Sam Kazman

Post image for Will Cherry Blossoms Get Sucked into the Polar Vortex?

DC’s cherry trees hit their official peak blossom date last Thursday, April 10th.  That’s the latest in the year that the Capital has experienced peak blossoming in over two decades.  (For you botanical historians, the last time that peak blossoming occurred this late or later was in 1993, when the event fell on April 11.)

In 2013 the blossoms were almost as late, hitting their peak on April 9.  That was a pretty dramatic change from 2012, when the date fell on March 20. This change was most disconcerting to two groups: tourists trying to plan their trips to DC in advance, and global warming alarmists who trumpeted every earlier-than-expected cherry blossom as yet further proof of global warming.  In fact, in a sizzling multi-part blog post series last year, followed by dozens of readers, we charted peak blossom dates against global warming data.  We even had graphs.  (See Adam Sandberg, Peak Bloom Is Here – DC’s Global Warming Canary Lands with Frost on its Feet, April 15, 2013.)

The past two years of unusually late blooms largely resulted from unusually cold weather.  But unusually cold weather, in the view of White House Science Advisor John Holdren, is actually yet another sign of global warming.  Holdren explained this to a freezing yet grateful nation in a two-minute video last January entitled The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes.

We suspect that Holdren’s agency, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), may now have a second video in the works in this Blame-Everything-On-Global-Warming series.  Perhaps they’ll call it Delayed Peak Blossoming Explained in 2 Minutes.

Regardless, we think Holdren’s first video is scientifically bogus, and so today we’re filing a formal Information Quality Act Correction Request with OSTP on that very issue.  Who knows—we may yet nip this video series in the bud.

Where’s Michael Mann?

by Sam Kazman on December 3, 2012

in Blog

Post image for Where’s Michael Mann?

On a visit to DC’s Cosmos Club last week, I checked out its impressive wall of photographs of club members who had won Nobel Prizes.  I was looking for one of Michael Mann, who, in his defamation complaint against CEI, refers to himself three times as a “Nobel prize recipient”.  (See, for example, page 3 of the Complaint.)

Try as I might, I simply could not find his photo.   I wonder why.  Maybe he’s not a Cosmos Club member.

(I should mention that, if you’re new to this story, there is an alternative explanation.)

…namely, milking the phrase like there’s no tomorrow. To wit, see the results below of a Google search for the terms “Scientific American” and “tipping point”:

My letter in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Cheap Gasoline and Human Rights

The notion of $2.50 gasoline would not only be a “veritable policy revolution” domestically (“Newt Is Right About Gas Prices” by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Business World, March 10), it would be a gutsy display of American exceptionalism for the rest of the world. This is not because Americans are divinely entitled to federally subsidized fuel (they’re not), but because they do have a right to gas prices that aren’t artificially jacked up by government drilling restrictions and taxes.

Americans aren’t the only ones. As booming car ownership in India and China demonstrates, automobility satisfies some pretty basic human needs and desires. Unfortunately for central planners around the world, there’s nothing worse than a technology that lets people go where they want to, when they want to. For an American leader of whatever party to take the lead in shedding gasoline’s sin-product status would be downright revolutionary.

In the early 1800s, as railroads spread across Britain, the Duke of Wellington supposedly sneered that trains would “only encourage the common people to move about needlessly.” Aristocrats could always move about; only when the rest of us were able to do so did this become a so-called problem. A decade ago our aristocrats looked down on SUVs; today they look down on affordable gas. Either way, their attitudes toward mobility are no different than the Duke’s views two centuries ago, and no less backward.

Sam Kazman
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

As my colleague Myron Ebell reported earlier this week, Joe Romm pulled out of a scheduled debate on climate policy last Friday with the Heritage Foundation’s David Kreutzer.

Given the last-minute nature of Romm’s cancellation, the host of the debate initially used a bottle of Corona Light to symbolically take Romm’s place at the podium.  I thought the beer bottle was a poor substitute, and replaced it with a plate of ice cubes.  As the photo below shows, by the end of the event the ice cubes had undergone significant melting.  There was, however, no suggestion that anthropogenic warming was the cause.  On the other hand, I’m not sure there were any climate modelers in attendance.

Post image for Is Paul Krugman Missing in Action Today?

Fitch today reconfirmed its AAA credit rating for the US.  Why isn’t Paul Krugman blasting them?

On August 5th, the day Standard & Poors issued its downgrade for the US, Krugman attacked it and its cohorts as unreliable miscreants.  In his words, “it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy?  Really?  …  In short, S&P is just making stuff up — and after the mortgage debacle, they really don’t have that right.”

But as Krugman admits, when it came to those mortgage-backed securities Fitch performed as poorly as S&P.  By Krugman’s logic, Fitch’s action today, in sticking to its AAA rating, is just as unreliable as was S&P’s downgrade last week.  So why isn’t Krugman going after Fitch as well?

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Post image for Laundry Care Labels Grab the Regulatory Limelight

Great news–the Federal Trade Commission is reexamining its textile care labeling regulation!  This is the rule, first issued in 1971, that requires those little labels in clothing that tell you “dry clean only” or “wash in cold water” or whatever else is appropriate.  Some people find certain of these labels irritating—literally irritating, that is, like when they’re made of stiff fabric that rubs against your neck.  Personally, I find them pretty handy, though I’m not sure we need a federal rule to guarantee their presence.

The FTC says its reexamination is part of its systematic review of all its regs.  It’s not clear whether the end result will be better or worse.  Right now the rule actually prohibits any reference to “professional wetcleaning” in a label (that’s the allegedly eco-friendly water-based type of commercial cleaning, as opposed to traditional solvent-based drycleaning).  Perhaps that will change.  On the other hand, the FTC is also considering whether to mandate care instructions in foreign languages.  That’s sure to make those itchy labels even itchier.

Here’s my suggestion:  any label that states that an item can be home-laundered should also state the following, “If your washing machine is a newly-manufactured conventional top-loader, don’t even bother trying to wash this or any other article of clothing.”  This would reflect the fact that, as Consumer Reports found several months ago, these washing machine models are now “often mediocre or worse.”  

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Post image for The Light Bulb Ban and Doublethink: Hats off to the American Council for Energy-Efficient Euphemisms

Quick, which one of these statements does NOT come from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four?





Tough choice?  OK—take a few more seconds.

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Post image for That Footnote in Yesterday’s Global Warming Ruling

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on carbon dioxide provided some welcome relief to those concerned that the Court might say something, deliberately or otherwise, that would buttress the claims of global warming alarmists.  The Court said no such thing.  In fact, it seemed to step back from the suggestions in its 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling that the scientific debate over anthropogenic warming had largely been settled.  Yesterday’s ruling does mention hurricanes and heat-related deaths and melting ice-caps, but only in characterizing EPA’s view of global warming, not the Court’s.  And the Court quickly distances itself from EPA’s views with an interesting footnote:

“For views opposing EPA’s, see, e.g., Dawidoff, The Civil Heretic, N. Y. Times Magazine 32 (March 29, 2009). The Court, we caution, endorses no particular view of the complicated issues related to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change.”

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Post image for Bedbugs and Bureaucrats

Bedbugs are finding their way from more and more hotels into more and more homes.  One way to get rid of them is to wash infested bedding and clothes in hot water.  Hot means at least 118 degrees F; a warm water wash of  only 104 degrees will kill only ten percent of the critters.

An extended bout of high-temperature drying is also recommended.

But with laundry machines and dryers coming under increasingly stringent federal energy efficiency regulations, sufficiently hot wash and dry cycles are becoming a thing of the past.  Many new washers have thermostatically controlled mixing valves, which adjust wash water temperatures to levels set by the manufacturer.  That high-tech feature isn’t aimed at satisfying market demand, but at meeting either the efficiency regs or the criteria for special manufacturer tax credits (yet another program to boost energy efficiency at all costs).

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