Category Archives: Global Warming / Climate Change

LA Times asks, “Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

nancy pelosi tweet

Demorats own this.

Doesn’t take an econ major in junior high to solve this riddle.

Kerry Jackson at the LA Timeswrote this op-ed piece: Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.

Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).

It’s not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty. Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.

The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some states — principally Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia — initiated welfare reform, as did the federal government under President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Tied together by a common thread of strong work requirements, these overhauls were a big success: Welfare rolls plummeted and millions of former aid recipients entered the labor force.

The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.

Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.

Further contributing to the poverty problem is California’s housing crisis. More than four in 10 households spent more than 30% of their income on housing in 2015. A shortage of available units has driven prices ever higher, far above income increases. And that shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies.

“Counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings,” explains analyst Wendell Cox. “Middle-income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while the less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing.” The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development, says Todd Williams, an Oakland attorney who chairs the Wendel Rosen Black & Dean land-use group. CEQA costs have been known to shut down entire homebuilding projects. CEQA reform would help increase housing supply, but there’s no real movement to change the law.

Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor. By some estimates, California energy costs are as much as 50% higher than the national average. Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, author of a 2015 Manhattan Institute study, “Less Carbon, Higher Prices,” found that “in 2012, nearly 1 million California households faced … energy expenditures exceeding 10% of household income. In certain California counties, the rate of energy poverty was as high as 15% of all households.” A Pacific Research Institute study by Wayne Winegarden found that the rate could exceed 17% of median income in some areas.

Looking to help poor and low-income residents, California lawmakers recently passed a measure raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 — but a higher minimum wage will do nothing for the 60% of Californians who live in poverty and don’t have jobs. And research indicates that it could cause many who do have jobs to lose them. A Harvard University study found evidence that “higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants” in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. “Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating),” the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers.

Apparently content with futile poverty policies, Sacramento lawmakers can turn their attention to what historian Victor Davis Hanson aptly describes as a fixation on “remaking the world.” The political class wants to build a costly and needless high-speed rail system; talks of secession from a United States presided over by Donald Trump; hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to “resist” Trump’s agenda; enacted the first state-level cap-and-trade regime; established California as a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants; banned plastic bags, threatening the jobs of thousands of workers involved in their manufacture; and is consumed by its dedication to “California values.” All this only reinforces the rest of America’s perception of an out-of-touch Left Coast, to the disservice of millions of Californians whose values are more traditional, including many of the state’s poor residents.

With a permanent majority in the state Senate and the Assembly, a prolonged dominance in the executive branch and a weak opposition, California Democrats have long been free to indulge blue-state ideology while paying little or no political price. The state’s poverty problem is unlikely to improve while policymakers remain unwilling to unleash the engines of economic prosperity that drove California to its golden years.

h/t PJ Media

DCG

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8 years ago, Al Gore said North Pole will be completely ice-free by now

Eight years ago, on December 14, 2009, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Al Gore predicted that the North Pole would be completely ice-free by now:

(2:14 mark) “There is a 75% chance that the entire North Polar ice cap during . . . some of the summer months could be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.”

That was FAKE NEWS!

As you can see in the graph below, the North Pole is in no danger of completely melting. In fact, as measured by Greenland Ice Core’s interglacial temperatures, the Earth actually is in a cooling period, compared to severe warming periods in the past, most recent period being the warming during the Middle Ages.

The graph below shows that global surface temperature actually had been cooling since 2001, and began a warming uptick after 2014:

Al Gore is only one of climate-change doomsday-sayers who, like him, are proven to be wrong, again and again. But that doesn’t stop them from continuing their alarmist predictions — and getting wealthy while so doing.

See also:

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV

~Eowyn

Part of the swamp is self-draining: Over 700 employees quit the EPA

From the NY Post: More than 700 workers have left the rapidly shrinking Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office — including more than 200 scientists, according to a report.

The exodus by staffers who have quit, retired or taken buyout packages includes 96 environmental protection specialists and nine department directors, according to the report by The New York Times and ProPublica.

A majority of the employees, who include attorneys and program managers, are not being replaced, according to the report.

The departures reflect poor morale at the EPA, which Trump and top congressional Republicans have criticized as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach.

That discontent is likely to widen following revelations that GOP campaign officials were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from agency personnel suspected of opposing Trump and his agenda, the report said.

The news outlets’ investigation showed that the administration is well on its way to achieving its goal of cutting 3,200 positions from the agency — about 20 percent of its work force — to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the agency was running more efficiently. “With only 10 months on the job, Administrator Pruitt is unequivocally doing more with less to hold polluters accountable and to protect our environment,” he said.

It was reported in October that EPA head Scott Pruitt has been getting far more death threats than anyone else who has ever led the agency, whose budget was slated for a 30 percent cut.

The EPA has experienced a downward trend since the Obama administration after Republican-led budget constraints left it with about 15,000 workers at the end of his term.

The reductions have accelerated under Trump, who campaigned on a promise to drastically scale back the EPA, leaving only what he called “little tidbits” in place.

The reason EPA went down to 15,000 employees under Obama is because of pressure from Republicans. This is the effort of the Republicans under the Obama administration on steroids,” said John J. O’Grady, head of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which represents EPA workers.

Trump has called climate change a hoax and announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accords.

Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all question the scientific consensus that carbon released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming.

The Times and ProPublica analyzed EPA staffing changes through the end of September obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and interviewed current and former EPA officials.

DCG

Los Angeles fire started in homeless encampment

jerry brown

Jerry Brown blames climate change for the fires in California. Wrong again with that fear mongering.

From The Guardian: Authorities have revealed the wildfire that razed homes owned by LA’s wealthiest residents was started in a homeless camp inhabited by its most downtrodden.

After the Los Angeles fire department announced on Tuesday that the Skirball fire began life as a cooking fire under a freeway about 20 miles from downtown, the homeless services community took a sharp intake of breath.

“These kind of reports are never good for us in general,” said Laurie Craft, a director at Hope of the Valley, which runs the only winter shelter in the area where the Skirball fire started.

Craft fears a backlash against the homeless community as a result of the disaster, which included the destruction of six Bel Air homes valued at $20m, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Yet assigning blame in this situation is far more complicated than it might be if the fire had been started by a careless hiker or a driver unthinkingly disposing of a lit cigarette.

“Are people going to react the same way to someone who works a job and has a car [as] to someone who’s homeless?” Craft asked. “Or is it worse in their eyes?”

There are hundreds of homeless encampments filling the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles’s elaborate freeway system, home to many of the county’s estimated 58,000 homeless people. The encampments pop up under bridges and alongside exits, ranging from two or three residents to a dozen or more.

People live in tents or jerry-rigged shelters made of tarps and branches, often with little access to sanitation or clean water. And they often set fires to cook food or keep warm in a region where nighttime temperatures often dip down into the low 50s.

The law is clear, said deputy chief Scott McLean of Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency. Any time a person lights a fire “on someone else’s property, it’s always illegal,” he said. But he added that campfires were not a particularly common source of wildfires. “It takes one spark. Even parking your car on dry grass right could be a risk.”

And owing to the harsh conditions in which homeless people live, social workers and others involved with the community are more focused on mitigating the risk than telling people not to start fires in the first place.

Victor Hinderliter, an associate director at the Los Angeles homelessness services agency, said his teams have been advising people at encampments they visit to be extra careful – and they usually are.

“The first people impacted if a fire does get out of control is the people in the surrounding encampment,” he said. “But it gets cold at night, and people have to eat. Sometimes, for survival, people have to make difficult decisions.

Hinderliter argued that the fires are merely a consequence of a much broader and more important issue. There is approximately one shelter bed available for every three people who are homeless in Los Angeles county, and a recent study found that the county would need an additional half-million affordable housing units to keep up with its growing low-income population.

“For me, this [fire] really highlights the urgency of getting people off the street and into housing,” he said. “Where people have to rely on warming fires in the middle of the night to survive, we should get them a roof over their heads, so they don’t have to make that difficult decision.”

A fire is not even always the first resort for people in encampments, said activist Mohammed Aly, who works in homeless encampments along the Santa Ana riverbed in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.

“There’s an interest in self-preservation in keeping these fires safe,” he said. People often use other methods to keep warm or cook if they can, like gas stoves or electric generators, and display “proper etiquette”.

For those quick to judge the person who set in motion a catastrophe in order to satisfy their hunger, he urges restraint. “None of us understand what life is like in a homeless community.”

DCG

Bioethicist opinion: Science proves kids are bad for earth; morality suggests we stop having them

travis rieder

Travis and his child in his Twitter profile picture

The author of this opinion piece, Travis Rieder, PhD, is the Assistant Director for Education Initiatives, Director of the Master of Bioethics degree program and Research Scholar at the Berman Institute of Bioethics. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Public Health Advocacy within the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

From NBC News: A startling and honestly distressing view is beginning to receive serious consideration in both academic and popular discussions of climate change ethics. According to this view, having a child is a major contributor to climate change. The logical takeaway here is that everyone on Earth ought to consider having fewer children.

Although culturally controversial, the scientific half of this position is fairly well-established. Several years ago, scientists showed that having a child, especially for the world’s wealthy, is one of the worst things you can do for the environment. That data was recycled this past summer in a paper showing that none of the activities most likely to reduce individuals’ carbon footprints are widely discussed.

The second, moral aspect of the view — that perhaps we ought to have fewer children — is also being taken seriously in many circles. Indeed, I have written widely on the topic myself.

But scientific evidence and moral theorizing aside, this is a complicated question with plenty of opponents. In what follows, I will address some of the challenges to this idea. Because while I recognize that this is an uncomfortable discussion, I believe that the seriousness of climate change justifies uncomfortable conversations. In this case, that means that we need to stop pretending the decision to have children doesn’t have environmental and ethical consequences.

The argument that having a child adds to one’s carbon footprint depends on the view that each of us has a personal carbon ledger for which we are responsible. Furthermore, some amount of an offspring’s emissions count towards the parents’ ledger.

Most environmentalists accept this sort of ledger view when it comes to recycling, driving, and flying, but support begins to decrease when applied to family planning. The opposition is typified by Vox writer David Roberts, who argues that “such an accounting scheme is utterly impractical” because it seems to entail that one is never responsible for one’s own emissions. Because “we don’t want to double-count,” as Roberts says, this means parents are really only responsible for their kids’ emissions.

The flaw in this objection is the plausible-sounding caveat: “we don’t want to double-count.” Because why wouldn’t we want to double-count? If moral responsibility added up mathematically, then double-counting would be a serious problem. But I think it’s clear that we should not accept a mathematical model of responsibility.

Consider a different case: If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for those deaths — even though the killer is also fully responsible. My having released him doesn’t make him less responsible (he did it!). But his doing it doesn’t eliminate my responsibility either.

Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children: Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility. Moral responsibility simply isn’t mathematical.

If you buy this view of responsibility, you might eventually admit that having many children is wrong, or at least morally suspect, for standard environmental reasons: Having a child imposes high emissions on the world, while the parents get the benefit. So like with any high-cost luxury, we should limit our indulgence.

Read the rest of this opinion here.

DCG

Gov. Moonbeam: “World needs brainwashing on climate change”

jerry brown

ManBearPig approved.

From Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown challenged the world’s religious leaders to further engage as he minimized the negative effects of President Donald Trump on meeting the climate-change challenge.

“The Trump factor is very small, very small indeed,” in comparison to the commitments taking place around the world, Brown said to a burst of applause Saturday at an event organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “That’s nothing to cheer about, because if it was only Trump that was a problem, we’d have it solved. But that’s not our only problem.

The problem … is us. It’s our whole way of life. It’s our comfort … It’s the greed. It’s the indulgence. It’s the pattern. And it’s the inertia.”

Brown, who arrived Friday for nearly two weeks of climate talks across Europe, said the path to transformational change must include the mass mobilization of the religious and theological sphere, but also the prophetic sphere.

“The power here is prophecy. The power here is faith, and that’s what this organization is supposed to be about. So, let’s be about it and combine with the technical and the scientific and the political.

To slow the devastation of climate change, society cannot rely only on science and technology and must begin to accept the need for more transformational approaches, Brown said. He spoke for more than 40 minutes, punctuating his remarks and answers to attending scientists to reflect on his own experiences.

Brown’s first brush with the concept of transformation came when he entered the Jesuit seminary in the 1950s before the Second Vatican Council. He spoke Latin, meditated, underwent self-discipline, mortified himself.

“We tried real hard, and I can tell I did not achieve perfection. I was not transformed. In fact some of my bad habits, which I will not reveal, are the same as they were … when I came into Jesuit seminary when Pius XII was pope.

Brown acknowledged that achieving transformation will not be easy, citing his recent visit to the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, where world leaders gathered for discussions about trade with scant mention of climate effects.

“At the highest circles, people still don’t get it,” he said. “It’s not just a light rinse” that’s required. “We need a total, I might say ‘brain washing.’

“We need to wash our brains out and see a very different kind of world.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Hollyweird hypocrite: Private jet flyer/owner Harrison Ford goes after Trump team’s environmental policies

harrison ford

Harrison Ford boarding a private jet.

Never let your Trump Derangement Syndrome get in the way of your private and hypocritcal hobbies.

Harrison Ford is a pilot. A rich one. He can afford his own fleet of airplanes and fly them whenever he wants.

According to a 2015 Daily Mail article, Ford has a long range jet, a Citation Sovereign, a turboprop aircraft capable of operating on unimproved airstrips; and a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver single engine bush plane. He also has a 1929 Waco Taperwing open-top biplane, an Aviat Husky, which is a two-seat fabric-covered bush plane, and a Bell 407 helicopter (a total of seven aircraft).

He also has about a dozen motorcycles including several BMWs, a couple of Harleys, Hondas and a Triumph. He has vintage cars too including a rare 1955 forest green convertible Jaguar XK 140 worth about $150,000.

In true DiCaprio fashion, the carbon-emitting hypocrite lectures us on Trump whilst ignoring his own carbon footprint.

From Hollywood Reporter: Harrison Ford got political on Thursday night at 3Labs in Culver City when he was honored by Conservation International, a non-profit environmental group he has been involved with for 26 years.

“We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution, not flood or fire,” Ford said during his acceptance speech of the Founders’ Award. “It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science.” 

He went on to criticize those politicians who let “political or economic self-interest denigrate or belittle sound scientific understanding of the causes and effects of human pressure on the environment.” 

Ford serves as executive vice chair of Conservation International, which celebrated its 30th anniversary at the event. The group aims to protect nature and specifically focused on a ‘No Forests, No Future’ theme at the gala, highlighting the Amazon rainforest and its importance in addressing climate change.

“I’m here tonight for one reason: I care deeply for the natural world. It’s not about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s about this other world we’re going to leave behind,” the actor said. “If we don’t stop the destruction of nature, nothing else will matter. Jobs won’t matter, our economies won’t matter, our freedoms and ethics won’t matter, our children’s education and potential won’t matter, peace, prosperity. If we end the ability of a healthy natural world to sustain humanity nothing else will matter, simply said.”

Ford has been deeply involved in the environmental cause for several decades, meeting with lawmakers, businesses and communities to discuss how to improve conservation policy and practices.

“Other than my family, doing this work has been the most important thing of my life,” he said. “Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” 

Red the rest of the story here.

Hyprocite.

DCG