“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Amid Oil Price Drop, White House Vows Keystone Veto

cartoon-pipeline-obamasThe White House on Tuesday locked horns with congressional proponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, issuing a much-anticipated veto threat tied to legislation expected to land on President Obama’s desk this month.

The new Congress’s first clash of executive-legislative wills occurred as world petroleum prices plummeted below $50 a barrel. Flagging demand and a copious global supply are partially responsible for the cheap gas that has cheered consumers but rattled global financial markets.

As promised, Senate Republicans made Keystone their top priority on Tuesday, introducing legislation authorizing construction of the pipeline as their first bill of the 114th Congress.

When the House passed a similar bill in 2013, Obama issued a veto threat. Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said the president won’t hesitate to do it again. “I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it, either,” Earnest told reporters.

The fallacies and failings of consensus science

tectonic plates as mapped by WegenerGiven time and new data many seemingly “proven” scientific theories are shown to be…well just plain wrong. Others are shown to be only partially correct, and in need of significant modification. One striking modern example is the Geological Theory of Isostasy proposed in 1889 by American geologist Clarence Dutton.

This theory stated that less dense continental rocks (“Lithoshere”) floated on top of more dense ocean floor rocks (“Asthenosphere”). Isostasy was a buoyancy theory: continents were thought to be in gravitational balance with the underlying ocean rock layers which were theorized to extend under the continents.  

Until 1955 this theory was accepted as “proven” by all geologists, supported by large amounts of data, taught at all universities, and published in all major geological text books. During my early geological career it was the reining theory and no one even considered seriously challenging it. After all it was the “consensus theory”, fully supported by all respected Geologists.

Free the Land from the Feds

The federal government owns more than 623 million acres of land, mostly in the western states. The recent defense spending bill included designation of new National Parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Heritage areas. How much land is enough?

Most federal land is administered by four agencies: the Bureau of Land management, 258.2 million acres; the Forest Service, 193 million acres; the Fish & Wildlife Service, 93 million acres; and the National Park Service, 79 million acres. Other federal land ownership includes military bases and land held in trust for Indian reservations. The map below shows the concentration of federal lands in the west.

Western federa lands

The State of Utah wants 31.2 million acres of its land back. “In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the ‘Transfer of Public Lands Act,’ which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31, 2014.” (Washington Times) We are still awaiting the outcome of this probably quixotic endeavor. But it sets a precedent and more western states should take up the quest.

Current Events: Race to the Bottom Theory Belied

brownGov. Jerry BrownAccording to the “race to the bottom” thesis, unless the federal government intervenes, States would compete with one another to lower environmental standards in order to better attract industry. This proposition took hold in the mid-1970s, and was a major intellectual influence of the 1977 and 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

In a previous post, I summarized the work of law professors who argue that there’s no evidence—neither empirical nor theoretical—supporting the existence of a “race to the bottom.” In a similar vein, with this post, I intend only to highlight current events that militate heavily against the “race to the bottom theory.”

Today the New York Times has a story on page A-13, about California Governor Jerry Brown’s fourth inauguration speech, the centerpiece of which was his clean energy vision for the Golden State:

Oil Below $50 Tests Economics of U.S. Shale Boom

pricesWhen it comes to price predictions, few things have become as slippery as crude oil. The big economic shock of this year is likely to transmute into several big political stories in 2015 as the consequences of the collapse in oil prices unfold. Shale oil and gas are revolutionary. But their real impact will be to destabilise the once well-buffered global oil price system. --Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, 23 December 2014

The U.S. shale boom that’s brought the country closer to energy self-sufficiency than at any time since the 1980s will be challenged in 2015 as never before. The benchmark U.S. crude price fell below $50 today for the first time since April 2009. Some of the largest U.S. shale drillers have been spending money faster than they make it, borrowing to pay for their expansion. Current oil prices are “not a sustainable long-term trend,” said Warren Henry, a spokesman for Continental. --Asjylyn Loder, Bloomberg, 5 January 2015

Climate alarmists turn back the clock

london smogThree centuries ago, the world ran on green power.  Wood was used for heating and cooking; charcoal for smelting and smithing; wind or water power for pumps, mills, and ships; and whale oil for lamps.  People and soldiers walked or rode horses, and millions of horses and oxen pulled ploughs, wagons, coaches, and artillery.

But smoke from open fires choked cities, forests were stripped of trees, most of the crops went to feed draft animals, and streets were littered with horse manure.  For many people, life was “nasty, brutish and short.”

Then the steam engine was developed, and later the internal combustion engine, electricity, and refrigeration came along. Green power was replaced by coal and oil.  Carbon energy powered factories, mills, pumps, ships, trains, and smelters, and cars, trucks, and tractors replaced the workhorses.  The result was a green revolution – forests began to regrow, and vast areas of cropland used for horse feed were released to produce food for humans.  Poverty declined, and population soared.

2014: Another Year Without Global Warming

lord christopher moncktonLord Christopher MoncktonThere are now 219 months with no significant upward temperature trend, according to an analysis of satellite data, which is more than half the 432-month satellite temperature record.

Climate scientists sounded the alarm last year that 2014 was on track to be the hottest year on record. The Japan Meteorological Agency, in fact, declared 2014 year the hottest on record, but only by only 0.05 degrees Celsius.

“The Great Pause is a growing embarrassment to those who had told us with ‘substantial confidence’ that the science was settled and the debate over,” writes Christopher Monckton, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and a climate skeptic. ”Nature had other ideas.”

RSS Data Rubbishes Hottest Year Claims

RSS satellite data is now published for December, and confirms that global atmospheric temperatures for 2014 are nowhere near the record being touted by NOAA and NASA.


The anomaly for the year has finished at 0.256C, which ties with 2007 as only the sixth warmest year since 1979. Not only that, but last year was well below the record set in 1998, and also 2010.

Big Business Explains Continuing Gasps of Discredited Green Movement

Liberal BillionairesJust a few of the members in the Billionaire's ClubAlthough man-made global warming has been thoroughly exposed as an embarrassing scam, the green movement is strangely expanding, not retreating. A member of Congress privately told me this is because the green movement is completely driven by money, not idealism. The rhetoric about saving the earth is nothing more than propaganda to pad the pockets of the one percent at the top who are profiting from it.

Last year, a committee in the U.S. Senate conducted an investigation and discovered that a handful of radical left-wing billionaires, millionaires and their foundations are behind the green movement. Contrary to the misperception manufactured about left-wing causes, the environmentalist movement is made up of mostly wealthy - not to mention white and male - Americans and Europeans who stand to make a profit from draconian regulations. This shouldn't be any surprise, considering the average American cannot afford a green lifestyle. These one percenters have gone to great lengths to keep their involvement hidden from the public, to avoid exposure of the movement as a "Billionaire's Club."

Polar Ice Caps More Stable Than Predicted, New Observations Show

global sea ice extent chartThe North and South Poles are “not melting”, according to a leading global warming expert. In fact, the poles are “much more stable” than climate scientists once predicted and could even be much thicker than previously thought. For years, scientists have suggested that both poles are melting at an alarming rate because of warming temperatures – dangerously raising the Earth’s sea levels while threatening the homes of Arctic and Antarctic animals. But the uncertainty surrounding climate change and the polar ice caps reached a new level this month when research suggested the ice in the Antarctic is actually growing. --Levi Winchester, Daily Express, 25 December 2015

Regarding Oil Exports, Sen. Schumer Confounds during Face the Nation Interview

agw statsAs is almost always the case, the Sunday morning political talkies omitted mention of climate change, the greatest, most terrible, apocalyptic threat of all time. All four of the major show did, however, give extension mention to the Keystone XL Pipeline, either during direct interviews (e.g., with Sen. John Barrasso on NBC’s Meet the Press) or in group segments (a la ABC This Week’s Powerhouse Roundtable). Of all the Keystone mentions, the most perplexing was lent by Sen. Charles Schumer, on CBS’s Face the Nation. Below, I’ve punched up a transcript of the pertinent exchange. And at the bottom of this blog, I’ve reposted video of the entire interview.

Bob Schieffer: We understand the first thing the Republicans are going to do is pass Keystone XL legislation…what do you see happening there?

Oil glut saved Obama from himself

oilGasoline prices are on the verge of crashing down to below $2 a gallon nationally (and are well below that in Albuquerque now). The price of oil may dip below $50 a barrel.

Even with renewed demand from a global economic resurgence, energy prices continue to fall. The U.S. has suddenly become the world’s largest combined producer of oil and natural gas.

That fact – along with a desire to weaken hostile Iran and Russia – has prompted the oil-rich Gulf sheikdoms to keep pumping oil even as the price falls. In their game of petro-chicken, the desperate sheiks hope that either their poorer enemies will run out of cash, or that fracking in the U.S. will become unprofitable and cease.

Everyone seems to have forgotten about “peak oil” – the catchphrase of the new millennium.