Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment

Big Auto could be the new Big Tobacco

Should state and federal governments, trial lawyers and insurance companies across the country band together and sue the auto industry just as they sued tobacco companies more than a decade ago as a way of recouping hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs from a product (in this case, petroleum) they claim is a nuisance?

There is a movement afoot — slow and steady — leading in that very direction. Sue Big Auto for the costs incurred in providing medical care to people with birth defects, asthma, emphysema and cancer.

Big Auto is to blame, and Big Auto owes us. That, in essence, is the claim of an obscure man you've probably never heard of who is running for president of the United States. His name is Terry Tamminen, and before you blow him off (preferably through tailpipe emissions out of your massive Hummer), know that he is a close friend and adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and is the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Oh yes, and he has written a book: Lives Per Gallon. (I'd make a snarky comment about people who run for president to sell their books, but that criticism cuts across both parties, doesn't it?)

Seeing Stars

The Washington Post reports today: “Astronomers have spotted a cataclysmic explosion that marked the death of a huge, distant star in a blast five times as bright and powerful as any they had seen previously. They said yesterday that a similar fate may be imminent for a star in Earth’s galactic neighborhood.

“The size and energy of the newly recorded blast, 240 million light-years away, have already begun to transform scientific understanding of how especially large stars explode, and have left awestruck researchers concerned — and a little excited — about what might happen to the similarly enormous and unstable star closer to home.”

Was this caused by global warming?

Al Gore to purchase carbon emission credits from Planned Parenthood? Let's hope not ...

Two interesting articles today about environmentalism — not just as a feel-good weekend activity, but as a way of life, a religion and, yes folks, a rationale for birth control. Can Al Gore purchasing carbon emission credits from Planned Parenthood be too far in the future? No, I dare say not.

"John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: 'The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.'

"In his latest comments, the academic says that when couples are planning a family they should be encouraged to think about the environmental consequences.

Bush v. Chávez II — The Ethanol Showdown

President Bush, still fresh from his recent trip to South America, touted progress in sealing a deal with Brazil to develop its ethanol industry for export to the United States. In a sense this was Bush's double play against both the Middle East and Venezuela President Hugo Chávez who, despite being thorns in Mr. Bush's side, cannot be ignored as long as the U.S. remains dependent on foreign oil. Clearly, this new deal made Chávez nervous. Not only did he scamper to Argentina during Bush's Brazil visit to drum up the anti-American fervor, he dragged Cuba's Fidel Castro out of his deathbed to rail against the diversion of food crops to biofuel production. Antics aside, though, Chávez and Castro have a point: Ever since Bush unveiled his Renewable Fuel Standards initiative — requiring the country to use 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel over the next six years — demand for corn has gone through the roof, increasing the prices of dependent commodities from wheat futures to pork bellies. Is America ready to pay more for food in exchange for lessened dependence on foreign oil? We'll see.

Politically Speaking, Newt is Right on the Environment

Newt Gingrich debated John Kerry yesterday on the environment. Sort of.

It has been an open secret that Newt has always been a green Republican. He never has been as open about his green tendencies as he was yesterday, though. And I think from a practical political perspective, Newt is right.

Most of Big Business has already reached the conclusion that being green sells products. It is more of an attitude than an actual coherent policy perspective, but corporate marketers all understand that it can be easy being green.

Al Gore’s Doom and Gloom

The Al Gore Environmental Express was in town a few weeks ago preaching the doom and gloom of modern environmentalism. According to his testimony, the sky is falling, the oceans are drying up and the earth is becoming infertile. And to top it off, according to Gore it is all the fault of American enterprise, this despite the fact Gore’s home alone accounts for over half of the energy used in Tennessee every year.

Now, it’s not that I don’t believe in the importance of the environment, it’s just that I’ve heard all of these gloom-and-doom prophecies before. After all, in the ’60s we were told that the world would undergo a famine and hundreds of millions of people would starve to death, and in the ’70s Europe’s distinguished scientists announced that we would run out of gold by the ’80s. Even a U.S. president was found drinking the Kool-Aid of environmental gloom and doom when he announced that “we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the next decade.” (Although in all fairness, Jimmy Carter is a bit like a college sophomore when it comes to intellectual fads.)