Ah, Wired — i remember when you were a magazine angled at people who were interested in science and emerging computer and electronics markets, but publishing has steadily moved away from niche ‘zines towards mediocre puff pieces to separate the ads for TAG Heuer, Kenneth Cole, Lincoln, and — oooh, Microsoft Cloud (that’s enough tech shit, back to Movado and other glitzy lifestyle brands!) You can’t blame them, I suppose; most of their business is online, now, and getting eyeballs to look at your ads on the sidebars requires clickbait — intriguing, important, or funny taglines to get people to have a look…like “Wired Goes Full Retard”… (Ooh, a pop culture reference!) Here, the clickbait is a lamentable piece of steaming monkey shit called “New Study Links VW’s Emissions Cheating to 60 Early Deaths”.
FUCK!!!! Congress and Obama better get the 86th Wing up and bombing the snot out of Wolfsburg before they kill again!
Except…it’s a load of bunk. A quick look at the piece shows you why Wired is about as reliable as a year-old Tesla. The premise is that the nitrogen oxide levels your Passat is kicking out are 40x what they are supposed to be. Okay — that could be bad. Should it be fixed? Yes. Should VW get fined for it? Sure. Are they destroying the planet and killing old people and babies? Only if badly driven. But this does not fit the narrative.
They cite a study by an “emissions researcher” at MIT who found this scandal was perfect for testing his new computer model on pollutants. Well, that sounds a bit suspicious, right away. As we all know, computer models have been staggeringly accurate at predicting activity in large, highly chaotic systems like weather (it was supposed to be sunny today…it’s rainy and gray), or long term temperature trends (oh, that 15 year dip in runaway climatic heating is a bit embarrassing, ennit? Say…we’re we supposed to be underwater, by now?)
This model “proves” “back-of-the-envelope calculations from the New York Times, Vox (possibly the largest collection of congenital idiots in current events publishing right now), and other news organizations” that VW’s emissions increases could have lead the the early deaths of tens of people in the US alone! Tens! We are breathlessly being told how super-smart and prescient the “news” organizations are when they aren’t jumping to incorrect conclusions on just about everything else. Keep in mind that Communications & Journalism is the major you go into when subjects like engineering, physics, and art history are just too hard. I am sure, however, that
Worse, these tens of people, and the presumably hundreds of others than could suffer heart or lung disease we are assured NOx causes will cost $450 million over the next ten to twenty years. Terrible! The federal government spends more than that in a similar time period on unauthorized funny music videos of their employees wasting your time and money.
Shut up, Scott, you say; this study was peer reviewed!!! Peer review is like slapping “organic” on a food label — It must be accurate, right? Other scientists — in no way similarly motivated by enviro-activism that infects just about every credulous, under-educated member of “journalism.” Maybe the author should have been as suspicious of this story as she was of the much-hyped and totally ridiculous bacon causes cancer story, but my suspicion is she loves bacon and hates the internal combustion engine.
There’s an interesting article over at Forbes by Alex Epstein called “How Fossil Fuels Cleaned Up Our Environment” that posits the use of fossil fuels, and particularly the ability to create cleaner methods of doing so after the 1970 Clear Air Act, made the environment much more clean and healthy.
The immediate response from those snowed by decades of enviro-doomsaying would be a violent “That’s bullshit!”…but one of the points I frequently bring up in my history classes is what life as like in a major city (or even a small town) in the late 1800s. Epstein does a nicer job by taking it back further to the time of Newcomen, the man that invented the steam engine.
Thomas’s reaction would be disbelief that such a clean, healthy environment could exist.
“How is this possible?” he would ask. “The air is so clean. Where I come from, we’re breathing in smoke all day from the fire we need to burn in our furnace.”
“And the water. Everywhere I go, there’s this water that tastes so good, and it’s all safe to drink. On my farm, we get our water from a brook we share with animals, and my kids are always getting sick.”
“And the weather. It isn’t that much different, but you’re so much safer from it. You can move a knob to make it cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold.”
“And you have to tell me, what happened to all the disease? Where I’m from, we have insects all over the place giving us disease—my neighbor’s son died of malaria—and you don’t seem to have any of that here. What’s your secret?”
I’d tell him that the secret was his invention: a method of transforming a concentrated, stored, plentiful energy source into cheap, plentiful, reliable energy so we could use machines to transform our hazardous natural environment into a far healthier human environment.
That isn’t overstating it. Imagine, for a moment, the world of 1880s New York City. The place is a sty, using that in the most pejorative way possible. There has only recently been the creation of the nather Stasi-like Sanitation Corps, with their white military-style uniforms, but they can only do so much…the place is lit with coal gas, or whale oil which throws massive amounts of crud into the air so you can see a few yards from the light source (although the evil Standard Oil Company has been dropping Pennsylvania kerosine prices so quickly that whaling is no longer a real option for lighting…saving whales.) Electricity is still a soul-lifting experiment in the theater district. You heat your place with coal or wood — both of which dump a lot more smoke and filth into the air than a modern coal-fired electrical plant ever could. You get around on foot, or by horse-drawn vehicles. There are more than a quarter million working horses in NYC…and they piss and poop. A lot. The roads are a flood of mashed shit. There are places every few blocks to stable the animals. More pee, more poo. And when a horse “breaks down” (dies), you have a big traffic jam waiting on the butcher to come get the carcass out of the middle of the street.
It’s dirt, smoke, stink, and pestilence.
But within a few decades the quality of life improves thanks to electricity (powered by the Niagara hydroelectric dam or local coal or diesel-fired generators; you get around on electric trams or trains, or gas-powered cars and trucks. “They stink!” cries the twerp whose never lived in worse than modern conditions. “Things were so much better when we all did farming, and lived naturally…” or when we worked from sun up to sundown for almost no money, only to worry if too much or little rain would fall, if it would be too warm or cold, and if we were lucky you lived to your 40s, bent and broken physically instead of dying of some horrific disease we don’t have thanks to Louis Pasteur and vaccinations.
Can we make these power sources cleaner? Yup. Can we find alternatives to them? Yup…but because we have the production infrastructure powered by hydrocarbons now. As solar improves (and it’s becoming a viable alternative source…but it’s much better suited to individual production and use), and other alternative forms roll out, the environment will improve.
Ultimately, however, that’s only possible because we moved away from animal and less energy dense sources to hydrocarbons. So yes…Epstein’s right.
The stupid is lose in teh blogosphere and Face
fuckbook. Republicans are gutting Science! with their new HR1422: EPA Scince Advisory Board bill! Except they’re not. Here’s the link for you people who bother to read the stuff before you crap your pants about the end of the world.
The relevant points are in Section 2 (b):
(2) Each member of the Board shall be qualified by education, training, and experience to evaluate scientific and technical information on matters referred to the Board under this section. The Administrator shall ensure that—
(A) the scientific and technical points of view represented on and the functions to be performed by the Board are fairly balanced among the members of the Board; (B)at least ten percent of the membership of the Board are from State, local, or tribal governments; (C)persons with substantial and relevant expertise are not excluded from the Board due to affiliation with or representation of entities that may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities, so long as that interest is fully disclosed to the Administrator and the public and appointment to the Board complies with section 208 of title 18, United States Code; (D) in the case of a Board advisory activity on a particular matter involving a specific party, no Board member having an interest in the specific party shall participate in that activity; (E) Board members may not participate in advisory activities that directly or indirectly involve review or evaluation of their own work; (F) Board members shall be designated as special Government employees; and (G) no federally registered lobbyist is appointed to the Board.
I don’t know what’s worse — the half-assed communist regurgitation, the awful “hey, this is just like the ’60s” folk music, or the aging hipsters we’re seeing in the video all look to have done pretty well for themselves with capitalism…
Here’s the skinny, so far: a rancher named Cliven Bundy has been locked into a two decade battle with the federal government over grazing fees. Bundy claims preemption since his family has been ranching on the land since the 1880s. A recent court decision found against bundy and the Bureau of Land Management decided to jump in SWAT-style on Bundy and round up his cattle on the federal land. But it was the how they did it that spurred the ire of Americans — the use of eight helicopters, for-hire cowboys, and BLM SWAT teams (yes…they have them), as well as local law enforcement to surround the Bundy ranch in preparation for this decade’s Waco standoff. When a video of BLM thugs attacking protesters with tasers and dogs surfaced, that was it — states rights, gun rights, and property rights activists lit up the interwebz, and hundreds converged (many armed) on the ranch to help the old man out.
In this confrontation, BLM drove into a 58 year old woman…twice. They knocked down a pregnant woman. They sicced a dog and tased one man without provocation.
Faced with an influx of armed patriots sick of the encroachment of Progressive politicians on their lives and those of others, the BLM returned most of Bundy’s cattle and fell back (mostly, it seems due to a lack of local law enforcement officers wanting to back them up and get shot int he process…)
But it’s not over. There is still a three mile wide no-fly area over the ranch, more materiel has been moving into the vicinity, and Harry Reid — whose involvement in the BLM’s actions has been questioned due to his son, Rory’s, shilling for a Chinese energy concern (ENN) looking to build solar farms throughout the area…including near to the area in dispute. Additionally, the new head of the BLM is Neil Kornze, a long-time Reid staffer
Here’s the odious Reid speaking on the matter:
Even more humorously than Reid the Elder’s comments is his son’s quip, “We believe in a country in which we are subject to laws and you can’t just ignore the laws we don’t like…” (Like Obamacare, the 2nd Amendment, border control, immigration law, election law…)
And here’s Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association:
Unfortunately for the BLM and local law enforcement, it looks like Bundy’s supporters didn’t fall for the strategic withdrawal and go home — as many as 500-800 are anticipating the return of the police in force, and are ready to meet it.