Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
"Pay particular attention to talk about ethanol; the feel-good sound of the corn-based fuel as opposed to its hidden costs; the diversion of corn into subsidized fuel creating a shortage that already is driving up the prices of other food products for consumers and farmers -- especially those feeding corn to pigs and chickens. Pollan also points out ingesting corn really isn't good for cattle.
In "The Omnivore's Dilemma," he makes the point that the government's 51-cents-a-gallon subsidy for ethanol has only encouraged farmers to grow more and more corn for the sake of growing more corn -- all of it requiring more fuel and fertilizer.
The new energy bill requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use by 2022, and yet an Associated Press story said only about 1,000 of the 179,000 gasoline pumps around the country offer E-85 -- an 85 percent ethanol product -- and only about 5 million vehicles can handle it. It's also more expensive than gasoline.
Yes, corn prices have risen recently for farmers, but a New York Times story from Iowa said the ethanol boom may have begun to burst; there's already a surplus; the number of ethanol plants being built exceeds usable demand."
Another cost that the article doesn't mention, at least not directly, is that the increased use of fertilizer to grow more corn has adverse effects as far away as the Gulf of Mexico where every year a zone of oxygen depleted water spanning 5,000 to 8,000 square miles develops and fish and shrimp disappear from the waters. Agricultural runoff that feeds giant algal blooms is believed to be the primary cause of this.
Big Corn is taking the taxpayers for a very expensive ride, raising the costs of what we eat, the fuel we put in our cars, depleting water supplies and it is affecting our health. Taxpayer subsidization of the huge agricultural conglomerates has got to stop. Rational markets (good old-fashioned supply and demand) should drive what farmers produce. If farmers can't make money growing corn they should stop growing corn and grow something there is a demand for.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"The National Renewable Energy Laboratory states that, “Today, 1 Btu of fossil energy consumed in producing and delivering corn ethanol results in 1.3 Btu of usable energy in your fuel tank.” Even that modest payback may be overstated. Skeptics cite the research of Cornell Uni¬versity professor David Pimentel, who estimates that it takes approximately 1.3 gal. of oil to produce a single gallon of ethanol."
So, why is the Congress so anxious to mandate the use of even more ethanol? The usual reason, of course:
"There’s a simple reason that ethanol is popular with politicians: money. Substituting corn ethanol for a large fraction of the gasoline we burn will mean sluicing gushers of cash from more populated states to politically powerful farm states. And a lot of that cash will wind up in the pockets of the big agribusinesses, like Archer Daniels Midland, that dominate ethanol processing—and whose fat checkbooks wield enormous influence in Washington. "
Washington barely bothers to pretend to hide its endemic corruption any more. Both parties are guilty. How can we change this? I would venture that scrapping the abomination that is McCain-Feingold and replacing it with mandatory publication on the internet of all donations from all sources of any size would open a lot of eyes about who is paying for the best government that money can so easily buy.
"Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world. In 2007, hundreds of people died, not from global warming, but from cold weather hazards.
Since the mid-19th century, the mean global temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius. This slight warming is not unusual, and lies well within the range of natural variation. Carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere, but the mean planetary temperature hasn't increased significantly for nearly nine years. Antarctica is getting colder. Neither the intensity nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased. The 2007 season was the third-quietest since 1966. In 2006 not a single hurricane made
landfall in the U.S."
In the face of this kind of evidence it's hard to see how the alarmist global warming crowd can continue to claim we are facing some planetary emergency. Maybe it's time for them to cool it on the fear and panic mongering. Read the whole thing.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"The study, published online this week in the International Journal of Climatology, found that while most of the models predicted that the middle and upper parts of the troposphere —1 to 6 miles above the Earth's surface — would have warmed drastically over the past 30 years, actual observations showed only a little warming, especially over tropical regions."
An abstract of the study can be found here.
Meanwhile, as our betters have jetted off to Bali for a climate change conference, now into its second week, no less a personage than the Pope is telling the Global Warmenist crowd to tone down the alarmism, "warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology."
As the Blogfather has so often said about Global Warming: "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who are telling be it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis." Although, considering how gullible they seem to be I might add a "but maybe not even then."
Saturday, December 08, 2007
"It seems to me that we've reached the point at which a facility that bans firearms, making its patrons unable to defend themselves, should be subject to lawsuit for its failure to protect them."
This was also quoted over at Samizdata. A couple of the commenters seem to have missed Glenn's point though. After initially agreeing with Glenn, commenter Alisa had second thoughts:
"Well, now I am having a second thought. He is only right if it is a governmental facility which I cannot avoid visiting without breaching the law, like a courtroom, for example. In which case I would have to sue the government - good luck with that."Joshua sort of agrees:
"I am inclined to agree. Surely we should have the right to forbid our guests bringing guns into our homes, why can't businesses forbid patrons bringing guns onto their property?"
I had to throw in my two cents worth. Here is the comment I left:
"Alisa and Joshua, I think you miss the point that Glenn Reynolds was making, and Alisa, your first reaction was the right one.
A private property owner, such as the mall owner, does of course have every right to make whatever rules they want about who may come on their property and whether they can be armed or not. Glenn's point was that if they make a rule that says you can't carry your lawful concealed weapon then they must take responsibility if you are killed or injured on their property as a result of having been deprived of your means of self defense in a case like this one.
As we have seen with these "gun-free zones" the property owner's prohibition against guns is of no concern whatsoever to the loony bent on mayhem. The law abiding were either choosing to obey the rules and leave their weapons at home, as the law-abiding are wont to do, or perhaps exercisng their prerogative to avoid the place altogether. Either way, no armed people were there other than the gunman.
Laws or private property owner's rules against carrying weapons don't prevent these incidents from happening because they are directed against the wrong people, responsible, law-abiding gun owners. All they do is ensure that these people will be unable to defend themselves should an incident occur.
There was a similar incident in a shopping mall in Utah last year in which a disaffected Bosnian muslim youth went on a shooting rampage. That mall also banned weapons. It was stopped by an off-duty policeman who had ignored the ban and shot and killed the gunman. Subsequent news reports say it was the off-duty officer and the police, but the latter arrived after the shooter had been taken down. Had the off-duty officer not ignored the ban or not been there, the death toll of innocent shoppers would have been worse. [Update: news reports I can find right now don't confirm this shooter was killed before uniformed police arrived. That is my recollection. I am pretty sure the shooter was at least pinned down by the off-duty Ogden officer, so he couldn't harm more people.]