Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

It is a fitting coincidence that the announcement of Greta Thunberg’s honorary doctorate in theology came the same week as a new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world has less than a decade to stop "catastrophic climate change" by halting the use of fossil fuels. You can be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu all over again, since we have been getting “less than a decade to stop climate change” warnings for more than 30 years. Only someone who has assimilated climate catastrophism as a fanatical religion could fail to be embarrassed by this record of hysteria and goal-post shifting, which makes St. Greta of Thunberg’s theology degree ironically fitting.

Yet the new IPCC report is not a report at all. It is merely a 36-page “Summary for Policy Makers” (SPM in the climate trade) ahead of a new “synthesis report” that will merely repackage the last complete three-volume IPCC climate change assessment from 2021. The new synthesis report, which will likely run a thousand pages or more, is “coming soon,” according to the IPCC’s website.

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In other words, the new “synthesis report” is not new at all, but is produced to keep climate agitation at a full boil. The SPM is released ahead of main report to generate headlines, which will then be repeated, Groundhog Day-style, when the full report is released later. The new SPM did the trick: the New York Times's chief stenographer for the climate cult, Brad Plumer, produced a breathless story that can be written now by ChatGPT, declaring that “Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade.” This whole well-worn exercise is the climate cult equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

Another reason for the early release of the SPM ahead of the complete report is that there are often discrepancies or contradictions between claims made in the SPM or its accompanying press release and the more detailed scientific reports, which the media never notice or check. Who actually writes the SPMs? The new one claims 49 “core writing team members,” along with another 44 contributing writers and editors. All this for 36 pages. The working theory seems to be that the world will be bowled over by the sheer number of the authors. The SPM is often produced without review or input by the hundreds of scientists who contribute to the full reports. A few have complained publicly about how the SPMs are politicized in service of generating headlines, but they are always ignored.

Now pay attention!

While there is nothing new in this new summary of the forthcoming synthesis report, it is possible to notice some telling shifts along with some unscientific claims about energy policy the IPCC emphasizes in its press release. When the climate campaign first got rolling back in the late 1980s, the chief buzzword attached to everything was “sustainability.” That term lives on, but today official climate discourse is obsessed with “equitable” climate action and “climate justice.” (“Diversity” shows up for duty, too.)

Beyond these gestures to Wokery, the whole exercise is a giant non-sequitur. The SPM repeats a pattern that has crippled the climate campaign from the beginning—the climate cultists seem to think that if we keep announcing a parade of future horrors, that green energy must therefore be feasible and fossil fuels can be phased out quickly at the snap of a finger. That is not a climate science judgment; it is an energy systems judgment, and it precisely on the question of real world energy where the IPCC has always had its least expertise and most superficial analysis. Here’s how the IPCC press release portrays the simplicity of the solution:

There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced. Increasing finance to climate investments is important to achieve global climate goals. Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part.

Rosenmontag satire: wind farms vs. natural gas.

One thing the IPCC never does it run a reality check on the track record of this pabulum. Germany has spent close to a trillion dollars on behalf of its “energy revolution,” only to see its greenhouse gas emissions rising again in recent years, including reopening coal mines and coal-fired power last year as its dependence on backup Russian natural gas revealed how rickety the whole enterprise is. There is a tight correlation between the amount of capital spent on “green energy” and rising electricity costs in Europe and elsewhere. Somehow the advocates of “climate justice” for the poor fall silent about this fact.

The "climate change" establishment has become its own worst enemy. A serious climate science and policy movement that really believed catastrophe is ahead (let’s leave aside today the weakness of that claim) would admit that we don’t know how to create a realistic non-carbon energy system. They won’t admit it because there is too much money to be made today in the grift of energy subsidies that don’t and can’t live up to promise.

More than a decade ago New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who believes the conventional climate disaster narrative, tried to warn environmentalists: “Environmental alarms have been screeching for so long that, like car alarms, they are now just an irritating background noise.” But like all cults, the climate campaigners are impervious to good advice, and will think this latest car alarm is an apocalyptic Wagnerian opera: Götterdämmerung, or, The Twilight of the Gods.

Is Water Racist? Isn't Everything?

It is not news that California has a severe water shortage, and in fact “shortage” is too mild a term, as the once golden state has been under an official “state of emergency” for the last several years, which enables the government to impose strict rationing on water use. California’s water shortage is a combination of several drought years, along with a deliberate disinvestment in water infrastructure over the last several decades. California hasn’t built any significant new water projects or a single dam in more than 40 years, even as the state’s population has nearly doubled. In other words, California’s water problems are more artificial—that is, political—than natural.

The best example of the political distortion of California’s water supply can be seen in the fact that despite officially declaring water to be a “fundamental human right,” human access to water has taken a back seat to the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish whose endangered status has led to court rulings that the fish has greater claim on California’s water supplies than humans do. Trillions of gallons of fresh water have been diverted from human use to save the Delta Smelt over the last few years, making a mockery of the “human right” to water.

Who smelt'd it, Delta'd it.

So what is California’s extensive water bureaucracy most worried about right now? Racism and “equity,” of course.

Last year California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), explicitly responding to the suddenly discovered legacy of “white supremacy” and “the national and worldwide backlash against racism toward Black people and related Black Lives Matter protests of 2020,” passed a nine-page resolution (accompanied by 47 pages of “reference literature”), headlined “Condemning Racism, Xenophobia, Bigotry, and Racial Injustice and Strengthening Commitment to Racial Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Access, and Anti-Racism.” One might have thought “inclusion” would have involved mentioning homophobia and Islamophobia, too, except that Black Lives Matter and their supporters get very angry when you mention the importance of any non-black group.

This cliché-ridden piece of predictable performance posturing is a case study of several intertwined traits of progressive governance today. California’s State Water Resources Control Board (and nine regional subordinate water boards) dates back to the 1960s, and was initially charged with monitoring the state’s water with an eye to detecting and remediating pollution from major sources such as industrial production, agricultural runoff, wastewater, and natural sources of unhealthy water. Surface and subsurface water quality is one of the more challenging environmental problems the nation faces because of the wide variety of ways water quality can be degraded, so it is not surprising that water monitors and regulators have a large range of factors to manage, from underground storage tanks to—in California’s case—the effects of specialized industries such as winemaking to, more recently, cannabis cultivation.

But as with all bureaucracies, mission creep and the political imperative of ever larger budgets and staff always leads to inexorable growth of power and reach, even as its primary original mission remains unfulfilled. Naturally the Board now includes "climate change" as one of its primary concerns, and “public outreach” and education—essentially propaganda and self-congratulation—as key functions. It is not surprising that it would jump on the anti-racist bandwagon along with everyone else in Leftist government.

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It almost doesn’t matter whether the issue is water, air pollution, or access to food stores (the “food desert” argument). The by-the-numbers racism-all-the-way-down playbook is essentially the same. Any statistical disparity between races on any measure is taken as proof of racist intent and latent “white supremacy.” The state board's resolution declares as a matter of fact:

Historically, decision-makers representing government agencies used race to establish structures and systems that continue to deliver disparate outcomes, including wealth, health, educational, and environmental inequities.

No proof is offered for this sweeping statement, but in typical fashion the resolution attempts to overwhelm readers with a pile of “reference literature,” no doubt compiled by a university “racial justice studies” department, all detailing statistical disparities unfavorable to minorities, as though this proves racist intent. It leads to the resolution’s conclusion: “In fact, race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access.”

It sounds persuasive until you notice what is missing from this body of “evidence”—income correlation and time. If you ask about poverty rather than race, you find virtually the same result. In other words, race is really a proxy for poverty, especially in California, which has the highest poverty rate in the nation thanks to “progressive” economic policies that throttle economic growth and opportunity especially for low-income minorities. But even the race or poverty measurements often don’t hold up under close scrutiny. A good example elsewhere is coal ash tailings. Environmental justice warriors have long alleged that hazardous coal ash tailings are disproportionately located near minority populations, though an EPA study found that most coal ash tailings are located in majority white areas.

To the extent that minorities live near chemical plants, refineries, landfills, or poor public infrastructure, it is usually for the simple reason that the cost of living is cheaper there, and the record shows that low-income people settle in such areas for that very reason. From the environmental justice rhetoric, you’d think oil refineries were built next to low-income minorities on purpose, when the reverse is nearly always the case in California: the refinery or chemical factory preceded local neighborhood settlement. (Most or all of these towns and neighborhoods have long been run by Democrats, it should be noted.)

Maybe a few more of these would help.

The SWRCB resolution is long on the typical critical race theory language of pervasive racism, but remarkably short on remedies, beyond more funding—always more funding. But also more “empowerment” of marginalized voices, which means de facto quotas (though this is now called “diversity”), as this passage makes clear:

The Water Boards’ workforce does not reflect the racial composition of the state. United States Census Bureau data collected via the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) show that 37 percent of California’s population is white, yet the Water Boards’ workforce census data from 2020 show that 57 percent of the Water Boards’ workforce and 69 percent of the Water Boards’ management is white... The Water Boards’ plan directs hiring managers and supervisors to take specific short-term actions to improve workforce diversity while a more holistic plan is being developed.

One statistical disparity none of these reports and studies ever address is whether higher minority representation leads to lower disparities of outcomes. Last week the EPA finally determined that the water in Jackson, Mississippi, was safe to drink again, after several months of a public emergency because Jackson’s water treatment facilities were in disarray. Water treatment is a local government responsibility, and Jackson’s African-America mayor and city council were clearly negligent in their management of their water infrastructure. Mere “equity” in representation doesn’t assure better outcomes for the very people the environmental justice warriors claim to care about.

And if Democrat-run California really wants to supply more abundant, high-quality water for everyone, is should start building dams and water projects again, as California Democrats used to do on a large scale before “progress” became the perverse creed it is today.

THE COLUMN: Zero Tolerance for 'Tolerance'

Everyone's heard this joke: In Heaven the French are the cooks, the Germans are the engineers, the British are the police, the Swiss are the managers, and the Italians are the lovers; in Hell, the British are the cooks, the French are the managers, the Italians are the engineers, the Germans are the police, and the Swiss are the lovers. 

It's a fine collection of stereotypes, and of course almost every bit of it, generally speaking, is true. That's what makes it funny. It might also make it "offensive," but who cares? If you can't take a joke, go home and play with the stuffed animals in your safe space. One of the things that has gotten America into such cultural and moral trouble is the Left's ability to seize and transform words into what they would like them to mean, instead of what they actually do mean. So powerful has this movement been, so successful, that perfectly innocent words like "stereotype"—and morally positive words such as "discriminating"— have taken on an entirely negative connotation, while formerly negative terms such as "tolerance" have instead been elevated to cardinal virtues.

It's time to put a stop to this degradation and weaponization of our language, which is now the cause of so much misunderstanding between the two sides of the cultural-political battles for America's soul. Time and again, conservatives have fallen victim to the fallacy that the Left's vocabulary and ours are identical. They are not: the words may be superficially the same, but they have (of course) radically different meanings. And until the Right realizes this, the restorative war cannot be won. 

Some things are simply intolerable.

Let's start with "tolerance," one of the most culturally dangerous words in the Left's vocabulary. It's often combined with such other expanded weasel words as "diversity" and employed as a Critical Theory cudgel against the larger culture in order to "push boundaries" and "break barriers." The object, of course, being the destruction of historic norms and the ushering in of a new age of moral anarchy in the name of "righting wrongs."

I explained the ancient origins of Critical Theory and its satanic roots (literally, as outlined in Milton's Paradise Lost and Goethe's Faust) in my 2017 surprise bestseller, The Devil's Pleasure Palace: the Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. Of particular interest to me in writing that book was the Left's weaponization of the word "tolerance," particularly via Herbert Marcuse's infamous notion of "Repressive Tolerance" and its use by Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School as a cultural battering ram: 

The loss of cultural confidence was precisely what the Frankfurt School and its descendants sought and still seek to engender. It is their only path to victory, which is why—even as they have seized the high ground of the academy and the media—they continue to roll over and expose their bellies like whipped curs whenever they are directly confronted. Pleas for “tolerance,” a weakness masquerading as a virtue, still serve them well. It is long past time to give them a taste of their own “repressive tolerance,” à la Marcuse, to mark the boundary clearly between dissent and sedition, between advocacy and treason. By consistently claiming that some solutions are “off-limits” to “civilized” peoples, they undermine the very principles of civilization they pretend to advocate—the first of which is the right to civilizational and personal self-defense. They are a suicide cult enticing the rest of us to join them.

But the moral high ground is not yet theirs, as much as they would wish it so. Constantly forced into a strategy of subterfuge, dissimulation, misdirection, and open deception—I have dubbed it “American taqiyya,” a counterpart to the Muslim concept of religiously acceptable dissimulation—there is no lie the Left will not tell in the furtherance of its sociopolitical goals. To maintain the martial metaphor, they are essentially double agents, operating behind the lines of Western civilization. That they are not called out and dealt with aggressively in the court of public opinion and, when necessary, in courts of law, is one of the shames of our age.

Let's begin by recalling that the Latin root for our word "tolerance" is tolerantiaits gender, by the way, is feminine—which means "endurance, the ability to bear pain or adversity; patience, fortitude." In no way does it signify indifference to a given person, place, thing, or situation or, worse, approval. A "tolerant" society is one that is under mortal attack; and, with the perversion of the definition, is effectively prevented from fighting back. A "tolerant" society is a defenseless society and thus a doomed society. Even Marcuse recognized the martial, reactionary nature of "tolerance," in his essay linked above:

This essay examines the idea of tolerance in our advanced industrial society. The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed. In other words, today tolerance appears again as what it was in its origins, at the beginning of the modern period--a partisan goal, a subversive liberating notion and practice. Conversely, what is proclaimed and practiced as tolerance today, is in many of its most effective manifestations serving the cause of oppression.

Oh, that repressive tolerance!

Similarly, the word "discrimination" once meant the ability to discern differences: "having or showing refined taste or good judgment." Keep the wheat, discarding the chaff. Advertising appeals were once made to the man of "discriminating tastes." James Bond, with his fondness for Sea Island cotton shirts, Aston-Martin automobiles, and certain kinds of libations, was discriminating. In other words, the word used to be a compliment. It means choosing the best; not "prejudice" or "bigotry." But it became racialized, and now here we are.

The same goes for "stereotype," originally a printer's term referring to a plate from which multiple copies could be run off, which then came to mean an image or belief widely held—the joke that opens this essay, for example. There could be positive stereotypes (German engineers) and negative stereotypes (British cooks) that everybody more or less agreed upon. Today, we might call them templates. Ethnic traits, too, were widely stereotyped, especially in melting-pot America: the dumb German or Swede, the violent Italian, the drunken Irishman were all stock characters in vaudeville and on Broadway at the turn of the last century:

(The above album also features "Darktown is Out Tonight," the great Will Marion Cook's show-stopping opening number from his 1898 musical Clorindy, or the Origin of the Cakewalk, the first all-black show in Broadway history, premiered in a rooftop theater and starring Ernest Hogan. Its lyrics would be considered "racist" today were they not written by the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, but even so still cannot be performed.) 

During the 1960s civil-rights movement, however, the word "stereotype" was hijacked to describe white notions of certain perceived black traits and given a modifier: "negative stereotypes," which soon enough was dropped, having colored the original meaning beyond rescue. 

The language has since been destroyed in many other ways: the introduction of the word "gender," a grammatical term, as a synonym for "sex." The genius of it was this: there are only two sexes, but three genders—masculine, feminine, and neuter—thus opening the door, via the deliberate conflation and confusion of the two terms, for today's multiple "gender identities" that so bedevil our public discourse and understanding of ourselves. Meanwhile, "diversity"—which is merely descriptive—has acquired a positive connotation, as if it were a moral imperative rather that what it really is, something generally destructive of social cohesion and entirely unnecessary in a merit-based culture.

Read it and weep.

The first step, therefore, in confronting the modern Left is to reject their transmogrification of the language and insist that words retain their original meaning. As with everything else they touch, words have become distorted and misshapen simulacrums of their former selves, used now not to communicate but to browbeat and propagandize. Such a situation has now become intolerable. So, as long as we're giving the devil his due, let's give Marcuse the last word:

Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the impotent and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandizing, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives. 

Couldn't have said it better myself.