Earth hour

Apparently that’s today. Easy to lose track. Unless you’re in Venezuela or North Korea, where it’s every day.

It’s “A celebration of ignorance, poverty and backwardness.”
-Ross McKitrick.

My lights are all on, and I think I’ll go start my diesel tractor just for a sniff of the fumes. I’ll drive my car 200 feet to the barn.

Rationale to ration

Medical Welfare Programs Look To Price Another Year Of Life

Medicaid and other medical welfare entitlement programs have created expectations that are bigger than the resources available to meet them. As a result, some welfare bureaucracies are looking to ration expensive drugs through a controversial method designed to put a price on the value of a human life.

If a beneficiary of a social welfare program needs a particular drug whose price exceeds a predetermined value of a “quality-adjusted life year” for the individual, under this method, that person would not get the drug. It is already in use in Great Britain’s single-payer health care system and in other nations. Some in the U.S. think it should be used here, too.

When the government pays for something, it gives bureaucrats a taxpayer-based rationale to refuse to pay for it.

See the Green New Deal fantasy: It’s a list of things, including electricity, gasoline, home heating, land use, product design, hourly wages, preferred occupation, food choice, and, yes, health care; all of which will be rationed or regulated. Why? In order to implement their view of “social, economic, racial, regional and gender-based justice and equality

Is it any wonder GND proponents support “some are more equal than others” thugs like Venezuela’s Maduro and Cuba’s Castro?

A note on Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn features in a couple of the links which will appear soon in a 14th Anniversary post for this blog, but I’m not waiting for February 19th to post this bit.

This Just In!
A Cockwomble Reaches for The Hockey Stick

Steyn could use your help defending himself, and the First Amendment, against both Michael “Hokeystick” Mann and Cary “Crazy” Katz.

Punitive lawfare is a preferred weapon of the anti-freedom-of-speech elite, and Steyn is at the forefront of these fights because he wouldn’t abase himself.  Under the US justice system, the process has become the punishment.

The Mann case has dragged on for 8 years.  Katz, who definitively lost a suit he initiated against Steyn (and refuses to pay up), is a very rich guy who… well you’d have to read about what an evil looter he is, and we don’t have space here.

Support Mark Steyn.  Buy a book, a mug, a t-shirt, a CD, or, better yet join The Mark Steyn Club.

His fight is your fight.

Which clueless totalitarian are you?

We need a Facebook quiz to find out which Atlas Shrugged character Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is like.

There might not be a match. Ayn Rand’s fiction has been criticized for unidimensional characterization, but even she would find AOC unbelievable.

Here Are The Most Shocking Proposals From Ocasio-Cortez’ “Green New Deal”

Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t provide any insight into how the trillions of dollars in spending will be paid for other than claiming, “The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit”. But as Ocasio-Cortez says, “the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity”.

Provide free, mandatory classes for every citizen in speaking ‘Venezuelan?’

(Update, 12:48PM here‘s one estimate of the cost.)

Here’s a snippet from an FAQ document, published by proponents, describing the wonders of the ‘Green New Deal:’

Yes, we are calling for a full transition off fossil fuels and zero greenhouse gases. Anyone who has read the resolution sees that we spell this out through a plan that calls for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy. Simply banning fossil fuels immediately won’t build the new economy to replace it – this is the plan to build that new economy and spells out how to do it technically. We do this through a huge mobilization to create the renewable energy economy as fast as possible. We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero.

Maybe “our new shared prosperity” will pay for little solar-powered methane suction devices attached to the rear of every cow.  “Methane Disposal,” you ask?  Well, we just inject it into the natural gas supply lines…  Oh wait, natural gas will be banned.

OK.  More likely, the cow problem solves itself when meat and milk are banned.

This manifesto attracted so much ridicule that they tried to disappear it from the internet. They forgot the internet is forever. It is humorous reading.

This great leap forward is on top of universal free college education and medicare for all. So, they desperately need the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, King Midas, and the Pope (for divine intervention).

What they’ve got is Modern Monetary Theory:

MMT Sounds Great In Theory, But…

If you haven’t heard about Modern Monetary Theory your IQ is higher than it would have been if you had. It is really neither modern, nor a theory (it’s not actually testable*); and it misapprehends the meaning of the word ‘monetary.’ However, it could be in your future as a general government policy.

This theory of infinite currency printing does not admit to being limited by inflation. Any excess currency is simply taxed back. Inflation is something that cannot happen with a proper implementation of MMT.

Proper. Implementation. By the ‘best and brightest.’ Like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

MMT has an obvious attraction for politicians. We’ve been playing at the edges of it for quite some time.

Let’s close with a last word from Ocasio-Cortez on the “Green New Deal”:

“I think one way that the right does try to mischaracterize what we’re doing as though it’s like some kind of massive government takeover. Obviously it’s not that because what we’re trying to do is release the investments from the federal government to mobilize those resources across the country.”

Obviously! Release! Investments! Mobilize! That explains the whole thing: She’s hired a fluent Newspeak expert. ‘Obviously’ means, “If you don’t understand, it’s because you’re stupid.” ‘Release’ means, oh, I don’t know, “the vast Federal budget surplus being held hostage by Trump’s wall proposal?” ‘Investments’ means, “Impossible government spending.” ‘Mobilize’ means, “At gunpoint.”

*Proponents will say, “It is testable, but it’s never been tried.” Well, that’s what they say about Communism, too. But, let’s even ignore the actual workings of an economy and admit that MMT depends on the refined judgment of virtuous politicians zealously balancing currency flow. And if you imagine that can be accomplished, you run into an even bigger problem: To do their job, these paragons also have to possess instant, encyclopedic, perfectly accurate information about every aspect of that economy.

Counter-Enlightment mobs on Twitter

Enlightenment Wars: Some Reflections on ‘Enlightenment Now,’ One Year Later

That Steven Pinker piece is rich in references, long, and thoughtful. You will certainly find some things in it to which you object.

For example, I think this sentence, “But no one would suggest that the state of the environment has improved in the past 250 years anyway — on the contrary, many of the improvements for humanity came at the expense of the planet,” is gibberish. A sop, as Pinker says later, to “the relentless fatalism of orthodox environmental journalism and activism.

In fact, allimprovements for humanity came at the expense of the planet,” so Pinker has given us an understated tautology.

At least since the failure of Eden Bank and Trust, none of the progress he documents would have been possible without drawing on the Bank of Gaia. Shall we define high environmental quality as “red in tooth and claw,” with human lives “nasty, brutish and short?” While extreme environmentalists may count humanity as a cancer*, what other environmental metric should sane humans use than human well-being?

It isn’t either/or. Caring about human well-being means we need to care about the environment, and wealthier societies are far better able to do this. We are the only species who are even capable of thinking about how our activities affect other life, but we’re likely to do little of that while starving, or suffering from deadly, preventable diseases.

Pinker more or less acknowledges this disconnect starting a paragraph later, but it doesn’t excuse that sentence.

I also think Pinker is subject to living too near the edges of the Trump Derangement Syndrome cabal, but his points about Trump all have some core validity.

Enough quibbling. A recommended read, which begins:

You wouldn’t think that a defense of reason, science, and humanism would be particularly controversial in an era in which those ideals would seem to need all the help they can get.

I guess! After this weekend’s events on the DC Mall, and the ongoing vitriolic hatred propelled by rushing to preconceived judgment.

The Enlightenment bequeathed us many things. Among them, transistors.  Leading, unfortunately, to Twitter. It’s the hair trigger of a polity in which 15 year olds receive near instant death threats for simply standing still, smiling nervously in the face of a practiced adult ‘bully for profit,’** while being vilely insulted by adult Black supremacists whose probability of being slaves would be far higher (as would everyone’s) without the Enlightenment.

Pinker describes the central Enlightenment idea these collectivists want to destroy:

“Practices that blatantly violate human freedom and dignity, like slavery, serfdom, imperialism, and caste systems, are to be condemned; all other norms and customs are incommensurable across cultures and may not be judged as superior or inferior.”

It’s Enlightenment values that proscribe and yet protect pre-Enlightenment tribal hatreds. Victims of grievance ideology can’t merely ignore the progress Pinker documents, they have to paint it as evil.

*See also, The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources
“[E]very additional human being born on our planet seems to be making resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.

**No link to a GoFundMe campaign being run on his behalf, but the goal is $50,000.  Of which $380 has been pledged.  The beg:

On Friday, January 18th, 2019, Native American Vietnam War Veteran Nathan Phillips was mocked and harassed by a group of young men in “Make America Great Again” hats on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The disrespect and intimidation displayed by these young men were heartbreaking to me and many others across the country. Given the atrocious actions the U.S. has taken against Native American communities since colonization started in the Americas, this incident was a reflection of how much of that same ignorance and bigotry is still present in our society.

I know that this is a very small gesture relative to the harm that was caused by this specific incident and the many decades of history leading up to this. However, I hope that this GoFundMe campaign can make even a small difference for Mr. Phillips and his community.

Funds raised by this campaign will go directly to Mr. Phillips to use as he sees fit to aid himself and/or his community.

Nor any link to some far left site called Inquisitr:

“Now, the internet has responded by raising thousands of dollars to support Phillips and a non-profit organization he leads called Native Youth Alliance. The response was meant to put a positive spin on an ugly incident that has gained viral attention and to help the Native American activist, who was caught in the middle of the incident.”

Those are but two examples of fundraising off Nathan Phillips’ bullying.

Not so much

From Nature: How much can forests fight climate change?

Jason Funk, quoted below, is talking about planting trees to reduce Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. First, he assumes CAGW (emphasis on catastrophic and anthropogenic) as a clear and present danger. The data on that may be debatable, but everybody knows more trees will help reduce global warming. It’s embedded in the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord; resulting in a global industrial complex based on selling carbon credits for planting trees. Planting trees is a lifeline we must seize or the planet will fry. Many governments’ common sense regulations and carbon taxes incorporate this certainty. It must be correct.

Well, no, not exactly.

“Scientists who champion forests say that although more research is always good, existing results are mature enough to support the use of forests to fight climate change, especially given the urgency of the problem. “We can’t necessarily afford to hold off on those things; we have to begin taking some action,” says Jason Funk, an environmental scientist in Chicago, Illinois, who served as an adviser and observer to the Paris agreement.

Researchers are now turning to sophisticated computer models and using larger and more-comprehensive data sets to nail down exactly what forests in different places do to the climate. [Why, if we already know we have to plant more?] In some cases, the results have been sobering. [What?] Last October, a team led by ecologist Sebastiaan Luyssaert at the Free University of Amsterdam modelled a variety of European forest-management scenarios. The researchers concluded that none of the scenarios would yield a significant global climate impact, because the effects of surface darkening and cloud-cover changes from any added forests would roughly eliminate their carbon-storage benefits.

Those models will definitely have to be tweaked. Or maybe ‘disappeared,’ as we’ll note below.

I found the implied separation of scientists from researchers amusing. If you substitute the same word to begin each paragraph, you might realize it says climate scientists think it’s a good idea to fund more research by climate scientists.

Implying there are two groups may just be writing to avoid repetition, but it definitely minimizes the self interest aspect. Scientists want researchers to have more funding is different from scientists want scientists to have more funding.

A short version of this article is that while trees absorb carbon dioxide, the incredible complexity of photosynthetic biology also results in emission of many chemicals. Among those; a lot of nitrous oxide, methane and isoprene, i.e., ‘greenhouse gasses.’ Trees also reduce Earth’s albedo (reflectivity), and thereby directly contribute to higher temperatures. Scientifically, it is not clear that the net effect of planting trees is what envirostatists tell us it is.

The most upsetting, if not unexpected, thing from this article is the following quote:
I have heard scientists say that if we found forest loss cooled the planet, we wouldn’t publish it.

“Never mind,” says Mr. Funk, “we have to DO SOMETHING!” Yes! Get the government to create a crony market* to solve a problem that may not exist, using a method that isn’t supported by science. Nice job of virtue signaling, and that’s “something.” Of course, the treasure we spend now won’t be there if we need it for a valid purpose later.

The article doesn’t mention it, so I don’t know if it occurred to any the modellers, but more CO2 makes trees grow (sequester carbon) faster.  What, if any, effect does that represent?

 

*With the additional effect of wealth transfer to poorer countries: Paying second and third world countries for space to plant trees by taxing corporations who need carbon indulgences because of first world regulation and carbon taxes. After all, poorer countries have more votes at the UN, and if we’re going to excuse India and China from much of the Kyoto and Paris agreements, everybody else should get something, too.

Limits to green growth?

By 2050 solar panels and wind turbines will require around 12 times as much indium as the entire world produces right now, the analysis predicts. Neodymium production will have to grow by more than seven times, and silver will have to grow by nearly three times. And this is just for renewable energy; all of these metals have other uses in other industries, meaning mining will have to ramp up very quickly.

And, will it be sustainable?

Population Bomb, bomb

This is your good news and history lesson for the day.

The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources
(Citations omitted below.)

Summary in a sentence: “As population increases, the time-price of most commodities will get cheaper for most people, most of the time. Unfortunately, most people will assume the opposite.

It occurred to me when reading this that the simple bet about the future price of a few commodities, between University of Maryland economist Julian Simon and Stanford University biology professor Paul R. Ehrlich, is unknown to most people today. After all, it was made in 1980 and settled in 1990.

I read Erhlich’s Population Bomb (1968) and The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) when they were first published. Erhlich assured us that mass starvation was inevitable and imminent. The Club of Rome predicted a dire future caused by shortages of food, water, and all manner of commodities – because of human population growth.  By 1973 we were experiencing severe oil shortages, leading to President Carter’s “malaise” speech.  By 1976 Greenpeace was fundraising off the (allegedly staged) torture of baby seals in Newfoundland as a demonstration of human environmental rapaciousness.

All this gave me pause: Maybe predictions of economic and social collapse based on running out of “stuff” were plausible. Little could be done quickly, but it was critical to DO SOMETHING NOW. There is a pattern there we see today.

To mitigate, not prevent, mass starvation, Erhlich called on governments world-wide to implement draconian population control.

By 1979 the Chinese had done so, with their “one child” policy. One result was 338 million aborted Chinese babies, the majority of them female. While sex selective abortion was banned in China in 2005, there are still 17% more males born than females. This is triple the natural rate difference, so one might suspect the ban is not totally effective.  There’s another effect from the one child policy; “By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25 percent of Chinese men in their late 30s will never have married.” There are a host of societal woes that will result from that.

China tried Ehrlich’s experiment and it’s turned out badly for them.

So, the ‘the bet’ was important in many ways. It was a test of humanity’s future; and, on one side, a prescription to avoid disaster. That prescription is still proposed.

To it, CAGW promoters have added the idea that preventing destruction of all life on earth depends on massive and economically crippling world-wide government intervention. This would certainly curb population growth and reduce human well-being. Going for the absurd conclusion, radical environmentalists call for human extinction.  Erhlich’s ideas inform both groups.

Like climate modellers whose models don’t work, Professor Erhlich has not given up on his thesis. In 2013 he said:

[Human civilization] is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems… . The human predicament is driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources … and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption.

…but if he is wrong – again – we would be well advised to ignore him.  We would find ourselves far less able to navigate existential threats due to restricted trade, fewer ideas, slower innovation, smaller productive capacity, and less wealth.

When you hear the term “sustainable growth,” that’s what is meant.

The whole Simon Abundance article is worth reading, and I hope to encourage you to do so, even though it’s long. There’s much more there than just the Erhlich/Simon bet. It is worth reflecting on the miracle of human ingenuity, stoked by capitalism: Half the world is now middle class or wealthier. I doubt this would be true if the entire world had adopted Erhlich’s advice in 1975.

Intro to the Simon Abundance article:

Humanity, the latest estimates suggest, is roughly 300,000 years old. For the first 99.9 percent of our time on Earth, Homo sapiens lived a short and difficult life that ended, all too often, in violent death. We roamed the world afraid, cold, hungry, and sick. Remedies to ease our suffering were few. In the past 250 years or so, however, human fortunes dramatically improved. An accumulation of incremental technological, scientific, and ideological advances led to the Industrial Revolution, which ushered in an age of abundance.

That is the trajectory Ehrlich told us was over in 1968.  Simon challenged the idea:

After intellectually sparring with one another in print for most of the 1970s, [University of Maryland economist Julian] Simon finally challenged [Stanford University biology professor Paul R.] Ehrlich to a wager on resource depletion. Ehrlich would choose a “basket” of raw materials that he expected would become less abundant in the coming years and choose a time period of more than a year, during which those raw materials would become more expensive. At the end of that period, the inflation-adjusted price of those materials would be calculated. If the “real” price of the basket was higher at the end of the period than at the beginning, that would indicate the materials had become more precious and Ehrlich would win the wager; if the price was lower, Simon would win. The stakes would be the ultimate price difference of the basket at the beginning and end of the time period.

The positions:
Ehrlich:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

Simon:

There is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose… . Adding more people will cause [short-run] problems, but at the same time there will be more people to solve these problems and leave us with the bonus of lower costs and less scarcity in the long run… . The ultimate resource is people-skilled, spirited, and hopeful people who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit, and so, inevitably, for the benefit of us all.

Ehrlich chose copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten. The bet was agreed to on September 29, 1980, with September 29, 1990, being the payoff date. In spite of a population increase of 873 million over those 10 years, Ehrlich lost the wager. All five commodities that he had selected declined in price by an average of 57.6 percent. Ehrlich mailed Simon a check for $576.07.

Since the conclusion of the bet, Ehrlich’s supporters have argued that Simon got lucky: had the bet taken place over a different decade, the outcome might have been different. The debate continues to this day. In 2016, Southern Methodist University economists Michael Cox and Richard Alm revisited the Simon-Ehrlich wager and found that Ehrlich’s metals were 22.4 percent cheaper in 2015 than they had been in 1980.

In an essay titled, “Onward and Upward! Bet on Capitalism-It Works,” Cox and Alm proposed a new methodology to evaluate Simon’s thesis. “The real price of everything,” as Adam Smith pointed out, “is the toil and trouble of acquiring it… . What is bought with money … is purchased by labour.” The cost of human labor, Cox and Alm note, tends to increase faster than inflation. From the perspective of average hourly wages in the United States, therefore, the real price of Ehrlich’s minerals fell by 41.8 percent between 1980 and 2015. According to Cox and Alm, in “work-hour terms, Simon wins The Bet [with Ehrlich] in every year from 1980 to 2015.”

When Jordan Peterson looks around a lecture venue and reminds us of the absolute miracle that the lights always work, the room is warm, and it is safe from wolves; he is speaking about the same thing. When he complains that rejecting the cultural underpinnings of this miracle is thoughtless ingratitude; he is correct.

If we can just keep the government hand on us light, we can continue to enjoy abundance.

Update: 1-Dec-18, 11:59
Prominent Environmentalist Finally Discovers His Religion’s Catch-22

Economic growth is a cancer, in this view. Its bad effects are permanent and cumulative, its blessings are evanescent and ultimately trivial.

Malthusianism is a religious conviction that desperately needs to think of itself as a science. From Thomas Malthus and his mathematical certainties to Paul Ehrlich with his famine timetables and the Club of Rome with its ‘scientific’ predictions of resource exhaustion, Malthusians have made confident predictions about the future and claimed scientific authority for statements that turned out to be contemptibly silly. That is the brutal fate that often awaits people who can’t keep the boundaries between science and religion straight.

The Catch 22 is that “sustainable” economic growth is code for economic decline (links omitted).

Chicken Little goes for broke

You know, it’s a good thing they over-threatened doom, and their models underdelivered for 4 decades. Otherwise, instead of being inured, people might be concerned.

My Puzzlement Over Climate Change Damage Estimates in New National Climate Assessment

And a longer dissection:

An Assessment of the 4th National Climate Assessment

These bureaucrats, whose salaries depend on CAGW, assume their conclusion, cherry pick variables, produce conclusions that lie outside their models’ error bars, and ignore the only model known to reflect actual experience.

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
Richard P. Feynman

Colluding with the Russian Oiligarchy

Russian trolls’ post-election task: Disrupt Florida and other U.S. energy pipelines

Russia’s hidden hand in the Florida pipeline protests was extensive, according to sources familiar with the operations. At least eight Russian accounts, most tied to the troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, sent at least 16 social media messages excoriating the Sabal Trail pipeline or retweeting messages from one of its most prominent opponents, a frequent guest on RT. The tweets were sent to a total of more than 40,000 followers as well as anyone else who saw them via hashtags.

This is just one example of Russian manipulation of useful Green idiots. The Russians do a lot of this in Canada, too.

If we’re worried about Russian election shenanigans, we should be equally concerned about this tampering. It’s gone on longer, involved more money,  is intended to reduce US national security and divide Americans, while boosting Russian oil revenues and world-political influence.