Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sanders Gets Endorsement Of Young Climate Group, Bolstering Left-Wing Ties

The Sunrise Movement, the collection of young climate activists who have roiled Capitol Hill and the Democratic presidential primary, announced on Thursday that it was endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in another sign that left-wing advocacy groups have increasingly coalesced around his candidacy.

In a landslide vote — more than 75 percent of respondents — Mr. Sanders earned the backing of members of the group, which has quickly become politically influential since its founding in 2017.

Once a fledgling collection of college students frustrated that Democrats and Republicans were not acting more quickly to curb climate change, Sunrise has grown to 318 chapters nationwide, with more than 10,000 members. Sunrise will host an event on Jan. 12 with Mr. Sanders in Iowa City to formally announce the endorsement.

“We believe a Bernie Sanders presidency would provide the best political terrain in which to engage in and ultimately win that struggle for the world we deserve,” Varshini Prakash, a founder and the executive director of the movement, said in a statement. “Senator Sanders has made it clear throughout his political career and in this campaign that he grasps the scale of the climate crisis, the urgency with which we must act to address it, and the opportunity we have in coming together to do so.”

The move represents another step into electoral politics for the group of young activists. After the 2018 midterm elections, the group made national headlines by staging a protest in the office of the incoming House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Sunrise’s signature policy, the ambitious proposal known as the Green New Deal, became a crucial litmus test splitting moderates and liberals on climate change, and was embraced by top-tier candidates like Mr. Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. Even moderate candidates like former Vice President Joseph R.

Biden Jr., the race’s current frontrunner, have cited the policy as an inspiration and said its goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also addressing economic inequality was an important framework.

But on the scorecard Sunrise released ranking the top three candidates’ plans and support for the Green New Deal, Mr. Biden, with a score of 75, trailed far behind Mr. Sanders (183) and Ms. Warren (171). Mr. Biden received low marks for how frequently he talks about the proposal and a 35 out of 100 for his “Green New Deal vision.”

Mr. Biden also had a tense exchange with a Sunrise organizer in September, who pressed him on his commitment to environmental issues.

“Look at my record, child,” Mr. Biden told the 18-year-old organizer. The group’s announcement is one of the last presidential endorsements to arrive from major progressive groups, almost all of which have backed Mr. Sanders. His candidacy in 2016 helped develop much of the left-wing political infrastructure in the Democratic Party — and had huge support among young Democrats in particular — but when the 2020 campaign cycle began, it was not assured that he would retain that support.

Young Democratic voters had a bevy of options, including fresh faces like Mr. Buttigieg, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Senator Kamala Harris of California. In Ms. Warren, there was another candidate with progressive bona fides — who would also be the first woman in the Oval Office if elected.

In September, the Working Families Party endorsed Ms. Warren over Mr. Sanders, saying that she was better positioned to create a cross-ideological coalition around liberal values and that grass-roots groups needed to choose a side in the primary.

Over the next several months, however, and after Ms. Warren drew significant criticism for a health care proposal that stepped away from an immediate push for “Medicare for all,” the energy on the Democrats’ left flank began to move away from her.

In October, Mr. Sanders announced endorsements from popular House Democrats including Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who is a sponsor of the Green New Deal legislation. He has also gained the backing of labor organizations such as National Nurses United, and leftwing advocacy groups including the Center for Popular Democracy Action and People’s Action. This week, Mr. Sanders was endorsed by Dream Defenders, a Florida-based collection of activists that focuses on criminal justice reform.

Sunrise gave its members two choices — whether to back any presidential candidate at all, and if so, which one. More than 80 percent wanted to support a candidate. About 20 percent chose Ms. Warren.

Ms. Warren sent Sunrise a positive message on Twitter in the wake of the announcement, restating her commitment to a Green New Deal. In recent weeks, with Sunrise likely to back Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren announced she would hold a climate-focused town-hall-style event in New Hampshire and rolled out an endorsement from Rhiana Gunn- Wright, a lead author of the Green New Deal proposal.

Ms. Warren has called for a $10.7 trillion investment in the economy to implement a Green New Deal and create what she calls green new jobs, and she has also released proposals specific to fighting climate change, including one that calls for $3 trillion in spending over a decade. Mr. Sanders released a $16.3 trillion plan for a Green New Deal that called for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050 while similarly transforming the economy.

Evan Weber, the political director for the Sunrise Movement, said the group’s advocacy would continue no matter who is the nominee.

“Should Senator Sanders become the next president of the United States, we will push to ensure that he make delivering upon the promise of his Green New Deal platform the top priority of his administration,” he said. “If Senator Sanders does not win the nomination, the stakes of the climate crisis also demand that we can’t sit this election out.”


US emissions are falling under Trump, thanks to fracking’s war on coal

Because of fracking, the United States reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to a new estimate. This comes after an increase in emissions in 2018 that happened because it was so cold.

This winding course of events has led to some confused emotions among environmentalists who like to hate fracking and President Trump.

Yet in 2019, the third year of the Trump presidency, the U.S. reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.1% according to an early estimate by the Rhodium Group.

The reason? Mostly, it’s that we’re getting our electricity in less greenhouse gas-intensive ways.

Emissions from electric power generation dropped by a massive 10% last year, according to this estimate. That’s because of “the switch from coal to natural gas and renewables in the electric power sector,” according to the Rhodium Group.

Mostly, though, it’s about fracking, which allows cleaner and less carbon-intensive natural gas to replace dirtier and more CO2-heavy coal. Despite the promises of Democrats and the scare stories of Republicans, it didn’t take the EPA to cut coal usage in half over 12 years. It took a cheaper form of reliable energy — and that’s natural gas obtained through fracking.

Renewable energy is a much smaller factor in this record drop in coal usage. It’s really a story of fracking.

Liberal environmentalists have very mixed feelings about this. “Despite everything, U.S. emissions dipped in 2019,” reads the headline at the environmentalist website Grist. “Perhaps surprisingly, total emissions fell 2 percent compared with the year before,” the article begins.

Why should we be surprised? And what’s the “everything” that should have caused emissions to go up?

I assume they just mean Trump.

Trump is how environmentalist liberals framed this same report a year ago when emissions went up. “U.S. emissions are rising under Trump,” the Pacific Standard wrote. Vox’s article a year ago began with the words “The Trump administration.”

But Trump wasn’t what caused the emissions spike a year ago. Weather did: 2018 was colder than 2017.

Yup. Dropping temperatures from 2017 to 2018 caused the climate catastrophe journalists tried to pin on Trump.

“2018 was colder (and closer to the ten-year average),” the Rhodium Group explains. “This boosted year-on-year demand for heating in homes, offices, stores and factories. 2019 had about as many heating degree days (HDDs) as 2018, so there wasn’t the same year-on-year spike.”

This year didn’t see a year-over-year temperature drop, but it did see an abundant harvest of fruits of fracking, and that was good for the climate, even while being bad for coal and environmentalist bloggers.


Climate change: No one left to defend the camels

First they came for the coal producers. But many — not moi — were silent. And then they came for the oil and gas producers. No one defended them, except a few lonely voices like mine. And then they came for the beef and dairy cattle. Same story.

And when it comes to climate perfidy, nothing is sacred. The latest climate villain du jour — there will always be a climate villain — is the vast herd of 1.2 million feral camels in Australia. Like cattle, they chew their cud, and like cattle they release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

The news reports on this latest dimension of the looming climate catastrophe assert that each camel emits 100 pounds of methane per year. Using the most extreme assumptions available in the literature, and ignoring such complexities as an atmospheric half-life for methane much shorter than that for carbon dioxide, and overlapping heat absorption bands — such subtleties are of little interest to the journalists — that is equivalent to 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year per camel.

The climate alarmists are not known for their support of gun rights, but they are proposing that the camels be shot from helicopters, all in the name of reduced methane emissions. Naturally, rent-seeking has shaped the public discussion:

Northwest Carbon, a commercial company, suggested awarding carbon credits to individuals and companies in return for killing feral camels as a part of a larger carbon-curbing legislation called the “Carbon Farming Initiative,” released [on June 9] and submitted to the Australian parliament’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

The officials figure removing the feral camels, which toot and burp out carbon, would lead to a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

How significant? The officials and supporters of this idea have failed to tell us. So let us do that arithmetic for them, using the numbers reported. There are 1.2 million camels, each of which emits 2.5 tons of CO2e per year. The total: 3 million tons of CO2e per year. Global CO2e emissions per year are about 51 billion tons. If we kill all the camels, the CO2e reduction — gross, not net — would be 6 one-thousandths of a percent. The climate impact in terms of future temperatures, sea levels, and all the rest: zero.

But, you say: Every little bit helps, and the cumulative effect of many such efforts would be significant by the year 2100. Well, no. The entire Obama climate action plan: 0.015 degrees C. The entire Paris agreement, if it is to be taken seriously (it is not): 0.17 degrees C. Zero net U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050: 0.17 degrees C. A reduction to zero in GHG emissions by the entire Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: 0.35 degrees C. These are the calculations using the EPA climate model under assumptions that exaggerate the effects of reduced GHG emissions. There is no dispute about them, which is why the proponents of “carbon” policies never offer actual estimates of the climate effects of their proposals.

Back to the camels: Will no one else defend them? That such ideas as killing 1.2 million camels — minding their own business and doing only that which God and evolution have led them to do — are taken seriously is an illustration of a far more fundamental truth. There is just something about climate change that leads a lot of people to lose their minds.


Australia: I Cheered When the Bushfire Came

By Geoff Walker, the former deputy captain of Lemon Tree Passage volunteer fire brigade

With the eastern seaboard currently ravaged by bushfires, what sort of an idiot would actually cheer when one worked its way down the peninsular where he lived? I did, and there were a lot of others who did the same.

To understand why, we must go back over more than a year when a winter bushfire got going to the west of the town. It did for us what the volunteer firies couldn’t: it got rid of the ground fuel with minimal canopy scorch. No lives or property were lost. Had this ‘good’ bushfire not happened, the peninsular would have been obliterated this summer when a firestorm with winds gusting to 100kph came our way.

No fire fuel meant that it burned and went out. Simple as that. Today, as thousands of Australians confront the bushfire threat, we on the Tilligerry peninsula are safe. With only one year of fuel build-up we have little to worry about.

When bushfire management passed from local control to government bureaucracies, the political influence of the green movement virtually stopped the off-season burnoffs. This traditional practice dated back to the black man and his firestick management of the landscape. The European settlers adopted it, as did farmers and local grassroots volunteer firefighters.

In researching my bushfire book White Overall Days, I found that our local brigade averaged some 15 burnoffs per year in the decade of the 1970s; nine in the ’80s, a mere two or three in the ’90s and similar numbers ever since.

The reason for this dramatic fall-off in burnoffs was the complex web of rules and procedures dumped on the local captains to comply with before they could do anything. They simply gave up. It was all too hard.

It was NSW Premier Bob Carr who proclaimed vast areas of the state of NSW as national parks. The problem was that they were not fire-managed and have now been devastated by uncontrollable firestorms. Lives and property have been lost as they roared out of the forests into adjoining farmland and rural communities.

Several things have emerged from the current crisis. Green zealots are blaming coal mining and climate change for the fires. They refuse to concede that the green-leaning management policies caused the fires in the first place by ensuring catastrophic fuel build-up. On the other hand, the vast number of ordinary, sensible people now realize that cool burning delivers a far better environmental outcome than raging wildfires. From what I hear, even some of the self-serving bureaucrats are starting to talk mitigation rather than reactive suppression.

To continue down the current pathway of reactive firefighting means more of the same. There will always be bushfires. They are  an integral part of the Australian environment. We either manage them by controlled burning or suffer the consequences.

It was early December when I wrote this piece and the height of the bushfire season had not yet engulfed so much of Australia, from Perth to Penrith. With dire weather predictions, what it would be like a month or two down the track did not bear thinking about.

Now we know.


Australia: Greenies surfing over bushfire facts

Wildfire is natural, cyclical and regenerative. Australian flora has adapted to survive bushfire and some indigenous species thrive on it. However, the ferocity of recent fires that scorched the country is shocking. The recovery will be painfully slow for those directly affected. Communities will be rebuilt or left behind as people seek safer ground. As city folk return to work, they will forget. But for people in disaster zones, the fires will stalk them by day and haunt them by night until they burn out or the rain comes.

Amid the terror of the season’s fire disaster, people are grieving for what is lost, angry about what they cannot control and afraid of what might come. Green-left politicians are using the fear for political gain. The green-left media is drumming up conspiracy theories that blame conservatives for the weather, the fires, dry earth, scorching wind, death, destruction and doomsday scenarios of some hypothetical future dystopia.

My present favourite is a Guardian article on the fire tragedy that leads with: “Australia is built on lies, so why would we be surprised about lies about climate change?”

As a first-generation immigrant, I have seen a fair share of Australian bushfires. I was a kid growing up in Adelaide when the Ash Wednesday bushfires took 75 lives. On Black Saturday in 2009, I was closer to the tragedy.

Victorians woke up to winds so hellish they broke the backs of saplings, stripped the air of moisture and seared our skin. When the first fire sirens went off in the morning and fire trucks roared down the street, I was doing the weekly shopping. People stopped, looked at each other and said it wasn’t going to be good. But we had no idea what was coming. By late afternoon, we were bunkered down. By early evening, I was glued to ABC radio.

Neighbours were preparing to leave. I was urged by friends to evacuate after my suburb was included in warnings issued by the Country Fire Authority. For some it was too late and many left only after hearing reports that people were dead in Kinglake, about 55km northeast of Melbourne, and that the fires had reached nearby St Andrews. I fled for the city as the fire developed into a storm that threw embers kilometres ahead of the front.

The shock of Black Saturday was a strange thing. I thought I was perfectly fine until feeling a sudden urge to stop on the Eastern Freeway into the city. I pulled over, walked to the side of the road and was violently ill. When I arrived at my friends’ house in North Fitzroy, they poured a whisky and sat me down. They said I was in shock, but I reassured them it was not the case. After settling my pet and opening my suitcase, I realised they were probably right. The contents of the case were absurd and I had no memory of packing them only a few hours earlier. I had taken nothing of financial value or practical utility. Instead, what lay before me was a half-empty suitcase with a pair of socks, books and a clock radio laid out on the base. All I could do was laugh. It was simply bizarre.

When I returned home the following week, the hills were like a wasteland. My suburb had been saved by a wind change. But in the surrounding areas, people were stricken with grief. The usually friendly towns were laid low and an uneasy quiet hung in the air. People walked the streets saying little and staring into the middle distance. Some were looking for missing loved ones or pets. Everyone knew someone who died. The atmosphere had an ashen quality, as though a grey veil had settled to protect the present from the past.

Amid the panic and tragedy of devastating wildfires, what we needed most was immediate relief in the form of care, reassurance and simple kindness from friends, family and employers. The communities directly affected needed swift aid and financial support. Everyone needed something a little different. But what we didn’t need was cheap politicking.

The Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader have taken the higher ground in recent days by agreeing that a royal commission into the fires is a sound idea. The bipartisan approach is constructive and should produce useful recommendations if the terms of reference are set well. The green-left is looting low-hanging fruit by making political capital out of the national disaster. The major parties should leave the scavengers to their ghoulish feast and concentrate on the question of what caused the major fires and how to mitigate risks in the future.

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission unearthed the causes of the fire and the institutional failures that enabled it to spread without adequate warning to communities at risk. Yet despite recommendations on regular backburning to reduce fuel load, some areas between St Andrews and Kinglake appeared to be overgrown when I last drove through the area in 2018.

A central challenge of any future royal commission will be to create an enforceability mechanism to ensure fuel load is kept at a minimum while conserving the natural environment in fire risk areas. As Rachel Baxendale reported on Friday, the Victorian government has not undertaken fire reduction measures consistent with the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The state Labor Party that encourages activism and blames natural disasters on climate change is neglecting its basic duty to keep Victorians safe.

The government does not control the weather. It cannot stand guard at every home while fires rage. It will never be responsible for every inch of land in the country because Australians believe in private property and the responsibility home ownership entails.

Politicians who use climate change to divert attention from their failure to enact bushfire prevention plans should talk less and do more to help communities in need. Reducing fuel load is something state and local governments can do as a matter of routine. It may not make for lively conversation with cosmopolites but it will save lives.



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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