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

16 November 2019

A Couple of Climate Change Nuggets

Mark Mills, Real Clear Energy, 8 November 2019:
...since 2007, American fracking technology has added 500 percent more energy to markets than have all of the planet’s wind and solar farms combined.
I cannot help but wonder why Americans have invested so much in fracking when so many are claiming that wind and solar generate power more inexpensively.  If consumers are buying those more expensive fracking industry energy products, are they doing it because they believe wind and solar power are immoral?  Are they being repelled by the socialism behind wind and solar power?  Or is it simply that wind and solar are really more expensive than fracking energy products and a great big socialist lie is being revealed?

Roger Pielke, Jr., Forbes, 31 October 2019:  
The data show that direct economic losses from weather and climate-related disasters have declined (based on a linear trend) over the past 30 years from slightly under 0.3% of global GDP to slightly under 0.2% of global GDP.
The catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is in desperate need of showing an increase of weather and climate-related disasters of at least a few percent of worldwide GDP to even come close to justifying the draconian decreases in the many other aspects of our well-being that hydrocarbon fuels buttress.  Yet they cannot even demonstrate a couple tenths of a percent hit to global GDP over the last 30 years.  Just how gullible do these alarmist socialists think we are?  

Well they do call us the Deplorables and Denialists and many another nasty name, so it is pretty clear they do not respect us much.  I well remember, when I was but a child, realizing that those who do not respect me, are not worthy of my respect.

15 November 2019

Subsidies for Electric Vehicles and Wind and Solar Power

In today's Cooler Heads Digest from Myron Ebel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comes this from the lead article by Ben Lieberman:

On electric vehicles (EVs), Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee is pushing to change the provisions that capped the $7,500 per vehicle tax credit once a manufacturer sold 200,000 such cars. H.R. 2256 proposes raising the cap to 600,000 vehicles but only slightly reducing the credit to $7,000. For Tesla, which has exceeded the 200,000 vehicle limit, and General Motors, which is nearing it, the extra 400,000 qualifying vehicles could generate $2.8 billion each for their EV purchasers, nearly half of which are wealthy Californians. Given that other automakers would have eventually reached and exceeded 200,000 in EV sales, the revised cap could be worth tens of billions of dollars in the years ahead. EVs are way past the point of the “infant industry” rationale for these tax credits, but that does not seem to matter. 
Also under discussion for eventual inclusion in a big energy tax package are additional years for solar and wind production tax credits promised by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). These tax credits had been made more generous by the 2015 bill in exchange for ending them once and for all. It is not yet known how many post-sunset years the latest extension will provide. 
One fringe benefit of the debate is that it provides a brief respite from the drumbeat of claims that wind and solar have plummeted in cost and are now cheaper than conventional electricity. If true, there would be no need for yet another extension of favored tax treatment for them.

So even after all these years, electric vehicles are not ready for prime-time consumers and even wealthy Californians have to be bribed by the government to buy them.  Seems to me, I have heard Democrats complaining a lot about their conjurings of a bribe in one context, yet they are constantly bribing Americans to do their bidding.  A bribe to the advantage of socialism is no bribe, just as a lie to the advantage of socialism is the truth.  You just have to understand their reality-free context.

That last quoted paragraph is a humdinger.  Apparently, the propaganda breaks down a bit when it comes time to claim a subsidy for investments that make no sense in the free market.

10 November 2019

Comments on Random Subjects

Iran spends about $1 billion a year to fund terrorism, making it the number 1 funding source for terrorists.

In October, there were only 3% of Americans who did not have a job and wanted a job.  This is the lowest percentage since this statistic has been determined starting in 1994.

PG&E has cut off power in large areas of California due to high winds and claims that the damage of falling trees and limbs to their power lines and equipment can start fires.  A good part of this problem is because PG&E has put so much money into other tasks dictated by the socialist government of California instead of removing trees from the vicinity of their power lines and updating their essential distribution equipment.

Wind and solar power account for about 17.9% of all electric power generation in California now. Wind generators, which operate in the wind speed range from 6 or 7 mph to about 55 mph.  A wind speed of about 30 mph is usually the optimum power generation wind speed.  The high winds that are driving the California wildfires are also causing shut-downs of wind generators or causing them to operate at higher than optimum power generation speeds.  This may well be causing the wind generator portion of the California electricity supply to be under-performing.  To be sure, under-performing wind generation is a common problem with this intermittent, unreliable power source.

Comments on Medicare-for-All

Elizabeth Warren's plan to nationalize the health care system in the USA has a price tag of $52 billion according to her no-doubt reliable cost accounting.  She has claimed repeatedly that billionaires will pay all the taxes to pay for it.  The middle class will pay nothing, so she says.

The total wealth of American billionaires is estimated to be about $2.4 trillion.  If every last penny of that wealth were confiscated by Warren's socialist government, the tax on the billionaires would cover about 4.6% of cost of the first 10 years of her Medicare-for-All program.  Now, mind you, who is then going to pay that same 4.6% of more of the next 10 year period of her Medicare-for-All?  When those American billionaires sell off all their assets to pay their confiscatory taxes, will those who buy up the assets manage them as well and generate as many jobs and as much GDP growth?

Other portions of the costs are to be paid by having the states transfer their Medicaid payments to the federal government.  Companies will have to turn over what they are paying into employee health plans to the federal government.  Companies will lose the ability to tune their health insurance costs to their industry, location, and profitability.  Many more companies will fail without this flexibility, causing a loss of jobs and a loss of GDP growth.  Still, these sums will fall far short of providing the $52 trillion costs of Warren's plan.  Who do you think is going to make up the huge difference?

Both Warren and Sanders plans will shut down the private health insurance markets.  This means they will put 2 million Americans in that industry out of work.  Do either of their plans cost estimates include putting these 2 million Americans on unemployment insurance payouts and other welfare programs?  When 2 million Americans lose their jobs, how many will become alcoholics or other drug users?  How many will commit suicide in their despair and depression?  Have we learned nothing from the human disaster that occurred in part as Obama acted to destroy the coal mining industry and the jobs of those who transported coal, burned coal in power plants, and ran the retail and services industries of the towns that depended upon coal production?

Medicare-for-all will result in lower quality medical care for everyone.  Innovation, medical care giver training and intelligence, equipment, and facilities will all deteriorate more and more over time.  Bureaucrats will be in charge of deciding who will live and who will die.  And every American will lose the sole ownership of their minds and bodies.  When someone else gets to dictate how you will act to maintain your own mind and body, then you have lost your most critical property right.  You are no longer sovereign.  You are a slave.

What Do Americans Know about Science and Technology?

The National Science Foundation makes a semi-annual survey of what Americans know about science and technology.  The 2018 assessment gives the results of surveys made in 2016 and shows that when given statements to be answered true or false:

  • 52% agreed that humans evolved from other species of animals, though 72% agreed that the altered statement that the theory of evolution held that humans evolved from other species of animals was true.  Apparently, 20% preferred their religious beliefs.
  • 39% agreed that the universe began with a big explosion.  When that statement was altered to say that astronomers believe the universe began with a big explosion, 60% agreed that astronomers did believe that.  The 21% difference here is again mostly a preference for a religious belief.
  • 48% agreed that electrons are smaller than atoms.
  • 45% disagreed that lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  • 51% disagreed that antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
So about one out of five Americans disagrees with science when it comes in conflict with their religious belief on the questions of the origins of human life and of the universe.

If you randomly guess on a true or false question, you should be right 50% of the time.  Now consider the statement "Electrons are smaller than atoms."  Surely a few percent of Americans actually know the answer to that true/false question.  If only 48% of Americans answered the question correctly, then those who did not know the answer had an actual preference for the belief that atoms are smaller than electrons.  Where did they get that preference?  One is driven to make similar observations about how lasers work and what antibiotics kill.

Given that Americans know so little about science and some choose to disregard it, is it any wonder at all that they are easily frightened into believing that government must act as their savior because of myriad scary alarms that the media, injury lawyers, environmentalists, so-called green energy enthusiasts, and catastrophic man-made global fryers special interest groups conjure up?

Because governments are always seeking more powers and more control over their populace, is it any wonder that government schools do such a poor job in educating Americans in science and technology?  To be sure, government schools do an awful job in educating Americans in history and economics also.  Mathematics and writing skills are also poorly taught.

About the only issue that government schools are thorough in teaching is that the people are incapable of choosing their own values and managing their own lives and must turn to government to care for them.  That is such a self-defeating and depressing claim that it causes no end of harm to the American people.

01 November 2019

Climategate: Ten years later by Dr. Kelvin Kemm

Climate alarmists are still promoting junk science, fossil fuel bans and wealth redistribution
This month marks the tenth anniversary of “Climategate” – the release of thousands of emails to and from climate scientists who had been (and still are) collaborating and colluding to create a manmade climate crisis that exists in their minds and computer models, but not in the real world. The scandal should have ended climate catastrophism. Instead, it was studiously buried by politicians, scientists, activists and crony capitalists, who will rake in trillions of dollars from the exaggerations and fakery, while exempting themselves from the damage they are inflicting on everyday families.
Few people know the Inconvenient Facts about the supposed manmade climate and extreme weather “crisis.” For example, since 1998, average global temperatures have risen by a mere few hundredths of a degree. (For a time, they even declined slightly.) Yet all we hear is baseless rhetoric about manmade carbon dioxide causing global warming and climate changes that pose existential threats to humanity, wildlife and planet. Based on this, we are told we must stop using fossil fuels to power economic growth and better living standards. This is bad news for Africa and the world.
We keep hearing that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels cause rising global temperatures. But satellite data show no such thing. In fact, computer model predictions for 2019 are almost a half degree Celsius (0.9 degrees F) above actual satellite measurements. Even worse, anytime a scientist raises questions about the alleged crisis, he or she is denounced as a “climate change denier.”
A major source of data supporting the human CO2- induced warming proposition came from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.
Then on the morning of 17 November 2009 a Pandora’s box of embarrassing CRU information exploded onto the world scene. A computer hacker penetrated the university’s computer system and took 61 Megs of material that showed the CRU had been manipulating scientific information to make global warming appear to be the fault of mankind and industrial CO2. Among many other scandals, the shocking leaked emails showed then-CRU-director Prof. Phil Jones boasting of using statistical “tricks” to remove evidence of observed declines in global temperatures.
In another email, he advocated deleting data rather than providing it to scientists who did not share his view and might criticize his analyses. Non-alarmist scientists had to invoke British freedom of information laws to get the information. Jones was later suspended, and former British Chancellor Lord Lawson called for a Government enquiry into the embarrassing exposé.
The affair became known as “Climategate,” and a group of American University students even posted a YouTube song, “Hide the Decline,” mocking the CRU and climate modeler Dr. Michael Mann, whose use of the phrase “hide the decline” in temperatures had been found in the hacked emails.
So what is the truth? If one considers the composition of the atmosphere and equates it to the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the extra plant-fertilizing CO2 added to the atmosphere since California became the 31st state of the United States in 1850 is less than the thickness of tiles under the Tower.
Can this tiny increase really explain any observed global warming since the Little Ice Age ended, and the modern industrial era began? Since California became a state, the measured global rise in atmospheric temperature has been less than 10C. But most of this increase occurred prior to 1940, and average planetary temperatures fell from around 1943 until about 1978, leading to a global cooling scare. Temperatures rose slightly until 1998, then mostly remained stable, even as carbon dioxide levels continued to rise. Rising CO2 levels and temperature variations do not correlate very well at all.  
Moreover, during the well-documented Medieval Warm Period from about 950 to 1350, warmer global temperatures allowed Viking farmers to raise crops and tend cattle in Greenland. The equally well documented 500-year Little Ice Age starved and froze the Vikings out of Greenland, before reaching its coldest point, the Maunder Minimum, 1645-1715. That’s when England’s River Thames regularly froze over, Norwegian farmers demanded compensation for lands buried by advancing glaciers, and priests performed exorcism rituals to keep alpine glaciers away from villages. Paintings from the era show crowds of people ice skating and driving horse-drawn carriages on the Thames.
Industry and automobile emissions obviously played no role in either the MWP or the LIA.
These dramatic events should ring warning bells for any competent, honest scientist. If the Medieval Warm Period occurred without industrial CO2 driving it, why should industrial CO2 be causing any observed warming today? Europe’s great plague wiped out nearly a quarter of its population during the Little Ice Age. The warm period brought prosperity and record crops, while cold years brought misery, famine and death.
Ten years before Climategate, Dr. Mann released a computer-generated graph purporting to show global temperatures over the previous 1500 years. His graph mysteriously made the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and Maunder extreme cold years disappear – and planetary temperatures spike suddenly the last couple decades of twentieth century. The graph had the shape of a hockey stick, was published worldwide and became a centerpiece for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Many scientists were highly suspicious of the hockey stick claims. Two of them, Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, completely discredited Mann’s computer program and revisionist history. Of course, that did not stop former US vice president Al Gore from using the discredited graph in his doom and gloom climate change movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
The hacked CRU emails also showed exchanges between Mann and Jones, in which they discussed how to intimidate editors who wanted to publish scientific views contrary to theirs, to suppress any contradictory studies. In one email, Jones expressed his desire to get rid of the “troublesome editor” of the Climate Research journal for daring to publish differing views. The editor got sacked.
When University of Colorado climate skeptic Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. asked the CRU for its original temperature readings, he was told the data had been (conveniently) lost. Lost!?! Do professionals lose something as valuable as original data? Many suspected they just didn’t want anyone to expose their clever manipulations and fabrications.
But if industrial carbon dioxide did not cause recent global warming, what did? A Danish research group, led by Prof. Henrik Svensmark, has found a very credible match between levels of sunspot activity (giant magnetic storms) on our Sun and global temperatures over the last fifteen hundred years. This all-natural mechanism actually fits the evidence! How terribly inconvenient for alarmists.
Cosmic rays from deep space constantly impinge on the Earth’s upper atmosphere and produce clouds, much like high-flying jets leave white contrails behind their engines. More clouds can trap heat, but they also cause global cooling because not as much sunlight strikes the Earth. More sunspots mean a stronger magnetic shield, therefore fewer cosmic rays reaching Earth, thus less cloud cover and more global warming. The Sun is currently in a near-record period of low sunspot activity.
All sorts of interest groups are suppressing this information. Maybe worse, when Climategate broke, “climate justice” campaigner for Friends of the Earth Emma Brindal said bluntly: “A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources.” Not protecting Earth from manmade CO2 emissions or natural and manmade climate change – but redistributing wealth and resources, according to formulas that self-appointed ruling elites decide is “socially just.”
Climate campaigners also oppose “excessive” air travel for business or pleasure, 4x4 vehicles as “unnecessary luxuries,” and modern homes for Africans. Some even say Africans must continue living in mud huts and avoid the use of electricity and modern farming technologies. Minor US actor Ed Begley has said “Africans should have solar power where they need it most: on their huts.” They, Al Gore, Phil Jones and Mike Mann are exempted from these restrictions, of course.
Real social justice and human rights mean everyone has access to abundant, reliable, affordable energy, especially universally important electricity. Not from expensive, intermittent, weather-dependent wind turbines and solar panels. From fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants.
We in the developing world will no longer let climate truth be suppressed. We will not allow loud, radical activists to put the brakes on African economic development, jobs, and improved health and living standards, in the name of advancing their anti-human, wealth redistribution agendas.

Dr. Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and CEO of Nuclear Africa (Pty) Ltd, a project management company based in Pretoria, South Africa. He does consultancy work in strategic development.