Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Snakebit

I have seen many environmental and lefty fads come and go. All through the 70's and 80's one pet cause after another was taken up and inflicted on me. No grapes because of Caeser Chavez. Hording of aluminum foil because the world would run out of bauxite. A new ice age if we did not stop burning fossil fuels. Nuclear winter if we did not make kissy-face with the Soviet Union. Tiny foreign cars because fuel prices would never go down after Jimmy Carter. No areosols because the ozone hole was going to kill us all (by 2000!).

All wrong and billions were wasted or spent chasing "what everybody now agrees is the truth." So now we've got global warming and the same people who always want to control our lives are ordering subsidies and preferences. I do not know the science of this but the folks most hyped-up about it have a terrible track record. Plus they have never been strong on science in general.

A few weeks ago the newspapers noted that ethanol was causing the price of corn to go up thus making the lives of poor Mexicans more harsh. Nobody said boo. The Left likes the environment better than the poor because the environment isn't able to vote its own interests in opposition to the Left's latest hobby horse.

They are really cheesing me off. Burning agave plants to feed the subsidized ethanol tank. Is there no end to the madness? Now the starving Mexicans can't even drown their sorrows in Tequila. I'm sure that will quiet things on the Border.

Update: The evidence grows that my suspicions, that global climate change being caused by me and my fellow humans is a crock, are correct.

10 comments:

Dave S. said...

I am confused, although it is a preexisting condition aggravated by your latest tour de force.

Your next to last paragraph asserts that the high price of corn is making the lives of poor Mexicans more harsh. Can you provide links to those articles? The actual piece you linked to indicates that Mexicans are replacing agave with corn because it, um, pays more. That would suggest that Mexicans may actually benefit from the switch. Hopefully there will be a wave of agave subsidies to restore the status quo ante.

Don't think I'm not worried about the coming tequila extinction. Frankly I always figured you could get better mileage from Cuervo Gold than ethanol, but I have never been strong on science in general.

Finally, I actually agree with you that the corn-ethanol subsidy structure is a gigantic boondoggle. Had we followed the lead of Brazil we would be awash in much cheaper sugar-cane ethanol. The downside, of course, is that we would have had to follow someone else's lead, which obviously is a big no-no. The upside is that we could have done it without using the word "Chavez."

jjv said...

It was in the Post on the high price of tamales. Here's the Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/26/AR2007012601896_pf.html

Here' some I found:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/02/19/8400170/index.htm

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12030

and one from the Young Sparticists league for old times sake:

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/886/mexico.html

Dave S. said...

Thank you. Had those articles been linked in the original post I would have attacked your writing in different ways.

That being said, "Bloodsucking Corn Magnate" is a delightfully vivid epithet, although I bet the Spartacists save their best stuff for their Menshevik arch-enemies. Bloody splitters.

CRH said...

I don't know why I bother, but...

"All wrong" -
-I doubt JJV ever deprived himself of agricultural products out of concern for labor practices.
-I'm not sure what he's referring to on hoarding aluminum foil, the only bauxite alarms I recall have been recent, from industry analysts responding to surging Chinese demand for aluminum.
-The global cooling hypotheses of the seventies were based on reasonable science, but incomplete data. We have actual evidence of short-term global cooling caused by massive volcanic eruptions spewing sulfur compounds into the atmosphere. Most industrialized nations have restricted sulfur compound emissions for environmental reasons.
-Nuclear winter as a result of all-out nuclear warfare was in fact a well-supported theory. Better modelling currently suggests serious global cooling, short of the catastrophic nuclear winter scenario.
-Oil is finite. Our supply of oil is dependent upon some countries we'd rather not be dependent upon. Gas prices can fluctuate widely for reasons not easily understood by the average consumer. Why exactly are high-mileage cars a bad idea?
-Your aerosol comment is just dumb. Deterioration of the ozone layer is a fact. While the connection to CFCs and related compounds has not yet been established beyond a shadow of a doubt, the evidence is very strong.

Ehtanol is a boondoggle

jjv said...

CRH:

First, you bother very rarely. Second, obviously in the 70's and early 80's I lived in a household where I did not make the food choices but someone quite prone to environmental scares did.

Last night one of my boys couldn't sleep and I stayed up watching a "Superfriends" with him on one of the channels. It was from the 70's and sure enough pollution and use of carbon fuel had caused global cooling on another planet. I am all for taxes on imported oil for the reasons CRH mentions (except I do not think oil is finite in an economic rather than ontological sense). The reason I am against these measures is that they are normally "command and control" ideas. High mileage cars are fine but if they are made of tissue paper and I can buy an SUV to take my family around in I will do the latter. The command and controllers would ban it. Two items bother me. Mars is getting hotter over the same period it has been monitored. Why is that? Are all the planets getting warmer for reasons having 0 to do with fossil fuels? Second, I have not seen anything to lead me to believe a warmer earth is a net loss to human life.

However, I will buy the bumper sticker of the last line.

Mike Sauter said...

You've convinced me. I take most of my cues, either pro or con, from episodes of 'Superfriends.'

Unless this was one of those Zan/Jana/Gleek travesties. If it didn't have Wendy, Marvin, and the dog, it is not to be trusted.

jjv said...

Oh it was Marvin, Wendy, and wonder dog delivering the vital message. It was an item of popular culture reflecting the same errors in thinking of that time. I strongly suspect "climate change" is going to be another expensive waste of time and resources. I also note that Marvin appears to wear some kind of disco outfit. The 70's were terrible and I can see why so many hoped for Armageddon.

CRH said...

All the planets are not getting warmer. Mars may be getting warmer, Jupiter has hot spots but is not getting warmer, and Pluto's atmosphere is apparently thicker than expected right now, which might be an indication that it is warmer than expected. Do you want to argue that the Earth is undergoing a warming trend in which people argue about differences of tenths of a degree, that is caused by some solar phenomenon that is visibly warming Pluto, 30 times further from the sun than we are?

A good summary of the idiocy of the solar change argument can be found here:

http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/

I'm not sure when the "Superfriends" version of the explanation will air.

Dave S. said...

I have the dangerous habit of believing anything said by Ted Knight, as evidenced by the college sweaters I amassed during the 80s. Fortunately his role in Psycho was non-speaking or there could have been real trouble.

Dave S. said...

Not trying to pad the comments, just forgot a couple of things while going off on the Superfriends tangent.

JJV noted above:

High mileage cars are fine but if they are made of tissue paper and I can buy an SUV to take my family around in I will do the latter.

All well and good, but, as was said in Cold Mountain, "They hell?" I personally am waiting for ontologically-friendly vehicles to hit the streets.

Back to Superfriends: Re the disco outfits, all pants were flared in the mid-70s to make Bicentennial-theme garb appear reasonable.