Hubris is Spelled N-E-T-Z-E-R-O

William Watson explains in his Financial Post article  How does Ottawa spell hubris? N-E-T-Z-E-R-O.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Tough question: If you think central planning is disastrous for economies, and it is, do you want your central planners to be competent and efficient or do you want them to be jokers, engaged in barely concealed fraud?

The projections included in the government’s “2030 emissions reduction plan” released this week show that in the 14 years between 2005 and 2019 total Canadian emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents fell by just nine megatonnes (Mt), from 739 to 730. Yet from 2019 to 2030, the plan would have us believe, they will fall by 287 Mt — more than 30 times the 2005-19 change.

Take buildings. From 2005 to 2019 emissions from buildings actually rose by six Mt, from 84 to 91. But “where we could be in 2030,” according to Ottawa’s chart, is 53 Mt. The chart explains: “A whole-of-government and whole-of-economy effort focusing on regulatory, policy, investment and innovation levers is needed to drive decarbonization of the buildings sector. To this end, the Government will develop a national strategy for net-zero and resilient buildings …”

That load of yet-to-be-delivered national strategy supposedly will eliminate 38 Mt of emissions when all the housing efficiency programs from 2005-19, and there have been lots, enabled an “improvement” of minus seven Mt? You’ve got to know a “whole-of-government” effort to operate the “investment and innovation levers” will not be speedy or efficient.

And even more impressive 2020s miracles apparently are on order.

In the electricity sector, emissions fell 61 Mt from 2005-2019, thanks largely to the elimination of coal. From 2019-2030 they supposedly will fall another 47 Mt, even though coal can’t be eliminated again. In heavy industry, the reduction was 10 Mt; it’s now going to be another 25 Mt. In transportation, emissions actually rose 26 Mt over the last 14 years but by 2030 they supposedly will fall 43 Mt.

This page has no sympathy for central planners. Central planning does not work, whether of the Soviet or the Trudeau-Guilbeault kind. And it wouldn’t be a good idea even if it did. On the other hand, we have immense sympathy for central plan-ees — the people who are subject to central plans. Elsewhere on this page is a plea from Francis Bradley of Electricity Canada, an association of the people who run the country’s electricity grids. All net-zero plans involve a big expansion of electricity use: all those electric vehicles, including electric trucks not yet invented, have to be charged somehow. But, Bradley warns, the clock is ticking. If the government is serious, it needs to make critical decisions now about such things as whether it will allow generation with natural gas, how much financial assistance it will provide for re-fitting and new building of transmission lines and whether it will override burdensome and lengthy approvals processes.

What does this week’s “plan” provide in the way of detail?
Aspiration, aspiration, aspiration.

It is, as Elizabeth May noted, a lovely document, with attractively coloured charts and diagrams. But if you assumed an emissions reduction plan would provide a detailed checklist of policy actions the government would be taking, you assumed wrong.

Each of a series of chapters, one per major sector of the economy, is structured the same way: a few paragraphs outlining “Current sector emissions”; another few on “(Industry X) in context: key drivers”; even more on “What have we done so far?”; a word or two about “What was heard from the 2030 engagement process”; and, then, finally, “What’s next?” Apart from “What’s next?” it’s all filler.

I copied and pasted all the “What’s next?” passages into a single file. They total a little over 8,600 words, about 10 times the length of this column. Google tells me 8,600 words would take an average adult roughly half an hour to read. Yet this is a document that purports to plan major changes in how a 40-million person, $2.5-trillion economy operates.

The “What’s next?” section for electricity is just 482 words, which I doubt will satisfy Bradley’s plea for detail. And much of it is filler — for instance, 182 words describing the “clean electricity standard” consultations processes: “Establishing a net-zero-emitting electricity sector will require substantial effort from provinces and territories, and a CES will provide the regulatory signal to support decision-making at all levels of government to achieve this goal.” No doubt that’s all true. But tell us something that’s not obvious — like what the regulatory signal actually is going to be, not just that there will be one.

Apart from filler, the detailed actions are that the feds will provide $25 million for planning “regional strategic initiatives,” will “lead engagement” on the Atlantic electric loop, and will “support de-risking and accelerating the development of transformational nation-building inter-provincial transmission lines.”  All clear now? I doubt the grid people will think so.

An institution — the federal government — that has struggled for 15 years to replace just a few dozen obsolete fighter jets supposedly is going to oversee the radical transformation of a modern economy in just eight years.

It would be laughable if it weren’t also so frightening.

There is a big opening and an urgent need for a political party that would impose a meaningful carbon tax, use the revenues to reduce other taxes and then retire from the emissions business and let markets figure out what happens next.


Green Apocalyptic Adventists

Pascal Bruckner writes at City Journal  Apocalyptic Daze.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Secular elites prophesy a doomsday without redemption.

My point is not to minimize the dangers that we face. Rather, it is to understand why apocalyptic fear has gripped so many of our leaders, scientists, and intellectuals, who insist on reasoning and arguing as though they were following the scripts of mediocre Hollywood disaster movies.

Around the turn of the twenty-first century, a paradigm shift in our thinking took place: we decided that the era of revolutions was over and that the era of catastrophes had begun. The former had involved expectation, the hope that the human race would proceed toward some goal. But once the end of history was announced, the Communist enemy vanquished, and, more recently, the War on Terror all but won, the idea of progress lay moribund. What replaced the world’s human future was the future of the world as a material entity. The long list of emblematic victims—Jews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples—was likewise replaced, little by little, with the Planet, the new paragon of all misery.

No longer were we summoned to participate in a particular community; rather, we were invited to identify ourselves with the spatial vessel that carried us, groaning.

How did this change happen? Over the last half-century, leftist intellectuals have identified two great scapegoats for the world’s woes. First, Marxism designated capitalism as responsible for human misery. Second, “Third World” ideology, disappointed by the bourgeois indulgences of the working class, targeted the West, supposedly the inventor of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. The guilty party that environmentalism now accuses—mankind itself, in its will to dominate the planet—is essentially a composite of the previous two, a capitalism invented by a West that oppresses peoples and destroys the earth. Indeed, environmentalism sees itself as the fulfillment of all earlier critiques. “There are only two solutions,” Bolivian president Evo Morales declared in 2009. “Either capitalism dies, or Mother Earth dies.”

So the planet has become the new proletariat that must be saved from exploitation
—if necessary, by reducing the number of human beings,
as oceanographer Jacques Cousteau said in 1991.

One could go on citing such quotations forever, given the spread of the cliché-ridden apocalyptic literature. Environmentalism has become a global ideology that covers all of existence—not merely modes of production but ways of life as well. We rediscover in it the whole range of Marxist rhetoric, now applied to the environment: ubiquitous scientism, horrifying visions of reality, even admonitions to the guilty parties who misunderstand those who wish them well. Authors, journalists, politicians, and scientists compete in the portrayal of abomination and claim for themselves a hyper-lucidity: they alone see clearly while others vegetate in the darkness.

The fear that these intellectuals spread is like a gluttonous enzyme that swallows up an anxiety, feeds on it, and then leaves it behind for new ones. When the Fukushima nuclear plant melted down after the enormous earthquake in Japan in March 2011, it only confirmed a feeling of anxiety that was already there, looking for some content. In six months, some new concern will grip us: a pandemic, bird flu, the food supply, melting ice caps, cell-phone radiation.

The fear also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the press reporting, as though it were a surprising finding, that young people are haunted by the very concerns about global warming that the press continually instills in them. As in an echo chamber, opinion polls reflect the views promulgated by the media. We are inoculated against anxiety by the repetition of the same themes, which become a narcotic we can’t do without.

Atime-honored strategy of cataclysmic discourse, whether performed by preachers or by propagandists, is the retroactive correction. This technique consists of accumulating a staggering amount of horrifying news and then—at the end—tempering it with a slim ray of hope. First you break down all resistance; then you offer an escape route to your stunned audience. And so the advertising copy for the Al Gore–starring documentary An Inconvenient Truth reads: “Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet’s climate system into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced—a catastrophe of our own making.”

Now here are the means that the former vice president, like most environmentalists, proposes to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions: using low-energy lightbulbs; driving less; checking your tire pressure; recycling; rejecting unnecessary packaging; adjusting your thermostat; planting a tree; and turning off electrical appliances. Since we find ourselves at a loss before planetary threats, we will convert our powerlessness into propitiatory gestures, which will give us the illusion of action. First the ideology of catastrophe terrorizes us; then it appeases us by proposing the little rituals of a post-technological animism.

But let’s be clear: a cosmic calamity is not averted
by checking tire pressure or sorting garbage.

Another contradiction inherent in apocalyptic discourse is that, though it tries desperately to awaken us, to convince us of planetary chaos, it eventually deadens us, making our eventual disappearance part of our everyday routine. At first, yes, the kinds of doom that we hear about—the acidification of the oceans, the pollution of our air—charge our calm existence with a strange excitement. The enemy is among us, and he waits for our slightest lapses, all the more insidious because he is invisible. If the function of ancient rites was to purge a community’s violence on a sacrificial victim, the function of our contemporary rites is—at first—to dramatize the status quo and to exalt us through proximity to cataclysm.

But the certainty of the prophecies makes this effect short-lived. The language of fear does not include the word “maybe.” It tells us, rather, that the horror is inevitable. Resistant to all doubt, it is satisfied to mark the stages of degradation. This is another paradox of fear: it is ultimately reassuring. At least we know where we are heading—toward the worst.

One consequence of this certainty is that we begin to suspect that the numberless Cassandras who prophesy all around us do not intend to warn us so much as to condemn us.

In a secular society, a prophet has no function other than indignation. So it happens that he becomes intoxicated with his own words and claims a legitimacy with no basis, calling down the destruction that he pretends to warn against. You’ll get what you’ve got coming!—that is the death wish that our misanthropes address to us. These are not great souls who alert us to troubles but tiny minds who wish us suffering if we have the presumption to refuse to listen to them. Catastrophe is not their fear but their joy. It is a short distance from lucidity to bitterness, from prediction to anathema.

What is surprising is that the mood of catastrophe prevails especially in the West, as if it were particular to privileged peoples. Despite the economic crises of the last few years, people live better in Europe and the United States than anywhere else, which is why migrants the world over want to come to those places. Yet never have we been so inclined to condemn our societies.

Perhaps the new Green puritanism is nothing but the reaction of a West deprived of its supreme competence, the last avatar of an unhappy neocolonialism that preaches to other cultures a wisdom that it has never practiced. For the last 20 years, non-European peoples have become masters of their own futures and have stopped regarding us as infallible models. They are likely to receive our professions of environmentalist faith with polite indifference. Billions of people look to economic growth, with all the pollution that accompanies it, to improve their condition. Who are we to refuse it to them?

Environmental worry is universal; the sickness of the end of the world is purely Western.

To counter this pessimism, we might list the good news of the last 20 years: democracy is making slow progress; more than a billion people have escaped absolute poverty; life expectancy has increased in most countries; war is becoming rarer; many serious illnesses have been eradicated. But it would do little good. Our perception is inversely proportional to reality.

The Christian apocalypse saw itself as a hopeful revelation of the coming of God’s kingdom. Today’s has nothing to offer. There is no promise of redemption; the only hope is that those human beings who repent of their errors may escape the chaos, as in Cormac McCarthy’s fine novel The Road.

How can we be surprised, then, that so many bright minds have become delirious
and that so many strange predictions flourish?


Background see post Progressively Scaring the World

Trudeau’s War on Canadian Energy

David Staples reports on the latest Trudeau attack on Canadian energy in his Edmonton Journal article If Trudeau’s new climate plan is excellent, why does Rachel Notley blast it? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

My own fear is that such policies will hammer Canada’s biggest energy sector
and hobble our most promising one.

The prime minister has now proposed a new direction on energy policy. Of particular concern is his government’s call for a 42 per cent emissions cut for Canada’s oil and gas sector by 2030 and its growing opposition to nuclear power.

But watching Trudeau in Vancouver on Tuesday promoting his new emissions policy, I also can’t help but fear the worst. Of course, feel free to write off my critique as a fear of change or as partisan blather. Even I question myself. I acknowledge I could be wrong. Things could turn out fine for all kinds of reasons I don’t now comprehend. Who can predict the future?

But I’m not the only Albertan with major reservations today. NDP Leader Rachel Notley (Alberta Premier 2015-2019) just gave a persuasive critique of Trudeau’s plan.

“Based on what we are hearing from folks in the oil and gas sector, the 42 per cent (emissions cut) by 2030 is not just ambitious, it’s beyond ambitious,” Notley said. “It’s a fantasy.”

Notley isn’t in the habit of calling out Trudeau every day of the week. In the past, when she was Alberta premier, she worked well with Trudeau, coming together to push for carbon taxes, the phasing out of coal, and the federal government’s purchase of the TMX pipeline project.

But now comes this 42 per cent non-solution.

It’s clear that the Trudeau Liberals failed to listen to the oil and gas sector, Notley said, because this reductions plan simply can’t be done in just seven years. As she put it, “There are practical, physical limits on how quickly facilities can be constructed or upgraded, or projects even approved.” .

Notley also pointed out of the unfairness of Trudeau’s scheme, that while the oil and gas sector produces 26 per cent of emissions and the transportation sector produces 25 per cent, oil and gas have been hit with a 42 per cent cut while it’s just 11 per cent for transportation. “This is manifestly unfair and it will have serious economic consequences for Alberta and for Canada.”

In his own speech, Trudeau appeared to be gunning hard for oil and gas. It was the first thing out of his mouth that needed cutting. He then went on to say things that raised far more questions than they answered, such as: “Other elements of our plan include our plan to create jobs and keep air clean by making life more easier and affordable for the middle class.”

How are those things at all related? If we move away from oil and gas and nuclear — which create all kinds of well-paying jobs in Canada — how will importing solar panels from China and wind turbines from Europe and elsewhere create a windfall of great jobs in Canada?

And how does adding an ever-escalating carbon tax make life more affordable?

Does it not drive inflation? Does it not make us less competitive compared to countries without a carbon tax, like our neighbours in the United States?

Trudeau also talked about “mandatory” sales targets for zero-emission vehicles, 20 per cent fo 2026 and 60 per cent by 2030. But do we have the grid in place to power a nation of electric vehicles? And if we fail to get behind natural gas and nuclear, will we have a reliable supply of low carbon power?  And do we really want to force car dealers to sell us a product that may or may not work well for our needs?

Trudeau took a “not to worry” stance.  “Canadians,” he said with his customary wild-eyed certainty, “are united in knowing this is where the future is going and that we can get there together.”

But we’re not united. I say that with certainty. Trudeau has lost even Notley this time.

Once the high cost, economic hardship and heavy-handed government overreach of his new climate plan sinks in, I suspect he’ll lose many more.

ESG Funds Buy Russian Over Canadian Oil

More evidence that ESG investing is poppycock is revealed in Jeff Lagerquist’s Yahoo Finance article Why ESG funds ‘shockingly’ buy Russian oil instead of Canadian crude.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to expose uncomfortable realities for environmental, social and governance-focused (ESG) investments, prompting calls for the asset management industry to rethink the loosely-defined term as analysts point to “shocking” holdings within some funds.

A new report from CIBC Capital Markets shows many of the 10 largest energy holdings across ESG funds have pared down or exited investments in Canada’s oil sands, while half stayed invested in Russia. At the end of 2021, the bank found ESG funds owned twice as much Russian oil and gas as Canadian oil and gas.

“Perhaps most shockingly, the ratio of dollars held in Gazprom (a Russian state-owned energy firm) was six times that of Suncor,” the CIBC analysts wrote in research published on Monday.

According to the report, the big four Russian energy companies, NK Lukoil, Novatek, Gazprom and NK Rosneft, accounted for about 0.2 per cent of the global ESG holdings. That’s double the size of investments in Canada’s TC Energy (TRP.TO)(TRP), Suncor Energy (SU.TO)(SU) and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO)(CNQ), the bank said.

“Russia and Saudi Arabia may well emit less CO2 per produced barrel of oil equivalent than some North American firms, but they also invariably have less robust social and governance oversight,” the CIBC analysts wrote.

“This says nothing of the reality many of their energy entities are de-facto state controlled and often aligned (read: weaponized) with foreign policy objectives – many of which will be an affront to mainstream ESG investors.”

Several of the world’s largest companies and institutional investors have moved to cut ties to Russia in recent weeks, amid increasingly violent attacks on Ukraine’s population. ESG funds held at least US$8.3 billion in Russian assets before Russia invaded Ukraine, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Those include the country’s financial firms. Bloomberg News recently reported that Vanguard Group and Northern Trust upped their stakes in Russia’s leading bank through their respective index-based ESG funds in January, as Vladimir Putin’s forces amassed on Ukraine’s borders.

Vlad Tasevski, chief operating officer and head of product at Purpose Investments, says these examples show the need to rebalance the trio of ESG priorities. He says the environmental “E” in ESG is being over-emphasized, likely due to the greater challenge of measuring the social and governance variables, compared to hard carbon emissions data.

Tasevski isn’t overly surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for Canadian fossil fuel producers across ESG funds. He says Canadian producers have been “overwhelmingly negatively impacted by the ESG movement,” even as the industry has worked to shrink its carbon footprint, and invested in technology like carbon capture and storage.

CIBC says global flows into ESG funds were down more than 50 per cent through the first two months of this year, after setting records in 2020 and 2021. The bank says flows out of ESG funds have outpaced net outflows from other asset classes.


Oil Is Hero or Zero, Which Is It?

United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei attends a session of the Russian Energy Week International Forum in Moscow, Russia October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

David Blackmon explains at Forbes UAE Energy Minister Urges The World To Make Up Its Mind About Oil.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Speaking at the Global Energy Forum by the Atlantic Council in Dubai on Monday, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei urged the public and global policymakers to make up their collective mind about whether they want more oil production, as quoted by Reuters.

“I think in COP 26 all the producers felt they were uninvited and unwanted but now we are again superheroes, it’s not going to work like that,” he said in reference to last year’s UN-sponsored COP 26 global climate conference, at which representatives from the oil and gas industry were disinvited to attend. Obviously, a short-sighted decision by the organizers, given recent developments.

Al-Mazrouei emphasized the need for long-term planning related to energy needs, and pointed to the reality that the recent pattern of governments and investors alternatively forcing under-investment in finding new oil resources and then demanding more oil production whenever prices rise is not sustainable. He pointed out that the OPEC+ cartel as a group must invest the capital needed to replace 5 to 8 million barrels of oil per day of production each year just to maintain a steady level of global supply.

“We as a country are trying to do our best. We are investing and raising our capacity to 5 million barrels,” he said. “But that does not mean that we will leave OPEC+ or do something unilateral. We will work with this group to ensure that the market is stable.

Oil company leaders who have seen their industry derided for years by the climate change lobby and globalist politicians in the U.S. and other Western democracies who have pumped the energy transition narrative can be excused for seeing more than a little irony in the suddenly urgent calls from the same policymakers for them to now rapidly raise their production levels. Indeed, expecting a major supply response from the U.S. industry in the current economic environment seems not just ironic, but unrealistic.

The point is that the days of the U.S. industry being able to increase production by an amazing 2 million barrels per day, as it did across one 12-month period during 2018-19, are no longer with us. The industry simply lacks the investor capital support and supply chain efficiency to run the 1,000+ active drilling rigs required to accomplish that in the current environment.

That doesn’t mean, however, that U.S. domestic production will not rise during 2022. In fact, the Dallas Federal Reserve Office recently reported results of a survey that indicate that the corporate U.S. producers plan to increase their year-over-year production by 6% in the current year, while privately held companies plan a more robust 15% increase. If those plans combine to produce, say, an 8% increase overall, it would mean an increase in U.S. daily production of almost 1 million barrels per day during the 2022 calendar year.

Given the successful efforts by both government and ESG investors to limit the domestic industry in recent years, that would be a pretty extraordinary achievement. So, Minister al-Mazrouei is right in saying that oil producers shouldn’t be treated as superheroes, but their companies are still capable of doing some big things despite the best efforts of their opposition.


How Public Health Canceled Herd Immunity


David Robertson writes at Stat News How we got herd immunity wrong.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Herd immunity was always our greatest asset for protecting vulnerable people,
but public health failed to use it wisely.

In March 2020, not long after Covid-19 was declared a global public health emergency, prominent experts predicted that the pandemic would eventually end via herd immunity. Infectious disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who advised President Biden, opined in the Washington Post that even without a vaccine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, would eventually “burn itself out as the spread of infection comes to confer a form of herd immunity.” The best strategy, he reasoned, was to “gradually build up immunity” by letting “those at low risk for serious disease continue to work” while higher-risk people sheltered and scientists developed treatments and, hopefully, vaccines.

Experts in the United Kingdom also spoke early on of herd immunity acquired through infection as a protective force that would ultimately end the epidemic. Planning on SARS-CoV-2 eventually becoming endemic, epidemiologist Graham Medley suggested that the U.K.’s initial strategy should be to “manage this acquisition of herd immunity and minimise the exposure of people who are vulnerable.” The U.K.’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, explained that the goal was to flatten the curve and “build up some kind of herd immunity” in order to “protect those who are most vulnerable to it.”

Soon after this, some came to interpret the term as a do-nothing, “let it rip” strategy that would result in a huge number of avoidable deaths.

In response, policy quickly shifted to efforts to prevent all infections rather than targeting interventions at those at highest risk while accepting that a certain degree of viral transmission was unavoidable. Herd immunity in the absence of a vaccine soon became a dirty word. By May of 2020, a leading official in the World Health Organization announced that “humans are not herds” and that the term can lead to a “very brutal arithmetic.”

With the early arrival of vaccines in late 2020, prominent experts began promising that infection with SARS-CoV-2 was no longer inevitable. Herd immunity became defined as a percentage of immune individuals in a population that would stop transmission. Anthony Fauci captured this sentiment in May 2021 as a guest on “Face the Nation,” when he suggested that fully vaccinated individuals “become a dead end to the virus.” Once populations reached “the threshold of herd immunity,” he reiterated a month later, they would “see the infections almost disappear.”

Those mantras became the new plan: Get vaccinated to protect yourself, but also to protect those around you. Get to vaccine-induced herd immunity and the virus will virtually disappear from our communities.

As these failed to materialize, herd immunity has once again been dismissed as unachievable for Covid-19. As Fauci recently put it, SARS-CoV-2 will “find just about everybody.”

What went wrong?

The idea that vaccinating a certain percentage of the population would stop transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was a seductive but unhelpful description of herd immunity. This understanding comes from the so-called sterilizing immunity provided by infection or vaccination against diseases like measles. Sterilizing immunity means an individual can no longer be infected or infect others. Reach a certain percentage or “threshold” of this immunity in a population (around 95% for measles) and transmission comes to halt and the virus is eliminated.

This, however, is neither the exclusive nor even the most common understanding of herd immunity — and it is misleading for Covid-19.

SARS-CoV-2 is not like the measles virus, but more like influenza, a virus that does not produce sterilizing immunity, returning every season like clockwork. Yet scientists do speak of herd immunity against the flu, even in the absence of vaccination. As Danish epidemiologist Lone Simonsen explained in September 2020: “every [flu] pandemic we’ve ever looked at ended by herd immunity.”

Long before herd immunity came to be seen as an elimination threshold guiding mass vaccination campaigns, it explained why epidemics subside, reducing — but not eliminating — an individual’s risk of infection. Much like gravity pulls an object back to earth, herd immunity is the counterweight to sustained epidemic growth.

For SARS-CoV-2, herd immunity should not have been seen as an elimination threshold.

Instead, it should have helped us understand that as immunity accumulated in the population, whether from infection or vaccination, the epidemic would recede before everyone was infected. Acknowledging that we couldn’t stop all infections, policy should have focused on minimizing the exposure of those already known to be at enormously increased risk of severe disease, while also limiting the harms caused by prolonged restrictions.

In contrast to the notion of an elimination threshold, which arose relatively recently, herd immunity has been understood as a mechanism of epidemic abatement for nearly a century. In the aftermath of the 1918 flu pandemic, British epidemiologists recreated epidemics in caged mice populations as part of efforts to understand how the shifting ratio of susceptible and immune individuals fueled or restrained epidemics. They hypothesized that epidemic waves “fall because the average resistance of the herd is raised.” But this did not mean that a pathogen disappeared. “Another wave will follow it at a later date,” they continued, when waning immunity causes “the average herd immunity to fall below some critical level.” Herd immunity denoted a turning point in an epidemic that happened before every individual in a population had been exposed, offering the appealing possibility of preventing the infection of those at most risk of severe disease.

In October of 2020, the possibility of herd immunity without vaccines reentered public discussions following publication of the Great Barrington Declaration. In line with a long-established understanding of the concept, that document defined herd immunity as “the point at which the rate of new infections is stable” and stressed that as “immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all — including the vulnerable — falls.”

Like prominent experts at the beginning of the pandemic, the epidemiologists who wrote the declaration stressed the importance of protecting vulnerable people while herd immunity accrued among those at lower risk. They called for a strategy of “focused protection” of those at highest risk. Writing before the arrival of vaccines, they suggested increasing testing in care homes, minimizing the rotation of staff between such facilities and, where possible, using staff with acquired immunity. Elsewhere, they proposed that Social Security payments could facilitate paid leave to high-risk individuals in the community unable to work from home. There were further suggestions for focusing protection on specific risk groups, such as those living in intergenerational households.

Rather than engaging with the substance of these proposals,
major public health figures dismissed the declaration.

Fauci called it “ridiculous” and “total nonsense.” It was later revealed that he and Francis Collins, then the director of the National Institutes of Health, privately discussed launching a “quick and devastating published take down” of the declaration. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus labeled it “unethical.” The WHO even changed its online definition of herd immunity, temporarily erasing reference to immunity from infection. A letter signed by many prominent scientists published in The Lancet declared: “Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for Covid-19 is flawed.”

One unfortunate result of this period in the pandemic was that herd immunity became widely understood as exclusively referring to an elimination threshold achieved through vaccination. Short of that goal it became seen as dangerously inappropriate. Two weeks after the Great Barrington Declaration was published, Nature reported on “the false promise of herd immunity” for Covid-19. One virologist wrote that “herd immunity has never been achieved through naturally acquired infections.”

Drawing on the concept as it pertains to pathogens against which we have sterilizing immunity, such statements were misleading.

When experts — and the public — began to realize that neither previous infection nor vaccination produces lasting immunity against infection with SARS-CoV-2, many became pessimistic about the very possibility of herd immunity and the term once again became seen as irrelevant to Covid-19.

In the days before anyone knew how long it would take to develop effective vaccines, herd immunity could have helped us think strategically about targeting protections at those most at risk while reducing the considerable harms caused by restrictions intended to suppress transmission, such as school closures. This was essentially what Sweden did and, though mistakes were also made there, it navigated the pandemic with its children attending school in person and with substantially lower per-capita mortality from both Covid-19 and all causes than the European Union, the U.K., and the U.S.

“It’s not possible to stop everybody getting it,” Vallance cautioned the U.K. in mid-March 2020. As countries from Iceland to Australia are recognizing, he was correct. Yet in all of the confusion and false promises of elimination that followed his warning, public health strategies lost sight of how to leverage our herd immunity to protect vulnerable people, with or without a vaccine.

Don’t Fence Us In!

Dangerous Illusion: 2 Weeks to Flatten the Curve


Bruce Pardy explains in his Epoch Times article Back to the Future: ‘Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve’ Was a Dangerous Mistake From the Beginning.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Editor’s note: COVID lockdowns and restrictions for “two weeks to flatten the curve” began two years ago in late March 2020. At the time, many pundits called it a dangerous mistake, one of whom was law professor Bruce Pardy. Two years later, as restrictions finally begin to ease, the federal government and many workplaces still maintain vaccination mandates. Below are prognostications (edited) from Pardy from April and May 2020.

Lenin once said that there are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen. In this new era of the past few weeks, Canada has become less free. Lockdowns will eventually ease, but we have crossed a threshold. Canadians now want government to keep them safe—not just from foreign threats and violence, but from viruses and the vicissitudes of life. Authorities have enthusiastically seized the moment. Politicians have assumed unprecedented powers not subject to legislative oversight and have suspended civil liberties. For the first time ever, officials have confined citizens—with their approval—to their homes. Municipalities issue citations for walking through the park, police enforce rules that do not exist, and health authorities surveil the sick.

The situation that we are now in may be a shock, but it should not be a surprise. We have long been headed down this road. COVID restrictions may seem like an extreme change to daily life, but it is a difference of degree, not of kind. We were not a free country on March 22 that suddenly became unfree on March 23. We have an expansive administrative welfare state, which for a long time has driven the bus. It regulates everything. It subsidizes, taxes, supervises, and directs. The degree of infringement on civil liberties is more extreme now than it has even been for the general population in this country, but COVID rules are not differently intrusive, just more so. The lockdowns will ease, but the mandate that the government now has will remain. It will be difficult to put this genie back in the bottle.

It has worked like this: In Stage One, which we passed through a long time ago, the populace becomes convinced that it is the state’s role to keep them safe. In Stage 2, which began with the onset of the virus, they become fearful. Stage Three is necessity: if the virus is to be feared and the job of government is to keep us safe, then government must do whatever is necessary to protect us from the virus. Necessity provides the excuse for control, and control exacerbates dependence. What we have now is a dependent population, economically and psychologically.

There will not be rational debate about these policies. Governments do not adopt policies for logical and rational reasons. It is a mistake to believe that it is possible to engage in a civil conversation with the public and with government officials to figure out what works best. What has worked for governments in this circumstance is the promotion of fear. Concentrating on making rational policy recommendations based upon the premise that we are engaging in a good faith dialogue would be to miss the plot.

There will be court challenges, but the courts will not say that these policies are unconstitutional. The government can do what it is doing because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not provide the lines in the sand that we think that it does. Courts like to pretend that they are immune from public opinion, but they follow the culture as much as anybody else.

The charter will not protect us from the culture, and the culture now is one that demands safety, provided by the state.

Governments will be allowed to do indirectly what they could not do directly. Take the vaccine for example. If a vaccine is developed, they will not make the vaccine mandatory. Instead, they will say, make your own choice but if you do not have a vaccine you cannot come inside the building. You cannot come and renew your driver’s licence unless you can show us you have been vaccinated. Technically that is not mandatory, but practically it is. Contact tracing means that they are imposing upon you a requirement without admitting that what they are doing is locking you down if you decide not to do it. Governments will use means by which to achieve their objective without being so authoritarian that you cannot move.

The most disturbing thing about the COVID regime is not that governments are putting it in place, but that citizens support it, and indeed demand it.

COVID madness will not stop until a critical mass of people say that they have had enough. The way to turn this around is to get the population to reject the authority of experts, health officials, and governments to tell them what to do. Until we get to that, efforts to reverse these policies may prove to be a waste of time. Until people perceive that the purpose of government is to protect liberty instead of safety, everything else is fiddling around the margins.

Crises are an ideal time for the state to advance into territory from which it will not wish to retreat. In time, controls will loosen but old expectations have been swept away. In this new era, we will discover that leaders of all political stripes have more than a little Lenin in them.

Ukraine Is Elites’ Latest Propaganda Ploy

Ukrainian ambassador and flag waving at Biden State of the Union speech.

Lee Smith writes at Compact Ukraine Is the Ruling Class’s Latest Propaganda Ploy.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The war in Ukraine has been dominating headlines for more than a month, but it is still hard for most Americans to grasp what is going on. In part, that’s because most of what is coming out of Kyiv and Moscow is war propaganda. But it’s also because the US ruling class is once more waging information war—against domestic critics and internal enemies.

You can hardly blame the Ukrainians for inventing stories about fighter pilots who single-handedly downed scores of Russian aircraft. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is trying to keep up morale on the home front while soliciting support from Western leaders to fend off Vladimir Putin’s onslaught. For those in power, lying is part of the logic of war.

What isn’t normal is the all-out effort to promote Ukraine’s cause in America—an effort grafted on to a long series of ongoing propaganda campaigns deployed by US institutions and industries against the same target: the American public. These campaigns have used the same methods, personnel, platforms, and even catchwords to deceive, harass, and punish working- and middle-class Americans to the benefit of the country’s increasingly powerful ruling oligarchy.

To help their chosen candidate, Joe Biden, unseat President Donald Trump, Silicon Valley giants blocked an October 2020 New York Post exposé about influence-peddling by Biden’s son Hunter. Fifty former top US intelligence officials characterized the Post’s reporting as Russian disinformation, a claim echoed unanimously and uncritically by prestige outlets. The New York Times repeatedly called the Hunter Files “unsubstantiated,” while National Public Radio’s managing editor for news, Terence Samuels, huffed that “we don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories.”

Yet even as the Times acknowledged last week that the Hunter emails uncovered by the Post were indeed authentic, the same tech firms are banning videos and stories that contradict the US political establishment’s official Ukraine narrative for the same reason: American spies claim it’s Russian disinformation.

If you aren’t accused of serving Moscow, you are at least disloyal to the United States.

The media say that the Trump supporters who showed up to protest election irregularities at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, were there to wage an insurrection. This, despite mounting evidence, including the confessions of New York Times reporters, suggesting that law enforcement played a significant role in staging the day’s violence. Yet video of the events selectively edited by local police and the US Department of Justice and then released to the media has already solidified the official narrative: Anyone who didn’t vote for Biden is likely a domestic terrorist.

Or you are said to be endangering American lives with conspiracy theories.

That’s how the ruling class framed opposition journalists and researchers who questioned the origins of Covid-19, as well as doctors who noted the obvious fact that the vaccines didn’t work as promised—otherwise there would have been no need for boosters. The accused were banished from social media, hectored by their professional colleagues and institutions, and received scores of death threats. Americans who failed to comply with government efforts to rig the stock market by mandating Pfizer and Moderna shots were fired from work, expelled from school, and ostracized from their communities.

Fast-forward a few months: If you say out loud that you think there is something strange about a campaign involving Democrats and Republicans, the media, Big Tech, corporate giants, and US intelligence services to promote one side in a foreign war that doesn’t obviously touch on the daily concerns of most Americans, you’re pro-Putin.

That accusation has haunted the American public sphere going on six years.

For this is where the long campaign started, with Russiagate, the most destructive information operation ever waged against the nation. And unlike, say, the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, its authors aren’t adversarial spy services, but fellow Americans, our own ruling class. Now the same journalists, foreign-policy experts, and retired US officials who lied in 2016 about Trump’s ties to Russia are front and center shaping public opinion about the war waged by Putin—the world leader our overclass put in the middle of an elite conspiracy theory designed to guarantee Hillary Clinton the presidency.

It would be useful to have insight into Putin’s thinking, especially now with a massive land war in the middle of Europe giving rise to a powerful anti-American bloc led by Russia and China. But don’t count on America’s national-security establishment to provide that insight. For they squandered their credibility with Russiagate. From former officials like ex-Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and retired spy chiefs like James Clapper and John Brennan to Biden deputies like National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the Pentagon’s top strategist, Colin Kahl, and the entire Democratic Party and its media apparatus, the lies of America’s political class left the republic vulnerable to destructive forces.

Why did they lie? Policymakers, spy chiefs, and military officials rightly deceive foreign powers to protect and advance the US national interest. But these men and women lied to the American people about the president they elected. Then they lied about everything. Public US institutions and private industries have spent the last six years mustering their formidable powers to break the US working and middle classes. Why?

Because lying is part of the logic of war,
and America’s oligarchy is at war with the American people.

Natural Covid19 Immunity Is Real (Fauci Admits, Finally)

Jeffrey Tucker writes at the Brownstone Institute  Fauci Finally Admits Natural Immunity.  Excerpts in italic with my bolds.

Yes, Fauci has never worried about consistency or even contradicting himself one day to the next, often without explanation. Too often his doling out “the science” has felt like performance art. Still, the record is that Fauci and all his compatriots either downplayed or denied natural immunity for two years. That has been the source of vast confusion.

In fact, this might have been the most egregious science error of the entire pandemic. It amounted to giving the silent treatment to the most well-established point of cell biology that we have. It was taught to every generation from the 1920s until sometime in the new century when people stopped paying attention in 9th-grade biology class.

There’s no question that this effort to deny natural immunity
was systematic and pushed from the top.

How has this changed? In February 2022, the CDC finally published on the topic that they could not forever deny. And now, Fauci himself let the following slip in an interview on March 23, 2022:

“When you look at the cases they do not appear to be any more severe [than Omicron] and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccine or prior infection.”

What’s critical here is not his debatable claim about vaccines but rather his offhand remark about prior infection. It was tossed off as if: “Everyone knows this.” If so, it is no thanks to him, the CDC, or WHO.

To be sure, everything we’ve known since two years ago – if not 2.5 thousand years – is that immunity from prior Covid infection is real. Vaccines have traditionally been a substitute version of exactly that. Brownstone has assembled fully 150 studies that demonstrate that immunity through infection is effective, broad, and lasting.

Had that messaging been around during lockdowns, the attitude toward the virus would have been very different. We would have clearly seen the present reality from the beginning, namely that endemicity generally arrives in the case of a new virus of this sort due to exposure-induced population immunity. This is how humankind evolved to live in the presence of pathogens.

If we had widespread public awareness of this, the public-health priority would not have been locking down people who can manage exposure but rather alerting those who cannot to be careful until herd immunity in one’s own circle of contacts has been realized via meeting the virus and recovering.

To those who say that is dangerous, consider that mass exposure is precisely what happened in any case, stretched out over two years rather than occurring in a single season. This delaying of the inevitable might be what allowed for variants to emerge and take hold in successive rounds, each new one hitting naive immune systems in ways that were difficult to predict. Flatten the curve amounted to “prolonging the pain,” exactly as Knut Wittkowski predicted in March 2020.

A widespread understanding of natural immunity would have changed the entire calculus of public perception of how to manage one’s life in the face of a new virus. Instead of just running and hiding, people might have considered tradeoffs, as they had always done in the past. What is my risk of infection and under what conditions? If I do get the thing, what happens then? It might also have changed the priorities from disease avoidance and vaccine subsidies and mandates to thinking about the crucial thing: what should people do if they get sick? What should doctors recommend and prescribe?

The neglect of therapeutics figures into this very highly.

If people believe that locking down, staying away, masking up, stopping travel, and generally giving up all choices in life were the right way to make a pathogen magically disappear, plus they are under the impression that the risk of severe outcomes is equally distributed across the whole population, plus they believe that 3-4% of the population is going to die from Covid (as was suggested in the early days), you end up with a much more compliant people.

If natural immunity had been rightly seen as the most robust and broad form of immunity from the beginning, and we instead followed the idea of focused protection, the vaccine mandates would have been out of the question.

In other words, the silence of this topic was critical to scaring people all over the world into going along with an unprecedented attack on rights and liberties, thus losing up to two years of childhood education, closing millions of small businesses, and denying people basic religious liberties, in addition to the collapse of public health that resulted in record-breaking alcohol and opioid-related deaths, not to mention lost cancer screenings, childhood vaccinations, and general ill-health both physical and mental.

This stuff is not without consequence. Once might expect some contrition. Instead we get a passing comment and nothing more. After all, frank talk about this subject might be risky: it would imply that their entire mitigation strategy was wrong from the beginning and should never be attempted again.