More good stuff on the open frontiers – 10/7

A few articles of interest on the wide open frontiers that surround us now – U.S. production of petroleum to surpass Saudi Arabia; sheepdogs protect predators as well as sheep.


Check out the huge increase in US production, compared to Saudi Arabia:

petroleum production

Source: Carpe Diem. Used with permission.

9/29 – Financial Times – US poised to become world’s leading liquid petroleum producer

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California implements ban on plastic bags when shopping. Will take a few years to learn the human cost.

Legislation in California has been signed into law banning the single-use plastic bags at stores and restaurants.

In summer 2015 plastic bags won’t be allowed to carry your food from the grocery store to your car to home. In 2016, plastic bags will be banned from pharmacies and convenience stores.

Paper bags may be provided by stores for a price of a dime a piece.

One of many articles can be found in the Daily Bulletin: California becomes first state to ban single-use plastic bag.

We will become the first natural experiment to see how many hospitalizations and deaths of humans this causes.

Will probably take until 2016 for a good year of data to accumulate and another year or two for epidemiologists (people who study diseases and their transmission) to analyze the data. Probably another year to find some place that is bold enough to publish unpopular results.

So in 2018 or 2021 we will start learning of the unintended consequences.

How can there be human suffering from reusable bags?

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If you want to increase the number of large animals like elephants and rhinos, allow them to be privately owned and hunted

Kenya and South Africa have taken dramatically different approaches in how to protect large animals.

May not make sense, but I have a plan for you if you want to protect big critters, like rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalos (the big 5) along with antelopes and zebras.

What to do? Take South Africa’s approach and allow private ownership of the animals and allow other people to pay the owners of the animals to hunt them.

Like I said, it doesn’t make sense, but incentives matter. And if you want to protect big animals, give individuals incentives to do so.

Kenya and South Africa provide a natural experiment to see which approach works best.

The following information is from two articles:


Kenya bans private ownership of large animals and bans hunting. The country focuses on conservation with funding provided by eco-tourism.

How has that worked?

Continue reading “If you want to increase the number of large animals like elephants and rhinos, allow them to be privately owned and hunted”

Harm to wildlife from plastic bags is a fraction of what we have been told

Bans on plastic bags at the grocery store and tremendous hoopla advocating reusable bags is all because the massively huge amount of plastic in the oceans kills massively huge numbers of birds and marine mammals.


Maybe there isn’t even a fraction of the harm to wildlife we’ve been told about.

Article at SFGate explains Garbage-patch tale as flimsy as a single-use plastic bag.

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Ethanol makes global warming worse

A new study funded by the federal government reached the conclusion that ethanol made from residue after corn harvesting releases 7% more greenhouse gases that straight gasoline.

The reason for the surprise is that the study considers the ancillary effects of biofuels. For example, when the residual is left on the ground, it improves the soil’s ability to absorb CO2. When the increased CO2 from non-absorption into the ground is considered, biofuels make the environment worse.

You can read more:

Doubling greenhouse gas

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Question: What are “streamers” at a wing-toasting solar facility? (solar #19)


(photo by James Ulvog)

Answer: Birds that fly into the solar flux at the top of the solar collector and ignite, producing a trail of smoke as they fall to the ground. Thus, a streamer.

That is the word used by the people who work at the Ivanpah solar facility, according to an article at ReWire by Chris Clarke: Federal Lab Offers Grim Look at Solar Harm to Wildlife. The article summarizes a few pieces of information from a report from a lab of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read the report for yourself here.

Do you suppose it is a bad sign that people working at a solar farm have a special word to casually describe birds that fall out of the sky after being toasted?

I picture movies about World War II in the air over Europe.  Remember those views of an armada of bombers?  One of the lumbering B-17s takes a flak burst, starts streaming smoke from an engine on fire, and slowly spirals into the ground. A streamer.

While staff from the FWS Office of Law Enforcement department were on site they saw a “streamer event” every 2 minutes. That could be dust particles or it could be a cloud of insects, as claimed by the staff who work at the facility. OLE did observe birds (plural) fly into the solar flux and incinerate.

Perhaps the California regulators ought to know how many of those thirty incidents per hour are birds and how many are humongous clouds of concentrated dust drifting hundreds of feet in the air before they issue any more wing-toaster permits.

Undercounts of birds and no counts of butterflies

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Update on solar and wind power, 3-24-14 – solar #17

Here’s a few articles on the environmental and economic issues with solar and wind energy.

Since the uncontained, unresearched, unquantified environmental damage from slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters is not particularly good, I can’t call this series more good stuff. So here are a few updates on opportunity cost, the views of wind power hardware will last forever, more solar farms approved, and regressiveness of solar subsidies.

Opportunity cost

One of many problems with massive subsidies for wind and solar energy is doing so diverts attention and effort from developing new technologies. Some amazing things not yet invented could possibly some day actually be efficient, competitive, environmentally friendly, and not kill off lots of protected birds, non-protected birds, endangered animals and threatened plants.

Walter Russell Mead makes that point on 3/23: Chinese Firm Races to the Bottom of Global Solar Market.

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How to destroy a newly legalized illegal industry: Tax it to death

How could you shut down the newly legal recreational marijuana market in states that have legalized the federally illegal drug?

Well, you could pour on the taxes and regulations so heavy the legal stuff is twice or three times the price of illegal stuff.

First, a disclaimer. I don’t have experiential knowledge of the pot market, legal or illegal. My knowledge comes from the computer screen.

Why talk about this?

Three reasons. First, it helps me learn about change taking place around us in new worlds I’ll never personally explore. Second, this specific issue will allow us to see in real-time the damage caused by taxes and government regulation by watching what happens to a new ‘industry’. Third, I expect the state lawmakers and regulators are going to get an unpleasant lesson in unintended consequences. This post will be a marker for testing the idea that regulators can damage a new industry.

Having said that, check out an article in Daily Beast by Nick Gillespie:  Pot’s Black Market Backlash – How prohibitionists and nanny staters are trying to keep marijuana illegal – or at least inconvenient.

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Another unintended consequence of ethanol – loss of wildlife due to loss of habitat

Update: Welcome to those arriving from Million Dollar Way. Hope you enjoy the read. There are plenty of other posts here on ethanol, energy in general, and especially peak oil foolishness. (Thanks for the link!)

It doesn’t compare to forcing the poor to pay lots more so they barely have enough food to stay alive, but there is another unintended consequence directly caused by turning corn into gasoline.

The loss of grassland has reduced the number of game birds, with a resulting drop in hunting and the associated slump in economic activity.

The Dickinson Press has a report:  Ethanol’s rise can mean loss of hunting lands.

It used to be that one particular motel in Fairbury, Nebraska would be packed every day of the week for the first two weeks of the pheasant season and then all weekend for several more weeks. Now, there are a few hunters that show up occasionally.


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A: 67 nationwide plus 350 at Altamont. Q: How many eagles sliced and diced in five years?

At least 67 golden and bald eagles have been killed in the last five years by wind farms. That is according to a report published in the Journal of Raptor Research discussed by the AP at “Alarming’ number of eagles killed by wind farms, new study finds.

But that’s just for starters.

That death count is small potatoes because it does not include the casualty count from the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area.

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Lots of blame for the financial crisis of ’08 falls on the federal government

There is a huge amount of blame to be spread for the Great Recession that started in 2008. While the recession technically ended four years ago back in June of 2009, most people in California and lots of charities here are still feeling the effects.

I see exquisitely little discussion of how intentional federal policies created the distortions that led to the financial crisis. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Phil Gramm and Mike Solon help explain why much of the blame belongs to the federal government:  The Clinton-Era Roots of the Financial Crisis.

To make this non-partisan, I’ll point out that the flawed policies from the Clinton administration were ratified, continued, and extended by the Bush administration. Not to worry, both parties have worked lots of overtime to earn their share of blame.

While you can argue on the proportionate blame between the two parties, I’ll point out that regardless of the allocation you determine, 100% of that particular allocation falls on deliberate federal policy.

Initial efforts to persuade private pension plans to fund low-income housing failed. The administration forced Continue reading “Lots of blame for the financial crisis of ’08 falls on the federal government”

How do you securely leak information in a surveillance society?

How do you talk to a reporter with minimum risk of being found out? What does the answer to that question tell the rest of us who don’t have really juicy stuff to spill to a national reporter?

You leave digital crumbs every time you use the internet or your computer or any device that accesses the ‘net. How then to securely leak info to the media?

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Ethanol fail

When can we start calling it foolishness to burn corn in our cars?

Via Meadia’s post Biofuel Boondoggle Just Won’t Quit begins:

Corn-based ethanol starves the world’s poor and increases greenhouse gas emissions

Standards set by Congress require a certain amount of ethanol be used. Here’s the required amount this year compared to production and expected demand:

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The new ‘49ers’ and ‘29ers’

No, there isn’t a new gold rush in California.

There is a stiff penalty to be paid for employers who have any person working more than 29 hours a week. There is also a serious penalty paid for hiring the 50th employee.



Employers with a staff person working 30 hours or more must provide health insurance to the employee or the company must pay a penalty. The insurance will cost several thousands of dollars a year. The penalty will be $2,000 if health insurance is provided.

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