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Cash for Clunkers

It’s always fun to play “guess the unintended consequences” whenever some new idiocy from Washington D.C. surfaces. The Cash for Clunkers program (CFC) will give between 3500 and 4500 dollars for cars with certain conditions (like low gas mileage) when they are traded in for new cars with better gas mileage.

Some think it’s a stupid idea, I agree.

But since the program is going through it’s important to note what problems it will cause. Here are my predictions as the program evolves:

1) A great number of cars not being used regularly will be turned in for the money. These are tertiary vehicles for people who rarely use them and taking them off the street will do no good since they are, well, rarely used.

2) Poor people will try to profit on their cars. People who drive older used cars with low gas mileage typically aren’t in the market for a new car. But, people buying new cars will want to get the full $4500 trade in value and will start buying these cars from those poorer people who need money more than a car. Prices for these cars will balance where both parties profit from the sale.

3) Poor people who need a car but who can’t afford a new car will have a more difficult time finding a vehicle. The so-called “clunkers” being turned in are usable cars and an important part of the economy. Where a teenager on a fixed income could count on a vehicle in the $1000-$2000 range, now will be paying double (if he can find a car at all).

4) As the program progresses there will be a shortage of low cost, high maintenance and/or high mileage vehicles. The working poor will be hardest hit by this, being forced to spend money on more expensive newer cars or being forced to waste hours of their lives on public transportation (rather than with their families or at second jobs).

5) The shortage of “clunkers” will eventually raise the price of these vehicles above the $4,500 subsidy. Older, high mileage vehicles will no longer be traded in because they have more value to those who need to drive used cars because they can’t afford new cars.

6) Remaining clunkers will not be taken off the streets. There will be fewer cars available to the poor and they will pay more for them. Democrats will take credit for saving the environment even though the program will have no measurable impact on anything.

7) Those of us who held unto our clunkers will enjoy a sizable ROI thanks to raising prices caused by the program.

The consequences of this bill are a mixture of subsidy and price floors and it will be fun to see how many people end being hurt by this. But hey, it’s all to reduce CO2 emissions by .000001% over the next decade and save ourselves .0001 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.


Random Link o’ the Day:


Climate Change

On Jupiter?

For about 300 years Jupiter’s banded atmosphere has shown a remarkable feature to telescopic viewers, a large swirling storm system known as The Great Red Spot. In 2006, another red storm system appeared, actually seen to form as smaller whitish oval-shaped storms merged and then developed the curious reddish hue. Now, Jupiter has a third red spot, again produced from a smaller whitish storm. All three are seen in this image made from data recorded on May 9 and 10 with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The spots extend above the surrounding clouds and their red color may be due to deeper material dredged up by the storms and exposed to ultraviolet light, but the exact chemical process is still unknown. For scale, the Great Red Spot has almost twice the diameter of planet Earth, making both new spots less than one Earth-diameter across. The newest red spot is on the far left (west), along the same band of clouds as the Great Red Spot and is drifting toward it. If the motion continues, the new spot will encounter the much larger storm system in August. Jupiter’s recent outbreak of red spots is likely related to large scale climate change as the gas giant planet is getting warmer near the equator*

I’m sure it’s just a product of an irregular orbit and not anything that has anything to do with the sun or it’s effect on climate. Just ignore the 300 years of observation versus a 12 year orbit. Ignore any effect on Mars too.

We simply can’t let anything get in the way of the government forcing us to change our lightbulbs.

This article goes into more detail and suggests the climate change on Jupiter is just a natural cycle. Clearly, there are no natural cycles on Earth. Bring on the mercury bulbs.

*From NASA’s website: Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

Re: Global Warming

Not only have we been asked to ignore a ten-year downtrend in temperature and the recent coldspell, we are now being asked to put our disbeleif on hold for another ten years.

Global warming is taking a break that could last for another 10 years or so.

That’s the latest word from a team of climate researchers in Germany. Global average temperatures should remain above normal, the team suggests. But additional warming – already on hold over the first seven years of this decade – is likely to remain that way for another decade. The reason? The team says it expects natural shifts in ocean circulation to affect temperatures in ways that temporarily out-wrestle the effects of rising greenhouse-gas emissions.

The forecast is “very bold,” cautions Tom Delworth, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University. But, he adds, it represents the cutting edge of climate modeling. The German effort is one of the first widely published attempts to offer climate forecasts on time scales of a decade or so, rather than a century or more. The findings appear in Thursday’s edition of Nature

You know, it’s asking a lot. That’s all I’m saying.

Do I Believe in Global Warming?

I believe in something.

MPIRG Dodges Debate

MPIRG, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, is a liberal group at the University of Minnesota and one of the areas of activism they cover is the environment. There is also a free-market environmental group at the U of M called CFACT (Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow).

Recently, an intern with CFACT wrote to MPIRG with the intention of doing a global warming debate:

…I was wondering if MPIRG might want to get involved in a well structured discussion on global warming. We are still in the planning stages and wanted to see if this is something you might be interested in.

I feel it could be beneficial to both our causes. You seek to enlighten people on how big of an issue Global Warming is and bring it to their attention while we seek to show people how there are many uncertainties with this dynamic issue. Both can be done in this single event.

We likely will have the debate with or without your support, but I was hoping that your side could be better represented. As it stands right now we are trying to find scientists and politicians on both sides of the issue in order to get better insight on both the science behind it as well as the policy.

Let me know what your initial reaction is and if you are interested.


Here was the response from MPIRG

…First, let me apologize for the delay in responding to your email. secondly, MPIRG will not be able to take part in a debate on Global Warming at this juncture. The reasons are as follows:

To begin with, MPIRG’s position on Global Warming is that the debate is over. We feel that taking part in such an event would be acknowledging the need for further debate. Furthermore, we currently do not have the resources to thoroughly prepare for an event like this as the rest of our semester is already booked, and all of our staff and leadership time has been allocated elsewhere.

That being said, MPIRG is certainly open to working with CFACT in the future, and it is unfortunate that this specific event just won’t work out.

Thank you for your inquiry and good luck with the rest of the semester.


Corey Brodsky
Director-State Board of Directors

MPIRG’s response can be simplified: Debate in the marketplace of ideas? Of course not, there can be no debate because conservatives are so very wrong. (And..uh…all our resources are…uh…already allocated elsewhere…)

Well, there is debate about global warming yet to be had, a lot of it. I could accept wholesale the IPCC report on global warming and still find plenty of room for debate: Will changing light bulbs and exposing millions of people to mercury be beneficial compared to the costs? Should we shut down our economy to reverse global warming? Should we focus on technological development and adaptation rather than emissions control? Should we embrace global warming rather than condemn it (as ice ages suck)?

Some debates are over, sure, slavery, Stalinism, bacon; global warming and the consequences and actions related to it are not to be found on that list.

Note to Self

Global Warming = less dead old people

Catholicism and Global Warming

My post on Archbishop Harry Flynn’s reaction to a letter from a layman in his archdiocese dealing with Global Warming was written up in a column by Joseph D’Hippolito, a writer for David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine. The Holy See’s recent comments on Global warming are also discussed.

Random Link o’ the Day:


Final Thoughts on the California Wildfires

The immediate and grotesque politicalization of human suffering in Southern California by certain members of Congress enraged me. I shouldn’t be shocked by the behaviour as I am a cynic and have seen it before. What gets me is how it feels as though it’s getting worse. There is no political “downtime,” when it comes to advancing policy agendas everything is on the table all the time: The death of a US Senator turns into a political rally; video of a US Soldier being killed by a sniper in Iraq is prime time for CNN; a hurricane becomes a major part of a certain Vice President’s movie.

It’s all or nothing, like a revolution (without the guns, pitchforks or Thomas Paine). People won’t even take a day off out of respect for those suffering before playing with whatever new political football has come across the TV set. The point of my previous posts dealing with the possible connections between the wildfires and global warming wasn’t to suggest an answer either way. The goal is simply to get a dialogue started, one based on evidence and reason.

Not every wrong in this world is caused by global warming. Normally natural disasters are used by atheists as proof of God’s non-existence. It is a habit which dates to at least Aquinas, who mentioned human suffering as a potential argument against the existence of God. Now, instead of human suffering being a philosophical question it has turned into political currency. The hot political topic is global warming so “naturalized” human suffering is now channeled by the shrill into any policy discussions to avoid reason and appeal to base emotions.

It’s a tactic becoming more and more common with “The Stupid Party.” My posts started with the simple question about whether global warming could have been responsible for the wildfires in SoCal. My answer, by looking at publicly available data, was it might be. Maybe not “caused” as the arsonists probably had more to do with the fires than climate change, but the data showed there were more years in SoCal in the last part of the last century with a lot of rain than there were in the first part of the last century. More rain means more vegetation and vegetation turns to fuel for wildfires. If a heavy rain year is followed by a drought year you will get more extreme wildfires.

The differences in the data were minute but they existed. If, as is theorized, climate change had made the region wetter over the last century it is completely possible the wildfires we’re seeing today were made just a little bit more intense than they otherwise would have been. Considering most people who have taken climate change as their new religion would label me a “global warming denier” it’s interesting to note that my conclusions are different than those who have actually studied the issue. They say “probably not.”

However, those scientists would mention the five fold increase in wildfires in the western United States as proof global warming is causing more wildfires and will cause more wildfires in the future. Sadly though, this is data cherry-picking. They don’t talk about the lack of any trend in Canada nor do they have good data on “worldwide” wildfires. In reality our world is dynamic, not static, and it makes sense to me that some areas will have increases in wildfires while others have decreases. There is another problem with their theory, global warming is supposed to cause more rain to fall in most areas, not less. This would make it hard for wildfires to get too out of hand. In the coming years they might get the data and that’s fine, that’s science.

And from that science a debate should be started. I think aggressive human action in removing excess vegetation would do more good more quickly for areas experiencing droughts and wildfires than carbon rationing. There are costs and benefits to any actions humans might take so a robust debate should be the goal. I might be foolish but I’d like the debate to be reasonable, civil and respectful to those who have suffered from wildfires or hurricanes or whatever else this planet brings.

I’m probably mistaken though. I doubt it will happen.