Is Cap & Trade the new Cigarette Tax?

Byline: | Category: Economy, Environment, Taxes & Spending | Posted at: Thursday, 19 March 2009

For the sake of argument let’s assume that there really is such a thing as anthropogenic global warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is a large contributor.

If government raises significant receipts from a high level of taxation on an undesirable activity, does not the government then become reliant on that activity even as it predictably declines under a punitive tax burden?  In other words, is Cap and Trade the new cigarette tax?

What does government do after the undesirable activity falls or, in this case, moves offshore? 

And if that isn’t bad enough, can we expect that government will do for out-of-work oil drillers, coal miners, and power plants exactly what it does for tobacco farmers hit by the higher tax?  Subsidies.

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Western PA last in line for pump relief

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election, Environment | Posted at: Monday, 3 November 2008

The lead story above the fold in today’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review is about the fact that area gas prices haven’t fallen as quickly there as they have nationwide.  Couple that story with Obama’s I’ll bankrupt the coal industry story and those aren’t very good stories for him in this region of a key state he has to win.

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Pampering the environment

Byline: | Category: Environment | Posted at: Monday, 20 October 2008

A British study found that disposable diapers are better for the environment than are old-fashioned cloth diapers.  They’re a hell of a lot more convenient too.

But since the findings contradict global warming conventional wisdom, the government has sought to suppress the report and eliminate funding for further research of the subject.

The findings themselves are much less troubling than is the government’s censorious reaction to them.

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A volcano that rises past the heights of hubris

Byline: | Category: Environment | Posted at: Friday, 27 June 2008

Yesterday Jonah Goldberg pointed to a story about previously unknown volcanoes 13,000 feet beneath the Arctic Ocean and asked:

“am I crazy for wondering why this story doesn’t even address — if only to shoot down — the idea that maybe it’s volcanoes, and not global warming, that are causing the melting ice caps?”

Goldberg isn’t crazy, nor is he the only one wondering such a thing.  In December 2007 Ralph von Frese, an earth sciences professor at The Ohio State University, reported newly discovered volcanic activity beneath the ice sheet that covers nearby Greenland.  His analysis determined that it is possible that recent volcanic activity there might melt enough water at the bottom of the ice sheets to accelerate their flow.  Von Frese concluded that:

The behavior of the great ice sheets is an important barometer of global climate change . . . However, to effectively separate and quantify human impacts on climate change, we must understand the natural impacts, too.

That seems like a rather pragmatic approach, so let’s attempt to quantify the impact of the volcanoes recently discovered at the top of the world.  What the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s researchers found was a series of explosive volcanoes along the Gakkel Ridge, an underwater mountain chain 1,100 miles long.  There, a series of earthquakes in 1999 were the result of volcanic eruptions each “as big as the one that buried Pompeii.”

Geologists tell us that when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, burying the ancient Neapolitan city, it launched a cubic mile of molten rock into the atmosphere.  Doing a little bit of math (see below) we find that a single Pompeii-sized eruption would release enough subterranean heat into the Arctic Ocean to put a hole in the polar ice cap the size of Massachusetts. 

Granted, the expanse of the polar ice cap is much greater than the size of the Bay State, but the story says that there was apparently more than one eruption in 1999 when seismologists first learned of the issue.  Climatologists before had barely even considered the effect of undersea volcanoes, whose effects are obviously not insignificant.  The magnitude of the recently discovered eruptions undoubtedly explains some proportion of the melting ice caps that many before have attributed to the effects of man.  As von Frese said, this little understood natural phenomenon deserves more scrutiny.

I say all this to point out what should be obvious but apparently isn’t:  we barely understand the world around us.  In all of recorded history we have only begun to scratch the vast amount of knowledge of the workings of our magnificent planet.  This world is so enormous that we apparently have even missed the existence of one of Earth’s most powerful forces—a volcanic explosion—directly beneath this supposedly well studied area.  For man, who possesses so little knowledge, to conclude that he and he alone is responsible for the changes we now observe around us is the height of hubris.  Volcanoes, it turns out, rise to even higher heights than hubris. 

That “little bit of math” part follows after the jump.


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Global warming alchemy

Byline: | Category: Environment | Posted at: Friday, 14 March 2008

The International Panel on Climate Change used flawed statistical analysis methods to create the “hockey stick” model which has formed the basis of global warming fears according to a group of statistical experts. 

I’m not surprised.  The alarmism over global climate change far outpaces the science. 

Consider this:  before taking actions to negate global warming and its effects there must be answers to the below four questions:

1.  Is the climate warming outside of the range of normal variation?

2.  If so, is the climate change due to man’s influence?

3.  Is the net effect of the climate change more negative than positive?

4.  Is there a reasonable expectation that the recommended changes will reverse the negative effects without introducing more negative effects?

We need a “yes” answer to all four questions before taking any actions or we risk either wasting money or making the situation worse.  Yet, so far we can’t even agree that the answer to the first question is “yes” and already there are many people ready to vault past all the others and spring into action. 

If this is in fact “science” then by all means lets approach global warming scientifically.  Instead the science we’ve seen thus far bears more resemblance to the “science” of alchemy.

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Politicizing a tragedy

Byline: | Category: Environment | Posted at: Thursday, 7 February 2008

Last Easter Sunday much of the United States suffered a record breaking severe cold snap.  When a number of us joked about how cold weather seemed to follow Al Gore wherever he went, many of his global warming adherents chastised us for confusing climate with weather.

I wonder if those same people will now take Democrat John Kerry to task for doing the same–not to mention his eagerness to politicize a tragedy.

By the way, since scientist John Kerry has concluded that global warming was responsible for this Super Tuesday’s tornado outbreak, I wonder what he thinks was the cause of this far more severe Super Outbreak I remember 34 years ago.


Record cold hits South Asia.  That is weather.  Tornado Outbreak–obviously due to a warming climate.  See the difference?




Whatever your personal weather, around the planet January 2008 was the second coldest in 15 years. The linked post, complete with graphs and everything, does not suggest that this says anything in particular about the climate or the long-term direction of local temperatures.

To me, the most interesting thing about this story is the complete absence of discussion in the mainstream media, which manages to induce a scientist or politician to blame anthropogenic global warming for any bit of idiosyncratic weather.

I’m not a GW-denier but I am a skeptic.  I’m also a statistician and I haven’t yet seen the evidence that indicates the following:

1.  The world is warming outside of normal variations

2.  Man is a significant cause of that warming

3.  On balance the effects of warming are more bad than good

4.  Man can take steps to reduce the bad effects of the warming

All four of those conditions must be true before anything we do anything has any positive effect but only the first has any evidence to support it–and even that is inconclusive.  Yet some people want to jump straight from #1 to #4.  That’s preposterous.  And it’s certainly not science.

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Cafeteria-style liberalism

Byline: | Category: Culture, Environment, Government, Uncategorized | Posted at: Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Who says that Nancy Pelosi hasn’t accomplished anything in Congress? She’s revamped the congressional cafeterias.

How she’s done it showcases many of the problems with liberalism:

The once dreary congressional cafeterias now abound with haute cuisine.

The menu transformation is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Greening the Capitol” plan to make the House campus more environmentally friendly and socially progressive.

But there can be a downside to delicious. Not everyone is happy with the enhanced offerings. Many congressional employees have complained that as the food quality has increased, so have the prices.

“It’s a big jump from high school cafeteria to fancy-pants gourmet. I just wish my pay improved,” said Caryn Schenewerk, a staffer for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Just like what they want to do in so many other areas, Democrats have chosen what is best for your health and the environment and have stuck you, the middle class worker, with the higher bill.

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The only candidate with an Energy Security policy

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election, Environment, Foreign Policy, Iraq | Posted at: Friday, 28 December 2007

The news out of Pakistan isn’t good this morning. Besieged simultaneously by militant Islamicists and by middle class calls for democratic reforms, Musharraf has been walking a tightrope without a net ever since he took power in a coup. I don’t pretend to know even a fraction of the intricacies within the country, but what I do know is that America absolutely needed a stable and friendly Pakistan for two very important reasons:

The first is obvious. Pakistan has the bomb. The consequences are horrific if the country splinters and control of its nuclear arsenal is lost.

The second reason is geographic. Look at a map of Afghanistan and tell me how you would propose that America fight Al Qaeda there without the aid of Pakistan? There are only three ways into the landlocked Asian country: through Pakistan, through Iran, or over a very long route through Russia and the former Soviet Stans. If, as the Democratic rhetoric goes, Afghanistan is a more important fight than Iraq, then securing the assistance of a stable Pakistan is a necessary precondition.

I don’t know how quickly the situation in Pakistan will stabilize or deteriorate. Nor do I know how quickly the situation there will translate to the American electorate here. But what I do know translates well is an overall disgust with having to even concern ourselves with that part of the world.

The reason why we are in the Middle East is oil. And the reason why rogue Middle Eastern madman are internationally dangerous is the money they get from oil. The economic simplistics say that we just need to stop using oil and the foreign policy simplistics tell us that we just need to disengage entirely from that part of the world. Neither group ever offers a viable path to accomplishing their goals, but in the end both are right.

In a response to a commenter on an earlier thread I bemoaned the fact that the biggest rationale offered for reducing American oil consumption is global warming. At best GW fears are overstated. At worst it is total bunk. That the environmental movement has pinned its entire raison d’etre on global warming is ludicrous. If GW goes away as a viable theory (I’m predicting that it soon will), so too will the only accepted justification for weaning America from oil, the revenue from which makes possible the destabilizing regimes in the Middle East.

This is an area of failure for President Bush. I remember arguing to a colleague just a few days after 9-11 that three things were going to happen: We would build nuclear power plants again, we would immediately drill ANWR, and we would immediately raise CAFE standards. I was wrong on all three counts. I’m as small government, and laissez-faire capitalist as they come, but getting America off of our foreign oil diet should have been a national defense priority beginning September 12th. We’ve lost six years arguing about global warming instead.

Bhutto’s assassination is an opportunity to bring this domestic argument to the fore. We must elminate our dependence on foreign oil, but we can’t do that in the simplistic way that Democrats offer, which is to just set carbon consumption goals, spend billions of taxpayer dollars, and wish the problem away. And we must extricate ourselves from the Middle East, but not in the Paul-Kucinich way, which is to simply pretend that we have no foreign policy interest there even while we enjoy a huge economic benefit from the oil we use from the region.

Only one such candidate recognizes this reality. It is evident in how he frames the issue on his webpage. He doesn’t call it “Environment” or “Global Warming” or “Energy Policy”. Instead it is Energy Security. And that candidate’s name is Fred Thompson.

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A great answer, hands down

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election, Environment | Posted at: Thursday, 27 December 2007

Courtesy of Don Surber we learn Fred Thompson’s answer to Nurse Ratched’s ill-timed question:

We don’t know the extent to which it’s warming. We don’t know whether or not it’s part of a cycle. We’ve had cooling periods in our country. We don’t know the extent to which man-made causes are contributing to it. We don’t know what the long-term effect of it is going to be and what we can do about it. . . Before we start rushing off and having United Nations countries, you know, big as a postage stamp telling us what to do and what we must do and so forth, let’s double-down and make sure we understand the ramifications and the significance of what we know and let’s improve on what we don’t know.

Spoken like a true skeptic*.

*And it should be remembered that skepticism, as Nobel Prize winner Al Gore apparently never learned, is one of the Three Central Components to Scientific and Critical Thinking.

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World to end tomorrow . . . Conservatives hardest hit

Byline: | Category: Environment | Posted at: Thursday, 27 December 2007

Won’t it be great when in just a “few more presidential cycles” Republicans will be massacred by floods and droughts. At least those are the hopes and dreams of some wacked out nut job in Philadelphia. I suppose liberals in New Orleans, Oakland, and Austin will be collateral damage in Lindorff’s war on conservatives; at least they will not have died in vain.

Be sure to read the whole scientifically ignorant and misanthropic rant.



Allahpundit equates the lunatic to (allegedly reverend) Fred Phelps, the “god* hates fags” guy, since in Lindorff’s religion, god apparently hates conservatives and thus visits floods, famine, and pestilence upon them.

Also see the first comment from William Amos who says that “all global warming is about is a retelling of the Noah’s story.” Hadn’t thought of that before, but it does fit the global-warming-as-religion meme.

*Fred Phelps’ “god” doesn’t rate an uppercase “G”. Nor does Lindorff’s.

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