The Goodness of Global Warming

LAI refers to Leaf Area Index.

As noted in other posts here, warming comes and goes and a cooling period may now be ensuing. See No Global Warming, Chilly January Land and Sea.  Matt Ridley provides a concise and clear argument to celebrate any warming that comes to our world in his Spiked article Why global warming is good for us.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Climate change is creating a greener, safer planet.

Global warming is real. It is also – so far – mostly beneficial. This startling fact is kept from the public by a determined effort on the part of alarmists and their media allies who are determined to use the language of crisis and emergency. The goal of Net Zero emissions in the UK by 2050 is controversial enough as a policy because of the pain it is causing. But what if that pain is all to prevent something that is not doing net harm?

The biggest benefit of emissions is global greening, the increase year after year of green vegetation on the land surface of the planet. Forests grow more thickly, grasslands more richly and scrub more rapidly. This has been measured using satellites and on-the-ground recording of plant-growth rates. It is happening in all habitats, from tundra to rainforest. In the four decades since 1982, as Bjorn Lomborg points out, NASA data show that global greening has added 618,000 square kilometres of extra green leaves each year, equivalent to three Great Britains. You read that right: every year there’s more greenery on the planet to the extent of three Britains. I bet Greta Thunberg did not tell you that.

The cause of this greening? Although tree planting, natural reforestation, slightly longer growing seasons and a bit more rain all contribute, the big cause is something else. All studies agree that by far the largest contributor to global greening – responsible for roughly half the effect – is the extra carbon dioxide in the air. In 40 years, the proportion of the atmosphere that is CO2 has gone from 0.034 per cent to 0.041 per cent. That may seem a small change but, with more ‘food’ in the air, plants don’t need to lose as much water through their pores (‘stomata’) to acquire a given amount of carbon. So dry areas, like the Sahel region of Africa, are seeing some of the biggest improvements in greenery. Since this is one of the poorest places on the planet, it is good news that there is more food for people, goats and wildlife.

But because good news is no news, green pressure groups and environmental correspondents in the media prefer to ignore global greening. Astonishingly, it merited no mentions on the BBC’s recent Green Planet series, despite the name. Or, if it is mentioned, the media point to studies suggesting greening may soon cease. These studies are based on questionable models, not data (because data show the effect continuing at the same pace). On the very few occasions when the BBC has mentioned global greening it is always accompanied by a health warning in case any viewer might glimpse a silver lining to climate change – for example, ‘extra foliage helps slow climate change, but researchers warn this will be offset by rising temperatures’.

Another bit of good news is on deaths. We’re against them, right? A recent study shows that rising temperatures have resulted in half a million fewer deaths in Britain over the past two decades. That is because cold weather kills about ’20 times as many people as hot weather’, according to the study, which analyses ‘over 74million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries’. This is especially true in a temperate place like Britain, where summer days are rarely hot enough to kill. So global warming and the unrelated phenomenon of urban warming relative to rural areas, caused by the retention of heat by buildings plus energy use, are both preventing premature deaths on a huge scale.

Summer temperatures in the US are changing at half the rate of winter temperatures and daytimes are warming 20 per cent slower than nighttimes. A similar pattern is seen in most countries. Tropical nations are mostly experiencing very slow, almost undetectable daytime warming (outside cities), while Arctic nations are seeing quite rapid change, especially in winter and at night. Alarmists love to talk about polar amplification of average climate change, but they usually omit its inevitable flip side: that tropical temperatures (where most poor people live) are changing more slowly than the average.

My Mind is Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts. H/T Bjorn Lomborg, WUWT

But are we not told to expect more volatile weather as a result of climate change? It is certainly assumed that we should. Yet there’s no evidence to suggest weather volatility is increasing and no good theory to suggest it will. The decreasing temperature differential between the tropics and the Arctic may actually diminish the volatility of weather a little.

Indeed, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) repeatedly confirms, there is no clear pattern of storms growing in either frequency or ferocity, droughts are decreasing slightly and floods are getting worse only where land-use changes (like deforestation or building houses on flood plains) create a problem. Globally, deaths from droughts, floods and storms are down by about 98 per cent over the past 100 years – not because weather is less dangerous but because shelter, transport and communication (which are mostly the products of the fossil-fuel economy) have dramatically improved people’s ability to survive such natural disasters.

The effect of today’s warming (and greening) on farming is, on average, positive: crops can be grown farther north and for longer seasons and rainfall is slightly heavier in dry regions. We are feeding over seven billion people today much more easily than we fed three billion in the 1960s, and from a similar acreage of farmland. Global cereal production is on course to break its record this year, for the sixth time in 10 years.

Nature, too, will do generally better in a warming world. There are more species in warmer climates, so more new birds and insects are arriving to breed in southern England than are disappearing from northern Scotland. Warmer means wetter, too: 9,000 years ago, when the climate was warmer than today, the Sahara was green. Alarmists like to imply that concern about climate change goes hand in hand with concern about nature generally. But this is belied by the evidence. Climate policies often harm wildlife: biofuels compete for land with agriculture, eroding the benefits of improved agricultural productivity and increasing pressure on wild land; wind farms kill birds and bats; and the reckless planting of alien sitka spruce trees turns diverse moorland into dark monoculture.

Meanwhile, real environmental issues are ignored or neglected because of the obsession with climate. With the help of local volunteers I have been fighting to protect the red squirrel in Northumberland for years. The government does literally nothing to help us, while it pours money into grants for studying the most far-fetched and minuscule possible climate-change impacts. Invasive alien species are the main cause of species extinction worldwide (like grey squirrels driving the red to the margins), whereas climate change has yet to be shown to have caused a single species to die out altogether anywhere.

Of course, climate change does and will bring problems as well as benefits. Rapid sea-level rise could be catastrophic. But whereas the sea level shot up between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, rising by about 60 metres in two millennia, or roughly three metres per century, today the change is nine times slower: three millimetres a year, or a foot per century, and with not much sign of acceleration. Countries like the Netherlands and Vietnam show that it is possible to gain land from the sea even in a world where sea levels are rising. The land area of the planet is actually increasing, not shrinking, thanks to siltation and reclamation.

Environmentalists don’t get donations or invitations to appear on the telly if they say moderate things. To stand up and pronounce that ‘climate change is real and needs to be tackled, but it’s not happening very fast and other environmental issues are more urgent’ would be about as popular as an MP in Oliver Cromwell’s parliament declaring, ‘The evidence for God is looking a bit weak, and I’m not so very sure that fornication really is a sin’. And I speak as someone who has made several speeches on climate in parliament.

No wonder we don’t hear about the good news on climate change.

 

 

Leftists Used to Side With Truckers. What Happened?

Damon Linker explains at msn.com When protests aren’t progressive.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

How the Freedom Convoy is scrambling the left’s view of history

After absorbing two weeks of criticism for doing too little in response to the “Freedom Convoy” that has blocked border crossings across Canada and paralyzed the capital city of Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a national emergency on Monday, giving the federal government broad powers to restore public order.

Copycat demonstrations have already cropped up in countries around the world, from the United States and France to Israel and New Zealand. Each has taken aim at vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions and sought to challenge elected governments. So far the immediate political effect has been fairly limited because the people protesting constitute a minority just about everywhere (though sometimes a fairly robust one).

But that doesn’t diminish the potency of this specific act of dissent, which has already proven quite effective at delivering a swift kick in the Achilles’ heel of the center-left politicians and parties the world over. The trucker protests have gone a long way toward demonstrating the limits of the progressive capacity to represent the interests and outlook of the working class.

The progressive left thinks this is how progress happens — when the powerless, the oppressed, and their allies demand in the streets that the arc of history be bent toward justice, refusing to accept the efforts of the powerful, the rich, and other established powers to resist change. When such protests break out, there is a mighty pull on the left to support and join them — to become part of the solution instead of the problem. The temptation is equally great to extend the benefit of the doubt to those demonstrating, even when they engage in rioting and looting. Their hearts are in the right place, after all. They’re on the right side of history and merely impatient. And really, what’s a little property damage in comparison with the egregious violations of justice that infect the system as a whole?

But this isn’t at all the way progressives have responded to the trucker protests in Canada and elsewhere. From elected officials to commentators in the media, the tone of the reaction has been closer to outright contempt. And the reason why is obvious: The truckers aren’t pursuing progressive aims. They’re taking a stand against public health regulations and restrictions imposed by progressive governments, and that has angered the powers that be.

This has led some conservatives to hurl their favorite accusation at the left: Progressives are hypocrites! They claim to support protests, but only when people marching are on their side!

The charge is valid, as far as it goes. But it misses what’s most illuminating in the left’s hostile reaction to the trucker protests. Progressives aren’t just displaying ideological double standards. They’re lashing out against the fact that some of their most fundamental social and political assumptions are no longer valid — or at least much less valid than they once were.

Those toward the bottom of the sociopolitical hierarchy railing against systemic injustices don’t necessarily favor progressive aims and
may actually prefer policies and goals normally associated with the right.

We’ve heard versions of this story in many times and places over the past half decade or so. Center-left parties around the world have lost ground with the working class and become strongly favored by educational and economic elites instead. The precise way this breaks out varies somewhat from place to place. Education is especially salient in the United States, with the most highly educated consistently skewing left and the Republican Party gaining in support among those who don’t go to college.

In Canada, the young and the poor are most sympathetic to the dissenting truckers, while the oldest and richest Canadians are most hostile to them.

We don’t yet know how long current trends will continue or how far these coalitional transformations will go. Trump’s efforts to rebrand the GOP as a worker’s party didn’t keep him from losing to a Democrat in 2020 (though the party continues to make inroads among a diverse cross-section of non-college graduates). Meanwhile, the Canadian truckers (who appear to be quite ethnically diverse) might enjoy selective sympathy among some segments of the country’s electorate, but Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was just returned to power in Ottawa, providing what might feel like a mandate to crush the troublemakers.

But if the dissenters are no more than a vocal minority in many countries,
will they remain so?

The answer will depend, in part, on how progressives respond to this challenge to their most fundamental historical assumptions. Calling such civic outbursts a result of insidious “imported” ideas or blaming them on an “astroturf” operation directed by American billionaires certainly won’t help to diminish their political impact. On the contrary, it will contribute to the impression that progressives have no interest in rethinking long-settled but increasingly questionable pieties.

Thanks to the prevalence of instantaneous globalized news and a range of social media apps on the phones we carry around on us at every waking moment, those who prefer to reverse progressive policies can organize themselves just as effectively as those who want to expand them. The first counter-progressive protest was the so-called yellow vest movement that began in France in 2018 with anger at the imposition of a carbon tax on middle-class workers. It quickly spread to other European countries. The Canadian truckers have likewise inspired working people in many countries who feel socially and economically constrained by pandemic restrictions.

The best way for progressives to prevent such sentiments from snowballing into a movement that actually could win power is to take an approach rooted in humility. Talk to the protesters, listen to their grievances, promise to discuss options for addressing them with elected and appointed officials.

Such humility will come naturally to a politician hoping to represent the broadest possible coalition of working-class voters. It will appear impossible to someone convinced that every citizen of a certain socioeconomic stratum ought rightly to be an automatic ally and contributor to the present-day iteration of the progressive political project.

Believing in historical inevitabilities can lead to political complacency. But it can also inspire bitterness, resentment, and counterproductive overreactions. Productive and flexible democratic leadership calls for something better.

 

 

 

Trudeau Puts In the Jackboots

Trudeau’s orders, aimed in part at cutting off funds to protesters, have a wider scope than previously reported – which is “forcing portfolio managers and securities firms to take a harder look at who they are doing business with,” according to Bloomberg.

The new rules make demands of a broad list of entities — including banks, investment firms, credit unions, loan companies, securities dealers, fundraising platforms, insurance companies and fraternal benefit societies. They must determine whether they’re in “possession or control of property” of a person who’s attending an illegal protest or providing supplies to demonstrators, according to orders published by the government late Tuesday night.

If they find such a person in their customer list, they must freeze their accounts and report it to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or Canada’s intelligence service, the regulations say. Any suspicious transactions must also be reported to the country’s anti-money-laundering agency, known as Fintrac. -Bloomberg

Ottawa police are handing out this leaflet:

Trudeau took the knee beside BLM protesters, and cried and apologized for century-old abuses against Aboriginals. But hard working, patriotic, ordinary Canadians have no place on his victims list. The jackboots are coming, but clever Trudeau will impose the suffering in cyberspace, and no one will notice, except those whose opinion was objectionable to him.

Stand Up Against Wokism

UK Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden recently spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. decrying the pernicious “woke” ideology.  He describes the ridiculous theories and the dangers to Western democracies at this historical moment. Below is an excerpted transcript of his speech in italics with my bolds and added images. H/T Tyler Dowden and conservatives.com.

For nearly half a century “Heritage” has been central to the revival of conservatism. It has always flown the flag for limited government, for free markets and for individual responsibility. And as someone who grew up under Thatcher and Reagan I am proud to say that those values shaped my politics.  So, it is a huge privilege to be here speaking to you as Chairman of the Conservative Party the oldest and most successful political party in the history of the democratic world.

And the tireless work of institutions such as Heritage in promoting those values is becoming more important, not less. Today, a social media mob can cancel you merely because you have dared to challenge one of the Left’s fashionable nostrums. The enemies of the West are finding fresh confidence in their eternal battle against liberty.

So, conservatives themselves must find the confidence to mount a vigorous defence of the values of a free society. In a speech that is really remarkable for its foresight years before many had woken up to the fragility of the West’s victory in the Cold War Margaret Thatcher warned of a tendency of democracies to relax when the worst appears to be over.

She warned that new dangers to the West were also being ignored. Now, that is certainly true for China. The idea that Beijing’s partial embrace of free markets would automatically lead to greater social and personal political freedoms has proved to be breathtakingly naive. The world watches the relationship between America and its allies not only must we stand together we must be seen to stand together.

But there is another dimension to this crisis afflicting the West that she could not have foreseen. Rogue states are seeking to challenge the international order.

And at the precise point when our resolve ought to be strongest a pernicious new ideology is sweeping our societies.

An ideology that if not confronted threatens to rob us of the self-confidence we need to uphold those very values. It goes by many names. In Britain, its adherents sometimes describe themselves as “social justice warriors”.

They claim to be “woke”, awakened to the so-called truths of our societies. But wherever they are found they pursue a common policy inimical to freedom. In their analysis free speech is not a fundamental right necessary for the discovery of truth. To them it is a dangerous weapon that should be curtailed to prevent “harm”. “Free speech is hate speech” is one of their more bizarre slogans.

Each of us is accorded a level of “privilege”, that has nothing to do with our own personal struggles, but is based on our membership of a particular group. So, by their own shallow logic: as a man who went to Cambridge University and who now serves in the British Cabinet, I am a pinnacle of so-called “privilege”. It is apparently completely irrelevant to them that my parents were a shop worker and a factory worker who lost his job during a recession.

If I am privileged it is because I have a loving family and enjoyed an excellent education at my local state community school. But even to question my supposed privilege is deemed to be proof of how privileged I am.

Now, you might have noticed that the woke warriors take a particularly interest in history. Clearly history is a living subject, one that will inevitably be revised. But these activists are not interested in real scholarship or nuance or in explaining the context of the bad things that our ancestors did alongside the good. They are engaged in a form of Maoism determined to expunge large parts of our past in its entirety.

For them, nothing is sacred. Winston Churchill was central to the Allied victory in a fight for survival against Nazi tyranny. Yet some seek to trash his whole reputation and deface monuments to him in wanton acts of iconoclastic fury.

It is tempting to assume that this onslaught can be passed off as a passing fad. That it is so ridiculous so detached from what the majority think – and many have argued this – that it can simply be ignored. Universities from which so much of this unthinking revisionism has emerged have, of course, for decades been prey to Left-wing excesses. There has always been a tendency among cultural and educational elites to serve their own interests rather than serve the public at large. And of course, we conservatives have frequently confronted it.

But this ideology is now everywhere. It’s in our universities but also, in our schools. In government bodies but also in corporations. In social science faculties but also, in the hard sciences.

But I tell you, it is a dangerous form of decadence. Just when our attention should be focused on external foes we seem to have entered this period of extreme introspection and self-criticism and it really does threaten to sap our societies of their own self-confidence. Just when we should be showcasing the vitality of our values and the strength of democratic societies, we seem to be willing to abandon those values for the sake of appeasing this new groupthink.

There are several interlinked dangers to all of this.

To begin with, perhaps an obvious one. Those of us who grew up under Thatcher and Reagan or indeed, under Roosevelt and Churchill, were inspired by those leaders. But we also had an instinctive pride in our national story, a pride that joined even political opponents in a common sense of endeavour. But if they cease to be sources of pride that unite diverse population in a common understanding of who we are and what we stand for, then we lose that essential unity of purpose.

And it is particularly striking that the two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, where the woke agenda is pursued the most aggressively, those are also very same countries where patriotism is most open and welcoming. Why on earth else would we be such magnets for migrants seeking to build a better life on our shores?

In Britain first, second and third generation migrants are among the most fervent champions of the countries they have chosen to call their own home. Yet increasingly they are told that the pride they feel is somehow misplaced. Or even worse than that, and even more offensively, that their patriotism is some kind of “false consciousness”.

Moreover this woke ideology encourages a bizarre form of moral relativism, a view that western nations are so compromised that they have no right to denounce the rogue states of today. For all their fury at historical “imperialism” , these activists have absolutely nothing to say about Vladimir Putin’s modern-day empire-building. Indeed, one of the perversities of this worldview is that the “imperialist” West is always at fault, even if that is in standing up for a nation that has experienced the horrors of life under an actual evil empire, in our own living memory.

And yet day by day that worldview gains traction in elite circles. We risk a collapse in resolve if all we hear is that our societies are monstrous, unjust, oppressive. Why on earth would anyone fight to sustain them? It’s a narrative that almost guarantees demoralisation and despair. And of course there is an opportunity cost of our irrational introspection. A West confident in its values would not be obsessing over pronouns or indeed, seeking to decolonise mathematics. Now you might say that’s rather difficult when the numerals we use are actually Arabic, but I’ll leave that to others to explain.

The West should be pointing out to would-be aggressors the strength of the values of a free society even in the most desperate of circumstances. To the Hong Kongers fighting for their rights in the face of extra ordinary odds. To the people of Ukraine determined that their nation should have the right to determine its future. To the women of Afghanistan prepared to defy Taliban rule even at the risk of their own lives.

Yet we allow ourselves to be obsessed by what divides us rather than what unites us. And, it shouldn’t just be conservatives who stand up for what made the West great. There was, of course, a time not very long ago when the mainstream Left was just as committed to free speech as the Right. Or when so-called “liberals” actually had something in common with those great champions of freedom the likes of Gladstone and John Stuart Mill, both of whom, incidentally are currently at risk of cancelled.

The UK joined Nato under a Labour prime minister. And, when Left-wing parties were dominated by working people rather than professional activists, they were just as patriotic as their conservative opponents. Sadly, the Left has abandoned the field. Its leaders are either too weak to stand up for our own common values or worse than that, they’ve embraced the doctrine of woke themselves.

It seems that we conservatives must find the strength to defend the principles of free society on our own.

So, our Conservative government in the United Kingdom is legislating to protect free speech on campus. We will stop the sinister phenomenon of academics or students who offend left wing orthodoxies being censored or harassed. As Culture Secretary I challenged those cultural institutions, those institutions funded by ordinary taxpayers but which promoted politicised agendas. We have made it clear to schools that it is illegal to teach the concept of “white privilege” as though it were undisputed fact.

And we must also not be frightened to expose the behaviour of some corporate giants. And you know, all of us know, the sort of corporations that I’m talking about. Ones that denounced perfectly legitimate efforts to reform electoral laws in democracies, whilst at the very same time, keeping a profitable silence whilst flogging their goods to authoritarian regimes.

We Conservatives, instead, are on the side of people who believe that we are a force for good in the world. The US and the UK may certainly be different societies but we are joined by the same fundamental values.

Neither of us can afford the luxury of indulging in this painful woke psychodrama. It will take courage to resist it. Too many people have already fallen for the dismal argument that standing up for freedom is reactionary, or that somehow it is kind or virtuous to submit to these self-righteous dogmas. Well it plainly is not.

Instead as Margaret Thatcher said to you almost 25 years ago the task of conservatives is to remake the case for the West to proclaim our beliefs in the wonderful creativity of the human spirit, in the rights of property and the rule of law, and in the extraordinary fruitfulness of enterprise and trade.  She refused to see the decline of the West as our inevitable destiny. And neither should we.

 

CDC Chooses Politics Over Science

Vinay Prasad writes at the Tablet How the CDC Abandoned Science.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and some added images. H\T Raymond

Mass youth hospitalizations, COVID-induced diabetes, and other myths from the brave new world of science as political propaganda

The agency guiding America’s pandemic policy is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which sets widely adopted policies on masking, vaccination, distancing, and other mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID and ensure the virus is less morbid when it leads to infection. The CDC is, in part, a scientific agency—they use facts and principles of science to guide policy—but they are also fundamentally a political agency: The director is appointed by the president of the United States, and the CDC’s guidance often balances public health and welfare with other priorities of the executive branch.

Throughout this pandemic, the CDC has been a poor steward of that balance, pushing a series of scientific results that are severely deficient.

This research is plagued with classic errors and biases, and does not support the press-released conclusions that often follow. In all cases, the papers are uniquely timed to further political goals and objectives; as such, these papers appear more as propaganda than as science. The CDC’s use of this technique has severely damaged their reputation and helped lead to a growing divide in trust in science by political party. Science now risks entering a death spiral in which it will increasingly fragment into subsidiary verticals of political parties. As a society, we cannot afford to allow this to occur. Impartial, honest appraisal is needed now more than ever, but it is unclear how we can achieve it.

Masking Propaganda

In November 2020, a CDC study sought to prove that mask mandates slowed the spread of the coronavirus. The study found that counties in Kansas which implemented mask mandates saw COVID case rates start to fall (light blue below), while counties that did not saw rates continue to climb (dark blue):

The data scientist Youyang Gu immediately noted that locales with more rapid rise would be more likely to implement a mandate, and thus one would expect cases to fall more in such locations independent of masking, as people’s behavior naturally changes when risk escalates. Gu zoomed out on the same data and considered a longer horizon, and the results were enlightening: It appeared as if all counties did the same whether they masked or not:

The CDC had merely shown a tiny favorable section, depicted in the red circle above, but the subsequent pandemic waves dwarf their results. In short, the CDC’s study was not capable of proving anything and was highly misleading, but it served the policy goal of encouraging cloth mask mandates.

Child Vaccination Propaganda

Masking is not the only matter in which the CDC’s stated policy goal has coincided with very poor-quality science that was, coincidentally, published in their own journal. Consider the case of vaccination for kids between the ages of 5 and 11. COVID vaccination in this age group has stalled, which runs counter to the CDC’s goal of maximum vaccination. Interestingly, vaccinating kids between 5 and 11 is disputed globally; Sweden recently elected not to vaccinate healthy kids in this age group, and some public health experts believe that it would be preferable for kids to gain immunity from natural exposure instead. Stalling U.S. uptake therefore reflects a legitimate and open scientific debate, regardless of whether the CDC’s policy goal would like to consider it closed.

Enter the CDC’s new study. Widely covered in news outlets, the January 2022 study claims that kids below the age of 18 who get diagnosed with COVID are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. “These findings underscore the importance of COVID-19 prevention among all age groups,” the authors write, “including vaccination for all eligible children and adolescents.” But a closer examination of the study again reveals problems.

First, it does not adjust for body mass index. Higher BMI is a risk factor for COVID, prompting hospitalization and diabetes, and yet the CDC analysis does not adjust for weight at all.

Second, the absolute risks the study finds are incredibly low. Even if the authors’ finding is true, it demonstrates an increase in diabetes of up to 6 in 10,000 COVID survivors.

Third, the CDC’s analysis uses billing record diagnoses as a surrogate for COVID cases, but many kids had and recovered from COVID without seeking medical care. Without a true denominator that conveys the actual number of COVID cases, the entire analysis might be artifact.

As the former dean of Harvard Medical School Jeffrey Flier told The New York Times, “The CDC erred in taking a preliminary and potentially erroneous association and tweeting it to specifically create alarm in parents.” Some might view it as a mistake, but after observing these matters for almost two years, I believe it was the entire point of the study: Alarm might boost flagging vaccine uptake in kids. (Already, a better study out of the United Kingdom finds no causal link between COVID and diabetes in kids.)

Teenager Vaccination Propaganda

Manufacturing alarm at the very moment an age or other demographic cohort is targeted for vaccination has become a pattern for the CDC. On May 10, 2021, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for the 12- to 15-year-old cohort to receive the Pfizer vaccine. On June 11, the CDC published a study in MMWR claiming to demonstrate rising hospitalization among this age group; widespread media coverage of the study quickly followed. But the absolute rates for this age group were, in reality, amazingly low: Less than 1.5 per 100,000, which was lower than they had been in the previous December. Meanwhile, a safety signal was being investigated—myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle—which was more common after the second dose, and reported to be as frequent as 1 in 3,000-6,000, according to the Israeli Ministry of Health. Other countries became reluctant to push two doses within the standard 21- to 28-day timeline for these ages. By July, the U.K. had decided against pushing vaccines for this cohort, a decision that was walked back only slowly.

The CDC was undeterred, and in recent weeks the agency’s director has started to push for more doses at these ages. Against the advice of an FDA advisory committee, Rochelle Walensky has moved forward with recommending boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds. This view differs from WHO guidance and that of other countries, including Canada, which is not authorizing boosters for healthy adolescents aged 12-17. But when it comes to vaccination, the CDC has a single policy: All Americans should get three doses, regardless of age or medical conditions.

This is not science as such, but science as political propaganda.

Natural Immunity Unmentionable

If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider a final example: the CDC’s near-total dismissal of natural immunity. Many other countries consider recovery from prior infection as a vaccination equivalent or better, an assumption that makes both medical and intuitive sense, but the CDC has steadfastly maintained that everyone needs the same number of vaccinations whether they have recovered from a COVID infection or not. This view is countered by data showing that vaccinating people who have recovered from COVID results in more severe adverse events than vaccinating people who have not had COVID.

In order to bolster the claim that people who have recovered from COVID benefit from vaccination as much as those who never had it, the CDC published a fatally flawed Kentucky-based analysis. The August 2021 study compared people who had contracted COVID twice against those who had it just once, and concluded that those who had it once were more likely to have had vaccination. But the study could have easily missed people who had two documented cases of COVID but might have had severe underlying medical conditions—such as immunosuppression—that predisposed them to multiple bouts of infection in a short period. In addition, people who had COVID once and then got vaccinated might not have sought further testing, believing themselves invulnerable to the virus. The study did not adequately address these biases.

Months later, the CDC published a stronger, cohort study showing clearly that natural immunity was more robust than vaccine-induced immunity in preventing future COVID hospitalizations, and moreover, that people who survived infection were massively protected whether vaccinated or not.

Conclusion: Political Capture of CDC

So why does the supposedly impartial CDC push weak or flawed studies to support the administration’s pandemic policy goals? The cynical answer is that the agency is not in fact impartial (and thus not sufficiently scientific), but captured by the country’s national political system. That answer has become harder to avoid. This is a precarious situation, as it undermines trust in federal agencies and naturally leads to a trust vacuum, in which Americans feel forced to cast about in a confused search for alternative sources of information.

Once that trust is broken, it’s not easily regained. One way out would be to reduce the CDC’s role in deciding policy, even during a pandemic. Expecting the executive agency tasked with conducting the science itself to also help formulate national policy—which must balance both scientific and political concerns and preferences—has proven a failure, because the temptation to produce flawed or misleading analysis is simply too great. In order to firewall policymaking from science, perhaps scientific agency directors shouldn’t be political appointees at all.

Ultimately, science is not a political sport. It is a method to ascertain truth in a chaotic, uncertain universe.

Science itself is transcendent, and will outlast our current challenges no matter what we choose to believe. But the more it becomes subordinate to politics—the more it becomes a slogan rather than a method of discovery and understanding—the more impoverished we all become. The next decade will be critical as we face an increasingly existential question: Is science autonomous and sacred, or a branch of politics? I hope we choose wisely, but I fear the die is already cast.

Vinay Prasad is a hematologist-oncologist, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People with Cancer.

 

 

Feb. 2022 Arctic Ice Pauses For Average Catchup

In January, most of the Arctic ocean basins are frozen over, and so the growth of ice extent slows down.  According to SII (Sea Ice Index) January on average adds 1.326M km2, and this year it was 1.235M.  (background is at Arctic Ice New Year 2022).  Still February started with a surplus of ~200k km2 over the 16 year average.  The few basins that can grow ice this time of year tend to fluctuate and alternate waxing and waning, which appears as a see saw pattern in these images.

Two weeks into February 2022 Arctic ice extents waffled with little growth, resulting in a drop down to match the mean ice extent mid month. The graph below shows the ice recovery since mid-January for 2022, the 16-year average and several recent years.

The graph shows end of January 2022 a 200k km2 surplus to average, then little accumulation in February 2022 until a leap upward yesterday.  SII dropped below MASIE this month and did not yet report its estimate of ice extent on day 45

February Ice Growth Despite See Saws in Atlantic and Pacific

As noted above, this time of year the Arctic adds ice on the fringes since the central basins are already frozen over.  The animation above shows Barents and Greenland Seas on upper right (Atlantic side) retreating and growing with little change the last two weeks. Baffin Bay lower right waffled some but added 200k km2 and reached 117% of maximum last March.

Meanwhile the most dramatic see saw appears on the left (Pacific side)  Both Bering below and Okhotsk above wax and wane over this period. Okhotsk waffles up and down ending sightly lower in the end, only 60% of its last max.  Bering is seen losing, then growing to add 100k km2 by the end, reaching 132% of last March maximum.

The table below presents ice extents in the Arctic regions for day 45 (Feb. 14) compared to the 16 year average and 2021.

Region 2022045 Day 45 Average 2022-Ave. 2021045 2022-2021
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14771764 14696037 75727 14570648 201117
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070776 1070247 529 1070689 87
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965730 276 966006 0
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087131 6 1087120 17
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897827 897837 -10 897827 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 871231 909595 -38364 934988 -63757
 (6) Barents_Sea 670586 585796 84790 837700 -167114
 (7) Greenland_Sea 711157 617734 93423 637304 73853
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1521206 1454881 66326 1103099 418107
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854685 853210 1475 854597 88
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1260538 365 1260471 432
 (11) Central_Arctic 3222483 3210904 11580 3204694 17790
 (12) Bering_Sea 841781 692225 149557 545267 296515
 (13) Baltic_Sea 64799 96258 -31459 116339 -51540
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 706456 930957 -224501 1030304 -323848

The table shows that Okhotsk deficit to average is offset by surpluses in Bering, Barents, Greenland and  Baffin Bay.

The polar bears have a Valentine Day’s wish for Arctic Ice.

welovearcticicefinal

And Arctic Ice loves them back, returning every year so the bears can roam and hunt for seals.

Footnote:

Seesaw accurately describes Arctic ice in another sense:  The ice we see now is not the same ice we saw previously.  It is better to think of the Arctic as an ice blender than as an ice cap, explained in the post The Great Arctic Ice Exchange.

People’s Convoy Versus Baby Faced Dictator

Update on the Canadian struggle to recover freedoms is at Daily Wire ‘These Very Powers … Are Why We Are Here’: Canadian Protesters ‘Dig Their Heels In’ Against Trudeau’s Crackdown.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Monday announcement invoking the Emergencies Act to break a weeks-long protest in Ottawa has only served to inspire more resistance, one protest organizer told The Daily Wire.

The Freedom Convoy, a loose coalition of truckers protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions, rolled into Ottawa in late January and has camped downtown since. The protesters have congested parts of the city around Canada’s seat of government on Parliament Hill while demanding a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

So far, Trudeau has refused to meet with the truckers, instead employing increasingly hard-nosed political and legal tactics to try and break the protest.

David Paisley says he has been protesting for weeks now and, as a street captain, helps organize protesters and direct those who wish to support the cause with funds, goods, or services. Paisley told The Daily Wire that Trudeau’s announcement, which made headlines across major news organizations in the U.S. and Canada, went off barely noticed by the protesters on the ground.

“No one really cares about any new announcement. I mean the police have been breaking the law long before any emergency power. They were taking our fuel away. They were arresting people for purely having jerry cans or having empty tanks of fuel,” he said.  “They’ve already been doing these ‘emergency powers’ and all it does is make people dig their heels in more,” Paisley added.

“The irony … is that these very powers and threats are why we are here.”

Trudeau announced in a press conference Monday afternoon that he was authorizing the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act, a law passed in the late 1980s to take the place of the War Measures Act. The act strengthens Canadian law enforcements’ ability to fine and imprison violators and ensures the operation of “essential services” such as towing rigs, Trudeau said during his press conference. It also empowers banks and financial institutions to freeze the accounts of any person or business suspected of being involved with an “illegal blockade.”

Paisley said that the protest would continue despite frozen bank accounts or impounded trucks until every protester is cuffed and thrown in prison.

“[The Trudeau government] underestimated the determination and the intelligence of those here, and so everyone still here on the ground, they’re basically willing to give their lives for this – peacefully of course,” Paisley said.

“They’re prepared to drain every last dollar, even from frozen bank accounts,” he added later.

The truckers in Ottawa have received wave after wave of support in the form of cash funds, food, fuel, letters, and even a free laundry service by two ladies who walk Paisley’s street every day collecting clothes. The trucker said he received word on Monday from two men who wanted to deliver hundreds of liters of extra diesel fuel for the convoy.

“You come and sit in the driver’s seat for a few hours and you’ll be able to fill up your wallet again. It’s incredible. People are just handing you fifties, hundreds, packs of hundreds. A friend of mine received a Bible and when he opened it up it had 500 cash inside the bible,” Paisley said.

“The more the government tries to stomp this out, the more and more it causes people to rise up and say ‘this is wrong, and I side with these truckers,’” he said. “These steps from the government have simply hardened the determination of the great men and women down here, so I’m not really concerned at all.

We’ll have lots of new friends when we all get tossed in prison together.”

Footnote

GiveSendGo hacked, donors leaked amid fundraiser for Canadian trucker convoy protest

The Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo has been hacked and temporarily disabled after it facilitated the raising of nearly $9 million for the convoy of Canadian truckers who have been protesting vaccine mandates.

The Delaware-based organization, which hosted a crowdfunding effort for the Canadian truckers after crowdfunding site GoFundMe took down their initial fundraiser at the urging of the Canadian government, was disabled Sunday night. Visitors were redirected to the domain GiveSendGone[.]wtf.

The site had raised over $8.7 million in one week after the GoFundMe effort was taken down.

The [hacker’s] statement alleged that those who had contributed to the fundraiser were the same ones who had “helped fund the January 6 insurrection in the U.S.” and had “helped fund an insurrection in Ottawa.”

GiveSendGo’s list of donors, approximately 92,000 of them, was also leaked and shared online.

The site stated on Feb. 10 in response to previous Canadian court efforts to halt the funds that the Canadian government “has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here” and that all the donations “flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

OK, maybe not so baby faced

US Federal Court Rules Against Social Cost of Carbon

Following a Biden Executive Order, in April 2021 several states went to Louisiana District Court to stop implementation of Social Cost of Carbon with respect to federal regulations.  The Memorandum Ruling regarding that case is State of Louisiana et al Versus Joseph R. Biden Jr. et al.  The Plaintiff States are Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.  H/T Francis Menton

The Issues

The Plaintiff States seek injunctive and declaratory relief on three grounds. First, they assert that the SC-GHG Estimates violate the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) as a substantive rule that did not undergo the requisite notice-and-comment process. See 5 U.S.C. § 553.

Second, the Plaintiff States claim that President Biden, through EO 13990, and the IWG lack the authority to enforce the estimates as they are substantively unlawful under the APA and contravene existing law. See 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)–(C).

Third, the Plaintiff States maintain that the Government Defendants acted beyond any congressional authority by basing regulatory policy upon global considerations.

The Plaintiff States request a preliminary injunction:
(1) ordering Defendants to disregard the SC-GHG Estimates and prohibiting them from adopting, employing, treating as binding, or relying upon the work product of the Interagency Working Group (“IWG”);
(2) enjoining Defendants from independently relying upon the IWG’s methodology considering global effects, discount rates, and time horizons; and
(3) ordering Defendants to return to the guidance of Circular A-4, explained infra, in conducting regulatory analysis.

To be clear, the Court is ruling only on the actions of the federal agencies and whether the agencies, by implementing the estimates and considering global effects— violate the APA and whether President Biden upon signing EO 13990, violated the separations of powers clause of the United States Constitution. The Court has the authority to enjoin federal agencies from implementing a rule—mandated by an executive order or not—that violates the APA or violates the separation of powers clause. Importantly, the Court is not opining as to the scientific issues regarding greenhouse gas emissions, their effects on the environment, or whether they contribute to global warming.

The Findings

The Court is persuaded that the Biden Administration’s agencies are using the SCGHG. The Court finds that the Plaintiff States have established injury-in-fact.

Plaintiff States argue that the SC-GHG Estimates “affect[] the states’ ‘quasi-sovereign’ interests by imposing substantial pressure on them to change their” practices and laws to remain in compliance with federal standards. Id. at 153. The Court finds that the Plaintiff States also have standing as they are entitled to special solicitude in the standing inquiry.

The Court finds that EO 13990 contradicts Congress’ intent regarding legislative rulemaking by mandating consideration of the global effects. The Court further finds that the President lacks power to promulgate fundamentally transformative legislative rules in Case 2:21-cv-01074-JDC-KK Document 98 Filed 02/11/22 Page 33 of 44 PageID #: 4175 Page 34 of 44 areas of vast political, social, and economic importance, thus, the issuance of EO 13990 violates the major questions doctrine.

The Court finds that EO 13990 was promulgated without complying with the APA’s notice and comment requirements.

The Plaintiff States thus argue that they have demonstrated multiple independently sufficient grounds to vacate the SC-GHG Estimate and therefore have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits. The Court agrees and finds that the Plaintiff States have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits.

Plaintiff States have sufficiently identified the kinds of harms to support injunctive relief. Moreover, the Court finds that the Plaintiff States have made a clear showing of an injury-in-fact, and that such injury “cannot be undone through monetary remedies,” Louisiana v. Biden, 2021 WL 2446010, at *21 (W.D. La. June 15, 2021), such that they need immediate relief now, lest they be unable to ever obtain meaningful judicial relief in the future.

The Court finds that the balance of the injuries weighs substantially in favor of the Plaintiff States.

The Court agrees that the public interest and balance of equities weigh heavily in favor of granting a preliminary injunction.

CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth herein above, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction will be granted in its entirety.

Comment from Manhattan Contrarian

On taking office, the Trump administration took steps to neutralize the SCC, so that not much has been heard from it for a while. But Biden’s EO 13990 caused the Obama-era version to get re-instated. The Biden people claim that they are working on further tweaks to the regulations, but meanwhile a large group of Republican-led states went ahead and commenced litigation.

With a regulatory initiative obviously intended to force a gigantic transformation of the economy without statutory basis, the Biden people defended against the Complaint using every shuck and jive and technicality known to man. The SCC rules were not “final” because the administration was still working on a few more tweaks (and then a few more, and then a few more); the state plaintiffs lacked “standing” because the harm was to citizens rather than the state itself; and so forth. The court was having none of it.

The heart of the court’s decision is its determination that the SCC falls under the Supreme Court’s “major questions doctrine,” under which the bureaucracy cannot on its own authority impose “new obligations of vast economic and political significance” unless Congress “speaks clearly.” The states had identified some 83 pending projects involving something in the range of $447 and $561 billion dollars as affected by the SCC rule. That impressed the court as easily within the concept of “major questions.”

We are at the beginning of what could be a very long battle. The bureaucracy has many ways to wear down its opponents. For example, a permit can simply be delayed indefinitely, without any reason being stated, as occurred for example with the Keystone XL pipeline. But at least here battle lines have finally been drawn.

Texas Electricity Stays On This Year

Generators in Texas meet electric demand, avoid widespread outages during recent cold snap is an EIA article.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A cold snap brought cold weather and icy conditions to Texas earlier this month, increasing heating demand for electricity across the state. Power plants and electric generators in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)—the grid operator for most of the state—increased output to meet elevated demand during the storm. Unlike February 2021, when extreme cold disrupted the supply of electricity in Texas and left millions without power, generators maintained fuel supplies and avoided widespread power outages.

ERCOT forecasts electricity demand to help ensure it has sufficient generation resources to meet expected demand. Actual demand refers to the amount of electricity that customers actually consume. When power outages occur, customers may want to consume more electricity but are unable to, resulting in lower actual demand.

During the recent cold snap, actual demand for electricity in ERCOT peaked at 68,862 megawatthours (MWh), slightly below the peak actual demand of 69,215 MWh during the February 2021 winter storm. However, this winter’s peak was still below the demand ERCOT forecast for February 2021 before widespread outages began, which resulted in lower actual demand than forecast. This winter, actual demand on the peak day (February 4) was much lower than ERCOT’s day-ahead forecast, largely because temperatures were warmer than predicted.

Unlike in February 2021, this winter’s storm didn’t cause major declines of natural gas production in Texas, and natural gas-fired power plants in Texas maintained their fuel supply during the cold weather. In February 2021, weather-related production issues reduced peak natural gas production by 16 billion cubic feet (Bcf), according to data from IHS Markit, compared with a 3 Bcf decline in peak dry natural gas production this winter.

In addition, renewable generators, largely wind, maintained a high level of output during the coldest periods this winter, when demand for space heating was the highest. In addition, coal-fired and nuclear units did not experience outages, which occurred in February 2021. In response to the ample supply, the ERCOT prices for wholesale electricity in the real-time market were below $100 per MWh during the recent storm; prices were as high as $9,000 per MWh (the price cap for wholesale electricity in ERCOT at the time) during the February 2021 storm.

ERCOT hourly generation by source Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hourly Electric Grid Monitor

After widespread outages in Texas during the winter storm last February, ERCOT took several actions to ensure grid reliability in the event of colder-than-normal weather, including:

♦ Inspections of generating and transmission assets for weatherization
♦ Proof of weather readiness from generation and transmission equipment owners
♦ Increasing operational reserves
♦ Requirements for some on-site fuel supply
♦ Unannounced testing of generation resources

Footnote

The Texas power generation graph for this period shows natural gas (beige) doing most of the heavy lifting with a surge in wind (green) the last 2 days. Coal in brown persisted, dropping slightly when wind power was available and preferred by the grid due to subsidy contracts.  Solar and nuclear patterns did not change.  Hydro and other sources are insignificant.

Harvey Risch: Time to End Covid Emergency

Time to End the COVID Emergency was written by Dr. Harvey Risch, professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. This op/ed was originally published by the Wall Street Journal. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The time has come for states and the federal government to end their COVID declarations of emergency and the accompanying closures, restrictions, propaganda, distancing requirements, forced masking and vaccine mandates. COVID may circulate at some level forever, but Americans can now protect those vulnerable to it with standard medical procedures. They can treat it as they would the flu.

Emergency measures need continuous justification and there isn’t one anymore.

Omicron has become the dominant variant. Over the past two months, the Delta variant strain—Omicron’s main competitor and the most recent aggressive version of COVID—has been declining in the U.S. That is true both in proportion of infections (62 percent on Dec. 18 fell to 2 percent on Jan. 15, then to 0.1 percent on Jan. 29) and the number of daily infected people (97,000 to 14,000 to 400), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the next two weeks, Delta cases will almost certainly decline to the point that the variant essentially disappears, as did the strains that came before it.

Omicron is mild enough that most people, even many in high-risk categories, can adequately cope with the infection. Omicron infection is no more severe than seasonal flu, and generally less so. In America, many of those vulnerable to COVID are already vaccinated and protected against severe disease.

Treatments have also vastly improved since the early days of the pandemic. The medical community has learned much about the utility of inexpensive supplements like vitamin D to reduce severe disease risk, and there are a host of good therapeutics available to prevent hospitalization and death should a vulnerable patient become infected. For young people, the risk of severe disease—already low before Omicron—is minuscule.

There’s evidence that Americans have built up additional immunity through the recent Omicron wave. Daily Omicron infections peaked around Jan. 11 and have been declining. Mortality from COVID, including some from remaining Delta cases, is now declining as well. Influenza in typical seasons peaks in mid-February. That Omicron has been decreasing since early January suggests that the decline may have less to do with seasonal factors than built-up population immunity. If substantial new variants arise, this suggests case and death counts could still remain relatively low.

There is no longer any justification for the federal government and states to maintain their declarations of emergency. The lockdowns, personnel firings, shortages and school disruptions are doing at least as much damage to the population’s health and welfare as the virus. The state of emergency is unjustified now, and it can’t be justified by fears of a hypothetical recurrence of a more severe infection at some unknown point in the future. If the government can grant itself such power, then the limits imposed by the federal and state Constitutions are effectively meaningless.

Americans have sacrificed their rights and livelihoods for two years to protect the general public health. Government officials must now do their part and give Americans their lives back.

https://video-api.wsj.com/api-video/player/v3/iframe.html?guid=B5105512-B010-43ED-8710-D8FAF9A22B4F