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.”
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.
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.
Well, this is one of the strangest claims that we’ve seen in a while. A group of far-Left House Democrats are pushing a resolution that says that women are disproportionately affected by global warming to the point where they could be pushed into a “transactional sex” (or prostitution). That’s not a joke — they’re apparently serious:
Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to “transactional sex” for survival.
The resolution, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women.
“[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” it says.
Climate change could also add “workload and stresses” on female farmers, which the resolution says produce 60 to 80 percent of the food in developing countries.
Last week, President Barack Obama met separately with House and Senate Republicans where he was asked about the future of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was stalled early last year despite a State Department report showing that it posed no substantial environmental threat. President Obama was ambiguous about the pipeline, which would create thousands of new jobs, both direct and indirect.
Via Reason TV: Few energy projects have inspired the level of vitriol surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline, that would run 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada through the United States to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil sands of Alberta are estimated to hold 170 billion barrels of petroleum, the largest reservoir of black gold outside of Saudi Arabia.
Because the pipeline crosses an international boundary, President Barack Obama has the final say over whether to give the project a green light.
President Barack Obama will soon have a decision to make the Keystone XL pipeline. Given that this project would have a tremendous economic benefit to the country in terms of both job creation and taking a step toward energy independence, the decision shouldn’t be a tough one to make. Unfortunately, President has shot down Keystone once before to appease his radical environmentalist base, a decision that left even the Washington Post questioning his motives.
While environmentalists are firmly against the project, some labor unions spoke out in support of Keystone XL during a press conference yesterday at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM):
Matt Koch, Vice President for Oil Sands and Arctic Issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, pointed out that he heard from local chambers of commerce and small business owners who “understand the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline to American jobs and economic security.” Jobs will be created, tax revenue will increase, and energy supplies will be made more secure.
Jay Timmons, NAM President and CEO said approving Keystone XL is the action that would meet President Obama’s promise of an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
The Keystone XL pipeline is back in the news thanks to Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approving the new route proposed by TransCanada, the company that has spent the last few years trying to gain approval for the project.
Early last year, the Obama Administration rejected an application for the pipeline, which was obvious pandering to environmentalists who oppose its construction. The rejection of the application came despite a State Department report finding that there would be “limited adverse impact” in areas with which environementalists are concerned. However, President Obama did eventually back the southern part of the pipeline.
Shortly after the decision, The Washington Post editorial board slammed the Obama Administration over its rejection of the pipeline:
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rankings can be very useful tools, assuming the methodology is reasonable and the authors use robust data. I’ve cited many of them.
Written by Chip Knappenberger, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
There seems to be a noticeable murmur around town about a carbon tax—a tax on the amount of carbon dioxide that is released upon generating a unit of energy. Since fossil fuels—coal, oil, natural gas—are both the source of over 75% of our energy production and emitters of carbon dioxide when producing that energy, a carbon tax insures that the price of everything goes up.
There is one and only one justification for a carbon tax—an attempt to influence the future course of the earth’s climate (or, as some people prefer, to mitigate anthropogenic climate change) by trying to force down the emissions of the most abundant human-generated greenhouse gas.
But of all the things that a carbon tax will do (raise prices, increase bureaucracy, elect Tea Partiers, etc), mitigating anthropogenic climate change in any meaningful manner is not one of them.
The annual carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S., currently about 5,500 million metric tons per year, only contributes roughly 0.003°C/per year of warming pressure on global temperatures (see here for a handy way of making that calculation). So the best that a carbon tax could ever hope to achieve, climatically, would be to prevent this amount of warming each year by completely eliminating all carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S.