Tax Reform Economic Science 301.

Posted April 4, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Nature is the art of God.”

– Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

cumberland 7Treason 3: The Temple of Doom is part 3 of a three-part documentary “Treason”. It covers various aspects of environmental issues surrounding climate change, including critical looks at “cap-and-trade” (CAT) measures meant to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Treason 3 begins by declaring that the Green Agenda has been hijacked; climate change has turned into a movement to make private corporations the land barons of the 21st century.

Bankers have found a way to get in on the act of carbon trading, gambling on the price of permits.

Scientist James Hansen believes that “the dirtiest trick governments play on their citizens is the pretense that they are working on clean coal“. The world’s largest coal-burners are the United Kingdom, United States, and Germany. CAT legislation was guided through the U.S. Congress by Senator Tim Wirth, legalizing a money-making scheme which became the model for European CAT – it basically takes the public air, water, and land and turns it into private property. Unfortunately it is the universal pattern. Mr. Hansen believes “CAT is a cop-out, driving the world to a dead-end, to a social and ecological disaster”.

A letter sent by the British Economic Association’s president to all member economists told them that the climate change issue is going to become very important, we have to understand it, and then we have to suggest policies that will enable us to capture this issue for our profession. Economists talked about CAT being a market-based approach, but it’s not a market at all – it’s created by legislation. CAT will create a gigantic bureaucracy. A real market approach would be a carbon tax which is very simple.

There is something worrisome coming down the highway, and that’s carbon trading. CAT is based on neoclassical economics and likely shaping up as the mainstream solution to the climate problem. Europe spent $50 billion on trading the pollution permits, the largest permit went to a German coal-burning facility, then their carbon dioxide emissions actually increased.

The global carbon market was worth US $126 billion in 2008

The second part of CAT is offsets, a supplement to CAT. Offsets allow corporations to use cleverly thought up equivalents to emissions like tree plantations in the global south, or iron filings in the ocean to absorb carbon, etc. to avoid and/or delay improvements to equipment and other measures to reduce emissions.

The global carbon trading market has become very large, the number of permits are expected to decrease, so the price of permits is expected to increase a lot. Permits now trading for 50 euros per ton of greenhouse gases are forecast to be selling for over 100 euros in 5-10 years. The income stream should be quite large – a trillion-dollar market by 2020. It will become the world’s largest commodity market and is looked upon by Wall Street and the City of London as the replacement for the giant derivatives market which resulted in the 2007-8 economic crash the world is still suffering with today.

Carbon trading is predicted to become worth $3 trillion by 2020

According to one man in the film, many people have concerns about the carbon market actually leading to a bubble similar to the property/housing bubble which had a huge effect on the crash. He finds that the problem is how people will value the assets – the commodities that are getting traded. Under the United Nations agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol, most of the offset credits, most of the carbon credits produced by offset projects under the clean development feature of Kyoto, are actually being bought every day. Not by polluters to offset their pollution, but by Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and others.

They are buying up the credits, not to deal with their own pollution problems, which aren’t nearly as serious as mining and manufacturers – they’re buying permits to gamble with them. To speculate. If they increase in value you can make money off that. If they crash or go down in value you can short them and make money from that. You can make money from volatility, when they go up and down in price, like hedge funds do.

Climate policy is being passed into the hands of Wall Street and the City of London. One of the dangers is that this will drive a bubble in carbon credits, and nobody knows about these new commodities. They have been packaged, sliced-and-diced; credits from a windmill project get combined with a plantation project with an efficiency project, securitized and so on…

It’s an extremely complex market of assets, nobody will know what they are, nobody will understand them, the price goes up and up and up until someone asks, “what are we trading in?” People lose trust and the bubble market crashes. A lot of money gets traded on Wall Street and City of London where they trade those carbon derivatives between each other, but very little carbon gets taken out of the air.

An alternative to massive bureaucracy, financially dangerous CAT/carbon trading is then illustrated. A carbon tax on gasoline of $1 per gallon would raise an estimated $670 billion per year. It would be inaccurate to call it a carbon “tax” because the $670 billion would be returned directly to citizens – around $3,000 per person. Scientist James Hansen agrees with such a “tax” to incentivize both reduction in gas usage and innovation in auto technology. Other benefits include people moving into higher miles-per-gallon vehicles, automakers’ understanding their products need higher mileage per gallon plus new hybrid/electric product development, and a more intense renewable energy consciousness, accelerating creativity for solar, wind, biomass and other green energy options.

Treason 3 then touches on Iceland and its fishing industry. International Monetary Fund established a conservation fund which apparently was a cover for speculating in the money markets. Corporations with factory-sized fishing vessels had the financial muscle to buy the fishing permits. Iceland didn’t charge enough for the full rental value of the fish. Fish quotas became a major instrument of funds for the banking industry speculators to make money. After Iceland’s banks collapsed, Icelanders realized they had to charge substantial rent to fish their coastal waters.

Narrator Fred Harrison then points out that many wars will be fought in the future over drinking water. Rivers are running dry, droughts are turning once fertile farmland into semi-deserts. Viewers learn that in California the super-rich are at the head of the pack for getting scarce water supplies.

Finally, the film asserts that those who have benefited from natural resource extraction had gotten off the hook with regard to damage done to the environment, including human beings, animals, and plants. Incentives are necessary to counteract the culture of greed and the harmful pollution that has happened, and is happening. John Perkins gives the example of Ecuador, whose new constitution just ratified gives land, forests, rivers, animals and plants inalienable rights. He sees this as a subtle, yet very important statement for Ecuadorans in their respect for the nation’s natural resources.

The woman closing the film goes one step further than Ecuador, calling for a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights. She believes such an agreement is necessary to deal with the crisis, and has the added benefit of creating a seismic shift in consciousness.

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(Thank you to theIUorg at YouTube)

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Toward Healthy Energy Solutions.

Posted February 17, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Science is the search for truth – it is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent, to do harm to others.”

– Linus Pauling (1901-1994)

smoky mt-1In the United States shale gas was 2% of the total natural gas produced in 2000. In the year 2014 that percentage has risen to 40% of the total natural gas. Gas from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has become a phenomenon in America, and remains a controversial subject due to limited knowledge of the process by the people.

For those men and women who have concerns or wish to learn more about fracking, an organization “Physicians, Scientists, And Engineers for Healthy Energy” was formed to allow people to study transparent non-biased information on important energy topics. Their information comes from a multi-disciplinary framework with contributions from educated men and women in various fields on all aspects of energy production on Earth.

The group focuses on producing highly vetted knowledge on one of the most important subjects in the world: energy, its sources, the hazards and promise of the various energy production options, as well as societal concerns from those optional forms. Energy is essential for every human being in the world, so this organization, one of the first, if not the first of its kind, offers the public, government officials, and business an excellent source of accurate study on the consequences, negative or positive, of different energies available.

People in the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and New York, where the giant Marcellus shale deposits are located will be especially interested in visiting this organization’s website psehealthyenergy.org, because the future in this region may include fracking wells numbering in the hundreds of thousands. People in states considering fracking would make the right decision by spending some time on the groups website, as the knowledge offered there is important and highly relevant.

Given the global dimension of fracking, people around the world would do well to learn at psehealthyenergy.org as many nations have either begun drilling, are considering it, or are experiencing regrets about deciding to frack.  PSE for Healthy Energy offers a unique and important source of top-notch scientific research and study.

Some facts about fracking:

Wells get drilled to depths from 5,000 to 10,000 feet

3-5 millions gallons of fluid are required per well

2-3% of the fluids consists of chemicals needed for the process

Companies are not required to report all of those chemicals

To a large extent, fracking companies cannot be sued for damages due to the “Cheney Rule”

Methane from fracking is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2

Comprehensive environmental impacts have not been conducted and determined

In the state of Pennsylvania 7,000 wells have gone up, of which approximately one-half have been fracked. The state has seen a significant number of complaints about the effects of fracking, mostly about drinking water contamination. Pennsylvania projects for the future that 100,000 wells will become drilled, and since the relatively small number of wells that have been fracked has resulted in a large number of citizen complaints, the urgency of intense research and study only increases.

This is where absolute relevance of an organization like Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy becomes recognized, because education on fracking and alternatives is essential for citizen’s awareness of the issues, and offers the best chance for good decision-making going forward. In America there are very few, if any, news organizations educating the public on hydraulic fracturing – the positives and negatives. On the one hand there are economic positives, and then there are negative consequences – most importantly drinking water contamination from fracking chemicals.

The work done by PSE for Healthy Energy is critically important because the best minds on the issues of energy production are making sincere efforts to get the science right in the one or two decades most scientists feel are left to reverse adverse environmental effects from fossil fuels.

The greatest danger facing humanity is higher temperatures which accelerate an already melting permafrost in the Arctic regions, threatening the Earth with massive methane releases of catastrophic dimensions. Given the great increase in fracking around the world it is important that science is relied upon for good knowledge of its consequences.

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Mr. Jake Hays of PSE for Healthy Energy gives a short talk from January 2014 in the following video. If you have concerns about future decisions regarding energy production options for the men, women, and children of the world, please visit psehealthyenergy.org.

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(Thank you We Are Change CT @ YouTube)

A Sensible Climate Change Policy – From A Scientist.

NASA Scientist James Hansen Arrested, August 2...
NASA Scientist James Hansen Arrested, August 29, 2011 Photo Credit: Ben Powless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted November 21, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

Dr. James Hansen was one of the first scientists to publish and speak about the weather related issues and concerns about fossil fuels energy, more commonly called climate change. Any person who has done any amount of research on climate change will agree that there has been a great amount of debate, sometimes becoming overly contentious in my view, on whether the whole concept is real or not.

It seems that recently, very recently if one takes Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines into consideration, the debate over whether climate change is real or not has tilted in the direction of its reality. In the past few years, since James Hansen and other scientists have introduced the people to their findings, where these scientists have been warning of some dire consequences of continuance of the fossil fuels status-quo, there has been a kind of scientific warfare taking place between the climate-change affirming scientists and those scientists who claim that it is a hoax – non-existent.

I remember reading about a “climate change is not real” study which was signed by around 20 scientists – the scientists were contacted and it turns out that none of them had signed off on the document. This manufactured science, where industries create “studies” that “prove” their position is correct, is part of the climate change debate. This is manufactured science, and finds a relative in the field of economics, illustrated in the Academy Award winning documentary “Inside Job” by Charles Ferguson, about the true story of the 2008 economic crisis.

So, we find university professors hired by coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear companies creating papers which coincide in their findings with the industry that pays them. It is the same with university economics professors, hired by the largest banking corporations, and creating studies and papers which coincide with the banks, forwarding the agenda of the most powerful and wealthy stockholders. So, we find situations where university trained scientists will sell out to the highest bidder, many times making a great deal of salary in the process.

In essence, there are very intelligent professors/academics who are willing to step across ethical and moral lines to gain personally. Now, we can ask a few questions about who gains and who doesn’t gain in climate change, economics/banking, and other ongoing debates on the existence or non-existence of problematic realities, reforms, and proposed actions.

Let me say that, as far as Dr. James Hansen’s integrity and sincerity has come into question, my view is that Mr. Hansen is genuinely concerned about the future of today’s young people as well as future generations. After listening to a number of his speeches he comes across as thoughtful, measured, and honest – without the least bit of pretense. Some may not consider his action of getting arrested in a White House protest against the XL Pipeline, with over 1,200 others including Robert Kennedy Jr. and Daryl Hannah, as anything significant with regard to his commitment and genuineness.

Others may not feel that this in any way makes James Hansen’s climate change science, or his proposal(s) for solutions to the crisis, any more true simply because he practiced non-violent civil disobedience and got himself arrested. There are some who consider those 1,200+ men and women who were arrested in front of the White House a group of “seed-eaters” and “tree-huggers” who want to take down the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries – to take away the people’s freedom.

So, we see British Petroleum (BP) running advertisements of men and women who look just like everyone, in polo shirts as opposed to three-piece suits, standing on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico which was in effect killed by BP’s catastrophic oil spill. The men and women in the ads tell the viewers that “everything is fine, no change in energy policy is needed, we are on top of this, go back to sleep…”.

James Hansen has said that new types of nuclear reactors, called fast reactors and thorium reactors, are a suitable form of nuclear energy production as the negative by-products of radioactive waste, along with the problems associated with safe disposal, are minimal. This is proof to me that his views are sincere and based on solid science – not based on some type of anti-fossil fuels, leftist ax-to-grind vendetta. He also calls out those who assert that renewable energies are the be-all-end-all for solving the climate crisis.

Mr. Hansen has proposed a “fee and dividend” on fossil fuels to begin the fight to cut climate change emissions in the most rapid manner. Fees on fossil fuels would be attached at ports of entry and extraction facilities at an escalating rate, with those fees distributed to every citizen in the form of a monthly dividend check. He makes certain to emphasize that the monies collected must go to only the people, 100%, with zero going into government coffers.

His proposal makes a lot of sense to me, and my guess is that the American people, once they become aware of his proposal, would vote for it. Mr. Hansen suggests that America and China could begin the program through agreement, and that other nations around the world would quickly join in agreement as well, setting up their own “fee and dividend” systems dealing with fossil fuels emissions reductions.

So, those of you reading these words can decide whether you agree with the logic of James Hansen’s proposal. He has noted/admitted that it is a form of wealth redistribution. People will need to figure out whether he has been motivated by an altruistic concern for the health of humanity and all life forms or a personal vendetta against big oil, natural gas, and coal fossil fuel corporations and their stockholders.

Would implementing James Hansen’s “fee and dividend” proposal result in good, positive effects for people, animals, and plants?

In other words, would a “fee and dividend” system implementation on Earth have good consequences? In the simplest terms, would such an action be a real improvement? Would there be fewer extreme weather events in the future directly related to the “fee and dividend” proposed by Dr. Hansen? Fewer droughts, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, and extinctions? A decrease in the warming of ocean waters, which leads to polar ice melts, which leads to sea-level rise, which leads to ocean warming, ice melt, ocean warming – the status-quo?

Would Dr. James Hansen’s “fee and dividend” proposal really make the difference by preventing inundation of coastal mega-cities and island nations in the future from continually rising ocean levels? Should his proposal be seriously considered? Would life on Earth be better?

Would humanity be wise to listen to Dr. James Hansen?

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