NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

We have moved

We are no longer posting here. Our new blog is here. Please change your book marks.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We are moving!


Please change your bookmarks to our new site at: http://ncwatch.typepad.com/ Starting today, we will only be posting on our new typepad site. Some interesting Nevada County stuff up today. Note we are now blogging by category. You can select just the categoires you want to read. If you do not care about peak oil or global warming, just ignore them and select those categories you are really interested in. Also, you can now comment with only an e-mail account, no need to sign up to Blogger.



See you on the new site. Drop in and say hello!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Peak oil: Oil field production doubled, pumping CO2.

Interesting bit of peak oil news from Wired.
Five million tons of CO2 has been successfully pumped underground into the Weyburn oil field in a pilot project in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The CO2 is piped from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, a giant "gasification" plant near Beulah, North Dakota.

Not only does the project dispose of the nasty CO2, the pressure from the gas helps to extract more oil. The field's oil-recovery rate has been doubled, and its life extended for another 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
In Western Canada alone, pumping CO2 into oil fields could yield billions of barrels of additional oil while reducing CO2 emissions to the tune of pulling more than 200 million cars off the road for a year, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman in a statement.
It is hard to know when the peak will come when new technology keeps extending the date another 20 years.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Check out NC Media Watch at our new site

I have an interesting posts at: http://ncwatch.typepad.com/media/. This is our new site which is currently in beta testing, check it out.

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Covernor's greenhouse gas reduction plan -- plant trees?

From the Bee article on Governor's plan to reduce greenhouse gasses:
Other aspects of the plan presumably are less controversial. Few would argue, for example, against the value of planting trees.
Maybe his advisors should check out this study mentioned in the Friday Guardian:
Climate scientists could be about to give oak, ash and maple a bad name. They warn today that expanding forests in the temperate zones of Europe, the US and Asia could add to global warming. Johannes Feddema of the University of Kansas and six colleagues from the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research report in Science journal that they looked at changes in land use - the growth of cities, clearing of forests for agriculture, and draining of marshes - and their impact on climate change in the next 100 years. They confirmed something environmentalists have predicted for decades - the destruction of the Amazon forest would make the local climate 2C (4F) warmer because trees soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and burning them releases it. But then the scientists looked at temperate zones and found the opposite.
Yes, they found that planting trees in the temperate zones increases global warming. Just in case your are wondering, California is in the temperate zone. Someone might want let the Governor know his plan has a greenhouse gas emission reduction plans have few flaws.

Do you get the feeling the Governor and his staff are flying blind, using their emotions instead of their brains? With so little real knowledge about the impact of global warming, it is time for the Governor to take five and get beyond knee jerk emotions to some real world facts on the cause of global warming and the real world solutions.

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Rent contol is a slippery slope

Pat Butler writes about the New park owner strikes fear in residents, December 10, 2005
It can't be easy facing a group of people who are worried about losing their homes, even if you're the one who might force them out of those homes.

But that's where Ken Waterhouse of Roseville was sitting on Tuesday night. The new owner of the Grass Valley Mobile Home Park was trying to calm his tenants while at the same time explaining two rent-increase options.
The pleas for rent control is a slippery slope, as many California Cities found in the 1970. It produced less affordable housing, not more. The immediate benefit was to the current occupants, but over time rent controls limited the development of more affordable housing, or in this case mobile home parks. Over time the existing properties fell into disrepair and lowered the valuable of neighboring properties, resulting in demands for lower property taxes. If one park gets controls, then other will follow. The whole community ended up paying the cost of rent controls. Is this what we want in Nevada County.

Here is an analysis of rent control issues by the CATO Institute.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

How much is junk science going to cost you?

Climate strategy for state proposed
Advisers flesh out governor's call to cut 'greenhouse gases.'
Story in the Sac Bee
Michael Hanemann, an environmental economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who contributed to the report, said taxing petroleum is a bold idea, but not new. "The notion that using transportation fuels creates what are considered harmful effects is well-established in economics," Hanemann said. "So is the notion of introducing that into the cost of gasoline." However, he said he knows of no such fees or taxes in any other states.
The climate team did not say how much the fee should be, but noted that a charge of 2.57 cents per gallon would be comparable to the existing public-goods charge on electricity. A 2.57-cent charge would raise $408.6 million, based upon the current consumption by Californians of 15.9 billion gallons of gasoline a year. The team did not specify how that money would be used.
If the Governor follows these recommendations you are going to pay 55 cents every time you put twenty gallons of fuel in your car for the “public good” all based on junk science. There is no proof that increased levels of CO2 are the major cause of global warming. Can you just imagine how the $408.6 million is going to be spent? Not on preparing the state for global warming, I will bet. With no fee being changed in other states, how long will California business put up with this noncompetitive tax on their business? Stand by the exit and count them as they leave for Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Arizona.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

New NC Media Watch is in beta testing

Be sure and check out our new blog and give us some feedback. This is the new site for NC Media Watch, our official launch will be on 15 December 2005. This blog is more comment friendly, you only need an e-mail address.

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The Union is searching for readers

Have you noted all the Newspaper layoffs. Ad revenues are slipping, while Internet ads revenue is increasing. The Union is holding a one day staff meeting on how to attract younger readers, according to the Web Editor. The American Thinker has some thought on a Editors and Publisher proposal to save newspaper with special legislative benefits.

Do you think tax payers should support newspapers, or should they adapt to the reality of the Internet?

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Sprawl common knowlege challenged

Sprawl has been a big issue in Nevada County Here is some insight to sprawl by Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. An interesting follow up here.

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Domain Name Down

My domain name site is temporarly out of commission. It will return tomorrow. You cannot down load some pdf files until the site is back up.

UPDATE: The problem is fixed.

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Global Warming Weather Report

It is 14F, -10C, in Montreal Canada this morning where global leaders are worrying about global warming. This is the earliest onset of winter in 63 years. Wonder if it is having an impact?

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Online shopping reduces traffic

Margaret Bloebaum thinks that Local shopping is key to our prosperity, December 8, 2005
I was disturbed to read, among the "Non-Shoppers" comments in a recent edition of The Union, the comment, "I spent the day shopping around online. It's easier, there are better deals than in Grass Valley and I wasn't pushed or shoved around."

000

I believe that there is a logical reason: If we don't support our local businesses, they cannot support our local governments with their sales taxes. That is why I believe that the Internet is doing serious damage to local economies.
I disagree, Internet shopping is good for both Grass Valley and Nevada City, it reduces all that traffic congestion CCAT is always complaining about. We had a Town Hall meeting in Grass Valley where many citizens demanded communities that were car unfriendly, more narrow streets, less parking, they wanted more walking and biking. Damn those 60,000 folks that live in the county and their shopping needs. So, we will have more online shopping, more shopping in Auburn and Rosville with adequate parking. No walking, no biking, no waiting for public transit in the rain and snow.

Now that said, what is stopping local business from having an Internet presence and local delivery. A to Z Supply has a web site, and they sell products around the world, They have even sold some brass valves to NASA in Florida. DeMartini RV significantly increased their sales when they went online, now they have expanded their business to other communities. You can order Caroline’s Coffee online and have it delivered. You get the idea.

There is no reason that other business in Grass Valley and Nevada City cannot sell through Amazon if they establish a Sellers Account. Many of the items I buy, with a single click, are shipped from an associate company, including an independent geek book store in Roseville.

We need more internet shopping not less. We can buy online then go for a walk and enjoy our coffee in a street side cafe, with out any of that peskey traffic congestion. You can mail the sales tax on your Internet purchases to the city, dropping it off while walking, or biking, to your traffic free coffee. Maybe the City can put some sales tax drop off boxes around the city, saving us the postage.

UPDATE: Check out the comments on Margarets Other Voices here. Others agree, we need more local business online.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

George is posting on our new blog, which is in beta testing

Dear Readers, George and I are developing a new blog which is in beta testing. This new blog has a better interface for those who would like to comment, plus it lists posts by category. If you are only interested in specific subjects, select that subject, and that's what you get to read, hiding the other posts. I will continue to cross post until 1 Jan 2006, the offical launch date for the new site. The new site can be found at: http://www.ncwatch.typepad.com/media/

Please give us your feedback on the design. The categories will expand as new subjects are covered. If you have a local issue or subject you think that needs our attention, please let us know.

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Climate models vs real world ice core data

The ice caps of Antarctica have recorded the the earths temperature and the make up of atmospheric gases for thousands of years. The Vostok project revealed 440,000 years, East Antarctica's Dome Concordia ice core took us back 650,000 years, over the past four interglacials, the earliest of which is believed to have been nearly identical to the Holocene in terms of earth's orbit around the sun.

Both the Dome Concordia and Vostok data sets suggest that the peak temperature of the current interglacial is more than 2°C lower than the average peak temperature of the prior four interglacials. The earth's current temperature is still lower, than previous interglacials.

This conclusion was drawn by Sherwood and Idso, writing in CO2 Science.
In light of these several real-world observations, we conclude that if there is anything unusual or unnatural about earth's current climatic state compared to the climates of the past four interglacials, it is that it is so much colder in spite of there being so much more (dare we say incredibly more?) CO2 and methane in the air. Clearly, the planet's climate system is not operating the way the world's climate alarmists and politically-correct scientists claim it does.
The real world data over 650,000 years does not support the climate models currently being used by the California Legislatures and our Governor to force changes in our behavior. Changes that will have little or no impact global temperature change, but a big impact our our wallets. Why are we allowing this to happen?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Global Warming Update: The Skeptical Environmentalist speaks again

With climate change in the news, Bjorn Lomborg has stepped back into the spotlight with a provocative new essay, The Relative Unimportance of Global Warming. Lomborg first created a controversy with his 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. How this essay published in the Phillipine Daily Inquirer, the Taipei Times and Korea Herald, is stiring up the global warming true beleivers. Full text here.

This from the TED blog.
Lomborg doesn't dispute the science of global warming, but he believes Kyoto-style attempts to cut carbon-dioxide emissions are misguided, and that funds are best invested elsewhere: both in solvable problems (HIV/AIDS, hunger, Malaria) and in research toward alternative energy. As he told us at TED2005, we must prioritize the world's problems, if we're going to solve them. And we should prioritize based on the effectiveness of the proposed solution. The Kyoto Protocol is inefficient and expensive, he says (and the Copenhagen Consensus -- a group of top economists, including 4 Nobel laureates -- backs him up).
Our legislaters should be paying attention. By implementing California’s version of Kyoto our legislators are wasting our tax dollars, our personal wealth, when they could be creating more jobs, protecting the enviroment, and developing alternative energy. Why are they so simple minded in their pursuit of Kyoto-style carbon reduction, when is produces so little results. My guess it is the same mind set as the leming running toward the cliff - - all the other leming are running in that direction.

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Anna at NCFocus is looking for your help

In-depth reporting on Nevada City's fishy water - an experiment in open source journalism
During at least the last 15 years, Nevada City has repeatedly suffered from poor drinking water quality. When our new city manager came onboard several years ago, he seemed to have gotten the problem under control somehow, but in the last year or so the water has reverted to its previous occasional foulness. The yearly water quality reports sent to all city residents typically report excellent water quality, and do not mention or explain the recurrent problem.
Anna has posed some water quality questions on her blog NCFocus. Can you answer any of her questions?

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Get your cave ready for occupancy

The Mercury News reports we are all in big trouble.

Six months ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made international news when he committed the state to meeting strict targets reducing greenhouse gases as a way to fight global warming.
A closer look at California's emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say cause global warming reveals that even under the best scenarios, California will miss Schwarzenegger's targets by a wide margin. According to a new report, the state will miss the goals by at least 21 percent by 2020 unless his administration and the state Legislature take sweeping new steps to cut California's use of gasoline in cars, natural gas in power plants and other fossil fuels."
It sounded good at the time. But, when we let out leaders make decisions based on junk science, we pay the price. Now California’s goverment leaders are in Montreal making more promises according to the LA Times
State Looks to Lead Pollution Fight
Breaking with the Bush administration, officials from California propose new fees on greenhouse gas emitters and call for use of alternative fuels.
Who is going to pay these fees, you are! All this economic pain is based on a pseudoscience of global warming.
The pseudoscientific fads of Official Climatology and Environmental Sciences
There is perhaps no clearer example of the arbitrary vagaries of mainstream peer-review and its promotion of non-scientific fads, driven by political and economic interests, than the recent promotion of the pseudoscientific myth of 'global warming', systematically accompanied by the recurrent fits of public hysteria it engenders amongst scientists, politicians, environmentalists (another type of politico), mainstream science journals and mass-media.

Fads of this type - the fear-mongering alarmist type - have become the mainstay of official mass-media and the object of sensationalistic 'science-journalism'. There's been a whole series of such fads associated with pseudo-scientific meteorology and climatology, that are cyclically promoted by syndicated news media and official or mainstream science publications.
More details here.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Campaign Against Climate Change

This weekend environmentalists around the world marched to stop climate change . Professor Emeritus Philip Stott at EnviroSpin is looking for
. . . eager volunteers to cap volcanoes, to wrestle with the Earth's axis, to dampen down sunspots, to adjust the cosmic ray flux, to divert ocean currents, to MOP (in joke) up water vapour, to re-model the Tibetan High Plateau, to intercept asteroids, to dust the world, and to manage chaos.... among other Herculean tasks.
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Dedicated negative letter campaign?

It looks like a group of locals have started a dedicated letter campaign against the political future of Representative Doolittle. Here a two examples in today's paper.

Mary Longmore writes Enough is enough, December 5, 2005
I read in horror the letters to the editor extolling all that Boss Doolittle has done for us.
Bruce Longmore writes a Letter to Doolittle, December 5, 2005
. . . thanks Boss Doolittle for voting yourself a raise while cutting my future benefits. , , , I am so reassured by your responses . . .
Think this is a coincidence. Go to the Union archives and type in Doolittle. It looks like one or two negative letters per week. Hummm.. . I wonder where Mary read those positive letters.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Preparing for the worst, promoting the best

Reading the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle Business section I came across this headline: “2 out of 3 business say they’re unprepared for bird flu.” (no available link) Which raises the question, are Nevada County Businesses and Government agencies making any preparations for a global flu? According the article by Marilyn Geewax, it is mainly small business that are ignoring the potential threat. A risk management company recommends that companies prepare for a virus that could sicken, or even kill employees, disrupt supply chains and shut down essential services. Large companies like American International Group, and making plans for their employees to telecommute. “We need to make it possible for those key people . . . to be able to work at home.”

I have written in earlier post about traffic congestion benefits of telecommuting, now here is a clear case for public heath benefits, should we have a global flu pandemic. On method of managing the pandemic will be to quarantine the sick. Others will chose to quarantine themselves by not going out in public, including to work. By setting up a telecommuting infrastructure now, our local business can be prepared for the loss of key employees during any future pandemic.

The problem is, we do not have broadband coverage in all area of the County. The areas of potential coverage can be found on this map, and those areas without coverage. Scroll down this page and you can download a broadband coverage map in pdf. map.

As part of the our preparation for a flu pandemic the County should pressure current broadband providers to expand coverage to the the whole county. Or, as other communities are doing the are developing their own broadband networks, for use by public safety, utilities and business, using WiFi and WiMAX technology. Here is a link to one example in rural Oregon.

Having a county wide broadband wireless network can reduce traffic congestion, by promoting work from home. Access to broadband is a key factor in the real estate market, no broadband, no sale. Having more broadband coverage makes more houses available to home based business. Having the capability to work from home, enables companies and government to provide critical services during a flu epidemic. The rapid flow of satellite , data bases, and video information to our public safety teams at any disaster improves their efficiency and our safety.

I recommend our public officials, small, and large business take a serious look at how county wide broadband could reduce risks, promote home base businesses, while improving our quality of life. I have already proposed online shopping and delivery services that could be used to reduce traffic, and provide critical online buying and delivery services should the County experience flu epidemic. But, we cannot wait for it to arrive we must plan and act now!

The missing key to these benefits is universal broadband access for everyone in the county that wants, or needs, access to this critical communication technology. As a community, we must act now!

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hard to see truth when blinded by hate

Chuck Idler things there was a Breach of security, December 3, 2005
The cardinal rule regarding the handling of classified information is based on "the need to know" concept. This means, even if someone has a security clearance, that person must have the need for certain classified information in order to perform his work. Cheney and his cohorts violated the need-to-know rule when they divulged classified information to the press.

I found this at the American Thinker:
Fitzgerald admission
In court proceedings Friday in a lawsuit by Dow Jones to unseal the eight redacted pages in the Judith Miller Appeal, the Special Prosecutor stated:

“After being served with the instant motion,the Special Counsel arranged for the classification review of the redacted portions of this Court ’s February 15, 2005 opinion by the relevant agency.Based on that review, it has been determined that the redacted pages contain no references to information that is classified as of November 30, 2005. Thus, the presence of classified information no longer provides a reason for maintaining the secrecy of the redacted pages.”
It looks like that there was no national security breach in the Plame case, regardless of Mr. Idler’s claim. It is so hard to see the truth when you are blinded by hate.

Full article here.

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NCCA Christmas party highlights

Ellen and I attended the Contractor’s Association Christmas Party at the Holbrooke last night. The contractors throw a great party, the food and wine were superb, but the highlight of the evening was chatting with Cliff Wager, Rick Keene’s Chief of Staff, who was just back from a one year tour in Iraq as an Army Reservist.

Cliff was stationed in the central part of Iraq, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. He was part of a multinational unit run by Polish officers charged the movement of military vehicles throughout a large district in central Iraq He told some great stories about working with the officers from Poland, and other Eastern Bloc countries including Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Latvia, Kazakhstan. He was also given responsibility for a Detachments remote from his central location which required frequent travel in his Humvee.

We were surprised to learn that Army Staff Sergeants were given responsibilities and decision making authority exceeding that held by most of the Eastern Block Captains and Majors. Many of the truck drivers and escorts were women. Cliff has the highest admiration for there skills and abilities to “get the job done.” Our volunteer military has proven to be highly effective when properly trained and given the freedom carry out their mission.

It was refreshing to get some first hand insight into war in Iraq, we hear so little about the other nations involved in our local press. Cliff mentioned that Korea was responsible for an adjoining district. I only learned about Mongola's participatioin when the President stopped by to thank them for their contributions.

Speaking of first hand knowledge of the war on terror, check out his from Major John Tammes, an Illinois National Guardsman recently returned from Afghanistan. He responds to Rep Murtha’s “broken army” comments at the Instapundit here. He is not happy.

In talking to Cliff, we never got the impression that the Army was broken, but we did not ask ta direct question. He told only positive stories about the skill and dedication of our troops. I wish the local press could do more of the same.

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Five steps to less traffic congestion?

Charles Durrett has A few suggestions for sane traffic solutions,, December 3, 2005

Let’s take a look at his five step approach to traffic solutions:
1. Create a vision that explains how regional planning concepts like connectivity will play a role in getting cars around . . .
This is an excellent suggestion. We lack a shared vision for our community. Each group of community activist, chamber, economic development, and business association has a different vision of what the community should be in 10 years. When we treat each project separately, the loudest group often wins. This means the community becomes a mosaic of different visions.
2. Designate land uses conducive to quality of life: walking, biking, mixed use, relationships. . . . There is plenty of research that shows that the distance that people will walk is completely a function of the quality of experience.
I have provided data on how people really act here. I wish that we had more information about the “plenty of research” on the “quality of experience.” The research I am familiar with indicates that distance is the most important factor, six city blocks or quarter mile being the maximum distance people will walk for access to public transit.
3. Mass transit. When do we start planning for it? . . . They slapped their knees and said, "Public transit in the Foothills?
Looks at the facts here. The simple fact is Grass Valley is the center of commerce for the region, and tens of thousands of people living in the County who must come to town to shop. If Grass Valley insists on restricting parking, promoting walking and riding transit, those drivers will just continue to Auburn and Rosville where they have ample parking. Business owner need to think about what they are asking for, given the data on how people really act, rather than what they wish would happen.
4. All new projects, and especially the four pending SDAs (growth in general), should be evaluated based on their ability to address getting people around and minimally relying on the auto.
Promoting mix use village atmosphere is an interesting concept, but can the business prosper with just local participation, or will they need customers who now live in the county and must drive to their business. This will required each business have adequate roads and parking.
5. Yes, fix individual intersections, but always with points 1 through 4 in mind.
Yes, fix the intersection, but remember how people really operate, not how people like Mr Durrett wish they would operate, so he can drive to the store congestion free.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Peak Oil Discussion Continues

I stumbled across this update on NCFocus:
- it seems Russ is coming to believe in the reality of global warming) Russ points out that from Heinberg's website, he doesn't appear to be as mainstream a guy as he was onstage and as Pat suggested ("...did not appear to be a granola-munching vegan..."); I agree with Russ on this point, but think it's not a good reason to disregard the message, given that plenty of mainstream experts - including oil executives - are also sending it.
Some comments:

Global Warming: The facts show the world is warming, what has not been shown is that humans are the main cause. Read this latest evidence at Bad timing for Kyoto redo.

Peak oil: I have been quite clear, you cannot know when the peak is unless you know how much oil is available. We have no idea how much oil is available. Most is controlled by national oil companies controlled by governments, such as Mexico which has made very little investment in exploration. One early claim for an off shore discovery was it could be as large as Saudi Arabia. Who knows, the Mexican government controlled oil company is not saying. Saudi Arabia will not say how much oil they have, they could be running out, or with new technology could double output. Russia does not know how much oil could be recovered with existing technology, they refuse to let US companies try. Much of Asia’s island nations have not been explored, due to political conflict. We have not drilled off the coast of Florida and stopped drilling off the coast of California for environmental reasons. We know there is oil there, but not how much. Same on the Alaska Wild Life Reserve, we know oil is there, but not how much. Much of Canada’s Arctic regions is yet unexplored, yet we know they have large tar sands deposits. Oil has been discovered in Utah, yet more exploration is needed to determine how much. For example we do not know how much oil is in Iraq:
Of Iraq’s 74 discovered and evaluated oil fields, only 15 have been developed. Iraq’s western desert is considered to be highly prolific but has yet to be explored. There are 526 known structures that have been discovered, delineated, mapped and classified as potential prospects in Iraq of which only 125 have been drilled. Six of the 74 known fields are deemed giant, containing more than 5 billion barrels, while some 23 are classified as large (between 500 million-5 billion barrels) and the remaining 45 labeled as medium (50-500 million barrels) to small (less than 50 million barrels). This according to a Case Study by Donald Ian Hertzmark is an independent oil consultant based in Washington, DC. Amy Myers Jaffe is a Senior Fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University.
Government regulations control how much a publicly traded company can say about potential reserves. All estimates are very conservative.

Bottom line, we have no idea how much oil is really available. To say we have peaked, or will peak soon, requires we ignore what we do not know.

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Bad timing for Kyoto redo

Swiss researchers find little human impact on global warming.
Global Warming Blues
Thursday, December 01, 2005
By Steven Milloy


A more sober reality, though, is that whatever slight impact humans might have on the climate, it is too small to measure – a point made in a study just published by Swiss researchers in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews (November 2005).

The study reviewed prior efforts to reconstruct global temperatures of the last 1,000 years. It concluded that natural temperature variations over the last millenium may have been so significant that they would “result in a redistribution of weight towards the role of natural factors in [causing] temperature changes, thereby relatively devaluing the impact of [manmade] emissions and affecting future predicted [global climate] scenarios.”
“If that turns out to be the case,” the researchers stated, “agreements such as the Kyoto protocol that intend to reduce emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, would be less effective than thought.”

Full story here. This data supports the US position on Koyto.
So senior U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson was on very firm ground when he stated this week in Montreal that, “I reject the premise that the Kyoto-like agreement is necessary to address the issue.”
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Traffic reality check and alternatives

The Union editorial board, Meeting on traffic sends right signal, 1 December 2005
Those who spoke Tuesday night said the community needs to consider creating more bicycle trails as well as making the walking experience safer and more enjoyable. Another speaker talked about creating a program to encourage more use of the Gold Country Stage, our local bus service.
The 2001 National Household Travel Survey compares travel behavior in rural and urban areas of the United States. This is how people really travel, not how some people would like them too.

The study found that nation wide transit use for work is only 0.1 percent, walking 2.0 percent and biking 0.2 percent. Non-Work transit is 0.1 percent , walk 6.0 percent, and bike 0.9 percent. See Table 9 below.
mode_of_trans.gif

The 2000 Census travel-to-work survey found:

According to the Census Nevada County had 41,553 workers in 2000
Walked to work 1,084, which is 2.6 percent
Rode transit to work 285 which is 0.6 percent
Biked to work 377 which is 0.9 percent
Carpooled to work 5,168 which is 12.4 percent
Drove car to work 30,683 which is 73.8 percent
Worked from home 3,076 which is 7.4 percent
We've also reached the point where we need to consider new options to traffic concerns.
Look at the numbers above. Working from home took more cars off the road than walking, transit and biking together. So, promoting work from home is more effective in reducing congestion than all the other measures, except car pooling.
Therefore, our immediate traffic solutions are going to have to come from the community. A commitment to alternative styles of transportation is needed or the problems we complain about will not go away.
Given that transit rarely goes where people need to travel, that most of the County residence live out side the city limits of Grass Valley, it unlikely there will be huge changes in the next five years . Walking and biking in bad weather, which we have sixty five days of the year, and the steep terrain, does not promote these modes as alternatives either.

If all residence had a broadband connections, we could set up a shop from home scheme that uses local delivery trucks, to pick up the product and deliver it to the buyers door. This would reduce the number of trips per day for non-work activities.

This same broadband net work can be used to support a suite of medical monitoring systems, that would reduce the number of trips seniors would have to make to the doctor. Intel, Phillips, GE, IBM, and companies is Israel and Japan are working on these sensors. What is missing is universal broadband for all residence in Nevada County.

Broadband communications is an alternative to the need for vehicle travel. The Air Quality District estimates that eGoverment reduced the number of trips by 136,240 in one year. If more people had a broadband connection, this number could be higher.

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See a problem with this Thursday Union Web Update?

Web Update
Public meetings tonight - agendas included
Economic Resource Council Board - 7:30 a.m. in the Hauser Room of the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ Offices.
Thu December 1, 2005

This meeting was at 7:30 AM this morning!

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In Case of Pandemic Call Your Tort Lawyer

In the 1 December 05 issue of the Wall Street Journal the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Paul A. Offit gives a brief history (‘Lawsuits Won't Stop Pandemics’) of the legal profession’s impact on our country’s ability to defend against pandemics. He recounts the wonderful legacy of vaccines in reducing mortality and morbidity and even eliminating some diseases. For completeness he also lists the few tragedies of vaccines that did not work as intended. The point of the article is that when tort-based greed entered the scene the effect has been to reduce the number of vaccine makers and the availability of vaccines. That has left all of us in greater danger against diseases that can spread worldwide at the speed of an airliner. Going into new areas involves a level of unavoidable risk, or as Offit states -
Like it or not, we learn as we go. And no amount of suing is ever going to change that. In addition to contributing nothing to making vaccines safer, personal-injury lawyers have made vaccines more expensive and less available. That's because most lawsuits are directed at problems not caused by vaccines. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, lawyers sued vaccine makers claiming that the pertussis vaccine caused Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, paralysis, mental retardation, epilepsy and unexplained coma. Despite a series of epidemiologic studies showing these claims to be groundless, many lawsuits were successful. As a consequence, the price of the pertussis vaccine increased from 17 cents per dose to $11, the number of companies making vaccines decreased from 26 to four, and the number of U.S.-based companies making influenza vaccine decreased from six to zero. And they're still at it. Today, personal-injury lawyers claim that thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines, caused autism -- despite abundant scientific evidence to the contrary.
Today, in the face of looming pandemics, the political representatives of the pre-educated are again rallying against the latest legislative efforts to correct the mistakes of the past. Efforts to limit such frivolous lawsuits are branded as payoffs to the big pharmas and denying the poor consumer the ability to wreak justice against big business from which all evil flows.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Issues with the Union

Anna at NCFocus has more issues with the Union. I am not sure if she is patting them on the back, or putting a brick up the side of their collective head. We need to know Anna's politics to get the full message. Maybe she intended to be obtuse.

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More liberal revisionist history

Jack L. Sanchez in another socialist liberal rant Conservative policy failing, November 30, 2005
That conservative belief at work is what we all saw on television during the Katrina disaster. We saw conservative government paralyzed, incapable of acting. We saw the grinding poverty which is the result of conservative policy that benefits only the rich.
Really? I thought that Mayor Nagin was a liberal Democrat, who had hundreds of buses at his disposal and refused to take citizens to safety. I though that Governor Blanco was a Democrat liberal. She took 24 hours to decide if she would accept the President's offer of federal aid. During the 1990s under President Clinton, the environmentalists blocked improvements to the levees for ten years, and the Corps of Engineers finally gave up. The money for levee improvement went to other projects.
Conservative policy refuses to acknowledge something as basic as global warming.
Really? This from a Canadian blogger who attended a recent US Climate change conference:
One of the really nice things about this workshop is that it outlined the institutional structure of U.S. climate change research in a way that is difficult to appreciate otherwise. The Climate Change Science Program is a formal initiative that crosscuts agencies. It has a budget of about $2 billion per annum, with the major players being NSF, NOAA and NASA. All conference participants received a 200 page glossy report entitled “Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Year 2006”, which included well-laid out financial tables showing expenditures across agency and other cross-classifications. No one can accuse the U.S. of not doing its share for climate research.
Scientists had predicted several category 5 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, but conservative policy weakened FEMA, refused to fund levee improvement and used the money to give tax breaks to the wealthy and fund the fraudulent and illegal Iraq War.
I suggest that Mr. Sanchez read the series article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the 1990s decrying that President Clinton and his administration reduced levee funding. They also document local corruption that siphoned money from the levee projects for casinos, airport and airplanes for the use by the levee boards, that managed the levees. All appointed by liberal Democrats.

Now we find out that the levee design was flawed? It must have been designed by conservative engineers if we swallow Mr. Sanchez’s rant, it must have been a conservative plot against the poor in New Orleans.

Has anyone noticed that under a Republican Governor in Mississippi the state was better prepared and did not have the criminal looting that took place in New Orleans.

UPDATE: Here is what those bad news conservative did for the economy: Over the past four years, the economy has posted the following real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) growth rates:

4.3 - Q3 2005
3.3 - Q2 2005
3.8 - Q1 2005
3.3 - Q4 2004
4.0 - Q3 2004
3.5 - Q2 2004
4.3 - Q1 2004
3.6 - Q4 2003
7.2 - Q3 2003
3.7 - Q2 2003
1.7 - Q1 2003
0.2 - Q4 2002
2.4 - Q3 2002
2.2 - Q2 2002
2.7 - Q1 2002
1.6 - Q4 2001

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blogging the Town Hall Meeting on Comcast Channel 14.

Rather than go down to GV Town Hall meeting to night, I chose to watch the proceeding from my wife’s sewing room, the only room in the house we have Comcast Channel 14. Just prior to the meeting break, Ellen brought me a bowl of ice cream. You do you not get that kind of service in City Hall Chambers.

The meeting opened with a series of reports including The Traffic Safety Plan, NCTC Regional Transportation Improvement Plan, How Traffic analysis is done, and why GV needs it’s own traffic model.

This segment was followed by updates on Regional and City Traffic Congestion reduction projects, including GV Traffic Congestion Relief Program. Eight projects focused on turn pockets at busy intersections. The County projects on Brunswick, Idaho Maryland and East Main were also reviewed.

Updates on Mitigation Fees for the City and the Regional were reviewed. Dan Landon NCTC Executive Director, included a pitch for a local option transportation sales tax.

The Wolf Creek Trail preferred concept with it’s six phases was presented by the City.

Questions and Comments from the audience:

The focus was on quality of life issues if the City widens streets, increasing traffic. In fact several comment were made about traffic calming and narrowing the streets to retain the small city charm. Many comments and questions focused on walking, biking and riding mass transit. The Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce are starting a program to encourage business owners and their staff to ride the Gold County Stage.

Other challenged the Council to try walking from Riebes to Staples. Others noted that the bus stops did not have schedules or places to sit while waiting. Another wanted higher mitigation fees for the home, or business, the farther they were from down town, forcing development closer to the city center.

One lady had a idea, develop a community vision to guide development and infrastructure decisions, rather than dealing with projects one at a time. One of our local contractors want to know why are spending so much money to solve traffic problem that do not exist 23 hours a day. He thought we should lower our expectations. “Slower traffic is part of the charm of our city.”

There were a number of submitted questions. The CCAT questions demonstrated once again they lack understanding of how the mitigation fee systems works. Some of these questions also focused on biking, walking and transit. Other's on how to deal with accumulative impacts.

I may have found a good use for public television, watching Town Hall Meetings from the comfort of my home.

UPDATE: Brittany Retherford has an excelent summary in the morning Union. Not sure about the headline: "Traffic workshop happens bar"

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Kyoto RIP

Canada is hosting a conference on the future of the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal. The United Nations Climate Change Conference is set to be the largest intergovernmental climate conference since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. It is interesting that Canada is the host, as Canada's record on meeting its Kyoto emission-reduction targets is currently 30% over target. The same can said of eleven EU countries which are over their Kyoto targets, some by over 30%.

On the other hand, as the BBC notes:
Although the US and Australia have pulled out of the Kyoto process, their emissions have risen less than some nations which remain within the treaty.
EnviroSpin Watch, Dr Philip Snott weights in with this:
Unfortunately, at Montreal, there will be an enormous amount of cynical hot air expended in 'praising' the long-moribund Kyoto corpse. Nevertheless, the Kyoto Protocol will be buried as surely as Caesar - "See what a rent the envious Canada [Australia, China, India, etc.] made" - and it is most unlikely that a Son of Kyoto will rise, ghost-like from the chilly grave. Indeed, the sooner we put a stone cap over this coffin, the better (now that's what I call 'capping' emissions).
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