Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Climate justice campaign resembles a pagan cult

They believe it is better that a human life be lost than risk offending the climate gods

If, as Edmund Burke said, man is by his constitution a religious animal, then it stands to reason that even if he should cast off true religion, the religious sensibilities remain. The need to believe, to be part of a community, to revere moral rectitude, to condemn offences against the moral code: these persist. In the last few weeks, all these features have been evident in the “climate justice” movement. Despite describing itself as based on science, it is increasingly evident that it has become a cult – and a pagan cult at that.

What are some of the hallmarks of paganism? Obvious examples that spring to mind include nature worship, ritual sacrifices and doomsday prophecies, all of which are present in the climate justice cult.

Christianity has always maintained that mankind, as steward of creation, has a responsibility to care for our common home. It is an obligation that is imposed not for the sake of the world itself, but to give glory to its creator and because of the many benefits it confers on us. By contrast, the climate justice cult worships nature. It values the Earth and nature as ends in themselves, subjugating human beings and treating humanity as a problem to be solved for the good of the planet.

Which brings us to the second characteristic: ritual sacrifice. In its less extreme form, this involves quasi-religious practices such as abstaining from meat to demonstrate moral purity and in the hope of satisfying the gods. We have also heard from groups of women on “birthstrike”, who have committed not to bear children – for the sake of the planet. These vestal virgins will ensure that there will be no pitter-patter of carbon footprints on the face of the Earth. We have reached a stage where the young are being encouraged to believe that it is shameful to bring new life into the world.

Human sacrifice

One of the US Democrat party presidential hopefuls, Bernie Sanders, has even gone so far as to propose abortion as a solution to the problem presented by humanity, which is to say, the problem caused by poor women having babies. In answer to a question concerning how population growth should be addressed as a major contributor to “climate catastrophe”, he immediately cited the ready availability of abortion in the United States as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

Thanos is the villain whose response to the universe’s resources being overstretched is simply to annihilate half the population
This is nothing short of human sacrifice to appease the sun-god. It is the morality of Thanos. In the Marvel cinematic universe, Thanos is the villain whose response to the universe’s resources being overstretched is simply to annihilate half the population.

And as for the prophecies, we cannot escape the lurid warnings of our imminent destruction. Every media report is laden with dark omens, calculated to induce terror, even panic. Unless we repent and change our ways, we are doomed.

This world view is the direct opposite of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. By contrast with the climate justice cult, which values the planet above all else, the Judaeo-Christian tradition puts the ultimate value on the human soul. In the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, every individual is worth more than the entire universe. The world and all its beauty is there for the use and enjoyment of human beings. The world will end one day – although, contrary to media reports, it is unlikely to be anytime soon. The human soul, however, lives forever. The universe is God’s gift to mankind. It deserves to be looked after as the common home of the human race. But the climate cult’s propensity to elevate the care of natural resources above the lives of human beings is a subversion of true morality.

Which is why it is so disappointing to see the Catholic Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, the men entrusted to carry the torch lit by St Patrick – in defiance of the pagan druids – jumping on board the solar-powered climate justice bandwagon. In a press release, they say they stand with those on the global climate strike, and call for a radical ecological conversion. Another press release from the Catholic Communications Office to mark the “Season of Creation”, states that, unless we listen to David Attenborough, much of the world will be uninhabitable in 100 years’ time.

Sin and recycling

It is tempting to point out that much of the world is – and always has been – uninhabitable and actually that it is the ingenuity of man that has allowed human beings to live in areas that otherwise would be completely unsuitable for occupation. It is almost as if human beings – even non-believers – were obeying God’s command to fill the Earth and subdue it.

Nonetheless, the same press release tells us that “Recycling is no longer an optional habit; it is the very basic and nothing more. Illegal dumping needs to be exposed and uncovered. Incorrect recycling needs to be corrected, what goes where and into which bin.” While I have recycled for many years and support such initiatives, I was of the view that I was answerable to the local council rather than to the episcopate for any failures. Is recycling to be added to the litany of sins to be confessed by Catholics, and if so, into which category must it be sorted – venial or mortal?

Here is the thing: if you have to add another word before “justice”, you are no longer talking about justice. Justice is sufficient unto itself.

In the climate cult, in contrast to the Christian beatitudes, it is the rich who shall inherit the Earth, living in their A-rated houses and driving their electric cars. The poor in developing countries – who often suffer from unreliable electricity supplies and whose hospitals may have to rely on even less reliable back-up generators – will be told “Too bad – no coal or oil-powered electricity for you.” Never mind that the ventilator might run out of power mid-surgery. Better that a human life be lost than risk offending the climate gods.


Is climate alarmism tearing itself apart?

First it was AOC and the Sunrise Movement versus Pelosi and the moderate Democrats in Congress. Now it is Greta Thunberg and the so-called youth movement versus the UN and the world’s major governments. Between the moderates in power and the new radicals, climate alarmism has split wide open. This has to hurt the cause, which is a good thing indeed.

The global split happened with elegant quickness. On Friday a million or more climate extremists marched around the world. On Monday, at UN headquarters, Greta Thunberg denounced the major world governments to their faces, while they dutifully explained that they had no new ambitions. The contrast between radicals and moderates was hilarious, and telling.

The problem for the alarmists is enormous. The new radicals are making demands that are impossible, not just politically but technologically. Complete decarbonization of the global economic system by 2030, for example.

To make matters worse, the radical climate alarmists have been joined by the social justice warriors, creating the nonsensical goal of climate justice. There has always been a vague undercurrent of this in UN climate deliberations, but now social justice is front and center, vying with decarbonization in the goal department.

The moderates are trying to press on but their efforts are being denounced by the extremists. Germany just wrought, with great political difficulty, what the moderates consider a bold new climate action plan. It was immediately denounced as trivial by the extremists. Realism is verboten.

How is the alarmist establishment to handle this schism? At this point their biggest enemy is not the skeptics; it is the extremists. Fighting on two fronts is politically damaging at best.

But it remains to be seen just how enduring and active the radical wing really is. Greta, AOC and the big rallies may just be a green flash in the pan. In fact AOC seems to have faded from view already.

Perhaps the next big test will be the upcoming UN Climate Summit in Chile, beginning late November. Unlike Monday’s no action one-day Climate Summit, the Chile meeting is the real deal, the annual formal negotiations under the Paris Accord. These annual meetings are each called a Conference of the Parties (to the UN global climate change treaty) or COP. They routinely draw 20,000 negotiating delegates, from almost 200 countries, and last well over a week.

By coincidence this will be an especially humdrum COP and Chile is far away from the centers of extremism. The 2018 COP was a biggie, because it worked out the detailed rules for the Paris Agreement. The 2020 COP will be a monster for two reasons. First, all the governments are supposed to come up with new, Soviet style, 5 year plans, with greater ambition than their first plan. Second, a mythical $100 billion a year is supposed to start flowing from the developed countries, like America, to the developing countries, including China. Moderate alarmism might even collapse under these twin pressures.

But in Chile this year there are no big issues on the table, just a lot of detail work. So the big question is will the new radical wave rise up in the wake of the 2018 COP? If not then they might lose momentum.

Or they might save their collective strength for the U.S. Presidential race and the 2020 COP. I imagine the radical leaders are already discussing these options, or as soon as they finish partying.

In this context one interesting possibility is that the radicals will support a third party green candidate in the U.S. presidential election, as well as green challengers to moderate Democrat incumbents (as AOC did). I can easily imagine Bernie Sanders running for president as an independent, if he fails to get the Democrat nomination, which is likely.

If the radicals bolt the Democratic Party and split the liberal tickets it will be very good news for the President Trump and Republicans. This is the potential upside to the new green extremism.

As things stand now the climate alarmist movement is coming apart at the seams. I say let her rip.


Will Haiti's Revolution Be the First Blamed on Climate Change?

The country of Haiti is convulsed by growing unrest, with thousands taking to the streets to demand the ouster of U.S.-backed President Jovenel Moise. The issues are familiar to the impoverished nation: food and fuel shortages, a mismanaged economy, and rampant corruption.

But also driving the protests has been the government's response to several severe storms and hurricanes that have ravaged the island nation. Destroyed housing and businesses have not been rebuilt and the frustration of the people in their government's malfeasance and incompetence has boiled over.

As usual, class envy has played a role in the violence.

Al Jazeera:

In the wealthier neighbourhoods of Delmas and Petion Ville, angry crowds also looted several stores, banks and money transfer offices, ATMs and pharmacies. They also set a building on fire.
Crowds stripped the abandoned police station in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince's poorest neighbourhood, of sheet metal roofing, furniture and police protection equipment.

A ruling party senator tried to disperse demonstrators when he fired a pistol into a crowd of protesters outside of parliament, wounding a reporter. The police used tear gas and live ammunition yesterday, trying to break up the protests. Moise cancelled his speech to the United Nations General Assembly and delivered an emotional address to the nation, firing several security aides for human rights violations and proposing a unity government.

That doesn't look likely. The police are losing control of the streets and Moise's days may be numbered.

But what sets this revolution apart from others is the apparent blame being cast -- not on people, but on the climate.

The crisis started last year and was compounded by natural disasters that have repeatedly devastated the island nation. Hurricanes destroyed housing, food production, livelihoods and infrastructure and a severe drought dried up the island's water resources.

While international media has focused on a familiar story of corruption and mismanagement, what lies beneath this debilitating crisis is much more serious - a deadly combination of neocolonialism, neoliberalism and climate injustice. Indeed, what is happening now in Haiti is extreme and should scare us all, as it foreshadows what could happen to the rest of the planet if we do not take immediate action.

The "immediate action" that should be taken is to find some honest, competent politicians to run the government. Other Caribbean nations have been hit by the same storms as Haiti and yet, there's no revolution breaking out anywhere else. Even Cuba, which has more reason than most to stage an uprising, has been quiet.

Yes, there have been bad storms, but even a moderately competent government could have dealt with the crisis. For instance, the problem of fuel shortages is a result of Haiti's reliance on Venezuelan oil and overly-generous fuel subsidies. When the Venezuelan oil industry went belly up, Haiti was stuck having to buy oil on the open market. Already massively in debt, shortages were inevitable.

Removing fuel subsidies should have alleviated the crisis, instead, the graft and outright theft of oil resulted in too little oil going to too few people.

And then there's "climate injustice." Asking Haiti to follow emission rules despite the fact that they contribute less than 0.02% in carbon emissions to the world total, is monumentally stupid. Haiti needs to revive its economy and it's not going to do it by adhering to artificial emission limits placed on what little industry there is.

With most of the Haitian economy is "off the books," new businesses don't have a chance to get started. It's not climate change that's driving the revolution. Haiti needs leadership and an elite that won't rob the people blind.


Climate protesters: If you want to save the planet, you should support capitalism not socialism

Employees in the D.C. area experienced an even worse-than-normal commute on Monday. No, the Metro wasn’t on fire again: Climate change protesters brought traffic to a virtual standstill in busy intersections around the city by physically blocking roads. Apparently they think you stop climate change by making cars sit idle in traffic for hours.

Notably, at least some of the protesters made anti-capitalism a key theme of their protests. In fact, one group of protesters prominently displayed a banner that read: “Capitalism is killing the planet.” As Ken Cuccinelli, who saw the banner from his office, rightly noted: “[W]hat [the protesters] are really against is capitalism and freedom.”

Climate protesters who rail against capitalism display woeful ignorance of history. Not only does socialism have a disastrous history when it comes to human rights, it also has a terrible environmental record because of central planning and the misallocation of resources.

“When historians finally conduct an autopsy of the Soviet Union and Soviet Communism, they may reach the verdict of death by ecoside,” wrote Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly in their 1992 book, Ecoside in the USSR: Health and Nature Under Siege. “For the modern era, indeed for any event except the mysterious collapse of the Mayan empire, it would be a unique but not an implausible conclusion.”

“No other great industrial civilization so systematically and so long poisoned its land, air, water, and people. None so loudly proclaiming its efforts to improve public health and protect nature so degraded both. And no advanced society faced such a bleak political and economic reckoning with so few resources to invest toward recovery,” they added.

Soviet irrigation projects quite literally caused what was once the fourth-largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea, to nearly dry up. The ecosystems around the sea have been ravaged as a result. Even years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the land had been so badly polluted that during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, visitors were warned not to use the water in their rooms.

Of course, pollution remains a problem in the other major state-run economy, China, which is, by far, the world’s largest carbon emitter and has been for more than a decade. It’s true that China has made some progress on renewable energy, yet, ironically, the environmental problems there have advanced to such a point that air pollution is preventing solar panels from being used to their full potential.

These examples from the now-former Soviet Union and China don’t even scratch the surface. There is ample research available on the high rates of certain diseases and respiratory illnesses in socialist nations as a result of decades of environmental disasters and pollution.

Meanwhile, carbon emissions in the United States in 2017 were down to a level not seen since 1993. As economist Mark Perry has noted, “For that impressive ‘greening’ of America, we can thank the underground oceans of America’s natural gas that are now accessible because of the revolutionary, advanced drilling and extraction technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal/directional drilling, and are increasingly displacing coal for the nation’s electricity generation.”

In a mostly-free economy, businesses are incentivized to conserve and properly allocate resources through market forces. Competition encourages innovation that produces more environmentally friendly products. Meanwhile, in socialist countries resources are allocated by a cumbersome bureaucracy that is slow to respond and lacks the incentive to improve. Socialist countries have, time and time again, misallocated resources, often with environmentally and economically disastrous — not to mention deadly — results.

At a time when protesters are calling for an end to capitalism, we should be studying socialism’s environmental record and its misallocation of resources to make sure similarly terrible ideas never catch hold here. Unfortunately, they may be on the rise: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s so-called Green New Deal has captured nearly 100 co-sponsors in the House and 14 in the Senate.

Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, accidentally revealed the sinister intent of the Green New Deal in May when he said, “[W]e really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” He’s right: The platform, if enacted, would represent a fundamental restructuring of the economy, allowing the federal government to allocate most of the nation’s resources, from housing to healthcare to transportation. The end result isn’t hard to predict, based on the environmental record of socialism. And it isn’t very “green” after all.

We should be concerned about the environment, and we should all strive to protect it. But we should embrace capitalism to accomplish this goal, not abandon it for socialism.


False alarm: the great Australian rainforest fire that wasn’t

A frightening image. Pristine rainforest that has not burned for millions of years is ablaze as bushfires of unprecedented intensity roar through the hinterland of southeast Queensland. It’s difficult to imagine a more graphic illustration of the consequences of ­climate change. That is what was widely portrayed during the ­region’s fire emergency earlier this month. The only problem is, it didn’t happen.

The destruction of ancient World Heritage-listed Gondwana subtropical and temperate rainforests by fire was reported unequivocally as fact. Guardian Australia proclaimed in a headline: “Like nothing we’ve seen: Queensland bushfires tear through rainforest.” The landscape of Lamington National Park surrounding the historic Binna Burra Lodge, which was destroyed in the fires, was “blackened remnants of what used to be lush rainforest”, reported the Australian Associated Press in a story carried by many news outlets.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is working on its sixth assessment report. Australian climate scientist Joelle Gergis, a lead author of the report, declared: “What I find particularly disturbing is that World Heritage rainforest is burning. It has been hard to watch news coverage of these exceptionally rare rainforests burning … the potential loss of these areas is something I never thought I would witness in my lifetime.”

Social media lit up with expressions of despair about the rainforest losses. Typical of the angst was a tweet insisting that any journalist interviewing the Prime Minister who failed to question the climate implications of Queensland rainforests burning “isn’t doing their f..king job”.

But the Gondwana rainforests, those priceless relics of times long gone, did not burn. No news coverage showed rainforest burning. The 20,600ha Lamington ­National Park in Queensland and the adjoining 31,700ha Border Ranges National Park in NSW ­encompass the largest expanse of subtropical rainforest in the world. As on countless occasions over the centuries, fire raging in surrounding eucalypt woodland did not ­destroy the rainforest.

To be sure, bushfires of such ­intensity in the region are unusual, especially in early spring; 16 homes were lost in southern Queensland. Unlike southeast Australia with its hot and dry summers, the subtropics are usually ­afforded a degree of protection by high humidity, an absence of prolonged periods of scorching temperatures, and generous rainfall which — as in much of the country — has been in short supply lately.

Binna Burra Lodge is not encircled by rainforest, as was claimed repeatedly. The lodge is surrounded on three sides by eucalypt woodland; it came close to being lost when a control burn 20 years ago got away. This time, ­explains Binna Burra chairman Steven ­Noakes: “The fire went tearing up a steep slope through eucalypt woodland and we’re perched on a ridge at the top. With those winds there was nothing we could do.”

A camping ground and teahouse that adjoin rainforest survived the inferno; flames did not extend beyond the lodge into rainforest. A few kilometres across Lamington National Park from Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s Rainforest ­Retreat was evacuated during the fire emergency. Unlike Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s is surrounded entirely by rainforest. O’Reilly’s manager, Shane O’Reilly, says there was no need for evacuation; the nearest fires were 15km away: “The rainforest here doesn’t burn. It was pretty much eucalypt country that burned … There’s a lot of emotion surrounding this.

“A story is being propagated that it’s more of an issue about rainforest than it is.”

O’Reilly adds that an international scientific symposium at the lodge in 2011 heard the rainforest had not burned for at least three million years.

Patrick Norman, a Griffith University PhD student and former Lamington park ranger, has analysed satellite data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite over burnt forest. The images indicate about 400ha of rainforest burned, but this was primarily dry rainforest at lower altitudes known as vine scrub. Burned areas also included wet sclerophyll, a forest type comprised of tall eucalypts with some rainforest plants.

“Drawing a line between rainforest and wet sclerophyll is a tricky task,’’ Norman says. “By and large, the rainforest that burned was on the drier end of the spectrum. I am quite confident no warm or cool temperate rainforest was burned.” The affected dry rainforest mostly burned lightly, with the ground layer impacted. Norman cautions that if the forests burn again in the foreseeable future there could be more serious impacts.

Kaye Healing, the Queensland Rural Fire Service acting southeast regional manager, played a central role in fighting the fires, which continue to smoulder. Healing says while fires “burn crazily” through eucalypt woodland, they tend to “walk through” vine scrub and wet sclerophyll forest. “When it gets to true rainforest, the fire self-extinguishes,’’ he says. “You’ve got a closed canopy in true rainforest and it holds moisture. The rainforest is not on fire. The fire is in dry eucalypt forest and woodland.”

Healing says similar conditions were experienced before, for ­instance in the early 1990s: “I’m not going to get into a climate-change conversation but climate varies between floods and drought in this country and historical records show that.”

Claims about Australian rainforest burning for the first time also circulated late last year when 121,000ha of land around Eungella National Park near Mackay were scorched. At the time, the ABC published a photograph of a fire-stricken area; the caption said it had been a “rich green subtropical rainforest”. Although it was pointed out that the area had been grassland and shrubs, the captioned photograph remains on ABC websites.

The ABC reported that Eungella rainforests were reduced to cinders and would take hundreds of years to recover. Rural Fire Service manager for the Mackay ­region Andrew Houley, a former forester, says rainforest that burned around Eungella was largely regrowth on cleared land. Recent images show tree ferns and some other rainforest plants regrowing. However, the heat was so intense that 10m-15m of the edge of pristine rainforest in places was destroyed before the fires stopped. Houley adds: “Headlines say the fires are once in a lifetime but these weather patterns affect us every 25 years or so.”

A crisis facing rainforest is under way not in Australia but in Southeast Asia, the Amazon Basin and central Africa. Huge tracts of forest are being intensively logged or bulldozed for livestock or crops. Extensively damaged rainforest remnants and felled trees are then burned. In some countries, such as Indonesia, sound environmental laws are in place but are largely unenforced or ignored. In others, such as Brazil, governments are unapologetically pursuing polices to develop rainforest. Australia is fortunate its World Heritage rainforests are standing tall.



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


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"Haiti needs leadership and an elite that won't rob the people blind."

That would be a first in the country's history.