Concerning the Great Elec-Trick

The next time you hear about a proposed measure that promises to lower greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tons per year, consider the following response: “so what?” Many of us grow up thinking that “millions” represents a massive amount of whatever it is we’re counting. The tyranny of millions is a powerful tool when placed in the hands of the PR professionals who push climate change and other environmentally driven agendas.

Replacing incandescent lightbulbs in the United States with LEDs and other technologies that were more energy efficient was supposed to fight climate change by reducing electrical consumption and thus reducing the amount of fossil-fuel electricity generated and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with fossil-fuel combustion. I doubt the actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with this program was in the millions on a net basis, since incandescent bulbs generated measurable and useful heat the LEDs do not. But it really doesn’t matter, because when you’re dealing with emissions in the billions of tons per year, a million tons here or there is hardly a blip on the radar.

We’re at the same point with the latest panacea: electric vehicles. Like LED light-bulbs, electrics will save the planet, at least according to dopey reporters and politicians. It’s a toss up whether electric vehicles are a net environmental benefit, however one feels about the "climate change" issue. You have to draw some pretty small boxes in order to make the case.  One box must encompass the electric vehicle alone, specifically its lack of a tailpipe. Without a tailpipe environmentalists can congratulate themselves for not directly introducing any air pollutants into the environment whilst cruising about town. The fact that the ultimate source of the energy involves a lot of fossil fuel combustion seems not to matter, or at least not nearly so much as it mattered during the Great Light Bulb Reformation.

Halfway there.

Nor does the tiny box consider all of the other environmental consequences associate with going electric. This includes items such as the cost of mining and refining the metals needed to make high capacity batteries, the amount of energy needed to do so, and the difficulty of disposing of the batteries when they reach the end of their useful life.

Embracing electric vehicles also necessitates a fanatical belief that unilateral action by America can significantly influence the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We cannot. Moving to electric vehicles, as it appears we are determined to do, will have no measurable effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve reduced so much that further reductions hardly matter. The future use of fossil fuels and the effect of their use on the environment is a discussion that involves China and India alone. Everyone else is merely a bystander.

For example, the once sane state of California recently passed a law that will ban the sale of gasoline powered vehicles within its borders starting in 2035. The California Air Resources Board praised the measure, saying “the proposal will substantially reduce air pollutants that threaten public health and cause climate change.” What exactly constitutes “substantial” reductions? After poking about the Energy Information Administration (EIA) a bit, it appears that making California all electric is pretty inconsequential from an environmental point of view, even if it can be done, which is very doubtful.

The law does not outlaw driving gasoline powered vehicles in the state, it merely bans their sales within the state. Like most draconian measures it’s unlikely that the ban will do much to change the mix of vehicles on the road, it will merely shift where people who chose to drive gasoline powered vehicles purchase them. Automobile dealerships in Oregon, Nevada and Arizona ought to send thank you notes to Sacramento.

While recognizing the implausibility of eliminating use of the internal combustion engine in California, it’s interesting to examine what would happen if such a thing were possible. First of all, California would need to come up with more power – a lot more power. According to EIA data the state consumes about 2,625 trillion Btu of energy annually producing electricity. Motor vehicles consume an additional 1,465 trillion Btu of energy from gasoline. If one is not using gasoline, the energy has to come from somewhere. The 1,465 trillion Btu represents around 21,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity that would have to be added to the grid. That’s about as much energy as a mid-sized state like Illinois requires on a typical summer day.

Gonna need a lot more of these things.

Currently, wind and solar power represent about 20 percent of California’s energy portfolio, generating about 7,000 megawatts on average. If all the additional electrical demand is to be met by wind and solar, they would have to quadruple that portion of their portfolio. Possible? Maybe. Expensive? More and more eyesores? More and more bird strikes? More and more rolling blackouts? You bet.

Would the woke "sustainable" fantasy save planet Earth? Ignoring the fact that building and operating all those windmills and solar farms involves the use of fossil fuels, and also ignoring the fact that you’d have to have fossil-fired backup power because neither wind nor sunlight are reliable energy sources, you get a theoretical carbon dioxide emissions reduction of about 24 million tons per year.

Sure, 24 million tons sounds like a big number, but it’s really not. That’s about as much China emits every 12 hours. Or to look at it another way, given that global carbon dioxide emissions are about 36 billion tons per year, California’s fantasy would reduce that number by about 0.03 percent.

The simple fact is that if you really think we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it’s all about China. America could reduce her greenhouse gas emissions to zero and the amount of carbon dioxide would still continue to increase based on China’s past and projected rate of growth. Did you know, for example, that last year world wide coal consumption hit an all-time high? That didn’t happen because of coal-fired power plants in the United States. Our coal fired generation capacity continues to dwindle. The bulk of the coal is going to China and, to a lesser extent, India.

But we are talking California, so solving a make-believe problem using a pretend solution shouldn’t surprise anyone. As far as environmental policies go, California remains Fantasyland, and Tinkerbell rules.

Another Day, Another 'Climate' Disaster to Exploit

Nobody can say that climate change alarmists are inconsistent, at least when it comes to natural disasters. They are quicker to blame the latest bit of foul weather on global warming than an ambulance chasing lawyer is to whip out his business card when he meets someone with a back injury.

Mechanical engineer Bill Nye has been all over CNN and the internet explaining how climate change affects weather in terms of a mechanical engineer. It’s all about energy transfer for Bill, a direct, proportionally measurable phenomenon that the many and “always reliable” climate models predict with perfect accuracy! Or so he seems to believe. (Side note: if the models are SO accurate why do we have so many of them?)

Bill Nye.

Weather events are bit more complex than that. That’s why weather models are different beasts than climate models. There is another big difference between weather models and climate models: weather models tend to be right. They tend to be right because they are limited in scope, both in terms of geographical area and in terms of how far into the future they look. They also tend to be right because their accuracy is immediately demonstrable. Climate models, on the other hand, seek to define trends for the entirety of planet Earth decades into the future and beyond. They are largely unproven because the data sets used to attempt to validate them is so poor (remember “hide the decline”) and their scope so terrifically huge.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the alarmist crowd told us that the number of hurricanes and cyclones were increasing in number and intensity because of "global warming." They have largely abandoned that argument for the very good reason that it is demonstrably false. The actual record shows very little variation in the number and intensity of hurricanes between 1980 and the present. It’s difficult to comment on hurricane frequency before 1980 because global weather monitoring by satellite did not exist prior to 1980.

For a while the “proof” became the undeniable fact that the value of insurance claims associated with hurricane damage continues to rise. A-ha! The hurricanes must be getting stronger and causing more damage, and the reason they are getting stronger is because of global warming.

That’s a neat little argument, one that seems to make some sense at first. But somebody checked on the rate of new property development in hurricane-vulnerable locales. Sure enough, the increase in the value of insurance claims pretty well matched the increase in development. So it wasn’t that hurricanes are hitting harder, they are just getting more targets to hit. In terms of intensity, Ian was far below Andrew in 1992 and somewhat below Michael in 2018. Andrew made landfall with a wind speed nearly 150 mph, Michael with a wind speed of about 135 mph, while Ian topped out at around 130 mph.

The "science guy."

If it can be shown that we don’t have more hurricanes and a given hurricane’s potential to cause damage hasn’t really changed either, how can alarmists like Nye blame the devastation in Florida on "global warming"? Well, everything is possible if you just use your imagination. Nye parroted the latest party line: the rate at which today’s hurricanes are intensifying is increasing due to "climate change."

That is to say that as Ian came whipping up the Gulf of Mexico it was picking up more heat than it otherwise would have, thus transferring more energy, thus increasing the intensity of Ian beyond what nature intended.

The beauty of this argument is that it is unprovable. It’s an act of faith. If anything is a demonstrable exercise in chaos theory, it’s hurricane behavior. Yes, we can attempt to predict the track and growth of a given hurricane using some meteorological data, but the error bars surrounding those predictions are huge. Nye can no more prove that Ian would have behaved differently in a world with less greenhouse gases than he can disprove my assertion that Ian would have been much smaller in a world with fewer Bill Nyes.

Predictably, Nye chastised Republicans in Congress for not taking "climate change" seriously. Because why? Presumably because if everyone believes, really believes, hard enough in "climate change" then Tinkerbell will appear to solve the problem. What exactly does Nye expect Republicans in Congress to do? Close coal-fired power plants? We closed a bunch of them. Subsidize new wind and solar plants? Been subsidizing both for decades now. Push automakers into building more electric vehicles? We can take that one off the punch-list as well. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Been doing that for years.

Worldwide coal consumption is surging, with 2021 coming in just short of the record set in 2014. Any discussion of greenhouse gas reductions starts and pretty much ends with China and India. It’s silly on one level to wag a finger at Republicans in Congress for not believing that climate change is or will be a crisis. It’s beyond absurd when one considers that there is literally nothing Congress can do about the crisis if it exists.

Coming to save the day!

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been roundly criticized for solely talking about climate in terms of Florida’s infrastructure needs. Coastal erosion, whatever the cause, is a problem in Florida and DeSantis is spending money to address it. But he won’t pay due homage to the golden calf in the room: "global warming" idolatry. He won’t do penance for America's prosperity by blaming humans and their wicked ways. He won’t address the root causes of the problem! How could he address the root causes of this supposed problem? Short of ordering the Florida Air National Guard to bomb the snot out of Chinese coal-fired power plants it's unclear what he could possibly do. And presumably Xi wouldn’t take too kindly to that solution.

Ian was a disaster, as large hurricanes that make landfall always have been and always will be. We should all offer up a prayer for those Floridians who lost property and loved ones. But those who try once again to exploit the disaster to achieve their own selfish ends deserve nothing but our contempt.

'Save the Planet? Are You Effing Kidding Me?

Here's a video that's worth a watch, from back when comedians didn't all read from the same tired script. George Carlin was one of the greatest standup comics of all time and, like so many of the best, he was at heart an anarchic libertarian—which of course today would make him a right-wing nut. Enjoy!

"I'm tired of bleeping Earth day, I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists. White bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there not enough bicycle paths. Besides, they don't care about the planet... There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are BLEEP! The planet isn't going anywhere. We are."

Killing the Eagles with 'Climate Change' Malice Aforethought

“Headache!” I called quietly as I threw the saddle on the buckskin I’d be riding that day, calling out to ensure the wrangler saddling her horse next to me in the 4:30 a.m. high-mountain blackness knew a stirrup was on its way over and down and not to rise up suddenly into its bone, leather and steel. Saddled, bridled, jacketed and mounted, six of us rode up a gravel road walled-in by a black forest of tall pines, our way lit only by starlight and the occasional spark struck by the shoe of a horse against the stones. The Bighorn Mountains were all around us as the sun touched first the distant, snowy peaks. We were 8,300 feet up in the Rockies of western Wyoming.

I took my group of riders up over a forested ridge and out one of our more spectacular trails. An hour into our ride, emerging from the forest into the morning sun, we paused to let the horses blow. We looked across a wide valley and down on a high meadow. Behind us the sun-dappled ground and leaves and trees of the forest as the day rose. Below and to our right a few beaver ponds greened-up the area, watering it for elk, deer, badgers and other animals and plants.

Wind River range: enjoy the view while it lasts.

Straight before us the valley dropped off for miles and thousands of feet. Tens of miles away and across that valley the Wind River range rose, blue with distance, snow-capped beneath late-morning puffball clouds on a serene and sunny day. In the bright blue sky above, golden eagles circled riding thermals while prospecting for their next meal or just soaring over the land in their limitless freedom.

If there is more beautiful country in the lower 48, more varied wildlife and greater opportunity to experience it than in the Rocky Mountains of western Wyoming, I’m not aware of it. But it’s the eagles that draw attention. High, regal, effortlessly gliding, circling above us, having long-ago conquered the skies in a way man never will.

And being destroyed by wind “farms,” in which wind energy companies get “kill” permits to destroy these amazing raptors using the wind highways they have used for hundreds of thousands of years only suddenly to encounter instant, unknowable death. Male, female, young, old they are killed by the incredible blunt force of a 12-ton blade moving at over 100 mph. Force = Mass times Acceleration. You do the math. For a kilowatt. For a company profiting on tax dollars devoted to an energy form civilization left-behind centuries ago, and that could not have powered our progress to today, nor keep us warm, alive, fed and producing, as Germans are about to discover. Yesterday Solyndra, today ES Windpower, Inc. Tomorrow? Who will destroy our environment with our tax dollars tomorrow?

Federal wildlife officials are pushing wind companies to enroll in a permitting program that allows them to kill eagles if the deaths are offset.

Sudden death in the skies, to save the planet.

Look up in the sky at an eagle circling, rising, falling. In your mind’s eye, or here if you don’t live where they soar effortlessly across the land. “If deaths are offset?” What kind of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo for the slaughter of these magnificent birds is that? How do you “offset” a dead eagle? With a check? A tear? A carbon credit? How do you offset hundreds of them?

Nationwide, 34 permits in place last year authorized companies to “take” 170 golden eagles — meaning that many birds could be killed by turbines or lost through impacts on nests or habitat.

Were those “kill permits” abused? Of course they were.

In April, a Florida-based power company pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to criminal violations of wildlife protection laws after its wind turbines killed more than 100 golden eagles in eight states. It was the third conviction of a major wind company for killing eagles in a decade.

Golden eagles are “on the edge,”

The rush to build wind farms to combat climate change is colliding with preservation of one of the U.S. West’s most spectacular predators — the golden eagle — as the species teeters on the edge of decline.

And not just in Wyoming.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that on average, more than 20 golden eagles are probably killed each year among the wind turbines of San Gorgonio Pass, out of an estimated 120 golden eagle deaths annually at wind farms across California.

It is not just Golden Eagles being destroyed by these wind farms. It’s the Amazon Rain Forest, the “Lungs of the Planet,” the largest carbon sink on earth. For these blades increasingly are made of fiberglass-wrapped balsa wood from the Amazon. And that’s a problem.

As the international commitment to renewable energy has grown in recent years, the increase in wind farms has triggered a huge demand for balsa wood, leaving a trail of deforestation in its wake…

The balseros bring alcohol, drugs and prostitution, and pollute the extraction sites with plastics, cans, machinery, gasoline and oil spills. They abandon used chains from their chainsaws. They eat the turtles and chase away the parrots, toucans and other birds that feed on the flowers of the balsa trees. The breakdown of ecosystems by illegal deforestation has profound impacts on the balance of local flora and fauna, which will never recover.

Killing their birds, too.

Cutting down a large balsa tree affects ecosystems. Its canopy shelters plants that now dry up under the scorching sun of the equator. Birds that feed on balsa flowers no longer sing as they used to; parrots have now gone in search of new homes; tapirs and sajinos (wild boar of the jungle) are now exposed, leading to an increase in illegal hunting.

Wyoming: where eagles dare to fly and die.

We are not just cutting down Balsa trees in the Amazon for wind. Scotland just felled fourteen million trees to make way for wind farms. A German-owned plant in Texas is producing 578,000 tons of wood pellets to ship to Germany to burn for heat and fuel, a practice even older, even more outmoded, even more damaging to the environment than pretending wind can power a modern economy. If one wants to reduce atmospheric carbon, felling millions of trees that perform carbon capture—and then burning them—seems counterintuitive.

The problem is ignorance. No, not of the environment. But of energy and climate itself. One hopes against hope that the ridiculous canard that “97 percent of all scientists agree!” can be put to rest with the news this week that 99.99 percent of all scientists who agreed that the universe was created by the Big Bang were wrong. Of course, they followed millennia of 100 percent of all scientists agreeing that the sun orbited the earth.

At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, today’s nonsensical hysteria on climate will be replaced by some other nonsensical hysteria designed to keep politicians in power and spending our money while reducing our freedoms. The thousands of eagles still will be dead. Their progeny never will have existed. We all will be the poorer for it.

Where's the Beef?

Where IS the beef? Prices may very well be keeping it out of your refrigerator and inflation has something to do with that. But there’s another factor in play, involving where the beef was before it hit the grocer’s shelves. The meat packing industry has consolidated in recent decades to the point where four companies control about 85 percent of the market. Pretty much everyone agrees that’s a problem, but bipartisanship only goes so far. The difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue involves what to do about it.

Republicans urge President Biden to use the tools he has and enforce existing anti-trust legislation like the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act. Unlike President Trump, whose Department of Justice did indeed investigate Big Beef, Biden has carefully limited himself to criticism while taking no substantive action. He, or whoever comes up his talking points, is smart enough to know that five dollars per pound for ground beef is a bit exorbitant for most Americans. Don’t let those crocodile tears fool you though. The climate change crowd is cheering the trend and if there is one constituency that Dems are careful never to offend, it’s climate change alarmists.

And, yes, I'd love a burger, thanks.

The big four meat packers in the United States are: Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS SA and the National Beef Packing Company. The first two are American-owned and the latter two are Brazilian. Consolidation in the industry started in the late seventies, when the big four controlled about twenty five percent of the market. The industry was robust and decentralized back then, including many small shops (plants that process less than 500 head per week) scattered about the country.

Today, the small meat packer has all but disappeared in the United States. In their place, the Big Four have relied upon mega packing plants that can process thousands of head per day. In most industries, larger plants benefit from economies of scale, driving prices down. In the weird world of meat packing, it hasn’t worked that way, prompting just about everyone to suspect that if it smells like price fixing, it probably is price fixing.

Weirder still is that the prices that the Big Four pay to American ranchers for cattle has and continues to drop. Increasing imports of cheap beef from countries like Canada and New Zealand drives cattle prices down and gives the American rancher with little choice but to accept contracts with the Big Four that ties the rancher to under-valued pricing. So we have the unique situation of an industry in which the price of the raw material (cattle) drops, but price of the product (beef) heads in the other direction. One doesn’t require a degree in economics to understand that the increasing spread is making somebody a lot of money.

Reacting to the President’s criticism of the meat-packing industry, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem agreed with the President’s view of the problem, but was critical of his unwillingness to take concrete action to address it. Appearing on Hannity, a visibly frustrated Noem said:

He's willing to go out there and spend more money and pursue other ideas and not just do the basic job of government, and that's to make sure you're implementing the laws correctly, you're making sure people are following the rules, and his Department of Justice has every single tool to make sure that people aren't attacked under the situation that they're in today.

What causes a politician like Biden to talk the talk, but refuse to walk the walk? These days the answers are almost always either “sexism," “racism,” or “global warming.” Since we are not yet aware of people who choose to identify as bovines (but we of course defend their right to do so) the answer, by default, is indeed global warming. Again.

More than twenty years ago I wrote a tongue in cheek column describing the EPA’s comprehensive catalog of data with respect to cow flatulence. They have data classifying the gas-passing abilities of cattle by breed, by diet, by location and God only Knows what else. I started to speculate on how that data was acquired and by whom, before deciding that some things are better off unknown. And I jokingly observed that if were classifying cow farts, what’s next? Are we going to start regulating them?

Cow farts: who wants the job?

It was all great fun, but it was all unwittingly prescient. If the Dems can’t quite bring themselves to pass a bill regulating bovine flatulence – probably out of fear that the ensuing Kamala Harris giggle fit would force the session into the wee hours – they do the next best thing. They look the other way as Big Beef happily makes their product more and more expensive, reducing consumption, but who really cares so long as those beautiful margins continue to grow? Dems get what they want, fewer cows cutting the cheese and the Big Four getting some very happy shareholders. It is, from the Democrat perspective, a win/win.

For the record, according to the latest EPA Greenhouse Gas report, methane emissions from American cows contribute about 6,800,000 tonnes per year of methane to the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to about 170,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Sounds like a lot, until one realizes that annual worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions average about 50,000,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gas per year. Thus, Bessie and Elsie and their pals on American farms account for a little more than 0.3 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Does reducing that tiny fraction to a slightly tinier fraction justify five dollar plus per pound hamburger? Joe Biden seems to think so. But then when you regularly shake hands with invisible people, you can pretty much believe anything.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Double-Faulting

Despite always professing to love tennis, we never can seem to pull Judith (mummy) away from chatting up friends at Wimbledon and this year was no different.  Having commandeered  the best table at the Sipsmith Bar, and already holding court… what was the use of trying? As it turns out, exactly no use whatsoever, but I did try…

Oh is that your Jennifer?’ I overheard, and immediately retraced my steps for a swift exit. Sipsmith’s Strawberry Smash had replaced Pimm’s as this year’s favourite and the additional gin was clearly having an effect. Conversations were slightly louder and nobody was shy about the topic du jour: Boris! I had wanted to take Judith to see my client here at Wimbledon but she knew where to find us if/when she was so inclined.

‘Did you find her?’ Daddy asked. I just rolled my eyes and kept walking. We were going to have to walk all the way up and around to get back to the suites. Evian (the VIP Suite) was my client and we had been recertified carbon neutral for the second year running. I was quite eager to get there but we’d have to pass up about half a dozen G&T’s before that.

‘Stop here?’ I asked Daddy at about the fourth Sipsmith Goose, and he agreed. This year, ‘eco-conscious fashion’ had been my bright idea but I was wearing something new and didn’t want to pull a Boris and just say whatever suited me.  I chose a Lemon Drizzle G&T and Daddy tried the Sipspresso while all around us—the buzz of Carrie and Boris.

What have I done?

‘Are you sad to see him go?’ I asked.

‘Sad??.’ Daddy replied. ‘I’m a Tory if I need remind you but the minute he hooked up with that woman he stopped being a conservative’.

‘Carrie, you mean?’ 

‘Of course Carrie! Saboteur-in-chief, Carrie, but her departure is a loss for YOU I am sure!  You’ve never had someone pouring green into the Prime Minister’s ear twenty-four hours a day. It was almost the environmental movement’s own Cambridge Five.’   

‘Daddy! It wasn’t as bad as all that.’ 

‘No, you’re right. In her case the Americans never caught on, and perhaps those two can move in with the Sussexes, where they can luxuriate in 18,000 square feet of air-cooled comfort and think up ways to make the little man suffer.’

‘Point, taken.’ I said. I didn’t dare defend this as my own California abode had been uninhabited by me since Los Angeles had become unlivable. I always had my own issues with Carrie, who had been trying to push-in since the beginning of time. Lack of talent or skill had never held her back. Not even the time she submitted a photo of herself in a failed attempt to become ‘the sexiest girl next door’ as a ‘High Street Honey’. Years later she used the European data protection law to de-list certain searches relating to her name. But according to her then-boyfriend, ‘she’d always been an attention-seeker’ and ‘It certainly wasn’t a cardigan and pearls. They were relatively explicit photos e.g. bikini and also topless ones.’

For my part, I wanted her not to bring shame to the green movement as a whole, which proved too tall an order. She was ruthless, and no wonder she was being compared to Elena Ceaușescu. There was #partygate, #nannygate, Cash For Cushions, and while everyone focused on things like the £840-a-roll gold wallpaper, £200,000 furnishings, and a £538 gold iPad (bought with public funds), I am still holding onto Carrie’s paid six-months working as maternity cover as Sajid Javid’s adviser. Everyone forgets about this.

Kim Philby (lower right) had nothing on Carrie.

Daddy signalled me to be quiet to hear the nearby chatter… they were discussing Carrie’s ‘unprecedented influence’ adding that her 'unelected and unaccountable role in government is not only unconstitutional but dangerous to British democracy'.  

It’s certainly much worse than lying about the birthday party that was clearly not ‘just wine and cheese’, but I think that’s the thing Britain cannot forgive.  Violating the rules in the very room where the rules are made, is how Boris’ lies became the top story, and how we got to #CarrieAntoinette.    

We walked the rest of the distance to the VIP Suite and I introduced my father to the president of Evian who immediately thrust a can of our new Sparkling Evian into his hand. ‘Goodness, thank you’, he replied. I knew he wanted to ask is that what suffices for a handshake these days, and I signalled my silent thanks for his not saying anything.

‘Aluminium…excellent choice’.  Daddy said, indicating the can. 

‘Do you know recycling, Mr. Kennedy?' Etienne asked. Oh god. Please, no! PLEASE do not say the words ‘scientist’ or ‘geophysical engineer’ or ‘petroleum’...

‘Well I do, actually,’ he began, ‘our Jennifer just keeps us on our toes in that regard… all of England actually, but I needn’t tell you that’. WHEW!

‘Is there a Mrs…’

‘INDEED!’ I interrupted. ‘And I cannot tell you how proud she is of our Carbon Trust recertification… so really, bravo us!’ I said, passing it off with a nervous giggle. I then took credit for our eco-wardrobe push as well, which prompted a question about my own dress. UGH!  

‘This old thing? I said, and immediately put the focus back on Daddy—‘If I might… my father has been wearing this blazer to Wimbledon since as far back as I can remember, and isn’t that just enough on the Kennedy family history!’ I exclaimed, beaming from ear to ear and leading Daddy away.

Etienne, however, followed: ‘Jenny…’ he said grabbing my arm just a little too firmly, ‘YOU are presenting the Evian prize in place of Carrie Johnson!’ His voice cracked, ‘promise me you're wearing something sustainable!’

‘I promise!’ I said, still feeling the heat of his too-strong grip on my arm. But he just stood there sweating in his poly-blend jacket I knew he’d bought in hopes of its looking retro.

Ladies they talk about: Camilla and Carrie.

‘Listen!’, I said, lowering my voice and shaking his hand off. ‘I’ve had just about enough of that Mata Hari. And don’t look so shocked, you should be glad this whole #johnsongate blew up before she became the public face of Evian. And for the record, YES ,this dress is arguably new. I bought it well before Covid and have had no place to wear it until now. It is, however, custom-made—yes CUSTOM MADE just for me, right here in jolly old England. But at the very least no ten-year-old Chinese girl went blind hand-smocking the top. So call it what you will but I will stack my deeds, and my clothes, side-by-side with those of Miss Shack-up Symonds, turned terror in chief, any day of the week!’  

He was silent and shocked. Another fool mesmerised by the not-so-High Street Honey.

Just then I heard the unmistakable lilt of Judith’s voice. ‘Oh good. Here’s my mother.’ I said motioning. ‘If you’ve any concerns… boy will she sort you out.’

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Protesting

With very little planning and a last-minute text to my parents, I hopped a flight from London City Airport to Washington D.C. The reason, of course…to save the planet! With no lounges open, and the risk of delayed takeoff, I thought I should at least grab a bottle of water, and so I did. Hello Boots… one Volvic please!  Only to be reminded that London had launched  something they are calling ‘Plastic Free City’.

They sold me the water alright, but it came with stares from all the really good people—each one of them making silent commentary, and staring at the offending bottle. You’d have thought I’d been going round the globe shoving plastic straws into the brains of dolphins.

Meanwhile, they kept flaunting their refillables like they were iced-out Rolexes. Oh knock it off! I wanted to scream. My entire life is dedicated to green pursuits but when it comes to placing the mouth of a bottle that I’m going to drink from, under the spigot of the community trough—I draw the line. Besides I can’t very well save the planet if I am sick.

Every litter bit helps!

The terminal was lined with bright blue water stations, and I walked to my gate with the gurgle-gurgle of people refilling all around me.  Luckily I had only thirty minutes before boarding and so I stuffed the contraband into my bag before choosing a spot in which to loiter. The airport was mobbed and every announcement was getting on my last nerve. Just then a text from my client…

‘Can we fix this?’ Followed by a picture of the detritus from the Glastonbury Climate Festival. It was disgusting—trash and abandoned tents everywhere. It looked worse than a San Francisco public park. 

‘What is it you WANT me to do?’ I texted back.  And before he could respond I texted: ‘Headed to DC…boarding now’.

I could see he was trying to text me something else but I powered down my phone before it came through. Having found my seat I tore off the plastic wrap from my quilt and put my headphones on. I placed the wrap within easy reach of the flight attendant but despite several passes she didn’t pick it up. Why is the whole world plastic-shaming me today?

When we arrived in D.C. our gate wasn’t ready and we had to be towed in. Another delay! I know that towing vs taxiing saves quite a bit of fuel but this delay defeats the purpose of flying from City Airport!

As soon as I powered on my phone the texts started rolling in. Apparently, if you sign up for even one protest they assume it’s your lifeblood and include you in every update. I only wanted the EPA protest. What a mess.

That's telling 'em!

My driver did his best to get me right where I needed to be but it was hopeless. Pride marches, GenX, and half a dozen abortion marches. Finally, I headed toward a group in green bandanas knowing this would be my group, but it was not. This was made readily clear by a “Viva la Vulva” sign. I stepped out of the throng and asked a woman why green for pro-abortion?

‘Marta tells us that the colour of nature was chosen because it signifies life’, she said.

Abortion means  life? I dared not ask. And who was Marta? Turns out Marta is the founder of Catholics for Choice, 'a nonprofit organization that lifts up the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom'. I squinted my eyes and walked away.  So far I had accomplished exactly nothing.

Then my phone rang. It was my father.  ‘OH HEY!’ I said, yelling into my iPhone.

‘Are you at a club?’ he asked.  

‘You bloody well know I am not at a club!’ I responded. I am in Washington, protesting the EPA ruling!'  

‘Well how’s that going?’ he asked.

‘I haven’t found them yet… this is all rather confusing. But I do have a question, I got a text about the Glastonbury Climate Festival… I see electric- car chargers in the middle of… nowhere. So how do they get powered?’ 

Diesel’, Daddy replied.  

Glastonbury '22: nobody tell Greta!

Diesel??’ I shrieked. ‘How does…?’ UGH! I knew he was stifling a laugh. 

‘Yes, as you said, all very confusing. Listen, sweetheart, do you really think protesting is a good use of your time…?'

‘How would I know?  ‘I haven’t even been able to even locate my protest'.’

‘Strange that, Marxists are generally so good at organisation’.

I didn’t have the strength to fight him. It was beginning to rain and I decided to keep quiet in case he had one more zinger in him.  FINALLY I could see my EPA group and I ran to catch up with them, only to ask myself why had I bothered? I was sweating under my trench, my shoes were soaked, we all looked stupid, I felt stupid—this was stupid.

‘You win, Daddy', I said into the phone. 'This was a dumb idea. I will schedule some meetings and ask my clients how I can be useful while I’m here’. 

‘Excellent', he said. 'And you might advocate for the continued operation of Line 5 up in Michigan —it's an essential  pipeline for Eastern Canada and the U.S.’ 

‘And they will listen to me because—why?’ I asked. 

‘Because you’re the voice of reason on this. It’s a win for everyone.  And you’re still advocating for the environment - just without the Marxist slant’.

‘And if it doesn’t work?’

‘Oh, just tell them they’re all going to freeze—they don’t even have enough energy to get through next year…’

‘I don’t think they want to hear that’. 

‘Oh I disagree, Jennifer. Fear-mongering is the only thing you green-niks understand'.

I hung up and looked around. The rain was pelting harder. Everybody looked miserable. And they wonder why I never bring anyone home!

Another Big Win: the Court Clips Regulatory State's Claws

On its last day of the current session the Supreme Court by a 6-3 majority finally clipped the talons of the Environmental Protection Agency, denying the agency power to issue broad regulations regarding "climate change." In the process, the Court sent a warning shot to the administrative state and Congress: legislation on broad matters (“major questions”) must come from the legislative branch (Congress), not from the executive branch via "regulation." The decision upends decades of government rule by D.C. bureaucrats, a practice set in operation by Franklin D. Roosevelt who created and empowered some 70 offices and agencies under presidential control. The EPA was established by Richard Nixon in 1970.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal regulators exceeded their authority in seeking to limit emissions from coal plants in a decision that sharply curtails the executive branch’s authority to make policy actions on a range of issues without congressional direction. In a blockbuster 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped when it devised the Obama-era regulatory scheme, known as the Clean Power Plan. The plan had been challenged by West Virginia and others.

The court said that when federal agencies issue regulations with sweeping economic and political consequences—in this case, rules to address climate change—the regulations are presumptively invalid unless Congress has specifically authorized the action.

The case, which must certainly be electrifying the D.C. poohbahs, is West Virginia, et al v. EPA et al. It is a clear threat of a continuing unraveling of the administrative state. How big a deal is this? Far bigger than the earlier decision on abortion (Dobbs v. Jackson), which simply returned the power to regulate abortion to the states. This decision, however, does something arguably even more important to our democracy: it forces Congress to start taking its job seriously again.

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The case began six years ago and has continued through a series of shifts occasioned by a change in presidents, traveled upward to the Supreme Court following a number of court proceedings ,and clarified the capacity of affected parties to sue in the face of indefinite suspension of the regulation to which they object.  The issue was first joined when the Obama administration's EPA issued a plan for reducing carbon dioxide from power plants. Under this "Clean Power Plan," plants would get credits for generating more power from lower-emitting sources. A coalition made up of states and coal companies sued on the ground that the Clean Air Act, the purported authorization for these regulations, gave the EPA only authority to restrict pollution at steam-generating coal power plants, not to require power companies to adopt the government's choices of fuel.

Not so tough anymore.

The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of that rule. Then President Trump changed the rules. Under his administration EPA could only regulate emissions from individual coal-fired steam plants (the Affordable Clean Energy Rule). This shift was challenged by a different coalition made up of environmental groups. The new rules were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, leaving the area open for the Biden administration to act.

It was feared the new administration would simply resurrect the earlier Obama approach and require a shift to so-called "renewables." As you might expect, leaving such matters to administrative agencies creates a kind of legal roller coaster, the very sort of thing impossible to contend with in industries that require extensive planning and tremendous capital outlays. Such a fear prompted this case. The West Virginia-led coalition contended that the EPA was seeking to dictate “the big picture of how the nation generates its electricity.” Which was, of course, true.

Like the abortion ruling in Dobbs, this decision is a return to federalism. In Dobbs the power to regulate abortions was returned to the states. In this case the power to regulate power plant fuel is returned to Congress. Imagine congressional debates and action now, in an era when "climate change" polls poorly, and will continue to do so because the costs—the price of gas, home heating, all transported goods—continue to rise as a direct result of  the energy constraints of this fantasy. The responsibility for such nonsense and the pain consumers endure would be squarely on them.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, doesn’t have to imagine.  He knows this is a disaster for his party. With a paper-thin majority in both houses (one currently in jeopardy in the tied Senate as senator Patrick Leahy currently is sidelined with a broken hip), a predicted red wave in November, and the country already in a recession, passage of a law to  curb inexpensive energy in order to meet a posited "climate emergency" is not likely.

Pelosi and Schumer: over a barrel.

Politico reports:" Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that 'just like last week’s dangerously misguided and abhorrent decisions on gun safety and abortion, the extremist MAGA Court’s ruling today in West Virginia v. EPA will cause more needless deaths — in this instance because of more pollution that will exacerbate the climate crisis and make our air and water less clean and safe.'" It's more likely, in my opinion, that the decision will lead to fewer opportunities for graft and the deaths of some Democratic careers. As professor  Jonathan Turley tweets,  

It is a curious sight of a congressional leader denouncing a decision that prevents the circumvention of Congress. It is a virtual statement of self-loathing like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach... This is not the first time that Democrats have called for a president to usurp the authority of their own branch. It undermines the faith held by figures like Madison that ambition would combat ambition in the protection of the separation of powers.

Of course, in reality they are not complaining that they’ve been given more power. They know their side is not in a position to deliver what its green base demands. How far from reality is the Democrat saber rattling on this issue? This far according to Politico:

 Congressional Democrats whose efforts to pass legislation to fight climate change have been blocked for years — both by Republicans and, more recently, by Democrats’ own troubles unifying their razor-thin Senate majority — said their party must take action in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the party has so far failed to garner the 50 votes in the Senate needed to move climate legislation amid resistance from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and supporters see the next few weeks as the last chance to pass a measure.

It's not just the EPA which should be drawing in its belt. This is a significant reduction in the power and grasp of the administrative state. Professor Jonathan Adler notes: "This is also a warning for other federal agencies, including FERC and the SEC. It makes clear that if the federal government is going to take meaningful action to mitigate the threat of climate change (as it should) that action will have to come from Congress."

The Democrats can see the political chessboard as clearly as can I, that’s why you won’t see any debate on "climate change" legislation this year. Instead they’ll be demagoguing about packing the Supreme Court, something even their idol FDR was unable to pull off. Anything to avoid accepting public accountability, and thus scrutiny, for their actions.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Scoring

I’ve thought long and hard what else I might do to save the planet. Not only because all of my clients are oligarchs (it just looks bad), but also because #grassroots is trending. The question of course, was what? I needed a hashtag! 

‘First do no harm’, Daddy always says, but one can’t simply do nothing when our planet is literally bursting at the seams. So I came up with #greenscore. It’s perfect really. I’ll provide the metric by which even the smallest event (say a child’s birthday party), can share their #greenscore, and I’m sure that in time, the largest events (except maybe not Davos) will join too.

My first client, is that of a personal friend, Scarlett, who is having her wedding at Cluny Castle way up in Aberdeenshire.  As her husband works in tech, they are the perfect launch for my new #greenscore idea, and I am determined to make it a success.  Rather unfortunately though, we were stuck with the venue, (an ancient castle)—very far away and hard to reach. Not to mention very difficult to heat and cool. So I asked people to do what they could and to combine transport… though I found no takers. 

If Cluny Castle was good enough for Andrew Carnegie...

None of this, however; was rating high on the give-a-damn scale, because the bride’s mother was currently held up in Turkey over a jeep safari accident. The delay, I assumed, was that she hoped to keep quiet the fact that she’s been Ibex hunting, but it turns out, she had not personally hunted—only her boyfriend had.  However, their open-top Land Rover had crashed into a telegraph pole—killing the boyfriend and two other Britons. It was all over the papers and no matter how stylish or well-intentioned the holiday, I couldn’t spin this as a good (or green) thing.

I put images of the whole sordid mess out of my head and set myself to the task of sourcing local wildflowers with which to make Scarlett’s bouquet and decorate the venue.  But I couldn’t find a single vendor nor anyone willing to venture out and pick the flowers. What was the deal? I clicked through images of past weddings on the web only to find the most horrid groupings of sad carnations and even sadder roses whose colour schemes ranged from red to red. 

The big deal, it turns out, was we were surrounded by NNR’s and SSI’s and ASSI’s—which is basically government agency speak for nature preserves and no you may not pick the flowers. This is where these agencies drive me batty… now I’d have to ship them in.

Spotty mobile service was also getting the better of me so I hopped in my car and drove in circles until I could get a signal.  I called Dublin, I called Dún Laoghaire, I called Edinburgh, I called Langholm… no one working and no one cared. It was solution time and so I called vendors in Germany and Switzerland… yes, and yes. All good news but selling the visual of using ‘wildflowers’ was going to seriously impact our #greenscore. I wasn’t happy but after a dizzying maze of couriers and exchanging photos back and forth I had a solution, and even convinced myself that there was no real difference between Queen Anne’s Lace and Bavarian Gentian.  

Looks just like Queen Anne's Lace if you squint.

If there was an update on the bride's mother I hadn’t heard and I went in search of some dinner to take to my room, where it was cooler, and then it occurred to me the heat index was basically going to be unbearable. A quick Google search turned up ‘higher than usual temps’. Lovely. A marquee with chandeliers AND candles was going to be an inferno.

My own green score matrix ticked up in my head like a taxi meter during rush hour. Double ugh! There was no getting around this… cooling was needed. And if ‘higher than usual’ temperatures were to be believed, I found it curious that the crew assured me they had been keeping guests cool for nearly half a century. They also suggested treble the amount of plastic water bottles be on hand so I agreed and chose not to factor it into our score.  

The next morning I tracked down the wedding coordinator to see if he might do something to convince me he was alive. Or working. Begrudgingly he gave me the tracking information for Leman Express and DHL—the combination of which would bring the Alps to the Scottish Highlands undetected. With the luck of a steady internet connection I finished linking #greenscore to all of our social media pages. I calculated our own running #greenscore and it wasn’t looking good, so I decided to subtract 10,000 points—a gimme for this and all future weddings since (I figured) married couples share a home, it could offset the carbon spend of a wedding. Totally makes sense.

Morning came far too soon. I didn’t want to leave the cool of my suite but the mother of the bride sent a gushing text promising she wouldn’t miss the wedding for the world. Things were looking up. And there hadn’t been a Turkish police inquiry after all… the issue was altogether more delicate, with her newly-deceased beau still being married to his second wife, Scarlett’s mother convinced the authorities to let her slip away quietly lest she rob the grieving widow of her due.  But she didn’t turn up. And no one had made arrangement to collect her from the airport. I made myself scarce so Scarlett couldn’t ask, and hopefully wouldn’t notice. 

With the ceremony beginning I tucked into the marquee… it was the unalloyed pleasure of cool air from every glorious angle, until just then a much stronger gust—chopper overhead! And I looked up to see Scarlett’s mother arriving. No she wouldn’t miss it for the world would she? Nor one bazillion carbon points.   

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Circling

I kind of can’t believe I am finally headed back to Davos after a two-year hiatus. We cancelled and rescheduled, and cancelled, and rescheduled, then moved location…and cancelled anyway. All because… don’t even make me say it—the dreaded you-know-what. All of which I found both maddening and embarrassing. Here we are, the smartest people on the planet… coming together to save the planet and… oops… let’s just cancel, and cancel, and cancel. Like schoolteachers saying there’s no need to teach. I know on this point I depart from my colleagues but let’s be honest; there isn’t a six-year backlog for Gulfstreams because we all sat home.

But never mind any of that… I picked up the slack. One of the projects of the World Economic Forum was to scale-up production of alternative protein sources… otherwise known as bugs. They had committed land and resources to this worthwhile endeavour—the proof of which was meant to coincide with our Singapore conference. But Covid had other plans and neither the conference nor the project got off the ground. Based on stories (with pictures!) from the WEF website, I had planned a series of high-end cocktail parties to introduce these mega-proteins to the glitterati. And only when I went to order, did I find the project had gone bust. It was a near-disaster, saved only by clever little farmers in Thailand and China who had apparently been farming and eating the critters for years.

Deep cleansing breath… and we move on. This year’s conference is so packed full of great ideas—I’m sure this is the reason I can’t get onto the website. I am needing to research because I am receiving one of the Schwab Foundation Awards, and all I can find is a news article saying we have collectively impacted the lives of 100 million people. Hmm. Impressive but truth be told I wanted to see how my picture looked on the site. Also I wanted to see just how many of the 100 million lives the other awardees have impacted.

Hostess with the mostest.

I surfed my inbox for the invite that praised my ‘dedication, and compassion to serve the most marginalised populations of society'. And then it hit me like a sock to the gut: how had I not seen that? The MOST marginalised populations?? Oh boy. Images of me on the cover of Paris Match flashed through my mind. St Tropez is only dwarfed by Monaco. Not exactly marginalised. This was bad. I rang Daddy in sheer panic.

"Yes, Jennifer’, he answered. "What—'

‘Never mind all that…’ I said. ‘I’m in a pickle, I’m getting an award for something I didn’t do’. 

‘Hmm. As a parent… imagine my shock’. 

‘Daddy!’ I yelled. ‘Not helping!’ 

‘Jennifer’ he shot back. ‘Helping! Anyway, what are you supposed to have done? I thought you were an environmentalist. Aren’t you saving the world every single day?’

‘Yes, but no. I’m a social innovator now’.

‘I see. So you’re a jobs creator then. Problem solved. But does it really matter what you say? The WEF offers so few details, it leaves little to oppose’.

Ugh! He had a point. ‘Okay, but we are the trustees of society’, I said, trying not to sound full-on wobbly.

‘Listen, sweetheart, call it what you like, but everyone over there has a planning mentality, and to those kind of people the natural order of the world seems irrational. So they will ram their ideas down our throats and into our policy but in truth, they often do the things before we need them’.

‘Which is a good thing!’ I said.

Saving the planet, one private jet at a time.

‘No', he replied, 'it’s a planning mentality. Flying came before airports. It could not have been the other way around, but if you’re Klaus, sitting around a table designing something, you might think you need airports first. Uber was meant to be a carpooling app… groups of people piling into a van to share one ride. But now we see Uber drivers actually need small cars that fit only one or two passengers. Some places are just now installing telephone cable—because they paid for it, and planned for it, but everyone is already using cell phones as cables are stretched beneath their feet’.

This was making my head spin. I had to ring off. Daddy had made some good points but I was committed to the planet, and to making a good representation for myself and my clients. Plus my dinner was served.

I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until I realised we were circling—some security issue and we couldn’t land. We had been warned security would be tighter than ever with a record $20 million being spent and more than 5,000 armed forces personnel on guard. The delay was something about safeguarding airspace that had us circling for the last hour. I glanced outside—it looked like an anaemic-airshow.

Just then my phone buzzed. ‘This is Jennifer’. I answered even though I knew it was my father.

‘Maybe delete your tweet complaining about circling for the last hour, sweetheart? It’s not the best look for the carbon-conscious…’

UGH!

‘You see? Helping!’ he said.

‘Yes, Daddy, helping. Thank you.’