UN’s Imaginary Planet

A banner advertising the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K., on Oct. 20, 2021. PHOTO BY IAN FORSYTH/BLOOMBERG FILES

William Watson writes at Financial Post What planet do UN carbon-fighters live on? Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

If current trends continue, the chance of the world hitting the UN’s goals are slim to none

One of the biggest news stories in Quebec this week is the partial closing of the Louis Hippolyte-Lafontaine tunnel, a major commuting artery under the St. Lawrence River, for what are termed “urgent” repairs. Half the tunnel’s lanes will be closed for three years — though that’s probably optimistic. Montreal’s brand-spanking-new light rail system, which for some reason the people who run the public pension plan think will be a big money-maker for them, recently had its opening delayed until next spring. In Quebec, big projects delays are like winter snow: simply assumed.

Though big for the affected commuters, these are tiny projects for the world. Yet they’ll take three years. Slowly, very slowly, does seem to be the way things work in many parts of the world these days. (Is there, by the way, a more aptly named figure than former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, whose approach to the truckers’ incursion seems to have been the opposite of speedy — and therefore of course very, very Ottawa?)

The tunnel, the bridge and the Réseau express métropolitain LRT came to mind as I scrolled through the latest edition of the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) update on the progress — or, in its view, shameful lack of progress — the world has made decarbonizing itself.

Judging by the 2½ pages of acknowledgements, this annual “Emissions Gap Report” is an immense undertaking by all sorts of committed people from universities, the UNEP itself and organizations such as the Bezos Earth Fund, the International Council on Clean Transportation, the ClimateWorks Foundation and so on. IKEA itself gets a shout-out for contributions from its foundation.

Not all the carbon news is bad. In a lovely set of graphs — production values, as always at the UN, are world-class — the team reports on how each G20 country is doing on its 2050 target (or NDC: nationally determined contribution). The arrow emerging from Canada’s trend points downward and to the right, heading for what looks like an exact bull’s eye with our commitment. If we do what we’ve said we’ll do — though that’s obviously a big if — we’ll get there. The EU27, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia (though its aim is off by a few years) are in essentially the same situation.

But other countries are not, including five that already account for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus the arrows for China, India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia are headed skyward, soaring to levels far above their 2060 (not 2050) commitments. Maybe a decade or two of rapid economic growth will persuade them they’re now rich enough to go after carbon. But if current trends continue, the chance of the world hitting the UN’s goals are slim to none.

Which leads to a lot of foot-stamping scolding on the part of the emissions-gap team. Watching 20th-century international hockey, we Canadians were always shocked that Soviet coaches evidently thought they could get more out of their players by haranguing them on the bench after a lousy play. For some reason, the UN folk don’t seem to understand that being harangued puts most people off.

LULUCF refers to emissions from land use and forestry, which can be in addition or subtraction.

Yet the report argues what we need is “wide-ranging, large-scale, rapid and systemic transformation” in order to reach the goal of a two-degree, let alone 1.5-degree, increase in average global temperatures. “Is it a tall order to transform our systems in just eight years?” asks the executive director of UNEP, apparently with a straight face. “Yes,” she concedes, “but we must try.” And so the report goes on to provide a long list of imperatives for governments, industry and (they get their own chapter) bankers.

We all understand that ardent environmentalists are driven by their love for the planet. But which planet exactly do they live on? In the part of planet earth I live on (and love, too, in my own conservative way), it takes three years to perform “urgent” repairs on an important tunnel — and it probably took at least as many to clear the decision to go ahead. Yet here are apparently intelligent and certainly well-educated people saying the world must turn its agricultural sector upside down, or at least get a good start on doing so, in just eight years.

Figure 6.2 Food systems emissions trajectory and mitigation potentials by transformation domain

Societies do undergo radical transformations. The other day I found myself talking to a speaker, telling it which radio station to play. We of a certain age are living quite differently than we did as children. But people only make these big transformations voluntarily, when new technologies or ideas come along that are self-evidently desirable and appear worth spending money on.

That would not be the case with a precipitate, top-down overhaul
of our agricultural and industrial systems.

We’ve only just figured out how to feed eight-billion people. What happens to a billion or two of them if the grand agricultural experiment the UN wants us all to try doesn’t work out? Environmentalists always say this is the only planet we’ve got. It is indeed. But that means there’s nowhere else to import food from if global experiments go wrong.

Alarmist Climate Consensus Collapses

‘There is No Climate Emergency’ (1,107 Signatories and Counting)

The World Climate Declaration (Global Climate Intelligence Group) follows:

    • There is no climate emergency Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists should openly address uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while politicians should dispassionately count the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of their policy measures.
    • Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming. The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases. The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.
    • Warming is far slower than predicted. The world has warmed significantly less than predicted by IPCC on the basis of modeled anthropogenic forcing. The gap between the real world and the modeled world tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.
    • Climate policy relies on inadequate models Climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools. They do not only exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases, they also ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial.
    • CO2 is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. More CO2 is favorable for nature, greening our planet. Additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also profitable for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.
    • Global warming has not increased natural disasters There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent. However, there is ample evidence that CO2 mitigation measures are as damaging as they are costly.
    • Climate policy must respect scientific and economic realities There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050. Go for adaptation instead of mitigation; adaptation works whatever the causes are.

Our advice to the European leaders is that Science should strive for a significantly better understanding of the Climate System, while Politics should focus on minimizing potential climate damage by priortizing adapation strategies based on proven and affordable technologies

COP27 is several months ahead. The world is recommitting itself to fossil fuels, while only government largesse keeps the wind/solar/battery gravy train going. Global Climate Intelligence Group’s World Climate Declaration stands as a beacon light to a wholly different approach of free-market adaptation, not government mitigation.

See also CLINTEL Declaration Essay

 

Wasting Money on Carbon Capture

Robert Bryce explains in his Real Clear Energy article Carbon Capture Didn’t Make Sense 12 Years Ago And It Doesn’t Make Sense Now.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

It appears the reconciliation bill that includes some $370 billion in energy-related spending is going to become law. The measure includes a panoply of tax credits for alternative energy technologies, including incentives for electric vehicles, hydrogen, energy storage, and of course, billions of dollars in tax credits for wind and solar energy.

The measure also includes, according to the Congressional Budget Office, some $3.2 billion in tax credits for carbon capture and sequestration, a technology that has plenty of supporters but precious little in the way of commercially successful projects. Back in 2018, Al Gore blasted CCS, calling it “nonsense” and an “extremely improbable solution.”

The new tax credits for CCS remind me that I published a piece in the New York Times on May 12, 2010, about the technology. In looking back, the piece is still relevant today. In fact, I wouldn’t change a word of it. Furthermore, my prediction about the difficulty of siting the pipelines needed to move the CO2 has already come true. For proof, see this August 6, Wall Street Journal article about the opposition to a proposed CO2 pipeline in Iowa.

In any case here’s my 12-year-old take on why CCS is a bad bet:

On Wednesday, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman introduced their long-awaited Senate energy bill, which includes incentives of $2 billion per year for carbon capture and sequestration, the technology that removes carbon dioxide from the smokestack at power plants and forces it into underground storage. This significant allocation would come on top of the $2.4 billion for carbon capture projects that appeared in last year’s stimulus package.

That’s a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering. Lawmakers should stop perpetuating the hope that the technology can help make huge cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.

1. An Energy Intensive Process

Let’s take the first problem. Capturing carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a coal-fired electric generation plant is an energy-intensive process. Analysts estimate that capturing the carbon dioxide cuts the output of a typical plant by as much as 28 percent.

Given that the global energy sector is already straining to meet booming demand for electricity, it’s hard to believe that the United States, or any other country that relies on coal-fired generation, will agree to reduce the output of its coal-fired plants by almost a third in order to attempt carbon capture and sequestration.

2. Costly Pipelines for a Waste Gas

Here’s the second problem. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has estimated that up to 23,000 miles of new pipeline will be needed to carry the captured carbon dioxide to the still-undesignated underground sequestration sites. That doesn’t sound like much when you consider that America’s gas pipeline system sprawls over some 2.3 million miles. But those natural gas pipelines carry a valuable, marketable, useful commodity.

By contrast, carbon dioxide is a worthless waste product, so taxpayers would likely end up shouldering most of the cost. Yes, some of that waste gas could be used for enhanced oil recovery projects; flooding depleted oil reservoirs with carbon dioxide is a proven technology that can increase production and extend the life of existing oilfields. But the process would be useful in only a limited number of oilfields — probably less than 10 percent of the waste carbon dioxide captured from coal-fired power plants could actually be injected into American oilfields.

3. Impossibly Massive Scale

The third, and most vexing, problem has to do with scale. In 2009, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States totaled 5.4 billion tons. Let’s assume that policymakers want to use carbon capture to get rid of half of those emissions — say, 3 billion tons per year. That works out to about 8.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, which would have to be collected and compressed to about 1,000 pounds per square inch (that compressed volume of carbon dioxide would be roughly equivalent to the volume of daily global oil production).

In other words, we would need to find an underground location (or locations) able to swallow a volume equal to the contents of 41 oil supertankers each day, 365 days a year.

There will also be considerable public resistance to carbon dioxide pipelines and sequestration projects — local outcry has already stalled proposed carbon capture projects in Germany and Denmark. The fact is, few landowners are eager to have pipelines built across their property. And because of the possibility of deadly leaks, few people will want to live near a pipeline or an underground storage cavern. This leads to the obvious question: which members of the House and Senate are going to volunteer their states to be dumping grounds for all that carbon dioxide?

For some, carbon capture and sequestration will remain the Holy Grail of carbon-reduction strategies. But before Congress throws yet more money at the procedure, lawmakers need to take a closer look at the issues that hamstring nearly every new energy-related technology: cost and scale.

Footnote:  The project is not only impractical, its deluded objective is to deprive the biosphere of plant food.

In Defense of Fertilizers, Farmers and Food

The UN and WEF have declared a War on Fertilizers with conflicts erupting in Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Canada.  Fear of “greenhouse gases”  provide the moral justification for mandating reductions in the production and use of fertilizers.

This will in turn deprive many farmers of their way of life.  As a group, farmers belong to the “yeomanry” social class: independent, self-reliant small businessmen and women who don’t trust government and want it only to leave them alone.  This makes them (like truckers) public enemies no.1, according to the control freaks increasingly entrenched in public authorities.

Most important is the objective to take over and regulate the food supply, along with governmental direction of the energy sector.  The reason for this was well articulated by Leon Trotsky decades ago.

U.N. War On Fertilizer Began in Sri Lanka

Michael Shellenberger:  UN Environment Programme launched its anti-fertilizer efforts from Sri Lanka in 2019

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) describes itself as “the global authority that sets the environmental agenda… and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.” Through its “Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” program launched in 2014, the UNEP advocates that nations “steer away from the prevailing focus on per hectare productivity.”

But today the world is in its worst food crisis since 2008.

The number of people suffering acute food insecurity increased by 25% since January 2022 to 345 million, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. Why, then, is the UNEP trying to steer nations away from fertilizers that increase food production?

The UNEP’s Acting Director in 2019 said the reason was humankind’s “long-term interference with the Earth’s nitrogen balance.” In October of that year, the UNEP hosted a meeting in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo and issued a “road map” to push nations to cut nitrogen pollution in half.

But the Netherlands proves that nations can slash nitrogen pollution
from livestock by 70% while also increasing meat production. Same for crops.

Since the early 1960s, the Netherlands has doubled its yields while using the same amount of fertilizer. While rich nations produce 70 percent higher yields than poor nations, they use just 54 percent more nitrogen.

One month after the Colombo meeting in 2019, which generated significant media attention in Sri Lanka, voters in that nation elected an anti-fertilizer president, H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who claimed, without scientific evidence, that synthetic fertilizers were causing kidney diseases. In April 2021, he banned fertilizer imports.

In June, 2021, two months after the fertilizer ban, Sri Lanka hosted a UN-sponsored “Food System Dialogue” aimed at influencing the UN’s broader anti-fertilizer agenda for the world. “Sri Lanka’s inaugural Food System Dialogue is part of a series of national and provincial dialogues conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture ahead of the 2021 UN Food System Summit set to take place in New York later this year.”

Netherlands and Canada Invoke Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Hysteria

LifeSiteNews While the event went mostly unreported, a large group of Canadians formed a convoy late last month in Winnipeg, Manitoba to voice their support for Dutch farmers currently protesting their government’s fertilizer reduction policies.

In the footage, many of the vehicles can be seen donning the Netherlands flag, with some of the flags being flown upside-down, which is a practice done throughout the world as a way to signal distress.

One large tractor had a sign on it that read, “No fertilizers, No Farmers, No food,” while a pick-up truck had a sign reading, “Government is lying. Fight for freedom.”

As reported by LifeSiteNews, for the past month farmers in the Netherlands have been protesting the fertilizer reduction policies put forward by their World Economic Forum-linked Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.

Under the guise of “climate change,” Rutte and his government have created a “nitrogen and nature” ministry to curb nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions in the country, and told farmers that failure to comply with the new policies would lead to an expropriation of their land.

According to the Dutch farmers, compliance with the policies would mean far smaller crop yields and insufficient food production – nitrogen and ammonia are integral ingredients in fertilizers – and would lead to a massive loss of income or having to sell their farms altogether.

Despite the pleas of thousands of farmers to have the implementation of the policies reconsidered, Rutte dismissed the group as “small” and “unacceptable,” echoing the statement made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year, when he called the anti-COVID mandate “Freedom Convoy” protesters in his country a “small, fringe minority.”

In addition to the similar attitude they express to disgruntled citizens, both politicians are members of the World Economic Forum, and have both signed their countries up for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In fact, a December 2020 press release from Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food shows that Trudeau has been planning to implement fertilizer policies similar to those being imposed by Rutte for quite some time.

However, nitrous oxide emissions, particularly those associated with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use have also grown significantly. That is why the Government of Canada has set the national fertilizer emissions reduction target, which is part of the commitment to reduce total GHG emissions in Canada by 40-45% by 2030, as outlined in Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan,” adds the release, which includes references to “the 2030 Agenda” and the U.N.’s “17 Sustainable Development Goals.”

The World of N2O

Just as CO2 is a small part of a planetary Carbon Cycle, so too is N2O an even smaller part of a global Nitrogen cycle.  Some charts below provide a perspective on how N2O fits into a larger picture.

Sources of Atmospheric N2O

Source: Global Carbon Project

The chart above shows several important things to know.  First, the atmospheric inputs of N20 from natural sources are about 60% and human sources 40%.  Note that the estimates of inputs have a range of +/- 20% for natural sources, and +/- 50% for human sources.  Over time N2O breaks down into the main atmospheric gases N2 and O2.  No uncertainty is provided for the removal of N2O, leading to suspicion it is not measured but calculated to make a balance.

The second chart informs on the scale of N2O concentrations.  At first glance, it appears comparable to CO2, but on closer inspection the amounts are in ppb (parts per billion), not ppm (parts per million) as with CO2.  To get comparable amounts requires dividing by 1000, thus the vertical axis goes from 0.315 ppm to 0.340 ppm.  Yes, the dramatic rise over the last 22 years is 0.025ppm.

Then we have the annual global increase of N2O from all sources ranging from about 0.5 to 1.3 ppb.  Does anyone believe they can measure N2O down to 0.0005 ppm?

Then there is the matter that Nitrous oxide emissions in the United States decreased by 5% between 1990 and 2020. During this time, nitrous oxide emissions from mobile combustion decreased by 61% as a result of emission control standards for on-road vehicles. Nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils have varied during this period and were about the same in 2020 as in 1990. So any increases came from elsewhere, including the majority natural sources.

About Global Warming Potential

IPCC puts out a table like the Ten Commandments listing the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of all the “greenhouse gases.”  CO2 is assigned “1”, and all others are given a number as a multiple of CO2.  As noted above N2O is assigned ~300, making it a fearful GHG, depending of course on how much warming CO2 actually generates.

Source: GHG Institute

There are no details on the N2O GWP calculation of 300, but one suspects it is mainly due to the projected long residence time (100+ years) compared to about 5 years for CO2 (much shorter for CH4).  But no matter the half-life of N2O, consider the above absorption spectra of ghgs.  Note that N2O has no peaks, more like three pimples, all on the low energy longer IR wavelengths.  Moreover, the one at 4.5m overlaps entirely with CO2, the second at 7.9m is overwhelmed by H2O, and the third at 17.0m can only absorb what CO2 has not.

Getting Perspective on N2O Climate Fear

The Claim:  Nitrous Oxide is claimed to be a GHG 300 times as powerful as CO2; claimed to cause 7.5% of warming effect.  Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas with an atmospheric half-life of 120 years.  Environmentalists and ecologists share the consensus that there should be an 80% reduction in the total greenhouse gases below the 1990 level.

The Facts:

Start with a wholistic picture of IR active gases (so-called “GHGs”) .  H20 is 95% of all such gases, water vapor in the atmosphere ranging from 0 to 4%.  CO2 is a trace gas by comparison, 4% of GHGs, at 400 ppm, amounting to 0.04% of the atmosphere, presumed to be well mixed in the troposphere.

Consider that claimed N2O IR activity is less than 1%.  And in fact constitutes roughly 1/1000 of the gold blocks representing CO2.  An earlier graph showed N2O is presently ~ 0.340 ppm, or 0.00034% of the atmosphere.

Add in the estimation by Dr. Happer regarding IR activity in our atmosphere.  The black line shows gases absorbing radiation at various wavelengths from near IR on the left (shorter wave, higher energy) to far IR on the right (longer wave, lower energy). The big black line notch in the 600s is CO2 absorption in its modern concentration of 400 ppm.  The red line shows what will be the absorption should CO2 double in amount to 800 ppm. [See Climate Change and CO2 Not a Problem]

Notice that the difference between the red and black lines is miniscule. Notice also the microscopic effects of N2O across the spectrum.  Mathematically, 300 times miniscule = negligible.

Summary

This is a bogus war on fertilizers, farmers and food.  Everything is exaggerated for the sake of an extreme agenda to impose controls on free enterprise developed societies.  It is true that use of fertilizers results in some release of N2O into the air, but even this has been overstated. And as the video demonstrates, farmers have a vested interest in using fertilizers wisely and are applying techniques that improve efficiency.  As well, there is evidence of efficiency gains in the process of producing ammonia and then urea from air and natural gas.  The attack on food supply is in effect an effort to reduce the population.

Footnote The Living Soil

“Green” Mentality

 

 

 

Trudeau Wants Canada to Imitate the Dutch and Sri Lanka

From The Counter Signal, in italics with my bolds

As per a Government of Saskatchewan news release, both the Alberta and Saskatchewan’s Ministers of Agriculture have expressed “profound disappointment” in Trudeau’s decision to attempt to reduce nitrogen emissions from fertilizer.

“We’re really concerned with this arbitrary goal,” Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture David Marit said. “The Trudeau government has apparently moved on from their attack on the oil and gas industry and set their sights on Saskatchewan farmers.”

According to Alberta Agriculture Minister Nate Horner, “This has been the most expensive crop anyone has put in, following a very difficult year on the prairies. The world is looking for Canada to increase production and be a solution to global food shortages. The Federal government needs to display that they understand this. They owe it to our producers.”

“Fertilizers play a major role in the agriculture sector’s success and have contributed to record harvests in the last decade. They have helped drive increases in Canadian crop yields, grain sales, and exports,” a news release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reads.

And indeed, according to a report from Fertilizer Canada:

    • Total Emission Reduction puts a cap on the total emissions allowable from fertilizer at 30% below 2020 levels. As the yield of Canadian crops is directly linked to proper fertilizer application this creates a ceiling on Canadian agricultural productivity well below 2020 levels….
    • It is estimated that a 30% absolute emission reduction for a farmer with 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat, stands to have their profit reduced by approximately $38,000 – $40,500/ annually.
    • In 2020, Western Canadian farmers planted approximately 20.8 million acres of canola. Using these values, cumulatively farm revenues from canola could be reduced by $396M – $441M on an annual basis. Wheat famers could experience a reduction of $400M.

Moreover, Fertilizer Canada doesn’t believe that forcibly decreasing fertilizer use will even lower greenhouse gases but could lead to carbon leakage elsewhere.

Why WEF Elites are Attacking Agriculture

Cameron Smith explains in his ACHS article ‘Regenerative’ Farming: AOC’s Overhyped Climate Change Solution excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently came out in support of “regenerative” farming as a solution to climate change. There is little evidence to justify her advocacy.

The reality is that regenerative agriculture, as commonly defined today, can’t “protect” the global food supply from climate change; it can’t even feed a small country. To achieve the kinds of sustainability gains Ocasio-Cortez described, we need technology-driven farming that utilizes every available tool.

What is regenerative farming?

It’s actually difficult to pin down a clear definition. Most growers and agricultural scientists are interested in sustainable, efficient farming practices that allow us to feed more people while preserving our natural resources. But that’s not what advocates of regenerative farming typically mean when they use the term; their definition is often couched in ideological assumptions.

NRDC went on to explain that “Regenerative farmers and ranchers make every effort to reduce their reliance on synthetic inputs, such as herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.” The problem with using this sort of technophobia as a guiding principle is that it excludes workable solutions to the problems everybody wants to mitigate.

Genetically engineered (GE) crops that require less water or naturally fight off pests are two very practical, innovative tools that “regenerative” advocates almost universally disdain. There is no justification for this bias since the genetics of a plant have little to do with how you grow it. A few agroecology advocates have made the same observation; they see no problem in growing GE crops according to agroecological principles.

The same goes for low-toxic pesticides. Widespread use of the weed killer glyphosate, the boogeyman in modern environmentalism, allowed many farmers to reduce or eliminate tillage as a form of weed control, significantly cutting their CO2 emissions. Herbicide-tolerant seeds introduced in the 1990s accelerated the adoption of no- and low-till agriculture.

In 2018 alone, farmers who cultivated these GE crops reduced their carbon emissions by 23 billion kilotons, the equivalent of pulling 15.3 million cars off the road. NRDC acknowledged the value of no-till farming, calling it “a technique that leaves the soil intact when planting rather than disturbing the soil through plowing.” But the group has also lambasted glyphosate as “a toxic weed killer.”

This isn’t to say that agrochemicals have no negative impact on the environment, because they certainly do. But that externality has to be balanced against the enormous production increases pesticides and fertilizers enable, which reduce the amount of land we dedicate to farming while feeding more people.

In any case, the solution isn’t to ban technologies that have proven their efficacy in spades. We instead have to devise new solutions that build upon earlier innovations. The end result is an increasingly sustainable food system. This is the key concept Ocasio-Cortez and other ideologues miss when they wax poetic about “regenerative farming techniques.” Let’s give Nordhaus and Saloni the last word:

… [t]here is no shortage of problems associated with chemical-intensive and large-scale agriculture. But the solutions to these problems—be they innovations that allow farmers to deliver fertilizer more precisely to plants when they need it, bioengineered microbial soil treatments that fix nitrogen in the soil and reduce the need for both fertilizer and soil disruption, or genetically modified crops that require fewer pesticides and herbicides—will be technological, giving farmers new tools instead of removing old ones that have been proven critical to their livelihoods.

Footnote When Will Justin Trudeau Stop Acting Like Dumb and Dumber?

 

Spanish Eyes Imaginary Climate Crisis

Itxu Díaz  writes from Spain in American Spectator This Hyperventilating Climate Columnist Needs to Calm Down.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Take a deep breath, buddy.

Let me tell you something. The idiot who presides over the government of my country went a couple of days ago to get his picture taken in front of a still smoldering burnt forest after one of the most serious waves of wildfires in the history of Spain. The origin of the fire was unknown at the time of the visit, although we already knew the causes of its rapid spread: the local people are no longer allowed to manage the forest in the way they have been doing for centuries. Rural people are no longer allowed to keep the forests clear of undergrowth, nor are they allowed to bring in sheep and other animals that help to balance it. A barrage of green laws like the ones you are calling for are behind these bans.

When the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, arrived there and made statements, I assumed he would apologize or just show some sympathy towards the victims. But no. All he said was that climate change was to blame for the fire! You might imagine the expressions on the faces of the old farmers as they looked at him from behind blackened faces, their hands swollen and bloody after three days of intense fighting against the flames that had scorched their forest and homes. The funny thing is that he unwittingly told the truth: a reforestation company operating in the area has just admitted that it caused the fire while digging holes for the plantations. This is one of many companies that, driven by climate hysteria, is carrying out massive reforestations to sell greenhouse gas offset credits to large corporations.

So, indeed, climate change was to blame for the fire,
but not in the way you and Sanchez would have us believe.

My prime minister has the same pathology as you. However, Sanchez pretends he cares about the climate because he knows it is the progressive trend of the moment; the truth is that he doesn’t care because of his extreme psychopathy. I’m sure your claim is much more sincere.

I worry about the weather when it’s time to go to the beach, but what keeps me anxious at all hours is inflation, fuel prices, and the threat of a recession in the fall. Things I can touch with my hands. You worry about climate change, and that’s fine, everyone chooses their own ghosts; the bad thing is that the solutions you propose always consist of shearing the middle class with green taxes, sending us to work on bicycles, forcing us to not eat meat, and hindering the work of farmers and ranchers, thanks to whom rich Democrats eat their delicious salads and supreme steaks in Washington.

In short, the solution is to force us to live like back before the first industrial revolution, while the rich and the rulers get to enjoy all the luxuries of the 21st century, use private jets, eat huge steaks, and move around in giant cars escorted by even bigger cars, which I assume all run on rose petals as fuel.

I don’t know, kiddo, go on being overwhelmed by climate change if you want,
but do it with your savings.

You can afford your expensive vices and belief in the climate apocalypse is one of them. Of course, I’m a firm believer in freedom, but you can have them as long as you pay for them with your own damn money. And take a deep breath, buddy, or breathe into a paper bag like in Analyze That, as I heartily wish you a prompt recovery from this nervous climate crisis. I don’t want to even begin to think about your poor nervous system the day you have to deal with, God forbid, a real problem.

Footnote: The Fable of Political Survival

A provincial political leader won the parliamentary election and on the day to take the oath was greeted by the outgoing premier.  Wishing him well, his predecessor gave him three envelopes, explaining it was a tradition.  The envelopes contained advice to be consulted later on if difficulties were encountered.

Not long after taking office, criticisms started up, and the new premier opened the first envelope.  It explained:  “Blame it on the previous administration.”  He followed that advice pointing to past financial mismanagement, and the difficulty undoing bad policies and programs he had inherited.

That calmed things down for awhile, but a year later the excuses were wearing thin.  So he turned to the second envelope which gave the advice:  “Blame it on the federal government.”  A new campaign of announcements focused on delays and shortfalls of federal funding, poor coordination and liaison by federal counterparts, and counterproductive federal policies.

This quieted critics for more than a year, but alas it too began to fall on deaf ears.  It was time to open the third envelope:  ” Blame it on climate change, or else prepare three envelopes.”

See also Climateers Tilting at Windmills 

Huge: EPA Loses–America Wins

Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday called for the Supreme Court to be abolished after the High Court reined in the EPA’s power to regulated greenhouse gases.

Scotusblog reports on this latest return to sanity by the US Supreme Court. Supreme Court curtails EPA’s authority to fight climate change  Once again the court refuses to legislate an issue that belongs to Congressional deliberation. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In a 6-3 decision that may limit agency power across the federal government, the court held that Congress did not clearly authorize the EPA to adopt broad rules to lower carbon emissions from power plants.

The Supreme Court on Thursday truncated the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. The ruling may hamper President Joe Biden’s plan to fight climate change and could limit the authority of federal agencies across the executive branch.

By a vote of 6-3, the court agreed with Republican-led states and coal companies that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was wrong when it interpreted the Clean Air Act to give the EPA expansive power over carbon emissions. The decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, was handed down on the final opinion day of the 2021-22 term.

Two different and conflicting sets of regulations – neither of which is currently in effect – were at issue in the case, known as West Virginia v. EPA. In 2015, the Obama administration adopted the Clean Power Plan, which sought to combat climate change by reducing carbon pollution from power plants – for example, by shifting electricity production to natural-gas plants or wind farms. The CPP set individual goals for each state to cut power-plant emissions by 2030. But in 2016, the Supreme Court put the CPP on hold in response to a challenge by several states and private parties.

In 2019, the Trump administration repealed the CPP and replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which gave states discretion to set standards and gave power plants flexibility in complying with those standards. The Trump administration argued that it was required to end the CPP because it exceeded the EPA’s authority under Section 7411 of the Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA the power to determine the “best system of emission reduction” for buildings that emit air pollutants. That provision, the Trump administration contended, only allows the EPA to implement measures that apply to the physical premises of a power plant, rather than the kind of industry-wide measures included in the CPP.

Last year the D.C. Circuit vacated both the Trump administration’s repeal of the CPP and the ACE Rule, and sent the case back to the EPA for additional proceedings. Section 7411, the court of appeals explained, does not require the more limited view of the EPA’s authority that the Trump administration adopted.

The Supreme Court on Thursday reversed the D.C. Circuit’s ruling. Roberts’ 31-page opinion began by considering whether the Republican-led states and coal companies challenging the D.C. Circuit’s decision had a right to seek review in the Supreme Court now. Because the Biden administration plans to issue a new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, rather than reinstating the CPP, the administration had argued that the case did not present a live controversy for the justices to decide. But a decision by the government to stop the conduct at the center of a case does not end the case, Roberts emphasized, “unless it is ‘absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur.’” And in this case, Roberts stressed, because the Biden administration “vigorously defends” the approach that the Obama EPA took with the CPP, the Supreme Court can weigh in.

Turning to the merits of the case, Roberts wrote that the EPA’s effort to regulate greenhouse gases by making industry-wide changes violated the “major-questions” doctrine – the idea that if Congress wants to give an administrative agency the power to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance,” it must say so clearly.

Section 7411 of the Clean Air Act, Roberts reasoned, had been “designed as a gap filler and had rarely been used in the preceding decades.” But with the CPP, Roberts observed, the EPA sought to rely on Section 7411 to exercise “unprecedented power over American industry.” “There is little reason to think Congress assigned such decisions to” the EPA, Roberts concluded, especially when Congress had previously rejected efforts to enact the kind of program that the EPA wanted to implement with the CPP.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” Roberts wrote. But only Congress, or an agency with express authority from Congress, can adopt a “decision of such magnitude and consequence.”

Roberts’ full-throated embrace of the major-questions doctrine – a judicially created approach to statutory interpretation in challenges to agency authority – likely will have ripple effects far beyond the EPA. His reasoning applies to any major policymaking effort by federal agencies.

In a concurring opinion that was joined by Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch emphasized that the dispute before the court involved “basic questions about self-government, equality, fair notice, federalism, and the separation of powers.” The major-questions doctrine, Gorsuch wrote, “seeks to protect against ‘unintentional, oblique, or otherwise unlikely’ intrusions on these interests” by requiring federal agencies to have “clear congressional authorization” when they address important issues. Whether coal- and gas-fired power plants “should be allowed to operate is a question on which people today may disagree, but it is a question everyone can agree is vitally important.”

The Ruling WEST VIRGINIA v. EPA

Background  Supremes to Review EPA Authority Over GHGs

Footnote from CO2 Coalition

EPA loses – America Wins

Victory for citizens and businesses alike

In what is likely the most damaging setback ever dealt to those advocating for overzealous enforcement actions against greenhouse gas emissions, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of constitutional limitations on unelected regulators.

This morning SCOTUS ruled in favor of the plaintiff states in WV v. EPA. This was an important “separation of powers” case. Over 20 states allege EPA improperly used very narrow statutory language as the basis for a national CO2 cap-and-trade program.

The constitutional principle of separation of powers requires that only Congress—through legislation—is authorized to decide major policy issues, not federal agencies. The related legal “Major Question Doctrine” holds that federal agencies must have a clear authorization from Congress before exercising new and significant regulatory power.

According to the ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts: “But the only interpretive question before us, and the only one we answer, is more narrow: whether the “best system of emission reduction” identified by EPA in the Clean Power Plan was within the authority granted to the Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. For the reasons given, the answer is no.”

This is why we fight.

Statement on the ruling by CO2 Coalition Chair William Happer:

“The decision is a very welcome reaffirmation of the Constitutional rights of citizens of the United States. Untouched is the question of whether the Constitution allows Congress to make scientifically incorrect decisions by majority vote, for example: that carbon dioxide, a beneficial gas that is essential to life on Earth, is a pollutant.”

A Rational Climate Policy

Recently in a post called Silence of Conservative Lambs I wrote:

The 1991 blockbuster movie revolved around meek, silent victims preyed upon by malevolent believers in their warped, twisted view of the world. A comparison can be drawn between how today’s conservative thinkers and politicians respond to advocates of the pernicious global warming/climate change ideology. Instead of challenging and pushing back against CO2 hysteria, and speaking out with a rational climate perspective, Republicans in the US, and Conservatives in Canada and elsewhere are meek and silent lambs in the face of this energy slaughter. Worse, when they do speak it is to usually to pander and try to appease offering proposals for things like carbon taxes or other non-remedies for a non-problem, essentially ceding the case to leftists.

So to be more constructive, let’s consider what should be proposed by political leaders regarding climate, energy and the environment.  IMO these should be the pillars:

♦  Climate change is real, but not an emergency.

♦  We must use our time to adapt to future climate extremes.

♦  We must transition to a diversified energy platform.

♦  We must safeguard our air and water from industrial pollutants.

 

For those not familiar, Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) is an independent foundation that operates in the fields of climate change and climate policy. CLINTEL was founded in 2019 by emeritus professor of geophysics Guus Berkhout and science journalist Marcel Crok.  Their 1000+ members are signatories of a declaration There is No Climate Emergency

A global network of 900 scientists and professionals has prepared this urgent message. Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists should openly address uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while politicians should dispassionately count the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of their policy measures.

One example of a national energy and environment strategy is provided by Clintel for The Netherlands.  The document is Clintel’s Integrated Energy Vision.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Preamble

We all agree in CLINTEL that:
– There is no climate emergency. We have ample time to improve our climate models (for a better understanding of the factors that regulate the climate) and to search for better adaptation technologies.

– The influence of CO2 on global warming is overestimated and its influence on greening is underestimated (even worse, it is often ignored). Nobody knows what the optimum value of atmospheric CO2 concentration is, but from a geological point of view we may conclude that we live in a time with historical low concentrations. Again, there is no climate emergency.

– There is an energy emergency.  Decarbonisation policies – in terms of the current energy transition are most destructive. They do much more harm than good. These energy policies must be terminated immediately.

– The new generation (III and IV) nuclear power plants ought to get all our attention. These plants promise low-priced, reliable, safe and clean energy. In combination with natural gas nuclear energy is a ‘No Regret Solution’. Wind and solar energy are at most niche technologies. Their contribution is and will stay marginal.

With respect to the energy transition, CLINTEL emphasises that there exists not something as a global uniform energy system.  Every country needs a tailor-made energy system depending on its geography, mineral resources, development phase, industrial specialization, population density, etc. For instance, The Netherlands – being a very densely populated country and being severely divided on the CO2 issue – it looks like the new generation of nuclear power plants may function as a breakthrough in the political process:

Part I shows that current Dutch energy policy – having the ambition to reduce CO₂ emissions as much as 49% by 2030 – is based on panic and shall lead to immense additional costs and a drastically deteriorated living environment. Below, we will propose an inspiring long-term energy vision that fits our (and many other) country’s needs, is based on scientific facts, and aimed at a prosperous future for everyone. A positive vision that replaces the gloom and doom predictions of the climate models. A vision with a hopeful perspective for the future.

A Guiding Vision for the Future

It is well known that high-risk, capital-intensive decisions should be based on a policy that is as insensitive as possible about the way the future will unfold. We have called it a No Regret Policy. It represents a long-term policy, implemented by taking small steps, and continuously adapted to what is happening in reality. CLINTEL has drawn up a No Regret Energy Policy, especially aimed at the Dutch energy transition.

The proposed NRE policy is insensitive for the impact that CO₂ might or might not have on climate change (dominant or marginal). In addition it is insensitive for what role the future electricity grid will play and for what the best mobility energy option will be. An extra bonus of the NRE policy is that the Netherlands’ energy supply will become less dependent on Russian natural gas and Middle Eastern oil.

CLINTEL’s proposal consists of three main elements:

1. Introduction of nuclear energy
If we base ourselves on the most up-to-date insights in energy supply, and we look at our four objectives as well as to our ‘no regret demands’, then nuclear energy is the only choice that meets these needs:

• No CO₂ emissions (mandatory requirement in the climate policy in force) as well as excellent controlled waste treatment (pollution requirement)
• High safety level (safety requirement)
• Demand-driven, reliable and affordable (prosperity requirement)
• High energy density (environmental requirement)

About the last entry, please compare a medium-sized 500 MW nuclear power plant with a medium wind turbine park of 4 MW full load. For this reactor, we will need a terrain of approximately 1 km², for the wind farm approx. 300 km². In addition, a nuclear power plant delivers guaranteed for at least 60 years power with low operational costsWind turbines on the other hand deliver unreliable power with high operational costs for a maximum of 25 years.  Solar panels aren’t performing any better. Moreover, the corresponding inverter (from direct current to alternating current) only lasts about 10 years.

2. Transforming green electrons into green molecules

Transport and storage of much larger than the current quantities of electrical energy is
technically difficult and economically unattractive. Every physicist will say: Don’t do it!
The real alternative is that with a large supply of cheap and reliable electrical energy we can afford to transform this energy into any desired molecular clean energy carrier, in the form of synthetic gas and synthetic oil.

There are attractive candidates with an appropriate energy density, such as methanol (CH3OH), ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen (H2), or a combination. These truly green energy carriers can be used safely and affordably be stored and transported using the existing infrastructure (bear in mind that 100% H2 is very aggressive and highly flammable, so there is still a lot of work to be done before this energy carrier can be implemented safely at a large scale).

Oil companies should not be tempted by substantial public subsidies to participate in solar fields and wind farms. Instead, they should concentrate on production, transport and distribution of green molecules (green gas, green oil), so do what they are good at.  Plans to store surplus CO₂ underground may turn out to be a silly activity. Oil companies, be critical before starting such an activity at a large scale.

3. Hybrid applications

With the supply of truly clean electricity and truly clean energy carriers, optimal choices can be made without large and expensive  grid reinforcements and polluting battery packs. Examples:

• Clean high-efficiency boilers (green gas)
• Clean road traffic (green petrol, green diesel)
• Clean aviation (green kerosene)
• Clean industrial production (green gas)
• Clean desalination of seawater (green potable water)

Interestingly, for each application there also is a hybrid solution (fossil-fuel molecules combined with green molecules and/or green molecules combined with green electrons). Here are also great opportunities to meet the ever-growing need for potable water. After all, it is bad for the soil if we keep on pumping up groundwater (e.g. soil desiccation, and soil subsidence). This can be done much better if we link our energy policy to our drinking water policy.

NRE policy excludes burning of biomass (‘the most stupid policy of all times’) and includes sun and wind as niches only. Batteries are only used for low-power applications, as in the information sector. Natural gas and natural oil are primarily still raw materials for the industry. ‘Saying goodbye to ‘natural’ gas, is utterly silly. Any CO₂ tax is even more silly.

Nuclear energy is proposed as the only truly sustainable solution.  To start with, nuclear power will have to take over the energy and heat supply from existing power plants that have almost reached the end of their technical and/or economic lifespan. Next are the energy applications proposed by CLINTEL being part of this vision. The present nuclear technology works with enriched uranium. Breeder reactors on uranium and thorium will in the long run take over the role of these traditional nuclear reactors. Hopefully, nuclear fusion will follow. The Netherlands will, together with other countries, have to participate in research and development efforts, thus acknowledging the importance of a 100% clean, reliable and affordable global energy supply for the foreseeable future. 

Footnote:  US Republicans Get Behind a Six-Point Plan

ClearPath Action

♦  Leverage American Innovation

Innovation and creating jobs is just part of who we are. And thanks to innovation, America has reduced its emissions by more than any other country in the last 20 years. We did this through new American technology, research at the Department of Energy, and strong bipartisan support.

We need to double down and get more American innovations to market.

♦  Modernize Permitting

We need to build cleaner, faster. Clean energy and grid modernization present tremendous economic opportunities, but burdensome and outdated regulations mean that new projects take five years on average to come online.

We have to move faster by enacting common sense reforms to the permitting process.

♦  Bring American Industry Back

American manufacturing is the cleanest in the world with the highest environmental standards. Unfortunately, countries like China and Russia don’t have the same standards.

We can restore American manufacturing leadership in industries like steel and concrete by strengthening our own supply chains and eliminating dependence from countries that don’t meet our environmental standards.

♦  Unleash American Resource Independence

A new industrial revolution is going to require an enormous amount of resources like lithium, copper, cobalt, graphite, and nickel. Currently, we are too dependent on countries like China to supply our needs.

This dependence increases emissions and handicaps American businesses. We have to make it easier to safely supply manufacturers with American-made materials and employ American workers.

♦  Make Our Communities More Resilient

As conservatives, we plan ahead. When it comes to natural disasters, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One dollar invested now equals six dollars after the disaster.

We can help take common sense measures and make sound investments that make our communities and farms more resistant to natural disasters like floods, fires and droughts.

♦  Use Natural Solutions

Crop production depends on access to healthy soil, adequate water supplies and predictable weather conditions, all of which are more difficult to manage as the climate changes.

Natural climate solutions – planting trees and farming practices that improve soil health – have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions while making forests and farms more resilient to floods and fires. They are also profitable.

How to FLICC Off Climate Alarms

John Ridgway has provided an excellent framework for skeptics to examine and respond to claims from believers in global warming/climate change.  His essay at Climate Scepticism is Deconstructing Scepticism: The True FLICC.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added comments.

Overview

I have modified slightly the FLICC components to serve as a list of actions making up a skeptical approach to an alarmist claim.  IOW this is a checklist for applying critical intelligence to alarmist discourse in the public arena. The Summary can be stated thusly:

♦  Follow the Data
Find and follow the data and facts to where they lead

♦  Look for full risk profile
Look for a complete assessment of risks and costs from proposed policies

♦  Interrogate causal claims
Inquire into claimed cause-effect relationships

♦  Compile contrary explanations
Construct an organized view of contradictory evidence to the theory

♦  Confront cultural bias
Challenge attempts to promote consensus story with flimsy coincidence

A Case In Point

John Ridgway illustrates how this method works in a comment:

No sooner have I’ve pressed the publish button, and the BBC comes out with the perfect example of what I have been writing about:  Climate change: Rising sea levels threaten 200,000 England properties

It tells of a group of experts theorizing that 200,000 coastal properties are soon to be lost due to climate change. Indeed, it “is already happening” as far as Happisburg on the Norfolk coast is concerned. Coastal erosion is indeed a problem there.

But did the experts take into account that the data shows no acceleration of erosion over the last 2000 years? No.

Have they acknowledge the fact that erosion on the East coast is a legacy of glaciation? No.

[For the US example of this claim, see my post Sea Level Scare Machine]

The FLICC Framework

Below is Ridgway’s text regarding this thought process, followed by a synopsis of his discussion of the five elements. Text is in italics with my bolds.

As part of the anthropogenic climate change debate, and when discussing the proposed plans for transition to Net Zero, efforts have been made to analyse the thinking that underpins the typical sceptic’s position. These analyses have universally presupposed that such scepticism stubbornly persists in the face of overwhelming evidence, as reflected in the widespread use of the term ‘denier’. Consequently, they are based upon taxonomies of flawed reasoning and methods of deception and misinformation.1 

However, by taking such a prejudicial approach, the analyses have invariably failed to acknowledge the ideological, philosophical and psychological bases for sceptical thinking. The following taxonomy redresses that failing and, as a result, offers a more pertinent analysis that avoids the worst excesses of opinionated philippic. The taxonomy identifies a basic set of ideologies and attitudes that feature prominently in the typical climate change sceptic’s case. For my taxonomy I have chosen the acronym FLICC:2

  • Follow data but distrust judgement and speculation

     i.e. value empirical evidence over theory and conjecture.

  • Look for the full risk profile

      i.e. when considering the management of risks and uncertainties, demand that those associated        with mitigating and preventative measures are also taken into account.

  • Interrogate causal arguments

      i.e. demand that both necessity and sufficiency form the basis of a causal analysis.

  • Contrariness

      i.e. distrust consensus as an indicator of epistemological value.

  • Cultural awareness

       i.e. never underestimate the extent to which a society can fabricate a truth for its own purposes.

All of the above have a long and legitimate history outside the field of climate science. The suggestion that they are not being applied in good faith by climate change sceptics falls beyond the remit of taxonomical analysis and strays into the territory of propaganda and ad hominem.

The five ideologies and attitudes of climate change scepticism introduced above are now discussed in greater detail.

Following the data

Above all else, the sceptical approach is characterized by a reluctance to draw conclusions from a given body of evidence. When it comes to evidence supporting the idea of a ‘climate crisis’, such reluctance is judged by many to be pathological and indicative of motivated reasoning. Cognitive scientists use the term ‘conservative belief revision’ to refer to an undue reluctance to update beliefs in accordance with a new body of evidence. More precisely, when the individual retains the view that events have a random pattern, thereby downplaying the possibility of a causative factor, the term used is ‘slothful induction’. Either way, the presupposition is that the individual is committing a logical fallacy resulting from cognitive bias.

However, far from being a pathology of thinking, such reluctance has its legitimate foundations in Pyrrhonian philosophy and, when properly understood, it can be seen as an important thinking strategy.3 Conservative belief revision and slothful induction can indeed lead to false conclusions but, more importantly, the error most commonly encountered when making decisions under uncertainty (and the one with the greatest potential for damage) is to downplay unknown and possibly random factors and instead construct a narrative that overstates and prejudges causation. This tendency is central to the human condition and it lies at the heart of our failure to foresee the unexpected – this is the truly important cognitive bias that the sceptic seeks to avoid.

The empirical sceptic is cognisant of evidence and allows the formulation of theories but treats them with considerable caution due to the many ways in which such theories often entail unwarranted presupposition.

The drivers behind this problem are the propensity of the human mind to seek patterns, to construct narratives that hide complexities, to over-emphasise the causative role played by human agents and to under-emphasise the role played by external and possibly random factors. Ultimately, it is a problem regarding the comprehension of uncertainty — we comprehend in a manner that has served us well in evolutionary terms but has left us vulnerable to unprecedented, high consequence events.

It is often said that a true sceptic is one who is prepared to accept the prevailing theory once the evidence is ‘overwhelming’. The climate change sceptic’s reluctance to do so is taken as an indication that he or she is not a true sceptic. However, we see here that true scepticism lies in the willingness to challenge the idea that the evidence is overwhelming – it only seems overwhelming to those who fail to recognise the ‘theorizing disease’ and lack the resolve to resist it. Secondly, there cannot be a climate change sceptic alive who is not painfully aware of the humiliation handed out to those who resist the theorizing.

In practice, the theorizing and the narratives that trouble the empirical sceptic take many forms. It can be seen in:

♦  over-dependence upon mathematical models for which the tuning owes more to art than science.

♦  readiness to treat the output of such models as data resulting from experiment, rather than the hypotheses they are.

♦  lack of regard for ontological uncertainty (i.e. the unknown unknowns which, due to their very nature, the models do not address).

♦  emergence of story-telling as a primary weapon in the armoury of extreme weather event attribution.

♦  willingness to commit trillions of pounds to courses of action that are predicated upon Representative Concentration Pathways and economic models that are the ‘theorizing disease’ writ large.

♦  contributions of the myriad of activists who seek to portray the issues in a narrative form laden with social justice and other ethical considerations.

♦  imaginative but simplistic portrayals of climate change sceptics and their motives; portrayals that are drawing categorical conclusions that cannot possibly be justified given the ‘evidence’ offered. And;

♦  any narrative that turns out to be unfounded when one follows the data.

Climate change may have its basis in science and data, but this basis has long since been overtaken by a plethora of theorizing and causal narrative that sometimes appears to have taken on a life of its own. Is this what settled science is supposed to look like?

Looking for the full risk profile

Almost as fundamental as the sceptic’s resistance to theorizing and narrative is his or her appreciation that the management of anthropogenic warming (particularly the transition to Net Zero) is an undertaking beset with risk and uncertainty. This concern reflects a fundamental principle of risk management: proposed actions to tackle a risk are often in themselves problematic and so a full risk analysis is not complete until it can be confirmed that the net risk will decrease following the actions proposed.7

Firstly, the narrative of existential risk is rejected on the grounds of empirical scepticism (the evidence for an existential threat is not overwhelming, it is underwhelming).

Secondly, even if the narrative is accepted, it has not been reliably demonstrated that the proposal for Net Zero transition is free from existential or extreme risks.

Indeed, given the dominant role played by the ‘theorizing disease’ and how it lies behind our inability to envisage the unprecedented high consequence event, there is every reason to believe that the proposals for Net Zero transition should be equally subject to the precautionary principle. The fact that they are not is indicative of a double standard being applied. The argument seems to run as follows: There is no uncertainty regarding the physical risk posed by climate change, but if there were it would only add to the imperative for action. There is also no uncertainty regarding the transition risk, but if there were it could be ignored because one can only apply the precautionary principle once!

This is precisely the sort of inconsistency one encounters when uncertainties are rationalised away in order to support the favoured narrative.

The upshot of this double standard is that the activists appear to be proceeding with two very different risk management frameworks depending upon whether physical or transition risk is being considered. As a result, risks associated with renewable energy security, the environmental damage associated with proposals to reduce carbon emissions and the potentially catastrophic effects of the inevitable global economic shock are all played down or explained away.

Looking for the full risk profile is a basic of risk management practice. The fact that it is seen as a ploy used only by those wishing to oppose the management of anthropogenic climate change is both odd and worrying. It is indeed important to the sceptic, but it should be important to everyone.

Interrogating causal arguments

For many years we have been told that anthropogenic climate change will make bad things happen. These dire predictions were supposed to galvanize the world into action but that didn’t happen, no doubt partly due to the extent to which such predictions repeatedly failed to come true (as, for example, with the predictions of the disappearance of Arctic sea ice).  .  .This is one good reason for the empirical sceptic to distrust the narrative,8 but an even better one lies in the very concept of causation.

A major purpose of narrative is to reduce complexity so that the ‘truth’ can shine through. This is particularly the case with causal narratives. We all want executive summaries and sound bites such as ‘Y happened because of X’. But very few of us are interested in examining exactly what we mean by such statements – very few except, of course, for the empirical sceptics. In a messy world in which many factors may be at play, the more pertinent questions are:

♦  To what extent was X necessary for Y to happen?
♦  To what extent was X sufficient for Y to happen?

The vast majority of the extreme weather event attribution narrative is focused upon the first question and very little attention is paid to the second; at least not in the many press bulletins issued. Basically, we are told that the event was virtually impossible without climate change, but very little is said regarding whether climate change on its own was enough.

This problem of oversimplification is even more worrying once one starts to examine consequential damages whilst failing to take into account man-made failings such as those that exacerbate the impacts of floods and forest fires.9   The oversimplification of causal narrative is not restricted to weather-related events, of course. Climate change, we are told, is wreaking havoc with the flora and fauna and many species are dying out as a result. However, when such claims are examined more closely,10 it is invariably the case that climate change has been lumped in with a number of other factors that are destroying habitat.

When climate change sceptics point this out they are, of course, accused of cherry-picking. The truth, however, is that their insistence that the extended causal narrative of necessity and sufficiency should be respected is nothing more than the consequence of following the data and looking for the full risk profile.

Contrariness

The climate change debate is all about making decisions under uncertainty, so it is little surprise that gaining consensus is seen as centrally important. Uncertainty is reduced when the evidence is overwhelming and it is tempting to believe that the high level of consensus amongst climate scientists surely points towards there being overwhelming evidence. If one accepts this logic then the sceptic’s refusal to accept the consensus is just another manifestation of his or her denial.

Except, of course, an empirical sceptic would not accept this logic. Consensus does not result from a simple examination of concordant evidence, it is instead the fruit of the tendentious theorizing and simplifying narrative that the empirical sceptic intuitively distrusts. As explained above, there are a number of drivers that cause such theories and narratives to entail unwarranted presupposition, and it is naïve to believe that scientists are immune to such drivers.

However, the fact remains that consensus on beliefs is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for presuming that these beliefs constitute shared knowledge. It is only when a consensus on beliefs is uncoerced, uniquely heterogeneous and large, that a shared knowledge provides the best explanation of a given consensus.11 The notion that a scientific consensus can be trusted because scientists are permanently seeking to challenge accepted views is simplistic at best.

It is actually far from obvious that in climate science the conditions have been met for consensus to be a reliable indicator of shared knowledge.

Contrariness simply comes with the territory of being an empirical sceptic. The evidence of consensus is there to be seen, but the amount of theorizing and narrative required for its genesis, together with the social dimension to consensus generation, are enough for the empirical sceptic to treat the whole matter of consensus with a great deal of caution.

Cultural awareness

There has been a great deal said already regarding the culture wars surrounding issues such as the threat posed by anthropogenic climate change. Most of the concerns are directed at the sceptic, who for reasons never properly explained is deemed to be the instigator of the conflict. However, it is the sceptic who chooses to point out that the value-laden arguments offered by climate activists are best understood as part of a wider cultural movement in which rationality is subordinate to in-group versus outgroup dynamics.

Psychological, ethical and spiritual needs lie at the heart of the development of culture and so the adoption of the climate change phenomenon in service of these needs has to be seen as essentially a cultural power play. The dangers of uncritically accepting the fruits of theorizing and narrative are only the beginning of the empirical sceptic’s concerns. Beyond that is the concern that the direction the debate is taking is not even a matter of empiricism – data analysis has little to offer when so much depends upon whether the phenomenon is subsequently to be described as warming or heating. It is for this reason that much of the sceptic’s attention is directed towards the manner in which the science features in our culture rather than the science itself. Such are our psychological, ethical and spiritual needs, that we must not underestimate the extent to which ostensibly scientific output can be moulded in their service.

Conclusions

Taxonomies of thinking should not be treated too seriously. Whilst I hope that I have offered here a welcome antidote to the diatribe that often masquerades as a scholarly appraisal of climate change scepticism, it remains the case that the form that scepticism takes will be unique to the individual. I could not hope to cover all aspects of climate change scepticism in the limited space available to me, but it remains my belief that there are unifying principles that can be identified.

Central to these is the concept of the empirical sceptic and the need to understand that there are sound reasons to treat theorizing and simplifying narratives with extreme caution. The empirical sceptic resists the temptation to theorize, preferring instead to keep an open mind on the interpretation of the evidence. This is far from being self-serving denialism; it is instead a self-denying servitude to the data.

That said, I cannot believe that there would be any activist who, upon reading this account, would see a reason to modify their opinions regarding the bad faith and irrationality that lies behind scepticism. This, unfortunately, is only to be expected given that such opinions are themselves the result of theorizing and simplifying narrative.

Footnote:

While the above focuses on climate alarmism, there are many other social and political initiatives that are theory-driven, suffering from inadequate attention to analysis by empirical sceptics.  One has only to note corporate and governmental programs based on Critical Race or Gender theories.  In addition, COVID policies in advanced nations ignored the required full risk profiling, as well as overturning decades of epidemiological knowledge in favor of models and experimental gene therapies proposed by Big Pharma.

 

 

Finland’s Self-imposed Climate Lockdown

You’d think that politicians had learned to forego climate virtue-signaling after seeing the lawfare tactics that they will suffer.  And yet, Finland bravely goes where smarter angels fear to tread.  As the Helsinki Times reports New Climate Change Act into force in July.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Climate Change Act lays the foundation for national work on climate change in Finland. The reformed Act sets emission reductions targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050. Now the target of a carbon-neutral Finland by 2035 has for the first time been laid down by law.

The Government submitted the bill for approval on 9 June. The President of the Republic is to approve the Act on 10 June and it will enter into force on 1 July 2022.

“The new Climate Change Act is vital for Finland. The Climate Change Act ensures that ambitious climate work will continue across government terms. The Act shows the world how we can built a carbon-neutral welfare state by 2035. It is also a strong signal for companies that in Finland clean solutions are well worth investing in,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo.

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo at a press event in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA

The Act lays down provisions on the climate change policy plans. The scope of the Act will be extended to also cover emissions from the land use sector, i.e. land use, forestry and agriculture, and it will for the first time include the objective to strengthen carbon sinks.

“Including land use in the Climate Change Act is a significant improvement. We have a lot of opportunities to reduce emissions and strengthen carbon sinks in the land use sector – in forests, construction and agriculture,” Minister Ohisalo says.

The previous Climate Change Act entered into force in 2015, and it set an emission reduction target only for 2050. The new Climate Change Act will include emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 that are based on the recommendations of the Finnish Climate Change Panel, and the target for 2050 will be updated.

The emission reduction targets are -60% by 2030, -80% by 2040 and at least -90% but aiming at -95% by 2050, compared to the levels in 1990.

Finns have lost any room to maneuver, or to walk back ill-advised policies should the future be cooler rather than the warming of which they are so certain.  The lawyers will be all over them to prevent any escape.  To use another metaphor, they are lobsters who put themselves into the pots; there will be no getting out or going free.

 

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