'Climate Change' Hysterics Seeing the Lights

One by one, prominent members of the Doomsday Cult of Climate Annihilation are beginning to defect to the side of reason and rationality. First came filmmaker Michael Moore and his heretical movie, Planet of the Humans, which castigated the "environmental movement" for selling out to corporate America. Next up was Michael Shellenberger, whose new book,  Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, is currently setting the kat among the klimate konformist pigeons by daring to argue that -- hold on to your Greta baseball caps! -- in fact, we're not all going to die and that there is a sane alternative to Thunbergianism. Among his findings:

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism. In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Shellenberger made these points in a piece he wrote the other day for Forbes... which of course yanked it from its website within hours, thus proving Moore's point about corporate hijacking of climate alarmism. So he reposted it on the Australian-based website, Quillette; have a look for yourself:

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism.

Shellenberger calls out the impractical Ludditism of the "Green Movement" Neanderthals, and offers policy recommendation that will turn the Greenies purple with rage, including a defense of clean nuclear energy:

Once you realize just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavory or unhealthy motivations, it is hard not to feel duped.

Clean energy or Green energy? Your choice.

Well, as Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute, including some very famous ones, among them chimp conservationist Jane Goodall, 86, who's moved on from general monkeyshines to weighty issue of climate, diet, the coronavirus and -- of course -- Why Everything Now Must Change:

With a background in primatology, Jane Goodall became well known in the 1960s through films about her work studying chimpanzees in Tanzania. She famously gave the animals human names. Her discovery that chimps in Tanzania and elsewhere were threatened by habitat destruction due to human activity informed her view about the interdependency of the natural world. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977, and it's now a leading voice for nature conservation.

Dr Goodall’s analysis of COVID-19 stays true to her beliefs. Speaking at an online event held by the group Compassion in World Farming, Goodall said our global food production system is in need of urgent reform. “Our disrespect for wild animals and our disrespect for farmed animals has created this situation where disease can spill over to infect human beings. We have come to a turning point in our relationship with the natural world.”

Talk about hostility to modern civilization: here we are: after more than half a century of the relentless battering of Western civilization by the likes of the Frankfurt School and their bastard children in academe, there are suckers aplenty in the West, who will go to their graves convinced that everything modern man has done to improve his life is wrong and bad, and that a prelapsarian state of nature is the way forward. Such is the suicide cult of Leftism as articulated by Rousseau and then passed down by Marx and Marcuse.

And yet, some common sense is beginning to reassert itself. In addition to Shellenberger, the Danish author and climate-hysteria skeptic, Bjorn Lomborg, the "skeptical environmentalist," has a new book out as well, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. As Richard Trzupek, an environmental consultant and analyst at the Heartland Institute, notes in his review:

Lomborg addresses his core mission statement early on: “[W]e’re scaring kids and adults witless, which is not just factually wrong but morally reprehensible. If we don’t say stop, the current, false climate alarm, despite its good intentions, is likely to leave the world much worse off than it could be.”

Everyone knows the meme: “Catastrophic global warming is real and it’s manmade.” It’s a simple statement of the perceived problem, one that would surely earn an “A” in Marketing 101. Whatever else it is, that simple statement is not science. The issue of climate change cannot be explained by any one statement, but must be addressed by answering a series of questions. This is what Lomborg bravely attempts to do in “False Alarm.”

And now along comes a lady with the felecitious sobriquet of Zion Lights, a spokewoman for Britain's lunatic Extinction Rebellion movement. When last seen, she was being memorably eviscerated by the BBC's Andrew Neil in October:

Today, however, she's singing a different tune.

Extinction Rebellion's spokeswoman has quit the protest group to become a nuclear power campaigner. Zion Lights, 36, has left the climate change cause, which brought London to a standstill last year, to join pro-nuke outfit Environmental Progress. The former XR communications head said she had felt ‘duped’ after being surrounded by anti-nuclear campaigners until she read more into the radioactive fuel.

Mother-of-two Zion said: ‘The facts didn't really change, but once I understood them I did change my mind.’ The switch took non-campaigners by surprise given her new role seems entirely at odds with her old position. Zion, who was born in the West Midlands and given her unusual name as a baby, said: ‘I have a long history of campaigning on environmental issues, most recently as a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion UK.

‘Surrounded by anti-nuclear activists, I had allowed fear of radiation, nuclear waste and weapons of mass destruction to creep into my subconscious. I realised I had been duped into anti-science sentiment all this time. Now, I have quit the organisation to take up a position as a campaigner for nuclear power.’

It's easy to laugh, but pay attention to the statement above: I had allowed fear... to creep into my subconscious. Fear is a hallmark of all zealous crackpotism, along with an urgent insistence that the world change right now in order to accommodate what is manifestly a form of mental illness akin to aliens sending you messages through the fillings in your teeth.

The environmentalist Left needs more people like Moore, Shellenberger, and Lights, struggling out the darkness of their former irrational anxieties and obsessions and joining the community of the sensible, and fewer deluded children like poor exploited Greta, shamelessly manipulated by the "movement" for malicious ends.

After all, who doesn't want the best for Mother Earth? There are many paths to conservation and civilization. We need not let fear prevent us from seeing the solution, and the light.

A Drowned World? Bilge!

Bjorn Lomborg has an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Examining the Latest False Alarm on Climate," which contains a helpful illustration of the way the media uses studies to whip up anxiety around one of their pet projects.

In the piece, he discusses a spate of recent startling headlines all of which suggest that, in his words, "Rising sea levels from climate change could flood 187 million people out of their homes." This claim has its origin in a paper published all the way back in 2011, and when you actually read the paper, you see that it needed to make some pretty questionable assumptions in order to arrive at that figure. As Lomborg explains, the paper found that "187 million could be forced to move in the unlikely event that, in the next 80 years, no one does anything to adapt to dramatic rises in sea level."

In other words, in order for their projection to make sense, the paper's authors had to take worst-case climate scenarios (which are already questionable) projected out over a century and then disregard what we know about actual human behavior. If sea-levels rise as much as these authors are claiming (which is, once again, not certain), leading to significant coastal flooding, one hundred eighty-seven million people -- not to mention their governments -- aren't just going to sit there until they're neck-deep in water. What would actually happen, says Lomborg, is we would deal with those problems as they arise.

We have more know-how and technology than ever to build dikes, surge barriers and dams, expand beaches and construct dunes, make ecosystem-based barriers like mangrove buffers, improve building codes and construction techniques, and use land planning and hazard mapping to minimize flooding.

The one hundred eighty-seven million displaced people headline, then, is a canard, based on dubiously applied data, whose object it is to frighten you into signing onto a sprawling environmentalist program. While flooding will likely be a serious problem over the next 80 years, as it is in many parts of the world today, targeted policies and spending could go a long way towards reducing their human and financial costs.

They're also more likely to be successful than the beef-and-airplane bans our mainstream media overlords have in mind.

Rioting and Destroying for Planetary and Social Justice

Everything is a metaphor for something else in today’s higher journalism, which means that the rioting and violent anarchy now spreading across the United States faster than Covid-19 (and perhaps with deadlier results in time) must be a metaphor for something very important. Every fellow-hack with a deadline will have his own target; but let me suggest that the most obvious metaphorical application is that of climate policy. 

Consider the video footage pouring out onto our laptops (but not always onto our news programs, thanks to the vigilance of mainstream broadcasters who don’t want to tarnish the “protests” against police brutality.) It shows repeated episodes of people breaking into shops, rushing into them, rushing out with stolen goods, physically attacking those who defend their property or other people under attack or anyone they intuitively dislike, and completing the protest by burning down the property, the building next door and, in many cases, the neighborhood.  

Police and other guardians of public order seem reluctant to intervene to prevent this Saturnalia, and sometimes they make gestures of sympathy to “the community” by, for instance, “kneeling” along with the mobs. Sometimes the reluctance is born of a decent civic responsibility married to courage that deserves our respect and admiration. I have seen mayors, sheriffs, and ordinary citizens who have spoken out eloquently or helped the cops to detain or drive out the sinister black-clad semi-professional organizers of mayhem. But all too often the reluctance can be traced to the city or state politicians who don’t want to alienate their own “constituencies” which they think sympathetic to the riots and rioters—often wrongly as is demonstrated by the occasional episodes when local people help the police to detain or drive out the sinister black-clad professional organizers of mayhem.  

But we shouldn’t ignore the signs that a deeper sympathy for violent disorder and the overthrow of existing civil authority has spread on the radical left, among some elected politicians, and within the educated upper-middle class throughout the Anglosphere. The calculated silence of some politicians about the anarchy we’re all witnessing is bad enough; worse is the contorted inability of others such as California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, to condemn the violence when they praise the “protests,” and their seeming paralysis when they should be taking action to restore order. 

What are the likely results of this tolerated disorder? Neighborhoods will be deeply damaged economically, and the poorer the neighborhood, the longer it will take to recover. Some parts of Washington D.C., turned into post-apocalyptic wastelands by the riots in the 1960s, took decades to return to their earlier prosperity. Large retail corporations will redline districts where their outlets were destroyed even as companies like Nike add “riot chic” to their advertising appeal.  Capital and lives invested in small businesses will be wasted, and those who worked to establish them will have to start again. In many cases they’ll give up, take dead-end jobs, go on welfare, cease to be part of America’s entrepreneurial workforce. The welfare rolls will grow while tax revenue falls and budget cuts cripple local services. More young people, including many who only last week had real opportunities ahead of them, will now face prison sentences and the stigma of felony in later life. And America will be poorer, more divided, more partisan, more unequal, and more self-hating than before last weekend.  

And police brutality? The unlawful killing of George Floyd by a cop was a tragedy for him and his family and a serious crime for the rest of us. It was almost immediately recognized as such by everyone from President Trump downwards. Barring some astounding development, the policeman and his colleagues will receive long prison sentences—as have similar cases of police brutality in recent years. And there will be a surge in articles about the epidemic of police brutality and in proposals to reform police recruitment and training in order to stop it once and for all. It’s more than possible that Joe Biden will be elected on quite ambitious proposals to carry out that agenda. 

The difficulty is that as Heather Mac Donald has shown in (genuinely courageous) articles, the epidemic of police brutality against Black America is a falsehood disproved by repeated studies. Here is a 2019 study by authors at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, based upon a database of 917 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 from more than 650 police departments.  

Fifty-five percent of the victims were white, 27 percent were black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Between 90 and 95 percent of the civilians shot by officers in 2015 were attacking police or other citizens; 90 percent were armed with a weapon. So-called threat-misperception shootings, in which an officer shoots an unarmed civilian after mistaking a cellphone, say, for a gun, were rare. 

How is that explained? As Ms. Mac Donald points out: “It is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer. The more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer.”  

None of this should come as news. Writing in the New York Post in 2016, Pipeline editor Michael Walsh noted:

The “killer cop” narrative refuses to die, and the Washington Post decided to throw fuel on the racial fire with context-free statements like these: “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the US population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year.” This ignores the fact that black violent-crime rates are far higher than those of whites. According to the Department of Justice, blacks committed 52.5 percent of the murders in America from 1980 to 2008, when they represented 12.6 percent of the population.

This certainly does not excuse cases of police misconduct. Bad cops should be investigated and tried. But these incidents don’t prove that the “real problem” is cops. This isn’t an “epidemic.” And it isn’t racist to suggest that some perspective is warranted here.

That is not a conclusion that anyone wants to reach, especially after an innocent man has been killed by a cop, but it’s the underlying social reality. Policies based on ignoring it will produce perverse results, including the weakening of standards for police recruitment and training to achieve a particular racial balance. And the speeches of politicians and social critics that deny this reality will encourage the spread of a myth that seemingly justifies violent anarchy and attacks on all police officers.  Two policemen, innocent of anything except defending the rest of us, were killed this weekend. Their lives should matter too. But because you don’t know their names, they don’t.  

As so often in social policy, we are witnessing how a false belief and policies rooted in it produce results that are the opposite of what’s intended (except perhaps by some cold-hearted Machiavellis who desire anarchy for their own political purposes.) And that’s where climate policy comes in. 

Here’s a short list of the features common to both climate policy and the political treatment of the violent protests: 

  1. Though both the protests and climate policy are justified as designed to help or “save” people from a present or looming disaster, they have the actual effect of making their lives far worse. If Black lives matter, so do Black livelihoods. But many of those livelihoods have just collapsed, first from Covid-19, now from your friendly neighborhood anarchist. And if a policy of achieving a net-zero carbon impact is imposed on our economies, all our livelihoods will descend into the basement. We will have a first, temporary taste of that immiseration when the various national lockdowns are lifted in the next few months. But unless we enjoy a series of scientific breakthroughs on energy generation, a net-zero-carbon-based pauperization will be a near-permanent return to a pre-industrial standard of living for almost all of us. 
  2. Celebrity Endorsements. Hollywood has stepped in to assist the processes of disorder and pauperization. Ditto some charities and NGOS—one Minnesota charity that usually gets by on about $80,000 has received $20 million in the last few days to bail out those arrested in the protests. I can appreciate the motive of helping people without means to survive court procedures. But why do Hollywood and “civil society” not also want to give a helping hand to the small store-owner who has just seen most of his capital stock vanish through his broken windows with perhaps the added anti-bonus of a skull cracked by someone zealous for "social justice"? I would like to be proved wrong here. Go ahead. Make my day. 
  3. Censorship. Somehow opinions and even facts not helpful to the establishment and media consensus on either climate policy or “social justice” have a hard time making it into the news and mainstream debate. When they do, they’re often labeled “denialism.” But not covering inconvenient facts about climate policy or crime is a far more dangerous form of denialism—and of its nature, far more difficult to detect or argue against. 
  4. Dissing Democracy. Some things are too important to be left to democracy, we’re told, which leads to an unspoken policy of leaving those things to be decided by the corridors of power or when all else fails, by the streets.  
  5. The Establishment’s Blind Eye. In recent years, when the voters or legal processes have endorsed social policies or energy developments opposed by both the radical left and the political establishment, physical (and sometimes violent) protests have erupted in order to block them. That’s happened in Canada over developing energy resources, in Australia over mining, in the U.S. over pipelines and offshore drilling, and in the U.K. over “fracking.” And when these blockings occur, usually illegally, the authorities look the other way or intervene in order to ensure that the protests remain “peaceful” (i.e., meet no effective opposition.) It’s happened far more dramatically this weekend over plainly un-peaceful protests too. The right to go about your legal business peacefully is, for practical purposes, a dead letter when it clashes with political or environmental correctness. 
  6. Not to go into conspiracy theories, but someone is financing the organizing of both sets of protests. Not many media organizations seem keen on finding out who—unless it might really turn out to be white supremacists with snow on their boots. 

All these distortions and infractions of lawful rights and democratic processes are possible only because there is overriding belief in a massive social crisis or social evil that makes extraordinary measures both necessary and urgent. That social crisis in the form of an epidemic of police brutality against black communities is examined above—and found wanting. The social crisis in relation to climate policy is the looming crisis that the world will turn to ashes in the next twelve years unless we all become medieval peasants with a taste for self-flagellation. (See Greta Thunberg passim.) 

How does that compare to the climate facts? It’s nonsense in a general way, of course, but if you should like to see it refuted in detail, you’re fortunate because the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London has just published The State of the Climate 2019 by Ole Humlum, a distinguished Norwegian professor of physical geography. It's chock full of information that undermines and refutes the simple picture of environmental degradation that the Greens’ climatist ideology usually presents, for instance: 

The temperature variations recorded in the lowermost troposphere are generally reflected at higher altitudes too. In the stratosphere, however, a temperature ‘pause’ commenced in around 1995, 5–7 years before a similar temperature ‘pause’ began in the lower troposphere near the planet’s surface. The stratospheric temperature ‘pause’ has now persisted for about 25 years. 

And I shall be returning to it next week.  In the meantime, enjoy:

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YouTube Censors 'Planet of the Humans'

Well, they've gone and done it:

YouTube has taken down the controversial Michael Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans in response to a copyright infringement claim by a British environmental photographer. The movie, which has been condemned as inaccurate and misleading by climate scientists and activists, allegedly includes a clip used without the permission of the owner Toby Smith, who does not approve of the context in which his material is being used.

I'm not particularly fond of Michael Moore, but Moore and Jeff Gibbs (his longtime collaborator who produced and narrates this documentary) are old pros, and I am pretty skeptical of the claim that they would allow a project as sensitive as this, which they produced knowing that they would take tons of fire from their fellow lefties, to be fouled up by a copyright violation. Especially when some powerful people -- many of whom fall into the group of Moore and Gibbs accuse of perpetuating the Green Energy boondoggle to make themselves extremely rich -- have been looking for an excuse to censor it since it was released.

Gibbs made roughly the same point in his statement:

“This attempt to take down our film and prevent the public from seeing it is a blatant act of censorship by political critics of Planet of the Humans. It is a misuse of copyright law to shut down a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called “green capitalists.” There is absolutely no copyright violation in my film. This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech.”

Gibbs said he was working with YouTube to resolve the issue and have the film back up as soon as possible.

It is worth noting that Toby Smith, who made the complaint, said that he went directly to YouTube rather than to Moore and Gibbs precisely because he has a problem with the content of the documentary. As he put it, "I wasn’t interested in negotiation. I don’t support the documentary, I don’t agree with its message and I don’t like the misleading use of facts in its narrative.” Sounds a lot like one of the "political critics" of Planet of the Humans.

To be fair, this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. The film was released on April 21st, and was only supposed to remain up on YouTube for 30 days. Because of its success -- at the time YouTube pulled it it had been viewed more than 8 million times -- the run was extended by another month. Smith's complaint got the film pulled just a few days after it was originally supposed to come down. Even so, the whole thing remains highly suspicious. Is this, perhaps, the first big move in YouTube's long-bruited crackdown on wrongthink in anticipation of the presidential election in the fall? Their increasingly censorious tendencies are supposedly among the reasons for podcaster Joe Rogan's just announced decision to leave the platform for Spotify beginning in September.

In any event, if you were not among the millions of viewers lucky enough to catch Planet of the Humans before the PC police got to it, take some time to read The Pipeline's coverage from back when it was first released. In the meantime, Moore and Gibbs have posted the documentary at Vimeo.

The Revolution Will Be Delayed

We can thank the Wuhan virus for small favors:

International negotiations designed to address the sweeping global threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain, the host of the talks, which were initially scheduled to be held at the end of this year in Glasgow, proposed on Tuesday that they be postponed until November 2021. A decision is to be made Thursday by countries that make up the rotating governing board of the United Nations agency that sponsors the talks.

“Given the uneven spread of Covid-19, this date would present the lowest risk of further postponement and the best chance of delivering an inclusive and ambitious COP,” British officials said in a letter to countries in the accord, using shorthand for Conference of the Parties, the formal name of the meeting. The conference is meant to rally world leaders to chart ways to avert the worst effects of climate change, including fatal heat waves and flooded coastal cities.

The next round of talks, the 26th annual COP, is the most important session since then. Countries are expected to announce revised climate targets in order to reach that global target, which remains elusive.

That's funny -- I thought climate seer and international scold Greta Thunberg told us in January that we only have eight years left to prevent global catastrophe:

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg called on Tuesday for far tougher action to limit climate change, telling the World Economic Forum in Davos the world has just eight years left to avert severe warming. Thunberg, 17, speaking on a Davos panel with three other youth delegates from around the world, also expressed doubts that the world could develop technologies in coming decades to suck carbon dioxide from thin air to limit rising temperatures.

“A lot,” she said, when asked what she wanted in the coming year or so. “Especially that we start listening to the science and that we treat this crisis as the crisis it is.” Governments are due to meet in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, seeking to ratchet up the ambition of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The deal aims to limit warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, while pursuing efforts for a tougher ceiling of 1.5°C.

So now it's only seven years. What are we going to do? Luckily for the world, by that time St. Greta will be in her mid-twenties, no longer a "Swedish teenager." Her numinous nature will by then have worn off, the media will have lost interest, the demon Trump will be out of office one way or another, the world will still be spinning on its axis, and we'll have found something new to worry about.

Michael Moore Strikes Back

We here at The Pipeline have been covering Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs' new film Planet of the Humans fairly extensively lately for the simple reason that we believe it to be a very important film, both because it is extremely informative on the topic of the "green energy" fraud, but also because it has blown open a major rift within the environmentalist movement. So much so that those on the other side of that rift are either ignoring the documentary entirely (as far as I can see, neither the BBC, the CBC, nor Australia's ABC have published a word on it -- kind of shocking that the state broadcasters of the English speaking world are ignoring such a big story) or, as Michael Walsh pointed out yesterday, are calling on YouTube to take it down for spreading misinformation (and, presumably, for giving aid and comfort to the enemy).

To rebut those claims, Moore and Gibbs have been on a bit of a media tour, and one stop on that tour was this lengthy interview with The Hill TV:

It is an illuminating interview, and I think it bears out my contention that, far from turning their back on environmentalism, Moore and Gibbs are willing to tear down that movement as it currently exists so that they can rebuild it as something somewhat leaner (in that it will have less cash), but definitely a lot meaner. Creative Destruction, you might call it.

First of all, Moore takes up the question of their motivation. He and Gibbs haven't turned on the movement - "We are lifelong environmentalists!" They've been in since the "first Earth Day!" Their main concern is "this evil economic system that we have [which] is based on greed," and the tendency of certain environmentalists to "[hop] into bed with corporate America." From his perspective, this gives the corporations a kind of moral authority that they shouldn't have, and allows them to treat the movement like a revenue stream:

[Y]ou've seen this happen over the last decade, how they've all gone Green, they all tout the big Green thing, and they saw basically that enough of us believed in Green, because we want this planet to live, and they saw, '[W]ow, there's the supply and demand right there -- the demand is for Green, lets give them Green, and lets make a lot of money off of it.

So, for Moore:

The failure of the movement has been to address this serious flaw, which is: We are not gonna save the planet or ourselves by allowing Wall Street, hedge funds, corporate America, to be anywhere near us, as we try to fix this.

The film is simply their way of breaking that to the true believers.

To my way of thinking, it's Gibbs who really gives voice to their ambitions:

You know, this is so much bigger than climate change. You know, we've eaten 90% of the fish in the ocean. Half of the wildlife have disappeared in the last 40 years, primarily because of expanding logging and agriculture. Fossil fuels is tragic, but there is a lot more to us damaging the planet than just climate change.... I think [that] looking at ourselves as a single species that's got this addiction to growth, my theory is that infinite growth on a finite planet is called suicide, and that's what we have to address.

I mentioned the Malthusian drift of the documentary in my review, and Gibbs responds to that critique:

We never use the word population control, we're not in favor of population control. We merely point out, there was a UN study that came out one or two years ago, that just points out that the doubling of our human numbers and the quadrupling of our human economy is the prime driver of extinction on this planet. Is the UN favoring population control? No!

Er, yes, but go on:

Many scientists are pointing out the obvious, but you don't read about that so much in the press anymore, since it's all only focused on climate change.

Funny how, while disclaiming population control, he argues that scientists are merely "pointing out the obvious," but doesn't himself spell out that "obvious" here. When you go to the documentary itself, you find what his scientists are actually "pointing out." Here's one representative sample: "Without seeing some sort of major die off in population, there's no turning back."

Back to the interview, Gibbs mitigates our need to read between the lines further when he says:

[R]ight now we're learning that the three times when climate change and fossil fuel usage went down were during this pandemic, in the days after 9/11, and during the Great Recession. Now, we're just raising the question, we've got to come to terms with this expansion. We don't have the answers in the film, but it is our growth, and especially our growth and consumption, driven by capitalism, that's driving this beast.

Ah yes, those three greatest moments of our civilization. Just as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the other day, Gibbs is admitting here that their project is built on human suffering. This is what we call "Making the sub-text, text."

I've been seeing conservatives on Twitter and elsewhere over the past week who are elated about this movie, and in the short term it might work to our benefit. But don't be fooled -- Moore and Gibbs are not on our side. Their vision is very dark, and they themselves are very persuasive.

Michael Moore Learns an Inconvenient Truth

The enemy of my enemy is... well, in the case of Michael Moore, still my enemy. That's because of the destruction he's wrought on the mental processes of so many members of my generation with his Riefenstahl-esque documentaries which convinced them that they'd have been better off growing up in Castro's Cuba than in suburban New York. That said, Moore is a worthy foe. He's extremely sharp, and he doesn't go in for easy short term victories. He's playing the long game.

The most recent example is a documentary he's produced along with his longtime collaborator Jeff Gibbs, who serves as director and narrator. The film is called Planet of the Humans, and was released on YouTube earlier this week just in time for Earth Day. It is not, however, your typical Earth Day fare, alternately happy-clappy and weepy-waily. Planet of the Humans digs deep down into the supposed Green Energy Revolution which promises to liberate us from our present fossil fuel regime. What it definitively demonstrates, however, is that Green Energy is a fraud (and one which has made a lot of people very rich) -- and, worse, that the revolution is never going to come.

Gibbs begins by talking about his long standing tree-hugger bona fides. As a young man, he moved to the woods of Michigan and built a log cabin, which he wired for solar power. But as the years went by, and as he continued to learn about the ins and outs of the green energy industry, he got increasingly skeptical and cynical.

Early on in the documentary Gibbs shows us a solar power fair, which boasts that it's powered entirely by solar panels. A rock band is playing on stage under electric lights, everyone is having a good time, all is well. Until, that is, it begins to rain. Gibbs follows staff members working frantically backstage, and when he asks what they're doing, they explain that they are hooking everything up to a biodiesel generator. When that doesn't produce enough juice, they simply plug in to the regular old local power grid.

That basic set-up starts to become pretty familiar. Gibbs attends a launch event for the Chevy Volt electric car, and gets the enthusiastic employees to explain that, well, yes, actually all of the electricity powering the cars and the plant comes from fossil fuels. He's invited to see the plant's solar panel farm, the size of a football field, only to learn that it gets roughly 8 percent efficiency and generates only enough energy to power about ten homes. He speaks to several green energy enthusiasts who admit that the intermittency of solar and wind requires renewables to be backed up with idling fossil fuel power plants, which (as Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller explains on camera) "maybe can be dialed down during the day, and dialed up when demand starts rising." When asked if this effects the efficiency of the plants, Moeller responds "Oh yeah, they don't like to be dialed up and down." Their hope is that we will one day be able to bridge that gap with batteries, but Gibbs points out that not only is that a still-remote possibility, but that the batteries themselves come from mined products degrade in a very few years.

Gibbs also takes us to Lowell Mountain in Vermont, where land is being cleared for an enormous wind farm. He goes hiking with a group of concerned citizens who show him the devastated mountain. One local says:

I'm looking at the ground [here] and thinking 'this is not the legacy I want to leave to my kids.' When I was a kid, we'd go hiking in these woods, we'd be able to drink from the water down the hill here, and now you have to question that.

Aside from intermittent wind energy, what do they get from all of this? Three full-time jobs and about twenty years of use before those turbines need to be replaced. "Has anybody considered that this is mountaintop removal for wind instead of coal?" he asks. Which is to say, so-called renewable energy requires fossil fuels -- often used wastefully -- to exist. Ozzie Zehner, author of the book Green Illusions, sums up this theme of the documentary perfectly when he says

You use more fossil fuels to do this than you're getting a [green] benefit from it. You would've been better off [just] burning the fossil fuels in the first place instead of playing pretend.

In the background roll enthusiastic news clips and interviews featuring environmentalist heroes like Barack Obama, Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, Jeremy Grantham, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Bill McKibben. Every one of them talks about "shovel ready" projects, jobs in all fifty states, "free energy forever," and the potential for prosperity for all -- while also saving the planet. At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on screen introducing the world's largest solar energy plant, and says "There's some people that look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness! I see miles and miles of a gold mine."

Surely these luminaries must know they're wildly overpromising at best, and at worst simply lying. Why do they do it? Gibbs answers that, for the most part, they're in it for the money and the power.

The only reason we've been force fed the story 'Climate change + Renewables = We're Saved' is because billionaires, bankers, and corporations profit from it.

Many environmentalist philanthropists -- including several of those mentioned above like Grantham and Branson -- invest heavily in supposed alternate energy sources like biofuel and biomass, the usage of which allows businesses and universities to claim that they are powered by "100 percent renewable energy." As Mike Schellenberger points out,

In reality, scientists have for over a decade raised the alarm about biomass and biofuels causing rain forest destruction around the world including Brazil and Malaysia, and have documented that when one takes into account their landscape impacts, the fuels produce significantly higher carbon emissions than oil and gas and may produce more than coal.

At the same time, they use the power of celebrity to lobby governments and shame politicians into enacting biofuel mandates and other regulations which just so happen to benefit their stock portfolio.

Gibbs also examines the potential financial incentives for perhaps the most influential environmentalist of the past 20 years, former vice president Al Gore. Gore was the co-founder of an investment firm called Generation Investment Management, which was an early promoter of biomass and biofuels. Gibbs wonders aloud whether Gore's Oscar-winning climate documentary An Inconvenient Truth was "just about climate change, or was it about something else?" That is, was it about promoting his investments.

If it was, it worked out for him. Those investments helped Gore launch CurrentTV, which he ended up selling for 100 million dollars to Al Jazeera, the state broadcaster of Qatar, a nation whose wealth is largely a product of fossil fuels. The documentary gives us several clips of Gore not even being slightly embarrassed by this hypocrisy. “You couldn’t find, for your business, a more sustainable [buyer]?” he's asked by Daily Show host Jon Stewart. “What is not sustainable about it?” Gore replies.

I mentioned at the outset that Michael Moore is playing a long game, and here's what I meant. Moore and Gibbs know that "green energy" is a boondoggle, and that soon enough it is going to fall apart. Planet of the Humans is their attempt to get out in front of inconvenient truth, so that environmentalism won't be entirely discredited when their fantasy world collapses. Though they will probably be raked over the coals by the usual suspects (one imagines that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be happy about this documentary, which implicitly tears the heart out of the Green New Deal), Moore and Gibbs remain climate-change true believers. We are told over and over again in the course of this documentary that humans are destroying the planet. What sets them apart from other environmentalists is that they don't believe that there is a technological solution. "Is it possible for machines made from industrial civilization to save us from industrial civilization?" Gibbs asks.

No, their solution is rather darker. They believe that we need to massively diminish the amount of energy we are using, and that, while personal responsibility has a role in that, the very presence of humanity is the main obstacle to their goal. Planet of the Humans regurgitates discredited Malthusian and Ehrlichian ideas which hold that we are experiencing a population bomb and that ultimately the planet's major underlying problem is, quite simply: us.

That said, I found Planet of the Humans to be an extremely affecting and informative documentary. It isn't difficult to feel Gibbs' pain as he confronts the fact that green energy "wasn't what it seemed." And, very likely, the hard hitting nature of this documentary is going to cost Moore and Gibbs more than a few friends. I found myself feeling both appreciation for their honesty and apprehension for what their suggestions portend. At the same time, as I alluded to above, several of my high school classmates were corrupted by Moore's early 21st century documentaries, such as Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. I shudder to think what Planet of the Humans -- with its pessimism about both green energy and human life itself -- will do to the next generation of environmentalists.

The Limits of Science

John O'Sullivan's excellent weekend column examined the work of Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the British medical journal The Lancet, and his tendency to expand the scope of his publication in order to pronounce on topics which are decidedly beyond its remit as a journal of medicine:

[Horton] argues that doctors as doctors have a professional obligation to become political activists and to engage in civil disobedience when they think that a political issue has bad medical consequences for their patients—or indeed for any doctor’s patients. His editorials have made The Lancet notorious for the range of topics, including directly political topics—inequality, for instance, or Iraq war casualties -- which they pronounce to be medical issues for which they have their favorite prescriptions ready. And on no topic has he been more fervent, more frequent, or more “authoritarian” than on climate change.

Horton's editorials in The Lancet have adopted the “worst case” scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to argue that the “climate emergency” is “one of the greatest threats to the health of humanity today” and poses “an acute danger to human and natural systems” (my italics.)  He has called on other professional journals to become “activist” (i.e., to take sides in controversial issues) as The Lancet has done -- for instance, it publishes an annual report on health and climate change that diagnoses a pandemic of climate emergencies which, however, can be cured every time by the same anti-capitalist remedy.

And he has used the journal to call on health workers to join in Extinction Rebellion’s civil disobedience protest against government inaction on the emergency last October which led to scattered acts of disruption—occupying banks, cancelling flights, and blocking bridges, roads, and traffic that included (ironically) an ambulance—by usually small groups of protesters in major Western cities.

What's disturbing to me is that we are so used to people with lots of impressive-looking letters after their names (Horton's alphabet soup, according to his Wikipedia page, is "FRCP FMedSci") speaking authoritatively on every subject under the sun that we hardly roll our eyes at the above any more. What, a few decades ago, we would have considered inappropriate -- that is, the editor of a medical journal making claims about foreign and domestic policy on the grounds that they have some imagined health component -- is now unfortunately commonplace.

Why is that? Well, first of all it is because we listen to them. When Stephan Hawking or (heaven help us) Neil DeGrasse Tyson wander away from physics and start talking about history, philosophy, art, or, really, anything else, we (well, many of us) sit and listen instead of bolting for the exit. But why do we let them? It is, ultimately, because we have, by and large, accepted science as as a method for determining the meaning of all things -- something like a religion -- which is decidedly not how true science understands itself.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry of the Ethics and Public Policy Center wrote an important article awhile back examining our societal misunderstanding of science:

Everybody [says]... [s]cience says this, science says that. You must vote for me because science. You must buy this because science. You must hate the folks over there because science. Look, science is really important. And yet, who among us can easily provide a clear definition of the word "science" that matches the way people employ the term in everyday life?

So let me explain what science actually is. Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That's the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says "science" is something different.

He explains that the great insight of the Scientific Revolution was that the claims of science are necessarily limited by our ability to experiment and test our conclusions.

What distinguishes modern science from other forms of knowledge such as philosophy is that it explicitly forsakes abstract reasoning about the ultimate causes of things and instead tests empirical theories through controlled investigation. Science is not the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It's a form of engineering — of trial by error. Scientific knowledge is not "true" knowledge, since it is knowledge about only specific empirical propositions — which is always, at least in theory, subject to further disproof by further experiment.

This is radically different from the more popular meaning of 'science', which is often meant to convey a mental image of superior beings "wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands." Gobry argues that, for most people:

The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people. [Italics are mine].

This is why various academic disciplines, the so-called soft sciences -- psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. -- feel that they need to clothe themselves in the veneer of science. The practitioners of these disciplines want everyone to know that they are very smart people too, even if they did get a 'D' in Organic Chemistry! So if they do important sounding studies (even ones whose results are irreplicable), illustrate their points with lots of graphs, and wear lab coats, people will taken them seriously. (This tendency even infects the humanities, by the way. I've always liked a comment of the mid-20th century poet and politician Charles Wilbert Snow who, explaining his decision not to seek a doctorate, said that the Ph.D. was "a German invention designed to turn an art into a science.")

Gobry goes on to point out that:

This is how you get people asserting that "science" commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have, have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is "scientific" because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. While it is a fact that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads, all else equal, to higher atmospheric temperatures, the idea that we can predict the impact of global warming — and anti-global warming policies! — 100 years from now is sheer lunacy. But because it is done using math by people with tenure, we are told it is "science" even though by definition it is impossible to run an experiment on the year 2114.

In many ways, the scientific revolution began as a call for epistemic humility: It is difficult to truly know things about the inner workings of the universe. What methods can we use to accurately demonstrate the few things which we have definitely uncovered? The almost unimaginable success of this project and the tremendous innovation which came after it is likely why we came to hold scientists in such high regard and, ironically, why we have drifted from its basic insight.

Consequently, we are left with men of science like Horton pushing public policy proposals because science is just, well, smart people being smart, and why wouldn't we listen to smart people? Appeals to a supposed "scientific consensus" on something like climate change (and scientists preferred responses to it) is just taking this a step further: Lots of really smart people think this. You want people to think you're smart, right? It is important we realize that these appeals take us beyond the strictures of science into something else entirely.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Killing the Echo, Freeing the Sound

A favorite saying of the great Anglo-Hungarian economist, the late Lord Peter Bauer was that in the modern world what matters most is not the sound but the echo. He believed that many good ideas, in economics but more widely too, never spread far and wide but remained inside a small circle in seminar or lecture room while transparently bad ideas flourished in books, on editorial pages, and among policy-makers. The explanation was, he theorized, that those who had ideas were less important than those who picked them up, wrote about them entertainingly, and passed them onto their readerships. That’s very similar to F.A. Hayek’s definition of intellectuals as “dealers in second-hand ideas.” 

As a development economist, however, Peter believed Hayek’s insight was particularly significant for international communications. If an idea was considered beneficial to the International Herald Tribune, the Economist, the BBC, and the Wall Street Journal, it was likely to become a topic discussed at conferences, adopted as a Millennium Priority issue, urged by UN organizations upon businesses, and even the inspiration for the occasional feature movie. 

The fact that his own subject, development economics, had been the beneficiary of such widespread (and largely admiring) attention gave him no joy. As books written since Peter’s death — such as Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion, William Easterley’s The White Man’s Burden, and Danisa Moyo’s Dead Aid — have confirmed, a great deal of money was transferred from Western countries to the Third World in government-to-government aid over half a century. Far from eliminating poverty, however, it encouraged pauperism, weakened local enterprise, strengthened oppressive governments, and fattened the private accounts of their leaders in Swiss banks. 

Yet despite the best efforts of skeptics, rethinking aid policy has not gone very far. We’ve tried to make it conditional on more open and democratic government with mixed results. Its virtue-signaling advantages to Western politicians have kept it (one might say) thriving unsuccessfully. The UK has legally committed itself to spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP on aid annually, though there’s a scramble at the close of the fiscal year to find enough worthy projects to finance. Peter lamented that aid survived because its worst failures were out of sight of the taxpayer and painted gold by progressive opinion in the international media and global bodies. He felt that it had become a lost cause when it was given its own UN agency. It had become too virtuous to fail. 

That kind of groupthink—an ideological conformity that is so committed to a project that it cannot be allowed to fail or even to be critically examined—is more common in public life than we might wish. Consider a few examples: 

All of these failures were fueled by dogmatic certainty, elite groupthink, suppression of criticism and sidelining of critics, and a refusal to consider serious reform until disaster strikes. Having absorbed those examples, let’s shine a skeptical light on energy and "climate change" policies. Here we see a clash of two necessities: our economies need secure supplies of fossil fuel energy at moderate stable prices (or will do when the lockdowns are eventually phased out), and our governments need to make at least ritual obeisance towards the goals of a “zero-carbon” economy. As my colleague Michael Walsh has pointed out, it was the first week in a long time that climate change did not enjoy priority seating.

At times it seemed like the Seventies Show—the old international politics of oil and gas were with us once again as Trump sought to bring together Gazprom’s President Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Aramco to negotiate energy prices that would keep them happy but also save the marginal US fracking producers from bankruptcy and ruin. 

Today’s actual result of this energy politicking matters less than the new economic context in which it took place. It’s inevitable now that some kind of economic catastrophe will follow the end of the lockdowns and the Covid-19 epidemic. In that political context, the main concerns of governments in fossil-fuel consuming countries will be to keep the lights on and homes warm. Asking people to pay more for energy and to accept a lower standard of living cheerfully when they are already enduring a much lower standard of living will not be a possibility. Zero-carbon politics will look like a first-world problem when China may be the first world and some Western countries the second world. And though no government will officially abandon the Paris accords and the energy policies that grant expensive subsidies to switch from fossil fuels to renewables—governments don’t do the apology thing if they can avoid it—nonetheless, they’ll be looking for quiet ways to keep “conventional” sources of cheap energy in their portfolios.

And when the young idealists of Extinction Rebellion dig up other peoples’ lawns or block suburban streets, they may find themselves facing a night in the pokey rather than a gig on the BBC. And a more subtle change in our energy politics is likely to emerge from the epidemic. Until now the various manifestations of climatism have been very similar in their smooth political progress from fringe kooks to outliers to unchallengeable official orthodoxy to the large official failures I examined above. Nor is that surprising. The modern climatology movement was more or less founded by the UN secretariat which has helped finance and shepherd it through Rio, Kyoto, and Copenhagen to the Paris conference.

And it shows. Its leading figures have the same blend of virtue and been rooted in the same elite groupthink that allowed dissent only on details. They have treated computer models of global warming as infallible oracles rather than the rough and uncertain guides they really were. They treated “science” as a religious invocation rather than a practical process of trial and error. They demanded we follow their commandments or we would burn. They were impatient with the normal delays of democracy and demanded it be set aside.  Above all, they were very successful in suppressing criticisms of climate change ideology (“science”) and sidelining heretics. 

It’s always folly and usually counterproductive to suppress critics and criticism because it means you’re putting blinkers on yourself. Your opponent knows your arguments whereas you gradually forget you even have opponents. He enters the ring the challenger but he’s really the champ when the first blow is struck. Here’s a video from 2014 of the Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, professor emeritus of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, addressing the Institute of Public Affairs and demonstrating the ways in which the media has kept important stories and serious science out of the news when it conflicted with climate ideology.  

I will mention here a good example of how policies that run counter to common sense produce results opposite to those the green planners expected. So attractive were EU subsidies for solar energy that a Spanish company invented a way to collect solar energy at night. How so? Well, they turned on the floodlights and directed them at the solar panels. But there is nothing new under the sun (boom! boom!) when the human imagination is at play either scientifically or fraudulently. Attending an energy fair about 25 years ago, the Anglo-American writer Tom Bethell noticed that a windmill was turning even though there was no wind. In response to Tom’s inquiry, the company explained that the windmill was plugged into the mains. Anecdotes don't prove a case, but if there are enough of them, as there were in Professor Plimer's address, they raise a reasonable suspicion that some aspects of the global warming case need a second look from economists as well as scientists. 

One final thought. In recent years the Green movement has sought to arouse public opinion by proclaiming loudly that there is a climate emergency that requires immediate, dramatic, and costly action. Its more reasonable activists accepted that held some exaggeration but insisted that they wanted to create a panic in people because the dangers were indeed great. And this message was hmmered out daily by political and media sympathizers: Repent now, for The End is NighNo panic ensued, however, because people could see that the emergency was false and gave a  collective shrug.  

In the last three weeks, moreover, things have changed. There has been a real emergency and a real panic. Neither has been a pleasant or useful experience. The lesson from both is that we should want to determine our future and our policies in an atmosphere of deliberative calm in which both sides of important questions are heard and a civilized debate conducted. The computer “models” in which the Greens have placed such faith in their campaigns have not been infallible on the spread of the virus. Nor always have the experts. We have learned to treat them both with a proper degree of skepticism and to demand second opinions when there is doubt.

But we have also learned to listen to them respectfully because  large uncertainty is inevitable in investigating a new virus, and if they  have doubts, they are at least informed doubts which may not be easy to communicate clearly. So we need competing experts in serious debates, and they must include those climate scientists who reject the majority "consensus" which may not be a majority and isn't a consensus on every aspect of the debate. That said, the panics fueled by media demagogues have been the opposite of an improvement on scientists' doubts. They have instead produced anger, confusion, distrust and division on the part of the public rather than enlightenment.

The media in particular have emerged with lower reputations from the  last month. They have plainly wanted to make a case, catch an error, or take a scalp rather than to find and report the facts.  In that regard, media demagogues are hardly an improvement on the activists who made the case for panic. Indeed, they greatly resemble each other and often produce the same effects. But neither should be excluded from national and local debate if they make a fist of a serious argument. What they cannot be given is the exaggerated respect that they have until now been given by both the experts and the public's representatives. If they want that respect, they must earn it.

When normal service resumes, debate on energy and the climate will also resume in a more realistic atmosphere. Not least because we can no longer afford fantastical policies such as  Green New Deals and a net zero-carbon economy by Wednesday week. And the public knows that.  

 

  

Thanks, Wuhan Virus: 'Earth is Healing Herself'

The Catholic Church has long been in the business of caring for the sick. This is a fact which you might not have picked up in school, as most history teachers, more interested in ideology than truth, don't often mention it. But the plain fact is the Church, which is ostensibly concerned with the good of the soul, has concurrently devoted tremendous amounts of energy and resources to the care of the body. The very word "hospital" comes from the Knights Hospitaller, who came into existence in 1070 to care for pilgrims to the Holy Land. For centuries the hospitals of Europe were run by religious orders, and the saints whose reputations were built on the care of the sick -- from John of God ministering to the mentally ill in 16th Century Spain to Damien De Veuster living among the lepers in 19th century Hawaii to Rose Hawthorne Lathrop serving terminal cancer patients in early 20th century New York -- are too numerous to list.

Just recently the generally anti-Catholic New York Times published an article about the nuns who staffed sick wards during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918:

They tended to stricken men, crammed 30 to a ward, with the dirt from their factory jobs still smeared on their faces and hands. Hallucinating patients tried to climb out of windows, tore at the bedsheets, threw glass tumblers at their nurses and begged God for mercy. In private homes, the sisters found parents dead in their beds while their hungry children cried in the next room. “The windows were closed tightly, and we felt we could taste the fever,” one nun recalled later.

They washed linens, served hot soup and mixed medicine. They brought water, ice, blankets and comfort. “The call ‘Sister’ could be heard every minute during the night,” one remembered of her hectic shifts. Another spoke about her initial trepidation on her first day: “I was struck, at first, with a fearful dread, for I never came in close contact with death but once in my life. But realizing what must be done, I quickly put on my gown and mask, and being assigned to the women’s ward, I began my duties.”

One would imagine that our present pandemic might be another opportunity for modern Catholic religious to display the heroism of their forebears. And perhaps we will eventually find out that that is the case, that they are out there helping the sick beat back this virus. Unfortunately we live in a time when people -- even priests -- are increasingly catechized in the religion of environmentalism. And the religion of environmentalism seems to be rooting for the virus.

Per example, on Monday the official news service of the Vatican published a short piece by a Jesuit priest named Benedict Mayaki entitled "Coronavirus: Earth's Unlikely Ally."

The article has since been taken down (though you can still read it in multiple languages here; scroll down for English) but if you've been following some of the nutty anti-human narrative the environmentalist movement has been doubling down on lately, you won't be surprised by what it says:

The reduction in human activity is having an unintended benefit: Earth is healing herself. It Italy, fish have returned to the canals in Venice. Less tourism and water transport have allowed the murky waters to settle... China, the world's largest carbon emitter, now has a significant decrease in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air. NASA attributes this to the decline of economic and industrial activities during the coronavirus outbreak....

The global reduction in air, land and sea travel is yielding benefits for the planet as carbon emission sees a projected decline. Air travel alone contributes more than two percent of global carbon emissions.

Imagine an Italian-based website publishing an article like that at a time when Italy is being ravaged, when almost 100,000 Italians are infected and over 10,000 have died. And as far as China is concerned, while we don't have any idea what their numbers actually are. They do seem to be stockpiling urns, even as they claim that they've gotten the virus under control. Maybe Father Benedict should be a little more sensitive to the human cost of this crisis.

Strictly speaking, this is what the Church used to call paganism. Mother Gaia has been suffering from the human virus for too long, so she made us a bowl of bat soup and now she's "healing herself." Lots of hip publications are making a similar case. It's just a little disturbing to see the Vatican so "on trend." Then again, this is what Pope Francis had to say in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato si: "Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years."