Archive for October, 2010

BPA, semen quality study is Chinese junk

October 28, 2010

By Steve Milloy
October 28, 2010, GreenHellBlog.com

A Kaiser Permanente-sponsored study of 514 Chinese workers reports that urinary levels of chemical bisphenol A (BPA) were associated with decreased sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm vitality and sperm motility. The study was published in the journal of Fertility and Sterility. It may as well have been published in the journal of Futility and Stupidity.

First, the statistical associations are quite dubious. None of the reported associations between urinary BPA levels and semen quality are statistically significant. None of the p-values were reported, so it can be presumed that they all exceed the standard significance requirement of P =< 0.05. The confidence intervals (i.e., margins of error) are all quite wide — i.e., 160-200+% greater than the size of the reported association.

Next, the statistical associations were supposedly adjusted for age, education, history of chronic disease, previous history of exposure to other chemicals and metals, employment history, marital status, age at first intercourse, smoking, drinking and study site. But all these “data” were self-reported by the workers and the researchers made no effort to verify or validate any of it. Assuming for the sake of argument, for example, that smoking, drinking, and “exposure to other chemicals and metals” are true confounding factors for semen quality, no information was collected on the levels of such exposures. No doubt there are many other risk factors for reduced semen quality, but they weren’t considered. The researchers claim that study subjects complied with a 7-day sexual abstinence requirement but how certain can they be?

Also, the study population was not randomly selected. Of the 888 workers eligible to participate, only 514 did. Were these 514 the less healthy ones who opted for a free medical exam?

This effort was not designed or conducted so as to study the relationship of BPA exposure to semen quality. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t.

BPA has been used for more than 50 years with no real-world indication that it has ever harmed anyone. That’s why the anti-chemcial activists are forced to stoop to the depths of such junk science.

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).

For more on BPA, check out JunkScience.com’s Debunkosaurus.

Science 101: No scales, balances in science

October 27, 2010

Thanks go out today to Reason.com science correspondent Ron Bailey for inspiring today’s Science 101 lesson. (Disclaimer: Ron is an acquaintance, fellow libertarian and nice guy. That said, he doesn’t always get his science corresponding correct, at least when it comes to climate.)

In Bailey’s recent column, “Will a Republican Congress Knock Science Back Into the Stone Age?” (Reason.com, Oct. 26), he writes:

The balance of the evidence is that the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are increasing the average temperature of the globe.

Brimming with excitement upon reading this, I immediately went to Edmund Scientific’s to see if I could purchase such a scale or balance to weigh evidence. Unfortunately, I learned that I could only purchase equipment to weigh things like solids, liquids, powders and animals. The science equipment supply house had nothing for sale that could weigh evidence. No other purveyor of scientific equipment had any new or magical technology for weighing evidence either.

As it turns out, the notion of weighing evidence isn’t a scientific one at all. While courts of law have finders of fact (i.e., judges and juries) who weigh evidence and regulatory agencies employ a weight-of-evidence concept in risk assessment to help make often-politicized regulatory decisions, science is about determining objective facts and proofs, not about making hasty and subjective judgments. From Copernicus and Galileo to Brahe and Keppler to Newton and Einstein and all the other great scientists in between and since, science has always been about the search for truth about the natural world, not the search for a politically correct or viable consensus about the same.

And the way scientists determine truth is by formulating hypotheses, designing and conducting experiments to test the hypotheses, and then publicly reporting their methodologies and results so that others may verify any claimed results and conclusions. This process is then repeated as necessary to arrive at the point of objective knowledge.

That’s the theory anyway, so what about Bailey’s assertion?

We know objectively that human activity has increased the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, perhaps by as much as 65 percent since the mid 19th century. We’re pretty sure that average global temperature has also increased since that time — but no one can be sure by precisely how much since we do not have a sufficient number of temperature readings from enough places covering a long enough period of time. Moreover, we also know that the available temperature data have either been significantly and artificially increased by the urban heat island effect, and/or have been extensively manipulated by collectors.

We also know that while atmospheric greenhouse gas levels have steadily risen, global temperatures have done everything but. Since 1995, for example, GHG gas levels have increased by around 10 percent, but average global temperatures have gone nowhere, perhaps even slightly down. Between 1940 and 1975, global temperatures markedly declined leading to alarm about a pending global cooling.

The question to be answered then is whether the known human GHG emissions are in any way causally related to the sort-of-observed temperature changes.

One valid way to answer the question might be to make some prediction about global temperature based on manmade greenhouse gas emissions and to see if it comes true. A similar process was used by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington to confirm Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in 1919. Despite the billions and billions of dollars spent worldwide on climate science over the past 20 years, this has yet to be accomplished.

Invalid ways to answer the question include mere observations of changes in Arctic melting, frequency or severity of weather events, ocean pH, coral reefs or polar bear populations. Even if such events were tied to warming global temperatures, it would still need to be proven that human GHG emissions caused the warming in the first place. Also invalid are purported historical temperature reconstructions, like Michael Mann’s infamous hockey stick. Past any fraudulent aspects to them, they offer no information about the potential relationship between greenhouse gas levels and temperature.

It is noteworthy that global warming alarmist groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists have latched onto the weight-of-evidence notion in a national advertising campaign “to educate the public about the overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence for human-caused global warming.” But an illustrative case of how UCS employs weight-of-the evidence is provided by the web site ActivistCash.com:

In 1986 UCS asked 549 of the American Physical Society’s 37,000 members if Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was “a step in the wrong direction for America’s national security policy.” Despite the biased wording of the push-poll question, only 54 percent disapproved of SDI. Even so, UCS declared that the poll proved “profound and pervasive skepticism toward SDI in the scientific community.”

Fortunately for the rest of us, Reagan’s SDI helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union, despite UCS’s dubious scientific consensus.

To date, Copernicus and Galileo are perhaps the most prominent victims of Bailey’s subjective method for determining objective reality. But watch out, the rest of us could be next.

Activists are dangerous, not BPA

October 26, 2010

By Steve Milloy
October 27, 2010 GreenHellBlog

A new study from Sweden reports that “cash receipts could be a major source of exposure to the long-used but newly controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA).”

Study author Tomas Östberg of the Swedish Jegrelius Institute reported in early October that receipts he analyzed contained an average of around 1.4 percent BPA. Östberg then leapt to the conclusion that, “Because there is a risk that this may be a health hazard, the use of thermal paper that contains bisphenol A should be minimized.” News of the study was picked up by European media, including the Stuttgarter Zeitung (Oct. 16), which advised readers in a headline to “Steer clear of receipts.”

Östberg’s study, however, is a long way from constituting evidence that cash receipts present any sort of risk to workers or consumers.

First, as Östberg obliquely admits, it is not at all certain that BPA presents any sort of health risk at all, even if it is present in receipts, albeit to a very small degree. It is important to keep in mind that BPA has been used commercially for more than 50 years, and despite all that use and exposure, there are no published scientific studies or reports of workers or consumers being actually harmed by BPA.

Though BPA has become the subject of much controversy recently, that has mainly been due to unsubstantiated claims of BPA being a so-called “endocrine disrupter” at low doses. None of these claims have been verified, validated or vindicated and only continue to resound because of constant repetition by anti-chemical activist groups and a sympathetic-to-ignorant news media. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority deem BPA to be perfectly safe at existing exposure levels.

Östberg’s study merely exploits the ongoing BPA controversy by reporting the presence of BPA in receipts — as if the existence of controversy makes BPA’s presence in receipts dangerous.

Östberg fails to mention two recent studies that essentially debunk his own. It’s not important that receipts contain BPA so much as how much of the BPA is typically absorbed from handling them.

A June 2010 study published in the journal Annals of Bioanalysis and Chemistry by Swiss food regulators reported that a person repeatedly touching thermal printer paper for 10 hours/day, such as at a cash register, would absorb 42 times less BPA than permitted by current safety regulations, which already have a very significant margin of safety. No workers or consumers would normally be exposed to even such infinitesimal amounts.

A February 2010 study from the University of Zurich’s Centre for Xenobiotic Risk Research reported that, “Dermal absorption (that is, absorption through the skin), is therefore at most a secondary absorption route for bisphenol A. The primary absorption route is still dietary intake. For this route, daily total amounts of bisphenol A around 10,000 times higher are considered harmless for adults.”

What can we conclude from these scientific studies? It is quite clear that the BPA-in-receipts controversy is just another scare contrived by anti-chemical activists.

But why not simply short-circuit the controversy and replace BPA with another chemical as some have tried with so-called “BPA-free” receipts?

Aside from the fact that BPA-free receipts are more expensive, while providing no discernible health or safety benefits, there is the issue of allowing anti-chemical activists to get away with using junk science and fear to smear a perfectly safe technology. Few chemicals have been as heavily scrutinized as BPA, after all, and still there is no direct evidence indicating it poses any risk to health whatsoever.

BPA is a test case for the activists. If they get away with establishing vanishingly small exposures to BPA as a health hazard, they will use the precedent to systematically eliminate other beneficial chemicals from society on an arbitrary basis. In the US, class action lawsuits involving BPA asking for billions of dollars in compensatory damages have already been filed.

Chemicals have helped give western society the highest and healthiest standard of living it has ever enjoyed. We have regulatory systems that ensure these chemicals are used safely. Those proven safeguards should not be abandoned in favor of wild allegations from irresponsible activists whose agenda is not to educate the public, but to cause maximal alarm and fear, to undermine public confidence in the regulatory process — and to make money for themselves.

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).

For more debunking of BPA scares, please visit JunkScience.com’s Debunkosaurus.

RIP: Carbon trading

October 26, 2010

In a little reported move, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is ending carbon trading this year — the very purpose for which it was founded. CCX will remain open for business, however, as it transitions into the murky world of dealing in carbon offsets.

Outside of a report in Crain’s Chicago Business and a soft-pedalled article in the certain-that-climate-control-regulation-is-coming trade publication Carbon Control News, the media has ignored the demise of the only voluntary U.S. effort at carbon trading.

CCX was sold earlier this year for $600 million to the New York Stock Exchange-listed IntercontinentalExchange (Symbol: ICE), an electronic futures and derivatives platform based in Atlanta and London. ICE also acquired the European Climate Exchange as part of the transaction. The ECX remains open to accomodate the Kyoto Protocol-required carbon trading among EU nations. The sale of CCX to ICE allowed climateers like Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Goldman Sachs to cash out of investments in CCX.

At its founding in November 2000, some estimated that the size of CCX’s carbon trading market could reach $500 billion. The CCX was the brainchild of Richard Sandor who used $1.1 million in grants from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation to launch the CCX. Sandor received $98.5 million for his 16.5% stake in CCX when it was sold. Not bad for an idea that didn’t pan out.

Incredibly (but not surprisingly), although thousands of news articles have been published about CCX by the lamestream media over the years, a Nexis search revealed no news articles published about the demise of CCX in the five days since the CCX’s announcement.

With the demise of CCX carbon trading, only the still-pending Waxman-Markey bill is keeping cap-and-trade alive (technically, at least) in the U.S. According to JunkScience.com’s Cap-and-Trade Death Clock, however, Waxman-Markey only has about 68 days of life left before it, too, turns into a pumpkin.

Pop Went the Climate Bubble

October 21, 2010

by Steve Milloy
October 21, 2010, Human Events

The New York Times’ editorial writers have apparently spent the last 11 months in a Rip Van Winkle-like state of unconsciousness when it comes to climate change.

Monday‘s lead editorial, “In Climate Denial Again,” railed about the 19 of 20 or so Republican Senate candidates who do not “accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.” The Times contrasted those deniers with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2007 report, the group’s “most definitive statement on the human contribution to climate change,” and a 2000 promise by George W. Bush to cap carbon dioxide emissions

But nowhere in the editorial did the Times recall Climategate or the other related global warming-related “gates” that the November 2009 scandal touched off—all of which, no doubt, helped make skeptics of 95% of Republican Senate candidates. So here’s a quick recap of what happened over the past year to the legendary scientific “consensus” on global warming.

Last November, a host of private and candid e-mails between climate alarmist-scientists stored at the University of East Anglia (UK) somehow made its way into the public domain and history. Like a shot heard around the world, the e-mails instantaneously validated what the climate skeptics had been saying for more than a decade about the alarmists — that they had cooked the books on global warming science and then conspired to silence and belittle their critics.

Most famously, the e-mails revealed that the alarmist community was aware and, indeed, even proud of the scientific fraud known as the “hockey stick” — a graph purporting to show that global temperatures had been stable over the last millennium and then had spiked upwards during the 20th Century, impliedly due to human activities. All this was expressed in an e-mail that featured the infamous Climategate phrase “Mike’s trick… to hide the decline.”

As it turns out, the reason a “trick” was needed to “hide the decline” was that, in reality, the hockey stick data used to show global temperatures spiking during the 20th Century actually showed a decline in the later part of the 20th Century — the precise opposite phenomena that the alarmists claimed to have occurred. But the inconvenient data was intentionally deleted and replaced with other, more cooperative data.

This fraud is what prompted Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli to launch an investigation into whether Virginia taxpayers were defrauded by hockey stick inventor and former University of Virginia researcher Michael Mann.

Perhaps the real significance of Climategate is that it opened the floodgates of pent-up global skepticism. Climategate was followed in rapid succession by glacier-gate, rainforest-gate, Pachauri-gate and NASA-gate.

Glacier-gate exposed the much-repeated and IPCC-official falsehood that global warming was going to cause the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. This myth was used by Sen. John Kerry to whip up frenzy about Himalayan melting leading to regional water shortages and, ultimately, war between India and Pakistan.

As it turns out though, there never was any scientific study or evidence that the glaciers were going anywhere soon. The IPCC claim about the glaciers was based on a mere 1998 telephone interview with an obscure Indian scientist that was reported in the New Scientist magazine, which by the way, is not anywhere close to a peer-reviewed science journal.

Amazon-gate involved another IPCC claim that global warming was going to destroy 40% of the Amazon rainforest. Once again the sourcing of the factoid was dubious. It came from a report put together by the World Wildlife Fund, a radical green activist group. The report had not been independently peer-reviewed or validated.

Glacier-gate and Amazon-gate opened up the IPCC and its chief Rajendra Pachauri to a great deal of criticism and made Pachauri vulnerable to inquiries about his various conflicts of interest.

Though he positioned himself as the impartial head of the Nobel Peace prize winning IPCC, in reality Pachauri has had ties to many energy companies, including companies that planned on profiting from carbon trading. Reminiscent of another major UN scandal — oil-for-food — Pachauri-gate helps explain how glacier-gate and Amazon-gate happened.

The still ongoing NASA-gate involves the systematic distortion of global temperature readings by the U.S. government. As revealed by a team of skeptics riding the Climategate wave, NASA researchers were exposed as improperly manipulating temperature data to produce claims such as “2005 was the warmest year on record.”

The researchers showed how NASA had been gradually trimming the number of temperature stations (from about 6,000 in the 1970s to about 1,000 now) and then averaging temperature data in such a way as to produce synthetically warmer temperatures. The 2005-warmest-temperature-claim was, in fact, based on a temperature “data base” that had no original temperature data.

A fascinating aspect the past year’s meltdown in climate alarmism is that most of the facts underlying the developments weren’t newly discovered — at least to climate skeptics.

Glacier-gate, for example, was flagged at my web site JunkScience.com in 1998 when the claim was first made. The hockey stick had been publicly exposed and debunked in 2006, including in congressional hearings and by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council. NASA’s skewing of temperature data was also a familiar topic of concern among skeptics.

Climategate was the straw that broke the alarmists’ back. The rapid-fire succession of glacier-gate, Amazon-gate and Pachauri-gate left global warming alarmism reeling. It now seems that the deniers are those who insist that Climategate and its progeny have not smashed the public confidence in the 50-year-old climate alarmism hypothesis.

But there is one lesson in physical science that the New York Times and its fellow alarmists will learn when they wake up from their stupor of denial — it takes a lot less time to pop a bubble that it does to create one.

Mr. Milloy is the founder and publisher of JunkScience.com. His columns and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of “Green Hell,” a new book from Regnery Publishing.

Gangster Government: California officials retaliate against Prop. 23 supporters

October 19, 2010

California Treasure Bill Lockyer is retaliating against two Texas-based refiners that are supporting Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative to rollback the state’s global warming law until unemployment (now at 12.4 percent) recedes to 5.5 percent.

According to Climatewire:

… state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a former attorney general, urged the state’s largest public employee investment funds to divest themselves of Valero and Tesoro stock.

Lockyer sent a letter to the public pension funds, known as CalPERS and CalSTRS, asking them to rid themselves of any stock connected to the refiners Valero and Tesoro. Lockyer charged the companies with attempting to constrain gasoline supplies in California to ensure profits for years to come — and opposing the state’s climate change law as a means to ensure that constraint.

“CalPERS and CalSTRS should not be investing in Texas oil companies that hurt the California economy, no more than they should invest in companies that spend millions of shareholder dollars to undermine California’s environmental laws and the state’s green energy industries and green tech jobs,” Lockyer wrote.

Lockyer, a board member at CalPERS, is expected to ask the board tomorrow to divest Valero and Tesoro holdings during a meeting.”

It was also reported to this blog that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who views the global warming law as his signature accomplishment, kept Chevron out of the Proposition 23 battle by threatening the company with adverse tax measures.

Energy efficiency is not a jobs policy

October 14, 2010

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just released its state energy efficiency scorecard.

Spurred by ACEEE’s ranking of California as the most energy efficient state and the fact that California is only exceeded by Michigan and Nevada in unemployment, we ran a simple regression of ACEEE energy efficiency rankings versus state unemployment rankings according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for August 2010.

Unemployment ranking was positively correlated (slope=.15) with energy efficiency ranking — i.e., states with higher unemployment rankings tended to have higher energy efficiency rankings.

ACEEE claims that energy efficiency creates jobs — and maybe it does. But do the jobs created through energy efficiency efforts wind up destroying other jobs — and more of them?

Energy efficiency is a policy of contraction, not one of growth — and job gains only occur during periods of growth. While energy efficiency may make sense on a case-by-case basis, blindly implemented on a societal scale, it is a suicidal policy.

There is plenty of energy out there. We need to put as much of it to good use as soon as possible to get our economy and standard of living back on the positive track.

Beware of ‘post-partisan’ energy policy

October 13, 2010

Just as tea party activism is about to snatch American energy policy from the jaws of cap-and-trade, some on the right are already moving into “bipartisan” mode. The (often) conservative American Enterprise Institute has teamed up with the (liberal) Brookings Institution and the (self-described, “founded in 2003 to modernize liberal-progressive-green politics”) Breakthrough Institute to offer a “post-partisan” energy policy.

Below is the introduction and summary of recommendations of the group’s report “Post-Partisan Power: How a Limited and Direct Approach to Energy Innovation Can Deliver Clean, Cheap Energy, Economic Productivity and National Prosperity.” Our comments are in bracketed bold.

INTRODUCTION

If ever there were a time to hit the reset button on energy policy, it is today. [Agreed, if this means getting rid of centrally-planned and dictated energy policy and politics. Somehow, though…] Congress is set to adjourn without taking substantive, long-term action on either climate or energy. [Great. The defeat of cap-and-tarde is a victory for America.] While conservatives may be celebrating the death of cap and trade, the truth is that the right’s longstanding hopes for the expansion of nuclear power and oil production have also run aground, foundering on the high cost of constructing new nuclear plants and the impacts of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. [C’mon, if the greens had passed cap-and-trade, there would still not be any nuclear power or new oil/gas drilling. To argue to the contrary is either naive or disingenuous.] As a result, energy policy is at a standstill, despite overwhelming public support for accelerating the move to clean, affordable energy sources and tapping fast-growing clean energy industries to create jobs and wealth in the United States. [American-produced energy already is clean — it’s the Chinese that could use the Clean Air Act.]

Today, few issues in American political life are as polarized as energy policy, with both left and right entrenched in old worldviews that no longer make sense. [Global warming skepticism is based on sound science. If that’s an “old worldview,” then call us dinosaurs.] For the better part of two decades, much of the right has speculated darkly about global warming as a United Nations-inspired conspiracy to destroy American sovereignty, all while passing off chants of “drill, baby, drill” as real energy policy. [Speculated? Did you miss Climategate? Glacier-gate? Pachauri-gate? Al Gore’s admission that climate regulation is about global governance?] During the same period much of the left has oscillated incoherently between exhortations that avoiding the end of the world demands shared sacrifice, and contradictory assertions that today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies can eliminate fossil fuels at no significant cost. [The left isn’ oscillating at all. They are focused on establishing a one-world socialist paradise. Whatever path gets the comrades there, they’ll follow. Global warming has just been their most successful gambit to date.] All the while, America’s dependence on fossil fuels continues unabated and political gridlock deepens, preventing real progress towards a safer, cleaner, more secure energy system. [We have plenty of fossil fuels, and they are cheap and safe. We’d be even more energy independent, if we relied more on our own resources including coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Three cheers for gridlock — it’s better than the Obama alternative.]

The extremes have so dominated mainstream thinking on energy that it is easy to forget how much reasonable liberals and conservatives can actually agree on. [Watch out conservatives, here’s where the post-partisans get us to walk into the chopper blades.] Fossil fuels have undeniably been critical to American prosperity and development, but we can gradually move toward cleaner, healthier, and safer energy sources. [There is no objective or empirical evidence indicating that alternative forms of energy are cleaner, healthier and safer than fossil fuels.] Indeed, throughout history, as we have become a more prosperous nation, we have steadily moved to cleaner energy sources, from wood and dung to coal to oil to natural gas, hydropower, and nuclear energy. [Nonsense. There is no such transition going on. We use more coal than natural gas. The greens have essentially killed off more nuclear development. Hydropower is only used where possible. The greens want to go back to burning wood and weeds (biomass).] Our goal today should be to make new clean energy sources much cheaper so they can steadily displace fossil fuels, continuing this ongoing process. [Fossil fuels are not “dirty” as used in America.] If we structure this transition correctly, new energy industries could be an important driver of long-term economic growth. [How does more expensive energy without any accompanying benefits lead to long-term economic growth?]

Arriving at a new post-partisan consensus will require liberals and conservatives, alike, to take a renewed look at key facts, which challenge some long-standing assumptions about energy. [Translation: Now that conservatives have triumphed over cap-and-trade, it’s time to surrender.]

For liberals this means acknowledging that today’s renewable energy technologies are, by and large, too expensive and difficult to scale to meet the energy needs of the nation, much less a rapidly growing global population. [Does this mean that: (1) liberals should wake up and smell reality; (2) Al Gore and his fellow green profiteers/rentseekers should try to make money the old-fashioned way, i.e., by earning it; and that (3) green Marxist/socialists and other reds should cease and desist?] New mandates, carbon pricing systems such as cap and trade, and today’s mess of subsidies are not going to deliver the kind of clean energy innovation required. And nuclear power, long reviled by many on the left, is far cleaner and safer than most liberals imagine, and holds enormous potential to displace low-cost but high-polluting coal power. [The left doesn’t care about how safe nuclear power is. Nuclear power is energy non grata as far as the left is concerned.]

For conservatives this means acknowledging that fossil fuels have serious health, safety, and security consequences aside from any risks global warming might pose. [Sorry, not buying the junk science. This sentence is footnoted to materials from groups like Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Clean Air Task Force.] The biggest obstacle facing nuclear
power is not environmental policy but rather public opposition, high construction costs, and associated financial risks. [All green activist inspired problems.] And while many faults can be found with ethanol and synfuels investments, the bulk of historic federal investments in energy technology — from hydro and nuclear to solar, wind, and electric vehicles — have been an overwhelming success. [Hydro has worked. Nukes can work. but solar, wind and EVs are taxpayer rip-offs.]

This white paper is the product of a more than yearlong dialogue between scholars at three think tanks situated at divergent points on the political compass. Drawing on America’s bipartisan history of successful federal investment to catalyze technology innovation by the U.S. military, universities, private corporations, and entrepreneurs, the heart of this proposal is a $25 billion per year investment channeled through a reformed energy innovation system. [Because central planning (as the 20th century proved) works so well…]

This new system is built on a four-part energy framework:

1. Invest in Energy Science and Education
2. Overhaul the Energy Innovation System
3. Reform Energy Subsidies and Use Military Procurement and Competitive Deployment to Drive Innovation and Price Declines
4. Internalize the Cost of Energy Modernization and Ensure Investments Do Not Add to the National Debt

To accelerate energy innovation and modernization, we propose a role for government that is both limited and direct. It is limited because it is focused, not on reorganizing our entire highly complex energy economy, but rather on specific strategies to drive down the real cost of clean energy technologies. Instead of subsidizing existing technologies hoping that as they scale up, costs will decline, or providing tax credits to indirectly incentivize research at private firms, this framework is direct because the federal government would directly drive innovation and adoption through basic research, development, and procurement in the same way it did with computers, pharmaceutical drugs, radios, microchips, and many other technologies.

Time and again, when confronted with compelling national innovation priorities, the United States has summoned the resources necessary to secure American technological leadership by investing in breakthrough science and world-class education. The United States responded vigorously to the Soviet launch of Sputnik by investing the resources necessary to ensure American innovators, entrepreneurs, and firms would lead the world in aerospace, IT, and computing technologies, igniting prosperous new industries in the process. [The successes of the Manhattan Project and race to the moon should not swell the heads of would-be central planners. Both were exceedingly limited-in-scope projects. Not easy, but limited.] Today, we invest $30 billion annually in pursuit of new cures to deadly diseases and new biomedical innovations that can extend the lives and welfare of Americans. [Investment? We have accomplished precious little with that annual $30 billion. That expenditure has become more akin to workfare for the overeducated.] We similarly devote more than $80 billion annually to military innovations that can help secure our borders. [Another rousing government success!] We propose a similar national commitment to energy sciences and education, which have languished without the funding deserving of a national innovation priority. [We already spend a fortune on education — more than any other nation. What do we get for it? 25th in worldwide math and science?] At the same, this proposal is based on what we know about successful public-private partnerships to build and strengthen regional hubs of innovation, such as the one that evolved into Silicon Valley. Therefore, we propose investment in a national network of regional clusters of universities, entrepreneurs, private investors, and technology companies. [Apparently, we can’t make progress until we have the proper bureaucracy set up. Taxpayers need to hold on to their wallets any time the term “public private partnership is used.]

While the left wants to cut fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies and the right wants to cut renewable energy subsidies, we propose across-the-board energy subsidy reform, disciplining all incentives for technology deployment and adoption to a new framework that rewards innovation — as measured through real declines in the cost of generating energy — not simply producing more of the same. [Why not get rid of all subsidies and reform the tax code? Make technologies compete on their own economic merits. Technology is its own incentive; if it needs to be subsidized then it has no real value.] Today’s federal investments — whether for solar and wind or ethanol and nuclear — are structured around scale and quantity, not innovation. The innovation system we propose builds on the successes of military procurement to purchase and prove advanced energy systems while providing competitive markets for emerging energy technologies, which can facilitate mass manufacture, demand progressive innovation, and bring down the real, unsubsidized cost of clean and secure energy alternatives. [Military procurement as a model? Which cost-overrun should we point to? What is this fascination with command-and-control style government?]

These productive investments have the potential to raise America’s economic growth over the long term and thus help reduce the budget deficit. America’s $1.3 trillion budget deficit is largely a consequence of low growth and the increasing cost of structural entitlement programs, but it can be overcome by a combination of higher growth, responsible entitlement reform, and targeted spending cuts. Achieving higher growth will require continued federal investments in productive enterprises, including health, information technology, and energy. [Believe it or not, fire, electric current, the automobile, airplane, telegraph, telephone and many other technologies were all developed and commcialized without government involvement. AEI and Brookings have been in Washington, DC too long.] Furthermore, fear of technology failure should not paralyze strategic investments in innovation, since some amount of failure is inevitable and essential to such a disruptive and non-linear process. [We have nothing to fear, but the government itself.]

To ensure that these limited, targeted new investments do not add to the federal deficit, we propose a suite of options that Congress and the President can use to finance energy innovation. [Because the government can/should be picking winners and losers? President Obama was a community organizer, not Thomas Edison, in his past life (and even Edison was wrong when it came to electricity for the masses).] These include cutting existing energy subsidies, charging new royalties for oil drilling, small surcharges on oil imports or electricity sales, and a very low carbon price. While each of these mechanisms may bother some on both the left and right, all should agree that exacerbating the national debt is unwise. Revenues must be found in order to make these productive investments, which have long-term potential to revitalize the economy. [A growing economy will float all boats — including our bloated government. Growing government will do just the opposite.]

Increasing investment in energy technology and innovation, as we advocate, remains exceedingly popular with Americans of all political stripes. Of all energy policy proposals, from carbon pricing and cap and trade to new oil and gas drilling, expanding production and lowering the price of clean, innovative energy technologies is the most popular approach, regularly receiving support from 65 to 90 percent of Americans in independent news polls, Gallup surveys, and other opinion research. [Unicorns for everyone and free cotton candy would also be popular.]This public support is consistent over time, and reflects the historical willingness of publics to pay slightly more for cleaner and safer energy sources. [Let’s poll the public and whether it likes being lied to and ripped off by the government.]

In the pages that follow, we aim to present a practical and bipartisan [Bipartisan = supposed conservatives who want to be invited to tony Washington DC cocktail parties.] approach to American energy policy. The time has come for a fresh start that can bring our nation into the future through a pragmatic drive to make clean energy cheap and abundant. [Fresh start = July 4, 1776]

POST-PARTISAN POWER
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE!BROOKINGS INSTITUTION!BREAKTHROUGH INSTITUTE
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS”

Invest in Energy Science and Education

Secure funding necessary to complete the doubling of Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science budgets. Direct a significant portion of new funds to programs related to energy sciences, including roughly $300 million in annual funding to scale up the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) program over the coming years. [The Department of Energy is a failure and should be abolished.]

Invest roughly $500 million annually to support K-12 curriculum and teacher training, energy education scholarships, post-doctoral fellowships, and graduate research grants. [We need to get the federal government out of education. Has anyone noticed that kids have gotten stupider as the government gets more involved?] Just as the United States rose to the Cold War challenge by enacting the National Defense Education Act and leveling critical investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, a new national commitment is needed today to train, educate, and inspire a generation of energy innovators, engineers, and entrepreneurs. [Cold War defense challenges were solved by men and women who were educated in the days before taxpayer largesse flowed freely to a corrupted university system.]

Overhaul the Energy Innovation System

Help reform the U.S. energy innovation system by investing up to $5 billion annually to establish a robust national network of regional energy innovation institutes bringing together private sector, university, and government researchers alongside investors and private sector customers. Funded at $50-300 million annually, each institute will foster competitive centers of clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship while accelerating the translation of research insights into commercial products. [Because in Washington DC: Bureaucracy=Success]

Bring the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to scale by providing $1.5 billion annually, while dedicating a significant portion of new funding to dual-use energy technology innovations with the potential to enhance energy security and strengthen the U.S. military. The Department of Defense (DOD) should work actively with ARPA-E to determine and select dual-use breakthrough energy innovations for funding through the ARPA-E program and potential adoption and procurement by the DOD. [Hopefully, DOD’s success with pioneering the Internet will translate into a perpetual motion machine.]

Reform Energy Subsidies and Use Military Procurement and Competitive Deployment Incentives to Drive Price Declines

Reform the nation’s morass of energy subsidies. Instead of open-ended subsidies that reward firms for producing more of the same product, employ a new strategy of competitive deployment incentives, disciplined by cost reductions and optimized to drive steady improvements in the price and performance of a suite of emerging energy technologies. Create incentives for various classes of energy technologies to ensure that each has a chance to mature. Decrease incentive levels until emerging technologies become competitive with mature, entrenched competitors to avoid creating permanently subsidized industries or picking winners and losers, a priori. Meet the new morass; same as the old morass.]

Expand DOD efforts to procure, demonstrate, test, validate, and improve a suite of cutting-edge energy technologies. New, innovative energy alternatives are necessary to secure the national defense, enhance energy security, and improve the operational capabilities of the U.S. military. Provide up to $5 billion annually in new appropriations to ensure the Pentagon has the resources to pursue this critical effort without infringing on funds required for current military operations. [We should just surrender to the Chinese now. In return, maybe they’ll let us keep using knives and forks.]

Recognize the potential for nuclear power — particularly innovative, smaller reactor designs — to enhance American energy security, reduce pollution, and supply affordable power. [We can “recognize” anything we want, but as long as the greens have the ability to choke of nuclear power through regulation and litigation, they will.] America cannot afford to bank on one technology alone, however, and must pursue all paths to clean, affordable energy, supporting all innovative, emerging clean energy sources, from advanced wind, geothermal, and solar to electric vehicles and advanced batteries, allowing winners to emerge over time. [At what point does the taxpayer get to pull the plug on failed technologies?]

Internalize the Cost of Energy Modernization and Ensure Investments Do Not Add to the Deficit

Secure revenues to ensure these productive new investments do not exacerbate the national debt, through one or a combination of the following means: phase out unproductive energy subsidies, which have not sufficiently driven innovation; direct revenues from oil and gas leasing to energy innovation; implement a small fee on imported oil to drive energy innovation and enhance American energy security; establish a small surcharge on electricity sales to fund energy modernization, similar to the Highway Trust Fund; and/or dedicate revenues from a very small carbon price to finance necessary investments in clean energy technology. [Translation: Make consumers pay more for energy.]

So there you have it —  “post-partisan energy policy.” It’ll build on what’s failed and then charge people more for it.

Sorry, but we’re for gridlock until the American left packs up and moves to Totalitarian Fantasy Island.

Michael Mann: Vote Democratic and save me from jail!

October 11, 2010

Poor, poor pitiful Michael Mann. Check out his op-ed in last Friday’s Washington Post — our comments in bracketed bold.

Get the anti-science bent out of politics
By Michael E. Mann
Friday, October 8, 2010; A17

As a scientist [Wanna poll that assertion?], I shouldn’t have a stake in the upcoming midterm elections, but unfortunately, it seems that I — and indeed all my fellow climate scientists — do. [Republicans = Inquisition, don’t ya know…]

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has threatened that, if he becomes chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he will launch what would be a hostile investigation of climate science. The focus would be on e-mails stolen [There’s no evidence that the e-mails were “stolen.”] from scientists at the University of East Anglia in Britain last fall that climate-change deniers have falsely claimed demonstrate wrongdoing by scientists, including me. [As between so-called climate-change deniers” and Michael Mann, “falsely” and “wrongdoing” only apply to Mann.] Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) may do the same if he takes over a committee on climate change and energy security.

My employer, Penn State University, exonerated me [False: PSU never really investigated Mann; it more or less just took his word that he had done nothing wrong. Since there was no genuine investigation, he could not have been genuinely “exonerated.”] after a thorough investigation [LOL!] of my e-mails in the East Anglia archive. Five independent investigations in Britain and the United States, and a thorough recent review by the Environmental Protection Agency, also have cleared the scientists of accusations of impropriety. [All were as whitewashey as PSU’s. “Independent” is probably not the right adjective to describe the investigations; “staged” is much more accurate.]

Nonetheless, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is investigating my previous employer, the University of Virginia, based on the stolen e-mails. [Even if the e-mails were stolen, how exactly does that exonerate Mann? BTW, Daniel Ellsberg stole files (Pentagon Papers) and he was/is a hero of the Left.] A judge rejected his initial subpoena, finding that Cuccinelli had failed to provide objective evidence of wrongdoing. [The judge said that Cuccinelli was within his rights to file such subpoenas and that he needed to be more specific as to what he was looking for.] Undeterred, Cuccinelli appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court and this week issued a new civil subpoena.

What could Issa, Sensenbrenner and Cuccinelli possibly think they might uncover now, a year after the e-mails were published? [Evidence of f-r-a-u-d.]

The truth is that they don’t expect to uncover anything. Instead, they want to continue a 20-year assault on climate research, questioning basic science and promoting doubt where there is none. [No, they are just questioning whether the hockey stick was a fraud and whether a fraud was perpetrated on taxpayers.]

Cuccinelli, in fact, rests his case largely on discredited claims that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) made during hearings in 2005 at which he attacked me and my fellow researchers. [Discredited? By who? When? Where? Any names? Details?] Then-Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) had the courage and character to challenge Barton’s attacks. We need more political leaders like him today. [Boehlert = RINO]

We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer [Tobacco company hijinks = Michael Mann innocence?], and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. [What false claims is he referring to? Does he know anything about either? Or is this just more guilt by Mann-uendo?] The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change. [No one questions “the reality of climate change”; it’s the causes and drivers that are being debated.]

The basic physics and chemistry of how carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere have been understood for nearly two centuries. Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.[These last three sentences are disputed by skeptics.]

Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. [Humans have always been at the mercy of nature. Fossil fuels have greatly lessened our vulnerability.] The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades. [Really? No more bad weather if we reduce CO2 levels?] But even if we don’t reduce emissions, the reality of adapting to climate change will require responses from government at all levels. [There is no evidence that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have any discernible effect at all on the climate.]

Challenges to policy proposals for how to deal with this problem should be welcome — indeed, a good-faith debate is essential for wise public policymaking. [Quite a statement from someone who tried to silence critics.]

But the attacks against the science must stop. [No one is attacking science. We’re attacking junk science.] They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science. [Mann accuses his opponents of what he is doing — an old trick of narcissists and Communists.]

How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing? [Easy… tell them not to engage in junk science or fraud.]

America has led the world in science for decades. It has benefited our culture, our economy and our understanding of the world. [No thanks to Michael Mann and his kind.]

My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science. And their failure to accept the reality of climate change will hurt our children and grandchildren, too. [If Michael Mann wants to “stand up” to something, why doesn’t he stand up for a debate against a skeptical climate scientist? I think we all know the asnwer to that one.]

Michael E. Mann, the author of “Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming,” is a professor in the meteorology department at Penn State University and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. [PSU’s continued employment of Mann gives a whole new meaning to Nittany lion.]

We urge people to move to Virginia just so they can vote for Ken Cuccinelli in future elections.

WV Guv takes ‘dead aim at cap and trade’

October 11, 2010

Democrats haven’t done much to earn anyone’s trust lately, but here’s West Virginia Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Manchin trying to make amends in a TV ad where Manchin literally shoots a cap-and-trade bill. Manchin gets an A+ for this effort.

C’mon John Raese… let’s see you top Manchin’s ad!

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