The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

I was watching Deadliest Catch on Tuesday (We’ll miss you Phil) and during After the Catch they brought on fishermen from the gulf to talk about the impact of the oil spill. During that discussion, the captain of the Time Bandit pointed out that 25 years later, the fisheries affected by the Exxon Valdez have still not recovered.

This does not bode well for the future of the gulf. Here’s a TED talk on the subject.

TEDxOilSpill June 2010 Carl Safina The oil spill’s unseen villains — and victims

It’s been my opinion that “the other shoe” hasn’t dropped yet as far as the gulf spill goes. No one knows what the long term impact of this event will be, but judging from the aftermath of the much smaller Alaska spill I’d be surprised if there’s much fishing left in the gulf, at all. Which begs the question, what are we going to eat, and how are those people going to make a living? Something to think about.


December 2018 – Deadliest Catch is about the only television show that I miss watching since I cut the cable almost three years ago now. There really isn’t a place for it in my current daily routines. I could anchor it in time watching it on TV. The show was telling a story about last year’s catch on the Alaskan crab grounds. Having to wait until it is available elsewhere means the show is disconnected in time. It no longer has the immediacy, the implied shared experience that broadcast TV brought to us, the viewing public. Without that I don’t have a good reason to watch anymore.

If you are interested in the subject of the corporate malfeasance that resulted in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, check out the film of the same name, Deepwater Horizon. The film very adequately portrays the heartbreak of the survivors and the penny-ante betrayal of acceptable safety standards, the kind of business practices that are all too common in today’s world of big business.

Common Sense 120 – the Environment again.

Common Sense 120 gets two posts. Mukasey’s Paradox deals with the first half of the show. This one is about the second half. Dan Carlin continues to talk about global warming, even though polls have shown that Global Warming now world’s most boring topic.

Seriously, I’ve gotten back into my forum addiction of late, and they’ve been beating the dead horse of environmentalism over at Dan Carlin’s forum for quite awhile now.

The news article that inspired show 120’s second half (the source of which Dan won’t reveal) sounds like it was written by the average socialist turned environmentalist. Anyone who can use the phrase culture of growth as a negative is someone whose opinions can be discarded. Sorry, that’s how I feel.

In Dan’s defense, he doesn’t buy into this article either. In fact, the tough question is really about global warming supplanting the real environmental concerns of the average citizen. Cleaner water, cleaner air. Out of control consumption. Let’s deal with the problems we can handle, hope that we won’t have to give up our freedom in order to save the planet. Which is what the promoters of combating global warming are really asking for.


Some examples of the arguments I’ve been in lately.

Anyway, just becasue all of these things are true, I don’t understand why this means we shouldn’t begin changes in our society to lower GHG emmissions. Not only do these contribute to climate change, but they also affect health, air quality, and visibility.

Because there isn’t any way to do it with current technologies without top down command and control type scenarios. If you take all the cars off the roadway and force everybody onto buses, the impact on pollution would not be that significant. Studies have show (in Austin, anyway) that it’s not vehicle exhaust that causes the majority of pollution these days, it’s businesses (that gets back to the EPA and the disconnection that was put in place to keep people from being able to sue polluters directly) which are given license to do so. These studies don’t stop the EPA from requiring expensive vehicle inspections, all the same. There is already too much command and control, and it’s not working.

If new technologies emerge (and if gas prices continue to climb, they will) that produce cleaner burning fuels, or transportation options that are superior (read as more convenient) for the individual, then the GHG problem becomes a moot issue. Any attempt to reduce GHG (as the study shows) with current technologies will not yield a net benefit. The developing nations are always excluded from these plans, and the majority of new emissions are going to come from those countries.

We are at a crossroads, just as civilization was at a crossroads in the late 1800’s, when whale oil drove industry, and consumption projections showed that there weren’t enough whales to provide the oil to sustain growth. Some people ran around screaming about the end of the world, proposing scenarios of doom and gloom for the world’s future. Other people went out and developed crude oil as a replacement.

Put me in the latter camp this time around as well.

RAnt(hony)-ings


One of the threads dealt with a news piece over at Fox News. I would have disregarded it, but it’s by an author that I respect that I first ran across at CATO.

And then you get these sorts of responses:

Scientific American has an excellent article entitled “The Physics of Climate Change” published about a year ago.

One way of viewing the AGW debate is to treat the problem of cost like buying insurance. If we’re incorrect about AGW and all the carbon we are dumping into the atmosphere doesn’t act as a blanket the way the laws of physics have demonstrated it does, we’ve bought insurance we haven’t used. If however, CO2 and other greenhouse gases block reflected infrared light, as is almost certainly happening, we’ll be very relieved to have stated mitigation earlier. Ounces and prevention, you know.

…except that we can never afford the cost of the insurance required. That is the point Lott is actually echoing (rather than the title of the thread) which is the main argument in Goklany’s paper. That even if global warming is occurring (which isn’t proven) and even if humans are causing AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming, which also isn’t proven) that we can’t know for certain that a fractional rise in temperature isn’t a good thing (and we don’t) and that we can’t make the kind of impact that the laymen thinks we can simply by passing laws and sacrificing comfort. That negating human impact on the climate is a pipe dream.

No one is talking about stopping innovation and not having cleaner air, water, whatever. There are too many armchair environmentalists out there who are willing to pay extra for the knowledge that they aren’t hurting the environment. Innovation in these areas will occur anyway. What Lott and Goklany are saying (and I agree with) is that let’s get the best return on investment, let’s only pay for the insurance we need, rather than bankrupt society trying to return the world to a natural state that never existed in the first place, which is the goal of the hardcore environmentalists.

Lott at CATO: http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=3996
Indur Goklany’s policy paper What to Do about Climate Change, also at CATO. These are the pieces that need to be argued against, if you are going to argue. …and businesses are innovating all the time trying to catch that elusive environmentalist dollar.

REI, anybody? How about Whole Foods? What about the fact that you can’t find a carpet, flooring or paint manufacturer these days who doesn’t push their recycled low-VOC minimal environmental impact products? Businesses follow the dollar, and the average dollar is green.


Plants indeed use carbon dioxide, but the flaw to your point is deforestation.


Here are some study findings contradicting that doom and gloom argument.

Demand for wood may lead to forest growth, not decline, study says

Increased demand for forest products was a cause of increased forest cover in India during the last three decades, according to a joint study by researchers at Brown and Harvard University in the May 2003 Quarterly Journal of Economics. The finding contradicts the idea that economic development inevitably leads to deforestation.

Brown University

When I was growing up, we burned our garbage in an ash can in the back yard. The city would come by once a month to collect the ashes and metal, and dump it in a big hole just outside of town. We would go out there with our .22 rifles on occasion and shoot rats. No one ever checked their gas mileage (other than to guess when they’d need to fill up again) and emission controls were unheard of, as were seat belts.

I was a poster child of environmentalism not long after that. Recycling cans and bottles, recycling paper (which has largely proven to be a wasted effort. Paper recycling has a negative impact on the environment) I was chewed out by more than one person at my first office for being too militant about recycling.

Then the government got involved, and the socialists (or statists if you prefer) saw an inroad for their recently discredited political movement, and shifted their focus to pushing for environmental concerns, needing more government to fix the environmental problems.

Global Warming is a socialist’s wet dream, because there is no way to fix it without handing all control over to the state, and relying on the elite to tell us what we can and can’t do. Carbon footprints and consumption monitoring. I’ve refused to call myself an environmentalist since then.

If the only choice I have is between my choice and no choice, I’ll take my choice and the possible end of the world as we know it, for a thousand, Alex.


Editor’s note, 2019. I am one insufferable smartass when I think I’m right. Quips and jargon all over the place. Also? The crafting of this post exposes my earlier lack of understanding for how context relates meaning and why I need to construct longer narratives to explain concepts that aren’t included in short little soundbites. The kind of soundbites that my early writing is littered with. I have no idea what was in the various threads that I was writing rebuttals for now, and I don’t care enough to go dig up what they were because I was so seriously wrong in my arguments at the time.

…and I was completely wrong about AGW and climate change. Another Bowl of Crow that I’m working through.

RAnt(hony)-ings

The greening effect of historically unprecedented levels of CO2 does answer the objection about deforestation in more solid and in some ways frightening detail than the study that says demand for paper will spur on more tree planting. Trees growing faster raises some disturbing problems for trees and the people who live around them, as well as making reforestation something that can happen at a faster rate. I still reject the doom and gloom, but the margin for rejecting it is getting smaller.

Common Sense 116 – Voting for Cake & It’s Not the Environment, Stupid

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

I had to go digg up the article that Dan referenced in the first half of the show, it’s that good:

The big lie of campaign 2008 — so far — is that the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, will take care of our children. Listening to these politicians, you might think they will. Doing well by children has now passed motherhood and apple pie as an idol that all candidates must worship.

A moral cloud hangs over our candidates. Just how much today’s federal policies, favoring the old over the young and the past over the future, should be altered ought to be a central issue of the campaign. But knowing the unpopular political implications, our candidates have lapsed into calculated quiet.

read more | digg story

This guy is ‘spot on’ (as the English say) and he doesn’t pull any punches. Not even Ron Paul has had much to say on the subject, because what is there to say? Hey, old people, you’re going to have to give up your benefits? Hey, young people, we’re going to raise your tax rates another 40%? No, neither of these solutions work, and yet one of them will have to be imposed; and sooner rather than later.

The sad thing about the Social Security situation is the same story as the situation with foreign policy. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows the system is “broke and broken” but no amount of pointing this out to the politicians for the last 20 years or so has made any difference.

Bush’s half-hearted attempt to introduce ‘private’ (they weren’t, but that’s what they were referred to as) accounts early in his first term met with such a backlash from seniors and Democrats that I doubt anything will be done to solve this problem. It looks like the ‘third rail’ of the political arena will simply be allowed to ‘go to ground’ (bankruptcy) where it will be effectively be rendered harmless to the politicians who remain. Good luck with that.

The second half of the show involved the introduction of the Tata Nano, and the effect that industrializing the third world will have on the environment.

All the issues in this show are presented as having to do with can people vote against their own short term best interests, in favor of long term best interests of the world as a whole; or at least, a larger group than the single person casting a vote.

As far as Social Security goes; as the population ages, and as the taxes start rising on those who are still working, you will see cuts in benefits to the elderly. That move will benefit the people who hold the power at that point in time, and the citizenry they cater too. No amount of whining by the then shrinking pool of boomers will matter that much. Considering it was the boomers who failed to act when the problem became apparent, I’m not going to shed too many tears over the prospect, even if it’s my benefits that get cut.

However, the case for environmental degradation resulting from third world industrialization is hardly a cut and dried matter. Expecting the rest of the world to stay undeveloped just so that we in America can continue to enjoy massive levels of consumption is building castles in the sky. People are going to do anything to improve their lives, and if that means they need a car, they’ll be buying Nanos. Consequently, we may be growing crops in Greenland again in the near future, and sea levels my rise a few inches. Global warming isn’t what we should be worrying about.

I realize the average person prefers to be scared rather than informed; however, the briefest step back from agreeing to whatever draconian measures the enviro-whackos want to impose on us, will reveal several rational objections that make good arguments for doing something else entirely. Arguments like this one from CATO and Indur Goklany:

The world can best combat climate change and advance well-being, particularly of the world’s most vulnerable populations, by reducing present-day vulnerabilities to climate-sensitive problems that could be exacerbated by climate change rather than through overly aggressive Green House Gas reductions.

read more | digg story

The report is written in college level English, I’m sorry. I’ve listened to the audio, and the average person shouldn’t have a problem understanding that targeting greenhouse gas emissions (what environmentalists are doing when they worry about more cars on the roads) will produce a less positive result than targeting things like Malaria prevention, for example.

So, I wouldn’t ask the Indains and others to forgo buying automobiles; it’s a waste of time anyway. Either individual liberty (the ability to make choices for oneself) leads to long term survival for the species, or the species is doomed no matter how you slice it. Pretending that smart people (read as environmentalists) can save us from ourselves, if we hand our freedom over to them, is just another form of magical thinking.

It won’t work.

Tolkien’s War on Science

This time around, I could see where Feanor was coming from, and that he was roundly screwed on all sides by Morgoth and by the Valar. Even though I realized it before, and just didn’t want to face it years ago, it was obvious that JRRT really did not think well of scientists and technologists.

Science Blogs: Dr. Joan Bushwell, “The Tolkienian War on Science” (Wayback Machine link)

Strangely, I saw this attitude while reading Tolkien’s (JRRT) work, but I never made note of it or gave it much credit. Magic is the language of fantasy work, and magic is how all of the creations of Middle Earth are framed. Magic is the technology of fantasy writing. My disagreements concerning global warming, the bugaboo of the left, I will set aside since she gives the Bush administration a few well deserved jabs during the process of revealing her thoughts on the subject. Her insights do put the entire series of stories in a different light than the one that I read them in. Food for thought.

My advice to Feanor: next time, get yourself a phalanx of good patent attorneys. Morgoth will wither in fear at the prospect of litigation.

Joan Bushwell

 

It’s the Environment, Again?

There is a recurring cyclical argument in politics that is due for another ressurection. Every election cycle some variation of Clinton’s “It’s the environment, Stupid” is trotted out by desperate Democrats, and it generally plays well.

Global warming is just another variation on the theme, as Al Gore and his film An Inconvenient Truth readily prove.

The real Inconvenient Truth is; politicians lie, and Al Gore is just another politician. As Thomas Sowell points out in his latest column over at The Atlasphere, “Studies Show” is a phrase you should immediately discount:

More recently, the National Academy of Sciences came out with a study that supposedly proved beyond a doubt that human activities were responsible for “”global warming”.” A chorus of voices in the media, in politics and in academia proclaimed that this was no longer an issue but a scientific fact, proven with hard data.

The NAS report not only had statistics, it had an impressive list of scientists, which supposedly put the icing on the cake.
The only problem was that the scientists had not written the report and in fact had not even seen it before it was published, even though they had some affiliation with the National Academy of Sciences.
At least one of those scientists, meteorologist Richard S. Lindzen of M.I.T., publicly opposed the conclusion and has continued to do so. But that fact was largely lost in the midst of the media hoopla.
Besides, what is a mere meteorologist at M.I.T. compared to Al Gore and his movie. The environment is the Democrat’s terror war; and it has even less substance. The answer to the problem of the environment is to get the gov’t out of other peoples business…

[In other words, allow individuals to pursue polluters instead of placing the EPA in the way of progress on the issue. Which is what the EPA’s purpose is. Don’t beleive me? Explain superfund sites, then. Government forgiveness for polluting businesses. Taxpayer funded cleanup of corporate pollution.]

…And let the concerned private citizens handle the issues. As the world’s biggest polluter, the US gov’t doesn’t have any business pretending to care about the environment.


I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  This is from my last post on climate change;

I was slow to buy in to the idea that climate change was a thing because of this, and for a brief time was in the same camp as several of my friends (and the late author Michael Crichton as another example) that climate change was some kind of conspiracy. It wasn’t until I ran across this argument presented on 350.org that I realized just how demonstrable AGW was

The EPA is necessary. In fact, the EPA isn’t powerful enough which is its major flaw. Superfund? That is a bought congress weakening the EPA from outside. The corrupting effect of money on the government. What we need is a global authority on the environment. I just hope we’re smart enough to craft an organization that will do the job it needs to do without becoming a totalitarian regime all by its lonesome. Able to protect natural resources without crushing human ability to use them. That task will redefine the phrase balancing act

Peak Oil

I scared a member off of Liberty List (a Yahoo!Group I once moderated) today by posting the following in response to his query,

What do you think of Peak Oil?

If such a thing did occur (sudden collapse of the economy due to lack of oil) there wouldn’t be much left that is worth living for, much less investing in. Thankfully, there are replacements for natural oil that are making headway in the marketplace. Biodiesel is one example. 

When I first stumbled across the doom and gloom mantra being preached by modern ‘environmentalists’ (I was recycling when recycling wasn’t cool, BTW. I don’t think much of today’s crop) I did some research into the subject of shortages and what has happened through history when they occurred. 

The one that seemed most similar was the period when we shifted from whale oil to crude oil (the IMHO misnomered ‘fossil fuel’) there were similar predictions of doom and gloom, none of which came to pass because the markets simply shifted to crude oil.
I was unable to track down the articles I originally referenced for these facts, they have been covered up by thousands of repetitive articles on ‘Peak Oil’. That fact says more than any number of historical links. It’s the ‘in’ idea of the moment, and that’s all they are talking about. But it isn’t convincing to me.

To quote Steven Levitt:

What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.

Freakonomics: “Peak Oil”:Welcome to the Media’s New Version of Shark Attacks

This observation sums it all up for me. I just don’t have time to contemplate end of the world scenarios, I guess. And the guy bailed on the whole group after I posted that. Do you think I was coming on too strong?

Postscript

Query answered. No, I was not coming on too strong. People want to believe that fantasies can occur in the real world:

…and it is someone’s task to relieve them of this misunderstanding. It might as well be me.