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

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

On Sexual Brains: Vive La Difference!

As Jordan Peterson has pointed out, an ideology takes a partial truth and asserts it as the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  With global warming\climate change, we see how a complex, poorly understood natural system is reduced to a simplistic tweet:  “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”  That is the work of a small but dedicated group of ideologues who captured and overturned climate science so that it now only functions as a tool of political operatives.

The post shows how decades of painstaking work in neurological science are being attacked by gender ideologues, who cannot tolerate any biological differences between men and women.

Larry Cahill writes at Quillette Denying the Neuroscience of Sex Differences Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

For decades neuroscience, like most research areas, overwhelmingly studied only males, assuming that everything fundamental to know about females would be learned by studying males. I know — I did this myself early in my career. Most neuroscientists assumed that differences between males and females, if they exist at all, are not fundamental, that is, not essential for understanding brain structure or function. Instead, we assumed that sex differences result from undulating sex hormones (typically viewed as a sort of pesky feature of the female), and/or from different life experiences (“culture”). In either case, they were dismissable in our search for the fundamental. In truth, it was always a strange assumption, but so it was.

Gradually however, and inexorably, we neuroscientists are seeing just how profoundly wrong — and in fact disproportionately harmful to women — that assumption was, especially in the context of understanding and treating brain disorders. Any reader wishing to confirm what I am writing can easily start by perusing online the January/February 2017 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, the first ever of any neuroscience journal devoted to the topic of sex differences in its entirety. All 70 papers, spanning the neuroscience spectrum, are open access to the public.

In statistical terms, something called effect size measures the size of the influence of one variable on another. Although some believe that sex differences in the brain are small, in fact, the average effect size found in sex differences research is no different from the average effect size found in any other large domain of neuroscience. So here is a fact: It is now abundantly clear to anyone honestly looking, that the variable of biological sex influences all levels of mammalian brain function, down to the cellular/genetic substrate, which of course includes the human mammalian brain.

The mammalian brain is clearly a highly sex-influenced organ. Both its function and dysfunction must therefore be sex influenced to an important degree. How exactly all of these myriad sex influences play out is often hard, or even impossible to pinpoint at present (as it is for almost every issue in neuroscience). But that they must play out in many ways, both large and small, having all manner of implications for women and men that we need to responsibly understand, is now beyond debate — at least among non-ideologues.

Recognizing our obligation to carefully study sex influences in essentially all domains (not just neuroscience), the National Institute of Health on January 25, 2016 adopted a policy (called “Sex as a Biological Variable,” or SABV for short) requiring all of its grantees to seriously incorporate the understanding of females into their research. This was a landmark moment, a conceptual corner turned that cannot be unturned.

But the remarkable and unprecedented growth in research demonstrating biologically-based sex influences on brain function triggered 5-alarm fire bells in those who believe that such biological influences cannot exist.

Since Simone de Beauvoir in the early 1950s famously asserted that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” and John Money at Johns Hopkins shortly thereafter introduced the term “gender” (borrowed from linguistics) to avoid the biological implications of the word “sex,” a belief that no meaningful differences exist in the brains of women and men has dominated U.S. culture. And God help you if you suggest otherwise! Gloria Steinem once called sex differences research “anti-American crazy thinking.” Senior colleagues warned me as an untenured professor around the year 2000 that studying sex differences would be career suicide. This new book by Rippon marks the latest salvo by a very small but vocal group of anti-sex difference individuals determined to perpetuate this cultural myth.

A book like this is very difficult for someone knowledgeable about the field to review seriously. It is so chock-full of bias that one keeps wondering why one is bothering with it. Suffice to say it is replete with tactics that are now standard operating procedure for the anti-sex difference writers. The most important tactic is a comically biased, utterly non-representative view of the enormous literature of studies ranging from humans to single neurons. Other tactics include magnifying or inventing problems with disfavored studies, ignoring even fatal problems with favored studies, dismissing what powerful animal research reveals about mammalian brains, hiding uncomfortable facts in footnotes, pretending not to be denying biologically based sex-influences on the brain while doing everything possible to deny them, pretending to be in favor of understanding sex differences in medical contexts yet never offering a single specific research example why the issue is important for medicine, treating “brain plasticity” as a magic talisman with no limitations that can explain away sex differences, presenting a distorted view of the “stereotype” literature and what it really suggests, and resurrecting 19th century arguments almost no modern neuroscientist knows of, or cares about. Finally, use a catchy name to slander those who dare to be good scientists and investigate potential sex influences in their research despite the profound biases against the topic (“neurosexists!”). These tactics work quite well with those who know little or nothing about the neuroscience.

The book is downright farcical when it comes to modern animal research, simply ignoring the vast majority of it. The enormous power of animal research, of course, is that it can establish sex influences in particular on mammalian brain function (such as sex differences in risk-taking, play behavior, and responses to social defeat as just three examples) that cannot be explained by human culture, (although they may well be influenced in humans by culture.) Rippon engages in what is effectively a denial of evolution, implying to her reader that we should ignore the profound implications of animal research (“Not those bloody monkeys again!”) when trying to understand sex influences on the human brain. She is right only if you believe evolution in humans stopped at the neck.

Rippon tries to convince you (and may even believe herself) that it is impossible to disentangle biology from culture when investigating sex differences in humans. This is false. I encourage the interested reader to see the discussion of the excellent work doing exactly this by a sociologist named J. Richard Udry in an article I wrote in 2014 for the Dana Foundation’s “Cerebrum,” free online.

Rippon does not mention Udry’s work, or its essential replication by Udry’s harshest critic, a leading sociologist who has described herself as a “feminist” who now “wrestles” with testosterone. (The Dana paper “Equal ≠ Same” also deconstructs the specious “brain plasticity” argument on which Rippon’s narrative heavily rests.)

Of course, Rippon is completely correct in arguing that neuroscientists (and the general public) should remember that “nature” interacts with “nurture,” and should not run wild with implications of sex difference findings for brain function and behavior. We must also reject the illogical conclusion that sex influences on the brain will mean that women are superior, or that men are superior. I genuinely do not know a single neuroscientist who disagrees with these arguments. But she studiously avoids an equally important truth: That neuroscientists should not deny that biologically-based sex differences exist and likely have important implications for understanding brain function and behavior, nor should they fear investigating them.

You may ask: What exactly are people like Rippon so afraid of? She cites potential misuse of the findings for sexist ends, which has surface plausibility. But by that logic we should also stop studying, for example, genetics. The potential to misuse new knowledge has been around since we discovered fire and invented the wheel. It is not a valid argument for remaining ignorant.

After almost 20 years of hearing the same invalid arguments (like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” waking up to the same song every day), I have come to see clearly that the real problem is a deeply ingrained, implicit, very powerful yet 100 percent false assumption that if women and men are to be considered “equal,” they have to be “the same.” Conversely, the argument goes, if neuroscience shows that women and men are not the same on average, then it somehow shows that they are not equal on average. Although this assumption is false, it still creates fear of sex differences in those operating on it. Ironically, forced sameness where two groups truly differ in some respect means forced inequality in that respect, exactly as we see in medicine today.

Women are not treated equally with men in biomedicine today because overwhelmingly they are still being treated the same as men (although this is finally changing). Yet astoundingly, and despite claiming she is not anti-sex difference, Rippon says “perhaps we should just stop looking for [sex] differences altogether?” Such dumbfounding statements from a nominal expert make me truly wonder whether the Rippons of the world even realize that, by constantly denying and trivializing and even vilifying research into biologically-based sex influences on the brain they are in fact advocating for biomedical research to retain its male subject-dominated status quo so disproportionately harmful to women.

So are female and male brains the same or different? We now know that the correct answer is “yes”: They are the same or similar on average in many respects, and they are different, a little to a lot, on average in many other respects. The neuroscience behind this conclusion is now remarkably robust, and not only won’t be going away, it will only grow. And yes, we, of course, must explore sex influences responsibly, as with all science. Sadly, the anti-sex difference folks will doubtless continue their ideological attacks on the field and the scientists in it.

Thus one can at present only implore thinking individuals to be wary of ideologues on both sides of the sex difference issue — those who want to convince you that men and women are always as different as Mars and Venus (and that perhaps God wants it that way), and those who want to convince you of the demonstrably false idea that the brains of women and men are for all practical purposes the same (“unisex”), that all differences between women and men are really due to an arbitrary culture (a “gendered world”), and that you are essentially a bad person if you disagree.

No one seems to have a problem accepting that, on average, male and female bodies differ in many, many ways. Why is it surprising or unacceptable that this is true for the part of our body that we call “brain”? Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Her sage advice applies perfectly to discussions about the neuroscience of sex differences in 2019.

Larry Cahill is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine and an internationally recognized leader on the topic of sex influences on brain function.

Footnote:  This video uses humor to look at sexual brains based on observed human behavior “Why Men and Women Think Differently.)

See Also Gender Ideology and Science, including excerpts from Jordan Peterson

To Save the Earth, Get Down in the Dirt

Family Farmed is proud of the blossoming Good Food movement in their hometown of Chicago

Activists are directing school children to the streets to protest for more action against CO2 and their fear of global warming/climate change. In their desire to feel good about saving the planet, they ignore what is being done, and they march rather than picking up shovels and hoes and literally caring for the earth under their feet.

Overlooked is our potential to enhance the performance of the biosphere in capturing CO2 and greening the land. The soil itself is second only to the oceans, and the plant biomass is an additional sink for CO2. Below is an overview of the win-win proposition for humans to sequester carbon in the soil and restore its health and productivity at the same time. H/T Mark Krebs for suggesting this topic and providing resources from his own research and teaching.

Global Sequestration Potential of Increased Organic Carbon in Cropland Soil by Robert J. Zomer, Deborah A. Bossio, Rolf Sommer & Louis V. Verchot 2017.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and titles.

Overview

The role of soil organic carbon in global carbon cycles is receiving increasing attention both as a potentially large and uncertain source of CO2 emissions in response to predicted global temperature rises, and as a natural sink for carbon able to reduce atmospheric CO2. There is general agreement that the technical potential for sequestration of carbon in soil is significant, and some consensus on the magnitude of that potential. Croplands worldwide could sequester between 0.90 and 1.85 Pg C/yr, i.e. 26–53% of the target of the “4p1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate”. The importance of intensively cultivated regions such as North America, Europe, India and intensively cultivated areas in Africa, such as Ethiopia, is highlighted. Soil carbon sequestration and the conservation of existing soil carbon stocks, given its multiple benefits including improved food production, is an important mitigation pathway to achieve the less than 2 °C global target of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Soil as Both Sink and Source

Soils, however, can act as both sources and sinks of carbon, depending upon management, biomass input levels, micro-climatic conditions, and bioclimatic change. Substantially more carbon is stored in the world’s soils than is present in the atmosphere. The global soil carbon (C) pool to one-meter depth, estimated at 2500 Pg C, of which about 1500 Pg C is soil organic carbon (SOC), is about 3.2 times the size of the atmospheric pool and 4 times that of the biotic pool. An extensive body of research has shown that land management practices can increase soil carbon stocks on agricultural lands with practices including addition of organic manures, cover cropping, mulching, conservation tillage, fertility management, agroforestry, and rotational grazing. There is general agreement that the technical potential for sequestration of carbon in soil is significant, and some consensus on the magnitude of that potential.

This diagram of the fast carbon cycle shows the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white indicate stored carbon.

Croplands Are Key

On this basis, the 4p1000 initiative on Soil for Food Security and Climate, officially launched by the French Ministry of Agriculture at the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change: Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP 21) in Paris, aims to sequester approximately 3.5Gt C annually in soils. Croplands will be extremely important in this effort, as these lands are already being actively managed, and so amenable to implementation of improved practices. Furthermore, because almost all cropped soils have lost a large percentage of their pre-cultivation SOC, they potentially represent a large sink to re-absorb carbon through the introduction and adoption of improved or proper management aimed towards increased SOC.

Multiple Benefits of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC)

However, carbon is rarely stored in soils in its elemental form, but rather in the form of organic matter which contains significant amounts of other nutrients, above all nitrogen. Nutrients, biomass productivity, the type of vegetation and water availability, among other constraints therefore can be major limiting factors inhibiting increases in soil carbon sequestration. Further imperative to sequester carbon in soils arises from the multiple co-benefits that are obtained from sequestration of carbon in soils that have been depleted of their organic matter. Soil fertility, health, and functioning are immediate consequences of the amount of soil organic matter (and hence carbon) a soil contains; this is even more important for highly weathered soils, as is the case for the majority of soils in the humid lowland tropics. Increasing carbon in soils also means improving its physical properties and related ecosystems services, such as better water infiltration, water holding capacity, as well as potentially increasing agricultural productivity and ecological resilience.

Reversing Lost SOC

An implicit basic assumption is that in general, 50 to 70% of soil carbon stocks have been lost in cultivated soils, such that the SOC status of almost all cultivated soils can be increased. It is expected that these cropped soils will be able to sequester carbon for at least 20 years before reaching saturation points and new SOC equilibriums, while meta-analysis of field studies suggests that in some instances significant sequestration can continue for 30 or even up to 40 years before reaching new equilibriums.

Where Lies the Greatest Potential

The regions of North America, Eurasia (Russia) and Europe currently store the greatest amount of carbon on cropland, each with more than 21 Pg C, and all together accounting for over 50% of all SOC stocks on cropland globally. By contrast, Central America, North Africa, and the Australian/Pacific region have very low amounts of stored SOC, together comprising 6.48 Pg C or just over 4.6% of the global total. Western Asia, South Asia, Southeast East Asia and East Asia each have moderate amount ranging from 4.38 Pg C to 9.14 Pg C, but together accounting for just less than 2% of global total.

The Top 30 cm are Vital

On these croplands adoption of improved management practices offers the opportunity to sequester significant amounts of carbon in the near term, and potentially to make an important contribution to global mitigation efforts. The 4p1000 Initiative has identified an aspirational sequestration target of 3.5 Pg C/yr to provide substantive global mitigation. Our estimates suggest that from 26% up to 53% (0.90–1.85 Pg C) of this target could be reached in the top 30 cm of cropland soils alone, and continue over at least 20 years after adoption of SOC enhancing management, such as incorporation of organic manures, cover cropping, mulching, conservation tillage, some types for agroforestry practices, rotational grazing, or other practices known to increase soil carbon at the decadal scale.

Carbon Smart Agriculture

Given the large amount of cropland potentially available, sequestering carbon via increases in the soil component on agricultural land is an achievable and potentially effective route to quickly increasing CO2 sequestration in the near term. For comparison, above-ground losses due to tropical land use conversion are currently estimated at 0.6–1.2 Pg C yr-1. A strategy of enhancing agriculture with soil carbon enriching improved practices, e.g. via appropriate policy mechanisms, thus offers significant potential to mitigate land use related carbon emissions and provide an opportunity for agricultural production to positively contribute to global mitigation efforts. SOC may be either enhanced by, or enhance above- and below-ground biomass carbon on agricultural land, allowing for synergistic increases in on-farm carbon stocks. Agroforestry systems and planting trees, for example, may increase soil carbon sequestration.

Productivity and Resilience as well

The benefits of increasing soil organic matter in croplands goes far beyond climate change mitigation potential. Facilitation of increased SOC through improved farming and soil conservation practices, enhancing resilience through improved fertility status and water holding capacity, also provide important adaptation benefits. It is generally recognized that changes in the moisture regime (e.g. drought or heavy precipitation events) can significantly impact crop productivity. These climatic conditions are mitigated by SOC, which adds structure, improves water infiltration and holding capacity, increases cation exchange capacity, and impacts soil fertility, a major controlling factor of agricultural productivity and both regional and household food security. Soil conditions have dramatic effects on the abundance and efficiency of N-fixing bacteria, which are vitally important in cropping systems that lack fertilizer inputs. Thus increased SOC through improved management practices is likely to add substantial resilience to croplands and farming systems, particularly during drought years or increased seasonal variability, helping to avoid edaphic (soil related) droughts that result from land degradation.

Better than the Alternatives

For the most part, agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter are supportive of enhanced food production and other ecosystem services. This is in contrast to other proposed negative emission strategies, such as afforestation (plantations of fast growing trees) and BECCS (bioenergy and carbon capture and storage) that will entail destruction of huge amounts of natural ecosystems or productive agriculture land if implemented at scales large enough to impact CO2 in the atmosphere. Given that hundreds of millions of small farmers for their subsistence depend upon croplands around the world, mitigation benefits of enhanced SOC storage must be recognized as only one significant component of an array of multiple benefits to achieve.

It Won’t be Easy, But We Can Do This

Despite the large technical potential to sequester carbon in soils, there are often significant limitations to achieving that potential in any particular place and within specific farming systems, including lack of biomass and other inputs. In addition, there may be tradeoffs with productivity, food security or hydrologic balances, as well as concerns regarding other GHGs, such as N2O. As with any efforts to sustain notable changes in practice significant understanding of cultural, political and socioeconomic contexts are required.

Humans Should Maximize the Benefits of Global Warming and Rising CO2

Numerous studies are referenced at the NIPCC chapter on CO2, Plants and Soils. While our knowledge of the biosphere CO2 sink is incomplete, much is known to scientists and the information points not to alarm but to opportunity. The surplus CO2 from burning fossil fuels represents an occasion for us to assist nature to replenish soils depleted of the carbon content plants need to achieve their potential. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Assist Forests to benefit even more from rising CO2.

1.2.1 Forests pg. 45

Forests contain perennial trees that remove CO2 from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis and store its carbon within their woody tissues for decades to periods of sometimes more than a thousand years. It is important to understand how increases in the air’s CO2 content affect forest productivity and carbon sequestration, which has a great impact on the rate of rise of the air’s CO2 concentration. 

Where tropical forests have not been decimated by the targeted and direct destructive actions of human society, such as the felling and burning of trees, forest productivity has been growing ever greater with the passing of time, rising with the increasing CO2 content of the air. This has occurred despite all concomitant changes in atmospheric, soil, and water chemistry, including twentieth century global warming, which IPCC claims to have been unprecedented over the past one to two millennia.

The planet is greener with the rise in CO2.

Forest growth rates throughout the world have gradually accelerated over the years in concert with, and in response to, the historical increase in the air’s CO2 concentration. As the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration rises, forests likely will respond by exhibiting significant increases in biomass production, and thus likely will grow much more robustly and significantly expand their ranges, as is already being documented in many parts of the world.

As the air’s CO2 content rises, therefore, saplings growing beneath the canopies of larger trees will likely increase their rates of photosynthesis under both high and low light conditions characteristic of intermittent shading and illumination by sunflecks. Moreover, because elevated CO2 concentrations allow saplings to maintain higher rates of photosynthesis for longer periods of time when going from lighted to shaded conditions, such trees should be able to sequester greater quantities of carbon than they do now. So powerful is this phenomenon, in fact, the two researchers state current estimates of the enhancement of long-term carbon gains by forests under conditions of elevated atmospheric CO2 “could be underestimated by steady-state photosynthetic measures.”

In contrast to frequently stated assumptions, old growth forests can be significant carbon sinks, and their capacity to sequester carbon in the future will be enhanced as the air’s CO2 content rises.pg 75

What has put the planet’s trees on this healthier trajectory of being able to sequester significant amounts of carbon in their old age, when past theory (based on past observations) decreed they should be in a state of no-net-growth or even negative growth? The answer is rather simple. For any tree of age 250 years or more, the greater portion of its life (at least two-thirds of it) was spent in an atmosphere of much reduced CO2 content.

Zhou et al. (2006), “conducted a study to measure the long-term (1979 to 2003) dynamics of soil organic carbon stock in old-growth forests (age > 400 years) at the Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve in Guangdong Province, China.” and “measurements on a total of 230 composite soil samples collected between 1979 and 2003 suggested that soil organic carbon stock in the top 20-cm soil layer increased significantly during that time (P < 0.0001), with an average rate of 0.61 Mg C ha-1 year-1.” 

Manage the land to enhance soil health and productivity

As the CO2 content of the air increases, nearly all plants, including those of various forest ecosystems, respond by increasing their photosynthetic rates and producing more biomass. These phenomena allow long-lived perennial species characteristic of forest ecosystems to sequester large amounts of carbon within their trunks and branches aboveground and their roots below ground for extended periods of time. These processes, in turn, significantly counterbalance CO2 emissions produced by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

Elevated CO2 enhances photosynthetic rates and biomass production in forest trees, and both of these phenomena lead to greater amounts of carbon sequestration. Elevated CO2 also enhances carbon sequestration by reducing carbon losses arising from plant respiration and in some cases from decomposition. Thus, as the air’s CO2 content rises, the ability of forests to sequester carbon rises along with it, appropriately tempering the rate of rise of the air’s CO2 content.

It would appear the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content will not materially alter the rate of decomposition of the world’s soil organic matter. This means the rate at which carbon is sequestered in forest soils should continue to increase as the productivity of Earth’s plants is increased by the aerial fertilization effect of the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. 

“The accumulation of refractory organic carbon in soils that developed after the deglaciation of the American Pacific Northwest is ongoing and may still be far from equilibrium with mineralization and erosion rates.” This further suggests, in their words, “the turnover time of this carbon pool is 10,000 to 100,000 years or more and not 1,000 to 10,000 years as is often used in soil carbon models.” Smittenberg et al.

These independent experimental observations suggest claims to the contrary have no backing in empirical science. Both the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment and the soil fertilization effect of the increase in nitrogen mineralization induced by global warming increase carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems, providing a strong, double-barreled, negative-feedback brake on the impetus for warming created by the enhanced greenhouse effect of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content. Pg 98

Warming has produced bumper crops most everywhere.

Grasslands

Most of Earth’s terrestrial plant life evolved around 500 to 400 million years ago, when the katmospheric CO2 concentration was possibly 10 to 20 times higher than it is today. As a consequence, the biochemical pathways and enzymes involved in carbon fixation should be better adapted to significantly higher-than-present atmospheric CO2 levels, which has in fact been demonstrated to be the case. As the atmosphere’s CO2 content has dropped from that early point in time, it has caused most of Earth’s vegetation to become less efficient at extracting carbon dioxide from the air. However, the recent ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is gradually increasing photosynthetic rates and stimulating vegetative productivity and the terrestrial sequestration of carbon around the globe. 

In a five-year study of a grassland growing on a moderately fertile soil at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in central California— which utilized 20 open-top chambers (ten each at 360 and 720 ppm CO2)—Hu et al. (2001) found a doubling of the air’s CO2 content increased both soil microbial biomass and plant nitrogen uptake. With less nitrogen left in the soil to be used by a larger number of microbes, microbial respiration per unit of soil microbe biomass significantly declined in the elevated CO2 environments; with this decrease in microbial decomposition, there was an increase in carbon accumulation in the soil.pg.114

Jasper Ridge outdoor laboratory at Stanford.

Thus, as the atmosphere’s CO2 content rises, carbon sequestration in the soils of Mediterranean grasslands likely will increase for two reasons. First, it should rise as a consequence of the greater retention times conferred upon the carbon in older soil organic carbon pools, which represent the largest reservoir of terrestrial carbon on Earth. Second, even though soil microbes exhibit a preference for newer carbon under CO2-enriched conditions, it should rise because of the great increase in the amount of carbon going into newer soil carbon pools due to CO2-enhanced root exudation, root turnover, and other types of litter production. Pg.115

How much extra carbon can be sequestered in the planet’s grassland soils as a result of a doubling of the air’s CO2 content? A good first approximation at an answer is provided by Williams et al. (2000), who studied this phenomenon for eight years in a Kansas (USA) tallgrass prairie. . . Extrapolating this value to all of Earth’s temperate grasslands, which make up about 10% of the land area of the globe, Williams et al. calculate the CO2-induced increase in soil carbon sequestration could amount to an additional 1.3 Pg of carbon being sequestered in just the top 15 cm of the world’s grassland soils over the next century. Pg 114

Restore barren land to natural or managed productivity.

1.2.5 Soils 1.2.5.1 Bacteria • Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations likely will allow greater numbers of beneficial bacteria (those that help sequester carbon and nitrogen) to exist in soils and anaerobic water environments. This two-pronged phenomenon would be a great boon to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Pg.132

Nearly all of Earth’s plant life responds favorably to increases in the air’s CO2 content by exhibiting enhanced rates of photosynthesis and biomass production. Consequently, these phenomena tend to increase soil carbon contents by increasing root exudation of organic compounds and the amount of plant litter returned to the soil. Thus, it can be expected that CO2-mediated increases in soil carbon content will affect soil bacterial communities.

The great deserts of Africa and Asia have a huge potential for sequestering carbon, because they are currently so barren their soil carbon contents have essentially nowhere to go but up. The problem with this scenario, however, is that their soils blow away with every wisp of wind that disturbs their surfaces. The ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content could do much to reverse this trend. At higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, nearly all plants are more efficient at utilizing water

The end result of all these phenomena working together is greater carbon storage, both above- and below-ground, in what was previously little more than a source of dust for the rest of the world. And therein lies one of the great unanticipated benefits of the CO2-induced greening of the globe’s deserts: less airborne dust to spread havoc across Earth.

“It’s possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems.” Environmental film maker John D. Liu documents large-scale ecosystem restoration projects in China, Africa, South America and the Middle East, highlighting the enormous benefits for people and planet of undertaking these efforts globally.

Educate and enable gardeners and farmers to apply practices that sequester CO2 and enhance soil health and productivity.

Various programs and initiatives are underway promoting land management practices that improve soil health by enhancing its storage of carbon. One example comes from Mark Krebs, master gardener, who conducts seminars encouraging people to apply these principles to plots of land on their property or publicly available for such care.  They educate the public on how soil is degraded and how it can be regenerated.

As well practical methods are recommended to restore the health and productiviy of the soil, as well as increase its carbon storage.  Various associations offer resources, for example:

The Living Soil

 

International CSA (Climate Smart Agriculture) initiative

Conclusion

Rather than protesting the use of fossil fuels essential to modern life and to social and economic development in our age, people who want to make a difference should get down in the dirt.  The soil is starved for carbon and it is more and more available in the air.  Nature is already accessing this renewed source of CO2,  We humans should claim this unique opportunity to help the land regenerate and recover its productivity.

See also CO2 Fluxes, Sources and Sinks

Carbon Sense and Nonsense

 

Climatism vs. Eugenics: Which is Worse?

Ralph B. Alexander writes at his blog Science Under Attack Belief in Catastrophic Climate Change as Misguided as Eugenics was 100 Years Ago. H/T Yen Makabenta Manila Times. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Last October’s landmark report by the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which claims that global temperatures will reach catastrophic levels unless we take drastic measures to curtail climate change by 2030, is as misguided as eugenics was 100 years ago. Eugenics was the shameful but little-known episode in the early 20th century characterized by the sterilization of hundreds of thousands of people considered genetically inferior, especially the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, minorities and the poor.

Although ill-conceived and even falsified as a scientific theory in 1917, eugenics became a mainstream belief with an enormous worldwide following that included not only scientists and academics, but also politicians of all parties, clergymen and luminaries such as U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt and famed playwright George Bernard Shaw. In the U.S., where the eugenics movement was generously funded by organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, a total of 27 states had passed compulsory sterilization laws by 1935 – as had many European countries.

Eugenics only fell into disrepute with the discovery after World War II of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime in Germany, including the holocaust as well as more than 400,000 people sterilized against their will. The subsequent global recognition of human rights declared eugenics to be a crime against humanity.

The so-called science of catastrophic climate change is equally misguided. Whereas modern eugenics stemmed from misinterpretation of Mendel’s genetics and Darwin’s theory of evolution, the notion of impending climate disaster results from misrepresentation of the actual empirical evidence for a substantial human contribution to global warming, which is shaky at best.

Instead of the horrors of eugenics, the narrative of catastrophic anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming conjures up the imaginary horrors of a world too hot to live in. The new IPCC report paints a grim picture of searing yearly heatwaves, food shortages and coastal flooding that will displace 50 million people, unless draconian action is initiated soon to curb emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. Above all, insists the IPCC, an unprecedented transformation of the world’s economy is urgently needed to avoid the most serious damage from climate change.

But such talk is utter nonsense. First, the belief that we know enough about climate to control the earth’s thermostat is preposterously unscientific. Climate science is still in its infancy and, despite all our spectacular advances in science and technology, we still have only a rudimentary scientific understanding of climate. The very idea that we can regulate the global temperature to within 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius) through our own actions is absurd.

Second, the whole political narrative about greenhouse gases and dangerous anthropogenic warming depends on faulty computer climate models that were unable to predict the recent slowdown in global warming, among other failings. The models are based on theoretical assumptions; science, however, takes its cue from observational evidence. To pretend that current computer models represent the real world is sheer arrogance on our part.

And third, the empirical climate data that is available has been exaggerated and manipulated by activist climate scientists. The land warming rates from 1975 to 2015 calculated by NOAA (the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) are distinctly higher than those calculated by the other two principal guardians of the world’s temperature data. Critics have accused the agency of exaggerating global warming by excessively cooling the past and warming the present, suggesting politically motivated efforts to generate data in support of catastrophic human-caused warming.

Source: Tony Heller, Real Climate Science

Exaggeration also shows up in the setting of new records for the “hottest year ever” –declarations deliberately designed to raise alarm. But when the global temperature is currently creeping upwards at the rate of only a few hundredths of a degree every 10 years, the establishment of new records is unsurprising. If the previous record has been set in the last 10 or 20 years, a high temperature that is only several hundredths of a degree above the old record will set a new one.

Eugenics too was rooted in unjustified human hubris, false science, and exaggeration in its methodology. Just like eugenics, belief in apocalyptic climate change and in the dire prognostications of the IPCC will one day be abandoned also.

Ralph B. Alexander is a retired physicist and a science writer who puts science above political correctness. He is the author of Science Under Attack: The Age of Unreason and Global Warming False Alarm. Ralph grew up in Perth, Western Australia and received his PhD in physics from the University of Oxford.  Dr. Alexander has held a variety of positions in research, academia and industry over the course of his scientific career, and now lives in California. 

See also:  On the Hubris of Climatism

Control Population, Control the Climate. Not.

“Hottest Year” Misdirection

Man Made Warming from Adjusting Data

Activists Demand Shell Commit Harikari

CNN proudly proclaims: Climate groups threaten lawsuit to force Shell to ditch oil  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The groups have accused Shell of “deliberately obstructing” efforts to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, the key goal of the Paris agreement. Pressure on companies has been building since the UN warned last year that the world has only 12 years to avert a climate disaster.

The company has no concrete plans to align its business strategy with the commitments contained in the agreement,” Joris Thijssen, the director of Greenpeace Netherlands, said in a statement.

Shell spends billions on oil and gas exploration each year, with current plans to invest just 5 percent of its budget in sustainable energy and 95 percent in exploiting fossil fuels,” the groups said.

Climate Liability News has the story Shell Sued in the Netherlands for Insufficient Action On Climate Change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Seven environmental and human rights organizations in the Netherlands have filed suit against Royal Dutch Shell for failing to align its business model with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The suit, which is the first to directly challenge an oil company’s business model, was filed Friday in The Hague by Friends of the Earth Netherlands/ Milieudefensie, Greenpeace Netherlands, five other organizations and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

The plaintiffs are not seeking financial compensation, but are asking Shell to adjust its business model in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as recommended by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They allege that by following a business model that it knows will not reach these goals, Shell is violating a Dutch law prohibiting “unlawful endangerment” and is violating human rights by taking insufficient action against climate change.

“If successful, the uniqueness of the case would be that Shell – as one of the largest multinational corporations in the world – would be legally obligated to change its business operations,” said Milieudefensie attorney Roger Cox, who also represented plaintiffs in the landmark Urgenda suit.

Urgenda was the first case in which a court ordered a government to reduce its emissions and the first time a court ruled that not taking sufficient action on climate change is a human rights violation.

Plaintiffs allege Shell’s current business model threatens human rights because the oil giant is knowingly undermining the world’s chances to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. They maintain that rather than guarantee emission reductions, Shell’s current plan would contribute to a much larger global temperature increase.

Shell did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a Dec. 2018 press release said it “aims to reduce the net carbon footprint of its energy products by around half by 2050, and by around 20% by 2035, in step with society’s drive to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Plaintiffs maintain that a reduction of the company’s carbon footprint is not the same as a reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions because the carbon footprint involves a relative reduction in carbon emissions per unit of energy produced for the market, not an absolute reduction. Shell could reach its goals by producing as many units of renewable energy as it does oil and gas and could therefore reduce its carbon intensity by half without ever having to reduce its production or trade of fossil fuels.

By using this formula, plaintiffs contend that Shell – which has announced plans to link executive pay to the targets – could reach its stated goals without reducing its carbon emissions.

They say even if Shell’s goals were specific to emission reductions, the company’s target of a 50 percent reduction by 2050 still falls short of the IPCC recommendation that carbon emissions reach net zero by mid-century.

If successful, the lawsuit will be the first in which a company is ordered to reduce emissions.

The suit should come as no surprise to Shell. As required by the Dutch legal system, the defendant organizations sent the company a liability letter last year, demanding it cut back on its oil and gas production and align its business strategy with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Shell rejected those demands, saying it “strongly supports” the goals of the Paris Agreement and pointing to the company’s Sky scenario, as “a technically possible but challenging pathway” toward achieving those goals. The groups, which encouraged Dutch citizens to sign on to the suit, announced in February they intended to sue the oil giant.

According to the Carbon Majors report, which was compiled and released in 2017 by the Climate Accountability Institute, Shell ranked sixth in the world in cumulative greenhouse gas emissions between 1854 and 2010.

Plaintiffs maintain it is still possible to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, but doing so will require immediate large-scale changes, including a transition to renewable energy and drastic emission reductions by Shell and other carbon polluters.

“We also expect that this [case] would have an effect on other fossil fuel companies, raising the pressure on them to change,” Cox also said that unlike previous cases which sought financial compensation for the effects of climate change, this one involves asking the judge to order Shell to ensure its activities have zero percent carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Methinks these folks should beware their wishes coming true:

See Also  Going Dutch: How Not to Cut Emissions