Climate Boogyman

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 boogyman 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?

 

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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.

 

 

Bering Sea Ice Blues Mid April 2019

“Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose.” (Kris Kristofferson)

In April, Arctic ice extent is declining as usual with the notable exception of Bering Sea, along with ice retreating in nearby Okhotsk.  Bering still has some ice to lose, but at 178k km2 it is only 31% of the ice there January 27, the largest Bering extent this year.  It is unusual since the Bering ice is only 25% of the 12 year average for this date.  Nearby Chukchi Sea is hardly showing any open water, down only 10k km2 from its maximum.  Open water is also gaining in Okhotsk, the other Pacific basin, but ice extent there is still 6% above the 12-year average.

Elsewhere things are mostly typical with Russian and Canadian basins still frozen with high extents.  The other two places losing ice are Barents and Baffin Bay/Gulf of St. Lawrence shown below.
On the right side is Barents losing ice along the Russian coastline, while holding onto Svalbard.  On the left, water in Baffin Bay is pushing north along the western Greenland coast.  On the extreme left is open water taking over in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The graph below shows how the Arctic extent has faired since the March maximum compared to the 12 year average with and without the Pacific basins of Bering and Okhotsk.  The green line is the 12yr. average without B&O, while 2019 appears in purple when Bering and Okhotsk are excluded.
As of day 105, 2019 ice extent is 858k km2 below the 12yr. average, a gap of 6%.  529k km2 of that difference comes from the combined losses in Bering and Okhotsk.

The graph below shows March/April 2019 compared to average and some years of interest.

All years are tracking below the 12-year average.  2019 MASIE and SII are the same and well below 2018, largely due to Pacific ice losses. 2007 is only slightly higher than 2019 at this point.  The table below shows ice extents by regions comparing 2019 with 12-year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive) and 2007.

Region 2019105 Day 105 
Average
2019-Ave. 2007105 2019-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13443363 14301788 -858425 13588722 -145359
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070498 1069781 717 1068692 1806
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 955995 965240 -9245 961638 -5643
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1086417 721 1078666 8471
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 893203 4642 843501 54344
 (5) Kara_Sea 932750 922684 10066 890594 42156
 (6) Barents_Sea 586518 611095 -24577 439904 146614
 (7) Greenland_Sea 601126 652308 -51182 673585 -72458
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1133317 1349987 -216669 1215526 -82208
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853337 852527 810 848812 4526
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1238689 1252970 -14281 1208588 30101
 (11) Central_Arctic 3241460 3236044 5416 3235648 5811
 (12) Bering_Sea 177335 714883 -537548 600281 -422946
 (13) Baltic_Sea 16987 48771 -31784 23534 -6547
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 648664 640205 8459 491121 157543

Of course both of these basins will melt out long before the September minimum, along with the Russian shelf seas.

As indicated earlier, Bering supplies almost 2/3 of the deficit to average, with Baffin Bay providing most of the other 1/3. Of course both of these basins will melt out long before the September minimum, along with the Russian shelf seas.

 

 

 

 

Populist Wave Rolls Into Finland

Contextual Remarks

It is worth remembering that “populist” is a term used by the established elites to demean those expressing the plebes’ concerns and thereby forging political constituencies.  Christopher Caldwell explained:

“Le monde, the French newspaper of record, admitted last summer that readers had been complaining about the indiscriminate way its journalists flung around the word “populist.” It seemed to describe dozens of European and American political actors with nothing in common except the contempt in which Le Monde held them. The meaning of “populist” was nonetheless easy to decode. A dispatch in that same edition of Le Monde, about a new political alliance between populist governments in Italy, Austria, and Hungary, was titled: “Europe’s hard right lays down the law against migrants.” To call someone a populist is to insinuate that he is a fascist, but tentatively enough to spare the accuser the responsibility of supplying proof. If one sees things as Le Monde does, this is a good thing: populism is an extremism-in-embryo that needs to be named in order that it might better be fought. Others, though, will see populism as an invention of the very establishmentarians who claim to be fighting it, an empty word that allows them to shut down with taboos any political idea that they cannot defeat with arguments. In Europe, populism is becoming the great which-side-are-you-on question of our time.” For more see What is Populism?

Suffice it to say that the hoi polloi are on the march in many European nations and beyond, and the latest breakthrough in Finland adds disgust with climate policy to immigration concerns to forge a potent voter appeal.

Alex Kliment writes insightfully on the recent Finnish election in Finland at GezeroMedia: Finnish Populists Shift Aim From Browns to Greens.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been a political winner for populist parties across Europe in recent years, but as the flow of new asylum-seekers wanes, Finland’s main right-wing outfit found a new way to win votes over the weekend.

In a national election defined largely by a polarizing debate over what to do about climate change, the euroskeptic nationalists of the Finns Party came in second place, just a hair behind the center-left Social Democrats. And they did it by taking square aim at climate policy.

Finland, of course, is on the front lines of climate change. A third of its territory lies above the Arctic Circle, where rapidly melting ice caps are transforming the environment both locally and globally.

But Finland is already one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly countries, and the Finns party’s message on this subject was simple: we’ve done enough.

Their beef isn’t with climate science itself, but with policy proposals like higher fuel taxes, electric vehicle requirements, and restrictions on meat consumption that impose short-term pain for uncertain longer-term gains.

The Finns Party says these measures disproportionately hurt working people, particularly their supporters in the countryside, and scare away foreign companies that may choose to invest in other countries that impose fewer environmental restrictions.

What’s more, Finns asks, why should a small country like Finland make more sacrifices to help the planet when progress depends almost entirely on actions taken by bigger polluters like China, the US, and India?

It’s unclear whether the Finns Party will have a role in the next Finnish government, but the party’s strong showing has drawn notice from other populist parties across the continent, which are hoping to make big gains in elections to the European Parliament next month.

The upshot: Several years on from the peak of the migrant crisis, Europe’s populist parties need new campaign issues that resonate with their voters. Climate policy – which often imposes clear economic and lifestyle sacrifices while promising fewer tangible benefits – may be the next ripe issue for anti-establishment politicians across Europe.

Background

Though Steve Bannon is currently out of Trump’s favor, he is nevertheless lucid and convincing on the subject of the populist wave from UK to Brazil, Eastern Europe, and two years ago the Trump election, so upsetting to those who know better than the rest of us.  Below is reprinted a previous 2016 post Trump Revolution World Outlook.

Lots of scorn, slurs and insults directed at Trump’s appointment of his chief advisor, Steve Bannon. The invective is so pervasive and intense, it exemplifies a new phenomenon in the global village: the Lie Swarm.  From the Streetwise Professor (here)

Bannon, and especially Trump, are primary targets of the Lie Swarm, especially since Trump had the temerity to actually prevail in the election. Don’t get me wrong–there is much about Trump to criticize. But there has been a kind of Gresham’s Law at work here: the bad criticism has driven out the good. Screeching “racist!” “Anti-Semite!” “Fascist!” on the basis of the most twisted and biased interpretation of the flimsiest evidence has overwhelmed substantive argument.

And the Swarm really hasn’t figured out that their attack will do little to get Trump supporters to change their minds. If anything, it will do the opposite, because the “deplorables” know that they are being attacked and smeared as much as Bannon and Trump. Furthermore, the Swarm seems hell-bent on living out Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Hillary’s whole campaign was based on personal attacks on Trump and his supporters, and she enlisted the Swarm in this endeavor.

Bannon in his own words

Martin Luther King said people should be judged by the quality of their character, not superficial identifiers like race, gender or religion. So someone like Steve Bannon should be evaluated by what he himself says and thinks, not by the words of others. And in fact if you listen with a mind to understand him, you discover why Trump values his advice on world realities and strategies to move America forward.

This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World is a transcript of an extended presentation by Steve Bannon from 2014, published at Buzzfeed (here). Some excerpts that struck me as particularly insightful.

Inclusive Capitalism Saved Us

That war (WWI) triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people. . . The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.

That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.

Modern Perversions of Capitalism

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx — and that is a form of capitalism, particularly to a younger generation [that] they’re really finding quite attractive. And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of “personal freedom.”

Crony Capitalism Gives Rise to a Populist Revolt

General Electric and these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists. We’re backers of entrepreneurial capitalists. They’re not. They’re what we call corporatist. They want to have more and more monopolistic power and they’re doing that kind of convergence with big government. And so the fight here — and that’s why the media’s been very late to this party — but the fight you’re seeing is between entrepreneur capitalism, and the Acton Institute is a tremendous supporter of, and the people like the corporatists that are closer to the people like we think in Beijing and Moscow than they are to the entrepreneurial capitalist spirit of the United States.

The underpinning of this populist revolt is the financial crisis of 2008. That revolt, the way that it was dealt with, the way that the people who ran the banks and ran the hedge funds have never really been held accountable for what they did, has fueled much of the anger in the tea party movement in the United States. . . In addition, I think you really need to go back and make banks do what they do: Commercial banks lend money, and investment banks invest in entrepreneurs and to get away from this trading — you know, the hedge fund securitization, which they’ve all become basically trading operations and securitizations and not put capital back and really grow businesses and to grow the economy.

I think it’s particularly more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States, but in the United States it’s getting pretty advanced — is that when you have this kind of crony capitalism, you have a different set of rules for the people that make the rules. It’s this partnership of big government and corporatists. I think it starts to fuel, particularly as you start to see negative job creation. If you go back, in fact, and look at the United States’ GDP, you look at a bunch of Europe. If you take out government spending, you know, we’ve had negative growth on a real basis for over a decade.

And that all trickles down to the man in the street. If you look at people’s lives, and particularly millennials, look at people under 30 — people under 30, there’s 50% really under employment of people in the United States, which is probably the most advanced economy in the West, and it gets worse in Europe.

So you can understand why middle class people having a tough go of it making $50 or $60 thousand a year and see their taxes go up, and they see that their taxes are going to pay for government sponsored bailouts, what you’ve created is really a free option. You say to this investment banking, create a free option for bad behavior. In otherwise all the upside goes to the hedge funds and the investment bank, and to the crony capitalist with stock increases and bonus increases. And their downside is limited, because middle class people are going to come and bail them out with tax dollars.

And that’s what I think is fueling this populist revolt. Whether that revolt is in the midlands of England, or whether it’s in Middle America. And I think people are fed up with it.

Secularization and the Rise of Islamic Fascism

The other (worrying) tendency is an immense secularization of the West. And I know we’ve talked about secularization for a long time, but if you look at younger people, especially millennials under 30, the overwhelming drive of popular culture is to absolutely secularize this rising iteration.

Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. . .That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.

Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us.

I’m not justifying Vladimir Putin and the kleptocracy that he represents, because he eventually is the state capitalist of kleptocracy. However, we the Judeo-Christian West really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism — and I happen to think that the individual sovereignty of a country is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors, and that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward.

Global Center-Right Populist Movement

Look, we believe — strongly — that there is a global tea party movement. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and Front National and other center right. With all the baggage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially — but we think that will all be worked through with time.

The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run.

I will tell you that the working men and women of Europe and Asia and the United States and Latin America don’t believe that. They believe they know what’s best for how they will comport their lives. They think they know best about how to raise their families and how to educate their families. So I think you’re seeing a global reaction to centralized government, whether that government is in Beijing or that government is in Washington, DC, or that government is in Brussels.

And that center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great victory was very much based on these Reaganesque principles, so I think this is a global revolt, and we are very fortunate and proud to be the news site that is reporting that throughout the world.

 

Climate Hearsay

In a legal proceeding, a witness can only testify to what he or she personally experienced. Anything reported to them by others is dismissed as “hearsay”, not evidence by direct observation, but rather an opinion offered by someone else.

In the current public commotion over global warming, almost all the discourse is composed of hearsay.  Ross McKitrick explains that the alleged changes in temperatures are so small that no one can possibly notice. Thus, their concern over global warming can only come from repeating hearsay in the form of charts and graphs published by people with an axe to grind. His article in the Financial Post is Hold the panic: Canada just warmed 1.7 degrees and … thrived. Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

A recent report, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (also known as the federal Department of the Environment), sparked a feverish bout of media coverage. Much of it keyed off the headline statement that Canada warmed “twice as fast” as the entire planet since 1948. If that is self-evidently a bad thing, what to make of the finding that the Canada’s Atlantic region warmed twice as fast as the Prairies? Or that Canadian winters warmed twice as fast as summers?

Saying Canada warmed twice as fast as the whole planet doesn’t prove anything

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Maritimes warmed twice as fast as the Prairies. But now that I’ve told you, you might tell yourself it makes sense based on what you’ve seen or heard — that’s called confirmation bias. In fact, I was lying. It’s the other way around. The Prairies warmed almost three times faster than the Maritimes.

Would you have known either way? One of the psychological effects of a report like this, and the attendant media hype, is that it puts ideas in peoples’ heads. Tell everyone over and over that the climate is changing, and soon they will see proof of change everywhere. Rain, snow, wind, floods or dry spells; it will all seem to eerily confirm the theory, even though we have always had these things.

Most of what people are noticing, of course, are just natural weather events. Underneath, there are slow trends, both natural and (likely) human-caused. But they are small and hard to separate out without careful statistical analysis. A few years ago, climatologist Lennart Bengtsson remarked:

The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.

And so we get reports with charts and graphs to tell us about the changes we didn’t notice. Remember last summer when the media hyped a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that warming 1.5 degrees Celsius (compared to preindustrial times) was a disaster threshold we must avoid crossing at all costs? Now we learn that Canada warmed 1.7 degrees Celsius since 1948. Far from leaving the country a smoking ruin, we got wealthier and healthier, our population soared, and life improved by almost any measure of welfare you can imagine. If only every so-called catastrophe was like this.

We deal with lots of changes over time. Go back to Bengtsson’s thought experiment. Today’s 80-year-olds entered their teens in 1950. Ask them what changes they experienced over their lives and they will have plenty to say. Then ask if, where they live, the fall warmed more than spring did. Without peeking at the answer, most will have no idea. Yet, according to the federal government’s latest report, depending on the province, one likely warmed twice as fast as the other. Which one?

If you can’t tell without looking it up, that’s the point.

Alarming news headlines are always part of the ritual (though you’d have thought journalists would be a bit jaded by now, after all the hyperventilating Only-Ten-Years-Left blockbuster claims over the past 30 years). Saying Canada warmed twice as fast as the whole planet doesn’t prove anything. Pretty much any large country warmed faster than the global average, because countries are on land. Oceans cover 70 per cent of the Earth, and the way the system works, during a warming trend the land warms faster than the oceans. So the scary headline only confirms that we are on land.

The best antidote, if you find yourself alarmed by the press coverage, is to turn to chapter four of the Department of the Environment’s report and start reading. The section on the observed changes in 1948 is factual, data-focused and decidedly non-alarmist. But there are some points I would quibble about: 2016 was a strong El Niño year, so the end point of the data is artificially high.

Some of the report’s bright-red heat maps would probably look different if they stopped in, say, 2014. And most of the report’s comparisons start in 1948 to maximize data availability, but this boosts the warming rate compared to starting in the 1930s, which was a hot decade. When the authors talk about attributing changes to greenhouse gases versus natural variability, they don’t explain the deep uncertainties in such calculations. And they make projections about the century ahead without discussing how well — or how poorly — their models can long-term forecast.

If you want to learn about changes to the Canadian climate, read the report. But if you need to look at the report to know what changes you lived through, that tells you how much — or rather, how little — they mattered to you at the time.

Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Postscript:  No one under 20 years old has experienced a trend of warming temperatures.  Yet they are in the streets instead of classrooms demanding action (anything) to stop something they have never known.  Think about it.

The West vs. Africa: Energy Hypocrisy as Seen from Kenya

Suleiman Shahbal writes in Kenya at Standard Media Global warming: Why the West preaches water yet drinks wine.. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A few months ago I was with a group of Kenyan politicians in Abu Dhabi. Hosting us for a cup of coffee was my good friend Abdalla Nassir. Abdalla is a serial entrepreneur who owns 94 businesses, including the coffee shop. His 95th business is a steel mill that he was going to open in Djibouti, targeting the Ethiopian market of 80 million people.

I asked him why not in Kenya; the gateway to the Comesa market of 150 million people, to which he replied that the cost of power in Kenya is more than twice that of Djibouti and Ethiopia. One week later, I read that a glass company in Mtwapa had just closed down, with the loss of over 400 jobs. The reason? The high cost of power.

So what do we do? The quickest solution that everyone would like to come up with is solar or wind power. Both, ‘clean energy’. The problem is, what do you do when it doesn’t shine for three days? Or if there is no wind? You cannot run a hospital hoping for the sun to shine. Those baby incubators or that poor patient being operated on cannot depend on the weather being conveniently agreeable.

We are forced to look for dependable energy or, to use the lingo of the industry, ‘base load’. That leaves you with two energy sources – coal or gas. Coal is the cheapest. Gas prices are closely correlated to oil prices, which are very volatile and expensive. Remember that we have fewer industries and jobs because of cost. We have little choice but to go for the cheaper option. But the world doesn’t like coal. Why?

Affecting forests

In 2004, the world met in Copenhagen and came to the conclusion that global warming was a real threat to the planet. The world resolved not to allow global temperatures to rise above another 2 degrees.

Anything more would lead to catastrophic changes affecting forests, air, water and the environment. All true so far. No one doubts the disaster of global warming. The solution was either for the world to stop making any new coal plants or for the developed world to reduce their emissions by 10 per cent.

The developed world categorically refused. Such a drastic drop in emission would lead to loss of livelihoods and jobs, something they were not willing to take. So, let us force the poor Third World to stop starting such plants. Let the poor make the sacrifices. Who cares if they lose jobs or new companies? That’s why we have such a strong opposition to our coal power.

Shiekh Mohamed Al Maktoum is considered one of the most visionary leaders in the world. After all, he took the desert and transformed it into one of the world’s leading cities. He has all the gas and oil in the world, but he chose to build the Hassyn Coal Power Plant of 5,000 Megawatt. That is five times the one proposed in Kenya.

Do you think he is unwise to use coal when he has all the other alternatives? Turkey, one of Europe’s major economies, gets over 70 per cent of its power from coal and it is building a new one called Karabiga plant of over 1,500 megawatts. South Africa gets over 90 per cent of its power from coal. Do you think all these people are unwise?

Acceptable levels

Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel once said: “there comes a time in every nation when they have to make sacrifices with their conscience and to make hard choices’’. Kenya is now at that cross point. Either we make that difficult choice and use the cheaper coal and create those jobs – or spend another 20 years dreaming of industralisation and job creation. Fortunately for Kenya, over 90 per cent of our power is from clean energy, mainly geothermal and hydro so the world can forgive us for trying to create jobs.

Chemicals can be deadly if used in excess. For example, 500mg of paracetamol (Panadol) will cure you, but 5,000 grams will kill you. That is the logic of chemistry. The same logic applies to all emissions from a coal plant, whether it be sulphur, carbon-dioxide or nitrogen. What is acceptable and what is not? The World Bank has set the standards that are acceptable and the proposed coal plant in Lamu meets all the requirements – and the day they don’t meet those standards then shut it down. No point arguing about the chemicals without stating the acceptable levels.

I am writing this in Lamu and I have to admit that I am one of the promoters of the coal plant. I am from Lamu, my family lives here and no one can claim to love this place more than I do. I would never do anything that would harm my people. However, there is no greater pollution than having millions of our youth remaining jobless and having their ambitions crushed through loss of hope. To quote Golda Meir, we need to make sacrifices with our conscience and bring the cheap power. Even if this annoys our rich friends.

Mr Shahbal is Chairman of Gulf Group of Companies

Summary

So wealthy elites in Europe and North America get to take virtuous postures on the imaginary problem of global warming, while Africans pay the price.  Racism anyone?  They are not asking for reparations, just letting them play by the same rules other nations used to build prosperous and healthy societies.