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OpenMarket: Energy and Environment

  • Earth Day Prep II

    April 17, 2007
    In a release announcing its Earth Day preparations, the Earth Day Network urges people to "Register and Find Earth Day Events & Sermons." [Emphasis added.] Environmentalism a religion? Hardly. (Thanks to Margaret Griffis for the link.)
  • Earth Day Prep

    April 17, 2007
    With Earth Day coming up, will winter-like temperatures take some steam out of the recently invigorated climate alarmist train? That may be a fear among some doomsters, according to a news story linked from the Drudge Report today. The Ithaca Journal reports on the mood in the cold upstate New York town:
    While snow piles up outside our windows, we may be hard-pressed to believe climate change is occurring, global temperatures are rising and the planet is on a crash course of serious change if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. That message was delivered on Friday in Albany by Arthur DeGaetano, a Cornell University professor and the head of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.
  • Ethanol jacking up fertilizer prices

    April 17, 2007
    Ethanolics never tire of telling us that the current ethanol mandate, President Bush's 20/10 program (requiring 20% or 35 billion gallons of the nation's motor fuel to come from corn and other plant materials by 2017), and kindred regulatory initiatives are “good for farmers.” In reality, such policies are wealth-transfer schemes—zero-sum games in which one farmer's gain is another's loss. Once again, big daddy government robs Peter to pay Paul.
  • Attack of the Killer Bee Killers

    April 16, 2007
    We know cell phones don't give you cancer, but according to some people quoted by The Independent in the UK, they are messing with bees:
    The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a...
  • Food prices rising – ethanol push a major culprit

    April 16, 2007
    It's becoming a refrain now — ethanol boom adds to rising food prices. Today the Wall Street Journal focuses (subscription required) on higher food prices spurred by the increased demand for corn for ethanol production. The Journal quotes a variety of food producers — from Tyson Foods to Kellogg Co., and even Wm. Wrigley Jr. and its chewing gums — on the increased costs for corn, as well as high-fructose corn syrup. And it's not likely that the prices represent a temporary spike — principally because of the government programs promoting biofuels. As economist Kenneth Beauchemin is quoted as saying:
    [T]he difference now is that the governments push to promote ethanol, unlike a...
  • More on Muir

    April 13, 2007
    John, yes. . .but I mentioned Pinchot because I knew you had good things to say about him. Personally, I would likely be on the opposite side of Muir in most debates—and the opposite side of Pinchot in even more. Many areas of currently public land would be far better off in private hands with no real restrictions on development. But, to the extent that the State owns any land at all beyond what it needs for the actual core business of government, I'd prefer that it make non-economic use of the land. Efforts to "make practical use of" government land is really just economic planning of one sort or another. I realize that, in the short term, it's not practical to privatize as much as either of us would like to. "Worthless" land that belongs to the government by default should also be open to various kinds of development and exploration if someone can find something useful to...
  • A child's idyllic laundry scene

    April 12, 2007
    Richard --

    I enjoyed your laundry post. It's my birthday today — so I'll be indulgent in adding to it.

    When I was a smallish child, my mother did the family's washing with an electric washing machine and a clothes wringer. The sopping wet clothes were pulled through the wringer by turning a handle. It took quite a bit of time and upper-body strength to wash clothes for a family of six.

    After the clothes were wrung out, the heavy basket of clothes was taken out to our back yard, where Mother carefully hung sheets and pillowcases and towels and bedspreads, underwear, blouses, and shirts and skirts on three clotheslines running the width of the yard. Reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over until the basket was empty.

    I would follow my mother to grab...

  • Muir's Meanness and Pinchot's practicality

    April 12, 2007
    Eli, I do indeed praise Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt's forestry chief, in Eco-Freaks. I point out, however, that he was at sword's ends with Muir over many issues, including the damming of Hetch Hetchy valley to provide water to San Francisco. (Pinchot supported it, while Muir was staunchly opposed. Even today, the Sierra Club is trying to get it undammed. But San Francisco pols usually allied with them, such as Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, have basically told them to go jump in the dam.") Pinchot and Roosevelt were true conservationists, as am I, whereas Muir was a preservationist. Unfortunately, today's green groups have...
  • In defense of Muir

    April 12, 2007
    John-- Good post. I agree that a lot of environmentalists are wackos. But I think that Muir actually deserves some due as an environmental thinker those of us who favor freedom can admire. Why? He was honest. The quotation from Muir that you cite perfectly reflects his romantic mindset: he had strong, personal emotions about the world and wanted to share them. He understood the majesty of nature, talked about it forthrightly, and sought to preserve it for its own sake. Although I don't know the source or context of your quote, I have a good idea of where Muir was probably coming from: most plains Indians didn't care at all about the majesty of nature. They wanted to exploit the environment as best they could in order to raise their own standard of living. Among other thing, helped hunt the Buffalo...
  • Regress to the Future: Laundry Edition

    April 12, 2007
    Welcome back to Al Gore's America, where modern conveniences give way to anachronistic annoyances, all in the name of shrinking one's carbon footprint. Today's backward looking enviro-trend is...clotheslines. That's right, it's time to toss out your dryer and its sinful promise of warm, soft garments and embrace the stiff, cardboard-like bath towels of yesteryear. According to the New York Times' Kathy Hughes, it's fun for the whole family:
    As a child, I helped my mother hang laundry in our backyard in Tamaqua, Pa., a small coal mining town. My job was handing up the clothespins. When everything was dry, I helped her fold the sheets in a series of moves that resembled ballroom dancing. The...


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