Thursday, July 30, 2020

Activist Group’s Climate-and-Economy Claims Are Bogus, Despite Media Hype

The climate activist group Ceres just published ridiculous, biased claims that climate change has hammered the economy, while the establishment media eagerly and shamelessly promotes the bogus claims. Don’t be fooled by the climate activist group; climate change has clearly helped rather than harmed economic activity.

Ceres published its claims in a letter to various federal agencies. The letter opens with the dire warning, “It is more clear than ever that the climate crisis poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy, with significant disruptive consequences on asset valuations and our nation’s economic stability.” Ceres cited no data or evidence for the claims. This is not surprising, because no credible data or evidence supports such false claims.

Despite the lack of supporting evidence, Marketwatch, the New York Times, and many other fake news media outlets reported Ceres’ claims as if they were self-evidently true. Citing Ceres’ letter, Marketwatch asserted, “The U.S. has sustained more than $1.775 trillion in costs from more than 265 climate-related extreme weather events since 1980, by some measures, and more than $500 billion in economic losses between 2015 and 2019.”

Even if extreme weather happened to cause such losses, there is no evidence indicating extreme weather events have been worsened by climate change. Instead, the scientific evidence shows exactly the opposite.

In a recent review of the literature conducted by University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr., Pielke examined 54 studies published between 1998 and 2020. The studies analyzed the costs of extreme weather events by removing impacts attributable to societal change, such as increasing wealth, increasingly expensive infrastructure built in disaster-prone locations, etc. Pielke found “little evidence to support claims that any part of the global economic losses documented on climate timescales can be attributed to human caused changes in climate, reinforcing conclusions of recent assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” (emphasis mine).

That last, italicized part is very important. As Pielke noted, and as repeatedly documented by the website Climate at a Glance, even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes there is little if any evidence suggesting any recent worsening of floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Yet, when a climate activist group like Ceres makes claims to the contrary, the media report Ceres’ false assertions as if they were scientifically indisputable facts.

After making its false claims about past and present climate impacts, Ceres moved on to making equally ridiculous, speculative predictions about future climate harms. To support its claims, Ceres utilized the most extreme, worst-case, and least-likely scenario of the many scenarios examined by the IPCC. That scenario is known as RCP8.5.

RCP8.5 has been heavily criticized in the peer-reviewed literature as being extreme or absurd. RCP8.5 assumes, among other things, an unrealistic 500% increase in coal use and a 6℃ rise in global temperatures by 2100. Even the IPCC admits RCP8.5 is exceedingly unlikely to occur, saying RCP8.5 had only a 10% chance of becoming reality at the time IPCC evaluated it. More recent estimates place RCP8.5’s chance of occurring at less than 3%.

Even if the worst-case estimate of climate change occurs, economist Stan Liebowitz notes that the impact on the economy, as a percentage of estimated GDP, would be miniscule. If RCP8.5 comes to pass, the total cost of damages resulting from climate change in 2090 will be approximately $507.6 billion. Yet, Liebowitz notes, U.S. GDP in 2090, even accounting for climate change, is estimated to be approximately $70 trillion. This means, at worst, the cost of climate change in 2029 will represent only slightly more than 0.7% of U.S. GDP. “Thus the damage from climate change in [the] worst-case scenario, according to our ‘best scientists and experts,’ is less than 1 percent of U.S. GDP in 2090,” Liebowitz observes.

In summary, the climate activist group Ceres published a poorly sourced paper in which it made demonstrably false claims about past climate impacts, demonstrably false claims about present climate impacts, and exaggerated claims about future climate impacts, even in the unlikely event that Ceres’ worst-case forecast climate scenario comes to pass. Then the media trumpeted it like Chicken Little saving us from the sky falling down.

Don’t lie awake at night worrying about climate impacts on the economy. The science and economics say even the worst-case scenario would be quite mild.


Food Security in a Post-COVID World

Paul DriessenPaul Driessen|Posted: Jul 28, 2020 9:40 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Food Security in a Post-COVID World

US-EU trade talks are already stalled over agriculture issues. And yet the European Union’s new “Farm to Fork” strategy doesn’t just double down on the EU’s contentious agricultural regulations. It promises to use access to European markets to compel the United States and other countries to adopt EU-style organic farming, precautionary and other regulations if they want to remain trading partners with Europe.

“Farm to Fork” (or F2F) is being billed as “the heart of the European Green Deal.” Like recent energy, climate and other initiatives, it is largely an environmentalist wish (or demand) list – with little basis in science, practical experience or real world impacts. It sets out three primary objectives, which the EU intends to implement fully by 2030, barely nine years from now:

-Bring “at least 25% of EU agricultural land under organic farming” – from its current 7.5%

-Reduce “overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% – forcing greater use of “natural” chemicals

-Reduce the use of manmade chemical fertilizers “by at least 20%” – again forcing “natural” substitutes

F2F is being billed as a continental and global agricultural transformation that will ensure a “just transition” to a “more robust and resilient food system,” guarantee “affordable food for citizens,” and simultaneously improve human health, protect biodiversity, and promote environmental sustainability.

It will almost certainly end up doing just the opposite, which is why the European Conservatives and Reformists Party is hosting a "Europe Debates" webinar on the topic this Wednesday, July 29.

The problems with “organic” farming are well documented, though largely ignored by environmentalists, policymakers, regulators, journalists and academics.

Organic agriculture requires far more land and much more human labor than modern mechanized farming with manmade fertilizers and crop-protecting chemicals, to get the same crop yields. Many of the “natural” fertilizers and other chemicals that organic farmers employ are equally or more dangerous to bees, other insects, birds, fish and terrestrial animals than modern manmade alternatives.

Low-yield organic agriculture raises food prices for consumers, particularly harming poor families and countries, many of which have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes EU farmers increasingly uncompetitive in world markets. It creates a less resilient food system that is increasingly vulnerable to plant diseases, invasive species, floods, droughts and insects. As a result, it inevitably undermines the climate, “sustainability,” biodiversity and nutrition goals it promises to achieve.

Finally, Farm to Fork will also likely exacerbate the EU’s growing trade frictions with other nations. Even before F2F, agriculture issues were already imperiling US-EU bilateral trade agreements. Meanwhile, the US and some 35 other nations had formally complained to the World Trade Organization that current EU regulations on agricultural imports clearly violate internationally accepted norms, because they are not based in science. And now F2F promises to impose similar productivity-destroying regulations on even its poorest trading partners: African countries. In fact, the European Commission (EC) itself has admitted:

“It is also clear that we cannot make a change unless we take the rest of the world with us.… Efforts to tighten sustainability requirements in the EU food system should be accompanied by policies that help raise standards globally, in order to avoid the externalisation and export of unsustainable practices.”


Facts vs. fearmongering


Environmentalism’s Radical Next Generation Is Already Here
beyond politics protestThis past week, a new group calling itself Beyond Politics (BP) threw buckets of bright-pink paint at the entrances to the London offices of four global NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

“We have no words to describe our disgust,” messages left at the scene told their targets. “We accuse you of appeasing radical evil.”

BP accuses NGOs of not taking the issue of climate change seriously enough. “In the face of this monstrosity, what have you done? Fuck all that’s meaningful.”

This somewhat pathetic green-on-green hostility has yielded little media attention, but it illustrates the global environmental movement’s bizarre and longstanding contradictions.

BP and its petty vandalism were the brainchildren of Extinction Rebellion (XR) cofounder Roger Hallam, who got himself excommunicated from his own movement after he told German newspaper DieZeit that the Holocaust had been “almost a normal event . . . just another fuckery in human history.”

Hallam’s confidence was not dented by exile and charges of anti-Semitism, however. After all, he had seemingly driven an environmental movement from a standing start to a global concern in just a matter of months.

Motivated by “the indescribable suffering and death of billions of people,” Hallam now demands that big NGOs either “drive your organizations into a final battle with this genocidal regime” or “disband yourselves.”

Though Hallam is credited with cofounding XR, he forgets the role of money in its ascendancy. It was through the generosity of, among others, billionaire hedge-fund manager Christopher Hohn that XR could afford offices, legal costs, and its protesters’ generous per diems.

Though populated by self-identifying system-crashing anti-capitalists, XR suited Hohn’s £30-billion portfolio, which he uses to threaten companies such as BlackRock and Moodies with “divestment” should they fail to conform to green diktats.

Hallam is right about one thing. Green NGOs have developed cozy relationships with the establishment.

Even XR, which managed to bring only a few thousand people out into London’s streets, nonetheless succeeded in shutting down those streets, thanks to the nearly full cooperation of the Metropolitan Police and the glowing, uncritical support of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Within a year, XR was invited by MPs to give evidence to committees at the very government departments that its protests had shut down.

Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove held a conference with the group to discuss its demands. Parliament declared a “climate emergency” and convened a “Citizens Assembly” to hasten the government on a path toward its newly stated “net zero” ambition.

All as XR had demanded.

How was this possible? XR has a high profile and cash in the bank, but it is an organization with just a few thousand members, with unpopular aims—bringing down governments and dismantling industrial, democratic, and capitalist society.

It is the close relationship between radical environmentalism and the government that better accounts for XR’s success than any power XR generated for itself.

XR succeeded not because it had mobilized the British public but because it used cash from philanthropic funds to reanimate a small army of surplus activists as an off-the-shelf PR outfit, with well-established strategic and communications teams and extant connections to media and government.

It was ever thus. Environmentalism has long been lucrative for the well-connected, who are able to tap into streams of cash from philanthropic foundations to service corporate social-responsibility virtue-signaling PR and government propaganda—big business, in other words. Very big.

The blueprint for this pact was established in the 1980s when the United Nations appointed Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).

Brundtland’s 1987 report, Our Common Future, laid out the framework for a “sustainable” global political order.

In Brundtland’s schema, ordinary voters have no role in the body politic of the global ecological Utopia. In place of the democratic competencies of national governments, NGOs will serve as the real intermediaries between supranational governance, industry, finance, and science on the one hand, and the hoi polloi on the other.

Thus, whereas green NGOs were once seen as single-issue campaigns or charities, they are today recast as “civil society.”

The quid pro quo has required NGOs to sustain two aspects. First, they must act like dignified members of global society, able to mingle politely with royalty, corporations, billionaires, dignitaries, and despots.

Second, street-level environmentalists need to act as would a popular movement – a task which, despite the green movement’s half-century of history, it has not yet achieved.

Hence, green activism is better characterized by high-profile, media-friendly stunts and shrill, alarmist rhetoric than by representative membership organizations with coherent constitutions and founding objectives.

This more performative role, however, has created a tension and a liability for the movement: the believers created by the unchallenged narrative of imminent doom are themselves left out of the cozy insiders’ compact.

Earlier this year, Michael Moore and director Geoff Gibbs’s film, Planet of the Humans, blew the green movement’s cover in the political mainstream.

The film argued that, as radical as high-profile greens pretend to be, they are in fact the placemen of billionaires and corporate interests.

Moreover, green energy turns out to be at least as environmentally destructive as any other extractive industry, and it requires the public—rather than the venture-capitalist backers of radical environmental movements—to provide subsidies for the demolition of forests and natural landscapes.

It is because the coordinates of the climate change debate are so easily turned upside-down that the green movement turns on its own with aggression usually reserved for its putative enemies.

Moore and Gibbs’s film was swiftly denounced as an abomination—a work of “far-right,” “white supremacist” fossil-fuel propaganda that must be censored.

Through its hostility to debate and dissent, environmentalism has spawned a growing movement of those whom it cannot accommodate and cannot answer: fire-and-brimstone ecological zealots that no policy will ever satisfy. Fearmongering, it turns out, is a Pandora’s box.

Pink paint is just the start. Coming over the horizon are Greta Thunberg’s contemporaries: an entire generation whose sense of the future is being shaped by ecological propaganda.

What will this next generation do? They can’t all be bought off, as many in the first generation of environmentalists were, with jobs in eco-consultancies or NGOs to service the interests of hedge-fund managers.

But they have learned from that generation’s teachers, scientists, and governments to despise democracy.

And they have learned that the way to assert themselves is to take to the streets—not to give voice to carefully articulated grievances but to perform infantile tantrums.


Alaska’s Pebble Mine no threat to salmon

The nearly two-decades-old controversy surrounding a proposed gold and copper mine in Southwest Alaska entered a new phase July 24, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), reversing an Obama-era finding, and concluded that the project “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers” in the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Bristol bay is the easternmost arm of the Bering Sea, which lies between Alaska and Russia.

In its environmental assessment, the Corps found that the mine would affect up to 2,261 acres (less than four square miles) of wetlands and up to 105.8 miles of streams but that there would be “no measurable change in the number of returning salmon.”

The fight over Pebble Mine, which would be the largest mine in North America, pits supporters of the sockeye salmon fishery, including local Native Alaskan tribes and national environmental groups, against proponents of using the area’s vast mineral reserves – estimated to be worth as much as $500 billion — to combat growing Chinese dominance of global mineral resources.

Shifting Political Sands of Different Administrations

Like all major infrastructure projects, Pebble has had to navigate the arduous permitting process at the state and federal (National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA) level, cope with the shifting political sands of different administrations, and deal with the ever-present threat of litigation. The project appeared doomed in 2014, when the Obama EPA, in an unprecedented move, preemptively vetoed the mine on the grounds that it would do irreparable harm to the sockeye fishery. EPA undertook its action even before the project’s developer had submitted its environmental impact statement.

The project’s developer, Canada’s Pebble Limited Partnership, filed for a federal permit with the Corps in late 2017, and in 2019 the Trump EPA reversed the Obama EPA’s veto of the project, paving the way for the Corps’ revised environmental assessment of the mine’s effect on the sockeye fishery.

Over the years, the size of the proposed mine has been scaled back. According to the Pebble website, the project will cover more than 13 miles and include a 270 mega-watt power plant. It will be served by a natural gas pipeline and an 82-mile two-lane road. The site would have extensive storage facilities and will require the dredging of a new port at Iliamna Bay. Trucks would make several round trips a day transporting the extracted minerals to a processing plant through which they would be fed at a rate of 180,000 tons per day.

NRDC Plays the Race Card

The latest twist in the Pebble saga did not go down well with the project’s opponents. Taryn Kiekow Heimer, who heads the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) campaign to stop the mine, was delighted to play the race card.

“It’s especially embarrassing for the government and appalling given the current social context we are in,” she told The Washington Post (July 25), referring to the Trump administration’s accelerated approval process. “It’s just another example of the entrenched and systemic racism that this government is showing people of color and indigenous people in particular.”

Long Road Ahead

Pebble’s future depends in no small way on the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. If presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, his administration would almost certainly try to kill the mine by reversing the Trump policies, which reversed the Obama policies. If Trump is re-elected, the approval process will move forward, but the mine’s opponents will sue, tying the project up for another two to three years.



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