Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Published in Environment


Environmentalism's Waning Light

These two WaPo stories were side-by-side in my inbox today:

Naturally, the environmentalists have no where to go but to the Democrats (aside from the UN, of course, but that's a different matter). Yet the irony of the articles' wry placement reveals the sad state of affairs when a dwindling faction completely in the pocket of a single party begins to lose its influence. Big labor may be fully Democrat, but they're still collecting (often forced) dues and scaring up (often literally) votes so as to remain a force to be reckoned with. Environmentalists are beginning to see the limits of their influence.

But we haven't yet rid ourselves of radical environmentalism. Case in point: The new and improved $60 "Earth Day" light bulb. I don't expect this novelty to win over any new converts, but the fact that the Obama administration spent $10 million dollars during an economic crisis for a more expensive light bulb (and spent who knows how much political capital to pass legislation forcing Americans to buy said light bulb) reveals the lingering influence of the green industrial complex.
Categories > Environment


The Global Midieval Warm Period

Steven Hayward, that prickly thorn in the side of climate change scientists who may soon have his opinion forcibly tattooed on his body by diversity-loving eco-liberals in jackboots, notes a new study by Syracuse University which seems to prove that the Medieval Warm Period was a global phenomenon. This discovery refutes a key argument of the environmental movement by showing that pre-SUV eras were just as warm as we are today. Just nother chip in the ol' climate change iceberg.
Categories > Environment


$10 Million Prize for $50 Light Bulb

Awarded by Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices "affordable for American families." There was also a "Buy America" component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.

Now the winning bulb is on the market.

The price is $50.

Categories > Environment


Liberals: You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Part 2

I previously mocked the Obama administration's absurd argument that Obamacare would become affordable if the human race would simply refrain from procreating. Not to be left out of an absurdity, the environmental movement has now jumped on the bandwagon - even gone one further - by claiming that the world can be saved if people would just stop breeding.

During a discussion series on Monday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., speaker and activist Kavita Ramdas argued that contraceptives should be part of a strategy to save the planet, calling lower birth rates a "common sense" part of a climate-change reduction strategy.

Once again, human beings are the disease to be medically prevented or terminated in order to effectuate liberal policies. Liberalism seems to contain an inherent antipathy toward human beings. Of course, this environmental strategy is simply a repetition of the international "population control" movement which followed in the wake of the discredited "population bomb" theory (see Steven Hayward's Population Bomb Epic Fail).

Conservative and religious (especially Catholic) thinkers have consistently opposed the liberal urge to solve every problem by eliminating (literally) the human element. And history has consistently and unanimously proved the conservative (shall we call it, pro-life) position be correct and the liberals' (shall we say, culture of death) posture to be stunningly wrong. But liberalism just doesn't seem to be able to shed its addiction to human genocide. 

Categories > Environment


Energy Subsidies and Cronyism

Allow me to follow up on my post on the Volt and its $250,000 / car taxpayer-funded subsidies by citing John Hinderaker's Power line post on ExxonMobile's good citizenship. He notes:

The Obama administration has devoted more energy to demonizing the oil and gas industry than just about anything else over the last three years. It has done this partly to deflect blame for its own lousy performance on the economy in general and energy costs in particular, and partly to justify transferring wealth from taxpayers to its cronies and supporters in the "green" energy sector.

But the bit I'd like to highlight follows:

Currently, the administration is campaigning to eliminate oil and gas "subsidies." The first question is what this means; when liberals talk about "subsidies" in this context, they usually mean the same routine tax deductions that are available to businesses generally. To the extent that there may be any actual subsidies, they are extremely minor. So, by all means, let's do away with them, along with subsidies for all other types of energy. Let's allow energy technologies to compete in the marketplace on their own merits. What would the effect of eliminating all energy subsidies be? Not, I am afraid, what the Obama administration has in mind. This is a slide from my Cronyism 101 presentation:


The administration demonizes disfavored American citizens, companies and industries as a tactic to increase its own political power, and slide money to its cronies and supporters. In the long term, this may be the most destructive legacy of the Obama administration.

Categories > Environment


Alas, poor Volt, I knew thee well...

The Chevy Volt is apparently going the way of the Dodo. GM has temporarily suspended production of the electric car. No surprises there - electric cars are about as efficient as windmills and the rest of the renewable-energy scam. But if you've not been paying attention to the electric car debacle, you may be surprised to learn that, in the wake of the Volt's utter failure, Ford and Toyota are preparing to reveal their own electric cars.

What explains this madness? Liberal radicalism? Environmental extremism? Democratic sycophancy?

Try sensible profit motive. If that seems ludicrous, consider:

Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it - a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

As Ed Morrisey concludes:

Now, why would two auto manufacturers jump into a market with almost no demand and a high failure rate?  Could it be because they're looking for the same kind of subsidies that gives them somewhere around $250,000 per vehicle before the car is ever sold?

The Obama administration has no regard whatsoever for taxpayer hardships or economic sustainability. He is motivated by the purely ideological goals of environmentalism and social democracy - goals which stand in direct opposition to economic recovery and individual rights. Obama is wantonly wasting money on liberal pet-projects in the midst of a debt crisis. He has neither understanding nor concern for the plight of struggling American (would-be) workers and has obviously prioritized his radical green agenda above American prosperity. One hopes that voters will not reward him for this inverted ethic.   

Categories > Environment


Pipeline Politics

Of course it should be built, but I disagree with Republicans who think the politics of this are bad for the President--e.g., our friends at Powerline. Obama's premise is that he has either lost the economy/jobs issue, or it can be at least neutralized by improving unemployment numbers. In any case, he absolutely must have the enviros with him. Once again Obama shows he is much more clever at politics than his decent but often impulsive opponents.

Update: Joel Kotkin's two economies (regulatory NIMBY and dirty manufacturing) analysis supports my point.

Categories > Politics


Tea Party at the Supreme Court (Update)

The EPA faced tough questioning at SCOTUS.  Justice Alito to counsel for the government/EPA:  "If you related the facts of this case . . . to an ordinary homeowner, don't you think most ordinary homeowners would say this kind of thing can't happen in the United States?"  The case involved an alleged wetlands protection violation and whether the owners had a right to a judicial hearing.  Chief Justice Roberts to counsel for the government:  "What would you do, Mr. Stewart, if you received this compliance order? You don't think your property has wetlands on it and you get this compliance order from the EPA. What would you do?"  Counsel responded meekly about obeying the law. See pp. 36-37 of the transcript of the oral argument. See pp. 42-44 for the government's reasoning for not granting hearings to those being prosecuted by the EPA. This is not mere Tocquevillean soft despotism! Even the liberal justices expressed sympathy for the landowners.

The Pacific Legal Foundation argued for the plaintiff landowners, the Sacketts. It will put up the audio later in the week. Someone who attended the oral argument told me that Mrs.Sackett had to restrain her husband from doing fist pumps when they heard the hostile questioning from the justices. 

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that the President paid a surprise visit to the EPA yesterday, bucking up the staff and cheering them on. "When we clean up our nation's waterways, we generate more tourists for our local communities."  In the Sacketts' backyard? Of course Obama allowed, in one of his typical throwaway lines, "we have an obligation every single day to think about how can we do our business a little bit better."

Categories > Courts

Foreign Affairs

Repelling Europe's Advances

Last night, the House came together in a rare moment of bi-partisanship and patriotic unity by firmly and unequivocally telling the European Union what they can do with the new environmental laws they've decided to pass on the United States. Apparently, the EU forgot that they don't actually have the authority to regulate non-EU countries which have decided to retain their full sovereignty.

The EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) has said that, starting next year, it will charge U.S. aircraft for carbon emissions whenever they land or take off in Europe.

The House responded decisively.

The lower chamber approved H.R. 2594 by unanimous consent after a brief debate in which most Republicans and Democrats said they reject the ETS as an extra-territorial plan to fine American aircraft that was imposed without any input from the U.S.

Of course, a few Democrats [surprise: Massachusetts and California Democrats] couldn't help but oppose U.S. sovereignty and economic interests in support of hysterical environmentalism and ever-expanding internationalism. But that's to be expected from the far left. The EU "tax grab" is estimated to cost 78,500 American jobs if implemented - a small price for the accomplishment of foisting EU-style climate-change legislation on the U.S. 

Then again, many in the bi-partisan majority were likely scrambling to save 78,000 jobs rather than standing on principle in their vote. Multi-national regulations aren't a simple matter to unravel - they depend on government-ratified treaties and indecipherable bilateral agreements. But the EU seems to have neglected that multi-national regulations require multiple nations. Eurocrats have become a bit drunk on their heady draught of super-national supremacy in the EU. One hopes the U.S. continues to have the fortitude to check their untoward advanced.

If this is a case of European over-reach, as I expect, the U.S. should fight fire with fire. If the Europeans turn out to be within their authority, leadership will be required to revisit the license granted to foreign nations in our treaty agreements.

Categories > Foreign Affairs


Castles to Cages

Prague is a beautiful city in which I spend a bit of time. Particularly since the 14th century reign of Charles IV, Prague claims inclusion among the most beautiful cities in the world. However, the distorted communist regime which seized control in the 20th century polluted the city with "communist architecture." Czechs refer to the identical rows of square, multi-story communist-era apartment buildings as "rabbit cages."

Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros take up the theme of architectural design in their Guernica / On the Commons article, "The Architect Has No Clothes." The authors explain "architectural myopia" as the condition which produces "contemporary eyesores."

Laboratory results show conclusively that architects literally see the world differently from non-architects. Not only do architects notice and look for different aspects of the environment than other people; their brains seem to synthesize an understanding of the world that has notable differences from natural reality. Instead of a contextual world of harmonious geometric relationships and connectedness, architects tend to see a world of objects set apart from their contexts, with distinctive, attention-getting qualities.

There are many such confirming studies. For example, Gifford et al. (2002) surveyed other research and noted that "architects did not merely disagree with laypersons about the aesthetic qualities of buildings, they were unable to predict how laypersons would assess buildings, even when they were explicitly asked to do so."

Unsurprisingly, the authors heavily blame this myopia on the lengthy education of architects.

Up to about 1900, architects were understood to be practicing an adaptive craft, in which a building was an inseparable part of a dynamic streetscape and a neighborhood.

With the coming of the industrial revolution, and its emphasis on interchangeable parts, the traditional conception of architecture that was adaptive to context began to change. A building became an interchangeable industrial design product, conveying an image, and it mattered a great deal how attention-getting that image was.

It is telling that "the early modernists saw their work as a revolution." A "Novelty Spectacle" approach is now the "dominant model for architecture." And as with all crafts founded upon a skewered, modernist view of human nature, modern architecture fails to satisfy human needs on mental, emotional, spiritual and biological levels.

I previously noted, in an article titled "Beauty and the Bibles of Stone," an address by Pope Benedict XVI on the purpose and effect of beauty in religious architecture - specifically, the medieval cathedrals. Comparing these architectural masterpieces and they effect they have on the human soul, one cannot but grieve for the impoverishment of the modern craft.

Categories > Environment