Green Notes – November 2012

From the November 2012 issue of Green Watch:

In May, the U.S. State Department denied a request for additional security funding for the U.S. embassy in Libya. Four days later, the State Department authorized U.S. diplomats in Vienna to spend $108,000 to buy a charging station for their motor pool’s new Chevy Volts. At least they had their priorities in order!

The new Matt Damon movie Promised Land is an attack on “fracking,” the drilling process being used to access previously unrecoverable oil and natural gas so successfully that it could help make the U.S. energy independent. The film is the latest in a long line of movies—Them!, George C. Scott’s Rage, Erin Brockovich, etc.—that exploit people’s ignorance on environmental issues. But as filmmaker Phelim McAleer notes in the New York Post, the allegations of fracking-related environmental damage that inspired the film have turned out to be false. “There is a war going on in parts of America,” McAleer adds, “between impoverished locals and urban elites. These elites are using fraud, exaggeration and celebrity star power to stop rural communities from prospering through gas drilling.” Who else opposes fracking in the U.S.? The Heritage Foundation reports the Damon film is financed in part by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, a country that ranks 7th in proven natural gas reserves.

“When a country’s economy expands, its energy use and carbon pollution [sic] go up, up, up. When a recession strikes, energy use drops and emissions sink back down,” writes Brad Plumer in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Alas, according to a new study, recessions won’t be enough to cure global warming because, as Plumer notes, “people get used to a higher-carbon lifestyle and maintain it even during a downturn. . . . In any case, few environmentalists think we should tackle global warming by inducing a lasting recession or stopping economic growth altogether. (Though, granted, a few have raised the idea.)” Thank goodness it’s only a few!

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail, Great Britain’s second-largest daily paper, reports that “The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released [in October]. The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures. This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.”

Britain is one of the major victims of global warming theory, with an estimated 2,000 people a year dying because of anti-carbon policies that have made energy unaffordable. But there’s hope: The new Energy Minister, John Hayes, declared that, while the government will continue to pursue carbon goals, “So long as I am the energy minister, the high-flown theories of cognitive bourgeoisie Left academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light, and transport—energy policies, you might say, for the many not the few.”

Tesla, the electric-car maker, was recently down to $67 million in cash (50 days of expenses) when the federal government eased the terms of its $465 million loan—which allowed the company to raise $193 million in a secondary stock offering and stay afloat through the election. The company, owned principally by Elon Musk, produces the all-electric Model S at $50,000 each (after taxpayer subsidies in various forms). Musk, a top supporter of President Obama, is CEO of SpaceX, the NASA-funded company that delivered freight to the International Space Station, and chairman of the taxpayer-funded solar power company SolarCity. Writes Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner: “Musk is the paradigmatic political entrepreneur, launching businesses that seek to capitalize on government favors and lobbying clout rather than provide goods or services that consumers demand.”

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