Black Monolith or Energy Black Hole?

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

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

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

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

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

Funny, it doesn't look like a monolith.

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

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

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

The Descent of Man: Feeling good about feeling good.

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

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

'Eco-Feminists' vs. 'Toxic' Reality

“If civilization had been left in female hands,” wrote Camilla Paglia in her 1990 book Sexual Personae, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

Feminists have often retorted that patriarchal societies prevented women from exercising their artistic, scientific, and technological gifts—and that women’s true capabilities in these areas are still not fully known because of ongoing sexism. Lately, however, at least one group of feminist critics—namely the proponents of eco-feminism, who see the exploitation of women and of the environment as linked issues—not only seem to agree with Paglia, but go so far as to suggest that living in grass huts would be far preferable to controlling and dominating nature in the way that men have done. 

That’s the idea expressed in the almost-parodically titled “Boys and their toys: how overt masculinity dominates Australia’s relationship with water,” by Anna Kosovac, PhD. Published in the popular academic journal The Conversation, the article was written by a University of Melbourne academic who holds a prestigious Research Chair in Water Policy. 

Back to the future?

Writing from her air-conditioned room in an ivory tower designed, built, and maintained by men, intersectional feminist Kosovac believes that the days of exerting control over nature through dams, water pipelines, and sewer networks are largely over: the time has come, she writes almost mystically, “to reassess the old methods and explore new ways in our relationship with water.” In her view, masculine over-reliance on “technological and infrastructure ‘fixes’” is preventing Australians from “work[ing] in tandem with the environment” to address the country’s water needs.     

Although Kosovac states at the article’s outset that she spent nine years working as a civil engineer in water management, she has almost nothing good to say about the field as it currently operates, aside from the grudging admission that “there’s nothing inherently wrong with using technology to solve water issues.” But in Kosovac’s masculine-averse perspective, the male technocratic mind is far too rigid and exclusionary. It assumes that serious sustainability problems can be solved with “gadgets,” as she calls them, such as smart meters and other data-collecting technologies, and it will not give fair consideration to other (eco-feminist and Indigenous spiritual) perspectives.

Kosovac alleges that Australia is suffering both politically and ecologically from “toxic masculinity.” This is a now-standard feminist phrase striking for its bigotry and intellectual incoherence.  At times this “dominant masculinity” seems indistinguishable from men themselves; at other times it is a specific attitude toward power, the exercise of control over nature and less powerful “others,” that is manifested by particular white, heterosexual men. The author speaks with satisfaction of the recent “fury of women” at the “toxic masculine culture of Parliament House” while neglecting to mention that women comprise 31% of the House of Representatives and a whopping 53% of the Senate. Closer to home, she complains that “in the area of water supply, sewage, and drainage services, only 19.8% of the workforce comprises people who identify as women.” Here is a patriarchal plot, one presumes, to keep women out of the sewers they would otherwise have been clamoring to enter. 

Girl power, One Million Years BC.

Kosovac cautions, nonetheless, that simply creating a more “diverse” water industry workforce made up of women, the Indigenous, and LGBTQI will not necessarily change “male-dominated decision making” and false faith in technology. That is what must change, according to Kosovac, though she never tells readers precisely what non-masculine, non-technological water management would look like.

It is quite stunning to read Kosovac’s glib dismissal of the male-led efforts that have made drought-prone Australia, the driest continent in the world, not only habitable for millions of people but one of the most prosperous and self-sustaining nations on earth. Missing from her sneering screed is any acknowledgement of Australia’s enormous achievements in water management, including seawater de-salination, which plays an increasing role in supplying water to many of Australia’s largest cities, or in the use of reclaimed wastewater for agricultural irrigation and other needs. 

One of Kosovac’s primary criticisms of Australian technology is the failure to engage the community or to care about ordinary people’s views and preferences (she cites one example in which residents of Toowoomba rejected recycled wastewater for drinking in a referendum that “divided the county”—apparently feminist policies are never divisive). The Australian situation is, in fact, far more complex than Kosovac’s article suggests. The Water Reform Agenda, adopted in 1994, established the principle of public consultation and emphasized the right of communities to participate in the development of water supply policies. Robust measures to encourage rainwater harvesting, greywater use, and many other conservation efforts with wide public support have been in effect for years and are a testimony to the multi-pronged, community-based approach pioneered in Australia.

While indulging in harsh criticism of the conservation and management practices currently employed in her country, Kosovac’s article is notably thin on solutions. It is time for a new way of doing things, she tells us repeatedly. But what is it?  She is in favor, it seems, of a “humble” approach that rejects the exertion of “control,” telling readers, with familiar academic vagueness, that “a different approach would incorporate valuable knowledge in the social sciences, such as recognizing the politics and social issues at play in how we manage water.” This is theoretical gibberish, and means little more than that under the influence of eco-feminist critics like Kosovac and her cadre of utopia-envisioning colleagues, water policy will be subject to a cultural Marxist analysis to identify oppressor groups (white male engineers, mostly, and those who support them) and oppressed groups (ethnic and gender minorities); such analysis will always castigate the oppressors and call for greater involvement of the marginalized.

Water, water, not quite everywhere.

True to form, Kosovac advocates “working closely with traditional owners to incorporate Indigenous understandings of water.” As an example of this approach, Kosovac refers with evident approval to a piece of 2017 legislation passed in New Zealand “that recognized the Whanganui River catchment as a legal person. The reform formally acknowledged the special relationship local Maori have with the river.”

It may be that despite her eco-feminist ideological commitments, Kosovac is struck near-speechless by this legislation, for she concludes her article soon thereafter without enlightening readers about how a governmental act of personification will help to address water management. Her only other specific suggestion involves “moving to community decision making models or even programs to increase youth involvement in water management.” Asking teenagers for input about water use may well yield some novel suggestions, but it’s difficult to conclude they will responsibly revolutionize water policy.  

Kosovac proclaims her support for “giving up some control.” I suspect, however, that her faith in youth and community consultation, and even in Indigenous spiritual beliefs, will last only so long as potable water flows abundantly from her tap and the toilet flushes on command. The much-derided “toys” of the “boys” may well represent a masculine orientation that it is now fashionable to condemn, but that masculine way of dealing with our environment has inarguably kept the sewage and water systems functional, thus making all our lives immeasurably better. The simple fact is that exerting control over water is indistinguishable from civilization itself. When it comes to complex technological systems, I’ll take the boys with their toys over the girls clutching their pearls any day of the week.

The Fake News of 'Beyond Coal'

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

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

Burning natural gas is now more dangerous than coal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stepping Up, or Stepping Back?

Of all the environmental topics I write about, the one I almost never write about is "climate change." The topic has beaten to death over thirty years and frankly it bores me. Like Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway, the one thing I cannot abide is boredom.

However, President Biden, or possibly his puppeteers, recently felt obliged to say it was time for America to “step up” to fight climate change. Folks of my persuasion would have preferred that the president asked his audience to “step back” instead. Specifically, he could have asked them to step back and consider all the things the United States has done to tilt at this particular windmill.

We’ve made massive reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions over the last twenty years. We’ve shut down scores of coal-fired power plants. We destabilized the grid in many parts of the country by relying on inherently unreliable sources of power to a degree that makes sane electrical engineers weep. Oh, by the way, we have not only allowed unreliable sources of power to threaten grid reliability, we subsidized the people who built them!

Apocalypse now!

What's more, we got rid of the incandescent light bulb, which of course resulted in a massive drop in electrical demand all across the country. (If you’re a liberal and you happen to read this, that last sentence is what we on the right call “sarcasm” – it’s part of something known as a “sense of humor”).

We drive electric cars, we have greenhouse gas trading programs, we’ve got state mandates, we’ve got municipal mandates, we’ve got corporate initiatives and we’ve got half the population spending 98 percent of their waking day worrying about a problem that the other half doesn’t believe exists and that we can’t possibly solve even if it did. Can we get some credit? Just a little, maybe?

There is one thing of which a writer who chooses to write about climate change can be absolutely certain: nothing he or she says is going to change anyone’s mind. The last person to change his mind about "climate change" was a small town shopkeeper in rural Kentucky back in 2007.

With that in mind, let me just make a couple of general observations about climate change that the reader may find interesting.

First, I don’t believe it is any coincidence that global warming fears began to “heat up” about the time the Cold War ended. Up through 1991 everyone was worried, more or less, about the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. But while everyone was worried, nobody does worry like the left. They’re in love with it. And, no surprise, the problem that caused them to wring their hands about nuclear weapons was – wait for it – America! But for our evil, war-mongering, imperialistic selves, the world would not have to suffer under this shadow of doom. The hysteria reached its peak when Reagan was elected, with liberals and journalists wailing that the Gipper would hit the "nukem" button immediately after taking the oath of office.

Then this terrible thing happened to the Left: the Cold War ended. Worse, from their perspective, we won! You’ve got millions of Americans who pretty much hate America, who have spent literally decades engaged in self-loathing and fear-mongering, sure that crazy conservatives were going to wipe out all life on earth unless they somehow could be made to see the light. So if it wasn't "climate change" now, it would be  something else. The issue really doesn’t matter, so long as the modern liberal can demonstrate his or her moral superiority whilst showing how all of us on the right are knuckle-dragging cretins who can’t be trusted to cross the street, much less run a country.

It's unbear-able!

Observation two: there are three sets of people involved in what should be a climate-change debate, but is in fact an environmental shoe-throwing contest. Set one is actual, accredited climatologists who understand the myriad of factors that influence climate – which, if I have to say it, include a whole lot of things beyond carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. This group includes accredited climatologists like Gavin Schmidt on what I call “the alarmist” side, and accredited climatologists like Roy Spencer on what the other side calls “the denier” side.

Alarmists like Schmidt know that folks like Spencer are every bit as qualified as they are to opine on climate change. I doubt if any serious alarmist climatologist buys what the left’s PR professionals routinely pumps out to smear “denier” climatologists: that they have sinister motives! They lie and know they lie! They are religious fanatics! They’re beholden to Big Energy!

Rather, I believe that the alarmists have fallen victim to that classic failing of academia: hubris. They have fallen in love with their hypothesis. They are so invested in it that they can’t imagine possibly turning back, much less actually doing so. They’ve chosen their hill to die on and if doing so means turning a blind eye to professional colleagues getting crapped on by media-relations types, congressional staffers, and ignorant journalists, well that’s just the price one has to pay. The end justifies the means.

Set two is slightly larger: it involves two subsets. The first is the group of people who are not expert climatologists, but who are good enough scientists to digest most – not all – of the arguments about actual science that we can find and make reasonable judgments on the worth of those arguments. That includes many chemists (including me and my two chemist brothers), physicists, statisticians, meteorologists, etc.  We’re not fluent in the climatologist’s language, but we understand enough of it to offer an educated opinion.

Unfortunately, this group also includes wanna-be second-level “experts," of whom Al Gore is the ultimate example. These are folks who pretend that they are qualified to decipher and comment on expert opinions, but who are actually about pushing the liberal agenda by using "climate change" as an excuse. When we on the right talk about liberals using "climate change" to promote socialism, this is who we mean.  They are the type of "scientists" who've been a bane on science since "consensus" demanded that ground-breaking pioneers like Archimedes, Copernicus, Galileo and Lemaître who dared to question orthodoxy be demonized. Consensus defenders are and have always been scientists so sure of their own infallibility that they can justify scorn in order to dismiss any idea that might possibly undermine their own theories.

Don't confuse me with facts.

Set three? Everybody else. The ultimate decision makers, unfortunately. When young, every generation believes that it’s discovered the mistakes their parents made. I know I did. In some cases one actually does, but in many others one finds later in life that the old-timers actually got a lot of things right. The trend right now, as I see it, is that more and more of the younger generation will chose to lock onto the fraudulent snake-oil salesmen and will tip public policy in their favor. They may eventually figure out they've been had, but by then it will be too late.

Environmental Activists Resume 'Sue-and-Settle'

As President Biden readies his breathtakingly irresponsible pledge to double the United States’ commitments  under the doomed Paris climate treaty, nineteen public interest groups have sent joint letters to Republican House and Senate leadership calling for an investigation of, and and an all-out effort to block Biden’s end-run around Congress to impose the Green New Deal through a regulatory backdoor.

The move, uncovered by chance in open records requests, contains the worst elements of Washington: bureaucrats cycling in and out of office, collusion with ideological activists and, when democracy slams the front door shut, find a backdoor “sue-and-settle” resolution.

This plan to exclude the people's voice and enable governmental overreach was developed over months between progressive state attorneys general and former career U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  attorneys and other staff now turned environmental activists.

They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.

Their proposed method to circumvent Congress gets into the weeds -- a secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- but would fundamentally transform the Clean Air Act into an unrecognizable and never intended framework for economy-wide decarbonization.

This has never been authorized by any Congress nor approved by any court. In fact, this plan came about precisely because of past legislative and judicial rejections. It was first revealed in public records obtained by Energy Policy Advocates from state AGs. Emails reflect months of scheming, which scheme quietly became public in a lawsuit filed in the D.C. Circuit federal court the day before Biden’s inauguration, State of New York et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

On Energy Policy Advocates’ behalf, I filed a proposed amicus curiae brief in that case, informing the Court of just what is transpiring here. A Wall Street Journal editorial, “Biden’s ‘Backdoor’ Climate Plan,” captured the revelations:

To sum up, Democratic AGs, green groups and a top Biden environmental regulator are colluding on a plan to impose the Green New Deal on states through a back regulatory door because they know they can’t pass it through the front in Congress.

This is because the plan is at best a futile and costly gesture -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff was overheard confessing the Green New Deal isn't even about climate. The U.S. could shut down tomorrow, and it would never control global concentrations of carbon dioxide. The EPA likely cannot even impact them. It can only impoverish its citizens and benefit countries such as India and China all for no impact on the climate --  which is supposedly the objective.

When rumors floated early in the Obama-Biden administration that a similar greenhouse gas or “climate” NAAQS was in the offing, Obama’s first EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, publicly characterized the idea as not “advisable.” One prominent environmentalist group attorney, also seeking to quell controversy over the prospect early in the Obama administration, said, “hell will freeze over before there's a NAAQS for CO2.”

Ms. Jackson merely recognized the considerable political risk. Which explains such complicated legal maneuvering to sneak an economic transformation into the regulatory shadows.

The agenda has not grown in popularity since recent attempts to impose it through the front door, in the doomed 2009 “cap and trade” legislation which members of Congress made Nancy Pelosi promise in 2019 not to revive. The same fear was shown in 2020 votes on the “Green New Deal” legislation, in which every Senate sponsor cravenly voted “present."

The regulators in the shadows...

While the lesson of these debacles is that the American people know what they do and do not want, and what they did and did not vote for, Democrats instead concluded they needed to find a back door for their agenda.

The coalition letter asks Republican leadership to exercise their legislative and oversight authorities to examine and, if possible, impede what has emerged as a back-door campaign to an unpopular, unwise energy policy. It notes:

Ultimately, this plan seeks to weaken our nation’s ability to extract, transport and use our wealth of affordable, reliable energy resources—resources which are a vital driver of human wellbeing. From electricity for our factories and hospitals to locomotion for the cars, trucks, trains, and ships that move people and goods about the planet, affordable, reliable energy enables the modern standards of wealth and health we enjoy.

President Biden ran on, yet often downplayed, a promise of imposing these same policies. He calls climate an “existential crisis.” Biden, like Congress, surely welcomes the January 19 lawsuit by political allies, sparing him the political exposure of actually proposing the regulatory assault. His new EPA chief just spent two years plotting suing this agenda into existence and now he is in position to roll over and concede it into place.

While politically clever, this betrayal would be economically disastrous. So it had to be kept secret as long as possible. Once Energy Policy Advocates’ public record requests homed in on this scheme, AG offices broadly forced the group to go to court before releasing any further details.

A dramatic reset of the American economy merits scrutiny and, importantly, public consent. It is antithetical to the American system of government to allow parties to collude behind the scenes to transform our economy. This fleeting moment of radical government cannot be allowed to condemn Americans to years of energy rationing and brakes on economic recovery that will only be reversed after needless suffering.

The Injustice of 'Environmental Justice'

At its core, my day job as an environmental consultant to industry is about helping clients safely negotiate the rocks and shoals of an ever-more complex regulatory structure. The Biden administration, along with an increasing number of blue states, are adding yet another level of needless complexity to that structure, making so-called “environmental justice” a priority.

In practice, the idea of "environmental justice" has almost nothing to do with protecting low-income and minority communities from supposed exploitation by dirty, rotten scoundrel polluters, but instead ensures economic injustice by placing roadblocks to development in areas that have a disproportionate number of historically brownfield sites.

As we dive into this issue, it’s important for the reader to understand what a brownfield site is and how it came to be. Brownfield, as opposed to greenfield, sites refer to properties that are often contaminated by pollution from historical activities that occurred prior to the modern era of environmental regulation, which began under the Nixon administration in 1970.

Time's up, racist!

Consider my childhood home as a typical example. I grew up on the far southeast side of Chicago in a neighborhood called “Hegewisch” after its founder Adolph Hegewisch, who had hoped to duplicate the George Pullman ideal of a self-sustaining industrial community via his Rolling Stock Company.

That didn’t happen, neither for Adolph (his name is sometimes given as Achilles, or even Adolfo) nor for Pullman, but what did happen is that the burgeoning steel industry that emerged shortly after the turn of the last century pumped a lot of money and jobs into the southeast side of Chicago and northwest Indiana. Steel mills popped up like mushrooms, creating good-paying, secure jobs. Immigrants flooded in to fulfill the labor demand.

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated (legally, by the by) from Poland in the 1920s, hoping to cash in on the boom, and settled in Hegewisch. The steel industry on the Southeast Side of Chicago and Northwest Indiana was eventually deemed a vital national resource during the Cold War. Nike missile batteries ringed the area in to protect the mills from Soviet bombers. As kids, we all knew the location of the nearest fallout shelter in case the Soviets tried to take out the mills with nuclear missiles.

The growth of the steel industry from c. 1920 to 1980 on the southeast side of Chicago and northwest Indiana had absolutely nothing to do with taking advantage of an otherwise disadvantaged populace and labor force. It was quite the opposite. Business was booming and everyone was welcome to contribute. My father worked in the mills all his life. I and my three brothers who variously worked in the mills or had jobs supporting the mills benefited as well.

The bottom dropped out of the Chicago-area steel industry starting around 1980. There was no single cause one could point to, but rather a combination of events. These included: the rise of big labor, management’s willful ignorance when it came to recognizing how drastically lower labor rates in the Asian countries could undercut the American steel industry, management’s unwillingness to deploy new, more efficient technologies to offset the labor rate difference, and the new environmental movement’s demands to establish standards that were far more stringent than any standards that had been previously imposed.

American steel mills lost their competitive advantage and many went out of business throughout the latter half of the 20th century. On the southeast side of Chicago and northwest Indiana the carnage wiped out names that had previously been core employers: Republic Steel, Wisconsin Steel, Interlake, U.S. Steel South Works, Youngstown Steel and many others

The timing was significant. Big steel grew in the Midwest corridor during a time when nobody paid much attention to environmental standards. It shrank during a time when environmental standards began to emerge. Thus the area was full of properties that been the home of now shut-down and abandoned steel mills that also contained levels of pollutants in the soil and groundwater that were typical of the pre-environmental regulatory era, but unacceptable in the new era. This problem did not only involve the now-dormant mills, but included the many industries that grew up during boom times to support the mills: coke plants, landfills, railyards, etc.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Hegewisch.

As the jobs left and the depression-era generation that at one time made up most of Hegewisch’s populace began to die off, the neighborhood changed over time. What had been a middle class mostly Polish neighborhood morphed into a lower class, mostly Hispanic neighborhood. The neighborhood had aged and was surrounded by abandoned brownfields sites. Property values dropped, attracting lower-income families who could not afford homes in more affluent neighborhoods.

An area is designated as an "environmental justice" zone primarily based on two characteristics: income and ethnicity. A poor neighborhood with a large minority population is the ideal EJ zone and Hegewisch, along with some surrounding neighborhoods has been so designated.

Though the EJ designation is supposed to be protective, it’s actually quite damaging. The theory is that dirty rotten polluters would try to take advantage of vulnerable neighborhoods but for the EJ zone protection. The reality is that we live in an era of the most stringent environmental standards in the history of the industrial era. No facility being built in America today has anything near the potential to generate pollution or affect public health the way that the old rust belt plants built in the first part of the 20th century had.

So what an EJ zone does, in effect, is to serve as a red flag to anyone thinking of developing a new job-creating facility in or near such a neighborhood. Building in an EJ zone means jumping through many more regulatory hoops, risking being vilified by ignorant journalists and self-interested environmental NGOs. No one in my business, whose job it is to look out after our client’s best interests, would ever advise some one to develop a new project in an EJ zone.

Dirty rotten scoundrels polluting the Calumet River in Hegewisch.

Before leaving this story, let’s step back into my old neighborhood of Hegewisch. A metal recycling facility operated by General Iron received a permit to build a state-of-the-art plant in one of the old industrial parts of Hegewisch.

There are more than 300 metals-recycling plants, sometimes called “auto shredders,” across the United States. They are by far the most important and most economic form of recycling in the country. According to the Department of Commerce, the industry ranks 16th in terms of revenue nationally. More steel is now recovered through recycling in America than is produced in the blast furnaces at traditional steel mills, and the air pollution generated by recyclers is a tiny of fraction of what traditional integrated steel mills generate on a per ton of steel produced basis.

Add to this that, General Iron (not my client, if you’re wondering) permitted the plant with state of the art pollution controls, equipment most similar plants do not have. And, in addition to the jobs the facility would directly create, it would also create related jobs among the truckers, maintenance contractors and other services necessary to keep the plant going. All good stuff, right?

No. Not according to the mainstream media and environmental NGOs who have made the most outrageous claims about the danger the facility supposedly represents to my old neighborhood. Trusting those frauds and not really understanding the issues, some citizens banded together to form groups whose sole goal is to prevent the multi-million-dollar facility from opening. Some have even gone on hunger strikes.

It’s madness, but it’s the sort of madness that grows out of the noble-sounding, but utterly damaging concept of environmental justice. The next time a client asks me about building in an EJ area, I’ll have to point them no further than the General Iron fiasco to demonstrate how big a mistake that can be.

What Price 'Infrastructure'?

It seems like just yesterday then-President Obama put Joe Biden in charge of that “three-letter word: J.O.B.S.,” and while he failed in that mission, as president he’s back at it, this time with incoherent strategies and massive graft opportunities for all his Democrat constituencies.

The proposed $2 trillion giveaway, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, only thinly disguises the graft-enabling nature of the proposal. And the means to pay for this giveaway -- higher taxes on persons, investments and businesses -- are more likely to destroy the economy, most particularly regarding small businesses, long the generator of jobs in this country, than the expenditures proposed for actual infrastructure are to increase job opportunities and prime the economy already reeling from the Covid lockdowns.

But let me begin with the most ludicrous of Biden’s ideas, supersonic jets and a national high speed railroad, something not specified in the Plan, but Buck Rogers-ish notions he keeps talking about nevertheless, perhaps under the misguided notion that these are in the Plan. Perhaps even to deflect from what is in it.

Biden claims, “If we decide to do it, be able to traverse the world in an hour, travel at 21,000 miles an hours.” Earth’s circumference is slightly short of 25,000 miles. To circumnavigate it these imaginary planes would have to fly 25,000 miles per hour, coincidentally the escape velocity of the earth. The last supersonic jets were the Concorde fleet which took 3 1/2 hours to fly from New York to Paris to London, so noisy and at an operating cost so high that these factors  caused its demise in little over two decades.

Of course, it would be interesting to see how supersonic jets could, in any event, function without Biden’s hated fossil fuels. Maybe some sharp engineers can rig up solar panels and windmills on them without jeopardizing reliability or reducing air speed.

All aboard the Shanghai maglev express!

Equally unrealistic is his advocacy for a cross-continental high speed railway, something once bandied about, then scrapped for decades. To my knowledge, the fastest trains operating today still move at less than conventional air speed: “ Shanghai Maglev has the highest run speed of 431 kph for an operational train covering a 30.5 km distance in 7 mins 20 secs.” Japan’s L0 Series Maglev due to be operational in 2027 will travel at 310 miles per hour, slightly less than half the speed (about 570 mph)of a Boeing 747.

It’s almost 3,000 miles from New York City to Los Angeles. To be of any value, any cross-national high-speed train will have to connect major urban areas, and the difficulty of obtaining the right of ways through already well-developed tracts in a country with so many litigation opportunities available to opponents seems as difficult as getting high-speed trains operating on such varied topography and wind speeds as a national railway would encounter.

Even without the delays and legal costs to obtain rights of way, the last estimate I saw for construction of high-speed rails was $60 million per mile. The Chinese have fewer property rights they can defend in court, and Shanghai’s 30 km Maglev line cost 1.2 billion to build. This, of course, doesn’t cover recurring capital costs --Shanghai’s train is losing about $33 million per year on those. Given the way Amtrak is run (it manages to lose money even on $9.50 cheeseburgers, we can expect to lose far more on our national railroad.

But the final kicker, it seems to me, is that like the push for all-electric vehicles, Maglev high speed trains require a great deal of electricity (between 1 and 3 kilowatts per ton ), but nothing in any of the administration’s grand plans includes increasing electric-power generation. If it did, fossil fuels would still be needed to create the electricity unless the administration has some super-secret plan to create much more nuclear energy generation. Do you see that on the horizon? I don’t. And there's not a whisper of it.

Just as fantastical as Biden’s wish list for things not in the Plan, are the items in it. This is how the Democrats who like this infrastructure bonanza define “infrastructure":

Translation: It’s everything they want to use tax revenues to pay for. Like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, the Democrats seem to think ,”when I choose a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

In the real world, however, infrastructure is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.”

In real infrastructure terms only 5 percent of the  $2.7 trillion  would go for roads and bridges. More than half the plan is designed to eliminate fossil fuels. $213 billion would go to build and retrofit energy-efficient homes and buildings. Elsewhere, retrofit investment costs came to almost twice the actual energy savings with an average return of minus-7.8% annually. The plan calls for $85 billion for regional mass transit, just as mass transit ridership is collapsing because Covid-19 has warned people of the dangers of it.

Of course there is no mention of continuing high capital costs, safety concerns and the demonstrably poor management of such systems. In Washington, D.C., we had a multi-billion dollar federally financed mass transit system which has been so poorly managed it has become unreliable and dangerous to passengers. People in ever larger numbers are refusing to ride it. To lure riders back, the management is now offering lower fares, further increasing the operating deficits which were already high. It’s estimated that by 2025 the revenue shortfall over expenses for this single system is expected to be some $2 billion. Taxpayers, of course, will be making up the difference.

Moral: you can build these things at great expense but you can’t make us ride them. And you can’t ignore the fiscally painful experience that huge continuing capital outlays will be needed to keep them afloat.

The D.C. Metro: if only it worked like it looks.

As the Administration works to banish fossil fuels, which presently make up more than half of American electric generation, Biden works to boost the wind and solar industries and is making the power grid less reliable in the process. His idea of providing tax credits for battery storage and high-voltage transmission lines to places now reliant on fossil fuels, is equally unrealistic.

I've already discussed here the plans to pay states, cities and schools to buy electric vehicles and build 500,000 charging stations, and how ludicrous this is without a plan to increase electric generation. Biden plans to shell out $178 billion in grants to create these charging stations along the 50,000 miles of interstate highways and thousands of other major highways. How to decide who gets those grants and where the charging stations will be built? If you live in a Democrat-run city you can figure this out. If not, ask a savvy friend who lives in one.

Less remarked upon are the tranches of cash for things no one would actually consider infrastructure:   building and upgrading schools and child-care facilities and extending broadband service to all Americans.

The plan to spend $100 billion on K-12 facilities includes $50 billion in direct grants for facilities and $50 billion in construction bonds. Another $45 billion in Environmental Protection Agency funds would be used to reduce lead exposure in schools and early-childhood facilities. In addition to expanding broadband, Biden’s plan would seek to lower the cost of internet service.

Also not well-publicized is the plan to kill the suburbs, a refuge for middle class Americans from crime, bad schools and high taxes -- this would be done not only by making transportation by cars more expensive, but also by “diversifying” neighborhoods through forced changes to local zoning laws that would end single-family-home neighborhoods. Placing low-income, multiple-unit rental housing in single-family suburbs, something that overturns the long established right of municipalities to create their own zoning preferences, will likely face a mountain of legal challenges.

Meanwhile, zoning is now racist.

The Plan, is manifestly unrealistic and expensive. Will it create the 19 million new jobs the administration claims? No way. Moody’s chief economist estimates that the plan will net only 2.7 million new jobs, 600 percent smaller than Biden's claim. To however many jobs are created by building charging stations and upgrading nursery schools to be more energy efficient, subtract the large number of jobs lost in the fossil fuel and carbon-intensive industries.

But they even have a plan for that: some $40 billion is to be allocated for a "dislocated workers" program and $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps. How wonderful will it be for oil rig workers and coal miners to learn to code from Democratic functionaries or to have your homes and schools retrofitted by people who've never done this work before and are unlikely to have the skills to do it properly?

In sum, the plan is built on fantastical notions respecting transportation choices, is littered with graft opportunities and means to pay off supporters without doing much to improve actual infrastructure, transportation, energy use or that “three-letter word, J.O.B.S." -- which in Biden's mouth now really does seem like a four-letter word.

The Democrats are attempting to ram through an expensive, job killing, neighborhood destroying, pelf-increasing, waste of money. In Congress, they have the slimmest of majorities. At the moment they hold the House by only six votes (218-212) and the Senate is 50-50. One can only hope the Republicans will stand firm and that enough Democrats will see that their political survival depends on their joining the opposition to kill this monstrosity.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Entertaining

I called Daddy to discuss a few details of my upcoming party but to no avail. It goes without saying that Judith (mummy) is more the person to consult when it comes to parties but this is meant to promote both my newly expanded life coaching business, and to incorporate my love for the planet.

I’m not mocking those who push to ‘do what you love’… but taken literally… my job would be reviewing posh resorts and spas. Practically speaking though, the planet does matter to me, and I’ve taken up the Great Reset Agenda in tandem with furthering my work. Some of which was Daddy’s idea… unfortunately Judith answered.

‘Yes, I’m still in the Bahamas… yes, all going swimmingly… (OMG!) YES I’m wearing sunscreen… is Daddy there?’ (as if I’m twelve). ‘Yes, I’m working, loads of clients on the horizon… is Daddy… no not technically on the horizon, some are actual clients, I just need to ask him some questions about a party… a BUSINESS party.’ 

Always be closing.

Then she went on about invitations, and how themes generally fall flat before eventually telling me that Daddy was out.

‘Out? How can he be out? You’re in the country.' I insisted.

‘I think he’s gone duck hunting,' she said, in an uncharacteristically high voice.

‘In spring?? Unlikely. This wasn’t going well. I checked my watch for no reason and asked, ‘Can you just have him… NO, MOTHER I’m fine… I just…’ Oh my double god! ‘Can you please just… thank you. Goodbye.’

Truth was, it had been Daddy’s suggestion that I do some real promotion while I’m here amongst the leisure working class, and that I get a jump on the Great Reset folks, why wait for the WEF to dictate a timeline. He’s suggested instead of just posting videos and admonishing like they do… that I really implement. So I’m doing cocktails for a hundred and serving the most sustainable options: Cocktails that come packaged in barrel pouches, paper straws, eco-friendly everything, cheeses from farms that convert buffalo waste into clean energy, and of course bugs—the greenest of all proteins.

I just wanted to ask if he really was in favour of serving bugs… I certainly didn’t see anyone serving them in Davos and the idea made me shiver but I thought… maybe he’s right and I needed to really dig in, but every choice created a dilemma.

Tastes like yakitori!

For instance the cocktails in recyclable barrel pouches… forget that they would have to be shipped here especially, but unless I made a big deal about it, I mean really point it out… who would know? I run the risk of virtue signaling, which is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do.

It was a dilemma until I realised this crowd wasn’t going to want anything other than known commodities anyway (Veuve, Monkey 47, French reds…) If I were going to introduce the eco packaging, I’d have to just send everyone home with a sample of the pouch cocktails, which again they’ll likely never drink so… hmm.

I called the third sustainable cheese farm on my list and was told, "People don't think a lot about poop when they think about sustainable cheesemaking, but they really should.” And I knew I’d reached the right place. But best keep that slogan off a cocktail napkin though.

I was going to need backup, so I flew in an assistant I’d used in the past. Straws, too, were creating a huge dilemma as everyone knows the paper ones just don’t work. I’d personally had good luck with pasta straws but they weren’t gluten-free.

Meanwhile my assistant had been making a mood board on whose authority I didn’t quite grasp, but which she says is ‘essential to really nail down the concept’. Ugh! She had researched “everything from movies, to fashion, to art”, and after half a day spent, it looked like a party in which I was marrying myself.

‘GREAT RESET!’ I yelled at the top of my lungs before realising I sounded like I needed a Xanax.

But Xanax I did need when I found out that the much-touted bug supplier…for all their preening and wailing, actually didn’t have any bugs at all! None I could serve anyway. Their “current line” catered only to agricultural needs (fertiliser) and pets. PETS?? Now I really wished I’d saved my scream.

How dared they go on chastising the rest of us, bragging about a higher protein source and more sustainable and no greenhouse gases and getting the rubber stamp of the WEF! Little creatures, big change my ass! I was livid. Twenty years ago Harrods had sold chocolate-covered ants which were considered a novelty but it actually existed. I wanted this bug supplier kicked out of the World Economic Forum and beaten with sticks.

The Chinese just love scorpions-kebab!

Just then Daddy rang and I had all I could do to not start crying. He listened and then said, ‘So if I understand the problem… your eco-food isn’t fit for human consumption… do I have it right?’

I was too pathetic for words. He had it right, which momentarily made me laugh, and then I did start sobbing. He just let me go on and on while he googled and found a solution.

‘It’s going to sting a little…’ He began… ‘but if you agree to overnight delivery there’s a company out of Thailand that sells cooked and dehydrated bugs—seasoned with salt! It says right here, edible grasshoppers, crickets, silk worms and sago worms’.

I was silent. ‘I thought for sure I had you with sago worms.’ He added, trying to cheer me up. Just then the idea that I truly was serving bugs hit me and I started to vomit. I thanked him and rang off.

After sorting myself out, I returned to find my assistant on the phone chatting up a DJ. Maybe. It was hard to tell with all the ‘totally’ and ‘kif-kif’ going on. It was then that I decided SHE ALONE could be on bug detail and I explained to her just how important this particular component was, and that she should create an ICP (ideal customer profile). Listen, I had just learned the term myself but I needed her to take this seriously.

It was party time and while I thought it would be the men clamouring to crunch down on one of these edibles, it was the women, who somehow conflated high protein with lean, and saw these critters as the fast-track to a flat stomach. I had to keep drinking because every time I thought about crispy cricket legs breaking away from a body and being pressed back by someone’s tongue I started to hurl. I couldn’t even face my guests. Had I seen any food stuck in anyone’s teeth I’d have lost it.

It was indeed too soon to leave my own party, but a hangover couldn’t come soon enough.

Green Energy v. Unions, Part Deux

Just a quick follow-up to Michael Walsh's post the other day about the tension between Joe Biden's pro-union rhetoric and the reality of his administration's green energy agenda. The New York Times (of all places) has an article which backs up his point with some pretty shocking numbers:

Accelerating the shift to wind and solar power is likely to create tens of thousands of construction jobs.... But those jobs typically pay far less than those in the fossil fuel industry... [A] standard solar project [employs] about 250 workers for just under a year. About one-third of the workers make $30 an hour or more; the other two-thirds have fewer skills and make hourly wages of less than $20. By contrast, the construction of a gas-powered electricity plant typically lasts two to three years and employs hundreds of skilled, unionized tradesmen — electricians, pipe-fitters and boilermakers — who make $75,000 a year or more, including benefits....

“When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions... “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.” Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, said that it typically takes hundreds of workers to operate and maintain a nuclear or coal plant, several dozen at a gas plant — and about a dozen at a wind farm. Solar fields can often operate without a single worker on-site.

Is it any wonder that the Democrats -- with their increasingly radical cultural, economic, and environmental priorities -- have been bleeding private sector union support for years?

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Hardworking

Happy Easter from the Bahamas where I’m still working very hard. Not everyone who left the pandemic to take advantage of the Bahamas pro-business work environment is really all that focused on work—but I certainly am. I’ve made the determination about others based on the fact that they are having breakfast at 11—about the time I’m finishing up. 

Thanks to Instagram I’ve found out I have several more friends visiting here than I’d ever dreamed possible, and they are mad-posting and hashtagging.  All day long it’s ding-ding—#lyford #albanyyacht #catcayyacht #eleuthra… ding, #pandemic ding-ding.

In the interest of work, (and despite looking so tanned and rested), I’ve decided not to post until I have at least three new clients. Or maybe one really juicy new client.  My focus, since I now have time to focus, is going to be to search out only the clients whose sensibilities are most closely aligned with mine. 

All work and no play, that's productivity.

Daddy said if I made self-sufficiency my priority I’d find I’m aligned with a great many but I know he’s just being daddy. It’s easy for him to say… I think engineering focuses one’s thinking in such a way that you are really too science-minded to think about meaningful change. 

Earlier in the week I had a little hiccup… with such an influx of visitors and corresponding drain on the internet, I wasn’t getting my emails. Especially in the late afternoons when kids who should be swimming or in school are mad-gaming. The internet provider suggested I opt-out of using Wi-Fi and hard-wire my computer to the router— and which is so like a service provider to just make up some excuse as to why you can’t have what you clearly understood you were paying for. Plus it defeats the whole purpose of coming here to work. Luckily the yacht clubs are selling international hotspots so I can now work from wherever is most conducive to my productivity.

I had received a query from a global environmental movement that had “nearly” one hundred academics enrolled in fighting global warming. My first thought was how near to one hundred are you? Near enough to just recruit a couple more to make it an even hundred?  Which would have been my suggestion to them once we started working together. Further details explained that they “hoped” to rally worldwide support. Again…can you really not assert (with confidence) something so vague as “worldwide support”? They were going to need every bit of help they could get. 

I was however impressed with their aim to using “nonviolent civil disobedience” to achieve their goals. But on second thought, the word “aim” scared me. And after some research it seemed aim was indeed the right word, as they’d blockaded five bridges in London as a protest. Technically this qualified as non-violent but it had the makings of a wholly man-made disaster. 

Just now I was missing my rather bad-tempered client who’d made a killing in the cosmetic device industry, and whose presentation for the Audubon Society I’d painstakingly crafted just prior to being sacked.  

Nonviolence was definitely the way to go, but try telling that to Greenpeace who’d made a name by insinuating themselves between a Russian whaler and a whale just in time to witness and film the gruesome death of said whale and sell the footage to the news media. In years to come Greenpeace would continue to sell their goodness until they became a $336 million a year multinational behemoth. Some questioned the integrity of these donations when China’s abysmal environmental record dropped off of Greenpeace’s radar. 

As an avid environmentalist I have to care that we don’t look or act crazy, and in this way we can achieve greater results not to mention greater trust from the public. In the end what saved the whales from extinction was greed. With ever increasing demand for whale oil, man looked for alternatives and soon after creating petroleum, production from one petroleum well outpaced what a whaling expedition could garner in four years. This is of course all stuff I learned as a kid, but now as an adult I continue fighting both the evil destroyers of our planet and the movements that delegitimise those of us who are doing truly good work.  

I was feeling rather down that this briefly promising client had evaporated as quickly as they’d arrived so I rang my father in London to see if he had any ideas. He nudged me again toward the grub worm food factory he had suggested last week but even he knew I wasn’t having it.  And then he dropped the bomb saying, 

“Some of your friends had a good go of it on Thursday.” 

My friends?” I asked, not knowing what he was referring to. 

“Spraying fake oil on the Bank of England to win friends and influence enemies,” he said. 

Ah, environment nutters, he meant. “Friends” was his loving jibe. 

“Fake oil?” I asked.

“Pond scum if you must know. Pond scum and guar gum is what they used. Pity none of the news media seized on that…I thought Pond Scum Protestors had a nice ring to it.”  

April Fools, protecting the planet. (Sky News)

What could I say? These were my people in a fashion, and they were dragging us all down.

“Listen…” he continued, I’ve got to run but let me send you the link, they sure need help.” He was nearly chortling before saying goodbye. 

It was both embarrassing and tragic. After pond-scumming the bank, they’d gone on to demand the Bank of England “make banks integrate climate risks."

Firstly I don’t think they meant to say "integrate risks" and second, asking banks to regulate themselves, is, I am sure, also not what they meant but something banks would be all too-willing to agree to do. 

Oh, and they were dressed like jesters. Actual jesters. If the visual was not bad enough, the historical association was that of fools, who existed to entertain the Crown.  

Ding-ding. Instagram calling.