Sunday, December 27, 2009

CARBON MONEY

If you have wondered, as I have, how carbon trading works, how money is made from global warming, the UN’s role in the process, and what they were talking about in Copenhagen, the following article is an excellent primer. It recently appeared on pajamasmedia.com.
CLIMATEGATE: HOW TO FOLLOW THE MONEY

December 23, 2009 - by Charlie Martin

There’s big money in climate.

That became strikingly obvious in Copenhagen. The conference itself cost in the neighborhood of $30 million, but that was only the visible tip of the melting iceberg. Add to that the celebrities, the demonstrators, the congressional delegations, and the corporate displays, and you can bet something closer to $60 million was really spent on the conference — along with, of course, a carbon footprint the size of Morocco’s. The one significant outcome of the Copenhagen conference was an agreement to continue the international market in carbon offset trading that would otherwise have expired in 2012 and to prevent a crash in the carbon credits market.

It appears that most of the participants saw the money spent as an investment.

To see why, we need to look at the way Kyoto has turned into cash for many of the biggest names in the climate change world, and to do that we need to understand how the whole carbon trading scheme works.

Simple Carbon Trading

Start with the simple proposition that you want, for whatever reason, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) being emitted by human activities worldwide. The reasons, of course, are all based on the idea that humans emitting GHGs are causing unexpected and unacceptable changes in the climate. Whether that’s true or not is a topic for other articles; for now, just take it as given.

There are actually a number of GHGs that could be an issue, but the largest share of human-produced GHGs is in carbon dioxide (CO2). So for simplicity, the Kyoto Protocol normalizes everything in terms of CO2 alone, using a number called the global warming potential (GWP). By definition, the global warming potential of CO2 is 1; the highest GWP is for sulfur hexaflouride, a gas used mainly in electrical equipment. Sulfur hexaflouride has a GWP of 23,900, so for Kyoto Protocol purposes, releasing 1 ton of sulfur hexaflouride is considered to be 23,900 tons of CO2.

Now, if there were a king of the world, that dread sovereign might just say: “Hey! Stop emitting GHGs!” And that would be that. In the real world, if you want to reduce GHGs, you have to come up with some kind of scheme to get people to do it (more or less) voluntarily. Governments do this, normally, with taxes. The simplest scheme is just to tax anyone who emits GHGs, charging them enough to pay for the bad effects. Reduce the amount you emit and your taxes go down.

Of course with a government program, and particularly with the UN, nothing is that simple.
Developing countries, particularly India and China, have rapidly growing economies and populations that really enjoy that their standards of living are rising toward first-world levels. These countries, as they improve their standards of living, are necessarily going to release more CO2. In the simple model, they would be expected to pay for those emissions.

Carbon Trading after Kyoto

India and China, with rapidly growing economies and populations that are really enjoying progress towards a first-world standard of living, didn’t like this scheme at all. To them, the simple carbon tax is just a massive tax, reducing their GDP and impeding their progress. Add to this the historical resentment of colonialism, and the simple carbon tax was a non-starter.

The Kyoto plan was intended to solve this — at the cost of more complexity — by using a carbon trading scheme. For example, imagine China is going to build a new power plant that would have emitted 1,000 tons of CO2 a year. If China instead builds that plant with new technology that reduces the emissions to 500 tons a year, they get 500 tons of carbon credits in the form of a certificate of emission reduction (CER). The theory is that they can then sell those CERs to other places as “credit” in place of CO2 emission reductions, something we’ll discuss below.

The devil is in the details, of course. If you can get a 500 ton CER for building the power plant better, shouldn’t you get 1,000 tons of credit for not building the power plant at all?

That could be a pretty sweet deal — you can not-build a lot of power plants in a year. If there’s a market for these CERs, that’s a license to print money. So there’s immediately a problem — you must somehow establish that you only provide CERs for projects that would otherwise have been built anyway.

The Kyoto Protocol establishes a mechanism to certify these emission reductions called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which establishes a bureaucratic process under the supervision of the UN to do this certification. The purpose of the CDM is to keep the process honest. Only certify emission reductions for projects that would have been built anyway and that would have had a greater carbon footprint if they had been built the way they would have been built.

Got that? You have a CER, with real cash value, as long as a UN organization will certify what you might have done, and the way you might have done it, if you had done it, and done it that way.

Now, let’s leave the third world and go to the developed world, the first world, or what the Kyoto Protocol calls the Annex I countries. In fact, let’s go to the the U.S., where there is a power plant that already emits 1,000 tons of CO2 a year. They can offset that emission by buying the CER from China — but why would they bother?

Of course, some people would buy CERs out of commitment or guilt — say Hollywood folks who want to continue to use their private jets — but the market in guilt is actually pretty limited.
For this scheme to work, there has to be some reason why the power plant would be forced to reduce their carbon emissions. That’s where the Kyoto Protocol come in. Part of the protocol is an agreement by each of the Annex I countries that they will reduce their carbon emissions by some amount, but that reduction can either be in actual reductions or by buying CERs.

Put together, these two parts — an enforced reduction or “cap” on carbon emission and a way to trade CERs — are the key components of a “cap and trade” scheme, which is the basis of the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon Markets

There’s one more missing component here. There has to be a way for people with CERs to find people who want to buy CERs — in other words, there has to be a market. This market operates, just like the New York Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, or the rug merchant in a bazaar in Istanbul, as a profit-making entity. Every time Wayne in Chicago buys a CER from Wang in Shanghai, the guy facilitating the market — call him “Al” — takes a little off the top in the transaction.

Now we’ve got a picture of the whole transaction:

1. Wayne in Chicago needs to reduce his CO2 emissions by 500 tons, so he contacts Al.

2. Wang in Shanghai has a 500 ton CER.

3. Wayne and Wang agree, through Al, that the 500 ton CER is worth $1000.

4. So Al takes the CER from Wang, paying him $980 (subtracting a $20 commission from the $1,000 trade price) and gives it to Wayne in exchange for $1,020 (because Al is charging Wayne a commission too.)

Now, on paper at least, Wayne is only producing (net) 500 tons of carbon emissions.

Perverse Incentives

“On paper” is the key here. In reality, Wayne alone used to be emitting 1,000 tons of carbon. Now, Wayne and Wang together are emitting 1,500 tons in total. Wayne is out $1,020 for the CER, Wang is $980 richer, and Al has made $40.

On paper, it’s a reduction of 500 tons of CO2 emissions, but it’s only a real reduction if Wang really would otherwise have built a power plant to emit 1,000 tons. But because Wang knows he can make money on the CERs, that is going to factor into his decision to build a power plant at all — all the incentives in Wang’s case are to build more power plants and emit more CO2, as long as he can convince someone (in this case a UN organization) that he “really would have built the power plants anyway.”

Of course, Wayne could have kept his $1,020 if it weren’t for the government forcing him to reduce his “carbon footprint.” So this is effectively a tax. The effect is that Wayne is paying $1,020 in taxes, of which $40 goes to Al and $980 goes to Wang in China, and there is a net reduction in carbon output only if the CERs really represent carbon that “would have been emitted anyway.”

And this all managed by the paragon of incorruptible altruism, the United Nations.

Follow the Money

The frightening thing, at least for Al and Wang, is that this was all set to go away. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and without an agreement to extend it, new Chinese power plants would have to be built without cash coming from the developed world and carbon trading markets would have nothing to trade.

The amount of money involved isn’t trivial. According to Richard North at the Daily Mail, the carbon trading market last year was worth about £129 million (or about $205 million U.S.) and was heading toward trillions of dollars by 2020. So it’s probably not a coincidence that, for all the discord in Copenhagen, the one thing to which all the parties did agree was to extend the Kyoto cap and trade system. The market in carbon offsets or CER would continue.

Who benefits from this?

An interesting question. Of course, it’s well known that Al Gore is heavily involved in the carbon offset market and in other environmental ventures. There is speculation that Gore could be the world’s first green billionaire.

Another beneficiary is the UN itself. All of these international processes happen under the supervision and control of the UN and UN-chartered nongovernmental organizations.

The most interesting connection that’s come out in recent days is Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri — the chairman of the IPCC. Pachauri, an engineer and economist by training, joined the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) in April of 1981 as managing director and continues to be employed there to this day. TERI was renamed in 2003. According to the Science and Public Policy Institute, at the time of the name change TERI communications director Annapurna Vancheswaran said:

"We have not severed our past relationship with the Tatas. It [the name-change from Tata Energy Research Institute to The Energy Research Institute] is only for convenience.
Pachauri, and TERI, maintains close ties with the Tata Group."

Pachauri, it turns out, has a number of interesting connections. Beside the connection to Tata — TERI insists it has terminated the official connection — Dr. Pachauri is a director or advisor to many other organizations involved in the “climate industry.” The Telegraph puts it like this:

"What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr. Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organizations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations."

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies, and investment funds heavily involved in “carbon trading” and “sustainable technologies,” which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international “climate industry.”

Roger Pielke Jr. looked at the conflict of interest policies at the UN and concluded that Dr. Pachauri’s business connections appear to conflict with the normal UN policies, but that it’s not clear that the IPCC is covered:

Based on the WMO and UN discussions of conflicts of interest, it seems clear that Dr. Pachauri has, at the very least, several associations that raise the appearance of a conflict of interest in such a way that does not preserve and enhance “public confidence in their own integrity and that of their organization.” Since we do not have details on Dr. Pachauri’s activities or compensation from these various organizations and businesses, it is impossible to tell what, if any, conflicts actually may exist.

It is perfectly reasonable to expect high-ranking IPCC officials to follow the WMO and UN guidelines for conflict of interest and disclosure. Apparently, they presently do not follow these or any other such practices. If the IPCC does not have any policies governing these issues, it certainly needs to develop them, lest they give the impression that climate scientists play by different rules than everyone else.

Lord Monckton, in an open letter to Dr. Pachauri and the IPCC, made another point. In one specific instance, Tata industries owns Corvus Steel, which owns a steel mill in the UK. Monckton wrote:

"The Tata group is now owner of Corus Steel, which, not long ago, closed down the steelworks in Redcar, UK, putting 1,700 workers out of their jobs. Corus stands to make billions by cashing in on now-surplus EU “carbon credits” given to the steelworks. It stands to make a great deal more, via the Clean Development Mechanism that is one spin-off from the IPCC process, by transferring steel production from the Redcar works to India."

Tata stands to gain from the Clean Development Mechanism by receiving credits for notional carbon “savings” obtained by investing in a new steel plant in the Indian province of Orissa, which will initially produce 3 million tons of hot rolled steel — exactly the capacity of the now-closed Redcar plant.

From the discussion above, it’s clear what happens here. When they close the still mill in Redcar, that is a lot of carbon emissions they no longer make; that’s a large CER. At the same time, they open a new steel mill in Orissa that produces exactly as much steel. If they can convince some UN functionary that this new mill “would have” been built anyway, and “would have” produced much more carbon emissions had they hypothetically built it in that alternate world, they can realize more CERs that can be exchanged for real cash in the carbon markets. At least, they can if they can convince the UN. Remember that you need a UN certification of what you might have otherwise done, and how you would have done it, if you had done it and done it that way.

And Dr. Pachauri, with his extensive ties to Tata and his leadership position in the IPCC, seems likely to have substantial influence in the UN.

Who Benefits?

At the conclusion of the Copenhagen talks, what was the actual result? The Obama administration hoped for an agreement with developing countries, particularly India and China, that would include binding targets for GHG reductions and verification procedures to ensure that carbon credits represented “real” reductions.

What they got was a non-binding agreement that basically has no effect except that the existing Kyoto agreement for cap and trade continues. This seems unlikely to limit carbon emissions much — after all, the theoretically binding agreements of Kyoto weren’t particularly successful. (In fact, the U.S. has been closer to meeting its announced goals than the EU, even though the U.S. didn’t ratify the treaty.)

What’s interesting is that carbon offset prices collapsed along with the collapse of the Copenhagen talks. It’s pretty straightforward to understand what this market is saying. Up to the last gasp in Copenhagen, the betting had been that there would be even more restrictive limits on carbon in the developed countries and so greater demand for offsets. The markets didn’t get those and so “decided” offsets were worth less. On the other hand, with no agreement at all, the value of a carbon offset would be near zero, and China, India, and people who invested in the carbon markets would be seriously hurt.

This eleventh-hour non-binding agreement, made by just a few participants, seems to have primarily had the effect of preserving the carbon market’s existence.

Which means that the existing carbon trading scheme continues. China, India, Tata Group, Rajendra Pachauri, and “Al” are still in business.

Charlie Martin is a Colorado computer scientist and freelance writer. He holds an MS in Computer Science from Duke University, where he spent six years with the National Biomedical Simulation Resource, Duke University Medical Center. Find him at http://chasrmartin.com, and on his blog at http://explorations.chasrmartin.com/.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

DING DONG! THE WITCH IS DEAD! (ON BEING AN EX-ENVIRONMENTALIST)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
----“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost


As I write this, the environmental conference in Copenhagen is beginning, and the cover-up of “Climategate” is continuing. The major networks are not covering it at all---not a word has been broadcast on the news shows at ABC, NBC and CBS. Elsewhere, on cable channels and in a few major newspapers (and at the White House), it is being given the “move-along-nothing-to-see-here” treatment.

I remain gleeful. I’m confident no amount of spin can succeed. This particular genie will never go back in the bottle, and most ordinary folks (the kind who don’t sell carbon credits for a living) were pretty skeptical about global warming even before this.

The emails are bad enough. They reveal the fanatic advocacy of supposedly objective scientists, efforts to silence their critics, discussions of how to massage data so the answer comes out the way they want it, and even criminal conspiracies to destroy documents. Ugly stuff. But the real problem is the computer code itself, which is now revealed to be so muddled from repeated manipulation that the results it generated, the “proof” of global warming, cannot be replicated through any rational process. At this moment, finally, there is nothing to back up their claims. Not that there ever was, of course, but now the world can at last see the truth.

I quit smoking about three years ago. It’s not really “difficult” or painful, but it does require you to invest some emotional energy in the process. It distracts you from your normal routine and you find you think about smoking (or not smoking) rather more than you want to. You even dream about smoking. I still have those dreams occasionally.

I quit because smoking is bad for you. It’s not nearly as bad as the zealots will tell you, of course, but there’s no question it’s an unhealthy practice. (I think the anti-smoking propaganda probably kept me smoking five years longer than I otherwise would have, just because it was so false and politically correct and infuriating, and I felt I would be goddamned if I was going to knuckle under to the smoking fascists. The “second-hand smoke” mania was especially grating since there has never been any real evidence that second-hand smoke does anything more deadly than annoy people who don’t like cigarette smoke.)

The result is that now, though I am an ex-smoker, I don’t disapprove of smoking. In fact, I like smoking. I like to be around it. Smoking is fun. Smoking is cool. On the rare occasions when I find a bar where smoking is permitted, I settle in for a long stay. Smoking, to me, says “party.” Bars where smoking is permitted are a lot more fun than bars where smoking is banned.

When smokers come to my house, I set out ashtrays for them. “No, I’ll go outside,” they say. “Seriously,” I say, “I don’t mind. I like it.” They go outside anyway.

The point I’m trying to make here is that I’m not one of those ex-smokers who HATES smoking and smokers, and also has to lecture you on the evils of the filthy practice and tell you stories about somebody I know who died young from smoking and show you pictures of diseased lungs. I’m not that kind of ex-smoker.

As an ex-environmentalist, however---well, that’s another matter.

I imagine a lot of people who know me would be surprised to learn I was once a liberal. Actually, that may be overstating it. I always understood the link between private property and liberty, for example, and how capitalism creates wealth, and the need to respect the Constitution and protect our freedom to speak and assemble and worship as we please, and---O.K., I was never a liberal. But I WAS an environmentalist.

I went to seminars and teach-ins and meetings about clean air and clean water and the rain forests, and I worried about all these things. I gave money to PIRGIM at a time when I really didn’t have any money.

I remember lying awake at night contemplating the coming ice age. In the 1970’s, all the books and articles and TV specials about Global Cooling scared the bejesus out of me. I believed every word of it. I thought it was “science.” I was convinced we were doomed.

Then came April 1972. I guess I have EPA Chief William Ruckleshaus to thank for opening my eyes to what “environmentalism” had become.

As a result of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and a decade’s worth of activism by those who believed her, the EPA held an administrative trial to determine what deleterious effects could be attributed to DDT use. Did it harm wildlife? Did it interfere with reproduction in birds by causing a thinning in eggshells? Was it a carcinogen for humans? For seven months, biologists testified about their studies; and all the available science on the effects of DDT was reviewed. Then, in April 1972, the administrative law judge delivered his verdict:


“DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. ... The uses of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds, or other wildlife. ... The evidence in this proceeding supports the conclusion that there is a present need for the essential uses of DDT.”

Two months later, Ruckleshaus overturned the judge’s decision, declared DDT a “potential human carcinogen,” and banned it for virtually all uses. He had never attended the administrative trial, and he admitted he had not read the transcript either. The effect of this unilateral declaration was that DDT disappeared not only in the US, but around the world.

Malaria has been a scourge of mankind throughout recorded history. In 1939, DDT was synthesized as a mosquito-killer by Swiss scientist Paul Muller, and was first put to widespread use in 1943. It was instantly successful, and Muller received a Nobel Prize for his work in 1948. In the US, malaria was endemic in southeastern states and the Mississippi Valley until the CDC launched a DDT spraying program (in 1947) that eradicated malaria by 1951. By 1967, malaria had been effectively beaten in every developed nation, all of South America and large swatches of Southeast Asia. It remained a problem in Africa, though significant progress had been made. In 1972, that progress abruptly ceased.

Since 1972, there have been more than 100 million (mostly avoidable) deaths from malaria, almost all of them in impoverished developing countries that are least able to defend themselves. According to the World Health Organization, 90% of the deaths are of pregnant women or children under five years old.

The DDT fiasco was the end of my career as an environmentalist. There was probably a time when “environmental science” was primarily a matter of learning about nature and using that knowledge to find ways in which human society could live in harmony with it, but at sometime in the 1960’s or 1970’s, that changed. I doubt that the banning of DDT by the EPA was the moment it changed---it had happened before that---but the DDT ban made it clear that science was not very important to those who ran the EPA or who identified themselves as environmentalists.

There is a tendency to dismiss the sillier aspects of environmental activism as harmless excesses of those who only want to do good, to help out. All of us have walked through a forest and felt renewed thereby. The chatter of birds, the sound of icy clear water rushing over rocks, the unexpected sight of a deer in a clearing, the feel of fresh air in the lungs---all these things return us to some primal memory. At the right place, in the right moment, all of us are tree-huggers. It’s easy to understand the impulse, and a love of nature and its glory is not a bad thing, but a fundamental human response to the world.

But as the banning of DDT teaches us, “environmentalism” is something else. It’s a hundred million dead mothers and children without a peep out of those who were responsible for it. The pursuit of these feel-good ideals while ignoring the truth---well, it’s lethal. If you’re “saving the planet,” or if you can persuade yourself that is your goal, the consequences don’t seem to matter very much. But they should. If they don’t, you’re a moral idiot.

Of course, not every campaign of environmentalists is deadly. Some are just extremely expensive and wasteful. The modern recycling binge began with a single article by a man named J. Winston Porter in 1988. Mr. Porter, of the EPA, captured the public imagination with his claim, which is demonstrably false, that the United States was in danger of running out of landfill space. Now, twenty years later, most of us are subject to draconian recycling regulations and the nation spends hundreds of billions a year more than it needs to on waste disposal, for no discernable benefit other than the “feeling” some folks have that it’s the right thing to do. It certainly cannot be defended on economic grounds, though its acolytes try to, since any economically viable recycling would (and does) occur on its own in response to market forces. It’s only the useless and wasteful kind of recycling that gets mandated by governments since otherwise, no one with any sense would do it. Still, I don’t suppose it has killed anyone.

Remember alar on apples? Acid rain? Electro-magnetic fields from power lines? Cancer clusters? Brain cancer from cell phones? Radon? All of them have spawned minor industries and made a few people rich. Some of them are still around. As far as I know, these mini-manias haven’t killed anyone either. They just waste our time and the resources of our society which are, after all, not infinite. In addition, they degrade our culture by fostering an insidious deconstructionist ethic---that reality doesn’t matter; what matters is how we feel.

But there are plenty of environmental ideas that DO kill, though not always so directly and coldly as the ban on DDT. Generally, these are the movements that reduce the supply of commodities essential for human survival, like food and energy.

At any given moment on earth, there are a billion people who, while they may not be starving, are not entirely certain where their next meal is coming from. Until the rise of the democracy movement and capitalist institutions in the 18th Century, this was the lot of almost everyone on the planet---long hours of physical labor every day to secure the means by which one might survive to do it all over again the next day. While the developed and semi-developed world is now spared this life of unrelenting toil, it still exists in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The weakest and poorest of these human beings are the ones who die when the price of survival rises.

They are easy to ignore. We don’t know their names and we never will. They are simply anonymous wogs and colored peoples, the sort that get slaughtered en masse from time to time in local genocides that we don’t pay any attention to either. Still, they die, and it’s the fault of our fashionable environmental ideas. It’s cause and effect.

When Western elites in Europe and the United States decide (without any scientific justification whatsoever) that GMO foods are suspect or somehow spooky, those GMO plants are no longer grown, and an acre that could have produced forty tons of food now produces only twenty. Who do you think this hurts? Not me, or anyone I know. If a bag of flour or corn meal costs half a buck more, I don’t even notice it. But other people do. Halfway around the world, there are people for whom that half dollar is the difference between living and dying.

For sixty years, organic food enthusiasts have been trying to persuade us that organic food is better for you, healthier, more nutritious. There is not a scintilla of evidence this is true despite billions spent on research, but their belief is unshaken. What we DO know is that most of the food-contamination scares (the e. coli and salmonella outbreaks) are attributable to organic farming practices, but somehow this never makes the front page. And of course, organic farming also makes less efficient use of agricultural land, driving up the price of food in ways that elites don’t care much about but starving people do.

Then there is the mandated production of ethanol, which illustrates what happens when you take one-fourth of a basic subsistence food and turn it into bio-fuel. Two years ago, food riots broke out (in Mexico, Haiti, Cameroon, Egypt, Pakistan, China, and other nations) as the soaring price of corn forced all basic food prices higher. All of this was driven not by market forces but by tax subsidies in the EU and the United States ($8 billion in 2007).

There are plenty of complaints about ethanol, among them that it uses more energy to create than it yields in the gas tank. In addition, it is far from certain that burning ethanol produces cleaner air pollution than gasoline does. Add in the food riots, and one might well ask, “What the hell was Congress thinking?”

And the answer is: what they always think. There is nothing particularly unusual about environmental initiatives having disastrous unintended consequences. After all, it’s not like our legislators actually KNOW anything about food or energy or the environment. (Two years ago, Nancy Pelosi casually remarked that natural gas is not a fossil fuel, but a renewable energy source, like wind.) All Congress is equipped to do is respond to groups like the Sierra Club, which hates gasoline, and Archer-Daniels-Midland, which grows and processes corn. Groups like this have a loud voice in Washington and are able to direct large contributions to politicians, so there is nothing at all surprising or unusual about our ethanol policy. In fact, if you are one of those people who thinks the US government should have an “energy policy,” ethanol subsidies are exactly the sort of thing you’re going to get. It’s the lesson of DDT repeated in a different guise. Neither scientific considerations nor concern for the environment have anything to do with the process. The words “science” and “the environment” are just key elements in the public relations template used to sell the idea. The real agenda is always something else.

And what is the agenda? Well, it varies, of course. It varies from issue to issue and from person to person. Sometimes, the motivation is simply greed. Al Gore is reputedly the world’s first green billionaire, for example. There may also be a larger political agenda such as the desire (evident on the streets of Copenhagen), to resurrect international communism as a world government.

Then there are the genuine tree-huggers, who are also in Copenhagen. These are simple-minded folks who feel strongly that every fence, every plowed field, every building and every oil well is an assault upon the good green earth. Similar are the Luddites, who arrive at the same conclusions though they do not so much love nature as hate the modern world. Luddites want to destroy all the machines and return to a simpler age. No one is stopping them from putting their beliefs into action by building themselves a hut in the woods, of course, but somehow they never quite do.

Even more disquieting is the small but noticeable segment of the political left for whom the deaths of poor and vulnerable third-worlders is not a bug, but a feature. They’re convinced the world just has too many of these sorts of people, and if some should drop into the void because of environmental programs, it’s something of a bonus. Back in the 1920’s, when Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, she did so to further the cause of eugenics by discouraging undesirable people (like Negroes) from reproducing. Nowadays, reducing the population of black and brown peoples is put in terms of the “population explosion” (another myth) rather than more overtly racist reasons. Back in the 1960’s, one argument made for banning DDT was to ensure that children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the US Agency for International Development stated, “Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing.” And today, you never hear feminists object to coercive contraceptive programs involving sterilization, or China’s forced abortions and one-child policy. The ghost of eugenics survives on the left, hidden under environmental and other fashionable facades.

Even though there are many agendas in the global warming movement, I suspect the primary motivation is as primal and human and ancient as it gets---the seductive allure of doom. Purveyors of the end-times have always found a ready audience because there is something in all of us that longs for oblivion, that makes us stare, fascinated, into the abyss.

As we face swelling prostates, aching knees, failing eyesight and dimming intellects, it’s the uncertainties around our deterioration that drive us mad. It’s one reason we worry, because worry is comforting. It allows us to narrow the focus of our existential despair. Am I eating too much cholesterol? Am I getting enough exercise? What if my heart stops? Silly, of course. Pointless. (It’s always something else that gets you.) But we all do it. Recently, on a radio show, I heard a woman tell the story of a horrible accident she had had several years before. She was hit by a truck, and as she was laying broken on the ground, in tremendous pain, her last thought before she passed out was this: “If I don’t survive this, I sure wasted a lot of time worrying about breast cancer.”

If global warming were real, and the oceans were to rise, and we all fried---well, there would be no escape, would there? We would all be toast, literally. And compared to the myriad of unknown minor and major woes we all must endure, the certainty of a specific and universal doom can be almost irresistible. The doom-sayers are never correct, but they don’t seem to have any trouble attracting a flock. And it doesn’t matter whether a particular pastor actually believes his revelation or is merely in the game to fleece the suckers. Not all of us will fall for it, of course, but enough will.

Al Gore is every preacher who ever picked a date for the end of the world and gathered his acolytes on a mountaintop to await the apocalypse. Is he sincere? Does he, in his heart, think he is speaking the truth? Well, considering his conduct, I find that difficult to believe, but ultimately it makes no difference. What matters is that others believed him, and that we were on the brink of shutting down much of the machinery that keeps me warm and well-fed and keeps untold millions of others, less fortunate, alive.

I thank God he has failed, and that the Copenhagen conference will be a fiasco. The exposure of global warming as a fraud has been an unexpected and wonderful development. It came out of nowhere, like the news that the Soviet Union had fallen. And for those of us who have had little to celebrate the past year, the news was every bit as welcome.


Copyright2009MichaelKubacki

Thursday, December 10, 2009

LET'S JUST LEAVE

There are ten or twenty points I could expound upon in Obama’s mishmash of a speech on his war strategy in Afghanistan. The absence of the words “victory” or “triumph” or some similar term was striking, especially considering this was the Commander-in-Chief talking to the students at West Point. In addition, there was the complaint about the cost the war from a man who, in the first six months of his term, has spent far more money (on what, exactly?) than was spent in BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan over the past eight years. Then there was the nonsensical statement that, as part of his Afghan strategy, “I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” Huh?

But let’s cut to the chase, as they say. For me, the speech was neatly encapsulated by a passage buried in the middle of the address:

“This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”

A little bit for the left, a little bit for the right. A little bit for these guys, a little bit for those. The entire speech was like that, which perhaps explains Obama’s lengthy lucubrations (the “dithering period”)before delivering the goods. It took forever, apparently to craft a war speech that was equal parts pro-victory and anti-victory. And in the struggle he faced between finding a way to win the war and balance all his private political concerns, the politics seem to have won.

It can’t work, of course. If you set a date for your exit, it doesn’t matter how many soldiers you send. The enemy will simply wait for you to leave. After all, they’re not going anywhere. In addition, a departure date makes it impossible for your potential friends in Afghanistan to support you since, if they do so, they will be the first to face the firing squad eighteen months hence.

If we’re going to lose the war in Afghanistan, as Obama seems intent on doing, let’s lose it now. What is the point of having hundreds or thousands of American men and women lose their lives over the next year and a half if our defeat is already preordained? How, in good conscience, can we send them to die not for the security of their country but merely to slow the decline in Obama’s poll numbers, and push the issue of the Afghan war off beyond the 2010 elections?

There is one way to win a war. You kill the enemy and destroy all their assets. It’s not a pretty sight, and it’s not a task to be undertaken half-heartedly or cavalierly, but if it has to be done, that’s how you do it. It has always been that way. It’s what we did with Germany and Japan in WW II, back when we understood that the only effective way to deal with a totalitarian or genocidal regime is to crush it completely. America has forgotten that lesson.

My conclusion that we should leave Afghanistan now is made only because it is the better of two terrible choices---lose now or lose in eighteen months. If I had my druthers, I would want us to win the war, but with this president, and the current political climate, I don’t see how that can happen. And it is immoral to ask soldiers, all of whom volunteered in good faith to defend their country, to lay down their lives for nothing.

You can’t lose a war without paying a terrible price. We are still paying the price of our defeat in Vietnam, and this will be far worse. The North Vietnamese were never going to confront us on Market Street during the Mummers Parade, but the jihadis are already here, and there will be a lot more of them once their pals have defeated us halfway around the world. Our defeat will be a recruiting tool for them, with horrific consequences for us. And yes, we will have to fight them again, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and it will be even more difficult in the future. By then, however, we will have a different Commander-in-Chief.

Copyright2009MichaelKubacki

Monday, December 7, 2009

UPDATE: SCOTT HARSHBARGER

I recently wrote about Scott Harshbarger and recounted the story of his disgraceful treatment of the Amirault family in Massachusetts (see here). The occasion for that story was the appointment of Harshbarger to conduct an internal investigation of ACORN in the wake of various unsavory revelations about it (e.g., facilitating the prostitution of minors, money-laundering, etc.).

The report is now complete, and guess what? It turns out ACORN really did nothing very wrong at all. At worst, there were some growing pains caused by ACORN’s rapid growth, and perhaps an accounting error or two.

BIGGOVERNMENT.COM reports that in Harshbarger’s review, he spoke to no one outside of ACORN---no former employees, no ousted board members, no independent auditors, no disgruntled clients. Thus, everyone interviewed was either employed by ACORN or currently affiliated with the organization.

Copyright2009Michael Kubacki

Thursday, December 3, 2009

HIDE THE DECLINE

Now come the excuses, and the curious silences. This is the real proof of the fraud behind the global warming industry.

Now that the databases and emails of Phil Jones, Michael Mann, and other “top climate scientists” have been laid before us, we can see how the scam operated. First, hide the raw data, and if it is demanded by those with a right to see it, destroy it. Second, fix the peer-review process in scientific journals by shutting out any global-warming skeptics and exerting pressure to fire editors who won’t toe the party line. Finally, agree (secretly) on how to deal with troubling issues like the absence of global warming for the past thirteen years, and actual cooling for the last nine.

If this had ever been a scientific issue (rather than a left-wing political movement), wouldn’t those who had been sucked in by the fraud be upset they had been duped? What about Al Gore, for example? He’s a believer, right? He won a Nobel Prize for his activism and he featured Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” in his movie. He is reportedly close to becoming a billionaire through his environmental efforts. Yet Al doesn’t seem to be very concerned about the recent revelations. According to his blog, he’s still looking forward to Copenhagen and the imposition of a worldwide tax on energy use.

If Al actually cared whether the earth’s climate was warming, don’t you think he would be a little---I don’t know. What’s the word? IRKED??? I mean, if your entire reputation, and various extremely prestigious awards, were based in your devotion to a particular point of view, and it turned out that point of view was founded on a deception, wouldn’t you howl a bit? Wouldn’t you condemn the guys who had tricked you and made your life a lie? How about a press release, Al? Or maybe an op-ed in the New York Times?

Guess not.

Then there’s Prince Charles, who told us a couple months ago that we only had 96 months to fix the planet, which leaves us with only 93 or 94 left. What’s Charlie thinking these days? Odd. He’s strangely silent all the sudden.

Global warming believers in the world of journalism and punditry (and politics) ignored the story for about two weeks, but eventually realized they had to say SOMETHING. It’s their business, after all, and the story just wouldn’t stay buried. And were there then demands for prosecution of criminal acts or calls for resignations of various dishonest academics? Of course not.

Andrew Revkin may be the most prominent American journalist in the “it’s-all-settled” school of global warming advocacy. He has published dozens of articles in the New York Times and his blog supporting cap-and-trade, carbon emission laws, worldwide energy taxation schemes, and the like. Yet noticing the scandal appeared to be beneath his dignity: “The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all matter of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.”

This from the newspaper that published the Pentagon Papers! Later, he called the release of the documents an act of “cyber terrorism.” (Barbara Boxer, heading down a similar path, has called for criminal prosecution of the whistleblower who revealed the scam to the world.)

Other excuses from those in the game have been equally lame.

From the blog “Real Climate”: “More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords.”

CRU Director Phil Jones, about his now-famous phrase: “The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste.”

The BBC’s Roger Harrabin, after first dismissing the story as a routine hacking story: “But this affair will surely change things: From now, scientific teams and peer-review groups will be much more cautious about how they word e-mails.”

As Rand Simberg has pointed out, science is accomplished through a well-established process of refining theories to conform to the data, including new data as it is acquired (Ptolemy to Copernicus to Kepler to Newton to Einstein), and not the other way around. Climategate exposes a betrayal, by some of the world’s most famous scientists, of this most basic precept. And based on this fundamentally fraudulent scheme, politicians hoped to create the beginnings of a world government in Copenhagen this month, with enormous new power to impose taxes worldwide, control energy markets and manage the environment.

Any objective person who had been taken in by this fraud should be angry at its perpetrators and relieved it has finally been exposed. In addition, they should be thrilled that the apocalyptic sword hanging over all of us has been sheathed. SHOULDN’T THEY?

But they’re not. Instead, there is silence, and excuses, and even anger that the truth has come out. There is only one explanation for this reaction. They’re sad that the illusion of doom has been punctured. They’re disappointed that the path to a world government has been lost. For Al Gore, Andrew Revkin, Phil Jones, Barbara Boxer and thousands of other journalists, writers, politicians and environmentalists, global warming was never about the earth. It was never about science. All of them, for money or prestige or a thousand other reasons, were a part of the scam.

Copyright2009MichaelKubacki

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WORRY

A couple days ago, I was listening to a radio show (The Dennis Prager Show), on the topic of worrying. It’s something we all do (some of us more than others), even though we know it’s a waste of time. That, in fact, was the theme of the broadcast---how useless it is to spend our lives worrying.

One caller was a woman who described a terrible accident she had had several years before when she had been hit by a truck. Thrown from her car, she was crumpled on the ground bleeding, in pain, unable to move, with various bones broken.

“As I was lying there,” she said, “wondering if I was going to live, a thought popped into my head. I thought: if I don’t survive this, I sure wasted a lot of time worrying about breast cancer.”

Copyright2009MichaelKubacki