House 'Climate Plan' Not Really About Climate

One would reasonably expect that a report entitled “Solving the Climate Crisis,” issued last month by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, would focus on ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that committee members believe endanger life as we know it. The report does contain some discussion about ways to lower those emissions, but its also a blueprint for remaking America socially, economically and politically in accordance with the progressive wish list. The report subtitle makes it clear that the Committee is interested in a lot more that manipulating the temperature of planet earth: “The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America.

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Turns out that the “climate crisis” is not just about the climate, but is also the root cause of just about everything that is wrong or will go wrong in America. This being the case, one can justify just about any action, in any sector of society, so long as it’s framed in such a way so as to appear to be another weapon with which to battle "climate change."

The result is a plan that calls for massive expansion of federal power and programs in virtually every sector of the economy, with trillions of dollars worth of goodies to pass around to favored beneficiaries. But not to worry, every dollar spent is really an investment sure to return profits a hundredfold thanks to the cutting edge new programs to be implemented under the wise direction of that most skillful of money managers: the United States Government.

Consider, for example, antiquated concepts like city planning and zoning. The climate crisis demands federal intervention to ensure that cities are designed with “..safe and convenient access to services, including health care facilities, childcare, education and workforce training, affordable housing, food sources, banking and financial institutions, and other retail shopping establishments.” (Page 107). The Department of Transportation will take care of that, thank you very much, once Congress has expanded the DOT’s budget commensurate with its new responsibilities.

Presumably these redesigned cities will include “complete streets,” defined as a new roadway standard that will require consideration of “…all potential users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, children, older individuals, individuals with disabilities, motorists, and freight vehicles.” (Page 108). Federal aid will be made available, but only to recipients “meeting strong labor standards” that pay due homage to other progressive causes.

Most people agree that the nation’s transportation infrastructure is in need of attention. Many of us thought that was because a lot of it is aging, nearing the end of its useful life. Thus, repairs and replacement are required. Silly us. Turns out that infrastructure improvements are necessary because the consequences of climate change are going to put the transportation system in grave danger. (Page 114). Who knew?

The committee is very concerned about methane emissions, or at least that portion of methane emissions that originate from the oil and natural gas industries. (Page 200). According to the EPA’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, methane emissions from oil, natural gas and petrochemical sources account for about 0.1 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas inventory. This is the opposite of low-hanging fruit, in other words -- unless one’s objective is to continue to demonize the fossil fuel industry. Fortunately the Committee assures us that the multi-billion dollar programs it wants to impose on the energy sector will more than pay for themselves. Odd that not one of the usually financially astute energy giants figured out the terrific return on investment associated with finding, fixing and avoiding low grade leaks.

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New pipelines? Not likely to see many if the Committee has its way. They want to be sure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission thoroughly considers the “climate crisis” before approving new pipelines. (Page 204). Apparently upset with FERC’s unwillingness or inability to block multiple high profile pipeline projects in recent years, they want to hold the commission’s feet to the fire in the future.

Then we have a rather troubling section entitled “Invest in America’s Workers and Build a Fairer Economy”. (Page 288). Among other pronouncements we are told that: “One of the best ways to ensure that a resilient, clean energy economy is a fair economy is to strengthen workers’ right to organize a union and negotiate higher wages and better benefits.” There’s a fair bit of poorly-disguised socialism that leaks through in this section. I’ll spare readers the tedium of going through it all, but cannot help but observe that moving to socialism would indeed drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, since broken economies use far less energy than healthy ones.

Welcome to Pripyat, comrade.

Many in industry, including this author, believe that the concept of “Environmental Justice” is a wrong-headed, bleeding-heart concept that leads to economic injustice in many poor communities that would otherwise be attractive to new project developers. Well, it turns out that addressing environmental injustice is part of the climate crisis too. (Page 300). So is expanding government-funded healthcare. (Page 313). So is government support of organic farming. (Page 347). So is government interference in the use and fate of private property. (Pages 348, 367, 369, et al ).

Serious and fair scientists studying climate change, no matter where one falls on the spectrum of opinions regarding its severity, causes and importance, know that there has been no increase in severe weather events over the past twenty-plus years. The statistic the alarmists cling to when trying to make the contrary argument regards the increase in the aggregate cost of such events over the years. The increase in costs is primarily a function of: 1) increased population density in urban areas where extreme events sometime strike, and 2) the natural effects of inflation. Normalize those two factors and it’s clear that we have had a lull in extreme weather for a very long time now.

This does not prevent the Committee from creating long and tedious sections that speak to building the “climate resilience” necessary to survive in world beset by meteorological disaster after disaster. But then what else would one expect from a document that has little to do with addressing a perceived problem, and most everything to do with perpetuating a leftist agenda in the run up to the election?

Dakota Pipeline Ruling Unfeasible, Harmful

 The recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ordering a temporary shut down and emptying of Energy Transfer’s, Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by August 5th until an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed is legally extreme, technically impossible and economically burdensome to the oil and gas industry, the state of North Dakota, and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT).

The ruling was jarring and seemingly unexpected by the industry and by the plaintiffs themselves. This outcome, however, underscores a necessary pivot that the entire fossil fuel industry must immediately undertake. 

[Despite reports indicating Energy Transfer would refuse to obey the judge's order, the company issued this statement late yesterday:

We would like to provide further clarification around news reports out today regarding the operations of the Dakota Access Pipeline. To be clear, we have never suggested that we would defy a court order. Rather, DAPL is seeking appropriate relief from that order through the established legal process.

Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado had reportedly said in an email, "we are not shutting in the line,” adding that the judge had  “exceeded his authority and does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.” The company has requested a stay of the judge's order.]

The lawsuit is merely the second act in a theatrical production that began at the Standing Rock Indian reservation -- where the great Sioux chief Sitting Bull was shot and killed by Indian police in 1890 -- and will end only when the entire fossil fuel industry, including the Three Affiliated Tribes, is completely neutralized. The Standing Rock opposition, beginning with the protests in 2016,  has been wholly scripted and financed  by the extremist organization, "Bold Nebraska", whose wealthy financiers include failed presidential candidate Tom Steyer and elderly agitator George Soros -- the marionettists from the Marxist wing of the Democrat party. Run by House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s former aide, Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska is the brainchild of the manufactured activism that fuels the rot of reason that's been on full display at Standing Rock and continues to be front and center in this current legal effort.

It is rooted in a hatred of the fossil fuel industry and a desire to destroy the financial independence of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota. By financing civil unrest and fueling the destruction of an industry that has delivered financial independence to the Tribes for the first time in modern history, the environmental terrorists of the Marxist Left have revealed their disdain for the very peoples they claim to support. They would rather the Indians be dependent upon handouts by the Left, than have a resource from which they can be independent of the Left. 

At Standing Rock, Bold Nebraska used native American tribal representatives as pawns. The protesters, many of whom were from the Pacific northwest and Minneapolis, not from local tribes, were paid activists. They were standing on the stage of tribal rights -- allegedly defending the rights of the tribal members, while destroying the very land they were purportedly there to protect. They brought cars into the area, destroying the grasslands, camped, used dope, and produced rubbish the description of which is not fit for repeating.

Now, in Act Two, this current case, the financiers continue to posit wildly imaginary, though deeply implausible arguments claiming a threat to Native American land -- through which the pipeline does not even run according to all legal reckonings. Judge Boasberg asserts that the fourth of ten possible factors is what obliges him to rule as he did: "[t]he degree to which the effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial" [page 3 and 4].

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Likely to be "highly controversial’" That's the point?  No reasonable person could suggest that paid activists and a "protest" financed by wealthy Marxists could be viewed as "highly controversial." Throw in civil unrest and environmental zealots and add some tents, fire, sign-waving and chants and -- voila! The reality however is different. The real controversy should be that these self-ascribed white protectors of Native Americans are turning off a pipeline that will disproportionately and unjustly effect the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes. 

Forget the fact that retroactively requiring an environmental review is absurd on its face. Consider the practical reality. It is not even possible to drain the entire pipeline in 30 days, as per the judicial order. Were it ever even attempted, it would take at least 90 days. The mandate unfortunately reveals the judge's lack of interest in educating himself in a meaningful way on the subject matter and relevant issues in this case. Indeed, the opinion was an unsophisticated witches' brew of legal wanderings. It lacks the traditional neutrality generally sought in the judicial process and it appears Judge Boasberg surrendered to an unrestrained desire of his own will, not sound judicial reasoning -- something the courts must always try to avoid. 

Regardless, Judge Boasberg offers the fossil fuel industry an important lesson that must drive us toward a proactive strategy of communication and messaging.  

Energy Transfer made specific, fateful decisions during the Standing Rock protests. They chose not to fight on the field of messaging. Instead they chose the "North Dakota Nice" approach, hoping their attackers would vent and then go away. While North Dakota Nice is a lovely sentiment when welcoming visitors to our great state on summer holiday, it has no place when engaged in battles as important as this to our industry, and to the future of America’s economic health. Had Energy Transfer proactively planned for the predictable and well-practiced tactics of Bold Nebraska, and invested in the requisite communication expertise four years ago, perhaps the outcome Monday would have been different. We will never know.

From this moment on, we, as an industry must engage in the battle of ideas and communicate them using emotionally compelling messages. We must define our position, protect our flank, and place a flag in the industry we love. After all, the work we do each day has resulted in American energy independence, free from the geo-political influences of forces overseas and will help lead the country to economic recovery. 

We need now to take this painful lesson and spin it into positive strategic change. Ideas matter. Messages matter. Communicating those messages matters.

No Nukes? Then Stop 'Thinking Green'

A report issued last month by the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley asserts that the United States can achieve environmental utopia in a mere 15 years. Entitled 2035: Plummeting Solar, Wind and Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future, the study is sure to be referenced ad nauseum by progressive candidates and journalists during this election season. On its surface, the report appears to address the two biggest public perception problems that renewable energy faces: cost and reliability. The authors claim that we can make changes to our electrical infrastructure to ensure that 90 percent of all energy generated by 2035 is derived from “clean” sources, that we will actually save money by so doing, and that executing this plan will not have any significant detrimental impact on power availability or reliability.

It must be said that 2035 is a step or two above AOC’s “Green New Deal” fantasy in the sense that it at least acknowledges there are challenges involved in repowering the largest economy on planet earth we should probably consider. That is not to say that 2035 is entirely realistic about how to address those challenges. It’s not. But we may take some slight comfort knowing that there at least a couple of people obsessed with the green energy fantasy who have a vague awareness that electrical generation, transmission and distribution are rather complex topics. Baby steps people – baby steps.

Before we get into the weeds, you should understand that despite what politicians and PR types have said, and will continue to say, the 2035 plan does not claim that the delivered cost of renewable sources of energy will be cheaper than that of conventional sources in fifteen years, nor should one confuse the term “clean energy” as used in the plan with the term “renewable energy” as it has been traditionally used by environmental activists.

The 2035 plan claims that net renewable energy costs will be lower if its recommendation are followed, but only if one ignores tax credits and factors in nebulous economic benefits associated with fractional reductions in conventional air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. The report also places nuclear energy and hydro-power on the “clean” side of the energy-generation balance sheet. While this author and many a like-minded scientist have long agreed that both sources of energy are indeed quite clean, as well as being cheap and reliable, few environmental groups have agreed, particularly in the case of nukes.

To be perfectly clear: any candidate or environmental group that signs off on 2035 is, de facto, a nuclear power advocate. And most welcome they shall be! Jump on in guys, the water’s fine and radiation free, but feel free to grab a banana at the snack bar if you need some rads.

If we’re going to fairly assess the 2035 plan, we need to understand three key concepts that are central to managing a power generation and distribution system: load, dispatchability and capacity factor.

Load, in the power generation sense, is a measure of electrical demand. In general, a given distribution system on the grid will require a minimum amount of power on the lines at all times, day or night. This is called “base load” and is typically filled by generation assets that run steadily at all times. At the other extreme there is power that is only briefly needed because of intermittent increased demand, like during the hottest part of a summer day when air conditioners are working their hardest. This condition may last for a few hours, depending on season and location, and is called “peak load.” In between, we have intermediate load.

Dispatch refers to how the folks managing a portion of the grid ensure there is enough power to meet load demand. These are assets with which the grid operator (often, but not always, referred to as an Independent System Operator, or ISO – the acronym we’ll use to refer to the grid manager for the balance of this piece) has to work. “Dispatchable” assets are those that the ISO knows will be available over a given time period and whose maximum power output is a fixed, known quantity. The ISO uses dispatchable assets to develop a plan, including dispatch order, to ensure that each day’s demand forecast can be reliably filled, plus a reserve amount of generation in case the forecast is off a bit. Non-dispatchable assets are those generation assets whose availability and generation capacity cannot be reliably and consistently known due to the nature of the asset.

Lights on, everybody's home.

Finally, capacity factor is a measure of how much power a generation asset can produce compared to how much it actually produces. A power plant that runs at 100 percent capacity-factor is generating the maximum amount of power possible, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another plant that generates 50 percent of the power it's capable of generating and runs only half the time available earns a 25 percent capacity factor (0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25).

In order to manage the grid reliably, ISOs want to fill in load requirements using dispatchable sources of energy as much as possible. The best, most reliable, sources of dispatchable power are those that typically run at high-capacity factors. According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, coal-fired power plants, combined-cycle natural gas-fired plants, and nuclear power plants typically run at capacity factors between 80–90 percent each.

Both wind and utility-scale solar plants are classified as “non-dispatchable” by the Department of Energy. To understand why, let’s compare capacity factors. Capacity factors for wind and solar vary by region, but EIA has developed historical data that defines the boundaries. Wind farms rarely exceed 40 percent in the best cases and 20–30 percent are more typical. Utility-scale solar plants, which generate far less power than wind in most places, typically operate in the 20–30 percent range and sometimes closer to 10 percent.

Anyone claiming that they can run the nation’s power grid solely on "renewables" inevitably runs into this basic problem: neither wind nor solar is sufficiently reliable to do anything but “gap fill,” while dispatchable sources are running to provide most of the load, along with sufficient excess dispatchable capacity available to pick up the slack when/if wind and solar sources drop off.

The solution to this problem proposed in 2035 is fourfold: 1) include nuclear and hydro in the mix, both of which are dispatchable and can provide reliable base load, 2) grudgingly allow some natural-gas generation to remain in place, 3) buy a crap-load of battery storage capacity, and 4) build every bit of wind and solar capacity one possibly can and run it as hard and as often possible whenever conditions allow.

Technically, there is much about this scheme that is laughable and some aspects that are downright dangerous. Unfortunately, space considerations preclude discussing these issues in detail in this particular article. Economically, both EIA and the folks at the Goldman School acknowledge that the Levelized Costs of Power generated by wind is typically more expensive than power generated by nukes or fossil fuel-fired sources. It is only by including tax credits and – in Goldman’s case – the fanciful economic benefits supposedly accompanying further coal plant retirements that one can begin to claim that the 2035 plan is economically sound.

It’s not. It’s another fanciful exercise designed to solve an equally fanciful problem in the fanciful presumption that even if climate change represented a clear and present danger to the globe any unilateral action taken by the United States could have the slightest effect. However, we should look on the bright side and be thankful that at least a tiny bit of reality has somehow made it’s way into this particular plan.

Baby steps.

The Coming Covid Curveball

It seems like every morning we wake up to the news that some entity, public or private, is unveiling a "bold new initiative" in response to "the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," which everyone who has been paying attention knows they've wanted to do already.

Take baseball. I'm a big baseball fan, but not of current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who doesn't seem particularly fond of the game he presides over. Others have noticed this -- here's an article from a few months back entitled Does Rob Manfred Hate Baseball? and another called Rob Manfred Is Ruining Baseball. The gist of them is that Manfred, worried that baseball is less exciting than the other major sports, has spent his five years as commissioner whittling away at the things that make the game unique. For the most part his rule changes have been aimed at making the games shorter, but his efforts have been for naught -- the average game is now three minutes longer than it was when he took over, and viewership is down.

This, of course, hasn't deterred Manfred. He's pushed ahead with plans to, for instance, institute a new, Reality TV informed playoff format whereby,

The team with the best record in each league would get a first-round bye, and then the other two division winners and the wild-card club with the best record could end up picking their opponents in a televised seeding showdown.

This is, to put it mildly, gimmicky as hell.

For the most part Manfred's tinkering has been confined to the edges of the game, and he would probably tell you that that's why it hasn't had the desired effect. That, unfortunately, he has been cursed with conservative, history obsessed fans who are resistant to alterations which make today's game less like the one played by Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron. Which is to say, he'd probably dislike me as much as I dislike him.

But a man can dream, and for years we've heard whispers that Manfred's great aspirations included increasing offense by imposing the Designated Hitter on the National League, which has resisted this innovation since the 1970s; starting extra-innings with a runner on second base to speed things up (or, a fan might say, limit the amount of baseball fans were getting for free); and contracting the Minor Leagues, so that MLB resources could be directed away from entertaining yokels in, say, Dayton, OH or Montgomery, AL, and towards virtue signalling social justice initiatives which get lots of applause from the great and the good.

And then came the miracle Rob Manfred had been been praying for: the Wuhan novel coronavirus, which, thanks to the incompetence of politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, spread like "a fire through dry grass” throughout the nursing homes of the northeastern United States (as healthcare analyst Avik Roy has pointed out, 42 percent of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in the 0.6 percent of the population who reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities).

But, more to the point, it gave him an excuse to make big changes to the game purportedly for the sake of player safety. And what changes did he implement? Imposing the DH on the National League; beginning extra innings with a runner on second; and the elimination of up to forty-two minor league teams.

I think that this is a pretty good (and comparatively innocent) illustration of what is going on across America right now.

California, for instance, raised its gasoline tax again this month, so that it now sits at 50.5 cents per gallon. Why would California's politicians be so foolish as go ahead with this hike during an economy-destroying pandemic (what you might call Pulling a Trudeau)? Well,

“Driving is way down, so in theory this is a great time to catch up on highway investment,” observed Ronald Fisher, an economics professor at Michigan State University. While less driving temporarily means less revenue from a gas tax, it also means less disruption from road work. Fisher also pointed out that the state typically contracts with private companies to perform such infrastructure repairs, which means proceeds from the higher gas tax could actually serve as a stimulus for the California economy in the form of job creation.

Right...

In another example from the Golden State, Gov. Gavin Newsom has formed a Recovery Task Force to address California's dire financial situation in the wake of the pandemic. It is co-chaired by uber-environmentalist and failed Democratic Presidential candidate Tom Steyer (a bad sign), and, shockingly, it has concluded that green energy has the potential to be a “huge job creator," according to Steyer. As if this were something which had just occurred to him. Environmentalist Hal Harvey concurs,

[Steyer's] right. Clean energy can be the economic engine for California.... The path is clear: Decarbonize the electric grid, then electrify everything—creating good jobs and thriving clean tech industries along the way.

Which is to say that the powers that be are using this moment of disruption to enact their preexisting agendas. They're taking advantage of your exhaustion, your inclination to give in, in the hope that sometime soon everything will go back to normal. And that's why we need to be especially vigilant right now.

At the center of baseball is a psychological game between pitchers and batters, where the former works to make the latter think that one pitch is coming his way, and then throws him another. Fastball inside, fastball outside, fastball inside, fastball outside. And then comes the curve, and the batter who isn't looking out for it finds himself walking slowly back to the dugout.

Keep yours eyes open. Don't let them sneak the curve past you.

Who's Afraid of 'Climate Change'?

If you don't already keep tabs on Michael Shellenberger, you should. While you may not always agree with him -- Shellenberger is a self-described environmentalist and man of the left -- you will find him to be an honest, insightful, and even brave writer. Brave because he consistently uses facts to counter the hysterical narrative of the Green New Deal wing of the green movement, which as you might imagine doesn't win him a lot of friends.

One example of this: Forbes, where he is a regular contributor, pulled down his most recent piece, 'On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare,' within a few hours of publication.

In the piece, essentially a pitch for his book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Shellenberger reviews his environmentalist bona fides, working to save the California redwoods and lobbying the Obama administration to spend billions on so-called renewable energy, etc. Increasingly, however, he became disturbed by other environmentalists distorting the science to make a case for hysteria, and shutting down anyone who questioned their conclusions.

Shellenberger

They've been so successful that children routinely report having nightmares about climate change and people around the world are convinced the end is near. Eventually Shellenberger came to feel he had a responsibility to speak out and counter their propaganda.

Here are some facts few people know:

• Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
• The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
• Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
• Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
• The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
• The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
• Air pollution and carbon emissions have been declining in rich nations for 50 years
• Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
• We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
• Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
• Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
• Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

(more…)

The Vatican vs. Fossil Fuels

Pope Francis has turned out to be the most radical of modern popes, a social-justice warrior who regularly injects his opinions regarding various climatological and energy issues that have only the most tenuous connections to matters of faith of morals. And away we go:

The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment. The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life and defenseless people.

The compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change. The manual’s section on finance said people “could favor positive changes ... by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.” It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment.

There is certainly some theological justification to the Pope's view that all life matters, to coin a phrase, and that protection of the earth is a part of that. But to unhesitatingly adopt climate-change "science" with acknowledging the leftist politics behind it and then give it the imprimatur of the Holy See is surely taking it too far.

Called ‘Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home’, one action point called on Catholics to shun “shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels." Another section called for the “stringent monitoring” of extraction industries in areas with fragile ecosystems to prevent air, soil and water contamination.

The document urges Catholics to defend the rights of local populations to have a say in whether their lands can be used for oil or mineral extraction and the right to take strong stands against companies that cause environmental disasters or over-exploit natural resources such as forests.

Benedict XVI's still-mysterious abdication in 2013 continues to be more and more regrettable.

Welcome to 476 A.D.

The world's most obnoxious teen girl is at it again. With the grownups having abdicated all responsibility across the western world, and the barbarians at the gates, think of Greta Thunberg as, well... Romulus Augustulus, empress of all she surveys. For now:

Greta Thunberg says the world needs to learn the lessons of coronavirus and treat climate change with similar urgency. That means the world acting "with necessary force", the Swedish climate activist says in an exclusive interview with BBC News.

She doesn't think any "green recovery plan" will solve the crisis alone. And she says the world is now passing a "social tipping point" on climate and issues such as Black Lives Matter. "People are starting to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things", says Ms Thunberg, "we cannot keep sweeping these injustices under the carpet".

She says lockdown has given her time to relax and reflect away from the public gaze.

So who is Romulus Augustulus, you ask?

Ms Thunberg has shared with the BBC the text of a deeply personal programme she has made for Swedish Radio. In the radio programme, which goes online this morning, Greta looks back on the year in which she became one of the world's most high-profile celebrities.

The then 16-year-old took a sabbatical from school to spend a tumultuous year campaigning on the climate. She sailed across the Atlantic on a racing yacht to address a special UN Climate Action summit in New York in September. She describes world leaders queuing to get pictures with her, with Angela Merkel asking whether it was okay to post her photo on social media.

The climate campaigner is sceptical of their motives. "Perhaps it makes them forget the shame of their generation letting all future generations down", she says. "I guess maybe it helps them to sleep at night."

Her Majesty is upset. She came into this world expecting perfection, and the adults have let her down. In fact, they have deliberately destroyed her slim chance of happiness by their willful inaction on the "climate emergency" that's visible all around us. Why, just look out the window!

End of the line.

It was in the UN that she delivered her famous "how dare you" speech. "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words", she told the world leaders gathered in the UN Assembly. She appeared on the verge of tears as she continued. "People are dying," she said, "and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?"

She knew it was a "lifetime moment" and decided not to hold anything back, she says now. "I am going to let my emotions take control and to really make something big out of this because I won't be able to do this again".

Still, the Empress is disappointed in her subjects, who have not lived up to her ideals, and that the glory that was once Rome -- er, Sweden.

She describes travelling back from the UN to her hotel on the subway and seeing people watching the speech on their phones, but says she felt no urge to celebrate. "All that is left are empty words", she says. The phrase reflects her deep cynicism about the motives of most world leaders.

"The level of knowledge and understanding even among people in power is very, very low, much lower than you would think," she told the BBC. She says the only way to reduce emissions on the scale that is necessary is to make fundamental changes to our lifestyles, starting in developing countries. But she doesn't believe any leaders have the nerve to do that. Instead, she says, they "simply refrain from reporting the emissions, or move them somewhere else".

The teenager believes the only way to avoid a climate crisis is to tear up contracts and abandon existing deals and agreements that companies and countries have signed up to. "The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today's political and economic systems", the Swedish climate activist argues. "That isn't an opinion. That's a fact."

Indeed, Her Serene Highness has much, much more to say to her subjects -- but hold! There's someone knocking at the gates. A fellow by the name of Odoacer.

Trudeau Loses Bid for Security Council Seat

I must say that I find this hysterical:

Canada loses bid for seat on UN Security Council

The Liberal government lost a four–year bid for a UN Security Council seat Wednesday, a humbling experience after a high-profile campaign led by the prime minister. Canada finished third, behind Norway and Ireland in the race for two seats on the Security Council. After the vote Justin Trudeau... said it had been a worthwhile exercise. “We listened and learned from other countries, which opened new doors for cooperation to address global challenges, and we created new partnerships that increased Canada’s place in the world,” he said.

Uh-huh. As if, had it gone the other way, we wouldn't all have been subjected to the incessant bleating of "Canada's back!" from the loyal Trudeaupians in the Canadian media, like Rosemary Barton?

Now, as Matt Gurney points out, Canada's losing this contest doesn't really matter. Unless...

Unless you count the millions of public dollars that Trudeau eagerly spent in campaigning for the seat. And the fact that he compromised Canadian principles, breaking a longtime pattern of not supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the UN while sweet-talking some pretty unsavoury world leaders in an attempt to win their votes. Not to mention the vast government resources he marshalled in pursuing his vanity project, even as Canada was dealing with a pandemic crisis of historic proportions.

Which is to say, Trudeau expended a lot of political and actual capital to demonstrate that he's beloved throughout the world and he ended up with egg on his face.

Even funnier, remember last week when we discussed Greta Thunberg's letter encouraging the UN electorate to lean on Canada and Norway for emission reduction concessions in exchange for votes? If it was actually leaned on, Norway has apparently ignored it, as it's just announced that they are full steam ahead on oil production since the price-per-barrel is on the rise.

What's next for Justin? Well, he'll probably get back to kicking the oil and gas industry for a bit, to vent some frustration. And then maybe he'll turn his focus to a snap election in the fall. Hopefully the Conservatives will have an actual leader by then.

The Deep State Goes Green

The RAND Corporation was for years a well-respected international policy think tank -- the name derives from Research ANd Development -- with somewhat shadowy connections to the worlds of government, private industry, and the intelligence community. It does get much more Deep State than RAND.

Lately, it's pretty much gone all-in on "social justice" and all its fashionable attendant causes. As we're seeing, "climate change" has now been married to Covid-19 in the hopes that the lockdowns will not only cut down on emissions, but also get folks used to the idea that they'll soon become a permanent fixture in many ways, thus helping to "save the planet." This is also known as "propaganda."

Case in point:

The spot notes that the government will be investing heavily in restarting the economy, and of course comes down on the "green side" of the false choice is offers between "polluting" industries and renewable unicorn farts. "For climate change, we know we need significant transformations to address this problem. We know that society must transform to address climate change."

Somehow, we all sense that "transformation" is not going to be a suggestion, but a command.

The Censorious Left Strikes Again

Believe it or not, there are a few honest Lefties -- Van Jones and Bill Maher (language warning) immediately come to mind-- and journalist Matt Taibbi is one of them. So, perhaps, is Michael Moore, whose refreshingly honest documentary about the "environmentalist" grifters just got yanked on YouTube for political wrongthink. Here's Taibbi's decidedly non-tribal look at what's going on on the censorious Left:

On April 21st, 2020, just before the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, Oscar-winning director/producer Michael Moore released a new movie called Planet of the Humans. Directed by Jeff Gibbs, the film is a searing look at the ostensible failures of the environmentalist movement, to which Moore and Gibbs both belonged. “Jeff and I were at the first Earth Day celebrations,” Moore laughs. “That’s how old we are.”

Distributed for free on YouTube, the film’s central argument is that the environmentalist movement, fattened by corporate donations, has become seduced by an industrialist delusion. “The whole idea of the film was to ask a question – after fifty years of the environmentalist movement, how are we doing?” recounts Moore. “It looks like, not very well.”

That's an understatement. "No enemies to the Left," has long been a "progressive" rallying cry; one of the reasons the Left is constantly on the attack is that it rarely if ever has to protect its left flank, or worry about the enemy getting to its rear. Moore's movie changed that. Which is why, after a manufactured outcry from the usual suspects whose gravy-trained oxes just got gored, YouTube took the film down for a "copyright infringement" over four seconds of fair-use footage.

The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones. The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.

A pair of California doctors were taken off YouTube for declaring stay-at-home measures unnecessary; right-wing British broadcaster and trumpeter of shape-shifting reptile theories David Icke was taken off YouTube; a video by Rockefeller University epidemiologist Knut Wittknowski was taken down, apparently for advocating a “herd immunity” approach to combating the virus. These moves all came after the popular libertarian site Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter, ostensibly for suggesting a Chinese scientist in Wuhan was responsible for coronavirus.

These and many other incidents came in addition to a slew of moves aimed at right-wing speakers accused of varying degrees of conspiratorial misinformation and/or hate speech, from a decision by Twitter to begin “fact-checks” of Donald Trump to wholesale removals from Facebook of “anti-immigrant” sites like VDare and the Unz Review.

One problem is the so-called “reputable” fact-checking authorities many platforms are relying upon have terrible factual histories themselves. There’s an implication that “misinformation” by foreign or independent actors is somehow more dangerous than broadly-disseminated official deceptions about U.S. misbehavior abroad, or manufactured scandals like Russiagate. We now expect libertarian or socialist pages to be zapped at any minute, but none of the outlets which amplified the bogus Steele dossier have been put in Internet timeout.

Taibbi notes correctly that the partisan "regulation" and "fact-checking" of speech on social media platforms is simply censorship. Sheep on the Right will bleat that it's not the government taking down speech it doesn't agree with it (that would be forbidden under the First Amendment) -- but the Bill of Rights has now been thoroughly shredded by the absurd Wuhan panic, so what difference, at this point, does it make?

Censorship -- especially the arbitrary takedown of a film by a mainstream leftist like Moore -- is still censorship.

The drive to step up “content control” isn’t all driven from the top down. A major additional factor has been the growth of a new intellectual movement geared toward delegitimizing speech and rationalizing censorship. The Moore incident provided a clear demonstration of how this new social reflex works. “Maybe we’re wrong,” Moore says. “We’d have liked to have that discussion. That was a big reason we made the movie.”

Instead, critics rolled out a now-familiar playbook to depict the movie as too villainous to exist.

"Too villainous to exist." This is the Leftist argument against everything it hates. Tax it! Criminalize it! Ban it! Everything from fossil fuels to free speech has come under their baleful gaze, and all of it must go. That way lies totalitarianism; on the Left everything that has outlived its usefulness, such as the First Amendment, is Nikolai Yezhov (pictured, and non-pictured, above), a secret policeman known as the "Bloody Dwarf," who helped run Stalin's purge, until the purges finally got him too, and he had to be "disappeared" -- not just physically, but from the pages of history as well. Having long hidden behind the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, the Left no longer finds it useful, and wishes to criminalize it under the rubric of "hate speech."

No wonder President Trump just signed the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, which seeks to rein in such platforms as Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and other tools of politically correct enforcement.

Section 1.  Policy.Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

That's how they were sold, of course -- free and open to everybody.  That, however, turned out to be the drug-dealer approach to marketing his wares: a free trial, then the hook, then a lifetime of misery and penury.  As Moore correctly notes, no one is safe in this latest version of the Great Terror:

In the past, a copyright dispute would have been a matter for courts. So, too, would questions of defamation that might have been raised by the likes of McKibben. Now critics can just run to Mommy and Daddy tech companies to settle disputes, and there’s no clear process for those removed to argue their cases. This is a situation that carries serious ramifications, especially for people who have less reach and financial clout than Moore. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody,” is how Moore puts it.

Maybe Moore is wrong about the environmental movement, but these new suppression tactics are infinitely more dangerous than one movie ever could be, and progressives seem to have lost the ability to care.

This is the world the Left is preparing, not only for its ovine followers but for free-thinking men and women everywhere. Who's in?  Who's out? Just ask Nikolai Yezhov, if you can find him.