Inconvenient truths

We interrupt your weekend again (it’s the calendar’s fault) to announce that today is Earth Day.

While Earth Day isn’t on Good Friday as it was last year, Earth Day on Sunday is sort of ironically appropriate given that Earth Day is about worshiping the earth, instead of focusing in more appropriate areas.

Nothing has happened in the past year to change my observation from a year ago that the original goals of preserving the natural environment (as in conservationist Theodore Roosevelt) and not wasting natural resources (whether or not they are scarce) have metastasized into collectivism (April 22 is also Vladimir Lenin’s birthday; I wonder if Gaylord Nelson or Ira Einhorn knew that), bigger government, scientific bias instead of the scientific method, and shunning those who dare question the followers of Gaia.

Think I’m kidding about Lenin? Alan Caruba points out:

There is a reason that the upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd, falls on the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the former Soviet Union’s first dictator. Everything associated with the environmental movement has communism as its basis.

In February, KPMG, a Swiss entity and “a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services” operating in 152 countries, held a conference that attracted “more than 600 top CEOs and senior business leaders from many of the world’s major corporations.” It was held in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the United Nationals Environmental Programme. Among those attending were former President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It issued a report, “Business Perspective on Sustainable Growth: Preparing for Rio+20 and offered recommendations “to scale-up investment in sustainable development, provide strong price signals on resource scarcity and environmental impacts” and “deliver new platforms for public-private collaboration at the international and national levels.”

In other words, the UN is laying the groundwork to ensure that its bogus sustainability agenda will offer enough inducements to the global business community to ensnare them in its control.

In an article by Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post, he characterized Rio+20 saying, “It’s as if the high priests of Occupy the Planet and the Green Apocalypse—having run their old socialist and environmental engines into the ground—have stumbled across a new set of rationalizations and slogans.”

As if the Obama administration hasn’t wasted billions on its green energy agenda, funding one failed renewable energy company after another, the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced in March that it will sponsor its third annual “GreenGov” Symposium September 24-26 in Washington, D.C.

“The Symposium will bring together leaders from government, the private sector, non-profits and academia to identify opportunities to create jobs, grow clean energy industries, and curb pollution by incorporating sustainable practices into the Federal Government’s operations.” If this wasn’t so ludicrous, I’d laugh, but these are the lies the Obama administration wants you to believe. …

The nation’s energy needs and its dollar are being weakened in order to eliminate it as the only real deterrent to the United Nation’s, Russia’s and China’s global ambitions.

Environmentalists have awarded themselves the right to stick their noses in your business in such areas as whether or not you have children (children: bad), your distance from home to work, your transportation choices (driving: bad; mass transit: good), and even your menu choices (meat: bad). With the exception of the free-market environmentalist subset, the environmentalist movement (1) denies any progress has been made in cleaning up the environment, (2) believes their lifestyle choices are superior to yours, and therefore (3) wants government to mandate that you live according to their standards instead of yours.

Think I’m exaggerating about points two and three? Read Steve Zwick:

Let’s take a page from those Tennessee firemen we heard about a few times last year – the ones who stood idly by as houses burned to the ground because their owners had refused to pay a measly $75 fee.

We can apply this same logic to climate change.

We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies.  Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay.  Let’s let their houses burn.  Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands.  Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

They broke the climate.  Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?

Obviously, the ideal solution is to get our collective act together and prevent this from happening, but we need a fall-back – a mechanism that puts responsibility for damages on the shoulders of the shirkers and deniers who cause it and profit from it, and we need to build that mechanism before the damages materialize.

Why is paying someone to write this fertilizer is beyond my ability to comprehend, unless it’s to give commenters the opportunity to eviscerate Zwick as a world-class hypocrite.

This has gotten substantially worse under the Obama administration, which decided to throw union jobs under the bus by refusing to approve the Keystone Pipeline. Their apparatchiks in Wisconsin, including state Sen. Dale Schultz (RINO–Richland Center), did the same by killing taconite mining up North. And this is a state that believes one appropriate use of tax dollars is to spend tens of millions of dollars a year to buy land to take it off the tax rolls and open it for only “low-impact” activities, in the words of the state Department of Natural Resources, which never seem to include hunting, fishing, or all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile use.

I always enjoy reading the rhetorical middle finger IowaHawk points at the greenies with his annual Earth Week Cruise-In, a salute to vehicles that would cause environmentalists to have a stroke. I used to own one, and had it not been for $4-per-gallon gas and the car’s accompanying 26-gallon gas tank, I would own it today. (Well, that and the fact that 37 years after its assembly,  the car has probably dissolved from rust, though I bet the engine still is running today. As it turned out, simultaneous car payments and repair bills meant the barge replacement was not my best purchasing decision.)

It’s amusing to see green intentions fail to pan out, as long your money isn’t involved. For instance, there is the “green” industry, which is not green in terms of return on investment, as the MacIver Institute reports:

ZBB Energy, a Menomonee Falls based green energy company, is in a race to bring new green technologies to market as it finds itself in the center of the debate over whether government financial assistance can launch and sustain a green economy here in the United States.

President Obama visited ZBB Energy back in August of 2010 to promote the green economy and why the federal government should step in to get this sector of the economy off the ground. …

During his visit, President Obama vowed to create 800,000 green energy jobs by 2012. …

Investors and the stock market have not always appeared to share in the President’s optimism.  ZBB Energy stock ended the year at 71 cents a share. The day of Obama’s visit, the stock closed at $.70. Some believe investors are generally weary of green energy companies, especially startups, because these companies have high risk: they incur high overhead and generate low revenue while they attempt to develop new technologies that may or may not be profitable.

That’s where federal and state governments step in, providing those companies with massive tax breaks and loans. Many companies state in their SEC filings they could not survive without this preferred treatment. However, as we’ve seen, government favoritism is not a guarantee of success.

Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer in California, received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009. Two years later the company was out of business.

ZBB Energy has received significantly less help from the federal government than Solyndra. In June, the IRS awarded it a $14.7 million Clean Energy Tax Credit.  In 2009 it received a $1.3 million stimulus loan.

The stock market has been a consistent challenge for ZBB Energy. In December 2010, AMEX notified ZBB its shareholders’ equity was below the minimum $4 million required to continue being listed. This December, the company announced its shareholders equity was at $4.1 million and it was back in compliance.

However, ZBB’s stock still trends downward. It closed at $5.80 on June 18, 2007, three days after the company executed a 1:17 reverse split. Since then, it’s been downhill. On December 20, 2011 it closed at 74 cents a share and has not broken $1/share since September.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reviewed David Owen’s The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation,
Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse. 
Owen ranks as an enviroweenie, but he correctly shows not just how living green doesn’t work, but how really living green means significant sacrifice:

The tough-love upbraiding in The Conundrum seems mostly directed at hybrid-driving, energy- efficient-lightbulb-screwing locavores convinced that such practices will set the world on a path to green salvation. Owen’s book brings deflating news: Most supposedly sustainable products and eco-living strategies are, he writes, “irrelevant or make the real problems worse.”

Owen’s logic is backed up by an economic principle known as the “rebound effect”: Advances in energy efficiency lower the cost of a given activity, which causes people to engage in that activity more, canceling out not only savings but also environmental benefits. Owen keeps a 1940s aluminum beer can on his desk. It weighs five times more than today’s can of Bud Light. Efficiency gains made beer cans cheaper to produce, transport, and dispose of. The cost of popping a brew declined so that more people can do it, using up more aluminum, not less.

It doesn’t take long for him to establish the Prius Fallacy: “a belief that switching to an ostensibly more efficient travel mode turns mobility itself into an environmental positive.” Owen cites statistics showing that as government officials have moved to increase automobile fuel efficiency, our gas consumption has gone up, not down. We simply drive more miles as a species. He also disses HOV lanes, traffic-control systems, and even smartphone apps for finding a parking spot as “counterproductive from an environmental point of view because they make drivers even happier with cars than they were already.”

The Conundrum is littered with other dilemmas. Air conditioners are more efficient and cheap; ergo, more homes are now air-conditioned. The more affordable lightbulbs get, the more they’re left on. Airplanes are more energy-efficient and faster than at any point in history, and therefore cheaper to fly longer distances. Owen is unafraid of questioning even that most sacred principle of guilt-free green living: eating local, organic food. Well-meaning consumers will drive minivans long distances to buy small quantities of organic food at urban farmers markets supplied by growers who make the schlep in trucks loaded at farms well beyond the suburbs. “If all the world’s groceries traveled from farm to fork in minivans, two bags at a time, we’d have exhausted many of the world’s resources long ago,” the author writes. …

A stay-the-course, hope-for-the-best strategy is ludicrous to Owen. Instead, he’d like humans to live closer together and holds up New York City as a model. The metropolis is dense, living spaces are restricted, public transportation is (mostly) convenient, and car ownership is low. More important, he says, populations and governments should embrace strategies that effectively force reduced consumption of the planet’s natural resources. He would like us, metaphorically and perhaps actually, to drive Model T’s.

The environmentalists will not tell you today that the most environmentally responsible societies fall into two groups — those who are so economically backward that they haven’t even gotten to slash-and-burn agriculture, and those who are wealthy enough to absorb the costs of environmental protection without damaging their economies. The former Warsaw Pact countries are one giant toxic waste dump because their economies didn’t generate enough wealth (thanks to their collectivist structures, comrades) to be able to afford environmental protection.

Happily, not everyone appears to have fallen for the envirowacko claptrap we’ve been inundated with since Earth Day b began in 1970 and has intensified under the Obama administration. I hope there are more people younger than, well, me, like Katie Kieffer out there:

Coal is my lifestyle. Coal allows me to turn darkness into light at the flip of a switch. Coal allows me to brew a cup of coffee, toast a bagel and pour a class of refrigerated orange juice in minutes. Coal lets me text friends and find directions from my fully-charged iPhone. Coal grants me the ability to use machines to wash and dry my week’s laundry pile while I run on my treadmill. Coal allows me to heat my Minneapolis bedroom to a balmy 72 degrees while snow and freezing winds pelt the roof. Basically, coal means that Americans like you and me can live like kings and queens on a pauper’s budget.

I think every American—progressive, moderate or conservative—should be concerned that the President of the United States is putting coal out of business and raising the cost of ordinary living. His EPA just released new carbon dioxide emission limits that will effectively put new coal-fired electric plants out of business, thereby raising the cost of energy at a time when record numbers of Americans are jobless and homeless. …

A new study shows that young people couldn’t care less about going “green.” Sure, we care about the earth and we dislike pollution; no one wants to live in smog. But don’t ask us to pay to combat climate change while we struggle to pay our bills and compete with hundreds of our qualified peers for the same paltry job openings. …

Good science does not emerge from “group-think” exercises. The Heartland Institute points out that it would not matter if 99 percent of scientists confidently held the theory that humans significantly contribute to climate change—one scientist, doing a single experiment, could disprove this theory. And as Rush Limbaugh has said: “There’s nothing democratic about science. The earth does not revolve around the sun because a consensus of human beings says so.” …

I’m will not give up my high-tech lifestyle so that synthetic climate scientists can keep their global funding. And, I’m unwilling to live through blackouts and pay three times as much to toast my morning bagel so that an unconstitutional agency like the EPA can kill new, coal-fired electric plants.

(The EPA stands for “Employment Prevention Agency,” by the way.)

There is one, and only one, reason to do anything green, and it has nothing to do with the environment; it has to do with a different kind of green. You save money when you use less electricity, natural gas or water. But green purchases make sense if, and only if, your financial return on investment exceeds what it will cost you. Given that, for instance, a Chevy Volt costs $10,000 more than an average car, the only way a Volt makes financial sense is if you will save the difference between the Volt’s price tag and the price of a comparable conventionally powered car.

Later today, my son’s Cub Scout troop will be cleaning up the neighborhood park. We will probably participate (“probably” being as definite as a family can usually commit), not because it’s Earth Day, but because the cleanup is an example of community service. And we’ll be walking to the park.


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