Common Sense For The Birds

We are at a crossroads in North Carolina, my friends. Many forces are being brought to bear on us, and we have some very important decisions to make. And make them we must, or the fate of our state and the people and animals that inhabit it will be at risk. Global Warming is not a myth, it's a reality. And it's not simply a natural occurrance of which we are mere spectators, it's an artifact of our own shortsightedness and lack of vision. We brought this monster to life, and we're the only ones who can kill it.

One painful example of our lack of vision is how difficult it was to finally settle the argument about Global Warming itself. Even now, after the plethora of information proving this phenomena as well as our direct responsibility for such, there are still a few stubborn holdouts. But that battle is, for all practical purposes, finally over. But the war of "what to do about it" goes on.

In NCenvtl's recent diary debunking JLF's sudden concern for birds in their effort to thwart wind energy, a link was provided to the National Audobon Society's support of wind energy. In the war of words between "experts" on this subject, common sense should dictate who to listen to:

In order to prevent species extinctions and other catastrophic impacts of climate change, scientists say we must reduce global warming emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. Reducing pollution from fossil fuels to this degree will require rapidly expanding energy and fuel efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels, and changes in land use, agriculture, and transportation. To avoid catastrophe, we need to do all of these.

Whether we deserve the responsibility or not, we are the stewards of our environment. As such, we must be able to predict the overall impact of our actions and proceed with the greater good in mind, and this means avoiding the pitfalls and false trails that plague those who focus on their feet when walking. Some of those pits are too deep to climb out of, and they are just around the bend.

Scientists predict 9-52% of all terrestrial species (1 million plants and animals) will be on an irreversible path to extinction by 2050. (These predictions are based on modeling of the effects of minimum to maximum climate warming impacts on a broad range of species in regions around the world.)

Achieving carbon neutrality is a daunting enough task, but it's not nearly enough. Global Warming is already affecting our world's ecosystems, and neutrality will only postpone the inevitable. Massive reductions are needed, and that means radically changing our behavior.

Wind power is an important part of the strategy to combat global warming. Wind power is currently the most economically competitive form of renewable energy. It provides nearly 15,000 megawatts of power in the United States, enough power for more than 3 million households, and could provide up to 20 percent of the country's electricity needs. Every megawatt-hour produced by wind energy avoids an average of 1,220 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. If the United States obtains 20 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2020, it will reduce global warming emissions equivalent to taking 71 million cars off the road or planting 104 million acres of trees. Expanding wind power instead of fossil fuels also avoids the wildlife and human health impacts of oil and gas drilling, coal mining and fossil fuel burning.

For those lawmakers reading this, please remember this: we need you to step back and focus on the bigger picture. When lobbyists and "experts" tell you clean energy isn't economically feasable or ecologically sound, you need to ask yourself what their motives actually are. That's the first step towards making the right decision.

Comments

SC Harrison, the human species is very short sighted...

Our immediate personal comfort often trumps any consideration of long term consequences relative to our actions. "Feel Good" is more tenable in many cases to "Doing Good". Unfortunately other species living on this earth often become the victims of our excesses and failure to plan.

There is hope, albeit in the hands of the very few who's voices are faint, but growing. I join you...Soon one more will join us and then another...

"Just one voice singing in the darkness, all it takes is one voice...singing till they hear whats on your mind and when you look around you'll find theres more than one voice... singing in the darkness...joining with your one voice... each and every note, another octive, hands are joined and fears unlocked... if only one voice which started on its own, we need just one voice facing the unknown and then that one voice will never be alone..it takes just one voice".

Barry Manilow

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

Your voice is extremely important on this, Marshall.

There is hope, albeit in the hands of the very few who's voices are faint, but growing. I join you...Soon one more will join us and then another...

It's critical that North Carolina's elected officials in the General Assembly and the U.S. Congress understand what's at stake here. The days of postponing dealing with the problem are over.

And passing legislation that sounds good but has regressive traits ain't gonna get it. The main result of our faulty REPS legislation seems to be more multi-billion dollar coal and nuke plants, while I have to do research just to find structures with photovoltaic systems installed.

Silent spring

all over again. Only worse.

Yep. Now it's a one-two punch.

Although we have made some strides in identifying and cleaning up areas of acute toxic chemical pollution, overall things are much worse than forty years ago. Airborne contaminants have made a large percentage of our land mass into a low-level toxic dump. Most of our wildlife protection zones are only moderately safer for birds and other animals, and that's where punch number two comes swinging in.

With the shifting of average annual temperatures, avian migratory patterns and non-migratory nesting locations will shift also. Which means: all those stationary refuges will be abandoned, at least by the birds who now call them home. They've actually already started, but this is only the beginning.

When these birds have difficulty finding food or are forced to nest in less than ideal surroundings, populations will drop, possibly radically and quickly. A lot of them won't even attempt to mate. As the temperatures continue to rise, this situation will get much worse, as the struggling bird groups compete with each other for dwindling food and real estate.

I know this is depressing as hell, but we've got to talk about it.

Considering the Source

When considering matters of public policy, it is almost always helpful to consider what agendas, affiliations, and alliances people are bringing to the table, so that one can weigh possible conflicts-of-interest*.

The best place to start such analyses is with the goals and affiliations policy proponents explicitly claim for themselves, so that charges of distortion or snooping are less easily bandied about.

What does the Audubon Society regard as its mission? They state it as follows:

Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.

Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

(quoted w/o permission, but this is only two sentences--in the meantime, as an advocacy organization, the National Audubon Society needs to adopt a more sensible copyright policy than "All Rights Reserved"...)

Let us now turn to Daren Bakst, the author of the John Locke Foundation study; according to his bio at the Carolina Journal, a JLF website:

  • Mr. Bakst was formerly the "Policy Counsel for the National Legal Center for the Public Interest in Washington, DC", with an eye on analyzing issues of interest to the "business community". (That would likely be the business community as already constituted by entrenched interests, rather than the business community as it will look after brash upstarts deploying disruptive technologies have changed it.)
  • Anyway, National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Sounds like some vaguely liberal, community-oriented outfit, like Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, right? Must be! Going to their website, we find ourselves redirected to the American Enterprise Institute.
  • I could not find any list of officers or trustees for the NLCPI at the AEI's website for the organization, but such lists for the AEI itself are easily found.

    The AEI's Board of Trustees sports an impressive roster of CEOs, Founders, Chairmen, Senior Avisors, and Managing Directors (Commonwealth-ese for "CEO") of such scrappy young small business as International Paper Company, Merck, American Express, Exxon Mobil, State Farm, CIGNA, and Dow Chemical, along with a slew of investment and capital management outfits (of whom I am sadly under-informed).

  • Just to keep the scales balanced, there is one AEI Trustee who represents the notorious academic left: James Q. Wilson of Pepperdine University, which describes itself as:

    A Place of Faith, Guided by Christian Values

    As a Christian university, Pepperdine expresses its Christian principles through all aspects of academic life and administrative policy. Pepperdine draws no separations between the “sacred and the secular” in daily life and conduct, there are many ways in which the University encourages and accentuates the Christian way of life in the Pepperdine community. While all major social events and official ceremonies are opened in prayer, it is not unusual that University business meetings will likewise be convened with a request to God for prudence, understanding, and guidance. Many of Pepperdine’s Christian professors and administrators take the time to spiritually encourage and pray with students and others who need the care that those who profess faith are called to give.

  • Popping the stack back to Mr. Bakst's CV and moving on from his flagship credential we find that he founded and serves as president of the Council on Law in Higher Education, which states of itself:

    CLHE’s work reflects a belief that the regulatory and legal burden on colleges and universities has become excessive and sensible reforms are needed.

  • Next up, Mr. Bakst has written for "Competitive Enterprise Institute" and "Frontiers of Freedom". Let us examine these organizations more closely.
  • The CEI describes itself as "a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government", which "believe[s] that individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace." (One wonders if a Rothbardian taste for free markets in courts and police, fire, and military services also fall under this anti-interventionist penumbra.) Exploring the board of CEI we see a familiar name, Michael S. Greve, who also has written several publications for NLCPI.
  • Frontiers of Freedom, which has chosen the abbreviation FOF for itself (but uses the domain name ff.org), states the following at a page entitled "What We Believe":

    FOF is an educational institute (or think tank) whose mission is to promote conservative public policy based on the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

  • FOF was founded by Malcolm Wallop, a former Republican Senator from Wyoming. Among FOF's executive staff are President George C. Landrith, who ran twice (unsuccessfully) for Congress as a Republican from Virginia's 5th district; a former aide to then-Congressman Christopher Cox (Republican from California); the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism; "the energy and environment analyst for the Senate Republican Policy Committee under Chairman Jon Kyl"; and Mr. Aaron Lee, who lists membership in the Utah College Republicans as a bona fide.
  • Finally, we also see that Mr. Bakst serves on the Executive Committee of the Federalist Society's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. Lest anyone be unfamiliar with the Federalist Society (for Law and Public Policy Studies), they characterize themselves as:

    ...a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.

I would have simply quoted Mr. Bakst's bio in its entirety, but the JLF claims the following blanket copyright policy for all of its websites, including the Carolina Journal:

You cannot reproduce, republish or redistribute material from any JLF website in any way without the express written consent of the JLF.

(Presumably, quoting the JLF's own copyright policy is an infringement of their copyright. On the other hand, that must not be what I have done, as the JLF holds that people "cannot" do such things, not that they "may not"; and here I thought lawyers were paid to be careful with language.

Also, let it not be said that "classical liberal" conservatism is an inflexible doctrine. As we can see, the JLF is quite comfortable with 21st-century notions of copyright law (including the broad, expansive notion of reserved rights and the de rigeur disregard of Fair Use), when it happens that their namesake, John Locke, was already moldering in his grave years before the world's first copyright law, the Statute of Anne, was ever passed.)

Given Mr. Bakst's allegiances and affiliations, I suppose he deserves our congratulations for breaking with his ideological brethren and enthusiastically advocating the application of the heavy hand of the state in the private business of wind farming.

However, when the Director of Conservation Policy for the National Audubon Society testifies before Congress and 1) acknowledges that wind turbines do not have negligible effects on bird mortality, habitat and migration; 2) emphasizes that the factual record on these issues is very spotty; 3) recognizes that other threats to bird habitat and migration from our reliance on fossil fuels could be much more severe than the effects of wind turbines; and 4) calls for further study before encouraging the application of state power to halt wind turbine operations...

...I am tempted to conclude that the needs of the free market are being better represented by the NAS than by the market's own self-described champions.

Your mileage may vary.

* also known as "confluences", "compatibilities", or "coherences" of interest among those who regard self-aggrandizement as a civic virtue

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

I could try blogging it

Hi James,

I could try making a blog entry out of it (my first on this site), if you think that would be worthwhile.

Notes to self if I do:

  1. Identify a good place to put the "fold".
  2. Spell "de rigueur" correctly.
  3. Emphasize that 1) affiliations are seldom dispositive of an argument's validity; 2) frank, earnest, and honest advocates are forthcoming about personal circumstances or ideological structures they hold which might influence their perspective.
  4. Note that ivory-tower astroturfing in the form of "objective" white papers commissioned by strongly ideological organizations is not a good example of 2) above.

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

I'd appreciate it ... and it would get wider exposure

One of my main regrets is that we don't have a groundswell of environmental posts. That's why I got into blogging in the first place ... but I have to confess that I'm a bit distracted by too many competing issues these days.

Your comment gets at two of my hot buttons. First, it slams the anti-science "reports" from "experts" at the John Locke Foundation. And second, it makes a compelling case for environmental sanity.

Go for it. I'll plan to front-page your post and feature it in one of the green boxes.

Glad you're here.

Almost there

Hi James,

I prepared an expanded version; unfortunately, I cannot blog anything at all due to "validation errors".

I notified the admins and presumably Betsy Muse will look into it—I got a bounce from the auto-generated mail to heres2.

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

just rec'd your email and responded

Let me know if that doesn't help.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It worked!

Thanks, Betsy!

It must have been the timeout you mentioned.

Don'tcha hate misleading software diagnostics?

It could have just said "Timeout: You took too long posting your blog entry. Please try again."

Thanks again! James got a hold of it so fast, there's a typo I didn't get to fix. :)

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Yup, I can

Looks like there was just a brief lock in place while you were front-paging it. All is well. I've tidied up a dozen small punctuation and tag issues, fine-tuned some wording, added a permissive copyright license, and made corrections as noted in my own reply to it.

Thanks for giving a newbie a soapbox...I hope I handle it gracefully. :)

--
relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

When a lobbyist comes to a politicians door

When lobbyists and "experts" tell you clean energy isn't economically feasable or ecologically sound, you need to ask yourself what their motives actually are. That's the first step towards making the right decision

figuring out exactly what their agenda is must be performed. A lobbyist will not just visit you for the fun of it. Who is paying them to be there.

I soooo despise professional lobbyists. The bad thing about them is politicians love them. A lobbyist can get to politicians faster then we the people can. Go figure.

ewwww, they represent so many people.....DAAAAAAA, you are suppose to be representing me. Not some dam lobbyist. Listen to ME, not the lobbyist.