Monthly Notes

Green Notes December 2013

From the December 2013 issue of Green Watch:

Columnist Michael Barone reported on the November election: “Environmental restrictionists met with defeats by voters in South Portland, Maine, where voters rejected a ban on tar sands oil from western Canada (though how it would get there, even if and when the Keystone XL pipeline is built, is not clear), and voters in Washington state, who rejected mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods by 53 percent to 47 percent.”

A White House report, noted by Michael Bastasch in the Daily Caller, revealed that 18 federal agencies funded “a wide range” of Global Warming programs, including “scientific research, international climate assistance [foreign aid], incentivizing renewable energy technology and subsidies to renewable energy producers,” at a cost this year of $22.2 billion. That’s nearly twice what the federal government spends on, say, customs and border enforcement.

The Climate Policy Initiative is an environmentalist group headed by former Stanford law professor, Thomas Heller. Founded in 2009 with a pledge of $10 million a year for 10 years from billionaire activist George Soros, the organization promotes “green” policies around the world. A recent CPI report claims that worldwide spending to fight so-called climate change—spending that CPI calls “investment”—has now reached approximately $1 billion a day, a rate that CPI considers woefully inadequate. Put in perspective: $1 billion a day is more than the combined income of the world’s billion poorest people. Poor people, it should be noted, are the principal victims of “green” policies that deny them (and others) access to cheap, abundant energy.

It’s not just poor people who need to be saved from the environmentalists; it’s the environment itself. The Associated Press recently examined satellite photos and found that “More than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of ethanol . . . Plots that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and soybean fields.” In fact, “Five million acres of land set aside for conservation—more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined—have vanished on Obama’s watch” due to the ethanol mandate. AP reported that “plowing into untouched grassland,” a result of the ethanol program, “releases carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the soil,” “increases erosion,” and “requires farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals.”

How wasteful are “green energy” programs? Bjorn Lomborg, an environmental activist but not an extremist, writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Today Spain spends about 1% of GDP throwing money at green energy such as solar and wind power. The $11 billion a year is more than Spain spends on higher education. At the end of the century, with current commitments, these Spanish efforts will have delayed the impact of global warming by roughly 61 hours,” according to an oft-cited climate model created at Yale University.

We’ve reported recently on the unfortunate results when golden eagles and other birds come into contract with wind turbines. Solar facilities may have similar problems, Gannett news service reports. Many of California’s solar plants are along four major migratory paths for birds. In some cases, it appears, birds perceive solar panels to be bodies of water and dive into them. In other cases, feathers are damaged by the concentrated solar radiation, causing birds to crash to the ground.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia hilariously describes land owned by the federal government as “owned by American citizens represented by the National Federal government according to the Interior Department” [sic].  In all, the U.S. government owns almost 30% of the country, the equivalent of 43% more than the combined area of Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. Federal holdings include more than half of five states. That isn’t enough for some people. The Los Angeles Times reports: “Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will recommend that President Obama act alone if necessary to create new national monuments and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills. Jewell . . . warned that the Obama administration would not ‘hold its breath’ waiting for lawmakers to act.” (Apparently, Jewell considers democracy an obstacle that must be overcome.) The Secretary noted that “there are places that are ripe for setting aside,” such as the President did when he acted unilaterally to create the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California.

CRC’s Haller intern Malia Dalesandry contributed to this report.

Dr. Steven J. Allen

A journalist with 45 years’ experience, Dr. Allen served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and as senior researcher for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. He earned a master’s…
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