June 2008

Invasive Ethanol

by William Yeatman on June 30, 2008

We know that corn ethanol is causing catastrophic problems world-wide.


Just this week, Keith Collins, the former chief economist of the Department of Agriculture said that in the next 2-3 years, increases in retail food prices are estimated to be up to one-quarter to one-third higher than the normal increase in food prices because of corn-based ethanol. His report also states, “a mathematical simulation was used to estimate that about 60 percent of the increase in corn prices from 2006 to 2008 may be due to the increase in corn used in ethanol.”


And Oxfam, an international aid agency, reports that the replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty.

“But now, biologists and botanists are warning that (plants grown to make cellulosic ethanol), too, may bring serious unintended consequences. Most of these newer crops are what scientists label invasive species — that is, weeds — that have an extraordinarily high potential to escape biofuel plantations, overrun adjacent farms and natural land, and create economic and ecological havoc in the process,” according to the New York Times.

Already, “it is estimated that the damage from invasive species costs the world more than $1.4 trillion annually – five percent of the global economy. The US alone spends $120 billion annually on the control and impacts of more than 800 invasive species infestations.”


The $1.4 trillion estimate of damages caused by invasive species is almost certainly ridiculously high, but nonetheless jatropha, switchgrass, kudzu, giant reed, and other invasive plants are what alarmist politicians have already decreed that our country use in our gasoline in the coming years.  Where were the risk assessments and the cost-benefit analyses?

The ongoing debate over global warming is as much about economics as about climate science. Climate change mitigation strategies invariably carry costs that must be considered before any policy is implemented. The climate change mitigation policies being proposed by former Vice President Al Gore and some U.S. Senators fail to take those costs into account.Unfortunately, such obliviousness to real costs dominates the climate change debate. Part of the blame for this must be placed on a series of myths that permeate the debate. The following debunks the central global warming policy myths, and proposes an alternative way forward.

The bitter arguments in the Senate this month over the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, which would have required major emitters to pay for the right to discharge greenhouse gases, proved that climate change caused by humans has come to the fore of U.S. policy debates. This fact may comfort those who believe that future generations will judge us on the zeal with which we face the challenge. It may even assuage the fears of those who believe that warming will end life as we know it. But political rhetoric is unlikely to put us on a path toward solving the problem of climate change in the best possible way.

The world's emissions of the main planet-warming gas carbon dioxide will rise over 50 percent to more than 42 billion tonnes per year from 2005 to 2030 as China leads a rise in burning coal, the U.S. government forecast on Wednesday.

I seem to remember from statistics class that anything less than 95 percent probability is junk science. This is an editorial from the most recent issue of GEO, a Norwegian magazine about earth sciences.

"it is useful to remember that the IPCC concludes that there is only a 90% chance of a connection between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels. In other words, there is a 10% chance – which I consider significant – that there is no connection between the two."

In honor of the 33rd International Geological Congress being held in Oslo this summer, GEO's 04/08 issue is published in English, so the editorial is legible for people other than the maybe 5 million that speak Norwegian.

Don’t get me wrong, the world owes plenty to Europe. It’s given the world great art, architecture, literature, and music. It’s also given the world the ideas of universal education, the scientific method, research institutions, property rights, rule of law, democracy, religious freedom, and freedom of thought and expression, among other things. These ideas and institutions coalesced to power the engine of progress that drives the economic and technological development that have improved human well-being — not only in Europe but elsewhere — to levels far beyond what our ancestors could have imagined. Consequently, today we live longer, healthier, more educated, freer, and wealthier than ever before. But for the past century, Europe seems determined to undo all the good it’s ever done.

First there were the thought police, then the surveillance society, now Britons fear the carbon cops are coming to ensure compliance with climate change legislation, a survey showed on Wednesday.

G8 rich nations and major emerging economies probably won't achieve a big breakthrough in talks on global warming in Japan next month, Britain's climate envoy said on Thursday, echoing other forecasts for modest progress at best.

When George Terrazas was mugged at gunpoint in this Mexican border city several months ago, he vowed never to return.

GOP Going for Green

by William Yeatman on June 26, 2008

in Blog

Senate Republicans aim to undercut Democrats’ claim to be the environmentally conscious party by combining their own conservation message with a longstanding push for more oil drilling.