'Green' Monomaniacs in Pursuit of the Unattainable

With a nod to Jane Austen, it’s a truth which should be universally acknowledged that a country dependent on renewable energy must be in want of 100 percent backup power. No, not 50 percent nor even 95 percent. When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, we get a zero-power flow. Sadly, what should be universally acknowledged is studiously spurned by Climateers.

In my previous Pipeline post, I reported that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), responsible for keeping the lights on, had capped the price of natural gas; it had spiked up to 800 times its former level at the end of May. In turn, this led some generators, squeezed between fuel costs and the cap, to withdraw supply. Who would have guessed? Maybe only those with an inkling of insight into the difficulties of turning a profit when costs exceed revenue. Alas, American president Joe Biden isn't one of them:

Here in Australia, politicians fiddled, AEMO temporarily suspended the market for wholesale electricity and ordered generators to supply power at a fixed price. Governments finally woke up. Without shame, federal and state governments called for more coal and gas to be brought online. The very same governments which demonise coal and assiduously prevent natural-gas projects from getting up.  For example, a large coal-seam gas project in Narrabri in New South Wales is now fourteen years in the making. Still no final approval. Victoria has a complete ban on onshore drilling, whether conventional or fracking. Crazy doesn’t describe it.

Lincoln Steffens: the future didn't work.

Meanwhile, circa mid-June, the lights were on the point of going out in Australia's most populated states; in NSW, Victoria, and in Queensland. Politicians lived up to our meagre expectations. A sample to savour: the federal minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen asked people to switch off unnecessary appliances. NSW’s green-tragic treasurer Matt Keane ordered Sydney hospital staff to conserve power in non-clinical settings. He further suggested that if people must run dishwashers they should do so late at night. This is not a spoof. To constructively misquote Lincoln Steffens, we Sydneysiders have glimpsed the future and it ain’t gonna work.

But despair not, the new Labor government under Anthony Albanese has a multifaceted plan called Powering Australia. Under the plan, greenhouse gas emissions will fall by 43 percent (on 2005 levels) by 2030. And, by same year, the share of renewables generating electricity will be 82 percent; from 27 percent (including hydro) in 2020-21. To boot, electricity prices for families and small businesses will fall. Really? Yes, by $275 per annum by 2025. That’s not all. Many jobs will be created; 604,000, in fact. Lots of precision in these numbers, you’ll notice. Forget the shambles of the past month or so. A non-transcendental energy miracle of precise proportions is in store for us Aussies.

How will the miracle be performed? That’s too complex for any mere mortal, such as me, to put into a definitive account. There are many verbose and opaque documents to peruse from AEMO and the Energy Security Board (ESB). If you want more, try other authorities like the Clean Energy Regulator, the Clean Energy Financial Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, the Australian Energy Regulator, and the Australian Energy Market Commission. And that’s just on a federal level. Umpteen state bodies to choose from too. They all tend to talk of pumped hydro, green hydrogen, as yet undiscovered technologies, sucking up unused power from electric cars and home batteries, banks of commercial super batteries and, of course, many more onshore and offshore wind turbines, plus solar panels galore, all housed in numbers of “REZs” (renewable energy zones).

The federal government also intends spending $20 billion to construct 10,000 kilometres of transmission lines to connect all far-flung wind and solar farms to the grid. And to think, it used to be just cheap coal power running the whole caboodle. Be glad those primitive bad old days are behind us.

A truth universally acknowledged?

Two mechanisms are to be bought into play to help achieve the miracle. Neither mechanism has yet been fleshed out. There’s the rub. Both will need the wisdom of Solomon to be gotten even halfway right.

In the meantime, fun to be had seeing greenies squirm as they contemplate coal and gas power stations being paid for standing idle. Sometimes cognitive dissonance results. Bear in mind, the need for the capacity mechanism is driven by the intermittency of renewable energy against the backdrop of the continuing forced closures of coal-power stations. Yet, bizarrely, the Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio wants fossil fuels excluded from the mechanism; and she is by no means alone among the green zealotry.

We have always been clear that a capacity market operating in Victoria would make payments to zero-emissions technologies and not fossil fuels.

Can’t fathom how that makes any sense? Paging Jane Austen, who knows a universally acknowledge truth when she hears one. But that might tax even her dramatic powers of explanation.

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!

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.   

Biden's Bottomless Energy Foolishness

President Joe Biden followed up his War on Energy—which began the day he took office with his abrupt and malicious cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline— with a direct threat wrapped in the flag on Wednesday, demanding in a letter to oil industry CEOs that they increase production while complaining about their profit margins: “There is no question Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing. But at a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto Americans are unacceptable.”

His verbally-challenged press spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre followed up with a vague threats that Biden might invoke the Defense Production Act or some other executive powers if the oil industry doesn’t “voluntarily” comply. The fate of President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry in 1952 (declared unconstitutional by a pro-New Deal Supreme Court) must have fallen out of the Biden White House history books, along with any reference works on economic literacy. The facts are these:

It is impossible to exaggerate the ignorance and hubris—and greed—of the Biden leftists about energy. The Financial Times reported a startling detail a few days ago: “When the White House started calling around in a panic, they thought shale oil production could grow sharply in the near term — like in a matter of months or quarters,” said Bob McNally, head of consultancy Rapidan Energy. “They were shocked to learn that that’s like asking for blood from a stone. It’s almost impossible.”

But it's easy to be shocked when you’ve lost your grip on reality. A CEO of a major American transportation company who agreed to serve on Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness back in 2011 once privately told me that he asked Obama why we didn’t encourage more domestic production of oil and natural gas. Obama’s answer stunned him: “Stephen Chu [the Nobel Prize-winning Secretary of Energy] tells me we’ll be well on our way to a transition to renewable energy by 2016, so we don’t need more oil and gas.”

"I did that!"

President Biden seems even more self-deluded about oil and gas than Obama, peddling the same dreamy nonsense about energy. Last month Biden said that high gasoline prices were part of the “incredible transition” toward a world of “renewable” energy that won’t need fossil fuels. But the inexorable rise of gasoline prices has set off political alarms in the White House, prompting the administration to try to make nice with domestic oil and gas—and even with the Saudis, otherwise a pariah state for this administration—in hopes they will increase oil production and relieve Biden’s political gas pains.

But Biden’s grasp of the oil and gas industry is as simplistic and confused as every other aspect of his doddering administration. Having demonized the oil and gas industry as required by environmentalist orthodoxy, Biden now thinks he can get the industry to bail him out of his self-induced political and economic crisis.

There are two primary reasons why domestic oil and gas can’t be turned on or off like a water faucet in your kitchen. The first is long-wave oil market cycles. The second is political and regulatory risk. The oil and gas industry has at length figured out how to adapt to the first problem. The second problem—political and regulatory risk—is out of their hands, and is the one thing Biden and his gang refuse to acknowledge or consider changing.

There’s an old adage that the solution to high oil prices is high oil prices (and vice versa), and ever since the first oil shocks of the 1970s we’ve seen several epicycles of world oil markets in which the price soars, slowly collapses, and then slowly soars again, drawing oil entrepreneurs into the market with some inevitable bankruptcies among the weaker firms later on. We saw this cycle with a vengeance over the last decade, as rising oil prices in the “oughts” (2000-2009 or so) combined with technology leaps to produce America’s wonderful domestic oil and gas boom.

Opening new or expanding existing resources requires considerable up-front capital investment. Both the industry and its investors have become more disciplined over the last decade to avoid the boom-and-bust cycle, and it is now largely oriented to developing oil and gas assets that can remain profitable at any reasonable price point in a typical epicycle, instead of chasing after large profits during price spikes.

A bigger problem for the industry is political risk. After years of open hostility to the industry from Democrats, why would the industry now put its neck on the line to rush new production when it is certain that Democrats will resume their old hostility to the industry once prices and profits start to come back down? In the 2020 campaign Biden said he’d halt further oil and gas production on public land, while encouraging Wall Street to cut off capital to the industry. He’s more than made good on that promise—until just the last few weeks—and the increasingly woke capitalists on Wall Street were happy to go along. (In a nod to reality, several of the big Wall Street banks have recently reversed their position and say they will now provide financing for fossil fuel companies.)

If Biden wanted to secure a robust and consistent supply of domestic hydrocarbons that his own Energy Department says we will need to use for decades to come, he’d call off the left’s political war on the sector. But fossil fuels are the primary Emmanuel Goldstein of the left, a main target of their daily two minutes of hate.

Beneath these endless confusions and contradictions is the cognitive dissonance of Biden’s variety of leftism. Over the years the left has considered high gasoline prices the acme of enlightenment, because it would force people to switch to “renewable” energy and electric cars. A whole volume of the Encyclopedia of Leftist Errors could be filled with statements of envy over Europe’s tax-driven high fuel prices, along with the open wish that we should follow their example. The aforementioned Stephen Chu said during the Obama years, “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

And yet when market conditions deliver price spikes, as happens on a regular basis, Democrats explode: Price gouging! Collusion! Greedy oil companies! We must investigate! Every government investigation of high gas prices since the 1970s has failed to find any evidence of price fixing or collusion in the oil industry, because there isn’t any. The lesson here is plain: for the left, high gasoline prices are only good when it comes about through a government tax rather than market forces. Actually the U.S. government already makes more on each gallon of gas than oil companies and refiners do, but you never hear that inconvenient fact reported, because apparently the government can never be “greedy.”

The dramatic revolution in domestic oil and gas production that began about 15 years ago falsified two of liberalism’s most persistent clichés—that we had reached “peak oil,” and that the U.S. couldn’t “drill our way” to energy independence. One politician who quietly figured this out a decade ago was Barack Obama. By degrees during his second term, Obama started endorsing an “all of the above” energy policy, which represented a de facto truce with domestic oil and gas. It is telling that Biden can’t even bring himself to say “all of the above,” and this silence is all the industry needs to know as it weighs the enduring problem of political risk so long as the left is in power.

Into ze Future mit Stakeholder Capitalism

I thought of the song “Tomorrow belongs to me” from the movie Cabaret when listening to Klaus Schwab’s opening remarks at last month’s extravaganza in Davos. His pronunciation of ‘the’ as ze (according to my inexpert Standard English phonetic rendering) adds to the perturbing Teutonic effect. Be perturbed.

Ze future is not just happening. Ze future is built by us. By a powerful community, as you here in this room. We have the means to improve the state of the world.

He must have seen the movie. Subliminally, the unsettling phraseology pops out. Mind you, don’t discount the possibility that he’s deliberately messing with our minds. If so, it worked on me.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, got a spot at Davos. Didn’t recollect that we had an eSafety Commissioner, though she’s been in the job since January 2017. Maybe most countries have something similar these days? Fine, if they are employed to track and counter child sexual exploitation. But, of course, Parkinson’s Law prevails as does its counterpart, mission creep. A new Act (2021) gives Ms Grant extended powers to regulate online content. Has this gone to her head like bubbles in a glass of champagne? Apparently. There she is at Davos telling the assembled VIPs that we need a “recalibration” of free speech.

Here's something else. In 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF), together with Apolitical, a global organisation of government bureaucrats, whose mission is to “help build 21st century governments that work for people and the planet,” appointed Ms Grant as one of the, so-termed, #Agile50. To wit, “one of the most influential leaders revolutionising government.” Who knew?

I dare say Nina Jankowicz would have been in line for a similar honorific; if only the Disinformation Governance Board had not been wantonly sabotaged, so it's sadly said, by disinformation. Anyway, it’s all too much for me to take in. The future obviously doesn’t belong to me.

What is the future? A good question to which I seek answers from the revised Davos manifesto issued in 2020. And, for historical perspective and to get a sense of the trajectory of the WEF's "Great Reset" agenda, I compare this with the first manifesto; issued in 1973, only two years or so after the WEF was established in January 1971. The 2020 manifesto declaims on the purpose of a company in the so-called fourth industrial revolution; the 1973 manifesto, on a code of ethics for business leaders. They are similar yet subtly, and not so subtly, different. Evolution has occurred.

“Professional management” charged with serving the interests of “stakeholders” in the first manifesto, morphs into the “company” in the second. This is not incidental. Companies encompass boards and large influential institutional investors as well as professional managers. All must be engaged in order to change the nature of capitalism and the world. And it’s working. It’s hard to find a company board or large institutional investor these days which hasn’t adopted ESG as its Holy Writ. Management eagerly complies with the expensive help of supremely woke major consulting firms.

AGL, Australia’s largest electricity supplier, had planned to split out its coal-power business. Along comes large shareholder, and green enthusiast, billionaire Mike Cannon Brookes, with institutional investors in his wake. A coal business on its own might not be eager to self-destruct. Won’t do. The split is derailed. Welcome to the world of the second manifesto.

To be clear, the manifestos are not all bad. Both emphasise the need for companies to earn sufficient profits, act ethically and pay their taxes. Ho-hum. Also, it’s unexceptional, on its face, for businesses which want to thrive to pay heed to the interests of their stakeholders. Small businesses know this instinctively. Customers matter, as do employees. As does the environment within which they operate. Being antisocial by throwing garbage into the street or local river might not be conducive to long-term success. Thus, you might query, why does the WEF make so much of stakeholder capitalism?

Two points. First, the focus is on companies rather than on businesses more generally. It’s all about the big guys. As Herr Schwab says, it’s about the “powerful community,” executing an agenda determined by, wouldn’t you know, the powerful community. It’s not immediately clear that this kind of stakeholder capitalism goes to the interests of small business or, say, those coal miners living in Poland or West Virginia. who find themselves unable to learn computer programming. Ah well, one can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Second, is the sheer reach of Schwab’s stakeholder capitalism. In the first manifesto this is described as management assuming “the role of a trustee of the material universe for future generations.” Can’t see Con the fruiterer in the corner shop embracing that concept very easily. The second manifesto goes further in asserting that a company “acts as a steward of the environment [as well as] the material universe for future generations [and that it] consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy.”

Instructive too in the second manifesto, missing in the first, is the reference to multinationals. A multinational company, it says, “acts itself as a stakeholder—together with governments and civil society—of our global future.” And in case you think such a company might simply make, say, cars for profit, it’s required as being part of “corporate global citizenship [to collaborate] with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

As I’ve noted, serving stakeholders has always been part of capitalism. The leap in the first manifesto is to focus particularly on professional managers and to enjoin them in protecting the material universe. Where that starts and stops is anybody’s guess. The leap in the second is to broaden the focus to companies—and big ones to boot—and to enjoin them collectively as global citizens in protecting the biosphere; and, back to Schwab’s opening remarks at Davos, in improving the state of the world.

Improving the state of the world is like a team aiming to win a cup final. It comes from having the right systems in place. That doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s an essential prerequisite. The system of free-market capitalism has put trophies galore in the display cabinet. Got that perfect feeling that a rewarding future won’t stem from Schwab’s souped-up version of stakeholder capitalism, orchestrated by a global elite?  A miserable future? It’s happening. Covid diktats, soaring energy prices, power rationing, ESG, CRT, DEI; throw in rainbow flags, transgenderism, puberty blockers, regularising drug use, etc. Foretastes one and all. Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome.

Killer Carbon, Poisonous Humans

Environmentalism is, at heart, an anti-human movement. Its adherents do their best to hide this fact, but if you listen to them long enough, you can't help but discover it. Take, for instance, this New York Times article entitled, "Carbon Dioxide Levels Are Highest in Human History," which reports on the "relentless climb" of CO2 levels in the atmosphere, culminating last month in a new record for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They report that in 2021, 36.3 billion tons of carbon were released into the atmosphere, "the highest level in history."

What is to blame for this? "Power plants, vehicles, farms and other sources around the world continu[ing] to pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." So, us. Powering and heating our homes, driving our cars, producing food to nourish us and our families. Which is to say, we are the ones at fault, just for living. The author goes on to assert the following:

As the amount of carbon dioxide increases, the planet keeps warming, with effects like increased flooding, more extreme heat, drought and worsening wildfires that are already being experienced by millions of people worldwide. Average global temperatures are now about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than in preindustrial times.

Nearly every statement in this paragraph is either false or hotly contested, and by authoritative sources.

For the claim of "increased flooding," even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose every document is held up as a sacred text by environmentalists, has said it has “low confidence in the human influence on the changes in high river flows on the global scale.” And Bjorn Lomborg has explained how arguments on this topic tend to rely on the increase in dollars worth of damage done by floods each year, which "say more about U.S. economic growth than they do about climate change." In fact, deaths from flooding and damage from flooding (measured as a percentage of G.D.P.) have both decreased significantly in the past century.

Save us from ourselves, Mother Gaia.

Similarly, Michael Shellenberger has demonstrated both that "worsening wildfires" are not a new phenomenon -- they were common in the 18th and 19th centuries -- and that, so far from their being the result of climate change, anti-climate change policies have made them worse. Even the idea that carbon dioxide is a major driver of temperature increases has been called into question, as has the idea that a 2 degree rise over preindustrial temperatures is particularly uncommon in human history. It is worth noting that these polemics never mention the Roman or Medieval Warming periods, times which produced tremendous civilizational flourishing.

Nor do they mention the beneficial aspects of carbon dioxide, including that recent decades have produced record crop yields worldwide, and that the kinds of emissions cuts envisioned by environmentalists would lead to widespread hunger among the world's poor. But none of this matters to them -- they believe that Mother Gaia is under attack, and they need to take out the aggressor. That is, us.

The NYT piece gives the game away when it discusses the need for the planet to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. This will require, it tells us, "sharp cuts" in emissions, which might slow the "rate of increase in carbon dioxide levels." Even better, "If emissions were completely eliminated," the curve would flatten (where have we heard that phrase before?), "the oceans and vegetation continued to absorb the existing carbon dioxide from the air," and after hundreds or thousands of years, the planet would heal.

Golly, what could bring about the complete elimination of human carbon emissions? The only thing this author can think of is the cessation of all human activity. These aren't the first environmentalists to indulge in these dark phantasies and they won't be the last. They hate themselves, they hate you, and they want us all to die. Treat them accordingly.

'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.

'Green Energy' Unsafe for Birds and Other Living Things

Wind and solar energy technologies, which eco-religionists claim will save the planet from the ravages of capitalism and the destruction it supposedly causes, are culling endangered animals and wiping out their habitats. Michael Shellenberger pinpointed the problem with renewable energy in a May 2018 Forbes article: “If solar and wind farms are needed to protect the natural environment, why do they so often destroy it?” It’s a fair question.

Researchers looked at 23 endangered bird species killed at wind and solar outfits in California, according to “Vulnerability of avian populations to renewable energy production,” published March 30 in Royal Society Open Science. The study of the impact on wildlife of renewable energy, which requires more land than conventional means of energy production such as oil and natural gas drilling, was funded by the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the University of California at Davis. Hydroelectric dams were not dealt with in the paper, but the U.S. Geological Survey reports it is known that they “create barriers to fish migration and alter upstream and downstream ecosystems.”

The paper states that of the 23 bird species, renewable energy generation appears to have made things significantly worse for eleven, or 48 percent of them. Those eleven species “were either highly or moderately vulnerable, experiencing a greater than or equal to 20% decline in the population growth rates with the addition of up to either 1,000 or 5,000 fatalities, respectively.” For five of the eleven species, “killed birds originated both locally and non-locally, yet vulnerability occurred only to the local subpopulation."

R.I.P. tweety bird.

In the United States, anywhere from 140,000 to 328,000 bird fatalities take place per year at monopole turbines, but the real figure is probably much higher because, as the paper acknowledges, the estimate comes from data gathered a decade ago when installed capacity was only 57 percent of the current figure. Solar energy generation back then, when capacity was only 37 percent of the current figure, caused up to 138,600 birth deaths in the country, most of which took place in California.

California, of course, has an economic death wish – it’s betting everything on a utopian carbon-free future, the well-being of its human population be damned. In September 2020, the state’s Democrat governor, Gavin Newsom, who couldn’t even be bothered to follow his own pandemic rules, decreed that no gasoline-fueled automobiles will be sold in the state by 2035, the goal being to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, he urged that fracking be banned.

Encouraged by Newsom, anti-growth fanatics forced the state to mandate 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. Utilities achieved this early and now the goalpost has been moved to 60 percent renewables by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free energy by the middle of the century. Some California cities even want to ban natural gas heating and cooking in new buildings.

All this pressure to go renewable has to lead to more animal deaths as wind and solar generation expands. The Royal Society paper states that of California’s “23 vulnerable bird species studied (barn owls, golden eagles, road runners, yellow-billed cuckoos…), scientists have found 11 are now experiencing at least a 20% decline in their population growth rates because wind turbines and solar panels are killing them and/or destroying their limited-range habitat.”

Birds and bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines, which nowadays are typically mounted on towers 200 feet high or higher with rotors spanning 150 to 260 feet, which means blade tips can reach higher than 400 feet above the ground. Rotors can spin at speeds from 11 to 28 rpm with blade tip speeds of between 138 and 182 mph, the U.S. Department of Energy reports.

Beware of barotrauma.

Birds tend to be killed directly by collisions with turbines, meteorological towers, and power transmission lines, and indirectly by habitat disruption, behavioral effects, drowning in wastewater evaporation ponds, and other causes. Bats are typically killed by collisions and barotrauma, which means catastrophic damage to internal organs caused by rapid air pressure changes. Migratory bats could go extinct if wind energy production keeps growing, a May 2017 paper in Biological Conservation argues.

The Royal Society paper states that photovoltaic solar panels used at solar farms convert the light produced by the sun into electricity via turbines. There are environmental tradeoffs. The 6,000 birds that fly annually into the concentrated sunlight beams produced at the Ivanpah Solar Plant in California’s Mojave Desert, are instantly cremated alive, leaving puffs of smoke behind to mark their passing. A large fence erected to keep endangered desert tortoises out of the plant made it easier for coyotes to prey on roadrunners.

According to a January 2008 paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management, about 4,700 birds, including golden eagles, are killed by wind turbines at California’s Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). “Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the [APWRA]. Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half.”

Led by California’s crazed, hardline push to get off so-called fossil fuel-based energy production and into "renewable" energy, commercial wind energy generation capacity in the entire United States has gone up almost 300 percent since 2009. The current installed capacity exceeds 107 gigawatts from about 59,000 turbines and is expected to rise to more than 160 gigawatts by 2030, the Royal Society paper states.

Solar energy generation has gone up 9,400 percent in the country, from 0.4 gigawatts in 2009 to more than 38 gigawatts in 2009. In the coming 5 years capacity may blow past 75 gigawatts.

This will take a toll on fauna. But that’s fine with environmentalists, who observe a hierarchy of values. Animals, especially those with wings, will continue to die for our sins as "renewable" energy expands.

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.

Germany: A Cautionary Tale

Richard Fernandez recently wrote about Germany's famous (and infamous) Energiewende policy program, whose object was to transition the country away from low-carbon natural gas and effectively zero-carbon nuclear energy, but whose consequence has been to replace them with carbon-intensive coal while getting the country addicted to Russian oil and gas. The irony of this is something we've touched on before at The Pipeline, as when we pointed out the fact that Germany, an inspiration to environmentalists the world over, has been "bulldozing forests for the purposes of mining coal," at the same time as the purportedly evil empire of America, governed by a cabal of grasping oil executives in smoke-filled rooms, has led the world in total emissions reduction since the year 2000.

In a more just world, tree-huggers everywhere would be celebrating the fracking revolution rather than obsessing over environmentally questionable solar panels and biomass. But, as Fernandez discusses, while we could all see how badly the Energiewende was going -- the Wall Street Journal called it the "world’s dumbest energy policy" years ago -- the war in Ukraine upped the ante considerably. Read his piece for the key details, but one point worth emphasizing is the tremendous economic bind German environmentalism has put the country in. While well-intentioned bleeding hearts the world over have been calling for a total embargo of Russian energy exports, the German government's economic advisors have been pointing out that such an action would lead to a significant contraction of the German economy. Reuters:

Germany would face a sharp recession if gas supplies from Russia are suddenly cut off, the country's leading economic institutes said on Wednesday, and the government said the war in Ukraine poses "substantial risks" for Europe's largest economy. A sudden stop in Russian energy supplies... would slow economic growth to 1.9 percent this year and result in a contraction of 2.2 percent in 2023, they said.... "If gas supplies were to be cut off, the German economy would undergo a sharp recession," said [the Kiel Institute's] Stefan Kooths.... The cumulative loss of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 and 2023 in the event of a such supply freeze would likely be around 220 billion euros ($238 billion), or more than 6.5% of annual economic output, the five institutes said.

All you need is a little
Latvian blend."

In fact, it has been reported that for all of their anti-Russian rhetoric, energy starved European nations have been looking for ways to get around the sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the invasion. One popular loophole involves the blending of Russian petroleum products in foreign ports with those sourced from other countries. If less than 50 percent of a barrel comes from Russia, it can be sold under a different flag. "Latvian blend" oil has become the euphemism of choice for this product, as Ventspils, a port city Latvia, is where much of this mixing takes place.

There's a take-away from all of this for the United States, Canada, and any other free (or relatively free) nation blessed with natural resources. That is: if you want to control your own destiny, don't follow Germany down this road. It was laid out for them by anti-human, anti-civilization nihilists, and the cost has been astronomical. They exist in our nations too, and they have amassed considerable power. But if we care about our future, it is imperative that we give them the cold shoulder. We need to start putting our interests first, and not empowering "humanitarians" whose efforts inevitably benefit the bad actors of the world.