How about that job, Mr. President?

Posted on 31. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

President Obama was having a discussion about the State Dept.’s H1B1 Visa Program (which allows U.S. employers to hire foreigners for jobs that cannot be filled by Americans).

This prompted a woman to ask him why her husband, who is a semiconductor engineer and now unemployed for going on two years, cannot find work in his chosen field.

The President seemed surprised about the situation and proceeded to talk about how strange that was considering there were so many jobs available for people with such skills. So surprised was he in fact, that he asked her to send him her husband’s CV and he would check it out!

Now while I would like to be charitable and ascribe only the best motives to the President’s offer, there is this little nagging notion in the back of my brain that clamors to get out and say, “I think this reveals an extraordinary lack of awareness of the dire straits that American companies and workers are in, and that goes for the highest of high-tech industries where we have a competitive advantage.”

This transported me back in time to a few other presidents who were also not completely connected to the realities of life on the ground in these here United States. One was George H.W. Bush after marveling at supermarket bar code scanning devices (after they had been on the market for eons).

The Presidency seems to create a nearly impervious bubble that encircles every occupant of the Oval Office, but some have been able to break free of it and truly tap into the people’s consciousness and feel their pain. I have no doubt that Mr. Obama is a thinking and feeling man and probably wishes everybody the best. The trouble is that wishes are a dime a dozen and do not hold the ‘wisher’ accountable.

In order to truly DO something about someone’s condition you must first understand how they got where they are and what created their situation in the first place. Empathy’s good, but to act successfully on it requires knowledge and the will (and power) to change things. I guess this is why the President asked for the unemployed man’s CV.

Now this is the spot where opponents of the President would jump in with both feet and wag an accusatory finger (or several) at him for totally mismanaging the economy. While this might give some momentary satisfaction and relieve some pent-up pressure, it won’t necessarily change things.

After all, it takes more than one man to really foul things up, and only the most ideologically-driven among us believe that Mr. Obama is the chief architect of doom who single-handedly decided to throw away generations of capitalism and steer us on a collision course with the poorhouse.

No, ‘it takes a village’ of complicit men and women who are willing to ignore the consequences of their actions to bring us down. We’ll need a very big brush if we’re going to tar all the folks who’ve had a hand in turning our economy from the envy of the world into the basket case of the world.

They would include (in addition to the President): Congress, rigidly ideological labor unions, single-issue special interest groups, zealots of all stripes, companies who’ve outsourced our precious manufacturing jobs, the Federal Reserve, greedy profiteers, slackers and ourselves (for not voting or paying attention).

Because I’m action-oriented, the President’s encounter gave me an idea about how to drive the point about unemployment home to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If the President really wants to add Personnel Manager-in-Chief to his business card, we ought to oblige him. Here’s how we do it…

Every unemployed, underemployed or person who’s given up looking for a job should send their resumé to him! There’s something pretty potent about millions of pieces of mail hitting the White House mailroom all at once. I may be wrong, but I think it would get his attention.

- Editor

Obama kills Keystone while defending energy record

Posted on 25. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Within 24 hours of rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline project—angering unions, industry, and Republicans, President Obama released his first campaign ad touting his record on energy. The ad cites a study from the Brookings Institute and implies that President Obama has created 2.7 million jobs in green energy, a number that is “expanding rapidly.” Next the ad brags about the fact that for the first time in 13 years, America is now less than 50% dependent on foreign oil. Both numbers have some truth—but both have little to do with the President’s efforts.

First, the jobs number. 2.7 million green jobs is the total number of green jobs in the economy—many of which existed long before President Obama took office. Additionally, according to a Reason fact check, while the 2.7 million number may be “clean” jobs, only a small fraction of that number are actually in the “green energy” industry: 140,000 according to Brookings—and this was before thousands of jobs were lost at Solyndra, Stirling Energy, Range Fuels, or other green energy companies that have gone under in the last few months.

Next, the claim that America is now less dependent on foreign oil. This is true, but deceptive. Our lowered dependence is not because the President has done anything good, it is in part because of the bad economy. People are using less oil, therefore we need less from foreign sources. Additionally, we are producing more oil domestically. North Dakota’s Bakken Field has doubled its production in the last two years—from 246,000 barrels a day to 509,754 in November 2011. Just this domestic production is enough to completely displace oil imported from Iraq. President Obama cannot take any credit for the Bakken windfall.

In fact, his administration is threatening a moratorium on fracking which would send the oil patch in to a free fall—thousands of workers would be unemployed overnight and the US dependence on foreign oil would be up past 50%.

Obama’s EPA doesn’t like states having their own regulations; they prefer that everything be done on the federal level where they are more insulated from local input. When states can make their own decisions, the dramatic impact of regulation becomes obvious. Pennsylvania allows horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HHF), New York does not. The contrast is stark. In Upstate New York, property taxes have been raised due to the known oil assets, but a HHF moratorium prevents people from cashing in on their bounty. In many cases land owners’ annual tax bill is more than their mortgage.

Local governments are facing eminent bankruptcy. Farmers have had to shut down their farms and find work in the oil industry across the state line in Pennsylvania. What they see in Pennsylvania is a vibrant economy. Families are moving in. New homes are being built. Farms are buzzing with activity and new equipment. Help wanted signs are everywhere. In the last few years, unemployment has dropped from 10% to 5%.

The EPA has been piling regulations on the energy creators that will raise costs of electricity—hurting consumers and businesses. New rules such as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, the Utility MACT Rule, and Coal Ash Regulation, will force coal-fueled power plants to shut down and kill thousands of jobs.

Just this week, the state vs. federal regulation issue cropped up when environmental groups announced they would sue the EPA to accelerate the agency’s regulation of coal ash—causing coal ash to be regulated on a federal level by the EPA as hazardous waste, adding costs of up to $110 billion over twenty years and killing an estimated 316 thousand jobs. Currently, states make their own individual decisions that fit their unique circumstances about treatment and disposal of coal ash.

It is not just the EPA. Under the Obama administration, proposed listings of endangered species have gone up, rushed through with spurious science. Oddly, the habitat of the proposed species is often an area with known natural resources—such as the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. For the past year, locals have been fighting the proposed listing of the sand dune lizard knowing that the ESA listing could decimate the region—much like the spotted owl listing did to the logging communities of the Pacific North West.

On Wednesday, January 18, The New Mexico Association of Counties unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the listing of the sand dune lizard as an endangered species. Listing proponents claim the industry is using scare tactics to stir up local opposition to the listing. However, even though the lizard is currently in a “proposed” status—and is not officially listed, there is already an economic impact to the region. For example, a local mining company has a 4 mile water pipeline that needs to be repaired. The BLM will not allow them access to the line because it is in the lizard’s habitat.

Instead, they’ve been told that they must build a new pipeline that will go around the proposed habitat. The new pipeline will be twenty miles long and cost estimates are at $30 million or more—which will likely require extensive environmental impact studies before the work can commence. And, this is before the lizard is actually listed. Imagine all the obstacles and increased costs industry will have if the lizard is listed.

America’s lowered dependence on foreign oil is not because of President Obama, it is in spite of the efforts of his administration. It is not due to government encouragement, but rather due to industry innovation and American grit and determination.

The proposed moratorium on fracking in the Bakken Field would kill jobs, coal ash regulation could be the most detrimental of all of the new regulations, and the proposed listing of the Sand Dune Lizard could turn a booming regional economy into a series of ghost towns.

There is plenty of talk about the proposed jobs killed by the President’s decision to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, but jobs have already been lost. For example, Welspun Tublar Company in Little Rock Arkansas makes steel pipe for the oil industry. They have 500 miles of pipe that was expected to ship out for the Keystone XL pipeline. After President Obama announced he would delay his decision until after the November 2012 election (for which he’s now officially denied the permit), Welspun had to lay off 60 employees.

The mother-in-law of one of the workers to lose his job says, “Obama is killing jobs on purpose. The more people he can get on the dole, the more control he has over them.” In his frequent promises to focus on jobs, we just didn’t understand that he meant focusing on killing jobs in the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Despite the Obama campaign ad’s claims, President Obama is not creating jobs in the energy sector and he is not responsible for the reduction in foreign oil imports. His administration’s agenda-driven actions are, perhaps, more about bolstering the Democratic Party than boosting the American economy. If they can ban the use of fracking for oil and gas extraction, they will serve a near fatal blow to the domestic energy boom—which is a result of industry’s technological advances in hydraulic fracturing—and turn off the flow of new wealth into states formerly hit by hard times.

A government-dependent public tends to vote Democrat to insure the entitlements continue. The higher-paying jobs in the energy sector, the ability of landowners to prosper, and revitalized communities eliminate the need for federal handouts. Natural gas’ abundance has dropped prices to new lows, threatening the viability of highly-favored, taxpayer-subsidized wind, solar, and ethanol.

It is in the Democrat’s self-interest to brag about their energy record, while subtly using regulation to virtually end domestic energy development.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. She is the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

The Magnificent Ball

Posted on 24. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Social/Cultural

In these times of hyperspeed, hyperspace and just plain hype, it’s good to reflect on how much the simple things mean to us. One of those is the humble ball, not the jute balls or sod balls that our ancestors threw around at each other, but modern balls like the football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer ball, golf ball, billiard ball, ping pong ball, medicine ball, the hand ball and wiffle ball. I know I’ve probably missed one or two, but you get the picture.

Most of those balls represent multi-million if not multi-billion dollar industries and employ literally armies of people around the world. Heavens, I just heard a baseball team’s asking price is now over a billion dollars and that doesn’t include the industries that supply the sport!

For instance, there’s the printed programs, the hot dog and beverage vendors (and the wholesale houses that supply them and the farmers that raise the livestock to sell to the wholesalers ), the stadium grounds keepers (and the equipment they rent or purchase), the ticket sellers, even the ticket scalpers, the team trainers and medical staffs, the marketing and advertising people, the T-shirt and jersey manufacturers, the newspapers, sports magazines and radio and TV journalists that cover the teams…and on and on it goes.

The number of families that depend on the lowly ball is enormous and illustrates a very important point – that decisions taken on and off the field have far-reaching consequences. Outlaw nitrates and the hot dog vendors go away. Black out the game, locally, and it affects the beer sales at local bars with big screen TVs. Strike against the ball club owners and everything goes down the drain.

Apply this same principle of interdependence to just about any industry and add in the age of rapid communication and you can see that rumors, innuendo and gossip now travel at the speed of light and can hit their target (or do collateral damage) with deadly accuracy. A problem with an iphone antenna or an illegal pesticide used on imported oranges or an engine problem with the Chevy Volt can set off a chain reaction that can harm dozens and dozens of innocent bystander companies whose only mistake was supplying good products to the company that’s experiencing problems with the bad ones!

Stock prices can fall overnight and render a company penniless. Look at the recent Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia that ran aground. Would you like to own stock in Carnival, the parent company right about now? That’s why appearances are everything and why companies pay image consultants big bucks to do damage control and media triage to protect their clients’ value.

There is just so much spin that even the best company can do to prop up the image of an Exxon Mobil (the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989), British Petroleum (the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico), the Three-Mile Island Nuclear Facility meltdown and the Bhopal gas tragedy in India (Union Carbide) that killed nearly 4,000 people with leaking pesticide chemicals.

The mere fact that we KNOW how dependent and interdependent we are could be one of the reasons why we’re so gosh darn scared and on edge right now. It’s no wonder that our leaders are hesitant about telling us the truth early on when these things happen. Fear of consumer or investor panic is a pretty powerful reason for withholding bad news, but it’s not a good enough reason for keeping important information from us. That’s why we need watchdog agencies and environmental groups to keep the monied interests honest and in check while we insist on our right to know.

Smaller government may be a great sound bite, but if smaller government can’t protect its own society then it’s just as bad as big government. I’ll vote for efficient government any day.

- Editor

Internationalizing New Mexico: What stands in our way?

Posted on 21. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Education, Politics, Social/Cultural

Ask the average New Mexican if he/she thinks our state is international and you’ll likely be met with a blank stare. Ask a follow-up question like, “Where do you think the most foreigners are?” and the answer will probably be, “In our universities or maybe at the Balloon Fiesta.”

Both answers are true, but there’s much more to our internationalism than meets the eye. I know, because I’ve been involved in international business and tourism for 30 years, first as a private citizen and then for 20 years as an American diplomat. I’ve lived and worked in over 24 different countries in the developed and developing world. Then I moved to New Mexico.

The international halls of ivy

While many states have pockets of foreigners and enclaves of foreign companies that provide valuable jobs and tax revenue, most states have foreign students enrolled in their colleges and universities (they provide a very important revenue stream and justify the international programs created for them). New Mexico is one of those states and UNM has most of them (approx. 800-1,000). This isn’t obvious to the layman because UNM doesn’t actively promote this fact.

When I was President of the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors I often speculated on why UNM’s international personality was largely a ‘best kept secret.’ I thought it might be that: a) the university was unaware of the importance of those students to its bottom line, b) it was embarrassed by the low number of them (our neighboring states have much larger foreign student populations), or c) it didn’t feel it was necessary to promote that fact.

Since starting the New Mexico IQ (Internationality QuotientTM) Project, I now know from my dealings with UNM that it’s a bit of all three, and that’s a pretty sobering reality, especially since we have so much to offer foreign students. New Mexico should be on the short list of many students’ education destinations.

Our state is attractive, has a long and rich heritage as a research-friendly environment, and we have a fairly low cost of living. We’re close to other travel destinations that might appeal to young people, and we have a pretty diverse ethnic population (that should make foreign students feel right at home).

Most at UNM don’t have a clue about the depth and breadth of their own university’s international programs and relationships (I know this from my conversations with university representatives and professors). Absent that knowledge and without a sound narrative to go with it, UNM cannot market or brand itself outside the palace gates. Who can blame them, really? They’re academics and too often focused on the theoretical.

If UNM, which is often called, ‘Our Flagship University,’ is to be successful in increasing foreign student enrollment it will need to start thinking like foreign students (and their families), get organized internally and team up with experienced professionals from the private sector to tell their story. While the jury’s still out on their ability and willingness to do so, the revenue clock is ticking and students are choosing their future colleges even as I write.

The business community

“Businesses vote with their feet,” and they locate where the incentives are best. New Mexico is both ‘on the way to somewhere else’ (to larger population centers) and sufficiently attractive to offset our somewhat uncompetitive re-location incentives. Because of our climate (over 320 sunshine days/year), we are an excellent place for solar companies to locate for research, testing and manufacturing.

Two outstanding solar companies from Germany are in Albuquerque: Schott Solar and CFV Solar Laboratory (one manufactures and the other tests). The Japanese Government, along with nineteen Japanese companies, has a joint venture with Mesa del Sol (Albuquerque) and Los Alamos County to build solar demonstration plants in both locations.

There are other foreign companies that call New Mexico home, too: Sennheiser (manufactures  cutting edge acoustic equipment), Heel, Inc. (produces homeopathic preparations) and Sud Chemie (makes products for the pharmaceutical industry). That’s the good news about our international footprint. The bad news is that we’ve not ponyed up enough money to adequately promote ourselves abroad.

The current administration in Santa Fe drastically reduced the budget of the New Mexico Economic Partnership (the state agency charged with selling New Mexico), thereby limiting its ability to travel and do its job.

Fortunately, they’ve hired a new man to head up the office, an experienced economic developer from Las Cruces; he may be able to make lemonade out of the lemons of a meager budget. I wish him well. If we want to attract more foreign companies to NM we’ll have to start working more closely in a true public/private partnership where every New Mexican business becomes a ‘goodwill ambassador’ for the state.

The elusive international tourist

No sensible state-driven tourism plan can afford to exclude foreign tourists from its sights, as foreign tourists generally leave a small footprint but larger than average ‘dollar print’ on the communities they visit. In my former capacity as Chairman of several ‘Visit USA Committees’ overseas, I worked with the Travel Industry Association and all fifty states to boost their international tourism so I know its value to a state like ours.

Having a plan that only concentrates on home-grown tourism will not yield the desired result of markedly increasing overall tourism revenues, neither will it build solid international tourism relationships. And, as most of us know, “a happy foreign tourist is not only a repeat foreign tourist but is also one who tells his friends – who also visit and sometimes invest.”

We need to forge stronger ties with foreign tour group operators and travel packagers AND with more foreign journalists through ‘FAM’ (familiarization) trips to the Land of Enchantment.

The scientific exchange

Uncle Sam’s contribution to New Mexico generates $6.0 billion each year to the NM economy and funds Sandia National Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Both labs have extensive international relationships and scientific exchanges as part of their projects. That’s good news for all of us, but while these exchanges do much to further specific research, they do little for our local communities (except in those rare cases where the research leads to pilot projects).

Here’s an area where we can do better – by convincing lab leadership to share these relationships with the business community at large, thereby widening the circle of ‘likely favorability’ in similar fashion to the international tourists I mentioned above. The labs also need to join forces with municipal leaders to promote New Mexico’s Internationality Quotient and candidacy as a potential re-location site.

Cultural and fraternal relationships

We know we’re a diverse society here in New Mexico, but the outside world needs to hear the message more frequently and convincingly. Fortunately, there are a number of local internationally-minded organizations that have done an outstanding job interfacing with foreign governments, companies and ‘citizen diplomat’ groups around the world – usually with little or no funds.

There is the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors, the Santa Fe Council on International Relations, the Albuquerque Sister Cities organization and Friendship Force, to name but a few. Each has their own programs and activities, but all are internationally-oriented. We need to support them so they are able to extend their reach.

There are also outstanding individual New Mexicans like anthropologist, Dr. Gordon Bronitsky, who has spent most of his adult life working with indigenous peoples around the world in the performing arts (traditional and contemporary) and festival development.

Many of the performers he works with have come from and to New Mexico largely through his tireless efforts–including touring a Zuni dance group to Mongolia, a Navajo dance group to Estonia, Latvia, Italy, England, the Philippines, The Netherlands and Dubai, and a fashion show in Moscow for a Navajo designer from Gallup! Dr. Bronitsky’s success has been earned the old-fashioned way…through a combination of hard work and an unusually high degree of flexibility.

Government and education

Finally, there’s government, both state and local. New Mexico has had a spotty history of state government support for ‘going global.’ Some governors have embraced it, and some have largely ignored it. It’s not even a blip on the Legislature’s radar screen. Most people don’t know that the Government of Japan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for scientific and business cooperation with the State of New Mexico or that we are the ONLY U.S. state that has such an agreement with that country.

Dramatic state government budget cuts have reduced funds for pursuing the opportunities inherent in this MOU and they have severely limited our activities in another important area, international trade. The Economic Development Department has had to reduce the size of its international trade staff, and these cuts have also hampered their ability to travel to high-potential target markets.

The Legislature needs to be aware of the importance of New Mexico’s international relationships and their impact on our society in order to stand squarely behind the Governor should she choose to adopt an internationalization initiative.

Municipalities, too, have an important role to play. They can set up special advisory councils, comprised of internationally-savvy, experienced individuals who can contribute their special expertise to the crafting of municipal plans for the recruitment of foreign companies and for developing new international activities.

Our middle schools and high schools need to be ‘discussion incubators’ of new curricula that includes geopolitics and economics as they relate to actual functioning markets and governance.

If we are to take this next crucial step on the journey to true internationalism, we must have a thorough understanding of the size, scope and value of our current relationships. That will require commissioning a comprehensive impact analysis of our state’s relationships including foreign direct investment, jobs, tourism and foreign students.

It may be a way for UNM to begin the process of self-examination, because its own research arm (BBER – the Bureau of Business and Economic Research), could conduct the study. They should make this a top priority. Perhaps UNM’s new president will take on the challenge and set the wheels in motion. One can hope.

We cannot wait for the recession to end before we begin planning for prosperity, nor should we succumb to the argument of cost. On this point, Oscar Wilde said it best, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

Stephan Helgesen is a former U.S. diplomat and former Director of the State of NM Office of Science and Technology. He is currently the Honorary German Consul in New Mexico and heads up his own export consulting company. He can be reached at: helgesen@2ndopinionmarketing.com

Stephan J. Helgesen

Downsize or Supersize?

Posted on 20. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

Inspiration comes at the strangest times. I was at the drive-thru at McDonalds on Central at Tramway the other day and remembered those glory days of ‘Supersizing,’ when we thought nothing of going the whole nine yards with a lunch order. While scrutinizing the menu, my gaze stopped on the luscious Bacon Double Cheeseburger sitting there all pumped up looking like a trophy waiting for my eager hands to adopt it and take it home with me.

I checked my coin tray and found only $2.50 in loose change. I promised myself that whatever I had in the tray would be my lunch limit for the day, so back to the menu I went searching for a bargain. Suddenly I found it — a regular cheeseburger for a buck! I happily gave my order…two cheeseburgers. “Would you like a blueberry upside down cake smothered in vanilla sauce with a cherry on that today?” came the reply (okay, that’s not the dessert she mentioned, but I can’t remember the real offering). “No, thanks,” said I. “Anything to drink or some fries?” she responded. “Nope, just the cheeseburgers,” I said, meekly.

Normally I appreciate the suggestive selling that restaurants and stores teach their employees, but today I was embarrassed that my order only totaled $2.15. When I drove to the window to collect it, I was met with a big smile and a “Thanks, and have a nice day.” You would have thought I had ordered one of everything and given her a $100 tip! This friendly minimum wage employee who didn’t know me from Adam made me feel like king of the world with her graciousness.

Supersizing has given way to downsizing, and even the federal government has figured out that the Executive Branch should economize a little. This week, the President announced he wanted to merge all the departments and agencies that help America’s businesses. This is a subject I know well having worked for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce for 20 years. Based on that knowledge and the enormity and expense of that task, I have a message for the President…”Try something else. Start small and work your way up, Mr. Obama.”

I have a plan. I think the President should focus on where the buck starts… with himself. Here’s what he should do:

Before he travels anywhere, he should ask himself, “Is this trip really necessary?” If it’s not, don’t go. If he must go, he should take a commercial flight instead of socking the taxpayers with a ginormous bill for Air force One. It would do him good to endure the pat-down by TSA like regular Americans. If it’s a short trip, he should take his own bus. If he needs to go by car, he should drive himself in his family’s Ford Escape. That would be an inexpensive and humbling experience.

No more lavish partying with six-course meals in the White House. Instead, he should cater the meals by the Congressional Cafeteria, just down the street. If that’s still too expensive, he might host ‘brown bag’ lunches for his guests. After all, they come to see him not his hors d’ oeuvres, don’t they?

Finally, what’s with all these Mont Blanc-like pens used at bill signings? Using 15 pens to sign a piece of legislation is totally unnecessary. I understand that he gives them away to the bill sponsors and friends, but c’mon. How about a few 99¢ Bics instead? It would be good for the Commander in Chief to do a few webcam conferences, too. It would save on Secret Service costs and free him up for that 74th round of golf or play mini-golf on the White House lawn with Sasha and Malia. It’s the least he could do. That way I wouldn’t feel so bad the next time my coin tray is a bit light.

- Editor

EPA is binge gambling with the economy

Posted on 19. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment

Folks who stop at a slot machine in the Las Vegas airport between flights can usually risk the few dollars that will probably disappear, but the serious gambler—whether the stock market, the ponies, or cards—assesses the risk before they cash in their chips. Even then, they make miscalculations. That’s why they call it gambling.

Last week, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund miscounted his cards when he claimed that new EPA regulations will “protect the IQ of countless of American kids and help clear the air for millions of Americans with asthma.” Citing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards the EPA rolled out on December 21, that he said was 21 years in the making, his widely-published op-ed said that the US “has always had good sense when taking on hazardous substances in our environment.”

The first card Krupp lays down in support of his argument that the US has “good sense” is DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)—which the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) cofounder, Victor Yannacone, was instrumental in banning back in 1972. Using DDT as an example of “good sense,” Krupp says it was banned “after learning that the pesticide was killing birds of prey.” Even though the EDF sprang up in the late sixties with the single purpose of battling the use of DDT, it is surprising that he is still trying this old trick.

Since DDT was used in WWII to successfully control typhus and malaria, it has gone from winner to loser and back to winner again. In 1948, Dr. Paul Muller, the scientist who discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work. The tables turned when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962 and referenced experiments done that claimed DDT thinned birds’ eggshells. Ultimately, through the work of EDF, DDT was banned in 1972. Because of that decision, malaria has spread, and millions have died from it. Instead of eliminating the disease’s vector, the mosquito, drugs have been developed to treat the disease, and those drugs are now proving ineffective, as malaria has grown resistant to them.

Since then, additional studies have been done and the eggshell findings have been revisited. DDT wasn’t the problem it was once believed to be.  In 2006, the World Health Organization declared that, DDT “will once again play a major role in its efforts to fight the disease.” DDT kills the mosquitos that spread the disease.

The world gambled on what seemed to be a sure thing—but it turned out to be just hysteria and propaganda. Millions have died from the bad bet.

In recent history, we’ve collectively bet on “sure things” and lost.

We once believed there was an energy shortage—but modern technology and resource expansion have created a global oil glut, and natural gas is so plentiful that it is currently priced at a two-year low. America is now a net exporter of fuel.

Renewable energy was a sure thing. Presidents Bush and Obama threw taxpayer dollars at it—but it hasn’t paid off. Solyndra (and others) have gone bankrupt, taking taxpayer dollars with them. First Solar was the single worst performer in the SPX in 2011. Biofuel production has fallen off while the production of traditional fuels is up.

The planet was said to be warming. It was thought to be a crisis. But before a global agreement could be signed to fix the problem, new studies were done, and data was found to be falsified. The cooking of the books became known as “climate-gate.” The earth began to cool on its own—warming and cooling as it has done for billions of years.

Now we may have “mercury-gate.” The EPA and the environmental groups pushing for the “21 years in the making” Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have not looked at all the data, and data that they have looked at is used selectively to draw the desired conclusions.

Krupp claims that current levels of mercury (a naturally occurring element) will damage the IQ of “countless American children,” leaving the reader with mental pictures of rooms full of special needs children.  When, in fact, their study shows the estimated total IQ points lost nationwide to mercury contamination of fish consumed by humans is 510.8 IQ points (see ES-5, Table ES-3 “Estimated IQ benefits from HG reduction”). That’s not per person (or child). That’s not per state; it is the total national benefit: 511 (let’s be generous) IQ points saved at an estimated annual cost of $9.6 billion. So, nationwide, 500 children might lose one IQ point, or 1000 might lose a half a point.

Similar to the tactics used to push the climate-change agenda, the EPA has once again selected data to support its predetermined outcome—they’ve then launched an advertising campaign to sell the expensive plan to the public. In his analysis of the EPA’s study, Dr. Willie Soon says: “It ignored well-documented, respected, and readily available research that conflicted with its apparently predetermined outcome and agenda.”

To read Krupp’s op-ed, you’d believe that implementing the EPA’s findings—which will cause some coal-fueled power plants to be mothballed and raise energy costs for consumers and industry—will eliminate all mercury from the environment. According to the Soon study, this is not true. He says: “America’s coal-fired electrical generating units are responsible for approximately 0.5% of mercury found in the air Americans breathe. Even eliminating every milligram of this mercury will not affect or reduce the other 99.5% in America’s atmosphere.” Major sources include forest fires and volcanoes.

Once again, Americans are being forced to make a bad bet. The EPA would like us to spend $9.6 billion dollars (that is billion with a “B”) for a proposed saving in healthcare costs of $6 million (that is million with an “M”) and it doesn’t add up—especially when considering the conflicting data. Even an amateur gambler wouldn’t make that bet. The odds are against you.

When the first card Krupp played was pulled from his sleeve, there is no reason to trust anything else he says. With an annual salary of nearly half a million dollars, Fred Krupp can afford to gamble, but the US cannot. The EPA is on a binge, gambling with the heart of the US economy and making our citizens the losers.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. She is the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

The Keystone XL pipeline—A line in the sand for America’s future

Posted on 17. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Ask people about the future of energy, and you’ll probably hear mention of “solar,” “wind,” and “ethanol.”  These developing energy technologies have been invested in, loaned to, subsidized, and mandated—yet they’ve repeatedly fallen short.

If the vaunted renewables aren’t yet ready for prime time, what will we do if, for example, Iran makes good on its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and blocks a significant supply of the world’s energy? Just the fear of a supply disruption bumped up the price of oil.

The geopolitics provide a perfect backdrop for pushing the pipeline that will boost the economy through more jobs and price stability, provide energy security, and help balance the trade deficit. Opponents see building the Keystone XL pipeline as a flashpoint for the struggle between old and new energy paradigms—yet with the failure of so-called future energy, the pipeline is representative of our energy future.

Untold billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent trying to force renewables into an unnatural economic timeline with the expectation that the laws of nature will bow to the laws of politicians. Yet, not one of them produces a significant percentage of our energy needs. If we lost 20% of our renewable energy, we’d never feel it. If we lost 20% of our oil supply—the amount that goes through the Strait of Hormuz, we could be back to the rationing and gas lines that are reminiscent of the Carter administration.

“President Obama repeatedly assured the American public that a slew of taxpayer-funded projects in his 2009 stimulus package were ‘shovel-ready.’  Yet few of these projects ever got off the ground, and the jobs they produced were negligible,” says National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow, Bonner Cohen.  “By contrast, the Keystone XL project really is shovel-ready. And even though it would produce jobs and energy quickly, he refuses to give it the green light.”

In a time of economic war, the Keystone XL pipeline is a job creator that requires no new technology or research, no taxpayer funding while generating new tax revenues, and no new infrastructure—all with virtually no risk (financial or environmental).

Harold McGowen, President and CEO of Navidad Resources in Tyler, TX, explains it this way: “There is nothing new about pipelines. We already have over 2.3 million miles of pipelines in the United States, including about 55,000 miles of crude oil trunk lines. These crude oil pipelines have safely and efficiently transported the crude oil that is required to sustain the food supply, transportation, and quality of life of every American for decades. Pipelines continue to be the safest mode of transporting the lifeblood of the nation. They are safer than trains—which can derail; sea-going tankers—which can rupture, sink and run aground; and trucks—that can crash.”

The Keystone XL pipeline, and the tens of thousands of true shovel-ready jobs it can provide, isn’t just about moving oil from Canada to the US, it will allow for safer transport of new oil discoveries like North Dakota’s Bakken Field that produces more than 400,000 barrels per day. Because there is not enough pipeline capacity, Bakken oil is currently being taken to refiners in Louisiana via rail with the Bakken Oil Express’ capacity at only 100,000 barrels per day. Increased capacity, provided by the pipeline, would encourage additional oil development in the West, benefitting production in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

With the Keystone XL pipeline able to safely transport approximately 500,000 barrels of oil per day, the US could reduce oil imports from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait by 25% (or more)—making us less vulnerable to inevitable Middle Eastern unrest.

For the past sixty years, the US has been a net importer of petroleum products—meaning we’ve been sending our dollars to foreign countries and adding to our trade deficit (more money goes out than comes in). New discoveries, like the Bakken Field, have reduced the amount of crude oil we import, but, as previously illustrated, we still use more than we produce domestically. However, the US is now a net exporter of refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel—making fuel the top single export in 2011.

The Keystone XL pipeline will play an important role in America’s position as an ongoing fuel producer and exporter. Rather than counting on tankers crossing the ocean with crude, it will bring domestic and friendly foreign oil to refiners along the Gulf Coast. Many refiners are located on the coast because the tankers coming from the Middle East dock there. The crude oil is then unloaded and refined. Once refined, the fuel, as always, gets distributed throughout the US, but is now also sold and shipped to countries worldwide. An available and abundant fuel supply drops the price, and all sectors of the US economy benefit.

Economist Ben Stein says, “This country runs on energy, it doesn’t run on the hot air spewed out by environmentalists.”

The debate is not about a simple pipeline; it is really about development in America. It is a literal line in the sand. Polls show that the majority of Americans support the Keystone XL pipeline, yet a visible minority standing in front of the White House (and the White House standing with them) is able to stall or stop it. Similar efforts put forth by professional environmentalists and their “could,” “maybe,” and “might,” tactics, have been able to block or delay long-overdue road projects (that would create jobs), mineral extraction (that would create jobs), and new or expanded shipping ports (that would create jobs).

The Keystone XL pipeline is symbolic of the importance of the 2012 election. If the Keystone XL pipeline goes through—as every other previous trans-border pipeline has—America’s energy future will be taken from the hands of the protester and placed back into the hands of “we the people.” American ingenuity, industry, and exceptionalism will win.

Will the majority wake up, show up, stand up and speak up? We should, we can, and we will!

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. She is the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

Global government: The third ring in the climate change circus?

Posted on 16. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama made his support of climate-change interventions clear, stating that his presidency would slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet. He promised that a cap-and-trade system would curb global warming.

He was elected, but the electorate hasn’t liked many of his policies. Cap and trade never passed Congress. To this day, President Obama has remained comparatively popular, but people believe he is taking the country in the wrong direction—toward a European system. Even his Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, believes our gasoline prices should be higher, like Europe’s.

Two weeks ago, my column addressed China’s act (ring #1) in the climate-change circus. Last week, I looked at Europe’s staunch support for climate-change intervention when the majority of the industrialized countries have rejected or resisted a Kyoto-style deal (ring #2). Using Italy as an example, I suggested that the country’s lack of natural resources made expensive renewable energy a viable option for them—though an economic tightrope destined to failure.

While Italy is in the news for its brutal economic woes, it shares several components with the US.

Italy has a declining private sector with growth in government, disappearing industrial production being filled in with goods from China, and high gas prices/imported oil. Italians are still consuming, but now their euros are going to other countries—most notably China and the OPEC countries, resulting in exploding trade deficits. (Sound familiar?)

Climate-change mitigation adds to the problem as it artificially inflates energy prices through the troubled Ponzi-like cap-and-trade scheme and creates more government jobs, regulation, fees, and hidden taxes. With the increasing production costs, industry declines and unemployment rises. Over time, some of those put out of work in industry may get absorbed by government—which keeps the unemployment numbers from looking as grim as they might without the government jobs. Government jobs do not create wealth, as mining and farming do, but like a funhouse mirror, they distort the true picture.

All of the above sounds eerily similar to the US—except we did not sign on to the Kyoto protocol, nor did we pass cap-and-trade legislation. However, President Obama has not given up on his plans to “curb global warming.” Instead of cap and trade, we have the EPA directed by President Obama’s appointee, Administrator Lisa Jackson—who, by her own admission, aims to level the playing field. The EPA is doing everything it can to raise the cost of energy, which, if left unabated, will continue the demise of American industry and the growth of the government sector—resulting in exploding trade deficits. (Sound familiar?)

While Italy’s situation and the US have several similarities that are worth noting, there are also some crowd-pleasing differences.

As noted, Italy lacks quantities of large natural resources—America has them in abundance. We often lack the access to our own resources. Italy is a part of Europe’s cap-and-trade scheme intended to curb manmade global warming. We have Lisa Jackson’s EPA—but Congressional action (encouraged by America’s citizens) can thwart her, and the 2012 election can replace her.

Italy’s economy is collapsing, leaving the stronger countries—mainly England and Germany—to bail it out. The US isn’t quite there yet.

With the economic damage that climate-change interventions deliver, why is the administration still using them as an excuse to implement regulations that will make electricity more expensive for industry and consumers? Maybe, it is because they are, as Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper described Kyoto: “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” More and more, it seems that it never was about saving the planet.

If, in fact, reaching a binding global emissions-reduction agreement is really about global government—with the Green Climate Fund sucking money from the “wealthy” countries and redistributing it to the poor countries, Europe gives us a prime example of why the US should follow Canada’s lead and shun the “at-any-cost” green agenda that stunts economic growth and job creation.

Back to Italy. In EU terms, Italy is one of the “poor” countries—along with the other Club Med countries: Greece, Spain and Portugal. In the mini-global government known as the EU, the “wealthy” countries no longer want to carry the “poor” ones.

Germany and Italy are both EU members and in good times, Italy’s growing government sector could mask the harsh economic realities. By comparison to Italy, Germany has abundant energy supplies from nuclear and coal-fueled power, a strong industrial sector, and a good work ethic. Germany “has”; Italy “has not.” In EU terms, Germany is expected to carry Italy—but they don’t want to.

The US “has” abundant energy supplies; the EU “has not.” The EU has to depend on schemes like carbon trading, about which Rob Elsworth of the climate-campaign group Sandbag in London said: “is a pretty important revenue stream for most member states.” He asks, “If you take away this green-economy narrative, what’s really left of Europe?”

The EU’s economic crisis provides the US with living proof that we do not want to play in the global-government game where the “haves” are expected to carry the “have nots.” We have the resources; we still have industry; and we still have a good work ethic. Will we use them to save America and the free market system that has allowed us to grow to strength, or will we be drawn into the green big top?

This article was submitted byMarita Noon who is author of Energy Freedom. She serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

 

China: Continued Abusive Trade and Now A “Blue Water Navy”

Posted on 16. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

Two weeks ago, as the New Year loomed and many people were on holiday, the Obama administration – specifically Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner – announced, as quietly as possible, its decision not to label China as a “currency manipulator” even though in its required semi-annual report it stated that China had not met the statutory requirements to avoid such a designation.

To put this into context, according to Pedro Nicolaci da Costa of  Reuters (12-28-11), the value of the Chinese yuan, which Beijing publicly acknowledges that it ‘manages closely’, rose only 4% against the dollar in 2011 and has risen a meager 7.7% since China dropped a firm peg against the dollar way back in June 2010.  Most economists believe that the yuan is still undervalued against the dollar on the order of 30%, and even the usually conservative Peterson Institute for International Economics recently estimated that the yuan is currently undervalued by 24% against the dollar.

The last time any administration – Democratic or Republican – labeled a country a currency manipulator was July 1994, when China (surprise, surprise) was so cited.  And even though China will likely show a trade surplus with the United States in 2011 on the order of $275 to $300 billion – another record high figure and virtually all in manufactured goods – the Obama administration will have formally refused six times to cite China for its currency manipulation.

Treasury Secretary Geithner is on the record saying that the law which requires the administration to determine whether U.S. trade partners are deliberately undervaluing their currencies is, in his opinion, a poor tool to push Beijing on the yuan.  So, on his own volition, he’s decided not to follow the law.  This immediately caused Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, to call the Secretary’s action a “clear and positive signal” that would [further] benefit Chinese trade into the United States – of course, this can only mean further bad news for America’s manufacturers.

Secretary Geithner says he did not follow the law because he decided instead to “tread softly and use diplomacy”.  But what is “treading softly” getting us?

It is certainly not making American manufacturers more competitive with China nor is it bringing down our massive trade deficit with China, both outcomes being structurally unachievable given China’s trade practices and abuses.  Right now fully 90% of the cost differential between an average good manufactured in China and a similar good manufactured in the United States is due to various Chinese subsidies, most of them illegal under WTO.  Only about 10% of the difference is due to the differences in wages, which of course is contrary to popular belief and to the contentions of our country’s ‘free traders’, who it seems like blaming American manufacturing workers for getting paid too much.

The latest noteworthy example of China’s protection of its industries – and its ‘rest of the world be damned’ behavior – is it’s allowing its steel industry to duck yet another global environmental initiative.  In the very same week that Secretary Geithner took the ‘soft’ (and ‘easy’) way out on China’s ongoing currency manipulation, we were told (Financial Times, 12-29-11) that none of China’s myriad steelmakers would be joining the World Steel Association’s project to have the world’s top makers confidentially provide data to the Association in order to (quote) “create a better understanding of technical ways to materially reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”  This despite the fact that the worldwide steel industry produces, from all of its processes linked to steelmaking, a staggering 2.5 billion tons of total emissions each year.  Ironically, the Association’s current chairman is CEO of one of China’s biggest steelmakers.

The economic advantage which China’s steelmakers gain by not being good global environmental citizens, while every U.S. steelmaker is, is the major reason why the new San Francisco Bay Bridge – one of the largest U.S. civil engineering projects of the last couple decades – is being constructed with Chinese-made steel.  Add to this those pesky ‘subsidies’ and the currency manipulation which Chinese manufacturers rely on and it’s no wonder China can make huge steel bridge structures and ship them clear across the Pacific significantly cheaper than any of our domestic steel companies can make the structures here at home.

In addition to not cooperating with the World Steel Association’s well-intentioned project, the Chinese have stayed on the sidelines of carbon dioxide monitoring projects organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on behalf of the cement industry and of a similar project for aluminum run by the London-based International Aluminum Institute. (Financial Times, 12-29-11).

Indisputably, it is mostly these subsidies that China lavishes on its manufacturers – especially including its currency manipulation – which have caused at least 6 to 7 million good American manufacturing jobs to be stripped from our shores over just the last decade and offshored to China.  And since each direct American manufacturing job carries with it at least 1.5 to 2.0 indirect jobs, something on the order of 18 million American jobs overall have been lost in ten years due to our “treading softly” with China with regard to trade.

A designation of China as a currency manipulator, if it ever happens, would simply require the United States to step up negotiations with Beijing on the yuan’s value – nothing more.  However, because China is the biggest foreign direct and indirect holder of U.S. Treasuries, with around $2 trillion now held in its treasury, the administration’s position seems to be that China’s ‘leverage’ is so great that we can’t even follow our own law.  But with a seemingly perpetual massive trade surplus vis-à-vis the U.S., won’t China’s so-called leverage be even greater at the end of 2012 and at the end of 2013 and at the end of…?

But increasingly, China’s abusive trade practices are almost subtle compared to what is going on in its shipyards and aircraft manufacturing plants.  Activity easily paid for out of those trillions of American dollars earned from its unbalanced trading with us over the past two decades.

What better way is there for China to thwart U.S. and international political pressure on its abusive trade policies than with commanding military might?  Exhibit A is China’s new “blue water Navy” comprised of formidable capital ships that soon will be able to impose China’s sovereignty in the Tonkin Gulf over Viet Nam’s territorial coastal oil reserves and beyond the immediately adjacent Yellow and China Seas into the western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled a new military doctrine calling for the armed forces to undertake “new historic missions” to safeguard China’s “national interests.”  Chinese military officers and experts said then that those interests included securing international shipping lanes and access to foreign oil and safeguarding Chinese citizens working overseas.  Lately, this agenda has been expanded to include using China’s submarines, fighter planes and guided missiles to force America’s Seventh Fleet “back as far as Hawaii.”  (See Barnes/Hodge/Page, Wall Street Journal, 1-04-12)

A now-updated December 2010 analysis by the Financial Times estimates Chinese overall naval forces to be around 304 vessels, including 79 “principal combatants” – i.e., major warships – and 66 submarines (of which at least 29 are armed with antiship cruise missiles).  These numbers and capabilities compare favorably – to no little U.S. concern – with the 180 mostly major warships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet, even acknowledging that ‘ship for ship the American Navy is considered qualitatively superior to the Chinese Navy’. China has also invested heavily in complementary cyber war technologies.

For a country that for centuries was focused mostly on continental Asia and only its neighboring Seas, China’s now obvious commitment to a capable submarine fleet, major surface ships, radar-evading fighter jets (called J-20s), and new-generation guided missiles (called DF-21Ds) can’t possibly portend well for the United States, Japan and the nations of the Pacific region seeking to remain economically – and politically – independent of China.  To drive this point home, the ship-to-ship DF-21D missile was specifically built to hit naval targets 1,700 miles away by coming in at an angle too high for U.S. defenses against sea-skimming cruise missiles and too low for defenses against other ballistic missiles.  (Ibid.)

For now, China still seems more interested in extending its economic power directly rather than through its military power.  However, China’s new found capability to project military force is certainly a harbinger of China eventually flexing such power to gain greater economic submission of much of the Eastern Hemisphere, starting with its neighbors Viet Nam (especially), Cambodia and Laos.

Whether on a schoolyard or on a continent, “treading softly and using diplomacy” in dealing with a bully seldom promises a happy outcome.  Unfortunately, when it comes to trade with China this is a lesson not yet embraced by some in the administration and Congress.  Pray this doesn’t extend as well to China’s increasing military might, although contrary indications already abound.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery Jr. who is chair of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, co-chair (with USW President Leo Gerard) of The Task Force on Jobs Creation, founder of Jobs First 2012, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media, and is currently an investor in media companies.

The Myth of Settled Science

Posted on 15. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Who would dare assert that we know all there is to be known? Galileo Galilei, Letter to Father Benedetto Castelli, 21 Dec 1613.

If you rely upon America’s mainstream media for your news about climatology, you may not have noticed that the idea of an impending global disaster caused by anthropomorphic global warming (AGW) is somewhat passé.  Still, the same mantra used in efforts to silence critics of AGW is now being deployed in defense of climate change or AGW light:  The science of climate change is settled.  In reality, the assertion that any science is settled is essentially a political slogan that misrepresents the nature of science.

One of the reasons people may not have noted the shift from AGW to climate change is that the mainstream media continue to hype global warming.  Reports on the results of a recent study headed by Professor Richard Muller, a physicist from the University of California-Berkeley, illustrate the slanted manner in which global warming is all too often handled by American journalists.

Muller’s study concluded that the earth’s temperature had increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last two hundred-plus years.  This conclusion was well-reported.  Less well reported is the fact that Muller was and continued to be skeptical about the role of human activities as a cause of this increase.  Furthermore, Muller noted that even if this warming is caused by human activity, there is virtually nothing the U.S. can do to abate its effects, given the growing carbon emissions produced by the expanding economies of India and China.

A major point missing from much of the coverage of Muller’s report is dissent from a member of Muller’s own study team, Professor Judith Curry, who heads the Department Of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.  Curry believes the publicity surrounding the Muller study has mischaracterized its results by saying that this study should end skepticism about global warming.

In fact, Curry noted, the Muller study had pointed up a major anomaly for those who may still believe that the earth is warming and that this warming is caused by human use of fossil fuels: there has been no increase in the global temperature since 1998 in spite of the fact that carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is considered the major cause of global warming, has continued to increase.  This calls into question any direct cause-and-effect linkage between carbon dioxide and global warming.  This in turn suggests that the continued use of fossil fuels may not produce catastrophic results as global warming advocates like Al Gore have long proclaimed.

The absence of global warming in the past decade or so was noted as long ago as 2008 by Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  According to Lindzen, there had been “no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”

Lindzen and Curry are among the dissenting scientists that AGW advocates seek to silence with their “settled science” mantra.  To re-iterate, this mantra is a political slogan used by those who would use global warming to justify draconian measures to force a shift from fossil fuels to green energy.  Moreover, global warming would also be used to justify annual transfers of as much as $100 billion from developed to undeveloped nations under the guise of offsetting the effects of global warming on these lesser developed nations.

Regarding the transfer of wealth that is involved here, all doubt about the political goals of at least some climate change zealots should be removed by the November 2010 comments of Ottmar Edenhofer, a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  In an interview published by the Neue Zürchen Zeitung, a Swiss German-language daily newspaper based in Zurich, Edenhofer said:  “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

The loftiness of such goals does not justify the invention of fictions to suppress opposition.  As Thomas Mann put this matter:  “In the long run, a harmful truth is better than a useful lie.”  Dissent and disagreement are crucial to the advancement of knowledge according to philosopher Karl Popper, who also noted that scientific theories can never be completely, finally verified—they can only be falsified.  And, of course, the falsification of a concept hopefully leads to the development of another, more comprehensive one.

Popper’s views are echoed in Thomas S. Kuhn’s classic study, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  Kuhn, a physicist turned historian of science, argued convincingly that science is an open-ended process composed of a never-ending series of cycles.  For the sake of example, we may start this cycle with the establishment of a paradigm, a theoretical framework that is accepted and supported by a body of scientists.  These scientists then seek to explain a set of natural phenomena in terms of the paradigm.  In addition to explaining phenomena, the paradigm determines the questions scientists ask about these phenomena.

When a paradigm is first established, there are still problems to be solved within its context; Kuhn refers to this as the puzzle-solving phase of the scientific cycle.  The challenge of solving these puzzles is one feature of the paradigm that attracts adherents.  However, at some point, new puzzles emerge that cannot be explained within the accepted paradigm.  (Think here of the absence of an increase in global temperature in spite of a continuing increase in the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.)  These anomalies now drive the cycle into a crisis phase in which adherents to the old framework begin to think outside the confines of the paradigm.  A new theoretical framework emerges and wins supporters.  The cycle begins anew.

Science at the end of the nineteenth century illustrates what can happen when practitioners conclude that they have achieved a complete understanding of some aspect of the natural world.  According to historian Lawrence Badash, a number of scientists in the late 1800s concluded that they had developed a complete theoretical framework.  All that remained to be done was to secure more precise measurements that could be used to improve “‘physical constants to the increased accuracy represented by another decimal place.’”

Within a decade or so of such pronouncements, an entire world of new phenomena emerged.  The discovery of X-rays, radioactivity, electrons, etc., ended the era of classical physics that had begun with Sir Isaac Newton and spawned the quantum and relativity revolutions.

Lest a reader conclude that the situation in classical physics is not commensurate with today’s science, here are comments on the open-ended nature of science from two leading contemporary scientists.  According to Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous scientists of our day:  “Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis:  you can never prove it.  No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.

On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.”  Similar views have been expressed by Freeman Dyson, a physicist who made major contributions in the field of quantum mechanics.  In his 1985 Gifford Lectures, which were later published in book form under the title Infinite in All Directions, Dyson wrote:  “The cutting edge of science moves rapidly.  New discoveries and new ideas often turn whole fields of science upside down within a few years.”

The insights of these two scientists would seem to be unknown to far too many advocates of AGW/climate change who seem incapable of confronting anomalies spawned by increasing knowledge of phenomena like cloud cover, sun spots, and cosmic radiation.

Finally, virtually no one seems to remember the grave warning that President Dwight Eisenhower issued concerning the undue influence of a scientific-technological elite.  While Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex is one of the most oft-quoted presidential pronouncements, few seem to remember that Eisenhower also told us in the same speech that “the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture” had been spawned by “the technological revolution during recent decades.”

Eisenhower went on to say that this revolution thrust scientists and technicians into positions of unprecedented influence.  Of this situation, Eisenhower warned:  “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy should itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

For several years now, some members of our scientific elite have been using the “science is settled” mantra in an effort to quash opposition to their position on human-induced climate change.  Science and all of us will suffer should they succeed.

This article was submitted by Donald Baucom. Donald R. Baucom graduated in 1962 from the USAF Academy with a BS in Engineering Sciences.  In 1976, he received his Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Oklahoma and taught for six years in the Air Force Academy Department of History.  After twenty-eight years in the Air Force, he served as the civil service historian for DOD’s missile defense program for thirteen years.  His book, The Origins of SDI, was awarded the 1992 Leopold Prize by the Organization of American Historians.  Dr. Baucom retired from DOD in 2003 and now lives in El Prado, NM.

 

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