It may not be a popular fact, but a fact it is: the environment is getting cleaner, and it has since about the mid-20th century. The question is, what caused this improvement? How can we keep it going? Over at Topix.com, my colleague Geoffrey McLatchey and I argue that the best answer for both questions is wealth creation:
Economic growth and environmental quality are not opposing values. They go hand-in-hand. Something happens to a country when its per capita GDP reaches about $5,000 (U.S. per capita GDP is about $48,000). At that point, families are certainly not rich. But they don’t have to worry as much about where their next meal will come from. They can afford to begin to take care of other needs, such as building sewage systems and other pollution-reducing infrastructure. Instead of using wood for heating and cooking, people can turn to more efficient fossil fuels, which means less deforestation. Farmers can afford to adopt modern techniques that produce more food with less land, leaving more left over for wildlife.
That’s the good news. The even better news is that greater progress is on the horizon. The number of people living in absolute poverty halved between 1990 and 2010, and the number continues to dwindle. Remarkably, this is happening even as global population increases. As more countries pass the $5,000-per capita benchmark, ecosystems around the world will benefit.
Read the whole thing here. Even if people do concede to the data and admit that the world’s environmental situation isn’t doom-and-gloom, they often give credit to the EPA. A glance at my recent EPA report card will hopefully disabuse people of that notion. Innovation, not regulation, is what will keep the environment healthy. That’s the lesson people should take from Earth Day.
PolitiFact falsely depicted Michael Cannon, the director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, as suggesting that state law overrides federal law, erroneously attributing to him a radical claim that he never made (that states can forbid the federal government from setting up health insurance exchanges). Cannon merely observed that state law in 14 states forbids “state employees” to set up Obamacare health insurance exchanges, and he never said that federal employees could not set them up. (Under the Supreme Court’s Printz decision, the federal government cannot conscript state officials to administer even perfectly constitutional federal laws.)
After falsely putting words into Cannon’s mouth, PolitiFact then rated the claim he never made “false,” and prominently attributed it to him. PolitiFact cheerfully ignored the fact that it had wrongly maligned Cannon, a legally knowledgeable expert on health care regulation, even after its error was brought to its attention by Jonathan Adler, a leading law professor at Case Western Reserve University.
PolitiFact has also made repeated false claims about the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision that echoed false Democratic talking points against the Supreme Court in the campaign. PolitiFact resisted fixing its erroneous claims even after lawyers and law professors repeatedly pointed out and documented the falseness of its claims, people such as Professor Adler, and a former Justice Department lawyer at the Heritage Foundation.
After dragging its heels, PolitiFact finally corrected some of its false claims after criticism of its falsehoods spread beyond legal circles to the general public, drawing scrutiny from people like Megan McArdle of Newsweek/Daily Beast. (Their criticism of PolitiFact for making obvious factual errors put its (undeserved) credibility at risk if it failed to belatedly correct the most blatant of the errors they cited.)
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Have a listen here.
Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment Myron Ebell discusses his recent PBS Frontline appearance, and how the debate over global warming has shifted in the last few years. The issue has all but fallen off the radar as economic difficulties have supplanted environmental concerns in the public mind.
The left-leaning, self-proclaimed “fact checker” PolitiFact ignored the most basic economic law, the law of supply and demand, in claiming that cap-and-trade legislation, which is designed to limit energy consumption and increase the price of energy from non-renewable sources, could actually result in “an average lower cost for consumers.” Even the supporters of such legislation, such as President Obama, have admitted that such legislation increases energy costs to consumers. In a January 17, 2008, interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama said that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade plan to fight global warming. Similarly, a CBS analyst pointed out that a Treasury Department analysis estimated the cost of the Obama administration’s cap-and-trade plan at $1,761 per year for the average American household.
The steady stream of outright falsehoods coming from PolitiFact, and its blatant double standards and hypocrisy, are chronicled at a blog called PolitiFact Bias. Additional commentary on the bias of the head of PolitiFact in Virginia can be found here. A rebuttal to false claims made in defense of PolitiFact Virginia can be found here.
In a similar vein, Investor’s Business Daily and other publications have chronicled how widely-cited self-proclaimed fact checkers like the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler have gotten “their own facts wrong” when writing about things like plant closings and foreign policy.
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So it turns out that Penn State has covered up wrongdoing by one of its employees to avoid bad publicity.
But I’m not talking about the appalling behavior uncovered this week by the Freeh report. No, I’m referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it’s time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we’ve also learned about his and others’ hockey-stick deceptions since.
To review, when the emails and computer models were leaked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia two and a half years ago, many of the luminaries of the “climate science” community were shown to have been behaving in a most unscientific manner. Among them were Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology at Penn State, whom the emails revealed had been engaging in data manipulation to keep the blade on his famous hockey-stick graph, which had become an icon for those determined to reduce human carbon emissions by any means necessary.
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It looks like it could begin a trade war — in airplanes. China has announced that it may impound European Union airplanes in retaliation if the EU seizes their planes because China won’t comply with the EU’s draconian carbon emissions data and trading system.
The EU has imposed a carbon tax on emissions including those from foreign airplanes that land or take off from the EU. What’s really astonishing is that the charges would be made on all emissions from the whole trip, that is, is a plane took off from Beijing and landed in Frankfurt, Germany, the airline would pay the tax for the emissions during the 4,863-mile journey.
According to the EU’s mandate, countries had until March 31 of this year to submit data on their carbon emissions. But Chinese airlines said they are not going to collect and hand over the data.
The news report quoted a Chinese official of their air transport association:
“Chinese airlines are unanimous on this. We won’t provide the data,” said Wei Zhenzhong, secretary general of the China Air Transport Association, on the sidelines of an International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Beijing.
Wei said China “would try to avoid any trade war”, but is prepared to retaliate if its state carriers –?Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines – are penalised.
CEI has covered this story here, here and here, and has noted that with airlines’ faltering in this stagnating economy, adding more taxes could bring some closer to the brink.
Here it comes again — talk of an EU carbon tax. This time it’s a member of the new administration of new French President Francois Hollande, namely his minister for “industrial revival,”Arnaud Montebourg, who called for carbon border tariffs in his first official interview. He seems to be following up on former President Nicholas Sarkozy’s earlier scheme to institute a carbon tariff on EU imports so that industries in the EU subject to carbon restrictions wouldn’t be disadvantaged.
But France was not alone in those earlier calls. The European Commission in 2008 considered imposing carbon taxes on goods from countries that didn’t have greenhouse gas emissions policies as stringent as the EU’s. Those countries would have had to buy permits and join the emissions trading scheme.
The U.S. also seriously flirted with enacting legislation for carbon border taxes in a huge energy-suppression cap-and-trade bill in 2009 until the summer of 2010 when the bill didn’t have enough Senate votes.
Meanwhile, another EU action against the airline industry continues to be controversial. In a protectionist approach to try to force other countries to adopt their cap-and-trade scheme, an EU directive, upheld in December 2011 by their highest court, would assess carbon taxes on full-trip emissions from airlines that take off or land in the EU.
This morning the American Enterprise Institute held a seminar discussing the airline emissions directive — “The First Carbon Trade War? The EU vs. the World,” in which an EU representative, trade scholars and environmental policy experts offered some differing viewpoints on the implications of the EU policy. Several speakers noted that it may be possible for the International Civil Aviation Organization to come up with a global plan that would not cause trade frictions. One major point speakers made was that developing countries, especially China and India, are taking the lead on this issue against the EU. Since the directive applies equally to developed and developing countries, China has been adamant about not paying the emissions tax and has retaliated by holding up orders for airbuses from the EU manufacturers. In fact, it was reported yesterday that the EU had reached out to China in an attempt to find a compromise.
This issue could have far-reaching implications in relation to trade, sovereignty, extraterritoriality of taxation and standards.
Here and here are some earlier CEI articles on this issue.
Over at the Washington Post, in discussing the coming crisis in weathersats, the editorial board can’t resist taking an ignorant dig at George W. Bush:
The reasons for this outlook are many — some overspending on certain projects to the harm of others, costly congressional mandates that diverted resources, and a recent rocket accident. Even if those factors were ignored, says Dennis Hartman, the chair of the panel that produced the report, agency budgets would still be too low to keep the country’s earth observation system in reasonable shape. The NRC proposes restoring NASA’s earth observation satellite funding to the level seen in the late 1990s — before President George W. Bush reprogrammed money from those satellites into things such as manned spaceflight to Mars. That level stands at about $2 billion. [Emphasis added]
There were problems with George Bush’s space policy, but shifting funding to humans to Mars was never one of them. Bush’s plans were for a lunar return, not a Mars mission, though one was envisioned as a follow on in the 2020s.
NASA has spent exactly zero dollars toward sending people to Mars, unless you count the money wasted on an unnecessary new heavy-lift rocket which might, theoretically, play a role in such a mission decades from now, but whose primary mission is to sustain what remains of the Shuttle workforce with its jobs in key states and districts.
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John Stuart Mill once wrote, “There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.” Sticking to the latter, American public schools are not heeding his wise words.
Next month, the consortium of groups that set national science curriculum standards will release new instruction on teaching climate change, according to The Wall Street Journal. It won’t be balanced. And parents won’t have much choice.
While both parents and teachers alike have voiced their preference to have both sides of the climate change debate taught in schools, institutions like the National Research Council (NRC) – that are tasked with constructing the new curriculum – disagree. Martin Storksdieck, a director at the NRC, thinks that teaching both sides to this controversial topic would mislead students.
Despite cries that man-made global warming is “settled science,” there is considerable room for doubt. Look no further than the over 31,000 scientists who oppose the purported IPCC “consensus” or the deliberate attempts of the most prominent climate alarmists — shown in the leaked Climategate emails – to cover up the fact that there has been no net global warming for over a decade.
But climate alarmists at the NRC and its fellow curriculum-setting institutions don’t want balance. That might mislead students, of course.
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It’s that time once again to show your support for human achievement by not participating in the World Wildlife Fund’s Dark Ages Hour, where people “vote” for governmental action on climate change by spending one hour in the comfort of their homes, on a Saturday, with their lights off. Instead, join the thousands of people around the world participating in the fourth annual Human Achievement Hour (HAH) by keeping your lights on and showing your dedication to protecting the freedom necessary for individuals to create, innovate, and achieve.
On March 31, 2012, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, households, businesses, and governments will shut off their lights for one hour as a symbolic vote against global climate change. Observers of Earth Hour want world leaders to “do something” about pollution and limit energy use. While most people celebrating the hour simply want to live in a cleaner environment (nothing wrong with that) the real agenda of Earth Hour organizers is to get politicians around the world to use sanctions and taxation to prevent individuals from being able to freely use Earth’s resources, hindering our ability to create the solutions and technologies of the future.
While it is every person’s right to decide if they want to conserve energy for any reason it should not be their right to impose their beliefs or opinions on others. The only way we achieve technology that is “greener” is by building on older “dirtier” technology. If we slow down the process by increasing the costs of utilizing resources and energy it will simply take that much longer to reach more environmentally friendly solutions.
To show that we do not agree with the environmentalists’ message, during Earth Hour CEI and thousands of our supporters around the world will be leaving our lights on and in fact we will be throwing a party! Human Achievement Hour is a celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the accomplishments and innovations of humans throughout history. To celebrate participants need only to spend the 8:30pm to 9:30pm hour on March 31 enjoying the benefits of free enterprise and human innovation: gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, or listen to music. HAH celebrants can also utilize one of man’s greatest achievements, the Internet, to join CEI’s in-house party, which will be streaming live on the Web at www.cei.org/hah beginning at 8pm (EDT) and you can use the chat function to tell us how you are celebrating human achievement in your neighborhood.
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