See My Grandfather Spray DDT without Protective Gear

Image: Palisade Sunrise Rotary
Image: Palisade Sunrise Rotary

My grandfather Theo Eversol was a peach farmer in Palisade, Colorado. When I saw him spray his orchards in the 1970s and 1980s with pesticides, he wore protective gear. But back in the 1950s he didn’t wear protective gear, at least judging from a ca. 1953 film about the Palisade peach industry that’s archived online by the Palisade Sunrise Rotary. The film shows my grandfather spraying DDT out of a hose on the back of a tractor, wearing nothing but regular clothing. The images shown are captured from that film.

Today no one doubts that spraying DDT without protective gear is not a great idea health-wise. But, given mosquitos are the world’s most deadly creature, killing some 725,000 people each year, I can’t help but think that widespread bans of DDT (previously used to kill mosquitos, among other things) has killed untold millions of human beings over the years.

The peach film is remarkable for many other reasons besides its depiction of pesticide control. A lot of things have changed since then, but in many ways the industry is similar to the way it was back then.

Image: Palisade Sunrise Rotary
Image: Palisade Sunrise Rotary

The Insanity of Environmentalist “Human Engineering”

Image: Liberal Democrats
Image: Liberal Democrats

The Objective Standard just published my article, “The Environmentalists’ War on People,” about an environmentalist plan to “engineer” people to reduce their carbon footprints (also their literal footprints). As I write, “It’s as though the paper’s authors read the dystopian novels of the 20th century such as Brave New World and adapted them as a blueprint for their environmentalist agenda.” Among the proposals are drugging or otherwise manipulating people to make them hate meat and to make fetuses smaller. The Ayn Rand Institute published an article on the same subject.

On Climate, Ice Cream, and Gender Slurs

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Writing for the Washington Times, Jennifer Harper describes the recent exchange between writer Valerie Richardson and CNN correspondent Bill Weir. Here’s the sequence:

  • Recently the EPA came to Denver to promote its stiffer energy regulations (see my previous post).
  • It was an unusually cool day at 58 degrees. Richardson wrote, “The Climate Reality Project [organized by Al Gore] brought its ‘I’m Too Hot’ trucks and offers of free ice cream to this week’s Environmental Protection Agency hearings on power-plant emissions, but the climate wasn’t cooperating.”
  • Weir Tweeted, “Weather is not climate, you willfully ignorant f**ksticks.”

Of course Weir is correct about the difference between climate and weather—a given day can be unusually hot or cold regardless of overall climate trends. Unfortunately for Weir, there is some evidence that the climate has actually cooled in recent years.

The climate debate aside, how come Weir can get away with using a slur referring to a penis? If a right-winger had called a left-winger the “c-word,” he’d have been crucified.

“Billionaire’s Club” Funds Bogus “Anti-Fossil Energy Message”

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Minority Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a “close knit network of likeminded funders, environmental activists, and government bureaucrats . . . specialize in manufacturing phony ‘grassroots’ movements and in promoting bogus propaganda disguised as science and news to spread an anti-fossil energy message to the unknowing public.” See the Complete Colorado report for details, or see the Senate report itself, titled, “How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”

The Consequences of Power Shortages in Developing Nations

Here in America, anti-fracking activists wouldn’t dream of going home and finding their lights didn’t work, their cars didn’t run, their refrigerators didn’t cool. But in many parts of the world energy shortages are a routine part of life—and they can be impoverishing and even deadly. Kenneth P. Green quotes one observer: “Lack of power means so many things. It means women giving birth in the dark, children who either cannot study at night or don’t go to school, and business that cannot function.”

Coloradans Rally to “Stop the EPA Power Grab”

Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency are in Denver to promote the agency’s restrictions on carbon-emitting power generation. Yesterday hundreds of Coloradans rallied to “stop the EPA power grab”; the Denver Post has the story. However, Eli Stokols reports for Fox31 the hearings were “dominated by the environmentalists.” Dustin Zvonek of Americans for Prosperity make some pro-energy remarks at the hearings.

Contra Gasland Deception, Colorado Water Always Featured Natural Methane

A couple of years ago the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission debunked major claims of the Gasland anti-industrial propaganda film:

Gasland features three Weld County landowners, Mike Markham, Renee McClure, and Aimee Ellsworth, whose water wells were allegedly contaminated by oil and gas development. The COGCC investigated complaints from all three landowners in 2008 and 2009, and we issued written reports summarizing our findings on each. We concluded that Aimee Ellsworth’s well contained a mixture of biogenic and thermogenic methane that was in part attributable to oil and gas development, and Mrs. Ellsworth and an operator reached a settlement in that case.

However, using the same investigative techniques, we concluded that Mike Markham’s and Renee McClure’s wells contained biogenic gas that was not related to oil and gas activity. Unfortunately, Gasland does not mention our McClure finding and dismisses our Markham finding out of hand. . . .

Laboratory analysis confirmed that the Markham and McClure wells contained biogenic methane typical of gas that is naturally found in the coals of the Laramie–Fox Hills Aquifer. This determination was based on a stable isotope analysis, which effectively “finger-printed” the gas as biogenic, as well as a gas composition analysis, which indicated that heavier hydrocarbons associated with thermogenic gas were absent. In addition, water samples from the wells were analyzed for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX), which are constituents of the hydrocarbons produced by oil and gas wells in the area. The absence of any BTEX compounds in these water samples provided additional evidence that oil and gas activity did not contaminate the Markham and McClure wells.

I have not researched what “part” of the contamination of the Ellsworth well was allegedly “attributable to oil and gas development,” nor what sort of development that was, nor what the settlement was. In general, if there is objective evidence of a tort, the government properly intervenes to protect property rights (in light of any contractual relationships) and ensure just compensation for damages.

To me what is most interesting about the document, though, is that it demonstrates that usually methane in water is attributable to natural causes, not industrial development.

Recently I was talking with my father Linn about this, and he shared some anecdotes buttressing this fact:

Your great-grandfather Glenn Linn owned land south of Collbran, Colorado, until around 1963. As a child I spent many summers on this ranch. Of course, I have many fond memories spent in the mountains and one of the exciting memories is when we crossed the small stream running in front of the cabin Glenn would throw a match into the stream. A loud roar would ensue from the surface gas exploding.

In the 1960s the surface gas near The DeBeque bridge was very useful to the ranchers. In the cold winter the ice would freeze on the river which would force the ranchers to chop ice in order for the livestock to drink. Those lucky ranchers who had access to the river near the surface gas simply had to light the gas which kept the water clear of ice. Ranchers and cattle were both happy.

Your grandfather Otto Armstrong related that the train would stop just past the town of DeBeque so that the passengers see a geyser raise several feet into the air caused by surface gas. This must have been a great spectacle with the train engines of the 1920s and 30s bellowing smoke and a geyser spouting water feet into the air.

But we all know what’s going on here. The anti-industrial environmentalists will damn any sort of energy development that alters the natural environment in any way, no matter how much energy production contributes to human life and flourishing. And they’re not about to let the facts get in the way.

Image: Creative Commons by Tim Hurst

The Progressive Gas Guzzler

ProgressNowColorado just launched an awesome new fundraiser offering a “Progressive” bumper sticker for the low, low price of $5 (or, for the real bargain shoppers out there, two for $10).

My favorite aspect of the campaign is that the featured image shows one of the “Progressive” bumper stickers on the back of a V8 Toyota Tundra. (See my screen capture on Picasa.)

Talk about a carbon footprint! This glorious gas guzzler gets an impressively low 16 miles to the gallon for city driving. (The figure varies slightly by model.) I definitely have some energy envy; my Honda Civic gets 50 percent more miles to the gallon. Foiled by the progressives again! I may have to take some extra leisure drives up to Boulder just to keep up the pace.

Can I trust that Colorado’s so-called progressives will now stop haranguing people for their gasoline consumption? Now that would be progress.

Warming Prophets Create Climate of Smear

I like Skeptic magazine; indeed, I have written an article for eSkepticabout religion in Harry Potter. Healthy skepticism is about thinking for yourself, declining to accept “established wisdom” without good evidence, and rejecting pseudo-science and appeals to non-natural explanations about the world.

Unfortunately, the latest article by geologist Donald Prothero for eSkepticpromotes group-think and smearing the opposition. Prothero accuses “climate change-deniers” of ad hominem attacks, even though the very label contains two smears.

First, Prothero clearly means to attribute guilt by association with the term “denier,” linking his opponents with other unassociated groups. Prothero explicitly likens his opponents to “evolution-deniers,” and never mind that many critical thinkers accept evolution but question climate alarmism. Ah, but some “climate change-deniers” are also “evolution-deniers,” and that’s good enough for Prothero. The argument seems to be, “Some of my opponents are idiots; therefore, all of my opponents are wrong.” But that’s not good enough, not if you claim the mantle of science.

Second, Prothero’s claim that his opponents “deny climate change” is simply a ridiculous lie. Nobody denies that the climate changes. Indeed, it is precisely the fact that the climate always changes and has been continually changing since the formation of the Earth that provides goodprima facie reason to think that modern climate change is dominated by nature rather than humans. In all the climate-change literature, the single page that most impressed me was the page from Al Gore’s first major book on the subject showing the pre-human cycles of climate change.

Only a fool would argue that modern climate change is due exclusively to human industry. (On the other hand, it is a tautology that, before humans evolved, nature was exclusively responsible for climate change.) However, nobody could sustain the view that human-caused CO2 emissions have zero impact on today’s climate. Therefore, the real debate is between the views of “human-dominated climate change” and “nature-dominated climate change.”

Given that nature obviously dominated climate change for nearly all of the Earth’s history, the idea that nature continues to dominate climate change remains a highly plausible starting point.

As to Prothero’s claims about the “scientific consensus” (which, incidentally, has been wrong before), there are a couple of good reasons to think that ideology drives much of the science. First, large sums of federal cash are awarded to scientists who promote the “consensus” view. Second, most advocates of “human-dominated climate change” advocate massive federal controls on the economy as a response, even though that political conclusion extends well beyond the scientific claims.

True skeptics will not be bowled over by the smear tactics and intimidation of the modern environmentalist movement.

Alien Invasions: Where Economic and Environmental Insanity Meet

“You’re traveling to another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. … Your next stop: the Twilight Zone.”

If the Onion covered the Twilight Zone, you’d end up with the sort of actual headlines we’re seeing today.

Consider the first headline, from Time“Paul Krugman: An Alien Invasion Could Fix the Economy.” What Krugman said was this: “If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack, and we needed a massive build-up to counter the space alien threat, and inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.” He actually referenced the Twilight Zone.

And thus Krugman, a Nobel-winning economist, commits the simplest of economic fallacies, what Bastiat in 1850 called the broken-window fallacy, a type of the error of accounting for the seen but not the unseen.

The next headline comes from the land of environmental nuttiness, from the Guardian“Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists: Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report.” (For context, read the report from NetworkWorld.)

For any consistent leftist, this creates a paradox of unprecedented proportions. For clearly the solution is to expand CO2 production as rapidly as possible, so as to exacerbate global warming and incite an alien invasion, so that we can “stimulate” the economy and reelect Barack “The Chosen One” Obama in 2012.

(Hat tip to Aaron Bilger for blending the two stories.)