masthead-highres

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Forbes: Can Corporations Save The World?

As noted by Forbes magazine, National Center Senior Fellow Tom Borelli says there is a link -- and not the kind folks like -- between corporations that put resources into appeasing the PC police (my description, not his) and the corporation's performance on matters of greater significance.

Tom cites BP ("Beyond Petroleum") as an example; the Forbes piece, by Carlye Adler, includes a response to Tom from BP:
Tom Borelli, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, says companies are ill equipped to tackle the world's problems. He cites BP as the 'poster child' of CSR gone wrong. Indeed, BP has had its share of troubles lately, including a pipeline leak in Alaska, a plant explosion in Texas City and an oil spill in California.

'BP became obsessed with image campaigns that diverted money and management attention from its core business with tragic consequences for its workers, the environment and shareholders,' says Borelli. 'BP should have put money into safety and maintenance, not glitzy PR; their real responsibility is to safely and effectively produce oil.'

In response, Sarah Howell, director of corporate communications at BP, said in an e-mail statement to Forbes.com, 'These events are unacceptable to us, and we regret and apologize for them.' She adds, 'We have $7 billion dedicated to our U.S. safety and integrity effort, and earlier this year announced plans to spend an additional $1 billion over the next four years to improve operational integrity and process safety in our U.S. refineries.'

Borelli, who is also the portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund -- a mutual fund that uses its institutional shareholder standing to challenge company management on the financial impact of CSR -- takes it a step further: 'When you boil it down, there are two economic systems: socialism or capitalism. CSR is the viral agent of socialism. Social welfare should come from government and investment from corporations.'

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:17 PM

When It Comes to Hurricanes and Global Warming, Rhetoric Was the Only Thing that Grew in Intensity in 2006

Husband David has a few things to say about Al Gore and the end of the 2006 hurricane season:
Inaccurate 2006 Hurricane Forecast Should Remind Americans that Climatology is an Uncertain Science - and Political Science, Even More So

Washington, D.C. - As the 2006 hurricane season comes to a close, the failure of forecasters to accurately predict the frequency and intensity of this year's hurricanes should remind Americans that climatology is an uncertain science. It should also cause Americans to question the reliability of definitive claims made by prominent environmental activists that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes.

Today marks the official end of the 2006 hurricane season. The number of hurricanes was 38 percent below the number originally forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The number of hurricanes that qualified as "major" - category 3 or above - fell 50 percent below NOAA forecasts. Not a single hurricane made landfall.

"If we can't depend on hurricane forecasts made one to six months ahead of time, how can we expect to depend on predictions about the behavior of hurricanes decades from now," asked David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Those who claim that rising global temperatures would definitely lead to more intense hurricanes appear to be relying upon political science, not climate science."

Forecasters say their projections this year were off the mark, in part due to a late-developing El Nino, which produced wind sheers that destabilized developing hurricanes.

El Ninos are a phenomena that some climate scientists believe would increase in frequency if average global temperatures rise.

"If increasing global temperatures increases the frequency and duration of El Ninos as these scientists suggest, global warming could result in less intense hurricanes," said Ridenour. "That is exactly the opposite of what Albert Gore and other often-quoted advocates of immediate action on climate change have been saying."

With uncertainty surrounding the actual effects of planetary warming, The National Center contends that catastrophic scenarios are frequently raised to make the case for action more compelling.

"When it comes to hurricanes and global warming, the rhetoric was the only thing that grew in intensity in 2006. It is now at such a fevered pitch that even those who believe action on climate change is needed are growing uncomfortable with the shrill nature of the discourse on climate change," said Ridenour. "Mike Hulme, one of Britain's top climate scientists, and a man who believes climate change is underway, probably put it best: 'The language of catastrophe is not the language of science.'"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:52 PM

On Social Security, Liberals Seek Censorship by Unemployment

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Moore is noting that efforts by the liberal National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and its allies to block President Bush's appointment of Andrew Biggs as deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration is an attempt at censorship through unemployment.

Moore says, "All ideas to rescue and revitalize Social Security should be on the table," recommending that ideas be eliminated only because they have been found to lack merit, "not because their advocates were denied employment."

Once almost gets the impression the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which is headed by a former Democrat Member of Congress, is afraid of a fair debate.

More information can be found here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:03 PM

Stealing: Not OK -- Even at Work

We're equal opportunity critics here at the National Center. I critique MSNBC; husband David provides similarly constructive advice to Fox.

To that end, I reproduce a letter David sent today to John Gibson, host of The Big Story on the Fox News Channel:
John,

Your story criticizing YouTube for carrying videos with instruction on how to pick locks was a bit hypocritical given that you had another story providing tips on how to take a "not really sick day." There isn't much of a difference, is there?

YouTube is providing information that can be used by people to take property that doesn't belong to them. Your sick day tips can be used by people to take time -- and, yes, compensation -- that doesn't belong to them.

Neither is ethical.

David Ridenour, VP
The National Center for Public Policy Research (an employer)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 AM

Post and Olbermann v. NSTA: In Good Journalism, Fact-Checking Is Everything

The National Science Teachers Association has now officially responded to Laurie David's Washington Post op-ed (see Noel Sheppard's Newsbusters post on the op-ed here) essentially accusing the group of being captive to corporate interests when it declined a gift of 50,000 "An Inconvenient Truth" DVDs for distribution to classrooms.

It doesn't say so, but presumably the NSTA is also responding to MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann's Monday evening accusation that the NSTA president, Linda Froschauer, is "available at the right price," a statement made by Olbermann in a commentary that appears to have been based on the Laurie David Washington Post op-ed.

It would be interesting to know where the truth lies here. David's Washington Post op-ed blames the NSTA (and ExxonMobil) for the fact that their 50,000 DVDs have not been distributed to classrooms:
While NSTA and Exxon Mobil ponder the moral lesson they're teaching with all this, there are 50,000 DVDs sitting in a Los Angeles warehouse, waiting to be distributed.
But the NSTA tells a different story:
During conversations with Ms. David's representative we suggested making the DVD available via alternative means of distribution (e.g. by providing a mailing list of our members to producers, announcing its availability in our publications, etc.). It appears that these alternative distribution mechanisms were unsatisfactory.
If the NSTA's statement is correct, all Laurie David, Al Gore and the others involved in the promotion of "An Inconvenient Truth" had to do to get their DVD, and their opinions on global warming, into the hands of the NSTA's membership was accept the generous offer of the mailing list and mail their DVD to the list.

Could it be that the entire issue came down to the question of which organization paid the postage and handling charges for getting Al Gore's movie to America's youth? Maybe not, but if the NSTA is telling the truth, I'm having a hard time seeing any other legitimate reason why the movie's producers turned down the opportunity to mail the DVD out themselves. (I'm hoping the only other reason that occurs to me -- that the entire episode has been a set-up to gather publicity for the movie and its producers' views -- is just me being too cynical.)

Of course, Laurie David may have the right of it and the NSTA may be spinning a falsehood. Maybe the generous offer of the mailing list never happened, and the NSTA just made up the story yesterday. That would explain why the NSTA's version of events does not appear in either the Post or the MSNBC commentary.

If the Washington Post assiduously fact-checked Laurie David's op-ed; if MSNBC and its personnel independently and competently confirmed the NSTA president's policy prostitution ( a fair term for Olbermann's chracterization, I believe) before its broadcast, then NSTA may have some explaining to do.

It all comes down to the fact-checking.

To get to the truth, I faxed letters Wednesday evening to Charles Tillinghast, president of MSNBC (a similar letter was faxed to Izzy Povich, executive producer of Keith Olbermann's Show), and to Deborah Howell, ombudsman at the Washington Post. The letters follow. I'll share any responses I receive.
November 29, 2006

Mr. Charles Tillinghast
President
MSNBC
1 MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
By facsimile: 201-583-5081

Dear Mr. Tillinghast:

On a November 27, 2006 MSNBC Countdown broadcast, Keith Olbermann slammed Linda Froschauer, a middle school science teacher and president of the National Science Teachers Association, saying: "Linda Froschauer, president of the National Science Teachers Association, available at the right price..."

Few would argue that such a statement is defamatory. An important question: Is it true?

Mr. Olbermann's assertions appeared to be based on claims made in a November 24 Washington Post op-ed by Laurie David, who is party to a dispute with the NSTA. Ms. David's reporting is contaminated by a conflict of interest, and the NSTA has now publicly said her article contained key errors.

If the NSTA is correct about the errors, Mr. Olbermann's statement was defamatory and false.

Did MSNBC independently confirm the facts to make certain the defamatory claim is true before the claim was broadcast?

If not, in light of the fact that the NSTA denies critical elements of Ms. David's and Mr. Olbermann's assertions, does MSNBC intend to investigate the facts now, and issue an apology to Ms. Froschauer and the NSTA if the facts warrant? Or, will it let a potentially false and defamatory statement stand?

I would appreciate a response, and thank you in advance for your attention to my questions.

Sincerely yours,

Amy Ridenour
President
National Center for Public Policy Research
and
November 29, 2006

Ms. Deborah Howell
Ombudsman
The Washington Post
1150-15th Street
Washington, DC 20071
By facsimile: 202-728-3222

Dear Ms. Howell:

On a November 27, 2006 MSNBC "Countdown" broadcast, Keith Olbermann slammed Linda Froschauer, a middle school science teacher and president of the National Science Teachers Association, saying: "Linda Froschauer, president of the National Science Teachers Association, available at the right price..."

Few would argue that such a statement is defamatory. An important question: Is it true?

The Washington Post presumably knows, as Mr. Olbermann's assertions appear to be based on claims made in a November 24 Washington Post op-ed by Laurie David.

The NSTA has now publicly said Ms. David's article contained key errors. I write to you today to inquire:

* Does the Washington Post routinely fact-check op-eds by outside writers before publishing?

* If so, did it do so in this instance?

* As Laurie David had an inherent conflict of interest in writing an op-ed about her own dispute with the NSTA, did any fact-checking process of this particular op-ed include getting the NSTA's side of the story?

* If the Washington Post does not fact-check op-eds before publishing, would management consider publishing a disclaimer to the effect that the Washington Post stands behind the factual content of its op-eds only to the extent of unavoidable (and not particularly extensive) legal liability?

* If the Washington Post did not fact-check Ms. David's op-ed before publishing it, in light of the NSTA's assertions that the op-ed contains significant factual errors, will it do so now? Will the Post issue a correction if errors are found?

* In light of the MSNBC broadcast which, if untrue, may have been so because MSNBC relied on the Post, if the Post issues any corrections, will it move to help correct the more general record by informing MSNBC of its decision to issue said corrections?

I very much appreciated your comment in the January 1, 2006 Washington Post that the Post "must renew efforts to be fanatical about accuracy and fairness." Given the tremendous influence of the Washington Post's editorial page, if the Post is not now thoroughly fact-checking all op-eds, I strongly urge the paper to begin doing so at the earliest possible time.

I would appreciate a response, and thank you in advance for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Amy Ridenour
President
National Center for Public Policy Research
Note: I mistyped the date the Laurie David op-ed appeared in the Post in my letters reproduced above. The correct date is November 26.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:06 AM

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Congress May Be a Lame Duck, But National Heritage Area Proposal Still Lives

We're told Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is going to try to get his National Heritage Area legislation through Congress during the lame duck session.

We worry that the National Heritage Area plan could harm property rights and inappropriately increase federal involvement in land-use decisions that up to now have been made by local governments and the citizens to which they answer.

Our press release in this instance examines claims that local governments are the ones clamoring for an increased federal role in planning decisions made in the areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia roughly encompassing Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, Frederick and Charlotteville and the lands between.
"Local Support" for Congressman Wolf's National Heritage Area Bill Largely Smoke and Mirrors

Sources Say Effort Will Be Made to Get Bill Adopted During Lame Duck Session

Washington, D.C.
- The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act does not enjoy the broad local support that its supporters claim, concludes an investigation by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

According to multiple Congressional sources, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has now made plans to sneak his controversial Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act through during the "lame duck" congressional session next week.

During promotional and lobbying efforts, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership has claimed their "campaign to be recognized as the nation's 28th National Heritage Area continues to move forward as counties and towns along the four-state corridor join their neighbors in passing resolutions of support."

However, an examination reveals many of these supposed resolutions of support do not endorse the federal legislation, but merely acknowledge the rich history of a region described by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground foundation as a "corridor... from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, through Frederick County, Maryland and ending in Charlottesville, Virginia" and laud the opportunity of local groups to work with and learn from one another.

Resolutions passed by the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia town of Warrenton and the Albemarle County VA Board of Supervisors and others do not support, nor even mention, the federal legislation.

For example, the resolution passed by the Virginia General Assembly acknowledges "the intrinsic importance to Virginia of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground project," but defines the project not as a federal National Heritage Area but as a "partnership" among 19 specified non-profit organizations and local government entities. The partnership, the resolution states, is supported by the General Assembly so Virginians can "learn from groups in Maryland and Pennsylvania" and "contribute to the economic development potential of the localities that border the Route 15/20 corridor."

There is no indication in the resolution that the General Assembly was even made aware of, let alone supported, plans to create a federal "Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area," which would involve the federal government in Virginia's local land-use planning, before the resolution was voted on.

The Albemarle County Board resolution is strikingly similar to the Virginia state resolution. It endorses only the "importance" of the 19-member partnership and the opportunity to "learn from groups in Maryland and Pennsylvania." No federal role is mentioned, let alone endorsed.

According to Kenneth Boyd, vice chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, the Albemarle County Board's resolution was for "general support of the concept, but not much beyond that."

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors rejected a resolution in support of the Journey Through Hallowed initiative.

"One of the big reasons I'm opposed to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area is the inability to get the true facts about the project from the people who are promoting it," said Jim Clem, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. "While this project may be well intended, it's my opinion that it's just another means of stopping development in this area."

"Route 15 is a busy State Highway that needs safety improvements," continued Clem, who chairs the Loudoun County Board's Public Safety Committee. "It's my opinion that the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Project will cause delays or stoppage of these critical highway improvements. While I am a strong supporter of preserving our history, people's rights need to be preserved also."

Warrenton, Virginia's supposed resolution of support is entitled "Resolution Nominating Route 15 in the Town of Warrenton for Inclusion in the State's Scenic Byway System." No mention of federal Heritage Areas.

Other claims of local support for the federal legislative initiative are weak.

Proponents of the federal heritage area legislation, including its sponsor, U.S. Representative Frank Wolf in his testimony before the House Subcommittee on National Parks in September, cite a poll purporting to show that a significant majority of residents along the Heritage Area's proposed route support the initiative.

But the Fauquier Times Democrat reported last year that the poll was commissioned by special interest groups pushing for the Heritage Area and used a questionable sampling method. The poll also did not disclose any specific legislative initiatives to the poll's respondents. In addition, the Times Democrat noted, "96 percent [of respondents] were not familiar with the plan."

The National Center also questions the claim that the Heritage Area lobbying effort is locally-driven, given the financing of the group leading the effort. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground foundation received a one million dollar earmark in last year's federal transportation bill. As a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Wolf was well-positioned to play a key role in securing such funding for the group.

On October 10, 2006, the National Center for Public Policy Research issued a press release, "Did Frank Wolf Earmark Funds to Aid His Own Legislative Initiative?," calling on the Congressman "to fully disclose his role in securing a $1 million earmark to the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Foundation included in last year's massive transportation bill." No response was received. Congressman Wolf has reportedly refused other requests to disclose his earmark activity.

"There is a big difference between resolutions that praise the historic significance of the area, and resolutions that support federal legislation to empower a new, unelected 'management entity' to help manage the area's land use policies," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Anyone who is told that a local government entity has endorsed the Wolf bill should request a copy of the alleged resolution of support, and check the actual text."

"Local support for this federal Heritage Area must depend on your definition of the word 'local,'" said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "It appears that push polls, earmarks and creative interpretations of county and city resolutions constitute 'local support' to the Hallowed Ground lobby. That's not how things work in the real world."

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, D.C.
For more information on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area proposal, I (unsurprisingly) recommend these or other National Center publications on the proposal:
National Policy Analysis #548: Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006 Fact Sheet

National Policy Analysis #540: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: An Example of How Pork-Barrel Politics Can Threaten Local Rule and Property Rights

National Center Blog Post: Journey Through Hallowed Ground Debated in House Committee

National Center Blog Post: "Hallowed Ground": A National Heritage Area History Lesson

Press Release: Did Frank Wolf Earmark Funds to Aid His Own Legislative Initiative?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth in the Classroom: Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" Declined to Distribute Gore's Movie to Teachers


With the final line "Linda Froschauer, president of the National Science Teachers Association, available at the right price," Keith Olbermann of MSNBC Monday named Froschauer "worst person in the world."

How did Ms. Froschauer get labeled a policy prostitute on MSNBC? The organization she heads declined a donation of 50,000 DVD copies of Al Gore's documentary-editorial "An Inconvenient Truth."

Yep. Apparently that movie is so good, people have to be paid to turn down 50,000 copies of it.

As movie producer Laurie David said in an indignant op-ed in the Washington Post (one of four pro-global warming theory articles the Post ran over the last two-day weekend, by my count), the movie's producers donated the 50,000 DVDs "for educators to use in their classrooms."

David called the producers' offer a "no brainer," and she was probably right, just not in the manner she thought. Distributing the movie would have harmed the National Science Teachers Association's reputation.

David described the National Science Teachers Association's reasoning this way:
In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other "special interests" might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free DVDs.
Fair enough. Despite David's denials ("Gore... is not running for office") Gore's movie is political. "Political will is a renewable resource," the movie's website says, and it goes on to urge people to take actions it recommends, some of which are legislative. We can assume not all these legislative recommendations are endorsed by the students' parents.

An Inconvenient Truth also is a bit hysterical. Consider the first paragraph of the first section on the movie's website:
Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that even most believers in the global warming theory would call this misleading at best. "The vast majority of the world's scientists" don't even work on climate. Among those scientists who do, "the vast majority" DO NOT claim "we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe."

An Inconvenient Truth also provides an "AIT [An Inconvenient Truth] in the Classroom" educator's guide that includes such assertions (pdf) as "If the warming continues, we can expect catastrophic consequences. Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years -- to 300,000 people a year."

Perhaps "AIT in the Classroom" can direct us to a list of names of the 150,000 people who are currently dying annually because of global warming? Or any other specific information about the unfortunate 150,000, to permit the thorough verification of this rather dramatic claim?

That the National Science Teachers Association, a group that appears to take its work seriously, doesn't want 50,000 copies of this movie to distribute at (apparently) its own expense makes sense to me, but not to Laurie David, Keith Olbermann or MSNBC.

But then, Laurie David, Keith Olbermann and MSNBC are after something other than the National Science Teachers Association. They're after the usual culprit in these tedious envirodramas: ExxonMobil.

You see, according to David, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute have donated to the the National Science Teachers Association. So, in a move reminiscent of the ill-grounded assertions of Britain's Royal Society and Senators Rockefeller and Snowe, Laurie David, Keith Olbermann and MSNBC assume the oil industry is ultimately responsible for the decisions and positions of the the NSTA.

Al Gore's movie, like it or lump it, is a movie expressing strong opinions and political content. Are we to assume that the only NSTA donors who might question distributing 50,000 copies of such a film to teachers for classroom use are oil companies?

Furthermore, do we really want education associations distributing to teachers copies of everything they are given for free?

Should money trump judgment?

P.S. Note in the graphic reproduced above how MSNBC's website misleadingly described the Froschauer-led National Science Teachers Association's decision not to accept and distribute a movie with political content. Not quite accurate, is it?

Addendum: Pat Cleary has more on the NAM blog, as does Noel Sheppard on Newsbusters, where I cross-posted most of this.

Addendum 2, 11/30/06: Husband David comments:
If the NSTA accepted Gore's movie and distributed it without exercising content control, it would be guilty of what Olbermann accuses it of -- letting money determine policy.

What Olbermann is saying is essentially this: If an organization engages in a program BECAUSE it receives resources from ExxonMobil, this would be unethical. But if an organization engages in a program BECAUSE it it receives resources from another special interest (one which he approved of), that would be ethical.

Bottom line here is that it is the responsibility of every organization to maintain control over its programs. Olbermann apparently thinks otherwise.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:40 AM

Dead Father of Two

I wish the news media would stop prominently referring to Sean Bell, the man killed in a Saturday confrontation with police in Queens, as a "groom."

Sean Bell and the lady he planned to marry already had two children together. In every meaningful secular sense, they were married already.

If the news media can't resist adding pathos to the story -- apparently, reporting the story straight is off the table -- it should refer to Bell as a "father of two."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 AM

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Global Warming Consensus: Folks Who Believe There is One Can't Tell you What It Is

From page one of today's (Nov. 25) Washington Post, an article by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin that begins with a reference to "the scientific consensus about climate change" as if the "consensus" were an established fact:
While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.
Question: If "the consensus" truly is an established fact, why is it referred to as "a consensus"? Why not just state the facts about which there is a "consensus"? (After all, no one refers to the "consensus" that gravity is the reason an apple falls down after separation from a tree. Folks just call it "gravity.")

Answer: Because even among those who believe there is a consensus on global warming, there is no agreement about the consensus itself. To some believers it is a consensus that the planet has been warming (but with internal disagreement on since when and how much); to others it is a consensus that human-caused CO2 emissions are causing measurable warming (but how much it may cause and how quickly is disputed); to others it is a consensus that the expected warming will be catastrophic for the entire planet (while others believe it will benefit some areas while harming others, or believe warming would be negative but not necessarily catastrophic); to some it is a consensus that hurricanes, droughts, snowstorms, etc. have been altered by human behavior (while others say the jury is still out); to some it is a consensus in favor of one or more of the scientific theories combined with the advocacy of some specified political action, such as ratifying the Kyoto treaty (while others see the consensus as wholly scientific, with no political components). Etc.

Bottom line: The supposed consensus itself is a mass of contradictory opinions, a fact which says clearly to anyone with open ears that the science isn't settled on global warming.

So, even though the Washington Post apparently has decided to deny the existence of doubters to the global warming theory "consensus" (making Post reporters and editors "deniers" in the truest sense), the Post still can't do what it ought to have done in the lede: Define the consensus.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters.

Addendum: The Washington Post certainly has interesting ledes. From a November 26 global warming article by Blaine Harden and Juliet Eilperin:
SEATTLE -- As the Bush administration debates much of the world about what to do about global warming, butterflies and ski-lift operators, polar bears and hydroelectric planners are on the move.
There is a world-wide debate "about global warming, butterflies and ski-lift operators"?
In their separate ways, wild creatures, business executives and regional planners are responding to climate changes that are rapidly recalibrating their chances for survival, for profit and for effective delivery of public services...
As surprised as I am that climate changes have the ability to recalibrate their chances for survival, I'm even more surprised that, with their survival in doubt, the climate changes are still concerned about profit and the effective delivery of public services. (Shows what I know about climate changes.)

Subject-verb agreement problems aside, I don't think the Post meant to say "recalibrate." I think it meant "recalculate."

Oh, well, I shouldn't quibble about a few words. It is not as if we are trusting the Post to teach us about atmospheric physics or something.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:23 PM

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Perhaps a Coincidence

Interesting:
British police are investigating the alleged poisoning of a former Russian secret policeman, who had been granted asylum in London....

...Mr Litvinenko is a known critic of the Putin regime.

It is thought he had been investigating the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed in Moscow last month.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 PM

Friday, November 17, 2006

Everyone's a Skeptic: Sir Nicholas Stern Concedes Uncertainties

More from David Ridenour at COP-12 in Nairobi:
Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the much-publicized "Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," conceded that uncertainties remain on both the science and economics of climate change in an afternoon presentation here at the U.N. Global warming conference.

Stern began his presentation by acknowledging that global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions has been delayed due to the long-term nature of the problem and the ongoing scientific and economic uncertainties of climate change.

Referring to climate change as an externality, Stern said the real question is "what could be the costs of these externalities? This is a matter of the economics of risk."

Wednesday, Secretary General Kofi Annan lashed out at what he called "a few die hard skeptics... Trying to sow doubt." He said these skeptics "should be seen for what they are: out of step, out of arguments, and out of time."

One assumes he wasn't referring to Stern, but one wonders. The key difference between Stern and the so-called "skeptics" is not that they disagree on the existence of uncertainty. Both acknowledge there is some. The key difference is that Stern believes in applying the precautionary principle -- regulating emissions "in case" it is needed to avert global catastrophe.

Stern argues that the risk probability is significant enough to warrant drastic action. Reasonable people can disagree.

His prescription? Stern calls for stabilizing anthropogenic emissions at 550 parts per million (it's currently 430 ppm). This, he argues, is what is needed to limit the increase in global temperature to 2-3 degrees Celsius.

This can be achieved, he claims, at a cost of just 1 percent of world GDP.

But given the current technology, this figure seems highly dubious without major technological advances. Demand for energy continues to rise and no economically and politically acceptable substitute currently exists.

I told Stern that I believed his figure of 1 percent of GDP was unrealistic and asked him about his technological assumptions and if nuclear energy was built into them.

The first part of his answer qualifies as the "Duck of the Day."

"I don't think it’s unrealistic... It draws on a very broad range of literature... A lot depends on investment, flexibility of structures, and good policy," Stern responded. "There's considerable uncertainty... But our [findings] are consistent with figures elsewhere."

And the underlying technological assumptions would be?

Stern finally did acknowledge, however, that stabilizing emissions would require, "the whole range... Wind, solar, nuclear have to play a part."

The Stern Review briefing also included a presentation by Vicky Pope of the Hadley Centre, upon which the Stern Review depended for the scientific part of its report.

Like Stern, Pope began her presentation pointing out the uncertainties of emissions, "science in models," and natural variability -- apparently to add an air of respectability the Hadley Centre's research.

But she assured all in attendance that the group's projections of significant, possibly catastrophic warming were based on "plausible science."

That's similar to the phase used by Kofi Annan yesterday.

Again, we're being asked to take immediate, possibly economically devastating greenhouse gas reductions based on plausible science?

In case anyone actually listened to and took note of her statement that the science is uncertain, Pope threw this in: "[An increase of] 5 degrees Celsius... [Which would result] from business as usual... is the difference between now and the last Ice Age."

Talk about contradictory messages.

And now the jaw-dropper of the day...

The Stern panel also included a presentation by an environmental specialist from the Peoples Republic of China by the name of Pan Jiahua who made one comment that drew gasps from the audience.

Mr. Jiahua asserted that reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires more than technological advancements. It requires, he said, reducing demand, which can be achieved, in part, by limiting population growth. He went on to say that China's one-child policy has reduced energy demand by 300 million people.

The comment drew gasps from some in the audience. Under China's one-child policy, millions of baby girls have been put to death by parents seeking male offspring.

At the conclusion of the panel, I gave Sir Nicholas Stern one of our "Kyoto Protocol Survival Kits." He graciously accepted.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:30 PM

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Senators and Theft

The Chicago Sun-Times has published husband David's statement criticizing Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for asking ExxonMobil to stop funding 29 "climate change denial front groups" to which, the Senators claim, ExxonMobil was "the primary funder" in 2004. (The actual names of the groups were not disclosed by the Senators, which may make it a bit problematic for ExxonMobil to grant their request, should it be so inclined.)

The statement received coverage elsewhere, too, including on the anti-skeptic Desmogblog. That blog tried to steal David's essential point -- that dissenters have not always been properly appreciated by the advocates of orthodoxy -- by trying to claim it for themselves, but their getaway car had a flat. If there genuinely is "a consensus" that the planet is facing man-made catastrophic warming, as Desmogblog insists, then those who hold that view cannot by definition be "dissenters." (For that matter, if there truly is a consensus, there can't be any dissenters.)

Global warming aside, I also was struck by the photo of my husband that graced the blog entry. Definitely the handsomest guy on the page. I well remember taking that very photo. What I don't remember is Desmogblog asking for permission to publish it. Send me a buck, folks, for one-time use, and I'll donate the dollar to charity in your name.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:16 PM

Climate Change Press Conference: The Atmosphere is Complex; Media Coverage, Not

Most press and blog coverage of the press conference sponsored by Senator James Inhofe today on the COP-12 climate change meeting in Nairobi seem to be focusing on the Senator's remarks. Our Ryan Balis attended. His write-up includes the remarks of the other speakers -- the scientists:
Today on Capitol Hill, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), outgoing chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, addressed the media on the U.N. Climate Change Conference currently meeting in Nairobi, Kenya: "What we learned in Nairobi and what I have known for a long time is that the real focus has little to do with the fate of the planet and much to do about money -- who has it, and who wants it."

On hand to present scientific evidence questioning global warming alarmism were three distinguished scientists, Drs. Joe D'Aleo, Ben Herman and William Gray. Some highlights of their presentations follow.

Dr. Joe D'Aleo -- former chairman of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting and a co-founder of The Weather Channel -- argued that recent trends of accelerated global temperature rises are "much more complex" than models show. D'Aleo stressed that "natural cycles are important" in explaining these trends.

For instance, solar factors account for 50 percent of warming, according to D'Aleo. "When the sun is brighter, it's hotter." Ocean temperature and volcanic activity are also explanatory factors. The Pacific Ocean warmed in 1995 after decades of being cooler. "El Ninos tend to bring global warming because of the warmth in the tropical Pacific [Ocean]," said D'Aleo.

And because of relatively few recent volcanic eruptions, there is less ash ejected into the atmosphere that would block radiation from the Sun. "What does that mean? More radiation from the sun gets through." This produces warming.

Dr. Ben Herman of the University of Arizona's Department of Atmospheric Physics centered his presentation on the "discrepancy" among satellite-based temperature readings, temperature measurements on the ground and what climate models predict. "When you compare satellite, mid-troposphere satellite observations, with surface observations they don't agree with climate models," argued Herman.

"Climate models, in general, for the most part, have predicted that the mid-troposphere, somewhere between 10 [thousand] to 30,000 feet above the surface of the Earth, should warm more rapidly," said Herman. "In fact, observations have shown just the opposite." Moreover, "there are all kinds of complicated feedback mechanisms that come into play that the models cannot property handle."

As a result, Herman believes the temperature predictions being made today are done "off the hat and without any backing."

Finally, Dr. William Gray, a 50-year veteran in the field of meteorology, doubts the ability of climate models to predict future temperatures. Gray acknowledged some warming in the atmosphere but argues "I think it's mostly natural... We cannot interpret every temperature change as measured as purely human. Most all of it, in my view, is due to natural changes."

Gray stated: "I've been appalled at what I've been reading in the papers and hearing the last 20 years or so on this climate change. Everything I know about how the atmosphere functions does not subscribe to what we've been hearing."

Climate cycle models, such as those done outside 10 to 12 days in advance, are generally not correct. "The atmosphere is very complex," argued Grey. He elaborated: “Global models are not issuing forecasts for the next season, next year or so. They don't do it - why? Because they don't have any skill. But that doesn't stop them from telling us what it's going to like 50 to 100 years from now. It's going to be warmer [but] how do they know that? This is ridiculous.”
Senator Inhofe was criticized a few months back for allowing a mere medical doctor to testify before his committee on the global warming issue (see here, here, here or here, among others), but I notice that when the Senator calls a press conference and brings scientists who have dedicated their careers to related issues with him, the scientists -- except for this blog, as far as I have seen so far -- don't seem to get quoted in the press.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:56 PM

COP-12 Report: U.S. Climate Policy Puts Action Over Image

From David at COP-12 in Nairobi:
Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. State Department hosted a briefing at the U.N. global warming conference entitled "Focused on Africa: U.S. Partnerships on Energy, Clean Development and Climate Change" that sent conflicting signals on where the U.S. stands on climate change.

While describing a U.S. Agency for International Development climate adaptation program in Sikasso, Mali, the agency's John Furlough made the rather startling claim that their program was based on their projection that the temperature in the area "will increase by 2-3 degrees celsius by 2060."

A specific temperature projection (a regional one, no less) suggests confidence in climate models -- something President Bush didn't have, the last time I heard.

Apparently Furlough didn't get that memo.

Throughout the briefing, the question wasn't about whether significant climate change is underway, but what the United States is going to do about it. If one didn't know this was a U.S. briefing, one could have mistaken it for one from the European Union -- with one major difference: The U.S. programs outlined during the briefing hold significant promise of reducing carbon emissions, improving energy efficiency and reducing pollutants. These all are important benefits even if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are not causing significant and negative climate change.

Jan Lewandrowski of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Global Change Program Office detailed U.S. efforts to reduce deforestation in Africa, noting that between 20 and 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from deforestation. He outlined U.S. programs to address everything from economic development to teaching sound forest governanance to monitoring forests.

"Our approach tries to harness the power of markets by strengthening the legal, commercial logging sectors, said Lewandroski. "These need to be transparent in how they work."

One way the U.S. is helping provide transparency in the forestry sector is through its remote sensing program to monitor logging activity.

Through this program, illegal logging in the Virunga National Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was detected, permitting the government of the Congo to put a stop to it.

Susan Wickwin of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency detailed the agency's programs to promote clean energy in Africa, including replacing traditional cooking methods (fire) with clean fuel stoves. In a continent where the vast majority of food is cooked with solid fuels, the success of this program could reduce carbon emissions significantly. A switch to clean-fuel stoves has other benefits, too, including improving indoor air quality.

Unlike the EU's emissions trading scheme, which EU officials described today as financial instruments designed to permit efficient reductions in emissions, these U.S. efforts provide significant benefits to the developing world. They'll produce tangible benefits even if human-caused emissions are ultimately determined to have only a small influence on the climate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:20 AM

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kofi Annan Apparently Uncertain About Global Warming

Another report from David Ridenour at the COP-12 U.N. global warming conference in Nairobi:
There are signs that even Secretary General Kofi Annan may have some doubts about the certainty of global warming.

This morning he delivered a fiery speech at the U.N. Conference on global warming in Nairobi (known as COP-12) in which he outlined a bleak future for the world if it doesn’t act immediately to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"Climate change is not just an environmental issue... It is an all-encompassing threat," said Annan. "Billion-dollar weather-related calamities. The destruction of vital ecosystems such as forests and coral reefs. Water supplies disappearing or tainted by salt-water intrusion... All this and more lies ahead."

Annan’s speech was widely reported in the international press.

What wasn't widely reported in the press is that Annan also said this...

"This is not science fiction. These are plausible scenarios."

Plausible scenarios? Plausible scenarios? The entire world is being asked to take immediate, economically-devastating energy-use reductions for for something that’s merely plausible?

Annan's statement certainly suggests that Annan isn't certain the scary scenarios he outlined will happen.

Could it be that he's being swayed by the skeptics he so laments?

All I can say is: Walk toward the light, Kofi, walk toward the light.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:02 PM

Sell the Tiger to Save It Conference

Ryan Balis attended the Competitive Enterprise Institute's "Sell the Tiger to Save It: A Private Conservation Proposal" conference today, and has filed a report for the blog:
How can private property rights, free markets and market incentives be used to save tigers? This was the topic of a spirited debate, "Sell the Tiger to Save It," hosted at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Providing opposing viewpoints were Barun Mitra, Director of the free market Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India, and Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

R.J. Smith, senior fellow here at the National Center (and an adjunct scholar in environmental policy at CEI), provided introductory remarks. Smith warned that business-as-usual regulatory efforts to preserve species are ineffective.
Wild things and wild places, particularly in habit, are vanishing everywhere. And simply passing laws and telling people they can't use things or they can't touch things or they have to be pushed off their land to make room for wildlife, as far as I can see, is not working. It has been a failure and probably doomed to be a failure as [human] population continues to grow.
Picking up on Smith's remarks, Barun Mitra stressed that the market can be a tremendous tool for conservation: "One of the issues that has been particular to my heart is how to use the power of the market, economic power, to harness economic growth for conservation."

Government regulations that nationalize all natural resources and prohibit the trade of protected tigers, do nothing to provide conservation incentives, argued Mitra. Instead of continuing this "socialist paradigm," Mitra calls for private methods, an economic trigger, to truly benefit the tiger.

"We need to figure out a way to provide economic incentives for all the community and the people who live around it," said Mitra. Private breeding farms that respect property rights recognize the supply and demand incentives necessary for the local population to preserve wildlife.

Grace Ge Gabriel, a native of China, responded that "selling out the tiger won't save it." Representing a coalition of wildlife conservation organizations, Gabriel argued that Mitra's and Smith's private conservation proposal is "a trade proposal; it is not a conservation proposal."

Gabriel argued the reality is tigers are in great danger, despite international conservation conventions that ban the trade of tigers and their parts. "The South China Tiger is believed to have become virtually extinct in the wild," said Gabriel.

Gabriel disputed that economics would help to save the tiger, citing the relatively high cost of $3,000 to $10,000 per tiger to maintain a private tiger breeding facility. Said Gabriel:
No amount of tiger farming can bring the price of tiger parts down to a level that renders poaching unprofitable. In short, tiger farming will do nothing to curb the incentives to poach. In fact, legalizing the trade of tiger parts from farmed tigers would more than likely stimulate market demand from old consumers who formerly were reluctant to buy illegal products and recruit new consumers...resulting in more poaching of wild tigers.
Gabriel also questioned whether the economic incentives of private farms actually benefit tigers. "The tigers bred in captivity can not ever be released back into the wild," argued Gabriel. Citing work from the China Academy of Science, Gabriel said, "Farming aims to produce maximum amount of product by breeding as much as possible, breeding continuously and breeding preferentially from animals that are high yielders."

As a consequence, Gabriel argued, "Farm breeding deliberately aims to narrow the gene pool, while the [purpose of] conservation breeding is to conserve it. Hence, any kind of population farmed for generations is genetically compromised and severely handicapped for wild survival."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:57 PM

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

COP-12 Report: Fear From Crime Trumps Fear from Climate Change

Husband David has another report from the COP-12 U.N. global warming conference in Nairobi:
The risk from crime is apparently more palpable to environmentalists than the risks of catastrophic climate change from inaction, as thousands of global warming activists stayed away from the COP-12 conference, apparently due to security concerns.

Nairobi's crime rate -- particularly theft -- is high and the U.N. and the U.S. State Department advises against walking the streets at night, particularly alone.

In contrast with the COP-11 meeting, which was held in Montreal, there have been no lines to enter the U.N.'s Nairobi facility. There have been no theatrics by the Greens inside the facility during our time here, such as activists in polar bear suits. Perhaps this is a reflection of lower turnout or beefed up security.

Perhaps a even more significant sign that attendance is way down.

Green activists normally outnumber conservatives by 500-to-one or more at these events, though conservative participation is off a bit, too. So it was a surprising that a conservative not only found fellow conservative Craig Rucker's lost conference credentials but managed to track him down without going more than a few feet from where he'd been sitting.

Normally, its possible to attend these meetings and not even know that some kindred spirits are even attending because so many people are in attendance. Not so this time.

Rucker, by the way, is with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the group with which The National Center has partnered to distribute Kyoto Protocol Survival Kits.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:02 PM

Tidbits from Blogs I Read Often

Bizzyblog, citing Willisms, notes that the top ten percent of taxpayers are paying 65.7 percent of the personal federal income tax paid since Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; before Bush's tax cuts, they paid 63.6 percent. (By the way, having $111,528 or more as the bottom line on your (or your family's) personal tax return is enough to qualify you for the top ten percent.)

The Other Club, with a hat tip to Claudia Rosett, suggests sending an e-mail to President Bush to offer a contribution to pay John Bolton's salary, should the President make a second recess appointment (which would require Bolton to serve as U.N. Ambassador without pay). I'm in.

Don Surber says he no more believes in man's ability to destroy the Earth via global warming than he does in the Tooth Fairy. But, he adds, "I respect the right of those who worship at the altar of Global Warming. It is a religion of peace." And he can't help snickering at this Los Angeles Times report: "...the film and television industry emits a whopping 140,000 tons a year of ozone and diesel particulate pollutant emissions from trucks, generators, special effects earthquakes and fires, demolition of sets with dynamite and other sources." I guess driving a Prius to the Oscars doesn't cut it anymore.

Climate Audit has a sleek new look.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:57 PM

Peer-Reviewed?

Rajendra K. Pachauri, the head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says of those who disagree either that mankind is causing potentially catastophic global warming and/or with the big-government solutions proposed by global warming theory advocates:
The shrillness of these skeptics and their numbers have been on the decline.
Can he prove that, or are we to take it on faith?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:41 PM

Monday, November 13, 2006

COP-12 Report: Environmentalists in Nairobi Issue Dire Predictions of Drought Even as Rain Falls on Conference

Husband David, head of the National Center's NGO delegation to the COP-12 U.N. global warming conference in Nairobi, files his first COP-12 conference report for the blog:
We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday to heavy rains. On Sunday, it rained at Lake Nakuru National Park -- a wildlife park we visited located some 140 kilometers northwest of the city -- almost the entire time we were there. On Monday, as the U.N.'s Climate Change Conference (known as COP-12) got underway after the weekend break, there were morning and evening showers.

That didn't stop intrepid environmentalists from sticking with the theme in a number of their events that climate change is increasing drought across Africa, including Kenya. The bad timing was reminiscent of the time Albert Gore held a press conference on global warming at the very time the Northeastern United States was experiencing a major blizzard.

One of the events on the effects of climate change in developing countries was sponsored by the Hadley Centre, which is funded by the British government and the United Nations Development Programme. Although this means the Hadley Center receives almost all of its funding from sources advocating sharp controls on greenhouse gas emissions, I won't expect to hear Britain's Royal Society or Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller to decry the Hadley Centre's credibility anytime soon.

Vicky Pope, head of the Hadley Centre's Climate Prediction Program, offered some very scary scenarios for Africa and the rest of the world. Using the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which uses temperature data (to estimate evaporation) and rainfall data to determine drought severity (as opposed to measuring soil moisture), her Centre has found that incidence of drought has increased sharply since the 1980s. Moderate droughts, says Pope, affected 10-15 percent of the landmass in the 1980s, but today they affect closer to 25 percent of the land. By 2100, the Hadley Centre projects that this figure will double to 50 percent. What's more, Pope says, this climate change-induced drought will result in a "profound injustice" by hitting poor nations the hardest.

To underscore this point, Pope showed a series of color-coded world maps -- one for the period 1950-1969, one for 1970-1989 and one for 1990 to today -- which show significant and increasing drought in Africa, South America and parts of Asia but negligible drought in North America and Western Europe.

The starting point for these maps struck me as peculiar. North America experienced severe drought in the 1930s and, if memory serves (I don't have access to research materials here in Nairobi), 1936 still has the record for being North America's hottest year in the 20th Century. Including this information, of course, would significantly undercut Pope's argument that drought disproportionately harms the developing world. Perhaps it even undermines her assertion that drought and temperature increases coincide.

When I asked her why this information wasn't included, Pope said it wasn't included because their objective was to provide a global drought picture and reliable temperature readings were not uniformly available before 1950.

I'm skeptical. Reliable data isn't uniformly available now. According to recent press reports, one-quarter of the surface climate monitoring stations in southern and eastern Africa no longer function, with much of those remaining operating below specifications.

It would be interesting to know how the Hadley Centre determines what data is reliable and what is not.

A lesson from the Hadley Center's presentation -- one journalists in particular should heed: Beware of cherry-picked data.

As important as the validity of a study is a clear understanding of what it truly is measuring.
More tomorrow.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 PM

COP-12: Surviving the Carbon-Neutral Life

In honor of the Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year, I introduce to you the latest in tools for a carbon neutral lifestyle: the Kyoto Survival Kit.

Kyoto Survival Kit Photo
As an accredited United Nations NGO (yep, really), The National Center is distributing these items (go here to see a close-up of each item) at the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change currently taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.

In non-bureaucratese, that's the U.N.'s COP-12 global warming conference.

Our intention in distributing these items is to remind the delegates that many things we in the first world take for granted -- such as the ability to fly to international conferences and make phone calls home while there -- require the use of energy.

Our press release provides more detail:
UN Global Warming Treaty Restrictions Would Spread Misery and Poverty in Africa, Policy Groups Say

Groups Distribute "Kyoto Protocol Survival Kits" at United Nations Global Warming Conference


Nairobi, Kenya - Citing the harm the United Nations' global warming treaty brings to developing nations, The National Center for Public Policy Research and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) are distributing "Kyoto Protocol Survival Kits" containing items that symbolize life in an energy-restricted world at the United Nations Global Warming Conference in Nairobi.

The kits contain several examples of technologies that, while impractical, would be considered "Kyoto-friendly" because they produce minimal greenhouse gas emissions. The kit items include:
- A balsa wood airplane that represents "Kyoto Airlines;"
- A pack of bandages that represents "Kyoto Health Care;"
- A hand fan that represents "Kyoto Air Conditioning;"
- Two cups connected by string that represents "Kyoto Communications" ("Now you know what strings are attached.")
- Instructions on how to build a fire with a handmade bow and drill that represents "Kyoto Heating and Cooking;"
Despite ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union is on track to miss its Kyoto emissions reduction target of eight percent below 1990 levels by 2012. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the CO2 emissions for the 15 original member nations of the EU increased an average of nine percent between 2000 and 2004. By comparison, the United States, which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, saw its CO2 emissions increase only 1.7 percent during the same time period.

Even if the EU and industrialized nations of the world met their Kyoto targets, the treaty would have little impact on reducing worldwide CO2 emissions because it exempts developing nations from making emissions cuts. This includes India and China, nations that increased their CO2 emissions 11.2 percent and 55 percent, respectively, between 2000 and 2004. According to the EIA, CO2 emissions from developing Asian countries will surpass those from North America by about 21 percent by 2010.

Thus, developing nations would have to eventually bear the burden of Kyoto-style controls if a worldwide reduction in emissions is to be achieved. Such controls would be economically devastating, and could prevent impoverished nations from achieving the necessary progress they need to sustain themselves and the lives of their citizens.

This is underscored by a recent report authored by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern: "In future...international carbon finance flows will be required to support cost-effective emissions reductions...[and] will require a major increase in the level of ambition of tradition schemes such as the EU [Emissions Trading Scheme]...These flows will be crucial in accelerating private investment and national government action in developing countries."

"The Kyoto protocol is a shell game that the developing world is bound to lose," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center. "Carbon dioxide emissions are necessary for industrial, medical and technological advancement. The EU knows this, which is why it is failing to meet its targets. Once developing nations are brought into the Kyoto compact, the EU will continue to use its wealth to purchase more and more emissions credits. This will allow Europeans to continue to live the lifestyles to which they are accustomed while condemning the developing world to a future of hardship and poverty."

For example, only about five percent of Malawi has electricity. Other nations like Kenya, Mozambique and Namibia are also struggling to provide adequate electricity to their civilian populations. In total, only some ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa has electricity, which is why it is imperative these nations forge ahead with increased electricity production by any means possible, including the use of fossil fuels, and why the Kyoto Protocol is not in their long-term economic interests.

"People in Africa and developing nations deserve the opportunity to create better, healthier lives for themselves and future generations," said CFACT advisor Pastor Abdul Sesay, a native of Sierra Leone. "Sadly, it seems Kyoto Protocol supporters are willing to support a treaty which would deny them a basic necessity like affordable electricity. How many more must go hungry and die before Western leaders understand that this is not a political game?"

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC and founded in 1982. Media may obtain a free Kyoto Protocol Survival Kit on a first-come, first-served basis by contacting The National Center at (202) 543-4110. A photo of the Kyoto Protocol Survival Kits can be viewed at www.nationalcenter.org/KyotoSurvivalKit.html.

CFACT is a non-profit public interest organization, also based in Washington, D.C., that promotes market-based and technological solutions to issues relating to environment and development (www.cfact.org).

###
For more information, contact husband David at the U.N.'s COP-12 conference in Nairobi at [email protected] (e-mail address good only until 11/20/06).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

Don't Worry, Mr. Minister, It Doesn't Much Matter

Britain's climate change czar doesn't ride the bus.

From Britain's Daily Mail:
Environment Secretary David Miliband has been accused of double standards after being forced to admit that while telling motorists to switch to public transport to stop global warming, he never uses the bus in his ministerial travels.

Not once in six months as Labour's green tsar - responsible for tackling climate change - has he used the bus, the London Underground, a tram or even a light railway on his duties.

Mr Miliband claimed he walks so fast he can get around London more quickly on his feet than on a bus - though he is known to appreciate the comfort and convenience of his chauffeur-driven Whitehall car.

The embarrassing confession is in stark contrast to a secret memo, leaked to The Mail on Sunday last month, in which Mr Miliband called for huge tax rises to force people to give up their cars and travel on public transport to save the planet..."
I sympathize with the fellow -- cars do tend to be more convenient than public transportation.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:36 PM

Bothered by Borat

Moral of the story?

Don't sign a release form unless you know what you are getting into.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:34 PM

Environmentalists Run from Their Own Issues

Some environmental groups are claiming House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) lost his bid for re-election because he fought to improve the Endangered Species Act (not that they phrase it that way, but that's what he was doing), and because of his other work on environmental issues.

Husband David has a different view:
Greens Defeat Pombo By Running Away From Green Issues

Statement of National Center Vice President David Ridenour on Claims that House Resources Committee Richard Pombo Was Defeated for Relection Because of His Stance on Environmental Issues


There's a line between political spin and outright deception.

Environmental organizations crossed over that line in their post-election analysis of House Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo's re-election defeat.

Defenders of Wildlife and the League of Conservation Voters, among other environmental groups, want people to believe that Mr. Pombo's defeat was a referendum on his environmental record.

As a Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen noted in a press statement, "Pombo's defeat... serves as notice that extreme anti-environmental positions can be an extreme liability on the campaign trail."

But Mr. Pombo's environmental record wasn't discussed much on the campaign trail. Although Green groups committed millions to defeating Congressman Pombo, they gave environmental policy the metaphoric equivalent of the Heisman (named after the famous Heisman Trophy pose).

While Pombo's efforts to fix the Endangered Species Act, overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act, and promote U.S. energy independence by opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to environmentally-responsible oil exploration came up during the campaign, they were largely incidental to the Greens’ efforts.

Instead of focusing on these issues, the Greens’ commercials and other campaign material focused -- largely unfairly -- on Pombo's ethics.

Those fed up with Washington scandals found in Pombo a convenient target and took their frustrations out on him.

Other incumbents -- including those who have been staunch allies of the Greens -- were swept out of office for the same reason.

Rep. Jim Leach, who received a mere 27 percent rating from the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) -- kind of the antithesis of the League of Conservation Voters -- lost re-election. So too did Lincoln Chafee (LPPV rating: 33), Nancy Johnson (LPPV rating: 36), Sue Kelly (LPPV rating: 18) and Michael Fitzpatrick (LPPV rating: 36). Are we to believe this was a referendum on their environmental positions, too?

No. Richard Pombo and these other members did not lose on environmental issues.

As for the power of environmentalists and their message...

The only way environmentalists can win is through issues other than their own. As long as that’s true, they’re not winners. They're losers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:32 PM

Inside the Beltway on Defunding the Mysteriously Anonymous Front Groups

John McCaslin's popular Inside the Beltway column takes a look today at our criticism of Senators Rockefeller and Snowe for calling on ExxonMobil to defund 29 unspecified "Climate Change Denial Front Groups":
Burning Rex

More reaction to the sharply critical letter that Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia sent recently to Rex W. Tillerson, otherwise welcoming him to his new post as chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp.

The remainder of the three-page letter, shall we say, blasted a so-called 'climate-change denial strategy carried out by and for Exxon Mobil' against global warming -- the senators accusing the oil giant of being 'the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate-change denial front groups in 2004 alone.'

The bipartisan pair went so far as to request that Mr. Tillerson 'publicly acknowledge both the reality of the climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it,' even absent scientific proof of such a cause.

Now, one prominent Washington group is stepping forward to acknowledge receiving 'modest funding from the energy sector, including from Exxon Mobil,' although the National Center for Public Policy Research says such funding has never exceeded 1 percent of annual expenditures.

And while it 'recognizes both that global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years and that anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect,' the center calls attention to competing scientific data of the causes of global warming, and therefore believes that any anthropogenic signature is 'likely to be modest.'

And who can say they aren't right?

Nicolas Copernicus, as the center points out, was condemned for suggesting that the sun, rather than the earth, was the center of our universe. Giordano Bruno, meanwhile, was persecuted and ultimately burned at the stake for arguing that space extended beyond our solar system. And William Harvey was ridiculed by leading medical authorities of his day for suggesting that the heart was the center of the body's circulatory system.

'Copernicus, Bruno and Harvey were persecuted out of fear,' it notes. 'Each ultimately was proven to be correct.'

As for Sens. Snowe and Rockefeller, the center charges they 'are engaging in persecution of their own, attempting to silence dissenting voices ... and, as such, should be condemned by Americans of all political persuasions -- both left and right.'
I really think the Senators should list the 29 "climate change denial front groups" they want defunded.

Why keep the names secret?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:23 PM

The Donald Rumsfeld I Know

Not me, but former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, writing in the November 12 Washington Post.

Gee, the picture Feith paints is nothing like the one we've seen on the news pages...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 PM

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Senators Ask ExxonMobil to Cut Funding to 29 Unspecified "Climate Change Denial Front Groups"

Apparently taking a page from Britain's Royal Society (if you missed that controversy, Prometheus has a thoughtful discussion of it here), Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympa Snowe (R-ME) are urging (pdf) ExxonMobil to stop funding organizations and individuals who disagree with Rockefeller and Snowe on global warming.

In such an atmosphere, one wonders if the new Congress will hold hearings to investigate those of us who refuse to toe the liberal line on global warming. Many of these folks believe that there is only one responsible position on global warming, and it is one that agrees not only with their position on the science, but their policy prescriptions as well. Many believe disagreeing with them is a sign of wrong-doing.

Never mind that if you put three global warming theory activists in a room, you'll get six opinions. Five minutes later, six more.

Husband (and VP) David put out a statement Friday discussing Rockefeller's and Snowe's letter:
Statement of National Center Vice President David Ridenour on the Joint Letter by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympa Snowe to ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson

Nicolas Copernicus was condemned for suggesting that the sun, rather than the earth, was the center of our universe. The Catholic Church feared such knowledge could undermine the belief that Man was God's most important creation, and ultimately, undermine Church authority.

Giordano Bruno was persecuted and ultimately burned at the stake for arguing that space extended beyond our solar system. Again, the Church feared such knowledge would undermine its teachings and authority.

William Harvey was ridiculed by leading medical authorities of his day for suggesting that the heart was the center of the body's circulatory system. His critics knew this would mean the liver had no role in blood production and feared that such knowledge could undermine accepted therapeutics of the era, including bloodletting. (After all, if the same blood re-circulated throughout the body, the old rules about the correct placement of leeches would no longer apply.)

Copernicus, Bruno and Harvey were persecuted out of fear. Each ultimately was proven to be correct.

Today Senators Olympia Snowe and John Rockefeller IV are engaging in persecution of their own, attempting to silence dissenting voices. Just what do they fear?

Perhaps they fear the solutions they prescribe will eventually be revealed to be the modern day equivalent of applying leeches.

On October 27, Senators John (Jay) Rockefeller IV and Olympia Snowe sent a letter to ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson demanding that the company cease funding for two dozen or so organizations and individuals they call a "small cadre of global climate change skeptics."

Although it is unclear which organizations Snowe and Rockefeller are seeking to defund, one thing is clear: This is an attempt to muzzle groups and individuals with whom the Senators disagree. It is an attempt to stifle free speech and, as such, should be condemned by Americans of all political persuasions - both left and right.

The Senators' letter is fundamentally inconsistent with both the process of scientific method and rational public policy formulation.

Scientific method isn't about winning popularity contests. It's also not about being with the majority opinion. It isn't supposed be determined by politics. It is about attempting to limit bias or prejudice in the results.

Unfortunately, by attempting to cut off some of the funding for those who contribute to the diversity of both the scientific and public policy debate, Senators Snowe and Rockefeller are attempting to bias the results.

They will fail, however, because funding from energy companies is not what is fueling the vigorous climate change debate.

What is fueling the debate is a genuine, sincere difference of opinion.

People of integrity will not change their views because Senators Rockefeller and Snowe or anyone else demands it. People of integrity will not change their views because their funding is threatened - or even cut off. People of integrity will not change their views because it is asserted that the "scientific debate is over." They won't even do so when they are equated with holocaust deniers.

People of integrity will only change their views when they are convinced by the evidence.

Disclosure Statement:

The National Center for Public Policy Research has received modest funding from the energy sector. Such funding has never exceeded 1% of The National Center's annual expenditures and has typically been substantially less than that - ensuring that The National Center is a truly independent voice on climate change. It does not accept government funds.

The National Center recognizes both that global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect. But The National Center also believes, based on the evidence that currently exists, that the anthropogenic signature is likely to be modest; that significant scientific uncertainty remains on the effects of any warming that may occur; and that current efforts to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emission may prove ineffective while imposing enormous burdens of the world's poor.
I note that Rockefeller and Snowe claim ExxonMobil was "the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone." Setting aside the question of the definition of "climate change denial front group" for another day, I'd be interested in seeing this list of 29 climate change groups for which ExxonMobil is the primary funder, because I think Rockefeller and Snowe are blowing smoke here. With taxpayers' dollars, no less.

Where do we go to get them defunded?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:33 PM

Has Pelosi Seen Murtha's Abscam Video?

The news that Speaker-presumptive Nancy Pelosi is backing John Murtha for House Majority Leader amazes me, given what is on this FBI undercover video from 1980's Abscam investigation.

Of course, there's a very good chance that Nancy Pelosi has never seen the video. According to David Holman at the American Spectator, the video was unavailable to public viewing for 26 years, until the American Spectator obtained the "full, original video from a source close to the Abscam investigation on the condition of anonymity" and posted it on the Internet September 29. Nancy Pelosi was probably pretty busy in October and early November.

I watched it in early October and I'm still amazed, but I won't say more; people should watch it and decide for themselves. And I sure hope Nancy Pelosi is one of them.

(Warning: The video has a lot of profanity, so I don't recommend playing it around any kids who aren't old enough to watch The Sopranos. The American Spectator has placed a transcript online here.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:12 PM

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rationing Goods and Services to Fight Global Warming?

The Guardian is running a column by Lucy Mangan today calling for worldwide rationing of consumer goods to combat global warming:
You could be forgiven for feeling slightly overwhelmed at the literally planet-sized task ahead of us. I felt the same when I started at WeightWatchers. But do you know what? In a rather pleasing illustration of the micro-to-macro principle on which the success of the green movement is predicated, it was at WeightWatchers that I came up with the solution to our climate change problems. Rationing. Worldwide rationing. It solves not only our environmental but all our social problems, too.

Everyone gets a certain amount of sugar, butter, bread and so on, perhaps on a monthly basis, perhaps annually, I don't know, I'll have to see how you all behave. Either way, obesity plummets. It falls further with the introduction of the National Hamster Wheel Turbine Draft, which will supply the necessary men and women to power the new-look National Grid.

There won't be a chicken in every pot but there will be one running around every root-beg-and-bean-growing garden, and a municipal rooster to service each one in turn. No more plastic goods are made, except for important bits of medical equipment such as lifesaving shunts and petri dishes. People carve their own replacement hips, and this keeps them happily occupied while they move up the waiting lists. And of course, instead of the petrol rationing of yore, everyone will receive a certain number of carbon credits, allowing occasional cinema entertainments, emergency car trips and mobile-phone charging. They will not be sufficient to allow the driving of 4x4s or the taking of foreign holidays because, my friends, I will be taking this opportunity to exercise a degree of long-suppressed capriciousness and target unfairly things of which I particularly disapprove...
Ms. Mangan's column may be tongue-in-cheek. On the one hand, this column is utterly consistent with, and in fact is a natural outgrowth from, the Guardian's ideology on the global warming issue.

On the other hand, another recent Mangan column argued that all celebrities should be "forcibly contracepted" (interesting English, even for a Briton) and banned by law from adopting children. So perhaps she's not meant to be taken seriously.

Interesting, though, that when one reads a Guardian column on global warming, one has a hard time determining if the paper is joking.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:30 PM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

British Foreign Secretary Compares Global Warming Theory Skeptics to Islamic Terrorists

The British Foreign Secretary has compared people who disagree with her on global warming to terrorists:
...let us deny the terrorists the historical importance they claim to themselves. They have no right to speak for the great and noble faith of Islam. This is a not a battle between civilisations but a stand-off between the whole of society on the one hand and a fairly small and particularly nasty bunch of murderers and criminals on the others.

In practical terms that means avoiding the temptation to artifically polarise debate.

I've seen it so often in the long-running debate on climate change: wheel out the resident sceptic, however unrepresentative or discredited, to generate tension and voice provocative views in the name of editorial balance.

It makes for more heated exchanges and louder headlines. But it is not the way to build a common consensus on the ground we share...
People who ar confident about their convictions and their conclusions argue the facts. The ones who don't tend to be the ones who resort to name-calling.

As the British are our allies, let us hope the lady is competent in other areas.

Hat tip: Iain Murray, writing on The Corner.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:38 PM

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

John Hancock, Mid-20th Century Pediatricians at Fault in Enron Scandal

Former Los Angeles Times National Correspondent Robert Scheer, writing in his Creator's Syndicate column, isn't happy that Jeffrey Skilling got sentenced 24 years in prison for the Enron scandal. Scheer's blaming the Bush family for what happened at Enron.

Says Scheer:
No, I'm not thrilled over Jeffrey Skilling getting 24 years in prison for his role in the Enron scandal. While he and fellow Enron honcho Kenneth Lay were clearly guilty as charged, the handling of this case by the Bush Justice Department is a functional cover-up of the Bush family's role in enabling these crimes.
Here's Scheer's reasoning:
...without the deregulation of the energy industry pushed by the first President Bush, Enron would have remained a minor company without the capacity to swindle.
How true.

Some other truths:
* Had Mr. and Mrs. Lay, Mr. and Mrs. Skilling and Mr. and Mrs. Fastow not had babies, Ken, Jeffrey and Andrew could not have led Enron. These familes literally gave birth to the scandal. Failure to acknowledge this is a functional cover-up of these families' roles, and the roles of their pediatrians, in enabling the Enron crimes.

* Had the Founding Fathers not rebelled against George III, British business laws would have applied to Enron executives. Failure to prosecute the Founding Fathers for supplying Enron defendants with what amounts to a "Get out of British Jail Free Card" is a functional cover-up of the Founding Fathers' role in enabling misdeeds at Enron. (Rebel CEO John Hancock's action in certifying the Declaration of Independence deserves special scrutiny.)

* God created Heaven and the Earth. The latter contains natural gas. Enron was formed by the merger of two natural gas companies. Failure to acknowledge to creation of the Earth as a key step in the facilitation of the Enron frauds is a functional cover-up of...
Need I say more?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:14 AM

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

The John Locke Foundation's Locker Room blog cites evidence that continental European nations are finally getting serious about economic competitiveness: They're trying to improve their relative position by getting the EU to pass legislation to force Britons to stop working harder than the continentals do.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:12 AM

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ortega Returns, and So Does Biased Coverage of Nicaragua in U.S. Media

A Newsday article by Letta Tayler, "Ortega Headed for Stunning Victory in Nicaragua," brings back old times...

...memories of 1980s media bias when it comes to U.S. coverage of Nicaragua.

For instance:
Fans [of Daniel Ortega] waved a sea of Sandista [sic] flags -- some in the traditional red-and-black stripes of Ortega's 1979 revolution that toppled the corrupt Somoza dynasty...
Somoza was toppled by a broad coalition the goals of which were subsequently hijacked by the Marxist-Leninist Ortega brothers.
During his first presidency, Ortega became a symbol of U.S. fears that a communist wildfire could sweep the Americas in the 1980s.
Ortega is more than a symbol. He's a real guy, and USSR and Cuba-funded civil wars were not a "fear" in the 1980s, but a reality. The civil war in El Salvador, for instance, really happened.
As the seventh leftist leader to win office in recent years in a Latin America increasingly at odd [sic] with U.S. dictates, Ortega's victory represents both a symbolic and a strategic blow to President George W. Bush.

Many political analysts called it a self-inflicted wound, saying United States made the Cold War dinosaur who will lead this desperately poor, banana-exporting, New York-sized nation of 5.5 million into a far more important figure that he is.
What "dictates"? Who are the "many" political analysts?

Ortega won, if it turns out he did, with apparently little more than a third of the vote and cash from Hugo Chavez. The opposition split among numerous candidates. Pretty stupid, really, but democracy is messy in its own way.

As to the U.S. making Ortega important, as a bought-and-paid-for Soviet/Cuban proxy he WAS important -- until he lost an election he agreed to in order to get the Contras demobilized -- an election he tried to steal (he failed in part because he underestimated the disgust for his regime among members of his own military forces).

Moving to the present, the article describes Ortega as someone who has "softened over the years," who "publicly preach[es] God and peace instead of Marx and God," and who wants "wants free trade with the United States." Yet Ortega's presumed victory also is described as a "a strategic blow to President George W. Bush."

If Ortega is an OK guy now, where's the blow to Bush?
But most Nicaragua experts believed that by forging close ties with Ortega, the United States could ensure he steers a moderate course.
Citation, please. Who conducted this poll or survey, and what was the criteria for inclusion as a "Nicaragua expert"? Why did the Newsday editor let a line this vague through the editing process?
Those who did remember the food lines, mandatory draft and crackdowns on political foes were reeling from Ortega's win.

"Ortega is now preaching love and love is super important," said Thelma de Quadra, a housewife in pearls and linens in affluent Las Colinas, a neighborhood of manicured lawns and elegant homes cloistered behind high walls. "But after all that hate, it's too late."
This has the ring of authenticity, since Daniel Ortega is a liar, a thief and a serial human rights abuser. Yet it is telling that in a nation full of people who remember the human rights abuses and many crimes of the Sandinista era, Newsday found a rare wealthy Nicaraguan to tell this tale and went out of its way to describe her wealth. You'd almost think Nicaragua's poor liked having their ears cut off.
The race featured colorful -- and, to some, chilling -- appearances from many past players in Nicaragua's civil war. Oliver North, the former White House aide who orchestrated the Iran-Contra scandal, came down to Nicargua [sic] to cavort with old Contra pals and compare Ortega to Hitler.
A former communist dictator is on the verge of reclaiming power and Newsday calls an appearance by Oliver North "chilling." Unbelievable.
Former President Jimmy Carter, whose presidency was marred by his acceptance of the Sandinistas during his final weeks in office, was here to help monitor the vote.
Putting Jimmy Carter in charge of detecting misdeeds by left-wing authoritarians with an even halfway slick PR operation is like putting Bill Clinton in charge of protecting chastity at a whorehouse. On paper, they appear to have skills in the relevant areas, but in practice, you would be wise not to expect much success.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:55 PM

Nicaraguan Contras Failed, Despite Winning

From "Nicaragua Balloting Said to Go Smoothly" in the Washington Post Monday edition:
But many Nicaraguans long ago lost their taste for [Daniel] Ortega, disillusioned by his government's human rights abuses, confiscation of property and bloody war against insurgents known as the contras, who were trained and funded by the United States in a failed effort to topple him.
Failed?

I could have sworn I attended Violeta Chamorro's inauguration in 1990, but perhaps I confused it with the inauguration of another female president of a Latin American country who beat a Marxist-Leninist incumbent who had been forced to call elections as part of a strategy to deal with Contra opposition.

There are so many.

Addendum: Publius Pundit has an excellent write-up of election-related events in Nicaragua with huge numbers of links, plus a photo of Jimmy Carter and Daniel Ortega gazing at one another that just begs to have captions written for it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An E-Mail from Mom in Pittsburgh

An article e-mailed from Mom in Pittsburgh:
TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Some gas station owners in Oklahoma are dropping the Venezuelan state-owned Citgo brand, saying sales have dropped significantly since the Venezuelan president criticized President Bush in a speech last month.

The president of Tulsa-based Arkansas Valley, a wholesale distributor which delivers Citgo gas to about 30 stations in Oklahoma and Missouri, said sales fell 10 percent to 15 percent after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's United Nations speech in which he referred to Bush as "the devil."
There's more.

Says Mom: "And the big wheels in Washington and California don't think middle America knows what is going on."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:05 PM

If Daniel Ortega Returns in Nicaragua, the Axis of Evil Grows

Sunday is decision day in Nicaragua, where, thanks to generous funding from Venezeula's evil nutcase Hugo Chavez, former Communist dictator and human rights abuser Daniel Ortega, is leading in presidential election polls.

If you weren't around in the 80s, or are one of those people who rooted for the U.S. in the Cold War only after it was won, Mark Klugmann, writing on NRO, explains why you should care:
...The Sandinistas, whom we fought for a decade while Reagan was president, are on the verge of returning to power in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega, their once and (perhaps) future president, appears to be on his way to a highly questionable, and lamentable, victory in the November 5 election.

The latest Zogby International poll shows Ortega in the lead with 35 percent of the vote, significantly ahead of all other contenders. Though a majority of voters are anti-Sandinista, their support is divided among several candidates.

If Ortega’s small plurality holds, that would be enough for him to win outright in the first round, the Sandinistas having pushed through a constitutional reform that allows a candidate with just 35 percent of the vote to win without a run off, if he has a five-point lead. Ortega, an authoritarian thug who in the words of then-Attorney General Ed Meese turned Nicaragua into “a terrorist country club,” giving refuge to the FMLN, the IRA, the ETA, the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof, the Tupamaros and others, is standing right on the threshold of recovering his throne...

...For some in Washington, the Nicaraguan election must look like small potatoes compared to the current crises in the Middle East and North Korea. But, in fact, it is part of the same battle and taking place on our doorstep. Ortega’s terrorist allies in Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea will be watching closely on election night. We should be, too, for the fate of Nicaragua is inextricably linked to that of rogue nations with a manifest strategic interest in controlling a key piece of continental real estate nor far from the United States.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has emerged as the Sandinistas' new best friend. It is he who sponsors their well-funded electoral machine that may propel them back into office. Chavez has been using Venezuela’s oil money most insidiously, supporting Leftist candidates for election all over Latin America, and incorporating them into worldwide anti-American front.

International revolutionary cooperation is not a new idea. During a state visit by Ortega to Pyongyang in the 1980’s, Kim Il-Sung of North Korea suggested to his guest that their nations work together to render America “powerless.” Now Ortega might be in position to reap what was sowed those many years ago, partnering with Kim Il-Sung’s heir, Kim Jong-Il, the newest member of the nuclear club.

North Korea is already at work building closer relations with the radical Left in Latin America. In September of 2005, the vice president of North Korea’s Supreme People's Assembly (and sometimes arms dealer) visited both Cuba and Venezuela. In Caracas, he called for Venezuela and North Korea to respond jointly to “American pressure and threats.” Shortly thereafter, a North Korean economic delegation arrived in Venezuela. North Korea, faced with a severe energy shortage, happens to be a leading exporter of missiles. Chavez, flush with oil, is on an arms-buying spree.

The terror connection does not end there, for the Sandinistas are also longtime friends of Iran, another of Chavez’s anti-American cohort. In 1980, even as Jimmy Carter was sending hundreds of millions in aid to the Sandinistas, the Nicaraguans were feting the Iranian foreign minister–this while Americans were still being held hostage in Iran.

In September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that he and Chavez are like “brothers.” Chavez staunchly defended the Iranian nuclear program at the U.N. General Assembly and vowed in a meeting in Havana that “[u]nder any scenario we are with you … [Venezuela] will stand together with Iran at all times and under any conditions.” That these terrorist alliances may soon have a branch office in the heart of Central America — essentially within walking distance of our undefended border – is a ghastly and terrifying proposition.

In recent days, despite the white-hot battle for control of the Congress, U.S. Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, Pete Hoekstra, Tom Tancredo and others have sent clear public warnings to Nicaraguan voters about the stakes in their election, reminding them that one of the terrorists serving a life sentence for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was found carrying five Sandinista-issued Nicaraguan passports.

Certainly, a Nicaragua that returns to tropical socialism will be a domestic disaster, as it was during the 1980’s. But a Nicaragua that opens its arms to murderous radicalism poses a threat for America and the world. Daniel Ortega is poised, once again, to place his nation’s people and territory in service to the globe’s most deadly tyrannies.

If warnings fall on deaf ears, and Ortega returns to power, it would be more than a simple repeat of history. The technology and mechanics of terrorism have advanced these twenty years, even as biological and nuclear weapons have proliferated. Moreover, a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran could be in position, with an ally so close to our porous frontier, to wreak the havoc we once thought only the Soviet Union could ever bring home.
You can read all of Mark Klugmann's NRO piece here; another article I recommend is "Back by Unpopular Demand: Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega," by Roger F. Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute for the October 8, 2006 Washington Post.

P.S. Mark Klugmann sent us copies of the correspendence between lawmakers and executive branch officials referred to above. You can download them here:
Letter One: Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman, Subcommittee, Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, October 30, 2006

Letter Two (here and here): Rep. Jack Kingston to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, November 1, 2006

Letter Three: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, October 27, 2006

Letter Four: Rep. Thomas Tancredo to the Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United States Salvador E. Stadthagen Icaza, October 30, 2006

Letter Five: Senator James Inhofe to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, November 3, 2006

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:26 AM

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ted Haggard on the Environment: No Conservative

In light of the recent scandalous allegations regarding evangelical leader Rev. Ted Haggard, many news outlets have been referring to Haggard as a "conservative." Only a small number are mentioning that Haggard also sees himself as a global warming activist -- and definitely not one of the "skeptic" variety.

Some leftie activists seem to be delighted at the prospect of Haggard's possible professional suicide, but liberals promoting the global warming theory know better. Temporarily at least, they've lost a major -- and perhaps irreplaceable -- ally.

I've collected a few citations for the benefit of those who were unaware of the direction of Rev. Haggard's environmental activism:
Colorado Springs Independent, April 21, 2005:
...Currently president of the NAE, Haggard recently surprised the media and the environmental movement by announcing that evangelical leaders are committed to spreading the word that protecting the environment is a profound religious responsibility and that environmental issues, including global warming and climate change, will be at the forefront of the organization's agenda."

On Sunday, April 10, the New York Times Sunday Magazine featured an interview with Richard Cizik of Washington, D.C., Haggard's colleague on the NAE board; in it, Cizik affirmed the association's newly adopted focus on the environment. At the same time he carefully distanced himself from the term "environmentalist."

...Still, Cizik said, the NAE's involvement represents a potential political watershed for environmental issues.

"If the evangelicals can't convince the president, then no one can," Cizik said, regarding the need for a shift in government policy.

In a subsequent Independent interview at New Life Church last week, Haggard didn't mince words.

"I've been an environmentalist all my life," he said, his trademark grin cutting through any discomfort with the issue.

"It's awkward -- I'm a conservative Republican environmentalist, which means I don't have a home."

...Haggard argues that the environmental movement needs good strategic thinking, a Karl Rove if you will, who has an agenda and can get the job done. The NAE, he says, is full of such thinkers and has never in its 60 years of existence backed a piece of national legislation that failed.

The work for the NAE, he says, is just beginning, putting lessons about the environment into church quarterlies, Sunday school lessons, the literature.

Now the message has to come from the pulpit, and the challenge is breaking down barriers of competing ideologies.

"We have 45,000 churches representing some 30 million Americans," he said. "We have to undo some of the work of the environmentalists. When we're at the pulpit and we say the word 'environmentalist,' our church members think that means liberal Democrat. When environmentalists hear the word 'evangelical,' they think conservative Republican."

Some evangelicals, says Haggard, feel that the leadership is dividing the movement with its focus on environmental issues. But in his mind, it's all about what the Gospels teach...
New York Times, March 11, 2005:
The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of 51 church denominations, said he had become passionate about global warming because of his experience scuba diving and observing the effects of rising ocean temperatures and pollution on coral reefs.

'The question is, Will evangelicals make a difference, and the answer is, The Senate thinks so,' Mr. Haggard said. 'We do represent 30 million people, and we can mobilize them if we have to.'
New York Times, Feb. 8, 2006:
Mr. Haggard, the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, said in a telephone interview... "There is no doubt about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we're doing that could potentially be causing this. In my mind there is no downside to being cautious."
Inter Press Service, February 9, 2006:
...the NAE's president, Rev. Ted Haggard, has frequently urged evangelical Christians, including his Colorado congregation, to take on global warming as a test of 'creation care,' a provision in an unprecedented statement issued in October 2004, 'For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,' that declared that the government had an obligation to 'protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation.'
The Weekly Standard, May 5, 2006:
...So [liberal evangelical activist] Jim Wallis is excited. "The Evangelical Climate Initiative is of enormous importance and could be a tipping point in the climate change debate, according to one secular environmental leader I talked to," he writes. Concern about the environment, he hopes, will lead to an evangelical embrace other issues of the Left.

All of which hopes are somewhat dampened by the National Association of Evangelicals' decision not to join the ECI. According to Wallis, Cizik and NAE president Ted Haggard, a Colorado mega-church pastor, attended environmental seminars and have experienced an "epiphany" on climate change. They were fully onboard with the issue.

That is, Wallis laments, until the "Religious Right reared its head." Twenty-two of the "Right's prominent leaders" publicly asked the NAE not to adopt a position on climate change. "Global Warming is not a consensus issue," warned conservatives, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land.
I've never met Haggard, but I'd be lying if I claimed his activism on global warming as head of the influential NAE, which seemed ill-thought-out to us, was not discussed here with concern.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 PM

Friday, November 03, 2006

Some Call It 'Mind-Boggling Stupid'; Science Calls it 'Peer-Reviewed'

The peer-reviewed (pause to geneflect) Science magazine says the world is going to run out of fish.

As reported in the Seattle Times:
Global fishing trends point to a collapse of most wild seafood harvests by midcentury, according to a team of international researchers who pored through historical data, catch records and studies to document the decline of marine species all over the world.

The researchers found that harvests of nearly 30 percent of commercial seafood species already have collapsed. Without major changes in fisheries management, they say, the trend will accelerate.

"It looks grim, and the projections into the future are even grimmer," said Boris Worm, a marine biologist and a lead author in the peer-reviewed study, which was published today in the journal Science...
But the Seattle Times continues...
"It's just mind-boggling stupid," said Ray Hilborn, a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

"I'm worried about some areas of the world -- like Africa -- but other areas of the world have figured out how to do effective fishery management."
It seems those of us who don't believe CO2 emissions will put the Washington Mall underwater by the end of the century aren't the only ones who take "peer-review" with a grain of salt.

P.S. Also check out the Seattle Times story for this little tidbit:
In a note to colleagues that was mistakenly sent to The Seattle Times, [study leader author Boris] Worm wrote that the projection [that fisheries will collapse] could act as a "news hook to get people's attention."
Reminds me of global warming activist Stephen Schneider's semi-famous quote: "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

The line between science and PR gets blurrier all the time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 PM

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Daschle Wrong on Health Care

From David Hogberg:
The Missoulian reports on a visit by former Senator Tom Daschle to Missoula:
Daschle had come to town as part of his "Naked Truth" campaign to raise awareness about America's health care crisis.
And what is that "naked truth"?
Let's destroy the myths," he said. It's a myth that the nation's health care system is the best in the world, he said.

"That couldn't be farther from the truth," Daschle said.

He rattled off some dire statistics. The United States ranks 28th in outcomes, 37th in infant mortality and 45th in life expectancy, as measured by the World Health Organization, he said.
So, I responded with a letter to the editor, but the Missoulian never published it:
Former Senator Tom Daschle is wrong. ("Former U.S. senator looking to raise health care awareness," October 12.) America does have the best health care system in the world.

Cancer data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the U.S. has the highest cure rate for breast and prostate cancer. An article in the British Journal of Surgery found that the mortality rate for patients in British hospitals after major surgery was four times higher than in American hospitals. A recent article in the journal Circulation showed that the 5-year post hear attack mortality rate was higher in Canada than it was in America. That was due to the fact that America does more angioplasties and bypass surgeries. Since we do more of those procedures than any other country as well, the U.S. is probably the best place to be for a heart attack.

Daschle claims we are not the best by relying on measures like life expectancy and infant mortality, measures that tell us next to nothing about the quality of a health care system. Research shows that life expectancy is determined by factors such as gross domestic product per capita, literacy, diet and sanitation. Factors such as health care spending or doctors per capita have no effect. Infant mortality is measured too inconsistently across nations to be a meaningful measure. For instance, France excludes any infant born before 26 weeks, while Switzerland excludes an infant measuring less than 30 centimeters. This makes their infant mortality rate look much better when compared to the U.S., which includes all infants that show any sign of life.

Before Daschle goes off on a misguided crusade to let government run our health care system, he should first know what he is talking about.

David Hogberg, Ph.D.
Senior Policy Analyst
National Center for Public Policy Research

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:47 PM

Senator Feingold Responds on Health Care

Senator Russ Feingold has responded to David Hogberg's analysis of Feingold's "State-Based Health Care Reform Act."

The Senator's letter and David's response can be found here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:49 AM

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"The Thing I Am Most Proud of In My Life is Having Served in Iraq"

Many of our long-time blog readers recall the 2004 blog entry "A Soldier Assures Us: Our Progress is Amazing," by my old friend Joe Roche, then on active duty with the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.

For those who don't recall or weren't readers back then, Joe's essay was published by over two dozen newspapers across the U.S. (one of which was linked to by Matt Drudge), read aloud on the radio by Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan and others, was linked to by 150 blogs, was quoted by President Bush in his Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention in 2004, and quoted in a Smithsonian Institution exhibit. Among other things.

Joe's essay, and others (you can read a collection here) ultimately were cited or republished by at least 286 blogs (I quit counting). His words led to the collection of care packages for the 1st AD, a call publicized by numerous bloggers and talk show hosts. A standout among the latter was Kirby Wilbur on Seattle's KVI, who so inspired his listeners that three businesses in the Seattle area set up week-long "drop-offs" where Seattle residents could drop off gifts for the troops, to be packaged and mailed to Iraq at the businesses' expense. Another notable reaction came from a major U.S. food manufacturer, which shipped many hundreds of pounds of cookies and powdered drink mix (prized because soldiers in full gear must drink a gallon or more of liquid per day) to the troops, despite logistical challenges.

Joe wrote me again today after hearing Senator John Kerry's controversial comments ("Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard and do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."). He gave me permission to share his thoughts:
I can't believe that Democratic Senator John Kerry said that Americans without education get stuck in Iraq. I graduated from college, did well and even was invited into and attended graduate-level pro-seminars. My bachelor's degree is in three subjects: history, international relations and political science. I was also active in many college activities and groups.

I specifically joined the US Army at age 34, leaving behind a very comfortable life and job in Minneapolis, because I wanted to serve in Iraq. I left my fiancee' behind and took a huge pay cut in doing this. Further, I turned down the option of becoming an officer specifically because that would have kept me from going to Iraq right away. (I am a combat engineer, and an officer's first year of duty in that field is in Korea.) I made clear throughout my enlistment that I wanted to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Further, I was surrounded by well-educated soldiers in Iraq. One was so expert in history, politics and international relations that we often would engage in long discussions about deep issues while on patrol in Baghdad.

I wonder if Sen. Kerry even realizes that there are all those West Point graduates serving in Iraq.

Now that I'm completing my active duty military service, I have to tell you that the thing I am most proud of in my life is having served in Iraq. Were I younger and more fit, I would do it again.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:46 AM

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