal titles, they are from different laws; the 1996 Telecommunications Act versus the 1934 Communications Act.

They are even opposite legal models in that section 706 is situational, conditional, targeted and reactive while Title II is ex ante and comprehensive.

Ironically, the main similarity of section 706 and Title II is that the FCC has now asserted unlimited authority to regulate the Internet under both Section 706 and Title II.

The FCC’s big legal mistake here is that the FCC effectively argues Verizon v. FCC is a major Title II, classification-relevant precedent, when it is a really a very different section 706, net neutrality precedent.

In sum, for the FCC to ultimately prevail on reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service the D.C. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court ultimately must confer near carte blanche deference on the FCC.

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

Why Coral Reefs and Shellfish Will Not Die From ‘Ocean Acidification’

Somewhat Reasonable - May 27, 2015, 4:09 PM

The hypothesis that “ocean acidification” will kill corals and shellfish due to higher levels of carbon dioxide dissolved in the sea is often used to stoke fear in the hearts of nature lovers. Here’s why I don’t believe there is a shred of evidence to support these claims.

When the slight global warming that occurred between 1970 and 2000 came to a virtual standstill, the doomsayers adopted ­“climate change”, which apparently means all extreme weather events are caused by human emissions of CO2.

Cold, hot, wet, dry, wind, snow and large hailstones are attributed to humanity’s profligate use of fossil fuels. But the pause in global warming kept on and became embarrassing around 2005.

Something dire was needed to prop up the climate disruption narrative. “Ocean acidification” was invented to provide yet another apocalyptic scenario, only this one required no warming or severe weather, just more CO2 in the atmosphere.

The story goes that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere the oceans will absorb more of it and this will cause them to become acidic — well, not exactly, but at least to become less basic. This in turn is predicted to dissolve the coral reefs and kill the oysters, clams, mussels and algae that have calcareous shells. It was named “global warming’s evil twin”.

Seawater in the open ocean is typically at a pH of 8.0-8.5 on a scale of 0-14, where 0 is the most acidic, 14 is most basic and 7 is neutral. Ocean acidification from increased CO2 is predicted to make the ocean less basic, perhaps to pH 7.5 under so-called worst-case projections.

How do I know that increased CO2 will not kill the coral reefs and shellfish? Let me count the ways.

First, contrary to popular ­belief, at 400 parts per million (0.04 per cent), CO2 is lower now in the atmosphere than it has been during most of the 550 million years since modern life forms emerged during the Cambrian period. CO2 was about 10 times higher then than it is today.

Corals and shellfish evolved early and have obviously managed to survive through eras of much higher CO2 than present levels. This alone should negate the “predictions” of species extinction from CO2 levels nowhere near the historical maximum.

Second, due to its high concentration of basic elements such as calcium and magnesium, sea­water has a powerful buffering capacity to prevent large swings in pH due to the addition of CO2.This self-correcting capacity of seawater will ensure the pH will remain well within levels conducive to calcification, the process whereby shells and coral structures are formed. Marine shells are largely made of calcium carbonate, the carbon of which is derived from the CO2 dissolved in the seawater.

Third, and most interesting, there are freshwater species of clams and mussels that manage to produce calcareous shells at pH 4-5, well into the acidic range. They are able to do this because a mucous layer on their shell allows them to control the pH near the surface and to make calcification possible beneath the mucous layer.

The “ocean acidification” story depends only on a chemical hypothesis whereas biological factors can overcome this and create conditions that allow calcification to continue. This is corroborated by the historical record of millions of years of success in much higher CO2 environments.

Fourth, ocean acidification proponents invariably argue that increased CO2 will also cause the oceans to warm due to a warming climate. Yet they conveniently ignore the fact that when water warms the gases dissolved in it tend to “outgas”.

It’s the same phenomenon that happens in a glass of cold water taken from the fridge and placed on a counter at room temperature. The bubbles that form on the inside of the glass as it warms are the gases that were dissolved in the colder water. So in theory a warmer sea will have less CO2 dissolved in it than a cooler one.

This is one of the Achilles Heels of the ocean acidification hypothesis and the “CO2 controls temperature” hypothesis in general. Many who believe CO2 is the “control knob” of climate point to the 420,000-year record of climate from the Vostok ice cores taken in Antarctica. They show a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature, but it is clear that changes in CO2 tend to follow changes in temperature rather than preceding them. This makes sense as the four major periods of glaciation, interrupted briefly by interglacial periods like the one we enjoy today, are highly correlated with the 1,000,000-year Milankovitch Cycles that are linked to cycles in the Earth’s orbit, tilt, and other variables. It is much more likely that these variations would cause changes in temperature than changes in CO2 levels. This makes a strong case that the changes in temperature are the cause of the changes in CO2 due to outgassing when it is warmer and absorption when it is cooler.

Finally, it is a fact that people who have saltwater aquariums sometimes add CO2 to the water in order to increase coral growth and to increase plant growth. The truth is CO2 is the most important food for all life on Earth, including marine life. It is the main food for photosynthetic plankton (algae), which in turn is the food for the entire food chain in the sea.

For some reason, the proponents of catastrophic global warming ignore this fact. They talk of “carbon pollution” as if CO2 is a poison. If there were no CO2 in the global atmosphere there would be no life on this planet. Surely, that should be enough to permit questioning the certainty of those who demonize this essential molecule.

Many climate activists are telling us ocean acidification is already decimating coral reefs and shellfish. Have they read the story of remote Scott Reef off Western Australia? The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies reports that in a brief 15 years this huge reef recovered completely from massive bleaching in 1998. Reefs go through cycles of death and recovery like all ecosystems.

We are told CO2 is too high and we will suffer for it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life it is.

Categories: On the Blog

Schweikart Reviews Overdue Account of America’s True History

Somewhat Reasonable - May 27, 2015, 3:29 PM

The final Heartland Author Series event before The Heartland Institute moves its headquarters from One South Wacker Drive, #2740, to its new facility in Arlington Heights was held on Thursday, May 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Featured was Larry Schweikart, who along with co-author Michael Allen, wrote the newly released 10th anniversary edition of “A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement.”

It is irrefutable that during past three decades, many history professors have allowed their biases to distort the way America’s past is taught. These intellectuals have searched for instances of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our history while downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots and the achievements of dead white men.

As a result, more emphasis is placed on Harriet Tubman than on George Washington; more about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II than about D-Day or Iwo Jima; more on the dangers we faced from Joseph McCarthy than those we faced from Josef Stalin.  

A Patriot’s History of the United States corrects doctrinaire biases. Instead, America’s discovery, founding, and development are reexamined with an appreciation for the elements of public virtue, personal liberty, and private property that make this nation uniquely successful.  Offering a long-overdue acknowledgment of America’s true and proud history, Schweikart and Allen tell their story from the time of Columbus’s voyage to Obamacare. The authors don’t ignore America’s mistakes through the years, but they put them back in their proper perspective while celebrating the strengths of the men and women who cleared the wilderness, abolished slavery, and rid the world of fascism and communism. 

Introduction of Larry Schweikart

Joe Morris, as a long-time friend and supporter of The Heartland Institute, and in his assigned role to introduce speaker Larry Schweikart, pointed out what he called “Exhibit A” for homeschooling. Morris acknowledged four home-schooled young ladies in attendance at the Heartland event who were eager to hear and meet their history teacher in person, having used “A Patriot’s History of the United States” as their high school history textbook. The girls are being schooled under Classical Conversation.com, a Christian home-school K-12 program.  60,000 children are enrolled in this program.

In praising Larry Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton, for his ability to connect with the American people, Morris suggested four other current authors who can be trusted and who are likewise accessible to the American people:  Doris Kearns GodwinMichael BeschlossDavid McCullough, and Paul Johnson.

Describing Larry Schweikart as one who earned his stripes in the academic world, Joe Morris spoke of Schweikart as being knowledgeable about trends in history and how history is made.  As a drummer in a REAL rock band before his love of history drew Schweikart back to the world of academia, Morris explained  how Schweikart understood the connection between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the love of rock music by anti-Communist young people behind the Iron Curtain.  Despite living under a highly regulated government system, young people could perform rock music in a group situation without permission from government to experience freedom and innovation in what was a highly regimented society.  Young people could pretend they were Americans!  It took President Ronald Reagan to grasp something special between rock music and freedom.

Since 2009 Schweikart has been a film producer.  His documentary, “Rockin’ the Wall,” about rock music’s part in bringing down the Iron Curtain, has appeared on PBS.  See here a short clip of the documentary.  Schweikart’s current project, “Other Walls 2 Fall,” featuring Yanni, Clint Black, Busta Rhymes, and a heavy metal band from inside Tehran, is nearly finished.  Also noteworthy is that Schweikart is presently writing a biography of Ronald Reagan.

Schweikart elaborates about the how, when and why of his book

Larry Schweikart had an interesting and unusual tale to tell of how “A Patriot’s History” evolved out of an earlier published book dealing with the history of American business, “The Entrepreneurial Adventure.”  Wishing to write an inclusive textbook that dealt accurately and fairly with the history of this nation, a substantial revision was called for.  A history book that irked Schweikart was “A People’s History of the United States” by revisionist historian Howard Zinn.  Zinn’s biased history, published in 1980, is still selling thousands of copies a year. Many of those copies are assigned readings for courses in colleges and high schools taught by leftist disciples of their radical mentor.

Essential to the planned revision was the inclusion of free market ideas.  In due time a 1,700 page manuscript was presented to several publishers under the title, “Cup of Hope”, but only Penguin was interested. But first off the title had to go.  Also frowned upon was the number of pages. 1,100 pages were initially chopped, but the manuscript was still considered too long.  A further chopping of pages was mandated, which eliminated all maps, enabled the book to reach the magic number of 948 pages and made a $25.00 selling price possible.

A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and co-authored by  Michael Allen, was first published as a Sentinel Book by Penguin in 2004.  As Schweikart tells it, although the book was modestly successful — “The Wall Street Journal” had a positive review and Rush Limbaugh likewise praised it — everything changed six years later. In 2010 Schweikart made a guest appearance on Glenn Beck’s program on Fox News, which back in 2010 reached a viewing audience of 3.5 million.  After Schweikart’s appearance he received an apology call from Beck, with Beck confessing that he had not read Schweikart’s book before the interview.  Upon reading Schweikart’s book over the weekend that followed, Beck found it to be most enjoyable.  What a surprise Schweikart had when tuning in to Beck’s next show!  Glenn Beck was discussing “A Patriot’s History” at length, brandishing the book in front of the camera complete with highlights and sticky notes, and asking that his viewers read it “like George Foreman selling a grill on an infomercial.”

“A Patriot’s History” suddenly skyrocketed up the bestseller lists. Schweikart recalled how his publisher would call him and say things like “We’re going to be on the New York Times bestseller list!” or “We’re going to be in the top 10 on the New York Times bestseller list!”  Responding in a nonchalant way Schweikart would reply, “Oh, that’s nice.”

Finally Schweikart received a call that the book had reached #1 on the “New York Times” bestseller list.  Schweikart, although amused by the popping corks he heard in the background, responded as he always did to his publisher’s call, without marked enthusiasm for the achievement.  Incredulous at Schweikart’s response his  publisher replied, “Don’t you understand what this means?  It’s going to be in Walmart!” The latter was great news for Schweikart, for he had finally succeeded in writing a history book that would be read by average Americans, rather than by academics or elites.

The new 10th Anniversary Edition of “A Patriot’s History” published November 25, 2014, goes through 2013 and President Obama’s first term.  Included is a thorough examination of the George W. Bush presidency.  Obama did not receive good marks.  As remarked Larry Schweikart, “Jimmy Carter finally has somebody worse than himself and Millard Fillmore.”

Although “A Patriot’s History” is considered a trade book rather than a text book, the book is being used at 30 different universities and colleges, among them Rice and TCU.  It is the required textbook at the University of Mississippi.

Schweikart offers reasons for America’s greatness

In closing Schweikart offered his take as to why this nation has been successful:

1.  It has a Christian, mostly Protestant Foundation.

2.  There is the presence of English Common Law, which was brought by settlers from England to the colonies. In colonial day benign neglect told governors what to do.  Common law will not allow Obama to become a tyrant.  It was because of Common Law that Congress was unable to pass the Senate’s immigration bill.  The American people overrode Congress.

3. A free market system exists.

4. Written documents and deeds are issued for property.

Spotlighting The Heartland Institute

Jim Lakely, Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute, presented these announcement:

  • Known for the environment, The Heartland Institute received immense media coverage from its trip to Rome to challenge a proposed Vatican encyclical by Pope Francis about the threat of man-made global warming.  Heartland’s message:  that the UN is not the only word on the environment.  Heartland proudly wears its reputation as a climate skeptic as a badge of honor.  See here an account of Heartland trip to Rome.
  •  The 10th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 11 – 12.  “Fresh Start” is the Conference theme.  Check this site for information.
  • Freedom will soon have a new home in Arlington Heights.  The Heartland Institute is moving at the end of May after 31 years of renting office space in downtown Chicago

Among the many distinguished guests attending Heartland’s May 21 book event was Tony Mockus  and his wife Mary Lou.  Tony is a friend of Heartland and a distinguished actor known for The Untouchables (1987), Backdraft (1991) and Caddyshack II (1988).


[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog
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