Friday, October 11, 2019

"National Review" in legal trouble over global warming

The hard fact is this: We begin National Review’s 2019 Fall webathon against the backdrop of America’s most critical free-speech drama — Mann v. National Review. It’s our battle, yes, but it’s very much yours too, because the consequences of a courtroom defeat will be serious (an understatement if there ever was one) for all Americans. Hence we turn to you again for your financial support, to help us underwrite these critical legal efforts, on our behalf and yours, and also to help NR’s broader task of pouring unrelenting conservative fire on reinvigorated socialism, its full-throated advocates, and the apostles of Alinsky who prowl the world, seeking the ruin of souls and of America as our founders envisioned it.

Right now, the quite liberal District of Columbia Court of Appeals — which has refused to toss the case despite the Supreme Court’s clear and plentiful established rulings about free speech — has ordered this case to go to a jury trial. The seven-year process of reaching this verdict has come with a price tag of well over a million dollars. So far. That may be a down payment on the battle’s possibly enormous final tally.

The slow, meandering legal process (here is our most recent editorial, which provides the case synopsis) has nothing on the matter’s massive, looming impact on a fundamental right possessed no less by NR magazine editors than by every other American. Earlier this year, after all appeal options with the D.C. court had been exhausted, NR turned to the U.S. Supreme Court to ask the justices to hear the case and to protect free speech. Our pending cert petition — which SCOTUS will rule on, possibly this week (a yes means it will take the case, a no means the trial proceeds in the D.C. court) — made several important points. Please do read it. But here is the heart of its argument:

Yet, in this case, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that a jury could impose defamation liability on a conservative media outlet for opining that the risks of climate change were being overhyped by misleading statistical analyses. Petitioner National Review, Inc. published a blog post that criticized the so-called “hockey stick” graph created by Respondent Dr. Michael Mann, a scientist who is a leading voice in the climate-change debate. The validity of the graph has itself been the focus of intense argument, with its opponents objecting to its cherry-picking of data and apples-to-oranges comparisons. The blog post at issue decried the graph as “deceptive” and “fraudulent,” calling its creation “wrongdoing” and “misconduct.”

Remarkably, the Court of Appeals concluded that a jury could treat those statements as “provably false” representations of fact and impose liability, without offending the First Amendment. In that court’s view, a reasonable jury “could” construe the statements as conveying not only a subjective and non-falsifiable value judgment about the graph’s legitimacy, but also some (never-specified) objective, verifiable fact about Mann’s conduct or his “integrity.” In view of that supposed possible construction, the court remanded the defamation case for discovery and trial.

If the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling is allowed to stand, it will mean this: If someone doesn’t like what you say — yeah, you — and doesn’t like your opinion, that someone, bogusly aggrieved, can take you to court, one that is specially scouted and selected, and there a jury will be empowered to determine whether your opinion is right or wrong. And on a larger scale, to determine the rightness or wrongness of . . . climate-change policy? Immigration? Tax policy? Trade policy? What’s next: your Second Amendment rights? Your freedom to assemble? To worship? Is it that hard to conceive that a jury in a cherry-picked location might hold, Constitution be damned, a respected creed illegal, an ancient dietary practice verboten, a sacred rite wrong, a venerable charity a hate group? When will habeas be corpsed?

Hyperbolic language, this? Nope. This process puts our rights under threat, our voice behind a gag.

A few weeks back, Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn nailed the consequences of this fight NR is waging:

"In some senses the Mann suit may represent the perfect storm for litigation because so many consider climate science beyond question. The opinion of the appellate court, for example, carries the whiff of a religious authority rendering final judgment — the idea being that university faculties and other authorities have spoken so debate must be closed.

There’s also the venue. This lawsuit didn’t go through the federal courts but through D.C.’s equivalent of state courts, where judges and juries probably aren’t the friendliest to conservatives. With so many publications, think tanks and activists keeping offices in the nation’s capital, it isn’t hard to see how Washington could quickly become the venue for similar lawsuits.

The larger point is that while so-called climate deniers might be the first defendants, they are unlikely to be the last. If the D.C. ruling stands, National Review asks in its petition to the high court, what’s to prevent, say, Charles Koch from suing Greenpeace for accusing him of having funded a “junk study . . . loaded with lies and misrepresentations of actual climate change science”? Or Steve Bannon from founding a deep-pocketed organization to sue Trump opponents, and then shopping for a venue where a friendly jury might agree that an over-the-top opinion is a defamatory statement of fact?"

Whether the Supreme Court takes the case or it proceeds to trial in the D.C. court, there will be significant financial costs — above and beyond what our insurers bear — to NR. This being a mutual fight, we ask our readers, and any and all conservatives, and any and all believers in a vigorous First Amendment, to donate to our 2019 Fall webathon.

You can do this with assurance that NR’s combativeness is just as keen outside the courtroom. Look at some recent issues of the magazine: The current issue is an all-out take-down of Elizabeth Warren’s most egregious policy prescriptions; the issue prior to that focused on defending your Second Amendment rights; and earlier in the year we carpet-bombed socialism  right after making a full-throated defense of free markets.

This place built and maintained by Bill Buckley — its mandate to defend and expand conservatism, to hound and excoriate leftism, entrusted by Bill to us — remains vital. The fact that it remains is because of the help of many over the years. That need for help remains. There are plentiful reasons right now to come to NR’s aid, to join it in the foxhole and the cockpit, to stand with it on the ramparts and at the deck guns. The enemies of our beliefs — and yes, they are enemies — are plentiful, financed, and determined. We aim to withstand them and defeat them.

Donations towards the huge legal costs can be made here. I have donated.


Californians Stockpile Booze and Ice as PG&E Imposes Catastrophic Power Outages to Prevent Wildfires

All is not well on the West Coast. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), California's main supplier of power, is shutting off the grid for nearly a million Californians. This, they say, is necessary because of the high winds and peak conditions for wildfires over the next few days.

According to USA Today:

Pacific Gas and Electric said power was shut off to 513,000 Northern California homes and businesses early Wednesday. Another 234,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers will lose power at noon local time, and 42,000 customers in the southernmost areas of the company's reach could also go dark, the state's largest power company said.

The precautionary shutdown is expected to last through most of Thursday, and some areas could be without power longer as the utility ramps back up after the winds abate.

PG&E equipment was blamed for last year's deadly Camp Fire wildfires.

There doesn't seem to be any easy solution to the yearly wildfire season, and California policy has always seemed to work in opposition to fire safety. Environmentalists have, for decades, fought the clearing of underbrush that serves as fuel for these raging fires. Instead of doing basic maintenance, almost one million people will have to live without power. No one is ready for it.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that people are stocking up on liquor and few of them have safety readiness kits. One resident they spoke to said she "knew she was woefully unprepared for days without power. Despite living along an earthquake fault and within a half block of where the 1991 Oakland conflagration destroyed the whole neighborhood, Weld didn’t have a comprehensive emergency kit ready to go."

Californians are also pretty concerned about what the heck they'll do for entertainment. The unprepared woman told the Chronicle, "What did I used to do (before the Internet)? Board games, reading books, writing by hand?” Sounds horrific.

A liquor store worker, Paul Vasconcelos, told the Chronicle, "People are loading up on ice and water and booze. They’re going a little crazy, know what I mean?”

Well, if you don't have a first aid kit in the middle of one of the most volatile places in the United States, then you might as well get drunk as you die in a stupid accident that could have been avoided with some basic safety preparation.

This only solidifies my theory that the worst terror threat or natural disaster that could happen to America is a hit to our power grid. I would bet that 80 to 90 percent of all city-dwellers would die rather quickly. These are mostly people whose only skill is crushing it on Fortnite. Caring for themselves and surviving the brutality of nature without buttons that make things happen is way out of their wheelhouse. That doesn't have much to do with anything except to serve as a public service reminder that every human being should have basic survival skills. Earth is a dangerous place. Maybe instead of teaching fifth-graders every possible conglomeration of sex position in California, they should teach them how to survive a power outage, since this seems to be a thing that the state is going to inflict on unwilling people from now on.

The emergency shut-offs came into being in 2018 after PG&E was blamed for starting wildfires that had devastating consequences. One wonders if the executives at the power company ever thought of the devastating consequences that will happen to almost one million people without power. It isn't just the millennial dolts, who will most likely be okay, that will suffer. What about the elderly or anyone who relies on medical equipment that must be plugged in? What about the businesses that will lose all their inventory?

Wired reported:

A utility like PG&E is mandated to provide power because doing so isn’t just a matter of modern conveniences—it can be a matter of life and death. That’s especially true in the Golden State's mountain towns that are most at risk of catastrophic wildfire, many of which are retirement communities. The elderly may rely more heavily on medical appliances, and be more vulnerable to heatstroke without air conditioning. By preemptively cutting off power, you’re also potentially cutting off communication—if the power goes out and a wildfire starts, and TVs and internet routers don’t work, people could be at risk. Electric water pumps too would go offline, potentially hampering firefighting efforts.
That doesn't sound good.

The green folks are pretty angry about it too. Imagine how upsetting it is to find out that the tens of thousands of dollars you spent on solar panels will not help you one bit. According to the Chronicle, solar systems are also hooked into the grid. The only way anyone with a solar system would have power is if they had an onsite battery that had been storing it and even that wouldn't last very long.

Even experts like Daniel Swain, a scientist at UCLA, aren't sure about PG&E's plan. "Even if you prevent 90 percent of wildfire ignitions, the remaining fires could be just as bad or even worse,” Swain told Wired. “That still leaves us with the problem that the character and intensity of wildfires are changing. Even if we see fewer of them, we’ll still have catastrophic fires.”

In an effort to preempt catastrophic wildfires, PG&E is creating catastrophic power outages. Does anyone else see the problem here?



Idiotic Environmental Predictions

Walter E. Williams
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has published a new paper, “Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions.” Keep in mind that many of the grossly wrong environmentalist predictions were made by respected scientists and government officials. My question for you is: If you were around at the time, how many government restrictions and taxes would you have urged to avoid the predicted calamity?

As reported in The New York Times (Aug. 1969) Stanford University biologist Dr. Paul Erhlich warned: “The trouble with almost all environmental problems is that by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead. We must realize that unless we’re extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.”

In 2000, Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at University of East Anglia’s climate research unit, predicted that in a few years winter snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” In 2004, the U.S. Pentagon warned President George W. Bush that major European cities would be beneath rising seas. Britain will be plunged into a Siberian climate by 2020. In 2008, Al Gore predicted that the polar ice cap would be gone in a mere 10 years. A U.S. Department of Energy study led by the U.S. Navy predicted the Arctic Ocean would experience an ice-free summer by 2016.

In May 2014, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared during a joint appearance with Secretary of State John Kerry that “we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”

Peter Gunter, professor at North Texas State University, predicted in the spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness: “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions. … By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt’s 1970 prediction was, “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000.” He added, “This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Mark J. Perry, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, cites 18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970. This time it’s not about weather. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated that humanity would run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold and silver would be gone before 1990. Kenneth Watt said, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate … that there won’t be any more crude oil.”

There were grossly wild predictions well before the first Earth Day, too. In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior predicted that American oil supplies would last for only another 13 years. In 1949, the secretary of the interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight. Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous energy claims, in 1974, the U.S. Geological Survey said that the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas. However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that as of Jan. 1, 2017, there were about 2,459 trillion cubic feet of dry natural gas in the United States. That’s enough to last us for nearly a century. The United States is the largest producer of natural gas worldwide.

Today’s wild predictions about climate doom are likely to be just as true as yesteryear’s. The major difference is today’s Americans are far more gullible and more likely to spend trillions fighting global warming. And the only result is that we’ll be much poorer and less free.


Michael Mann, Katherine Hayhoe Erasing The Medieval Warm Period

Climate alarmists Michael Mann and Katharine Hayhoe have been caught using dubious, revisionist temperature data in their attempt, as one Climategate email author put it, to “deal a mortal blow” to the extensively documented Medieval Warm Period.

Before climate change became a political issue, it was scientifically well-established that a significant global warming event occurred between approximately 900 AD and 1200 AD.

For example, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) First Assessment Report presented a temperature history and visual graph documenting that the Medieval Warm Period existed and that it brought temperatures at least as warm as today (at pg. 7).

Multiple peer-reviewed studies provided additional confirmation of the Medieval Warm Period.

The warming climate of the Medieval Warm Period spurred abundant crop production, fewer extreme droughts and floods, growing human population, and improving living standards. The Little Ice Age terminated the Medieval Warm Period and brought devastating weather extremes, widespread crop failures, famines, plagues like the Black Death, and a contracting human population.

(For a good summary of the extensive benefits of the Medieval Warm Period and the devastating harms of the Little Ice Age, see the excellent book, “In the Wake of the Plage: The Black Death and the World It Created.”)

The existence of large historical temperature fluctuations, warmer temperatures than today, and many documented benefits of those warmer temperatures presented a powerful obstacle in alarmists’ attempts to brand our current modest warming an unprecedented climate crisis.

One of the many embarrassing emails leaked in the Climategate scandal showed how alarmists deliberately set a goal of eliminating the historical existence of the Medieval Warm Period.

Alarmist climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck wrote in an email to fellow alarmist Keith Briffa, “I get the sense that I’m not the only one who would like to deal a mortal blow to the misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths in the literature.”

Also, scientist David Deming testified to Congress that a prominent figure working in the field of climate change asserted to him, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

We have often been told that the science is settled. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to scientific data and evidence invalidating climate alarmism. Mann last month favorably retweeted an assertion that present temperatures are the warmest they have been for at least the past 5,000 years.

Hayhoe earlier this year gave a presentation in which she presented a graph (without any scientific citation) asserting temperatures steadily and consistently declined for 4,000 years – without any significant variation – prior to the warming of the past 120 years that finally and mercifully brought an end to the Little Ice Age (at 7:41).

As documented above, the existence of substantial historical climate variations such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were scientifically well-documented and not in dispute before climate activism politicized the issue.

Alarmist scientists were on record searching for justifications to eliminate these inconvenient climate variations that blew gaping holes in their alarmist theories. Now, conveniently, alarmists like Mann and Hayhoe claim the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and other well-documented warm and cold periods simply did not exist.

An old sarcastic saying goes, “When the facts doesn’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Mann and Hayhoe provide perfect real-world examples of such perniciousness. Powerful scientific evidence supported near-universal agreement about the existence of the Medieval Warm Period.

Then Mann and Hayhoe, supported by little or no compelling evidence, waved a magic wand and made the Medieval Warm Period conveniently disappear.

Climate realists, however, will stick with the powerful scientific evidence, the long-established scientific “consensus,” the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and the findings of the IPCC. Sorry, Mann and Hayhoe, but you have been caught red-handed.


Australia: Climate protesters thumbing noses at taxpayers

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has lashed climate change protesters who brought chaos to cities across the nation this week as anarchists and fringe-dwellers “thumbing their noses” at the taxpayer.

In an interview with 2GB on Thursday, Mr Dutton said the protesters had become a “major issue” and called on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to tighten laws by introducing minimum mandatory sentencing for protesters.

Mr Dutton said the protesters “didn’t believe in democracy” and would continue to disrupt the community if kept being “given a slap on the wrist or words of encouragement from the magistrate.”

The Home Affairs minister said Queensland police had more important issues to worry about such as domestic violence and encouraged officers to recoup the financial cost they had incurred by trying to keep the protests at bay.

“The police need to take civil action against these individuals, they need to recover the full cost of the police response to these individuals, and they need to enforce this by the courts,” Mr Dutton said.

He said the protesters did not believe in democracy and doubled-down on his calls to scrap their welfare payments.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash opened the door to cancelling government payments after an activist described herself as a “full-time protester”. Senator Cash told 2GB “taxpayers should not be expected to subsidise the protests of others.”

“Protesting is not, and never will be, an exemption from a welfare recipients obligation to look for a job,” Senator Cash said. “If they’re on welfare and they’re choosing to protest, as opposed to attending a job interview, the answer is yes the system can identify them.”

Liberal senator Eric Abetz also weighed in on the protest action telling Sky News Extinction Rebellion should be renamed “Extreme Rebel” as they had behaved in a way that was detrimental to their cause.

“The behavior is in a manner that I think that turns off the vast bulk of Australians, what they are doing is an injustice to their own cause,” Senator Abetz said. “Demonstrate by all means, but do so without inconveniencing your fellow citizens.”

When asked whether there were similarities between the climate protest and that of Israel Folau, as both instances had seen the defence of a cause “disrupt” work places, Senator Abetz defended the rugby star.

“I believe that people ought to have the capacity to have freedom of expression, such as Izzy Folau should have,” he said. “Similarly, those that want to believe in Extinction Rebellion, they similarly can put forward their point of view, but you don’t do that by disallowing people from going about their normal commute”.



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.  

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