Actually, the Earth Didn't 'Heal' Itself

Early on in the pandemic, former Greek finance minister (and current lefty activist) Yanis Varoufakis posted the following now-infamous  tweet:

It was a perfect example of what the very online call "saying the quiet part loud," an admirable tendency of Varoufakis. The idea was that the δῆμος (or the plebs for us descendants of western Europe) were responding pretty well to the unprecedented government intrusion into their everyday lives, and that post-Covid we should extend the state of emergency in order to put an end to "climate change."

It was essentially the opening salvo of the Build Back Better/Great Reset discourse, and also anticipated the  "Earth is Healing Itself" trope which emerged shortly thereafter. Since the Earth is doing such much better with us behind closed doors, went this line of thinking, perhaps we should stay there.

Well, unfortunately for Varoufakis and other likeminded leftists, the lockdowns don't seem to have effectively laid the groundwork for their green utopia. Jim Geraghty points out that climatologists are now saying that "carbon dioxide emissions fell by [only] 5.8 percent" due to the Covid-related lockdowns, which "merely amounts to a short-lived 'blip'" on the scale of global CO2 emissions. Geraghty explains the significance of this finding:

The global impact of COVID-19 is difficult to overstate. The earth literally grew quieter for several months, causing human-caused vibrations around the globe to be cut in half. At least 3 million excess deaths in 2020, a global working-hours impact four times worse than the 2008-2009 financial crisis, about $4 trillion in lost productivity, a huge drop in global gross domestic product, school closures for roughly 1.5 billion children around the world. This is about as big and bad as anyone could imagine, short of World War Three or the apocalypse. And if this kind of a halt to all kind of human activity wasn’t enough to have a significant impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then no change in human behavior is going to make a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

In point of fact, it's hard to conceive of a more illustrative and visceral argument for our side of this debate. "You want to use the power of the government to massively reduce carbon emissions? Well, remember how awful the Covid lockdowns were? You'll have to do a lot more than that."

Great Reset hardest hit.

Lucky for all of us, higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere seem to have some real benefits, most especially for plant life and global crop yields. And then there's the fact that technological innovations like the improvements in fracking techniques, have enabled America's transition away from high-carbon coal to low-carbon natural gas, contributing to our leading the world in total emissions decline since 2000.

So maybe true lovers of the planet should consider leaning into the American energy revolution and embracing their ancient enemies, fracking and nuclear power, and stop lobbying for western nations to heavily invest in China's toxic waste generating solar panels, which are, by the way, built using coal-fired power plants.

A man can dream.

Watching Civilization Die, One Lie at a Time

It is a cliché to say that one first must correctly diagnose a problem to solve it. Let’s cliché:

Climate Change is not about climate. Covid lockdowns, masks and vaccines are not about a virus. Critical Race Theory is not about race. BLM is not about Black lives. Antifa is not about antifascism.

These are about culture; the only culture that has succeeded over the past millennium, the cultures and subcultures that have not, and the members of those cultures that hate our success – or are moving here to take advantage of it. (Illegal immigration isn’t about immigration; it’s about emigration. From failed cultures.)

By succeeding so completely where all others have not, Western civilization has made itself their target. In refusing to address the current pathologies as cultural, we are playing a game using rules by which we cannot win, a game different from the war waged on us and our success by our enemies: No one ever is going to win an argument over the immutable – and irrelevant – characteristics of race and sex. So why play?

It is perhaps ironic that the superiority of our successful culture has created and distributed technology to less-successful cultures showing not only that they have failed, but that they have failed so comprehensively that they may never be able to catch-up.

To paraphrase, “We are all living The Camp of the Saints now.”

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

“Climate change” is unsupported by facts or evidence; even the U.N. says it’s about re-ordering the global economy (i.e. Marxism), and not the climate.

Covid was (is) about grabbing power; why else the constant lies from Fauci, the CDC, NIH, the MSM and the DNC, while those “leading” us against the virus were unmasked at ball games, non-social-distancing at fancy restaurants and hair salons closed to the rest of us, and vacationing in Florida when we couldn’t get on airplanes?

Critical Race Theory is about forcing a successful culture to adapt to an appallingly, seemingly intentionally, unsuccessful culture. It has nothing to do with race other than the success of the racialists among us making bank on destroying their communities. If Blacks always have been oppressed, explain Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King, Jr, Ben Carson, Colin Powell, Andy Young, Dick Parsons, Barack Obama. If whites always have been the oppressor, explain why the majority of welfare beneficiaries are white.

BLM? Looking at the subculture of African Americans we find that the incidence of illegitimacy was lower and the rate-of-entry to the middle class higher (i.e. a successful culture) before welfare than after. Paying people not to work, giving one an unearned living standard, kids never seeing Dad go to work does not capture creativity, perseverance and imagination or create a work ethic, leading directly to the failed subculture of the inner-city ghetto and to BLM, a subculture convinced that its members cannot succeed – so they’re killing each other and demanding we both celebrate and imitate their culture.

Who convinced African Americans of their inability to compete? The same cohort that has owned public education for 75 years and puts the worst schools and teachers in the inner city because that’s how much they care about African Americans. The same cohort running BLM, believing that a culture based on the always-failed Marxism can succeed. This time. If it’s done right. These “leaders” have indoctrinated three generations to a culture that only succeeds in failure and death. So they are getting failure and death.

Antifa? Nothing but a bunch of opportunistic, fascist thugs that any confident culture would crush.

Things will – can – only get worse until and unless we address them correctly.

Somebody with a dream lived here once.

Were I an educated member of a failed culture, say, China, that never invented glass (if you ever have wondered why no craters on the moon have Chinese names, this is why) but that last century murdered as many as 80,000,000 of its own and now cannot move forward without buying food from, and stealing the money and progress of, the West, or a member of a Third World culture practicing authoritarian socialism, I’d demand of my leadership what we once demanded in the West: honesty, the Rule of Law and capitalism. Because history proves that these – and only these – can create a successful culture.

Now that we know what is driving these pathologies, we need to be willing to stand up in the face of this nonsense: this isn’t about race, so stop. This isn’t about climate, immigration or a virus, so stop. Then enforcing “Stop” as hard as is necessary to end this attack on our culture – which we also call “civilization.”

We need to return to national confidence and assimilation, for confidence in and assimilation to our uniquely successful culture – which we required of our own and of immigrants from our founding until the 1960s – will lift all boats, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, etc.

If we want to help the rest of the world, rather than invading it or subsidizing socialism, we should subsidize success: the Rule of Law and capitalism. And quit yammering about the idiocy of Climate Change, the nonsense of still-prevalent racism, and the anti-science lies of our “leaders,” locking down the world only to enhance their quest for totalitarian power at the expense of our liberty and prosperity.

Success – succeeds. Failure – fails. Culture is what our national division is about. It cannot be healed by accepting, prolonging or accelerating failed cultural choices. Acknowledge the reasons for success – and demand them. Acknowledge the reasons for failure – and stop making excuses for them.

Continuing to engage racists about race, climatists about climate, fascists about fascism, and liars about disease is counterproductive. The issue is culture, and it is on that field that must confront, and defeat, them.

Surprise: Models Slip and Fall Yet Again

Near the beginning of the pandemic I wrote a feature about the problem with predictive models, which were at the time being continuously cited to justify unprecedented restrictions on normal life. Time has shown the models that were in operation at the time to have been, in some respects, too gloomy, and in others, too optimistic. Which is really to say that they ended up being just as unreliable as I argued at the time, and should not, therefore, have been the north star we used to navigate through the choppy WuFlu waters.

Well, for a more recent demonstration of this phenomenon, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight rightly points out that actual Covid case numbers have fallen well below what all twenty-two CDC approved models predicted back in early May. Most (though not all) held that Covid cases would continue to decline in the U.S., pushed down by the combined forces of vaccine reception and warm weather, with the average model suggesting that we'd end up at about 28,000 cases per day. In real life that decline did indeed occur, but we've ended up with roughly half of the projected number of cases, and this with states opening much faster than the CDC was recommending at the time the models were released.

Wrong about Covid, wrong about climate change.

As I discussed in the initial post, the numerous failures of predictive models  are well known to close watchers of the climate debate. We've watched a familiar cycle -- where a new model which anticipates calamity is released, inspires ominous headlines and hand wringing from professional activists and politicians, and is eventually revised when reality fails to conform to it. Of course by then the damage is done, and the headlines are burnt into the brains of regular people who don't have the time or capacity to debunk every bit of misinformation thrown their way.

Dare we hope that the failures of the pandemic are enough to open peoples' eyes? Well, if this Gallup poll is correct that 71 percent of Democrats and more than 40 percent of independents think the case number decline is a mirage, and we should continue to stay home for the foreseeable future, the answer to that is probably 'No.'

Deus lo Vult -- but Whose God?

Fighting on multiple fronts often ends badly. Not always. Israel fought on three fronts in the Six-Day War and won but then there was no survivable fallback option. Maybe that was the pivotal factor. In any event, this isn’t about warfare in the usual sense. However, it is about survival. Survival of our way of life and the forces which threaten it.

There are many foundational features of our Western way of life. The centrality of the traditional family. National cohesiveness. Trust as a default. Free market forces. Numbers of individual freedoms. A lot to undo. Time and chance cometh even to Marxists and their ilk.

Take over schools and colleges and teach children that their sex is matter of choice; that family settings are equivalent however structured; that the contrary opinions of others are hateful; and, if white, that they suffer from racial animus consciously or not and, if of colour, that they’re victims. Promote equity, diversity and inclusion at the workplace. In other words, ennoble the old prejudice of valuing appearance over competence. And the job is half done.

1099: where is Godfrey of Bouillon when we need him?

Enter climate change alarmism. Little in common you might think with wokeism. True at one level. At another, both strike at our way of life. Cheap, reliable and abundant energy is key to progress and prosperity. Costly, unreliable and intermittent energy will make us poorer. If only that were the end of it. Impoverishing changes can’t be foisted onto societies without accompanying coercion. Such is the scale of the changes envisaged that only overwhelming force will do it. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

The inroads of renewable energy and electric cars is miniscule as of now. But imagine: everyone is made to drive electric cars; to rid their homes of all heating besides electric; to insulate their homes; and, inevitably, to economise on, and regularly shut down, their power usage. Little or no meat, more nut burgers, complemented with insect pie, if you want to get really green (around the gills). Those in charge will need to devise ways of making people and businesses obey. Free market forces on both the supply and demand side will be so compromised as to be unrecognisable.

Then comes chance, delivering the coup de grâce. To wit, Covid-19 and, its disciple, Covid-fearmongering. It could not have been better timed if it had been planned. Klaus Schwab and his billionaire fellow travellers filled a straight flush. The Great Reset (unveiled in May 2020) was off and running. Australia, The Lucky Country, is a case study into a possible dismal, unlucky, future.

From Bastard to Conqueror in 1066: never underestimate the enemy.

As I write in early June, the entire Australian state of Victoria is in its fourth lockdown after just a handful of positive tests. People hundreds of miles from the scene have been ordered to stay close to their abodes and mask up. Yet only three people are in hospital; only nineteen in the whole of Australia. None in ICUs. No-one has died of the virus this year.

In Australia, eradication is the name of the game. What this means is that the virus, unlike any virus heretofore known to man, must behave. For, if it keeps misbehaving and escaping from one of those quarantine hotels, which leak like sieves, lockdowns will be never-ending. Remember, along with North Korea, Australia shares the distinction of preventing its citizens from leaving; lest they want to return.

Greg Sheridan is a sensible and sober foreign affairs journalist. Sadly, he is one of many who’ve been struck with Covid derangement syndrome. This is a taste of his writing; this time in the Australian newspaper on June 3: “But this cunning, adaptive and supremely successful virus is by no means beaten yet... And if we ever do get to that possibly mythical land beyond Covid…”

Putting Covid behind us, you see, is akin to reaching Camelot. Pause here. There is a threatening truth in that. A $200 million 500-bed quarantine centre is to be built close to a Melbourne airport. It’s Australia; it will take a longish time to build. Most everyone will have been vaccinated. Those flying in will most definitely have been vaccinated. Those in the know obviously know something that we don’t.

Having had more infections, most countries don’t suffer from delusions of eradication. Nevertheless, it would be extremely hopeful to expect a return to reason any time soon. I suspect that the world will be tangling gormlessly with Covid or son-of-Covid for some time to come. Vaccine-resistant strains will keep on popping up. Sheridan notes that of the people infected in Victoria several of them had been vaccinated. He says that the strain called Kappa is more probably more vaccine-resistant than Delta. Can anyone keep up with this increasing menu of virulent strains?

If it were only a morbidity with less outreach; like heart disease or malaria, as examples, which kill many more people. But alas, no, Covid is striking out at some of our foundational freedoms. Freedom of movement. Freedom of assembly. Freedom from enforced medical treatment. Freedom to worship. Freedom of speech – promote Ivermectin if you dare. Freedom from discrimination.

Alesia, 46 BC: are we Vercingetorix, or Caesar?

A fellow at my gym said to me, OK don’t have the jab but don’t take up a hospital bed if you get sick. This wouldn’t be said of someone with the flu or someone whose lifestyle contributes to their sickness or makes them prone to accidents. Here’s another Australian newspaper journalist, Peter van Onselen (June 5): “Most [getting seriously ill or dying] will be anti-vaxxers who arguably get what they deserve.”

Fascism creeps down from governments to apparatchiks to journalists to woke corporations to the police to scolds on the street. And once it takes hold, will it ever really go away? Might I  be more optimistic if I lived, say, in Florida or South Carolina? I’m not sure. Can any jurisdiction hold out indefinitely against vax passports? Their citizens won’t be able to travel and move freely. “Papers please” will likely become part of the new world-wide normal.

Add it together. What do you see? I see the Great Reset or one of its possible manifestations. Big government, loss of freedoms, loss of family values, loss of social cohesion, loss of trust. Bear in mind, this anti-Enlightenment prospective leaves out the cultural dislocation which is arising from mass controlled (and uncontrolled) immigration, particularly from the Islamic world. I didn’t want to get too depressive. It’s bleak.

But not time to give up. Backs against the wall nowhere to go. Truth on our side. An empire of lies on the other.

Damned Lies and Statistics: 'Climate Change'

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics,” a quote which Mark Twain in his Autobiography attributed to Benjamin Disraeli—though it more likely derives from the obiter dicta of the First Earl of Balfour. We all know—or should know—that statistics can be deceptive. Like language itself, they serve a dual function: to tell the truth and to lie—except that, unlike ordinary language, statistical contrivances appear to share the property of pure mathematics, that is, they seem objective, factual, impartial, and irrefutable. People are easily convinced, writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics, by a “spurious air of scientific precision.”

The only way to disarm plausible but specious statistical accounts is to dig down into the source data or, when feasible, simply to use one’s common sense. Of course, statistics can be woven out of whole cloth, total fabrications which are easily rumbled with a modicum of attention, but it is their subtlety, their playing with half-truths, that can be most persuasive and damaging. Telling half the truth can be more insidious than a manifest falsehood.

Stars and shadows ain't good to see by.

Global Warming statistics are among the most readily manipulable, delivering factoids that are true and yet false—in other words, in other words. The tactic is to present a lesser truth that disguises a greater one. For brevity’s sake, let’s take just a few examples of how “climate change” statistics can rank among the most effective means of producing assent to outright mendacities, coating whoppers with honey.

Consider the twaddle that came out of the University of Illinois’ 2009 survey that 97.4 percent of scientists agree that mankind is responsible for global warming, a finding which is easily debunked when one accounts for the selection methodology.

As Lawrence Solomon explains in a crushing putdown, the Illinois researchers decided that of the 10,257 respondents, the 10,180 who demurred from the so-called consensus “weren’t qualified to comment on the issue because they were merely solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists, astronomers and the like.” Of the remaining 77 scientists whose votes were counted, 75 agreed with the proposition that mankind was causing catastrophic changes in the climate. And, since 75 is 97.4 percent of 77, overwhelming consensus was demonstrated.

The real percentage, however, of concurring scientists in the original survey is a paltry .73 percent. That the chosen 75 were, as Solomon writes, “scientists of unknown qualifications” adds yet another layer to the boondoggle. This sort of thing is not a little white lie or an inadvertent statistical error. Once it reaches the point where a deliberate misconstrual must be maintained by the omission of details, the distortion of data and the suspicious liability to intentional error, we are in the presence of the great statistical charade as it is practiced by our accredited “experts.”

Not to be outdone, the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia developed a graph showing the trend to global warming, but neglected to note that it is calibrated in tenths of degrees rather than whole degrees, giving the misleading impression that the world is heating up when there is, in effect, little to no global warming to speak of. Similarly, the British climate journal The Register points out that NASA data have been “consistently adjusted towards a bias of greater warming. The years prior to the 1970s have again been adjusted to lower temperatures, and recent years have been adjusted towards higher temperatures.” Moreover, NASA data sets, as is so often the case, were predicated on omission, so-called “lost continents” where temperature readings were colder than the desired result.

Eureka! It's alive! 

As The Register writes, “The vast majority of the earth had normal temperatures or below. Given that NASA has lost track of a number of large cold regions, it is understandable that their averages are on the high side.” Additionally, NASA reports their global temperature measurements “within one one-hundredth of a degree. This is a classic mathematics error, since they have no data from 20 percent of the earth's land area. The reported precision is much greater than the error bar.”

The problem, warns Joel Best in Damned Lies and Statistics, is that “bad statistics live on; they take on a life of their own.” Their longevity supports their putative truthfulness. And the public is gullible, prey to the baked-in lies that Best calls “mutant statistics,” no matter how implausible.

Similarly, Tim Harford in The Data Detective, a celebration of good and useful statistical models, refers to the tendency toward motivated reasoning, i.e., “thinking through a topic with the aim, conscious or otherwise, of reaching a particular kind of conclusion.” Obviously, such thinking can work both ways, disparaging reliable statistics as well as valorizing dubious ones. The whole point, of course, is obfuscation, to keep people in the dark. Our soi-disant climatologists could just as well have written that climate is defined by a statistical curve in relation to a congruence subgroup of a modular elliptic, and the effect would have been the same. Whatever it means, it sounds official and incontrovertible.

In his essay, “March of the Zealots,” John Brignell comments on such acts of dissimulation. “If the general public ever got to know of the scandals surrounding the collection and processing of data [about global warming]… the whole movement would be dead in the water… It is a tenuous hypothesis supported by ill-founded computer models and data from botched measurement, dubiously processed.”

Examples of data manipulation abound. For more thorough analyses, see Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never, Steven Koonon’s Unsettled, Tim Balls’ The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science, and Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny, all of which are eye-openers. As Stanford professor Dr. John Ioannidis writes in a much-circulated paper provocatively titled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, “There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims. However, this should not be surprising.”

Flawed statistical analyses have become the established currency of the climate economy.

Black Monolith or Energy Black Hole?

Remember the famous scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monolith first appears? The proto-humans all gather round and practically worship the thing as a god. The same sort of thing is going on in Hawaii as we speak, except the monolith is one giant freaking battery and the worshippers are not ignorant apes, but enviro-nuts, which are pretty much the same thing now that I think about it.

The Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) project is being built on eight acres of land in Kapolei on the island of Oahu. When complete, the giant battery will be capable of storing up to 565 megawatt hours of electricity and dispatching up to 185 megawatts. In other words, it can put 185 megawatts onto the Hawaii grid for up to three hours.

By law, all electricity generated in the state of Hawaii is supposed to be produced using 100 percent renewable fuels by the year 2045. The island’s lone coal-fired power plant, with a rated capacity of 203 MW, is due to be forcibly retired next year. Plus Power, the company developing KES, says the battery will enable the grid to operate reliably once the coal plant goes down for good: “The 2022 completion of the KES project will ensure that the AES coal-fired plant will end operations, supporting the state’s goal of shifting from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy generation.”

Average hourly demand in Hawaii is about 1,000 megawatts. That’s average demand, peak demand – which is what really matters when talking about grid stability – is considerably higher. But, for purposes of this analysis, we’ll use the average, which leads us to an important question: can a battery that can satisfy a little less than 20 percent of demand for a period of three hours replace a coal-fired power plant that has the capacity to satisfy 2- percent of demand more or less continuously?

The answer, which should be obvious to any high-school physics student, is no. A battery does not produce electricity, it’s just a place for electricity produced elsewhere to hang out for a while. In the case of the state of Hawaii, most of that electricity is, has been and will continue to be produced by burning oil. Roughly 65 to 70 percent of Hawaii’s electricity is generated by combustion of petroleum liquids according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Funny, it doesn't look like a monolith.

About 17 percent of electricity was generated from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. That’s not bad, but it’s not anything close to the 100 percent goal. Worse, it’s likely that the battery will be primarily charged using electricity produced by burning oil, not by using electricity generated from renewable sources. The problem is the bugaboo that always affects wind and solar: capacity factor.

Capacity factor is a measure of how much electricity a power generation asset produces compared to what it theoretically can produce. If a plant is rated at 100 megawatts, but generates on average 40 megawatts, we say its capacity factor is forty per cent. Most nukes operate at capacity factors in the high nineties. Coal fired base-load plants are generally in the eighties, sometimes the low nineties.

Wind and solar have crappy factors because, even in Hawaii, the sun don’t always shine and the winds don’t always blow. Solar panels don’t have much to do at night and their efficiency drops significantly on cloudy days. Wind turbines can’t operate in calms or near-calms and, perversely, also have to shut down if the wind is too strong.

The Descent of Man: Feeling good about feeling good.

Again using EIA data, we find that last year the combined capacity factor for wind and solar was about 27%. So, while the total capacity of all renewable generation assets on Hawaii, 746 megawatts, sounds impressive compared to average daily demand, those assets will only generate about 200 megawatts on average. And when they are generating electricity it makes a whole lot more sense to pack it on the grid than sending it on a short vacation to the battery. The only time the battery will be charged using renewables is during those rare instances where there is a significant excess of renewable power. Most of the time, it’ll be charged up courtesy of fossil-fuel combustion.

Of course the battery will make a fine story for those who don’t understand how electricity works and allow eco-nuts to feel good about themselves. Will it do much of anything to help Hawaii meet its 100 per cent renewables mandate? Nope.

Caveat Emptor: Ready for 'ESG Misconduct'?

The Securities and Exchange Commission is the ultimate double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is a regrettably necessary federal agency that has a legitimate purpose for existing, and it has a decent track record of punishing financial fraud.

On the other hand, the SEC wields its disproportionate power far too readily.  The enforcement division often wrongfully targets minor offenders or innocents, puts them through the wringer, and even if they don’t bring litigation, end up bankrupting these unfortunates via legal fees.  The agency is also infamous for missing or ignoring warnings regarding massive fraud, such as that perpetrated by the late Bernie Madoff.

The SEC, particularly its enforcement division, should really be about protecting average investors.  They do very little in the way of educating the investing public, and instead engage in bureaucratic rigmarole more focused on deterrence -- which doesn't seem to work.

It's for your own good.

Regrettably, because it is a government agency, it is also subject to politics.  Theoretically, the agency is independent from any given administration, but it is highly unusual for the president to be on a completely separate page from the agency – unless you’re Donald Trump, and everyone is out to get you.

In the case of the Biden administration, the radical Leftist cabal propping up the doddering hair-sniffer is clearly dictating the SEC’s new priorities, and appointed a like-minded individual to run the show. Just look at the SEC’s new number one priority:  Climate change.  For real.

A March 4 press release trumpets an “Enforcement Task Force” focused on climate and ESG issues.  For those not up to speed, “ESG” means “environmental, social, and governmental" investing strategies. Just substitute “woke” and you get the same result.

But here’s the frightening thing: this “task force” is shaping up to be a climate change gestapo.  Per the release: “consistent with increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment, the Climate and ESG Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct.”

“ESG-related misconduct”?  What exactly does that mean?

Worse, what does this part mean? “The Climate and ESG Task Force will evaluate and pursue tips, referrals, and whistleblower complaints on ESG-related issues, and provide expertise and insight to teams working on ESG-related matters across the Division."

Is this as ominous as it sounds? As with anything involving politics, and especially anything involving Leftists, one must read between the lines to parse the meaning.  One must also examine the totality of information provided by not just one agency, but the power players inside the Beltway. That includes speeches by the acting SEC chair Allison Herren Lee before the Center for American Progress, a Leftist NGO, in which she said:

No single issue has been more pressing for me than ensuring that the SEC is fully engaged in confronting the risks and opportunities that climate and ESG pose for investors, our financial system, and our economy…this last year has helped to clarify why the perceived barrier between social value and market value is breaking down.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

So, yes, it is as ominous as it sounds because this appears to be the first step in moving the SEC away from its statutory mission of protecting investors, and instead pursuing the Marxist goal of dismantling capitalism via regulation.  It will begin with making certain that “ESG disclosures” adhere to some as-yet-undetermined criteria for which failure will lead to enforcement actions. This is also consistent with the SEC’s long-term strategy to expand its power.  That’s the very nature of government agencies.

Fortunately, it will take herculean efforts on the part of the Left and the SEC to make headway. The courts have generally ruled that it is preferable to let companies and investors interface on what matters are important enough to address and disclose.

In addition, the courts have traditionally given companies wide discretion regarding what is considered material information.  Attempting to expand the definition of “material information” to issues involving "climate change" stands far outside existing case law at the Supreme Court level.

For disclosures (or lack thereof) to be considered material, there must first be a duty to disclose.  It’s one thing for an energy or utility company to make (or fail to make) statements regarding climate or environmental issues.  It’s another for a company that has little or no adjacent exposure to those issues to have such a duty.

Even then, a landmark Supreme Court case, Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracaruso, made is clear that even failed to disclose material information may not be actionable.  The court wrote, “…it bears emphasis that [securities laws] do not create an affirmative duty to disclose any and all material information. Disclosure is required under these provisions only when necessary ‘to make…statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading’.”

In another landmark case in 2011, TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., the Supreme Court held that “there must be a substantial likelihood that the disclosure of the omitted fact would have been viewed by the reasonable investor as having significantly altered the 'total mix' of information available.”  Specifically, the court refers to the mix of information that investors rely upon prior to buying or selling a security.

Believe it or not, that ruling was unanimous and the opinion written by Justice Sotomayor.  One area where the liberal justices surprisingly get it right (sometimes) is on securities fraud cases.

There’s also a constitutional issue at play, generally referred to as “fair notice."  Multiple Supreme Court cases have determined that laws must give people a reasonable opportunity to know and understand what it prohibited.  Otherwise, enforcement is arbitrary and discriminatory.  That’s why agencies publish “rules” so as to provide some element of fair notice.

In what may turn out to be the height of irony, the National Resources Defense Council sued the SEC in 1978 because it wanted more expansive disclosure of environmental matters that were not mandated by statute.  The SEC actually opposed this, saying that too much disclosure would be unmanageable and expensive.

Without congressional mandate or rulemaking, the SEC stands on very weak footing as far as filing securities fraud cases in ESG matters. That's the good news. The bad news is that this doesn't mean the agency won’t try to satisfy the Biden administrations’ Leftist puppetmasters.   Naturally, this just means more resources taken away from what the SEC should be doing – protecting regular investors from genuine cases of fraud.

A Carbon-Neutral Deity?

Relativity permeates this earthly realm. Not Einstein’s but the common or garden variety of judging people and things against other people and things. For example, when Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, emerged from Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit he was condemned by the usual suspects for lagging behind the U.S., the U.K., and others, in not absolutely committing to net-zero emissions by 2050. On the other hand, he earned plaudits from the local conservative media rump for standing his ground; albeit much greener ground than he occupied a few years ago.

A conservative-leaning cartoonist in the Australian newspaper, Johannes Leak, caught the mood. Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern and Greta Thunberg were pictured at Joe Biden’s Mad Hatter’s tea party mocking Morrison approaching the table soberly with his “measurable achievements and realistic goals.” Accordingly, he basks in the glow of being less idiotically alarmist than his peers.

Of course, Australia’s so-called “achievements” (regarding his "realistic goals," more below) rest on a pipsqueak reduction in CO2 emissions which don’t move the gauge at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Nevertheless, in percentage terms, it’s relatively better than most. That’s what counts, apparently.

Whatever...

Is everything relative? Are there no absolutes? For a dwindling proportion of men and women there remains a God. For climate alarmists (and that’s now about everyone who’s anyone) a new absolute has emerged. This is vitally important. Religions need absolutes. If you are going have interfaith dialogue with the Pope, which John Kerry has just begun, you gotta have something to show. I suggest that carbon neutrality fits the bill.

“We have God, the way, the truth and the life,” the Pope averred.

“Well, Your Holiness, we have carbon neutrality, scary projections and wind turbines preventing the planet from becoming a fiery hellhole.”

“I think we've got a deal,” says the Pope.

OK, it might not have gone down quite like that. But there is no doubting the religiosity of climate change. And religions need an absolute.

Forget Kyoto and Paris and the relativity of comparing by how much this or that country has reduced its own emissions since 2000 or 2005. All now equally have to aim for, dare I say, the sacred number of net-zero. But what does it mean? Akin, if you like, to the old question about the meaning of God. I searched:

An Australian website called Carbon Neutral seemed a promising place to start. This what I found: “Carbon neutrality means that you have to reduce your climate impact to net zero.” OK, I think. But disappointment follows: “As it is almost impossible to avoid the creation of greenhouse gasses emissions entirely, you will need to balance these emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.” Hmm? There seems to be a fallacy of composition going on here. Sure, any individual, company, state or country can buy offsets. But not all. Short, that is, of Martians turning up with carbon credits in their space knapsacks.

I turned, at random, to the website of OVO Energy, a U.K. "green energy" company. Here I found the answer. This is what it means in terms of what must be done.

We (the world) must switch to 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity, accompanied by battery storage. We must insulate houses, install low-carbon heating and smart energy-saving products. Switch to electric cars but, note, as making them creates emissions we really need to shift to using public transport. And, as air travel is an issue until it is carbon free, we need to replace vacations with, wait for it, “staycations.” Fits in, I suppose, with Covid-fearing isolationism. Farm animals too are a problem, so we need to move to plant-based diets. Massive forest planting completes the future carbon-neutral nirvana.

Welcome to Cloud Cuckoo Land.

As anyone of common sense can see this is completely unachievable; apart from being undesirable for those not keen on regressing to a rude state of nature. But at least there’s an honesty about it, which we don’t hear from politicians, who simply repeat ‘net-zero by 2050’ as a mantra to signify fidelity to the faith. Even arithmetic has fallen victim to the faithful. To wit, take Liddell, a coal power station in New South Wales.

Built in 1973, it can still deliver up to about 1,700 MWh of dispatchable power. It’s due for closure in couple of years. Mooted to replace it: a mixture of wind, solar, batteries and gas. Of these, only gas can provide 24x7 power. In case there is any doubt. Wind is intermittent. The sun doesn’t shine of a night. Battery power drains quickly.

Consider wind. Wind turbines on average deliver at best only 30% of their capacity. A typical turbine with a capacity of 1.67 MW produces just 0.5 MWh on average. Thirty-four hundred such turbines would be required to provide 1,700 MWh; occupying about 60 acres per MW of capacity, or 340,000 acres of land. And hold on, an infinite number would be insufficient when the wind isn’t blowing.

To infinity and beyond!

In other words, wind power is expensive, land-intensive and useless. No ifs or buts. It has to be taken out of the 24x7 equation; as does the sun, as do batteries. This leaves only gas. The idea is to provide 660 MWhs of gas. Let’s see, when I went to school, 660 plus zero, or something very small, does not come close to equalling 1700. Never mind, there is still plenty of coal power around to tap to fill gaps.

The Liddell story is like many. Renewable energy (RE) only works now, when it does work, because it is a small part of the energy mix feeding into grids, which borrow from dispatchable power sources in case of need. Watch out when those dispatchable power sources become fewer and fewer. Unless, that is, of course, Kerry’s yet uninvented technologies come to the rescue. After all, there is no imaginable limit to what can be achieved come uninvented technologies. In other words, come miracles befitting the new religion and its totemic absolute of carbon neutrality.

I noted above that Morrison was lauded for having “realistic goals.” Really? He’s pinning his hopes on reaching net-zero on green hydrogen and carbon capture; to which he’s committing oodles of taxpayers’ money. Relatively speaking, he’s just a little less besotted with uninvented technologies and the new religion than is Kerry.

The Fake News of 'Beyond Coal'

When one happens to be a scientist with an expertise in environmental issues like yours truly, one has the opportunity to digest a disturbing number of misleading, eye-rolling headlines in the mainstream media as heavily-biased journalists vainly attempt to present accurate information about environmental issues.

Even by that ridiculously low bar, the headline that appeared in the May 5 edition of the Chicago Tribune rates as the most misleading, unscientific and mindlessly hysterical that I have ever seen. A major metropolitan newspaper in the United States actually printed the following:

Burning natural gas is now more dangerous than coal.

Pollution from natural gas is now responsible for more deaths and greater health costs than coal in Illinois, according to a new study highlighting another hazard of burning fossil fuels that are scrambling the planet's climate.

Researchers at Harvard University found that a shift away from coal during the past decade saved thousands of lives and dramatically reduced  from breathing particulate matter, commonly known as soot. But the numbers declined only slightly for gas, another fossil fuel that by 2017 accounted for the greatest  risks.

About half the deaths from soot exposure that year can be attributed to the state's reliance on gas to heat homes and businesses, the study found. Coal is more deadly only when used to generate electricity.

The alarming findings raise questions about whether Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed transition to a zero-carbon economy would move fast enough in phasing out the use of gas—not only to blunt the impacts of climate change but also to ensure Illinoisans breathe clean air.

The term “fake news” hardly covers it. This is “farcical news,” “fanciful news,” “delusional news,” etc. Yeah, journalists are not scientists. I get it. But, how sad it is to consider there is not one editor at the Trib who might have enough passing knowledge to think something like “that really doesn’t sound right, maybe we should take a second look.”

The essence of the Trib’s story, written by staff enviro-propagandist Michael Hawthorne, may be summarized thus:

Hawthorne does not actually use the accepted environmental terms “fine particulate” and “PM-2.5” in his story. Instead, he calls fine particulate “soot.” Certainly, that’s a much more appealing term to someone attempting to create a narrative, but it has little to do with reality. When you call in a chimney sweep to remove actual soot from your fireplace, almost none of the black gunk he or she will brush off is anything close to 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter.

Anyway, the problem with this particular narrative is the same one that always occurs when people with an agenda attempt to dragoon science into supporting their political agenda: they use that portion of the science that helps them and ignore (willingly or ignorantly) any of the science that disproves their premise.

I can accept that the amount of PM-2.5 generated though the combustion of natural gas now exceeds the amount of PM-2.5 generated by through the combustion of coal. At least theoretically. The amount of PM-2.5 generated by the combustion of natural gas is relatively so tiny that it is very, very difficult to accurately measure using accepted EPA test methods. In the enviro-biz, one errs on the side of caution, meaning that PM-2.5 emission rates attributed to natural gas are likely inflated.

Doesn’t really matter though, since the amount of PM-2.5 emissions that can be tied to electrical generation of any kind is trivial. Based on the last verified National Emissions Inventory (NEI) of 2017, the total amount of PM-2.5 emissions generated across America was 5,706,842 tons/year. Of that, EPA attributed 107,270 tons/year of fine-particulate emissions to fossil fuel combustion used to generate electricity. That’s less than 2 percent of all national PM-2.5 emissions.

Wondering about the biggest source of PM-2.5 emissions? Glad you asked. The 2017 NEI attributes 4,188,615 tons/year of PM-2.5 emissions to “Miscellaneous Sources.” That’s a shade over 73 percent of the total. Miscellaneous sources are non-industrial, non-transportation related sources of all kinds. In this case, the vast majority of miscellaneous sources consist of wildfires – many of which are the result of pitifully irresponsible forest management in blue states like California – and natural erosion.

Back in the nineties and early 2000s, environmental NGOs like the Sierra Club were all-in supporting natural gas. They recognized that natural gas combustion was inherently cleaner than coal combustion and that the amount of greenhouse gas produced using natural gas was far lower than that amount of greenhouse gas produced using coal on a per megawatt generated basis. They gleefully accepted donations from natural gas producers in order fund initiatives like the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign.

Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second largest natural gas producer, was a big Sierra Club supporter back then, presumably because Chesapeake executives hoped that going “beyond coal” would help their bottom line. They didn’t have the foresight to see that once the enviros actually went beyond coal, natural gas would be the next target of opportunity. I’ve been told by people I trust that several Chesapeake shareholders were something less than pleased when the Sierra Club pivoted from being a natural gas supporter to a natural gas opponent, which is where they and most of their fellow environmental NGOs remain today. In the business of environmental advocacy, as is the case with any other big business, one has to follow the money.

It’s a disappointing story, but I fear that Chesapeake will be far from the last company to jump at the bait when an environmental NGO offers them absolution in return for thirty pieces of silver.

It's Not About Energy, It's About Power

One of the argument of the globalists is that the amount of available fossil fuel cannot generate the energy required to lift the Third World to the First. Hence, the First World must reduce its energy consumption such that both First and Third Worlds come to a median usage – bad for the First World, great for the Third World (for now) and perfect for the elites no longer having the global middle class competing with them for energy and prosperity.

This is what the "climate change" hoax is about – not CO2. The poor become richer, the middle becomes poorer, and the ruling class continues their accelerating use of energy, and accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of the other eight billion human beings on planet earth. In short: the future is put on indefinite hold and the global poor never reach their potential as human beings. If you want to look for “systemic racism,” you just found it.

This way to the Egress!

The elites demand control over our energy because power is all that genuinely interests them. They have essentially immeasurable and un-spendable wealth that no longer differentiates them from each other; their “mine’s bigger” metric now is power. Why else would they seek more, always more, rather than work toward a prosperous global community, unfettered energy concerns, a beneficiary regardless of race, creed or color?

Skip the arrogance of globalists who believe and, because energy has given them the power to do so, act to reduce global wealth as they grab an ever-larger share of prosperity and energy from the working and poor peoples of the world… and consider instead progress.

Not creating energy and limiting its use reduces, retards and reverses progress. This harms everyone alive, and everyone not yet born. How can one begin to measure the immorality of a billionaire demanding his or her transient energy usage to be so important as to deprive billions of human beings yet unborn the progress they ought to be able to have expected? For that is exactly what is being done with the “climate change” hoax.

But – “abundant energy.” How (on earth) do we arrive at that? In the same way that the founder of Greenpeace – not your basic anti-environmental person – has been proselytizing: nuclear.

It really is that simple.

Regardless of the fact that, until Chernobyl, the worst thing to happen to nuclear power was a ridiculous movie from Hollywood, that more people had died in Ted Kennedy’s car than in nuclear power accidents, and that the accident at Chernobyl – an outdated reactor with outdated safety mechanisms that were ignored by ill-trained techs – killed about 30 people outright and, perhaps led to the deaths of as many as 6,000, nuclear is far and away the safest, cleanest, and lowest creator of greenhouse gases. That 6,000 number? A tragedy, to be sure. But about 1.25 percent of the annual smoking deaths in America.

Some will object, noting the deaths-over-time of radiation sickness. The U.N. looked at the 20 years following the disaster, writing,

Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades.

However, the committee adds:

Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure two decades after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The incidence of leukemia in the general population, one of the main concerns owing to the shorter time expected between exposure and its occurrence compared with solid cancers, does not appear to be elevated.

In contrast to that 6,000 number, in that same twenty-year span America experienced about 9.5 million smoking deaths, 1.1 million motor-vehicle deaths, and about 4 million deaths from medical mistakes. None of these produced one watt of energy to help the feed, clothe, house, educate or provide prosperity to the populace.

What about the costs of studying, industrializing, and deploying a green infrastructure? Since 1993, OMB has reported over $154 billion in funding for federal climate change activities, plus a half-a-billion dollars wasted in the Solyndra scandal that did nothing for energy.

Is this “green” infrastructure zero-greenhouse gas? No. Millions of tons of steel and concrete – that otherwise would not have been mined, transported, refined, transported, formed, transported, erected, and then taken down in twenty years, transported and dumped into a landfill, are the non-green costs of this boondoggle that, at the end of this 30-year period still has not produced one watt of base-load electricity. The kind of electricity the Davos clique needs to run their server farms to better surveil us.

Is nuclear a good investment? True, the expense of building current-generation nuclear plants is enormous. But,

This energy return on investment (EROI), the ratio of the energy delivered by a process to the energy used directly and indirectly in that process, is part of life-cycle analysis (LCA). …. The major published study on EROI, by Weissbach et al (2013, since the early editions of this paper) states: “The results show that nuclear, hydro, coal, and natural gas power systems (in this order) are one order of magnitude more effective than photovoltaics and wind power.”

“In this order…” Nuclear is at the top of the list in productivity of energy creation, higher than GHG-creating fossil fuels and ten times more efficient than “renewables” unable to consistently power a modern society.

But – safety!

Chernobyl, 1986

Unlike Chernobyl or Fukushima, when control mechanisms fail in a modern design the plant shuts down in a process called “passive safety,” successfully tested for over twenty years. A Three Mile Island or a Chernobyl or Fukushima simply cannot happen. Another safety issue in the global nuclear-waste discussion is that new systems can burn spent fuel rods and unused weapons-grade material, of which the First World has far too much laying around.

If we want to alleviate greenhouse gases, clean-up the environment, create the jobs energy creates (rather than destroy the jobs which green agendas destroy), reduce – or eliminate – the risk of weapons-grade fuel stored in various locations with varying degrees of security around the world, and ensure the continued fruits of liberty, invention, prosperity for future generations, one – and only one – answer exists: Nuclear.

If we chose to spend as much in nuclear reactor research as we throw-away on centuries-old “technology” of windmills, we all could move into a cleaner and more prosperous future in the liberty the Green elites and our own government seek to deny us.