Group Defends Carbon Dioxide as ‘Elixir of Life’ in Climate Change Debate


Forget everything government officials, many media outlets, and “activist scientists” have warned about the damaging effects of carbon dioxide, because in reality there’s no cause for alarm, a group called the CO2 Coalition urges.

Scientists, engineers, and policy analysts who are part of the nonprofit organization turned out in force Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, outside Washington.

“Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant, it is in fact the very elixir of life,” Craig Idso, a science adviser to the CO2 Coalition, said during a panel discussion at CPAC exploring the benefits attached to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The CO2 Coalition, founded in 2015, describes its mission as “educating thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.”

Contrary to what “activist scientists,” political figures, and media outlets have told the pubic, Idso told CPAC attendees, higher levels of carbon dioxide actually will work to the advantage of future generations.

“Adding CO2 to the atmosphere enhances plant water use efficiency,” he said.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide could boost plant growth and make plants more resistant to droughts, he said. This could lead to increased food production, which in turn could offset projected food shortages.

Idso, who has advanced degrees in geography and agronomy, is founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a nonprofit based in Arizona. Adherents of man-made, catastrophic climate change consider him a “denier.”

“Unfortunately, the government mindset has viewed CO2 as a pollutant,” Idso said.
The higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide “typically boosts the optimum temperature for plant photosynthesis by several degrees [Celsius],” he said, adding:
Higher CO2 raises the temperature at which plants experience heat-induced death. Plants will therefore tolerate predicted increases in future temperatures.
Idso is also the founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a nonprofit devoted to circulating scientific information on the benefits of carbon dioxide.

Joining him for the CPAC panel discussion was CO2 Coalition member Kathleen Hartnett White, a senior fellow and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“No, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and fossil fuels are not the agents of death,” Hartnett White said.

The good news, she said, is that real progress has been made in combating genuine pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants identified in the Clean Air Act.

“Getting the lead out of gasoline was a big factor,” Hartnett White said. “There are doomslayers and doomsayers, and the doomslayers will always win.”

Hartnett White, a member of President Donald Trump’s economic advisory team during his campaign, also is labeled a climate change “denier” by some environmental activists.

During a Q&A session, James Delingpole, executive editor of the London branch of Breitbart News Network, asked Idso why environmental activists have made such an effort to “demonize CO2.”

“Different people latch onto it for different reasons,” Idso said, adding:
If you’re a scientist, you must publish to support yourself and your family. And if you’re out there saying global warming is not a problem, you are not going to get a research grant. If you’re a politician, you know that if you can control carbon, you can control life.
CPAC, the largest annual national gathering of conservative activists, runs from Wednesday to Saturday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside Washington.

Report by Kevin Mooney (@KevinMooneyDC). Originally published at The Daily Signal.  The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now

CPAC Straw Poll results blow holes in mainstream media claims


The annual Conservative Political Action Conference ended Saturday with the usual release of its Straw Poll results.

The Straw Poll is a self-selecting survey of CPAC attendees.  Comparing those numbers to scientific national polling blows several holes in the mainstream media's coverage of the event.

One some measures, CPAC attendees' opinions are virtually identical to those of Republicans in general.

Overall Trump job approval
85% - Morning Consult, Feb. 2-4 (Republicans, no lean)
86% - CPAC 2017

"Strongly approve" of Trump
53% - Morning Consult, Feb. 2-4 (Republicans, no lean)
55% - CPAC 2017

But in spite of the mainstream media coverage portraying CPAC as a Trump pep rally, those attending the conference are more likely than the average Republican to believe America is heading in the wrong direction.

"Right Direction/Wrong Direction"
68%/32% - Morning Consult, Feb. 2-4 (Republicans, no lean)
44%/47% - CPAC 2017

That's surprising.

And despite the first month of the Trump presidency being marked by clashes over immigration from terrorist-affiliated countries, CPAC attendees are less concerned than the average Republican about national security, and more concerned about fiscal issues.

Economy as his or her "Top Issue"
32% - Morning Consult, Feb. 2-4 (Republicans, no lean)
46% - CPAC 2017

National security as his or her "Top Issue"
32% - Morning Consult, Feb. 2-4 (Republicans, no lean)
29% - CPAC 2017

That differs from mainstream media coverage portraying attendees as xenophobic and places CPAC attendees squarely in the political mainstream, where most voters list the economy as their top concern.

Why Russian Military Aggression Has Backfired on Moscow


KYIV, Ukraine—The Kremlin’s strategy of military aggression in Ukraine and Eastern Europe has backfired, spurring former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries to become a de facto anti-Moscow military bloc, while NATO rearms and reinforces its eastern flank.
Altogether, Eastern Europe has become the most rapidly militarizing region on earth, which is not to Moscow’s advantage.

“I think [Russia’s military policies] have failed because they stimulated national resistance and the beginning of NATO rearmament,” Stephen Blank, senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council, told The Daily Signal.

“But there is no threat to Russia,” Blank added, underscoring how NATO and Ukraine are building up their militaries as a defensive move, which is not a bellwether for any offensive action against Russia.

In 2014, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula after a hybrid warfare invasion. Russia subsequently launched a proxy war in eastern Ukraine, which is still ongoing and has so far killed about 10,000 Ukrainians.

Since 2014, Russia has also ratcheted up military provocations against NATO forces across Eastern Europe.
“Russia’s aggression against its neighbors has changed the threat perception of many NATO members, many of whom have finally taken steps to increase defense spending.”
—@dankochis
Russian warplanes have made provocative flybys of NATO ships and aircraft. And Moscow has deployed new military hardware to its Kaliningrad exclave, a territory nestled between the Baltic countries and Poland, which are all NATO members.

“These are definitely not made for TV operations, but major military actions and threats of larger ones against Ukraine and the Baltics,” Blank said, referring to Russian aggression.
Russia has also conducted cyber warfare attacks on the electoral processes of multiple NATO countries, including, but not limited to, the U.S., Germany, and France.

“Russia is likely to continue its military provocations against NATO members since the image of an unpredictable [Russian President Vladimir] Putin serves Moscow’s interest in fueling fears of another war in Europe,” Daniel Szeligowski, senior research fellow at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, told The Daily Signal.

By casting doubt as to “whether NATO is capable of defending its members in case of aggression,” Szeligowski said Russia is trying to reassert influence over what it considers its “near abroad”—essentially the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Yet, Russia’s gambit appears to be backfiring.

“Russia’s aggression against its neighbors has changed the threat perception of many NATO members, many of whom have finally taken steps to increase defense spending,” said Daniel Kochis, policy analyst in European affairs at The Heritage Foundation. “This is something that decades of haranguing by multiple U.S. administrations has failed to do.”

NATO Still Matters

Anticipating a potential war with Russia, former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries have undertaken a crash course military buildup.

Accordingly, the Baltic countries of Latvia and Lithuania have had the two fastest-growing military budgets in the world since 2014, according to IHS Jane’s.

Despite the military buildup, however, Eastern European countries are, for the most part, not looking to freelance their own national security outside of NATO’s collective defense umbrella. In fact, Russian aggression has increased NATO’s clout in Eastern Europe since 2014.

“Regional security cooperation between countries on NATO’s eastern flank leads to greater coordination and capacity development, and thus should be further strengthened,” Szeligowski told The Daily Signal.

img_0399-1
In Latvia, civilians welcome a U.S. Army Stryker convoy in 2015. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

“However,” Szeligowski added, “it needs to be seen as complementary to NATO, since it cannot replace U.S. security guarantees within the alliance.”

Despite not being a NATO member and therefore not enjoying NATO’s collective defense guarantee, Ukraine has also turned to NATO as a hedge against Russian aggression.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered Ukraine’s military to adopt NATO standards by 2020. And when combined Russian-separatist forces launched an artillery and rocket blitz on the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka at the end of January, Poroshenko announced plans to hold a national referendum on NATO membership for Ukraine.

NATO will not accept a Ukrainian bid for membership while the country is at war. But Poroshenko’s move highlights how invoking the possibility, however slim, of NATO membership is a way to deter, or antagonize, Russia.

“Since Russia’s aggressive actions began three years ago, NATO has stood by Ukraine— this will not change,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said during a Feb. 9 joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

NATO, Redux

Russian aggression has spurred NATO to rearm and adopt a more aggressive posture toward Moscow.

The Western military alliance (originally conceived to oppose the Soviet Union) has collectively pledged to boost military spending while it follows through on plans to deploy its forces eastward toward Russia’s borders in ways unseen since the Cold War.

“Russia is working to undermine NATO solidarity, to create fractures and exacerbate differences within the alliance,” Kochis said. “It’s essential NATO members retain a united front to withstand these tireless efforts.”

At a gathering of defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis pressed for all NATO countries to meet the alliance’s minimum defense spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Currently, only five countries—the U.S., Estonia, Greece, Poland, and the U.K.—meet the 2 percent mark.

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do,” Mattis said during a speech at the meeting.

As a response to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, NATO has plans to send four 1,000-troop-strong battalions toward Russia’s borders; one for each of the three Baltic countries, and one for Poland.

Additionally, NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force comprises about 5,000 troops. The unit is meant to “respond to emerging security challenges posed by Russia, as well as the risks emanating from the Middle East and North Africa,” according to a statement on NATO’s website.

Overall, the U.S. has about 35,000 military personnel in Europe, including two Army infantry brigades. To deter Moscow, the U.S. has recently deployed an additional heavy brigade to Poland, comprising about 3,500 troops and 87 tanks, as well as a unit of 500 troops to Romania.

The U.S. also has troops in Ukraine conducting a training mission for Ukraine’s armed forces.

“The U.S. has restated its commitment to NATO and Article V, and Russia should recognize that those security guarantees remain rock solid,” Kochis said. “Any deviation only invites aggression and miscalculation.”

The Big Picture

NATO’s eastward deployments are still just a fraction of Ukraine’s military buildup near Russia’s border, underscoring how the overall military balance of power in Europe has shifted since 2014 due to Russian aggression.

Ukraine now has about 60,000 combat troops, supported by heavy artillery and armor, forward deployed to the Donbas—Ukraine’s embattled southeastern territory on the border with Russia.

That’s a force of 60,000 combat troops near Russia’s border that wasn’t there prior to 2014.
“Russia’s actions in Ukraine are first and foremost about domestic Russian politics,” Kochis said. “A stable, economically prosperous Ukraine on Russia’s borders is seen as a threat to the survival of the Russian regime.”
About 3,000 to 5,000 regular Russian troops remain in the Donbas, along with about 40,000 pro-Russian separatists.
In the months following Ukraine’s February 2014 revolution, Russia launched a hybrid invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, ultimately annexing the territory.

Russia followed up the seizure of Crimea with a proxy war in the Donbas. A combined force of pro-Russian separatists and Russian regulars was on the march in eastern Ukraine in 2014, and there were worries then that Ukraine could be split in two, or that Russia might launch a large-scale invasion.

A cease-fire called Minsk II has kept the war at bay since February 2015. But the fighting never really stopped. Today, the conflict is static, mostly fought from fixed positions in trenches with long-range, indirect fire weapons, such as artillery and rockets.

Today, about 3,000 to 5,000 regular Russian troops remain in the Donbas, along with about 40,000 pro-Russian separatists, according to Ukrainian military estimates.

The war in eastern Ukraine has killed about 10,000 Ukrainians and displaced about 1.7 million people, according to estimates by humanitarian groups.

Do or Die

Prior to 2014, the Ukrainian military had been gutted by corrupt government officials who pilfered weapons and supplies for sale to arms dealers.

Yet, in the past three years, and while fighting a war, Ukraine has rebuilt its military into the second largest in Europe (behind Russia), comprising about a quarter-million active-duty troops and about 80,000 reservists—that’s a jump of at least 25 percent from its pre-2014 manpower levels.

Additionally, Ukraine increased its military budget by 23 percent the year after the war began. Ukrainian defense spending is scheduled to increase by 10 percent each year going forward, according to IHS Jane’s.

Ukraine has also revamped its military-industrial complex. In 2015, Ukraine was the world’s ninth-largest weapons exporting nation. In 2016, Ukraine’s arms exports contracts jumped by 25 percent from 2015 levels, totaling about $750 million.

Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, has called for Ukraine to rank among the world’s top-five weapons exporting nations by 2020.

Ukraine’s military revival has been meteoric, and it would never have happened without Russia’s takeover of Crimea, or its proxy war in the Donbas.

Ukraine’s strategic military doctrine now identifies Russia as the country’s top security threat. Resultantly, Kyiv is rebuilding its military with the specific objective of defending against a Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s military center of gravity used to be in its western regions, a carryover from the Cold War when the Red Army massed its strength on the Soviet Union’s western borders to oppose a NATO invasion from that direction.

img_0859
A statue of Vladimir Lenin in Chernobyl, Ukraine. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

Today, however, Ukraine’s military forces have moved eastward, digging in to defend against Russia.

Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine has also sparked a cultural backlash among the Ukrainian people.

Ukrainians share a common language, religion, and cultural history with Russia. And many Ukrainians have friends and family living in Russia.

Yet, 72 percent of Ukrainians have an unfavorable opinion about Russia, and 77 percent  consider Russia to be a threat to its neighbors, according to a recent poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, a Ukrainian think tank.

That’s a sharp change from 2011, when 84 percent of Ukrainians had a favorable opinion about Russia.

Ukraine is, bit-by-bit, purging itself of all things Russian, and all reminders of the Soviet Union.

In 2015, Ukraine’s parliament passed a series of “decommunization” laws, which outlawed all symbols of the Soviet Union, including the hammer and sickle flag, and statues of Vladimir Lenin. Even the Soviet national anthem was banned.

Towns and cities with Soviet-era names were also renamed. The city formerly called Dnipropetrovsk—Ukraine’s fourth-largest city—is now simply called “Dnipro City.”

The excised “petrovsk” referred to communist leader Grigory Petrovsky, for whom the city was named in 1926 by Joseph Stalin.

Inevitability

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—which are all former Soviet states and current NATO members—are now building up their militaries at a faster pace than any other countries on earth.

The Baltic countries increased their collective spending on new military equipment from $210 million in 2014 to $390 million in 2016, according to a report by IHS Jane’s. By 2020, the region’s defense budget will be $2.1 billion, up from $930 million in 2005.

“This growth is faster than any other region globally,” Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at IHS Jane’s, said in the report.

Poland, also a NATO member, has doubled its military spending since 2006, reaching $9.2 billion in 2016. Polish military spending has increased in eight of the past 10 years, with an 18 percent jump in 2015.

Even Sweden and Finland, countries that stayed mostly neutral during the Cold War, have started to build up their militaries due to the Russian threat.

According to a Feb. 13 report from the Independent, a British newspaper, Finnish authorities have mulled blocking some foreigners from purchasing property near military sites. The move was a response to worries that Russians were acquiring land, which could be used to garrison troops or stage attacks during an invasion.

Grassroots Defense

The militarization of civilian populations across Eastern Europe offers a chilling barometer of how seriously those countries consider the possibility of a war with Russia.

Throughout the region, civilian paramilitary groups—a throwback to partisan units that fought against both the Nazis and the Red Army in World War II—are training for a guerrilla war against Russia.

In Lithuania, the government recently issued a guerrilla warfare manual for the country’s 3 million citizens.

Estonia’s standing army comprises about 6,000 troops out of an overall national population of 1.3 million. However, the country’s Defense League—a civilian paramilitary group—has 25,400 volunteers who train for war on the weekends.


img_0364
Estonians greet U.S. Army soldiers in 2015. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

Civilian militias in Poland are also preparing for war against Russia. And in Ukraine, civilian paramilitary groups are widely credited with stopping the advance of combined Russian-separatist forces in 2014, during the early days of the war when Ukraine’s regular army was on its heels.

“We can see that Russia is going in the direction of restoring the influence it had at the time of the Soviet Union,” Tomasz Siemoniak, Poland’s former minister of national defense and deputy prime minister, said in 2015.

“If that is the case then the situation is not over by any means with Crimea,” Siemoniak said. 

“It will move on to the territories of other countries, that will either be targeted by aggression, or by some other measures taken by the Russian federation. So we have to be ready.”

Priorities

Many analysts compare the current tensions between Russia and NATO as a new Cold War. They see the conflict through a bipolar lens—NATO on one side, Russia and its proxies on the other.

Yet, the current security environment in Eastern Europe is not so easily reducible to the Cold War paradigm. The region is no longer a geopolitical no man’s land between East and West. Rather, a multipolar, regional power struggle has emerged.

For the time being, however, NATO’s eastern members remain committed to NATO.

“For Poland, NATO with its Article V is, and will remain, at the core of security policy,” Szeligowski said. “Therefore, Polish authorities will seek closer ties with the U.S. and call on European NATO members to increase military budgets.”

There is, however, a lack of a consensus among NATO countries (within their domestic politics, especially) about the alliance’s top threat.

Some officials from Western European NATO countries, and some from the U.S., too, believe terrorists infiltrating from the battlefields of Iraq and Syria are the alliance’s biggest menace. However, among the alliance’s Eastern European members, Russia is, without a doubt, the top security concern.

“While terrorism and instability emanating from the Middle East and North Africa are threats to NATO member states, only Russia poses a true existential threat to the alliance,” Kochis said.

Report by The Daily Signal's Nolan Peterson (@nolanwpeterson).  Originally reported at The Daily Signal.

VIDEO: How Gun 'Silencers' Became a Health Issue


Credit: Robert Emperley, CC by 2.0
Most people only know about silencers from what they see in the movies—a stealthy gun accessory that helps criminals more easily kill by suppressing the sound of the gunshot. But silencers, some say, is a misleading way to describe these firearm accessories. Why? Because they don’t actually silence the sound of a gunshot.

In a brand new video series, “Underreported,” The Daily Signal digs into the controversy surrounding silencers—or “suppressors,” as gun advocates prefer to call them. We explore why firearm suppressors are so heavily regulated; speak with Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho who’s leading the charge to lift these regulations; and head to the National Rifle Association to see how they actually work.

Watch the video and share your feedback about whether Congress should take on this issue on The Daily Signal’s Facebook page.



Report by The Daily Signal's Kelsey Harkness (@kelseyjharkness). Originally published at The Daily Signal.

6 Non-Racism Reasons to Reject Marine Le Pen

Credit: phenleec, CC BY 2.0
On the road to the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen's presidential campaign is oddly similar to that of Donald Trump: confrontation with the media, nativism, and accusations of xenophobia. To avoid creating sympathy for the far-right candidate by throwing labels at her, let's give substantive reasons to oppose her. Here are six reasons to reject Marine Le Pen other than 'because of racism.'

1. Free Speech

Members of Le Pen's far-right political party, National Front, talk an awful lot about free speech, but only regarding their own free speech interests. For example, in October 2015, the party campaigned with the slogan “Je Suis Marine” (translation: I am Marine) after their leader was sued for comparing Muslims praying in the Parisian streets to the Nazi occupation.

It turns out that National Front’s love of free speech only goes so far. Le Pen recently called on the government to ban all protests against police brutality. Le Pen was quoted as saying that ultra-violent, far-left protestors need to be stopped, in order to restore respect in the public order.

As some protests have indeed sparked violent riots, one might suggest that Le Pen’s concerns are justified. However, please note that when labor law protests turned violent last June, and the government decided to ban all new protests, the National Front leader tweeted:
The ban on demonstrations against the #LaborLaw is a resignation in the face of thugs and a serious breach of democracy. MLP"
2. Freedom of religion

The National Front is one of those political groups that interprets secularism as not only state neutrality towards religion, but also towards citizens. The party wants to ban "ostensible signs of religion" from public places, including hijabs and yamakas. During her visit to Israel, Marine Le Pen said that this ban is a necessary sacrifice for the best interests of France.

It is clear that Le Pen confuses secularism with the eradication of religion all together. Some scholars say that the proposed ban will be rejected by the French Constitutional Council no matter what, believing that "the state cannot prescribe what you can and cannot wear." Yet, considering that the French ban on the burqa, introduced in 2010, was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014, nothing seems impossible. One thing is clear. The National Front is unwilling to uphold freedom of religion rights.

3. Trade policy

In Le Pen’s 144-point plan for her presidency, she calls for the defense of French jobs via “smart protectionism”. Whether or not Le Pen’s protectionism is “smart” or “targeted”, this idea has been in the vocabulary of France’s far-Right for a few years already – but there’s still no explanation for what it entails.

Presumably, it will involve leaving the EU’s Single Market and imposing import tariffs, but the question of how Le Pen will adjust when other countries respond, and how she will deal with the inevitable rises in consumer prices, remains unsettled. Potential supporters need to recognize what protectionism actually entails: fewer choices, higher prices, fewer jobs, and toxic diplomatic relations.

4. Immigration

Even if you don't approach immigration from a moral perspective, that of offering opportunities to those who want to improve living conditions for themselves and their families, there are numerous economic reasons to support immigration, including immigration to and from France.

In a 2015 study released by the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris, entitled Immigration Policy and Macroeconomic Performance in France, researchers claim that immigration has a "significantly positive" impact on GDP growth and in some cases, overall employment:
Diverse places of birth is a positive factor for the economic performance of a country. In addition, the entry of immigrants reacts significantly to the macroeconomic performance: all immigrants react positively to GDP per capita and immigrants in search of work react negatively to the unemployment rate."

Meanwhile, Le Pen has promised to crackdown on immigration.

5. The War on Drugs

On marijuana, Marine Le Pen follows a “zero tolerance” drug policy. For her 2012 presidential run, she stated that she’d introduce anything but the legalization of drugs and that France is losing the Drug War “because it is not actually fighting it”. In 2016, Le Pen’s tone hasn’t changed:
The idea of legalization is profoundly dangerous. In places where cannabis has been legalized, the results have been dramatic, with an explosion of drug consumption and public health problems.”
France’s public health agency reports that 700,000 French consume cannabis daily while 1.4 million citizens smoke at least ten joints per month. The R├ępublique is one of the strictest European countries when it comes to drug prohibition, with penalties of €3,750 and up to one full year in jail for mere possession.
Paris officials should consider a policy similar to that of Portugal, where the decriminalization of all drugs has been in effect since 2001.

6. No Reforms

Most notably, Marine Le Pen is no change from the big government system that has brought France to its knees over the past decades: she is part of it. The National Front is not planning on reforming entitlements or the overblown public sector. To the contrary, the party suggests lowering the retirement age to 60forcing banks to lend money to small and medium-sized French enterprises, and employing more public sector workers while also increasing their wages.

The economic and institutional reforms that required for economic growth and subsequent prosperity, which are needed to foster social cohesion, are being ignored by the French nationalists. Their obsession with social conservatism and left-wing economic policies would be disastrous for France; so disastrous that the question of whether or not Marine Le Pen is personally racist is politically irrelevant.
Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz
Bill Wirtz studies French Law at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.