Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Hardworking

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

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

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

All work and no play, that's productivity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fake oil?” I asked.

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

April Fools, protecting the planet. (Sky News)

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

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

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

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

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

Ding-ding. Instagram calling.

In the Union Halls, Strange Bedfellows

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At what point to labor unions finally figure out that the Democrat Party is not their friend, that modern Democrats are anti-capitalist, anti-working class socialists of at least the limousine-liberal variety, and that members of the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition are simply not to be trusted with vital matters of public policy, especially at election time?

Such reflections arise after reading this Politico story, in which once again the blind and the gullible have fallen for Joe Biden & His Media Robinettes:

Biden's green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs

President Joe Biden touted his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a "once-in-a-generation" effort to tackle climate change while creating millions of "good paying jobs." Some unions warn that it may ultimately cost a lot of jobs, too.

Labor groups, echoed by Republicans in Congress, are cautioning that Biden's plan to hitch the jobs recovery to massive green energy investment could backfire because of the quality of employment it will create and the economic devastation it could cause on rural communities.

The president's push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they'll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating.

"The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. "We're not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, 'OK, that's where I'm gonna fit in.'"

Well, how about that! The chimera of "clean energy" should always be read as "bogus energy," not to mention "no jobs." One of the lies behind the claims of "renewable" energy is the implication that such energy will always be readily available and will take next to no effort to extract from Mother Gaia. The wind blows and the sun shines most every day, right? And once your solar panels and scenery-disfiguring windmills are up and running, presto!

It's witchcraft...

No more brutal rape of the virgin Earth. No more big sweaty men with dirty paws and grimy fingernails laboring in claustrophobic coal mines or broiling in the west Texas oilfield. Why, this is energy that even the most fastidious Ivy League poetaster can be proud of: just flip a light switch and you're good to go. Why, you can even plug in your electric car as you would a toaster and know that while your muffin is browning up the Earth has begun healing.

The complaints underscore the difficulty Biden will have in pursuing his two most ambitious goals: reviving the labor market by generating millions of jobs for unions — which traditionally thrive in old-line industries — and transforming the U.S. into a clean economy where electric vehicles and battery storage replace coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources.

Difficulty? Impossibility is more like it. There aren't "millions of jobs" lurking in "green" technology, except may in dumping the wind turbines at the bottom of the Marianas Trench when civilized people finally wake up to the environmental destruction they've created in the name of... preventing environmental destruction.

Environmentalists defend the plan as a necessary move away from old technologies to battle climate change. And others say Biden's plan does include tax incentives for manufacturing and a vision for developing a supply chain that could provide the kind of blue-collar, high-skill jobs that used to be in power plants.

Note the operative words in bold. Any story that includes the word "could" in a context of advocacy is lying to you: the word should be "won't."

While unions are strongly supportive of the administration's pro-labor stance, they worry that the end-goal — if not executed properly — could have devastating effects on their members. “From our perspective, if the jobs aren't there when the mine closes, this plan fails," Smith said. "There's a very large disconnect between what the aspirations are here and what's going to end up actually happening on the ground.”

Biden fought to bring white, blue-collar workers back into the Democratic fold after the party lost them to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, and the administration is seeking to prove that this can be both the most pro-labor and anti-carbon presidency in history. But the reality may prove troublesome.

Ya think? Oh well, sin -- or vote -- in haste, repent at leisure. And learn to code, because unless traditional sources of energy production survive, union members will be looking for new jobs in the great green near-future.

The Electric-Vehicle Booglaoo

Lawrence M Friedman, an expert in legal history and property law, was one of my favorite law professors. As a student at the University of Chicago and its law school, he had been part of the Second City cast with Elaine May and Mike Nichols, and it you think there’s no way someone can make the subject of property law engaging, you haven’t had a class with Professor Friedman. An author of a number of books (including fiction) he said something in his work, “The Horizontal Society,” which strikes me as particular appropriate as the Biden administration rolls out its fantasy energy and infrastructure plans:

The average citizen, who has no idea how... a refrigerator works. still feels that scientists, if they worked hard enough, could cure AIDS or the common cold, or get electric power out of turnip juice, or send a satellite zooming off to Pluto.

No better example of this sort of fantasy thinking can be found in the plan to transform the auto industry. And no better example can be found of the way lunatic ideas and the greedy grab by myriad interests for federal funds for ridiculous projects can be found than this one.

Like plugging in a toaster!

On March 29 something called the Alliance for Automotive Innovation , an alliance of auto manufacturers, supplies and the United Auto Workers wrote to the President  supporting the shift to electric-drive vehicles. Like courtiers praising the emperor’s new clothes, the Alliance dubs the Biden plan a “bold, comprehensive vision and innovation that will place the U.S. at the forefront of creating a cleaner future for motor vehicle transformation.” 

Then it goes on to the cost (certainly just a down payment  for something that will cost even more). It turns the notion of supply and demand on its head, seeking funds to first create demand and then to supply the products for the demand they just created. It is slathered with blather like “we need a comprehensive plan that takes present market realties [only about 2 percent of 14.5 million worth of new vehicle sales were for electric vehicles] as well as the on-going investment and innovation in internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies."

Ignoring the spin we see a bottom line that stretches out endlessly and pays off all the Democrat interest groups it can possibly grease. Here's what they want on the demand side: 

Increasing demand, however, will not increase the supply without yet more federal largesse. So here’s what they want to do to increase the supply:

  1. Expand tax credits to allow manufacturers  to “retool, expand, or build new facilities for the manufacturing, recycling, of these vehicles, batteries, fuel cells, components and infrastructure."
  2. Expand the domestic manufacturing conversion grant program to accelerate  the needed technologies.
  3. Develop (presumably through more federal money or tax credits)   extraction, processing and recycling of the critical minerals needed for these vehicles (now mostly imported from China).
  4. Research and development grants  for new innovation “that will make the zero-emission future a reality."
  5. Grants and loans  for advanced technology.
  6. Training and development programs to “upskill” the work force.
  7. New investment tax credits for hydrogen production and storage.
  8. Grants to “reequip, expand, and establish facilities for the manufacturing of clean energy technologies and components."

The cost of these ambitious efforts is predicted at the very end of this wish list: $4-12 billion in the tax-credit expansion alone and another $12-25 billion for manufacturing conversion. I don’t think this covers more than a fraction of what this proposal suggests. Do you?

No fumes, no worries, no explosions!

On the other hand, I've reread it several times, and besides scratching my head at the new economics in which we are asked to create and greatly fund a non-existent demand to deal with a non-existent problem ("climate change") and then to create a fount of new funds to meet this confected demand. Puzzling.

More puzzling in this paean to electric vehicles is the absence of the need for more electric power production. Not one word of it. Toyota’s president  is one auto manufacturing leader skeptical of the entire notion of massively increasing electric vehicles:

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said Japan would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power. The infrastructure needed to support a fleet consisting entirely of EVs would cost Japan between ¥14 trillion and ¥37 trillion, the equivalent of $135 billion to $358 billion, he said.

“When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?” Mr. Toyoda said Thursday at a year-end news conference in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Toyota is a leader in hybrid autos and has no small experience to back up their president’s concerns.

In what was undoubtedly a rare moment of reality, the Washington Post  acknowledged the increased amount of electric energy these “clean cars” need is energy produced almost entirely by fossil fuels now that in this country atomic energy has been so reduced.

How much more electricity will be needed for electric cars? About 150,000 electric vehicles were sold in California in 2018 — 8 percent of all state car sales. The state projects that electric vehicles will consume 5.4 percent of the state's electricity, or 17,000 gigawatt hours, by 2030.

California, for one, doesn’t have sufficient capacity to meet existing demand, and there are no plans I know of in the works to increase it. 

There’s one more thing radically wrong with this blinkered notion that substituting more expensive transportation and servicing it when conventional transportation and the means to fuel it is cheaper, more readily available, and requires no enormous outlays to continue.

Unless someone comes up fast with a way to create electric power for electric vehicles from turnip juice, a transportation policy that has at its core an enormous switch to electric vehicles without a substantial increase in electric power production is, on its face, insane.

No More Cakes and Ale

The world we once regarded as normal no longer exists. If certain powerful figures in the political and medical communities have their will, we will never return to the way things were. As Klaus Schwab states in his book,  COVID-19: The Great Reset, “Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never.”

This is surely bad enough. It is perhaps even more alarming that many people don’t seem to care that their world is collapsing, an attitude that only hastens the collapse. They no longer believe in their culture, their nation, and the formative values of the Judeo-Christian West, having succumbed to civilizational fatigue. “A civilization can survive only if its members… believe in its basic values,” writes Joel Kotkin in The Coming of Neo-Feudalism. “Today our key institutions…reject many of the fundamental ideals that have long defined Western culture.” 

This is a pan-historical dilemma. As Arthur Bryant points out in his fascinating The Study of England: Makers of the Realm, a major reason for the decay of Rome lay in “a lack of faith and hope,” the gradual demoralization of a people seeing “no purpose either in society or their own lives,” indifferent to their history, disdainful of learning, lacking “individual character,” and recognizing no “ideal strong enough to inspire the masses to perform duty.” The result is despondency and self-despising, and I would hazard the suggestion that, mutatis mutandis, the analogy holds for the contemporary West as well.

Look out below!

Indeed, there seems at times to be a masochistic contentment with the prospect of the end of normal civilized life. A community is being created, writes Charles Murray in Coming Apart, characterized by “weak social capital” where “the small daily pleasures of friendly exchange with neighbors and storekeepers dry up,” and the quality of life markedly decays.

And people are buying into it. One detects a certain frivolity of mind, the readiness and even eagerness to capitulate to a prevailing orthodoxy, in effect, a superficiality of thought, a dwindling of intellectual range, a loathing for the things we ignorantly take for granted and a perverse desire to see them taken from us.

In his recent book, The Decadent Society, Ross Douthat contends that in the midst of our presentiment of imminent cataclysm, we also paradoxically relish the approaching calamity as preferable to the sense of cultural disenchantment, “economic deceleration,” and affective sclerosis that silently afflicts us.

Writing in American Greatness, Alexander Zubetov is of the same mind. We live in a decaying culture, fueled by resentment “against the great achievements of our civilization’s past,” which we can no longer emulate. Lacking the “high ideals” of our forefathers, who rebuke us for our moral and intellectual degradation, “we lash out at those older generations for the distance they have left between ideal and reality.” Despairing of retrieval, we create a wasteland, reducing everything to rubble out of petty spite and a deep sense of personal inadequacy. We welcome lockdowns, economic collapse, censorship and even an emerging police state that will change our lives, perhaps irretrievably.

This is nothing unusual. We have been educated to hate our culture. As the student chant has it, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western civ has got to go.” But what is most interesting is not only the inverted schadenfreude of self-annihilation. One is also taken aback by the category of things some people are willing to surrender as a sign of their fortitude, thus furnishing a glimpse into the make-up of the progressivist personality, the objects it finds of unique importance, and the particular destitutions it is willing to undergo as it prepares for the emergent order of things. 

Suicide is painless.

For example, Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom warns, with a sort of delinquent glee, that the vaccines cannot keep up with viral mutations and that we must accustom ourselves to a future “of permanent change” in which we will no longer be able to visit hair salons or eat in restaurants. Walkom almost seems to revel in the prospect. Such amenities—the objects of his focus which he is sacrificially ready to do without—will be a thing of the past. 

I doubt it will quite come to that. The wheels are up and we still don’t know where we’re going to land. But be it as it may, or may not, such dire auguries tell us something about people like Walkom—those whom Douthat and Zubetov ruefully identified—who seem less concerned about the rest of the culture, of theater, movies, music (bands, symphonies, opera), museums, medical facilities, public lectures and exhibitions, visits to the zoo and the planetarium, sports events, in-class learning, celebratory gatherings, club outings, nature expeditions, pageants and parades, New Years’ Eve, Easter and Christmas festivities, chess tournaments, unencumbered travel to other countries and so on.

What we will miss most in the coming desolation, Walkom inadvertently informs us, is having one’s hair styled and eating out—these are the exuviae he sees fit to marshal—and concludes that “we prepare ourselves for a grim future.” 

He is right so far as it goes, a future without hair salons, and especially without restaurants, is pretty grim; there shall be no more cakes and ale. But a future without everything else, which he fails to even mention, is far grimmer. What we are calling into being, as Richard Ellis argues in The Dark Side of the Illiberal Egalitarianism in America, is a new imagined community of willful deprivation populated by “consumed souls,” who gird their loins, for example, to do without hair salons and restaurants. It’s like saying that what you most regret as you’re going down with the Titanic is the buffet and the barber shop. The rest is no big deal.

As for Walkom, he may resign himself to coiffing and trimming his own hair and content himself with Door Dash and Skip the Dishes to sweeten the grim future of mask mandates, enforced lockdowns, repressive officialdom, wide-ranging censorship and the end of normal life he is foreseeing. This is where compliance with collective authority rather than the exercise of political grit and independent thinking leads, to a weakening of sinew, a shallowness of both will and intellect, and a preoccupation with the comparatively banal.

We had it coming.

An alert population educated in its constitutional rights, aware of clinical precedents and hysterical mass irruptions, and capable of making intelligent choices would have seen through the charade and resisted rather than furthered the costly travesty that has been imposed on them. Regrettably, except for a brave and knowledgeable minority, this does not appear to be happening. 

When a free society collectively agrees to the surrender of its freedoms, undertakes to hasten its demise—Western civ has got to go—and concentrates on the relatively trivial in the process of its dismemberment, we are witnessing a failure of intelligence and a sapping of character, the besetting vices of the modern West, as they were, according to Bryant, the mortal defects of the Roman Empire. To rephrase T.S. Eliot from The Hollow Men, this is how the world ends, not with a bang but a simper.

'Climate Change' Boondoggle Upon Boondoggle

Shortly after his book Climate: The Counter Consensus was published in 2010, the late palaeoclimatologist and climate-change skeptic, Professor Bob Carter, told me that he thought that the tide was about to turn. The scientific consensus would be upturned. Reason would return. He was wrong.  Now, eleven years later, the climate-change juggernaut is well past the point of no return. Its anchor in science has become neither here nor there.

Temporarily recalcitrant; the Australian government is now part of the international posse chasing the chimera of zero emissions by 2050. It recently promulgated a technological roadmap to a low-emissions future. Five priority areas are identified: clean hydrogen, electricity storage, low emissions steel and aluminium production, carbon capture, and soil carbon sequestration. It’s fair to say that clean (aka green) hydrogen is the favoured child.

We in Australia are on a hydrogen high in momento. Andrew (“Twiggy”) Forest of Fortescue Metals, which exports huge quantities of iron ore to China, announced a massive research effort into producing green hydrogen and green steel. Green hydrogen is a product of using renewable forms of electricity, solar and wind, I imagine, to extract hydrogen from water. "Green" steel uses green hydrogen as an input instead of coking coal. Obviously, the process must also be powered by carbonless energy. It has to be a virtuous circle to be green and clean.

Fill 'er up!

Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained that getting the cost of hydrogen down is a key to zero-emissions by 2050. A national hydrogen strategy has been established. Australia aspires to international prominence in hydrogen power. What’s that, you say? Join the queue. Germany, France, Japan and Canada among numbers of others have similar aspirations. Can Joe Biden’s USA be far behind?

Not everything which is scientifically and technologically doable makes economic sense. Hydrogen power likely falls into that category. Extracting hydrogen from water takes a lot of power; and, non-trivially, a lot of water. Hydrogen is hard to handle and transport. Its conversion back to electricity via fuel cells is costly in terms of power loss.

When it comes to the use of hydrogen fuel cells in cars, Elon Musk is unequivocal. “Mind-boggling stupid,” he calls it. James Morris in Forbes concurs. Regardless, vehicle manufacturers will no doubt press on with R&D in search of breakthroughs.

My point, however, is not at all with forming a view on the economics of hydrogen power. Unlikely as it seems, a hydrogen revolution might possibly happen. Who knows? I certainly don’t know.

What I do know is that the worldwide effort to prove hydrogen will draw in billions of dollars, including from governments, and thousands upon thousands of researchers. It is yet another storey on top of the many already in place in response to so-called climate change. Boondoggle upon boondoggle. The edifice grows.

Whence did it start? Some suggest with Maurice Strong, the founding executive director of UNEP - the United Nations Environment Programme, established in 1972. Whatever its beginnings, political buy-in gave it impetus and funding. Politicians didn’t miss the opportunity to save the world. The edifice had its foundation.

At first, you might recall, action to combat ‘global warming’, as it was formerly called, was primarily wrapped around the ‘precautionary principle’. To wit, the outcome might be so bad that even a small probability of it occurring is unacceptable. That was never going to fly high enough to justify spending vast amounts of money and turning the world upside down. So, global warming inexorably morphed, as a purely political necessity, into imminent catastrophic climate change as a proven and established fact. Actions have kept pace with growing alarmism.

Green makes the world go 'round.

Myriads of committees, councils, associations and agencies supported by governments and international forums have been put in place. Subsidies and regulations abound. Alan Moran, puts the annual costs of climate-change polices in Australia at AU15 billion. That would of course pale when set against costs in the E.U., Japan and North America. Evidently, governments are willing to spend and regulate bigtime to cool the planet. In a saner King Canute-kinda world you’d ridicule their chutzpah.

Next comes the physical manifestations of subsidies. Upwards of 150 million solar panels littered the planet in 2019; 341,000 wind turbines despoiled the land and seascapes in 2017. The first number is my very-rough estimate (so query it by all means) based on installed capacity; the second is widely reported. The numbers will have since increased, though I couldn’t verify or update them by consulting the World Wind Energy Association or the Global World Energy Council or the International Energy Agency or the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Sorry, I gave up while knowing that there are many more energy bodies I could have consulted. No end to them. And now, on top, we can look forward to massive investments in hydrogen technology.

Best to draw breath and recall where this and everything else in the climate-change edifice comes from. It comes from a hypothesis, based principally on (tenuous and contested) modelling, that man-made CO2 has caused most warming since around 1975; and will go on warming the planet to an unsustainable extent, unless something is done and done urgently.

As Twiggy Forest puts it, “if we wait until 2050 to act, our planet will be toast.” Probably a misprint. I doubt AOC or Al Gore, or David Attenborough or Prince Charles would be relaxed about waiting anytime close to 2050. Twiggy might reflect and replace 2050 with 2030.

Good luck.

Imagine: new incontrovertible evidence comes to light. The received scientific wisdom is mistaken. CO2 is not the devil-in-gaseous form. Now imagine light emerging from a black hole. You’re right, it can’t. The edifice of money, vested interest and political power is simply too gigantic and complex to be toppled by having the hypothesis beneath it pulled away. Galileo had more chance of convincing the Inquisition that the earth moves around the sun.

Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is as settled a scientific proposition as can be found in the textbooks. Object as you like. Proffer new evidence. It will do no good. You will be cancelled. The Age of Reason is well and truly behind us.

 

The Cartoon: God Save the Queen

If At First You Don't Secede... Wexit

The idea of secession seems almost inevitably to surface in times of national turmoil, political disarray, ideological and ethnic pillarization and economic resentment. In the wake of the Great Fraud, aka the 2020 American election, there is a whiff of secession in the air.

Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession.” Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Though he asserted “I never say anything about secession,” the implication was certainly present. Texit is in the wind. Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) said “I am committing to file legislation this session that will allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Canada has undergone two secession movements originating in the province of Quebec, based on a founding schism between two distinct peoples—which novelist Hugh MacLennan called the “two solitudes” in his book of  that title—culminating in a clash between two legal traditions, Quebec’s Napoleonic civil code and the ROC’s (rest of Canada) common law, and two languages, French and English.

Two referenda were held, in 1980 and 1995, the second defeated by the narrowest of margins, 50.58 percent to 49.42 percent. It is hard to say if separation would have been a “good thing,” whether Quebec would have prospered and Canada grown more coherent. I would hazard that the first prospect would have been enormously improbable, the second at least remotely possible.

Sunrise in Calgary? Or sundown?

The independence movement is alive today, but in another province. Alberta, which is Canada’s energy breadbasket, has suffered egregiously under the rule of Eastern Canada’s Laurentian Elite, beginning in modern times with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s low-pricing, high taxing National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980, which devastated Alberta’s oil industry.

According to the BOE report, “Economic disaster quickly followed. Alberta’s unemployment rate shot from 4% to more than 10%. Bankruptcies soared 150%.” Home values collapsed by 40 percent and the province plunged into debt. The debacle has climaxed with son Justin’s Green-inspired economic destruction and effective shutdown of the province’s energy sector. Unemployment has risen to more than 11 percent, thousands of residents are leaving the province, debt is soaring and cutbacks have severely impacted daily life.

As a result, a potent secession movement, known as "Wexit," has gathered momentum and solidified into a new political party. In addition, the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta registered as a political party on June 29. Its platform includes asserting the independence of the province, redefining the relationship with Canada, developing natural resources, and creating a Constitution of Alberta.

After having increased the job-killing carbon tax during—of all times!—the COVID pandemic and lockdown that had already pulverized the nation’s economy, prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced he will raise the tax almost sixfold to $170 per tonne by 2030, thus breaking the Liberal government’s promise “not to increase the (carbon) price post-2022.” According to the Toronto Sun, “That will increase the cost of gasoline by about 38 cents per litre, plus the cost of home heating fuels such as natural gas and oil.”

And according to Kris Sims at the Sun, “Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.” Filling up a light duty pickup truck will cost a surplus $45 per tank, and an extra $204 for the big rigs that deliver dry goods and comestibles. But that “won’t be the end of the increased cost the Canadians will face, starting with a $15 billion government investment in other climate change initiatives.” 

All Canadians will be hard hit, but Albertans, who once fueled the engine of Canadian prosperity and who have the resources to do so again, will feel the provocation and injury even more profoundly. As Rex Murphy writes in the National Post, it is “the province that carries most of the weight, bears the most pain and has the least say in this mad enterprise.” The tax, he continues, will “injure the very farmers who have been stocking the supermarket shelves during COVID, put oil workers (at least those who still have jobs) out of work, increase the cost of living for everyone, place additional strain on the most needy and antagonize a large swath of the Canadian public.”  

Kyle Biedermann is on the money when he says that “The federal government is out of control.” This is as true of Canada as it is of the United States, at least with respect to the major agencies of government. For this reason, I support the secession movement in Alberta. The province has no alternative if it is to survive a faltering and repressive Confederation saddled with an out-and-out Marxist prime minister, a de facto alliance with Communist China, an infatuation with an unworkable and unaffordable tax-subsidized Green technological program, a $400 billion deficit, a national debt exploding past the $1 trillion mark, and, in short, nameplate disasters like Trudeau’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy cabaret. 

Alberta’s survival depends on restoring its energy sector to full capacity and shucking off the federal burden of over-regulation, crushing taxation, Green fantasy-thinking and unpayable debt. Murphy again:

This new carbon tax will throw a spike in the heart of the oil and gas industry. Keep in mind that it is but the most recent in a long string of policies designed to hamstring the industry, block its exports and drive investment out of the province.

For Alberta, it’s leave or die. Other provinces may eventually have to follow the same route as Canada disintegrates under the brazen incompetence and global-socialist doctrines of the current administration, with no relief in sight.

As oil executive Joan Sammon writes, Inexpensive energy is imperative for a thriving economy, manufacturing excellence, economic mobility, job creation and a future of prosperity.” Clearly, there must be citizen pushback against the economy-killing decrees of a myopic and virtue-signaling government. People must put pressure on their elected representatives to resist the deliberate dismantling of the free market that will cost them the life of material abundance and comfort they take for granted. They must rid themselves of their infatuation with leftist memes, policies and hypocrisies.

I have a neighbor, a staunch adherent of our high-taxing, socialist administrations, who drives across the border to the U.S. to fill up her car at around one third the domestic price of fuel. She remains oblivious of the cognitive dissonance that governs her practice. Such thinking and behavior are what qualify as ultimately “unsustainable.” 

It's now or never.

The industry, too, Sammon writes, “needs to take back control from the preaching class and remind them that their lifestyles have been brought to them by the men and woman of the oil and gas industry.” The “green zealotry” that drives their anti-market efforts will destroy Alberta and lead eventually to the economic collapse of the entire country. Alberta, however, is at present the only province with a robust secession movement and, given its resource-rich milieu and the independent character of a large segment of its inhabitants, the only province in a position to save itself.

In any event, the message to Alberta is simple and straightforward. If at first you don’t secede, try and try again. The Overton Window is closing fast.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Celebrating

Happy New Year from Lyford Cay! I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here—away from border closures and shuttered shops. We are proving that there is life during Covid. Common sense would tell us that commercial flights and large resorts are a recipe for shutdown. Here… we wisely have none of that.

After big fireworks last night we ended up dancing on the beach, but it was mostly the guests of residents who don’t know the way of things here and stayed out late. That’s the thing with the non-residents… even if they weren’t frightfully easy to spot, one can always sense them nervously tugging at their pockets for vibrating cell phones that are a big no-no in this club and so many others that they obviously haven’t frequented.

The residents are of course mostly all lovely people, who’ve made their mark and can now focus on the things that matter. Speaking of just that sort, I had so wanted to talk to philanthropist Louis Bacon about all things environment. We’ve a strong contact in that one of my clients -- well, my former client -- is a big to-do in the Audubon Society. And Louis has received the actual Audubon Medal.

There's life after Covid.

I haven’t had the chance to talk to him owing to the fact that my hosts are on the Nygard side -- that’s Peter Nygard, who shares a property border with Mr Bacon and for whom a once-peaceful adjacency eventually led to duelling feuds and some sort of federal racketeering suit in Manhattan. I had hoped to at least bump into his wife but she’s a second wife and… well you know how those things go.

I've heard whispers that he's not really as committed to the environment as he seems to be,  and he did sue Wikimedia for publishing some bits he considered libelous, and there was even some suggestion of foul play when his estate manager was found floating naked in a hot tub, but I refuse to believe that someone who gives millions of dollars and thousands of acres for easements and wildlife could be in it for the wrong reasons.

I have to assume such a beef was bound to happen as their houses (the Bacons and the Nygards) are on the beachfront where the homes get quite close to each other, and in that area, one man’s dining room is only 200 feet from the other’s revolving acrylic discotheque.

As for Mr Nygard, my hosts maintain there is mostly nothing to the FBI raid and arrest at his fashion empire on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering. Here in Lyford he’s mostly disliked for his efforts to dredge the sea floor around his estate that eventually caused his cay to be seized by the Bahamian government. And then something caused a puddle that caused a feud between neighbours and here we are. As I’ve heard daddy say, one man’s cocktail party is another man’s sleepless night. Whatever the ruckus—he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Happy New Year to you too, Ma'am.

Which got me to thinking… I should just go and chat up Her Majesty’s newly remarried (and newly gay) cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten. He and daddy are quite chummy, and I met him with his daughter Ella at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Surely he’ll make the introductions—landowners tend to be big environmentalists.

This year, rather than silly resolutions I’ll be making significant intentions that support, empower, and manifest a joy-filled existence. I think it’s so important.

I made my way down to the New Year’s brunch in the pink tented dining pavilion. I was seated with some Austrians and I got excited that they might know Mr Bacon. Yes I know he’s an American but he obtained Austrian citizenship due to a special treatment for celebrities who have provided notable achievements for Austria. No one seems to know what the notable achievement was, but I hoped they were his guests. Sadly they were not, and didn’t know the least thing about him despite his celeb-status. 

Once they heard I lived in Los Angeles they wanted to talk election stuffs and rant about Trump. I wasn’t sure what he’d done to them specifically but they seemed in favour of the Paris Climate Agreement. Well, so am I! Very much so, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think anyone could slip it past the Americans and hope they wouldn’t realise they had to comply more and pay more than anyone else.

I was quiet for a bit. Where were the Austrians who stood on principle so very many times? Not to mention they were the first to say there was “no path back” when one of their stupid teens ran off to be a brood mare for ISIS. This was a puzzlement. And so I began:

“Is it Americans you dislike? Or do you simply share an all-consuming love of our planet?” I asked in the queen’s English. What followed was such nonsense I wondered how they could claim to stand for anything. I changed the subject so deftly I’d have made even Judith (mummy) proud. I just don’t get the blanket hatred for America thing… all things considered-they really are good caretakers of our earth.

Top this, Europe.

I asked them where they stood on Austria’s drastic move away from coal? They had no informed opinion. On their very own MAGA (Make Austria Great Again) rockstar Sebastian Kurz? Didn’t know. Nygard vs Bacon? (OK that was totally unfair but these two were getting on my nerves). But they somehow knew they were right to hate America for pulling out of the Agreement and didn’t have to be the informed sort of haters.

I lied about how much I’d enjoyed talking to them and excused myself. These two were such boors and were hardly going to help me manifest my higher purpose to save the planet. And no sooner had I focused on my destiny than I found a handsome hedge fund billionaire to chat up. Happy New Year Everyone!

Red Dragon, Green Agenda

The record continues to grow of China’s influence on Western institutions, which the Chinese deploy to advance China’s interests. Recent high-profile examples include ties to academic researchers who then lie about their relationship with Chinese underwriters, and agents for China serving as aides or fundraisers for, and, purportedly romantic interests of, elected officials. 

Author Rupert Darwall has specifically explored how China is using the “green” agenda to gain advantage over America, including through its influence with environmental pressure groups. Patricia Adams detailed this further in an early December 2020 report published by the United Kingdom’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). 

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Both conclude that Western green groups serve as “China’s propagandists” while turning blind eyes to China’s own environmental and human rights record which – according to the Greens’ expressed standards – would otherwise be subject to strident condemnation and pressure campaigns.

Instead, China is oddly praised by Western environmentalist groups. One wonders if this is related to the fact the groups require special approval from the state to operate within the communist country.

Darwall argues that, taking all of these machinations into account, the climate change issue has become “a national security threat – but not in the way the national security elite assumes.” That is to say, “For China, climate change offers a strategic opportunity. Decarbonizing the rest of the world makes China’s economy stronger – it weakens its rivals’ economies, reduces the cost of energy for its hydrocarbon-hungry economy, and sinks energy-poor India as a potential Indo-Pacific rival.”

For example, already, litigants in the United States have cited the Paris Climate Agreement as requiring judicial commandeering of energy and environmental policy from the political branches, leaving judges to decide what economic development may occur and how. This past summer, the U.K. Court of Appeal blocked major transportation infrastructure construction citing among the reasons that such projects are incompatible with the Paris commitments. 

As China cheers...

Expect more such mischief, via proxies for China, in the United Nations “Climate Conciliation Commissions” which await the U.S. if it “re-joins” the Paris climate agreement as Joe Biden vows to do.

This is one of many reasons President Trump should recognize Paris as the treaty it obviously is, by transmitting it to the Senate for the required “advice and consent” before the U.S. can be bound in any way.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham Tweeted in favor of such a move, adding, “As currently drafted, the accord is a big win for China and India.” 

Graham had been silent on the issue even as President Obama showed “disturbing contempt for the Senate’s constitutional rights and responsibilities” by declaring an obvious treaty to be something he could commit the U.S. to on his own. Indeed, records obtained under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation show Graham – one of three original sponsors of “cap-and-trade” legislation in the Senate until it became obvious this was not in his political interests – was targeted by then-Secretary of State John Kerry as a possible supporter of the Paris deal, along with climate obsessive Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. 

No longer. China’s scheming has become too aggressive to further ignore.

Still other FOIA’d emails revealed dealings among Western greens and the Obama-Biden State Department, an apparent business as usual that is likely to soon resume. For example, one April 15, 2015 email, sent by the then-Global Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI) Climate Program to State Department officials, candidly stated the role the WRI played in assisting China to develop the post-Obama “climate” world in Washington, D.C.

Other emails show the Obama State Department leapt at the invitation to help the WRI help China, arranging team-wide conference calls and other follow-up.

In light of this and other revelations, in 2018 the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources sent two oversight letters to WRI and other groups including NRDC, from which Biden has chosen his domestic "climate czar" Gina McCarthy (letters since scrubbed from the website by the new Democratic Chairman). Investigators pressed for clarity on apparent contradictions involving the group’s claims about its relationship with the Chinese government, and how that impacts its political activities within the United States.

The Committee specifically referenced the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires anyone acting as an agent of foreign principals “in a political or quasi-political capacity” to formally report that relationship and all “activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities."

Somebody's watching.

The green groups lawyered up with white-collar defense teams, the 2018 elections brought a new House majority, and the inquiries died. Still, one commentator observed that special counsel Robert Mueller “opened the door to more intense scrutiny of some U.S. environmental groups” by invoking FRA to pursue prosecution of former Trump campaign officials.

Given the influence these groups have in Washington generally, and particularly with Democrats, the precedent of invoking FARA to pursue all things Trump does not translate to pursuit of environmentalist pressure groups, as well, despite a clear record of involvement with, and even boasting of their ties to, China on matters of U.S. policy.  

The foreign-agents act, like other statutes, appears to be merely a political weapon, intended only for those who threaten “the way things work” in Washington. And among the lessons of 2020 is that the way things work in Washington, as in academia and other institutions, is under substantial Chinese influence.

Meditating Upon the Black Stuff

Call me a cockeyed optimist. I’m not convinced that the end is nigh. True a giant asteroid might come hurtling our way. However, I still regard dire warnings of the imminent end of times as the stuff of outlandish cults. Or, more entertainingly, humourists.

I might be missing something. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Prince Charles, and too many other notables to mention, think differently. They’re sure we are on our last legs; with only, what is it now, something like nine or ten years left to save the planet? Don’t hold me to this number. I get confused when threatened with extinction.

If those who do think the end is nigh were asked, I feel confident they would nominate coal as the biggest culprit. It spews out CO2 like nobody’s business. According to the U.S. Energy Department, per unit of energy produced, coal emits around twice as much CO2 as does natural gas. And, to boot, it has been the predominate source of power for industry and households for a very considerable time.

According to the Resources and Energy Quarterly published by the Australian government, thermal coal still accounted for 45 percent of global electricity production in 2018. Hence, coal is still doing its darndest to queer the planet and, shiver in trepidation, there’s 133 years of proven reserves of the black stuff still to dig up. But it’s not all bad.

To coal or not to coal? That is the question.

It’s good for Australia. Thermal coal is the fifth biggest exporter earner behind (in order) iron ore, metallurgical coal (there’s that coal again), natural gas and gold. The prime minister is torn. Electorates in coal country in Queensland gave him victory in May 2019. Careless of dire predictions of doom, they selfishly voted their wallets ahead of the planet. Yet, from royal progeny to billionaires to zealots to inner-city elites to banks to boardrooms to the media, the anti-coal clamour is deafening. Politicians wilt.

In 2017, to the chagrin of the great and good, Scott Morrison -- before he became prime minister -- theatrically brought a lump of coal into parliament to make a powerful case for coal. And now, only a few short years later, is contemplating zero net emissions “as quickly as possible.” Trying to mix coal and zero emissions is a species of double-think. He’s a politician, he won’t notice.

Coal is enigmatic. Cheap energy to some, demonic to others; and with a future which is hard to pin down. Here is a trick question. How many coal-power plants are under construction? Answer: it depends upon which newspapers or fact-check websites you read or TV channels you watch. Greens and their allies want to convince everyone that coal is uneconomic, and on the way out. Coal lobbies present a bullish outlook for coal. Different interests, different schticks, different facts.

That said, whatever source of information takes your fancy, a large number of new coal-power plants are on the way. This is simply because coal provides cheap and reliable power and the Chinese and Indians, e.g., aren’t stupid. No need to guess who is.

The Chinese know how to make electricity.

When I say new coal-power plants are on the way; not so much in Australia, where they are on the way out. An irony you might think in a country with rich coal reserves, which for so long underpinned the competitive advantage of Australian manufacturing. Not so to those who believe Australia has to do its bit by closing down all of its installed coal-power of around 23 GW capacity in order, wait for it, to offset the up to 250 GW or so (depending on what you read) of new capacity China is intent on building. Do the sum.

Here is something else: on December 2, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) claimed that coal dust blowing from coal-loading ports 100 to 1,000 kilometres away threatened, the perpetually threatened, Great Barrier Reef. Peter Ridd, cancelled by James Cook University In Queensland for daring to suggest that the Reef was not under threat, described the claim as “ridiculous.” Ridiculous? How about “crackpot.”

On much surer footing than the tendentious apparatchiks at the IUCN, Michael Shellenberger (Apocalypse Never) goes into bat for coal. Coal, he says, with twice the energy of timber, saved the forests, while fuelling the industrial revolution. But for coal there might have been few trees left. Excluding those conservationists who bizarrely favour making them into biomass, everyone likes trees. Ergo, coal’s role in preserving them must be good.

Then again coal must be bad. The Economist (3 December) told us that, “unlike natural gas and oil, it is concentrated carbon, and thus [in America and Europe] it accounts for a staggering 39% of annual emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.”

That might be true, who knows, but this isn’t: “Solar farms and onshore wind are now the cheapest source of new electricity for at least two-thirds of the world’s population.” Here the poor sods at the lower end of the prosperity scale in Asia and Africa are invited to “consign coal to museums and the history books.” “Much work lies ahead,” avers editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes.

I just wonder how much work has to be done to persuade developing regions of the world to use the cheapest source of electricity? They must all be dim-witted, if Ms Beddoes is to be taken at her word. Of course, Ms Beddoes is spouting agitprop. To be kind, she can do no other as a dedicated follower of the party line.

The case against coal is not based on economics. It is the cheapest source of 24x7 power. The case stands or falls on the danger CO2 presents to the planet.

If the alarmist predictions are wrong then the trillions of dollars spent on wind and solar farms has been the gravest waste of resources in the history of mankind. As the size of the effect of man-made CO2 on global warming is matter of conjecture, a contested hypothesis at best, it is inexplicable that is has taken such an iron grip on the minds of so many in positions of influence and power.

The overwrought reaction to Covid is similarly puzzling. Perhaps when religion wanes, collective belief is more susceptible to superstition and mass suggestion. If that is so; what, I wonder, will be the next hobgoblin to scare us into submission?