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Unintended Consequences

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206).jpg

The shooting of Cecil the “beloved” lion in Zimbabwe created a furor all over the world as animal rights and anti-gun fanatics piled on to dentist Walter Palmer, the hunter who shot him. The news was non-stop and everywhere. Palmer quickly became the most reviled man in the world. He had to go into hiding because of the death threats. The killing of Cecil was neither illegal or particularly unusual although for my tastes, not especially sportsmanlike. No charges were ever filed against him yet he became the most hated man in the world.

Fortunately for him, along came Mark Shkreli the CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals, who raised the price of his newly acquired HIV/AIDs drug, Daraprim, 5000%. Had he done the same with a drug for toenail fungus probably no one would have noticed. But for HIV? Forget it. That hits the max on the politically incorrect scale. He quickly secured the title of “Most Hated Man” from Palmer. It certainly didn’t help his cause when in interviews he certified that he was indeed an arrogant asshole. Walker quietly returned to his dentistry and dropped out of the news.

On Monday the 22nd I happened upon a piece in the “Vancouver Sun”…. on Page A11…with the headline, “’Cecil Effect’ creates lion surplus, Wildlife park may have to cull 200 big cats.” [Article can be found here.]

Well, well. Peta Thornycroft, a former British citizen who now resides in Zimbabwe and reports for “The Telegraph” wrote the story and presumably the headline and goes on to explain that the world-wide hiding of Mr. Palmer has put a huge damper on the willingness of wealthy American hunters to risk getting vilified in an unsympathetic press. As the saying goes, ‘They are staying away from Zimbabwe in droves.’

The Bubye Valley Conservancy, the largest wildlife area in Zimbabwe, supports local schools and clinics and provides jobs and meat to local residents. Like other intensely managed wild life reserves, Bubye receives much of its operating revenue fromcontrolled big game hunts, including lions. However, since no rich Americans want the Walter Palmer treatment, they are staying home or going to other countries. A victory for the anti-hunting crowd, right? Well, you judge.

The unintended consequence is that in a very short time the lion population in Bubwe has become unsustainable. Their numbers have reached 500 and they are wiping out all the other animals including antelopes, giraffe and even cheetahs, leopards and wild dogs. Perhaps the animal rights people should go to Zimbabwe and train the lions to become vegans? Blondie Leathem, the general manager of Bubwe feels they need to cull 200 lions. Mostly that means shoot because re-locating the lions to other preserves (presuming you could convince the preserves to take them) is generally unsuccessful. The immigrants are usually killed by the resident prides.

This example of animal rights zealotry backfiring because of ignorance of population dynamics, conservation management, ecology (the science, not the ideology) or ethology (animal behavior), leads to politically and emotionally motivated decisions that often backfire. Here are just a few examples.

Hypomesus transpacificus.jpg

The Delta Smelt. A few years ago environmentalists went to court to divert water from farmers in the drought stricken San Joaquin valley of California in an effort to save the 3” delta smelt, a fish of no commercial or sporting value. At the same time they began breeding thousands of the critters in hatcheries and releasing them into the river. The result: The smelt numbers continue to decline and sample netting only produces a couple hundred per year. Maybe something other than diverted water is killing the smelt. Some would argue that the effort to save the delta smelt was a great idea, but was it worth it?

The human toll was steep. Some 40,000 people lost their jobs as farmers went broke and once fertile and productive farms and orchards turned to dust. Small towns in the area dried up too as residents fled.

As the suburbs expanded into farmland around major cities in North America, it inevitably encroached on wildlife habitat. Understandably, no hunting was allowed anywhere near these communities. Some animals like white tail deer found these safe zones much to their liking and hung around, breeding without check. Soon they became a pest browsing on people’s gardens and shrubs. Clearly the population needed to be reduced but, animal lovers would not permit shooting the excess animals who were starting to show distress from malnutrition. As an alternative, many communities decided to capture and release the animals into wilder habitats. Seemed like a good idea. One problem, almost all whitetail deer live their entire lives in about a one half to one square mile area. Dumping them in a strange place disoriented them and almost all starved or wandering around bewildered and were hit by cars. [For a great article by Time Magazine in December 2013 can be found here].

A similar thing happened with the urban goose populations. The geese figured out they were safe and could live year around in city golf courses, public parks and urban lakes. No hunters and no need to migrate. Life was good. But, the public parks became infested and unusable due to goose feces. Local ponds and lakes were polluted. Again, killing the excess geese offended the animal rights people so they were relocated. Ignored was the fact that these animals can fly thousands of miles and are excellent navigators. In days they were all back.

Grizzly bears are also excellent navigators and have been known to travel hundreds of kilometers though unfamiliar terrain over mountains, valleys and across rivers to arrive back at the same chicken coop where they had previously enjoyed a nice easy meal. People who would not know a grizzly from a teddy bear recently raised all kinds of Hell when an NHL star from BC, Clayton Stoner, was discovered having killed a male grizzly. The anti-hunting crowd jumped in and coming on the heels of the Cecil, the lion incident, knew giving this bear a name and calling him “beloved Cheeky” would evoke the anger and sympathy of folks who know nothing of griz. First of all, calling a grizzly beloved is absurd. They are the meanest, angriest, most aggressive and unpredictable beasts in the northern forests. They are huge and deceptively fast. The pictures of tourists watching them fishing for salmon from safe platforms is not an indication of what it’s like to run into one of these buggers in the woods. Furthermore, they are not endangered. Ask anyone who hunts for moose or elk in northern BC and they will tell you there are plenty of them and they are very, very dangerous.

In the end Clayton Stoner was charged with his only real crime…. they deemed he was not a legal resident of BC because he played for a US hockey team and did not spend six months of the year in BC. That he got fined for not having a non-resident license and that calmed the outraged anti-hunters and they soon went back to fretting about global warming.

Species valued by sportsmen are heavily supported in many independent conservation groups such as: Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as countless others. These groups raise millions to preserve habitat, facilitate stocking programs and support laws to insure the protection of the species. Of course, as a direct benefit sportsman dollars for licenses and tourism support local economies.

As the sad consequences of the anti-hunter’s campaign against the killing of Cecil has shown, their outrage has not helped the lions, the animals of Zimbabwe or the people who live there. I guess it has made the animal lovers feel good about themselves. I suppose that’s something.

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Phones

We got our first phone when I was in the eighth grade. Of course, it was a marvel, but slowly we began to realize it had its drawbacks. Ours was a “party line”, meaning we shared the line with six other families. When you wanted to make a call you had to pick up the phone and make sure no one else was already on it. Since you had no clue who had picked up the phone while you were on a call, people could anonymously harass you by picking up and replacing the receiver every few seconds just to get you off the line. Folks could listen in on your calls too if you were not paying attention.

party line phone

All phones in those days were rotary dial, so you had to crank the dial around and wait for it to spin back to the start position. I never thought that much of a problem until touch tone came into vogue.

The big break through for me happened when they came out with car phones. At the time, business for us was booming and my biggest customers were Sears Payment Systems and Discover Card headquartered in Chicago. We lived in the Oconomowoc, WI area, a two hour drive to their offices. These two customers demanded a lot of attention and I found myself driving down two to three times per week.  That four hours of driving per day chopped a big chunk out of my work week. The car phone turned that dead time into productive time.

car phone

These early mobile phones were pretty clunky. A box a bit bigger than a loaf of focaccia bread resided in the trunk with a wire leading to an antenna screwed to the lid of the trunk. A speaker perhaps 4” X 5” X 5” sat on the hump between the passenger and driver foot wells and a microphone was mounted on the driver’s visor. The phone itself (weighing about two pounds) resided on a bracket within easy reach of the driver. Result…. you could do hands free talking and with speed dial not a lot of looking down from the road. My drive time became productive time for I could make, return and receive calls.

These car phones were not common at the time and many people had no idea they existed. This made for some funny incidents. Chicago, in its wisdom, had decided to collect its highway tolls $.35 at a time by erecting toll booths every few miles around the city. During busy travel times this inevitably created traffc jams as people slowed down to drop their change into the bucket or get change from the vendors. One day as we inched towards the toll booths I was on the phone and gesturing and laughing. I happened to glance over at the car in the lane next to me. There were three black kids peering out the window at me with expressions on their faces that said, “Now there’s one crazy white dude!” They clearly thought I was having a jolly old time talking to myself.

say what

Telephone technology made incremental improvements as a communication device providing phone and texting. (Remember the Blackberry?) Then Steve Jobs introduced the frst iPhone on June 29,2007. It represented a paradigm shift in telephone technology. He added a microprocessor to the phone that already had a screen and a keypad and, voila’ you’ve got a computer! The rest is history.

Bill Melton, the founder and visionary of VeriFone created a similar paradigm shift in credit card terminals when he decided to put memory in VeriFone’s terminals ushering in data capture and eliminating the need to process all those paper credit card slips.

I, too, realized that a phone could be a computer back in the early ’90s…although not for portable phones. At the time we were representing VeriFone, the market leader in credit card terminals. My biggest customer, as I said, was Discover Card and SPS. VeriFone manufactured a smart (chip) card reader and my company had a relationship with a chip
card company in France.

While ubiquitous in France and throughout much of Europe, chip cards had failed to catch on in the US. VISA and Mastercard were balking at the cost of outftting all the merchants with smart card enabled terminals, and without them, it was diffcult to fnd a compelling application that would justify the cost.

There are two kinds of chip cards: Simple cards that can store a PIN number and do basic functions, and memory cards with a more sophisticated microprocessor and memory capabilities.

Those were the days before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket and ATT had hundreds of thousands of pay phones around the country. These phones had a small (4” x 4”) screen and, of course, a keypad. I reasoned that if they had a VeriFone smart card reader, a customer with a microprocessor card could insert the card and turn that phone into….. wait for it….a computer. The data, however, would be stored on the card.

Every traveling businessman, like myself, had a phone list in his briefcase and a fistful of frequent flier cards, frequent hotel cards and car rental cards. None of these represented anything more than a number stored in a computer somewhere. I reasoned that all of these numbers could be stored easily on a memory chip card and lighten the load of the business traveler. At that time, if you wanted to make a long distance call from a public phone you had to manually enter your ATT billing number that would then be charged to your home or business phone.

My idea was to have Discover Card come out with a smart chip card that they would offer to their “premium” customers. This card would store their ATT billing number, their phone list and their list of frequent user numbers. Discover would then be able to charge an annual fee for this card, something not done at the time for any card.

ATT, for its part, would begin to retrofit all its pay phones with VeriFone smart card readers to accept these cards. As the cards became commonplace, smart card reader-enabled credit card terminals would be available at check in desks of hotels and car rental agencies. At least, that was the dream.

This sale would be complicated. I had to convince not only Discover Card, but more importantly, ATT. I got Discover interested and they agreed to bring the ATT guys in for a meeting. On the day of the presentation I walked into the big conference room at Discover headquarters and there were about 20 big shots sitting around the massive table. The presidents of Discover and Sears Payment Systems were there, plus a bunch of VPs from Sears and ATT. I got up in front of the group and made my presentation. I thought it went well. Lots of questions and head nodding. At the end of the meeting, as I was walking out, a guy came up and introduced himself as the sales rep for ATT who handled the Discover and SPS accounts. He said, “I’ve been the rep here for a year and a half and I never even met half of the guys in this meeting! How the Hell did you manage to get all these guys together?” I had no answer, except that I had been there at the beginning and simply knew them all.

As it turned out, the idea fizzled in the wheels of bureaucracy. People in corporate culture do not get rewarded for taking chances. If they succeed, the higher ups take the credit. If they fail, their career is over or it’s back to the mail room.

Now, twenty years later, the credit card companies in the US are finally beginning to put chips on their credit cards and install chip card reader terminals at the points of sale. It’s still not fully implemented although it has been in Canada for the last ten years and in Europe since the 80’s.

Go figure.

Footnote:
While the new smart phones are amazing with cameras, email, video, WiFi and internet access, I am not sure they are a blessing. They have an addictive quality and touches of escapism. You see couples having dinner and each have their noses buried in their phones. I guess it avoids the messy business of conversation. Groups of teens siting together all working their phones with fashing fngers. They’re texting each other while sitting side by side. Impersonal interaction. And, of course, there’s the issue of being unable to turn the damn thing off while driving and the addiction of playing games on the device instead of reading a book. As I said, it’s all good.

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Kill the Heretics!

“… environmentalism is the religion of choice for urban atheists…”
Michael Crichton 9/15/2003

Robert F. Kennedy, an environmental activist, regrets that there are no laws on the books to punish global warming skeptics. Adam Weinstein, a writer for Gawker.com, said, in part, “Those deniers should face lawsuits. You should be punished for your self-serving malice.” David Suzuki, a Canadian climate change activist, said on PBS’ Moyers & Company, “Politicians skeptical of man made climate change should be thrown in the slammer.” With or without benefit of a trial Dave?

On another tack Jaqsdish Shukla, a lead author for the IPCC and a George Mason professor, inspired 19 other scientists to join him in a letter to Obama urging him to start a RICO (racketeering) investigation into climate skeptics. It then came out that ol’ Jaqs had paid himself and his wife $1.5 million for part time work in the last two years out of government funds designated for him to study global warming. He did it through his personal foundation. No wonder he didn’t want the money to stop flowing and for the skeptics to shut the hell up!

But it was Professor Parucutt of the U of Graz in Austria who came up with the topper. He called for the death penalty as “the appropriate punishment for global warming deniers.”

This stuff lends a lot of credence to Michael Crichton’s assertion in 2003 that environmentalism is a religion. Religions all require blind faith and are often cruel to those who stray from the accepted path. Recall the inquisition? People suspected of heresy, or someone who’s property was desired by the priests, were arrested. Their property was immediately confiscated and they were put on the rack and tortured until they confessed to heresy. Then they were generally burned at the stake as an example to others.

The Islamic version of this is for the mullahs to issue a fatwa on the apostate and then any Muslim who finds it convenient can simply kill the guy. Remember Salman Rushdie who’s book was critical of Islam? He was in hiding for years after a fatwa was declared on him and more recently the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo. They published a cartoon making fun of Mohammad so some Muslim shot up their offices killing 12.

The climate police have not yet started knocking down doors in the middle of the night and hauling skeptics down to the town square for burning at the stake but it may be coming.

Dr. Roger Pielke who testified before Congress that extreme weather events…. tornados, hurricanes, droughts, etc. have not increased in the last 100 years, recently said that “Climate McCarthyism has been practiced for awhile.” He should know. Even though he’s not a denier of global warming he has been attacked, vilified and harassed personally for publishing his results. The harassment has been so intense that he has stopped doing climate research. The same thing happened to Dr. Lennart Bengtsson who published his research that showed the oceans are not rising any faster than since the end of the last ice age. The hateful pressure was so great that he resigned his position on a global warming advisory organization because of concerns about his health.

As Dr. Pielke said in an interview published in WND on 3/21/15, “Militant climate change alarmists are backed by the media, most educational institutions and powerful lobbies in Congress. These formidable allies control most prevailing information disseminated to the public and use smear tactics to silence dissent. Critics of man-made climate change face professional and person slander.”

The question is…..WHY? Why would the genteel world of science behave like a bunch of high school “mean girls”. The answer is…. as my liberal friend likes to say…. “Follow the money”.

Billions… multiple billions…. is being thrown around for climate research each year. Between the GAO and the Congressional Research Service they estimate the total at about $112 billion in the US alone since 2003 to 2012, and it’s growing. Fat research grants are being handed out like free samples at Safeway. The benefits are many: Nice salaries on top of the ones being paid by their universities, travel to pleasant places for confabs with other like minded climate change enthusiasts and side income for speaking engagements and book deals. Why rock the boat? And, why let anyone with a dissenting opinion get in the way?

Professor Harold Lewis (1923-2011) Emeritus Professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, put it bluntly in his resignation letter in October of 2010 to the American Physical Society where he had been a member for 67 years, ”…I am forced with no pleasure at all to offer you my resignation from the society. It is, of course, the global warming scam, with the literally trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted scientists, and has carried the APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who doubts this should be forced to read the Climategate documents, which lay it bare.” “ I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay any scientist can read that stuff without revulsion.” Gee, a man of principle, imagine that.

There are many other scientists who agree with Professor Lewis but often they are reluctant to speak out because they know they will be attacked personally and professionally by the climate McCarthyites. A sad statement about science and the UN.

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Bits and Pieces

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Einstein.

Those of us who actually pay attention know that Obama’s commitment to the truth is weak indeed. But, this post is dedicated to some commentary on a number of items in the news recently. I can get in to his lack of honesty later. Here are a few things that have dominated the headlines of late:

1). Cecil the lion. The killing of Cecil aroused world-wide condemnation of the US dentist who offed this apex predator and it really went over the top. The lion was routinely called “beloved” by the press. Really? I doubt few ever heard of the beast. Nonetheless, the method used to lure him out of the protected National Park and take him was a bit sketchy on the “fair chase” hunting ethics scale and certainly the responsibility of the guide who organized the hunt. Part of the horror at poor Cecil’s “murder” stems from most people’s belief that Cec is like the lion in the Lion King and The Wizard of Oz, gentile beasts just trying to get along. He was a subject of research and not a pet. I am a hunter but I do not understand the desire to shoot a lion. Notwithstanding, it is legal and he paid a big sum to do it. I think death threats on the dentist from all over the world is craziness.

2). Greed. The Seattle Teachers Association decided to go on strike last week, the day classes were supposed to start. This is typical union behavior, designed to put the maximum pain on parents who have to scramble to find day care for the kids. Let’s also remember that it is ILLEGAL FOR TEACHERS TO STRIKE in the first place. The union is supposed to fined $100,000 per day but what usually happens in these deals is that the fines are forgiven in the settlements and the teachers receive their pay for not teaching during the strike. The teachers were already scheduled to receive a 3% raise from the additional funding granted to education but the teachers are demanding an additional 18%. They also want less evaluations of teachers and less testing of students. They don’t want their failure to be exposed and they don’t want their monopoly challenged. For example, the legislature authorized charter schools in the state. The local and national teachers union sued and the Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional. Turns out that the 9 justices had all received the maximum contributions from the teachers unions for their election campaigns. Coincidence? I think the governor and the superintendent should open the schools with volunteers and non-union teachers and jail the top officials in the teachers union until they accept the generous offer they already have on the table. Starting pay for teachers in Seattle is $50,000 and the average salary is $67,124. The median salary for Seattle residents is $40,000.

3). Black Lives Matter. This outfit that is promoting violence against the police is an offshoot of the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot movement which stemmed from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The rumor that Brown had his hands up and was in the process of surrendering when officer Wilson shot him is a lie. The Justice Department’s investigation certified that fact. As that realization took the steam out of the HUDS movement the more radical of the group morphed into the Black Lives Matter group. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty jumped 89% from 2013 to 2014. This war on the police promoted by the BLM movement has resulted in the police withdrawing from active policing in the high crime ghetto areas of major US cities. The tragic outcome of that is the murder rate in 35 cities has skyrocketed with Milwaukee leading the way with a 76% increase. ( St. Louis 60% and Baltimore 50% all according to the NY Times.) Of course, these are mostly blacks shooting other blacks. If black lives really matter why does this group promote the killing of police officers and not the epidemic of blacks shooting each other?

4). Hillary’s Email Scandal. Why did the supposedly “smartest woman in America” think she could get away with conducting State Department business on her personal email system? Answer: Because she’s been getting away with this shit for decades. It’s not clear if she can bob and weave enough to survive and become the Democrat nominee for President. It was once considered inevitable but now the power brokers may decide she’s too damaged and opt for Biden instead. I doubt that they will permit Sanders to get it. He seems like a wild haired, spittle flinging lunatic grandfather that somehow escaped from the attic.

5). Obama’s Trip to Alaska. This photo op visit was to sell the global warming myth via the press in advance of the Pope’s visit and to drum up support for the World Climate Summit to be held in Paris in late November and early December. Exhibit A on this litany of impending doom was a visit to the Exit Glacier and how it has been receding. True enough. Missing from the discussion, however, is the fact that it has been doing so since 1815. Obama and the press did not visit the Hubbard Glacier that has been growing and increasing in mass for decades or any of the other eight Alaskan glaciers that are doing the same. Nor was there talk about the Mendenhall Glacier and the U. of Alaska’s finding perfectly preserved massive trees that have been exposed as that glacier recedes. Similar evidence of a much warmer period are found in the retreating Tschierva Glacier in Switzerland’s Alps where evidence of huge trees has been found. Evidence reported in Spiegal Online suggests that 7,000 years ago the Alps were entirely glacier free and it’s likely that when Hannibal crossed the Alps in 218 BC he never saw one. Many true believers in global warming will say, “See, it’s getting warmer. This proves it.” No, what it proves is that over time it gets warmer and colder with no help from man and will do it no matter what we do. It’s plain stupid to destroy the economy to try to prevent it. Besides, many scientists point out that the sun has gone into a very inactive phase and that means we are entering into what may be a long term cooling phase.

6). The Iran Deal. The question that comes to my mind is “Why is he doing this?” Despite the BS coming out of the White House, this deal makes absolutely no sense. How can you trust the ayatollahs that run the Iran dictatorship? Even as Obama was out selling the deal to the public, they Iranians were in the streets chanting “Death to America!” The terms of the deal are absurd. The sanctions will be lifted upon its signing, not on verification that they are actually abiding by the terms. They will receive $100 billion dollars immediately so they can buy conventional weapons from Russia and continue to fund world-wide terrorism. It guarantees they will have a nuclear weapon within 10 years or sooner and will likely rule the middle east in the near future. Quite a large number of people believe that the reason Obama did this deal and much of his other behavior comes from his Muslim beliefs. What is really baffling is why the Democrat senators are backing the deal. Chuck Schumer gets no credit for voting against it because the partisan Democrats knew they had the votes to pass it without him. History will judge them harshly when the Iranians start brandishing their missiles. No, Mr. President, climate change is not the greatest threat to humanity; it’s rogue nations armed with nuclear weapons and ruled by crazy dictators. Example one is North Korea soon to be joined by Iran.

7). The Syrian refuge crisis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are invading Europe. Yes, invading. And the Muslim invasion is going to hasten the demographic collapse of European societies. The cause of this mass migration is the civil war in Syria and the rise of the barbarian ISIS war in Iraq and Syria. The root cause of this is the failure of Obama and the Europeans to band together and stamp out the dictator Assad for his mass killing of those who opposed his regime and the half-hearted war on ISIS. Obama drew a red line on Assad …. he warned if he used chemical weapons on his own people that the US would act. Nope. Obama did nothing. The massively destructive war against the Syria people continued and they started to flee. In addition to the monumental task of absorbing all these destitute people and the consequences of a huge Muslim influx changing the demographic character of their society, a vast number of these refugees are young Muslim men who may be sent by the terrorists. It’s a huge risk and I applaud PM Harper for resisting those who call for allowing massive numbers of these migrants into Canada without knowing who these folks really are.

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Energy Poverty

Energy poverty is the term der Spiegel Online, a German weekly, gives to the situation many of Germany’s poorer citizens find themselves as a result of Chancellor Merkel’s “energy revolution”. After the tsunami caused the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan the German government decided to get rid of nuclear power and coal and substitute wind and solar. (The last tsunami to hit Germany was in 1760 so it’s not exactly a common threat). The result has been a doubling of energy costs and reliability issues forcing some high energy consuming industries to shut down during shortage periods. Worse, when the sun fails to shine and the wind stops blowing, coal power plants have to be fired up to keep the grid from going down and to make-up the shortfall. The result is that German emissions of C02 have actually gone up since the implementation of this policy.

Did Obama’s EPA learn anything from the German experience? No, of course not. To the liberals/progressives ideology always trumps experience and common sense.

Obama’s EPA is doing exactly what he promised he’d do when campaigning in 2008. He said his plan would bankrupt anyone attempting to build a coal fired power plant and that electricity prices would sky rocket. Now, of course, he claims his Clean Power Plan
will lower costs for consumers. Maybe the American public is gullible enough to fall for that one. Considering he made the same claim: that Obamacare would lower the cost of health insurance by an average of $2500 per family. That turned out to be a laugher so people should be skeptical.

The Clean Power Plan calls for states to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030. The only way to accomplish that is to close existing coal fired plants and replace them with natural gas or renewables. According to an article in the WSJ (“The Price Tag for Uprooting America’s Electric Grid” August 9, 2015) The Energy Information Administration expects coal plant closures will reach 90 gigawatts by 2020- that’s enough to deliver reliable power to 73 million Americans.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp, a regulatory body that studies the US and Canadian power grids, has reported that some areas of the US are already operating at dangerously low levels of reserve margins and have an increased likelihood of experiencing brown outs or blackouts during high usage periods. This is caused by taking coal fired plants out of service and replacing them with natural gas and renewables in response to previous EPA restrictions. The CPP would take an additional 33% of electrical productive capacity off the grid. According to the Washington Free Beacon that’s 48% of the coal fired plants. That is, before considering that the regs also require that CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) technology must be installed in coal plants that continue. This technology is new, unproven and likely prohibitively expensive.

The contention by Obama that energy cost to consumers is going to go down under this plan is ludicrous on its face. Many of the coal fired plants that will be shuttered have not been paid off yet and power companies are going to have factor in those losses in the construction of new power plants.

Also, one has to consider the raw cost of producing electricity by different methods. For example: Existing nuclear facilities produce electricity at a cost of $29.60 per megawatt hour. Hydro power comes in at $34.20, coal at $38.40 and natural gas at $48.90. New natural gas plants produce power at $73.40 per megawatt hour while wind power comes in at $106.80. The high costs reflected in these new facilities demonstrate the added expense of building the infrastructure to support them, such as pipelines and transmission lines. A lot of places where the sun shines and the wind blows are not near population centers . Also, in the case of wind and solar, when the wind is not blowing and/or the sun is not shining, gas or coal plants have to be fired up to supply electricity to the grid. These numbers are provided by the Energy Information Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These are government bodies not industry organizations.

One thing different from the German plan and the CPP is the support for nuclear and indeed, the Obama Administration has licensed the construction of several new nuclear facilities. Whether these actually get built and functioning by 2030 is another matter. The environmental fanatics hate nuclear only slightly less than evil carbon. The irony is that nuclear is the least expensive and produces zero carbon.

The bigger joke is that for all its cost and misery the plan will have zero impact on global warming. Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Weather Bell, a weather consulting firm, estimates that, fully implemented, the CPP will prevent .01 degree C in warming. That is smaller than the margin of error in measuring temperature. IOW, it won’t do shit even if you believe that carbon-dioxide has that big of an effect on climate.

Closing coal and nuclear facilities massively raised costs and disrupted availability in Germany putting hundreds of thousands of people in “energy poverty”. Why would the US think that a similar plan to get rid of coal power plants in the USA would turn out differently for them?

As Einstein famously said: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

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The Next President

Back when Obama won the nomination for the Democrats and then the election, I predicted that Hillary would be the next President. When Obama was re-elected despite a horrible record and a strong credible candidate in Romney, I became more convinced that until the country truly fell apart, no Republican would become president.

Here’s my reasoning on the matter…..

1). The Electoral College Map. The east and west coasts of the US are solidly Democrat, as a result, primarily, of the big city populations and their liberal inclinations. The Democrats have also enjoyed growing support in the mid-west states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. So, before the first vote is cast for president, the Democrat candidate enjoys a very likely 237 electoral votes of the 270 needed to become president.
The GOP candidate needs to run the table on all the other states to win.

2). Free Stuff. The Democrats are the party of free stuff. Millions of Americans are addicted to handouts from the Federal Government. Under Obama’s economy, the number of Americans on welfare, supplemental income and/or food stamps has grown to a record 35%. Democrats perpetuate the myth that the GOP is the party of the rich and that they will take away your welfare, food stamps, etc. if you vote the Republican into the White House. Well then, you may ask, “How come the majority of the governorships and both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans?” Simple answer…. A lot more dependent people vote in the presidential election than do in the other elections. Also, the Dems make a serious get out the vote effort in presidential elections, not to mention fraud.

3). Voting Blocks. The Blacks vote about 95% for the Democrat candidate. Hispanics about 60-65%, and gays some 70+% pulled the lever for Democrats. According to “MS” magazine, there are some 8 million more women voters than men, and they vote 55% for the Democrat candidate. We could likely expect this percentage to go up for Hillary.

4). Special Interest Voters. I guess you could call these voting blocks too but I think there’s a distinction between the groups in the blocks and these who are more single-issue voters. The biggest of these are the unions. Overall union membership has declined over recent years as industry has migrated to right-to-work states or out of the country altogether. The only growth has been in the public sector unions, and who do they vote for? Certainly not the Republicans that threaten to cut government spending! The teachers unions give big bucks to the Democrats with the understanding that they will fight any effort to restrict their monopoly on education or to hold them accountable for their crappy performance.
The environmentalists (the save the planet crowd) have completely bought into the global warming fraud and believe that the Democrat candidate will keep the money flowing to combat this non-problem. Same with the trial lawyers who donate big bucks to the Democrats and vote solidly for them to guarantee that the litigation gravy train keeps rolling along.
Finally, you have the philosophical liberal/progressive/socialists. They want things moving further left but will vote for the Democrat as the lesser of two evils. The far more conservative Republicans will usually waste their vote by voting for a far right third party candidate who has no chance in Hell of winning. And, of course, you have the youth vote. They have gone through years of indoctrination by the liberal/socialist democrats who teach in public schools and universities. These kids don’t remember the inept Jimmy Carter and the mess he made nor do they know how Ronald Reagan straightened it out.
More than likely their votes will go for Hillary because their friends are voting that way.

5). The Media and Hollywood. It is an undisputed fact that the media leans left and they give favorable coverage to the Democrats. Often they simply ignore stories that are unflattering to the Democrats. Once the Republicans select a candidate, you can be assured that the late night comedians and Hollywood celebs will be ridiculing him and ignoring the scandals that follow the Clintons like a foul odor.

Hillary Clinton is a nasty, conniving, dishonest woman who has never actually accomplished anything meaningful in her privileged life. The email scandal plus the use of her office to enrich herself would be more than sufficient to sink anyone else.
And that whole Benghazi mess? For anyone else, it would be the end in politics. But, she and Bill are royalty in the Democrat Party and they will line up and vote for her no matter what. As for the country, I am not certain that the US can survive eight more years with an anti-war, anti-business socialist in the White House.

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To Frack or Not to Frack?

I used to subscribe to the theory that you need to move every five or six years just so you can keep ahead of the crap that accumulates in your garage. A good weeding out is essential from time to time. Nothing like a purging garage sale to lighten up.

I feel the same way about clearing off the mess on your desk every once in awhile just to see what’s buried there. I did this the other day and found this piece among the flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on my desk over the past few months.

Since I have not posted anything in quite some time I thought it might shock my few readers to actually find something new on the blog. I have been fitfully working on a short story and my version of the “History of the Early Years of VeriFone” but it may take some time before they’re ready.

This was a letter in response to an old friend who is a passionate believer in global warming and vocal opponent of hydraulic fracturing, the modern method of extracting natural gas that has revolutionized the oil and gas business.

***

I’m glad you sent along your “remarks” (more a rant or screed actually) since it will save me the trouble of offering you a bunch of articles or papers with evidence different from your own that you will ignore. This subject is highly personal and emotional to you and that pretty much rules out any rational discussion of the issue. I will, however, offer a couple of thoughts for your consideration.

First, it’s not too often we get naturally occurring experiments opposite each other so that we can compare results and come to some conclusions based on facts and not opinion. It’s social and political science devoid of political spin. This has nothing to do with fracking (we’ll get to that a bit later) but you made some traditional slurs on business, “greedy corporations”, nasty oil companies, etc. This is, of course, the rhetoric of the far left, firm believers in socialism who are absolutely convinced that if only the government ran everything, all would be just peachy.

So let’s talk about North and South Korea. The people of these two countries are genetically and culturally identical, yet after 50+ years or so of communist rule in the North and free market capitalism in the South the results could not be more dramatic. South Korea is a booming prosperous economy and North Korea is in the dark ages. After decades of starvation the average size of the N. Koreans is substantially smaller than their cousins to the south. Only 23% of N. Korean homes have electricity!

<b>North</b> <b>Korean</b> <b>Homes</b>

What about East and West Germany? It’s another naturally controlled experiment between two genetically and culturally identical populations with a similar outcome as Korea. They had to build a heavily defended wall to keep their people inside the miserable East while the West prospered.

The same results can be found but on a less dramatic scale in the comparison of countries around the world: The more socialistic, the lower economic growth and prosperity for its citizens. Even the US states are experiencing this kind of competition and performance. (Why have Buffalo and Detroit, just to name two, lost more than half their populations since we got out of high school.) (See “The Buffaloization of American” on this blog.)

Which brings us to New York and Pennsylvania. I would think that you would agree that the people who live above the Marcellus Shale, that straddles counties on both sides of the NY/PA border, are pretty much the same economically, culturally and even genetically. Yet the differences in income, unemployment, tax revenues and prosperity since PA opened up drilling for natural gas and permitted fracking are substantial. I know you do not give a shit about these facts so I won’t bother to innumerate them, but should you, by some chance, be curious how much money NY is leaving on the table, check out the Manhattan Institute study of 2013.

Beyond economics, fracking has been around for decades and if you really look at the facts, the environmental impact is nominal or non-existent. All the hysteria surrounding it is just political bullshit and I had hoped you would do a bit more critical thinking before embracing that disinformation with such passion.

I will leave you with this final thought, then consider the matter closed. The article I sent you enumerated the benefit to the poorer consumer of natural gas price reductions brought on by hydraulic fracturing. Prior to the boom the price was $10/MMBTU dropping to under $3.00 for a time, and now has settled in at about $3.50/ MMBTU. This is a great benefit to poorer folks who spend a disproportionate percentage of their incomes on heating. This, of course, will be more important as the climate cools and the winters are longer and colder. Dismissing fracking out of hand shows a shocking disregard for poor families. Furthermore, the low cost of natural gas permits substitution for coal in electrical generation. Coal, of course, is the evil incarnate for global warming true believers like yourself.

It seems the residents of New York want to enjoy the fruits of low gas prices without allowing any drilling. If you are faithful to your beliefs that fracking is terrible policy, you should demand that the NY state government tax natural gas up to the pre-fracking price of $10/MMBTU. That would be a true test to see just how worried New York residents are about the environmental threat of fracking.

I will anxiously await your passionate letter to Gov. Cumo insisting he raise the tax on natural gas.

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Patty Cake – Patty Cake

patty cake

The Obama Administration’s handling of two current serious threats reminds me of this innocent childhood game. The Ebola catastrophe in West Africa has now arrived in North America despite the government’s insistence that it would not. The second dangerous situation, but one that has dropped from the front pages of the newspaper, is the advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The Obama Team’s handling of both of these crisis events is weak and ineffective. Quite frankly, one can only call it half-assed. Often they seem frozen by their own previous positions and statements. In Iraq, for example, Obama promised to end the war there and get the US out. He pulled out the troops without leaving a residual force behind. Yeah, I know, you liberals out there will argue that al-Maliki would not allow it but everyone knows that’s just a weak excuse. Obama wanted out and did not push the Iraqis very hard. The upshot is that the ISIS barbarians routed the Iraqi army; captured most of the weapons left behind by the US and have pretty much taken control. All that blood and treasure expended in the Iraq war effort has been squandered.

Obama had some tough talk about battling ISIS but his actions are anything but. Start with the name of the operation…. “Inherent Resolve”.

Really? That sounds like a treatment for constipation not a military operation.

BHO announced from the start and has repeated it endlessly, “No boots on the ground”. (I am so sick of that phrase!). Instead the US and its partners are engaged in a half-hearted and ineffective bombing campaign.

As Messrs. Gunzinger and Stillion point out in a recent piece in the WSJ called “The Unserious Air War Against ISIS”, the bombing campaign pales in comparison to previous wars. The 43-day bombing campaign of Desert Storm in 1991 saw 1,100 sorties per day flown against Iraqi forces. The bombing of Serbia in 1998 saw 412 sorties and the 75-day campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 involved 86 per day. In the current battle with ISIS we are seeing a pitiful 7 per day. Seven.

The only people willing to engage ISIS on the ground (which everyone admits is the only way to defeat ISIS) are the Kurds. So you would think that the Obama geniuses would give them some weapons to help them do the job. Nope. Why? Unclear.

ISIS has 50,000 Kurdish, Christian and Turkman civilians trapped in the town of Kobani located right on the border with Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO and has received billions of dollars in financial aid and military equipment from the US. Twenty-one billion in 2011 alone with some $14 billion in military equipment. Over the years they have received these military weapons and used them to kill Kurds a fact that annoyed the US. The Turks have been in a decades long battle with the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) and are happy to now let the ISIS barbarians wipe out the Kurds for them. They sit on their US furnished tanks and artillery and observe the battle without lifting a finger. Further, they will not allow transfer of weapons through Turkey. Turkey is no real ally of the US.

A president with gonads larger than a couple of immature lima beans would have summoned President Erdogan to the White House and said, “No help, no more money. And, don’t count on membership in NATO for much longer.”

Kurdish officials predict that if the city falls 5000 innocent civilians will be slaughtered in 24 hours. ISIS wipes out Christians and “non-believers” and that is anyone that does not subscribe to their twisted version of religion. These guys are truly barbarians and have proven it time and again.

Graphic picture

This is not “workplace violence” Mr. President. This is a reigniting of the flames of Holy War that has simmered between the Christians and Muslims since the 11th century. It’s going to get a lot worse unless western civilization steps up and squashes it now. Obama has basically given up on stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Imagine ISIS with one of those toys to play with.

I seriously doubt that these Crispy Christians incinerated by Nigerian Muslims would agree that Islam is the religion of peace. The war on Christians and Jews is intensifying world-wide.

On the Ebola crisis the Administration simply looks inept and untruthful. They act as if the citizens are children and can’t be trusted with real facts. For example, they keep assuring us that Ebola cannot be transmitted except my exposure to bodily fluids from someone who is infected. Yet, two nurses got it while wearing protective gear. And, upon closer questioning they admit that yes, droplets of moisture from a sneeze or cough could transmit the virus from a distance of three feet.

We must not forget that Ebola is a virus and viruses mutate like crazy. As I explained in my blog piece “La Grippe Espagnole” (basically a review of John Berry’s book on the Spanish flu) the pandemic of 1918-19 was not really deadly when it originated in Kansas. But, when it went overseas with the troops in WWI it mutated and when it came back it was deadly. There can be no argument that the longer this Ebola outbreak goes on the more likelihood that the virus will mutate and, in fact, may have already done so.

That’s why it’s so mystifying that Obama refuses to restrict travel to the US from the “hot zone” countries of West Africa. Two-dozen countries have already done it and two international airlines have cancelled all flights to those countries. The US continues to allow up to 150 people from these Ebola riddled countries to come to the US each day. Each day. Look at the problems and number of potentially exposed people one guy with the disease has caused. Does anyone seriously believe that of the roughly 1000 people from West Africa arriving each week that some with the disease are not going to slip through the temperature screening?

The arguments for not canceling all commercial flights and passengers from these Ebola hot zones are laughable. They say it won’t work but they have the tools and while it may not prevent a few to slip through, it’s certainly better than doing nothing.

A lesson from the Spanish flu might be instructive. As the epidemic swept across the continent from both coasts the only communities that were spared were those who blocked the roads and with armed guards refused to allow anyone through from the outside.

The reason the Obama Administration will not implement a ban is the same reason they were unable to profile young Arab men in their screening process for commercial air travel. They are philosophically opposed to any form of profiling and deathly afraid of being accused of discrimination.

I think a lot of this patty cake stuff is inspired by the upcoming election. Obama does not want to offend his anti-war base but wants to appear to be doing something in Iraq. The same thinking prevails with his tepid response to the Ebola threat. A travel ban would perhaps offend those Democrats who might see it as discrimination and profiling.

Despite Democrat fears of losing the Senate because Obama is such an ineffective and untruthful President, I have a feeling that the Dems will hold the Senate. A lot of people don’t vote and if you watch the student on the street interviews by Jessie Waters and before him Jay Leno, you become convinced that these young voters are completely ignorant about world and national issues.

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Political Correctness or Ego Inflation?

Late last fall I happened to be driving in Bellingham and listening to a local radio station. The announcer was giving the results of the state high school football playoffs. I paid attention because our grand daughter goes to one of the local high schools.
The sports guy reported that the Lummi “Blackhawks” had been defeated by their arch rival, the Neah Bay “Red Devils”. Whoa! I knew that these schools were tribal or Indian schools…. or, if you must, Native American schools. One has to assume that the students themselves chose these mascot names for their sports teams, or, at the very least were not troubled by them.
About this time the press and some professional sports blabbers were dissecting Dan Snyder, the billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins football team, over the name “Redskins”. The team has had that name since 1932 when the team was founded as the “Boston Redskins”.
At the time I wondered why they were picking on the Redskins. After all, there are thousands of sports teams, both college and professional, that have Indian related names. Just to name a few: Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks, Golden State Warriors, and Florida State Seminoles.
These names presumably were selected because they suggested the fighting spirit and determination of the Indians, not as an ethnic slur. Anyone who has watched baseball over the years must have seen tens of thousands of Atlanta fans all chanting and doing the tomahawk chop to urge their Braves on to victory. That is hardly a sign of disrespect.
If you’ve ever watched college football you surely have seen the Florida State mascot (Osceola) dressed in full Indian garb charging down the field astride Renegade, a magnificent Appaloosa, and planting his feathered lance in the middle of the field. More than a decade ago the NCAA went on the warpath against Indian mascots for college teams. Some were forced to change by PC faculty and school administrations. Florida State was able to resist partly because the Seminole tribe had no problem with the mascot.
That fact and, as the example of the mascot names for the two Bellingham tribal schools suggests, most Indians have no problem with these names. The natives that do complain are not really offended. They just want to see if they can push somebody’s buttons and they are aided and abetted by the politically correctness industry.
Remember the centuries long effort to correctly address American slaves and their descendants. In the early days they were referred to as “colored” because it was considered offensive to call them “negroes”. Then
It was determined it was fine to call them “negroes”. In the activism of the early ’60 the left decided that the proper term now was “Black”. OK, fine. But, just when everyone got accustomed to the “Black” term, the PC crowd led by grievance whores Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton announced, “Nope, now we’ve decided they must be referred to as “African Americans.” Some Blacks do not like this term as their families immigrated not from Africa but from the Caribbean or Europe.
How many generations removed from the homeland constitutes the statute of limitations on claiming a place as your ethnic appellation? And, what percentage of your genetic make-up must you have to be considered “African American”?
In the case of President Obama who claims African heritage, he is clearly 50% white from his mother but his father is largely Arab, supposedly with an African Black in his past. Some put Obama’s actual percentage of African blood at 6% and his Arab blood at 44%. Whatever the true percentage, the least part of him is African Black. No matter. He claimed to be African American and they claimed him, voting about 95 percent for ‘one of their own’.
A lot of this obsession with this stuff is a result of people with too much time on their hands. My Parisian friend would characterize it with a phrase that translates roughly as attempting to fornicate with flies. I think it stems from a burning desire to feel morally superior to others. In other words, just inflating your ego but believing you are protecting the feelings of others.
Very noble indeed.

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Purveyors of Apocalypse

Next up on my list of writing projects was a piece on fracking but the recent cold snap bumped this one to the top of the list.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog you are well aware of my long skepticism of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) now referred to as “climate change”. I’ve taken some significant amount of ridicule for that view over the years, particularly from the readers of “The Vancouver Sun” where I offered some thoughts on the subject after the intellectual dishonesty at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was exposed.

So, it brought me no small measure of satisfaction when the expedition to the Antarctic to study the impact of global warming found itself stuck in the sea ice. The ice breaker sent to rescue them also got stuck and then the US sent a huge ice breaker to try to free both ships. True to form, of the first 41 news reports on the incident, 40 of them failed to mention what the Hell they were doing down there and simply referred to them as “tourists” or “scientists”. According to the expedition leader’s website, Professor Chris Turney of the U. of New South Whales, they were there to study the effects of global warming on sea ice. You would think that the media would be unable to resist this rich irony, but of course you would be wrong. They have too much invested in the global warming story.

The news services, however, cannot ignore the cold spell that is now breaking 100 year old temperature records all over the North American continent. Of course, they can cry that this “polar vortex” is just a very unique phenomenon and has in no way disproved global warming, er, climate change. This is the thesis of Jason Samenow, the weather editor of the Washington Post, who has made a career out of pushing the global warming story. It is true. You can’t predict what’s going to happen a hundred years hence by a single weather event. However, whenever a nasty event like a heat wave, tornado, hurricane or drought strikes somewhere on Earth these same guys and gals are loudly blaming it on global warming. Some yahoos have even tried to blame the polar vortex on AGW.

Dr. Roger Pielke of the U. of Colorado is a professor of Environmental Studies and he testified before Congress on December 11, 2013 that hurricane landfalls since 1900 have NOT increased, nor are they more intense or causing more damage. His studies also show the same is true for floods, droughts, tornadoes and forest fires. There is simply no evidence that these extreme weather events have increased in the last couple of decades. Did you see that on NBC Nightly News?

No? Maybe you saw this one? A sea level study by Lennart Bengston, a Swedish researcher using satellite data from the U of Colorado concludes that sea levels have risen an average of 3 mm/year over the last 20 years. This slow increase in sea level continues a trend begun at the end of the last ice age and the rate has not increased in the last 20 years.

To put this in perspective let’s do a little metric conversion arithmetic. There are 2.54 cm in one inch or 25.4 mm. So 3mm equals about 1/8 inch rise in sea levels per year. In 100 years that comes out to about a foot or so…just a tad lower than the 20 foot prediction in Al Gore’s Academy Award winning 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth”. But hey, Al’s made some $200 million dollars since losing his bid for the Presidency. Perhaps winning the prize for Purveyor of Apocalypse of this decade and pocketing the $200 million will be sufficient consolation?

There have been many predictors of the coming Armageddon who have cashed in on the gravy train. After all, nothing sells newspapers and magazines or loosens the purse strings of governments and rich donors like the end of life on our fragile planet. No one wants the facts to mess up a good story or to obstruct the government grants to universities and think tanks to study the problem. The US has doled out billions to energy related start-ups (mostly to large donors to Obama and the Democrats) for wind or solar farms, electric car developers and solar panel manufacturers. Most have gone tits up.
We also recently learned that the Obama brain trust has given $4.7 billion between 2010 and 2012 to other countries to battle global warming! Draining the public treasury to do battle with a ghost like AGW is one thing but the war on carbon has more dangerous implications when mandated policies like closing down coal fired electrical generating plants and putting unnecessary restrictions on drilling or pipelines is added to the insanity. As this unusual cold snap is demonstrating, electrical grids are dangerously close to their limitations during prolonged frigid periods. Closing power plants because you hate coal and nuclear is simply irresponsible.

It doesn’t seem to matter that past dire warnings of the coming apocalypse have proven hopelessly wrong, the gullible public always falls for the next one. Recently we had the Y2K computer crisis. Some smart computer nerds made a bundle on that one. And what about the Mayan Calendar 2012 scare? Hard to dispute the Mayans were pretty clever dudes for their day. But I did wonder how smart they could be if they sacrificed their prettiest virgins to make it rain? Just sayin’. Here in more enlightened times we just sacrifice tax dollars and economic prosperity.

Nor does being hopelessly wrong about predictions that the world is coming to an end seem to adversely impact a reputation or income. Take Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor of biology who in 1968 appeared on Johnny Carson to promote his book “The Population Bomb” predicting mass starvation in the next 20 years due to overpopulation. This is, of course, the same crap espoused by Rev. Thomas Malthus in 1798.

The population of the earth in 1960 was 3 billion people at the time and Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers professors John Holdren and John Harte, among others jumped on the bandwagon. They predicted that growing populations would outstrip the food supply and the world would soon run out of everything including oil, copper, iron, tin, etc. This became the “settled science” of the period and governments and journalists called for action to control population growth and resource consumption. The guys selling this apocalyptic vision made a bundle selling books, making speaking fees and with cushy university jobs. Politicians of all stripes jumped on the bandwagon. By 1970 Earth Day had kicked off the modern environmental movement and Nixon created the EPA.

Of course, there were skeptics most notably Julian Simon, an economist and business professor at the U of Illinois. Simon believed that technology and human ingenuity would prevail and that resources were not finite. This led to a very public battle between the two… essentially the apocalypse camp and the optimist camp. Simon proposed a bet with Ehrlich that soon became very public. Simon offered to let Ehrlich pick any five commodities (he chose chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet that these would not increase in price in the next decade. If they were to become scarce they would obviously increase in price. Ehrlich was assisted in selecting the five by Holdren and Harte.

So, how did the bet turn out? Not good for Ehrlich. All five commodities were LESS costly. (This is all detailed in the book The Bet by Paul Sabin.) What about the mass starvation that was predicted by these guys in 1968? The earth’s population has more than doubled since then and the only starvation is caused by war and political repression. Improved farming practices, seed genetics and mechanization has vastly improved yields. Besides, the UN among others are predicting that the earth’s popu-lation has peaked and will be declining in the coming decades.

Ehrlich and his fellow doomsayers were hopelessly wrong about everything so their credibility as prognosticators should be over, right? Wrong! Like the guy on the street corner with the sign, “Repent. The world ends on July 14th!” When it doesn’t happen he simply changes the date.

Ehrlich is still a Harvard professor and much in demand for his opinions on the serious threat of global warming.

John Holdren who seems to never have been right about anything, is now Obama’s“Science Czar” and helps shape their climate change agenda. John Harte, now a professor at Berkley has written a book called “Climate Shock”.

Ya gotta give it to these guys and their guru, Al Gore; they’re pretty good at riding the latest apocalyptic fad to the bank.

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