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?

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Spaceship Earth Ideology Officers

The image above is from the Hunt for Red October (1990). Sean Connery played Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Soviet submarine captain, here in a confrontation with the on board Political Officer Ivan Putin, responsible to ensure the crew conforms to the Communist Party Line and Directives.

The real life parallel to the submarine drama is reported at New Scientist Journal criticised for study claiming sun is causing global warming. Excerpts in italics with my bolds. (H/T GWPF)

A high profile scientific journal is investigating how it came to publish a study suggesting that global warming is down to natural solar cycles. The paper was criticised by scientists for containing “very basic errors” about how Earth moves around the sun.

The study was published online on 24 June by Scientific Reports, an open access journal run by Nature Research, which also lists the prestigious Nature journal among its titles. A spokesperson told New Scientist that it is aware of concerns raised over the paper, which was authored by four academics based at Northumbria University, the University of Bradford and the University of Hull, all in the UK, plus the Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory in Azerbaijan.

The authors suggest that Earth’s 1°C temperature rise over the past two centuries could largely be explained by the distance between Earth and the sun changing over time as the sun orbits around our solar system’s barycentre, its centre of mass. The phenomenon would see temperatures rise a further 3°C by 2600, they say.

Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh, UK, criticised the paper for an “elementary” mistake about celestial mechanics. “It’s well known that the sun moves around the barycentre of the solar system due to the influence of the other solar system bodies, mainly Jupiter,” he says. “This does not mean, as the paper is claiming, that this then leads to changes in the distance between the sun and the Earth.”

“The claim that we will see warming in the coming centuries because the sun will move closer to the Earth as it moves around the solar system barycentre is very simply wrong,” adds Rice. He is urging the journal to withdraw the paper, and says it is embarrassing it was published.

Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies says the paper contains egregious errors. “The sun-Earth distance does not vary with the motion of the sun-Earth system around the barycentre of the sun-Jupiter system, nor the sun-galactic centre system or any other purely mathematical reference point,” he says. He says the journal must retract the paper if it wants to retain any credibility.

The Dispute

Michael Brown of Monash University in Australia lamented uncritical media coverage of the paper in Australia.

Following criticism of the paper, lead author Valentina Zharkova, of Northumbria University, described Rice as a “climate alarmist” in an online discussion.

“The close links between oscillations of solar baseline magnetic field, solar irradiance and temperature are established in our paper without any involvement of solar inertial motion,” Zharkova told New Scientist.

Scientific Reports says it has begun an “established process” to investigate the paper it has published. “This process is ongoing and we cannot comment further at this stage,” a spokesperson said.

Ken Rice has form as a Climate Ideology Officer having led a successful take down of Hermann Harde’s paper showing human CO2 emissions are only 4% of atmospheric CO2, which is only 0.04% of the air. Rice declared at the outset: “Any paper concluding that humans are not causing the rise in CO2 is obviously wrong.” He and fellow ideology officers quickly cobbled together an attack paper which was immediately published in the journal. Harde wrote a paper describing the errors and misconstructions in the attack paper, but his response was denied publication, sealing the issue in favor of the party line. This saga of censorship can be read at No Tricks Zone article AGW Gatekeepers Censor The CO2-Climate Debate By Refusing To Publish Author’s Response To Criticism

Now Rice and his gang are at it again, this time targeting lead author Valentina Zharkova. The tactics are familiar, starting with outrage against findings deviating from their beliefs, in this case the notion that the sun could in any way influence the climate. The comment thread shows the intensity and venom applied to digging up any mistake, no matter how trivial or peripheral to the central argument. These are declared “egregious” and justification to ignore and censor the contrary understanding of nature.

The comment thread started 9 days ago: Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale

Zharkova stands her ground, though always on the defensive and surrounded by a pack of attackers. Rice, as usual, displays his mastery of the English language to demean and undermine while appearing to be reasonable. His Russian opponent is clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to putdowns.

I don’t know enough to judge the substance of the claims, or the pertinence of the details, but can observe that the intensity shows how much is at stake for the attackers. A major irony is that Zharkova forecasts significant warming in the future, which would seem to confirm the warmists’ expectations. However, since she puts the sun as the cause, the finding pulls the rug from under anti-fossil fuel activists, hence the outrage. This also shows the dispute is not about climate or temperature, but about politics.

Footnote:

Michael Mann has been the most aggressive Inquisitor against climate heretics. In his book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” he presented an analogy to explain why he and other researchers have become the objects of such fierce public scrutiny and vilification, which he terms “the Serengeti strategy.” Likening climate scientists to zebras, he writes, “The climate change deniers isolate individual scientists just as predators on the Serengeti Plain of Africa hunt their prey: picking off vulnerable individuals from the rest of the herd.” He asserts that he and others have become targets because their findings challenge the entrenched fossil-fuel industries, which have tried to discredit them.

No one has more chutzpah than M. Mann, he and his pack applying the Serengeti strategy repeatedly against scientists finding other factors than CO2 driving climate changes, all the while claiming to be a victim rather than a predator.

Climate Zealots Throw Sand into Energy Supply

Roger Conrad reports on how the US energy infrastructure is hobbled by climate activists empowered by funds and lawyers. His article at Forbes is Best Bets On Pipeline Politics. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But barely two years back, permits for new US oil and especially natural gas pipelines were basically a formality.

Back then, the only US pipeline facing significant regulatory hurdles was TC Energy Corp’s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Alberta oil sands to US markets. And on the day the Obama Administration rejected that project for the final time, officials actually approved two oil pipelines elsewhere.

Everything changed following the November 2016 presidential election. Congress’ failure in 2016 to fill empty seats on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission led to the lack of quorum in early 2017.

New approvals ground to a halt for nearly six months. That gave “keep it in the ground” advocates precious time to tap into record fundraising, fueled by a groundswell of opposition to Trump Administration policies.

One result has been legal challenges to projects on an unprecedented scale at multiple venues. Work on Enbridge Inc’s (ENB, ENB) Line 3 pipeline expansion, for example, is now completed in Canada as well as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Project suspended in June 2017.

Courts, however, have overturned Minnesota regulators’ prior approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement. That’s forced officials to go through the process again, delaying completion at least until the second half of 2020.

We’ve also seen a decided shift to more restrictive energy politics in several states, notably Colorado. Others like New York have dug in further in refusing to grant water permits from long-delayed projects like the Constitution Pipeline. That’s triggered warnings of prospective natural gas shortages from New York City’s distribution utility Consolidated Edison ED +0% (ED), which is restricting new customer additions.

Time equals money when it comes to multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates a $2.75 million cost increase per mile of planned pipeline for every one-quarter delay in construction. The projected final cost of the Line 3 expansion, for example, is already billions higher than initial estimates.

Consequently, the game being played by pipeline opponents is to delay. That means mounting enough challenges to ramp up costs and ultimately convince developers to walk away. And for the first time, they have the funds to do the job.

Project abandoned in April 2016.

Opponents have been particularly successful quashing projects in New England and the Northeast US. To date, they’ve failed in Texas, where several giant pipelines are under construction. Kinder Morgan KMI +0% Inc (KMI) has one major gas pipeline from the Permian Basin coming on full stream later this year. It has another next year and a third in early stages of development.

Ground zero now in pipeline politics is the struggle of two projects in the Middle Atlantic/Southeast US to cross the Appalachian Trail: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

These projects’ ultimate success or failure will have a huge impact on the long-term profitability of Appalachia-based gas and oil producers, which are sitting on huge reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale. Ironically, the longer they’re delayed, the greater demand will be for Texas energy and by extension new pipelines in the state.

That will benefit Texas developers like Kinder Morgan and Plains All-American Pipeline (PAA), which is focused on oil. And it will hit pipeline companies in the East like EQM Midstream Partners LP (EQM), which faces a massive writeoff if the Mountain Valley Pipeline can’t win through.

To be sure, natural gas development especially still has plenty of support in the US. Replacing older coal-fired facilities with gas, for example, reduces operating costs and electricity rates. New plants increase utilities’ rate base, spurring earnings and dividend growth. And the prospective environmental benefits are enormous, cutting future legal liabilities.

Gas emits none of coal’s particulate matter, which is blamed for a host of respiratory woes. It emits no acid rain gases that have caused billions in property damage and creates no toxic ash.

As for carbon dioxide, equivalent sized gas power plants emit less than half what coal does. In fact, gas adoption is the single biggest reason America is still meeting greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris Accords. Finally, surging US energy production has dramatically shifted global energy politics, demonstrated by the relative lack of reaction in oil prices to elevated tensions in the Persian Gulf.

During the Obama years, those facts were more than enough to hold together a consensus for US natural gas development. And the result was a relatively easy path for pipeline approvals.

These days, that’s not enough for pipelines to succeed. The silver lining is the more difficult it becomes to build, the more valuable existing infrastructure and ultimately successful projects will be.

In the days when pipeline approvals were swift, any company raising funds economically could get projects built. These days, would-be developers need to be financially and operationally strong enough to handle legal challenges wherever they occur.

Footnote:  The Climatist Manifesto

Mission: Deindustrialize Civilization

Goal: Drive industrial corporations into Bankruptcy

Strategy: Cut off the Supply of Cheap, Reliable Energy

Tactics:

  • Raise the price of fossil fuels
  • Force the power grid to use expensive, unreliable renewables
  • Demonize Nuclear energy
  • Spread fear of extraction technologies such as fracking
  • Increase regulatory costs on energy production
  • Scare investors away from carbon energy companies
  • Stop pipelines because they are too safe and efficient
  • Force all companies to account for carbon usage and risk

See Also Why People Rely on Pipelines

Payback Upon Climate Grasshoppers

 

 

Climate Politics: Elites vs. Workers

Chuck DeVore at Forbes connects the dots between three recent events suggesting that progressive warmists are increasingly opposed by workers who used to vote with them. Devore describes a divide in the US electorate, but there are comparable stresses in European countries like France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and others. His article is How Tesla, Crony Corporate Welfare, And The Green New Deal Portend A Coming Political Realignment. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A series of three seemingly unconnected events over five days in Ohio and California hint at a fundamental political realignment, underscoring the fragility of the American left’s coalition going into the 2020 election.

There is a growing, and likely irreparable, rift between elite progressive environmentalists who are accustomed to dominating the narrative within the Democratic Party and—to a slightly lesser extent, within the major media—and blue-collar workers, especially those in the trades that build the nation.

First, on May 29, ten Democrats in the Ohio State House joined 43 Republicans to pass House Bill 6 and send it to the Senate. HB 6, which eliminates the state’s renewable portfolio standard for electricity, was opposed by environmental groups who feared it would slow the development of wind and solar power in favor of nuclear power and even coal. Free market groups also opposed the measure for its $300 million in subsidies they labeled “corporate welfare.” When Democrats join Republicans to mount a direct challenge to the principles of the Green New Deal, it indicates that Ohio, and other key swing states, may be beyond reach to any presidential candidate touting the wholesale elimination of nuclear and coal-fired power.

Then on June 1, Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, won a seven-way election to chair the California Democratic Party with 57% of the vote in the first round of balloting against more progressive opponents. As reported in Politico, Hicks’ labor colleagues mounted a “Blue Collar Revolution” demonstration at the California Democratic Party convention in San Francisco the day of his convincing win. The goal of the convention protest was to warn party regulars that labor will walk if the Green New Deal moves forward, threatening jobs. In May, the same labor group protested Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s version of the Green New Deal, chanting, “Garcetti’s gotta go.”

Finally, on June 3, Bloomberg reported that Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has made $2 billion since 2010 by selling fuel economy credits to General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU). The credits were likely purchased to comply with the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, passed during Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first time leading the House.

This $2 billion transfer from GM and Fiat Chrysler to Tesla amounted to about $4,000 per electric car delivered—on top of the $7,500 credit buyers of the first 200,000 Teslas could claim on their federal income tax returns. Just the $2 billion in CAFE transfer payments alone had the effect of adding almost $100 to the price of a of a Chevy Silverado or a Dodge Ram to subsidize an electric car purchase by what was, on average, a white, non-Hispanic man with no children at home making $143,177 per year. In 2017, half of U.S. households had income below $61,372.

GM is said to be in the market to buy more credits to hedge their bets should President Trump lose reelection and mileage (and emissions) credits become more valuable due to a renewed government mandate for electric vehicles. Political observers should expect that government support for Tesla and its mercurial founder, Elon Musk, will become fodder for the 2020 campaign.

The cash transfers involved in making the Green New Deal a reality run into the trillions, dwarfing Tesla’s mere billions of subsidies. Noting the looming challenge of reconciling the ambitious reordering of the economy in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Jessica Levinson, a professor who teaches politics and ethics at Loyola Law School, said, “The Green New Deal may be the darling of the Democratic Party — but it really divides the Democrats on a fault line, which is more of the elites against the working class Democrats who are concerned about losing their jobs.”

And while politicians who support the Green New Deal contend that they will spend billions to retrain workers who lose their jobs because of the newly planned economy, Levinson notes that workers in the skilled trades “don’t necessarily want to be retrained… nor is it even possible.”

This is largely the reason why America’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, has registered its opposition to the Green New Deal.

How the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president reconcile their near-unanimous support of a vastly expensive and economically disruptive environmental plan with beating President Trump in key swing states that feature a strong jobs base in manufacturing and extractive industries such as natural gas production, will be a difficult political task.

 

Economists as “Useful Idiots” for Green Socialists

Robert P. Murphy writes at Mises Wire Economists Have Been “Useful Idiots” for the Green Socialists. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In the old Soviet Union, the Communists allegedly used the term “useful idiot” to describe Westerners whose naïve political views furthered the Soviet agenda, even though these Westerners didn’t realize that they were being exploited in such fashion. It is in this context that I confidently declare that American economists have been useful idiots for the green socialists pushing extreme climate change policies. The radical environmentalists were quite happy to embrace the economic concepts of “Pigovian negative externalities” and a carbon tax in the past, but now that it is impossible for economic science to endorse their desired agenda, the activists have discarded the entire field as hopelessly out of touch. Economists who still support a carbon tax and other climate “mitigation policies” should be aware of the bigger picture.

Using the UN’s Own Document to Defeat the Climate Change Agenda

I have been making this case for years. For example, back in 2014 I used the latest (and still most recent) UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to show that the then-popular climate change target of 2 degrees Celsius of warming could not be justified by the research summarized in the report. In other words, I used the UN’s own report to show that the popular climate change “cures” would be worse than the disease.

Yet even though they had spent years berating the critics of government action as “climate deniers” who rejected the “consensus science,” in this case — once they realized that the economic models of climate change wouldn’t support aggressive intervention—the environmental activists all of a sudden began pointing out all the things that the UN-endorsed studies left out. Rather than summarizing the cutting edge knowledge on climate science and mitigation policies, the IPCC document turned into a bunch of misleading nonsense that would give ammunition to deniers.

Nobel Laureate Inconveniently Blows Up the Paris Agreement

Last fall, we had another demonstration of the chasm between the actual research and the media/political treatment: William Nordhaus won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on climate change, on the same weekend that the UN released a “special report” advising governments on how to try to limit global warming to as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius.

There was just one little problem: Nordhaus’ Nobel-winning work clearly showed that the UN’s goal was insane. According to his model, it would literally be better for governments around the world to do nothing about climate change, rather than enact policies limiting warming to 1.5°C. Rather than aiming for a 1.5°C target, Nordhaus’ most recent model runs indicated that the “optimal” amount of warming to allow was closer to 3.5°C. (To an outsider this might not seem like a huge discrepancy, but it is absolutely gigantic in the context of the climate change policy debate. Many activists would confidently predict that even 2.5°C of warming would spell disaster for our grandchildren.)

The Guardian’s Slam Dunk

Ah, but I got the best confirmation of my quixotic position just this month, when the Guardian ran an editorial with this subtitle (my highlighting):

Does everybody see that? The people at the Guardian already know what the policy answers are, without needing any help from the economists.

Conclusion

My economist colleagues who continue to urge for a “carbon tax swap deal” in order to get rid of “onerous top-down regulations” and enact a simple “price on carbon” are fooling themselves. Whether it’s in a ballot initiative in Washington State—literally designed by an environmental economist, or in the wonky columns of Vox’s climate expert, in the political calculus of Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, or in the FAQ on the Green New Deal itself, the environmental activists in US politics are making it quite clear that they will not settle for such half-measures.

Market-friendly economists chiming in on the American political scene should stop being useful idiots for the green socialists. Whatever the possible merits of a theoretical carbon tax package—in which a regressive hike in energy prices is matched dollar-for-dollar with corporate income tax cuts, and decades of special-interest favoring regulations are thrown out the window in the zeal for efficiency—this is all a moot point. If market-friendly economists succeed in getting their readers to hold their noses and support a carbon tax, they will all learn quite quickly that the deal has been altered.

From Climate Change, Holy Government Deliver us!

The nearly religious appeal to government to fix the “climate problem” is childlike, even in the mouths of progressive politicians.  James L. Payne writes at the The Foundation for Economic Education How to Talk to Children about Climate Change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

If in coming years we hope to curb the naive governmental interventions that bring so much ruin to the world, we need to address this belief in the efficacy of government.

We smile at seeing those young faces waving placards out in the rain, urging action on the problem of climate change. But our smile is tinged with frustration, with the feeling that the youngsters live in another dimension and that we don’t know how to reach them intellectually.

How They See It

The natural impulse is to want to explain how crushingly complicated is this issue. First, we point out, there is the uncertainty about the connection between human-released CO2 and storms, floods and fires, and all the other bad things that might happen. Then we want to explain that cutting down on CO2 is not easy, that everyone will have to make great sacrifices.

One has to weigh the different possible benefits that might come from stopping (or slowing) global warming against the costs of trying to counter it. This cost-benefit analysis involves a bundle of economic and moral questions. (For a good overview of the complexities of the climate change issue, read former NASA scientist Roy W. Spencer’s 2008 book Climate Confusion.) For example, would saving butterfly X from extinction (assuming we could guarantee it) counterbalance the harm done to the working poor by taking $1,000 a year from each of them in a carbon tax? And so on.

However, I think this impulse to debate the complexities of the issue is misguided. The activists do not base their position on reasoning and calculations. The Climate Kids don’t come to their demonstrations pushing wheelbarrows full of cost-benefit analyses. Most of them don’t even know what cost-benefit analysis is. More importantly, they don’t think they need to know about it.

This is because, in their way of looking at the world, it is not their responsibility to fix society’s problems. That task belongs to a higher power, to government. Their mission is simply to beseech this higher power to act. Once it decides to act, they believe, government has all the expertise needed to make the correct calculations and the ability to craft policies that solve the problem without significantly hurting anybody—well, anybody except the very rich.

We should not be all that surprised by their deep, instinctive trust of government. It is a social predisposition, one that affects all of us to some degree. The belief in government’s wisdom and power is imparted to children very early in life as an article of faith, like the belief in Santa Claus. As children grow up, they begin to notice that government has flaws and that political leaders are not as wise as originally supposed. As a result, their faith in government declines somewhat, so that by age 30, as traditional wisdom has it, most people grow somewhat skeptical about government’s ability to cure the world’s problems.

But not everyone, and especially not today’s climate activists. Faced with a staggeringly complex cost-benefit analysis that has most of us (older) folks scratching our heads, they are brimming with certainty that catastrophe is coming, and government can fix whatever is wrong.

Government Can’t Save the Planet

We were given a telling illustration of this simplistic faith earlier this year when 29-year-old US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presented her “Green New Deal” proposal. This House resolution mentions dozens of dangers and problems that she believes to be connected with climate change, from mass migrations, wildfires, and the loss of coral reefs to declining life expectancy, wage stagnation, and the racial wealth divide.

How are these all problems to be solved? Ms. Ocasio-Cortez does not propose any specific law or regulation. She does not advocate, let’s say, a 16 percent carbon tax and assure us that, according to her calculations, this measure will save 61 percent of the coral reefs, and prevent 53 percent of wildfires while reducing the income of the poor by only 8.2 percent.

Like the schoolchildren demonstrating in the street, she leaves the task of figuring out the specific answers to a higher power. Indeed, her resolution begins with this appeal to the higher power: “It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” Thus runs the thoughtless faith in government, a faith so deep that even an activist who literally is the government herself looks to “government” to solve problems she can’t begin to analyze.

testers-will-become-extinct-600x330

If in coming years we hope to curb the naive governmental interventions that bring so much ruin to the world, we need to address this belief in the efficacy of government. We need to urge our young idealists to remember that government is not a god with magical powers to fix any problem we notice but an imperfect agency composed of fallible human beings. One way to begin this conversation is to pose this question: “Given what you know about the people who have been in charge of government, is it reasonable to expect, in the future, a high level of rationality and responsibility from government?”

Dr. James L. Payne is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and author. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, and he has taught political science at a number of universities including Yale University.

Summary

As the stool above shows, the climate change package sits on three premises. The first is the science bit, consisting of an unproven claim that observed warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The second part rests on impact studies from billions of research dollars spent uncovering any and all possible negatives from warming. And the third leg is climate policies showing how governments can “fight climate change.”

It has warmed since the Little Ice Age with many factors involved, most of which are orders of magnitude more powerful than CO2.  Secondly, the last 1.5C of warming was a boon to humans and nature, and the next 1.5C will likely also benefit the world.  Finally it is naive to believe in government fixing the climate to prevent further warming.  Expensive, intermittent wind and solar power is the proposed solution, which accounts for just 2% of global energy consumed, and has proven disastrous anywhere it has been tried.  In the meantime the children are appeased by declaring a “climate emergency.”  Wake up and get real.

Are you wealthy enough to believe in Climate Change?

Some insights from an article by Adam Brickley in the Daily Signal Australia’s Election Shock Shows the Perils of Moralizing Climate Change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

One post-mortem on the election from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation pointed out the wealth issue thusly:

In [Warringah’s] case and in other inner-city seats, support for climate action looks broadly consistent with a “post-materialist” sensibility. … Here the emphasis on quality of life over immediate economic and physical needs encourages a focus on issues like climate change. But this is a sensibility that speaks to those in higher socio-economic brackets, and principally with higher levels of education.

Put more bluntly, climate-based politics appeal primarily to those insulated from the potential economic consequences of climate policies by their high incomes, and shielded from even seeing those effects by their urbanized lifestyles.

Those not materially blessed enough to live as “post-materialists,” however, still make their decisions based on what it takes to put food on the table, pay the rent, and provide for their families.

This sort of growing rich-poor political divide is not unique to Australia. In Israel, working-class Israelis have solidified behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while wealthy areas swing strongly against him.

In the United States, Donald Trump won states like Michigan and Wisconsin while some of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the House.

It’s not just that the working class is drifting right. The upper classes, especially in gentrifying inner cities, are gravitating hard to a left that is increasingly focused on perceived moral issues and less interested in bread-and-butter economics.

However, there is one key difference that makes Australia unique. Perhaps more than any other nation, Australia has seen climate change loom over its politics for over a decade.

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made it the signature issue of his premiership from 2007-2010, with at least one costly program literally going up in flames. Rudd’s plan to re-insulate Australian homes for energy efficiency failed to account for the flammability of the new insulation and led to the deaths of four workers.

In 2009, Rudd’s cap-and-trade proposal caused a massive split in the Liberal Party when then-party leader Malcolm Turnbull tried to force the party to support Rudd on the issue—leading the party’s legislators to remove him and replace him with anti-cap-and-trade leader Tony Abbott.

Australia has been through “climate change elections” before, and experimented with environmental policy as much as any nation on Earth. The results illustrate what happens when politics becomes centered on creating a “better world” by making life harder in the real world.

Such ideas may gain traction among those who know they can afford to weather the storm, and the rich can condemn the poor for their “materialism” in rejecting the new order, but working people (rightly) prioritize feeding their children as a higher moral goal.

Given that Australia’s ever-shifting politics has sometimes drawn comparisons to “Game of Thrones,” perhaps it’s worth noting that Australian Labor and Daenerys Targaryen learned the same lesson in their big finales this weekend: No matter how lofty your aims, there’s little morality in burning the world down in the name of building a better one.

Cynical Climate Politics

Lots of politicians in the US are grinding the climate ax, but the most cynical play of the climate card is on display in Canada. At Financial Post Gwyn Morgan describes how PM Trudeau is relying on global warming to escape electoral disaster in upcoming federal elections. His article: In choosing to mislead Canadians on climate change, the Liberals are basing their election campaign on a known lie. After describing a list of Trudeau missteps and failures widely criticized in the media, Morgan gets into the climate ploy. Excerpts intalics with my bolds.

So how does a government that can’t campaign on its record go about gaining re-election? By building its campaign around an issue where voters can see them as heroes fighting to save the planet against uncaring opponents. That issue is climate change and their weapon to fight it is carbon taxation. Winning re-election with this strategy requires convincing voters there’s a “climate emergency.” And so on April 1, the day the federal carbon tax kicked in on provinces unwilling to impose a tax that met the Liberals’ requirements, the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change released a supposedly independent report claiming “Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.”

[Note: Friends of Science deconstructed that report in post Climate Change NOT as Advertised, and Ross McKitrick dispelled the logic in Climate Hearsay ]

From now until the election, Canadians will hear Trudeau and his cabinet members blame every weather event, wet, dry, cold or warm on climate change. And the urgent need for a carbon tax to stop it. When the prime minister recently visited flood-ravaged areas in Quebec, he called the floods “the new reality of climate change.” But experts attribute the recent flooding to one of the longest, coldest, highest-snowfall winters on record. Isn’t climate change supposed to be about global warming?

Convincing Canadians of the need for carbon taxation is just the first element of the Liberals’ re-election strategy. Their most powerful — and cynical — tactic is their promise to give most taxpayers a bigger carbon-tax refund than what they will supposedly pay in carbon taxes. How is that possible? The answer is that individuals will get the refunds, while businesses bear the full cost. In other words, tax the job creators and use that money to bribe the voters.

The principal gladiators leading the Liberal carbon-tax forces are Trudeau and his eco-passionate environment minister, Catherine McKenna. The defenders opposing them in the carbon-tax coliseum are the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, along with federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Scheer will have most of the spears trained on him. McKenna recently accused him of “having no climate plan.” But unlike the Liberals, Scheer’s climate plan needs to be based on the fundamental fact that Canadians could all move to Mars tomorrow and it would have virtually zero impact on global climate change. Here’s why.

Many Canadians have been led to believe (with the help of Liberal misinformation) that oil is a sunset industry. But the consensus of authoritative forecasts sees growth in developing countries pushing world oil demand from the current 100 million barrels per day to at least 110 million by 2030. Here’s the question Canadians should be asking: If world oil demand is going up anyway, why should Canada cede the market for our most important export to Russia, Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia — countries that don’t care about the environment and have horrendous human rights records? At the same time, hundreds of coal-fired power plants are under construction in China, India and Southeast Asia. (Vietnam, one of the smallest countries in that region, has new coal plants under construction that could end up producing more carbon dioxide emissions than all of Canada.)

As good little scout Canada struggles mightily to meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord, the vast majority of nations on the planet have already given up on the pact. Last year, global greenhouse gas emissions grew by an estimated 2.7 per cent. So if Canada’s economy had simply ceased to exist, our 1.6 per cent of global emissions would have been replaced in just seven months.

These are irrefutable facts. So the decision by the Trudeau Liberals to base their election campaign on the assertion that reducing our country’s relatively tiny emissions will help fight climate change can only be explained in one of two ways. First, Trudeau and his team are breathtakingly unaware of facts anyone can learn through an afternoon of Googling. Second, they choose to mislead Canadians in a desperate bid for re-election. That would mean they choose to base their election campaign on a known lie.

So what should Canada actually do about climate change? The clearest answer was recently offered by a man in hip waders, who was filling sandbags to help with the flooding in Central Canada. When he was asked by a reporter what should be done to prevent the floods, he said this: “Well, there’s all this talk about climate change, but I don’t see what Canada can do about that when China and other countries keep burning more. If that’s going to cause more floods, we’d better figure out how we can be ready for them.”

That’s the most common-sense analysis I’ve heard. Instead of throwing away billions of dollars subsidizing costly and impractical “green power” and handing taxpayer money to buyers of electric cars, let’s redirect those billions to risk mitigation and homeowner compensation. In the case of floods, dikes and dams need to be improved where practical. Homeowners in unprotected flood plains should also be offered the full replacement cost to move, as Alberta did after the floods of 2013. After all, it’s flawed government zoning that put people in the flood plain and created the problem; it’s only fair to homeowners that government make things right. Forest-fire risk can be mitigated by underbrush removal, regulatory setback distances and fire-resistant building materials.

A Conservative climate-change mitigation strategy based on the common-sense words of that flood worker would make Canadians much better prepared for climate change. And it has the added benefit of actually telling Canadians the truth about the climate-change challenge. That would be Andrew Scheer’s most important difference from Justin Trudeau.

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of Encana Corp.

Footnote:

A master class in exploiting global warming for political gain was portrayed in the British comedy series Yes Prime Minister

Transcript of video is at Yes PM Pokes Fun at Climatism

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

 

 

About Canadian Warming: Just the Facts

Just in time for the Trudeau carbon tax taking effect, we have all the media trumpeting “Canada Warming Twice as Fast as Global Rate–Effectively Irreversible.”  That was written by some urban-dwelling climate illiterates who are woefully misinformed.  Let’s help them out with some facts surprising to people who don’t get out much.  Unfortunately ignored this week was an informative CBC publication that could have spared us “fake news” spewing across the land, from Bonavista to Vancouuver Island, as the song says.

Surprising Facts About Canada are presented in a CBC series 10 Strange Facts About Canada’s Climate  Excerpts below provide highlights in italics with my bolds.

Through blistering cold winters to hot muggy summers; torrential rain, blinding snowstorms, deadly tornados and scorching drought, Canadians experience some of the planet’s most diverse weather systems.  [ Uh oh, averaging all of that could be a problem]

Canada is as tall as it is wide, creating a wide range of climate conditions.

Canada has the largest latitude range of any country on the planet. Our southern border lies at the same latitude as northern California, while our northern edge reaches right to the top of the world. It’s rarely the same season in the same place at the same time. In early April, the Arctic may still be in the throes of a frigid winter, while the south can experience summer-like temperatures. No doubt, our weather forecasters are the busiest in the world!

Canada has an ‘iceberg alley’.

Pieces of glaciers from the coast of Greenland are picked up by the Labrador Current, a counter-clockwise vortex of waters in the North Atlantic Ocean. Those broken pieces become icebergs that float in the sea off northeast Newfoundland where Fogo Island lies. Navigating the area is risky for ships; in fact this is where the mighty Titanic sank in 1912. But it’s a boon to tourism. Iceberg seekers flock to the area to watch (safely) from the shore and boast about drinking 10,000-year-old fresh water taken from an iceberg floating in the ocean.

Niagra Falls (the Canadian side)

Canada is (really) cold.

It’s certainly not surprising to most Canadians that we are tied with Russia for the title of ‘coldest nation in the world.’ Over our vast country, we have an average daily temperature of -5.6C. This is deadly cold. More of us — about 108 — die from exposure to extreme cold than from any other natural event. And that’s not counting Canadian wildlife who are more susceptible to Canada’s icy climate than we are.

Calgary Golfer February 9, 2016.

Every winter, southern Alberta is the ‘Chinook’ capital.

For six months — from November to May — warm dry winds rush down the slope of the Rocky Mountains towards southern Alberta. Often moving at hurricane-force speeds of 120 km per hour, they can bring astonishing temperature changes and melt ice within a couple of hours. In 1962 Pincher Creek saw a record temperature rise of 41C, from -19 to 22 in just one hour. Chinook is also known as the ‘ice-eater’ among locals who appreciate the break from winter that the winds provide.

Newfoundland is the foggiest place in the world.

At the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, the cold water from the Labrador Current from the north meets the warmer Gulf Stream from the south. The result is a whopping 206 days of fog a year. In the summer, it’s foggy 84 per cent of the time! It’s also the richest fishery in the world, the fog is a serious hazard to ships in the region.

Aerial view of the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, Nunavut, Arctic Canada is shown in this undated handout image.

Canada’s North is actually a desert

Canada’s North is very cold and dry with very little precipitation, ranging from 10-20 cm a year. Temperatures average below freezing most of the year. Together, they limit the diversity of plants and animals found in the North. And it’s huge: this polar desert covers one seventh of Canada’s total land mass.

In 1816, Canada didn’t have a summer.

If winter in Canada weren’t bad enough, in 1816 the country’s eastern population were sledding in June and thawing water cisterns in July. Trees shed their leaves and there were reports of migratory birds dropping dead in the streets.

Over in Europe, the weird weather stoked anti-American sentiment. People opposed to emigration said that North America was inhospitable and getting colder every year.

Representation of Mount Tambora 1815 eruption in Indonesia.

Ironically, as eastern Canada stayed cool, the Arctic warmed, creating flotillas of icebergs off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. At the time, it was thought that the icebergs were the cause of the cooling, like a giant glass of iced lemonade. What was the real reason? In 1815, the Tambora volcano erupted in Indonesia, spewing tonnes of ash and dust into the air. Less sunlight reached the earth and this caused the planet’s surface to cool. The volcanic eruption changed the climate in different ways around the world, but Eastern Canadians were treated to the summer that just didn’t come.

The Prairies face brutal temperature extremes.

It’s no surprise that Regina, Saskatchewan — which lies smack in the middle of Canada’s prairies — lays claim to both the country’s lowest recorded temperature, -50C on January 1, 1885 and the highest, 43.3C on July 5, 1937. Without the moderating effects of a large body of water, Canada’s Prairies are vulnerable to some of the worst weather Canada has to offer.

Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of fundy. Photo: gregstokinger

The Bay of Fundy has the largest tides in the world.

Twice each day, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of this small area in Nova Scotia — more than the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers. The tides reach a peak of 16 metres (as high as a five-storey building) and take about six hours to come in. The most extreme tides in the Bay occur twice each month when the earth, moon and sun are in alignment and together they create a larger-than-usual gravitational pull on the ocean, creating a “spring tide” (not to be confused with the season spring).

Lightning over Lake St. Clair Photo: seebest

Windsor is the thunderstorm capital of Canada.

Hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico funnels up through Windsor and the Western Basin of Lake Erie creating the perfect conditions for thunderstorms. About 251 lightning flashes per 100 square kilometres happen every year when small pieces of frozen raindrops collide within thunderclouds. The clouds fill with electrical charges that are eventually funnelled to the ground as lightning.

Summary

With all that going on, all the variety of temperature, precipitation, weather events and seasonalities, no one noticed it had warmed much, and would be grateful if it had.  With all the alarms sounding about the Arctic meltdown in the last decades, let’s consider the best long-service stations in the far north.

According to the “leaked report”, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7 C when looking at the data since 1948. But that claim is misleading when recent data is considered.

Over the past 25 years, since scientists began to warn that the planet was warming in earnest, there has not been any warming when one looks at the untampered data provided by the Japan meteorology Agency (JMA) that were measured by 9 different stations across Canada. These 9 stations have the data dating back to around 1983 or 1986, so I used their datasats.

Looking at the JMA database and plotting the stations with longer term recording, we have the following chart:

Though temperatures over Canada no doubt have risen over the past century, there has not been any real warming in over 25 years. Rather, there’s been slight cooling, though not statistically significant. Clearly there hasn’t been any Canadian warming recently.

So it is misleading — to say the least — to give the impression that Canada warming has been accelerating. Thanks to Kirye for posting this at No Tricks Zone

See also Cold Summer in Nunavut