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Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’

Protested pipeline parallels existing pipeline

Posted by Richard on September 9, 2016

Protesters rallied at the State Capitol in Denver last night in solidarity with the lawsuit and violent protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists against the Dakota Access pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux claim the pipeline will “disturb sacred sites” and its passage under the Missouri River will imperil their drinking water. In addition to the above-linked article about the rally, the Denver Post published an Associated Press “explainer” purporting to tell us what we need to know about the pipeline and the protests. But that “explainer” omitted some information critical to putting the claims of the protesters into perspective.

Rob Port of the Say Anything blog actually read through the 1206-page report on which the Corps of Engineers based their approval of the Dakota Access pipeline. He learned something interesting from a graphic on page 1008 (emphasis added):

Before reading this report I had no idea there was another pipeline already running through this area, but there is. It’s called the Northern Border Pipeline. It’s a natural gas line built all the way back in 1982, and the Dakota Access Pipeline follows it often, including through the areas currently being disputed by protesters.

This is no mere coincidence. I spoke with Justin Kringstad at the ND Pipeline Authority who told me that the Dakota Access line “generally follows the same corridor” as the Northern Border line, and that this sort of thing is “not uncommon.” It can be easier to get easements and regulatory approval for a pipeline built where another pipeline has already gone through.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak also told me that the Dakota Access line “tried to follow wherever possible the Northern Border pipeline.”

The two routes aren’t exact, but through the area where pipeline construction has sparked violent protests the two lines run side by side according to Energy Transfer Partners.

Digging into the history of the Northern Border pipeline’s approval, Port learned that the Standing Rock Sioux, who now claim that the new pipeline will “disturb sacred sites,” had no such objection (in fact, no objection of any kind) to the building of the Northern Border pipeline along the same route.

The attempts to stop the Dakota Access pipeline aren’t really about sacred lands or water quality; those are just cover stories. This is just another battle in the leftist/environmentalist war on fossil fuels (and thus on affordable energy and economic growth).

This is another example of a blogger doing what the journalists reporting the story failed to do: dig into the facts to determine how credible the claims they’re reporting are. Most journalists today can’t be bothered with that, except maybe for whatever Trump says. Certainly not for whatever claims their environmentalist and leftist allies make. Those are simply accepted without question. These aren’t real journalists, they’re just leftist/environmentalist PR flacks.

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Celebrate human achievement tonight!

Posted by Richard on March 28, 2015

Tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30 in your time zone, the anti-technology, anti-human eco-crazies want you to celebrate their “Earth Hour” by turning off all your lights and appliances, huddling in the dark to atone for your “sins” against Gaia. As Edward Hudgins pointed out:

But this is another way of saying that we humans are actually a burden on the Earth. We don’t belong. We should apologize and feel guilty for every blade of grass we step on, every tree we cut down to build our homes, every bit of food we eat—in other words, we should feel guilty of our own existence. Of course, Earth Hour is wrapped up in touchy-feely theatrics to the effect that turning off our lights expresses our caring about “Gaia” without requiring us to actually think about what values we are actually accepting.

When a blackout occurs because of a storm or some other cause, when the lights, refrigerator, AC, heat, computers, and TVs go out, we don’t cheer, we curse the darkness. Earth Hour asks us to bring a curse down upon ourselves.

I hope you’ll join me instead in celebrating the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Human Achievement Hour. Turn on lots of lights, play music, watch TV, get on the computer, call friends — in other words, use energy. And celebrate all the wonderful ways in which cheap, readily available energy and technological innovation in general — the products of human achievement — have improved human existence.

I plan to spend the hour creating the largest carbon footprint I possibly can without burning down something.

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Green energy insanity

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

If you asked a bunch of economists to name the dumbest green energy idea, most would probably say it’s the ethanol mandate. Half the US corn crop is now turned into ethanol and poured into our gas tanks, causing the price of corn to more than double. That in turn has driven up food prices. Beef and pork are up almost 10% in just the past year. Other foods have become more expensive as well, as more and more acreage has been diverted from other crops to the more profitable corn. And of course, as with all green energy programs, we’re paying more for the energy we use. The effect here in the US is that we’re all made a little poorer. The effect on the world’s truly poor is much worse.

The idea is so bad that even environmentalists have turned against it, since it’s now clear that growing corn, turning it into ethanol, and blending it with gasoline actually produces more CO2 than just using gasoline alone. The only people left who like the idea are the ruling class Republicans and Democrats in Washington — it’s a combination of corporate welfare, crony socialism, and bureaucratic control of the economy that appeals to their basest instincts.

But as bad as the ethanol mandate is, now there’s something even dumber. The Brits have come up with a green energy project that’s so crazy-stupid it’s hard to believe. They’re going to clear-cut forests in North Carolina, turn the hundred-year-old trees into wood pellets, and ship a million metric tons of these wood pellets per year across the Atlantic to a power plant in Yorkshire, England. Where they’ll be burned to produce electricity. In place of coal.

Does it need to be pointed out that this insane idea will significantly increase the amount of CO2 produced by the power plant (20% more than burning coal, twice as much as natural gas)? And that the electricity produced will be far, far more expensive?

Presumably, the coal being displaced comes from nearby, perhaps Wales. What will become of it? Well, either less coal will be mined, and thus fewer miners employed, or the coal that the Brits can’t bring themselves to use will be loaded aboard ships and sent to someplace where green energy mania has not yet reached such heights — or is it depths? North Carolinians, Britons, and the planet will all be worse off.

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Revisiting the first Earth Day

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

On this Earth Day, Mark J. Perry looked back at the apocalyptic predictions made around the first Earth Day in 1970. Describing them as “spectacularly wrong” seems like an understatement. If even a few of the 18 he cites had come true, third-world populations would have plummeted, countless westerners would have been killed by pollution, most of the world’s plants and animals would be extinct, and the human race would be well on its way extinction as well. Oh, and Canadians would be fleeing south to escape the advancing ice sheets that would eventually make much of the northern hemisphere uninhabitable.

Instead, the Norman Borlaugh-led “green revolution” (yes, genetically modified organisms) virtually eliminated famine everywhere except where strife and government policies create it. Modest market reforms in India, China, and a handful of other places have lifted well over a billion people out of poverty. Life expectancies have gone up. As Julian Simon predicted, all the resources that the doomsayers said we were running out of have become cheaper and more abundant. And increasing wealth has made the environment much cleaner, as it always does.

But that doesn’t stop today’s Cassandras from making dire predictions about the grim fate that awaits us over the next 44 years. You can just as safely laugh at them as at the predictions from 1970.

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EPA uses judicial jiu jitsu to expand its powers

Posted by Richard on August 17, 2012

Suppose you’re the Obama administration’s EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and suppose you wish the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act gave you more powers than they actually give you. You could go back to Congress and propose that they amend the legislation to expand your powers. Or instead, you could just circumvent the law like this:

  1. Get your friends in the environmental movement (like the Sierra Club, where disgraced former EPA employee Alfredo Armendariz now works) to sue the EPA for failing to do something that the law doesn’t allow it to do.
  2. “Negotiate” with the suing environmental group and enter into a “consent agreement” with them in which the EPA agrees to impose the extra-legal regulations that the environmental group asked for.
  3. Get the judge in the lawsuit (who’s probably in on the scam, since the plaintiff chose the jurisdiction with an eye on who the judges are) to sign the consent decree, since the parties to the suit are “in agreement.”

Shazam! Now the EPA has the power to impose regulations that the laws passed by Congress don’t give them!

This is how the coal industry is being destroyed — among others. This is how the Obama administration is subverting the rule of law, thumbing its nose at Congress, and expanding its ability to rule by executive decree.

The only thing left to do is to stonewall FOIA requests that might uncover the collusion with the environmental groups. See this NetRight Daily post by Rick Manning for more details.

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Malaria breakthrough

Posted by Richard on July 18, 2012

If this pans out, it could be the most important breakthrough in the fight against malaria since the introduction of DDT, saving literally millions of lives:

Researchers report they have found a way to kill malaria in mosquitoes by genetically modifying a bacterium commonly found in the insect’s mid-gut, according to a new study.

The bacterium, called Pantoea agglomerans, can be modified to secrete proteins that are toxic to the malaria parasite, but are not harmful to humans or the mosquito itself.  In fact, the bacterium is so specific to targeting malaria that it does not even affect other bacteria in the mosquito’s gut, according to the researchers from Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, who conducted the study.

Of course, it will be bitterly opposed by the same luddite environmentalists who got DDT banned 40 years ago — and thus sentenced tens of millions of inhabitants of tropical regions (mostly Africans) to death.

There are some 300 to 500 million reported cases of malaria each year, 90% occurring in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about two and a half million people die of the disease each year, again, mostly in Africa, the majority of them poor children. Indeed, malaria is the second leading cause of death in Africa (after AIDS) and the number one killer of children there (with about one child being lost to malaria every thirty seconds). Many medical historians believe malaria has killed more people than any other disease in history, including the Black Plague, and may have contributed to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Malaria was common in places as far north as Boston and England until the twentieth century. Two thirds of the world lived in malaria-ridden areas prior to the 1940s.

That devastation all but stopped during the time that DDT use was widespread, around 1950-1970. Indeed, the discovery that DDT could kill malarial mosquitoes earned Dr. Paul Müller the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1948. DDT, a chemical pesticide synthesized by Müller in the late 1930s, was initially used against houseflies, beetles, various farm pests, and typhus-carrying lice on the bodies of World War II soldiers and civilians. America and England soon became the major producers of the chemical, using it to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes, especially in tropical regions.

In all, DDT has been conservatively credited with saving some 100 million lives.

… In what is now Sri Lanka, malaria cases went from 2,800,000 in 1948, before the introduction of DDT, down to 17 in 1964 — then, tragically, back up to 2,500,000 by 1969, five years after DDT use was discontinued there.

Read the whole thing.

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About that High Park fire

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2012

The High Park fire in the mountainous regions west of Fort Collins, CO, actually began with a lightning strike last Wednesday, according to the experts. But it smoldered unnoticed until Saturday morning when increasing winds caused it to flare up and be noticed. At that time, it covered 2 acres.

By late Saturday afternoon, it had burned an estimated 5,000 acres. Some climbers on the summit of Longs Peak recorded this video of the smoke plume (along with a nice shot of a marmot):

[YouTube link]

By Sunday evening, the fire had consumed 20,000 acres. As of early Monday evening, it was 41,000+ acres, the third-largest fire in recorded Colorado history. Over 2,000 residences have been evacuated, one resident is believed dead, and over 120 structures are known to have been destroyed. In a poignant moment described by Gov. John Hickenlooper, firefighters trying to protect the historic Prairie Stove School in the path of the flames looked up the hill to see their own homes being consumed by the flames.

So how did this fire grow so incredibly fast? The news media, the governor, and the experts talked mostly about the dry spring, low humidity, and high winds. Those are certainly major factors. As usual, some people will blame “climate change.” But I think there are two other major culprits: insects and environmentalists. The former are mentioned in passing, the latter are never mentioned.

The pine bark beetle began invading and killing Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests back in the 1990s. By 2008, it was estimated to have infested 1.5 million acres, including the portions of Larimer County west of Fort Collins that were hit by two smaller fires (5-6,000 acres) earlier this spring and are now being devastated by the High Park fire. By last fall, the estimate was up to 3 million acres.

Since early in the beetle epidemic, logging companies have offered proposals to cut dead and infested trees in order to limit spread of the beetle and reduce the risk of massive dead-tree-fueled wildfires. They’ve had some limited success in getting permission for such cutting, but have been opposed by environmentalists every step of the way. The environmental groups insist that letting the beetles kill the trees is natural, letting the dead trees stand is natural, but letting human beings cut them down, remove them, and turn them into construction lumber or pellet stove fuel is unnatural. To radical environmentalists, anything that non-humans do is natural and anything that humans do is unnatural — to them, we humans are, unlike all other living creatures, not a part of nature.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost their homes and to the family of apparent victim Linda Steadman. But although it may sound cruel, I have to say to those residents of the area who were members of Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, and similar groups: You helped bring this onto yourselves. You chose to value pine bark beetles and the “naturalness” of dead trees more than the needs of humans. You have reaped what you have sown.

There are millions more acres of dead lodgepole pines in Colorado. Many more of those acres will, IMHO, go up in flames in the future. Because radical environmentalists have prevented them from being harvested.

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Al “crucify them” Armendariz resigns

Posted by Richard on April 30, 2012

Last week, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) released a video in which EPA administrator Al Armendariz talked about crucifying oil and gas companies. According to Christopher Helman at Forbes, the EPA tried just that with Fort Worth’s Range Resources until a federal court slapped them down.

Armendariz’s apology didn’t quiet the furor over his remarks, so over the weekend he was apparently persuaded to spend more time with his family:

The EPA Region 6 administrator who boasted of his “crucify them” philosophy of enforcement for oil and gas producers has resigned from his post at EPA. Al Armendariz announced Monday that he had submitted a letter of resignation Sunday.

Prior to his resignation the EPA administrator had more than half of the representatives from the states contained within Region 6 calling for his ouster.

(Region 6 includes Texas and the surrounding states, the heart of America’s oil and gas industry.)

Sen. Inhofe wasn’t satisfied by Armendariz’s resignation:

The ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works said that while it was right for Al Armendariz to resign in the wake of his comments positively comparing oil and gas regulation enforcement to Roman crucifixions, the EPA, under President Barack Obama, still has a problem with how it treats America’s energy producers.

“It is not just Armendariz. There are a lot of other Armendarizes around,” Inhofe told TheDC, explaining the problem has not been solved with the Region 6 administrator’s exit.

“We watch these guys. We get the complaints from people who are being run out of business by the EPA, and he’s one but there are several others also,” he said.

I’d wager a pretty penny that Armendariz is replaced by someone just as dedicated to the Obama administration’s War on Fossil Fuels, but more circumspect about what’s said in public.

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Maest dropped from EPA conference, AFP protest still on

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2012

The out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency is holding a conference in Denver to “examine and discuss current and future environmental issues which provide opportunities for efficient resource extraction, mine closure, and for the remediation of abandoned mines.” One of the featured speakers, Boulder’s Ann Maest, has withdrawn (or was eased out) in the wake of strong criticism over her inclusion.

Maest is a defendant in a RICO lawsuit by Chevron. She and her cohorts allegedly fabricated evidence and intimidated judges in furtherance of a lawsuit against Chevron’s operations in the Amazon and then lied to cover up their wrongdoing. The evidence against them appears to be strong.

Of course, the EPA has simply replaced her on the program with one of her co-conspirators against Chevron.

The Americans for Prosperity “Occupy the EPA: Give Red Tape a Rest” rally is still on, despite Maes’ departure from the conference program. It will take place at noon Wednesday at the conference site, the Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street. If you’re not busy working for a living many miles away (like I am, unfortunately), why don’t you join them? For quite some time, but especially under Obama, the EPA has done more to strangle our economy than just about any other agency.

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Celebrate Human Achievement Hour

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2012

A few years ago, the World Wildlife Fund came up with an annual event called Earth Hour, when Gaia-worshipping idiots around the world who think the planet would be better off if the Industrial Revolution had never occurred turn off their lights “to reduce energy consumption and draw attention to the dangers of climate change.”

For several years (when I’ve remembered it), I’ve marked Earth Hour by maximizing my energy consumption to celebrate the Industrial Revolution, progress, modernity, and technology. This year, Earth Hour starts at 8:30 PM (in whatever time zone you’re in) on Saturday, March 31st. I’ll turn on every light, appliance, and electronic device in the house.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has a similar idea. Instead of Earth Hour, they’re going to celebrate Human Achievement Hour:

Human Achievement Hour (HAH) is a celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. To celebrate Human Achievement Hour, participants need only to spend the hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on March 31 enjoying the benefits of capitalism and human innovation: Gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, or listen to music.

You can also utilize one of man’s greatest achievements, the Internet, to join CEI’s in-house party, which will live stream right here at beginning at 8:00 pm EST. You can use the chat function to tell us how you are celebrating human achievement in your neighborhood

I hope you’ll join me and the fine folks at CEI in celebrating human achievement on Saturday night. As I’ve stated before, “My ancestors didn’t survive the Black Plague and Dark Ages, create the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, and bring about the past two hundred years of astonishing scientific and technological progress so that we could huddle in the dark.”

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Just the fracks, ma’am

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2012

Casey Research has published an excellent essay by Marin Katusa that explains the technology behind hydraulic fracturing (AKA fracking), its benefits, and its drawbacks (and how they’re being addressed). Katusa debunks many of the claims made in the “frac-bashing” documentary, Gasland, including the nonsense about all the “deadly chemicals” in frac fluids:

Allowing for variance among companies and operations, fracking fluid is typically a bit under 91% water and 9% sand. Tiny amounts of added chemicals reduce friction, fight microbes, control pH, and prevent corrosion of equipment. Many are found around the house, including guar gum (in ice cream), borate salts (a fungicide), and mineral oil. And yes, there are 596 ingredients that have at some point been used to make frac fluids, but any single fracturing job uses only a few of the available options.

Even the 0.44% of added chemicals in typical frac fluid is about to become a non-issue:

Another way to ease the problem of frac fluids spills or leaks is to make frac fluids so benign that we could literally drink them. It sounds pie-in-the-sky, but the world’s second-largest oilfield services company is working hard on the idea. In fact, Halliburton (NYSE.HAL) has created a frac fluid called CleanStim, made from materials sourced from the food industry. A Halliburton executive showed the stuff at a recent conference – and then tossed it down his gullet.

Read the whole thing to learn much more about fracking — including how it may just prevent big earthquakes.

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Canada, Keystone XL, and national insanity

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2012

When President Obama nixed the Keystone XL pipeline project, Robert Samuelson called it “an act of national insanity.” Besides the several reasons Samuelson cites for why this decision was idiotic, there’s the fact that it isn’t even going to stop the project.

The company behind it, TransCanada Corp., said in effect, “Just because we’ve got Canada in our name doesn’t mean the pipeline has to begin in Canada, eh?” So they’re looking at a slightly shorter version, running from Montana to the Gulf. It would carry oil from the Bakken field. And since it wouldn’t cross borders, it wouldn’t require federal approval:

The Bakken shale-rock formation is estimated to hold as much as 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in North Dakota and Montana, according to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report. Oil production in North Dakota surged 42 percent to 510,000 barrels a day in November, exceeding the output of Ecuador.

Production in the Bakken field may reach 750,000 barrels a day this year, Edward Morse, managing director of commodities research for Citigroup Inc., said at a conference in Calgary today.

The original Keystone XL plan was based on carrying up to 830,000 barrels a day, so the Bakken output alone may be plenty to make the project economically feasible. TransCanada can always ask for approval to extend it into Alberta later, perhaps after there is a less insane administration in Washington.

For a look at what some of our neighbors to the north think of Washington’s idiocy, check out this excellent video commentary by Ezra Levant:

[YouTube link]

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Relocating D.C. rats

Posted by Richard on January 16, 2012

In the District of Columbia, pest control companies can no longer kill (unless “no other options are feasible,” whatever that means) various vertebrate pests, including squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and some species of rats and mice. Instead, they must trap the critters alive, preferably in “family units,” and relocate them.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has no compunction about breaking up Mexican “family units,” but rat “family units” in D.C. need to be kept intact. PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk declarated that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” But it’s long been clear from their actions and pronouncements that the animal rights crowd thinks rats and other non-domesticated creatures deserve more consideration than pigs or dogs, and far more than boys.

The District of Columbia’s Wildlife Protection Act of 2010 (PDF) took effect last year, and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli thinks it’s just ridiculous:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he is worried that a new District of Columbia law that governs how pest control operators must handle rats may result in entire rodent “families” being relocated across the Potomac River into Virginia by D.C. pest control personnel.

Lately, there have been reports of growing rat infestations around the Occupy DC protests at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square.

While the law exempts “commensal rodents”–varieties of which most people know (or have seen) as common rats or house mice–the rice rat and deer mouse, which are found in the District, are not defined as commensal and apparently are not exempt from the law. In addition, the new law expands the definition of wildlife and sets the rules for handling it to include raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and other animals that can carry disease, such as rabies. The law applies to trained animal control officers, not to homeowners.

Personally, I’m all in favor of relocating a bunch of rodent pests out of the District of Columbia, and I’m hoping this November’s election will do just that.

HT: The Westerner, who noted, “First they disarmed the citizen.  Now they disarm pest control.  I predict a thriving black market for rat killin’ in the D.C. area.”

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A basic question of judgment

Posted by Richard on June 25, 2011

Walter Russell Meade's latest is entitled The Failure of Al Gore: Part One. Part One? Really? This calm, measured essay utterly destroys any credibility the Goracle had and leaves him a wretched, quivering mass of inconsequential protoplasm, something from which one quickly looks away. A Part Two strikes me as completely unnecessary. Although I look forward to it with pleasure; I can be somewhat mean-spirited at times, and besides, Meade's wordsmithing is simply a delight.

By all means, read the whole thing. Here's just a smidgeon to whet your appetite: 

A fawning establishment press spares the former vice president the vitriol and schadenfreude it pours over the preachers and priests whose personal conduct compromised the core tenets of their mission; Gore is not mocked as others have been.  This gentle treatment hurts both Gore and the greens; he does not know just how disabling, how crippling the gap between conduct and message truly is.  The greens do not know that his presence as the visible head of the movement helps ensure its political failure.

Consider how Gore looks to the skeptics.  The peril is imminent, he says.  It is desperate.  The hands of the clock point to twelve.  The seas rise, the coral dies, the fires burn and the great droughts have already begun.  The hounds of Hell have slipped the huntsman’s leash and even now they rush upon us, mouths agape and fangs afoam.

But grave as that danger is, Al Gore can consume more carbon than whole villages in the developing world.  He can consume more electricity than most African schools, incur more carbon debt with one trip in a private plane than most of the earth’s toiling billions will pile up in a lifetime — and he doesn’t worry.  A father of four, he can lecture the world on the perils of overpopulation.  Surely, skeptics reason, if the peril were as great as he says and he cares about it as much as he claims, Gore’s sense of civic duty would call him to set an example of conspicuous non-consumption.  This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents.


(HT: Instapundit)

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Earth Hour forgotten

Posted by Richard on March 28, 2011

A friend chided me today, and rightly so. Saturday night, Gaia-worshippers across the globe plunged themselves into pre-industrial darkness for the absurd event known as Earth Hour. And I completely forgot to remind my readers to maximize their energy consumption during that hour to celebrate the Industrial Revolution, progress, modernity, and technology. In fact, I forgot to do so myself! Mea culpa!

I'll try to make up for it by increasing my energy consumption throughout the coming week. As I've said before, "My ancestors didn't survive the Black Plague and Dark Ages, create the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, and bring about the past two hundred years of astonishing scientific and technological progress so that we could huddle in the dark." 

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