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.’

'Disinformation' Tyranny Brooks No Debate

To give credit where credit is due, the recent announcement from the White House establishing the “Disinformation Governance Board” as part of the Department of Homeland Security did not actually utilize the terms “Goodthink” or “Ministry of Propaganda.” References to Goebbels appear to have been minimized as well.

It is clear that no one can possibly define what is purported to be potentially harmful “disinformation” unless one has the God-like ability to determine what qualifies as unquestionably truthful information and that this information is being used to reach unquestionably accurate conclusions.

That distinction is vital. Any collection of true propositions can be used to defend a flawed conclusion. It is true, for example, that a ball placed on a sloped surface will roll toward the bottom of the slope. It is true that the floor of most everyone’s home is not a sloped surface. It is true that a ball placed on the floor of most everyone’s home will remain in place. One can put those three truths together and conclude that planet earth is flat, not a sphere.

Looks pretty flat to me.

There are indeed people who sincerely believe that planet earth is flat and they use selected facts in a selective manner to buttress their argument. In a free society they are not only able to do so, they should be encouraged to do so. If the folks in power ban any discussion of a flat earth, more than one person is going to wonder why. If this idea is as ludicrous and unscientific as is claimed, why can not any person be allowed to examine the idea and bear witness to its ludicrousness? When a censor insists that something must be covered, it only increases one’s curiosity to discover what's under the cover.

It seems certain that former President Barack Obama has much more to do with this attack on free speech than the current occupant of the White House. President Biden appears as unlikely to create a board whose name includes a five-syllable word as he is to successfully pronounce it.

As part of a speech at Stanford University on April 21, Obama applauded social media platforms for their attempts at censorship. But, he concluded that those platforms do not and can not handle the important work of suppressing opinion by themselves. He claimed that while “…content moderation can limit the distribution of clearly dangerous content, it doesn't go far enough.” Six days later, the Biden administration rolled out the new Ministry of Propaganda. Coincidence? I think not.

Three words stand out in the former president’s statement: “clearly dangerous content.” There is certainly content on the interwebs that is “clearly dangerous” to general acceptance of outdated and fanciful ideas promulgated by the former Organizer in Chief and his party. There are certainly people who are “clearly dangerous” to the continued success of people who want to divide Americans based on appearance and identity and people who want to turn gender into an amorphous idea rather than a biological fact.

I suppose I myself must be “clearly dangerous” because I don’t believe that climate change is wholly man-made, that we can and should attempt to manipulate the climate, and that the economic and human cost of most of the schemes proposed to limit future use of fossil fuels is far too high a price to pay. One can and should accept the facts that carbon dioxide acts as a greenhouse gas, that mankind is responsible for increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrialized era and that mean global temperatures, which have fluctuated throughout the industrial era, seem to have risen slightly in recent years. None of those facts, which I agree with and with which I am professionally qualified to evaluate, leads me to the conclusion that climate change is entirely man-made and necessarily catastrophic.

On the other hand, maybe it can.

Does my interpretation of those commonly accepted facts make me dangerous in Barack Obama’s eyes? Do similar interpretations by scientists like Roy Spencer and Judith Curry make them dangerous to Forty-Four? I suspect he thinks so.

From all I know of Barack Obama, he is what a colleague who served alongside him in the Illinois Senate described as “a nice guy, but an empty suit.” I place him squarely in the class of what I think of as the simple-minded scholars. These are people who have learned so much about so little that they have managed to disconnect themselves from objective reality and that great human instinct we call common sense.

This is not a new phenomenon.  Plato preached mysticism, while Aristotle was a champion of practicality. Plato imagined. Aristotle observed. Both philosophies have their place, but neither should dominate.

It has been nearly eight hundred years since Thomas Aquinas, that towering figure in both theology and philosophy, dragged the western world back to reality by its ear. Aquinas reiterated what should be an obvious point: if you see something, then what you’re seeing is what it is. If what you see is in fact something else, then the whole of Creation is kind of pointless, ain’t it? So let’s stop all this Platonic speculation about the nature of reality and simply accept that it’s real, that it’s God’s creation and that in revealing more of it, we get closer to our Creator.

In order to continue on this noble journey, more ideas are needed, not fewer. Discussions need to be open, not restricted. Ideas, even stupid ideas, even hateful ideas, are not dangerous. Actions alone are dangerous. The leftist conception that passionate expression necessitates violent action is simple-minded and offensive. It presumes a level of stupidity and subservience among the human race that should disgust us all.

In Barack Obama’s tiny world, Patrick Henry would have banned from speaking in public again after he dared to utter his defiant choice: “give me liberty, or give me death!” Fighting words do not, as the left seems to believe, necessarily or even frequently result in physical confrontations. They instead are part of battles that involve ideas. No one, and certainly no arm of government, has the right to intervene on that sacred battlefield.

Drinking, Drowning From the Regulatory Firehose

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a friend who works for the E.P.A. He commented on the changes in his job under the current Administration using this phrase: “we’re being asked to drink from a firehose.” Within the context of the conversation, the meaning of his message was clear. It wasn’t a complaint as much as it was a compliment. Whereas the Trump administration had chocked down hard on the plumbing of environmental regulation, the Biden administration has opened the stopcocks as fully as possible. “Drinking from a firehose,” from my friend’s point of view, was a metaphorical way of saying that my friend would never lack for something to do under the Biden administration.

I do not begrudge my friend his choice of making a living, Nor do I begrudge him a particular world-view that may – in a particular opinion – place unintended and unearned weight on propositions I believe to be at least somewhat faulty. My friend may be right in part or in whole, just as I may be. My personal obligation as a member of the human community is to constantly and objectively re-assess what I believe to be the truth and to relate the truth as I understand it to be as clearly and concisely as possible, without resorting to personal animus, unless of course resorting to animus elicits a cheap laugh or two.

Broadly-speaking, Donald Trump’s political opponents in both politics and the press defined Trumpism’s attitude toward the entrenched bureaucratic class as both assault and battery. In the case of the government’s role in environmental protection, Democrats and their mainstream media allies essentially painted Trumpism in colors that were certainly not reliable shades of green, but were decidedly smears of a soiled, brownish hue. According to them, President Trump did not really want to restore some balance to the entirely worthy propositions of environmental protection and economic equity, which is essentially how he and his supporters defined their mission in these areas. Instead, the President’s opponents insisted that he was determined to sabotage the supposedly fragile purity of the environment in order to supposedly protect sordid, favored economic interests.

Trumpism, as seen by the Left.

When dealing with this and virtually any other part of what has become known as “the swamp” of the entrenched ruling class, the ultimate message of Trumpism is to say: “bureaucrats, know thy proper place!” Biden, or more likely Biden’s handlers, have replied with an angry, more defiant message: “Bureaucrats, assume Thy Rightful Place!”

What might appear at first blush to be roughly equivalent themes are, upon closer examination, not even closely related. The attempt to limit bureaucracy  to its most advantageous mode of behavior and no farther is simply about understanding the proper role of bureaucrats in an increasingly complex world. The attempt to make bureaucracy immune from censure is about surrendering the rights of the governed to the frozen, unemotional “wisdom” of a governing class. It's about further empowering power, not about monitoring the equitable and therefore wise distribution of power.

Truly representative government thrives from – nay, demands – challenge from within. This is common ground that bitterly-opposed political theorists like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were willing to cede to the other. Each was a towering figure who influenced and continues to influence the direction of this marvelous experiment of a nation in proportions that go far beyond the number of years they were citizens of it.

Adams foresaw a nation that relied upon centralized principles and authority. He believed that federalism (as then defined) was necessary to maintain a consistence of purpose that would in turn ensure its continued success. Jefferson foresaw a nation that relied upon decentralized thought and discovery. He believed that democratic-republicanism (as then defined) was a necessary perquisite to the survival of the Republic. What we now know as America remains essentially an amalgam of these contrary, yet complimentary, points of view.

What united Adams and Jefferson – until what was literally their mutual dying day: July 4, 1826 – was the revolutionary idea that it might be possible to create a system of governance that would allow the governed to retain some degree of power over those engaged in governing.

Adams tended toward the republican ideal of representative government, which demanded a certain standard of care among those privileged to represent its citizens. Jefferson tended toward the more purely democratic ideal of representative government that demanded no more of a representative than assurance that he or she continued to breathe. In hindsight, neither Adams nor Jefferson was wholly right, nor was wholly wrong. One can reach the peak of Everest via the Southern Col or the Northeast Ridge. Each has its perils. What really matters is getting to the summit, not how you got there. Though they chose different paths, Adams and Jefferson were united in their vision of their summit of representative government.

Ah, heaven on earth...

Our goal, as both the supervisors of our republic and those who are supervised by it, ought not to be so concerned whether the vision of Adams or Jefferson prevails almost two centuries after they've passed on. We should rather concern ourselves with the proposition that the intellectual heirs of both Adams and Jefferson have abdicated their responsibilities, turning over more and more power to faceless minions accountable to no one but themselves.

President Trump showed it was possible to drain at least some of the swamp, despite the fierce response that doing so elicited among many of the fierce creatures dwelling there. Sadly, the current administration seems to determined to refill it until we drown. We can, and we must, resist these denizens of the deep.

Putin on the Blitz: Demand Matters

So President Biden said that he was releasing 60 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve to combat high gas prices, but we would no longer import Russian crude, which would supposedly have a negative effect on gas prices. For those who understand how energy markets actually work, those were two remarkably ignorant, or intentionally deceptive, statements. Releasing an amount of crude equivalent to three days' domestic usage, and cutting off a supplier that – at best – supplied less than 2 percent of crude to America’s refineries aren’t going to do much of anything to reduce gas prices.

The basic problem is that liberals don’t understand the concept of demand. They get subsidies, pay-offs, endless and mostly pointless rules – except for voting, of course, shouldn’t be any actual requirements to do that – tax breaks, cutting off supplies from out-of-favor suppliers, and a host of other things that they can control. They can’t control demand.

Julian Simon’s famous bet with Paul Erlich is a case in point. If you don’t know about it, a brief recap is in order. Simon was an economist who believed in the power of free markets. Erlich is a professor of biology who has the distinction of being wrong about almost every long-term prediction he has made, ever. For example, late in the twentieth century Erlich predicted that England would not make it to the twenty-first. Pretty sure it’s still there.

Anyway, Erlich was and is a doomsday junkie. One of his favorite themes is that there are way too many people in the world and thus eventually we’ll run out of resources. Simon replied that free markets always find a way, because of the way demand works. The more valuable the resource and the greater the demand for it, the more the price will drop over time.

Simon let Erlich pick any five raw materials he wanted in late 1980. If the price of the material went up over the next ten years, Erlich would win $2,000 per material. If the price of the material went down, Simon would win $2,000 per material. The raw materials Erlich chose were copper, chromium, nickel, tin and tungsten. Ten years came and went and the price of each material declined, making Simon the winner of $10,000.

The reason Simon won is because demand rules. Once there is sufficient demand for something, people are going to find a way to make more of it, or – if that’s not possible – to find a substitute.

John D. Rockefeller: "I cheat my boys every chance I get. I want to make them sharp."

The richest fellow in American history, John D. Rockefeller amassed his fortune by figuring out how to refine and transport petroleum more cheaply than anyone else. He didn’t establish a virtual monopoly on oil refining and transport by nefarious means, he rather established the monopoly because nobody could meet demand better than Standard Oil.

Another example? Semiconductors. The earliest semiconductors were used in transistors, a leap forward in electronics of massive proportions. There early semi-conductors were made of Germanium, a relatively rare element. As transistors took off, it became clear that something more practical was needed. Scientists figured out a way to purify silica (aka sand) sufficiently for use as a semi-conductor. Semiconductor prices plummeted and supplies increased. Problem solved.

Now, let’s think about this demand concept in terms of energy. When President Mean Tweets was in office, America was a net energy exporter for the first time since the Truman administration. Oil was around $40 a barrel and natural gas was dirt cheap. We had done what then-candidate Barack Obama declared we couldn’t do when he ran for President in 2008: we drilled our way to $2 dollar per gallon gas.

A side benefit of this new-found energy independence was that it really hurt Vladimir Putin, whose country depends heavily on petrochemical revenue. Orange Man’s energy policies and his complete refusal to give into the environmental lobby kept prices low -- and that kept the Kremlin scrambling for rubles. Under Trump, the U.S. imported zero barrels of Russian crude until the final three months of his term. In those last three months Russian crude imports averaged around 62,000 barrels per day, about 0.3 percent of daily domestic usage.

Along comes President Biden and all of the sudden imports of Russian crude jump up substantially, sometime approaching or exceeding 500,000 barrels per day. Up until the prez put in the ban, Russian crude accounted for about 1.7 percent of daily usage on average. That’s not huge, but one cannot help but wonder why that happened. If Putin is the devil incarnate, why would Biden allow us to buy five times more Russian crude than Trump ever did?

Could it have something to do with a president who stopped new leases to drill on federal lands, shut down the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, etc?  What nobody in the Biden administration seems to understand is that the price of gas has nothing to do with the supply of crude oil at the moment. It’s about projected availability in the future vs projected demand.

Proven reserves is a good measure of where the futures market is heading. Pre-Covid, proven reserves increased more than 35 percent under Trump. Under Biden, primarily because of the lease freeze, they’ve plummeted. Exploration companies don’t – can’t – explore and get the permits to drill on every lease they have. The more leases they can get hands on, the greater the chances that they’ll find one with easily discoverable oil that can be permitted relatively quickly. Restrict the number of leases and you cut that pool down. No matter what Jen Psaki thinks, every lease is not a winner. In professional baseball, one drafts a whole lot more players than will actually ever play in the Show. Oil leases work the same way.

The other big factor that influences crude prices is market stability. The more the players perceive instability in the market, the higher the price of energy. Biden’s moves will have virtually no effect on actual supply, but they are a clear signal to the market that this administration is dedicated to smoke and mirrors rather than meaningful measures that will steady the futures market. If anything, Biden put more money in Vlad’s pocket by sending more signals of market instability and thus driving up the price of crude even further.

And the worst part about it is that nothing he says or does will do anything to change world demand for petroleum products. If we pump less oil, refine less, produce less gasoline -- all that means is that somebody else will. Demand will be filled. It’s only a question of by whom and for how much. Demand always wins.

OUT: Ozone; IN: Particulate Matter

It’s the go-to solution when you need to complain about air pollution: particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter, aka Fine Particles aka PM-2.5. It’s dangerous! It’s deadly! Removing it from the air will usher in previously unforeseen levels of economic prosperity! We know this to be true because the academic elite and the ruling class assure us it is so. If you are inclined to question the so-called “science” please shut the hell up and stand in the corner.

Oddly, PM-2.5 didn’t always have the starring role in the nation’s air pollution drama that it enjoys today. Shoot, for the first twenty-six years of the Clean Air Act it wasn’t even officially on stage.

The star of the air pollution world for the first thirty or so years was urban ozone, sometimes called smog. Ozone is welcome in the stratosphere where it blocks strong ultraviolet radiation. Not so much in the troposphere though, because that’s where we do our breathing. Ozone doesn’t get along with lungs very well.

Welcome to L.A., the nation's bogeyman.

If you’re old enough, you can remember flying into big cities on hot summer days and passing through a layer of atmosphere that had a decided orange tinge. What you were witnessing was the interaction between two air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that form unwelcome ozone in the troposphere during hot, relatively calm days.

One doesn’t see that phenomenon much anymore this side of the Los Angeles basin. Since it’s located in what is essentially a geological bowl, L.A. is about the greatest ozone incubator in the United States. Everywhere else, programs to reduce emission of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds were wildly successful. From the perspective of many environmental groups, perhaps too successful. As more and more urban centers came into compliance with new ozone standards, it became harder and harder to keep up the scare. People aren’t apt to open up their wallets for a healthy planet. The Sierra Club et al. need the scare to survive.

Presidents Clinton, Bush number 2 and Obama tried to help solve the problem by redefining clean air to include lesser and lesser concentrations of ozone. Like it or not, there’s always going to be some ozone in the air we breathe. Less as you live farther from the equator where temperatures don’t support ozone formation. More if you live closer to the earth’s relatively hot midriff. (Even more should you decide to purchase an “air purifier” for you home that claims to accomplish that goal by generating ozone. Go figure.)

Continually redefining “clean air” by reducing the amount of allowable ozone in the troposphere didn’t work out as planned either. Big urban areas kept making reductions in emissions. Even those that couldn’t quite hit the ridiculously low ozone standard that Obama’s EPA implemented could still point to massive overall reductions in ozone formation over the decades.

Less ozone, more asthma?

It was also harder and harder to play the asthma card, which is as important to environmental NGOs as the race card is to Democrats. You can’t keep wringing your hands about ozone causing asthma when we’ve got fifty years of data that shows steadily decreasing ozone generation and steadily increasing incidences of asthma. It is famously true that correlation is not necessarily causation, but in this case we don’t even have correlation.

So, the spotlight gradually shifted to PM-2.5. The EPA established a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for the pollutant in 1997. That standard was subsequently lowered twice, in 2006 and again in 2012. In 2020 the EPA reviewed the PM-2.5 standard again, as it is required to do for all NAAQS every five years and decided that the 2012 standards were low enough. Indeed the PM-2.5 NAAQS is now so low that it’s approaching background levels in many areas. But now the EPA has reversed itself – can’t imagine why – and is taking another look at lowering an already ridiculously low standard.

Here's the thing about PM-2.5: it’s an all-purpose weapon in the hands of pr-savvy NGOs. It’s everywhere and it can be – and is – blamed for any illness involving the lungs. When EPA does its peculiar arithmetic to demonstrate how much money a new regulation is going to save the nation, they trot out PM-2.5. Their logical progression is as follows: 1) numerous studies show that PM-2.5 is related to respiratory illnesses, 2) reducing PM-2.5 in the atmosphere will reduce respiratory illnesses by “N” amount, 3) fewer respiratory illnesses mean less hospitalizations and longer lives, 4) less hospitalizations saves consumers “X” dollars, 5) longer lives are worth “Y” dollars, and 6) X + Y = a bagillion dollars!

You can’t prove that any of this actually happens. But, you can’t disprove it either. Claiming monetary savings by reducing PM-2.5 is practically required to justify any sort of rule-making these days. EPA promulgated the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) in 2011, a regulation aimed at reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. It was tough to find economic benefit in reducing mercury emissions, especially since the vast majority of mercury in the atmosphere originates in coal-fired power plants in China and India. So they turned to PM-2.5. It seems that the controls that lower mercury emissions will also lower PM-2.5 emissions Who knew! The majority of the “savings” that EPA attributes to MATS—$37 to $90 billion per year, if you believe them—comes from incidental PM-2.5 reductions. They did the same dance when the Boiler MACT rules, which affect industrial boilers of all kinds, were first promulgated. PM-2.5 reductions again “paid” for the cost of the rule.

Blame nature, not Man.

Amazing stuff this PM-2.5. One could make a fortune just by removing it from the air, with the side benefit that we would all then pretty much become immortal. But here’s something EPA never brings up when it’s championing the value of PM-2.5 reductions, or passing new rules that will “reduce” their presence in the air we breathe. The biggest source of PM-2.5 emissions, according to EPA’s own data is not industry. Nor is it mobile sources. The biggest source of PM-2.5 in the atmosphere are natural (biogenic) sources and fires. The latter category includes forest fires and controlled burns. About 75 percent of all the PM-2.5 in the air we breathe comes from natural sources and fires.

Claiming that reducing PM-2.5 emissions from industrial sources will have this magically profitable effect on the American economy is a nothing but a scam. Now, more than ever, industrial and mobile sources have less and less to do with the PM-2.5 in the air we breathe. If the politicians and regulators who piously claim that “they follow the science” truly did, you’d think they would admit that.

Tornados, Tragedy, and Ghoulish Politicians

There’s an old saying that to a carpenter equipped only with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. It is much the same in the weird world of climate alarmists: any bad weather must be caused by what they call “the climate crisis.” There’s really no need for professional meteorologists in their world. Climate change causes everything.

Case in point are the devastating series of tornados that hit Kentucky and neighboring states last weekend. President Biden claimed that he understands the root cause of the problem. “The fact is that we all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming,” the President said. “Everything. And obviously it has some impact here, but I can’t give you a quantitative read on that.”

News flash: nobody can give us a quantitative read on that. In the first place, tornados are too small to resolve on the climate change models currently in use. The models can’t deal with tornados, because they can’t see them. Moreover, nobody actually knows what causes tornados to form. Meteorologists understand how supercells form, which often turn into the most severe form of thunderstorm, but what causes some supercells to spawn tornados? Scientists that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration admit that they don’t really know.

With the prevalence of Doppler radar in the U.S. today and that technology’s ability to get finer resolution than other types of radar, tornados that were small enough to escape detection in decades past are now part of the annual total. This while it might look to folks like the President that there has been a drastic uptick in tornados in recent years, there is little indication that is the case. 

In fact, the most devastating years for tornados in recent times was 2011, when a late spring/early summer outbreak killed more than 580 people and cost more than $21 billion in property damage.  By that standard, the Kentucky event is not all that unusual. It’s just part of living in North America.

Blaming a tornado outbreak on a non-existent pattern of bad weather caused by climate change is intellectually lazy in the extreme. The story that alarmists are trying to sell is that as our system retains more energy, that energy has to be dissipated somewhere and naturally that’s going to cause severe weather. That model may work when you overfill a balloon to the point of bursting, but it has no place in evaluating a complex and dynamic global climate system.

Not "global warming," either.

Supercells sometimes spawn tornados. Wind variables spawn supercells. So does it follow that increased temperatures equates to more wind? Winds are created by pressure differentials, which are related to temperature differentials, not by increased temperature. Abhorring a vacuum as they do, masses of air tend to flow from high pressure to lower pressure regions, creating wind. How these wind patterns converge and diverge and sometimes come together in just the right way to cause a severe weather event is process that involves a wide array of variables. Shining the spotlight on a single one, temperature, is the opposite of how science works.

There is something depressing and ghoulish about politicians and pundits rushing in to shed crocodile tears over the bodies of the victims after a natural disaster strikes. For we know that however much grief climate change zealots like Biden display in public, there is also glee inside as they contemplate how well the tragedy will serve their radical agendas.

Gone Green with the Wind

There are few things more beloved of "conservationists" than the environmental devastation caused by wind farms. In Australia, a 2019 project atop Mt. Emerald in Northern Queensland, at first greeted as a great leap forward for "green energy," is now causing major concern. What had once been pristine wilderness, noted environmentalist Steve Nowakowski with dismay, "is now basically a quarry site. That landscape will never come back."

Apparently, he had no idea that many other wind farms were under construction or planned for the same geographical area; some on tracts of unspoilt country. That really gets under the skin of your average environmentalist of yesteryear. “It’s really out of control… and no one knows about it," he said.

That's the price of progress, apparently. Michael Moore’s 2019 documentary movie Planet of the Humans captures the dilemma. Unsightly, costly, acreage demanding, bird-killing, child-labor-using and, to boot, unreliable thus needing nasty fossil-fuel backup. What true greenie would like them? Anyway, it's far fewer humans that they really want, not more energy, whatever the source.

There are no offshore windfarms yet in Australia. One advanced proposal is to build one in the Bass Strait, off the coast of Gippsland in South East Australia. The problem? Birds. One fisherman not only pointed to the danger to migratory birds but also to the effect on fishing. Birds are such good fishermen, he said, “we watch them, and we know where the fish are.” There you go, process it as you will.

But wherever you figuratively fish, on land or sea, from Evia in Greece, where they will “ruin acres of ancient forests;” across the Atlantic to the U.S., where Robert Bryce writing in Forbes in September claimed that 317 wind projects had been cancelled due to environmental concerns; and onwards across the Pacific to Australia, environmentalism has a schism.

Look out above.

Expect the list of rejected wind farms to grow. For example, in recent times, a Southern Tablelands farm in New South Wales was rejected because of its “visual impact on residents.” And one in central Queensland because of its “potential impact on threatened native animal species, including the koala.”

“The faux environmentalist is easy to spot: he loves industrial wind power and couldn’t care less about the environmental destruction it causes,” said one environmentalist. Internecine struggles are afoot. Such struggles, like civil wars, are usually ugly

You wonder what those supporting renewable energy think will happen to pristine land and coastal waters. In 2019 wind accounted for 2.2 percent of the world's primary energy consumption. And if it gets to only a modest 22 percent, where exactly do they think these tens upon tens of thousands of square miles of wind farms are going to go?  Thankfully, not before time, the opposition's growing.