Daily Archives: August 4, 2008

The New York Times thaws on global warming

Yesterday Thomas Friedman conceded (see link above) that maybe, just maybe, global warming is a phenomenon caused by non-human events. He wasn’t convinced, of course,that we should stop worrying because, hey, “you never know”, but that admission represents a large hole in the “mankind’s doomed the planet” hype. His concluding words:

That project is already causing a stir in the climate community. In an article just published in the journal Science Express, Dahl-Jensen’s team wrote about how it had discovered from the ice cores that the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere over Greenland “changed abruptly” just as the last ice age ended around 11,700 years ago.

It seems to have been driven by a sudden change in monsoons in the tropics. The change was so abrupt that it warmed the Northern Hemisphere over Greenland by 10 degrees Celsius in just 50 years — a dramatic increase.

“It shows that our climate system has the ability to make very abrupt changes all by itself,” said Dahl-Jensen.

Some climate-change deniers would say that this proves that mankind is not important in changing the climate. Climate change experts, like Dahl-Jensen, say it’s not so simple: The climate is always changing, sometimes very abruptly, so the last thing that mankind should be doing is adding its own forcing actions — like pumping unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Because you never know — you never know — what will tip the balance and send us hurdling into another abrupt change … and into another era.

Last week, the Times’ official worrywart, Paul Krugman acknowledged that we can’t be sure how bad the effects [if any -ed] of global warming might be, but do we want to take the chance?.

This is all heartening news to some of us. Al Gore claimed that “the dispute is over”. People like me were called Holocaust deniers and worse. Now, it seems, that judgement may have been a bit premature. Better yet, I’m now justified in postponing yet again my first viewing of “An Inconvenient Truth”.

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More price reductions

Probably not enough to move them, but there were nine price reductions today and the real estate board’s still open for business. 18 Thunder Mountain Road doesn’t strictly qualify as a price reduction but it was offered for sale with a to-be-constructed house for $5,800,000 way back in 2002. It never sold, the house was never built and today the land itself reappeared, asking $2,500,000 for a 2+ acre lot. I like that 4 acres I mention below for $1.6 more than this one.

249 Bedford Road does has a house on it and it’s been for sale since it was built in 2005. Three years later it still sits empty and effective today, is asking $5,200,000, a drop from its original price of $5,885,000. I think they should have started at its present price three years ago.

There’s another house around the corner from Bedford that will never, ever sell for anything close to either its original price or its current reduced price. Fear of being hauled before a grievance board prevents me from identifying it, but it certainly provides a neat example of willful ignorance of market conditions.

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Alert! Not about real estate!

Don’t click on the link above if you’re only interested in real estate news. But if an eloquent essay on the danger Obama presents to this country and its economy might strike your fancy, I recommend this piece by Ms. Kyle-Anne Shiver.

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New Gasoline ripoff

I just filled up at my local station which advertises, in huge numbers, “$4.39″ for regular grade. When I looked at my receipt, I realized I’d been charged $4.49 per gallon. I’d fallen victim to what our state democrats (see link above) touted as a taxpayer bonanza, a bill, effective July 1st, allowing gas stations to whack their customers an extra 10 cents for putting their purchase on a credit card (and who carries enough cash to fund a fill-up at today’s prices?. Now, if you browse through the link above, you’ll see that the Dems also pat themselves on the back for “saving home owners from additional property taxes” by extending the conveyance tax on real estate sales, so it shouldn’t surprise you that they see a ten cent sop to their gasoline retail constituents as a boon to us suckers who buy the stuff on plastic. But I dislike the deception employed by this particular retailer. who lured me in with one price and stuck me with a higher one. I once praised this particular Old Greenwich station as being a reliable source of honest repair work. I’ve been repaid by twice being sold unnecessary and over-priced repairs and now this. The heck with them. The Sunoco station in Stamford (on the Post Road near Shaeffer Rug) sells gas for $4.29 regardless of how you pay for it. From now on,I’ll just mosey on up the street.

Update: I just walked over to take a picture of their sign for this blog and I see that the cash/credit differential is posted – my fault for not noticing. I’m still not going to pay them a dime extra per gallon, especially in light of their repair practices.

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The Breath of Gods?

I love wind energy. We all love wind energy, I’m sure. But the New York Times really loves wind energy and says so right here (link above) in what is supposed to be a news report. Does the following text sound like objective reporting, the kind that was once taught, I presume, in journalism school? To me, it reads like the sophomoric work of a dewy eyed high school student.

Though painted gray, the turbines stand out against the evening backdrop of battleship-colored thunderclouds and bear an almost celestial whiteness when day’s light is right. Airplane pilots can spot them from far away, and rarely does a bird make their unfortunate acquaintance.

The sound of 8.5-ton blades, three to a turbine, turning and turning, only enhances their almost supernatural presence. Standing at the base of a turbine’s stalk, you hear a whistling whoosh — whuh … whuh … whuh — as steady summer winds come like the breath of gods to toy with pinwheel amusements.

Or this:

Nebraska Public, for example, will buy the energy created by two wind farms being built by private developers 140 miles east of here, and will replace those two turbines up in Springview by next year. It hopes that within a decade or so, 10 percent of its energy will be produced by clean, free, plentiful wind.

It’s all very nice, but I wish the reporter had picked up on a few things that might make this marvelous project a bit less viable in the east. First, Nebraska bought 11,000 acres surrounding the turbines to prevent future development from blocking the wind – try doing that in Connecticut or anywhere that’s in view of teddy Kennedy’s compound. Second, and unlike conditions here on the east coast, there were transmission lines already in place, capable of carrying the generated electricity to where it’s needed. Out here, we refuse to let anything be built, windmills or transmission lines (or pipelines, power plants or LNG plants). Perhaps, when we suffer our next brown-out, the New York Times will send us a reporter to sing us back to sleep.

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Exxon’s Profit Margin

10%, as we’ve noted before, and discussed in today’s Wall Street Journal (link above). And here’s someone else who isn’t impressed with our mainstream media’s coverage of this issue.

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Bargains?

I’m beginning to see some and I’m hearing about a few huge price reductions that aren’t yet publicized, so there may be some sense returning to the market. Until now, the buyers were skittish and many sellers were content to sit things out – not a situation conducive to moving real estate. I’ll tell you where I’m seeing reasonable prices but only after I finish trying to sell them to my own clients; I do have to make a living, you know. Check back in at the end of the week. By that time, “they snooze, they lose”.

In the meantime, you may want to read this column in The New York Times on the glut in single bedroom condos-turns out, first time buyers can’t get financing, which is what’s hurting sales of our lower-priced inventory here in Greenwich. Take note of the frustrated seller quoted as saying “I wish we’d negotiated more with the first buyer”. He didn’t, lost the deal and a year later is still sitting on a property he doesn’t want to own. There’s a lesson in this.

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Ban it!

Some state representative is pushing for a one year moratorium on artificial turf playing fields until the State of Connecticut conducts a study on their safety. Never mind that there have been dozens of studies performed by other states and several branches of the federal government, we won’t be safe unless we spend this state’s taxpayers’ money to see for ourselves. The hysteria on this issue has reached Greenwich, too, via Selectwoman Lin Lavery but as far as I know, our kids are still playing on the stuff, no thanks to her.

Nalgene water bottles

It’s all reminiscent of the recent fervor that resulted in the world-wide banning of Nalgene bottles – the best invention for hiking ever made (with the possible exception of lightweight LED headlamps). The old bottles stunk of plastic and often leaked. Nalgene bottles were unbreakable and imparted no taste or odor to the water they contained. But someone, somewhere (Canada, actually) decided, in the face of every other study that said otherwise, that the chemical these bottles were made from might harm infants and presto! We’re back to cupping our hands in streams and dribbling on our chests. But chemicals are bad, man – they aren’t organic.

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It’s their Birthday!

The U.S. Department of Energy was established on this day in 1977 by The Great Rabbit Hunter, Jimmy Carter. It soaks up $25,000,000,000 (that’s billion) a year now, and it’s working every bit as well as our Department of Education.

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