People for the West -Tucson
Newsletter, January, 2018
PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868
Real environmentalism can go hand in hand with natural resource production, private property rights, and access to public lands
Some Thoughts on Property Rights and Conservation
by Jonathan DuHamel
We begin 2018 with an examination of the often adversarial relationship between property rights, conservation policy, and environmental laws. As a preface, read my article from 2010:
Repeal the Endangered Species Act
That post starts: “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) should be repealed because it provides no positive incentive for conservation, it tramples on property rights, it destroys industries, it is very expensive, and it is ineffective. The ESA should be replaced with a voluntary, non-regulatory, incentive-based act. Make conservation profitable.”
Below are two essays on the endangered species act and conservation from the libertarian point of view by Jonathan Wood, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF). Following those articles are two case studies showing how the bureaucracy is not kind to property rights.
Matching the Endangered Species Act’s incentives with its ethics
by Jonathan Wood, “Freecology, Libertarian environmentalism” (lightly edited)
It looks increasingly likely that Congress will attempt to overhaul the Endangered Species Act next year. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, recently announced that ESA reform will be one of his major objectives and expressed confidence he’ll get something done. There are at least five ESA-related proposals currently before Congress, ranging from species-specific changes to how the statute is administered to broader reforms requiring greater consideration of economic impacts.
Recognition that the statute needs to be reconsidered is not limited to the right. In the Washington Post, professors Peter Alagona and James Salzman, who oppose the proposals currently before Congress, nonetheless argue that reform is needed and should focus on matching the ESA’s ethics with its incentives.
As any student of economics knows, incentives matter. The fundamental political problem with the act is that its incentives don’t match its ethics. Conserving endangered species benefits everyone in society, but a small number of people bear the cost , usually the landowners whose property use could be restricted if a protected species turns up.
Having an endangered species on one’s land can too often be seen as a burden. Roughly 90 percent of endangered species may be found on private lands, so this is not a small issue. Reforms should focus first and foremost on shifting the perception of endangered species as a liability into a potential asset.
The ESA’s ethics, protecting imperiled species from extinction, are laudable and overwhelmingly popular. But those motives only get you so far. They suggest that something should be done, but not what.
The ESA has to be judged on its effects and, although contested, it’s pretty clear that the statute creates incentives that undermine conservation rather than encouraging recovery and it imposes often significant burdens in an unfair way. As I’ve written before, disputes over whether the ESA is a failure because less than 2% of listed species have recovered or a success because only 1% of listed species have gone extinct obscure more than they reveal.
Some efforts to conserve endangered species are effective, including state-led conservation programs and voluntary conservation undertaken by environmental groups. The controversial parts of the statute . . . not so much. The prohibition against the take of listed species and the designation of critical habitat are responsible for much of the statute’s bad incentives. The take prohibition encourages preemptive habitat destruction and makes it more difficult to pursue recovery efforts. Critical habitat similarly encourages the destruction of habitat and discourages its creation. Together, these restrictions make a rare species’ presence on private property a significant liability.
Fixing these incentive problems will require a more fundamental change to the ESA than any of the currently proposed bills. It would require a shift away from heavy-handed regulations to positive encouragement for the improvement of habitat and recovery of species’ populations. Sticks can be effective at discouraging activity, but spurring action requires a carrot. (Source) ☼
Environmental bureaucracy undermines the trust needed to promote conservation
by Jonathan Wood, Freecology – libertarian environmentalism
Trust is important, especially so for conservation. Successful conservation depends on the collaboration of many people: environmentalists, scientists, property owners, industry, and, often, government bureaucrats. Without trust, few will be willing to cooperate for fear that others won’t hold up their end of the bargain or will use the collaboration to take advantage of them. Everyone has something to gain from maintaining trust—and something to lose if it’s eroded.
Conservation as policing undermines trust by pitting the government against the people it needs to cooperate. There’s a reason, for instance, lawyers advise everyone to demand a lawyer before talking to the police, even if they’d done nothing wrong: a cop and a suspect are not collaborating to find the truth, the cop is trying to find some way to charge the suspect for something. Thus, cooperating can inadvertently land an innocent person in the soup if they say the wrong thing without realizing it.
If a property owner knows that there will be significant consequences to an activist or bureaucrat learning about some environmental asset on her land, she’ll take great pains to forbid anyone from finding out, perhaps even going to far as to destroy the asset. That’s what happens under the so-called shoot, shovel, and shut up response to finding an endangered species on private property.
This effect is not limited to property owners who are opposed to conservation. Even those who want to be willing participants in conservation are concerned about the fallout from sharing information with government. When Texas tried to develop a conservation plan to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard in the Permian basin, one of the biggest obstacles was landowners’ concern that the state would share information about the habitat and species on their property with federal bureaucrats.
The property owners trusted the state not to use that information against them, but did not have the same trust of the feds. They feared that, once the federal agency knew where the animals and habitat were, significant regulatory burdens would soon follow, effectively punishing the landowners for their cooperation. The problem was resolved when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to let the state report data on a regional level, so that it could track how the conservation was going overall but wouldn’t have information for individual properties. Several activists challenged that agreement but, thankfully, the D.C. Circuit approved it as a reasonable compromise between the need to ensure the conservation efforts were succeeding and the need to promote trust between property owners and regulators. [Disclaimer: I filed an amicus brief supporting that result.]
Unfortunately, our too-often reliance on the administrative state to promote environmental values, rather than markets and private action, undermines trust and makes collaboration and compromise more difficult. Administrative law makes it too easy for administrative agencies to sacrifice long-term trust for short-term political gains. Read more ☼
Federal Court Rules for Ranchers, Against Forest Service in Property Rights Case
By Joe Barnett
A federal court upheld the right of a New Mexico family of ranchers to access water on federal lands, determining the right dated back to the Territory of New Mexico.
The case was brought by the Sacramento Grazing Association (SGA), a family-owned ranching enterprise with roots dating back to 1885.
In the 1980s, USFS began fencing off some bodies of water in the Lincoln National Forest to protect critical habitat of the Sacramento Mountains Thistle and two other endangered species. These areas included bodies of water SGA had long used.
Throughout the 1990s, SGA and USFS battled and negotiated over SGA’s right to continue using the water. In 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological opinion recommending livestock be permanently excluded from fenced-off areas on the forest’s Sacramento Allotment, in order to protect the endangered species. This decision prompted James and Frances Goss, the owners of the family ranch, to file a lawsuit requesting compensation for the USFS taking of property rights to the water. Read more ☼
Americans, Property Rights and the Supreme Court
by Ken Blackwell
Kelo v. City of New London stands as the apogee of Supreme Court cases regarding property rights, especially for conservatives. A narrow 5-4 decision recklessly expanded the scope of eminent domain, allowing private developers and the government to collude and forcibly take private property away from citizens for “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Now the Court is faced with another landmark case on property rights that will once again be a defining moment for conservatives.
Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC (Oil States for short) asks the court to decide the scope and power of the Patent and Trademark Appeals Board (PTAB), and whether this unaccountable government agency can extra-constitutionally extinguish “… private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.” The PTAB (which is part of the Patent and Trademark Office) was created to provide another venue for challenging the validity of patents. This extra-judicial system has allowed ideology driven decisions to invalidate pre-existing patents, as in the case of Oil States, in clear violation of the patent holder’s property rights.
Last month, dozens of conservative leaders issued a “Memo for the Movement” which called for an innovation and economic competitiveness agenda that included the need for stronger patent protections, including the need to reign in the out-of-control Patent Trail and Appeal Board “… an administrative tribunal created after previous congressional reform and has been labeled a “patent death squad” with the sole purpose of invalidating patents.”
Since its inception, the PTAB has become a rogue agency that has tramped on the rights of patent holders, invalidating a very high percentage of patents. Officials have even embraced the moniker of it being a “death squad for patents.” Virtually anyone can challenge a patent, multiple times and patent holders have fewer rights to protect them. Read more ☼
CLIMATE SCIENCE BASICS
Core of climate science is in the real-world data
by Dr Ian Flanigan
The scientific method for investigating a new idea is to pose two falsifiable hypotheses: the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis. The null hypothesis tests the most obvious explanation; and the alternative hypothesis tests the new theory that the scientist is bringing to bear on the issue.
In the context of global warming, the null hypothesis is that the warming observed since the onset of industrialization is due to natural causes; the alternative hypothesis is that this warming is due to anthropogenic carbon-dioxide emissions. Both hypotheses must be tested and the objective is to see which of these two hypotheses is incompatible with the data. That is, we are attempting to falsify one or the other or both of the hypotheses (since it is conceivable that there is another human-related cause of the global warming which has not yet been thought of).
One must begin by assembling all of the available data. The data we are concerned with in this issue are the temperature and atmospheric carbon-dioxide data. The temperature data consists of the meteorological record that has been collected using various instrumental techniques since the 1850s, and also data from various “proxy” sources that enable the temperature record to be inferred. This may be done from such techniques as the measurement of isotope ratios in gas samples extracted from ice cores and seabed cores.
The figure above shows one example of data derived from such proxy sources. The top panel of the figure shows a declining temperature trend over the 8,000-year period from the Holocene Climate Optimum to the modern warm period (left-hand scale). It also shows that this location experienced numerous cycles of warming and cooling that involved temperature changes of the order of two degrees Celsius.
The superimposition of the temperature data from the modern period instrumental record (red dotted line and right-hand scale) provide a very approximate context to the late 20th-century warming.
The lower panel shows that the carbon-dioxide concentration over the same period has been consistently increasing. Neither the cooling trend nor the cyclic behavior of temperature is reflected in the carbon-dioxide record in the lower panel. Therefore carbon dioxide cannot be causing the observed temperature changes. No causation can exist if there is no correlation.
These data clearly show that whatever effect carbon dioxide may have on the temperature, it is far outweighed by other factors: and this falsifies the hypothesis that carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming. The data show that there is nothing unusual about the current episode of increased global temperature in either its timing or its amplitude, which lies well within the bounds of natural variation. Read full post ☼
Global Agricultural Boom: A Million Thanks to Climate Change!
By Vijay Jayaraj
Global cereal (grain) production has reached record levels in 2017. Credit for the increase usually goes to agrochemicals and other advanced agricultural technology. However, there are two other key contributors — carbon dioxide and climate change.
World cereal production for 2017 is projected to reach 2,613.3 million tons, 5.8 million tons above 2016’s level and nearly one-fourth higher than 2008’s. Despite population growth, production per capita rose 13 percent over the last decade, from 0.31 to 0.35 tons per person.
Production of all the world’s staple food crops — such as rice, wheat, and other coarse grains like millet — has risen in the past decade.
Comparison with the period before 2008 is even more startling.
The global food production index — an index of crops considered edible and nutritious — has risen steadily in the past six decades. Doubling from 1983 to 2008, it grew more than twice as fast as population and has continued to rise.
Rice production, for example, rose almost 30 percent from 361.33 million tons in 1990 to around 506.5 million in 2017.
Yet climate alarmist scientists, politicians, and mainstream media claim that climate change would hinder global agricultural production.
There are two key reasons their claims are false — exaggeration of climate change and misconceptions regarding the biological impact of carbon dioxide.
The change in global average temperature has in fact been beneficial to life during the past 2,000 years. Global temperatures during the Roman Warm Period (around 0 A.D.) and the Medieval Warm Period (around 1000 A.D.) greatly aided human life by enhancing crop growth. The Modern Warm Period we are experiencing is in fact very similar to these earlier warm periods.
Global agricultural production suffered only during cold periods, including the Little Ice Age, which ended around the late 18th or early 19th century.
Since the 1800s, the earth has been warming — returning to levels ideal for crop production. It is remarkable that the mainstream media can claim that temperatures are killing crops when they have actually contributed to exponential growth of crop yields.
A second major reason for unprecedented growth in global vegetation, including crop yields, has been the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere during the past few centuries.
Increasing carbon dioxide has been a major driver of plant growth since the Little Ice Age. It contributed roughly $3.2 trillion worth of crop yield in 1960–2011 and can be expected to contribute another $9.8 trillion by 2050.
In other words, carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. But climate alarmists wrongly brand it a pollutant.
Studies in the fields of chemistry, physics, agro-science, and climatology all indicate that increased carbon dioxide is the major reason for the greening of the earth in the past two centuries, including substantially high growth in the past few decades.
The historic growth patterns of global vegetation, their real-time impact on agricultural output, and crop-specific studies all prove that the current climate patterns have aided in the progress of human civilization.
Claims of the adverse impact of global warming are myths propagated by global warming elites and radical environmentalists. They cannot be defended scientifically.
Both global warming and carbon dioxide have benefitted plant growth, and both are important contributors to the success of modern civilization.
If anything, the Modern Warm Period, with its high carbon dioxide concentration, has given us reason to celebrate this winter, not to fear.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in New Delhi, India. (Source) ☼
Wildfires: The wildfires raging in California have been blamed on global warming. Forester Jim Steele puts things in perspective:
Wildfires: Separating Demagoguery from the Science
by Jim Steele Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University
(Original article in Range Magazine)
The Fire Suppression Effect
The statistical rise in fires since 1970 is mostly due to changes in fire suppression policies. The debate over pros and cons of fire has a long history. Native Americans had used fire to promote favored food plants and wildlife. Fire historian Stephen Pyne noted timber owners and ranchers in California promoted the use of prescribed “light burning” in the 1880s to reduce fuels, maintain pastures and reduce the likelihood of larger more destructive fires. Small natural wildfires also created natural fire breaks and a patchy forest mosaic that reduced a fire’s ability to spread beyond a local patch. Unfortunately, a few terrifying fires led land managers to embark on a policy of complete fire suppression. The Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire of 1871 blackened 1.5 million acres and caused the deaths of 1,500 to 2,500 people. Fires threatened recently formed Yellowstone National Park in 1886, and the army was called in to fight it.
But by 1996 fire ecologist Thomas Swetnam echoed the growing consensus against fire suppression. He wrote, “The paradox of fire management in conifer forests is that, if in the short term we are effective at reducing fire occurrence below a certain level, then sooner or later catastrophically destructive wildfires will occur. Even the most efficient and technologically advanced firefighting efforts can only forestall this inevitable result. It is clear from many years of study and published works that the thinning action of pre-settlement surface fires maintained open stand conditions and thereby prevented the historically anomalous occurrence of catastrophic crown fires that we are experiencing in today’s Southwestern forests”
Around the 1970s, some government agencies began adopting “let it burn policies” if human habitat was not threatened. An increasing use of prescribed burns attempted to reduce abnormal fuel loads and restore the natural fire balance. But fire ecologists still “estimated that approximately 3 to 6 times more area must be burned to restore historical fire regimes.” The unnaturally low fire frequencies of the 1980s and 90s can be seen in Figure 5 from a 1999 research paper by Dr. Swetnam. Based on fire scars of old living trees from 64 southwest study sites, fires were 5 to 15 times more numerous and widespread between 1700 and 1880 than during the 1990s. When global warming demagogues argue climate change has now resulted in 5 times more fires than observed in the 1970s, they fail to inform the public this increase is largely due to a shift away from the previous complete fire suppression policy to selectively allowing fires to burn.
Not only were fires naturally more common before “global warming”, earlier fires could be huge. Newspaper articles from Tucson, Arizona reported individual fires that scorched over a million acres before 1890. Wisconsin’s Peshtigo Fire blackened 1.5 million acres in 1871 and over 3 million acres were torched in the Big Blowup (aka Great Fire of 1910). The largest fire in Canadian history was the Miramichi Fire of 1825 that burned 3 million acres in News Brunswick and extended into the state of Maine. Unfortunately, large fires are more likely today because past fire suppression has caused an unnatural build up fuels. Read more ☼
See a table from the National Interagency Fire Center showing fire frequency and acres burned in the U.S. from 1960 to 2016: https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.html
The annual number of fires from 1960 to 1982 are an order of magnitude higher than the annual fire numbers from 1983 to 2016. Climate alarmists cherry-pick these data and mention only that the number of fires rose from 1983 to 2016 and blame it on global warming. ☼
STATE OF THE UNION
Rights vs. Benefits – What’s the Difference?
By KrisAnne Hall, Freedom Outpost
Some Americans seem to be confused about the difference between Rights and Benefits. Influenced in part by manipulative politicians and pundits, this confusion has clouded the minds of the unsuspecting.
Here is a typical example of this confusion on Twitter: “I’m really liking how the GOP is rolling back abortion and birth control rights but doing nothing about gun control. Real pro-life there.”
How many people have you heard proclaim that there exists a right to healthcare, birth control, abortion, or some other government-granted thing?
Do they truly not understand what a right is?
Are they being deceptive or are they deceived?
Those Americans caught up in this deception are chasing after benefits, not rights.
A Right is something that you possess inherently by the nature of your creation.
Although it may cost to protect it, it is not confiscated from another on your behalf.
A benefit is payment or privilege given to you at the cost of another’s property.
Money must be confiscated from another citizen in order to pay for a benefit.
Samuel Adams, designer of our Constitutional Republic described rights as being “evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”
Another political philosopher, Frederic Bastiat writes with great clarity on the meaning of Rights and how government relates to those Rights:
“Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
Rights aren’t created by legislation. Rights are not granted by government.
Rights precede government. Government is created to protect rights. Read more ☼
“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” –Mark Twain (1866)
“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.” –Voltaire (1764)
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” -Milton Friedman
Qatar Runs Out of Sand!
by David Middleton
The future of the diplomatic crisis surrounding Qatar may come to hinge on an unlikely commodity: sand.
An analysis of Qatar’s export and import data conducted by Al Arabiya suggests that Qatar is facing serious challenges to meet its construction needs for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Sand is the world’s second most extracted natural resource after water. However, most of the cost in sand production is in transportation. The global economy has seen local shortages as a result of increased urbanization, especially in Asia where the crisis has been acutely felt. Some regions of India have banned sand-mining in recent months.
Sand is found in a wide range of products, from the glass screen in a smartphone to the fracking solution used in an oil well.
But it’s most common use, by far, is in construction where it is mixed with concrete.
Like much of the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is home to fields of scenic dunes. However, that desert sand is often too powdery to be used in construction, which relies on coarse riverbed sand. Read more ☼
Driving Electric Vehicles In China Increases CO2 Emissions
By Kenneth Richard
Electric Vehicle Emissions 27-50% Greater Than Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles
Why? Because China’s electricity grid is overwhelmingly powered by fossil-fuels (i.e., 88% of China’s energy consumption (2015) is derived from coal, oil and gas). Therefore, the energy used to charge up an electric vehicle in China is derived from a rapidly growing fossil fuel-based electrical grid.
Fossil fuel-powered electricity grids are growing in prevalence across the world. And this will continue to be the case as “1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries” which will “expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent” (New York Times, July, 2017).
As long as EVs continue to be predominantly powered by the growing fossil fuel infrastructure in China (“Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world”), driving EVs will not reduce CO2 emissions relative to driving ICEVs.
Put another way, purchasing and driving a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle will actually reduce China’s CO2 emissions. Read more ☼
* * *
1) Support private property rights.
2) Support multiple use management of federal lands for agriculture, livestock grazing, mining, oil and gas production, recreation, timber harvesting and water development activities.
3) Support a balance of environmental responsibility and economic benefit for all Americans by urging that environmental policy be based on good science and sound economic principles.
Newsletters can be viewed online on Jonathan’s Wryheat Blog:
See my essay on climate change:
The Constitution is the real contract with America.
* * *
People for the West – Tucson, Inc.
PO Box 86868
Tucson, AZ 85754-6868
Jonathan DuHamel, President & Editor
Dr. John Forrester, Vice President
Lonni Lees, Associate Editor
People for the West – Tucson, Inc. is an Arizona tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation. Newsletter subscriptions are free.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.