Don’t Know Much Biology


There’s a post up over at Watts Up With That? which takes a look at She Guevara’s proposal for a Green New Deal. I suppose it’s “green” because the “thinking” behind it isn’t ripe yet. One of the goals for her Green New Deal would be “decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries” within ten years. Let’s set aside the financial cost of decarbonizing agriculture and simply consider biology and physics.

Human beings are carbon-based life forms. The vast majority of the energy that our bodies use to keep us alive is derived from chemical reactions that amount to burning the carbon in the food we eat. That food, whether plant or animal, was from other carbon-based life forms which, in turn, were alive because those critters grew by burning carbon. (Many plants actually store more carbon than they burn. That’s why animals eat them or humans burn them for fuel.)

Over my lifetime (I’ll be 71 on New Year’s Eve), hunger and malnutrition around the world have been greatly reduced by the mechanization of agriculture and the use of chemical supplements to fertilize and protect crops. All of that required an expenditure of energy that wasn’t possible by manual or animal-powered labor. How many windmills would it take to power a tractor and planting and harvesting equipment on a farm? A windmill is a set of sails catching the wind. Image a sail-powered tractor. Now add the additional losses of power transmission over wires and charging and discharging batteries. How much hydro? How large a solar array? And how much farm land would be lost to solar arrays? Most crops don’t do well in the shade. Oh, and most man-made pesticides are organic (that is, carbon-based) chemicals; so are most natural bug killers. Where will we get the energy needed to produce and distribute those chemicals to farms and apply them to the crops? Or will more of our fields’ produce go to feeding insects and less to people?

We’ve used so-called carbon-based energy over the past couple of centuries to power the revolutions in industry and agriculture that have drastically reduced hunger and made life better around the world. Actually, all of that energy has come from the Sun. The energy in sunshine from tens of millions of years ago was stored in chemical reactions in living organisms which were turned into coal, petroleum, and natural gas. We’ve been tapping into that stored energy. It may be that we’re returning carbon in the form of combustion products into the environment at an unhealthy rate. If so, we have other options. The uranium and thorium here on Earth are the decay products of heavy elements forged in stars that went supernova billions of years ago. We can tap into that stored energy, but there’s a different set of dangers in those sources.

Every time we do something, anything, the amount of entropy in the Universe increases. Everything has a cost. Thus far, the free market has shown superior performance over all other economic systems. Efficient agriculture developed in the US—but not in the USSR. The free market puts less of a drag on society than its competitors. Going to a what amounts to a green command economy seems doubly foolish—likely poorer performance in food production and proven worse efficiency in economic resource management.

Here’s an iron law of nature: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Congress lacks to power to repeal it.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


A year ago, The Dreadful Pro-Se Schmalfeldt’s LOLsuit VIII was in the final stages of falling apart and being dismissed, and the Cabin Boy™ was getting a little antsy. A year ago today, I published a post in response to his bluster. It was called Cowardly Cowards Gotta Cower …

* * * * *

… and bluster and threaten. Like this—Let me save the Cabin Boy some bandwidth. My name can be found on the copyright notice appended to the site logo, and the rest of my contact information, including my home address and cell phone number, can be found on the DMCA tab in the menu just below the logo. If you want to know what stately Hoge Manor looks like, you can click here for a post that shows a picture Schmalfeldt has previously posted. If you need directions, click here.

If you call or email before you come, you’ll be met with coffee and snacks. Otherwise, …

The Gentle Reader may form his own opinion as to who is cowering.

* * * * *

As was noted in a comment to yesterday’s TKPOTD, the Cabin Boy™ has been cowering under the porch of late. That seems like a good place for him for now as he contemplates the thought that I’m not through with him yet.

Like What?


That’s a question posed by Congresscritter-elect Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) when a recently elected Democrat accused Donald Trump of undermining democracy. The Democrat was unable to cite any example of democracy being undermined. Perhaps a skeptical public should begin asking that question more often.

There was “deliberate interference” with the election in Georgia.

Like what?

[crickets]

Or …

There’s evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections.

Like what?

[crickets]

The lack of evidence to support a claim reasonably suggests that the claim might be fishy. John Adams once observed that facts are stubborn things, and that stubbornness can be a problem for some political arguments. I expect that we will see more appeals to Homer Simpson’s notion that “[f]acts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!” Especially when those stubborn facts get in the way of The Narrative.