Beware the Climate Sirens Song

Greek mythology warned of seductive songs luring sailors to crash their ships upon the rocks.  Currently the climate sirens are singing loudly, filling the ears of captains of industries as well as ships of state.  Be forewarned of the latest example of disintormation coming again from IPCC.  Their fourth special report this  year will be a 900-page missive entitled, Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, targeted for release to the general public for commentary on September 25.

CleanTechnica had a brieting and brings the message: The World’s Oceans Are Poised To Unleash “Misery On A Global Scale”  Some of the verses from this song in italics with my bolds.

  • Drastic onsequences if humanity does not reinvent how we produce and consume so we can avoid the worst ravages of climate change and environmental degradation.
  • Over the next 80 years, melting glaciers will alternately give too much and then too little fresh water to the multitudes who depend on them.
  • 30% of the northern hemisphere’s surface permafrost could melt by century’s end, unleashing billions of tons of carbon and accelerating global warming even more.
  • Destructive changes already set in motion could see a steady decline in fish stocks;
  • A 100-fold or more increase will occur in the damages caused by superstorms; and,
  • 100s of millions of people will be displaced by rising seas.
  • Acidification is disrupting the ocean’s basic food chain, and marine heatwaves are creating vast oxygen-depleted dead zones.
  • By 2050, many low-lying megacities and small island nations will experience “extreme sea level events” every year,
  • By 2100, “annual flood damages are expected to increase by two to three orders of magnitude,” or 100 to 1,000 fold,
  • Today’s small levels of migration have triggered political instability, while in the future tens of millions of people will be moving because the ocean is eating their land.

The words differ slightly, but the song remains the same:

For those wanting to keep their wits about them, here is some advice from Joel Kotkin writng in New Geography Common Sense Versus Climate Hysteria.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Whether it’s fires in California or Brazil, hurricanes like Dorian or your summer hot spell, it’s not just weather anymore but a sign of the impending apocalypse.

This specter of imminent demise tied to the everyday, notes one American Psychological Association study, has induced “stress, depression and anxiety” among a wide part of the population. The Congress’ leading green advocate, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, admits her climate concerns often wake her up at 3:30 in the morning.

Of course, significant changes in the climate could well be afoot, but our “woke” media and its favored go-to expert class seem more prone to hysteric prophesizing than properly skeptical analysis.

After Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, some climatistas confidently predicted that it was harbinger of ever more powerful tropic storms, yet it was followed for 10 years by something of a “hurricane drought” that, sadly, may be at an end.

Little is said about anything that may alter the narrative, such as reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statistics show at most only minimal warming in the United States since 2005.

Few have heard that despite the recent fires in the Amazon, widely portrayed as part of a relentless incendiary burning tied to climate, as Mike Shellenberger notes, there’s been a 25 percent drop in fires globally since 2003; rather than burning up the forest, we have been planting more trees than harvesting them for over three decades.

And remember the California drought that Gov. Jerry Brown and his acolytes linked to climate change? That prolonged dry spell ended in a series of downpours, as it has for much of past 150 years.

The uses of apocalypse

The Catholic Church discovered millennia ago that the prospect of apocalypse provides a brilliant tool of propaganda. To people in the Middle Ages, observed historian Barbara Tuchman, “apocalypse was in the air,” the spawn of human sin. In much the same way the environmental movement links human material aspirations with impending disaster, citing manmade climate change as the singular explanation for everything from starvation, wars and crop failures to hurricanes, floods or any other unusual weather.

Unlike the medieval apocalypse, ours is cloaked in scientism, and is propelled to a certainty by computer models. Yet experience should engender some degree of skepticism — if history-challenged journalists knew different. One of the fundamental documents of modern environmentalism, the widely hailed 1972 Club of Rome report, predicted massive shortages of natural resources and the end of economic growth, claims generally accepted without skepticism in media, academic and political circles.

Yet energy and food subsequently became more plentiful than ever as the world has experienced the largest growth in affluence in its history.

Never called to account, greens and their allies can still follow the same mantra with predictable reliability. Upon the election of President Barack Obama in 2009, NASA’s James Hansen, one of the icons of the climate change movement, announced that the new chief executive had a bare “four years to save the Earth.” A year earlier ABC in 2008 claimed that Manhattan would be “under water” by 2015. None of these predictions, at least so far, have come true.

Hysteria leads to bad policy

The reinforced specter of imminent destruction increasingly drives the demand for ever more extreme policy choices. Climate researchers at Sweden’s Lund University and Oregon State University have proposed taxes on people who have children for their “carbon legacy,” even at a time of plummeting birthrates.

Part of the problem may stem from the complexity of the issue. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself has suggested that climate prediction is difficult, if not impossible. Most of their projections are far less hysterical than those embraced by the media, which generally report only the most extreme predictions.

But the notion of an impending crisis is useful if you want to lobby for greater control of everyday life.

As one of the architects of the Green New Deal recently said, “Do you guys think of [the GND] as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” This proposal, echoed those recently offered by Bernie Sanders, would destroy jobs in many industries, such as aerospace and fossil-fuel energy, and force governments to compensate displaced workers.

Resilience and common sense

Common sense is really what we need. No amount of virtue-signaling by governments, celebrities, royalty or the media can make up for the fact that virtually all growth in greenhouse gases comes not from the West but from China, easily the world’s champion emitter, India and a host of poorer countries. Driving a Tesla or Prius is not going to change much, and many green-backed policies, such as in Germany and California , have done little, if anything, for the climate, but have succeeded in hurting middle- and working-class people far more than the affluent.

Given these realities, the logical course is to focus an intelligent economically sensible transition to a lower-carbon economy while pushing for resiliency measures to deal with the possible results of higher GHG emissions. Rather than seek to turn people into insect eaters and permanent apartment dwellers, perhaps we should push for measures in the new infrastructure bill before Congress to bolster coastal defenses, underground power lines, improve dams and water systems.

The future belongs not to the most self-righteous but the most adaptable.

This is gradually taking root in the policy discussion. After years of opposition, some environmentalists now accept that poorly managed forests in states like California must be trimmed to forestall massive firestorms. Others propose more expenditure on coastal walls, dispersed power systems, desalination plants and better storage of water.

The Netherlands provides a compelling role model here. After experiencing a massive flood in the 16th century, the Dutch embarked on a successful and extensive expansion of coastal berms to prevent future floods and bolstered their economy ever since. In contrast places that failed to address climate-related risks led to the decline of numerous cities in ancient Mesoamerica, the Indus Valley, Cambodia and, more recently, New Orleans.

Ultimately, the climate issue can be best addressed not by fueling anxiety but by adopting a practical and economically feasible approach. Quasi-religious hysteria may provide meaning for activists, but given the global nature of the problem, we need to address it not with panic but reason, and careful consideration about consequences, something in all too short supply today.

Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism (www.opportunityurbanism.org)

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Woke Tycoons Playing with Fire

Matthew Continetti writes at Washington Free Beacon The Wages of Woke.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
How the left uses corporate America to evade democracy

Time was, CEOs of mighty enterprises shied away from politics, especially hot-button social and cultural issues. They focused instead on the bottom line. They maximized shareholder value by delivering goods and services to customers. Some businessmen still operate by this principle. In doing so they provide not only for their employees and CEOs and board members but also for the institutions—pensions, individual retirement plans, index funds, hospitals, philanthropies—invested in their companies.

That is no longer enough for many of America’s richest and most powerful. Suddenly, corporate America has a conscience. Every week brings new examples of CEOs intervening in political, cultural, and social debate. In every instance, the prominent spokesmen for American business situate themselves comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum.

Shareholder capitalism finds itself under attack.
Not just from socialism but also from woke capitalism.

Apple employees march in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade / Getty Images

These outbursts are not just virtue signaling. Nor is the left-wing tilt of corporate America merely a response to the “rising American electorate” of Millennial, Gen Z, and minority consumers. What is taking place is not a business story but a political one. What is known as “stakeholder capitalism” is another means by which elites circumvent democratic accountability.

Corporate managers find themselves at odds with at least 46 percent of the electorate. The divergence is not over jobs or products. It is over values. The global economy generates social inequalities as much as economic ones. Many of the winners of the global economy justify their gains by adopting the rhetoric, tastes, ideas, and affiliations of their cultural milieu. Their environment is inescapably center left.

Even so, the social justice agenda of corporate America is not only meant to appease voters, or even to placate Elizabeth Warren. Some of these businessmen really believe what they are saying. And they are beginning to understand that they have another way—through social position and market share—to impose their cultural priorities on a disagreeable public.

The trend began as a response to the Tea Party. In 2010 the “Patriotic Millionaires” began advocating for higher marginal tax rates. A few years later, when state legislatures passed laws opposed by pro-choice and LGBT groups, corporations threatened or waged economic boycotts. Large individual donations made up more than half of Hillary Clinton’s fundraising; for Donald Trump the number was 14 percent.

CEOs protested the implementation of President Trump’s travel ban in 2017. The following year, after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, Howard Schultz closed stores nationwide so his more than 175,000 employees could be trained in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Earlier this summer, Nike pulled shoes featuring the Betsy Ross flag after Colin Kaepernick raised objections. Recently four major auto companies struck a deal with the state of California to preserve fuel economy standards the Trump administration opposes.

Business has provided ideological justification for its activities. In mid-August, a group of 181 members of the Business Roundtable, including the CEOs of Morgan Stanley, GM, Apple, and Amazon, issued a statement redefining the purpose of a corporation. “Generating long-term value for shareholders” is necessary but insufficient. In the words of Jamie Dimon, business must “push for an economy that serves all Americans.” A few weeks later, one of the Business Roundtable signatories, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, announced that America’s largest retailer would end sales of ammunition for handguns and for some rifles. Once its current inventory is exhausted, of course.

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“We encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon wrote. “We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness.” Note the use of the first-person plural. Of Walmart’s 1.5 million employees, more than a few, one assumes, do not believe it is necessary to “strengthen background checks” or debate “the Assault Weapons ban.”

To whom does the “we” in McMillon’s statement refer? To everyone who thinks like he does.

“You have a business acting in a more enlightened and more agile way than government,” is how one MSNBC contributor enthusiastically described Walmart’s directive. Left unsaid is why government has not, in this case, been “enlightened” or “agile.” The reason is constitutional democracy. The electorate, like it or not, continues to put into office representatives opposed to gun registration and to a renewal of the Assault Weapons ban. And these representatives, in turn, have confirmed judges who believe the Second Amendment is just as important to self-government as the First and Fourteenth.

Much of Western politics for the last decade has involved elites figuring out new ways to ignore or thwart the voting public.

Barack Obama was following in the EU’s footsteps when he went ahead with Obamacare despite Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts in January 2010, and when he expanded his DACA program to the parents of illegal immigrants brought here as children despite Republican gains in the 2014 election and despite his own admission that he lacked authority.

James Comey’s towering ego and self-regard compelled him to interfere in the 2016 election with consequences we can only begin to reckon. Over the last two-and-a-half years, district judges and anonymous bureaucrats have impeded and obstructed the agenda of a duly elected chief executive. A few weeks ago a former governor of the Federal Reserve suggested in Bloomberg that the central bank should thwart Trump’s reelection. And in England, elite resistance to the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum and to the 2017 parliamentary invocation of Article 50 has brought the government into a crisis from which there seems no escape.

In such an environment, one begins to see the appeal of nongovernmental instruments of power. What might be rejected at the ballot box can be achieved through “nudging” in the market and in the third sector. If you can’t enact national gun control through Congress, why not leverage the economic and cultural weight of America’s largest corporations?

The market, we are told, is not a democracy.  Oh, but it is.

The market may be the ultimate democracy. “The picture of the prettiest girl that ever lived,” wrote Joseph Schumpeter, “will in the long run prove powerless to maintain the sales of a bad cigarette.” Woke capitalists remain accountable to consumers and to shareholders. The audiences of ESPN and of the NFL cratered when those institutions elevated politics over consumer demand. Hollywood’s anti-American offerings routinely flop. Public opinion, in the form of popular taste, rules. Shareholders of publicly traded companies are a type of electorate. The companies that do not satisfy customers will disappear. Or shareholders will demand changes to management to prevent such an outcome.

The politicization of firms is a double-edged sword. The responsible stakeholder CEOs may have the best of intentions. They might assume they are doing the right things not only by their companies but also by their societies. What they fail to understand is that corporations acting as surrogates of one element of society, or of one political party, will not be treated as neutral by other elements, by the other party. By believing their superior attitudes will save capitalism, our right-thinking elites are undermining its very legitimacy, and increasing the severity of the ongoing populist revolt.

Climate Delusional Disorder (CDD)

 

WebMD tells What You Need to Know about this condition.  Delusions and Delusional Disorder. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Delusions are the main symptom of delusional disorder. They’re unshakable beliefs in something that isn’t true or based on reality. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely unrealistic. Delusional disorder involves delusions that aren’t bizarre, having to do with situations that could happen in real life, like being followed, poisoned, deceived, conspired against, or loved from a distance. These delusions usually involve mistaken perceptions or experiences. But in reality, the situations are either not true at all or highly exaggerated.

People with delusional disorder often can continue to socialize and function normally, apart from the subject of their delusion, and generally do not behave in an obviously odd or bizarre manner. This is unlike people with other psychotic disorders, who also might have delusions as a symptom of their disorder. But in some cases, people with delusional disorder might become so preoccupied with their delusions that their lives are disrupted.

What Are the Complications of Delusional Disorder?

  • People with delusional disorder might become depressed, often as the result of difficulties associated with the delusions.
  • Acting on the delusions also can lead to violence or legal problems. For example, a person with an erotomanic delusion who stalks or harasses the object of the delusion could be arrested.
  • Also, people with this disorder can become alienated from others, especially if their delusions interfere with or damage their relationships.

Treatment most often includes medication and psychotherapy (a type of counseling). Delusional disorder can be very difficult to treat, in part because those who have it often have poor insight and do not know there’s a psychiatric problem. Studies show that close to half of patients treated with antipsychotic medications show at least partial improvement.

Delusional disorder is typically a chronic (ongoing) condition, but when properly treated, many people can find relief from their symptoms. Some recover completely, while others have bouts of delusional beliefs with periods of remission (lack of symptoms).

Unfortunately, many people with this disorder don’t seek help. It’s often hard for people with a mental disorder to know they aren’t well. Or they may credit their symptoms to other things, like the environment. They also might be too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment. Without treatment, delusional disorder can be a lifelong illness.

An example of CDD

H.Sterling Burnett and James Taylor write at Epoch Times United Nations Misleads About Food Production and Climate Change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

There is no better way to describe the arguments contained in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report, “Climate Change and Land,” released just in time to influence discussions at the United Nations’ 68th Civil Society Conference. Citing anecdotal evidence instead of hard data, IPCC’s new report paints a dark, disturbing picture about the current and future state of crop production and food availability.

“Climate change, including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, has adversely impacted food security and terrestrial ecosystems as well as contributed to desertification and land degradation in many regions,” the report claims.

“Warming compounded by drying has caused yield declines in parts of Southern Europe. Based on indigenous and local knowledge, climate change is affecting food security in drylands, particularly those in Africa, and high mountain regions of Asia and South America,” the report continues.

Here, climate alarmists in the United Nations are doing nothing more than “pounding the table,” hoping fear will drive the public to demand “climate action now!”

Of course, the fake news media eagerly amplified the alarmist report. For example, an Aug. 8 NBC News headline reads, “Climate change could trigger a global food crisis, new U.N. report says.” Many other major media outlets published similar stories.

The biggest problem is the report’s thesis and “facts” are totally wrong—and that’s quite a problem!

For instance, the United Nations’ own data shows farmers throughout the world are setting new production records virtually every year. In fact, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports new records were set in each of the past five years for global cereal production, which is composed of the Big Three food staples: corn, wheat, and rice.

Indeed, World-Grain.com reports in 2016 world cereal production broke records for the third straight year, exceeding the previous record yield, recorded in 2015, by 1.2 percent and topping the record yield in 2014 by 1.5 percent. These facts should not surprise anyone because hundreds of studies and experiments conclusively demonstrate plants do better under conditions of higher carbon dioxide and modestly warmer temperatures.

The ongoing record crop production perfectly illustrates the difference between the Climate Delusion perpetrated by IPCC and other government-funded alarmists and what is actually happening in the real world. To make the news gloomy, IPCC’s report nefariously engages in semantic tricks to give readers a false impression of declining global crop production. The report cites anecdotal evidence crop yields are declining in “parts” of Southern Europe, ignoring copious data showing crop yields are rising across the globe, including throughout Southern Europe.

Instead of highlighting this welcome development, IPCC focuses on what it claims are yield reductions in some small regions of Southern Europe. Readers who are not paying close attention will be led to believe, incorrectly, that crop yields are declining throughout Southern Europe. In reality, the exact opposite is true!

IPCC claims “indigenous and local knowledge” indicates food production is declining “in drylands” in Africa, Asia, and South America. However, such indigenous and local knowledge does not trump objective data, which are readily available to IPCC’s authors and show crop yields are increasing throughout Africa, Asia, and South America as a whole, including in dryland areas.

Tragically, IPCC’s misleading claims result in people who dare to point out crop production continues to set new records being accused of “denying” climate change and attacking science. Climate change is real and record crop production is in fact consistent with it. In fact, record crop production is partly due to climate change.

This is just the latest example of the ongoing Climate Delusion, as radical environmental activists, government bureaucrats, socialists, and a biased news media, looking to transform U.S. society, repeatedly make ridiculous climate claims with no basis in real environmental conditions. They hope the constant drumbeat of authoritative-sounding claims will fool people into stampeding politicians to give governments more power over the economy to combat the false climate crisis.

Fortunately, we can avoid this fate. Factual data showing the truth about global food supplies and other climate conditions are readily available to anyone willing to search the internet. Let’s hope the public accesses the facts. Enacting policies that restrict the use of abundant energy supplies will rob people of choice and harm the economy. This won’t hurt the global elite, but it will result in everyone else living poorer, more precarious lives.

See also Alarmists Anonymous

Sobering Facts about Global Warming

A Short List Of Facts Global Warming Alarmists Don’t Want To Face  by Issues and Insights Editorial Board.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Democrats nearly had a brawl last week in California after the party’s Resolutions Committee rejected a proposed climate debate among Democratic presidential candidates. Global warming so fully occupies the thinking of some that there’s no room for information that will contradict their faith.

If they’d only open their minds they’d see:

The U.S. hasn’t warmed since 2005. America isn’t the entire world. But the alarmists gleefully point out regional heatwaves and the “hottest day on record” when cities endure summer scorchers. So let’s look at the data. The U.S. Climate Reference Network, “a sophisticated climate-observing network specifically designed and deployed for quantifying climate change on a national scale,” has found there’s been no warming in the U.S. going back to 2005.

In fact, says meteorologist Anthony Watts, the “little known data from the state-of-the-art” operation, “(which never seems to make it into NOAA’s monthly ‘state of the climate’ reports) show that for the past nine months, six of them were below normal.”

The data also tell us 2019’s average has been cooler than 2005’s, the first year of the data set.

Man’s carbon dioxide emissions are not burning down the Amazon. Empty-headed celebrities and activists have had quite a virtue-signaling feast tweeting photos from fires three decades ago, fires in Europe, and fires in the U.S. Yes, we’ve seen the claims that there are 80% more fires this year than last in South America, but we’ve also seen this from the New York Times:

“The majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year’s crops and pasture.”

Of course that’s a disposable detail because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

Carbon dioxide increases historically lag temperature increases. “In 1985, ice cores extracted from Greenland revealed temperatures and CO2 levels going back 150,000 years,” writes author Joanne Nova. “Temperature and CO2 seemed locked together. It was a turning point — the ‘greenhouse effect’ captured attention. But, in 1999 it became clear that carbon dioxide rose and fell after temperatures did. By 2003, we had better data showing the lag was 800 ± 200 years. CO2 was in the back seat.”

Of course the climate crusaders have written at great length to tell us it’s all just a myth. This time, they say, the warming (which is in doubt) is caused by man. It just has to be. All those other warming periods, the alarmists tell us, can be explained by natural events, such as Earth’s orbit around the sun, which, incidentally, we have mentioned as one of many factors that influence climate changes.

Less than 5% of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by man. Web searches turn up what seems like an endless list of stories and blog posts reporting that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have reached or exceeded 415 parts per million. This has been almost universally treated as the tip of an imminent disaster, as man has pushed greenhouse gas emissions beyond a dangerous threshold. But has he?

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “agrees today’s annual human carbon dioxide emissions are 4.5 ppm (parts per million) per year and nature’s carbon dioxide emissions are 98 ppm per year,” says climate scientist Ed Berry. “Yet, the IPCC claims human emissions have caused all the increase in carbon dioxide since 1750, which is 30% of today’s total.

“How can human carbon dioxide, which is less than 5% of natural carbon dioxide, cause 30% of today’s atmospheric carbon dioxide? It can’t.”

Don’t like Berry’s numbers? Consider another set of figures from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, which says that of the 750 gigatons of CO2 which travel through the carbon cycle every year, only 29 gigatons, or less than 4%, are produced by man.

Is it possible for such a small portion to have such a great influence? Despite what the hysterics tell us, it’s an unanswered question.

There are many other unanswered questions about climate, as well. An honest person would admit that they might remain unanswered forever. An alarmist, however, has his mind made up — and closed down.

See also Alarmists Anonymous

 

Global Virtue Replaces Local Accountability

Victor Davis Hanson writes at American Greatness Cosmic Injustice. The article comprises an extensive list of political escape artists, who raise abstract global concerns to distract from their incompetence facing real local problems and suffering. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Politicians ignore felonies in their midst, preferring to hector the misdemeanors of the universe

One of the weirdest characteristics of our global politicians and moral censors is their preference to voice cosmic justice rather than to address less abstract sin within their own purview or authority. These progressive virtue mongers see themselves as citizens of the world rather than of the United States and thus can impotently theorize about problems elsewhere when they cannot solve those in their own midst.

Mayors Preach Empathy While NYC Deteriorates

Big-city mayors are especially culpable when it comes to ignoring felonies in their midst, preferring to hector the misdemeanors of the universe. Notice how New York Mayor Bill De Blasio lords over the insidious deterioration of his city while he lectures on cosmic white supremacy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg used to sermonize to the nation about gun-control, global warming, the perils of super-sized soft drinks, smoking, and fatty-foods in his efforts to virtue signal his moral fides—even as his New York was nearly paralyzed by the 2010 blizzard that trapped millions of his city’s residents in their homes due to inept and incompetent city efforts to remove snow. Or is the “Bloomberg syndrome” worse than that—in the sense that sounding saintly in theory psychologically compensates for being powerless in fact? Or is it a fashion tic of the privileged to show abstract empathy?

Governor Schwarzenegger Goes Green While California Goes Down

In the last years of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s governorship, Arnold more or less gave up on the existential crises of illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, soaring taxes, water shortages, decrepit roads and bridges, homelessness, plummeting public school performance, and a huge exodus out of state of middle-class Californians.

Instead he began to lecture the state, the nation, and indeed the world on the need for massive wind and solar projects and assorted green fantasies. His old enemies, jubilant that they had aborted his early conservative reform agenda, began to praise him both for his green irrelevancies and for his neutered conservatism—to the delight of the outgoing Arnold who was recalibrating his return to celebrity Hollywood.

Where Were the Sheriffs When Shooters Came

More recently, we often see how local sheriffs become media-created philosophers eager to blame supposed national bogeymen for mass shootings in their jurisdictions— killings that sometimes are at least exacerbated by the utter incompetence of local law enforcement chiefs.

Do we remember the horrific 2011 Tucson shooter, the mass-murdering ghoul who mowed down 19 people, killing six and severely wounding Representative Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.)? Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, without any evidence, immediately claimed that conservative anti-government hate speech had set off the unhinged shooter.

One might have thought from Dupnik’s loud blame-game commentary that supposed outgunned deputies on duty had shot it out with the killer in a running gun battle, and that he was furious that talk radio or right-wingers had somehow impeded him from getting enough bullets or guns to his men to protect the victims from such a right-wing ideologue.

Hardly. This shooter had devoured both the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. He was mentally unstable, drug addled, and without coherent views on contemporary issues, and thus no foot soldier in some vast right-wing conspiracy or any other conspiracy. He was certainly less connected to the Right than the Washington, D.C. shooter who tried to take out much of the Republican House leadership in 2017 was connected to the Left.

Again, no matter. The ubiquitous Dupnik in his efforts to translate his own incompetence and failure to secure the area where Giffords was to speak into media-driven celebrity, in cheap fashion blasted the Tea Party, critics of President Obama, and, of course, Rush Limbaugh as the culprits.

In truth, security in the supermarket parking lot where Giffords and others were shot was nearly nonexistent, a fact Dupnik never really addressed. He seemed unworried that he had not sent out deputies to ensure a U.S. congresswoman’s safety while conducting an open-air meeting with her constituents.

Florida Sheriff Scott Israel sought national media attention for trying to connect the horrific Parkland Florida mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (17 dead), which took place in his jurisdiction, to the National Rifle Association and Republican politicians in general. But it was Israel’s own Broward County Sheriff’s Office that responded slowly to the killings. In some cases, Israel’s officers exhibited timidity and refused to enter the building to confront the deranged mass shooter.

Before Israel lectured an international television audience on the evils of lax gun laws he might have at least ensured that his own sheriffs were willing to risk their lives to protect the endangered innocent.

Dot-Com Wealthy Live High Above the Disasters on Their Doorsteps

If we sometimes wonder why for years saintly Apple, Facebook, and Google have thrived in a sea of homelessness, amid pot-holed streets lined with strapped employees living in their cars, a good indication might be that the cosmic social justice so often voiced as penance by their woke multibillionaire bosses exempts them from worrying about the disasters in their midst.

Pope Francis Calls for Open Borders from Behind Vatican Walls

Pope Francis recently lambasted a number of European countries and leaders for their apparent efforts to secure their national borders against massive illegal immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. Francis plugged European ecumenicalism and seemed to dismiss the populist and nationalist pushback of millions of Europeans, who see the EU as both anti-democratic and a peril to their own traditions and freedoms as citizens.

However, before Francis chastised the continent for its moral failings, he might have explained to Italians or Greeks worried over their open borders why the Vatican enjoys massive walls to keep the uninvited out and yet why other European countries should not emulate the nation-state Vatican’s successful preemptive fortifications.

Better yet, the pope might have taken a more forceful stance against the decades-long and ongoing legal dilemmas of hundreds of global Catholic Clergy, who have proven to be pedophiles and yet were not turned over to law enforcement. The cosmic idea of a United Europe is easy to preach about, but reining in what is likely an epidemic of child-molesting clergy is messy. Francis’s frequent abstract moralizing is quite at odds with either his inability or unwillingness to reform pathways to the priesthood, some of whose members have ruined thousands of lives.

Politicians Unwilling to Address Concrete Crises

What was lacking in the recent Democratic debates were concrete answers to real problems—as opposed to candidates’ nonstop cosmic virtue signaling. It is easy to blast “white supremacy” and “the gun culture” from a rostrum. But no one on stage seemed to care about the great challenge of our age, the inner-city carnage that takes thousands of young African-American lives each year. The inner-city murdering is tragically almost exclusively a black-on-black phenomenon (even rare interracial homicides are disproportionally committed by African-Americans) that occurs in progressive-run cities with strict gun control laws.

When leaders virtue signal about global or cosmic sin, it is often proof they have no willingness or power to address any concrete crisis. The public tires of such empty platitudes because they also see the culpable trying to divert attention from their own earthly failure by loudly appealing to a higher moral universe.

More mundanely, there is the role of hypocrisy: elites themselves never suffer the consequences of their own ethical inaction while the public never sees any benefit from their moral rhetoric. Illegal immigration is not a personal issue for Pope Francis, and most Europeans have more concrete things to worry about than lectures on populism and nationalism.

Disconnected from Real World Dangers

In the same fashion, New Yorkers in 2011 were worried more about the piles of snow on the sidewalks than they felt threatened by 32-ounce Cokes—while realizing that no snow blocked either the Bloomberg official or private residence.

Note a recent inexplicable Zogby poll that indicated 51 percent of blacks and Hispanics might support Donald Trump. How would such a supposedly counterintuitive result even be possible?

I have a suggestion: minority communities live first-hand with the violence and dangers of the gang gun culture. More policing and incarceration of guilty felons improve their lives. Secure borders mean fewer drug dealers and cartel smugglers in local communities, fewer schools swamped with non-English speakers, and social services not overwhelmed with impoverished non-Americans.

These can all be real concerns for beleaguered minorities. Yet they are virtue-signaled away by progressive elites whose own power and money allow them to navigate around the consequences of their own liberal fantasies that fall on distant others.

Add in a booming economy, rising incomes, and low unemployment for minorities, and the world of shrill yelling on the debate stage about “white privilege” seems some sort of an irrelevant fixation of the elite and privileged, akin to showing off a Gucci bag or Porsche Cayenne—but otherwise nothing to do with dangerous streets, wrecked schools, whizzing bullets, and social services that are becoming inoperative.

The next time a legislator, mayor, or governor rails about plastic straws or the Paris Climate Accord, be assured that his state’s roads are clogged, his public schools failing—and he is clueless or indifferent about it.

Why Al Gore Keeps Yelling “Fire!”

Some years ago I attended seminars regarding efforts to achieve operational changes in organizations. The notion was presented that people only change their habits, ie. leave their comfort zone, when they fear something else more than changing their behavior. The analogy was drawn comparing to workers leaping from a burning oil platform, or tenants from a burning building.

Al Gore is fronting an agenda to unplug modern societies, and thereby the end of life as we know it. Thus they claim the world is on fire, and only if we abandon our ways of living can we be saved.

The big lie is saying that the world is burning up when in fact nothing out of the ordinary is happening. The scare is produced by extrapolating dangerous, fearful outcomes from events that come and go in the normal flow of natural and seasonal climate change. They can not admit that the things they fear have not yet occurred.  We will jump only if we believe our platform, our way of life, is already crumbling.

And so we come to Al Gore recently claiming that his past predictions of catastrophe have all come true.

J.Frank Bullitt writes at Issues and Insights Gore Says His Global Warming Predictions Have Come True? Can He Prove It? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

When asked Sunday about his 2006 prediction that we would reach the point of no return in 10 years if we didn’t cut human greenhouse gas emissions, climate alarmist in chief Al Gore implied that his forecast was exactly right.

“Some changes unfortunately have already been locked in place,” he told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

Sea level increases are going to continue no matter what we do now. But, we can prevent much larger sea level increases. Much more rapid increases in temperature. The heat wave was in Europe. Now it’s in Arctic. We’re seeing huge melting of the ice there. So, the warnings of the scientists 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, unfortunately were accurate.”

Despite all this gloom, he’s found “good news” in the Democratic presidential field, in which “virtually all of the candidates are agreed that this is either the top issue or one of the top two issues.”

So what has Gore been predicting for the planet? In his horror movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” he claimed:

Sea levels could rise as much as 20 feet. He didn’t provide a timeline, which was shrewd on his part. But even if he had said 20 inches, over 20 years, he’d still have been wrong. Sea level has been growing for about 10,000 years, and, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, continues to rise about one-eighth of an inch per year.

“Storms are going to grow stronger.” There’s no evidence they are stronger nor more frequent.

Mt. Kilimanjaro was losing its snow cap due to global warming. By April 2018, the mountain glaciers were taking their greatest snowfall in years. Two months later, Kilimanjaro was “covered by snow” for “an unusually long stint. But it’s possible that all the snow and ice will be gone soon. Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, with a dormant cone that could erupt.

Point of no return. If we have truly gotten this far, why even care that “virtually all” of the Democratic candidates have agreed that global warming is a top issue? If we had passed the point of no return, there’d be no reason to maintain hope. The fact Gore’s looking for a “savior” from among the candidates means that even he doesn’t believe things have gone too far.

A year after the movie, Gore was found claiming that polar bears’ “habitat is melting” and “they are literally being forced off the planet.” It’s possible, however, that there are four times as many polar bears as there were in the 1960s. Even if not, they’ve not been forced off the planet.

Also in 2007, Gore started making “statements about the possibility of a complete lack of summer sea ice in the Arctic by as early as 2013,” fact-checker Snopes, which leans so hard left that it often falls over and has to pick itself up, said, before concluding that “Gore definitely erred in his use of preliminary projections and misrepresentations of research.”

Unwilling to fully call out one its own, Snopes added that “Arctic sea ice is, without question, on a declining trend.” A fact check shows that to be true. A deeper fact check, though, shows that while Arctic sea ice has been falling, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing.

Finally — just for today because sorting out Gore’s fabrications is an ongoing exercise — we remind readers of the British judge who found that “An Inconvenient Truth” contained “nine key scientific errors” and “ruled that it can only be shown with guidance notes to prevent political indoctrination,” the Telegraph reported in 2007.

Gore has been making declarative statements about global warming for about as long as he’s been in the public eye. He has yet to prove a single claim, though. But how can he? The few examples above show that despite his insistence to the contrary, his predictions have failed.

Even if all turned out to be more accurate than a local three-day forecast, there’s no way to say with 100% certainty that the extreme conditions were caused by human activity. Our climate is a complex system, there are too many other variables, and the science itself has limits, unlike Gore’s capacity to inflate the narrative.

Footnote: 

Lest anyone think this is all about altruism, Al Gore is positioned to become even more wealthy from the war on meat.

Generation Investment Management is connected to Kleiner Perkins, where former Vice President Al Gore is one of its partners and advisors.

Who’s Kleiner Perkins? It turns out they are Beyond Meat’s biggest investor, according to bizjournals.com here. Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company went public in May and just weeks later more than quadrupled in value.

Yes, Al Gore, partner and advisor to Kleiner Perkins, Beyond Meat’s big investor, stands to haul in millions, should governments move to restrict real meat consumption and force citizens to swallow the dubious substitutes and fakes.

If taken seriously, the World Research Institute Report, backed by Gore hacks, will help move the transition over to substitute meats far more quickly.

 

Supremes May Rein In Agency Lawmaking

This post consists of a legal discussion regarding undesirable outcomes from some Supreme Court rulings that gave excessive deference to Executive Branch Agency regulators. Relying on the so called “Chevron Deference” can result in regulations going beyond what congress intended by their laws.

Professor Mike Rappaport writes at Law and Liberty Replacing Chevron with a Sounder Interpretive Regime. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The Issue

The need for a new interpretive arrangement to replace Chevron is demonstrated by a climate change example cited at the end.

Importantly, this new arrangement would significantly limit agencies from using their legal discretion to modify agency statutes to combat new problems never envisioned by the enacting Congress. For example, when the Clean Air Act was passed, no one had in mind it would be addressed to anything like climate change. Yet, the EPA has used Chevron deference to change the meaning of the statute so that it can regulate greenhouse gases without Congress having to decide whether and in what way that makes sense.

Such discretion gives the EPA enormous power to pursue its own agenda without having to secure the approval of the legislative or judicial branches.

Background and Proposals

One of the most important questions within administrative law is whether the Supreme Court will eliminate Chevron deference. But if Chevron deference is eliminated, as I believe it should be, a key question is what should replace it. In my view, there is a ready alternative which makes sense as a matter of law and policy. Courts should not give agencies Chevron deference, but should provide additional weight to agency interpretations that are adopted close to the enactment of a statute or that have been followed for a significant period of time.

Chevron deference is the doctrine that provides deference to an administrative agency when it interprets a statute that it administers. In short, the agency’s interpretation will only be reversed if a court deems the interpretation unreasonable rather than simply wrong. Such deference means that the agency can select among the (often numerous) “reasonable” interpretations of a statute to pursue its agenda. Moreover, the agency is permitted to change from one reasonable interpretation to another over time based on its policy views. In conjunction with the other authorities given to agencies, such as the delegation of legislative power, Chevron deference constitutes a key part of agency power.

There is, however, a significant chance that the Supreme Court may eliminate Chevron deference. Two of the leaders of this movement are Justices Thomas and Gorsuch. But Chief Justice Roberts as well as Justices Alito and Kavanaugh have also indicated that they might be amenable to overturning Chevron. For example, in the Kisor case from this past term, which cut back on but declined to overturn the related doctrine of Auer deference, these three justices all joined opinions that explicitly stated that they thought Chevron deference was different from Auer deference, suggesting that Chevron might still be subject to overruling.

But if Chevron deference is eliminated, what should replace it? The best substitute for Chevron deference would be the system of interpretation employed in the several generations prior to the enactment of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under that system, as explained by Aditya Bamzai in his path-breaking article, judges would interpret the statute based on traditional canons of interpretation, including two—contemporaneous exposition and customary practice—that provide weight to certain agency interpretations.

Under the canon of contemporaneous exposition, an official governmental act would be entitled to weight as an interpretation of a statute (or of the Constitution) if it were taken close to the period of the enactment of the provision. This would apply to government acts by the judiciary and the legislature as well as those by administrative agencies. Thus, agency interpretations of statutes would be entitled to some additional weight if taken at the time of the statute’s enactment.

This canon has several attractive aspects. First, it has a clear connection to originalism. Contemporaneous interpretations are given added weight because they were adopted at the time of the law’s enactment and therefore are thought to be more likely to offer the correct interpretation—that is, one attuned to the original meaning. Second, this canon also promotes the rule of law by both providing notice to the public of the meaning of the statute and limiting the ability of the agency to change its interpretation of the law.

The second canon is that of customary practice or usage. Under this framework, an interpretation of a government actor in its official capacity would be entitled to weight if it were consistently followed over a period of time. Thus, the agency interpretation would receive additional weight if it became a regular practice, even if were not adopted at the time of statutory enactment.

The canon of customary practice has a number of desirable features. While it does not have a connection to originalism, it does, like contemporaneous exposition, promote the rule of law. Once a customary interpretation has taken hold, the public is better able to rely on the existing interpretation and the government is more likely to follow that interpretation.

Second, the customary interpretation may also be an attractive interpretation. That the interpretation has existed over a period of time suggests that it has not created serious problems of implementation that have led courts or the agency to depart from it. While the customary interpretation may not be the most desirable one as a matter of policy, it is unlikely to be very undesirable.

This traditional interpretive approach also responds to one of the principal criticisms of eliminating Chevron deference: that it will give significant power to a judiciary that lacks expertise and can abuse its authority. I don’t agree with this criticism, since I believe that judges are expert at interpreting statutes and are subject to less bias than agencies that exercise not merely executive power, but also judicial and legislative authority.

But even if one believed that the courts were problematic, this arrangement would leave the judiciary with much less power than a regime that provides no weight to agency interpretations. The courts would often be limited by agency interpretations that accorded with the canons—interpretations adopted when the statute was enacted or that were customarily followed. Since those interpretations would be given weight, the courts would often follow them. But while these interpretations would limit the courts, they would not risk the worst dangers of Chevron deference. This interpretive approach would not allow an agency essentially free reign to change its interpretation over time in order to pursue new programs or objectives. Once the interpretation is in place, the agency would not be able to secure judicial deference if it changed the interpretation.

Importantly, this new arrangement would significantly limit agencies from using their legal discretion to modify agency statutes to combat new problems never envisioned by the enacting Congress. For example, when the Clean Air Act was passed, no one had in mind it would be addressed to anything like climate change. Yet, the EPA has used Chevron deference to change the meaning of the statute so that it can regulate greenhouse gases without Congress having to decide whether and in what way that makes sense. Such discretion gives the EPA enormous power to pursue its own agenda without having to secure the approval of the legislative or judicial branches.

In short, if Chevron deference is eliminated, there is a traditional and attractive interpretive approach that can replace it. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will take the step it refused to take in Kisor and eliminate an unwarranted form of deference.

Left/Right Predisposed to Believe/Doubt Climatism

 

Patrick T. Brown writes at Quillette Empiricism and Dogma: Why Left and Right Can’t Agree on Climate Change. Excerpts initalics with my bolds.

Rather than thinking about the political divide on global warming as the result of dogma versus logic, a better explanation is that people tend to embrace conclusions—scientific or otherwise—that support themes, ideologies, and narratives that are preexisting components of their worldview. It just so happens that the themes, ideologies, and narratives associated with human-caused global warming and its proposed solutions align well with the political predispositions of the Left and create tension with those of the Right.

The definitional distinction between the political Right and the political Left originated during the French Revolution, and relates most fundamentally to the desirability and perceived validity of social hierarchies. Those on the Right see hierarchies as natural, meritocratic, and justified, while those on the Left see hierarchies primarily as a product of chance and exploitation. A secondary distinction, at least contemporarily in the West, is that those on the Right tend to emphasize individualism at the expense of collectivism and those on the Left prefer the reverse.

There are several aspects of the contemporary global warming narrative that align well with an anti-hierarchy, collectivist worldview. This makes the issue gratifying to the sensibilities of the Left and offensive to the sensibilities of the Right.

The most fundamental of these themes is the degree to which humanity itself can be placed at the top of the hierarchy of life on the planet. Those on the Right are more likely to privilege the interests of humanity over the interests of other species or the “interests” of the planet as a whole (to the degree that there is such a thing). On the other hand, those on the Left are more likely to emphasize a kind of pan-species egalitarianism and care for our shared environment, even if that means implementing policies that run counter to humans’ short-term interests.

Within humanity, there are at least two additional ways in which narratives about hierarchies influence thinking on global warming. One of these concerns attitudes towards developed versus developing countries. Firstly, the blame for global warming falls disproportionately on developed countries (in terms of historical greenhouse gas emissions) and proposed solutions therefore often call on developed countries to bear the brunt of the cost of reducing emissions going forward. (Additionally, it is argued that developed countries have the luxury of being able to afford increases in the cost of energy.) Overall, the solutions proposed for global warming imply that wealthy countries owe a debt to the rest of humanity that should be paid due at once.

Those on the Right are more likely to see the wealth of developed countries as rightfully earned by their own industriousness, while those on the Left are more likely to view the disproportionate wealth as fundamentally unjust and likely caused by exploitation. The idea that wealthy countries must therefore be penalized and made to subsidize poor countries is one that aligns well with the Left’s views about rebalancing unfairness. An accentuating factor is the Right’s tendency to favor national autonomy and therefore to oppose global governance and especially international redistribution.

Hierarchy narratives also help to determine political positions on the wealth of corporations and individuals. On the Right, oil and gas companies (as well as electric utilities that utilize fossil fuels) are held to be a product of innovation and a source of wealth creation; the smartest and most deserving people and organizations found the most efficient ways to transform idle fossil fuel resources into the power that runs society and, consequently, have greatly enhanced human wellbeing. For conservatives, it is therefore fundamentally unjust to blame those corporations and individuals that have done so much for human progress. The counter-narrative from the Left is that greedy corporations and individuals exploited natural resources for their own gain at the expense of the planet and the general public. They therefore support policies that blame and punish the fossil fuel industry in the name of cosmic justice and atonement.

Global warming is a tragedy of the commons, in which logical agents act in ways that run counter to the longterm interests of the group. These types of “collective-action problems” usually call for top-down government intervention at the expense of individual action and responsibility. Furthermore, the longterm nature of global warming demands acquiescence to collective action across generations. This natural alignment of the global warming problem with collectivist themes makes the issue much more palatable to the Left than the Right.

There is also the longstanding claim by those on the Right that the global warming issue is a Trojan Horse intended to bring about all manner of unrelated changes desired by the Left. Books like Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and initiatives like the Green New Deal have done nothing to dispel this fear. For example, the Green New Deal Resolution includes the following proposals:

    • Providing all people of the United States with—(i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
    • Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.
    • Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities, so those communities may be full and equal participants in the Green New Deal mobilization.

These objectives satisfy the Left’s policy goals. But, whatever the merits of those goals, it is not at all clear how they relate to global warming, if at all.

Conclusion

So, it should really not be particularly mysterious that opinions on global warming tend to divide along political lines. It is not because one side cleaves to dispassionate logic while the other remains obstinately wedded to political dogmatism. It is simply that the problem and its proposed solutions align more comfortably with the dogma of one side than the other. That does not mean, however, that the Left is equally out-of-step with the science of global warming as the Right. It really is the case that the Right is more likely to deny the most well-established aspects of the science. If skeptical conservatives are to be convinced, the Left must learn to reframe the issue in a way that is more palatable to their worldview.

Patrick T. Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University, California.

Comment: The analysis explains the predispositions of left and right toward the climate issue, but stops short of recognizing that doubters are motivated to seek contrary facts and information that contradict the climate suppositions. Those on the left already have massive social proof of their position, so little or no consideration of the technical facts is needed.  On the other hand, surveys show doubters tend to be more informed on the scientific research, having seen studies and findings not readily available in the biased mainstream media.

Footnote

See also Can Institutions Impose Climate Beliefs on Stakeholders?

Can Institutions Impose Climate Beliefs on Stakeholders?

Update July 31, 2019 at end

Stanley Kurtz writes at New Republic Fossil Fuel Divestment versus Institutional Neutrality: A North Carolina Test Case. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

An important test of “institutional neutrality” — a pillar of campus free speech — is now playing out in North Carolina, where the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) recently chose to divest a portion of its endowment from companies selling “fossil fuels” (coal, oil, and natural gas).

Institutional neutrality means that universities should avoid taking official political stands at the institutional level, such as divestment from fossil fuels, since such actions tend to pressure faculty and students holding contrary views into silence. This is particularly true for public universities such as UNCA, for they belong to every citizen of the state.

What makes the UNCA test case especially important is that two years ago North Carolina passed HB 527, one of the first comprehensive campus free-speech laws in the country. HB 527 not only affirms institutional neutrality as a foundational principle of campus free speech at UNC schools, it mandates that an annual report by a committee of the UNC Board of Governors (which oversees the entire state university system) weigh in on any “difficulties, controversies, or successes in maintaining a posture of administrative and institutional neutrality with regard to political or social issues.”

The question now is how the annual report, due in September, will handle this decision by a public university to throw in its lot with the fossil-fuel-divestment movement. More broadly, the question is whether the UNC Board of Governors will act to halt and reverse this clear violation of institutional neutrality by UNC Asheville. Students and administrators at UNCA intend their move to pressure the entire UNC system to divest. That means the UNC Board of Governors’ response to UNCA’s divestment bandwagon will have an enormous impact on the survival of institutional neutrality at every public campus in the state.

Students and faculty at public universities have every right to take whatever stand they like on issues like fossil-fuel divestment, climate change, and the Green New Deal. It is precisely the neutrality of public universities at the official institutional level that supports and guarantees the ability of individual faculty and students to freely speak their minds on these issues. Public universities shouldn’t have an official political line. We wouldn’t tolerate a public university endorsing Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, or Donald Trump for president. Nor should a public university throw its official institutional weight behind a thoroughly political movement whose aims are the subject of active, widespread, and unresolved public debate, particularly when state law cites the principle of institutional neutrality as an essential component of campus free speech.

True, UNC Asheville is known to lean heavily to the left, but that does not matter. After all, there are conservative students there as well; there is no political litmus test required and UNCA must remain open to all points of view. An institutional decision to divest from fossil fuels is like a neon sign flashing: “Conservatives need not apply.” Divestment purports to settle a political argument that students ought to be having with each other.

Determining whether a particular policy stand violates institutional neutrality always entails a degree of judgement. HB527 doesn’t ban institutional policy stands outright, because complete neutrality is impossible. Universities have to be able to advocate for a tuition increase, for example. That’s why North Carolina’s campus free speech law leaves it up to the system’s Board of Governors to weigh in on potential violations of neutrality. Nonetheless, it’s tough to see how a state that has enshrined the principle of institutional neutrality in law can fail to condemn fossil fuel divestment by a public university.

HB 527 begins by citing the University of Chicago’s famous 1967 Kalven Report as the classic articulation of the neutrality principle. While the Kalven Report acknowledges that there may be rare exceptions, it establishes a “heavy presumption against the university taking collective action or expressing opinions on the political and social issues of the day.” Such a stand, the report says, comes “at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted.” The Kalven Report emphasizes that the university “is not a lobby,” but instead must “maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures.” And universities do this precisely because they are obligated “to provide a forum for the most searching and candid discussion of political issues.” In other words, neutrality at the official institutional level encourages and makes possible free debate by members of the campus community. Or, as the Kalven Report puts it, “the instrument of dissent and criticism” is not the university but “the individual faculty member or the individual student.”

In 2015, President Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago, renowned for his support of campus free speech, invoked the Kalven Report to explain why his school would not divest from fossil fuels. When student advocates of divestment pointed out that even the Kalven Report allows for exceptions in certain circumstances, Zimmer said fossil fuel divestment was not such a case.

“We should … be very wary of steps intended to instrumentalize our endowment in ways that would appear to position the University as a political actor rather than an academic institution. Conceiving of the endowment not as an economic resource, but as a tool to inject the University into the political process or as a lever to exert economic pressure for social purposes, can entail serious risks to the independence of the academic enterprise. The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

UNC Asheville, in contrast, touts its decision to divest from fossil fuels as a “groundbreaking” move designed to lend “momentum” to a “movement” that it hopes will sweep the entire UNC system. UNCA Chancellor Nancy J. Cable called the decision “a defining moment” for the university. That’s the problem. Fossil-fuel divestment sends out a message that identifies the university on the official institutional level with a political movement that excludes — and is even directly at odds with — roughly half the taxpayers and potential students in North Carolina.

UNC Asheville is open about the fact that its decision was a direct response to student pressure for divestment.

And the political nature of the UNCA student fossil fuel divestment movement is evident. An opinion piece by leaders of UNCA Divest three months before the school’s final divestment decision, for example, positioned divestment as a repudiation of President Trump. Meanwhile, the UNCA school paper reports that many conservatives “feel like outcasts on campus.” How can UNC Asheville’s divestment decision fail to intensify and confirm that feeling, further chilling conservative speech? If anything, the school ought to be making of point of welcoming a wide range of student views on political issues.

Has UNC Asheville even thought about how its divestment decision might endanger free speech by creating an official university ideological line? Has it contemplated its decision in light of the new state law? Is the very concept of institutional neutrality and its importance for free speech even on the UNCA administration’s radar? Apparently not. In an excellent account of the UNCA neutrality controversy, Jay Schalin of North Carolina’s James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal reports that when asked whether divestment was at odds with the principle of institutional neutrality, UNCA issued a bland statement that failed even to address the question.

It’s evident that UNC Asheville’s decision to divest from fossil fuels was taken without any regard for the neutrality issue in general, or for the new state law in particular.

At this point, it’s tough to see how the forthcoming annual report mandated by HB 527 can fail to condemn UNC Asheville’s decision to divest from fossil fuels. The committee of the UNC Board of Governors charged with issuing the report is legally obligated to address controversies over institutional neutrality, and this is certainly such a controversy. On the face of it, fossil fuel divestment violates the principles of neutrality set forth in the University of Chicago’s Kalven Report, which is cited as authoritative by the new law. After all, the University of Chicago itself currently cites the Kalven Report to explain why it won’t divest from fossil fuels, and Harvard has made effectively the same argument. How much more is it vital for a public university to uphold institutional neutrality, given that the UNC system serves citizens in a state where the full range of American political views is robustly represented? Why should the taxpayers of North Carolina support institutions that turn themselves into political actors? It’s also perfectly clear that UNCA’s divestment decision was taken without any serious regard to the neutrality issue, much less the new law. In short, to allow UNC Asheville’s divestment decision to pass without condemnation in the annual oversight report would be to violate the fundamental intent of HB 527.

North Carolina must prevent the thoroughgoing politicization of an important state university system by upholding institutional neutrality — one of the central pillars of campus free speech and a principle now enshrined in North Carolina state law. If UNC Asheville’s fossil fuel divestment decision holds — or worse, spreads as planned through the entire UNC system — the clear intent of HB 527 will have been violated, and the system’s Board of Governors will have failed to protect the state’s students from unwanted, unneeded, and thoroughly inappropriate ideological pressure. If, on the other hand, the UNC system reverses Asheville’s divestment decision and literally lays down the law on institutional neutrality, it will confirm North Carolina’s reputation as a leader of the movement to restore free speech at America’s public colleges and universities. We should know more by September, when the Board of Governors’ committee report is due.

Footnote Update July 31, 2019

Reuters provides additional evidence that climate opinions are divided along political lines.  H/T GWPF

Climate Discussion Nexus explains: (in italics with my bolds)

Reuters reports that a poll it did with Ipsos shows “Democrats are far more likely to believe droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tropical storms have become more frequent or intense where they live in the last decade”. And of course polls are likely to show wide disagreement on all manner of subjects, especially among political partisans. But even in these broad-minded times, there’s one thing we should all agree on: If two people argue about whether, say, hurricanes have become more frequent or intense where they live, they can’t both be right and it is possible to check.

Reuters agrees, rejecting fashionable relativism on this topic at least. Nevertheless you can guess which side it thinks is right: it sides with the Democrats. “U.S. government researchers have concluded that tropical cyclone activity, rainfall, and the frequency of intense single-day storms have been on the rise, according to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Really? Where? When? We have pretty good data on tropical cyclones in particular and they aren’t increasing.

Neither are US floods.  Well, what about the other stuff including droughts?

People who bother to check will thereafter doubt claims that these things are all increasing, so if Republicans are doubters, maybe it just means they looked up the numbers. And you don’t win the argument by appealing to the speculative future. “’We do expect to see more intense storms,’ said David Easterling, a spokesman for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.” Expect to see? Wasn’t the topic what we’d already seen?

Silly Republicans. “An overwhelming majority of scientists believe human consumption of fossil fuels is driving sweeping changes in the global climate by ramping up the concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. But it is impossible to draw a direct link between the changes in U.S. weather in the recent past to the larger trend of warming.” Whereas an innuendo about the indirect links, followed by a snide reference to Donald Trump, should do the trick. “President Donald Trump has cast doubt on the science of climate change… Still, a majority of Republicans believe the United States should take “aggressive action” to combat global warming, Reuters polling shows.”

Good old Reuters polling. The story goes on to note that “Liberals are more likely to expose themselves to news outlets and people who believe climate change is an urgent threat that affects current weather patterns.” Like Reuters, for instance.

 

IPCC Scientists: Setting a Climate Deadline is Dangerous

Recently published in Nature is a comment article Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous by
Shinichiro Asayama, Rob Bellamy, Oliver Geden, Warren Pearce & Mike Hulme.

H/T Robert Walker, who explains in his post at Science 2.0 Should IPCC Openly Challenge ‘Only 12 Years To Save Planet’ Deadline Rhetoric? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Ever since the IPCC report in 2018, there’s been an increasing surge of doomist reporting, to the point that it is no surprise that there are many of our youngsters are naturally depressed and suicidal, thinking there is little point in life, and that they won’t live to be adults. Others are leading the way with politically unrealistic demands that we decarbonize completely within 12 years. These new requirements they are making are not supported at all by science, rather they are a result of emotional rhetoric, journalistic exaggerations, and junk science that they do not know how to evaluate correctly. The situation is indeed urgent. We are already doing much, we need to ramp up quickly, but we do not have only 12 years to do it. Also, the future does not risk collapse of civilization or human extinction on any scenario.

The paper is called Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous and it says in its subtitle / short abstract:

The publication of the IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C paved the way for the rise of the political rhetoric of setting a fixed deadline for decisive actions on climate change. However, the dangers of such deadline rhetoric suggest the need for the IPCC to take responsibility for its report and openly challenge the credibility of such a deadline.

Journalists have been saying that we have twelve years to act to save the planet. Now many are “upping the ante” and saying we have only 18 months, with the implication that if we don’t do very drastic action by 2020, then civilization will collapse and humans likely go extinct. They use very emotive words such as that this action is needed for our very survival. Many of our youngsters, and adults too, take this quite literally, they think that by the time they reach adulthood, in a little over a decade, the world will no longer have any humans in it, that our civilization and species will be gone. This is why I think it is a responsibility for science bloggers like myself and journalists to speak up against this.

But the authors say the situation has got so out of hand that the IPCC should say something to make it clear how badly they have been misrepresented in the media. They argue, basically, that to stay silent in this situation is the more political thing to do. It is to give tacit report to this doomist framing. This also is an important and valid point. I hear that a lot – if the journalists are wrong, scared people ask, why don’t the IPCC say?

If you listen to what the IPCC themselves say, they do not talk about a risk of human extinction or collapse of civilization. There is no mention of such ideas anywhere in the report, or the press conference the journalists attended, their response to questions or the short summaries by the co-chairs. That is all JOURNALISTIC INVENTION, HYPERBOLE, SIMPLIFIED CLIMATE SLOGANS, AND JUNK SCIENCE.