Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The reality deniers.

Reality deniers get away with many of their fibs because we live in an age in which we have been taught that most statements of fact are really conditional, and there is always a possibility that some outrageous statement could be true or something that most people believe to be true could be false. The Obama administration manages to sell to the gullible media that their proposals to mitigate global warming by spending trillions of dollars and destroying millions of jobs over the next few decades are necessary for our survival as a species. The administration, though, admits that if the president manages to implement all of his new rules and laws, the world would only be two-tenths of 1 degree Fahrenheit cooler in a hundred years than if we did nothing. There is no real benefit to forcing all of those coal miners in West Virginia and elsewhere to lose their jobs.
When asked, reality deniers cannot tell you what the optimum amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be (currently, it is about 0.04 percent). We do know that more carbon dioxide causes plants to grow faster, and that is why they pump the gas into greenhouses. We also know that the world is getting greener. Studies have shown that world vegetation increased somewhere between 11 percent and 14 percent in the years 1982 to 2011, which means that food is more plentiful and that there is more habitat for wildlife. The southern Sahara (the Sahel) and the Amazon are getting greener, not drier (as many radical environmentalists have claimed). This is just one of the side benefits of a little more carbon dioxide. By the way, the Earth has not warmed in the past 17 years, as the reality deniers and their models claimed it would. The oceans have been rising since the end of the last ice age. About 20 years ago when better satellite technology became available, it appeared that the oceans were rising at a bit faster rate of about one foot per century, yet that rate has slowed for the last nine years.
In the coming years, we face many problems that are far more likely to kill people than global warming — unsustainable government debt and global terrorism — but the reality deniers prefer to waste resources on a potential threat a century from now than to deal with the immediate threats to our well-being.
Reality deniers seem to think we can make people wealthier just by mandating things like a high minimum wage. Such folks ignore the fact that the least skilled will not be hired at all, and prices will be higher on many goods and services, which is most painful for low-income people. The fact is the minimum wage is cruel and liberty-destroying for many people, by denying them the opportunity to work for less for various reasons, including developing job skills.
Every time I see a politician demanding that the government spend more for this or that, without cutting some other program by an equal or greater amount, I know they are reality deniers, because numerous studies show that the U.S. government (and that of most other countries) spend far more than the optimum amount for economic growth and job creation. That is, all the additional spending will only make things worse, not better.
Those who advocate higher taxes, or more regulations or more big-government bureaucracies like Veterans Affairs or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are reality deniers, because they ignore all of evidence of the last 2,500 years as to why big government makes us worse off rather than better off.
The reason the political class is so filled with reality deniers is all too many voters are also reality deniers. Out of ignorance or the inability to think beyond Stage One, they think they can get something for nothing and, hence, are willing to vote for those who promise fantasyland.
At some point, many reality deniers seem to start believing their own lies, that lying doesn’t matter or the public is too stupid to notice they are lying. The missing IRS emails are a case in point. Certainly, there is a very, very small probability that the critical emails of those who just happened to be under congressional investigation were all destroyed in a computer crash and only theirs were not backed up.


  1. A well written piece by
    Richard W. Rahn

  2. Biased bullshit. the author works at the Cato Institute. Although claiming to be non partisan they have definitively right leaning ideas. He is paid to say what he has to to promote the Cato policies.

    1. Kind of like global warming, aka climate change.

      The scientists are paid money also.

    2. But the guys at Mohunk aren't

    3. They must all have great trust funds.

      It's all just opinion.

    4. The "Follow The Money" argument is pretty specious and cuts both ways. You don't think the fossil fuel industry has about a trillion dollars at stake in the whole global warming "debate"?

    5. They certainly do.

      Here's the question.
      Implement cap and trade. End the use of coal. Close all the coal fired power plants.

      There is a cost associated with each. It isn't borne by the industry but by the American consumer. Higher prices. Lost jobs. Business easily responds to higher prices by off shoring as we have seen in the past. What will people do? Look to the government who created the mess to provide more? How can they do that with 17.5 trillion debt?

      Assume global warming is in fact true. What's the effect on the climate of cutting emission of the US in half when the rest of the world does little? Think China will respond in kind and cut their emissions in half? We all still breathe the pollution from China. Just returned from China a few months ago, it isn't pretty. The masks people wear are real even though they do no good.

      A last comment. People create pollution by their very existence. The world population continues to spiral out of control. 7 billion inhabitants soon to become 10 billion. Wouldn't the real problem be, to many people in the world? If the US had 200 billion people instead of 330 billion would we create less pollution not to mention less strain on out society? To top it off, our politicians want more immigrants in the US.

    6. I hear ya, Lou, you make some very good points, but I think we're tiptoeing around the real issue which is the finite supply of fossil fuels. In light of the population issues that you pointed out, we're gonna be forced to move away toward renewables anyway. It's inevitable.

      I read an article on Yahoo News last Monday in which BP scientists updated their estimates on the remaining global supply of oil. According to them, with our new horizontal drilling tech we have 54 years of the stuff left, up from their previous estimates.

      Now, I don't know how old you are but I'm 42. I will likely have shuffled off this mortal coil by then but my kids will still be here. By that time, the world's population will be in the 12-20 billion range. Make your own estimates on global energy demands.

      You mentioned China, and you're right. They need all the juice they can get and in any way they can get it. We (like on many other things) have surrendered leadership in solar energy tech to them. They lead the world in solar. They, along with Germany, lead the world in all renewables.

      Now they have to power a country of 1.6 billion people. No small feat and they're leading the way 'cuz they have to. We should begin now while we can take our time and plan before we're in a position of necessity like China.

      You mentioned the pollution in China. That's all coal and hydrocarbons. You're right, I have no desire to walk around my cute little suburb wearing a mask.

      While coal is plentiful, it's also really dirty. It's made of carbon, sulfur, and mercury. The waste is toxic. Ask the folks in NC by the Duke Energy dump spill. There's just no way to burn it cleanly without investing billions into tech on outmoded powerplants to clean it and even then you're still left with metric tons of toxic coal ash. The price tag makes solar panels as power supplements on individual buildings really cheap in comparison.

      Plus I'm just not buying the argument that China's not gonna pollute less so we shouldn't bother trying to either. I'm just not. Again, I don't wanna walk around having to wear one of those stupid masks.

      As far as the coal miners' jobs going away, well I think you can make that argument for any industry that's past it's heyday. What about those out of work IBM typewriter repairmen? How about those telephone line technicians? What about those companies that made magnetic video & audio cassette tapes? Sometimes it's just time to move on ...

      Besides, we can still mine coal for reduced use in the US and for export. Coal will never completely go away. I do think that the loss of jobs in the coal industry can mostly be offset by the ones gained in new power tech and infrastructure.It's happened a bunch of times during our history.

      (cont'd below)

    7. (cont'd)

      Finally, the debt. It's daunting and could very well be our undoing. I would, however, submit that a very large portion of that $17T - perhaps even a majority - is directly related to our dependency on fossil fuel, specifically oil.

      Every single military action the US has taken since the end of the Cold War was about securing/controlling a supply of oil. Let's look at our decade+ long incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan. Depending on who you read, the cost of these actions to date are somewhere in the $3.5-$8 trillion range, all of which was put on the US's credit card. We're not even done in Afghanistan and we may be going back into Iraq - and let's not forget the care for the wounded vets that the taxpayer will on the hook for for the next five decades or so.

      Please don't make the "Saddam Hussien Was A Madmam With WMD Hellbent On Destroying America" or the "We Had To Get Bin Laden" so we launched two invasions/occupation arguments. It was all about oil and that's a shit ton of debt that would not have been accrued if it were otherwise.

      Imagine if we took just a fraction of that money - say $1 trillion - that we borrowed to fuck around with our toys in the sand in the Middle East and invested it into renewables and upgrading our power grid infrastructure. Imagine where we'd be 13 years later, the possibilities ...

      This, to me, is maybe the greatest missed leadership opportunity of the Bush administration after 9/11.

      Imagine the brutal oil regimes of the ME having no real global power anymore. As it stands, if the Crown Prince of Exxonastan farts at dinner, prices at the pumps immediately go up $.34 per gallon. Imagine scary man Vladimir Putin defanged by removing most of the pull he has gained globally from Russia's ample oil and natural gas supplies.

      All the money we borrowed and the blood we spilled looks to be a waste 13 years later. All we did was destabilize the ME and we're still gonna have to invest in renewables anyway. As I mentioned before, fossil fuel supplies are finite. Not having any Oil Wars to fight will save the taxpayer a ton of money and make balancing the budget a whole lot easier.

      Finally, I know this makes many Lib's sphincters clench, but we gotta take a 2nd look at nuclear energy. I'm not crazy about the thought, but it's gotta be in the discussion for any viable energy plan moving forward. We're just gonna need the juice.

      Whew. Sorry about the WAY too long reply, Lou. I'll finish by pointing out that not once did I mention "Climate Change". I support a 3rd POV outside of the Global Warming "debate" that comes from a place of practicality rather than any emotional investment into either side.

      We, as a species in general and specifically as citizens of a country, have to move away from fossil fuels as much as is feasibly possible starting today. Not because Al Gore made a movie 7 years ago but because the stuff is dirty, getting more expensive (NG exclusion noted), and because it's going away.

      I don't want my kids/future grandkids growing up on a war-torn, steaming ball of polluted goo. I'm sure you don't either.

    8. Lou 33% of coal plants are closed or slated to be closed, many not because of regulation but voluntarily because they are outdated and no longer perform efficiently. Many are being converted to natural gas. I wrote sometime back about a project about 3 miles from here. PSNC the local Natural gas supplier built a NG compression plant that is powered by solar panels. The NG is piped to Goldsboro to the H.F. Lee generation site, a site converted from coal to Natural gas.


      As I wrote the other day, because of abuse, Duke Energy has major problems with coal ash sites, some of the most toxic by products of coal fired generation plants. They have been ordered by the state to clean them all up by 2029.


    9. In the 1st quarter of 2014 92% of new power sources in the US are renewables.


    10. Rah, Rah, Rah.
      Wind; 4.43% of total generating capacity.
      Solar:.029% of total generating capacity.

      I look forward to the closure of the 4 coal fired plants in Colorado. The are not being replaced as the PUC has not allowed a rate increase to replace the plants as they see the shutdowns as a Federal problem. Might get a little warm in the summer in a few years. A little darker in the winter. But as Hillary would say, who cares anyway, what difference does it make.

      What's a few dead birds with wind power anyway, don't need those damn eagles and falcons anyway.

    11. Hey Pfunky,
      Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Taking a few days to get back but here it is at least partially.

      The issue is strictly population. More people, more pollution. The US generates less pollution today than in 2007. That's the easy part. The hard part is without a great deal of thought, new regulations will certainly be job killers, and cot the consumer for for energy. The choice is easy, move forward with more regulations and send the economy into a tailspin or take time think it through and come up with viable solutions. Wind and solar a re transition energy sources and never be enough to power the US. We should as a country be investing in the next generation energy sources, not playing games with wind and solar the new corn ethanol.

      One of the issues that people fail to address is the grid. It's not designed to on and off transmission. SOlar provides zero energy at noght and power plants are required to back them up. The wind stops, power plants on again. At one time it took 20 minutes to fie up a power plant from an idle state to production. The pollution caused by dumping fuel to get it on line was equal to 1 month of constant running in production mode. What did we gain? Today the time frame has been reduced to 10 minutes but the pollution from the fuel dump remains.

      The issue of pollution isn't a US issue but a world issue, we all breath the same air. How to get countries like China and India engaged to make meaningful cuts is difficult as best as they are unwilling to sacrifice their economies at this time.

      I went to china in 1996 and the air was bad. One day we stayed inside as it looked like the fog rolling in in San Fran. I made another trip a few years ago the air was unbreathable and I didn't go outside for several days. Yes more people, more pollution. The problem is if we turn on the regulation monster, business will move their operations to countries with less regulation than we have today. That will generate even more pollution.

      I have a daughter 19 just finished her1st year of college. Of course she's a superstar. In any case I don't see a bright future unless she leaves the US as we continue the destructive ways and unbridled spending. You now my feelings on spending. We are still paying for World war 1 and have not paid for 1 war fought by this country. We certainly cannot afford another war anytime soon and need to put the brakes on spending so we can invest in the next generation of energy. There is just no political will to cut spending and address the problem. It isn't just the 17 trillion but the unfunded liabilities of SS, medicare, medicaid and now the new ACA.

      Nuclear energy is a regulatory disaster. Southern Co. is building 2 new reactors in Georgia and the project is 3 years behind schedule and over 2 billion in over runs so far. Not to mention since the storage facility at Yucca Mountain looks likely to never open, storage of spent fuel is a major issue.

      So we are stuck with solar and wind power for now. Neither a great solution. Wind is generally located far from major cities so transport of electricity across long distances results in loss of energy. The cost increases as the loss mounts. Same applies to solar farms. Generally the electricity is used locally and never makes it to a city or suburb. The solar on the roof top is at least usable by the homeowner but presents other grid issues not to mention the cost. So we will continue down the solar, wind ethanol path of costly energy and people will say, what happened to my job? Why have I lost ground financially as I can barely pay the bills?
      We desperately need a new viable energy source and until government gets off the back of business and partners with business this is what we will have.

  3. Lou the solution to increasing power costs: Solar panels on your house. I am reading an article right now where a couple in Austin Texas reduced their power bill from over $1000 a year to -$650. They put an array of panels on their roof, practiced good conservation methods including smart thermostats etc and actually sold 650 dollars of excess power back to the electric company. Just as Pfunky says that coal mining has become an obsolete industry, technology will also make large scale power generation of any kind obsolete in 25 years. In many places you don't even have to buy the solar panels anymore. You lease them with the assumption that the excess power goes back to the leasing company to sell. This may be the future of power companies. Leasing rooftop space from the willing to gain extra power to sell to businesses etc that can't generated enough power to meet their needs, and to store to alleviate the 5:00 power surge when everyone arrives home from work. It would be the ultimate smart grid.

  4. That would be Solar City. They install the solar on your home and sell the power to you at a slightly lower price than the utility.

    The only problem with all the wannabe electric companies on homes is no one pays for grid maintenance and upgrades. That issue ios being addressed with separate charges to the people with solar panels. Nothing is free.