Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mindless “green” indoctrination of children

Fracking offers case study of propaganda by environmentalists, teachers and fellow students 

By Paul Driessen 

“We’re from the Earth Guardians group, and we’re working on fracking and how it’s going to affect our future and our health. So we wrote this song for all the gas companies that are putting their profits ahead of our future.” 

With that prelude, 12-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and his 9-year-old brother Itzcuauhtli launched into an anti-fracking rap song for Evergreen Middle School students whose teacher had invited them to travel 40 miles from their home in “the People’s Republic of Boulder,” Colorado. The song was well rehearsed, spirited, clever – and no doubt assisted by their mother, the founder and executive director of Earth Guardians, and maybe even by Boulder’s former  mayor, an EG advisor. 

The boys have been inculcated in Aztec and Hard Green ideology from birth. As EG members, they’re dedicated to “educating” other children about “sustainability,” “dangerous climate change” and “earth-friendly” renewable energy. In an era when too many babies are having babies, it’s not surprising that children are indoctrinating children. Not surprising, but not beneficial either. 

Moreover, the teacher had failed to follow school policy, get permission to bring in outside propagandists, or present other perspectives. Unhappy parents raised a stink with Principal Kris Schuh, and the school district promised to distribute “pro-oil and gas literature” to secure some balance. 

Fracking, of course, is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, a revolutionary technology that definitely will affect our future and our health – for the better. 

Although fracking has been used for 60 years, in combination with deep horizontal drilling it has sent US oil and gas production sharply upward for the first time in decades, turned “imminent depletion” into another century of affordable petroleum, generated millions of jobs and billions of dollars in government revenues, kept home heating and electricity prices from skyrocketing in the face of EPA’s war on coal, brought a resurgence in US petrochemical and other industries, and helped reduce CO2 emissions (which should make Earth Guardians and other global warming true believers happy). It’s meant fewer oil imports, improved balance of trade, and more opportunities to lift more people out of poverty worldwide.

A recent IHS Global Insight report documents that, in the United States alone, fracking has already created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next eight years. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. And by 2035, it could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues. 

By contrast, $26 billion taken from taxpayers and given to wind, solar and biofuel energy projects via Department of Energy subsidies and loan guarantees since 2009 created only 2,298 permanent jobs, at a cost of $11.45 million per job, the Institute for Energy Research calculates, using DOE data. 

If more of this new natural gas were devoted to generating electricity – instead of just backing up 40,000 US wind turbines – millions of birds and bats would not be slaughtered every year, and vital species would not be driven to the brink of extinction in wildlife habitats that have been blanketed by turbines. 

The Earth Guardians ignore all of this, and claim hydraulic fracturing is poisoning our air and water. 

The facts say otherwise. As the film FrackNation and numerous articles and reports have documented, there has never been a confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to fracking, despite numerous investigations by state agencies and the US Environmental Protection Agency. There is no evidence of air or people being poisoned, and companies continue to improve their technologies, to reduce methane leakage and employ more biodegradable and “kitchen cabinet” chemicals. 

But the Earth Guardians still deliver outright falsehoods about fracking, by children to children, in public schools funded by taxpayer dollars. Perhaps this goes on because teachers and school administrators fail to recognize the potential harm, or are themselves devoted to promoting extreme environmentalist ideologies. Certainly they failed to exercise their responsibility and authority as educators to provide a balanced curriculum and avoid being used by groups with political agendas, to inculcate a new generation of Americans in perverse Hard Green dogmas that are harmful to wildlife, people and the environment. 

Why is it that the Earth Guardians, Sierra Club and similar groups detest fracking? Maybe because this technology demolishes their Club of Rome claims that mankind is about to run out of petroleum – or because it means fossil fuels are again on the ascendency, making wind and solar even less viable and further demonstrating that wind energy is a far less sustainable energy resource than petroleum. 

How vulnerable are America’s youth to this brainwashing? With young people spending 7.5 hours a day viewing television, music and social media like Facebook, they’re almost ready-made targets for political groups that use these communications tools to promote narrow views. Without facts and data to counter the simplistic, entertaining and superficially persuasive messages – especially when they are delivered in schools – children tend to accept what authority figures put in front of them.

Even older students are vulnerable to being spoon-fed incorrect information. And student voters who are reluctant or too disinterested to seek truthful information can have a profound impact on U.S. elections and national policy. 

In 2011 college professors Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum surveyed 925 college students about their transitions into the labor force, two years after graduation. In addition to discovering that only slightly more than half had found full-time jobs, Roska and Arum found that student “lack of awareness of current events … was startling.” Thirty-two percent reported “that they read a newspaper only monthly or never.” It makes you wonder how many colleges are doing their most fundamental job: teaching students to think and question, rather than merely to parrot politically correct mantras – and whether they are preparing students to become intelligent, informed, active members in a functioning democratic society.  

Roska and Arum wrote, “This lack of engagement is as troubling as their financial difficulties – it can hardly be a good sign for a democratic society when many of its citizens, including highly educated ones, are not aware of or engaged with what is going on in the nation and world.”

Yet, as we learned in the 2008 election, young voters have the power to select a president. If their political choices are based on a lack of knowledge – or even worse, on propaganda – the nation is in peril. 

Our schools need to end the indoctrination and ensure that students are presented with and taught to ponder and debate all sides of important and complex questions. Parents need to make sure they do so.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Looking for my DD-214

It’s Memorial Day, a chance to express our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty.  If you happen to drive past a national cemetery you might see an American Flag stationed at each and every burial plot; hopefully this tradition has been passed along to honor those who died as a result of military service.

Some folks confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day; but let’s not split hairs, both are designed to give everyone a chance to say thank you to those who have served.  Some folks get their shorts twisted in knots over this; kind of like getting upset over Daylight Savings time costing them an hour in the fall and forgetting they get it back in spring.

While going through Facebook yesterday I noticed an offer from the Old Faithful Holster company, a chance for Veterans and Military folks to get a very nice concealed handgun holster at half the regular price.  I’d been holding off buying one; the nicer holsters are more expensive so half price caught my attention.

I read through the requirements and figured I’d send a copy of my DD-214 as proof of service; and that would have been fine except I couldn’t find that form in any of our important paper folders.  I went through lots of file folders; cars we haven’t owned in years, houses we’ve sold long ago, insurance forms, warranty folders for every washer, dryer, refrigerator, mixer, drill and saw we’ve ever owned; but no DD-214 form.

There were files folders for log cabin designs we thought we might build on that piece of property in Colorado, the property we sold several years ago.  I found folders with IRS returns going back years and years; wonder if we’ve been targeted for being conservatives with Tea Party leanings?  There were folders for health issues with our children’s names for injuries or illnesses they had twenty years ago; but still no DD-214.

I was beginning to think the form might have been lost; but I knew I’d seen it somewhere, just couldn’t put my finger on where.  The DD-214 is proof that you served in the military; you need it when you apply for a job so your employer knows that particular obligation has been met.

That’s an odd thought; the idea individuals are somehow obligated to have served in the military.  I guess I’m showing my age.

You’ll never guess where I eventually found my DD-214; stuck inside with a bunch of important family related stuff in my genealogy stack.  I found my grandfather’s Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, Marriage Certificate and Death Certificate.  There in the middle of the stack were several Army forms all stapled together; my certificate showing I completed AIT training as a Military Policeman from Fort Gorden, Georgia was on top.  Sure enough, a couple of pages down was my DD-214; I could prove I’d been there, ahhhh….

So a while ago I got on the internet and placed an order for a holster for my Beretta , making sure to attach a copy of my DD-214 form to get the discounted price.  I even sent a copy of an old snap shot, a picture of me standing in my father’s front yard back in 1971 wearing my dress greens.  If the name tag isn’t clear in the photo then the folks offering the discount wouldn’t be obligated to extend the half price offer; glad I found my DD-214.   

That about covers this morning; think Ill kick back and have some bar-b-que this afternoon with some friends who also served in the military.  Enjoy Memorial Day and remember to be grateful for those who gave their lives defending your liberties.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This past Thursday while working at the Houston Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I had an interesting exchange with an older fellow.  He was getting dressed, taking an extraordinary amount of time as his physical ability to bend made things difficult in a small dressing stall. 

A friend came asking for him about the time this fellow came out of the dressing stall, looking for a mirror so he could put on his tie.  He progressed toward the mirror carefully, each step planned and assisted with a walking cane.  I noticed his shoes were spit polished; but his laces were not tied so we suggested he use the Coordinator’s chair where he could sit while one of us tied the laces.

He commented how a couple of back surgeries had made life bearable, as did the knee surgery.  He went on to explain how a doctor here in Houston had gone the extra mile in making it possible to enjoy life rather than be in constant pain.

“All those parachute jumps…”, he paused for a moment as if recounting how many jumps he’d made, “…sometimes the landings were hard; they took their toll.”

The more I studied this older fellow the more I became aware that he’d literally been put through the mill.  As a young man he stood just over six foot tall; but now, five nine, maybe five ten.

I asked what branch of service he’d served in and he replied, “Navy, I was a Navy Seal”. 

We were standing in the presence of an elite warrior.  Had we not noticed his shoe laces being untied we might not have had the opportunity to have the conversation, to acknowledge the price some pay to keep our nation free.

I won’t go into the details of how this old fellow survived the pain; let’s just say he has a strong testimony of the Gospel, enough to have stopped taking narcotics that were issued to help him get by. 

There’s a poster floating around on Facebook showing an old guy with a walking cane; but the shadow behind him depicts the warrior he once had been; wish I’d copied it to file.  Instead I’ve shown a picture of the Vietnam War Memorial at night with the Washington Monument in the background.

When you see these old men with their walking canes quietly making it to a mirror to put on a neck tie, don’t dismiss them as just some old fellow taking too long to get dressed. 

Some of these old men were once on battlefields in lands we've only read about, battlefields where they lost friends in the fight for liberty.  They may walk a little slower and lean on their walking canes; but deep inside they are still warriors, so show a little respect.

This Memorial Day be grateful for the ultimate sacrifice made by those who never made it home so you and I could enjoy freedom and liberty.  Whats the line, All paid some; some paid all; remember that and express your gratitude by being a better citizen.

A friend of mine sent me the poster I was looking for and so I'm adding it here before I have a chance to forget.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Incredible Management

I should mention how I use sarcasm as means of explaining things that are beyond civilized conversation.  This morning’s conversation with John Moore Services’ upper level management has my blood pressure up over the acceptable level.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  I’d done locksmith work on a service vehicle belonging to John Moore Services which was done after hours and therefore did not have a purchase order assigned to it.  The fellow who ran the dispatching for such work promised it would be taken care of; that never happened within a reasonable amount of time and we were told to email a copy of the work order to their accounts payables office.

The fellow in accounts payables told us he couldn’t pay the work order because there was no…wait for it…no purchase order number assigned.  The fellow who originally requested the work said not to worry (famous last words), that a purchase order number could easily be issued since the work had been authorized.  That never happened and eventually I hand carried a copy of the work order to the dispatcher’s office and handed it to the young woman charged with assigning purchase orders.   She assured me it would be taken care of; it never happened.  Did I mention this work was done in 2011?

The entire amount owed was just over a hundred dollars; not enough to make my business go under.  It was enough; however, to remind me not to do business with folks who don’t pay their bills.  John Moore Services was now on my Do Not Service list; at least until they replaced all the folks who had dropped the ball.

A new crew replaced the old crew and we got a call from the new dispatcher requesting locksmith service.  I explained how John Moore Services owed for some previous work and how we considered the work order as past due.  He assured us that we’d get paid; but he didn’t exactly follow up with issuing a purchase order so a few more months went by and still nothing. 

We did get paid on most of the new work; but that old work order was still collecting spider webs.  I took a copy of the work order to the new accounts payables lady, a new employee of only a couple of weeks.  We supplied her with a copy of all outstanding work orders to include the one that was from 2011 and within a week we got paid in full.

I sent the following email and included an attachment, a picture of a very nice flower arrangement:

Daphne Green
John Moore Services
Accounts Payables


I wanted to take a moment to thank you for getting done what others had not.  It's a real shame when a vendor has to almost beg to get paid from a large company or wait over a year because somebody dropped the ball. 

These flowers have been sent to others who deserved to be rewarded.  I'm frugal so I save the picture and use it often.

Thank you
TF Stern

That brings us to this morning when the phone rang and, Jim, a member of John Moore Services’ upper management wanted to know what was going on.  Apparently as he put it, “I don’t like the tenor of your email, that we don’t pay our vendors”.  He didn’t want to hear about the work order that didn’t get paid for two years, all he wanted was to brow beat me for thanking the only employee at John Moore Services who actually performed their job properly. 

I can’t say I’m pleased with what I instructed him to do or the way I hung up on him; but I hope he breaks his back attempting to complete the impossible sexual maneuver.  With Incredible Management displaying how things get done, or not, John Moore Services is now on my Never Service Again List.

TF Stern
T F Stern & Company

Monday, May 20, 2013

Big Green helps Big Wind hide bird and bat butchery

Why do taxpayers have to subsidize this? Why do environmentalists give it a free pass? 

By Ron Arnold 

It uses tons of fossil fuels every day, emits a greenhouse gas that's like CO2 on steroids, can’t do the job it’s made for, costs taxpayers exorbitant fees, and makes the federal government look mentally ill for giving it outrageous subsidies. It also chops up birds, bats and scenery with roads and monstrous 400-foot-tall machines. “It” is wind power, of course.

These harsh facts were condensed into a preliminary draft study of wind subsidies by researcher Teresa Platt, who circulated it to specialists for vetting. I obtained a copy of the extensively footnoted working draft, which gave chilling reality to the truth behind wind industry claims.

“Every year since the 1980s,” Platt’s study said, “the 5,000 turbines at NextEra’s Altamont Pass in California kill thousands of slow-reproducing red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls, kestrels, as well as iconic golden eagles, and bats.” The birds Platt mentions are raptors – birds of prey – particularly valued for their agricultural role in killing mice and other crop-damaging rodents. Eagles, both golden eagles and bald eagles, have long impressed Americans for their majesty, and the bald eagle was selected by our Founding Fathers as our national emblem.

I asked Bob Johns, spokesman for the American Bird Conservancy, about wind farm eagle mortality. He confirmed Platt’s study and told me the Altamont operation alone has killed more than 2,000 golden eagles. But that’s not all. “Nationwide, the wind industry kills thousands of golden eagles without prosecution,” Johns said, “while any other American citizen even possessing eagle parts such as feathers would face huge fines and prison time.” 

Huge is right. Violate either the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, and you could get fined up to $250,000 or get two years imprisonment.

Not a single wind farm operator has yet been prosecuted for killing birds, yet in 2009 ExxonMobil got whacked with a $600,000 fine for killing 85 common ducks and other birds that flew into uncovered tanks on its property. Other similarly outrageous revenge-style penalties have been assessed on oil companies by the viciously ideological anti-fossil fuel Obama administration.

So Big Oil clearly doesn’t have an Obama Big Wind Get Out of Jail Free card. This unaccounted wind industry bird-killer subsidy reveals a federal multiple personality disorder that must be cured.

Domestic oil and gas production is setting records – thanks to fracking on state and private lands, despite efforts by Obama, Cuomo, Brown and environmentalist lunatic groups to slow or stop it, and despite Obama and Comrades continuing to shut down ANWR, OCS and other federal drilling opportunities. 

We could totally end reliance on Middle East oil, if we would drill more here and permit Keystone XL pipeline. Instead, Obama is still pushing wind and solar, and working with “green” industry to minimize or conceal impacts, while subsidizing renewable energy to the tune of $11.4 million per permanent job

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hedges its annual windmill bird death estimates at between 100,000 to 444,000 dead birds. That smells like political appointees and staff biologists had both insisted on publishing their numbers – and too many staff biologists promote Big Wind, don’t want bird butchery to hurt Big Wind’s “eco-friendly” image, and don’t want to cross swords with subsidy-hungry politicians.

This body count issue has become a genuine data war, with experts hurling “my data are better than your data” cudgels at each other in the press and scientific literature. For example, a 2013 report by K. Shawn Smallwood estimates that in the U.S. in 2012, some 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) were killed by wind turbines, at a rate of 11 birds per MW of installed capacity. 

That’s ridiculously low-balled, says Jim Wiegand, California raptor specialist and Berkeley-trained wildlife biologist. I asked Wiegand what the real number was. “At least 2 million birds per year,” he told me, “and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if over 10 million birds were killed each year by wind turbines.” 

Wiegand is an on-the-ground, count-the-corpses type of wildlife biologist who does not take anyone’s word for the facts – a basic requirement of real science. Wiegand’s motto could be “Go and look.”

Therein lies Wiegand’s most potent argument for the Smallwood study’s underestimation: The wind industry has adopted bird-death counting standards that limit counts, so the results look lower than reality: Counters go and look only every 30 to 90 days – letting scavengers remove and devour large numbers of dead birds, artificially lowering the body count. Counters examine only a very small footprint around the windmill tower base – artificially lowering body counts.  Rotor blade tips can be whirling at 200 miles per hour, enough to whack an unfortunate bird “out of the ball park” – far beyond the little counting circle, out where nobody looks, artificially lowering body counts even more. Some critics accuse counters of simply burying some troublesome corpses – the old “slice, shovel and shut up” routine.

Rebutting Smallwood’s report, Wiegand told me, “In my opinion, there are at least 35 bird deaths per megawatt per year across the country. Some turbines kill several hundred birds per megawatt, depending on their location. In high bird use areas like the Kenedy Ranch turbine site in Texas, I believe proper studies on would easily show several hundred bird deaths per megawatt per year.”

The wind power industry must also share responsibility for bird deaths caused by super-long high-tension lines from distant turbines to cities. A 2007 report estimated the number of such mortality due to collisions on the wing to be at least 130 million, possibly as high a 1 billion, birds per year. 

And these numbers are just for birds. We don’t often think about bat benefits, but the U.S. Geological Survey estimates bats are worth $74 in pest control costs per acre – and windmills may have killed more than 3 million bats by last year. A small bat eats about 680,000 insects a year, so 3 million dead bats means 2 billion mosquitoes and other insects that shouldn’t be here are still flying around. 

Those numbers are likely way too low, as well. Windmill-caused bat mortality statistics, like bird death numbers, are hotly contested with estimates running into the multi-millions every year. 

Wind is usually touted as using no fuel, particularly no fossil fuel. That’s a clever deception. Windmills don’t work when it’s too hot or too cold, or when the wind blows too hard or not at all. So they need a backup, which is usually a coal- or oil- or gas-fired power plant.

Also, every windmill comes with a power line, which comes with a maintenance road, which comes with CO2-emitting traffic. Nobody’s counting that. Why not?

Then there’s SF6, sulfur hexafluoride, the most potent greenhouse gas evaluated by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with a global warming potential 22,800 times that of CO2. It’s used to insulate equipment inside wind turbines, their related infrastructure and transmission lines. It may leak during installation or maintenance. or from damaged, aging or destroyed equipment. 

Speaking of which, the average service life of a windmill is between 10 and 15 years – not the 20 to 25 years claimed by turbine operators, says a 2012 study by Britain’s Renewable Energy Foundation.

Falmouth, Massachusetts has the right idea. The town voted 110-91 to remove its two 400-foot industrial wind turbines for health and nuisance reasons. The only problem is paying the $15 million price tag for removal. They need to borrow $8 million to get the job done.
Maybe some powerful Big Green group – think the Sierra Club or Natural Resources Defense Council – will step forward to save Falmouth? Fat chance. They’re in love with bird and bat butchering turbines. 

Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Portions of this report appeared originally in the Washington Examiner and are used by permission.

How to get out of a traffic ticket

I may have written on this subject in the past; but was reminded by an entry on Facebook of the many excuses given police officers.  This particular entry had to do with a bumper sticker plastered on the back of a car.

“I’m only speeding because I gotta poop!”

As far as bumper stickers go, that ranks right up there with, “Stop the Violins and bring me Whirled Peas”.

A friend of mine said his sure fire way of getting out of a ticket, claims it works every time; pick your nose while the cop is walking up next to your window and wipe it off on your shirt.  I suppose being disgusting might work; don’t count on it.

I’ll share one officer’s unofficial policy, something given me when I began working as a rookie cop.  My senior officer had years of experience and shared some of that wisdom, a philosophy which put things in perspective.  He went on to explain that traffic laws need to be enforced; but remember, it’s only a traffic ticket.

“If you stop someone for a minor traffic violation on their birthday and they have a driver’s license, let them go and wish them a Happy Birthday”. 

That made pretty good sense, public relations and law enforcement combined; but my senior partner’s next piece of advice was the real page turner.

“If you stop someone for a minor traffic violation and they tell you a story that you’ve never heard before…cut them loose; never mind if you believe it or not, cut them loose too.”

That thought process made for some interesting moments over my twenty years of service.  I suppose this is another reason I’m against camera issued traffic tickets; no room for conversation with a mechanical device that acts as judge and jury as it sends you an envelope to mail back your fine.

I should start off by explaining there are certain things that don’t work, or at least they don’t work most of the time when it comes to trying to get out of a ticket.  You might want to jot this down for future reference…

If you’re a moderately attractive female in your late teens or early twenties, don’t expect to get out of a ticket by flashing a little extra skin.  Then, and this is important, if the officer isn’t impressed with the flash of skin; don’t say something really dumb like, “You can’t write me a ticket, my uncle is Judge Soandso”.

If the officer continues to write the ticket and hands you the form to sign, don’t throw the ticket book along with the officer’s pen out the window followed by a temper tantrum there on the side of the road.  Kicking the door of your car for effect is not advised; attempting to kick the nice police officer is also a poor choice. The officer will probably explain that such behavior could end up with a trip to jail.

Never, under any circumstances, tell the officer, “You can’t take me to jail”, or “You can’t put those handcuffs on me”.  These short sentences will only make the nice police officer smile or perhaps even salivate. 

Okay, enough about misguided youth leaning things the hard way.  Here are some of the excuses which actually have been used while attempting to get out of traffic tickets; some worked, others did not.

“Officer, I just finished washing my car and I was trying to blow the water droplets off to keep them from leaving spots on the paint job”

This one actually worked the first time, my being an enthusiast of car maintenance and efforts required to keep them nice and clean.  It didn’t work the following week when luck would have me pulling over the very same fellow; gotta’ trust in lady luck some times.

“Officer, I called the bus barn to let them know my brakes were out and they told me to bring it right in.”

My partner and I thought it odd a Metro Bus driver might be trying to make a run to avoid being stopped as he ran through a few of red lights at the edge of downtown.  Eventually the slow speed chase coasted to a halt.

The bus driver might not have been the sharpest pencil in the box as he trembled and shook off his fears.  Now I would have let the idiot go under Part B of the aforementioned unofficial policy and simply called for a heavy duty wrecker; but my partner had no problem whipping out his ticket book and issued several red light tickets.

I know I’ve shared the next one more than a few times; but it still holds First Place in my twenty years, the best excuse I ever heard bar none. 

I was set up at the corner of Commonwealth and Westheimer and observed a garbage truck bust through a red light by several car lengths.  The fact that he didn’t get somebody killed was a miracle as I engaged pursuit and quickly pulled him over.

Upon walking slowly up to the driver’s side window, a very dark skinned black fellow handed me his license, perspiration dripping off his forehead looked like beads of oil. 

“Could you write fast, Officer, I’m on an emergency run.”

I let that sink in for a moment, handing him the license back and trying not to laugh at the ridiculous excuse of an excuse.  That might have ended the exchange except for the fellow in the passenger seat of the garbage truck.

“Can you believe…he bought ‘dat sheiittt!”

I have to admit, I nearly lost it as I continued walking toward the patrol car, my back to these two fools thinking I was gullible enough to buy into such a wonderfully composed lie.  I must have told that story a hundred times over the years; still my favorite ticket that never was written.

A bee in their bonnet

Anti-pesticide activists falsely blame new pesticides for bee colony problems
By Paul Driessen 

Chemophobic anti-pesticide groups are at it again. This time they’re attacking a widely used and safe new insecticide, but their assertions and real agendas are nothing new. 

Radical environmentalism rose to ascendancy on opposition to pesticides, specifically DDT. “If the environmentalists win on DDT,” Environmental Defense Fund scientist Charles Wurster told the Seattle Times in 1969, “they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before.” Using Rachel Carson’s often inaccurate book Silent Spring to drive a nasty campaign, they succeeded in getting the Environmental Protection Agency to ban US production and use of DDT in 1972, leading to a de facto global ban even to combat malaria. 

Trumpeting illusory or manufactured dangers of DDT and callously indifferent to the deaths of millions from this horrible disease, radical greens still battle its use, even to spray only the inside walls of primitive homes to keep most mosquitoes out, and keep those that do enter from infecting people. 

Attacking a new class of insecticides for equally spurious reasons is thus no big deal, even if the chemicals are safe and vital for modern agriculture. Their real goal is to raise more money and acquire more power. As Saul Alinsky taught, they have picked their new target, personalized and polarized it, and attacked it relentlessly.

The target now is a widely used new class of safe pesticides – neonicotinoids – that Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network, Sierra Club and other “socially responsible” groups are blaming for bee population declines in various countries. But the real danger is a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder,” which poses a serious threat to bees, crop pollination, flowers and food crops in many areas

CCD and other bee die-offs are not new. What we now call colony collapse was first reported in 1869, and many outbreaks since then have turned scientists into Sherlock Holmes detectives, seeking explanations and solutions to this mysterious and scary-sounding problem. Fungi, parasitic mites and other possible suspects have been implicated, but none has yet been arrested or convicted.  

That’s created a perfect Petri dish for anti-pesticide groups. They’re pressuring the United States and other countries to ban neonic pesticides, by blaming them for bee population declines. Their fear-mongering assertions are pure conjecture, but that hasn’t stopped activists – or news outlets – from promoting frightening stories implicating the chemicals. 

“Neonics” are derived from naturally-occurring nicotine plant compounds and have been hailed as a low-toxicity pest treatment. They are often applied to seeds or on soils during planting, become part of the plants’ physiology, and work by giving treated plants internal defenses against invasive pests. That means neonics are toxic only to insects that feed on crops, which dramatically reduces the need to spray entire fields with other, less safe pesticides. It also curtails risks to farm workers and beneficial insects.

Claims that these insecticides could kill bees appear plausible at first blush, and laboratory studies have shown that high doses can affect bees in minor ways. However, doses that bees receive in lab studies “are far above what a realistic field dose exposure would be,” says Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree, environmental biology professor at the University of Guelph. The difference is akin to an 81 mg aspirin tablet versus a full bottle of 200 mg tablets, or light rainfall on a bee versus throwing it into a bucket of water.

Scott-Dupree helped coordinate a Canadian field study that compared hives exposed to neonics to those that weren’t exposed – and found no difference in colony health between the two groups. Another study by Britain’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs reached the same conclusion.

The DEFRA evaluation of studies purporting to link neonics to bee harm found that the lab work was conducted under extreme scenarios which would not occur under real-world conditions. “Risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids, as they are currently used, is low,” the scientists concluded. 

That’s hardly surprising. Plant tissues contain only tiny amounts of neonics, bees are not feeding on the plants, and pollen contains barely detectable neonic levels. 

Nevertheless, several beekeepers and activist groups have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, demanding that EPA immediately ban all neonicotinoids. 

The lawsuit is not merely ill advised. By blaming pesticides, activists are ignoring – and deflecting attention from – a very real and serious threat to bees. The aptly named parasitic mite “Varroa destructor” threatens honeybees directly, while spreading and activating previously dormant or harmless bee viruses, which then become dangerous.  The mites are not easy to eradicate.

“You can imagine how hard it is to kill a bug on a bug,” says John Miller, President of the California State Beekeepers Association, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Treating Varroa requires insecticides that can be toxic to bees at levels high enough to be effective. Well-intentioned apiarists trying to combat Varroa can accidentally overdose hives with miticides. 

Various neonicotinoids are widely used in Canada to protect its vast canola fields, and Canadian bee populations are thriving, notes science writer Jon Entine. Varroa-free Australia is likewise one of the world’s prime users of these pesticides, and its bee colonies are among the planet’s healthiest. By contrast, bee populations have been severely impacted by Varroa mites in areas of Switzerland where neonics are not used. 

Multiple studies point to still other factors that explain why bees are struggling. They include bees developing resistance to antibiotics, funguses like Nosema, multiple bee viruses and parasites, bacterial infections like foulbrood, exposure to commonly used organophosphates, bee habitat loss, and even long-term bee inbreeding and resultant lack of genetic diversity. 

Activists aren’t asking for investigation into these problems – which calls their science, sincerity and integrity into question. Their track record on DDT and malaria underscores this modus operandi. The activists get money, publicity, power and phony solutions – and end up hurting the very things (bees and people) they profess to care so much about. 

Right now, no one knows why bees aren’t thriving. Studies have shown that neonicotinoids are innocent, and reflexive bans will harm farmers, whose crop yields will fall; consumers, whose food bills will rise and food safety will decline; and environmental values, as older, more toxic insecticides will have to be reintroduced to protect crops. The detective work needs to continue, until real answers are found. 

The prudent, precautionary approach would be to avoid eliminating vital, low-toxicity neonicotinoids, while continuing to study their potential effects on bees, and other potential causes of die-offs and colony collapses. Right now we don’t have an equally low substitute for neonics. Sound, replicable science – not pressure group politics – must underpin all pesticide policies, or the unintended consequences will be serious, far-reaching, and potentially devastating to agriculture and food supplies.

We need to let science do its job, not jump to conclusions or short-circuit the process, as the media did in accusing Richard Jewell of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.

This time – as always – we need answers, not scapegoats.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Bird in the Hand...

There’s an AP story out of Converse County, Wyoming, which explains that under the Obama administration wind energy companies are not held to the same rule of law as are oil, gas or electric generation companies when it comes to killing protected bird species such as Golden Eagles.  Key words in that opening salvo are ‘rule of law’; that firm foundation upon which society depends in order to maintain order and equity.

“More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country's wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.”

Don’t get the wrong idea; I’m not one of those whacko environmentalists who thinks we should give up driving automobiles that use carbon based fuels.  What bothers me is an uneven approach to enforcement of laws.  If there’s a law on the books it should apply equally to everyone; either that or take the law off the books. (think Obamacare and those who have exempted themselves from it)

Certain endangered bird species are protected by law and heaven help you if you kill one, either intentionally or by accident.

“Each death is (a) federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.”


“Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.

“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.”

In a similar vein, Jim Wiegand’s article posted to Family Security Matters back on March 22nd of 2013, Hiding the Slaughter, exposed the Obama administration’s double standards when enforcing environmental laws and giving wind energy producers a free ride.

“Since the early 1980s, the industry has known there is no way its propeller-style turbines could ever be safe for raptors. With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at speeds up to 200 mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half – or left with a smashed wing, to stumble around for days before dying.

To hide this awful truth, strict wind farm operating guidelines were established – including high security, gag orders in leases and other agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies.

For the industry this business plan has succeeded quite well in keeping a lid on the mortality problem.  While the public has some understanding that birds are killed by wind turbines, it doesn’t have a clue about the real mortality numbers. And the industry gets rewarded with subsidies, and immunity from endangered species and other wildlife laws.”

Many years ago when assigned to a foot beat in downtown Houston my partner and I were placed in an awkward situation by our supervisors; issue parking tickets to all violators except certain vehicles parked in front of a particular hotel because those folks are above the law.  That’s not exactly how they explained it; however, each ticket issued to the vehicles owned by that hotel eventually found their way into a supervisor’s hand and were voided as a political favor to the hotel.

Eventually our supervisors got tired of voiding tickets and approached us on the street to express their desire that we stop making things difficult.  What followed was an ‘inappropriate response’, formally classified as insubordination; do I have to spell it out?  It wasn’t as crude as Dick Cheney’s recommendation to Sen. Patrick Leahy during their heated exchange of words, all the same it had long term ramifications; the Department tried to have us fired.

I received a 40 day suspension for insubordination, insubordination which included my remarks all the way up the chain of command to include 3 deputy chiefs who didn’t like being told to ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’.  Those supervisors were unable to justify their attempts to enforce the rule of law unevenly and my natural sense of right and wrong had a short fuse; not much different than today.

I haven’t brought up the latest scandals involving the Obama administration, the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Eric Holder’s Justice Department ignoring voter intimidation by the Black Panthers, Fast & Furious being swept under the rug as if it never happened or that other fiasco…Benghazi where lying and deception at the highest levels seems to be expected daily. 
‘We The People’, deserve better from our government.  The rule of law is important.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about something as insignificant as a parking ticket or the slaughter of an endangered Golden Eagle; laws need to be enforced equally or done away with.

I should note, curiously; today marks 21 years to the day that I celebrate my retirement from the Houston Police Department in spite of my insubordinate nature.  I bet Dick Cheney would have a line for that too.