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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Featured Story Telling Event of The Week – in New York City:
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic and of the European Union, declared: “Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. I’m afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world.” Now, don’t forget that this statement was made before people who gathered to analyze an ongoing World Economic Crisis – some of whom, like George Soros, were saying that we have not seen the tip of the iceberg yet. The Klaus show is coming this week to New York!

Last year, at the Heartland Institute New York City Event, the oil companies had their free run and actually it was quite an entertaining event. Paleontology was well rehearsed, but also seemingly honest naive people spoke out their thoughts. Some thoughts were provocative indeed, and caused real scientists a work-out in finding reasonable answers – and let us face it – science does not have yet answers for everything, and if it had, it would be no science. It is only religion that has answers for everything, and our website suggested in the past that the oil-use religion is causing humanity’s assured self-destruction. Darwin, another of the Heartland’s targets, made it clear that it takes eons to effect evolution, and life as we know it evolved within the context of a carbon/oxygen chemistry within a given composition of the mixture of gases we call air. A serious deviation from this composition might indeed end life on earth as it evolved – a very frightening idea that no sophist should dare to disregard. But well ….

We reporrted then:

Vaclav Klaus, President of The Czech Republic, Sets The Timing For The Heartland Institute’s New York Climate Change Conference, He May Yet Become, Personaly, A Serious Impediment On The Road To Copenhagen.

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2008

by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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This year, on March 9, 2009 – At Columbia University, March 9, 2009, 3-4 pm, Rotunda, Low Memorial Library., World Leaders Program, Victoria de Grazia, Moore College Professor of History will moderate.

President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republicnda, Low Memorial Library

This World Leaders Forum program features a keynote address by

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The big event:

welcome

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The world’s largest-ever gathering of global warming skeptics will assemble Sunday in New York City to confront the issue, “Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?”

The complete program for the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, including cosponsor information and brief biographies of all speakers, can be downloaded in Adobe’s PDF format here.

About 800 scientists, economists, legislators, policy activists, and media representatives are expected to register at the second International Conference on Climate Change, opening Sunday, March 8 and concluding Tuesday, March 10 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Produced by The Heartland Institute and 57 co-sponsoring organizations, the conference is devoted to answering questions overlooked by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That panel concluded global temperatures may already have reached crisis proportions, and that human activity was a key driver in raising temperatures, primarily because of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But the 80 experts scheduled to speak at the Heartland conference say they will present a substantially different viewpoint.

“The number of people registered for this event is nearly twice as many as attended the 2008 conference,” noted Heartland President Joseph Bast. “And the presenters at this year’s conference are the elite in the world among climate scientists. We will be delighted to demonstrate once again the breadth and high quality of support that the skeptical perspective on climate change enjoys.”

Headliners among the 70-plus presenters will be:

  • Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic and of the European Union. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he declared, “Environmentalism and the global warming alarmism is challenging our freedom. I’m afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economy all around the world.”
  • American astronaut Dr. Jack Schmitt–the last living man to walk on the moon–a geologist Ph.D. who has contended he has seen “too many of [my] colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming.”
  • William Gray, Colorado State University, who claims global warming alarmists have hijacked the American Meteorological Society.
  • Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s leading experts in dynamic meteorology, especially planetary waves.
  • Stephen McIntyre, primary author of Climate Audit, a blog devoted to the analysis and discussion of climate data. He is a devastating critic of the temperature record of the past 1,000 years, particularly the work of Michael E. Mann, creator of the infamous “hockey stick” graph. That graph–thoroughly discredited in scientific circles–supposedly proved that mankind is responsible for a sharp increase in greenhouse gases.
  • Arthur Robinson, curator of a global warming petition signed by more than 32,000 American scientists, including more than 10,000 with doctorate degrees, rejecting the alarmist assertion that global warming has put the Earth in crisis and is caused primarily by mankind.
  • Willie Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
  • Roy Spencer, University of Alabama at Huntsville, principal research scientist and team leader on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
  • Don Easterbrook, professor of geology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, who will present new data showing “the most recent global warming that began in 1977 is over, and the Earth has entered a new phase of global cooling.”

The Heartland Institute, a 25-year-old national nonpartisan think-tank based in Chicago, said all of the event’s expenses will be covered by admission fees and individual and foundation donors to Heartland. No corporate dollars or sponsorships earmarked for the event were solicited or accepted.

Co-sponsors do not pay any fee or donation to Heartland to be a co-sponsor. Heartland hasn’t received funding from either the Koch or Scaife foundations in at least a decade.

Click here for the full proceedings of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change — including audio and video for more than 100 speakers.

program

last updated: March 5, 2009

Where and When

The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change will take place in New York City on March 8-10, 2009 (Sunday – Tuesday), at the Marriott New York Marquis Times Square Hotel, 1535 Broadway, New York, NY.

There will be four tracks of panel discussions:

1. Paleoclimatology
2. Climatology
3. Impact of Climate Change
4. Economics and Politics

The complete program, including cosponsor information and brief biographies of all speakers, can be downloaded in Adobe’s PDF format here.

The tentative schedule appears below.

Sunday, March 8
3:00 – 8:00 pm
Registration
3:00 – 7:00 pm
Exhibit hall open
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Registration and reception
6:30 – 9:30 pm
Opening dinner with keynote speakers
Hon. Vaclav Klaus – No Progress in the Climate Change Debate
Richard Lindzen – Climate Alarm: What We Are Up Against, and What to Do
9:30 – 10:30 pm
Networking and reception
Monday, March 9
7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Exhibit hall open
7:30 – 8:30 am
Breakfast with keynote speakers
Hon. Tom McClintock – Inconvenient Questions
Lawrence Solomon – Our Green Friends
8:30 – 8:45 am
Break
8:45 – 10:15 am
Session I
Track 1: Paleoclimatology
Tom Segalstad – Carbon Isotope Mass Balance Modeling of Atmospheric vs. Oceanic CO2
Syun Akasofu – Natural Causes of 20th Century Warming: Recovery from the Little Ice Age and Oscillatory Change
David Evans – Carbon Dioxide Not Responsible for 20th Century Warming
Track 2: Climatology – Serious Problems with IPCC Forecasting Procedures
J. Scott Armstrong – A Forecaster’s View of Climate Change: Methodology Also Counts
Kesten Green – Validity of Climate Change Forecasting for Public Policy Decision Making
Terry Dunleavy- ‘Consensus’ in Climate Science: An Unsubstantiated Urban Myth
Track 3: Climate Change Impacts
Alexandre Aguiar – Dubious Connections between Global Warming and Extreme Weather Events
Craig Idso – Carbon Dioxide, Global Warming, and Coral Reefs: Prospects for the Future
David Legates – Climate Change and Extreme Events: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Track 4: Economics and Politics – The Economics of Energy Rationing
Marlo Lewis – Economic Train Wreck: Regulation CO2 Emissions Under the Clean Air Act
Ross McKitrick – Calling the Cap-and-Trade Bluff
David Kreutzer – Modeling Results on the Effects of Cap and Trade
10:15 – 10:30 am
Break
10:30 – 11:00 am
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
10:30 am – 12:00 noon
Session II
Track 1: Paleoclimatology
Fred Goldberg – Do the Planets and the Sun Control Our Climate and the CO2 in the Atmosphere?
Craig Loehle – 1,500-Year Climate Cycles, Broken Hockey Sticks, and Ocean Cooling
Tim Patterson – Gleissberg Cycle: Pacemaker for the Pacific Decadal Oscillation?
Track 2: Climatology
William Kininmonth – A Natural Limit to Anthropogenic Global Warming
Brian Valentine – Proposed Experimental Methods to Measure the Downward Directed Component of Radiation from CO2 in the Night Sky
Jan Veizer – Climate, Water, Carbon Dioxide, and the Sun
Track 3: Climate Change Impacts – Exposing the Myths Regarding Global Warming and Human Health
John Dale Dunn – Human Health Effects of Warming and Cooling
Joel Schwartz – Climate Chnage and Human Health: A California Perspective
Howard Maccabee
Track 4: Economics and Politics – The Political Outlook for Energy-Rationing Policies
Marc Morano – Prospects for Cap-and-Trade Legislation in the New Congress
Chris Horner – Re-Writing the Rules for Kyoto II: Turning a Treaty into a Congressional-Executive Agreement
Myron Ebell – Prospects for Energy Rationing: It’s Not as Grim as it Looks
12:00 noon – 2:00 pm
Lunch and keynote speakers
Hon. Harrison Schmitt – Climate Facts that Really Are Facts
Art Robinson – Nobel Prize for Death
2:00 – 2:15 pm
Break
2:15 – 2:45 pm
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Christopher C. Horner
2:15 – 2:45 pm
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Iain Murray
2:15 – 3:45 pm
Session III
Track 1: Paleoclimatology
Dennis Avery – Predicting 21st Century Global Warming with the 1,500-year Climate Cycle
Joe D’Aleo – Data Integrity Issues, Natural Variability, and Climate Change
Track 2: Climatology
Patrick Michaels – EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
William Cotton – Weather and Climate Engineering
Anthony Lupo – Inter-annual Temperature Variations
Track 3: Climate Change Impacts
Indur Goklany – Climate Change Impacts
Paul Reiter – The EDEN Project: Emerging Diseases in a Changing European Environment
Stanley Goldenberg – Is There a Link between Global Warming and Hurricane Activity?
Track 4: Economics and Politics – The Morality of Energy Rationing
Barun Mitra -The Three E’s of Energy: Ethics, Economics, and Efficiency
Cal Beisner – Remember the Poor: A Christian Perspective on Energy Rationing
Roy Innis – Congress of Racial Equality
3:45 – 4:00 pm
Break
4:00 – 4:30 pm
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Patrick J. Michaels
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Session IV
Track 1: Climatology
Richard Keen – Volcanoes and Climate Change Since 1980: A View from the Moon
David Douglass – The Models Still Do Not Agree with the Observations
Nir Shaviv – New Solar-Climate Link and Implications for Our Understanding of Climate Change
Track 2: Climatology
Anthony Watts – Weather Station Siting Issues within the USHCN Surface Station Network
Steve McIntyre – Do We Know that the 1990s Were the Warmest Decade of the Millennium?
James J. O’Brien – The Truth about Climate Change in the Southeast United States
Track 3: Economics and Politics – The Kyoto Zone
Roger Helmer – The EU Parliament
Benny Peiser – The Crisis of EU Climate Policy
Gabriel Calzada – Spain’s New Economy: Boom and Bust of the Spanish Renewable Miracle
Track 4: Economics and Politics
Kenneth P. Green – A Green Economy, or a Tide of Red Ink?
Bob Ferguson – State Climate Policies: Arkansas as Profile
Tom Tanton – Are California’s Global Warming Policies a Model for the Nation?
5:30 pm
Dinner on your own
8:00 – 11:00 pm
Dessert reception
8:30 – 9:00 pm
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Richard A. Keen
Tuesday, March 10
7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Exhibit hall open
7:00 – 8:30 am
Breakfast with keynote speakers
John Sununu – The Politics of Science: It Ain’t Pretty
Willie Soon – Disconnects in Sun-Climate Studies: Removing Politics from the Science
8:30 – 8:45 am
Break
8:45 – 10:15 am
Session V
Track 1: Climatology
S. Fred Singer: No Evidence for AGW: A Personal Odyssey
Christopher Essex – Climate Change and the Laughter of the Gods
Piers Corbyn – What Does and Does Not Cause Climate Change
Track 2: Climatology
George Taylor – The Pacific Decadal Oscillation: A Dominant Mode of Climate Variability
Roy Spencer – Satellite Evidence for Global Warming Being Driven by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
William Gray – Climate Change Is Primarily Driven by Salinity-Induced Deep Ocean Circulation Changes
Track 3: Climate Change Impacts
Laurence Gould – Global Warming Alarmism: Checking the Claims, Exposing the Methods
Howard Hayden – Debunking Global Warming Propaganda
Keith Lockitch – Green Energy: How to Undermine Industrial Civilization and Become More Vulnerable to Nature
Track 4: Economics and Politics – Intellectual Roots of Alarmism
Christopher Booker – From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares Are Costing Us the Earth
Iain Murray – Tracing Alarmism’s Methods Back to Their Roots
Yaron Brook – Environmentalism: A Philosophy of Sacrifice
10:15 – 10:30 am
Break
10:30 – 11:00 am
Book-signing in the Exhibit Hall: Christopher Booker
10:30 am – 12:00 noon
Session VI
Track 1: Climatology
Don Easterbrook – ‘Global Warming’ Is Over: Geologic, Oceanographic, and Solar Evidence for Global Cooling in the Coming Decades
Mike Jungbauer – Global Warming Science and Policymakers
Track 2: Climatology – Findings of the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change
Fred Singer
Richard Lindzen
Christopher Monckton
David Douglass
Christopher Essex
Track 3: Economics and Politics
Michelle Foss – Climate Science and Economics: Understanding and Balacing the Debate
Francisco Capella – Climate Change and the Ethics of Freedom
Jay Lehr – Green Energy Job Losses
Track 4: Economics and Politics – The Alarmists Revealed
Rob Bradley – The Malthusian Virus in the Scientific Debate
Joanne Nova – The Great Global Fawning: How Science Journalists Pay Homage to Non-Science and Un-Reason
John Coleman – Dead Wrong about Global Warming: How Al Gore Got that Way
12:00 noon – 3:00 pm
Lunch and keynote speakers
Bob Carter – The Problem is NATURAL Climate Change, Stupid!
John Theon – Is Climate Change Driven by Mankind: My Personal Journey
Christopher Monckton – Magna est veritas, et praevalet (Great Is Truth, and Mighty Above All Things)

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registration


<PetitionSigners.jpg>
SPECIAL OFFER for signers of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s Global Warming Petition! If you have signed the Global Warming Petition, you qualify for a 20 percent discount off the registration fees described below. To apply, call Events Manager Nikki Comerford at 312/377-4000. Please note we will confirm with OISM that you have legitimately signed the petition, and we reserve the right to reject discounted registrations from persons who have not signed.


The complete program for the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, including cosponsor information and brief biographies of all speakers, can be downloaded in Adobe’s PDF format here.


Online registration: Pay in U.S. dollars

Online registration: Pay in Euros

To register by phone, have a credit card ready and call Ms. McElrath at 312/377-4000. To register by mail, download the form and mail it with check or credit card information to: 2009 ICCC, The Heartland Institute, 19 South LaSalle Street #903, Chicago, Illinois 60603, USA.

Full Delegate
US $720
490 Euro
Students
US $360
245 Euro
Panels Only (no meals)
US $360
245 Euro

Full delegates, media, and students receive:

  • program updates by email prior to the event
  • tickets for five meals (plenary sessions)
  • admission to all panels
  • conference proceedings manual
  • all session refreshments

Panels Only registrants receive all the benefits above except the five meals.

Elected officials: Free admission and travel and hotel scholarships are available to elected officials. Please direct inquiries to Brian Costin, assistant government relations director, at bcostin@heartland.org.

Journalists: Free admission is available to qualified journalists. Please direct inquiries to Tammy Nash, media relations manager, at tnash@heartland.org.

Online registrants will receive immediate confirmation via email. If registering by written form, confirmation will be emailed (if address provided) within 72 hours of receipt. Registrations cancelled prior to 5:00 pm (CST) on February 16, 2009 are subject to a $100 cancellation fee. Registrations are non-refundable after 5:00 pm (CST) on February 16, 2009.


For more information, contact Nikki Comerford, events director at The Heartland Institute, at ncomerford@
 
heartland.org, or call 312/377-4000.

=================———————————–

Vaclav Klaus, President of The Czech Republic, Sets The Timing For The Heartland Institute’s New York Climate Change Conference, He May Yet Become, Personaly, A Serious Impediment On The Road To Copenhagen.

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2008

by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We were surprised to learn that the current President of The Czech Republic, Mr. Vaclav Klaus, will be the 7 a.m. speaker at the final Breakfast meeting of the Heartland Institute’s Climate Change Skeptics’ meeting, in New York City, Tuesday, March 4, 2008.We knew that in September 2007, at the Climate Change meeting called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Czech President was the only Head of State to criticize the UN for its approach on climate change.

Now this is something that should worry us. The Czech Republic will hold onto the EU Presidency for the January 1. 2009 to the June 30, 2009 period. And this is right in between the 2008 COP 14 of the UNFCCC in Poznan and the COP 15 of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen. We already expressed our worries last week after the release of information about Czech opposition to some of the most important climate change fighting measures envisioned by the EU.

www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/03

Now, further, as after the present Slovenian EU Presidency, there comes the French Presidency, that ends on December 31, 2008 and covers thus the December Poznan meeting, that was supposed to prepare the material that will then move to the the December 2009 Copenhagen meeting.

We already wrote about the fact that the US Presidential elections occur in November 2008, so by December 2008 there will be a totally lame US Administration that will just tread time until the President-in-Waiting, or the President-Elect takes over. As Poznan is supposed to bring in to the negotiation circle the US – this simply is impossible because the President elect will not be able to have any meaningful role in these negotiations.

We suggested thus earlier that a solution could be the postponement of the Poznan meeting until March, at least. This because what we learned from the experience with the change of government in Australia – where the new Prime Minister came to Bali and managed real change, and speeded-up the process there.

But now we stand corrected – a Czech Presidency of the EU in March 2008 is now a guarantee for a non-performing EU.

So, we stand now corrected about the idea of postponing Poznan, while still being right about a projected non-performing Poznan. Obviously, except if President Bush does experience indeed a true change of heart on matters of oil, the National and Global Interest, and climate change.

After the Czechs, the EU Presidency passes to Sweden – which will be at the head of the EU delegation in Copenhagen – but having limped along till June 30, 2008, can the EU, the motor on climate change activities at the UN, be able to pull out in five months the agreed text that is needed in order to have a post-2012 roadmap on global activities to reduce CO2 emissions?

Let us hear what the Czech President said on the subject of climate change in previous fora:

7.9.2007 – At the Ambrosetti Forum,Villa d’Este, Italy. “Global Warming Hysteria or Freedom and Prosperity?”

One can tell – with a high degree of confidence – what topics are expected to be raised here, this morning when it comes to discussing the key challenges of today’s world. The selection of the moderator and my fellow-panelists only confirms it. I guess it is either international terrorism or poverty in Africa. Talking about both of these topics is necessary because they are real dangers but it is relatively easy to talk about them because it is politically correct. I do see those dangers and do not in any way underestimate them. I do, however, see another major threat which deserves our attention – and I am afraid it does not get sufficient attention because to discuss it is politically incorrect these days.

The threat I have in mind is the irrationality with which the world has accepted the climate change (or global warming) as a real danger to the future of mankind and the irrationality of suggested and partly already implemented measures because they will fatally endanger our freedom and prosperity, the two goals we consider – I do believe – our priorities.

We have to face many prejudices and misunderstandings in this respect. The climate change debate is basically not about science; it is about ideology. It is not about global temperature; it is about the concept of human society. It is not about nature or scientific ecology; it is about environmentalism, about one – recently born – dirigistic and collectivistic ideology, which goes against freedom and free markets.

I spent most of my life in a communist society which makes me particularly sensitive to the dangers, traps and pitfalls connected with it. Several points have to be clarified to make the discussion easier:

1. Contrary to the currently prevailing views promoted by global warming alarmists, Al Gore’s preaching, the IPCC, or the Stern Report, the increase in global temperatures in the last years, decades and centuries has been very small and because of its size practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings and their activities. (The difference of temperatures between Prague where I was yesterday and Cernobbio where I am now is larger than the expected increase in global temperatures in the next century.)

2. As I said, the empirical evidence is not alarming. The arguments of global warming alarmists rely exclusively upon forecasts, not upon past experience. Their forecasts originate in experimental simulations of very complicated forecasting models that have not been found very reliable when explaining past developments.

3. It is, of course, not only about ideology. The problem has its important scientific aspect but it should be stressed that the scientific dispute about the causes of recent climate changes continues. The attempt to proclaim a scientific consensus on this issue is a tragic mistake, because there is none.

4. We are rational and responsible people and have to act when necessary. But we know that a rational response to any danger depends on the size and probability of the eventual risk and on the magnitude of the costs of its avoidance. As a responsible politician, as an academic economist, as an author of a book about the economics of climate change, I feel obliged to say that – based on our current knowledge – the risk is too small and the costs of eliminating it too high. The application of the so called “precautionary principle,” advocated by the environmentalists, is – conceptually – a wrong strategy.

5. The deindustrialization and similar restrictive policies will be of no help. Instead of blocking economic growth, the increase of wealth all over the world and fast technical progress – all connected with freedom and free markets – we should leave them to proceed unhampered. They represent the solution to any eventual climate changes, not their cause. We should promote adaptation, modernization, technical progress. We should trust in the rationality of free people.

6. It has a very important North-South and West-East dimension. The developed countries do not have the right to impose any additional burden on the less developed countries. Imposing overambitious and – for such countries – economically disastrous environmental standards on them is unfair.

No radical measures are necessary. We need something “quite normal.” We have to get rid of the one-sided monopoly, both in the field of climatology and in the public debate. We have to listen to arguments. We have to forget fashionable political correctness. We should provide the same or comparable financial backing to those scientists who do not accept the global warming alarmism.

I really do see environmentalism as a threat to our freedom and prosperity. I see it as “the world key current challenge.”

Václav Klaus, Ambrosetti Forum,Villa d’Este, Italy.

24.9.2007 – Notes for the speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the UN Climate Change Conference called for by the UNSG Ban Ki-moon ahead of the UNGA General Debate That Started The Following Day.

Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Responsible politicians know that they have to act when it is necessary. They know that their duty is to initiate public policy responses to issues that could pose a threat to the people of their countries. And they know that they have to form partnerships with colleagues from other countries when a problem cannot be confined to national boundaries. To help doing it is one of the main reasons for the existence of institutions such as the United Nations.

However, the politicians have to ensure that the costs of public policies organized by them will not be bigger than the benefits achieved. They have to carefully consider and seriously analyze their projects and initiatives. They have to do it, even if it may be unpopular and if it means blowing against the wind of fashion and political correctness. I congratulate Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on organizing this conference and thank him for giving us an opportunity to address the important, but one-sidedly debated issue of climate changes. The consequences of acknowledging them as a real, big, imminent and man-made threat would be so enormous that we are obliged to think twice before making decisions. I am afraid it is not the case now.

Let me raise several points to bring the issue into its proper context:

1. Contrary to the artificially and unjustifiably created world-wide perception, the increase in global temperatures has been – in the last years, decades and centuries – very small in historical comparisons and practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings and their activities.

2. The hypothetical threat connected with future global warming depends exclusively upon very speculative forecasts, not upon undeniable past experience and its eventual trends and tendencies. These forecasts are based on relatively short time series of relevant variables and on forecasting models that have not been proved very reliable when attempting to explain past developments.

3. Contrary to many self-assured and self-serving proclamations, there is no scientific consensus about the causes of recent climate changes. An impartial observer must accept the fact that both sides of the dispute – the believers in man’s dominant role in recent climate changes, as well as the supporters of the hypothesis about their mostly natural origin – offer arguments strong enough to be listened to carefully by the non-scientific community. To prematurely proclaim the victory of one group over another would be a tragic mistake and I am afraid we are making it.

4. As a result of this scientific dispute, there are those who call for an imminent action and those who warn against it. Rational behavior depends – as always – on the size and probability of the risk and on the magnitude of the costs of its avoidance. As a responsible politician, as an economist, as an author of a book about the economics of climate change, with all available data and arguments in mind, I have to conclude that the risk is too small, the costs of eliminating it too high and the application of a fundamentalistically interpreted “precautionary principle” a wrong strategy.

5. The politicians – and I am not among them – who believe in the existence of a significant global warming and especially those who believe in its anthropogenic origin remain divided: some of them are in favor of mitigation, which means of controlling global climate changes (and are ready to put enormous amounts of resources into it), while others rely on adaptation to it, on modernization and technical progress, and especially on favorable impact of the future increase in wealth and welfare (and prefer spending public money there). The second option is less ambitious and promises much more than the first one.

6. The whole problem does not only have its time dimension, but a more than important spatial (or regional) aspect as well. This is highly relevant especially here, in the UN. Different levels of development, income and wealth in different places of the world make world-wide, overall, universal solutions costly, unfair and to a great extent discriminatory. The already developed countries do not have the right to impose any additional burden on the less developed countries. Dictating ambitious and for them entirely inappropriate environmental standards is wrong and should be excluded from the menu of recommended policy measures.

My recommendations are as follows:

1. The UN should organize two parallel IPCCs and publish two competing reports. To get rid of the one-sided monopoly is a sine qua non for an efficient and rational debate. Providing the same or comparable financial backing to both groups of scientists is a necessary starting point.

2. The countries should listen to one another, learn from mistakes and successes of others, but any country should be left alone to prepare its own plan to tackle this problem and decide what priority to assign to it among its other competing goals.

We should trust in the rationality of man and in the outcome of spontaneous evolution of human society, not in the virtues of political activism. Therefore, let’s vote for adaptation, not for the attempts to mastermind the global climate.

Václav Klaus, Climate Change Conference, United Nations, New York, September 24th, 2007

26.9.2007 – Statement by H.E. Mr. Václav KLAUS President of the Czech Republic at the General Debate of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election as President of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly. I also welcome the highly respected Secretary General at his first opening session of this Assembly.

I would like to start with saying that my country is proud to be one of the founding fathers of the United Nations in its current form. The Czech Republic, a successor state of Czechoslovakia, has been actively participating in all kinds of UN activities in the past and it will continue to do so in the future.

We take part not only in the work of the United Nations itself, but also of its specialized organizations and agencies such as UNESCO, UNDP, FAO, WHO, International Atomic Energy Agency, and many others. We have always supported any meaningful initiative, which leads to the increase of stability and prosperity of the world.

I am proud to confirm that the Czech Republic has the ambition to be elected to the Security Council as a non-permanent member in the period 2008-2009. I believe that we can be trusted by the majority of Member States and that we do deserve their votes.

We are convinced we have already demonstrated our devotion to freedom, democracy, international cooperation, economic development and respect for sovereignty of countries belonging to this community of nations. My country served in the Security Council in 1994 and 1995 when I was Prime Minister. We tried to do our best. We were predictable and committed to hard work. Now, as President of the Czech Republic I can assure you that we will do even a better job.

We have always recognized the principal responsibility of the UN Security Council for maintaining international peace and security. Since the 1990’s, the Czech Republic has contributed to more than 20 UN peace-keeping missions and UN mandated operations in the Balkans, Asia and Africa. We deeply believe in the prevention and non-violent resolution of disputes and conflicts. This can be proved by our own behavior – by the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992. Over the last years, we have multiplied our official development assistance.

In the last 18 years, the Czech Republic has been undergoing a radical and dynamic development which was made possible by the fall of communism and by our rapid departure from that oppressive, inhuman and inefficient political, social and economic system. Our profound transformation strategy – based on the acceptance of political pluralism, parliamentary democracy and market economy – was successful.

A further important impetus to our development was our approaching the European Union and the entry into it three years ago. Today, the Czech Republic is a full-fledged member of the Union and will hold the EU Presidency in the first half of 2009. It might be of interest to this forum that the slogan of the Czech Presidency is “Europe without barriers”. This means both internal and external barriers of the Union. I fully support this concept as I strongly believe in the need of removing barriers that hinder economic progress, especially of developing countries.

Mr. Chairman, we consider the United Nations to be an extremely important and in fact irreplaceable platform. There is no substitute for it in the current world. It is a platform for meetings and consultations, for dialogue and – eventually – for reaching agreements on treaties among nations sharing the same or similar values and political stances.

This unique platform is based on the plurality of views of 192 Member States and on our mutual respect towards their, sometimes differing positions. The ambition of the UN is not, and should never be, searching for one obligatory, unitary view imposed by some of us on those who disagree.

I did not use the term platform by chance and without any purpose. By saying that, I implicitly object to the alternative concept, to the concept of global governance which is based on the indefensible idea that the world can be “globally governed”, masterminded, controlled, managed and/or even planned. To aspire to do that is something we can never accept. It is an ambition based on the “abuse of reason” and on the “pretence of knowledge”. Democracy is something else.

There are some among us who prefer the operational efficiency (or the ability to act) of this organization to the recognition of the existence of different views. They want to make decisions in an easier and faster way. Our communist past tells us that we should not do that. We also want the UN to be reasonably operational. But we categorically oppose that it happens at the expense of individual Member States. And we have to respect views of individual countries regardless of their size. It is crucial that every Member State has equal status and that its voice is not ignored.

We have to go forward. The UN needs changes. We do support the UN reform because this organization should reflect the current situation in the world more than the situation of the era when the UN was founded. Some changes are inevitable and we should discuss them seriously.

To our great regret, we are – in the current world – witnessing many cases of the lack of freedom and democracy. Our task for the future is to minimize them. I do not see and hear the terms freedom and democracy here and elsewhere as much or as often as they deserve. We hear other words more frequently – aid, government initiatives and interventions, social justice, positive rights, environment, resources, climate, solving of problems, facing the threats, global challenges, etc.

Here we have to be very careful. We should support meaningful activities, not programs which in effect put constrains on local development. We should use natural resources efficiently and protect the environment but not in a way that restricts human activity and harms economic development. We would help global development more by reducing barriers than by providing more conditional aid. Reduction of protectionism and lowering of export subsidies is a far more efficient way for helping developing countries than anything else. We should not allow that developing countries are prevented from their own economic growth by additional burdens imposed upon them they will not be able to bear.

At the Conference on Climate Change the day before yesterday, I resolutely warned against the unjustified alarmism of global warming activists and their fellow-travelers in some governments and international organizations, but even this potential problem, as well as any other, can never be solved without relying on freedom, free markets, free trade and other attributes of free society.

To preserve environment is very important but we have to be more modest in our attempting to control the complexities of the world.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues, let’s use the potential of this organization as much as possible. Let’s cooperate, let’s listen to each other, let’s negotiate to the last possible moment, let’s try to understand the others. The Czech Republic tries to follow those rules.

Václav Klaus, UN, New York, September 26, 2007

28.9.2007 – at the Council for National Policy Conference, Salt Lake City.
“What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?”

Thank you very much for the invitation to this important gathering. Thank you for giving me a chance to address this very distinguished audience.

I have to start on a personal note. This is not my first visit of Salt Lake City. I spent here two hours in one beautiful spring morning in May, 1969. After studying during the spring term at Cornell University I boarded a Greyhound bus and spent 20 days traveling across the United States. I was here in jeans and with long hair. I had breakfast here somewhere, walked around, visited the temple and boarded the bus again with the next stop Reno.

I did not expect to come here again and especially in the position I hold now. It was in the dark communist days. It was at the end of the short but promising era of the Czechoslovak Prague Spring and it was my first and at the same time last visit to your beautiful country for the next 20 years. The collapse of communism in November 1989 changed everything. Freedom and democracy which followed as a result of our radical systemic change made us a totally different country, free and prosperous, member of the European Union and NATO, and a good friend and close ally of the United States of America.

I used the term “communism collapsed” not without purpose. I know that there are – both here and elsewhere – many people who claim that they defeated communism. As an integral part and active player of that process, I would dare to argue that communism melted down and would add that the meltdown was accelerated by the strong stances of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who refused to compromise with the Soviet Union. What helped us was their policies, not the soft, so called peace-policy of our West European neighbors.

I have had tens, if not hundreds of speeches in your country after that. At the beginning, my topics were communism and how to get rid of its legacy. The transition from communism to a free society is over, and not only in my country. One may have reservations about developments in some of the former communist countries but I strongly disagree with attempts to look at those countries with a misleading optics of fighting communism there now. To trivialize the multifaceted and multidimensional post-communist transition in such a way is a serious fallacy.

My second topic, if not obsession, used to be (and still is) Europe and the European Union, something not sufficiently understood here. After almost half a century of communism the Czech Republic wanted to be again a normal European country, which means – these days – to be a member of the European Union.

This is what we accepted and both our gradual approaching the EU during the first fifteen years after the fall of communism and our entry into it three years ago represented an integral part of our radical political, social and economic transformation. Nevertheless, our communist experience made us sensitive to all kinds, forms, manifestations and aspects of the suppression of freedom and democracy in the name of allegedly “higher” goals and due to it we find that the EU unification project itself – an almost holy and sacred goal which explains, justifies and excuses everything – not only a blessing. The currently politically correct approach, I call Europeism, does not see it and tries to create a brave new world without nations, without borders, without politics, without a “demos” (which means without authentic citizens) and – as a result of it – without democracy. I see it as a big problem.

Today, I intend to discuss another “high and holy” issue. I want to speak about supposed devastating climate changes, about consequences of global warming and about our responses and reactions to them. Some people try – consciously or subconsciously – caricature people like me and accuse those of us, who dare to speak about it differently than is now politically correct, of talking about things we do not understand and are not experts on. They are wrong. People like me do not try to enter the field of climatology, do not try to better measure global temperature, and do not try to suggest alternative scenarios of the future global climate fluctuations (based on different, but equally speculative and unreliable forecasting models). In my argumentation I don’t talk about climatology but about environmentalism, about an ideology which puts nature and environment and their supposed protection and preservation before and above freedom.

It may sound surprisingly but I have the feeling that I have not changed the subject of my talks in the last 18 years. Talking about communism, talking about Europeism and talking about environmentalism is more or less, structurally, similar if not identical. The issue is always freedom and its enemies. Those of us who feel very strongly about it can never accept

– the irrationality with which the current world has embraced the climate change (or global warming) as the main threat to the future of mankind, as well as

– the irrationality of proposed and partly already implemented public initiatives because they will fatally endanger our freedom and prosperity, the two goals we consider – I do believe – our priorities.

After spending the whole day at the UN Climate Change Conference on Monday and two following days at the General Assembly I know what I am talking about.

The problem is that we are confronted with many prejudices, misunderstandings and now already also vested interests. As I said, the climate change debate is basically not about science; it is about ideology. It is not about global temperature; it is about the concept of human society. It is not about scientific ecology; it is about environmentalism.

I would summarize my position on these issues in the following way:

1. Contrary to the currently prevailing views – promoted by global warming alarmists, Al Gore’s preaching, the IPCC, or the Stern Report – the increase in global temperatures in the last years, decades and centuries has been very small and because of its size practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings and their activities. (The today’s difference of temperature between Prague and Salt Lake City is almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much more than even Al Gore promises as regards the whole next century temperature increase.)

2. The available empirical evidence is not alarming. The arguments of global warming alarmists rely exclusively upon very speculative forecasts, not upon past experience. Their forecasts are based on experimental simulations of very large forecasting models that have not been found very reliable when explaining past developments.

3. The whole debate is, of course, not only about ideology. The problem has its important scientific aspect but it should be stressed that the scientific dispute about the causes of recent climate changes continues. The attempt to proclaim a scientific consensus on this issue is a tragic mistake, because there is none.

4. We are rational and responsible people and know that we have to act when necessary. But we should know that a rational response to any danger depends on the size and probability of the eventual risk and on the magnitude of the costs of its avoidance. As a responsible politician, as an academic economist, as an author of a book about the economics of climate change, I feel obliged to say that – based on our current knowledge – the risk is too small and the costs of eliminating it too high. The application of the so called “precautionary principle,” advocated by the environmentalists, is – conceptually – a wrong strategy.

5. The deindustrialization and similar restrictive policies will be of no help. Instead of blocking economic growth, the increase of wealth all over the world and fast technical progress – all connected with freedom and free markets – we should leave them to proceed unhampered. Economic growth, increase of wealth and technical progress represent the solution to the consequences of eventual climate changes, not their cause. We should promote adaptation, modernization, technical progress. We should trust in the rationality of free people.

6. This issue has a very important North-South and West-East dimension. The developed countries do not have the right to impose any additional burden on the less developed countries. Imposing overambitious and – for such countries – economically disastrous environmental standards on them is unfair and discriminatory.

No radical measures are necessary. Famous Czech writer of the early 20th century Jaroslav Ha?ek, whose book “The Good Soldier Schweik” is known world-wide, made a good point saying: “To chce klid”. The Americans would probably say “Take it easy” or “Let’s be cool” or “Calm down!”. What the world needs now is to remain “quite normal”. It requires, however, to get rid of the one-sided monopoly, both in the field of climatology and in the public debate. We have to listen to arguments. We have to forget the destructive, but currently so fashionable dictate (if not tyrany) of political correctness. We should provide the same or comparable financial backing to those scientists who do not accept the global warming alarmism.

When I spoke at the UN conference on climate change on Monday morning, I concluded my speech by saying: “We should trust in the rationality of man and in the outcome of spontaneous evolution of human society, not in the virtues of political activism. Therefore, let’s vote for adaptation, not for attempts to mastermind the global climate.” There is nothing to add to it. Especially to this audience.

Václav Klaus, Council for National Policy Conference, Salt Lake City, September 28, 2007

7.11.2007 – At the Chatham House, London . “The Other Side of Global Warming Alarmism.”

Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to address this distinguished audience. I would like to start by stressing how glad I am to be for the first time in the well-known Chatham House which has been the place of so many important talks and discussions in the whole 87 years of its existence.

My speeches here in London have been in the past years connected with two topics. The first one was the end of communism and our way of getting rid of its legacy. The second one was the European integration.

The transition from communism to a free society is over, and not only in my country. We may have reservations about developments in some of the former communist countries but I disagree with the attempts to look at those countries with a misleading optics of fighting communism there even now. It is a mistake and I am afraid a slightly snobbish position as well.

My second topic here used to be Europe and the European Union. Whereas the first issue is more or less closed because communism is over, the second issue is here with us. It has not faded away. On the contrary, with treaty after treaty, with summit after summit, the danger of creating a brave new world of a post-democratic European supranationalist entity is getting more and more acute.

After almost half a century of communism the Czech Republic had a strong desire to be a normal European country again. We understood and accepted that it requires – these days – to become a member of the European Union. Nevertheless, due to our experience with the suppression of freedom and democracy in the name of allegedly “higher” goals, we consider the current European unification project itself – again an almost holy and sacred goal which explains, justifies and excuses everything – not only a blessing.

The recent embracement of the so-called Reform Treaty, which is in all important aspects identical with the old Constitutional Treaty, is a defeat for all true European democrats and should be interpreted as such. The down-playing of its true essence is intellectually unacceptable and morally inexcusable.

Nevertheless, there is another threat on the horizon. I see this threat in environmentalism which is becoming a new dominant ideology, if not a religion. Its main weapon is raising the alarm and predicting the human life endangering climate change based on man-made global warming. The recent awarding of Nobel Prize to the main apostle of this hypothesis was the last straw because by this these ideas were elevated to the pedestal of “holy and sacred” uncriticisable truths.

It became politically correct to caricature us, who dare to speak about it, as those who are talking about things they do not understand and are not experts on. This criticism is inappropriate. People like me do not have ambitions to enter the field of climatology. They do not try to better measure global temperature or to present alternative scenarios of the future global climate fluctuations.

They need not do it because the climate change debate is basically not about science; it is about ideology. It is not about global temperature; it is about the concept of human society. It is not about scientific ecology; it is about environmentalism, which is a new anti-individualistic, pseudo-collectivistic ideology based on putting nature and environment and their supposed protection and preservation before and above freedom. That’s one of the reasons why my recently published book on this topic has a subtitle: “What is Endangered, Climate or Freedom?”.

When we look at it in a proper historical perspective, the issue is – once again – freedom and its enemies. Those of us who feel very strongly about it can never accept

– the irrationality with which the current world has embraced the climate change (or global warming) as a real danger to the future of mankind, as well as

– the irrationality of proposed and partly already implemented etatist and dirigistic measures because they will fatally endanger our freedom and prosperity, the two goals we consider – I do believe – our priorities.

My position can be summarized in the following way:

1. Contrary to the currently prevailing views – promoted by global warming alarmists, by Al Gore’s preaching, by the IPCC, or by the Stern Report – the increase in global temperatures in the last years, decades and centuries has been very small and because of its size practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings and their activities. For most of the Earth’s history (95% of it), the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. In addition to it, using history again, it has been proved that the consequences of modest warming have been mostly positive, not negative.

2. The arguments of global warming alarmists rely exclusively upon very speculative forecasts, not upon serious analysis and extrapolation of past trends or upon undeniable conclusions of natural sciences. The available empirical evidence is not alarming. The highly publicized forecasts made by some leading environmentalists are based on experimental simulations of very complicated forecasting models that have not been found very reliable when explaining past developments. They were mostly done by software engineers, not by scientists themselves.

3. The debate has its important scientific side connected with the dispute whether the current mild warming is man-made or natural. Let’s listen to the scientists but one thing is and becomes evident more and more: the scientific dispute about the causes of recent climate changes continues. The attempts to proclaim a scientific consensus are self-debilitating. There is none. More and more scientists, on the contrary, dare to speak out about it.

4. The issue has an important economic aspect which requires the application of a standard cost-benefit analysis. A rational response to any danger depends on the size and probability of the eventual risk and on the magnitude of the costs of its avoidance. I feel obliged to say that – based on my knowledge – I find the risk too small and the costs of eliminating it too high. The application of the so-called “precautionary principle,” advocated by the environmentalists, is – conceptually – a wrong strategy, because human civilization cannot exist in a regime of the precautionary principle.

5. The deindustrialization and similar restrictive policies will be of no help. Instead of blocking economic growth, the increase of wealth all over the world and fast technical progress – all connected with freedom and free markets – we should leave them to proceed unhampered. They represent the solution to any eventual climate changes, not their cause. We should trust in the rationality of men. We should never forget that the government failure is always much bigger than the market failure. We should not believe more in Al Gore than in the omnipotence of the Soviet or Czechoslovak central planners. Fifty- or hundred-year plans of the current environmentalists will not be any better than the five-year plans which liquidated the economic freedom (and the economic efficiency connected with it) in the centrally planned economies of the past.

6. The global warming issue has a very important North-South and West-East aspect as well. Environmental quality is a luxury good and demand for it increases with income and wealth. The developed countries had to go along the path of the environmental Kuznets curve in the past and do not have any right to prematurely impose their current overambitious environmental standards upon less developed countries, because that would lead to an economic disaster there.

The only conclusion is that no radical measures are necessary. Famous Czech writer of the early 20th century Jaroslav Ha?ek, whose book “The Good Soldier Schweik” is known world-wide, made a point with saying: “To chce klid”. The Englishmen would probably say “Take it easy”.

I lived most of my life in an oppressive and very unproductive political, economic and social system called communism. It was impossible to “take it easy”. Now I live in a system based on the ideology of Europeism which prefers supranational institutions with their post-democracy to the good old democratic institutions in a well-defined constitutional sovereign state. It is difficult to “take it easy” again. And we are moving – very rapidly – to the era of environmentalism in which environment (or perhaps the irrational claims of environmentalists) is placed ahead of men and their freedom. We can take the global climate changes easy, but the climate propaganda and new wave of dangerous indoctrination of the whole world not.

Václav Klaus, Chatham House, London, 7 November 2007

4.3.2008 – Notes for the speech at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 4, 2008 – that is the Heartland Institute’s New York event – the subject, the speech, and the timing that got us involved.

“From Climate Alarmism to Climate Realism.”

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like first of all to thank the organizers of this important conference for making it possible and also for inviting one politically incorrect politician from Central Europe to come and speak here. This meeting will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the moving away from the irrational climate alarmism to the much needed climate realism.

I know it is difficult to say anything interesting after two days of speeches and discussions here. If I am not wrong, I am the only speaker from a former communist country and I have to use this as a comparative – paradoxically – advantage.

Each one of us has his or her experiences, prejudices and preferences. The ones that I have are – quite inevitably – connected with the fact that I have spent most of my life under the communist regime. A week ago, I gave a speech at an official gathering at the Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia. One of the arguments of my speech there, quoted in all the leading newspapers in the country the next morning, went as follows: “Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical – the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality.” What I had in mind was, of course, environmentalism and its currently strongest version, climate alarmism.

This fear of mine is the driving force behind my active involvement in the Climate Change Debate and behind my being the only head of state who in September 2007 at the UN Climate Change Conference, only a few blocks away from here, openly and explicitly challenged the current global warming hysteria. My central argument was – in a condensed form – formulated in the subtitle of my recently published book devoted to this topic which asks: “What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?” My answer is clear and resolute: “it is our freedom.” I may also add “and our prosperity.”

What frustrates me is the feeling that everything has already been said and published, that all rational arguments have been used, yet it still does not help. Global warming alarmism is marching on. We have to therefore concentrate (here and elsewhere) not only on adding new arguments to the already existing ones, but also on the winning of additional supporters of our views. The insurmountable problem as I see it lies in the political populism of its exponents and in their unwillingness to listen to arguments. They – in spite of their public roles – maximize their own private utility function where utility is not any public good but their own private good – power, prestige, carrier, income, etc. It is difficult to motivate them differently. The only way out is to make the domain of their power over our lives much more limited. But this will be a different discussion.

We have to repeatedly deal with the simple questions that have been many times discussed here and elsewhere:

1) Is there a statistically significant global warming?

2) If so, is it man-made?

3) If we decide to stop it, is there anything a man can do about it?

4) Should an eventual moderate temperature increase bother us?

We have our answers to these questions and are fortunate to have many well-known and respected experts here who have made important contributions in answering them. Yet, I am not sure this is enough. People tend to blindly believe in the IPCC’s conclusions (especially in the easier to understand formulations presented in the “Summaries for Policymakers”) despite the fact that from the very beginning, the IPCC has been a political rather than a scientific undertaking.

Many politicians, media commentators, public intellectuals, bureaucrats in more and more influential international organizations not only accept them but use them without qualifications which exist even in the IPCC documents. There are sometimes unexpected and for me unexplainable believers in these views. Few days ago, I have come across a lecture given by a very respected German economist (H. W. Sinn, “Global Warming: The Neglected Supply Side, in: The EEAG Report, CESifo, Munich, 2008) who is in his other writings very critical of the German interventionist economic policies and etatist institutions. His acceptance of the “conventional IPCC wisdom” (perhaps unwisdom) is striking. His words:

– “the scientific evidence is overwhelming”;

– “the facts are undeniable”;

– “the temperature is extremely sensitive to even small variations in greenhouse gas concentration”;

– “if greenhouse gases were absent from the atmosphere, average temperature of the Earth’s surface would be -6 °C. With the greenhouse gases, the present average temperature is +15 °C. Therefore, the impact of CO2 is enormous”;

– he was even surprised that “in spite of all the measures taken, emissions have accelerated in recent years. This poses a puzzle for economic theory!” he said.

To make it less of a puzzle, let me make two brief comments.

As an economist, I have to start by stressing the obvious. Carbon dioxide emissions do not fall from heaven. Their volume (ECO2) is a function of GDP per capita (which means of the size of economic activity, SEA), of the number of people (POP) and of the emissions intensity (EI), which is the amount of CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP. This is usually expressed in a simple relationship which is, of course, a tautological identity:

ECO2= EI x SEA x POP

but with some assumption about causality it can be turned into a structural equation. What this relationship tells is simple: If we really want to decrease ECO2 (which most of us assembled here today probably do not consider necessary), we have to either stop the economic growth and thus block further rise in the standard of living, or stop the population growth, or make miracles with the emissions intensity.

I am afraid there are people who want to stop the economic growth, the rise in the standard of living (though not their own) and the ability of man to use the expanding wealth, science and technology for solving the actual pressing problems of mankind, especially of the developing countries. This ambition goes very much against the past human experience which has always been connected with a strong motivation to go ahead and to better human conditions. There is no reason to make the, from above orchestrated, change just now – especially with arguments based on such an incomplete and faulty science as is demonstrated by the IPCC. Human wants are unlimited and should stay so. Asceticism is a respectable individual attitude but should not be forcefully imposed upon the rest of us.

I am also afraid that the same people, imprisoned in the Malthusian tenets and in their own megalomaniac ambitions, want to regulate and constrain the demographic development, which is something only the totalitarian regimes have until now dared to think about or experiment with. Without resisting it we would find ourselves on the slippery “road to serfdom.” The freedom to have children without regulation and control is one of the undisputable human rights and we have to say very loudly that we do respect it and will do so in the future as well.

There are people among the global warming alarmists who would protest against being included in any of these categories, but who do call for a radical decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. It can be achieved only by means of a radical decline in the emissions intensity. This is surprising because we probably believe in technical progress more than our opponents. We know, however, that such revolutions in economic efficiency (and emissions intensity is part of it) have never been realized in the past and will not happen in the future either. To expect anything like that is a non-serious speculation.

I recently looked at the European CO2 emissions data covering the period 1990-2005, which means the Kyoto Protocol era. My conclusion is that in spite of many opposite statements the very robust relationship between CO2 emissions and the rate of economic growth can’t be disputed, at least in a relevant and meaningful time horizon. You don’t need huge computer models to very easily distinguish three different types of countries in Europe:

– the EU less developed countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – which during this very period tried to catch up with the economic performance of the more developed EU countries. Their rapid economic growth led to the increase of their CO2 emissions in 15 years (in which they signed Kyoto) by 53%;

– the European post-communist countries which after the fall of communism went through a fundamental, voluntarily unorganizable transformation shake-out and an inevitable radical economic restructuring with the heavy industry disappearing (not stagnating or retreating) practically over night. Their GDP drastically declined. These countries decreased their CO2 emissions in the same period by 32%;

– the “normal” EU, slow-growing if not stagnating countries (excluding Germany where it’s difficult to eliminate the impact of the fact that the East German economy almost ceased to exist in that period) increased their CO2 emissions by 4%.

The huge differences in these three figures – +53%, -32% and +4% – are almost fascinating.

And yet, there is a dream among European politicians to reduce CO2 emissions for the entire EU by 30 per cent in the next 13 years (compared to the 1990 level). What does it mean? Do they assume that all countries would undergo a similar economic shock as was experienced by the Central and Eastern European countries after the fall of communism? Now in the whole of Europe? Do they assume that European economically weaker countries would stop their catching-up process? Or do they intend to organize a decrease in the number of people living in Europe? Or do they expect a miracle in the development of the emissions/GDP ratio, which would require a technological revolution of unheard-of proportions? With the help of a – from Brussels organized – scientific and technological revolution?

What I see in Europe (and in the U.S. and other countries as well) is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, of wishful thinking, of implicit believing in some form of Malthusianism, of cynical approach of those who themselves are sufficiently well-off, together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project.

This brings me to politics. As a politician who personally experienced communist central planning of all kinds of human activities, I feel obliged to bring back the already almost forgotten arguments used in the famous plan-versus-market debate in the 1930s in economic theory (between Mises and Hayek on the one side and Lange and Lerner on the other), the arguments we had been using for decades – till the moment of the fall of communism. Then they were quickly forgotten. The innocence with which climate alarmists and their fellow-travelers in politics and media now present and justify their ambitions to mastermind human society belongs to the same “fatal conceit.” To my great despair, this is not sufficiently challenged neither in the field of social sciences, nor in the field of climatology. Especially the social sciences are suspiciously silent.

The climate alarmists believe in their own omnipotency, in knowing better than millions of rationally behaving men and women what is right or wrong, in their own ability to assembly all relevant data into their Central Climate Change Regulatory Office (CCCRO) equipped with huge supercomputers, in the possibility to give adequate instructions to hundreds of millions of individuals and institutions and in the non-existence of an incentive problem (and the resulting compliance or non-compliance of those who are supposed to follow these instructions).

We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society. Now it concerns the whole mankind, not just the citizens of one particular country. To discuss this means to look at the canonically structured theoretical discussion about socialism (or communism) and to learn the uncompromising lesson from the inevitable collapse of communism 18 years ago. It is not about climatology. It is about freedom. This should be the main message of our conference.

Václav Klaus, Notes for the speech at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 4, 2008

www.klaus.cz

I went to the very early Heartland breakfast, and to a follow up interview with President Klaus, out of plain curiosity – will I understand the way the mind of this person, trained in economics, works. He came now to New York, and I was told that the timing of the conference was set in effect according to his schedule and not according to the present political season in the US. I also noted that he spoke in Salt Lake City – one of the hubs of the right wing movement that feeds the Heartland Institute – so I knew already that President Klaus is close to the American right.

The President said that the chairman of the Czech Green Party criticized him for his statement at the UN. It sounded like he was proud of having stuck it to his Greens. So be it. But then he reminded me of those Jews in the Spain of the Inquisition who switched to Christianity and became among the most cruel Inquisitors.

It seems that having lived under the communist system he learned values of liberty, capitalism, and free enterprise, to the point that he demands for the industry the liberty to pollute and for the industry the freedom to go on unregulated.

He is thus a perfect fit to much of the US right, and a hero to the audience at Heartland. Having also started my life behind the Iron curtain, I wonder thus where Mr. Klaus lost his humanity when crossing abruptly from the communist world to the free world. Those that did it at lower pace probably had more time to adjust.

Saying that economic growth is “uber alles”strikes me rather as a communist/fascist idea and trying to work for a cleaner world is rather the real liberating and liberated way of the west. Now, what kind of an argument is it to look at the unregulated Europe and find its warts – the whole idea of the proponents of developing alternatives to the polluting economy is that this will allow for future growth, while sticking to the old ways will inhibit this growth.

Going clean is not only good for you, but actually makes you profit from this – he is an economist – why does he not take a class with the likes of Al Gore or Jim Hanson, Bob Watson or Amory Lovins. What did he come back with from his trip to Chatham House – did he just lecture there like at the UN, or he staid for the discussion too? At Heartland I took a photo of him picking up literature from co-minded folks – does he also listen to those that disagree with him, and are capable to discuss with him point-by-point?

Dr. Klaus thinks all the opponents are political populists – looking for power, prestige and income. He does not want “their power over our life!”

He hates the fact that people believe in the IPCC conclusions.

So – the impact of CO2 is enormous because it impacts the development of the developing countries.

He finds that the people that follow Malthusian tenets want to restrict us also demographically. To him the freedom to have children is an indisputable human right. No further thoughts are needed by him to look into population numbers.

On an industrial revolution he thinks of Brejnev – that is where his credo left him. irresponsibility, wishful thinking when believing in the ability of changing the nature of things – from personal experience he draws ideas from the market debates of the 1930’s. He wants to see more social sciences involved in these matters.

Those he calls “they” – believe in Central Regulatory Emissions’ Institutions with compliance and non-compliance – and you have to obey these institutions. We see the wheels in his mind turn faster and faster – one must escape this control.

So – listen you nincompoops – it is not about climatology – it is about freedom – this is here the main issue for those that lived in communist countries.

Others from communist countries who were mentioned among the Heartland speakers were Russians Yuri Israel and Andrei Illarionov – both known opponents of the concept of man induced climate change. We know both of them from years ago. Yuri Israel is a very good hydrologist who was head of the Soviet water institute, and later headed the Russian academician’s Moscow event to evaluate the idea if climate change is human caused. He Is a member of the IPCC; and Illarionov who was the economics holdout who advised Putin not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, was eventually overruled, and came nevertheless to lecture at the Washington Press Club saying that the KP is not good for Russia. We remember that meting as one of the strangest Russian shows we ever saw.

We managed to interview Dr. Klaus. His answers were as per above script, but when I asked him about the EU Presidency in 2009. He said that policy comes from the EU Parliament (did he mean the commission?), so it is not for him or for the Czech Republic to decide; also, in the Czech Republic decissions are taken by Parliament. What I liked here was that he did not remember who comes after the Czechs (that is Sweden) – so I can say that the EU Presidency is not yet on his front-burner. If that is the case, can we assume that the whole issue of climate change is really only sort of an ego-trip to the west? All what we can do is thus wait to see next year, but worry about Czechs.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 27th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:      beledeles at yahoo.com
Subject: Rush Limbaugh Wants to Know Why Women Don’t Like Him
Date: February 27, 2009
To:      pj at sustainabilitank.com

Recently, Rush Limbaugh said he’d convene a “summit” to determine why he’s not popular with the ladies. Rush, however, is a guy thing, and here’s why:

Everyone has known an older person who longs for simpler days when up was up and down was down, when life was slower and gentlemen wore hats and you would hold the door open for a lady and she wouldn’t think you were a chauvinist. It was a time when everyone understood who the bad guys were, and someone didn’t get it, well, they were the misfits.

They were the misfits and everybody knew it. It was a time when people obeyed the boss, and the boss was white.

The boss was white, and the boss was a man.  

You know that old saying, “You learn something new every day.” Well, there was a time, so the legend goes, that you didn’t have to learn something new every day. You could stick with what you had always known, the things you’ve known since you were a young white boy, and as such, it was understood that people like you, people who looked like you, were going to get the biggest piece of cake. That was your world, and that’s how it had always been.

And suddenly that saying, “You learn something new every day,” is everywhere you go.   Nowadays, you can’t count on anything. This Indonesian guy named Osama Hussein is President of the whole f**king United States. Not Vice President, but President. Suddenly, that pantsuit-wearing baby killer wife-of-a-cheat Hillary is Secretary of State. So you want to wake up in the morning and start the day by screaming “Stop. Just stop, right now.” There was a time that a white man of means could stand up and say “Shut the f*** up” and get some respect.

Not long ago, the men who did the work, the men who built this country, who drove the trucks and laid the pipes and built the cars and fixed the roads and fixed the toilets – we got respect. We didn’t have to wade through all this political correctness just to get what was ours without some pinhead whining about it.

And there was a time when you knew where the communists were. They were in Russia, not in the White House.

And you could count on the respectable people to ferret out the rest. Now you got socialists and communists running everything, telling us we have to spread the wealth, telling us that what is ours is not really ours. Who the f*** let them in, anyway?

The above rant is the product of a mind who cannot grasp that black-and-white, us-and-them viewpoints no longer work. The world of simple questions (“Are you for America or against it?” “Do you love free enterprise or hate it?”), has been replaced by shades of grey. Now you have to deal with people that say, “I love my country enough to criticize it, I love my country, but can’t support it when its wrong.” The Rush Limbaugh mind rejects these equivocations as signs of moral laxness. You either love America or you hate it.

The rush Limbaugh mind does not have to participate in the world of nuance, the world of qualified support, the Limbaugh mind despises the politics of “yes, but except….”, or anything that reeks of compromise. The rush Limbaugh mind lives in the bliss of absolute certitude. Certitude is a powerful anesthetic. Certitude provides almost a physical “high” because all of one’s energies can work towards pushing a cause, rather than having to rethink it, or having to pause long enough to consider you might be wrong about something. The Rush Limbaugh mind never has to stop to consider much of anything. The Rush Limbaugh mind can scream and yell and rant and swear at its enemies because it is very clear who the enemies are.

In Rush’s world, the enemies never “have a good point or two.” They are always wanna-be politically-correct socialist commie cowards with pussies for dicks. The Rush Limbaugh brain embraces a type of certitude that never lets any air in. It is a closed system. If you question one of the basic tenants, for example, thinking that in some cases, higher taxes might be needed, or that, in some cases, a Democrat might have a good idea, then according to the Rush Limbaugh mind, you are showing weakness. Self-questioning is not seen as a healthy way to check your facts, to improve and mature your viewpoint, but rather, as sign of a weak will, of being contaminated by the vacillation of little men. To the Rush Limbaugh brain, if you are a leader, then you never question.

———-

(As editor of www.SustainabiliTank.info I did not change even a coma in this article, all what I do is to break up paragraphs and use highlighting for emphasis. I hope that both – the author and Rush Limbaugh – who years ago ranted for a whole day against a letter of mine printed in the New York Times – dealing with ethanol as the octane enhacer of choice to gasoline – and on taxing the use of oil products – will find that our representation of their views is completely accurate.

My thanks to Barry Edeles for his contribution – Pincas Jawetz, editor SustainabiliTank.info)

The original article continues:

———

In the post-consumer age, which is where we are headed, hierarchical thinking is doomed. The mindset of “I am right and you are wrong, I am high and you are low,” is not compatible with the epoch we are entering. Our problems are universal, and not limited by boundaries. The crises we must solve are never again going to stay on one side of the tracks. Fortress America cannot hide from overproduction of manufactured goods, global warming and deforestation, a dwindling oil supply and overpopulation. Everyone will have to weigh in, everyone will have to participate, and everyone will have to feel vested in and be part of the solutions.   Leaders in today’s world must view themselves as the center of a web, like the hub of a bicycle wheel with spokes moving outward. This mindset is vastly different from the traditional hierarchical style of leadership. Hierarchical leadership, with power imposed from the top downward, is no longer a good model for solving the world’s problems. Rush Limbaugh’s thinking resembles the out-of-control male parent who comes home from work, says to the family “My word is law. If you don’t like it, then get the hell out.” The leadership we need today is more maternal, recognizing that what matters in family disputes is the outcome, what matters is that the next morning, people can still look each other in the eye and live peacefully under the same roof. To the maternal mind, “winning” a dispute is measured only by the degree to which family members are able to cooperate after the dispute is over. Such is the kind of leadership required for human survival in an age of dwindling resources, which is our future. Leadership Limbaugh-style is a vestige from a soon-to-be dead age, the age of consumption, and much like the early hominids you see on those ape-to-man evolutionary charts, as transitional as an ape with a spear.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

            see also:
(Stephen Wise Free Synagogue) SWFS WELCOMES JOSHUA NELSON, CISSY HOUSTON, AND RABBI CAPERS FUNNYE, JR.

This MLK DAY, SWFS has it all:   toe-tapping music, soul-stirring performers, and a special appearence by Rabbi Capers Funnye, Jr., Michelle Obama’s cousin and a prominent Chicago Rabbi.

————————–

MLK KOSHER GOSPEL EXTRAVAGANZA! 1/19/09

@ 6:30pm,   the Stephen Wise Synagogue, 30 West 68 Street, New York City.

from:
Monica Wiggan

Shalom to all:

For all who’s interested in attending, see flyer below!   Peace & Blessings!

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Capers Funnye <ravfunnye@sbcglobal.net>
To: Israelite Board of <nybor@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Friday, January 9, 2009 4:21:48 PM

Shabbat Shalom Rabbonim,

I will be in New York at the Stephen Wise Synagogue for this program, on 1/19/09. I hope some of you can be there.

L’Shalom
Rabbi Capers Shmuel Funnye

— On Fri, 1/9/09, Daniel Singer <dsinger@swfs. org> wrote:
From: Daniel Singer <dsinger@swfs. org>
To: “‘ravfunnye@ sbcglobal. net'” <ravfunnye@sbcglobal .net>

Rabbi Funnye,

See our publicity below and feel free to forward on to your congregation and other contacts.   We are very much looking forward to having you with us!   Please forward to me the contact information for anyone you would like to have me invite on your behalf in the New York area.   Despite limited resources, we are trying to do our best to reach out to everyone – Jewish and Christian communities of every race.   Any one you would like to have with us is very warmly invited.

best,

Cantor Singer

From: info@SWFS [executivedi  rector at swfs.ccsend.com] On Behalf Of info@SWFS

101.jpg

Wherever I am invited to speak, in the Black Christian community… the Jewish community… I believe that the message that everyone has has some aspects of truth and righteousness and nobody has it all…if they are pursuers of justice, then we need to seek ways to work with them.

–Rabbi Capers Funnye, Jr., featured MLK Day Speaker

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A Pre-Inaugural Sunday, 10 AM Programs, on US TV:


THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ABC) had on the President-elect Barack Obama to discuss the issues he will face during his first 100 days in office.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY WITH CHRIS WALACE announced president George W. Bush and former president George H.W. Bush, about their experiences as president and the current president’s legacy. That is two for the price of one.

We dread to find out the TV ratings on these programs as we feel that everyone is more interested in the future, in these days of of the US having brought most of the world down with the policies of this last President, rather then a sweet overview tour with the President and his father.

While ABC has now established itself as the network to cover the incoming Administration, Fox has opted to stick with its connection to the outgoing conservative minority, and hope the for eventual changes in the years to come.

——————–

Barack Hussein Obama opened by stating that the US has lost 2.6 million jobs in 2008, over 500,000 in December alone, and the underemployment rate is extremely high (later Warren Buffett put the total figure at 11.1 million people. We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression – Obama said.
He stated that his intent is to double alternative energy production and we will make homes more energy efficient. And there will be a class-room for every child, and an improved health care system.

We will do this as much as roads and bridges, the question comes – do tax cuts also help? They do, though less then direct stimulus. We look at acceleration of depreciation – those are short term measures. But we must move quickly – not just short-term. We must help on structural improvements. We welcome input of good ideas, but not pet projects.

The country’s mayors proposed projects and we have to evaluate them if they provide long-term help. We prefer energy improvement in housing, health care, energy education, but not a Christmas tree!

We are losing half a million jobs per month so we cannot wait another 5-6 months before we move.

We must keep the financial systems stable – and the credit system – this is crucial. I, like many, am disappointed that there was not oversight on the money approved in the last few months. I have asked my team to come up with how we will maintain transparency so we can regain the confidence of Congress and the American people.

GS: Which of your campaign promises will have to give in?

A.       We inherit a trillion dollars deficit and we will have to start bending the curve.

GS: You will get a 1.2 – 1.3 trillion deficit whatever you do.

A.       We will have to eliminate programs that do not work. There is a current health care program that costs $200 Billion and produces no results. (this is the program D that the Bush Administration introduced.)

GS: Tax reform, health care reform etc… when will you do?

A.       That is exactly – we will have to look at the structural deficit …

* * *

GS: On Israel & the Palestinians?

A.       The basic principle of any country is to protect its people, but we cannot have two Administrations talk on this. I am putting together the best team that will engage immediately with all the actors in the area. I am determined to break the deadlock. If you look not only under the Bush Administration, but also under the Clinton Administration, and you see the principles under which it has to be handled. A third party must be involved and I hope an Obama Administration will do it.

* * *

GS: On Iran?

A.       This will be one of our biggest challenges. They can trigger an arms race. We must send a signal that we respect the Iranian people, but expect them to obey to international norm.

* * *

GS: Homeland Security i.e. the Mumbai attack. This could happen in any US city.

A.       the Every day when I awake in the morning the priority is how do we keep the American people safe. We will be vigilant. Not just suicide bombings, but commando attacks even. There will be Mumbai copy cats. We will have to intercept and worry about Al Qaeda.

GS: Are we safer?

A.       I trust we have made progress, but the dangers are because we do not talk of conventional armies. With todays arms, a small number of people can do major harm.

GS:   Based on Cheney’s advice, what is your answer?

A.       We should not make judgement on the base of incomplete information. VP Cheney continues to defend extraordinary measures like torture – and we will not! My view is that US military under fire is that rule of law is the base for our safety.

GS:   Guantanamo?

A.         It is more difficult then people realize. We must balance properly the Anglo-American legal system with the danger and it will take some time. We will close Guantanamo and we will make sure that we do this   part of our broader security concerns. At the CIA there are extraordinarily talented people that do a good job and I do not want them to feel that we look over their shoulder.

Eric Holder is the people’s lawyer not to be pursued by my day to day policy. I am confident he will be confirmed.

* * *

GS: The Inaugural?

A.       Here is a genius – the Lincoln speech – so was the Sorensen – Kennedy speech – some addresses were less inspiring. I am influenced by these two and will try to focus in simple terms on the challenges and tell the American people that we will measure up to these challenges.

About Church going – we will want to make sure that we do not create too much of a challenge.

We are closing in on the dog choice and it is more difficult then finding a Commerce Secretary.

———————–

the ABC George Stephanopoulos Roundtable:

Peggy Noonan, Thomas Friedman, George Will, and Newt Gingrich.

NG:   if you are a small business, yo do not get bailed out by the government.

TF:     In the discussion the root of the crisis was lost. It started for the banks. We went for one extreme to the other. You are now declared bankrupt before you prove it otherwise. There is no money that flows to the small businesses.

GW: He was very shrewd. The tax cuts idea makes it hard for conservatives to reject him.

NG: $200 Billion tax cuts must be taken serious. But speaking to mayors not to do the things they want, is tough.

TF:   Israel and Hamas – both reject the peace plan. The conflict is worse then at any time in my professional life. The Hamas has now home-made rockets that can close the airport any day.

PG: Diplomacy is an open area that Obama can come in and jump-start anew. Obama is buying into a very low market here.

GS: Does Iran make a difference to Iraq and Israel?

GW: The existence of Israel is objectionable to some people.

NG: Iran wants to eliminate Israel and Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Now let’s have a discussion. They forfeited the right to negotiate. Hamas says every morning – we exist to eliminate Israel and we drag it out by calling for a
ceasefire that brings in more weapons.

TF: We do have to avoid the choice of Israel ruling the West Bank.

GS: Will closing of Guantanamo call for the investigation of the Bush Administration?

GW: George W. Bush wants to close it but it is not easy. Who will take the people?

NG: On Mexico – the illegal narcotics teams are at war with the government.

TF: There are terrible hands-off that Bush leaves to Obama. The fact is that the Asian people will watch how Obama will handle this.

PG: I would like to be Shakespeare and write this as a play. He will try to write a speech that is clear and direct and short.

GW: Understatements will be in place.

TF: This is a radical moment.

NG: He will have to show the American people in the inaugural address the way to the future.

================

When this was over we turned to the Fox channel in time to see the two Bushes and Mr. Chris Wallace stand in front of a writing desk. GW Bush was speaking on the strain of Democracy. I wondered if the whole program was done with them standing up. Then I realized that the section was filmed right in front of the President’s desk in the White House. It ended and the advertisement that followed was from “Just for Men” – the lotion for graying hair. The picture of the three standing there and that advertisement, amounted to a surreal image.

=================

on LATE EDITION CNN – THE FIRST HOUR (11-12pm), Wolf Blitzer picked up some of the above, but his interview was with VP Richard Cheney and asked him “What goes on?”

The answer was that we are in the middle of a recession. Cheney said he is not an economist and lauded the President’s TARP program of $700 Billion. He thought that having committed half of the amount he saw already positive results. He believes this is a World Crisis – not a US crisis.

WB: When you took office – you inherited the office – you had a $2 Trillion surplus, now you leave a 1.3 Trillion deficit?

A.         We had to pay for Afghanistan, Iraq, it was necessary. We put in place policies for everyone who paid taxes, but some financial institutions – Fanny May, Fredy Mac – collapsed and people from all over the World had invested in them.

WB:   Was the Bush Administration complicit? Did you go too far by allowing this unregulated industry?

A.           I remember having discussed this with Allen Greenspan when he was still in charge at the Federal Reserve, but I am not an economist.

WB:   This is the worst economic situation since the Great Depression?

A.         I can not say that. I do not think so. I remember …. difficult times … the worst since WWII … I can not say that …

Wolf Blitzer announced that further on they also talked about why Osama Bin Laden was not captured and about the historic election of Barack Obama, but I did not watch those parts.

* * *

Wolf Blitzer also had Nancy Pelosi on his program and she said we cannot afford Iraq anymore – that is in financial terms.

Further, we will have to correct the tax cuts that the Bush Administration dished out, and we will give tax cuts to the middle class. We want fairness in our tax policy. Our priority is to turn the economy around – have tax cuts for 95% of the people,   and to be able to do that we will have to ask those in highest income brackets to pay up.

Nothing brings more money to the treasury then investment in education, she said.

* * *

Campbell Brown of CNN said that sooner then later – at the time of the inaugural speech – the very popular incoming president will ask for our sacrifices in order to move forward his plans.

=================

At 1 pm, on CNN FAREED ZAKARIA’s GPS program dealt again, the second week in a row, with the situation in the Middle East. He started by saying that Barak Obama is right in staying out of Gaza at this time.

His panel included: Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Activist living in Ramallah, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, Martin Indik, a former US Ambassador to Israel, Stephen Walt – author of a book on the Israel Lobby, and Gilles Kepel from the Institute of Political Studies, Paris, who speaks on “Inside Al Qaeda.”

Question to HA: Do you think that the attack on Hamas has strengthened the Palestinian moderates?

A. it is actually working the other way – it inflamed the public opinion and weakened the moderates. Israel is punishing a captive civilian population.

BS:   (a) the conflict has become religious
(b) the influence of Iran, and this war with Hamas is a proxy of Iran, this is why Israel must reach a successful conclusion.

MI:   It is important to get a ceasefire in place because of the reality that moderates were weakened. The problem is the smuggling of weapons across the Egyptian border.
Hamas is a Sunni Islamic Organization that has become dependent on Iran.
Iran might not have triggered this but is a beneficiary of this. Iran is concerned that BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA (the stress on the middle name) will take out part of the wind from under Iran.

SW: The paradox is that the US policy made this worse. Yes, there should be a US involvement, but of the right kind – to lead to a two-states solution.

HA: The Palestinians have adopted since 1988 a Two-States Solution.

BS:   That is not the case – The Palestinians voted for Hamas that rejects the right of Israel to exist. WE LOOK NOW AT A 3 STATES SOLUTION – that is also untenable.

Fareed Zakaria: We turned away from the democratic elections.

MI:   It was wrong to push for the Us – these elections. but the military putsch took Gaza. There is a need to reintroduce the Palestinian Authority.

Fareed Zakaria: What about the Israeli electoral politics?

MI: Barak was reluctant to enter the fight, he cannot go into elections with the army in the quagmire, so he is fully intended to avoid staying in there.

* * *

Fareed Zakaria question to Stephen Walt: What about the French-Egyptian ceasefire?

A. The PA has no interest to be seen as complying with the US.

FZ: Do you think that Israel is interested in keeping away from a solution?

A.   The problem is Hamas prestige. Israel wants to come out as demonstratively having humiliated Hamas – so it does not look like the result with Hezbollah.

* * *

Fareed Zakaria question to Hanan Ashrawi: What do you want for Israel?

HA:   An immediate cessation of violence.

* * *


Fareed Zakaria question to Gilles Kepel:   What did Zawahiri think by saying Obama is an Uncle Tom?

A.   The idea is to have a device against the US rebuilding its influence in the region. The language implies a serf – in Egypt they used to have blacks as waiters in the household.
            Al qaeda thought Iraq will be another Afghanistan, but Al Qaeda failed.

            The Petraeus concept with Saudi help, brought Sunni tribes into the US sphere. in Afghanistan things misfired because of the opium – growing onions does not provide the farmers the income that opium gives them.

              The way out is an astute offer to negotiate with Iran.

=====================

Last Items we watched on CNN was a program with Warren Buffett who described the dire situation of the US economy in terms of “Thriftville” vs. Squanderville.”
According to him, and he is an adviser to Obama, the economy is already beyond repair because of the enormous foreign debt already on the books. He calculated this debt, including Social Security, Medicare A + B + D, and the $11 Trillion we know about, as totaling already $32 Trillion, with another $1 Trillion marked as Other – for grand total of $33 Trillion and this is already inconceivable – so what is an Obama Administration to do after getting in its hands this huge rotten apple?

On the other hand, Samuel J. Palisano, the CEO of IBM, a company with headquarters in the US but only with 35% of its business in the US, he is doing very well – thank you. Fareed Zakaria speaks to him full with admiration, and asks him if he considered the question: “HOW DO I CREATE A SMART GOVERNMENT?” He was not shy in his answer – it was that foreign governments, in developing countries, not just the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India,China, South Africa), but in 20-30 of them, study the US and decide not to repeat mistakes but to “Leapfrog.”

Q, Is there a tension between your company and the interests of US citizens?

A: Our view of the world is not outsourcing – we are in Brazil for 99 years, we operate in India already for 50 years. We have a multi-cultural, multi-gender policy. Our most important manufacturing and research is in the US – so working overseas helps the US. We pay taxes here, our headquarters are here, but we pay also taxes all over we do business.

I took his answer as meaning that to play it safe it makes sense to have a foot overseas – and you know what – you eventually move slowly more and more of your body to where the opportunities seem better – for IBM this is by now 65%

But this is not all. Why can the BRICS leapfrog and not the US? This is one for Obama and our favorite topic is obviously alternate energy systems to replace the stinking fossil fuels of the past. Why can Brazil do it but a US under the proto-presidency of Dick Cheney had to stay chained to imported oil?

Then, Cheney was a wise man, his Haliburton stepped also slowly across borders and now has its headquarters in Dubai. Would this be the retirement place of choice for the Cheney family? Could this be in the cards?

Warren Buffett was talking about PSEUDO TRADE when you buy but do not sell. He also pointed out that it took 244 years and 0ver 40 Presidents for the the first Trillion dollars US   debt, while it took just 6 years for this President to achieve this.He also showed President GW Bush as saying himself that he got an A in providing tax cuts but had a D in econ 101. That was amazing too.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

I am posting this while at the Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification Meeting at the Ben Gurion University of The Negev, in Sede Boqer, Israel.
The place is packed with del.egates and scientists from all over the world – including some Arab countries with whom Irael does not have official relations. This is proof that the environment and questions about climate change are indeed a way that brings people together – even if they actually do not exactly like each other. This is a comment when considering the Bush Administration’s stuborness in the ways it pushed for the forced continuation of the addiction to oil.
All right, it will not be a Kyoto II – but what will it be? ( am sure that in a short while there will be an American solution as example to the world. The new America will be green!
Now, becoming green is not easy. In the two days in Israel I already learned that there will be three Green parties competing in the Israeli parliamentary elections February 2009. Two of these parties are led by serious people – will they be able to see eye-to -eye? Will they be able to unite in their common interest and overcome personal animosities?
Let me suggest that keeping an eye on changes in the US may bring them also to their senses. In Israel, with a proportional parliamentary system – 3-4 Members of the Knesset could help formulate change, while two parties, none of whom reaches the needed minimum to enter Parliament – would not.
From, Israel to Washington, and specifically to the washington post editorial that points at the Obama dilemma with the is – but Obama may indeed come up with things that this editorial does not touch upon. Judging from the people he brings to the Administration – specifically Professor Steven Chou – I would say: Surprise – the solution may yet be none of the bellow.
—————————————-
Washington Post –
ph2005032604413.jpg

Climate Change Lessons

It’s not easy going green.

Sunday, December 14, 2008; Page B06

PRESIDENT-ELECT Barack Obama is committed to ending the United States’ inaction on global warming. He wants to reduce emissions through a cap-and-trade system. But a report from the Government Accountability Office on problems with Europe’s system and the inability of climate talks in Poland last week to settle on a specific number for the “long-term global goal for emissions reductions” shows how difficult the task will be.

Mr. Obama wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. He would accomplish this by auctioning all of the emission allowances that would be available through a cap-and-trade system that would put an annual declining cap on the number of pollution permits. The European Union created its own cap-and-trade system in response to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. But European experience shows that this complicated regime is no guarantee of success. The GAO report confirms that the European Union erred in its calculation of emissions and then compounded the error by giving away all of the pollution permits. The results were higher energy prices for customers and windfall profits for utilities.The United States didn’t sign Kyoto and has been roundly — and rightly — criticized for resisting efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and thwarting attempts to establish a long-term goal with specific targets. The Europeans have been the chief critics, but they’ve had a hard time living up to their self-righteous railings against the United States. They haven’t been terribly successful at meeting their own targets. At meetings in Brussels last week, a move to auction all emissions permits starting in 2013 was resisted by Poland and other Eastern European countries worried about the impact on their industries. So a two-tiered system was created. For Eastern European utilities, there would be an auction of 30 percent of emissions allowances in 2013, going to 100 percent by 2020. The rest of the E.U. power companies would have to buy all of their pollution permits in 2013. Meanwhile, the just-concluded U.N. gathering in Poznan, Poland, failed to quantify the goal that would be the foundation for Kyoto II, which is slated to be signed next December.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen dependence on fossil fuels, there must be a price on carbon. A cap-and-trade system is the easiest way to integrate into an international regime, but its pitfalls are legion. A gas tax would be simpler and less subject to bureaucratic manipulation and undermining by lobbying interests. It would be the easiest way to change behavior, meet emissions targets and spark the innovation that will produce the next generation of energy production that will save the planet. We hope that Mr. Obama will give this approach serious consideration as he takes up the mantle of leadership on global warming that President Bush

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Sorry, Obamas, Early Check-In Isn’t Available” reports Helene Cooper from Washington after checking out an obvious Bush new faux pas. The Obamas continue to be generous when it comes to the transition.
This from the New York Times blog, December 14, 2008.
13move_span.jpg

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Blair House, the official guest residence for the White House, will not be available for an early check-in by the Obama family.

President Bush‘s aides have turned down a request from President-elect Barack Obama to move from Chicago into Blair House, the official guest residence across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, in time for Mr. Obama’s daughters to start school in Washington on Jan. 5.

The Obamas were told that they could move into Blair House on Jan. 15, but no earlier, because it is booked, an Obama transition official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We explored the idea so that the girls could start school on schedule,” the official said. “But there were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn’t be displaced.”

White House officials declined to disclose specifically who is using Blair House during that period, for what purpose or how they could take precedence over the president-elect of the United States when it came to government housing; one White House official would say only that it had been booked for “receptions and gatherings” by members of the departing Bush administration. Those receptions, the official said, “don’t make it suitable for full-time occupancy by the Obamas yet.”

So the Obamas are now looking for an alternative place to stay for a few weeks, though they presumably are not searching Craigslist for a sublet.

Obama transition officials, who have been trying hard to highlight how well the Bush and the Obama families have been getting along, were quick to say that they were not angry about being turned away. “The White House has been extremely accommodating to the Obama family needs — and the entire process has been smooth and friendly,” a transition official said.

White House officials said the protocol was that Blair House is available to presidents-elect starting Jan. 15, five days before the inauguration.

“You’re trying to make a story out of something that’s not a story,” said Sally McDonough, spokeswoman for the first lady, Laura Bush. “It’s not a question of outranking the Obamas. Blair House will be available to them on Jan. 15.”

But the issue goes beyond pique; as president-elect, Mr. Obama receives a level of Secret Service protection that is almost equal to that of a sitting president. Several blocks around his house in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago have been cordoned off with concrete barriers and round-the-clock police protection. Area residents often have to show identification to go home.

Blair House is already inside the White House security cordon, one administration official said. It is often used to house visiting foreign dignitaries who require a high degree of security; Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel has stayed there, as has former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Blair House is also often used for parties and receptions — it was the site of the going-away parties for the former White House aides Harriet E. Miers and Dan Bartlett, officials said.

The Obamas are considering other housing options so that their daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, can start school at Sidwell Friends in Washington on time after the holiday break, aides said.

While a senator, Mr. Obama commuted to Washington from Chicago and stayed in a small rental apartment that aides said was not suitable for a family of four and the dozens of Secret Service agents who accompany the president-elect.

Dana M. Perino, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama and his family would receive proper Secret Service protection.

“No matter where the president-elect goes,” Ms. Perino said, “the Secret Service will make sure they are safe.”

Helene Cooper reported from Chicago, and Rachel L. Swarns from Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Schwarzenegger tells U.N.: Green rules help markets.

Tue Dec 9, 2008, Reuters from Poznan.

r.jpeg

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) – Green regulations will help both the environment and ailing economies, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a 187-nation U.N. climate conference on Monday.

“Of course, there are some people who say that we can’t afford the fight against global warming while our economies are down,” he said in a video message on the sidelines of the December 1-12 U.N. meeting in Poznan, western Poland.

“But the exact opposite is true,” he said.

California, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy on its own, has been leading other U.S. states in the fight against climate change.

“The green rules and regulations that will help save our planet will also revive our economies,” the governor aid.

The Poznan talks are reviewing progress toward a new global pact to fight climate change meant to be agreed at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen. The talks have been overshadowed by the global financial crisis.

Schwarzenegger also said he would attend the Copenhagen talks to support U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

The Poznan talks are a step on the way to agree a new worldwide climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it runs out in 2012. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Kyoto treaty.

President George W. Bush said Kyoto was unfair because it did not set caps on emissions by emerging nations like China and India and he reckoned it would be too costly for the U.S..

Obama has promised much tougher action on fighting climate change and intends for the U.S. to be more involved in environmental efforts when he takes over the presidency in January.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Obama says climate change a matter of urgency
09 Dec 2008 22:18:20 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds background paragraph)

By Steve Holland

CHICAGO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama said on Tuesday attacking global climate change is a “matter of urgency” that will create jobs as he got advice from Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the issue.

In remarks to reporters, Obama made clear he would adopt an aggressive approach to global warming when he takes over the White House on Jan. 20.

He and Vice President-elect Joe Biden met for nearly two hours with former Vice President Gore at Obama’s presidential transition office in Chicago.

“All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over, the time for denial is over,” Obama said.

Obama hopes addressing climate change can create the kind of jobs that will help pull the U.S. economy out of a deepening recession. He has begun to lay out plans for a massive recovery program to help stimulate the U.S. economy and create about 2.5 million jobs.

He said he would work with Democrats and Republicans, businesses, consumers and others with a stake in the issue to try to reach a consensus on a bold, aggressive approach to tackling the problem.

“This is a matter of urgency and of national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That’s what I intend my administration to do,” Obama said.

Obama had a willing partner in Gore, who won a Nobel in 2007 for his years-long effort to educate people about the gradual warming of the planet and to argue against those scientists who believe a warming trend is a naturally occurring event.

There was no talk of offering Gore a job in the Obama administration. Gore has indicated he is not interested in a position of climate “czar” or any Cabinet post.

Just two days after Obama won the Nov. 4 election, Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection rolled out a media campaign to push for immediate investments in energy efficiency, renewable power generation like wind and solar technology and the creation of a unified national power grid.

Gore and his group are in line with most U.S. environmental groups, which believe the Obama administration has a chance to stem global warming.

Critics have accused the outgoing Bush administration of stalling on the issue, but the White House insists it is taking steps aimed at addressing the problem without damaging the U.S. economy.

“We have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country, in all 50 states, to re-power America, to redesign how we use energy, to think about how we are increasing efficiency, to make our economy stronger, make us more safe, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make us competitive for decades to come, even as we’re saving the planet,” Obama said.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles, editing by David Alexander and David Wiessler)

AlertNet news is provided by

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Nissan to skip Detroit, Chicago auto shows.
The Associated Press, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. Reported on Japan Times online.

Nissan Motor Co. said it is pulling out of the Detroit and Chicago auto shows, citing the tough economy and the lack of new vehicles to unveil.

“Based on the fact that we have no major new products to show at the 2009 Detroit and Chicago auto shows, as well as the current economic conditions which will impact the shows’ marketing effectiveness, we have decided to cancel our involvement and participation,” Japan’s third-biggest automaker said.

The announcement comes after Nissan made a splash last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where it unveiled the Cube, an updated 370Z roadster and a low-priced Versa. Its Infiniti luxury line unveiled its G37 convertible at the show.

Nissan is the latest and biggest automaker to withdraw from Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, scheduled to take place in January. Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Suzuki have all said they will not attend.

“I certainly respect Nissan and any of the other companies that have to make a decision — hopefully a short-term decision,” said Carl Galeana, cochair of the Detroit show. “It’s tough for everyone right now.”

Although relatively small in terms of consumer attendance, the Detroit show tends to get the most media exposure among the major U.S. auto shows, especially from foreign journalists. The 2008 show attracted about 700,000 attendees last January.

Chris Denove, vice president of J.D. Power & Associates, said Nissan had little reason to spend the money on an appearance in Detroit, given that it already made its big product announcements in Los Angeles.

“Detroit consumers tend to be domestic buyers who typically are connected to one of the Big Three,” Denove said. “Ergo, (there are) not a whole lot of actual customers to reach out to in Detroit (for Nissan), relative to the cost of the show.”

The L.A. Auto Show, which is open until Nov. 30, attracted almost 1 million attendees last year, a spokesman said. The New York Auto Show claims the largest attendance at about 1.2 million. The Chicago show, scheduled for February, does not report attendance figures but claims it is the largest show in terms of space, with 117,000 sq. meters.

Automakers have been cutting back on car shows as they seek to trim their budgets during the difficult economy. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC scaled back their presence at the L.A. show, where they unveiled no new cars and held no briefings.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Natives Hope Obama Will Be Their President, Too.

By Haider Rizvi from IPS

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (IPS) – During his election campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly said that he cared about the issues facing Native American communities and insisted that they could trust him — pledges that Native leaders are now watching closely as the president-elect appoints a new cabinet and fills other key federal posts.

So far, Obama has named six native political figures to his transition team — half of them assigned to assist in Interior Department policy, budget and personnel changes.

“We’re lucky to have such stellar representatives with people with whom Indian Country has really good relationships,” said Jacqueline Johnson-Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit organisation that represents more than 250 tribes.

Native advocates Mary Smith, Mary McNeil and Yvette Robideaux have been assigned to work on justice, agriculture and health issues, while three current and former attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund — John Echohawk, Keith Harper and Robert Anderson — will advise Obama on changes proposed within the Interior Department.

The Natives, also known as “American Indians”, have their own sovereign governments, which the United States recognises in accordance with its constitution and under treaty obligations. However, as the Native leaders observe, their communities have always suffered from inattention during the transition and early years of past U.S. administrations.

“If appointments and major policy decisions are delayed for extended periods, the long-term issues in Indian Country are left unaddressed and handed on to the next administration,” said Johnson-Pata. .

In her view, “any significant reform efforts must be planned during the transition and start at the beginning of an administration if they are to succeed.”

As he continued to reach out to new voting blocs past summer, Obama made a campaign stop at an Indian reservation in Montana, where he told the audience that, as an African-American, he identified with their struggles.

“I know what it’s like to not always have been respected or to have been ignored and I know what it’s like to struggle and that’s how I think many of you understand what’s happened here on the reservation,” Obama said.

In his speech, Obama added: “A lot of times you have been forgotten, just like African-Americans have been forgotten or other groups in this country have been forgotten.”

Statistics show that the indigenous communities, which constitute about one percent of the U.S. population, are among the most marginalised sections of society with regard to health care, education and employment.

In March 2006 and again in March 2008, a panel of U.N. experts analysed the U.S. government’s treatment of indigenous Americans and ruled that it was guilty of racial discrimination.

In its 2008 report, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also urged the U.S. to sign onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the current administration has continued to reject despite the fact it has been approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states.

Indigenous rights activists say they hope that the Obama administration would endorse the declaration, which recognised the rights of the indigenous peoples around the world to control their lands and resources and be able to freely practice their belief systems and traditional values without interference from outside forces.

During the Nov. 4 presidential election, a vast majority of Native people voted for Obama, according to Frank LaMere of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, who led the American Indian delegation to the Democratic Convention.

“Obama has stood with us and it is now time that we stand with him,” he said in a statement, describing the Natives’ interest in the political process as unprecedented. “Indian country has responded to the Democratic message of change and the need for urgency.”

“We have many who go without because our leaders have failed us. This election means much to them. Obama understands this while others remain oblivious. Let us, as Native people, help him.”

On the campaign trail in Montana, Obama was adopted as an honourary member of the Crow tribe, a ceremony that native activists say is reserved for special dignitaries. On that occasion, he was given a new name, “Barack Black Eagle”.

Many activists fighting for the rights of indigenous people say they are hoping that the Obama administration would also re-examine the case of Leonard Peltier, the legendary hero of the American Indian Movement who has been behind bars for nearly four decades.

Peltier was arrested after a shootout between American Indian militants and federal agents in Pine Ridge in 1975. Some 60 natives were killed along with two FBI agents. Peltier has consistently refused to claim his innocence and considers his imprisonment an act of racism.

Over the years, a number of world-renowned figures, including the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Peltier’s release, but in vain. According to Amnesty International, Peltier is a “prisoner of conscience”.

Just three months before the election, Peltier sent a letter to the president-elect from his jail cell, expressing his interest in Obama’s candidacy. “Your election as president of the United States, where slaves and Indians were long considered less than human under the law, will undoubtedly constitute a historic moment in race relations in the United States,” he wrote.

However, at the same time, he did not hesitate to warn Obama against opportunism. “Symbolism alone will not bring about change,” wrote Peltier. “Our young people, black and Native alike, suffer from police brutality and racial profiling.”

“I am, however, concerned that your recent statement on the Sean Bell verdict, in which the New York police officers who fired 50 shots at a young man on the eve of his wedding were acquitted of criminal charges, displays a rather myopic view of the law,” said Peltier.

On April 26, when asked to explain his views on the case, Obama said: “Well, look, obviously there was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.”

That is not how the hero of the indigenous peoples of the land looks at how the U.S. political and legal system works.

“Until the law is harnessed to protect the victims of state violence and racism, it will serve as an instrument of repression, just as the slave codes functioned to sustain and legitimise an inhuman institution,” Peltier wrote in the letter.

***

Still, Obama has reached out more to the Native community than most others with presidential aspirations.

“We will never be able to undo the wrongs that were committed against Native Americans, but what we can do is make sure that we have a president who’s committed to doing what’s right with Native Americans, being full partners, respecting, honouring, working with you,” Obama told the Native crowd back in May.

“That’s the commitment that I’m making to you, and since now I’m a member of the family, you know that I won’t break my commitment.” he said. The question many Natives are now asking is: Will he?  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 21st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Bailout or Bust: How to Save the Big Three From Themselves?

Opinion by: Titus Levi, Truthdig, Thursday, November 29, 2008.

CEO’s of the big three automakers were on Capital Hill Wednesday requesting a bailout. (Photo: Getty Images)
The American automobile industry occupies a near-mythic status in the nation’s cultural and economic imagination. President-elect Barack Obama echoes the sentiments of many when he says that Detroit is “the backbone of American manufacturing.” If it is-Detroit’s economic importance is great but now occupies a lesser role than it did before it entered a slow-but-steady decline in the 1970s-then it suffers from acute and advanced damage that will require major surgery. And like any major surgery, treating Detroit’s malaise will be a complicated affair with no assurance of success. However, doing nothing may be worse, especially for the state of Michigan.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures for September 2008, Michigan’s labor force was about 4.9 million, with about 4.5 million holding jobs. That’s a significant decline from September 2007, when the labor force numbered just over 5 million, with 4.6 million employed. The state lost roughly 149,000 jobs in the period and saw unemployment rise from 7.3 percent to 8.7 percent, which is 2.2 points higher than the national average. The rate would have been even higher if people hadn’t dropped out of the labor force altogether.

The Big Three trimmed thousands of jobs in the state during that period, which no doubt triggered additional job cuts among automotive subcontractors and suppliers, various retailers, and even homebuilders and home improvement firms. These job losses keep politicians, business leaders and citizens up late at night. As Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently quipped: “Forget ‘Drill, baby, drill.’ Here it’s ‘Jobs, baby, jobs.’ “

All told, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler employ somewhere around 500,000 people, many of them outside Michigan. However, these figures underestimate the total employment impact, since at least 3 million Americans rely on the U.S. auto industry for their jobs, with the highest concentration in and around Michigan. The Center for Automotive Research calculates much higher estimates: about 7 million jobs directly and indirectly tied to the industry, with 2.5 million hanging in the balance in the event of a 50 percent contraction in output from the Big Three.

This brings us to a simple cost-benefit analysis: $25 billion in loans for the industry that will save millions of jobs and about $150 billion in economic activity in 2009 alone. So it’s a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly.

There is no guarantee that throwing money at Detroit will save these companies and the network of jobs that they sustain. Even if the companies do survive, we can almost certainly anticipate steep job losses anyway. Job losses will be increased if GM and Chrysler’s parent company, Cerberus Capital Management merge. But will cutting jobs now spare jobs in the long run? That question dominates all others in the conversation.

Focusing on jobs moves us from an argument about nostalgia for American manufacturing prowess and bailouts of large, and largely incompetent, firms to the more meaningful conversation about livelihoods. Doing so takes us beyond purely economic analysis, since the value of a job exceeds its economic value to individuals, their families and their communities. Livelihood includes paying for basics like food and shelter, but also touches upon important, if hard to measure, assets like one’s sense of identity and the health of neighborhoods and towns.

Applying a cold, hard economic calculus would probably throw cold water on the idea of a bailout for Detroit. First, the companies may well be beyond hope. They have been slow to change, they repeat the same mistakes and they turn out products that too often do not compete successfully with imports. Quality, safety, durability and customer satisfaction numbers remain spotty. Moreover, the so-called “bridge” funding that Detroit hopes to receive may be a bridge to nowhere: It will take years to work off the debts that weigh down consumers and governments, which will constrain spending for several quarters if not years.

Once we emerge from this hole, Americans may renounce our spendthrift ways and that could leave the entire automobile market much smaller over time. In short, the demand side of the market may not rebound sufficiently to resuscitate Detroit. The supply side looks no better: Over time, Detroit will face tough competition on many fronts. Japanese, German, Korean-and it had to happen-Chinese and Indian automakers will battle American carmakers tooth-and-nail. Simply put, the amount of money that Detroit can earn over the next 10 years may not cover the “loans” they want from the Feds. Taxpayers will likely end up footing the bill.

But if Detroit doesn’t get an infusion of cash, then what? The companies could declare bankruptcy, but so far they have stubbornly refused to consider that possibility-with good reason. Market research shows that 80 percent of consumers will not buy cars from insolvent firms. Therefore, GM’s leadership equates bankruptcy with liquidation. However, this view may well be somewhat overwrought. Bankruptcy would likely allow some leaner, meaner and more durable versions of GM and/or Ford to survive. (Chrysler looks like a dead duck; the only reason GM has any interest in the firm is its $11 billion cash stash.) Overcapacity could be pared back more rapidly under the watchful eye of bankruptcy courts and the companies could shed various obligations. This bodes ill for livelihoods and communities and must be carefully managed to lessen the damage to both. However, while going the bankruptcy route may make short-term economic sense, it may be too high a price to pay in terms of the devastation it would inflict on jobs, families and communities.

So what to do? No shortage of ideas have floated through the media, the blogosphere (The Huffington Post has been especially active on the subject, including articles by Neil Young, GM family man Ricky van Veen, and Raymond J. Learsy), broadcasters’ letters’ sections, and probably over many a kitchen table conversation, including my own, where friends engaged in a spirited examination of Detroit’s tendency to confuse novelty-releasing “new models” each year-with genuine innovation.

First, let’s put together a careful cost-benefit analysis. To begin with, Detroit must open its books to thorough scrutiny, and that includes the tight-lipped Cerberus. As a taxpayer, I’m sick and tired of the leap-before-you-look approach to taking action. I’m equally exasperated with Detroit’s tired claims of “trust us, we’re professionals” in demonstrating genuine recalcitrance to changing its organizational culture.

Second, we need to produce a no-holds-barred assessment of the managerial dysfunction at these firms and come to terms with what needs to be done to improve performance and change organizational cultures for the better. Given the track record of these firms, and their reaction to the bad news that immediately had them pulling back on innovation and new product development, I’m not sanguine about the quality or nimbleness of the current leadership. They have to go as part of this process.

Third, jettison utterly hopeless brands and initiatives like Hummer while focusing on integrating innovative ideas into GM’s R&D, design and production systems.

Fourth, engage in a thoughtful analysis of what individuals, families and communities lose in an environment of sweeping job losses and what can be done to ease the pain. This is especially important in places like Michigan, which will suffer near-Great Depression levels of unemployment and disruption, at least in the short run.

Fifth, Detroit could become a public-private partnership built around encouraging innovative and viable ideas in transportation technology. This would allow the automakers to readily leverage the research going on in the U.S. on various fronts and to create systems for developing ideas into commercially viable packages and processes. Even if the Little Two lose some money, they will provide jobs and harness economic benefits that will accrue across the country and even the world.

Finally, if GM and Ford do go into bankruptcy, they probably need to be given some federal support in the form of debtor-in-financing, since financial markets will not back Detroit given the conditions of banks and the auto industry.

My instincts as an economist tell me to cut the Big Three loose, letting them go into bankruptcy so that “the market” can decide their fate, but my heart tells me that we must do something to assure that communities most dependent on the automotive industry and its jobs do not suffer as post-Katrina New Orleans-or pre-Katrina New Orleans-has. After all, that city suffered through a century of decline before its final humiliation and abandonment. Parts of Michigan have endured long-term decline as well, and this experiment in market adjustment has produced far too many losers to regard as anything like a successful treatment.

As a nation and as an economy, we probably can survive the loss of cities like Detroit and Flint, but letting that happen will likely bring on human losses that do not show up in economic statistics. As we decide the automobile industry’s fate, we need to consider something else in this process: What kind of lives will we consign the people of Michigan to living? What kind of people have we become when we plan for, and perhaps execute, the demise of whole cities and even states? How can we prevent genuine harm from coming about and begin the healing process for those who have been and will continue to be displaced by the shrinking of the U.S. automobile industry? How can we, to borrow a sentiment from Albert Camus, strive our utmost to be healers?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Why We Shouldn’t Bail Out GM.
By Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation. Posted November 20, 2008.

The bailout should be used to expand unemployment compensation instead of propping up a single, failing corporation.

Now it is the auto parts suppliers who want government money. They employ 600,000 people, more than work for the automobile companies themselves.

If the standard for giving out money to companies is the threat of lost jobs, the auto parts suppliers’ claim is as good as that of General Motors. The argument against subsidizing money-losing companies to preserve employment is that it would be impossible to think up a more expensive way of helping people.
There ought to be another way — and there is. Unemployment compensation should be expanded to ensure those losing their jobs will not lose their houses or their health insurance. Helping people on that scale will not be cheap, but helping them by propping up corporate losers is infinitely more costly: sooner or later people will find other employment, but the automobile companies will never turn a profit.

They have been steadily losing money for a generation. Their predicament has nothing to do with today’s credit crunch or the stock market crash. It has to do with their being incorrigible foul-ups.

Their record for money-losing is beyond comprehension. David Yermack, professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has calculated how much capital the car companies have destroyed over the last few decades.

He writes, “General Motors and Ford…between them…destroyed $110 billion in capital between 1980 and 1990…. GM has invested $310 billion in its business between 1998 and 2007. The total depreciation of GM’s physical plant during this period was $128 billion, meaning that a net $182 billion of society’s capital has been pumped into GM over the past decade — a waste of about $1.5 billion per month of national savings. The story at Ford has not been as adverse but is still disheartening, as Ford has invested $155 billion and consumed $8 billion net of depreciation since 1998. As a society, we have very little to show for this $465 billion.”

Having eaten its way through almost a half-trillion dollars, the American car industry will gulp down the $25 billion now proposed to save it faster than most of us can swallow. The Democratic leaders in Congress think they can prevent that and force a turnaround by attaching some kind of government oversight board to the financial aid. Such a board might make sure that executives do not draw down indefensibly high salaries, but any such arrangement will make it doubly certain the companies will not find their way back to prosperity.

Not that revivals are impossible. General Motors teetered on the edge of bankruptcy once before, in 1920. Then, as now, the cause was incompetent management. At that time one of GM’s biggest stockholders was the du Pont family, who realized that its investment was in danger of evaporating. To save its holdings the family put its most talented member, Pierre S. du Pont, on a train to Detroit.

Once settled in at GM, du Pont installed Alfred P. Sloan as its new president. Together these two business geniuses created the single greatest industrial organization of the last century. At its apogee under Sloan, General Motors became the model for creative and effective corporate management. Quite literally, the world had seen nothing like it.

This is the inheritance that the epigones running Detroit’s today have ruined. What they have done is a crime against their stockholders, employees of the Big Three, their customers and the nation.

Now we are amid these splendid corporate ruins. The best hope — and it is only a hope — is bankruptcy. With bankruptcy comes the chance of reorganization, the breaking of the anachronistic union contracts and the possibility of new and effective management. A modern version of du Pont and Sloan is asking too much, but surely somewhere in the three major car companies there are more effective and courageous executives than those now them.

The Republicans are against a bailout for the usual doctrinaire reasons — free market blah-blah, creeping (or galloping) socialism. Such meaningless abstractions aside, the reality is that a society pockmarked by large, losing, subsidized corporations is a society on the way to the poorhouse. By propping up GM and saving some jobs now, we will see many more lost just down the road.
$2 TRILLION HANDED OUT BY PAULSON AND BERNANKE, BUT WHO GOT IT, NOBODY KNOWS
By Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation
We have no idea who got this money or the conditions or
collateral put up in return for the loans.
 www.alternet.org/workplace/107340…

R.I.P.: THE FINANCIAL EXPERTS, 1929-2008
By Sasan Fayazmanesh, CounterPunch
What’s the likely fallout of our economic crisis? Nobody
knows for sure — but the economists won’t admit it.
 www.alternet.org/workplace/107194…

WALL STREET’S BAILOUT IS A TRILLION-DOLLAR CRIME SCENE — WHY AREN’T THE DEMS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
By Naomi Klein, The Nation
Washington’s handling of the bailout is not merely
incompetent. It may well be illegal.
 www.alternet.org/workplace/107000…

WHY THE ECONOMY GROWS LIKE CRAZY AMID HIGH TAXES
By Larry Beinhart, AlterNet
The raw truth is that the economy has grown faster when
taxes were higher, but how can we explain that phenomenon?
 www.alternet.org/workplace/106979…

HOW TO END OUR FINANCIAL MISERY
By Robert Pollin, The Nation
A large-scale stimulus program is the only action that can
possibly do the job.
 www.alternet.org/workplace/106821…

HOW OUR GUTLESS MEDIA HELPED TRIGGER THE CREDIT CRISIS
By Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review
Government and greedy bankers aren’t the only ones to blame.

 www.alternet.org/mediaculture/102…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Leading article (Editorial) of The Independent of London: The US car industry is stalled on a road to nowhere, But any rescue with public money should come with strict conditions.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

In olden times, when the United States was lauded as an engine of global enterprise and innovation, the ageing behemoth of its domestic car industry was conveniently forgotten. While the age of coal and steel was allowed to pass, leaving metal ghost towns and destitute communities behind, the US car industry somehow lumbered on. It even enjoyed a late and unexpected blooming when American families embraced those thirsty SUVs in the last flush of low fuel prices and rising incomes.

Credit crunch and recession between them have now confronted the US car industry with harsh reality. Sales of new cars have plummeted, as they have elsewhere. And when Americans do buy a new car, it is increasingly smaller, more economical – and foreign. Until recently, the “big three” US manufacturers – Chrysler, Ford and GM – commanded more than half the domestic market; they now account for only a little more than 20 per cent.

That the industry has survived pretty much unreconstructed to this point reflects the special place that the US car industry occupied not just in the American economy, but in American politics – and American hearts. Henry Ford’s Model T is part of the American national myth, like the coast-to-coast road trip, the drive-in and out-of-town shopping malls that presuppose car ownership. The industry’s lobbying power in Washington was, and remains, ferocious.

As is clear from the arguments now raging in the US Congress about what to do with the “big three”, they are seen, rather like certain finance houses once were, as simply too big to fail. It is not just that between them they directly employ 250,000 people, but that the plants are for the most part concentrated in a single, already depressed, area around Detroit, and that – according to industry lobbyists at least – as many as 4 million other jobs depend on them. Without the $25bn the industry is seeking, a whole region could be condemned to penury overnight.

In other ways, though, the car industry’s plight is not unique. It also exposes one great failing of the American way of doing things.

The “big three” have become terminally uncompetitive, not just because more attractive foreign products have captured the market, but because so much of the profit on any sale pays for the health insurance and benefits of retired employees.

Car workers in their time enjoyed some of the best terms available to US manual workers. But the economic model that supported them is no longer viable.

There is a school of thought that believes bankruptcy, for all the human cost, would be the soundest option. They cite the failed bailouts of British Leyland, among others. As the US Senate enters the second day of its two-day debate today, however, this “tough-love” option looks the least likely. The only question seems to be whether – as the Democrats argue – the car industry should be given a slice of the rescue already agreed for the financial sector, or whether, as the Republicans say, it should come from money already earmarked for developing fuel-efficient vehicles.

The industry insists this is too restrictive and would be nothing like enough. But more rigorous testing of the industry’s arguments might be in order before more subsidies are approved.

Of course, many groups have an interest in getting a rescue approved before a new, lobby-averse, President takes office on 20 January, and the transition is an uncertain time.

But a more far-sighted solution that minimised state involvement, while encouraging reform, might be preferable to a hasty attempt to please everyone, even if the “big three” had to wait a little longer.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 At www.SustainabiliTank.info we keep saying this since the beginning of the year – December 2008 there will still be the Paula Dobriansky UN delegation and as such nothing will change and the meeting is a deliberate waste with UN personnel just creating travel mileage CO2 and hot air. That was the case in Bali, and this will be the case in Poznan.

The solution was easy – postpone Poznan Meeting to April 2009 so some start of a decision becomes possible and the needed input for Copenhagen in December 2009 becomes feasible.

The UN Secretary-general is touting the Copenhagen Roadway that starts with Poznan in order to come up with a Kyoto II. We heard from Danish Prime Minister that if there is no Kyoto II there will be a better Copenhagen I, but we told him that what he will get, because of the timing, rather a Poznan II. Now Yvo de Boer, head of the UNFCCC office in Bonn, plainly agrees with our estimate when he realizes in public that the US has only one President at a time – and he well knows that there is no climate change business with US President N0. 43, and before Obama takes over from Bush, there will not be any negotiations. (period.!)

Oh! yes! UNSG Ban Ki-moon will take the paper we just posted, that he somehow thought to bring to the attention of the G-20 in Washington DC at their November 14th meeting – and read it at the opening of the COP-14 of the UNFCCC on December 1 in Poznan. He will then turn around smiling and say that the world has heard how important the subject is.

AND THAT WILL BE IT – and Yvo de Boer just declared that he understands that – that will be it!

Strangely, last night at an event for the Pacific Island States, a person representing a UN body, To be fair to him I do not divulge which important UN affiliate he represents, he told me that Obama will go to Poznan not as President-elect but as Senator (you know, like Al Gore, Timothy Wirth, and Bob Kerry went to   Rio in 1992.) I just did not have the heart to tell the gentleman that next week Obama will not be a Senator anymore. He leaves the Senate so someone else can be appointed and gain in seniority – this is another right and easily predictable thing we know. This story just shows how deep the UN lives in the unreality of its comfortable cocoon.

———–

OSLO (Reuters) November 17, 2008 – President-elect Barack Obama will not attend United Nations talks in Poland next month working on a new treaty for fighting global warming, as per the the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

“There is not going to be an Obama delegation in Poznan,” Yvo de Boer, head of the Secretariat, told a news conference in Germany that was also shown on the Internet. The 190-nation talks will be held from December 1-12 in the Polish city of Poznan.

“There is one president at a time,” he said. Obama will take over from President George W. Bush on January 20, 2009.”

After Obama won the presidency last month, de Boer expressed hopes that Obama might attend the Poznan meeting, which is due to work on details of a new climate treaty.

A new pact to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol is meant to be in place by the end of 2009. De Boer said that the U.S. delegation in Poznan would liaise closely with Obama‘s team.

——————

We believe that there will be an Obama observer at Poznan, but he will have a clear mandate to keep away from the negotiations. Obama does not want to become a co-owner of a sinking ship. He will in due time take the reins in his hands and wants to have free hands to do so. No last minute bail-out please! A bailout that leaves him holding an empty bag? No thanks.

If Yvo de Boer is afraid to recognize the above, and still wants to convey that he is playing in tune with Obama – this is another case of UN misleading the innocents. The Poznan party is on – the decision making process is off!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 Interesting – the UN via UNEP tries to reach the Obama Transition, In Chicago, with a Youth Driven US & Canada Campaign of commitment to resource conservation and possible changes in life styles. These are ideas hard on Washington, but surely not easy on a Saudi dominated UN in New York or Geneva either.

———–

Environment Gets a Boost from North American Youth.

UNEP Launches First Youth Network on Climate Change for North America

CHICAGO, 14 November 2008 — The United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) launches today its first-ever North American Youth Network to help
combat climate change. Twenty youth representatives, aged 18-22, were
selected from the United States and Canada and are convening in Chicago on
from November 14th to 16th to launch UNEP’s new Kick the Carbon Habit
Education Campaign.

The environmental education campaign aims to increase awareness of resource
conservation in a world where natural resources are becoming increasingly
scarce.   UNEP recognizes the crucial role education can play in mitigating
climate change and believes that young people are critical partners and
leaders in the quest for a more sustainable future.

UNEP’s goal with the Kick the Carbon Habit Education Campaign is to form a
self-sustaining network of North American youth leaders that will use
educational events to reach out to their communities and encourage new as
well as proven methods of resource conservation.

“With the unprecedented environmental challenges facing the world today, we
applaud the commitment of these 20 young Americans and Canadians to
demonstrate that youth are not just the voice of tomorrow but the leaders
of today”, said Amy Fraenkel, Director and Regional Representative of
UNEP’s Regional Office for North America.

The youth representatives were chosen for their leadership skills and
experience working on environmental issues.   In an effort to broaden the
climate change education efforts of students at the university level, UNEP
is focusing the campaign’s outreach on children (8-14 years old), youth
(14-22 years old) and the general population.

University and high school students will engage these three target
audiences in events such as a resource conservation fair at an elementary
school or handing out eco-friendly bulbs to homeowners living near a
university campus.

At the conference in Chicago, this pioneer group of young people will be
given the tools to inspire involvement in the campaign.   They will be given
a “start-up kit” of educational activities to use and distribute within
their region.

The Youth Network representatives will use modern technology, including
their website www.kicktheCO2habit.org, to liaise with UNEP and each other;
to develop strategies for the growth of the campaign; to write and
distribute a monthly e-newsletter to update volunteers on activities taking
place within the network; and to play a leadership role in deciding future
goals of the network.

For more information or to schedule an interview during the conference,
please contact: Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, Deputy Director, UNEP Regional
Office for North America, Tel: (1-202) 974-1307 or (1-202) 812-2100;
E-mail:  egc at rona.unep.org or Youth Representative, Kelley Greenman, Tel:
(1-305) 393-7293.

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org
*********************************

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 The Washington Post gives us indication of the very active, though private, work of the Obama transition team of 450.

The headquarters are in Chicago, and the President elect is busy also returning phone calls from World leaders.

Among the Tuesday calls were calls to:

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India
His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.

Previously it was also noted that Obama returned calls from leaders of most US allies – those in Europe and also among others, China, Japan and Israel.

Obama will not go to the G-20 meeting in Washington, but we do not think that he will be out of reach by phone.

Obama Also Lays Out Ethics Rules.
President-elect Barack Obama today released a series of ethics guidelines for those working in the transition operation, a continuation of the anti-lobbying policies adopted by the Illinois Senator during his primary and general election campaigns.

The ethics rules — no federal lobbyist can raise or contribute money for the transition efforts, no one who has lobbied in the last 12 months can advise the transition on the policy area on which they lobbied, no one involved in the policy work of the transition can lobby on that issue for a calendar year — were announced by transition co-chair John Podesta during a press briefing for reporters this afternoon. (Full details of the Obama ethics plan for the transition are after the jump.)

Podesta cast the new ethics rules as a leading indicator of what he termed “the most open and transparent transition in history.” Podesta added that members of the transition team will sign an ethics code laying out the specific principles announced today.

Asked about reports of tension between President George W. Bush and Obama in their meeting Monday, Podesta demurred, saying only that it was a “private meeting” in which the auto industry as well as plans for an economic recovery package were raised.

Podesta rejected reports that the passage of economic stimulus plan or a package to help the auto industry was part of a proposed legislative exchange for the elimination of Democratic opposition to the Colombia free trade agreement.

“While the topic of Colombia came up, there was no quid pro quo,” Podesta asserted. He added that the relations between the current White House and the Obama transition teams have been “collegial” and “cooperative”.

Podesta said that Obama had no plans to meet with any of the world leaders coming to town for the G20 gathering this weekend and aimed at addressing the global economic crisis. The President-elect will send an emissary to the meetings but Podesta would not offer any names as to the identity of that liaison.

As for the nuts and bolts of the transition itself, Podesta said that the budget was approximately $12 million with $5.2 million of that coming in appropriations from Congress. The remaining $6.8 million will be raised by the transition operation, according to Podesta.

The total transition staff will reach approximately 450 individuals, said Podesta, adding that beginning Monday a top to bottom review of every government agency would begin in an effort to insure “we hit the ground running on Jan. 20 because we don’t have a moment to lose.”

Podesta offered few specifics about the naming of Cabinet officials other than to indicate that the announcements would likely be made by Obama in Chicago. As for White House senior staff, those announcements “will come out as they are ready to be announced.”

Obama Ethics Rules

* Federal Lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

* Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

* If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

* If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

* A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

By Chris Cillizza |   November 11, 2008; 3:00 PM ET

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From www.Change.gov President-Elect Obama Transition-team’s Website.

President-Elect Obama Meets with Economic Advisers, Calls for “Swift Action” on the
Economy

Friday, November 7, 2008 06:20pm EST /
Barack Obama today held his first press conference as President-Elect to call for “swift
action” to fix the nation’s economy.

“Immediately after I become president I will confront this economic crisis head-on by
taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and
restore growth and prosperity,” President-Elect Obama said.

The press conference followed a private meeting of Obama’s Transition Economic Advisory
Board, a group of 17 leaders on economic issues that includes former U.S. Treasury
Secretaries Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence E. Summers, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Warren
Buffett.

Watch the full video of President-Elect Obama’s remarks at the press conference below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O0kwvFtEl0]
—————————–


Obama’s first Press Conference as President-Elect.

President-Elect Meets the Press, Cautiously


VIDEO


[Hide Quoted Text]

Obama Holds Press Conference on Economic Crisis
President-Elect Barack Obama speaks about the current economic crisis hardships, and
ways he plans to help combat them.
» LAUNCH VIDEO PLAYER

We watched the Press Conference and the line-up of 17 people behind the President-Elect
and asked ourselves what was this all about. We were in the clear as we never expected
that he will make any further personnel announcements beyond the names of his Chief of
Staff and the managers of the Transition exercise. This because, as he said, there is
only one President at a time – and he is not the President. He cannot make policy yet,
and his people will not be able to negotiate anything at this point in time. So why
disclose names of his intended nominees? This is specially true for the position of
Secretary of the Treasury and for the office holders in the economy policy sectors.
Further, as we still hope that he will reshuffle responsibilities so that the idea
becomes obvious that it will be via a Green Economy that he will reinvigorate the
economy in general, again, this sort of ideas will have to be framed, and frayed out, so
that there will be smooth flow when the cabinet is announced.
Here we would like to remind our readers of our detailed posting of the recent
reorganized Canadian Government where an Environment Ministry, headed now by the former
Minister of Industry, was enlarged to include functions of the economy and energy. Though
we are not completely excited by the way it was finalized, we nevertheless regard the
Canadian example as very important to efforts to be made in the structuring the Obama
Administration.

The New Face Of Canada’s Administration – Swollen to 38 Ministers – 11 Women up from 7 –
The Health Minister is Leona Aglukkaq from Nunavut – 13 Ministers from Ontario, 10 from
the Prairie. Jim Prentice from Calgary, Alberta, Previously Industry Minister, Takes Over
An Environment Portfolio that Includes Now The National Economy.

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 4th, 2008

by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

The Friday 2:30 pm, November 7, 2008, Chicago public appearance by the US
President-Elect, backed up by the presence on stage of the 17 people that participated
that morning at the Economic roundtable, had really the theatrical effect of showing that
he has assembled a very wide range of very good people – and that he is listening to them
– and that with their help he will come up with the short-term needed moves, as well as
with the longer term policies that will put back the US on a new winning path. It is the
seriousness of his introductory presentation and the somber looking faces behind him –
that were intended to say to us – TRUST ME!

The Opening Statement Was:

obama-nov-7001.gif



And the the people in the background were:

[Hide Quoted Text]
We can safely assume that Obama told these people what he would like to do and how will
I do it? Then listened to their advice as he will continue to do before he will feel
ready, and will think the time is ripe, for him to make his own decisions known. Until
then, provided there are no leaks, we will know very little beyond his statement that a
second stimulus package is needed, and as we can already accept for granted, he does not
think that the first set of actions taken by Mr. Paulson showed any positive results. We
trust that Obama actually has concluded that the money was misplaced because the present
Administration’s refusal to tie the money to preconditions before disbursement.
Obama knows that the people that voted for him want economic justice, energy and health
care, but his first shot will be at jobs. He knows that by the time he gets the reins of
the country in his hands, there will be an unemployment figure of 7% so the name of the
game will be Jobs.

Looking over the list of the 17 people in the background – Warren Buffett and Penny
Pritzker are investors; Richard Parsons (Time-Warner), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), Eric Schmidt
(Google), are high tech executives;
Antonio Villaraigosa, a large urban mayor (Los Angeles), and Jennifer Granholm, the
Governor of Michigan home of ailing US auto-industry; Robert Reich, a Clinton Labor
Secretary, David Bonior, former Congressman from Detroit who together with Governor
Granholm, it can be assumed to put the auto industry interests on top of their list for
action – and to prove this point I will attach the very recent posting that puts them
indeed on the automotive defense line. William Daley, brother of Chicago Mayor Daley, and
son of former Mayor Richard Daley, and former Clinton Secretary of Trade is another
Commerce and labor advocate.

The remaining people on that list are all from the financial sector: Roel Campos and
William Donaldson – former supervisors of Wall Street, Paul Volker, former Federal
Reserve Chairman, Roger Ferguson, Former Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman, Laura Tyson,
former Clinton economic advisor, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin – former Clinton
Secretaries of the Treasury.

To nail down further who’s star is up (the auto-industry and unions) and whose star is
down (the various fossil fuel industries) – the following nice little chart from
amNewYork:

Will Obama now agree to help the automotive interests without making sure that there is
indeed a drastic reform in the product lines, so that the needs for energy conservation,
and the introduction of electric vehicles, is finally taken serious by Detroit? If he is
not able to work this out with Detroit by engaging the 3 people directly involved, out of
the above 17, then he may find also most of his future programs derailed.

[Hide Quoted Text]

Democrats want Bush to help ailing automakers
By DEB RIECHMANN, AP
posted: 7 MINUTES AGO, November 9, 2008
comments: 135

WASHINGTON -Democratic leaders in Congress asked the Bush administration on Saturday to
provide more aid to the struggling auto industry, which is bleeding cash and jobs as
sales have dropped to their lowest level in a quarter-century.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a letter to
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that the administration should consider expanding the
$700 billion bailout to include car companies.
“A healthy automobile manufacturing sector is essential to the restoration of financial
market stability, the overall health of our economy, and the livelihood of the
automobile sector’s work force,” they wrote. “The economic downturn and the crisis in
our financial markets further imperiled our domestic automobile industry and its work
force.”
There was no immediate comment from the Bush administration about the request to broaden
the $700 billion financial industry bailout so automakers could get a share.
Automakers already want an additional $50 billion in loans from Congress to help them
survive tough economic conditions and pay for health care obligations for retirees. The
companies are seeking the loans as part of an economic aid plan that is now more likely
to come together early next year rather than in a postelection session of Congress this
month.
Top executives of General Motors , Ford, Chrysler LLC and the president of the United
Auto Workers met with congressional leaders Thursday to discuss the loans. The money
would be on top of the $25 billion in loans that Congress passed in September to help
retool auto plants to build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“We left the meetings convinced that our nation’s automobile industry — the heart of our
manufacturing sector — and the jobs of tens of thousands of American workers are at
risk,” Pelosi, D-Calif., and Reid, D-Nev., said in their letter to Paulson.
Automakers want the new loans included in an economic aid plan that is now more likely
to come together early next year rather than in a postelection session of Congress this
month. If Congress approved more loans, it would come with strings attached. Potential
protections include limits on executive compensation, awarding the government preferred
stock in the companies and a suspension of dividend payments to investors.
GM, the nation’s largest automaker, warned Friday that it may run out of money by the
end of the year after piling up billions in third-quarter losses and burning through
cash at an alarming rate. GM’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner , said the
company will take every action possible to avoid bankruptcy. GM has planned more job
cuts, including another 5,500 salaried and factory workers, but company officials warn
that those measures alone would not be enough and that federal aid was essential.
Ford, which recently announced it would slash more than 2,000 white collar jobs, also
has seen a rapid decline in its cash supply. But it is in better shape because the
company borrowed billions of dollars in 2007 by mortgaging its factories. The company
said it had enough cash to make it through 2009.
“We must safeguard the interests of American taxpayers, protect the hundreds of
thousands of automobile workers and retirees, stop the erosion of our manufacturing
base, and bolster our economy,” the Democratic leaders in Congress wrote.
President-elect Obama said Friday his transition team would explore policy options to
help the auto industry. Obama’s economic transition team includes two allies of the U.S.
auto industry — Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich.
*****
Further, it is clear that the cabinet formation is more complicated then envisioned and
it will take weeks. He said that he wants to see the stimulus package – sooner then later
and it became clear he wants to get this out of the way so that he can start on a large
front of issues simultaneously.

Obama’s hands are bound while watching Mr. Paulson dishing out a trillion dollars to his
friends in the last days of an 8-years failed Presidency. He cannot even come out and
talk about it without endangering the economy further. So, our conclusion from this
theatrical event – Obama and the wall of 17 – is the bridge to January 21. He must
encourage Washington in what it will be doing anyway, and will have to wait with patience
until he can move to the White House. He will then have to clear the ashes and start
building a new world. His choice of Rahm Emanuel was highly inspired. Rahm is just the
right man to crack the nuts as his nickname seems to be “Rahmbo the Nutcracker.”

Last night I had the chance to watch a C-SPAN TV repeat of a September 20, 2005 “Rahm
Emanuel Roast” at the Washington Old Train Station Building. It was done for a benefit
organized by another present Obama associate – David Axelrod and his wife Susan. It was a
terrific event, and showed the human essence of Rahm. The “Nutckracker” addition comes
from the fact that he studied classic ballet while a student at Sarah Lawrence College.
After graduation he hardened seemingly during his service in the Israeli Army (IDF) and
on Wall Street where he had a very successful stint. Now the 47 year young Senior
Congressman from Illinois, could have stayed on a track to become Speaker of the House,
but he opted for being Chief-of-Staff in a historic Presidency. He will thus be, for
several years, the second most powerful man in the land.

——-

One further comment. Big business interests are not going to give Obama a honeymoon. The
front page of the Weekend Wall Street Journal has above that photo of Obama and his
economics team – above the caption “Auto-Industry Crisis, Job Losses Test Obama,” an
added announcement “Obama& the Planet: Two Views – by Ian McEwan and Bjorn Lomborg,” the
latter being the Copenhagen Business School Professor who professes not to have believe
in the effects of a human caused Global Warming, wrote a book “Cool It,” and in
everything he does pushes forward the greasy oil industry jargon – and here – sensing the
obvious moment of change, the WSJ just brings out the old contrived debate between those
that want to do something about climate change and those that say actions ain’t needed.

We keep saying like Al Gore and Obama, that tackling GW/CC is the way to restart the
economy – and Lomborg will try to derail this approach. Mind you – in 2009 Copenhagen is
the home to the climate change negotiations and Danish Prime Minister Rasmunssen will
have to face this Trojan Horse in his Kingdom.

obama-nov-7002.jpg

obama-nov-7004.gif

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008

Fukui town of Obama erupts in victory parties

By ERIC JOHNSTON
Staff writer, The Japan Times.
OBAMA, Fukui Pref. — Yes we did. That’s what residents in the Sea of Japan town of Obama were chanting Wednesday during a boisterous celebration following Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

nn20081106a3a.jpg
Obama for Obama: Residents of the town of Obama, Fukui Prefecture, rejoice Wednesday at the news that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will be the next U.S. president. KYODO PHOTO

Nearly 150 Obama supporters, including a number of Americans, were on hand to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory as America’s next president.

Until the U.S. presidential campaign attracted international media attention, the town had been known in Japan more for its fresh seafood, proximity to nuclear power plants and for being home to two Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, than as a bastion of ardent support for a U.S. presidential candidate.

The party kicked off Wednesday morning with Hawaiian dancing performed by the “Obama Girls,” in honor of Obama’s adoptive state, where his grandmother, who passed away Monday, had lived.

There was also a performance by the Anyone Brothers Band, who played a rendition of their hit single (in Obama at least) “Obama is Beautiful.”

Many residents were excited about the victory, but some also wondered what kind of change the new president can bring to U.S.-Japanese relations, especially under Japan’s current government.

“He’s young, so he’ll have lots of new ideas and he ran on the mandate of change. Hopefully, he’ll use his connection with our town to improve Japan’s relations with the U.S.,” said Masao Okao, a local guide.

“Obama’s election is good news for now. But will he make Japanese-U.S. relations better? It’s difficult to say if he’ll have a good relationship with (Prime Minister Taro) Aso,” said Hiroko Morishita, who owns a small restaurant in the town. “We may have to wait until after the Lower House election to see what direction Japanese-U.S. relations will take.”

Not all residents were excited by the prospect of their namesake becoming the U.S. president, however.

One local fisherman, who refused to give his name, said he feared that under the new president, who has said he favors direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, there will be no progress on the fate of the Japanese who were abducted to North Korea.

Two Japanese, Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and returned to Japan in 2002. Both are from Obama.

Town leaders hope the international fame generated by their support will translate into increased business opportunities, and local merchants are already selling Obama Burgers, Obama sushi rolls (called Victory Wraps) and other products with the president-elect’s face stamped on them.

Alcillena Wilson, a black American English teacher and Obama supporter based in the town, said it is possible more tourists visiting Japan will make the trip to Obama.

“Obama is only a couple of hours from Kyoto, so the town is in a good position to attract tourists from abroad who want a day trip,” she said.

The town’s support for the president-elect began early this year after unconfirmed reports that the candidate had passed through Japan last year and jokingly told immigration officials he was “Obama who had come from Obama.”

A support group for Obama’s candidacy was formed, and the mayor sent Obama a small selection of local products and an explanation about the town.

“I understand Obama is a city of rich culture, deep traditions and natural beauty. We share more than a common name. We share a common planet and common responsibilities. I’m touched by your friendly gesture,” Obama said in a thank you letter sent to the mayor in February.

Obama officials plan to attend the January inauguration in Washington, and will issue a formal invitation for Obama to visit their town after he is sworn in.

At a separate ceremony Wednesday evening, Kenyan Ambassador to Japan Dennis Awori, representing the country where Obama’s father was born, said it was a great day for the city of Obama, for the U.S. and for Kenya.

America’s relations with Africa are expected to grow particularly strong under Obama, he said.

Obama Mayor Koji Matsuzaki added that his city hoped to form a sister-city relationship with the Kenyan town of Kisumu.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

76 U.S. Nobel Laureates in Science Endorse Obama for President.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 29, 2008 (ENS) – In an open letter to the American people released Tuesday, 76 American Nobel Laureates in science endorsed Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois for president of the United States. This is the largest number of Nobel prize winners ever to endorse a candidate for office.

(*****)

“This year’s presidential election is among the most significant in our nation’s history,” the Nobel Laureates wrote. “The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and economic competitiveness.”

“We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.”

(*****)
The scientists warned that an administration headed by Obama’s opponent Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona would not be good for future U.S. scientific endeavors that over the past eight years “have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support.”

“John McCain’s promise to freeze funding increases for science next year threatens to continue this dangerous trend,” wrote the Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and physics.

——————

“In addition, the reckless statements he and Governor [Sarah] Palin [of Alaska] have made on specific science programs including studies aimed at protecting the grizzly bear population, funding for a planetarium and research on fruit flies that have the potential to decimate crops brings to doubt their ability to manage the nation’s science programs,” the scientists wrote.

The Nobel Laureates were critical of President George W. Bush. Their letter warns, “The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations,” the scientists wrote. “As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk.”

“We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy,” they wrote.

The Nobel Laureates praised Obama’s plan for managing and growing the nation’s scientific endeavor. “We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation’s competitiveness,” the scientists wrote.

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“In particular, we support the measures he (that is Obama) plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation’s and the world’s most urgent needs.”
The list of 76 scientists includes three of the four American Nobel Laureates in science for 2008 – Martin Chalfie of Columbia University and Roger Tsien of the University of California at San Diego who shared the prize in Chemistry, and Yoichiro Nambu, of the University of Chicago who won the prize in Physics.

Chalfie was the first of the three to make his intentions known. One of the first actions he took after learning he won the prestigious prize was to contact a friend about signing on to the Obama endorsement letter.

“I understand there’s a list of Nobel Prize winners supporting Barack Obama, and I want to get my name on the list,” Chalfie said.

Chalfie also recorded a YouTube video explaining his endorsement to the public, saying, “The United States is the leader in scientific discovery and its application, but other countries are working hard to take away this lead. Barack Obama’s administration will continue to keep us the envy of the world.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

US Ethanol Profits Soft On Weak Motorist Demand.

Reports Timothy Gardner for Reuters – US: October 27, 2008.


NEW YORK – Average US ethanol distillers profits were narrowly positive this week on soft input costs like those for corn and natural gas, but remained tough overall on weak fuel demand, analysts said.


Prices for ethanol fell as oil refiners were unwilling to pay up as motorists were driving less than they did last year, a factor that has helped lead to some delays in the building of new ethanol plants.
“Thin margins and lower prices for ethanol don’t help the bottom line of the business,” said Terry Reilly, a senior agriculture futures analyst at Citi Agriculture Futures Research in Chicago.

Average US distillers were making about 10 to 20 cents per gallon for the week ending Thursday, steady with levels earlier this month, analysts said.

Ethanol prices fell as highway miles driven by motorists have plummeted this year amid high fuel prices and the weak economy. In the Midwest, spot ethanol was $1.69 a gallon, down about 18 cents.

US motorists over the last 10 months have driven about 78 billion miles less than they had over the same period a year ago, the government said Friday.

Slim profits amid volatile corn prices have led to delays and other problems for producers this month. Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc said it would delay the start-up of its Aurora West ethanol plant in Nebraska until the second quarter of next year.

It had been scheduled to open in the first quarter.

In addition, Gateway Ethanol LLC, which opened a small Kansas distillery last year to make alternative motor fuel, earlier this month filed for bankruptcy protection, according to court records.

Gateway said it owed between $50 million and $100 million to creditors, in a filing in US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas.

Still, US capacity to make ethanol is growing, which has helped weigh on margins. US ethanol capacity has jumped 60 percent since last year to nearly 11.2 billion gallons per year, which could keep a lid on margins until transportation bottlenecks are eased.

Average margins should range from positive 25 cents to negative 25 cents per gallon for the next six to 12 months amid shipping constraints and ample supply, analysts have said.

December corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade closed at about $3.90 a bushel Thursday, down about 48 cents from earlier in the month on economic concerns as credit tightens.

The ethanol crush spread held at about 31 cents a gallon, using the formula of the Midwest ethanol price, minus the corn price divided by 2.8.

Operating costs such as natural gas prices and overhead trim the crush spread by about 10 to 20 cents per gallon. Producers that sell the animal feed dried distillers’ grains can improve their margins.

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