Italy: No Crickets, Real Meat per Favore

Italy's tourism industry took a big hit after that country was raked over the coals in the early months of Covid-19, in large part thanks to its cozy relationship with China. Luckily for all of us, the government of new Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni recognizes that Italian tourism will never make a comeback if they allow environmental activist policies to destroy the country's greatest draw -- its food. From The Daily Scroll:

Synthetic meats originating from a lab are one step closer to being banned in Italy, as lawmakers push a new bill they say will protect Italian food heritage. Praised by farmer lobbies and championed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, the bill recommends fines up to 60,000 euros for violations of the ban.

Coming on the heels of other government action against the use of flour made from crickets and other insects in pasta and pizza, some animal-welfare groups are crying foul over the latest salvo against lab-grown food, which they say is needed to reduce carbon emissions. But the agriculture and food minister, Francesco Lollobrigida, isn’t having it: “Laboratory products do not guarantee quality, well-being, and the protection of the Italian food and wine culture and tradition, to which part of our tradition is linked.”

What is there to say to that but "Bravo!" A rare intrusion of sanity in the governance of Europe. England, France, and Ireland, take note.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Rome-ing

Roma mia Cara! I’m back in the Eternal City for a climate conference which starts tomorrow and I have to say Rome isn’t the worst place for it. Private planes land in the same airport as commercial planes so if you have staffers arriving they can meet your plane without too much fuss. This is much needed because Rome implemented an odd/even system that bans half of the cars from driving into the city center on particularly polluted days. 

The conference itself is a mess. In fairness it’s only their second annual ‘Renewable Meet’ but so far I’m not impressed. Whatever their goal -- they don’t have any of the heavy hitters of the climate world, and certainly none of my clients. If I didn’t know better I’d think they were just trying to make money using a green agenda as cover—also so many big mistakes. From the start, they hounded us about arbitrary deadlines and frankly my climate comrades don’t take well to being bossed around.

Our industry also hit a slump because Miss Puberty Blocker herself (Greta Thunberg) had a meltdown. And not like the original one where she hissed ‘How dare you!. This one involved her making an about-face on nuclear energy. First she was against, now she is for it —which makes us look like we are just making things up. But I guess that’s bound to happen with a 9th-grade education and parents who all but built the orange crate upon which she began her soft-shoe in the first place. Despite dubbing her ‘that Swedish Troll’ Daddy is quick to point out I must have empathy for a twenty-year-old whose autism disorder left her with no option but to hyper-focus on one thing since childhood. I guess I should be grateful she fixated on climate. 

Dr. Puberty Blocker wants action NOW.

I’m also grateful that the Italian scientist Nicola Scafetta isn’t here to needle us. He’s a climate denier who insists natural cycles in the solar system are responsible for most change, and that we are actually headed toward a cooling period. No matter what he says, substantially more scientists and studies have been funded to dispute his theories. But even without him, this conference was a flop. Sixty-six speakers, three days, no alcohol, and no parties. What were they thinking? If they were trying to compete with Davos it wasn’t happening.  And you just wonder how dreadful these academics' own lives must be if this was a break from that.

Wisely, I’d connected with Vespa for whom I’m promoting the new ‘Vespa Elettrica’. The sleekest electric and lithium-ion battery combo in the land. And $100 from every purchase goes to Africa for reasons I don’t understand, but the claim is we can somehow protect them from the next pandemic. More important, I am going to be filmed tearing through the streets of Rome at night with the wind in my hair and the words I AM VESPA POWERED BY BEAUTY flashing across my image. Anything for the cause.

We were between takes when I got a text from Daddy. I wanted to send him a snap of me on the Vespa but he wanted me to know that the Swedish Troll had been given an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki. ‘Is this a joke?’ I whispered.

‘Well, that remains to be seen’, Daddy said, ‘but she is indeed receiving a doctorate’.

‘In WHAT?? I shrieked. ‘Is that the next milepost in Sweden after ninth grade?’ 

‘Calm down, Kitten, before someone hears you—I just thought you should know.  And the doctorate is in theology.’

‘Theology!’ I yelled, stepping away from the crew, then lowering my voice, ‘Theology?? What is that… the study of God? Is she bleeding Joan of Arc now? No of course she isn’t… Joan of Arc died as a teenager.  This troll is already twenty!’

‘Jennifer!’ My father barked. ‘Get a hold of yourself. As little respect as I already have for your industry, this hardly qualifies as high drama’.

Nothing she won't do to save the planet.

Well of course he was right but I just wanted something to go as it should. And it just didn’t seem like we should reward someone who walked back her made-up predictions and got famous for looking like a waif. ‘Thank you, Daddy’. I said. ‘I’m sorry’. 

‘That’s better’, he said. ‘Listen, Why don’t you get yourself a nice glass of wine and a plate of pasta….’

‘No wine!’ I interrupted. ‘I’m driving! And also I wanted to surprise you with a replica of the picture of you and mummy here in Rome’.  

‘Well I promise to act surprised’. Daddy  said. Which made me laugh.

While I waited for the director to check the gate, I furiously scrolled on my phone… it was a joke. Eight honorary doctorates were being given, all of them professors or bishops except after Greta’s name it just said ‘activist’ where it should have said ‘gnome’. That was deeply unkind, and not very Cheltenham of me. I was ashamed and it occurred to me she was already too old to even finish high school or get any kind of a normal degree. So in a way this made up for having spent her time travelling by boat.

The director called a wrap and so I said my goodbyes and got someone to hop on the Vespa with me for a selfie. As the crew packed up their gear I looked around at the majesty that is Rome. Wow. It just never gets old. Regardless of the conference, I was so glad to be here. Glad to bask in the untold stories of those that came before me.

I looked up to a balcony and wondered if spectators had gathered there to watch the riderless horses when Via del Corso served as a racetrack. And then I thought about poor little Greta. Should I ever see her again I would teach her to ride horses. I could do that for her. And I would.

The Utter Folly of European 'Climate Policy'

Europeans will starve, go hungry and be jobless in large numbers unless the European Union and national politicians do an about-face on climate policy. The United States is not far behind, although has more tools to displace failed leaders than do people under the thumb of the European Union. This winter is but a taste of things to come.

An extensive analysis—50 points—of the folly of "climate policy" is found at; in sum it evinces there is no “climate emergency,” the goal of Net-Zero by 2050 is “delusional,” neither warranted, feasible, nor politically possible and would be so costly it would “drive a 33 percent average reduction in all government spending on health, housing, education, social welfare, police, climate adaptation, defense, social justice, etc.” As the measurable big decrease in global economic output during the pandemic lockdowns established, slashing living standards will not result in a “measurable decrease atmospheric CO2.” The only feasible means to phase out fossil fuels are technological advances, which means the shift cannot be mandated by government and of necessity the shift will be slow.

In any event, nothing the West can do changes the fact that during the next quarter century “over 80 percent of all increased global emissions” will occur in Asia. Moreover, for decades to come, “Asia, South America, and Africa “will represent over 90 percent of future increases in energy consumption.” Any effort must be global, not nation-by-nation. It’s simply not a first-world issue, and it’s irrational to pretend otherwise.

Women's work.

Also irrational is the pretense that we can limit energy use. We need it for everything and the demand is growing. It may be a surprise to learn that “Global smart phone production uses 15 percent more energy as the automotive industry.... the Cloud uses twice a much electricity worldwide as all of Japan.” This would surely set back on their heels the anti-fossil fuel crowd gathered everywhere in clothes manufactured from petroleum-based materials and coordinating their activities by iPhones, if only someone told them. 

In the meantime, this winter Europeans are getting to see first hand the folly of the "climate change" cult thinking of the European Union and its national leaders. They are already seeing food and energy shortages and the beginning of deindustrialization. In a series of tweets Alexander Stahel, CIO of a Swiss investment management firm, sets out a number of developments in various European countries, to flesh out what news summaries do not—the desperate near- and long-term consequences of Europe’s “gigantic structural” problem. Here are a few examples.

As prices increase, along with scarce food, limited transport options, and winter heating, it’s easy to see why unrest in Europe is growing. The Yellow Vests in France have been demonstrating against, inter alia, rising fuel costs and austerity measures for almost four years. (The most recent French complaint about the emissions mandates involve the E.U.’s ban on an insecticide needed to deal with a beetle that devastates mustard plants.)

In the Netherlands, farmers have been protesting and blocking roads with their tractors for almost three years because of proposals to limit industrial fodder and livestock production to lower emissions from the nitrogen cycle. More recently, protests have against energy shortages have cropped up in Belgium where thousands of people have been protesting against the huge rise in the cost of living, driving “rising food prices, startling energy bills and frustration with politicians and employers.”

And then there’s Italy, where conservative firebrand Giorgia Meloni is poised to occupy the prime minister’s office after the recent elections saw her Brothers of Italy party surge to power. Meloni is more concerned with battling Europe's coming energy crisis than she is with "climate change," and has called for the EU. member states to work together to solve the problem before the problem solves them: "We need a common solution at the European level to help firms and families," she said in a statement. "No member state can offer effective and long term solutions on its own." Meloni's position on "climate change" already has the Left terrified, and its slander machine going full blast:

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neo-fascist, right-wing populist Brothers of Italy party, is poised to become Italy’s first woman prime minister. This is as much a victory for feminism as Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the UK, which is to say that it is no victory at all. Meloni boasts the familiar spate of ultra-conservative views with a few terrifying twists: not only has she called Mussolini a “good politician,” she also aligns herself with the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. While her fascist leanings and the threats her ascent poses to human rights have been widely discussed, Meloni’s stance on environmental issues has been left relatively uninterrogated... it seems that Italy’s next government will be pursuing the promise of nuclear power and leaning into domestic natural gas extraction. Renewable energy forms, like solar and wind, are decidedly absent from the agenda. Meloni’s party has also criticised the EU’s ban on combustion engine cars by 2035 as “a sensational own-goal” and is likely to support junior coalition partner Matteo Salvini’s call for an Italian referendum to overturn the decision.

Also women's work.

Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, threatened the Meloni coalition with "consequences" if it “veers from democracy,” which is rather ironic as there’s nothing particularly democratic about the Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, both of which are self-perpetuating sclerotic bureaucracies. Her threat reminds that the Commission has called upon the Union’s council to suspend 7.5 billion Euros from Hungary for “corruption.” Poland has said it will oppose such sanctions and criticized Von der Leyen’s not so veiled threats as did several Italian political leaders.

I don’t know if the present energy crisis will be enough to lead more countries to exit the European Union, which has, as we saw with Brexit, lots of tools to rein in unwilling members from so doing, but it just might if the winter is cold enough and the E.U. continues its suicidal foolishness and arrogance.

A Tale of Two Emergencies

For the last few years the peoples of the Western world have been repeatedly warned in the most frightening terms that they are facing a vast climate “emergency,” but they’ve had the greatest difficulty in keeping their eyes open when the emergency was explained to them. Worse than that, when their eyes have been opened forcibly by election campaigns, they have generally voted to reject the solution—namely, carbon taxation—proposed to them by their governments. And where there’s been a realistic choice, they’ve often rejected the governments too.

In response to this climate skepticism, Greta Thunberg, the anti-establishment protesters of Extinction Rebellion, and the woke Left have joined governments in ramping up the pressure on ordinary citizens to support extreme solutions (see below) to climate change because if we don’t, the world will end in twelve years. Even so the main public response to the protests—disrupting city centres, glueing themselves to roads, and blocking pipelines and mines—taken by the activists and tacitly supported by the authorities has been public anger and demands that they protesters be restrained and prosecuted.

It’s almost as if most of the public don’t really believe there’s a climate emergency.

Now, it’s certainly not because the public doesn’t believe in emergencies in general, or in taking them lightly when they occur, or in shrugging their shoulders and letting governments get on with coping with them. All that has become panic-shriekingly clear in the last two weeks as the Coronavirus emergency has burst into the public mind and provoked supermarket rioting across the world.  So it’s worth looking at the two emergencies and what the differences between them tell us about the politics of emergency in the wider context.

The first and most obvious difference is that whereas governments struggle to make the people care about climate change, it’s the ordinary people who are demanding faster action, more effective medical responses, and bolder intervention by governments, even limits to civil liberties, to halt the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The former emergency has been one in which governments put pressure on the people, usually to little or no avail; the latter is one in which the people pressure the governments, sometimes having an impact either in policy or on national life.

Of course, the reason for this is not mysterious. There really is an emergency over Covid-19 (to give the virus its full official title): people are contracting the illness almost everywhere, dying in large numbers in some countries, and the numbers of both infections and deaths are increasingly daily. The Johns Hopkins Tracking Map keeps an up-to-the-minute score which currently shows 136,929 infected people and 5058 deaths worldwide. China, Italy, and Iran have suffered the most of both so far, but other countries are catching up. Europe looks like it's replacing East Asia as the worst hit region. People everywhere feel that the virus may soon come to a street near them. And as Dr. Johnson might have said, the prospect of catching a potentially fatal illness concentrates the mind wonderfully. 

That’s led in turn to a second difference: attitudes to the experts and their advice.  On climate change, experts have been elevated to a position of near-omniscience. Those who dispute the orthodox “consensus” of climate scientists, including skeptics who are themselves climate scientists, are labelled “climate deniers,” and media outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian either exclude them from the discussion or attach a “health warning” to their contributions. Debate is discouraged. Only one version of scientific truth is regarded as respectable, even though the underlying basis of science is that truth is always provisional. Something is true until it's displaced by another truth, usually one that can be demonstrated by experiment.

In the coronavirus debate, however, public concern over the imminent risks to them have led to a more skeptical attitude. Experts and the governments they advise have come under severe criticism for not seeing the warning signs of the epidemic—now classed by the World Health Organization as a pandemic—early enough and for not advising sufficiently strong measures to contain it when they realized it was happening. They cite reasons for the first failure: the Chinese government, with the World Health Organization turning a blind eye, kept the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak under wraps and allowed it to spread beneath the radars of most other nations.

The second failure—if it is one—is more complicated, and we probably won’t know the full truth about it until after the pandemic is over. There's a broad division of opinion between the experts on how to deal with a pandemic once it’s no longer “contained.” The expert view adopted by most countries (and which also sounds like commonsense to most people) is that you should pursue an active policy of “social distancing:" encouraging individual citizens to self-isolate, and banning large gatherings, closing cinemas, restaurants, and most shops, and restricting passage over borders. That will hinder the spread of the virus, even if it can't prevent it.

The other expert view, exhibited most clearly in UK policy, is that these measures won’t really work but instead will mean that mass infections are likely to "peak" all together at a particular time and to overwhelm health services when they do. We see something like that in Italy today. The UK view is that it’s better for infections to be stretched out over a time so that hospitals can cope with the several smaller “peaks” as they occur in succession. This delaying effect will also push the spread of the virus into the summer months when it’s less dangerous and a vaccine is more likely to have been developed.

Now, I don’t know which of those two theories is correct. But I do know that the UK version has been developed by expert professionals over many years of studying earlier epidemics. It wasn’t dreamed up by Dominic Cummings over lunch in Whitehall.  Other experts in the UK disagree, however, and want a more aggressive shutdown and a tougher approach to social isolation. And, understandably, they have a lot of support from a worried public.

I don't intend to decide between these two expert views. The course of the coronavirus pandemic will eventually do that. But I do conclude that when an emergency is real, experts will likely differ on how to deal with it, and the public will want to hear the arguments of both sides fairly thrashed out. If the climate emergency ever becomes real in the public mind, then the scientific consensus won’t last long. People will want answers to a lot of questions, and both climate scientists and economists who question the prevailing orthodoxy will be given a hearing.

Many other differences between these two emergencies illuminate how policy-making inevitably changes when it ceases to be theoretical and becomes a matter of hard choices. One of the important but rarely emphasized elements in the 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on mitigating global warming is that it will incorporate a massive re-distribution of resources from the West to the developing world, including China. Well, a sacrifice is easy to endorse when it’s many debates away from implementation. But the hostility to China over its Chernobyl-like censorship of the rise and spread of the virus suggests that most Western countries—Trudeau's Canada perhaps excepted—won't be too keen on transferring their resources to a great power that sometimes seems to be a hostile one. Nor will they be happy to do so under the auspices of the kind of international civil servants who in WHO allowed Beijing to keep the epidemic under very non-transparent wraps. And even without these recent incentives to national self-interest, governments will be much more nervous about sending out more public money abroad when the voters are paying the kind of attention to climate policy they now give to the pandemic.

So the best question about the most important difference between the two emergencies was posed—though he thought he was answering it—by the former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, when he tweeted as follows about the coronavirus crisis:

A silver lining: Climate activists have been told again & again that people will never consent to major changes in their lifestyle. Well, Covid-19 changed all that! Once the epidemic ends, we must demonstrate that a better, green, post-capitalist lifestyle can be fun!

Good luck with that, as the saying goes. For it glosses over some very important distinctions--or perhaps I should call them inconvenient truths.  

Have people really consented to major changes in their lifestyle in the Covid-19 crisis? Sure, they’ve been prepared to accept some voluntary social isolation and to impose isolation on their reluctant neighbors because they want to be safe. And living is not a trivial part of any lifestyle. But the restrictions they accept or demand are strictly temporary. It has needed a deathly threat to persuade them to go as far as that. And the experts advising the UK government don’t think social distancing and self-isolation, either voluntary or enforced, will be fun either. In fact the reason they propose a policy depending much less on that approach is that they think people will get tired of it quite soon, after about a month, start breaking their semi-quarantine and reverse its earlier gains.

Those modest sacrifices, however, don’t begin to compare with the massive impoverishment that would follow the proposals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to keep the rise in world temperature to 1.5 degrees between now and 2050. This would require a massive reduction in carbon emissions in the West’s economies, which in turn that would mean far higher prices of the energy that powers every aspect of our lives and working lives -- industry, agriculture, transport, communications, travel, and the kind of homes we can afford to live in. Governments have assented to this—it's an intergovernmental organization, after all—but it’s doubtful if even senior ministers have grasped what it would mean for their economies, let alone their voters.

And the IPCC report does not exactly spell it out. Advocates of Green politics and net-zero emissions policy rarely go into detail on it. And the IPCC's 2018 executive summary—turgid and verbose though it is compared to the clarity of the UK medical experts—devotes very little space to the proposed economic shutdown and none at all to what it would cost. As it writes sotto voce: “The literature on total mitigation costs of 1.5°C mitigation pathways is limited and was not assessed in this Report.”  

And that impoverished lifestyle is not for one or two months. It’s a forever thing.  If I had a more suspicious nature, I’d think Varoufakis was proposing this in revenge for what the EU, the IMF, and then ECB did to Greece.

But if not: Have fun, Yanis.