Matt Patterson

Fretting about rising sea levels is a hallowed past-time amongst global warming types.  Al Gore and Co. regularly ride through the public square yelling “The ice sheets are melting! The ice sheets are melting!”

Indeed the threat of catastrophic sea level rise due to the melting of polar ice has been one of the prime scare tactics in the alarmists’ arsenal, even if they have occasionally stooped to exaggerating the dangers.  National Public Radio Science Correspondent Richard Harris once lamented this fudging of the truth in an interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne

“Gore said that Arctic ice could be gone entirely in 34 years, and he made it seem like a really precise prediction. There are certainly scary predictions about what’s going to happen to Arctic sea ice in the summertime, but no one can say ‘34 years.’ That just implies a degree of certainty that’s not there. And that made a few scientists a bit uncomfortable to hear him making it sound so precise.”

Harris went on to question some of the outrageous claims made in Gore’s scarumentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“…in [Gore’s] documentary he talks about what the world will look like – Florida and New York – when the sea level rises by 20 feet. But he deftly avoids mentioning the time frame for which that might happen. When you look at the forecast of sea-level rise, no one’s expecting 20 feet of sea-level rise in the next couple of centuries, at least. So that’s another thing that makes scientists a little bit uneasy; true, we have to be worried about global sea-level rise, but it’s probably not going to happen as fast as Gore implies in his movie.”

No kidding.  But Gore’s over-zealous estimations aside, Harris thinks we should still worry about melting ice and its concomitant rise in sea levels.  And we–as in, we the people–are of course to blame with our dirty, carbon-spewing life style.

Warmists are therefore desperate to preserve the polar ice exactly as they are–or rather, exactly as they think they should be.  But this attitude takes for granted the notion that the ice caps are a permanent and unchanging feature of this planet.

Not true.

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Post image for Iron Man: Capitalist Hero

In the new movie The Avengers (which is excellent: see my review for National Review Online here), Iron man’s alter-ego Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) perfects a renewable, clean energy source, and uses it to light up his company’s new Manhattan skyscraper.

In spite of this green street-cred, Stark is a hero designed—literally—to drive liberals crazy.  Stan Lee, who co-created Iron Man in the 1960′s, has often reminisced to interviewers about his motives for creating Stark.  After helping to create a string of popular heroes for Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Lee had decided to give himself a challenge, and asked himself:  Who do young people (read: liberals) hate?  The military, Lee thought right away (it was the 60′s, after all), and the wealthy.  So for his next hero, Lee decided to create a millionaire industrialist who made weapons for the army, and then make him likable.  Iron Man was born.

Now, Filmmakers who have brought Tony Stark to the big screen in a string of recent blockbusters—Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012)—have made him even more unpalatable to liberals.  After all, what other super-hero is regularly shown blasting terrorists out of their caves in Afghanistan, or working side-by-side with the United States Military?

Imagine how queasy greens must feel to see that this arch-capitalist be the one to invent renewable energy in the Marvel universe.  And worse, he didn’t do it for the good of Mankind.  He did for entirely selfish reasons, indeed, the most selfish reason:  He built the first, miniature version of his energy source in the first Iron Man film in order to power his wounded heart, which had been shredded by enemy shrapnel.
More unforgivable from the environmentalists’ perspective, however, is that Stark did all of this without a Department of Energy grant.  Unlike Solyndra, he needed no government incentives or funding.  Unlike Solyndra, he succeeded.   Now, in The Avengers, Stark uses this technology to power a gigantic monument to himself, a gleaming tower with “Stark” emblazoned in bright letters at its apex.

True, Stark and his exploits are fiction.  But can there be any doubt that, if and when an actual, viable green tech is invented, that it will be by someone like Stark, a self-reliant, independent genius, as opposed to a pasty-faced D.O.E. bureaucrat?  Can there be any doubt that it will be a capitalist, working for his or her own selfish ends, that will provide the breakthroughs that environmentalists insist the government must provide and/or subsidize?

And won’t that drive them crazy?

Post image for Eco Crowd Growing Desperate—and Dangerous

The climate scaremongers are losing the public relations battle on global warming—and it’s driving them absolutely batty.

Take eco-warrior Steve Zwick. Writing for FORBES Zwick calls on so-called “climate deniers” to be treated like war criminals:

Let’s take a page from those Tennessee firemen we heard about a few times last year—the ones who stood idly by as houses burned to the ground because their owners had refused to pay a measly $75 fee. We can apply this same logic to climate change.

We know who the active denialists are—not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay.  Let’s let their houses burn until the innocent are rescued. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands.  Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.  They broke the climate.  Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?

Notice that arguments contrary to what Zwick believes are not honest differences of opinion—they are “lies.” Those who disagree with him are not merely mistaken, they are malevolent. They are not worthy of being converted to his point of view via honest debate; they deserve only to have their homes razed.

This is fascism, pure and simple, and it is more and more a feature of environmentalist rhetoric.

The violent imagery has even seeped into the pronouncements of the eco-priests at the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently a video surfaced of EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz admitting that his agency’s philosophy is to “crucify” oil a gas companies:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:

It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

How can anyone, whether on the Left or the Right, not be chilled to the bone to hear a government official talk in such a manner about private companies and individuals?

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Obama Kills Coal

by Matt Patterson on March 29, 2012

in Blog

Post image for Obama Kills Coal

“If someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” – Candidate Barack Obama, 2008

Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

This week the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency released a new set of proposed rules designed to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.  If enacted, these rules would virtually destroy the coal industry – just as the President once promised.

Specifically, new power plants will be required to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity; current coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.  As Jordan Weissmann writes for The Atlantic, “Natural gas plants already meet this requirement. But if a utility wants to burn coal for electricity, it will need to install carbon capture technology — and that’s really expensive.”

Indeed it is, and assuming new coal plants are actually built under this regulatory behemoth, to whom do you think those new expenses will be passed on to?  That’s right – energy consumers.  Rich people will be able to pay those extra costs, though they may gripe about it.  But middle class households will see a rise in their energy bills that will put them in even greater financial distress than they already are under this abysmal “recovery.”

And as for poor and working class people, well, they will be screwed, as is almost always the case when wealthy pencil pushers hatch some brilliant plan to “save the planet.” Pencil pushers like EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who crowed, “Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy.”

Will coal-power producers try and forge ahead and stay financially viable under these new regulations?  Doubtful.   Remember, this is an industry already groaning under the weight of a slew of new regulations imposed by the Obama EPA, including other emission limits “which would require utilities to eventually upgrade old plants or build entirely new ones,” as Weissmann notes.

OK, so unlike his promises to close the terrorist detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, keep lobbyists out of the White House, oppose an individual mandate for health insurance, et cetera, ad nauseam, at least we know the President was true to his word when he promised to bankrupt an entire industry that employs many tens of thousands of Americans.

Well done.

Post image for PETA Loves Primates (Unless They’re People)

Liberals love to castigate conservatives as “anti-science.”  But when it comes to doing lasting harm to valuable, life-saving scientific research, no one can top the ultra-liberal People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Medical researchers have long relied on animal testing to advance their work, especially studies involving non-human primates.  In 2011, over 18,000 monkeys were shipped into the United States for research purposes, most of them from China.

But last year China Southern Airlines cancelled a shipment of macaques bound for Los Angeles after suffering a withering public pressure campaign from PETA.  “This was part of our larger campaign to disrupt the flow of primates to US labs,” boasted Justin Goodman, associate director of the laboratory investigations for PETA in Washington DC.  Other airlines are facing similar pressure, including Air France, the last major European line to carry research primates.

PETA says that imports are not as necessary as they used to be because Western labs already have large, breeding primate populations.  But as the prestigious scientific journal Nature reports:

Breeding the animals in the United States instead would be problematic: infrastructure and labour costs are much higher than they are in Asia, and colonies are much more likely to become the targets of animal activists. And moving the animals by sea is a non-starter because of the deleterious effects of the six-week trans-Pacific journey on the animals’ health.

Needless to say, PETA’s efforts to shut down primate importation has sent chills through the biomedical research community.  “It’s unfortunate that some airlines have chosen to capitulate to a small number of individuals with an agenda who aren’t truly representative of the general public,” says Matthew Bailey, vice-president of the National Association for Biomedical Research.

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Post image for Suck It Dry: A Modest Proposal

Environmentalists are always wringing their hands over the evils of fossil fuels, and no wonder – all these dirty and dangerous substances have done is power multiple revolutions in transportation, manufacturing, commerce and art that have lifted untold billions out of the wretched poverty that characterized most of human life for most of human history.  That is the kind of success loathed by liberals in general and enviros in particular.

Oil, especially, has earned the ire our erstwhile eco-friends, for oil above all has served as the black, gushy heart of Man’s industrial capacity.  And so this naturally-occurring substance, which bubbles up from the belly of the Earth to power our civilization, is demonized and reviled.  Never mind that without this substance, and the brave and brilliant people who find and harvest it, we would have at best a 19th century existence.  We are constantly told that oil is running out!  And that even if it isn’t running out, we shouldn’t be using it, because, you know, someday we will run out.  (Huh?)  Plus, it’s disgusting.  Plus, it’s heating the Earth.  Or something.

The problem for the enviros who evangelize on the evils of oil is simple:  Fossil fuels remain plentiful, cheap, and effective.  We are literally awash in the stuff.  And thanks to new methods of exploitation like hydro-fracking, we appear no way near running out.  So long as fossil fuels remain plentiful and efficient, they will crush so-called green technologies in any marketplace that is even remotely free.  In fact, the only possible circumstance that would actually wean us off oil is if the wells do one day finally run dry.

So I encourage my enviro friends to take a different tack – they should be encouraging oil production!  As much as possible!  The faster we suck the Earth dry, the faster we will transfer to “alternative” fuels (of course, by then, they won’t be alternative, but never mind) or revert to an agrarian existence, either of which would placate the environmentalists’ implacable heart.

What I’m saying is this – if green activists really cared about the Earth, they would ditch their Volts and solar panels and get on board with Big Oil.

I can see the banners now:  “Suck It Dry For Mother Earth!”

Post image for Kill The Owls…To Save the Owls?

Conservatives often complain that government shouldn’t be “picking winners and losers” in the market, by for instance, lavishing some politically favored and connected constituencies (solar companies, unions, et al) with subsidies that give them an advantage over competing interests.

True enough.  Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.  But that never stops the Feds from trying…and now, they have gotten into the business of pickling the winners and losers in the game of life itself.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed new measures to save the endangered Northern Spotted Owl, that bane of loggers and rodents from the Pacific Northwest.  Science Insider fills us in on the FWS’s new pro-owl/anti-owl campaign:

The proposals include designating more critical habitat, encouraging logging to prevent forest fires, and an experiment to shoot a competing owl species.

Wait, come again? What was that last part?  “An experiment to shoot competing owls.”  OK, I did read that right.

Wow.  Science Insider gives the gory details:

The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) ran into trouble in the 1980s as its old-growth forest was severely logged in Oregon and Washington. Even though destruction of its habitat slowed dramatically after the owl was placed on the endangered species list in 1990, its numbers have continued to decrease by an average of 3% a year. A major problem is competition from barred owls, which have invaded its territories.

How dare those Barred Owls out-compete rival species by being more productive and intrepid!  That’s the kind of success Obama loves to punish.  (The Administration’s attitude toward the Second Amendment appears to go something like this:  Guns are bad, unless you are 1) a Mexican drug lord or 2) an Elmer Fudd wannabe out for Barred Owl blood.  In either case, you have the Feds’ full support.)

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Greenies hate civilization.  Ergo, the Green War on our W.C.s.

Think about it:  There is no greater symbol of civilization than the toilet and its various accoutrements.  From Mohenjo-Daro to the Roman Empire, civilized life has gone hand in hand with running water and underground infrastructure to wash the refuse of humanity away from our homes and cities.  Fire may be the most widespread symbol of Man’s rise from the Serengeti to Starbucks, but the most important is the plunger.

Thus, the Greenies desire to become the commodores of our commodes, from trying to tell us to use one square of toilet paper (which may be enough if all you eat is granola, but is wholly inadequate if your diet consists of, you know, human food), to the so-called “low flush” toilets that are designed to save water but end up wasting water because you have to flush the things a million times to properly exorcise your tank.

Now, those tiger-apologists at the World Wildlife Fund have targeted toilet paper itself.  A new WWF report titled “Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats” claims that, “Americans who use Paseo or Livi brands of toilet tissue are contributing to the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest and tiger habitat,” according to the Environment News Service.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between tigers and toilet paper,” proclaims the WWF’s Linda Kramme. “We’re asking retailers, wholesalers and consumers not to buy Paseo or Livi products until APP stops clearing rainforests in Sumatra.”

Two things.  First, tigers kill people.  Regularly.  Last year in one region in Bangladesh, 53 people were attacked by tigers, with 34 killed and 19 severely injured.  In one week the tigers of this forest killed seven people. Shame on the WWF for defending these murderous beasts.

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The Great Delusion

by Matt Patterson on February 7, 2012

in Blog, Features

Post image for The Great Delusion

In 1841 a Scottish journalist named Charles Mackay published a landmark study of mass hysteria and sociopsychosis titled “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.”

Mackay painstakingly analyzed a wide variety of popular pathologies in his entertaining tome, including financial panics, medical quackery, pseudoscience like alchemy and astrology, and witch crazes.  He wanted to know why so many people choose to believe so much that is not only not true, but also potentially deadly.  His answer:

“We go out of our course to make ourselves uncomfortable; the cup of life is not bitter enough to our palate, and we distill superfluous poison to put into it, or conjure up hideous things to frighten ourselves at, which would never exist if we did not make them.”

Conjure up hideous things to frighten ourselves—I could not help but think of global warming as I was re-reading Mackay’s words.  How he would have delighted in the strange, self-flagellating notion that is anthropogenic warming.  He would have recognized it as kin to his own numerous and insidious subjects—superstition masked as science; Western guilt over having conquered the world manifesting itself as hatred for the technologies that made it possible; apocalyptic yearning in the guise of political enlightenment.

In fact, global warming is the most widespread mass hysteria in our species’ history.  The fever that these legions of warmists warn of does not grip the globe, but rather their own brains and blinkered imaginations.

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Post image for Coming Out of the Climate Change Closet

So much for consensus.

For years, climate change cultists have attempted to shut down public discourse over global warming by assuring us that “the debate is over,” that scientists are in lockstep agreement that Man is steam-frying his own planet.

That was always bunk, of course.  For one, if the scientific debate was really over, no one would have to say it.  There just wouldn’t be any debate.  No one these days goes around saying “the debate is over” about heliocentrism.  That’s because no one questions the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun – there is literally no debate.

Second, the fact that it was so often politicians and/or celebrities (or a bizarre hybrid of the two like Al Gore) intoning the “debate is over” canard, instead of actual scientists, was a major clue that something was amiss with the “consensus” claim.

(The Washington Post famously reported on Gore’s scientific acumen: “For all of Gore’s later fascination with science and technology, he often struggled academically in those subjects. The political champion of the natural world received that sophomore D in Natural Sciences 6…and then got a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118 his senior year.”)

Sadly for Gore et al, a growing number of scientists are publically expressing skepticism about anthropogenic global warming, emboldened by a flood of new data that casts doubt on the whole “climate change” paradigm (I address some of this new data in my latest piece for the Washington Examiner).

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