Economic Wisdom on Energy Policy by Thomas Sowell

12 05 2008

Thomas Sowell writes a valuable column on the topic of how politicians focus on emotional satisfaction of their constituents, while economists focus on the issues of supply and demand. See his Townhall column on the subject here….

http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/ThomasSowell/2008/05/13/too_complex?page=1

The energy issue of today is one of supply and demand as Dr. Sowell states here. Lets hope and pray that judicious economic reasoning and true statesmanship and leadeship wins out over emotional blame casting in our country’s energy policies.

Churchlayman

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Examining Crucial Flaws in the Scientific Methodology Used in Global Warming Forecasts

12 05 2008

Today politicians of both U.S. political parties are stating that a “scientific consensus” exists regarding the presence of global warming. However, objective scientific evidence exists regarding critical flaws in the scientific methodology used to develop the model based forecasts used to support global warming.

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Following is an Executive Summary of the National Center for Policy Analysis (http://www.ncpa.org/) report titled “Global Warming: Experts’ Opinions versus Scientific Forecasts” (full report available here) by Kesten Green and J. Scott Armstrong, published February 2008. This report was discussed in a more general manner in a previous post (here). Following the contents of the Executive Summary, some additional comments will be provided about the challenge of developing accurate forecasts from my perspective as an agricultural economist.

 

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Executive Summary:”Global Warming: Experts’ Opinions versus Scientific Forecasts”

National Center for Policy Analysis Report No. 308, by Kesten Green and J. Scott Armstrong

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Fourth Assessment Report. The report included predictions of big increases in average world temperatures by 2100, resulting in an increasingly rapid loss of the world’s glaciers and ice caps, a dramatic global sea level rise that would threaten low-lying coastal areas, the spread of tropical diseases, and severe drought and floods.

These dire predictions are not, however, the result of scientific forecasting; rather, they are the opinions of experts. Expert opinion on climate change has often been wrong. For instance, a search of headlines in the New York Times found the following:

Sept. 18, 1924 MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age

March 27, 1933 America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776

May 21, 1974 Scientists Ponder Why World’s Climate Is Changing:
A Major Cooling Widely Considered to be Inevitable

Problems with Computer Models. Climate scientists now use computer models, but there is no evidence that modeling improves the accuracy of predictions. For example, according to the models, the Earth should be warmer than actual measurements show it to be. Furthermore:

  • The General Circulation Models (GCMs) that are used failed to predict recent global average temperatures as accurately as fitting a simple curve to the historical data and extending it into the future.
  • The models forecast greater warming at higher altitudes in the tropics, whereas the data show the greatest warming has occurred at lower altitudes and at the poles.
  • Furthermore, individual models have produced widely different forecasts from the same initial conditions, and minor changes in assumptions can produce forecasts of global cooling.

Skepticism Among the Scientists. Thus it is not surprising that international surveys of climate scientists from 27 countries in 1996 and 2003 found growing skepticism over the accuracy of climate models. Of more than 1,060 respondents, only 35 percent agreed with the statement, “Climate models can accurately predict future climates,” whereas 47 percent disagreed.

Violations of Forecasting Principles. Forty internationally-known experts on forecasting methods and 123 expert reviewers codified evidence from research on forecasting into 140 principles. The empirically-validated principles are available in the Principles of Forecasting handbook and at forecastingprinciples.com. These principles were designed to be applicable to making forecasts about diverse physical, social and economic phenomena, from weather to consumer sales, from the spread of nonnative species to investment strategy, and from decisions in war to egg-hatching rates. They were applied to predicting the 2004 U.S. presidential election outcome and provided the most accurate forecast of the two-party vote split of any published forecast, and did so well ahead of election day (see polyvote.com).

The authors of this study used these forecasting principles to audit the IPCC report. They found that:

  • Out of the 140 forecasting principles, 127 principles are relevant to the procedures used to arrive at the climate projections in the IPCC report.
  • Of these 127, the methods described in the report violated 60 principles.
  • An additional 12 forecasting principles appear to be violated, and there is insufficient information in the report to assess the use of 38.
    As a result of these violations of forecasting principles, the forecasts in the IPCC report are invalid. Specifically:

The Data Are Unreliable. Temperature data is highly variable over time and space. Local proxy data of uncertain accuracy (such as ice cores and tree rings) must be used to infer past global temperatures. Even over the period during which thermometer data have been available, readings are not evenly spread across the globe and are often subject to local warming from increasing urbanization. As a consequence, the trend over time can be rising, falling or stable depending on the data sample chosen.

The Forecasting Models Are Unreliable.Complex forecasting methods are only accurate when there is little uncertainty about the data and the situation (in this case: how the climate system works), and causal variables can be forecast accurately. These conditions do not apply to climate forecasting. For example, a simple model that projected the effects of Pacific Ocean currents (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) by extrapolating past data into the future made more accurate three-month forecasts than 11 complex models. Every model performed poorly when forecasting further ahead.

The Forecasters Themselves Are Unreliable. Political considerations influence all stages of the IPCC process. For example, chapter by chapter drafts of the Fourth Assessment Report “Summary for Policymakers” were released months in advance of the full report, and the final version of the report was expressly written to reflect the language negotiated by political appointees to the IPCC. The conclusion of the audit is that there is no scientific forecast supporting the widespread belief in dangerous human-caused “global warming.” In fact, it has yet to be demonstrated that long-term forecasting of climate is possible.

(end of Executive Summary)

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(K-2 in the Himalayas)

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Following are my own opinions regarding the reliability of “model based forecasts”…..

Over the last decade or more much debate has occurred within the discipline of agricultural economics regarding the reliability of forecasts derived from econometric models. It is my understanding that at the present time within the discipline of economics (general economics as well as the agricultural branch of the discipline) model-based forecasts of the future are judged to be inherently problematic and prone to inaccuracy.

The difficulty that economists have in developing accurate forecasts is due at least in part to the challenges we have on the one hand in accurately modeling underlying economic processes. In addition, economists have found it difficult to accurately project future values of the key explanatory variables in these same models from which we hope to make exante conditional projections of future values the models’ dependent variables. In normal human speech, what I have just said is that it is important for economists to be extremely humble and cautious about the accuracy of forecasts of the future based on our economic modeling efforts. It is an extremely difficult task to first model economic reality, and then second, to attempt to make forecasts of the future based on your current understanding of underlying economic processes (represented by these same models). The processes themselves may change over time to go along with the fact that we often have inadequate understanding of the critical economic factors involved in such economic processes.

As an agricultural economist with at least a working knowledge of the inherent difficulties of using models to forecast such things as future grain prices, and realizing the need to identify if at all possible the confidence intervals within which any economic forecast may fall, it is extremely troubling to me to consider the “fast and loose” manner in which model-based forecasts of global warming impacts have been developed by climatologists. Problems exist with a) the climatological data being relied upon, b) with the climate models themselves that are being used in an attempt to accurately and comprehensively represent extremely complicated weather – environmental systems, and c) the evident bias in findings of such groups as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in selecting models that support their presuppositions about global warming without the required scientific rigor and discipline needed for such an economically and socially critical subject.

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There is much to ponder in regards to the “group think” being thrust upon the public in regards to Global Warming ideas and beliefs.

The Longer Term Risks to Universities of Ill-founded Climatological Forecasting Efforts

Academics should consider the risk of damage to their professional credibility that could occur if their climatological model forecasts of global warming impacts are proven wrong by the climate itself in 5, 10, 15 years. We in the university system appear to be entrusting ourselves to the findings of some very questionable climate change forecast model methodologies.

Will the public still be willing to support us as Universities if, after instituting costly “cap and trade” schemes and other “green” economic and environmental prescriptions motivated by our global warming supportive forecasts, the possibility of disruptive catastrophic energy supply shortfalls come to fruition and associated economic and social crises ensue? Given that the economic well-being of the U.S. economy and our very families are at stake, we as academics should be more prudent and judicious in adherence to our scientific principles in this matter of deriving forecasts supportive of global warming impacts. And, given that the scientific principles of forecasting appear to have not been adequately adhered to in the development of global warming-related climatological models, well, we have now placed ourselves in a very, very risky position indeed.

God help us to be wise and judicious and balanced in our scientific recommendations on the issues of climate change, global warming, and energy development.

Churchlayman

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Make Oil Not War (Via Balanced Energy Supply-Demand Policy)

4 05 2008

Following is some perspective on how market forces are driving the developed economies of the world toward market-driven solutions for the energy supply-demand problems the U.S. and the world faces. It offers good news from an intermediate to longer term viewpoint on the energy development. Investors Business Daily wrote the following editorial on Friday, May 2, 2008.

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=294621179926173

The Ship Turns

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, May 02, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Energy: Call it the paranoid theory of petroleum. Somehow, dark forces behind the scenes keep us from doing anything about soaring oil prices. In fact, something is being done to bring down oil prices. And you’re doing it.

For some, rising oil prices prove that oil companies and petrotyrants around the world must be in cahoots to create energy shortages. By that theory, we can do nothing about it. Eventually, government will have to step in. But in fact, even as our own dithering Congress refuses to help ease the energy crunch, things are already changing — thanks to you, the consumer, and you, the producer. That’s right: It’s the private sector that’s doing it.

One of the glories of a capitalist system is that price signals are allowed to work. When the price for a good rises, that means it’s in scarce supply. When the price falls, it’s relatively abundant. This signals to users and producers they must change their behavior.

For users, higher prices mean finding ways to do with less. For producers, they mean finding ways to produce more. The confluence of these two forces usually results in lower prices. This is what’s happening now with oil.

It’s true that the booming economies of China and India are sucking up ever more energy. But guess what? As the price of crude has soared from $30 a barrel to $50, then to $70 and past $100, we’ve all changed our behavior.

For oil companies, it has meant drilling for more oil. According to data from a variety of sources, world oil output has jumped by 11%, or 8.5 million barrels a day, since 2002, to 83 million barrels a day.

Contrary to the predictions of petro-paranoids, private oil companies are producing flat out — even though government entities such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the U.S. Congress work to keep prices high.

Fueled by the high prices, new sources of oil are being discovered. They include the 33-billion-barrel bonanza recently found off Brazil’s coast and other huge finds in the Caribbean and Asia.

The U.S. itself has 656 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 112 billion barrels of oil on federal lands alone — there for the taking if only Congress would allow it.

But even without it, we’re going gangbusters. As the American Petroleum Institute recently noted, “an estimated 4,577 (U.S.) oil wells were completed in the first quarter of 2008, up 12%” from last year and the highest rate since 1986. U.S. oil companies are going back to tapped-out wells and pumping oil that wasn’t economically recoverable at $25 a barrel but is at $100.

That’s the supply side. What about demand? U.S. fuel demand in the first three months of 2008 was down 1.4% from a year earlier — the third straight quarterly year-over-year decline in a row. Gasoline consumption has risen about 1.5% a year since 2000. But Energy Department data showed demand in the first quarter edging down for the first time in more than two decades. In short, the tide has turned.

The New York Times notes that U.S. car buyers have suddenly gone ga-ga over small cars. One in five purchases is now a compact or subcompact, while SUV sales are off 28%. “It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here,” said George Pipas, Ford Motor’s chief sales analyst.

So, even as Congress twiddles its thumbs, the private sector is doing its thing — adjusting to the market to make things better. The bad news is, there’s no guarantee that oil prices won’t go up more. The good news, as recent trends show, is that it won’t last.

(end of article)

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No man, or even a nation, is an economic island. Ideologically driven environmentalist groups such as the Sierra Club have worked to limit the development of oil resources in the U.S. and on its coastal waters. Still private energy companies have developed new oil reserves both in and outside of the U.S.. And U.S. consumers have sought to limit their oil-related living expenses by purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles.

Even with this positive news, the U.S. economy and our very way of life remains vulnerable to economic exploitation from OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in terms of artificially high petroleum prices. A little sabre rattling from a few Iranian gun boats in the Persian Gulf region causes worried oil markets to jump by $XXX per barrel (it is called a price premium due to supply risk & uncertainty).

To the degree that the U.S. has to rely on imported oil from the Middle East and other politically unstable areas of the world, our military forces will of necessity and on occaision need to be involved in combating potentially destabilizing political uprisings that threaten such oil supplies and our economic well being. At least part of the impetus for the U.S. to now be involved in Afganistan and Iraq and to have involved itself militarily in defending the oil supplies (i.e., the “interests”) of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the past, has been to ensure the uninterrupted steady supply of petroleum being sent to the U.S. to drive our economy.

For those of us who are for peace in the U.S. and in the world for that matter, it is inconceivable that anti-war advocates are not enthusiastic, committed supporters of a balanced U.S. energy policy…one that would support both energy conservation (progress in limiting demand) and the safe development of energy supplies in the U.S. (progress on expanding supply), It is unreasonable and short sighted of these groups to be against all forms of energy development as they reveal themselves to be. The answer of the reasonable people in our country needs to be YES to developing clean coal, safe nuclear power, natural gas, and enviromentally responsible development of domestic oil supplies in the continental U.S. – in the coastal waters, in Alaska (ANWR), and in the lower 48 states.

This issue needs to be looked at from the standpoint of the national good, not just from the presumptive narrow values and viewpoints of special interest groups. The U.S. public needs balanced, responsible leadership on policies affecting current and future energy supply and demand, rather than the unreasonable obstructionism being providd by the Sierra Club and the democratic leadership in the U.S. congress and some statehouses in the nation.

churchlayman





Time to Responsibly Develop ANWR for Vital Domestic Oil Supplies

1 05 2008

The competing perspectives on how the U.S. should deal with its energy situation are no more evident than right now. People with presuppositions leaning toward environmental activism and looming global warming / climate change catastrophe strongly resist almost any type of energy development in this county, whether it be nuclear, coal, oil… — even at times wind and bioenergy sources…regardless of the economic and national security costs to present and future generations of Americans. The only solution these groups will support is apparently energy conservation in the form of reduced energy consumption in cars, etc. To only deal with the energy demand side of the equation is an incomplete and unnecessarily restricted couse of action to address the problem. The government policy / regulatory tools espoused by these well-intentioned but misguided groups amount to taxes on profits of energy companies (the same profits that would go toward energy development and the development energy efficient technologies), schemes of carbon footprint “penalties” or “taxes” upon entities they judge to be carbon producers (which amount to income transfers to the federal government), and similar actions that seek to limit energy production and use without ever suggesting anything that actually produces more energy (increasing the supply). These groups used to support the production of bionergy, but have “turn tail and run” now that some criticism of bioenergy is emerging due to food price inflation (which bioenergy development is a contributor to but not the primary cause of).

The Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) can be responsibly developed to supply the U.S. with oil for decades into the future. See the following site for factual information on ANWR and how it can be responsibly developed…

http://www.anwr.org/

Following are 10 reasons for development of ANWR quoted from the www.anwr.org site:

Top ten reasons to support ANWR development

PDF Print E-mail
Arctic Winter Exploration
Arctic Winter Exploration

1. Only 8% of ANWR Would Be Considered for Exploration Only the 1.5 million acre or 8% on the northern coast of ANWR is being considered for development. The remaining 17.5 million acres or 92% of ANWR will remain permanently closed to any kind of development. If oil is discovered, less than 2000 acres of the over 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain would be affected. That¹s less than half of one percent of ANWR that would be affected by production activity.

2. Revenues to the State and Federal Treasury Federal revenues would be enhanced by billions of dollars from bonus bids, lease rentals, royalties and taxes. Estimates on bonus bids for ANWR by the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Interior for the first 5 years after Congressional approval are $4.2 billion. Royalty and tax estimates for the life of the 10-02 fields were estimated by the Office of Management and Budget from $152-237 billion.

3. Jobs To Be Created Between 250,000 and 735,000 ANWR jobs are estimated to be created by development of the Coastal Plain.

4. Economic Impact Between 1977 and 2004, North Slope oil field development and production activity contributed over $50 billion to the nations economy, directly impacting each state in the union.

5. America’s Best Chance for a Major Discovery The Coastal Plain of ANWR is America’s best possibility for the discovery of another giant “Prudhoe Bay-sized” oil and gas discovery in North America. U.S. Department of Interior estimates range from 9 to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

6. North Slope Production in Decline The North Slope oil fields currently provide the U.S. with nearly 16% of it’s domestic production and since 1988 this production has been on the decline. Peak production was reached in 1980 of two million barrels a day, but has been declining to a current level of 731,000 barrels a day.

7. Imported Oil Too Costly In 2007, the US imported an average of 60% of its oil and during certain months up to 64%. That equates to over $330 billion in oil imports. That’s $37.75 million per hour gone out of our economy! Factor in the cost to defend our imported oil, and the costs in jobs and industry sent abroad, the total would be nearly a trillion dollars.

8. No Negative Impact on Animals Oil and gas development and wildlife are successfully coexisting in Alaska ‘s arctic. For example, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd (CACH) which migrates through Prudhoe Bay has grown from 3000 animals to its current level of 32,000 animals. The arctic oil fields have very healthy brown bear, fox and bird populations equal to their surrounding areas.

9. Arctic Technology Advanced technology has greatly reduced the ‘footprint” of arctic oil development. If Prudhoe Bay were built today, the footprint would be 1,526 acres, 64% smaller.

10. Alaskans Support More than 75% of Alaskans favor exploration and production in ANWR. The democratically elected Alaska State Legislatures, congressional delegations, and Governors elected over the past 25 years have unanimously supported opening the Coastal Plain of ANWR. The Inupiat Eskimos who live in and near ANWR support onshore oil development on the Coastal Plain.

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Anti-ANWR development leaders such as Charles Schumer, Senator from New York, make an unsubstantiate claim that the oil supplies from ANWR would be very limited, and likely of short duration and insignificant in supplying U.S. energy needs. These arguments are unsubstantiated (see www.anwr.org) see the following information.

How much oil is in ANWR?

PDF Print E-mail
Coastal Plain of ANWR
Coastal Plain of ANWR

Geologists agree that the Coastal Plain has the nation’s best geologic prospects for major new onshore oil discoveries. According to the Department of Interior’s 1987 resource evaluation of ANWR’s Coastal Plain, there is a 95% chance that a ‘super field’ with 500 million barrels would be discovered. DOI also estimates that there exists a mean of 3.5 billion barrels, and a 5% chance that a large Prudhoe Bay type discovery would be made.

High potential. The high potential for significant discoveries of oil and gas in ANWR has long been recognized. Early explorers of the region at the turn of the century, found oil seeps and oil-stained sands. However, since ANWR was established in 1960, exploration in the region has been restricted to surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85). No exploratory drilling has been accomplished in the area except for one well commenced in the winter of 1984-85 on Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation lands southeast of Kaktovik on the Coastal Plain.

Location to big finds. Although little oil and gas exploration has taken place in ANWR, the Coastal Plain is believed to have economically recoverable oil resources. The Coastal Plain lies between two known major discovery areas. About 65 miles to the west of the Coastal Plain, the Prudhoe Bay, Lisburne, Endicott, Milne Point, and Kuparuk oil fields are currently in production. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil a day are produced from these fields, representing 25% of our domestic production. To the east of the Coastal Plain, major discoveries have been made in Canada, near the Mackenzie River Delta and in the Beaufort Sea.

U.S. Geological Survey – 1980. In 1980, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the Coastal Plain could contain up to 17 billion barrels of oil and 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

U.S. Department of Interior – 1987. After several years of surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), in its April, 1987 report on the oil and gas potential of the Coastal Plain, estimated that there are billions of barrels of oil to be discovered in the area. DOI estimates that “in-place resources” range from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranges from 600 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end. They also reported identifying 26 separate oil and gas prospects in the Coastal Plain that could each contain “super giant” fields (500 million barrels or more).

U.S. Geological Survey � 1998. The most recent petroleum assessment prepared by the USGS in 1998 (OFR 98-34), increased the estimate for technically recoverable mean crude oil resources. (See Oil in the ANWR? It�s Time to Find Out!)

Only drilling will tell. The geologic indicators are very favorable for the presence of significant oil and gas resources in ANWR, but the limited data means that there is a high level of uncertainty about how much oil and gas may be present. Consequently, current estimates represent the best scientific guesses. However, most geologists agree that the potential is on the order of billions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of recoverable gas and that these resources may rival or exceed the initial reserves at Prudhoe Bay. The validity of these estimates can be proved only by drilling exploratory wells. Authorization for exploration must be given by Congress and the President.

In 1996 the North Slope oil fields produced about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, or approximately 25 percent of the U.S. domestic production. However, Prudhoe Bay, which accounts for over half of North Slope production, began its decline in 1988, and no new fields have yet been discovered with the potential to compensate for that decline.

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Reasoned, objective, responsible reasons exist to develop the oil supplies available to the U.S. in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. This issue has become an article of faith among many pro-environmentalists -regardless of the real world consequences. To date it has been a triumph of emotion over reason that the U.S. has so limited its energy development.  Realistic, yet respectful, God honoring voices need to enter into the debate to come up with workable solutions.

The lack of objective responsibility among governmental leaders in regard to energy development has to be a major issue in upcoming elections for the state and national offices. The future economic sustainability and frankly, our national security depends on the election of responsible, conservative leadership in the U.S.

Churchlayman





Grain-Ethanol Development Viewpoints from Western Kansas

27 04 2008

Following are the contents of an email I sent to Mark Steyn, Conservative Political Columnist for the National Review. This email has to do with the impetus behind the development of bioenergy / grain based ethanol in the U.S.. A critical view of an over zealous, unbalanced, environmental activist centric policy in the U.S. is presented in this email.

So, “what does this have to do with a Christian World View?” you probably are asking. Well, Christians are called to be stewards of this world, and to responsibly provide for their families as well as to take part in wise, measured leadership in determining the direction of their country.

My perspective is that “stewardship” involves responsible use of resources. We are called to use the resources of a fallen sinful world in a wise manner for God’s glory. I dont think God calls us to worship this physical world – rather we are to responsibly use the resources God has provided for us to carry on the activities of our lives. Our Christian focus is better placed on how best to live this life than on extremist environmental policies that would severely damage our economy and ways of life.

We are called to be environmental stewards for the sake of this and succeeding generations. We are not called to have as our goal the preservation of the environment with an extreme, zero tolerance perspective toward human activities. Pro environmental policies can be carried out in a balanced manner, avoiding extremist anti-resource use practices. Oil, coal, hydo-electric power, nuclear power, and even bioenergy can be responsibly used in the portfolio of energy sources people and societies need to support economies and do the maximum possible good for mankind. The only way to meet the extreme environmental goals of some of my well intentioned fellow citizens is to seriously curtail the economic activity of the U.S. and other world economies. Then how much good would we as Christians be doing for others if we forfeit the opportunity to responsibly use God-given resources for the betterment of the needy of this world?

So, I hope this can be the start of a dialogue with other people who seek to bring their personal values and beliefs into the public square, and who are concerned about coming up with balanced, responsible directions for the social and economic future of this country and the world overall.

Churchlayman

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Mr. Steyn,

I certainly enjoy reading your writings, and would like to offer some comments on grain based ethanol for you to consider.

In my work I spend considerable time in grain marketing-related Extension outreach and applied research activities associated with grain-based ethanol. Our (i.e. the U.S. public) association with and investment in grain based ethanol is a bi-product of our country’s environmental / energy policies. IF U.S. environmental policies had not a) inhibited energy / oil exploration and development in the vast majority of the U.S.
continental shelf (except for parts of the Gulf of Mexico), b) stopped or greatly slowed energy exploration in and near Alaska (ANWAR, North Slope, other areas both on and off land), and c) mandated the use of
pollution diminishing fuel oxygenates on at least a seasonal basis in a number of our major cities, THEN the U.S. would likely now have access to greater domestic supplies of petroleum, and would not have needed to
develop grain-based U.S. ethanol production in the first place. The third point regarding fuel oxygenates is of greater importance than we realize, as MTBE was a product originally being promoted by oil companies as a competitive substitute for grain-based ethanol.

However, in the energy bill of 2005 (I believe that is right), the U.S. government did not extend liability coverage to MTBE for suspected pollution of groundwater supplies in many areas of the U.S. Consequently, when the oil companies found that their fuel oxygenate product (MTBE) was not going to be legally protected by U.S. energy policy, then rather than open themselves up to lawsuits upon lawsuits from environmental groups, they switched to the use of grain-based ethanol “en mass”, driving the dramatic profits and expansion of grain based ethanol in the U.S. beginning in October 2006.

There was a time when many of the critics of grain based ethanol were heralding it as a valued part of the solution to energy problems in the U.S. Now, these same environmental / green advocacy oriented concerns
are lining up to roundly criticize grain based ethanol production. So, just as politicians who were once for the Iraq war have now switched their positions to denounce it, we not have the same “turning of face and consensus” against bioenergy.

There is one factor that is under appreciated in regards to the impact of grain-based ethanol supplies upon the current gasoline market. Given the inflexible demand of U.S. consumers for fuel, the provision
of an extra 5%+ of domestically produced fuel has had a suppressing impact upon gasoline prices in the U.S. Restated, given a near vertical demand curve for automobile fuel in the U.S., the availability of an extra 5%+ of fuel supplies has a more than nominal impact upon fuel prices, helping to keep them lower than otherwise would have been the case.

So, I respectfully disagree with you in regards to complete condemnation of the grain-based ethanol industry in the U.S. These people (energy companies, farmer investors, state and local government policy-makers) were being good economic agents – they were following the economic incentives placed before them by a supply-inhibited oil market (due to environmentally motivated / obsessed constrictions on supply development), by clean air policy in major U.S. cities which motivated the use of oxygenated fuels, and by the risk of lawsuits faced by oil companies should they have continued to use the primary oxygenate fuel substitute for grain based ethanol, i.e., MTBE.

Thanks for your work in the conservative cause. On this issue I respectively disagree with you and would encourage you to search further into the issues motivating the development of grain-based ethanol. Finding an unbiased opinion on the matter is hard to do.

Now what to do about it – that is the question.

If I were the 60th vote in the senate for a day, I would essentially declare a moratorium of support for further ethanol development beyond the current 13-14 million gallons of productive capacity per year. Also, I would cast a wary eye upon the likelihood of economically effective cellulosic ethanol supplies – the economics are simply not supportive, and infact are markedly worse from an economic viability point of view than for grain based ethanol. Instead I would focus upon the building of consensus across a broad range of political constituencies and groups to allow further environmentally neutral development of U.S. and allied country oil supplies, with an accompanying / companion strategic initiative and focus upon increased energy
efficiency. The transition to greater energy/fuel efficiency and environmentally friendly development of available fossil fuel supplies has to be deliberate, paced and environmentally and economically reasonable. But the alternative path we are currently on is to wreck the U.S and Canadian economies with knee-jerk, ill planned, environmentally-biased, energy constraining policies.

Take care,

An Aggie in Northwest Kansas





To Repent and Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Easy Believe-ism vs Lordship Salvation)

1 10 2007

I became aware the the debate about lordship salvation around the time that John MacArthur and Charles Ryrie wrote their respective books on the issue. John F. MacArthur, Jr. wrote The Gospel According to Jesus (Zondervan:1988) supporting the concept of lordship salvation, while Charles C. Ryrie wrote So Great Salvation (Victor Books:1989) in general opposition to the idea. Following is a comparative review of the two books (leaning toward MacArthur it has to be fairly noted)

Lordship Salvation — Two Views http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/BookReviews/gospel.htm

By that time I had been a christian for about a decade, but not really mature enough in my christian life to understand the consequences of and focus upon the issue. However, I was aware of a situation in a local evangelical church where a teacher associated with a parachurch ministry was disciplined for having an extreme view of lordship salvation. The details were sketchy, but evidently in his evangelistic efforts this person was heavily focusing upon the lordship and personal sacrifice aspects of a person’s conversion to Christ in a manner that was unacceptable to the leadership of the apparently biblically sound evangelical church in the community.

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My theological leanings at that time were toward a “vigorous support and loyalty toward” the doctrinal positions of Dallas Theological Seminary in general (Drs. John Woolvord, Dwight Pentecost, Howard Hendricks, Ron Blue, Lewis Sperry Chafer, etc., etc.) and Dr. Charles Ryrie in particular. Whatever Dr. Ryrie stated in his study bible notes was my first choice in this and almost any theological matter at that stage in my christian life. So without critical examination of this issue and with strong loyalty to Ryrie’s study Bible notes (whose bible interpretations ministry I am still largely thankful for to guide me in my christian walk during the 1978-mid 1990s), I cast a “wary, critical eye” toward the positions of John MacArthur and others regarding lordship salvation.

During that time and up until 2-3 years ago, I also heard of very valid criticisms of “easy believe-ism“, the idea that people could come to faith in the Jesus Christ but not have to repent of sin in their lives, i.e., not live in accordance with His Lordship. The “bad fruit” of “easy-believe-ism” is in evidence where and when-ever anyone claims the be a believer in Jesus Christ but either shows no evidence of growth in Christ-like purity of life, or even worse, out-right denies or refuses to deny and separate themselves from sinful habits and acts in their life.

I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul in November 1978. As honestly as I can relate it to anyone, at that time I acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord – however I was woefully naive about the amount of “house cleaning” the Lord was about to begin doing in my sinful life given that now He was may Lord and Savior. First, I was convicted by God about the “shadiness” and in many cases sinfulness of my motives for going to bars, drinking alcohol, and engaging in common worldly forms of entertainment. Then came God’s work upon the purity of my thought-life and my language, and the acceptability before God of other attitudes (pride, covetousness, etc.) and actions in my life. So for me, I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ in November 1978, upon which the Lord immediately began an ongoing project (continuing to this day) of dealing with the sin in my life – working, working, working to build me up into the image of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:9-11). The extension of His Lordship over my life has been an issue of growth over time – I acknowledged without resistance His Lordship at my conversion, but the process of sanctification to realize His Lordship over me has been on going all these years.

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So, I understand that it is not possible to have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation and yet show no evidence of sanctification and abandonment of sin in one’s life. The Scripture speaks clearly of the need for and expectation that christians will forsake sin and seek to live holy pleasing lives before the Lord Jesus Christ. For the person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, conscious denial of His Lordship over all aspects of their life is a grevious sin and perilous state to be in before God. As His child, He will not allow us to harbor sin – either secret or public – without His initiation of a process of sanctifying purification. Brethren, we do not want this to occur to us! If there is sin in our lives, let us repent of it and seek God’s forgiveness – and forsake such sin with the Lord’s enablement (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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Following are some scriptures that may be of help to you in understanding the issue and in helping each of us to live in a more pleasing, less sinful manner before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Walk-Live by the Spirit’s Enablement in a Manner that is pleasing to God

Galations 5:16-26 “(16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (26) Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

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Repentance and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in Salvation

Acts 20:21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

Phillipians 3:7-9 “(7) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, (9) and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

Colossians 2:5-7 “(5) For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. (6) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (7) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 “(22) abstain from every form of evil. (23) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”

2 Peter 2:20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

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The Call to Holy Living by Jesus Christ to Those Who Would Follow Him

(At issue, is this only for disciples, or for every Christian. Brethren, how can it not be the call for every Christian to follow Christ in this manner?)

Luke 9:23-28 “(23) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (24) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (25) For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (26) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Luke 17:33 “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

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MacArthur’s Website (www.gty.org) has a number of references to this issue of Lordship Salvation that can be found via their website search function. My hope is that you will rely on God’s grace in your life with the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking to please Him in all respects.

Churchlayman

Colby in Western Kansas

 





God’s Holiness and Justice (Our Need for God’s Grace in Christ Jesus)

25 09 2007

Unger’s Bible Dictionary (1982, Moody Press) explains the holiness and justice of God in the following way (emphasis added mine):

Regarding God’s Holiness….

“Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil, and upon the other, absolute moral perfection. …. By the holiness of God, it is not implied that He is subject to some law or standard of moral excellence external to Himself, but that all moral law and perfection have their eternal and unchangeable basis in His own nature. He is the One in whom these eternal sanctities reside, Who is Himself the root and ground of them all. In this sense it is said without qualification, “There is no one holy like the LORD,..” 1 Samuel 2:2a; (and) “…For You alone are holy;…” Revelation 15:4

Regarding God’s Justice….

“It (justice) is a necessary outflow from the holiness of God. It is that in a positive form which is negatively described as holiness, or separateness from evil. And further, it is the holiness of God as manifested and applied to moral government. ….. The righteousness or justice of God, also like His holiness, is communicable to men. It is the work of divine grace to impart to men rightness by renewal “in righteousness and true holiness.”

Regarding the “communicableness” of Gods righteousness to mankind mentioned here, note the following Scripture passage:

  • Ephesians 4:20-24But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

J. I. Packer in Concise Theology (1993, Tyndale House Publishers) says this of God’s holiness and justice:

Regarding God’s Holiness….

“When Scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” … the word signifies everything about God that sets Him apart from us and makes Him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of His transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all His attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. Every facet of God’s nature and every aspect of His character may properly be spoken of as holy, just because it is His. The core of the concept, however, is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Habakkak 1:13 “”Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor….”) and thus calls sinners to constant self-abasement in His presence (Isaiah 6:5 “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”)

Regarding God’s Justice….

“Justice, which means doing in all circumstances things that are right, is one expression of God’s holiness. God displays His justice as legislator and judge, and also as promise-keeper and pardoner of sin. His moral law, requiring behavior that matches His own, is “holy, righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). He judges justly, according to actual desert (Genesis 18:25; Psalms 7:11; 96:13; Acts 17:31). His “wrath,” that is, His active judicial hostility to sin, is wholly just in its manifestations (Romans 2:5-16), and His particular ‘judgements’ (retributive punishments) are glorious and praiseworthy (Revelations 16:5, 7; 19:1-4). …. When God justifies sinners through faith in Christ, He does so on the basis of justice done, that is, the punishment of our sins in the person of Christ our substitute; thus the form taken by His justifying mercy shows Him to be utterly and totally just (Romans 3:25-26), and our justification itself is shown to be judicially justified.”

Justification by Faith in Jesus Christ….

  • Romans 3:21-26But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

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How can such serious truths as the holiness and justice of God be so lightly taken by we people, whether we live in Colby in western Kansas or elsewhere? We obviously are largely blinded to our sinfulness and accountability before the Holy God Who will judge this sinful world and with it all mankind in justice and righteousness. We do not realize the extent of the awful heinousness and total repulsiveness of our sin before God Almighty, and the penalty of judgement it will cost us (if we are not born again) or that it cost Jesus Christ on the Cross (if we are born again believers in Jesus Christ).

God, please open our eyes to understand our need for the blood atonement of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty (the propitiation) for our sins. For both born again Christians and unbelievers alike, may God open our eyes to understand our need for the grace of God. We need faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Eternity as well as the here and now regarding our lives are at stake! (Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.”)