If you don't already keep tabs on Michael Shellenberger, you should. While you may not always agree with him -- Shellenberger is a self-described environmentalist and man of the left -- you will find him to be an honest, insightful, and even brave writer. Brave because he consistently uses facts to counter the hysterical narrative of the Green New Deal wing of the green movement, which as you might imagine doesn't win him a lot of friends.
In the piece, essentially a pitch for his book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Shellenberger reviews his environmentalist bona fides, working to save the California redwoods and lobbying the Obama administration to spend billions on so-called renewable energy, etc. Increasingly, however, he became disturbed by other environmentalists distorting the science to make a case for hysteria, and shutting down anyone who questioned their conclusions.
They've been so successful that children routinely report having nightmares about climate change and people around the world are convinced the end is near. Eventually Shellenberger came to feel he had a responsibility to speak out and counter their propaganda.
Here are some facts few people know:
• Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
• The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
• Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
• Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
• The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declinedby an area nearly as large as Alaska • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
• Air pollution and carbon emissions have been declining in rich nations for 50 years
• Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
• We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
• Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
• Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
• Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture
I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.
You're forgiven for still thinking of Virginia as a conservative state. If you went to school before the Leftists leveled our educational system, you'll know that securing the buy-in of steady, aristocratic Virginians like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson helped convince the colonists that the dispute those rowdy New Englanders were having with Britain wasn't just a regional affair. But as a matter of more recent history, between the elections of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and Barrack Obama in 2008, Virginia was only won by one Democrat in a presidential contest. This isn't to say that the Old Dominion has been governed exclusively by the GOP -- when Linwood Holton was elected governor in 1970 he was the first Republican to hold that position in a century -- but no matter the party power in Richmond, they had to conform to the small 'c' conservative culture of the state.
In a relatively short time, however, that Virginia has been fundamentally transformed. After the most recent gubernatorial contest, which saw the election of the fourth Democrat in the last five cycles, journalist Matthew Continetti wrote a piece about his home state entitled 'How States Like Virginia Go Blue.' In it he paints a picture of modern day Virginia as "a hub of highly educated professionals, immigrants, and liberals," with an exploding population comprised of both the wealthy and educated and the comparatively poor, both key Democratic constituents:
Over the last 29 years, Virginia has become wealthier, more diverse, and more crowded. The population has grown by 42 percent, from 6 million in 1990 to 8.5 million. Population density has increased by 38 percent, from 156 people per square mile to 215. Mean travel time to work has increased from 24 minutes to 28 minutes. The median home price (in 2018 dollars) has gone from $169,000 to $256,000. Density equals Democrats.
The number of Virginians born overseas has skyrocketed from 5 percent to 12 percent. The Hispanic population has gone from 3 percent to 10 percent. The Asian community has grown from 2 percent to 7 percent. In 1990, 7 percent of people 5 years and older spoke a language other than English at home. In 2018 the number was 16 percent.
If educational attainment is a proxy for class, Virginia has undergone bourgeoisification. The number of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher has shot up from 25 percent of the state to 38 percent. As baccalaureates multiplied, they swapped partisan affiliation. Many of the Yuppies of the ’80s, Bobos of the ’90s, and Security Moms of the ’00s now march in the Resistance.
Which is to say that, in that time, Virginia has been culturally and demographically tugged away from the rural, southern states and towards the urban, mid-Atlantic states. As one might expect, these trends are significantly more pronounced in the DC suburbs of Northern Va., especially Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. The populations of these counties have exploded in that time. Fairfax gets more press, but Continetti points out that the population of Loudoun has more than quadrupled since the early '90s. Immigration is an important factor, but the expansion of the federal government during the Bush and Obama administrations might be more significant. Bureaucrats and defense contractors have to live somewhere, and they vote according to their interests.
Transformations like the one Continetti describes have consequences. In 2017, Virginians elected Democrat Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, as its governor. A lot of ink has been spilt on Northam's expanding abortion access in Virginia (including his controversial comments related to post-birth abortion) and his war on guns (as well as the extremely civil protests against his anti-2nd Amendment initiatives, which were nevertheless vilified by the mainstream media), as these have particularly enraged the Old Virginians. And who could forget his racist yearbook photo, which he originally claimed did not depict him until he eventually apologized, though without clarifying whether he's the Klansman or the guy in black face. Somehow Democrats are always able to survive these things, while Republicans have their careers ended over more ambiguous incidents.
In a bid to salvage his job, the Democratic governor of Virginia denied he was one of the men dressed up as a Klansman or in blackface in a picture on his medical school yearbook page — after admitting the night before he was, in fact, in the photo.
In a different yearbook at Virginia Military Institute, Northam was nicknamed “Coonman.” Why? He wasn’t quite sure, he said. “My main nickname in high school and in college was ‘Goose’ because when my voice was changing, I would change an octave. There were two individuals, as best as I can recollect, at VMI — they were a year ahead of me. They called me ‘Coonman’. I don’t know their motives or intent. I know who they are. That was the extent of that. And it ended up in the yearbook. And I regret that.”
A less publicized aspect of Northam's agenda has been his environmental extremism. Last September he signed an executive order setting a goal that the state produce 100 percent of its energy via "carbon-free" sources by 2050, and 30% within the next 10 years.
Chris Bast... of the [Department of Environmental Quality] told The Center Square that he did not have an estimate on how much the executive order will cost consumers or taxpayers, but said that investments to fight climate change are necessary. “The cost of inaction outweighs the cost of action,” Bast said.
After the state elections in November flipped both legislative houses to the Democrats, they set about turning that goal into a mandate, and this spring -- in the midst of the pandemic and Virginia's lengthy and onerous lockdowns -- Northam signed the Green New Deal-inspired Virginia Clean Economy Act, which did exactly that. He also approved the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act which puts Virginia on the path to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This multi-state compact imposes new regulatory burdens on Virginia's oil, natural gas, and coal power plants, and introduces a cap-and-trade scheme on the 30 largest of them.
As Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, told The Daily Signal, “Virginia could hardly have picked a worse time to join RGGI,”
Everywhere RGGI has gone, higher electricity prices have followed. In Virginia’s case, however, membership will coincide with trying to recover from the self-imposed economic collapse of the statewide lockdown. At a time when millions have lost their jobs, many of them from small businesses that may never reopen, Gov. Northam and his supporters in the General Assembly are knowingly adding to the burdens of families trying to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown. It is a direct assault on the disposable incomes of the state’s most vulnerable residents by an out-of-touch political elite. Absurdly, with natural gas abundant, reliable, and cheap, the governor chooses this moment to hitch Virginia’s fortunes to taxpayer-subsidized wind and solar power, which are intermittent, unreliable, and expensive.
Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, adds that this push will ultimately be harmful to the environment and ignores the fact that the fracking revolution has led to a significant decrease in America's carbon emissions.
“If you’re going to require all of the state’s power to come from 100% carbon-free sources by 2050, this will require a lot of [the] state’s land, which probably means impacting the state’s agricultural lands or cutting down some forests and probably both... So much for the environment.”
“It’s also completely unnecessary,” he said. “If the goal is to stop climate change, the U.S. is already the global leader in carbon dioxide emission reductions. Between 2005 and 2018, CO2 declined 12%. The free market is already taking care of the environment.”
Unfortunately these trends seem unlikely to turn around any time soon. The Virginia Republican party is made up of factions which seem to despise each other more than they hate the Democrats, but it just might be the case that the numbers to change course just aren't there. Northam's opponent in 2017 was the GOP establishmentarian Ed Gillespie, a two-time loser in state elections, who attempted to appeal to nationalists by focusing on issues like crime and immigration. He received only 45% of the vote.
Perhaps the only solution might be a proposal which started gaining steam during the Second Amendment battles earlier this year -- secession. Specifically secession for those counties in western and southern Virginia disturbed by the direction of their state and interested in joining the more conservatively inclined West Virginia. And the free state of West Virginia, which itself seceded from the slave state of Virginia in 1863, seems ready to welcome their separated brethren with open arms. Should that transpire, and the size and relative importance of Virginia decrease on Northam's watch, his face will no longer be black or even green. It will be red.
'GOP Out of Touch on Climate Change'
Former Pennsylvania governor, Homeland Security secretary, and current enviro-lobbyist Tom Ridge has published an article at The Atlantic arguing that his fellow Republicans are behind the curve on environmentalism. After opening the piece with a maudlin reflection on the fact that we all should have been celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd, but that the COVID-19 pandemic kept us from doing so (for the first time I was able to connect with the Libs who've been rooting for the virus), Ridge states:
The Republican Party has largely abandoned environmental issues—to its great detriment politically. Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, such as protecting water and air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center finds that Democrats mostly agree that the U.S. government should do more on climate. Republicans are divided by ideology, age, and gender; moderates, Millennials, and women within the party are far more likely than conservatives, older Republicans, and men to favor more federal action. More and more, the GOP as a whole seems out of touch on this crucial issue.
This assertion is questionable. Gallup has actually just released a new poll attempting to document how Americans priorities the challenges facing our country, and the data for April, respondents put Climate Change at the bottom of the list, tied for dead last in importance. Now, of course, April is a bit of a skewed month, with the pandemic understandably taking first place and sucking up all the oxygen. Even so, it is worth noting that in the previous months surveyed, "climate change" only barely misses last place.
Heartland Institute president James Taylor, commenting on this data, rightly points out that "People have a vague, general desire for policymakers to pay attention to climate change," but when there's any question of the bill coming due -- he also mentions polling which suggests that support for Green initiatives collapses when respondents are asked if they'd be willing to pay an extra $100 per month for them -- they completely change their tune.
To Ridge's credit, he makes a few points which might make his new friends at The Atlantic uncomfortable, saying "I continue to support policies that embrace all sources of energy, including natural gas, which has lowered our dependence on coal. I also support nuclear power, the largest around-the-clock provider of carbon-free energy." But he follows that up with a lament that his "conservative friends have been reluctant to join me in supporting renewable technologies such as wind and solar." Perhaps because his conservative friends are aware that wind and solar are boondoggles which might help gullible Liberals sleep better at night, but they certainly don't benefit the environment. Then again, maybe his friends would come around if they were paid lobbyists for the renewable energy industry, like Ridge.
All of which is to say, if anyone is out of touch with American voters, its Tom Ridge.
Thank You, Oil & Gas!
In the new documentary, Planet of the Humans, Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs explain that a major reason they've soured on green energy is that they came to see how reliant so-called renewables are on the very fossil fuels they aspire to replace. Wind turbines and solar panels are made of plastics which are produced using petroleum distillates, the crystalline silicon used to manufacture the photo-voltaic cells on solar panels make use of mined materials, etc.
And then, of course, there is the intermittency problem -- the sun isn't always shining, the wind isn't always blowing -- which makes it so that the Green Energy Industry requires traditional power plants to remain on stand-by to fill in the gaps, thus emitting more carbon than they would have otherwise. As Ozzie Zehner one of their experts puts it in the documentary:
You use more fossil fuels to do this than you're getting a benefit from it. You would've been better off [just] burning the fossil fuels in the first place instead of playing pretend.
This is meant to induce a sense of despair in the viewer, so as to lay a groundwork for their Malthusian suggestions and we-don't-ever-actually-use-the-phrase-population-control solutions. I was, however, reminded of this aspect of the documentary -- the exposé concerning the poison-pill fossil fuels mixed into your wholesome green energy -- while reading a Wall Street Journal editorial this week entitled Big Oil to the Coronavirus Rescue, which examined other products which rely on oil and gas.
The editorial begins by pointing out the irony of the New York City council's recently coming out of their pandemic hidey-holes to introduce a resolution divesting the city's assets from banks that invest in fossil fuels. Ironic because the industry that they are attacking is central to the production of supplies which we need to beat back the virus they've been hiding from. From the WSJ:
Exxon’s predecessor Standard Oil invented isopropyl alcohol (IPA), the key ingredient in disinfectants and hand sanitizer, in 1920. Its Baton Rouge chemical plant is now the world’s largest producer of IPA. While refineries have been throttled back, Exxon has ramped up IPA production by 3,000 tons per month, which is enough to produce 50 million four-ounce bottles of sanitizer.
The oil giant recently noted in a press release that the state of New York has turned to the Baton Rouge plant for critical supplies. Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be grateful Exxon isn’t holding a grudge after the state’s four-year inquisition for allegedly deceiving itself about its climate impact, which finally ended last December when a state judge tossed the state lawsuit as entirely without merit.
Exxon is also increasing production of a specialized polypropylene that is used in medical masks and gowns by about 1,000 tons per month, which is enough to manufacture up to 200 million medical masks or 20 million gowns. At the same time, it is applying its expertise in material science to develop new face shields that utilize a filtration fabric.
Working with Boeing, Exxon plans to manufacture as many as 40,000 masks an hour. According to an Exxon engineer, this new design and production method won’t be vulnerable to the supply-chain hiccups that have led to widespread mask shortages. No Defense Production Act coercion necessary.
The editors ask wryly whether "liberals want to divest from using those [products] to fight off the coronavirus?" Well, after watching Planet of the Humans which has one scientist saying that barring a "major die off in population, there's no turning back," you would be forgiven for concluding that at least for some liberals the answer is yes.
As for me, however, I'm extremely grateful that we have these products produced by the oil and gas industry. Every ounce of isopropyl alcohol, every bit of that specialized polypropylene they produce become weapons in our arsenal. I'm so enthusiastic about their work, in fact, that I'd like to see them focus their energies on it even more exclusively, to the exclusion of, for instance, cosying up to the Greens, who will never forgive them for existing anyway. Maybe they could even redirect the plastics earmarked for wind turbines and solar panels towards making face-shields, ventilators, and personal protective equipment for the next year or two.
Something to think about.
Michael Moore Strikes Back
We here at The Pipeline have been covering Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs' new film Planet of the Humansfairlyextensivelylately for the simple reason that we believe it to be a very important film, both because it is extremely informative on the topic of the "green energy" fraud, but also because it has blown open a major rift within the environmentalist movement. So much so that those on the other side of that rift are either ignoring the documentary entirely (as far as I can see, neither the BBC, the CBC, nor Australia's ABC have published a word on it -- kind of shocking that the state broadcasters of the English speaking world are ignoring such a big story) or, as Michael Walsh pointed out yesterday, are calling on YouTube to take it down for spreading misinformation (and, presumably, for giving aid and comfort to the enemy).
To rebut those claims, Moore and Gibbs have been on a bit of a media tour, and one stop on that tour was this lengthy interview with The Hill TV:
It is an illuminating interview, and I think it bears out my contention that, far from turning their back on environmentalism, Moore and Gibbs are willing to tear down that movement as it currently exists so that they can rebuild it as something somewhat leaner (in that it will have less cash), but definitely a lot meaner. Creative Destruction, you might call it.
First of all, Moore takes up the question of their motivation. He and Gibbs haven't turned on the movement - "We are lifelong environmentalists!" They've been in since the "first Earth Day!" Their main concern is "this evil economic system that we have [which] is based on greed," and the tendency of certain environmentalists to "[hop] into bed with corporate America." From his perspective, this gives the corporations a kind of moral authority that they shouldn't have, and allows them to treat the movement like a revenue stream:
[Y]ou've seen this happen over the last decade, how they've all gone Green, they all tout the big Green thing, and they saw basically that enough of us believed in Green, because we want this planet to live, and they saw, '[W]ow, there's the supply and demand right there -- the demand is for Green, lets give them Green, and lets make a lot of money off of it.
So, for Moore:
The failure of the movement has been to address this serious flaw, which is: We are not gonna save the planet or ourselves by allowing Wall Street, hedge funds, corporate America, to be anywhere near us, as we try to fix this.
The film is simply their way of breaking that to the true believers.
To my way of thinking, it's Gibbs who really gives voice to their ambitions:
You know, this is so much bigger than climate change. You know, we've eaten 90% of the fish in the ocean. Half of the wildlife have disappeared in the last 40 years, primarily because of expanding logging and agriculture. Fossil fuels is tragic, but there is a lot more to us damaging the planet than just climate change.... I think [that] looking at ourselves as a single species that's got this addiction to growth, my theory is that infinite growth on a finite planet is called suicide, and that's what we have to address.
I mentioned the Malthusian drift of the documentary in my review, and Gibbs responds to that critique:
We never use the word population control, we're not in favor of population control. We merely point out, there was a UN study that came out one or two years ago, that just points out that the doubling of our human numbers and the quadrupling of our human economy is the prime driver of extinction on this planet. Is the UN favoring population control? No!
Many scientists are pointing out the obvious, but you don't read about that so much in the press anymore, since it's all only focused on climate change.
Funny how, while disclaiming population control, he argues that scientists are merely "pointing out the obvious," but doesn't himself spell out that "obvious" here. When you go to the documentary itself, you find what his scientists are actually "pointing out." Here's one representative sample: "Without seeing some sort of major die off in population, there's no turning back."
Back to the interview, Gibbs mitigates our need to read between the lines further when he says:
[R]ight now we're learning that the three times when climate change and fossil fuel usage went down were during this pandemic, in the days after 9/11, and during the Great Recession. Now, we're just raising the question, we've got to come to terms with this expansion. We don't have the answers in the film, but it is our growth, and especially our growth and consumption, driven by capitalism, that's driving this beast.
Ah yes, those three greatest moments of our civilization. Just as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the other day, Gibbs is admitting here that their project is built on human suffering. This is what we call "Making the sub-text, text."
I've been seeing conservatives on Twitter and elsewhere over the past week who are elated about this movie, and in the short term it might work to our benefit. But don't be fooled -- Moore and Gibbs are not on our side. Their vision is very dark, and they themselves are very persuasive.
Michael Moore Learns an Inconvenient Truth
The enemy of my enemy is... well, in the case of Michael Moore, still my enemy. That's because of the destruction he's wrought on the mental processes of so many members of my generation with his Riefenstahl-esque documentaries which convinced them that they'd have been better off growing up in Castro's Cuba than in suburban New York. That said, Moore is a worthy foe. He's extremely sharp, and he doesn't go in for easy short term victories. He's playing the long game.
The most recent example is a documentary he's produced along with his longtime collaborator Jeff Gibbs, who serves as director and narrator. The film is called Planet of the Humans, and was released on YouTube earlier this week just in time for Earth Day. It is not, however, your typical Earth Day fare, alternately happy-clappy and weepy-waily. Planet of the Humans digs deep down into the supposed Green Energy Revolution which promises to liberate us from our present fossil fuel regime. What it definitively demonstrates, however, is that Green Energy is a fraud (and one which has made a lot of people very rich) -- and, worse, that the revolution is never going to come.
Gibbs begins by talking about his long standing tree-hugger bona fides. As a young man, he moved to the woods of Michigan and built a log cabin, which he wired for solar power. But as the years went by, and as he continued to learn about the ins and outs of the green energy industry, he got increasingly skeptical and cynical.
Early on in the documentary Gibbs shows us a solar power fair, which boasts that it's powered entirely by solar panels. A rock band is playing on stage under electric lights, everyone is having a good time, all is well. Until, that is, it begins to rain. Gibbs follows staff members working frantically backstage, and when he asks what they're doing, they explain that they are hooking everything up to a biodiesel generator. When that doesn't produce enough juice, they simply plug in to the regular old local power grid.
That basic set-up starts to become pretty familiar. Gibbs attends a launch event for the Chevy Volt electric car, and gets the enthusiastic employees to explain that, well, yes, actually all of the electricity powering the cars and the plant comes from fossil fuels. He's invited to see the plant's solar panel farm, the size of a football field, only to learn that it gets roughly 8 percent efficiency and generates only enough energy to power about ten homes. He speaks to several green energy enthusiasts who admit that the intermittency of solar and wind requires renewables to be backed up with idling fossil fuel power plants, which (as Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller explains on camera) "maybe can be dialed down during the day, and dialed up when demand starts rising." When asked if this effects the efficiency of the plants, Moeller responds "Oh yeah, they don't like to be dialed up and down." Their hope is that we will one day be able to bridge that gap with batteries, but Gibbs points out that not only is that a still-remote possibility, but that the batteries themselves come from mined products degrade in a very few years.
Gibbs also takes us to Lowell Mountain in Vermont, where land is being cleared for an enormous wind farm. He goes hiking with a group of concerned citizens who show him the devastated mountain. One local says:
I'm looking at the ground [here] and thinking 'this is not the legacy I want to leave to my kids.' When I was a kid, we'd go hiking in these woods, we'd be able to drink from the water down the hill here, and now you have to question that.
Aside from intermittent wind energy, what do they get from all of this? Three full-time jobs and about twenty years of use before those turbines need to be replaced. "Has anybody considered that this is mountaintop removal for wind instead of coal?" he asks. Which is to say, so-called renewable energy requires fossil fuels -- often used wastefully -- to exist. Ozzie Zehner, author of the book Green Illusions, sums up this theme of the documentary perfectly when he says
You use more fossil fuels to do this than you're getting a [green] benefit from it. You would've been better off [just] burning the fossil fuels in the first place instead of playing pretend.
In the background roll enthusiastic news clips and interviews featuring environmentalist heroes like Barack Obama, Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, Jeremy Grantham, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Bill McKibben. Every one of them talks about "shovel ready" projects, jobs in all fifty states, "free energy forever," and the potential for prosperity for all -- while also saving the planet. At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on screen introducing the world's largest solar energy plant, and says "There's some people that look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness! I see miles and miles of a gold mine."
Surely these luminaries must know they're wildly overpromising at best, and at worst simply lying. Why do they do it? Gibbs answers that, for the most part, they're in it for the money and the power.
The only reason we've been force fed the story 'Climate change + Renewables = We're Saved' is because billionaires, bankers, and corporations profit from it.
Many environmentalist philanthropists -- including several of those mentioned above like Grantham and Branson -- invest heavily in supposed alternate energy sources like biofuel and biomass, the usage of which allows businesses and universities to claim that they are powered by "100 percent renewable energy." As Mike Schellenberger points out,
In reality, scientists have for over a decade raised the alarm about biomass and biofuels causing rain forest destruction around the world including Brazil and Malaysia, and have documented that when one takes into account their landscape impacts, the fuels produce significantly higher carbon emissions than oil and gas and may produce more than coal.
At the same time, they use the power of celebrity to lobby governments and shame politicians into enacting biofuel mandates and other regulations which just so happen to benefit their stock portfolio.
Gibbs also examines the potential financial incentives for perhaps the most influential environmentalist of the past 20 years, former vice president Al Gore. Gore was the co-founder of an investment firm called Generation Investment Management, which was an early promoter of biomass and biofuels. Gibbs wonders aloud whether Gore's Oscar-winning climate documentary An Inconvenient Truth was "just about climate change, or was it about something else?" That is, was it about promoting his investments.
If it was, it worked out for him. Those investments helped Gore launch CurrentTV, which he ended up selling for 100 million dollars to Al Jazeera, the state broadcaster of Qatar, a nation whose wealth is largely a product of fossil fuels. The documentary gives us several clips of Gore not even being slightly embarrassed by this hypocrisy. “You couldn’t find, for your business, a more sustainable [buyer]?” he's asked by Daily Show host Jon Stewart. “What is not sustainable about it?” Gore replies.
I mentioned at the outset that Michael Moore is playing a long game, and here's what I meant. Moore and Gibbs know that "green energy" is a boondoggle, and that soon enough it is going to fall apart. Planet of the Humans is their attempt to get out in front of inconvenient truth, so that environmentalism won't be entirely discredited when their fantasy world collapses. Though they will probably be raked over the coals by the usual suspects (one imagines that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be happy about this documentary, which implicitly tears the heart out of the Green New Deal), Moore and Gibbs remain climate-change true believers. We are told over and over again in the course of this documentary that humans are destroying the planet. What sets them apart from other environmentalists is that they don't believe that there is a technological solution. "Is it possible for machines made from industrial civilization to save us from industrial civilization?" Gibbs asks.
No, their solution is rather darker. They believe that we need to massively diminish the amount of energy we are using, and that, while personal responsibility has a role in that, the very presence of humanity is the main obstacle to their goal. Planet of the Humans regurgitates discredited Malthusian and Ehrlichian ideas which hold that we are experiencing a population bomb and that ultimately the planet's major underlying problem is, quite simply: us.
That said, I found Planet of the Humans to be an extremely affecting and informative documentary. It isn't difficult to feel Gibbs' pain as he confronts the fact that green energy "wasn't what it seemed." And, very likely, the hard hitting nature of this documentary is going to cost Moore and Gibbs more than a few friends. I found myself feeling both appreciation for their honesty and apprehension for what their suggestions portend. At the same time, as I alluded to above, several of my high school classmates were corrupted by Moore's early 21st century documentaries, such as Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. I shudder to think what Planet of the Humans -- with its pessimism about both green energy and human life itself -- will do to the next generation of environmentalists.
Hand Over the Solar Tax Credits, Or the Economy Gets It
Yesterday Michael Walsh discussed the pressing concern among western civilization's current cultural elite -- the Twitterati (God help us). The Blue Checkmarks (long may they reign) are deeply concerned that the ongoing coronavirus freak-out is distracting us from the real civilizational catastrophe -- Anthropogenic Climate Change.
They must be greatly relieved, then, that Nancy Pelosi (D-Twitter), has come back from her little vacation to Hawaii tanned, rested, and ready to seize the reins. Before her arrival, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer confidently reported that negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over a nearly $2 trillion emergency relief bill were going well, and it would likely be passed on Monday. When asked about that comment, Pelosi replied ominously "Oh, I don’t know about Monday." She then unveiled a 1,400 page House bill which seeks to spend up to $2 trillion on really pressing pandemic related concerns such as:
It must be nice to be so certain that the media will carry water for you that you can pull this crap in a crisis. Of course, she's not wrong. Before Sunday was over, the New York Times had changed its initial headline about the Democrats' filibustering the bill the original bill (not Pelosi's) from "Democrats Block Action on $1.8 Trillion Stimulus" to "Partisan Divide Threatens Deal on Rescue Bill." Damn partisans.... whoever they are.
Climate specific items in the Pelosi bill include:
The focus on airlines is particularly underhanded, since that industry has been especially hard hit. And yet, even just the requirement that they fully offset their carbon emissions will make firing employees and attempting to weather the storm a better bet for several airlines than accepting a bailout now.
America isn't the only place where the activist crowd are dictating the response of politicians. In Canada, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government unveiled new emergency legislation which grants the prime minister broad, unilateral authority to, among other things, bail out companies as he sees fit (uh, didn't they just have a major scandal which would call into question Trudeau's judgement on exactly this score?) and set taxation levels for the next 21 months (I wonder if that power might, at some point, be used as part of the ongoing battle over carbon taxes there). But at least if you squint, you see a justification for those measures, if not their extent (and anyway the Liberals are already beginning to back down from them). What Pelosi is attempting is much more cynical and shameless.
Though it doesn't roll off the tongue like Rahm Emanuel's "Never let a serious crisis to go to waste" in 2008, Democratic Whip James Clyburn's statement that this really is “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision” is an excellent description of what his party is doing. Thus far the Republicans aren't giving in -- Mitch McConnell was clearly pissed on the floor of the Senate:
The Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal! .... They're filibustering hospital funding and more masks because they want to argue with the airlines over their Carbon Footprint?! I'd like to see Senate Democrats tell small business employees in their states who are literally being laid off every day that they are filibustering relief that will keep people on the payroll because Democrat special interest friends want to squeeze employers while they're vulnerable.
And President Trump has sounded similar notes on Twitter:
Republicans had a deal until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn’t agree!
Hopefully the GOP will stick to their guns, get the best possible deal through that they can, and we can begin the process of getting back on track after this insane historical moment.
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 itself. Mike 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.