Of all the creatures on this planet, only one is capable of significant abstract reasoning. Yet, all too frequently, he surrenders his intellectual capabilities to his animal instincts. Our ability to reason gives us capabilities to understand and adapt to the world around us. We live better and happier lives as a consequence. But in a generation, we have turned the clock back toward a time when politics and religion ruled the day over reason and science, and most people were poor. We called it the “Dark Ages.”
This rejection of reason is so pervasive today that we need not look far for examples. Here are two relevant to our region.
One of the major recycling programs across the USA and indeed across the world is facing collapse, because China no longer wants to buy scrap plastic. That might seem unimportant in a world with major problems, but in Oregon it demonstrates our inability to deal with reality.
Peter Spendelow who runs the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s recycling programs pretends that China no longer wants our mountains of low grade scrap plastic, because it is insufficiently clean. Yes, it was all your fault for not washing out that last peanut butter jar!
In a state where recycling is part of the politics and religion, you are supposed to politely ask how the DEQ plans to continue transforming used peanut butter jars into new ones. Their answer will always be to “Trust us, we will find a way to solve this problem.” Never mind that the Chinese were unable to find a reasonable way with their much cheaper labor. If cost is no object, Oregon can accomplish anything with your tax dollars!
Spendelow should have explained that China is taking a new approach to acquire the raw plastic she needs for her industries. She has quietly stepped up purchases of high grade American polypropylene that we manufacture very economically from ‘fracked’ natural gas. The shale gas revolution over the last decade has opened up many exciting possibilities for American industry to compete successfully in the global economy.
As Bloomberg reported: “Exporting high-value resins to China instead of cheap scrap could help chip away at the U.S.’s $250 billion trade deficit with the nation — a goal that has been on the top of President Donald Trump’s agenda.”
If Oregon were reasonable, she would embrace the change that will significantly reduce pollution in China and separately deal with our scrap plastic by incinerating it to generate electricity. That is what we already do with other waste. It would leave the recycling to Mother Nature who routinely turns carbon dioxide into a vast array of new life.
Yet you will never see that here, because Oregon relentlessly rejects rational solutions that conflict with the climate religion.
Climate Scam and Carbon Tax
No topic can compete with the climate scam for a total embrace of superstition and politics over reason and science. No public questioning is allowed, because if it were, the carbon dioxide paradigm would collapse overnight. The 97% claimed agreement is really 97% agreement among scientists that we are NOT facing a climate catastrophe. A little warming, more or less, is the real point of disagreement. No competent scientist supports the media hype about a catastrophe, because as the former President of the US National Academy of Science Ralph Cicerone admitted, “We don’t have that kind of evidence.”
But this has not stopped the ruling political elites here in Oregon and Washington from proposing carbon taxes as a solution to a problem that does not exist. Such great assaults on reason come not only from the ruling class but also from their fellow travelers. The nonsense gets piled many layers deep, often by people who should know better but are blinded by radical ideology.
I’m specifically thinking of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (WPSR), a group that recently published a propaganda piece backing Washington Governor Inslee’s call for a carbon tax. What is especially astounding is that the physicians pretended expertise in climate science, economics, and renewable energy, in addition to medicine. They tell us that we need a carbon tax to stop the temperature and seas from rising, the forest fires from burning, and “carbon pollution” from harming our health! Renewable energy and electric cars are said to be the answer to all the evils of a fossil fuel driven economy.
Scientists are supposed to be competent in the subjects they discuss and devoted to the ‘Utter Honesty’ essential in science. WPSR are clearly not. Let me count the ways:
1) The greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and water vapor) generated by burning fossil fuels are the benign byproducts of our civilization. They are completely harmless in the concentrations we encounter. Attempts to demonize them as toxic are complete nonsense.
2) More carbon dioxide clearly benefits the greening of the earth and the vegetable production that the physicians think is important for human health. They should know that plants use CO2 from the air to produce ALL the vegetables we eat. Whether that CO2 comes from fossil fuel or from our breathing, it makes no difference. Plants like it all. Since the present concentration of CO2 is near the low necessary for plants to grow, they prefer higher concentrations. Farmers who grow tomatoes in greenhouses have found that they get a better crop if they triple the CO2 to 1,200 ppmv.
3) “Social responsibility” demands that we care about the poorest of the poor around the world who can now find enough to eat thanks to Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug and his spectacular “Green Revolution.” This “Green Revolution” is not a cheap political slogan but an apt description of what Borlaug achieved with better seeds and enhanced atmospheric CO2. We would not be able to feed the last billion of the seven billion people on this planet if it were not for the real Green Revolution. NASA has literally seen a greening of our planet from space.
4) Despite WPSR claims, sea level is not rising significantly along the US West Coast, because the tiny overall rise of 0.9 mm/year (four inches per century) is compensated by a rising coastline, due to plate tectonics. Furthermore, the major sources of the small rise (Greenland and Antarctica) are hardly melting at all. It dropped to -75 F on the Greenland icecap in February, according to the National Science Foundation.
5) The Global Temperature Anomaly went down significantly in January as the El Nino of 2016 gave way to its opposite, a La Nina. In fact, this drop involved the third largest monthly temperature drop in the tropics in the 470 month NASA satellite record. While those without scientific training see warming everywhere, real scientists know that there is no clear climate signature from rising atmospheric CO2. NONE! That means that carbon taxes and associated expenditures are doomed to failure. Mother Nature will keep varying the climate as she always has. We are small actors in the climate drama.
6) Wind and solar “clean energy” are anything but clean and renewable, because it takes very inefficient backup from fossil fuels to keep the lights on when renewables are unable to pump electrons. Add to this the vast carnage that rotating blades are visiting upon birds and bats and the vast damage from growing corn-ethanol and palm oil for bio-fuel, and we have a monumental ecological disaster unfolding.
7) Carbon taxes have not worked anywhere. Why should they work here? British Columbia has had these taxes for a decade and their gasoline usage has gone down about as much as it has gone up in the USA along the border. Overall carbon usage is down about 2% but now rising faster than population. Contrast that with the USA, where our carbon footprint is down 19%, due to technology not taxes.
8) Carbon taxes raise the price of everything. That hurts those with the fewest resources more than the rest of us and considerably more than physicians with much above average incomes. The poor need a chance, not welfare. Forcing businesses like Boeing out of Seattle is an enormous setback for the working man.
Of course, rational arguments fall on deaf ears in communities determined to follow the climate prophets into a new Dark Age. If we continue on this downward spiral, we not only put our country, our people, and our prosperity at risk but also our science and our liberty.
Gordon J. Fulks lives in Corbett and can be reached at email@example.com. He holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Northwest Connection)