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  • The tension between science and alarmism

    December 21, 2006
    Early last month, at about the time of the publication of the Stern Review with its inclusion of "catastrophe" in its analysis of the risks of global warming, Mike Hulme, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, warned that things were getting out of hand:
    I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns.
    He concluded:
    I believe climate change is real, must be faced and action taken. But the discourse of catastrophe is in danger of tipping society onto a negative, depressive and...
  • Who gets the farm pork?

    December 20, 2006
    According to news reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will release on Wednesday a database showing just which farmers get part of the $56 billion in subsidies listed. Although this information has been available, the data have been difficult to locate and it has been almost impossible to find the names of individuals who received subsidy payments. The USDA said the database is too huge for its website, so it is distributing the data to some news organizations and to the Environmental Working Group, which said it will post the info online. The EWG site shows that in 2005, the top 10 percent of recipients were paid 66 percent of all USDA subsidies, and the top 1 percent of those receiving payments got 20 percent of the total. As debate on the 2007...
  • Green for the Holidays?

    December 20, 2006
    The New York Times reports today that Boston has announced a plan to comply with “green building” codes for city projects. And, no, we are not talking about holiday decorations. The city, like many other cities that have made this commitment, is supposed design construction projects in ways that save water, energy, and other resources. You would think such standards would always be good for the environment and city budgets. But think again. It appears that much of the time, green building standards are more political than practical. All too often, they are counterproductive and raise costs for taxpayers. CEI details such problems in a paper on the topic Todd Meyers.
  • A woman for all seasons -- Marquise du Chatelet

    December 20, 2006
    Two books about her have been published this year, numerous book reviews have hailed her role in the Enlightenment, and an op-ed in the Financial Times today extolled her accomplishments. This week marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Marquise du Châtelet, ...
  • Psst. Things are good. Pass it on.

    December 20, 2006
    In a world were geriatric actor Kirk Douglas can say to "America's young people":
    "THE WORLD IS IN A MESS and you are inheriting it...Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, Aids, and suicide bombers to name a few. These problems exist, and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now, we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable."
    It is nice to be reminded, politically unacceptable though it might be, that THE WORLD IS A LOT LESS MESSIER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE. Long-time friend of CEI Dr. Indur Goklany has written a...
  • What do economists really think about global warming

    December 20, 2006
    Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University has the answer. He polled American economists and found:
    The results show that most economists are not alarmed by the likelihood of continued carbon dioxide emissions. The Great Depression of 1929 to 1933 caused inflation-adjusted GDP to fall a numbing 27%. Few economists think that rising GHGs will have anywhere near this impact - only one in eight predict that GDP will fall by more than 10 percent. Almost twice as many believe that rising greenhouse gas levels will cause the economy to grow. The most popular response is that rising greenhouse gas levels will have virtually no impact on income per person (less than 1 percent lower or higher). The vast majority (73.2%) predict that the impact will be less than 5 percent one way or the other. (Here are the...
  • A Bold Prediction

    December 20, 2006
    Myron wrote earlier about how the Senate Democrats are showing no urgency to tackle global warming, otherwise known as The Greatest Threat Facing the Planet (TM - Al Gore). I challenged them to show their commitment to Saving the Planet by bringing Kyoto to the floor for ratification, even if that meant (gasp!) changing procedural rules. No dice. Now, Stuart Eizenstat, who negotiated Kyoto for the Clinton-Gore team, admits that the Democrats won't do anything to faced down The Greatest Threat Facing the Planet:...
  • D.C. Council Gives Criminals Special Protections

    December 20, 2006
    The Washington, D.C. Council voted 10 to 2 yesterday to ban employers from considering criminal records in housing, hiring or employment, if the criminal's probation or parole officer thinks he has achieved "a degree of rehabilitation." The bill was sponsored by convicted felon Marion Barry. So if a couple with small children doesn't want to rent a room in their duplex to a sex offender who is supposedly "rehabilitated," it can be sued for punitive damages. And if a supposedly reformed bank robber wants to work for a bank, the bank has to ignore his criminal record. The only paper to cover the bill's passage was the D.C. Examiner, which buried the story deep in an inside page that few people will read, and which is available only in a PDF version of the entire page. (See second story under "News in Brief"). Oddly,...
  • Will Bush Disavow the Entry-Level Job Elimination Act?

    December 20, 2006
    It's almost cliched now to say that free market advocates expecting Republicans to control the growth of government shows the triumph of hope over experience, but the Bush Administration doesn't seem to even pretend to fight. Today, the President said that he would support a hike in the federal minimum wage, from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour, in exchange for "targeted tax and regulatory relief" for small businesses. Yes, the minimum wage hike is popular and enjoys political momentum. It's bad policy, but it's a great issue for left-liberals to grandstand on because its costs are hidden -- there is no organized political pressure group of people who would have occupied jobs that an increased minimum wage kept from coming into being. So...
  • This, however, is not satire

    December 19, 2006
    Last year, a British MP calculated that Santa Claus' annual trip round the world was environmentally damaging:
    It has been calculated that Santa's team of nine reindeer would emit methane with a global warming impact equivalent to more than 40,600 tonnes of greenhouse gases on the 122 million mile Christmas Eve dash to deliver presents around the world. That would make his marathon sleigh ride almost as environmentally damaging as an aircraft, which would produce approximately 41,500 tonnes of on the Christmas Eve trip.
    The MP of course had some sanctimonious advice for Father Christmas:
    The methane calculations were made by Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Tom Brake. He said the best Christmas present for the environment would be if Santa took the bus, which would keep his total...

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