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Julian Simon, Lithium, Afghanistan

By | Economy | One Comment

The New York Times prompted a flurry of speculative stories with its recent report, “U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan“:

WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world…

Other media outlets rushed to replicate the story, e.g., Associated Press, “Afghan mineral wealth may be at least $3 trillion,” and NPR, “Afghan Mineral Wealth Could Top $1 Trillion.” (Somewhere in that $1 trillion to $3 trillion range.) And the Times looks like it’s going to be riding the story for a while, as in the subsequent report, “Afghanistan Moves Quickly to Tap Newfound Mineral Reserves.”

Except, well, newfound? As Wired reported, “No, the U.S. Didn’t Just ‘Discover’ a $1T Afghan Motherlode

[The] military (and observers of the military) have known about Afghanistan’s mineral riches for years. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Navy concluded in a 2007 report that “Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered nonfuel mineral resources,” including ”large quantities of accessible iron and copper [and] abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby [and] sapphire.”

Not to mention that the $1 trillion figure is — at best — a guesstimate.

Whether it’s new news or old, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth seems to hold so much promise — but only promise, potential and possiblities if the “vast” wealth cannot be developed. Congo’s tremendous resources haven’t done that country much good.

At its annual dinner last night, the Competitive Enterprise Institute honored two Canadians, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, for their diligence in revealing the scientific shortcuts and fraud promoted by global warming researcher-activists — such things as the “hockey stick” claims about warming and later the details in the Climategate e-mail scandals.  The two received the Julian Simon Memorial Award, named after the late economist.

In his acceptance speech, McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Ontario, paid tribute to Simon’s ideas in comments that are directly relevant to Afghanistan’s potential.

What [Simon] taught us was that the abundance of resources in a nation is not just an accident of geography or history. Resources are not simply found, they must be developed and put to productive uses through the application of human ingenuity and creativity. Nations that enjoy the benefits of plentiful resources are those that preserve freedom, support entrepreneurship, encourage risk-taking and allow citizens to enjoy the fruits of their own work. In other words, the abundance of resources is a consequence of the ideas a nation lives by.

Afghanistan’s resources may well be vast, its potential great. The question is: Will it preserve freedom, support entrepreneurship, encourage risk-taking and allow citizens to enjoy the fruits of their own work? Will Afghanistan gain the rule of law? If so, more than vast resources, the country may achieve vast wealth — and vast freedom.


By | Energy, Global Warming | No Comments

From The Daily Mail (U.K.), “Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

The BBC interview is here. (Hat tip: Edward John Craig.)

And in Arizona, “Arizona quits Western climate endeavor“:

Arizona will no longer participate in a groundbreaking attempt to limit greenhouse-gas emissions across the West, a change in policy by Gov. Jan Brewer that will include a review of all the state’s efforts to combat climate change…[snip]

State officials said the policy shift was rooted in concerns that the controversial emissions plan would slow the state’s economic recovery. Brewer says the state should focus less on regulations and more on renewable energy and investments by businesses that can create green jobs.

The governor also ordered the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to take another look at stricter vehicle-emissions rules set to take effect in 2012.

A Shaky Petition to Have the EPA to Set Limits on Carbon Dioxide

By | Energy, Global Warming, Regulations | No Comments

A few environmental groups today made a bid to use government regulation to achieve essentially political ends of reshaping the economy.  It’s a horrible power play to turn the already imperial EPA into the mightiest jobs-killing agency in the history of the United States, but to be expected. If you can’t achieve your goals through the policymaking branch of government, turn to the regulators.

Still, you would think the Climategate scandal sending shock waves through the scientist/activist/political/space-time/continuum would have given these groups pause. They’re building their case on shaky grounds.

From “EPA Petitioned to Cap Carbon Dioxide Pollution at 350 Parts Per Million Under the Clean Air Act“:

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and 350.org today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to set national limits for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act. The petition seeks to have greenhouse gases designated as “criteria” air pollutants and atmospheric CO2 capped at 350 parts per million (ppm), the level leading scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

From page 9 of the petition:

Authoritative synthesis reports and data sources which should form the foundation of the Section 108 endangerment finding include but are not limited to the following:
The Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 Fed. Reg. 18886 (April 24, 2009) (hereinafter proposed Endangerment Finding);
The Technical Support Document for the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (April 17, 2009), Docket No. OAR-2009-0171;
The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC AR4”);26 [Our emphasis]

But didn’t we just learn that the IPCC’s data rest heavily on the manipulated and politicized data from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia? As Declan McCullough wrote at a CBS News blog, covering the scientific scandal now called Climategate.

In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: it claims the world’s largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report. That report, in turn, is what the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged it “relies on most heavily” when concluding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and should be regulated.

The petitioners seem aware of the threat to their case posed by Climategate. The footnote (26) to the IPCC citation (in extended entry below) makes painful effort to demonstrate the IPCC’s seriousness in producing the “standard works of reference on climate change.”

Which may be a big problem for the activists. See also:

The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me. The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering. And, as Christopher Booker argues, this scandal is not at the margins of the politicised IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process. It is not tangential to the policy prescriptions emanating from what David Henderson called the environmental policy milieu [subscription required]. It goes to the core of that process.
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Debased Climate Science and EPA Endangerment Findings

By | Energy, General, Global Warming, Regulations | No Comments

Kim Strassel’s “Potomac Watch” column in today’s Wall Street Journal is based on an interview with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, reacting to the climate science e-mail controversy. It’s Inhofe who gives Strassel’s column its title, “‘Cap and Trade Is Dead’,” arguing that politics and the now the scientific scandal from East Anglia makes climate-control legislation impossible. That’s Congress, but …

There’s still the EPA, which is preparing an “endangerment finding” that would allow it to regulate carbon on the grounds it is a danger to public health. It is here the emails might have the most direct effect. The agency has said repeatedly that it based its finding on the U.N. science—which is now at issue. The scandal puts new pressure on the EPA to accede to growing demands to make public the scientific basis of its actions.

Mr. Inhofe goes so far as to suggest that the agency might not now issue the finding. “The president knows how punitive this will be; he’s never wanted to do it through [the EPA] because that’s all on him.” The EPA was already out on a legal limb with its finding, and Mr. Inhofe argues that if it does go ahead, the CRU disclosure guarantees court limbo. “The way the far left used to stop us is to file lawsuits and stall and stall. We’ll do the same thing.”

An EPA endangerment finding and implementation of CO2 emission limits through a “tailoring rule” is legally suspect, to be sure, as an attempt by the Executive Branch to rewrite the Clean Air Act. Still, all the statements from the EPA and Administrator Lisa Jackson have pointed in that direction.

The Climate E-Mail Scandal: Group Think and Bullying

By | Energy, Global Warming | No Comments

From Iain Murray at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Three Things You Absolutely Must Know About Climategate,” a primer on what was revealed when hackers publicized e-mails and other computer data from Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

This may seem obscure, but the science involved is being used to justify the diversion of literally trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out fossil fuels. The CRU is the Pentagon of global warming science, and these documents are its Pentagon Papers.*

Here are the highpoints:

  • First, the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results.
  • Secondly, scientists on several occasions discussed methods of subverting the scientific peer review process to ensure that skeptical papers had no access to publication.
  • Finally, the scientists worked to circumvent the Freedom of Information process of the United Kingdom.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review’s The Corner adds more context:

One reason this seemed to me like less of a big deal at first was that the individual e-mails — “hide the decline” and so forth — while damning, also seemed open to interpretation. And I still think that’s the case in some instances. But what seems incontrovertible at this point is that the global-warming industry (and it is an industry) is suffused to its core with groupthink and bad faith. For many of us, this is not shocking news. But it is shocking evidence. Proving bad faith and groupthink is very hard to do. But now we have the internal dialog of those afflicted made public (I hope some intrepid reporters are asking other climate institutions whether they are no erasing their files for fear of being similarly exposed). It is clear that the scientists at the CRU were more interested in punishing dissenters and constructing a p.r. campaign than they were in actual science.

It is also an enormous journalistic scandal, Goldberg writes, since the elite press attempts to marginalize and silence critics of the “scientific consensus,” even as governments expand their power, the poor are hurt, and trillions of dollars are spent. Where’s the vaunted journalistic skepticism?

Glenn Reynolds has good links on the topic here.

* Does anyone remember the Pentagon Papers? Besides The New York Times, that is? The comparison is apt because the climate communications were stolen but their release served the greater public interest, maybe. But were the e-mails, etc., really stolen? Or hacked? Or released by someone with inside knowledge, a whistleblower? Yeah, a whistleblower! Journalists love a whistleblower.