Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Beefing

As it is the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee, and I’m of an age, Judith (mummy) flatly insisted that I host something of my own for London Hat Week. SNORE! I thought of hopping a plane back to my home in Los Angeles but as Daddy pointed out… it wasn’t that much of an ask. 

Of course he was right, but I can tell you I had no interest in gathering up what would amount to an evening of shrill bursts and the too-loud chatter from the daughters of her friends along with a few of my school chums lumped-in to keep me from blowing my brains out. Alcohol was a must. As was limiting the total number. I agreed to the Calvary Club because it would tickle the heart of the grandfather I never met, and because every fashionable venue was booked. 

I decided to impose a green-spin on things and asked that everyone recycle/reuse a previously worn hat rather than buy new. The idea came to me in the dressing room at Harvey Nicks whilst standing among a literal mountain of discards and trying to decide between Carolina Herrera and Huishan Zhang. 

Sometimes a girl's just gotta eat.

With dress in hand, I walked into Hélène Darroze to get a plate of pasta, only to be told they were booked. They weren’t. It was early and they knew me here, except everyone who knew me wasn’t in yet, so I had to put up with the indignity of having their ‘concept’ explained to me by the twenty-something who, more than anything, sounded as though she was trying to convince herself. 

In our three Michelin-star restaurant, each dish is grounded in seasonal produce sourced from the farmers, makers and growers carefully chosen by Hélène. And every menu is a reflection of your personal tastes, as our chefs transform your selected ingredients into original works of culinary art. Pierre Yovanovitch’s cocooning interior sets the perfect tone for this intimate dining experience. Blush shades, curved lines, and deep velvet and leather seating reflect the restaurant’s warm, approachable ethos. A blue blown-glass chandelier and exposed wooden tabletops add a bold, contemporary edge. Almost every element is custom-made, once again placing craftsmanship in the limelight.

Defeated, I walked into the bar where I ordered Iberico ham, and a vegetarian club. If one arrives early enough one generally avoids the pre-theatre throng of tourists whom the management is happy to fleece with trendy cocktails costing upwards of £100. It is for this reason I didn’t flinch when I heard the gentleman to my left introduce himself. Mind you his accent sounded decidedly West County when he said, ‘Vegetarian? You should get the meat while you can!’ 

As he was paying his bill (and ostensibly leaving) I assumed it was safe to respond. But I knew what he was getting at…farmers from Norway to New Zealand were either paying taxes on livestock burps, or being asked to kill their herds in the name of saving our planet. I held up my hand and said ‘Before you get started I’m an environmentalist’. 

‘Of course you are,’ he said. 'The ham should have tipped me off’. 

‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘I’m also a vegetarian…mostly.  But greenhouse gases are killing our planet!’

‘Well, we don’t agree on this’ he said, ‘but if you’re prepared to pay £400 for a pound for ham, you likely won’t mind when beef costs the same’.

Dearer every day.

‘If you’ll excuse me…’ I said, fishing a vibrating phone out of my bag and stepping away from the bar. It was my father, wanting to know if I was coming home for dinner.  

‘OMG you called in the nick of time!’ I said, ‘I was just getting lectured by some stranger who doesn’t understand why we MUST eliminate much of the livestock if we have any hope of lessening greenhouse gases’. 

‘Not a love match I take it?’ I ignored him.  

‘ANYWAY’ I continued, ‘I found a dress for the thing mummy is making me do and in addition to requiring no new hats, I…’ 

‘Excuse me Jennifer…’ he pounced,  ‘You do understand it is in fact—Hat Week?’ 

‘Yes, I’m borrowing something of Judith’s’.

‘And for the others who don’t have a mother whose shopping habits would supply the V&A?’

Again I ignored him. UGH! People would just have to manage. The man at the bar had gone and so I walked back to my seat and waited for Daddy to say something. And say he did! 

‘Jennifer…’ He began in the softest tone, ‘I fear you’ve lost the point of the exercise. It is Hat Week. It is not Green Week, it is not Earth Day. You are hosting an event at a club that predates the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the Ford Model T. It also happens to be the year of the Queen’s Jubilee, and although her own son is your fellow green-nik, I can promise you this is neither the time nor the place. You will not be serving bugs, you will not be composting, and you will not be asking everyone to bring their own tin cups. Do you understand me?’

Gulp. ‘Of course I do’.  I said, and downed the rest of my champagne. 

‘After this event,’ he continued ‘you may go back to flying around the world in your design to save the planet. You may schedule whole tours to Sri Lanka to ask people how freeing it is to have only thirty percent of the food they previously enjoyed, and just how much they are enjoying that near-perfect ESG score that toppled their country. You can even go to Canada and convince farmers that a fertiliser ban is a win-win for those who want to spend less time harvesting and more time on yoga, but this week my dear, in your new dress and your mother’s repurposed hat, you will keep your eco-battle to yourself’.

All we needed was Bono and Greta.

Obviously he meant it. I wondered if he’d change his mind if I got Leo DiCaprio to come but I said nothing.

The event was a small disaster. Not enough of my friends, and I was clearly out-flanked by the enemy—the new crop of twenty-somethings. They knew of me and flattered themselves that they understood the challenges facing the planet but they were the worst kind of informed. They knew Bono, they knew Greta, they knew about my glamorous bug parties and they knew about the near-death incident with the composter.

It only took half an hour before the all-too familiar rise and fall of their high-pitched voices became the steady soundtrack for the evening. They’d also taken the ‘repurpose’ directive as an excuse to don any old hat that might be better suited to sifting rice in the Mekong Delta. The overall look was comical, with me, the elder, looking every bit the finishing-school instructor who needed to be put out to pasture.

This would not do. At their age I was already a lock for the Olympic Equestrian Team and had a firm understanding of the larger scheme. I led the auction of our hats for charity which finally managed to coax the men out from an ante-room. I was followed by the twenty-somethings who tugged at their too-short dresses and fiddled with their over-processed hair whilst saying nothing terribly bright. Alas. Not so easy as it looks I wanted to say. Just then my phone buzzed… it was a text from Leo. It read:

‘Sorry I couldn’t make it Doll,…raincheck?’

Oh how I wanted to share the text!  But I stopped myself. I would savour it. I would invite these girls back when I had Leo. And I would serve them bugs

The Cattle Raid of Greeney

Last week this writer pointed out Canada's almost hilarious insistence on following the trail blazed— sometimes literally—by Sri Lanka and the Netherlands before it. Well, now another extremely impressionable nation has decided to follow suit: The Financial Times reports that "Ireland’s coalition government has reached a bitterly contested deal to slash climate emissions from the country’s key agriculture sector by 25 percent by 2030." Bitterly contested because the actual farmers whose livelihoods will be effected by the deal were hoping those numbers would be lower, whereas the government—currently a coalition of the traditionally "rival" parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael along with the Green Party—wanted 30 percent emission cuts by 2030.

This deal is most likely the brainchild of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, an environmentalist zealot who owes his outsized and wholly malevolent influence on the Republic of Ireland to his party's being the lynchpin of the unstable coalition, formed two years ago:

Members of the environmental party decided by a 76 percent majority to form an administration with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil... It signed up to a programme that promises radical action on climate change... Its deputy leader, Catherine Martin, said: “Now we will move forward together, respecting the democratic wishes of the majority of our party at all times, listening to each other … working in unity to protect our country and our planet.” The two larger parties needed the support of the Greens to have a working majority in the Irish parliament, equating to about 80 seats.

Ryan, who serves as the coalition's Environment Minister (of course), suggested that the cuts outlined in this deal are just the beginning, saying that they represented “a significant step in the right direction.”

For the farmers however, even these numbers are a bridge too far:

Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, called the 25 percent cut a “massive, massive ask” that could cost farmers €2bn a year and said the government had outlined no budget to help them achieve it.... Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, said the agreement made “whole classes of farms unviable” and would push up prices. He added: “Our livestock industry — both dairy and beef — is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister [of agriculture] McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today.”.... “It’s really impossible to see how we can achieve [these] targets... without reducing herds — and that’s an income issue for us,” said Brian Rushe, a dairy farmer.

Never mind that cattle have formed the basis of the Irish economy for more than two millennia. The most famous Irish epic poem is probably The Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin bó Cuailnge), featuring the legendary hero Cú Chulainn. But modern Ireland is too smart and sophisticated to care about its heritage, one of the oldest continuous cultures in Europe, and so the cows must be sacrificed on the altar of "climate change."

One particular line in this piece is worth considering -- Tim Cullinan is quoted as saying: "This deal between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green party is all about the survival of the government rather than survival of rural Ireland." He is assuredly correct. The priority of these politicians is maintaining power, both by keeping the Green Party on side and by maintaining the good opinion of overseas elites -- rather than defending the interests of their country.

Eamon Ryan: no cow is safe around him.

But, as the uprising in Sri Lanka is showing us, focusing on the former while ignoring the latter is a good way of losing both. While the Irish economy is unlikely to bottom out like Sri Lanka's—Ireland's status as a tax haven for American corporations makes it too important for western governments to allow that to happen—a significant standard of living increase on top of the country's ongoing Covid-instigated recession has the potential to inspire an earthquake in Irish politics. And Sinn Féin, the Socialist/Nationalist party that the coalition government exists to keep out of power will likely be the beneficiary. Judging by their refusal to support agricultural emissions cuts, despite their own environmentalist commitments, they know it.

When the coalition took power after the 2020 election, outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar famously proclaimed, "today civil war politics ends in our parliament," a reference to the two main parties' beginnings on opposing sides of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which culminated in the country's civil war. Varadkar might have been saying more than he realized — while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been taking turns in government since the election of Éamon de Valera in 1932, actions like this might ensure they never win another election.

Then again, the "ranked choice" electoral system, known in Ireland as the "single transferable vote" (coupled, by the way, with the equally questionable "proportional representation"), practically begs for rigged outcomes designed to keep the Tweedledum and Tweedledee parties in power forever. If there's one thing the Irish know how to do it's run a racket (see: Hall, Tammany), and in Ireland, it's not who votes, but who counts the votes, and how they are counted, that matters. Amazingly, it always comes out just the way the racket wants it. Here's a taste of how the system works:

From a voter’s perspective [single transferable vote] is very simple. Just rank the candidates in order of your choice starting with 1. The counting of votes is a different matter and can appear very complicated to the uninitiated. The first thing to understand is that a quota is set for each constituency depending on the number of seats to be filled and the number of people who have voted. The quota is arrived at by dividing the number of valid votes by the number of seats plus one, and then adding one to the resulting total.

For instance if 40,000 votes are cast in a three-seat constituency the quota would be calculated by dividing the number of votes by four and then adding one making it 10,001. The formula means that no more than three people can reach the quota.

After the first count when all the number ones have been counted the first thing to happen is that the surplus votes of a successful candidate who has exceeded the quota will be distributed. This is done by checking the second preferences on all the ballot papers of the candidate and distributing his or her number twos in proportion.

When all the first-count surpluses have been distributed the returning officer will then move on to eliminating the candidate with the lowest number of votes. The number twos will be counted and allocated to the other candidates. The next lowest will be eliminated and so on until there are only three candidates left for the three seats.

As the counts progress a vote that was cast for a candidate eliminated early in the count will move on to the number two. If that candidate is eliminated in turn it will go on to number three and so on. If the candidate getting the number two is already elected or eliminated the vote will move on to the next available candidate still in the race.

There is a complication about distributing the surplus of a candidate elected after the first count with the help of transfers. Instead of counting all of the candidate’s votes to allocate the next available preference, only the last bundles of votes received are counted to see where the next preferences goes.

Got that? This crazy system was, of course, foisted on Ireland by the vengeful British, who bitterly hated losing their first and most despised colony:

It was imposed on this country as part of the Home Rule Act in 1912 and later incorporated in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 with the objective of protecting the unionist minority and ensuring they had representation in an Irish parliament. The system was later included in de Valera's 1937 constitution and two attempts to abolish it, in 1959 and 1966, were rejected by the electorate. The same system is used in Malta, the Australian senate and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Malta, Australia and the rump British province of "Northern Ireland," known in Ireland as the Six Counties, or "Ulster" (well, part of Ulster, anyway)—those paragons of democracy. No wonder the livestock is terrified: against crackpots like Ryan and the Greens, they don't stand a chance. And neither do the people, unless they finally wise up.

The Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and... Canada?

Golly, this story out of Canada sounds so familiar:

Provincial agriculture ministers are expressing frustration with the Trudeau government over plans to effectively reduce fertilizer use by Canada’s farmers in the name of fighting climate change.... The federal government is looking to impose a requirement to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers saying it is a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.... The Trudeau government is demanding an absolute reduction in emissions, which farmers say will result in less food being produced at a time when the world can ill afford it.

Now where have we heard of similar government demands happening recently? Oh, well, in the Netherlands for one, where farmers in the world’s second-biggest agricultural exporter blocked roads and sprayed manure on government buildings after their environmentalist government attempted to force them to drastically cut their livestock numbers and sell their land to the government in order to cut emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030.

And then, of course, there was Sri Lanka, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enacted an almost-overnight ban on on pesticides and all synthetic fertilizers with the object of drastically reducing emissions and juicing his nation's ESG investment score. Well, "mission accomplished!" on that final point at least, but what came with that victory was an absolute disaster for Sri Lanka, with the nation's currency on the verge of collapse, with inflation running at around 112 percent, and devastation for the rice and tea harvests, the backbone of the nation's economy (and the Sri Lankan diet).

Let them eat bugs.

These are apparently the types of disorder that Justin Trudeau wants to import to Canada. Jordan Peterson made the same connection in his recent cri de coeur on the present state of his beloved homeland in the National Post:

How have Canadians failed to realize that our government holds them in contempt?... That the Trudeau Liberals are perfectly willing to make us all poor, miserable and demoralized just to utterly fail in their efforts to save the planet?... That we could be the freest, richest, cleanest country in the world but that we are trying hard to be none of those three?...

That all the data on the environmental front indicates that the fastest way to improve the ecosystems on which we all depend is to make people richer, not poorer (and to do that with good old capitalism) so they have the luxury to think about the long run and the habitat of their children?... Or that we are pursuing an energy policy generated by ideologues that will not only impoverish our populace by making energy unreasonably expensive... but that will only increase the probability that countries such as China will have to rely on coal to produce electricity instead of accessing, say, our plentiful natural gas. And that will therefore make the CO2 burden borne by the atmosphere greater instead of lesser.

And... (and in the aftermath of the Dutch farmer protests), that we are trying to reduce the absolute levels of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide produced by those who grow our food regardless of the amount of those crops produced in consequence. And that we’re doing that by threat and force — shades of Covid policy — instead of working with the farmers to find mutually acceptable and truly sustainable economic and environmental solutions.

Read the whole thing. Even if chances are slim to none that Justin Trudeau will do the same.

Is Sri Lanka's Disaster Headed Our Way?

Dominic Pino has been following the unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka for some time. He recently described the country's turnaround with great concision:

Sri Lanka’s GDP per capita is about double that of India, and ordinary Sri Lankans have seen a significant increase in their quality of life since the country’s lengthy civil war ended in 2009. And [yet] in nine hours today, the president is missing, the government has collapsed, and the former prime minister’s house is on fire.

In a very short time -- less than a year -- Sri Lanka went from being one of Asia's great success stories and a model for the developing world, to the present situation, where the nation's currency has lost half its value since 2019 (when Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into office), with inflation running at around 112 percent, and president Rajapaksa fleeing the country in fear of his life as protesters breached the walls of his official residence and that of the nation's prime minister. It is, in short, an absolute catastrophe.

But how did this happen? Financial mismanagement is one part of the story -- as Steve Hanke of Capital Matters explains, the Rajapaksa government spent beyond its means and accumulated huge amounts of government debt which it attempted to manage by simply printing more money to pay it off. That's not just an outsider's interpretation, that is the actual language employed by the governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as he assured investors that there was nothing to worry about: "The fears around debt sustainability appear to be unfounded.... [M]oney could be printed to repay them."

Gone, baby, gone.

The other big part of the story might be even more insane. In April of last year, Rajapaksa announced a ban on pesticides and all synthetic fertilizers so that all of the country's crops would be produced by "organic" farming. This was so that his country's agricultural policy might, once again, be “in sync with nature.”

Overnight Rajapaksa became a hero to environmentalists and Sri Lanka was given a nearly perfect (98.1 out of 100) ESG investment score. Legendary environmental activist Vandana Shiva predicted that “This decision will definitely help farmers become more prosperous.”

The reality was quite different, as Michael Shellenberger explains:

One-third of Sri Lanka’s farm lands were dormant in 2021 due to the fertilizer ban. Over 90 percent of Sri Lanka’s farmers had used chemical fertilizers before they were banned. After they were banned, an astonishing 85 percent experienced crop losses. The numbers are shocking. After the fertilizer ban, rice production fell 20 percent and prices skyrocketed 50 percent in just six months.

Sri Lanka had to import $450 million worth of rice despite having been self-sufficient in the grain just months earlier. The price of carrots and tomatoes rose five-fold. While there are just 2 million farmers in Sri Lanka, 15 million of the country’s 22 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on farming....

But the damage to tea was the key to Sri Lanka’s financial failure. Tea production had generated $1.3 billion in exports annually. Tea exports paid for 71 percent of the nation’s food imports before 2021. Then, tea production and exports crashed 18 percent between November 2021 and February 2022, reaching their lowest level in 23 years. The government’s devastating ban on fertilizer thus destroyed the ability of Sri Lanka to pay for food, fuel, and service its debt.

If all of this hadn't occasioned real and serious human suffering, we might have reason to be grateful for this fairly controlled experiment in what not to do. What happens when you hand the keys to a critical sector of a nation's economy to environmentalists? The answer is that they rapidly drive it -- even if it is relatively prosperous -- right off the cliff.

Printing money they don't have, giving environmentalists whatever they want... those policy approaches should sound awfully familiar. Americans should be playing close attention to how things are playing out in Sri Lanka. We could be seeing glimpses of our own future.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Braying

After a disastrous couple of days in Washington D.C., I was only too happy to return to England where I’d been tasked with awarding one charity for their good works, and for me, good works meant the environment, of course.

I was committed to visiting more than one location of my intended charity and set off early from my childhood home in St John’s Wood for Sidmouth in Devon. Around 10 a.m. I got a call from Daddy to ask if I’d taken his car, which naturally I had in fact done. The sanctuary website offered directions by train, car, or bike but we were currently experiencing a first-ever red-heat warning, and no one in their right mind would be cycling.

It was about a three-hour drive to the sanctuary and I tried listening to the BBC but it was one heat story after another, and not a single one about global warming. Instead they were blaming the source of the warm air (Africa) and banging on about exactly how it had traveled. Honestly, I really wish they wouldn’t confuse people! By talking about a naturally occurring path, people may feel as though there is nothing to be done. 

The sanctuary offered spaces for seventy in their car park, though just now I was the only one here. There was no denying today was hot, but with a national emergency having been declared, everyone had taken off for the seaside.

Who can say no to free vegan ice cream?

This alone was rather depressing. Such a crisis should have been made a teaching moment, but instead the next generation had taken to their floaties and their mounds of ice cream without the least concern for our long-suffering planet. With a few minutes to spare, I decided to ring up Daddy and ask him to sort something for me.

‘Yes, Jennifer’, he answered, followed by, ‘what’s that noise in the background?’

‘Good morning’, I said, ‘I think it’s a tractor, but I have a question. I read a rather nasty article about the fall of Sri Lanka and the article seemed to blame environmentalists’.

'Seemed to blame? Or blamed?’ 

‘Okay, blamed’. I said. 

‘No, that noise…’ he asked. 

‘Oh, emm, that’s…a donkey. I’m at a donkey sanctuary’.

‘Of course you are’. Daddy replied. ‘Okay, I give up, why are you at a donkey sanctuary?’

‘I’m scoping them out for a possible prize. But back to the blame. Is it really fair to blame us for the downfall of a nation?' 

He didn't miss a beat in his reply: 'Yes, absolutely. I wish it were more vague, but yes, it’s fair. And I don’t have a more palatable explanation, so please just accept the yes. All your faults’.

‘Daddy!’ I pushed, ‘The people were STARVING! Inevitably it’s what people DO when they’re starving. It was basically like the storming of the Bastille!’

‘Yes, correct… France had an economic crisis but made the fatal error of trying to make nice with American revolutionaries and soon plunged further into debt. Similarly, Sri Lanka joined up with elitist green revolutionaries and lord only knows how they thought it could end well’.

Sri Lanka: vox populi, vox Dei.

‘That’s not entirely fair’. I said.

‘I agree’. he said, ‘For Western elites to hoodwink a president who was about as bright as King Louis into their ESG pipe dream was definitely not fair. Do you realise it led to an 85 percent loss of crops? Honestly Jennifer, do the math, I don’t see how you can defend your people. Not this time’.

‘But I did look at numbers. The World Bank gave them MILLONS after they implemented a fertiliser ban’, I replied. 

‘Well billions actually, and the E.U. gave them a few billion, and China loaned them even more billions. But who is them? Do you really think the majority of Sri Lankans who got used to eating every day would have agreed to eat 85 percent less just to get a near-perfect ESG score?’ 

‘Probably not’, I said, ringing off and reasonably annoyed. And where was the woman I was meant to be meeting? Still I hadn’t meant to argue with him, but sometimes he can be so dismissive. I’d bet even money he didn’t champion saving donkeys either.

I had really stepped in it. And literally too. Eeew! Fresh donkey piles. Now what? I looked around for a way to rinse off my wellies and near the hose I read a sign that said ‘For over 50 years we have worked to make the world a better place for donkeys’. OMG—really? It further stated, ‘We are transforming the lives of donkeys, by fostering greater understanding, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships’.

Have you kissed a donkey today?

Transforming the lives of Donkeys? Who was I kidding! I couldn’t go back to my client with this, let alone say it out loud to a room full of donors. I scanned down to ‘Our Vision’ which read: 

A world where donkeys live free from suffering, and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.

I’d lose the room at ‘A world where donkeys…’ And I’d be lucky if someone didn’t make a braying noise in the middle of my speech. I started to leave when I was met by the woman with whom I’d had the appointment.

‘Good morning’, she said ‘Did you know that last year we published several peer-reviewed papers to boost the status of donkeys across the globe?’

With that I took off running and didn’t stop until I reached the car. What was I thinking? And all of this while I’d been tromping around in methane-emanating muck.

I was back at square one and was going to have to find some other charity to award. Daddy and Judith wouldn’t be expecting me, as I’d told them I was going to visit multiple locations but obviously there was no reason for that now. Just then, a text from my father:

‘Cocktails at 5:00?’ 

Well, indeed; there's nothing vague about that, is there?