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Crunchy Granola Nature Lovers Can Cause As Many Problems as the ATV Nature Lovers

Crunchy Granola Nature Lovers Can Cause As Many Problems as the ATV Nature Lovers →

It’s tempting for the muscle-powered recreation crowd (of which I’m a proud member) to argue that we’re lighter on the ground than those who roar into nature astraddle their growling snowmobiles and churning all-terrain vehicles. Surely motorheads are to blame for any problems in the forest.

The uncomfortable fact is, we’re all complicit. In a not-yet-published review of 218 studies about recreation’s impacts on wildlife, researchers found more evidence of impacts by hikers, backcountry skiers and their like than by the gas-powered contingent.

Cross-country skiers on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, for instance, can be more disturbing to moose than noisy snowmobiles, one recent study found. Grant Harris, a biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the main author of the study, explained that snowmobiles, while a noisy intrusion, announced their presence and then quickly departed. But cross-country skiers can sneak up on an animal without warning and then linger. Worse, animals “don’t know where the skiers are going to pop up next,” leaving them on edge.

This reminds me of my favorite quote about limited knowledge and unintended consequences.

"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." — F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

This entry was tagged. Environmentalism

Portland sequoia cut down for bike path

Portland sequoia cut down for bike path →

It's tempting to think that in a battle of green vs green, that a green project must lose.

The City of Portland cut down the giant sequoia in Pier Park, in order to make way for a pedestrian and bicycle greenway.

On Thursday, protesters crossed over caution tape and their presence halted the chopping down of the sequoia, along with other, less iconic trees close by. The tree will be used to build PP&R’s first Nature Play area at Westmoreland Park.

"It will help kids connect with nature, and provide a sustainable, natural playground in the first such endeavor across our system," Ross said, in a post on PP&R's Facebook page. "We will mitigate the loss of the sequoia by planting seven giant sequoias in neighboring Chimney Park, where there are much fewer trees."

Ironically, this is a net win for the environment. Young trees absorb much more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than mature trees do. By cutting down one sequoia and replacing it with seven young ones, Portland will actually be decreasing the amount of CO2 in its atmosphere. (But the dead sequoia will leak CO2 back into the air. It'd be better if it was buried deep underground. Oh well. Shame about the beautiful old tree too.)

Global warming stopped 16 years ago

Global warming stopped 16 years ago →

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.


Dr. Patrick Moore rips 'Greenpeace's Crime Against Humanity' for opposing Golden Rice

Dr. Patrick Moore rips 'Greenpeace's Crime Against Humanity' for opposing Golden Rice →

Very harsh accusations against Greenpeace. Especially coming from Greenpeace's co-founder.

Greenpeace has openly and aggressively spread misinformation about Golden Rice since it was first invented and has continued to do so at every opportunity. They claim that there are better ways to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, such as vitamin pills and “home gardening”. Yet Greenpeace is doing nothing to implement alternative programs for the millions of victims, claiming the cause of vitamin A deficiency is “poverty”. One might ask if purposefully condemning millions of children to blindness and early death perpetuates poverty rather than alleviating it. Academies of Science around the world endorse the use of biotechnology, including genetic modification, to improve the nutrition and productivity of our food crops. There is zero evidence of any possible harm from these improvements.

It is clear by the facts that Greenpeace is guilty of crimes against humanity as defined by the International Criminal Court. They claim that “Golden Rice is a failure” while they are the ones responsible for preventing the cure that is so desperately needed by millions of civilians. The fact that Greenpeace perpetuate lies about Golden Rice while at the same time doing nothing to solve the problem themselves constitutes gross negligence on top of the crime against humanity. Will someone please bring them to justice?

The slow death of Obama’s high speed rail continues

The slow death of Obama’s high speed rail continues →

For decades the environmental movement has used NEPA, and its CEQA-like state equivalents, to block key energy development and infrastructure projects. Seeing Obama’s signature transportation initiative killed by this same tactic is some sweet poetic justice.

Ha ha.

Maybe the reason that America doesn't do anything great anymore is that we have too many regulations and too many ways to stop projects from getting started?

The Case for Increasing Domestic Oil Production

The Case for Increasing Domestic Oil Production →

Roughly half of our oil imports come from politically unstable Middle Eastern nations.

By increasing U.S. oil production (from off shore drilling, from natural gas fields, and from shale oil fields) we could cut our oil imports roughly in half.

By using U.S. resources, and creating U.S. jobs, we could end our dependence on oil imported from unstable, risky regimes. What's not to like? Why is this such a hard thing to approve?

This entry was tagged. Environmentalism Oil

Capitalism: The Anti-Pollutant

Back on Earth Day, Don Boudreaux wrote a nice letter to USA Today.

On this Earth Day, Bjorn Lomborg scrubs with facts the noxious notions and emotions that pollute public discourse about the environment ("Earth Day: Smile, don't shudder," April 21). Especially useful is his point that the world’s number one environmental killer remains the indoor air pollution suffered by persons in poor countries who burn wood, waste, and dung to cook their meals and to heat their homes.

As the historian Thomas Babington Macaulay reminded us, it wasn't until Europeans industrialized – or, as we say today, enlarged their 'carbon footprint' – that they were saved from that same filthy fate. Here’s Macaulay's description of the dwelling of a typical 17th-century Scottish highlander:

You'll have to click through to read the full letter. But his point is sound. For the average person, capitalism has't increased pollution. It's greatly decreased it.

Destroying "Clunkers" for Cash

Does this make you sad, or is it just me? I think there's something incredibly barbaric and degrading about destroying a perfectly good piece of machinery. A well maintained engine can run for more than a hundred thousand miles. It seems almost sacreligious to just destroy it out of hand.

To receive government reimbursement, auto dealers who offer rebates on new cars in exchange for so-called clunkers must agree to "kill" the old models, using a method the government outlines in great detail in its 136-page manual for dealers: Drain the engine of oil and replace it with two quarts of a sodium-silicate solution.

"The heat of the operating engine then dehydrates the solution leaving solid sodium silicate distributed throughout the engine's oiled surfaces and moving parts," says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication. "These solids quickly abrade the bearings causing the engine to seize while damaging the moving parts of the engine and coating all of the oil passages."

Over the weekend, half a dozen mechanics gathered around three clunkers marked for death at Jim Clark Motors in Lawrence, Kan. As Loris Brubeck Jr., the dealership's president, held a stopwatch, the sodium-silicate solution took two minutes flat to kill a 2002 Ford Windstar, and just a few seconds more to kill a 1999 Jeep. But a 1988 Dodge van lasted more than six minutes.

"Sometimes those old engines, they're the hardest to kill," says Mr. Brubeck.

I can't get over what an incredibly wasteful program this is.

Cash for Bonkers - John Hood - The Corner on National Review Online

Automobiles represent a significant share of the nation's capital stock. Even used cars often have years of life left in them, years during which owners can use them to get to work, perform work, or transport themselves and their families for education, recreation, or consumption.

"Clunkers" don't play much of a role in the lives of upper- and middle-income Americans, I suppose, but they play a major role in the auto market for low-income Americans. What the federal government is now doing is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the large-scale destruction of functional cars that would otherwise exchange hands one or more times in the used car market. This will make it harder for poor folks to purchase cars in the future. It's an income transfer up the income distribution, at the behest of so-called progressives.

Barack Obama's Clunkernomics by Rich Lowry on National Review Online

The fundamental mistake is to think that the government can magically induce economic activity with no countervailing downside. The Clunkers program is really just shifting around sales, creating the illusion of a demand for cars conjured out of nowhere. To the extent the program has enticed people to speed up or delay their purchases to take advantage of the rebate, it has borrowed demand from earlier this year or the future for a burst of sales in the summer of 2009.

The car-buying guide Edmunds.com reports that as many as 100,000 buyers delayed their purchases, waiting for the Clunkers program. And some of the roughly 60,000 trade-ins that take place in any month anyway were rushed to gobble up the rebate. "We have crammed three or four months of normal activity into just a few days," Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The Clunkers program demands that the old cars be disabled. In a ritual repeated in dealership lots across America, sodium silicate is being poured into car engines to kill them. Many of these cars have value and could be sold on the used market. They are being destroyed senselessly in a diktat reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt's slaughter of livestock during the New Deal. Decades later, we still haven't learned that the wanton destruction of goods is scandalously wasteful economic policy.

Gwen Ottinger - When 'Clunkers' Are Greener - washingtonpost.com

But these consumption-promoting policies are not necessarily a boon to the environment.

First, even when new cars and appliances are more efficient than the ones they replace, the act of replacing them entails environmental costs not accounted for in the stimulus programs. Building a new car, washing machine or refrigerator takes energy and resources: The manufacture of steel, aluminum and plastics are energy-intensive processes, and some of the materials used in durable goods, especially plastics, use non-renewable fossil fuels as feedstocks as well as energy sources. Disposing of old products, a step required by most incentive and rebate programs, also has environmental costs: It takes additional energy to shred and recycle metals; plastic components often cannot be recycled and end up as landfill cover; and the engine fluids, refrigerants and other chemicals essential to operating products end up as hazardous wastes.

Policies that encourage purchases of energy-efficient products may also increase, rather than decrease, energy use by confusing efficiency with consumption. For example, Energy Star refrigerators, which now qualify for rebates in many states, are certified to be 10 to 20 percent more efficient than "standard" models. Yet the Energy Star rating is awarded overwhelmingly to refrigerators far larger than would have been the norm two decades ago, and smaller models of refrigerator, which use less energy simply because they have a smaller volume of air to cool, were not even included in the Energy Star program until 2002. Consumers who wish to benefit from environmentally friendly stimulus money, then, are pushed toward purchasing "efficient" but relatively large models rather than being encouraged to opt for the smallest refrigerator, with the smallest energy demands, that meets their needs.

Beyond these concrete environmental drawbacks, product-replacement policies also send a message that old things are dirty and inefficient, while new ones are necessarily green and efficient. Under the Cash for Clunkers program, for example, old cars must be traded in for new ones. Yet plenty of used cars exceed the required 22 mpg: The Toyota Prius hybrid, on the market since 2001, gets upward of 40 mpg, and even a 15-year-old Honda Civic gets 28. By assuming that only new products can be environmentally friendly, these policies lead us to discount the environmental gains that could be made through well-established and low-tech means, such as smaller refrigerators. They also reinforce the idea that all products, even "durable goods," quickly become obsolete -- a notion that leads to overwhelming amounts of environment-despoiling waste.

More Cash for Clunkers III - John Stossel's Take

Another unintended consequence of the Cash for Clunkers program is that poor people who can't afford new cars - or expensive used cars -- will be crushed along with all those clunkers. If you can only afford $500 - $1,000 for a car, you'll find many of these vehicles are now unavailable. They have been sent to the junk yard thanks to this program.

The Blogger News Network points out that junk yards that demolish the clunkers aren't allowed to pull engines and other parts before they're crushed, making parts for older cars harder and more expensive to get.

"Cash for Clunkers" benefits New Car Dealerships primarily, by increasing sales, and the upper and middle class possibly, by giving them an extra few hundred dollars. But it's not good news at all for lower income people. We can't afford a new car, and we won't be able to continue fixing our older cars at an affordable price, if we can find the parts at all. This isn't good.

In fact, the Obama administration knew they were taking away our options to keep our vehicles running. They want our cars off the road, and they really don't care how it affects those of us with very little money. The little guy isn't a priority. Obama pretended to champion the little guy in order to get their vote, but it's becoming more and more obvious that special interests - those that have received the bailout money and those industries he is choosing to socialize - are what he really champions. Politics as usual.

Environmental Vandalism

This is why nobody likes environmentalists:

A new twist on April Fools Day -- dubbed by some Fossil Fools Day -- fell flat for more than 100 Madison residents who discovered Tuesday that someone had let the air out of their tires. Driving the message home, notes such as "happy fossil fools day -- drive less" were left on the windshields of many of the apparently randomly targeted cars parked along or near Monroe, Williamson and Langdon streets, police said.

Monica Vaughan, spokeswoman for Rising Tide North America -- a network of groups and individuals "who take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change," according to its Web site -- said it was likely associated with Tuesday's international day of action against the fossil fuel industry.

An auto-repair company took the opportunity to make some new friends.

Chor Vang, a dispatcher for Schmidt's Auto, estimated that by 6 p.m., service crews had reinflated tires on 100 to 120 vehicles, and calls were still coming in.

"There was a lot of upset people," said dispatcher Sarah Conroy. Because of the high number of people affected, Schmidt's dropped its cost for the service call from $40 to $20 "to make their day a little easier," Conroy said.

Of course, it's never a good idea to target your own side -- which is why these nuts will eventually lose.

Vaughan said she received an angry e-mail from one Madison resident -- who donates 300 hours a year to fighting for the environment and was on the receiving end of the tire prank -- who wrote, "You targeted the wrong person."

I think the Madison police are taking this a little too lightly.

While some people were calling it "eco-terrorism," Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said, "I don't think it's to that degree. I would say it's more someone's play on the April Fools Day and trying to incite dialogue."

If no permanent damage was done to the vehicles, those responsible, if caught, would likely be ticketed for disorderly conduct, DeSpain said.

How about making them pay restitution? It sounds like they cost Madison residents about $2000 in tire reinflation charges -- not to mention lost time. Why not bill Rising Tide North America for those damages and reimburse the residents who were "pranked"?

This entry was tagged. Environmentalism

Babies and Eco-Crazies

According to radical environmentalists, putting diapers on your baby is a great way to ruin the earth before your grandchildren arrive. Here they are, in their own words:

"There is a way to have a baby and NOT use diapers."

"When David was born, I started to think about the kind of world I was making for him to grow up in. The thought of garbage spewing and sprawling landfills filled me with horror. And right along with this horror were those little mother's helpers, disposable diapers...rotting, but never really going away in all their plastic glory. ... [M]any of us have not, until recent years, given credit to the mothering skills of more Earth-centered, i.e. 'primitive" cultures." -- Natec

"In my mind, diapers became the symbol of the Evil Empire of Western Parenting in which babies must suffer to accommodate the needs of their parents' broken-continuum culture: a controlled, sterile, odorless, wall-to-wall carpeted fortress in which to live with the illusion of dominion over nature. ... How I longed for a simple, dirt-floored, baby-friendly hut like that of a Yequana family." -- Scott Noelle

"Observation and close bonding interaction help the parent to understand the baby's signals, body language and timing rhythms. Some common signals that indicate a need to pee in a young infant are: squirming, 'fussing,' tensing the face, frowning or having a look of 'inner concentration'. When the baby has to go, the parent holds him or her in a comfortable position over an appropriate toilet place and makes a cueing sound (perhaps a gentle "sss"). [Parents out shopping] may rely on using public bathrooms, or bring along a container such as a tight -lidded bucket. This gentle and ancient practice is the most common way of caring for a baby's hygiene needs in the non-Western world." -- Ingrid Bauer

Diaper-less babies -- because diapers are more dangerous than the plagues, diseases, and sicknesses endemic in pre-diaper societies. Hygiene is, apparently, overrated and the earth is underrated.