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Carbon and Politics

by coldwarrior ( 77 Comments › )
Filed under Economy, Environmentalism, Global Warming Hoax, Open thread, Politics, Regulation at August 5th, 2015 - 4:40 am

A quick drive by post:


It’s just chock full o’ bad news.  Can/Will the GOP stop this? Do note how politics plays into Obama’s energy plan:


President Obama’s Clean Power Plan: All Cost, No Benefit

By Benjamin Zycher

On Monday President Obama announced the final “clean power plan” regulation for greenhouse gas emissions from electric generating plants, the centerpiece of the broader Climate Action Plan being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. Amid the many assertions about the looming climate crisis confronting “the planet,” about which more below, one central parameter was conspicuous by its absence. To wit: What effect on future temperatures—that, after all, is the supposed benefit of the rule—would this regulation provide?

Interestingly enough, the president did not tell us. Nor did the EPA provide an estimate of temperature effects so obviously central to the discussion when it published the rule in draft form in June last year. Amazingly, EPA omits this even from its regulatory impact analysis of the final rule: Table 4-1 (“Climate Effects”) informs us that the “global climate impacts” from reduced emissions of carbon dioxide (presumably, all greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalents), of ozone, of particulates, and of other greenhouse gases have not been quantified or monetized. EPA directs interested readers to the administration’s deeply flawed analysis of the “social cost of carbon,” which does not answer this central question; and to its own “integrated science assessments” and to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, without specific references. (Neither the ISAs nor IPCC answers this basic question either.) EPA does note, however, that it “assess[es] these co-benefits qualitatively because we do not have sufficient confidence in available data or methods.” Wow.

It is not as if this question cannot be answered; that is what climate models are for, whatever their massive failings. EPA itself uses the MAGICC/SCENGEN model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. So: Let’s apply that model not just to the clean power plan, but to the broader climate action plan, which envisions a 17 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020. The temperature reduction in the year 2100: fifteen one-thousandths of a degree. The effect would be too small even to be measured, let alone to affect sea levels and cyclones and all the rest. If we include the pseudo-agreement between the U.S. and China that was announced last November (even though the Chinese effectively disavowed it almost immediately), we can assume an additional 10 percent reduction by the U.S. by 2025, with no actual reduction by the Chinese. This gets us another one one-hundredth of a degree, for a grand total of twenty-five one-thousandths of a degree. A similar exercise assuming large cuts by the Chinese and by the rest of the industrialized world, costing $600-750 billion per year inflicted disproportionately upon the world’s poor, would reduce global temperatures by about four tenths of a degree by 2100.

And so the reluctance on the part of the president and the EPA to tell us what we are getting in exchange for a large increase in power costs and reliability risks is easy to explain: The answer is embarrassing, so much so that even inserting it into a Friday news dump would not work. That is why the EPA’s analysis of the new rule assumes a deeply dubious array of “co-benefits” in the form of particulate reductions and other impacts that are simply invented out of whole cloth and/or that already are counted as justifications for such other regulatory policies as the proposed ozone rule, the proposed particulate rule, and the utility mercury rule recently invalidated by the Supreme Court. Without such machinations, the clean power plan would collapse as a regulatory framework, because it is all cost and no benefit, even apart from its legal weaknesses now about to be the subject of massive litigation.

The president during his comments did not skimp in terms of his description of the adverse climate impacts awaiting mankind if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced substantially. As with an estimate of the temperature effects of his policies, he did not offer much actual evidence. Accordingly: The temperature record is ambiguous, as is the correlation of GHG concentrations and the rate of sea-level increases. The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice covers do not differ by a statistically significant amount from the respective 1981-2010 averages. The Arctic ice cover is near the bottom, but within, the relevant range, and the Antarctic ice cover is near the top—and exceeds in some months—the relevant range. Tornado counts and intensities are in a long-term decline. The frequency and accumulated energy of tropical cyclones are near their lowest levels since satellite measurements began in the early 1970s. U.S. wildfires are not correlated with the temperature record or with increases in GHG concentrations. The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows no trend since 1895. Over the last century, flooding in the U.S. has not been correlated with increased GHG concentrations. World per capita food production has increased and undernourishment has decreased, both more-or-less monotonically, since 1993.

It is no accident that the Clean Power Plan would raise energy costs disproportionately in red states, thus reducing their competitive advantages over blue ones? Do not underestimate the power of wealth redistribution as a force driving policymaking in the Beltway. The president repeatedly used the phrase “carbon pollution,” a propaganda term designed to end debate before it begins by assuming the answer to the underlying policy question. Carbon dioxide is not “carbon” and it is not a pollutant, as a minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself. By far the most important GHG in terms of the radiative (warming) properties of the atmosphere is water vapor; does the president believe that it too is a “pollutant”? Presumably he does not, because ocean evaporation is a natural process. Well, so are volcanic eruptions, but no one argues that the massive amounts of particulates and toxins emitted by volcanoes are not pollutants. The climate debate is desperately in need of honesty and seriousness, two conditions characteristic of neither the Beltway nor the climate industry.

Benjamin Zycher is the John G. Searle scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Declining Middle Class Wages and Productivity

by coldwarrior ( 92 Comments › )
Filed under Academia, Economy, Open thread, Regulation, taxation at July 6th, 2015 - 6:00 am

Good Monday Morning. The High Priests of the Dismal Science have attempted to answer a nagging a question that I have had. Why are Middle Class wages wages stagnant or receding since 1995? They get a good portion of the equation that I had not thought of…Productivity. They do miss the gorilla in the room…ever increasing government regulations that stifle innovation and gains in productivity.

Have a read and chew on it for a while.

Whatever Happened To Those Middle Class Income Gains?

By Isabel Sawhill

This year’s Economic Report of the President has an interesting analysis of the sources of the slowdown in income gains among the middle class. Given all the attention given to the issue of growing inequality, especially between those at the top and the other 90 percent you might think that was the major economic problem facing the nation. But no, it turns out that the biggest source of the slowdown is the poor performance of productivity since 1995 compared to the earlier postwar period.

The question the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) asks is what if productivity growth from 1973 to 2013 had continued at the rate of the previous 25 years from 1948-1973? The answer is that the typical household would have had an additional $30,000 in income. (CEA report, p. 33)

The CEA goes on to ask parallel “what if” questions about income inequality and female labor force participation. How much better off would the typical middle class household be if income gains had been broadly shared after 1973 and female labor force participation had not levelled off after 1995? These changes produce smaller effects on middle class incomes of $9,000 and $3,000 respectively. However, all three factors combined can explain a whopping $50,000 in income foregone by our typical family. In other words, these families would have almost twice as much income if it hadn’t been for the decline in productivity growth, the rise in income inequality, and the levelling off of female participation rates.

The very large role of slower productivity growth is surprising. After all, we have seen an explosion in technology fed by the increasing power of computers. Smart phones, driverless cars, computer-assisted design and manufacturing, robots, drones, and the innovations they have made possible should have boosted productivity smartly. But as Nobel-prize winning economist Robert Solow once quipped, ” You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” So what’s going on here?

According to the CEA, starting in 1973, labor productivity growth slowed dramatically to only 1.4 percent annually from its earlier pace of 2.8 percent from 1948-1973. (It has recovered somewhat over the last two decades but has not matched its earlier high levels.) They cite the exhaustion of pent-up innovations from World War II, reduced public investment, dislocations associated with a new international monetary system, and the oil shocks of the 1970s.

Other experts might add other factors to the list. Economist Robert Gordon believes that the technological breakthroughs of the late twentieth century cannot match earlier innovations such as those represented by electricity, cars, the telephone, and radio. It’s also possible that we have not yet seen the full effects of the computer revolution. My colleague, Barry Bosworth, has shown that a lot of productivity gains are occurring in the service sector and that it isn’t just capital deepening that is producing these gains. It is everything from better management to human capital investment and organizational innovation – all the things we cannot measure very well but which show up in the data as an unexplained residual.

In the meantime, the new technologies are contributing to growing income inequality. Because these technologies are replacing unskilled and even some medium-skilled jobs, we are left with the worst of both worlds – disappointing increases in productivity and declining opportunities for those without the education and skills to benefit from the new technologies.

The solution cannot be to slow down the pace of technology. It must be to encourage innovation, retrain workers, invest in the next generation, and help those dislocated by the changes. Yet we are not investing in research, in education, and in infrastructure in the same way we did in earlier decades. Taxes need to be reformed to provide greater simplicity, fairness, and growth. Policies such as paid leave, child care, and more flexible work places would encourage more second earners to join the labor force. Most innovation, to be sure, occurs in the private sector, but it has little incentive to invest as long as overall demand is constrained by policies that fail to mitigate financial instability or that are focused on short-term spending cuts in public investments combined with a longer-term explosion of consumption-oriented spending on the big entitlement programs. Until elected officials act to recreate these underpinnings of growth, any permanent improvements in middle class incomes are unlikely to be realized.

Isabel Sawhill is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution.  She co-directs the Budgeting for National Priorities Project as well as the Center on Children and Families.

Mars Attacks: The Department of Education Must Go

by Mars ( 146 Comments › )
Filed under Academia, Barack Obama, Blogmocracy, Climate, Communism, Democratic Party, Education, Environmentalism, Fascism, Free Speech, Global Warming Hoax, government, Guest Post, Liberal Fascism, Marxism, Political Correctness, Progressives, Regulation, Science, Socialism, Technology at June 16th, 2015 - 7:00 am


The government is helping fund a Minecraft-style game for teaching kids about the environment

Minecraft is a cultural phenomenon. The block-based exploration and crafting game was snapped up by Microsoft for $2.5 billion last year and has helped inspire competitors from giant toy companies like Lego.

Even the government is interested in building on Minecraft’s success: The Department of Education is helping fund a project known as “Eco” that looks a lot like Minecraft, except with a few added twists: There’s a looming ecological disaster and players must band together to make a community — agreeing on laws and living in harmony with the environment.

If they fail, the world dies forever. Strange Loop Games, the company behind the game, describes it a “global survival game” and says failure results in “server-wide perma death.”

Eco is designed to help teach middle school students about environmental science and was awarded a nearly $900,000 grant from the Department of Education last month. It has completed a test phase where 60 students in five classes tried it out, according to the grant contract. The prototype for that test run also received a DOE grant of around $150,000.

Here’s what the game prototype looks like in action:

The latest grant will help build out new features, including a teacher dashboard, and let researchers figure out how effective the game is by collecting data on 150 students in 10 classrooms. Half of the classes will use the normal environmental teaching plan, while the other half will supplement the curriculum with Eco — letting the developers see if the game actually helps boost students’ understanding of ecology.

Minecraft itself is already used by some educators for things like building replicas of ancient Roman apartment buildings and teaching problem-solving.

Understand, Minecraft is a phenomena amongst the younger crowd. It is a huge sprawling creative sandbox that allows the children to experiment with construction and even computer design and programming. This atrocity is something else entirely. It is also designed for programming, programming children to become Eco-nuts. It is developed using a gameplay that the kids are familiar with and enjoy, but adds in all of the Eco nonsense that you could ever hope a future generation of children would need to become good little “citizens of the world”.

Minecraft meets ecology simulation in an open-world educational game

By Charlie Hall on Jun 09, 2015 at 3:30p @Charlie_L_Hall
Stay Connected. Follow Polygon Now!

Veteran studio Strange Loop Games is embarking on an ambitious project to create a new kind of open world multiplayer game where the survival of every player on the server depends on careful management of in-game resources. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Eco hopes to become a platform for teaching middle school students about ecology in a communal, cloud-based game world.

Strange Loop calls their project a “global survival game.” In Eco’s fiction there is an impending disaster looming over humanity — an event like a meteor strike, a drought or a flood. The clock is ticking, and players must work together to prevent the onrushing apocalypse or risk “server-wide perma death.”

The tools at players disposal are familiar to anyone who’s played Minecraft. Eco’s world is a lush paradise, modeled after the Pacific Northwest, filled with plants and animals. But unlike Minecraft, real ecological forces are at play in the background.

“Resources are finite,” states the game’s website. “Chop down every tree and fail to plant more? They won’t be growing back. Hunt every elk for food? They’re now extinct. Pollute a section of land with mining runoffs? Your crops are poisoned. This ecosystem is your only lifeline in a race against time.

“You’re facing two existential crises simultaneously: an external threat that you must avert, and the threat of causing your own destruction. A rock and a hard place.”

But the game doesn’t want to be preachy, it just wants to attempt to simulate the real forces at play on our planet, give players a sense of ownership and empower them with the tools the make change.

“In Eco the goal isn’t to save the environment,” said studio head John Krajewski earlier this year in the YouTube video above. “The goal is to build. The goal is to create a civilization.”

In the background the game is constantly keeping track of real complex data, which allows players to see the changes being felt by in-game populations in near real time. While players on the server will be given free choice, the entire community will also have the opportunity to vote on laws that will change how they’re allowed to interact with the environment.

“Every law in Eco needs to be backed up with scientific documentation,” said Krajewski, “that’s based on the actual data that’s coming from the game.”

The game will run on a server in the cloud, which will allow players to access the game from anywhere — including at home or in the classroom. Teachers will be given a toolset to allow them to tailor individual worlds to meet their educational needs, effectively letting them create specific scenarios and influence the game world in real time.

“The classroom time is the chance to have the council meeting. … That’s where we see the role of the teacher is very important.”

The promise of the game has even captured the interest of the U.S. Department of Education, which has given Strange Loop Games a two year, $900,000 grant to develop the game. There is also a Kickstarter expected later this year.

“Eco is possibly the first video game where your character can actually save the world,” says the website, “because the alternative is for once possible.”

The overarching themes of “save the world” is worrying enough, it’s when you get into what the game is designed for is when things get really terrifying. They have actually set it up where you “design laws” for your enviro friendly civilization.

This is blatant programming of children, you take something kids are already enjoying, you change it around to fit an agenda and then you force feed the kids the final result in the school system. If a company tried something this blatant they would be shut down and the heads would probably be thrown in jail. Your federal government at work. Changing hearts and minds, by mandate.

Mars Attacks: Tell a Big Enough Lie: The U.S. Obesity “Epidemic”

by Mars ( 148 Comments › )
Filed under American Exceptionalism, Barack Obama, Blogmocracy, Communism, Cult of Obama, Democratic Party, Education, Environmentalism, Fascism, Food and Drink, Free Speech, Guest Post, Health Care, Healthcare, Marxism, Media, Political Correctness, Progressives, Regulation at May 18th, 2015 - 8:44 am

You’ve all heard it again and again on the news. The United States is number one in obesity worldwide. Or is it number two, with Mexico now taking the top spot? Would you believe it’s none of the above? The United States is number 18. Not a great number but not worth the outrage and panic the left puts forward. This may surprise everyone with the constant hammering by the Left and the Media about America being the fattest country on earth. This is interesting in the face of these facts. This report was released this month, but I have seen this information as far back as three years ago. Yes, they continued to lie to us even with their own WHO and the CIA Factbook both contradicting their narrative and containing the real data for the entire time that they have promoted the lie.

Why would they do this? Actually it’s pretty obvious in the face of Universal Healthcare, Moochelle Obama, and the school lunch program “reworking”. The left is determined to save your life no matter what you want. It is once again about control. As long as the myth is out there, it gives them reasons to limit what you are allowed to eat. They can place limits on what can be sold, they can place limits on what you buy and eat, they can tell your children they are not allowed to bring lunches from home and must eat their Moochelle mandated Kale and Quinoa salad. They are getting more arrogant about their lies lately, even with the true facts out there in print, they will still throw the lie forward again and again, knowing that the press will follow like obedient lapdogs.

Try finding the true statistics on Obesity online. I’ve been trying to find the reports that I originally found, and the search engines are flooded with nothing but the lie. I was lucky this story came around recently otherwise I wouldn’t have had anything to post. Especially since the WHO reports (yes, there are several going back years) and the CIA Factbook report were behind paywalls. I have no doubts there will be thousands of articles about American Obesity posted in the next few weeks in order to bury this CNN report back to where it won’t be seen.


How paradise became the fattest place in the world

By Meera Senthilingam, for CNN

Updated 5:44 AM ET, Fri May 1, 2015

“Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world”

(CNN)They’re remote and beautiful. A place many long to escape to for sun, sea and serenity. But the Pacific islands have another reality for the residents living there — a life based on imported food, little exercise and remote access to healthcare.

The result? The most obese nations in the world.

‘A deadly epidemic’

“One third of the world is either overweight or obese right now,” says Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Gakidou’s recent paper used data from countries across the world to identify the global burden of obesity and trends seen in different populations. “The Pacific islands have a lot of countries with very high levels of obesity,” she adds.

Among the top 10 most obese countries or territories globally, nine are Pacific islands, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), making this paradise the fattest region of the world.

“Up to 95% of the adult population are overweight or obese in some countries,” says Temo Waqanivalu, program officer with the WHO’s Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases department. As a Fijian Native, Waqanivalu has worked on the issue for over a decade and seen the epidemic evolve first-hand, aided by the cultural acceptance of bigger bodies as beautiful. “In Polynesia the perception of ‘big is beautiful’ does exist,” he says. “[But] big is beautiful, fat is not. That needs to get through.”

Percentages for obesity range from 35% to 50% throughout the islands, according to the WHO. The Cook Islands top the ranks with just over 50% of its population classified as obese.

“It’s a deadly epidemic,” says Waqanivalu.

Measuring up

Obesity is measured through an individual’s body mass index (BMI) and a measurement above 30kg/m² is defined as clinically obese.

Pacific islanders tend to have a naturally big build, says Jonathan Shaw, associate director of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Australia. “With Pacific islanders, their frame is typically bigger,” he explains, “but that still doesn’t account for the obesity we see.”

Poor diets and reduced exercise have become a major public health concern for the region as they are not only a cause of obesity — associated diseases are also rife, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, the latter of which has a known genetic basis among locals.

“This is a population with a genetic predisposition and when exposed to Western lifestyles results in high rates of diabetes,” says Shaw. “[This is] undoubtedly caused by high rates of obesity.”

The epidemic began through the tropical region turning its back on traditional diets of fresh fish and vegetables and replacing them with highly processed and energy-dense food such as white rice, flour, canned foods, processed meats and soft drinks imported from other countries. One of the root causes of the change is the price tag.

“All over the world, poor quality and highly energy-dense food is the cheapest,” says Shaw. As demand for healthier alternatives remain low, their market is small.

This is exemplified by fishermen often selling the fish they catch to in turn purchase canned tuna. “[You] can buy a few meals with what you get selling fish,” says Waqanivalu.

The new food environment locals find themselves living in has accelerated the trend towards consuming processed food. “It’s significantly cheaper,” adds Waqanivalu. “It’s cheaper to buy a bottle of coke than a bottle of water.”

As with other regions of the world, increased urbanization and sedentary office cultures have further aided the rise in obesity among Pacific islanders.

“A lot of physical activity was in the domain of work,” says Waqanivalu, referring to fisherman heading out to sea and others working their land on plantations. “The concept of leisure-time activity is new,” he says.

The tropical climate desired by sun seekers is less attractive to those needing to keep fit. “In tropical countries there is a desire to avoid physical work and even walk,” says Shaw. “We’re all driven to conserve energy.”

All in the genes?

Some scientists believe that Pacific island populations have evolved to maintain their larger build — a concept known as the “Thrifty Gene” hypothesis. For this region of the world, the concept is based on the fact Pacific islanders once endured long journeys at sea and those who fared best stored enough energy in the form of fat to survive their journey.

“We have the remnants of those people … and their metabolism as well,” says Waqanivalu. The increased risk of obesity among native Pacific islanders is shown on the islands of Fiji, where the population has a more mixed ethnicity. The country stands at the lower end of the region’s spectrum with 36.4% of the adult population classed as obese. Just more than half of the Fijian population are native iTaukei, with the remainder mostly of Indian origin, according to the CIA World Factbook. “That explains the lower rates,” says Waqanivalu.

The naturally higher BMI of the people in the region has, however, prompted calls to increase the cut-off for the level of BMI denoting obesity in the Pacific region from 30 to 32 kg/m². A lower cut-off has been suggested for Asian populations based on the same premise, as Asian countries — including Korea, Myanmar and Cambodia — make up the majority of the lowest 10 countries globally in terms of obesity..

Childhood consequences

After the global trends in obesity seen in her study, Gakidou’s real concern is the rates her team saw in children in the Pacific. “The rate for children is high … about one in five children [are obese],” she says. “This has repercussions in the long term.”

Repercussions include diabetes, which is already a burden on health services in the region. “The concern in children would be early onset of diabetes,” says Gakidou.

The WHO has made a series of recommendations to improve the situation and is implementing them through policy changes in the countries. “Type II diabetes is emerging in young children 10-11 years old,” says Waqanivalu, who has also heard reports of a child as young as seven years old being affected. “[It’s the] tip of the iceberg in children.”

But Waqanilu is confident his department is making some progress through recommendations such as increased taxation on soft drinks, improving trade in the region, controlled marketing of products targeting children through schools, and policies to promote healthier diets and exercise.

“The whole food environment needs to be changed,” he says. This has been the ambition of the Healthy Islands Vision — initiated by the ministers of health for the Pacific island countries in 1995 — which aims to combat obesity and diabetes among its health priorities.

Health systems also need strengthening to better handle the consequences of obesity. “We have definitely made steps but need to make strides for this to be sorted in our time,” says Waqanivalu.

Is there an obesity epidemic in the US? Yes, definitely. Does it help to lie about the statistics? No, not unless you have an agenda to promote.