environment

How Greenpeace Games the System

This is a summary of a talk by Dr. Willie Soon presented at the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conference on July 20, 2019.

This analysis can be applied to many radical environmental organizations.

You can download the PDF – 75 pages- of the full paper upon which the talk is based. One of the authors of the paper is Dr. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace. Moore has dis-owned Greenpeace because of their policies.

Some excerpts from The Greenpeace Business Model:

Although Greenpeace relies heavily on marketing, advertising, and free market principles, they promote socialist and anti-capitalist ideals in their messaging.

Greenpeace has successfully created a public perception that they are fighting to protect humanity, nature and the environment from the evils of corrupt industries and vested interests. This perception is so popular and wide-spread that whenever Greenpeace speaks out on an issue it is automatically assumed to be true, and anybody who questions Greenpeace’s claims is assumed to be corrupt. However, as we will discuss in this report, the reality is almost exactly the opposite…

Greenpeace is a very successful business. Their business model can be summarized as follows:

1) Invent an “environmental problem” which sounds somewhat plausible. Provide anecdotal evidence to support your claims, with emotionally powerful imagery.

2) Invent a “simple solution” for the problem which sounds somewhat plausible and emotionally appealing, but is physically unlikely to ever be implemented.

3) Pick an “enemy” and blame them for obstructing the implementation of the “solution”. Imply that anybody who disagrees with you is probably working for this enemy.

4) Dismiss any alternative “solutions” to your problem as “completely inadequate”.

At each of the four stages, they campaign to raise awareness of the efforts that they are allegedly making to “fight” this problem. Concerned citizens then either sign up as “members” (with annual fees) or make individual donations (e.g., $25 or more) to help them in “the fight”. This model has been very successful for them, with an annual turnover of about $400 million. Although technically a “not for profit” organization, this has not stopped them from increasing their asset value over the years, and they currently have an asset value of $270 million– with 65% of that in cash, making them a cash-rich business. Several other groups have also adopted this approach, e.g., Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, WWF and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Although their business relies heavily on marketing, advertising, and free market principles, they promote socialist and anti-capitalist ideals in their messaging. As a result, their campaigning efforts appear to resonate strongly with left-leaning parties and liberal media. By draping themselves in “moral clothing”, Greenpeace has been very effective at convincing these progressive organizations that anything Greenpeace says is “good” and “true”, and whatever they criticize is “bad” and “corrupt”. However, as we discuss in this report, Greenpeace is not actually helping to protect the environment, or exposing real problems. Instead, they are:

1) Creating unnecessary feelings of guilt, panic and frustration among the general public. Greenpeace then make money off this moral outrage, guilt and helplessness.

2)Vilifying the innocent as “enemies”. Once you have been tarred by Greenpeace’s brush, any attempts to defend yourself are usually treated with suspicion or even derision.

3) Deliberately fighting honest attempts by other groups to tackle the “environmental problems” that Greenpeace claim need to be tackled.

4) Distorting the science to generate simplistic “environmental crises” that have almost nothing to do with the genuine environmental issues which should be addressed.

Conclusions about Greenpeace from the full paper:

1. They are intentionally fooling the public about the “vested interests” associated with each of their campaigns.

2. In order to create the impression that “the science is settled” on their campaign issues, they oversimplify the often quite-nuanced views of the scientific community, and simultaneously try to shut down any further scientific enquiry into the topic.

3. They are intentionally shutting down genuine discussion on implementing solutions on the environmental “crises” they claim to have identified.

4. They are distracting public attention away from genuine environmental concerns.

Related:

Book Review: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert, an IPCC Exposé (link) In this book, Canadian journalist Donna LaFramboise exposes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a fraud. LaFramboise spent two years investigating the IPCC. She says it acts like a spoiled teenager, hence the title of the book.

Private Property Rights vs Environmental Feudalism

We have seen, especially over the last 40 years, a determined assault on private property rights. It is not coincidental that the passing of the Endangered Species Act marks the beginning of this period. Preservationist groups have accomplished through government coercion what they could not get people to do voluntarily. Increasingly, the cost of perceived societal goals are not borne by society as a whole, but by individual property owners. This situation is nothing more than legal plunder, or as Frederic Bastiat put it, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

The U.S. Constitution states that “..nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” The problem of late, is that the definition of “taking” has been subject to debate in the courts. If government condemns private land for a public project, the issue is straight forward and the owner is usually compensated. But it has been less clear in the courts for the situations where a property owner has been denied beneficial use of all or part of a property through zoning ordinances, “growing smarter” schemes, conservation easements, habitat plans, ecosystem management districts, or for the alleged protection of endangered species, wetlands, historic districts, heritage areas, conservation areas, wilderness areas, wildlife preserves, buffer zones to the foregoing, or for the many other excuses government uses to restrict land use.

So what is the big deal about property rights anyway? Karl Marx: “The theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” The big deal is that private property rights are essential to a free society. These rights confer upon the owner the fruits of his labor, the right to the benefit from his work, his investments, and his ideas. Notice that places without private property rights are generally totalitarian regimes where the citizens are slaves to the government.

The concept of private property rights has a long history in western thought. Our founding fathers, particularly Madison and Jefferson, equated property rights with individual rights. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote of the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The later part of this trinity refers to property rights and seems to have been taken from philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty and estate.” Jefferson goes on to write, “a right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means by which we are endowed to satisfy those wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the equal rights of other sensible beings.”

Other western philosophers and statesmen reinforce these principles. For Jeremy Bentham, there were four inalienable rights: liberty, property, security (in the sense of the 4th Amendment) and the right of self-defense. Georg Hegel: “Right is in the first place the immediate embodiment which freedom gives itself in an immediate way, i.e., possession, which is property ownership.” Pope Pius XII: “Private property is a natural fruit of labor, a product of intense activity of man, acquired through his energetic determination to ensure and develop with his own strength his own existence and that of his family, and to create for himself and his own an existence of just freedom.” Friedrich von Hayek: “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.” U.S. Supreme Court (Lynch vs Household Finance, 1972): “The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights. The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less than the right to speak or the right to travel, is in truth, a ‘personal’ right…a fundamental interdependence exists between personal right to liberty and the personal right to property. Neither could have meaning without the other.”

Individual and property rights have long been under assault by governments. A warning by George Washington applies as well today as it did when he wrote, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own…”

The current great assault on our rights derives from environmental laws and their unconstitutional application. We have entered a state of Environmental Feudalism. As Karol Ceplo writes in Land Rights: “The ever-increasing use of regulation to restrict private property rights represents a profound change in the politics of land use. This movement has been described as a ‘new feudalism of regulation.’ The management of environmental resources has shifted from the private owner to a centralized bureaucracy, much as land use in medieval times was controlled by centralized royal or ecclesiastical powers, rather than by the people who lived on and worked the land.”

Local manifestations of environmental feudalism came in the form of draconian rules concerning the pygmy owl, in county interim regulations requiring set aside of 80% of land as mitigation to build on the remaining 20%, and in the scheme called the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

These changes did not happen over night, but evolved incrementally, just as James Madison warned, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” The road back may also be in small steps. The U.S. Supreme Court seems to have rediscovered the Constitution in many recent decisions, but so far, these decisions deal only with individual circumstances and form no overarching return to Constitutional government.

With the coming change in federal administration, we must insist that environmental laws be tempered with just notice to our rights, and that our representatives and senators return to the principles upon which this nation was founded.

 

See also:

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Environmental Sophistry

 

Sustainability indoctrination invades our colleges

According to the National Association of Scholars (NAS) “‘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.”

NAS has just released a study critical 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.

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.

Sustainable development (aka Agenda 21) has its origins in a United Nations program. Henry Lamb of Sovereignty International traces 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.

The NAS report excerpts:

“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.

See also:

Capitalism is not a zero sum game

Climate and Communism

Environmental Sophistry

The Collectivist Mind

How NEPA crushes productivity

Book Review: The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How It Shapes Our Planet

Anthropocene coverIn this book, author Christian Schwägerl claims that humans are irreversibly changing Earth’s biological, chemical, and geologic processes in a way that may threaten our existence. He is, however, hopeful that human intelligence and technology will forestall an apocalypse.

The term “Anthropocene” was proposed as a new geologic epoch by atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen in 2000. The idea has been much debated. This book attempts to justify Crutzen’s declaration.

Schwägerl cites the following reasons in justification: Population growth, increased human living space requirements, energy consumption and its consequences on climate, and, he contends, we are changing the future course of evolution, i.e. we are running populations of many plant and animal species down to the point of extinction.” (Didn’t a few ice ages and comets do that?) He also worries that “humans are beginning to create new life-forms through interbreeding, gene technology and more recently, biotechnical design.”

While some or all of the above may be true, these reasons do not fit the geologic definition of a new time division. Geologic time divisions require some global stratigraphic evidence in rock strata that can be preserved for millions of years. As Doug L. Hoffman explains:

“Named stratigraphic or geological time periods are identified by changes in the rock record. Within the rock of Earth’s crust is recorded the comings and goings of all the life forms to inhabit this planet. Major changes in climate, often associated with mass extinction events, can also be captured by Earth’s strata. Even events of cosmic origin, such as major asteroid impacts, can create a marker in stone.”

By that definition, designation of the “Anthropocene” as a new time division is premature at best.

Parts of Schwägerl’s book are very interesting, other parts are tedious.

In chapter 1, Schwägerl provides an excellent recount of the history of life on Earth with some scientific and political history and many anecdotes (including AZ biospherians) thrown in. His point: Each problem with living in an artificial ecosystem symbolizes the present situation of humanity. In the “Anthropocene,” the earth itself becomes one giant biospheric experiment, but without any emergency exits or windows to let in additional air.

In chapter 5, titled “Apocalypse No” Schwägerl scolds environmentalists about their Man versus environment stance:

“But the Apocalypse gurus seeking attention and making money by frightening people are mistaken. In all probability, the earth will not be destroyed in the foreseeable geological future, at least not in an apocalyptic sense. This means that we humans of today and our descendants will have to live with the long-term consequences of our present actions, good and bad. Even if climate change turns out to be worse than scientists at the IPCC fear, it will not lead to the end of the world or the collapse of civilization.”

Indeed, the Earth is resilient and will survive humans. Some speculation on this matter was presented in a very interesting book: “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman which shows how, if humans suddenly disappeared, Earth would reclaim the environment.

Overall, the book seems to be a mixture of geological history, environmental documentation, and neo-malthusian alarmism. The later chapters include the tired message that humans must reduce their use of fossil fuels and generally their footprint on the planet, all of which makes for some tedious reading.

As for the main contention that humans have become a geologic force, I refer to Will Durant who wrote: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”

In the end, I do not recommend this rather expensive book published by Synergetic Press. But if you want to read it, it is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Related review:

On Gaia, A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth by Toby Tyrrell

 

Replace the Environmental Protection Agency

Dr. Jay Lehr, science director of the Heartland Institute, proposes replacing the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a “Committee of the Whole” whose members are made up of representatives from the 50 state environmental protection agencies. That Committee of the Whole will establish a new headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, well-away from Washington, D.C.

Lehr has recently written a Policy Brief for Heartland, detailing his reasons for replacing EPA. You can read the entire brief at:
http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/lehr_-_replacing_epa_0.pdf

Below, are excerpts and paraphrases from that Brief:

The EPA has been taken over by environmental activists so that now “EPA is all but
a wholly owned subsidiary of liberal activist groups. Its rules account for about half of
the nearly $2 trillion a year cost of complying with all national regulations in the U.S.”

“It is tempting to imagine EPA can be ‘fixed,’ that its abuse of power and pursuit of political
agendas without regard to their effect on the environment could be stopped if only the right
people were appointed to run it, or perhaps if Congress passed laws requiring better science or
more cost-benefit analysis.”

But:
“The serious failures of environmental regulation … do not occur randomly or, for that matter, as a result of bad management (although this may occasionally be the case). Rather, they stem from deep-rooted institutional and political incentives that systematically bias the EPA’s decisions. Better science and risk assessment procedures, public participation, and civic education, in and of themselves, do little to counteract these biases, and may exacerbate them.”

Lehr notes that state environmental agencies have 30 years of experience in managing the environment and proposes a 5-year phase-out of the Federal EPA. If states took over, Lehr says we could eliminate 80 percent of the EPA budget and staffing could be reduced from “15,000 to 300, and those 300 would serve in the new national EPA headquarters to be located centrally in Topeka, Kansas.”

Lehr writes that, “Not only would this transition save large sums of money, but the efficiency and quality of environmental protection would be enhanced by placing power and responsibility in the hands of the individual states.”

This will place the regulators much closer to those regulated and, hopefully, be more responsive to those regulated.

Ironically, Lehr served on several advisory councils of the EPA during its first ten years and helped write a significant number of legislative bills that were to make up a true safety net for our environment. Now however, he says that the agency has gone rogue and must be replaced.

Dr. Lehr has a degree in geological engineering from Princeton University and received the nation’s first Ph.D. in groundwater hydrology from the University of Arizona.

Sagebrush Rebellion Redivivus

The following is adapted from a speech delivered by William Perry Pendley on April 23, 2014, at a Hillsdale College event in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is a good review of the “war on the west” by the federal government and the results of extreme environmentalism. This is a long article, but well worth reading.

For many or maybe even most Americans, reports that a rancher in Clark County, Nevada, was at odds with federal land bureaucrats, that scores of federal lawyers were litigating against him, and that SWAT-garbed and heavily armed federal law-enforcement officers had surrounded his place might have come as a surprise. They might have been even more surprised, in the wake of this standoff—which ended short of deadly escalation thanks in part to negotiations by a local sheriff—to hear that over 50 elected officials from nine Western states had gathered in Utah to discuss a state takeover of a significant portion of federally owned land in the American West. But Westerners—especially rural Westerners who make a living on the federal lands that predominate beyond the hundredth meridian, by logging, mining, ranching, or developing energy resources—were not surprised at all.

What has been most lacking in the reporting on these stories is the background of the disputes. And it should be stated up front, in all fairness, that the Obama administration is not unique in pursuing policies anathema to Westerners. On that score, it has simply followed the examples of the Carter and Clinton administrations.

In the late 1970s, President Carter’s “War on the West” spawned what came to be known as the Sagebrush Rebellion, which Ronald Reagan embraced during his campaign for president in 1980: “I happen to be one who cheers and supports the Sagebrush Rebellion,” candidate Reagan proclaimed in a speech in Salt Lake City. “Count me in as a rebel.” The uprising was spurred by the fact that, more than any other region, the American West had been victimized by the environmental policies implemented—utterly regardless of their destructive economic and human consequences—during the previous two decades. Reagan had seen firsthand the transformation of the environmental movement from one of conservation and stewardship, in which the part played by human beings and technology was vital, to a movement in which humans and technology were understood to be enemies of nature. As articulated by Reagan, opposition to extreme environmentalism represented a return to true environmentalism. America’s “environmental heritage” will not be jeopardized, he promised, while at the same time insisting that “we are going to reaffirm that the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment.”

In terms of the public land issue, Reagan blamed “a tiny minority opposed to economic growth” for locking up federal lands that hold “probably 70 percent of the potential oil in the United States,” and he vowed to support the use of federal lands to meet America’s energy, economic, and foreign policy needs. As former governor of California, he knew all too well that the federal government owns a third of the land that makes up the United States, the vast majority of this being in the West. Federal holdings include nearly a third of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington; roughly half of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Wyoming; and two-thirds or more of Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. By comparison, the three non-Western states with the most federal land are New Hampshire at 14 percent, Florida at 13 percent, and Michigan at ten percent.

Some portion of this federally owned land, of course, consists of parks, which are preserved for public recreation. Other parts are wilderness areas, where motorized activity is barred. But most of the land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service is open, by law, to “multiple use” activities, including cattle grazing, recreation, and energy and mineral development. This is the land where disputes arise over use—and it is in these disputes where the Obama administration has picked up where the Carter and Clinton administrations left off, adopting the no-use policies promoted by environmental groups who view all federal lands as off limits to productive human activity.

A typical way these policies get implemented is for environmental interest groups to sue a government agency under either the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and for the agency then to settle the lawsuit in the interest group’s favor. Sometimes—as in a 2008 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service by three environmental groups to prevent oil, gas, and mineral extraction in Pennsylvania—the government not only settles the lawsuit but also pays the interest groups for their complaints (in that case paying out nearly $20,000). Just last month, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over such “sue and settle” tactics following an ESA lawsuit by a group called Wild Earth Guardians that sought to restrict land use for agriculture, oil and gas drilling, wind farms, and other activities in a five-state area—Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Kansas—inhabited by the lesser prairie chicken. “These settlements,” Pruitt said in a statement, “impose tougher regulations and shorter timelines than those imposed by Congress,” and thus violate the rule of law. “Oklahoma has indicated its willingness to protect the lesser prairie chicken,” he added, “but it seems increasingly clear this issue isn’t about sound science or saving endangered species.”

Following a recent report by the Government Accountability Office on how NEPA is being used to delay projects on federal lands, Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research characterized NEPA’s effect as “paralysis by analysis,” pointing out that “environmental impact statements, which were expected to take no more than 12 months 30 years ago, now take an estimated 4.6 years to complete.” NEPA’s consequences are wide-ranging: Since its passage in 1969, not a single new oil refinery has been built. Following forest fires in the West, as reported by the National Forest Association, “[NEPA] regulations . . . [delay] harvests of diseased or burned timber indefinitely. As such, usable salvage timber wastefully rots away, resulting in lost government income . . . and economic privation for local communities.” And after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, it was too little noted that twice—in 1977 and in 1996—plans to build a hurricane barrier and to raise and strengthen the levees were halted by environmentalist NEPA lawsuits.

Today the Keystone XL Pipeline—a decision about which has again been delayed, until late this year at the earliest—is only the most publicized of the promising projects, in terms of both economic prosperity and national defense, which are being delayed and/or prevented by NEPA requirements. For example, rare earth elements are critical to today’s high-tech and transportation industries, telecommunications, military uses, and clean energy technology, and China currently has 95 percent of the world’s supply of these elements—“The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths,” said former Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping. Despite this, rare earth mines in both Wyoming and California seem to have been put on permanent hold. One company that submitted its operations plan in 2012 has been told that the NEPA process will not be completed, at best, until late 2015.

Executive agencies can also simply implement the extremist environmental agenda on their own. This is how the Obama administration’s “war on coal” is being waged following the failure to pass the president’s “cap and trade” legislation even in the Democrat-controlled Senate. This January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set limits on how much carbon dioxide new coal-fired power plants are allowed to produce—limits that will require expensive and unproven technology, severely limiting the likelihood of new plants being built. This follows past regulation that will force the retirement of more than 30,000 megawatts of power capacity by the end of 2016. Later this year, the EPA plans to establish limits for already existing power plants, with devastating implications for coal-rich Western states such as Wyoming, which generates more coal annually than the next six coal-producing states combined. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska points out that “89 percent of the coal electricity capacity that is due to go offline [due to regulation] was utilized as backup” to meet demand for energy during the harsh winter that just ended. Not only she and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but also liberal Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, have worried that these EPA regulations will threaten the ability of America’s power grid to meet future demand.

According to the Congressional Research Service, from 2009 through 2013, oil and natural gas production on private land was up 61 percent and 33 percent, respectively; on federal lands, by contrast, oil production was down eleven percent and gas production was down 28 percent. This is no mere coincidence. The Monterey/Santos oil field in California is estimated to hold more than twice the oil of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford oil field in west Texas combined, but its development is on hold because federal lands are involved.

Apparently wishing to slow production even further, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar—ignoring that hydraulic fracturing has been regulated successfully by states for 60 years—proposed new fracking regulations that will add $345 million in annual costs to Western energy development. Regulatory costs as a whole, it should be noted, are at a record high: Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute places the total costs of federal regulations in the U.S. in 2013 as greater than the GDPs of either Canada or Mexico.

Salazar’s successor, Sally Jewell, is not only pressing forward with redundant hydraulic fracturing rules, but is threatening the West with the use of President Obama’s power, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, to prevent economic activity with massive national-monument designations. This was a tactic of the War on the West that President Clinton raised to an art form—most famously announcing, in a speech set against the backdrop of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the closure of 1.8 million acres to economic activity, including what might have become the world’s largest high-quality, low-sulfur coal mine in economically hard-pressed southern Utah.

In her most egregious move yet, Jewell signed off on a decision by the EPA to put a million acres of Wyoming land—including the entire town of Riverton, Wyoming, with a population of over 10,000—into the Wind River Indian Reservation, despite the indisputable historical fact that this land was ceded to the U.S. in a 1904 agreement between the United States and the Tribes, and in opposition to a unanimous 1998 U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding a comparable situation in South Dakota.

It is difficult to exaggerate the quasi-religious zeal with which the War on the West is waged. Two years ago, a video surfaced of a training lecture on regulatory enforcement by the head of the EPA’s Region Six office, which oversees Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. This senior administrator, who was appointed by President Obama in 2009, cited the Roman Empire as the inspiration for his mode of operation: “The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.” The same year he gave this talk, his office charged in an emergency order that a Fort Worth-based drilling company had contaminated groundwater in Texas’s Parker County through hydraulic fracturing. A year-and-a-half later the emergency order was withdrawn and the case was dismissed in a federal court, but only after a judge criticized the agency for seeking penalties without first investigating the truth of the charges. A commissioner on the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling in the state, accused EPA’s Region Six office of “fear mongering [and] gross negligence.”

Recently the EPA issued new regulations to redefine “wetlands,” the term of art by which the agency determines the reach of the Clean Water Act. Under these regulations, a Wyoming man named Andy Johnson—a welder who owns an eight-acre farm—has been targeted because he and his wife built a stock pond on their property and brought in brook and brown trout, ducks, and geese. The EPA is threatening civil and criminal penalties—including a $75,000-a-day fine—because Johnson failed to receive permission for his pond from the Army Corps of Engineers. (His permit from the Wyoming State Engineer’s office is irrelevant, according to the EPA.) So far Johnson has defied an EPA order to hire a consultant to assess the environmental impact of his stock pond and to propose a restoration project to be completed within 60 days of EPA approval. “This goes a lot further than a pond,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I am not going to roll over and let [the EPA] tell me what I can do on my land.”

It is little wonder that there is talk of another Sagebrush Rebellion like that embraced by Ronald Reagan in the late 1970s. Westerners know they deserve better, and that they and their states can be better stewards of their land than federal bureaucrats.

This article is reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.
http://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/current

Environmental Sophistry

Sophistry: n. A deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.

When comparing economic activity and the state of the environment among countries, we see that a robust economy pays for a cleaner environment, but environmentalists relentlessly attack commerce and the profit motive as the root source of most environmental problems. In our current quest for clean and secure energy supplies, for instance, we see that there are some environmental groups  who are against just about every means of commercial energy production including nuclear generation,  hydroelectric generation, coal-fire plants, geothermal plants, wind farms, solar installations, and drilling to increase domestic petroleum supplies.

Some environmentalists are very good at lying and their sophistry is compelling to the ill-informed. I classify environmentalists into four groups: the elitists, the true believers, the warm & fuzzy crowd and the pragmatists.

 The pragmatists

 In my bias, I classify all natural resource producers, including ranchers and farmers,  as pragmatists; they are seekers of what works. Pragmatists are the true environmentalists dedicated to good stewardship and conservation, because it is in their own best economic interest to do so. Of late, however, the pragmatists have been eclipsed by the “better vision” of pseudo-environmentalists, especially the climate alarmists.

The elitists

Elitists, or as Thomas Sowell calls them, the “anointed,” think they know better (see Sowell’s book, “The Vision of the Anointed“). “The refrain of the anointed is we already know the answers, there’s no need for more studies …. Problems exist only because other people are not as wise or as caring, or not as imaginative and bold, as the anointed.” writes Sowell. “Evidence is seldom asked or given — and evidence to the contrary is often either ignored or answered only by a sneer.”  For the “anointed”, who are often charismatic, articulate and well-educated (some educated beyond their intelligence), the end justifies the means. And, unfortunately, both the end and the means are often based on a socialistic philosophy antagonistic to individual freedom and private property. Sowell lists four principal characteristics of the “anointed” which are true regardless of the issue:

 1) Assertions of a great danger to the whole society, a danger to which the masses of people are oblivious.

2) An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe.

3) A need for government to drastically curtail the dangerous behavior of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few.

4) A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either uninformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes.

While some elitists may have benign, but misguided, motives, many pander to our desire to do the right thing, simply for personal gain and power.  Does Al Gore, who has made millions on his climate scam come to mind, or does he fit into the next group?

 The true believers

 A subset of the “anointed” are the true believers. These people generally don’t have a clue of how things work, but possess a religious zeal perverted by the siren call of the elitists.  True believers aren’t burdened by facts and generally cannot be swayed from their utopian ideals. Like many religious fanatics, they feel justified in using any tactic to defeat the infidels.  I put some opponents of the Rosemont mine into this group and some into the next.

The warm & fuzzies

 The warm & fuzzy crowd make up the bulk of membership in the mainstream environmental groups. Generally well-meaning, they, too, are often ignorant of the way things work and fall victim to the elitist’s sophistry. These folks can become pragmatists once given the facts and shown how the elitist’s flawed vision affects them adversely.

 Which group do you think EPA staffers fall into?  How about the Pima County board of supervisors?

 Why do environmentalist sophists do what they do?  Some, for money and power, of course; others do it because of their own flawed vision and distrust of common man. They think they know better, but in reality they lack faith in human ingenuity. These pseudo-environmentalists have achieved their successes because, in this age of urbanization, sound bites, virtual reality, and outcome-based education, we have lost touch with the origin of things, the things which make the engine of the world work.

See also:

Capitalism is not a zero sum game

Book Review – On Gaia, A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth by Toby Tyrrell

On Gaia coverThe Gaia hypothesis, put forth by James Lovelock in 1972, proposes that planet Earth is regulated by and for the life forms occurring on the planet.  The hypothesis suggests that life has somehow conspired in the regulation of the global environment so as to keep conditions comfortable. In some forms, the Gaia hypothesis suggests that the planet has a “consciousness.”

According to the author, Toby Tyrrell, a professor of Earth system science at the University of Southampton, England, the Gaia hypothesis makes three main assertions:

1. The environment is very well-suited to the organisms that inhabit it. As Tyrrell points out, this assertion is backwards, organisms adapt to the environment; the environment does not adapt to organisms.

2. The Earth’s atmosphere is a biological construct whose composition is far from expectations of (abiotic) chemical equilibrium.

3. The Earth has been a stable environment over time, despite variable external forcings.

Tyrrell also notes two competing hypotheses:

1. The Geologic hypothesis which holds that Earth’s environment is due mainly to geological forces and astronomical processes.

2. The Coevolutionary hypothesis which holds that “life and environment have both changed over time, and that changes in either have had effects on the other.”  The difference between this hypothesis and Gaia is that coevolution “is free of any connotations that, once life had evolved and started to influence climate, the planet was bound to remain habitable thereafter.”

Tyrrell has taken on a big job in a critical examination of the three Gaia assertions and the two alternate hypotheses.  The book is a tour de force that presents physical and philosophical evidence for and against the Gaia hypothesis, which, Tyrrell points out, has some similarities with Intelligent Design.   Fortunately, the book is written in plain language and each of the 10 chapters has introductory paragraphs dealing with what the chapter will cover and a concluding section providing a summary.  Many of the endnotes referenced within the chapters are interesting stories in themselves and provide amplifying evidence for the main points.

The book includes over 50 pages of end notes, suggested reading for each chapter, and 22 pages of references to the scientific literature.

Tyrrell ultimately concludes that “Gaia is a fascinating but a flawed hypothesis.  It is not a correct characterization of planetary maintenance and life’s role therein. Some of Lovelock’s claims…are seen to be dubious when probed more deeply.  Some of the key lines of argument advanced in support of Gaia are insecure, or else give support in equal measure to other hypotheses as well as to Gaia.  There is nothing that can be explained only by Gaia.”  The evidence shows that the Gaia hypothesis fails on assertions 1 and 3.

Tyrrell favors the coevolution hypothesis which, he says, “is fully compatible with what we know.”  “There are no natural phenomena that either Gaia or the geological hypothesis is uniquely able to explain.”  While I’m sad to see that geology can’t explain absolutely everything (I’m a geologist), I must agree with Tyrrell.

How he gets to his conclusions is a fascinating story illustrated by many interesting examples.  The book is well-written and easy to read.  Some of his perceptions may give you a different perspective on things.  I particularly like a sentence in Chapter Two: “Nature is a mixture of apparent cruelty and kindness, of economy and waste, of competition and cooperation.” (That’s so Dickensian: It was the best of times….)  It sets the tone of Tyrrell’s critical analysis.  Tyrrell’s story is very informative and the reader will learn many fascinating things along the way.

The book is published by Princeton University Press and available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble..

P.S. In an interview with MSNBC, on March 17, 2009, James Lovelock admitted that he had been a climate alarmist and had been “extrapolating too far.”

Wind Farms Gone Wild

wildland-wind-farmsThe Scottish Wild Land Group, a private, non-profit group established to protect and conserve wild land in Scotland, has published several papers about wind farms in their magazine Wild Land News.  This environmental group does not like wind farms. (Download the entire issue of their Wild Land News here.)  I have traveled through much of Scotland before the advent of the wind farm craze.

The Wild Land Group introduces this special issue on wind power with an editorial which includes this statement:

“This is not a narrow plea for wind farms to be located in areas that we consider ‘less wild,’ however. Almost every aspect of wind energy developments across the UK is the subject of fierce controversy.  In considering the justifications for the use of wind power, as the contributors to this magazine do, we have found few that seem genuine and none that is agreed upon. This is not a sound basis on which to pursue policies that affect people’s homes and lives, national and international responses to climate change, billions of pounds of public money, rocketing levels of fuel poverty, and the survival of rare species and environments.”

The issue of wind energy is discussed in 13 articles within the magazine.  Here are some highlights (British spelling retained):

“… it has been apparent for some time that the costs of wind-power, on which the UK’s policies are dependent, are so high that the technology fails to offer the developing world a viable alternative to coal, and because of this our overall climate change policies lack credibility.  Rethinking this position requires governments to admit that little or nothing has been achieved in the last two decades, in spite of vast subsidy expenditure.” – John Constable.

“I’ve recently noticed an interesting phenomenon in the world of environmental communications… If you are associated with the ‘green’ or environmental movement in any way, it automatically seems to follow that you must be a supporter of all forms of renewable energy, including mega-windfarms, because the alternatives (fossil fuels, nuclear power) are unspeakably pernicious. And if you don’t think that wind farms are a good idea, then you can’t be a ‘proper’ environmentalist…wind energy is renewable…but the often-fragile ecosystems associated with the hills and moors colonised by wind farms are not.” – Sharon Blackie.

Clive Hambler discusses the impact of turbines on wild life, especially birds. “Scotland has the best wild terrestrial habitats in the British Isles, and many of the most important ones for global conservation…these sites are threatened by renewable energy schemes!… of course some things kill more birds than turbines – so what, why kill more?”

“The aesthetic objection to wind farms is not about the appearance of wind turbines themselves, as

artifacts, but about the damage they do to priceless landscapes – such as those of Scotland.” – Christine Lovelock

Iain A MacLeod discusses the “wind power question:” ‘What proportion of wind power in the electricity system is appropriate?’ “As someone to whom the quality of the Scottish landscape is deeply important, I find any wind generator to be visually intrusive.  However, if their efficacy were demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, I would…accept the need for them.  But available information that seeks to justify government policy for wind energy does not persuade me that a ‘beyond reasonable doubt’condition has been achieved.”

Frank Hay discusses a specific project, the Shetland Viking wind farm. “Beyond numbers and statistics, there are very real concerns about the impact the project may have on the health, mental well-being and daily lives of those who live near  –  or even in  –  the windfarm site. Although the community was assured by Viking Energy that a Health Impact Assessment would be carried out, this was abandoned, and is only now being considered, not by the developer itself, but by Shetland

Charitable Trust.”

Jack Ponton: “In summary, the EU, UK and, especially Scottish government renewables policies are a pointless fraud which will neither alleviate climate change nor provide energy security. I have not gone in to how much they are costing consumers, but they are at best an economic nonsense and for

Scotland a potential economic disaster. Nor have I talked about how they poison communities, pitting landowners who expect to collect large sums in rent against other residents whose once quiet surroundings are devastated by turbine noise and who see the value of their homes diminished or even destroyed.  A final comment. The public have been led to believe that so-called “renewable” energy is user friendly and consumes no resources. Anyone who has been forced to live near a turbine will confirm that the first is a straightforward lie. The second is also untrue; wind turbines consume two irreplaceable resources – land and peoples’ lives.”

There are several other articles in this issue.

I find this magazine both amazing and heartening, because it shows that at least one environmental group bases policy on facts and concern for people.

(H/t to John Droz, jr. for making me aware of this publication.)  I took the photo below in the Argyle Forest.

Argyle-Forest01

See also:

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

Future of Rosemont Mine Very Certain

This article is a guest post by Rick Grinnell, VP, Southern Arizona Business Coalition, www.soazbc.com in response to a press release from opponents of the Rosemont Mine.

In a recent press release by Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (“Augusta Resource Shareholders Meet, Future of Rosemont Mine Uncertain”) stating the future of Rosemont uncertain, it is apparent that this audience doesn’t understand the business of financing for major development projects or the mining industry’s history of financing. They don’t grasp or refuse to acknowledge standard financing practices of a development of this magnitude. Investors have different objectives and some are willing to take higher risks at the beginning of a project for a higher rate of return, while others may wait until certain  bench marks and goals have been reached. This isn’t the first project for this type of investment and won’t be the last.

This group’s endless attacks have proven to be filled with innuendo, misstatements and in some cases, what I perceive as intentions to slander the integrity of the project and the management team. This team has over 550 years of mining experience and are some of the best in this industry. On a personal note, we here in Southern Arizona are fortunate to have this industry and the quality of personnel as neighbors and citizens. This company will be a genuine partner for many years. The good people of Rosemont Copper are personally invested, serving on various charity boards and organizations.

The opponents of Rosemont have lost every appeal. The facts cannot be discounted by emotional rhetoric and the dissemination of blatant misrepresentations of this mining project. The initial objections  have been answered through an educational process about the Rosemont project. I can confidently state the greater majority of citizens of Southern Arizona are satisfied that Rosemont Copper will bring a desperately needed economic boost to our area and will do so in the most responsible and respectful way possible. This is the next generation of mining.

Finally, I take issue with Mr. Ray Carroll’s (Pima County Supervisor, District 4) assertions that the investors are being misled and, in other public forums, that this project will devastate Southern Arizona. He  continues to attack Rosemont’s integrity without factual substance or merit. His continued sarcastic, arrogant and disrespectful comments are not that of a Statesman, but rather a bully on the prowl to gain personal or political leverage in his quest to find significance in his position.

Despite the continued efforts of the opposition to malign this project, the law, the facts and the integrity of the process will prevail.