The Week That Was
April 29, 2000

The Week That Was March 29, 2000 brought to you by SEPP


Peter Huber, author of “Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the
Environmentalists,” tells us that while cities may be sprawling  agricultural
land is shrinking and forests are growing back --- all because of energy use
and better technology.  Huber’s hero is Teddy Roosevelt; his anti-hero is Al


Reactions to the recent protests against the World Bank and the IMF, with
President Clinton and Vice President Gore conspicuously absent:

>From Chris Ball, deputy director of Ozone Action, one of the organizers:
“The global and environmental policies that have resulted from this
administration have left us increasingly hungry … for really constructive
leadership …”  He decried the “lack of courage” at the White House to push for
solutions to global warming and other issues the group cares about.

But the Washington Times printed this reaction from a reader:
“It seems that only a handful [of the protesters] have the foggiest clue what
they are crusading for or about.  The rest are just there to lend false valor
and challenge to lives dreadfully void of the real kind. … Hence, they contrive
a pseudo-noble, political street 'war,' but carefully and against an 'enemy,'
the police, under strict orders not to hurt them. … Thus, these brave
'activists' can enjoy the team sport of war without any significant threat to
their pampered behinds.  Moreover, they can anoint themselves with
sanctimonious glory for their selfless devotion to an 'oppressed working
person' they never met, and for their opposition to the capitalism that gave
all of them the freedom and lifestyle they abuse so cavalierly.”

In the meantime, political commentators speculate on how the anti-IMF protests
might help the presidential ambitions of Pat Buchanan, a Reform party
candidate, and Ralph Nader, possible candidate for the Green party, and how
this might affect Gore and Bush.  The irony here is that many conservatives
agree that the IMF must be reformed or even done away with.


An editorial in the Washington Times (3/22/00) backs up the message of our
Earth Day op-ed   In spite of popular views about a deteriorating environment,
air quality has greatly improved for the six “criteria” pollutants: sulfur
dioxides (a 67% decrease), nitrogen oxides (38%), ozone (31%), carbon monoxide
(65%), particulates (26%), lead (97%).  And all this in the face of a US
population increase of more than 30% and a more than doubling of road traffic. 
Further, soil erosion is declining and forest land has been increasing annually
for the past 40 years.


MTBE policy runs into trouble.  The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act called
for “reformulated gasoline” containing oxygenates to reduce smog.  Ten years
later it has become evident that the EPA choice of methyl tertiary butyl ether
doesn’t help (as per a 1999 National Research Council report), certainly not
with post-1990 cars.  But tank leakage does create very noticeable water
pollution.  Now that Gov. Davis of California has put the matter into the
political arena, EPA is taking notice.  Meanwhile, many Americans are paying
more for gasoline and awaiting the phaseout of MTBE.

Auto emissions test ineffective:  Virginia and other states have long opposed
the imposition of the so-called “chassis dynamometer” test , which tries to
simulate an actual road test.  A great theoretical idea, but expensive,
cumbersome, and often damaging to the vehicle.  And quite ineffective, as shown
in audits by Colorado and other states.  As a Washington Times editorial points
out, much better to go after cars that are actually polluting, as determined by
remote sensing of emissions from roadside detectors.  But will EPA listen or
keep on foisting half-baked and costly schemes on the hapless American

Another court ruling against EPA:  On April 14, in Appalachian Power Company vs.
EPA, the Appeals Court for DC concluded that EPA initiated a major policy,
while sidestepping the requirements of notice and comments.  So it’s back to
the drawing board for the regulators.  Maybe they’ll learn; maybe not…

And now for a little humor..
(courtesy of John McCaughey's “Energy Perspective”)

Investigators at a major research institution have discovered the heaviest
element known to science.  This startling new discovery has been tentatively
named Administratium (Ad).

This new element has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of
zero.  It does, however, have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75
vice-neutrons and 111 assistant vice-neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of
312.  These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are

surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert.  However, it can be
detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. 

According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one
reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less
than a second.  Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three
years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a
portion of the assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons
exchange places. 

In fact, as Administratium sample's mass will actually increase over time,
since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons,
forming new isotopes.  This characteristic of moron promotion leads some
scientists to speculate that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a
certain quantity in concentration.  This hypothetical quantity is referred to
as the “Critical Morass.”

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