Beware Moving Climate Goalposts

Benjamin Zycher sounds the warning in his Real Clear Energy article Will the Climate Industry Move the Goalposts Again? Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Global temperature was on course to meet the 2-degree target without any emissions cuts.

The international climate alarmist industry comprises a number of special interests. There are the activists, fundamentally anti-human and deeply disingenuous, demanding that billions of the global poor suffer and die in order that the planet be “saved.” There are the “experts” in pursuit of bigger budgets and “research” grants. There are the editors of the peer-reviewed journals, transforming “science” into a propaganda exercise. There are the bureaucrats massively expanding their budgets and powers, the politicians seeking to transfer ever more wealth, and the journalists desperate to produce clickbait even as they remain invincible in their ignorance.

There are the official “environmental” groups whose business model is the use of political, regulatory, and judicial processes to steal other people’s property. There are the foundation officials writing checks in hot pursuit of invitations to the right cocktail parties. There are the Hollywood airheads addicted to thunderous applause on the red carpets. Don’t forget the corporate gasbags myopic, ignorant, incapable of ideological battle, and so naïve as actually to believe that they can placate the environmental Left. There are the international organizations striving toward utopia through ever-greater coercion. And – of course – there are the innumerable useful idiots engaged in virtue-signaling.

Yes, it is a diverse group indeed, but its members share two habits. The first is a common (but not universal) reluctance to confront the evidence on the nonexistent climate problem emergency crisis catastrophe apocalypse. Many scientists and policy scholars have discussed the fundamental inconsistency between the mainstream climate “existential threat” narrative and the actual evidence on climate phenomena. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its 5th (page 12-78) and 6th (page 12-115) assessment reports, is deeply dubious about the various severe effects – the horror stories – often asserted to be looming as impacts of anthropogenic (man-made) warming, particularly over the course of this century, the maximum time horizon that plausibly can be described as foreseeable.

The second is the purported limit on warming asserted to be necessary for global “safety,” a parameter that has been driven almost wholly by the political needs of the climate industry, and virtually not at all by “science.” Put aside the fact that the official “safety” limit shunts aside the distinction between natural and anthropogenic temperature trends; the climate industry simply asserts that all warming is anthropogenic. That is why it has not attempted to explain – for example – the sharp warming that occurred from 1910 to 1945, which could not have been caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG), principally carbon dioxide, which changed only from about 300 ppm to 310 ppm over that period. It is clear that some of the recent warming is anthropogenic, some is natural, and no one knows the respective magnitudes.

Recall from 2009 the official safe limit on warming: 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as decreed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. That limit was repeated endlessly by all of the usual suspects; and the “pre-industrial” base period has been defined, reasonably, as the 1850–1900 time frame, that is, the decades immediately following the end of the little ice age. Can it surprise anyone that some warming would follow that period?

Unfortunately for the climate alarmists, the satellite temperature data are not cooperating with the “science.”

On average the climate models underlying the most recent (6th) IPCC assessment report predict 0.4°C of warming per decade for the period 1979–2019, and 0.5°C of warming per decade for 2019–2050, or, crudely, about 4–5°C of warming over the course of a century. The actual warming record as measured by the satellites for 1979–2019: 0.16°C per decade, or about 1.6°C per century. (The weather balloon measurements are virtually identical.)

Figure 8: Warming in the tropical troposphere according to the CMIP6 models. Trends 1979–2014 (except the rightmost model, which is to 2007), for 20°N–20°S, 300–200 hPa. John Christy (2019)

Accordingly, the actual data have created a massive problem for the climate industry: They suggest strongly that the 2°C “safety” limit will be achieved without any climate change/GHG policies at all. Unless the satellite data can be shown to be wrong – a task essentially impossible – the only option available to rescue the climate industry and its massive funding, perquisites, and powers is a change to the asserted “safety” limit.

Which is precisely what the climate industry has done. As of 2015, the safety limit now is 1.5°C, as the UNFCCC made clear:

“The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.”

Yes, the IPCC, in a deeply dubious study, has moved the goalposts. The supreme silliness of that report is illustrated by its assertion (page 18) that as of 2018, “pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C … show clear emission reductions by 2030.” In other words, we – the developed and the less-developed economies – had better get moving on serious reductions in GHG emissions over the next eight years, and this time we mean it. Note that for 1990–2019, annual global GHG emissions (Table B.1) grew by over 58 percent, and almost 13 percent for 2010–2019.

Let us consider now the latest satellite temperature data through December 2021: Since 1979, the average increase (“anomaly”) in the land/ocean temperature trend has been 0.14°C per decade, or about 1.4°C over the course of a century. Accordingly, the latest data remain inconsistent with the average of the climate models, and in particular continue to suggest that over the course of this century even the new, lower “safety” limit on global temperature increases might be achieved if there occurs a substantial cooling period, a phenomenon that is very far from implausible.

And so the climate alarmists cannot rest: They cannot risk an outcome in which even the new “safety” limit might be achieved without (forced) reductions in international GHG emissions. Because they obviously cannot wait until there is a cooling period, it is wholly reasonable to hypothesize that the “safety” limit will be reduced yet again. How this will be justified politically is far from clear – first the 2°C and then the 1.5°C safety limits received enormous publicity – and deep public skepticism about yet another movement of the goalposts would be a certainty. And so the justifications – the horror stories, the imminent arrival of the apocalypse, the mass die-offs purportedly already in process, the need for immediate capitulation to the demands of the climate industry, the denunciations of dissenters, etc. – will increase exponentially in decibel level, shrillness, and utter irrationality.

The admonitions and hysteria already are becoming ever louder. This reality is illustrated by the recent decision by Google to demonetize the most important science website reporting the monthly satellite temperature data – no, I am not kidding – because of “unreliable and harmful claims.” That is the Google characterization of two scientists – John R. Christy and Roy W. Spencer – and a website that has simply reported the satellite temperature record since 1979! In short, Google now is censoring the actual science in an effort to prop up the climate industry.

In its own way this process will be supremely amusing. But what else can the climate industry do to save the planet, and its own interests, and not necessarily in that order?

Footnote on Carbon Budgeting

People who take to the streets with signs forecasting doom in 11 or 12 years have fallen victim to IPCC 450 and 430 scenarios. For years activists asserted that warming from pre industrial can be contained to 2C if CO2 concentrations peak at 450 ppm. Last year, the SR1.5 lowered the threshold to 430 ppm, thus the shortened timetable for the end of life as we know it.  Fuller explanation at posts I Want You Not to Panic.  and Greta’s Spurious “Carbon Budget”

 

David Stockman: Resist the GreenMageddon, Part 5

 

Double-click on image to enlarge.

This is the fifth and final post of a series to alert readers to a compilation of the scientific and economic case against the claims of IPCC supporters and anti-fossil fuel activists. David Stockman provides the evidence and the arguments against the IPCC policy framework in a series of five essays published at International Man under the title The GreenMageddon and What It Means for You. I have stated the five themes he develops in his essays, along with some excerpts and images to illustrate the main points. Here is the Fifth theme overview and discussion.

5.  GreenMageddon is no hyperbole. It’s is the virtually certain outcome of attempting to purge CO2 emissions from a modern energy system and economy that literally breathes and exhales fossilized carbon.

Indeed, the very idea of converting today’s economy to an alternative energy respiratory system is so far beyond rational possibility as to defy common sense. Yet that is exactly where the COP26 powers that be and their megaphones in the MSM are leading us.

In Truth, Green Energy is Overrated and Supplies Little of the Energy We Use

In the first place, it needs be understood that the climate change advocates essentially lie about how much “green energy” we now use and therefore the scope for energy supply system displacement of fossil fuels which would be required to get to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

For instance, it is commonly claimed that 12% of US primary energy consumption (2020) is accounted for by “renewables”, implying that we are off to a decent start in eliminating the fossil fuel dependency of the system.

Actually, no—not even close. That’s because “renewables” and green energy defined as solar and wind are not remotely the same thing.

According to DOE, the US consumed 11.6 quads (quadrillion BTUs) of renewables in 2020, but 7.3 quads or 63% of that was accounted for by old-style non-fossil fuels including:

  • Hydroelectric: 2.6 quads;
  • Wood: 2.5 quads;
  • Biofuels: 2.0 quads;
  • Geothermal: 0.2 quads

Of course, there is nothing wrong with these non-fossil fuels and in some cases they can be quite efficient. But they are not part of the “green solution” to displace some or all of the 73 quads of fossil fuels consumed in 2020 because most of these sources are tapped out or not desirable to expand.

We have already seen, for instance, that hydroelectric—which was a favorite of the New Deal back in the 1930s—was tapped out long ago. Up to 80% of the long rivers in the US are already damned, and environmentalists haven’t permitted a new major hydroelectric project in decades. In fact, hydro-electric output of 291 billion kWh in 2020 was well below the peak level of 356 billion kWh recorded in 1997 and was even exceeded by the 304 kWh generated way back in 1974.

Nor do we hear the Climate Howlers beating the tom-toms for the original source of modern BTUs— more wood combustion!  Actually, they advocate the opposite: Massive tree-planting as “offsets” to carbon emissions.

Likewise, most of the 2.0 quads attributable to biofuels is accounted for by ethanol produced from fermented corn. Yet any material increase in ethanol consumption—via higher mandated blending with gasolinewould likely wreck most of the IC engines on the highways, while turning the vast food production expanses of Iowa and Nebraska into fuel farms.

Finally, consider the implicit lesson in the small amount of consumption—0.2 quads—attributable to geothermal energy. As it happens, geothermal electricity is about as close to a perfect source of renewable energy as you can get, as one analysts recently noted, but there is a huge catch:

So why isn’t there more of it?

Because there wasn’t much of it to begin with. While renewable energy sources like wind and solar are exploitable to a greater or lesser extent almost everywhere, high-temperature geothermal resources are found only there is a coincidence of high heat flow and favorable hydrology, and…..these coincidences occur only in a few places.

Which Leaves Wind and Solar, Which Leaves a Lot to be Desired

This gets us to the only so-called “renewables” which are actually expandable at scale—-solar and wind. As to the former, it needs be noted that US consumption during 2020 amounted to only 1.2 quads, or less than half of the primary energy supplied by wood (including a small amount of industrial consumption of bio-waste such at pulp mills etc.).

That’s right. After decades of big time subsidies and endless government promotion, solar is still eclipsed by the fuel first used by cavemen!

The problem with wind power, however, is no less prohibitive. In the case of the 3.0 quads of primary energy attributed to wind in 2020, virtually 100% was used by utilities to generate electricity for the grid. Accordingly, only 90% of that wind energy ever makes it to a home, industrial plant or EV auto. The difference is accounted for by BTUs lost in downstream transmission and distribution lines (T&D losses). And when you add the fact that 64% of primary solar consumption was also used by electric utilities and also suffered T&D losses, you get a truly startling fact.

To wit, only 3.4 quads of solar and wind energy actually generated net electrical power to end users in the US economy in 2020.

In turn, that tiny figure represents only 4.9% of the 69.7 quads of net energy from all fuels (after deducting utility system waste from all fuel sources) used by the entire US economy in 2020. Yet even that tiny fraction was an artifact of the massive government subsidies which have been thrown at the two green fuels.

In the case of wind power, for example, there is a Federal subsidy of 2.5 cents per kWh, which happens to represent 69% of the average wholesale price for wind power, plus a 30% investment tax credit for the original installation of wind farm CapEx. Then again, no one charges for the wind—so wind power is massively capital intensive with CapEx representing 70% of lifetime wind power costs, meaning that another 21% of the cost of power is funded by Uncle Sucker.

Green Energy is fraught with obstacles and risks.

Still, the question recurs. How do you get to, say, a 50% replacement of fossil fuels with green energy by 2035, which would be the minimum path to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050—even assuming still more wasteful Joe Biden subsidies than we already have?

In a word, you don’t. That because even a surface investigation takes you smack into the unacknowledged elephant in the green energy room. To wit, the only practical way to deliver wind and solar to the end use sectors of the economy is through massive conversion of green BTUs to electricity and the distribution of them through the leaky power grid.

Needless to say, that process would be fraught with obstacles and risks that the Climate Howlers never even remotely acknowledge. In fact, as we will show below, to convert even 50% of current fossil fuel consumption to wind and solar, would require a near doubling of total primary energy consumption in the utility sector from the 35.7 quads reported for 2020 to nearly 66 quads by 2035.

More crucially, the 10.6% share of utility primary energy or 3.8 quads posted in 2020 for solar and wind would rise to nearly 67% and 44.0 quads by 2035 (see calculations below). That is to say, solar and wind production would have to rise by nearly 12-fold over the next 15 years. And the cost of subsidies to make it happen (including drastically rising retail utility prices to consumers) would be truly staggering

Now, here’s the thing. Given the inherent intermittency and unreliability of solar and wind energy, the electric grid would become dangerously more fragile and subject to brown-outs and blackouts during periods of peak demand and low solar/wind production. That’s because when you take out half or about 11 quads of fossil energy now used by the electric utility industry you are removing baseload capacity which is essentially available 100% of the time, save for scheduled maintenance and very occasional unplanned interruptions.

By contrast, when two-thirds of the grid is powered by solar and wind as we have projected for 2035 under the COP26’s net zero regime, you have fundamentally transformed the nature of the electric power system. There would essentially be no baseload power supply left, meaning that the system would have to be equipped with massive pumped-hydro, compressed air or battery storage facilities to back-fill for no wind or sun days— plus meet time of day and seasonal demand surges, which would get far more severe when nearly the entire economy gets electrified, as further explained below.

The problem, of course, is the production of electrical power so that it can be stored and drawn-down later is inherently inefficient and a BTU waster. That’s especially the case, with pumped storage, the only practical idea for large scale system storage and back-up. Of course, what that solution does is burn a lot of BTUs pumping water uphill to a reservoir—so that the sluice-gates can be opened to regenerate the very same hydroelectric power when needed at a latter date.

Overall, it is estimated that the range of available storage solutions would result in a 10-40% dissipation of the primary green energy supplied to the utility system. So not only would massive costs be incurred to finance power storage, but the loss of BTUs in the storage loading and extraction process would require even more primary green energy capacity to make up for the wasted BTUs!

Thus, if the energy loss owing to storage systems for 32.2 quads of incremental solar and wind conservatively averages 25%, another 8 quads of solar and wind primary capacity would be needed to supply projected 2035 power requirements. That is, by 2035 utility system would need 44 quads of solar and wind or 11.5-times more capacity than its actual green power output in 2020.

For want of doubt, first consider the implications of shifting 50% of fossil fuels used in the transportation sector to solar and wind fueled electrical power production. During 2020, the transportation sector used 24.23 quads of primary energy, of which fossil fuels—petroleum products and natural gas—supplied 22.85 quads or 94% of the total.

It’s also not the half of it. When you switch to EV vehicles and and distribution of 3X more quads of energy through the utility system you are also creating havoc with load management. That’s because travel surges around holidays create peak loads that drastically exceed day-in-and-day-out levels. In the case of air travel, for instance, during a typical year revenue passenger miles in July are equal to nearly 140% of the level for the seasonal low in February.

Just imagine a hot but cloudy and windless July 4th. The normal air-conditioning and commercial demand surge would be over-layed with a huge fleet of EVs on the holiday roads and hitting the charging stations with relentless effect. This year, for instance, an record 47 million travelers hit the road on the July 4th weekend.

Of course, that is not a problem for the existing motor fuel supply system. Average demand is about 9 million b/d, but motor fuel stocks range between 220 and 260 million bbls—plus another estimated rolling inventory of 50 million barrels in the tanks of the nation’s 285 million vehicles. So with upwards of 300 million bbls or 33 days of supply in the system, peak load fluctuations are readily absorbed by the system.

Needless to say, electrical power is another breed of cat.

It can’t be stored as produced. As indicated above, production must always meet instantaneous demand or the grid will collapse. The only solution is to store dispatchable electric power in another form—pumped storage reservoirs or batteries, and that’s damn expensive.

Moreover, unlike the vastly de-centralized motor fuel stocks which are efficiently market-driven, creating a massive system-wide dispatchable surplus on the utility grid for peak EV demands would be a daunting task. After all, you would need about 140 million EVs on US roads versus today’s 1.4 million plug-in EVs to displace 50% of motor fuel demand.

Nor is the transportation sector unique. Currently the industrial sector accounts for 22.1 quads (2020) of primary energy demand, of which 19.7 quads are supplied by fossil fuels. Those fossil fuels supply various combustion equipment, IC engine driven power plants and machinery, as well as feed stocks for chemical processing industries.

The story only gets more complicated when you add-in the residential and commercial sector. For instance, the residential sector is already heavily electrified owing to the electrical powering of lights, air conditioning and household appliances. Consequently, while the household sector has primary energy demand of 6.54 quads, it actually uses 11.53 quads counting the 5 million quads of indirect energy consumption supplied through the electrical utility grid.

That is to say, the single most variable energy demand sector—America’s 130 million housing units—-would become virtually all electric. Fully 9.0 quads out of total residential energy demand of 12.0 quads (including current electrical power use) of consumption would be supplied by the electrical grid by 2035.

Would that fact create an even more egregious disconnect between unreliable solar and wind power on the fuel side of the electrical grid and variable demand on the user side?

Most surely it would. And that’s especially true when you add in the last two elements of the supply-demand picture. To wit, the commercial sector is growing at about 0.6% per annum, so by 2035 total primary use would be 5.3 quads and the incremental wind and solar requirement to replace half of current fossil fuels, which currently account for 88% of primary energy demand in the sector, would total 2.9 quads.

Finally, the baseline demand for primary energy in the utility sector itself is about 37.0 quads (2019) and it has not been growing for years. So on a 2035 projection, current fossil and non-fossil sources of utility energy would be as follows before giving account to the displacement shifts estimated above in the four end-use sectors of the economy. And this optimistically assumes no loss of nuclear or hydro capacity in the interim.

On an all-in basis, therefore, the implicit transformation of the utility sector would be staggering, and that would only get you half-way to zero net carbon by 2050. Here is the summary of what would be required in terms of total solar and wind capacity in the utility sector by 2035:

  • Current solar & wind: 3.8 quads;
  • transportation sector replacement: +8.5 quads;
  • residential sector replacement: +3.9 quads;
  • industrial sector replacement: +12.9 quads;
  • commercial sector replacement: +2.9 quads;
  • utility sector replacement: +4.0 quads;
  • back-up storage: +8.0 quads;
  • Total Solar & Wind, 2035: 44.0 quads;
  • Multiple of 2020 level: 11.6X

It goes without saying that the above is an economic train-wreck waiting to happen. You simply don’t go from 3.8 quads of solar and wind after decades of tepid gains to 44.0 quads in less than 15 years. Plain and simply, such a shift would take the US hostage to a centralized utility grid based energy respiratory system that would be dangerously unstable, imbalanced and subject to catastrophic black swan type events.

Summary

No electricity is stored in a grid; supply must match demand at all times, or it must shut down to save itself.  Climatists want to electrify everything, especially heating and cars, thereby spiking and complicating demand. Meanwhile the plan is to increase intermittent and remote wind and solar plants, making supply unpredictable. Get ready to be stuck at home, freezing in the dark. That’s GreenMageddon.

Footnote

The diagram at the top indicates many dimensions of modern life that are not discussed in this series of posts.  The short video below reminds that fossil fuels yield a plethora of ancillary byproducts that enhance and extend our lives; which will also be taken away by the Green agenda.

 

 

 

 

David Stockman: Resist the GreenMageddon, Part 4

This post is the fourth of five to alert readers to a compilation of the scientific and economic case against the claims of IPCC supporters and anti-fossil fuel activists. David Stockman provides the evidence and the arguments against the IPCC policy framework in a series of five essays published at International Man under the title The GreenMageddon and What It Means for You. I will state the five themes he develops in his essays, along with some excerpts and images to illustrate the main points. Here is the fourth theme overview and discussion.

4. Zero Carbon is suicidal because it requires cutting off essential energy supplies with nothing to replace them. Renewables can not keep pace with increasing electrical demand, let alone replace any baseload thermal power plants with wind or solar generation. Nor will hydro or nuclear power cover the losses from shuttering thermal power plants.

Overview

The chart below dramatically underscores why the CO2 witch-hunt is such a deadly threat to future prosperity and human welfare. To wit, even after decades of green energy promotion and huge subsidies from the state, renewables accounted for only 5% of primary global energy consumption in 2019 because:

  • They are still very un-competitve (high cost) relative to the installed base of fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric energy; and,
  • They do not really even account for the 5% share reflected in the chart in terms of ability to delivery work to the economy owing to intermittency of wind and solar power and the fact that by convention government scorekeepers gross-up renewables-based electrical power delivered to end-users to account for transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in the electric power grid.

By contrast, the 84% share attributed to oil, natural gas and coal is actually far larger in practical terms as we look into the future. That’s because most of the prime hydro sources have been tapped out long ago and are therefore not a meaningful source of growth. During the last 10 years, for example, US hydro-power output has only increased from 275 billion KWh to 288 billion KWh or by barely 0.24% per annum.

Likewise, nuclear power capacity outside of China stopped growing decades ago due to massive political and regulatory resistance. Germany, for example, is in the process of closing its last nuclear plants from a fleet that once generated 170,000 GW hours annually (2000) and is now generating only 75,000 GW hours, with a zero target by the year 2030. Even in the US, nuclear power remains dead in the water, with annual output rising from 754 billion KWh in 2000 to just 809 billion KWh in 2019.

Beyond that, the Climate Howlers are not talking about a gradual substitution of solar and wind for the three fossil based sources of primary energy as existing plants reach the end of their useful lives over the next 50 years.

To the contrary, zero net CO2 emissions targets for 2050 will require the massive early retirement and dismantlement of perfectly good power plants and tens of millions of internal combustion (IC) engine vehicles.

Closing Functional Power Plants is a Double Loss

The prospect of substituting green power for existing fossil fuel capacity over the next several decades is where the rubber meets the road. But to grasp the full extent of the impending calamity it is necessary to recall that Keynesian GDP accounting inherently obfuscates the true economic cost in a drastically downward direction.

In fact, Keynesian GDP accounting is just the modern iteration of Frederic Bastiat’s famous “broken window fallacy”. Gross capital spending gets added to the total of GDP with no offset for depreciation and asset write-offs. That’s why, we suppose, climate change activists get all giddy about the alleged economic growth benefits and job gains from green investment: They just don’t count all the assets wasted and jobs lost by shutting down efficient coal mines or fossil-fired utility plants.

Nor are we talking about small amounts. To come even close to the utterly ridiculous COP26 target of net zero emissions by 2050 literally tens of trillions worth of fossil-fired power plants, heating units, chemical processing plants and internal combustion engine vehicles would have to be decommissioned and taken out of service long before their ordinary useful economic lives had been reached.

Fossil fuel consumption in the electric power utility sector—the only sector where green energy has even made a dent—-has hardly declined at all.

What happened, instead, is that between 2000 and 2019, US coal and oil-fired generation dropped from 2,090 billion KWhs to 1,004 billion KWhs or by 52%, but that was nearly off-set by a huge jump in natural gas-fired generation. Specifically, natural gas fired output of 601 billion KWhs in 2000 rose to 1,586 billion KWhs by 2019, a gain of 164%.  Accordingly, the needle on overall fossil-based generation hardly moved, dropping from 2,691 billion KWhs in 2000 to 2,590 billion KWhs in 2019.

So the question recurs, how in the world do these lame-brains expect to get to zero CO2 emissions from the utility sector when over the last 19-years, the rate of fossil-fired production has declined by a trivial –0.20% per annum.

Moreover, as we suggested above regarding the global balances, there is no reason whatsoever to expect any material displacement of fossil-based power production by nuclear or hydro. Combined these two sectors produced 1,097 billion KWhs in 2019, but if anything production is likely to fall in the next several decades.

That’s right. In the last quarter quarter century there has been a grand total of two nuke plants commissioned. This means quite evidently that the nation’s grand total of 94 operating commercial nuclear reactors at 56 nuclear power plants in 28 states are old as the hills— averaging 25-40 years old and heading for decommissioning in the normal course.

The implication cannot be gainsaid. Unless there is a total political reversal with respect to nuclear power, the 809 billion KWHs generated in 2019, which represented nearly 20% of total utility output, will likely be shrinking from normal retirements faster than new plants can be licensed, built and made operational, a process which typically takes well more than a decade.

How Will Growing Demand for Power Be Met?

Finally, there is the matter of growth. Even at the tepid level of GDP growth during the last decade, and despite continued improvements in the efficiency of electrical power use in the US economy, total power output rose from 3,951 billion KWHs in 2009 to 4,127 billion KWhs in 2019, representing a modest 0.44% per annum growth rate.

Then again, a continuation of that modest growth trend—which would be the minimal gain compatible with a continued slow rise in real GDP—would result in total power output requirements of 4,427 billion KWhs by 2035 or 300 billion KWHs more than current levels.

So here’s the skunk in the woodpile. Total solar and wind-fueled power output in 2019 was just 367 billion KWhs or 8.9% of total utility output. That is, it will require the equivalent of fully 82% of current so-called green power production just to supply projected system growth. And that’s to say nothing of replacing nuclear production that is likely to be falling due to retirements and obsolescence or, more importantly, displacing some of the 2,590 billion KWhs of fossil production still in the nation’s electrical power grid.

Let us re-iterate: Unless a large share of that 2,590 billion KWhs of capacity is shuttered, the idea of zero net CO2 emissions is a pipe dream.

At the same time, it would take trillions of taxpayer subsidies to lift the current 367 billion KWhs of green power production toward even half of power requirements by 2035, which would exceed 2,200 KWhs. And that simply isn’t going to happen in a month of Sundays.

Worse, Power Output and Reliability Requires Over-Sized Renewables Installations

Moreover, that’s not even the half of it. Green power production, and especially wind which accounted for 4X more output than solar in 2019, ( 295 billion KWhs versus 72 billion KWhs) is highly intermittent based on seasonal patterns and daily wind strength. Nationally, wind plant performance tends to be highest during the spring and lowest during the mid-to late summer, while performance during the winter (November through February) is around the annual median. However, this pattern can vary considerably across regions, mostly based on local atmospheric and geographic conditions.

In a word, to get the same output and reliability as gas or coal-fired base-load plants, green power plants need to be drastically oversized both in terms of maximum output capacity and back-up storage units. As shown below, for most regions of the country, median monthly wind capacity factors range between just 25% and 35%.

Needless to say, low capacity factors mean high all-in costs for electrical energy delivered to the grid. Analysts use a concept to capture this called LCOE (levelized cost of energy), which is the present value of total cost over the lifetime of a plant divided by the cumulative amount of electricity generated over the lifetime.

Accordingly, the cost of funding power output growth plus displacement of substantial amounts of fossil fired production would be staggering. Recent detailed study by the Institute for Energy Research show the LCOE calculations for the range of fuels sources:

LCOE Per Megawatt Hour Of Capacity:

  • Combined cycle natural gas: $36;
  • Nuclear: $33;
  • Hydro: $38;
  • Coal: $41;
  • Onshore wind: $85;
  • Solar PV: $89;
  • Offshore Wind: $132.

These differentials between conventional and green sources of power generation are clearly staggering and contradict the constant propaganda from the Climate Howlers, who falsely claim that solar and wind are cheaper than existing power sources.

But as we will amplify in the final installment (Part 5), the actual scenario is far more forbidding than even these all-in cost differentials would suggest. That’s because the second part of the green agenda is to convert the nation’s efficient fleet of 285 million IC engine vehicles to electric battery power and 70 million natural gas and oil heated homes to green electricity, among others.

What that will do, of course, is make peak power demand swings on the grid far more extreme—even violent—just as the reliability of a green-powered utility sector falls sharply.

GreenMageddon is exactly where we are heading.

David Stockman: Resist the GreenMageddon, Part 3

This post is the third of five to alert readers to a compilation of the scientific case against the claims of IPCC supporters and anti-fossil fuel activists. David Stockman provides the evidence and the arguments against the IPCC policy framework in a series of five essays published at International Man under the title The GreenMageddon and What It Means for You. I will state the five themes he develops in his essays, along with some excerpts and images to illustrate the main points. Here is an overview followed by the third theme.

Overview

The geological and paleontological evidence overwhelmingly says that today’s average global temperature of about 15 degrees C and CO2 concentrations of 420 ppm are nothing to fret about. Even if they rise to about 17–18 degrees C and 500–600 ppm by the end of the century, it may well balance or improve the lot of mankind.

After all, bursts of civilization during the last 10,000 years uniformly occurred during the red portions of the graph below. The aforementioned river civilizations—the Minoan, the Greco-Roman era, the Medieval flowering, and the industrial and technological revolutions of the present era. At the same time, the several lapses into the dark ages happened when the climate turned colder (blue).

And that’s only logical. When it’s warmer and wetter, growing seasons are longer, and crop yields are better—regardless of the agricultural technology and practices of the moment. And it’s better for human and community health, too—most of the deadly plagues of history have occurred in colder climates, such as the Black Death of 1344–1350..

Yet, the Climate Crisis Narrative employs two deceptive devices which are contradicted by earth’s climate history:

a. Planetary temperatures have been far higher than today, both long ago (over 600 million years) and recently (last 10,000 years) with no doomsday loop occurring.

b.It is claimed global warming is a one-way street from rising GHGs, when in fact higher CO2 concentrations are a consequence and by-product, not a driver and cause, of the current naturally rising temperatures.

Again, the now “canceled” history of the planet knocks the CO2-driver proposition into a cocked hat. During the Cretaceous Period between 145 and 66 million years ago, a natural experiment provided complete absolution for the vilified CO2 molecule. During that period, global temperatures rose dramatically from 17 degrees C to 25 degrees C—a level far above anything today’s Climate Howlers have ever projected.

Alas, CO2 wasn’t the culprit. According to science, ambient CO2 concentrations actually tumbled during that 80-million-year expanse, dropping from 2,000 ppm to 900 ppm on the eve of the Extinction Event 66 million years ago.

3. Climatists weaponize natural events to gain social control for a global agenda. It’s About Power, Not Truth or Humanity.

You would think that this powerful countervailing fact would give the CO2 witch-hunters pause, but that would be to ignore what the whole climate change brouhaha is actually about. That is, it’s not about science, human health and well-being or the survival of planet Earth; it’s about politics and the ceaseless search of the political class and the apparatchiks and racketeers who inhabit the beltway for still another excuse to aggrandize state power.

Indeed, the climate change narrative is the kind of ritualized policy mantra that is concocted over and over again by the political class and the permanent nomenklatura of the modern state—professors, think-tankers, lobbyists, career apparatchiks, officialdom—in order to gather and exercise state power.

The Obvious Exploitation of Natural Events

Indeed, fabrication of false problems and threats that purportedly can only be solved by heavy-handed state intervention has become the modus operandi of a political class that has usurped near-complete control of modern democracy.

In doing so, however, the ruling elites have gotten so used to such unimpeded success that they have become sloppy, superficial, careless and dishonest. For instance, the minute we get a summer heatwave, these natural weather events are jammed into the global warming mantra with nary a second thought by the lip-syncing journalists of the MSM.

Heatwaves

Yet there is absolutely no scientific basis for all this tom-tom beating. In fact, NOAA publishes a heatwave index based on extended temperature spikes, which last more than 4 days and which would be expected to occur once every 10 years based on the historical data.

As is evident from the chart below, the only true heatwave spikes we have had in the last 125 years were during the dust bowl heat waves of the 1930s. The frequency of mini-heatwave spikes since 1960 is actually no greater than it was from 1895 to 1935.

Hurricanes

Likewise, all it takes is a good Cat 2 hurricane and they are off to the races, gumming loudly about AGW. Of course, this ignores entirely NOAA’s own data as summarized in what is known as the ACE (accumulated cyclone energy) index.

This index was first developed by renowned hurricane expert and Colorado State University professor William Gray. It uses a calculation of a tropical cyclone’s maximum sustained winds every six hours. The latter is then multiplied by itself to get the index value and accumulated for all storms for all regions to get an index value for the year as shown below for the past 170 years (the blue line is the seven-year rolling average).

That is to say, hundreds of billions of dollars of insurance coverage were then and still is being written with ACE as a crucial input. Yet, if you examine the 7-year rolling average (blue line) in the chart, it is evident that ACE was as high or higher in the 1950s and 1960s as it is today and that the same was true of the late 1930s and the 1880–1900 periods. [See also Bill Gray: H20 is Climate Control Knob, not CO2]

If global warming were generating more hurricanes as the MSM constantly maintains, the increase would be uniform across all of these subregions, but it’s clearly not. Since the year 2000, for example,

  • the Eastern Caribbean has had a modest increase in both tropical storms and higher-rated Cats relative to most of the past 170 years;
  • the Western Caribbean has not been unusual at all, and, in fact, has been well below the counts during the 1880–1920 period; and
  • the Bahamas/Turks & Caicos region, since 2000, has actually been well weaker than during 1930–1960 and 1880–1900

The actual truth of the matter is that Atlantic hurricane activity is generated by atmospheric and ocean temperature conditions in the eastern Atlantic and North Africa. Those forces, in turn, are heavily influenced by the presence of an El Niño or La Niña in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño events increase the wind shear over the Atlantic, producing a less-favorable environment for hurricane formation and decreasing tropical storm activity in the Atlantic basin. Conversely, La Niña causes an increase in hurricane activity due to a decrease in wind shear.

These Pacific Ocean events, of course, have never been correlated with the low level of natural global warming now underway.

The number and strength of Atlantic hurricanes may also undergo a 50- to 70-year cycle known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Again, these cycles are unrelated to global warming trends since 1850.

Wildfires

As it happens, the same story is true with respect to wildfires—the third category of natural disasters that the Climate Howlers have glommed onto. But in this case, it’s bad forestry management, not man-made global warming, which has turned much of California into a dry wood fuel dump.

But don’t take our word for it. This comes from the George Soros-funded Pro Publica, which is not exactly a right-wing tin foil hat outfit. It points out that environmentalists had shackled federal and state forest management agencies so much so that today’s tiny “controlled burns” are but an infinitesimal fraction of what Mother Nature herself accomplished before the helping hand of today’s purportedly enlightened political authorities arrived on the scene.

“Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. The state passed a few new laws in 2018 designed to facilitate more intentional burning. But few are optimistic this, alone, will lead to significant change.

We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres—an area about the size of Maine—to restabilize in terms of fire.”

Among other proofs that industrialization and fossil fuels aren’t the culprit is the fact that researchers had shown that when California was occupied by indigenous communities, wildfires would burn up some 4.5 million acres a year. That’s nearly six times the 2010–2019 period, when wildfires burned an average of just 775,000 acres annually in California.

Beyond the untoward clash of all of these natural forces of climate and ecology with misguided government forest and shrubland husbandry policies, there is actually an even more dispositive smoking gun, as it were.

To wit, the Climate Howlers have not yet embraced the apparent absurdity that the planet’s purportedly rising temperatures have targeted the Blue State of California for special punishment. Yet when we look at the year-to-date data for forest fires, we find that unlike California and Oregon, the US as a whole is now experiencing the weakest fire years since 2010.

You just can’t go from 2.7 million burned acres in 2010 to 7.2 million acres in 2012, then back to 2.7 million acres in 2014, then to 6.7 million acres in 2017, followed by just 3.7 million acres in 2020—and still argue along with the Climate Howlers that the planet is angry.

National fire data year to date:

On the contrary, the only real trend evident is that on a decadal basis during recent times, average forest fire acreage in California has been slowly rising, owing to the above-described dismal failure of government forest management policies. But even the mildly rising average fire acreage trend since 1950 is a rounding error compared to the annual averages from prehistoric times, which were nearly 6 times greater than during the most recent decade.

Nor is this lack of correlation with global warming just a California and US phenomenon. As shown in the chart below, the global extent of drought, measured by five levels of severity, with brown being the most extreme, has shown no worsening trend at all during the past 40 years.

Global Extent of Five Levels Of Drought, 1982–2012

Public Discourse Contaminated by Imaginary Climate Crisis Notion

This brings us to the gravamen of the case. To wit, there is no climate crisis whatsoever, but the AGW hoax has so thoroughly contaminated the mainstream narrative and the policy apparatus in Washington and capitals all around the world that contemporary society is fixing to commit economic hari-kari.

That’s because, contrary to the phony case that the rise of fossil fuel use after 1850 has caused the planetary climate system to become unglued, there has been a massive acceleration of global economic growth and human well-being. One essential element behind that salutary development has been the massive increase in the use of cheap fossil fuels to power economic life.

The chart below could not be more dispositive. During the pre-industrial era between 1500 and 1870, real global GDP crawled along at just 0.41% per annum. By contrast, during the past 150 years of the fossil fuel age, global GDP growth accelerated to 2.82% per annum–or nearly 7 times faster.

This higher growth, of course, in part resulted from a larger and far healthier global population made possible by rising living standards. Yet, it wasn’t human muscle alone that caused the GDP level to go parabolic, as per the chart below.

It was also due to the fantastic mobilization of intellectual capital and technology. One of the most important vectors of the latter was the ingenuity of the fossil fuel industry in unlocking the massive trove of stored work that Mother Nature extracted, condensed, and salted away from the incoming solar energy over the long warmer and wetter eons of the past 600 million years.

Yes, that dramatic rise in prosperity in generating fossil fuel consumption has given rise to a commensurate increase in CO2 emissions. But contrary to the Climate Change Narrative, CO2 is not a pollutant!

As we have seen, the correlated increase in CO2 concentrations—from about 290 ppm to 415 ppm since 1850—amounts to a rounding error in both the long-trend of history and in terms of atmospheric loadings from natural sources.

As to the former, concentrations of less than 500 ppm are only recent developments of the last ice age, while during prior geologic ages concentrations reached as high as 2400 ppm.

Likewise, the oceans contain an estimated 37,400 billion tons of suspended carbon, land biomass has 2,000-3,000 billion tons and the atmosphere contains 720 billion tons of CO2. The latter alone is more than 20X current fossil emissions (35 billion tons) shown below.

Of course, the opposite side of the equation is that oceans, land and atmosphere absorb CO2 continuously so the incremental loadings from human sources is very small. That also means that even a small shift in the balance between oceans and air would cause a much more severe rise/fall in CO2 concentrations than anything attributable to human activity.

But since the Climate Howlers falsely imply that the “pre-industrial” level of 290 parts per million was extant since, well, the Big Bang and that the modest rise since 1850 is a one-way ticket to boiling the planet alive, they obsess over the “sources versus sinks” balance in the carbon cycle for no valid reason whatsoever.

 

David Stockman: Resist the GreenMageddon, part 2

This post is the second of five to alert readers to a compilation of the scientific case against the claims of IPCC supporters and anti-fossil fuel activists. David Stockman provides the evidence and the arguments against the IPCC policy framework in a series of five essays published at International Man under the title The GreenMageddon and What It Means for You. I will state the five themes he develops in his essays, along with some excerpts and images to illustrate the main points. Here is an overview followed by the second theme.

Overview

The assembled governments of the world meeting in Glasgow for COP26 are fixing to declare war on the backbone of modern economic life and the abundance and relief from human poverty and suffering with which it has gifted the world. We are referring, of course, to its agenda to essentially drive fossil fuels—which currently make up 80% of BTU consumption—from the global energy supply system over the next several decades.

All of this is being done in the name of preventing global temperatures from rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius above “pre-industrial” levels.

But when it comes to the crucial matter of exactly which pre-industrial baseline level, you can see the skunk sitting on the woodpile a mile away. That’s because, as we showed in Part 1, global temperatures have been higher than the present—often by upward of 10–15 degrees Celsius—for most of the past 600 million years!

2.  During our Holocene epoch, for the past 11.6 thousand years, earth’s climate has changed often with multiple periods, both warmer and and cooler than the present. The modern warming period since 1850 was preceded by the Medieval, the Roman, and the Minoan warming periods–each was cooler than the previous, and all of them warmer than the present. The last 1.5C of warming has been a boon to human agriculture and civilization, and the next 1.5C is likely to also be beneficial.

Moreover, during the more recent era since the great extinction event 66 million years ago, the decline in temperatures has been almost continuous, touching lower than current levels only during the 100,000-year glaciation cycles of the last 2.6 million years of the Pleistocene ice ages. Not unsurprisingly, therefore, the Climate Howlers have chosen to ignore 599,830,000 of those years in favor of the last 170 years (since 1850) alone.

Still, the juxtaposition of the temperature record of the last 66 million years and the sawed-off charts of the climate alarmists tells you all you need to know: to wit, they have simply banished all the “inconvenient” science from the narrative.

Global Average Temperature Trend, 1850–2018 per the Global Warming Narrative

Needless to say, there is a reason why they start the graphs in 1850, and it is not just because it was the tail-end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), from which low point the temperature trend might well climb upwards for a time as climatic conditions normalized.

Actually, the intellectual deception is far more egregious. To wit, the Climate Howlers want you to believe the absolutely anti-scientific notion that the global climate was in general equipoise until the coal barons and the John D. Rockefeller’s of the mid-19th century set off a dangerous chain of climate dysfunction as they brought the stored solar energy embedded in coal and petroleum to the surface and released its combustion by-products–especially CO2—into the ambient air.

The Risible Myth Of Climate Equipoise

The global warming narrative is the most risible manifestation yet of this leap into self-righteous disregard for evidence, logic, and plausibility. For when you step back from the shrill, sanctimonious narrative that passes for the global warming catechism, the ridiculousness of its central claim that industrial society is destroying the climatic equipoise of the planet is self-evident.

For crying out loud, there has never been equipoise!

What there’s been is 4.5 billion years of wildly oscillating and often violent geologic evolution and climate disequilibrium owing to manifold natural causes, including:

  • plate tectonics that has sometimes violently impacted climate systems, especially the assembly and breakup of Pangaea between 335 million and 175 million years ago, and the continuous drift of the present-day continents thereafter;
  • asteroid bombardments;
  • the 100,000-year cycles of the Earth’s orbital eccentricity (it gets colder when it’s at maximum elongation);
  • the 41,000-year cycles of the Earth’s tilt on its axis, which oscillates between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees and thereby impacts the level of solar intake;
  • the wobble or precession of the earth’s rotation which impacts climate over the course of its 26,000 year cycles;
  • the recent 150,000 year glaciation and inter-glacial warming cycles;
  • the 1500 year sunspot cycles, where earth temperatures fall during solar minimums like the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715 at the extreme of the LIA when sunspot activity virtually ceased.

The natural climate change now underway is, therefore, the product of powerful planetary forces that long predated the industrial age and which massively exceed the impact of industrial era emissions. As we indicated in Part 1, that the present conflation of these forces has resulted in a warming cycle is nothing new—warming has happened repeatedly even in modern times.  Contrary to the false claims of the Climate Howlers,

Current mildly rising temperatures are in keeping with the historical truth that warmer is better for humanity and most other species, too.

Continued planetary equipoise requires no interventions whatsoever by the state to retard the use of prosperity-fostering fossil fuels or to subsidize and accelerate the adoption of high-cost renewable energy.

So the question recurs. What “pre-industrial” temperature baseline can be picked out of all these eras and all these climate change forces that would be anything but an arbitrary political, not science-based, choice?

After all, the science is agnostic. Mother Earth has weathered every kind of climate disequilibrium at both the colder and warmer ends of the spectrum and, crucially, experienced the eventual release of countervailing forces that took both temperature and CO2 levels back in the other direction.

We think the planet’s climatic resilience is especially evident in the fact that, after five major ice ages, warming forces returned with robust energy until they reversed again, thereby proving there is no doomsday loop that leads in linear fashion to inexorable catastrophe as is embedded in the climate models.

As we noted, during the Holocene Optimum, many of the Earth’s great ancient civilizations began and flourished because conditions were especially hospitable for agriculture and the generation of economic surpluses. The Nile River, for instance, had an estimated three times its present volume, indicating a much larger tropical region. In fact, 6,000 years ago, the Sahara was far more fertile than today and supported large herds of animals, as evidenced by the Tassili N’Ajjer frescoes of Algeria.

That is to say, warmer and wetter was far better for mankind than prior bouts of cold.

Indeed, prior to the post-1850 warming, there had been five distinct warming periods (red areas) since the last glaciers with temperatures above current levels. Never, of course, does this chart see the light of day in the mainstream climate change narrative.

Also, during this period, the Vikings established settlements in Iceland and Greenland. Long before the industrial era, Greenland was so warm, wet, and fertile that major colonization occurred after AD 980. At its peak, it included upward of 10,000 settlers, extensive farming, numerous Catholic churches, and a parliament that eventually voted for union with Norway.

Nor was the reversal from the hospitable climate of the Viking era settlements in Greenland merely a regional anomaly has some Climate Howlers have claimed. During the Medieval Warm period, great civilizations flourished in many other areas, which then became uninhabitable.

For instance, a great drought in the American southwest occurred between 1276 and 1299. Grand settlements like those in Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde were abandoned. Tree-ring analysis has identified a period of no rain between 1276 and 1299 in these areas.

Needless to say, these extreme weather perturbations were not caused by industrial activity because there was none, and they occurred during a period when it was getting colder, not warmer!

From 1550 to AD 1850, global temperatures were at their coldest since the beginning of the Holocene 12,000 years ago. Hence the designation of this period as the Little Ice Age (LIA).

Self-evidently, when the LIA finally ended around 1850, global temperatures were at a modern nadir (no wonder the Climate Howlers start their charts in the middle of the 19th century).

Mann’s Attempt to Erase Pre-Industrial Warming

But the significance of this fact goes well beyond cropping the temperature charts at 1850. Actually, in order to erase the above-described oscillations of the modern climate, climate change advocates have actually gone so far as to literally attempt to airbrush them out of existence.

We are referring to what we call the climate “Piltdown Mann,” named for one Michael Mann, a newly minted Ph.D. (1998) who became the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) lead investigator and advocate for what famously became the “hockey stick” proof of global warming.

The latter, of course, was the blatant fraud embedded in the image that Al Gore made famous in his propagandistic movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. Suffice to say, the purpose of the hockey stick was to wipe out all the evidence summarized above.

That is, in lieu of the planet’s long-term and recent severe climate oscillations, the IPCC posited an entirely opposite thesis. Namely, for the pre-industrial millennium before 1900, global temperatures were nearly as flat as a board.

The only problem is that Mann’s graph was as phony as the Piltdown Man itself—the latter famously being confected in England in 1912 and conveniently “discovered” by an amateur anthropologist who claimed it was the missing link in human evolution. At length, it was shown that the fossil was a forgery; it consisted of a modern human cranium and an orangutan jaw with filed-down teeth.

In the case of the graph, Professor Mann and his accomplices at the IPCC doctored the evidence, used misleading data from southwestern US tree rings in lieu of abundant alternative data showing the contrary, and jiggered their computer models to generate pre-specified results.

That is, the models were produced by goal-seeking on the part of Mann and his associates to prove the man-made warming thesis. In essence, this was accomplished by simply pasting modern temperature records showing steady increases on top of a pre-industrial baseline that never happened.

The phony pre-industrial baseline is depicted by the yellow area in the graph for the period 1400–1900. The hockey stick-like eruption of the yellow space after 1900, of course, allegedly depicts the man-made temperature rise since the onset of the hydrocarbon age.

By contrast, the corrected version is in blue. In this version—which comports with the history of climate oscillations cited above—there is no hockey stick because the shaft never happened; it was invented by computer model manipulations, not extracted from the abundant scientific data on which the Mann study was allegedly based.

So the question is answered. The mid-19th century is exactly the wrong baseline from which to measure global temperature change during modern times.

The blue area of the chart, in fact, is the smoking gun that obliterates the whole predicate on which COP26 is being foisted upon the everyday people of the world.

Background:  See Rise and Fall of the Modern Warming Spike

The first graph appeared in the IPCC 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR) credited to H.H.Lamb, first director of CRU-UEA. The second graph was featured in 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) the famous hockey stick credited to M. Mann.

David Stockman: Resist the GreenMageddon, Part 1

This post is the first of five to alert readers to a compilation of the scientific case against the claims of IPCC supporters and anti-fossil fuel activists. David Stockman provides the evidence and the arguments against the IPCC policy framework in a series of five essays published at International Man under the title The GreenMageddon and What It Means for You. I will state the five themes he develops in his essays, along with some excerpts and images to illustrate the main points. Here is an overview followed by the first theme.

Overview

With COP26 now underway, it’s not too soon to start clanging the alarm bells—not about climate catastrophe, of course, but about the stupidest act of the assembled nations since Versailles, when the vindictive WWI victors laid the groundwork for the catastrophes of depression, WWII, the Holocaust, Soviet tyranny, the Cold War and Washington’s destructive global hegemony, all of which followed hard upon the next.

Politicians and their allies in the mainstream media, think tanks, lobbies and Big Business (with its cowardly sleep-walking leaders) are fixing to do nothing less than destroy the prosperity of the world and send global life careening into a modern economic Dark Ages.

And worse still, it’s being done in the service of a bogus climate crisis narrative that is thoroughly anti-science and wholly inconsistent with the actual climate and CO2 history of the planet.

1. During the past 600 million years, the earth has rarely been as cool as at present, and almost never has it had as low CO2 concentrations as the 420 ppm level that today’s climate howlers decry.

In fact, according to the careful reconstructions of actual earth scientists who have studied ocean sediments, ice cores and the like, there have been only two periods encompassing about 75 million years (13% of that immensely long 600 million year stretch of time) where temperatures and CO2 concentrations were as low as it present. These were the Late Carboniferous/Early Permian time from 315 to 270 million years ago and the Quaternary Period, which hosted modern man 2.6 million years ago.  You might say, therefore, that the possibility of a warmer, CO2-richer environment is a case of planetary “been there, done that”.

And it is most certainly not a reason to wantonly dismantle and destroy the intricate, low-cost energy system that is the root source of today’s unprecedented prosperity and human escape from poverty and want.

But that’s hardly the half of it. What actually lies smack in the center of our warmer past is a 220-million-year interval from 250 million years ago through the re-icing of Antarctica about 33 million years ago that was mainly ice-free.

As shown by the blue line in the chart below, during most of that period (highlighted in the brown panels), temperatures were up to 12C higher than at present, and Mother Earth paid no mind to the fact that she lacked polar ice caps or suitable habitats for yet un-evolved polar bears.

Global Temperature And Atmospheric CO2 Over Geologic Time

Moreover, the science behind this isn’t a matter of academic armchair speculation for the simple reason that it has been powerfully validated in the commercial marketplace. That is, trillions of dollars have been deployed in the last century in the search for hydrocarbons, based on immensely complicated petroleum engineering research, theory and geologic models. Oil drillers weren’t throwing darts at a wildcatter’s wall but were coincidentally proving these “facts” of climate history are correct, given that they led to the discovery and extraction of several trillions of BOEs (barrels of oil equivalent).

Consequently, it is solidly estimated by industry experts that today’s petroleum deposits were roughly formed as follows:

    • About 70% during the Mesozoic age (brown panels, 252 to 66 million years ago) which was marked by a tropical climate, with large amounts of plankton in the oceans;
    • 20% was formed in the dryer, colder Cenozoic age (last 65 million years);
    • 10% were formed in the earlier warmer Paleozoic age (541 to 252 million years ago).

Indeed, at the end of the day, petroleum engineering is rooted in climate science because it was climate itself that produced those economically valuable deposits.

And a pretty awesome science it is. After all, billions of dollars have been pushed down the wellbores in up to two miles of ocean waters and 40,000 feet below the surface in what amounts to an amazingly calibrated and targeted search for oil-bearing needles in a geologic haystack.

Yet during the Cretaceous, CO2 levels actually went down while temperatures were rising sharply. That’s the very opposite of the Climate Alarmists’ core claim that it is rising CO2 concentrations which are currently forcing global temperatures higher.

Moreover, we are not talking about a marginal reduction in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Levels actually dropped sharply from about 2,000 ppm to 900 ppm during that 80 million year stretch. This was all good for hydrocarbon formation and today’s endowment of nature’s stored work, but it was also something more.

To wit, it was yet another proof that planetary climate dynamics are far more complicated and ridden with crosscurrents than the simple-minded doom loops now being used to model future climate states from the current far lower temperature and CO2 levels.

It is surely one of the great ironies of our times that today’s fanatical crusades against fossil fuels are being carried out with not even a nod to the geologic history that contradicts the entire “warming” and CO2 concentration hysteria and made present energy consumption levels and efficiencies possible.

That is to say, the big, warm and wet one (the Mesozoic) got us here.

True global warming is not the current and future folly of mankind; it is the historical enabler of present-day economic blessings. Yet, here we are on the eve of COP26, manically focused on reducing emissions to the levels required to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels.

If your brain is not addled by the climate change narrative, the very term rings a resoundingly loud bell. That’s because there have been on the order of 20 distinct “ice ages” and interglacial warming periods during the Pleistocene, the latest of which ended about 18,000 years ago and from which we have been digging out ever since.

In contrast to today’s climate models, Mother Nature clearly did not go off the rails in some kind of linear doomsday loop of ever-increasing temperatures and without any hectoring from Greta, either. Actually, Greenland got all frozen up and thawed several more times thereafter.

Needless to say, the Holocene Optimum 8,000 years ago is not the “preindustrial” baseline from which the Climate Howlers are pointing their phony hockey sticks. In fact, other studies show that, even in the Arctic, it was no picnic time for the polar bears. Among 140 sites across the western Arctic, there is clear evidence for conditions that were warmer than now at 120 sites. At 16 sites for which quantitative estimates have been obtained, local temperatures were on average 1.6 °C higher during the optimum than they are today.

Say what? Isn’t that the same +1.6 degrees C above current levels that the COP26 folks are threatening to turn off the lights of prosperity to prevent?

In any event, what did happen was far more beneficent. To wit, the warmer and wetter Holocene Optimum and its aftermath gave rise to the great river civilizations 5,000 years ago, including the Yellow River in China, the Indus River in the Indian subcontinent, the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile River civilizations among the most notable.

Stated differently, that +1.6 degrees C was reflective of the climate-based catalyzing forces that actually made today’s world possible. From the abundances of the river civilizations, there followed the long march of agriculture and the economic surpluses and abundance that enabled cities, literacy, trade and specialization, advancement of tools and technology and modern industry—the latter being the ultimate human escape from a life based on the back muscles of man and his domesticated animals alone.

As it happens, when one of the previous “preindustrial” warming eras (the Roman Warming) was coming to an end in the late 4th century AD, St. Jerome admonished the faithful “never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Yet that’s exactly what the assembled nations will be doing at COP26.

 

Climate Lobby Crushed Debate

Tim Black writes at Spiked How the climate lobby crushed debate.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Anyone who dissents from stringent climate policies will be branded an enemy of The Science.

COP26 is an extravaganza of ideological conformity. From the 30,000 delegates and heads of state sequestered in the ‘blue zone’ to the NGOs, academics and green businesses exhibiting in the public ‘green zone’, the message is the same. There is nothing to debate anymore. The climate catastrophe is coming. Now is the time for action.

Similar sentiments abound outside COP26, where the protesters are gathered. There the likes of young eco-millenarian Greta Thunberg also claim that the end is nigh, that the time for debate is over. Or as the Swedish teenager herself put it during a protest on Sunday, there’s no need for any more of this ‘blah, blah, blah’.

This is essentially what all those in and around COP26 are saying. That, in effect, there is nothing to debate anymore. And so, over the next few days, Western-led policymakers, angrily cheered on by protesters, will try to decide our futures for the next few decades. They will regulate, restrict and limit. And they will be able to do so without dissent or debate.

How have we got here? How have we ended up at a point where debating climate change has become nigh-on impossible? The answer lies principally in the use and abuse of the authority of science. The standard justification for shutting down those challenging the alarmist climate-change narrative amounts, effectively, to saying ‘the science has spoken’.

This was clear in the run-up to COP26, when Mark Lynas, a long-time environmentalist campaigner and now a visiting fellow at Cornell University, published a widely reported-on study asserting that the scientific consensus that humans are altering the climate is now agreed upon by 99.9 per cent of scientists. That’s how certain The Science now is. Not just 97 to 98 per cent certain, as it used to be, but 99.9 per cent certain. ‘It is really case closed’, said Lynas. ‘There is nobody of significance in the scientific community who doubts human-caused climate change.’

‘Case closed.’ No ‘doubts’ and no appeal. These are revealing words. Climate change has long since ceased to be an issue to be addressed, or a set of challenges to be overcome. It is now the revealed truth, the God-like judgement around which we must organise the entirety of societal life. To question this truth is tantamount to apostasy. Hence Lynas calls for any remaining heretics to be censored, urging Facebook and Twitter ‘to look at their algorithms and policies’ to root out ‘climate misinformation’.

Indeed, those daring to question any aspect of the alarmist narrative are now routinely dismissed not as heretics, but as ‘deniers’ – a term which morally equates those who question, say, certain decarbonisation policies with anti-Semites who deny that the Holocaust happened.

Take the experience of statistician and sceptical environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg. Earlier this year he was invited to give a public lecture at Duke University, only to be met by high-profile calls for it to be cancelled from Duke professors and assorted climate activists. Duke held its nerve, and the lecture went ahead, but not without Lomborg being denounced as a ‘professional climate denier’ – and all because he questions the economic wisdom of certain aspects of climate-change policymaking.

Or take the decision of the BBC in 2018 to ban, effectively, any debate over climate change. This decision followed activists’ outcry over its 2014 decision to allow Lord Lawson, a former chancellor of the exchequer and a critic of climate alarmism, to appear on Radio 4’s Today programme. The BBC said it had got its coverage of climate change ‘wrong too often’ and told staff: ‘You do not need a “denier” to balance the debate.’

Now even those who are concerned about climate change, but who ‘downplay’, as the Independent put it, ‘the need for immediate and radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions’, are being accused of denialism. Apparently, ‘delay is the new denial’.

Indeed, influential climate scientist Michael Mann argues that anyone who inhibits the need for drastic action right this very moment, perhaps by talking hopefully of ‘adaptation’, ‘geoengineering’ or ‘carbon capture’, is just a climate denier in optimist’s clothing. ‘The greatest threat’, concludes one politician, ‘is now posed by those who purport to accept the scientific consensus, but refuse to respond at the pace science demands’.

This demented insistence that The Science has spoken, that it has even issued demands, and that all those not bowing down before it are ‘denying’ its truth, rests on a wilful misunderstanding of science and the role it ought to play in political debate.

All scientific claims should be subject to contestation, even those that many people happen to agree on. After all, there is sometimes a fine line between consensus and groupthink. The views of scientists and policymakers would surely be strengthened, not undermined, by rigorous public debate. But even if everyone takes as read that climate change is real and a problem, that is still not the end of the debate.The numerous branches of scientific inquiry that constitute climate science can tell us many things about our changing environment. They can tell us about the complex interaction of sea and air temperatures. They can tell us about the state of biodiversity in our oceans and on our land. They can tell us about mankind’s impact on the climate.

But they can’t tell us what energy policies to pursue. They can’t tell us what transport policies to implement. They can’t, in short, tell us what we ought to do. That is something only we can decide. And to do so we need to be able to challenge and question the alarmist narrative. We need to be allowed to scrutinise those peddling certain approaches to climate change. And we need to be able to do so without being likened to Holocaust deniers, banned from social media or No Platformed by the BBC.

We need, in short, to be free to debate climate change. We need more ‘blah, blah, blah’.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

 

COP Cake is Already Baked

 

Pat Buchanan writes at his blog  Is Failure Baked in the Cake at Glasgow?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds. and added images.

Consider. The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, which burns half of the world’s coal and is building new coal-fired plants even as the 30,000 summiteers gather in Glasgow… Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin will even be present in Glasgow.

“Colossal Stakes as Leaders Meet to Talk Climate,” ran the headline.  They topped the lead news story in Sunday’s New York Times, the opening line of which set the tone for Glasgow: “The future is on the line.”

“As presidents and prime ministers arrive in Glasgow this week for a pivotal climate summit, the outcome will determine, to a large extent, how the world’s seven billion people will survive on a hotter planet and whether far worse levels of warming can be averted …

“Already, the failure to slow rising temperatures — brought on by the burning of oil, gas and coal — has led to deadly floods, fires, heat, and drought around the world.”

The hype is on. And the establishment media are playing their assigned role — portraying a failure at Glasgow as a guarantee of the looming apocalypse.

The theology of the climate crisis runs like this.

The planet has warmed by 1.1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. If warming rises to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above 1900 levels, more and more terrible weather disasters will occur: wildfires, hurricanes of growing severity, droughts, coastal and river flooding, and islands sinking into the sea.

The only way to stave off “climate catastrophe” is for all nations to cut carbon emissions radically now and for the world to reach net zero emissions by midcentury.

A fast phaseout of the major emitters of carbon dioxide — the burning of coal, oil and gas to heat homes, run cars and generate power — and replacement of these fossil fuels with clean energy — solar, wind, nuclear — is a moral and political imperative.

But if such a radical transformation of national economies is the only way to avert the impending crisis, we should brace ourselves and prepare for that crisis. For there is no way the demanded changes in energy consumption are going to be made by 2030.

Consider the Facts on the Ground

The world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide is China, which burns half of the world’s coal and is building new coal-fired plants even as the 30,000 summiteers gather in Glasgow.

China was given a license in the Paris climate accord of 2015 to burn all the coal it wishes until 2030, after which it has agreed to begin reducing carbon emissions. But the idea that China can or will convert in a few decades to wind, solar and nuclear power to run the world’s largest manufacturing plant seems preposterous.

The U.S., the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, gets 81% of its energy from oil, coal and natural gas. We depend on those fuels to heat our homes, run our vehicles and power our industry.

In his Build Back Better bill, Biden inserted a provision that would have imposed annually rising taxes on carbon producers and used the revenue to reward companies that reduced their reliance on fossil fuels.  The proposal had to be pulled out, lest it drag Biden’s entire bill down to defeat. Lest we forget, Sen. Joe Manchin is from West Virginia.

India, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is also, like China, dependent on coal. But, though its population is as large as China’s, India is behind China industrially, and the standard of living of its 1.4 billion people is below that of China.

To demand that India begin to end its burning of coal and rely more on solar and wind is to demand that New Delhi accept a future where India’s standard of living remains lower than that of China.

As for Russia, the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide, it is rich in fossil fuels and the leading supplier of natural gas to Europe. But Moscow manipulates the supplies of its natural gas to its customers for reasons of both revenue and politics.

Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin will even be present in Glasgow.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and other OPEC nations depend for their national income on oil exports. If fossil fuels become forbidden fuels, what is to become of these nations?

Will they accept a future where their primary natural resource is gradually outlawed by the rest of the world? Will they be content to rely on the industrialized world to provide them with windmills and solar panels to power their economies?

The world’s losers from this Glasgow summit are likely to be the billions of people who will never know the benefits of fossil fuels that produced the Industrial Revolution and created the affluent societies of the 20th century.

 

 

Glasgow COP Has Fleet of Teslas To Be Diesel-Charged

Tyler Durden reports at zerohedge  UN Climate Change Conference Reportedly Using Diesel Generators To Charge Teslas Being Used As Shuttles. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

We’re not sure we can think of a better analogue for the lunacy behind the climate change hysteria that what is reportedly going on in Glasgow.

As many people know, the Conference of the Parties (COP) Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, is taking place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

One blogger from Brighton wrote this week that attendees from the conference will be staying at Gleneagles Hotel.

He wrote that there’s 20 Teslas at the hotel to shuttle people back and forth to and from the convention, which is about 75km.

Then, the kicker. Since the hotel only has one Tesla charging station, diesel generators were contracted to help recharge the Teslas overnight.

The stated purpose of the conference is, among other things, “to review the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.”

The climate change conferences now count themselves, according to the UNFCCC’s website, as “among the largest international meetings in the world.”

“The intergovernmental negotiations have likewise become increasingly complex and involve an ever-increasing number of officials from governments all over the world, at all levels, as well as huge numbers of representatives from civil society and the global news media,” the conference’s website says.

Maybe since we’re gathered to talk about the negative effect on the climate, we could at least start by finding a carbon neutral way to shuttle yourself back and forth to the event.

It’s almost like these meetings aren’t really about climate change after all…

 

America’s Future: Market or Jungle?

This post is about the US at a junction, dramatized by the crisis of a flawed federal election.  The change point is also demonstrated by dictatorial behavior of elected officials claiming to protect the citizenry from coronavirus. As explained below, there are in principle two ways of organizing a society:  a market based on free choices by individuals, or a jungle where the powerful decide and the weak conform.  The US was conceived and operated for 2 centuries upon the market paradigm, but is now facing an activist minority seeking to overthrow that model in favor of autocracy in the form of one-party rule.

Many people have heard of Jordan Peterson due to his battles against post modernism and progressive social justice warfare. Bruce Pardy is another outspoken Canadian professor, belonging to the Faculty of Law, Queen’s College, Kingston, Ontario. This post will provide excerpts from several of Pardy’s writings to give readers access to his worldview and its usefulness making sense of current cultural struggles, and the US on the brink of a socio-political revolution.

In 2009 Pardy wrote Climate Change Charades: False Environmental Pretences of Statist Energy Governance
The Abstract:
Climate change is a poor justification for energy statism, which consists of centralized government administration of energy supplies, sources, prices, generating facilities, production and conservation. Statist energy governance produces climate change charades: government actions taken in the name of climate change that bear little relationship to the nature of the problem. Such actions include incremental, unilateral steps to reduce domestic carbon emissions to arbitrary levels, and attempts to choose winners and losers in future technology, using public money to subsidize ineffective investments. These proffered solutions are counter-productive. Governments abdicate their responsibility to govern energy in a manner that is consistent with domestic legal norms and competitive markets, and make the development of environmental solutions less likely rather than more so.

Pardy also spoke out in support of Peterson and against the Canadian government legislation proscribing private speech between individuals. His article in National Post was Meet the new ‘human rights’ — where you are forced by law to use ‘reasonable’ pronouns

Human rights were conceived to liberate. They protected people from an oppressive state. Their purpose was to prevent arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and censorship, by placing restraints on government. The state’s capacity to accommodate these “negative rights” was unlimited, since they required only that people be left alone.

If only arm twisting were prohbited beyond the ring.

But freedom from interference is so 20th century. Modern human rights entitle. We are in the middle of a culture war, and human rights have become a weapon to normalize social justice values and to delegitimize competing beliefs. These rights are applied against other people to limit their liberties.

Freedom of expression is a traditional, negative human right. When the state manages expression, it threatens to control what we think. Forced speech is the most extreme infringement of free speech. It puts words in the mouths of citizens and threatens to punish them if they do not comply. When speech is merely restricted, you can at least keep your thoughts to yourself. Compelled speech makes people say things with which they disagree.

Some senators expressed the view that forcing the use of non-gendered pronouns was reasonable because calling someone by their preferred pronoun is a reasonable thing to do. That position reflects a profound misunderstanding of the role of expression in a free society. The question is not whether required speech is “reasonable” speech. If a statute required people to say “hello,” “please” and “thank you,” that statute would be tyrannical, not because “hello,” “please” and “thank you” aren’t reasonable things to say, but because the state has dictated the content of private conversation.

Traditional negative human rights give people the freedom to portray themselves as they wish without fearing violence or retribution from others. Everyone can exercise such rights without limiting the rights of others. Not so the new human rights. Did you expect to decide your own words and attitudes? If so, human rights are not your friend.

These positions derive from bedrock reasoning by Pardy on the foundations of law and legitimacy. An insight into his thinking is his rebuttal of a critic The Only Legitimate Rule: A Reply to MacLean’s Critique of Ecolawgic Dalhousie Law Journal, Spring 2017

Ecosystem as One model of Society

An ecosystem is not a thing. It does not exist as a concrete entity. “Ecosystem” is a label for the dynamics that result when organisms interact with each other and their environment. Those dynamics occur in infinite variation, but always reflect the same logic: Competition for scarce resources leads to natural selection, where those organisms better adapted to ecosystem conditions survive and reproduce, leading to evolutionary change. All participants are equally subject to their forces; systems do not play favourites.

In ecosystems, the use of the word “autonomy” does not mean legally enforced liberty but the reverse: no externally imposed rules govern behaviour. In ecosystems unmanaged by people, organisms can succeed or fail, live or die, as their genetically determined physiology and behaviour allow. Every life feeds on the death of others, whether animal or plant, and those better adapted to their circumstances survive to reproduce. Organisms can do anything that their genes dictate, and their success or failure is the consequence that fuels evolution.

When an antelope is chased by a lion and plunges into a river to escape, that action allows the antelope to survive and thus to reproduce. The offspring may carry a genetic disposition to run into water when chased by predators. There are no committees of either antelopes or humans deciding how antelopes will behave. Autonomy in ecosystems is not a human creation. It is not based upon human history or culture and is not a human preference.

Market as a Different Model of Society

A market is not a thing either. Nor is it a place. Markets, like ecosystems, do not exist as concrete entities. “Market” is a label for the dynamics that result when people exchange with each other. Bargains may be commercial in nature, where things are bought and sold, but they also occur in other facets of life. For example, in Ecolawgic I suggested that marriage is a kind of exchange that is made when people perceive themselves better off to enter into the bargain than not to.

As I said in Ecolawgic, “Laws and governments can make markets more stable and efficient, such as by enforcing contracts and creating a supply of money, but they create neither the activity of trading nor the market dynamics that the transactions create.”  A market is not a place or a legal structure but the dynamics of a collection of transactions. It does not exist before or independently of the transactions within it. The transactions make the market. Transactions are not created by governments but by the parties who enter into them.

People transact whether they are facilitated by governments or not. The evidence is everywhere. If it were not so, human beings would not have bartered long before there were governments to create money and enforce contracts. During Prohibition, no alcohol would have been produced and sold. Citizens of the Soviet Union would not have exchanged goods. Today there would be no drug trade, no black market and no smuggling. Cigarettes would not be used as currency inside jails. People would not date, hold garage sales or trade hockey cards. There would be no Bitcoin or barter. Try prohibiting people from transacting and see that they will transact anyway. They will do so because they perceive themselves as better off. Sometimes the benefit is concrete and sometimes it is ethereal. The perception of benefit is personal and subjective.

Ecosystems are Coercive, Markets are Voluntary

Ecosystems and markets share many features but they differ in one important respect. Violence plays an important role in ecosystems but is not a part of voluntary market exchange. Ecosystems are arenas for mortal combat. Lions eat antelopes if they can catch them. Nothing prevents taking a dead antelope from a lion except the lion’s response. There are no restrictions on survival strategies, and organisms do not respect the interests, habitats or lives of other organisms.

Markets, in contrast, proceed upon the judgment of the transacting parties that they are better off to trade than to fight. The hunter did not shoot the woodworker to get chairs, and the woodworker traded for meat instead of stealing it. They chose to trade because it made them better off than fighting. The reasons are their own. Perhaps they were friends, colleagues or allies. Perhaps they believed that harming other people is wrong. Perhaps they hoped to have an ongoing trading relationship. Perhaps fighting carried risks that were too high and they feared injury or retribution. Perhaps trading was less work than fighting.

For whatever reason, they chose to trade. This choice is not universal. People have traded throughout human history, but they have also fought. I do not maintain that trading is any more “natural” or inbred than fighting, but neither is it is less so. When people choose to fight, they are no longer part of a market. Markets are like ecosystems with the violence removed.  They are the kinder, gentler version of ecosystems.

There are only two models for legal governance and only one legitimate rule.

The logic is as follows:
1. In the wild, organisms compete for scarce resources. Those organisms better adapted to conditions survive and reproduce. Their interactions constitute ecosystems. No legal rules govern behaviour and might is right.

2. Human beings trade spontaneously. Parties enter into transactions when they perceive themselves as better off to trade than to fight. Their transactions constitute markets.

3. Moral values and policy goals are preferences whose inherent validity cannot be established. They are turtles all the way down. Therefore laws based upon those preferences lack legitimacy.

4. When governments use might to impose laws and policies that are illegitimate, they unintentionally imitate ecosystems, where might is right. Political constituencies use whatever means necessary to impose their preferences, and their opponents use whatever means necessary to resist. They are “autonomous” in the ecosystem sense: there are no inherently valid restrictions on behaviour. The result is a social order of division and conflict.

5. The alternative is to model human governance on the other system that exists independently of state preference: markets. If the model for human governance is markets, interactions between people are voluntary. People are “autonomous” in the market sense: they may pursue their own interests without coercion. Instead of imposing illegitimate rules and policies, the state uses force only to prohibit people from imposing force on each other. A plethora of sub-rules follow as corollaries of the rule against coercion: property, consent, criminal offences that punish violence and so on.

6. There is no third choice. Coercion is not right or wrong depending upon the goals being pursued since those goals are merely preferences. Their advocates cannot establish that their goals have inherent validity to those who do not agree. Therefore, giving priority to those objectives is to assert that might is right. If might is right, we are back to ecosystems, where any and all actions are legitimate.

7. If might is right, anything goes, and the model is ecosystems. If might is not right, force is prohibited, and the model is markets. Choose one and all else follows.

When I claim that a prohibition on force is the only legitimate rule, I mean the only substantive rule to govern relations between competent adults. No doubt the administration of a legal system, even a minimalist one, would require other kinds of laws to function. Constitutional rules, court administration, the conduct of elections and procedures to bring legal proceedings are a few of the other categories that would be necessary in order to give effect to the general rule.

No Property, No Market

But the existence of property rights must follow from a general rule prohibiting coercion. If it does not, the general rule is not what it purports to be. When people trade, they recognize the property interest held by the other party. It is that interest that they wish to obtain. When the woodworker trades chairs for the hunter’s meat, she trades “her” chairs for “his” meat. The trade would not occur without a mutual understanding of the possession that both hold over their respective stuff.

Sometimes those interests are recognized and protected by the law, which according to Bentham created the property. However, since markets arise even where no property is legally recognized, the notion of property must be prior to the law. Above I gave examples of markets that have arisen where no legal regime has protected property rights: prehistorical trade, alcohol sales during Prohibition, black markets in the Soviet Union, the modern day drug trade, smuggling of illicit goods, and the internal markets of prisons. Since trading occurs even in the absence of an approving legal regime, the notion of property must exist independently as well.

No Consent, No Market

Autonomy in the market sense means to be able to pursue your own interests and control your own choices without coercion. Consent is part and parcel of autonomy. Without the ability to consent, no trades can be made. Without trades, no markets exist. If one cannot consent to be touched, to give up property, to make bargains, to mate, to arm wrestle, to trade chairs for meat, to sell labour for money, and so on, then one is not autonomous.

If force is prohibited, then corollaries are laws that protect people from having force imposed upon them. Laws apply the force of the state to prevent or punish the application of force. A criminal law that prohibits assault is an extension of the general rule. A tax to finance the police department is legitimate if its purpose is to investigate and prosecute violent crimes. Traffic laws prevent people from running each other over.  Civil liability compensates for physical injuries caused by the force of others.

Illegitimate Laws, No Market

Illegitimate laws use state coercion to seek other ends such as enforcing moral standards, pursuing social goals or saving people from themselves. A criminal law that prohibits the use of drugs uses state force to prevent an activity in which there is no coercion. A tax to fund the armed forces to protect the peace may be legitimate, but one to take wealth from Peter to give to Paul is not. The legal regimes of modern administrative states consist largely of instrumentalist laws and policies that are inconsistent with the general rule, including tax laws, economic development programs, bankruptcy, patent regimes, mandatory government-run pension plans and MacLean’s version of environmental regulation, in which each decision turns on a political determination of the values to be applied.

It is either ecosystems or markets. Either might is right or it is not. If it is, then human society is subject to the law of the jungle where people are at liberty to fight like animals if they choose to do so. If it is not, then human society is a marketplace where people may enter into transactions voluntarily and the state may justifiably use force only to prevent or punish the application of force.

There is no third choice. Some might insist that coercion is not categorically wrong but that it can be right or wrong depending upon the other goals to be pursued. Those goals are merely preferences. They are turtles all the way down. I do not maintain that other rules will not be passed and enforced using the established machinery of government but only that they have no claim to legitimacy, any more than other rules that might have been chosen instead. If force is used to pursue those preferences, why would others not use force to resist? Such a choice results in a free-for-all. If state force is right only because it cannot be resisted, that means that might is right. The administrative welfare state prevails not because it is justified morally or socially but because it has managed to secure a monopoly on violence. The imposition of government preferences is an invitation to those opposed to an arbitrary policy agenda to take up force against it.

Summary

In  a way, Pardy is warning us not to take for granted the free market social democracies to which we were accustomed.  Post modern progressive social justice warriors have decided that society is essentially an endless power struggle, that one group’s rights are gained only at the expense of another group.  In other words, it’s a dog-eat-dog, might makes right ecosystem.  Pardy says there is another way, which has been the basis for the rise of civilization, but can be reversed by governance that destroys the free market of ideas and efforts by imposing values favored by the rich and powerful.

Footnote about Turtles.  Pardy explains the metaphor:

In Rapanos v. United States, Justice Antonin Scalia offered a version of the traditional tale of how the Earth is carried on the backs of animals. In this version of the story, an Eastern guru affirms that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger.  When asked what supports the tiger, he says it stands upon an elephant; and when asked what supports the elephant he says it is a giant turtle.  When asked, finally, what supports the giant turtle, he is briefly taken aback, but quickly replies “Ah, after that it is turtles all the way down.”

Postscript on Climate Change and the Paris Accord:

Let the Paris climate deal die. It was never good for anything, anyway
Opinion: Paris is a climate fairy tale. It has always been more about money and politics than the environment.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Paris is more a movement than a legal framework. It imagines the world as a global community working in solidarity on a common problem, making sacrifices in the common good, reducing inequality and transcending the negative effects of market forces. In this fable, climate change is a catalyst for revolution. It is the monster created by capitalism that will turn on its creator and bring the market system to the end of its natural life. A new social order will emerge in which market value no longer determines economic decisions. Governments will exercise influence over economic behaviour by imposing “market-based mechanisms” such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. Enlightened leaders will direct energy use based upon social justice values and community needs. An international culture will unite peoples in a cause that transcends their national interests, giving way to the next stage of human society. Between the lines of the formal text, the Paris agreement reads like a socialist nightmare.

The regime attempts to establish an escalating global norm that requires continual updating, planning and negotiation. To adhere, governments are to supervise, regulate and tax the energy use and behaviour of their citizens (for example, the Trudeau government’s insistence that all provinces impose a carbon tax or the equivalent, to escalate over time.) Yet for all of the domestic action it legitimizes, Paris does not actually require it. Like the US$100-billion pledge, reduction targets are outside the formal Paris agreement. They are voluntary; neither binding nor enforceable. Other countries have condemned Trump’s withdrawal and reaffirmed their commitment to Paris but many of them, including Canada, are not on track to meet even their initial promises. Global emissions are rising again.

If human action is not causing the climate to change, Paris is irrelevant. If it is, then Paris is an obstacle to actual solutions. If there is a crisis, it will be solved when someone develops a low-carbon energy source as useful and cheap as fossil fuels. A transition will then occur without government interventions and international declarations. Until then, Paris will fix nothing. It serves interests that have little to do with atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Will America’s repudiation result in its eventual demise? One can hope.