U.N. Climate Report: Cloudy, with No Chance of Silver Linings

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come forth with a new sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. In it the IPCC pretends science can predict what is impossible to predict: the variables in something as complex as climate. (If something is impossible to predict it is not based on science).

The IPCC's solutions are no better than its science. Given the IPCC’s leftist political orientation it ignores the data which show that increases in available energy sources and capitalism demonstrably lift more boats and improve the environment faster and more substantially than handing over money to government agencies and restricting conventional energy production.

The proposals the IPCC advances require a lot of fast and fancy footwork to obscure the fact that they can’t withstand close scrutiny:

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Wildfires

The section on the effect of climate change on wildfires begins with an assertion that in the Amazon, Australia, North America and Siberia wildfires are burning wider areas than in the past and human-caused climate change has driven the increases in the forests of western North America but, that “elsewhere, deforestation, fire suppression agricultural burning, and short-term cycles like el-Nino can exert a stronger influence than climate change.” It’s of a piece with claims made earlier by others, including NASA, and just as false.

In fact, bad land-management policies in western North America are a more significant driver of wildfires than anthropogenic climate change.  Depending on moisture content, most fuels must reach ignition temperatures between 644°F (340°C) and 795°F (440°C) to start a fire. The IPCC report makes the same mistake that NASA earlier made:

Stronger winds are more dangerous in part, because they transport larger embers. Small embers lack adequate energy to raise fuels from ambient temperatures of 70°F or 90°F to an ignition temperature of 644°F and higher. More so, the 2°F increase in global air temperatures since the Little Ice Age, increases the fuel’s temperature insignificantly and thus highly unlikely to increase 'the likelihood of a fire starting, or increasing the speed at which it spreads' as NASA claimed.

Reduction in both fire -uppression policies and the creation of fire breaks are a more likely driver of western wildfires. The warmer dry periods in these areas cannot be sufficient to reduce the humidity inside trees so as to affect wildfires: “From a global warming perspective, if relative humidity is kept constant during California’s rainless summers, for every 2 °F increase in temperature anomalies, calculations estimate that moisture content will only decrease by a rather insignificant 0.056% .” In any event the drier air is more closely related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the el Nino and la Nina events over which man has no role. Historically, wildfires increased in the southwest when “let it burn” policies were instituted; and ice cores reveal that “maximum fire activity in boreal forests occurred during the Little Ice Age between 1500-1700 AD and was attributed to the failure of Asian monsoons about which, again, man has no control and as to which he had no impact.

Dr. Jon Keeley, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who researched the topic for four decades was clear: “We’ve looked at the history of climate and fire throughout the whole state [of California] and through much of the state, particularly the western half of the state, we don’t see any relationship between past climates and the amount of area burned in any given year.”

 Every politician, every environmental group and every scientist trying to scare up more funding by uncritically blaming wildfires on CO2- induced climate change are not only ignoring good published science, but they’re also pushing wrong remedies and downplaying the correct remedies needed to benefit society and our environment. Better managed landscapes that control fuel supplies, and the re-introduction of fires via prescribed burns, will create more effective firebreaks and more healthy open habitat that coincidentally also increases wildlife diversity.

I cannot fathom the motives of the IPCC authors of this section but if one were to suggest it was to cover the rear end of California governor Newsom and his blinkered forest management policies, you’d be hard pressed to refute that. Of course, given the overall tenor of the report one might as well suspect the idea is to enrich Third World countries at our expense under the guise of preventing a disastrous climate change.

Trust us.

Plastics

As if there weren’t enough U.N. generated, we’re-all- going- to- die scenarios, it has added plastic pollution to its doomsday tallies. Representatives of 175 nations at the U.N. committed to creation of a plastic treaty that would not only deal with recycling, but as well to the production of plastics. They hope to get it written by 2024, which I suppose gives us some breathing room in which legislative virtue-signalers can further beset us with limitations on useful products.

 “We are making history today,” said Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s climate and the environment minister and president of the United Nations Environment Assembly, which took place for the past week in Nairobi, Kenya. In an earlier interview, he said that, given Russia’s war in Ukraine, it was particularly significant that “this divided world can still agree on something, based on science.”

Based on science? The effort seems, like much in the IPCC report, short on the concepts of human ingenuity and mitigation. Locality after locality in the United States has jumped on the band wagon, banning plastic straws, and banning or taxing shopping bags. For what end, besides virtue signaling and grift? (As in the District of Columbia where the tax on plastic grocery bags supposedly to clean up the Anacostia River went to fund a project by the council member who proposed it and when, having left the council, now heads the non-profit which has nothing to do with cleaning up the river?)

Ninety percent of the plastics in the ocean come from ten rivers, and those rivers are all in Asia. In descending order, the waterways are the Citarum River in Indonesia, the Yangtze River (China), the Indus River (Pakistan), The Yellow River (China), the Hai River (China) the Ganges River (India), the Pearl River(China) the Amur River (China and Russia) , the Niger River( 5 African countries), the Mekong River (China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam).

Most of these countries have several things in common: They are poor or have substantial numbers of poor citizens and are generally poor managers of their public spaces and community hygiene. You can bet that, just like China and India’s exemption from international carbon emissions controls, they will angle for and receive exemption in this yet-to-be devised treaty . Claims that richer nations have fobbed off the environmental degradation caused by plastics by shipping off plastic trash to such countries, ignores the benefit to them and the environment of recycling this material.

Import of plastic waste in lower-income countries like these also has been associated with growth in gross domestic product. It seems a great deal of the plastic waste shipped there from places like the United States and Britain are recycled and used instead of virgin materials to make useful products. That  process results in fewer carbon emissions and  ocean pollution. It’s an economical practice which uses less fossil fuels, the climate-change advocates' bogeyman. For a time, the used plastics from the U.S. and Britain were sent to China, but because of scandals involving mixing toxic waste into these plastics and dumping instead of reprocessing them, China stopped allowing their importation. Naturally, the doomsters believed this would only add to ocean pollution. Instead, it went to even poorer Asian countries where recycling it has been evolving into big business. There people such as Seah Kian Hoe, who as a kid used to collect scrap door-to-door for reuse now employs 350 people to run Heng Hiap Industries one of the top five plastic recycling businesses in his country which processed tons of waste per year.

There's gold in them thar bottles.

It's labor-intensive work and like clothing manufacturing takes less skilled workers and less capital. It’s a normal national economic progression. Such work is done in poorer countries and as they get richer they can hire more skilled workers, invest in more advanced technologies, and they can use those technologies to simplify and increase production, improve workers health and safety, and reduce pollution.

Heng Hiap Industries works with over 28,000 domestic plastic recyclers to buy and convert plastic scraps into high performance resin before selling it to clients that include top South Korean appliance manufacturers and Japanese automotive companies… By digitally transforming its plastic recycling operations, Heng Hiap aims to collect more and better-quality plastic by extending its collection infrastructure beyond informal collectors and grassroots recyclers, all the way to the household level, through a simplified and user-friendly collection process. In the long term, the plastic recycling company envisions creating a truly circular economy for plastics by helping its business-to-business (B2B) customers address the growing pressure from eco-conscious consumers for greater transparency and traceability.

This is not a new phenomenon. We’ve seen over and again how capitalism, ingenuity, and adaptability all combine to lift poor nations up. And higher GDP correlates with better environmental practices. In other places, we’ve seen poor countries go from labor-intensive but capital-short clothing manufacturing to such things as chip manufacturing in a very short time. As the process of recycling plastic has gone from low-level Chinese recycling to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, we are seeing improved infrastructure, products,  returns for  both the manufacturers and the customers of the end products, and the environment.

Why Is the 'Climate Change' Crew So Opposed to Clean Energy?

If you want to see how transparently phony the "environmentalist movement" is, and discern clearly what its real motives are, you need look no farther than its dedicated opposition not only to the dread "fossil fuels," but to the cleanest form of energy there is: nuclear power. Once a sign of an advanced technological civilization, and the pride of the nations that employed it -- not only the United States but France and Sweden -- nuclear power has acquired an onus that we might trace directly back to Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the movie that cursed nuclear energy with all the power Hollywood had to muster, director James Bridges's The China Syndrome.

The 1979 accident at Three Mile Island -- the same year the movie came out -- killed nobody, and was quickly brought under control but, hyped by the American media, it caused deep unease in the American public, in part because of the word "nuclear" and its radioactive-weapons connotations.  The spectacular meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 and the lethal accident at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, understandably exacerbated fears. But the disaster in the Ukraine was caused by typical Soviet incompetence and unreliable technology, most likely compounded by classically Soviet drunkenness; the Fukushima meltown occurred in the aftermath of a major underwater earthquake (9.0 on the Richter scale) and tsunami and had nothing to do with intrinsic technological failure or human error.

Another Three Mile Island is unlike to happen again. As the World Nuclear Association notes, citing the Department of Energy's official  report:

When the TMI-2 accident is recalled, it is often in the context of what happened on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. The drama of the TMI-2 accident-induced fear, stress and confusion on those two days... "Because of confused telephone conversations between people uninformed about the plant's status, officials concluded that the 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) reading was an off-site reading. They also believed that another hydrogen explosion was possible, that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had ordered evacuation and that a meltdown was conceivable.

"Garbled communications reported by the media generated a debate over evacuation. Whether or not there were evacuation plans soon became academic. What happened on Friday was not a planned evacuation but a weekend exodus based not on what was actually happening at Three Mile Island but on what government officials and the media imagined might happen. On Friday confused communications created the politics of fear." (Page 50)

The Three Mile Island accident caused concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects, principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. Because of those concerns, the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state's registry was discontinued in mid 1997, without any evidence of unusual health trends in the area.

Indeed, more than a dozen major, independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident. The only detectable effect was psychological stress during and shortly after the accident.

We can see where the stress came from -- the media's garbled, confused, and inexpert early reporting, combined with its natural tendency to overhype the apocalypse at every turn. Little has changed since; indeed an irresponsible press now treats the most routine weather stories as potentially catastrophic events, for which running for the hills is the only rational response. And since all narratives need a bad guy, make Big Energy not only incompetent but malicious. As writer Andrew Tood notes in "How THE CHINA SYNDROME Brought Down The Nuclear Power Industry":

Bridges’ film doesn’t lay the blame at the foot of the technology - which, in an ideal world, would provide plentiful and accident-free energy to millions. It’s people, and institutions, that get the stick. From inspectors falsifying records to finish their job quickly, to managers reluctant to order costly repair work, to executives covering it all up to score new contracts, the nuclear industry is presented as criminally negligent at all levels. It’s even depicted as outright malicious - not entirely without cause, given foul-play theories over the death of nuclear union activist Karen Silkwood - to the extent that the company would murder multiple people to maintain its reputation.

Predictably, the nuclear industry had a fiery reaction. Westinghouse executive John Taylor described the film as “an overall character assassination of an entire industry.” Nuclear experts generally agreed that the film’s specific events were highly improbable (if not entirely impossible), but also that an inherent clash exists between earning corporate profits and spending the money required to keep reactors safe. The industry may have been correct to debate the film's finer technical points or melodramatic ending, but it’s hard to argue that unchecked capitalism doesn't encourage corner-cutting.

Those darn capitalists, who can't wait to kill their customers just because they can. But therein lies the resistance to nuclear power, carefully fanned over the ensuing decades; it's now simply assumed that nuclear = death by the climate-change activists, freeing them from having to explain their opposition to entirely clean energy. Still, the fact that the "climate change" seems not only disinterested in, but actively hostile to, clean sources of energy ought to tell you something. Maybe it's not the cleanliness, or lack therefore, of energy they object to: maybe it's energy itselfMike Shellenberger writes at Forbes:

Why is it that, from the U.S. and Canada to Spain and France, it is progressives and socialists who say they care deeply about the climate, not conservative climate skeptics, who are seeking to shut down nuclear plants? After all, the two greatest successes when it comes to nuclear energy are Sweden and France, two nations held up by democratic socialists for decades as models of the kind of societies they want. It is only nuclear energy, not solar and wind, that has radically and rapidly decarbonized energy supplies while increasing wages and growing societal wealth.

And it is only nuclear that has, by powering high-speed trains everywhere from France to Japan to China, decarbonized transportation, which is the source of about one-third of the emissions humankind creates. For many people the answer is obvious: ignorance. Few people know that nuclear is the safest source of electricity. Or that low levels of radiation are harmless. Or that nuclear waste is the best kind of waste... few things have proven worse for the climate than shutting down nuclear plants.

Ah, they say, we prefer "renewables" (boiling water, which is all nuclear power amounts to, is about as renewable as you can get). What about wind power and solar and pixie dust and unicorn farts? We might call this the pathetic fallacy, the 18th-century notion of attributing human emotions and values to inanimate objects:

Ordinary people tell pollsters they want renewables for the same reason they buy products labeled “natural”: they are in the grip of an unconscious appeal-to-nature fallacy. The appeal-to-nature fallacy is the mistaken belief that the world can be divided into “natural” and “unnatural” things, and that the former are better, safer, or cleaner than the latter.

In reality, solar farms require hundreds of times more land, an order of magnitude more mining for materials, and create hundreds of times more waste, than do nuclear plants. And wind farms kill hundreds of thousands of threatened and endangered birds, may make the hoary bat go extinct, and kill more people than nuclear plants. But because of our positive feelings toward sunlight, water and wind, which we view as more natural than uranium, many people unconsciously assume renewables are better for the environment.

But they aren't -- as investors in these chimerical solutions to a non-existent problem can attest. We're just now understanding the problems inherent in recycling wind turbines and solar panels, neither of which provide any direct power but instead simply contribute, in their meager and unreliable way, to the existing power grid. The truth is, the big-government globalists manipulating poor fools like Greta Thunberg and the members of her children's crusade are after only thing. As I wrote in this space last week, the people are the New Luddites.

Not saving the planet (George Carlin memorably skewered this absurd notion in a hilarious, scatological NSFW monologue years ago). Not creating a cleaner environment (the environment probably has never been so clean) -- because, when you get right down to it, their definition of "pollution" is... us

What they're after is simply your money, to extract it by any means necessary: by manipulating children, by frightening the next generation into thinking the End is Nigh, by trying to outlaw legal industries that have brought nothing but good things -- like heat and light! -- to humanity at a relatively small cost and with effectively zero permanent damage to an anthropomorphized planet. Using a compliant, careless, and ignorant media, they push the narrative that we and our dirty lifestyles (only in the West! The Chinese and the Indians are just... ooops) are responsible for all the ills of the world. It's time we stood up to them, and reveal them as the monsters they are to the children they are trying to frighten.

Take a good look, kids:

And have a nice day.