Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

18 December 2016

Environmentalist Insurance Policies by Paul Driessen

Environmentalist insurance policies

Intellectual ammo for holiday party responses to claims that you need meteorite insurance

Paul Driessen

Many liberals went into denial, outrage and riot mode after November 8. Now they’re having meltdown over President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees with climate and environmental responsibilities:

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry at Energy, Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt for EPA, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at State, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke at Interior. As Department of Agriculture secretary and multiple assistant, deputy assistant and other senior level positions are filled, the meltdown will likely raise sea levels by several feet.

It’s even worse than “white supremacists” and “Russian hackers” rigging and stealing the election. Having these people at the helm will be an “existential threat to the planet,” say meltdowners.

A typical over-the-top reaction came from an aptly named spokesperson for radical pressure groups and five-alarm climate scientists that feed at the trough of taxpayer and tax-exempt foundation funding “This is the wealthiest, most corporate, most climate-denying cabinet in history,” snorted Kiernan Suckling, director of the anti-development Center for Biological Diversity.

After eight years of anti-fossil-fuel, anti-growth, anti-job, anti-blue-collar policies – and the Left’s fervent wish for eight more years under Hillary Clinton – any Trumpian shift is bound to look that way to them.

So we’re likely to get a bellyful of bombast from like-minded (or ill-informed) office and neighborhood partygoers, especially if they’re too much imbued with holiday spirits. At the risk of offending those who do not share an NRA perspective on gun control (stance, grip, sight alignment, trigger control), here’s a little intellectual ammunition that conservatives may find helpful during those “spirited” discussions.

The United States needs to reduce taxes and regulations that have hobbled energy development and job creation – threatening to put federal bureaucrats firmly in control of our states, communities, livelihoods and living standards. However, as I noted recently, these essential, long overdue changes will come with no reduction in air, water or overall environmental quality standards that ensure our health and welfare. They will address rogue agency actions that actually impair our living standards, health and wellbeing.

Indeed, nearly all these autocratic government actions are based on some variation of the infamous “precautionary principle.” This infinitely malleable pseudo-guideline says chemicals and other technologies should be restricted or banned if there is any possibility (or accusation by radical activists) that they could be harmful, even if no cause-effect link can be proven.

Even worse, the bogus principle looks only at often-inflated risks from using chemicals, energy systems or other technologies that activists or regulators dislike – never at the risks of not using them; never at risks that could be reduced or eliminated by using them. Sustainability “guidelines” are very similar.
Just as perversely, if the Powers that Wannabe like a technology, they ignore or actively suppress any harmful impacts. For instance, since wind turbines can supposedly replace fossil fuels, they ignore bird and bat deaths, human health damage from infrasound, and the fact that essential metals are mined and processed under horrendous conditions by men, women and children in African and Asian countries.
Those environmental, health, human rights, and child labor violations are far away (literally not in their backyards), and thus can be conveniently ignored.
So can the poverty, disease, malnutrition and early death perpetrated and perpetuated by extremist groups that campaign tirelessly to shut down industries in developed nation communities – and prevent the poorest nations on Earth from gaining access to modern technologies that improve and save lives.

Eco-extremists claim they can save lives by preventing higher temperatures, rising seas, and more storms, droughts and crop failures due to “dangerous manmade climate change” decades from now. So they block fossil fuel power plants that provide reliable, affordable energy for modern homes, hospitals, schools and factories that improve health and living standards – and end up killing millions right now, year after year.

Climate change has been real throughout history. Sometimes beneficial (moderately warm, with ample rainfall), sometimes destructive (decades-long droughts or cold spells, glacial epochs with mile-thick ice sheets crushing entire continents), it is driven by solar, cosmic ray, oceanic and other powerful natural forces that humans cannot control. Carbon dioxide may play a role, but only a minor one, and rising atmospheric CO2 levels make crops, grasslands and forests grow faster and better.

The “unprecedented” manmade climate cataclysms that Al Gore and Barack Obama promised are not happening. For example, we were supposed to get more frequent, powerful and destructive storms; instead, a record 11 years have passed without one category 3-5 hurricane making landfall in the USA. 

To attack fracking and natural gas use, bureaucrats claim methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas – but won’t admit that it is 1/235th as prevalent in Earth’s atmosphere (0.00017%), and at least 1/600,000th as prevalent as water vapor (1-4%), the most important GHG.
Their “social cost of carbon” schemes assign ever-higher monetary impacts to every climate and weather problem they can possibly attribute to using carbon-based fuels – but totally ignore the enormous and undeniable benefits of utilizing oil, natural gas and coal that still provide 82% of US and global energy.

They’re convinced their anti-energy diktats will “save the planet,” by shutting down US power plants and factories, despite vastly greater emissions from China, India and a hundred other nations that are rapidly expanding their fossil fuel use, to lift billions more people out of abject poverty, disease and malnutrition.

The same anti-technology activists and bureaucrats also detest biotechnology and genetically modified crops that require less water and can battle insect predators with a tiny fraction of the insecticides required for conventional grains and vegetables. They equally despise another GM marvel, Golden Rice, which prevents Vitamin A Deficiency that blinds and kills hundreds of thousands of children every year.

Instead of applauding the reduced blindness, malnutrition, starvation and death these crops can bring, precautionary and sustainability extremists obsess about imaginary risks of eating them, allowing more millions to die unnecessarily, year after year. It’s not their kids, after all. Why should they be concerned?

The same callous, phony ethics prevail on the disease front. Eco-activists support bed nets – but not insecticide spraying to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and certainly not DDT, the most powerful, longest-lasting mosquito repellant ever invented. Sprayed once every six months on the walls of mud or cinderblock houses, DDT keeps 80% of mosquitoes from entering, irritates those that do come in, so they don’t bite, and kills any that land. 

But radical ideologues focus on trivial, irrelevant side effects that “some researchers say could be linked” to DDT use – and let 600,000 parents and children die excruciating deaths every year from malaria.

Every one of these anti-technology, “precautionary” attitudes is the environmentalist equivalent of protecting American kids from powerful chemicals, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and increased risk of illness and infection – by banning chemotherapy drugs, and just letting the little cancer patients die.

They are the equivalent of requiring you to carry a $10,000-a-year insurance policy that covers you only if you are killed by a meteorite – or by a raptor or tyrannosaur. At least meteorite risks are real, if extremely remote.

Raptors and T rexes exist only in our imaginations, special effects computers and movie theaters – much like the manmade climate chaos and other precautionary extremism that come from computer models and PR hype, and drive too many of our policies, laws and regulations.

Have fun at your holiday parties. This season promises to be even more animated than most.



Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death and other books on the environment.

15 December 2016

ObamaCare Cost Increases in 2017

The Center for Health and Economy has released a study estimating the increased costs to taxpayers through the federal government in 2017.  ObamaCare premiums will be 22% higher in 2017, but the average monthly subsidy cost will go up by 26% from $291/month to $367/month.  The subsidy percentage increase is greater since incomes are losing ground relative to the premium increase.

The study says 11.1 million people per month are on ObamaCare in 2016 and this number is expected to increase to 11.4 million a month in 2017.  Of these 9.39 million in 2016 received tax credits and 9.65 million are expected to receive tax credits in 2017.  In 2016, 84.6% of the people on ObamaCare received a tax credit subsidy.  The study expects the same percentage in 2017. Clearly if you do not qualify for the tax credit subsidy, there is little likelihood that you will buy your health insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges.

The resulting increase in federal payouts from 2016 to 2017 is $9.8 billion.  The 2016 cost of the subsidies was $32.8 billion and the expected 2017 cost will be $42.6 billion.  The federal subsidies will therefore cost 29.9% more in 2017 than in 2016.  Those states that expanded their Medicaid rolls will also see large cost increases.

As an American, your health insurance premiums will go up, your deductible will likely go up, your co-pay will likely go up, your federal government costs will definitely go up, and in many states your state government costs will go up in 2017 thanks to ObamaCare.  Obama's transformation of America leaves those of us who are not subsidized with no hope.  Does it even provide hope to those who are subsidized as peons or serfs to the state?


12 December 2016

The IPCC Reports Quickly Evaluated by Prof. Frederick Seitz

"The IPCC is pre-programmed to produce reports to support the hypotheses of anthropogenic warming and the control of greenhouse gases, as envisioned in the Global Climate Treaty. The 1990 IPCC Summary completely ignored satellite data, since they showed no warming. The 1995 IPCC report was notorious for the significant alterations made to the text after it was approved by the scientists – in order to convey the impression of a human influence. The 2001 IPCC report claimed the twentieth century showed ‘unusual warming’ based on the now-discredited hockey-stick graph. The latest IPCC report, published in 2007, completely devaluates the climate contributions from changes in solar activity, which are likely to dominate any human influence."

Frederick Seitz
President Emeritus, Rockefeller University,
Past President, National Academy of Sciences Past President,
American Physical Society Chairman,
Science and Environmental Policy Project

February 2008

I am far from the only scientist who has not bought into the claims of catastrophic man-made global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.  There are many good scientists who believe their alarmist claims to be either false or unproven.

11 December 2016

Sea level rise -- or land subsidence? by Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek

At the request of Paul Driessen, I am posting this article:

Sea level rise -- or land subsidence?
Alarmist claims about rising seas inundating coastal areas blame the wrong culprit 
Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek 

In his 2006 Inconvenient Truth mockumentary, Al Gore infamously predicted melting ice caps would cause oceans to rise “up to 20 feet” (6.1 meters) “in the near future.” Kevin Costner’s 1995 “action thriller” Water World presumed totally melting planetary ice would almost submerge the continents. 
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 that seas might rise up to only 2 feet by 2107. By comparison, oceans have risen nearly 400 feet since the last ice age ended, reflecting how much water was trapped in mile-thick glaciers that buried much of North America, Europe and Asia. In recent decades, though, global sea level rise has averaged just 7 inches per century – which may explain why Mr. Gore bought an $8.5-million mansion on the California coast in 2010. 
And yet “rising seas due to dangerous manmade climate change” remains a contentious issue, with profound land use, wildlife, economic, insurance and policy implications – especially for certain regions, like the Atlantic Coast’s Chesapeake Bay region. Some say “seas could rise” 2.5 to 7 feet (2.1 meters) or more by the end of the century around Norfolk, Virginia, a huge population and agricultural center and home to America’s largest Navy base. Even if that happens, the prediction combines multiple causes. 
Saltwater intrusion clearly has been an increasing problem across much of this region for several decades, and storms have sent tides and waves further inland than in the past, flooding and battering homes, croplands and wildlife habitats. Climate alarmists attribute this danger to human fossil fuel use. 
As a new report by Dr. Bezdek explains, reality is much different. (His report awaits publication in a scientific journal.) At least for the Chesapeake region, Houston-Galveston, Texas area, Santa Clara Valley, California and other places around the globe, the primary cause of seawater intrusions is not rising oceans – but land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal from subsurface shale and sandstone formations, and to “glacial isostatic adjustments” that have been ongoing since the last glaciers melted. 
The solution therefore is not to continue trying to control Earth’s climate – an impossible, economy-busting task that would further impede fossil fuel use, economic development, job creation, and human health and welfare. The solution requires reducing groundwater removal in these coastal areas. 
Ice age glaciers buried continental land masses under trillions of tons of ice. Land under the ice was pushed downward, while areas somewhat beyond the glaciers were forced up. Once the ice was gone, the compressed areas began to rise, while lands that had bulged upward began to sink. Isostatic subsidence is still occurring, at about 1 millimeter a year (4.4 inches per century) in the Chesapeake region. 
While Chesapeake farms and cities have been utilizing groundwater for centuries, withdrawal rates from Virginia Coastal Plain aquifers skyrocketed between 1950 and 1970, as modern pumps took over. The rates have remained high ever since, causing significant land subsidence.  
The aquifer systems involve layers of porous sandstone with water in the interstices between sand grains. These layers are sandwiched between layers (lenses) of impermeable but wet shale and clay. As water is pumped from the sandy layers, the shale-clay layers are squeezed like a sponge by hundreds of feet of overlying rock and sediment, forcing their water into less compressible sands, and then into pumps. 
The amount of water in a system, its recharge rates (from rain, snowmelt and other sources), and the degree of compaction depend on how much water is being withdrawn, the thickness of sand and clay layers, and how compressible the layers are. Most of the pumped water ultimately comes from the clays, as they are squeezed dry. Analysts have estimated that 95% of water removed from Virginia Coastal Plain aquifers between 1891 and 1980 came from their clay layers, which have steadily compressed as a result. 
Compression means subsidence, at 1.1-4.8 mm/yr – for an average rate of 11 inches per century, on top of the 4.4 in. per century in isostatic subsidence, and compared to the average sea level rise of 7 in. a century. 
The net effect in Virginia’s Coastal Plain can thus be nearly 2 feet of subsidence per century. The impacts on land, habitat and property loss, saltwater intrusions, inland storm surges, farming, homes and other buildings, regional economics, wharves, piers and naval bases, and insurance rates is easy to discern. 
Confusion arises because discussions often involve “relative sea level rise” – which combines glacial isostatic and groundwater subsidence, along with actual sea level rise – just as we just did with our 2 feet per century total. However, the term obscures what is really going on and lends itself to climate alarmism, by leaving the false impression that the entire problem is melting icecaps and rising seas. 
It clearly is not. Focusing attention on alleged “manmade climate cataclysms,” supposedly driven by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, will result in our spending hundreds of billions of dollars to replace oil, gas and coal with expensive, subsidized, land-intensive renewable energy systems – while foregoing hundreds of billions of dollars in jobs and economic growth. Meanwhile, China, India, Indonesia and other developing nations will continue doing what they must to lift billions out of abject poverty and disease: burn more fossil fuels, thereby emitting more CO2. 
Those nations are not about to succumb to the Obama EPA “social cost of carbon” con game. This is the fraudulent scheme under which bureaucrats blame US oil, gas and coal for every climate and weather event, habitat and species loss, and other problem that they can possibly conjure up anywhere in the world – while completely ignoring the phenomenal and undeniable benefits of using those fuels, and the equally important benefits of having more plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. 
President-Elect Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA underscores his intent to end climate-obsessed government by junk science and Executive Branch decree. 
What can be done about the real-world problems of “relative sea level rise”? Sea levels will continue to rise (or fall) in response to ice growth and melting, caused by powerful natural forces over which humans have no control. Glacial isostatic subsidence will continue – albeit at a glacial or geologic pace – unless another ice age buries continents under more miles of ice, again lowering sea levels hundreds of feet, and wiping out arable land, growing seasons and agricultural productivity. 
Moreover, once water has been squeezed out of the clay and shale, it cannot easily be replenished. That means the subsidence process cannot be reversed. However, we can nevertheless reduce or even halt subsidence due to groundwater extraction. 
Rates and locations of land subsidence and relative sea level rise change over time. Accurate predictive tools and measurements are thus needed to improve our understanding of subsidence in particular areas. Although subsidence rates are not as high on the Atlantic Coast as they have been in the Houston-Galveston area or Santa Clara Valley, the problem is nonetheless serious because of the southern Chesapeake Bay region’s low-lying topography and consequent susceptibility to ocean water intrusion.
In the Houston-Galveston area and Santa Clara Valley, resource managers have moved groundwater pumping away from the coast, reduced groundwater withdrawal rates, increased aquifer recharge and substitut­ed surface water for groundwater supplies. These actions have successfully stopped subsidence in the Santa Clara Valley and slowed the process in the Houston-Galveston area. 
Similar steps could be taken in Virginia’s Tidewater or Coastal Plain region. In addition, pipelines could bring fresh water from nearby lakes and rivers, replacing at least some of what is now provided by wells. Yet another option might be to construct one or more desalination plants (in California and Texas, as well), utilizing nuclear or natural gas power to operate facilities that utilize new Israeli technologies that employ a chemical-free reverse osmosis process that converts seawater into freshwater for pennies per gallon. 
The new Congress and Executive Branch need to focus our limited money and resources on real problems and viable solutions – not on their false, politically correct, anti-development alter egos. 

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc. (www.MISI-net.com).

09 December 2016

Only 19% of New Enrollments in Medicaid in 2014 were due to ObamaCare

Advocates of ObamaCare like to claim that all of the new enrollments in Medicaid in 2014 were due to ObamaCare.  So you find claims that ObamaCare provided insurance coverage to 17 million people in 2014.

According to a study one of whose authors is Jonathan Gruber, a chief moving force behind ObamaCare, only 19% or 3.3 million of the new Medicaid enrollments were due to ObamaCare.  The remaining new enrollments had been eligible for Medicaid prior to the passing of the ObamaCare act.

This should be remembered when considering the repeal of ObamaCare.  It will be said by some that all of the new enrollments in Medicaid since it was passed represent people who will lose insurance coverage when ObamaCare is repealed.  This is not true.  When ObamaCare was passed 6 million people lost their insurance coverage and had to sign up under new plans under ObamaCare or pay a penalty tax.  Yet only 3.3 million people were newly able to gain insurance under the expansion of Medicaid.

Some people with pre-existing conditions were able to get insurance more affordably under ObamaCare in 2014, but that was not an increase outside of Medicaid expansion large enough to offset the remaining part of the 6 million who lost their insurance.  The total number of people who gained insurance in 2014 was 11.6 million people.  The difference between that number and the 17 million said to be insured under ObamaCare in 2014 is those who lost insurance due to ObamaCare and had change their insurance plan, at inconvenience to themselves and generally at a higher cost.

The number of people who benefited from ObamaCare is greatly exaggerated, while the damage in insurance loss, lowered insurance and medical care quality, higher premiums, and higher deductibles is minimized by those who promote ObamaCare.

See here and here.

03 December 2016

Progressive Elitist Cronyism on Bloomberg Business Radio

While on my way to my laboratory this morning, I heard two federal government ads on Bloomberg Business Radio between 0430 and 0435 hours.  The first was an ad admonishing fathers to spend time with their children.  The second was a FEMA ad telling you to have an emergency plan and to have supplies prepared.

Now Bloomberg Business Radio is very much a Progressive Elitist operation.  Its audience is not one filled with the poor and under-educated.  If the government ad telling fathers to spend time with their children was aimed at reducing federal welfare costs to single-parent families, this is not the audience to be directing such an ad to.  In fact, I am pretty sure that the audience is very heavy in Progressive Elitists who feel quite superior in their parenting skills and in their superior incomes.  Should these generally more educated and wealthy listeners also need to be harangued to have emergency plans and supplies as well?

Should the federal government be acting as the adult in the room to educate and request responsibility from the more educated and wealthy people who listen to Bloomberg Business Radio at the expense of the general population?  It really is not a proper function of the federal government to be running such ads on any radio station, but it is especially odd that it is running them on Bloomberg Business Radio.

Unless, one views this from a rather cynical angle.  Bloomberg Business Radio is quite the dependable supporter of an expansive role for government.  It is very friendly to big government and a government that is a growing government.  So if you are a government agency that appreciates that support, why not encourage it with an advertising budget?  Yes, preferentially spend your advertising budget on a crony business even if the audience is not the right audience for the message.  We will rub each other's backs.  Here is some advertising money so this friendly radio station can stay on the air and continue to praise the benefits of big government.  This is a form of bribery.