Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Comments on the State of the 2008 Union Address

One year ago, CARE’s Blog was launched when we asked various energy experts for comments on the 2007 State of the Union Address. We’d planned to use the comments received as an article for CARE’s Newsletter—and we did. But they also seemed to perfectly fit the vision we had for the Blog, so it was started ahead of schedule. Since then it regularly has visitors from an average of 12 different countries each month.

In celebration of this anniversary, we again asked our Energy Counsel for their comments. Below you will find their responses:

“It was a little disappointing to hear the President pander to alarmists on the subject of carbon dioxide. Despite the huge effort those people have made to present anthropogenic global warming as ‘settled science,’ the inconvenient truth remains that the scientific foundations of the hypothesis are very shaky indeed. There are serious grounds for doubt that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are a problem. On the other hand, there is no doubt at all that efforts to reduce those emissions will be very expensive, and will divert our limited resources from other things which are much more important—such as education & health care.

It was also disappointing to hear the President once more making offhand remarks about reducing US dependence on oil. This is not a simple subject. It would have been better to say nothing than to make statements which could be misconstrued.

In the long run, there is no doubt that the US (and the world) will have to adjust to declining supplies of oil as we approach the finite limits of resources. However, in the next few decades, the world needs oil exporting countries to invest very large amounts of capital into oil field developments to ensure that oil supplies do not decline precipitously. European nations have foolishly been sending a very dangerous message to oil exporters by claiming that they intend to reduce their carbon output dramatically or even totally. Why should an oil exporting country invest $Billions to produce oil that customers say they won't use? It would be very easy to end up with a premature major shortfall in oil supplies, decades before the required infrastructure has been built to make modern society possible in a post-oil world.

It would have been better for the President to have criticized the Europeans for their dangerous shortsightedness, and instead to have reminded us that we all live in an inter-connected world. The oil exporters are as ‘addicted’ to the food & manufactured goods they import from us as we are to the oil we import from them.”

Gavin Longmuir

“I don't think I have missed a state of the union address in 25 years. I am a political junkie. Even when I lived in foreign countries I tried to tune in by TV or radio. I even bought cable in a country just so I could see it. But I did not see the one this week. This president has become the lamest of the lame ducks. Could he possibly say anything of consequence?”

Michael Econmides

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pollution Tariffs

Here we are at the end of this informative and entertaining four-part series. If you are just dropping in today, we encourage you to go back and read the first three parts. You’ll find, the author Jim Amrhein has quite a wry sense of humor in which we wraps the key issues—making them an interesting read.

We wish to draw your attention to two specific points the author makes in this installment. First, the element of from where disastrous spills come, and second, the length of time it takes to get a new energy source up and running. If you disagree--or agree--with his view point, we encourage you to voice your opinion here.

To trim the length of this posting, we cut all of the author’s comments regarding the e-mails he has received in response to this series. (Remember, the original postings occured over a period of several weeks.) If you have been enjoying these postings, we suggest you go to the original site of the source and read the full version of this posting (there you will also finds the charts and maps referred to in these postings). Better yet, subscribe to the free newsletter: Whiskey and Gunpowder, so you do not miss out on any future wit and wisdom.

With his e-mails in mind, we wish to share one such comment with you before you read on. “Thanks also to the gas/coal energy industry executive who wrote to me from China to report on the horrific environmental conditions there — and to give first-hand validation of my assertion that China’s energy costs are so cheap in large part because of lax enviro-regulation…”

Now to the conclusion!"

Carbo-geddon, the Conclusion
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men, you just can’t reach…”
— Strother Martin, as “The Captain,” in Cool Hand Luke, 1967

The entire premise of this series is the supposition that the current trend of global warming IS caused by smokestacks and tailpipes — but that America is still doing the wrong thing by planet Earth with its carbon policies. Yet every time I write one of these pieces, I’m astounded by the percentage of mail I get from people wanting to contest man-caused global warming theory (as though I need to be persuaded that it’s bunk). I feel like I’m in Cool Hand Luke. I’m simply failing to communicate that what’s true doesn’t matter — only what people can be made to believe.

And the tragic, ironic bottom line is that in this day and age, any assertion about global warming can ONLY gain an audience if it’s compatible with the flawed assumptions that govern the dialogue. I realized a long time ago that trying to educate or challenge the global warming hysterics with things like facts and logic was a futile errand. The issue has simply become too symbiotic to America’s media-fueled collective guilt at being the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world…

However, I do want to point out one grand hypocrisy inherent to the America-bashers on the global warming battlefront: Critics of U.S. fossil-fuel policies claim that they’re taking a more balanced global view by calling for reduced American consumption. They say that we’re egocentric and arrogant for using as much oil as we do. However, these ignorant gadflies are JUST as arrogant and egocentric themselves for trumpeting that America alone has the power to eliminate (or even to reduce) global warming by curbing its consumption. It’s nothing but typical top-down American empire-think to believe that other nations’ contributions to atmospheric CO2 are insignificant compared to ours, that they’ll follow our lead — or that somehow, magically, they won’t scoop up and burn every barrel of oil we don’t.

As I’ve spent the last month attempting to prove, this is flatly contrary to the facts. In the very nearly zero-sum world oil supply scenario, the cleanest atmosphere results when the more environmentally conscious nations burn the MOST oil, not the LEAST. I don’t understand why I have to reiterate this simple point…

Oh, and one more note to the few critics who wrote in about the first three parts of this series: If you honestly think that a barrel of oil or pound of coal consumed in one part of the world results in the same release of GHG as in another, you really must have your head examined.

Do you actually think that power plants, refineries, cars, trucks, etc. in places like China, Korea, the Russian Federation, the Middle East and Africa are designed, built and held to the same stringent (and ever-tightening) emissions specs that they are in places that are closer to the environmentally responsible end of the spectrum — like Japan, the U.S., Germany, and France? If this were true, nations’ greenhouse gas output would precisely mirror their fossil fuel consumption in barrels-of-oil equivalent. Yet as anyone who can read a cartogram or data from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change will attest, this is not even remotely the case.

But enough volleys back at my critics. After all, some men (and women) you just can’t reach. Right now, I want to examine some of the things I think are driving U.S. energy policy…

Global Warming, Inc.
As populist and conspiratorial as this may seem, I really do believe that America’s petroleum policy has been shaped in large part by the avarice and selfishness of a few. Lately, this assertion is made flesh in the form of the world’s greatest global warming profiteer: Al Gore, Inc.

Despite his reception of the Nobel Peace Prize and incessant fawning praise from the mainstream media, the fact remains that before adopting climate change as his cause celebre`, Al Gore was nothing more than your run-of-the-mill American career politician whose run was over. And with only a degree in Government to fall back on after the 2000 election, he desperately needed a new gig…

This isn’t to say that Gore hasn’t been consistently at the vanguard of the climate-change issue since it first came on the scene, or rather, since he first forced it there. Indeed, this may be the only constant thread of rhetoric, and perhaps belief (you’ll see what I mean in a minute), in his political life. Gore held Congressional hearings on CO2 and climate change in the late 1970s and again in the ‘80s, wrote numerous articles and editorials on the subject, published 1992’s Earth in the Balance — and of course, starred in 2006’s hugely successful “documentary” on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, for which he also wrote a companion book in that same year.

However, I maintain that it’s easy to “believe” in something that’s profitable — either in terms of political image or in monetary terms. For me, the proof is in whether someone walks like he talks. You decide if The Reverend of Gaia (Gore actually attended divinity school in the early ‘70s) is “living the word” or just profiting from it:

* According to BusinessWeek and other sources, Al Gore’s 20-room, 8-bath Nashville mansion drained more electricity from the grid per month than 20 average American households combined in 2006 — the same year his book and “documentary” called on Americans to conserve electricity. This represents an increase in consumption of 13.5% over the previous year.
* Not ashamed enough at merely over-consuming electricity, habitants of Gore’s home and guesthouse sucked an average of nearly $1,100 a month worth of natural gas in 2006.
* Instead of walking to save greenhouse gases, Gore and his entourage drove five cars the roughly 500 yards from his hotel to the screening of An Inconvenient Truth at the Cannes Film Festival.

Aside from this kind of hypocrisy, Gore has leveraged his pet cause to morph himself from a public servant who, according to Newsweek, barely made the millionaire list on paper in 2000 into a “green” consulting juggernaut now worth an estimated $100 million or more. Consider also:

* Gore claims to offset his mammoth personal carbon footprint by buying carbon credits from a company, Generation Investment Management (an institutional asset management firm specializing in opportunities positioned to cash in on global-warming-driven policy changes), of which Gore himself is the Chairman and Founding Partner. To say he stands to gain financially, as this firm’s global clean-energy investments pay off, would be an obscene understatement. He’s not buying pollution absolution, he’s simply funneling that money into investments that are poised to ripen on the strength of his own hot air.
* Last November, Gore was named as a new partner in a famously successful venture-capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers, symbolically leading their “Greentech” division — a strategic alliance with Gore’s firm, Generation Investment Management. Though Gore has stated that his entire upfront salary will go to the non-profit Alliance for Climate Protection (which he Chairs, coincidentally), he stands to rake in tens, maybe hundreds of millions down the road as KPCB claims its 30% profit stake as “green” start-up firms that Gore helps them cherry-pick for funding go public or are sold.

If you look at all this from a certain point of view (an objective one), what we’ve basically got here is a politician with a flair for opportunism shrewdly pre-positioning himself to profit from climate change hysteria that he may or may not believe in — then collaborating with Hollywood big-shots in making a high-profile movie that, along with a willing media, pumps such hysteria to a fever pitch. Obscene profit, accolades, Nobel prizes and freedom-robbing legislation ensues…

What I want to know is when politician-made movies ceased to be called propaganda.

I must say that from a purely Machiavellian standpoint (damage to America’s economy and freedom notwithstanding), Gore’s flim-flam is really a marvel of vision, ambition, and execution. What a different nation this might be today had he exhibited some of these qualities while in office on behalf of America’s best interests.

Doom with a View
Another thing that has a huge affect on American petro-policy is the regulation of domestic oil drilling. And interestingly enough, I detect the fingerprints of a selfish, greedy few driving this policy — instead of the energy needs and environmental concerns of a nation…

First, some background. Currently, only about 15% of the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf — roughly, the seabed from around 3-9 miles from shore out to 200 or more — is open for underwater oil drilling, a practice which is far less likely to result in disastrous spills than the importation of oil by tanker. From what I could gather (it proved remarkably hard to find easy-to-interpret data on this), somewhere north of 80% of the world’s worst petro-disasters in terms of volume of oil released into the environment have been from tanker spills. Conversely, 97% of oil spills and accidental discharges from offshore rigs do not exceed one barrel, industry sources claim…

But I digress. I was starting to wonder aloud why such a small percentage of America’s coastlines are dotted with offshore oil rigs — until I looked at the locations of offshore drilling rigs in OCS waters of the U.S. Again, I didn’t have time to make an intensive study of this (it could be book-length if I had, I’m sure), but I’m pretty confident in postulating that there’s a strong correlation between the location of offshore drilling rigs and costal real estate values, or the comparative wealth and influence of states.

Perhaps the starkest example of this is Florida. Home of some of the wealthiest coastal zones in the U.S. (seven of the top 11 places with the country’s highest per-capita income are in the Sunshine State), Florida has been under a strict moratorium on offshore drilling since 1983 — despite no doubt being home to huge reserves of eastern Gulf oil…

Yet the coastal waters of neighboring (and comparatively poorer) Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are dotted with thousands of rigs, without which the U.S would be far more dependent on foreign oil.

Now, what do you suppose the reason is for why there are no oil rigs off Florida? Do you think it’s because there’s no oil there? Or could it be because a comparatively few rich people who live in Florida and can afford to buy gas and heating oil at whatever the price have decided that they don’t want their pristine horizons spoiled by a few speck-sized rigs?

It’s the same way in California — there are some offshore rigs there, but you won’t see them along the Monterey coast…

Currently, only a handful of U.S. states allow drilling in the waters adjacent their shores. And it’s my perception that the greatest concentrations of rigs seem to roughly cluster off coastlines where there are relatively few marquis beaches, and where relatively few rich people live.

I could go on and on about this stuff, but the simple point I’m making is this: Whether it’s increasing offshore drilling, judiciously tapping into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or partnering up with Mexico or Canada (a lot of their future oil sands yields are destined by agreement for China), the United States has far more oil in its backyard than we’re extracting.

And these sources are one component of the energy policy I think we should be living by…

The End of Carbo-geddon
Here’s the real bottom line with this whole four-part series…

As a nation, we need to decide what we want: Cheap stuff or a cleaner atmosphere. We cannot have both.

If we really want to buy into unproven global warming theory and commit ourselves to what we think will be the betterment of planet Earth, we must reduce the demand for (or availability of) oil by nations that pollute with impunity. The only way to do this, barring warfare, is to compete with them — both on the world oil stage and in the manufacturing arena.

As it stands right now, curbing American importation and consumption of oil is a BAD thing for the global environment, all other things remaining equal. Every barrel of oil we leave on the market is a barrel of oil that hyper-polluting China will scoop up at any price (they have little oil of their own to extract) — and they both need it and can afford it, since we’re buying all of our stuff from them.

I believe that in the short term, America should ramp up its importation of oil and pour our national might into once again becoming a worldwide leader in manufacturing and production. This limits China’s access to oil (since we’d be buying comparatively more of it), their ability to buy that oil (since we’d be buying less of the stuff they make with it), and their need for it (since their manufacturing sector would lag without booming U.S. demand). Upsides are a stimulated American economy and comparatively less global GHG. The downsides are that we’d become even more dependant on foreign oil in the short term — and we’d have to pay higher prices for domestically made things…

I also believe that America should simultaneously, aggressively begin drilling and extracting what oil we have. It will be years, maybe decades, before such an effort could reach full swing. However, when it happens, we’ll be in far better shape in terms of our ability to sustain ourselves without foreign oil once we reclaim the former production glory that made us great (this will take years, too).

Finally — and as a lover of free market capitalism, it pains me to say this — I believe that we must find a way to generate some solidarity and resolve among the American people to buy only those products made in environmentally responsible nations, foremost among them the U.S.

Ideally, this should come from our leaders. Our politicians, were they truly ecologically conscientious (instead of hustling us for their own fortunes), would expose and propose solutions to the “dirty little secret” that America’s appetite for cheap, foreign-made goods may be speeding the warming of planet Earth — and that it’s our duty to our fellow man to produce and choose more goods made domestically and/or in an environmentally responsible way. Even if they cost more.

However, hoping for objectivity and a greater-good mentality from politicians who, by and large, are motivated by their own enrichment and bound (somewhat) by the selfish wants of their individual districts is perhaps even more futile than hoping for some reason and sanity in the global warming debate. Therefore, I don’t think it would be out of line to slap the hard-goods made in major polluter nations with a hefty tariff. It’s not like there’s no precedent: We’ve enacted economic sanctions before over human rights violations — and what’s rampant greenhouse gas pollution, if not a violation of our basic human right to a clean, cool Earth…

The real question is: Do hyper-consumptive, stretched-thin, credit-addicted Americans have the fortitude to pay more for their principles — even if they’ve been falsely sold on them by the greedy and corrupt?

Jim Amrhein

Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Key to a Cleaner Earth in the Future

Thanks for coming back. Hopefully you have been enjoying reading these installments as much has we have in bringing them to you. Here is the third segment, though titled part II. As you read this, think about California and their desire to have a carbon neutral position. They need electricity, but they want to be “green” so they encourage the building of power plants on nearby states who can export electricity to California. The same amount of carbon goes into the air, but California can claim they do not produce…

Just a thought.

Another item we encourage you to note, is the impact environmental regulations have on the cost of products made in America. Jim Amrhein does not dwell on this, but rather he mentions it in passing. No, we do not advocate having no regulations and becoming a polluter like the developing nations mentioned. We just hope you’ll realize that these regulations do have a financial cost to the consumers’ bottom line. Think of this as you vote for candidates you promise tighter restrictions.

Now, enjoy this next installment of Carbo-geddon.

Carbo-geddon, Part II
We head into 2008 with what’s looking to be a shaky year economically for the U.S., oil futures hit the dreaded $100-per-barrel mark, like just about everyone had been predicting. I’m far from a genius for having seen that one coming…

I seem to be one for knowing why, however.

Now, perhaps it’s because I’m a simpleminded half-rube without intensive education in economics that I can see the reason so clearly — I’m simply not close enough to the trees for them to obscure my view of the forest, so to speak. The Associated Press and other sources claim that violence in major oil-producing Nigeria is what drove crude over the C-note mark. That’s not what did it, though…

While it may be true in the most literal sense that this recent upheaval in Africa resulted in the particular spike in oil prices that crested the legendary $100-per-barrel mark, the actual reason crude’s spiraling upward is because America is sucking down a big batch of killer green Kool-Aid — instead of the oil we should be guzzling for the betterment of planet Earth.

Yep, you read that right: For the betterment of the Earth.

Crude Economics 101
This essay was intended as a conclusion to my Carbo-geddon series, but the historic $100-a-barrel mark for crude has given me an opportunity to shoehorn in another essay which underscores the main cause of not only skyrocketing oil and gas prices, but also levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG). Knowing this is important to understanding my rationale for what should be America’s energy policy (I’ll spell that out in my final installment).

Now again, and for the record, I’m not saying that I believe — or that the bulk of evidence supports — that man-caused CO2 and other gases are responsible for the modern trend of global warming (which does indeed exist). I’m merely using that supposition as a framework for my arguments, since it’s as obvious as a case of Tourette’s Syndrome that just about everyone else in the country is sold on the theory of man-caused global warming.

This has caused some confusion among readers — many have written in to chastise me for what you perceive as my buying into the mainstream’s stance on global warming. I hope, with this, I’ve cleared up any misconceptions. Trying to argue about the causes of global warming is like whizzing into the wind, so I’ve been making the case for consumption using the cleaner-Earth arguments everyone else is using to defend crude conservation.

Now, bear with me if I’m covering ground you already know (I’m sure I am) but one basic truth warrants repeating if you’re going to understand my “global” point with this essay: With a few caveats, the price of any commodity goes up when demand for it outpaces or approaches the limits of supply.

In the case of oil, there are some other factors. Firstly, and as we see right now with the Nigeria situation and a few years ago with Katrina, the price of petroleum products are to some degree at the mercy of certain external forces — things like third-world political strife, weather events, oil spills, pipeline sabotage, mad dictators setting whole oil fields on fire and price collusion or manipulation within oil cartels. However, these kinds of factors typically only cause temporary changes in the price of crude.

Secondly, oil’s price is itself a major driver of production. The profit a company can make on a barrel of oil must justify the time and expense of finding it and extracting it. In order for new petroleum reserves to be tapped — and their yields finally brought to market years down the road — oil’s price per barrel must be high enough to warrant it, and with no price decline in sight. Otherwise, the anticipated profits won’t justify the costs…

Thirdly, and perhaps the most significant to my argument, is that unlike supplies of a lot of other commodities (corn, wheat, etc.) — which can typically be increased to meet demand relatively swiftly — the world’s flow of oil can’t be ratcheted up very quickly. There are a bunch of reasons for this: Exploration costs, new site infrastructure expenses, R&D costs of new technologies for the extraction of oil from dwindling fields or alternative sources (like oil sands or shale), and about a million other things…

But enough Crude 101. Like I said before, underneath ALL these ancillary factors is the very simple economic truth that rising demand is what really drives sustained increases in oil prices over time. And for the foreseeable future, world demand for oil will increase at a pace that’s far greater than the rate at which new supplies could come on line (you’ll see why in a moment). Hence, the recent $100 price-tag for oil futures — which, I predict, won’t end up being the commodity’s high-water mark.

Yes, this skyrocketing demand for oil is America’s fault. But not because of our rampant consumption of it.

How Consumption = Conservation
As you learned in Part 1 of this series, America’s thirst for crude has actually declined in recent years, despite steady increases in both population and GDP. We’re now using less oil per capita and unit of wealth created than at any point in recent history. Continuing this trend is exactly what many in the environmental relig-, er, movement, would claim is the key to a cleaner Earth in the future, since we’re the world’s biggest consumer of fossil fuels…

Their smarmy, capitalist-guilt-driven belief is that if the largest petro-consumer (the big, bad U.S.A.) consumes less, that just HAS to result in less global pollution and GHG. Now, this would be true if every nation on Earth consumed its oil with similar outputs of GHG/pollution per unit consumed. But as I’ve spent 20,000 words or more showing you over the last three years, this simply isn’t the case.

To recap a bit: Measured in terms of GHG-per-unit-of-oil-consumed, America burns its crude with less than half the greenhouse gas output of Russia or India — and with around one-third the atmospheric GHG as pollution-belching China. In fact, according to a report released last June by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China became the world’s largest gross emitter of CO2 in 2006 — by a decisive 8% margin over the next-closest nation, the U.S. This, despite consuming ONLY 37% AS MUCH OIL and around 72% as much total energy as the U.S. did…

But did you read about this on the front page of the big papers — or hear the talking heads trumpeting it on the evening news? Not likely.

A scarier question, one I’ve asked before, is: How do you think the global GHG/pollution picture is going to look once China consumes as much oil as we do — or more?

Bottom line: If the pervasive mainstream GHG theory is correct (whether it is or not isn’t today’s topic), the U.S. is directly responsible for accelerating the warming of the planet. In the name of cutting our own consumption — and in our quest for ever-cheaper shelving units, blenders, shavers, towels, clothes, sporting goods, rubber balls, Happy Meal prizes, lead-painted toys, killer pet-foods and shoddy tools — we’ve sold our manufacturing soul to a nation with no environmental conscience whatsoever.

And in so doing, we’ve outsourced nearly three times the pollution and GHG that we’d have produced had we made these things ourselves…

THIS is what’s really driving the price of oil upward: The fact that China is now factory-to-the-world (instead of the U.S.), and it takes that nation several times more fossil fuels to produce the same stuff that America could have — plus the fact that we’re lining up in droves to buy as much of their cheap, often-hazardous and always wastefully-produced junk as we can.

So you see, high oil (and gas) prices ARE America’s fault. Seduced by all manner of cheap stuff — and bamboozled by our own politicians and the media into believing we need a cleaner “Earth-print” — we’ve facilitated the rise of the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut. And now they’re putting pressure on world oil supplies, which can’t ramp up fast enough. Prices are soaring as a result.

Now, with all this in mind, I repeat the same question that I’ve been asking you in so many words for three years: If your primary concern is the environment — and you believe that man-caused global warming is ruining it — who would you rather have consuming fossil fuels to make the things you need and want: China or the U.S.?

Here’s another way of looking at this: If the world oil supply spigot is wide open and still not meeting demand (it must be, since oil prices have gone nowhere but up for more than a year), and if Chinese consumption of oil yields 2.8 times more GHG than American consumption, doesn’t it make for a cooler Earth if the U.S. consumes more of the oil coming out of that spigot — and China less?

Once again, folks, the blunt, inconvenient truth is that America’s increasing consumptive restraint and ongoing transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a services- and finance-driven one only serves to fuel an exponentially growing, hyper-industrial monster that cares nothing for the Planet — except as a market for its inexpensive products.

Think about that as you look at the “Made in China” labels on just about everything on the shelves in Target, Wal-mart, Toys-R-Us, PetSmart or even Home Depot.

The Carbon Catch-22
But hey, that Chinese-made stuff is really cheap. If the Reverend Owl Bore turns out to be right (again, I’m not saying he is — just that most people seem to believe he is), we’ll all be able to afford sunscreen, melanoma treatment and inland real estate with the money we’ve saved by paying China to cook the planet…

Indeed, the data show that what China does best from an industrial standpoint isn’t efficiency or quality or eco-consciousness. They’re the masters of doing things cheaply. But that’s only by virtue of their inexpensive labor and a lack of costly environmental regulation to comply with — not any true innovation in manufacturing or design. That kind of stuff is left to the Japanese, Americans and Germans (not coincidentally, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the low-GHG use of fossil fuels)…

Therein lies the quagmire, the Catch-22.

Imagine what a shock it would be to the U.S. economy if people all of sudden had to pay, say, three times as much for everything that’s currently made in China.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that it somehow dawned on everyone in the U.S. at 8:00a.m. tomorrow morning that Chinese-made goods were contributing to global warming at a far greater rate than if those same products were made right here in America…

And lets also say that by 9:00a.m. tomorrow morning, everything on every store shelf in the country with a “Made in China” label was situated right next to a similar product made in the USA, with far less waste, pollution and GHG…

However, owing to our democracy — which regulates how polluting our manufacturers can be, forces them to pay their workers a decent wage and enacts standards for product safety and quality — all that Earth-friendly American-made stuff was three times the money. Do you think people would spend the extra cash to (maybe) help keep the Earth a degree or two cooler?

Would you?

Democracy’s Crude Awakening
All this should make you wonder: WHY does the U.S. consume its oil/coal/whatever so much cleanlier than China, Russia, Korea, et al? (Hint: It’s the same reason that products made in the U.S. are more expensive). It’s called democracy.

As a system, democracies are at a distinct manufacturing disadvantage in a global free-market economy. That’s because they’re beholden (theoretically, at least) to the interests of concerned citizens who won’t tolerate waste, pollution, near-slave-labor and low standards of living.

However, democracies (where costs of living and taxes tend to be higher) thrive on cheap stuff. In America, we depend on a tide of it from China, Taiwan, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, etc. Ergo, the real price of economic globalization is a dirtier global environment — since the countries that can produce things the cheapest are those with the least constraints on pollution, quality control and wages (usually non-democracies).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking democracy. It’s the least crappy system of government ever tried — and ours in America, as flawed as it may be, is still the least wretched among major world democracies. However, democracies, when not properly led, can be the victims of their own majorities. I’m seeing evidence of this right now with the global warming debate.

Instead of leading and educating the American people about the environmental pitfalls of outsourcing more and more manufacturing to the developing world, politicians from each side of the aisle are simply testing the winds of public opinion (which blow according to the biases of the media and the hot air of guru-celebrities), then kowtowing to it for votes.

It doesn’t matter that they’re crippling our economy in the name of fuzzy-math ecology.
So what’s the answer, you’re asking? Is it economic isolationism or protectionism? Is it hording up the world’s oil? Is it regulation of the media? Is it sanctions against China?

I’ll tell you what I think it should be in the conclusion to my Carbo-geddon series. Stay tuned…

Doing my part to consume and conserve,
Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We’re Losing Our Freedoms

Omigosh! You have got to love this guy—and none of us have ever met him. He does not take himself too seriously, yet he makes keen points. If you enjoy his style, we encourage you to go to the Whiskey and Gunpowder website and check out the entertaining opening to this posting that we trimmed to get right to the meat of the matter. It is worth a good laugh and with the writers still on strike, we need more good laughs.

At least we still have freedom of speech!

Carbo-geddon, Part 1.5
Every time I write about energy or/and the environment, I get letters from people wanting to argue one side or the other of the global warming issue. The first part of this series was no exception. Some actually complained that I’d taken a neutral stance on whether mankind is causing global warming or not. In a way, this is why I wrote this interim essay — to explain my point of view more fully, even though it’s completely irrelevant whether man is causing global warming or not, or whether you or I believe it (I’ll explain why in a minute)…

Once more for the record, I’ve stated that I don’t pretend to be certain of whether or not man-caused CO2 and other so-called “greenhouse gases” are actually responsible for the modern up-trend in global temperatures. I’m not a climate scientist. Further, I make no attempt to minimize the fact that overwhelming evidence does indeed suggest that a slight increase in temperatures is happening on a global scale — or that coincidentally, levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have increased measurably since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

However, within the framework of these actualities, I am certain of four things:

1) Planet Earth has experienced a huge number of climatic change periods in its history, both warming and cooling — all except the current one having occurred long before humans could ever have influenced the environment with their evil internal combustion engines or coal-fired power plants.

2) The “scientific community” (a term which has grown to include a lot of people whose credentials as climate specialists are questionable) is far from united in agreement that man-generated GHGs are the cause of the modern global warming trend. As an example, one of today’s most credible climate scientists, Carleton University paleo-climatologist and Professor of Geology Tim Patterson, testified in 2005 before Canada’s Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that:

“There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature… In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years. On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?”

3) Lots of people — few, if any, of them scientists — are making lots of money and garnering lots of power and attention from the promotion of global warming hysteria. Conversely, those who challenge this mania (again, there are hundreds of credible examples of these) are mercilessly painted by the media and other global warming profiteers as “flat-Earthers.” They increasingly stand to gain nothing for their courage except ridicule, the ruination of their reputations, swift marginalization in polite circles and quite possibly a pink slip. To me, this gives their words a far greater weight than those on the other side of the argument.

4) The major media is not reporting on ANY of these three aspects to any significant degree — despite the somewhat inconvenient truth that credible backup for all of these facts can be found with just a few minutes of online research. (I did, and you can, too.)

Again, these are the only four truths of which I’m certain with regard to the entire climate change debate — except for one more thing: That even to a barely literate, synaptically challenged rube like me, it should be perfectly clear that the Earth’s climate should NOT stay static, but periodically change, sometimes radically.

Why does this come as a surprise to anyone? The simple fact that there are ocean-like deposits of oil — which is nothing more than the remains of eons worth of ancient plant matter subjected to huge amounts of pressure and time —under what’s now desert sand and arctic tundra should tell anyone with more than two brain cells that climatic change is the ONLY constant on planet Earth…

The Great Green Guilt-Trip
Before I elaborate on why U.S. energy policy is what it is, why it’s headed where it’s headed, and what it should be, I want to talk a bit about one of my biggest ongoing questions during the escalation of man-caused global warming theory:

If it’s not proven incontrovertibly by science, why do Americans seem to buy en masse into the idea that abundant-in-nature greenhouse gases are killing the planet simply because they come from their vehicle tailpipes and not solely the asses of buffalo and other natural sources?

The answer: Ignorance and guilt, both fostered by a corrupt politico-media spin machine.

Think about it objectively for a minute. It’s obvious that the media, our cultural icons and our elected leaders have been keeping us sheltered from the hard science or any real debate about man-caused global warming. These same people (especially the media) have also been making us Americans feel guilty for our success and the natural dominance of our less-flawed-than-everyone-else’s system for decades. Always do we hear about the strife in other countries and on other continents — and how it’s somehow our fault. Because we suck up too many resources. Because our trade practices are unfair. Because our foreign policy creates suffering and turmoil in nations that would ordinarily thrive. Because we aren’t doing enough to help…

And compassionate, feely saps that we Americans are, we buy it hook, line and sinker, whether it’s true or not. We feel bad about having it good — and for making it that way for ourselves. We never consider (because we never hear it) just how badly the Earth would have it if America did not exist. Who’d buy their bits of lead-painted junk? Who’d answer their call when they get unjustly invaded? Who’d send food and drugs and aid when they have an outbreak of disease or get washed out by a disaster? Where would they send their best and brightest to get educated? Where would throngs of their uneducated find gainful employment?

Worse than this, politicians exploit this guilt to tax us, regulate us, manipulate us, distract us, paralyze our thinking, stifle our tongues and seize ever more of our liberties. Nowhere is this more evident than in global warming policy. Based on nothing but faith in the correctness of a greenhouse gas THEORY promulgated by “objective” folks like movie stars, newscasters, politicians and the leaders of nations who benefit from our petro-strangulation, we’re losing our freedom to drive what we want (and what’s safest), consume as we desire and produce the things we need and that the rest of the world needs to buy — and used to buy from us

This is the entire goal of the Kyoto Protocol, by the way — re-allocating the flow of world oil to favor underdeveloped nations and force the U.S. off the top of the heap in terms of economic and manufacturing supremacy (this is already happening, in large part out of concern for the environment). As I said in my first Whiskey & Gunpowder essay on this topic way back in March 2005:

“…the Kyoto Protocol was engineered to be extremely punitive to the U.S. — a nation which I’ve just proven burns its oil relatively cleanly and produces a comparatively large amount per unit consumed. Had the U.S. remained part of this farce, it would have been required to reduce its GHG emissions by an astounding 43% by 2012.

“The only way to do this would have been to radically curb oil consumption. This was likely the goal of the entire Treaty: Forcing the U.S. to use less oil, so that more would be available for the use of “developing” (read: major polluter) nations China, India, Brazil and about a zillion others in Africa — which are allowed under the Protocol to spew as much GHG into the atmosphere as is required to meet their needs. They are literally given the carte blanche right to pollute!

“When you really put it under a magnifying glass, the Kyoto Protocol appears to be nothing more than a UN-engineered scheme to siphon oil away from the U.S. and into the hands of pollution-exempt nations (many of them utterly corrupt) in UN President Kofi Annan’s native Africa and other zones — a disastrous move for the environment, from a Greenhouse Gas standpoint.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous essays, if Kyoto’s main thrust really was the reduction of greenhouse gasses, it would stipulate that a greater percentage of the world’s oil and fossil fuels be consumed by the nations with the technology and environmental conscience (read: democracies) to do it cleanest and extract the most wealth and prosperity out of it — countries like the U.S., not like China.

That’s how I know that Kyoto’s a bunch of Robin Hood-ish bunk — because it gives no weight to relative greenhouse gases per unit of fossil fuels consumed. If one believes that man-caused GHGs are ruining the Earth, then it makes no sense to restrict the fossil fuel consumption of nations that do it cleanly and facilitate the increased consumption of those that do it dirtily.

Bottom line: Literally, without anything resembling proof, and led by shameless profiteers globally and locally — some elected, some unelected and some previously elected — the United States teeters on the brink of energy policies which will accelerate our decline into dependency on other nations for not just energy, but all manner of manufactured goods…

And as I showed you in Part One of this series, this will do nothing but hasten the demise of planet Earth if the global warming alarmists do turn out to be right!

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me as I flesh out my own feelings on global warming a bit. I’m above all things objective, and like I’ve said all along: I’m not a climatologist, and not qualified to decide whether mankind is causing global warming.

However, I am qualified to expose corruption and self-interest, and the flawed policies that arise from them. And in Part Three of this series, I’ll show you the disillusioning truth behind what’s really driving U.S. energy policy — and what should be if we hope to survive in any form resembling the America we know and love.

Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Environmentally Responsible Energy Consumption

In keeping with our goal here at CARE, to educate the public regarding energy reality, we love it when we find a source that you are not likely to encounter—especially when the source offers a fresh voice of reason.

Occasionally we feature posting from this unique view point: Whiskey and Gunpowder. This is a newsletter with an investor focus. While we skim their opinions, we seldom use them because they do not usually concur with our mission—though we did include them in our blog two posting ago. However, over the last month they have been posting what was supposed to be two parts, but expanded to four parts.

Not sure where they were going with their clever title of Carbo-geddon, we waited until all the segments had been posted. Now that all four parts are available, we will offer you one a day over the next four days. We hope you will want to come back and check out each one.

This posting—part 1—brings up two elements we find especially interesting. The first is an angle we have been pursuing: the cost to consumers of environmental regulation, compliance, and delay. Check it out. The second is a fresh perspective that we found particularly enlightening: the effective use of fossil fuels. Give it a read and then let us know what you think.

Watch for part 2 tomorrow.

Carbo-geddon, Part I
In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream…

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines.
— Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run”

Three recent happenings have got me thinking yet again about America’s energy policies, our “carbon footprint,” and the inextricable link between fossil fuels (especially oil) and economic development of many nations in the modern world.

The first of these was Al Gore’s reception of the Nobel Peace Prize, the second was the November 7 oil tanker spill in San Francisco Bay, and the third is that light, sweet crude dancing around $100 a barrel. These three seemingly unrelated events are nevertheless linked in my mind as harbingers of a rather bleak future — this four-part series explains why…

My views on American oil consumption run in stark contrast to the mainstream’s reflexive condemnation of all things petro. There are two main reasons for this:

One, because no matter what the climate change scare artists (and profiteers, like Gore), clean-corporation spin doctors, and alt-energy utopians say, there’s simply no replacing carbon-based fossil fuels on a global scale at any point in the foreseeable future without massive application of deadly force. I’ll clarify this a bit later.

Two, because even if the United States could snap its collective fingers and instantly be transformed into a 100% fossil-fuel-free and self-sustaining Utopia of perfect green-ness, it likely wouldn’t prevent or even forestall the coming “carbo-geddon” at all. In fact, there’s good reason to believe it would actually hasten it.

One thing before we get started. For the sake of furthering the debate about world and domestic energy use in a manner most resonant with today’s pervasive assumptions about fossil fuels and the environment, this series is written from a standpoint which entertains the possibility that man-generated carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” are the cause of the current trend of global warming. This does NOT mean that I believe this unequivocally, only that a lot of other people do — and that a certain amount of U.S. energy policy is indeed shaped by the possibility of such a correlation.

Pandora’s “Panaceas”
The blunt truth is that realistic, large-scale replacements for petroleum-based products as vehicle fuels and sources of power are either unrealistic, unsustainable or still decades away at least — no matter how wishful the thinking and rosy the rhetoric of pundits and politicians. Need an example?

Anyone who really looks into the ethanol boondoggle will find nothing more than a market-based farm subsidy program. In a nutshell: Politicians drive corn prices higher by playing into (or instigating) “global warming” hype and talking up or mandating demand for ethanol. This keeps farmers happy, profitable, paying more in taxes, and turning down millions in subsidies the federal government used to pay them NOT to grow corn. As long as there continue to be suitable acres for the clearing and planting (there’s only a finite number of these, however), everyone involved goes home in a limousine…

But meanwhile, the cost of every foodstuff either fed by corn (like most meats) or with corn as an ingredient (just about everything else) goes way up. Plus, millions of acres of forest retention, Conservation Reserve land, and wildlife habitat get plowed under to make room for more corn. And all for a relatively inefficient fuel that yields far less power and mileage than gas in today’s engines, while producing just as much carbon dioxide.

As another example, plant-based “bio-diesel” fuels show better promise of sustainability, but with similarly less-than-clear environmental benefits: Bio-diesel vehicles belch significantly more smog-causing hydrocarbons than those powered by gasoline or standard diesel. And although bio-diesel advocates claim the fuels have GHG advantages when evaluated from a “full lifecycle” standpoint (meaning that the extra oxygen produced by the crops used to make them offset their combustion CO2 ), these fuels spew just as much tailpipe carbon dioxide into the air as their petro-equivalents.

See what I mean about some of the leading energy alternatives being false panaceas for planet Earth? Also, “environmental benefit” is hard to pin down when it comes to new fuels for vehicles, home heating, power plants, etc. It’s a matter of priority. Should less GHG be the most important thing, even though man-caused global warming is a theory that’s far from proven?

I maintain that if the environmental impact analysis of some of today’s front-running alternative fuels gave appropriate weight to things like wildlife habitat destruction, increased water use, fertilizer contamination of waterways and aquifers, and related economic ripple effects, their “benefits” would seem less crystalline. Of course, as a lifelong outdoorsman and freedom-loving American, I have only two main concerns with regard to domestic energy policy, neither having to do with fuel costs:

1) The lowest possible negative impact on the environment as a whole — not simply the atmosphere (like so many “environmentalists” today) — but the land, wildlife, rivers, streams, aquifers and oceans, too.

2) Preserving Americans’ freedom to live in comfort, thrive in a free market and drive what’s safest and most capable (like light trucks and SUVs).

As I see it, aside from its inflation of certain segments of the market, perhaps the only true benefit to the mass adaptation of (viable) non-fossil fuels in the future would be the reduction in our consumption of foreign oil. If the U.S were to curb its thirst for imported petroleum, the environment would stand to benefit in a couple of ways: Less risk of disastrous oil spills from tankers, and less pollution from the consumption of fossil fuels used in shipping — IF man-caused greenhouse gases really are killing the planet, that is.

Also, all other things being equal, America would likely stand to benefit to some degree economically in both a direct sense — from a boom in the domestic alt-fuel industry — and in the more Machiavellian sense that we’d weaken the economies of petroleum exporting nations by softening the market for their oil, making our economy comparatively stronger.

Again, all this would be contingent on actually having large-scale, workable alternatives to gas and diesel fuels for vehicles, fossil fuels for power plants, etc. Which we don’t yet.

But here’s the really scary part: Even if the day comes when we do ultimately have an abundance of “clean” alternative fuels — whether it’s next year or in 2030 — it won’t matter a hill of beans in terms of a cleaner world.

In fact, it could make it even more polluted…

Once More From the Top: More U.S. Consumption = Less Global Pollution
In past Whiskey & Gunpowder essays (such as I wrote on March 10, 2005, June 20, 2006 and July 18, 2006 ), I’ve shown with hard numbers how America burns its fossil fuels far cleaner and extracts more power, productivity and wealth from them than other major oil-consuming nations — especially China and Russia, not to mention rapidly developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East…

It’s a fact. To recap, here’s what I wrote on this topic last year, as derived from statistics from GeoHive, the Pew Center, the World Resources Institute and other sources:

* Measured on a per-unit-of-oil-consumed scale, the U.S. produces less GHG than every other major developed or developing nation except Japan (we’re on a par with militantly green Germany). While consuming 25.4% of the world’s oil in 2000, we emitted only 20.6% of the GHGs. Compare that to China’s 6.5% of world oil consumption versus 14.8% of the GHGs (2.8 times as much as the U.S. per unit of oil consumed); India’s 3.0% consumption versus 5.5% GHG (2.26 times as much as the U.S. per barrel); and Russia’s 3.5% consumption versus 5.7% GHG (more than twice as much per unit as the U.S.). Even darling of the greenies Canada belches more GHG per barrel of oil consumed than the U.S.

* Measured in terms of economic yield (meaning how much we get from the oil we use), one need only compare GHG emission to gross domestic product (GDP) to get the full picture of just how much more effectively the U.S. consumes fossil fuels than almost any other industrialized nation on Earth (again, Japan and Germany are the exceptions). In 2000, America produced 39% more dollars in domestic GDP per unit of GHG expelled than Canada, 569% more dollars per GHG than India, a whopping 642% more dollars per GHG than China, and an incredible 1,041% more GDP per unit of GHG than the Russian Federation.

Remember, this is data from seven years ago. The picture is even bleaker based on the latest data, which shows that China alone is on the verge of eclipsing America’s total output of GHGs — and will no doubt dwarf us in the near future, if economic and fossil-fuel consumption numbers from the last few years are any indication. Some cool cartograms I found show, by relative size, every nation’s consumption of energy from all sources (oil, gas, coal, etc.)…

As expected, the U.S. out-consumes any other single nation, all sources considered. Judging by this map, it looks like the U.S. consumes a little less than twice the energy that China does, for instance (Geohive puts this figure at about 1.5 times as much, in terms equivalent to millions of tons of oil).

The next one shows the total output of all GHG by country… America’s “carbon footprint” almost exactly mirrors its global energy consumption. But China is already rivaling the U.S. for the world greenhouse gas Heavyweight Championship — despite consuming far less energy. India, South Africa and the notoriously environmentally careless Russian Federation are much bigger on the GHG map than on the energy map…

Once again, this shows what I’ve been saying for years: Very clearly, the U.S. consumes its energy far more environmentally responsibly than almost every other rising economic power or existing industrialized nation (take another look at South Africa and both North and South Korea — they’re four or five times as big on the GHG map as on the energy map!).

Now, here’s the hot-house question of the century: How do you think this map would look in another 10 years? Especially given the following:

* Chinese economic growth at a rate of 10% per year — This could be a conservative estimate. From 2004-2005 alone, China’s GDP jumped 15.38%, compared to American growth of around 4% per annum. Conversely, this estimate of U.S growth could be optimistic. Consulting firm Global Insight projects U.S. GDP growth in 2008 at just 1.9%!

* China’s continued expansion of oil consumption — From 2000 to 2005, China’s demand for oil boomed more than 30%, while America’s appetite for crude increased just over 5%, and it’s trending even lower. U.S oil consumption actually declined around a half-percent from 2004 to 2005 (the last full year I could find statistics).

* China’s coal demand keeps skyrocketing — Overwhelmingly, China burns coal for its electricity (coal is by far the worst of the fossil fuels to consume, GHG-wise). And their appetite for power is expanding at a mind-boggling rate. From 2000-2005, Chinese demand spiked by over 62%. Over this same period, U.S. consumption was nearly flat-lined, edging up only 1%, and actually declining between 2000 and 2004. Completion of new coal-fired electricity plants in China is reported to be around one per week…

And let me reiterate that China is just one of the major up-and-coming polluter nations. The Russian Federation, India, the Koreas and numerous African republics also pose a huge and growing threat to the environment from a GHG standpoint. For the proof, all you need to do is look at the map, the consumption trends and the GDP growth numbers from just the last full year that statistics were posted (2005):
* Russian Federation: Up 31.48%
* South Korea: Up 15.88%
* India: Up 13.64%
* South Africa: Up 12.87%
(Source: GeoHive)

Now mix in the “China Syndrome” I was fleshing out earlier and extrapolate it all over a decade — or a century…

Scary, huh?

But as I’ve said time and again: Were the U.S. to force other major consumer nations to curb their appetites for oil and fossil fuels — by ramping up our own oil/gas/coal consumption and stockpiling to monopolize a greater share of the world petro-marketplace — we’d actually be helping save Earth’s environment from massive amounts of pollution.

Headin’ for Carbo-geddon?
My “global” point with all of this analysis is that, if we don’t make some changes real quick, it’ll be just like The Boss said:

They’ll be living a runaway American Dream of prosperity without responsibility — and we’ll all end up riding around in the suicide machines (hybrid/electric cars) in a vain attempt to offset their eco-carelessness…

The U.S. can play clean and green by shackling the domestic marketplace and regulating American industry all it wants to. It feels good to “do our part,” right? But in the end, we’ll only be committing economic suicide so that the world’s largest polluter nations can thrive on the sea of money we spend with them, directly or indirectly.

Think about it: Communist China has been able to make itself “factory to the world” precisely because of their lax environmental policies and cheap labor — things that are only possible under a non-democratic model. They’ve been able to do this because they aren’t beholden to the same standards of conscientious production that a concerned, informed populace with the power to vote could hold them to.

Because of this imbalance (or “competitive advantage,” depending on who you ask), China can now afford to suck up all the fossil fuel resources they need to expand even more wildly — but without the regulatory guardrails that would be in place in a democracy. In turn, this enriches many other nations with little or no incentive toward concern for the environment, like most major oil-producing nations, a lot of which are major polluters in their own right...

And here we are, buying their tainted pet food and bits of cheap, lead-painted junk by the billions of dollars worth (yep, me too). Seriously, imagine what your local Wal-Mart or Target store would look like without any Chinese-made goods in it. The shelves would be as barren as they’d be after a post-tsunami looting.

Bottom line: If mankind-generated CO2 and other GHGs are indeed responsible for climate change that ultimately puts us all in peril, it’ll definitely be America’s fault…

But not because we’re polluters. It’s because, like the Eloi in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, we’ll have stopped being producers and world leaders of economic prosperity ourselves. Instead, we will have outsourced our polluting to a horde of eco-Morlocks who use the money they make from us to buy and consume resources we use increasingly less of in ways that will bring about “carbo-geddon” worlds faster than we ever would have.

Next up: What we can do about it. Brace yourselves, it won’t be easy — or easy to hear.

Dreading where we’re heading,
Jim Amrhein

Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Happened to Global Cooling?

Here at CARE we have wondered what happened to the “global cooling” alarmists of the 1970’s. We questioned where they are today. We didn’t take the idea further than conversation. We had not yet done the research. But then, a copy of a book landed in our hands that brought an interesting—almost humorous—look to our query.

Read the following endorsement from a book’s back cover. As you read, think about what book it is from.

“The dramatic importance of climatic changes to the world’s future has been dangerously underestimated by many, often because we have been lulled by modern technology into thinking we have conquered nature. But this well-written book points out in clear language that the climatic threat could be as awesome as any we might face, and that massive world-wide actions to hedge against that threat deserve immediate consideration. At a minimum, public awareness of the possibilities must commence…”

You could well assume that this quote is from Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth. It fits doesn’t it? No, it is actually from the book jacket of a book from the 1970’s. The dangerous climatic changes to which it refers is cooling! The book is The Cooling by Lowell Pointe.

Curious, we looked further. We did a quick internet search on the book and its author. That led us to this interesting article written by Joseph Perkins, a former columnist at the San Diego Union Tribune. He’s done the research. Why duplicate his efforts? We share with you, his comments here. While it was written in 2004, the opening paragraph could have been written this week and the rest of the content remains relevant.

On a different note, the above quote is from Dr. Stephen H. Scheinder. The 1970’s book cover says he is Deputy Head, Climate Project, National Center for Atmospheric Research. With as wrong as they were on global cooling, you’d think he’d be serving hamburgers at a fast-food chain—hiding from all connections to the climate change alarmists. But no, he is still in the debate as a professor at Stanford University in the Department of Biological Studies. On his website, you can find a plethora of interesting resources. We believe you may find this article from Charles Krauthammer and Scheinder’s rebuttal to be most enlightening—especially due to their age.

We had fun with this and hope you do! Do you have insights as to the current work of former global cooling alarmists? Please share them with us and, therefore, the world.
Global Warming or Global Cooling?
Joseph Perkins
Wednesday January 21, 2004

A cold wave swept through the nation’s northeast this week, leaving sub-zero temperatures in the wake, from Bangor to Boston, Syracuse to Scranton.

"It hasn’t been this cold in a couple of decades, Mike Jackson, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told The Boston Globe. The curious thing is, not one scientist, not one environmentalist has claimed that the cold snap is prima facie evidence of global "cooling." Not one Chicken Little lawmaker on Capitol Hill, not one United Nations official has insisted that human activity is somehow causing Mother Earth to get the chills.

Yet, if New England experiences a heat wave any time this year, if the mercury rises to levels unseen in the past 10 or 15 or 25 years, you can be almost certain the unusual weather will be attributed to global warming.

Yes, I know the whole climate thing is complex. I know you have to look at the entire picture, and not just a few select pixels. But that’s what the global warming alarmists do.

Indeed, when Europe experienced a rather balmy summer last year, when a supposed 20,000 people suffered heat-related deaths, global warming was identified as the culprit. Yet, no one blamed global cooling for the recent cold spell that swept across Europe, which, according to the BBC News, killed more than 2,500 people in England and Wales last month. Nor has anyone suggested that human activity caused the cold wave that sent the mercury plunging in India, which has claimed the lives of more than 500 people there so far this winter.

The point is that we are always witnessing extremes in weather.

And if it is facile to suggest that the frigid weather in New England, in the United Kingdom and in India portend a new Ice Age, it is absurd to insist that every heat wave and every unusually warm summer presages planetary meltdown.

Three decades ago, climate hysterics issued dire warnings about global cooling — that’s right — much as they are forebodingly warning today of global warming.

"The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind," wrote Nigel Calder, a former editor of New Scientist, in a 1975 article for the National Wildlife Federation’s journal, International Wildlife.

Twenty-nine years later, scientists are predicting that global warming spells the wholesale death and misery of more than a million animal and plant species, as recent article in the journal Nature forecasts.

"At this point, the world’s climatologists are agreed: ... Once the freeze starts, it will be too late," wrote Douglas Colligan, in a 1975 article for Science Digest.

Today, claims the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s climatologists are agreed that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are unnaturally high. And that the United States and other industrialized nations must accede to Draconian cuts in emissions, as laid out in the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 U.N. global warming treaty, before it’s too late.

"The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations," wrote Lowell Pointe, in his 1976 book The Cooling. "It has already made food and fuel more precious, thus increasing the price of everything we buy. If it continues, and no strong measures are taken to deal with it, the cooling will cause world famine, world chaos and probably world war, and this will all come by the year 2000.

"Today, the World Health Organization claims that global warming is killing about 150,000 people a year. And it predicts the yearly death toll will double in the next 30 years, owing to widespread malnutrition and disease.

The American people have been duped before by the false prophets of cataclysmic climate change, who assured them that a new ice age was in the offing.

They should not be fooled again by those false prophets, who are now admonishing them that every time they gas up their car or SUV, every time they switch on their television or power up the computer, they are bringing the planet that much closer to a climatory meltdown.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Complying with Regulations Will Cost a Bundle

Tonight the New Hampshire primary reports are coming in. While CARE is not a political organization, we do watch with interest as politics in America impacts future energy policies. Here we have a posting from a source we do not usually follow as they usually feature stock/investment topics. (If you have not read the past posting from Whiskey and Gunpowder, please check it out.) Here “Whiskey and Gunpowder” looks into what at first appears to be pollution in India and China. But read on. The author, Chris Mayer, brings it around to America’s political season and the issue near and dear to our heart: the economics of energy and on the flip side environmental protection. Chris’ voice is a fresh one with some interesting perspectives. He, like us at CARE, believes energy is under attack. Chris uses the term “utilites are under siege,” but the bottom line is the same. Complying with current, new, and un-thought of regulations will cost a bundle—a cost that will ultimately be borne by the consumer. As you read on, you are likely to want to know more of the unique perspective provided in Whiskey and Gunpowder. Please check them out.

India’s Biggest Problem
“Walking In This Climate Is Such Gentle Agony,” wrote Gozzano to open his book on India.
Guido Gozzano (1883-1916), a distinguished Italian poet, visited India in 1912. He spent six weeks on the subcontinent and wrote letters about his travels. He made many observations about the heat. “Never have I been so glad not to be overweight in this climate,” he wrote. “India is truly infernal for anyone with a few extra pounds.”

Later, he went on to write about how the heat “creates mirages, dissolves in the air, makes it quiver and flutter on the horizon.”

Wonder what Gozzano would make of India today, where on most days you can’t even see the horizon. It’s still hot as hell and humid in Bombay, for example, where many travelers begin their tour of India. (I know the official name is Mumbai, but I found almost all the locals kept referring to the city as Bombay. Plus, the name Bombay conjures up all those familiar images of a long ago past).

Today, the soupy thick smog of pollution makes the air even worse. Visibility is incredibly poor most of the time. For days, I never saw the sun except blurred through a gray screen of smog. You could smell the pollution when you landed and when you stepped outside, and in some places — say, near a standing body of water — the air is so foul, even some locals cover their noses as they walk by.

It’s more than just an anecdote about India, or some irritant for travelers. It’s a serious health issue for the people living there. According to In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce’s excellent book on India, air pollution causes about one-eighth of premature deaths in India. Hundreds of thousands of children die due to exposure to contaminated water.

Of course, India is not alone in this. China, the other big rapidly industrializing nation on the stage, has big problems with pollution of all kinds, too. Air quality in China is awful. I spent some time in China in 2005, and I remember the stink when I opened my suitcase back home. It smelled like I had lived in a bar for three weeks.

Robyn Meredith, in her recent book on China and India, titled The Elephant and the Dragon, also comments on China’s poor air quality. She writes one section from the city of Chongqing, an industrial city of 30 million people. (For perspective, that’s about the number of people that live in the whole state of California.) “Sunlight barely reaches the ground, dimmed by thick, gray smog,” she writes. “Skyscrapers just three blocks away are mere outlines because of the air pollution.”

Meredith cites the World Health Organization (WHO), which says that 200 cities in China fail to meet WHO standards for airborne particulates that cause respiratory diseases. “All but two of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India or China.”

Writer James Kynge calls the environmental degradation a “concealed debt”—which people will pay for eventually. Already, 16 of the top 20 most polluted cities are in China. Kynge writes in China Shakes the World —another terrific book on China—“acid rain falls over 30% of [China's] territory.”

I think you get the idea… The rapid rise of China and India has come with a cost: Serious environmental damage, on many levels.

But the governments know about the problem. Things are starting to change. Delhi was the worst polluted city in the world in 2004, but the government has since taken steps to clean it up. Today, all buses run on natural gas, for example.

In China, too, officials are pushing companies to adopt greener methods. A recent story from the Wall Street Journal talked about some of China’s new tougher stance: “Worried that China's boom is bringing with it supply gluts and high pollution, the government has spent the year trying to rein in the expansion of many industries.”

The WSJ goes on to give examples, including the cement industry. “In cement, for instance, officials are pushing companies to adopt newer and costlier production methods that are less polluting, which should help the meet new environmental goals.”

It’s not an isolated story. Another recent headline reads: “China Shifts Pollution Fight, New Rules Target Export Industry With Stiff Penalties.”

So let’s recap. There is clearly a big problem. We also have some action and policies mandating cleanup and imposing clean air standards. The whole issue is also starting to attract some serious money. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported General Motors’ announcement that it would invest in green technologies in China, “as concerns about pollution and fossil fuels deepen in the world’s fastest-growing auto market.” GM will put $250 million into building a research facility in Shanghai.

As big of a problem as pollution is, I’m betting there are some fortunes out there for those who have good solutions.

And that’s where I’m turning my eye right now…

It’s also not just an issue in these rapidly industrializing countries. Let’s look at the biggest economy of them all: The United States. You know it’s an election year. “Green” is in. The global warming issue—regardless of what you think of its merits—is a popular one with voters. So politicians need green credentials. That means pushing forward measures to reduce carbon emissions, for instance.

There has already been growing opposition to building new coal plants. Utilities have already shelved a number of these projects. Others are in the process of hashing out deals with state and federal regulators.

Coal provides about half of our electricity. And coal is a dirty fuel in the eyes of the greenies, who fret about the emission of carbon dioxides (so-called greenhouse gases) and other pollutants.

So basically, the utility industry is under siege. It can only do so much with alternative energy. The nation isn’t going to get the bulk of its electricity from wind, solar or nuclear power anytime soon. Coal is still king. And utilities must find a way to work with it.

Complying with clean air regulations will cost a bundle. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the power industry will spend $2.7-6.1 billion annually between 2010-2020 to comply with the clean air regulations. Those figures will probably prove conservative.

This is the overwhelming issue facing the power industry today: reducing its carbon emissions. This is a difficult issue to tackle and may take some time before real change occurs. Keep looking into this area of the world and you’ll notice that change will have to come before things get too far out of hand.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Standing Up for Energy

Clearly we at CARE were not the only ones alarmed by Parade Magazine’s outright attack on energy. Colorado State Senator Bill Cadman is demanding a public retraction of Parade’s anti-energy article. This posting reports on his efforts on behalf of energy. In addition to applauding his stand, we include this feature here because he brilliantly exposes the myths addressed in the Parade piece and offers the contrasting truth.

Western Senator Picks Fight With 'Parade' Magazine
Senator Demands Retraction and Apology by 'Parade'

New York City-based Parade magazine has stirred up a hornet's nest in the Western U.S. with its recent article demonizing oil and gas development, and a Colorado State Senator is now demanding a public retraction and apology by the magazine to its readers and to tens of thousands of industry workers.

In a letter to Parade, Colorado State Senator Bill Cadman (R) today demanded that the magazine issue a public apology to readers after an article in the publication’s Dec. 30, 2007 edition contained numerous inaccuracies about the U.S. oil and gas industry.

The article in question – “The Dirty Side of Domestic Fuel” – accepted as fact a number of false statements from the National Resources Defense Council, a radical environmental group that opposes domestic oil and gas production, according to Cadman.

Cadman specifically questioned whether the magazine has any links to the NRDC, whether NRDC paid to have the article published, and whether any members of the oil and gas industry were contacted about the “facts” in the article prior to publication.

"It looks like Parade magazine took NRDC’s extremist line and reprinted it as a news article,” said Cadman. “There seems to have been no effort made to find out the facts about the regulations faced by the oil and gas industry."

Cadman challenged Parade on several areas of the article, a story that focused on the question: “Is extracting domestic oil and natural gas important enough that companies should be granted exemptions from pollution laws?”

Of course, companies that develop oil and natural gas in the United States are not exempt from pollution laws and are in fact heavily regulated, both by states and the federal government. Cadman - a member of the board of Americans For American Energy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the importance of domestic energy production - in a letter to Parade’s editors said “At a minimum, you owe your readers a correction – and an apology – for the factual misstatements in this article. I would suggest you also publish an apology to the hard-working men and women of the American oil and gas industry who are committed to producing the energy our nation needs to survive.”

“This article flunks even the most basic standards of journalism, “ said Cadman. "This type of article, if it's going to be published at all, needs to be marked as an opinion piece and Parade should disclose the actual author.

"Whatever happened to checking facts before an article is published?"

Among the misstatements and factual errors cited by Cadman:

  1. “Loopholes make such wells … exempt from parts of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act that would control these substances.” Cadman noted this implies that oil and gas production escapes oversight in these areas. In fact, Congress ensures that oil and gas production is regulated primarily by state and local agencies because local officials are in a better position to tailor regulations to meet local conditions. Though this forces oil and gas companies to deal with a wide array of differing state-based regulatory structures, and increases costs to industry and to consumers, it still is the best approach for ensuring effective, highly-targeted and economically efficient environmental regulation.

  2. “Extracting oil and gas is known to release toxic chemicals, including mercury, benzene, arsenic, and harmful chemicals are routinely injected underground to boost output.” In fact,boosting the output of oil and gas wells through the process of fracturing underground rock formations primarily utilizes water, sand and food-grade gel. Studies conducted by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Groundwater Protection Council found no evidence that the injection process questioned here, regulated by state oil and gas agencies, has resulted in groundwater contamination.

  3. “Well operators are not required to file an annual toxic release inventory, a list of chemicals emitted.” In fact, oil and gas producers do report air emissions and “produced water” disposal to state regulatory agencies. Cadman also notes that operators are subject to the “Community Right to Know” law, and must file “Material Safety Data Sheets” for chemicals used in the production process with local emergency planning committees.

  4. "People living near wells have reported alarming health problems.” Cadman notes the article cites only anecdotal reports of these impacts and does not cite a single specific worker exposure or epidemiology study to back up these claims.

  5. Cadman notes that the magazine’s “poll” question - Is extracting domestic oil and natural gas important enough that companies should be granted exemptions from pollution laws? - is completely illegitimate because it is based on the presumption that the domestic oil and natural gas industry is “exempt” from pollution laws, which it is not.

  6. The underlying premise of the article – that “American oil may not be worth the price” – suggests that America should produce less of its domestic oil and gas resources. Even with greater conservation efforts, that will lead to only one outcome: forcing America to rely more on imports of foreign supplies. And that would result in more global pollution, not less, because environmental standards for oil and gas development in nearly every other nation are less stringent than those in the United States.

  7. The article misleads consumers because it speaks of the costs of producing domestic energy but completely ignores the heavy price that consumers – as well as our nation – pay by sending billions of energy dollars to foreign nations for imported oil and gas. Some of those nations are hostile to the United States, and some of that money ultimately winds up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

  8. Cadman pointed out that Parade chose not to report that America’s ever-growing dependence on foreign oil – and thus our increasing subsidization of hostile foreign nations and the terrorist organizations they support – is caused, in growing measure, by the political efforts of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an extremist environmental organization. Not challenging this group’s assertions raises serious ethical questions about whether Parade made any effort to substantiate the NRDC’s claims, and calls into question the journalistic integrity of the article.

Said Cadman, “To take the NRDC’s extremist anti-American energy line and report it as factual is a disservice to your readers and to a vital U.S. industry that is working hard to supply secure, domestic energy in an environmentally responsible manner.

“Perhaps Parade supports sending billions of dollars overseas to pay for our critical oil supplies? They seem to want to export the already high cost of energy production to poor nations abroad, and in the process are complacent to the documented flow of some of these dollars to nations hostile to American interests and the terrorist groups they support,” Cadman said.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Energy Under Attack

Happy New Year from CARE! With the new year upon us, we at CARE want to introduce you to a new concept.

If you have been following our postings, we hope you have come to believe—as we do—that energy is under attack. Not just the energy industry, energy itself. While we had a gut feeling about this attack, it was confirmed for us when we completed the first draft of our Environmental Utopia Analysis last summer. Around the same time rumors began to surface about collaboration between numerous extreme environmental groups. Since then validation has been received through a secret document given to an industry source that bears out our suspicions. There is a coalition with a multi-year plan targeting the goal of eliminating oil and gas production in America. They are using the PC view of global warming and environmental protection to push through government regulation that makes energy production harder and more costly. This campaign is called NoDOG—which stands for No Dirty Oil and Gas. You will hear more about this effort here and through the CARE newsletter: The PowerLine.

Just this last weekend a major publication featured an article that we believe is a part of the energy killers’ efforts. Typically, we post the complete articles we reference here in the CARE Blog for those who print them out and pass them around. However, we do not have permission to post this piece. So, in breaking with tradition, we offer you this link. Please check it out and come back and tell us what you think.