In 2012, my colleagues and I at the ACLJ filed suit against multiple officials at UCLA on behalf of Dr. James Enstrom, a researcher fired after he blew the whistle on the junk science used to justify draconian new emissions regulations in California.
The facts of the case were astounding. As the environmentalist Left pushed new, job-killing regulations in the interests of “public health,” Dr. Enstrom took his own look at the data and determined that the health threat from diesel emissions was being wildly overstated. As he looked further, he discovered that the lead researcher pushing the new regulations actually possessed a fraudulent degree, purchased from “Thornhill University,” a shady, long-distance diploma mill. Moreover, members of the state’s “scientific review panel” tasked with evaluating the science had in some cases overstayed term limits by decades. At least one was a known ideological radical. (He was a member of the infamous “Chicago Seven.”)
Dr. Enstrom did what a scientist should do. He exposed public corruption, called out fake scientific credentials, and worked to save California from onerous and unnecessary regulations.
So UCLA fired him. After more than 30 years on the job.
Not only did the Regents agree to pay Dr. Enstrom $140,000, but they also have effectively rescinded the termination, agreeing to Dr. Enstrom’s use of the title “Retired Researcher” (as opposed to acknowledgment as a non-titled terminated employee) and his continued access to UCLA resources he previously enjoyed during his appointment.
Dr. Enstrom’s victory comes at a critical time, reminding the public that the scientific establishment is hardly infallible. Indeed, it’s subject to all the same failings as any human institution, including greed, corruption, and bias. It’s worth remembering as the House once again takes up the Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would render the EPA more transparent by requiring it to make available for public review the “scientific and technical information used in is assessments.”
Category Archives: Ecology
#1 Wal-Mart Greeters
Who better to meet and greet shoppers — and urge them to load their shopping carts to overflowing — than hooded and black-robed jihadists who will decapitate anyone who dares to oppose them?
#2 Part of the Establishment of Free Community Colleges
As the president never tires of saying, we must “invest” more in the education and training of our young people —including, as he sees it, young jihadists who are contemptuous of everything Western education has to offer.
#3 Posters, Flags, and All Kinds of Signage
The Islamic State is already on record in promising to fly its black flag over the White House. If that is the kind of thing young jihadists like to do, why not encourage them to fly their flag and to raise their banners at other public buildings around the country?
#4 Border Security
The jihadists know all about border security.
#5 Tax Collection and Revenue Enhancement
The Obama administration could employ thousands or even millions of jihadists as old-style tax farmers or tax collectors — personally empowered to go out into the field to collect money from anyone lucky enough to continue to possess it.
#6 Obamacare Death Panels
In addition to their new duties as tax collectors, jihadists could therefore have a role in the implementation or enforcement of Obamacare.
#7 Social Media
The astounding growth of the Islamic State over the past year has been due in no small part to its mastery of the Internet and social media to recruit new members from all over the world and to launch terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East and Europe. Surely, the new Obama jobs-for-jihadists plan will find a way to channel their social media moxie in more innocent ways — as the president himself did recently in clowning around with a selfie stick… making the video of himself for HealthCare.gov that went viral.
#8 Infrastructure Building and Demolition
Let the jihadists have at our roads, bridges, dams, and port facilities.
#9 Early Childhood Education and Development
No time is too soon for children to be taken from their parents and turned over to educators trained by the state. Those who have been trained in this way (including many jihadists) can train others.
#10 Sustainability / Reducing our Carbon Footprint
The jihadists want to turn the clock back more than 1,200 years — teaching us all to live like goat herders. What’s not to like about that? We have everything to learn from them about reducing our carbon footprint.
Republicans called out a top EPA official for the agency’s labeling of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as a “pollutant,” equating the gas humans exhale every day to air pollutants like smog and mercury.
Democrats, environmentalists and some media outlets have been using the phrase “carbon pollution” to describe carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. But Republicans aren’t hearing it anymore.
“It sounds so sinister,” Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker told Janet McCabe, the head of EPA’s clean air office, in a hearing on power plants rules held Wednesday. “But actually they are talking about carbon dioxide … It doesn’t cause lung disease in children, it doesn’t cause asthma,” Wicker said.
By 2002, Golden Rice was technically ready to go. Animal testing had found no health risks. Syngenta, which had figured out how to insert the Vitamin A–producing gene from carrots into rice, had handed all financial interests over to a non-profit organization, so there would be no resistance to the life-saving technology from GMO opponents who resist genetic modification because big biotech companies profit from it. Except for the regulatory approval process, Golden Rice was ready to start saving millions of lives and preventing tens of millions of cases of blindness in people around the world who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.
It’s still not in use anywhere, however, because of the opposition to GM technology. Now two agricultural economists, one from the Technical University of Munich, the other from the University of California, Berkeley, have quantified the price of that opposition, in human health, and the numbers are truly frightening.
Their study, published in the journal Environment and Development Economics, estimates that the delayed application of Golden Rice in India alone has cost 1,424,000 life years since 2002. That odd sounding metric – not just lives but ‘life years’ – accounts not only for those who died, but also for the blindness and other health disabilities that Vitamin A deficiency causes. The majority of those who went blind or died because they did not have access to Golden Rice were children.
These are real deaths, real disability, real suffering, not the phantom fears about the human health effects of Golden Rice thrown around by opponents, none of which have held up to objective scientific scrutiny. It is absolutely fair to charge that opposition to this particular application of genetically modified food has contributed to the deaths of and injuries to millions of people. The opponents of Golden Rice who have caused this harm should be held accountable.
That includes Greenpeace, which in its values statement promises, “we are committed to nonviolence.” Only their non-violent opposition to Golden Rice contributes directly to real human death and suffering. It includes the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, which claims the credibility of scientific expertise, and then denies or distorts scientific evidence in order to oppose GMOs. It includes the U.S. Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club and several environmental groups who deny and distort the scientific evidence on GM foods every bit as much as they complain the deniers of climate change science do. It includes the Non-GMO Project, started by natural food retailers who oppose a technology that just happens to threaten their profits.
Greenpeace activists are facing legal retribution from the government of Peru for trespassing on ancient Inca land and potentially damaging an aerial hummingbird monument believed to be between 1,500-2,000 years old.
The activists placed a sign reading “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable – Greenpeace” next to the hummingbird design that is part of a larger archaeological treasure known as the Nazca lines. As the BBC notes, the lines, a designated Unesco World Heritage Site, are extremely fragile due to their age and the material with which they were built.
Speaking to local radio, Peruvian Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo confirmed that the nation will file charges against Greenpeace for “attacking archaeological monuments.” While the hummingbird figure is still intact, Castillo noted that “now we have an additional figure created by the footsteps of these people” that takes away from the beauty of the original artwork. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognised of all,” he added. “It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred.”
The Guardian notes that Peru was chosen for this operation because it is currently hosting the UN’s global climate summit. The government of Peru is not especially at odds with environmentalism– Castillo went so far as to note that Peru has “nothing in particular against Greenpeace”– and Greenpeace has said the activists are pleading guilty to trespass, so as to avoid felony charges.
A spokesperson for the activist group added that the protesters were “absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines.” The publication Peru This Week reports, however, that the damage may already be visible. Aerial photos taken after the stunt may already show signs of damage to the ancient site, further indicating that Greenpeace will have to face severe criminal punishment. The footprints of activists can be seen in the area around the sign, which is under the hummingbird’s beak.
About $1 billion in Japanese funding that Japan claimed was part of a UN initiative to help developing countries take action against climate change went, unnoticed, towards Japanese companies for the construction of three coal-fired power plants, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Coal-burning power plants are the world’s biggest source of atmospheric CO2, a key driver of global warming.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres was apparently unaware of where those funds wound up until it was brought to her attention by the AP. Figueres told the AP that “there is no argument” for supporting coal-powered projects with climate money, and that “unabated coal has no room in the future energy system.”
And yet, here we are…
How do the Chinese figure in all this? Since they break into practically every computer we own, we can assume they also read our newspapers and watch Fox News (maybe even MSNBC, Heaven help them). Besides Obama’s being a lame duck who was clobbered in the last election, they are fully aware of his myriad lies and prevarications from “If like your plan…” to red lines in Syria. No one trusts him, even members of his own party.
The Chinese therefore know any deal with Obama is just for show, meaningless. But to make doubly sure, they arranged for the language in the agreement to say “intend” to reduce their emissions by such-and-such by 2020 — “intend,” the mother of all wiggle words. (I “intend” to win the Oscar in 2016, even though I have not written the script yet.) Actually, the Chinese, as usual, did a brilliant job of using Obama for their own propaganda, knowing full well that he was desperate to be back in the news for something positive, preferably as far from D.C. as possible.
So, as I said, Mitch McConnell should relax. Not that he shouldn’t oppose the deal, but in the end this will be the least of his problems. Obama is only making a fool of himself, at least in the eyes of the Chinese and probably most people who see the reality of the situation.
But not as a big a fool as Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and putative architect of Obamacare, who has been caught on three videos explaining why it was necessary to overcomplicate and lie about the Affordable Care Act in order to pass it. (At least he read it. I doubt Obama did and I know Pelosi didn’t.) Besides the professor’s sleazy Gramscian elitism that doesn’t do much for the reputation of MIT, Gruber has something unconscious and disconnected about him that suggests a personality disorder. He doesn’t seem to quite get why people might be upset that his deliberate obscurantism completely undermines democracy and the founding documents of our country. After all, he means well. (The ends justify the means meets Asperger Syndrome)
John Coleman, meteorologist and co-founder of The Weather Channel, told Megyn Kelly tonight that he doesn’t believe global warming is real and laughed out loud at anyone who buys into what Al Gore is selling.
Coleman recently wrote an open letter arguing, “There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future.” He told Kelly it’s tough to get a media platform these days when you’re a climate skeptic “ever since Al Gore made it a plank of the Democratic Party.”
He blamed the media for hyping up the supposed threat of global warming and said there are plenty of scientists who have data completely refuting all of the conventional wisdom.
For example, Coleman said, the polar icecaps are not melting drastically as Gore famously warned they were. In fact, “more polar bears are alive and happy today,” as he put it.
The workers call them “streamers.” Hapless birds that fly over a massive California solar array, only to be immolated in midair, leaving a brief plume of smoke and a medium-well carcass.
BrightSource’s Energy’s state-of-the-art plant in the Mojave Desert is the largest solar thermal power plant on earth — and the deadliest.
Federal wildlife officials counted an average of one “streamer” every two minutes. The energy company estimates that only 1,000 birds are scorched each year, while a prominent environmental group puts the number at 28,000.
The facility has concerned environmentalists in the past, as its construction bladed over 3,500 acres of virgin desert. Being California, the state government required BrightSource to relocate a bunch of desert gopher tortoises to the tune of $22 million. The installation also endangers pilots flying the busy Los Angeles–Las Vegas corridor; they can be dazzled by the intense light.
It remains to be seen if regulators will stop the plant’s operation, but at least the world’s largest bug zapper should educate environmentalists and green energy boosters.
For too long, the public has been told that energy production is less a matter of physics than one of morality. Renewable energy like solar and wind are sold as “good” while reliable energy sources like oil and coal are “evil.” Methods like hydroelectric, nuclear and natural gas all were initially sold as clean and green, but became demonized the instant they turned a profit or revealed unintended consequences.
For thousands of years, Australian Aborigines have lit fires to help them hunt for animals like sand monitor lizards; burning the grassland helps expose the reptiles’ holes. It doesn’t exactly sound like a “sustainable” practice, but research has shown that these burns have a number of beneficial effects on the environment.
Specifically, the fires make the landscapes more “patchy” (compared to un-torched terrain), creating a more diverse mix of habitats. This means different types of plants and animals can flourish, offering a wider variety of food sources for beasts and humans alike. Believe it or not, recent research has shown that this burning counteracts the hunting of lizards and actually increases the animals’ populations, compared to areas without any Aboriginal burning. “Paradoxically, [sand monitor lizard] populations are higher where Aboriginal hunting is most intense,” a December 2013 study found.