People for the West -Tucson
PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868 email@example.com
Newsletter, August, 2015
Sustainability indoctrination invades our colleges
by Jonathan DuHamel
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has released a study of the “sustainability” movement in our colleges. The report is titled “Sustainability – Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism.” This 260-page report may be downloaded as a whole or by chapter from http://www.nas.org/projects/sustainability_report.
NAS characterizes the movement as follows: “‘Sustainability’ is a key idea on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world. To many, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word has come to mean something much larger: an ideology that demands new limits on economic, political, and intellectual freedom as the price that must be paid to ensure the welfare of future generations. This report is the first in-depth critical examination of the sustainability movement in higher education.”
Before getting to the NAS report, here is some background on “sustainability” taken from an article on my WryHeat blog:
“Sustainable development” and “sustainability” have become mantras of environmentalists, the UN, federal, state, and local governments, and even some corporations that strive to be politically correct. The City of Tucson has an Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development. Perusal of that site shows that City bureaucrats and administrators have swallowed carbon-dioxide flavored Kool-Aid and sing Kumbaya to each other. Pima County has a “Sustainable Action Plan” that begins: “This plan represents a systematic approach to integrating the goals of sustainability into virtually all facets of the way Pima County government operates—from the cars we drive, to the energy and water we consume, to the construction of our buildings, to the products we purchase, to the way in which we view and handle our ‘used’ materials.”
Sustainable development (aka Agenda 21) has its origins in a United Nations program. Henry Lamb of Sovereignty International traced its history in an article in Canada Free Press:
Agenda 21 was developed over a period of time, traceable from the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Environment, which identified “environmental protection” as the world’s greatest problem, and gave the world the U.N. Environmental Programme, followed almost immediately by Nixon’s Executive Order that created the EPA.
Then came the 1976 U.N. Conference on Human Settlements, signed by the U.S., which proclaimed that “Public control of land use is…indispensable.” The next major step was the creation of the U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland. The commission issued its final report in 1987, called Our Common Future. This document produced the concept and defined the term “Sustainable Development” to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This rather ambiguous definition was spelled out in great detail in a 40-chapter, 300-page document titled Agenda 21, signed and adopted by 179 nations in 1992 at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
A document from that 1976 UN conference states: “Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice…”
To repeat the definition: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
On the surface, that sounds all warm and fuzzy, perhaps even prudent. But below the surface we find impracticality and an assault on private property rights and liberty.
Sustainable development invariably involves giving some central authority control over the economy. The former Soviet Union is a good example of how badly that works.
The reason central planning doesn’t work is that we cannot know what the needs of future generations will be. The concept of sustainable development is actually one of arrogance.
Now, some excerpts from the executive summary and introduction of the NAS report:
“This report is the first in-depth critical study of the sustainability movement in higher education. The movement, of course, extends well beyond the college campus. It affects party politics, government bureaucracy, the energy industry, Hollywood, schools, and consumers. But the college campus is where the movement gets its voice of authority, and where it molds the views and commands the attention of young people.”
“We also examine the financial costs to colleges and universities in their efforts to achieve some of the movement’s goals. Often the movement presents its program as saving these institutions money. But we have found that American colleges and universities currently spend more than $3.4 billion per year pursuing their dreams of ‘sustainability’ at a time when college tuitions are soaring and 7.5 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed and another 46 percent underemployed. In addition to the direct costs of the movement, we examine the growing demands by sustainability advocates that colleges and universities divest their holdings in carbon-based energy companies without regard to forgone income or growth in their endowments. What makes ‘sustainability’ so important that institutions facing financial distress are willing to prioritize spending on it? In this report, we examine that question.”
“To the unwary, ‘sustainability’ is the newer name for environmentalism. But the goals of the sustainability movement are different. They go far beyond ensuring clean air and water and protecting vulnerable plants and animals. As an ideology, sustainability takes aim at economic and political liberty. Sustainability pictures economic liberty as a combination of strip mining, industrial waste, and rampant pollution. It pictures political liberty as people voting to enjoy the present, heedless of what it will cost future generations. Sustainability’s alternative to economic liberty is a regime of far-reaching regulation that controls virtually every aspect of energy, industry, personal consumption, waste, food, and transportation. Sustainability’s alternative to political liberty is control vested in agencies and panels run by experts insulated from elections or other expressions of popular will.”
How pervasive is the “sustainability” movement? NAS reports:
“There are upwards of 50 professional bodies to serve the intellectual and career interests of sustainability experts. There are 1,438 sustainability-focused academic programs at 475 campuses in 65 states and provinces to credential those experts.”
“Hundreds of millions of dollars in private philanthropy have been channeled into sustainability research. Government agencies, too, have poured billions into academic research aligned with the sustainability movement’s agenda. The EPA alone has spent more than $333 million in the last 15 years sponsoring sustainability fellowships, predominantly for college and university professors, in addition to another $60 million in sustainability research grants. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records show more than $3 billion in grants for climate science research since 1998 (more than $89 million in 2014), while the National Institutes of Health has granted in the last four years alone $28 million for research on climate change and another $580 million on ‘Climate-Related Exposures and Conditions.’ The National Science Foundation records show more than $1.7 billion since 1998 in sustainability research grants. The National Endowment for the Arts invested $2 million over the same period. The disparity in date ranges available in government grant databases makes direct comparisons difficult. But these numbers indicate an average of $465 million in federal funding for sustainability and climate change research each year—though in recent years government funding for climate research has increased substantially.”
Could you think of some better use for those funds, time, and energy?
The NAS report concludes with 10 recommendations in the form of advice to colleges and universities to uphold with greater vigor their traditional standards.
[This article was originally published in the Arizona Daily Independent.]
Social Cost of Carbon (SCC)
Besides “sustainability,” another boogeyman, social cost of carbon, is used as an excuse to increase government controls.
The House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the process and development of the Obama Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), a controversial statistical model that is being incorporated into all environmental reviews subject to approval under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) commented:
“The Obama Administration has given itself – and future administrations – a mammoth blank check to stop any project based on a radical fantasy. The Social Cost of Carbon is exactly that – a social restructuring of the way Americans live their lives. This unprecedented authority, disguised as an innocuous guideline for regulatory analysis, is a dangerous ideological weapon for the Administration. The numbers can be so easily manipulated that it simply allows any Administration to pick winners and losers, but the American people and the American way of life will be the ultimate losers.”
Marlo Lewis explains the basics and highlights some of the testimony in the excerpts below (read full article):
First some background. The social cost of carbon (SCC) is the present discounted value of cumulative damages allegedly inflicted on society by an incremental metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over a period of decades to centuries.
Discernible in neither meteorological nor economic data, carbon’s social cost exists in the virtual world of “integrated assessment models” (IAMs) — computer programs that combine speculative climatology with speculative economics. By fiddling with non-validated climate parameters, made-up damage functions, and below-market discount rates, SCC analysts can get almost any result they desire.
What they typically desire is to make fossil fuels look unaffordable no matter how cheap, and renewables look like a bargain at any price. However curious as an academic exercise, when used to make or influence public policy, SCC analysis is computer-aided sophistry.
Agencies have an incentive to periodically increase SCC estimates to make their regulations look more valuable.
In just four short years, climate change somehow got 60% worse and CO2 reductions 60% more valuable. Yet during that period, climate models increasingly overestimated global warming, and multiple datasets still showed no clear link between climate change and the frequency and strength of storms, droughts, and floods. Your tax dollars at work!
Patrick Michaels testified that SCC calculation use a value for climate sensitivity to CO2 that is much too high based on empirical evidence. (Climate sensitivity is an estimate of how much warming results from a doubling of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas concentrations.)
The SCC models fail to take into account the benefits of CO2 fertilization on plant life, particularly food plants. The administration’s SCC analysis is structurally biased. Literally thousands of empirical observations show that rising CO2 concentrations increase crop yields. Combining such information with economic data from the Food and Agriculture Organization on 45 of the world’s most important food crops, climate researcher Craig Idso (see paper) estimates that CO2 fertilization boosted global agricultural output by $3.2 trillion during 1961-2011 and will increase output by another $9.8 trillion during 2012-2050. Only one of the three SCC models considered this and that one paper underestimated the effects by a factor of 2- to 3.
Michaels opines that if all three models incorporated Idso’s CO2 fertilization effect, SCC estimates would be very low or, in some computations, even “negative,” meaning the net impact of CO2 is beneficial.
In other testimony Kevin Dayaratna, a statistician and senior programmer for the Heritage Foundation, finds that the SCC models are “far too sensitive to the modeler’s assumptions to be legitimate tools for regulatory policy.”
CLIMATE CHANGE CIRCUS
Nature is not cooperating with the warming climate orthodoxy.
According to the CBC News Canada:
Worst ice conditions in 20 years force change of plans to icebreaker research program.
A carefully planned, 115-day scientific expedition on board the floating research vessel, the CCGS Amundsen, has been derailed as the icebreaker was called to help resupply ships navigate heavy ice in Hudson Bay.
Another CBC News story reports: Ice-jammed ferry in strait off Newfoundland wears down passenger patience. Passengers who have already waited a week or more to board a ferry between northern Newfoundland and southern Quebec are growing increasingly frustrated by sea ice that has filled the Strait of Belle Isle. This was the worst ice in 10 years.
A new study, “Variability and trends in global drought” finds that, although local conditions were variable, the percent of land in drought globally has not changed in the last century (full paper).
Solar Cycle Changes Indicate a Cooling Period Ahead
The British Meteorological Office (the MET) is predicting the end of our current solar cycle warm phase which portends cooler temperatures during the next 40 years. See the story on Wryheat.
More Wet Dry Summers To Come For The UK!
By Paul Homewood
“Scientists” say that summers in the UK are getting wetter. Meanwhile other “scientists” say that climate change is leading to drier summers. Meanwhile, back in the real world: it is apparent that rainfall in the last decade has been pretty much par for the course, with little sign of any drastic changes up or down. Read more
New paper finds increased CO2 or methane will have ‘essentially no effect’ upon global temperature or climate
– The Hockey Schtick blog
The writers investigated the greenhouse effect using their adiabatic model, which relates the global temperature of troposphere to the atmospheric pressure and solar radiation. This model allows one to analyze the global temperature changes due to variations in mass and chemical composition of the atmosphere. Even significant releases of anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere do not change average parameters of the Earth’s heat regime and have no essential effect on the Earth’s climate warming.
Moreover, based on the adiabatic model of heat transfer, the writers showed that additional releases of CO2 and CH4 lead to cooling (and not to warming as the proponents of the conventional theory of global warming state) of the Earth’s atmosphere. The additional methane releases possess a double cooling effect: First, they intensify convection in the lower layers of troposphere; Second, the methane together with associated water vapor intercept part of the infrared solar irradiation reaching the Earth. Thus, petroleum production and other anthropogenic activities resulting in accumulation of additional amounts of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have practically no effect on the Earth’s climate.
Physically, an explanation of the cooling effect of the atmosphere with the high content of “greenhouse gases” is the high efficiency of the convective heat transfer from the planet’s surface to the lower stratosphere, from which this heat is rapidly dissipating into the outer space through radiation. As the greenhouse gases absorb the Earth’s heat radiation in the lower layers of troposphere, its energy transforms into the heat oscillations of the gas molecules. This, in turn, leads to expansion of the gas mixture and its rapid ascent to the stratosphere where the heat excess is lost through radiation into the outer space.
To replace these volumes of the warm air, the already cooled air descends from the upper troposphere. As a result, the global average atmospheric temperature slightly decreases. One particular consequence of it is that with an increase in the carbon dioxide and methane contents in troposphere the convective mass exchange of the atmospheric gases must substantially accelerate. Thus, it is not out of the question that the intensification of synoptic processes in Earth troposphere (but not temperature increase) may be a result of the carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” accumulation.”
Related post: Feynman explains how gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy convert to create the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect, without greenhouse gases.
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“There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art, science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science, art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.” -Raymond Thornton Chandler, writer (23 Jul 1888-1959)
Britain to cut renewable energy subsidies:
Subsidies for new wind farms and solar power plants are set to be cut as ministers move to protect millions of families from rising energy bills. If left unchecked, the rising costs would mean every household in the country would be forced to pay an estimated £160 to £170 a year by 2020 to support renewable electricity developments. – Tim Ross, The Telegraph
The Arctic — Our Last Energy Frontier
By Lauren Aragon
As the Arctic Ocean ice thaws, countries prepare to tap into the vast energy resources currently trapped beneath the Arctic Ocean. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the Arctic could hold as much as 12 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, not including unconventional oil and gas deposits. Of that, the portion of the Arctic belonging to the United States could hold 33 percent of total oil and 18 percent of total natural gas in the Arctic. Read more
Study: Wind Farms Even More Expensive And Pointless Than You Thought
by James Delingpole
The cost of wind energy is significantly more expensive than its advocates pretend, a new US study has found. But when you take into account the true costs of wind, it’s around 48 per cent more expensive than the industry’s official estimates – according to new research conducted by Utah State University. Read more Read study
Wind Turbines Trigger Danger Response in the Brain
By Sarah Knapton
Living near a wind turbine could harm emotional well being after scientists discovered that low frequency sounds generated by rotor blades trigger a part of the brain which senses danger. Brain scans show that even infrasound as low as 8hz – a whole octave below the traditional cut off point for human hearing – is still being picked up by the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain which translates sounds into meaning. And a separate part of the brain, linked to emotions, also lit up when the seemingly ‘inaudible’ noises were played to volunteers in a lab. Read more
Ethanol and Biodiesel: Guilty as Charged
by Paul Driessen, TownHall
Two notorious crooks are helping us wrap up another sordid episode in the saga of the United States biofuel mandates, while further highlighting how bungled and long past its expiration date the program is Congress concocted the mandates over fears that US gasoline demand would rise forever and keep the United States dependent on foreign oil, as America’s supposedly limited reserves were depleted. The mandates currently require that we blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline every year, and produce over a billion gallons of biodiesel. They hammer us consumers every time we fill our tanks. Turning corn into ethanol requires vast amounts of land, fertilizers, pesticides, tractor and truck fuel, and natural gas for distillation. It enriches some farmers but raises animal feed prices and thus the cost of beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish and international food aid. Biodiesel from restaurant waste oil makes some sense, but making it from palm oil or soybeans has similar negative ecological impacts.
The ethanol mandate encourages farmers to plow wildlife habitats and fallow fields to grow corn, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide. Ethanol gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline, so motorists get fewer miles per tank and per dollar. It produces ozone, attracts water and corrodes car and small engine components, forcing us to spend billions on repairs. Read more
WildEarth Guardians’ natural habitat is a courtroom
By Patrick Kelly
Though a relatively small organization with only 26 people on staff, WildEarth Guardians’ litigious nature has established the environmental advocacy group as a dominant voice in the national debate about environmental policy.
From 2010 to present, Guardians have initiated a total of 152 cases in federal district courts and 55 in the Circuit Court of Appeals for a total of 207 cases. In 2010 alone they filed 61 claims — an average of about one per week.
However, Guardians’ pervasiveness in the courts has not gone without criticism.
In a 2012 analysis of WildEarth Guardians’ legal activity, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity claimed that Guardians has been “misusing the judicial system, exploiting poorly-written laws and taking advantage of taxpayers to pursue a narrow, litigation-driven, special interest agenda.” Read more
Pesticide Residues in Food No Danger to Consumers
By Ross Pomeroy
A new analysis published in the International Journal of Food Contamination shows that pesticide residues in food are at levels far below those that would pose any health concern.
Armed with the most recent data, collected between 2004 and 2005 on 2,240 food items, Dr. Carl K. Winter, a food scientist at UC-Davis, estimated Americans’ daily exposure to pesticide residues from food. He then compared the exposure for each pesticide to its known chronic reference dose, an estimate of the amount of a chemical an individual could be exposed every day without any appreciable risk of harm over his or her lifetime. These doses are extremely conservative, often inflated by two orders of magnitude to ensure consumer safety.
The FDA examination detected residues from 77 different pesticides in the collection of 2,240 food items. Winter’s analysis showed that exposure to every single one of them was well below their respective chronic reference doses (RfD). Read more
Let’s Fix Our National Parks, Not Add More
by Reed Watson and Scott Wilson, PERC
In Yosemite National Park, officials need roughly $19 million to upgrade an aging sewer system to prevent spills like the one that leaked thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Merced River 15 years ago. In Grand Canyon National Park, more than $100 million is needed to repair the water system and $44 million to fix the trail network for the park’s four million visitors a year.
Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. Earlier this year, the park service announced that the cost of deferred maintenance had reached $11.5 billion.
Included in the backlog: $5.6 billion for park roads, $1.8 billion for buildings, nearly $473 million for trails, $255 million for wastewater systems and $62 million for campgrounds.
Unfortunately, the park service is not alone. At last estimate, the maintenance backlog for its parent agency, the Interior Department, which also includes the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, was put at between $13.2 billion and $19.3 billion.
Despite this, in December President Obama effectively spread the maintenance budget even thinner by adding seven new parks totaling approximately 120,000 acres to the park system. The administration also supports re-authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which devotes up to $900 million annually from offshore oil and gas leases to federal land acquisitions and state recreational grants — but nothing explicitly for the maintenance of our federal lands.
Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and grazing lands it currently owns. Rather than using the conservation fund to acquire more land, Congress should use the money to help address the deferred maintenance backlog.
True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself. Read more
EPA Said Global Warming Unproven To Obtain A Legal Ruling For Their Climate Regulations
by Dr. Tim Ball
Massachusetts and several other states petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking EPA to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming from new motor vehicles. The EPA argued the Clean Air Act does not authorize them to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. It is here they had to argue that the information is insufficient about global warming to reach a conclusion and requires more research. They said they had the authority not to act.
…the Agency had discretion to defer a decision until more research could be done on “the causes, extent and significance of climate change and the potential options for addressing it.”
This contradicts the certainties of the IPCC. Their Summary For Policymakers (SPM) written specifically for agencies like the EPA.
The Court rejected the EPA’s argument that the Clean Air Act was not meant to refer to carbon emissions in the section giving the EPA authority to regulate “air pollution agent[s]”. The Act’s definition of air pollutant was written with “sweeping,” “capacious” language so that it would not become obsolete.
This outcome is precisely what the EPA wanted. They acted to lose and thus have the power of the US Supreme Court to justify their action. Read more
Black Chamber of Commerce: EPA Clean Air Plan Will Increase Black Poverty 23%, Strip 7,000,000 Black Jobs
By Ali Meyer
(CNSNews.com) – A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2.1 million black-owned businesses in the United States, found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan would increase black poverty by 23 percent and cause the loss of 7 million jobs for black Americans by 2035.
The study also found that the EPA’ plan would increase Hispanic poverty by 26 percent and cause the loss of 12 million jobs for Hispanic Americans by 2035. Read more Read full report here.
Electric Vehicles: More Harm than Good?
By Lauren Aragon
A recent study by Stephen P. Holland from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro and other economics and business professors has found the environmental benefits and harms of electric cars vary state by state. The federal government currently awards a subsidy of $7500 for each electric vehicle bought, with some states adding their own subsidies to such purchases. Such subsidies reflect current movements towards green policies.
Electric vehicles, however, are clearly not “zero emission vehicles.” First of all, the components of those vehicles are made in factories most likely powered by fossil fuels. Second, the electricity used for the vehicles themselves comes from power plants across the United States, where around 70 percent of power plants operate on natural gas or coal. In most areas around the country, driving an electric vehicle means choosing to burn coal and natural gas rather than burning oil.
Due to differences in energy production by states, using electric vehicles may be better in some states while continuing to drive gas-powered cars in others may be best. In California, for example, the electric grid is relatively clean while gasoline vehicles produce more environmental damages. In North Dakota, the opposite is true as the electric grid uses more coal.
The report found that on average electric cars are about half-a-cent worse per mile for the environment than gas-powered cars. However, gas-powered cars are worse in congested urban areas while electric cars are worse outside of metropolitan areas. A one-size-fits-all policy regarding electric cars therefore does not make sense. The federal subsidy should be eliminated, leaving only state subsidies for electric vehicles where they already exist. Source
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“When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, ‘we the people’ are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our ‘public servants’ are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words. This decision makes next year’s choice of the next President of the United States more crucial than ever, because with that office goes the power to nominate justices of the Supreme Court.” —Thomas Sowell
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Visit Jonathan’s Wryheat Blog:
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The Constitution is the real contract with America.
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