Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in the Atmosphere Reach New Record

Global Warming? That’s the headline on the
World Meteorological Organization’s
press release
for its latest
Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
report issued just before the
19th
Conference of the Parties
(COP-19) of the U.N. Framework
Convention on Climate Change convenes later this month in Warsaw.
The release notes:

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new
record high in 2012, continuing an upward and accelerating trend
which is driving climate change and will shape the future of our
planet for hundreds and thousands of years.

The World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas
Bulletin shows that between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase
in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because
of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases
such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions,
accounted for 80% of this increase. The atmospheric increase of CO2
from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the
past ten years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the global
average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by
41%, methane by 160% and nitrous oxide by 20%. What is happening in
the atmosphere is one part of a much wider picture. Only about half
of the CO2 emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere,
with the rest being absorbed in the biosphere and in the
oceans.

Interestingly, the GHG Bulletin notes that the amount
of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased by 32 percent
since 1990. Yet global average temperatures have been
more or less flat for the last 15 years
. Curious.

Heads up: I will be writing daily dispatches from the COP-19
in Warsaw from November 18 to its end on November 22.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/greenhouse-gas-concentrations-in-the-atm
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GMO Labeling Disinformation Campaign May Suffer Defeat in Washington State

KillerTomatoesAnti-biotech luddites tried to scare the
citizens of Washington State into voting for the I-522 initiative
that would have mandated labels on foods containing ingredients
derived from genetically modified crops, even those crops are as

safe or safer than
conventional or organic crops. Styled as a
“right to know” initiative, the scientifically dishonest proponents
of labeling actually hope that confused consumers would mistake
them as “warning labels,” and thus avoid purchasing foods made from
cheaper and more environmentally
friendly
biotech crops.

All the votes are not yet in – a lot of in Washington State
residents vote by mail, but the trend looks promising. As
Politico
reports
:

Washington state’s GMO labeling measure appears to be going down
in defeat, early results show.

With slightly less than a million votes counted, the current
tally on Ballot Initiative 522, which would require the labeling of
foods that contain genetically modified organisms, show those
opposed leading by about 536,000 (54.8 percent) to 442,000 (45.2
percent). The figures represent about a quarter of the state’s 3.9
million registered voters, but not all of the votes have been
counted.

The delay in the final vote total is due to the fact that
Washington is a mail-in ballot state, and it will count any ballots
postmarked by Nov. 5, even if those ballots arrive at the end of
the week. As a result, the tally on election night often only
reflects about 60 percent of the votes that ultimately will be
received, according to Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for Washington’s
Office of the Secretary of State.

If that holds true in this election, with 997,566 ballots
counted on election night, another 665,044 could be in the
mail.

Here’s hoping that good sense will ultimately prevail among
Washington voters and this scientifically ignorant measure fails.
It’s a pity that the food and farming industries have to
waste so much money
to counter this egregious anti-biotech
propaganda.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/gmo-labeling-disinformation-campaign-may
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JFK Still Dead, Baby Boomers Still Self-Absorbed

In a new
column up at The Daily Beast, I look upon the avalanche of books
about John F. Kennedy coming out to mark the 50th anniversary of
this assassination and despair.
Here’s a snippet
:

Each fall since November 22, 1963, regular programming is
pre-empted and whole rainforests are clear-cut to bring us books
filled with the latest minor (and often delusional) variations on
who killed Kennedy and why; the supposedly transformative effect of
the “Camelot” years on contemporary geo-politics and, more
plausibly, the hat-wearing habits of the American male; and
counterfactuals about just how awesome—or awful—JFK’s second term
would have been.

Whatever emotional immediacy, contemporary relevance, and news
value this all once inarguably possessed, can we now admit that the
topic has grown thinner than the post-1963 resume of Kennedy
impersonator Vaughn Meader? It now lives on mostly as a sort
of repetition-compulsion disorder through which the baby
boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) seeks to preserve its
stultifying cultural hegemony even as it slowly—finally!—begins to
exit the stage of American life on a fleet of taxpayer-funded
Rascal Scooters.


Read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/jfk-still-dead-baby-boomers-still-self-a
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A. Barton Hinkle on the Potential Economic Viability of Small Stadiums

BallparkWhat we know—based on decades of research—is that
publicly financed sports stadiums are a sucker’s bet for everyone
except the rich team players and their even richer owners. But some
recent research suggests smaller clubs and smaller facilities might
not be the economic sinkholes their bigger cousins are. The work
comes from Nola Agha, an assistant professor of sports management
at the University of San Francisco and arrives at what Agha terms
“an unexpected outcome”: Certain types of teams and facilities can
produce gains in regional income (albeit small ones: about $67 to
about $117 per capita). Agha cautions that her research doesn’t
include any cost-benefit analysis, “so there is no implication that
cities should invest in AA or rookie stadiums.” Still, writes A.
Barton Hinkle, the economic case against sports stadiums used to be
open and shut in every instance. Now, in some cases, it is simply
open.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/a-barton-hinkle-on-the-potential-economi
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Global Temperature Trend Update – October 2013

Hot or not?Every month University of Alabama in
Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer report the
latest global temperature trends from satellite data. Below are the
newest data updated through October 2013:

Global Temperature Report: October 2013

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

October temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.22 C (about 0.40 degrees Fahrenheit)
above 30-year average for October.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.23 C (about 0.41 degrees Fahrenheit)
above 30-year average for October.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.22 C (about 0.40 degrees Fahrenheit)
above 30-year average for October.

Tropics: +0.04 C (about 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year
average for October.

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average
(1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Global Temperature Data 1979 - 2013

Go here
to download monthly global temperature data since 1978.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/global-temperature-trend-update-october
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The Feds vs. Craig Zucker: Are Regulators Carrying Out a Personal Vendetta Against the Creator of Buckyballs?

Four years ago, serial-entrepreneur Craig Zucker had a hit
product on his hands: Buckyballs, desk toys comprised of
supercharged mini magnets, which were flying off the shelves and
into the shopping carts of fidgety-handed customers. Zucker’s
company, Maxfield & Oberton, had sales of $10 million in
2009. 

Forbidden Buckyballs |||Zucker’s troubles began last year, when the
federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an
administrative complaint that sought to ban and recall the product
on the grounds that it was dangerous for children. It’s true that
if swallowed, these powerful tiny balls can cause internal bleeding
because they seek to find other magnets when lodged in a person’s
bowels or intestinal tract. But banning the product was
“statistically ridiculous,” as
a report in the Huffington Post explained
. There were
22 reported incidents of ingested Buckeyballs from 2009 to October
2011, or one for every 100,000 sets sold. That means the product is
orders of magnitude less risky than dogs, tennis, skateboarding,
and poisonous household chemicals. And the product was clearly
marked, “Keep Away from All Children.”

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/the-feds-vs-craig-zucker-are-regulator
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Voters Make Marijuana Colorado's Most Heavily Taxed Consumer Product

Yesterday
Colorado voters overwhelmingly
approved
Proposition AA, which authorizes a 15 percent excise
tax and a special sales tax of up to 15 percent (intially set at 10
percent) on marijuana products sold by the state-licensed stores
that are scheduled to open next year. The margin, 65 percent to 35
percent, was almost exactly the same as the margin by which voters

rejected
an income tax hike aimed at boosting funding for
public schools. Most of the annual revenue from the marijuana
excise tax—the first $40 million—likewise is earmarked for a school
construction fund. Since marijuana consumers currently are a
relatively small minority (around
12 percent
of the population), these results are not terribly
surprising. Given the choice, voters will always prefer that other
people pick up the tab for their stuff.

All of the proposed local taxes on marijuana also passed by big
margins. Denver voters
authorized
an additional sales tax by a margin of  more
than 2 to 1 (69 percent to 31 percent). The tax is initially set at
3.5 percent, but the city council has leeway to raise it as high as
15 percent. By a vote of 67 percent to 33 percent, Boulder voters

approved
a 3.5 percent sales tax that can be raised as high as
10 percent. Littleton voters
approved
a 3 percent sales tax by a vote of 64 percent to 36
percent.

The upshot is that marijuana will be the most heavily taxed
consumer product in Colorado by far, taxed at a
much higher rate
than alcohol even without taking local taxes
into account. That situation is hard to reconcile with Amendment
64’s
aim
of taxing marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol,” and
it surely makes no sense in light of the two products’
relative hazards
, which were a major theme of the legalization
campaign. If legislators take full advantage of their new tax
authority, marijuana in Denver, the center of the retail cannabis
industry, will be hit by a 15 percent excise tax plus sales taxes
totaling 38 percent (including standard and special state and local
taxes). With taxes that high, the state-licensed outlets may have

trouble
competing with the black market and with homegrown
marijuana. (Colorodans are allowed to grow up to six plants at home
and share the produce, one ounce at a time, “without
remuneration.”) Legislators may find that if they set taxes too
high, the result will be less revenue rather than more.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/voters-make-marijuana-colorados-most-hea
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Voters Make Marijuana Colorado’s Most Heavily Taxed Consumer Product

Yesterday
Colorado voters overwhelmingly
approved
Proposition AA, which authorizes a 15 percent excise
tax and a special sales tax of up to 15 percent (intially set at 10
percent) on marijuana products sold by the state-licensed stores
that are scheduled to open next year. The margin, 65 percent to 35
percent, was almost exactly the same as the margin by which voters

rejected
an income tax hike aimed at boosting funding for
public schools. Most of the annual revenue from the marijuana
excise tax—the first $40 million—likewise is earmarked for a school
construction fund. Since marijuana consumers currently are a
relatively small minority (around
12 percent
of the population), these results are not terribly
surprising. Given the choice, voters will always prefer that other
people pick up the tab for their stuff.

All of the proposed local taxes on marijuana also passed by big
margins. Denver voters
authorized
an additional sales tax by a margin of  more
than 2 to 1 (69 percent to 31 percent). The tax is initially set at
3.5 percent, but the city council has leeway to raise it as high as
15 percent. By a vote of 67 percent to 33 percent, Boulder voters

approved
a 3.5 percent sales tax that can be raised as high as
10 percent. Littleton voters
approved
a 3 percent sales tax by a vote of 64 percent to 36
percent.

The upshot is that marijuana will be the most heavily taxed
consumer product in Colorado by far, taxed at a
much higher rate
than alcohol even without taking local taxes
into account. That situation is hard to reconcile with Amendment
64’s
aim
of taxing marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol,” and
it surely makes no sense in light of the two products’
relative hazards
, which were a major theme of the legalization
campaign. If legislators take full advantage of their new tax
authority, marijuana in Denver, the center of the retail cannabis
industry, will be hit by a 15 percent excise tax plus sales taxes
totaling 38 percent (including standard and special state and local
taxes). With taxes that high, the state-licensed outlets may have

trouble
competing with the black market and with homegrown
marijuana. (Colorodans are allowed to grow up to six plants at home
and share the produce, one ounce at a time, “without
remuneration.”) Legislators may find that if they set taxes too
high, the result will be less revenue rather than more.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/voters-make-marijuana-colorados-most-hea
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Portland, Maine, Three Towns in Michigan Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

nsfpVoters in Maine’s largest city and in Michigan’s
state capital, Lansing, as well as Ferndale and Jackson have all
approved measures that legalize the recreational use of marijuana
in their jurisdictions. In Lansing, the measure
passed
with 62 percent of the vote—it prohibits the city from
regulating marijuana in amounts under an ounce that is possessed or
used on private property. Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero,
supported
the initiative, pointing out that the “public is far
ahead of most politicians on this issue.”

Ferndale’s measure passed
even more resoundingly
, with 69 percent voting in favor. It had
been opposed by nearly all of the city’s political establishment,
and this summer the local police
targeted
one of the main organizers of the initiative, charging
him with “marijuana delivery” and even suggesting where he lives
could render the initiative void even if it passed.  

Jackson’s effort to decriminalize marijuana
passed
with about 61 percent of the vote.

Portland’s initiative,
meanwhile
, decriminalized possession of marijuana in amounts up
to 2.5 ounces but also banned its use in many public places.
Legislators in Maine have been trying to legalize marijuana
statewide. No state has yet legalized marijuana via its
legislature, though
several states
, including Maine, could join Colorado and
Washington in legalizing marijuana next, especially on the 2014
ballot.

Medical marijuana is notionally legal in Michigan and Maine
already.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/06/portland-maine-three-towns-in-michigan-v
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A.M. Links: Terry McAuliffe, Chris Christie, Bill de Blasio Win Elections, Kathleen Sebelius Returns to Capitol Hill, At Least One Dead in China Bomb Blasts

  • w00t puerto ricoDemocrat Terry McAuliffe was
    elected
    governor in a tight race in Virginia, challenging the
    notion the place is a blue state yet, while in traditionally
    Democrat New Jersey Republican Chris Christie
    easily
    won re-election, and Bill de Blasio
    becomes
    the first Democrat to be elected mayor of deep blue New
    York City since David Dinkins in 1989. Will he last as long? In
    other cities, Marty Walsh
    won
    the mayor’s race in Boston, and former prosecutor Mike
    Duggan
    won
    the mayor’s race in Detroit.
  • Kathleen Sebelius will be
    back
    on Capitol Hill to testify more about how she’s
    accountable for Obamacare’s problems and how they’ll be fixed
    anyway.
  • Ladar Levison, who ran the e-mail service used by NSA leaker
    Edward Snowden before being forced by government actions to shut
    down, plans to
    launch
    a surveillance-proof and easy –to-use se-mail service
    next year.
  • At least one person was
    killed
    by a series of bomb blasts outside the Chinese Communist
    Party’s headquarters in the provincial capital of Taiyuan.
  • France is
    not
    planning on delaying its withdrawal from Mali any further
    in the face of a resurgence of violence that included the killing
    of two French journalist.
  • Diplomats from Iran, Israel, other Middle Eastern countries and
    even the US
    reportedly
    met in secret last month to talk about the
    possibility of organizing a conference on the banning of nuclear
    weapons in the region.

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