From Dundee to Dan Andrews, the Fall of Oz

When we think of a country, we often conjure up a view of the character of its people. For example, Americans are individualistic and brash, the Japanese are collectivist and polite. It’s all nonsense. Each country’s population contains people with a range of temperaments and personalities.

Nonetheless, I consulted an organisation which claims to compare and scale cross-national cultural characteristics. I noticed that individualism was put at 91 for America yet only 46 for Japan. Preconception ticked. Australians, scoring 90 by the way, have built a reputation for being of a larrikin disposition; individualistic, disregarding of conventions. Probably started from our convict past, burnished through stories, true or false, of an irreverent attitude of soldiers to their officers in the two world wars. Crocodile Dundee brought the same attitude to the silver screen.

Let me say that when I first came to Australia from England, numbers of decades ago, there was a refreshing egalitarianism in society; akin, I think, to larrikinism. That was then. It has most definitely faded. Australia itself has changed profoundly. We are now much more multiethnic and multicultural. Whether this good or bad is incidental. It has changed the character of the nation.

Does that change in character of the nation account for the ludicrous response of government and health authorities in Australia to a virus which has killed so very few people compared with overall deaths from other causes?

Specifically, does it account for state border closures; banning citizens (à la North Korea) from leaving the country; preventing citizens from returning; keeping a child from its parents across a state border for weeks on end, preventing a daughter from visiting her dying father, handcuffing and arresting a pregnant woman in her own home for advising the time and location of a public protest; burly policemen wrestling women to the ground; using pepper sprays and rubber bullets on protestors in Melbourne; imposing curfews; putting troops on the streets; locking people in airless hotel rooms; and, beyond parody, Dan Andrews (the Victorian premier) ordering people not to demask while drinking their cocktails outside?

The answer to these questions is that the changing character of the nation might have played a small part. I don’t believe it played a large part at all. It’s complicated.

But to get mythology out of the way. It is clear that the (mostly) passive acceptance of the egregious overreaction to Covid on the part of the authorities has shown that the Australian population is not a race of larrikins bucking authority. Like any rule which fails the test, that particular romantic idealisation of national character is well and truly debunked. It cannot be resurrected. But was it ever true? I don’t think it was. Nor do I think Australia stands out in failing the test.

Individuals are powerless against the apparatus of the state. Where we see push back, trade unions are often instrumental. This is happening with opposition to requiring vaccine passports for employees in Australia as it is, for example, in the United States.

The twin keys to distinguishing one country from another in responding to Covid are leadership and circumstances. The liberal response of Sweden compared with the Denmark and Norway is purely down to leadership. Sweden by chance, I imagine, had an enlightened public health official and a prime minister willing to go along. No other country has been nearly so lucky.

Australia has been particularly unlucky. You might say that the population has the politicians it deserves. OK, but so do the Brits (Johnson), Americans (Biden), Canadians (Trudeau), French (Macron), Germans (Merkel). True, we have a mediocre bunch of like-minded state premiers (two of them Andrews and the Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk seemingly with undiagnosed personality disorders), and the prime minister is not much better; but that’s surely par for the international course. In the best of all possible worlds, they would have only done as badly as their overseas peers. That they are doing worse is down to circumstances, which have led Australian state premiers into a trap of their own making.

The trap was first set by Australia being an island continent. This gave the alluring, if delusional prospect, of keeping Covid out. Eradication or elimination became the goal, not merely flattening the curve. Backing this delusional prospect, Covid struck and the border closed before tens of thousands of Chinese students were due to return from China to Australian universities.

Only in the past week or so have the premiers of NSW (Gladys Berejiklian) and Victoria reluctantly conceded that Covid is here to stay. Mark McGowan, the premier of Western Australia, with zero new cases, still thinks he can keep Covid out of his state; and has his state border closed down. He's madder than Dan probably, but what can be done?

If elimination is the goal, lockdowns are imposed whenever cases get away from contact tracers and that doesn’t amount to many cases when the strain of Covid is highly infectious. When you have locked down for a hundred cases, it’s difficult to justify opening up when cases increase to two hundred. The trap springs shut.

And it's not as though the federal government can override the states. Australia is a federation. States have responsibility for public health and the ability to frustrate the federal government.

Each state premier did his or her polling. People liked the idea of being kept safe. Normally there might have been political or media opposition to impart perspective and lead people into having a less cowed more stoical response. Not so with Covid. And there is no financial burden to speak of on state governments locking down their states. State governments don’t levy their own income taxes or sales taxes. Their revenue primarily comes from the feds.

When states lock down the federal government funds people and businesses affected. Could the federal government do otherwise? Theoretically. But not with federal elections every three years it couldn’t.

The fanaticism of state governments in trying to eliminate Covid bled over to law enforcement. As we know police have enormous powers. And, as a fact of life, there are some within police forces prone to misusing them. Effectively, licence was given to such misuse by the stance and demeanour of state premiers. The woeful 1984-type encouragement of citizens to dob in one another for breaking Covid rules – having friends over, travelling too far, being unmasked (fine $500 in NSW) – is a particularly pernicious by-product. Part of the disintegration of civil society when put to the test.

My conclusion: Covid has revealed the nasty underbelly of the western world’s so-called system of limited government. Only limited in good times. Nowhere has this been greater exposed than in Oz.

From the Government and Here to Help

The U.K. government apparently plans to install 600,000 heat pumps per year into British homes to replace ‘polluting’ gas. No such plans have yet been announced in Australia. Gas heating is used less here than in colder climates. Nevertheless, natural gas is a popular enough form of heating. I have it in my flat. For how long, who knows? The Australian government is sidling its way into the net-zero-by-2050 club. Perforce, setting in train all manner of even more unnatural things than erecting monstrous wind farms.

But what things? There’s the rub. Choices to be made. And, ominously, in the keeping of government.

I viewed one of those Grand Designs TV programs from England. The guy building his innovative house was a green-minded engineer, intent on warming his heavily-insulated house via heat extracted from underground. When finished he pointed to the temperature on his hand-held thermometer with some pride. He had managed to warm his spacious living room to an ambient temperature of 16°C (61°F). His wife in the background looked unimpressed. But that’s his problem not ours.

Build your own igloo! It's easy if you try. Sort of.

Spent his own money. Got a cold house. His choice alone. It’s a whole different kettle of fish when government decides on a particular technical and engineering solution and goes about mandating and subsidising its wholesale implementation. So unfolds a process so fraught with risk that it defies belief that governments could be so foolhardy. Doesn’t it? Not really.

When the economic recession was raging in 2009, the Australian Labor government under Kevin Rudd decided to embark on a range of so-called stimulatory measures. All failed miserably but one stood out. This was the so-called “pink-batts” scheme. The government decide to provide free ceiling insulation batts to anyone who wanted them. This killed two birds with one stone you understand. First, the insulation industry would be stimulated. Second, global warming would be dealt a blow.

Sadly, the outcome did not go according to plan. An aging rocker Peter Garret, finding a second life as a politician, was the government minister in charge; satisfying the requirement (if you’ve ever seen the British TV series Yes Minister) of having no relevant expertise or experience. The existing insulation industry was ruined as main chancers became installers overnight. Imports of insulation batts from China soared; stimulating their manufacturing not ours.

Three untrained installers were electrocuted, another died of hypothermia, several others suffered third-degree burns and ninety-four houses caught fire. The scheme was abruptly closed down. Millions upon millions of insulation batts lay unwanted in warehouses.

Or, you could be warmer. Maybe.

Governments doing silly things with vast amounts of taxpayers’ money is not a rarity. However, hold onto your hats, we ain’t’ seen nothing yet. Unparalleled, climate-combatting catastrophes lie ahead. They’re inevitable. Conditions are ripe. Governments want action. Free markets won’t deliver. This means governments must make choices among alternatives, often mutually exclusive alternatives, armed with insufficient information and foresight; and without the guidance of market prices. What could possibly go wrong? Most everything.

Replacing gas heaters in millions of homes with heat pumps is a huge and irreversible exercise. Too bad if better technological and engineering solutions arise. Of course, when put together with the need to insulate the same number of homes, else rampant hypothermia among the aging, it will prove impossible to accomplish. Nevertheless, if you studiously don’t do the sums in advance, keep blinkered and myopic, there is no telling how far down the road you can get and how much damage you can do before everything falls apart. Look at the pink-batts scheme for a mere taste of the thrilling ride ahead.

Of course, heat pumps are a very small part of governments’ efforts to cure global warming by undoing prosperity. Take electric vehicles.  Figures from the International Energy Agency show transport, almost completely fueled by refined petroleum, accounting for 35 percent of total energy usage in 'selected economies' in 2018.  Passenger cars make up two-thirds of that.  Residential space heating came in at only 11 percent in comparison.

Leave aside the feasibility, practicability, and affordability of extracting and processing the materials required to manufacture sufficient numbers of batteries; never mind their later disposal. It’s the charging of them that’s so much the bigger challenge.

Unfortunately, electric vehicles cannot work their way gradually to a position of dominance and then universality. Not without ubiquitous charging infrastructure. And ‘gradually’, in any event, is not the right word for the wet dreams of woke politicians.

Joe Biden wants half of all cars sold in the United States to be electric, fuel cell, or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2030. Justin Trudeau has set a date of 2035 for new cars and light-duty trucks to be zero-emission. Boris Johnson wants to ban the sale of new conventionally fueled cars by 2030 and hybrids by 2035. And, think, Glasgow’s on the horizon to steel their reveries.

So easy even Joe Biden can do it. Almost.

Imagine what will be required to support electric vehicles in a zero-emission world. Where is the power to come from? I have seen estimates which suggest that up to 50 percent more electric power will be required. My rough calculation, based on figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, suggest that it might be quite a bit more than that. And this, when dispatchable power (sourced from coal and natural gas) is gone and largely replaced with unreliable and intermittent power from wind and solar. Literally incredible.

Then there’s the charging infrastructure. Untold numbers of charging stations and the upgraded substations and cabling required to support them. For comparison purposes, there are around 150,000 gas stations in the United States.

To fill up now takes about five minutes. Currently the fastest charger takes 30 minutes to give your car about 200 miles. Presumably that is so inconvenient that charging technology will drive the time down to something bearable, if batteries can handle it.

Let’s realise what’s happening here. Intensive-energy petroleum (what a boon to human progress) gives out its power incrementally over the whole journey. Whereas, all of that same power and more must be delivered into batteries inside some minutes; multiplied by millions of vehicles. Has anyone in any western government done the sums?

Governments are making an irreversible choice. Spending billions upon billions of dollars and committing untold resources to bring about their currently favoured means of propelling vehicles. They didn’t choose petroleum back near the turn of the 20th century; the market did. And the difference that makes, we’ll discover painfully.

'I Am Covid, Destroyer of Oz'

Curfews, the army on the streets, extra police powers, rubber bullets. Mogadishu? No, it's Australia. Though, to be fair, rubber bullets have been confined so far to Melbourne. Apparently, those protesting lockdowns got a bit unruly. Bring out the Stormtroopers. And note, so far to August 21, there have been only 978 reported deaths from Covid-19, while since the first Covid death in March 2020 well over 200,000 Australians have died, publicly unmourned, from other causes. Perspective defenestrated.

Australia right now is a poster child for how western civilisation and all we hold dear can quickly go down the gurgler. What do we most hold dear? Our freedoms. Make those freedoms privileges, dispensed at will and whim by government. See people go along with it. Welcome to the servile state. True some people, relatively few in number, do protest. But hefty fines, jail time and, if necessary, rubber bullets will keep dissidents in check. It worked in East Germany, didn’t it?

I will digress for a purpose. Don’t want to get into Jane Fonda’s head. It’s probably a tangle of leftism in there which is best to avoid. I will say that she is the best looking eighty-three-year-old I’ve ever seen. So, unless she has a Doriana Gray portrait in the backroom, I can’t help but feel that her motives have been and are good. Misguided and bad are not synonymous. And even those who are misguided can be occasionally right. And so has she been.

As she rightly said, Covid is a gift to the Left. Whether it’s God’s gift we can argue about. Though, as a Christian, I do believe in predestination, hence it’s not unreasonable to assume that Covid is serving some celestial purpose. Personally, I doubt that purpose is to produce an earthly communist nirvana. At the same time, there is little doubt that those on the left feel a Chris-Matthews-type thrill going up their legs when surveying the havoc which Covid is bringing down on Western civilisation.

After all, if your objective is to remake civilisation in the image of a Marxist utopia, you first have to tear down what’s there. And that means undoing individual freedoms, before the presumed interests of the collective can be put in their place.

Been there, done that.

Ironically, the freedoms of Western civilisation can be more easily taken away because of the prosperity which those very freedoms have underpinned. People can be locked away and businesses closed down yet still everybody can be well fed. Well-fed citizens are less prone to rebellion.

Marx and Engels might have been right after all. Communism, aka The Great Reset, aka Inclusive or Cooperative or "Woke" capitalism, aka “building back fairer and better,” will potentially supersede free-market capitalism on the back of the material riches that individual freedoms have wrought. Hope not, but that’s the way it feels right now as I contemplate the outdoor mask mandate, which comes into effect right now, to supplement rules which restrict me from travelling not more than 5 kms from home and to one essential shopping trip each day. Talking to other people is largely verboten.

One of my sons-in-law runs a carpet repair business. He has established rules which he hopes will allow him to continue to earn a living. For example, customers can make arrangements to leave their keys in a particular spot so that the repairers can enter and do the job while the occupants either leave home or ensconce themselves in another room. Being contactless is the key to survival in this brave new world.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the strata committee of the apartment building where I live in Sydney has just announced that renovations to two apartments cannot resume because zero contact between workers and residents in common areas can’t be guaranteed. Imagine the effect of this abundance of playing it safe across all apartment buildings – on electricians, plumbers, tradesmen generally, never mind the anguish of those living in apartments with half-renovated kitchens and bathrooms.

Not too close!

Mind you, the nervousness of our strata committee might be justified. “Special powers” have been given to the New South Wales police force “to lockdown apartment buildings while health assesses the Covid risk [and] to declare a residential premise a Covid-risk premise and require all people to present to police during compliance checks.”

Like the "Delta variant," the madness spreads. From health bureaucrats, to politicians, to the media, to the police, to strata committees, and of course, to scolds on the streets. Hard to remember what it was like in the B.C. (Before Covid) era. “Yes son, we didn’t wear masks then and we used to mix with and talk freely to other people. It was all very unhealthy. Now the government keeps us safe.”

A caveat. Might be feeling too down Down Under. Here there is no countervailing view of any weight. All political leaders are as one. No Red states. No Ron DeSantis. Maybe we have to rely yet again on America to save western civilisation and put this nightmare behind us?

Those Covid Vaccines: Blessing or Curse?

Don’t want to get too provocative but wouldn’t it have been better if the vaccines hadn’t appeared at warp speed? Or appeared at all? At least these improvised vaccines. Many more people would have died, millions perhaps, is the official line. I am certainly not in favour of deaths. And maybe the official line is correct, and my questioning is wayward. It could be. I don’t know.

Let me start at a conceptual level with two propositions; neither of which should be particularly contentious. First, correlation is not the same thing as causation. Second, as the French political economist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) put it, adverse unseen effects of policies and actions, collateral damage if you like, often dwarf seen effects. To the first proposition:

Public Health England produces regular and updated information on the virus and vaccinations in England. Its Covid-19 vaccine surveillance report for week 32 (Aug 12, 2021), claimed, based on modelling, that “84,600 deaths and 23,395,000 infections have been prevented [up to 6 August] as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.”

Possibly, but only 60,000 lives saved (to 23 July) were claimed in the previous report, quite a jump; and recall Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College modelling back in March 2020, which grossly exaggerated the likely deaths from Covid-19; and keep in mind also those “over-heating” climate models.

Trust the science.

Modelling of complex real phenomena is always tenuous. Have all relevant variables been included, logged as appropriate, and measured accurately? Have all irrelevant, distracting variables been omitted? There is no way of knowing. Moreover, when modelling says that the change in one variable is caused by the change in another, we know that the two are correlated. Models are not magical. Correlation is everything.

Suppose an expensive large-scale vaccination program was put in place and after a time there was an observed fall in infections and in the rate of hospitalisations and deaths per infection. You would need a very clever, and non-confirmation-biased, model not to show a strong causal connection. But there are other possible contributors.

The virus might have become less pathogenic through time as viruses generally do. Perhaps the cohort of the population particularly susceptible to the virus caught it in the early waves before the vaccinations became available or widespread. Perhaps spring and summer in the northern hemisphere has contributed to an attenuation of the virus’s virulence.

Bear in mind I am not at all saying that the vaccinations don’t work. The question is how effectively and for how long? Any hypothesis that they don’t work nearly well enough has been undercut by correlation. The vaccines are now somewhat bullet proof. Yet cases are rising again. For example, the rise in cases in the U.K. and Israel is put down to immunity waning and the consequential need for booster jabs. Those vaccinated can still catch the virus and pass it on. Conclusion: need for a booster jab. According to a CDC study and Public Health England, the viral load of those vaccinated who catch the virus is about equal to those unvaccinated. Conclusion: need for a booster jab.

Booster jabs and tinkering with the vaccines may well become the public-health objective. Slipping into the shadows will be the objective of preventing serious illness and deaths. It’s called “Solutioneering” after the philosopher Roger James. Means become ends.

They can't hurt, they might help.

Without vaccines much more focus would have been put on treatments. Natural immunity and treatments (even discounting the politically unacceptable ones like Ivermectin and HCQ due to their association with the dreaded Donald Trump) might well have put us in a better place right now. Of course, it’s counter-factual. There is no way of knowing. What we know is that boosters will be on offer. And maybe as frequently as every six months, judging by the success the virus is having in surviving the first round of vaccines.

Is there a way out? There is. It depends on the virus. We need the virus to become adept at infecting the vaccinated while becoming progressively less lethal. There has been speculation to that effect in the U.K. Natural selection might work in our favour. Mind you, a terrible outcome of a more deadly virus circumventing vaccines isn't worth thinking about, so I won't.

Vaccinations need to be seen as becoming redundant, despite any kicking and screaming from drug companies. Absent this outcome, the incipient collateral damage from vaccine dependency will become endemic. What will that look like?

First, loss of freedom. Vaccines are shepherding in identity papers. Worse, in this digital age, they’re shepherding in Big Brother. There will be data bases. They will know where you’ve been.

Media shills maintain that this is no different in principle from needing a yellow fever jab to travel to certain tropical places. Or, from parents effectively being obliged to ensure their children have certain prescribed vaccinations. No, these requirements are not remotely in the same ballpark as burdening the ordinary business of life with a need to establish one’s medical credentials before entering football stadiums, night clubs, shopping centres, churches, trains, buses and the like.

Second, division; to wit, effectively, medical apartheid. Extraordinarily, some putative conservative commentators are pushing the line that the way out of lockdowns is to provide those vaccinated with normal freedoms.  Implicitly that means denying those same God-given freedoms to the unvaccinated. How long before the unvaccinated need to wear badges? Here in Australia you can see numbers of them on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News.

What could go wrong?

Third, degradation of human interaction. Vaccines which don’t prevent infection and transmission, point to continuing mask mandates. We know those on the left love masks. They will need little reason to insist we keep wearing them.

“Approximately 60-65% of all meaning in human encounters derives from non-verbal clues,” according to an article by Burgoon and Hoobler in the Handbook of Interpersonal Communication, 2002."The nonverbal component of the communication process is as important to the teacher/student relationship as the verbal component and often much more so," according McCroskey and Payne in Nonverbal Behaviour in Interpersonal Relations, 1991. It's not contentious. Covering faces, masking, is no small imposition. It's a crippling one.

The response of governments to Covid has already severely damaged human well-being. Continual rounds of vaccinations and all that goes with them is a road to a sickening future. Ripping the agenda out of the hands of public health officials is one key to a better future. More political leaders like Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Fewer sell-out conservatives in the media. But more than anything,  a relatively benign, highly transmissible, virus mutation for which vaccinations have no answer.

In Locked-Down Australia, Bad News Good, Good News Bad

Disdain for the progressive media cuts me off from 95 percent and more of news commentary. Luckily, from very little that’s true or uplifting. How do I know, you might ask, if I don’t read or watch it? Well, I have to admit to occasionally refreshing my disdain.

Living in the hermit kingdom of Sydney under yet another dystopian Covid stay-at-home order, replete with troops on the streets, I had time on my hands and switched idly from watching Fox News to BBC World News. As it happened, the presenter was interviewing Professor John Thwaites, chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and of Climate Works Australia; a professional climate alarmistWhy was Thwaites being interviewed? Basically, to add to the gloating about Australia earning a wooden spoon; having been awarded last place in taking “climate action,” according to a U.N. sponsored report.

Notice something about those alarmed by the impending climate catastrophe. They get immeasurable sanctimonious pleasure from bad news. Whether it is bush fires, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.; or, as I will come to later, coral bleaching. Bad news is good news for them.

A face only a mother could love: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The report, issued by a bunch of economists calling themselves Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), evaluated the “sustainable development” performance of almost 200 countries across 17 categories; climate action being one of the categories. Oh yes, I should mention, Thwaites is one of the co-chairs of a council overseeing the work of SDSN.

Climate action, we are informed by SDSN, is judged on four criteria: CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production; CO2 emissions embodied in imports and, separately, in exports; and progress in implementing carbon pricing. Being the second largest coal exporter obviously didn’t do Australia any favours. At the same time, I can’t work out how Australia managed to beat Indonesia, the exporter of the largest amount of coal, and China, the builder of most new coal-power stations, into last place.

Last in terms of taking climate action, really? Those disquieting reports of wind and solar farms being built across the Australian landscape must be gross exaggerations. I looked at some numbers. To wit, per capita generation of electricity from wind plus sun in 2020. Lo and behold, Australia (1584 KWH) outdid the USA (1421 KWH), the UK (1284 KWH), Canada (1006 KWH) and China (505 KWH). I’m beginning to feel aggrieved that our magnificent achievement in erecting ugly, inefficient and intermittent energy totems is not being sufficiently appreciated.

I think the U.N. and their hangers-on have it in for Australia because we won’t agree to go along with the globally-woke in-crowd and voice commitment to zero-net emissions by 2050. My advice to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is to just say it. You know you want to but for those few pesky conservatives still clinging on in your party room. And, best of all, you don’t have to mean it, nobody else does. Nobody else has a clue about how to get there either.

Morrison: good thing he's a "conservative."

Coming last on climate action was compounded by more bad news. Or, was it? And then there was relief from good news. Or, was it? Again, it all depends on your point of view.

UNESCO threatened to declare the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) “in danger;” which would give this highly politicised and compromised organisation license to busy-body itself into Australia’s climate affairs. You might recall that Donald Trump sensibly withdrew the United States from UNESCO. Not a chance Australia will have the gumption to follow suit.

A first view was that China put UNESCO up to it. Australia is firmly in Xi Jinping’s bad books for wanting an inquiry into the Wuhan lab, among other wanton anti-Chinese provocations from another of America’s running dogs. Though it turns out that hypocritical oil and gas exporter, pipsqueak Norway (pop. 5½ million) was the principal party behind it.

Anyway, Australia’s marine scientists were overjoyed at this “bad news.” Nothing they would like better than the reef being declared in danger. After all, they have spent decades foreshadowing its imminent demise. Keeping the research funds coming depends on keeping the reef endangered.

Then just as things were going swimmingly, ill-timed “good news” from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). It reported an upsurge in coral on the reef. Whether it’s the Northern part of the reef (up 27 percent since 2018/19), Central (up 26 percent), or Southern (up 39 percent), it’s all on the up and up. And that indeed was “bad news” for marine scientists, coming shortly before UNESCO was to pronounce judgement. Sure enough, UNESCO backed off, for now.

Peter Ridd, former professor at James Cook University, and expert on the reef, averred that coral on parts of the GBR was at a “record level” (The Australian 23 July, paywalled). The real danger he said is that the coral, as a matter of normal course, will fall from this record level, providing a fresh pretext for alarmism. But then he’s an outcast. He criticised the quality of his colleagues’ scientific research on the reef in 2017; maintaining that the reef was robust and healthy. He was sacked in 2018. Toe the party line or be cancelled.

His case for unfair dismissal has now reached the Australian High Court and will be decided shortly. At stake is the free speech of a dwindling sub-species: academics wedded to evidence rather than to an activist agenda.

We're still all right, mate!

And, as for the evidence on the state of the GBR? It’s unequivocal. The reef’s blooming. Ridd has been proved right. Ergo, those who’ve been relentlessly propagating scare stories recanted? Wrong! They immediately went into face-saving mode. Some examples.

Coral reef scientist Susan Ward: “another heat wave could wipe away this good progress.” Marine scientists James Cook and Scott Heron: “signs of recovery should not distract from the underlying threat to the reef.” And here is chief executive of AIMS Paul Hardisty, no doubt feeling guilty about his organisation’s upbeat report: “There is some encouraging news in this report and another good year would continue the recovery process, but we also have to accept the increasing risk of marine heatwaves that can lead to coral bleaching and the need for the world to reduce carbon emissions.”

There it is. When bad news is good news and good news bad. This is the perverted worldview I prefer not to have streamed into my living room, as I said at the start.

The Church of Global Warming Will Now Come to Order

Intercessional prayers at my local Anglican church never fail include asking for God’s help in tackling climate change. Suppose I was to ask those expressing concern about climate change whether their concern was related to increased water vapour in the atmosphere, caused by warming engendered by CO2 emissions from burning hydrocarbons fuels; and which, in turn, markedly multiplied the initial warming effect of CO2. If I were ever to ask this question, the odds are that I would get a blank look.

Understandably, people have little knowledge of climate science. And when I say people, I include most politicians, media commentators, Greta Thunberg, Prince Charles, David Attenborough even and, being brutally honest, me too.

Poor sods like me are easily bamboozled by science. The IPCC brigade know that. You might recall “the science is settled” catchcry being used to quell dissent among the hoi polloi. However, such a contradiction in terms proved to be too laughable to survive and it’s now never heard. Nevertheless, to put it mildly, debate is not encouraged. Scientists in institutional settings risk being cancelled for questioning any aspect of the received wisdom. Best to be retired before voicing a discordant opinion.

So we're all agreed then?

The problem is that climate science is no longer in the backroom; delving into esoterica remote from the everyday lives of people in the street. The catholic church stuck too long with Ptolemy’s geocentric theory of the solar system. But, really, did this matter much for trade and commerce? No, it didn’t. That doesn’t apply in this case. In this case, science is in process, through the agency of governments, of upturning the world. And we are told not to ask awkward questions.

After a while, I thought, let them have their theory. The important thing is what’s being done about it. If they would support nuclear energy, then let’s swallow hard and go along with it. For example, you can easily come away with that point of view from reading Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never. It is a grave mistake.

We are not dealing with rationale beings. For instance, consider AOC and her fellow supporters of the Green New Deal. To them, climate change is a gateway to a brave new world. And that’s not to a world of efficient, affordable, zero-emission nuclear energy. That’s anathema to them. They want to remake society into an inclusive (white men excepted), equitable, diverse, green, nirvana. In reality it would be a Marxist-like hellhole but, hey, they have the best of intentions. Hmm? I wonder. Did Stalin have good intentions?

Our calculations are irrefutable!

For us there is no option. We must go back to the beginning and do “violence” to their inviolable scientific premise. With this in mind, I was attracted to a recent essay I might otherwise have put into the too-hard basket. By Christopher Monckton, it was put up on the site Watts Up With That?

Albeit colourful, Monckton’s a clever guy. Saw him speak in Sydney maybe fifteen or so years ago. I believe, at the time, he described global warming as a monstrous hoax. I don’t think he’s changed his mind. But to his essay. I can’t warrant its worth. I can say, with approval, that it tackles the science. I found it interesting. This is his thesis in summary point form for easy digestion.

In a nutshell, Monckton’s claim is that all of the heat of the earth is complicit in generating feedback warming not just the 8.5 K down to greenhouse gasses. It would explain why model predictions have overegged anthropogenic warming and markedly overshot actual temperatures. Does he have a point? I might have mentioned. Science is not my forte. However, I do believe that science is the turf on which the battle must be reengaged and fought.

Global warming alarmism is like a deep-rooted infection. You’re not going to cure it by trying to make its manifestation more benign. As we speak, parasite upon parasite is gnawing on the supine body-politic of our peerless civilization.

That's the ticket!

Want evidence of these parasites? Look at gargantuan wind turbines, at massive solar farms, at electric cars, at zillions of lithium batteries, at pumped-hydro ventures, at green hydrogen escapades. And what about replacing gas for heating tens of millions of European homes with wind and solar driven electric heat pumps supplementing geo-thermal energy extracted, say, from flooded disused underground coal mines. What could be simpler?

Parasitical boondoggles one and all. Sucking on the taxpayer teat. None able to stand on its own two feet in the marketplace. They will enfeeble us and eventually may lead, one way or another, to our demise.

The received scientific wisdom is wrong. We know that because all of its predictions have been wrong. Normally that would have been sufficient to down the theory. Not this time. Vested interest is at play among institutional scientists, politicians and the aforementioned commercial parasites.

Vested interest is powerful. Some churchmen and papal-court astronomers kept Ptolemaic theory on life support. But it eventually succumbed. Got to keep on. Truth will out. And hopefully, before it is too late.

Whom to Believe: Big Brother or Your Lying Eyes?

Professor emeritus Ivan Kennedy, faculty of science at Sydney University, tells me he has been doing some work on the effect of turbulence engendered by wind turbines. Among other things, he hypothesizes that this may have a drying effect extending beyond the immediate area. The outcomes: a fall in the productivity of arable land and more water vapour in the atmosphere.

You’ll note, I said, he hypothesizes. Importantly, he also points out that his theory is testable using technology such as ground-based sensors and satellites. Being a scientist of the old school, he doesn’t rush to conclusions even provisional ones. Greenies are not nearly so constrained; operating comfortably in fact-free zones.

As an exercise, let me take each of the two hypothesized outcomes in turn and see where they lead. You will see that they lead realists (putting modesty aside) like us, and greenies in diametrically opposite directions.

Let us suppose there is a measurable fall in the moisture in agricultural land surrounding wind farms. Our take: build fewer wind turbines near agricultural land. (Build none at all actually but you get my drift.) Their take: climate change is causing droughts. Build more turbines.

Build fewer, senor. No, Sancho, build more.

Water vapour is by far the dominant greenhouse gas. Suppose it is found that the uplift of water vapour is greater, the nearer are turbines to bodies of water; those, particularly, in seas or close to irrigated areas. Our take: build fewer turbines close to water. Theirs, CO2 is causing the oceans to warm. Hence more water vapour. Build more turbines.

The bitter or delicious irony, depending where you stand, is that the more deleterious effects turbines have on the natural world, the more must be built to counter such effects. Wind turbines, and solar panels too, are bulletproof. They both make lots of money for powerful people and big businesses and, not least, for China. And they appeal to the gullible; who, at whatever cost to reason and the public purse, see them combatting the imminent imaginary climate Armageddon.

Even despoiling landscapes and seascapes hardly rates a mention now that Prince Phillip is not around to express his displeasure in his own blunt way. In case you've missed it, Prince Charles is not a chip of the old block. Mind you, that aside, alarms have been raised about the enormous quantity of materials and energy required for the manufacture of turbines and solar panels; for their use of rare earths; their relatively short life spans; and the problem of their disposal. Really? Among whom?

OK, only among those who deal in facts. In other words, not among the much vaster number of people, including government ministers and their apparatchiks throughout the Western world, who deal in fancies. Among the minority who deal in facts is Mark Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. If you haven’t already, it is well worth while keying in to his presentation on February 9, 2021 to the U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. Here’s just a taste:

As Mills explains, while the minerals required are there, digging them up will be daunting and pricey. Count among the costs: environmental degradation; increased threats to the West’s national security in view of China’s dominance in many of the supply chains; the use of child labour in countries not so sensitive to human rights; the massive amounts of energy required to mine, transport and process these exotic minerals; and, the bottom line, the demise of reliable and affordable hydrocarbon power.

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On hearing all of this, the Democrat members of the subcommittee, including the chairman Paul Tonko (NY), recanted and became RE-skeptics overnight. I’m fabulising. Inconvenient facts don’t impact dullards or zealots.

Prof. Kennedy’s hypothesis might be true. So what? It would just sit atop of the existing enormous pile of inconvenient facts. Rafe Champion, another friend fond of facts, continually pesters Australian politicians, all 837 of them in this over-governed land, about the inconstancy of wind. No wind no power, he says. Follow up tricky question: if it takes 1,000 turbines to power a particular town when the wind is blowing, how many turbines does it take when the wind isn’t blowing? Alas, arithmetic isn’t the strong suit of the political class; except, that is, when counting prospective votes.

It took exquisite torture on the part of O’Brien to convince Winston Smith that two plus two equals five. Childs play for greenies. To wit, when the wind stops blowing a big battery can take over, they claim, with the conviction of megalomaniacs.

One of the biggest lithium battery installations in the world at Hornsdale in South Australia can reportedly deliver 194 MW for an hour. Though electricity usage has spiked above 4,000MW, South Australia (pop. 1.8 million) generally uses from 1,000MW to 2,500MW depending on the time of day and season. Ergo, the battery would generally run out in 12 to 5 minutes if required to take over.

Mind you, as deluded as they are, look at us. We persist in using logic, facts and figures. Might as well babble for all the influence we have. And then again, what else is there to do? We are condemned, Sisyphus-like, to make the same arguments over and over again. Captors, as we are, of reality.

The one saving: real life is our pal. As the paranoid delusions and lies increasingly hit the road they’ll be undone. For example, when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining that illustrative town I mentioned will last ten minutes or so on batteries before the lights go out. QED.

Sailing Into the Abyss

The year is 2013. I am a passenger on a container ship as it voyages for twenty-seven days from Hong Kong to Southampton. Magellan, the third largest container ship in the world, is powered by a huge engine, equalled in size by only one other in the merchant fleet. For the mechanically minded; it is a marine diesel, fuel-injected, internal combustion, two-stroke engine, generating 109,000 hp. It has fourteen pistons, each almost a metre in diameter. I can vouchsafe that it is very large and loud.

On this voyage, the ship is carrying the equivalent of nearly 10,000 standard-sized containers. Containers, which can be more than double the length and taller than standard-sized, can hold up to about 28 tonnes of cargo.

Why mention any of this? A container ship provides a practical and grounding lesson on the realities of modern economic life that school children might be taught. As distinct, that is, from being brainwashed with fairy tales of sustainable development.

Magellan today: there's a metaphor here somewhere.

The lesson might begin thus: Our way of life, our prosperity, our ability to help those among us in need, are all critically dependent on growing, mining, making, trading and transporting things. Needed are entrepreneurship, business acumen, skill, hard work and, critically, cheap and plentiful supplies of energy.

A series of questions might follow to generate discussion. Apropos: If it takes around 4,700 tonnes of marine diesel fuel at $550 per tonne to shift one-hundred thousand tonnes of cargo from Hong Kong to Southampton, how many batteries charged by wind and solar farms would it take and how much would it cost? For mathematics students this would be an instructive introduction to imaginary numbers.

Another question might go like this. Is it possible for us to enjoy the ownership of cell phones, computers, flat screen TVs, cars, and all of our other modern conveniences without the dirty business of their manufacture and shipment? For students of anthropology, this may throw light on the development of cargo cults among primitive peoples. And talking of cargo cults, adult classes might be held for those who vote for green parties who seem equally prone to thinking that goods simply appear out of thin air.

Other instructive questions could be posed for the tutelage of students and greenies alike. Me, I want to stop there and turn back to the crude diesel which powers large ships. According to those who estimate these things, shipping accounts for around 2.5 percent of man-made CO2 emissions. Twice the emissions of Australia by the way. And as Australia is under pressure by the great and good, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson included, to prostrate itself before the deity of net-zero emissions by 2050, it isn’t surprising that shipping is also in the firing line.

No emissions please, we're Norwegian.

The International Maritime Organisation’s voluntary goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least half by 2050 compared with 2008. Bear in mind that tonnages shipped are on course to be far higher in 2050 than they are now. The goal might be described as aspirational. Think of the late Soviet Union’s five-year plans. Even so, it is not going to be nearly enough to satisfy the zealots, when net-zero is their goal.

Norway is doing its bit.  Reportedly, as from January 2026, Norway intends to ban cruise ships from sailing through its fjords unless they generate zero emissions. How to bring this about? I don’t know. However, the Norwegian shipping line Hurtigruten announced in 2018 that it would run its ships on dead fish and other rotting matter. Smelly business. Fish at risk. Has limitations.

In an article in Forbes, development economist Nishan Degnarain echoed the UN in calling for shipping to urgently ditch fossil fuels. He claims that shipping is the sixth-largest emitter after China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan; which, though mixing categories, is about right. What to do?

Degnarain doesn’t mention dead fish. He lists four possible solutions. These come out of a report by the international conservation group Ocean Conservancy. The report was launched at U.N. Climate Week, held virtually in New York in September 2020. Here are the putative solutions:

  1. Electrification, in other words batteries
  2. (Green) Hydrogen fuel cells
  3. Ammonia
  4. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

To take them in reverse order. Environmentalists aren’t keen on LNG. Apparently, it leaks methane in transit. And, anyway, “cleaner” though it is, it is still a foul fossil fuel. Ammonia carries a risk of blowing up and when burnt emits the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Just a guess, but fuel cells powered by green hydrogen might not be quite ready for widespread installation in ships. One solution mooted is the onboard conversion of sea water to hydrogen. I simply assume that’s a joke. And in that same amusing vein, electrification is clearly a risible solution for ocean-going vessels. Consider the magnitude of the problem.

Leave aside the 30 million or so recreational and fishing boats in the world; lots pumping out CO2. As of the beginning of 2020, there were around 56,000 merchant ships trading internationally. This encompasses 5,360 container ships, over 17,000 general cargo ships, more than 12,000 bulk cargo carriers, around 8,000 crude oil tankers, nearly 6,000 chemical tankers, over 5,000 roll-on roll-off ships, and some 2,000 LNG tankers. All running on fossil fuels, overwhelmingly crude diesel, with a bit of LNG thrown into the mix.

Is it possible to get your head around refitting and/orreplacing this fleet so that it's emissions free? Maybe, if you’re an airhead and assume as-yet uninvented technologies will somehow save the day. If burdened with common sense and realism, you will know that it can’t be done. It is Panglossianism on stilts.

This is the situation. Western world leaders, without political opposition, have bought completely into "global warming" alarmism. Extraordinary, but that is the least of it. They are buying into delusional solutions to a non-problem. You’re sane and trying to figure out what the heck’s going on? Forget it. Just cling onto the rails as they do their damnedest to sail us into the abyss.

'Eco-Feminists' vs. 'Toxic' Reality

“If civilization had been left in female hands,” wrote Camilla Paglia in her 1990 book Sexual Personae, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

Feminists have often retorted that patriarchal societies prevented women from exercising their artistic, scientific, and technological gifts—and that women’s true capabilities in these areas are still not fully known because of ongoing sexism. Lately, however, at least one group of feminist critics—namely the proponents of eco-feminism, who see the exploitation of women and of the environment as linked issues—not only seem to agree with Paglia, but go so far as to suggest that living in grass huts would be far preferable to controlling and dominating nature in the way that men have done. 

That’s the idea expressed in the almost-parodically titled “Boys and their toys: how overt masculinity dominates Australia’s relationship with water,” by Anna Kosovac, PhD. Published in the popular academic journal The Conversation, the article was written by a University of Melbourne academic who holds a prestigious Research Chair in Water Policy. 

Back to the future?

Writing from her air-conditioned room in an ivory tower designed, built, and maintained by men, intersectional feminist Kosovac believes that the days of exerting control over nature through dams, water pipelines, and sewer networks are largely over: the time has come, she writes almost mystically, “to reassess the old methods and explore new ways in our relationship with water.” In her view, masculine over-reliance on “technological and infrastructure ‘fixes’” is preventing Australians from “work[ing] in tandem with the environment” to address the country’s water needs.     

Although Kosovac states at the article’s outset that she spent nine years working as a civil engineer in water management, she has almost nothing good to say about the field as it currently operates, aside from the grudging admission that “there’s nothing inherently wrong with using technology to solve water issues.” But in Kosovac’s masculine-averse perspective, the male technocratic mind is far too rigid and exclusionary. It assumes that serious sustainability problems can be solved with “gadgets,” as she calls them, such as smart meters and other data-collecting technologies, and it will not give fair consideration to other (eco-feminist and Indigenous spiritual) perspectives.

Kosovac alleges that Australia is suffering both politically and ecologically from “toxic masculinity.” This is a now-standard feminist phrase striking for its bigotry and intellectual incoherence.  At times this “dominant masculinity” seems indistinguishable from men themselves; at other times it is a specific attitude toward power, the exercise of control over nature and less powerful “others,” that is manifested by particular white, heterosexual men. The author speaks with satisfaction of the recent “fury of women” at the “toxic masculine culture of Parliament House” while neglecting to mention that women comprise 31% of the House of Representatives and a whopping 53% of the Senate. Closer to home, she complains that “in the area of water supply, sewage, and drainage services, only 19.8% of the workforce comprises people who identify as women.” Here is a patriarchal plot, one presumes, to keep women out of the sewers they would otherwise have been clamoring to enter. 

Girl power, One Million Years BC.

Kosovac cautions, nonetheless, that simply creating a more “diverse” water industry workforce made up of women, the Indigenous, and LGBTQI will not necessarily change “male-dominated decision making” and false faith in technology. That is what must change, according to Kosovac, though she never tells readers precisely what non-masculine, non-technological water management would look like.

It is quite stunning to read Kosovac’s glib dismissal of the male-led efforts that have made drought-prone Australia, the driest continent in the world, not only habitable for millions of people but one of the most prosperous and self-sustaining nations on earth. Missing from her sneering screed is any acknowledgement of Australia’s enormous achievements in water management, including seawater de-salination, which plays an increasing role in supplying water to many of Australia’s largest cities, or in the use of reclaimed wastewater for agricultural irrigation and other needs. 

One of Kosovac’s primary criticisms of Australian technology is the failure to engage the community or to care about ordinary people’s views and preferences (she cites one example in which residents of Toowoomba rejected recycled wastewater for drinking in a referendum that “divided the county”—apparently feminist policies are never divisive). The Australian situation is, in fact, far more complex than Kosovac’s article suggests. The Water Reform Agenda, adopted in 1994, established the principle of public consultation and emphasized the right of communities to participate in the development of water supply policies. Robust measures to encourage rainwater harvesting, greywater use, and many other conservation efforts with wide public support have been in effect for years and are a testimony to the multi-pronged, community-based approach pioneered in Australia.

While indulging in harsh criticism of the conservation and management practices currently employed in her country, Kosovac’s article is notably thin on solutions. It is time for a new way of doing things, she tells us repeatedly. But what is it?  She is in favor, it seems, of a “humble” approach that rejects the exertion of “control,” telling readers, with familiar academic vagueness, that “a different approach would incorporate valuable knowledge in the social sciences, such as recognizing the politics and social issues at play in how we manage water.” This is theoretical gibberish, and means little more than that under the influence of eco-feminist critics like Kosovac and her cadre of utopia-envisioning colleagues, water policy will be subject to a cultural Marxist analysis to identify oppressor groups (white male engineers, mostly, and those who support them) and oppressed groups (ethnic and gender minorities); such analysis will always castigate the oppressors and call for greater involvement of the marginalized.

Water, water, not quite everywhere.

True to form, Kosovac advocates “working closely with traditional owners to incorporate Indigenous understandings of water.” As an example of this approach, Kosovac refers with evident approval to a piece of 2017 legislation passed in New Zealand “that recognized the Whanganui River catchment as a legal person. The reform formally acknowledged the special relationship local Maori have with the river.”

It may be that despite her eco-feminist ideological commitments, Kosovac is struck near-speechless by this legislation, for she concludes her article soon thereafter without enlightening readers about how a governmental act of personification will help to address water management. Her only other specific suggestion involves “moving to community decision making models or even programs to increase youth involvement in water management.” Asking teenagers for input about water use may well yield some novel suggestions, but it’s difficult to conclude they will responsibly revolutionize water policy.  

Kosovac proclaims her support for “giving up some control.” I suspect, however, that her faith in youth and community consultation, and even in Indigenous spiritual beliefs, will last only so long as potable water flows abundantly from her tap and the toilet flushes on command. The much-derided “toys” of the “boys” may well represent a masculine orientation that it is now fashionable to condemn, but that masculine way of dealing with our environment has inarguably kept the sewage and water systems functional, thus making all our lives immeasurably better. The simple fact is that exerting control over water is indistinguishable from civilization itself. When it comes to complex technological systems, I’ll take the boys with their toys over the girls clutching their pearls any day of the week.

Fighting the Climate War, One Fad at a Time

Behind my desk is a framed picture of an article in Newsweek dated April 28, 1975. The cooling world, it is titled. “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects,” it is reported. Fortunately, nothing was done, e.g., “covering arctic sea ice with soot,” otherwise what a pickle we’d now be in, what with global warming and all.

Global cooling was forecast to cause “an increase in extremes of weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases.” There it is. Whatever the climate does we should expect the worst.

Oops.

Australian palaeontologist and climate alarmist, Tim Flannery expected the worst in 2007. Droughts were in his crystal ball. “Even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems,” he said. Late March 2021 in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, rain galore, floods, dams overflowing. Of course, things will change, droughts will recur in the land “of droughts and flooding plains;” as the Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar put it, way back in a wiser age before Flannery was born. And they’ll be met with water restrictions and, among Christians, prayers for rain.

It would help if there were more and bigger dams, but these are hard to build. They are hard to build, in case you don’t know, because the habitats of rare species would be lost or Aboriginal cave drawings or other sights of significance submerged. As it turns out, these barriers to dam building apply more or less everywhere it makes sense to build large-scale dams. Sometimes I think we might as well designate the whole of Australia as a national park-cum-untouchable Aboriginal sacred site and be done with it.

Warragamba Dam is the primary water source for Sydney. It was finished in 1960 when Sydney’s population was not much over two million. Sydney’s population is now over five million and, surprise-surprise, during droughts water storage runs seriously low. A plan to increase the capacity of the dam by increasing its height is stalled. No surprise there either.

As an aside, isn’t it somewhat churlish to keep on praying for rain during droughts when we’re persistently recalcitrant in harvesting water? My Anglican minister points out that those suffering during droughts still need our prayers, whatever the circumstances. I take his point, yet I suspect most Anglican churchgoers are green-hued and therefore to some extent complicit in the suffering. It’s a conundrum, but enough of that.

Don’t for a minute think that the “record-breaking” rains (they are not by the way) in NSW and Queensland will dent Flannery’s (hysterical) conviction. It would take momentous contradictory events to disturb any part of the conviction among alarmists that we face imminent catastrophic climate change. It comes down to the philosophy of science.

To be honest, I don’t find the philosophy of science to be a riveting subject. But it seems to me that the history of science in the past half century has shown that Thomas Kuhn’s insights rather than Karl Popper’s best encompass the scientific method in practice. Scientists clearly move in crowds; albeit with the odd, shunned, ‘eccentric’ voices on the periphery. The prevailing scientific paradigm, as Kuhn describes it, bounds inquiry. That is, until whatever is the stubbornly-held paradigm is completely overwhelmed by contradictory events.

Incidentally, J K Galbraith (in The Affluent Society) used the term “conventional wisdom” to describe, more or less, the same phenomenon in the social sciences and in all walks of life.

We only have to be right this week.

I dare say many climate scientists were investigating global cooling when it was fashionable, as they are now almost all investigating global warming. I doubt many are subjecting the hypothesis of CO2-caused warming to stress testing. They are not Popperians, busying away trying to falsify the paradigm which guides their research. No, I suggest, they simply accept it as true and work within its bounds. And maybe that is the way science has generally proceeded.

Climate sceptics often charge that a scientific consensus is a contradiction in terms. But is that true? On reflection, I don’t think it is. I have read that a consensus has developed within quantum theory which leaves those on the outside at risk of being shunned. I understand that Galileo had less trouble with Urban VIII, the Pope at the time, than he had with the scientists of the day who had the ear of the Pope. At question is how to break through a consensus?

I will take my lead from Sun Tzu in The Art of War. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” (3,18). Many of those who believe climate alarmists to be wrong don’t seem to know their enemy. They tend to think that logical counter-arguments will carry weight. They won’t. All such counter arguments strike at the paradigm (a walled city). That simply won’t work. It’s akin to infidels questioning the likelihood that the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Muhammed in a cave. It will carry no weight among Islamists.

What to do against a strong enemy? “The worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities,” says Sun Tzu (3,3). “Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots” (6,23). In this case, the vulnerable spot is the practical means of countering CO2 emissions.  Clearly today’s renewable energy doesn’t and won’t ever work. Not even Michael Moore (Planet of the Humans) defends it. So, what will work? Right now, only nuclear can deliver sufficient dispatchable power, whenever and wherever it is required, without producing CO2 emissions. That is the turf on which the battle can be fought and won.

If indeed man-made CO2 is on the brink of causing catastrophic warming, then we need to move speedily. There is no time for endless research on renewables or hydrogen. Only nuclear is available in the limited time we have left. Might even be able to get David Attenborough to buy into this, in view of his current angst.

Of course, battles will remain. Electric vehicles, farm animal emissions etc. But at least we might be rid of ugly wind and solar farms and the costly, intermittent and unreliable power they bring. True we lose cheap and dependable fossil-fuel power. However, consolingly, it will not be lost to the world. We can depend upon China and India to keep on burning the black stuff.