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  • Wal-Mart's Green Miscalculation Costs Low-Income Customers

    February 2, 2007 11:59 AM

    This is depressing. Wal-Mart has decided to take the politically correct road—working to eliminate its so-called “carbon footprint.” What on earth does that mean? Are they going to get rid of the automotive section? Must we shop in the dark? That won't do—pretty much every item in the store has a “carbon foot print.” What this really means is that Wal-Mart's customers will be paying higher prices so that the company can appear more "socially responsible."

    Hogwash! This move is nothing more than a miscalculated marketing scheme that will do nothing other than undercut the people Wal-Mart primarily serves: Americans with tight budgets. I am a regular at Wal-Mart, and there I mostly see my working class and small business neighbors who struggle to pay high taxes and high mortgages in Fairfax County, Virginia.

    These are not the people who have the luxury to go around worrying about carbon footprints! They worry about paying the bills, keeping businesses afloat, feeding the kids, and just making it to the next paycheck. Wal-Mart provides an opportunity for more affordable food and basic amenities. And it allows people with limited budgets to have some of the niceties in life—at a great price. Where else could I have picked up 50 wine glasses $25? These serve my guests in style year after year at my annual Christmas party—which makes them cheaper than buying disposable plastic cups!

    If Wal-Mart wants mitigate its “carbon footprint,” expect that to happen at the expense of its customers. Wal-Mart should expect us to go elsewhere. After all, if we must pay higher prices, might as well go to Wal-Mart's competitors.

  • Smoking ban in France, Yes France

    February 1, 2007 10:56 PM

    Pubs in Ireland, pubs in Great Britain, bard in New York -- in recent years, long-established smoking traditions have been snuffed out in the unlikeliest places -- and the country whose love of smoking is legendary has now enacted a smoking ban: France. What's next, a global ban? Don't be too surprised.

  • Global warming debate: "A ninety-nine percent certainty of what?"

    February 1, 2007 4:48 PM

    Last night “Larry King Live” hosted a debate on global warming featuring a large cast of characters that included Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK), Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT, Bill Nye of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Julian Morris of International Policy Network, and Heidi Cullen of the Weather Channel.

    Perhaps the best exchanges took place between eminent cloud scientist Lindzen and the “Science Guy” Nye, clearly out of his depth. Lindzen politely skewered the "Science Guy" Nye whose slogan-speaking seemed to have little to do with science. Here's an example from the transcript:

    LINDZEN: Not at all. I think time will tell. I think Mr. Nye is speaking about energy. Energy sources and balance have changed over time, it will change. I have no idea what the energy mix will be 50 years from now. But I think if what he says about profitable, better sources are there, they will come online and they will come online without government fiat. Heidi says the science is solid and I can't criticize her because she never says what science she's talking about. This is a problem with so many facets, that the notion that scientists are in lox, that bonnet is silly.

    NYE: This report has them at 99 percent certainty, this report that comes out this week --

    LINDZEN: Ninety-nine percent certainty of what?

    NYE: It was 60 five years ago.

    LINDZEN: Of what?

    NYE: That the world's going to get warmer by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.2 Celsius.

    LINDZEN: No, it didn't say anything of the sort. It didn't say that.

    NYE: Ok, well, we'll see what happens when the report comes out.

    KING: Well how do we know if it's not out yet?

    LINDZEN: The report won't come out until May.

    NYE: Ok, so do you want to talk about the -- you say that there is no global climate change? Is that your argument?

  • Roberts explains it all

    February 1, 2007 4:45 PM

    For those who have been tempted by the attractions of Pigovian taxes, Russell Roberts provides a cogent explanation of why Coasean theory suggests that Pigou offered no solution to the world's ills. Students of Hayek and Burke alike will recognize the wisdom of Russell's words.

  • Heidi Cullen's modest proposal

    February 1, 2007 4:22 PM

    Not content to report the weather, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has become a global warming pundit, recently appearing on Larry King Live, where she seemed to say (incorrectly) that melting sea ice contributes to sea level rise.

    In a blog post a few weeks ago, Ms. Cullen scolded a fellow meteorologist, who declined to lecture viewers about global warming, noting how the issue had been "politicized" and that, given the cyclical nature of weather patterns, he was unsure what "generalizations" could be inferred from the warming trend of recent times.

    I admire her colleague for his lack of political and intellectual pretension. But Cullen found it unacceptable, and proposed a remedy: "If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming." She elaborated: "If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval."

    Many bloggers instantly denounced Cullen for proposing to decertify meteorologists who don't espouse global warming alarmism. She denied doing any such thing, and if we consider only the letter of her remarks, that is correct.
    However, she did propose that the AMS establish what amounts to a global warming litmus test for meteorologists seeking AMS certification. And given the importance professional societies put on continuing education, it is hard to see how in practice Cullen's proposal would not threaten the credentials of meteorologists who are skeptical about the alleged perils of global warming.

  • More fun with numbers

    February 1, 2007 2:25 PM

    I wrote earlier about how the IPCC has quietly changed its definition of its projected temperature rises to include all pre-industrial warming, not just warming from 1990 onwards. Our best information has it that the IPCC calculates that 0.8 degrees centigrade has already occured.

    Subtracting that 0.8 from the projected temperature rises in the Fourth Assessment Report gives us a projected temperature rise this century of just 1.2 to 3.7 degrees centigrade. It also lowers the "best guess" for temperature rise to 2.2 degrees centigrade. This compares to the Third Assessment Report range of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees. Yes, the IPCC has actually lowered the lower band of its projections, despite all the hype that it has raised it upwards.

    Interestingly, prominent "skeptic" Pat Michaels has been saying for years that the way the models behave coupled with real world data suggests a best guess of 1.7 degrees temperature rise this century. Pat's projection is now clearly towards the middle of the consensus. In other words, the IPCC has moved towards the skeptical position, so much so that the IPCC's lower bound for temperature rise is now a full half a degree less than prominent skeptics have been saying, while the skeptics' best guess is only half a degree less than the consensus best guess. This is chump change compared with previous disparities.

    No wonder the alarmists are in a tizzy.

    UPDATE:  The Reuters correspondent confused climate sensitivity with temperature projections.  That means that this post is, well, just plain wrong.  I should have spotted that.  Sorry.

  • Gore is hot -- will the Peace Prize follow the Oscar?

    February 1, 2007 2:24 PM

    Nominations closed today for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is supposed to be awarded to a person who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” It seems to be that the 1970 recipient Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution -- credited with saving a billion people from starvation -- is a prime example of the type of person to whom the prize should be awarded.

    In recent years, however, there's been a trend toward both political correctness and trendiness. Remember that the International Atomic Energy Agency and Jimmy Carter were recent Nobel Laureates.

    Now former Vice President Al Gore has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. If he wins that and the Academy Award for his documentary based on his Power Point presentation, just think what his resume will look like. Who knows — he may run for president.

  • r u rdy 2 mt f2f re H.B. 515?

    February 1, 2007 11:02 AM

    Unfortunately for members of the lower house of Maine's legislature, some of their colleagues have decided that they all have less self-control than most 14-year olds. The Pine Tree State's House of Representatives is considering enacting a ban on txt msgs ("text messages") from lobbyists to legislators while they're on the floor. It seems these newfangled electronic communications have the power to re-program the brains of state representatives, causing them to vote against their better judgement. Lobbyists will retain the priviledge of telling their pet politicians how to vote via written notes passed to pages. L8R!

  • A President France Deserves?

    February 1, 2007 10:35 AM

    Everyone's favorite "walrus-moustachioed" anti-globalist has set his eyes on high public office. French sheep-farmer/McDonald's hater Jose Bove has declared he'll be running for President of France.

    The jolly martyr

    While Monsieur Bove enjoys great popularity among the anti-capitalist left around the world, we should remember that that popularity is intense but very narrow. As Sebastian Mallaby has recently pointed out, the popularity of American and capitalist icons has never been greater - even in France itself:

    In 1999 a French farmer named Jose Bove ransacked a McDonald's and became a hero of the anti-globalization left; last year a plastic Ronald McDonald was discovered dangling from a French bridge, a ball and chain fastened to an ankle.

    And yet, despite such indignities, Ronald's clownish smile wins out. McDonald's profit in France is second only to its profits in its home territory.

  • Politicizing the politicization of science

    January 31, 2007 5:24 PM

    A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds "unacceptably large numbers of federal climate scientists [have] personally experienced instances of [political] interference over the past five years."  At a Congressional hearing yesterday, Rep. Issa questioned the statistical validity of the survey, pointing to OMB guidelines that suggest the UCS survey's response rate was unacceptably low.  Roger Pielke Jr doesn't think this is a problem:

    Mr. Issa focused on the statistical power of the survey, which is the wrong way to look at it. The responses were the responses. They are not evidence of a larger population — the responses ARE the population. That being said the UCS supports my own contention that politics and science are inherently intermixed.

    I'd agree with him if the UCS had simply presented the absolute numbers of incidents and said this suggests there may be a problem.  But they didn't.  They presented it as percentages.  That suggests either a) the absolute numbers were small enough to be unimpressive and so had to be disguised (and let's face it, eg, 75 out of 1600 - 25% of the 297 responses that reported professional objection - doesn't seem like a widespread problem) or b) they were trying to convey the impression that these large percentages referred to all federal climate scientists.  It's a disingenuous means of presentation.

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