Ted Cruz Misses an Opportunity to Nail Climate Alarmists

October 11, 2015

by Avi Davis

The climate debate kicked into high gear this week when on Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz, clashed swords with Sierra Club president Aaron Mair at a Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee hearing on the impact of climate change on minorities.  Cruz, a seasoned prosecutor, made mincemeat out of Mair, who seemed entirely unprepared for Cruz’s questioning, falling back repeatedly on the Sierra Club’s position that 97% of climate scientists around the world support the claim of anthropogenic global warming and that the science is settled.  Time and again Cruz challenged Mair to admit that satellite data over the past 18 years shows no credible evidence of a change in global temperatures and that it has forced global warming alarmists to retreat to the claim that there has been an  unexpected “pause” in the projected rise in temperatures.

Cruz was relentless in demanding to know whether the Sierra Club would agree to retract its statements and change its policy if this satellite data were proven to be correct.  Mair, who seemed uncomfortable and not at all confident of his position, whispered constantly to an aide who furnished him with the only answer he could muster: ” The Sierra Club’s position remains that anthropogenic global warming is settled science and is validated by a majority (97%) of world scientists.”

The questioning and stonewalling from Mair grew so preposterous that it looked as though the Sierra Club was under cross examination and had reverted to its Fifth Amendment protections, so as not to incriminate itself.

This was the point at which Cruz failed to press his advantage.  The obvious next question to the floundering Mair should have been: “Well where did you get that figure of 97%?”  It is a figure, after all, relied upon, not only by the Sierra Club, but by the President of the United States, his Secretary of State, the entire Democratic Party, the media, academia and the environmental NGOs who relentlessly spew it as unassailable proof that the world is being catastrophically warmed by man-made activities.

But where does the figure actually come from?  Surely someone, at some point, must have conducted a survey or study to produce it?

Well, indeed, they had – and not just once.   One is a 2004 opinion piece by Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes, published in Science Magazine, which claimed that of the abstracts of 928 articles published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, 75% supported the view that man-made activities were responsible for most of the observed warming of the earth’s atmosphere over the past 50 years. But Oreskes’ essay failed to note whether any of these abstracts at all determined that the warming was “dangerous”and it did not contain any reference to world renowned climatologists such as Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer,  Sherwood Idso  or Fred Singer.  Forgotten also by Orekes, was that abstracts of academic articles often fail to be substantiated by the body of the article they preface. Since she didn’t apparently read the articles she could not have truly  known what they did or did not support.

Then there was a 2009 article in Eos, by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, a student at the University of Illinois, supported by her thesis adviser Peter Doran, who reported, in her master’s thesis, the results of a two question on-line survey which found that 97% of scientists surveyed agreed that global temperatures had risen over the past 50 years and that human activity had been a contributing factor.  But the survey failed to question its respondents as to  whether the human factor was sufficient to constitute a problem for the future of the planet.  And more importantly, only 79 respondents claimed an expertise in climate science.  This was out of a total of 3,146 total respondents!

Another student, William R. Love Anderegg, this time at Stanford University, conducted a survey in 2010 through Google Scholar of 200 of the most prolific writers on climate change and found that ” 97% to 98% agreed that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for ‘most’ of the unequivocal warming.” But once again, how much of a danger this posed to the earth’s atmosphere was not determined.  And of course the fact that only 200 out of the tens of thousands of climate scientists world wide were surveyed, was not dispositive of much at all.

Then of course there is the U.N’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which issues reports every six years and claims to represent the views and opinions of 2,500 climatologists world wide.  Its reports have been the basis of the claim that world wide scientific opinion accepts that greenhouse gases have been the single greatest contributor to the rise of the Earth’s temperature over the past 50 years.  And yet, in its Fifth Assessment Report, issued in 2013, only a handful of those 2,500 had reviewed research having to do with the key question: how much of the increase in world temperatures over the past 50 years was due to man-made activities?.  Only a paltry 41 authors and editors in the crucial fifth chapter of the Report had addressed anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing.

Forgotten, neglected or discredited by the alarmists are other surveys which have come to opposing conclusions as those of the students at Stanford University and the University of Illinois.  In 2010, two German scientists, Dennis Bray and Hans van Storch found that most scientists disagree with the “consensus ” on key issues such as the reliability of climate data and the projections of computer models.  A 2012 survey by the American Meteorological Society found that only 39.5% of its 1,854 members accepted that man made global warming is even dangerous.

The Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, has now organized nine international conferences ( two of which I have attended) which have brought together a very wide selection of scientists from a  variety of backgrounds around the world to discuss and debate anthropogenic global warming.  Their consensus has been that in fact not only has global warming abated, but that man made activities contributed little to it and that the measures now being recommended by our own government, most academic institutions and other activist NGOs, (such as the Sierra Club) would do little to nothing to reverse nor forestall climate change either now or in the foreseeable future.

This, then, is the material Senator Ted Cruz had at his disposal to sweep the floor with the Sierra Club and its highly politicized agenda which aims at saddling mankind ( read- the developed nations of the world) with the responsibility for the allegedly manmade catastrophic damage to our climate.  It was an opportunity invidiously lost.

Nevertheless, those in the vanguard of the effort to expose Global Warming propaganda for what it truly is – an attempt at global wealth redistribution and an opportunity for a small cadre of opportunists to make a great deal of money – should not hesitate to press again and again on the issue of where, exactly, the alarmists come up with their 97% figure.

Curiously enough, that would make for a far more conclusive debate and authoritative finding than anything that could be finally settled about climate change.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone.  In 2010 he organized the international conference Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?which took place at UCLA in Los Angeles.


The Retrogressive Progressives of New York

December 21, 2014

by Avi Davis

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, announced on Wednesday that  he will ban all forms of hydraulic fracturing in his state until further information can be obtain about health and environmental risks of the oil drilling process.  The announcement came on exactly the same day that Russia announced emergency measures to shore up the ruble and to prevent the Russian economy tail spinning into collapse; as well as the day that it was announced  that Cuba and the United States will re-commence diplomatic relations after a 53  year lull.  Both of the latter events can be tied directly to the impact the fracking boom has had on the United States.   The ruble has lost 20% of its value against the dollar after prices for oil collapsed under the weight of the global oil glut.  Cuba, reliant on Venezuela for its energy needs and economic subsidies, faces consequences in the near future as the Venezuelan economy buckles  as its oil fetches lower prices and the American market is saturated with domestic supplies of crude. Adrift, Cuba had little choice but to seek rapprochement with the United States.

 

 

 

But just as Cuomo was self righteously patting himself on the back for having stood up to the oil industry, there were  dozens of newly minted millionaires in formerly lowly North Dakota cashing their checks at the bank ; and in nearby Pennsylvania there are farmers and ordinary landowners who are buying themselves mansions;   The ordinary American citizen has not been passed by either.  He has watched,  astonished, as the cost of a tank of gas has plummeted by up to 30% over the past 12 months.  Throughout the world the fracking revolution, which began only five years ago, is not only reviving the world economy; it is challenging the very economic viability of long term U.S. adversaries such as Russia, Venezuela and, yes, Cuba.

But nobody in the heart of Progressive  America would seem to know any of this.  For it seems that liberal elites in the  State of New York, who have placed inordinate pressure on the Governor to thwart the fracking boom, this extraordinary progress and the optimism it has generated –  opening the world to the idea that the oil resources of the Earth may be limitless – is all a chimera. They are certain that fracking is dangerous for the environment and costly to the health of anyone living  near the vicinity of its wells.

Or are they?

For surely they know that hydraulic fracturing has been proven again and again to be safe – with no adverse health affects in the regions of the country in which it has been applied and at no significant environmental cost.  And some of these reports come from the reliably skeptical Environmental Protection Agency itself.  So as the fracking revolution rolls over the United  States, reviving a moribund economy and injecting a much needed rush of adrenaline into our downcast national mood, the progressives of New York State don’t seem to be too happy about  this  unquestionable form of human progress.  Rather they are quite determined to stand steadfast  against it.

 

But surely they must know this: New York state sits astride the Marcellus Shale Formation, which contains one of the potentially richest sources of natural gas in the country – a resource that could power the state for several hundred years and provide employment to hundreds of thousands.   Cuomo’s ban will be particularly devastating for poor New Yorkers, who can now be expected to struggle with high home heating bills due to expensive imported gas.  If Cuomo and his progressive friends would like an idea of exactly how drilling for natural gas using fracking procedures could help the economy of New York State, perhaps they should should look no further than nearby Pennsylvania.   There they will find, according to the American Petroleum Institute,  energy companies who have generated more than $2.1 billion in state and local taxes since the fracking boom began.  And according to state data, energy employment has more than doubled from 13,059 jobs in the first quarter of 2014  to 28, 229 in early 2014.  The average salary for those jobs is $93,000 per year, which is $40,000 higher than the national average.

And then there are other benefits of the fracking boom.  The United States has seen dramatic reductions in national carbon dioxide emissions, over the past six years –  largely as a result of hydraulic fracturing, which allowed natural gas to become cheap and abundant, and mostly displacing dirtier, higher-emission coal in the generation mix.  And lets not forget  that hydraulic fracturing, and the similar techniques used for “tight oil” drilling, have actually allowed the United States to become the world’s leading oil producer in 2014 and will allow it to become completely oil independent by 2020  – which only strengthens the nation’s geo-political position.

Given this information there are few other conclusions at which to arrive other than the fact New York does not want more natural gas, because it does not want more energy; and it does not want more energy because it fears humans will use it to build more industry; and it does not want more industry because it does not want – wait for it –  more human progress.

For you see more progress means more human development, which means more human intrusion on the natural environment.  And that is the red line which our environmentalists and their progressive allies will not allow us to cross.  Of course you will not hear the Sierra Club propound this philosophy out loud.  But it is written all over their rather limp reasoning for an absolute ban on fracking.

So there you have it.  The retrogressive progressives, determined, at any cost, to resist the juggernaut of fracking that is proving not only good for our economy, good for the environment but also good for maintaining U.S. dominance of the energy markets of the world.  If the U.S. maintains this dominant position, this will be indeed be, not the century of American decline – as so often predicted by the liberal media –  but potentially the greatest  century of American achievement in history where the country reaches its economic zenith.

Its really just too bad that New York State will not be along for the ride.


Neil Young Still Trips Down that Ol’ Hippie Highway

November 24, 2014

I have to admit that being a Neil Young fan has its challenges.  Yes, there is lots of new music to listen to (eight albums, including live releases, in the past four years); plenty to read (two auto-biographies in the same time period) and even some new audio hardware ( the PONO, whose development Mr. Young led).  But after a while it does get a bit much.  Some of the albums are true stinkers ( A Letter Home and Le Noise are almost unlistenable); the books endlessly focused on cars, drugs, booze and more cars  and Young’s obsession for improving technology a bit self aggrandizing.

Now we can add an overweening desire to sermonize as part of the problem.

Back in 2005 Young issued an album titled  Living With War – a barbed, venomous attack on President George W. Bush and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars over which he was then presiding.   The album was choc-a- block with political screed.  With song titles such  as Let’s Impeach the President; Shock and Awe and Looking for a Leader, Young could not be mistaken for anything but that frayed-jeaned Woodstock warrior who is still so certain that the era of  peace, love and anti-militarism (read draft dodging)  still holds the answers for our future happiness and prosperity.

Granted, Young has always been something of renegade, even against his own audience ( for a brief timE in the 1980s he was a supporter of Ronald Reagan).  But his turn to chic liberal political causes in recent years has truly augmented his image as something  of a throwback, unwilling to examine in any depth the sagacity of the movements to which he attaches his name and driven as much my ideology than common sense.

His latest support for the anti- Keystone XL pipeline  campaign is a case in point.  Drawn into the fight to prevent the pipeline’s construction by his paramour, uber-environmentalist Darryl Hannah, Young has seemed to agree with  NASA Scientist and all round global warming Cassandra, James Hansen, that  the construction of the pipeline will mean  “game over ” in the battle to save our planet from the poisons of carbon dioxide.  Hansen’S May 12, 2o12 New York Times editorial sent Young into a flurry of activity about our environmental future and he has now pledged himself to its rescue.  And so we can expect many more Young albums which bristle with indignation against oil companies, multinational corporations and well paid CEOs (of which , of course, he is virtually one).

It is quite amusing to see very rich men pretending that they are still just money scrounging buskers panhandling on the streets of  Toronto.  Young, now 68 – and looking very much  his age – still wears torn, patched jeans; baseball caps worn backwards ( a habit I thought outlawed in the 1990s) and drives one of his dozens of 50s era vintage cars. He recently ditched his wife of 36 years  (with whom he struggled to raise two children stricken with cerebral palsy) to take up with actress Hannah and has suffered health problems, including an aneurysm.

It all seems to fuel his output, which, for an artist of his age, is prodigious.

But one almost has to laugh at the irony of an artist who doesn’t seem to recognize how his own lyrics designed to skewer one president, are finding an even more fitting target in his successor:

Take for instance  the lyrics  for Lets Impeach the President:

“Lets impeach the President for spyin’

On citizens in their own homes 

Breaking every law in the country

Tapping our computers and telephones”

 

Or how about  these  words from Looking for a Leader:

 

“Yeah we got our election

But corruption has a chance

We got to have a clean win

To give us confidence

America is beautiful 

But she has an ugly side”

Spoken like the Canadian he is, a man who has lived in the United States for 40 years and yet to take out American citizenship.    But don’t you have to wonder whether this seeker of truth and promoter of justice will one day turn his muse to the clear violations of law and constitutional protections orchestrated by the very leader he once painted as a savior?

I await that album with much anticipation.

In the meantime, I am still almost certain to still indulge myself in Neil Young music.  Why?  I guess  there are some adolescent  habits you just can’t kick.  Yet, I am going to be on the look out, along that ol’ hippie highway, for that sudden sting of reality that  jolts Neil from the dreamland of 1969 to the present day suppressions and  legal violations which occur daily in Barack Obama’s America.

 

 

 

 

 


Keystone Stonewalling Reveals the Truth of Presidential Inaction

November 16, 2014

Much has been said in the ten days following the mid-term elections in the United States about the coming confrontation between the President and Congress.  The President has publicly warned the soon-to-be Republican controlled Senate that failure to present him with an immigration bill that he can sign will encourage him to go over their heads and order a sweeping reform of immigration policy by executive fiat.  For the past four years his Administration has consistently claimed that it is Congressional inaction, and his not his own unwillingness to act, which  is the true cause of legislative gridlock.

But there is a glaring incidence of presidential inaction upon which Congress has every right to confront this Administration.

For six years the authorization to complete the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Steele, Nebraska and then onward to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export, has languished in bureaucratic purgatory.  The application for the pipeline (which is actually the third stage in a four part system of conduits which would bring nearly 850,000 gallons of crude a day, traveling 3,251 miles) was first presented in September, 2008, two months before Obama’s first term election.  Since then it has met a series of obstacles, first from the State Department and then the EPA and  then from a whole range of environmental organizations dogmatically opposed to its construction.  Little known by the public is that three other stages of the project have already been completed and are functioning.  Only the third stage, which links Canada to Nebraska remains to be built.

It is interesting to note that Keystone and its chief developer,TransCanada,  has vaulted almost every hurdle and objection thrown in its path – particularly from environmentalists.  An environmental study issued  by the State Department on August 26, 2011 claimed that there would be no significant environmental impact of the pipeline along its U.S. traverse.  A persistent environmentalist claim that an oil spill from the pipeline would significantly affect drinking water drawn from Ogallala Aquifer – which underlies Nebraska and eight other states – was quickly dispatched.  In April , 2013, James Goeke, a professor emeritus from the University of Nebraska who has spent 40 years studying  the Aquifer concluded a report in which he stated:   “A lot of people in the debate about the pipeline talk about how leakage would foul the water and ruin the entire water supply in the state of Nebraska and that’s just false. A leak from the XL pipeline would pose a minimal risk to the aquifer as a whole.”

The pipeline is supported by every State or Provincial  government through which it passes from Alberta to Texas.  A recent Pew Research Poll  found that  61% of American citizens support its construction.  Estimates conclude that it would create 42,000 temporary jobs during construction and up to 2,000 after completion.  It could contribute to bringing  down the cost of domestic fuel  since the Gulf refineries import a great deal of their oil from Venezuela and Nigeria, two countries with whom the United States maintains strained relations.  Moreover, the abundant Canadian oil is destined to be sold anyway and will be transported, if not by pipe, then by train or lorry across our continent, two modes of transport far more susceptible to oil spills and devastating environmental damage –  as the tragic  Lac-Mégantic derailmuent in Quebec on July 6, 2013, demonstrated.   It is instructive to note that  the oil in the Lac-Mégantic rail cars came from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, an area that would be served by the Keystone expansion.

So it is quite stunning to hear the President once again talking about the valueless encumbrance that the pipeline will place upon the United States.   Speaking in off the cuff remarks in Burma this week he said:

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

But, Mr. President, aren’t oil markets global, so that adding the Canadian resource to world supply might also have some kind of impact on the prices U.S. citizens pay at the pump? And won’t Keystone also carry U.S. light oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale?

Someone else must have asked the President this question because his press secretary, Josh Earnest, was later compelled to clarify:

 “The President, as you’ll recall in a speech that he delivered last summer, indicated that one of the factors in that review should be the degree to which a project like this would substantially   contribute to the causes of climate change,” Earnest said.  “So this is a project that is still under review by the State Department to determine whether or not it’s in the national interest.”

Climate change is not in the national interest – so we have been regaled endlessly by this President and his acolytes over the past six years.  Putting aside for a moment the highly contentious issue of whether the Canadian oil will actually contribute to climate change (an issue dealt with far better by the Heartland Institute than me)  and whether there is any climate change at all ( another fractious subject), why is it then in the national interest to prevent the construction of the pipe itself  – a project  that is three quarters completed anyway?

As I have stated here earlier, this oil is going to be delivered one way or another – there is no getting around it.   So how is the construction of this pipeline – a great economic boon to our most important trading partner and ally in Canada – as well as a boon to the United States in creating jobs and quite possibly decreasing oil prices – likely to affect climate change?

The answer is, of course, that it won’t.  The pipeline is just a pipe, nothing more – a modern , effective conduit for oil that is likely to reach its intended destination anyway.   The furious objections  to the pipeline are therefore not economic nor environmental –  they are ideological, political and even religious.  The viscous substance traveling in that pipe has become a symbol to Obama and many fellow liberals (who view the world through apocalyptic visions of melting glaciers and massive tidal waves) of doom and human sin. The subscription to this religious narrative produces all kinds of twisted logic and political contortions. It is a deep shame that it has now found its way into the mouth of a man who is so vaunted for his supposed intellect – our President.

The House of Representatives on November 14th, passed a bill approving Keystone 252 to 161.  It looks likely to pass the Senate on Friday with a number of Democrats in oil producing states siding with the Republicans to create a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority.

If the Bill is then presented  to the President for signature and he proceeds  to veto it, the American people will finally know that while a  stone wall may have been erected in front of the Capitol Building, a much higher one exists on Pennsylvania Avenue – right in front of the White House itself.

 


Daily Blurb #5

January 7, 2011

Is China Preparing For War With the United States?

Reports that China has developed the prototype of a stealth bomber is getting people in our Defense establishment hot under the collar – and for good reason.  While China has never approached anything near parity with the U.S. in military capacity, the fact that it is now developing its own military technology, sometimes well in advance of the United States, is certainly cause for concern.  There is of course an argument that the trade ties between the United States and the Republic of China and the mutually assured destruction of both economies should war erupt, would prevent a military confrontation.  But this is  no longer convincing.  One just has to read the the books of Niall Ferguson to understand how nations quickly abandon their own better economic instincts when it comes to wars of aggrandisement.

And China’s ambitions in the Western Pacific are very much about self-aggrandisment.  In August, in its annual report to Congress,  the U.S. Department of Defense claimed that China was ramping up investment in an array of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare. The military report said China was “already looking at contingencies beyond Taiwan” including through a longstanding project to build a far-reaching missile that could potentially strike US carriers deep in the Pacific.

It should come as little surprise.  The revitalization of the Middle Kingdom of the  Ming and Qing dynasties, wherein China reduced all the nations surrounding it to vassal states, is not merely a part of Chinese folklore, but a central tenet of  political discourse and national business strategy.  Is war likely tomorrow, or next year or even in ten years?  Perhaps not.  But we would be foolish to believe that it could never happen or that expenditures in military technology represent no threat to the global  supremacy of the U.S. military.

Obama’s Day of Reckoning Over Settlements

In a few days the Obama Administration will be tested on exactly how much of an obstacle it believes the 120 settlements in Samaria and Judea represent to the peace process.  This month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is taking his campaign to the UN Security Council, where the Palestinians will introduce a draft resolution that would declare Israeli “settlements” in Jerusalem to be “illegal.” The draft demands a halt to all construction in the eastern half of Israel’s capital city.   The Palestinians understand exactly what this means:   “We drafted it using the same words that Secretary Clinton is using and so we don’t see why the U.S. would veto it,” Abbas said.

The Obama Administration, as of today, stands equivocal on how it intends to address this flagrant attack on the notion of a negotiated settlement. On December 29, Mark C. Toner, the State Department spokesman had this to say on the matter at a press conference in Foggy Bottom:

” QUESTION: Hi, Mark. I’m wondering about this report of the draft resolution that may go before the UN Security Council on – by supporters of Palestinians condemning the Israeli settlements. What would the U.S. response be to that?

MR. TONER: Well, every U.S. Administration has been for decades has been clear on this. We don’t accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity, and in fact, we believe continued expansion is corrosive to peace efforts, as well as to Israel’s future. We believe, fundamentally, that direct negotiations are the only path through which the parties will ultimately reach the framework agreement that is our goal, our mutual goal. And final status issues can only be resolved through negotiations between the parties and not by recourse to the UN Security Council, so we’ve consistently opposed any attempt to take these kinds of issues to the Council, because we believe that these kinds of efforts don’t move us any closer to our goal, which is of two states living side by side in peace and security.

QUESTION: Would the U.S. go so far as to use its veto power?

MR. TONER: Again, it’s a hypothetical at this point, Cami, but I think I made our position pretty clear. Any more questions?

This has never been a “hypothetical” for any other U.S. Administration and the government’s position on the matter is far from clear.   One-sided U.N. resolutions against Israel have ALWAYS been vetoed by the U.S. at the United Nations.   The failure of the Obama Administration to signal its intentions regarding such a draft resolution is truly a first and a worrying development.

Pundits in Washington and New York are now speculating about what any abstention on the part of the United States could mean for  Israel and the Middle East.  Some have suggested that it will confirm what many for some time have considered the truth – that the Obama Administration’s intends to become  the first openly hostile Administration to the Jewish state.  I would go further.  It would open the gates to the next Middle East war, encouraging Israel’s enemies to believe that it has been abandoned by its main diplomatic champion and that open season has been declared.

The Administration’s insistence on settlement freezes as preconditions to negotiations has proven rash as the Palestinians and their Arab allies have used it to craftily drive a wedge between Israel and its American ally.  If Obama wants to prove he cares more about peace in the Middle East than he does about punishing Israel for its settlement policies, then he must immediately signal to the Arab world that his country will not stand idly by while Israel is made the fall guy for his Administration’s own diplomatic failures and mistakes.   That would be the mature and responsible approach.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

Meet Fred Singer

On Wednesday night , January 5 in Bel Air,  AFA presented  Fred Singer, the renown and ebullient climatologist who has spent the past 30 years debunking anthropogenic global warming and transforming skepticism on that subject into a high art.   Singer’s book Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years and the unmatched research from his own organization, the Nongovernmental International  Panel on Climate Change ( NIPCC) which produced the 850 page study  Climate Change Reconsidered, form the basis of  the scientific response to the deeply flawed and highly politicized work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations agency whose four reports over the past 19 years have been used to sound the clarion call for cutting global carbon emissions.

Singer, an avuncular and engaging speaker with a stentorian voice, described how the global warming debate gained world wide traction as environmentalists came to dominate world forums on issues of economic development.   Whereas he believes there is abundant evidence for increases in world temperatures over the past 150 years,  he stated that the evidence that man has substantially contributed to that warming is still very much in contention and should be debated.  The more likely explanation, he said, is that we are now in the midst of a global warming cycle that repeats every 400 or so years and has much more to do with solar activity than with anything humans do or don’t do on Earth.

It was a powerful presentation, delivered  with a wry sense of humor and a warmth that belied  Dr. Singer’s reputation as a curmudgeon.  I highly recommend Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years and hope to bring Dr. Singer back  to Los Angeles in June for our next summer conference Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?

Share on Facebook


Daily Blurb #2

January 4, 2011

The Shame of President Moshe Katzav

I first met Moshe Katzav 20 years ago when I shepherded him around Los Angeles for the Israel Bonds organization. He  was then a minister in the Shamir Government and a very high ranking member of the Likud Party.   He struck me as a soft spoken and particularly decent man who was still filled to the brim with Zionist idealism.  I wasn’t then surprised when he was chosen over several other candidates to become Israel’s eighth president in 2002.  His personality and demeanor – restrained, humble and avuncular, seemed to fit the job description and matched the dignified air of  many of his predecessors.

How shocking it is then to witness his fall from grace and the revelations of his consistent pattern of womanizing and sexual harassment over the course of many years.  His conviction two days ago in a Tel Aviv court on charges of rape and sexual harassment brings unparalleled disgrace to the institution of the presidency, an office whose occupants have usually been considered beyond reproach.  Certainly Katzav’s predecessor, Ezer Weizmann, did great injury to the office when he was forced to resign over corruption charges dating back to his own time as a party politician.

But there has never been anything in Israel quite like this.  It says a great deal about the quality of the men who lead the Jewish nation when so many of them are unable to exhibit sexual restraint – and I include Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Mordechai- all well known womanizers, in that category.  It is a statement of profound sorrow that there is such little regard for dignified conduct among those men who regularly proclaim the Jewish people ” a light unto the world.”

The Future of Guantanomo

Karl Rove provided a particularly biting response in the WSJ to Barack Obama’s statement on December 22 that the prison facility on the Cuban coast is  “probably the No. 1 recruitment tool for al Qaeda and its affiliates.”  Rove rips into that assertion by producing abundant evidence, drawn from al Qaeda’s own communications,  that Guantanomo barely registers as a blip on the terror organization’s radar. ” Far more numerous and more extensive in these documents, ” Rove writes, ” are complaints about the existence of Israel, the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Western notions of democracy and freedom, Western culture, and the fact that al Qaeda’s leaders see America as the obstacle to their achieving a restoration of the Golden Age of Islam.”

Obama’s own deadline for closing the facility passed nearly twelve months ago and the matter is obviously weighing on his mind.  The trouble is that neither he, nor anyone else in his administration has come up with an adequate replacement for the facility. No other country wants the inmates and the temptation to try all of them in American civil courts is fraught with the danger of clever lawyers securing hung juries on technicalities.   Beyond that, of course, is the absolute lie that Guantanomo exists as some kind of gulag where prisoners are systematically humiliated and deprived of basic human rights.  Marc A. Thiessen quite adequately dispatched this notion in his impressively well researched book Courting Disaster:  How the CIA Kept America Safe , an argument for the Bush Administration’s  terrorist detention policies which has received no  rebuttal by the liberal press.

As the months pass, it seems clear that the Bush detention policies are being vindicated because there are no adequate alternatives.  Perhaps this realization will also drive home the awareness of the seriousness of the threat the Bush Administration once faced from terror operatives and the continuing seriousness in which any American administration must perceive that challenge.

The Weather

Los Angeles is poised to experience the wettest winter in its history;  Blizzards, some of the worst in living memory, have shut down flights throughout the East Coast of the United States; Heathrow Airport in the U.K., the busiest airport hub in the world, was forced to shut down for three days as passengers curled up on terminal floors awaiting rescheduled flights; in Australia half of the State of Queensland – an area the size of Germany and France combined – is under water, experiencing the wost flooding the country’s history.  Everywhere you look this winter there are record freezing temperatures, incessant rain and tales of tragedy from an inclemency that shows little sign of abating.

Is the weather  itself then answering the question of global warming?   Well, it depends who you ask.   Most climatologists still maintain that there is a global warming trend of about 1 degree celsius over the past 150 years.   But that this is tied to natural activity in the sun and its own cycles and that the earth regularly passes through warming phases which have nothing to do with human activity.  There are others, of course, who declare that the frigid weather around the world is actual evidence of global warming since warmer ocean currents, caused by the melting of the polar ice caps,  force colder air into the atmosphere which leads to condensation and storms.  The National Wildlife Federation has even gone so far to state in a recent report that the world is experiencing milder winters, which is a result, naturally, of global warming

Pat Michaels, a climatologist and senior fellow at the Cato Institute  doesn’t think so.  ” You can make up any analogy you want, but the fact is that computer models don’t show such change , ”   “It is,”  said Michaels,  “the core problem of climatology:  It is attempting to explain everything even when everything becomes contradictory.”  Myron Ebell, director of the Center of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute adds: ” They make this stuff up as they go along,”

What the current global weather patterns place in evidence is the fact that if  the weather is notoriously difficult for computer models  to predict,  then our future climate may be as well.   The hubris of the scientists at the IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and Al Gore and his acolytes aside, it might be time to admit that in fact there is a substantial debate on this issue and that both science and the world’s population in general could substantially benefit from its broader exploration.





The World’s Raging Gushers

May 3, 2010

The new immigration law in Arizona, the Greek bail out plan and the attempt to control the Louisiana oil spill all seem to share at least one thing in common.  They are all desperate measures to plug raging gushers – human, financial and environmental – which threaten to swamp the lives and economies of millions of people in the West.

Lets examine each in turn.

Arizona

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 with the intent of addressing a problem that the Federal government has proved itself singularly incompetent to handle.   For 20 years the Arizona border has been a porous sieve, with tens of thousands of Hispanics finding a way to avoid border patrols and surveillance from federal authorities.  With the tightening of border controls in California and Texas, the illegal  immigration rush has been funneled into the two desert states of Arizona and New Mexico, which have traditionally proven much harder to police.  A Department of Homeland Security high tech fence has not worked out and is now in hiatus pending a review.   Washington D.C., meanwhile, has engaged in a heated debate over the way of dealing with the status of illegal immigrants already in the United States.  But it is doing nothing to address the means of circumventing their entry.

The furor that has greeted Senate Bill 1070 wasn’t hard to predict.  Multi-culturalists, amnesty devotees, civil rights advocates and those generally not so hot on the federal government’s exercise of sovereign rights, have described the legislation as akin to a Nuremberg law.  That idea, of course , is preposterous.   The Nuremberg Laws were Nazi racial edicts passed in 1935 against legitimate German citizens.  SB1070 only targets those who have already broken American law and are not citizens. Nor does it target race or ethnic groups.

The one thing that has so many people exercised is this amendment to the wording of  Sec. 2. Title 11, chapter 7 is:

” A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, WITHOUT A WARRANT, MAY ARREST A PERSON IF THE OFFICER HAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED  ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE THAT MAKES THE PERSON REMOVABLE FROM THE UNITED STATES”

The apparent ability of Arizona’s police force to arrest anyone on a mere suspicion that they are illegal will transform Arizona, into, you guessed it, a police state.   But the law does not breach any of the 4th Amendment prohibitions against illegal searches and seizures. Arizona police are prohibited from racially profiling or stopping anybody merely because of appearance or ethnicity.  They may only  stop someone whom they suspect of either having committed a crime or misdemeanor or of being in the process of doing so.   Lest we forget, being in the United States without proper authorization or identification such as a passport and visa  or a driver’s license, is such a federal misdemeanor.   In reality, SB1070 does nothing to the law but seek to enforce it,  a responsibility the federal government has abrogated.

Greece

The Greek bail out plan announced this week, in which the International Monetary Fund will join with many of the larger European countries in supporting the collapsing Greek economy, was also an attempt to stave off a disaster.    The Greeks have for months teetered on the edge of default on their foreign loans, the prospect of which I explored in the my piece A Greek Tragedy.

The bail out plan rocked markets in Spain and Portugal, threatening to lower their bond ratings.  The drop in investor confidence has rightfully been called a  contagion which  could well spread to many of the smaller and more vulnerable European  economies, such as Italy and Ireland (who, together with Spain, Portugal and Greece, make up the colorful European acronym ” PIIGS”).  The outcome for the Euro’s stability could be devastating as the larger countries are forced to contribute  substantial amounts of their  GDP to shore up  their less robust fellow EU’ers to the south.

Germany plays a pivotal role in all of this and in my previous article, I identified its growing resistance to be being drawn into the vortex of a general European collapse.

But there is an interesting flip side to these developments.  The weakening Euro has made German imports in the United States and Asia cheaper, which is becoming something of a boon to German industry.   One other development, not spoken about too openly these days, is the prospect of a renewed German domination of Europe.  With all the smaller countries of Europe helplessly dependent on German largess, the economic behemoth to the north will exert, by force if necessity, an increasingly controlling influence on monetary policy and financial regulation in those countries.

Although the Germany of 2010 is not the Germany of  1940 and no one is accusing the Germans of a potential political dictatorship, we cannot evade the truth that financial power is often the lever used to exert political power, and the prospects for one country coming to totally dominate that area of the world, cannot be discounted as a fantasy.

Louisiana

You would think poor old Louisiana had had enough trauma to last at least a century.   But then along comes the oil spill of the decade as a burning rig off  Venice, LA, leaves 11 men missing, (presumed dead) and threatens an environmental catastrophe not witnessed since the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989.

The extraordinary irony of this occurrence is that it happened in the wake of the Obama administration’s decision ( see my piece Surprise! Off Shore Drilling May Not  Be Just a Conservative Passion)  to relax the moratorium on off- shore drilling in Virginia and in other select areas.  The decision came as increasing pressure had mounted on the administration to allow the United States to develop its own oil resources instead of being held at the mercy of the oil cartels in the Middle East and Latin America.

All of that will now be put on hold as environmentalists launch a vigorous “you see” campaign to demonstrate how foolish such an idea would be.   They will paint a bleak future in which no beach in the world will offer water pure enough to allow children to swim safely and drinking water would affected by  oil seepage into water tables.

But lets talk a little common sense, please.   The likelihood of a spill of this nature with any regularity, is highly remote.  The causes of the freak explosion on the Transocean rig are unknown and it is simply too early to suggest that the rig demonstrates the inherent  danger of oil rigs or that all rigs will result in absolute  environmental degradation.  The noise emerging from the environmentalists reminds me of the Three Mile Island fiasco in 1979, when our entire nuclear industry was stopped in its tracks without any evidence at all  that the partial  reactor meltdown in Pennsylvania had  had  any permanent affect on humans in the area.

Such intemperate environmentalist scare tactics neutered the nuclear industry and  set us on a course of energy dependence which, as we well know, has had far reaching consequences.

Conclusion

None of these problems are at all simple to resolve.   Gushers are never too amenable to easy fixes and plugs.   But lets not forget that these are human problems, to which humans will, in their ingenious way, apply human solutions.  The jury should therefore not be called and there should be no rush to judgment on SB1070 , the Euro meltdown  or the Louisiana oil spill, until all the evidence is actually in and we can subject it all to reasoned, discriminating analysis.


%d bloggers like this: