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  • The Weather Channel Gets Emotional

    January 5, 2007 3:12 PM

    Tired of tuning into The Weather Channel and getting nothing but temperature forecasts, rain totals and color-coded maps? Worry not cable junkies - TWC is making a bold foray, away from such quotidian programming into the exciting world of climate change panic and pandemonium:

    The Weather Channel is now engaged in a con job on the American people, attempting to scare the public that their actions are destroying the planet by creating a global warming crisis.

    The move away from scientific forecasting of the weather to sensationalized leftist political advocacy is in part due to the influence of Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel Networks.

    [...]

    Media Village reported that the move by The Weather Channel "is intended to establish a broader perspective on the weather category and, says Lucas, to move the brand from functional to emotional."

    Emotional weather forecasting?

    Exactly - these days it's not so much about how the climate actually functions, but what programming executives at the network feel about what might happen to the climate at some point in the future. After all, isn't that really more important that those boring old facts like which city had which high temperature or where it's going to snow tomorrow?

    WorldNetDaily column link courtesy of Joe Wierzbicki.

  • Ethanol ain't no magic bullet

    January 5, 2007 11:47 AM

    The New York Times has caught up with CEI in assessing the impact of increased production of ethanol and its effect on food production. NYT journalist Alexei Barrionuevo reports today on a new study showing that ethanol plants could use half of the U.S. corn crop next year.

    CEI's own study, “Biofuels, Food, or Wildlife? The Massive Land Costs of U.S. Ethanol,” was published Sept. 21, 2006. Authored by Dennis T. Avery, the report discussed likely effects of a massive shift to ethanol production. Avery noted:

    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 ill-fed.

    Check out Avery's study for some other negative side effects of the government-subsidized ethanol craze.

  • Debunking Dobbs -- Part II

    January 4, 2007 3:37 PM

    In the Christian Science Monitor's Jan. 4 issue, GMU's Don Boudreaux takes a whack at Dobbs in his “open letter” to the huckster of protectionism. Boudreaux writes:

    If you're still skeptical that America's trade deficit is no cause for concern, perhaps you'll be persuaded by Adam Smith, who wrote that "Nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade."

    Smith correctly understood that with free trade, the economy becomes larger than any one nation - a fact that brings more human creativity, more savings, more capital, more specialization, more opportunity, more competition, and a higher standard of living to all those who can freely trade.

    (I think that Don is one of the best economists around writing about trade — and his stuff relates to average Americans. Bravo.)

  • Bhagwati debunks Dobbsians

    January 4, 2007 2:45 PM

    Economist Jagdish Bhagwati does it again — in an FT opinion piece today, he pricks holes in the Dobbsian view that globalization has devastated U.S. jobs and wages. Bhagwati points out that technology — “labor-saving technical change” — has stressed those less skilled in the job market. And, because the process is now continuous and unrelenting, lower-skilled workers find it harder to adjust. He notes:

    I suspect that the answer lies in the intensity of displacement of unskilled labour by information technology-based change and in the fact that this process is continuous now — unlike discrete changes caused by past inventions such as the steam engine. Before the workers get on to the rising part of the J-curve, they run into yet more such technical change, so that the working class gets to go from one declining segment of the J-curve to another.

    That does seem like a somewhat pessimistic view for Bhagwati, however. Of course, technological change most often leads to greater efficiency with fewer workers. But, in discussions about this seemingly continuous chain of displacement, a colleague suggested that the enormous capital expenditures that introductions of new technology entail may mean that fewer jobs are created until some of those costs are amortized. Then, more capital is freed up for job creation — not necessarily, though, in those same sectors.

  • FDA Animal Cloning Decision Comes Years Too Late

    January 4, 2007 10:28 AM

    In an invited post on The Hill's Congress Blog yesterday, I argued that the FDA's announcement that it had officially found meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, and goats to be safe for human consumption was welcome news, but way over due. The National Academy of Science came to the same conclusion four years ago. And even FDA had come to that conclusion three years ago; it just stalled for three additional years culling through more data.

    Unfortunately, way back then, dozens of American ranchers were naive enough to think that government bodies actually make decisions on the merits and not politics. They started plunking down good money -- from $20,000 to $60,000 per animal -- to have their best livestock cloned, thinking it would be just a matter of months before FDA gave them the green light to start selling the offspring into commerce. While FDA dallied, those farmers had to sit and watch their very expensive investments go to waste.

  • Union of Concerned Scientists

    January 3, 2007 2:41 PM

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a 68-page report that claims that Exxon Mobil has funded a disinformation campaign on global warming based on the strategy and tactics used by the tobacco industry. Nearly everything in the report is recycled uncritically from other sources. It's mostly rubbish. Exxon Mobil can defend themselves, but I will comment on the ridiculous charges and misinformation about CEI.

    Here's an example. A Freedom of Information Act request several years ago revealed an e-mail that I had sent to Phil Cooney, then-chief-of-staff to the Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, in 2002. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times published a front-page story that the Bush Administration had conceded that global warming was a big problem by quietly sending a report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Climate Action Report 2002, as it was called, contained major portions of the 2000 National Assessment on the Impacts of Climate Change, a junk science report produced by the Clinton Administration that the Bush Administration had disavowed as a result of a lawsuit filed by CEI. The concession to global warming alarmism reported by Revkin is the fact that Climate Action Report 2002 used a big chunk of the National Assessment.

  • Neo-luddites embark on anti-consumption year

    January 3, 2007 12:27 PM

    In the news today, a group of San Francisco lefties + assorted friends who are renewing a pledge to forego shopping for the entire year. Seems that consumption (in the consumer way, not in the tuberculosis sense) is bad, primarily because of the "negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture" and its supposed harm to local businesses and farms. The yahoo group (how modern of them!) boasts nearly 4000 members, interestingly enough. They pledge not to buy "new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)" and, instead, borrow, barter or buy used things. It's hard to believe intelligent, adult, educated people go for this nonsense. Life is unavoidably based on consumption. The group acknowledges as much with all its borrowing, bartering and buying of used things (not to mention its one day buying binge exception, reference in the AP story). As if consuming used or borrowed things is somehow inherently better than consuming new things?! For one thing, new things, like cars and appliances, are often more energy efficient. More to the point, to suggest that production and consumption should be stopped is to suggest that life itself cease. But if that's the direction these people are headed, maybe we ought not intervene.

  • The Grey Lady's Resolution: "In" -- global warming moderation; "Out" -- alarmism

    January 2, 2007 4:03 PM

    On January 1st the New York Times revealed an astounding New Year's resolution: it starkly shifted course and implicitly promised to rein in its own promotion of global warming alarmism, tossing a few extreme actors overboard in hopes of saving the rest of the movement and their massive taxpayer-funded budgets. ("Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate: Scientists Espouse Measured Response" (log-in required). In so doing, the Times thereby also helpfully rationalizes their political allies' looming failure/refusal to do precisely what they have pounded the table intemperantly for for nearly six years, which is now within their grasp, and which therefore appears far less inviting: rapid -- and, we now know, rash -- enactment of stringent restrictions on energy use emissions.  With the gavel about to switch hands, the Times apparently (and rightly) sensed that this would be a difficult task to affect while simultaneously seeking to maintain a new and fragile majority and also capture the White House.

  • The Lohachara Incident

    December 30, 2006 1:13 PM

    Geoffrey Lean of The Independent on Sunday adds a new element to the catastrophist case:

    "Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true."

    One slight problem with this; Lohachara vanished 20  years ago:

    "Lohachara and Bedford islands, with an area of more than six square kilometres between them, 'vanished from the map' two decades ago."

    More at Tim Blair's site.

    Expect this one to appear in the catastrophist litany as something that happened this year. A new slide for the Al Gore roadshow?

  • Bear-baiting

    December 30, 2006 1:11 PM

    CEI Adjunct Fellow Steve Milloy has more on the polar bear issue in his weekly must-read FoxNews column:

    "Let's keep in mind that polar bears have survived much warmer times than we are now experiencing — like 1,000 years ago when the Vikings farmed Greenland during the Medieval Climate Optimum and 5,000-9,000 years ago during the period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum.

    "But even giving the proposal the benefit of the doubt, will it accomplish anything?

    "When I asked Secretary [of the Interior Dirk] Kempthorne that question — pointing out that even if the polar bear habitat was shrinking because of melting ice there isn't a credible climate scientist in the world that believes anything could be done to stop the ice from melting, and that legalized polar bear harvesting seems to contradict any seriousness concerning threatened species status — the response delivered by the FWS director was not very reassuring.

    "In a bureaucratic tone that only government functionaries can muster, he said they were just following the law. But even that is debatable since the proposal's origins lie in the dubious deal cut with environmental activist groups.

    "The reporters at the ill-conceived and poorly-executed press conference were eager to interpret the proposal as a weakening of President Bush's position against global warming regulation. While Secretary Kempthorne and [Fish and Wildlife Service] staff repeatedly denied that the proposal was any sort of reflection on President Bush's policy, their denials sounded evasive rather than sincere."

    This proposal is a disaster in the making.

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