Thursday, December 20, 2018

Academic freedom at UW

A few days ago on this site (scroll down) I put up an article about the persecution of Cliff Mass, a climate scientist at the University of Washington who believes  in global warming to a degree but objects to it becoming a honeypot for its disciples. The persecution seems to have amplified since then so Don Easterbrook has written in support of him. The support is in the form of a letter sent to the UW president, dean, and faculty secretary. Easterbrook is a UW grad. He is incensed about the blatant violation of the official UW policy on academic freedom.  The letter is below:

The most precious aspect of a university is academic freedom, providing a forum for free and open discussion of any subject. I have always taken for granted that a university is a place where open exchange of ideas and debate was encouraged, not suppressed. But as a UW grad (PhD)and long-time financial contributor to the UW, I am totally disgusted by the way the academic freedom of Cliff Mass of the Atmospheric Sciences Dept is being trashed by department chairman Dale Durran. Prof Mass posted a blog stating why he thought I-1631 was not a good bill. Chairman Dale Durran then called a department meeting about the blog post Mass wrote, with the event billed as ‘controversy.’ An ombudsperson was enlisted to run the meeting, but chairman Durran took over the meeting, serving as inquisitor and critic. He prevented Mass from finishing his opening comments and harassed Mass throughout the meeting. Professor Mass was the subject of insulting, personal, inappropriate remarks. An attack on his academic freedom is an attack on the academic freedom of all faculty.

This treatment of a UW faculty member is totally against the UW official policy of academic freedom (Section 4-33), which states “Academic freedom is the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in teaching, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to shared governance and the general welfare of the University. Faculty members have the right to academic freedom and the right to examine and communicate ideas by any lawful means even should such activities generate hostility or pressure against the faculty member or the University. Their exercise of constitutionally protected freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including participation in political activities, does not constitute a violation of duties to the University, to their profession, or to students and may not result in disciplinary action or adverse merit evaluation.”

Chairman Durran has clearly violated this official UW policy. May I therefore ask if you intend to discipline him, and what do you intend to do to restore Professor Mass’s academic freedom?

Email from Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, Professor of Geology, Western Washington University

Environmental Protection Agency Gives $45,000 Grant to Help Non-Profit Build Sea Turtle-Shaped Trash Can

The movement to crack down on plastic straws is finally getting a little financial help from the federal government, which last week announced that it would be spending tens of thousands of dollars to help build a see-through mesh trash receptacle shaped like a sea turtle.

On December 4, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $2.57 million in grants to environmental nonprofit groups in New York and Connecticut working to clean up Long Island Sound. The recipients include the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), whose "Going Strawless to Save the Sea Turtle" campaign received $45,000 in federal cash.

The EPA's press release announcing the awards says CCE will use that money to "conduct comprehensive public education to reduce the use of plastic." As part of this campaign, CCE will collect up to 500 pledges from people promising to use less plastic, and organize a beach clean-up involving roughly 200 volunteers.

CCE's Executive Director Adrienne Esposito told Newsday that refuse from beach clean-ups will be deposited in a mesh sea turtle statue which is also being funded by the federal grant.

According to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a Congressionally-chartered organization responsible for administering the EPA's Long Island Sound clean-up grants, the sea turtle trash statue portion of the project serves an important educational role.

"The waste receptacle is viewed as a creative and targeted strategy [to] educate the general public, and especially youth about the negative impact of plastic debris on the living resources and recreational uses of Long Island Sound," the NFWF said in a statement to Reason.

It's not clear how much of the $45,000 in federal grants will be eaten up by the trash turtle statue. CCE did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The environmental group's federal grant is being supplemented by $45,000 in non-federal matching funds.

Needless to say, $45,000 in federal spending is not going to break the bank. And while I am critical of the focus on plastic straws, CCE's plans for a voluntary coastal clean up are laudable. Nevertheless, federal taxpayers should not be on the hook for such projects.


Follow the (Climate Change) Money
The first iron rule of American politics is: Follow the money. This explains, oh, about 80 percent of what goes on in Washington.

Shortly after the latest “Chicken Little” climate change report was published last month, I noted on CNN that one reason so many hundreds of scientists are persuaded that the sky is falling is that they are paid handsomely to do so.

I said, “In America and around the globe governments have created a multibillion dollar climate change industrial complex.” And then I added: “A lot of people are getting really, really rich off of the climate change industry.” According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.”

This doesn’t mean that the planet isn’t warming. But the tidal wave of funding does reveal a powerful financial motive for scientists to conclude that the apocalypse is upon us. No one hires a fireman if there are no fires. No one hires a climate scientist (there are thousands of them now) if there is no catastrophic change in the weather. Why doesn’t anyone in the media ever mention this?

But when I lifted this hood, it incited more hate mail than from anything I’ve said on TV or written. Could it be that this rhetorical missile hit way too close to home?

How dare I impugn the integrity of scientists and left-wing think tanks by suggesting that their findings are perverted by hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer handouts. The irony of this indignation is that any academic whose research dares question the “settled science” of the climate change complex is instantly accused of being a shill for the oil and gas industry or the Koch brothers.

Apparently, if you take money from the private sector to fund research, your work is inherently biased, but if you get multimillion-dollar grants from Uncle Sam, you are as pure as the freshly fallen snow.

How big is the climate change industrial complex today? Surprisingly, no one seems to be keeping track of all the channels of funding. A few years ago, Forbes magazine went through the federal budget and estimated about $150 billion in spending on climate change and green energy subsidies during President Obama’s first term.

That didn’t include the tax subsidies that provide a 30 percent tax credit for wind and solar power — so add to those numbers about $8 billion to $10 billion a year. Then add billions more in costs attributable to the 29 states with renewable energy mandates that require utilities to buy expensive “green” energy.

Worldwide the numbers are gargantuan. Five years ago, a leftist group called the Climate Policy Initiative issued a study that found that “global investment in climate change” reached $359 billion that year. Then to give you a sense of how money-hungry these planet-saviors are, the CPI moaned that this spending “falls far short of what’s needed” a number estimated at $5 trillion.

For $5 trillion we could feed everyone on the planet, end malaria, and provide clean water and reliable electricity to every remote village in Africa. And we would probably have enough money left over to find a cure for cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The entire Apollo project to put a man on the moon cost less than $200 billion. We are spending twice that much every year on climate change.

This tsunami of government money distorts science in hidden ways that even the scientists who are corrupted often don’t appreciate. If you are a young eager-beaver researcher who decides to devote your life to the study of global warming, you’re probably not going to do your career any good or get famous by publishing research that the crisis isn’t happening.

But if you’ve built bogus models that predict the crisis is getting worse by the day, then step right up and get a multimillion-dollar grant.

Now here’s the real scandal of the near trillion dollars that governments have stolen from taxpayers to fund climate change hysteria and research. By the industry’s own admission, there has been almost no progress worldwide in combatting climate change. The latest reports by the U.S. government and the United Nations say the problem is getting worse, and we have not delayed the apocalypse by a single day.

Has there ever been such a massive government expenditure that has had such miniscule returns on investment? After three decades of “research” the only “solution” is for the world to stop using fossil fuels, which is like saying that we should stop growing food.

Really? The greatest minds of the world entrusted with hundreds of billions of dollars can only come up with a solution that would entail the largest government power grab in world history, shutting down industrial production (just look at the catastrophe in Germany when they went all in for green energy), and throwing perhaps billions of human beings into poverty? If that’s the remedy, I will take my chances on a warming planet.

President Donald Trump should tell these so-called scientists that “you’re fired.” And we taxpayers should demand our money back.


How Can We Address Climate Change? Here Are Three Ideas

A social media challenge that went around not long ago asked people “what three things will you do to combat climate change?” If you google the phrase, you get tons of results. Here are three suggestions--they are by no means an exhaustive list, but I think these would all be positive steps.

1. Get out of the way of nuclear energy. The climate is changing because we’re turning carbon dioxide currently stored underground into carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Even advances like electric cars aren’t going to do that much because they just move the emissions from the tailpipes of the cars on the road to the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants.

We could avoid a lot of these emissions by removing barriers to more widespread adoption of nuclear energy. Technological advances have made reactors far safer and, importantly, have made it easy to store waste safely, as well. Nuclear is also far safer per unit of energy generated: the number of deaths per kilowatt of nuclear energy is a fraction of a fraction of the number of deaths per kilowatt of other energy sources, particularly coal.

2. Stop encouraging and subsidizing rural living. In his 2011 book Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, and Happier, the economist Edward Glaeser asks people to consider who lived more sustainably: urbanites or Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond (see also his 2011 article “New Land of Opportunity” here)? Compared to the urban Bostonian Thoreau’s adventures in the rural idyll were an environmental disaster (in part because he burned a ton of forestland). Urban environmental footprints are far smaller than rural environmental footprints for a whole host of reasons, and by using tax and regulatory policy to encourage people to move to or stay in rural areas we are actually subsidizing climate change rather than fighting it. Policy should be aimed at moving under-served populations to services like health care, transportation, and high-speed internet rather than moving these services to under-served populations. If someone wants to live next to Walden Pond or in rural Alabama, I certainly won’t object; however, I will expect them to bear the full cost of their lifestyle choices. And that brings us to the last suggestion.

3. Stop discouraging new development—especially of housing—in urban areas, and really especially in places with moderate temperatures.Regulations making it prohibitively expensive to build new housing in places like the Bay Area and the northeast corridor are turning these regions into private enclaves for the rich and powerful. The climate effect is that we get less density and considerable misallocation of land that would be better used for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes. Urban growth boundaries and greenbelts and strict regulations might look environmentally friendly, but I think this is an illusion. “Greenbelts” around cities that are there to preserve farm and forest lands have the unintended consequences of raising housing prices within the green belt and potentially pushing commuters beyond the greenbelt where they then drive farther—from Guelph to Toronto, for example. When you make something more expensive, people search for substitutes, and as Glaeser points out, housing in cities like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta where air conditioning is practically a necessity is a substitute for housing in cities like San Francisco where people regularly do without it. NIMBY--Not In My Back Yard--has persisted for far too long. Let’s say “YIMBY” instead.


Australian Big Green can afford to buy what it wants

Climate change is already shaping up to be a major election issue and a $495,000 donation to GetUp spells trouble for the beleaguered Adani coal mine.

Environmental group The Sunrise Project is providing the money to support its efforts to make climate change the number one issue at the next federal election.

Former Greenpeace activist John Hepburn, who is the founder and executive director of The Sunrise Project, said people had lost faith in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s capacity to effectively tackle climate change.

“The community is crying out for political leaders who will stand up to multinational corporations like Adani which wants to force through its climate-wrecking projects, putting at risk Queensland’s precious water resources and adding fuel to the fire, cooking an already distressed Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Hepburn said.

“Political leadership is what’s needed to put a stop to Adani’s controversial coal mine. The world just can’t afford to mine and burn the coal from the Galilee Basin which is one of the largest untapped coal reserves in the world. If we do we will see even more dangerous climate change and extreme weather events in Australia such as fires, storms and droughts.”

The Sunrise Project has been lobbying for the transition away from fossil fuels and previously campaigned to stop Adani’s Carmichael coal mine from going ahead. It generally keeps a low profile, working to co-ordinate efforts between different groups.

The organisation gets part of its funding from the US-based charitable trust, the Sandler Foundation, which has led to it being criticised for being part of a co-ordinated push against coal.

Its $495,000 donation will be used to lobby for action on climate change and will be a significant contribution to GetUp’s election war chest.

In the past year GetUp has received $10 million in donations but national director Paul Oosting said most of its funding came from everyday people who pay on average $17 or less. He said last financial year more than 104,905 individuals donated to GetUp.

“This support will help supercharge the great work GetUp members are already doing to make climate action a reality,” Mr Oosting said. “For politicians standing in the way of climate action, this summer promises to be unbearable.”

The collaboration is an ominous sign for climate change deniers as GetUp has shown itself to be an effective campaigner.

GetUp helped to make climate change an issue in the Wentworth by-election, contributing to the win by independent Dr Kerryn Phelps in the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat.

About 78 per cent of Wentworth voters surveyed in an exit poll commissioned by The Australia Institute said climate change had some influence on their vote.

In the four weeks leading up the poll GetUp members made more than 90,000 phone calls to voters in the electorate and more than 300 volunteers handed out how to vote cards.

The donation also puts Adani on notice that protests about its proposed Carmichael coal mine will continue, despite it announcing a scaled-back project.

GetUp believes the public don’t want Adani to go ahead.

Mr Oosting pointed to a recent ReachTel poll of 2345 Australians commissioned by the Stop Adani Alliance that found 40 per cent “strongly agreed” that digging new coal mines in Australia was no longer in the national interest as it was making climate change worse. Overall the poll conducted on December 4 found 56.3 per cent agreed and 27.7 per cent didn’t agree.

Mr Oosting said Australia was recently ranked the fifth worst performing country in the world when it came to climate action.

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index ranked Australia 55 out of 60 countries for climate change action, putting it in the same group as the United States and Saudi Arabia.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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