Archive for July, 2010

Best Buy, Worst Thinking

July 30, 2010

By Steve Milloy
July 30, 2010, Worthington Daily Globe (Minnesota)

When it comes to energy policy, no one can accuse Best Buy’s management of best thinking.

As Sen. Harry Reid scrambles to pull together some sort of energy bill before time runs out in this Congress, the cap-and-trade advocacy group Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) is lobbying Reid to include in the bill an “energy efficiency resource standard” (EERS) that would reduce electricity use by one percent in 2012 and more by 2020.

Although EERS is a dubious proposition for all BICEP’s members — including the Aspen Skiing Company, eBay, Levi Strauss, Nike and Target — Best Buy’s support makes one wonder what’s in the air at corporate headquarters.

As a retailer of electronics and appliances, every Best Buy product depends on the use of electricity. While electronics and appliances are continually becoming more energy efficient, that doesn’t mean they (or those who use them) use less electricity.

When television sets were upgraded from old tube technology to larger LCD and plasma models, for example, TV energy use increased by anywhere from 100 to 500 percent. Even if newer LCD and plasma models meet government Energy Star standards of using 30 percent less energy than standard units, they still will use substantially more electricity than the older technology.

Similarly, a new refrigerator may be more efficient than an older model, but if it’s larger and has more bells and whistles, then it’s more probably using more energy. Moreover, the American lifestyle is becoming more, not less, dependent on electricity. Past the proliferation and increased use of all sorts of devices from cell phones to personal computers to electronic games, Americans are now turning to electronic book readers like the Kindle and iPad.

Add into the mix the push for electric vehicles, and the notion that there’ll be less need for electricity becomes even more absurd. The only way to use less electricity is to buy and use fewer and smaller gadgets, appliances and other consumer goods. It’s hard to see how these trends will bring any benefits to Best Buy’s bottom line.

Additionally, the question must be asked: Why should Americans want to use less electricity? What would be the economic impact of reduced electricity use?

As the National Academy of Sciences pointed out in its landmark report, “Electricity in Economic Growth (1986), “Electricity use and gross national product have been, and will probably continue to be, strongly correlated.” This truth of this relationship continues to exist — the economy is struggling and electricity use is down. More generally, there probably never has been a time in human history when social and economic advancement has occurred without increased use of energy.

In other words — and for the benefit of Best Buy’s management — if the goal is to have consumers that can continually afford to indulge in the latest electronic gadgetry, two things must happen — increased economic growth and available and affordable electricity.

Best Buy and the BICEP coalition, however, seem to be in favor of neither scenario — not so surprising given BICEP’s provenance. BICEP is the brainchild of Ceres, a environmental activist organization dedicated to co-opting business to the political left’s fight against capitalism and free enterprise. BICEP’s mission is to provide Congress and the public with the impression that U.S. business is demanding cap-and-trade and its corollary, renewable energy welfare programs.

For a company like Best Buy, BICEP is the old morally superior public relations ploy. Unlike, in their estimation, those they preach to, the BICEP companies care about the planet. In the end, BICEP’s precepts are simply bone-headed. Poor people can’t afford plasmas or (pay attention NIKE) $140 LeBron VIIs.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

Daily Kos Editor Says Skeptics Should Commit Suicide

July 28, 2010

A Daily Kos contributing editor has suggested that “Steve Milloy and his buddies” commit suicide or be euthanized apparently for the crime of opposing global warming alarmism.

Amid a rant on his Examiner.com blog about skeptics “carpet-bomb[ing] newspaper editorial pages with climate change disinformation…], Steven Alexander, who writes for Daily Kos under the nom-de-plume “Darksyde,” wrote that,

… if only Milloy and his buddies could check into one of the [Soylent Corporation's] lovely medical suites for a short nature movie and a glass of wine…

The reference is to the assisted suicide scene in the 1973 movie Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston.

The Clarity Digital Group, which owns Examiner.com, removed the offensive posting immediately upon notification.

Former Washington Post reporter David Weigel was recently fired from the paper for privately writing on the Journolist listserv that Matt Drudge should “… set himself on fire.”

Now Alexander has publicly wished a similar fate for climate skeptics.

If you wonder why the skeptics fight so vigorously against the greenshirts, the sort of intolerance exhibited by Alexander over a mere difference in opinion is one reason. God help us all, if they prevail.

Penn State’s Integrity Crisis

July 14, 2010

by Steve Milloy
July 14, 2010, The Daily Caller

Penn State University just exonerated Professor Michael Mann for wrongdoing related to Climategate. While that good news for Mann is no surprise, it came at a dear cost to Penn State – its integrity.

Soon after Climategate broke last November, Penn State convened an internal committee to investigate Mann, the primary author of the now-infamous and discredited “hockey stick” global warming graph.

Hopes for a bona fide investigation were dashed when the preliminary results were released in February. To the joy of climate alarmists, Penn State announced via press release that Mann was cleared of three of the four allegations against him (regarding falsification/suppression of data, deletion of e-mails/data and misuse of confidential information). But if one looks past the release and reads the committee’s report, it becomes obvious the fix was in.

The preliminary review included the Climategate e-mails themselves, an interview with Mann, and documents submitted by Mann. While one committee member did informally endeavor to get external views on Mann, they only came from Texas A&M’s Gerald North and Stanford University’s Donald Kennedy.

North had earlier dismissed Climategate in a Washington Post interview only a few days after the scandal broke. He also assisted with a futile 2006 effort to rehabilitate Mann’s debunked hockey stick. As editor of Science magazine, Kennedy was an outspoken advocate of climate alarmism.

The committee went to great lengths to defuse the money line from the Climategate e-mails – i.e., “Mike’s Nature trick… to hide the decline.” While explaining how “trick” could merely refer to a “clever device,” the committee failed to even mention “hide the decline,” a phrase referring to Mann’s still-unexplained deletion of temperature data contradicting the climate alarmism hypothesis.

Based on Mann’s denial, the preliminary report concluded that there was no evidence to indicate that Mann intended to delete e-mails – even though that conclusion is contradicted by the plain language and circumstances of the relevant e-mail exchange. No inquiry beyond Mann’s denial was made.

Finally, the preliminary report dismissed the accusation that Mann conspired to silence skeptics by stating, “one finds enormous confusion has been caused by interpretations of the e-mails and their content” – but shouldn’t the committee have attempted to eliminate that confusion?

It’s unclear why the committee didn’t immediately exonerate Mann of the fourth allegation — seriously deviating from accepted practices within the academic community — except that by leaving it open, the committee apparently hoped to rebuild “public trust in science in general and climate science specifically.”

Four months later, the committee’s investigation charade has concluded. Most shocking, however, is that Penn State remains openly unabashed by the investigation’s shoddiness.

As before, a media release clearing Mann of “any wrongdoing” is making alarmists giddy. But once again, the investigation’s disturbing reality is revealed in the report.

The committee again excluded from consideration any document or point of view that might incriminate Mann’s conduct.

Other than the Climategate e-mails, the committee only examined:

(1) undescribed “documents collected by the [committee];” (2) “documents provided by Dr. Mann…”; (3) the committee’s preliminary report; (4) a May British House of Commons whitewash of Climategate; (5) a recent letter published in Science magazine deploring climate skepticism from 255 climate alarmists; (6) a document about the National Science Foundation peer review process; (7) the Department of Energy Guide to Financial Assistance; (8) information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s peer review process; (9) information regarding the percentage of NSF proposals funded; and (10) Mann’s curriculum vitae.

The committee apparently made no effort to obtain, much less consider, the volumes of available news reports, analyses (including from Congress) and commentary about Mann, the hockey stick and/or Climategate.

More than see no evil, the committee maintained its policy of hear no evil. Of the five additional interviews conducted, four were of Mann’s fellow alarmists. The lone climate skeptic interviewed was MIT professor Richard Lindzen. But the report makes clear that the committee conducted Lindzen’s interview in the finest traditions of a kangaroo court.

Here’s how the report describes the interview:

… When told that the first three allegations against Dr. Mann were dismissed at the inquiry stage… Dr. Lindzen’s response was: ‘It’s thoroughly amazing. I mean these issues that he explicitly stated in the e-mails. I’m wondering what’s going on?’ The Investigatory Committee members did not respond to Dr. Lindzen’s statement. Instead, Dr. Lindzen’s attention was directed to the fourth allegation, and it was explained to him that this is the allegation which the Investigatory Committee is charged to address…

Amazed that the committee would treat a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and an IPCC lead author with such disrespect and disregard, I contacted Dr. Lindzen. He told me, “They also basically ignored what I said. I suppose they interviewed me in order to say that they had interviewed someone who was skeptical of warming alarm.”

The committee asked Mann about e-mails that mention Dr. Stephen McIntyre, one of the scientists credited with debunking Mann’s hockey stick. While Mann told the committee that there was “no merit whatsoever to Mr. [sic] McIntyre’s claims here…,” the committee didn’t interview McIntyre.

The committee also pointed to several awards given to Mann for his research including Scientific American’s naming Mann as one of the “50 leading visionaries in science and technology” and its selection of a web site co-founded by Mann as one of the top 25 “science and technology” web sites in 2005. The committee then wrote, “had Dr. Mann’s conduct of his research been outside the respected practices, it would have been impossible for him to receive so many awards and recognitions…”

The Committee also credited Mann with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore. “This would have been impossible had his activities in reporting his work been outside accepted practices in his field,” the committee observed. MIT’s Lindzen was also a co-Nobelist, but apparently the award didn’t help his credibility.

Global warming and Mann have been worth millions of grant dollars and lots of publicity for Penn State. But one would think the institution’s integrity is worth more.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).

Mann blames heat wave on manmade warming

July 8, 2010

In this LOL-interview with CleanSkiesTV, hockey stick inventor Michael Mann blames the current East Coast heat wave on manmade warming!

The interview is 10+ minutes. Blaming the heat wave on manamde warming occurs at about 6:45 into the interview.

Cap-and-trade goes lame duck?

July 8, 2010

We’re in a Lame-Duck Political Climate
By Steve Milloy
July 8, 2010, RollCall.com

Who would have guessed that 18 months into the Obama administration and a nearly filibuster-proof, Democratic-controlled Congress that cap-and-trade would still be just a green dream? Not many. But then not many people would probably think there’s enough time or political will to make cap-and-trade happen in the time remaining for this session of Congress. That’s wrong, too.

Since its high-water mark of House passage of the Waxman-Markey bill late in June 2009, it’s been all downhill for cap-and-trade. The health care debate delayed a Senate bill, and the tea party movement made cap-and-trade one of its top targets. By the time the Kerry-Boxer bill was introduced last October, the Republican Members of Chairman Barbara Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee felt secure enough to boycott the committee vote on the bill, rendering the unanimous Democratic committee vote meaningless.

The continuing inquisition of the health care bill helped bring about the election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts and the evaporation of the Democrats’ 60-vote, filibuster-proof margin. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dared work with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) on a cap-and-trade bill, the political blowback for Graham was so strong that he looked for the first excuse out, which came in the form of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s supposed prioritization of the immigration bill over cap-and-trade. The Kerry-Lieberman bill has now been relegated to perhaps being offered as a mere amendment to a Senate energy bill, the main focus of which may be the BP oil spill.

Competing with the Kerry-Lieberman bill are the so-called cap-and-dividend bill by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and the bill by Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) that attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through any means but cap-and-trade. Recent discussions about a cap-and-trade bill include limiting it to electric utilities rather than being economywide.

Even President Barack Obama seems lost when it comes to cap-and-trade. Although he emphasized the need to transform to a “clean energy” economy during his recent Oval Office speech on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he was painfully short on details of how to get there, garnering him criticism from prominent carbon cap proponents. Cap-and-trade is so out of favor that its supporters are trying to rebrand it as anything else — including clean energy, “green energy” and “a price on carbon.”

Regardless of branding, expecting the Senate to take a tough vote on cap-and-trade and expecting House Democrats to double down on their Waxman-Markey vote before the November midterms is wishful thinking by any political calculus.

The foregoing aside, cap-and-trade is more of a threat now than ever, thanks to the November-December lame-duck session of Congress.

First, it’s useful to keep in mind the two main lessons from the health care debate — public opinion is not determinative in whether a bill passes Congress, and the Democratic leadership in Congress is willing to bend its rules any which way to pass leadership priorities.

Next, this Congress could be the last chance for cap-and-trade, whatever it’s called in the end. At the very least, Republicans are likely to make significant gains in the House and Senate. Cap-and-trade supporters would have to start all over in the next session of Congress, and the Waxman-Markey bill that squeaked by last June will not likely do so again.

That means cap-and-trade advocates are desperate and could resort to desperate procedural moves in a Congress where lame ducks have nothing to lose and, possibly, everything to gain by voting for their future employers, whether they be the Obama administration, cushy nongovernmental organizations jobs, lobbying firms or industry beneficiaries of cap-and-trade.

But won’t cap-and-trade need 60 Senate votes to pass while Reid can only produce 59 at most? Yes and no.

While Senate Republicans have held together on climate so far — consider their unanimous vote against Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Collins and several others are on record as supporting some action on climate. While some Senate Democrats have opposed cap-and-trade so far, including Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), there’s a lot of money sloshing around cap-and-trade that could easily become the next Cornhusker Kickback or Louisiana Purchase.

But who says Reid needs 60 votes in the first place? Sixty votes weren’t needed for health care. Who is to say that Reid can’t decide that cap-and-trade somehow fits under Senate budget reconciliation rules or some other procedural twist of Senate rules where only a bare majority wins. Senate rules, after all, are not enforceable in a court of law. Such a rule change would be the ultimate nuclear option, but desperate cap-and-traders may do desperate things.

So what can be done to stop a kamikaze cap-and-trade attack in the lame-duck Congress?

Republican Senate and House candidates need to make the lame-duck possibility a campaign issue. They should pressure incumbent Democratic Senate candidates to pledge they will not take action on cap-and-trade in a lame-duck session. House Democratic candidates should be pressured to express a similar sentiment in hopes that Senate Democrats who are up for election in 2012 will get the message that a lame-duck vote for cap-and-trade will be held against them next time.

There may be a reason that President Obama was silent on how he planned to press for cap-and-trade during his Oval Office address — he didn’t want to let the lame duck out of the bag.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”

Should Steve Jobs make Al Gore take a leave of absence?

July 3, 2010

Now that the Portland, OR police department has re-opened its sex attack investigation against Al “You-big-lummox-of-a-sex-poodle” Gore, should Apple Chariman Steve Jobs make Al Gore take a leave of absence from the company pending resolution of the investigation?

Apple’s sexual harassment policy defines harassment as…

<blockquote… unwelcome or unsolicited speech or conduct based on factors such as race, color, age, sex, or sexual orientation. It may include activities such as viewing sexually explicit sites or displaying an inappropriate calendar. It may include unwelcome touching or advances, jokes, slurs, and other offensive behavior. [Emphasis added]

While the policy also says that it only applies to,

… interactions with employees, customers, suppliers, and applicants for employment and any other interactions where you represent Apple…

… surely the policy doesn’t mean that it’s open season for board members when it comes to the rest of the public. Or does it?

If Gore is cleared, he can always be reinstated.

Egregious Polluting Agency

July 2, 2010

By Steve Milloy
July 3, 2010, Washington Times

Ronald Reagan’s 10 most dangerous words were, “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” The Gulf oil spill is only the latest validation of that sentiment when it comes to environmental protection.

Just last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the government computer models built to plan for Gulf oil spills and relied on by drillers, including BP, erroneously assumed that much of the oil would evaporate rapidly or be dispersed by waves and weather. While evaporation, physical breakup and degradation will be how most of the oil disperses eventually, these overly optimistic models perhaps explain why the feds were unprepared to implement the Clinton-era policy of having adequate oil-containment booms and skimmers easily available to protect the coast.

But faulty modeling was only the first government screw-up. The Jones Act has prevented foreign companies from bringing in skimmers to help clean up the oil and the Coast Guard has kept 80 percent of the U.S. skimmer fleet out of the Gulf in the unlikely event of a simultaneous spill elsewhere.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked skimmer systems offered by the Dutch because water discharged back into the Gulf after processing wouldn’t be sufficiently oil-free. It doesn’t matter that the water put back into the ocean would have been much cleaner than what was taken out of the ocean. EPA regulations nonsensically only allow pure water to be discharged back into the ocean, even in the process of cleaning up an oil spill.

Early on, the EPA tried to block BP from using the only effective oil dispersant available because of purported toxicity concerns, ignoring the reality that nothing survives in an oil slick in the first place. The Hoover Institution’s Henry Miller recently observed that EPA’s long-standing anti-biotechnology leanings have delayed the development and commercialization of genetically modified microorganisms that could feed on spilled oil.

Then there’s the Army Corps of Engineers’ delay of the construction of oil-blocking sand berms pending completion of an entirely bureaucratic environmental impact statement.

If there’s any time in history when the feds have well earned the epithet “gooberment,” that time is now. That said, federal ineptitude is nothing new when it comes to environmental protection.

The EPA’s dogged determination to force unrealistic cleanup levels on toxic waste sites under the infamous Superfund program delayed the removal of pollution for 15 years. The agency’s junk-science-based stubbornness ensured that far more money was spent on litigation and lobbyists than cleanup. But the EPA has wasted more than just time and money with Superfund – it has ruined lives and polluted the environment.

In 1982, the EPA infamously purchased and evacuated the town of Times Beach, Miss., amid the era’s unwarranted hysteria over dioxin. More than 2,000 people were involuntarily displaced from their homes, and the community was permanently bulldozed at a total cost of about $150 million.

The EPA is overseeing the “cleanup” of PCBs in Hudson River sediments – contaminants that had been safely entombed there for more than 30 years. As predicted by many, the cleanup stirred up PCBs last summer, causing water contamination at unsafe levels.

As a result of the EPA’s campaign to scare the public about the safety of chlorinated drinking water, Peruvian officials once discontinued the use of chlorine, exacerbating a deadly 1991 cholera epidemic. Closer to home, the same scare campaign led to increased levels of lead in Washington, D.C., drinking water when local officials substituted a more corrosive ammonia-based disinfectant for chlorine. Then there’s EPA’s infamous 1972 ban of the pesticide DDT, a decision that has had effects of genocidal proportions on sub-Saharan Africa.

Perhaps the next Congress will consider reforming an agency from which the environment and human health may actually need protection.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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