How many Hummer-Years does Al Gore consume?
Since we're talking about the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, it makes more to measure Hummer-Years in the amount of CO2 emission.
This site is dedicated to the thoughtful criticism and understanding of contemporary wisdom and folly without judging the motives or intentions of any specific individual. It is a site written for anyone who is willing to question modern ideas. Orthodoxy that has stood the test of time is honored; pointless traditions are not. A special emphasis is given to Church matters. Please leave a comment when you visit. Counter views are encouraged and appreciated.
Some people are worried that amnesty will give illegal aliens the same rights that American citizens have. In reality, it will give the illegals more rights than the average American citizen.
The show's host, country veteran Reba McEntire, drew the loudest applause when she took a shot at the Dixie Chicks. "I don't know why I was so nervous about hosting this show this year," she said. "If the Dixie Chicks can sing with their foot in their mouths, surely I can host this sucker."
Is Iraq a quagmire, a disaster, a failure? Certainly not; none of the above. Of all the adjectives used by skeptics and critics to describe todays Iraq, the only one that has a ring of truth is messy. Yes, the situation in Iraq today is messy. Births always are. Since when is that a reason to declare a baby unworthy of life?
Advanced societies need economic growth to satisfy the multiplying wants -- public and private -- of their citizens. The social order depends on it. But the quest for growth unleashes new anxieties and economic conflicts that disturb the social order. Affluence liberates the individual, promising that everyone can choose a "unique way to self-fulfillment," writes historian Avner Offer. But the promise is so extravagant that it preordains many disappointments and sometimes inspires choices that have antisocial consequences, including family breakdown and obesity. Statistical indicators of happiness, Offer notes, have not risen with incomes.
Should we be surprised? Not really. We've simply reaffirmed an old truth: The pursuit of affluence does not always end with bliss.
But the main reason we think there is an epidemic is that the media, suspicious of technology, hype dubious risks.
Almost every week, there is another story about a potential menace. Reporters credulously accept the activists' scares: While I've been a reporter, I've been asked to do alarmist reports about hair dye, dry cleaning, coffee, chewing gum, saccharin, cyclamates, NutraSweet, nitrites, Red No. 2 dye, electric blankets, video display terminals, dental fillings, cellular phones, vaccines, potato chips, farmed salmon, Teflon, antiperspirants and even rubber duckies.
I refused to do most of those stories. If one-tenth of what the reporters suggested was happening did happen, there would be mass death. The opposite is true: Despite exposure to radiation and all those nasty new chemicals, Americans today live longer than ever.
So grab a bar of chocolate (it's healthier than you think, if you eat the right kind) and a copy of my new book, just out this week.
Everything you know is wrong -- and that's very good news.
"Some establishment scientists seem to be getting the message that they may have over-played their hands and become more parody than prophet. In just the last few weeks, two studies in major journals (Nature and Geophysical Research Letters) dump cold water on the high-end horror-story estimates coming out from politicized groups like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The articles, which cast a gimlet eye on climate-model predictions, show that more likely estimates for doubling of the world's carbon-dioxide level (which many argue will never happen) would produce a warming between 1.5 - 4.5 degrees celsius. Not a walk in the park, but not the stuff of Hollywood disaster epics."
Although Mr. Murrow offers a useful diagnosis of the feminization problem, he overlooks a simple answer to the question of why church is more appealing to women than to men: its domesticating influence. Why else did pioneer women who helped settle the West make one of their first priorities the erection of churches? This leads to another observation, albeit an unpopular one in our age of gender egalitarianism: For as long as women have tried to tame and domesticate men, men have resisted. Understood this way, perhaps the lack of men in the pews is not so much cause for alarm as it is an affirmation of that unspeakable truth--men and women are different.
The United States has the energy policy it deserves, although not the one it needs. Having been told for years that their addiction to cheap gasoline was on a collision course with increasingly insecure supplies of foreign oil, Americans are horrified to discover that this is actually the case. But for all the public outcry and political hysteria, high gasoline prices haven't significantly hurt the economy -- and may not do so. Since 2003 the economy has grown about 3.6 percent annually. It's still advancing briskly. That may be the real news.
But first, how did we get to $3 a gallon? The basic story is simple enough. Oil was cheap in the 1990s. From 1993 to 1999, crude prices averaged about $17 a barrel. Low prices discouraged exploration and encouraged consumption. China emerged as a big user. In 1995 global demand was about 70 million barrels daily; now it's almost 84 million barrels daily.
Spare production capacity slowly vanished, meaning that now any supply interruption -- or rumor of interruption -- sends prices up sharply. An Iraqi pipeline is attacked; prices jump. Nigerian rebels menace oil fields; prices jump.
These pressures get transmitted quickly to the pump, because there are few fixed-price contracts in the oil business. At each stage of distribution -- from producers to refiners, from refiners to retailers -- prices are adjusted quickly. They're often tied to prices on major commodities exchanges, where oil and other raw materials are traded.
"A gas station will get a delivery every four to eight days at a different price," says Mary Novak of Global Insight. Even between deliveries, station owners may push prices up because they know that "for my next tankload, I'll have to pay the market price."
Of course, profits have exploded. Production and refining costs haven't risen in tandem with prices. To the extent that oil companies have their own crude reserves -- as opposed to buying from producing nations -- they've reaped a bonanza. From 2002 to 2005, profits for most U.S. oil companies more than quadrupled, to almost $140 billion a year, the American Petroleum Institute reports. But the really big winners are the oil-producing countries. In 2005 their oil revenue exceeded $750 billion, up from $300 billion in 2002. (Crude oil and taxes represent about three-quarters of the retail price of gasoline; refining, distribution and marketing account for the rest.)
It's conventional wisdom that big increases in oil prices usually trigger a recession -- or at least a sharp slowdown. Why haven't they? One oft-cited reason is that the economy has become more energy-efficient. True. Compared with 1973, Americans use 57 percent less oil and natural gas per dollar of output; compared with 1990, the decline is 24 percent. Cars and trucks have gotten more efficient, though not much more so since 1990. New industries (software programming, health clubs) use less energy than the old (steelmaking, farming). But there's a larger reason: The conventional wisdom is wrong .
This may explain the economy's resilience. One hopeful sign: most nonenergy companies aren't yet passing along higher energy costs to their customers. "Businesses have had wide profit margins," says Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com. "They may be willing to eat the higher costs." In 2006, he expects the economy to grow 3.5 percent, with average unemployment of 4.7 percent.
Higher prices will slightly dampen demand, and added supplies will create some spare production capacity. Naturally, he could be wrong. Energy economist Philip K. Verleger Jr. thinks oil could be headed for $100 a barrel, with inflation going to 5 percent and inducing a recession. Continuing strong oil demand will collide with rigid supply (both production and refining). The conventional wisdom -- wrong in the past -- could be right in the future.
Whatever happens, the larger question is how Americans build on this episode. It may feel good to vilify the major oil companies and the oil cartel. But that won't help. We now import 60 percent of our oil; large imports will continue indefinitely. So far, we've escaped a true calamity. We may not be so lucky in the future. We could minimize our vulnerabilities to supply interruptions and price increases. We could open up more acreage (including Alaska) to drilling. We could orchestrate -- through tougher fuel economy standards and a gradually rising energy tax -- a big shift toward more-efficient vehicles. Once again, we've been warned. Will we continue to ignore it?