Ethanol exacerbates global warming. Whoops.

Greenhouse Affect – WSJ.com

The ink is still moist on Capitol Hill’s latest energy bill and, as if on cue, a scientific avalanche is demolishing its assumptions. To wit, trendy climate-change policies like ethanol and other biofuels are actually worse for the environment than fossil fuels. Then again, Washington’s energy neuroses are more political than practical, so it’s easy for the Solons and greens to ignore what would usually be called evidence.

The rebukes arrive via two new studies in Science, a peer-reviewed journal not known for right-wing proclivities. The first, by ecologists at Princeton and the Woods Hole Research Center, reviews the environmental consequences of increased biofuel consumption, which had never been examined comprehensively. Of course, that didn’t stop Congress and the Bush Administration from jacking up the U.S. mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022, a fivefold increase from a mere two years ago. Such policies are supposedly justified because corn-based ethanol and other “alternatives” result in (very modest) reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions when mixed with gasoline.

The researchers break new ground by exposing a kind of mega-accounting error: Prior studies had never credited the carbon-dioxide emissions that arise when virgin forests, grasslands and the like are cleared to grow biofuel feedstocks. About 2.7 times more carbon is stored in terrestrial soils and plant material than in the atmosphere, and this carbon is released when these areas are cleared (often by burning) and the soil is tilled. Compounding problems is the loss of “carbon sinks” that absorb atmospheric CO2 in the bargain. Previous projections had also ignored the second-order effects of transferring normal farm land to biofuels, which exerts world-wide pressure on land use.

So, incredibly, when the hidden costs of conversion are included, greenhouse-gas emissions from corn ethanol over the next 30 years will be twice as high as from regular gasoline. In the long term, it will take 167 years before the reduction in carbon emissions from using ethanol “pays back” the carbon released by land-use change. As they say, it’s not easy being green.

Hopefully, this is true

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: Well, This Would Be Nice

Stratfor, an independent private intelligence firm, argues that not only have we destroyed Al Qaeda as an effective force, we’ve also isolated Iran in the Arab world to the point where they can either play along with us or be the target not just of us, but also the rest of the Middle East. (Stratfor is not a Republican apologist organization, having criticized Bush at many points in the past.) The money quote from their analysis:

The president’s primary goal in 2008 is simple: reaching an arrangement with Iran. Ideally, this would be a mutually agreed upon deal that splits influence in Iraq, but we have already moved past the point where that is critical. Al Qaeda, the reason for being involved in the region in the first place, is essentially dead. The various Sunni Arab powers that made al Qaeda possible have lined up behind Washington. Iran and the United States may still wish to quibble over details, but the strategic picture is clearing: a U.S.-led coalition is going to shape the Middle East, and it is up to Iran whether it wants to play the role of that coalition’s spear or its target. And the Bush administration has the full power of the United States — and one long year — to drive that point home.

While I hope this is true, I’m also not sure Iran would necessarily care about being isolated. Ahmadinejad doesn’t strike me as the most stable guy over there. But, we should all hope Stratfor is correct.

Castro says he’s too unhealthy to speak

Castro says he’s too unhealthy to speak – Yahoo! News

Fidel Castro said Wednesday he is not yet healthy enough to speak to Cuba’s masses in person and can’t campaign for Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Two predictions:

1) He’ll still pull out a victory.
2) His victory will be lauded by the same people in America who deny that Bush won the last two US Presidential elections.

Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Catholic World News : Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Spanish government leaders have asked the country’s Catholic bishops to apologize for the massive pro-family rally held in Madrid on December 30, Vatican Radio reports.

Leaders of the Socialist governing party have charged that the Church intervened in partisan political affairs with the rally, which drew nearly 2 million participants. (The government is reporting that only 160,000 took part in the demonstration.) The government has asked the bishops’ conference for an apology.

Although 40 bishops took part in the pro-family event, and the hierarchy gave clear support to the event, the rally was organized primarily by lay Catholic activists. The organizers have consistently argued that the rally was not intended as a partisan political event, but as a public expression of support for the traditional family founded on Christian marriage.

Here’s my suggested apology:

I’m sorry you’re subscribed to an economic philosophy that has worked solely to impoverish millions around the world. I’m sorry you reject the traditional meaning of marriage and all the joy and security it brings to people and to nations. I’m sorry your social policies kill so many people and so many souls. I’m sorry you’ve chosen to reject God and the love He has for you. But, there’s still time to come back to Him and truly find the peace and happiness you wrongly think your failed policies can instill.

Hat Tip: The Cafeteria Is Closed

Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Catholic World News : Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Spanish government leaders have asked the country’s Catholic bishops to apologize for the massive pro-family rally held in Madrid on December 30, Vatican Radio reports.

Leaders of the Socialist governing party have charged that the Church intervened in partisan political affairs with the rally, which drew nearly 2 million participants. (The government is reporting that only 160,000 took part in the demonstration.) The government has asked the bishops’ conference for an apology.

Although 40 bishops took part in the pro-family event, and the hierarchy gave clear support to the event, the rally was organized primarily by lay Catholic activists. The organizers have consistently argued that the rally was not intended as a partisan political event, but as a public expression of support for the traditional family founded on Christian marriage.

Here’s my suggested apology:

I’m sorry you’re subscribed to an economic philosophy that has worked solely to impoverish millions around the world. I’m sorry you reject the traditional meaning of marriage and all the joy and security it brings to people and to nations. I’m sorry your social policies kill so many people and so many souls. I’m sorry you’ve chosen to reject God and the love He has for you. But, there’s still time to come back to Him and truly find the peace and happiness you wrongly think your failed policies can instill.

Hat Tip: The Cafeteria Is Closed

Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Catholic World News : Spanish leaders want bishops’ apology for pro-family rally

Spanish government leaders have asked the country’s Catholic bishops to apologize for the massive pro-family rally held in Madrid on December 30, Vatican Radio reports.

Leaders of the Socialist governing party have charged that the Church intervened in partisan political affairs with the rally, which drew nearly 2 million participants. (The government is reporting that only 160,000 took part in the demonstration.) The government has asked the bishops’ conference for an apology.

Although 40 bishops took part in the pro-family event, and the hierarchy gave clear support to the event, the rally was organized primarily by lay Catholic activists. The organizers have consistently argued that the rally was not intended as a partisan political event, but as a public expression of support for the traditional family founded on Christian marriage.

Here’s my suggested apology:

I’m sorry you’re subscribed to an economic philosophy that has worked solely to impoverish millions around the world. I’m sorry you reject the traditional meaning of marriage and all the joy and security it brings to people and to nations. I’m sorry your social policies kill so many people and so many souls. I’m sorry you’ve chosen to reject God and the love He has for you. But, there’s still time to come back to Him and truly find the peace and happiness you wrongly think your failed policies can instill.

Hat Tip: The Cafeteria Is Closed

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Becomes Catholic

BBC NEWS | UK | Tony Blair joins Catholic faith

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has converted to the Catholic faith.

His wife Cherie is a Catholic and there had been speculation that he would convert to Catholicism from his Anglican faith after leaving office.

Mr Blair’s official spokesman confirmed he had converted on Friday night and said it was a private matter.

As has been rumored for years, (I discussed almost exactly six months ago), Mr. Blair has become a Catholic. While certainly glad to have him (and anyone reading this who’s not Catholic; talk to a priest today!), given some of his stances on issues (see my link in this paragraph), hopefully he’ll spend some time recognizing the wisdom of Church teaching in these areas and work to undo some of the damage his past support for policies in opposition to Church teaching has caused.