Wednesday, October 30, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: TV Star Johnny Ball Attacks Climate Hysteria

Block On GM Rice -- A Crime Against Humanity 

In this newsletter:

1) TV Star Johnny Ball Attacks Climate Hysteria
The Courier, 29 October 2019
2) Crime Against Humanity: Block On GM Rice ‘Has Cost Millions of Lives And Led to Child Blindness’
The Observer, 26 October 2019 

3) Joel Kotkin: Prepare For Climate Stalinism
City Journal, 25 October 2019
4) Blackouts: California’s Electric Car Dream Is Turning Into A Nightmare, 23 October 2019
5) Roger Pielke Jr: The World is Not Going To Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions by 50% By 2030, Now What?
Forbes, 27 October 2019
6) The Long History Of Eco-Pessimism
Spiked, 25 October 2019 
7) And Finally: Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident
NBER Working Paper No. 26395, October 2019

Full details:

1) TV Star Johnny Ball Attacks Climate Hysteria
The Courier, 29 October 2019

TV star Johnny Ball believes children across the world are being scared unnecessarily by the declaration of a ‘climate crisis’

Johnny Ball recently gave a maths talk in Dundee

In an age of rising sea levels, supercharged storms and rapidly melting glaciers, the need for environmental action and better management of resources should hardly be more evident.

Yet just weeks after a survey suggested that Angus has the second highest rate of climate change deniers in Scotland, former children’s TV presenter Johnny Ball has fuelled controversy by defending the controversial views that got him into hot water with environmental campaigners 10 years ago when he claimed the arguments for man-made climate change just don’t add up.

In an interview with The Courier, the 81-year-old said he believes children across the world are being scared unnecessarily by the declaration of a ‘climate crisis’ at a time when millions worldwide have been mobilised by the campaigning of child environmentalist Greta Thunberg.

The former Think of a Number presenter, who recently spoke about maths in Dundee, said there was “no question” that humans are having a negative effect on the environment whether that be plastic pollution or wasteful resource depletion.

However, the man who once claimed “farting spiders” caused more damage to the environment than fossil fuels, will not accept that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of climate change – instead taking the view that rising CO2 levels are part of a natural cycle.

“Of course the climate is changing and always is,” he said. “I do not believe that CO2 is the main cause of climate change. I do not believe it at all because the main cause of climate change has to be the water in the atmosphere, and the weather is changed by that.

“Man is a great weight on the earth – there’s no question about that. Plastics pollution [is] terrible. That’s got to stop. The polluting of the oceans – all that I’m with.

“I will not accept that CO2 is the main cause of climate change or that man is the main cause of climate change.

“I cannot accept it and I never will because I have enough facts behind me to know I’m on the right tracks.

“There are natural processes. Man does have an effect. We are talking about the fires in the Amazon, which are terrible. They say the Amazon is 20% of the Earth’s plants. It’s not. It’s four per cent. Why? Because 80% of the plants on Earth are in the oceans.

“People misconstrue the science and misconstrue the facts.

“Eighty per cent of all plant life is in the oceans and if the Earth was smooth the oceans would be 4km deep. That’s a hell of a lot of water with a hell of a lot of plants in it. All breathing CO2. Where is the CO2 coming from?

“It’s a natural cycle being reproduced and reproduced and reproduced, and that’s how it works. Man is unquestionably a terrible weight on the earth. We’ve got to be careful what we do. We’ve got to be careful we don’t wreck the earth. Of course we have. But CO2? No.

Full story
2) Crime Against Humanity: Block On GM Rice ‘Has Cost Millions of Lives And Led to Child Blindness’
The Observer, 26 October 2019 

Eco groups and global treaty blamed for delay in supply of vitamin-A enriched Golden Rice

Stifling international regulations have been blamed for delaying the approval of a food that could have helped save millions of lives this century. The claim is made in a new investigation of the controversy surrounding the development of Golden Rice by a team of international scientists.

Golden Rice is a form of normal white rice that has been genetically modified to provide vitamin A to counter blindness and other diseases in children in the developing world. It was developed two decades ago but is still struggling to gain approval in most nations.

“Golden Rice has not been made available to those for whom it was intended in the 20 years since it was created,” states the science writer Ed Regis. “Had it been allowed to grow in these nations, millions of lives would not have been lost to malnutrition, and millions of children would not have gone blind.”

Vitamin A deficiency is practically unknown in the west, where it is found in most foods. For individuals in developing countries, however, vitamin A is a matter of life or death. Lack of it is believed to be responsible for killing more children than HIV, tuberculosis or malaria – around 2,000 deaths a day. On a global scale, about a third of children under five suffer from the condition which can also lead to blindness.

As a solution to this crisis, Peter Beyer, professor of cell biology at Freiburg University in Germany, and Ingo Potrykus of the Institute of Plant Sciences in Switzerland, turned to the new technology of genetic manipulation in the late 20th century. They inserted genes for a chemical known as beta-carotene into the DNA of normal rice. In this way, they modified the rice genes so that the plants started to make beta-carotene, a rich orange-coloured pigment that is also a key precursor chemical used by the body to make vitamin A.

“In Bangladesh, China, India and elsewhere in Asia, many children subsist on a few bowls of rice a day and almost nothing else. For them, a daily supply of Golden Rice could now bring the gift of life and sight,” states Regis in his book, Golden Rice, which is published this month.

Unfortunately, that daily supply has not materialised – and Regis is clear where the blame lies. For a start, many ecology action groups, in particular Greenpeace, have tried to block approval of Golden Rice because of their general opposition to GM crops. “Greenpeace opposition to Golden Rice was especially persistent, vocal, and extreme, perhaps because Golden Rice was a GM crop that had so much going for it,” he states.

Full story

100 Nobel laureates warn Greenpeace of “crime against humanity” on GMOs
Laureates Letter Supporting Precision Agriculture (GMOs)

“WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice
specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?

3) Joel Kotkin: Prepare For Climate Stalinism
City Journal, 25 October 2019

Climate activists increasingly embrace post-democratic notions

The Left’s fixation on climate change is cloaked in scientism, deploying computer models to create the illusion of certainty. Ever more convinced of their role as planetary saviors, radical greens are increasingly intolerant of dissent or any questioning of their policy agenda. They embrace a sort of “soft Stalinism,” driven by a determination to remake society, whether people want it or not—and their draconian views are penetrating the mainstream. “Democracy,” a writer for Foreign Policy suggests, constitutes “the planet’s biggest enemy.”

Today’s working and middle classes are skeptical about policies that undermine their livelihoods in the promise of distant policy goals. Even now, after a decade-long barrage of fear-mongering, a majority of Americans, Australians, and even Europeans doubt that climate change will affect their lives substantially. A recent UN survey of 10 million people found that climate change ranked 16th in concerns; most people in the developing world, notes environmental economist Bjorn Lonborg, “care about their kids not dying from easily curable diseases, getting a decent education, not starving to death.”

Like other people in high-income countries, most Americans want to improve the environment and many, if not most, are concerned about the potential impact of climate change. But they still rank climate as only their 11th leading concern, behind not just health care and the economy but also immigration, guns, women’s rights, the Supreme Court, taxes, income, and trade. A recent Harris-Harvard poll found that three-fifths of Americans reject the portfolio of Green New Deal policies, including a third of Democrats and half of people under 25.

Simply put, once the current green agenda is understood in terms of its impact on jobs and energy prices, it does not play well. In recent Australian elections, voters soundly rejected a progressive agenda that targeted suburban residents and the country’s large fossil-fuel industry. Opposition was particularly strong in primarily blue-collar areas like Australia’s Queensland. The results in Australia led local celebrities and pundits to brand their fellow citizens as unremittingly “dumb.”

Areas dependent on energy and manufacturing—such as AppalachiaOntario, Alberta, the U.S. Midwest, and the British midlands, have pushed back against the prospective green regime. Even Germany has seen mounting opposition to green policies, which have sent the country’s powerful industrial base reeling from the associated high energy costs. But it’s not just miners, oil-riggers, and factory hands resisting the greens. French residents trying to make a living outside central Paris, and their counterparts in normally placid places like Norway and the Netherlands, have taken to the streets, sometimes violently.

Imagine what will happen if a President Elizabeth Warren bans fracking in places like Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania; in Texas alone, by some estimates, 1 million jobs would be lost. Overall, according to a Chamber of Commerce report, a full ban would cost 14 million jobs—far more than the 8 million lost in the Great Recession. And the environment itself would be somewhat of a loser in this game—natural gas has done more to reduce emissions than all the greens’ efforts.

Across the world, green-backed policies have hurt the working class far more than the affluent rich who most enthusiastically embrace them. The militant Extinction Rebellion—which the online magazine Spiked has described as “an upper-middle-class death cult”—has tried to disrupt commuters in Britain in their drive to “save the planet” but has earned more angry contempt than support from harried workers. Though cast by the media as heroic outsiders, greens have historically clustered in elite academic, nonprofit, media, and corporate sectors. The influential Limits to Growth, published in 1972 by the Club of Rome, was backed by major corporate interests, led by Fiat’s Aurelio Peccei.

The authors’ long-term vision, based on the notion that the planet was running out of resources at a rapid rate, was to create “a carefully controlled balance” that would restrict growth, particularly in advanced countries.

Whatever its failings, twentieth-century socialism was growth-oriented and in principle devoted to expanding working-class wealth. In contrast, the green version of socialism consciously seeks to depress the average family’s prospects, since prosperity will generate more greenhouse gases. Some zealots, such as the Guardian’s George Monbiot, argue in favor of economic recession as a way to reduce carbon emissions, even if it causes people to lose their jobs and homes.

Draconian climate austerity does not threaten the jobs of the so-called “clean rich,” who may benefit as investors in solar and wind energy, the trading of carbon offsets, and other activities of the “climate industrial complex.” Some old-style leftists, like British Marxist historian James Heartfield, see the emergence of “green capitalism” as a new ruse for the upper classes to suppress the lower by creating artificial scarcity in everything from energy to housing and food.

Greens seek to restrict air travel for the masses, but climate activists like Prince Charles, Richard Branson, Leonardo di Caprio, the rapper Drake, and Al Gore continue to fly in private jets, even to climate-crisis summits. They enjoy, and develop, luxury resorts far from population centers, and consume prodigiously while imploring the rest of us to curb our more modest habits.

Full post

4) Blackouts: California’s Electric Car Dream Is Turning Into A Nightmare, 23 October 2019

California might be blazing a trail with getting a large number of electric vehicles on the road, but the only trail California is currently blazing is the wildfire/PG&E fiasco that could once again plunge millions of Californians into the dark in the next wave of blackouts, the likes of which could sour investor confidence in purchasing a vehicle that relies on sketchy power sources.

It’s windy in dry California, and apparently that’s enough to trigger another preemptive blackout for PG&E customers. For starters, PG&E will cut power to 179,000 residents on Wednesday.

But it’s not just PG&E. Other utilities, too, such as Edison International and Sempra, are also expected to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of Californians who are in an area that is notoriously dry, with winds expected to combine with those dry conditions to create too much of a fire risk.

The result? A blackout akin to the Venezuela 2019 blackouts that kept millions in the dark.

The blackouts—which one might expect from a third-world or mismanaged nation such as Venezuela or even Pakistan, which leads the world in the number of annual blackouts—are life and death for some California residents, and the problem isn’t expected to be resolved anytime soon. But it also may mean life and death for California’s plan to encourage residents to adopt EVs.

Unlike third-world blackouts, critical California operations such as medical facilities are all equipped with backup generators for times of outage. But residents who rely on electricity to power medical devices are at great risk. And EV owners may find themselves stranded.

Full post

5) Roger Pielke Jr: The World is Not Going To Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions by 50% By 2030, Now What?
Forbes, 27 October 2019

Anyone advocating a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 is engaging in a form of climate theater, full of drama but not much suspense.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Specifically, “Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.” Since then, many advocates and policy makers have proposed that target as a political goal.

Here I’ll show you the simple mathematics of what achieving the 2030 target entails. The evidence shows clearly that the world is far from being on a path that will come anywhere close to that goal. That is not an opinion, it is just math.

Of course, climate change poses risks to our future, and aggressive mitigation and adaptation policies make good sense. So getting policy making right is important.
Let’s begin with a few key numbers as starting points.

According to the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in 2018 the world consumed in total almost 14,000 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe). That energy supports the lives, hopes, aspirations of more than 7 billion people.

Like wealth, energy consumption is deeply unequal around the world, and many who do not have access to a full range of energy products and services are working hard to secure that access. So we should expect energy demand to continue to grow over the next decade. From 2000 to 2018, according to BP, consumption grew at about 2.2% per year, and ranged from a drop of 1.4% in 2009 to an increase of 4.9% in 2004. In the analysis below, I use an assumed 2.2% growth per year to 2030.

Here I focus on carbon dioxide from the consumption of fossil fuels, coal, natural gas and oil, and ignore emissions from the use of land. When combusted, fossil fuels emit different amounts of carbon dioxide. Coal by far emits the most. In 2018 about 27% of total global energy consumption came from coal, but according to the Global Carbon Project, coal accounts for about 40% of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

To simplify the analysis, I assume that emissions reduction targets will be met through reductions in fossil fuel consumption which occur across all fossil fuels. That allows us to equate a reduction in fossil fuel consumption with a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It also keeps us from misinterpreting a reduction in emissions from a switch from coal to natural gas. If the ultimate goal is net-zero carbon dioxide, then eventually all energy consumption will have to be carbon-free, meaning that carbon dioxide-emitted natural gas will have to also be eliminated.

Full post

6) The Long History Of Eco-Pessimism
Spiked, 25 October 2019 

Climate change isn’t the first eco-apocalyptic idea, and it won’t be the last.

Pierre Desrocher and Joann Szurmak

In December last year, veteran naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough warned attendees at the United Nations climate-change summit that the ‘collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon’.

This pronouncement was very much in keeping with Attenborough’s long-standing neo-Malthusian views, from his insistence that he has ‘never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more’, or his fondness for heterodox economist Kenneth Boulding’s saying that ‘anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist’.

Attenborough’s remarks generated some pushback, both on the grounds that not even the IPCC predicts such a dire outcome, and that his warning of imminent catastrophe is at odds with the positive trends observable in public health, climatereforestation and other environmental data. Critics could also have pointed out that warnings of incoming climate apocalypse are much older than the global cooling scare of the 1970s. As the biogeographer Philip Stott observed, ‘every age has viewed climate change cataclysmically, as retribution for human greed and sinfulness’.

Needless to say, climate Armageddon is just one among many predicted environmental catastrophes that somehow failed to materialise. Indeed, such prophecies of doom have almost always accompanied the development of disruptive technologies over the past two centuries.

Why is it, then, that 93-year-old Attenborough, a man who has lived through an endless stream of failed eco-catastrophic pronouncements, remains so enamoured of them despite all the evidence to the contrary? What makes this especially puzzling is that he came of age during a period dominated by a ‘global soil erosion’ scare, which lasted roughly from the time of his birth to the turn of the 1960s. This now largely forgotten episode is well worth revisiting. First, because it shows how, like today, the eco-catastrophist narrative can dominate academic and policymaking discourse, and grip parts of the public imagination. And secondly because it illustrates how a minority of dissenters who believe in technological progress can – and often do – turn out to be right against a powerful and influential group of pessimists.

The global soil-erosion scare

In the words of agricultural economist Dennis Avery, soil erosion ‘has been threatening since man scratched the first seedbed with a stick’ (1). Indeed, population growth, deforestation and soil erosion form the main backdrops of the oldest known written story, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Plato later lamented that Athens’ backcountry, whose hills had once been ‘covered with soil’, the plains ‘full of rich earth’, and the mountains displaying an ‘abundance of wood’, had been turned, after years of abuse, into a landscape that could ‘only afford sustenance to bees’, because all the ‘richer and softer parts of the soil [had] fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land [was all that was] left’.

In the middle of the 19th century, the American naturalist and diplomat George Perkins Marsh observed in his classic Man and Nature that, besides historical records that documented the past fertility of the regions stretching from Spain and North Africa to Mesopotamia and Armenia, the ‘multitude and extent of yet remaining architectural ruins, and of decayed works of internal improvement’ all pointed towards ‘former epochs [when] a dense population inhabited those now lonely districts’. It could only have been sustained, he concluded, ‘by a productiveness of soil of which we at present discover but slender traces’.

Full post

7) And Finally: Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident
NBER Working Paper No. 26395, October 2019

Matthew J. Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida, Marcella Veronesi

This paper provides a large scale, empirical evaluation of unintended effects from invoking the precautionary principle after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. After the accident, all nuclear power stations ceased operation and nuclear power was replaced by fossil fuels, causing an exogenous increase in electricity prices. This increase led to a reduction in energy consumption, which caused an increase in mortality during very cold temperatures. We estimate that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself.

Full paper ($)

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

No comments: