How Environmental Organizations Are Destroying The Environment

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

The Washington Post reports:

During an April visit to the San Francisco home of billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, who created a political action committee in March to target lawmakers supporting the Keystone pipeline, Obama noted that the issue of climate change “is near and dear” to Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor.

“But — and I mentioned this to Tom and Kat and a few folks right before I came out here — the politics of this are tough,” Obama added, according to a White House transcript. “Because if you haven’t seen a raise in a decade; if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater . . . you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your number one concern. And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by.”

I loved Obama’s description of economic trouble, characterizing it as “if your house mortgage is underwater” … around my place, that’s what is affectionately known as a “First World Problem”. But it beautifully illustrates the close relationship between economic want and lack of concern for the environment, even among people with money.

In this post, I will discuss the link between CO2 alarmism and environmental destruction, and how the work of the big environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace and WWF is actively harming the environment.

Let me start with the two most important facts in the discussion about the global environment. First, half the people on the planet live on less than $2 and change per day. That’s why I said having your house mortgage underwater is a “First World Problem”. People living on $2 per day don’t have house mortgages—most of them don’t own houses, or much of anything beyond a few rags of clothing.

Second, only developed countries have ever cleaned up their own environment. Only when a country’s inhabitants are adequately fed and clothed and sheltered from the storms can they afford to think about the environment. And far from cleaning up the environment as wealthy countries can afford to do, people in poor countries are very destructive to the environment. Folks in poor countries will burn every tree if they have to, and you would too if your kids were crying. They will eat every monkey and consume the chimpanzees as the final course, and you would too if your family were starving. They will bemoan the necessity, they don’t like doing it any more than you or I would … but they will do it. Here’s the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic:

haiti and dr

Figure 1. Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Guess which country contains eco-criminals that can afford to use fossil fuels, and which country contains nature-lovers who are dependent on natural renewable organic biomass for energy …

Now, given that poverty is the greatest threat to the global environment, the inescapable conclusion is that the only way the global environment stands a chance is if poor countries can develop economically.

And that is why the anti-development, pro-expensive energy stance of the large environmental NGOs is one of the great environmental tragedies of our times.

Here’s the chain of causality:

1. Climate alarmists, with the strong support of the major environmental NGOs like Greenpeace and WWF, declared war on CO2.

2. The method that they chose to fight CO2 was to discourage fossil fuel use by making energy more expensive, using a combination of taxation, legislation, international pressure, and expensive subsidies to achieve that end. Obama’s War on Coal, announced today, is just one of hundreds of examples of the wealthy NGOs and the rich governments working to increase the price of energy.

3. Since energy is development, expensive energy keeps poor countries in poverty. When the World Bank denies loans for coal fired plants in India, the poor suffer … but the environment suffers more. Until they can afford to use coal and gas, they’ll run the country on wood … I refer you back to Figure 1 for how well that works out.

4. Expensive energy slows a country’s economic development, and as President Obama pointed out, people worried about money don’t pay attention to the environment.

This ends up in a bizarre position—the actions of the major environmental NGOs are ensuring continued environmental destruction in the developing world.

I learned about the connection between poverty and environmental destruction in part through sad experience. I discussed my conversation with the indigent Costa Rican firewood seller, and how he was cutting his firewood in the National Forest, in my post on the parrotfish. Here’s the story of a longer and sadder interaction with poverty and the environment.

I live surrounded by forest now, as I did when I was a child. I draw strength from it. My stepdad was a logger, as was his father, and I’ve worked in the woods setting choker. I’ve seen good logging, bad logging, and downright criminal logging, and I’ve always been passionate about protecting the forest and about ethical logging practices. Here’s the view of the redwood forest from my deck earlier, still rainy today …

the trees at my house

For a couple years in the late 1980s, I was the Country Director of the Solomon Islands program of a development organization, something along the lines of “Save the Children” but with a more general focus. Among the projects I ran was the “Walkabout Sawmill” program. It was a winner. Instead of giving money for disaster relief after a cyclone, we bought some portable sawmills made next door in Papua New Guinea. We trained some teams of guys to use the sawmills, and sent them around to the villages to mill the trees that had been blown over by the cyclone. The villagers got wood, our guys learned to use the sawmills. Then when the project was over, we sold the sawmills on credit to the teams of guys, so that they could use them to log their own native lands.

Why was I glad to assist them in logging the forest? Because I knew that it was far preferable to the only other option, which was the rapacious Asian logging companies coming in and clear-cutting huge swaths of land. Because of their poverty, the Solomons were selling their patrimony, their incredibly valuable tropical hardwoods, for pennies.

And how did their poverty lead to the loss of their forests? I can give you the answer.

When a country is poor, you can buy anything.

For several years in the late 1980s I lived on a coral atoll near a large volcanic island with the most euphonious name of “Vella Lavella”, in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. At that time the Solomons had extensive tropical forests full of very valuable hardwood. Overseas logging companies were coming in, paying pennies to the villagers for their logs, paying off the customs inspectors, and shipping away barge after barge of the treasure and the patrimony of the islands, their tropical trees. So I was happy to be able to offer the people the alternative of harvesting and tending their own forest.

So at that time, a Malaysian company made a move to get the rights to log all of Vella Lavella island. Some people said no, but there were some that wanted it. There’s a kind of local island council, with about five “Big Men”, local leaders, who make the decisions. People were passionate about the logging issue, as you might imagine. There was a meeting of the island council, and the logging company made their presentation. The big men, to their credit, voted the logging down.

So the company pulled out their wallets, and bought them off right there on the spot. After the folks had left, they declared the Council back in session, and voted the logging rights to the company. The only problem was, the results of the first meeting had already been entered in the official record.

Of course, it’s the Solomons, and these were local guys untutored in the criminal arts. So they just took some whiteout, and whited out where they had said “No logging”, and wrote the revised vote right over the old one.

When I heard that, I was both amused and outraged. So some of us got the Public Solicitor to take on the case, he was enthusiastic back then, it was before his illness. He ended up catching the disease that a lot of white guys catch in the tropics, it comes in a bottle and makes you feel terrible, but this was before he got sick. So he argued the case brilliantly and got the decision thrown out of court, we all cheered him on and felt like we’d won.

When the court decision was announced, the logging company did the obvious thing—this time they cheated according to the rules. They paid the island councilors off, but this time they paid them before the council meeting, so there was no need to change the official record … I was mondo bummed, as were my local friends.

So that inexpensive purchase of the island councilors, I heard it was ten grand US$ per man, gave the logging company the right to negotiate a contract with the locals if they wanted to sign. One afternoon, some of the young Vella Lavella guys made the trip over to the island where I lived to ask if I would help them. I bought the beers, and we talked about the logging company. They said that they’d been agitating to convince the people to keep the company out and take care of their own forests. But the sentiment among the people was against them. They wanted the easy money, just sit back and let the company do the work.

So they asked me, would I look at the contract and tell them what it was that logging company wanted them to sign? I said sure, and they gave me a copy of the accursed document.

My friends, I’ve seen some sly, crafty ways to cheat and cozen someone with a pen and a piece of paper, but this one fair reeked of sulfur. Inside it, black was white and white black. Outrageous things were proposed as though it would be of benefit to the local folks.

And the logging regulations themselves in the contract were abysmal. A 100-metre setback from streams and watercourses is considered the minimum to protect the waterways from sedimentation. They proposed a 10-metre setback and claimed they were doing it out of concern for the environment. Nor was there any limit to the gradient which they could log. Usually, steep slopes are protected from logging because the erosion and landslides are so damaging … they had no protection for them at all.

Then there were the penalties for felling a tree outside the designated area … ten dollars US per tree. At that time the Solomons hardwood, when milled and dried, was worth about US$1,400 per cubic meter, and some of the trees had three or more cubic metres. That meant if the loggers spied a valuable tree that was not on the land they were allowed to log, they could fell it, pay the locals $10 for it, and sell it for five thousand dollars

But we’re nowhere near done. Then there was the little matter of the price. This, the company said, was the best part of the deal. Elsewhere in the Solomons people were only getting three dollars a cubic metre, but this company, from the goodness of their hearts, was offering no less that $10 per cubic metre …

Then there were the roads. One huge benefit of a properly managed logging operation is that the local people end up with roads connecting the coastal villages with the interior lands.

Or it can be a huge curse, because if the roads are not properly designed and constructed, then they wash out in the tropical rains and the roadways erode into open cuts and the land takes years to recover.

Well, this document pointed all of that out. It talked about the various quality of roads, from the logging roads in the interior all the way up to paved roads along the coast. There were pages of road specifications, and lovely black-and-white pictures of asphalt highways running by tropical beaches, with only one small problem.

The document described the roads, and the places that they planned to use them, and how well made they would be … but nowhere in the whole document did they actually agree to build one single metre of road, paved or not. It was all just a smoke screen, they promised nothing.

So I went over the whole document and marked it up. Then I met up with the guys again, and we went over the whole thing, clause by clause. I’d re-written about two-thirds of the clauses, and I’d worked with my friend the Public Solicitor, and we’d put together a document that would be a good deal for the locals. The loggers would still make out, but like businessmen, not like highway robbers.

It was a long meeting, the guys had lots of questions, and we discussed each and every clause so they knew why I’d made the changes, and what the changes meant to them. After previous discussions with a couple of the guys, we’d also added a section setting up a trust for the majority of the money, so it wouldn’t all get spent on beer and outboards and be gone in six months. They were very much in favor of that, they’d seen money pissed away before.

Then they were ready to meet with the representatives of the loggers. They asked me if I’d come with them to the meeting. I said I couldn’t … another expatriate that I knew had gone mano-a-mano with the loggers a few months before, and within a week his work permit had been pulled, and he had to leave the country. I couldn’t risk losing my work permit, but I said I knew they could do it, they understood the issues.

They asked, could they meet in one of the guest houses that I rented out on the island? I said sure, no problem. They could have the meeting, and spend the night, go back to Vella the next day.

So the big night came for the meeting. Everyone showed up, loggers and islanders. I played the genial host, and left them to discuss the fate of the forest.

And in the morning? They all came out, shamefaced. I took one look, and my heart sank. I asked one of the old guys, one of the big men, what had happened. “Oh, the logger men were very nice! Can you imagine, they gave us a whole case of Black Label whiskey. They explained the contract, and it sounded wonderful, so we signed it” … oh, man, my blood was angrified mightily and I was in grave danger of waxing wroth … but I knew the old man, and he wasn’t a bad guy, just weak. So I curbed my tongue and shook my head, and I said that his sons might approve, but his grand children would wonder why he sold their birthright for pennies … then I went and talked to the young guys. They said they couldn’t stop it, once the big men were drunk they got combative and wouldn’t listen to anyone and they would have signed anything.

At first I was furious with the logging company, for being so sleazy and underhanded as to get them to sign drunk.

Then I thought, “Wait a minute …”. I thought, these Big Men are not American Indians who never tasted firewater in their life. They’ve all been drunk before, probably during that very same week. They know damned well what it does to your judgement. So then I was angry at them.

But then I thought no, they were just weak and overawed by lack of education and experience and money. The logging company sent in educated, smooth, charming guys wearing fine, expensive clothing and flashing lots of gold, big rings, chains. The big men were all dressed alike—shorts and t-shirts, brought in used or factory seconds in bundles from Australia. I realized that rather than get embarrassed by their predictable inability to negotiate with the loggers, they had taken the easy way out and gotten drunk.

Then I was angry at the young guys, for not standing up against the big men … that lasted about long enough to realize that under unbreakable tribal custom, they were expected and forced to defer to their elders, just as they would expect and demand that same deference when they got really, really old … like say fifty … life is short there.

It took a while, but I finally realized that unless and until the poor countries get to where people are adequately fed and clothed and housed, they would always be at the mercy of those kinds of greedy and amoral groups of men that have been with us forever …

And at the end of the day, I realized that I was on a fool’s errand. Oh, I’d fight the fight again, in a minute, but I’d lose again. It’s what happens when big money hits a poor country—the environment gets screwed, whether it’s logging, fishing, or mining. Until the country is wealthy enough to feed its citizens and to protect itself, its resources are always on sale to the lowest bidder … by which I mean the bidder with the lowest morals.

Now, I started this sad tale for a reason, to give substance to the damage that poverty does to the environment. When you can buy an island council for ten grand a man and there are literally millions of dollars at stake, that council will get bought no matter how hard I fight against it. Per capita GDP in the Solomons is about $600 annually, it’s classed as an “LDC”, a Least Developed Country … and in a country where ten thousand dollars is almost twenty years wages, you can buy many people for ten large …

That is one of the main reasons that I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time working overseas trying to alleviate global poverty. I do it for the people first, but I do it for the environment second.

And that is why I feel so personally betrayed by the current mindless push for expensive energy, a push led by the very organizations I’ve supported because back in the day, they actually used to be for the environment, not against it. Raising energy prices is the most regressive taxation I know of. The poorer you are, the harder you are hit by rising energy costs, and the more the poor suffer, the more the environment bears the brunt.

So this is where I came in, explaining about how people fighting against CO2 hurt the environment. Let me repeat the links in the chain:

1. Led in part by the environmental NGOs, many people and governments have declared war on CO2.

2. Their preferred method of warfare is to raise energy prices, through subsidies, bans, taxes, renewable energy requirements, pipeline refusals, and the like.

3. The rise in energy prices both impoverishes the poor and prevents the development of poor countries.

4. As Obama pointed out, even wealthy people with economic worries tend to ignore the environment … so stomping on the development possibilities of poor countries by raising energy prices is a guarantee of years of environmental damage and destruction.

I say that history will not look kindly on those people and organizations who are currently impoverishing the poor and damaging the environment in a futile fight against CO2, even if the perpetrators are wealthy and melanin-deficient and just running over with oodles of good intentions …

My regards to each of you, keep fighting the good fight. I’ve had a rat-free day, and so all’s well with the world,

w.

[UPDATE: For those who would like a bit more information on the connections between poverty and the environment that have lead to the photo shown in Figure 1, in 1960 Haiti and the Dominican Republic had the same per-capita real gross domestic product (GDP), They also had very similar physical conditions, as they share the same island.

By 2012, however, the per-capita GDP in the DR had about grown to about $9,600 per year (PPP) ... and the per-capita GDP in Haiti had shrunk to about $1,200, less than it was in 1960. And as a result of the Haitians having almost no money at all, only an eighth of the GDP of the DR, both the people and the environment of Haiti have suffered badly.

As a benchmark for comparison, Norway has a per-capita GDP (PPP) of about $60,000, and the US, about $49,000. At the other end of the scale, the Solomon Islands, classed as one of the "Least Developed Countries" in the UN rankings, is also quite poor. It has a per-capita GDP about twice that of Haiti (and a quarter of that of the DR), at around $2,500. -w.]

UPDATE2: I wanted independent confirmation of the photo in Figure 1, because that could have been just one local patch given the small scale of the photo. So, I decided to check it out on Google Earth. While the entire border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is not like Figure 1, there are large swaths in the northern part which are, for example:

Haiti_DomRepub_deforestation

- Anthony

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166 thoughts on “How Environmental Organizations Are Destroying The Environment

  1. Some mechanism for highlighting to Government and NGOs the discrepancies in the IPCC climate models needs to be created.

    Why do skeptics criticisms of discrepancies meet silence? Or do they?

  2. Seconded Willis.

    I once stood on the border of North Korea. The South Koreans were thumbing their noses at the North Koreans, by giving massive tax breaks to farmers willing to risk living right on the border, so all the starving North could see were fields full of food.

    But the really startling thing about this experience was how desolate the North looked. Most of the forests had been cleared, there were no visible farms, it all looked overgrown, unkempt, with a scattering of bizarre objects, such as a gigantic flagpole, and a “village” of concrete blocks, with painted on windows (you could see the windows were painted on, because in many places the paint had peeled).

    No animals either – I suspect anything large enough to see had all been eaten by the NK soldiers.

    BTW I’ve changed the splash screen on my Climategate iPhone app, hope you approve… :-)

  3. Hi Willis, that would have to be the most cogent explanation of Solomon Island “politics” that I have ever seen

    My Advisor and I would spend countless hours discussing how much it would take to get really good people elected, we got it down to SID $7,000, cartons of SolTuna, bags of SolRice etc

    All delivered in the week before the election date

    The forests on Rennel are now in the gun, my heart broke when that happened, it will not be till the reefs die, from lack of parrot fish, and the land dies from logging, and they have nothing, will they start to wake up

    One of the most beautiful places I have ever lived in

  4. I am surprised that Eschenbach and Revkin have not had a tête–à–tête to set up a little chat session like the Revkin/Roberts interview where Roberts clearly through body language and interruptions disagreed with 90% of what Andrew had to say. I am sure that Willis and Andrew could agree on 90% of the topics that matter. Oh, yeah, that tribal religion thingy, Revkin could not survive…

    Thanks again Willis, perspective is definitely your expertise.

  5. Willis, you must have read Vaclav Klaus’s and Paul Driessen’s books.

    The hubris, effrontery, mean-spiritedness and just plain ignorance of the enviros is breathtaking. You have to wonder how they sleep at night – but then, of course these are people without a conscience as we know it.

    The FACT is, renewables other than hydroelectric are both an economic and an environmental disaster. Wind and solar are both actually dirtier than any fossil fuel – they destroy landscapes, habitats and endangered birds, and require more fossil fuel to be burned to keep the grid energized and deliver power, than if there were no wind or solar. But of course they get a pass from that hate group and criminal syndicate known as the EPA. Let a duck drown in an oilwell sump, the fines are in the millions – but kill five California condors and reduce the whooping crane population by half (the toll so far this year), and the enviros get a pass.

    Of course it all isn’t about the environment at all, but lust for power and the acting out of hatred of civilization. Funny how der Fuehrer speaks of a better word for our grandchildren, when his object is manifestly to impoverish our grandchildren, to the further enrichment of his crony capitalist buddies. The American dream has always been that the next generation should live better than our own, but der Fuehrer wants it to live worse – much worse.

    I wonder how all those poor Africans who have to cook their foot by burning shit (oh, but isn’t that biomass! how environmentally responsible!) think of (1) der Fuehrer’s neat little $100 million vacation and (2) that crowd of eco-imperialist “investors” he’s bringing along to steal the land of poor subsistence farmers for “carbon sinks” (i.e., planting trees and making a killing from selling the lumber).

  6. Chad, you remind me of P.J. O’Rourke’s All the Trouble in the World*, wherein he explained that environmentalism is a luxury good. One of the fellows he mentioned in his tour through central Europe was Vaclav Klaus.

    *A work published, I might add, in 1995.

  7. Thank you Willis, your accounting is an eye opener.
    Obama mentioned “the politics of this are tough”,but I’d say his position regarding the science is even tougher.
    When a small group uses a “working hypothesis” instead of empirical evidence (“Scientific Theory”) to undertake a task that effects everyone while bypassing the-laws-of-the-land, then we all suffer.
    As you know, the models delivering CAGW results do not incorporate naturally occurring inputs (because they are not all known) and the weighting applied to what they do use render them useless!

  8. The agenda of the NWO wannabes is about human depopulation, environmental fear campaigns are the main selling points… ,

  9. Dear Mr Willis Eschenbach
    You have done it again.
    For people like me, charts full of colored lines are difficult to read and understand, and the huge amount of “culpability propaganda ” in favor of expensive and subsidized energy overwhelms us into silence.
    This text of yours is great. Because it tells a tale that anyone can understand. And the photos are there for everyone to see, and to think a little, on his own.
    I am going to try and get everyone I know to read this, and am going to begin a translation into Spanish, for the people at home who have trouble understanding English.
    Again : Thank You very much
    ¡¡¡ Bravo y Enhorabuena !!!
    Your old admirer from Spain ( one of many, I know )
    María

  10. Chad Wozniak says:
    June 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Willis, you must have read Vaclav Klaus’s and Paul Driessen’s books.

    I heard Klaus speak once, haven’t read him, and have no idea who Driessen is … being self-educated, there are many lacunae in the woodwork.

    Also, I don’t read many books about the climate, for a couple of reasons.

    One is that I value my beginners mind. I’ve discovered many interesting things about the climate because I haven’t been taught to ignore them. Buddhists call this “beginners mind” and strive to maintain it.

    The other is that I simply don’t have time. I have a day job. I continue to pursue my music. Scientific research takes up a huge amount of time. I love to hang with the gorgeous ex-fiancee, and my daughter’s home from school for the summer. I go kayaking whenever I can break free. And of course, tending my blog posts swallows time without end.

    As a result, lot’s of good books go unread …

    w.

  11. Obama: “Because if you haven’t seen a raise in a decade; if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater . . .

    Stands to reason. If your house is already underwater why would you worry about sea level rise in a hundred years time.

    I thought it was a slip of the tongue when I first read, but it’s ironically approriate.

  12. “I say that history will not look kindly on those people and organizations who are currently impoverishing the poor and damaging the environment in a futile fight against CO2…”

    History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. With all the brainwashing of our children going on, “history” may simply attribute the inevitable disasters to insufficient application of these policies.

    Excellent essay, Willis.

  13. It is sad to realise that the greatest threats to our planet’s environment are peasants and the environmental Establishment.

    The first out of dire poverty, especially energy poverty.

    The second because of the same problem shared by all socialist policies: Because of A, therefore B, but no thought is given to the consequences: Because of B, therefore B, C and D.

    In socialist terms, an example would be A – Let’s tax the rich, B – Now we have money to spend on the poor. C – The rich say “To hell with this, I am leaving and no more investments here and I am taking my business with me”. D – Tax base decines, so there is less money for the poor. E – Unemployment rises as investment declines, and E – Unemployment rises as businesses relocate to a lower cost (i.e. tax) country. Socialists fail to realise the rich are almost always smarter than they are.

    In envioronmental/greenie terms: A – Let’s build lots of wind and solar energy plants. B – Now, we:are saving the planet. C – The cost of energy goes up and the economy is badly damaged. D – New power sources are unreliable and inefficient, so expensive back up conventional fossil fuel power stations have to be built. E – New power sources are ugly and require much of the planet’s surface to be dug up for power lines; because of high cost and unreliability of energy, businesses relocate elsewhere and poorer consumers start to chop down trees and burn wood for fuel. In addition, the main type of new power source is noisy and known to kill wildlife. Environmentalists fail to realise that most of their efforts to ‘save the planet’ usually result in the exact opposite happening.

    Environmentalists and socialists can only think in terms of trying to achieve B, and rarely of C, D and E, the consequences of B.

    And there is no one as blinkered and short sighted as someone from a professional environmentalist activist organisation, such as Greenpeace.

  14. Brilliantly put, Willis. You explained that very clearly. If only half the so-called environmentalists of today paid heed to that, we’d be on our way in the right direction. Cheers, mate.

  15. WE: “I’ve had a rat-free day”
    That is, apart from the tales you have related.
    Deferred reward is what all successful countries have been built on. There are not many left.
    It is not that different from Blair’s promises and Brown saving the world.
    Britain is now waking up to what its grandchildren owe so, it’s world wide problem.

  16. Willis,

    I didn’t even have to finish your excellent article before agreeing with it 100%. The big take away point:

    “poverty is the greatest threat to the global environment”

    I agree completely. I read Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist” recently in which he made the same points very persuasively. I believe this generally was the motivation for FOIA to release the UEA emails. Promote trade and the exchange of ideas, fight corruption, stop bio-fuel production, promote education especially for women, develop GM agriculture – just a few of the very persuasive and substantiated points he made in the book and which you underline here.

    I care deeply about the beautiful world in which we live, as well as the humans which are an integral part of it. I don’t agree with arrogant assumption that we are somehow separate from nature and therefore have some moral imperative towards stewardship of it as some well-meaning but over-zealous activists are want to do. We should look after the world because it is in our interests to do so, as our well-being is intrinsically linked to our environment. It’s our well-being that should drive our decisions not a sense of moral duty.

  17. America under the rule of Baby Boomers is a mixed tale of selfishness and greed. These people believe they deserve what they have (given to them by the Greatest Generation), and now feel unashamed when they prevent others from having their shot. They use the law to grow their wealth at the expense of many others.

    Having a house with a mortgage is false wealth. You don’t really own it. It isn’t yours. They say you do, but you don’t. Many of these smug people are still buying cars with second mortgages, or through a refi. I guess you should enjoy it while it lasts. The Baby Boomers take everything in sight, yet are never satisfied. They still don’t have enough for themselves. Constantly whining (no, I’m not whining – this is venting), and they are getting worse with age.

    The only people I have sympathy for are those who never had a shot, and the young who are being told to believe in something that has already been taken away from them, or very few of them will ever have. The young people might be able to get back the Dream, but not as long as they listen to the old con artists like Obama, Bill Ayers, and Hillary. Or the überbureaucrat George W.

    Somewhere deep inside young people, they know something is terribly wrong. They are not being educated to do anything useful. It is the result of decades of deliberate educational sabotage from the NEA and people like Professor of Education emeritus William Ayers. Our children are only taught to get along, and not be competitive. Wow, that works in the global economy. English, math, science and other useful subjects are corrupted and children are left almost completely dysfunctional.

    The Socialists went after education first. That’s what we need to take back. We need local control over our own curriculum and textbook selection. End teacher tenure. Pay good teachers more.

    It should have been easy to keep my house, but after the deliberate wrecking of our economy, it went bye-bye. I made the choice to never go into debt again. Now I only have a few small debts. I repair my old vehicles, paying cash. I live in an apartment, and somebody else maintains the grass and plumbing. I can even save some money now; it doesn’t all go to pay interest.

    I’ll never voluntarily submit to Obamacare. I’ll pay cash if I need to visit a doctor. The good news is more doctors understand that concept now. More insurance “solutions” will just make the problems worse. Basic econ: When there is more money chasing a limited supply of goods and services, prices will go up.

    The government rigged the medical insurance system to screw the middle class, and force us into single payer. CMS reimbursements were way too low, even to cover most expenses, and that caused healthcare providers to raise nominal fees way beyond what the average person could afford. When Medicare was set up, they knew what would happen, but they also knew the Boomers wanted their freebies. And here we are.

    Make them dumb, make them dependent, and then you can do with them whatever you want.
    Even if I don’t get sucked into the shredder, I’m not sure the kids will be able to avoid it. As much as you try, they still have heads filled full of mush from school and Hollywood.

    The fact is, we are in a struggle for survival, and most people don’t realize it yet. Many are still trying to buy that big house and new cars. They are trying to hang onto the old ways, the old thinking. To make it, we need to build relationships with people. We will have to depend on each other, not bureaucrats. And “we” means all of us. We need to avoid falling into the trap of ethnic divide-and-conquer started once again under Bill Clinton.

    We can’t fight, and we can’t just let it all go to pieces. We don’t have to happily follow our Dear Leader Zero. What can we do? At the very least, play dumb and don’t comply. Resist nonviolently. Are they going to arrest us all?

    I’m glad I know what America was, and I hope we can bring it back. What we had should be the model for the rest of the world. Willis is right. We need to grow our economies to lift people out of poverty, and use more efficient methods to support them. I believe energy is the key to achieving that goal. Instead, the Left seem hell-bent on making us all suffer equally in third-world conditions. Meanwhile, the wannabe elites imagine themselves sitting in a private Redwoods National Park off limits to us, sipping champagne and eating beluga caviar on crackers.

    A society with high per capita energy consumption means more freedom, more wealth, and an ability to do more to protect the environment. You can only afford to clean up the environment when you have substantial wealth above subsistence. We also know better living conditions lowers the birth rate with no coercion.

    Some day, we will need to figure out how to maintain an economy based on innovation – that means competition – rather than mere growth. But now our kids don’t understand how to compete. They don’t know how to create, only to experience. And when China rises, we will be just another cheap labor market, learning from them how to do things we invented. And that’s if we are lucky.

    It seems the only hope we have is our bloated government will collapse under its own weight. Promises unfulfilled. Fingers of blame pointing in all directions. Let’s just hope the last desperate acts of a failing regime don’t include war. With little manufacturing base left, we wouldn’t stand a chance.

    The sad thing is, except for the deliberate steps taken by government seeking ever greater power, the current economic malaise would not be taking place. We should have a booming economy. There is really nothing except self-imposed regulatory restrictions and top-heavy bureaucracy holding us back. This Not-so-great Depression would have been over long ago without the steps taken by our representatives to save us.

    We can do better. We need a plan (that’s not the hard part) and the will to follow it through. We need to cut the red tape and tell the black robes and bureaucrats to get out of the way. America can be better than ever. We can inspire the world once again. That is, if we don’t pretend nothing is wrong, or wait for someone else to fix things for us.

  18. Thanks Willis down to earth article. Real world.
    I have watched all my life as people make decisions (on other people) which don’t directly affect them.
    NGOs constantly do this. If you have nothing in your belly or freezing cold or both, then that is the real world, decisions are made to survive. While so many of the NGOs live in Utopia. Watch as food prices go higher and higher in the land of plenty down under. Why? Mainly because of foolish decisions. Where is thy common sense?

  19. As the greenies try desperately to leave coal and oil in the ground with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I don’t hear much of their wailing when it comes to burning forests for fuel. They used to chain themselves to trees and spike them, but where are they now? Hypocrites and liars the lot of ‘em..

  20. To date none of those burning Sumatra and bringing South East Asia to its knees have been arrested let alone charged.

    But there is good news.

    The brave indomitable Indonesian Police have arrested two poor subsistence farmers for burning rubbish, just as they have done for thousands of years.

  21. The person who biuld the forest lodge yesterday is a conservationist, the person who builds it tomorrow is a developer.

    Guess one of these is trying to stop the other one from atttaining what they have? Apply this to countries and the developed ones are of course the conservationists.

  22. Greg Goodman says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Sad but typical story from Vella Lavella.

    Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?

    St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:10). But a better tranlation is: “the love of money is (at) the root of all kinds of evil.”

    Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902) added, “but so is the lack of it.”

  23. Another excellent article by Willis that gets to the root of the problem. The only difference between the Pacific Island headmen and Dem/Rep politicians is that ours have a weakness for campaign contributions and elective office, rather than booze.

    Otherwise, same-same. The players have learned to game the system. And our future has been sold out for windmills.

  24. How Environmental Organizations Are Destroying The Environment

    Willis, this is one of the most important posts ever posted at WUWT if you ask me. And that photo of the Haiti/DR border is positively brilliant, and is more effective than a hundred charts because it cuts right to the hear of the matter. ( BTW wouldn’t it be poetic justice if the means of destruction of the AGW cult were supplied by Google Maps invented by that trio of Gore-loving environmentalist pretenders ).

    This post and that image boils it right down. The essay about the logging negotiations and the inevitable outcome should even be understandable by the neo-Communist left that have infiltrated the environmentalist movement, and who would destroy almost all life if they had their way..

    Eco-nuts have really developed an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder about oil and coal, just like children do over certain things. They cannot face the fact that since that first oil well was sunk around 1850 that great improvements to quality of life for humans and all other species have occurred. We drill these tiny little hypodermic needle holes ( and that probably still overstates the scale ) to draw out and recycle fossil fuels RATHER THAN kill and burn everything still alive on the surface. Were it not for this lucky advancement there wouldn’t be a tree, seal, whale or maybe even fish left alive. And every city would be burning because of the sheer amount of fires used for heat and light in every single house and apartment.

    We all remember the North/South Korea night shot but your brilliant idea of that border photo takes the gold medal. Perhaps more can be found of other contrasting areas worldwide. We should crowd source this concept because a picture can truly be worth a thousand words!

  25. The X Factor in all this discussion is how the puppet masters want the population of the world to be between 500 & 1,000 million and living in a limited number of super cities so leaving plenty of space for forests and animals (maybe)

  26. The impoverished nations are simply doomed to their poverty – at least for our lifetimes. Consider the UK where, under the spreading screech of the renewabls windmill and the shuttering of power plants, the voters continue the pursuit of freezing in the winter, lowering their per capita income and not only pay more for everything due to high energy costs but give tax money to pay their politicians to manage their path to poverty. Oh, and they’re importing hydro-carbons to run power plants that fix their windmills. And still they debate. They’ve all (Solomons and Britgs) missed the point of the article: energy is life – cheap energy is properity and protection of the environment.

  27. Thanks Willis for that sad account of paradise lost.

    The well reported smoke that is choking Singapore is another sad story of mad greenism gone wrong. The forests of Sumatra are likewise being cleared and burnt for green schemes such as palm oil, bio fuels etc that attract carbon funding and corruption.

    Why can’t this so called “sustainable society” see what it is doing?

    And why can’t the MSM tell the whole story?

  28. Has nobody considered that windmills require land. Rented or purchased. Just how long will it take for those cost to escalate as market theory dictates? Nuff said.

  29. Allan M says:

    Greg Goodman says: Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?

    St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:10). But a better tranlation is: “the love of money is (at) the root of all kinds of evil.”

    Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902) added, “but so is the lack of it.”

    Butler’s retorque is to the often misquoted version: “money is the root of all evil”.

    It is not money (wealth) itself which is the problem.

    Lack of money can be the cause of many problems, however, I don’t think anyone ever said lack of the love of money was a problem.

    The loggers and the “Big Men” found thier selfish common interest and sold away heritage of the island for pennies. Reminds me of Thatcher (aka St Margret of Finchley) flogging off UK gas reserves, and highly profitable British Telecom. She offered “everyone” the option to buy £1000 worth of shares at pretty much half price they’d be worth the next day. Now not everyone had £1000 sloshing around but it bought off a sufficient percentage of the population to avoid significant opposition to the policy. Like in the Solomans, the poorest did not even get a cut in the deal.

    She did not get anyone drunk or hide it in the fine print. Simple greed and shortsightedness was enough.

    Now the economy is screwed and someone else is getting the billions of pounds of profit from what was a national revenue resourse. We gave up our national resources for pennies.

    This has little to do with poor countries except that cost of buying people off is lower.

  30. Thanks Willis for another fine article. It is beyond belief that organisations can follow policies that condemn so many to a life of continuing poverty. These people are warped.

  31. This is one of your best articles Willis.

    I think people should spread this around because even the left and the environs will read it. It will hit home to them. They will understand it in the right way. If we want the environmental NGOs to start actually helping the environment rather than hurting it, we have to speak to them where they live – in the heart, not in logic and math and argument – this article does that and will have a real impact.

  32. The Enviro groups and NGOs have no interest in saving the environment. It’s cover used to suck in the unsuspecting. It feels right and people are motivated to help. However those groups real goals are control. They are arms of the authoritarians.

    What Willis has written about is no secret to anyone with eyes and half a mind to actually look past the feel good stories we are sold. Energy, cheap energy, raise people out of poverty, helps the environment, helps quality life, health and so much more but we are all told that energy is the enemy.

    It is the enemy of authoritarians. Wealthy, healthy people also become better educated, have less need for government handouts and express themselves more freely and fight for what they have more powerfully. Authoritarianism and wealth/energy don’t mix well. One of the reasons I believe we see the US govt pushing hard to make energy in the US as expensive as possible as quickly as politically possible.

  33. Totally agree.
    Malawi wished a loan from the World Bank for the building of coal fired power stations, Malawi has its own coal, but this was refused on environmental grounds. Malawi is still a yet to be developed country.

  34. If you don’t mind this little interjection, Willis, I would like to suggest that Elizabeth’s Nickson’s book would be a good follow-up to your article.

  35. Ah yes, Greg Goodman, the good old BT – that wonderful company that took 3 or 4 weeks to instal a landline and gave you the choice of the bog-standard handset or, for the trendy, a Trimphone. Those spectacles you are wearing must have a pretty dark shade of rose.

  36. Great essay, as usual by Willis.

    Green philosophy is a blight, a cause of degradation because it’s core principle of reverence for pristine nature works actively against prosperity. As well as being the best for humanity prosperity is also the best for nature as Bjorn Lomborg shows but there comes a point when it has to be said that the interests of humanity diverge from the idea of pristine nature. The idea of pristine nature is terribly elitist and decadent; only a person nurtured by an advanced, unnatural culture could develop a non-utilitarian aesthetic about nature which dominates survival exigencies; how could it be otherwise; if one was living the sustainable life based on natural dictates one would be too busy doing what had to be done to survive to bother about that tree or that koala. This aspect of green ideology is both hypocritical and unrealistic; it is also as good an example of cognitive dissonance as a human could produce.

  37. In the area od Eastern Ontario in which I live (Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry) the forest cover in 2006 was 32%. To-day it has been reduced to 25%. Woodlots have literally been ripped up to save us from CO2, by planting corn for ethanol. Subsidies and environmental stupidity are prevalent, as solar farms rise where healthy woodlots once stood. Not only do we lose our trees, but the destruction of wildlife habitat and wetlands is equally critical. I really believe that the environmental groups live in green concrete towers

  38. The central premise of this post depends on the majority of climate scientists being mistaken. It also depends on a false dichotomy between prosperity and unlimited fossil fuel use. In both cases, the weight of experts in the field(who admittedly have had their beginner’s mind tainted with massive doses of reality) disagrees with your assessment. Does that concern you at all?

  39. Obama and his ilk will continue to “fight climate change” while the glaciers are covering the countryside, since it’s a reason to tax to keep bureaucrats well fed and to creatively selectively enrich deserving companies and individuals (aka campaign donors).

    At which point local governments will be fining homeowners for failing to keep their sidewalks and driveways free of snow and ice, before discovering they can also make it a crime to not clear it from your property by summer as this negatively impacts entire neighborhoods by reducing property values. Who’d want to buy next door to an encroaching glacier?

  40. “Does that concern you at all?”

    Only to the extent that your gullibility worries you.

    “weight of experts in the field”

    You must be joking; are you talking about Cook’s 97% consensus? The 97 was really his IQ.

  41. I can remember being at a higher elevation spot on the central plateau of Madagascar and not being able to see a single tree as far as the eye could see (circa 10-15 miles in every direction). Madagascar was once 85-90% covered in forest. Then when staying in the capital city of Antananarivo, the smog clouds would roll in from the east due to the burning of the rainforest to make charcoal.

  42. Ryan, unless you are living comfortably on $2 a day, not dependent on fossil fuels for your creature comforts, I would suggest you completely missed the point of the post and should just STFU.

  43. Willis,
    I appreciate your down to earth writing. Usually very powerful words. Posting on WUWT is fine, but some things need a wider audience (no disrespect to this great website), one that can reach more than those that are hard core skeptics. There is a Yahoo contributor network. My suggestion is to look to posting here and and on Yahoo CN. If the Yahoo article is read/liked enough (not sure how it gets moved up) it will be seen by far more people that are not searching for skeptic type articles. I have seen some contributor articles reach the top 100 yahoo articles, which I glance through every day for interesting articles. I am sure we at WUWT could help get you in that group quite easily. I think it could make a difference. Please consider.

    Go Home

  44. Willis, it sounds like you attended one of my lectures.
    Environmentalists, in general, are an annoying distraction from the real problems in life, the two most important of which, are poverty (as you said) and IGNORANCE (sorry for shouting). Wealth cures the former, but you don’t get lasting wealth without curing the latter and providing a liberal application of the cheapest energy you can get.
    The ‘distractions’ are legion. Rachel Carson started it all by getting just about everything wrong in what she said and implied about DDT: net result tens of millions of deaths. And then one can go on about PCBs, Dioxin, Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, GM foods etc, ad nauseam, and everything done by the EPA. Most environmentalists are the most closed-minded and ignorant people I know. If you ask them what is the most environmentally destructive problems in any society, they can’t even get the first two right even if you give them 100 guesses. They are, of course, ignorance and poverty. Excellent article.
    John K. Sutherland.

  45. Meanwhile, Indonesia is destroying its rain forests to supply the subsidised European Union thirst for as much palm oil as they can lay their hands on to convert to biodiesel. The EU has of course given its blessing to this, ruling that palm oil plantations are ecologically equivalent to rain forests, and imposing zero sanctions on the “illegal” (unless you have a thick brown envelope to donate to the appropriate authority) slash and burn strategies, the smoke from which is destroying the environment and destroying the health of the inhabitants of neighbouring Singapore.

    Naturally, the cultivation, refining and conversion of palm oil to motor fuel creates extra CO2, but who cares, when pockets are getting lined.

  46. Again, great post & responses. Good forestry practices (it took a long time) around here in western MD have produced healthy, diverse stands & good wood production to boot (although an overpopulation of deer). Thoughtful & restrained harvesting is the key. Clear-cut oak/hickory stands re-sprout from the stumps & recover quickly.

    Funny tho, where are all the resident trolls? Not even an acknowledgement?

  47. .
    Willis Eschenbach says: June 26, 2013 at 12:10 am
    I heard Klaus speak once, haven’t read him,
    _____________________________________

    One unmissable speech of Vacav Klaus is when he addressed the EU parliament and called for greater democracy and a viable opposition party in the parliament.

    And the reaction of these great democratisers of Europe in the EU parliament, to this fine speech was?? Yes, you guessed it, they booed him and walked out. This one video sums up everything that is wrong with the EU parliament and the facist bureaucracy it controls.

    .

  48. Great Post Willis as usual.

    I would like to add this to the mix.

    Just WHO are the NGOs? We hear about Organic Consumers, Food and Water Watch, WWF, Greenpeace and all the rest. We see the facade/propaganda they put out to entice the masses of sheeple to join and then they state they ‘Represent’ the ‘Voice’ of XXXXXXXXXX number of people (AARP does this to old folks too)

    The key question is do you as a member VOTE? And the answer is NO.

    So who actually controls these organizations that supposedly represent ‘The people’s Voice’
    Activists and NGOs

    Several years ago I looked into NGOs because of the WTO/Food/Animal ID issue and found the directors of Organic Consumers were well tied via grants to the Rockefeller foundations.

    Here is some relevant stuff from my notes. (The links may no longer work)

    BACKGROUND:

    From a history blog:

    Ignoring Elites, Historians Are Missing a Major Factor in Politics and History
    “… Over the last quarter-century, historians have by and large ceased writing about the role of ruling elites in the country’s evolution. Or if they have taken up the subject, they have done so to argue against its salience for grasping the essentials of American political history. Yet there is something peculiar about this recent intellectual aversion, even if we accept as true the beliefs that democracy, social mobility, and economic dynamism have long inhibited the congealing of a ruling stratum. This aversion has coincided, after all, with one of the largest and fastest-growing disparities in the division of income and wealth in American history….Neglecting the powerful had not been characteristic of historical work before World War II. ” http://hnn.us/roundup/archives/11/2005/3/#11068

    Remember the Students for a Democratic Society on campus when you were in college?

    The ‘Innocents’ Clubs’
    “…During the 1920’s and most of the 1930’s Münzenberg played a leading role in the Comintern, Lenin’s front for world-wide co-ordination of the left under Russian control. Under Münzenberg’s direction, hundreds of groups, committees and publications cynically used and manipulated the devout radicals of the West….Most of this army of workers in what Münzenberg called ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ had no idea they were working for Stalin. They were led to believe that they were advancing the cause of a sort of socialist humanism. The descendents of the ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ are still hard at work in our universities and colleges. Every year a new cohort of impressionable students join groups like the Anti-Nazi League believing them to be benign opponents of oppression…” http://www.heretical.com/miscella/munzen.html

    THE ORIGINS OF NGOs
    Remember Maurice Strong, Chair of the First Earth Summit in 1972 that started CAGW? The guy who said “…current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class…are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns….” in his opening remarks at Earth Summit II in 1992.

    In brief Maurice Strong worked in Saudi Arabia for a Rockefeller company, Caltex, in 1953. He left Caltex in 1954 to worked at high levels in banking and oil. By 1971, he served as a trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 1972 was Secretary-General of the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment. He was Co-founder of the WWF and Senior Advisor to the World Bank and the UN.

    Strong’s early work with YMCA international “…may have been the genesis of Strong’s realization that NGOs (non-government organizations) provide an excellent way to use NGOs to couple the money from philanthropists and business with the objectives of government.” http://sovereignty.net/p/sd/strong.html

    “Very few of even the larger international NGOs are operationally democratic, in the sense that members elect officers or direct policy on particular issues,” notes Peter Spiro. “Arguably it is more often money than membership that determines influence, and money more often represents the support of centralized elites, such as major foundations, than of the grass roots.” The CGG [Commission on Global Governance] has benefited substantially from the largesse of the MacArthur, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations…. http://www.afn.org/~govern/strong.html

    So do not be surprised that the NGOs are not in actual fact concerned about the environment because they are not. They are just a smoke screen and a method to corral young activists who truly do care and neutralize them.

    Green Veneer: WWF Helps Industry More than Environment

    The WWF is the most powerful environmental organization in the world and campaigns internationally on issues such as saving tigers and rain forests. But a closer look at its work leads to a sobering conclusion: Many of its activities benefit industry more than the environment or endangered species….

    A view of WWF from theperspective of an African: The White Man’s Game

    And to think I used to donate my hard earn cash to them when I was young and naive….

  49. Willis
    Compliments on laying out the plight of the poor at the hands of mother earth worshipers and the unprincipled rich.
    I endorse Chad Wozniak’s recommendation to understand the key policy and political drivers of environmentalism exposed in Vaclav Klaus‘s, Blue Planet in Green Shackles. What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?
    From his life long confronting communism, Klaus exposes:

    The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism or communism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism. This ideological stream has recently become a dominant alternative to those ideologies that are consistently and primarily oriented toward freedom. It is a movement that intends to change the world radically regardless of the consequences (at the cost of human lives and severe restrictions on individual freedom). It intends to change humankind, human behavior, the structure of society, the system of values – simply everything. . . .

    These are further amplified in articles by The Cornwall Alliance.

  50. When Willis speaks, people listen. At least those of us who aren’t convinced that “The Authorities” are on top of it.

    The stark dichotomy between Willis’ words and those of the erstwhile American President and those of his opponents highlights the ignorance of the political elite of both parties. One side will clean up the planet if they have to destroy it to do it, the other will have jobs regardless of the costs. There is another way.

  51. Allan M says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?

    St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:10). But a better tranlation is: “the love of money is (at) the root of all kinds of evil.”
    _______________________________________

    Yes, but when Ananias and his wife Sapphira did not give all their money to the disciples, St Peter murdered them both. See Acts 5. Some morality tale, that one.

    .

  52. “Yes, but when Ananias and his wife Sapphira did not give all their money to the disciples, St Peter murdered them both. See Acts 5. Some morality tale, that one.”

    Oh please! It is yet early in the day and the first shift is busy torturing the truth in earnest. Peter did not “murder” anyone. This couple were judged by God for coveting, theft and lies, all violations of the Ten Commandments. (The same sins that socialism is based on).

  53. Grey Lensman says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:41 am
    To date none of those burning Sumatra and bringing South East Asia to its knees have been arrested let alone charged.
    ===============
    The companies involved are all well known. However, they don’t do the burning. It is done by very poor people in return for a couple of $$. In this fashion the companies are above prosecution.

    However, it is easily stopped. In 1998 Malaysia hosted the Commonwealth Games. The Haze as it is called was fierce. You could hardly see 100 yeards and everyone had a cough. The Games were at risk of being cancelled.

    Then the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad announced that the Haze had to end. And within a couple of weeks the air was clear and the Games went ahead 4 weeks after his announcement.

    Everyone knows who owns the oil palm plantations. Everyone knows how much money is involved. Everyone knows how bad the Haze is and how much problems it causes. And everyone accepts it as a necessary evil. Everyone that has the power to stop it.

  54. Goverments are using CAGW as an excuse for internationally controlling the use of fossil fuels in order to control the world’s economy. NGOs will make money from “carbon credits” like not burning trees.

  55. ralfellis says:
    June 26, 2013 at 6:49 am
    “Allan M says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:08 am
    Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?
    St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:10). But a better tranlation is: “the love of money is (at) the root of all kinds of evil.”
    _______________________________________
    Yes, but when Ananias and his wife Sapphira did not give all their money to the disciples, St Peter murdered them both. See Acts 5. Some morality tale, that one.”

    I checked. They died of natural causes.

  56. Until the skeptic message is completely and openly a denunciation of leftist state expansionism through Green meme(s) “logic” arguments alone are going to lose.

    Worth exploring;

    * Populist hatred of carbon interests dating back to J.D. Rockefeller.

    * Direct linking of science fraud AGW to political currency.

    * Anti-capital and industrial sentiment in the general society.

    * Academic and media concentration of left-wing/Green interests.

    * Timid political response culture of the skeptic community as a rule.

    * Totalitarian declines and inclinations associated with leftist political culture and private sector weakness. Government expansion since the Civil War leading to this moment of decline.

    We’re a top-down socialist society, this is probably the largest confirmation and reinforcement since the 08’s financial “crisis” (engineered by government failure) and the existing “solution” managed by the same parties. Spaghetti graphs aren’t going to win near term and longer-term (we may already be there) logic and science will have little impact at all. We’re on the Soviet model at the moment.

  57. theBuckWheat says:
    June 26, 2013 at 7:02 am
    This couple were judged by God
    =======
    No doubt it helped boost donationations to have God “judge” those that held back. The tradition continues even to this day, mostly on Sunday’s. Truly the road to salvation is paved with gold.

  58. herkimer says:
    June 26, 2013 at 7:41 am
    countries that it competes with like Japan, Germany and China just increase their import of US coal .
    =======
    That is because the CO2 from US coal exports is like jobs. It stay in those other countries and doesn’t return to the US. Therefore, the US can export coal because it doesn’t increase CO2. We know this is true because the EPA passed a regulation declaring it true. Better known as What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

  59. Grandson of a gypo here … the moral of the story is, set up the poor countries with gypo operations to enable ad hoc cutting of naturally felled trees as well as selective cuts. We have the technology. Same goes for energy independence. Set up wild catters. These models work.

  60. Ferd, well said, They duly rolled out two captured terrorists, sorry poor subsistence farmers, claiming “problem solved”. Yes they know who is doing it, they know who owns the land and why. Action is simple but not done. We dont have a Matahir now but we have an Indonesian president who says sorry but still does nothing. According to theJjakarta Post, the law is very clear and quoted yet they can do nothing.

  61. It is amazing that the logging companies in the Solomon’s even bothered with a contract. In remote areas of SE Asia a “tilt” logging ship will anchor off a hillside on some remote island, strip the hill, and sail off none the wiser. By the time anyone discovers what has happened the logs have already been sold and the ship is searching for another remote hillside. Worse case, someone territorial policeman arrives in a broken down fishing boat to investigate before the logging completes, money changes hands and all continues as before.

  62. Thanks, Willis. I wonder how many people reading your post in the US were amazed to discover that Haitians, who don’t live that far away, still use firewood as a primary source of fuel.

  63. Inre Acts. Ananais and Sapphira attempted to make an outward appearance of having given all, in front of other people. Peter pointed out that no one had asked them to give their property; it was entirely voluntary. There was no compulsion at all. They had agreed to say that they had sold the property and given the entire price. Peter never touched them.

    So does this mean that the person who went to all the trouble to rifle through the book of Acts believes that all of the healings took place also? Do you think there is a problem with purchasing high positions, and making donations to causes in order to gain political influence? Maybe Peter should have started up a nice fat NGO and gone with the flow of donations.

    Only what is from the inmost person and voluntary is real. Manipulating outward appearances to impress people is a form of spiritual death. “Be sincere and without offense. Let your love be without acting.” That is the greatest of spiritual battles any human faces.

  64. “Stands to reason. If your house is already underwater why would you worry about sea level rise in a hundred years time.

    I thought it was a slip of the tongue when I first read, but it’s ironically approriate.”

    Saw yesterday that Obama apparently bemoaned BOTH reduced snowfall AND excessive snow melt.

  65. 1 kWh = 1 Person Day
    1 Gallon of Gas = 33 kWh
    1 Gallon of Gas = 33 Person Days.

    How much is a gallon of gas worth in a LDC?

    Why is it reasonable to buy electricity at $1/kWh?

  66. Greg Goodman on June 26, 2013 at 4:02 am
    “Thatcher (aka St Margret of Finchley) flogging off UK gas reserves, and highly profitable British Telecom.”

    DaveS has already commented about British Telecom but, in those days, up in Norfolk, a 3 to 4 week wait would have been quick, and then not that certain of delivery!

    UK gas reserves were sold at a profit, and that is after all the expense of getting out and to the pumps. What happened to the profit is the responsibility of who receives it. Thatcher was right not to use it to subsidise coal: produced at something like £120/t, with a market price of £90/t. It wasn’t sustainable!

    We still have the NHS, but the Care Quality Commission is doing its best to bring it down: rotting from the head, like a fish.

    Thatcher left office in 1990 and the country was doing OK in 1997, so what went wrong in 1997?

  67. Willis: Now, given that poverty is the greatest threat to the global environment, the inescapable conclusion is that the only way the global environment stands a chance is if poor countries can develop economically.

    Two decades ago, Dr. Carl Sagan offered his opinion that industrial development was the only practical means of slowing the world’s population growth.

    If Dr. Sagan were alive today, can we imagine what kind of response that opinion would elicit from the environmental NGO’s?

    He would be vilified as a traitor to the cause of environmentalism, that’s what.

  68. Are skeptics going to uniformly denounce the efforts of the Green left-wing and the associated corruption of science?

    I doubt that.

  69. “I loved Obama’s description of economic trouble, characterizing it as “if your house mortgage is underwater” …” ~W. Eschenbach

    Or, in the Vice President’s words,

    “Yeah, the middle class has been getting buried the last four years.”

  70. Willis,
    I would suggest that you read Paul Driessen’s book, Eco Imperialism: Green Power Black Death – it really is worth your time. He covers in great detail many of the points you raise.

    The only negative about it is that if you’re human (and of course you are) you will be so angry at the enviro-imperialist-socialist-fascist-reactionary scum that is ripping off the poor people of the world that you will want to do something with your hands. Maybe, if you already have high blood pressure, you shouldn’t read it.

    The saddest part of biofuel is that the one kind of it that might have a future is canola – I understand that varieties of it have been developed that can produce up to 50 tons of oil an acre in a single crop season (far, far more than palm oil), and can be grown in cold climates (huge fields of it in the Peace River valley in Alberta at latitude 56 north, not far from the oil sands) and on soils that are unsuitable for cereal grains. That works out to about 600 million gallons in an area of 1-1/2 square miles, and an energy density a huge multiple of that for corn grown for ethanol and especially greater than wind power. Canola oil can fuel diesel engines with only slight adjustments, and has the advantage of being sulfur free. But even this is ignored. Instead, this vile tasting, not so healthy stuff is used for human consumption. How upside down is the world we live in – we grow food for energy, and energy for food.

  71. Greg Goodman says:
    June 26, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Allan M says: …

    Really? Wasn’t Butler (an accomplished writer) using alliteration contrasting “love with “lack?”

    About St. Margaret, I thoroughly agree.

  72. Erratum in my last message – 600 thousand gallons per 1-1/2 square miles, not 600 million. Mea culpa. 600 million gallons could be produced from 1,500 square miles, which is about the area of the canola plantings in the Peace River Valley – got my figures mixed up. But the point is the same – a substantial amount of motor fuel could be produced from canola, and with far less environmental impact than ethanol, wind or solar. .

  73. Well said Willis, and it needs saying often. Here in the third world we have NGO’s trying out their ridiculous experiments in social engineering with all of the catastrophic outcomes you mention. Expensive energy leads directly to deforestation. If the third world groupies would push for cheap, ubiquitous and reliable energy for every village the natural environment would be around for centuries, instead we have . . . nothing.

  74. Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’ve added an update to the head post, viz:

    [UPDATE: For those who would like a bit more information on the connections between poverty and the environment that have lead to the photo shown in Figure 1, in 1960 Haiti and the Dominican Republic had the same per-capita real gross domestic product (GDP), They also had very similar physical conditions, as they share the same island.
    By 2012, however, the per-capita GDP in the DR had about grown to about $9,600 per year (PPP) ... and the per-capita GDP in Haiti had shrunk to about $1,200, less than it was in 1960. And as a result of the Haitians having almost no money at all, only an eighth of the GDP of the DR, both the people and the environment of Haiti have suffered badly.
    As a benchmark for comparison, Norway has a per-capita GDP (PPP) of about $60,000, and the US, about $49,000. At the other end of the scale, the Solomon Islands, classed as one of the "Least Developed Countries" in the UN rankings, is also quite poor. It has a per-capita GDP about twice that of Haiti (and a quarter of that of the DR), at around $2,500. -w.]

    w.

  75. Thank you Willis for the post, I love your down to earth style, the reality that transpires from your notes!
    The continuous push of the self called “green NGOs” is destroying the environment in many ways. So called “environmentalists” name the birds and bats chopped by wind-mills collateral damage. Same as the destruction these windmills do to the environment through the maintenance roads, cables, connectors, the increased CO2 emissions caused and grid instability is not even acknowledged.
    What about biofuels? The laws pushed by these same NGOs and so called “enviros” to burn food when people starve on this planet is a shame.
    The pellets industry chopping, transporting & burning whole woods is a totally insane business also brought to live by them.

    Very insightful also the post by Gail Combs, Gail I love to read your comments, you collected a wealth of valuable information, thank you for sharing it with us:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/25/how-environmental-organizations-are-destroying-the-environment/#comment-1347657

    And yes Gail, I also donated even not so long ago until I realised what these NGOs are really doing with the money.
    You are right NGOs are not democratic inside, and this is a major flaw that people do not realise. The politics of such organisation is dictated by the few with power and influence. Of course they do also their show to entertain and gain support.

    Also the additional post from rgbatduke, on another thread is putting all these together:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/18/the-ensemble-of-models-is-completely-meaningless-statistically/#comment-1342356

    As rgbatduke said nuclear would satisfy the energy demand and not cause CO2 emissions if this would be really a problem, but what we see is that CO2 is currently beneficial. Maybe this is the problem with these guys?

    The pointman had a couple of interesting posts about them too:

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/know-your-enemy-the-climate-activist/

  76. DirkH says:
    June 26, 2013 at 7:39 am

    ralfellis says:
    June 26, 2013 at 6:49 am
    “Allan M says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:08 am
    Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?
    St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:10). But a better tranlation is: “the love of money is (at) the root of all kinds of evil.”
    _______________________________________
    Yes, but when Ananias and his wife Sapphira did not give all their money to the disciples, St Peter murdered them both. See Acts 5. Some morality tale, that one.”

    I checked. They died of natural causes.
    ###

    There failing was not in not giving all their money, but in lying by claiming that they had in an attempt to bring glory upon themselves, kind of like greenies.

  77. Ryan says:
    June 26, 2013 at 5:13 am

    The central premise of this post depends on the majority of climate scientists being mistaken. It also depends on a false dichotomy between prosperity and unlimited fossil fuel use. In both cases, the weight of experts in the field(who admittedly have had their beginner’s mind tainted with massive doses of reality) disagrees with your assessment. Does that concern you at all?

    Ryan, welcome to the fray.

    Regarding “the majority of climate scientists being mistaken”, yes, I do think they are. The majority of climate scientists think that the earth’s temperature can be calculated very simply as lagged linear function function of the forcing.

    I have presented much evidence, spread over perhaps a dozen posts, to show that instead, the earth’s temperature is regulated by the action of a variety of thermally-controlled emergent climate phenomena. These act in concert to maintain the earth’s temperature within surprisingly tight boundaries (± 0.1% per century).

    Regarding a “false dichotomy between prosperity and unlimited fossil fuel use”, the issue is not fossil fuel use, but the relationship between poverty and energy. Prosperity depends on cheap energy, as I’ve shown here, and the only cheap energy available in sufficient quantity is either fossil or nuclear. The relevant graphic is this one:

    ORIGINAL CAPTION: Figure 1. Energy use per person (tons of oil equivalent, TOE) versus average income, by country. Colors show geographical regions. Size of the circle indicates population. The US is the large yellow circle at the top right. Canada is the overlapping yellow circle. China is the large red circle, India the large light blue circle. Here’s a link to the live Gapminder graph so you can experiment with it yourself.

    So in answer to your question, IF I have done my homework and have carefully examined my ideas, which these days includes exposing them to public comment and falsification at this site, then no, at that point disagreement with the experts doesn’t bother me at all. As the famous scientist Richard Feynman once remarked, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” There’s no other way for science to progress.

    All the best, thanks for your comment,

    w.

    PS—A “beginners mind” is not “tainted by massive doses of reality”, as you seem to think. It is sharpened by massive doses of reality. What dulls “beginners mind” is when you overlay reality with incorrect beliefs, either your own or those of the experts. As my personal spiritual guru Mark Twain once said, ” It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” …

    As an introductory book on the subject I highly recommend “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind“, by Suzuki Roshi.

  78. Another example of environmentalists destroying the environment is their opposition to genetically modified foods. No-till farming cannot be done without GM crops like roundup ready (Monsanto) or Liberty Link (Bayer) corn, soybeans, and other crops. No-till farming has turned around top soil depletion where it is practiced. The top soil is on its way back to its pre-historic state. In addition, fewer insecticides are needed for GM crops.

  79. Gary Hladik says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:41 am

    “I say that history will not look kindly on those people and organizations who are currently impoverishing the poor and damaging the environment in a futile fight against CO2…”
    ——————
    History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. With all the brainwashing of our children going on, “history” may simply attribute the inevitable disasters to insufficient application of these policies.

    Gary,
    The ‘victors’ in this case will be Chinese, Indian and Russian – and yes they will write the history of how venal and ignorant politicians in the USA and EU deliberately destroyed their countries and forced developing nations into poverty.

    Obama stands to have a legacy similar to that of Nero; only without the music.

  80. Chad Wozniak says:
    June 26, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Erratum in my last message – 600 thousand gallons per 1-1/2 square miles, not 600 million. Mea culpa. 600 million gallons could be produced from 1,500 square miles, which is about the area of the canola plantings in the Peace River Valley – got my figures mixed up. But the point is the same – a substantial amount of motor fuel could be produced from canola, and with far less environmental impact than ethanol, wind or solar.

    Chad, thanks for a great start. Unfortunately, you haven’t run the numbers all the way to the end, with a couple problems. The first is, your numbers work out to about 625 gallons per acre, which is high. Canola is a variety of rapeseed, and the numbers I find for either one are around 130 gallons per acre, not 625. But that’s not the only problem. Here’s the back of the envelope calculation.

    In 2011 the US consumed about 19 million barrels of oil a day. A barrel is 42 US gallons, so that makes the annual oil consumption about 290 billion gallons. At 130 gallons of canola oil per acre per year, that would require over 2 billion acres of land to produce.

    Here’s the problem. The total land under cultivation in the US, for all crops combined, is about half a billion acres … and we’d need over 2 billion acres just for the canola production alone.

    Or to look at it another way, the US alone would require about 290 billion gallons of canola oil … and current total world production is only about 6 billion gallons. We’d need about fifty times current world production just for the US, not counting the rest of the planet.

    I’m sure you see the difficulty. The part that folks don’t understand about canola and other biofuels is that, like wind and solar and most alternatives to fossil fuels, the energy density of vegetable oil or bio-alcohol production, in units of energy per land area, is quite low.

    All the best,

    w.

  81. ralfellis says:
    June 26, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Yes, but when Ananias and his wife Sapphira did not give all their money to the disciples, St Peter murdered them both. See Acts 5. Some morality tale, that one.

    Murder ?? Seems your imagination is playing games with you, pal.
    Maybe Lot burned down Sodom and then murdered his wife, eh?
    No, seriously: Who do you suppose pushed over the band of armed men in John 18:6 ?

    (Sorry Anthony, I couldn’t let him get away with redrum)

  82. Allan M says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Didn’t someone once write “the love of money is the root of all evil” ?

    Indeed, that was the root of the problem with the forest. However, I know little of the Bible, so I was curious about the controversy that Allan’s comment engendered. To my surprise, in the book of Timothy just before the part about the love of money being the root, etc., I find the following verse:

    All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.

    This was the exact Biblical text that was used for years in the US South to justify the institution of slavery … and since the whole point of slavery was to get more money for their masters, I find the juxtaposition both fascinating and unsettling.

    Fortunately, these days we have electrical slaves to do our bidding. I pay 12.5¢ per kilowatt-hour of energy, which coincidentally is about one days work for a slave … and until everyone has access to that kind of energy and has the money to pay for it, the modern forms of slavery will persist, and the environment will continue to be at risk.

    w.

  83. Do you think Paul should have led a violent revolt, Mr. Eschenbach? Paul sought the release of the slave Onesimus, appealing to his master Philemon to do it voluntarily, with all of his heart, out of love and in recognition of their equality before God. Subsequently, Onesimus was freed, with best wishes, becoming trained by one of the most brilliant men who ever lived.

    Also, the people of Israel were led out of forced servitude from Egypt. Slavery existed in the ancient world. Provision in the law to become a freed man was one way some cultures dealt with it. This is how it is dealt with in ancient Israel, and this is how the Etruscans dealt with it. But for every one to forsake it willingly, and from the heart, is the best way.

  84. Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Eek! What a lot of contoversy, isn’t it. I am an unbeliever, an apostate, or possibly a perfidant. I only mentioned the origin of said quotation, and added a bit of extraneous info. To be fair to Paul, slavery had been going on everywhere almost forever, and he was a man of his time (that will get me into trouble!).

    I have occasionally wondered if slavery was abolished because a paid labour force actually increases the size of the market, rather than for purely humanitarian reasons. Never bothered to do the adding up, though.

    Paul was a wonderful rhetorician. Try the famous 1 Corinthians, Ch.13. You might like that better.

  85. Zeke says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Do you think Paul should have led a violent revolt, Mr. Eschenbach?

    Zeke, I appreciate your participation, but since I’ve said nothing about either Paul or violent revolts, I’m not sure what you are talking about. It seems like you’re mighty techy about the question whatever it is …

    However, appealing to the existence of slavery in ancient times, and asking what I think Paul should have done, in an apparent attempt to justify or minimize the well-documented misuse of the Bible to keep black folks under the yoke and the lash in pre-Civil War USA, seems an odd stand to take in 2013 …

    This is particularly true since I haven’t taken any position on the subject at all, other than to note the curious (and unsettling) juxtaposition of the two verses.

    w.

    PS—Do you think Nat Turner should have led a violent revolt? I ask because your idea of appealing to the US slaveowners to “forsake [slavery] willingly, and from the heart”, well, that’s a testament to your fine Christian spirit and your good intentions.

    But it ignores the fact that at the time of Nat Turner, your recommended path had been tried for a couple hundred years with no visible change in the treatment of the slaves … all they got was the pink-colored Christian people whipping them while telling them that the Bible approved of slavery, not for the slaveowners of course, but for all of the world’s strangely-colored people, see 1 Timothy etc. … I suspect Nat was a bit over that.

    (As if being pink-colored weren’t strange enough to qualify …)

  86. Speaking of the South, one of the early settlers of the colony of the Georgia was James Oglethorpe who wanted to establish the colony with the goals of no rum, no slaves, and no large landed estates. He thought much good could be brought about by settling the colony with the poor and debtors of England, with small farms and a new beginning. Here is an excerpt from his appeal to the Crown:

    “For our Manufacturers will be encouraged to marry and multiply, when they find themselves in circumstances to provide for their families, which must necessarily be the happy effect of the increase and cheapness of our materials of those Manufactures, which at present we purchase with our money from foreign countries, at dear rates; and also many people will find employment here, on account such farther demands by the people of this Colony, for those manufactures which are made for the produce of our own country; and, as has been justly observed, the people will always abound where there is full employment for them.

    CHRISTIANITY will be extended by the execution of this design; since, the good discipline established by the Society, will reform the manners of those miserable objects, who shall be by them subsisted; and the example of a whole Colony, who shall behave in a just, moral, and religious manner, will contribute greatly towards the conversion of the Indians, and taking off the prejudices received from the profligate lives of such who have scarce any thing of Christianity but the name.” ~James Oglethorpe

    History would have been different had his charter been adopted for Georgia. Our country has paid dearly for that.

  87. arthurpeacock says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    For another view of the GM issue, see here:

    http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.3.pdf

    Sorry, Arthur, but the title is “GMO Myths and Truths”. In other words, they have started from the position that

    What I believe is true, and what you believe is a myth.

    Anyone who starts discussing a complex, nuanced, and far-from-simple subject with that point of view doesn’t get a hearing from me. There are disputes about GMOs, about which reasonable men can disagree, and I read them when I see them.

    But I won’t read a damn thing whose title implicitly says

    “Your Claims Are All Wrong and Our Claims Are All Correct”

    Since that’s the title of your recommendation … pass.

    w.

  88. Zeke says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Speaking of the South, one of the early settlers of the colony of the Georgia was James Oglethorpe who wanted to establish the colony with the goals of no rum, no slaves, and no large landed estates. He thought much good could be brought about by settling the colony with the poor and debtors of England, with small farms and a new beginning. Here is an excerpt from his appeal to the Crown:

    History would have been different had his charter been adopted for Georgia. Our country has paid dearly for that.

    Indeed it would have, thanks for a fascinating bit of history.

    w.

    … although America without rum, particularly in the 1700s, doesn’t seem like much of a party …

  89. Willis, thank you for your response. In the end, the deadly effects of slavery were manifested in a war. The North equally felt that slavery was wrong based on scriptures. We all know this, as we have all read Lincoln’s famous speech, his Second Inauguration:

    President Lincoln:

    “One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

    Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.

    Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

    With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

    Perhaps all of us can agree that slavery is not possible when there is equality before the law. If Congress passes a health care system, they should enroll in it. And so should the Unions. No waivers. (:

    ref http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/inaug2.htm

  90. Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    In other words, they have started from the position that

    What I believe is true, and what you believe is a myth.

    .
    Believe? What has belief got to do with science?

  91. arthurpeacock says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    In other words, they have started from the position that

    What I believe is true, and what you believe is a myth.

    .
    Believe? What has belief got to do with science?

    Nothing.

    Which is why I didn’t read your citation. They believe that their ideas are all truths, and they believe that others ideas are all myths.

    That is belief, not science.

    w.

  92. @Willis –

    You are certainly correct about the present yield of fuels by existing planted varieties of canola. The variety I was referring to was supposedly developed in England on an experimental farm. What has become of it, I don’t know.

    In any case, I never meant to say that canola, even the high-yielding variety which I referred to, could replace all petroleum or natural gas fuels. but it seemed possible that it might have a place in the mix for low-sulfur diesel fuel (though I would agree, not at present yields). Of course it could not replace gasoline or other lighter fractions. And again, this is contingent on that high-yielding variety being feasible for large plantations.

    It seems to me that if it is used it would be less compromising to the environment than other biofuels, and could have a much higher density than other biofuels, but ultimately, as you say, economics and land requirements will decide whether it is appropriate at all.

  93. Zeke, thanks immensely for your most apposite quote from our most philosophical President. He has summed up every issue we’ve been discussing.

    Even more amazingly, he has done so in a way that unites people rather than divides them. You can see his passion for the Union as well as his deep humanity. Thank you for reminding me of it, I’ll have to study it a bit to see if I can understand how he pulled it off.

    And yes, one law for all, no waivers for Congress, no handouts and subsidized loans for Friends of Obama™ …

    w.

    PS—I took the liberty of putting Lincoln’s words in your comment in a block quote, using the “blockquote” and “/blockquote” HTML tags. I have a keystroke that does it. I select what I what to blockquote. I use a Quickeys keystroke macro (on a Mac, there’s PC equivalents) to send the following series of actions to the keyboard, “#” marks the comments.

    command-x                  #cut the selection
    type <blockquote>    #type in the first HTML command
    command-v                  # paste back the selection
    type <\blockquote>   # cancel the HTML command

    That’s it.

  94. Chad Wozniak says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    @Willis –

    You are certainly correct about the present yield of fuels by existing planted varieties of canola. The variety I was referring to was supposedly developed in England on an experimental farm. What has become of it, I don’t know.

    Thanks, Chad. For purposes of general discussion and “back of the envelope” work, it’s my practice to use achievable, and perhaps more importantly, defensible numbers.

    In any case, I never meant to say that canola, even the high-yielding variety which I referred to, could replace all petroleum or natural gas fuels. but it seemed possible that it might have a place in the mix for low-sulfur diesel fuel (though I would agree, not at present yields). Of course it could not replace gasoline or other lighter fractions. And again, this is contingent on that high-yielding variety being feasible for large plantations.

    Indeed, and as always the devil is in the details. It would be interesting to compare various land uses for energy on a kilowatts/acre basis. Diesel contains about 150 megajoules per gallon. 160 gallons of oil per year is 25 gigajoules per acre per year. So canola oil equates to harvesting about two tenths of a watt per square metre on a 24/7 basis … go figure. Meanwhile, global 24/7 solar average at the surface after clouds is about 170 w/m2 … current solar cell yields are about 15% from memory, call it 25 W/m2.

    So purely on an energy density (watts/m2) basis, the canola oil oil is about a hundred times less concentrated than solar. Curious. Makes sense, though. Natural conversion from solar to plant material to oil is not all that efficient. Here’s some real numbers from pastures at the Texas Experimental Farm

    Solar Energy 200 W/m2
    Photosynthetic radiation 89 W/m2
    Aboveground Production 0.2 W/m2
    Belowground Production 0.8 W/m2
    Total Production 1.0 W/m2

    This is for grass, but it’s a good producer, there’s talk of using grasses as biofuels. Oil production is even worse, this is measuring all vegetable matter.

    It seems to me that if it is used it would be less compromising to the environment than other biofuels, and could have a much higher density than other biofuels, but ultimately, as you say, economics and land requirements will decide whether it is appropriate at all.

    I haven’t looked at the energy density of other biofuels … the world contains too many interesting challenges and questions.

    Regards,

    w.

  95. Being an unabashed skeptic I won’t apologize for questioning the image of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that Willis provides, the update to this post notwithstanding.

    A google image search reveals that the photo appears on several websites, none of which provides anything more than a general claim that practices on one side of the border are responsible for desertification and deforestation. The image has been well exploited but not very as carefully documented as far as I can tell thus far.

    Here’s a map of Hispaniola which suggests topography and the trade winds contribute to extreme differences between the east and west sides of Hispaniola – the Dominican Republic and Haiti respectively.

    WIllis is certainly aware of islands where the topographies create extremes in vegetation. http://cdn4.vtourist.com/6/1791828-broad_valley_near_Tuvaruhu_village_Guadalcanal_Solomon_Islands.jpg

    Do the impoverished people reside on the left side of this photo?

    That doesn’t suggest that the premise of this post is wrong. I’m just curious about the image – by whom it was taken and for what purpose.

  96. I’m delighted that Willis and I agree about I Corinthians 13.
    While agreeing that poverty is in general bad for the environment, I think that there is a bit more to the story. He saw that the younger men were well aware of the game, but were betrayed by their weak elders. To make a long story short, we might say that in a dysfunctional society, the environment is neglected. Now most dysfunctional societies have a majority of poor people (and some very rich), and most societies with a majority of poor people are dysfunctional. But they are not identical. There are certain political and historical differences between Haiti and the Dominican Republic which help to explain their differing degrees of impoverishment and hence assault on the environment. We could say that slicing off mountaintops in Appalachia is easier because the people there are relatively poor, but they are still rich by world standards. It is not their poverty but their powerlessness, as in all those cases described by Willis and others, that makes them and their environment vulnerable. Sometimes ignorance helps, as the (relatively rich) American farmers never wondered what would happen when they used up all the topsoil in the Midwest, until the Dust Bowl came along. Even Plato tells how the Greek islands were deforested long before his time. But the Chinese (mostly) had a totally sustainable agriculture, which did involve sorts of recycling that rich people would now rather do otherwise.
    Enough for now – greetings and keep up the great work.

  97. Post-script. I checked Wikipedia on the Dominican Republic, and found this item – a case of environmental pollution that is difficult to blame on the Greens.
    Environmental issues[edit]
    Bajos de Haina, 12 miles (19 km) west of Santo Domingo, was included on the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s 10 most polluted places, released in October 2006, due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling smelter closed in 1999. Cleanup of the site began in 2008, but children continue to be born with high lead levels, causing learning disabilities, impaired physical growth and kidney failure.[71][72]

  98. DGH says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Being an unabashed skeptic I won’t apologize for questioning the image of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that Willis provides, the update to this post notwithstanding.

    A google image search reveals that the photo appears on several websites, none of which provides anything more than a general claim that practices on one side of the border are responsible for desertification and deforestation. The image has been well exploited but not very as carefully documented as far as I can tell thus far.

    You’re right, I took it on faith, mea maxima culpa … however, the wind-based division of islands into wetter and drier seems totally inadequate to explain the change.

    w.

  99. Jerome Ravetz says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Post-script. I checked Wikipedia on the Dominican Republic, and found this item – a case of environmental pollution that is difficult to blame on the Greens.
    Environmental issues[edit]
    Bajos de Haina, 12 miles (19 km) west of Santo Domingo, was included on the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s 10 most polluted places, released in October 2006, due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling smelter closed in 1999. Cleanup of the site began in 2008, but children continue to be born with high lead levels, causing learning disabilities, impaired physical growth and kidney failure.[71][72]

    Jerome, thanks for joining the discussion. You seem to misapprehend my argument. I don’t blame environmental destruction on the Greens. It is the result of poverty.

    I blame the Greens for their crazy push to make energy more expensive, which directly increases both individual and national poverty, and hits the poor individuals and countries hardest of all.

    Are you defending expensive energy? Defending the Greens? Your argument isn’t clear here.

    w.

  100. Jerome Ravetz says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    … While agreeing that poverty is in general bad for the environment, I think that there is a bit more to the story. He saw that the younger men were well aware of the game, but were betrayed by their weak elders. To make a long story short, we might say that in a dysfunctional society, the environment is neglected. Now most dysfunctional societies have a majority of poor people (and some very rich), and most societies with a majority of poor people are dysfunctional. But they are not identical. There are certain political and historical differences between Haiti and the Dominican Republic which help to explain their differing degrees of impoverishment and hence assault on the environment. We could say that slicing off mountaintops in Appalachia is easier because the people there are relatively poor, but they are still rich by world standards. It is not their poverty but their powerlessness, as in all those cases described by Willis and others, that makes them and their environment vulnerable.

    Thanks as always for your analysis, Jerome.

    Mmmm … we’re talking about the global environmental problems. In that context, when you say “it is not their poverty but their powerlessness”, it appears that you have some society in mind in which someone making $2 per day swings a lot of power. I fear that ideal is a consequence of your Marxist upbringing.

    Because other than in Marxist theology, or maybe for two weeks after the Russian Revolution, I’ve never seen or heard of a country where the guy making two bucks a day had any kind of power at all, and I’ve looked …

    Nor is it a case of a “dysfunctional society”. Yes, in this instance the big men got drunk … but if they hadn’t, they would have simply been offered more money than their richest dreams. And if the young guys still objected, they’d have been bought off too. The loggers could have bought every man in the room a brand new house for a hundred grand, and it would have been a hundredth of their profits … and they’ve done it. Literally. They did it regularly. A new house in Australia was the going price for a Cabinet Minister there for a while.

    So it’s not some complex societal deal involving the political system and how it functions. Did you ever interact with the Malaysian logging companies? I’ve played that game a while, dealt with them in business a lot. Their favorite trick? Come in, take all the logs, transfer-price them so they don’t pay local taxes, don’t do anything they promise to do, run up big bills with the local suppliers, and then leave the country owing their local workers money, even the janitors and the like … and when the people come to complain about the unpaid bills?

    They find out that the Company office is closed. And if they go to Malaysia to file suit for unpaid debts and unfulfilled binding contracts?

    They find that the Company no longer exists, it has gone bankrupt and vanished …

    If you think some ideal ultra-functional island democracy could stand up to that kind of amoral greed, you should get out more in really poor countries. You need money (or guns, I suppose) to stand up to that overwhelming monetary pressure. To counter that kind of rapacious plundering action, noble principles just don’t cut it …

    Sometimes ignorance helps, as the (relatively rich) American farmers never wondered what would happen when they used up all the topsoil in the Midwest, until the Dust Bowl came along. Even Plato tells how the Greek islands were deforested long before his time. But the Chinese (mostly) had a totally sustainable agriculture, which did involve sorts of recycling that rich people would now rather do otherwise.

    Certainly, ignorance is a factor … but good gracious, my friend, consider the connection between ignorance and poverty, either relative poverty or global-style poverty.

    Enough for now – greetings and keep up the great work.

    Thanks for the thought, Jerome, it’s good to hear from you.

    w.

  101. the only way the global environment stands a chance is if poor countries can develop economically.

    And as you accurately state, energy is the key. Solar panels and wind turbines will never power a global civilization of 9 billion people, period.

  102. Thanks Willis. I have said it before…….many environmental groups are the worst enemies of the environment and wildlife. Why? They have a hidden agenda. The UKs Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had its very own bird shredding wind turbine!!!!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/06/rspb-installs-wind-turbine

    Should I mention green groups taking oil and tobacco money? Nahhhh. Maybe on another thread, unless someone goads me. :-(

    Ladies and gentlemen. If you care about the environment then please stop funding the Sierra Club. WWF, Nature Conservancy, Delhi Sustainable Development Summit and other similar groups. They are encouraging the destruction of the biosphere in the name of co2 reduction and take money from abominable sources. ;)

  103. @ Willis…I remember that from a different angle. I had a portable sawmill in the mid 70s, and had also worked in the woods for 6 years during that decade. On visits back to my hometown of SF and the family restaurant, I remember meeting a friend of my father in our Nob Hill restaurant, who after hearing that I was a logger/sawmill worker, he then told me about the lucrative hardwoods trade that was becoming the big thing. The trick was to secure the proper legal international paperwork to allow for the export of the material. At that time in the late 70s almost all of the available {public lands} old growth had been logged in the Pacific Northwest. I participated as a chokersetter in that time. I remember seeing one log loads going down the road, although not many even back then. The money interests were heading north to Canada/Alaska, or south to the tropical forests. Hardwoods, of course, being the most valuable wood product on the market.

    In recent years, where I have become involved in the CC conversation, it comes to my mind that the devastation of the forests is in great part what the climate change discussion should really be about. Especially, when the loss is happening in the most sensitive of all spots to heat changes, the Tropics.

  104. having worked on both sides of Santo Domingo I can attest to the stark difference as you fly from the Dominican side to Haiti (was in Haiti last year – looked like the quake happened the day before – not two years before) not that the Dominican side of the island is graft free but the Haitians take it to an entirely new level and that’s what killed the project I was there for (TV – for those that know what I’m blabbering about its the only DVB-t SFN in the western hemisphere)

    hotel was made out of shipping containers stacked 4 stories high and parking lot was full of UN trucks

  105. My God, the thought of Easter Island just popped into my mind when reading the comments. Is this how thoughtless basic man really is? What is that stupid saying that has been passed on for some time about ‘ he who doesn’t remember the past….’!!! They ate their neighbors!!! Is this what our world has to experience as a whole before we wake up?

  106. And the warmists have the nerve to worry about the ocean possibly rising, when the real threat to those who live there is right there in front to be seen by all the world, and seems to continue unabated.

  107. This ends up in a bizarre position—the actions of the major environmental NGOs are ensuring continued environmental destruction in the developing world.

    Willis, Willis, why go to the developing world? Look closer to ‘home’. I am so glad you brought this up as I did the thing some threads back. If some people in developed nations feel the need to cut down trees for fuel then what about the poor of the developing world? IT IS A NO BRAINER. I know because I see it.

    Der Spiegel – 17 January 2013
    Woodland Heists: Rising Energy Costs Drive Up Forest Thievery
    Germany’s forests have become an attractive target for thieves.

    With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. Woodsmen have become more watchful.

    Der Spiegel – 17 June 2013
    Darkness and Debt: German Cities Get Creative to Slash Costs
    “So, can you see anything? Nothing, right? You see absolutely nothing. Cool, no?” says Oliver Junk. It’s a bit past midnight, and Junk is right. There’s nothing to see, absolutely nothing but the deep, dark night.

    Greek Reporter – 24 January 2012
    Greeks ‘Fell Trees for Warmth’ Amid Economic Chill
    Rising oil prices and chilly economic times are prompting increasing numbers of Greeks to chop down trees for winter warmth,…

    The Mercury – 13 May 2012
    Thefts cut deep
    UNLAWFUL and dangerous tree-felling in forestry areas is fuelling a growing illegal firewood trade, Forestry Tasmania says.

  108. Jerome Ravetz says:
    June 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm
    … a case of environmental pollution that is difficult to blame on the Greens…
    …due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling smelter closed in 1999.

    I think you missed the point of the post – Greens do not create pollution directly – how would they, being green? They do it by setting system up in such a way that it gets vulnerable to being polluted by someone else.

  109. Thanks Willis. One of your best articles, I think.
    Almost incredible, but sadly true!
    Yes, “poverty is the greatest threat to the global environment”. This is a self-evident truth, or a sure sign of what?
    One day, I hope soon, your words will heard by many, and they will have meaning and change hearts.

  110. Hoser says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:07 am
    To make it, we need to build relationships with people. We will have to depend on each other, not bureaucrats.
    ——————–
    That is a key point !

  111. Gaia put humans here to reverse the death-spiral of geological sequestration of CO2. We should get on with it.

  112. The poor of the planet get shafted coming and going.

    On one hand, we have lunatic radical “environmentalists” doing all they can to prevent them from becoming prosperous. On the other, we have the most rapacious and ethics-free capitalists on the planet buying off the desperately poor for pennies compared to the profits.

    I was interested to read about the Big Men in your post. Tribal societies are usually run by Big Men, which presumably works OK as long as they are living a traditional lifestyle. However, as almost nobody on the planet still lives like that in a pure sense, the Big Men and their clans have become instrumental in some of the worst atrocities inflicted on tribal societies – Papua New Guinea and some remote Aboriginal communities in Australia are prime examples. The deals they make may be small potatoes in the big picture, but since the proceeds are channeled to a minority (themselves and their kinfolk) the rewards are worth it from their point of view.

    In Australia, the politically correct approach of allowing Aboriginal communities to run their own affairs and spend taxpayer or developer monies pretty much however they like has resulted in billions of dollars being siphoned off by the Big Men and their families since the policy was anointed in the 1970s. The sad thing is, since they didn’t have to work for it and there was always more money coming down the chute, most of it was wasted anyway – they should be rich, but mostly have affluent lifestyles and few or no assets. Those outside the charmed circle are still dirt-poor, of course.

  113. johanna says:
    June 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    The poor of the planet get shafted coming and going.

    It’s true, and I still hate to see them get shafted by the environmentalists … that’s avoidable.


    I was interested to read about the Big Men in your post. Tribal societies are usually run by Big Men, which presumably works OK as long as they are living a traditional lifestyle. However, as almost nobody on the planet still lives like that in a pure sense, the Big Men and their clans have become instrumental in some of the worst atrocities inflicted on tribal societies – Papua New Guinea and some remote Aboriginal communities in Australia are prime examples. The deals they make may be small potatoes in the big picture, but since the proceeds are channeled to a minority (themselves and their kinfolk) the rewards are worth it from their point of view.

    I can’t fault the Big Men in this one, it would have happened if they’d been elected to office. I went through several stages.

    At first I was furious with the logging company, for being so sleazy and underhanded as to get them to sign drunk.

    Then I thought, “Wait a minute …”. I thought, these Big Men are not American Indians who never tasted firewater in their life. They’ve all been drunk before, probably during that very same week. They know damned well what it does to your judgement. So then I was angry at them.

    But then I thought no, they were just weak and overawed by lack of education and experience and money. The logging company sent in educated, smooth, charming guys wearing fine, expensive clothing and flashing lots of gold, big rings, chains. The big men were all dressed alike—shorts and t-shirts, brought in used or factory seconds in bundles from Australia. I realized that rather than get embarrassed by their predictable inability to negotiate with the loggers, they had taken the easy way out and gotten drunk.

    Then I was angry at the young guys, for not standing up against the big men … that lasted about long enough to realize that under unbreakable tribal custom, they were expected and forced to defer to their elders, just as they would expect and demand that same deference when they got really old … say fifty … life is short there.

    It took a while, but I finally realized that unless and until the poor countries get to where people are adequately fed and clothed and housed, they would always be at the mercy of those kinds of greedy and amoral groups of men that have been with us forever …

    As to the question of graft, and government benefits not making it past the big men, in the Solomons that doesn’t happen because of “wantok biznes”. When I went to the Solomons I saw signs that said “No Wantok Biznes.” I had to have them explained to me, of course.

    In the Solomons, people don’t self-identify as Solomon Islanders, or even as from Malaita Island or Guadalcanal Island. Instead, the basic unit is the tribe. In part this is because there’re about half a million people there … and about sixty mutually unitelligible languages are spoken there. Your people, the ones you identify with, are the people who speak your own language. Or in the local lingua franca, Solomon Islands Pijin, those who talk your language have “one talk”, one language … and in Pijin, that’s spelled “wantok”, one talk. So your wantoks are the people of your tribe.

    And “wantok biznes”, or “one-talk business”, means the tradition that if you have something and one of your older wantoks needs it, you have to share. It’s deadly in a store, of course, because the clerks are constantly pressured to give the goods to their tribesmen … hence the signs, “No Wantok Biznes”.

    However, the upside is that the wantok system is what passes for social security insurance. It is also the reason that not a lot of any of the ten thousand dollars likely stuck to the bigman’s hands … because he’s expected to provide for the tribe, that’s part of being a bigman. Sure, he keeps a majority of whatever boons he can provide, or more likely a plurality … because as soon as he has the money, he’ll have an unending parade of aunties and cousins and great-uncles laying claim to some small part of it … not much each one, but there’s a lot of them.

    The same system exists in Fiji, curiously, despite the fact that they have a much more hereditary form of government. There, it’s called “kere-kere”, and like many things Fijian, it’s got complex rules about who can “kere-kere” an object from someone else. It’s more rigid, too. You can refuse to give your wantok something, although you’ll get social pressure. But with here-kere, if for example your mother’s brother wants something of yours, he just takes it, it’s his right, and everyone understand that.

    And just as in the Solomon Islands, it’s the only form of social insurance until very recently, and for that, it works very well.

    All the best, I may add some of this to the head post, thanks for sparking it,

    w.

  114. Thanks Willis. I do understand the ‘wantok’ thing, it operates similarly with Australian Aborigines, who speak many languages. In Aboriginal groups, family or clan is even more important than wantok, so there is a hierarchy of people who are owed degrees of loyalty.

    The trouble is, in many of those communities it means that young men extort pension money from their elderly relatives (especially women) for gambling and drugs. The extortees don’t call the cops because it would shame the family and get the guys into strife with the police. So, thanks to the operation of family loyalties in a new environment (where there is free money coming in), the old folks get robbed. They don’t starve, because another family member slings them some food. But they may get their electricity or phone cut off, because nobody ever slings useful amounts of cash.

    I don’t want to make too much of this – graft and nepotism are hardly confined to tribal societies. But it is just another turn of the screw, in that the ugly hybrid of tribal custom and free cash has resulted in people who were once objects of respect (older relatives) now being aggressively targeted for their money under the guise of family obligation.

  115. Bravo, Willis on another illuminating story. One of the first comments I ever made here was to point out the link between poverty and environmental degradation – I think in response to another of your evocative stories posted several years ago. This connection cannot be emphasized strongly enough, and I agree wholeheartedly with your beautifully articulated thesis.

    @Jerome Ravetz:

    You wrote ‘Sometimes ignorance helps, as the (relatively rich) American farmers never wondered what would happen when they used up all the topsoil in the Midwest, until the Dust Bowl came along.’

    I just wanted to point out that these farmers were encouraged in their practices by the pioneering American ecologist Frederick Clements, whose belief in ecological succession and the deterministic existence of a climax community, was shaped by climate and geography, led him to teach that no matter what was done to the mid-western land by human beings, nature could recover to its original state. He considerably changed his views after the Dustbowl. I believe Peter Bowler discusses this in his book The Norton History of the Environmental Sciences.

  116. A very important part of wealth is diversity and alternatives.

    Chad mentioned using enhanced canola as a bio fuel. Great possibly the only real use for it. He calculated how much land would be required to fulfill all USA fuel demand. Out popped the naysayers in force.

    It happens all the time, Chad was making a point not a policy statement. If you just supplied 5% of demand, you reduce the need for fossil fuels by 5%, lower pressure on prices and also increase the total supply by 5%. You also add diversity into your fuel mix and reduce the opportunity to price fix.

    The comments also led me to think, re fossil fuels, new technology allows both gas to be converted to viable liquid fuels and the opposite, heavy oils to be converted to light vehicle fuels.

    Cannot the same technology be used to convert heavy biofuels into lighter fuels?

    I feel that by swiping at max/min claims we really miss the point. Palm Oil is not a food but a cooking oil and feedstock, like fossil oil, of many products. It is also one of the few crops suitable for global markets that grow in the tropics. Yes Bananas, mangoes, etc but supply meets demand there.

    Dont forget, I am choking on the Haze, so I do have an anti axe to grind but try to remain objective.

    Green policy kills jobs, livelihoods and Denys low cost energy to the poorest. It is also fickle, claiming that land clearance for oil palm is evil but land clearance for firewood is goods gift to humanity. No watermelon will answer that question for me. Amazing.

    A lot of land is very poor quality, unable to support food or commercial crops but as Chad says, this land is ideal for Canola, and Palm Oil and several other fuel crops.

    A sensible approach is to use the poor unproductive or set aside land for such crops.

    Sadly it seems sensible approaches are not possible.

  117. My National Guard unit supported Operation New Horizons in Haiti in 2005. I traveled to Haiti three times, and managed to spend a fair amount of time seeing it from the back of a Blackhawk helicopter. It is simply indescribable to see the border with the Dominican Republic. The picture is accurate, but the actual scale, and what it says about life in Haiti is so vast.

    We left Port Au Prince via landing craft, making a mile run out to the US Naval ships at anchor. The garbage in the huge bay is mind boggling. If you were to take a 30 gallon garbage can and toss the garbage from it across the floor you would have about the same density of garbage as covers this bay…but look beneath the water’s surface and you see tons of garbage suspended…and I’m to feel guilty for my carbon footprint?

    Willis, BTW, I approached this trip with a beginner’s mind. A great way to travel through life.

  118. Willis, here is an earlier article from Pointman. He more or less says what you have said time and again. [my bolding]

    ….When the ordinary person is prosperous and feeling good, it gives them the time, the leisure and the disposable wealth to care about things beyond life’s essentials. It’s not difficult to get them interested in the environmental fundamentals such as clean air and water, and conservation of endangered flora or fauna.

    Conversely, when people are hungry, desperate or under economic stress, care for the environment drops to the very bottom of their list of concerns. Every honest opinion poll in the developed world has been showing this since the recession began. In the developing world, if desperate people need heat and light, they’ll keep doing things like burning every tree in sight until there isn’t a single one left, Haiti being an extreme and terrible example of the latter.

    If what people in poverty need to do to get by, is trash the environment, that’s exactly what they’ll do and they’ll be right as well. People first, planet second. If you are seriously expecting them to do anything else, you really need to park your ideological baggage on one side for a moment and really think – this argument is a no brainer. When you stress people, they go back to basics – they’ll look after themselves and their dependents and to hell with you and your tender environmental concerns. You’re the one living in cloud cuckoo land, not them…..
    …….

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/some-thoughts-about-policy-for-the-aftermath-of-the-climate-wars/

    Comfortable environmentalists in the West just don’t get it. Shoe on other foot is absolutely essential to understanding the destruction of the environment in developing countries. Go to England and you will see the green rolling fields of farmland stretching out into the horizon. Much of what you see today used to be forested.

  119. It’s morning and my wife is getting ready to start up the preparation for lunch. We use charcoal. If we had coal it might save some trees but what the heck. If we didn’t have charcoal I would buy firewood. If we didn’t have firewood on sale I would use LPG bottled gas. If I didn’t have gas I would drive 30km to my empty lot of land and chop down one of my trees and transport it home for firewood. If I didn’t have these trees I would pay someone to ‘find’ wood for me. If this wasn’t available I will burn anything that burns to cook my food. Solar cookers have a tendency for inefficiency during the overcast days of the rainy season.

    There you have an example of what is going on and I’m relatively well off compare to most local people surviving on less than $2 a day, I get by on $40 per day. So what is the family man on $2 per day expected to do? He can’t afford charcoal or LPG bottled gas. The use of fossil fuels saves the environment and adds much needed co2 fertilisation to the air.

    Randall J. Donohue et. al. – 31 May, 2013
    Abstract
    CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

    [1] Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. The role in this greening of the ‘CO2 fertilization’ effect – the enhancement of photosynthesis due to rising CO2 levels – is yet to be established. The direct CO2 effect on vegetation should be most clearly expressed in warm, arid environments where water is the dominant limit to vegetation growth. Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilisation effect is now a significant land surface process.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract

    May 2013
    Abstract
    A Global Assessment of Long-Term Greening and Browning Trends in Pasture Lands Using the GIMMS LAI3g Dataset

    Our results suggest that degradation of pasture lands is not a globally widespread phenomenon and, consistent with much of the terrestrial biosphere, there have been widespread increases in pasture productivity over the last 30 years.

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/5/5/2492

    10 APR 2013
    Abstract
    Analysis of trends in fused AVHRR and MODIS NDVI data for 1982–2006: Indication for a CO2 fertilization effect in global vegetation

    …..The effect of climate variations and CO2 fertilization on the land CO2 sink, as manifested in the RVI, is explored with the Carnegie Ames Stanford Assimilation (CASA) model. Climate (temperature and precipitation) and CO2 fertilization each explain approximately 40% of the observed global trend in NDVI for 1982–2006……

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gbc.20027/abstract

  120. Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    They believe that their ideas are all truths, and they believe that others ideas are all myths.

    Might I respectfully suggest that judging the content of a paper by its title is something we ought to leave to Cook et al?
    Actually my quarrel wasn’t with you anyway. I entirely agreed with your post.
    (Apologies for taking so long to respond, it’s morning in the UK.)

  121. Grey Lensman says:
    June 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    A very important part of wealth is diversity and alternatives.

    Chad mentioned using enhanced canola as a bio fuel. Great possibly the only real use for it. He calculated how much land would be required to fulfill all USA fuel demand. Out popped the naysayers in force.

    Actually, I calculated the land required to fulfill all US oil demand. It was about 2 billion acres.

    It happens all the time, Chad was making a point not a policy statement. If you just supplied 5% of demand, you reduce the need for fossil fuels by 5%, lower pressure on prices and also increase the total supply by 5%. You also add diversity into your fuel mix and reduce the opportunity to price fix.

    Oh, man, another true believer. It all sounds good … but it doesn’t make sense, or cents.

    To provide even 5% of US fuel demand, we’d need to plant canola on about a hundred million acres of good arable land.

    Total land under cultivation in the US is about 500 million acres. And while you can grow canola on “marginal” land as you guys say, what happens is that you get marginal yields.

    So it would be a huge endeavor to just plant that much land, 20% more than we’re currently farming. But that’s not the real deal-killer. Here’s the real problem.

    It’s not profitable.

    Around here, they grow grapes on fairly marginal land, grapes don’t seem to mind. At the end of the year, after all expenses, the farmers can make a profit of up to $40,000 per acre on the crop in a good year, sold just as it comes off the vine, no post-processing at all.

    Now, consider canola on fairly marginal land. You might get 100 gallons of oil per acre instead of the 130 gallons you’d get on good land. Now to get that 100 gallons of oil, you’ve got to not only disk and harrow and plant and fertilize and weed and harvest the canola seed. In addition, you’ve got to run the seed through a screw expeller to get out the oil, which of course uses energy. And then it has to be clarified and filtered and treated to be a usable fuel.

    And at the end of the year, from your acre you have 100 gallons of biodiesel worth maybe $350 retail, less wholesale, whoopee … and that’s your GROSS, not your net. The grape growers NET $40k per acre per year after expenses … but $350 worth of canola oil will hardly pay the costs of production.

    Finally, food grade canola oil today is selling for $4.96 per gallon in one tonne lots … so if I went to all the trouble to make canola oil, why would I sell it as diesel for $3.50 per gallon, when I can get fifty percent more per gallon for it as food?

    So please, my friend. Before you start complaining about “nay-sayers”, run the dang numbers. Anyone can talk pie-in-the-sky, but the numbers don’t lie unless you waterboard them. And if the numbers say nay, who am I to disagree?

    Because if we could run cars economically on canola oil today … with all the pressure for fuels, don’t you think we’d be doing it?

    w.

  122. From Willis Eschenbach on June 26, 2013 at 11:55 am:

    To my surprise, in the book of Timothy just before the part about the love of money being the root, etc., I find the following verse:

    All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.

    This was the exact Biblical text that was used for years in the US South to justify the institution of slavery … and since the whole point of slavery was to get more money for their masters, I find the juxtaposition both fascinating and unsettling.

    Amazingly Wikipedia does (currently) have a well-balanced entry about Biblical slavery. It could be rather “civilized” compared to what is considered historical slavery, which is still alive and well in Africa and elsewhere although its existence is generally ignored by polite activists too busy fighting carbon demons.

    It could be like indentured servitude, people would sell themselves as slaves for a few years to pay off a debt. Or an apprenticeship, to learn a trade. Among fellow Israelites in the OT, expanded to “fellow brothers in Christ” in NT, the treatment was decent for the time.

    Note the “quirk” of Joseph, hero among the Hebrews, revered for getting his people through the “seven years” of famine by getting them moved down to Egypt and eventually all were enslaved, but didn’t starve. With Egyptian double-dealing etc they were there for centuries until Moses got them out. Clearly they were expecting better treatment than oppressive “better off dead” slavery.

    Thus when Paul sent back a slave to his master, it can be reasonably inferred the guy, who was not mistreated, was likely welching out on a debt.

    And as they were all “brothers in Christ”, slaves should give their masters the same full respect due all other fellow siblings in Christ.

    I ain’t no biblical scholar, only read the relative OT parts a few years back. The previous is my take on the issue. All are equal before Christ, same respect for all, etc. YMMV.

  123. arthurpeacock says:
    June 27, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    They believe that their ideas are all truths, and they believe that others ideas are all myths.

    Might I respectfully suggest that judging the content of a paper by its title is something we ought to leave to Cook et al?

    Not when the title reveals the clear prejudices of the authors … maybe you have time to mess with that kind of thing. I don’t. For example, if the title of a paper is “Why Deniers Can’t Face The Scientific Truth”, I don’t waste my time reading the abstract. Not enough hours in the day. I have to constantly triage the incoming information.

    Actually my quarrel wasn’t with you anyway. I entirely agreed with your post.
    (Apologies for taking so long to respond, it’s morning in the UK.)

    Thank you sir, handsomely said.

    w.

  124. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    June 27, 2013 at 2:38 am

    From Willis Eschenbach on June 26, 2013 at 11:55 am:

    To my surprise, in the book of Timothy just before the part about the love of money being the root, etc., I find the following verse:

    All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.

    This was the exact Biblical text that was used for years in the US South to justify the institution of slavery … and since the whole point of slavery was to get more money for their masters, I find the juxtaposition both fascinating and unsettling.

    … Thus when Paul sent back a slave to his master, it can be reasonably inferred the guy, who was not mistreated, was likely welching out on a debt.

    And as they were all “brothers in Christ”, slaves should give their masters the same full respect due all other fellow siblings in Christ.

    I ain’t no biblical scholar, only read the relative OT parts a few years back. The previous is my take on the issue. All are equal before Christ, same respect for all, etc. YMMV.

    I am totally unclear what your point is here. Is it that Paul was reasonable for his time? Or that Biblical slavery was kinda OK compared to worse things?

    Before the civil war, that verse was used to justify the worst imaginable abuses against powerless people … but I’m not saying that was Paul’s fault. That was the fault of the folks who would use any prop or support for their belief that they were entitled to own other humans.

    Finally, if Paul had spoken out against slavery he’d have been laughed out of Dodge. It was part and parcel of the social fabric of the time. Speaking against slavery in the year dot would have been like speaking out against car ownership today. Nobody would understand it.

    Thanks for your comments in any case,

    w.

  125. Small nit pick Willis, I would have added (in bold) “educated”.

    “It took a while, but I finally realized that unless and until the poor countries get to where people are adequately fed and clothed and housedand educated, they would always be at the mercy of those kinds of greedy and amoral groups of men that have been with us forever …”

  126. Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Thank you for your impressively prompt response! I appreciate the fact that you might well have read the document in question, if you hadn’t been put off by its title. Obviously one can’t possibly read everything.

    I hope someone will read it though, as it’s very informative.

  127. The Energy-Impoverished 99% Have Now Been Saved!

    Student Innovators Turn Garbage Into Cooking Fuel

    One man’s trash may be another man’s … cooking fuel? So says a team of student innovators who’ve invented a mini-press that turns garbage into a firewood alternative.

    High school students at Pinelands Eco Regional High School in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, designed an inexpensive wooden press that can squeeze biowaste, such as banana peels and peanut shells, into charcoal-size briquettes for cooking.

    The 2.5-foot-wide (0.7-meter-wide) press, targeted toward people in developing countries, addresses two major environmental problems: The carbon dioxide and other pollution caused by burning wood, and deforestation, which is occurring at a rate of about 46 to 58 million square miles (119 to 150 square kilometers) of forest each year—equivalent to 36 football fields a minute, according to WWF. (Related: “Five Surprising Facts About Energy Poverty.”)
    (…)

    Having eaten an entire banana once in school, including the peel, I could see using the peel as food.

    First, the team identified the main agricultural exports of the ten countries where forests are disappearing the fastest, such as Ghana and the Philippines. People in these countries, they reasoned, could use leftover products from these exports in their mini-presses. For instance, Ghana sells a lot of peanut shells, and the Philippines sells a lot of banana and sugar cane.

    “Around here we have a lot of pine needles, so we used pine needles to test our briquettes,” Zarych said in a phone interview.

    After successfully producing the briquettes—which generally burn around 20 minutes—”we did an [emissions] test compared to wood, and we found that the cooking briquettes produced less CO2 and carbon monoxide than wood burning,” she said. (…)

    Pine needles, as in evergreen trees, softwoods, pine tar, creosote buildup and fires in chimneys? What non-COx emissions were being given off?

    The team used sawdust or newspaper to as a binding agent to keep the briquettes to stay intact. In developing countries, people could use a starchy substance like guava root extract.

    Because they wouldn’t need starch for food, a drying agent, glue, or a hundred other things that seem more important.

    Oh, see the linked “5 surprising things” piece. Summary: We greedy bastards need to give the UN many times more money so the UN can achieve the UN’s Green Clean energy goals using renewables, which are to supply all of the non-1%energy-impoverished with UN-approved Green Clean energy, which is hampered by the ungrateful wretches breeding too fast, and countries (as governments own all resources) who raise hard money by selling their energy to other countries without first giving it away to all their residents. Shocking, I know.

  128. Grey Lensman says:
    June 26, 2013 at 1:41 am

    To date none of those burning Sumatra and bringing South East Asia to its knees have been arrested let alone charged.

    But there is good news.

    The brave indomitable Indonesian Police have arrested two poor subsistence farmers for burning rubbish, just as they have done for thousands of years.

    When I first read that two people had been arrested I thought bullshit. I smelt a rat somewhere and suspected bigger men were involved. I didn’t bother investigating further.

  129. A few years ago I flew from Sint Maarten to Jamaica and the flight went right along the S. coast of Hispaniola. The border between the DR and Haiti from N. to S. was just as you see in the photographs above. The Captain even commented on it to the passengers.

  130. From Willis Eschenbach on June 27, 2013 at 2:54 am:

    I am totally unclear what your point is here. Is it that Paul was reasonable for his time? Or that Biblical slavery was kinda OK compared to worse things?

    Retracing the meandering creek:
    Line about “respecting masters” used to justify “Southern-style” slavery.
    Which I’ve seen used before to trash Bible/Christianity/”organized religion” as endorsing cruelty.
    Except it wasn’t cruel, by prevailing standards, per Moses the treatment was very “progressive”.
    So if someone wishes to take that line as endorsing slavery, it should be noted it is not the “cruel” sort of slavery.

    When people talk of slavery, they tend to think of scenes from Roots, slaves shackled, whipped bloody, crippled so they couldn’t run away. But per Moses, if you strike your slave then you may have just given them freedom. Such abuse wasn’t condoned.

    So as you said “This was the exact Biblical text that was used for years in the US South to justify the institution of slavery …”, you should know it’s not the same slavery.

    Not much of a point if referring to the monolithic all-encompassing “institution of slavery”, all of it is equally bad, always. But I dislike the wholesale anti-religion trashing based on such lines, which I’m not saying you did, you cannot control all the interpretations of your words, thus I find the distinction worth noting.

    Finally, if Paul had spoken out against slavery he’d have been laughed out of Dodge. It was part and parcel of the social fabric of the time. Speaking against slavery in the year dot would have been like speaking out against car ownership today. Nobody would understand it.

    If you try to explain to people the difference between Biblical slavery and the the life of the Chinese factory workers who made their clothes they buy from Walmart to high-end boutiques, is the Chinese don’t have multi-year fixed contracts and the Israelite slaves were treated better, they don’t understand it much either. Slavery is bad, those Chinese are willing employees, right?

  131. Nice analysis Willis and on the whole I agree. The point I made was 5% where practical. Provides diversity and more secure total energy supply. The low returns still provide employment for the poor and income. The inputs in terms of labour are not that great.

    Its a problem the Palm Oil estates here have. The value as cooking oil/food additive is higher than fuel value. But the demand from Europe to meet their mandates means despite that land must be cleared and planted..

    It all boils down to cost of production and in certain local cases, higher costs can be adsorbed by higher social values.

    Just like wind, Oil in the ground is free, the cost being extraction. Same with wind, land prices for purchase or rent will rise according to demand.

    But the essay is about wealth and environment thus my argument stands. Using some biofuels adds to the wealth mix, for the poor. Similarly Geothermal is a massive resource here but struggles to get off the ground. It could make a huge difference to poor subsistence farmers and land owners.

  132. Well, to be honest the best way to save the Solomon’s forests would be to out-bid the lumber companies.

  133. Jared Diamond had a discussion about the Haiti-Dominican republic difference in “Collapse”, and a shorter version here:

    http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?storyid=4776

    There are lots of differences: Haiti gets less rain, has worse soils and much higher population density. Many of the trees in Haiti were cut down by the French while it was a colony etc.The Dominican republic also used draconian laws to protect its environment, which is hardly something advocated on this blog.

    The argument that the border show that poverty leads to environmental destruction is fundamentally flawed. It might be slightly better, although still an oversimplification, to say that environmental destruction led to poverty.

  134. From Thomas on June 27, 2013 at 8:35 am:

    There are lots of differences: Haiti gets less rain, has worse soils and much higher population density.

    Because as is well known in biology, poor soils and less rain in an area leads to naturally occurring razor-sharp demarcation lines at political boundaries.

    The Dominican republic also used draconian laws to protect its environment, which is hardly something advocated on this blog.

    From the FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5647e/y5647e05.htm

    “Climate Change and the forestry sector”

    Dominican Republic

    In December 1999, the Dominican Republic enacted a new forest law (Ley 118-99). Article 95, paragraph I of the law allows the national forestry agency, INAREF, to adopt regulations creating special incentives to promote the valuation of the environmental services of forests, including carbon fixation. The State will also issue negotiable reimbursement certificates to finance 80 percent of the expenses of capital and investments made in the establishment and handling of plantations and management and protection of forests. The expenses include payment of all the existing taxes.

    With the “carbon credit” market going away, doesn’t look like that’ll help much. See that page, other countries did much more.

    “Law and Sustainable Development since Rio – Legal Trends in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management”, Rome 2002 (some sort of meeting, this is official write-up)
    From “10. Forestry”, http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y3872e/y3872e0b.htm

    Much talk about worldwide deforestation, binding UN agreements to combat desertification, etc (bold added):

    3.2.1. Environmental Values

    Current forest legislation also tends to be more specific in requiring that environmental criteria be considered in the formulation and implementation of management plans (e.g., Guinea’s Forest Law of 1999). Such a requirement often applies to both production and protection forests (e.g., Benin’s Forest Regulations of 1996). The collection of environmental and biodiversity information is also increasingly prescribed as part of legally mandated forest inventories (e.g., 1999 Forest Law of Mozambique). In addition, laws frequently establish forest categories that embody specific environmental objectives, requiring that each type of classified forest be managed according to a distinctive conservation regime. Illustrations of these include forest nature reserves, watershed forests, coastal area protection forests or other categories designed to protect certain indigenous forests from commercial logging (e.g. 1996 Forest Act of Zanzibar, 1998 Forest Law of Cuba, 1999 Forest Code of the Dominican Republic, 2000 Forest Law of Peru).

    In conjunction with the opportunities expected to arise from the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, attempts to reflect the potential of forests to fix carbon are becoming discernible in a few laws. So far, however, the FCCC and the KP have barely influenced domestic forest laws, and climate-related provisions remain scarce and unspecific in forest legislation – although some examples exist. The Forest Acts of China (1998) and of Peru (2001) contain brief statements in this regard, tying forestry to climate in general terms. Under the 1999 Forest Law of the Dominican Republic, regulations may be made to create incentives for managing forests for environmental services such as carbon sequestration. The Australian state of New South Wales, through a 1998 amendment to its property legislation, recognized a separate legal interest in the carbon sequestration potential of forest land.

    Then comes many paragraphs of Protection Measures, Licensing Requirements, etc… And the Dominican Republic is not mentioned in any of them.

    Searching specifically for that 1999 law, Google found a WWF page about the forests of Hispaniola, the island the countries share. Since the youngest reference is from 2000, it looks like another abandoned/forgotten web page of warnings, as such scaremongering only gets updated when upgraded, not when downgraded.

    http://worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/nt0127

    Current Status
    According to Dinerstein et al. 1995, more than 90% of this ecoregion’s original habitat has been lost and there is at least one original habitat block larger than 500 km2, which makes up about 1% of the ecoregion. The degree of fragmentation is average because the fragments are somewhat grouped. The annual rate of habitat conversion during the period 1990-95, from intact to altered, was about 2.5% There is at least one protected area with an intact habitat block larger than 500 km2. According to Olson et al. 1996, the gaps in bio-geographical data on the ecoregion are sufficient to hamper protection and conservation efforts. The gaps in taxonomic data are not as large although greater knowledge is still needed. According to the Dominican Republic’s 1999 National Human Development Report (based on interpretation of Landsat images from 1988 to 1996), latifoliate cloud forest in this country covers 2.29 %, latifoliate forest 6.54%, and semi-wet latifoliate forest 4.25%, for a total of 13% (Grupo Jaragua 1994). The forest situation of Haiti is an even greater concern in that only 1.44% of the total original forest coverage remains (Strauss 2000). Less than 200 km2 of unaltered rainforest remains in Haiti (STD 1979)

    In the Dominican Republic, this ecoregion is protected in part in the Armando Bermúdez National Park (766 km2, IUCN category II), the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park (764 km2, IUCN category II), the Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve (409 km2, IUCN category IV), Ébano Verde Scientific Reserve (23 km2, IUCN category IV), the Sierra de Neiba National Park (407 km2, IUCN category II), the Sierra Bahoruco National Park (1.027 km2, IUCN category II), the Mirador del Paraíso Scenic Route (IUCN category V), the National Park of the East (433 km2 , IUCN category II) and Los Haitises National Park (208 km , IUCN category II) (CEP 1996; UNEP 1997).

    In Haiti, this ecoregion is only represented in parts of the Pic Macaya National Park (55 km2, IUCN category II) and the La Visite National Park (20 km2, IUCN category II) (CEP 1996; UNEP 1997; DNP (Dirección Nacional de Parques) 1980).

    So basically your reported use of “…draconian laws to protect its environment, which is hardly something advocated on this blog”, amounts to National Parks, and something whipped up to join in on the Kyoto “carbon credit” gravy train.

    You said: “The argument that the border show that poverty leads to environmental destruction is fundamentally flawed.”

    But since the repeated example worldwide is that hungry people with family and self to feed don’t care about National Parks and will willingly poach wildlife and trees to take care of their own first, if the people of the Dominican Republic are respecting the National Parks and the forestry laws, then they are prosperous enough to afford to respect them.

  135. LOL, Willis said

    Quote

    Because if we could run cars economically on canola oil today … with all the pressure for fuels, don’t you think we’d be doing it?

    Unquote

    SO why are so many windmills being built and so many solar plants??

    The guys earning usd $2 per day, could live better off two or three acres of canola according to your figures.

    They are the ones that count after all

  136. Thomas says:
    June 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Jared Diamond had a discussion about the Haiti-Dominican republic difference in “Collapse”, and a shorter version here:

    http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?storyid=4776

    There are lots of differences: Haiti gets less rain, has worse soils and much higher population density. Many of the trees in Haiti were cut down by the French while it was a colony etc.The Dominican republic also used draconian laws to protect its environment, which is hardly something advocated on this blog.

    The argument that the border show that poverty leads to environmental destruction is fundamentally flawed. It might be slightly better, although still an oversimplification, to say that environmental destruction led to poverty.

    Thanks, Thomas. Diamond’s book “Collapse” has been shown to contain a number of … well let me be generous and call them “mis-statements of fact“. Following that, he was sued by one of the Papua New Guineans he quoted in his New Yorker piece. At this point, if he told me it was raining, I’d look out the window …

    Here’s an example. The FAO and the IIASA did a fascinating study some years ago, called the “Global Agro-Ecological Zone” (GAEZ) study. It analyzed the cropland of the planet for its suitability for use as rainfed cropland. When I read your list of Diamond’s claims, I realized I could test one claim easily, Diamond’s claim that Haiti has worse soils. Here’s the comparison of the country. Note that the GAEZ study is not looking solely at the types of soil. It also looks at rainfall, as well as at the steepness of the slopes, and the temperature, to determine suitability. Here’s the results for Haiti and the DR:

    The graph shows the suitability of the land for raid-fed agriculture, taking into account all the variables including rainfall. As you can see, Jared’s claim falls apart … the suitability of the soil for raid-fed agriculture is nearly identical in the two countries.

    Next, rainfall. Unlike many islands, Hispaniola doesn’t have a very distinct dry and wet side, because the trade winds shift with the seasons. Here’s a rainfall map

    As you can see, most of both Haiti and the DR gets 75-150 cm (30-60 inches) of rain per year. There are rainier sections of the DR and of Haiti, but they’re up in the mountains. In truth, there’s plenty of rain for agriculture almost anywhere on the island … for example, you state (correctly) that the land has been logged, starting with the French a century or two ago.

    But you don’t draw the obvious conclusion—how do you think that the Haitian forests grew for the French to harvest, if there was insufficient rain and the soils were too poor for agriculture?

    In other words, my friend, you’re just another poor shlub who got fooled by Jared Diamond, put your name down on the list. Not the first by any means, my name’s on the list too, I used to be one of them. His claims grow more unbelievable every year.

    My sense is that he shot his full load when he wrote “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. In succeeding work, he’s become increasingly frantic to find the new overturning theory that sets the world on its ear the way “G,G,and S” did …

    My best to you, thanks for the comment,

    w.

  137. Grey Lensman says:
    June 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

    LOL, Willis said

    Quote

    Because if we could run cars economically on canola oil today … with all the pressure for fuels, don’t you think we’d be doing it?

    Unquote

    SO why are so many windmills being built and so many solar plants??

    Umm … can you say “subsidies that totally distort market forces and support unprofitable green foolishness”?

    I knew you could …

    w.

  138. kadaka, I wasn’t talking about the 1999 law, but much earlier, for example during the Trujillo era. A rather nasty dictator who apart from enriching himself did protect nature and at one point went so far as to order a large scale massacre on people who had crossed the border from Haiti. That’s one way of ensuring the poor don’t “poach wildlife and trees to take care of their own first”.

    Willis, interesting diagram and map, although I am somewhat amused by how uncritically you accept UN data on this subject. UN generally isn’t very popular on this blog. The GAEZ diagram is a bit coarse for any quantitative assessments on agricultural productivity too. The fact that agriculture is possible on a piece of land says nothing about the expected yields.

    You say the rainfall is up in the mountains as if that rain didn’t count, but that water will flow down towards the coast and can still be used. While there may be enough rain on both sides for some agriculture, differences may still affect yields.

    Your comment on forests is strange. Forests can grow on areas with low agricultural productivity. The trees won’t grow as fast, but then there had been plenty of time before the French.

    I’m well aware that Diamond is somewhat controversial and has been known to overstate his case, but he still has a lot interesting to say, and I fear your counterarguments in this case are not convincing.

  139. Thomas says:
    June 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    … Willis, interesting diagram and map, although I am somewhat amused by how uncritically you accept UN data on this subject. UN generally isn’t very popular on this blog.

    Thanks, Thomas. If you haven’t picked up on it, there is actually a difference between the FAO and the General Assembly. I use FAO data because I’ve not found it to be wrong, nor read anyone saying it was wrong. If you have information that it is bad data, let me know. On the other hand, if you don’t have a scientific criticism of the FAO or GAEZ data either, please reconsider your unpleasant accusation that I “uncritically” accepted the data.

    The GAEZ diagram is a bit coarse for any quantitative assessments on agricultural productivity too. The fact that agriculture is possible on a piece of land says nothing about the expected yields.

    The GAEZ website is here. Their results are reported on a 5′ x 5′ gridcell basis, which is about six miles on a side. And yes, contrary to your assertion, their analysis explicitly does give expected yields. Here’s their methodology (emphasis mine):

    The AEZ methodology follows an environmental approach; it provides a standardized framework for the characterization of climate, soil and terrain conditions relevant to agricultural production. Crop modeling and environmental matching procedures are used to identify crop-specific limitations of prevailing climate, soil and terrain resources, under assumed levels of inputs and management conditions. This part of the AEZ methodology provides maximum potential and agronomically attainable crop yields for basic land resources units (usually grid-cells in the recent digital databases).

    The AEZ computations were completed for a range of climatic conditions, including a reference climate (average of period 1961-1990), individual historical years of 1960 to 1996, and scenarios of future climate based on the published outputs of various global climate models. Hence, the AEZ results consistently quantify impacts on land productivity of historical climate variability as well as of potential future climate change.

    The FAO/UNESCO Digital Soil Map of the World (DSMW) has been made the reference for constructing a land surface database comprising of more than 2.2 million grid-cells at 5’ latitude/longitude within a raster of 2160 rows and 4320 columns. On the input side, the key components of the database applied in AEZ include the FAO DSMW and linked soil association and attribute tables, a slope distribution database, and a layer providing distributions in terms of eleven aggregate land-cover classes derived from a global 30 arc-seconds latitude/longitude seasonal land cover data set. On the output side, many new data sets have been compiled at grid-cell level and have been tabulated at country and regional level, including general agro-climatic characterizations of temperature and moisture profiles, and time-series of attainable crop yields for major food and fiber crops.

    If you knew that and you actually think the GAEZ analysis is “a bit coarse”, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. On the other hand, if you didn’t know that, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Your choice.

    You say the rainfall is up in the mountains as if that rain didn’t count, but that water will flow down towards the coast and can still be used. While there may be enough rain on both sides for some agriculture, differences may still affect yields.

    Numbers, numbers, numbers. You should use them. The FAO says that land suitable for irrigation in the DR is about 6% of the total arable land, and it’s 4% in Haiti. In other words, rain flows down the mountains in Haiti too. In any case, at 4% and 6%, the areas are too small, and too similar, to be material to this discussion.

    Your comment on forests is strange. Forests can grow on areas with low agricultural productivity. The trees won’t grow as fast, but then there had been plenty of time before the French.

    The French left Haiti in 1804, and took a lot of timber with them. But forests grow back, particularly when logged by oxen and hand-saw. Big-time logging in Haiti didn’t start until 1954, after Hurricane Helen blew down lots of trees. After they were milled up, the equipment was in-country, and the denuding of the country began in earnest. I hardly think that 19th century French loggers are responsible for the following:

    I’m well aware that Diamond is somewhat controversial and has been known to overstate his case, but he still has a lot interesting to say, and I fear your counterarguments in this case are not convincing.

    Hey, I’m not trying to convince you, Thomas. Your mind appears to be made up, and I’m happy you disagree with me. I’m writing, as I always do, for the lurkers. They are the ones with the final say.

    In any case, since you like Jared Diamond, here’s a quote from him (emphasis mine):

    Because the Dominican Republic retained much forest cover and began to industrialize, the Trujillo regime initially planned, and the regimes of Balaguer and subsequent presidents constructed, dams to generate hydroelectric power. Balaguer launched a crash program to spare forest use for fuel by instead importing propane and liquefied natural gas.

    But Haiti’s poverty forced its people to remain dependent on forest-derived charcoal from fuel, thereby accelerating the destruction of its last remaining forests.

    Jared Diamond is telling the same old story … on half the island, inexpensive renewable hydroelectric power allowed for industrialization and development, which saved the country’s forests. On the other half, you have Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, along with the rest of the country, which for decades have all run on only the finest pure, natural, organic, renewable, biodegradable charcoal … do you see now why I say that expensive energy harms the environment, and that cheap energy helps the environment?

    In any case, how is what Jared Diamond says in that quote any different from what I’m saying?

    Best regards to you,

    w.

  140. Willis, I do not know enough about the GAEZ analysis to have any opinion on it, but I repeat that the diagram you showed does not give enough information to say anything about agricultural yields, nor was it very helpful of you to give the link to the main site if you want to point me to some map buried there which does give that information.

    Your final quote from Diamond just shows that you see what you want to see. The Dominican Republic was rich enough, and had strict enough environmental laws, that they could afford to build hydroelectric dams and import expensive energy rather than cutting down their forests for (in the short term) cheaper domestic energy the way Haiti did. This is an argument for environmental laws, not cheap energy.

    P.S. If you want to complain about “unpleasant accusations”, please avoid phrases like “In other words, my friend, you’re just another poor shlub who got fooled by Jared Diamond”. The combination makes you sound like a hypocrite.

  141. Back here in the “first world”, the proponents of this goofy “raise the price of energy” idea state that tax rebates for the poor will balance everything out. Now of course, these rebate ideas rarely work, other than perhaps occasionally and in the very short term. But yet tax rebate ideas seem popular. It’s almost another example of the big men getting some good whiskey from the men in suits.

  142. Thomas says:
    June 28, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Willis, I do not know enough about the GAEZ analysis to have any opinion on it, but …

    … but despite admitting that you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll give us your opinion on it anyway. Pass …

    Your final quote from Diamond just shows that you see what you want to see. The Dominican Republic was rich enough, and had strict enough environmental laws, that they could afford to build hydroelectric dams and import expensive energy rather than cutting down their forests for (in the short term) cheaper domestic energy the way Haiti did. This is an argument for environmental laws, not cheap energy.

    Say what? Diamond said nothing about strict laws in that quote. Here it is again so you can check:

    Because the Dominican Republic retained much forest cover and began to industrialize, the Trujillo regime initially planned, and the regimes of Balaguer and subsequent presidents constructed, dams to generate hydroelectric power. Balaguer launched a crash program to spare forest use for fuel by instead importing propane and liquefied natural gas.

    But Haiti’s poverty forced its people to remain dependent on forest-derived charcoal from fuel, thereby accelerating the destruction of its last remaining forests.

    Point out the part about strict environmental laws in that paragraph, Thomas.

    But yes, you’re right about the rest, Diamond did say that they were wealthy enough to build dams and to import inexpensive energy … so no, that’s not an argument for environmental laws at all. It’s an argument for ending poverty You don’t seem to understand that laws are useless when people are hungry. Let me repeat my story about the firewood seller in Costa Rica, to show you how much laws matter.

    When your kids are hungry, all the barriers are down, all the boundaries are meaningless. Environmental destruction means nothing to a hungry man, and even less to a woman with hungry kids. I once asked firewood seller in Costa Rica where he was cutting his firewood. “En el Parque Nacionál,” he said, “In the National Park”. I asked politely whether that might be, well, you know … illegal … “Oh, yes,” he said, “I feel bad about that, but when my children are hungry, what can I do?”

    I had no answer for him.

    Heck, there’s lots of laws in the Solomon Islands as well, what the island council did was totally illegal … and the fact that it was illegal didn’t make the slightest difference. Why? Poverty.

    P.S. If you want to complain about “unpleasant accusations”, please avoid phrases like “In other words, my friend, you’re just another poor shlub who got fooled by Jared Diamond”. The combination makes you sound like a hypocrite.

    Your statement was unpleasant because it was untrue. In particular, you made the false accusation that I accepted the FAO data “uncritically”. I did no such thing. I said if you had evidence that my acceptance was wrong, bring it out … you’ve provided nothing. Polite thing to do is either back your statement up with facts, or take it back. Your choice.

    Moving on, you are right, I shouldn’t have called you a “shlub”, it was unmannerly, and I retract that entirely, and apologize to you for it.

    On the other hand, near as I can tell, the essence of my statement is true. You in fact are a man who got fooled by Jared Diamond, and your latest post merely confirms it … the only good news is, it’s a curable condition. Look, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” was brilliant. I read it and thought (and still think) that it was a work of genius.

    “Collapse”, on the other hand, had a number of errors, sometimes egregious errors. My conclusion was that Diamond was so desperate to be cutting edge, to be the man with the red-hot new theory, so anxious to be the “enfant terrible”, that he was rapidly making himself into a one-hit wonder.

    This was only reinforced by his getting sued by the driver he used in PNG, and by the revelation that his entire article in the New Yorker was just a story that the PHG driver had made up and spun him to pass the time on the highway. The informant simply told Jared what he wanted to hear, and Jared fell for it entirely, and the result was he ginned up an entire theory of agression around the driver’s fairy tales, and got part of it published in the New Yorker … a misleading, meaningless theory based on nothing but one man’s tall tales that Jared believed.

    So you’re welcome to think that Jared is a reliable source of information. At this point, I question everything he says.

    All the best,

    w.

  143. Willis, I’m still waiting for you to give any quantitative estimate showing the Haiti has equal agricultural productivity as the Dominican Republic. You claim GAEZ shows this, but the one diagram you showed certainly doesn’t. So far you haven’t shown that Diamond is wrong in any fundamental way about the difference between Haiti and the Dominican republic, although your map on rainfall suggest that he may have been exaggerating a bit on that point.

    “Diamond said nothing about strict laws in that quote.” It is however a reasonable extrapolation from the text, and in fact in his book Diamond does state that Balaguer banned commercial logging, which is confirmed here: “In 1967, Balaguer passed law 206-67, which banned lumbering and made all trees, including those on private land, property of the state, rules ruthlessly enforced by the newly created military-run forest police.”

    http://home.sandiego.edu/~kaufmann/hnrs379/Holmes_2010.pdf

    Diamond didn’t say anything about cheap energy in the quote either, and imported propane and natural gas isn’t exactly cheap. Your statement about cheap energy was based on your own bias, not on what Diamond wrote.

    While you are right that poor people do cause environmental destruction it’s often small compared to what richer people do. Your firewood seller may poach a few logs, but in many areas of the world big companies do large scale logging in supposedly protected areas, mining and oil companies tear through nature etc. Laws and the ability to enforce them is what makes the difference, not poverty level. Richer countries often, have stricter laws and better ability to enforce them, but there you have a chicken and egg problem: do they have laws because they are rich, or are they rich because they have laws?

    From wikipedia’s page on Costa Rica: “Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (developing world average 13%, developed world average 8%)”. Picking Costa Rica of all countries for an example of how poorer countries can’t protect their nature was certainly odd.

  144. Thomas says:
    June 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Willis, I’m still waiting for you to give any quantitative estimate showing the Haiti has equal agricultural productivity as the Dominican Republic. You claim GAEZ shows this, but the one diagram you showed certainly doesn’t.

    I didn’t say that “Haiti has equal agricultural productivity as the Dominican Republic”. Ever. So you’ll wait a long time for me to give a quantitative estimate for something I never said.

    So far you haven’t shown that Diamond is wrong in any fundamental way about the difference between Haiti and the Dominican republic, although your map on rainfall suggest that he may have been exaggerating a bit on that point.

    That’s your response? He wasn’t wrong about rainfall, he was just “exaggerating a bit”? Where I come from that’s called “wrong”. Try telling the IRS you weren’t lying about your deductions, you were just “exaggerating a bit”, and see how far that goes in the real world.

    And I have also shown that his claim that the soils in Haiti are much poorer than in DR is total bullshit. That’s what the GAEZ study showed, despite the fact that you don’t understand it. Soils in the two countries are quite similar, not surprising since they share the same island.

    “Diamond said nothing about strict laws in that quote.” It is however a reasonable extrapolation from the text, and in fact in his book Diamond does state that Balaguer banned commercial logging, which is confirmed here: “In 1967, Balaguer passed law 206-67, which banned lumbering and made all trees, including those on private land, property of the state, rules ruthlessly enforced by the newly created military-run forest police.”

    http://home.sandiego.edu/~kaufmann/hnrs379/Holmes_2010.pdf

    Great. He said it in the book. I said nothing about the book. I just gave you a quote from Diamond. Do with it what you wish.

    Diamond didn’t say anything about cheap energy in the quote either, and imported propane and natural gas isn’t exactly cheap. Your statement about cheap energy was based on your own bias, not on what Diamond wrote.

    Bullshit. What do you think the part about hydroelectric power was about if it wasn’t about cheap energy? … you sure you understand these energy related issues? Because if not, here’s a pro tip:

    Hydropower = cheap electricity

    While you are right that poor people do cause environmental destruction it’s often small compared to what richer people do. Your firewood seller may poach a few logs, but in many areas of the world big companies do large scale logging in supposedly protected areas, mining and oil companies tear through nature etc. Laws and the ability to enforce them is what makes the difference, not poverty level. Richer countries often, have stricter laws and better ability to enforce them, but there you have a chicken and egg problem: do they have laws because they are rich, or are they rich because they have laws?

    You might have a “chicken and egg” problem, Thomas. Me, I’ve been out in the field. When people and countries are poor the environment gets screwed. You seem to think it makes a difference whether the environment is screwed by the poor themselves or by the rapacious exploiting the poor. You can go all “chicken and egg” on that if you wish … me, I’m just recounting the facts.

    From wikipedia’s page on Costa Rica: “Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (developing world average 13%, developed world average 8%)”. Picking Costa Rica of all countries for an example of how poorer countries can’t protect their nature was certainly odd.

    Are you really that dense? The point is not how many parks they have. Heck, governments around the world declare parks all the time.

    The point is that because of their poverty, poor people are chopping down the trees in the National Parks in Costa Rica.

    Why is this so hard for you to understand? The actions of the environmentalists in fighting for expensive energy are keeping the world’s people poor, and when people are poor the environment suffers.

    If you can’t figure out the chicken and the egg in that one, I’m not going to your restaurant for scrambled eggs …

    w.

  145. Some further information from the FAO …

    Deforestation in the Dominican Republic

    More trees have been cut down in the past 20 years than in the whole previous history of the Dominican Republic, according to Dr Abelardo Jiménez Lambertus, president of the Instituto Dominicano de Bioconservación. At this rate all the country’s forests will be destroyed in only another 10 years. A major cause is illicit tree-cutting.

    Dr Jiménez Lambertus says that the Crónicas de las Indias mentioned that Santo Domingo had abundant vegetation, and that as late as 1910 the forest area constituted about 50 percent of the country’s territory. By 1967 that area had already decreased to about 11.5 percent. The urgently necessary solution, he says, is to cease deforestation immediately and start massive, high-quality afforestation.

    Dr Antonio Thomen, a Dominican expert in ecology, says that, unfortunately, the Dominican Republic does not have a cohesive policy in the forest sector. Dr Thomen proposes, among other solutions, the establishment of a national council for the defence of the environment, the prohibition of tree-cutting, the urgent implementation of a broad reforestation and national tree-repopulation programme, and the establishment of community forests and energy resource farms, to prevent total destruction of the environment in the Dominican Republic and save its endangered forest resources.

    Note the problem—illegal tree cutting. Why? Poverty. The DR, while far from being as poor as Haiti. is still poor … and the poor, as I said, will cut down every tree if they need it to stave off poverty.

    w.

  146. Willis, it’s clear you are so convinced you are always right you are uninterested in listening to other viewpoints, or even consider that you may be wrong, instead resorting to more and more insults. Further discussion is therefore pointless.

  147. What is pointless is trying to argue from a false premise. I wouldn’t doubt that the border between the two countries in question is visible from space. To posit that this is based on soil and rain fall is untenable.

  148. Thomas says:
    June 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Willis, it’s clear you are so convinced you are always right you are uninterested in listening to other viewpoints, or even consider that you may be wrong, instead resorting to more and more insults. Further discussion is therefore pointless.

    My friend, I’m so far from “always right” it’s not funny. I’ve had to admit being radically wrong right here on WUWT. Heck, I’ve got a post here called “Wrong Again” … where’s yours? I’m always aware, all too aware, that I may be wrong. It haunts me, and it drives me to make sure my positions are backed by facts rather than by Jareds.

    In this case, I have provided a host of details, citations, stories, facts, and analyses to back up my claims that poverty leads to environmental damage.

    In response, you have provided … Jared Diamond saying it’s due to rainfall and difference in soils.

    I figured OK, so I provided more details, citations, stories, facts, and analyses to show exactly why and where Diamond is wrong. He’s so wrong at times that he’s had to totally disown a full piece written in the New Yorker … so I went and spent an hour or so doing research, finding the maps and facts that show Diamond is wrong about Haiti.

    In response, you have provided … more Jared Diamond. And accused me of insulting you.

    I’m sorry, Thomas, but this is a scientific website. Diamond has been shown to be a very unreliable source. As such, your idolatry of Diamond means nothing without facts to back it up … and you haven’t provided any. Not one.

    I gave facts about Diamonds false claim about the rainfall. You provided nothing to back up his claim, except to say it wasn’t an error, just an exaggeration … riiiight …

    I also provided facts about Diamonds false claim about the comparison of the soils. You provided nothing except a complaint that you didn’t understand the GAEZ results … now, the GAEZ results are the most detailed and definitive comparison of the suitability of soils for farming that exists on the planet. I’m amazed that you think that Jared’s assertion somehow trumps the GAEZ results, and I’m sorry you can’t understand them, but I can’t help that. I can point the results out for you, Thomas, but I can’t understand them for you …

    And now you say the real problem is that I’m convinced I’m right? Sorry, I think you’ve mistaken me for your mirror. Because even with all the facts I’ve produced, I’m still not convinced I’m right. I think I am right, of course, because so far, I’m the one with the facts and citations and maps and data on my side.

    But if you ever extract your digit, and start providing us with something other than suspect claims from Jared Diamond, that could change. Because if the facts change, I change my opinion.

    However, it seems you’ve decided to take your ball and leave, complaining that we don’t believe your uncited claims …

    Gosh, I am so depressed to hear that. I mean, we’re so woefully short on folks who make wild claims that they can’t back up and then leave in a big snit, so losing even one makes a big difference …

    Not.

    w.

  149. Hello Willis:

    I’ve been away but in trying to catch up on WUWT I found that I just had to keep reading this post and comments. Fascinating, thank you.

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