Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

18 May 2018

"Evil" GE foods and "eco-friendly" organics by Paul Driessen and Vijay Jayaraj


Misrepresentations by radical greens promote myths of GE dangers and organic benefits

Across the globe, genetically engineered (GE) crops face opposition from environmental and organic food activists, who claim the crops harm the environment and endanger human health.
How factual are their claims? The evidence strongly supports GE over organic crops.
Not long ago, Vijay visited the Sprouts organic food store in San Jose, California. To his surprise, organic vegetables that had shorter shelf-life and higher risk of bacterial contamination and thus serious illness were priced two to ten times more than their GE and conventional food alternatives. The store is famous among millennial techies in the Silicon Valley and enjoys reasonable sales. One possible explanation would be the false notion that GE foods are risky or injurious to health; another is that buyers incorrectly believe organic produce have fewer pesticides, are more nutritious or better protect the environment.
But in science, neither a belief nor even a general “consensus” determines truth. A thousand people could claim the theory of gravity is wrong, but one simple scientific proof would prove their consensus false. Similarly, the safety of genetically modified foods cannot be determined by the increasingly vitriolic voices of anti-GE groups. It requires robust scientific testing by actual experts in various fields.
All the major GE foods currently on the market have been exhaustively tested and found to be safe for people, animals and the environment. Moreover, to date, Americans alone have consumed more than four trillion servings of foods with at least one GE ingredient – without a single documented example of harm to a person or the environment.
That is why more than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have said GE foods are safe for human and animal consumption. That’s not an uninformed assertion or “consensus.” It is a professional, scientific conclusion based on thousands of risk assessment studies over several decades, as well as numerous real-world experiences.
Anti-GE activists typically use the term “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, a pejorative coined simply to disparage the use of the most modern techniques. In fact, genetic engineering with molecular techniques is merely a more modern, rapid and precise way than traditional crop breeding methods to change or improve the genetic makeup of plants. It also enables scientists to enhance crops by introducing helpful properties like resistance to droughts, standing water or insects from one organism to another.
For example, corn varieties that integrate the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) gene right into plant tissue greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for spraying or dusting the crops with pesticides. Golden Rice incorporates two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes (Vitamin A precursors), one from daffodils, one from a soil bacterium, so that even malnourished people get sufficient Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.  
Organic farming prohibits modern manmade pesticides. But some are used surreptitiously anyway – and many organic farmers employ “natural” but still toxic pesticides like copper sulfate and neem oil. Though they oppose Bt-engineered crops, many spray live Bt bacteria on crops, killing good and harmful insects.
Studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that “organic” fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives.
However, certain organic practices, such as fertilizing with manure, have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins or listeria, salmonella or E. Coli bacteria. These problems are far more common in organic produce and can lead to serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, brain damage or even death.
It can fairly be said that the anti-GE war has reached levels that are ignorant, deceptive, and even fraudulent and lethal. Activist claims about the dangers of GE foods are baseless and without bona fide evidence. They ignore the many benefits of GE crops. Moreover, many of the groups and campaigns are funded, directly or indirectly, by the organic and natural food industries and allied foundations.
GE crops are environment friendly and promote sustainable agriculture, while potentially meeting the daily food demand of seven billion people globally. They allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods, insects and climate change, than is possible with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. They enable farmers to grow Golden Rice and other crops that prevent malnutrition, blindness and death in children.
By contrast, organic crops require more land, more water, more labor and higher farming expenses to generate the same produce. Expanding organic farms will thus cause additional loss of wildlife habitats in a time when we are trying to nurture and protect what is left of Earth’s natural habitats.
Tuskegee University professor, dean and biotech expert C.S. Prakash points out that the percentage of land used to grow crops has increased dramatically during the past 200 years, as humanity worked to provide nutritious foods for rapidly growing populations. The ideal solution to avoid deforestation, he says, is to use GE crops, which produce much more food per acre than their non-GE counterparts.
An ardent proponent of GE in the fight against poverty and disease, Dr. Prakash worries that the anti-GE campaigns will impede our efforts to provide sufficient, affordable food in many developing countries. Moreover, non-GE crops are susceptible to many insects and diseases that GE crops are resistant to.
Much of the most important work to improve food crops genetically was done by Norman Borlaug, using pre-molecular techniques. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for developing crop variants that helped billions avoid certain death during the food crises of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, much of the wheat, maize (corn) and rice now consumed globally are Borlaug’s crops, which are disease resistant and high yielding.
GE crops are also more climate adaptive. New variants of rice and wheat are being designed to withstand extreme climatic and geographical conditions. One important example is wheat variants that withstand a whopping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which was practically unimaginable just a decade ago. This can make wheat cultivation far more productive in the 40% of world’s dryland surface where conditions are hostile to normal wheat varieties. 
Health Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved Golden Rice and High Fibre Wheat, respectively, thereby continuing to embrace GE crops, as they have done for years. This pro-GE stance has been echoed by international governing institutions such as the United Nations and governments of major technologically innovative countries like Israel, China and India.
Although the number of organic farms is increasing in India, its food markets are largely dominated by crops that cannot be considered organic. Organic madness has nevertheless invaded parts of India. The Indian state of Sikkim recently branded itself “organic” by banning the entry and sale of more than 25 non-organic horticultural and agricultural products. That decision has caused widespread chaos, leaving families unable to afford cereals, fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be their staple foods.
It is time to progress from unfounded fears about GE foods – and begin educating government leaders and regulators, as well as domestic and global journalists, about the safety and benefits of GE crops.
Let us begin by asking: What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do environmentalists and organic food producers and advocates have that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or more eco-friendly than conventional or genetically modified varieties? What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do they have that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in any way?
Neither we nor Dr. Prakash nor any other agricultural experts we have spoken with can find any such evidence. If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.
The billion dollars spent by radical environmentalists and the organic foods industry on campaigns against GE plants would have been far better spent on approving more GE crops, upgrading agricultural practices, providing more nutritious, affordable food, and improving lives all over the world.
The lies, demagoguery and destructive tactics of anti-GE groups are poisonous to the century-long effort to eradicate food poverty across the globe. These inhumane, lethal tactics can no longer be tolerated.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental science and policy. Vijay Jayaraj (MSc in Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Coimbatore, India.


My Comments:

I have posted this article because of the importance of the topic for avoiding diseases and hunger, especially among the many people of the world with moderate and low incomes who are most of the world's 7.6 billion people.  There is one aspect of the article that I adamantly oppose.  Let me quote the statement that I oppose:
If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.
However wrong the anti-GE and pro-organic proponents may be, they have the right to be wrong.  If there is no right to be wrong, then there is no right to freedom of speech and in this case, no right to the ownership of their own bodies.  The fact that they have a right to be wrong, does not give them a right to use force to impose their beliefs, whether right or wrong, on others.  The fact that we are right in claiming them wrong does not mean that we should use governments and courts to shut them up.  Similarly, the Indian state of Sikkim is wrong to ban GE foods in whole or in part without the most rational and proven of reasons, which that government is lacking.  While the organic food movement has many bad consequences, people should be free to eat organic foods if they choose to do so and if they can afford them.  It is a good thing to make more people aware of the consequences of such a choice, however.

14 May 2018

The ethanol gravy train rolls on by Paul Driessen


Opponents make compelling case but can’t derail or even slow this well-protected industry

Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline. What upsets me are the deceptive claims used to justify adding mostly corn-based ethanol to this indispensable fuel; the way seriously harmful unintended consequences are brushed aside; and the insidious crony corporatist system the ethanol program has spawned between producers and members of Congress.

What angers me are the legislative and regulatory mandates that force us to buy gasoline that is 10% ethanol – even though it gets lower mileage than 100% gasoline, brings none of the proclaimed benefits (environmental or otherwise), drives up food prices, and damages small engines. In fact, in most areas, it’s almost impossible to find E-zero gasoline, and that problem will get worse as mandates increase.

My past articles lambasting ethanol (here, here, here and here) addressed these issues, and said ethanol epitomizes federal programs that taxpayers and voters never seem able to terminate, no matter how wasteful or harmful they become. That’s primarily because its beneficiaries are well funded, motivated, politically connected and determined to keep their gravy train rolling down the tracks – while opponents and victims have far less funding, focus, motivation and ability to reach the decision-making powers.

Ethanol got started because of assertions that even now are still trotted out, despite having outlived their time in the real-world sun. First, we were told, ethanol would be a bulwark against oil imports from unfriendly nations, especially as the USA depleted its rapidly dwindling petroleum reserves. Of course, the fracking (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) revolution has given America and the world at least a century of new reserves, and the US now exports more oil and refined products than it imports.

Second, renewable fuels would help prevent dangerous manmade climate change. However, with the 2015-16 El NiƱo temperature spike now gone, average global temperatures are continuing the 20-year no-increase trend that completely contradicts alarmist predictions and models. Harvey was the first major hurricane in a record twelve years to make US landfall. And overall, the evidence-based scientific case for “dangerous manmade climate change” has become weaker with every passing year.
Moreover, the claim that ethanol and other biofuels don’t emit as much allegedly climate-impacting (but certainly plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as gasoline has also been put out to pasture. In reality, over their full life cycle (from planting and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit at least as much CO2 as their petroleum counterparts.
Ironically, the state that grows the most corn and produces the most ethanol – the state whose Republican senators had a fit when EPA proposed to reduce its 2018 non-ethanol biodiesel requirement by a measly 315 million gallons, out of 19.3 billion gallons in total renewable fuels – buys less ethanol-laced gasoline than do average consumers in the rest of the USA. That state is Iowa.

In fact, Iowans bought more ethanol-free gasoline in 2016 than what EPA projects the entire United States will be able to buy in just a few more years, as the E10 mandates ratchet higher and higher.

And so this past week, after months of battles, debates and negotiations, President Trump hosted a White House meeting with legislators The purpose was to address and compromise on at least some of the thorny issues that had put Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and other politicians at loggerheads, as they sought to reform some aspects of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) system while protecting their constituents.

In an effort to expand the reform agenda, by making legislators and citizens better informed in advance of the meeting, 18 diverse organizations wrote a joint letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, underscoring why they believe broad and significant RFS reform is essential. Signatories included major national meat and poultry producers and processors, restaurants, marine manufacturers, small engine owners, consumer and taxpayer organizations, and conservation and environmental groups. They were especially worried about the prospect that the Congress and Administration might allow year-round sales of 15% (E15) ethanol blends in gasoline, but they raised other pressing concerns as well.

* As large shares of domestic corn and soy crops are now diverted from food use to fuel production, poultry, beef, pork and fish producers (and consumers) face volatile and increasing prices for animal feed.

* Ethanol wreaks havoc on the engines and fuel systems of boats, motorcycles and lawn equipment, as well as many automobiles, which are not capable or allowed to run on E15. Repair and replacement costs are a major issue for marine and small engine owners (as I personally discovered when I owned a boat).

* Consumers and taxpayers must pay increasing costs as biofuel mandates increase under the RFS.

* Millions of acres of native prairie and other ecosystems have been turned into large-scale agricultural developments, because the RFS encourages farmers to plow land, instead of preserving habitats. This endangers ecosystems and species, exacerbates agricultural run-off and degrades water quality.

* Biofuel demand promotes conversion of natural habitats to palm oil and other plantations overseas, as well as domestically. Their life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions rival or exceed those of oil and gas.

* Expanding markets for corn ethanol by increasing E15 sales ignores and exacerbates these problems – while benefiting a small subset of the US economy but negatively impacting far more sectors, including the general public and the industries and interests represented by signatories to the Pruitt letter.

Following the meeting, several signatories expanded on these concerns – and noted that the compromise did increase E15 sales, while reducing the RFS impact on small refineries that were being forced to buy paper biofuel certificates because they weren’t making enough gasoline to need mandated real biofuel.
   
Requiring every American to buy ethanol gasoline “isn’t good enough” for biofuel companies anymore, the National Council of Chain Restaurants remarked. “Now they want a waiver from federal clean air laws so they can sell high blends of ethanol, which pollutes the air in warm weather months, year round.”

“Arbitrarily waiving the E15 [ozone emissions] restriction and permitting year-round E15 sales, without comprehensive reform of the RFS,” merely boosts ethanol sales and justifies future government-imposed increases to the ethanol mandate, the National Taxpayers Union noted. These “hidden taxes,” damage to small engines, and lower gas mileage are “a direct hit” on family budgets, especially for poor families.

The new year-round E15 policy will “cause serious chaos for recreational boaters,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association stated. Over 60% of consumers falsely assume any gasoline sold at retail gas stations must be safe for their equipment. It is essential that EPA launch “a public awareness campaign, improved labeling standards, and new safeguards at the pump that protect American consumers.”

“Granting a Clean Air Act waiver for the corn ethanol industry … would mean doubling down on a policy that has already been a disaster for the environment,” the National Wildlife Federation said. Congress needs to … reform the ethanol mandate before it does more damage.”

“US farmers are in a severe crisis and millions of people around the world are forced to go without food,” ActionAid USA pointed out. “We need policies that guarantee everyone enough food to eat, fair prices for farmers, and protect our environment. Biofuels don’t do that.” In fact, they make the situation far worse.

Unfortunately, a deal was struck. The noisiest and best-connected warring factions got what they wanted. These other pressing concerns were ignored, as the can once again got kicked down the road.

Refiners will now save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, by not having to buy ethanol that they don’t need to blend into the smaller quantities of gasoline they are refining. Corn farmers and ethanol producers will rake in hundreds of millions more a year. All that is good for those industries, their workers and investors, and the politicians who get their campaign contributions.

But what about the rest of America? The Congress, White House and EPA need to address our environmental and pocketbook concerns, too. When will the next negotiating session be held?

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.

My Comments:

I have noted over and over that such special interest legislation and rulings are the standard once the People have accepted the idea that government should hurt some to help others, whether those others are a majority,  underdogs in a society, or the well-connected to government power-holders.  This ancient vision of the purpose of government was replaced in our Declaration of Independence with the principle that government derives its powers from the People for the purpose of protecting their equal, inalienable rights.  By preventing some of the People from exercising their rights for the benefit of some others of the People, the government is violating its legitimate purpose of protecting everyone's equal rights.  Once that principle of equal protection of individual rights is abused, one will always get government destructive of the interests of most of the people most of the time as special interests become the customary beneficiaries, just as they usually were before the American Principle of equal rights for everyone.

The ethanol mandates are one particularly clear case of special interests taking advantage of most of the people and violating their broad right to purchase the goods of their own choosing in a free market.  The fact that the government is so willing to violate this critical principle and impose higher costs, greater inconvenience, and greater environmental damage on the People generally so that some businesses might make more money is an especially egregious example of government that has lost its way.  It is all too clear that this is an example in which many Republicans are very guilty of failing to understand the legitimate function of government.  While I think the Democrats are worse in abusing government power, the Republicans are plenty bad themselves.  Good government only results from a strong commitment by the People to the recognition that government's only legitimate function is to protect every individual's equal right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  We all have very broad rights to engage in trade, to freedom of conscience, and to freedom of association.  We all have the right to choose our own values and to manage our own lives.  Government exists to prevent the initiated use of force and to minimize the overall use of force within our society.  That is how it achieves the General Welfare -- that is the welfare of each and every American.

As I have proven many times and many ways, the science behind the claims of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is clearly wrong.  Before such an idea is used to destroy American industries, American jobs, investment value, and to greatly increase consumer costs and inconveniences, it ought to have to prove itself true beyond any reasonable doubt.  It ought to have to answer my critical analysis of its failures to abide by known physics.  The proponents of that theory have never addressed my arguments, though they have called me many names which are meant to be unflattering.




11 May 2018

Now they're waging war on plastics! by Tom Harris


Earth Day Network’s misguided anti-plastic campaign is a sign of more nonsense to come

Earth Day Network (EDN) chose “End Plastic Pollution” as their theme for this year’s April 22 Earth Day. It is just the tip of the anti-plastic activism that now consumes environmental extremists. A Google search  on “Plastic Pollution Coalition” (a group claiming to represent “more than 500 member organizations” dedicated to “working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts”) yields almost 90,000 hits, including a video actor Jeff Bridges made for the campaign.
Even the United Nations has joined in, making “Beat Plastic Pollution” the theme of its June 5 World Environment Day, a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.”
But demanding heavy-handed action on the comparatively minor problems that plastics present makes no sense. To help the public assess these attacks against this miracle material, let’s consider what leading environmental thinkers have to say about issues EDN raised on Earth Day, beginning with its use of the term “Plastic Pollution.”
Canadian ecologist and Greenpeace cofounder Dr. Patrick Moore stresses that plastic is not toxic. “It’s litter, not pollution. Many people find it unsightly, and the solution is to educate people not to discard it into the environment and to organize, as is done on highways, to have it removed.”
EDN also says plastics are “poisoning and injuring marine life.” As Moore notes, “Plastic does not ‘poison’ anything. It’s non-toxic. Do they think our credit cards, made with PVC plastic, are ‘toxic’?” Of course, plastics can release toxins when burned, but not when they are simply littered into the general environment. So burning should be done under careful emission control standards.
“The main reason birds and fish eat bits of plastic is to get the food that is growing on them,” Moore adds. “But they’re both quite capable of passing bones and other fairly large objects through their digestive systems.” Plastics are no exception.
Paul Driessen, senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy, points out that “some animals do ingest plastics or get caught in plastic loops and nets. But the notion that marine life (and people) are being poisoned by chemicals in plastics has no scientific basis.”
EDN next complained about “the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food.” Moore responded, “This is complete nonsense. If a bit of plastic gets in our food it is passed right through the digestive system.”
“Plastic wraps and containers help preserve food and keep bacteria out,” Driessen emphasized. “Which is worse? Barely detectable trace amounts of chemicals in our bodies, or serious bacterial outbreaks?”
“The debunking of hormone disruptor researchers and their claims has been definitive and devastating,” Dunn notes. “JunkScience.com director Steve Milloy also has been prolific in his criticisms of hormone disruptor junk science,” as this excellent article explains.
Bizarrely and unbelievably, EDN proclaimed plastic as “threatening our planet’s survival.” Reminiscent of how Comedian George Carlin poked fun at the plastics scare, Driessen dismisses this hyperbole. “Earth has survived huge meteor strikes, massive ice ages, Devonian and other mass extinctions, and other planetary calamities. Now plastics have usurped dangerous manmade climate change’s role as the threat to planetary survival!?”
EDN promotes “a global effort to eliminate primarily single-use plastics.” Steve Goreham, executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of “Outside the Green Box – Rethinking Sustainable Development,responds: “Single use plastics are a boon for humanity. Packaging food in plastics instead of animal skins, wood, metal, glass and paper brings major sanitation, convenience and health benefits, as well as lower cost. The solution is biodegradable plastics for single-use products, not elimination of plastic.”
In keeping with their climate alarmism, EDN said they want “alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials.” Driessen replies: “It is absurd to suggest that non-oil and gas sources would make plastics better – or that it could be done without turning nearly the entire planet into a massive biofuel farm to provide energy and plastics. The impacts on water supplies, croplands and wildlife habitat lands would be devastating.”
As retired NASA-JSC engineer Alex Pope explains, “fossil fuels and fossil fuel products have made life better for billions of people on this Earth…. This better life is due to energy from fossil fuels and to fossil fuel products, especially plastic products.… The war against fossil fuels and fossil fuel products is all the same war. I think they know they are losing many parts of the war against using fossil fuels for energy,” so now they are cranking up the war against vital fossil fuel products that enhance and safeguard lives.
EDN wants “100% recycling of plastics.” Goreham brushed this idea aside. “100% recycling of plastics is not an economically sound policy. Either landfilling, incinerating, composting or recycling plastics is best, based on cost and applicability.  Today’s landfills are environmentally friendly in modern nations.”
EDN wants people to “reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle and remove plastics.” Driessen says “this will work in some places and cultures. But where people have no food, sanitation, clean water, jobs, electricity or real hope for the future, do you really think they will worry incessantly about plastics?”
The first Earth Day was held on 22 April 1970 in response to the legitimate concerns of millions of people that reducing air, land and water pollution needed to happen more quickly. The movement grew, until today Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers estimates that “more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.”
This should surprise no one. All sensible people are environmentalists. We want to enjoy clean air, land and water, and we like to think future generations will live in an even better environment. These were the original Earth Day objectives, and I am happy to have presented at Earth Day events in the early 1990s.
However, as Henry Miller and Jeff Stier observe in a Fox News article, In recent years, Earth Day has devolved into an occasion for professional environmental activists and alarmists to warn of apocalypse, dish up anti-technology dirt, and proselytize. Passion and zeal now trump science, and provability takes a back seat to plausibility.” That is sending science and rational thinking backward hundreds of years.
All this demonstrates the wisdom of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rule to require that data underlying scientific studies used to justify federal environment and energy policies be open to public inspection and criticism. This means actual evidence, full independent peer review, and data, methodologies, computer codes and algorithms will no longer be kept secret.
Sterling Burnett, senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, calls Pruitt’s proposal “one small step for regulatory reform, one giant leap for scientific integrity and political transparency.” EDN and its allied groups should have to prove plastics are dangerous pollutants, before governments take any actions against them.
Meanwhile, Goreham reminds us how important plastics are to health and safety in modern societies. “They are a miracle material. We fabricate food containers, boat pad­dles, shoes, heart valves, pipes, toys, protective helmets and smart phones from plastic.”
Even EDN and some other anti-plastics groups seem to recognize that plastics are indispensable for numerous applications, since they also call for manufacturing these products. They just want them made from manmade hydrocarbons (biofuels, et cetera), instead of from the oil and natural gas that Mother Nature created and left beneath Earth’s surface for humanity to use to improve our lives in countless ways.
Hopefully, applying Pruitt’s new rule, and ignoring the groundless claims of extreme eco-activists, will ensure that plastics are with us for a long time to come.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Ontario-based International Climate Science Coalition.

07 May 2018

Perverse, conflicted ethical systems by Paul Driessen


Radical environmentalists put people last, and destroy habitats and wildlife to end fossil fuels



Third Reich Forest Minister Hermann Goering was an avid hiker and ecologist who once sent a man to a concentration camp for cutting up a frog for fish bait. In 1933 he and other Nazi Party leaders enacted anti-vivisection laws to stop what he called “unbearable torture and suffering in animal experiments.”

Intensely hostile to capitalism, the Nazis controlled all industries and envisioned large-scale wind turbine projects that would generate “huge amounts of cheap energy” and create millions of German jobs.

But as Luftwaffe commander, Goering planned and directed the 1939 terror bombing of Warsaw and the final obliteration of the city’s Jewish ghetto. Thousands were slaughtered, and survivors were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp, under “the final solution” that he helped mastermind – to send millions of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, “mentally deficient burdens” and other “sub-humans” to ovens and mass graves.

About the most charitable thing one can say about Nazi ethics is that they were perversely conflicted and schizophrenic. People clearly occupied a lower niche than animals on their “moral and ethical” hierarchy.

Sadly, the same observations apply to the more rabid elements of modern environmentalism. Ironically, in the name of “keeping fossil fuels in the ground” to “save the planet” from “dangerous manmade climate change” and other imagined calamities, radical greens also demand actions that would ultimately destroy the very habitats and wildlife they claim to love. Their own words underscore their attitudes.

“If we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically.” (Earth First! activist Judy Bari) “Loggers losing their jobs because of spotted owl legislation is no different than people being out of work after the furnaces of Dachau shut down.” (Friends of the Earth founder David Brower)

People have become “a cancer … a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” (National Park Service scientist David Graber) “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.” (Prince Philip of England)

“Even if animal research produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.” (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Ingrid Newkirk) “Six million people died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.” (Newkirk again)
Banning DDT in Sri Lanka might well unleash a malaria epidemic, but “so what? People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.” Besides, in the United States, DDT substitutes “only kill farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes.” (Environmental Defense Fund scientist Charles Wurster)

“Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” (Paul Ehrlich, who in 1968 predicted mass starvation and a collapse of civilization by the 1980s)

“It’s much cheaper for everybody in Africa to have electricity where they need it,” from little solar panels “on their huts.” (Actor Ed Begley, Jr.) People in developing countries “simply cannot expect to have the material lifestyle of the average American.” (Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder)

These attitudes, policies and demands prevail today. Radical greens still advance the same irrational, intolerant views about pesticides to control insect-borne diseases; genetically modified crops to feed more people from less acreage with less water; and access to abundant, reliable, affordable energy required to power modern industrialized societies in Africa, Asia and other less developed regions.

The world’s poorest families still live unnecessarily squalid, miserable, diseased, malnourished, short lives. Billions still don’t even have electricity, clean water, light bulbs or a tiny refrigerator.

It’s awful enough that they were born into these places and conditions, and must endure corrupt, kleptocratic dictators. It is intolerable that their hopes and dreams are also stymied by unelected, unaccountable eco-imperialist activists and bureaucrats, who prance, preen and profess their commitment to “marginalized” people – but care about them only if they are “threatened” by capitalism or climate change. Not surprisingly, they brazenly ignore their own callous roles in this injustice.

The world’s dark-skinned people remain at the bottom of the environmentalist ethical hierarchy – with millions dying every year from preventable diseases of poverty, perpetuated by callous environmentalists. Developed country loggers, miners, factory workers, ranchers, pensioners and poor minorities are not much higher up; farmers also get short shrift, unless they grow corn, soybeans or canola for biofuels.

The battle over fossil fuels has recently entered other dangerous territory, as “protesters” launch campaigns reminiscent of radicals putting spikes in trees so that sawmill blades would explode and injure workers – while comrades bombed GMO and animal testing labs, meat packing plants and even houses.

Their targets now are oil and natural gas transport systems – as a prelude to more rampant destruction – as Putin aides and cronies assist and finance other groups that are trying to block US energy production.

A new cadre of Earth Liberation Front anarchists has taken to closing the valves on pipelines – sabotage that could result in pipeline ruptures, oil spills, explosions, injuries and deaths. In one case, the “valve turners” called the Keystone pipeline operations center just minutes before closing the valve, causing the valve wheel and ground below the saboteurs’ feet to shake. They could have caused a disaster.

If caught, arrested and prosecuted, these extremists invoke the “necessity defense” – asserting that they were compelled to break the law, in order to prevent a greater harm: manmade climate cataclysms.

The eco-terror groups have issued a “Decisive Ecological Warfare” manifesto, urging like-minded criminal elements to commit sabotage against pipelines, transmission lines, oil tankers and refineries. As in the past, the militants want “more moderate” environmental groups to support the “necessity” defense, acts of sabotage, and the use of eco-terrorism to “disrupt and dismantle industrial civilization” and “remove the ability of the powerful to exploit the marginalized and destroy the planet.”

They want more “mainstream” pressure groups to promote the notion that sabotage is acceptable and normal where Earth’s future is at stake. Environmentalists have already persuaded Western institutions not to support pesticide use, fossil fuel power plant construction and other modern technologies in poor, disease-ridden, energy-deprived countries – so maybe this lunacy [is] no longer so farfetched.

Several states have passed “critical infrastructure protection” bills, assessing criminal penalties on terrorists and organizations that conspire to trespass on or damage essential infrastructure sites. The bills also hold parties responsible for any resultant damages to property or persons; they should also penalize foundations and other financiers of eco-terror. All 50 states and Congress should enact similar bills.

The asserted justifications that drive perverse, conflicted environmentalist ethics are based on ideologies, assertions and computer models that label humans, capitalism and modern technologies as existential threats to our planet. They have given rise to a $1.5-trillion-per-year Climate Industrial Complex that is determined to expand its revenues and control people’s lives, livelihoods and living standards – while redistributing wealth mostly to those who would be in power and those who would keep them in power, while sending just enough to the world’s poorest families to improve their lives slightly at the margins.

Ironically, in the process, eco-activists will inflict far more damage on environmental values than do the technologies they despise. Their “solutions” to alleged ecological “problems” will turn billions of acres into wind and solar farms, biofuel plantations, hydroelectric projects, and mines for materials needed for wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and other “clean, green, renewable” energy alternatives.

The twentieth century revealed how thin the veneer of humanity, civilization and ethics can be, when propaganda, fear-mongering, hatred and emotions take over. We need to muster enough science, intellectual rigor and freedom of speech to prevent more deaths in the name of “environmental justice.”

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.


05 May 2018

Meowing Media Fuel Mass Delusion of Russian Collusion by Steven J. Allen

Dr. Steven J. Allen has written a very succinct article on the media role in constructing one aspect of a mass delusion that President Trump has colluded with the Russians.  Many, many members of the media have demonstrated various measures of irrationality, incompetence, and dishonesty on an overall massive scale in claiming that presidential candidate Trump called upon the Russians to spy on Hillary Clinton and on the USA.  The facts are clearly explained by Dr. Allen in his weekly column at American Greatness in his 21 April article entitled Meowing Media Fuel Mass Delusion of Russian Collusion.  I love that title (be sure to read it aloud) and both the historical mass delusion reference and the cartoon image with the article.  Well-done Dr. Allen.

Dr. Steven J. Allen (J.D., Ph.D.) is vice president and chief investigative officer of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C., and author of the forthcoming book Revolt of the Deplorables.  He began writing a weekly column for American Greatness in March 2018.  All of his articles make essential reading if you want to understand how governance in the USA actually works.  They are all very well-written.  You can find them collected here.

I not infrequently disagree with some of the ideas of other writers at American Greatness, but I have also found many articles there well worth reading and thinking about.  There are a limited number of commentators who are not swept up in blind hatred for Donald Trump or in a love of socialism or collectivism in one guise or another, so having another source for a differing and often rational viewpoint is of value.

22 April 2018

The Worst States in Taxpayer Debt Burden and Taxes Per Capita

According to a report released in September 2017 by Truth in Accounting, a non-profit organization, the states listed below have a per taxpayer debt burden greater than $20,000.  The debt burden or surplus was calculated as the state's total reported assets minus capital assets and assets restricted by law which was compared to money the state owes, including on pension plans and healthcare benefits for retirees.

Listed from the highest debt burden to the last of those debt burdens greater than 20,000 per taxpayer as of the 2016 fiscal year:

50. New Jersey, $67,200

49. Illinois, $50,400

48.  Connecticut, $49,500

47.  Kentucky, $39,000

46.  Massachusetts, $32,900

45.  Hawaii, $27,100

44.  Delaware, $26,300

43.  California, $21,600

42.  New York, $20,500

Each of these states, with the exception of Kentucky, has long been a one-party state, dominated by the Democratic Party.  Clearly that party is very little concerned about the debt burden it places on its taxpayers.

There are states with a taxpayer surplus, believe it or not. From the highest to the lowest taxpayer surplus we have:

1.  Alaska, $38,200

2.  North Dakota, $24,000

3.  Wyoming, $20,500

4.  Utah, $4,600

5.  Nebraska, $2,600

6.  South Dakota, $2,300

7.  Tennessee, $2,100

8.  Idaho, $1,800

9.  Iowa, $500

The following states have taxpayer debt burdens below $5,000:  Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

According to the total state and local tax revenue per capita data for 2015 of the Tax Policy Center, the highest tax states (including the District of Columbia) with per capita taxes above $5,000 are:

51.  Washington, DC, $10,605

50.  North Dakota, $9,183

49.  New York, $8,743

48.  Connecticut, $7,422

47.  New Jersey, $6,680

46.  Wyoming, $6,389

45.  Massachusetts, $6,349

44.  Hawaii, $6,111

43.  Minnesota, $5,944

42.  California, $5,864

41.  Maryland, $5,857

40.  Vermont, $5,800

39.  Illinois, $5,751

38.  Rhode Island, $5,421

37.  Maine, $5,105

Most of the states with the greatest debt burdens are also in this list of states with the highest total taxes per capita.  North Dakota and Wyoming are special cases with low populations and very high tax revenues from oil and gas and in Wyoming's case also from coal.

One can escape the high taxes and the high debt burdens by pulling up stakes and moving to a state with lower taxes and lower debt burdens.  From July 2013 to July 2014, the following states had net domestic migration loses of more than 15,000 people:

1-New York (-153,921)
2-Illinois (-94,956)
3-New Jersey (-55,469)
4-California (-32,090)
5-Pennsylvania (-31,448)
6-Michigan (-28,679)
7-Connecticut (-26,216)
8-Virginia (-20,400)
9-Ohio (-18,243)
10-Massachusetts (-16,354)
11-Maryland (-15,295)
Once again, this list of states with the largest net losses in domestic migration has 8 solid blue states and 3 states which lean to being blue states.

The governance of state and local governments has consequences.  Bad governance causes bad effects.  The examples above of bad governance are commonly paired with other examples such as low ratings for freedom in the state.