Wednesday, July 26, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Why the Greens Lost, and Trump Won








The Great Green Diesel Swindle

In this newsletter:

1) Scott Pruitt May Invite Former Obama Official To Lead A Climate ‘Red Team’
Science Magazine, 24 July 2017
 
2) Joel Kotkin: Why the Greens Lost, and Trump Won
The Daily Beast, 22 July 2017 
 
3) The Great Green Diesel Swindle
Chicago Tribune, 24 July 2017 
 
4) Green Madness: 'The End Of Germany’s Car Industry As We Know It'
Clean Energy Wire, 25 July 2017 
 
5) Forget Paris: India Diverts $10 Billion Renewable Energy Fund
Scroll.in, 24 July 2017 

 6) Marian L. Tupy: The Totalitarianism Of Climate Alarmists
CapX, 19 July 2017

Full details:

1) Scott Pruitt May Invite Former Obama Official To Lead A Climate ‘Red Team’
Science Magazine, 24 July 2017
Hannah Northey, E&E
 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is considering a former official in President Barack Obama’s Energy Department to lead the agency’s debate on mainstream climate science, according to a former leader of the Trump administration’s EPA transition effort.
 
Steve Koonin, a physicist and director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, is being eyed to lead EPA’s “red team, blue team” review of climate science, said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a Trump transition leader.

 
Steven Koonin in 2011. photo: Matthew Wisniewski/Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
 
“It makes sense because he has positioned himself as an honest broker,” Ebell said. “He doesn’t think that the consensus is what some of the alarmists claim it is, and there’s a lot that needs to be discussed.”
 
When reached by phone, Koonin declined to comment on whether he was in talks with the administration about the climate job. But he added, “I think it would be a good idea if that kind of exercise took place.”
 
EPA has also consulted with groups like the free-market Heartland Institute for input on which scientists to include in the effort, but the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about Koonin or its outreach.
 
Koonin served as DOE’s undersecretary for science from 2009 to 2011 under President Obama, overseeing activities tied to science, energy and security. He also led DOE’s first Quadrennial Technology Review for energy, according to his online bio.
 
Before joining DOE, Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics and provost at the California Institute of Technology, and he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Koonin also spent five years as a chief scientist for BP PLC, where he helped establish the Energy Biosciences Institute, according to his online bio. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 
Koonin in the past has called for a debate on mainstream climate science, and even pitched the “red team, blue team” concept in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in April.
 
In an interview in April with the Journal, Koonin said the science isn’t settled and skepticism is muted in policy-informing communities where people don’t like to discuss uncertainties.
 
“One of the biggest debates is how can we separate human influence from natural variability,” he said. “That’s very important because if we can detect human influences, then we can start to project their impact going forward.”
 
Koonin said scientists who question mainstream climate science are often shunned by colleagues and can lose federal funding. When asked about scientists who have also questioned climate science, Koonin pointed to prominent climate skeptic Richard Lindzen of MIT; Judith Curry, who recently retired from Georgia Tech; and Freeman Dyson, a retired professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton University.
 
Koonin is no stranger to such team debates or the controversy they trigger.
In January 2014, Koonin oversaw a daylong symposium to discuss the American Physical Society’s statement on climate change where the debate became testy. Koonin at the time was leading an APS subcommittee reviewing the society’s position (Climatewire, April 14, 2015).
 
In a transcript for the event held in Brooklyn, N.Y., Koonin said the panels would review both consensus views on climate change and scientists who “credibly take significant issue with several aspects of the consensus picture.”
 
Nine months later, Koonin resigned from his APS post to “promote his personal opinions on climate science in the public arena,” according to the group.
Ebell said the debate was productive but accused APS of not publicizing the event and the media of failing to pay attention.
 
“That was a good example of how you can come to some deeper understanding by making people confront opposing arguments and then seeing where they lead,” Ebell said. “That was a very useful exercise, but it never got much publicity or the media just didn’t pay attention to it.”
 
Jim Lakely, the Heartland Institute’s spokesman, said in an email that the White House and EPA had reached out to help identify scientists for a “red team” and called the debate “long overdue.” The group has long called for a team approach to debating mainstream climate science and is sponsoring the publication of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, or NIPCC.
 
Full story
 
2) Joel Kotkin: Why the Greens Lost, and Trump Won
The Daily Beast, 22 July 2017 
 
It’s tough to prevail with an agenda that makes people poorer, more subservient and more miserable. That disconnect is one part of how this awful guy made it to the White House.

When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, embraced coal, and stacked his administration from people from fossil-fuel producing states, the environmental movement reacted with near-apocalyptic fear and fury. They would have been better off beginning to understand precisely why the country has become so indifferent to their cause, as evidenced by the victory not only of Trump but of unsympathetic Republicans at every level of government.

Yet there’s been little soul-searching among green activists and donors, or in the generally pliant media since November about how decades of exaggerated concerns—about peak oil, the “population bomb,” and even, a few decades back, global cooling—and demands for economic, social, and political sacrifices from the masses have damaged their movement.

The New Religion and the Next Autocracy

Not long ago, many greens still embraced pragmatic solutions—for example substituting abundant natural gas for coal—that have generated large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than celebrate those demonstrable successes, many environmentalists began pushing for a total ban on the development of fossil fuels, including natural gas, irrespective of the costs or the impact on ordinary people.

James Lovelock, who coined the term “Gaia,” notes that the green movement has morphed into “a religion” sometimes marginally tethered to reality. Rather than engage in vigorous debate, they insist that the “science is settled” meaning not only what the challenges are but also the only acceptable solutions to them. There’s about as much openness about goals and methods within the green lobby today as there was questioning the existence of God in Medieval Europe. With the Judeo-Christian and Asian belief systems in decline, particularly among the young, environmentalism offers “science” as the basis of a new theology.

The believers at times seem more concerned in demonstrating their faith than in passing laws, winning elections or demonstrating results. So with Republicans controlling the federal government, greens are cheering Democratic state attorney generals’ long-shot legal cases against oil companies. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman has talked about dismissing the disorder of democracy as not suited to meeting the environmental challenges we face, and replacing it with rulers like the “reasonably enlightened group of people” who run the Chinese dictatorship.

After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, China was praised, bizarrely, as the great green hope. The Middle Kingdom, though, is the world’s biggest and fastest grower emitter, generating coal energy at record levels. It won’t, under Paris, need to cut its emissions till 2030. Largely ignored is the fact that America, due largely to natural gas replacing coal, has been leading the world in GHG reductions.

Among many greens, and their supports, performance seems to mean less than proper genuflecting; the Paris accords, so beloved by the green establishment, will make little impact on the actual climate, as both rational skeptics like Bjorn Lomborg and true believers like NASA’s James Hanson agree. In this context, support for Paris represents the ultimate in “virtue signaling.” Ave Maria, Gaia.

The California Model

The cutting edge for green soft authoritarianism, and likely model after the inevitable collapse of the Trump regime, lies in California. On his recent trip with China, Brown fervently kowtowed to President Xi Jinping. Brown’s environmental obsessions also seems to have let loose his own inner authoritarian, as when he recently touted “the coercive power of the state.”

Coercion has its consequences. California has imposed, largely in the name of climate change, severe land use controls that have helped make the state among the most unaffordable in the nation, driving homeownership rates to the lowest levels since the 1940s, and leaving the Golden State with the nation’s highest poverty rate.

The biggest losers from Brown’s policies have been traditional blue collar, energy-intensive industries such as home building, manufacturing, and energy. Brown’s climate policies have boosted energy prices and made gas in oil-rich California about the most expensive in the nation. That doesn’t mean much to the affluent Tesla-driving living in the state’s more temperate coast, but it’s forced many poor and middle-class people in the state’s less temperate interior into “energy poverty,” according to one recent study.

That, too, fits the climatista’s agenda, which revolves around social engineering designed to shift people from predominately suburban environments to dense, urban and transit dependent ones. The state’s crowded freeway are not be expanded due to a mandated “road diet,” while local officials repeatedly seek to reduce lanes and “calm traffic” on what are already agonizing congested streets. In this shift, market forces and consumer preferences are rarely considered, one reason these policies have stimulated much local opposition—and not only from the state’s few remaining conservatives.

California’s greens ambitions even extend to eating habits. Brown has already assaulted the beef producers for their cattle’s flatulence. Regulators in the Bay Area and local environmental activists are proposing people shift to meatless meals. Green lobbyists have already convinced some Oakland school districtsto take meat off the menu. OK with me, if I get the hamburger or taco-truck franchise next to school when the kids get out.

Sadly, many of these often socially harmful policies may do very little to address the problem associated with climate change. California’s draconian policies fail to actually do anything for the actual climate, given the state’s already low carbon footprint and the impact of people and firms moving to places where generally they expand their carbon footprint. Much of this has taken on the character of a passion play that shows how California is leading us to the green millennium.

Goodbye to the Family

An even bigger ambition of the green movement—reflecting concerns from its earliest days—has been to reduce the number of children, particularly in developed countries. Grist’s Lisa Hymas has suggested that it’s better to have babies in Bangladesh than America because they don’t end up creating as many emissions as their more fortunate counterparts. Hymas’ ideal is to have people become GINKs—green inclinations, no kids.

Many green activists argue that birth rates need to be driven down so warming will not “fry” the planet. Genial Bill Nye, science guy, has raised the idea of enforced limits on producing children in high-income countries. This seems odd since the U.S. already is experiencing record-low fertility rates, a phenomenon in almost all advanced economies, with some falling to as little as half the “replacement rate” needed to maintain the current population. In these countries, aging populations and shrinking workforces may mean government defaults over the coming decades.

The demographic shift, hailed and promoted by greens, is also creating a kind of post-familial politics. Like Jerry Brown himself, many European leaders—in France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands—are themselves childless. Their attitude, enshrined in a EU document as “no kids, no problem” represents a breathtaking shift in human affairs; it’s one thing to talk a good game about protecting the “next generation” in the collective abstract, another to experience being personally responsible for the future of another, initially helpless, human being.

Full essay
  
3) The Great Green Diesel Swindle
Chicago Tribune, 24 July 2017 
 
German carmakers colluded on diesel controls, technology for decades: report
 


Another week, another scare from the German car industry.
 
What began with Daimler’s massive recall of more than 3 million diesel cars to lower their emissions, ended on Friday with Audi also embarking on a voluntary recall of 850,000 vehicles. Adding to the spate of bad news was a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the biggest car manufacturers — Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen as well as VW’s Audi and Porsche brands — may have colluded for decades on technology. The companies declined to comment.
 
Full story
 
4) Green Madness: 'The End Of Germany’s Car Industry As We Know It'
Clean Energy Wire, 25 July 2017
 
If the allegations over a cartel formed by Germany’s five largest carmakers “are just to the slightest extent true, it’s the end of the car industry as we know it”, Markus Fasse writes in a commentary for Handelsblatt Online. Billions in fines, civil actions and the looming end of the diesel engine as a “cash cow” add up to a predicament for the entire industry, Fasse says. “At the same time, they have to invest billions in the development of e-cars and artificial intelligence to prepare for new competitors”, which have only waited for the mighty German carmakers to make a mistake, he argues. “Humbleness and the true will to change are the only things that can help the industry now,” Fasse says.
 
Full post
 
5) Forget Paris: India Diverts $10 Billion Renewable Energy Fund
Scroll.in, 24 July 2017
 
India’s biggest domestic source of public funds to push renewable energy and protect the environment has become a victim of the Goods and Services Tax. Basically, the fund is now dead wood,” a senior finance ministry official said.
 
In April, the government included the tax collected on production and import of coal to the GST schedule. With this move, the tax, which was funelled into the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund, was diverted to compensating the states that stand to lose revenue as a consequence of the GST.
 
Now, the finance ministry’s responses to Scroll.in’s queries under the Right To Information Act, 2005, show even the unspent funds lying in the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund have been diverted.
 
The unspent funds amount to Rs 56,700 crore.
 
A steady stream of funds for clean energy, amounting to more than Rs 1 lakh crore over next five years will also dry up from next financial year. Indeed, from next year, India will not have the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund.
 
Full post
 
6) Marian L. Tupy: The Totalitarianism Of Climate Alarmists
CapX, 19 July 2017
 
Since the fall of communism, global warming has been, without question, the most potent weapon in the hands of those who wish to control the behaviour of their fellow human beings.
 
Late last year, I gave a talk about human progress to an audience of college students in Ottawa, Canada. I went through the usual multitude of indicators – rising life expectancy, literacy and per capita incomes; declining infant mortality, malnutrition and cancer death rates – to show that the world was becoming a much better place for an ever growing share of its population.
 
It seemed to me that the audience was genuinely delighted to hear some good news for a change. I had won them over to the cause of rational optimism. And then someone in the audience asked about climate change and I blew it.
 
While acknowledging that the available data suggests a “lukewarming” trend in global temperatures, I cautioned against excessive alarmism. Available resources, I said, should be spent on adaptation to climate change, not on preventing changes in global temperature – a task that I, along with many others, consider to be both ruinously expensive and, largely, futile. The audience was at first shocked – I reckon they considered me a rational and data-savvy academic up to that point – and then became angry and, during a breakout session, hostile. I even noticed one of the students scratching out five, the highest mark a speaker could get on an evaluation form, and replacing it with one. I suppose I should be glad he did not mark me down to zero.
 
My Ottawa audience was in no way exceptional. Very often, when speaking to audiences in Europe and North America about the improving state of the world, people acknowledge the positive trends, but worry that, as Matt Ridley puts it, “this happy interlude [in human history will come] to a terrible end.” Of course, apocalyptic writings are as old as humanity itself. The Bible, for example, contains the story of the Great Flood, in which God “destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air”.
 
The Akkadian poem of Gilgamesh similarly contains a myth of angry gods flooding the Earth, while an apocalyptic deluge plays a prominent part in the Hindu Dharmasastra. And then there is Al Gore. In his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore warns that “if Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida”, before an animation shows much of the state underwater. Gore also shows animations of San Francisco, Holland, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta and Manhattan drowning. “But this is what would happen to Manhattan, they can measure this precisely,” Gore says as he shows much of the city underwater.
 
It is possible, I suppose, that our eschatological obsessions are innate. The latest research suggests that our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is 300,000 years old. For most of our existence, life was, to quote Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Our life expectancy was between 25 years and 30 years, and our incomes were stuck at a subsistence level for millennia. Conversely, our experience with relative abundance is, at most, two centuries old. That amounts to 0.07 per cent of our time on Earth. Is there any wonder that we are prone to be pessimistic?
 
That said, I wonder how many global warming enthusiasts have thought through the full implications of their (in my view overblown) fears of a looming apocalypse. If it is true that global warming threatens the very survival of life on Earth, then all other considerations must, by necessity, be secondary to preventing global warming from happening.
 
That includes, first and foremost, the reproductive rights of women. Some global warming fearmongers have been good enough to acknowledge as much. Bill Nye, a progressive TV personality, wondered if we should “have policies that penalise people for having extra kids.”…
 
And then there is Travis N. Rieder, a research scholar at Johns Hopkins’ Berman Institute of Bioethics, who says that “maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.” He wants tax penalties to punish new parents in rich countries. The proposed tax penalty would become harsher with each additional child.
 
And that brings me to my final point. Since the fall of communism, global warming has been, without question, the most potent weapon in the hands of those who wish to control the behaviour of their fellow human beings. Lukewarmists like me do not caution against visions of an environmental apocalypse out of some perverse hatred of nature. On the contrary, concern for the environment is laudable and, I happen to believe, nearly universal. But, environmentalism, like all –isms, can become totalitarian. It is for that reason that, when it comes to our environmental policies, we ought to tread very carefully.
 
Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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