Friday, December 06, 2019

Physicist Dr. William Happer rips ‘non-existent climate emergency’ & ‘Phoniness of this bizarre environmental cult’

Recorded on Dec3 in Madrid, Spain, the site of the UN’s COP25. William Happer, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Emerging Technologies on the National Security Council

Excerpt: "We are here under false pretenses, wasting our time talking about a non-existent climate emergency." ... "Phoniness of this bizarre environmental cult." ...It's hard to understand how much further the shrillness can go as this started out as global warming then it was climate change or global weirding climate crisis climate emergency what next but stick around it will happen. I hope sooner or later enough people recognize the holiness of this bizarre environmental cult and bring it to an end."

Requiem for a Climate Dream

If the world isn’t slashing CO2, blame overreaction to the Fukushima disaster.

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

Rigor could be restored to mainstream climate journalism with a single clause. That clause consists of the words “if climate models are accurate.”

A United Nations study issued in advance of this week's climate summit in Madrid would appear in a different light, though still worrisome, and still a challenge to policy makers, if it were reported as saying: To avoid any chance of a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, annual emissions cuts of 7.6% must begin next year if computerized climate simulations are correct.

Such simulations, we should admit, are science. Their findings represent a legitimate pursuit of knowledge. The common failing in the media involves leaving out the necessary caveats. Such carelessness has ultimately enabled a new kind of science denial on the left, where advocates like Greta Thunberg and the U.K. group Extinction Rebellion increasingly talk about climate change leading to a human demise that is nowhere supported in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or other scientific bodies.

In my view, Al Gore bears heavy responsibility here. Name any important policy commitment in history-whether Social Security or Medicare or even fighting World War II-that required that all debate be silenced and all skeptics vilified before it could proceed. The Gore formula is good for stoking tribalism. It's not good for making policy progress in a democracy. And so it has proved. Nobody remotely believes the supposedly necessary emissions cuts will take place. The only response left to the climate crowd is to ratchet up even more dire predictions.

Let's start over. If stated properly, the "scientific consensus" would run as follows: climate models teach us to expect some warming from human-caused atmospheric CO2 increases, but disagree about how much. It's hard to make cost-benefit judgments on such a basis, but happily the Green New Deal makes it easy-it would cost a lot of money and accomplish nothing since U.S. emissions are just 14% of the total and shrinking. India and China, not the U.S., will determine the fate of climate change.

Cost-benefit analysis also tells us a bunch of things that might be worth doing even in light of the uncertainties. A tax reform based on a revenue-neutral carbon tax could make our tax system more efficient and pro-growth. Government investment in basic research tends to have a high payoff, and battery research is a particularly attractive opportunity. Rethinking nuclear power and regulation is another area of huge potential. Safer and cheaper nuclear technologies continue to advance on the drawing board even in today's inhospitable political environment.

And guess what? All the above would be easier to sell to other countries than Green New Deal masochism. Voters would readily gobble up new energy technologies and tax models that would make their societies richer and stronger.

In honor of this week's global climate gathering in Madrid, the New York Times aptly refers to the "gap between reality and diplomacy." International agreements, by their nature, are designed to put an imprimatur on what domestic politicians would do anyway, and that doesn't include prematurely ending their careers by imposing on consumers the kind of crushing burdens the green left seeks.

Look elsewhere for the turning points that actually matter. If climate change proves as severe as some scientists believe, the most damning moment will be one that passed largely unremarked except in this column: the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown after Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany, the world's sixth biggest emitter, chaotically and thoughtlessly announced within weeks that it would close all 17 of its nuclear plants. China and India, then pursuing ambitious nuclear expansions that should have become more ambitious, instead recommitted themselves to burning vast amounts of coal.

Nuclearphobes should remind themselves that more people die each year from coal-mining accidents than have been killed in all the nuclear accidents in history. Never mind the tens of thousands who are statistically estimated to die annually from inhaling particulates.

No technology is perfect, but NASA's James Hansen, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Gaia theorist James Lovelock, and the late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman are among the diverse and serious students of climate change who have said that meaningful cuts won't happen without nuclear.

The Fukushima accident, widely misread and breathing new life into the antinuclear lobby, will prove more significant than even the advocacy errors of Al Gore. It will prove more significant than the Paris Agreement, the election of Donald Trump, the tiresome legal vendetta against Exxon, or any of the matters that obsess the climate left. It probably put paid to any hope that emissions cuts will play a role in climate change for at least the next three or four decades. Get used to it.


Comment on the above article

CO2 Coalition Executive Director Caleb S. Rossiter says:

"Yes, it's all about the models! This is the most important op-ed of the year in the energy field. Yes, the entire policy debate is predicated on model accuracy, and it hasn't been very good.  The atmosphere-ocean-land energy transfer system is the modeling problem from hell.

"Nearly all the models put in a parameter estimate with too much sensitivity to CO2. We are publishing a seminal paper by MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen this week on why sensitivity is below even the lower bound of the IPCC model estimates of 1.5 to 4.5 C temp increase for a doubling of CO2 levels.

"The best model, by Russian scientists, has lower CO2 sensitivity than the others, and tracks well when run forward.

"The result of all the thousands of parameter estimates that provide a good "backfit" for the IPCC models with past temperatures is that when the models are then run forward, they have three times too much warming when compared to now 40 years of data.

"In my testimony and writings I try to educate Congress and the public on how models work...and don't, as witnessed by the ever-receding projections of severe warming:

Via email

The Fauxvironmentalists of San Francisco

San Francisco policymakers recently received a building proposal that one might think fits the city’s environmental goals. A developer wants to build a 5-story, 20-unit building in the Outer Sunset, a neighborhood that’s added only 21 units since 2011. The project would include 5 affordable units, abut a rail line, and replace a vacant gas station.

As with many San Francisco projects that are code compliant, this one can be appealed by residents for $750. So an appeal is being filed against it to reduce the unit number, increase the number of parking spaces, and potentially kill it altogether. It was filed by Mike Murphy, a former Board of Supervisors candidate… and councilor for the San Francisco Green Party.

Welcome to the wacky world of San Francisco climate activism.

Various groups there call for, in the abstract at least, environmental sustainability, but frequently organize to block mixed-use, multi-story, transit-oriented housing developments. This sends a growing Bay Area population further to the suburbs, where they make long car commutes into the city.

The most notorious offender has been the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay chapter. In 2017, I wrote a Forbes piece listing the projects they’d opposed in the city and nearby dense suburbs like Berkeley. It ranged from various high-rise projects downtown, to housing around the Giants’ stadium, to a shipyard redevelopment that would clean up a toxic site and produce 12,000 units. For the article, I interviewed three different chapter representatives. Each interview was strange.

The reps would insist that they favor infill development, citing the chapter’s bylaws which say so. But for each project I mentioned, they’d cite specific reasons for their opposition. It included aesthetic gripes, soil concerns, grievances about the projects’ affordability, or the fact that developers would profit. Conor Johnston, former chief of staff to current San Francisco Mayor London Breed, also noted their consistent but opaque opposition in a San Francisco Examiner article.

“Time and again, chapter leaders hedge their opposition with statements like, ‘We support infill development, just not this plan.’ But if you oppose every plan, that hedge rings awfully hollow.”

The aforementioned San Francisco Green Party has, by comparison, been more open about its anti-growth stances. It has long endorsed candidates—or fielded its own—who oppose infill development. This November, it opposed 2 ballot initiatives that would spur more housing production. Measure A would fund $600 million in affordable housing construction, including for seniors and the chronically poor; and Measure E would loosen zoning to build more teacher housing. Regarding the Outer Sunset project, Murphy on Twitter called it a “pre-apocalyptic future sandcrawler”, while the San Francisco Green Party account tweeted that it would be “more luxury condos on toxic land.” The response about toxic land did not, however, explain why the Green Party wants less housing and more parking. I contacted both accounts for comment about this apparent contradiction, but have not heard back.

Aside from the Sierra Club and Green Party, a third way San Francisco climate activists block development is through the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The law was passed in 1970 to file appeals against environmentally-harmful developments. It has since been used as a standard means to obstruct environmentally-friendly ones. According to one study, 98% of units targeted by CEQA are in urban areas. In San Francisco, CEQA has been used to try and block the new Warriors arena, the redevelopment of a laundromat into housing, and a homeless shelter.

Lastly, there are random residents who aren’t affiliated with specific laws or organizations, but think up environmentally-based arguments to use. For example, a recently-approved 744-unit project in the Laurel Heights neighborhood was opposed because it meant cutting down 200 trees. But as Johnston noted in a phone interview, the developer promised to replant twice that number during development.

The thing is, dense development really is good for the environment—especially when built in San Francisco. A study by economists Ed Glaeser and Matthew Kahn found that the city has the 2nd-lowest CO2 emissions per household of major U.S. metros, due to its mild climate, efficient use of utilities, and low car ownership. The more people who live there, the better for our climate.

Why some local environmentalists protest such growth is hard to know, since they don’t give straight answers. It may be that they’re anti-capitalist, and prefer sticking it to developers even when the developers are helping the environment. Another theory, offered by Johnston, is that there’s a strand within the movement that wants population control, and thinks restricting development will accomplish that. But it may simply be that they are NIMBYs, and are using distorted environmental arguments to serve their goals.

“It would be comical if it wasn’t so horrible,” said Johnston. “Opposing urban infill housing under the banner of environmentalism is hypocritical and harmful to the environment that we’re all actually trying to protect.”

But the obstruction remains powerful in San Francisco. It has left Outer Sunset and other neighborhoods with almost no recent growth, worsening the housing shortage and expanding sprawl.



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1 comment:

Ronald Day said...

Charles Taze Russell did believe in what could be called global warming. He believed that the kingdom blessings would bring the earth back to a climate as it was before the flood of Noah's day.

Charles Taze Russell, however, was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. He consistently preached against such an organization, and he also preached against the kind of message the the Jehovah's Witnesses present, that is, "join us or you will be eternally doomed." Russell was definitely not the founder of that which he spent nearly his entire life preaching against.

For links to some of my related research: