Sucking Green Monster

 

Draining the swamp is one thing, difficult enough to do and then contend with the alligators nesting there. Caleb Rossiter is even more concerned about the infiltration of climate change activists into every branch of federal bureaucracy.  His POV is explained in a Washington Examiner article Trump’s agenda faces climate deep state by John Siciliano | Jun 25, 2017.

Background

Rossiter, whose left-liberal credentials included a stint as counsel to former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who was one of Nancy Pelosi’s lieutenants after she swept to power in 2006, is a fervent supporter of clean fossil fuel development, and is sympathetic to Trump’s agenda. He made a name for himself for being a Democrat who is also a fervent critic of alarmist climate policy. His willingness to reject an article of faith in leftist and Democratic circles got him ousted a few years back from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, where he was an associate fellow.

The Herculean Challenge

“So, there wasn’t much change at EPA this year, not much change at [the] State” Department, Rossiter says. People say Trump will “get it right next time” when it comes to the budget, Rossiter adds, but he isn’t convinced.

“It’s going to be hard … and this stuff is really deeply embedded in the budget. People are doing National Science Foundation studies, transportation studies based on the assumption that carbon dioxide is a clear and present danger to our country.”

Another long-term problem is that Obama planted climate change offices in Cabinet agencies all over the federal government. These climate offices are meant to direct, advise on, and recommend actions that have climate change as their guiding star. Their whole point is to ensure that federal agencies only approve projects that consider the climate consequences of government action.

Deep Green Climate Network

Tentacles are attached everywhere, but Rossiter provides examples of some the most obvious larger and more developed suckers.

The State Department‘s Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, or the SECC, which is responsible for negotiating climate deals and implementing U.S. policy on climate change.

The State Department also has an Office of Global Change, which represents the nation in any negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the same convention that handled the Paris negotiations with 194 other countries. It also handles negotiations with other international organizations that handle climate change policymaking, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also has its own specialized Office of Climate Change. USAID is the nation’s primary distributor of foreign aid, and climate change is seen by the agency as one of the primary reasons its services are in greater need than ever before. USAID spends more than $300 million per year in 50 countries for “climate-smart development,” according to the agency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has its Climate Change Program Office, which also guides the agency’s response by focusing on how global warming will affect agriculture, forests, grazing lands, and rural communities. It works to ensure that climate change is recognized and “fully integrated” into research, planning, and “decision-making processes,” according to the USDA website.

The Energy Department has at least two climate change or climate-related offices within its Office of International Affairs, overseen by the deputy assistant secretary for International Climate and Technology.  First, there is the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy, which coordinates clean energy development programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Second, there is the Office of International Science and Technology Collaboration, which oversees a number of programs with other countries to develop clean energy programs.

The Department of Transportation is another big Cabinet level agency with climate change policy strewn through it. One of its main initiatives is the Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse, which is designed as a “one-stop source of information on transportation and climate change issues,” according to the agency. “It includes information on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, analytic methods and tools, GHG reduction strategies, potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and approaches for integrating climate change considerations into transportation decision making.”

The list goes on, according to Rossiter. The Department of Justice has its own programs, as does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Education, he said.

Another large organization that the U.S. government is a part of is the World Bank. It is set up to fund projects all over the world, but has been known to hold up coal-fired power plant projects because of the threat of “climate catastrophe,” Rossiter said.

“A big one is at the bottom of your list at the Department of Transportation,” Rossiter said. “They put a lot of limitations on public transport, what can be approved, and they are very fixated on the greenhouse gas hypothesis.”

Tree growth in Queens sewer.

Next steps for Trump

Trump has taken some actions to disconnect the climate network, primarily by rolling back climate change regulations, land management decisions and international agreements such as the Paris climate change agreement. But all of these actions just scratch the surface, according to critics of Obama’s policies.

They say Trump hasn’t even begun to address the real grip that climate change alarmism had put in place within the government. Trump can turn off the engine, but other presidents can just as easily turn them on again if they are still there, which would leave Trump’s climate agenda in tatters.

Trump is attempting to strike out climate regulations painstakingly one at a time, which will take years, with no guarantee that a new president wouldn’t reverse all Trump’s actions. Revoking the endangerment finding would be a more secure method, because it would eliminate the raison d’etre for carbon dioxide regulation. At least, that’s what climate skeptics hope.

Rossiter said one of the weaknesses in Trump’s decision to leave Paris was that he failed to mention global warming science. “I wish Mr. Trump would have really cut the Gordian Knot by saying for scientific reasons it’s way too premature to restrict our economy on the basis of fears of climate catastrophe,” he said.

Rossiter believes the science isn’t as strong as most people say it is for taking action to stop global warming. “The 98 percent consensus is carbon dioxide is a warming gas. And it has, probably, some impact on the temperature,” but that “doesn’t mean you are immediately creating floods, hurricanes and droughts and locusts.

“This creates a problem because what we are trying to do, what we need to do, is defang the concept that has spread through the federal government. Once it’s defanged, it’s much easier to go through the executive branch agencies and say ‘look, our goal here is clean as possible generation of electricity for the wealth of the United States and the world.'”

Washington’s Future?

Angkor Wat Ta Prohm Temple overgrown with tree roots.

Climate Risky Business

A new theme emerging out of the IPCC Fifth Report was the emphasis on selling the risk of man-made climate change. The idea is that scientists should not advocate policy, but do have a responsibility to convince the public of the risks resulting from burning fossil fuels.

An article illustrates how this approach shapes recent public communications in support of actions on global warming/climate change.  Treading the Fine Line Between Climate Talk and Alarmism (Op-Ed)  By Sarah E. Myhre, Ph.D. | June 23, 2017.  Excerpts:

What is our role in public leadership as scientists? I would suggest a few action items: Work to reduce risk and cost for the public; steward the public’s interest in evidence; and be steady and committed to the scientific process of dissent, revision and discovery. This means communicating risk when necessary. We would never fault an oncologist for informing patients about the cancer risks that come with smoking. Why would we expect Earth scientists to be any different, when we’re just as certain?

As a public scholar with expertise in paleoclimate science, I communicate alarming, difficult information about the consequences to Earth and ocean systems that have come with past events of abrupt climate warming. As the saying goes, the past is the key to the future. 

We are living through a crisis of trust between the American public and climate scientists, and we must extend ourselves, as scientists and public servants, to rebuild transparency and trust with the public. I will start: I want the global community to mitigate the extreme risk of the warmest future climate scenarios. And, I want my kid to eat salmon and ski with his grandkids in the future. I am invested in that cooler, safer, more sustainable future — for your kids and for mine. Just don’t call me an alarmist.

This provides a teachable moment concerning the rhetorical maneuver to present climate as a risky business. The technique typically starts with a particular instance of actual risk and then makes a gross generalization so that the risk is exaggerated beyond reason.  From the article above:

Climate scientists are just as certain as oncologists are.

Herein lies the moral of this tale. The particular risk is the convincing epidemiological evidence linking lung cancer to smokers. The leap was claiming second-hand smoke puts non-smokers at risk of cancer. The statistical case was never conclusive, but the public was scared into enacting all kinds of smoke-free spaces.

Very few passive smoking/lung cancer studies are published these days compared to the glut of the 1980s and 1990s, but the handful that have appeared in recent years continue to support the null hypothesis. For all the campaigners’ talk of “overwhelming evidence”, the link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer has always been very shaky. It tends to be the smaller, case-control studies which find the associations while the larger, cohort studies do not (and, as the JNCI report notes, case-control studies “can suffer from recall bias: People who develop a disease that might be related to passive smoking are more likely to recall being exposed to passive smoking.”)

Gerard Silvestri, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, a member of NCI’s PDQ Screening and Prevention Editorial Board said (here):

“We’ve gotten smoking out of bars and restaurants on the basis of the fact that you and I and other nonsmokers don’t want to die,” said Silvestri. “The reality is, we probably won’t.”

To be clear, I don’t want smokers fouling my space in restaurants, and the policies are beneficial to me esthetically. But there was never any certainty about my risk of cancer, just the spoiling of clean air around me.  What was a matter of opinion and personal preference was settled politically by asserting scientific certainty of my health risk.

To draw the point finely, secondhand smoke shows how science is used by one group (anti-smoking activists) against another group (smokers) by mobilizing support for regulations on the basis of a generalized risk, raising concerns among the silent majority who otherwise were not particularly interested in the issue.

Climate as a Risky Business

Environmentalists have often employed risk exaggeration, beginning with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring full of innuendo about DDT without any actual epidemiological proof. Currently Junk Science provides a list of EPA exaggerations about environmental pollution, for example The scientific fraud that claims air pollution is killing people

In the climate field, any flat Polynesian island is of course at risk of flooding, and thus by extension they produce images of Manhattan under water. Global risk is trumpeted, ignoring all the local particularities of land subsidence, tidal gauge records, terrain drainage features, infrastructure, precipitation patterns, etc.

Any storm, drought, flood, or unusual weather likewise presents a particular risk in the locale where it occurs. The gross exaggeration is to claim that we are increasing the risk of all these events, and by stopping burning fossil fuels we can prevent them from happening.

Sarah Myhre’s research focuses on ocean dead zones (oxygen-depleted waters), which is a real and long-studied risk. Then comes her leap into the fearful future:

The surface and deep ocean will continue to absorb heat and CO2 from the atmosphere. The heating of the ocean will increase the stratification of water (i.e. ocean mixing will be reduced, as will the strength of thermohaline circulation). Ocean heating will also drive the thermal expansion of the interior of the ocean – this is one of the primary contributors to sea level rise.

The absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere will drive changes in the chemistry of surface and deep waters – there are significant biological consequences to acidifying the global surface ocean. Basically, we are looking at the fundamental reorganization of biological communities and ecological provinces in the ocean. These physical drivers (warming, stratification, acidification) all area associated with significant biological consequences.

This is a continuation of a scare called Climate Change Is Suffocating The Oceans.  Once again climate alarmists/activists have seized upon an actual environmental issue, but misdirect the public toward their CO2 obsession, and away from practical efforts to address a real concern. Some excerpts from scientific studies serve to put things in perspective.  See Ocean Oxygen Misdirection

As a paleoclimate expert the author knows the climate and sea levels have changed many times in the past, and often shifted quickly in geological terms.

And yet the evidence shows clearly that CO2 follows as an effect of changing temperatures, not the cause.

Summary

Warmists are of the opinion that because of burning fossil fuels, our modern climate no longer compares to paleoclimates, a claim in fact that humans are overriding natural forces. But the message from the ice cores is clear: Through the ages, CO2 responds to temperatures and not the other way around.

The other message is also clear: Climates change between warm and cool, and warm has always been good for humans and the biosphere. We should concern ourselves with Adaptation, preparing for the cold times with robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

See also CO2 and Climate Change for the Ages

See also Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming
Updated 2017  Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Footnote:

Actuaries are accountants specialized in risk statistics like morbidity and mortality, usually working in the insurance industry.

Question:  What is the difference between an Actuary and an Auditor?
Answer:  The Auditor is the one with a sense of humor.
(Old joke from days working at KPMG)

Renewables Devilish Details

 

Matthew E. Kahn , Professor of Economics at USC provided this insightful post:

What Does Energy Economics Teach Us About a Zero Carbon Electricity Grid by the year 2050?

Energy engineers are having an interesting fight over whether the US electricity grid can “easily” be 100% renewables (and thus create 0 GHG emissions) in the next 30 years. A prominent Stanford Engineer and his team says “yes” while some important critics say no. In Today’s NY Times (“Economics Scene”) Eduardo Porter sides with the critics. The interesting thing here is that no empirical microeconomists who study energy are part of either research team or are quoted in the NY Times. Yet, at the end of the day — this is a microeconomics issue.

Here are some of the key issues that both the original study and the critique ignore;

1. The land markets?
It would be terrific if wind and solar and hydro are so low cost by the year 2050 that we can generate all of our power using them. Assuming constant returns to scale, how much land would need to be allocated to each of these to generate our expected power demand in 2050? In a world where land is very valuable close to cities, what land would be set aside for this? Would current property owners be compensated for this land? Or would this be “roof top solar”? I do not believe there is any discussion of land markets in the original 2015 PNAS paper or the new critique. So the opportunity cost of land should be included in all of these calculations.

2. Transmission lines?
Assuming the renewables generation is far from cities, where will the transmission lines be built to bring the power to the cities? How will NIMBY issues be solved? How will potential veto power be bought out here? Or will engineers make a breakthrough such that power can be “emailed” without transmission capacity?

3. Comparative Energy Costs?
How much induced innovation will be needed to make the green energy production technologies cheaper than natural gas in the year 2050? So, we need an estimate of dynamic innovation in the dirty sector vs. the clean sector (see the recent work of Daron Acemoglu and co-authors on the “great race”).

4. Flexible power demand?
What will be aggregate electricity demand in 2050? How many consumers in the residential, industrial, commercial sectors will be signed up for dynamic pricing? How elastic will their demands be for power such that if the price of power rises will they in aggregate reduce their consumption by 2% or by 34% This plays a key role in determining the feasibility of the green grid! If demand is highly responsive to higher prices then the green grid is much more viable! So, now we are back to fundamental issues of the microeconomic determinants of the aggregate demand for electricity.

5. Electric vehicles demand?
Building on #4; what will be the aggregate demand of the transportation sector for energy and electricity in 2050? What % of the fleet will be EVs and how many miles will they drive and how many miles per kwh will they achieve? Some of these are micro-economic questions!

6. Air Conditioning Demand?
Building on #4, what will be aggregate demand for air conditioning during hot summers? What thermostat level will businesses and households cool to? How efficient will air conditioners be then (see the 1999 QJE by Newell, Jaffee and Stavins on induced innovation; see point #3 above).

7. Resistence from Vested Interests?
I appreciate that the engineers want to debate what is feasible but this overlooks important implementation issues that may raise the cost of introducing their valuable ideas. For example,
which interest groups would seek to veto the Stanford “vision”? Coal miners will not favor Jacobson’s equilibrium. If Progressives need to buy out West Virginian Senator support for coal, this cost should be added to the full cost of the green economy. Is it included? I doubt it.

“Pie In The Sky”

From the day of your birth
It’s bread and water here on earth
To a child of light, to a child of light

But there’ll be pie in the sky
By and by when I die
And it’ll be alright, it’ll be alright

 

 

 

Updated: EPA Swamp Life (Climategaters)

Update June 21, 2017

A leaked EPA memo (standard journalism these days) reveals that more members of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) will not be renewed in their contracts and roles.

The new wave of dismissals brings the total number of BOSC members who will be out of a job in August to 47, which will leave just 11 members serving on the BOSC and its five subcommittees. None of the subcommittees will have a chair or vice chair, and all committee meetings scheduled for late summer and fall have been cancelled.

“Pruitt has pulled off a devious process here: he’s signaled that he intends to dismiss experienced advisors whose terms are expiring over the next year — and he’s using the fact that he’s dismissing them to immediately block them from doing any more work,” UCS’s Kimmell said.

Sign to be posted soon at the EPA

Background

An update on the power struggle inside the EPA is provided by Ronald Bailey’s May. 9, 2017 article EPA Bureaucracy Strikes Back: The Case of the Board of Scientific Counselors  How will the struggle between the permanent bureaucracy and the EPA’s new leadership play out?  Excerpts below.

The efforts of the permanent bureaucracy at the Environmental Protection Agency to hand the the new political leadership a fait accompli regarding the membership of that agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) brought to mind the antics of Yes, Minister. The civil servants at the EPA had apparently assured the members of the BOSC whose three-year terms were ending that they could stay on for another term just as the Obama administration was winding down in January. Since the terms for more than half of the BOSC’s members ran out in late April, the agency bureaucrats essentially went to the new EPA leadership with the old list of Obama administration appointees at the last minute and said, “Sign this.”

The new team appointed by Trump declined to do so. Scorned bureaucrats then leaked the decision to the media shaping the narrative as a Trumpian anti-science “firing” of brave truth-tellers. The Washington Post and the New York Times duly reported just that story. But is it so? “We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire told the Post. “This approach is what was always intended for the board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

Rifling through the Federal Advisory Committee Act database, I find that the terms of 12 members of the BOSC officially expired on April 27, 2017. Another ended in March. Composed of outside researchers, the 18-member BOSC is supposed to provide objective and independent counsel to the agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). The committee aids the ORD on research and development with the aim of identifying, understanding, and solving current and future environmental problems; by reviewing ORD’s technical support to EPA’s program and regional offices; by providing leadership in assisting ORD in identifying emerging environmental issues; and by helping to advance the science and technology of risk assessment and risk management.

BOSC members are must be nationally recognized experts in science or engineering. The board should be balanced in disciplines, diversity, and geographic distribution area and include representatives from academia, government, industry, environmental consulting firms, and environmental associations.

As the Membership Balance Plan notes the list of nominees is reviewed by “different levels of EPA managers” before formal letters of invitation are sent out. The Plan notes that “members are usually appointed for a three-year term. Generally, members may be reappointed for a total of 6 years.”

In this case, the EPA bureaucrats in charge of finding and vetting nominees for the BOSC were evidently satisfied with the members who had been appointed during the Obama administration. Spot checking the BOSC’s history, it does appear that in recent years, committee members have generally served two 3-year terms.

EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire released this statement: “Advisory panels like BOSC play a critical role reviewing the agency’s work. EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees – including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel – and carry out a competitive nomination process.” The EPA plans solicit nominees through the Federal Register and to select new board members quickly. (I reached out to the agency to clear up which and how many BOSC members are not being re-appointed. I have not heard back yet.)

So which members are not being re-appointed? The news reports say that the appointments of up to 9 members are not being renewed. According to the database these 13 members terms are over.

Viney Aneja – North Carolina State University professor of air quality

Shahid Chaudhry – California Energy Commission mechanical engineer

Susan Cozzens – Georgia Tech Sociologist of science

Courtney Flint – Utah State University Natural Resource Sociologist

Earthea Nance – Texas Southern University Civil & Environmental Engineering

Paula Olsiewski – Sloan Foundation Biochemist

Kenneth Reckhow – Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at Duke University

Robert Richardson – Michiagan State University Ecological Economist

Sandra Smith – Principal Toxicologist AECOM Consultancy

Gina Solomon – California EPA (Former senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council)

Ponisseril Somasundaran- Columbia University Professor of Mineral Engineering

John Thakaran – Howard University Biochemical engineering

Tammy Taylor – Chief Operating Officer of the National Security Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The terms of three other members will expire this summer.

Lisa Dilling – University of Colorado biologist

Diane Pataki – University of Utah ecologist

Joseph Rodricks – Principal Arlington of Environ International Corporation toxicologist

Predictably, activists are outraged. “This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda,” said Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists to the Times. Clearly to Kimmel’s mind, science could never support deregulation or declining to regulate.

Cleaning BOSC is only scratching the surface

In addition to these few entitled scientists, there are a raft of others filling the SAB (Scientific Advisory Board) which of course has numerous committees, including the notorious CASAC (Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee).  A look at the EPA website shows another 47 scientists working on the taxpayers’ dime. Apparently there are briefings where both BOSC and SAB members participate. The article above does not talk about conflicts of interest, but the EPA has been frequently criticized about the activities of SAB and CASAC.

Senator James A. Inhofe, Chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee wrote this in a formal letter to the Obama EPA Director last year:

The new CASAC panel further illustrates EPA’s disregard for policies requiring EPA shift membership on CASAC. Specifically, EPA’s Peer Review Handbook advises membership rotation on standing committees, such as CASAC, “to obtain fresh perspectives and reinforce the reality and perception of independence from the Ageney.”I3 However, the chartered CASAC includes four of seven members that have already served on CASAC.14 Among the three who have not served on the chartered CASAC, two have served on CASAC subcommittees15 while the other one has served on EPA’s Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis (Council)16 which is also designed to advise the Administrator on the impacts of the Clean Air Act on the public health, economy, and environment of the U.S.I7 Given the number of well-qualified nominees and thousands of scientific experts across the country, it is deeply concerning EPA continues to select the same people. This practice runs counter to EPA policy and unnecessarily blocks other experts from serving as advisors.

The majority of CASAC members have also received considerable financial support from EPA, which calls into question their independence and therefore the integrity of the overall panel. While EPA has taken the position that receipt of grants do not constitute a financial conflict of interest, the NAS and EPA’s own Peer-Review Handbook state that grants can constitute a conflict or lack of impartiality.I8 For the newly appointed panel this conflict is on full display–six of the seven members have received a total of $119,217,008 in EPA research grants.

Much to my dismay, three of the seven members have received in excess of $25 million each. This is not limited to the chartered CASAC as 22 of the 26 newly appointed members to the CASAC subcommittee on particulate matter have received more than $330 million in EPA grants. These vast sums of money certainly constitute a conflict of interest and at a minimum give the appearance of a lack of impartiality.

Another investigative journalist added:

Among the members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), CASAC and subcommittees, 60 percent of them have received research grants from the EPA costing taxpayers more than $140 million. Many are involved in research, funded by those grants, while they are serving on their committees in a role advising the EPA on clean air policy.

CASAC’s chairman, Chris Frey, is also a representative on the SAB. While serving on SAB, the EPA extended his $893,439 grant to study the heath effects of air pollution and approved about $2.9 million in grants to North Carolina State University, where he teaches as a professor of environmental engineering.

All eight members on the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) have extended, been recipients of or are overseeing more than $19 million in agency grants earmarked to the institutions they work for or directly to themselves, procurement records show. Outside science advisers collect EPA grants while guiding agency 


Entitled scientific bureaucrats rise up to defend their nest.

Footnote 1:

In Ottawa, the problem is somewhat different. There we have an infestation of bureaucrabs. The term refers to a creature that appears to be making progress, but on closer inspection is moving sideways.

There is also a rumor that increasingly in Ottawa lawyers are being used for scientific experiments instead of rats.  There appear to be three reasons for this:

  1.  There are more lawyers than rats in Ottawa.
  2. People sometimes get emotionally attached to a rat.
  3. There are some things the rats won’t do.

Footnote 2:

For a scientific analysis of how government works, we have a paper reprinted below:

New chemical Element Discovered

The new element is Governmentium (Gv). It has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312, the heaviest of all. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lefton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 3-6 years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. All of the money is consumed in the exchange, and no other byproducts are produced. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. Usually it can be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

Credit: William DeBuvitz, http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/administ.htm

Footnote 3:

The article above mentioned Yes Minister classic British tv series, but readers may not be aware that the last season of the show, Yes Prime Minister ended with an hilarious send up of the global warming scare. BBC blocks the video outside of UK, but the best parts of the transcript are at Climate Alarms LOL

Pledging Climate Fidelity

Climate change/global warmers believers are swearing oaths and taking pledges to show fidelity to the UN IPCC and Paris accord.  The ceremony goes by the name We Are Still In.  Adherents sign this document:

Open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement from U.S. state, local, and business leaders (Full text here)

The creed asserts the following:

Fighting climate change brings significant economic and public health benefits, but
No mention of trillions of someone’s dollars to be spent
Ignores research showing warming saves lives.

Paris accord will avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change, but
If all nations comply, it could mean only 0.2C less warming by 2100.

The U.S. will remain a global leader in reducing emissions, but
Presumes killing the economy as in last recession
Fails to credit fracking revolution
Exported energy emissions are charged to others.

The global effort will hold warming to well below 2℃, but
Up to 2℃ is net beneficial
Achieving NDCs, especially China’s and India’s won’t bend the curve.

The transition to a clean energy economy will accelerate, but
Renewables are not low-carbon, are costly and unreliable.

The following statement was released today by the presidents of 12 major U.S. research universities, commonly referred to as the “Ivy-Plus” group. (Full text here)

Affirmation of leading research universities’ commitment to progress on climate change 

The climate is changing largely due to human activity, but
No one has yet proven how much warming humans cause.

The imperative of a low carbon future is increasingly urgent, but
All metrics show climate variations are within normal ranges.

The consequences of climate change are accelerating, but
Statistical measures of changes to natural conditions are not accelerating.

Research will advance evidence-based understanding of the causes and effects of climate change on the environment, the economy and public health, and develop solutions, but
Presently our knowledge of the climate system does not allow us to predict its behavior.

Summary

The last point is the only difference between the “Wearestillin” crowd and the “Ivy-Plus”.  The latter leaves the door open to actually study how the climate changes naturally, that is, to gain knowledge how internal natural processes cause multi-decadal effects upon temperature and precipitation.  So far the IPCC has willfully stayed ignorant of that need to know.

 

Reuters Misleads on Investor Support for AGW

Reuters published today 2017 tables listing sovereign investors in two categories: Leaders and Laggards. I noticed that the laggard table included the assets size of funds, while the leader table did not. So I went to the report itself by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) which is leading the effort to blame and shame investors away from fossil fuel companies.

There you find in fact they apply five categories according to how enthusiastically a fund complies with climate change doctrine.  From the AODP Report:

The AODP Global Climate 500 Index rates the world’s 500 biggest asset owners – pension funds, insurers, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and endowments – on their success at managing climate risk within their portfolios, based on direct disclosures and publicly available information.

This year also sees the launch of the first AODP Global Climate Index for Asset Managers, rating the world’s 50 largest asset managers on their success at managing the financial risks of climate change for their clients.

It follows the same methodology. Asset owners and managers are scored on three key capabilities which align with the four key areas highlighted by the FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures: Governance & Strategy, Portfolio Carbon Risk Management and Metrics & Targets. They are graded from AAA to D while those with no evidence of action are rated X.

GOVERNANCE & STRATEGY – Organisation structure and approach it uses to oversee climate risk objectives. – Degree of integration of climate risk principles in the organisation’s policies and processes

PORTFOLIO RISK MANAGEMENT – Variety and effectiveness of tools and approaches used to evaluate and manage climate change related financial risks and opportunities. This includes engagement, voting practices, and portfolio management tools.

METRICS & TARGETS – Key metrics used to measure, monitor and compare portfolio climate risk management performance, including the value asset owners have invested in low carbon assets.

The AODP Report applies a lot of lipstick to the numbers in the interest of boosterism for their project and their cause. But a different story is evident from the numbers, according to their own analysis. For example, here are the 2017 results for the world’s top 500 Asset Owners (AUM=Assets Under Management)

2017 Asset Owners by Rating # Asset
Owners
    AUM
US$ Billion
% AUM
Leaders Top 7% 34 $4,163 10%
Challengers 7% – 14% 34 $3,103 8%
Learners 14% – 22% 44 $3,395 9%
Bystanders 22% – 60% 187 $16,556 42%
Laggards, Zero X Bottom 40% 201 $12,508 31%
Total 500 $39,725 100%

Unreported anywhere is the fact 73% of the wealth in these funds is in the bottom two compliance categories.  In fact the laggard funds are six times as numerous and have 3 times the assets of the leaders.  Below is the table of 2017 results for the top 50 Asset Managers (Firms investing on behalf of clients).

2017 Asset Managers by Rating # Asset
Managers
AUM US$ Billion % AUM
Leaders Top 4% 2 $1,582 4%
Challengers 4-20% 8 $4,649 11%
Learners 20-46% 13 $13,451 31%
Bystanders 46-94% 24 $20,557 47%
Laggards, Zero X Bottom 6% 3 $3,199 7%
Total 50 $43,437 100%

The report on the top 50 Asset Managers shows them more responsive to social pressure. This was also evident in the recent Exxon shareholder climate resolution where two large asset managers made the difference. Even so, more than half of the firms and half of the assets got the bottom two ratings.

Conclusion

Despite some progress in converting capital managers to seek climate virtue rather than capital gains, most of the wealth is still focused on investment return.

Background on the climate financial strategy and Exxon is at How Climate Law Depends on Paris

ROI = Creating Value

Climate Geopolitics

A recent interview by Drieu Godefridi was translated and full text provided by Friends of Science under the title Outcome of the Paris Accord: a re-founding act of American democracy?

This post shares Dr. Godefridi’s views of the geopolitical frame built upon the climate change issue shifting due to US withdrawal from the Paris accord. Later on are excerpts from an article by Jon Huntsman sketching a future world shaped by global trade rather than global government.

Modern Condition of Globalization

We live in a reality that we know that has become strongly globalized economically. There has been much less attention to the other globalization that has taken place before our eyes, that of an extremely dense network of international organizations and institutions that has increasingly been given the power to create standards by right.

The difficulty is that these global organizations are not subject to the same democratic requirements – election and accountability – as well as separation of powers, as are our democratic national institutions. We have denounced so much the “democratic deficit” of the European institutions! Indeed, it is wrong that the faceless and very ideological judges – here I point at the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU – decide on the future of Europe in such major areas as immigration or terrorism. They do so, completely apart from the wishes of European citizenry.

But this deficit is nothing compared to that of the other international organizations, which generally have only a vague idea of democracy (and often appoint despots to human rights commissions, for instance)! One notes here, above all, the United Nations, whose umbrella organization in the field of climate, the UNFCCC, is just one manifestation.

What we have been seeing for the past two decades, in the areas of climate, gender theory, immigration and terrorism, and so on, is that activist minority ideologues have confiscated democratic debate. By acting at the international level, they have an enormous advantage. As soon as such an unaccountable international body has seized a cause, its standards prevail over national parliaments!

When gender theory was enshrined in its most radical version in 2011 by a Council of Europe Convention, it became virtually impossible to dislodge it. When, in cases such as HIRSI (2012), the European Courts devoted the “no border” ideology, it became almost impossible for the national ministers who wished to defend their own borders to do so. Examples that come to mind are Francken in Belgium, his British and Austrian counterpart, or the countries of the Visegrád group – a handful able to oppose it effectively.

But it is in the domain of climate that this confiscation of democratic debate is the most masterful, reaching a kind of virtuosity. Why? By the effect of science! The theory of gender is meant to be scientific, but it does not deceive anyone: it is an ideology, assumed as such by authors like Judith Butler. The ideology of the “no border” is moral, it does not claim to be scientific.

Climate is something else! Every time since its birth in the fold of the IPCC, the ideology of the climate has claimed science as its foundational authority – and science in its most precise version! Physics! The politicized IPCC has never stopped claiming it is presenting science since. So, it is this second globalization, a prelude to a world government that is openly called for by the elites of internationalist socialism, which is threatened today by the American exit of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Accord

The Paris Accord marks the apotheosis, not of “globalism,” but of a particular version of globalism, which one should rather qualify as socialist. Indeed, let us recall the actual content of the Paris Agreement! What does it foresee? Essentially, two things: the drastic reduction of CO2 emissions in the West, right away, with the possibility for states such as China – the world’s largest CO2 emitter – to continue to increase emissions to 2030, with no requirement whatsoever to reduce emissions. The second essential component of “Paris” is the Green Fund, which provides for the transfer of $ 100 billion a year from the West to the rest of the world. “Paris” is therefore, first and foremost, the triumph of what was called “support for the Third World” in the 70s and 80s, that is to say, a massive and permanent transfer of wealth from the West to the rest of the world.

“Paris” is doubly globalist: first, because the transfer of wealth will be done through a clever network of international institutions, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Fund — an institution, with a secretariat, directors, exotic meeting places, etc. —and all the intermediate institutions created by the Paris Agreement.

Secondly, “Paris” is driven by “morality” with the IPCC itself employing the services of moral philosophers to help them make their political case. The founding moral intuition which presides over the Paris Agreement is internationalist socialism. International socialism has always considered that the differential of wealth that benefits the West results from the pillage of the rest of the planet. This is described in terms of imperialism, colonization, exploitation of weaker partners. In that world view, the only “just” solution (aka “climate justice”) to this is the immediate and unconditional transfer of a substantial portion of these wealth to the rest of the world. Thus, the Paris Accord discloses itself clearly as a matter of globalism, but of a very particular vision of it – internationalist socialism.

The founding thesis of universalist socialism is that the wealth of the West is born of the plunder of the rest of the world. This is obviously false, and this has been demonstrated time and time again. The West owes its surplus of wealth to the preference given over five centuries to a particular economic system, capitalism! [1] The West has rejected the alternatives, socialism or subsistence. Moreover, the falsehood about the capitalist West as simple global robber barons is so well entrenched in leftist/socialist/globalists that even the concessions and foreign aid made to date by the West on are never enough to satisfy the transfer of wealth desired by the Third Worldists.

With the Paris Accord, which is not born from nothing, we enter a completely different dimension. This time, it is no longer morality, generosity or compassion (i.e. disaster relief) that requires the transfer of the wealth of the West. It’s science! It is the idea that because the Western industrial world has polluted the world for so many years should mean that the West must transfer its wealth to the rest of the world, which can continue to pollute. Further, this guilt money must be paid into the Green Fund which puts unaccountable, unelected green groups and green rent-seekers an opportunity to exploit this ultimate global subsidy for renewable-intermittent energies! Admire the finesse of the process: it employs the very strength of the West — capitalism — to show that the West has sinned. How naive and amateur are the Third Worldists of the past, with their moral arguments, faced with the omnipotence of the scientific argument!

However, you likely will have noticed, like me, that the climate debate does not deserve to be described as scientific in any way, anymore. What is the matrix of climate science? That is the IPCC, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As early as 2010, I demonstrated in the book “Le GIEC est mort, vive la science”/ “The IPCC: A Scientific Body?” that by its composition, competences and functioning, the IPCC is a totally political organization, and not a scientific one as it claims. I do not have the competence to pronounce on the science of climate as such, nor do I need it: for it is easy to understand that a political organization can only produce political reports. The current “science” of climate is that of a scholar steeped in science… and politics – with a dominant political gene.

The Future of Paris Accord

In my humble opinion, two things will happen: first, “Paris” is dead. We are going to witness a form of hysterical “debate” in Europe. It is clear that France, Belgium and Germany will compete as to who is more virtuous, climate-wise, and that they are supported by the gigantic economic sector of the $1.5 trillion/year sector of “Big Climate” – that of industries and investors in Renewable-intermittent energies, and by high finance helped by ‘green’ groups, which would have had control over the massive transfers of the Green Fund. Of course, economically, the European position is not tenable. The Paris Accord would have been the bank heist of the millennium had Americans complied, is not possible with only the funds of European states such as France, Belgium or the countries of the Southern Europe. These are completely drained financially. These countries are over-indebted, have historically unprecedented levels of taxation, they owe a large amount of money to NATO, how could they finance the Green Fund? Through the EU climate policies, they are increasing the price of their energy every day while the rest of the world – beginning with the Americans – will now lower the price of theirs? Simply stating it this way exposes the lack of serious intent.

As for the science of climate, we are going to experience interesting developments. For example, the head of the American environmental agency, Scott Pruitt, announced the setting up of working groups to disentangle the Science from the Ideology in climate science.

What Future for the Global Economy

The Future of Global Trade: Jon Huntsman on the Radical Change Ahead was published at Wall Street Journal

Thirty years from now, world trade will be in the midst of another radical transformation—one no less critical to America’s 21st century leadership or to the expansion of global growth prospects.

For millennia, international commerce has focused on the exchange of physical goods (including people when there was slavery). More recently, services have become an ever-increasing component of advanced economies and world trade. This trend will continue and bring with it greater complexity for those setting the rules and negotiating the deals.

In general, manufacturing will be more localized; services, especially health and retail, more personalized; today’s ubiquitous shipping containers will be replaced by 3-D and 4-D printers, and the designs for making physical goods locally will move at the speed of light over airwaves just as financial flows do today. As urban farming gets going, food will be produced closer to the market, cutting transportation costs and reducing trade in agriculture.

Urbanization will produce a shift in populations and create more global centers of excellence for innovation. Whereas today we have a handful, 30 years from now there will be dozens of cities that serve as hubs of global trade in ideas. This proliferation of empowered megacities and centers of creative innovation will challenge geographic borders, making it hard for capitals to call the shots.

Trade flows will reflect the realities of global power as well as demographics. The Pacific will no longer be the dominant trade hub. Instead, the focus will shift to the Indian Ocean region, which upward of eight billion people—mainly in China, India and Africa—will call home. The U.S. may not be in a position to influence trade the way it did. For the past 200 years, Britain, after the Industrial Revolution, and the U.S. after the two world wars, fought for an open trading system to promote growth. None of the emerging countries have thus far shown that same commitment, even though they—particularly China—are increasingly setting the pace in world trade. China eclipsed the U.S. as the biggest trading country in 2013.

While mostly positive, the transformation of global trade will also create challenges. For one, how will a country attract and retain the world’s best and brightest talent? There will be no guarantee that people will stay if your country isn’t moving toward competitive best practices.

Combined with other future trends, our prospects are bright. There is good news for the environment. . . People will also live longer. There will be less disease. Consumers will benefit enormously from the changes in world trade that will deliver, among other things, personalized medicine and greater access to life-changing science and pharmaceuticals. Choices will be expanded, distances shortened, and manufacturing will be cheaper and tailored to specific needs.

Summary

What a contrast between the doomsayers lamenting the collapse of global climatism and the visionaries seeing the world developing through free and mutually beneficial trade.

Drieu Godefridi born in 1972 is a liberal Belgian writer, founder of the Hayek Institute in Brussels. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Paris Sorbonne.

Jon Huntsman, chairman of the Atlantic Council, has served as governor of Utah, U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore, and deputy U.S. trade representative.

 

How Science Is Losing Its Humanity

 

The Closing of the Scientific Mind is a plea for scientists to celebrate and enhance humanity rather than belittle human life.  Author David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale. His book Subjectivism: The Mind from Inside will be published by Norton later this year.  Excerpts below.

The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious, humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics. But science used to know enough to approach cautiously and admire from outside, and to build its own work on a deep belief in human dignity. No longer.

Belittling Humanity.

Today science and the “philosophy of mind”—its thoughtful assistant, which is sometimes smarter than the boss—are threatening Western culture with the exact opposite of humanism. Call it roboticism. Man is the measure of all things, Protagoras said. Today we add, and computers are the measure of all men.

Many scientists are proud of having booted man off his throne at the center of the universe and reduced him to just one more creature—an especially annoying one—in the great intergalactic zoo. That is their right. But when scientists use this locker-room braggadocio to belittle the human viewpoint, to belittle human life and values and virtues and civilization and moral, spiritual, and religious discoveries, which is all we human beings possess or ever will, they have outrun their own empiricism. They are abusing their cultural standing. Science has become an international bully.

The Closing of the Scientific Mind.

That science should face crises in the early 21st century is inevitable. Power corrupts, and science today is the Catholic Church around the start of the 16th century: used to having its own way and dealing with heretics by excommunication, not argument.

Science is caught up, also, in the same educational breakdown that has brought so many other proud fields low. Science needs reasoned argument and constant skepticism and open-mindedness. But our leading universities have dedicated themselves to stamping them out—at least in all political areas. We routinely provide superb technical educations in science, mathematics, and technology to brilliant undergraduates and doctoral students. But if those same students have been taught since kindergarten that you are not permitted to question the doctrine of man-made global warming, or the line that men and women are interchangeable, or the multiculturalist idea that all cultures and nations are equally good (except for Western nations and cultures, which are worse), how will they ever become reasonable, skeptical scientists? They’ve been reared on the idea that questioning official doctrine is wrong, gauche, just unacceptable in polite society. (And if you are president of Harvard, it can get you fired.)

Beset by all this mold and fungus and corruption, science has continued to produce deep and brilliant work. Most scientists are skeptical about their own fields and hold their colleagues to rigorous standards. Recent years have seen remarkable advances in experimental and applied physics, planetary exploration and astronomy, genetics, physiology, synthetic materials, computing, and all sorts of other areas.

But we do have problems, and the struggle of subjective humanism against roboticism is one of the most important.

The moral claims urged on man by Judeo-Christian principles and his other religious and philosophical traditions have nothing to do with Earth’s being the center of the solar system or having been created in six days, or with the real or imagined absence of rational life elsewhere in the universe. The best and deepest moral laws we know tell us to revere human life and, above all, to be human: to treat all creatures, our fellow humans and the world at large, humanely. To behave like a human being (Yiddish: mensch) is to realize our best selves.

No other creature has a best self.

This is the real danger of anti-subjectivism, in an age where the collapse of religious education among Western elites has already made a whole generation morally wobbly. When scientists casually toss our human-centered worldview in the trash with the used coffee cups, they are re-smashing the sacred tablets, not in blind rage as Moses did, but in casual, ignorant indifference to the fate of mankind.

A world that is intimidated by science and bored sick with cynical, empty “postmodernism” desperately needs a new subjectivist, humanist, individualist worldview. We need science and scholarship and art and spiritual life to be fully human. The last three are withering, and almost no one understands the first.

At first, roboticism was just an intellectual school. Today it is a social disease. Some young people want to be robots (I’m serious); they eagerly await electronic chips to be implanted in their brains so they will be smarter and better informed than anyone else (except for all their friends who have had the same chips implanted). Or they want to see the world through computer glasses that superimpose messages on poor naked nature. They are terrorist hostages in love with the terrorists.

All our striving for what is good and just and beautiful and sacred, for what gives meaning to human life and makes us (as Scripture says) “just a little lower than the angels,” and a little better than rats and cats, is invisible to the roboticist worldview. In the roboticist future, we will become what we believe ourselves to be: dogs with iPhones. The world needs a new subjectivist humanism now—not just scattered protests but a growing movement, a cry from the heart.

Footnote:  A related post provides additional background:  Head, Heart and Science

Ideological Faultlines

 

Some interesting comments came in response to a recent post (Inside the Snowflake Academy) on postmodern attitudes regarding science and truth. Geoff Chambers gave some perspectives on European socialism. Caleb provided an interesting analogy to China’s cultural revolution and aftermath. Caleb:

The Evergreen craziness reminds me a lot of China’s “Cultural Revolution.” The Chinese teachers failed to understand that they themselves would be the target, if they taught students to reject “tradition”, for all the knowledge of the past can be seen as a “tradition”, and that makes teachers and textbooks “counter revolutionary.” In the end the madness resulted in not one teacher being made into a scapegoat, but nearly every teacher China had. China was reduced to a state of ignorance and poverty, and the only way back was to copy the west. They “stole our secrets”, but the joke is that most of what they copied was never a secret. It simply was Truth, which they had deemed “counter revolutionary.”

That use of the term “tradition” prompts this post inspired by another insightful article, Evergreen State and the Battle for Modernity By Michael Aaron. After providing samples of the conflict playing out at Evergreen State College, Aaron puts the event in context in the excerpts below.

It is this dichotomy between postmodern and modern that is the most important takeaway from this entire affair. In many ways, the old left/right dichotomy no longer applies. Instead we are faced with a three-part distinction between postmodern/modern/traditional. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, and discuss why they are particularly important today.

Starting with the most right-leaning, the traditionalists. These folks do not like the direction in which modernity is headed, and so are looking to go back to an earlier time when they believe society was better. They may disagree with same-sex marriage, label sexual promiscuity as “deviance,” and feel threatened by racial and demographic changes in Western society. These folks include typical status-quo conservatives, Evangelical Christians as well as more nefarious types such as white nationalists and the “alt right”. Even though there is much furor in the media about the threat that these groups represent, I would argue that they have largely been pushed to the fringes in terms of their social influence, not withstanding the election of Trump who was actually opposed by many traditionalists such as the Never Trumpers.

Indeed, it is between the modernists and postmodernists where the future of society is being fought. Modernists are those who believe in human progress within a classical Western tradition. They believe that the world can continuously be improved through science, technology, and rationality. Unlike traditionalists, they seek progress rather than reversal, but what they share in common is an interest in preserving the basic structures of Western society. Most modernists could be classified as centrists (either left or right-leaning), classical liberals and libertarians.

Postmodernists, on the other hand, eschew any notion of objectivity, perceiving knowledge as a construct of power differentials rather than anything that could possibly be mutually agreed upon. Informed by such thinkers as Foucault and Derrida, science therefore becomes an instrument of Western oppression; indeed, all discourse is a power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. In this scheme, there is no Western civilization to preserve—as the more powerful force in the world, it automatically takes on the role of oppressor and therefore any form of equity must consequently then involve the overthrow of Western “hegemony.” These folks form the current Far Left, including those who would be described as communists, socialists, anarchists, Antifa, as well as social justice warriors (SJWs). These are all very different groups, but they all share a postmodernist ethos.

All of this matters because, whether people are overtly aware of it or not, their beliefs and actions are implicitly guided by one of these three world-views. A person may have never attended an Ivy League gender studies class, but if they belong to and agree with the ideas of a typical urban, liberal, hipster milieu, they are very likely subscribing to a postmodernist ideology, even if they’ve never cracked open Lyotard. (my bold)

Much of the confusion between liberal and centrist groups comes down to this modern/postmodernist distinction. As another example, since modernists believe in science and its utility, they are aware that obese individuals are at higher health risks. For postmodernists, however, the concept of health is just another oppressive force of Western colonial hegemony (since objective truth doesn’t exist and is merely manufactured as a tool of oppression), and so an entire cadre of “fat” activists mobilize themselves on social media, emboldened with postmodern concepts. Modernists recognize that nobody should be shamed or discriminated against for their appearance and believe that everyone has the right to make their own lifestyle choices, but are also concerned that distributing scientifically inaccurate information about health poses considerable risk to those who might believe it.

In the end, the Weinstein/Evergreen State affair poses a significant crossroads to modern society, extending well beyond the conflict occurring on campus. Evergreen State represents the natural culmination of postmodern thought—roving mobs attempting to silence dissenting thought merely based on race, informed by far left theories that weaponize a victim status drawn solely from immutable, innate traits. Unfortunately, I cannot place full blame on the students either, as they have been indoctrinated with these ideas on the very campus that is now serving as the petri dish for applied postmodernism. (my bold)

It is no coincidence that, while society outside the walls of campus looks on with disbelief, administrators to this point have been siding with the students. For if they were to repudiate the actions of the students, they would also need to repudiate the ideology with which they have been brainwashing them. In other words, taking a stand against the students would require administrators and professors to re-evaluate the meaning and value of the entire raison d’etre of their adult professional careers. Holding on to madness is a way of forestalling dealing with the grief that comes with the realization that one’s higher purpose has been a fraud. I am not sure of the final outcome, as this kind of process is long, difficult, and very, very painful. (my bold)

But this internal struggle serves as a microcosm for the larger battle occurring in society between the ideas behind modernism and postmodernism. And the stakes are extremely high. As Weinstein articulated in his Rogan appearance, “Let’s put it this way, I believe at the moment coalitions are unholy alliances between two things. In this case you have the real equity movement, which are people who wish to end oppression, and then you have another movement that wishes to reverse oppression, and they don’t know that they are different because until you reach equity, they are pointing in the same direction.” For the sake of basic humanity and decency, let’s all hope that the Evergreen State affair has finally exposed this vital distinction.

Summary

I appreciate that Aaron acknowledges the third faction of traditionalists that have been shunted to the sidelines. I think he is missing the fact that recently the “silent majority” is finding its voice: Many of them supported Trump (way more than were Never Trumpers, who were mostly apparatchiks); and it was trads voting for Le Pen in France, and making the difference in the Brexit vote. Now that it is no longer taboo to speak of Islamic terrorism, trads will feel even more emboldened.

Aaron is correct that among intellectuals, the battle is between moderns and postmoderns, but I think he needs to look beyond the ivory tower.

Footnote: More on academic ideology from Nicholas Kristoff NYT (here):

In a column a few weeks ago, I offered a “confession of liberal intolerance,” criticizing my fellow progressives for promoting all kinds of diversity on campuses — except ideological. I argued that universities risk becoming liberal echo chambers and hostile environments for conservatives, and especially for evangelical Christians.

As I see it, we are hypocritical: We welcome people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

Inside the Snowflake Academy

 

 

Snowflakes: Overly sensitive persons, incapable of dealing with any opinions differing from their own. Snowflakes are light-weight and suffer meltdown when exposed to the light or heat of complex ideas in conflict. They can often be seen congregating in “safe zones” on college campuses.

A previous post (Retreat from Reason) provided a look into the mentality of today’s college professors teaching humanities and social sciences. The dominant mindset is termed “postmodern” to distinguish this perspective from the “modern” viewpoint born of the age of reason or enlightenment.

That text came from Professor Jordan Peterson who recommended reading a book by Stephen Hicks called Explaining Postmodernism. This post provides some descriptions (lightly edited) from Hicks regarding the education of today’s students and the liberal arts attitude toward science.

Hicks presents two hypotheses regarding the world-view embraced by postmoderns, which they pass on to their students.

Hypothesis 1: Postmodernism is the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason, those consequences being necessary given the study of knowledge since Kant.

Thomas Kuhn published in 1962 his landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, signifying the result of four decades of analytic philosophy and the dead end it had reached. If science’s tools are perception, logic, and language, then science, one of the Enlightenment’s prized children, is merely an evolving, socially objective enterprise with no more claim to objectivity than any other belief system. The idea that science speaks of reality or truth is an illusion. There is no Truth; there are only truths, and truths change.

Consequently, by the 1960s, the pro-objectivity, pro-science spirit had collapsed in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition.

Hypothesis 2: Postmodernism is the academic far Left’s stance in response to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in theory and practice.

Postmodern thinkers inherit an intellectual tradition that has seen the defeat of all of its major hopes.

While the neo-Enlightenment thinkers have come to terms with the modern world, from the postmodern perspective the universe has been intellectually shattered. We can not turn to God or to nature, and we cannot trust reason or mankind.

The failure of Left politics to achieve the vision of a beautiful collectivist society was merely the last straw. To the postmodern mind, the cruel lessons of the modern world are that reality is inaccessible, that nothing can be known, that human potential is nothing, and that ethical and political ideals have come to nothing. The psychological response to the loss of everything is anger and despair.

But the postmodern thinkers also find themselves surrounded by an Enlightenment world that does not understand. Postmoderns confront a world dominated by liberalism and capitalism, by science and technology, by people who still believe in reality, in reason, and in the greatness of human potential. The world that they said was impossible and destructive has both come to be and is flourishing. The heirs of the Enlightenment are running the world, and they have marginalized the post-modernists to the academy. Resentment is then added on top of anger and despair.

The Enlightenment world is proud, confident, and knows it is the wave of the future. This is unbearable to someone invested totally in an opposed and failed outlook. That pride is what such a person wants to destroy. The best target to attack is the Enlightenment’s sense of its own moral worth. Attack it as sexist and racist, intolerantly dogmatic, and cruelly exploitative. Undermine its confidence in its reason, its science and technology. The words do not even have to be true or consistent to do the necessary damage.

The College as Snowflake Academy

In education, postmodernism rejects the notion that the purpose of education is primarily to train a child’s cognitive capacity for reason in order to produce an adult capable of functioning independently in the world. That view of education is replaced with the view that education is to take an essentially indeterminate being and give it social identity. Education’s method of molding is linguistic, and so the language to be used is that which will create a human being sensitive to its racial, sexual, and class identity.

Our current social context, however, is characterized by oppression that benefits whites, males, and the rich at the expense of everyone else. That oppression in turn leads to an educational system that reflects only or primarily the interests of those in positions of power. To counteract that bias, educational practice must be recast totally. Postmodern education should emphasize works not in the canon; it should focus on the achievements of non-whites, females, and the poor; it should highlight the historical crimes of whites, males, and the rich; and it should teach students that science’s method has no better claim to yielding truth than any other method and, accordingly, that students should be equally receptive to alternative ways of knowing.

Moderns thought science and technology are good for all, extending our knowledge of the universe and making the world healthier, cleaner, and more productive. Postmoderns say science betrays its elitism, sexism and destructiveness by making the speed of light the fastest phenomenon, thereby unfairly privileging it over other speeds–by having chosen the phallic symbol i to represent the square root of negative one–by asserting its desire to “conquer” nature and “penetrate” her secrets–and, having done so, by having its technology consummate the rape by building bigger and longer missiles to blow things up.

And previously it had been generally thought liberalism, free markets, technology, and cosmopolitanism are social achievements that can be enjoyed by all cultures. On the contrary, Postmoderns think non-Western cultures are superior, since they live simply and in harmony with nature. They find the West is arrogantly blind, elitist and imperialistic, and imposes its capitalism, its science and technology, and its ideology upon other cultures and an increasingly fragile ecosystem.

Conclusion

And thus graduates are fully equipped and predetermined to believe in climate change.