From Secret Passages to Burning Bushes

In November last year, a paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It describes a geological "secret passage," located nearly 62 miles (100 km) below Earth's surface. Researchers think it allows a flow of mantle materials to travel from beneath the Galápagos Islands to beneath Panama. It may offer an explanation for why rocks from Earth's mantle have been found more than 1,000 miles from where they originated. What's significant about the secret passage is that until now, no one knew it even existed.

Such revelations are increasingly common. They deepen our understanding of things considered to be already understood or reveal things where little is understood. Whether revelations in physics, cosmology, or math and computer science, these discoveries have led society to develop technologically, economically, and even socially in an exceptionally brief period of time. Making new discoveries reminds us that we don’t always know as much about things as we think we do.

What lies beneath?

Enter climate change. It has been ascribed the pejorative cause for so many circumstances and events with a certitude that defies scientific reality? How has climate change made its way into corporate investing strategies and board room battles? How has it become the nagging cry from those in politics around the world, who seek to use it as a tool for greater control over every part of our lives?How has climate change become a religion for some while becoming a punch line for others?

At a time when we understand how much we still don’t know about so many things, how has this single narrative become the culprit for every foul weather event, thawed acre of tundra or fuzzy creature wandering in a forest too close to human populations? Climate change it seems, is the grim reaper of the 21st century. It is so predictable that it's become… boring.

As 2022 opens, perhaps a quick dip into climate change calamities of the past will remind us that from secret passages to burning bushes, climate change isn’t the cause of everything.

Star(fish) Power
Beginning in 2013, starfish began dying on a scale not previously seen. The starfish fell apart… with pieces of their arms walking away, or their bodies disintegrating into mushy piles. With no understanding of what was causing these deaths, climate activists quickly snatched up the opportunity to assert that they knew the mush-inducing mess was caused by climate change. The assertion, after all, is the proof. It requires no more than a non-profit newsletter to make the claim and NPR to report on the newsletter and…boom… case closed.

"What we think is that the warm water anomalies made these starfish more susceptible to the disease that was already out there," says Joe Gaydos, the science director at the University of California, Davis' SeaDoc Society and one author of a study out today in the journal Science Advances.

He and co-authors analyzed data collected by scuba divers and found that divers were less likely to see living sea stars when the water temperatures were abnormally high. "To think that warmer water temperature itself can cause animals to get disease quicker, or make them more susceptible, it's kind of a like a one-two punch," Gaydos says. "It's a little nerve-wracking."

RIP. Gotta be climate change.

But what of the truth? It turned out to be a virus.

Eventually dubbed "Sea Star Wasting Syndrome," the phenomenon caused a massive die-off of multiple species of starfish stretching from Mexico to Alaska. Tissue samples of sick and healthy starfish were ultimately analyzed by a team of international experts. They sought all the possible pathogens associated with diseased starfish. The research team then conducted DNA sequencing of the viruses and compared them to all the other known viruses. Once they had identified a leading candidate, they tested it by injecting the densovirus into healthy starfish in an aquarium. Then they watched to see if the disease took hold. And sure enough it did. The virus killed the starfish in the aquarium the same way it had been killing them in nature.

The die-off was also linked with an increase in urchin population and a reduction in kelp, according to a study published in Science Advances. In other words, there was more going on than merely the vague, all-encompassing, "climate change" theory. Thankfully, scientific inquiry won out over political postulating and the actual cause was ascertained. Spoiler…it wasn’t climate change.

Burning Bushes
Wildfires are a well-understood aspect of living in the western United States. But so too are forest-management practices. Fail to manage forests and wildfires will be more frequent and more devastating. But like flies to honey, the media rallies around the "climate change" narrative without a scintilla of interest in understanding the real causes of wild land fires.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, as many as 85 percent of wild land fires in the U.S. are caused by humans. That’s right, humans, not climate change. Human-caused fires result from unattended camp fires, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes, sparks from vehicles or equipment and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 15 percent are started by lightning or lava.

Definitely climate change.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 7.6 million acres burned in the U.S. in 2021 due to wildfires. That's about 2.6 million fewer acres than in 2020. California's Dixie fire was the largest 2021 wildfire, burning more than 960,000 acres and destroying more than 1,300 homes and buildings before being contained. Activists asserted that drought, caused by climate change, was the reason the fire had started. However, just recently Cal Fire said investigators have determined that a tree contacting Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power lines caused the Dixie Fire. Proper forest management -- the kind California used to be able to do in its sleep -- likely would have prevented the destruction.

The 2020 fire season was no different. The 7,000-acre El Dorado fire, was started by electronic equipment that malfunctioned at a "gender-reveal" party. That particular fire was reported in the media as being the result of climate change. Other fires throughout the state that year were started by lightening. California’s poor forest management practices allowed all of the fires to grow out of control, not climate change. Worth remembering to never blame on climate change that which can be explained by general governmental incompetence or ideologically-driven political messaging.

California's Fatal Energy Lysenkoism

In the art of distorting scientific facts for political purposes, California has to earn a global Lysenkoism medal. Its politicians are seemingly wedded to the idea that man is responsible for global warming and reducing fossil fuel use will reverse this trend. They have engaged in a series of misdirected actions that will only increase fossil fuel emissions worldwide while creating more poverty, famine and death .

Even assuming for the sake of argument what cannot be proven—that man can control the earth’s climate—California continues to enact legislation and regulations at cross purposes with this aim and at a perilous cost to its citizens and the world.

Rather than developing readily available energy sources under rational federal environmental regulations, that state—like the Biden Administration—demonizes them. Its unique regulatory environment has made manufacturing difficult if not impossible and as a consequence it relies on imports to meet the state’s energy and other needs. Unfortunately, in catering to the green crazies who have extraordinary political clout there, they only are creating more very dangerous air pollutants.

Trofim Lysenko, the man who starved millions.

Ronald Stein explains: " You see most of what Californians import enters the states on cargo ships, and they are the biggest transport polluters in the world, using low-grade bunker fuel, the cheapest, most polluting fuels ,fuels known to emit cancer and asthma-creating pollutants. Worldwide “90,000 ships…burn approximately 370 million tons of fuel per year, emitting 20 million tons of sulfur oxides.” This level of pollution is equal to that of 50 million vehicles.

Among the cargo ships unloading in the state are those carrying hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil—58 percent of the crude oil used in the state -- largely as feedstock to refineries for manufacturing oil and derivatives necessary for military use, medical supplies, airlines, cruise and merchant ships, among countless other  things.

Here's the tradeoff California governor Gavin Newsom has made, instead of allowing production in-state of crude oil in one of the most oil-rich states in the Union:

Instead of protecting Californians’ health by forbidding production in-state and ridding the state of crude oil altogether without any viable replacement in the name of stopping "climate change," the result will instead be millions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition and weather-related deaths.

If you think that is a hyperbolic description of the consequences, consider the problem created by California’s banning of gas-powered generators, lawnmowers and leaf blowers. This month the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to ban the sale of off-road generators in equipment starting in 2024 and portable generators in 2024. All are to meet zero-emission standards in 2028.

Gavin Newsom, the man who killed California.

The standards set by the CARB are so unrealistic, it’s likely to be impossible to find any such equipment by 2024. (Of course, the run on them in Nevada and a burgeoning black market then is predictable because these are such valuable tools.) But aside from reducing noise, which bothers neighbors who are rich enough to afford to pay for the extra labor it takes to mow the lawn and rid their property of fallen leaves or strong enough to manage these tasks, there are serious consequences.

Among those are this: California’s grid is underpowered and faces rampant outrages.

Banning generators could have countless and dangerous consequences. In fact, just last year, many Californians had to use generators to charge their electric vehicles so they could leave their homes during outages and reduce strain on the grid... California's electric situation is so problematic that earlier this year the state actually paid people to ignore emissions standards and use gas-powered generators to lighten  the load on the failing power grid... This option will be drastically reduced and could create massive and deadly problems for the state's residents.

But there’s more. Banning generators could seriously endanger lives of these who depend on them. People who need oxygen and other life-support equipment like CPAP machines, wheelchair lifts, elevators, and air conditioners, rely on home generators. And then there are RVs, often a choice of full time living quarters for retirees and the less affluent in the state’s pricey real estate market. These need generators. California state legislators in Sacramento are unconcerned with such things as they are of the consequences to remote construction and lumber production in areas far from the electric grid, occupations dependent on portable energy generation.

Lysenko’s fancy of hardened seeds and crop rotation led to widespread famine in the old Soviet Union. Newsom’s fantasy of life without fossil fuel will lead to disaster, too, unless somehow checked.

Sowing the Crime Wind, Reaping the Whirlwind

Who would have thought she was doing something dangerous? The young mother was returning home from a late afternoon walk on Nov. 28, pushing her infant child in a stroller. She opened the security gate in front of her home in the upscale Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, taking no notice of the two men in the car stopped across the street. Before she could close the gate and enter her home, the two men followed her into her yard and robbed her of her backpack and diaper bag before escaping. Neither the woman nor her child was injured.

Not as fortunate was Southern California philanthropist Jaqueline Avant, 81, who in the early morning of Dec. 1 was murdered in her Beverly Hills home. Named as the suspect was Aariel Maynor, 29, a recent parolee from the California prison where he had served a four-year sentence for robbery. Maynor was arrested by LAPD officers after he shot himself in the foot during a second home invasion in the Hollywood Hills, a few miles from the Avant crime scene.

We're no angels.

And out in the equally tony neighborhoods of West Los Angeles, residents are worried over a spate of similar crimes. The map at right, taken from the LAPD’s crime mapping website, shows the robberies, burglaries, and assaults reported across some of the city’s most monied real estate over the last four weeks. In two of the more recent examples, a man was injured and robbed outside a Brentwood hotel early Monday morning, and on Saturday evening, a holiday party in Pacific Palisades was invaded by two armed men who relieved guests of jewelry, iPhones, and an Apple watch.

If the Los Angeles Times account of the Pacific Palisades robbery is to be believed (not necessarily to be taken for granted), the LAPD’s response to the incident left much to be desired. The suspects had fled before police arrived, which is unsurprising, but as of the time the story ran, no detective had collected the security video from the home or even contacted the victims. The suspects, reassured no great effort is being expended to identify and apprehend them, can be expected to hit again.

Also expected to resume their predatory ways are the 14 suspects arrested in connection with a recent series of smash-and-grab robberies in Los Angeles, all of whom were released on little or no bail. Three of the suspects, two adults and a juvenile, were arrested after a car chase into South L.A. The two adults, despite their criminal records, were released without bail.

All of which raises an important question: If police and prosecutors are impotent in addressing surging crime, what is a citizen’s best response when confronted by a robber or home invader? The LAPD, like most police agencies, advocates compliance. “If you are being robbed,” reads the Community Alert Notification, “do not resist the robbery suspects; cooperate and comply with their demands. Be a good witness.” The bulletin also advises against following the suspects. “Leave the job of catching the suspect to the police,” it says.

It's great to get paid.

For most people this is sound advice, even if the police rarely catch the culprits. Few among us are prepared, mentally or physically, to resist an armed attack, and prudence dictates abandoning your valuables rather than risking your life. Recent statistics, however, suggest some Americans may prefer not to meekly surrender to those who would victimize them. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System recorded 187,585 inquiries for prospective gun purchasers on Black Friday alone, bringing 2021’s total to more than 687,000, slightly behind 2020’s record total.

Obtaining a weapon, though, is the easiest part of preparing for self-defense. Indeed, the presence of a gun can be harmful if one lacks the training, awareness, and mental attitude required to use it when the time comes. A gun in an untrained hand can quickly be turned against its owner. Equally important is knowledge of the laws regarding self-defense. And remember that even the most technically lawful exercise of self-defense can still subject a person to an ordeal in the justice system if the incident takes on political overtones (cf. Rittenhouse, Kyle).

Police officers are often asked when it is permissible to shoot someone in self-defense. The answer is it depends, both on the circumstances and the law in your particular state. As a general rule, deadly force can be used to defend against an attack likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. A stranger approaching while wielding a deadly weapon can in most cases be presumed to be manifesting malign intent, and one need not wait to be shot, stabbed, or clubbed before firing in self-defense.

Some may be surprised that California, with its reliably leftist politics, has a version of the “castle doctrine” on the books. California Penal Code section 198.5, enacted in 1984, grants the presumption of reasonable fear to someone using deadly force against a home intruder. Thus even an unarmed burglar can lawfully be shot by a resident, who need not later prove he was in fear for his safety. Laws in other states differ, so learn the ones where you live before arming yourself for protection. The better firearms training courses include instruction on the laws of self-defense.

No affirmative duty to be a victim.

Outside the home things are trickier and must be examined case by case. The young mother mentioned above, for example, would have been justified in drawing a gun on seeing the two robbers enter her yard, this despite the fact neither of them appeared to be armed. And if they failed to retreat at the sight of her gun, she may have been justified in shooting them. (And how much more satisfying viewing the video would be if she had?)

Keep in mind she was a lone woman with her infant child; a man, certainly one without a child in tow, might not be allowed similar latitude in the same circumstances. This is especially so in Los Angeles, where district attorney George Gascón’s sympathies lie more with criminal suspects than with crime victims.

We are daily presented with evidence that some people across the country are undeterred from their predations by the diminishing prospect of arrest and punishment, leaving to the law-abiding a choice between acquiescence and resistance. If you are among those who have armed themselves, get trained in the safe and effective use of your weapon and prepare mentally for the day you may have to defend yourself or someone else. If you’re going to be in the news, let it be as a defender, not as a victim.

'Blue States Are the Problem'

New York Times journalists Johnny Harris and Binyamin Applebaum take a look at the gross and grotesque inequalities in such "progressive" states as California, Illinois, and Connecticut and discover that the problems are coming from inside the house.

Enjoy the schadenfreude, with a heaping side order of hypocrisy, all washed down by the sweet tears of whine. With special guest appearances by Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and other enemies of the people:

The report looks at results in the 18 states where Democrats control all the levers of political power and compares the Democrat national party platform's prescription for things like housing and taxes to the reality on the ground. Spoiler alert: NIMBY!

At least rich liberals have common sense, even if they have no principles.

 

What'cha Gonna To Do When the Wind Don’t Blow?

I’ve often thought I should start a new kind of psychological therapy, one I call the Get Real School. Instead of listening to neurotics moan about their childhood toilet-training traumas, I’d have them discuss what their adult beliefs are, and we’d explore how sensible their concerns and plans are. If it took off, I’d expect that California’s and the European Union’s energy supplies  would benefit greatly from this therapy if only I could get their leaders into my office.

They have ignored utterly the need for energy reliability, discounted cost to consumers, overestimated the capacity of renewable energy, and underestimated energy demands. They  do so based  on the ridiculous concept that man can control the climate. To that end everything from cow flatulence to clean-burning natural gas must be stemmed in place of wind, sun and water. In the process, of course, they increase their own power over virtually every aspect of life within their domain.

It’s still mild in Europe right now, though winter is coming, a time when demand is always greater, and yet  even in a more benign fall there’s been a substantial shortage of energy and as a result an incredible increase in energy costs to consumers. 

To infinity and beyond!

Blame it on the North Sea winds which suddenly stopped blowing if you wish. I blame it on ludicrous energy policies. What do you do when the wind stops blowing (one-twenty fourth of its normal electrical production) and the windmills stand still? You rely on fossil fuels. To make up the shortfall, gas and coal-fired electrical producing plants are forced into play as backups.

British political geniuses counted on the wind farms to do away entirely with net carbon emissions by 2050. This may seem odd to officialdom’s deep thinkers, but just as man can’t control climate, so also he cannot control wind or sunshine or rainfall, either. Well, you might say, the U.K. is lucky to still have backup fuels to pick up the shortfall. But, no, the same central planning that counted on wind has also set up a system of purchasable carbon credits to offset the use of such fuels. Quite naturally, the price of those "credits" is soaring as the need for them increases. More sensible planners would have provided for suspension of the carbon-credit system when there’s an urgent need for them, but, of course, they did not.  

How substantial will the hit to the pockets of U.K. consumers be? At the moment electricity prices in the U.K. are seven times higher than they were last September -- up to $395 a megawatt hour for power to be dispatched the next day. France, Germany and the Netherlands are also seeing substantial energy cost increases. Here’s how this works:

Gas is in short supply right now and renewables aren’t pulling their expected share, so utilities must buy more coal, and when they do they have had to buy more emissions allowances as well. And the increased costs have to be passed on to consumers -- directly for electricity  (and indirectly through the higher costs of goods and services). So, wherever possible, energy producers  have returned to gas and that meant gas prices have also shot up. Still, they are able to generate some electricity using these backups right now. But, despite this experience, the U.K. demands that all coal plants must close by 2024. When and if they do, the situation will certainly be more dire.

At the moment, the only companies that profit from the shift to wind power are U.S. exporters of liquified natural gas and Russian gas exporters. This winter, if the North sea wind blows, they better pray it doesn’t at the same time freeze the windmills or blow them down.

Um... hello?

California is also suffering from an electricity shortfall.  And its plan is to allow more air pollution for 60 days. That state has been relying heavily on solar energy  and wind. It also relies on hydroelectric power but drought and wildfires have limited the capacity of that source. The summer heat increases demand for electricity. So much so, that the state predicts a shortfall sufficient to power 2.6 million homes in the coming months.

To avoid that, it has requested that six natural gas units throughout the state be permitted to operate at maximum capacity “notwithstanding air quality or other permit limitations.” It will certainly be ironic if we see that  closing some gas plants that operated under emission controls to save the environment now results in  greater emissions because renewables proved insufficient, and the remaining gas plants were allowed to operate outside emission controls. While it seems not to have considered the consequences of its closure of fossil fuel generating plants, California suddenly seems to have noticed a cost-benefit issue, arguing to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm that the power outages posed “a greater risk to public health and safety” than the greater emissions. The request was granted September 10. Let’s see what happens after the 60-day reprieve is up and the rest of the state’s green energy plan is implemented.

 On a higher  political level than California and the U.K., the game continues. John Kerry, the U.S. "Climate Change" envoy has been shuttling back and forth to India and China, the world’s greatest producers of  carbon emissions in what is certain to prove a vain attempt to persuade them to shortchange their countries of vital reliable, affordable energy. At the E.U., despite rocketing carbon-offset prices due to the insufficiency of renewable resources to meet demand, their climate czar Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice president, blathers on about that bloc cutting gas emissions “by at least 55 percent by 2030,” and offers up some big new thinking:

Even in Brussels there’s an occasional bright light. In this case it was Poland’s Anna Zalewska who noted citizens  unfortunately will “pay for the ambitions of the E.U.” And  the chair of the Parliamentary committee on the environment, who was all for the banning gas and diesel fueled cars, has contended that the notion of extending the carbon market to transport and buildings went too far. "Because we believe that the political cost is extremely high, and the climate impact is very low.”

What he’s really afraid of is massive social protests against such loony fiddling of something as basic to life as energy. And he should be. Winter’s just around the corner, European gas supplies are short and it’s a struggle, in any event, to get their older gas plants back on line. It may well prove that  a E.U. Christmas means there will either be  coal in the people’s electric plants or in the E.U. bigwigs' Christmas stockings.

Enemies of the People: Gavin Newsom

The Fossil Fuels Must Go Through

There is something surrealistically ironic about Joe Biden's Emergency Order to mobilize tanker trucks -- anything -- to keep the fossil fuels going. On the one hand it is a backhanded admission of how vital the products transported by the Colonial Pipeline are. On the other it is a reminder of how policy errors can progressively cascade through the system, one mistake compounding the others.

The federal government issued a rare emergency declaration on Sunday after a cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline choked the transportation of oil to the eastern U.S. The Colonial Pipeline, responsible for the country’s largest fuel pipeline, shut down all its operations Friday after hackers broke into some of its networks. All four of its main lines remain offline.

The emergency declaration from the Department of Transportation aims to ramp up alternative transportation routes for oil and gas. It lifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow. The U.S. is already dealing with a shortage of tanker truck drivers.

Why is there a shortage of tanker truck drivers? One reason is the Covid-19 lockdown. "We've been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it," said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the National Tank Truck Carriers. "It certainly has grown exponentially."

Warning: driver shortages ahead.

More fundamentally truck driving has become an unattractive lifestyle choice for young people. "The trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older... With an alarming amount of these drivers retiring within the next 10-20 years, we are quickly approaching a dangerous cliff." Given the 18-20-year-old group has the highest rate of unemployment of any age bracket that may sound surprising, but it less so when the strict regulatory requirements for commercial driver's licenses are taken into account.

It is telling that one of the first things Biden did to increase fuel-trucking capacity was to relax federal restrictions. For too long public policy has taken the availability of labor and energy for granted. "There are now more jobs available than before the pandemic. So why aren't people signing up?" asks NBC.

Economic impact payments, or stimulus checks, have also played a factor for some who are sitting out the labor market, some employers say. Factory owners and employers lament that the generosity of unemployment benefits and stimulus payments have some workers avoiding returning to work because they make more money not working.

“I had one guy quit who said I can make more on unemployment. I’ll take the summer off,” said Robert Stevenson, CEO of Eastman Machine Company, a producer of machines that cut specialty fabrics for industry. “I told him I can’t guarantee you’ll have your job back. He said, ‘I’ll take my chances.’”

It's easy to throw away capacity when you've got enough. Activist Kendall Mackey was willing to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline to make a statement. “The Keystone XL pipeline was never about any single pipeline. It’s about establishing a litmus test rooted in climate science and climate justice for government projects and infrastructure.” Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times that “my instinct is to always side with the folks who don’t want to drill for more oil.”

Oil -- who needs it?

Only a few had the wit to realize the years of fat don't last forever.  As Robert McNally wrote on CNN the years of lean eventually come. "When oil prices next boom (and trust me, they will), investors will resume interest in pipeline projects and whoever is in the White House may regret Keystone XL's cancellation because the United States will have to rely more on less stable trading partners for oil."

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the Russians no less is a reminder that old fashioned national security, fuel stockpiles and working class labor still matter in the real world. When you need them you really need them. Well might Joe Biden mimic Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."

Abolish fossil fuels and rednecks, but not yet.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Testing

Greetings again from Lyford Cay. I’m here at the house of some lovely friends I met at Annabel’s “Thanksgiving” party. I put Thanksgiving in quotes because it was an accommodation for me… a reasonably recent resident of Los Angeles who got quite used to the tradition in just a few short years, and Annabel being my dearest friend-and rather eager hostess, jumped at the chance to out-hostess everyone else.

I’d been holed up in London, in my childhood home, as Covid started cutting into my peripatetic life, and now found myself in Lyford, happily sunning and meeting other wonderful people. There was a bit of a flap over “some Americans” from New York who had a large party and one (yes, one) hostess tested positive. Other Lyfordians were purportedly “furious” but that’s mostly bluster since Americans are always assailed wherever they go. Luckily I can rely on my very posh British accent even if Judith (mummy) says I shouldn’t use the word posh anymore.

No Reset necessary here.

Over cocktails last night I’d met a lovely gay couple from France, by way of California, by way of London who like myself, take a huge interest in the health of our planet. They also live very near where I am staying and are purported to have a pool and ballroom to die for.

I’m looking forward to seeing it and discussing the intersections of our interests, even if I was confused as to why they claimed they’d had to relocate to France just to get married when California had been issuing licenses some five years prior.

They returned today for Christmas brunch and didn’t seem as eager to talk to me as I’d hoped, but I made my way over to them anyway. I was interested to hear their take on the Great Reset, as all I had was one Google search and daddy’s ever-informed dismantling of my shaky facts. They were less passionate about the environment than I’d understood—it was as if last night’s conversation didn’t happen and they seemed only to want to talk about how Covid had marginalised the LGBTQ community. Intrigued I listened. Apparently the Coronavirus had led to “a loss of safe spaces and the gay community was hardest hit”. Or so said Stephen, as his partner ditched us both.

At the risk of sounding like Daddy, I was beginning to think he was right and that the Great Reset affected every agenda the most. Meaning… if it mattered to you, you were affected.

“HOW?” I asked. And Stephen responded,

“Legal rights of trans people have eroded, and young LGBTQ are further harmed by the closure of safe spaces.”

“I see.” I said. Even though I really didn’t. I only knew that Japanese women had succumbed to suicide under Covid-19 in numbers greater than all of Japan’s other Covid deaths combined. I hadn’t heard this happening to any other bastion of society but I asked:

“Could safe spaces not migrate online as others have done?” I asked.

“Online are not safe spaces to be,” he said, “This is where they can face abuse, or get outed.”

And at which point I decided this conversation was nuts, in person-safe, yet online was a risk of being outed? And although supported by the World Economic Forum as fuel for the Great Reset, I wasn’t having it. Clearly NO ONE cares about the planet, least of all the man with the fabulous pool; and his London accent was sounding a bit more Lambeth if you asked me. 

Just then I overheard another conversation about the Great Reset and I nearly flew to their side. It was coming from a tall and very good-looking South African-accented gentleman named Galen. Never mind the sticky Rum Dum Sour dripping down my wrist.

“Hello I’m Jenny and…”

No sooner did I arrive when Galen said, “In the post-Covid Era…”

“Excuse me? I lobbed. “It’s now it’s own era?”

“Well there is no arguing that the Great Reset needs to happen and that capitalism has empirically failed.”

“Well, I believe there is such an argument.” I said,  "and might I present Exhibit A: Lyford Cay.”

“What I am TRYING to say…, he began, “is we envision a better, fairer world, integrating the next generation to be in harmony with nature again.”

“What you are SAYING…is Marxism.” I insisted.

Galen gave me the why don’t you go back to the nursery look which was not going to work on me.  I brushed my voluminous curls to one side and looked at him with fresh eyes. He was trying to convince himself as much as me, and having taken this moment I could see that.

“What I’m saying IS…” He began again, “is we can take the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution and provide everyone with better lives.”

I could hear Daddy shouting in my ear or maybe it was just blood welling in my temples. Better lives? He was just parroting the ridiculous stuff I’d heard from that very mixed- up fellow, Klaus Schwab.

“Fascinating” was all I replied, and before I could take my leave he asked,

“What is it you do?”

“DO???” I responded. “Surely you remember from the pre-Covid era… one does not just ask what one does at a social gathering.”

Happy happy, merry merry.

His eyes steeled against mine and now it was me panicking. I was just not going to tell him I was a life coach… he would never understand the importance.

“My family is in oil exploration. I declared. And speaking of a commitment to making things once again in harmony with nature… fracking.”

I could smell a bit of Rum Dum Sour I’d transferred from my hand into my hair, but of course he couldn’t.

“Anyway… Happy Christmas!” I added. And split.

A Second, Unaccountable EPA for Biden?

Liberals continue to fret about how the Biden Administration will enact Joe's climate agenda without complete Democratic control of Congress. For the latest example of this genre, here's Derek Brower writing in the Financial Times:

More than 81 million Americans and a majority of electors backed a candidate who said he hoped to “transition from the oil industry” and put clean energy at the centre of a US$2 trillion green plan to decarbonize American electricity in 15 years and create a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050....

Yet as the dust settles on Biden’s victory, the political realities are starting to set in too. Despite retaining a majority, Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and at best can hope to split the Senate 50:50 by winning two run-off elections in Georgia in January. For all the enthusiasm of his supporters — and despite the mandate from the popular vote — the full gamut of Biden’s transformative US$2 trillion energy plan has little chance of progressing through such a divided chamber.

Brower goes on to lament "an increasingly conservative judiciary will be an obstacle to federal bodies acting expansively" (translation: Trump-appointed judges will make it difficult for Biden's White House to work around the Constitution), and consequently it will likely take a few years to fully undo Trump's efforts at rolling back onerous regulations on the resource sector.

He is hopeful, however, that a few key administrative actions will have big impact nationwide. These include toughening up fuel economy standards and granting California a new Clean Air Act waiver (Trump revoked the previous one) which will allow the state to impose significantly stricter emissions standards than the federal government, an act which (because of the Golden State's size) could have a ripple effect on the entire auto industry.

Brower is also encouraged by Biden’s announced appointments of "several heavyweights to key energy positions" which he feels denote a "bold climate agenda," the lack of Congressional support notwithstanding. He mentions a few of these appointments, including new international climate envoy John Kerry and domestic "climate czar" Gina McCarthy. These names are, in fact, pretty striking, especially considering the roles they've accepted. Kerry, former Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state, and McCarthy, a former EPA chief, have both been cabinet members and now they're content with newly created positions which sound pretty meaningless. What gives?

The Daily Caller's Larry Behrens thinks he's figured it out. His contention is that Biden's object is to create what is effectively a second EPA within the White House, one whose officials aren't confirmed by the Senate and whose actions won't require congressional oversight.

Kerry and McCarthy are perfect choices for that type of role. They're big names who will get the liberal media excited, but who might be shy of Senate confirmation hearings. According to Behrens, McCarthy would be especially reluctant to answer questions about her most recent job as head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "an environmental organization that faced scrutiny for their relationship to Chinese entities." Of course, as Behrens points out, this is an appropriate background for her new job, which is to undermine America's resource industry while pushing solar panels that are manufactured in China.

Framed that way -- a president creating powerful executive branch positions for people who are unlikely to get through a senate confirmation to enact a policy agenda that he didn't campaign on for the benefit of a foreign power -- this all is a perfect encapsulation of modern American governance.

Toyota Chief on Electric Cars: Slow Down!

The Observer reports on some very striking comments by Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda, on the topic of Electric Vehicles. EVs are hot right now, with the automotive industry investing heavily in them, and governments throughout the world (prominently, as The Observer mentions, those of Great Britain and California) looking to aid their development by banning the sale of gasoline and diesel engines in the not-too-distant future.

But Mr. Toyoda is not convinced that they are the answer. At a recent press conference, he pointed out a few problems with the projected shift to EVs. First, he claimed that “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse" if the industry shifts to EVs too quickly. No word on whether he thinks that the oft-discussed 10-15 year timeline put forward by activists in and out of government falls into that category, but it wouldn't be surprising if that is exactly what he had in mind.

Next, he pointed out that "Japan [for one] would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power." There just isn't enough electricity to go around, especially with battery technology being what it is. He estimated that "the infrastructure needed to support a 100 percent EV fleet would cost Japan between 14 trillion and 37 trillion yen ($135 billion to $358 billion)," a hefty percentage of GDP for a famously stagnant economy like Japan's.

Worth noting that it is a lot cheaper to generate the electricity a given vehicle needs on site -- that is, within the vehicle itself, as a gasoline powered combustion engine does -- than producing it elsewhere and transporting to the car.

And, following up on that point, he called attention to the fact that "most of the country’s electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, anyway," so the stated goal of leaving fossil fuels behind by shifting to EVs isn't going to happen. In his words:

The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets… When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is probably "No," both for the politicians and the propagandists in the media.