David Attenborough: Soylent Green is made out of people

Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

According to Sir David Attenborough, the famous British broadcaster and naturalist, “humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.” In a recent interview, Attenborough said that “the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.”

We are a plague on the Earth,” he continued. “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now… We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there.

In 2006, Sir David Attenborough was voted Britain’s greatest living icon. Popularity, however, is no substitute for wisdom. As I have explained in a previous blog post, “[The] rate of global population growth has slowed. And it’s expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts’ best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today. And then it will fall… the long-dreaded resource shortage may turn out not to be a problem at all.”

Obama’s decision to release oil from reserve is too little too late

I was puzzled by the recent news that PresBO has decided to release 30 million barrels of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and several days later, my confusion remains despite reading a number of articles addressing this surprising move.  It occurs to me that it is just indicative of the current administration’s leadership strategy, which is frankly equal parts reactionary and political, but always misguided.

So here are my thoughts on this current attempt to ease the high prices Americans are facing at the gas pump…

First, this move is too little too late.  The fact is oil prices were at their peak around April of 2011 and have been steadily declining over the last few months so that prices were already easing slightly.  So why release this oil now?  Particularly when we are in the beginning days of hurricane season, and we realize how beneficial it is to have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), for example, in the days following Hurricane Katrina, when supply was majorly disrupted.  So, instead of maintaining the SPR until a real crisis occurs, the President has opted to release 30 million barrels of the Reserve for seeming little more that earning political brownie points with the American people.

Tax What We Burn, Not What We Earn

I am generally against most all government activities in the marketplace, especially those that involve social micromanagement; however, there is one idea that started on the left and has been making its way through the libertarian sphere that has some good potential. I am talking about a revenue neutral carbon tax, one which reduces or completely replaces other taxes such as payroll, income, capital gains/dividends, etc.

Global warming alarmist Al Gore doesn’t actually care about coal investors’ losses

Al Gore has made a pretty healthy living by fear-mongering about global warming. He’s written books and starred in a “documentary” about the subject and he’s invested heavily in green technology, an industry that is subsidized by the federal government (read: taxpayers). The former vice president has also won a Nobel Prize for his activism.

Gore took a different angle to his fear-mongering last week. Rather than play up the Hollywood-style apocalyptic effects of global warming, he candidly explained to coal investors that want may want to divest because they stand to lose money in the long-run:

In a Financial Times column Gore argues that it would be smart to divest from coal “for purely financial reasons,” setting aside the harmful impact he says it has on the environment.

Today in Liberty: Intel agencies conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications, Halbig case could gut Obamacare

“I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone. If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?” — Bruce Willis

Obama’s disastrous EPA rules could mean that he’s already conceded that Democrats will lose the Senate

Politico published a long piece on Sunday that shed some light on President Barack Obama’s state of mind now that he’s realized that his time in the White House is running out. The story is full of interesting insights from people close to or with knowledge of how the White House functions and reacts to the headaches that have arisen over the last year.

One of the more telling parts of the story was a comment President Obama made in November during a meeting with vulnerable Senate Democrats amid the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov (emphasis added):

According to several participants, [Alaska Sen. Mark] Begich and his colleagues demanded to know how committed Obama was to fighting for the Senate majority. Obama was known as a fierce competitor when his name was on the ballot, not so much when it was not.

“I don’t really care to be president without the Senate,’’ Obama said, according to attendees, signaling that he knew the health care debacle created resentment among Democrats and that he wanted to make amends.

King Obama’s insane backdoor cap and trade scheme could put vulnerable Senate Democrats out of a job

The Obama administration is about to launch another attack in its war on coal. President Barack Obama is set to announce another round of EPA regulations next week that will curb carbon emissions from coal-fired plants. Because, you know, that whole Legislative Branch thing in the Constitution is just a suggestion:

President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent, according to people familiar with his plans, which will spur the creation of a state cap-and-trade program forcing industry to pay for the carbon pollution it creates.
Cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent — a substantial amount — would be the most important step in the administration’s pledged goal to reduce pollution over the next six years and could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. The regulation would have far more impact on the environment than the Keystone pipeline, which many administration officials consider a political sideshow, and is certain to be met with opposition from Republicans who say that Mr. Obama will be using his executive authority as a back door to force through an inflammatory cap-and-trade policy he could not get through Congress.

Keystone XL delay puts Democratic Party ahead of national interest

Barack Obama

The State Department announced on Friday afternoon that it will extend the review period on the proposed northern route of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, citing “on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state.”

“The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the Department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the Permit application,” the State Department stated in the release, adding that it “will give the agencies sufficient time to submit their views.”

The State Department and other federal agencies are determining whether the TransCananda-backed Keystone XL pipeline is in the United States’ “national interest.” The new northern route, proposed after President Barack Obama rejected the original track, was submitted in September 2012.

The State Department didn’t give any indication of how long agencies need to assess Keystone XL, which has already been extensively studied. State recently concluded that pipeline would have little impact on the environment, also noting that alternatives would result in higher carbon emissions.

Some observers have already surmised that a decision on the pipeline may not come until after the 2014 mid-term election.

Senate Democrats’ “talkathon” more about cronyism than climate change

Senate Democrats will begin an all-night “talkathon” later today and into Tuesday morning to try to raise congressional awareness to climate change, what USA Today describes as the first of many steps to put the issue on the radar before the 2014 mid-term election.

This charade really is more of a nod to big Democratic Party donors who would benefit from policies aimed at combating climate change, as Byron York explains. In short, it’s is another example of cronyism:

President Obama’s Disregard for the Law

Recently, a court ruling invalidated the Keystone XL oil pipeline’s route through Nebraska, putting off the decision on the continuation of the project, which might not happen until the midterm elections.

Before the court ruling, Obama was expected to decide whether the project should be carried out by spring. The pipeline project has been delayed for the five years President Obama spent in office.

Recent reports show that the State Department deemed the project safe, considering that the pipeline set to transport more than 800,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta through United States heartland to Gulf Coast refineries, wouldn’t have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Phil Kerpen, from American Commitment, reminded us during a conference organized by the Franklin Center the past weekend that President Obama has continually warned the public that he will veto the pipeline if he considers the project harmful to our climate.

According to Kerpen, President Obama’s willingness to work around Congress has translated into a gap increase between what the President wants and what Americans want. The President’s tendency to drag the decision regarding the construction of the pipeline could be linked to the wrath of environmentalists and coalitions willing to invest heavily against the project and anybody who supports it. The decision might be put off still for some time, precisely because we are in the middle of an election year, putting President Obama in a delicate position whether he chooses to approve the project or not.

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