April 19, 2007


By R.J. Rummel

Note that I completed this study in November 1993 while still engaged in collecting democide data. Not all the democide totals I mention here may be complete, therefore. For final figures on communist megamurderers, see my summary Table 1.2 in my Death by Government. For all final estimates, see the summary table in Statistics of Democide

With the passing of communism into history as an ideological alternative to democracy it is time to do some accounting of its human costs.

Few would deny any longer that communism–Marxism-Leninism and its variants–meant in practice bloody terrorism, deadly purges, lethal gulags and forced labor, fatal deportations, man-made famines, extrajudicial executions and show trials, and genocide. It is also widely known that as a result millions of innocent people have been murdered in cold blood. Yet there has been virtually no concentrated statistical work on what this total might be.

For about eight years I have been sifting through thousands of sources trying to determine the extent of democide (genocide and mass murder) in this century. As a result of that effort I am able to give some conservative figures on what is an unrivaled communist hecatomb, and to compare this to overall world totals.

First, however, I should clarify the term democide. It means for governments what murder means for an individual under municipal law. It is the premeditated killing of a person in cold blood, or causing the death of a person through reckless and wanton disregard for their life. Thus, a government incarcerating people in a prison under such deadly conditions that they die in a few years is murder by the state–democide–as would parents letting a child die from malnutrition and exposure be murder. So would government forced labor that kills a person within months or a couple of years be murder. So would government created famines that then are ignored or knowingly aggravated by government action be murder of those who starve to death. And obviously, extrajudicial executions, death by torture, government massacres, and all genocidal killing be murder. However, judicial executions for crimes that internationally would be considered capital offenses, such as for murder or treason (as long as it is clear that these are not fabricated for the purpose of executing the accused, as in communist show trials), are not democide. Nor is democide the killing of enemy soldiers in combat or of armed rebels, nor of noncombatants as a result of military action against military targets.

With this understanding of democide, Table 1 lists all communist governments that have committed any form of democide and gives their estimated total domestic and foreign democide and its annual rate (the percent of a government’s domestic population murdered per year). It also shows the total for communist guerrillas (including quasi-governments, as of the Mao soviets in China prior to the communist victory in 1949) and the world total for all governments and guerillas (including such quasi-governments as of the White Armies during the Russian civil war in 1917-1922). Figure 1 graphs the communist megamurderers and compares this to the communist and world totals.

Of course, eventhough systematically determined and calculated, all these figures and their graph are only rough approximations. Even were we to have total access to all communist archives we still would not be able to calculate precisely how many the communists murdered. Consider that even in spite of the archival statistics and detailed reports of survivors, the best experts still disagree by over 40 percent on the total number of Jews killed by the Nazis. We cannot expect near this accuracy for the victims of communism. We can, however, get a probable order of magnitude and a relative approximation of these deaths within a most likely range. And that is what the figures in Table 1 are meant to be. Their apparent precision is only due to the total for most communist governments being the summation of dozens of subtotals (as of forced labor deaths each year) and calculations (as in extrapolating scholarly estimates of executions or massacres).

With this understood, the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these.

Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito’s Yugoslavia.

Obviously the population that is available to kill will make a big difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his crew likely killed some 2,000,000 Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot’s rule of slightly over just over 2 to 1.

In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Of course, the world total itself it shocking. It is several times the 38,000,000 battle-dead that have been killed in all this century’s international and domestic wars. Yet the probable number of murders by the Soviet Union alone–one communist country– well surpasses this cost of war. And those murders of communist China almost equal it.

Figure 2 shows the major sources of death for those murdered under communism and compares this to world totals for each source for this century. A few of these sources require some clarification. Deaths through government terrorism means the killing of specific individuals by assassination, extrajudicial executions, torture, beatings, and such. Massacre, on the other hand, means the indiscriminate mass killing of people, as in soldiers machine gunning demonstrators, or entering a village and killing all of its inhabitants. As used here, genocide is the killing of people because of their ethnicity, race, religion, or language. And democide through deportation is the killing of people during their forced mass transportation to distant regions and their death as a direct result, such as through starvation or exposure. Democidal famine is that which is purposely caused or aggravated by government or which is knowingly ignored and aid to its victims is withheld.

As can be seen in the figure, communist forced labor was particularly deadly. It not only accounts for most deaths under communism, but is close to the world total, which also includes colonial forced labor deaths (as in German, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies). Communists also committed genocide, to be sure, but only near half of the world total. Communists are much less disposed to massacre then were many other noncommunist governments (such as the Japanese military during World War II, or the Nationalist Chinese government from 1928 to 1949). As can be seen from the comparative total for terrorism, communists were much more discriminating in their killing overall, even to the extent in the Soviet Union, communist China, and Vietnam, at least, of using a quota system. Top officials would order local officials to kill a certain number of “enemies of the people,” “rightists”, or “tyrants”.

How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with the absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely. They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest human welfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement.

Government–the Communist Party–was thus above any law.

All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.

Constructing this utopia was seen as though a war on poverty, exploitation, imperialism, and inequality. And for the greater good, as in a real war, people are killed. And thus this war for the communist utopia had its necessary enemy casualties, the clergy, bourgeoisie, capitalists, wreckers, counterrevolutionaries, rightists, tyrants, rich, landlords, and noncombatants that unfortunately got caught in the battle. In a war millions may die, but the cause may be well justified, as in the defeat of Hitler and an utterly racist Nazism. And to many communists, the cause of a communist utopia was such as to justify all the deaths. The irony of this is that communism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of the average person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It is not by chance that the greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though the total population of Turkey, Iran, or Thailand had been completely wiped out. And that something like 35,000,000 people fled communist countries as refugees, as though the countries of Argentina or Columbia had been totally emptied of all their people, was an unparalleled vote against the utopian pretensions of Marxism-Leninism.

But communists could not be wrong. After all, their knowledge was scientific, based on historical materialism, an understanding of the dialectical process in nature and human society, and a materialist (and thus realistic) view of nature. Marx has shown empirically where society has been and why, and he and his interpreters proved that it was destined for a communist end. No one could prevent this, but only stand in the way and delay it at the cost of more human misery. Those who disagreed with this world view and even with some of the proper interpretations of Marx and Lenin were, without a scintilla of doubt, wrong. After all, did not Marx or Lenin or Stalin or Mao say that. . . . In other words, communism was like a fanatical religion. It had its revealed text and chief interpreters. It had its priests and their ritualistic prose with all the answers. It had a heaven, and the proper behavior to reach it. It had its appeal to faith. And it had its crusade against nonbelievers.

What made this secular religion so utterly lethal was its seizure of all the state’s instrument of force and coercion and their immediate use to destroy or control all independent sources of power, such as the church, the professions, private businesses, schools, and, of course, the family. The result is what we see in Table 1.

But communism does not stand alone in such mass murder. We do have the example of Nazi Germany, which may have itself murdered some 20,000,000 Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Yugoslaves, Frenchmen, and other nationalities. Then there is the Nationalist government of China under Chiang Kai-shek, which murdered near 10,000,000 Chinese from 1928 to 1949, and the Japanese militarists who murdered almost 6,000,000 Chinese, Indonesians, Indochinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and others during world War II. And then we have the 1,000,000 or more Bengalis and Hindus killed in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971 by the Pakistan military. Nor should we forget the mass expulsion of ethnic Germans and German citizens from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, particularly by the Polish government as it seized the German Eastern Territories, killing perhaps over 1,000,000 of them. Nor should we ignore the 1,000,000 plus deaths in Mexico from 1900 to 1920, many of these poor Indians and peasants being killed by forced labor on barbaric haciendas. And one could go on and on to detail various kinds of noncommunist democide.

But what connects them all is this. As a government’s power is more unrestrained, as its power reaches into all the corners of culture and society, and as it is less democratic, then the more likely it is to kill its own citizens. There is more than a correlation here.

As totalitarian power increases, democide multiplies until it curves sharply upward when totalitarianism is near absolute. As a governing elite has the power to do whatever it wants, whether to satisfy its most personal desires, to pursue what it believes is right and true, it may do so whatever the cost in lives. In this case power is the necessary condition for mass murder. Once an elite have it, other causes and conditions can operated to bring about the immediate genocide, terrorism, massacres, or whatever killing an elite feels is warranted.

Finally, at the extreme of totalitarian power we have the greatest extreme of democide. Communist governments have almost without exception wielded the most absolute power and their greatest killing (such as during Stalin’s reign or the height of Mao’s power) has taken place when they have been in their own history most totalitarian. As most communist governments underwent increasing liberalization and a loosening of centralized power in the 1960s through the 1980s, the pace of killing dropped off sharply.

Communism has been the greatest social engineering experiment we have ever seen. It failed utterly and in doing so it killed over 100,000,000 men, women, and children, not to mention the near 30,000,000 of its subjects that died in its often aggressive wars and the rebellions it provoked.

But there is a larger lesson to be learned from this horrendous sacrifice to one ideology. That is that no one can be trusted with power. The more power the center has to impose the beliefs of an ideological or religious elite or impose the whims of a dictator, the more likely human lives are to be sacrificed. This is but one reason, but perhaps the most important one, for fostering liberal democracy.



Murder With Confidence Zones

April 18, 2007

Gun “Free” Zones

Wall St Journal

April 18, 2007

The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are “gun-free zones.”

Forty American states now have “shall issue” or similar laws, by which officials issue a pistol carry permit upon request to any adult who passes a background check and (in most states) a safety class. Research by Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary, and others, suggests that these laws provide law-abiding citizens some protection against violent crime. But in many states there are certain places, especially schools, set aside as off-limits for guns. In Virginia, universities aren’t “gun-free zones” by statute, but college officials are allowed to impose anti-gun rules. The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.

Private property owners also have the right to prohibit lawful gun possession. And some shopping malls have adopted anti-gun rules. Trolley Square was one, as announced by an unequivocal sign, “No weapons allowed on Trolley Square property.”

In February of this year a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.

Fortunately, someone else — off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond — also did not comply with the mall’s rules. After hearing “popping” sounds, Mr. Hammond investigated and immediately opened fire on the gunman. With his aggressive response, Mr. Hammond prevented other innocent bystanders from getting hurt. He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.

At Virginia Tech’s sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree, and after a few critical minutes, broke through the doors that Cho Seung-Hui had apparently chained shut. From what we know now, Cho committed suicide when he realized he’d soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.

But let’s take a step back in time. Last year the Virginia legislature defeated a bill that would have ended the “gun-free zones” in Virginia’s public universities. At the time, a Virginia Tech associate vice president praised the General Assembly’s action “because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.” In an August 2006 editorial for the Roanoke Times, he declared: “Guns don’t belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same.”

Actually, Virginia Tech’s policy only made the killer safer, for it was only the law-abiding victims, and not the criminal, who were prevented from having guns. Virginia Tech’s policy bans all guns on campus (except for police and the university’s own security guards); even faculty members are prohibited from keeping guns in their cars.

Virginia Tech thus went out of its way to prevent what happened at a Pearl, Miss., high school in 1997, where assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car and apprehended a school shooter. Or what happened at Appalachian Law School, in Grundy, Va., in 2002, when a mass murder was stopped by two students with law-enforcement experience, one of whom retrieved his own gun from his vehicle. Or in Edinboro, Pa., a few days after the Pearl event, when a school attack ended after a nearby merchant used a shotgun to force the attacker to desist. Law-abiding citizens routinely defend themselves with firearms. Annually, Americans drive-off home invaders a half-million times, according to a 1997 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Utah, there is no “gun-free schools” exception to the licensed carry law. In K-12 schools and in universities, teachers and other adults can and do legally carry concealed guns. In Utah, there has never been a Columbine-style attack on a school. Nor has there been any of the incidents predicted by self-defense opponents — such as a teacher drawing a gun on a disrespectful student, or a student stealing a teacher’s gun.

Israel uses armed teachers as part of a successful program to deter terrorist attacks on schools. Buddhist teachers in southern Thailand are following the Israeli example, because of Islamist terrorism.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., long-time gun control advocates, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), agreed that making airplane cockpits into “gun-free zones” had made airplanes much more dangerous for everyone except hijackers. Corrective legislation, supported by large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, allowed pilots to carry firearms, while imposing rigorous gun-safety training on pilots who want to carry.

In many states, “gun-free schools” legislation was enacted hastily in the late 1980s or early 1990s due to concerns about juvenile crime. Aimed at juvenile gangsters, the poorly written and overbroad statutes had the disastrous consequence of rendering teachers unable to protect their students.

Reasonable advocates of gun control can still press for a wide variety of items on their agenda, while helping to reform the “gun-free zones” that have become attractive havens for mass killers. If legislators or administrators want to require extensive additional training for armed faculty and other adults, that’s fine. Better that some victims be armed than none at all.

The founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, understood the harms resulting from the type of policy created at Virginia Tech. In his “Commonplace Book,” Jefferson copied a passage from Cesare Beccaria, the founder of criminology, which was as true on Monday as it always has been:

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

Mr. Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo., and co-author of the law school textbook, “Gun Control and Gun Rights” (NYU Press).


The Great Global Warming Swindle

April 14, 2007

Or perhaps I should say:

The Great Disappearing BBC Documentary….

Now you see it, now you don’t.

The BBC produced a masterpiece of Global Warming “denial”, titled “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. I’ve posted about it, calling it “Must See BBC”.

People keep putting it up on Google Video, and Yahoo video, and Google and Yahoo keep taking it down.

I’m tired of updating the link to the latest posting, so here is my last update:


If this link tells you “We’re sorry, but this video may not be available.”, just type this in the empty box at the top:

The Great Global Warming Swindle

You have to do this from the Google Video website my link takes you to. If you just Google the title from the generic Google site, ironically all y0u get are links to sites dedicated to denouncing the video. Some of which say “don’t watch this, it’s all lies”, etc. I recommend that you watch it and make up your own mind.

Some people don’t want you to be able to do that. If you check out the news stories, you’ll find that some of the scientists featured have been receiving literal death threats. One said: “If you don’t stop speaking out, you won’t live to see any further warming”.

As a result, one of the scientists in the video is now saying “I was taken out of context, making it seem I was saying the opposite of what I meant”. I went over his comments several times, and I can’t see how he could possibly have been misquoted. My guess is either literal death threats, or at least threats to his professional status and future funding possibilites, have lead to his recantation. The Catholic Inquistion made Gallileo recant, a tactic the Environmentalist Inquistion has decided to emulate.

If the video isn’t up at the moment, try again a few hours or a day later. If you do find it on Google video, there is a “download” button on the right.

Download it to your hard drive right away, before it disappears again.

By the way, the full version is 1 hr 15 min 58 sec, usually labeled from “Wag TV”. There have been versions out with the first two minutes, the most powerful part of the whole program, deleted. If you have a choice, pick the long version.

More Proof of Global Warming

April 8, 2007

Coldest April Easter in 57 years

Channel 11 Minneapolis

Better grab your insulated bonnets; we’re in for the coldest Easter Sunday in years.

That didn’t stop a group of early Easter egg hunters in Anoka this afternoon. They bundled up for the holiday tradition, despite the cold.

“That’s Minnesota for you. But we still have our Easter spirit,” said Sarah Oftelie.

Easter Sunday’s high temperature will struggle to make 40 degrees, barely higher than Christmas day. In fact, we haven’t seen April temperatures like this in almost 60 years.

Other parts of the country are freezing, too. Friday’s Twins game is canceled in Chicago, and Atlanta could see its coldest Easter Sunday in 120 years.


Then in Alaska:

” The period from Feb. 12 to March 20 was the coldest on record, according to Aycock. The average temperature was minus 13.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 17.1 degrees colder than normal.”


You won’t be reading about the above items in any MSM stories about AGW, of course, because it doesn’t fit the AGW ideology.


Media Bias: How It Works

PowerLine blog

Sometimes media bias is blatant and grotesque; it can extend to flat misrepresentations, use of fake documents, etc. Much more often, it is relatively subtle, as reporters push their version of a story in small ways, day after day. Here is a textbook example:

Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, one of the world’s leading weather experts, Dr. William Gray, blasted Al Gore for perpetrating global warming hysteria. Since Dr. Gray is generally recognized as the world’s leading expert in the science of forecasting hurricanes, this is news. But let’s examine how the AP handled it in the article that resulted from their interview. The AP begins in a straightforward manner:

A top hurricane forecaster called Al Gore “a gross alarmist” Friday for making an Oscar-winning documentary about global warming.”He’s one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he’s doing a great disservice and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.

But watch where the story goes from there. First the subtle demeaning of the distinguished Dr. Gray:

Gray, an emeritus professor at the atmospheric science department at Colorado State University, has long railed against the theory that heat-trapping gases generated by human activity are causing the world to warm.

Gray is implicitly depicted as a crank; he “rails.” Note that the hysterical and ill-informed Gore never “rails.” Further, Gray “has long railed,” which suggests that, rather than being a consistent critic of an unproven theory, he is a tiresome eccentric whose views have been heard and discounted. More on this later. The AP continues:

Gray’s statements came the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change approved a report that concludes the world will face dire consequences to food and water supplies, along with increased flooding and other dramatic weather events, unless nations adapt to climate change.

As we have noted elsewhere, the U.N.’s IPCC is a political body, not a scientific one, and its findings have been subject to withering criticism. But the AP implies that the U.N’s report represents a scientific consensus. Next:

Rather than global warming, Gray believes a recent uptick in strong hurricanes is part of a multi-decade trend of alternating busy and slow periods related to ocean circulation patterns. Contrary to mainstream thinking, Gray believes ocean temperatures are going to drop in the next five to 10 years.

Now it’s explicit. The elderly crank who “rails” and disagrees with the U.N. is not part of “mainstream thinking,” notwithstanding the fact that, as the AP acknowledges, he is the world’s foremost authority on hurricanes.

Now the conclusion: in evaluating media bias, it is always important to see who gets the last word. The AP signs off with a scientist who contradicts Gray’s views:

Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor who had feuded with Gray over global warming, said Gray has wrongly “dug (his) heels in” even though there is ample evidence that the world is getting hotter.

There you have it. Dr. Gray is a fuddy-duddy who “has long railed” and is outside the “mainstream.” He has “dug his heels in” and is so out of date that he tries to dispute the obvious fact that the world is currently getting warmer! The AP is telling us that, however distinguished Gray may be, he can safely be disregarded on this issue.

But wait! Does Dr. Gray really deny the “ample evidence that the world is getting hotter”? Maybe the AP reporter just took Emanuel’s word for it. Maybe he was too lazy to do any research. Maybe he deliberately misled his readers. Through the miracle of Google–do AP reporters know about Google?–it took me approximately 30 seconds to find this interview of Dr. Gray, in which he talked about whether the earth is “getting hotter”:

Q: … is global warming behind this increase in hurricanes?Gray: I am very confident that it’s not. I mean we have had global warming. That’s not a question. The globe has warmed the last 30 years, and the last 10 years in particular.

The AP is resorting here to the media’s constant trick of misrepresenting the position of those who oppose the global warming theorists. The issue is not whether the earth has recently warmed; it has, by around 7/10 of a degree in the last century. The questions are, 1) to what extent, if any, is that warming (or the cooling that also occurs periodically) caused by human activity, 2) how much warming (or cooling) is there likely to be in the future, 3) what will the net effects, good and bad, of such warming or cooling be, and 4) are the benefits, if any, of reducing CO2 emissions by a given amount worth the costs?

The Associated Press, like nearly all mainstream media outlets, runs interference for the global warming hysterics by misrepresenting the nature of the debate, misrepresenting the positions of those who oppose the hysteria, and subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) suggesting that all who question the anthropogenic global warming theorists can safely be dismissed as cranks.



 If you haven’t yet seen the BBC documentary on the science and politics of AGW, it’s absolutely “Must See BBC”.

First it was up on Google video, taken off of there but went up on You Tube. It’s gone from there now, but back on Google here:


See it quick before it gets taken down again.

Everything Not Explicitly Permitted Is Forbidden

April 5, 2007

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

TIA Daily.com

One of the most appalling recent trends is the way in which certain media outlets, such as the New York Times, have begun referring to carbon dioxide–one of the basic constituents of the atmosphere and a substance we all constantly exhale–as a “pollutant.”

By that standard, everything is a pollutant. And that is, in fact, precisely the view that has now been endorsed by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court. In Monday’s ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (available in PDF format here), the court held that the EPA is obliged to treat every substance on earth as a pollutant to be regulated, unless it can demonstrate why that substance is not a pollutant.

Actually, that’s not precisely true. The EPA is not required to target literally every chemical component of our environment–just the ones that are produced by humans as part of our economic activity. The court’s majority opinion cites the Clean Air Act, which defines an “air pollutant” to be “any physical, chemical…substance…emitted into…the ambient air.” Emitted, that is, by humans. The emphasis on the word “any” was added by the court, which goes on to note that this “embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe.”

In a puckish footnote in his dissent, Justice Scalia replies: “It follows that everything airborne, from Frisbees to flatulence, qualifies as an ‘air pollutant.’ This reading of the statute defies common sense.”

But following the implications of this “everything is pollution” premise, the court concludes that the “EPA can avoid promulgating regulations only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change.” If emitting carbon dioxide is not explicitly permitted by the EPA–then it is assumed to be forbidden. As my friend Jack Wakeland put it to me, the upshot of this Supreme Court ruling is that “industrial civilization is guilty until proven innocent.”

This ominous decision overturns the basic rule of a free society. In a free society, that which is not explicitly forbidden is permitted. As philosopher Harry Binswanger once put it, in a free society we live in a sea of liberty, a vast realm of actions that cannot be impeded by government–with only a few small islands marked “off limits,” a strictly delimited set of evil actions like armed robbery and check-forging that are banned by government.

In a dictatorship, by contrast, men are mired in a giant, endless quagmire of government controls, and they have to struggle to establish a few small islands of liberty.

Yet that is the meaning of this ruling: unless your economic activity falls within a little island of liberty carved out by a sympathetic EPA administrator, it is automatically assumed that it must be regulated. That which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden.

The particular mechanism by which this environmental tyranny is to be enforced is laid out in the majority’s re-write of the rules regarding who has “standing” to sue. The rules on “standing” are one of our basic protections from legal harassment. These rules say that someone can’t sue you simply because he has a general, free-floating grievance against society. Instead, to have standing to sue, the plaintiff must make a reasonable case that he has been directly harmed, or is in imminent danger of being harmed, by your specific action.

Chief Justice Roberts’s dissent in this case is a masterful overview of the rules on standing–and a devastating analysis of how these rules are all thrown out by the majority decision.

The case was brought by the state of Massachusetts, as lead plaintiff, on the grounds that the EPA’s failure to raise automobile mileage standards would allow more carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, which would then, allegedly, cause rising sea levels to inundate the Massachusetts coastline–one hundred years from now.

That last part is important. The Chief Justice notes that traditionally a plaintiff is only allowed to file a suit if he can claim some imminent harm. A harm projected to occur a century from now, long after we are all dead, is by definition not imminent.

Moreover, even granting that human emissions of carbon dioxide cause global warming (which is a far more dubious proposition than we have been led to believe), an increase in gas-mileage requirements would have only a marginal effect on US automobile emissions of carbon dioxide, which are only a marginal fraction of total worldwide human emissions of carbon dioxide–which, in turn, is only a fraction of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by natural, non-human sources.

Finally, there is no clear evidence that global warming is raising or will raise sea levels in Massachusetts. Chief Justice Roberts notes that the computer model used to project future changes in sea levels has a margin of error that is greater than the effect that it claims. The projected rise in sea levels is, in effect, lost in the model’s static. As for the plaintiff’s claim that sea levels are already rising, he responds:

One declaration states that “a rise in sea level due to climate change is occurring on the coast of Massachusetts, in the metropolitan Boston area,” but there is no elaboration. And the declarant goes on to identify a “significan[t]” non-global-warming cause of Boston’s rising sea level: land subsidence [i.e., the sea is not rising; the land is sinking]. Thus, aside from a single conclusory statement, there is nothing in petitioners’ 43 standing declarations and accompanying exhibits to support an inference of actual loss of Massachusetts coastal land from 20th century global sea level increases. It is pure conjecture.

Thus, Massachusetts is not suing on the basis of direct provable harm, but on the basis of a vaguely indirect, purely speculative harm.

But Chief Justice Roberts grasps what is accomplished by throwing out the rules of standing. Under the open-ended, infinitely elastic rules established by the majority, he notes, establishing a standing to sue become a “lawyer’s game” in which any sharp operator can set up a Rube Goldberg chain of cause and effect to show that he is being “harmed” by the activities of others. This allows sweeping new government controls to be imposed, not as the application of predictable existing law, nor as the product of public debate in the legislature, but by the arbitrary decree of a small clique of activist lawyers and leftist judges.

Consider the implications of the court’s ruling that the EPA can be sued in the courts to require it to regulate carbon dioxide as a “pollutant.” Carbon dioxide is not an incidental byproduct of the generation of power. It is the unavoidable product of our most widely used fuels, fuels for which there is no practical alternative: oil, coal, natural gas. So to cap or reduce carbon dioxide emissions would require a vast regime of government controls on all levels, from giant factories down to backyard barbecues. To cap or reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to cap or reduce American prosperity.

This is one of the most sweeping and intrusive demands for government controls that I can recall. But the court is establishing a mechanism by which all of this can be imposed without legislation–sidestepping the need to convince the American people and secure their consent.

Seeing the popularity of Al Gore’s traveling tent revival act, many of us have been preparing for a long and bruising public debate on global warming and a political battle royal over whether to impose a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. We weren’t happy that we would have to fight this battle, but we could at least hope that an extended public debate would give us a chance to cool the global warming hysteria and point out the disastrous consequences of a “carbon tax” or the fuel-rationing scheme of “cap and trade.”

But the Supreme Court is now telling us that the whole game is over before it even begins: the Clean Air Act, passed some thirty-odd years ago, already demands total government regulation of the lifeblood of the economy. Their decree cuts off the debate.

I am not among those who believe that the courts must be entirely deferential to the legislature and the executive. The Supreme Court in particular has a legitimate realm of authority as the protector of the Constitution. But the court’s proper role is as the guarantor of liberty. Its legitimate authority lies in its responsibility to protect the substantive and procedural limits that guard us against tyranny.

What happens when the court abandons that role and takes it upon itself to weaken our protections against government power? We can now get a preview of the result. In the new environmentalist utopia, all that which is not permitted is forbidden, and we are all guilty until proven innocent.



Or worse, civilization itself has been found guilty, and sentenced to death, without even the courtesy of a Show Trial.


Environmentalism’s Big Lie: Renewable Energy
Environmentalists Oppose All Man Made Power

TIA Daily

When President Bush presented his National Energy Policy in May [2001], he concluded that “energy production and environmental protection are not competing priorities. They’re dual aspects of a single purpose: to live well and wisely upon this earth.” To back up this claim, the president emphasized his proposals to promote renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass (the combustion of agricultural and landfill gas and logging wastes), and geothermal power.

In doing so, the Bush administration is promoting environmentalism’s Big Lie: that the production of man-made power could, under any circumstances, be compatible with its injunction against man-made alterations to the environment.

Many environmentalists claim that putting the earth first only requires man to switch his power source from one technology to another; that the only thing their ideology requires is that the production of man-made power not deplete the earth’s “limited” resources.

According to John Berger, a leading advocate of “alternative” technologies, renewable energy is in “harmony” with nature because it “draws on the perpetual flow of energy income to the Earth and doesn’t deplete the Earth’s energy capital. It doesn’t destroy the earth in the process of providing us with the ability to do work.” The only reason why “non-sustainable” fossil fuels have been favored over renewable energy, according to Berger, is that free markets cause us to “make our long-term energy decisions on the basis of short-term price signals.”

In reality, these claims that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels and nuclear power are a fraud. In California, moreover, environmentalists have revealed that their real attitude toward renewable energy is no less hostile than their attitude toward all other forms of man-made power.

After the installation of hundreds of “alternative” energy plants in the state—in the nation’s most ambitious program to build environmentally correct power plants—the greens have begun to reject one renewable power technology after another.

Amory Lovins, a MacArthur fellow who has written 27 books, is the originator of environmentalism’s renewable energy campaign. Lovins has promoted the view that all large-scale electricity production facilities must be phased out before they destroy the earth with pollution, radioactive waste, and supposedly climate-changing carbon dioxide.

To save the earth, Lovins claims, the entire American power grid with its 745,000 MW of central station generating capacity must be replaced with decentralized and distributed electrical generation. He envisions photovoltaic cells on every rooftop, windmills in every backyard, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered automobiles in every garage, bio-mass generators in every barn, and ethanol crops in every field. As a “bridge” to this environmentally correct energy regime, Lovins advocates the use of natural-gas-fired power plants and co-generators, plants that use much of the low temperature heat normally rejected from conventional power plants to produce steam for heating and for certain industrial processes.

The productivity claims Lovins makes for renewable energy range from the improbable, to the extravagant, to the impossible.

In his 1978 best-seller, Soft Energy Paths, Lovins claimed that the entire American transportation system could be converted to alcohol fuel with only 10 to 14 times the current production capacity of the nation’s breweries and wineries. Lovins’ proposal would actually require that ten times the area of all the cropland in the United States be devoted to ethanol production.

Lovins’s current and highly influential proposal is to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the partial combustion of natural gas at the wellhead and to re-inject the carbon dioxide effluent back into the earth. The energy stored in clean-burning hydrogen fuel would then be used for everything from heating buildings to powering hydrogen fuel cell cars that, when parked, could be plugged into the electrical grid to generate all of the electricity we currently use.

Is there enough natural gas to support Lovins’s vision for a hydrogen-based economy? For the purpose of foisting his hydrogen scheme on the world, Lovins adopts the wildly speculative theory, proposed by Cornell astronomy professor Thomas Gold, that the earth’s natural gas did not originate from fossilized vegetation. Because some of the other planets in our solar system are gas giants made up almost entirely of methane, Gold asserts that the earth harbors astronomical quantities of the gas. In Gold’s theory, these imagined deposits of “abiogenic” methane support a vast and even more imaginative subterranean ecosystem, which he calls the “deep hot biosphere.”

This wild fantasy, masquerading as a scientific hypothesis, contradicts the extensive body of geological evidence on fossil fuel deposits. Nevertheless, Lovins enjoins the great minds of science, engineering, and business to ignore the contradiction and divert their efforts and intelligence to the task of converting mankind’s industrial economy to hydrogen power. Whether such a conversion is actually possible is not important—because the continued existence of industrial civilization is not the goal of Lovins’s proposals.

The purpose of his renewable energy campaign is to undermine all large-scale power production. All of the most productive means of making power—coal, oil, large hydro, and nuclear—all of them got to be so productive precisely because they are large. Large-scale projects are able to take full advantage of the division of labor, creating economies of scale that allow more efficient operation than would be possible with a much greater number of small-scale projects. So in proposing that every farm, every office building, and every household produce its own energy, Lovins is attacking the division of labor economy that makes power production so economical—and which allows the production of large quantities of man-made power.

Lovins implicitly acknowledges that small-scale technologies can never produce the geometrically growing quantities of power required by man’s geometrically expanding industrial economy. He is the author of the invalid concept “negawatts.” “Negawatts” are supposed to be a measure of the megawatts of capacity that do not have to be built due to reductions in energy consumption, either through increased efficiency or through the pure sacrifice of “conservation.” In this nihilistic view, the elimination of man-made power is economically equivalent and ecologically superior to its production.

Lovins’s vision for “renewable energy”—a vision that serves only to mask environmentalism’s goal of extinguishing the lights of industrial civilization—was first put into practice in California.

In 1976, under the direction of Governor Jerry Brown, Lovins developed an “alternative” energy strategy for California. Initially, state income tax credits were offered for solar panels, but by the end of the decade, a more powerful vehicle for promoting “green power” became available. In 1978, President Carter signed the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA). The act promotes unconventional power sources by compelling investor-owned utilities to purchase this power at their avoided cost—that is, the amount that the utilities would have had to spend to build, fuel, and maintain conventional power plants to produce the same amount of electricity.

Taking advantage of this federal mandate, the California Public Utilities Commission pressed utilities into signing ten-year contracts at inflated rates with PURPA-qualifying facilities. Under the terms of these contracts, utilities have paid an average of $70 per MWhr, when the price for ten-year contracts in the free market averaged about $30 per MWhr.

Under this subsidy, the capacity of PURPA-qualifying facilities mushroomed to more than 11,000 MW, one fifth of the generating capacity in the state. However, 60% of California’s PURPA-qualifying electricity is generated by a “non-renewable” technology: natural gas fired co-generators. So to target “truly alternative” sources—geothermal, small hydro (dams that can produce less than 30 MW), wind, biomass, and solar power—the state of California directed distribution utilities to pay these renewable power producers an additional $15 per MWhr subsidy. The money for this subsidy came from an electricity surcharge imposed by the state’s Public Utility Commission.

The state also subsidizes the construction of these “green” power plants. California’s electricity “deregulation” law, AB 1890, appropriates $540 million for “alternative” energy construction subsidies. Of this sum, $162 million has already been committed to the construction of 600 MW of wind, waste gas, and geothermal capacity planned over the past four years—an average of $270 per KW for the recipients, or about one quarter of what it would cost to build natural-gas-fired capacity.

The PURPA plant contracts and renewable energy subsidies effectively burden California electricity users with a state tax of more than $2 billion per year—roughly one-third of the state’s wholesale electricity spending in 1999. The result: 8.5% of the state’s electricity is supplied by “alternative” energy.

But environmentalists are not celebrating.

California’s mandate for “green” power technology has demonstrated for all to see that the most highly acclaimed renewable energy technologies are a sham. Worse, for environmentalists, the large quantities of electricity generated by the more productive of the renewable technologies—quantities that have made them indispensable to Californians during their current electricity crisis—have converted these types of renewable energy into a threat to the earth.

The extent to which a renewable energy technology has proved its usefulness is the exact extent to which environmentalists now oppose it. The extent to which a technology has proved unproductive is the exact extent to which environmentalists continue to embrace it.

All of America’s central station solar electricity is generated in California. At maximum capacity, California’s nine solar stations—with a combined total of 11 square miles of mirrors focused on steam drums that drive steam turbines—can generate 413 MW of electricity, 0.8% of the state’s capacity. Because the sun sets at night and is sometimes attenuated by clouds, these plants produce only 0.3% of California’s electricity. They owe their economic existence to federal solar power tax credits awarded on top of California’s inflated PURPA contracts and renewable power subsidies. When these tax credits were interrupted for eleven months in 1991, the plants’ operator, LUZ, immediately went bankrupt. Today SEGS, an Israeli government corporation, operates them at a loss.

The only reason why environmentalists love solar power is that there are no prospects for growth of central station solar power. After two decades of subsidized development, it remains hopelessly ineffective.

Environmentalists also love dung. California’s four anaerobic digesters, which capture methane generated from decaying manure and harvest wastes, have a combined capacity of 75 MW, or 0.14% of the state’s generating capacity. These digesters, commonly used to produce gas for cooking and lighting in the Third World, are acceptable to environmentalists because allowing the methane they generate to escape into the atmosphere would, supposedly, be just as bad as burning it.

Even under California’s massive subsidies, manure digesters are operated at losses that exceed those of solar power. And any possibility that manure could become a productive fuel source is being foreclosed by the greens’ efforts to restrict large-scale animal waste cesspools.

According to the editorial board of the New York Times, “hogs raised in enormous confinement systems no longer belong to the biological cycle. Their manure is now a pollutant.” Based on this view, a coalition of environmental groups is suing Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, seeking $148 billion in “damages.”

Anaerobic digesters are also used to capture methane from rotting garbage. Ten digesters operated by California municipalities generate 0.06% of the state’s electricity. But the desire to capture “alternative” energy subsidies is not why towns and cities have installed them. They are the product of State Assembly Bill 939, which threatens municipalities with $10,000-per-day fines if they don’t divert half of their solid waste from landfills through recycling programs or other “earth friendly” means.

Some of California’s landfills contain ducts to collect methane gas. They fuel 38 generating plants with a combined capacity of 257 MW. These plants are relatively productive and make 0.5% of the electricity on the state’s grid. Decades ago, central city incinerators used to make steam for heating and electricity, while greatly reducing the volume of solid wastes. Environmentalists shut most of them down with exaggerated fears of heavy metal emissions. Instead, these centrally located power plants have been exchanged for giant, rural methane compost heaps that occupy tens of thousands of acres. The greens are attempting to eliminate even this source of power—through controls like California’s AB 939, that force recycling on America’s “throw-away society.”

A similar campaign is already choking the fuel supply to California’s wood burning power plants. The logging industry argued that chips, bark, sawdust, and other wood wastes shouldn’t be left to rot in the forest and generate methane, when they could be burned instead. They have been burned, sometimes in combination with harvest wastes, at 32 PURPA-qualifying power plants in the state. These plants have a combined capacity of 604 MW and used to produce 1.1% of the power consumed in the state. They are producing less now, however. Environmentalists banned logging on much of the federal land near these California plants. Three wood burning power stations, including the 35 MW Wendel plant, ran out of fuel this winter and have been shut down.

For greens, this is not an accidental consequence of their opposition to logging. According to Chad Hanson, executive director of the anti-logging John Muir Project, “Biomass timber sales,” he declares, “are a serious threat to the forest.”

Two thirds of America’s wind power capacity is located in California. The state’s 1817 MW of wind farms, nominally 3.4% of in-state generating capacity, are available only when the wind blows at optimum speeds. Thus they produce only 1.2% of the electricity consumed in the state.

However, more wind generators are being built in California every year. As more generators are ordered and more owners gain experience operating wind farms, the cost of making electricity from them has been dramatically reduced. Wind power is now competitive with many older or less efficient fossil fuel plants that utilities rely on for “load following” (generating the power needed during the daily fluctuations in demand).

When it was an absurdly expensive and rare means of making electricity, environmentalists had universally championed wind power. The rapid expansion of wind power capacity is—just as rapidly—changing their attitude. More and more greens are coming out against it.

They worry, for example, about “visual blight.” Environmental “philosopher” Roderick Nash observes, “If offshore rigs offend, can a much greater number of windmills be any better?”

Environmentalists are beginning to complain about the erosion and dust from service roads and the fencing around the windmills. They even complain about generator oil leaks.

Above all, environmentalists are concerned about the number of rare birds killed by wind farms: red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, turkey vultures, and owls. The 625 MW Altamont Pass project killed 39 golden eagles in one year; the birds are protected by the Endangered Species Act because ecologists believe there are only 500 breeding pairs left. “It’s not just the bird-blade interaction,” according to Dennis White of the Columbia Gorge Audubon Society. “There are several other ways wind power impacts wildlife and birds, such as habitat fragmentation and destruction.”

The National Audubon Society and the Audubon Societies of Maine, Oregon, and Washington have called for a ban on new wind farm construction. Jan Beya, vice president for science policy at the National Audubon Society, warns that “wind power could face the same fate as low-head hydro.”

And what is that fate?

Large-scale hydro is currently the focus of environmentalism’s war on man-made power. This campaign has been codified in federal law. The Northwest Power Act requires that reservoirs be maintained at levels that assure—with an 85% probability—that they can supply optimum springtime flows for salmon spawning. The Endangered Species Act further limits water use. These two restrictions are believed to have effectively eliminated 1,400 MW, or one seventh, of the capacity of the nation’s largest hydropower producer, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The slogan, “Save the salmon. Breach the dams!” is becoming national policy. If the BPA fails to increase the salmon population in the lower Snake River, four dams with a combined hydroelectric capacity of 1,200 MW may be breached.

The alternative to large hydroelectric dams is “small hydro.” California’s 379 small hydro stations have a nominal capacity of a little more than 2,000 MW, 4% of the state’s generating capacity. However, many of these plants cannot be run simultaneously, and the plants that do run are so unproductive that they supply only 0.4% of California’s electricity. Nevertheless, small hydro has been damaged by environmentalism’s war on hydroelectric power. In 1985, Russell Shay of the Sierra Club told a House subcommittee that “fisheries in California and the Pacific Northwest face disastrous effects from the unprecedented numbers of small hydro projects which have been proposed for our Western waterways.” In 1987, Congress disqualified hydropower from the PURPA program.

Without the moral shield against environmentalism provided by PURPA qualification, small hydropower projects have little chance. In California, only 13 MW of small hydro capacity has been planned since 1996.

Three quarters of the United States’ geothermal electricity is generated in California. The 47 plants are capable of producing 2,560 MW, 4.9% of the state’s current generating capacity. The plants run around the clock, producing 4.8% of the electricity consumed in the state.

By itself, this quantity of man-made power would be sufficient to support the standard of living enjoyed by the billion citizens of the nation of India. This, however, is too much for environmentalists to accept.

The scale of operation of California’s geothermal plants has attracted the use of force against producers, not from fanatical members of Earth First!, but from conventional government officials enforcing conventional environmental regulations. In 1995, the Northern Sonoma County Pollution Control District and the Sonoma County District Attorney sued Central California Power Agency over hydrogen sulfide emissions at the world’s largest geothermal plants at The Geysers. They imposed a settlement payment of $150,000.

Two years later, an EPA repair crew rushed out to The Geysers. The emergency: caps on 41 spent geothermal wells were judged to be faulty. In terms reminiscent of the kind of hysterical fears conjured against nuclear power, Terry Brubaker, head of EPA’s emergency response office in San Francisco, explained: “The hydrogen sulfide that’s in these wells is about as toxic a compound as you can get. An uncontrolled release could result in a large concentration of gas that would kill everything in its path.”

In reality, the amount of gas released from these wells—two-foot-diameter holes drilled 1.5 miles into the earth—would be negligible. It would certainly be no greater than what is already released from the natural source after which the geothermal facility is named. Yet this “safety” effort was covered under the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program.

Capping geothermal plants has become much easier than building them. Plans to build a pair of 48 MW geothermal plants near Medicine Lake are facing the kind of obstacles environmentalists used to reserve for oil drilling. Local environmental groups claim that the project threatens the system of lava tubes and volcanic aquifers surrounding the lake and that the Shasta crayfish, an endangered species, might be affected.

In May, a group of geothermal producers went to Washington, DC, to complain to the Bush administration that the projects they’ve pursued on federal lands have been held up by the Department of the Interior for up to 20 years. Nearly all of the nation’s geothermal resources are on federal lands.

With these kinds of obstacles, California’s geothermal electricity production has declined 20% from its peak in 1992.

Felice Pace of the Klamath Forest Alliance explains the environmentalist opposition to geothermal power: “Essentially, in our minds, what it boils down to is any human act, any energy development, is going to have some impacts.”

According to environmentalism, there is no moral way to produce the motive power that industrial civilization requires. Large-scale power production is incompatible with environmentalism’s injunction against man-made alterations to the environment. Any form of man-made power that supports industrial civilization, regardless of how little it pollutes or how few resources it uses, is immoral because it supports industrial civilization.

The greens pretend that renewable power sources, which currently supply 2% of the nation’s electricity, are a gigantic untapped resource that would be able to support American prosperity. They pretend that it is only the capitalist system that prevents us from enjoying these bountiful sources of energy—energy that would enable us to live in harmony with nature, in perpetuity.

But when California’s subsidies—which guaranteed renewable energy generators three times the income of conventional power producers—increased the scale of “alternative” energy in the state, the greens dropped the pretense. They have turned against geothermal, small hydroelectric, and wood-burning generators—and they are turning against wind power producers. Their sin: these generators provide 7.5% of the state’s electricity needs and promised to expand with the growing demand for power.

Environmentalists ultimately object to the amount of power produced, regardless of how it is produced. The instant that any technology promises to supply power on an industrial scale, it becomes an unpardonable evil that must be stamped out by force—either by government policy or by direct action.

If a political movement were to condemn the “factory farm” as a method that will eventually cause mass starvation; if it were to propose the elimination of all tractors and combines because they “ravage” the soil and to extol the virtues of the quarter-acre garden as the only way to sustain food production in perpetuity; if such a movement were to subsidize “sustainable” food production techniques but angrily reject replacing machines with draft animals, while praising the shovel and sickle—one would conclude that the goal of this movement is the starvation of mankind.

What are we to think about a movement that makes war on industrial-scale power generation?

In seeking to cut off the motive power of industry, environmentalism is attempting to destroy the Industrial Revolution by starving it to death. Such a reversal would begin a new Dark Age for mankind—a Dark Age in which Americans would be compelled to accept a standard of living well below that of the Third World—a Dark Age that would begin with the deaths of billions of human beings who would have become the “surplus” population that could no longer be supported in a world without industrial production.

Jack Wakeland is an engineer working in the nuclear power industry and a frequent contributor to The Intellectual Activist and TIA Daily.



Ah, but they don’t REALLY contemplate this do they? Consider this quote by Ted Kaczynski, printed in the “Green Anarchist”:


When things break down, there is going to be violence and this does raise a question, I don’t know if I exactly want to call it a moral question, but the point is that for those who realize the need to do away with the techno-industrial system, if you work for its collapse, in effect you are killing a lot of people. If it collapses, there is going to be social disorder, there is going to be starvation, there aren’t going to be any more spare parts or fuel for farm equipment, there won’t be any more pesticide or fertilizer on which modern agriculture is dependent. So there isn’t going to be enough food to go around, so then what happens? This is something that, as far as I’ve read, I haven’t seen any radicals facing up to. “



Yeah, there currently are somewhere around 6 and a half Billion humans on the planet. So if we end the evil effects on the planet from industrialized civilization by ending industrialized civilization itself, 6 Billion people will need to die. Sad, but that seems to be the price we have to pay to save the planet {sic}.

April 5, 2007

Beyond the Hype

Same Old Soaring Gas Prices

George Will, Washington Post

WASHINGTON — They come with metronomic regularity, these media stories about “soaring” gasoline prices and the causes thereof, news stories which always identify the same two culprits, supply and demand. The stories always give various reasons why supplies are tight — more often, why prices include a risk premium based on fears that supplies might become tight — or why demand is higher than it is “should” be, given supposedly high prices.

Today, as the price of a gallon of regular ($2.70 nationally on Monday) “soars” almost to where it was (measured in constant dollars) in 1982, the “news” is: “Drivers Offer a Collective Ho-Hum as Gasoline Prices Soar” (The New York Times, last Friday). People are not changing their behavior because the real, inflation-adjusted cost of that behavior has not changed significantly, and neither has the cost of the commodity in question, relative to disposable income.

The next wave of stories about “soaring” gas prices will predictably trigger some politicians’ indignation about oil companies’ profits. The day after Exxon Mobil’s announcement that it earned $39.5 billion in 2006, Hillary Clinton said: “I want to take those profits, and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence.”

Clinton’s “take” reveals her confiscatory itch. Her clunky “toward the direction of” suggests that she actually knows that independence is as chimeric a goal as Soviet grain production goals were.

President Bush proposes reducing gasoline usage 20 percent in 10 years. Perhaps: After the oil shocks of the late 1970s, gasoline consumption fell 12 percent and did not again reach 1978 levels until 1993. This decline was produced by an abrupt and substantial increase in the price of gasoline, which no politician, least of all the president, is proposing. And we actually could get lower prices because the president and various presidential candidates have become such enthusiasts for federal subsidies for ethanol and other alternative fuels. If these fuels threaten seriously to dampen demand for oil, the Saudis might increase production enough to drive down oil prices, in order to make investments — investors beware — in alternative fuels even more uneconomic than they already are.

In the 20 years from 1987 to 2006, Exxon Mobil invested more ($279 billion) than it earned ($266 billion). Five weeks after the company announced its 2006 earnings, it said it will invest $60 billion in oil and gas projects over the next three years. It will, unless a President Clinton and a Democratic-controlled Congress “take” Big Oil’s profits, which are much smaller than Big Government’s revenue from gasoline consumption.

Oil companies make about 13 cents on a gallon of gas. Government makes much more. The federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. Mrs. Clinton’s New York collects 42.4 cents a gallon. Forty-nine states — all but Alaska — make more than the oil companies do on every gallon.

In 1979 President Jimmy Carter, an early practitioner of the Oh, Woe! School of Planetary Analysis (today Al Gore is the dean of that school), said that oil wells were “drying up all over the world.” Not exactly.

In 1971, according to M.A. Adelman, an MIT economist, non-OPEC countries had remaining proven reserves of 200 billion barrels. After the next 33 years of global economic growth, Adelman says, those countries had produced 460 billion barrels and had 209 billion remaining. As for OPEC countries, in 1971 they had 412 billion in proven reserves; by 2004 they had produced 307 billion and had 819 billion remaining.

Note the adjective “proven.” In 1930, U.S. proven reserves were 13 billion barrels. Then we fought a global war, fueled the largest, most sustained economic expansion in human history, and achieved today’s electricity-powered “information economy.” Today, America’s proven reserves are about 30 billion barrels — not counting the perhaps 15 billion in the field discovered last year in deep water 175 miles off Louisiana’s coast.

America produces about one-quarter of the 20.6 million barrels of oil it uses a day. Unfortunately, just as liberals love employees but not employers, they want energy independence but do not want to drill in the “pristine” (read: desolate) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (potential yield: 10.4 billion barrels) and are reluctant to countenance drilling offshore.

Well, then, what can be done immediately about the gasoline “crisis” du jour? Americans could save 1.2 billion of the 130 billion gallons of gasoline they use a year if they would properly inflate their tires. And they might do that if ever “soaring” prices actually make gasoline unusually expensive.


April 5, 2007

 Ouch ! 

From the Austin Bay blog:

Secretary of State Nancy Pelosi’s Muddle Diplomacy

Excuse me, Speaker Pelosi.

Israel’s office of the prime minister insists Pelosi did not carry a “message of peace” to Damascus.

Pelosi is not ready for prime time. Her foreign trip, dear readers, is about her. Sure, it’s about domestic politics (upstaging President Bush, etc), but Pelosi is another me-generation politico who is rarely held responsible for “doing what suits her.”

To whit, the Haaretz report:

The Prime Minister’s Office was quick to issue a denial, stating that “what was discussed with the House speaker did not include any change in Israel’s policy, as it has been presented to international parties involved in the matter.”

In a special statement of clarification, the bureau stressed that Olmert had told Pelosi that Israel continued to regard Syria as “part of the axis of evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East.”

According to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office, “Pelosi took part of the things that were said in the meeting, and used what suited her.

The Assad regime is a vicious gang. A UN-sponsored prosecutor has assembled credible evidence of Syrian regime complicity in the murder of Lebanese priminister Rafik Hariri.

Speaker Pelosi is prancing and chatting up peace with the murderers.

Shuttle diplomacy? Muddle diplomacy.

The Washington Post isn’t impressed, either.

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “Israel was ready to engage in peace talks” with Syria. What’s more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. “We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,” she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. “What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel,” said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister’s office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that “a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel.” In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel’s position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad’s words were mere propaganda.

I suppose she can always blame Bush.

I doubt the NYDCLA Axis will turn on Pelosi, but this Washington Post editorial draws blood.

Its conclusion:

Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

That’s right.

However –Pelosi and her comrades took power in Washington on an anti-Bush agenda and this fool’s lark in the lion’s den is that anti-Bush agenda expressed in foreign policy.

It’s stupid. It’s vacuous.

It’s also stupid and vacuous in regards to Iraq.