Tag: environmentalism

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Save the Whales. Release the Elephants. Kill the Eagles.

 

shutterstock_94987243If you’re an animal rights activist, you’ve had some high profile wins lately. In March, three years after the highly-critical documentary “Blackfish” was released, Sea World caved to PETA and similar groups, and announced it was ending killer whale shows and captivity:

SeaWorld will turn its attention to “new, inspiring, natural orca encounters” with educational programs emphasizing enrichment, exercise and health with its remaining killer whales, CEO Joel Manby said on a conference call. The orca shows will end in San Diego in 2017, while the San Antonio and Orlando parks will end the shows by 2019.

“Today marks a bold and impactful shift for our company,” Manby said. “The killer whale issue is a growing reason why many people don’t visit SeaWorld and this is about doing the best thing for our orcas, our guests, our ambassadors and our company.”

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Today is April 22nd. It is also V.I. Lenin’s birthday. It is also, not coincidentally, the day specifically chosen for the grand-daddy holy day of the great state/world religion of Eco-Marxism – Earth Day. It is also the day when I ponder most on when a First Amendment lawsuit will finally be filed which claims (correctly) that […]

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Today is Earth Day, the High Holidays for the Church of the Perpetually Aggrieved & The Scientifically Illiterate. It’s an apocalyptic cult whose adherents worship the Polar Bear and are particularly dimwitted. They are noted for their resolute faith in the coming of environmental disaster in 5! No 10! No 20! No 50! years. To […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Some Greens Imagine a World Without Economic Growth. But There’s a Better Way.

 

shutterstock_231138520Economic growth — material abundance and the opportunity for human advancement it generates — is the beating, sustaining heart of modern civilization. Longer lives, more interesting lives, safer lives. Mass flourishing — with lots of cool stuff and more on the way.

What does scarcity look like? Fans of “The Walking Dead” sure know, just as they know the real monsters are humans fighting over what scraps remain of our world after the zombie apocalypse.

So thank you, market capitalism. Or perhaps “innovation capitalism” is the better term. Economist Deirdre McCloskey offers several preferable options including “technological and institutional betterment at a frenetic pace, tested by unforced exchange among all the parties involved,” and “fantastically successful liberalism, in the old European sense, applied to trade and politics, as it was applied also to science and music and painting and literature.”

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why the Doctrine of Sustainability is Anti-Catholic and the Pope Should Reject It

 

Back in May, I noticed an article on CRISIS magazine’s website that I knew I wouldn’t have the proper time to devote to reading. It was titled, What Does “Sustainability” Really Mean?, so I added it to my menu bar for later perusal. It was worth the wait.

“Sustainability” is one of those watchwords which has found common usage across the political spectrum. On the left, it typically raises concerns about the environmental impact of humans using limited natural resources like water and fossil fuels. On the right, there’s more worry over the sustainability of a government or economic system burdened by $18 trillion of debt. Having read William M. Briggs’s excellent article hasn’t changed my mind about the latter, but it has given me pause about the concept of sustainability generally. There’s just so much we simply don’t (and can’t) know.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. No One Remembers “Everything But the Squeal”

 

shutterstock_169653197Okay, so yesterday world leaders salved their collective consumption consciences by eating a lunch made with garbage. Yes, after wasting thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying in from all over the world with their enormous entourages, they wore their Savile Row suits and Italian leather shoes to an upscale lunch, eating landfill salad with their veggie burgers (made of juicing pulp) and corn-starch French fries. No word on how the consumables were obtained for this groundbreaking luncheon. Surely they came from the kitchen garbage right there at the United Nations.

This dinner was all about addressing food waste by Western cultures. I know, I know, I always throw out my pulp after juicing. Oh, wait, no I don’t. I don’t juice. It’s stupid because you throw out all the parts of the fruits and vegetables that are actually good for you — like half the vitamins and all the fiber — so you can get the sweet, sweet sugars and tell yourself you’ve extracted all the good parts. You’re better off eating an apple from your local farmer’s market with a glass of low-sodium V-8, or just having a colorful salad without all the good parts like bacon and cheese.

But I digress.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Eureka Podcast: Drought and Despair in California

 

In the newest installment of the Eureka podcast, Hoover Institution fellows Carson Bruno and Bill Whalen are joined by Stanford political science professor Bruce Cain (Director of the university’s Center for the American West) to discuss the ramifications of the California drought, how government may have compounded the problem, and whether or not residents of the Golden State have to settle for a future of rock gardens and being fined for overwatering their lawns. Listen in below:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Volkswagen, the EPA, and Latter-day Indulgences

 

Volkswagen Group’s stock price has collapsed 30 percent since news broke last week that the company doctored engine management software to conceal tailpipe emissions exceeding EPA standards. Why would a global corporation risk an estimated $18 billion in fines and penalties to eke a bit more mileage out of a diesel power plant that is already remarkably thrifty and powerful? The figure below tells the story in one chart.

CAFE Standards

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. In Keystone XL Decision, Hillary Chooses Primary Votes over Science

 
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Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

Last week at a New Hampshire town hall, Hillary Clinton was asked her position on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. Instead of offering a simple yes or no, the supposedly spontaneous candidate issued a warning to President Obama: “I’m putting the White House on notice, I’m going to tell you what I think — soon.”

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: “The Uses and Abuses of the Clean Water Act”

 

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve just read this terrific Richard Epstein post on the Clean Water Act (see below), but where I can get some sweet Epstein environmental protection podcast action?” Well, friends, look no further. In this episode of The Libertarian podcast we endeavor to give a layman’s explanation of the Clean Water Act and explain how a well-intended law has obstructed genuine environmental protection while snagging innocent landowners in a needless regulatory morass. Listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian podcast via iTunes so that you never miss an episode.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. When Environmental Protection Laws Enable Pollution

 

shutterstock_258860813Shortly after my piece “Filtering the Clean Water Act” went up at Hoover’s Defining Ideas, I got an email from Eric Wolinsky, who asked this question:

Lake Champlain has a significant pollution problem caused in large part by runoff from agricultural fields. The current rules require a buffer between crop land and ‘waterways.’ The problem is that there are no required buffers between cropland and ditches that don’t meet the definition of ‘waterways.’ During rains, the runoff enters the ditches, [and then] travels to the ‘waterways’ and on to Lake Champlain. The waterways are buffered, but the ditches are not. The runoff gets to the lake just as if the buffers on the waterways weren’t there.

How do you regulate this situation without expanding the definition of waterways?

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The EPA’s Flawed Clean Coal Plan

 

shutterstock_296570639“On August 3, President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change.” So begins the Environmental Protection Agency’s homage to the President and itself. The harder question is whether it is true. On this point, there is a sharp division of opinion between the traditional supporters and traditional detractors of these sorts of measures, with few (if anyone) occupying a middle ground that finds some merit but expresses real concern over the structure and function of the plan. Nonetheless, it is better to back off for the moment from extravagant claims that the end is near if we don’t (or do) embrace this particular plan.

Let’s put aside the EPA’s shaky legal authority and concentrate on the plan itself. A sensible approach divides the regulatory inquiry into two halves. The first asks about the best institutional framework to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), most notably carbon dioxide. The second asks how to assess, on empirical grounds, the severity of the carbon dioxide problem that the EPA purports to tackle. The EPA falls short on both counts. I shall take them up in order.

The first point to note about the EPA’s clean coal initiative is that, given its inability to secure any congressional action on the subject, the agency is working solely within the existing statutory framework. That is a big mistake from the get-go. The pollution control scheme put into place under the Clean Air Act of 1970 (CAA), as modified by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, is the wrong way to deal with any form of pollution.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Our Bigoted Bicycles

 

I read the Times for the same reason I stare down from the top of tall buildings: Terrified fascination at what might come next. Here is a case in point:

But two years in, Citi Bike’s inroads have been decidedly uneven, with men far outnumbering women in using the bike-sharing system. A little time on Eighth Avenue on a recent morning, watching the stream of Citi Bike riders heading north past Pennsylvania Station and toward Times Square, was instructive. Man after man pedaled by, some in suits, others in jeans. From time to time, a woman on a Citi Bike rode by.

For the bike service, that is a problem.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Pope Francis Endorses Climate Science, Trashes Modernity

 

shutterstock_186370886As promised, the pope’s encyclical came out today, so I spent most of my morning reading and processing so I could say something useful about it. (Amusingly, I was recently pre-interviewed for an NPR panel on the topic, but they got spooked when they discovered that I’m a climate skeptic. Such disreputable views are obviously not suitable for NPR. So I had to wait and read the encyclical today, with the rest of the plebs.)

So here’s something you already knew: Pope Francis believes in climate change. Here’s something else you knew: he’s wary of free markets. Despite that, I found it a very enjoyable read. Neither climate change nor free markets were the central focus. It’s more of a meditation on the dehumanizing, technocratic tendencies of modernity. It occurred to me as I was reading that Pope Francis believes in climate change mainly for the same sorts of reasons that conservatives are prone to doom-and-gloom future projections: the progressive disregard for nature has advanced so far that it seems credible to him that the earth is on the brink of disaster.

So, that’s some interesting food for thought. I’ll pull out a few passages that I liked, and invite others to leave whatever reactions they want to share.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Brawndo-world

 

Brawndo-worldTwenty years ago, Hollywood feared a world with too much water. Dennis Hopper’s jet skis chased Kevin Costner’s trimaran across the endless seas of Waterworld as they searched for dry land and their lost careers.

The filmmakers got the prediction wrong as California is nothing but dry land and it’s hard to find water for crops, lawns, and golf courses. Before long, the state might take inspiration from another movie, irrigating their plants with Brawndo (it’s got electrolytes). Until then, Sacramento is looking for a more manageable solution.

The formerly golden state could ameliorate the drought by updating environmental policies that choose bait fish over humans. Or, instead of building a luxe, high-speed rail line from Madera to Bakersfield, they could try desalination plants on a certain large body of water located immediately to their west.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Climate Change and the New Iconoclasts

 

Clasm_ChludovThe ancient city of Constantinople was heralded as a “new Rome” and quickly replaced the old one in splendor and importance. As the western Roman Empire withered and fell, the eastern Christian empire flourished. But after a few centuries of success, their good fortune ran out.

The first recorded bubonic plague killed more than a third of Constantinople’s inhabitants. Then in a series of bloody, expensive wars with the Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and Persians, the city finally stabilized their empire only to see the majority of it swallowed by Muslim conquerors. Add in the coups, civil wars, and a spectacular volcanic eruption off the island of Santorini, and Christians wondered what they did to lose the favor of God.

Fearful citizens allegedly convinced Emperor Leo III that the city’s celebrated icons were to blame; the Lord was punishing Constantinople for the sin of idolatry. Leo and the iconoclasts removed and destroyed images bearing the likeness of Christ and other religious figures to purify the empire and appease an angry God. Other powerful leaders and priests opposed the desecration and pointed to other possible reasons for God’s disfavor.