2019 Springtime in America: No Collusion, No Warming

Brian C. Joondeph writes at American Thinker Global Warming Going the way of Russia Collusion Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The last thing we expect mid-spring is snow. Yet that’s just what we have. As the Weather Channel reports, “It may be late April, but Winter Storm Xyler will make you forget that it is spring in the Midwest this weekend as it is expected to bring some unusually heavy late season snowfall.”

Snow is heading to New York as well, despite the state’s all-out effort to combat global warming by attempting to ban plastic straws and now hot dogs. From the New York Post, “Upstate NY may get up to 3 inches of snow this weekend.”

Across the country in Denver, the weather won’t be much different, as The Denver Channel reports, “Mild through the weekend, cold, rain and snow next week!” What’s going on? I thought the planet was heating up, with melting icecaps, rising sea levels, and less than 12 years before the earth burns to a crisp?

We have been hearing this song and dance for several decades now. The global warming chicken littles keep telling us that snow is a thing of the past and we had better get used to it, along with a warming planet.

In 2000, British newspaper The Independent ran this headline, “Snowfalls are just a thing of the past.” In 2014, The New York Times ran a sequel headline, “The end of snow?”

Yet here we are, at the end of April, planting our gardens and facing snow in much of the country. If this is evidence of global warming, then Bernie Sanders’s popularity is evidence that the Democrat Party has shifted to the right. Good luck selling that.

One important factor always neglected by the climate warriors is the Sun, a ball of fire a million times larger than the Earth, the source of life on Earth, as well as destruction if the fires ever were extinguished, or expanded. If we were a few million miles closer to or further from the Sun, life on Earth would cease to exist. Just look at Venus and Mars, neighboring planets either too hot or too cold, respectively, for life as we know it.

Even the Earth’s tilt toward or away from the Sun is enough to cause our seasons, with large temperature variations and the difference between food production or not. Yet climate warriors ignore the Sun, instead focusing on human activity, driving SUV’s, flying in airplanes, and running our air conditioners.

Sunspots, according to the National Weather Service, “Are areas where the magnetic field is about 2,500 times stronger than Earth’s, much higher than anywhere else on the Sun.” Sunspots are quite large, about the size of the Earth, and are several thousand degrees cooler than the surrounding Sun surface.

Sunspots lead to solar flares, surface explosions which “release as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT.” These flares emit x-rays and magnetic fields which blast the Earth as geomagnetic storms, disrupting power grids and satellites, and warming the Earth.

Sunspots are not random but instead follow an 11-year cycle, from a minimum to a maximum. Sometimes the cycles last longer, for unknown reasons, with a 70-year period of near zero sunspot activity from 1645 to 1715, called the Maunder Minimum, or Little Ice Age. Enough of science class, how is this relevant now?

As reported by the Express, we are now entering one of these 11 year cycles as the Sun enters a solar minimum. As they report,

During a solar maximum, the Sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in magnetic waves.

Fewer magnetic waves equates to the Sun being slightly cooler, and experts are expecting the solar minimum to deepen even further before it gets warmer.

With less magnetic waves coming from the Sun, cosmic rays find it easier to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and are more noticeable to scientists.

While cosmic rays have little effect on our planet, one of the reasons scientists monitor them is to see when the Sun has entered a solar minimum.

Now, with cosmic rays at an all-time high, scientists know the Sun is about to enter a prolonged cooling period.

The bottom line is that decreasing sunspot activity translates to a cooling planet, contrary to the doomsday non-scientific pronouncements of Al Gore and Alexandria Occasional-Cortex. Sunspot activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, but as noted above, there may be other perhaps longer cycles as occurred in the 1600s leading to a 70-year mini ice age.

Then there are even longer climatic cycles, with real ice ages occurring every 100,000 years. These glaciations end with a 10,000 year inter-glacial warming period, the current such warming period soon ending, as distinguished scientist S. Fred Singer wrote in American Thinker.

Clearly there are factors at play in climate cycles that we barely understand and certainly cannot control. Some play out in shorter time spans, which we as humans can observe directly. Others are on a far longer and grander scale than human existence, much less our individual life spans, which are merely the blink of an eye by comparison.

Aside from solar activity and sunspots, there are volcanic eruptions emitting more greenhouse gas per eruption than years of worldwide human activity. What other forces are at play? That’s for scientists to discover. Our solar system is a mere speck in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is another speck in the vast universe.

It’s the ultimate in hubris to believe climate revolves solely around human activity. Yet politicians, rather admitting the obvious, that we don’t know far more than we do know, blame an ever-changing climate on everything from flatulent cows to processed meats.

Much like the Russian collusion hoax, the left creates a narrative to fit their agenda, putting conclusions before research and discovery. Instead they would be better served by applying the scientific method of observing, formulating a hypothesis, testing it against observations, modifying and refining the hypothesis, until after extensive testing it accurately predicts future events.

Otherwise it’s just more blather and fear mongering, just as we heard for over two years with Russian collusion fantasies that turned out to be nothing. Just as late April snow, in the eyes of the left, is further evidence of a warming planet.

See The Warmist Who Came in from the Cold

See also The cosmoclimatology theory

 

How Mass Media Became One-Sided

 

Joel Kotkin writes at New Geography on the forces that morphed major news media outlets from objective reporting to ideological mouthpieces, mostly aligned with progressive, social justice bias. His article is The Twilight of America’s Mega-Media. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It’s far too early to predict which party will win next year’s election, but not too early to announce the national media as a clear loser in terms of national influence and prestige.

Pew reports that millennials have become as negative about major media as older generations, with their rate of approval dropping from 40% in 2010 to 27% today. Gallup tracks a similar pattern, finding 70% losing trust in the media, including nearly half of Democrats.

As Trump backers never cease to point out, the Mueller report undermined the supposedly rock solid case for “collusion.” Whatever the truth, a solid majority of Americans believe the Russiagate brouhaha was politically motivated. Some progressives, like Rolling Stone’s contributing editor Matt Taibbi, believe Mueller represents “a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.”

Ironically, Trump, the man the media wanted to bring down, was largely their creation. At a party in 2016, my wife and I were regaled by a CNN account executive crowing about the company’s strategy of using Trump rallies, at the exclusion of others, to boost ratings. Once having created President Frankenstein, CNN then tried to keep up the ratings by chronicling his disposal — this worked for MSNBC which, unlike CNN, never much pretended to be an objective network. Today, CNN’s audience share has fallen below not only leader Fox, but MSNBC, Home and Garden, Discovery and Food networks.

Ideology over journalism

By some estimates some 92 percent of all major network coverage of Trump outside Fox has been negative. This reflects a decay in journalistic standards. When I was a cub reporter at the Washington Post, I once tried to inject my opinion into an article. My editor came back with a remark that “no one gives a [expletive] about what you think.” Today the notion that news reporters should first and foremost inform, letting readers come to their own conclusions, seems almost quaint.

Today, many reporters ride fact-free, neglecting alternative views on such key issues as climate change, where even mild skepticism is ignored, or even the Trump tax cuts. This increasingly ideological cast has been worsened by journalism schools’ shift toward social justice advocacy; even well-placed writers at The New York Times complain about the stridency of younger journalists shaping coverage to fit their accepted ideological narratives.

The impact of the internet

Once there were bold notions of the internet helping to create an ever-expanding realm of options in the arts and journalism. Instead, as a Harvard study has demonstrated, we have increased geographic concentration of media in deep blue New York, Washington and, to some extent, the Bay Area, while local independent media continues to shrink.

The media’s tendency toward concentration — and ideological uniformity — reflects the dynamics of the tech industry. Google, for example, now controls nearly 90% of search advertising, Facebook almost 80% of mobile social traffic and Amazon about 75% of US e-book sales.

The traditional media now see much of their online sales largely enriching the world’s richest companies, and potential competitors. Pew reports that newsroom employment has dropped by 23% over the past decade. This does not even include the purging of experienced journalists frequently replaced by younger, less expensive and often ideologically driven younger reporters.

How the oligarchs are further undermining the media

Nearly two-thirds of readers now get at least some of their news through Facebook and Google. This dominance is even greater in both the United States and the United Kingdom among millennials who, by some accounts, are almost three times as likely to get their information from these platforms than print, television or radio.

The shift of control to Silicon Valley, located in one of the country’s most left-leaning regions, accentuates the progressive stranglehold on the media. Facebook’s attempts to “curate” content often eliminates conservative views, according to former employees. Over 70% of Americans, notes another recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.”

Increasingly, the remnants of the old publishing industry are being bought by the oligarchs — Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Post in 2013, the 2017 buying of the Atlantic by Laurene Powell Jobs, and last year’s purchase of Time by Marc Benioff, founder of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com. With billions made elsewhere, these media outlets no longer must listen to their diverse readers; Bezos did not buy the Post to defend democracy, as his henchmen insist, but to shape the debate in the nation’s capital.

Conflicts to come

Progressives may savor the media’s leftward tilt, but ultimately oligarchic control poses a direct threat to the grassroots left as well. Bezos’ tool, the Post, widely ridiculed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and will likely do so again. After all, the well-financed and well-liked Sanders, and other similar populists, may, if elected, relieve them of a few billion to fund his proposed “revolution.”

Hopefully, this pervasive group think will spur new alternative media committed to the credo that journalism best serves the public interest by offering unbiased reporting and heterodox opinion, not an ideologically driven algorithm.

This piece originally appeared on The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, director of the Chapman Center for Demographics and Policy and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism in Houston, Texas. He is author of eight books and co-editor of the recently released Infinite Suburbia. He also serves as executive director of the widely read website http://www.newgeography.com and is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Real Clear Politics, the Daily Beast, City Journal and Southern California News Group.

Ottawa Signals Emergency Climate Virtue

Mark Bonokoski writes at Canoe: Progressive plaudits abound as Ottawa declares climate emergency Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Our nation’s capital, always in search of the latest in political progressivism, has now joined the sky-is-dying crowd by having its city council officially declare Ottawa to be in a climate emergency.

This is in the nick of time, of course, but not because of the serious flooding currently ravaging the region, but because our country’s climate conscience Environment Minister Catherine McKenna keeps telling us that the planet has only 12 years left to sustain life.

There is no doubt the outlying burbs of Ottawa are again fending off rising flood waters because of a very snowy winter followed by a very rainy spring, but that is not the big-picture stuff, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week while filling sandbags for a photo-op that the current crisis is a direct result of climate change.

So, this wasn’t just a freak year. This was the new norm.

No, the real big-picture stuff is McKenna’s doomsday scenario that has her believing and preaching we’ll all be snuffed out by 2029 unless critical changes are made to ensure our planet’s orbit continues with us still aboard.

In Ontario, the successive Liberal governments of McGuinty and Wynne bragged about how they had at least saved their own province by shutting down all coal-fired power generation, tossing $2 billion down the toilet to cancel two gas-fired power plants, and spending multi-billions more on green-energy projects backed by influential friends who saw renewable energy as their licence to print money.

And they weren’t far wrong. Lots of former backroom types got rich, but it wasn’t the beleaguered taxpayer, because it was he who found himself having to choose between feeding his family or heating his home, and not how he was going to count all the money rolling in.

Or has everyone forgotten those stories? A lot of ink was spilled to report them, and a lot of fossil-fuel petrol was burned by television outlets dashing off to Smalltown, Ont., for first-hand coverage of outraged citizens living through trying times in homes without heat or light.

So, what good has green energy done for Ontario if cities like Ottawa, Kingston and Hamilton find it necessary to declare a climate emergency?

Renewable energy, despite costing billions of taxpayer dollars, is the source of less than 10% of Ontario’s electricity. Those vast fields of solar panels tilted towards the sun? Less than 2%.
Wind power, towering winged turbines that also drive countless nearby residents crazy with mysterious brain worms? Less than 8%.

A little over 90% of Ontario’s power sources — from nuclear plants to hydro dams — are environmentally friendly and without emissions.

Yet our nation’s capital has declared itself to be in the midst of a climate emergency, and spare us all if we sit idly by.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was quick to point out that council’s climate emergency declaration is “no empty gesture,” although it came days prior to calling a real state of emergency over extreme flooding and getting assistance from 400 members of the armed forces to help cope with the crisis.

No, along with its specific climate emergency declaration, the city will prove it is “no empty gesture” by ponying up $250,000 out of its annual Hydro One dividend to do … what?

Why, to study the city moving to renewable energy, of course.

As if it had suddenly become a smart idea.

Background on Ottawa Resolution

Denis Rancourt writes at his blog change.org There is no evidence for a “climate emergency”. Stop the nonsense. Excerpt in italics with my bolds

There is an epidemic of cities in North America declaring that the city is in a “climate emergency”. This, below, is my recent submission to Committee opposing such a motion for Canada’s capital, Ottawa. There is no evidence that supports such a declaration. We should discourage our politicians from engaging in nonsense.

My signed submission document is also at: https://www.scribd.com/document/406277896/Dr-Denis-Rancourt-to-Committee-Enviro-Protection-City-of-Ottawa-2019-04-14

[The motion in Ottawa passed: 6 (for), 2 (against). Ottawa is therefore now in the throes of a “climate emergency”? The media refused to cover my scientific arguments and did not seek the views of the other side, whatsoever, despite several neighbours and Ottawa residents who agree with me.]

Summation

In conclusion, the Committee should take notice of the following facts when it considers this Motion:

(1) There is no conclusive scientific evidence that climate change (unnatural increased extreme-weather incidence) has occurred since the surge in use of fossil fuel that started in the 1950s. There is only tenuous theoretical conjecture that such might occur.

(2) Not a single death on Earth has been scientifically attributed to “climate change”, which includes Ottawa.

(3) Not a single animal or plant species has been scientifically established to have become extinct from climate change. There is no scientific demonstration of such a thing.

(4) Weather data for Ottawa does not show increased incidence of weather extremes, or any statistically meaningful deviations from the known natural variability (ENSO).

(5) Changes in Ottawa canal skating-season schedules result from ice-management and safety protocol changes, not from (empirically known) weather data.

(6) There is no rational reason, based on empirical data, to believe that Ottawa is at risk of climate change or is susceptible to anomalous future extreme weather events.

The Motion, in my opinion, is what can be termed “goodness propaganda”, which appears intended to convince citizens of being looked after. In fact, this Motion is a waste of resources and political attention.

It is verging on the ridiculous to think that the reality that 87% of world energy from fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) can be changed by policy statements or taxation.[4] The only significant alternative contributors, as now demonstrated by decades of publicly funded adventures, are nuclear and hydro, both requiring massive structural investments, and both having large environmental consequences.

Climate Lemmings

Footnote

The Canoe article talks about the renewables small contribution to electrical supply in Canada.  The proportion of Canadian total primary energy shows wind and solar are far from being the solution.

In the Canadian Energy Fact Book, energy supply is equivalent to energy consumed, since it is calculated after adjusting for energy imports and exports. Note that 17.7% is the amount of energy from renewables, and hydro is 11.6%. Let’s see how much of renewable energy comes from wind and solar:

So Canadians actually consume 4.35% of their renewable energy from wind and solar. 92% of Canadian renewable energy comes from the traditional sources: Hydro dams and burning wood.

Combining the two tables, we see that 80% of the Other Renewables is solid biomass (wood), which leaves at most 1% of Canadian total energy supply coming from wind and solar.

Full discussion at post Exaggerating Green Energy Supply

Valve Turners Compare to Anti Vaxxers

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against the United We Roll Convoy For Canada pro-pipeline rally in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. United We Roll Convoy For Canada lead organizer Glen Carritt said their main message is connecting the Canadian energy sector from the east to west through pipelines, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg © 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

Background:

The measles outbreak raises the issue of parents irrational fears of having their children vaccinated. SF Chronicle reports: All 10 kindergartens with the highest rates of vaccine exemptions are in N. California. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Ninety-five percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to stave off an outbreak of a very contagious disease, such as one that broke out at Disneyland in 2014.

Doctors say just 3 percent of children at most should be exempt, due to serious health complications, such as a child undergoing chemotherapy.

There is currently no authority in the state that decides on the validity of issued medical exemptions for vaccines.

California kindergartens with the highest medical exemption rates include:

58 percent: Sebastopol Independent Charter – Sonoma County
52 percent: Yuba River Charter – Nevada County
51 percent: Sunridge Charter – Sonoma County
43 percent: Live Oak Charter – Sonoma County
38 percent: Berkeley Rose School – Alameda County
38 percent: The New Village School – Marin County
37 percent: Coastal Grove Charter – Humboldt County
37 percent: The Waldorf School of Mendocino County – Mendocino County
35 percent: Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm – Sonoma County
33 percent: Santa Cruz Waldorf School – Santa Cruz County

Linking Fear of Vaccines with Fear of Fossil Fuels

Michael Lynch writes at Forbes Does The Measles Outbreak Have A Lesson For The Petroleum Industry? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Nearly everyone complains about the poor science literacy of the American public, but all too often they are referring to citizens’ refusal to believe what they want them to, whether its about climate change, vaccines, peak oil, or homeopathic medicine. The public has no problem accepting science (broadly defined) when it is to their benefit. Proposals to ban disposable diapers were popular briefly, before it was pointed out that the life-cycle effects of cotton diapers were not significantly better and possibly worse for the environment, after which the bans were quietly abandoned.

But the recent measles outbreak demonstrates a very important element of science literacy, namely the cost-benefit equation. People are relatively inattentive and more likely to adopt populist ideas when the impact on their lives is minimal, but employ more skepticism when the impact on their lives is significant. Although there are numerous cases of irrational fears driving policy, there are others where the public thinks more carefully.

Which is where the anti-vaccination movement can be a teachable moment. Until recently, criticism was primarily from those in the medical community. If the occasional child wasn’t vaccinated, it had little impact on others. But with this winter’s outbreak of measles, it has become obvious that there is a significant cost to the loss of herd immunity, and scrutiny of the science behind the anti-vaccination movement made it clear to many more people that it is somewhere between flawed and non-existent. Governments have put aside the passionate objections and demanded that vaccination be more widespread with much less resistance than would have appeared a few years ago.

Could this lesson prove valuable to the petroleum industry? There are two strong advocacy groups that are primarily passionate, not rational, with lots of overlap. Some oppose pipelines, thinking that will mean oil and gas will stay in the ground and not be consume, and others oppose fracking, in the belief that it is, well, scary or something.

Notice that no one discarded their cell phones when it was suggested they might cause brain tumors. Two elements seem to have come into play. First, the widespread use of cellphones without obvious negative health consequences encouraged skepticism about the possibility that there was a clear and present danger, as the saying goes. But also, giving up cellphones seemed like an unacceptable cost to most of the public.

Which is problematic for the petroleum industry. Banning fracking or pipeline construction appears much less contentious, especially where it is perceived as only affecting oil companies, or as many call them, “Big Oil.” In other words, such opposition is seen as cost-free and therefore easier to support, or at least ignore.

But familiarity is another element leading to acceptance. A couple of decades ago, I heard Michael Golay of M.I.T.’s nuclear engineering department talk about how new technologies were often resisted, but gradually became accepted as more and more people were familiar with them. (Railroads, cars, etc.) This certainly appears to be the case where nuclear power is concerned, as the operation of hundreds of reactors for decades has seen a total of two serious accidents (I don’t consider Three Mile Island a serious accident), but with two generations who have lived through operations of nuclear power with problems only under the most unusual of circumstances (a 1000-year tsunami), the early warnings of heavy death counts from nuclear power appear foolish.

The industry has tried to emphasize the fact is that both involve pipelines and fracking, while not ubiquitous like cellphones, have a long-standing provenance. There are 2.4 million miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States, and over 2 million oil and gas wells have been hydraulically fractured. The industry has regularly pointed out these facts and they appear to have gained some traction, where mainstream politicians sometimes argue for tighter regulation, but few have embraced opponents.

Neither activity is completely safe, because nothing is completely safe. Having heavy trucks on highways increases fatalities, but no one suggests banning them, merely regulating them to improve safety. Banning cellphones would reduce deaths from distracted driving, but governments (with public support) have chosen to regulate them instead. Banning pipelines or fracking is not too dissimilar from those cases, except that it would not appear to have costs for the average citizen.

Because relatively few people were affected by bans on either (land-owners in western New York the most obvious exception), but as some gas companies cease new hookups because of lack of pipeline capacity, that could change. Unfortunately, the number of people affected will be minimal compared to, say, the threat from measles due to the anti-vaccine movement, however some of those will be small businesses that have more clout than home-owners.

Similarly, while the impact of any given shale well on world oil and gas prices is minimal, a slowing of fracking for oil could mean higher prices for consumers generally, especially given the current geopolitical situation. Which is not to say that the public should throw caution to the wind and allow both pipeline construction and fracking to occur without oversight, but merely that a more rational estimate of the costs and benefits should be made. This may seem like a vain hope, but remember, you can still buy disposable diapers.

Michael Lynch: I spent nearly 30 years at MIT as a student and then researcher at the Energy Laboratory and Center for International Studies. I then spent several years at what is now IHS Global Insight and was chief energy economist. Currently, I am president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, Inc., and I lecture MBA students at Vienna University. I’ve been president of the US Association for Energy Economics, I serve on the editorial boards of three publications, and I’ve had my writing translated into six languages. My book, “The Peak Oil Scare and the Coming Oil Flood” was just published by Praeger.

Footnote:

One of the arguments by those fearing fossil fuels is that their use must stop now since we will soon run out of them.  Lynch rebuts this notion (“peak oil”) in the video below.  He addresses why people are mistaken to believe the following points of conventional “wisdom”:

Oil is finite and must run out.

Pundits are optimists, either conucopians or industry shills.

Reserve numbers are not reliable.

Only one barrel is found for every four consumed.

See also post at Master Resource Michael Lynch Interview (new book reviews, refutes ‘Peak Oil’ scare)

Frackingphobia: Facts vs. Fears

Why People Rely on Pipelines

Climate Boogeyman

As You Sow, So Shall You Reap.

This proverb from the bible draws an analogy from farming: The seeds you choose to put in the soil lead to different crops. Humans are responsible for the effects of their actions. If the action is based on goodness, it will churn out only goodness in the long run. If the action has been evil, the outcome also tends to be evil. The Holy Gita and Koran also emphasize the same. Goodness is the child of good deeds and misfortune and calamities are the children of evil.

Bringing this into the present, we are seeing the effects of environmental evangelists sowing seeds of fear into generations of children. The climate change movement has morphed into a doomsday cult, with those who have been duped taking to the streets like so many zombies with minds totally captured by fear. Could it be that the alarmists are ramping up fears of the climate boogyman just now, when indications of a cooler future are gaining strength?

We Have Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself.

Parents know that small children at some point become afraid of the boogeyman under the bed. Each child must confront the fear in order to go beyond it. Hank Aaron, #2 all-time home run hitter, said he was cured after his father pulled Hank’s mattress off the bed, putting it directly on the floor. In some way, every child must come to recognize the difference between figments of a fearful imagination, and realities to be faced and overcome. Sometimes people are consumed with doubt and fear as were Americans following the Great Depression. In 1932 Franklin D Roosevelt famously said upon taking office, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He went on to say: “Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Where, oh where is there such leadership today?

Bjørn Lomborg wrote about the overheated discourse that has children taking to the streets on the advice of adults who should know better.  Overheating About Global Warming was published at Project Syndicate.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

Decades of climate-change exaggeration in the West have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and unrealistic political promises. The world needs a cooler approach that addresses climate change smartly without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.

Across the rich world, school students have walked out of classrooms and taken to the streets to call for action against climate change. They are inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who blasts the media and political leaders for ignoring global warming and wants us to “panic.” A global day of action is planned for March 15.

Although the students’ passion is admirable, their focus is misguided. This is largely the fault of adults, who must take responsibility for frightening children unnecessarily about climate change. It is little wonder that kids are scared when grown-ups paint such a horrific picture of global warming.

For starters, leading politicians and much of the media have prioritized climate change over other issues facing the planet. Last September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described climate change as a “direct existential threat” that may become a “runaway” problem. Just last month, The New York Times ran a front-page commentary on the issue with the headline “Time to Panic.” And some prominent politicians, as well as many activists, have taken the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to suggest the world will come to an end in just 12 years.

This normalization of extreme language reflects decades of climate-change alarmism. The most famous clip from Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth showed how a 20-foot rise in sea level would flood Florida, New York, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Shanghai – omitting the fact that this was seven times worse than the worst-case scenario.

A separate report that year described how such alarmism “might even become secretly thrilling – effectively a form of ‘climate porn.’” And in 2007, The Washington Post reported that “for many children and young adults, global warming is the atomic bomb of today.”

When the language stops being scary, it gets ramped up again. British environmental campaigner George Monbiot, for example, has suggested that the term “climate change” is no longer adequate and should be replaced by “catastrophic climate breakdown.”

Educational materials often don’t help, either. One officially endorsed geography textbook in the United Kingdom suggests that global warming will be worse than famine, plague, or nuclear war, while Education Scotland has recommended The Day After Tomorrow as suitable for climate-change education. This is the film, remember, in which climate change leads to a global freeze and a 50-foot wall of water flooding New York, man-eating wolves escape from the zoo, and – spoiler alert – Queen Elizabeth II’s frozen helicopter falls from the sky.

Reality would sell far fewer newspapers. Yes, global warming is a problem, but it is nowhere near a catastrophe. The IPCC estimates that the total impact of global warming by the 2070s will be equivalent to an average loss of income of 0.2-2% – similar to one recession over the next half-century. The panel also says that climate change will have a “small” economic impact compared to changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, and governance.

And while media showcase the terrifying impacts of every hurricane, the IPCC finds that “globally, there is low confidence in attribution of changes in [hurricanes] to human influence.” What’s more, the number of hurricanes that make landfall in the United States has decreased, as has the number of strong hurricanes. Adjusted for population and wealth, hurricane costs show “no trend,” according to a new study published in Nature.

Another Nature study shows that although climate change will increase hurricane damage, greater wealth will make us even more resilient. Today, hurricanes cost the world 0.04% of GDP, but in 2100, even with global warming, they will cost half as much, or 0.02% of GDP. And, contrary to breathless media reports, the relative global cost of all extreme weather since 1990 has been declining, not increasing.

Perhaps even more astoundingly, the number of people dying each year from weather-related catastrophes has plummeted 95% over the past century, from almost a half-million to under 20,000 today – while the world’s population has quadrupled.

Meanwhile, decades of fearmongering have gotten us almost nowhere. What they have done is prompt grand political gestures, such as the unrealistic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions that almost every country has promised under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In total, these cuts will cost $1-2 trillion per year. But the sum total of all these promises is less than 1% of what is needed, and recent analysis shows that very few countries are actually meeting their commitments.

In this regard, the young protesters have a point: the world is failing to solve climate change. But the policy being pushed – even bigger promises of faster carbon cuts – will also fail, because green energy still isn’t ready. Solar and wind currently provide less than 1% of the world’s energy, and already require subsidies of $129 billion per year. The world must invest more in green-energy research and development eventually to bring the prices of renewables below those of fossil fuels, so that everyone will switch.

And although media reports describe the youth climate protests as “global,” they have taken place almost exclusively in wealthy countries that have overcome more pressing issues of survival. A truly global poll shows that climate change is people’s lowest priority, far behind health, education, and jobs.

In the Western world, decades of climate-change exaggeration have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and grand political promises that aren’t being delivered. We need a calmer approach that addresses climate change without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.

Bjørn Lomborg, a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School, is Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. His books include The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cool It, How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World, and, most recently, Prioritizing Development. In 2004, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people for his research on the smartest ways to help the world.

See also:  GHGs Endangerment? Evidence?

 

Call Me a Carbon Polluter? See You in Court.

Program Statement October 23, 2018:Canada’s plan ensures that polluters pay for their carbon emissions in every province

Justin Trudeau justified the federal carbon tax this way:

“The core of putting a price on pollution is exactly that. Making sure that pollution is no longer free. You’re making something you don’t want more expensive. We don’t want pollution, so we’re putting a price on it.”

Brian Lilly writes at Canoe Carbon tax court battle, advantage Ontario. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Last week the Ontario and federal governments battled it out in court on the carbon tax and it was the tale of two very different stories.

The opening arguments laid out by lawyers representing the opposing sides showed where they wanted to put their emphasis.

The lawyer for the Government of Ontario argued that the law was unconstitutional while the lawyer for the Government of Canada argued climate change was real, urgent and needed action taken.

One was a legal argument, the other emotional.

Given that judges are human, either could carry the day and anyone saying they know which side will win is fooling you.

Decades of following court cases have taught me that judges are unpredictable.

When he opened his arguments, Josh Hunter, deputy director for the constitutional law branch for Ontario, argued that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act violated federalism and the constitution.

Hunter was clear to say the Ontario government was not challenging whether climate change was real or action needed to be taken, they were challenging how the federal government was attempting to reach their goals.

“What this reference is about is whether Parliament can impose its solution to the problem on the provinces,” Hunter said. “Or whether in a federal country, the provinces have the flexibility under the constitution to choose what best meets their local circumstances as they work together to combat climate change.”

The argument from Ontario is pretty simple and rooted in legal concepts. Whether the judges buy those legal concepts remains to be seen, though I think they should.

The federal act imposing a carbon tax on some provinces and not others is a violation of our federal system, as well as an attempt by the federal government to encroach on provincial jurisdiction and, effectively, a violation of the “no taxation without representation” concept that has been part of our system dating back to Magna Carta.

Did you know the act setting up this system grants to cabinet and cabinet alone the ability to set the rate of the carbon tax and to adjust it as they see fit without passing another vote in Parliament?

Whatever you think of the carbon tax or climate change, that should be enough to have this act and the tax that goes with it declared unconstitutional.

For their part the feds admitted this act does infringe on provincial jurisdiction but then said that it does so minimally and therefore should be allowed.

Besides, they argued, against no one in the room, climate change is real!

“We know that climate change is an urgent threat to humanity,” said federal lawyer Sharlene Telles-Langdon.

“The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes global warming which is causing climate change and the associated national and international risks to human health and well-being.”

I’m not saying that Telles-Langdon, the general counsel for Justice Canada, didn’t argue constitutional reasons for upholding the law, but she put the urgency of climate change front and centre at every turn.

That is a policy discussion and not a constitutional one, which tells me that even the feds think they have a weak argument on the constitution and want to win on emotion.

What didn’t help the federal argument was the release of the annual report from the federal government on greenhouse gas emissions by the province.

It showed Ontario had reduced GHG emissions by 22% since 2005. Without a carbon tax Ontario is most of the way to meeting its part of Canada’s target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

British Columbia, the province that has had a carbon tax since 2008 and we are told is the model all should follow, is only down 1.5% since 2005.

As a whole Canada is up by 2%.

The question before the court is not one of the impact of climate change or the best way for governments to combat it — those are policy discussions.

The question before the court is one of constitutionality and on that front Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have failed.

Let’s hope the courts are guided by law and the constitution and not emotion or political inclination.

Footnote:

Ross McKitrick explains that economists do favor carbon taxes over cap-and-trade schemes, but on the condition that the tax replaces other fees, taxes and regulations intended to reduce emissions. That condition is never respected by Canada and other nations enacting such. McKitrick writes at Fraser Institute: Trudeau government carbon-pricing plan not in line with Nobel Prize-winning analysis

Canada has a patchwork of highly inefficient regulations with marginal compliance costs, in many cases well in excess of the conventional estimates of the benefits of greenhouse gas emission reductions. But rather than repealing the inefficient regulations and replacing them with a carbon tax, the federal plan involves adding even more regulations to the mix—then sticking a carbon tax on top. This looks nothing like what economists have recommended.

In fact the economics literature provides no evidence this would be an efficient approach, and some evidence it would be worse than regulations alone.

See also:  CO2 ≠ Pollutant

 

 

Climate Extrasensory Perception

A recent post Climate Hearsay featured an article by Ross McKitrick noting how climatists rely on charts and graphs to alarm people about temperature changes too small for them to notice otherwise.  For example, NOAA each month presents temperature measurements globally and broken down in various ways.  To illustrate McKitrick’s point, let’s look at the results for Quarter 1 of 2019, January through March.  Source: Global Climate Report

So the chart informs us that for this 3 month period, the whole world had its third warmest year out of the last 140 years!  2016 was a full 0.27℃ hotter on average over those 90 days.  Well, maybe not, because the error range is given as +/- 0.15℃.  So the difference this year from the record year 2016 might have been only a few 0.01℃, and no way you could have noticed that.  In fact where I live in Montreal, it didn’t seem like a warm year at all.

McKitrick also makes the point that claiming a country like Canada warmed more than twice the global average proves nothing.  In a cooling period, any place on land will cool faster than the global surface which is 71% ocean.  Same thing goes for warming: land temps change faster. For example, consider NOAA’s first quarter report on the major continents.

Surprise, surprise: North American temperatures ranked 38th out of 110 years, more than 2℃ cooler than 2016.  That’s more like what I experienced, though many days were much colder.  And browse the list of other land places: it was not that warm anywhere except for Oceania, with the land mass mostly in Australia.

Summary

Global warming/climate change is one of those everywhere, elsewhere phenomena.  Taking masses of temperatures and averaging them into a GMT (Global Mean Temperature Anomaly) is an abstraction, not anyone’s reality.  And in addition, minute changes in that abstraction are too small for anyone to sense.  Yet, modern civilization is presumed to be in crisis over 1.5℃ of additional warming, which we apparently already got in Canada and we are much better for it.

Some people worry Global Warming is changing how fast the Earth spins. Have you noticed?

Footnote:

Mike Hulme is a leading voice striking a rational balance between concern about the planet and careful deliberation over policy choices.  I have posted several of his articles, for example on extreme weather attribution and on attempts to link armed conflicts with climate change.  Pertinent to this post, Hulme has spoken out on the obsession with global temperature anomalies: See Obsessing Over Global Temperatures

Global temperature does not cause anything to happen. It has no material agency. It is an abstract proxy for the aggregated accumulation of heat in the surface boundary layer of the planet. It is far removed from revealing the physical realities of meteorological hazards occurring in particular places. And forecasts of global temperature threshold exceedance are even further removed from actionable early warning information upon which disaster risk management systems can work.

Global temperature offers the ultimate view of the planet—and of meteorological hazard—from nowhere.

And he has warned about the emergency rhetoric now on full display in the streets of major cities.  See Against Emergency Countdown

But as we argued a few years ago, declaring a climate emergency invokes a state of exception that carries many inherent risks: the suspension of normal governance, the use of coercive rhetoric, calls for ‘desperate measures’, shallow thinking and deliberation, and even militarization. To declare an emergency becomes an act of high moral and political significance, as it replaces the framework of ordinary politics with one of extraordinary politics.

In contrast, a little less rhetorical heat will allow for more cool-headed policy development. What is needed is clear-headed pragmatism, but without the Sword of Damocles hanging over these heads. Climate Pragmatism calls for accelerating technology innovation, including nuclear energy, for tightening local air quality standards, for sector-, regional- and local-level interventions to alter development trajectories and for major investments in improving female literacy. Not desperate measures called forth by the unstable politics of a state of emergency, but right and sensible things to do. And it is never too late to do the right thing.

 

Urban Flooding: The Philadelphia Story

A previous post (reprinted further on) took issue with climatists exploiting fear of flooding in Philly. This post adds more context disputing these attempts to blame urban flooding on sea level rise and to claim reducing CO2 emissions provides some sort of protection.

Background

Hydro engineers know that urban flooding is a complex problem with multiple factors beyond the effect from sea level. This paper by James Andrew Griffiths et al. presents the situation faced by all coastline cities: Modelling the impact of sea-level rise on urban flood probability in SE China. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Estimating the likelihood of flooding in urban areas poses a greater challenge than in natural landscapes as land-surfaces are more heterogeneous and consist of many more runoff pathways. Data acquisition and process identification are also more difficult in urban areas as networks undergo more frequent and rapid change. To reduce complexity therefore, a lumped-parameter model can be used to represent hydrologically connected areas, rather than individual streets.

This diagram presents the typical situation.

The drainage systems of cities on China’s East coast generally consist of networks of channels or canals that are fed by streams from the surrounding catchments. The canal network is protected from tidal intrusion by a combination of sluice-gates, weirs and large flood-gates. Water is released from the system between high tides until a minimum water level is reached. If catchment runoff exceeds the rate of drainage from the system (for example during extreme rainfall) there is a risk of canal capacity exceedance and flooding. During normal operating conditions, a minimum water-level is preserved in canals to ensure sufficient water for irrigation, recreation or commercial use.

In summary, Urban drainage systems in coastal cities in SE China are characterized by often complex canal and sluice-gate systems that are designed to safely drain pluvial flooding whilst preventing tidal inundation. However, the risk of coastal flooding in the region is expected to increase over the next 50–100 years, as urban areas continue to expand and sea-levels are expected to rise. To assess the impact of projected sea-level rise on this type of urban drainage system, a one-dimensional model and decision support tool was developed. The model indicated that although sea-level rise represents a significant challenge, flood probability will continue to be most influenced by rainfall. Events that are significant enough to cause flooding will most likely be minimally impacted by changes to the tidal frame. However, it was found that a sea-level rise of up to 1.2 m by 2010 would result in increased drainage times and higher volumes of over-topping when flooding occurs.

Philadelphia is a Career Flood Fighter

Just like Rocky Balboa atop the Art Museum steps, Philadelphia has long contended with flood events and has always to be prepared.  There have been 65 Philly floods since 1769, most recently in 2014. The city floods when water level in the Schuylkill basin goes over 11 feet, according to Historical Floods: Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from NOAA.

The table below shows the most severe events, 15 in all from 1869 to 2014, along with the crest level in feet and the measured streamflow in cubic feet per second.

Date of Flood  Crest (ft)  Streamflow (cfs)  Category CO2 ppm
10/04/1869 17.00 135,000 Major 287.5
3/1/1902 14.80 98,000 Moderate 296.6
8/24/1933 14.70 96,200 Moderate 308.9
7/9/1935 14.10 82,000 Moderate 309.7
8/9/1942 13.10 71,500 Moderate 310.7
6/2/1946 14.57 94,600 Moderate 310.3
11/25/1950 14.32 89,800 Moderate 311.3
8/19/1955 14.32 90,100 Moderate 313.7
 9/13/1971 13.28 70,300 Moderate 326.4
6/23/1972 14.65 103,000 Moderate 327.5
1/19/1996 13.36 79,000 Moderate 362.6
9/17/1999 14.10 92,500 Moderate 368.4
10/1/2010 13.05 76,300 Moderate 389.2
8/28/2011 13.56 83,900 Moderate 391.2
5/1/2014 13.91 88,300 Moderate 397.2

I have also provided the CO2 atmospheric concentrations for the flood dates, as reported by NASA. Climatists advocate reducing CO2 emissions as a policy to prevent urban flooding. However, the correlation between CO2 in ppm and Philly flood crests is -.58 and -.42 with streamflow. So the severity of Philly flooding has decreased while CO2 has risen. Perhaps burning more fossil fuels would be the prudent action.

Why Philadelphia is Prone to Flooding

BillyPenn explains Why Philadelphia floods so easily when it rains. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Mahbubur Meenar, a professor of community and regional planning at Temple, says that much of the flooding we see happens because of the city’s drainage system. In about 2/3 of the city, stormwater and wastewater — whatever comes out of your house or office building — drains through the same system. This happens because, well, the city is old. It’s so old, and so ingrained in the city’s infrastructure that it would be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, to change.

On normal days, the drainage system works fine. Wastewater goes through and is treated before making its way to one of the rivers. But rain throws a wrench into the process. It flows into the same drains and mixes with the wastewater. The extra water can rise and flow onto the streets. Litter and fallen leaves don’t help, either. They can gather in the drains and make it more likely for flooding.

Another variable: Especially around Center City there are few natural resources that can capture water, i.e. streams and creeks. Nearly all of them have been filled in and turned into sewers. Dock Street is probably the best known example. That brick street in Society Hill used to be a creek. Dozens more have experienced the same fate, mostly in Center City and the neighborhoods closest to it. Check it out. The red lines indicate former bodies of water that have been filled in:

Creeks Flood Philly PHILLYH2O.ORG

If those creeks were still around, they could collect rainwater. Without them, stormwater lingers on the streets and has to go somewhere else — and in Philadelphia that’s through the drains where wastewater is already going.

“Depending on all these things,” Meenar said, “the road gets flooded.”

To some extent, there’s not much the Water Department can do. It can’t restore all of Philadelphia’s creeks or overhaul the city’s infrastructure, particularly in the oldest parts of the city where stormwater and wastewater drain together. But the Water Department is working on green stormwater infrastructure to combat the problem. There have been some inroads throughout the city’s neighborhoods — things like green roofs, rain gardens and even man-made wetlands. They are designed to collect stormwater.

The primary purpose of these measures actually has to do with keeping our rivers clean. Stormwater that hits Philly’s streets can pick up chemicals harmful to our rivers and to us if it ends up in our drinking water. By storing the stormwater for a while, it can be released into a system where it will be properly treated, rather than flowing directly into the Schuylkill or Delaware.

The secondary effect for green stormwater infrastructure is that it helps prevent flooding. Not all of the water is rushing into drains at once.

“They try to store water as long as possible and then slowly release it to the drain,” Meenar said.

So that’s how the City is dealing with flooding from rainstorms. Besides rain and severe storms, of course, Philadelphia’s 3,000 miles of leaky pipes can cause flooding, too. That’s an entirely different problem, though.

Previous Post:  Philly Under Water?  Not so Fast.

A previous post explained how local TV weatherpersons are being recruited to stoke public fears about global warming/climate change.  See Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast

For example, just today Philadelphia NBC TV affiliate aired a segment declaring Climate Change Studies Show Philly Underwater. Previously Philly CBS station had their piece shown below.

All of this fearmongering over sea level rise is a coordinated campaign to terrorize coastal dwellers and landowners. UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) together with Climate Central are collaborating to do a drip, drip, drip water torture treatment exploiting the public addiction to television.

Philadelphia, PA – Station ID: 8545240

What They Are Not Telling People

From NOAA Tides and currents comes this long record of service by the tidal guage at Philadelphia.

Climate Central in 2016 published Pennsylvania and the Surging Sea, including this forecast:

In records running back to 1900, Philadelphia has never seen waterfront flooding that reaches 4 feet above the local high tide line. But under a mid-range sea level rise scenario, floods within the Delaware Estuary exceeding 4 feet are more likely than not to take place by 2040, less than one 30-year mortgage cycle away. Under a low-range scenario, chances are just below even; and under a high-range scenario, they reach 3 in 4. At the other end of the spectrum, under high-range projections, there is roughly a 4 in 5 chance of floods above 9 feet by the end of the century.

Putting the projections together with the observational record gives this graph.
Both the record and projection are zero at year 2000.  If the past trend continues, a further rise of 30 cm would be observed by 2100.  If Climate Central model-based projection is true, the red line shows 122 cm rise by 2040, and 274 cm by 2100.  So alarmists are projecting in 20 years, Philadelphia will get four times the rise that occurred in the last 100 years.  Even now, in 2019, the projection is off by 50 cm, and observations are going down.

Not to worry, UCS provides this Disclaimer:

Neither the authors nor the Union of Concerned Scientists are responsible or liable for financial or reputational implications or damages to homeowners, insurers, investors, mortgage holders, municipalities, or other any entities. The content of this analysis should not be relied on to make business, real estate or other real world decisions without independent consultation with professional experts with relevant experience. The views expressed by individuals in the quoted text of this report do not represent an endorsement of the analysis or its results.

None of that uncertainty appears in the TV clips.  And even worse, computing technology and desktop publishing are being exploited not to empower people, but to terrify them.  An entire web page is devoted to Google Earth images photoshopped to show chunks of Philadelphia under water. Here’s what Philly could look like in 2100 if sea levels rise

Conclusion

More and more, the media are pushing people into the Hobbesian Choice.  Thomas Hobbes (1544–1631) believed that man must choose between living in a state of nature (a life which is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”) or suffering under an arbitrary and absolute government.  And the media content forces another awful decision:  Either believe nothing (or the opposite) of what you read or see on TV, or go into full panic mode.

Footnote

The hottest temperatures ever reported in Phoenix came in January 2015, when Fox 10 weatherman Cory McCloskey faced a malfunctioning temperature map on live television. “Wow, 750 degrees in Gila Bend right now,” he said, without breaking a sweat. “And 1,270 in Ahwatukee. Now, I’m not authorized to evacuate, but this temperature seems pretty high.” More than 6 million people have watched the blooper on YouTube.

 

 

Equality vs. Freedom (American Dilemma)

Bryan Garsten writes an essay at the Tablet that assesses the deep tremors in today’s USA. And the tensions first described by Tocqueville are also on display in other western nations, though perhaps not in the same ways. The article is Will Tocqueville’s Dilemma Crash America? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Is equality a danger to freedom in a democratic United States?

The fundamental challenge that Tocqueville’s book poses to American dogma arises from his refusal to assume that equality and freedom are always mutually reinforcing. The American creed since the Declaration of Independence and especially since Lincoln has linked the two values, assuming that an increase in one naturally accompanies an increase in the other. Tocqueville suggested that we tend to ignore the threats that equality poses to freedom. Freedom was not, like equality, a naturally expanding feature of society. Nor was it a necessary consequence of equality of conditions.

It is too simple to say that Tocqueville presented equality and freedom as principles sometimes in tension with one another. His point was different. Equality was not merely a moral principle. Nor was it merely a material fact. More fundamentally, equality was a passion that gave rise to a certain dynamic in politics. Freedom, on the other hand, he portrayed as a set of skills and habits that required practice, an art that could be learned but also forgotten.

The danger of democratic life, Tocqueville thought, was that the passion for equality would lead us to stop practicing the art of freedom.

To see how equality works as a passion, we have to notice the fundamental effect of looking at any actual social world with the ideal of equality in mind. You will see mostly inequalities. In fact, it seems that the more inequalities we succeed in eliminating, the more remaining inequalities stand out and the more striking they become. As society becomes more equal, the pressure for yet more equality does not subside but instead grows stronger:

Democratic institutions awaken and flatter the passion for equality without ever being able to satisfy it entirely. Every day this complete equality eludes the hands of the people at the moment when they believe they have seized it, and it flees, as Pascal said, in an eternal flight; the people become heated in the search for this good, all the more precious as it is near enough to be known, far enough not to be tasted. The chance of succeeding stirs them, the uncertainty of success irritates them; they are agitated, they are wearied, they are embittered.

Societies characterized by the love of equality therefore have a particular revolutionary energy, which is always ready to upset its inheritances because of new inequities it identifies in them. But nature is constantly throwing up new inequalities—especially among intellects, Tocqueville remarked—and the nature of democracy is to set itself against these inequalities. Even without revolution, the pressure for equality presses into more and more spheres of society, eventually influencing not only laws but also relations between employers and workers, husbands and wives, parents and children; it exerts pressure on habits of thought and feeling, affects the sciences and the arts, the sort of history and poetry that people write, the sort of religion they practice and believe. The old saying, “the cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy,” captures the passion for equality but neglects, Tocqueville would say, the need to “instruct” democracy in the art of staying free.

Tocqueville admired Americans for having learned the art of freedom as well as they had. The most famous and perhaps most often quoted parts of his book are those about the settings in which Americans learn that art—the relatively small political venues in which citizens debated and deliberated and decided how to manage their communities. The ideal versions of such places that Tocqueville believed he had found were New England townships, juries, and the civic and political associations.

In the 1990s political scientists rediscovered Tocqueville and described the sort of skills, trust, and relationships that develop in these small social settings as “social capital.” Countries or regions where citizens engage in these sort of face-to-face interactions with one another were said to have more social capital, and political scientists have shown that these places tend to sustain more stable and successful forms of democracy.

Tocqueville himself did not use the economists’ language of “capital,” but instead the educator’s language of learning. He noted that through learning to work with others in the small and easily regulated context of a town, the citizen “habituates himself to the forms without which freedom proceeds only through revolutions, permeates himself with their spirit, gets a taste for order, understands the harmony of powers, and finally assembles clear and practical ideas on the nature of his duties as well as the extent of his rights.” The myriad small associations that Tocqueville noticed Americans loved to form drew individuals out of their private lives and accustomed them to what Tocqueville called “the reciprocal action of men upon one another.”

To identify democracy with the busyness of social life was to offer an alternative to the view that elections are the central feature of democracies. A Napoleonic program of plebiscites might claim to produce a government in some ways “representative” of the people, but it left individuals mostly passive, asleep in their civic lives, content to allow the state to act for them in between isolated and infrequent moments of voting. Equality frees individuals from the domination of families, estates, social orders, and churches, but it thereby risks producing a sea of individuals without strong ties to one another, held together only by a distant national government. Tocqueville thought the United States had avoided this result by giving “political life to each portion of the territory in order to multiply infinitely the occasions for citizens to act together and make them feel every day that they depend on one another.”

Tocqueville’s great hope in the first volume of Democracy in America was to put forward an argument that would show that “the free association of individuals could replace the individual power of nobles.” But what if the passion for equality swept away not only the nobles but also the practice of association that was meant to replace them?

It might be tempting to dismiss Tocqueville’s relevance today because we seem to observe precisely the opposite of what he did: Whereas he began with the constantly growing equality of material conditions, we have witnessed decades of growing inequality. But Tocqueville has a challenging view to offer on this point, too. In the second part of the second volume of Democracy in America, he offered a sustained analysis of how the democratic passion for equality (the subject of its first chapter) might well produce a tendency toward material inequalities and oligarchies, what he called “industrial aristocracy” (the subject of its last chapter).

Tocqueville argued that the passion for equality could weaken social ties, promote materialism, and fuel the inequities of capitalism. He explained that egalitarian sentiments lead us to ignore our links to our ancestors, since our lineage should not determine our fate, and also to sever ties to social superiors and inferiors. With these vertical chains broken, every individual family is more on its own. Each feels a new freedom and a new possibility of rising, but also a new vulnerability and insecurity. These hopes and fears lead us to devote most of our attention to securing the material comfort of our immediate family and friends, and so we embrace materialism and withdraw into a political passivity that Tocqueville called “individualism.”

Tocqueville insisted that old regime aristocrats felt compelled by laws and customs to take some care of their servants, that they were bound, however distantly, to their peasants by the land they shared and their regular interactions. The new industrial oligarchs would find themselves free of even these weak bonds. Tocqueville was not arguing for a return to feudalism; he was trying to show just how bad the new oligarchs would be. Workers and masters would see one another only at the factory and otherwise have no point of contact and certainly no sense of responsibility. “The manufacturing aristocracy of our day,” remarked Tocqueville, “after having impoverished and brutalized the men whom it uses, leaves them to be nourished by public charity in times of crisis. This results naturally from what precedes. Between worker and master relations are frequent, but there is no genuine association.”

Perhaps the state, by reducing material insecurity and regulating industry, could offer a partial escape from the logic of Tocqueville’s argument. But it would not fully counter the dynamic that concerned him unless it also somehow brought into existence the “genuine association” that he thought was necessary for true freedom. The more pessimistic second volume of Democracy in America presses us to worry, however, that a state powerful and centralized enough to effectively regulate the industrial economy would also, by virtue of its power and centralization, crowd out the local politics most conducive to the arts of association.

Can the love of equality and the mobile commercial world it creates be satisfactorily combined with the art of association and the art of freedom?

Can we escape this conundrum?  No sensible reader would suggest that a 19th-century aristocrat can answer this question for us. Instead, reading Tocqueville can keep us from forgetting the question, a question that neither major political party in America is now grappling with directly. Tocqueville felt politically homeless in his time, and his book may leave us feeling the same way in ours.

Philly Under Water? Not so Fast.

Context

A previous post explained how local TV weatherpersons are being recruited to stoke public fears about global warming/climate change.  See Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast

For example, just today Philadelphia NBC TV affiliate aired a segment declaring Climate Change Studies Show Philly Underwater. Previously Philly CBS station had their piece shown below.

All of this fearmongering over sea level rise is a coordinated campaign to terrorize coastal dwellers and landowners. UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) together with Climate Central are collaborating to do a drip, drip, drip water torture treatment exploiting the public addiction to television.

What They Are Not Telling People

From NOAA Tides and currents comes this long record of service by the tidal guage at Philadelphia.

Climate Central in 2016 published Pennsylvania and the Surging Sea, including this forecast:

In records running back to 1900, Philadelphia has never seen waterfront flooding that reaches 4 feet above the local high tide line. But under a mid-range sea level rise scenario, floods within the Delaware Estuary exceeding 4 feet are more likely than not to take place by 2040, less than one 30-year mortgage cycle away. Under a low-range scenario, chances are just below even; and under a high-range scenario, they reach 3 in 4. At the other end of the spectrum, under high-range projections, there is roughly a 4 in 5 chance of floods above 9 feet by the end of the century.

Putting the projections together with the observational record gives this graph.
Both the record and projection are zero at year 2000.  If the past trend continues, a further rise of 30 cm would be observed by 2100.  If Climate Central model-based projection is true, the red line shows 122 cm rise by 2040, and 274 cm by 2100.  So alarmists are projecting in 20 years, Philadelphia will get four times the rise that occurred in the last 100 years.  Even now, in 2019, the projection is off by 50 cm, and observations are going down.

Not to worry, UCS provides this Disclaimer:

Neither the authors nor the Union of Concerned Scientists are responsible or liable for financial or reputational implications or damages to homeowners, insurers, investors, mortgage holders, municipalities, or other any entities. The content of this analysis should not be relied on to make business, real estate or other real world decisions without independent consultation with professional experts with relevant experience. The views expressed by individuals in the quoted text of this report do not represent an endorsement of the analysis or its results.

None of that uncertainty appears in the TV clips.  And even worse, computing technology and desktop publishing are being exploited not to empower people, but to terrify them.  An entire web page is devoted to Google Earth images photoshopped to show chunks of Philadelphia under water. Here’s what Philly could look like in 2100 if sea levels rise

Conclusion

More and more, the media are pushing people into the Hobbesian Choice.  Thomas Hobbes (1544–1631) believed that man must choose between living in a state of nature (a life which is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”) or suffering under an arbitrary and absolute government.  And the media content forces another awful decision:  Either believe nothing (or the opposite) of what you read or see on TV, or go into full panic mode.

Footnote

The hottest temperatures ever reported in Phoenix came in January 2015, when Fox 10 weatherman Cory McCloskey faced a malfunctioning temperature map on live television. “Wow, 750 degrees in Gila Bend right now,” he said, without breaking a sweat. “And 1,270 in Ahwatukee. Now, I’m not authorized to evacuate, but this temperature seems pretty high.” More than 6 million people have watched the blooper on YouTube.