Monday, December 03, 2007

Evidence Piles up Against Ethanol

Ever since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, ethanol has been touted as a substitute for gasoline that would reduce our dependence on imports of foreign oil. But ethanol was found to be a net energy loser. It requires more energy to produce than you can get from burning the ethanol. Two studies by panels of the U.S. Dept. of Energy in 1980 and 1981 came to this conclusion. Those studies were reviewed by 26 independent scientific experts, who unanimously agreed with their findings. Many other studies since produced the same result.

In recent years, however, it has become politically popular to claim the old studies are obsolete and that better technology now makes it possible to produce a significant energy gain from ethanol. But such assertions are really based not on technology but on patently fraudulent manipulation of numbers! The truth about ethanol has been brushed aside by the promoters of ethanol and by politicians anxious to champion a program for reducing dependence on foreign oil and shovel money to corn farmers and the ethanol industry in return for votes and campaign contributions. Studies—some very recent—reaffirm that ethanol not only has no net energy benefit but that it also has no economic or environmental benefit. It is a loser all the way around—except for those who receive the government subsidies. The January 2007 edition of Scientific American quoted a federal official experienced in both energy and pollution as saying: “Congress didn't do a life-cycle analysis [of ethanol]; it did an ADM analysis”—ADM being Archers Daniels Midlands, the agricultural industry giant, for years the largest producer of ethanol. ADM has been contributing millions of dollars since at least the 1970s to both Republicans and Democrats, often contributing to opposing candidates in the same race.

The most extensive study ever done on ethanol is by Prof. David Pimentel of Cornell University, which is featured in the current Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences and Technology. The leading advocate of claims that ethanol produces a net energy benefit is an economist for the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Hosein Shapouri, principal author of a 2004 study. Pimentel has updated his original study, and with his colleague Tad Patzek, wrote in Bioscience, November 2006: “Our up-to-date analysis of the 14 energy inputs that typically go into corn production and the 9 invested in fermentation and distillation operations confirms that 29 percent more energy (derived from fossil fuels) is required to produce a gallon of corn ethanol than is contained in the ethanol.” So much for conservation and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Further, Pimentel said, “The reason [the ethanol advocates] come up with positive returns and we do not is that they omit about half of the inputs.” One he has cited is the energy needed to make and maintain farm equipment. Are there many American farmers who plant and harvest corn by hand?

Also, the production of hybrid seeds is very energy intensive, requiring seven times more energy than the production of corn for grain. Shapouri did not include this energy requirement.

Even more egregious manipulations have been employed to make ethanol look good. The most important is the allocation of energy costs. The residues from the production of ethanol can be used for animal feed, just like soybean meal, although the latter is much more effective. Shapouri assigns 26.6 percent (19,167 Btu per gallon) of the energy cost of the entire ethanol production cycle to this byproduct, more than two-and-one-half times Pimentel's figure of 6,684 Btu. Pimentel says the energy allocated for this should not be larger than the energy cost of the market alternative, which is soybean meal.

Furthermore, Shapouri assigns an additional energy credit of 34 percent (7,084 Btu per gallon) to ethanol from producing the corn and transporting it, because of the alleged value of the residues. Ethanol is made from the starch in corn, which is 66 percent of its weight. So Shapouri assigns to ethanol only 66 percent of the energy to produce the corn and transport it. This would be like saying that a mining company with ore that has a 5 percent metal content would charge only 5 percent of the cost of mining and transporting the ore to the cost of producing the metal. Once again, a fraudulent accounting gimmick has been employed to simply write off a substantial part of the energy cost of producing ethanol by making the leftovers even more uneconomic. Ethanol is then touted as producing an energy gain, but the combined operation nevertheless produces a large net loss.

Tad W. Patzek is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to participating in the Pimentel study, he has produced his own study titled Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, (2006). We believe this to be a unique study; we know of no other study that examines this issue from the perspective of thermodynamics. This 105-page study contains very technical material that will not be understandable to nonscientists or those without a substantial background in physics and chemistry. But Patzek makes some important points in clear, simple language that almost anyone can understand. Even a politician. Here are some excerpts:

"The purpose of this paper was to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the industrial corn-ethanol cycle accelerates the irrevocable depletion of natural resources: fossil fuels, minerals, top soil, surface and subsurface water and air, while creating wide-spread environmental damage throughout continental United States. My arguments relied entirely on the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Law of Mass Conservation.

"The industrial corn-ethanol cycle brings no net energy savings and no lessening of the U.S. energy dependency on foreign [sources]...The opposite happens....(Italics are Patzek's).

"[We] increase the extent of environmental damage beyond that caused by burning the same fossil fuels directly in the cars.

"The recently-advertised ethanol production from 'agricultural waste,' i.e., plant leaves, stems and roots is even more unsustainable....[Whole plant harvesting] removes 1.5 times as much nitrogen, 1.6 times as much phosphorus, 4 times as much potassium, 13 times as much calcium and 6 times as much magnesium as when this crop is harvested for grain.

"Analysis of the carbon cycle shows that all leftovers from the ethanol production must be returned back to the fields to limit the irreversible mining of soil humus. Thus, production of ethanol from whole plants is unsustainable.

"The minimum cumulative exergy consumption in restoring the environment polluted and depleted by the industrial corn-ethanol cycle is over 7 times higher than the maximum shaft work of a car engine burning the cycle's ethanol. (Italics, Patzek)

"The industrial corn cycle is not renewable, and it is unsustainable by a wide margin (as least 2.3 - 7 times)....No process changes can make this cycle more viable. (Italics, Patzek)

"The recent growth of ethanol production could occur only because of the massive transfer of money from the collective pocket of the U.S. taxpayers to the transnational agricultural cartel represented most notably by Archer Daniels Midlands Co., Cargill Inc., Monsanto Co., and A.E. Stanley Manufacturing Co. This flow of billions of dollars from the pockets of the many to the pockets of the few was accomplished by federal subsidies of corn producers, and federal and state tax subsidies of the ethanol producers."

There are many other problems with producing ethanol. Each gallon requires 1,700 gallons of water and creates 6 to 12 gallons of noxious organic effluent. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that ethanol could strain water supplies. The huge Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies parts of eight Great Plains states, has dropped 100 feet in some areas in scarcely a half century, due in no small part to irrigation and overproduction stimulated by decades of government crop subsidies. Promotion and subsidies of additional ethanol production can only accelerate depletion of groundwater.

The rising production of ethanol has increased the price of corn, resulting in higher costs for American consumers. In addition to such products as corn flakes, canned and frozen corn, and tortillas, there are many products in which food processors and beverage manufactures utilize high fructose corn syrup (e.g., soft drinks, candy, ice cream) and their prices, too, must reflect rising corn prices. The largest user of corn in the U.S. is the livestock industry, and higher corn prices are hurting exports of beef and pork and worsening America's trade deficit, as well as raising meat and poultry prices for American consumers.

Due to higher corn prices, the profits from ethanol have been dropping. A year ago ethanol returned $2.30 per gallon in profit, but now only 25 cents. In 1973 Chevron, Texaco, and Ashland Inc. began producing corn-based ethanol to add to gasoline. But when the Arab oil embargo ended and oil prices dropped, ethanol was overpriced, and all the plants eventually ceased operations. (Is there a lesson here?)

Ethanol is not only an inefficient and expensive fuel; corn is an inefficient and expensive way to produce it. According to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, it is almost twice as expensive to produce ethanol from corn than from sugar cane. Ethanol from corn costs $83 per barrel, compared to $45 per barrel from sugar cane. The difference is illustrated by the fact we claim ethanol cannot be produced in the U.S. without the federal subsidy of 51 cents per gal—while Brazil can export it profitably to us despite having to pay a 54-cent per gallon penalty in the form of a tariff! The purpose of the tariff is to discourage imports and keep the price artificially high for U.S. corn farmers. Still, Brazil exported over 420 million gallons of ethanol to the U.S. in 2006 compared to only 31 million gallons in 2005. We even import ethanol from such countries as Pakistan, China, Jamaica and the Netherlands, most of which have to pay significant shipping costs as well as the 54-cent tariff. According to the International Trade Commission, our imports of ethanol from all countries quadrupled in 2006, compared to 2005. What is the sense in policies that artificially raise the price of fuel for everyone in America in order to benefit a select few and encourage them to produce a product that can be produced more cheaply in other countries?

The government talks of producing ethanol from cellulose by a process that hasn't even been invented yet, and which may not even be possible. The Goldman Sachs report puts the cost of ethanol from cellulose with current technology at $305 per barrel. Meanwhile, technology that already exists is expanding petroleum reserves and increasing production. Drilling rigs are now extracting oil from 10,000 feet deep in the sea bed at a cost approaching that of drilling 100 feet down in the richest fields of Texas or Saudi Arabia 40 years ago. Just a little over a year ago it was reported that a major new oil source was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, 270 miles from New Orleans in ultra-deep water. This new finding could boost the nation's reserves by 50 percent. Moreover, the report of this new discovery notes that it paves the way for ultimately dozens of similar discoveries in the Gulf's lower tertiary rock formation.

Carbon sequestration technologies could soon add 89 billion barrels of oil (BBO) to our existing total and eventually add 430 BBO. Saudi Arabia's reserves, the largest in the world and currently about 261 BBO, could go to 461 BBO.

Oil can also be made from coal. South Africa has been doing this since 1955, and several other countries now do so economically as well. The high price of oil has also made it profitable to refine oil from Canada's Athabascan Tar Sands and heavy crudes around the world that were infeasible to develop when the world oil price was much lower. The Canadian deposits—which contain 1 to 4 trillion barrels of oil—have been known for decades, but now technology and the high price of oil have come together to make this the hottest, fastest growing oil-producing region on the planet. Then there is shale oil, abundant all over the world but previously too costly to exploit. At the current rate of petroleum consumption, there is enough shale oil in the world to supply human needs for 40,000 years! There are 800 billion barrels of it just in deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. A report in the Wall Street Journal in October 2005 states that analysts believe an oil price consistently around $70 per barrel would make this financially feasible to extract. Has our government considered all these factors before deciding to subsidize an inferior substitute for gasoline at an artificially high price for the American public? Of course not. Even if it wanted to, there is no way it could evaluate and integrate these complex, diverse factors into a successful national policy.

What, then, should our government's energy policy be? It shouldn't have an energy policy. It should leave the problem to the marketplace. There is nothing the government could do that would handle this complex situation as efficiently and rationally as the free market. Whatever the government would do would be less effective because it would distort the market, just as its current policies do. Substituting new distortions for old ones is no solution.

As to the supposed air quality benefits from ethanol, they don't exist. As far back as 1991 a report by the National Academy of Sciences stated “using ethanol as a blending agent in gasoline would not achieve significant air quality benefits, and, in fact, would likely be detrimental.” Even EPA admits ethanol produces more hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, and ozone, which are components of smog, than plain gasoline. Ethanol proponents claim it reduces carbon monoxide emissions from automobiles, but a study by the National Research Council in 1996 found this was not true. This conclusion was especially significant because the study was done in Colorado, where ethanol would be most likely to be effective because of Colorado's high altitude. Colorado was selected for the study because it was the first state to require oxygenated fuels and thus had the longest data record. An article in the journal Science by J.G. Calvert of the National Center for Atmospheric Research states: “No convincing argument based on combustion or atmospheric chemistry can be made for the addition of ethanol to gasoline.” And an Arizona Department of Transportation test covering 1 million miles by state vehicles found oxygenates—including ethanol—produced no reduction of carbon monoxide, and in some cases carbon monoxide levels actually increased.

For more on ethanol, link to American Liberty Publishers and then click on FREE ESSAYS at the top of the page. More information is also available in my book Makers and Takers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Studies Show Global Warming Not due to Man

Siberia's Lake Baikal is the world's deepest lake. It contains more water than all five of North America's Great Lakes combined. Fed by over 300 rivers and far from the moderating effects of any ocean, it offers a pristine, uninterrupted sedimentary record that permits a highly accurate reconstruction of temperatures over a broad area. Based on this sedimentary record for the last 800,000 years, Anson Mackay of the Environmental Change Research Centre, University College, London, has found that this region was often warmer than at present. Moreover, the recent warming trend began about 250 years ago—long before the Industrial Revolution and the resulting increase in greenhouse gases. In his words: “Warming in the Lake Bailkal region commenced before rapid increases in greenhouse gases.”

According to Mackay's work, increased biogenic silica in sediments correlates with warmer temperatures. Here is a graph showing temperature changes from the Baikal sedimentary record:

The recent warming trend—which the scaremongers would have us believe portends global “catastrophe”—is the puny upturn at the far right of the graph. Note that previous upward spikes are numerous and indicate much warmer temperatures in the past.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, water power was the primary source of industrial power. Around 1775, all the coal-burning steam engines combined burned only about 3 percent of what a single average coal plant now burns. The electric light bulb had not even been invented (Thomas Edison was not even born yet), and the world's first commercial electric power plant would not be built for more than 100 years.

Most coal plants today are in the 1000-4000 MW range. The largest of these burn more than 40,000 tons of coal per day. A significant increase in man-made carbon dioxide emissions did not occur until the worldwide expansion of industrial development after World War II. It didn't really take off until after 1950. The increase in atmospheric CO2 in the last fifty years is 650% greater than the amount added in the previous 150 years. But according to Professor L.L. Van Zandt of the physics department at Purdue University, if every molecule of human-released CO2 stayed in the atmosphere, it would take another 200 years at the current rate of emissions just to equal the increase since 1950. Obviously, therefore, the big increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1950 cannot be blamed on human activity. Natural, nonhuman sources are far more significant. Besides, CO2 does not remain in the atmosphere for long; it is constantly being recycled out, with most studies indicating a half-life in the atmosphere of about ten years. That is, half of new emissions will be recycled out in ten years, with half of the remainder disappearing in each subsequent ten year period. So even if the current rate of human CO2 emissions were continued for 200 years, the result would fall far, far short of equaling the increase in atmospheric CO2 that has taken place since 1950.

Mackay's work is not the only one that places the beginning of the current warming trend before the Industrial Revolution and the increase in carbon dioxide emissions. His findings are mirrored in research studies in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and northwest Russia, which show positive temperature trends from 250 years ago (Jones, 2001), (Naurzbaev and Vaganov, 2000). A study of sediments from the Sargasso Sea (Keigwin,1996) also identifies the warming as beginning around 1750. All of these correlate with the ending of the Little Ice Age about 250 years ago. Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute has counted over 500 research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals which refute the current global warming scare and claims about carbon dioxide's effect on the earth's temperature changes.

Joseph D'aleo, first director of meteorology, the Weather Channel, has stated, “If the atmosphere was a 100-story building, our annual anthropogenic (man-made) contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor.” After reviewing a recent study from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, astronomer Dr. Ian Wilson declared, “Anthropogenic global warming bites the dust.” Changes is carbon dioxide levels are largely irrelevant to global temperature changes, which are due to solar and cosmic ray variations.

In the past century, the earth's climate has warmed about 1 degree F., but 70 percent of this increase occurred before 1940, that is, before the worldwide industrialization blamed for increasing carbon dioxide. Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, recently quipped, "You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The U.N.'s First Climate Summit

You would think, with all the media hype about global warming, that the U.N.'s first climate summit of world leaders would have been of great importance to the public and to the news media. To my knowledge, none of the TV news networks even mentioned the two-day summit last week or an important speech there. The speaker was not only a president of a nation but the recipient of nearly 50 honorary doctorates and the author of 20 books on political, social and economic subjects—including a book on the economic effects of global warming. Why the media silence? The answer is simple: the message of his speech did not fit the hype of the networks' position on global warming.

Vaclav Klaus is president of the Czech Republic, a post he has held since 2003. As late as fall 2005, he was still a university professor teaching a full course in economics in addition to being president. In an article entitled “Freedom, not climate, is at risk” in the Financial Times June 13, 2007, he wrote: “As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.” The last line of this article is: “Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives.”

In an earlier speech at the Cato Institute March 9, 2007 Klaus said, “We succeeded in getting rid of communism, but...we erroneously assumed that attempts to suppress freedom, and to centrally organize, mastermind, regulate, and control society and the economy, were matters of the past....Unfortunately, those centralizing urges are still with us....

“The reason for my concern is the emergence of new, very popular and fashionable “isms” that again put various issues, visions, plans, and projects ahead of individual freedom and liberty. There is social democratism, which is nothing more than a milder and softer form of communism...Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people and nature friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize the world, human society, our behavior, and our values.”

In his speech at the U.N. climate summit, Klaus stated: “Contrary to artificially-created worldwide perception, the increase in global temperatures has been – in the last years, decades and centuries – very small by historical comparison, and practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings and their activities.

“The hypothetical threat connected with future global warming depends exclusively upon forecasts, not upon past experience. These speculative forecasts are, however, based on relatively short time series of relevant variables and on forecasting models that have not been found reliable when attempting to explain past developments.”

With such views, it is no wonder the media chose not to report on his speech at the climate summit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Global Warming Hype: CBS

CBS featured an alarmist message about global warming on its popular “60 Minutes” television program. Reporter Scott Pelley claimed Antarctica shows large climate change, that it's caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and is a portent of worldwide environmental and human disasters. He said “glaciers are setting speed records for melting” in Antarctica. Incidentally, all of the computer models predict future warming from greenhouse gases will be greatest at the poles.

To make his point, Pelley showed what is happening on King George Island off the Antarctic peninsula. That long peninsula is the part of the continent closest to South America and furthest from the South Pole. Actually, King George Island is north of the peninsula, making it even further from the South Pole. The program implies that what is happening there is representative of the rest of Antarctica. The viewers are never told the peninsula comprises only 2 percent of Antarctica and that the other 98 percent is cooling, not warming. It has been cooling steadily since at least 1957, and the Antarctic ice cap is growing overall at the rate of 26 billion tons annually. There is no evidence that climate on the peninsula, which has been warming for decades, will determine what happens on the rest of the continent. That would be like the tail wagging the dog. Incidentally, it would take a temperature rise of 55 degrees for a thousand years to melt the Antarctic ice sheet.

The top of the globe is cooling, too. The Arctic in the 1930s was as warm or warmer than in the late 20th Century. Data from weather stations on the southern coast of Greenland show almost all decades between 1915 and 1965 were as warm or warmer than the 1995 to 2005 decade. In the 1920s, when mankind's emissions of carbon dioxide were nine times lower than now, Greenland's temperature increased 2 to 4 degrees Celsius in less than ten years, which is against all the predictions of the climate models. Greenland's ice sheet has thickened by 7 feet since it was first measured by laser altimetry in 1980. While ice has been breaking off at the edges, it has been building up even faster inland. Summer temperatures are the most relevant to Greenland's ice sheet melting rates, and summer temperatures at the summit of the ice sheet have declined 2.2 degrees C per decade since 1987.

The chart below shows 4,000 years of temperatures from ice cores drilled into the Greenland ice sheet. Note that for most of this time temperatures were well above more recent times, and some periods were markedly warmer and show far larger swings than the latest uptrend. Instead of “60 Minutes” claiming that predictions about global warming are coming true, it should have said the lack of warming at the poles shows the computer models are not valid. The computer models have been proven wrong in several other important respects, too.

The August 19th CBS program claimed more than 90 % of the world's glaciers are retreating. But a recent issue of 21st Century Science and Technology states: “Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)”

The CBS program also focused on the extensive retreat of the O'Higgins glacier in Patagonia, the fastest-melting glacier in South America. The program did not tell you that the Perito Moreno Glacier—the largest glacier in Patagonia—is advancing at the rate of 7 feet per day. Nor did it mention that Chile's Pio XI Glacier, the largest glacier in the southern hemisphere, is also growing.

In Europe many glaciers have not retreated back to their positions in the Medieval Warm Period, when there was no industrial civilization producing greenhouse gases. The Aletsch and Grindelwald glaciers (Switzerland) were much smaller between 800 and 1000 AD than now. The latter glacier is still larger than it was in 1588. In Iceland today, the Vatnajokull glacier—the largest in Europe—and also the Drangajokull glacier are far more extensive than in the Middle Ages, and farms remain buried beneath their ice.

Professor Paul Mayewski of the University of Maine is interviewed extensively on the CBS program. Pelley said, “Mayewski and his colleagues have timed the sudden rise in greenhouse gases to the start of the Industrial Revolution about 150 years ago.” This is absolutely absurd. 150 years ago the world's first commercial electric power plant had not yet been built, and the electric light bulb and the telephone hadn't even been invented. Carbon dioxide or other emissions from the puny “industrialization” that existed at that time were insignificant, and the world's glaciers had already been retreating for many decades. You can't have a cause-and-effect relationship when the effect precedes the cause. As you can see in the chart below, which is based on 169 glaciers that have been measured for centuries, glaciers have been receding since 1750, with the trend accelerating after about 1820. Henry Ford's factory produced its first automobiles in 1913, but by then half of the glacier loss from 1800 to 2000 had already occurred. And 70 percent of the glacier shortening occurred before 1940, that is, before worldwide industrialization began in the late 1940s. Significantly, the chart shows no increased rate of glacier shortening over the last half century, when the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere was steadily rising. In fact, the rate lessened.

Furthermore, evidence detailed in the professional literature clearly shows that increases in global temperature precede increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide—not the other way around, as the greenhouse hypothesis and its proponents require. Carbon dioxide is more soluble in cold water than warm water. As the oceans warm, they retain less CO2 in their upper 3,000-meter layer and exhale it into the atmosphere, whose CO2 content is 50 times lower than that of the oceans.

Speaking of greenhouse gases, Professor Mayewski stated: “The level and speed of rise is significantly [he repeated 'SIGNIFICANTLY' with great emphasis] greater than anything in the last 850,000 years.” But Professor Tim Patterson, a paleoclimatologist who is director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre of Canada's Carleton University, says that 10,000 years ago the CO2 level was about the same as now and temps rose as much as 6 degrees Celsius in a decade—100 times faster than the past century! And he says that 6,000 years ago the earth was 6 degrees C (10 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today. Today the CO2 content of the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million (ppm). But the monumental study by Beck of 93,000 DIRECT chemical measurements of the atmosphere (NOT from ice cores), shows a five-year average of 440 ppm CO2 for the years 1820 and 1940, and 390 ppm for 1855. From CO2 in ice cores, readings over 400 ppm were reported for 10,000 years ago, and samples ranged from 250 to nearly 500 ppm over the next 9,000 years. Ice cores show 420 ppm CO2 in 200 A.D. and over 400 ppm as recently as 1720. These facts invalidate everything the CBS program said about global warming occurring and the greenhouse hypothesis itself.

Temperature measurements of the earth's surface are warmer than those of the lower atmosphere, which is contrary to the greenhouse hypothesis and all the computer models. Dr. Chris de Frietas writes, “Greenhouse gases cannot warm the surface directly; they warm the atmosphere first. If there is no prior warming of the lower atmosphere, there can be no consequent enhanced greenhouse effect attributable to greenhouse gas emissions....Thus the satellite data is direct evidence against the IPCC global warming hypothesis.” [emphasis added]. The satellite data is confirmed by weather balloons, which measure temps with an entirely different technology. The modest warming of the earth of one degree F over the past century must be due to something other than the greenhouse effect.

The computer models predict that greenhouse warming should occur equally during the day and night. Observations show most of the warming is at night, thus falsifying the models.

The models predict that warming of 1.0 to 3.0 C. should already have occurred in the polar regions since 1940. It hasn't, thus falsifying the models. In fact, temperature measurements show substantial cooling there from 1940 to the 1970s, again contrary to the models.

It's true that CO2 is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas, but water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas. It accounts for 98 percent of any greenhouse effect; CO2 accounts for about one percent, and other gases the remainder. Furthermore, of that one percent due to CO2, 97 percent of that is due to nature, with mankind producing only 3 percent. Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies and even insects produce CO2, as well as methane, which is another greenhouse gas. Termites alone produce far more CO2 than all the worlds factories and automobiles combined. But by far the largest source of CO2 emissions is the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It produces 72 percent of the earth's emissions of carbon dioxide, and the rest of the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans also contribute. Combining the factors of water vapor and nature's production of CO2, we see that nature is responsible for 99.96 percent of any greenhouse effect, while mankind contributes only 0.04 percent. How much effect could regulating that tiny amount possibly have on world climate?

Since the greenhouse theory cannot explain global temperature changes, what does? The sun and cosmic rays. Everyone knows the sun heats the earth, but that heat is not uniform. “Sunspot” cycles vary solar intensity, and the solar wind varies the amount of cosmic rays that reach the earth. (see and Solar cycles and variations in the earth's orbit around the sun correlate far better with global temperature changes than variations in atmospheric CO2 levels.

Why is there such reluctance to admit that the sun, not the greenhouse effect, drives the changes in the earth's climate, or that water vapor is a far more important greenhouse gas than CO2? Governments can only control people, not nature. If the sun is responsible for climate change, then there is nothing governments can do about it. If water vapor is the key to the greenhouse effect, then there is nothing governments can do about it. For government to be relevant on this issue, it must have a cause that can be blamed on people, because people are the only thing government can control. And if government is not relevant on this issue, then there is no need for those political appointees from 150 nations to the United Nation's IPCC. Nor is there a need for billions of dollars in government grants to scientists and institutions for studies that keep trying to prove CO2 is causing global warming, in order to validate government intervention. Nor is there a justification for spending other people's money (taxpayer funds) for such purposes. Nor is there a need for the bureaucrats and governmental framework to formulate and implement regulations for controlling CO2 emissions, for extending the role of government over every aspect of people's lives.

Basically, the politics of global warming is determined by ideology, not science. Tim Wirth, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Issues and the man most responsible for setting up the Kyoto Treaty, said, “We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” Richard Benedick, a deputy assistant secretary of state, said, “A global warming treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the [enhanced] greenhouse effect.” Christine Stewart, Canada's Minister of the Environment, in 1998 stated: “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits...Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

The issue of global warming was simply a tool for garnering support for economic and environmental policies that otherwise would be unacceptable. It was embraced not because the science was correct but because it offered a rationale for government control of people's lives. That was the way to “bring about justice and equality in the world.” It didn't matter if the earth was warming or cooling. Indeed, many of the same people now calling for government action against global warming were the same people calling for government action in the 1970s because of fears another ice age was beginning. It didn't matter that the greenhouse hypothesis couldn't explain the earth's cooling from 1940 to 1975, which solar cycles can (as well as periods of warming.) What mattered was that government policies would replace free-market economics. That's what was meant by “doing the right thing in terms of economic policy.” The issue was collectivism. Individual rights and honesty in science would have to be sacrificed to “save the planet,” which only collectivism could do.

Socialism has been a failure all over the world. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, former communist and other socialist countries have been deserting collectivism. They have embraced free markets and been reducing taxes and economic controls. And prospering. Almost nobody likes to use the word “socialism” any more. Or “fascism” either, which is another form of government control of the economic system. Socialism is government ownership of the means of production. A characteristic of fascism, according to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, is “the retention of private ownership of the means of production under centralized government control.” [emphasis added.] “Environmentalism” is the last refuge of the collectivists, and the word avoids the negative connotations of socialism and fascism while pursuing the common policy of centralized political control—which is accomplished through regulation.

Environmentalism has become a religion, whose god is Nature, and against whom man has been sinning by tampering with the earth in creating industrial civilization. The religion exhorts men to cleanse the world of the evil of technology and return to a more primitive state. As Maurice Strong, perhaps the single most important individual in the development of the Green movement, has stated, “Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrial civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring about?” In the 1970s Strong was appointed by U.N. Secretary General U Thant to organize and direct the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which came to be known as the first Earth Summit. After the Earth Summit, he led the Earth Council and drafted the Earth Charter. Later, Strong chaired the gigantic (40,000 participants) U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992. He became a senior advisor to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Through his involvement in UNESCO (U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), he promotes Gaia, the Earth God, among the world's youth. He also is director of the Temple of Understanding in New York, which he uses to encourage Americans concerned about the environment to replace Christianity with worship of “Mother Earth.” Strong, a wealthy businessman who made a fortune in oil and utilities, defines himself as “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology.” He has been using the money he made to bankroll the downfall of the political system in which he made it.

The greenhouse hypothesis is a matter of ideology, a political ideology with characteristics of a religious one even for those who do not subscribe to religion. Religion does not depend on science; it cannot be proved and is accepted instead on faith. Collectivism cannot be proved either, at least not in the sense of being a successful, workable political system. But still it is promoted by some who selectively ignore the evidence against it (the consistent failures of socialist and fascist governments), and who attempt to “adjust” the facts of history to present their ideology in a favorable light and preferable to capitalism and freedom. When the facts conflict with their ideology, it is the facts which must be adjusted. That is what has happened with the greenhouse hypothesis: cause-and-effect relationships are claimed to be the opposite of what they really are; data have been selectively ignored, misrepresented and fraudulently manipulated; the history of Industrial Revolution has been “adjusted” to fit the ideology of greenhouse warming. Perhaps on another occasion I shall give further examples of such scientific corruption, but for now readers may find some information on it regarding the United Nation's IPCC reports on global warming at

By 2020 the earth will be starting into its weakest sunspot cycle in 200 years, leading to a cooler earth. Professor Abdussamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, believes a slow decline in temperatures will begin as early as 2012-2015 and will lead to a deep freeze in 2050-2060 that will last about fifty years. The late Prof. Theodore Landscheit predicted two Little Ice Ages around 2100 and 2200. But Singer and Avery, in their book Unstoppable Global Warming, believe that the longer trend, over at least the next several hundred years, will be a warming one. In any case, what happens to the earth's climate will be determined by forces beyond the control of man. The Kyoto Treaty and all other government measures to stop global warming (or cooling) will be as futile as the decree of the ancient king who ordered the tides of the ocean to stop. Their only effects will be the gigantic waste of financial resources and depriving the world's people of freedom and a better standard of living.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Politicians Seize Chance to Repeat Mistakes!

You might think politicians would have learned something from the catastrophic collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis. You'd be wrong. The bridge disaster focused a lot of public attention on how government transportation funds have been earmarked for pet projects of the politicians, such as nature trails, museums, lighthouses, and flowers for California freeways instead of bridges in need of repair.

Those earmarks were in the 2005 Transportation Bill, which covered a five-year appropriation. But there are various other transportation funding bills, including one that was passed only days before the bridge collapsed, which also had earmarks. In 1981 there were only 10 earmarks. In 2005 there were 6,371. A new government study now shows the number is 8,056. And the trend continues.

To demonstrate its concern over the state of the nation's bridges after the recent collapse, the U.S. Senate voted last week to set aside $1 billion for bridge repairs. But wait! Don't applaud just yet. The same bill approved 843 new earmarks totaling $1.5 billion. North Dakota will get $450,000 of the transportation funds for its Peace Garden on the Canadian border. Montana will get funds for a minor league baseball stadium in Billings.

In the House version of the bill there are 1,400 earmarks worth $2.2 billion. These include a Mule and Packers Museum in a California town of 3,575 people. Minnesota will get $100 million for two mass transit projects.

Rep. Tom Coburn, (R-Okla) stated: “The bridge in Minnesota didn't fail as much as Congress failed. We failed to direct dollars where they were most needed because this body is obsessed with parochial pork barrel politics.” His assessment is supported by a recent report by the U.S. Transportation Department inspector general, which states: “Many earmarked projects considered by [transportation] agencies as low priority are being funded over higher priority non-earmarked projects.” Anyone could tell that just from the type of projects that got the money, but Congress pays no attention. It seizes the opportunity to continue doing more of the same.

A bill last week to pass a moratorium on earmarks until all the nation's defective bridges are repaired failed miserably in the Senate, by a vote of 82 to 14. A Gallup poll in July found that Congress has the lowest rating of any institution in our society. The military had the highest rating, 69 percent, while Congress had only a 14 percent approval rating even before the bridge collapse. The vote on the earmark moratorium is an example of why that low number is well deserved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Surprising Global Warming News!

NASA has just admitted a whopping mistake in its temperature data! 1998 is no longer the warmest year of the past century in the U.S. It falls to #2 with 1934 now being the warmest year. And #3 is now 1921, not 2006. It had been claimed that six of the ten hottest years in U.S. history had occurred since 1995, but now only three of the top ten are from the last ten years (1998, 2006, 1999). And 1998 was a peak year for El Nino, a phenomenon unrelated to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, that also affected 1999 temperature data. The formerly high-ranking years 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 fell well down the leader board—behind even 1900!

Four of the top ten are now from the 1930s : 1934, 1931, 1938, 1939. Since 82 percent of the century's increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide occurred after 1940, the warmer temperatures of earlier years can't be explained by higher carbon dioxide levels. So why should we believe all the hype about increased CO2 emissions causing catastrophic warming in the future? Remember, too, that while CO2 was increasing steadily since 1940, the earth's temperature was decreasing from 1940 until 1975—leading to widespread media reports about fears of a new ice age.

Newsbusters reported: “A change in climate history data at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently occurred which dramatically alters the debate over global warming. Yet, this transpired with no official announcement from GISS head James Hansen, and went unreported until Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit discovered it Wednesday [Aug. 9]....When this correction was made by Hansen's team at the GISS, shouldn't it have been reported? In fact, it is quite disgraceful that it wasn't, as it suggests that a government agency is actually participating in a fraud against the American people by withholding information crucial to a major policy issue now facing the nation.”

It is worth noting that James Hansen was the man who started the whole flap about global warming when he testified before a Senate committee in June 1988 that he was “99 percent sure” that global warming was already underway. He was not shy about spreading his views on global warming then, but he was now curiously silent when the agency he heads makes a change counter to his beliefs. When asked, Hansen in his defense tried to minimize the issue, saying critics were “making a mountain out of a molehill” and using it “to muddy the debate.” Had the change been in the other direction, indicating warmer temperatures, you can bet he would have trumpeted this to the world. And the media would have gobbled it up and puked it all over the newspapers and the nation's TV screens.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bridge Collapse, Political Failure

On Wednesday the Interstate Highway 35W bridge across the Mississippi River collapsed, dumping 88 cars and their occupants into the river. The accident, which occurred just 2 miles from my home in Minneapolis, was one of the greatest structural failures in U.S. history. Naturally, then, it has been the focus of national news media for several days now, and politicians have been rushing to the scene to exhibit their concern and promise to make more money available to rebuild the structure. Governor Pawlenty, who previously was against any increase in the gas tax, now said a tax hike may be needed. And the federal government has hurriedly promised to contribute $250 million.

The accident has spawned concern about the safety of other bridges throughout the U.S. The concern is well founded. Nearly 148,000 U.S. highway bridges—almost 1 in 4—were “structurally deficient” in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Minnesota was fifth best among the 50 states, with only 13 % deficient. Thirty-six states had a deficiency rate of 20 % or higher. Bridges have been systematically shortchanged nationwide for a long time. Inspectors had warned for nearly a decade that the I-35W bridge had “severe” and “extensive” corrosion of its beams and trusses, “widespread cracking” in spans, missing or broken bolts, and certain components of the superstructure were “beyond tolerable limits.”

The collapse Wednesday of a bridge deck nearly seven football fields long was not due to a shortage of funds; it was due to the mis-allocation of funds. The taxpayers have not been stingy. They accepted highway costs of $151 billion in 1991, $217 billion in 1997, and $286 billion in 2005. But those funds were increasingly allocated according to political advantage, not transportation needs. For example, the $286 billion appropriation included $233 million for an Alaskan bridge greater than San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. It will connect Ketchikan (population 8,000) with an island having a population of 50. Meanwhile, no funds were appropriated for the “structurally deficient” Interstate 35W bridge that carried 140,000 vehicles per day.

The Alaskan bridge was earmarked as a special project, which meant the money could not be spent for any other purpose. In 1981 there were only 10 of these earmarks. In 2005 there were 6,371. Thus over the last quarter century, politicians have increasingly channeled funds to political purposes—which means projects most likely to benefit their reelection. Could you expect politicians to make decisions on a basis other than politics? Is it any wonder that the money is not well spent? Incidentally, Congressman Don Young of Alaska was chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

While governments everywhere have done a poor job of managing transportation infrastructure, private investors have been doing a far better job where they are allowed. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation estimates there have been more than 1,100 public-private deals in transportation worldwide in the last 20 years, with a value of $360 billion. Since France began licensing private investors to construct and operate toll roads in 1955, more than 3,400 miles of them have been built there. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher aggressively sold public assets and spurred private investment in public construction projects. In 2006 Gov. Mitch Daniels auctioned off the rights to operate Indiana toll roads for a whopping $3.85 billion, more than double the value placed upon the system by traditional bond valuations. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley auctioned the City's Skyway and is now trying to sell Midway Airport. Texas has entered a build-and-operate agreement for a 320-mile toll road. California has a similar agreement for an $800 million extension of Route 125 south of San Diego, according to Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute. These deals will not allow the private owners to skimp on maintenance and repairs, because their contracts “allow governments to cancel deals, take back the roads and bridges and keep the cash if operators don't live up to the terms,” says Malanga. It is doubtful that the Interstate 35W bridge would have collapsed had it been privately owned and operated under such terms. And instead of the “need” for always upping the ante for the taxpayers, the government would make profits from the sales to private investors. Everyone would benefit.

In the same way that government has been squandering transportation funds on projects of lesser usefulness, it has done the same thing with funds for other purposes altogether. It has spent so much money for purposes that are not even Constitutional that, according to Congressman Ron Paul, federal obligations now total $50 trillion—about $175,000 for each American. Nowhere does the Constitution even mention such items as education, health care, agriculture, “diversity,” and insurance, much less grant the federal government the power to fund them. $50 trillion is roughly the worth of all the assets of the American people. So the net worth of the American people is now zero. Actually, it's even less than that, because Congressman Paul's numbers don't include state and local borrowing against our assets.

How is it that private corporations make record profits—and pay taxes—while government endeavors—which don't pay taxes—are constantly losing money and driving us deeper and deeper into debt? It's because in economic matters, government is always acting against the market. That is precisely why such actions are undertaken, to do things that the marketplace has already indicated are uneconomic; if they were economic, they would already have attracted private investors and the expertise of those who know most about the subjects (about which the politicians invariably know very little.) Acting against the market is like trying to act against the law of gravity or the laws of mathematics. The laws of Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. Increasing the number of laws, the level of taxation, or the types of things on which government spends money will not make anything economic. Such increases merely increase the size of the losses and reduce the freedom with which people can make profits and progress in the marketplace. Our Founding Fathers were most wise to have chosen not to use the Constitution to empower the federal government in so many areas where it has been steadily—and unconstitutionally—expanding ever since the days of Franklin Roosevelt. Unless the current trend is reversed, it will ultimately result in an economic collapse that will be a far greater tragedy for the entire country than the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ethanol: Poor Test Results, Other Negatives

Last month the automobile website ran a comparison of costs, performance, and efficiency of regular gasoline and E85, the fuel that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. (The common ethanol product is 10 % ethanol and 90 % gasoline.) The test drive consisted of a 667-mile roundtrip from San Diego to Las Vegas, which is a popular trip for residents of southern California. However, the two cities were chosen for the test because San Diego has California's only E85 source available to the public, and Las Vegas is the next closest source of E85. The vehicle for the test was a flexible-fuel 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe.

The San Diego-Las Vegas roundtrip used 36.5 gallons of regular gasoline but required 50 gallons of E85, for fuel economies of 18.3 mpg and 13.5 mpg respectively. Thus fuel economy was 26.5 percent worse for E85.

The gasoline cost $3.42 per gallon, compared to $3.09 for E85. But because of the poor fuel economy of E85, so much more fuel was required that 22.8 percent more was spent for E85 than for the gasoline for the same distance.

For acceleration performance, (such as passing, uphill), “the test times were generally slower for E85 [but] the difference was small enough to go unnoticed by most drivers.”

Relating fuel economy to emission figures, the test team determined that gasoline produced 706.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, compared to 703.1 for E85. The conclusion: “Call it a tie. This is certainly not the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions we had been led to expect.”

The test did not calculate other emissions, but EPA has previously admitted that ethanol produces more hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, and ozone—all components of smog—than regular gasoline. Ethanol also has higher evaporative emissions than gasoline.

A previous blog posting on ethanol points out that it is a net energy loser: it takes more energy to grow the corn and distill the alcohol than you can get from burning the product—despite assertions to the contrary from the ethanol advocates. (See There are also many other negatives about ethanol that don't seem to have been considered by the politicians who are so eager to buy votes for themselves by doling out taxpayer subsidies to the ethanol industry. Promoting ethanol has boosted the price of corn, which benefits the corn farmers but has pushed up the costs for consumers—not only in the U.S. but for the poor people of Mexico, who have seen the price of corn for tortillas, the staple food in their diet, skyrocket. Also, the U.S. cattle, hog, and poultry industries have raised prices for consumers because of the higher costs for feed corn. (Animal feed is the largest use of corn.) In turn, the American meat-packing industries—which are major exporters—have become less competitive internationally. We are told that ethanol will reduce our imports of foreign oil, but an unintended consequence is a reduction of our exports. Tallow, a fat that is extracted from cattle, is an important ingredient in soap . But the rising tallow price—due to the rising cost of feed corn—is “causing a radical change in the structure of our marketplace,” says Dennis Griesing, a vice president of the Soap and Detergent Association. Some major companies are now importing more expensive palm oil as a tallow substitute. This leaves them vulnerable to competition from Indonesia and Malaysia, which have better access to palm oil and cheaper labor. “Our companies will have to change their formulations,” says Greising. “They'll never come back to the tallow base and pretty soon, voila, we've killed off another American industry.”

Ethanol is supposed to reduce our imports of oil—but we are importing ethanol! Is that any better than importing petroleum—a much more efficient fuel? Last year, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, our imports of ethanol quadrupled. In 2006 we imported 400 million gallons of ethanol from Brazil alone, compared to just 31 million gallons from that country in 2005.

And not only is ethanol of no benefit regarding air pollution, there are other environmental costs, too. Brazil is cutting down its tropical forests to produce more ethanol, and Indonesia and Malaysia are cutting down their forests to create more palm oil plantations. In the U.S., marginal land devoted to wildlife under the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture conservation program is being converted to growing ethanol, with consequent loss of wildlife habitat. Then, too, each gallon of ethanol requires 1,700 gallons of water (mostly for growing the corn—leading to severe soil erosion) and produces 6 to 12 gallons of noxious organic effluent.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spent $17 million in the last two years on flex-fuel vehicles in order to create an image of environmental consciousness. Those 1,138 state vehicles have traveled 10 million miles and burned more than 413,202 gallons of gas—but not one drop of E85, the fuel that was supposed to bring the environmental benefits. They're too far from the one station in the state that sells E85, and no other stations are scheduled to open before December 2009. Meanwhile, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, “the flex-fuel vehicles are actually chugging out more smog and greenhouse gases than many of the vehicles in the state's old fleet—as much as 2,000 tons annually.” This is the fifth attempt in two decades to shift state vehicles to a cleaner fuel. The other four all failed and cost the taxpayers millions.

In 1981 California started buying cars that ran exclusively on M85, a blend of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent gasoline—even though there were then no M85 pumps. The state subsequently stepped in and financed 50 pumps but eventually had to abandon methanol. Over the next 15 years, the state invested at least $60 million in various alternative fuel schemes: electricity, propane, and compressed natural gas. Each time fueling stations were built, and each effort failed. “The same thing happens every time,” says Bob Sonnenfelt, President of the Northern California-based Public Fleet Supervisors Association, “The program dies, like it did with methanol, and they start another one.”

Politicians still claim they can do better than the free market in allocating resources and directing economic activities. And as long as a majority of voters believe this, the government will keep on trying. And keep on failing. Government can only take action against the market, which means to go against economic reality. When government sacrifices economy—that is, wastes taxpayers money—in the name of achieving environmental objectives, the usual result is environmental losses as well as financial ones. The free market is not the enemy of the environment but the way of utilizing it most efficiently and with the least environmental cost, just as with economic efficiency. But the environmental losses from government programs are usually not apparent to the voters demanding government “do something” about every real or alleged problem or desired objective.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Global Warming and Solar Cycles

A reader asks if the earth is getting closer to the sun. The earth's orbit is always changing, in accordance with several cycles, but these are of very long duration. They cause very long term climate changes but are not the basis of the very slight warming of the earth over the short time spans involved in the current climate change controversy.

The large planets Jupiter and Saturn exert a gravitational pull on the earth that makes the earth's orbit around the sun elliptical. These planets align to pull the earth away from the sun to the maximum distance of its orbit every 100,000 years. The earth's 3 degree change in its inclination to its rotational axis has a 41,000 year cycle. And the precession of its rotation, which exposes one pole or the other to more sunlight, has a 22,000 year cycle. (There is also a climate cycle of 135 million years that corresponds to earth passing through the arms of the Milky Way. The Milky Way galaxy, which is 100,000 light years across and 10,000 light years thick, has six arms spiraling out from its center like a pinwheel.)

While orbital changes produce long-term climate cycles by varying the distance of the earth from the sun, shorter term cycles are determined by changes in the surface of the sun itself. The sun's radiation is not uniform but varied by disturbances on the surface of the sun, called “sunspot cycles.” Magnetic fields rip through the sun's surface, producing holes in the sun's corona, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and changes in the “solar wind,” the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and the carbon dioxide level in the earth's atmosphere—which has nothing to do with emissions from factories or automobiles! Sunspot cycles cause only slight changes in the sun's radiation, but these changes are amplified many fold by interaction 1) with ozone in the upper stratosphere, and 2) with clouds in the lower troposphere.

Sunspot cycles have an eleven-year cycle as well as cycles of 87 years and 210 years. Superimposed, these cycles might add or cancel each other out. (After about 210 years, sunspot cycles “crash” or almost entirely die out, and the earth can cool dramatically.) Singer and Avery, in their best-selling book Unstoppable Global Warming, identify a global warming cycle of about 1,500 years (1,470, actually) based on the 87 and 210-year solar cycles. Seven of the 210-year solar cycles and seventeen of the 87-year cycles fit neatly into the observed 1,470-year climate cycle of the earth. And the Kyoto Treaty and all the proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions will have no effect whatever on these climate cycles. In their arrogant ignorance, the politicians and the progress-is-the-villain ideologues propose expensive schemes that will waste trillions of dollars, reduce people's standard of living, reduce freedom and extend government control over people's lives everywhere.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Smoking Bans are Killing People

In order to get smoking bans passed, it was necessary to create an atmosphere of hatred toward the “enemy,” to work people into a frenzy over a threat to their health, whether the threat was real or not. What mattered was not truth or science but whether the desired result—smoking bans—could be achieved. So truth and science were quickly sacrificed to the-end-justifies-the-means policy of anti-smoking organizations. Michael Seigel, MD, is both a medical doctor and public health official. He has 21 years experience in tobacco policy research and currently teaches at the Boston University School of Public Health. Though adamantly opposed to smoking, he says: “The anti-smoking movement is driven by an agenda—an agenda that will not allow science, sound policy analysis, the law, or ethics to get in its way.”

On December 12, 2006, he charged “Health and Anti-Smoking Groups' Claims are Making a Mockery of Secondhand Smoke Science.” He said “at least 38 health and anti-smoking groups are misleading the public”--including such well-known organizations as the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association. He charges them with “campaigns of deception.” On August 8, 2006, he noted that there were more than 80 “anti-smoking groups which continue to make fallacious scientific claims to the public about secondhand smoke.” Very, very few (we know of only two) have ever apologized or corrected past inaccuracies or ceased promulgating new ones. Siegel's website at details an astonishing array of lies, scientific misrepresentations and hypocrisy over the past two years by anti-smoking groups.

It should be remembered, too, that government agencies, such as the U.S. Surgeon General's office and EPA have been guilty of the same lies and fraudulent claims as the anti-smoking groups. While EPA claimed secondhand smoke was dangerous, the Congressional Research Service, at the request of the U.S. Congress, looked at the same data as EPA and concluded: “It is possible that very few or even no deaths can be attributed to ETS [environmental tobacco smoke].” Further, it stated that nonsmokers exposed to pack-a-day ETS every day for 40 years have “little or no risk of developing lung cancer”—much less dying from it. The CRS is part of the Library of Congress and has all the resources of that esteemed institution at its disposal. It is highly respected, nonpartisan, accepted by both Republicans and Democrats as fair and impartial, has no ties to tobacco companies, no regulatory or other agenda, and accepts no outside funding.

Then there was the Congressional Investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives. It found that EPA, in its study of secondhand smoke, was guilty of “conscious misuse of science and the scientific process to achieve a political agenda that could not otherwise be justified.” It also stated: “The agency has deliberately abused and manipulated scientific data in order to reach a predetermined, politically motivated result.”

(My previous postings have explained some of the scientific fraud, corruption of statistical standards, and deliberate misuse of data and misrepresentation of research studies. These can be found at:,,, (includes a link to my complete testimony at Meeker County.) )

But the well-financed campaign of misinformation worked. The atmosphere of hatred for smoking and smokers became ever more virulent as the fraudulent claims of danger—which became ever more shrill and outrageous—were incessantly pumped into the public consciousness. “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” The campaign against secondhand smoke was a perfect example of this policy, originally proclaimed by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister.

But while the smoking ban activists claimed their aim to be a healthier society, the hatred they spawned and laws they achieved have been producing violence and death. Last week the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried an article headlined: “Man Charged with Severing Wife's Tongue and Windpipe.” It states that the man slashed her throat because she smoked a cigarette to celebrate her birthday. She is in critical condition, and he is being charged with attempted murder. There are many examples (see below) of such violence because of the hatred whipped up by the anti-smoking activists.

While secondhand smoke has not been shown to represent a statistically significant health risk according to classic biostatistical standards, deaths continue to mount from the very measures the activists have managed to enact in smoking bans. These include forcing people to smoke outside (where they aren't protected) or on rooftops, or out in the cold. Notice how many of these are included in the examples below:

Utah: A teenager was murdered for smoking in downtown Salt Lake City.
Ohio: Man Beaten To Death For Not Giving Up Cigarette. Ricardo Leon, 23, died.
UK: Nurse stabbed to death at hospital in an outside smoking area.
UK: man killed wife and two sons over her smoking. John Jarvis, 42, stabbed his wife Patricia in the heart and then murdered their sons, John, 11, and Stuart, eight.
Louisiana: Pregnant woman shot over cigarette. 18-year-old refused to stop smoking.
CA: A 21-year-old woman was stabbed several times early Saturday outside a Carlsbad home when she went outside to smoke a cigarette, police said.
California: Smoker Gunned Down. A gunman fatally shot a man outside a sports bar in unincorporated Hayward as the man took a cigarette break, authorities said Friday.
Illinois: Smoker Falls To Death. Ian Honeycutt, 28, of Glenview, tumbled from a ninth-floor apartment, blown off a window sill by a gust of wind while smoking. His aunt asked him not to smoke inside, police sources said.
Ireland: Eamonn Mulvenna, 20 year old victim died when he fell from a fire escape being used as a smoking area because of the ban.
Canada: A 65 year old smoker dies out in the cold.
Alabama: Smoker Attacked. He was standing in a parking lot, smoking a cigarette when he was attacked
New York. 60 year old man beaten unconscious for smoking.
Florida: Father Stabs Son Over Cigarette.
New Zealand: Abduction And Rape Of Smoking Woman. The incident proved people would be more vulnerable if they had to go outside and smoke, something Prime Minister Helen Clark had not thought of, he said.
Ireland: Three men had jaws broken as they smoked outside pubs in Sligo, Kilkenny and Dublin
Colorado: Bar Owner Blames Smoking Ban For Rape. A Pueblo bar owner says the smoking ban that forced his female employee outside is directly responsible for her rape.
Texas: Date Rape Pill Put in Drink, While Going Outside for Cigarette. Maria says she and two other friends stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. She says it was during that time that someone spiked her drink.
UK: A female backpacker fell 100 feet to her death from the roof of a hostel early yesterday. The 20-year-old Canadian plunged six storeys into a lane at around 3am. One theory is that she climbed onto the flat roof of the no-smoking Edinburgh Backpackers hostel for a cigarette.
Colorado: Courtney Chinn, 25, of Colorado Springs was shot and killed in an area near the Anchor Lounge where smokers congregate on September 20, 2003. [It is said] the problem of crime outside of bars where smokers gather will persist.
Africa: Baby sister killed in brothers' anti smoking crossfire. 3 Year Old Girl Dies In Smoking Ban War.
UK: Boy smoker hanged himself. A 12-year-old boy hanged himself with his school tie rather than admit to his parents that he had been caught smoking
Wisconsin: Girl kills herself after being caught with a cigarette.
Massachusetts: Melissa Pierce and Angela Aiello, after leaving the bar to smoke, were struck in the heads with a metal pipe. Richard Jervah of Lynn was pushed through a plate glass window. Arthur Brestovitsky was stabbed in the chest, face, and arm.
The above examples are from, which contains over a hundred examples of such violence. We didn't hear stories of these kinds of violence before the smoking ban activists started fomenting hatred with their holy war (jihad) against smoking. It's time for them to admit their dishonest, exaggerated policies about the danger of secondhand smoke are killing more people than secondhand smoke. There is no scientifically sound basis for concluding that ETS is even a carcinogen—all of the studies claiming the contrary depend on corruption of scientific procedures, debasing of time-honored statistical standards, and/or misrepresentation of research studies. In fact, as the Littlewood & Fennell report to the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors on Carcinogens states: “Many studies show a negative correlation for ETS and lung cancer—implying a protective effect, especially for children.” And of the nine Bradford Hill tests for judging carcinogenicity, none supports the contention that ETS is a human carcinogen. But hiding this information from the public is part of the misinformation campaign of the activists. So is keeping the public in the dark about the relative risk (RR) of secondhand smoke. The latest Surgeon General's report puts this RR at 1.2 to 1.3—but the public isn't told that the municipal drinking water that tens of millions of U.S. citizens drink every day in thousands of U.S. cities has RRs of 2.0 to 4.0—which indicates far greater danger than secondhand smoke. If a RR of 1.3 was statistically significant and indicated a threat to human health, then tens of thousands of our citizens would be dying every year from drinking municipal water with its much higher risk. But where are these bodies? These fatalities are simply not occurring. Neither are those from secondhand smoke. (Claims to the contrary are based on assuming invalid cause-and-effect relationships from statistically insignificant RRs.) Furthermore, Dr. Siegel has pointed out that a recent study in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention concludes that “even if all currently known and measured carcinogens in tobacco smoke were completely removed, there would be little reason to believe that there would be any observable reduction in smoking-related cancers.” As the independent health consultants Littlewood & Fennell put it, “the effort to 'prove' ETS is a human carcinogen is largely and activist/advocate avowed anti-smoking advocates determined to somehow prove that ETS is a human carcinogen in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary."

Once again, it is clear that, regardless of the good intentions of the jihadist do-gooders, lies and a belief that the end justifies the means simply do not work. They cannot make a safer world than truth, science and respect for individual rights--including property rights--of people causing no harm to others. Liberty is still the best answer--in fact, the only answer--to a better, safer society. But some people never learn; they keep trying to prove that force is better than freedom and individual rights. And their mistakes continue to be paid for with the blood and lives of innocent people.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Eagle Problem Update

Recently there have been a number of comments to our December 29, 2006 posting “My Problem with Eagles.” Since many of these raise the same issues, I decided to answer them here collectively rather than publish all the individual comments and my replies in the Comments section of the original posting. Also, while some readers have raised valid questions in their comments, they have also included obscenities, name-calling, or scatological terms. This blog will not publish any such comments. Therefore, I have extracted any valid issues from such comments, which are often the same as those raised by others with more civilized vocabulary, and will cover them in my reply below.

Probably the most common issue from readers has been concern over what will happen to the eagles occupying this one nest if my property is developed. Our earlier posting explained that, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife experts, eagles typically have 3 to 5 nests in their territory, among which they rotate their occupancy every few years. But then the question is raised: what will happen to the other 2 to 4 nests if other landowners have the same attitude you do, and where will the eagles go? This implies two incorrect assumptions: 1) that the eagles' other nests are also on private property, and 2) that there is no place for eagles to go except other private property. Actually, Minnesota has millions of trees available on millions of acres of forested public lands—several of these very close to my property. On three sides of my property, there are three state forests within 27 miles; the Rum River State Forest is only 12 miles away. Plus there are also state and federal wildlife refuges, as well as other state forests, close by. The state has lots of these, plus national park and national forests, with millions of acres of suitable habitat where development is prohibited.

Minnesota has the largest national forest in the lower 48 states, the Superior National Forest, with 4,000,000 acres. Another national forest in the state, the Chippewa National Forest, contains, 1,600,000 acres. Then there is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, part of which lies in the Superior National Forest, but another million acres lie outside of it. Then there are 57 state forests, comprising approximately another 4,000,000 acres. There are also various state and federal wildlife refuges, state parks, and one national park. The Voyageurs National Park contains almost a quarter-million acres of suitable eagle habitat. Given the vast tracts of land set aside for preservation, it is difficult for me to believe that my 7 acres of buildable land must be sacrificed for the preservation of eagles, or that one tree on my property can be crucial to survival of the species when there are literally hundreds of millions of available trees in Minnesota.

On a line from my property to the Rum River State Forest, in the opposite direction lies the Pillsbury State Forest 27 miles away. From this line, at a 90 degree angle, lies the Wealthwood State Forest, 18 miles from my property. The Mille Lacs [state] Wildlife Refuge is also 18 miles away, to the southeast, while the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge is just 34 miles to the northeast. Thus those who lament about the eagles losing their home, not having any place to go, and being threatened by the loss of one tree on my property have simply jumped to conclusion without knowing the facts about the abundance of nesting sites available on nearby public forested areas.

It should be noted, too, that state and federal governments have determined the locations best suited for preservation of species in the selection of public forests, wildlife refuges, etc. They did not select my property for such purpose because they found far more suitable properties. Similarly, the state and federal officials selected thousands of Minnesota lakes for inclusion in state and federal parks, the BWCA, etc., where development would be prohibited. The lake on which my property is located was not included; there were thousands of lakes considered more appropriate for that purpose. My lake was officially classified as a General Development Lake, meaning it was appropriate for development and human habitation. There are currently a couple of hundred cabins on this lake. I would simply be doing what all the other property owners have already done. That I have not done so earlier should be reason for applause, rather than criticism for being “greedy.”

Another common issue among readers is the apparent assumption that if I forgo development of the property, the eagles will live there happily ever after. But once again people are making assumptions without knowing the facts. The fact is these trees don't last forever, and the particular tree with the eagle nest is very old. It's about as big and old as a white pine ever gets, and there are obvious signs that it is approaching the end of its life. There are 6 to 8 holes at the base of the tree and as far up as about 8 feet. Many of these are large enough to put your hand into. Squirrels and other small animals have been running in and out and carrying wood chips and wood dust out. And one can see from what they have brought out—the very dark, soft, decaying material—that the tree is rotting from the inside and being hollowed out. There are also several large cracks, running several feet in length, up to about 10 to 12 feet from the ground. And the tree has also lost some major branches higher up. So what will happen to the eagles if the tree falls from natural causes? They'll survive. They'll go to their other nests, and they'll build new nests in new trees from time to time as they have been doing throughout the history of the species. Denying me the right to develop the property—on which I and my family have been paying taxes since the 1930s—will have no effect at all on “saving the species.” And once the tree has fallen, the property will ultimately be developed by someone, if not me then by whoever comes after me. The development plan I proposed meets all the other federal, state and county specifications for development.

Several readers have suggested that I should drop plans to develop the property “because the eagles were there before you were.” Once again, these people do not know the facts. The fact is I was there 50 years before the eagles were. I grew up spending summers on this lake, and it was at least 50 years before any of us ever saw an eagle. The eagle nest on my property has been there for only about a dozen years. The eagles have become so prolific they have been expanding their range and building nests where there never were such nests before, such as on my property.

Some readers have also said I should donate the property to the government. These people should put their money where their mouths are. If they think saving one aging tree with an eagle's nest is worth foregoing several hundred thousand dollars (the appraised value of the property, if developed), then they should get together, come up with that sum, and I'll be glad to sell to them so they can demonstrate their pious devotion to their cause by donating the land to the government at their own expense, not mine.

Actually, if I were wealthy enough (which I am not) to be willing to forgo the money for the sake of an eagle's nest, I certainly would not trust the government to preserve the property for its intended purpose. Across the lake from my property, there was a resort for many decades, operated by a man named Ed Linehan. He owned additional property (perhaps 10 acres or so) behind his Squaw Point Resort. Eventually he deeded this heavily wooded land to the county explicitly for the recreational use of the public. But several years later the county voted to sell that land for development on the grounds that the money could be better used for other purposes. The heirs of Ed Linehan then sued the county on the grounds that since the terms for which the land was donated to the county were not being fulfilled, the land should be returned to the Linehan family. The whole episode was written up in the local newspaper 2 or 3 years ago. I am not an attorney, but it certainly seemed to me from the newspaper account that the county was not fulfilling its end of the bargain and the property should be returned to the Linehans; however, the article said that the county attorney had advised the county board that its actions were legal. I don't know how the case turned out because I discontinued getting that local newspaper. But that is just one reason not to trust government to safeguard the environment. There are many more, as I have explained in my book MAKERS AND TAKERS (available from American Liberty Publishers).

Government at all levels has a terrible record on conservation. For decades it has driven some species, such as wolves and mountain lions, to the verge of extinction by paying bounties and even hiring government employees to kill them. The federal government also presided over the virtual extinction of the buffalo. The federal “open range” policy was detrimental to the buffalo, as was the government's policy of killing buffalo as a means of subduing the Indians. Government persistently refused to act even when buffalo numbers became alarmingly small. At one point Congress strongly argued that the buffalo was a “pest” and should be eliminated. When Congress finally passed a bill for conservation of the buffalo, President Grant vetoed it. The government had many opportunities and failed them all. By 1900 the once-vast wild herds of buffalo had dwindled to a mere 20 animals, these being in Yellowstone National Park. But even with so few animals left to watch over, and these confined to federal land, the U.S. government with all its mighty power—and its usual incompetence—could not prevent 16 of these last 20 from being slaughtered by poachers. It wasn't government that saved the buffalo from extinction. It was private concern and private property. One man (it may have been the Pend d'Oreille Indian Walking Coyote) had earlier roped two two male and two female calves and protected them on private property. From this grew the great Allard-Poncho and Conrad herds in Montana after the disappearance of every last buffalo in the public domain there. In the Panhandle, Colonel Charles Goodnight lured a few wild calves to his ranch and protected them. Mitchell Pablo, a half-Mexican half-Blackfoot Indian orphan who became a cattle baron, started protecting buffalo on his property in 1883. By 1906 he was ready to sell, but even at this late date Congress refused to buy any. So he sold to Canada. The 691 buffalo he sold were shipped to Canada's vast 17,300 square mile Wood Buffalo National Park and grew to a herd of 14,000 in half a century. It was these few men, acting in their own interests and by means of private property, who preserved the buffalo and later furnished the animals for restocking national parks and other public lands—for which the government now claims credit for saving the species! There are similar stories about the pronghorn antelope and the tule elk, which you can read about in my book. You can also read about the world leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation. No, it's not the federal government—which for decades used taxpayer money to promote the draining of wetlands. The conservation hero here is not government at all but a private organization with none of the powers of government. Supported entirely by voluntary private donations, Ducks Unlimited has conserved almost 12 million acres of wetlands, accomplished more than 1200 water control projects that have benefited 60 different species of mammals, 19 types of fish and 250 species of birds. It and similar organizations, including many small hunting and fishing clubs, have preserved more wetlands than the federal government. But the public isn't aware of these facts. If people were aware, they wouldn't be so quick to depend on government to accomplish environmental objectives. Through most of our history, it was recognized as beneficial to turn more and more public land over to private ownership, as, for example, with the Homestead Act of 1862. In recent decades we have been going against our own history by government policies that are bent on converting more and more private properties back into government ownership. And regulating more and more of what remains private, treating it as though everything is really public.

One reader says I am incorrect in interpreting the Constitutional principle of compensation for the taking of private property for public use. He writes: “You are only owed just compensation on a regulatory taking IF there has been a physical invasion of your property OR you have lost all of the economic value of your property.” But that is precisely the point: I have indeed lost all economic value of the property. There is no part of the buildable area of my property that is not included in the 330-foot radius from the eagle nest where the law prohibits any construction or habitat modification that would allow any economic use whatsoever. My property is bounded on one side by the lake and on the other three sides by two roads and by wetlands. The eagle tree is only 250 feet from the lake. So observing the 330-foot setback requirment from the eagle nest would put construction 80 feet out into the lake. Thus none of the property between the eagle tree and the lakeshore can be used. And in the other directions, the longest dimension from the eagle tree to roads or wetlands (which must be preserved) is only about 130 feet. So nothing at all can be built on any of the property. The property is completely wooded, but I cannot cut and sell firewood, plant corn or anything else. If the writer of that comment above can suggest any economic use that does not involve harvesting anything, planting anything, building any structures, or clearing trees to allow for such economic activity, I would like to hear about it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Price Gouging: Oil Industry or Government?

With oil prices near record highs, politicians are accusing the oil industry of “price gouging” and are calling for an investigation. Of course, there is no such crime as “price gouging,” but that hasn't deterred politicians and the haters of capitalism from trying to portray oil companies as villains. Nor has the fact that numerous previous investigations of the oil industry over the years have never discovered even a single incidence of price gouging.

Last year Exxon Mobil reported $39.5 billion in profits. Sounds like a lot. But oil companies make about 13 cents a gallon on gasoline, while the federal tax is 18.4 cents. State taxes can be even more. As George Will has pointed out, “Senator Clinton's New York collects 42.4 cents per gallon. Forty-nine states—all but Alaska—make more than the oil companies do on every gallon.”

Does the tax money do anything to increase supplies of oil? Absolutely not. The government diverts billions of tax dollars to alternative fuels—which are uneconomic—in the hope they will someday become economic. Meanwhile, a federal moratorium on offshore drilling—effective since 1981—has placed off limits 85 percent of our Outer Continental Shelf bordering the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and much of the Gulf of Mexico, all of which contain vast deposits of petroleum. Congress also voted not to allow oil drilling on any of the 19 million acres in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge--even a modest request for 5,000 acres (0.002 percent). Alaska holds more oil reserves than all of the lower 48 states combined, and the prohibited areas of the Gulf of Mexico are said to contain 50 percent more oil than Alaska. Lack of refining capacity has also contributed to curtailing today's available supplies, thanks to federal regulations that have prevented the building of even a single new refinery in the U.S. for the past 29 years. The Wall Street Journal has noted that one company has been trying for 16 years to get the necessary permits but has been unable to do so.

In the past 20 years, Exxon Mobil has earned $266 billion, but it has invested $279 billion to bring more oil and gas into production. Shortly after announcing its 2006 earnings, the company said it will invest another $60 billion over the next three years.

Federal gas taxes are supposed to provide for highway construction and maintenance. But in the 20 years from 1980 to 2000, highway travel grew 80 percent, the number of drivers 30 percent, and highway capacity only 2 percent. Instead of providing sensibly for highway needs, the government diverted money to wasteful mass transit systems, such as light rail, and pork barrel projects for political advantage, such as the “bridge to nowhere,” a $233 million bridge larger than San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, which will connect Ketchikan Alaska (population 8,000) with an island of 50 inhabitants (See our essay “No Politician Left Behind.”)

The federal government's losses are far greater than the above examples indicate, because it does not follow accepted accounting practices. The executives of Enron, Worldcom, and some other large companies went to jail for corrupt accounting practices. But the federal government daily gets away with far greater accounting malpractices. Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later, but the federal government does not do so. As a result, according to an article in USA Today May 29, 2007, taxpayers are now stuck with $59.1 trillion in unreported liabilities—or $516,348 for every U.S. household.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Global Warming, Flat Beer and Soda

“It is curious that the Coca Cola Company and all other producers of carbonated beverages, from beer to champagne, have not become targets of political action,” say Christopher Essex and Ross McKittrick in their excellent book TAKEN BY STORM: The troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming. “A bottle of soda pop has about two grams of carbon dioxide in it, and that amount will eventually be released into the atmosphere in one way or another. That can translate into several hundred thousand tons of carbon dioxide every year. [Ed: this is far more than from secondhand tobacco smoke, which Al Gore stupidly claimed contributes to global warming] Wouldn't it be consistent with the moral tone of 'thinking locally and acting globally' to decline to drink carbonated beverages? Shouldn't those companies be required to produce flat beverages in the cause of stopping global climate change?”

“While the contribution of carbonated drinks to overall human carbon dioxide production in minuscule by comparison, it still amounts to maybe four million tonnes of CO2 per year....Fortunately, we need not fear the loss of our bubbly libations. Politicians and Official Science have come up with something that is similarly symbolic, and equally flat in terms of its internal logic, but which promises a far more costly penance: the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change....

“Of course the Doctrine says that there is no cost for the implementation. Environmental groups have even come out lately and claimed that Canada could get rich by implementing Kyoto. This is simply not true. Regulation is a drag on the economy. By definition, it forces people to do what they would not have chosen to do, and there is always a cost for that....If the regulations being proposed really could make us better off through some technology-driven boom, it would happen anyway, without the need for regulatory push. And while people are distracted by disputes over economics, it is widely missed that Kyoto will have a negligible effect on climate whatever happens!”

I have emphasized one sentence in the above paragraph because it is a beautifully succinct statement that we should keep in mind regarding ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen-fueled automobiles, solar and wind power plants.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New Study: Ethanol Bad for Health and Environ...

A new study appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology April 18 finds ethanol a health hazard that would likely increase the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations. Ethanol is touted as a “green” alternative to gasoline, but the author of the study, Mark Jacobson, says, “It's not green in terms of air pollution.” Jacobson is a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University, who studied atmospheric conditions in 2020 if all vehicles ran on ethanol.

The study found that E85 reduces atmospheric levels of two carcinogens, benzene and butadiene, but increases two others—formaldehyde and acetaldehyde—indicating cancer rates similar to gasoline. However, E85 significantly increases ozone, a prime ingredient in smog. This would increase ozone-related mortalities by about 4 percent in the United States and 9 percent in Los Angeles.

The study noted the deleterious health effects of E85 will be the same, whether the ethanol is made from corn, switchgrass or other plant products.

The new study simply confirms the results of previous studies on this subject. See our posting of September 2006 on “Ethanol Damage” for similar conclusions from studies by the National Academy of Science, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the National Research Council. For more, see also our book MAKERS AND TAKERS, available from American Liberty Publishers.

Furthermore, studies indicate that ethanol is a net energy loser as well as a financial loser. Our previous postings (Jan. 24, '07, Feb. 2, '06, Aug. 8, '05) have discussed the fact that the production of ethanol (planting corn, harvesting it, distilling the alcohol, etc.) requires more energy that can be obtained by burning the ethanol. But ethanol is a financial loser as well. A gallon of U.S. corn-based ethanol costs about $1.90, wholesale, even after a 51 cent per gallon federal subsidy. But Brazil produces ethanol from sugar cane at $1.75 a gallon—including transportation from Brazil and a 54 cents per gallon import tariff imposed by the U.S. government. Brazil has more hours of daylight, warmer temperatures, lower labor costs, doesn't need the extensive fertilizers of corn; and the alcohol can be extracted more efficiently from sugar cane than from corn. (Cutting back fertilizers for U.S. corn is counterproductive because the yields would be reduced too much.) No wonder Brazil exported well over 400 million gallons of ethanol to the U.S. in 2006, compared to only 31 million gallons in 2005. Jamaica, the Netherlands, China and even Pakistan find it economic to ship ethanol to the U.S. Total U.S. imports of ethanol more than quadrupled last year, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.