Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, at left, meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Sept. 1, 2021DOUG MILLS-POOL/GETTY IMAGES
Presently Ukraine reality is lost in the fog of war. Nothing we read or hear can be trusted, especially since the US media, in particular, scrambles to cover the derrieres of several VIPs. The best analysis I’ve seen comes from Lee Smith writing at the Tablet Ukraine’s Deadly Gamble. Excerpts in italic with my bolds.
By tying itself to a reckless and dangerous America, the Ukrainians made a blunder that client states will study for years to come
Russian President Vladimir Putin chose this war, Joe Biden said in his Thursday afternoon speech to America regarding the conflict in Ukraine. That is true, but U.S. elites also had something to do with Putin’s ugly and destructive choice—a role that Democrats and Republicans are eager to paper over with noble-sounding rhetoric about the bravery of Ukraine’s badly outgunned military.
Yes, the Ukrainian soldiers standing up to Putin are very brave, but it was Americans that put them in harm’s way by using their country as a weapon, first against Russia and then against each other, with little consideration for the Ukrainian people who are now paying the price for America’s folly.
Yes, Putin wants to prevent NATO from expanding to Russia’s border. But the larger answer is that he finds the U.S. government’s relationship with Ukraine genuinely threatening. That’s because for nearly two decades, the U.S. national security establishment under both Democratic and Republican administrations has used Ukraine as an instrument to destabilize Russia, and specifically to target Putin.
That Ukraine has allowed itself to be used as a pawn against a powerful neighbor is in part the fault of Kyiv’s reckless and corrupt political class. But Ukraine is not a superpower that owes allies and client-states judicious leadership—that’s the role of the United States. And in that role, the United States has failed Ukraine. More broadly, the use of Ukraine as a goad against enemies domestic and foreign has recklessly damaged the failing yet necessary European security architecture that America spent 75 years building and maintaining.
Ukraine is situated between two greater powers, Russia and the European Union. That makes Ukraine a buffer state. Geopolitical logic dictates that buffer states cultivate and maintain cordial relations with the greater powers that surround them, unless they want to be swallowed up by one of those powers. That’s because siding with one great power against another often leads to catastrophe.
So how did Israel transcend buffer-state status? Because it acquired what is reportedly a large nuclear arsenal with air, land, and sea delivery capabilities—the vaunted nuclear triad—which render it immune to an enemy’s first strike, and ensures, for the time being anyway, that Israel is no longer a stomping ground for empires. Conversely, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for U.S. security guarantees in the event its neighbors, Russia in particular, turned hostile.
Why can’t the American security establishment shoulder responsibility for its role in the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine? Because to discuss American responsibility openly would mean exposing the national security establishment’s role in two separate, destructive coups: the first, in 2014, targeting the government of Ukraine, and the second, starting two years later, the government of the United States.
Coup #1 Against Ukraine Itself
What kind of strategy dictates that a state hand over its security vis-a-vis local actors to a country half the world away? No strategy at all. Ukraine was not able to transcend its natural geography as a buffer state—and worse, a buffer state that failed to take its own existence seriously, which meant that it would continue to make disastrously bad bets. In 2013, the European Union offered Kyiv a trade deal, which many misunderstood as a likely prelude to EU membership. Young Ukrainians very much want to join the EU, because they want access to Europe so they can flee Ukraine, which remains one of the poorest countries on the continent.
When Yanukovych duly reneged on the EU deal, the Obama administration helped organize street demonstrations for what became history’s most tech-savvy and PR-driven regime change operation, marketed to the global public variously as Maidan, EuroMaidan, the Revolution of Dignity, etc. In February 2014, the protests forced Yanukovych into exile in Moscow. Consequently, Nuland and other Obama administration officialsworked to assemble a new Ukrainian government friendly to the United States and therefore hostile to Russia.
In late February, the Russians responded to the American soft coup in Ukraine by invading Crimea and eventually annexing it and creating chaos in Eastern Ukraine. The Obama administration declined to arm the Ukrainian government. It was right to avoid conflict with Moscow, though by leaving Kyiv defenseless, it showed that the White House had never fully gamed out all the possible scenarios that might ensue from setting a client state on course for conflict with a great power. Instead, Obama and the Europeans highlighted their deadly miscalculation by imposing sanctions on Moscow for taking advantage of the conditions that Obama and the Europeans had created.
The White House seems to have taken a perverse pride in the death and destruction it helped incite in Eastern Europe. In April 2014, CIA Director John Brennan visited Kyiv, appearing to confirm the agency’s role in the coup. Shortly after came Vice President Biden, who took his own victory lap and counseled the Ukrainians to root out corruption. Naturally, a prominent Ukrainian energy company called Burisma, which was then under investigation for corruption, hired Biden’s son Hunter for protection.
By tying itself to an American administration that had shown itself to be reckless and dangerous, the Ukrainians made a geopolitical blunder that statesmen will study for years to come: A buffer state had staked its future on a distant power that had simply seen it as an instrument to annoy its powerful neighbor with no attachment to any larger strategic concept that it was willing to support. Russia then lopped off half of the Donbas region on its border and subjected Ukraine to a grinding, eight-year-long war, intended in large part to underline Russian capacity and Ukrainian and American impotence.
Coup #2 Against America
Ukraine then made a bad situation even worse. When the same people who had left them prey to Putin asked them to take sides in an American domestic political conflict, the Ukrainians enthusiastically signed on—instead of running hard in the opposite direction.
In 2016, the Hillary Clinton campaign came calling on Ukrainian officials and activists to lend some Slavic authenticity to its Russia collusion narrative targeting Donald Trump. Indeed, Russiagate’s central storyline was about Ukraine. Yes, Trump had supposedly been compromised by a sex tape filmed in Moscow, but Putin’s ostensible reason for helping Trump win the presidency was to get him to drop Ukraine-related sanctions. Here was another chance for Ukraine to stick it to Putin, and gain favor with what it imagined would be the winning party in the American election.
With the CIA’s Brennan and a host of senior FBI and DOJ officials pushing Russiagate into the press—and running an illegal espionage campaign against the Trump team—Ukrainian political figures gladly joined in. Key participants included Kyiv’s ambassador to Washington, who wrote a Trump-Russia piece for the U.S. press, and a member of the Ukrainian parliament who allegedly contributed to the dossier. The collusion narrative was also augmented by Ukrainian American operatives, like Alexandra Chalupa, who was tied into the Democratic Party’s NGO complex. The idea that this game might have consequences for Ukraine’s relations with its more powerful neighbor doesn’t seem to have entered the heads of either the feckless Ukrainians or the American political operatives who cynically used them.
And that was only the beginning. Just as Russiagate seemed to be coming to a close in July 2019, U.S. national security officials injected yet another Ukraine-related narrative into the public sphere to target the American president. This one appears to have been initiated by Ukrainian American White House official Alexander Vindman and his colleague Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who had served as Vice President Biden’s point man on Ukraine during the Obama administration. When Vindman told Ciaramella about a phone call in which Trump had asked the Ukrainian president for information regarding allegations about the Biden family’s corrupt activities in Kyiv, they called on help from U.S. intelligence services, the State Department, the Pentagon, Democratic Party officials, and the press. Quick, scramble Team Ukraine—Trump is asking questions!
In order to cover up for what the Bidens and perhaps other senior Obama officials had done in Ukraine, a Democratic Congress impeached Trump for trying to figure out what American policymakers had been doing in Ukraine over the past decade. As for the Ukrainians, they again put themselves in the middle of it, when they should have stayed home.
The end result was that the Ukrainians had helped weaken an American president who, unlike Obama, gave them arms to defend themselves against the Russians. More seriously, they reinforced Putin’s viewthat, especially in partnership with the Democrats, Ukraine did not understand its true place in the world as a buffer state—and would continue to allow themselves to be used as an instrument by policymakers whose combination of narcissism and fecklessness made them particularly prone to dangerous miscalculations.
The 2020 election victory of Joe Biden, a man whose family had been paid by the Ukrainians to protect them, can have done little to quiet Putin’s sense that Ukraine needed to be put in its place before it was used yet again as a weapon against him.
From the perspective of the U.S. national security establishment, Biden’s victory over Trump signaled that its actions in Ukraine would stay hidden. So long as the media continued to bark that the 45th president of the United States is Putin’s stooge, no one would be held accountable for anything. Except, as it turns out, D.C. political operatives aren’t the only people who can make history. Putin can, too. And the people of Ukraine will come out much the worse for both of their efforts.
This video presentation was developed by DW (Deutsche Welle) News, the German international broadcaster. (Later deleted) The theme is described by adding a bit to the title: The Price of Green Energy Will Destroy Us. The message is not about the exorbitant expense so much as the destruction of the world’s environment in order to save it. The imagery in the video is compelling, and for those who prefer reading, I provide below an excerpted transcript in italics with my bolds. H/T Mark Krebs
The video can be viewed at this link:
Climate change, long denied, is now sending shockwaves throughout the world. Citizens are demanding their governments take concrete action. Greta: Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? [Applause]
In 2015 the UN climate conference in Paris struck an historic deal. Signatories committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. COP 21 President Laurent Fabius: “ I hereby confirm the adoption of the Paris climate agreement.”
The energy transition is in full swing, the future belongs to renewable technologies. Al Gore: This is one of the most impressive and astounding technological revolutions in all of history.
One commodity has become the primary symbol of this new environmental consciousness. “People are convinced, they were convinced that all they have to do is drive an electric car, and that’ll solve all the world’s problems with co2.”
“People are just talking about wind and solar as if that’s going to solve the problem, it won’t.”
What if these supposedly clean energies are nothing of the sort, if they ultimately inflict even more damage on the environment than fossil fuels?
“Everything surrounding us in society is made up of minerals. Basically electric cars are made of metals and minerals, and they need to be mined somewhere.” “ There’s no such thing as clean energy. As long as we’ve got this kind of human behavior, there will also be pollution.”
The energy revolution promises to sharpen the world’s sense of responsibility, but secretly it’s already wreaking its own havoc.
The ecological transition is chiefly economic in nature. An event like the Geneva international motor show makes that abundantly clear. Electric cars are omnipresent. They’re seen as future proof, the new vehicles are touted as green or emissions free.
As the petrol and diesel era nears its end, traditional car makers are reinventing themselves and playing the eco card. The adopters of electric vehicles are people who believe in sustainability. They want to do good for the environment and they want to do their part to contribute to fewer emissions and less pollution, a change in mood that chimes with new environmental requirements. These are COP 21 targets adopted by nearly 200 nations plus the EU.
“We have to meet the co2 emission targets that are set by the European Commission that all of us manufacturers have to make. And they’re becoming more and more stringent. If we don’t meet those targets, there are penalties that will follow and we will have to pay those penalties. And this is what we of course want to avoid.”
This rapid transition comes at a price. By 2023 it’s hoped that 225 billion euros will have been invested in e-cars worldwide. That’s the price of a ticket to tomorrow’s world. CEO VW France: ‘ It’s a future market that so far makes up just a few percent of the overall market but this market will explode. We’re gearing ourselves up for a completely different ballpark. “The electric car will grow from niche product to mass-produced one, and we’ll be offering it at prices everyone can afford.”
If you believe the car makers, the e-car only comes with a list of advantages. It won’t just push up sales, it’ll also protect the environment, a technological miracle. Before too long there’ll be hundreds of millions of these vehicles on the world’s roads. They no longer run on petrol or diesel. But other raw materials are essential in the manufacture of their batteries. Rare metals for example. These metals are already present in many components of our combustion vehicles. For example cerium ensures that windshields can filter UV rays. And we owe the colors and touch sensitivity of dashboard screens to europium and indium.
But in an electric car, rare earth metals play a much more significant role.
They’re crucial for the vehicle’s operation. Without neodymium for example, an e-car wouldn’t even be able to start. Neodymium is used to make magnets; they convert electric energy into mechanical energy, thereby powering the car.
The battery is the heart of an electric car. It constitutes up to 50 percent of the vehicle’s weight and contains cobalt and graphite among other elements. But that’s not all. A battery contains many rare metals, especially lithium, that’s the lightest one. It allows an exchange of electrons which in turn charges or discharges energy.
The auto industry is reliant on these little known raw materials and they’re also present in most other green technologies. It’s not just the e-car that needs rare metals they’re used everywhere for the magnets and wind turbine motors, for example. Rare metals are also crucial for the manufacture of solar cells, for photovoltaic systems. Without them we couldn’t generate any green renewable energies.
Today renewables make up almost 10 percent of worldwide electricity production. As a result of the energy transition wind and solar energy could meet almost half of our electricity needs by 2050. In this greener world, rare metals will be almost indispensable for lighting, heating and transport.
So where do these vital resources come from? Cobalt is chiefly mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Australia Chile and Bolivia all have huge lithium reserves, and Indonesia is a key producer of nickel, zirconium and tin. Today nations on all continents produce many hundred million tons of these raw materials. One country in particular owns vast reserves of strategic resources. China is the dominant producer of these sought after metals. In particular it produces two-thirds of the world’s supply of a mineral that’s especially important to green tech companies: Graphite.
We’re in the far north of the country, in the province of Heilongjiang. Almost unnoticed excavators have carried away an entire mountain right down to the ground water level to secure our green future. Graphite is often produced in ramshackle factories. These men work day and night without adequate clothing or respiratory protection. They’re the miners of the 21st century. Miner: “We know our job exposes us to a health risk but we wear a mask for protection. Breathing this air over a long period of time can give you silicosis, where the lung becomes as hard as stone.”
The fine black dust floating in the air contains hydrofluoric acid. Inhaling large amounts of this caustic contact poison can potentially cause death. “Do you know what this graphite’s used for?” Miner: “For lots of things. For example, these days it’s used in all types of e-cars mainly for electric car batteries.”
The graphite residues are dispersed over many kilometers throughout the surrounding area. Before their very eyes farmers are witnessing a huge toxic carpet of dust building up on the region’s fields. Here the plants no longer sprout any leaves and the soil is losing its fertility.
Farmer: “There’s waste ore lying around everywhere like garbage. Of course we’re upset about it, in fact we’re very upset. They don’t take any responsibility. We can’t do anything. We’re small, if we protest they will take us away in handcuffs. You need to see it with your own eyes to understand.”
Considering how hugely profitable graphite is to Beijing, these people’s lives are of little consequence. And China is home to thousands of storage sites and production facilities for these sought after metals, indium, antimony, gallium, But also tungsten and germanium reserves are plentiful across the nation. China plays a key role on the international market for all these metals. We can assume that in the e-mobility sector alone, demand will rise rapidly over the coming 10 or 20 years for the most sought after rare earths. Demand is growing by up to 25 percent per year
For our society’s energy transition the Chinese are paying with especially severe environmental damage and high loss of human life.
In many mining regions residents have even left their homes. Entire villages were simply given up. Chen Zhanheng: Here many companies only care about cost reduction. These companies don’t treat their waste emissions, slag and wastewater. They dispose of them in secret. The government does carry out checks, but there are ways to cheat the regulations. If an investigation is ordered, the companies play along and follow the rules. But the moment the inspectors are gone, they stop treating their waste and just dispose of it. Behavior like that is irresponsible.” Scott Kennedy: “Central government really would like the mining of minerals to be much more environmentally friendly, but local governments are the ones that either own the mines or are invested in the companies that work the mines. They’re responsible for generating employment, tax payments and growing those local economies. And it’s the local government’s trade off to growing their economy for problems associated with the mining.”
Three thousand kilometers from Heilongjiang, in inner Mongolia, the Chinese have built imposing industrial centers. The industrial sites of the city of Baotou are devoted exclusively to the mining of rare earth elements, a special group of rare metals. The worst environmental damage is caused by the plant’s illegal disposal of waste water. This huge artificial lake on the outskirts of the city is fed by black streams of water containing heavy metals and toxins.
Chen Zhanheng: “Wastewater from the production of rare earth metals is even reaching the groundwater, and in some places this water is being used, but of course that’s problematic. It can be very harmful to people because it contains fluorine, for example, that makes our bones brittle raising the risk of fractures. Slag can contain radioactive thorium, which is also reaching the groundwater and spreading slowly from there. Alternatively it’s stirred up as dust by the wind and settles everywhere in the town or village. That’s how radioactive pollution occurs.
Around Baotou thousands of former villagers have begun a new life in soulless sleeper towns. They’re green technologies’ first refugees. One of them is Gao Sia. The farmer had to give up her farm, the health risks were simply too great. Gao Sia: “Our livelihoods have been ruined. Young people earn a bit of money with casual work. Their families have nothing and they can’t support them. The water we use to wash and clean dishes every day is totally white. It’s so bad the tap’s blocked, nothing comes out. People are getting cancer, a large number very many. The metals they produce aren’t harmful, they’re sold for a great deal of money. But the mining creates wastewater and pollution.”
These new instances of environmental pollution on the other side of the world are the price for our wind turbines, our solar panels and our clean cars, improving air quality in Europe.
The paradox is that greenhouse gas emissions continue to exacerbate climate change all around our planet. Engineer: To make something clean you always have to pollute something else. There’s no such thing as a co2 free and 100 % ecological product, regardless of what we might sometimes read on the label. It’s impossible, there’s always going to be a knock-on effect. If we want to see what pollution looks like, the environmental damage caused by our ever so clean products which we like to believe are made by workers in white coats, then we only need to look at industrial zones in China or elsewhere.”
Our green technologies don’t just contain rare metals, they require metals of all kinds including the most widespread.
A wind turbine consists of an average 20 tons of aluminum and up to 500 tons of steel. An e-car contains up to 80 kilos of copper, four times more than in some combustion vehicles. This reddish-brown metal is especially important for green tech companies. Jean-Marc Sauser: “The energy transition is consuming huge amounts of copper, not just in the construction of wind turbines, but also in the connector cables that link the turbines to each other and the grid. The electricity has to reach its target destination after all. If you want electric cars, then you need charging points everywhere. For that you have to lay copper cables, and that’s what’s happening at the moment. Olivier Vidal: “If you take copper for example, it gives us a clear illustration of what’s going on. Since the beginning of time humanity has produced between 800 million and a billion tons of copper. If we continue on this current growth trajectory will produce the same amount in the next 30 years. We’ll have to produce as much copper in three decades as we’ve consumed since the beginning of time. The demand is huge.”
This increased demand for regular metals such as copper means many other nations are affected by the energy transition. To gauge the full extent of the impact we need to travel thousands of kilometers to South America. We’re in northern Chile. Chuquicamata is the world’s largest open pit copper mine, which is publicly owned. Its vast crater has a diameter of four kilometers and is more than one kilometer deep. Increased worldwide demand means more laborers and more machines. Production Director: “Last year we refined 330 000 tonnes of copper here in Chuquicamata. It’s pure copper ready for the market. Once we start mining underground as well, we expect to refine 470 000 tons of copper in Chuquicamata. It’ll be an historic year for the mine, 470 000 tons.”
Thirteen percent of the world’s copper reserves are found here in Chuquicamata, but the deeper the machines dig the less metal they’ll find in the ground. At the current pace of extraction, there are already signs that demand may outstrip supply. Olivier Vidal: “Geologists are warning of a copper shortage that could take hold in just a few years. Pessimistic analysts are predicting a spike in production from 2030 to 2040. In other words today, followed by a decline in primary copper production.”
Just like China’s graphite industry, the copper mines of Chuquicamata are polluting the earth and water with heavy metals. Almost 10 percent of all jobs in Chile depend on copper extraction. The environmental damage caused by mining is completely ignored Mayor of Tocopilla: “We have a water problem, a serious consequence of the mining and industry in this region.”
This is because mining and processing the mineral requires huge volumes of water. It’s thought that Chuquicamata uses 2000 liters per second. This, although in many parts of this arid desert it hasn’t rained for five hundred years. Damir Galez, Historian: “The mining industry siphons off most of its water from wetlands and groundwater the water consumption is enormous.” Mayor: “The water is practically running dry because more is being taken than nature can produce. The natural water reserves of our region are being excessively exploited by mining.”
To get a handle on the actual environmental impact, it’s necessary to examine not just mining itself, but the system as a whole.
The contaminated area covers several thousand square kilometers. Antofagasta is four hours by car to the southwest of the Chuquicamata mine. The town’s population is used to the daily rumble of trains and trucks bringing the copper to this industrial port. From here the metal is exported all over the world. The air is thick with heavy metal particles released by the vehicles without anyone really noticing.
Although the mine is far away, it has brought disproportionate levels of ill health to the 200 000 people who live in Antofagasta. In 2016 this doctor published a study that to this day has been ignored by the copper industry. Health Authority: “We studied contamination levels on the roofs of schools and kindergartens where we found a high concentration of heavy metals. In other parts of Chile people mainly die of cardiovascular disease.In the North the main cause of death is cancer, in particular lung cancer. A link to the contamination is indisputable. In some districts of Antofagasta 10% of residents have cancer.”
And producing electricity for the Chuquicamata mine inflicts further damage on people and the environment. To assess the full extent of the problem we’re traveling almost 300 kilometers to the north. Sandwiched between desert and sea the little town of Tocopilla appears cut off from the outside world. Isulina Jerez has lived here all her life. Ten years ago one of her sons died of lung cancer; he was just 17 years old. Isulina Jerez: “As much as I’ve tried to find an explanation, I see no reason why my son who never smoked and always led a healthy life died at the age of just 17. He was very active and sporty, he was the healthiest of all my children. Then the cancer came and carried him off.”
It’s often difficult to breathe in Tocopilla, the cause of the problem is producing power for the insatiable mine of Chuquicamata. Chile has 28 coal-fired power stations. The government put one of them is here in this tiny town on the pacific coast.
40 percent of Chile’s electricity is gleaned from this fossil fuel. The toxins released in the process have already led to high rates of cancer. Entire systems are being sacrificed: the land, nature, and people’s health. In turn these sacrifices benefit other regions who profit from them. There people can afford the luxury of cleaner, healthier, greener and more renewable energy. But other people pay the price for that.
Damir Galez: “There’s copper here but no coal. That’s brought from many thousands of kilometers away coming from Colombia and New Zealand. The procurement process does of course have an impact. For example, at the coal mines in Colombia, the populations there are exposed to a high concentration of heavy metals in the air. And the ships that transport the coal pollute the sea. The coal travels thousands of kilometers before it arrives in Tocopilla. That requires a well-developed network of mines, ports, trains, ships and thermal power plants. At the end you’ve got the copper mine.
Copper mining takes place in the dark and what you don’t see of course doesn’t count for anything.
But the company that runs the coal-fired power station in Tocopilia claims green credentials. The multinational has even declared itself world market leader for co2 free technologies. The company in question is Engie based in France. Damir Galez: “During my time in France I was able to observe the big contradiction in all of this. There Engie presents itself as a clean company promoting renewables and always prioritizing sustainability. But this sustainability in Europe, particularly in France has a very dark side: Electricity production.
To be able to generate electricity in Chile, the French energy company operates six coal-fired power plants there, a seventh has been under construction since 2015.
SrVP Engie: “We’re helping the Chilean government. Instead of closing the power stations, which would halt factories and trains and plunge the nation into darkness, we aim to support Julia’s (Julia Wittmayer) EU energy transition. It’s about finding the right moment for the construction of new plants in the renewable sector. We’re working a great deal with solar and wind power and we’d like to support the government in this conversion. That’s our mission and our responsibility.
Damir Galez: But you’re still building a new coal plant in northern Chile.
SrVP Engie: “As i just said Engie’s task is to support the government and we’re currently doing just that. It’s impossible to decommission all coal plants as long as they supply 40 percent of the national demand for electricity. That’s the case in Chile: Without this 40% industry would grind to a halt. We’re supporting the conversion to renewables and a reduced electricity consumption.
Nicolas Meilhan: The eco car has become a kind of religion. If we now can see that maybe it isn’t the be-all and end-all, and the same could be said for solar cells and wind turbines to a certain extent, then all the governments talk about the electric car that’ll save the world will come crashing down like a house of cards. In 20 years we’ll wake up because harmful emissions will have continued to rise and the e-car won’t have changed anything. The next energy crisis is already in the making: ElectricGate.
But at the Geneva motor show, car makers have other things on their minds. New brands are jostling for attention in a promising market. Volvo for example has founded a subsidiary dedicated to making electric cars with a carefully thought out marketing campaign pledging that by purchasing its models we’re saving the planet.
Global automotive industries annual revenue is 2 000 billion euros.
That’s equal to the GDP of a nation like France. With that in mind, very few car makers are prepared to look reality in the eye. VP Lexus: “ It’s probably an interim solution, but is it also the best long-term solution? I’m not sure about that because if we’re just talking about purely electric vehicles, we can’t just be looking at the car itself. We also need to consider the issues of battery and electricity production. And in many nations the latter isn’t particularly ecological. That’s a global problem.”
So does the future of green energies lie in further innovations? That’s what car makers are promising at least. SrVP Engie: “The energy transition isn’t over, there are still many innovations to come. We’ve invested in startups that want to develop new technologies, organic solar cells for example. They’re very different from regular cells because they don’t need any silicon. Organic solar cells are like a sheet of paper, very flexible; they can be installed anywhere. If we fixed these thin film cells to all large office blocks we could generate an incredible amount of electricity.
Olivier Videl: “Some key technological developments have the potential for enhanced effectiveness. Performance will improve through research in this area. Despite everything we should throw our weight behind these technologies, because they’re ripe for development.”
Chile has pledged to shut down all its coal plants, but not before 2040. So Engie won’t be able to address the contradiction between its green washing and the bleak Chilean reality anytime soon.
This abridged transcript excludes the ending message which devolved into a Malthusian appeal, echoing the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth. The video nailed the essential point: Obsession with e-cars in particular, and non-carbon energy in general will destroy the planet in the guise of saving it. The hypocrisy is dripping from those who terrorize the world with fears of global warming and point to zero carbon as the solution. They get all righteous and indignant at car companies who organized to profitably produce e-cars to meet the demand the warmists created. They expose their quaint naivete that people can be supplied with goods without any profit incentive. The dangerous obsession has three components.
The Transition to Zero Carbon is Unnecessary
Earth’s weather and climate changes are within the range of historical variation. In particular, there has been no accumulation of warming in the last four decades. The rising CO2 in the air has been a boon to the biosphere and to crop production.
Replacing Fossil Fuels with Zero Carbon Energy is Impossible
Presently, despite all of the money invested in them, Wind and Solar power supply 2% of the world’s energy needs. The renewable energy solution does not scale to the desired outcome of reducing fossil fuel usage to any meaningful extent.
The Attempt to Electrify Everything Will Bring Environmental Desolation
Trying to power modern societies with intermittent wind and solar power will extract planetary resources to depletion. The landscapes of Northern China and Northern Chile will become typical rather than extreme situations to be managed. The imaginary climate problem will not be solved, but the environmental catastrophe will be all too real, and of our own making. Cease and desist this madness.
Raymond has produced another in his Simple Science series, this one providing images explaining how the world uses its energy and where the energy comes from. It’s a pictorial representation of statistics compiled by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in their 2020 World Report, the latest year being 2018.
World of Energy, World of CO2, and World of Climate Change are projects at RiC-Communications, based in Zurich. The exhibits are available for download at the following linked titles:
In addition there is an introductory video to the CO2 series and in the case of Energy, summary posters suitable for printing. The download pdf for the energy posters will be available soon.
The World of Energy Infographics
Energy consumption is an important topic and on everyone’s lips. Since fire has been used as an energy source, fossil fuel use has played an important role in the evolution of our species. The rise of carbon in our atmosphere can be traced back to the beginning of industrialization and contributes in part to today’s levels of 420 ppm. Fossil fuels account for 81% of our total energy supply, a dependence that has not diminished to this day. This valuable resource drives the global economy and helps to reduce poverty worldwide. However, fossil fuels are not evenly distributed across the world and have always been the source of conflict or leverage. Renewable energy is becoming more popular, but efforts to replace the high density of fossil fuels will not be easy.
– N° 1 Global Energy consumption in percent by all sectors
– N° 2 Global Fossil fuel consumption in percent by sector
– N° 3 Oil consumption in percent by sector
– N° 4 Natural Gas consumption in percent by sector
– N° 5 Coal consumption in percent by sector
– N° 6 Electricity Generation by Source
– N° 7 Total energy supply by source
Many observations are possible by studying these exhibits. For example, some activists insist that passenger air travel is dangerously warming the planet, and ordinary people should stay home, with flights restricted to essential trips by global elites. A glance at the transportation statistics on slide #2 shows Aviation is only 4% of fossil fuel consumption (12% of 34% FF used for transportation). And aviation includes cargo transport, so passenger travel is a fraction of that.
The bulk of FF transport consumption is Road, meaning cars and trucks, which is why some are demanding electric vehicles be the only means of mobility. Yet a look at slide #6 shows that presently only 10% of electricity comes from Wind, Solar and waste fuels. Furthermore, for all of the investment in wind and solar power, slide #7 shows that so called “green energy”` supplies only 2% of the world’s energy needs.
There will be no more COVID-19 restrictions in Iceland or at its borders as of Friday, February 25, 2022, Iceland’s Health Minister has just announced. Iceland’s remaining restrictions, including a 200-person gathering limit, will be lifted on Thursday night at midnight. Health Minister Willum Þór Þórsson stated that those who are sick are still encouraged to stay at home.
Willum announced the restrictions in an informal press conference just after 1:00 PM, following a cabinet meeting, where he says the decision was unanimous among ministers. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in the press conference that the lifting of restrictions is in line with recommendations from the Chief Epidemiologist.
The current border regulation has been in effect since October 1, 2021 and will expire at midnight Thursday. Travellers will no longer be required to register prior to arrival or to present vaccination certificates. Unvaccinated travellers will no longer be required to be tested and quarantine for five days.
Katrín pointed out that around 110,000 residents of Iceland, of the total population of some 370,000, have already had COVID-19, according to official numbers. However, research suggests the true number is significantly higher. “The virus is still with us, and we know that many people will still get infected,” Katrín stated, adding that workplaces and communities will be affected, “but we believe we can live with the virus.”
“Widespread societal resistance to COVID-19 is the main route out of the epidemic,” the ministry said in a statement, citing infectious disease authorities.
“To achieve this, as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines are not enough, even though they provide good protection against serious illness,” it added.
All border restrictions would also be lifted, it said.
Both Willum and Katrín emphasised that people are still encouraged to test and isolate if they are sick, though access to PCR tests has now been limited. Asked about strain on the healthcare system, Willum stated: “The going will be tough for some weeks moving forward,” due to covid infections among both patients and staff disrupting services.
Asked whether COVID-19 measures could be reimposed in the future, Katrín stated: “We are always ready for the possibility that a new variant could emerge,” and added that authorities would continue to monitor the state of the pandemic domestically and globally.
This discussion came on line this week. For those who prefer reading, I provide an excerpted, lightly edited transcript below in order to learn what these two make of recent events in the country, and what lessons for other vulnerable democracies. Their words are in italics with my bolds.
Hello everyone I’m here today with a man who needs no introduction to Canadians, and increasingly less so to an international audience of people watching Mr. Rex Murphy, one of Canada’s most revered and able journalists. We’re going to talk today about Canada and the Canadian government and try to get to the bottom of what’s happening, insofar as the two of us can manage that.
Rex, I thought to start with just some notes that I had on the pandemic, since in some ways it’s at the bottom of current events. So NPR announced on December 27th that omicron could bring the worst surge of Covid yet in the US and fast. But I was watching that, and it was after data had already come in from South Africa that was quite credible in suggesting that omicron was much less deadly although more transmissible than delta. And it appears now that it’s perhaps 90 percent less. So the current data, insofar as you can trust it, suggests that vaccines are approximately 35 percent again effective against immigrant infection and perhaps 70 percent against hospitalization. So that’s the reality of the pandemic at this point.
I’ll add one more thing for a minute and then turn it over to you. Well that data has been making itself manifest over the last few months. Pandemic mandate restriction reductions have occurred in a variety of major countries including Denmark, England, Sweden, Norway, Spain and Italy, a relatively admirable set of countries. Let’s point out that in the last two weeks in Canada Saskatchewan, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and PEI also relaxed restrictions. Yet our country is under the equivalent of martial law, that is not too extreme a term I think. And we’re in worse shape politically than perhaps we’ve ever been. So you’ve had a vast and long experience watching the Canadian political scene. So what do you make of this?
Well first of all it’s very difficult to find a single sentence answer. I’m not being cute .I’ve watched this stuff with me being the witness from the days back in the 1950s. I’m an ancient old bastard.
When Joey Smallwood was in many ways a fairly tyrannical premier at the end of his days. And I thought I learned then as a teenager what overreach was like and even in a minuscule circumstance like Newfoundland. It’s not Russia or United States, but nonetheless when you get in charge how over time, you lose or diminish the few noble impulses that you may have come in with. And become completely obsessed with yourself.
To go right to your question however, it really is very difficult that after two years and very sporadically effective measures: Don’t take the masks they’ll hurt you; Take the mask; Ignoring the old age homes; The economic ruin that’s going on. After we go through two whole years of this and then the third period you mentioned omicron comes in. The information comes by and as you point out major and responsible countries after the two years realize that okay, we’re into a milder circumstance, and we cannot continue claustrophobically to restrict our citizens from their basic rights. Serious countries start to lift the mandates and also at the tail as you mentioned some of the provinces in Canada.
And at this point a single group, the truckers who for two years were going around delivering food and being regarded as heroes. As people have pointed out, they live solitary lives, they’re alone in their trucks. But after two years at the very end, a core of those truckers arose. And it could be from principles of civil liberties, it could be because they believe that they’ve already had Covid, in other words there’s a whole host of rational reasons that some people would say: No. I have an occupation and it’s two years later all these things are going away but instead they’ve threatened their livelihoods.
And then to make this point, they say to Ottawa, they say to their own politicians: Why are you doing this? You know we have worked even while others have not worked; we have worked as hard as the medical staff, as hard as the grocery clerks. And we are the people bringing you the food and, by the way, supplies for the hospitals. So of all the people to single out, it’s the working-class truckers. They go across Canada in the middle of the winter. There’s a week’s warning and, here’s the key:
At no point did any substantial authority, backbencher, minister, minister of finance or prime minister send out either a delegation or himself to say to these guys and gals in these trucks, who are the heart and soul of this country.
“Come in and let’s have a chat. We’re Canadians, we talk about things. We have we have prided ourselves ever so much that we’re polite and we’re so compromising we say sorry when someone else hits us. So where did the the intrinsic ethic of the Canadian temperament disappear? Instead of saying,OMG, what what a joy it would be to talk to someone who’s not in cabinet, to someone who does a job, who has kept society functioning. If you guys have problems, i really want to speak to you because I’m your prime minister and I’m also the prime minister of Canada
But no talk, none at all, this is the thing that really got my temper up. Instead, out of the blue like like some dark wizard, he comes down on them; they’re racists, they’re misogynists, they’re only a small fringe. But they’re taking up space and we can’t tolerate that. I really do not know what was in his mind. What was in the minds of his superlative advisors, presuming that they have them? And I’m also surprised that the Liberal caucus, how come all those backbenchers, some of them from the Atlantic provinces who know the working class, who know fishermen and loggers and miners and oil workers and truckers. They’re a class: Does no one stand up for them, and then let the prime minister rail at them? And Mr Singh saying that these are white supremacists and they’re calling Islam a disease?
Whenever I hear the word irresponsible directed at the Ottawa protest, it turns me upside down. One more final point and I’ll shut up. When in America or in Canada have you seen a two and a half week protest by BLM or Antifa or some environmental group like this one: not a window smashed, not a police officer attacked, no burning of buildings, no shouting curse words at the police forces, no intimidation. This has been a classic Canadian protest in this sense. It’s a working class protest, so it’s not professionals. And secondly, considering what’s at stake, livelihood and restriction of civil liberties, and despite an inflammatory rejection from the prime minister, in fact the last two weeks have been this tranquil. That’s a new bloom in the idea of Canadian temperament.
You and I were told a couple of months ago by advisers to high-level government officials that the Covid policy was essentially being dictated by opinion polls, something we will get back to: This reliance by government leaders now on experts and on opinion polls. But we should also point out that although many countries in Europe had started to lift vaccine mandates and lifted in many of the United States, none of that was occurring in Canada. Not until the truckers started this protest. So now these five provinces have started to lift their mandates, and more are going to follow.
They aren’t claiming that’s a consequence of the trucker protest. But in truth we know that this is being run by opinion polls, which is a terrible way to run a government. Nothing had changed before the truckers started to protest. We should also point out the 86 percent vaccination rate in Canada; that’s one dose vaccination anyway. No one with any sense would ever think that it possible to push vaccine rates above approximately 90 percent. Because 10 percent of the population is not in the condition necessary even to comply voluntarily with mandates. It’s terribly naive to assume it can be pushed beyond that.
Let’s go through a couple of issues, a list of things we can discuss.
We want to figure out why were the truckers demonized, and what are Canadians supposed to think about that? Especially because FINTRAC which tracks financial transactions and is supposed to be taking care of such things as terrorist financing, has no evidence of suspicious transactions occurring in relationship to this protest. That’s been documented by CTV, who you could hardly accuse of being sympathetic to the truckers.
So there’s that. Then, just exactly what is the emergency here? Why is it reasonable under any conditions whatsoever to consider this an emergency of such major proportions that our basic civil liberties have to be lifted?
Then the ability to freeze and seize bank accounts, which generates distrust in the banks.
There’s the precedent to define retroactive crime, because now funding a perfectly legal protest through legal means has been criminalized and associated with terrorism and organized crime and can be punished without trial by fiat and that appears to be permanent.
Then we have the extension and redefinition of crime because mischief has now been expanded as a category to arrest people without cause. And now you can aid and abet mischief.
And then they compelled the tow truck operators to start operating and Trudeau said they would get just compensation.
And then, you’ve been beating this drum for a long time, we’ve been governed essentially without parliament for two years.
It’s very hard to say what is the worst thing is that happened to Canada in the last two weeks, because six things are the worst. Each of them should be fatal to the Trudeau government. But I think perhaps the worst was the decision to suspend parliament on Friday from discussing the emergency act because of the action instituted by the police as a consequence of the emergency act.
Let’s start with what you talked about, Trudeau’s state of mind with regards to the truckers. Like he’s accused the Conservatives of supporting the people who wave swastikas and and tried to associate the truckers with Nazis. And went after a Jewish Conservative MP and hasn’t apologized for that. Do you think that Trudeau believes that the truckers are actually some kind of far right MAGA movement or what?
That one just leaves me speechless. It is impossible to believe that he believes it. If you’ll have two or three thousand people and there is a placard up with a swastika on it, it’s a nasty thing but it’s implying that the government is the bunch. And the news media and Trudeau take this idiot and his scribbled damn swastika, and they tried to paint as Nazis tens of thousands of these truckers who came across Canada with every highway overpass and at least a third of the country is saying thank god that someone is expressing something.
The Conservatives are feeble and they haven’t been present enough, I could go on about them forever, but the idea that they’re Nazis? This is not even grade six thinking. This is ridiculous. And I have to say this: one guy was wearing a raccoon mask walking around with the confederate flag. It was absurd, it has no consequence. But the news media sucked on that like they were a hungry baby.
Let’s talk about the news media. First we might as well remember that one of the ways Mussolini defined fascism is the integration of corporation and state. So let’s talk about the legacy media in Canada.
♦ 595 million dollar salary subsidy in the last four years. ♦ 1.2 billion annually for the CBC. It’s also been recommended to the CBC that they decrease rather than increase their reliance on private advertising. ♦ 60 million pandemic specific emergency support fund ♦ 10 million special measures for journalism top up for 2021 and 22 ♦ recent request for 60 million dollars by the Toronto Star, probably the loudest rag in the country beating the Trudeau drum, describing a 30 million dollar annual shortfall in their operating budget.
What Canadians are faced with at the moment is an awful press/government collusion. Typical Canadians believed for years in the reality of peace, order and good government. Trusted our constitutional principles, and that our fundamental institutions were essentially reliable: government, education, media. Let’s say you could count on them to at least try to tell the truth under most circumstances. Trudeau is now facing them with a very difficult choice: You either believe that all of those institutions have become corrupt and unreliable in a profound and frightening way, including now the banks; or you can believe there’s a handful of protesters who have far right ties and can be justly demonized. I suspect for many Canadians it’s easier to believe the latter, especially when that’s what the prime minister and his cronies are saying.
Unfortunately, and I say this as someone with a fair bit of respect for fundamental institutions and wish that they would operate properly, unfortunately the former is has perhaps proved itself in the last two weeks to be far more true than even the most cautious and worried of us might have predicted even a month ago.
Well there’s a whole lot of things to say about that. I’ll start even on the broader scale. Take somebody who is not a partisan and who hasn’t got some some infectious radical ideas about one side of the spectrum or the other; in other words someone who’s reasonable balanced probably switches back and forth between tory and liberal, or republican and democrat. Those were the days of equilibrium or or easy shift or disagreement in their history.
If you look at America in particular, because it connects to us by the way, look at America and American journalism in the last five and six years: the growth especially at the cable channels and the the absolute surrender to the most vile partisanship. On the whole Russia collusion thing, if you read some of the sane people, Molly Hemingway’s book for example, you realize that it was all confection. It was all composed, was all made up, and the savagery with which during the Trump years any detail got into the CBC wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for Donald Trump.
Up here in Canada on the very day that the stallions were going into parliament hill, you had the coastal gas line attack by 20 masked people with axes who threatened people in the cabs of their trucks. It was close to 24 hours before that even got reporters on CBC.
What I’m getting to, even apart from the money, the press as an institution despite many exceptions, the mass of the institution has decided it is a player. It will pick a side, it will inflate the people that it likes to inflate, and it will derogate and damn those that it does not. They will do that from a perch of self-assumed moral superiority. You you need to know they have forgotten that their audience has intelligence and dignity. They really think that it’s more or less a cooperative movement between the elites of government bureaucracy, the university and the press. Then when some low-class operation occurs, some bunch of big hat truckers coming, the reaction is: Who are these people interrupting our complacency and tranquility?
To come to your point, it would have been impossible 50 years ago for any institutional press to say, oh by the way we see ourselves as opposition because that’s what a press is. It inquires, it pushes, it tests, but at the same time incidentally, most of our operation is getting funded by the people we’re dealing with.
Also the close cohabitation of the high-class journalists with the people that they cover, the sociability of Ottawa is one of the most corrosive things to a free press that we ever knew.
But I will tell you, this doesn’t show up on the newscast very often, but when you talk to what iIcall the guy in the street, they know that 600 million dollars goes to the press. They are not watching anymore. Not only that, when the press then say, oh this has been a terrible ordeal for us in Ottawa, no one was touched by their complaints. Working people have been putting up with this condescension, dismissal of their jobs. They’re loud, they’re taking up space, they shouldn’t be tolerated, who is this? And this is coming out of the mouth of a prime minister who more than any other thing set himself up as the virtue emperor of all the world. He was more tolerant, more liberal, more broad-minded. He was for all all sorts of diversity, except diversity for the people who actually keep the country going
So yes, the press is a part of this dynamic, part of this crisis. I don’t know where we go from here, but there’s been an awful lot of diminished respect, dignity and prestige for both the government, including the opposition parties too, and the press during this. As we say in the ancient thing the truckers might have lost the battle, but they they’ve altered the perception of many things very deeply.
Because it’s happening so quickly, I don’t know what to make of all of this. I can’t believe the state to which the country is degenerated. I’ve been in contact with a reliable source within the Canadian military. He told me today by email that if I had any sense I’d take my money out of the Canadian banks because the situation is far worse than I’ve been informed. That’s just one of many such messages I receive on a daily basis.
Let’s talk about the banks. Our prime minister last week permanently destroyed 20 percent of the population’s faith in the entire Canadian banking system and stained the Canadian banking system’s international reputation for decades. In any normal time that in itself would have been enough grounds for a non-confidence vote for the government to be ousted. And that’s only one of the seven things that happened last week that are of that magnitude.
Let’s talk about this emergency for a minute. I talked to Brian Peckford, the former premier of Newfoundland a couple of weeks ago about the fact the mandates themselves weren’t justifiable. The emergency clause in the charter allows for the suspension of certain basic rights under certain conditions. The covid mandates themselves weren’t justifiable especially now and now the ante has been raised a tremendous degree. Because we have a new emergency which is apparently more serious than the entire covid pandemic that justifies the imposition of martial law, the seizing of bank accounts and the retroactive definition of crime, and so on.
I’ll ask you to play devil’s advocate just for a minute. Imagine that you’re on the side of Trudeau and and that true to the government, you’re trying to make the case that this is an emergency justifying the imposition of martial law. What’s the emergency exactly? Give me some evidence that there’s an emergency of any sort.
I accept the challenge to be a devil’s advocate. Let me just really try it. What is the thing that is making the canadian state tremble to the point of its own dissolution? Are all the provincial capitals under seizure? No, don’t think so. How about, the Russians are coming down from the north and they’ve got the fleet of the highest gunnery. Not that either. Maybe it’s inflation and if we kill the truckers, you know we ruined them, we solve that. No. Okay great imposition, I’ll go that far. There was a great imposition on the kind of comfort and tranquility of Ottawa. But there’s been an awful lot of imposition on the tranquilities of every person in this country for the last two years. You couldn’t visit your sick mother if she was in an old age home.
Where’s the threat? There isn’t one. This was just the longest most sustained and almost celebratory thing that was crushed. You can read it and you can see the live pictures from people who are not in the news media. If even a delegation of the Trudeau cabinet had walked down the streets of Ottawa and had enough parkas that they could sit outdoors and spend two hours talking to some of these real people, this could have been washed away.
Let me let me try to be the advocate. So we’re going to say this is a radical right wing movement, and it’s funded by MAGA money flowing in from the United States. And that there’s a real threatof a January 6 style insurrection. So as a consequence to protect Ottawa and the stability of the state, we have to make the trucker convoy illegal. And then we have to hunt everyone down and track whoever donated, because they’re part of this extreme far-right network that has its origins in the United States and the entire integrity of the state is at stake. Does anyone believe that? I don’t get it, don’t even see how this is a wise move strategically for the Liberals.
Well I tell you there is a reason why they believe it, because this is why i brought up the United States it wasn’t idle. They had a sustained four years of believing what was not true south of the border. I’m stating this with definitive force. It simply wasn’t true: Putin did not own Trump. Now people might not like to hear that, but it was a confection. It was a setup and yet all of the great investigative powers of some of the greatest journals and television stations in all the world went with it day and night. Yet now you have, for example, Mr Biden’s son with his contracts and these Chinese not even to be mentioned
Here’s how it comes to be, this far right white supremacy movement. I see the phrase white supremacy so often and I wonder where is this coming from? There will always be is some fanatically stupid set of people with some fanatically stupid cause, but there has not been (to use this word) a pandemic of racist white challenge. but it’s been the fodder of the new speak and the woke dialect. And it’s been shoved out so often that if you say the word MAGA now, this is where Minister of Justice Lametti comes in. He said you know, if you’re pro-Trumpian, you should worry about your funds. I can go down to Newfoundland and go from Cornerbrook to Saint John’s and then up up to Saint Anthony, and I will not meet anyone who is pro-Trumpian.
It’s just silly but if you have if you pound it hard enough and long enough people will believe it. I can’t think of any other reason than belief in something like that that could possibly justify what’s happening because i can’t imagine any alternative explanations.
Okay the Liberal government has decided to implement a state of emergency. So here’s a psychological explanation. Trudeau’s father did that back in the 1970s and Justin is constantly trying to prove his validity as a figure of masculine integrity, and I think there’s probably some of that going on. Because if there wasn’t, he wouldn’t have run for prime minister to begin with. Because he’s so supremely unqualified to be prime minister that it’s a complete bloody miracle that anyone could be narcissistic enough to assume that with that little knowledge, a role like that should be adopted. So that’ definitely a factor. He’s got to stand up and show that he can do it under duress, and then there’s also got to be the belief that something like a far-right conspiracy is occurring. Because invoking the the martial law act, the emergency act is so preposterous a move that unless you actually believe there was a signal threat of that paranoid sort, there’s no way you could justify it strategically. How could anyone, including Chrystia Freeland by the way, think this is going to go over well over a period approximating a month.
I read the other day that because FINTRAC never found any evidence of radical foreigners colluding in a right-wing manner to fund the freedom convoy, that most of the information that the government depended on was actually generated by the CBC. So then we have this feedback loop.
A whole other bloody insane catastrophe was when that funding site was hacked by a crazy activist and then that information was distributed, stolen information which is technically illegal. And the media jumped on that and the government capitalized on it. It’s got to be that they believe their own press.
That’s so interesting because they bought the press and paid it to tell them what they wanted to hear and now they believe it and justify their their policy as a consequence.
Maybe there is a substantial fantasy that is operative in the entire liberal cabinet and could be Mr. Trudeau actually believes there is a genuine threat of MAGA overthrow and Trumpian forces. There are 30 plus people in his cabinet, they can’t all share that fantasy and if we have 30 people. Where are the five or six people in his own cabinet or in his own caucus that are saying Justin you have really, vastly overreached. You have insulted the nature of this country which is always the middle course, is always willing to at least try a compromise and a talk. And you’ve introduced false drama, the melodramatic idea of a great national emergency that will flare across the world.
Let’s look at what the NDP leader Jagmeet Singh did then. Singh tweeted, “today Conservative MPs have endorsed a convoy led by those that claim the superiority of the white bloodline and equate Islam to a disease.”
This is quite the insult. If anything he’s more juvenile, immature and narcissistic than Trudeau, and that’s really saying something. I was involved with the NDP to some degree going back to the War Measures declared in the 1970s. I knew a fair number of the leaders of the provincial parties and a lot of those people had come up through the labor union movement and actaully cared about the working class. I’m not saying that about all the socialists, but a high proportion of their leaders were genuinely concerned with the well-being of the working class labor union types and the NDP back then opposed the war measures act on principle.
Yet today Jagmeet Singh is and the followers of the NDP are those most set against what the truckers have done. He’s following Trudeau around like a lap dog. Mr Singh will will win every student council election in Canada but his relationship to the working people, the oil men, the loggers, the fishermen, the farmers, the service people, and the truckers, he is anathema. By the way, I’m not NDP, but I can respect their history and admire them for that.
You know, even the Communist Party of Canada announced yesterday that they weren’t in favor of the emergency act because they realized well enough that allows instantaneously for the demonization and and the criminalization of anything like organized labor protests.
Even if the government is right when they are reaching for ultimate and and overriding civil liberties it is then your duty to stand up and test it and challenge it. And exert the greatest pressure to explain themselves, to justify the boundaries they are imposing.
Yet in this particular case on the very day they brought in this thing and let the police loose on the protesters, that’s the day that parliament doesn’t even meet.
Let’s talk about that Friday event because this actually needs focus. I don’t understand why all the MPs on the conservative side just didn’t go to parliament anyways. Canadians have to think this through. We had martial law imposed and it’s supposed to be debated in parliament. Not to mention the fact there’s been no parliament for two years. On the very day it’s supposed to be debated in parliament, the government announces it’s going to suspend parliament! Not because of Covid but because of the dangers of the situation they created to stop debate about that very measure. And everyone went along with it, you really cannot make this up.
Conservatives have a mass of MPs yet they didn’t go to parliament yesterday and they shouldn’t be flying home. They should have gone down in a cluster and walked the streets. They should have at least had conversations, not anything else. How is this going, what are they doing, when do you think you would leave? Show them that their representatives actually want to talk to the people that they represent.
And secondly they should be at extreme volume. They have been tepid, they have been removed and there is no vigorous, no clamorous opposition to this, the biggest thing that has happened since the imposition of the war measures act, which saw people picked off the street and put into jail. This is a really really big thing that could deepen the cleavages we already have in this country. It’s a dismissal again of a majority of people who are out west. Canada is not Ontario and Quebec, however wonderful those provinces are. But it’s becoming the case if you’re not woke and you’re not in the laptop class, and if you’re not professionally insulated from all the pressures of Covid, you’re out. If you can ride around easily, you’re in one world and can look down on those who keep the country functioning, who fix the water mains, who deliver the goods. If those people start to feel the pressure and say to their government we want our concerns heard, oh well they’re radicals, they’re hypocrites, islamophobes. They’re misogynists, naturally they’re racists and also of course they probably are bunching up to being Trump terrorists.
So I would say. three or four things happened in the absence of parliament. One is the abdication of executive and legislative responsibility to hypothetical experts on the public health side claiming to follow the science by following the experts. Yet there’s no automatic pathway passing from medical facts to valid policy. The only pathway from facts to policy is through parliament and through the executive branch. It’s thinking through the problems in public in the house of commons and in the provincial parliaments rather than to devolve all their responsibilities onto medical experts and claim compassion and wisdom in doing so and demonize conscientious objectors saying you’re not following the science. So that’s number one: It’s government by fiat and government by experts and what constitutes appropriate lawmaking restricted to one dimension, which is putative public health conceived of in an extraordinarily narrow sense without debate
The next thing is the fact that all these bloody governments including provincial governments in Canada have started to rely on nothing but opinion polls as a means of sampling what the public thinks. Let’s go into that psychologically for a moment. You know according to the polls, Canadians now simultaneously don’t want the mandates and don’t support the truckers. It doesn’t take a bloody genius to notice those two things are at odds, and so you might think how clueless is the public. But the right conclusion is: How stupid are we to rely on opinion polls. Because it’s extraordinarily difficult to sample what the public thinks. By the way these polls are also highly methodologically suspect and some of them are partisan.
The reason we have institutions like parliament, in fact the whole actual reason we have institutions like parliament is that’s a much better method of determining over a long period and in a sustained way what the public thinks. When many of them are together discussing over many weeks, and then all of that’s organized into something approximating a free political system. Opinion polls subvert all of that.
One of the functions as old as there is a parliament, and especially the mother of all parliaments, is set forth in the parliamentary reform bill of 1832. It states that the debate itself is an agency of the establishment of public opinion and if you don’t have the arguments and the debate, then opinion has no way to fashion itself or to respond to or to modify previous positions.
If you cannot have a discussion in the parliamentary chamber about bringing in the most serious piece of legislation that we’ve seen in 50 years, what is the point of parliament?
Well, it’s to be an impediment. To understand why let’s go down deeper into Trudeau’s motivation. Both Chrystia Freeland and Trudeau are integrally associated with the World Economic Forum which promotes a globalist agenda. This might sound like right-wing propaganda, but they publicly assert a globalist elite agenda that is aimed at severely modifying the manner in which our fundamental institutions operateunder the what would you call the impetus of yet another crisis, which is the hypothetical climate crisis.
I am an admirer of Bjorn Lomberg, who I think has done the best work on this matter all things considered. He’s got the best methodology for determining how to analyze what steps should be taken to deal with environmental concerns; let’s not call them emergencies. He’s documented it very carefully and I defy anyone on the climate catastrophe side to show evidence of a methodology more sophisticated than Bjorn Lomborg’s in analyzing an actual pathway forward that isn’t merely apocalyptic neuroticism and the desire for totalitarian control.
And so that’s all lurking in the background and that’s also pulling the country apart in all sorts of ways It’s underneath events like this attack that occurred in Northern BC the other day on the on the other coastal gas line. It’s an attempt to block infrastructure ensuring that we all have cheap reliable energy as we move forward into the future.
I worked on the UN Secretary General’s report on Sustainable Development for two years analyzing all this sort of material. That’s where I came across Lomberg trying to sort this stuff out. From this I learned that if you look deeply into the data from as many different perspectives as you could manage, let’s say with an open heart, you would derive the conclusion that the faster we can get cheap energy to the world’s poor people the better. And the cheaper energy is mostly going to be fossil fuels especially natural gas if we do it right. The more sustainable environmental movement we can have in the future is if we make the poorest people rich by giving them access to cheap energy mostly facilitated by fossil fuel. That’s the best possible move forward for the planet and for those who are absolutely poor, and the faster we move toward clean energy.
Those who say they are on the side of the oppressed, the side of the poor but are against cheap fossil fuel energy can’t have it both ways. All the bloody moralistic posturing is enough to drive you to distraction. It is so patrician and so patronizing. By the way it has a hundred percent support from every possible major media. but it is a craze. And by the way we just put in over 500 billion dollars of the deficit, over a trillion dollars of a debt. Oil is now ramping up to 80 or 100 dollars a barrel and the Canadian government has seized Alberta, built a concrete wall around it, so that the greatest natural resource we have is frozen.
Maybe the emergencies that we’re seeing this week is one way of forestalling the knowledge that they have hit a time of inflation after two years of economic disaster, while closing down the one source of wealth that we have.
There’s definitely a moral hazard here. There’s nothing more psychologically attractive than a false crisis to divert attention from a real crisis. Talking with people in the economic disciplines, it was pointed out to me rather forcefully that over the last 15 years Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has remained relatively constant at $43,000 while America’s has moved from approximately the same to now at $65,000.
Just one of many indicators that Canada is in a state of economic crisis, the magnitude of which has not yet been entirely revealed and meanwhile the country is tearing itself apart at the seams. And so why not have a false crisis because then you can look heroic when you’re dealing with something that doesn’t exist. You can beat down the Nazis and the Confederates instead of facing the fact you’ve been so appallingly incompetent and moralistic over the last six years. The true nature of that economic decline has been hidden, but may soon become manifest.
After the two years we haven’t got the inventory of how many businesses have failed, how many families have been disjointed or depressed and made anxious, how much the overall economy itself has been hurt. We don’t know yet if once the banks start to rise their interest rates how this debt will drown us. We also have inflation. But the biggest thing of all didn’t happen because of a disease or a pandemic. I’ve been at this far too long but I’m not exaggerating when saying I can’t remember a time when there are sharper differences, more angry divisions. We’ve had contests in the past between provinces and big fights over pipelines and transmission lines and such, but it was never carried out with animosity, it never called up the brands. In 50, 60 years I never heard people called Nazis because they said something the others didn’t like.
A man comes in and basically says to the world I am the personification of all that is new and correct in 21st century virtue. I am sanctified by my own correctness on all of the genuine issues and will build a tranquility founded in respect for all Canadians. And six years later you’ve got stallions on parliament hill running into walkers; you’ve got the police probably being forced to do stuff that they don’t want to; you have a parliament that’s been eviscerated or castrated; the biggest debt ever; the west is angry.
Let’s just summarize this. Canadians are being asked to decide whether these truckers are a reprehensible bunch of foreign-funded Nazi insurrectionists, or whether the entire governing structure in Canada and the press that reports on it has become corrupt in an historically unmatched manner. So that’s a tough choice. But the first part of that isn’t true and the second part unfortunately is.
And you can tell that not least by the fact that parliament has essentially been abrogated over the last two years and more particularly on Friday. And now we have retroactive crime in this country and the seizure of bank accounts. And all this is occurring when not only is the pandemic coming to a halt on technical grounds, but when many countries around the world are lifting mandates which would not have been lifted in Canada unless the truckers had protested.
That’s in a background of devolving of executive responsibility to experts and to opinion by all three political parties; the abandonment of the working class by the NDP and the imposition of a utopian globalist agenda on the entire country and its economy. That’s basically where we’re at.
This is a sad sad mess and in the immediate future, in the next 12 months we’re going to hear so many ramifications out of this; we’ve done a great injury that may not be easily repaired over time. The biggest worry of all isn’t the convoy or the clearing of the protest; it’s the nature of the country and the harmony that wants it new.
Update Feb. 23 Emergency Measures Revoked
Just a day after MPs approved it and potentially hours before being put to vote in the Senate, emergency measures invoked by the Trudeau Liberals last week have been revoked by cabinet decision.
Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu suggested on Twitter the prime minister decided to revoke the act instead of risking it being voted down by the Senate.
“The Prime Minister knew the Senate would not support him. He chose to back down rather than to admit defeat,” wrote Boisvenu in French.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association welcomed the government’s decision to revoke the measures — describing the move as “overdue.”
“We also continue to believe that it is important for the courts to comment on the legal threshold and constitutional issues so as to guide the actions of future governments,” said CCLA spokesperson Abby Deshman in a statement.
“Even though the orders are no longer in force, Canadians are left with the precedent that the government’s actions have set.”
She said the CCLA’s litigation against the government would continue.
First, a quiz: What do all of the following have in common?
If I give you the names of the following people – Biden, Trudeau, Ardern, Merkel, Macron, Draghi, Morrison, Xi Jinping – what do you think that they have in common? Yes, they are all pampered and stumble over themselves, but that is also not the connection.
One can see very quickly that these names certainly connect tolockdown countries and individuals who have ignored their own laws and/or tried in some way to usurp them. But, there is more to it than that and I will give a hint by providing a link with each name.
They are all associated with the World Economic Forum (WEF), a “nonprofit” private organization started (in 1971) and headed by Klaus “You will own nothing and be happy” Schwab and his family. This is a private organization that has no official bearing with any world governance body, despite the implication of the name. It could just as well have been called the “Church of Schwabies.” The WEF was the origin of the “Great Reset” and I would guess that it was the origin of “Build Back Better” (since most of the above names have used that term recently).
If you think that the WEF membership ends with just leaders of countries, here are a few more names:
Allow me to introduce more of the WEF by giving a list of names for the Board of Trustees.
Al Gore, Former VP of the US
Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action
T. Shanmugaratnam, Seminar Minister Singapore
Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank
Ngozi Okonja-Iweala, Director General, WTO
Kristalian Georggieva, Managing Director, IMF
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Minister of Canada
Laurence Fink, CEO, BlackRock
If you want to really see the extent of influence, go to the website and pick out thecorporate nameof your choice; there are many to choose from: Abbott Laboratories, Astra-Zeneca, Biogen, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Serum Institute of India, BASF, Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Blackrock, CISCO, Dell, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Zoom, Yahoo, Amazon, Airbus, Boeing, Honda, Rakuten, Walmart, UPS, Coca-Cola, UBER, Bank of China. Bank of America. Deutsche Bank, State Bank of India, Royal Bank of Canada, Lloyds Banking, JP Morgan-Chase, Equifax, Goldman-Sachs, Hong Kong Exchanges, Bloomberg, VISA, New York Times, Ontario (Canada) Teacher’s Pension Plan.
The extent of reach is huge even beyond the worldwide leader network. For example, we all know what Bill Gates has been doing with his wealth via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). But, the Wellcome Trust is equal to the task. Who is the Director of the Wellcome Trust? One named Jeremy Farrar, of the United Kingdom SAGE and lockdown fame – arguably the architect of the US-UK lockdowns in 2020 – is closely associated with WEF.
The questions now have to be asked:
Is this some beginning of a controlled authoritarian society intertwined via the WEF?
Has the Covid panic been deployed to set the stage? Please note, I am not a “Covid Denier” since the virus is real. But, has a normal seasonal respiratory virus been used as an excuse to activate the web?
The next questions, for those of uswho at least pretend to live in “Democratic” societies, have to be:
Is this whatyou expected and/or want from the people you elect?
How many people knew of the “Associations” of the people that they voted for? (I certainly did not know of the associations until I did the searches but maybe I am just out of touch)
Can we anticipate their next moves? There may be some hints.
The Next Move
Jeremy Farrar of The Wellcome Trust recently wrote an article for the WEF with the CEO of Novo Nordisk Foundation, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen. It is a summary of a larger piece written for and published by the Boston Consulting Group.
In this article, they propose that the way to “fix” the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria is via a subscription service. That is, you pay a fee and when you need an antibiotic, presumably an effective one will be available for you.
My guess is that they have the same philosophy for vaccines and that certainly seems to be the approach with Coronavirus. Keep paying for and taking boosters.
In view of this philosophy, the vaccine mandates make sense. Get society “addicted” to an intervention, effective or not, and then keep feeding them. This becomes especially effective if you can keep the fear going.
This approach is so shortsighted, from a scientific viewpoint, it astounds me. But, like much of recent history, I think science has little to do with it. The goal is not scientifically founded but control founded.
Producing more antibiotics and giving them on subscription to the users is not the answer. That will only lead to more resistant forms and there will be this continuing loop of antibiotic use. But, if the actual goal is societal addiction to antibiotics out of fear, just like addiction to universal Covid vaccines out of fear, then it makes sense.
Finding a few universal antibiotics that deal with the resistant forms is important and it is also important to use those sparingly and only as a last resort. In addition, better management of antibiotic use in our society would go a long way to attenuating the problem.
There is nothing particularly controversial about that observation. It was accepted by nearly every responsible health professional only two years ago. But we live now in different times of extreme experimentation, such as the deployment of world-wide lockdowns for a virus that had a highly focused impact, with catastrophic results for the world.
It was the WEF on March 21, 2020 that assured us “lockdowns can halt the spread of Covid-19.” Today that article, never pulled much less repudiated, stands as probably the most ridiculous and destructive suggestion and prediction of the 21st century. And yet, the WEF is still at it, suggesting that same year that at least lockdowns reduced carbon emissions.
We can easily predict that the WEF’s call for a universal and mandated subscription plan for antibiotics – pushed with the overt intention of shoring up financial capitalization of major drug manufacturers – will meet the same fate: poor health outcomes, more power to entrenched elites, and ever less liberty for the people.
One of the hallmarks of liberty is a reliable legal system. In totalitarian countries, one of the ways you control people is to keep them perpetually off-balance. The law and its application are utterly unpredictable. People become paralyzed and dare not do anything that might offend the regime, lest they get destroyed.
And that’s what we’re seeing in Canada, where the newly dictatorial government is making no pretense of abiding by the rule of law.
A very specific aspect of the rule of law is that new laws are not applied retroactively. In a free country, one with a safe, reliable legal system, if it was legal for you to buy a croissant on Monday, the fact that the law changed on Tuesday to make croissants illegal does not mean that the police can come and arrest you for that Monday croissant. In a police state, of course, the police can arrest you at any time for anything, including engaging in conduct that was legal when you engaged in it.
With that in mind, I give you a series of tweets from Mark Strahl, a Canadian Member of Parliament (so we must assume, for now, that he’s telling the truth):
Briane is a single mom from Chilliwack working a minimum wage job. She gave $50 to the convoy when it was 100% legal. She hasn’t participated in any other way. Her bank account has now been frozen. This is who Justin Trudeau is actually targeting with his Emergencies Act orders.
Every Canadian should be offended by this serious retroactive punishment. Briane herself went public and posted, whether jokingly or not, that “The Libz are all outside my house.” She seems cheerful enough in tone but that sounds unpleasant.
Tellingly, one person implied that Briane deserved to be punished for conduct that was not criminal at the time she acted because some members of the group she supported intimidated (without physical violence) a reporter from an outlet relentlessly hostile to the truckers.
Think about that: This person believes that, because a random crowd that got angry at a reporter who works for an outlet that has been demonizing them, Briane should be financially destroyed. That’s neither justice nor the rule of law. That’s sheer, tyrannical viciousness.
[ Meanwhile independent reporters were assaulted by police to keep them from recording their activities]
Rebel News reporter Alexa Lavoie was struck and injured by police while covering the ongoing Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/Z2ZhqWdLTa
And keep in mind that this new attitude on the part of the truckers—and attitude that still hasn’t turned to violence—began only after Trudeau, who first demonized and “otherized” them, began to use the vast power of the state to destroy them.
David Suissa, writing at the Jewish Journal, made a telling point about the moment when Canada went from a free country, that allowed people to express their views and petition their government, to a totalitarian country. (Hat tip: Instapundit)
On February 24, 2020, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Deepak Gupta, delivered a lecture to the Bar arguing that “the right to dissent is the most important right granted by the Constitution.”
Gupta took the ancient idea of challenging authority and gave it dignity: “To question, to challenge, to verify, to ask for accountability from the government is the right of every citizen under the constitution,” he said. “These rights should never be taken away otherwise we will become an unquestioning moribund society, which will not be able to develop any further.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would have done well to study Gupta’s address. When he responded to truckers protesting vaccine mandates by saying they had “unacceptable views,” he was undermining the fundamental right to dissent. He was saying, in essence: You have no right to think this way.
George Orwell would have recognized Trudeau’s statement. According to Justin “Big Brother” Trudeau, the truckers and their supporters had engaged in “crimethink” or “thoughtcrimes.” In other words, as Orwell explained, they were thinking about bad things such as liberty and equality.
The moment the government defines thoughtcrimes and then uses the power of the state to destroy those who engage in them, you have entered the world of tyranny.
Questions remain. Will Liberal parliamentarians rein in their egomaniac, or are they as lost as the US Democrats? Will Canadian jurists defend the rule of law, or will they aid and abet the government as is the case with January 6 protesters in the US?
There is a petition asking the Governor General to dissolve the government for violating the Canadian Constitution. Another petition calls on Canadian Parliamentarians to revoke the use of The Emergencies Act. Will anyone dare sign them lest their finances be seized?
For the 32nd Saturday in a row, Parisians took to the streets to demand the end of COVID restrictions & vaccine passports. Except, this time, the police joined the protesters. A French commentator has said that the police were not so much joining in as they were drifting along with a peaceful crowd to ensure that the protest remained orderly. Most police forces in the West (including America and Canada) would do well to follow this model—ensuring peace while allowing the people to exercise their inherent right to confront their governments.
The police response to protesters in Quebec City has been respectful of peoples’ rights both to protest and also for others to go on with their lives during the protests.
Climate Realism in Germany interviewed John Christy last year, as shown in the video above. For those who prefer reading, I provide a lightly edited transcript below in italics with my bolds and added images.
CR: Professor John Christy, thank you for joining me. Can you please tell me a bit about your background and who you are?
JC: Okay i was actually born and raised in California, the other side of the United States in a desert area of Fresno county. I went to school as a math major and then later as an atmospheric science major and received a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the University of Illinois. And I’ve been at the University of Alabama in Huntsville ever since I graduated here 35 years ago.
CR: So you’re you’re a researcher. Are you teaching or you do both?
JC: I do both research and teaching. I spend most of my time primarily on the research. It’s a field with research where you view data. My research is mostly on data analysis in terms of trying to build climate data sets from scratch. It’s so that we can have a record of how they were built and what they actually mean.
CR: You’ve been involved with a measurement of the of the climate so to speak, the measurement of temperature and moisture, water vapor and so forth. And you’ve actually been one of the pioneers in doing so. Can you tell me a little bit about how it all started and how it evolved until now with the satellite data?
JC: All right. Around 1988 or so there was a lot of information coming out stating that the globe was warming rapidly, and congressional hearings were held. But we knew that those data were based upon ground stations which were pretty sparse and not very well calibrated. And my colleague Roy Spencer being a satellite expert, we were able to take data from NOAA satellites that orbit the earth from pole to pole. They see the entire earth and take a deep layer of the atmosphere and get the temperature of that rather than something just right at the surface. We actually were able to measure the temperature of the entire troposphere from the surface to about 10 kilometers in altitude. That’s the bulk of the atmosphere, so if you know the temperature of that, you will know if there really is a change in what’s going on. We began that study in 1989 and published in 1990 and are still carrying on with satellites today.
CR: So your work with Roy Spencer, are you still colleagues or do you work together? How does it play out?
JC: Yes I’m the Director of the Earth System Science center here at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. And Roy is one of my chief scientists, so we work together right here in the same building.
CR: So you you collect the data from the satellites but you also use weather balloons. Is that still a thing with available balloons now we have the satellites?
JC: Oh weather balloons can do something satellites can’t. Weather balloons take precise temperature and humidity and wind readings at very discrete levels. Satellites see big layers, and so if you want to get the fine resolution in the vertical, you do need balloons. So we will continue to have balloon data.
CR: So how does does it work with balloons in practical terms? How often are they released and how how big a network do you have for people who release it?
JC: Well of course balloons are only released where people live and so that’s going to be at best a few islands out in the oceans and various places on the continents. United States and Europe and China have lots of balloon data but most of the rest of the continents do not. So we do have kind of a sparse network of balloons and that’s a little problem. So in comparing with satellites we take what the satellite sees at that same point where the balloon was released. And so we’re able to do a real direct comparison between the two.
CR: How long does the data go back for the balloons? Are they the same as the satellite record?
JC:The satellites start in late 1978, while the balloons go back about 20 years earlier, about 1957 or so. It’s enough coverage to where you have some sense of a global temperature.
CR: So would you say that the land-based weather stations are not really a good data set to conclude anything about the climate, like for the trends? Or are they useful for us to some extent?
JC: In terms of climate for long-term changes, the surface data set has a lot of problems. The great problem is that much of the major continents are not observed. There were only a few stations in Africa and South America. These are big continents, and lots of Asia is missing in the early part of the 19th century. So you don’t have much information there to make a temperature measurement for the globe.
CR: So the satellite doesn’t really come to play until the 1980s. Does that mean that we cannot really trust the data from from from prior that period?
JC: Well a lot of people try to work out the problems of the surface data set, and so we have some reasonable results from what they show. I believe that they probably exaggerate the warming over land because of the fact the weather stations are established where people live. And over the last 150 years people have created roads and parking lots and buildings and so on, and those affect the surface temperature measurements by warming them up a bit.
CR: So in the last 150 years the globe had been warming around one degree Celsius. Could it be less than that?
JC: I think it could be less than that but not too much, maybe a quarter degree less.
CR: So so you can still use the data to some extent?
JC: Yes I think what you see in the surface temperature data set is a very clear rise from 1910 or so to about 1940-1945, and then a leveling off until about 1970-75 and then a rise since that time. That’s probably a pretty good representation of what actually happened on the global climate.
CR: With some degree of uncertainty I guess?
JC: Yes and there is a big uncertainty. You know I like to build data sets to study the climate to tell us what the climate has done. The real big question is: Why did it do so? You can ask the question: Why did the earth warm from 1910 to 1945? It certainly wasn’t due to humans. So it would indicate that, I like to say Mother Nature, or natural variability can cause the global temperature to change.
CR: And that happened a bit before in the past. Do we have enough coverage of the world? I know that satellite data doesn’t include the arctic region. Is that correct?
JC: The satellite data we use to have a good enough and dense coverage for the polar regions extends to about 85 north and 85 south. So that’s a very tiny bit of the polar cap. That is not measured well enough, and so we don’t include that. But 99 percent of the globe we have enough coverage to get an accurate idea of what’s going on.
CR: Would you like more satellites?
JC: Well we can always use more satellites, mainly so that we can intercalibrate between them. You can imagine the satellite orbits pole to pole as the earth rotates underneath it and so the satellite has about 14 orbits per day that it sees everywhere around the earth. So it sees very systematically. One of the best things about a satellite is it uses one thermometer and it measures the globe systematically every day, and so we get a nice geographical coverage. And we do not have to worry about the fact that in surface temperature measurements you might have a spot here a spot there and then the station goes away and another one comes in or gets moved and so on. We don’t have those issues with the satellite data.
CR: But I’ve been reading about satellites when you launch them they have to be calibrated once in a while. Does that give some place for error in the measurement or are they very accurate?
JC: You know generally any data set is going to have some error. What we do is calibrate one satellite against another or against two others if there are three up there at the same time. So we can tell which one might be off and that has actually helped us discover the types of drifts that occur in the satellite data. So we’re able to correct for those and we put our error range plus or minus 0.05 degrees C per decade. So over the last four decades that would be a change in temperature we know within two-tenths of a degree. And the change hasn’t been much in the last forty years.
CR: What is interesting is the trend I guess, not the actual measurement for each each day.
JC: Yes, the change over time is what people are really concerned about. We can say the average temperature of the layer from zero to ten thousand feet is about 260 kelvin or about minus 13 Celsius. But that doesn’t mean a lot to people. When you say, oh it changed by one degree from 40 years ago to today, people can relate to that.
CR: The policies about the climate especially in the western part of the world actually hang upon IPCC’s climate models. How well does do those fit to the observations that you use, that you do see every day?
From John Christy’s testimony 29 March 2017 at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. “IPCC Assessment Reports show that the IPCC climate models performed best versus observations when they did not include extra GHGs and this result can be demonstrated with a statistical model as well.”
JC: The short answer is not very well. And we have tested many of these models through the years. We’ve really zeroed in on a part of the atmosphere that is very critical, that being the tropical atmosphere up around eight to ten kilometers or so. Because in that layer the earth releases a tremendous amount of heat. You can think of it like a vent that opens and releases heat and closes keeping the heat in. We found with climate models that they put a lot of water vapor and high clouds there that act to close the vent. When we look at the satellite data, it shows heat allowed to escape much more readily than models do. So the models keep the heat in, like closing that vent, and therefore the earth warms up faster than it should. When we compare the temperature of that layer with the actual measurements, the models tend to warm two to three times too rapidly. That’s a huge error.
CR: Is that by any means a scientific issue to be overcome, or do you see that the climate models they’re using have to be redone?
JC: Right. We have published these results, other people have published the same results, showing that the climate models are warming way too rapidly in the tropical atmosphere. And so one thing to do would be for models to figure out how to keep the humidity, the water vapor up there, from getting so moist. Because that’s what the models are doing, making that level too moist which acts like a blanket or like closing the vent in other words.
If you remove that water vapor to some extent, it will allow the heat to escape to space. And here’s just one little calculation we did. In the real world when the earth temperature warms up one degree, you have about 2.6 watts of energy leaving. So the atmospheric temperature warms up one degree and the atmosphere sheds 2.6 watts. The same calculation from the climate models showed 1.4 watts. In other words, when the climate models warm up the atmosphere, they don’t release as much heat and so that heat is retained in the system and causes that extra warming that we see in the climate models.
And for policymaking as I mentioned earlier that just shouldn’t be the case because climate models should not be used for policy if they cannot model the system correctly.
Figure 8: Warming in the tropical troposphere according to the CMIP6 models. Trends 1979–2014 (except the rightmost model, which is to 2007), for 20°N–20°S, 300–200 hPa. Source: John Christy (2019)
CR: So in your mind why is it they are so wrong, what are they doing wrong? You mentioned they accentuated the water vapor, but what what is fundamentally wrong with the models?
JC: Well I don’t know exactly how this works in the climate models. When you require the humidity, the percentage of moisture to be constant, then if you warm up the atmosphere a little bit, you increase the amount of water vapor there to keep the humidity constant. Warmer air holds a lot more water vapor than cold air, and so if you increase the temperature that means you have to increase the water vapor, which means you’re closing the vent and increasing the temperature even more.
To sum up in a very simple statement: The climate models don’t agree with what has happened in the past, and they don’t agree with each other about what’s going to happen in the future. So why would you use them for climate policy?
The policies are built upon this theory that when you raise co2 you you warm the climate a little bit atmosphere and then the water vapor will start to increase in the atmosphere and that will trap even more heat, and that’s gonna gonna make a warming spiral.
CR: Has that happened in the historyof the earth?
JC: That’s a good point. If you look at the long history of the earth system, say for example when corals evolved about 60 million years ago or so. The earth had four times as much co2 as it does now. So in terms of life on the planet, co2 is food it’s wonderful for life. If we put more life, more co2 in the atmosphere the biological world would love it. In fact I was talking to some folks in the farming industry and they are creating fertilizers and so on to increase yield. They are able now to increase the yield of crops to the limit of what co2 is in the atmosphere. And they just can’t increase them any further because there needs to be more co2 for the plant to grow even better. Plants evolved at a much higher level of co2, so it’s no wonder why they are so happy when we increase it a little bit.
CR: So you you don’t see the current level of co2, the rising of the co2 wherever it comes from, as a problem climate wise?
JC: That’s right. I don’t see that the cost of rising co2 concentrations is that important. It’s certain that the plant world loves it. And you could also say there’s something else involved here. That rising co2 represents the fact people are living longer and better lives. And that’s a huge benefit that carbon energy has allowed people’s lifespans and the quality of their life to increase dramatically in the last hundred years.
At the same time because of our wealth, we’ve been able to mitigate the damages and the deaths from climate events you might have seen some of the charts that show deaths from climate events are down 95% in the past 100 years, because we are wealthier and use energy to protect ourselves from the climate.
CR: I guess one degree warmer climate will only benefit this growth because it’s easier to grow crops when it’s warm than when it’s cold.
JC: Yes, when you do a full accounting of the benefits of extra co2, you will find that you end up with a positive. If you put more co2 in the atmosphere that actually makes the living standards of people rise even more, and the biological world advance even more.
But is there a threshold so to speak. Let’s say as a guess co2 level have been rising about 100 parts per million over the last 100 years or so. It doesn’t seem that extreme. But could it in theory trigger some some kind of rapid warming if we release a huge amount of co2 by burning all the fossil fuels? Could could it do some damage?
Well there are a lot of scary stories out there about reaching some kind of tipping point. But it turns out that the way carbon dioxide acts in terms of a radiative gas, the amount of energy it absorbs decreases in its incremental effect. So if you double co2 there is one effect; if you double it again that effect is less than half of what the first doubling was. So you have this approaching a limit when there is no additional climate impact from extra co2.
And these amounts of co2 will always be below any kind of threshold that would be cause it to be a pollution or problem. In fact if you can go into a lecture hall and take a co2 monitor, you will find it’s around a thousand parts per million. So a thousand parts per million is not a problem. for uh
CR: Do we know the the threshold for where where co2 doesn’t really do any anything more or is it still debatable?
JC: That is debatable because of how these feedbacks work that i mentioned earlier. Some people think that the feedbacks will always be positive as in adding extra water vapor making the temperature go up and up. That’s a positive feedback. We just don’t know enough about how those feedbacks will happen, but we can look at the past and see that they happen very gradually. And we see that the atmosphere has negative feedbacks too. The atmosphere has ways to shed that extra heat which keeps the planet from shooting off into some kind of runaway warming.
CR: I guess a lot of that water vapor will go into clouds and rain back that is cooling too.
JC: Yes, we have been trying to determine the sensitivity of the climate to co2 for decades.
CR: Are we are we close to finding a current answer?
JC: That is a very sore point among climate models as you probably know. Through the years the climate sensitivity from doubling co2 has ranged from: Will it warm up 1.5 degrees or 4.5 degrees Celsius. That’s been the kind of range, and the latest models show an even wider range going up to 5.6 so. The answer from the scientific community is: We don’t know what’s going on because every time we have a new model, we get a completely different result. And right now they vary over a factor of three, which is a huge error range for any kind of science. a factor of three
We have calculations with real data, with empirical data where we know how much extra forcing was put on the climate system. And then compare what the temperature response is over the past several decades. We get a number right at the bottom of that range about 1.5 to 1.7, which has very little impact in terms of climate events on the planet.
CR: So if co2 is not the dominant factor in a climate system, what is the dominant factor?
JC: Well, you have to talk about dominant factors on many time scales. On a year or two time scales we know that would be volcanic eruptions or el nino, la nina ocean circulations. As you go into century scale you have to talk about how the oceans change in their circulation, and is that going on right now.
Those things may be fooling us about what carbon dioxide might be doing. And that is the real crux of the issue. How can you know the impact of the extra carbon dioxide when mother nature is also playing big roles and causing changes. It’s very difficult to extract one from the other.
CR: I’ve seen a research recently with some physicists who who saw a link between the sun’s solar cycle and the la nina el nino. In their paper they used 22 year cycle of the sun and they actually see a link. Is that something you also find in your research or are you just focusing on the atmosphere?
JC: Well I’ve looked just at the last 40 years with our satellite data and for the stratosphere, way up in the atmosphere we see a very strong link between the solar variations and the temperature up there. But down in the troposphere it’s much harder to find just on a 40-year time scale. But on the longer time scales I have seen some results that show that the variation in the strength of the sunspot cycle, or really the solar irradiated flux that comes into the earth, does have a relationship with the land surface temperature. And so that’s another mother nature factor, those natural factors that confuse us when we try to figure out the carbon dioxide signal.
CR: There’s many factors in play all the time and they can make each other stronger, can make each other bigger.
JC: So we cannot forget the factor of internal variability. Apart from the sun or volcanoes, just within the climate system itself, there is the capability to organize itself and create hot periods and cold periods. If you look back in history you will see that just naturally the climate can have these large variations.
CR: Is that due to the ocean atmosphere connection or is it atmosphere layer who plays the role? Where does it come from?
JC: These kind of variations I believe are primarily driven by the ocean circulation and atmosphere response. But I have to say the atmosphere also has impact on the oceans so it is a two-way street Why do so many indicators show that the earth was warmer a thousand years ago? Especially in many regions it was just warmer a thousand years ago than today, and yet the sun really hasn’t changed that much in that time period. So what other kind of natural variations would have occurred to create that warm period?
CR: You have been involved in the IPCC as a lead author a long time ago. Why did you leave that organization?
JC: Well the IPCC is not something you leave. The IPCC is something to which you are invited and I was invited to be a lead author because of the work on the satellite data and other temperature data sets I had built and published. That report that was the TAR or the third assessment report. IPCC has not allowed any skeptical scientists to be part of the authorship team since then. And so when they say we have the consensus of scientists, they have the consensus of the scientists they picked. So if you agree with the consensus then you get picked to be a author. And as you can imagine you end up with a document that agrees with this consensus.
CR: So have you been involved in any of the any of the conclusions?
JC: I have been a reviewer. I volunteered to be a reviewer but we found through the last couple of cycles that they really don’t pay attention to our reviewer comments if they are skeptical or challenge the views that IPCC wants to make.
I will say that there are some good things about the IPCC. If you go into the very thick document that outlines a lot of the individual results and research efforts, you will find some very good material there. It’s the summary statements that come out that the press feeds on. So the research details are pretty much ignored because they just want a dramatic story to tell.
CR: When I see the data that the global temperatures have risen from 1980 to around 2000 it seems to me there’s a kind of leveling off just like in the 1960s era. But co2 is still climbing as it it used to do. Has anyone come up with a explanation for this stagnation of temperature?
JC: The only explanation that really works is the the internal natural variability of the climate system. The system within itself can make warmer periods and colder periods happen. The el ninos and la ninas, those spikes every few years that last one or two years, pretty much balanced out in in the last 40 years. So that you have a trend overall of about 1.5 degrees per century. And that’s much lower than what the climate models have been indicating. They’re generally running about 2.5 to 3 degrees per century.
CR: There’s been a huge debate about whether this huge rise in co2 is due to human activity alone. What do you think about that?
JC: The humans have certainly caused most of it and they have some very good information about how that happens. One of the interesting ones is to look at the oxygen level in the atmosphere and the oxygen level has declined a very tiny bit that matches the increase in co2. When you burn carbon you oxidize it so carbon becomes co2 and you take that oxygen out of the atmosphere. So that’s one of the examples showing that the rise is almost certainly due to human progress.
I should say people don’t go out and burn carbon because they’re just bad people. We burn carbon because it helps our lives, it provides the energy that gives us longer and better lives. And more and more of the world wants to do that, in China and other countries.
CR: And we humans are kind of a tropical species we don’t thrive well in cold area, we don’t have energy and shelter so I guess we are smart animals
JC: Yes we have figured out that climate is dangerous. It’s always dangerous and we figured out how to make it safe. There’s a reason why not many people live in the arctic region and a lot of people live near the equator. So I tell the story that in the United States that over the last 120 years the temperature has changed about four degrees for the average American. Well that’s because a lot of Americans have moved to the south where it’s warmer. So the average American lives in a much warmer climate.
CR: Is is that due to poverty or something else or it just is easier to thrive in a warmer climate?
JC: I think it’s because warmer climates are just much easier to live with. You can go outside many more days a year and enjoy your outdoor activities because you’re a warm person now. Someone from Wisconsin in the United States says I love ice fishing and so they like the cold weather and that’s fine. and then they have a summer house in Texas.
CR: in your point of view what would be the most important to research within the next 5 to 10 years to have a better understanding of the climate system? What are the missing puzzles we need to solve?
JC: I think there’s always work to be done on the observational data sets especially especially a hundred years ago or so. But in terms of the science question, we need to know what happens in the in the upper atmosphere regarding the moist thermodynamics. How does water vapor change, how do clouds change? Those are the keys to understanding why in the real world when the earth warms up it releases a lot of heat but in the model world it doesn’t release that heat and retains it and keeps it hot on the surface.
CR: Is that something we are close to understanding or is it still a long time before we really have a big picture?
JC: That’s a very good question because this same mistake has been going on for 40 years and you would think that that modelers would really make a big effort to try to dial back to reduce that problem. But we just don’t see it.
CR: Is that because of the political influence in the science?
JC: You know that can’t be ruled out that. When you have a model that tells a terrifying story you get attention. And that helps you with future funding and efforts, and also helps you get published. Because publishers like to present scary things because that’s what people buy.
CR: I’ve spoken to a few scientists as you and they they all like see this trend that when you want to research something and if it could be a little bit skeptic towards the so-called consensus, it’s pretty hard to get funding. Do you think that this political control over science has threatened the public credibility of science?
JC: Yes I think that it has happened that climate science has been corrupted to a large extent. The funding agencies will fund those scientists who are looking at climate problems and and how bad the climate can get. They’re pretty much unwilling to fund skeptical type questions that people like me ask. We do have some funding, but if you look at the total picture, the amount of funding towards skeptics is well under five percent. So it’s a tough road to go up against that kind of money.
CR: I guess that’s why you don’t see that many skeptical articles being released, because they really don’t have the money to do the research.
Europe just made a big agreement to lower the carbon emissions to 70 % of of the current level by 2035. In your point of view would that make any difference to the climate if the whole of Europe managed to do that? Would that change the temperature? Will we be able to measure the effect in terms of the climate?
JC: There won’t be any effect. I actually did the calculation if we completely eliminated the United States from the earth: no people, no car, s nothing. And the impact was very tiny, less than a tenth of a degree by 2050. So, no it’s not going to have an effect especially when the rest of the world wants to have the energy like we have. They want to have a life that’s long and that’s prosperous like we have. And so they will be using energy more and more and so Europe and the United States are not driving the bus on this.
CR: So we’re pretty much out of the picture now. What what kind of actions does it take to tip the scale to make an impact? Because 100 parts per million seems a very tiny bit of increase. Would it matter if the whole world stopped to work?
JC: You know I can’t imagine that world but suppose in our imagination that carbon dioxide was just stopped. That wouldn’t have much effect on the climate because there’s so much co2 in the atmosphere already and so it wouldn’t change the curve very much. And the climate would not notice much at all.
Actually most of the policies they make in the U.S. and in Europe doesn’t have much effect on the climate system. If the climate models are right, and I don’t think they are, and we use these policies you’re talking about, the global temperature is going to be affected by hundreds of degrees not even a tenth of a degree because we’re still emitting. We’re only just taking down our emissions a little bit with great pain by the way. And you have to balance that with what kind of suffering are you causing. You know I lived in africa and i can tell you that without energy, life is brutal and short. Those people are people just like us and they want to have a lifestyle where they can live long and prosper. And we should not be the people to tell them they can’t. If in fact if you look at the real numbers they aren’t following any of our advice. They are moving forward with progress.
CR: It seems this climate consensus, you know this worry about the climate is only the western world, U.S. maybe Australia maybe Japan, but it seems like the rest of Asia just really don’t care, they just go along and do what they’ve always been doing.
JC: The way i heard expressed one time is when you have food on the table you can worry about climate change. When you don’t have food on the table you never worry about climate change, you worry about putting food on the table.
CR: Actually in in Europe especially in Denmark and in Germany we have have the highest energy prices in the world due to huge funding for renewable energy. And the number of energy poverty especially in Germany is rising like rocket because more more people cannot afford to to heat their homes. So it has a big effect on even modern society.
JC: You would think that policymakers would understand that that if you raise the price of energy you just raise the price of everything. And really what you’ve done is create millions of jobs in China and India. So you’re working toward a system of full employment for China and Southeast Asia and less employment in Europe.
CR: If you had the power, if those policies shouldn’t be in effect, what would you change? if not that big priority in co2, what would you prioritize instead?
JC: Well you know I hadn’t thought about being a president of the world so that I could initiate policies. But I would roll back the regulations, especially those regulations that benefit the renewables. I would want them to stand on their own that they produce electricity at a price that people can afford. And let natural gas come more into play. And if renewables can’t compete with natural gas, then they should go away. It’s just a market economy, that’s a free market system where whatever is best and most competitive is that which survives. And that that’s what people want: to have the most affordable way to meet their demands.
So that’s probably the biggest thing. I would take a look at all those regulations that benefit renewables. When they have had benefits for decades and still cannot produce electricity at the amount and cost that we need.
CR: There really isn’t in my point of view any alternative to fossil fuels, maybe nuclear energy, but eventually it will run out so we have to think about something in the future if not nuclear.
JC: Here’s what I would say about that. We didn’t leave the stone age because we ran out of rocks. And we didn’t leave the wood age because we ran out of trees. It’s because something better came along. We will leave the carbon age when something better comes along and I suppose it’s going to be something like nuclear because that has huge base load capability. It can produce lots of power and it’s very small in terms of its area that affects the planet. While these renewables require great amounts of area and they need the minerals that are used to build them. It’s a very environmentally damaging situation and then the waste that they create is huge and a big problem that we’re seeing now.
I think that we will be leaving the carbon age this century because we will find better ways to use nuclear. The way I see it there will be the types of reactors that can be deployed and built rapidly and provide just continuous power that we can use.
Justin Trudeau’s confrontation with the Canadian truckers may be the single most significant event of the Covid pandemic – not because of its eventual outcome, whatever that may be, but because of what it symbolises. It captures, in perfect microcosm, the tensions between the competing imperatives of the age:
♦ freedom versus security; ♦ the rule of law versus flexible ‘responsive’ governance; ♦ the priorities of the workers versus those of the Zooming bourgeoisie; ♦ the need for real-world human interaction and belonging versus the promises of splendid online isolation; ♦ the experiences of the common man, who knows where it hurts, versus those of the professional expert class, who know nothing that cannot be expressed as a formula.
More than all of that, though, it gives us a lens through which to view a much deeper, much older conflict of much larger scope – one which underlies not just the struggles of the Covid age, but of modernity itself. On the one hand, the state, which seeks to make all of society transparent to its power. On the other, alternative sources of authority – the family, the church, the community, the firm, the farm, and the human individual herself.
For centuries, the state has waged a quiet war against those competitors,
and bent them to its will.
It has done this not through conspiracy or deliberate strategy but merely through the single-minded pursuit, across generation after generation of political leaders, of one goal: legitimacy. Governments and other state organs derive their legitimacy, and therefore their positions of rulership, from convincing the population that they are necessary.
They do this by suggesting that without their intervention, things will go badly;
left to their own devices, ordinary people will suffer.
The family, the church, the community, the firm, the farm, the human individual – these are inadequate to the task of securing human well-being. That task, only the state is equipped to achieve, for only the state can keep the population educated, healthy, safe, prosperous and satisfied. Since this is the case, only the state is fit to deploy power – and only those who govern the state are fit to rule.
The logic of this argument is writ large, of course, in the Covid response across the developed world. What will keep us ‘safe?’ Certainly not traditional sources of succour, such as the church or the family. Certainly not individual people, who cannot be trusted to behave responsibly or assess risks for themselves.
No – it is only the state, first with its lockdowns, then with its social distancing, its mask mandates, its vaccine programs, and lately its vaccine mandates and ‘passports.’ It is only the state’s power that saves and secures. And since only the state can save, it is the only legitimate source of authority – along, of course, with its leaders.
The state portraying itself as saviour in this fashion is patently false and absurd given what has taken place over the past two years.
But as false and absurd as it is, it remains the subtext behind all of Covid policy. Justin Trudeau must derive his legitimacy from somewhere to maintain power. And he senses – political animal that he is – that he can derive it from displaying the Canadian state (with himself at the helm, of course) as the only thing standing between the Canadian public and suffering and death.
It is the state, remember – in this case with its vaccine mandates – that saves and secures. Without it, the reasoning goes, the population would suffer and die as Covid ran riot. The political logic is inescapable. For a man like Trudeau, without principle except that he alone is fit to govern, there is only one path to follow. Insist that it is the state that saves and secures, and that anything that stands in its way – truckers beware – must therefore be crushed beneath its heel.
The truckers, for their part, represent everything that the state despises.
They have a social and political power that is independent from it, and hence form one of the alternative sources of power which it hates and fears. This power derives not from some institution which the truckers dominate, but simply from their status amongst what I will refer to as the yeomanry classes – almost the last bastion of self-sufficiency and independence in a modern society such as Canada.
In a developed economy, most of the professional classes – doctors, academics, teachers, civil servants and the like – derive their incomes and status entirely or partially, directly or indirectly, from the existence of the state. If they are not civil servants, their status is built on regulatory apparatus which only the state can build and enforce. This is also, of course, true of the underclass, who are often almost totally reliant on the state for the meeting of their needs. The members of these classes pose no threat to the state’s legitimacy, because, simply put, they need it. It, as a consequence, is perfectly happy to tolerate their existence – and, indeed, it wishes all of society were that way inclined.
A population entirely reliant on the state is one which will never question the necessity of the growth of its power and hence its capacity to buttress its own legitimacy.
But in the middle are those people, the modern yeomanry, who derive their incomes from private sources, as sole traders, owners of small businesses, or employees of SMEs. Independent-minded, seeing self-sufficiency as a virtue, and relying on themselves and their relationships with others rather than the state, these modern yeomen represent a natural barrier to its authority. Simply put, they do not need it. They earn their money through the use of a particular skill which others value and hence pay for on the open market.
Whether or not the state exists is immaterial to their success – and, indeed, it very frequently stands in their way. These are the type of people who, seeing a problem, tend to want to find a solution for themselves. And they are precisely the kind of people who want to make up their own minds about whether to take a vaccine, and to assess health-related risks in general.
The modern state has waged incessant and covert war against the yeomanry in particular.
At every step, it seeks to regulate their business affairs, restrict their liberty, and confiscate their prosperity. There is always a purportedly ‘good’ reason for this. But it contributes to an incessant whittling away of their independence and strength. It is no accident that they are described in British parlance as the ‘squeezed middle’ – squashed as they are between the welfare-reliant underclass on the one hand, and the white-collar professionals who draw their wealth, directly or indirectly, from the state on the other.
It is also no accident that these modern yeomen have gradually seen their political representation diminish over the course of the last 100 years, in whichever developed society one cares to name; the politicians they would elect would be mostly interested in getting the state out of the way, and modern politicians’ incentives all incline in the opposite direction. Their interest is in the inexorable growth of state power, because that is from where their legitimacy derives.
Justin Trudeau’s contempt for the truckers is therefore genuine and profound.
He sees in them not an obstacle to Covid policy or a potential threat to public health. Not even he could possibly be so stupid as to think it matters whether or not these people take their vaccines. No: he identifies in them a barrier to forces in which his political future is entwined – an ever-increasing scope and scale for governmental authority, and the opportunities to buttress his own legitimacy that would follow from it.
And his contempt for them is outweighed, of course, by his fear. Because he surely recognises that his authority is wafer-thin. Legitimacy cuts both ways. If he fails to suppress the truckers’ revolt, the entire edifice on which his authority rests – as the helmsman of the Canadian state and its purported capacity to protect the population from harm – will come tumbling down.
This conflict is therefore not about Covid – it’s existential. Does it matter if the truckers win or lose? No. What matters is what their efforts have revealed to us about the relationship between the state and society in 2022.
Governments across the globe have taken extreme measures over the past two years to combat COVID-19. The rationale is always the same: This is an emergency. But do governments understand the implications of this claim? A perpetual state of crisis cannot be a stable basis for civil government. Politicians who continually appeal to this justification may soon find they have unleashed forces beyond their control.
It is hard to live in a state of emergency for two years or more, especially when it affects everything from the air in front of your face to your ability to travel. Throughout the pandemic, many have repeated Milton Friedman’s quip that “there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.” They were warning that the “exceptional circumstances” justifying emergency measures might prove enduring. Unfortunately, this warning has become our reality. Governments that were quick to impose restrictions have been reticent to rescind them, and many measures may not be rescinded at all. Leaders have learned that they can mandate masks, confine citizens to their homes, and limit public life to those who have had a certain medical procedure. Once leaders taste such powers, it is tempting to cling to them.
And even where some restrictions are loosening, governments are not relinquishing the right to impose such restrictions.
This month, Scotland is set to renew the Coronavirus Act, which granted the Scottish government emergency powers earlier in the pandemic. If this happens, by the time the powers expire, the government will have had emergency powers for two and half years. Never mind that in 2020, the rate of age-adjusted all-cause mortality in Scotland was lower than in 2009. In Scotland, as in many other countries, vaccine passports, mask mandates, school closures, and lockdowns appear to have become part of the magistrates’ governing repertoire—ready to be implemented again the moment the opportunity arises.
In an interview for Le Monde in March 2020, Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben said, “The epidemic has made clear that the state of exception to which our governments have actually accustomed us for quite some time, has become the normal condition. . . . A society that exists in a perennial state of emergency cannot be free.” Agamben had written previously about the concept of “the state of exception” in reference to the “war on terror” and the way that the threat of terrorism served to justify the suspension of civil liberties for a certain group of people. For Agamben, the novel coronavirus was simply a fresh occasion for a similar approach. Leaders used the threat of impending death and catastrophe to give the government extraordinary powers in order to defeat the enemy.
Nearly two years after Agamben spoke to Le Monde, we remain in this state of exception. It is easy to be pessimistic about the future. However, in the foreword to Where Are We Now? (2021), a collection of pandemic reflections, Agamben strikes a different note.
What accounts for the strength of the current transformation is also . . . its weakness. . . . For decades now, institutional powers have been suffering a gradual loss of legitimacy. These powers could mitigate this loss only through the constant evocation of states of emergency. . . . For how long . . . can the present state of exception be prolonged? Agamben’s question is a good one.
A state of emergency is unstable by definition.
The current protests against vaccine mandates in Canada reveal that government authority and legitimacy are more fragile than we ordinarily suppose. For in emergencies, it is not only governments who respond. The Canadians who are protesting vaccine restrictions also appeal to extraordinary circumstances to justify their actions. After Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau complained that the protesters “are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” the Babylon Bee published an apt headline: “Trudeau Demands Protesters Stop Shutting Down City So That He Can Shut Down City.” Governments who claim that circumstances require extraordinary measures may find that their citizens also take extraordinary measures.
Governments cannot have it both ways: Ordinary times carry with them ordinary constitutional constraints on government action and ordinary obligations to obey and comply. If governments appeal to a permanent state of exception to elude the former, it will find that more and more people consider themselves free of the latter.
That is why, for the sake of constitutional order and legitimacy,
government claims for extraordinary powers must cease.
Now that the deadliest phase of the pandemic has passed, the real emergency, at this point, is the permanent appeal to emergency. The urgent need is for governments to abandon urgency and return to the slow, steady business of governance. Good jurisprudence and government depend on a return to precedented times. As it is, too many governments are paying the mortgage on their extraordinary powers with the capital of their legitimacy. If they persist for much longer, some may begin to find that both have been spent.
Graham Shearer is a doctoral student at Union Theological College in Belfast and a fellow of the Chalmers Institute.