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January 02, 2004

REPUBLICANS vs. THE ENVIRONMENT....Pete McCloskey was a Republican congressman back in the era before Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay decided to declare war on the environment at the behest of their corporate masters. He's not happy about where they've taken his party:

When I served in Congress, conservatives and conservationists worked together in friendship. Something dark and onerous has happened since the Republicans took over the House. It's time for Republicans to stand up and try to keep the party true to its historical concept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the preservation of endangered species.

If we stand back and allow Democrats to be identified as the sole preservers of environmental values, the GOP could soon return to the minority status it occupied for most of the last 70 years. And that, however unfortunate for the party, would be a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout.

The current incarnation of the Republican Party seems to take the position that because the environment is getting better — thanks to a bunch of environmental legislation passed in the early 70s — we shouldn't worry about the environment anymore. Why, corporate America is so altruistic these days that we could probably repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act entirely and big business would voluntarily continue to reduce emissions just because they're so anxious to be good neighbors.

It's a pretty stunning display of chutzpah, in many cases going so far that they claim it's really market forces that have cleaned up the environment, not hated government regulation. Unfortunately, if we keep electing these guys they'll probably continue their piecemeal assault on the environment and we'll have a chance to find out precisely how effective the free market is at protecting common goods like our air and water. In the most literal sense of the word, it won't be a pretty sight.

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 2, 2004 09:06 AM | TrackBack


Comments

Just more of this culture's apparently unrelenting bent to turning the living into the dead, in the names of our gods: Production and Profit.

Posted by: Terrance at January 2, 2004 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

Did you see the article in the Post describing Bush's plans to let the industry regulate global Warming -- and how they simply have not worked?

Posted by: allan at January 2, 2004 09:18 AM | PERMALINK

The ShrubCo approach to environmental issues would be a lot easier to stomach if the administration was honest and forthright about it. If Bush and Cheney simply announced that they are determined to undo decades of legislation aimed at protecting the environment, we could at least appreciate their candor. But knowing that they can't sell their regressive policies to the electorate, they cloak them in misleading and devious language- thus, we get bullshit like "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests."

Posted by: peter jung at January 2, 2004 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

All I ask from BushCo is consistency. If self-regulation is such a good thing, then fine. Let's repeal all the traffic laws and criminal laws, and stop wasting time and money prosecuting criminals! Let them regulate themselves!

Oh, my bad, only rich people can be trusted to do the right thing. Poor people are immoral slackers who will take your TV at the first opportunity.

Silly me.

Posted by: craigie at January 2, 2004 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

Can we bring just a bit of science to this debate? Here is Michael Crichton on the subject of global warming. Yes the mean temperature is rising. The problem is that Kyoto, and any other measure we can come up with, will not affect it. We are emerging from an ice age. The enviros burned down the forests the past few years to save some kangaroo rats that got fried anyway. Serious environmentalism has got to be based on real science. The rest is politics. The speech was given at Caltech this year, a well known right-wing think tank.

http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 09:36 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows the environment is a myth invented by ivory tower liberal so they can tell us good'ol boys what to do.

Posted by: Patrick Rogers at January 2, 2004 09:36 AM | PERMALINK

It saddens me to say it, but the Republican mentality about the environment probably reflects the values of a majority of Americans more than we think. I’ve heard of surveys showing that people are significantly concerned about the environment. However, they seem much more reluctant to take steps towards creating beneficial changes, if its going to cost too much or be too inconvenient.

The problem with many environmental issues is that it is difficult for people to perceive a need to do something and for that perception to turn to the level of outrage needed to overcome our leadership’s commitment to economic interests. If you have the asthmatic kid in smoggy Southern California, or live in the neighborhood next to a leaking landfill, it’s much easier to become the committed environmentalist. Toxics in the back yard piss off even the most committed free-market Republican, no matter how small the risk. We just can’t get people pumped up about the issues on a global and generational scales: resource depletion; ozone-depleting chemicals; greenhouse gas emissions and human-induced climate change; loss of biodiversity; endocrine disruptors, lead and mercury exposure reducing the IQs of our kids. They are too widespread and slow-moving to notice, and too far out into the future to worry about.

I think this cuts across political affiliations. There is no positive correlation between commitment to liberal values and the MPG rating of your personal vehicle.

Kevin, it is commendable that you are confronting this issue (it's been the topic of several post in the past couple months). Most of the political/current affairs blogs are pretty silent on the environment.

Posted by: JLowe at January 2, 2004 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K,

That Crichton speech reveals his pathetic misunderstanding of statistics, scientific evidence, and the scientific process. Please stop linking to it - it's getting annoying to have to smash it at every turn.

If you want to "bring a bit of science to this debate," perhaps you should read some science by some practicing climate scientists.

Posted by: ryan b at January 2, 2004 09:44 AM | PERMALINK

Not to belittle Mr. Crichton, but he is an author, not a scientist. He may be a smart man, but my money is on the folks with degrees in environmental science. Sure, a degree doesn't guarantee that you're smart, and peer review doesn't catch everything, but I have to imagine that the professionals are better than the amatuers. So, how about quotes and information from the researchers?

Posted by: Tyler at January 2, 2004 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

The enviros burned down the forests the past few years to save some kangaroo rats that got fried anyway. Serious environmentalism has got to be based on real science.

This statement right here shows that the author has no science background to bring into the debate, hence the link to an author rather than an actual scientist.

The Crichton agitprop meme shall go away soon, after all the unknowing who link to it get their 'argument' handed to them on a plate, all carved up.

D

Posted by: Dano at January 2, 2004 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

Does this guy really think that the GOP will be put into minority status due to neglect of the environment? If I were a GOP strategist, environmental protections wold be put firmly into the category of 'some whitewash, directed at suburban voters, combined with lots of blame [for causing the Destruction of American Jobs]'.

Posted by: Barry at January 2, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Of course we're emerging from an ice age. George Washington didn't have to cross the Delaware in a boat -- he and the army just walked across the glacier.

Why, the reason those ingenious Texans didn't invent air conditioning until the 20th century is that the place was so doggurned freezing in the 19th!

Posted by: AngryElephant at January 2, 2004 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Why, corporate America is so altruistic these days that we could probably repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act entirely..."

Nobody is seriously going to repeal either of these acts. But we don't need to constantly tighten the controls either. Unfortunately, it's all or nothing for too many people.

These were and are important acts, but lake Erie is no longer burning. The acts worked (and are working). Since we don't have the gross violations of 40 and 50 years ago, we continue to dumb down what a true envirmental catastrophy is.
Instead the enviromentalists focus on a very specific topic (take your pick - like SOCAL's smog), demonize it as the next Love Canal, and if anyone opposes them, they get branded with the "enviroment destroyer" label.

The same people who complain about SOCAL's smog problem drive to work every day in the #1 reason for the smog in the first place. We haven't seen a plan to get rid of the smog (except to reduce auto emmissions) since the 60's when there was talk of drilling a big hole through the San Bernadeno mountains, installing a fan and blowing all the smog into Arizona.

Posted by: Black Oak at January 2, 2004 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

We already know the Bush administration approach won't work. He tried it in Texas. It failed miserably. What other evidence do we need?

Posted by: PaulB at January 2, 2004 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

I thought you should all know that there is Republican pro-enviromental group called Republicans for Environmental Protection. I'm the state coordinator for Minnesota. You can find out about them at www.repamerica.org.

Posted by: Dennis at January 2, 2004 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Most of you have probably seen this "must-read" Environmentalist Manifesto by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Rolling Stone Mag. But for those of you with quizical looks on your faces, I give you this link:
http://www.rollingstone.com/features/nationalaffairs/featuregen.asp?pid=2154

As my pop says, if only 10% of this is true, we've been screwed. [I think the number is closer to 85% myself...]

Posted by: Keanu Reeves (no, really) at January 2, 2004 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K:

Caltech is "a well-known right-wing think tank?" Hmmmm. My son's working on his PhD at Caltech, is as liberal and progressive-minded as they come, and I don't recall him ever mentioning that Caltech is a right-wing think tank.

Maybe it's so "well known" that he felt it wasn't even worth mentioning.

Posted by: The Dad at January 2, 2004 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Polls over the past few years have shown decreasing concern about the environment. I think that this is in direct relation to the economy. In bad economic times, people care more about putting food on the table than the environment. If the economy is indeed improving, then the environment will slowly come back as a relevant issue. I don't think it will be a significant issue in 2004 however (unless we have a really hot summer or the mad cow issue focuses people on the Bush approach to regulatory issues in general).

Posted by: Stuart at January 2, 2004 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks much, Keanu.

Here's the link again, easier to get into: Kennedy article

I'm curious to hear what the drones (Black Oak?)think of the article or do they even bother checking? I have to assume they don't do much research otherwise there would be no drones left except the ones who are making money on Bu$hCo's rape & pillage regime.

Posted by: chris at January 2, 2004 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout

...and mountaintops. Here's one from American Footprint: Almost Level, West Virginia

Posted by: poputonian at January 2, 2004 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Reeves (you gotta be kidding), I read that article and wrote a little about it, along with other citations from AEI and the NRDC.

Posted by: Linkmeister at January 2, 2004 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Dad,

Mike K. was being ironic in calling CalTech a "right-wing think tank".

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at January 2, 2004 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

The current incarnation of the Republican Party seems to take the position that because the environment is getting better — thanks to a bunch of environmental legislation passed in the early 70s — we shouldn't worry about the environment anymore.

It's not just Republicans. That's a fair description of Gregg Easterbrook, too.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at January 2, 2004 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

i'll take Crichton's babbling without a grain of salt when the raptors battle the humans only to be hoisted on their own petard by T-Rex and when 11-year-old girls know Unix and when San Diego is destroyed and when Dave Duchovney's wife would actually marry the guy from Fargo.

Posted by: nova silverpill at January 2, 2004 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Crichton also created ER. Should take his medical advice ?

Posted by: ChrisL at January 2, 2004 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

It's good to see that there are some elements of the Republican party who are getting pissed off by this administration's environmental policy, too.

Posted by: DanM at January 2, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

I quit reading Crichton after 'Rising Sun' which is as racist a book as I've ever read. And his science isn't too hot, either, if his attempt to shoehorn chaos theory into 'Jurassic Park' is any indication.

Which is too bad. I actually liked 'The Androma Strain' and 'The Great Train Robbery'

Posted by: mecki at January 2, 2004 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

No, he was being sarcastic.

Irony would be if CalTech really was conservative and Mike K. was trying to be sarcastic about it being too liberal by sarcastically saying it's conservative.

Regardless, using a pop author to somehow scientifically support an argument, well, that's just Picklerish or Limbaughish. I get the two confused.

Posted by: Jeff Boatright at January 2, 2004 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Chris,
I guess I must be part of Bu$hCo's rape & pillage regime. I'm still waiting for my check. I'm sure it's in the mail.

That article is a shining jewel to my 10:07 AM post.

In it he basically says that the environment is in absolute ruins (I mean, there are no more trees, plants or animals left in the U.S.!). We are all going to DIE because Bush is the president. No one can breathe or swim anywhere. No wildlife can be found anywhere.

But boy it sure was grand under Clinton. He was great. Unicorns pranced through pristine, virgin Old Growth forests. All ruined (raped and pillaged - so to speak) in just three short years of Evil Bush.

Him practicing envirmental law and therefore finding enviromental disaster under every rock has nothing (nothing I say!) to do with his article or stance. I'm sure that he does almost all his work pro bono.

Posted by: Black Oak at January 2, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

"If you want to "bring a bit of science to this debate," perhaps you should read some science by some practicing climate scientists."

Of course you know that the committee that blasted Bjorn Lomborg has now been disowned by the Danish government. The climate scientists whose work I read (not the politically inspired 'executive summary') are undecided. The "human effect" is now thought to have begun when man first began to cut down forests for agriculture.

Dad, I was being sarcastic anticipating the coments of dummies who don't know that Crichton is a doctor and might know a little about medicine.

As far as my science background is concerned, I'm sure my three degrees won't match up to yours. Crichton is an author and a pretty fair futurist. I'll take him over Robert junior.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

...dummies who don't know that Crichton is a doctor...

ok. i didn't know it. i always assumed ER was just his way of cashing in on a lucrative TV deal. :)

Posted by: ChrisL at January 2, 2004 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Nah, I knew he's a doc-turned-author. So what does that have to do with science?

As for being a fair futurist, what has he predicted that has come true? I'm not saying he hasn't, but I'm a dummy when it comes to futurists.

Three degrees? What, you couldn't get it right the first two times? ;)

Posted by: Jeff Boatright at January 2, 2004 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Tyler,

in response to your request for "about quotes and information from the researchers," here is a link to the Nature Conservancy who has a section on their website on Global Climate Change:
http://nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/

Posted by: EricBrian at January 2, 2004 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

uh - you ever see disclosure (circa 1995)?

did you think that executives in 1995 much less 2003 or 2013 would be using VR goggles and cheerleading moves to access a friggin' database?

he write fiction! if we are looking for presience in that field William Gibson is a better fit, and in non-fiction Kurzweil.

Posted by: nova silverpill at January 2, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Crichton isn't a doctor; he finished medical school but didn't get his MD. He writes fun books, and ER was great.

Bjorn Lomborg isn't any kind of environmental scientist. He's a statistician.

Posted by: Eli at January 2, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think there is a great deal still not understood about climate changes and what, if anything, to do about it. There is a recent book called "The Little Ice Age" that is worth reading and a larger book "Climate and History", an approximate title, that covers a lot of territory although it is about 10 years old. I teach students about the same age as many of the posters here. I think reading about these subjects, and trying to get past the obvious political motivations of many people who write polemics on the subject, is a good way to spend time. Of course, it is less work to fire off opinions that sound virtuous. Crichton's point in two talks he gave on the subject is that a lot of bad science is floating around on both sides. It's really hard to sort out the science from the politics. Lomborg made an effort and was trashed by people who aren't trying to understand the science. If you don't like my opinion, tell me where to find some more objective info.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K wrote: Lomborg made an effort and was trashed by people who aren't trying to understand the science.

I think you're wrong on both counts. Lomborg's book was not a sincere effort to highlight the science, it was a polemic, and the people attacking Lomborg included many people who did understand the science involved.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough at January 2, 2004 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus.

There's goes my hope for the new year.

Yeah, if you look out the window and there's trees there, and if you go to a park and see a squirrel, there's nothing truly wrong with the environment. Sure, you can't eat fish if you're pregnant, and forests the size of Nevada disappear every day (sure, they regulate regional and global climate patterns and provide habitat for so many things we don't even know about half of them, but oh well...), and certain species of eatin' fish are becoming seriously depleted to the point that if there were any sort of natural disaster effecting them they'd be gone for good...

Sure, we've entered an era of mass extinctions:

http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/08/23/green.century.mass.extinction/index.html

brought about solely by the influence of man on par with the extintion of the dinosaurs in that extinction rates are happening somewhere between 100 and 1,000 times faster than natural rates.

And sure, floods are more prevalent and damaging than ever thanks to deforestation and the disappearence of wetlands...

But I looked out my window today and saw trees- so everything must be OK!

Also, people drive cars so somehow they can't complain about air quality even though it's largely out of their hands how a nation shapes their mass transit systems.

Also- people still write on paper so they can't complain about trees.

Also- people still eat meat so they can't complain about bengal tigers going extinct...

somehow that's how it works, don't ask me why, I'm too fucking stupid.

Posted by: Tim at January 2, 2004 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah.

I forgot to mention how people who know what they're talking about, like scientists, are biased.

Of course they're going to see problems with the environment everywhere! It's their profession to be able to determine these things!

You can't trust them, just like you can't trust a doctor when he says you're at risk for heart disease- Of course he's going to say you're at risk, it's his professional training to be able to spot things like that!

God, all you people who believe experts who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and science usually for very little reward sure are stupid. It's the pulp novelists and bitter, lone critics with no expertise in the subjects they attack we should be listening to!!

Wake up people!!

Posted by: Tim at January 2, 2004 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Kleiman does a good job discussing the Crichton speech here.

If you don't want to read his post, at least have a look at this article on the American Geophysical Union website.

Posted by: cafl at January 2, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh. James Glassman is trolling again...

1. Read David Appell on the Lomborg issue:


The ruling is somewhat technical, commenting not on Lomborg's scientific accuracy but holding that he could only have been brought up on charges of fraud, not accusations of failure to follow "good scientific practise." Ecologist Stuart Pimm of Columbia University calls it "a pardon from the political leadership."

2. Michael effing Crichton? Is that the best you can do?

3. Smog is not a problem? LOL.

4. RFK, Jr. went a little over the top. But he's right about the general tenor and direction Bush is going.

5. Read Mother Jones on the Bush admin's industry capture technique.

Posted by: praktike at January 2, 2004 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kleiman's post suggests substituting nuclear power for coal fired electricity generation. The problem is that many of the environmental enthusiasts ("wackos" passed through my mind) are opposed to nuclear power for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment or global warming.

The most vociforous critc of Lomborg was Scientific American which sponsored a series of blasts at him without giving him the chance to respond. Not a sign of objectivity. His web site has his rebuttal. SA has polemical tendencies going back to Gerard Piel, the publisher who I knew 35 years ago.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

JLowe said: "There is no positive correlation between commitment to liberal values and the MPG rating of your personal vehicle."

Unless you've conducted a study supporting this conclusion or can point to one which does, this statement can amount only to pure conjecture, based not even on any notions of yours that you've seen fit to share with us. One can only assume they are not convincingly supportive.

While I've also not collected any data, I do have some notions which run contrary to your conclusion: It seems logical to me that persons who choose very high mpg cars (such as hybrid vehicles with their low emissions) have a deeper commitment to environmental causes than most. That would be consistent with liberal values. I think it's also reasonable to believe that persons of lower economic status are generally more liberal than those more affluent and that their limited income would incline them toward purchasing high mpg economy cars versus, say, gas guzzling SUVs.

Again, despite my opinion of its reasonability, I can't prove a positive correlation. But you have made a blanket assertion with no more authority than your assumed integrity. Do you have anything else? (Knowing a liberal with a Navigator doesn't count.)

By the way, the rest of your post, though also mostly conjecture, did seemed based in fairly sound reasoning. I agree that most people do not place environmental issues at a top level when considering candidates, unless they are convinced of a direct affect on themselves. Nothing shakes them up quite like having about fifty kids suddenly stricken with cancer in their neighborhoods. Progressives need to frame the issues more personally and more graphically. It's not about toxins being out there, it's about the POISONS we all are eating, drinking, and breathing.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 2, 2004 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Balck Oak - a few years ago I would have agreed with you about no one seriusly considering repealign these laws.

And you're right, it won't happen. Instead we'll get news laws ""CLean skies" which change the law.

Nothing's repealed but it's a very different law environment out there. Especilly now.

This is from soeone who supports Healthy Forests excpet for the provision which allows Timber companies to decide what's recoverable.

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at January 2, 2004 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

My speel chequer wiz brken.

Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at January 2, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K writes: As far as my science background is concerned, I'm sure my three degrees won't match up to yours. Crichton is an author and a pretty fair futurist. I'll take him over Robert junior.

Robert Jr. (on whom I don't have much of an opinion) aside, I'm sure you're more than qualified to evaluate a decent piece of science writing, which is why it's disappointing to see you linking to that speech.

Let's take Chricton's example of secondhand smoke. He writes: In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.)

Now, it's unclear what the words "risk factor" are supposed to mean here, since risk is variously quantified by population attributable risk, relative risk, odds ratio, or some other epidemioloigical quanity. Be it any of these or any other commonly referenced quantification of risk increase, it is simply false the NEJM would not publish based on a "risk factor below 3.0." I myself have published meaningful results in that very journal which fall far below Chrichton's magical 3.0 threshold, and some of which were not "statistically significant" as he would define it. JAMA, NEJM and all manner of medical and public health journals are simply stuffed with highly "statistically significant" results with risk quantities far below 3.0, as are Science, Nature, and hundreds of other scientific publications.

To continue, Chrichton states that since there was no statistical association at the 95% coinfidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified second hand smoke as a Group A Carcinogen.

While he is factually correct concerning the "confidence limits," Chrichton he betrays his misunderstanding of statistics. It's not true that an experiment that fails to achieve "statistical significance" at an alpha level of .05 shows "no statistical association" between exposure and disease (in this case death.) Rather, it merely shows that the association fails to meet a very rigorous threshold that Fisher chose on a whim, and himself rejected as an arbiter of scientific validity. Contrary to Chrichton's apparent belief, stating that a relationship that fails to achieve Fisher's magic threshold is nevertheless a compelling result does not constitute "openly fraudulent science." It does not, as he argues, relegate the claim of a relationship to "the grossest of superstitions."

On a commonsense lever, Chrichton is saying, in rough terms, that since secondhand smoke displayed "only" about a 90% likelihood of increasing the rate of death (as opposed to 95%) to those exposed, the EPA was wrong to classify it as a group A carcinogen. I submit to you that that's a pretty silly example on which to build a skeptic's case. That's like saying that if you step on a rusty nail you shouldn't get a shot, because you're "only" very likely to get tetanus. And moreover, it ignores the vast number of individuals who were exposed to secondhand smoke, as if somehow the scale of the potential exposure is irrelevant to the question of policy.

Chrichton fails to articulate the difference between (a) uncertain knowledge and (b) complete lack of knowledge. He equates uncertainty with ignorance in arguments on climate change are irrelevant to humanity's future existence.

In addition, he fails to distinguish between (1) knowing that something is true and (2) acting a certain way because something may be true. I know I probably won't die this year, but I've got life insurance just in case. Chrichton presumably would argue that I'm stupid or irrational for doing so. Me, I prefer to exercise a bit of risk aversion in my daily life, in exchange for a some peace of mind. I'm sure most here (and you yourself) would agree.

Chrichton's point about not letting politics decide questions of science, on the other hand, is quite well taken. I would have preferred that he chose examples that better illustrated his point.


Posted by: ryan b at January 2, 2004 01:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem is that many of the environmental enthusiasts ("wackos" passed through my mind) are opposed to nuclear power for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment or global warming."

OK, Rush, I mean, Mike K., I'll bite: What reasons, other than meltdown (which I think many environmentally conscious people have come to realize our technology can now limit if not eliminate) and disposal of nuclear wastes (a much more intractable problem), do the "wackos" have for opposing nuclear power? Let me guess: they hate capitalism and America, right?

The problem with the Lomborgs & Bushes of the world is that they render scientific scepticism as scepticism of science. If a theory like global warming is not fully revealed, it is somehow discredited. Kind of like the creationism strategy, with rigor as a one-way street. Since evolution does not fully explain everything, the world must have been created in six days, 4500 years ago.

Posted by: Bloggerhead at January 2, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'll just repeat that everybody should check out that link to Kennedy Jr. in the Rolling Stone.

In a nutshell. He supports the idea that the free market COULD take care of enviromental issues...if they were actually seen in the cost of goods/services/profit margins. What happens now, is polluters get to externalize their costs onto the rest of society. That completly screws up the whole idea of a free market.

We'll all be talking about this in 10, maybe 5 years.

Posted by: Karmakin at January 2, 2004 01:55 PM | PERMALINK
Michael Crichton isn't a doctor; he finished medical school but didn't get his MD.

"Finished medical school but didn't get his MD" doesn't sound likely; unless you are using either "finish" or "medical school" in an unusual manner.

According this site, he received an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969 and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences for a year after that.

You may mean that he never completed the some licensing requirements to practice medicine, or that even if he did, he has never practiced medicine, the latter of which seems to be true, at least, and possibly the former. But he seems to have gotten his MD.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 2, 2004 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

Karmakin -

Correct. Unfortunately, the free market does not, and cannot by itself, capture the external costs. That's what government is for.

Free market capitalism works great, except where it doesn't.

Posted by: craigie at January 2, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

What happens now, is polluters get to externalize their costs onto the rest of society. That completly screws up the whole idea of a free market.

What is sad is that the past environmental policies out of Washington helped usher in free enterprise driven clean industry -- organic foods, for example -- where the producers do capture all the costs of their production. They clean up after themselves. Bush's rollback of environmental enforcement actually favors protectionism over free enterprise; the old guard over the new; the dirty over the clean; the cronies over the outsiders.

Unfortunate it is that the enlightening results of the past few decades are lost on the puny, unlearned brain of an illiterate president.

Posted by: poputonian at January 2, 2004 02:31 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K said: "The problem is that many of the environmental enthusiasts ("wackos" passed through my mind) are opposed to nuclear power for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment or global warming."

I don't understand why this opinion of yours was framed as if to imply some secret and nefarious reasons on the part of environmentalists for opposing nuclear power beyond its potential for harming the environment. I am one wacko who will gladly state mine.

The cost in the U.S. of a kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by:

Natural Gas...........3-4 cents
Coal......................4-5 cents
Wind.....................4-5 cents
Solar Thermal........5-6 cents
Nuclear.................10-21 cents

http://wwwistp.murdoch.edu.au/teaching/N212/n212content/topics/topic6/6electricity.html

The above cost for nuclear power does not include waste disposal, refitting and modernization, or decommission and dismantling. These can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per plant. It also does not reflect the fact that in the past fifty years $135 billion of federally funded subsidies have gone to the nuclear industry.

Opposing nuclear power on economic grounds seems like a good reason even for non-wackos.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 2, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, sorry, yes that is what I meant. Of course even if MC were a practicing physician he could still write sloppy science.

Posted by: Eli at January 2, 2004 03:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, it's unclear what the words "risk factor" are supposed to mean here, since risk is variously quantified by population attributable risk, relative risk, odds ratio, or some other epidemioloigical quanity. Be it any of these or any other commonly referenced quantification of risk increase, it is simply false the NEJM would not publish based on a "risk factor below 3.0." I myself have published meaningful results in that very journal which fall far below Chrichton's magical 3.0 threshold, and some of which were not "statistically significant" as he would define it. JAMA, NEJM and all manner of medical and public health journals are simply stuffed with highly "statistically significant" results with risk quantities far below 3.0, as are Science, Nature, and hundreds of other scientific publications."

The issue is the sample size which determines the probability ('p factor') that the result is not a random one. Second hand smoke studies began as a study of Japanese wives of heavy smokers who had an increased risk of lung cancer even though they did not themselves smoke. If you've published in the NEJM, you know that. It has been stretched far beyond the science because it fits with an anti-smoking agenda.

"The cost in the U.S. of a kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by:

Natural Gas...........3-4 cents
Coal......................4-5 cents
Wind.....................4-5 cents
Solar Thermal........5-6 cents
Nuclear.................10-21 cents

http://wwwistp.murdoch.edu.au/teaching/N212/n212content/topics/topic6/6electricity.html

The above cost for nuclear power does not include waste disposal, refitting and modernization, or decommission and dismantling. "

It does include the enormous costs of litigation by anti-nuclear activitsts like you who were determined to prevent its implementation. The entire debate has been poisoned by the groups who, because they were anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons, fought nuclear power. It's a free country and you can oppose nuclear power all you want. I'm just asking that you acknowledge what is happening.

Also, I suspect your natural gas numbers are far out of date. The lemming-like rush to gas fired plants has caused a spike in natural gas rates.


"OK, Rush, I mean, Mike K., I'll bite: What reasons, other than meltdown "

This is not helpful but no doubt makes you feel better. This is exactly what I'm talking about.

PS I don't listen to Limbaugh and was not surprised at the news of his addiction troubles because his obesity suggests that he has a problem that way. Now I'm anti-fat.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 03:26 PM | PERMALINK

On the next part of Crichton's site, he has a speech where he claims that DDT is not a carcinogen. Unfortunately for him, it is a proven carcinogen in animal models (cf. http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/ScienceTechnology/ftp/chap8.pdf).

Look, he's an OK author (I liked "The Eaters of the Dead" as a riff on Beowulf, don't like his other stuff), but He. Is. Not. An. Environmental. Scientist. Of. Any. Description.

Posted by: Tom at January 2, 2004 03:58 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K said: "It does include the enormous costs of litigation by anti-nuclear activitsts like you who were determined to prevent its implementation."

Even if those "enormous costs" rose to tens of millions of dollars, they would be as a pittance when amortized over trillions of kilowatt-hours. Subtracting them would change not at all the fact that nuclear power is not cost effective and represents the poorest value for one's energy dollar.

"Also, I suspect your natural gas numbers are far out of date. The lemming-like rush to gas fired plants has caused a spike in natural gas rates."

They are from the year 2000. Again, even the recent spike in the price of natural gas--likely temporary--would not appreciably change the gross disparity between the cost for nuclear generated energy versus every other source.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 2, 2004 04:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The cost in the U.S. of a kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by:

Natural Gas...........3-4 cents
Coal......................4-5 cents
Wind.....................4-5 cents
Solar Thermal........5-6 cents
Nuclear.................10-21 cents

http://wwwistp.murdoch.edu.au/teaching/N212/n212content/topics/topic6/6electricity.html

The above cost for nuclear power does not include waste disposal, refitting and modernization, or decommission and dismantling. "

Sorry to bring the French into that debate, but I would like to provide a link to an official French Ministry of Industry study on electricity production costs (link: http://www.industrie.gouv.fr/energie/electric/cout-synthese.pdf)
For base load production only, and taking into account dismantlemant costs and waste treatment; it shows the following numbers:

Natural Gas: 3-4 cents
Coal: 3-5 cents
Nuclear: 3 cents

(There are no numbers for renewables in that study; an earlier study done in 97 put such electricity at approx. 5 cents, which is still about right)

Now, of course, they have a vested interest in promoting nuclear (currently 80% of electricty production in France) and they also need to take into account that France needs to import 100% of its coal or natural gas, but the methodology is extremely detailed (in French) and the results cannot be discounted so easily. There are 30 years of successful operations with a very centralised organisation - one design, one operator, and France does have the cheapest electricity in Europe (Greenpeace has its view on that, but the link is currently down, sorry, you can go to greepeace.fr and search for "eole vs pluton")

The Chrichton text is interesting (re the politisation of science), but the fact that some of his examples are false (on the cost of wind energy, for instance) makes you question the whole thing...

Posted by: Jerome G at January 2, 2004 04:52 PM | PERMALINK

A few months ago, which side was screaming about celebrities speaking their minds on public policy?

What makes a writer any more qualified to comment on the environment than an actor or director on politics?

Just checking.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at January 2, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK
cmdicely, sorry, yes that is what I meant. Of course even if MC were a practicing physician he could still write sloppy science.

Heck, even if we were still a working scientist, as he was 35 years ago, he could write sloppy science.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 2, 2004 04:58 PM | PERMALINK
Correct. Unfortunately, the free market does not, and cannot by itself, capture the external costs. That's what government is for.

Free market capitalism works great, except where it doesn't.

Oddly enough, Adam Smith said pretty much exactly that. Laissez-faire capitalists seem to forget that.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 2, 2004 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jerome G posted French costs for energy:

"Natural Gas: 3-4 cents
Coal: 3-5 cents
Nuclear: 3 cents"

Unable to read French, I cannot know whether these figures include plant construction costs, which amounts to billions.

"Now, of course, they have a vested interest in promoting nuclear (currently 80% of electricty production in France) and they also need to take into account that France needs to import 100% of its coal or natural gas,"

So how much do the French pay in taxes to support subsidies to their nuclear industry? Surely it amounts to as much as the 1/2 cent difference between nuclear and natural gas--which, clearly, is proportionately higher due to their need to import it.

More importantly, though, as a citizen/resident of the U.S., I cannot purchase energy from French power plants. Let's talk again when it gets to 3 cents here.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 2, 2004 05:10 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is the sample size which determines the probability ('p factor') that the result is not a random one.

No, the issue he appeared to be raising in the passage I cited was the size of the effect He does ALSO raise the question of the p-value - he implies that it was between .05 and .1, since the confidence limit issue was solved by switching from the .95 to the .9 threshold. Again, if you want to consider the .1 a "large" probability that the effect was simply random noise, fine, but it seems to me that if you've got an exposure that is 90% likely to increase the hazard of death, then that's not something simply to dismiss.

(Note also that we're both misinterpreting the p-value here - it's really not a probability at all, after the fact. That's actually a BIG part of the problem with interpreting these kind of results - but even using this flawed interpretation, Chrichton's reasoning is unsound.)

Posted by: ryan b at January 2, 2004 05:35 PM | PERMALINK

To jayarbee:

these numbers include all plant lifetime costs, including initial investments and financing costs.
There is no direct subsidy to nuclear power in France; quite the contrary, EDF, the (state-owned) production company, is regularly "raided" by the governemnt looking for cash to fill the budget deficit...

of course, you cannot buy French N-power in the US. The point is only that nuclear can be economically competitive vs other energy sources, in reply to an earlier post.
(FYI, the French N-plans ALL use US technology initially developed by Westinghouse)

Posted by: Jerome G at January 2, 2004 05:35 PM | PERMALINK

With respect to DDT I offer the following quote from American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Oct 2002--

"Most of the 130 million people living on Java never experienced the hyper- and holoendemic malaria that occurred throughout most of the island before the effective DDT spraying and chloroquine treatment campaigns of the 1950s. Reintroduced endemic malaria threatens the island of Java."

Malaria is killing millions per year and the evidence that DDT harmed anyone is very thin. EVERYTHING causes cancer in animals. The dose determines the poison. That's a quote from toxicology 1A.

The French have been generating 80% of their electricity for 40 years from nuclear. I'll take their figures.

Posted by: Mike K at January 2, 2004 05:38 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't heard of old Pete McCloskey in years.

Even in the old days McCloskey challenged the Republican establishment. In 1972 he challenged President Nixon in the primaries, running as an antiwar candidate.

Posted by: rachelrachel at January 2, 2004 05:52 PM | PERMALINK

It is true that the earth is warming. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. The proof is simple. The spot where I am sitting and typing this message right now in the year 2004, less than 15,000 years ago was buried under several thousand feet of ice. Good thing it got warmer.

What makes you think the the predominant temperature of the past few decades is the "correct" temperature?


Posted by: jsr at January 2, 2004 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

jsr

There is no "correct" temperature. However, we have built our istitutions, structures etc. assuming that this was the temperature we would see in the future. Any significant change is going to have a huge cost to humanity so in our own self-interest we should maintain the present temperature.

Posted by: ____league at January 3, 2004 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

ryan b: nice when someone who knows what he is talking about weighs in.

And as Barry said above, this issue is basically a winner for the Repubs. All Bush has to do is sputter:

"I'm for American jobs, not some spotted owl, snail darter, or weak salamander. I trust the American people (read: corporations privitizing the profits, externalizing the costs) to make these decisions themselves, not some government bureaucrat." (bobs head, grabs crotch, spits)

One of the big advantages of a representative democracy is that the general population doesn't have to become an expert on every public issue. The costs of individually gathering the info are too high. That's what our representatives are for - they listen to the experts, make the choice they believe reflects their constituents' values, and have good faith debates at election time that inform the voters, aided by a truth-seeking, watchdog media.

*cough*

Posted by: andrew at January 3, 2004 07:36 AM | PERMALINK

off the top of my head:

seems like nuclear plants would be more susceptible to terrorist attack than windmills.

good thing we're safer now because of the war.

how was it? the environmentalists are alarmists and the neocons are realists.

i'll just keep repeating that to myself.


Posted by: candora at January 3, 2004 01:12 PM | PERMALINK

"seems like nuclear plants would be more susceptible to terrorist attack than windmills."

Do you know how many windmills would be needed to supply 80% of the electrical energy for France ?

This kind of silliness is what makes dialogue with enviromentalists so difficult. In California, solar is a real possibility for electrical generation in a home. I've been considering it since Gray Davis got his hands on my electricity bill. It still, even with $250 a month electric bills, doesn't pay. It might eventually. It will never be adequate for industrial uses. I've seen a figure about how large the solar array would have to be to supply 50% of our electric power. About the size of Arizona would do it for California.

There is just no realism on the part of 95% of enviros.

Posted by: Mike K at January 3, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

If rooftops of buildings and dwellings were converted to solar power generation in CA, there would less fossil fuel usage for power generation, and the resulting savings could be used for research into alternative energy sources.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at January 3, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

GO KERRY!

He is the only one who can effectively turn around the rotten situation that Bush has left us with on the environment!! He is the only one with that level of commitment on this critical issue. Not to mention his outstanding ENERGY PLAN!

JohnKerry.com

Posted by: Hope at January 3, 2004 07:21 PM | PERMALINK

"If rooftops of buildings and dwellings were converted to solar power generation in CA, there would less fossil fuel usage for power generation, and the resulting savings could be used for research into alternative energy sources."

All of this is going on now. The problem, one of many, is multistory buildings. The roof is a much smaller percentage of the square footage than a home, many of which are one story and are not using energy during the day. The big "alternative energy" source is nuclear.

Posted by: Mike K at January 3, 2004 09:00 PM | PERMALINK

The solar panels on the roofs of houses can channel electricity into the grid if it's not being used by the inhabitants of the home.

While multi-story buildings do have a smaller roof/cubic space ratio than smaller buildings, changing sunlight into power would be a more productive use than 99% of the roofs are being used for now.

I have a friend who is into space science, technology, etc. His suggestion wasn't nuclear power, it's solar satellites that transmit power down space elevators that link them to the ground using composite buckyball carbon fibers as the main building block for the space elevator.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at January 3, 2004 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

It is hard to take seriously someone who blames the guy who was governor at the time for events caused by legislation signed by his predecessor, scamming by Bush’s largest contributors and their cronies, with a gentle helping hand from Bush himself. Is there some rule that prevents Republicans from having any understanding of cause and effect?

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 3, 2004 09:52 PM | PERMALINK

Large scale solar power is 10 TIMES more expensive than current electricity prices (although it makes sense for isolated locations or small scale use (i.e. a house...).

Wind is currently 0-40% more expensive than gas or coal-fired plants, which means that it is already possible to build large scale plants with limited subsidies - and IT IS done, and IT IS being financed by the private sector (I know, that's what I do).
The problem of wind is that it is intermittent, i.e. it produces when there is wind, not when you actually need it. As electricity cannot be stored, this is an issue - or it will be an issue once wind power reaches approx. 20% of total production. You still need coal or gas or nuclear (or for those that can, hydro) for "baseload" production, i.e. electricity available 24/7. (Wind represents less than 1% in the US, but 5% in Germany and close to 40% in some parts of Denmark)

You may want to note that Germany had built at the end of 2002 12000 MW of wind power (that's the equivalent of 10 nuclear plants in capacity, or approx. 3 in actual output). The USA had 5000 MW at then end of 2002. In Europe, more wind power capacity is currently being built than all other power sources together; it's a 10-billion-dollar industry there.

Posted by: Jerome G at January 4, 2004 03:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Of course we're emerging from an ice age. George Washington didn't have to cross the Delaware in a boat -- he and the army just walked across the glacier."

Bullshit. I've seen the boats. They're not more than ten miles from where I sit.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan at January 4, 2004 07:15 AM | PERMALINK

As electricity cannot be stored, this is an issue - or it will be an issue once wind power reaches approx. 20% of total production.

What about commercial use batteries? (serious inquiry - I'm no scientist but had thought some kind of storage medium for electricity was feasible).

Or, couldn't some of the electricity generated by wind power be diverted into making, say, hydrogen (which can be stored)?

Posted by: P. B. Almeida at January 4, 2004 09:23 AM | PERMALINK

"It is hard to take seriously someone who blames the guy who was governor at the time for events caused by legislation signed by his predecessor, scamming by Bush’s largest contributors and their cronies, with a gentle helping hand from Bush himself."

The "deregulation" legislation was written by the utilities who made a massive miscalculation. Some of their concern was to recapture the "stranded costs" of cancelled nuclear plants dating back to the 1970s when the nuclear power industry got trashed by enviro lawsuits. In 2000 the utilities realized their mistake and asked to be allowed to sign long term contracts at the then still low wholesale rates. They had been obliged to sell all their generating capacity by the legislation and had to buy all power in a daily spot market. OK if prices are declining but deadly if they start to rise.

Davis refused to permit it and froze when the prices started to rise. He could have avoided the debacle and didn't. Pete Wilson signed the original legislation, true, but it was written and passed by the overwhelmingly Democratic California legislature. There is plenty of blame to go around.

The Bush allegations are mostly bunk. Enron did what anyone would do when they see large denomination bills left lying on the sidewalk. They grabbed it. Stupidity is no defense for the people who wrote the law that left the money lying on the sidewalk. If Enron made out so big why are they bankrupt ? They were dopes who thought they had figured out a new way to make money. There's one born every minute.

Posted by: Mike K at January 4, 2004 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

What a charming defense of Enron’s massive criminal enterprise – it’s not their fault that the alarm system was broken; they just found out about it and robbed the jewelry store. The money wasn’t on the sidewalk, the money was in the store, behind locked doors, they found a window left open a crack and jimmied it open to burglarize the place.

The asinine, if they made out so well, why are they bankrupt defense is no better. They are bankrupt because their criminal behavior in CA wasn’t enough to cover their check-kiting scheme all over the rest of the world. This is why it is hard to take you seriously; your defenses of Enron and Bush (whose FERC head was selected by Kenny Boy and who chose to eliminate the caps placed by Clinton on wholesale prices).

In no way have you demonstrated any blame attaches to Davis. All you say is that, like all cautious politicians, he was slow to act. Well, sorry, but the evidence of massive fraud wasn’t available until it was already too late. The problem wasn’t that the companies couldn’t sign long term contracts, the problem was that the suppliers created a system where they benefited from decreasing the supply. That a Democratic legislature capitulated to the demands of Republican run energy concerns is sickening, but still doesn’t place the blame on Davis.

Even your, “there is plenty of blame to go around” defense fails to support your whine that Davis got his hands on your energy bill.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 4, 2004 01:37 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem wasn’t that the companies couldn’t sign long term contracts, the problem was that the suppliers created a system where they benefited from decreasing the supply."

The suppliers, if you mean Enron and the Arizona Navajo reservation coal plants and bunch of other power generators, did not "create" the situation. They were beneficiaries of legislation that the utilities sponsored and wrote but which required them to divest themselves of generating capacity in return for the right to recover stranded costs.

Did the cartel of suppliers benefit from manipulating the wholesale power supply ? Yes. Did the State of California leave the door wide open for this manipulation ? Yes.

They did go to the PUC and ask to have the regulations changed to allow long term contracts. That is in the public record. Denying what is in the LA Times archives is spin, not fact.

There really wasn't massive fraud. That is a defense concocted by Democrats desperate to deflect blame. Steve Peace, whose other writing triumph was "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes", wrote the bill. The legislature passed it without reading it, as is the usual practice. It was dumb and probably intended to benefit the utilities but they screwed up. They wound up broke. That isn't success in anybody's book.

Davis didn't write or sign the bill. He could have been a hero but he was just another jerk, like almost everybody in the fiasco. You can try to defend him but it's a futile exercise. Of course, futile exercises seem to be popular around here.

Democrats "capitulating" to Republicans in California is pretty funny.

Posted by: Mike K at January 4, 2004 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

And still nothing you’ve said defends your “since Gray Davis got his hands on my electricity bill.” As you have admitted, in the end all you can say about Davis is that he didn’t do enough once the scope of the fraud was discovered. And there was fraud; anyone who claims otherwise can hardly be considered a reliable source for information on the subject. What is it called when you schedule massive amounts of power on a grid with the sole intention of using that as a means of getting paid for canceling that power? What is it called when power suppliers shut down plants at peak usage in order to create an artificial shortage? Sorry Mike, Davis didn’t do any of these things and he didn’t create the situation the allowed them to happen. This is the difference between Democrats who are trying to get the culprits to pay and Republicans who would rather concoct myths claiming that “Gray Davis got his hands on my electricity bill.”

As to your inability to understand the effect of term limits on the legislative bodies and how that works in conjunction with the lobbyists, once again you demonstrate a lack of seriousness. Read my post again, nothing in it said that the Democrats capitulated to Republicans, but rather to Republican companies and their lobbyists. The law was written by Republican companies, for their benefit and it was signed into law by a Republican governor.

You can continue to blame Davis for events outside of his control, but it is a futile exercise when confronted with someone who knows the facts. But Republicans seem fond of futile exercises.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 4, 2004 03:49 PM | PERMALINK

"The law was written by Republican companies, for their benefit and it was signed into law by a Republican governor."

Actually the chairman of So Cal Edison has been active in Democratic politics. Davis is the reason why, when there was a chance to stop the crash, nothing happened. The fraud allegations might be correct but we'll have to see if anyone is actually charged and convicted. "Fraud" does not consist of stuff you don't like. There is actually a statute and courts that decide those things. Davis is a dead horse. I would suggest, in the words of a well-known Democratic group, you Move On. The legal cases will take a while. I hold no brief for any of those people. Davis failed; big time.

Posted by: Mike K at January 4, 2004 05:51 PM | PERMALINK

That the chairman of SoCal Edison is a Democrat is hardly convincing evidence that the bulk of the industry is Democratic, nor even that it is largely bi-partisan. You refuse to back up your reflexive Republican smear of Davis that he “got his hands on my electricity bill.” All you have done is show that he didn’t do enough to stop the fraudulent behavior. It isn’t just that I don’t like gouging (which is what it is called when you jack up the price during a crisis); it is that it is illegal. The question of conviction is now, because of people like you willing to lie about the events, their causes, and their solutions, much less likely as a governor hostile to the interests of the tax and rate payers of CA has been elected and is working to undermine those interests by letting the criminals off scot-free.

Davis didn’t cause your electricity bill to go up – those who wrote the legislation, those who signed it, and those who gamed the system (largely those in the first category) must take the lion’s share of the blame.

As for moving on, I will be glad to do so when people like you cease to lie about the events. And remember, it wasn’t my post that started this derailment; it was your casual lie that Davis was responsible for your electricity costs going up. Admit that this was a baseless and irresponsible smear and I will be glad to move on knowing that the truth has prevailed.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 4, 2004 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

"It isn’t just that I don’t like gouging (which is what it is called when you jack up the price during a crisis); it is that it is illegal. The question of conviction is now, because of people like you willing to lie about the events, their causes, and their solutions, much less likely as a governor hostile to the interests of the tax and rate payers of CA has been elected and is working to undermine those interests by letting the criminals off scot-free."

It's sad when the word "lie" is used in place of argument.

If the price gouging in the electricity crisis is "illegal", the courts should figure that out.

The election of a new governor is not going to "let[ing] the criminals off scot free" as the state legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat and the courts are fairly evenly balanced (unlike the 9th circuit which is extreme leftist). Surely you have some confidence in democratic government. Don't you ? Accusing people who don't agree with you of lying is a coward's way of avoiding the defense of your arguments. You can either make the case or you can't. The alternative used to be called the game of "uproar" when you threw up the chessboard because you knew you couldn't win. Is that what you're doing ?

Posted by: Mike K at January 4, 2004 09:04 PM | PERMALINK

It is a sad day when pointing out lying is seen as a failure of argumentation. You claimed, without justification, that Davis “got his hands on my electricity bill.” You have provided no evidence that Davis was at fault. Either back up your statement or admit you weren’t being honest. Your characterization of the legal situation is no more honest either. Unless you are completely ignorant of the workings of criminal cases you must be aware that complex prosecutions considerable time and money. A governor who uses his power to quash ongoing investigations or to settle for pennies on the dollar (as the newly elected governor in CA seems bent on doing) can determine just how much justice is available. This has nothing to do with the courts (not even the 9th which only far right nutcases consider extreme), and everything to do with the fact that there are prosecutorial judgments made for political reasons.

Again, until you provide even the scantiest justification for your smear against Davis, the burden isn’t on me to refute your blanket claim. Remember, in order for Davis to have gotten his hands on your electricity bill, he would have to have at least a plurality of the culpability – that is, he would have to be the most significant cause for your electricity bill’s increase. If I have called you a liar, it is because you can’t back up your nonsense. Since you refuse to provide any facts to support your contention, I am forced to notice your projection when invoking “uproar.” Provide facts, or stop banging the table.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 4, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry that should be: complex prosecutions entail considerable time and money

Even so, put up or shut up. Either you can demonstrate that Davis cost you money or you are simply repeating Republican talking points, and I contend that it is the latter rather than the former.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at January 5, 2004 01:48 AM | PERMALINK

P.B,
No, as Jerome said, there is no good reasonable way to store electricity.

It would take a zillion batteries with all their chemical problems. Flywheels can't store enough. Hydrogen leaks out of most containers, which is why the hydro car is a ways off. First they need to invent a cheap way to contain it.

And as we found from the blackout last summer, the supply of electricity better be very close to the demand at all times, or bad things happen.

Posted by: Tripp at January 5, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: texas holdem tips at April 10, 2004 01:03 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: world poker tour at May 1, 2004 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks that air and water pollution control and environmental considerations did not exist until the 60s is willfully ignorant or profoundly stupid or, most likely, both.
We in the Frisco Bay region are restoring malaria to the people in an action likely to make Bay Area houses as cheap as houses in Stockton. Welcome to our swamplands [excuse me, WETlands]

Posted by: Walter Wallis, P.E. at June 20, 2004 05:57 AM | PERMALINK

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