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  • Jamaican Malaria: Blame Rachel Carson, not global warming

    December 28, 2006
    Malaria cases in Jamaica have surpassed 160, the Associated Press reports. This is the first outbreak there in more than four decades. One headline says, incorrectly as we will see, "Jamaica Fights Rare Malaria Outbreak." Expect to hear endless arguments about how this is due to global warming and human-induced climate change. How horrific it is that human are changing the natural climate cycles!      One problem with this theory! The disease was never "rare" in Jamaica until man-made DDT, despised by enviros from Rachel Carson onward, wiped it out there in the 1960s. Malaria...
  • Bear-faced Opportunism

    December 28, 2006
    With the bald eagle poised to come off the endangered species list (huzzah!), another species of charismatic megafauna is needed to replace it as the Endangered Species Act's totem.  Step forward, the polar bear:
    The Bush administration has decided to propose listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, putting the U.S. government on record as saying that global warming could drive one of the world's most recognizable animals out of existence. The proposal--described by an Interior Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity--stems from the fact that rising temperatures in the Arctic are shrinking the sea ice that...
  • EU Honesty

    December 28, 2006
    Some remarkable statements about the EU's greenhouse gas emissions performance in an official EU document by Eija-Riitta Korhola, Vice-Chair of Kokoomus (Finnish National Coalition Party), and EPP (EU center-right party grouping) Rapporteur on Energy Policy and Member of the European Parliament:
    "[T]he EU's political decisions and rhetoric are sound but their implementation is becoming problematic."
    "The truth is that unless something radical is devised the EU will soon have to admit that it cannot achieve its Kyoto goals."
    "Now that the internal emissions trading regime in Europe has been in effect for more than a year and a half, most of the European stakeholders in energy intensive industries are remarkably unanimous about the whole system being a mistake....
  • Awards Season

    December 28, 2006
    From Numberwatch, the Sixth Annual Numby Awards.  Readers will be glad to know every effort was made to preserve the planet's delicate ecosystem:
    Once again the Chairman of the Judges was that paragon of urbanity, Sir Hugh Jerrors, Professor of Modelling Those Little Fluffy Bits Round The Edges Of Clouds at the Metropolitan University of Nether Wallop. There was a murmur of disapproval as he took out an electric torch in order to read his notes, but this turned to rapturous applause when he announced that it had been charged from his own personal wind generator. After all, he might just have saved the planet. He was outdone, however, by the evening's special guest, Sir Hamish McTwaddle, who had arranged for the light on his lectern to be powered by two small boys on an adapted tandem. Before anyone could...
  • Horsepower to the People

    December 28, 2006
    The great boon that is automobility is set to spread to India, with the introduction of a family car that will cost only $2000.  Naturally, the rajahs of the environmental lobby is apoplectic at this keenly-anticipated extension of people power:
    "It will be a total disaster," said Anumita Roychoudhury, an associate director at the Centre for Science and the Environment in New Delhi. "One person dies every hour in Delhi from air pollution-related diseases and most Indian cities have pollution levels that are twice the permissible limits." Sudhir Bisht, a Delhi resident, said: "India doesn't need more cars. It needs better public transport."
    The people of India seem satisfied that the benefits of automobility outweigh the possibility of increased emissions:
  • Government Has No First Amendment Right to Discriminate

    December 22, 2006
    In November, Michigan voters adopted Proposal 2, a state constitutional amendment that bans racial preferences in state university admissions and in government contracts and employment. State universities like the University of Michigan are now flouting the will of the voters by claiming that they have a First Amendment right to discriminate based on race, no matter what the Michigan Constitution says. They have now challenged Proposal 2 in court, making the audacious claim they have a First Amendment “right” to use race in admissions. They cite Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), a Supreme Court decision which found a compelling interest in using race in college admissions to promote "diversity," for that claim. The Grutter decision was based partly on concepts of academic freedom that are, in turn, rooted partly in the First Amendment. But the Grutter decision...
  • Scenario planning writ large in the UK

    December 22, 2006
    I came across a UK government site that looks into the future across a range of issues. It's part of the UK's Foresight Program. Herewith a description:
    Foresight, and its associated horizon scanning centre aims to provide challenging visions of the future, to ensure effective strategies now. It does this by providing a core of skills in science-based futures projects and unequalled access to leaders in government, business and science.
    Now, it appears that Foresight's Horizon Scanning Centre has two current scans: The Sigma Scan and the Delta Scan. The Sigma Scan is herewith described on its site:
    The Sigma Scan is a quality assured synthesis of some of the world's best Horizon Scanning sources. It...
  • Subsidies don't work

    December 22, 2006
    A good story in the New York Times about how subsidies to domestic oil and gas producers are a waste of taxpayer dollars:
    Analysts said the meager impact of royalty incentives was not surprising: for oil and gas companies deciding whether to drill in deep water, the potential money involved in royalty incentives is small compared with the money at stake in changes of market prices. Eliminating royalties on oil or gas will save a company 12 to 16 percent on some of its production. But those savings are minuscule compared with the nearly fourfold increase in oil prices from $15 a barrel in 1999 to more than $70 this summer.
    CEI has long opposed federal subsidies to oil and gas companies. As it's Christmas...
  • Farming is big business – with big government handouts

    December 22, 2006
    The Washington Post continued its hard-hitting series attacking farm subsidies today. The article notes that some important counter-forces to the big-bucks farm lobbies are emerging to offer the moral high ground arguments. Yesterday's article pointed out how the biggest share of farm support goes to large-scale farmers, not the small family farm:
    Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies. And their share of federal payments is growing -- more than doubling over the past decade for the biggest...
  • Farewell to Frank

    December 22, 2006
    Frank Johnson, the Thatcherite journalist and wit, died recently at the tragically early age of 63. It has been a bad year for Thatcherites - we lost Ralph Harris and Milton Friedman as well this year - but John O'Sullivan reminds us of the zeal with which Thatcherites opposed the nanny state in the 1970s in his excellent obituary for Frank in ConservativeHome. A sample:
    No one present when the TUC's Len Murray attended one of Bill Deedes's Telegraph drink parties could have doubted that Frank had digested the full Thatcherite creed. Murray was arguing that the workers in a failing company deserved financial compensation because they had “invested their lives” in it.“I would be a little wary of that argument, Lord Murray,” I said politely, “because if that were so..." ”When the company...


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