The 'Climate Change' Casino—and the Risks Thereof

There's a lot of risk involved in "global warming." The first and most basic is whether it will occur at all according to the model put forward by the United Nations IPCC. The public can actually wager on whether it's unfolding as officially predicted. "Last week, MyBookie unveiled odds on global warming. Yes, you can bet on the Earth’s 2020 global land/ocean temperature index being greater than or less than 2019’s 0.99 degrees Celsius. Right now, the “no” is a surprising favorite at -700. A “yes” gets you +400."

A more sophisticated version of theory verification uses long-short equity funds.  "The concept is simple: Investment research turns up expected winners and losers, so why not bet on both? Take long positions in the winners as collateral to finance short positions in the losers." If climate change really exists then those who follow the model will do better than the deniers and one can make money wagering in contrasting pairs. According to an investor document seen by Bloomberg:

[Finance veteran] Carrasquillo and her former CPPIB colleague Savironi Chet have joined AllianceBernstein Holding to start a hedge fund called 1.5 Degrees, named after scientists’ warning that the Earth could warm by that much within the next two decades. The long/short equities fund is expected to start trading this quarter... '1.5 Degrees' aims to make high single digit returns by focusing on climate change opportunities and companies benefitting or losing out from events such as rising sea levels, shifting consumer preferences and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

You can't win if you don't play!

Still another approach is to utilize weather risk contracts of the sort traded at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to hedge against definite outcomes. "The use of derivative markets for hedging climate-related risk has been around for over 25 years... By indexing CME Weather futures and options, it makes it possible to trade weather in a way comparable to trading other index products such as stock indexes." (A hedge is an investment that is made with the intention of reducing the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Normally, a hedge consists of taking an offsetting or opposite position in a related security).

A more general measure of climate fear is the level of property and casualty insurance that people, not just activists, buy. Although McKinsey recommends buying insurance they can't even put a number on it. "McKinsey research shows that the value at stake from climate-induced hazards could, conservatively, increase from about 2 percent of global GDP to more than 4 percent of global GDP in 2050. And the risks associated with climate change are multiplying..."

This is disconcertingly vague. In the absence of definite projections so much insurance may be required to protect against the nebulous magnitudes of climate change that some observers fear the whole industry may collapse.

As companies and investors get to grips with the risks of rising global temperatures, climate stress testing is becoming more commonplace across many parts of the world — with eye-opening results for insurers. France’s central bank, for example, released the first results of its climate stress tests earlier in 2021: It found that natural disaster-related insurance claims could increase up to five-fold in the nation’s most affected regions. That would cause premiums to surge as much as 200 percent over 30 years.

In fact preparing against "global warming" creates other risks associated with wind and solar power under-production,  principally the higher likelihood of blackouts. To hedge against crippling outages, provision for keeping dirty fossil-fuel backup generator sets must be made. Moreover there are independent risks inherent to renewables themselves. They are often dependent on exotic material like rare earths (much of it controlled by China) without which green technology could rapidly grind to a halt. They can cause environmental damage by their operation. Solar panel arrays are toxic unless disposed of carefully and wind farms generate a continuous low-level hum that can cause multiple health problems including ruined sleep, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, depression, irritability, and panic episodes.

What risk? The science is settled!

Renewable energy devices are also prone to damage from weather events. Windmills are torn apart by high winds, acres of solar panels are toasted by brush fire.  The answer? Insure it. There is insurance against the sun not shining.  There is insurance against the wind not blowing. Would there were insurance against the public going broke. There is in a way: as Brits face a massive increase in energy bills, largely as a result of wind power shortfalls, Labour wants BP and Shell to pay for the no-show of renewables:

The UK government is coming under mounting pressure to increase taxes on oil and gas companies, including BP and Shell. The aim: to help British households cope with skyrocketing energy bills. The main opposition Labour Party this weekend called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on companies pumping oil and gas from the North Sea, saying that the money raised could be used to cut roughly £200 ($272) from soaring household bills.

That there are risks everywhere is not surprising, except to those who regard the climate future as exact, settled science. Risk is in fact another way of expressing our lack of knowledge about the exact probability of each outcome of or whether we have actually anticipated all possible outcomes. Indeed it would be impossible to create all the bookie bets and insurance policies associated with risk management cited here were it not for the presence of uncertainty. A market for bets requires something which isn't completely known, hence the odds as an incentive to bet.

Far from being a sure thing, there is much that is unsettled about the way the earth's climate works. Although these knowledge gaps may be denied by governments and many in the media, they are tacitly admitted by the risk management instruments contrived to deal with them. These force us to quantify climate prediction in specifics that show up the uncertainties lurking behind the bureaucratic façade of infallibility. The official global warming forecasts are neither as definite nor precise as they are made out to be, and though officials have gone to great lengths to conceal doubt, they have not been able to hide risk, which is the shadow of doubt.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Boris?

Boris Johnson, who has dominated British politics since the middle of 2019, is now facing a possible ejection from office and the end of his political career for the sin of attending parties at Number Ten Downing Street during the period that his government was enforcing anti-Covid regulations that forbade ordinary citizens from attending not only parties but also funerals, marriages, and the bedsides of dying family members. This scandal, inevitably named party-gate, has aroused extraordinary public anger against Johnson because it crystallizes the widespread public feeling after two years of Covid lockdowns that “there’s one law for Them [i.e., the political class] and another law for Us."

That’s an especially damaging charge against him because until recently Boris was seen by a large slice of the British public, especially blue-collar Tories and Brexit supporters, as their defender against a remote and corrupt establishment. Not to mention that the charge comes at a time when Boris is losing popularity more generally because several groups in the broad conservative coalition oppose his other policies.

I dealt with his plight which is a serious one—and how he might succeed in keeping his job—in a recent article in National Review Online:

The odd truth is that although he helped to put together an election-winning coalition, he is now alienating all the major Tory factions one after another by his various policies: Thatcherites by his reckless over spending and abandonment of tax cuts; patriotic Tories by failing to counter the deracinated ideas of Wokeness conquering so many British institutions; younger and less affluent Tories by not tackling the unavailability of affordable housing effectively; small savers and investors by allowing inflation to revive; cautious pragmatic Tories by “big government” projects on an almost Napoleonic scale such as Net-Zero; even Brexiteers by the long-drawn-out negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol; and much else. (My emphasis).

That’s a formidable list of disasters, but the one that will spring out at The Pipeline readers is the reference to Net-Zero and more broadly to Boris’s passionate embrace of a radical, expensive, and life-altering program of left-wing environmentalism and global redistribution. He was the impresario of the COP26 U.N. conference at Glasgow that was meant to entrench Net-Zero as a legally-binding international obligation on the West. It failed in that, but he probably hopes to revive that campaign as soon as he can. Should global “lukewarmers” (i.e., those who think, like The Pipeline, that the costs of climate alarmist policies are heavier than the costs of climate change) want therefore to see Boris brought down over party-gate on the grounds that Net-Zero would perish with him?

Shrinking in stature by the day.

That’s a serious question because the fall of Boris would be a major international sensation and some of the commentary on it would cite Net-Zero as a contributory factor in his demise. Having made two recent visits to London, however, I would argue the opposite case on four grounds:

  1. If Boris fell, Net-Zero wouldn’t be brought down with him. Serious skepticism towards the policy is growing as people realize the extraordinary costs of moving rapidly from fossil fuels to renewables in both taxes and energy prices; the risks of relying on renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blow; and the futility of making enormous sacrifices in order to reduce the U.K.’s 1-2 percent of global carbon emissions when China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and other fossil fuel users and producers will be pumping out carbon with little or no change. I’ve had several recent conversations with economists and politicians who make these and other points. But they all accept that the U.K. establishment and all party leaderships have committed themselves so completely to the climate orthodoxy that turning around the tanker will be a slow business.
  2. Indeed, if Boris were to be forced to resign in the near future, all of the potential candidates to succeed him as prime minister and Tory leaders would almost certainly pledge their support for Net-Zero, giving it a new lease of political and intellectual life. That’s not likely to happen while Boris is in Downing Street. The Tory Party consensus on climate policies has been breaking down as its dire consequences became clearer. A new Tory backbench group has just been formed to support Net-Zero in response to the rise of the skeptical lukewarmers. More significantly, Boris’s great ally on Brexit, Lord (David) Frost has been describing Net-Zero as a policy that lacks realism or any connection to conservatism as commonly understood. As with Brexit, once the leadership’s policy was exposed to criticism and debate, it turned out to have less support than everyone believed—and the rebellion spread.
  3. More time is needed to accomplish this, however, and to develop and promote an alternative set of policies that would compete with climate alarmism at every level of society. Those policies are beginning to emerge: reviving nuclear power, using clean natural gas as a “bridge” fuel to a lower emissions world, legalizing fracking which would incidentally foster a Trump-style energy boom in parts of Britain that are currently “left behind,” and encouraging the market to search out new innovations with tax incentives rather than have Whitehall “picking winners.”
  4. And, finally, if Boris survives party-gate, he is as likely as any of the other contenders for the Tory top job to reverse course on Net-Zero and adopt a more realistic and prudent policy. Maybe more likely. Boris is highly flexible intellectually, as he showed on Brexit, and his radical-left environmentalism is already beginning to fail and to damage him as it fails. He won’t drive his car into the ditch for the sake of consistency. He also knows that one of the largest contradictions in his overall political strategy is that between Net-Zero and his policy of “levelling up” the North of England to the output and living standards of Middle England by infrastructure and transport developments. Levelling up implies a slower transition to a world without the fossil fuels that currently supply eighty percent of its energy. Finally, when Boris looks at the Tory factions in the parliamentary party, he can see that those most sympathetic to his kind of politics are also those most skeptical towards Net-Zero and the socialist hairshirt economics that it requires. He needs them as allies.

Fun while it lasted.

To sum up, a world in which the Government is urging voters to travel by bus, cut down on foreign vacations, eat less meat, and accept colder homes in the winter while ministers and CEOs travel by official cars and private planes to pleasant climates where they discuss the sacrifices that must be made to realize Net-Zero looks awfully like a world in which “there’s one law for Them and another law for Us.” Boris is acutely vulnerable to—and so most anxious to avoid—that suspicion at present.

My conclusion therefore is that climate realists should not be too keen on seeing Boris ousted any time soon. The argument is moving in our direction and Boris is losing the authority and perhaps the desire to halt or reverse that.

From Secret Passages to Burning Bushes

In November last year, a paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It describes a geological "secret passage," located nearly 62 miles (100 km) below Earth's surface. Researchers think it allows a flow of mantle materials to travel from beneath the Galápagos Islands to beneath Panama. It may offer an explanation for why rocks from Earth's mantle have been found more than 1,000 miles from where they originated. What's significant about the secret passage is that until now, no one knew it even existed.

Such revelations are increasingly common. They deepen our understanding of things considered to be already understood or reveal things where little is understood. Whether revelations in physics, cosmology, or math and computer science, these discoveries have led society to develop technologically, economically, and even socially in an exceptionally brief period of time. Making new discoveries reminds us that we don’t always know as much about things as we think we do.

What lies beneath?

Enter climate change. It has been ascribed the pejorative cause for so many circumstances and events with a certitude that defies scientific reality? How has climate change made its way into corporate investing strategies and board room battles? How has it become the nagging cry from those in politics around the world, who seek to use it as a tool for greater control over every part of our lives?How has climate change become a religion for some while becoming a punch line for others?

At a time when we understand how much we still don’t know about so many things, how has this single narrative become the culprit for every foul weather event, thawed acre of tundra or fuzzy creature wandering in a forest too close to human populations? Climate change it seems, is the grim reaper of the 21st century. It is so predictable that it's become… boring.

As 2022 opens, perhaps a quick dip into climate change calamities of the past will remind us that from secret passages to burning bushes, climate change isn’t the cause of everything.

Star(fish) Power
Beginning in 2013, starfish began dying on a scale not previously seen. The starfish fell apart… with pieces of their arms walking away, or their bodies disintegrating into mushy piles. With no understanding of what was causing these deaths, climate activists quickly snatched up the opportunity to assert that they knew the mush-inducing mess was caused by climate change. The assertion, after all, is the proof. It requires no more than a non-profit newsletter to make the claim and NPR to report on the newsletter and…boom… case closed.

"What we think is that the warm water anomalies made these starfish more susceptible to the disease that was already out there," says Joe Gaydos, the science director at the University of California, Davis' SeaDoc Society and one author of a study out today in the journal Science Advances.

He and co-authors analyzed data collected by scuba divers and found that divers were less likely to see living sea stars when the water temperatures were abnormally high. "To think that warmer water temperature itself can cause animals to get disease quicker, or make them more susceptible, it's kind of a like a one-two punch," Gaydos says. "It's a little nerve-wracking."

RIP. Gotta be climate change.

But what of the truth? It turned out to be a virus.

Eventually dubbed "Sea Star Wasting Syndrome," the phenomenon caused a massive die-off of multiple species of starfish stretching from Mexico to Alaska. Tissue samples of sick and healthy starfish were ultimately analyzed by a team of international experts. They sought all the possible pathogens associated with diseased starfish. The research team then conducted DNA sequencing of the viruses and compared them to all the other known viruses. Once they had identified a leading candidate, they tested it by injecting the densovirus into healthy starfish in an aquarium. Then they watched to see if the disease took hold. And sure enough it did. The virus killed the starfish in the aquarium the same way it had been killing them in nature.

The die-off was also linked with an increase in urchin population and a reduction in kelp, according to a study published in Science Advances. In other words, there was more going on than merely the vague, all-encompassing, "climate change" theory. Thankfully, scientific inquiry won out over political postulating and the actual cause was ascertained. Spoiler…it wasn’t climate change.

Burning Bushes
Wildfires are a well-understood aspect of living in the western United States. But so too are forest-management practices. Fail to manage forests and wildfires will be more frequent and more devastating. But like flies to honey, the media rallies around the "climate change" narrative without a scintilla of interest in understanding the real causes of wild land fires.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, as many as 85 percent of wild land fires in the U.S. are caused by humans. That’s right, humans, not climate change. Human-caused fires result from unattended camp fires, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes, sparks from vehicles or equipment and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 15 percent are started by lightning or lava.

Definitely climate change.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 7.6 million acres burned in the U.S. in 2021 due to wildfires. That's about 2.6 million fewer acres than in 2020. California's Dixie fire was the largest 2021 wildfire, burning more than 960,000 acres and destroying more than 1,300 homes and buildings before being contained. Activists asserted that drought, caused by climate change, was the reason the fire had started. However, just recently Cal Fire said investigators have determined that a tree contacting Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power lines caused the Dixie Fire. Proper forest management -- the kind California used to be able to do in its sleep -- likely would have prevented the destruction.

The 2020 fire season was no different. The 7,000-acre El Dorado fire, was started by electronic equipment that malfunctioned at a "gender-reveal" party. That particular fire was reported in the media as being the result of climate change. Other fires throughout the state that year were started by lightening. California’s poor forest management practices allowed all of the fires to grow out of control, not climate change. Worth remembering to never blame on climate change that which can be explained by general governmental incompetence or ideologically-driven political messaging.

Higher Prices? Ho Ho Ho, Yes

During a recent White House briefing, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was asked by a reporter how much oil is consumed on a daily basis in the U.S. She was outlining Biden’s strategy to release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Reserves. By adding to the national supply of oil, goes their thinking, "adequate supply" can be maintained amid global shortages and increasing gas prices. However, there are a couple problems with their ill-conceived strategy.

Granholm was  unable to answer the reporter’s question, instead insisting that she would need to check the number. What everyone already knew is that the amount the administration is seeking to release from the U.S. Strategic Reserves represents about 2.6 days of added supply… hardly a game changer in a supply constrained market.

It will take a lot more than a press conference and a paltry 50 million barrels of oil to repair the economic damage brought upon America by this administration’s policies. Joe Biden’s policies have been devised to create oil and gas shortages, thus ensuring higher prices for consumers, and moving toward parity with wind and solar sources. It is a strategy the Left has been working on for years, and one they unleashed upon this country within hours of taking office. It is the reason America is now experiencing inflation, supply chain pressures, and economic malaise.

Dress warm this winter!

Charged with regulating the oil and gas industry, the depth of Granholm’s ignorance about how the industry she regulates works, is surpassed only by her lack of understanding of the economics of oil and gas. Up until the Biden administration's war on the oil and gas industry, the men and woman of the industry have achieved countless efficiencies through technological innovation that have repeatedly overcome industry challenges and difficult market conditions. Reliable, inexpensive energy after all is the backbone of any robust modern economy.

Granholm's jaw-flapping was further punctuated by her attempt to blame the oil and gas industry for supply shortages that her administration has worked hard to create. Asserting that oil and gas companies are simply trying to make lots of money, Granholm revealed the second problem with her strategy.

The supply and demand curve is one of the most basic concepts in economics. Almost immediately upon entering office, the administration and its surrogates began working to disassemble the infrastructure that until their arrival had delivered inexpensive energy to all corners of the country and overseas. Offering up "climate change" and institutional racism as the cornerstones of their destructive strategy, the administration has diligently worked to increase the price of oil and gas by attempting to remove the systems in place that inexpensively distribute oil and gas. Consider their impact in less than one year.

Hope they don't fart.

But the administration went even further. They engaged multiple other agencies to harangue businesses outside the oil and gas industry. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration -- part of Pete Buttigieg's crack Department of Transportation -- will push utilities and gas companies to "fix" leaks in natural gas distribution lines. The Department of Agriculture will be forcing farmers and ranchers to reduce methane emissions from manure, and the Department of Energy recently launched a program to force the adoption of heat pumps and induction stoves to reduce the need for natural gas inside homes and apartments. The Bureau of Land Management is planning to charge companies royalties for any gas that is vented or flared on public lands. One need not be an economist to understand that the heavy-handed regulatory maneuvering being undertaken by this administration will increase the price of oil and gas, and just about everything else.

So while Secretary Granholm touts the need for less expensive gas, perhaps the most obvious place to look is inside her own administration. Repeatedly devising plans, and launching initiatives intended to hamper the markets and diminish economic activity, will deliver higher prices to all. Merry Christmas America.

Lessons from Kenosha

The only thing surprising about the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was how long it took the jury to reach it. As should be obvious to anyone who understands the law and had the merest familiarity with the facts of the case, Rittenhouse should never have been charged in the first place.

The American Bar Association establishes criminal justice standards for lawyers, among which are those pertaining to prosecutors. Standard 3-4.3(a) of the Prosecution Function reads as follows: “A prosecutor should seek or file criminal charges only if the prosecutor reasonably believes that the charges are supported by probable cause, that admissible evidence will be sufficient to support conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the decision to charge is in the interests of justice.”

Given this standard, and given the evidence they produced at trial, the Rittenhouse prosecutors either ignored the standard or proceeded to trial unfamiliar with the state of their evidence. In other words, they were either corrupt or incompetent, and a case can be made that they were both.

Witness for the prosecution.

In opening statements, the prosecutors over-promised to the jury, claiming they would produce persuasive evidence of Rittenhouse’s guilt only to have the actual testimony come up short or even prove the exact opposite. One example of this was their claim in opening statement that Rittenhouse had chased Joseph Rosenbaum before shooting him. The evidence came to prove it was Rosenbaum who in fact had chased Rittenhouse, as the prosecutors knew or should have known from viewing video that captured the event and from witness statements to the police.

Then there was the testimony of Gaige Grosskreutz, whom Rittenhouse had shot in the arm. Under cross-examination, Grosskreutz admitted it was only after he had approached and pointed a loaded handgun at Rittenhouse did the defendant fire his rifle at him, a moment in the trial that perfectly encapsulated the pathetic state of the prosecution’s case. And on and on it went, with scarcely a day going by in the trial that didn’t produce further evidence of the prosecution’s malfeasance, ineptitude, or both.

Would that the corruption and incompetence had been confined to the courthouse. The media, having already arrived at a state of decay through four years of fabricated allegations against Donald Trump and his administration, and another year of ignoring or excusing the manifest incompetence of the Biden administration, further beclowned themselves in their coverage of the Rittenhouse trial and the events that engendered it, with certain writers and on-air personalities seemingly in competition to produce the most ill-informed commentary.

No charges.

Recall that the August 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc., was found to be justified by both state and federal investigators, a conclusion that should have been obvious to anyone familiar with the simple facts of the case: Police responded to a 911 call regarding a domestic dispute involving Blake, for whom there was an active arrest warrant for sexual assault. Blake was armed with a knife, fought with police officers, and attempted to escape in a van he did not own, seated in which were his three children over whom he did not have legal custody.

And yet, how many times was Blake referred to in the media as “another unarmed black man shot by police”? Praised by then-candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (among many others), Blake became another symbol of the supposedly racist criminal justice apparatus, joining Michael Brown, who in 2014 was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Like the officer who shot Blake, the Ferguson officer was cleared of wrongdoing by exhaustive local and federal investigations, but the propriety of the shooting was obvious to any dispassionate observer within hours of the incident.

Sadly, the news media are no longer staffed by people who see their mission as informing the public of verifiable facts. Instead, today’s newspaper writers and electronic media reporters are proud purveyors of “narratives,” the details of which are crafted in the tonier enclaves of New York City and Los Angeles. The employees of these outlets are ideologically aligned and virtually interchangeable with one another, reflecting the tastes and inclinations of those predominating in those same tony enclaves on the east and west coasts.

The narrative applied to Kyle Rittenhouse was that he was a “white supremacist” and a “vigilante” with no connection to Kenosha and no conceivable motive to be there other than a malevolent desire to shoot “peaceful protesters.” None of this was true, yet these claims were repeated endlessly on CNN, MSNBC, and in countless print pieces. And, lest we forget, as committed as these news outlets are to advancing the narrative, that commitment is subordinate to their desire to expand their audience. Nothing short of international warfare achieves this purpose better than the type of widespread social upheaval and racial unrest seen after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

How else to explain the absence of evidence running counter to the narrative in the coverage of any of these incidents? How else to explain why both CNN and MSNBC aired the prosecution’s closing argument in the Rittenhouse trial but cut away from the defense’s argument? Put simply, they profit from riots, and in such selective, biased coverage they built up public expectations of a conviction even as they were losing confidence in its inevitability.

For the media elites, there were gains to be had no matter the outcome of the trial. Had Rittenhouse been convicted, the narrative of his being a white supremacist and vigilante would have been advanced. With his acquittal a slightly different one comes forth, one in which Rittenhouse is still evil but has now profited from a justice system so corrupted as to fail to recognize it, with the added benefit of potential rioting.

None of this is intended to imply that Rittenhouse is a hero, only that he is neither a white supremacist, a vigilante, nor a murderer. His impulse to defend lives and property in Kenosha, where his father and other relatives live, was noble. But even the noblest of impulses must be tempered by a measure of prudence few 17-year-olds possess.

And there was a need for lives and property to be defended in Kenosha. The Rittenhouse incident took place on the third night of rioting following Jacob Blake’s shooting, by which time it was clear local authorities were unable or unwilling to contain it. It is unsurprising that in the absence of legitimate authority others in the community would step forward and try to defend their homes and businesses from those who would destroy them in the name of some diseased sense of “social justice.”

Case closed.

While it’s true that deadly force cannot be used to defend property, who would argue that the men with whom Rittenhouse joined should have been unarmed? The 2020 protests, endlessly and absurdly described in the media as “mostly peaceful,” were marked by many instances of assault and even murder. While the media busied themselves anointing George Floyd and Jacob Blake into their pantheon of secular saints, how much time did they devote to the death of David Dorn, the retired St. Louis police captain who, during that city’s rioting after Floyd’s death, responded to interrupt a burglary at a friend’s business and was shot to death for his trouble?

Yes, Kyle Rittenhouse was imprudent in deciding to join the older men in Kenosha that night, but note that it was he, and none of those older and stronger men, who was singled out for attack, first by Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted rapist of young boys, then by Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, both of whom had less serious criminal records. They saw Rittenhouse as weak and vulnerable, only to discover too late he was neither.

However unwise his decision to be in Kenosha that night, Kyle Rittenhouse had no obligation to meekly submit to a lawless mob. Neither he, nor any American, has a duty to be a victim. The jury agreed, as they should have.

Have We Turned the Corner on Covid Hysteria?

It’s taken 18 months, but the world slowly seems to be awakening from the hypnotic spell cast upon it regarding Covid-19.  As data becomes increasingly clarified, the most restrictive countries throw in the towel on containment, and people fight back against vaccine mandates, it’s worth examining how and why we may finally be on the road back to normalcy.

Restrictive Countries Give Up

A funny thing happened in Iceland.  Despite being an island that has restricted travel into the country, vaccinated nearly everyone, instituted a variety of restrictions, and wisely let the public health folks, and not politicians, handle the issue, the virus won. 71 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, with 84 percent of those over age 16 vaccinated, along with 99 percent of those over 70, 96 percent of those aged 60-69, 92 percent of those aged 50-59. Kids under 15 are 16 percent vaxxed. Yet 50 percent of new infections are in vaccinated individuals.

Not if Delta has anything to say about it.

Iceland's Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says widespread vaccination has not led to herd immunity, saying, "What has happened… is that the Delta variant has taken over all other variants in Iceland. And it has come to light that vaccinated individuals can contract it relatively easily and spread infection." The same thing happened in New Zealand.  Even Taiwan, which had one of the lowest Covid counts in the world, could not stop Delta.

Countries Cop To Real Death Rate

Both the U.S. and many other countries have counted any death as being a Covid death if the deceased happened to test positive for the virus.  So while Covid may have been a factor in the death of someone with cardiac disease, but didn’t actually cause death, it is counted as a death.

The CDC quietly added a column to its data sets that separated out deaths that truly resulted only from Covid.  Italy recently did the same thing.  It turns out that 94 percent of US and 97.1 percent of Italy’s listed “Covid deaths” were all due to other co-morbidities.  The media “fact-checkers” nevertheless try to bury this.  They want to keep people afraid, because fear generates clicks.

Vaccine Mandates Get Pushback

Increasing numbers of workers, unions, and government employees are balking at vaccine mandates.  Other than the perpetually corrupt teacher’s union’s, most of the nation’s unions have either opposed or remained cool to vaccine mandates.

First responders have been particularly obstinate in their refusal.  Police in Chicago, L.A. County, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Oregon, the Oklahoma National Guard, and numerous other municipalities are refusing the jabs as well as the mandates.  Some of this is due to simple objection towards experimental vaccines being required of the workforce.  In Leftist areas, the refusal is driven by the union’s desire to make every single thing part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Just say no.

President Biden’s absurd mandate for private employers with over 100 workers has been put on hold by the Fifth Circuit Court and OSHA has backed away from trying to enforce it.  The Sixth Circuit, another conservative course, will now consolidate all the challenges into one case, but in the meantime, thousands of front-line health care workers, who were championed as heroes just months ago, are being fired for refusing the vaccines.

Parents Want Control Over Their Kids

As we discovered in the Virginia gubernatorial election, parents don’t like having control over their kids taken away.  The National Institute for Health pulled together data showing the four categories for vaccine hesitancy “are religious reasons, personal beliefs or philosophical reasons, safety concerns, and a desire for more information from healthcare providers.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found “Parents’ major reasons for not yet getting their children vaccinated include not enough information about the long-term effects of vaccination on children (88%), fears about side effects (79%) and fears the vaccine may impact their child’s fertility (73%).” The poll also found “20% of parents of 12- to 17-year-olds will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated, 9% will only have them get it if the school requires the vaccine and 23% plan to wait and see."

A total of 361 children have died from Covid.  The risk of infection is equivalent to every other age group, but the risk of severity is significantly lower, and risk of death is exponentially more remote.

Have a Merry Covid Christmas!

Vaccines Don’t Stop Infection 

Emerging data out of Vietnam suggests that the vaccinated may actually carry higher viral loads than those who are not, and infecting each other, thereby creating new variants in the process.

It stands to reason that vaccinated individuals are more likely to feel safe and engage in social contact, so that behavior increases in those individuals.  However, because they may contract asymptomatic Covid, they spread it to other unvaccinated individuals.  Couple that with the reducing efficacy of the vaccines over time, and it’s no wonder that faith in the jabs is waning.

What It All Means

Each of these items on their own might not be enough to cause a rebellion, but as the data filters out, resistance to restrictions on life are starting to take hold. People in states like Florida are living normal lives.  It’s only in the backward Leftist enclaves like Los Angeles and New York where one must produce papers to engage in normal activities.  Yet even there, cracks are appearing.

While L A. city now requires vaccine passports for just about any indoor activity, the  County Sheriff has announced he will not enforce the mandates.  There is no way that restaurants and bars with lower price points can or will enforce this nonsense, and many of those locations don’t care whether patrons wear masks in their six-foot-walk from door to table or not.  The question is how long it will take the upper-crust locations to decide that they will not comply.

It’s particularly notable that some school districts, many represented by the corrupt teacher’s unions, are also fighting back against student vaccine mandates.  The Calaveras School District in California refused.  Individual parents are bringing suit.

The other possible factor leading to resistance is people’s lives are now being directly affected by bad Covid policy in new ways, including inflation.  People can’t get products they take for granted because of supply chain issues, and they are costing more. “The Great Resignation” is the result of a wholesale re-examination of the meaning of life, the values we lead, and what we expect from our representatives.

These pockets of resistance are significant.  They were nearly impossible to find six months ago.  People have had enough. This may have just led to a Great Awakening: that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

The New Buzzword: 'Climate 'Resilience'

These are the two buried headlines regarding the just-signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka "the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill"). The first story nobody is talking about is the curious migration of climate nomenclature from “climate change” to “climate resilience.

The second story nobody is talking about is the $270 billion that has been earmarked for so-called “climate resilience”. We might refer to it as "pork" or "subsidies", but the fact is that it's money being thrown at the same con artists behind the climate movement.

We must not dismiss the change in terminology.  Climate “change” has always been a vague term that can be challenged by opponents, usually by pointing out that the “change” in Earth’s temperature is not significant enough to warrant hysteria.  Congress and the Climate Alarmists have gotten progressively craftier in the use of language.  Here’s how “resilience” is officially defined in Section 11103.(4) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

The term `resilience', with respect to a project, means a project with the ability to anticipate, prepare for, or adapt to conditions or withstand, respond to, or recover rapidly from disruptions, including the ability-to resist hazards or withstand impacts from weather events and natural disasters; or to reduce the magnitude or duration of impacts of a disruptive weather event or natural disaster on a project; and to have the absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity, and recoverability to decrease project vulnerability to weather events or other natural disasters.

This is insidiously brilliant.  By simultaneously using a more specific term, it permits the government to actually broaden the arenas to which grants can be made.  The bill does not contain language that limits or further defines these terms, which means just about anything goes as long as it can be related to making any form of infrastructure more “resilient.”

Old whines in new bottles.

When one digs into the specifics of Section 11405 of the bill, which is subtitled “The Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation program' or the "PROTECT program," it mostly involves anything having to do with roads, water, and drainage.  The language again demonstrates how it’s a big giveaway to the climate alarmists, because “eligible activities” for the grants include increasing “the resilience of surface transportation infrastructure from the impacts of changing conditions, such as sea level rise [and] flooding…”

Sixteen approved activities are listed, but the seventeenth is where things become a free-for-all, because “any other protective features, including natural infrastructure, as determined by the Secretary” are included.  That is, the money goes to wherever the Biden Administration wants it to go.

Here’s where some of rest of the billions are going.

Yet this goes beyond just improving highways. The government specifies that grants will be given to reduce or shift highway use to off-peak travel times, institute more toll roads, more of those pointless HOV lanes, and increase the cost of parking.  Also, just as you may have heard, there will be grants offered to development systems for “congestion pricing.”  The minimum grant in this portion of the bill is ten million dollars. But don’t worry, any projects approved “may include mitigation measures to deal with any potential adverse financial effects on low-income drivers.”

Not detailed enough?  It gets worse.  These assessments should then be compared to those assessments done in low-income and disadvantaged communities for the sake of “equity.”  Once all that is done, the heat island hot spots will be presumably cooled down by the installation of – ready? – “cool pavement.”  What is “cool pavement”?  That which has a reflective surface with higher reflectivity to decrease its surface temperature. Reflectivity is also known as “albedo” which naturally relates to climate change…. er…. I mean, climate resilience.

"Resilience" is the solution.

If one checks out the usual suspects in the world of climate change, it’s easy to see that they all supported the bill.  What’s distressing is that 13 Republicans also supported the bill.  Several of them claimed that by voting for this bill, it would hamstring the Democrats from getting the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill passed.  Fat chance.

As usual, a little research demonstrates why some of these politicians actually voted for the bill.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania was the top recipient of donations from transportation unions.  Rep. Don Bacon’s district in Nebraska includes one of the designated alternative fuel corridors mentioned above. Marathon Energy, a natural gas supplier, was the top donor to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York’s 11th District. Th the list goes on and on.

The good news is that any other hogs who wants to get into this line of work should have job security for a very long time.  There’s plenty of money sloshing around the pig sties.  It just happens to belong to the rest of us.

History's Most Expensive Alphonse and Gaston Conference

In many ways the Cop26 conference resembles the poison cup scene in the 1987 movie Princess Bride. In the setup two full wine goblets are presented to the hero and villain, one containing normal vintage but the other laced with “iocaine powder," an undetectable but thoroughly deadly poison. Knowing this, neither wants to be the first to drink, at least without figuring out which cup is spiked.

At Cop26 the nations are presented with a cup said to be full of planet-saving potion that will be wonderful for you in the long run but there is a chance -- nobody knows how big a chance -- that your economy might die of fuel scarcity in the meantime. The participants are hesitant to go first unless they are compensated for the risk.

"African nations and a group called the Like-Minded Developing Countries, which includes China, India and Indonesia" want at least $1.3 trillion to go first. But the Western countries are unwilling to ante up, having been unable to reach an earlier $100 billion target to begin with and being broke to boot. “We’re not feeling particularly capable now,” said one European official. “It’s really not the right time.”

In fact there could hardly be a worse time. The climate change conference is being held and pledges elicited to cut back on petroleum products just when the entire globe is reeling from a desperate 'fossil fuel' shortage that is causing inflation and hardship everywhere, even in the West. It's worst in the Third World.

“It’s humiliating,” said Ms. Matos, 41. “Sometimes I just want to cry… I buy gas to cook and then I can’t afford food, or if I buy food then I don’t have money to buy soap.” She said she can’t even afford the butcher shop’s leftover bags of bones.

But European politicians are also wary. "In France, the People the Climate Summit Forgot" are seething, writes the NYT. "Three years ago, Montargis became a center of the Yellow Vest social uprising, an angry protest movement over an increase in gasoline taxes... The uprising was rooted in a class divide that exposed the resentment of many working-class people, whose livelihoods are threatened by the clean-energy transition, against the metropolitan elites, especially in Paris, who can afford electric cars and can bicycle to work, unlike those in the countryside."

Nor were optics improved by  "the global elite arriving at Glasgow via 400 private jets... [which] created such a shortage of parking slots that some were obliged to fly the extra 50-70km to Prestwick and Edinburgh just to park."

The result, as with the movie poison goblet scene, has been an eyeball to eyeball standoff that has slowed Cop26 to a near-halt. "UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on leaders and delegates to just "get on and do it" as the COP26 climate talks appear to have stalled," says CNN. That sounds like an exhortation to suicide. Left-wing Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis actually concludes that COP26 is doomed, and the hollow promise of ‘net zero’ is to blame.

Any resemblance to a crime scene is purely intentional.

Whoever is to blame the next move in the drama is probably up to the engineers rather than the politicians. They are working to create safe, modular nuclear power stations that can further produce bottled hydrogen fuel for reasons not necessarily driven by the U.N. model. Freed from the Cop26 scheme engineers can innovate on the basis of utility, cost and local measurable salubriousness -- that is, on merits -- without reference to some political mandate. They might get nukes not windmills in this calculus but they will get something that works.

Only engineers and entrepreneurs, not ideological activists, can provide an escape from the Cop26 poison cup trap that's making everyone poorer and solving nothing. Don't drink it unless you've developed an immunity to energy poverty poisoning.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Dressing

Casual Friday has killed the world. That’s my story and I’m not backing down. And as khakis turned to jeans, and jeans turned to ripped jeans, the world began chanting ‘but you gotta to be comfortable’. Well, why? Why do you gotta be comfortable? And today it all came to a head as my biggest client found himself yelling like a madman. Why? Casual Friday. I’ll explain.

Somewhere, someone decided, let’s have casual Friday, woo-hoo. Which then became lazy Friday-because hey it’s already the weekend. And pretty soon entire offices forgot what they were meant to be doing—WORK! Then Monday (always a tough transition day) became why do I have to dress on Monday? Also a logical question. Because If one can have no regard for the client on Friday, why should Monday be any different?

TGIF!

Enter me: I flew (commercial) to meet my client to work on our commitment of carbon neutrality (a promise I’m not sure he should have made), but I arrived at the airport to see the usual: slovenly software salesmen (I guess the product sells itself), adults in flip flops (something I still don’t get), kids boarding planes in pyjamas, and their mothers with lycra stretched across their bums. And yet we grow irritated when these same kids throw tantrum after tantrum. I mean, why wouldn’t they? It’s bedtime, right? And I can’t tell you how many times I am offered an airport employee discount because-even in jeans and strappy gold sandals—I look more like the original ideal of a flight attendant than the entire crew in their mismatched separates.

But today I’m traveling for work so I’m dressed…for work. Shocking I know, but this gets us to my client whose entire empire is inefficiency, under the aegis of cool. You see, here we are all too cool to be strict, too cool to demand conformity. And I wouldn’t care except it’s messing up my ability to do my job and save the planet. But alas… we are in service of comfort. Or so we think. Actually we are in service of ego: my client’s ego, and that of his employees. Because you can’t tell me he thought if I make work less like work, and more like… not work, productivity will soar.

But like any benevolent king who came before him, he wanted to be liked, to be seen as the non-tyrannical boss, to be loved and adored cause isn’t he so cool? Isn’t my company just so cool? Look—we can wear jeans! Well he is cool, until he explodes like Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men. And honestly I don’t blame him because no one is doing their jobs, and our planet just keeps getting hotter. And in an effort to be chill… he’s undercutting productivity and responsibility, and then Cool Hand Luke becomes Mr Hothead.

The other thing I noticed was, ‘Hey, Jen.’ as an acceptable greeting. In the first place, even my parents call me ‘Jennifer’, and never did I say just call me Jen, or Jenny or even Jennifer. It’s Madam, or Miss Kennedy if we are still trying to maintain a professional environment. But everyone here is hey, or hi, or dude. And he wonders why we are not on course for delivering carbon neutrality by 2040.

Working hard or hardly working?

I spoke with a ‘Team Manager’ who outlined all the ways they are promoting green within the office…

‘Breakfast for one thing’ she said. ‘By providing meals and snacks for our employees, they are less likely to go out of their way to grab breakfast or lunch AND more likely to carpool to work.’ This she said with a straight face. What I knew was given they now didn’t have to dress for work or make a meal, they were likely just rolling out of bed with enough time to throw something on and fully wake up at the office with a latte and a whole wheat croissant.

She continued, ‘Four work-from-anywhere weeks per year, and two work-from-home days each week.’ Combined with all the other times off… I estimated 90 in-office days in a calendar year. Time off to volunteer, internal culture clubs, caregiver leave, access to mental health apps (on company time), and onsite wellness centres. All of which she assured me, kept their carbon footprint down.

I didn’t have it in me to ask what ‘global reset/wellness days’ were. I was just glad my client had asked me only to consult on this aspect of the business because a path to success I could not see. In fact I thought it was structured to fail. Surely I was wrong but if he’d asked me ‘net-net’ as he calls it, that would be my honest answer. Alas. I didn’t know if I should grab a bowl of in-house pho or look for the nearest zen room.

Tucking into a large Caesar with grilled salmon I decided to call my father. I wasn’t in trouble I just wasn’t used to being the librarian in the room. ‘Hey, Daddy.’

‘Hey, Jennifer.’

‘I mean hello! God… never mind. I’m at the office.'

‘New job?’

‘No, not THE office, Daddy, HIS office… I’m at his office.’ I said.

American business is just the best!

‘Does he have a helipad?’

‘Maybe. No… I don’t know, I mean yes, yes he does. I just didn’t…I just… I’m feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing here.’

‘I thought you were saving the planet.’

‘Yes, of course that, it’s just he asked me to consult on their carbon-neutral deadline.’

‘Ah well, just tell him it’s impossible. I think that’s what’s got you nervous. You were never good at lying.’

‘DADDY! Not helping! And I’m not sure we can’t do it… I need to say something.’

‘Actually you don’t… you’re a consultant. They don’t expect results. It’s not like you’re looking for oil. Success there boils down to… sharing.’

‘OK maybe, but when they know I’m here for the neutrality goal, they get sort of double lazy.’

‘Ah. That’s because— and don’t take offence to this, but green pursuits lend themselves to a hippie mentality, it’s a plain fact. The two are intrinsically linked.’

UGH. Daddy was probably right. And even if he wasn’t right, it made sense he should be. And I definitely couldn’t change that. But there was no denying casual dress led to casual everything. And that my client couldn’t argue. Especially since he’d hired ME out of all the other possibilities, and I’d delivered. And hey, I don’t get the airport discount for nothing. 

Our Rube Goldbergian Supply Chain

The ripple effect of foolish government policy, propagated by an ignorant and biased media, has no end.  The latest knock-on effect continues to play out before our eyes, yet once again, neither the government nor the media will ever cop to it.  We’ve all heard about the supply chain disruption, but the real causes and effects are not being discussed.

The causes are partially rooted in government helicopter money dropped over the past eighteen months.  Stimulus checks, forgivable loans, 30-year SBA loans, rent moratoriums, rent assistance, eviction moratoriums – they all created reasons for people not to go to work.  While many programs have ended, many others continue.  Rent relief checks are still backlogged, and the child tax credit advances continue to deliver income so that people don’t have to work.

Fewer workers means fewer people to manufacture goods, transport goods, and stock the goods.  The result is that supply cannot meet demand, resulting in higher prices across the board (inflation).  No sector is immune.

Tough to keep ahead.

Those aren’t the only ripple effects, though.  Inflation reduces purchasing power.  So all the money that was given to people now buys less than it did, and when they eventually go back to work, their paychecks won’t stretch far enough.  Sure, the labor shortages will temporarily result in higher wages to offset the inflation, but once the labor market reaches equilibrium, those wages will fall again.

Thus, real wages – defined as wages adjusted for inflation – will actually decline.  Those same people the government was purporting to “protect” by telling them to stay home to avoid a virus with a 99.7 percent survival rate, will be unable to make ends meet.  Those that were already struggling will see their situations worsen.  Hourly compensation is up  2 percent, but real hourly compensation (inflation adjusted) is down 2.7 percent.  That’s a 4.7 percent swing in the other direction.

How then do people make ends meet?  By taking out short-term payday and installment loans, as well as pawning items.  That sends them further into debt, so that when the rent and eviction moratoriums end, they are in danger of becoming homeless. Government economic data shows just how bad things are.

Under Barack Obama, the Labor Force Participation Rate hit a 40 year low at 62.4 percent.  It improved to 63.4 percent in the pre-COVID Trump era.  Every single demographic, including women and minorities, hit bottom under Obama and recovered under Trump.

After bottoming out at 60.2 percent, the overall rate is now 61.6 percent.  That 180 basis point difference translates to nearly five million jobs.  It turns out that when five million people stay out of the workforce, there’s a supply chain problem.  Notably, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports nearly 5.7 million people who are not in the labor force who want a job, and of those, less than 10 percent are classified as “discouraged” while the rest are not actively seeking employment.

Job losers on temporary layoff are, for the most part, back to work.  That number was 750,000 in February of 2020 and 1.1 million at the end of September.  These workers are returning to their jobs at a high rate.  That sounds great, except BLS reports that the areas with the weakest job growth in the past month are goods-producing, manufacturing, and wholesale trade.  This has also been the case across three-, six- and 12- month periods.

No thanks, we're on the dole.

Who didn’t lose their jobs during COVID?  Surprise: government workers lost the fewest of all the categories – only 1.7 million total.

The big deal, of course, is inflation.  The 12-month change in the CPI by category is the worst it has been in decades: 5.4 percent for all items, 4.6 percent for food, 4 percent for all items other than food and energy.

Energy is the real killer, however, up a whopping 25 percent.  The worst thing about energy price inflation is it filters through the entire economy.  Energy is needed to manufacture and transport goods to the middleman and end user.  It is required to heat homes, which means colder housing for all those people for whom inflation erodes purchasing power.

Want to make a burger at home?  Ground chuck beef prices are up 15 percent over the last year.  The bread for that burger bun costs 9 percent more. The cost of going out to eat rose at an average rate of about 3 percent over the past twenty years.  The rate of increase is now 4.7 percent.  The Producer Price Index for goods is up 1 percent, the most since 2012.

That’s the data, but there are other issues at play that created the supply-chain issues.  All the free government money, plus the fact that there was nowhere to spend it during the lockdowns, have resulted in surges in demand at the same time as labor shortages.

Not quite bounding over the main.

In addition, the Cato Institute points out that the entire shipping and logistics industries at our nation’s ports have been “warped by long‐​standing policies that have decreased port efficiency and unnecessarily stressed our inland supply chain infrastructure. Most notably, longshoreman unions have leveraged their ability to shut down U.S. ports (and thus much of the economy) during contentious labor negotiations to win contracts that decrease port productivity.”

Another problem goes back to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which requires all ships that move freight between U.S. ports to be U.S. built, crewed by U.S. citizens, and flagged in the U.S.  When supply is limited in that manner, it pushes shipping costs higher, and  offloads capacity onto land-based transport.  Trucks and trains that should be servicing the ports are on alternate jobs.

Thus, the supply chain pandemic begins and ends with government.  The lockdowns were unnecessary, causing the government to flood citizens with money, resulting in both labor shortages and demand surges, amidst obsolete logistics laws and regulations unable to cope with it. Who knew Rube Goldberg was running the country?