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  • How to Bury the Lede

    January 30, 2007
    Are you an aspiring journalist for Reuters? If so, you need to know how to "bury the lede," which is insider journo-talk for ignoring the real story in favor of the story you want to tell. Here's a great example. From the report - "millions to go hungry, waterless" - you'd think that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had found that global warming was intensifying. Then we have this:
    The panel is to release a report on Friday in Paris forecasting global temperatures rising by 2 to 4.5 Celsius (3.6 to 8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, with a "best estimate" of a 3C (5.4 F) rise.
    Wait a minute. What did the last IPCC report say...
  • Piggies going to market

    January 30, 2007
    There is a respectable, if (we feel) incorrect, case to be made for the idea of raising taxes to lower demand for an activity or product that causes externalities.  Politicians and economists who support this idea call themselves The Pigou Club, after the British economist who first suggested the theory. No such respectability applies to the snuffling snouts that are trying to get into the ethanol trough.  Appropriately, Arnold Kling suggests we call politicians (few economists there) who support this boondoggle The Pig Club.  We heartily endorse this suggestion.
  • More meddling in the market

    January 30, 2007
    I post this article, despite its breathless credulity about the imminence of a world beyond petroleum, because it reveals how Washington works. Bush and the corn lobby will ask Congress for a biofuels mandate that drives up the cost of gasoline. Congress and the Big Three will ask Bush for tax credits to sell more cars that use the more costly fuel. Gas substitutes boost the flex-fuel car Soon, alternative fuels might be made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber - and new cars would be able to run on them. By Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, January 26, 2007 Prospects are brightening for a big change at your local service station. Instead of just regular, plus, and premium, gas stations in a few years may well be offering fuel made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber. And new cars would be...
  • The latest on the Conspiracy to Keep the Poor Poor

    January 29, 2007
    Over at, columnist Mary Katharine Ham comments on the premiere of the documentary Mine Your Own Business (the screening was co-sponsored by CEI). She quotes the World Wide Fund for Nature's Mark Fenn, who in the film makes this gem of an admission:
    "In Madagascar, the indicators of quality of life are not housing. They're not nutrition, specifically. They're not health in a lot of cases. It's not education. A lot of children in Fort Dauphin do not go to school because the parents don't consider that to be important…People are economically disadvantaged, people have no jobs, but if I could put you with a family and you...
  • The "scientific consensus" is no longer alarming enough for global warming alarmists

    January 29, 2007
    Some global warming alarmists, including a few scientists, are complaining about the forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Apparently, the twenty-odd page Summary for Policymakers isn't alarming enough for them. Thus, after years of establishing the IPCC reports as representing the scientific consensus -- from which there is no appeal and upon which thousands of the world's top scientists work and about which all agree that it's perfect -- now the alarmists are trying out a new song and dance. To wit: The Assessment Reports are the work of the establishment and therefore can only come to very "conservative" conclusions so as not to offend anyone. Tell that to Dr. R. K. Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, who announced early in his tenure that the problem with the first...
  • It's Hotter Than the White Party: Miami's Big Plans

    January 29, 2007
    Cuban exiles have long been looking forward to the day when their homeland is no longer goverend by aging revolutionary Fidel Castro, but now the city of Miami (where more than a few ex-cubanos find themselves living) is going beyond wistful daydreams and making concrete plans for Castro Is Dead Day:
    The city of Miami is planning an official celebration at the Orange Bowl whenever Cuban president Fidel Castro dies....
  • Risky Academic Business

    January 26, 2007
    The management of risk has long been an area of interest at CEI, so we will be watching with interest the development of a new position at the University of Cambridge: professor of risk.
    What are the odds of being poisoned or marrying the wrong person? How dangerous is it to catch a plane? Is it worth taking a punt on the stock market? Whether it's health or wealth, we're expected to weigh up the risks of everyday living. But even though we might be given the statistics, it's not always easy to put such numbers into a meaningful perspective.
    So in an attempt to help people and institutions make sense of statistics, the University of Cambridge is creating a new professorship, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of...
  • More fuel on the "food or fuel" issue

    January 26, 2007
    “If the country is going to meet the ethanol industry's corn needs, we're going to have to cut back on feed, cut back on food.” So said an agricultural economist in another news article today about the soaring price of corn because of the ethanol frenzy. Back in September 2006 Dennis Avery was predicting that very dilemma in his CEI monograph, “Biofuels, Food, or Wildlife? The Massive Land Costs of U.S. Ethanol.” Read the whole report for more insights like these:
    There are significant trade-offs, however, involved in the massive expansion of the production of corn and other crops for fuel. Chief among these would be a shift of major amounts of the world's food supply to fuel use when significant elements of the human population remains...
  • Will Bush repeal ethanol tariff? Don't bet on it.

    January 26, 2007
    From a free-market perspective, the only redeeming social value in the Bush Administration's biofuels initiative is the proposal to lift the 54-cents-a-gallon tariff and 2.5 percent ad valorem duty on imported ethanol. Think about it for a moment. If the goal is to lower gasoline prices and increase the diversity of fuels available to American consumers, then ending the virtual ban on Brazilian ethanol -- which comes from sugarcane and is less expensive than the Iowa-corn-fed variety -- is a no-brainer. Ditto if the goal is to damp the flow of petrodollars to Middle East governments suspected of funding terrorists. But Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa takes strong exception to the Administration's proposal. Given Washington's addiction to pork and the prominence of the Iowa Caucuses in the upcoming presidential...
  • Kyoto = blackouts

    January 26, 2007
    I recently debated a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) activist on global warming and the future of the U.S. electricity supply. The activist made the "negawatts" argument that conservation should be our leading source of power. Utilities, she said, should not plan to build new capacity until they have exhausted every option to improve their energy efficiency and that of their customers. The debate took place in the conference center of a hotel in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. In the Q&A segment, a representative from the local utility noted that the population in their service area was projected to grow by 1 million people in the next three years. "Efficiency enhancements may help us manage demand in our existing customer base," he said, "but there's no way we can serve a million new customers without new capacity" (or words to that effect). Moreover, he noted, what was...


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