The GOP's Green New Deal?

There's an old joke to the effect that Republicans are just Democrats who want their policies implemented slowly. This has certainly been the case throughout most of my life, though I'm starting to wonder if it's still accurate. That is, it increasingly seems to me that Republicans have closed the gap, and desire all sorts of revolutions on the same timeline as Democrats.

You get a sense of this from the outcomes of and reactions to the recent slate of Supreme Court decisions coming out these past few weeks. Not just the fact that the suddenly-reliable-liberal John Roberts pulled a novel constitutional principle out of his hat, namely that an executive order cannot be undone by another executive order ( at least if it deals with illegal immigration) unless he satisfies the Supreme Court that his motives are pure, and that -- under the largely imaginary doctrine of "stare decisis" -- a case that he dissented from just four years ago, established a strong enough precedent that it can never be overturned. Nor just the precedent-setting decision in Bostock authored by Trump's prized Scalia replacement, Neil Gorsuch, which legally redefined the word "sex" to include meanings which would never have occurred to the authors of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (It isn't for nothing that Justice Alito said, in his dissent, “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.”)

More than those examples is the relief they seemed to have occasioned among the Republican elites like Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, the latter of whom responded to Bostock by saying "It's the law of the land. And it.... probably negates Congress's necessity for acting." Oh good.

Another counter-example: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has announced his support for a new conservative climate plan. Though it claims to be an attempt to move the climate conversation beyond Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, its proposals read like the GND for squares. It eschews "debilitating taxes or punitive mandates," but calls for investment in new technologies which will reduce carbon emissions, including currently not-super-effective carbon-capture technology. Most notably, it calls for the U.S. to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, putting the GOP leadership on exactly the same timeline as the Democrats.

This is clearly designed to win millennials over to the GOP, but something tells me that even the Harry Potter generation aren't gullible enough to fall for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 without mandating anyone to do anything. "Bring on the cow-fart bans," they'll say.

So maybe that joke has outlived its usefulness. Then again, the left are currently tearing down statues and ex post facto cancelling people for decades-old politically incorrect statements, which seems to indicate that Democrats desire for change has sped up from "Right Now" to "Yesterday," so perhaps it still stands.

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.

Les Miserables

In George Bernard Shaw’s Play, Misalliance, a young socialist bursts into a upper-class weekend party  waving a gun, and after a good deal of Shavian talk he’s persuaded to postpone revolution for a square meal in the kitchen by the kindly matriarch of the household. Before he is diverted, however, he challenges a retired colonial governor to say how he would deal with the New Socialist Man of the future, like himself, who rejects all the conventional rules of the political game. The governor explains matter-of-factly that he would tip off an ambitious policeman that he was a bit of a troublemaker who should be watched and then wait patiently for the policeman to provoke him into a fight and an arrest.

“Why, that’s disgraceful,” responds the anarchist indignantly. The governor replies that in the game of anarchism the police can always beat the anarchist.

Almost invariably, that is true. Revolutions are the exception, and even they conform to the governor’s cynical insight when they succeed, because the police reappear soon after the new order is established, are given greater powers by the new post-anarchist authorities, and arrest the few remaining anarchists. See the history of the early Soviet Union passim.

What we’re at present witnessing is the spread of anarchism in the United States and, less violently so far, in the United Kingdom: mobs rushing around, pulling down statues, attacking people they believe to be “racists” (maybe because they’re wearing a baseball cap), demanding conformity to their  revolutionary slogans, and visibly flouting the authority of governments and local authority. The pulling down of statues—historically known as iconoclasm—is a traditional accompaniment to religious or political revolution that symbolizes the defenestration of one set of rulers and their replacement by a new set.

The role of the police in these events is especially significant. As the guardians of order, supposedly politically impartial, they are expected to restrain and suppress riots and destruction of lives and property. Against these disorders they seem pulled in three different directions Those in Seattle have been instructed by local authorities that are politically sympathetic to the rioters to allow them to establish “no-go” areas outside the law; those in Atlanta may be resigning or simply looking the other way when crimes are committed because they feel the local authorities are making them scapegoats for incidents of law enforcement that went wrong; and those in London seem to have decided on their own initiatives that policing by consent means the consent of the rioters and have accordingly tried to appease them. In all these cases the citizens can no longer rely with confidence on the normal assumption that the police will protect them and their property. Anarchy reigns.

At some point if the anarchy does not lead to an actual revolution, it will either fizzle out or be stopped by police or military force. The 1968 manifestations in Paris were stopped when the Army made it plain it would intervene if necessary, the bourgeois supporters of de Gaulle mounted their own massive manifestations in Paris, and the Gaullists won a landslide in the subsequent elections.

But the spirit of anarchy cannot be confined in a box marked public order. It seeps out into all aspects of our lives—I’ve mentioned iconoclasm as its symbolic representation in the arts. Jihadists have destroyed “pagan idols,” i.e., Buddhist images, in Asia. Feminists in recent years have been imitating the Victorians in putting bras on Greek statues and stockings on piano legs in official settings. And the removal of statues of national heroes such as George Washington, as well as leading abolitionists, on the grounds of “slavery,” shows that the real motive force of this particular anarchistic drive is to replace the United States, founded circa 1776, with a new American state.

More important than iconoclasm, however, is antinomianism which is the rejection of all laws, customs, and informal rules in all fields of human behaviour including, significantly, science, law, and morality. Their removal gives the anarchist a thrill of liberation when first antinomianism breaks forth. But since it’s in the nature of man that, as Burke said, he must have rules to govern him, and if they don’t come from within in the form of customs and practices, they will come from without in the form of politically-imposed new “truths” on the arts and sciences.

Seattle, 2020

It’s a two-stage process: first, we liberate ourselves from the old laws that confine our imaginations to what science and experience tell us is true and practicable; second, we replace them with rules that reflect the wishes and interests of the powerful—who are not always politicians and ministers but sometimes in periods of decaying political authority, the mob or its allies. The political mob made its first appearance in Paris during the French revolution, but it has come and gone many times since then, and it’s presently most powerful in Seattle and Portland.

Taken together these two stages produce the replacement of professional rules and ethics by political values and authority in all fields. It can be a slow process, especially in science, and it begins modestly, but the final stages often have seasoned professionals accepting new rules they would once have denounced or regarded as simply too absurd to bother denouncing. The old professional rules of American journalism that you followed the truth where it led by examining fairly the claims of all sides in a dispute have collapsed entirely—and that collapse began long before Donald Trump was elected President. It has reached its apogee in the recent decision of the New York Times to publish the deceptive and false 1619 Project not as one account of many historical accounts of the birth of America but as the sole acceptable truth (though it comes to us less from history than from critical race theory which is constructed so as to negate any criticism of its own criteria.) Its principal author has just welcomed the spreading anarchy as a vindication of the Times project, which is now to be taught in American high schools.

Examine now this sinister drift from the rules of scientific truth to the imperatives of political anti-science which we might call the Lysenko Imperative, or “What the Party says is Science is Science”:

  1. There is a replication crisis in science. For the last decade it has become an open or grumbling scandal that a very high number of scientific experiments cannot be replicated, which means that the original findings are invalid. Since a great number of findings are not tested for replication in this way, that implies much more uncertainty about scientific findings than we tend to assume. Replications are far lower in psychology (50 per cent) especially social psychology (25 per cent), and in medicine than in other fields. In the last few days, for instance, a study by Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford found that they could not replicate the results in 13 of the 15 studies purporting to support the two-metre distancing rule in SARs and Covid-19 cases and concluded that “poor quality research is being used to justify a policy with enormous consequences for us all.”
  2. Much of the writing on both pollution and global warming emphasizes that these problems constitute a crisis or an emergency requiring urgent action to reduce carbon emissions and other “pollutants.” Time and again the dates for which catastrophe was confidently predicted have passed without grave occurrences. No apologies have been offered, and no signs given that the forecasters were reconsidering the theories on which their forecasts were based. Like the replication crisis, the prediction crisis is a scientific scandal unless it is seriously addressed. The latest warning of this erosion of scientific standard comes from Professor Ole Humlum, who looks at the empirical observations of climate science (as distinct from computer modelling) and finds that in most respects, including some surprising ones, things are getting better. He points out  that new data on rising ocean temperatures raise interesting questions about the source of the heat. “We can detect a great deal of heat rising from the bottom of the oceans. This obviously cannot be anything to do with human activity. So although people say the oceans are warming, in reality there is still much to learn.” But that will depend on the willingness of scientists committed to the conventional view of global warming as something driven by human activity to question or moderate their outlook in the light of this disturbingly optimistic evidence.
  3. Where will these trends end up? As is already the case with the social sciences, the future of science could be its transformation into the political hopes of activist groups within the profession committed to views that reject traditional scientific rules as obstructions to their visions. "Feminist science" and "transgender science" both confront traditional biology as a hostile “essentialism” and treat those who disagree more as political enemies than as fellow-scientists. A more radical critique is mounted by those who want to decolonize "white science" (i.e., science)  by granting at least equal scientific authority to indigeneous religious world views. A journey around this set of ideas—or “new ways of knowing”-- is conducted by Lenny Pier Ramos in the current Quillette. It is a journey into the past and into pre-modern mind-set. “ I pushed this point and asked Dr. Tajmel [a leading proponent of this decolonization] if her project did not, ultimately, amount to the reintroduction of religion in science. She responded, without missing a beat, that science itself was a form of a religion."

Mr. Ramos reflects that given these trends it seems only a matter of time before Science and Nature get on board with that idea. It sounds alarmist but absurd. Yet we would once have thought the same of the "1619 Project" and the New York Times. And that's before the arrival of, first, the mob, and then the new policeman.

Welcome to 476 A.D.

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

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

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

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

So who is Romulus Augustulus, you ask?

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

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

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

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

End of the line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Deep State Goes Green

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

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

Case in point:

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

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

'What Is Climate Change?'

That's the question posed by the all-activism all-the-time BBC in Britain. Some of us fondly remember the days when the Beeb meant I, Claudius or various adaptation of 19th-century English novels, but now it's devolved into a tiresome Leftist scold, trying to frighten the children and mental defectives into believe the world is coming to an end:

In order to believe this arrant hooey, you must believe that CO2 keeps the planet from freezing but at the same time -- because of "an incredibly delicate balance" that seems to have evolved entirely by chance -- you're just going to have to take it on faith that we humans are bollixing everything up: and all in just 50 years! The fact that half a century is just about within the lifetimes of everybody reading this post is entirely coincidental, of course, because like the Holy Ghost, "you can't see it, you can't smell it, but it's actually all around us, and it's at the heart of our climate crisis."

The key to understanding the Religion of Climate Change is making you believe that you are the problem. That's why they're so insistent upon locating this "crisis" within living memory.

Here's more coordinated harum-scarum with an English accent. (Weasel words, as always here at The Pipeline, are highlighted in bold.) Notice how, at the outset, "global warming" -- we're back to that again -- is immediately linked to another phantom menace, Covid-19:

While Covid-19 has shaken much of human society, the threat posed by global warming has not gone away. Human activities have increased carbon dioxide emissions, driving up temperatures. Extreme weather and melting polar ice are among the possible effects.

The Earth's average temperature is about 15C but has been much higher and lower in the past. There are natural fluctuations in the climate but scientists say temperatures are now rising faster than at many other times. This is linked to the greenhouse effect, which describes how the Earth's atmosphere traps some of the Sun's energy. Solar energy radiating back to space from the Earth's surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions.

Oh-oh!

This heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface of the planet. Without this effect, the Earth would be about 30C colder and hostile to life. Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect, with gases released from industry and agriculture trapping more energy and increasing the temperature. This is known as climate change or global warming.

Note the Note at the bottom of the graph: "Average is calculated from 1951-1980 land surface temperature data." Why not calculate the "average" from say, 476 A.D. and the Fall of the Roman Empire to the turn of the sixth century? Wouldn't that be just as representative of what the ideal "average" ought to be? Cherry-picking a 29-year period within most of our lifetimes is sure to make some point -- but "warming" isn't it. Global-warming "science" is like taking the batting average of a marginal player on a hot streak in spring training and projecting it out over the course of a ten-year major league career.

But that doesn't stop the Beeb or the other climate-change nutters, of course, who are now frightening the horses with images of the volume of sea water swelling as it heats up, soon to overrun all the world's major land masses. Where's Noah when we need him?

There is uncertainty about how great the impact of a changing climate will be. It could cause fresh water shortages, dramatically alter our ability to produce food, and increase the number of deaths from floods, storms and heatwaves. This is because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events -- though linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

No kidding! But as long as we're on the subject, warming/change will affect the poor and people of color hardest, so why not give up beef you selfish bastards and stop using fossil fuels to move about and heat your houses because as warming/cooling/change happens you're going to be plenty warm/cold anyway and so just die already and save us the trouble of killing you.

They didn't actually say that. But you know they mean it.

Prediction of Economic Recovery Terrifies Dems

It looks like we're getting to the other side of this pandemic, with lock-down orders easing up and restrictions on everyday activities being lifted, with and without masks. One sign that things are returning to normal is that people's minds are turning away from daily case numbers and towards the election in the fall. To that end, Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and one of Barack Obama's senior economic advisors, gave a presentation to the Democratic party's top strategists a few weeks ago, and what he had to say absolutely shocked them:

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country," he said.... “Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever....

Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”

Maybe I've missed something, but the above sounds to me like.... good news. But I suppose that's because I'm not running for president with the hopes of hanging a new Great Depression on the incumbent.

Furman stressed that he was speaking “in gross terms, not in net terms,” which is to say that the "V shaped" recovery he was predicting wouldn't leave us better off than we were before the pandemic. The economy would look great compared to the depths of the April and May, but we would still be in rough shape. This, of course, is a difficult message to boil down into a campaign slogan or a meme, which is why the Dems are so anxious about it.

At the same time, it should serve as a rallying cry for the Right. Just a few months ago, when we were riding an incredible economic wave with low taxes and low unemployment, the Democrats were arguing that we should be willing to risk our prosperity on their ideological program. Here's Jim Geraghty on that point:

Back during one of the debates, Tim Alberta of Politico asked Biden, “As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing potentially that it could displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?” Biden responded, “The answer is yes. The answer is yes, because the opportunity — the opportunity for those workers to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom said, is real.”

Biden pledged “no new fracking” during a debate, then walked it back; he wants to set a price on carbon to be used for either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade; Biden endorsed California’s AB5, the anti-“gig” law; he would raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, and he insists he can raise taxes by $4 trillion over the next decade, without raising taxes on anyone making $400,000 per year or less.

If the economy is heading in the right direction in the fall -- if jobs are coming back and the stock market is up -- but hasn't quite recovered, should we really trust Joe Biden to prioritize getting us back where we need to be, rather than handing over his domestic policy to the Green Blob? His recent pledge to kill the Keystone XL pipeline if he's elected doesn't inspire confidence.

Coral Reefs to 'Global Warming': Bring It On

Nature always find a way:

Some coral reefs are adapting to warming ocean temperatures by making their own sunscreen in the form of bright neon colors — a strategy which invites coral animals to return to reefs and is seen as a critical adaptation to maintain healthy coral reefs around the world.

In a study published in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the University of Southampton detail a series of controlled laboratory experiments they conducted at their coral aquarium facility. In the experiments, “colorful” coral bleaching events cause coral to produce a layer of vibrant sunscreen which encourages the coral animals vital to a mutually beneficial “symbiosis” relationship to return to coral habitats they abandon due to the effects of warming oceans.

In the experiments, “colorful” coral bleaching events cause coral to produce a layer of vibrant sunscreen, which encourages the coral animals vital to a mutually beneficial “symbiosis” relationship to return to coral habitats they abandon due to the effects of warming oceans.

Come on down!

On the "green" Left, any change is a zero-sum game; for a bunch of radicals, they about as conservative a group as one can find. It never seems to occur to them, however, that most species have the power of adaptation to changing conditions, especially over time -- which is why, for example, human beings can survive and prosper everywhere from Scandinavia to central Africa, and all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, where the next stop south from the resort town of Ushuaia is Antarctica.

Here's how the coral reefs do it:

Many coral animals live with tiny algae embedded in their cells — it’s a fragile symbiotic relationship where the algae gain shelter, carbon dioxide and nutrients while the coral receives photosynthetic products to fulfill their energy needs.

When the ocean’s temperature rises, the symbiosis breaks down and the algae are lost, causing the coral’s white limestone skeleton to shine through and be damaged via coral bleaching. The condition can be fatal to coral — when its live tissue is gone and its skeleton is exposed to erosion, an entire coral reef can break down in a few years, causing the biodiversity that relies on its complex structure to fall apart in the process.

But some coral undergoes colorful coral bleaching — emitting a range of different bright neon colors — derived from photoprotective green fluorescent protein-like pigments produced by the coral host. The colorful adaptation could prove vital for overcoming the fatal coral bleaching incidents that have threatened coral reefs worldwide. But the colorful coral bleaching — rather than the whitskeleton exposure of common coral bleaching events — is believed to take place due to mild ocean warming or disturbances in their nutrient environment, rather than extreme events.

The study notes that the reefs adapt best to slow changing condition, not apocalyptic events, so no sweet meteors o' death, please. But it does show that if we continue to manage ourselves responsibly, the ever-changing nature of real, evolutionary climate change will take its course, without any hysteria from the "climate-change" crew.

'GOP Out of Touch on Climate Change'

Former Pennsylvania governor, Homeland Security secretary, and current enviro-lobbyist Tom Ridge has published an article at The Atlantic arguing that his fellow Republicans are behind the curve on environmentalism. After opening the piece with a maudlin reflection on the fact that we all should have been celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd, but that the COVID-19 pandemic kept us from doing so (for the first time I was able to connect with the Libs who've been rooting for the virus), Ridge states:

The Republican Party has largely abandoned environmental issues—to its great detriment politically. Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, such as protecting water and air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center finds that Democrats mostly agree that the U.S. government should do more on climate. Republicans are divided by ideology, age, and gender; moderates, Millennials, and women within the party are far more likely than conservatives, older Republicans, and men to favor more federal action. More and more, the GOP as a whole seems out of touch on this crucial issue.

This assertion is questionable. Gallup has actually just released a new poll attempting to document how Americans priorities the challenges facing our country, and the data for April, respondents put Climate Change at the bottom of the list, tied for dead last in importance. Now, of course, April is a bit of a skewed month, with the pandemic understandably taking first place and sucking up all the oxygen. Even so, it is worth noting that in the previous months surveyed, "climate change" only barely misses last place.

Heartland Institute president James Taylor, commenting on this data, rightly points out that "People have a vague, general desire for policymakers to pay attention to climate change," but when there's any question of the bill coming due -- he also mentions polling which suggests that support for Green initiatives collapses when respondents are asked if they'd be willing to pay an extra $100 per month for them -- they completely change their tune.

To Ridge's credit, he makes a few points which might make his new friends at The Atlantic uncomfortable, saying "I continue to support policies that embrace all sources of energy, including natural gas, which has lowered our dependence on coal. I also support nuclear power, the largest around-the-clock provider of carbon-free energy." But he follows that up with a lament that his "conservative friends have been reluctant to join me in supporting renewable technologies such as wind and solar." Perhaps because his conservative friends are aware that wind and solar are boondoggles which might help gullible Liberals sleep better at night, but they certainly don't benefit the environment. Then again, maybe his friends would come around if they were paid lobbyists for the renewable energy industry, like Ridge.

All of which is to say, if anyone is out of touch with American voters, its Tom Ridge.

Man is Not the Measure of All Things

The sophist philosopher Protagoras is known for having said,  “Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not.” There are certainly several ways to interpret this, but I see it from a modern perspective as a foolish claim for the primacy of subjective truth. This  notion  has led us to catastrophic wastes of resources. At the moment these fortunes are being wasted battling a new virus the transmission and treatment for which there was no empirical evidence and trying to control the weather for which there is little evidence of anthropogenic cause or resolution. We conflate hypothetical models for empirical fact. Perhaps Protagoras meant it as a claim for a moral life, regardless of laws or prevailing religious beliefs. In reality today, it is a pernicious concept that belief, absent evidence, is all that matters.

My email folder contains a blurb from the Economist repeating the claim that the lockdown, ostensibly needed to halt the spread of the corona virus, provides a new opportunity to reduce fossil fuels:

Our cover this week calls for a global effort to tackle climate change. Covid-19 creates a unique chance to steer the economy away from carbon at a much lower financial, social and political cost than before. Rock-bottom energy prices make it easier to cut subsidies for fossil fuels and to introduce a tax on carbon. The revenues from that tax can help repair battered government finances. The businesses at the heart of the fossil-fuel economy—oil and gas firms, steel producers, carmakers—are already going through the agony of shrinking their long-term capacity and employment. Getting economies back on their feet calls for investment in climate-friendly infrastructure that boosts growth and creates new jobs. Low interest rates make the bill smaller than ever. The world should seize the moment.

Yes, indeed, the smart set at the Economist have it nailed: With people struggling to survive massive unemployment, certain scarcity, rising prices, and social welfare costs, they’ll welcome even higher fuel costs and the multiplier effect of the raises, all to make us reliant on unreliable and more expensive energy. The Brits seem to have a penchant for modeling miscalculation. Despite their scary projections about the fatality rate of the virus it appears, says Dr. John Ioannidis, that “At a very broad, bird’s eye view level, worldwide the IFR [infection fatality rate] of Covid-19 this season may be in the same ballpark as the IFR of influenza.”

On the other hand, even California governor Gavin Newsom was just forced to kill his “green new deal” in large part, because the enormous costs and revenue loss to California, a result of his stay-at-home statewide order, made California’s bizarre budgeting even more untenable. That disaster was based on the same British-born modeling as his green new deal. At the beginning of the year he proposed a $12 billion “climate budget” for a state already deeply in the red with an aging, decrepit infrastructure, a failing but lavish government pension scheme, and enormous social costs (including payments to thousands of illegal aliens welcomed into his sanctuary state). Someone must have shown him the balance book, and with an already projected deficit of $54.3 billion exacerbated by his statewide lockdown , he had to withdraw that scheme.

The Brits are certainly not alone in fantastical thinking. CNN reported this week that the sun is experiencing a “solar minimum.” This hot news was hardly unanticipated. The earth has been always subject to solar cycles, and the minimum was predicted to come about soon for years. People not wedded to subjective interpretations of weather, consider this: there are as many as 18 observed variables determining the earth’s climate, and hardly any of them depend on human activity: precipitation; surface pressure; surface radiation; surface wind and direction; near surface temperature; surface water vapor; earth radiation; lightening; upper air temperature; upper air vapor; cloud properties; upper air wind speed and direction; aerosol properties; carbon   dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases; ozone; precursors (supporting the aerosol and ozone. I think there are even more likely candidates for variables, for example, meteors hitting the earth, volcanoes, the variations in the earth’s orbits and  rotations-- and  doubtless there are other such effects we are as yet unaware of,and can neither influence nor alter.

As as my friend, James Lewis explained lucidly thirteen years ago, "climate science" is an immature discipline trying to deal with “hypercomplex systems.” It is completely “model dependent” and  full of surprises.

Now imagine that all the variables about global climate are known with less than 100 percent certainty. Let's be wildly and unrealistically optimistic and say that climate scientists know each variable to 99 percent certainty! (No such thing, of course). And let's optimistically suppose there are only one-hundred x's, y's, and z's --- all the variables that can change the climate: like the amount of cloud cover over Antarctica, the changing ocean currents in the South Pacific, Mount Helena venting, sun spots, Chinese factories burning more coal every year, evaporation of ocean water (the biggest "greenhouse" gas), the wobbles of earth orbit around the sun, and yes, the multifarious fartings of billions of living creatures on the face of the earth, minus, of course, all the trillions of plants and algae that gobble up all the CO2, nitrogen-containing molecules, and sulfur-smelling exhalations spewed out by all of us animals. Got that? It all goes into our best math model.

So in the best case, the smartest climatologist in the world will know 100 variables, each one to accuracy of 99 percent. Want to know what the probability of our spiffiest math model would be, if that perfect world existed?  Have you ever multiplied (99/100) by itself 100 times? According to the Google calculator, it equals a little more than 36.6 percent. The Bottom line: our best imaginable model has a total probability of one out of three. How many billions of dollars in Kyoto money are we going to spend on that chance?

We just impoverished ourselves based on hypothetical models out of Britain on Covid-19; are we to further reduce ourselves to satisfy yet another British hypothetical model out of Imperial College?

The last ice age ended about 40,000 years ago, when an increase in methane in our atmosphere led to fast rising temperatures just to give you an idea of how just one of these variables effects climate. The sun, which seems to have just peeped over CNN’s horizon now that their Russian fantasy has been laughed off the stage, alternates regularly between high and low sunspot numbers, usually on an 11-year cycle. The best guess is that this time the minimum will last to 2025. Like predicting the climate of the earth, predicting the sun’s activity and—more important to humans, its effect on us -- is difficult. We can only make estimates based on observations, but CNN asserts it definitely won’t spark another ice age because of “climate change.”

"The warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels is six times greater than the possible decades-long cooling from a prolonged Grand Solar Minimum," they wrote. "Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun's output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions."

Wait. What?  “Human-induced greenhouse gas emissions” will save us from another ice age? Just two months ago, CNN was reporting that millions were suffering from climate change, and greenhouse emissions were to blame. Their source? The same Imperial College that gave us the absurdly overhyped Corona-19 virus fatality projections:

"Given that greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, the warming will continue. A recent decadal forecast indicates that a new annual global temperature record is likely in the next five years. It is a matter of time," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Climate change is making these extremes more common. This latest report serves as a valuable mile-marker of the climate crisis. Without climate action, populations around the globe can expect to see continued disruptions to their everyday lives.

"This report is a catalogue of weather in 2019 made more extreme by climate change, and the human misery that went with it," according to Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College in London and not associated with the WMO State of the Climate. "It points to a threat that is greater to our species than any known virus -- we must not be diverted from the urgency of tackling it by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible."

You have to be nuts to imagine that CO2 and not the sun or the many other variables, including the variations in our blue globe’s rotations and orbits, determines our climate.

A far more reliable source than Imperial College projections is the known record that for some time now solar sunspots at each minimum have been growing weaker. The year 1913 was notable for the lowest number of recorded sunspots “on the order of 311 days” and that year was “filled with wild weather extremes including the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth in Death Valley, CA.” Similarly, cosmic rays from solar activity, to take another variable out of our reach to manage, seem from observational studies to have a far greater impact on climate than CO2.

There’s money and power to be gained from projecting and peddling rank disinformation, so you can be sure that every wild weather extreme modeled by the now discredited Imperial College studies will be promoted by the Economist and the popular press as evidence of climate change requiring vast infusions of capital to control. Those who still find them credible will take those changes as proof  we must  stop using fossil fuels. What we need is more people reminding us that we're simply not that important in the cosmic scheme of things.