Toolkits of the Trade

Spontaneous protests are among the most powerful forces in our politics, which is unfortunate because they are, generally, bunk. We've written about this before, as when we discussed a leaked protest organizer job posting with an $85,000 salary. That's a lot of green if your job is just waiting around to hear the voice of the people speak.

For the latest example, here's Helen Andrews on an ongoing political tumult in India. It all started with a tweet from well-known environmentalist/truant Greta Thunberg supporting some anti-government protestors in that nation, with a link to a Google docs file included. According to New Delhi police, Thunberg shortly thereafter got a text message from her Indian counterpart, Disha Ravi, saying "Shit shit shit … Can you not tweet the toolkit … Our names are on it." Thunberg quickly deleted the tweet, and put out an "updated" statement, but the damage was done.

So what is in this "toolkit"? Here's Andrews:

[It] describes methods for capitalizing on the farmers’ protests that have wracked New Delhi since November, after [Indian PM] Narendra Modi’s government passed a package of laws liberalizing agriculture markets.... The linked document included sample tweets, suggestions for in-person rallies, and a timeline for an escalating protest campaign climaxing on January 26. Unfortunately, the January 26 protest in New Delhi proved a little too climactic. Roads were swarmed, cell towers were destroyed, and one farmer was killed when, ramming a police barricade, he capsized his tractor. Farmers rushed police lines on horseback with swords.... Hundreds of policemen were injured and many hospitalized.

It was, in short, an instruction manual for disorder, composed -- apparently -- by experienced international activists. And to the Modi government it seemed to be just a part of a wider, coordinated international campaign. They've pointed out, for instance, that not only have leftist political figures like Ilhan Omar and Trevor Noah made public statements in support of the protestors, but even vacuous celebrities like Rihanna. As one government spokesman put it, “These are very concerted efforts... I don’t think [Rihanna] can even point out on the global map where India is!”

Rihanna, you are here.

But what do agriculture protests have to do with environmental activists like Thunberg? Nothing, except for their potential to harm the image of Modi, a figure much despised by correct-thinking lefties in the west. On that score, they've failed, as 80 percent of Indians approve of the government's response to the protest. This importantly includes farmers, for whom the protestors claim to speak.

For her role in all of this, Disha Ravi was eventually charged with sedition, an act which Andrews concedes is probably an overreaction. But in the context of a post-Raj India, ever sensitive to rich western nations meddling in her internal affairs, it makes rather more sense.

Always be suspicious of supposedly leaderless groups attempting to influence public discourse through apparently "spontaneous" public protest. Chances are, they're trying to manipulate someone. Don't let it be you.

Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Three

[Third in a series. Parts One and Two at the links.]

I paused my last posting on this topic—let’s call it “Democracy Circumvented”—after a quotation from Dr. Roslyn Fuller, head of a progressive pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organisation, to the effect that many progressive NGOs in networks funded by billionaires were not participating in traditional acts of charity or philanthropic research but rather using their investors’ resources to “flip an entire political culture on to a different track by amplifying some voices and drowning out others.”

That may strike you as sinister. But it’s fine as long as it’s open and above board and not financed by public or tax-exempt money. But what if the NGOs are in fact not engaged in a vigorous public debate between opposing parties but are instead players in a Potemkin play of debate in which the “debaters” on both sides, the expert witnesses they call, the judge who sums up the arguments, and the panel of jurors who determine the result are all on the same side, reciting lines written advance to reach pre-determined conclusions?

When that happens in public, political, commercial, or intellectual life—and it does—the term for it is “astroturfing.” Astroturf was coined by Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen, the Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate in 1988, and a wit, and it’s defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something (such as a political policy) but that is in reality initiated and controlled by a concealed group or organization (such as a corporation.)”

Sharyl Attkinson,  a brave and unbuyable investigative journalist, who has made a special study of astroturfing, explains its general importance and (alas) effectiveness in modern marketing and political campaigning in several appearances across the internet, impressing even skeptical audiences:

Its specific application to progressive networks of NGOs, as outlined in Dr. Fuller’s Spiked article, is that wealthy investors have created a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.

There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches;  media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other "progressive" cause de jour.

And, yes, even activism can be astroturf activism.

Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Well, why not? Bear the following points in mind. First, conspiracies exist, sometimes succeed, and even have serious consequences. The First World War was triggered by a conspiracy of students to murder the heir to the Austrian throne. They succeeded, and one can’t deny that the Great War amounted to serious consequences.

This conspiracy went off like a Clockwork Orange.

Second, claiming that a hostile criticism is no more than a discredited conspiracy theory is Exercise One in the conspirator’s handbook. So please test any such denial against the evidence. Third, Dr. Fuller examines  the evidence about four organizations in the food chain in detail, checking what they do, how they cooperate, and how they’re financed. What she discovered please read for yourself. It’s partly comic and partly sinister, half stage army, half octopus. But it ain’t chopped liver. And, fourthly, the most damaging accusations against the networks of billionaire-financed NGOs is made by those activists and investors who are running them in the form of enthusiastic pep-talks (quoted below).

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet. Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, outlined their purposes and activities. She writes:

Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards’.

Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:

On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.

Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.

Ride of the Valkyrie.

In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as sometimes happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such extra-democratic politics in the future.

Indeed, just recently,  Time magazine described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.)

This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”

That was very much a “macro” operation. And whatever the reason, it certainly didn’t fail.

But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. Next time I’ll examine a case in which the U.K. parliament found itself playing the role of junior partner to a group of progressive NGOs in manufacturing a large astroturf carpet of public enthusiasm for Net-Zero policy.

Skeptical? It seems to have persuaded Boris Johnson. Don’t miss it!

Making an End-Run Around Democracy, Part Two

[Read Part One here.]

To achieve their grand goal of social engineering, the billionaires and their activist agents create a chain of institutions in which each link receives assistance or information from one level which it endorses and then passes onto the next level, and so on and so on, it sometimes feels, ad infinitum.

There are primary research bodies that assemble information on, say, the Green New Deal; secondary research bodies that endorse the “correct” information or point of view (and the think tanks that produce them) and undermine rival ones; motivational research groups that advise on how to tailor their emotional appeal to key constituencies; information technology panels that advise on how to ensure your message is placed before others in internet searches;  media outreach groups that package its messages in easy-to-use op-ed or soundbite forms; political education institutes that recruit potential election candidates to carry the torch in elections; and “activist” organizations that organize public protests, sit-ins, occupations of congressional offices, riots, and other civil disobedience events to suggest that a powerful movement of public opinion is backing the Green New Deal or some other cause de jour.

If this is activism, it’s astroturf activism.

They might be giants.

Put so baldly, this argument sounds a little like a conspiracy theory. Be aware of three points, however.

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s what used to be called “an open conspiracy” which almost anyone can join, read about, or listen in on via the internet.

Dr. Fuller listened in on a webinar in which the leaders of two of the organizations discussed here, namely Sunrise and Momentum, which are respectively a movement of young activists and a political training operation, discussed their purposes and activities. She writes:

 Speakers stressed the need to become ‘the dominant political alignment’ which ‘defines the common sense of society’ and ‘directs social and economic policy’. Having realized that this would require ‘tak[ing] over the entire United States and all the institutions in it’, they began ‘finding and developing our first leaders’. This involved moving activists into ‘dorm-style Sunrise Movement Houses for three to six months’ in order to create leaders who had a deep level of commitment ‘for everything that would come afterwards.’

Dr. Fuller concedes that some of this training offers advice that is “not bad” but adds that the “entire impression is of a very steered, technocratic process that attempts to achieve theoretical concepts (‘3.5 percent mobilisation’, ‘dominant political alignment’) through a kind of brute-force factory production.” It’s a very well-funded factory production at that. And noting that a disproportionately large number of the activists and of those recruiting the activists are young and inexperienced people, from teens to postgraduates, she offers the following balanced judgment:

On one level, it is great that young people are taking part in politics. But on another level it is incredibly fake. The youthful participants aren’t so much being empowered as instrumentalized. After all, they are part of the portfolio of an investment fund that is using them to ‘shift power’, with part of the strategy being to shame politicians for not being nice enough to hysterical children.

Dr. Fuller doesn’t mention Greta Thunberg here, but for some reason Ms. Thunberg leaps to mind.

Patron St. Greta

In instrumentalizing the young activists, these well-funded progressive networks are also instrumentalizing democracy. They are seeking to manipulate the usual democratic tools—information, debate, controversy—not to create a national conversation on political goals and methods but to construct a simulacrum of that conversation in which its conclusions are determined in advance. And when those tools break in their hands—as happens when others intrude into their staged debates—they use “activism” to de-platform the intruders and to close down a debate escaping their control. We are likely to see much more of such covertly manipulative anti-democratic politics in the future.

Indeed, Time magazine has described how such an open conspiracy of corporate executives, labor union leaders, and progressive activists employed some of these methods and some of these troops to “prevent Donald Trump stealing the election” (i.e., to help the Democrats win the election.) That was very much a “macro” operation. And without being conspiratorial myself, I can assert that it certainly didn’t fail.

But how do these tactics work at a “micro” level—at the level of getting a parliamentary bill passed into law, ensuring that a government report conforms to progressive orthodoxies, or manufacturing a “Green” public opinion when most voters are skeptical. To examine how progressive activism can turn democracy into a ventriloquist’s dummy, I’ll be looking at Ben Pile’s monograph on the U.K.’s Climate Assembly, funded by Parliament to tell MPs what the people thought about Net Zero. It’s a fascinating story. Join me then.

 

The Cartoon: Ho Jo To Ho

Empty the Head that Forswears the Crown

Earlier this year Prince Harry, like so many frustrated young men before him, left home and ran off to California with a pretty girl in the hope of hitting it big and changing the world. Of course, being royalty, he didn't move to Haight-Ashbury to start a mediocre folk group and get stoned at anti-war protests. Instead, he and Meghan moved into a $14.7M mansion in Beverly Hills, signed a mega-deal with Netflix, endorsed Joe Biden, and became environmentalists.

Still, like the folkies, Harry has felt it necessary to inflict his faux-poetic thoughts on the rest of us.  Here he is speaking at an event for WaterBear, a new subscription service for environmentalist documentaries:

Every single raindrop that falls from the sky relieves the parched ground. What if every single one of us was a raindrop, and if every single one of us cared?

Far out, man. You can almost hear this being sung by Scott McKenzie or the Mamas and the Papas. No word on whether he thinks the universe might be just a single atom in the finger nail of some enormous being. Of course, to change the world you have to tackle the tough issues of the day, and Harry didn't disappoint on that score. He made it a point to tie the ongoing pandemic to the environment, saying:

[I]t’s almost as though Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms for bad behavior to really take a moment and think about what we’ve done.... We take so much from her and we rarely give a lot back.

But, as Joanna Williams points out in the Spectator, we really shouldn't laugh. For all of his vapidity, Harry is clearly making a play for increased cultural cachet, and he's doing so by parroting  the sentiments of our cultural elite. These are all common views among our beneficent rulers.

Consider another of the prince's insights: "But the moment you become a father, everything really does change... you start to realize, well, what is the point in bringing a new person into this world when they get to your age and it’s on fire?" This is a perfect encapsulation of elite climate hysteria, and it is becoming increasingly normalized.

Williams discusses the fact that this image of the world burning irresponsibly encourages eco-anxiety, a growing problem for both adults and children, many of whom have been psychologically harmed by the propaganda, as Greta Thunberg apparently was after watching a (now-debunked) David Attenborough film.

But there's also Harry and Meghan's longstanding vow to have no more than two children, for environmental reasons. Their public declaration is clearly meant to influence the choices of regular people, making them feel that it would be irresponsible to have more (or any) children, despite the fact that our country has below-replacement birthrates and Americans already have fewer children than we claim to want. Who are these people to say your dream of being a parent is irresponsible?

Talk about privilege.

Child Soldiers of the Revolution

Despite her best efforts, all's been quiet on the Greta Thunberg front during the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem is that her I'm-sacrificing-my-education-to-travel-around-saving-the-world schtick doesn't go down so well when international travel is restricted and lots of kids are locked out of schools by government order, not to mention selfish teachers unions.

Even so, Greta has pioneered a practice which we can expect to see more of -- using children as human shields in the climate war. The idea is that their emotional appeals will tug at the heart, and fog the mind, until any attempt to engage their arguments is met with horror and reproach.

For just one example of Greta's progeny at work, see this report about a judge in Ontario who defied recent federal court precedent to allow a lawsuit brought against the province by two minors (and five "youths") to go forward. The suit alleges that "the Ontario government’s 2018 reduction in its climate-change target by 15 per cent violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty and security of the person."

Retired litigator Andrew Roman comments,

The exploitation of children to front a lawsuit in this way is ethically troubling. If this case goes to trial and sets this dangerous precedent, why not have children in Calgary sue to set aside the carbon tax or the Clean Fuel Standard or Ottawa’s hyper-regulatory Bill C-69 because they kill any prospect of their employment in the oil industry and thereby infringe their constitutional rights? It does not take a lot of imagination to invent such misuse of children for numerous future cases that are essentially political theatre.

Of course, as the mainstream media has a near monopoly on framing cases like this in the popular mind, you can imagine how they would portray any child who brought forth an anti-Carbon Tax lawsuit on these grounds -- as a poor dupe being cynically manipulated by some adult with an ideological ax to grind. And they might well be right. It's just unfortunate that they promote such cynical manipulation of children when it's their own ideology on the line.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

At this point in the global hysteria -- increasingly mixed with petty bureaucratic malevolence -- over Covid-19, we have seamlessly passed from tragedy to farce, as a Marxist might say. As far back as April, it was already clear that the international Left was being forced to choose between its twin apocalyptic wet dreams of global destruction via "climate change" and global destruction via the second coming of the Black Death, aka, the Dreaded Coronavirus. If we didn't all drown from the rising oceans or fry under a burning sun, we would fall like tenpins to a virus of such deadliness that it has a kill rate of .04% and most victims don't even know they have it.

Why the Left has such a burning psychological need to constantly fantasize about destruction is no secret: in effect, they are a monomaniacal suicide cult with the added fillip of wanting to take the rest of the world down with them. They exist fearfully in a crabbed, constricted self-prison, in which anything -- a breath, a fart, a sneeze, the flick of a light switch -- can unleash cataclysmic events. What the arbitrary and capricious lockdowns have taught us -- in addition to the fact that the American constitution is now clinically dead, and that the Bill of Rights no longer is absolute -- is to fear our fellow man and thus turn ourselves into a nation of snitches and scolds.

A rising tide sinks all boats.

And so we are lectured to by children, and harried by agents of the state for the most trivial of offenses, most of which seem to be violating laws passed yesterday by thug governments criminalizing dissent from state orthodoxy. This story, concerning a pregnant woman arrested in front of her husband and children is bad enough:

“Arresting a pregnant female, it's never going to look good. The optics of arresting someone who is pregnant is terrible,” Mr Cornelius said. “We were very keen to understand the circumstances and consider whether or not in all the circumstances that action was appropriate. And I can say to you, based on the briefings that have been provided to me and my colleague, Assistant Commissioner Cindy Millen, we're satisfied in those circumstances the members behaved appropriately and in accordance with our policy.”

Mr Cornelius said the handcuffing of Ms Buhler was standard procedure when officers are executing a search warrant at a home but the handcuffs were removed as soon as police rendered the situation safe. “I've seen the footage, and you know, in my assessment, the members have conducted themselves entirely reasonably,” Mr Cornelius said.

Watch the video at the link just above and you be the judge of its "reasonableness." And then watch this:

Once a penal colony, always a penal colony.

Still, on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend pro tempore, it's been amusing to watch the two imaginary bugbears of "climate change" and the "Dreaded Corona" turn on each other. Not only has the virus spared us further manifestations of Greta Thunberg, last seen going sheepishly back to school in wintry Sweden, it's also seriously damaged the "green energy" quasi-industry:

Before the coronavirus pandemic arrived this year, clean energy was one of fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy. But since moderate stages of recovery began, experts say the industry has struggled to find footing. Just 3,200 jobs returned to the clean energy sector in July, Labor Department data shows.

That 0.1% employment growth has left more than 500,000 workers in fields including energy efficiency, solar and wind energy and clean vehicles without a job, an industry-sponsored analysis by the BW Research Partnership shows.

Before you can say, gee, that's too damn bad, there's more:

The last few months have seen a major reversal of fortune for a sector that grew 70% faster than the entire economy between 2015 and 2019 and had been employing three times as many workers as real estate, banking or agriculture. At July's growth rate, industry leaders say, it will take 15 years to replace the jobs that were wiped away by the pandemic.

The slow rebound can be blamed, they add, on a slate of pandemic-related restrictions and consequences that have combined to affect the industry.

Well... who decreed the "pandemic-related restrictions" in the first place? Which political party signifies its acquiescence to the whims of the state by wearing face masks on all possible occasions? How do the Karens of the world vote?

This is the path madness takes, once you go crazy. A central tenet of Leftist "woke" practice is 1) posit a counter-factual and, 2) act upon it as if it were real. The problem comes when the gulf between what you believe (imminent annihilation caused by driving to the supermarket to load up on groceries) and reality (the sun comes up tomorrow on pretty much the same planet it came up on when Caesar walked the earth).

Accordingly, the Left has spent -- and demanded that we spend as well -- billions of dollars to indulge their "climate change" fantasy: money now circling the drain in order to indulge their "Black Death" fantasy. That both fantasies are devoted to the destruction of the capitalism system in general and the U.S.A. in particular accounts for their passionate devotion to both, even though that were both true, their own destruction is equally guaranteed.

Some of the job losses have come in the energy-efficiency industry which -- as long as it makes economic sense -- is regrettable. Everybody wants to pass less for energy, not more, so it the more we can make our appliances better and more efficient, the more insulated our homes are, the better it is for "the planet" (if the planet cares, which it doesn't) and our pocketbooks.

"Out of the 3.2 million people who work in the clean energy field -- or did up until this year -- the vast majority are in the energy efficiency field," Bob Keefe, executive director of the non-partisan advocacy group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), told UPI. "Those are people who go into buildings and do everything from installing insulation in the walls and ceilings to swapping out incandescent lighting for LED lighting."

The sudden idling in the industry has brought into focus impressive growth it has experienced in recent years. By late 2018, more than 2.3 million Americans were working the field, and the growth rate was more than 5%, according to last year's U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Only a sheep could love them.

Another element in the slowdown are the declining sales of such talismans as solar panels, sold to a gullible public as helping to power your own home when the sun shines but in reality simply making the sucker pay to contribute to the electric grid for others.

One theory is that homeowners are wary of strange workmen coming to their homes while the Black Death runs wild in the streets, but a more likely answer is that the customer has finally wised up to the scam.

As for the unsightly goliaths slowing spinning their alien turbines above the water line, or disfiguring the landscape from sea shore to mountain ranges, the nearly prohibitive cost of making, maintaining, and disposing of them, the less said the better.

But it's an article of faith among the regressive Left that the way forward is backward, to the days of windmills and waterwheels. Lacking a belief in God, the feminized Left increasingly lacks a belief in Man as well, especially in his ability to adapt to changing conditions with inventions and common sense. As Camille Paglia wrote in her seminal treatise on sex and culture, Sexual Personae, "If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts."

This is the end result of a Safety First philosophy, under which any outcome that could possibly be bad is to be avoided by simply refusing to engage. No ships should cross the ocean, no wagons rolling westward ho, no rockets to infinity and beyond. Progress cannot come without death, the thinking goes, so if death cannot be tolerated, then neither can progress. Which means, in the end, that the end stage of "progressive" liberalism can only be totalitarianism: that which is not expressly allowed is forbidden, unless we whimsically decree otherwise.

Why, just this week, another embarrassing Antipodean country, New Zealand, ha suspended the shipments of one of the few things anybody wants to buy from it -- cattle -- after a boat bearing 6,000 moo cows capsized and sank, with a horrifying bovine death toll. Instead of finding out why the vessel sank off the coast of Japan (which doesn't have a lot of grazing land), the reaction was... well, let the New York Times tell it:

New Zealand has suspended the export of live cattle after a ship that left its shores with 43 crew members and nearly 6,000 cows capsized off Japan this week, raising fresh questions about the safety and ethics of transporting livestock by sea.

Animals rights activists say the move did not go far enough because the transnational livestock trade is rife with abuses. “Ultimately, this is a trade that has to be banned,” said Will Appelbe, a spokesman for SAFE, an animal welfare group in New Zealand.

Of course it does, along with everything and anybody else that could go wrong. And if -- like Pennywise the Clown from It, you have to live the rest of your life in a sunless subterranean lair, comrade, remember: it's for your own safety.

Greta's Getting Desperate

We've joked before here at The Pipeline about how COVID-19 came at the worst possible time for Greta Thunberg because, well, she's not getting any younger. She'll be 18 in a few months, and we're not too far away from the pigtails being kind of creepy, but the attention of the public is focused elsewhere these past few months. Her whole shtick is built off of being a kid who's sacrificing her education to call attention to the supposedly disastrous effects of climate change, but that's going to get old pretty quick once she stops being a kid.

So Greta's understandably desperate to get her name back into the headlines. In May we reported on one such attempt, when she signed on to a U.N. lawsuit against nations purportedly not doing enough to lower emissions. Now she's involved in an effort to get world leaders to -- what else? -- "transform [our] whole economic system" to combat the climate crisis. Her approach, as usual, is to convince them by saying the word "crisis" a lot:

We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it’s not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible. It won’t change a thing,” Thunberg said....  “Above all, we are demanding that we need to treat this crisis as a crisis, because if we don’t do that, then we won’t be able to do anything.

The letter demands governments immediately divest from fossil fuels and for the E.U. to impose a "carbon budget" specifying how much carbon they may emit per year. Same old, same old; gotta play the hits for the fans. But it did contain one thing I found interesting -- a call for lefties to rally 'round the red flag, you might say, specifying that the governments of the world adopt climate policies "designed to protect workers and the most vulnerable and reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities," as well as moves to “safeguard and protect democracy."

Leaving aside whether democracies should be protected in their right to reject heavy-handed climate policies, this too strikes me as a mark of desperation. Identity politics has recently moved beyond its first-among-equals status to become the dominant theme of leftist discourse, leaving very little oxygen for anything else.  What's left is necessarily subsumed by economic questions -- you're hearing increasing calls for the imposition of Universal Basic Income -- because of our lockdown-related contractions.

The authors of this letter seem hopeful that environmentalism can piggyback on those causes, but I'm not sure that follows. I've said before that I believe environmentalism is increasingly becoming a luxury we can't afford, and it might be that the Left is beginning to realize that as well.

Notwithstanding the €1 million she was recently awarded for her activism, the same could increasingly be said for Greta herself.

'Deniers' of the World, Unite!

Much is made of the fact that former "climate change" advocates have now defected to the side of reason. But much more needs to be done to defeat climate change propaganda. The latest defection, as we’ve noted here, is Michael Shellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. His arguments are well-documented but he’s been denied a voice in the major media.

The major media shut-outs are not the only way climate change skeptics are made non-persons and their arguments, studies and critiques of the prevailing view silenced. The most important search engine, Google does it, too. David Wojick   tested it by searching his own works and those of other climate change skeptics on Google.

The pattern is obvious — attack the skeptics of climate change alarmism. The ever present use of the wacko DeSmogBlog attacks, usually in the top 5 items and often first or second, is actually pretty funny. But it is also telling, as is the going back many years to pick up attack pieces, while the informational pieces are far more recent. This pattern cannot be accidental; the algorithm is clearly tuned to discredit skeptics of climate change alarmism.

The interesting question: is this illegal? After all Google boasts that it has billions of dollars invested in renewable energy. Skepticism of alarmism probably threatens those investments. Deliberately discrediting people in order to protect or enhance your business interests sounds illegal to me. Maybe there is even a class action suit in this.

This censoring of contrary opinion on climate change is not merely a matter of free speech and inquiry. It’s critical, because it’s likely to be the next woke campaign—overturning western civilization by piling on the moral panic which has already led to such absurdities as denouncing terms like “master bedroom” and “blacklisting,” and demolishing statues of abolitionists because of some fancied connotations of slavery and racism. (I did Google Michael Shellenberger and see Google’s algorithms have not yet made him a non-person. His most recent works and statements are at the top.)

The censoring of climate skeptics is or should be of interest to more than those of us interested in this issue. It’s likely to be the next “woke” campaign theme. And the censoring is likely to be even more extreme. Using the Forbes deletion of Shellenberger’s article as a warning, the author, Ross Clark, concludes:

A US journalist who tried to find out why was issued only with the following statement: ‘Forbes requires its contributors to adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This story did not follow those guidelines, and was removed.’ It is not hard to decode: a bunch of climate alarmists decided that Shellenberger is inconvenient to their cause and have tried to cancel him by complaining to the website – and the website caved in...

The attempt to classify climate change ‘denialism’ as a hate crime has been coming for quite a while. The very use of the word ‘denial’ is an attempt to put anyone skeptical of climate alarmism in the same pigeonhole as holocaust deniers.

There are so many fine blogs on the subject, including The Pipeline, Wattsupwiththat, and Climate Audit, for example, the question no longer is who can refute the silliness of the doomsday movement, but how can we make our voices heard in the face of the media-attempted blackout and the education establishments’ embrace of  climate alarmism?

Battling phantoms since 1212.

School children are especially vulnerable to the climate-change movement, which is the genius of using Greta Thunberg to appeal to the public on this issue. She’s a modern Stephen of Cloyes who’d lead frenetic children on a disastrous endeavor—in this case abolishing the fossil fuels that keeps us living well.  Her backers use her to inspire a repeat of the ill-fated Children’s’ Crusade, because children are so lacking in knowledge and experience an emotional appeal is most effective on them.

So, how do we reach the young formative minds? I went to the National Education Association’s website for its statement: “Climate Change Education: Essential Information for Educators.”  It directs teachers to a series of reports by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, PBS, and the KQED Education network. Picking one such study at random, the NOAA study, teachers will learn things like this:

Impacts from climate change are happening now. These impacts extend well beyond an increase in temperature, affecting ecosystems and communities in the United States and around the world. Things that we depend upon and value — water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health — are experiencing the effects of a changing climate.

Or, to take a second example, the KQED Education Network:

Scientists around the globe have noticed that over the last 40 years Earth, as a whole, has been warming. This phenomenon, known as global warming, is affecting regional climates differently. For example, some regions may experience warmer summers, while other regions may see winters with heavier snowstorms.

A rise in Earth's average temperature isn't always immediately apparent. For example, some places still get snowy winters, which might appear to contradict the idea of global warming. (Check out Andy Warner's comic to learn how global warming can actually lead to heavier snowfall). So, how do scientists know Earth is warming?

The NEA lists its “Green Partners,” among them:

I stopped at the first, Earth Day Network, where I learned, “Our food system accounts for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, making animal agriculture one of the largest contributors to climate change. Food production and consumption are rapidly deteriorating the planet. And what we’re eating is pushing the planet to the breaking point on climate change and deforestation.”

My point is as far as I can tell, the NEA guides for teachers rely on sources in which no countervailing opinions seem readily to appear, and often make assertions of fact which are simply untrue. This underscores what Paul Driessen wrote last year.

From kindergarten onward, our young people are repeatedly told that they, our wildlife and our planet face unprecedented cataclysms from manmade climate change, resulting from our fossil fuel use. The science is settled, they are constantly hoodwinked, and little or no discussion is allowed in classrooms.

They thus hear virtually nothing about the growing gap between computer model predictions and satellite temperature measurements; questions about data manipulation by scientists advocating the dangerous manmade climate change narrative; the hundreds of scientists who do not agree with the supposed “consensus” on manmade climate chaos; or the absence of any real-world evidence to support claims of carbon dioxide-driven coral bleaching, species extinctions, or the seemingly endless litany of ever more absurd assertions that fossil fuel emissions are making sharks right-handed, arctic plants too tall, pigs skinnier and salmon unable to detect danger, to cite just a few crazy examples.

It all seems hopeless.

I haven’t any brilliant notions of how to combat this propagandizing and enlisting half-formed student minds to the cause, but it should start with pressuring our federal agencies to stop producing, promoting on its own fact-free propagandizing, and funding outside groups to do the same. The agencies producing the pap the NEA recommends need to be monitored and forced to provide in its place more objective, documented material for the public. The NEA needs to be challenged regarding the sites and material it is endorsing. If you encourage teachers to teach nonsense, you’re paying them to mis-educate their students.

There is a multi-state effort to create new education standards that are “rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.” A glance at the standards, arranged by grades, seem far more objective than the NEA site. States that have not signed on to this should be encouraged to do so.

Perhaps all of the climate-change-skeptical sites should consider a feature occasionally explaining the truth of "man-made climate change" in terms children (and their parents) can understand, a sort of Scholastic Science feature now and then.

In the meantime, the climate cult is turning out students like those at Milwaukee’s North Division High School, which holds regular school-sanctioned walkouts on topics like Climate Activism. (Only one student out of 105 there are proficient in English and only two  are proficient in math.) Its most recent teacher-approved Red Guard-like march of the Milwaukee Public Schools was organized by “The People’s Climate Coalition" and specifically targeted Wells Fargo and Chase banks. Apparently they were singled out because they supposedly provided funding for fossil fuel companies. Parents and citizens should challenge the manipulation of students who certainly do not need time away from school to serve as leftist foot soldiers.

We skeptics can’t just talk to ourselves if we mean to bring greater support for rational energy and environmental policies, and we can’t persuade others they are being duped and misinformed if we don’t do more.

'Climate Change' Hysterics Seeing the Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean energy or Green energy? Your choice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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