Monday, August 31, 2015

Why Gov't Economic Programs Create Losses

Why do so many laws passed with good intentions and seemingly desirable goals so often fail? And why do they so often worsen the problems they are supposed to solve—and hurt people they are supposed to help? In previous postings we noted: 1) government programs to reduce intake of fats in the name of lessening heart disease actually led to weight gains and increased danger of diabetes and heart disease, 2) government efforts to improve the federal school lunch program by increasing consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables led to fewer student drinking milk, many skipping meals entirely, more “junk” food snacks being eaten, and vast quantities of fruits and vegetables being thrown away, and 3) government policies to reduce salt consumption are more dangerous than the salt Americans devour. The government recommendation for daily sodium intake is 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams or fewer. But people consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium were found to have a 27% higher risk of heart problems, stroke or death than those consuming 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams.

Now the issue is banning plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail establishments. More than a hundred cities and counties have already done so, and others are considering it to reduce litter, the use of petroleum feedstock in manufacturing the bags, and the use of landfills. The bans are done with the implied or expressed intent that consumers will switch to reusable bags.

The effects of the bans, however, have not been what the advocates expected. A study from the Institute of Law and Economics of the University of Pennsylvania Law School found reusable grocery bags contained potentially harmful bacteria. Examining hospital emergency room admissions related to these bacteria, Professors Jonathan Klick and Joshua D. Wright found emergency room visits spiked when the ban went into effect. “Relative to other counties, ER admissions increased by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.” Using standard statistical estimates, they found the associated health costs “swamp any budgetary savings from reduced litter. This assessment is unlikely to be reversed even if fairly liberal estimates of the other environmental benefits are included.”

In May 2013 the Los Angesles Times reported, “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October.”

Researchers at the University of Arizona and the Loma Linda University School of Public Heath randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They reported, “Bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems....Bacteria was found in 99 percent of the tested bags, nearly all of which were made of woven polypropylene. Half carried coliform bacteria; eight percent carried E. coli.”

Various studies state that nearly all dangerous bacteria in reusable bags can be removed by washing them, but 97 percent of the people using them don't wash them. The San Francisco ordinance states that reusable bags must have a usable life greater than 125 uses and, furthermore, must be durable enough to be washed and disinfected at least 100 times. Because the usable life requirement exceeds the number of washes requirement, the ordinance assumes the bag will not be washed after every use. The Klick and Wright study notes that “washing such bags will itself have negative environmental consequences through excess water use. Further, the detergents necessary to clean the bags add to the environmental costs, as does the use of water hot enough to kill the bacteria.” Kofi Aidoo, Professor of Food Science at Glasgow Caledonian University, is a leading expert on bacterial toxins and food-borne diseases. He says, “If people are going to have to pay for bags and re-use them my concern is we're creating a high risk of food poisoning. At the very least people have to be given advice to clean these bags every time they use them." 

Common plastic bags are environmentally superior to reusable ones in many ways. Manufacturing them requires less than half the energy needed for compostable plastic or cloth bags and less than a third of what's required for paper bags. A higher percentage of energy can be recovered (through combustion) from the single-use plastic bags than from the other two types. Making plastic bags requires less than 6 percent of the water needed to make paper bags. And cloth bags are much more challenging to recycle since they contain a combination of materials including metal, cotton and other fabrics.

In a comparison of quantities of municipal waste by weight, the production, use and disposal of single-use plastic bags produces a net 15.51 pounds of municipal solid waste; compostable plastic bags, 42.32 pounds; paper bags, nearly 75 pounds.

A report from the National Center for Policy Analysis states, Studies show that plastic bags represent a tiny portion of litter and that banning them has not reduced the amount....According to the Keep America Beautiful campaign, plastic bags are not one of the top 10 sources of litter nationwide.” In Austin, Texas, plastic comprised 0.6 percent of the city's total litter—but that is high because it included other types of plastic, not just plastic bags. A statewide study in California found plastic bags were only 0.3 percent of the waste. In San Francisco, plastic bags accounted for 0.6 percent of the city's litter before the ban—and 0.64 percent after the ban. 
The United Kingdom’s Environmental Agency found paper bags were more environmentally harmful than plastic bags in every category: global warming potential, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity and photochemical oxidation. It also found plastic bags were environmentally superior to reusable cloth bags. It said cloth bags would have to be used 104 times to surpass the environmental performance of plastic bags.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We Need a Constitutional Convention, Part 2

In the same way that EPA has extended its control over water—and even land—under clean water laws (See Part 1), it has exceeded Constitutional authority and the intent of Congress under the Clean Air Acts. Once again, it has caused an enormous waste of billions of taxpayer dollars on government itself—and costs approaching a trillion dollars for compliance in the private sector. All this with measures that have little benefit—and often negative consequences—to the environment or human health. Take carbon dioxide for example.

Since carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels cannot harm human health directly, the EPA alleges the health hazard is indirect, from global warming. This is why EPA has declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant; otherwise it would have no legitimate authority for regulating it. But an array of studies over more than twenty years demonstrates that warm climate is beneficial while cold climate is detrimental to human health. For example, in 1998, Thomas Gale Moore's “Health and Amenity Effects of Global Warming” estimated a temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius would cause a decrease of 40,000 deaths per year from respiratory and circulatory disease, based on U.S. Mortality Statistics.

In 1997, “Cold Exposure and Winter Mortality...” by Keatinge, Donaldson, et al explained the mechanisms of serious illness from cold: hemoconcentration increases blood viscosity and accounts for half of all excess cold-related mortality. In 2000, “Heart Related Mortality in Warm and Cold Regions of Europe...” examined mortality as a function of mean daily temperature in Athens, Greece; London, England; and Helsinki, Finland. These two studies provide the most comprehensive evidence that mortality decreases as temperature increases, over most of the current climate range of Europe.

The data show U.S. mortality from cardiac, vascular, and respiratory disease in winter is seven times greater than in summer; in Europe, nine to ten times greater. Data from the 1997 study indicate an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. per year from a 1 degree C temperature rise.

In 2007 Deschenes and Moretti presented a comprehensive study of all-cause mortality as a function of the day of the year. Maximum mortality occurs in January, and the minimum is in the warmest months of July and August.

In 2008 the U.K. Department of Health released “Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008”, an update of reports from 2001/2002. It showed that there was no increase in heat-related deaths 1971-2002 despite warmer summers. And cold-related mortality fell by more than a third in all regions.

The foregoing studies show EPA's claim it regulates carbon dioxide because global warming is a health hazard is bogus and unscientific. The agency has abandoned not only science but basic honesty in service to an ideology that demands that the bogus is real, that humans are causing global warming and, hence, must be regulated.

The EPA, politicians, news media and other opinion makers rely heavily on the assertions by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that increased CO2 emissions cause global warming. The United Nations established the IPCC not to investigate global warming but to find a human cause for global warming. IPCC rules require all assertions in its assessment reports to be based on published papers in refereed scientific journals. That procedure was flagrantly violated in its Fourth Assessment Report. That report listed the World Wildlife Fund as the source for sixteen of its assertions, including that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. The WWF is an environmental advocacy group with no refereed journal but a well-deserved reputation for exaggerated, unsupported claims. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report also cited a Greenpeace report, a mountaineering magazine and a student paper as sources. Obviously, the IPCC would not be using these unscientific sources if it could find scientific ones. The inescapable conclusion is that the IPCC could not make a valid case for human-caused global warming with scientific evidence. On June 24, 2012 it said whatever it chooses to post will be considered as peer reviewed. In other words, the IPCC's position of “authority” is now to be considered as equal to, and a substitute for, the scientific rigor of peer review in a scientific journal. Whatever it says, counts—simply because it says so.

Because the IPCC is so flagrantly political and unscientific, a Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, composed of independent highly qualified climate experts, has challenged its assertions. In 2009 this NIPCC published a monumental 880-page report, Climate Change Reconsidered (and later CCR II, over 1,000 pages), supported by thousands of references in peer-reviewed scientific journals, most of which were not utilized by the IPCC. It has since published several other reports. All were published without government or corporate funds being solicited or accepted, and authors were not paid for their articles.

As documented by the NIPCC, the widely publicized “greenhouse” theory that carbon dioxide causes global warming does not withstand scientific scrutiny. The sun—not CO2—determines climate change; and the sun—not factories and automobiles—determines the level of CO2 in our atmosphere. I have written more than 20 blog postings and articles on the subject of global warming, and I do not intend to repeat that information here. That is not the purpose of this posting; its purpose is to show that the federal government has not provided a valuable environmental service but instead has misled the public in colossal fashion that has wasted billions of dollars. Eliminating the EPA because it has no authority under the Constitution's enumerated powers would eliminate this gigantic economic waste without endangerment from the global warming hyped by alarmists as “the greatest threat of our time.”

From 1993 to 2013, the federal government spent $165 billion on global warming and continues to spend about $22 billion annually on it. Billions of additional dollars are wasted in the private sector by engendering expensive “green” solutions rather than economic ones for construction, transportation and electricity.

The greenhouse theory, which is based on computer models—not actual physical evidence—was sold to the public on the grounds those models accurately represented the real world. Actual physical evidence has now shown they do not. There has been no global warming for 18 years and 6 months despite enormous increases in CO2 emissions. In the fifteen years 1972 through 19887, humans produced 302 billions tonne of CO2. In the next 15 years they produced 461 billion tonnes of CO2, yet there was no global warming. The global-warming models have been an utter failure, projecting a scenario exactly opposite to what occurred in the real world. Nor have they been able to demonstrate any validity in backtesting over much longer time periods. When a theory contradicts reality, it is the theory that is wrong. That is really all you need to know about the global warming scare. But for those who would like more information on this but do not care to tackle the voluminous NIPCC reports, see my postings here: “Sun—not CO2—Drives Earth's Climate” and “Its the Sun, Stupid. For more, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

The proposed Constitutional amendments described in Parts 1 and 2 of "We Need a Constitutional Convention" are taken from my latest book The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, Second Edition. That book contains several additional ones that are needed to reform America and regain our liberty through sound money and restoring the meaning of the Constitution. Please see the book for these and support a new constitutional convention to be called by the states under Article V of the Constitution.