Teats on a Bull, but Lusting for Relevance

Reading Elizabeth Nickson’s gripping Pipeline article about the derring-dos of Celtic warriors who conquered the Canadian wastelands set me thinking. I bet they would have been mere wimps without politicians at the helm. Henry Ford would have been helpless without Theodore Roosevelt. James Watt, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, et al; you name them, vassals all in the thrall of the politicians of their day. Rodney Stark (in The Triumph of Christianity) attributes the rise of peerless western values, and the free and prosperous countries which those values nurtured, to Christianity; while glaringly neglecting the primary role of politicians. Remiss of him.

I’m being a touch ironic, to save you guessing. Any way you slice it, politicians are largely irrelevant to progress. At best they’re an adornment. And, most typically, an encumbrance. However, being full of ruthless ambition, even if empty of talent, they yearn to be center stage. There are exceptions. Calvin Coolidge “determined that the world would do better if he involved himself less,” according to Amity Shlaes (in The Forgotten Man). Unfortunately, self-effacement is uncommon. Thus, politicians remain ever alert for opportunities to trip the light fantastic. Wars can be a godsend. Look at Zelensky.

Covid too was an opportunity of a political lifetime. Milk it for all its worth was the raison d’etre of the political class. Go hang balance, perspective, reason, common sense, any questioning of the received wisdom of public health gurus and Dr Fauci. Even Trump succumbed to Fauci fandom at one point.

Con man extraordinaire.

It’s a safe bet even now that numerous political leaders secretly crave the return of the "halcyon days" of lockdowns, masks, and compulsory jabs. When then-N.Y. governor Andrew Cuomo could woo the adoring media daily and dream of the White House, all the while condemning elderly people to their deaths in nursing homes. When Dan Andrews, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, could gain popular support for “saving us” while being a complete authoritarian thug. Alas, the virus lost its virulence. More correctly, its lack of virulence could no longer be disguised.

Never mind, all was not lost among the political class. Acting on "climate change" is an ever headline-giving gift; saving the world no less, while robbing people of reliable and affordable power. An even bigger lark than confected Covid hysteria.

To those of us who've managed to keep our sanity, it's hard to understand how everything is being turned on its head. Reliable and affordable power, without which none of the prosperity we enjoy would have been remotely possible, is now evil incarnate. So evil that those countries which have used it little over the past two-hundred and fifty years are entitled to reparations. According to the U.N., reparations in the order of $100 billion USD per year from willful rich countries. If only we’d stuck to horses and buggies and retained our pre-industrial integrity, the planet would be a safer and better place. Visit nomadic tribes in South Sudan for an idyllic taste or maybe visit remote Aboriginal settlements in Arnhem Land.

To be absolutely clear, on the basis of a tenuous and contested scientific proposition, whose alarmist predictions of warming and of extreme weather events have fallen foul of experience, we have set a course to tear the existing high-performance energy system to pieces and become substantially reliant on intermittent, low density energy from the wind and sun; full well knowing that this cannot power a modern economy. How to explain this madness?

Life is better in Arnhem Land.

I have speculated before on a paganised climate hysteria replacing Christianity and, more materially, on the allure of climate boondoggles to opportunists. Whatever the complete explanation, the desperate search for relevance on the part of politicians must, I think, bulk large. Consider the attention they get when trooping to the latest U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP).

Before COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the political debate in Australia was all about whether the then prime minister Scott Morrison would commit to net-zero by 2050. He had the fate of Australia’s energy system for the next thirty years in his very hands; without having, by the way, the least idea of what to do with it.

Politicians, complicit in starting the climate scare, are now its principal promoters. Scaring the populace is not new. American writer H. L. Menken identified it way back in 1918.

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

Scares give politicians relevance. They must know, at least in fleeting moments of self-reflection, that they have no usable skills or experience outside of the cloistered inbred political arena; or at least most don’t. Yet, in this climate age, they are dispensing earthly power and holding sway, with all eyes fixed upon them. Handing out billions to renewable-energy carpetbaggers; determining by how much businesses must cut their emissions; when coal power stations must shut down; the times when Mr. and Mrs. Smith can run their dishwasher, switch on their air conditioner, or plug in their new  electric car. A heady brew. Imagine going back to the days when it was only the economy, stupid. When anodyne economists hogged the headlines.

It's gonna take something big to disencumber politicians from "climate change"; otherwise we are headed for energy poverty and probably a Klaus Schwab wet dream – whatever perversion of capitalism and subversion of freedom that looks like. War with Russia or China could stop it. Neither is an inviting proposition. If there is another way out, it’s well hidden. Politics and big business are bound together in an unholy, mutually reinforcing alliance; the textbook definition of fascism. All for one and one for all, and losses all round.

The 'Red Wave' That Wasn't

So the midterms were a disaster. As the night wore on, close race after close race broke the Democrats' way, and some of the contests which were supposed to be close ended up being comfortable Democratic victories. In the House, the GOP actually won the popular vote, with what looks like a 5 percent swing in their direction from 2020. That did not, however, translate to the large increase of seats many were predicting beforehand.

In the end, Lee Zeldin having made the New York gubernatorial race surprisingly close might prove the difference maker -- Republicans picked up several seats in Long Island and the Hudson Valley which went for Biden in 2020. Meanwhile in the senate, poor candidate quality contributed to the loss of winnable seats.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, the decision to nominate Oprahfied celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz turned out as poorly as it looked from day one, notwithstanding the fact that his opponent, John Fetterman, was seriously incapacitated by a stroke towards the end of the primary, compromising his ability to speak publicly or debate. Oz wasn't helped by having Doug Mastriano at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump's hand-picked gubernatorial candidate who ran a terrible campaign.

Can't anybody here play this game?

Meanwhile, in Georgia, retired professional football player Herschel Walker underperformed the state's Republican governor Brian Kemp by nearly five points. As no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, that race is going to a run-off, and potentially for control of the senate, but Republicans shouldn't get their hopes up. Without Kemp supporting him (and, perhaps more importantly, without Stacey Abrams depressing votes on the Democratic side) Walker could easily underperform.

Which is to say that we're looking at more of the same extremely tight voting splits over the next two years that we've seen over the last two, with Kamala Harris very likely being called upon to break ties in the upper chamber. Those are going to hurt, especially the judicial appointments. Painful too will be the continued disastrous mismanagement of the country, since the White House no longer has an incentive to tap the brakes. Instead, it will be full steam ahead along the road to economic and social ruin.

Still, there are some positives. Florida governor Ron DeSantis won reelection by 20 points, demonstrating that conservative governance can win, and win big, as long as it is coupled with competence and willpower. DeSantis has made himself the early front-runner for the Republican nomination. Ohio's J. D. Vance is likely to be a positive addition to the senate. And, best of all, its unlikely that we'll ever have to hear about election denialist Stacey Abrams or Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, the imaginary Hispanic, ever again.

Still, none of those fully erases the sting of defeat. The only known cure for that is a few stiff drinks while muttering that famous line of H. L. Mencken's: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." That's how this writer is coping, anyway.

Feeling Panicked? Look Under Your Feet

Is there anything sadder than living in the past? I thought of that the other evening when viewing an Australian government ad still desperately pushing Covid boosters and vaccinations for children (aka, child abuse). Those of even modest sense can no longer see the rotting carcass of the Wuhan plague in their rear-view mirrors. To medico fascists, government busybodies, and rapacious big pharma; it’s over, get used to it. You’ll soon think of something else to keep the plebs tremorous. Unless, of course, the climate-change “crisis” is thought sufficient for the day.

Mencken nailed it more than a century ago: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” And, truer it's become, since the application of common sense became unfashionable. Around what time did that happen? Hard to say, but the establishment of the United Nations' IPCC in 1988 was a watershed moment. Shortly after that, if you recall, the scientific methodology of Karl Popper was completely discarded.

The onerous hurdles entailed in rejecting the null hypothesis became infra dig among establishment climatologists and other scientists. Hocus pocus prevailed. The alternative hypothesis that industrial emissions of CO2 were on course to cause catastrophic global warming became settled science. Irrefutable science. Geocentrism revisited.

Mencken: scourge of the booboisie.

Simple minds; to be kinder, blinkered minds; to be unkinder, paid-for minds, reduced the unfathomable complexity of climate variability to the alluring simplicity of statistical correlation; hid within technobabble; the modelling equivalent of bafflegab. Up goes man-made CO2, up goes atmospheric CO2, up goes temperature. Hence the first causes the second and the second the third. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

And by this circuitous route I come to my tale. Imagine Isaac Newton in his day discussing his ideas with friends in one of those new-fangled coffee houses in London or Cambridge. Little did they likely know what scientific revolutions were afoot. Imagine Albert Einstein on his lunch break at the Swiss patent office in Bern talking about speeding trains or accelerating elevators. The gravity, so to speak, of such musings might have gone right over the heads of those in his company. In any event, we know nothing of the everyday companions of famous scientists, unless they too discovered something. History is not about ordinary people.

I have a friend who’s a scientist. Professor Emeritus Ivan Kennedy of Sydney University. His principal field is agricultural science; his speciality, soil science. I’ve mentioned him before on this site in context of his hypothesis that wind turbines cause turbulence and drying in surrounding areas. Possible outcomes: more (warming) water vapour in the atmosphere, less agricultural productivity, and foliage more susceptible to fire. How significant are these effects is indeterminate at this stage? He has a prospective paper in Wind Energy Science. Perhaps that will prompt empirical testing. Perhaps not. His conclusions aren’t within the zeitgeist.

To the larger point, he is presenting a paper in July at the quinquennial National Congress of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute on the effect on atmospheric CO2 of exporting agricultural produce from rural to urban environments. The scientific detail is beyond me, though he's taken time to explain it, but the substantive hypothesis is plain enough. Modern agricultural practices rob the soil of alkalinity, as waste products are not returned to the soil. The resultingly lower pH levels (more acidity) in soils means less net CO2 absorption.

Professor Kennedy’s view is that in normal course man-made CO2 would be absorbed back into the land and oceans and cause no problem. Thus, according to Kennedy, it’s not CO2 emissions per se that is causing increased CO2 in the atmosphere but the reduced ability of low pH soil to absorb it. He notes, on the basis of his “crude estimate,” that this effect “is very substantial, perhaps a major part of the atmospheric increase since the early 1800s.”

Scorched earth? No: parched earth.

Back to statistical correlation, upon which all models, however fancy, are based. Since 1800 the world’s population has increased from about one billion to close to eight billion today. Food production has more than kept up. Cropping has become more extensive and intensive, with closed-system production and use ever declining. I dare say this development correlates pretty well with increased atmospheric CO2. But if it’s not in the models, and it’s not, it won’t be picked up.

My purpose is not to promote Kennedy’s theories. I’m no scientist. On the other hand, they are plausible and certainly demonstrate the appalling naivety of fixing immutably on just one flimsy theory to explain complex phenomena. Who knows, I might be sharing coffee each week with a scientist whose theories will upend the world. Rid us of wind turbines and reinstate coal. Like my made-up chums of Newton and Einstein I will rate no mention in history books, yet I was there. Unlikely? Perhaps.

The delicious irony of the answer lying in the soil is that achieving net-zero industrial and household emissions will be of no avail in reducing atmospheric CO2.  Meanwhile, feeding the growing world population, on course for, say, 10 billion or 11 billion, will go on lowering the pH of soil and thereby increasing atmospheric CO2.

The insufferable irony is that Michael Moore (Planet of the Humans) might be right. Reducing the world’s population is the obvious solution, if indeed reducing atmospheric CO2 is the goal. Can we speedily reduce the population to the one billion of pre-industrial times? Easy-peasy. World government led by an El Supremo (Herr Schwab perhaps). One child per family; that is, only provided they have sufficiently high social-credit scores. Illegal babies aborted. The elderly cajoled into euthanasia, Soylent Green style. Recall, the movie made in 1973 was set in 2022. Somewhat prescient.

And, to go back to my start, this idea of food production causing “catastrophic warming” is a lot scarier than the current theory.  It gives the powers that be enormous scope to control human behaviour at its reproductive dawn and at its degenerative dusk. If only they had the benefit of this theory in 1988. What havoc they could have wreaked. Mind you, there’s still time for them to transition from one big scare to an even bigger one. It might be best to keep shtum about Professor Kennedy’s theory. But there it is, I’ve let the cat out of the bag.