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OpenMarket: Lands and Wildlife

  • Between the Headlines:"Sustainability" Means Sustainably Poor

    April 21, 2009
    "Mars Sets Goal for Sustainable Cocoa Sources" Another Washington Post story suggests that "sustainability" --whatever it may mean -- still can stir the cold hearts of capitalist managers.  Utopians have long been distressed by the differential working conditions around the world.  Poverty does have less pleasant impacts than affluence.  The problem is that associated with all egalitarian policies. Our desire to improve the plight of the poor too often merely cuts away the rungs on the ladder out of poverty.
  • Trojan Horse "Food Safety" Law

    April 9, 2009
    A misguided bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, may shut down farmer's markets and "drive out of business local farmers and artisanal, small-scale producers of berries, herbs, cheese, and countless other wares, even when there is in fact nothing unsafe in their methods of production," warns Walter Olson at Overlawyered. Ignorance about the law's broad reach (and how it will be construed by the courts) has thwarted opposition to the bill, which will likely pass Congress. For example, a newspaper claims the bill "doesn't regulate home gardens." The newspaper probably assumed that was true...
  • One Down, Six to Go!

    April 8, 2009
    Oh the Worries of Our Modern Malthusians! In Washington this week, the Anarctica and Arctic Councils met for the first time.  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, used the occasion to discuss the problems that global warming was “causing” in these areas.  Among the myriad disasters is the possibility that the region’s energy resources will become available and that an all-year passage around the pole might open.   As I recall my history, European explorers spent centuries searching for a Northwest Passage.  Given the massive increases in global trade, the efficiencies...
  • Rise of the Luddites

    April 7, 2009
    When it comes to things such as environmental policy, the Progressives have been rather successful at promoting their world view.  They realized that it would be futile to argue that property rights and human ingenuity could not solve anything - so they did not try (immediately) to socialize oil or other sub-surface minerals but they did succeed in derailing the evolutionary process by which institutions emerged to resolve emerging problems.  The economist Ronald Coase  noted this in an essay pointing out that the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was well on its way to being homesteaded with rules for allowing multiple uses - and then the Feds created the Federal Communication Commission and the spectrum is still terribly managed to this day.   The environment is...
  • Bad News: Scientists Make Cheap Gas from Coal

    March 27, 2009
    This funny headline is the title of a column in the March 26 issue of Wired Science. "Scientists have devised a new way to transform coal into gas for your car using far less energy than the current [Fisher-Tropsche] process," Wired reports. "The advance makes scaling up the environmentally unfriendly fuel more economical than greener alternatives." Now, you might think that inexpensive motor fuel is a good thing, especially in these times of financial peril, fiscal chaos, and high unemployment. In addition, since America is the "Saudi Arabia of coal," conversion of coal to motor fuel, provided it is economical and market-driven, could enhance U.S. energy security. So why is this "bad news"? Because coal-derived fuel "could produce twice as much CO2 [carbon dioxide] as traditional petroleum...
  • Post-Modern Food Fetish

    March 25, 2009
    There’s very little that’s romantic about keeping a big backyard garden, and less still about the actual practice of producing meaningful amounts of food. But, last Thursday’s photo op may be the last time any member of the First Family has to actually do it. “By Mrs. Obama’s own admission, the White House vegetable patch will be tended mostly by the White House staff.” It would be good for this country’s kids to know more about where there food comes from. But, the First Lady’s Potemkin Garden certainly won’t teach them.
  • Human Achievement Hour

    March 23, 2009
    This week CEI announced the creation of Human Achievement Hour (HAH) to be celebrated at 8:30pm on March 28th 2009 (the same time and date of Earth Hour). Our press release described ways people might celebrate the achievements of humanity such as eating diner, seeing a film, driving around, keeping the heat on in your home—all things that Earth Hour celebrators, presumably, should be refraining from. In the cheekiest manner, we claimed that anyone not foregoing the use of electricity in that hour is, by default, celebrating the achievements of human beings. Needless to say, the enviros in the blogosphere didn’t take to kindly to our announcement. Matthew Wheeland, an environmental journalist called the holiday “...
  • Alarmists turn blind eye to global warming benefits--again

    March 23, 2009
    Tomorrow, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the national security threats from melting Arctic ice. Greenwire (subscription required), the Online environmental news service, explains the rationale for the hearing:
     In a report last year, the European Commission warned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must be prepared for an intensified "scramble for resources" as melting glaciers and sea ice open up previously inaccessible areas to exploitation. The report explicitly expressed concerns over "long term relations with Russia," (ClimateWire, April 2, 2008).
    Now, opening up "previously inaccessible" areas to oil and gas development could also be a font of economic and national security ...
  • Ironic Snowfall for Resource-Rich Greenies

    March 2, 2009
    Environmentalists characterize themselves as petite Davids battling gargantuan corporate Goliaths in order to grab media attention.  But hundreds of green activists demonstrated today to raise awareness of global warming and against coal production in front of the Capital Power Plant in southeast Washington D.C.  The group had plenty of resources ranging from a raised stage with microphones, to trucks loaded with food and coffee, to green plastic helmets, all the way down to fluorescent caps and fancy colored anti-industry signs. We, the counter protesters, were comprised about 25 to 30 Davids.  Participants hailed from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)—the event organizers—as well as the producers of the film Not Evil Just Wrong, the National Mining Association (NMA), American for Prosperity (AFP), the National Center for Public...
  • What would it mean to have no "environmental footprint"?

    February 16, 2009
    Maybe to have no life. As this article over at the Ayn Rand Institute points out, the more "eco-friendly" you try to live, the more apparent the contradictions in that green philosophy become.
    Everything we do to sustain our lives has an impact on nature. Every value we create to advance our well-being--every ounce of food we grow, every structure we build, every iPhone we manufacture--is produced by extracting raw materials and reshaping them to serve our needs. Every good thing in our lives comes from altering nature for our own benefit. From the perspective of human life and happiness, a big "environmental footprint" is an enormous positive. This is why people in India and China are striving to increase theirs: to build better roads, more cars and computers, new factories...

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