A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/a-century-of-fire-suppression-is-why-california-is-in-flames/

A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

“The wake-up call has already happened.”

December 12, 2017

The acrid smell of charred wood still permeates the air as Sasha Berleman, a fire ecologist, and I walk along a dirt path up through the middle of a canyon in the Bouverie nature preserve in Sonoma Valley. On the left side, the earth is black as tar, and scorch marks as tall as a person scar the trunks of the mature oak trees scattered throughout the field. But on the right side, the ground is tan and brown, and you have to look hard at the still-green oaks to see any evidence of the fire that raged through here just a few weeks before. It’s no mystery to Berleman why the fire behaved so differently on the two sides of the trail at Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Bouverie Preserve. When flames hit the field on the left of the path, they met a dense wall of thigh-high grass that hadn’t been mowed, grazed or burned for 20 years. The flames must have been 5 or 6 feet tall. On the right side, however, Berleman had set a prescribed burn just this spring. So when the October wildfire hit, patches of fire blazed, but with so little fuel, the flames remained only inches high.

For more than a century, people have been snuffing out fire across the West. As a result, forests, grasslands and shrub lands like those in the Bouverie reserve are overgrown. That means that, when fire escapes suppression, it’s more destructive. It kills more trees, torches more homes and sends far more carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

The devastating fires that hit Bouverie and a large swath of Northern California’s wine country in October killed 42 people and destroyed nearly 7,000 buildings. In California’s Sierra Nevada in recent years, megafires have burned at much greater severity than those forests ever saw in the past, killing trees across large landscapes and unleashing enormous quantities of carbon. The remedy, Berleman and many other scientists say, is to reintroduce fire to the landscape by allowing more natural fires to burn and setting controlled burns when weather conditions minimize the risk of a catastrophic blaze.

“We have 100 years of fire suppression that has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads, just dead and downed debris from trees and plant material in our forests, and in our woodlands,” says Berleman. “As a result of that, our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior than we would otherwise.”

Addressing the problem will require a revolution in land management and in people’s relationship with fire — and there are signs both may be beginning.

As a child in Southern California, Berleman was deeply afraid of wildfire. But at community college, she learned that Native Americans used fire for thousands of years to manage forests and grasslands and protect their villages. Tribes regularly burned California’s oak woodlands, for instance, to remove underbrush and fight pests. It helped them spot prey more easily, keep weevils out of the acorns they gathered for food, and safeguard their homes from wildfire. In 2009, Berleman transferred to the University of California, Berkeley to study fire ecology. There, she worked on her first prescribed burn. “I instantly fell in love with the ability to use fire in a positive way to accomplish objectives,” she says. She trained as a firefighter so she could put fire to use as a land-management tool.

Two years ago, while she was finishing her doctoral dissertation, she began working part-time at Bouverie. Last fall, she presented her boss with suggestions for using fire to restore overgrown landscapes, both at Bouverie and across the North Bay Area region. He approved, and Berleman, 28, started as a full-time fire ecologist in January, set her first burn in May and began organizing a taskforce to conduct burns and train local crews.

She knew how fire-prone the region is. Still, the big blazes in October caught her by surprise. “I thought I had more time to get work done,” she says.

High winds played a big role in spreading the California wine country’s deadly fires. But Berleman and other fire ecologists believe overgrown grasslands, forests and woodlands contributed as well. “I’m more certain than ever that there’s a lot we can do between now and the next time this happens to make it so that the negative consequences to people are nowhere near as dramatic.”

When fire hits overgrown wildlands, it burns hotter and is much more likely to kill stands of trees and threaten property and people’s lives.

But it also unleashes the carbon held by trees, other plants and soil. Forests store enormous amounts of carbon—more than double the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—and continuously soak up more, blunting the impact of all the greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels in power plants and cars. In recent decades, the size of fires, their intensity and the length of the fire season have all grown dramatically. The more destructive a fire, the more carbon it releases. In fact, largely because of fires, California’s forests emitted more carbon than they soaked up between 2001 and 2010, according to a 2015 analysis by National Park Service and UC Berkeley scientists. “After 100-plus years of fire suppression in forests, we’re seeing a lot more tree-killing wildfire,” says Matthew Hurteau, University of New Mexico fire ecologist and associate professor. “That has substantial implications for the carbon put back into the atmosphere.”

Further complicating the picture is climate change—the major factor behind the longer fire seasons and bigger fires. This creates a feedback loop, where megafires exacerbate climate change, which then encourages even bigger wildfires. One study found that from 1984 to 2015, climate change doubled the area burned by wildfires across the West, compared to what would have burned without climate change. As the globe keeps warming, scientists expect forests to continue getting warmer, drier and more flammable. Unless people reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will significantly increase the frequency of wildfires. One study projected that if fossil fuels remain the dominant source of global energy and greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, by 2085 the acreage burned by fire in California will increase one-third to three-fourths. Elsewhere in the West, the size and frequency of fire is expected to increase even more dramatically. Until recently, intense fires were rare in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. But one study predicted that with climate change, fire likely would become so common and widespread there that by the middle of this century, the region’s forests as we know them will vanish, replaced by other types of vegetation that may store far less carbon.

In California’s Sierra Nevada, the combustible combination of climate change and overgrown forests already is transforming landscapes and unleashing massive amounts of carbon.

A four-hour drive east of wine country, gray trunks of dead incense cedar and white fir cover the steep slopes of the Eldorado National Forest. Deep into a canyon and up to a ridge in the distance, the trees are so close together that their branches touch. UC Berkeley fire ecologist Brandon Collins brought me here to show me the consequence of decades of fire suppression combined with climate change. This forest would usually burn nine times over the course of 100 years, but no fire had blazed here since at least 1908. “Without fire, you’re going to have these dense stands no matter what,” Collins says.

In 2014, the King Fire hit this unnaturally overgrown forest, leaping into the canopy and racing across a vast landscape. Limited patches of high-intensity fire would be natural in these forests. But in 47 percent of the 97,717 acres burned in the King Fire, the blaze was so hot that it killed nearly all of the trees. This included 14 areas where rare California spotted owls were known to nest. Before people started suppressing fires, this kind of all-consuming blaze did not happen in this type of forest, according to tree-ring studies. “We have seen no evidence you could ever have gotten a mortality patch this big,” Collins says.

The amount of carbon sent to the atmosphere from such an enormous fire is staggering. “It’s ugly,” says Collins. “It’s not only a huge initial loss just from the direct emissions, but it’s slow emission over time as these trees break and then fall to the ground and the decomposition process really gets underway. We’re looking at 30 years or 40 years of pure emissions coming from this area with very little on the uptake side,” Collins says.

Just the initial blaze released 5.2 million metric tons, roughly as much greenhouse gas emissions as 1.1 million passenger cars emit in a year, according to an estimate by Forest Service ecologist Leland Tarnay. It’s too soon to analyze the fire’s total carbon footprint.

It could take a long time for this landscape to start packing on carbon again. Though some trees’ cones require fire to reseed, these particular types of conifers won’t grow back because the fire burned their seeds. The silver lining is the native oaks, which are fire resilient and can resprout from roots or stumps, even after a trunk is killed by fire. Already, their seedlings are emerging from the sea of dead trunks.

Nearby, some strips of trees are still green. Their trunks are also more broadly spaced. In these areas, the Forest Service had set prescribed burns or thinned the forests by logging some trees. Forest Service surveys show the King Fire burned much less intensely in these areas. Flames were lower, staying on the forest floor rather than surging into the canopy of the trees. Firefighters used these areas to slow and stop the fire. More trees survived.

Just a few minutes’ drive from where the King Fire raged, Collins shows me where he and other scientists have been studying how people can help restore forests to more natural conditions. Thanks to firefighters’ efforts, UC Berkeley’s Blodgett Research Forest narrowly escaped the King Fire. Blodgett was clear-cut in the early 1900s, before the university took it over. After 100 years, it’s grown into a lush forest of incense cedar, ponderosa pine, white fir and oak trees.

The first patch of forest Collins shows me is the control forest, from which fire has long been banned. The understory is so thick with small trees and shrubs that it’s difficult to walk; we have to step over tangles of dead trees and branches. If a fire were to strike this area, it would easily climb from the ground to the lower branches and up into the canopy. “And then it can really spread,” Collins adds.

In the next patch of forest we visit, loggers cut down and sold some of the medium-sized trees in 2002. Then they shredded the small trees and underbrush using a big machine called a masticator, and spread the remnants on the forest floor. Now, the trees are widely spaced; sunlight shines through the canopy. The High Sierras are visible in the distance. If a fire were to come through here, Collins says, it likely would stay on the ground, and wouldn’t harm the trees or emit much carbon.

In another plot, crews set prescribed burns in 2002 and 2009. Scorch marks blacken the thick bark of some trees, but they’re still healthy. The forest is open, but more variable than the thinned forest. In one patch of tall ponderosa pines, the fire blazed hotter than in the rest of the forest. Several big trees were killed, leaving the kind of snags that woodpeckers love. This plot would also be likely to do well in a fire, Collins says.

A fourth plot shows some of the pitfalls of combining thinning and burning. Crews cut down some trees, shredded the noncommercial wood and scattered it on the forest floor. Shortly afterwards, they burned the forest. The fire burned so hot from all the wood on the ground that the remaining trees were injured. They haven’t grown or soaked up much carbon since.

Overall, the experiments at Blodgett suggest that prescribed burns and thinning can have long-term carbon benefits. But in the short term, carbon emissions will increase. Neither the burned nor the thinned plot has caught up with the carbon stored in the forest that was left alone. But with less competition, the trees are growing faster in the thinned and burned plots, and Collins predicts that eventually they will store more carbon than the denser stand.

Scientists have seen a similar pattern in another experimental forest in the Sierra Nevada—Teakettle, an old-growth forest with giant sugar pines. As in Blodgett, the forests initially stored less carbon after being burned or thinned. But the forests at Teakettle recovered their carbon stocks more quickly than Blodgett did, in about seven years. “If you restore forests, you do knock down the total amount of carbon, but you prevent very large tree-killing fires. Over time, the carbon stored in the forest is much more stable because you’ve taken steps to prevent big hot fires from occurring,” says Hurteau.

The old-growth trees in Teakettle soaked up carbon faster than Blodgett’s younger trees. But in both types of forests, carbon should accumulate faster in fewer big trees. And the thinned and fire-opened stands make big trees healthier by reducing competition for water and nutrients. That improves their odds in both fire and drought. Big trees are generally more fire resistant, meaning they’re more likely to survive a fire and continue to soak up carbon afterward. “If we want to maintain this ecosystem service of removing carbon from the atmosphere that trees provide, we need to make investments in doing what we can to protect the big trees, because they’re doing a disproportionate amount of the work,” says Hurteau.

A single tree that is 6 feet in diameter, like one of the big sugar pines in Teakettle, holds as much carbon as 60 small trees, 8 to 10 inches in diameter, says Malcolm North, a leading Forest Service fire ecologist and Hurteau’s colleague and former teacher. That’s a much more reliable way to store carbon. “The carbon in the big trees is a secure investment like gold,” North said, whereas the carbon stored in overgrown forests is more like “junk bonds.”

Despite the science, however, forest managers continue to snuff out most fires. For the decade ending 2008, the most recent data collected, only 0.4 percent of ignitions were allowed to burn as managed wildfires, North, Collins and other fire ecologists wrote in 2015 in the journal Science. “Changing climate and decades of fuel accumulation make efforts to suppress every fire dangerous, expensive, and ill-advised,” they wrote.

North was reprimanded for the article and forbidden to talk with the media for a year. But he’s speaking out again, because the dire consequences of overgrown forests are becoming so clear.

North says thinning is not a solution for much of the Sierra Nevada. Only 28 percent of the landscape can be mechanically thinned, he calculated; the rest is too steep or remote. “You cannot think your way out of the problem,” he says. “You’ve got to use fire.”

Official Forest Service policy has acknowledged this. The 2014 interagency National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy calls for expanding the use of prescribed burns and letting more wildfires burn. “It’s just not being followed; that’s the real problem,” North says. “Everyone knows what we’ve got to do. But it’s not being done.”

Sasha Berlemen encountered that stubborn resistance to letting fires burn this summer, when she was on a Forest Service hotshot crew. She fought fires in Plumas, Six Rivers, Modoc and Klamath national forests. Fire managers were aggressive, often sending her crew to the fire’s edge to try to prevent it from spreading. That contradicted what she learned in her fire ecology classes about letting wildfires burn larger areas. “There’s this disconnect that I didn’t know about until summer — between what everyone is saying in academia and what’s actually happening on the ground,” she says.

Some forest managers have begun to accept more fire, however, as have national parks. The 2013 Rim Fire, the biggest fire in Sierra Nevada history, burned at lower intensity in parts of Yosemite and Sequoia national parks than it did in national forests, killing fewer trees and producing less air pollution. The parks had previously allowed wildfires to burn when weather conditions, such as light winds, minimized risks.

The Forest Service has been more reluctant to let natural fires burn, in part because of checkerboard land ownership and because houses have been built in many forests on private property inholdings. “Ecological benefits don’t have a huge voice,” Collin says. “No one will sue for not letting fire burn. If you let a fire burn and something bad happens, someone will sue you.”

Air-quality regulations play a role, too. Both North and Collins tried for weeks to schedule burns this fall. Air quality concerns and a lack of available personnel — the wine country fires were still raging — delayed their burns. Both finally were able to burn at the end of October. “The Forest Service is cursed with lands with houses in middle of them, wildland-urban interface where people don’t want to breathe smoke,” North says. “Almost everything works against trying to work with fire. The only way it’s going to change is to get public support.”

Craig Thomas, conservation director of Sierra Forest Legacy, has been calling for more natural and prescribed fire in the Sierra for two decades. He believes that after the Rim, Rough and King fires, the public and policymakers better understand the threat of unnaturally overgrown forests. “They jarred California society in a big way,” Thomas says. “This disaster is a human creation; climate change is making it even tougher.”

In 2015, the Sierra Forest Legacy, the Forest Service, CAL FIRE, the state fire agency, and other agencies and groups signed an agreement to use more fire in wildlands management and increase training for fire managers and crews. Since then, the Forest Service has increased the total acreage where it has allowed natural fires to burn from an annual average of about 10,000 acres to 247,000 in 2016 and 130,000 this year. “That was a big jump,” says Rob Griffith, assistant director of the Forest Service Pacific Southwest region’s fire and aviation program.

Prescribed burns are up, too, from 20,000 acres on average before the agreement to about double that in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Some 96,000 acres of prescribed burns are scheduled for the next fiscal year, Griffith adds.

California’s commitment to tackling climate change is giving extra oomph to efforts to bring back fire. For instance, funding for the research at Teakettle and Blodgett comes from revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state auctions allowances, which big polluters buy to receive the right to pollute. California doesn’t want the progress it’s making from switching to electric vehicles and renewable energy to be nullified by giant pulses of carbon released by wildfires.

Still, Berleman thinks it will take a revolution to get people to overcome their primal fear of fire. She knows how hard it is. She grew up in Temecula, an inland city between Los Angeles and San Diego, in a valley surrounded by chaparral-covered hills that burned nearly every year. When she was 4, she stood in her yard and caught ash in her hand and watched ash cover her lawn like snow. “I was afraid of fire,” she says. “I remember having night terrors that I’d have to try to save my family from wildfire.”

But her view has changed since then, and she hopes others can change their minds, too. She thinks the October fires will be a catalyst for policymakers and the public to accept that fire is the best protection against megafires and all the carbon they emit. They already have emboldened her to move quickly than she had planned to introduce fire to parts of the North Bay Area that escaped the October fires.

“Now that this has happened, we’ve decided the wake-up call has already happened,” she says. “We need to scale up if we’re going to get though this; it’s going to take all hands and all lands.”

She now plans to apply fire in five counties instead of just two. And instead of burning just grasslands, which produce far less smoke, she’ll burn forests and woodlands as well. If people push back, she knows what she’ll say: “By being afraid, we’re making our problem worse. There’s another option. That fear can actually inform a positive movement; you can take a fear of fire and decide, ‘OK, we don’t want megafires; we’re afraid of them.’ Let’s take action instead. Fire could be our favorite tool on our landscape, and we could have more beautiful and healthy landscapes. And people wouldn’t have to live in as much fear.”

October 31, 2019. Tags: , , , , . Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Environmental hypocrite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flies to Denmark to tell everyone else to reduce their use of fossil fuels

https://nypost.com/2019/10/08/aoc-takes-first-international-trip-as-lawmaker/

AOC takes first international trip as lawmaker

October 8, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking the Green New Deal global.

The New York Democrat posted an Instagram story Tuesday afternoon showing herself walking through the airport as she headed for her first trip abroad as a freshman lawmaker.

She’s off to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the C40 World Mayors Summit.

“After a very busy week in district, I’m headed to Copenhagen for a global C40 conference where mayors and a lot of other public servants are going to be convening to discuss what we’ll be – what actions we need to take for the climate crisis,” she told her followers.

Mayors from Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia, among others, will all be in attendance. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will not attend, The Post confirmed.

October 16, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Greta Thunberg is an environmental hypocrite

Greta Thunberg wants the whole world to think that she cares about the environment because she traveled across the Atlantic ocean by boat instead of by airplane.

However, in the real world, multiple yacht crew members flew on an airplane from Europe to New York in order to bring the yacht back to Europe.

Furthermore, the yacht itself was made from propane and petroleum – the very same things that Thunberg was protesting against.

Of course, this whole environmental movement is far more about virtue signaling than it is about actually protecting the environment, which is why pretty much every single environmental celebrity and environmental politician is, in reality, an environmental hypocrite.

This video, which I wrote the dialogue for, is called “Hitler gets mad at Al Gore’s global warming hypocrisy.” The video’s description includes links to sources to verify each and every claim:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfr37Xn9IL8

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I never trust anyone who doesn’t live by the rules that they expect everyone else to live by.

October 9, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Netherlands Liberal MP Tjeerd de Groot calls for livestock production to be reduced by half

Last year, I published this blog post, which is called, “Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 43 pounds in two years.”

Here’s a photograph from 2014 of people in Venezuela waiting in line for food: (posted here under fair use from http://www.businessinsider.com/long-food-lines-are-in-venezuela-2014-2 )

It looks like the Netherlands might be trying to achieve a similar effect.

The BBC just reported:

Liberal MP Tjeerd de Groot called for livestock production to be halved, meaning six million fewer pigs and 50 million fewer chickens

Meanwhile, I’d like to once again remind everyone that Bernie Sanders actually said that it was a “good thing” when people have to wait in line for food.

These are Sanders’s exact words:

“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, cause people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

You can see and hear Sanders saying those words in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBjjP8WSbc

Depending on how things go next year, Bernie Sanders may be the next U.S. President.

October 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Bernie Sanders, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Greta Thunberg without a script to read from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bwLt_5t73g

September 27, 2019. Tags: , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Scott Adams: A Message for Children About Climate Change

https://www.scottadamssays.com/2019/09/23/a-message-for-children-about-climate-change/

A Message for Children About Climate Change

By Scott Adams

September 23, 2019

Dear Children,

I’m sorry adults have frightened you about climate change and how it might affect your future. You might be less afraid if you knew some facts that adults intentionally do not explain to you. I’ll tell you here.

The news was once a source of real information, or so we thought. But in the modern world, the news people discovered they can make more money by presenting scary news regardless of whether it is true or not. Today, much of the news on the right and the left is opinion that is meant to scare you, not inform you, because scary things get more attention, and that makes the news business more profitable. The same is true for people who write books; authors often make books scary so you will buy them. Most adults know all the scariness is not real. Most kids do not. You just learned it.

Nuclear energy used to be dangerous, back in the olden days. Today’s nuclear power plants (the ones built in the past 20 years all over the world) have killed zero people, and are considered the safest form of energy in the world. More people have died installing solar panels and falling off roofs than have died from nuclear power problems anywhere in the world for the past few decades. And nuclear energy is the obvious way to address climate change, say most of the smartest adults in the world, because it can provide abundant, cheap, clean energy with zero carbon emissions.

Nuclear energy as a solution to climate change is one of the rare solutions backed by several Democrats running for president and nearly all Republicans. Please note that two Democrats in favor of nuclear energy (Corey Booker and Andrew Yang) are among the youngest and smartest in the game. To be fair, the oldest Democrat running for president, Joe Biden, also supports nuclear energy because he is well-informed.

If you are worried about nuclear waste, you probably should not be. Every country with nuclear energy (and there are lots of them) successfully stores their nuclear waste. If you put all the nuclear waste in the world in one place, it would fit on one football field. It isn’t a big problem. And new nuclear power designs will actually eat that nuclear waste and turn it into electricity, so the total amount of waste could come way down.

The United Nations estimates that the economic impact of climate change will reduce the economy by 10% in eighty years. What they don’t tell you is that the economy will be about five times bigger and better by then, so you won’t even notice the 10% that didn’t happen. And that worst case is only if we do nothing to address climate change, which is not the case.

A number of companies have recently built machines that can suck CO2 right out of the air. At the moment, using those machines would be too expensive. But as they come down in cost and improve in efficiency, we have a solution already in hand should it ever be needed. It would be expensive, but there is no real risk of CO2 ruining the world now that we know how to remove any excess from the atmosphere. (Plants need CO2 to thrive, so we don’t want to remove too much. Greenhouses actually pump in CO2 to make plants grow better.)

Scientists tell us that we could reduce climate risks by planting more trees. (A lot more.) That’s all doable, should the world decide it is necessary. There are a number of other companies and technologies that also address climate change in a variety of ways. Any one of the approaches I mentioned (nuclear energy, CO2 scrubbers, planting trees) could be enough to address any climate risks, but there are dozens of ways of dealing with climate change, and more coming every day.

Throughout all modern history, when we humans see a problem coming from far away, we have a 100% success rate in solving it. Climate change is no different. All the right people are working hard at a wide variety of solutions and already know how to get there, meaning more nuclear power plus CO2 scrubbers, plus lots of green power from solar, wind, and more.

If you are worried about rising sea levels, don’t be. The smartest and richest people in the world are still buying property on the beach. They don’t see the problem. And if sea levels do rise, it will happen slowly enough for people to adjust.

Adults sometimes like to use children to carry their messages because it makes it hard for the other side to criticize them without seeming like monsters. If adults have encouraged you to panic about climate change without telling you what I am telling you here, they do not have your best interests at heart. They are using you.

When you ask adults about nuclear energy, expect them to have old understanding about it, meaning they don’t know the newer nuclear energy technologies are the safest energy on the planet.

What I told you today is not always understood even by adults. You are now smarter than most adults on the topic of climate.

My generation has a lot of faith in your generation. You will be the most educated and effective humans of all time. My generation (and a few generations younger than me) already has the fixes to address climate risks coming online. Your generation will finish the job.

We adults respect your passion and your energy on the topic of climate. But it isn’t fair for us to deny you the basic facts while at the same time scaring you into action. I hope this letter helps you sleep better. We adults have this problem under control, or will soon, and you’ll help us finish the job. So get some good sleep tonight. Together, we got this.

Scott Adams

September 26, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

TED Talk: Michael Shellenberger explains why he switched from being anti-nuclear power to pro-nuclear power

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak

September 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti: “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all… we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing”

Saikat Chakrabarti is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff.

On July 10, 2019, the Washington Post published the following: (the bolding is mine)

Chakrabarti had an unexpected disclosure. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.” Ricketts greeted this startling notion with an attentive poker face. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti continued. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.

It’s been said before by libertarians and conservatives that the environmental doomsayer movement is like a watermelon – green on the outside and red on the inside. Chakrabarti’s statement verifies this claim.

In the 1970s, environmental doomsayers referred to their alleged upcoming environmental apocalypse as “overpopulation.” In the 1990s, they called it “global warming.” And now in the 2010s, they are calling it “climate change.” In all three of these cases, the environmental doomsayers have claimed that the only way to prevent these alleged environmental disasters from happening is to have the government take control over properly, resources, energy, the economy, jobs, and the means of production.

Chakrabarti’s statement proves what many of us libertarians and conservatives have known all along: for many of its participants, the environmental doomsayer movement is just an excuse to massively increase the size and power of government control over everyone and everything.

July 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Communism, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Video evidence shows that recycling hurts the environment, and landfills help the environment

Below are two videos.

The first video shows that much of the recycled garbage from rich countries (the U.K. in this case) gets sent to poor countries, where it just sits there on the ground without any covering or protection, getting blown around, and often ending up in rivers and ultimately the ocean.

The second video shows a landfill in a rich country (New York in this case). The landfill is well sealed and covered, and is now a park with grass, trees, plants, and animals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRQLilXLAIU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zcMfDbxmgU

Recycling is a scam. It makes people feel good, but it actually hurts the environment instead of helping it. The environment would be a lot better off if we stopped recycling, and put our garbage into landfills. The proof is in the videos.

July 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

I just found out that recycling hurts the environment even more than I had thought

Ever since I read this 1996 New York Times article called “Recycling Is Garbage,” I’ve known that government recycling of plastic, paper, and glass wastes more resources than it saves, and that the environment would actually be better off if we put these things into landfills instead of recycling them.

Over the next 1,000 years, all of the garbage in the entire United States could fit into one landfill that was 100 yards deep, on a piece of square land which was just 35 miles on each side. Today’s modern landfills are well sealed, and when they are full, they get turned into parks. I live in Pennsylvania, which is the United State’s #1 garbage importing state. We keep approving new landfills, because we love the jobs and tax revenue that it gives us.

Well now we have this brand new article from the Guardian, which shows that our recycling hurts the environment even more than I had thought. It says that a lot of the plastic that we put into recycling bins gets sent to poor countries in Asia. Much of this plastic cannot actually be recycled, either because it’s contaminated with food debris, or it’s the wrong kind of plastic. These poor Asian countries mismanage much of their garbage, and much of this plastic ends up in the ocean. This other article, from the New York Post, says that 90% of the plastic in the ocean comes from 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia, and two of which are in Africa. So much of the plastic that we recycle actually ends up in the ocean.

If the goal is to virtue signal, then by all means, we should continue to recycle our garbage. But if the goal is to protect the environment, we should put it into landfills.

June 17, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. 1 comment.

California lawmakers want to ban those little shampoo bottles you get in hotels

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/14/us/california-hotel-plastic-bottles/index.html

California lawmakers want to ban those little shampoo bottles you get in hotels

April 14, 2019

Those little shampoo bottles offered in hotel bathrooms, used once or twice and then usually tossed in the trash, could soon be a thing of the past in California.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban hotels from providing guests with small plastic bottles for soap, shampoo and conditioner. The proposed law, which would go into effect in 2023, would instead encourage hotels to provide the products in bulk dispensers to reduce plastic waste.
Assembly Member Ash Kalra of San Jose co-authored the bill, known as AB 1162, which would apply to all lodging establishments. Kalra said that small plastic bottles under 12 ounces represent a sizable amount of waste and that his bill would reduce the problem.

“By not offering small bottles of personal care products, hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments can promote a more sustainable business and potentially reduce operating costs,” he said as part of an analysis on the bill. “AB 1162 will take meaningful action to curb single-use plastic consumption in the lodging industry and increase consumer awareness.”

The bill was introduced in February and is working its way through committees. Santa Cruz County passed a similar law that banned small toiletry bottles in hotels last year, CNN affiliate KSBW reported.

The legislation comes amid a growing push to phase out single-use plastics like straws and bags. Critics say these items take decades or more to decompose and end up polluting landfills and bodies of water.

California has been at the forefront of bans on single-use plastics and became the first state to ban plastic bags in 2014. New York state also moved to do the same last month.

Even before this legislation, hotels have begun to make the shift toward bulk dispensers, which they say are less wasteful and cheaper.

Marriott International announced last April that it would replace the individual soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles with bulk dispensers in its showers. The program is expected to save an average of 250 pounds of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel — about 23,000 plastic bottles, Marriott told Lodging Magazine.

“This is a win-win from a sustainability perspective, operational perspective, and financial perspective,” Denise Naguib, vice president of sustainability for Marriott, told the magazine.

April 28, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “We are going to ban the classic glass and steel skyscrapers”

https://nypost.com/2019/04/22/de-blasios-green-new-deal-will-ban-classic-glass-and-steel-skyscrapers/

De Blasio’s Green New Deal will ban ‘classic glass and steel skyscrapers’

April 22, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s so-called Green New Deal will ban “classic glass and steel skyscrapers,” he said Monday.

“We are going to ban the classic glass and steel skyscrapers which are incredibly inefficient,” Hizzoner said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“If someone wants to build one of those things, they can take a whole lot of steps to make it energy efficient, but we’re not going to allow what we’ve seen in the past.”

De Blasio’s new scheme to slash carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 includes a ban on new buildings with all-glass facades “unless they meet strict performance guidelines,” City Hall said in a release Monday.

April 28, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Little girl does awesome impersonation of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

https://twitter.com/THeinrich22/status/1119422809183330304

April 20, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) talks about the Green New Deal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK27NZon11w

March 29, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Idiots who support bans on fracking and restrictions on new pipelines say it’s “unexpected” that New York has a shortage of natural gas

One of the most simple and basic signs of intelligence is the understanding that actions lead to consequences.

In New York, some people are showing a basic lack of understanding of this concept.

In New York state, fracking is banned, and new pipelines have been prohibited in certain locations. The natural and logical outcome of these policies is that the state has a shortage of natural gas. Developers who had been planning to build new housing will not be allowed to hook up the new housing to receive natural gas.

Despite this obvious action-reaction event, the New York Times just reported that this inability to hook up these proposed new homes for natural gas is “unexpected.”

Here are the exact words as reported by the New York Times: (the bolding is mine)

YONKERS – Across the suburbs north of New York City, clusters of luxury towers are rising around commuter rail stations, designed to lure young workers seeking easy access to Manhattan. In all, 16,000 apartments and condominiums are in the works in more than a dozen towns, along with spaces for restaurants and shops.

But the boom unfolding in Westchester County is under threat — not from any not-in-my-backyard opposition or a slumping real estate market.

Instead, it is coming from something unexpected: a lack of natural gas.

Con Edison, the region’s main utility, says its existing network of pipelines cannot satisfy an increasing demand for the fuel.

As a result, the utility has taken the extreme step of imposing a moratorium on new gas hookups in a large swath of Westchester, including for residential buildings planned in Yonkers, White Plains and New Rochelle.

But is this shortage really “unexpected”?

Not for anyone who understands that actions have consequences.

The same article states:

There is an ample supply of natural gas in the United States, but opposition to building or expanding interstate pipelines has caused delivery challenges in the Northeast, according to industry officials.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lives in Mount Kisco, a town included in Con Edison’s moratorium, and wants the state to move away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy, like wind. He has banned fracking, a process to extract gas from shale rock, and two years ago his administration rejected a major interstate pipeline project, saying its construction would endanger wetlands.

A person would have to be a complete idiot to support these bans and restrictions, while simultaneously being surprised that there’s a shortage of natural gas.

All of this reminds me of this scene from the movie Casablanca:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to end the use of fossil fuels over the next 10 years. I’d be curious to hear whether she supports or opposes letting the developers of this proposed new housing in New York hook up the housing to receive natural gas.

March 21, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

TEDx Talk: Michael Shellenberger explains why nuclear power is cleaner, safer, cheaper, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly than solar power and wind power

This 18 minute TEDx Talk by Michael Shellenberger is one of the best pro-nuclear power, anti-solar power, anti-wind power arguments that I have ever heard.

He cites a huge number of statistics to show that compared to solar power and wind power, nuclear power is far better for the environment, far cleaner, far better for animals, far safer for humans, far more reliable, far cheaper, and has a far smaller environmental footprint.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALPEpV4w

March 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. 2 comments.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she doesn’t recycle her plastic bags because her city’s recycling program is too “tough” for her to understand

On February 24, 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a live video on her Instagram account where she was talking about different political issues while peeling and cutting sweet potatoes.

A guy named Gob Abierto posted several different excerpts from that video in a string of tweets at this link, which has since been deleted. I watched a bunch of those excerpts before the tweet string was deleted. The internet archive has a copy of the same tweet string at this link, but it doesn’t include the videos.

One thing that I remember from watching the excerpts is that Ocasio-Cortez tosses her plastic grocery bags and her sweet potato peelings into the same garbage can, which means that she didn’t recycle the plastic bags, and she didn’t compost the sweet potato peelings.

She also complained that they give her 10 plastic bags every time she goes to the grocery store.

She also said of plastic bags:

“I wish they didn’t exist.”

But no one forced Ocasio-Cortez to accept those plastic bags at the grocery store.

Millions of other Americas use reusable grocery bags that are made of materials other than plastic.

I’d be curios to hear Ocasio-Cortez explain why – if she hates plastic bags so much that she “wishes they didn’t exist” – she brings home 10 additional plastic bags every time she goes to the grocery store, instead of using the reusable, non-plastic bags that millions of other Americans use.

Here is a different video where Ocasio-Cortez says a similar thing. She states: (skip to 0:20)

“I can be upset that I get 10 plastic bags at the grocery store, and then have to toss out my plastic bags because the recycling program in the area is tough.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1EybnxYzKk

I think it’s incredibly hilarious and extremely hypocritical that someone who wants to hugely inconvenience everyone else by having the government embark on endeavors as gargantuan as banning fossil fuels, banning nuclear power, getting rid or airplanes, stopping cows from farting, and retrofitting every building in the country, is herself too lazy to do something as small and easy as buying reusable non-plastic bags, or to recycle the plastic bags that she does use.

For the record, I myself happen to believe that government mandated recycling of post-consumer garbage actually wastes more resources than it saves. My evidence for this belief is this New York Times article, which is called “Recycling Is Garbage.” It’s a great article, and I recommend that everyone read it.

March 9, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. 2 comments.

Kat Timpf recently gave a great explanation of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Here’s the video and a transcript.

In this recent video, Kat Timpf gives a great explanation of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-hUGN_keWM

Here’s a transcript of what she said:

I just think AOC has completely lost her marbles.

I think she’s living in Bananaland.

Earlier this week, she called herself “the boss” for coming up with the Green New Deal.

How are you “the boss” for coming up with a plan that doesn’t work?

Are you sure that the Green New Deal is not like what you’re putting in your pipe and smoking every day?

I don’t understand.

I can come up with plenty of plans that don’t work.

How about we fly around on unicorns instead of airplanes?

How about instead of gasoline we use fairy dust we get from Tinker Bell?

How about we get Harry Potter to come over and wizard away all the emissions from the cow farts she’s so concerned about?

See, I just came up with three plans that don’t work.

Does that make me “the triple boss”?

Does she want us to just completely do away with all modern technology?

I don’t want to live like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I don’t want to do my laundry in a basin.

I don’t want to only eat lettuce and carrots like some kind of [censored] bunny.

I don’t want to relive the Donner Party in the modern day because I had to take a horse and buggy to see my grandparents instead of a plane.

I don’t want to eat people, and I don’t want people to eat me.

AOC, do you want people to eat you?

No?

Then stop proposing [censored].

March 7, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

The Atlantic: Is This the End of Recycling?

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/03/china-has-stopped-accepting-our-trash/584131/

Is This the End of Recycling?

Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.

March 5, 2019

After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately.

But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash.

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China – tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.

Most are choosing the latter. “We are doing our best to be environmentally responsible, but we can’t afford it,” said Judie Milner, the city manager of Franklin, New Hampshire. Since 2010, Franklin has offered curbside recycling and encouraged residents to put paper, metal, and plastic in their green bins. When the program launched, Franklin could break even on recycling by selling it for $6 a ton. Now, Milner told me, the transfer station is charging the town $125 a ton to recycle, or $68 a ton to incinerate. One-fifth of Franklin’s residents live below the poverty line, and the city government didn’t want to ask them to pay more to recycle, so all those carefully sorted bottles and cans are being burned. Milner hates knowing that Franklin is releasing toxins into the environment, but there’s not much she can do. “Plastic is just not one of the things we have a market for,” she said.

The same thing is happening across the country. Broadway, Virginia, had a recycling program for 22 years, but recently suspended it after Waste Management told the town that prices would increase by 63 percent, and then stopped offering recycling pickup as a service. “It almost feels illegal, to throw plastic bottles away,” the town manager, Kyle O’Brien, told me.

Without a market for mixed paper, bales of the stuff started to pile up in Blaine County, Idaho; the county eventually stopped collecting it and took the 35 bales it had hoped to recycle to a landfill. The town of Fort Edward, New York, suspended its recycling program in July and admitted it had actually been taking recycling to an incinerator for months. Determined to hold out until the market turns around, the nonprofit Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful has collected 400,000 tons of plastic. But for now, it is piling the bales behind the facility where it collects plastic.

This end of recycling comes at a time when the United States is creating more waste than ever. In 2015, the most recent year for which national data are available, America generated 262.4 million tons of waste, up 4.5 percent from 2010 and 60 percent from 1985. That amounts to nearly five pounds per person a day. New York City collected 934 tons of metal, plastic, and glass a day from residents last year, a 33 percent increase from 2013.

For a long time, Americans have had little incentive to consume less. It’s inexpensive to buy products, and it’s even cheaper to throw them away at the end of their short lives. But the costs of all this garbage are growing, especially now that bottles and papers that were once recycled are now ending up in the trash.

One of those costs is environmental: When organic waste sits in a landfill, it decomposes, emitting methane, which is bad for the climate—landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the country. Burning plastic may create some energy, but it also produces carbon emissions. And while many incineration facilities bill themselves as “waste to energy” plants, studies have found that they release more harmful chemicals, such as mercury and lead, into the air per unit of energy than do coal plants.

And as cities are now learning, the other cost is financial. The United States still has a fair amount of landfill space left, but it’s getting expensive to ship waste hundreds of miles to those landfills. Some dumps are raising costs to deal with all this extra waste; according to one estimate, along the West Coast, landfill fees increased by $8 a ton from 2017 to 2018. Some of these costs are already being passed on to consumers, but most haven’t—yet.

Americans are going to have to come to terms with a new reality: All those toothpaste tubes and shopping bags and water bottles that didn’t exist 50 years ago need to go somewhere, and creating this much waste has a price we haven’t had to pay so far. “We’ve had an ostrich-in-the-sand approach to the entire system,” said Jeremy O’Brien, director of applied research at the Solid Waste Association of North America, a trade association. “We’re producing a lot of waste ourselves, and we should take care of it ourselves.”

As the trash piles up, American cities are scrambling to figure out what to do with everything they had previously sent to China. But few businesses want it domestically, for one very big reason: Despite all those advertising campaigns, Americans are terrible at recycling.

About 25 percent of what ends up in the blue bins is contaminated, according to the National Waste & Recycling Association. For decades, we’ve been throwing just about whatever we wanted—wire hangers and pizza boxes and ketchup bottles and yogurt containers—into the bin and sending it to China, where low-paid workers sorted through it and cleaned it up. That’s no longer an option. And in the United States, at least, it rarely makes sense to employ people to sort through our recycling so that it can be made into new material, because virgin plastics and paper are still cheaper in comparison.

Even in San Francisco, often lauded for its environmentalism, waste-management companies struggle to keep recycling uncontaminated. I visited a state-of-the-art facility operated by San Francisco’s recycling provider, Recology, where million-dollar machines separate aluminum from paper from plastic from garbage. But as the Recology spokesman Robert Reed walked me through the plant, he kept pointing out nonrecyclables gumming up the works. Workers wearing masks and helmets grabbed laundry baskets off a fast-moving conveyor belt of cardboard as some non-cardboard items escaped their gloved hands. Recology has to stop another machine twice a day so a technician can pry plastic bags from where they’ve clogged up the gear.

Cleaning up recycling means employing people to slowly go through materials, which is expensive. Jacob Greenberg, a commissioner in Blaine County, Idaho, told me that the county’s mixed-paper recycling was about 90 percent clean. But its paper broker said the mixed paper needed to be 99 percent clean for anyone to buy it, and elected officials didn’t want to hike fees to get there. “At what point do you feel like you’re spending more money than what it takes for people to feel good about recycling?” he said.

Then there’s the challenge of educating people about what can and can’t be recycled, even as the number of items they touch on a daily basis grows. Americans tend to be “aspirational” about their recycling, tossing an item in the blue bin because it makes them feel less guilty about consuming it and throwing it away. Even in San Francisco, Reed kept pointing out items that aren’t easily recyclable but that keep showing up at the Recology plant: soy-sauce packets and pizza boxes, candy-bar wrappers and dry-cleaner bags, the lids of to-go coffee cups and plastic take-out containers.

If we can somehow figure out how to better sort recycling, some U.S. markets for plastics and paper may emerge. But selling it domestically will still be harder than it would be in a place such as China, where a booming manufacturing sector has constant demand for materials. The viability of recycling varies tremendously by locale; San Francisco can recycle its glass back into bottles in six weeks, according to Recology, while many other cities are finding that glass is so heavy and breaks so easily that it is nearly impossible to truck it to a place that will recycle it. Akron, Ohio, is just one of many cities that have ended glass recycling since the China policy changes.

For now, it’s still often cheaper for companies to manufacture using new materials than recycled ones. Michael Rohwer, a director at Business for Social Responsibility, works with companies that try to be more environmentally friendly. He told me that recycled plastic costs pennies more than new plastic, and those pennies add up when you’re manufacturing millions of items. Items made of different types of plastic nearly always end up in the trash, because recyclers can’t separate the plastics from one another—Reed equates it with trying to get the sugar and eggs out of a cake after you’ve baked it. But because companies don’t bear the costs of disposal, they have no incentive to manufacture products out of material that will be easier to recycle.

The best way to fix recycling is probably persuading people to buy less stuff, which would also have the benefit of reducing some of the upstream waste created when products are made. But that’s a hard sell in the United States, where consumer spending accounts for 68 percent of the GDP. The strong economy means more people have more spending money, too, and often the things they buy, such as new phones, and the places they shop, such as Amazon, are designed to sell them even more things. The average American spent 7 percent more on food and 8 percent more on personal-care products and services in 2017 than in 2016, according to government data.

Some places are still trying to get people to buy less. The city of San Francisco, for instance, is trying to get residents to think of a fourth r beyond “reduce, reuse, and recycle”—“refuse.” It wants people to be smarter about what they purchase, avoiding plastic bottles and straws and other disposable goods. But it’s been tough in a place centered on acquiring the newest technology. “This is our big challenge: How do you take a culture like San Francisco and get people excited about less?” Debbie Raphael, the director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, told me. The city passed an ordinance that required that 10 percent of beverages sold be available in reusable containers, and it is trying to make reuse “hip” through an online campaign and dedicated website, Raphael said. San Francisco and other Bay Area cities have banned plastic bags and plastic straws, but that option isn’t available in many other parts of the country, where recently passed state laws prevent cities from banning products.

But even in San Francisco, the most careful consumers still generate a lot of waste. Plastic clamshell containers are difficult to recycle because the material they’re made of is so flimsy—but it’s hard to find berries not sold in those containers, even at most farmers’ markets. Go into a Best Buy or Target in San Francisco to buy headphones or a charger, and you’ll still end up with plastic packaging to throw away. Amazon has tried to reduce waste by sending products in white and blue plastic envelopes, but when I visited the Recology plant, they littered the floor because they’re very hard to recycle. Even at Recology, an employee-owned company that benefits when people recycle well, the hurdles to getting rid of plastics were evident. Reed chided me for eating my daily Chobani yogurt out of small, five-ounce containers rather than out of big, 32-ounce tubs, but I saw a five-ounce Yoplait container in a trash can of the control room of the Recology plant. While there, Reed handed me a pair of small orange earplugs meant to protect my ears from the noise of the plant. They were wrapped in a type of flimsy plastic that is nearly impossible to recycle. When I left the plant, I kept the earplugs and the plastic in my bag, not sure what to do with them. Eventually, I threw them in the trash.

March 6, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Trash marked for recycling is going to landfills instead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GKr1Z6pDBU

March 6, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

Where did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get her sweet potatoes?

http://tennesseestar.com/2019/02/27/commentary-where-did-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-get-her-sweet-potatoes/

Where did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get her sweet potatoes?

by Jeffrey A. Tucker

February 27, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SUDG7FIFK8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-haN_2oztvw

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was trying to explain to me that the world is going to melt, we are all doing to die, and probably we shouldn’t be having any more children, but I was distracted by the dinner she was preparing on camera. She was carefully cutting sweet potatoes before putting them in the oven.

She put salt and pepper on them. Salt was once so rare that it was regarded as money. Ever try to go a day with zero salt? Nothing tastes right. That was the history of humanity for about 150,000 years. Then we figured out how to produce and distribute salt to every table in the world. Now we throw around salt like it is nothing, and even complain that everything is too salty. Nice problem.

Sweet potatoes are not easy to cut, so she was using a large steel knife, made of a substance that only became commercially viable in the late 19th century. It took generations of metallurgists to figure out how to make steel reliably and affordably. Before steel, there were bodies of water you could not cross without a boat because no one knew how to make an iron bridge that wouldn’t sink.

As for the oven in her apartment, it was either gas-powered or electric. In either case, she didn’t have to chop down trees and build a fire, like 99.99 percent of humanity had to until relatively recently. She merely pushed a button and it came on, a luxury experienced by most American households only after World War II. Now we all think it is normal.

I also presume that her house is warm in the dead of winter and that this is due to indoor thermostatically controlled heat. There are still people alive today who regard this invention as the greatest in the whole course of their lives. They no longer had to work two days to heat a house for one day. Again, one only needs to push a button and, like magic, the warmth comes to you.

The more interesting question is where she obtained those sweet potatoes. The store, I know. No one grows sweet potatoes in Washington, D.C. But where did the store get them? For many thousands of years, the sweet potato was trapped in distant places in South America; it somehow made its way on boat travels to the Polynesian islands, and finally landed in Japan by the late 15th century.

Only once boating technology and capital expenditure for exploration grew to reveal the first signs of prosperity for the masses of people did the sweet potato make it to Europe via an expedition led by Christopher Columbus. Finally, it came to the U.S.

But this took many thousands of years of development — capitalistic development — unless you want to see this root vegetable as the ultimate fruit of colonialism and thus to be eschewed by any truly enlightened social justice warrior.

Even early in the 20th century, sweet potatoes were not reliably available for anyone to chop up and bake, especially not in the dead of winter. Today Americans eat sweet potatoes grown mostly in the American South but also imported from China, which today serves 67 percent of the global sweet potato market.

How do we obtain them? They are flown on planes, shipped on gas-powered ocean liners, and brought to the store via shipping trucks that also run on fossil fuels. If you are playing with the idea of abolishing all those things by legislative fiat, as she certainly is, it is not likely that you are going to obtain a sweet potato on the fly.

I admit the following. It drives me crazy to see people so fully enjoying the benefits from private property, trade, technology, and capitalistic endeavor even as they blithely propose to truncate dramatically the very rights that bring them such material joy, without a thought as to how their ideology might dramatically affect the future of mass availability of wealth that these ideologues so casually take for granted.

To me, it’s like watching a person on IV denounce modern medicine — or a person using a smartphone to broadcast to the world an urgent message calling for an end to economic development. It doesn’t refute their point, but the performative contradiction is too acute not to note, at least in passing.

Now to this question about whether there should or should not be a new generation of human beings. After all, she points out, no one can afford them anymore because young people are starting careers tens of thousands of dollars in debt from student loans. She says there is also the moral issue that we need to take care of the kids who are already here rather than having more.

Truth is, she doesn’t really explain well why she is toying with the idea that it is a bad idea that people have kids. Let me suggest that it is possible that she is drifting toward the path of countless environmentalists before her and finally saying outright what many people believe in their hearts: humankind is the enemy. Either we live and nature dies, or nature lives and we die. There must be some dramatic upheaval in the way we structure society to find a new way. It’s the application of the Marxian conflict fable to another area of life.

Maybe.

In any case, those are big thoughts — too big, really, for a delightful cooking session after which a fancy meal beckons. We’ll get back to what AOC calls the “universal sense of urgency” following dessert.

March 4, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Economics, Environmentalism, Food. Leave a comment.

Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would cause people in cities to starve to death

Patrick Moore is a co-founder of Greenpeace.

He just made this tweet regarding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal: (original, archive)

The text states:

Pompous little twit. You don’t have a plan to grow food for 8 billion people without fossil fuels, or get the food into the cities. Horses? If fossil fuels were banned every tree in the world would be cut down for fuel for cooking and heating. You would bring about mass death.

I think Moore’s comment would have been more effective without those first three words.

I do agree with everything else that he said.

March 4, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. 3 comments.

AOC Green New Deal indoctrinates kids – but these doomsday scares are nothing new

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZuBWeaQmlk

February 27, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

I’ll take the Green New Deal seriously as soon as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes a tweet in favor of prosecuting Barack Obama for his illegal actions in the Solyndra scandal

I’ll take the Green New Deal seriously as soon as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes a tweet in favor of prosecuting Barack Obama for his illegal actions in the Solyndra scandal.

First, here’s some background information.

In 2009 the Obama administration gave $535 million to Solyndra, claiming that it would create 4,000 new jobs. However, instead of creating those 4,000 new jobs, the company went bankrupt. It was later revealed that the company’s shareholders and executives had made substantial donations to Obama’s campaign, that the company had spent a large sum of money on lobbying, and that Solyndra executives had had many meetings with White House officials.

It was also revealed that the Obama administration had already been aware of Solyndra’s financial troubles. For example, according to the company’s security filings in 2009, the company had been selling its product for less than the cost of production. In 2010, Obama visited the Solyndra factory and cited it as a role model for his “stimulus” program, saying “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” The Washington Post wrote of this, “Administration officials and outside advisers warned that President Obama should consider dropping plans to visit a solar startup company in 2010 because its mounting financial problems might ultimately embarrass the White House.”

Solyndra was a private company, but had been planning to use its government loans as a means of going public. So when Obama knowingly overstated the company’s condition in order to help his friends at Solyndra, he broke the same law that Martha Stewart had been sent to prison for breaking.

In September 2011, federal agents visited the homes of Brian Harrison, the company’s CEO, and Chris Gronet, the company’s founder, to examine computer files and documents.  Also in September 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department launched an investigation.

On September 13, 2011, the Washington Post reported on emails which showed that the Obama administration had tried to rush federal reviewers to approve the loan so Vice President Joe Biden could announce it at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory. The company was a hallmark of President Obama’s plan to support clean energy technologies.

The New York Times reported that government auditors and industry analysts had faulted the Obama administration for failing to properly evaluate the company’s business proposals, as well as for failing to take note of troubling signs which were already evident. In addition, Frank Rusco, a program director at the Government Accountability Office, had found that the preliminary loan approval had been granted before officials had completed the legally mandated evaluations of the company.

The New York Times quoted Shyam Mehta, a senior analyst at GTM Research, as saying “There was just too much misplaced zeal at the Department of Energy for this company.” Among 143 companies that had expressed an interest in getting a loan guarantee, Solyndra was the first one to get approval. During the period when Solyndra’s loan guarantee was under review, the company had spent nearly $1.8 million on lobbying. Tim Harris, the CEO of Solopower, a different solar panel company which had obtained a $197 million loan guarantee, told the New York Times that his company had never considered spending any money on lobbying, and that “It was made clear to us early in the process that that was clearly verboten… We were told that it was not only not helpful but it was not acceptable.”

The Washington Post reported that Solyndra had used some of the loan money to purchase new equipment which it never used, and then sold that new equipment, still in its plastic wrap, for pennies on the dollar. Former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn told the Washington Post, “After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right… Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.”

On September 29, 2011, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration had continued to allow Solyndra to receive taxpayer money even after it had defaulted on its $535 million loan.

On October 7, 2011, The Washington Post reported that newly revealed emails showed that Energy Department officials had been warned that their plan to help Solyndra by restructuring the loan might be illegal, and should be cleared with the Justice Department first. However, Energy Department officials moved ahead with the restructuring anyway, with a new deal that would repay company investors before taxpayers if the company were to default. The emails showed concerns within the Obama administration about the legality of the Energy Department’s actions. In addition, an Energy Department “stimulus” adviser, Steve Spinner, had pushed for the loan, despite having recused himself because his wife’s law firm had done work for the company.

In January 2012, CBS News reported that Solyndra had thrown millions of dollars worth of brand new glass tubes into garbage dumpsters, where they ended up being shattered. Solyndra told CBS that it had conducted an exhaustive search for buyers of the glass tubes, and that no one had wanted them. However, CBS discovered that Solyndra had not offered the glass tubes for sale at either one of its two asset auctions that took place in 2011. In addition, David Lucky, a buyer and seller of such equipment, told CBS that he would have bought the tubes if he had had a chance to do so. Greg Smestad, a solar scientist who had consulted for the Department of Energy, also agreed that the tubes had value, and had asked Solyndra to donate any unwanted tubes to Santa Clara University. Smestad stated, “That really makes me sad… Those tubes represent intellectual investment. These could have had a better value to do public good. I think they owed the U.S. taxpayer that.”

Solyndra was not the only “green energy” company involved in this type of fraud.

After Obama gave Raser Technologies $33 million to build a power plant, the company declared bankruptcy, and owed $1.5 million in back taxes.

After Obama gave Abound Solar, Inc. a $400 million loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories, the company halted production and laid off 180 employees.

After Obama gave Beacon Power a $43 million loan guarantee to build green energy storage, the company filed for bankruptcy.

After Obama approved $2.1 billion in loan guarantees for Solar Trust of America so it could build solar power plants, the company filed for bankruptcy.

In April 2012, CBS News reported that Solyndra had left a substantial amount of toxic waste at its abandoned facility in Milpitas, California. In May 2014, it was reported that the building in Longmont, Colorado that had been abandoned by Abound Solar in 2012 was still contaminated with cadmium, a toxic metal which can cause cancer.

Although Obama stated that all of the “green energy” companies that received taxpayer money were chosen “based solely on their merits,” the truth is that 71% of these grants and loans went to Obama donors and fundraisers, who raised $457,834 for his campaign, and were later approved for grants and loans totaling more than $11 billion. By November 2011, the Energy Department’s inspector general had begun more than 100 criminal investigations related to Obama’s “stimulus.” Although an “independent” review said that Obama had not done anything wrong, it was later reported that Herbert M. Allison Jr., the person who had conducted this “independent” review, donated $52,500 to Obama’s campaign.

So that’s the background information.

And the political party that gave the taxpayers’ money to these corrupt private companies has shown zero concern for the taxpayers whose money they wasted.

So when I hear about Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, I think of Solyndra, and multiply it by a really big number.

The politicians who supported Solyndra never showed any concern for the taxpayers whose money they wasted.

And now that same political party is making the same kinds of promises for its Green New Deal, except the number of proposed jobs is magnitudes larger.

Given that these politicians don’t show any concern over the failure of Solyndra and those other companies to create the green jobs that they had promised, I certainly don’t trust them regarding their promises for the Green New Deal.

Therefore, here is my promise regarding the Green New Deal: I’ll take the Green New Deal seriously as soon as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes a tweet in favor of prosecuting Barack Obama for his illegal actions in the Solyndra scandal.

February 22, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Barack Obama, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

My newest book is called “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants to Stop Cows from Farting”

My newest book is called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants to Stop Cows from Farting.

That title is not a joke. Ocasio-Cortez really does want to stop cows from farting. She said so on her official Congressional website, as well as in a document which she gave to NPR.

This book is not a joke book. Instead, it presents a serious discussion of Ocasio-Cortez’s policy proposals.

In July 2018, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said that Ocasio-Cortez “represents the future of our party.”

This book shows you that future by quoting Ocasio-Cortez in her own words.

The book’s author also presents his own opinions about Ocasio-Cortez’s policy proposals.

Here are the chapter titles to give you an idea of what’s in the book:

Chapter 1: U.S. Population

Chapter 2: Unemployment rate

Chapter 3: Upper middle class

Chapter 4: Cow farts and airplanes

Chapter 5: Unwilling to work

Chapter 6: Private ownership and profits

Chapter 7: Billionaires

Chapter 8: Military budget

Chapter 9: False accusation of catcalling

Chapter 10: False accusation of mansplaining

Chapter 11: Funeral expenses

Chapter 12: Linda Sarsour

Chapter 13: Nuclear power

Chapter 14: Banning reporters

Chapter 15: Judiciary

Chapter 16: House Ehtics rules

Chapter 17: The end of the world

Chapter 18: Raising taxes on the rich

Chapter 19: Uber

Chapter 20: Republicans and typos

You can buy the paperback version at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1796936030

You can buy the amazon kindle version at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NRL9ZM8

Here’s the cover:

February 15, 2019. Tags: , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Books, Economics, Environmentalism. 2 comments.

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