Seriously Kids, Stay in School

A quick follow up on yesterday's post about how Greta Thunberg really needs to chill, Matthew Lynn had a good piece at Britain's The Telegraph entitled Not Now Greta, We Are Trying to Save the Global Economy, in which he comments on this bizarre and misguided Greta tweet:

Here's Lynn:

The impeccably politically correct president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, was probably a little taken aback to find her institution targeted on Twitter last week by the ferocious teenage activist Miss Thunberg.... [Her] complaint? According to an analysis by Greenpeace, from mid-March to mid-May the ECB bought more than €30bn (£27bn) of corporate bonds, of which €7.6bn were issued by oil and energy companies" ....

The Bank of England is in just as much trouble. It turns out that its Covid Corporate Financing Facility, has – surprise, surprise – been accessed by companies that climate change activists don’t exactly approve of. According to Greenpeace UK “airlines have been given … billions in cheap and easy loans to keep them polluting, without any commitments to reduce emissions or even keep workers on the payroll”. Even worse, “cruise lines, pesticides and car companies have received similar largesse”. The Bank is “bailing out climate wreckers,” according to the Green MP Caroline Lucas.

As Lynn points out, these criticisms are just dumb. "The ECB is not giving money to fossil fuel companies. It launched an emergency blast of quantitative easing as the eurozone went into lockdown." Which is to say, it injected cash into a teetering economy by (indiscriminately) purchasing corporate bonds. What's more, those bonds were purchased on the secondary market, so they weren't even bought from oil companies directly. They were attempting to bail out the economy, not particular companies. The same goes for the Bank of England. There are worthwhile criticisms of quantitative easing, but the Greta/Greenpeace suggestion here, that in a time of emergency, these banks should have stopped everything to make sure they weren't buying bonds with the names of oil companies on them, that is nuts.

Honestly, we'd all be much better off if this girl had stayed in school. Maybe she would have learned something.

Some Non-Negotiable Demands for Utopia

Just when you’ve started wondering what topic you should write a column about—an activity that mostly leads to hours of more wondering—a lightning bolt strikes and clarifies your duty. On this occasion the lightning bolt took the friendly form of a left-wing petition urging me to save the world, more or less, by signing a petition making certain demands on . . . well . . . the world.

It’s easy to mock such things, and I shall try to do once or twice here, but the idea of petitioning parliaments, congresses, and governments is an ancient, honorable, and essentially democratic one. As a mode of debate it’s greatly to be preferred to hitting the heads of people with whom you disagree with mallets. And it has sometimes brought about peaceful democratic change—notably in the case of the People’s Charter of 1838 which brought millions onto the streets, made the ruling classes nervous, and persuaded Parliament to introduce most of the essentials of the country’s modern democracy over time.

The petition sent to me was somewhat more ambitious. It was addressed flatteringly to “policy makers” and it bore the grandiose title Covid-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto. It is well-designed, having that look of authentic simplicity that disarms skepticism, and it is indeed short, simple and declarative. Its nine main points begin with the words, “We demand . . .”

Or else.

What’s being demanded we’ll come onto in due course, but the petition varies its demands with assurances that these things are going to happen anyway. Oh yes. This kind of writing is known as the “imperative indicative,” but it’s less imperative than they might wish because the element of threat is so understated. Reading it is rather like being held up by a man wearing a Covid-19 health mask and wielding a banana.

Let’s now come to the content—the weak spot here as in so many left-wing manifestos. The first demand is for “strong, universal health care systems and health care as a basic right for all humans.” Such things would certainly be desirable outcomes, but they cannot be granted as rights because they are unattainable in present circumstances and would impose insupportable burdens on everyone everywhere including those countries which currently have good health systems.

Consider this: even in progressive health care systems in rich countries there’s a constant irresolvable struggle to combine three things: universal access, the full range of (ever-expanding) medical treatments, and cost control. Pick any two. The attempt to have all three results in regular crises in which queues for particular treatments lengthen and expensive treatments cease to be available at all.

That discomfiting reality rests on the truth that the demand for health care is potentially infinite. As the former UK health minister, Enoch Powell, wrote in a 1960s book (I quote from memory): Unrestrained by price, the demand for health care rises until it consumes the entire national income. When I quoted that to a distinguished doctor of firmly liberal views on the faculty of Stanford University, he told me that he hated to agree but that he was reluctantly bound to do so.

The end result of Demand #1, therefore, would be the universalization of health poverty as the fruit of an attempt to equalize health care upwards. So Demand #2—a massive reduction in war, conflict, and defense spending—would fail as well since half of its purpose is to pay for Demand #1 and some of the other causes listed (“housing, childcare, nutrition, education, Internet access, and other social needs.”)

There is only one way the world could afford to pay for this catalogue of costly benefits and that is if we were able to achieve a fantasy of high economic growth without end. Unfortunately, that prospect is scotched by Demand #3 which calls for “the fantasy of endless growth” in unsustainable capitalist economies, “[to] be replaced with cooperatively based economies of care, where human life, biodiversity, and our natural resources are conserved and a universal basic income is guaranteed so that governments can work together to combat the existential threat of climate change.”

And here we come to the nub or gist of the problem. In a way, the petitioners are pointing to something important which they misunderstand: endless growth under capitalism is not a fantasy but the experience of capitalism over more than two hundred years. Such growth has proved to be a fantasy, however, under all other economic systems, notably those “cooperatively based economies of care” which provide their citizens with economic security, but which also restrict them to much lower living standards than their capitalist neighbors. Such economies have delivered economic wastelands despite being given a series of Western loans and investments over the years.

Moreover, the various kinds of communist/socialist economies in the last century that attempted a (more realistic) version of this program did not handicap themselves by swearing off cheap fossil-fuel based energy as the main mover of industrialization and prosperity. Quite the contrary. Lenin defined communism as “Soviet power plus electrification,” and unlike some modern environmentalists, he didn’t think that electricity grew on trees (not without the trees being chopped down, converted to wood chips and then transported thousands of miles to power stations across the world.)

But the signatories of the Covid-19 Global Manifesto want to deliver all the benefits above, including a program of universal income grants, without using cheap fossil fuel energy that underpins prosperity worldwide. Their “fantasies” of electrification provided entirely from renewables like wind and sun were recently diagnosed into oblivion by Professor Michael Kelly of Cambridge University in his monograph Electrifying the UK, in which he cites, with examples, the costs of engineering the delivery of energy—even in the cases where its generation is relatively cheap. They turn out to be enormously expensive.

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For instance:

It is often pointed out that electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion engines, and this is true; there is a factor of three involved. But the low energy density of batteries means that much of this advantage is lost in having to carry around a heavy battery. The power pack for a Tesla weighs half a tonne and occupies much of the floor pan of the car: for the same 600-km range in a petrol car, you would need 48 litres of petrol, weighing just 36 kg.

And:

The £45 million battery installed by Elon Musk outside Adelaide, South Australia, can power that city for 30 minutes. It would power the emergency wards (20% of total demand) of Addenbrooke‘s Hospital in Cambridge for 24 hours on a single 80–20% discharge. Back-up is currently provided by two 1500- kVA diesel generators, which run for as long as fuel is available and cost £250,000. So if you wanted to be able to cover a 3 week’s power outage after a major storm, it would cost around 1300 times as much using batteries as it would with diesel generators.

I'm not over-confident that you can simply multiply that cost by the number of hours in a day and days in a year to get an accurate estimate of what it would cost to power Adelaide for a year, but if so, the cost would be upwards of a trillion dollars. And there are similar mind-boggling cost overruns attached to almost every Green technical insight. I doubt Adelaide’s city fathers would think that a practicable proposition. Nor would the government of South Australia, nor the Australian federal government in Canberra. Nor other governments not headed, however temporarily, by visionary idealists.

That may not matter a great deal to the authors of the Global Solidarity Manifesto.  Consider the organizations that so far have signed up to the manifesto. Here was the list as of yesterday:

My guess is that unlike the  Chartists of 1838, these bodies are looking to present their reforms to organizations representing the whole of mankind rather than to narrow nationalist democratic governments that have to pay for their policies by taxing their citizens and justifying expenditures to the voters in elections. Insofar as they seek to change the policies of national governments, they do so by  influencing UN and other globalist bodies which then lean on governments to follow them in ways that Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte has called a fantasia of “global governance.”

In other words, it’s the stage army of transnational progressives mounting another membership drive. They have little or no genuine  democratic credentials, and they frequently proclaim that their favored concerns are "too important to be left to democracy—which is all the more reason for the rest of us to apply democratic criteria to their manifestos.

There are about nine billion people in the world. Yesterday the Covid-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto had 1600 signatures. When the figure reaches five billion, call my office.

Spike This

If you haven't yet twigged to the British website Spiked, it's about time you did so. The online publication describes itself as "the magazine that wants to change the world as well as report on it. We are committed to fighting for humanism, democracy and freedom." It expresses that admirable commitment via articles by some of the best young British writers, who daily deconstruct modern shibboleths such as "climate change," the Greenie weenies, and, latterly, the hysteria over the coronavirus. Like us here at The Pipeline, the gang at Spiked clearly sees the link between the overreaction to the virus and the longer-term agenda of the "climate change" privateers, who seek to destroy the Western way of life in the guise of rescuing it. A sample:

Covid-19 is a frightening dress rehearsal of the climate agenda

Months into the pandemic and many unknowns still cloud our understanding of the virus. The basic parameters of its transmission rate are still contested by scientists. Rather than shedding light, experts from prestigious institutions descend into acrimonious, politically charged, point-scoring debates. Even the grim daily ritual of the body count is slated as either an overestimate or a grotesque underestimate. But the biggest unknown yet is the damage the virus and attempts to control it have done to society and the economy, and how we will recover. From this wreckage, the green blob has re-emerged from an all-too-brief period of obscurity with a list of demands that will destroy any hope of recovery.

From the outset, there has been a palpable sense of green jealousy of the virus as it stole attention from the climate fearmongers. For half a century, greens have been prognosticating the imminent collapse of society. Yet with each new generation, deadlines to stop the destruction of the planet pass without event. In reality, the world’s population has become healthier and wealthier, and we live longer lives than ever before. Panic about the virus achieved in days what greens have been demanding for years: grounded planes, empty roads, and a halt in economic growth.

Experience of coronavirus shows that the kind of fear, panic and mistrust ramped up by doom-laden forecasts has had severe consequences for humanity. Fear of the virus has threatened to dissolve the essential relationships of mutual dependence between human beings, almost in an instant – and on a greater scale than anything Gaia can throw at us in her angry revenge. Greta Thunberg’s maxim – ‘I want you to panic’ – should cause environmentalists to pause and consider what they actually want for society.

But such reflection is unlikely to be forthcoming. After all, lockdown gives greens what they have always wanted: the abolition of flight, and of travel deemed ‘unnecessary’ by technocrats; and the prohibition of goods which have been designated ‘non-essential’. Indeed, this is apparently what a green utopia looks like.

Read the whole thing, of course, if only for this line:

Green platitudes are nothing more than a veneer of bullshit for no-mark politicians to hide behind.

The key is that the "green economy" is a malignant fantasy of New Ludditism, a branch of cultural Marxism that openly seeks the destruction of the Western way of life. Its embrace by callow and mendacious politicians the world over is a triumph of stupidty and short-term thinking over reason, facts, and history.

So what if it comes disguised as "environmentalism"? The devil is the devil no matter what he's wearing, even if it's nothing at all.

 

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Old Flames

LONDON -- It didn’t take long before I was bored rigid, doing the things I did in this house in St. John's Wood as a child; stacking magnetic pennies, trying on mummy’s clothes and jewelry, and basically going through all of her neatly-organised treasures. I’d long since given up pinching cigarettes from daddy’s study which is just as well given that he no longer keeps any. I did find piles of my own games that I threw out, as well as notebooks I’d kept for reasons I’ll never understand.  

I guess I thought in time they’d become interesting like the things Mother kept, but of course that wasn’t to be. Judith had all sorts of things like ostrich feathers and faded press cuttings from when her own mother was a debutante—end of an empire she always said, referring to granny's debutante season.  Hers was of course long before the daughters of self-made plutocrats got in line with cash money, and sniping journalists brought it all crashing down; 1958 would be the very last year that a debutante would curtsey before the Queen, thus ending mummy's chance of ever being presented at court, and mine for that matter.  It didn't help that Princess Margaret even more crudely remarked, “We had to put a stop to it, every tart in London was getting in.” Rather rich coming from the very reign that monetised the monarchy like never before. 

“Racket” indeed. It mattered not to me though because in the end, mummy married daddy, and popping me on a horse and asking me not to fall off too often, was the best they could hope for. If I’m honest, I guess I’d kept the notebooks in the event I’d somehow managed to catapult us into a prime position in Debrett’s, but my most recent accomplishment had been getting sacked by a Palm Beach housewife turned bestselling thought leader. For this reason alone I wasn't upset that Judith was in the country. It's one thing to work for a bounder, quite another to be sacked by one, and she'd have driven this point home even if I could do nothing about it. Judith doesn't much approve of my "green distraction" as she calls it. She would have loved to tell me that the very people who employed me, and who make a living off of their own green distraction, are the ones heating and cooling 15,000 square feet.  

Inexplicably, Judith had kept loads of photos of me and Patrick, (good lord!) and even arranged them in an album which is what got me to thinking about the whole hierarchy theme in the first place -- the prospect of which was now literally and figuratively miles from my life in Los Angeles. But it never would have worked with Patrick and me, what with his business interests, and total disregard for our beloved planet. It was at a dinner with his parents that he argued that climate has always changed throughout earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. I mean really how could one be so callous? Of course, I explained, it has always been changing but the really massive changes began 10,000 years ago when humans developed agriculture—only for him to counter that the planet, long before man came to be, had seen both boiling and freezing temperatures.

As I said, it was dinner with his parents so I really couldn’t do as I wished, which would have been to explain that only in the past twenty years or so that had we seen such rapid changes and that previously it had taken hundreds of thousands of years for the same amount of change! But I couldn’t, and so I didn’t, but seemingly he had anticipated what I had wanted to say and insisted an accelerated timeline was “just not accurate”. Honestly, how could he!?

I smiled sweetly over my soup as the real steam poured out of my ears. You see, Patrick had worked with my father in mineral exploration for several years before developing geophysical software to employ in the field. Deep down I knew I was right about the planet but how was I going to argue with that level of rigidity? Outmanned and outgunned, I changed the subject to a recent and rather gruesome equestrian spill in which spectators actually heard the tearing of the tendon fibres as the horse horrifically crawled on his cannons before spinning on his back, like a breakdancer in Trafalgar Square. I still have night terrors when I think of that poor horse but thus ended the dinnertime planet debate.

Back to mummy’s closet: I got to thinking that these days in coronavirus lockdown can really send the mind down a rabbit hole. Luckily, I could hear my father opening a package from Paxton and Whitfield (truly the best cheese on this planet!) and wine was soon to follow. And “soon” couldn’t come soon enough to suit me lately. I don’t ever remember wanting it to be Pimm’s o’ Clock sooner than during these dark days of eternal consignment to Boris Johnson's oubliée.

I’d hoovered my third charcoal and Aldwych goat when father asked, “Is this how it ends?” Which was so like him.

“Fair enough,” I replied. “What shall we talk about then…Boris? Patrick? I mean BORIS! And I added…“I don’t know why I said that.”

Silence from father.

“It’s just that mother's kept…”, I continued.

“Mother kept?” he asked.

“Yes, Mother kept!” I insisted. ”Mother kept some photographs of us that I hadn’t seen…”

“Until… you found them today”

“Yes, not until today when I was going through her things, as I always do.”

“Right.” he said.

“Listen,” I continued, “I know you all think I ran away to California to put this behind me…”

“Surely we don’t all think anything”, he interrupted. And okay, he had a point, I was guilty of a sweeping statement but I know they do think it.

“Right, OK” I said, “So what about Boris?”

“Ah yes” father began, “Boris it seems has found himself fifty pages in which to clarify the newly-adjusted points of lockdown. There is the as-yet elusive, although much anticipated: Step One that will begin on Wednesday. Followed by the equally elusive Step Two—to start on June first. And followed closely… by Step Three. So you see it’s all rather logical. And he continues with what he then calls, and rather aptly I might add…‘further steps. Plus he wants us all to start riding bikes again.”

Just then father got up as though he’d forgotten something and I heard our door chime. I opened the door and even with a mask, it was unmistakably… Patrick.

Frans and the Seven Dwarves

Poor Frans Timmermans. You remember him, the first vice-president of the European Commission? (And yes, the EU does have multiple vice-presidents. Eight to be precise. In America, many of us feel that even one is too many. Even occupants of the office feel this way -- our 32nd VP, John Nance Garner, famously described his office as "not worth a bucket of warm piss." Something tells me that Dutch doesn't have an equivalent expression, so it has probably never occurred to ol' Frans to talk about his current position that way).

Readers will recall that back in March, First Vice-President Timmermans had gotten himself worked up into a tizzy about the hot topic of the day, namely COVID-19, the 'rona as the kids are calling it, though I much prefer WuFlu. But Timmermans' Tizzy wasn't what you'd expect. He was extremely concerned that this blasted virus would get in the way of his precious European Green Deal, the object of which is to:

[T]ransform Europe's economy, enshrining in law that every EU member nation reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, mandating that a substantial portion of every budget category be dedicated to reaching that goal (for instance, "40% of the budget for the common agricultural policy and 30% of fisheries"), and imposing heavy fines on those nations not on track.

As Timmermans put it at the time:

[C]ontaining the coronavirus and solving it [is] absolutely a priority,” he said. [But] the climate law was “so important”, because “it allows you to focus on other things without losing track of what you need to do to reach climate neutrality”.

That is to say, the European Green Deal needed to be passed immediately so that the European Commission could turn its focus to, you know, dealing with a global pandemic. Well, here we are a month later and Frans, the seven other veeps, and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appear to have given up the ghost. Or some of it.

The coronavirus crisis is putting Commission staff under unprecedented pressure to deal with “urgent, new and existing COVID-19 related files,” according to a draft document seen by EURACTIV. In order “to free up capacity,” the EU executive is preparing an updated work programme for 2020 which is expected to be published on 29 April.... As part of the review, the Commission’s secretariat general is assessing whether new policy initiatives can afford to be postponed because they are neither directly related to COVID-19 or are considered “less essential for delivery on the absolute key priorities”.

Which is a jargony way of saying We Are Dealing With the Virus, and We Can't Do Everything At Once.

Leaked documents show that the EU Commission has divided its European Green Deal goals into three categories, with a small number of urgent priorities -- such as their 2030 "climate and energy framework" -- which will be implemented no matter what, and a larger wish list which might potentially be delayed. It's the last group which probably keeps Frans up at night, tears streaming down into his enormous beard. That's because they're the goals which will be delayed until at least 2021.

Back in March, Timmermans said that, once the European Green Deal was passed, "the Eye of Sauron" (meaning, strangely, the EU) could turn its attention to "something else for a bit [since] the trajectory to [net zero-carbon emissions by] 2050 will be clear." Now that his deal has been postponed, will Europe's insane devotion to Net-Zero 2050 be put on hold as well? For the sake of our friends on that lovely continent, I certainly hope so. But I'm not holding my breath.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty

Arrived at Annabel’s country house, or should I say estate -- having committed one of the world’s most egregious sins. I was, I admit, drinking from a single-use plastic water bottle I’d purchased after customs. And while I was still being introduced, the bottle made a large plastic crinkling noise—the crinkling noise heard round the world. Every head turned toward me—the girl who was single-handedly going to take down the planet. I waited for someone to shout check her bag for plastic straws but it didn’t happen. Now in full panic mode, I was grateful for the aluminum chlorohydrate in my deodorant. I might die of cancer, but I was going to die hydrated and smelling great.

With barely time to pop into a tub, cocktails were being served in a room filled with animal heads and skins and even a wildebeest rug. I said nothing. Mostly because, well, what does one say? And because surely there was some free pass for things procured prior to 1992. Like my water bottle. Okay, maybe not my water bottle, but you get the idea.

A plain woman with a disapproving face sauntered up to me before I had a chance to get my first gulp of champagne. “How long have you known Annabel?” she snapped. To which I replied, “Since the golden age of aerosol hairspray.” (Jeez, it was a joke!) She wasn’t sure. She didn’t laugh. And three agonising minutes later she was gone but right then I decided we can never be like them, those shrew-faced harpy green police—devoid of humour AND reason. This was going to be a long night! And yes dear reader, I know I have to get to the beauty blog but all of this I have to share.

I’m pretty sure it was no coincidence that I was seated next to Trevor – just starting to grey, totally gorgeous and totally fun. But better than that—his job: he sells rain-forest wood. I thought he was joking or that the joke was on me (Miss BPA) but it really IS his job. Fascinating actually, I’m sure in some way necessary and TOTALLY UN-PC. Freedom at last! Obviously we could (and soon would) talk about ANYTHING. It was kind of like being naked—well you know—the foreplay to being naked.

Soon enough things got trop chaude between us and we realised we needed to rejoin the dinner party, boring as it was, so we decided to count the number of times someone guilted, or expressed guilt, over anything remotely climate-related. Absolute torture. Like counting hats in church and they seemed to want only to find more ways to torment themselves. I wanted to say, you know there’s Catholicism or Judaism for that… but I didn’t, because I’d had quite a lot of wine, and I was already in the plastic doghouse.

But making the guilt comparison got me to thinking: what if? (No I know it’s not even an if) but if we get married in churches and baptise our babies whether or not we believe in an afterlife, then why not take the safe route with the climate? You know, only show up for Palm Sunday and take on a 10 percent commitment to live like it just might happen? I’m not talking about going all Vanessa Branson and living on an island with no cars, no plastic, and with everyone having to drink peaty water from sustainable jugs, I just mean let’s approach this logically.

Stress, ladies, is our biggest beauty concern, and what brings us stress? People forcing their unfounded and illogical demands on us and calling us “deniers” if we don’t comply. So rather than fight, I’m embracing the peace that comes from living in harmony with the disharmony they create. And I’m going to look gorgeous doing it.

So here it is. First and foremost: water. We must have water, when we want it and as much as we want. That’s not negotiable. So if you find yourself arriving at the house of a newly minted green-nik, remember to tear the label off your bottle before you arrive (which suggests you’ve used it more than once) and immediately ask: where can I fill this up? Now you’re part of the solution. Oh, and try to recycle the label—there’s your 10 percent.

Day Two: exfoliation. Pop into your hostess’s kitchen and ask for a potato. Peel just the skin leaving most of the white and place strips on your face for 10-15 minutes or until it gets tingly. Word will get back to your hostess and your response will be, “I can’t see the need for unnecessary products when nature gives us such gifts”. I caught Trevor’s eye when I said this and yes he stifled a laugh. And then complimented me on my dewy skin. I don’t know if one of Annabel’s seven gardeners composted the rest of the potato but I’m just assuming they did. And that they walk to work and use ladybugs as pesticide.

Laters.

The End of the World, Yet Again

History shows that you can never go wrong betting against Doomsday cults, which have been at it practically since the time of St. Paul, continued through the turn of the millennia, and seem to attract  kooks in every age and time. The world, it seems, is always coming to an end. The latest manifestation of this extraordinary delusion and the madness of crowds come from merry olde Blighty:

As the last light of the late-winter sunset illuminates her suburban back garden, Rachel Ingrams is looking at the sky and pondering how long we have left.

Her hands shielded from the gusts of February air by a well-worn pair of gardening gloves, Rachel carefully places tree spinach and scarlet pimpernel seeds into brown plastic pots. Within the next five to 10 years, she says, climate change is going to cause it to fall apart. "I don't see things lasting any longer than that."

So every evening, after picking up her children from school and returning to their former council house, she spends about two hours working outside. "I find the more I do it, the less anxious I am," she says. "It's better than just sitting in the living room looking at the news and thinking, 'Oh God, climate change is happening, what do we do?'"

Hey, everybody needs a hobby -- and if tilling the soil makes you less anxious about the impending End of the World, great. It's certainly cheaper than a shrink. But what caused this fine madness?

Around a year ago, a video of a talk by a British professor called Jem Bendell appeared on Rachel's Twitter feed. "As soon as I saw it, everything seemed to make sense in a terrifying way," Rachel says. "It felt like a bolt from the blue: 'We're all going to die.' I felt it in my bones that we are at the beginning of the end."

Bendell, a professor in sustainable leadership at the University of Cumbria, is the author of an academic article, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, which has become the closest thing to a manifesto for a generation of self-described "climate doomers". In it, he argues that it is too late for us to avoid "the inevitability of societal collapse" caused by climate change. Instead, we are facing a "near-term" breakdown of civilisation - near-term meaning within about a decade.

Whoa! Pretty scary, huh kids? Not so fast:

The paper was rejected for publication by a peer-reviewed journal, whose reviewers said its language was "not appropriate for an academic article". It is certainly unconventional, with its disturbing descriptions of what's to come. "You won't know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death," Bendell writes.

After the journal's rejection, in July 2018 Bendell self-published the 34-page article online. It soon went viral. It has now been downloaded over half a million times, translated into a dozen languages, and sparked a global movement with thousands of followers - called Deep Adaptation, because Bendell calls on people to adapt their lifestyle to cope with the harsh conditions in his vision of the future.

But Bendell's stark predictions have been dismissed by prominent climate scientists. Myles Allen, professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford, is critical. "Predictions of societal collapse in the next few years as a result of climate change seem very far-fetched," he tells me.

That doesn't mean that scientists who believe in man-made climate change are backing off their own consensus -- far from it. They just don't want any defeatism setting in.

Allen agrees [with others] that the paper's pessimism is liable to make people feel powerless. "Lots of people are using this kind of catastrophism to argue that there's no point in reducing emissions," he says.

Bendell's fans reject his rejection. They're ready to abandon the cities and head for the hills, or at least more northerly climes, to escape the coming extinction event and hunker down. Effectively, they've become survivalists, fleeing to outposts like Fife in Scotland as they wait the collapse of civil society.

Lionel Kirbyshire, a 60-year-old former chemicals engineer, says he began getting deeply worried about the climate a few years ago. He read, among other things, some of the writings of Guy MacPherson, a controversial American scientist unaffiliated to Deep Adaptation, who predicts humans will be extinct by 2030.

His head was soon "boiling with all this information that no-one wants to know". "There was a moment about a year ago when it hit me and I thought, 'We're in big trouble,'" he says. "When you look at the whole picture it's terrifying. I think we've got 10 years, but we'll be lucky to make it."

If it's any comfort, Lionel -- that's what they all say.

 

Will the Yellow Vests Come to Britain?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the rise in populist sentiment in France as a direct response to Emmanuel Macron's tax hike on diesel, and marveled that in the wake of the Yellow Vest movement Democrats continue to push Green New Deal policies which would dramatically raise the price of gas here in the States. Such policies would be utterly disastrous to the American analogue of the "lo-vis people" (in Christopher Caldwell's memorable phrase) who donned those hi-vis vests in France.

While we are right to be astounded that Democrats, who need to win back the Rust Belt, still insist on taking a stroll down the Rue de Macron, we should be even more astonished to see politicians just on the other side of the English Channel doing the same.

First of all, the Labour Party, which had its worst showing since 1935 in the recent general election, largely due to its traditional northern stronghold flipping to the Tories, is in the process of selecting a new leader. The three remaining candidates -- Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, and Rebecca Long-Bailey -- have been doing their best to out-socialist each other while also distancing themselves from Jeremy Corbyn, the hard-left leader they're vying to replace.

While all three aspirants have attempted to court the wild-eyed environmentalist/Extinction Rebellion vote, Long-Bailey has gone the furthest, calling for ruinous taxes to be imposed on British oil and gas companies as part of her long-term goal of a "Green Industrial Revolution." Here is a report on her proposed “climate justice fund”:

Fossil fuel companies must pay for the damage caused by extreme weather due to the climate emergency such as the floods devastating parts of England, the Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey has said. Long-Bailey, the most leftwing candidate in the contest, said she was calling for a “climate justice fund” to support affected households and communities, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas companies “responsible for knowingly heating our planet to dangerous levels.” This would include help towards affordable insurance for those suffering from repeated flooding, she said...

[Long-Bailey] said her version of a tax on oil and gas companies would go directly to communities affected by the climate emergency. “Fossil fuel executives have known for decades that their profiteering from the extraction of oil and gas would lead here: to dangerously high global temperatures and devastating weather events,” she said. “Fossil fuel companies must be made to pay for damage from the impacts they have already locked in.

“Flooding damage costs £2bn every year in England and Wales, and without deep cuts in emissions that could rise to £21bn after 2050. These costs are currently passed on to all homeowners in the form of higher insurance premiums, while properties built after 2009 and small businesses aren’t protected at all...." Her team said taxing oil companies would not put prices up at the pump, as oil is a globally traded commodity.

I love the confidence with which her campaign makes that obviously untrue assertion in that last line. Whether or not the flooding itself can be blamed on oil and gas extraction, their reference to the cost of flooding being "passed on to all homeowners in the form of higher insurance premiums" suggests that they are aware that, ultimately, major costs like this have a tendency to trickle down. Why, then, wouldn't the cost of her tax be passed along to consumers at the pump? The bit about oil being traded globally is a red herring.

So it's difficult to understand Long-Bailey's play here. In order to get back to being a serious party, Labour needs to be competitive outside of London. Wooing back those working class voters in the North whose forebears have voted for Labour since the days of Keir Hardie is essential. Brexit was the dominant issue in British politics for years and it is likely that a lot of people in the North held their noses and pulled their lever for the party which promised to finally put it to bed. If you are Rebecca Long-Bailey, or really any potential Labour leader, why would you pledge to enact a policy which would make their lives harder?

Now, lefties alienating their constituents might seem like great news for us right-of-center types, especially with Boris Johnson and his chief strategist Dominic Cummings having pledged to do whatever they can to permanently move into the Tory Party those who merely "lent" them their votes in the recent election. Except... Boris and Dominic seem set on keeping pace with the enviro-nuts on the opposition benches:

Britain's 37 million drivers could face the first fuel duty rise in a decade next month. They may be targeted in the Budget as Boris Johnson’s all- powerful adviser Dominic Cummings eyes up a £4 billion spending pot. He wants to end the fuel duty freeze, which has been in place since 2010 and saves drivers about £1.50 every time they fill up. The tax will probably go up by the rate of inflation, putting 2p on a litre of fuel. However, the rise might be delayed until next year.

Mr Cummings wants to use fuel tax to fund the PM’s promised spending on infrastructure outside the capital, Treasury sources say. Some in No 10 believe it will also boost the Tories’ reputation on the environment. During the election, the PM told The Sun he had “absolutely no intention” of raising fuel duty. But allies of Mr Johnson and the new Chancellor [Rishi Sunak] refused to rule it out.

So Johnson and Cummings are willing to risk alienating blue-collar voters by raising fuel taxes in order to generate some cash and "boost the Tories’ reputation on the environment." There's no other way to describe that than as a slap in the face to the working men and women who carried them to victory in December, as some of the countries new Northern MPs are now pointing out.

Moreover, Johnson has refused to challenge a law passed by his predecessor Theresa May that requires Great Britain to have net-zero greenhouse emissions within 30 years. Two new reports by the Global Warming Policy Forum delve into what this would actually mean:

The reports find that decarbonising the electricity system and domestic housing in the next three decades will cost over £2.3 trillion pounds. The final bill will surpass £3 trillion, or £100,000 per household, once the cost of decarbonising major emitting sectors like manufacturing, transport and agriculture are included....

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) the costs for Net Zero in 2050 are ‘manageable’: “…we estimate an increased annual resource cost to the UK economy from reaching a net-zero [greenhouse gas] target that will rise to around 1–2% of GDP by 2050.”

Yet, the CCC has resisted attempts to have its calculations disclosed under FOI legislation. Even more remarkably, it has admitted that it has not actually calculated a cost for the period 2020–2049. The decision by Parliament to undertake the complete decarbonisation of the UK economy is thus uncosted.

According to GWPF director Benny Peiser, the two new studies represent the first meaningful attempts to pin down the cost of net zero: “Although the Committee on Climate Change claims that net zero can be achieved at modest cost, they have now quietly admitted that they have not actually prepared any detailed costing. Unfortunately, Parliament seems to have taken them at their word, and we are now embarked on a project that risks to bankrupt the country.”

James Delingpole, commenting on the GWPF's reports, hits the nail on the head:

Boris Johnson’s net zero by 2050 scheme — so far largely unopposed and uncriticised, even by Conservative MPs — is an uncosted, ill-considered, virtue-signalling disaster in which the British economy will be forced to commit unilateral energy suicide to no purpose while the fossil-fuel economies of China, the U.S., India and Brazil continue to grow and grow.

All of which is to say, the leadership of both the Conservative and Labour parties would do well to learn a few lessons from Macron's experience. The French president's approval ratings currently sit in the low 30% range and recent polling puts dissatisfaction with his performance at 68%. Whichever party manages to speak to the issues of those disaffected workers is likely to dominate in the future in Britain. And if neither of them do, well, perhaps neither of those parties will have a future.

'Progressivism' Versus Progress

A cry is going up across the world— in Cambridge England, in Germany, and above all in Canada. It’s the cry heard down the ages from the Common People, the Reasonable Person, the Over-burdened Taxpayer, the Forgotten Man, the Silent Majority, and whoever is feeling his shoes pinching and his belt tightening. That cry today is more puzzled and poignant than usual because it expresses bafflement as well as indignation.

That cry is: “What the hell’s going on?”

The note of inquiry is entirely justified. Last week some hooligans (in Newspeak: protesters) invaded Trinity College, Cambridge and dug up its famous lawn, carting off the soil and dumping it in Barclay’s Bank. They were activists from Extinction Rebellion, or XR, a group of Green extremists, who argue that since there is a “climate emergency” that will destroy humanity, civilization, and the world in about a decade, they will take direct action now to obstruct and punish companies and institutions that “profit from” the emergency.

Their justifications for this ecological vandalism—the Trinity lawn was itself a symbol of environmental stewardship over centuries—both vary and multiply.

In this case the protesters were angry both because Trinity has investments in “fossil fuel” companies and because it had sold land to the Port of Felixstowe which might be used for a car park. Half of Britain (and most of the world) depends on fossil fuels for their energy. Industry and individual car-owners depend on car parks in order to move goods and themselves around the country. All these activities are legal, and the government regulates them to ensure that, as far as possible, they don’t impose unwanted costs on third parties or the general public. XR’s vandalism, on the other hand, imposed quite serious costs on Trinity, Barclay’s, the people living in Cambridge, and not least the environment.

Two days later, while the public outrage was still fresh, the protesters added a new complaint: the university had sold land for developers to build housing. The project in question had been designed to be environmentally sustainable. The claim of sustainability did not save it, however, because it was to be sold at a unit price of £385,000 that could only be bought by wealthy people.

A quick check via Google shows that £385,000 is lower than the average price for a Cambridge house which is a little over £388,000. So, in principle, Extinction Rebellion is opposed to building sufficient housing in Cambridge for a rising population. If XR runs out of specific justifications for its vandalism, however, that won’t really handicap it. Any extended discussion of XR’s aims invariably climaxes with its call to end “capitalism” which in XR’s ideology is the cause of all environmental ills.

Yet even a brief glance at the history of the Soviet bloc would show that it had a far worse environmental record than any Western country. Two examples from its last days suggest the ecological consequences of replacing capitalism with “socialism”: the pollution of Lake Baikal so befouled with chemicals that it actually caught fire—and the breakdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor (recorded in a brilliant dramatized HBO miniseries.) Chernobyl’s breakdown scattered nuclear fallout over a large region but it was concealed for a time by a managerial bureaucracy anxious to protect the good name of Soviet nuclear power. Such risks inevitably grow when a Politburo which manages industry consists of the same people who appoint the regulators and dictate coverage in the media.

If it makes you happier, by all means call them “the People.”

 

Nevertheless, the environmental history of socialism provides a very weak argument for getting rid of capitalism. Yet, it is where most solutions to the climate emergency end up and, not coincidentally, where they begin too.

Why so?

XR’s multiplication of justifications for their hooliganism is explicable when you realize that their predictions of doom keep not happening. And when any particular doom doesn’t happen, the climate seer needs to invent another likely catastrophe to justify his activism. Dr. Madsen Pirie, founder of the Adam Smith Institute in London, gave a fairly comprehensive list of such predictions here.

Of course, Pirie was writing in 2014; the list will be longer now. But however often the predictions are falsified, the soothsayers never admit error. Like the religious lunatics who assemble on a mountain to witness the Apocalypse in this Peter Cook sketch, their conclusion is always: “Okay, next week, same time, same place. We must get a winner some time.”

This combination of hooliganism and hysteria is happening not only in Cambridge. Similar protests erupted recently in Germany where the local XR activists were trying to halt the building of a factory that will manufacture electric cars. (Such are the contradictions of climate emergency ideology.) Parts of London have been repeatedly brought to a halt by XR demonstrators who have glued themselves to streets and police vehicles in recent months to demand a change in government energy policy from its current enthusiasm for carbon reduction to monomaniacal passion on the topic. And as readers of The Pipeline know better than anyone, half of Canada has been effectively immobilized by protesters who block railroads and highways in a campaign of forceful obstruction to prevent a pipeline that has passed every legal, democratic, and indigenous test laid down by governments hostile to it.

All of these cases of activism, though described as “non-violent,” involve the use of force to prevent individuals and companies going about their lawful business or simply going about. This is worth pondering. If protesters leave others only a choice between using force of their own to overcome obstruction or abandoning their lawful business, it is false to describe the obstruction as non-violent. Obstruction is itself a kind of tame violence—which is why laws in every country prohibit it. And why the police are required by law to intervene, prevent the obstruction, and enable the general public to live their lives.

Which brings us to a curious aspect of these protests—namely, the passive (and sometimes active) cooperation of the police and governments with the protesters. In Cambridge the police discussed with XR protesters which roads should be closed; they were on hand to see that their obstructionism observed the agreement; and they stopped members of the general public from removing the obstacles erected (one of which forced an ambulance to turn back.) They took no action to prevent the digging up of the Trinity lawn. Nor does Trinity seem to have requested their intervention. And though they have since brought charges against people suspected of offenses in these cases, that was probably in reaction to the angry and widespread public criticism of their previous inaction.

Earlier that inaction had been defended by a police spokesman on the grounds that legislation gives police a duty to superintend political protests. That seems right. But commonsense suggests that it means they should regulate such protests rather than assist them to gain their objectives. Laws also require the police to enable ordinary citizens to go about their lawful business unhindered. Taking those two duties together, they require police to regulate protests in such a way as to enable citizens to go about their lawful business. If it comes to a choice between those two duties, helping members of the public should come ahead of enforcing the will of activists upon them.

In the case of Canada, an entire government has been wobbling nervously for more than a week in order to avoid enforcing public order on left-wing and environmentalist constituencies whose support it is reluctant to lose. Only when those defending the pipeline failed to surrender in a timely fashion did the Trudeau government move—still nervously—to require that the law and the democratic decision making process it supports be upheld. And as to that, we’ll see.

For the moment, these different but similar events illustrate the degree to which our political life throughout the West has been changed by the cultural conquest of our institutions by progressive ideas. Under progressive governments which sympathize with the protesters, of course, but also under conservative governments which fear to challenge a respectable orthodoxy even when it breaks the rules that are supposed to govern everyone.

That conquest, which had already taken over the HR departments of corporations, the media, and even the armed forces, has now spread to the police who seem to have imbibed the silliest sociological ideas of the last few decades. In these cases they apparently have decided that the police should, where any choice exists, side with the protesters against society—even when, as here, the protest movement is unusually “white”—against the respectable classes who bear the odium of keeping society’s rules, obeying the law, and seeking change only through democratic channels. It looks liberal, but it is really a form of anarchy. And an anarchic police force is not something to treat lightly. It is odd and perhaps sinister.

Which is why people say: “What the hell is going on?”