Of Carbon, Carbs, Keto, and Canada

Canada was once a hale and hearty country, or at least, it was not in excessively terrible shape, until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided it was packing too much weight, foundering on a surfeit of carbs. The only solution was to put the country on a high-rez, environmental keto diet. The keto diet, we recall, restricts carbs to 50 grams or fewer per day to promote a state of nutritional ketosis. The body will burn fat instead of carbs, thus producing energy, muscle tone and overall natural fitness. Of course, industrial keto has nothing to do with healthful outcomes—quite the reverse—but the analogy holds.

In terms of radical enviro-thinking, the nation will eliminate or reduce its reliance on carbon and will burn solar and wind to produce energy to power our homes and industries. The nation will then grow stronger, healthier and more productive, and the economy of the body politic will correspondingly improve. The problem with this hypothesis is that environmental ketogenesis has got it wrong way round. It is both ideologically dangerous and environmentally unsound. 

For one thing, environmentally speaking, carbs are good. In his various books, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cool It and False Alarm, Green skeptic and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center Bjorn Lomborg contends that global paroxysms over the heating of the atmosphere are utterly misplaced. The planet is not facing a climate cataclysm. As Lomborg writes, “more CO in the atmosphere has acted as a fertilizer and created a profound global greening of the planet.”

Good old carbon.

Similarly, in Heaven and Earth, geologist and University of Melbourne Earth Sciences professor Ian Plimer points out that CO₂ is a vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into life-giving oxygen. The vendetta against carbon can lead to no good.

Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair and Michael Shellenberger’s authoritative Apocalypse Never effectively lay out the case for environmental CO2 as a crop multiplier and a benefactor of life and prosperity—a counterintuitive fact not understood by the myopic catastrophism of the global warming crowd. “Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels,” writes astrophysicist S. Fred Singer in his blockbuster Hot Talk, Cold Science, “becomes a natural resource for humanity rather than an imagined menace to global climate.” Singer’s examination of the relevant facts is convincing.

Carbon capture, carbon offsets and renewable energy subsidies amount to a fool’s errand. An environmentally-unfriendly, landscape-defiling, uglifying architecture of wind turbines and solar panels is not only largely unworkable and egregiously costly but actually futile. Neither the economy nor the backup electrical grid can sustain them for any length of time. The uncomfortable truth is that wind is capricious and sun prefers the tropics; air and light are non-dispatchable energy sources. The power-intermittency problem is crucial and baseload battery storage to solve the deficits is inordinately complicated, obscenely expensive and far from currently feasible. The aeolian fantasy persists.

These are facts that cannot be “fact-checked” or IPCC’d out of the physical record. Moreover, as Lomborg shows in The Skeptical Environmentalist, there is no dependable method of modeling an open system such as the earth, and there is no climate modeling system that can yield accurate predictions. The data insistently driving industrial keto are highly questionable. The advantages of carbs to the environment are not.

For another thing, the reduction in the percentage of atmospheric carbs owing to “Green technology,” carbon capture and punitive carbon taxes is infinitesimal. One of the few Canadian dailies that appears to have retained a measure of editorial independence, the Regina Leader-Post, reports that Canada’s new climate plan banking on carbon capture is a pipe dream. The newspaper quotes Julia Levin, senior program manager at Environmental Defence and author of the Buyer Beware: Fossil Fuels Subsidies and Carbon Capture Fairy Tales in Canada Report, who dismisses Canada’s climate strategy as “not at all realistic.”

The Leader-Post continues: “Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects only capture 0.05 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the new report, published March 31 by Environmental Defence.” Given exorbitant technology costs and the meagre emissions reductions they yield, the scheme is an administrative delusion. The global record is even worse, amounting to only 0.001 per cent of total emissions. To add injury to injury, in some cases carbon capture systems emit more carbon than they capture.

Lots of CO2 in this atmosphere.

As for carbon taxes, they do far more harm than good, being essentially a form of virtue signaling lavishly emitted by the Canadian prime minister. Their effect is to diminish productivity, raise prices, reduce disposable revenue and elevate the poverty index, all in order to materially change consumption behavior to medieval levels of scarcity. Carbon taxes have increased every year since 2019, when the tax was introduced at $20 per tonne of emissions, and will continue to rise annually up to $170 per tonne in 2030. Added to the rising cost of transportation, housing and food due to inflation, they represent a net loss for most households. Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux is very clear about the harmful effects of the tax: “When including the economic impacts as well, most are worse off.” 

Carbon pricing especially hurts farmers deep in the pocketbook owing to the mounting expense of propane, fertilizer and transport. The fact is that Canada cannot feed itself without sufficient and high-capacity agriculture and a solvent farming community to harvest its product and move it to market, any more than it can heat its homes and keep a G20 nation running without fossil fuels.

It has been sensibly argued that a northern country like Canada subject to long and harsh winters is uninhabitable without ample and secure supplies of coal, oil and natural gas. As Energy Policy Analyst David Yager states in From Miracle to Menace, to believe otherwise “is against the reality of what is required to live in this large, cold and dark country for much of the year.” The trouble is, Yager says, that we Canadians are living in “a parallel universe where the basic laws of physics, common sense, reality and even basic honesty no longer apply... Canada’s self-appointed climate leadership role,” he concludes, “is a failure.” There can be no doubt that a viable economy is reliant on plentiful and readily exploitable energy and agricultural resources, development and experiment, for both domestic and export purposes, which we are now sacrificing to climate folly. 

Indeed, the controversy around fossil fuels is merely academic. Belatedly realistic countries, despite their infatuation with renewables, will tap out of this particular bout against carbon. They may begin to look unfavorably on ESG investment of private pension funds in underperforming alternative fuels concerns. Conventional forms of energy, abetted by nuclear power plants, must necessarily be with us for the foreseeable future. There is no way around this reality unless we are willing to crash our economies and opt for endemic shortages of everyday essentials and a dramatically diminished lifestyle with little prospect of recovery. Interestingly, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted in its 2022 Annual Energy Outlook that hydrocarbons “will increase through 2050 as a result of population and economic growth.”

A virtue-signaling luxury Canada can no longer afford.

Canada, however, remains oblivious to such findings as it continues to believe in and advocate for renewables, which is merely whistling past the oilpatch. Should we improbably win the war against carbon, we will then have lost everything. Canada sees itself as the bellwether in an ostensibly noble fight that, in reality, garners nothing but parliamentary plaudits and massive corporate profit. As Rupert Darwall reveals in his must-read Green Tyranny, it is not Big Oil that is the villain of the piece; it is Big Green. Everyone else will suffer. The writing is on the factory gate. Energy costs, stemming from both foreign sanctions and a modicum of domestic production, are sending retail prices through the roof.

Any way one looks at it, the climatological keto diet is a prohibitive farce. Taking carbon out of the planetary ecology is a very bad idea to begin with. If the project is ever carried out to putative net-zero, the dieter will sicken and find himself on intimate terms with sparsity. As Ian Plimer argues with abundant evidence in his recent Green Murder, “It has never been shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming”—which, as noted, is by no means a catastrophe but a benefit. We should take heed. Carbon deficiency means less fecundity, less productivity and less prosperity. It will likely mean famine in many parts of the world. 

Canada had better wake up asap. As a country facing critical reductions all across the board—energy extraction, investment, jobs, household income, farming, manufacturing, GDP to debt ratio—we don’t need our clamorous Green saviors, Woke investors, faux-ethical functionaries, and ideological champions. They are completely dispensable. But we do need our carbs, which are not.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Wind Power

Great news for the climate crowd: For the first time ever, wind successfully generated more energy than coal and nuclear!

Power generation from wind turbines was the second-largest source of electricity in the United States on March 29, behind only natural gas and surpassing both coal and nuclear power generation for the first time on record, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday. On March 29, wind turbines in the lower 48 states produced 2,017 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity, EIA’s Hourly Electric Grid Monitor showed. Daily wind-powered electricity had surpassed coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation separately on other days earlier this year but had not surpassed both sources on a single day, the administration noted.

Their beloved wind turbines successfully out competed coal and nuclear! The Watermelons must be so proud!

Still, they might not want to break out the party hats quite yet. As the statement above makes clear, this milestone only accounts for a single day of power generation. A particularly windy day, no doubt. Which is to say, it is right in line with the intermittency problem energy realists often bring up in debates with wind enthusiasts. Sure, it's fun to go outside with your pinwheel on a windy day. But when the wind isn't blowing it's no fun at all.

And when your pinwheel is as tall as the Statue of Liberty and you're expecting it to power your energy grid, you end up in a tough spot. That's what Europe discovered earlier this year, when energy prices went crazy because the normally stormy North Seas remained preternaturally calm all season.

And even beyond that, there's a certain sleight-of-hand going on throughout this announcement. It purposefully conflates the amount of energy actually generated by wind with wind "capacity." So: "U.S. wind power capacity installation has soared in recent years to the point where wind capacity exceeded nuclear capacity in September 2019" and "wind power ranks as the third-largest source of generating capacity." The significance of this is made plain as you read on:

Despite surpassing nuclear capacity more than two years ago, wind still generated less electricity than nuclear because the two technologies differ in their utilization. The average capacity factor of U.S. wind generators was 35 percent in 2021, much lower than the average capacity factor of nuclear generators, 93 percent in 2021. Nuclear generators are designed to run at or near full output, which they typically do.

So while wind capacity has skyrocketed in recent ("Yay!" say the Greens), it still generates less electricity than nuclear power, which produces a reliable stream of power against which wind turbines can't compete.

Consequently, "despite beating both coal and nuclear on a single day, wind power generation in the U.S. is not expected to surpass either coal or nuclear generation on a monthly basis" anytime soon. Which on closer inspection makes this breathless "news report" basically a participation trophy. Maybe climate activists should postpone the party until they have an actual achievement to celebrate.

If We Only Had a Brain...

The Babylon Bee strikes again:

With oil imports from Russia banned and gas prices continuing to rise, many around the nation report really wishing we had our own oil we could dig up with big machines and then transport around with some sort of pipeline. "If only we had oil, and knew how to get it," said one local mom as she shelled out $300 for gas to take her kids to soccer practice. "Then maybe we wouldn't have to buy it from evil regimes around the world and gas prices would be lower. I know that's ridiculous, but it sure would be nice if that were possible!"

Wouldn't it, though? Never fear, however: Li'l Petey B., the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., has a solution!

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says he commiserates with people who are struggling right now. "I do have a solution though," he said. "If you all just plop down $90K on an electric car and another 3 million on building a windmill in your backyard, you won't have to deal with these gas costs. I am smart!"

According to the Bee, American scientists are working hard on a solution to the nation's energy woes, but so far no dice. Nuclear power, long bruited in the pages of science fiction, is still years if not decades away.

One solution might be for the feds and the states to immediately suspend all taxes at the pump, thus reducing the price-per-gallon to 1970s' level, but that has been dismissed in Washington as the kind of crazy talk we've come to expect from the insurrectionists of Jan. 6 and their fellow travelers in states that didn't vote for Joe Biden.

E.U. Commission: Nukes and Natural Gas are Now 'Green'

Well this is a pleasant surprise: the European Commission -- the executive committee of the European Union -- has decided to propose a plan reclassifying natural gas and nuclear power as "green energy," at least for the sake of investment. From Reuters:

The Commission's proposal would label nuclear power plant investments as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste. To be deemed green, new nuclear plants must receive construction permits before 2045. Investments in natural gas power plants would also be deemed green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit by Dec. 31 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.

The background to this is, of course, Europe's ongoing energy crunch, which has seen record prices per megawatt hour in countries throughout the continent, as wind turbines and solar panels have failed to produce enough electricity to meet winter demand. Germany, which famously went all in on its green energy transition known as die Energiewende roughly a decade ago, has been forced to restart some of its closed, carbon intensive coal-fired power plants to keep up.

And it isn't as if they're actually lying about this -- as much as green activists hate to admit it, the United States has led the world in emissions reduction since the year 2000, largely because the fracking revolution has allowed us to increasingly lean on low-carbon natural gas for our heat and energy needs. Nuclear power, meanwhile, is effectively a zero-carbon power source. Consequently, if you're actually concerned about carbon emissions, natural gas and nuclear should be high up in your proposed power mix. They are as "green" as any first world nation's energy is going get.

Even so, it is worth noting the EC tries to stress that they're not proposing a permanent shift -- "[T]he Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future," according to their statement. That is to say, they consider natural gas and nuclear as "transitional" energy sources whose role is to bridge the gap to their still-inevitable wind-and-solar powered future! Moreover Germany, which still has the largest economy in the E.U., remains fanatically committed to its Energiewende, to such a degree that they've just closed down three of their remaining six operational nuclear power plants, their soaring energy rates notwithstanding. Theoretically, Germany could lead a charge to kill this sensible proposal in the European Parliament, over the objections of France and other nations who have relied on nuclear for decades.

Still, let's focus on the bright side -- Europe's governing class is cracking under the pressure of sky-high energy rates and are being forced to admit that their current way of doing things just isn't working. If this reclassification actually goes through, activists will have a real fight on their hands when they try to change it back in a few years time. And officially classifying natural gas and nuclear as green energy is likely to take so much wind out of the green movement's turbines that it could eventually cease to exist.

Beware the Environmentalists' False Flags

You're probably familiar with the phrase "false flag operation." Referring originally to a ship's flying the flag of a different nation than that with which it was aligned in order to deceive the enemy, it has come to refer to any such misrepresentation, particularly those with the intent of casting one's opponents in a negative light.

The thing that makes false flag operations so effective is that it is often impossible to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one has actually taken place. Absent an admission of guilt, all one can do when investigating the circumstances is to lay out the facts and let the jury decide.

I bring this up because I've recently stumbled upon two stories which have the appearance of false flag operations. The first is by Jazz Shaw, who reports on the attempt to build what's being billed as the next generation of nuclear power plant in Idaho. The plant would serve roughly 720,000 homes in that state and in neighboring Utah. Communities in both states which would benefit from this project have already signed on, but one group of activists have made it their mission to convince all involved that it's a bad deal.

The group is called the Utah Taxpayer Association, and their principal argument is that the project is a waste of taxpayer money and (because the technology is still being developed) is likely to fail and lead to higher electricity prices.

Well, as a conservative, fiscal responsibility arguments always get my attention. But Shaw points out that there is something fishy about the organization making the argument:

As to the “fiscal conservative” group trying to get municipalities to pull out of the project, the Utah Taxpayer Association is being fronted by The Hastings Group. One look at their client list at that link will give you an idea of their general ideological makeup. They include:

Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists
Green America
National Resources Defense Council
Renewable Nation
Union Of Concerned Scientists

The Utah Taxpayer Association has also enlisted anti-nuclear power advocate Peter Bradford as a spokesperson. The list of their association with green energy and environmentalist groups goes on.

Shaw doesn't mention this, but along those same lines, the website of The Hastings Group is full of boasts about their "18-month push" to pressure the Trump administration to stop off-shore drilling and their "12-year campaign to shift media attitudes about socially responsible/sustainable investing," the latter being code for divesting from fossil fuels.

Judging by these relationships, it seems unlikely that the Utah Taxpayer Association is the confederation of Goldwater Republicans that its name and rhetoric would lead you to surmise. It's rather more likely that some textbook Greenies, aware that their normal pitch would have less purchase in rural mountain states, decided to attack the problem from a different angle, hoping that cost-conscious conservatives would miss the lefty agenda behind the scenes.

And what is that agenda exactly? After all, as Shaw notes, nuclear power is effectively zero carbon, so you'd think that anti-carbon emissions activists would be on board with this project. Their opposition reveals their true colors -- for a lot of them, at least, it isn't the carbon they care about so much as limiting the competition for their so-called renewable energy projects.

The second potential false flag is rather more complicated, and has to do with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a planned project which was principally owned by Richmond, Va., based Dominion Energy. It was meant to move natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia through Virginia and then down to North Carolina. Had the pipeline gone through, it is probable that Dominion would have built a second natural gas liquefaction terminal, likely in the Newport area, to complement the one it already owns in Cove Point, Md., creating lots of well-paying jobs for Virginians and allowing the company to export significantly more natural gas overseas.

"Was" is the operative word here, however, because in July it was announced that Dominion is cutting its losses and pulling out of the $8 billion project, citing "the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States." This is being spoken of principally as a victory for the environmentalist groups which have been trying to kill the project since it was launched, with Michael Brune of the Sierra Club crowing,

Dominion did not decide to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline—the people and frontline organizations that led this fight for years forced [it] into walking away.

However, journalist and Virginia native Arthur Bloom is skeptical. As he put it in a recent podcast appearance, "the death of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has sort of been heralded by activists as this big win, this is the new Virginia, pushing back on decades of probably-racist Republican rule. Virtually none of that is true."

Bloom has written a detailed piece at The American Conservative in which he attempts to connect the dots to discern what really happened here. The thing is, Dominion is not only pulling out of the Atlantic Pipeline, it is, as the Wall Street Journal reports, "selling the rest of its natural-gas transmission and storage network to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for $9.7 billion," a deal which includes a 25 percent stake in its Cove Point liquefaction facility. As he investigated the "various interests that were publicly opposed to the construction of the pipeline," Bloom was struck "quite forcefully [by] how many of them were connected to Berkshire Hathaway."

One of those interested parties was Michael Bills, a Virginia billionaire and chairman of the board of environmental lobbying group Clean Virginia, who has waged a war against Dominion for the past several years, even offering to max out donations to any political candidate in the state who pledged not to accept any money from the company. Bloom points out that Bills is the former business partner of Berkshire Hathaway executive Ted Weschler, who is frequently mentioned as a potential replacement for Warren Buffet, as Berkshire's CEO. That doesn't prove anything, but it is a connection, and a high level one at that.

Bloom also details the political opposition to Dominion from the state's ascendant Democrats, a more important part of the story than the legal and regulatory hurdles to the project. (Indeed, the project had recently won big at the Supreme Court). Of course the state Democratic ascent has been funded in large part by Berkshire money too. Bloom notes that "the largest single donor to the Democratic Party of Virginia in 2015 was the son of Buffett partner Charles Munger, Jr, whose money supplied more than half of their funds for statehouse races that year."

And then there's the fact that, in Bloom's words,

Berkshire also owned most of the newspapers in western and central Virginia until March, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Free Lance-Star, the Culpeper Times-Exponent, the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, the News Virginian in Waynesboro, and the Roanoke Times, giving them almost complete control of the pipeline narrative in the parts of the state where it mattered.

Be sure to read the whole piece to get into the real nitty-gritty of the thing, but Bloom makes a compelling case that everything is not as it seems. As he makes clear in the interview cited above, there is something a little too convenient about the fact that Dominion was the focal point of so much environmental activism, which had the effect of depressing the stock price of the company, allowing a massive financial firm -- which had deep ties to the environmental activists -- to swoop in "and [scoop] up their assets on the cheap." Meanwhile the environmentalists are able to claim the scalp of a major pipeline project while ignoring Berkshire Hathaway, this despite the fact that the company's anti-union history makes it likely that the unionized workers in Dominion's natural gas sector might soon be out of a job. Unions are less important to the left these days than wealthy environmentalists.

False flag operations are difficult to prove, but Shaw and Bloom argue persuasively that alliances and the money trail constitute a preponderance of evidence in their respective cases pointing to real deception on the part of the interested parties. Read and judge for yourself.

The Case of the Unknown Dosage

This column is a second-hand mystery thriller on the lines of the Agatha Christie Poirot television series. It tells the story how a real-life scientific scandal that involved a Nobel Prize winner, great American and U.K. universities, the Manhattan Project, several expert U.S. government committees, and dirty work at the laboratory was exposed by an academic detective almost a hundred years after it was first committed. Maybe it’s a mystery that would be solved easily by Poirot or by anyone familiar with those civilized British murders which turn on how much arsenic was in the jam omelette. But no one knew there was a mystery to be solved. And even though billions of dollars may hang on their decision, the authorities have not yet agreed to re-open the case.

The Hercule Poirot in this case who’s seeking the truth, whatever the cost to distinguished reputations, is Edward J. Calabrese, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, at Amherst. As in the best thrillers, Professor Calabrese blundered into the scandal by accident when he attended a research conference that starred two different sets of elderly rats. He was struck by the difference in their appearance.

Some looked “remarkably healthy, showing a wonderfully shining coat of fur. They seemed to be in the prime of their adult life.” Others “looked unhealthy, very haggard, skinny, with very little fur, and that patchy and dull.”

Nothing odd there, you might think, because the study of the rats was being conducted to determine the effects of exposing them to high doses of background radiation, sometimes sixty per cent higher than the background radiation they had experienced throughout their lives. But something odd was there because the healthy, shiny-coated rats were the ones who had been subjected to massive doses of radiation while the ailing, haggard, and dull creatures were the control group living protected lives. And that comparison contradicted the orthodoxy of public health and regulatory authorities holding that any dosage of radiation, however small, was bound to inflict health damage on living creatures.

A dose a day keeps the doctor away.

That belief in turn was confined neither to scientists nor to health professionals but had spread throughout society to promote strong risk-averse attitudes across the board but especially on the topic of radiation because, like cancer, radiation was a silent killer that murdered us without our noticing.

Most of us might have reacted to the rats therefore  as if it were an anomaly we hadn’t yet detected with some such thought as “well, that’s odd, wonder what caused it, probably something in the water.” But chance favors the prepared mind, as Louis Pasteur once said, and Calabrese, who had written several books on the topic, looked at the data and concluded that it was hard to deny that radiation had exerted a positive healthy influence on the rats. And for him that meant the conventional theory had to be re-examined.

The theory he was challenging is described by Calabrese as follows: any dose of chemical carcinogen or ionizing radiation, no matter how low, has the potential to cause cancer and shorten our lives. He traces the origins of this theory back to 1920 and to a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Professor Hermann Joseph Muller, who in 1926 demonstrated that high doses of radiation could cause gene mutations in the fruit fly. That made him famous and won him the Nobel Prize in 1946.

But it was a limited scientific advance, and as interest in combating cancer grew, he sought to expand its application to consider the impact of X-rays on the health of the patients. He asked research students to test whether the gene mutation response was proportional to the dose of radiation administered in other cases. They found that it was. But the radiation dose was extremely high in their experiments—"hundreds of thousands to millions of times greater than background radiation.”

Rather than test what was the effect of very low doses of radiation, however, Muller extrapolated backwards or downwards to estimate the impact of such doses. He called these results the Proportionality Rule. And this linear no-threshold model or LNT (i.e., implying that there’s no threshold below which radiation is harmless or even beneficial) became over time the orthodox view—and so the basis of “precautionary” principles that sought to eliminate any risk whatever from radiation even at the cost of eliminating fuels and technologies beneficial to human flourishing.

It took time for the LNT to establish itself, however, because the LNT was controversial within medical science and because Muller and his colleagues found it hard to replicate the results in other experiments without heavy massaging of the data. In some cases Muller went beyond massaging data to outright misrepresenting it. When Muller received the Nobel Prize for his original research in 1946, he used his acceptance speech to claim that the “threshold model” had been definitively superseded by the LNT. As Calabrese says darkly in his essay in Reassessing Radiation Safety (The Global Warming Policy Group, London): “In effect, Muller deliberately deceived his audience in an effort to manipulate them into accepting his ideological perspective.”

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That was a serious violation of the procedures and ethics of science. But it need not have been the end of the matter. There were many occasions after 1946 when the LNT theory was supposed to be reconsidered by different scientific authorities. Indeed, for more than half of his investigative essay, Calabrese is describing how on one occasion after another scientific authorities who ought to have discovered the errors underlying LNT failed to do so, from causes both shocking and comic. At one time Muller and a colleague successfully dismissed criticisms of their position because they knew the evidence against them was in research documents classified by the U.S. government and thus unavailable to reporters or the public.

From 1946 to the mid-nineties in Calabrese’s telling, the LNT becomes a plot device like Alfred Hitchcock’s McGuffin which, as it passes from hand to hand, escapes any number of threats of impending detection and discrediting until in 1995 an Oak Ridge genetics researcher in Tennessee discovers major irregularities in earlier researches that had apparently supported LNT. That leads to further investigations which themselves result in the conclusions that LNT was a mistake (even if its consequences remain to be buried), that those subjected to low-dose radiation did no worse than their control group, and that there was even a “hormetic” effect, i.e.,  low-dose radiation was beneficial, as with the rats which started Calabrese on his voyage of discovery.

It's a complicated story but also a gripping one that Calabrese tells well and clearly. My brief summary is not a substitute for the monograph which you can read above. But the LNT story is not over. Though the scientific basis of LNT has evaporated, its consequences in terms of policy and regulation are very much alive.

First, at a time when government policies everywhere are looking for alternatives to fossil fuels that are both effective and reasonably priced, nuclear power stations are still being blocked by massive and expensive regulations that reflect a false and vastly excessive estimate of the risks of radiation. Reassessing Radiation Safety is highly topical and an important intervention in the nuclear debate.

Secondly, the story of Muller and LNT illustrates the danger of treating human scientists as the god, Science. Borrowing a remark of Chesterton another topic, we might say about Calabrese’s story: “We believe in science as much as we ever did, but—Oh--there was happy time when we believed in scientists.” Scientists themselves should welcome their liberation from divinity.

Thirdly, since the LNT was a rehearsal for the precautionary principle which, inter alia, is a device for stopping the kind of innovation that we need for purposes as various as climate policy and cancer research, we should cast a beady eye on how that logic looks in the light of Calabrese’s careful account.

But let the last word go to Lord Lilley, a Cambridge-educated scientist and a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, who returns to the main point in his introduction:

Professor Calabrese has shown that a great many things that are damaging in large quantities may – in small doses, below a certain threshold – do no harm or even be beneficial. It seems that very small doses of potentially damaging substances can stimulate the repair and protection mechanisms that our bodies have evolved to help us survive.

You can have 'too much of a good thing.' But can you have 'too little of a bad thing?'

The sooner we find out, the better.

'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.

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.