Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Apple Update Throttles iPhone Charging To Reduce Carbon Footprint

Millions of iPhone owners who updated to Apple’s latest operating system over the last six months may have noticed that their phones are charging a little slower than usual since they did so. For that, they can thank the climate change activists at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Apple installed a new feature on those phones — Clean Energy Charging — and automatically signed up all users for the service. When activated, the feature allows users to reduce their carbon footprint by charging the phone more slowly when renewable sources of energy, such as solar or wind power, are not widely available on the electric grid.

“When Clean Energy Charging is enabled and you connect your iPhone to a charger,” Apple says, “your iPhone gets a forecast of the carbon emissions in your local energy grid and uses it to charge your iPhone during times of cleaner energy production.”

Apple included the option in the latest update to its operating system, iOS 16.1, released in October. It was included without warning or much in the way of notice, and the updated iPhones are automatically signed up for the option. To turn it off, users have to be aware of what is going on, and wade deep into the iPhone settings in order to turn it off.

Apple touts it as a feature. Many users, who might have been as to baffled why their phones weren’t charging very quickly, are calling it a bug. Apple says the option is only available on iPhones in the United States.

Many iPhone users who updated months ago were caught unaware when alerted about the new feature in a Twitter post over the weekend. Many reported that when they attempted to turn off the feature, a pop-up tried to dissuade them from doing so by reminding them yet again that clean energy charging reduces their carbon footprint.

The CEO of a thermal energy company, a self-avowed clean energy enthusiast, Tim Latimer, said on Twitter Sunday that he was glad Apple is working on dynamic charging to shift to low carbon hours, “but the way they rolled it out isn’t great. Limited awareness, default position is opted in. We should demand better transparency and choice for clean energy solutions or it’s going to backfire.”

Marjorie Taylor Green, the bombastic Republican congresswoman of Georgia, bragged that she turned off the feature Sunday in order to increase her carbon footprint. “I believe in feeding trees,” she wrote, above an illustration of the role carbon dioxide plays in photosynthesis.

Congressman Chip Roy of Texas also mocked Apple’s attempt to force its climate concerns on customers who spent a thousand dollars for their iPhones. “Don’t forget to plug in your 2 Electric Vehicles! (equivalent to 20 household refrigerators),” he wrote. “And don’t ask where the iphones were made or rare earth materials sourced from!”


Trump vows ban on $8.4 trillion ESG juggernaut

Former President Donald Trump, who is once again running for president as Republican in 2024, has promised in a video post on Truth Social to ban via executive order and changes to federal law Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) retirement investments that have led to divestment from traditional U.S. energy production in violation of federal antitrust laws and racial and gender hiring quotas that appear to violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

ESG investments in the U.S. have grown to $8.4 trillion in 2022, according to the latest data by the USSIF, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

“When I’m in the White House I will sign an executive order and with Congress’ support a law to keep politics away from America’s retirement accounts forever. I will demand that funds invest your money to help you, not them, but to help you, not to help radical left communists…” Trump said in the video, promising an executive order that will direct departments and agencies to end these perverse subsidies.

Here, Trump is in part referring to changes made to federal regulations including the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by the Barack Obama Labor Department in 2015 allowing ESG investments into tax-deferred, employer-based retirement savings accounts like the $6.3 trillion 401(k) market and other .

A 2020 regulation by the Trump Labor Department watered this regulation down a bit, mirroring a 2008 regulation by the George W. Bush Labor Department, but was promptly overturned via a May 2021 executive order by President Joe Biden defining climate change a financial risk under ERISA and affirmed later via a 2022 regulation by the Biden Labor Department. The 2008 regulation was actually a revision of a 1994 regulation by the Bill Clinton Labor Department, which in turn were revisions to the rules made by prior administrations.

These attempts to hold back ESG depend on fiduciary rules, that state as long as investments remain profitable commensurate with other non-ESG investments, then environmental, social and other factors may be taken into consideration when making economically targeted investments.

All of these rules are based on the fiduciary duties and obligations defined under federal law in 29 U.S.C. Section 1104, which states, “a fiduciary shall discharge his duties with respect to a plan solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries and… for the exclusive purpose of … providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries; and … defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan; …

with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; …

by diversifying the investments of the plan so as to minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances it is clearly prudent not to do so; and … in accordance with the documents and instruments governing the plan insofar as such documents and instruments are consistent with the provisions of this subchapter and subchapter III.”

Contrary to former President Trump’s claim that he “issued an historic rule banning Wall Street and employers from pouring your 401(k)s, pensions and retirement accounts into so-called ESG… investments for political reasons,” none of these rules, including the one issued by his Labor Department ever did away with ESG. I don’t believe Trump is lying at all, instead, perhaps his advisors told him what he did somehow banned it, but it’s simply not true, Mr. President. If only it were true.

Like the 2008 Bush Labor Department regulation — and every other rulemaking on this subject in fact — the 2020 Trump Labor Department once again affirmed the “all things being equal” test. None have dared to overturn that via a rulemaking.

The 2020 rulemaking stated, “Under the final rule, plan fiduciaries, when making decisions on investments and investment courses of action, must focus solely on the plan’s financial risks and returns and keep the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries in their plan benefits paramount. The fundamental principle is that an ERISA fiduciary’s evaluation of plan investments must be focused solely on economic considerations that have a material effect on the risk and return of an investment based on appropriate investment horizons, consistent with the plan’s funding policy and investment policy objectives. The corollary principle is that ERISA fiduciaries must never sacrifice investment returns, take on additional investment risk, or pay higher fees to promote non-pecuniary benefits or goals.”

So far, so good, but then the Trump Labor Department, like every single Labor Department before it, affirmed ESG investments would continue to be allowed by fiduciaries: “The final rule recognizes that there are instances where one or more environmental, social, or governance factors will present an economic business risk or opportunity that corporate officers, directors, and qualified investment professionals would appropriately treat as material economic considerations under generally accepted investment theories.”

Repeat: “[T]here are instances where one or more environmental, social, or governance factors will present an economic business risk…”

That is no ban, Mr. President. It’s an authorization that explicitly left it up to fiduciaries to decide what financial risk factors there were. One could say it was “neutral” at best, which is to say, again, it did nothing to stop ESG investments.

But, in fact, the Labor Department explicitly stated there was no ban, and discouraged that interpretation of the rulemaking in 2020, stating, “Many commenters interpreted paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of the proposal as a ban on any investment alternative serving as a [Qualified Default Investment Alternative] QDIA if the investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) was constructed using any ‘E’, ‘S’, or ‘G’ factor even if such factor was pecuniary in nature… (i.e., it has a material effect on the risk and/or return of the investment based on an appropriate time horizon)…

That was not the Department’s intention or, in the Department’s view, a reasonable reading of paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of the proposal. The intent behind that paragraph, rather, was to prohibit an investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) whose investment objectives or principal strategies included a nonfinancial goal from being a QDIA… The foregoing misinterpretation notwithstanding, some commenters supported a ban on any investment alternative serving as a QDIA if the investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) was constructed using ESG factors…

This refocusing is an acknowledgement that individual ‘E’, ‘S’, and ‘G’ factors can be both pecuniary and non-pecuniary in nature, and that the selection of ESG funds is not per se prudent or imprudent.”

To be fair, Trump did stop the now $714 billion federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Thrift Savings Plan from making similar kinds of investments, which did not begin making such investments until 2022 after President Joe Biden gave it the green light.


New study finds global warming contributes to thousands of gun deaths

Global warming causes EVERYTHING

As temperatures across the country soar and unseasonably warm days continue, the number of gun deaths across the country has gone up.

Nearly 8,000 gun shootings can be attributed to extreme temperatures, according to research published by JAMA Network.

The study analyzed 100 major U.S. cities with the highest proportion of gun violence between 2015 and 2020. It found that out of 116 ,511 shootings, roughly 6.85% (or 7,973) were attributable to above-average temperatures.

Gun violence, as well as other types of violence, such as road rage, is known to worsen in the summer. Warmer temperatures increase the body’s stress hormones in the nervous system, which may heighten violent impulses.

People also spend more time outdoors when the weather is warm, which makes encounters with others — and the potential for lethal clashes — more likely.


Australian regulator sues firm in greenwashing crackdown

Mercer Superannuation is the first company being dragged to court by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for allegedly making misleading statements about the sustainability of some of its investment products, as the regulator looks to crack down on greenwashing.

In a media release on Tuesday, ASIC announced it was commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against the super fund for greenwashing – a move which the regulator’s deputy chair Sarah Court said reflected a growing area of concern. Greenwashing is when companies overstate or lie about their environmental credentials.

“There is increased demand for sustainability-related financial products, and with that comes the growing risk of misleading marketing and greenwashing,” she said.

“The vast majority of Australians already investing in sustainable options are looking to continue to do so, and [...] funds being invested in sustainability-related options are just growing exponentially. If financial products make sustainable investment claims to investors and potential investors, they need to reflect the true position.”

ASIC alleges Mercer made misleading statements on its website about the nature and characteristics of the “Sustainable Plus” investment options offered by the Mercer Super Trust, of which Mercer is the trustee.

The Sustainable Plus options were marketed as suitable for members who “are deeply committed to sustainability” because they excluded investments in companies involved in carbon intensive fossil fuels like thermal coal.

Two-thirds of companies in misleading ‘greenwashing’ claims
But ASIC alleges that members who took up the Sustainable Plus options had investments in industries the website statements said were excluded. This included investments in 15 companies involved in the extraction or sale of carbon intensive fossil fuels, such as AGL Energy, mining giant BHP and Whitehaven Coal.

Mercer also stated that the Sustainable Plus options excluded investments in companies involved in alcohol production and gambling. However, ASIC alleged it found investments in 15 companies involved in the production of alcohol and 19 companies involved in gambling.

ASIC said these statements and investments amounted to Mercer engaging in conduct that could mislead the public, and that it sought declarations and financial penalties from the court. It is also seeking injunctions preventing Mercer from continuing to make the alleged misleading statements on its website, and orders requiring Mercer to publicise any breaches found by the court.

ASIC has issued more than $140,000 in infringement notices for alleged greenwashing, levelled against companies such as Tlou Energy, Vanguard Investments Australia, Diversa Trustees and Black Mountain Energy.

But the regulator’s first court proceeding in this area reflects a sharpened focus on action against greenwashing as outlined in ASIC’s 2023 Enforcement Priorities.

“We’re now ramping up,” deputy chair Sarah Court said. “We have made very clear to the industry what we are concerned about. The importance of these court actions is that, if the court rules in ASIC’s favour, it sends a message not just to Mercer, but to the industry more broadly that if you are going to make these kinds of representation, you need to be very sure that you can implement the exclusions you are promising investors.”

The move comes after the Financial Services Royal Commission gave rise to legislative amendments which enhanced ASIC’s powers to take action regarding a broader range of superannuation trustee conduct.

Mercer is not the only superannuation fund potentially misleading consumers.

Market Forces campaigner Brett Morgan said analysis conducted by his firm in July last year found that eight out of 11 major Australian super fund investment options labelled “sustainable” or “socially responsible” were investing in companies expanding in the fossil fuel sector.

“We looked at the investment options offered by Australia’s biggest super funds, with those labels, and compared their investments to a piece of work we did on the 180 global companies most responsible for fossil fuel expansion,” he said.

ASIC takes first compliance action over greenwashing
Morgan said the court action from ASIC was a positive step, but that he would continue to keep an eye on the super funds.

“Super funds are now required to publish their investment holdings every six months, so we continue to analyse those and will continue to publish analyses of their holdings,” Morgan said. “The court action is a big step-up from ASIC and should send shockwaves through the superannuation industry, and corporate Australia more broadly.”

Court said there was “no end of matters” getting referred to the regulator, and that she anticipated further enforcement action against greenwashing this year.

A Mercer spokeswoman said the company was considering ASIC’s concerns, but that it would be inappropriate to comment further because the matter is before the courts.

“Mercer has co-operated with ASIC throughout its investigation, and will continue to carefully consider ASIC’s concerns with respect to this matter,” she said.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


Monday, February 27, 2023

The climate change debate: lessons from evolutionary psychology

One of the many perplexities of life is how some new scientific discoveries and insights quickly find their way into popular culture, yet others go largely unnoticed.

Freud’s theories about the human psyche rapidly entered public awareness, as did Einstein’s E= MC2, as often do the latest scientific claims on health or diet. On the other hand, the public and political debate seems oblivious to the many new findings and insights over recent decades from the intersection of evolutionary science and psychology.

Yet these insights have dramatic implications for our approach to public policy and debate, as just three examples will show.

Firstly, humans have been shown generally to form their views on normative issues in emotionally driven snap judgments, shaped by evolution and culture. People then adhere dogmatically to those views while coming up with conscious rationalisations to justify them. We tend to do this because evolutionary survival required our ancestors to make a multitude of behavioural judgments in everyday life with far greater speed and less effort than conscious deliberation would allow.

Secondly, humans are deeply tribal in their behaviour, supportive of fellow tribe members yet readily hostile to outsiders. We seek to feel part of a group in many different facets of our lives, be it around sporting teams, brand loyalties, states or nations or, increasingly, political alignments. Our ancestors also needed to be part of a tribe or troop and to defend it, in order to survive.

Thirdly, humans have deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour that we adhere to and expect of others. These patterns, often regarded as ‘human nature’, are a mix shaped both by evolution and by inherited cultural norms developed and transmitted over generations. This mix is difficult to change quickly in fundamental respects and can have unexpected and deleterious consequences when rapid change is imposed. This is a key reason why intellectually constructed political utopias usually fail – either they are incompatible with evolved human nature and/or their proponents haven’t mapped a viable transition path from current behaviours.

At one level, these insights simply confirm what unfortunately has become clear to many from bitter experience already, namely that rational political argument often fails to persuade, and that the dark arts of political manipulation can have a far higher political payoff than well-researched and carefully argued policy formulation.

However, rather than go over to the dark side, well-intentioned political and public policy actors can and should use the insights of evolutionary psychology to gain a better understanding both of themselves and of their fellow human beings. In doing so, they will be able to better deploy conscious reasoning to validate or override their own snap judgments, to better assess the likely benefits or detriments of particular policy initiatives, and to better understand how their political and policy propositions are likely to be received by others.

The current public debate about human-induced climate change is a stark illustration of all this. It’s easy to conclude that, for some, the climate change movement fulfils an instinctive longing for a religious substitute or for purity from contamination. It’s easy to deplore the distortions of scientific research caused by the pressures for conformity and the quest for ‘climate action’ at all costs. It’s easy to decry the virtue signalling and empty gestures, and the expensive and poorly considered measures that governments seem prone to rush into so they can be seen to be doing something.

However, some of the response to climate change concerns seems itself driven by emotion more than by reason, and especially to be driven by tribalism. It would be unbearably humiliating if those insufferable, Woke, politically correct leftists were actually right about something. Surely it’s simply another of their periodic doomsday obsessions, just like the Club of Rome global starvation scare or the 1970s global cooling scare? We’ve caught them rigging the data in the past, and they must be doing the same now, even if we can’t figure out how. They attack and denigrate us personally, so we must do the same to them. We must unite together and not concede an inch.

Instead of all this, if we want to get the best outcome for humanity on the climate change issue, we need to put aside both the quasi-religious zealotry and the tribalism.

The evolutionary record shows that, while fundamental human behaviours change slowly, humans can adapt rapidly to changes in the world around them and to changes in their knowledge of the world. Humanity’s discovery over recent centuries of the potential benefits of technological invention, and the development of the scientific method that underpins it, have provided a rapid and massive improvement in human wellbeing unprecedented in evolutionary history.

Even though it is now under attack by some, we should defend the scientific method and apply it rigorously to the issue of climate change – to gather and assess the evidence without fear or favour, including its uncertainties and risks. Sceptics have been urged in the past to accept the truth even if inconvenient. Zealots and sceptics alike must also avoid propagating untruth, even if convenient.

One of the many harmful consequences of the tribalism that has developed over climate change is that the devising of solutions has been dominated by the passionate. By definition, the passionate see climate change as the overarching imperative of the era, and thus understandably give priority to solving that perceived problem and to be less mindful of potentially adverse consequences of their solutions.

As well, climate change tribalism has meant that most of the solutions have tended to come from the left of politics, and thus to be based on extensive government involvement in both spending and prescriptive regulation.

An invaluable contribution that could be made by more of those who are sceptical of some or all climate change concerns is to take part in a ‘what if’ exercise. Assume – if you like, only for the sake of the exercise – that human CO2 and other emissions are in fact causing an unacceptable level of climate change. What then should be done about it? What level of emissions reductions are required and how should they be achieved? What are the trade-offs between using and foregoing resources to achieve emissions reductions compared with other desirable uses for those resources? Is there a ‘light touch’ regulatory framework that will maximise the likelihood of free enterprise human ingenuity developing new or improved technologies that will allow the problem to be solved for good, as has been achieved previously for so many pollution problems?

Further, if the best available climate change solution involves emission reductions that require a burden of cost or reduction in living standards, who should bear what amounts of that burden? What principles should apply in allocating the burden between nations and between individuals within nations? Instead of the current ‘moral suasion’ approach of volunteered Nationally Determined Contributions, should a maximum amount of permitted per capita emissions be agreed upon, to be the same for everyone worldwide?

The public conversation on climate change needs the contributions of more ‘sceptics’ on these matters, even if only on a ‘what if’ basis, to develop better policy outcomes, whether that be to solve a real and dangerous global problem or to achieve a less wasteful solution to an imagined or overstated problem, as well as to help bring about a more informed and temperate public perspective.

As evolutionary psychology has discovered, humans are obsessively social in observing, talking about, and responding to each other’s behaviour, and one of the important ways in which individuals can best come to recognise and correct the flaws of their emotional snap judgments – far more readily than through their own conscious reflections alone – is through receiving and taking on board the feedback that others give them in respectful dialogue.

It’s often not an easy task to take on new and demanding learnings and to change the way in which we approach political issues and debate. However, if the point of our interest in politics and public policy is to help achieve a better world, it is something we need to do, and the climate change issue is a good place to start.


Grids Can’t Handle All the Solar and Wind Dems Want to Hook Up

Our electric grids were shaky to begin with. They cover vast distances and are not being properly maintained. But then the Democrats come in with the brilliant idea of spending hundreds of billions on erratic and unreliable wind and solar which then delivers power erratically and puts a further strain on the grids. As the money gets shoveled out the door, unworkable and unfeasible green energy projects go out the door.

And the grids can’t handle them.

PJM Interconnection, which operates the nation’s largest regional grid, stretching from Illinois to New Jersey, has been so inundated by connection requests that last year it announced a freeze on new applications until 2026, so that it can work through a backlog of thousands of proposals, mostly for renewable energy.

It now takes roughly four years, on average, for developers to get approval, double the time it took a decade ago.

And when companies finally get their projects reviewed, they often face another hurdle: the local grid is at capacity, and they are required to spend much more than they planned for new transmission lines and other upgrades.

Many give up. Fewer than one-fifth of solar and wind proposals actually make it through the so-called interconnection queue, according to research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Maybe having an actual plan beyond “The Earth is Exploding, We All Need to go Solar” would have been a good idea.

Biden is doing a victory lap over yet another bill that spends yet more money on ‘green energy’ systems that won’t even be plugged in.


Biden Proposal Puts Climate Agenda Above America’s Defense

The Biden administration seems bent on forcing defense contractors to comply with new climate pledges instead of protecting Americans from our enemies.

The FAR Rule doesn’t just put America’s defense in second place, it actively takes money away from defense priorities.

With one rulemaking, the rule could establish new priorities for about half the department’s budget by conscripting major contractors into a war on fossil fuels.

Every few days, it seems the U.S. military shoots down another unexplained object drifting over our airspace—and at least one was a Chinese spy balloon. These incidents are also coming on the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, the most destructive fighting in Europe since World War II. Surely, at this critical juncture, the U.S. Department of Defense and its contractors are focused on keeping Americans safe, right?

Unfortunately, the Biden administration seems bent on forcing defense contractors to comply with new climate pledges instead of protecting Americans from our enemies.

At issue is a new rulemaking called the “FAR Rule” that uses a change to the Federal Acquisition Regulations to bulldoze federal contractors—including defense contractors—into compliance with the Paris climate accords, also known as the Paris Agreement.

Regulations are notoriously boring, but the stakes are high: In fiscal year 2021, the federal government obligated $637 billion through contracts that were subject to Federal Acquisition Regulations.

The FAR Rule should be dropped because it weakens our national security, wasn’t authorized by Congress, skirts required rulemaking procedures, and is so disruptive to the agencies involved that it likely triggers what’s called the Major Questions Doctrine.

The Congressional Research Service explains the doctrine thusly: “The Supreme Court has declared that if an agency seeks to decide an issue of major national significance, its action must be supported by clear congressional authorization.”

First and foremost, the FAR Rule risks turning defense contractors into just another tool of climate activists. The new regulation places the Department of Defense’s basic mission of national security second to climate change. Rather than helping arm America against growing threats from China, the rule requires major contractors to count their level of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and develop a plan to comply with the Paris climate accords.

This follows a pattern of politicization of our national defense. Does anyone care how much carbon dioxide was emitted when the F-22 fighter jet engaged a foreign object and shot it down with a Sidewinder missile?

The FAR Rule doesn’t just put America’s defense in second place, it actively takes money away from defense priorities. The proposed rule is estimated to cost $3.9 billion in compliance over a 10-year period. That amount could buy an aircraft carrier or 42 F-35 fighter jets.

Second, the new rulemaking is entirely optional. Congress never passed a greenhouse gas emissions reduction mandate; and the Paris Agreement, although signed by President Barack Obama and reinstated by President Joe Biden, does not carry the weight of an international treaty because it was not ratified by the Senate.

So why implement this regulation? The administration says the rule is meant to comply with Executive Order 14030, issued in 2021, which attempts to establish a goal of “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions, at least for the federal government. However, there’s no law that compels the Department of Defense or any other agency to move forward with these regulations.

Third, if we are to take executive orders seriously, Executive Order 12866, issued in 1993, states that a detailed cost-benefit analysis is needed whenever an agency proposes “significant regulatory action.”

The FAR Rule concedes that it is significant regulation, but it did not go through the necessary procedures required of a significant rule. Specifically, the rule’s benefits are not quantified. This may be because the government cannot plausibly show that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Finally, the rulemaking may fall under the Major Questions Doctrine during judicial review. Major contractors must have their “science-based” targets—defined by the FAR Rule as targets that are in line with the Paris Agreement—validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, a private organization focused on getting companies to comply with emissions reduction targets.

This would grant the organization undue authority over large private corporations to alter business decisions and reorient company priorities toward climate change mitigation instead of defense. The result essentially would be a takeover of corporate planning by a nonprofit group whose interests may not align with those of the American people, the executive branch agencies, or Congress.

To offer a glimpse into the size of the problem at hand, more than half of the Department of Defense’s annual budget of over $800 billion goes to contractors that would be subject to the FAR Rule.

With one rulemaking, the rule could establish new priorities for about half the department’s budget by conscripting major contractors into a war on fossil fuels that was never voted on by Congress or endorsed by the American people.

Just like a Chinese spy balloon, this proposed regulation should never have taken flight. The best that can be done now is to make sure it goes down in flames.


World Bank elites put climate policy over developing nations’ prosperity and security

The World Bank is one of the cornerstones of the liberal international order that America built after World War II. The bank is also one of the reasons this American-led system finds so few friends in the developing world today.

Consider Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainians are valiantly fighting for their homeland. But Washington does not see the conflict in terms of rival nations and opposing nationalisms — one aggressive, the other defensive.

Our leaders instead think of the conflict as a war for the liberal international order. And they expect the international community to support Ukraine.

When developing countries like India and Brazil prove reluctant or unwilling to do so, Washington is appalled. But look at what liberal international institutions like the World Bank mean for these countries.

Ajay Banga, an Indian businessman who became a naturalized US citizen in 2007, is the Biden administration’s nominee to become the World Bank’s next president.

Yet Banga, who has experience with everything from launching fast-food franchises in India to serving as CEO of Mastercard, is under fire from development experts for having an inadequate background in climate policy.

Before being nominated for the World Bank, Banga was co-chairman of the Partnership for Central America that Vice President Kamala Harris launched as a private-public partnership in 2021. His crony credentials are unimpeachable.

And he was a dutifully green CEO, always alarmed about warmer weather. “Hectares of forests are on fire at any given time. Trillions of tons of glacial ice are melting. Temperatures are rising,” a Financial Times profile quotes him writing at Mastercard in 2020.

Yet within the field of international development, insiders demand more. One anonymous expert complained in the same FT profile, “The US administration has been messaging this would be a climate person.” Instead, Banga is a finance man.

The controversy doesn’t jeopardize Banga’s appointment. Rather, it signals the supreme priority that the technocrats of the liberal order place on climate change.

The anonymous snipes at Banga are intended not to stop him but to reinforce an ideological pecking order — the business side of development must take second place to the green politics of development experts.

The World Bank, founded in 1944, has always been an arm of American policy, with particularly close ties to US foreign policy.

Past presidents include one of the masterminds of the Vietnam War, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and an architect of the Iraq War, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

What we call the liberal international order looks, to the nations we once called the Third World, a lot like simple imperialism.

Before the bank took up a mission to save the planet from warming, it was already seen by developing nations as a dangerous patron. Whenever a bank offers loans to recipients who are not creditworthy, the recipients are apt to take on too much debt.

The World Bank perpetuates on a global scale the kind of bad decision-making that led to the 2008 financial crisis at home and abroad.

What’s a poor country to do when it’s offered easy money to redirect development away from traditional industry in favor of the green schemes preferred by Western and Western-educated elites?

For billions of people in Latin America, Asia and Africa, the liberal international order means submitting to American ideological obsessions in return for loans that may in fact result in catastrophic malinvestment and crippling debt.

Even when the worst doesn’t come to pass, beneficiaries of our largesse resent the inherent inequality of the relationship. Our generosity — in the service of our own elite aims — only stokes anti-Americanism.

The developing world is entitled to much the same industrial growth that raised the West to the pinnacle of prosperity.

Climate is not the crisis that hunger or political insecurity is. Economic disorder lies at the root of those greater, immediate threats. But Western money insists green ideology take priority.

We in the West enjoy so much wealth and security that we can afford to worry about weather projections. The rest of the world does not have that luxury. Yet the liberal international order reflects our anxieties rather than other nations’ needs.

The way the World Bank works, is it any wonder if India or Brazil chooses to sit out a call to arms for the international system?


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Childish Beliefs Drive Energy and Agricultural Agendas

Paul Driessen

Many eco-activists (and too many legislators, regulators, judges and journalists) have trouble thinking beyond slogans. They apparently believe declaring ecological emergencies, repeating clever mantras, and issuing proclamations and mandates will create a fossil-fuel-free, organic farming utopia. In their dreams.

Since 1950, American farmers increased per-acre corn yields by an incredible 500% – and other crop yields by smaller but still amazing amounts, while using less land, water, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides. Their exports helped slash global hunger and malnutrition. Farmers in Brazil, India and other countries worldwide have likewise enjoyed record harvests in recent years. Their success has many “roots.”

Hybrid seeds combine valuable traits from different plants. Biotech seeds protect crops against insects and viruses and reduce water and pesticide demand. Nitrogen fertilizers (synthesized from natural gas) join phosphorus and potassium in supercharging soils. School and online programs offer libraries of agricultural success tools. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) further spurs plant growth.

Long-lasting herbicides control weeds that would otherwise steal moisture and nutrients from crops, while enabling farmers to utilize no-till farming that avoids breaking up soils, reduces erosion, further retains soil moisture and preserves vital soil organisms. Israeli-developed drip irrigation delivers water without the evaporation characteristic of other irrigation methods.

Modern high-tech tractors use GPS systems, sensors, cameras and other equipment to steer precise courses across fields, while constantly measuring soil composition, and injecting just the right kinds and amounts of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, along with seeds, to ensure optimal harvests.

Imagine the bounteous crops for humanity if all these technologies could spread across the globe.

Instead, this planet-saving, life-saving progress is under assault – by well-meaning or ideologically driven, ill-advised or ill-intended ... but all well-funded ... organizations that demand natural gas bans, “more Earth friendly” agriculture and a return to “traditional farming lifestyles.”

Their hatred of biotech crops is intense and well-documented, but they also despise hybrid seeds. They want modern herbicides and insecticides banned, in favor of “natural” alternatives that are often toxic to bees, animals and people – and may actually be synthetic (eg, neurotoxic pyrethrins). They demand “natural” fertilizers, which often provide a tiny fraction of nutrients that modern synthetic fertilizers do.

They want to teach only “traditional” (aka subsistence) farming, especially in Africa. They prefer to call it “food sovereignty” – which they claim is the “right” to “culturally appropriate” food produced through “ecologically sound and sustainable methods,” in accord with AgroEcology policies. In other words, millions more people (ruling elites and their kids?) doing back-breaking stoop labor, dawn to dusk.

Tractors? What’s wrong with horses, oxen or human labor? At least get rid of gasoline and diesel tractors and trucks, in favor of electric models. Never mind that EV tractors and combines would require several tons of battery modules, and still wouldn’t be able to do a full day’s work without hours-long recharges.

Keep oil and gas locked in the ground; we don’t need petrochemical products, especially synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Or tractor tires, paint, windows, GPS/computer housings, and more.

Have these illiterati looked at their own clothing, food, homes, offices or world? Synthetic fabrics, cosmetics, cell phone and computer housings, pharmaceuticals, tapes and adhesives, protective gear, eyeglasses, car bodies, detergents, wind turbine nacelle covers and blades, medical devices, car bodies – practically everything around them and in their lives exists because of oil, gas and petrochemicals.

But we can just use biofuels to replace feed stocks for products we really need, they proclaim. Right.

Banishing oil, gas, petrochemicals and internal-combustion engines would certainly mean no more ethanol as a gasoline additive. That alone would eliminate the need to grow corn on 36,000,000 acres (equivalent to Iowa), and that land could be used for food crops or wildlife habitat. Except it won’t be.

Organic farms have significantly lower crop yields per acre and require far more land than conventional agriculture. Worse, ending oil and gas production means tens of millions of acres would have to be planted with biofuel crops, to provide feed stocks for thousands of now-petrochemical products.

That means vastly more tractors or human labor – and more water, fertilizers and pesticides – to cultivate and harvest sugar and oilseed crops (and algae). And then all those simple biofuel molecules would have to be transformed into much more complex hydrocarbons to provide the necessary feed stocks. That would require even more energy, from even more wind turbines and solar panels – on top of doubling or tripling our existing electricity needs, to transform the U.S. and global economies to all-electric systems, and repeatedly recharge the grid-balancing and power backup batteries those systems would require.

Or perhaps Team Biden plans to simply import all those petrochemicals and/or products – as it seems to be planning with regard to wind turbines, solar panels, battery modules, transformers and other “green” energy equipment. America will not be able to produce any of it, because Team Biden and its allies oppose miningand drilling in the USA (even for raw materials essential for their utopian “renewable” energy transformation – and we won’t even have affordable, reliable electricity to operate factories.

How can these “best and brightest” decision-makers and advisors be so ignorant, inept and clueless – so unable to connect even two or three dots? They’re destroying our planet, habitats and wildlife, to “Save the Earth” from a computer-modeled “climate crisis” that President Biden absurdly insists is “a greater threat than nuclear war.”

They base critical policies that deeply affect lives and livelihoods everywhere on childish beliefs in Santa Claus and Harry Potter. They think we can banish today’s energy and agricultural resources and technologies – and amazing replacements will just be there ... via some mystical, mythical process called Materials Acquisition for Government-mandated Infrastructure Change (MAGIC).

Some of them know this cannot possibly happen, but promote the policies anyway. They seem to believe they can mandate that “common folks” will just have to live austerely, under nineteenth or early twentieth century living standards, in 700-square-foot apartments, using electricity when it’s available (not when they need it), and subsisting on bug burgers and larvae milk.

They think Africa would be “the perfect laboratory” for testing new foods, like “crackers, muffins, meat loaves and sausages” made from lake flies. If all that fails, they’ll just impose forced rationing.

Others would go even further. Obama science advisor John Holdren advocated “de-development of the [United States and other over-developed countries] and semi-development of the under-developed countries, to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between.”

Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said, “in order to stabilize world populations, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.” Environmental Defense scientist Charles Wurster said “People are the cause of all the problems.... We need to get rid of some of them, and [banning DDT] is as good a way as any.”

Banishing fossil fuels and modern agricultural practices and technologies go well beyond callous and imperious, even beyond eco-imperialism, eco-colonialism or eco-Apartheid. It is manslaughter on a global scale via energy, farming and climate policy. It is systemic, systematic racism.

These ideas, and these policy proponents, are what should be banished from government, media and academic institutions. Not the wondrous technologies that make modern life possible.


Behind the 'climate crisis' myth: green ideology

Ben Pile

For much of the recent history of climate politics, demands for the radical reorganisation of society to save the planet rested on the precautionary principle. However, in recent years, where green activists used to talk about precaution, they now talk about the ‘climate crisis’.

In the eighties and nineties, Adherents of the precautionary principle argued that a hypothesis of a potentially civilisation-ending catastrophe merely needs to be plausible to be sufficient to compel action, and that the world cannot afford to wait for scientific knowledge to verify the threat with any certainty. This urgency was the basis of the Montreal Protocol on limiting ozone-depleting substances, and it was the hope of many greens that the same formulation could be used again to drive global agreements on climate change.

The problem for adherents of the precautionary principle is that, as is the case with all green ideologues’ prognostications, too much time passed without the events they were sure would befall us, undermining the original hypothesis. In the 1970s, before global warming had been invented, environmentalists proclaimed that civilisation stood on the brink of collapse. Limits to Growth and The Population Bomb were global best sellers, putting green politics at the top of the global political agenda, and cementing the end of post-war optimism with a terminally negative outlook that the West has not shaken off, despite the books’ manifest failures.

The precautionary principle (and many $billions of ersatz ‘philanthropic’ generosity) saved the greens and their ideological project the humiliation they deserved by adding an unending not-if-but-when caveat to their soothsaying. Like devotees of the end-times sect in Peter Cook and company’s skit at the 1979 Secret Policeman’s Ball, green doomsday cultists could defer the day of judgement indefinitely, at least in theory… But not in practice. The precautionary principle is an article of faith, and work both ways when fully considered. Progress towards a global climate lockdown agreement has been slow in significant part because many countries have been unwilling to undermine the certain benefits of economic growth on the basis of uncertain speculation. The precautionary principle, has thus been of decreasing value towards advancing the climate agenda as time has passed. There are only so many times even the most faithful are willing to climb the mountain to wait for salvation from doom before doubt creeps in.

The new claim, intended to overcome the global climate policy agendas’ inertia, is that certainty has been achieved by science, and that scientists have shown that the world is in the grip of the very catastrophe that environmentalists had predicted: people are starving, diseases are rampant, storms, floods, wildfires and heatwaves kill thousands by the day, forcing millions from their homes and into poverty.

The problem, of course, is that it is not true. In every region of the world, and at every level of economic development, people are living healthier, wealthier, longer, and safer lives. In the few places where this trend of continued progress does not hold, other reasons better account for the failure than slightly different weather: failed states, corruption and conflict.

I first became aware of this shift from prediction to precaution to outright lie beginning in the late 2000s. A report by the Global Humanitarian Forum – erstwhile UN Chief Kofi Annan’s think tank – made the claim that climate change was taking 300,000 lives per year, and that this would rise to near twice that number by 2030. The report had adapted the method from a WHO report in 2002, which merely assumed that a proportion of deaths from malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition could be attributed to anthropogenic climate change – a foreshadowing of the epidemiology-by-back-of-an-envelope modelling we are now all too familiar with.

The problem for the green narrative then, as now, is that deaths from these diseases of poverty were falling, and have continued to fall, radically. Between 2000 and 2019, the number of deaths from malaria in the world fell from 900 thousand to 560 thousand – given the world’s population increase, this is equivalent to a halving of the mortality rate. Over the same time, the number of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases fell from 2.4 million to 1.5 million. And deaths from malnutrition fell from 506 thousand to 212 thousand. What this means is not merely that there is no evidence of a climate crisis, there extremely good evidence of the opposite: humanity is thriving.

Many other metrics of human welfare bear out the same picture of reality. But try to explain this indubitable progress to the protestors who, on the words of UN chiefs, nonagenarian BBC voice-over artists and degenerate green ideologues of the Guardian and green blob, block roads and demand nothing less than the cancellation of industry and the economy and the immiseration of the entire world, to make certain that all of humanity’s development is undone. The good news provokes an angry and uncomprehending rage in green activists. To compare the story of the climate crisis with the facts is to betray one’s own children, country and world, and to condemn future generations to an ‘unliveable planet’.

The facts and stats of the world are in contradiction to the ideological conception of nature held by the global green Great and Good and by the street-level environmentalists, but not the broader public. So what is this ideology, and how does it overwhelm its victims’ capacity for reason and facts?

Beneath the dire prognostications of the 1970s onwards is the belief that nature can be understood in toto as a system, which through its known and unknown mechanisms produce a balance on which its mechanisms, including populations such as us depend for their continued survival. No doubt many parts of the natural world can be understood as systems, but it is the matter of the total system, and its ability to produce ‘balance’ which are in question, and which have deeply mystical underpinnings. Moreover, the implication from this understanding is that society must be disciplined by the supposed limits of this system, such as its capacity to absorb greenhouse gases. If we fail to observe this imperative, the system will fall out of balance and will punish us.

As David Attenborough explains, it,

Our economies and political systems are unconsciously predicated on the belief that nature will continue to be a benign and regular provider of the conditions we need to thrive. […] Our stable and reliable planet no longer exists. The impacts of this destabilisation will profoundly impact every country on Earth.

We can know that this is a false belief, because it is a myth that nature has ever been anything but extremely hostile, rather than a benign ‘provider’. Hence, until the end of the 1880s, a quarter of all British children died before reaching their fifth birthday. In Germany, half of children did not survive that long. Globally, infant mortality was 22.4 per cent in 1950. In 2021, it was 3.7 per cent. The ‘planet’ is manifestly far less hostile to humanity than it was just a lifetime ago. And this is thanks to industries, to expanding access to markets, and to technological and scientific development – sheer artifice – not to Natural Providence. David Attenborough is as misled and misleading as he is a ‘national treasure’.

It is ideology which sustains the view that because life seemingly out-of-balance with ‘nature’ must produce an angry reaction from ‘nature’, the climate crisis must be happening and people must be suffering Her wrath. The facts are irrelevant to green ideology’s victims. The facts flow from the higher truth, not from scientific observations of the world. This is the nature of ideology. It is insidious, and far more powerful than reason.


UK Govt Forcing Households To Bear The Green-Energy Costs Of Industry

The UK government is today announcing that it will force British households to pay an additional charge on their energy bills to reduce the costs of Net Zero for some 300 energy-intensive industrial users

Net Zero Watch today condemned this so-called “Households Payment Mechanism” as deeply unfair to consumers, but utterly inadequate as help to industry.

It is reported that the so-called ‘British Industry Supercharger’ will cost each household about £3 to £5 per year, suggesting that the scheme will move about £80m to £130m of green-energy costs from industry to households.

This is simultaneously deeply unwelcome for domestic consumers, who are struggling as it is with high energy bills, but trivially weak for businesses.

The measure is not expected to come into force until 2025 when the Office for Budget Responsibility expects levies to support fundamentally uneconomic renewable energy (such as wind and solar energy) to amount to £9 billion per year (and over £10 billion including the Feed-in Tariff for smaller generators).

This huge annual green surcharge is being paid by all energy consumers, with severely negative economic consequences.

The government’s support package for industry is trivial by comparison and seems designed simply to get a few good headlines in response to the bad news of more closures and job cuts in the steel industry.

Dr. Benny Peiser, Director of Net Zero Watch said:

“As long as the UK continues to prioritize Net Zero over the national interest, energy security, and economic competitiveness, Britain will lose the last traces of its industrial base, its prosperity, and its global status.”

Dr. John Constable, Net Zero Watch’s energy editor, said:

“The laughably named ‘British Industry Supercharger’ is nasty in principle but pathetically weak in practice.

Instead of playing PR games, the government needs to tackle the root cause of our energy problems, namely the wind and solar, and biomass subsidies that are costing all consumers many billions per year.

The green levies must be cut to the bone. We simply can’t afford them.”


Australian landholders offered $8000 sweetener for power line disruption

The good old generous taxpayer again

Victorian landholders forced to accept massive electricity transmission lines across their properties will be paid $8000 per kilometre per year for 25 years, as the Andrews government ramps up efforts to soften community concerns.

The scheme, to be announced on Friday, follows warnings that hundreds of kilometres of new high-voltage, high-capacity, power lines will be needed to cope with the supply variations of wind and solar energy. These renewable technologies are coming online as we approach the looming closure of the state’s three remaining coal-fired power stations.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the first payments under the new compensation scheme would go to landholders who host transmission easements along the proposed VNI West and Western Renewables Link transmission corridors. Victorian landholders affected by the Marinus Link to Tasmania will also be eligible.

It is unclear how many kilometres of power lines will be the subject of compensation, as the exact route of the VNI West link is not yet finalised. But the plan is likely to cost less than $4 million a year, and is expected to add just 55¢ to annual household power bills.

The grid upgrade, however, is almost certain to prove controversial, as some regional communities caught in the path of big transmission projects are already preparing to fight the prospect of long stretches of large above-ground cables hanging from towers looming to 85 metres in height.

The $3.3 billion VNI West project, also known as KerangLink, will involve about 450 kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines, connecting Victoria’s Western Renewables Link (potentially at a terminal just north of Ballarat) with a new interconnector at Dinawan, in the NSW Riverina region, via new stations near Bendigo and Kerang. About 240 kilometres of the link will be in Victoria.

The project will mean power stored by the Snowy 2.0 hydropower scheme in the Snowy Mountains can be sent south to Victoria, while power generated by Victoria’s wind farms can be sent north, and improve the overall stability of the east coast grid.

The 174-kilometre Western Renewables Link, designed to carry energy from wind and solar farms in western Victoria, will start at Bulgana, near Stawell, and connect to Sydenham in Melbourne’s north-west, via a new terminal north of Ballarat.

The three projects, including a 90-kilometre easement on Victorian land for the Marinus Link to Tasmania, will involve a total of 504 kilometres of new transmission lines in Victoria.

D’Ambrosio, who is meeting with state, territory and federal energy ministers in the NSW Hunter region on Friday, said the plan would mean “an equitable approach” for projects spanning the Victorian-NSW border.

“These new payments acknowledge the hugely important role landholders play in hosting critical energy infrastructure – a key part of Victoria’s renewables revolution,” D’Ambrosio said.

“We want to get the process for planning and approving new infrastructure right, so we can make sure the renewables revolution is a shared, equitable legacy for all Victorians.”

The state government this week also announced it has given the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) the green light to start early planning work on the VNI West link, which is expected to unlock between 1900 and 5000 megawatts of renewable energy.

The move, which will bring planning work for the project forward by about a year, follows warnings from the AEMO that Victorian households and businesses will face electricity reliability gaps as early as 2024, with minimum reliability standards expected to be breached in Victoria from 2028, as shortages of gas potentially collide with the closure of coal-fired plants.

The AEMO has become increasingly vocal about the need for thousands of kilometres of new transmission infrastructure to strengthen the reliability of the grid, as the Andrews government has promised to be 65 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2030 and 95 per cent reliant by 2035.

But the push will also be politically tricky.

AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman warned in a recent speech that without “social licence”, crucial electricity infrastructure might never get built. “No one likes to feel railroaded,” he said.

“If we ... don’t get this right, infrastructure will cost more, take longer to build, and ultimately may never be completed.”

The issue is already a flash point in regional and outer suburban communities. During last year’s state election, a group of angry farmers and landowners in the seat of Melton, on Melbourne’s outer western fringe, campaigned for the high voltage to be used in the western renewables project to run underground, and warned the government hadn’t taken its concerns seriously.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


Friday, February 24, 2023

Traffic pollution could be far more dangerous than previously thought, researchers say

And pigs could fly. Studies aiming to prove that traffic pollution is bad for you come out at least once a year -- and the evidential base for them is always poor. So no wonder they have given up on facts and rely on models instead. So I have to agree with their admission, "more robust data was needed". Models prove nothing.

So why is it so hard to find bad effects of traffic pollution? Simple. It does not usually have bad effects. For maybe a million years, mankind evolved sitting around wood and dung fires, which give off a LOT of smoke pollution. So we have evolved to cope with air pollution. Basically, we just cough it up, spit it out and are none the worse for it. It might be a problem in some parts of the Third world but levels of pollution in Western cities are low relative to what could cause illness in otherwise healthy people

Traffic pollution likely causes more than 11,000 premature deaths in Australia a year, new modelling by climate researchers has revealed.

The grave estimate from the study means that death from air pollution in Australia is 10 times more likely than a fatal road accident.

"With these high levels of mortality and morbidity impacts, we look to our leaders to make the decisions required to reduce the social, economic and human costs of vehicle emissions," co-lead researcher from the University of Melbourne Clare Walter said.

The study conducted by the Melbourne Climate Futures used a peer-reviewed New Zealand study of particulate matter — or PM 2.5 — and nitrogen dioxide levels, to assess the risk for Australia.

The New Zealand study estimated that country's traffic pollution death toll at 3,300 premature deaths per year.

A 2021 study had estimated that all air pollution caused around 2,000 deaths a year in Australia – a number that has been widely used since then.

In an expert position statement released on Friday, the researchers said more robust data was needed to quantify the health and economic effects of traffic emissions.

Air pollution is caused by both man-made and natural sources including heavy industry, vehicle emissions and wood fire heaters as well as dust storms and bushfires.

Particulate matter formed by combustion processes is particularly small and can enter the bloodstream leading to systemic inflammation and detrimental effects on organs throughout the body.

Air pollution can cause a wide range of harm to the human body. It has been linked to illnesses including stroke, diabetes, asthma, lung cancer, premature birth and low birth weight.

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas formed from high temperature combustion, such as emissions from vehicles, power stations and industrial processes.


Pence Fights Biden Administration ESG Assault on American Workers

Vice President Mike Pence, today announced a six-figure ad campaign in Arizona and Montana calling for support on the resolution introduced by Senator Mike Braun and Representative Andy Barr. The resolution would rollback the Biden administration’s ability to regulate how Americans’ retirement accounts are managed with respect to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing goals.
Advancing American Freedom also recently led a coalition letter, co-signed with over 100 conservative leaders and officials, calling on members to support the resolution.

The letter said in part:

A pernicious practice known as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing has emerged over the past several decades. Rather than prioritize the financial well-being and stability of retirees, ESG seeks to advance ideological goals related to environmental policy and other divisive subjects. While it is a tenet of a free society that people ought to be able to use their own money as they see fit (including advancing their own particular priorities), ESG is a misappropriation of retirees’ savings by money managers for their own political agendas. Most Americans think it’s a bad idea for companies to use their financial influence to advance a political or social agenda, as is the case in ESG investing.

Forcing Americans into ESG investment is not only politically inappropriate, it is also financially irresponsible. According to research from the University of Chicago, mutual funds scoring highly on ESG factors are constantly outperformed by funds rated lowest for ESG.2 Moreover, 85 percent of the country does not even know what “ESG” is, and therefore would not be aware of the financial risks their retirement account managers are subjecting them to when they actively pursue ESG investment decisions.3

Under the Trump-Pence administration, the U.S. government protected retirees from this kind of abuse by issuing a rule clarifying that, under ERISA, the managers of retirement funds could not engage in ESG investment if it would have a negative impact on retiree’s savings or expose them to additional risks (“Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments”).

Tragically, on November 22, 2022, the Biden administration chose to undermine the Trump-Pence safeguards by issuing their own ERISA rule that would make it easier for retirement fund managers to imperil retirees’ savings. With 22 percent of Americans set to be relying upon their retirement savings and benefits in 2050, this policy of misappropriation cannot be allowed to stand.

In April of 2022, Vice President Pence delivered remarks at Rice University, calling out those who sought to weaponize the U.S. financial system to “destroy energy producers from within.”

Vice President Pence has since written two nationally-syndicated pieces in RealClearMarkets and the Wall Street Journal calling for conservatives to take up the mantle against the Radical Left’s ESG agenda.

Advancing American Freedom launched the two new digital ads in Arizona and Montana urging voters to contact Senators Sinema and Tester and demand they vote yes on the Braun/Barr Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that seeks to protect Americans’ retirement accounts. This resolution would roll back the Biden administration’s authority to impose ESG rules on how Americans’ retirement accounts are managed.

This six-figure digital spend will run for the next week in the lead up to the vote on the CRA, which will take place between Tuesday and Thursday of next week. Each ad is projected to generate roughly one-million impressions per state, educating constituents on the harmful impacts of the Biden administration’s ESG rulemaking and amplifying our call to action ahead of movement in Senate next week


Biden’s War on Oil Fuels Putin’s War on Ukraine

With all the hoopla surrounding President Biden’s trip to Poland and his surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with President Zelensky, plus more bravado from Vladimir Putin — including dropping out of the New Start nuclear treaty with the U.S. — and of course the Chinese foreign minister insulting Secretary Blinken and then sucking up to Mr. Putin, one issue that no one seems to be talking about for the moment is oil.

So, let’s talk about oil.

Mr. Biden hates oil. Mr. Putin loves oil. Xi Jinping loves Mr. Putin’s oil.

Remember all the sanctions from the U.S., the EU, and NATO? Sanctioning the Russian central bank, sanctioning the Russian oil producers, bank lenders, and insurance companies around the world? Remember all that?

Well, guess what? Russia today is still selling roughly 10 million barrels of oil a day — basically what it was selling a year ago. How is this possible, you might ask. Well, it’s a good question. It may be unanswerable.

Sanctions really haven’t worked, but, for sure, China and India have been buying up any Russian oil production slack created by reduced European demand. That’s our great friend India, remember?

I don’t know what the U.S. numbers are. I sincerely hope they’re way down, but here’s a thought: With Russia still selling 10 million barrels a day and the basic ballpark oil price being $80 per barrel, that makes $800 million a day from oil sales. With 365 days in a year, that comes to $292 billion. For the year.

That’s enough to fight a war, even if your army is terrible. Even if you’re bungling the war left and right, you still have $292 billion. Much of which, by the way, is probably skimmed off the top and stolen by Mr. Putin and his cronies.

Now, consider this: For the three years pre-Covid under President Trump, the average price of oil was about $60 a barrel. If that were the selling price for Mr. Putin’s 10 million barrels a day, it comes to $600 million, or $219 billion for the year.

So now we complete the exercise: At today’s $80, at which Mr. Putin gets $292 billion, versus the $60 price several years ago, at which Mr. Putin would be getting $219 billion, Mr. Putin has made a tidy profit of $73 billion for the year.

In fact, the oil price rose to well over $100 a barrel at the time of Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which greased his pockets and his war machine ever more, but let’s stay with the current quotes.

That $73 billion profit means Mr. Putin is playing with house money, but it’s our U.S. house. Mr. Putin just stood there and watched it happen and of course fought a war and of course probably stole a good chunk, also.

Now, consider Mr. Biden, who hates oil. If he weren’t waging war against oil, petroleum products, and fossil fuels, we might be producing 14 million or 15 million barrels a day right now, instead of roughly 12 million barrels.

The 14 million or 15 million barrels a day were the estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy a couple years ago. Right before Covid, we were over 13 million.

Purely as a guess, I’m going to suggest that, with 14 million or 15 million barrels a day being produced by the U.S., the world oil price would probably come in someplace close to $50. Just a guess, but I don’t think it would be $80, and I think it’s a pretty good guess it wouldn’t be $100.

So, Mr. Biden’s Green New Deal radical climate obsession, and the global petroleum politics that go with it, has really paid off for — wait for it, hang on a second — Vladimir Putin, and his war against Ukrainian freedom.

Could Mr. Putin fight a war at $50 a barrel? Maybe, but that’s not his history. His history is that when oil hit $130 a barrel in July 2008, Mr. Putin filched a big chunk of Georgia. When oil crossed $100 a barrel in February 2014, Mr. Putin picked off Crimea. Roughly a year ago, with oil above $100 a barrel, he invaded Ukraine.

Moral of the story? Mr. Putin likes high oil prices. Second moral of the story? Let’s ask why the Biden administration is helping him with high oil prices.

Third moral of the story? Reopen the fossil fuel spigots here in the U.S. It could save Ukraine, and it would sure be America First.


Using EVs as Grid Storage is Unrealistic

The push for electrification of the entire economy – electric cars and trucks, electric heat and hot water, and even electric stoves – is relentless. Various states, including California, New Jersey, and New York, to name just three, have enacted legislation and developed all-encompassing “plans” to put everything into an electrified basket.

But electrification requires, well, electricity. Lots of it. And it requires that electricity to be available at all times. Greens envision most of that electricity will come from wind and solar power, along with hydrogen-burning generators that don’t yet exist and battery storage to meet the demand for power when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

Recognizing that building enough battery storage facilities will be prohibitively expensive, a new push has developed: using electric vehicles as a source of back-up power storage to meet electricity demand. It’s called “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G) technology and means using the millions of electric vehicles that consumers and businesses will be forced to buy to supply electricity to the grid when wind and solar do not. Proponents claim it will make the electric grid stronger and more reliable, and provide a quick path to the “net-zero” future that supposedly will save the planet.

But like other green energy fantasies, the math doesn’t add up.

Consider New York. The state’s Climate Action Council Scoping Plan envisions there will be about 3.5 million EVs on the roads by 2050, 15 years after the state’s ban on the sale of internal combustion vehicles takes effect. How much electricity would those vehicles provide?

According to the Electric Vehicle Database, the average EV manufactured today contains about 66 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of usable electricity. Most Teslas provide around 95 to 100 kWh. On the other end of the scale, the cheaper Nissan Leaf provides just 40 kWh.

Here’s the math. Suppose that, on a cold winter’s day in 2050, all 3.5 million EVs are connected to the state’s power grid. None are being driven and all are fully charged. And suppose that improved battery technology means each provides an average of 100 kWh of electricity. That’s 350 million kWh in total, or 350 gigawatt-hours (GWh).

Sounds like a lot. According to the most recent forecast prepared by New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which oversees operation of the state’s electric generating plants and transmission system, total electricity demand in 2050 will be just under 200,000 GWh. That’s an average of 540 GWh per day. So, on an average day these EVs could provide around 15 hours of electricity.

But extra electricity will be most needed on cold, windless, and cloudy winter days, which are not uncommon for New York. According to NYISO, electricity demand on such a day will peak at almost 45 gigawatts. If that load persisted for an entire day, it would be over 1,000 GWh of electricity. Suppose, though, total electricity consumption on a peak day is just 50% higher than an average day, or around 800 GWh. Then those 3.5 million EVs could supply enough back-up electricity for just 10 hours.

In reality, of course, not all of those EVs would be connected to the power grid. Many would be in use. And not all of them would be fully charged. If only 50% of total EVs are available to supply electricity to the grid, they would supply just five hours of back-up.

Moreover, once those batteries were drained, they would have to be recharged. Were a second consecutive cloudy, windless day to occur – again, not uncommon in New York – millions of EVs would sit useless in garages and parking lots.

Then there is the cost of the infrastructure needed for V2G. Getting power from all of those parked EVs to the grid will require all sorts of new technology, which will cost billions of dollars. It will require upgrading local distribution systems – the poles and wires running down the street.

And what happens if consumers and businesses don’t want their EV batteries drained by the local electric utility? So far, few EV owners are signing up for managed charging programs that allow their local utilities to control when EVs can be charged in exchange for rate reductions. Then again, will EV owners ultimately even have a choice?

Perhaps technological leaps will make V2G practical someday. But the proclamations and studies about V2G strengthening the power grid and making EVs even more perfect ring hollow. That puts V2G in good company with the unrealistic visions of a transformed, fully electric society.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


Thursday, February 23, 2023

SEC Hell-Bent On Regulating ‘Climate Change’—Except It Can’t

When Congress chooses not to pursue a certain policy or delegate a new authority, it isn’t inviting administrative agencies to step in and fill the empty space

But federal agencies are increasingly attempting to impose major climate regulations with no mandate from Congress.

In its June 2022 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court made clear that federal agencies may not assert “highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted.”

The EPA couldn’t find a provision in the Clean Air Act in which Congress gave the agency sweeping authority to restructure the country’s mix of electricity generation with its Clean Power Plan.

Under the so-called major-questions doctrine, an agency action of political and economic significance—such as regulating carbon emissions—requires clear congressional authorization.

The EPA didn’t have it, so the Clean Power Plan had to go.
With its recently proposed climate change policies, the Securities and Exchange Commission is similarly trying to exercise authority it doesn’t have.

In an April 2022 rulemaking, the SEC proposed a set of expansive and costly regulations that would require public companies registered with the SEC to publish information about “climate-related risks” in annual reports and audited financial statements if those risks are “reasonably likely to have a material impact” on a company’s “business, results of operations, or financial condition.”

The SEC also proposed requiring disclosure of registrants’ direct ‘greenhouse-gas’ emissions as well as those from its purchases of electricity and its supply-chain partners.

This isn’t mere “disclosure.”It’s a heavy regulatory burden designed to serve climate policy goals, and it goes beyond the SEC’s statutory authority.

‘Climate change’ involves some of the biggest and most complicated policy debates of our day. A financial regulator empowered by Congress only to police fraud and protect investors isn’t equipped to engage with the policy questions surrounding ‘climate change’.

That’s a mousehole of authority. There’s no room in it for a climate elephant to hide.

West Virginia v. EPA clearly poses a problem for the SEC’s climate proposal—and the commission knows it.

Chairman Gary Gensler acknowledged that the case is “significant and meaningful,” and former Commissioner Joseph Grundfest noted that the SEC “was thrown for a loop” by the high court’s ruling.

Nevertheless, the commission seems determined to dictate broad-reaching climate rules. In January, the SEC asserted that its climate disclosure requirements will be promulgated as a final rule in April 2023.

West Virginia v. EPA should serve as a clear warning to the SEC and other federal agencies—including NASA, the Defense Department, and the General Services Administration—not to act outside their purviews.

If Congress had wanted them to have such broad power, it would have given it to them.


You cannot run businesses, hospitals, and the military on occasional electricity!

Regardless of the intermittency of the weather, the electrical grid is expected to deliver continuous and uninterrupted electricity no matter what the weather.

Power grid blackouts are driven by the rapid retirement of small acreage coal and natural gas power plants.

Wind and solar electricity generation requires vast amounts of pristine acreage, but due to the intermittency and variability of breezes and sunshine being a significant deficiency, wind turbines and solar panels do not work most of the time.

This is illustrative of why a myopic focus on renewables for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions through a deepening dependence on the intermittency of wind and solar electricity must ultimately come to terms with the laws of physics and the high financial and environmental cost of achieving a reliable electrical grid with these technologies.

Future carbon dioxide concentrations in the global atmosphere will be largely determined by developing nations who are digging themselves out of abject poverty through the development of coal and natural gas energy resources.

Politicians have backed utility engineers into a corner as politicians now designing the power grid to their liking. However, politicians are not cognizant enough to know that renewables only generate electricity, and thus have no plans for the replacement of what is now manufactured from fossil fuels, which are supporting the 8 billion on this planet!

Over the last 200 years when the world populated from 1 to 8 billion, we learned that crude oil is virtually useless, unless it’s manufactured (refineries) into oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products in our daily lives that did not exist before the 1900’s, and the fuels to move the heavy-weight and long-range needs of more than 50,000 jets moving people and products, and more than 50,000 merchant ships for global trade flows, and the military and space program.

Chemical products, such as plastics, solvents, and fertilizers, are essential for supporting modern lifestyles.

While we use thousands of chemicals in our lives, most of them are derived from eight primary chemicals, namely ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, and mixed xylenes, all of which are manufactured from crude oil.

Ammonia is the base chemical for all nitrogen fertilizers, which are critical for improving agricultural yields in food production.

Methanol—the simplest alcohol—is a chemical building block for adhesives, paints, and construction materials. Approximately 60 percent of methanol is used as precursor chemicals in production, such as acetic acid (or vinegar) and formaldehyde, used in the production of particle boards and coatings.

Ethylene, propylene, and butadiene (the most important olefins) are used as raw materials in the production of chemical and polymer products such as plastics, detergents, adhesives, and rubber.

Benzene, toluene, and xylene (known as aromatics) are key building block chemicals for consumer products like aspirin, refrigerants, and textiles. About 45 percent of benzene is used in the production of polystyrene plastics, used in foam insulations and single-use cups, while 82 percent of xylenes are used to produce polyethene terephthalate plastics, used in plastic bottles.

Today, the world’s 8 billion are dependent on the products manufactured from oil. Changing that dependency on oil for all the products and fuels manufactured from oil will inflict product shortages throughout the worldwide economy.

An educational video for politicians is the 1-minute YouTube clip about the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about: Renewables only generate electricity, but manufacture nothing for society. The 1-minute video is short, educational, and entertaining to politician. The video has already been viewed by more than 800,000 on social media!

The challenge for the renewable electricity movement is that refineries only exist economically to manufacture gasoline and diesel fuels for the global fleet of road vehicles in 2022 that numbered about 1.446 billion, that’s with a “B”.

Of this huge global fleet, only 12 million were electric vehicles (EV) in 2021. Thus, less than one percent of the worldwide road vehicle fleet were EVs, and more than 99-percent of the global fleet was “yet to be replaced”.

Refineries are not economically viable JUST to manufacture lower grade bunker fuels for ships, aviation fuels for planes, and the by-products of oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products that are now demanded by societies and economies.

Without a planned replacement for oil, product shortages are imminent to support the 8 billion that’s projected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050.

We continue to argue for a more balanced approach where perhaps the most environmentally responsible thing we can do is generate the most electricity possible, on the smallest piece of land possible, and as close to where the electricity will be consumed as possible.

If carbon dioxide emission reductions are your goal or mandate for electricity generation, then natural gas and nuclear power are the rational near and long-term answers.

The Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR’s) are the same technology that’s safely powering 160 ships and submarines all around the world right now, and has been for decades; the USS Nautilus set sail and submerged in 1955, forever changing the model for naval propulsion.

Altogether, there are 30 countries where you’ll find nearly 450 nuclear reactors currently operating – as well as the Germans and French – Americans, Canadians, Japanese and Chinese are well aware of the benefits of nuclear power. Another 15 countries are currently building 60 reactors among them.

The Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ new green energy and healthcare spending law, offers a mix of tax incentives to nuclear power generators and funding to produce the uranium necessary to fuel advanced reactors.

Today’s life without fossil fuels is symptomatic of the lack of energy literacy among world leaders who haven’t the faintest idea about what makes their safe and utterly privileged lives possible.

Renewable energy in only occasional electricity from breezes and sunshine.

Wind turbines and solar panels CANNOT manufacture anything for society: NO products and NO fuels.

Subsidies for EV’s, wind, and solar, are financial incentives to continue the exploitations of folks with yellow, brown, and back skin in the developing countries that are mining for the exotic minerals and metals to go green.

World leaders are NOT cognizant that the world has a “products” shortage, not an electricity shortage, but continue their relentless push for renewables that only generate electricity. World leaders have no plans for the replacement of what is now manufactured from fossil fuels, which are supporting the 8 billion on this planet!


Admission from Canada: Electric Vehicles Do Struggle During Winter

A recent post by Canada’s The Globe and Mail discusses the difficulties electric vehicle (EVs) drivers have experienced in extremely cold weather. The Globe and Mail’s story is a cautionary tale for people who live in some of the northmost regions of the world, who regularly experience extreme cold. EVs, because of their reliance on batteries, struggle in the cold, with large declines in range and towing capabilities, which are often needed in the northern expanses.

In the article, “In northern Norway’s bitter cold, the durability of electric vehicles is put to the test,” Norwegian journalist Nathan Vanderklippe reports on recent cold-weather tests of EVs in the Lapland Proving Ground. After a night of -40°C, three of five cars wouldn’t start.

While not exactly an anti-EV article, it does describe some of the dangers people in the far north face with vehicles that are less reliable in the cold. Vanderklippe interviewed an ambulance driver from Hesseng, whose “coverage area extends to Bug√łynes, a drive of nearly 100 kilometres.” The ambulance driver reports that he does not trust current EVs to get the job done.

A taxi driver reports leaving his one fleet EV in storage over the coldest parts of the winter, and a hunter scoffs at the “stupidity” of mandating the end of combustion engines.

Vanderklippe writes that many people in northern Norway, especially those who live in remote homesteads, tow snowmobiles with them in case they are needed, “and towing can cut an electric vehicle’s range in half, especially in a region where distances are immense.”

Some EV models are reportedly better in the cold than others, but all suffer from decreased range and longer charging times.

Tesla, marketed as a cold-weather friendly model in South Korea, was recently fined by the government for exaggerating the wintertime range of their cars, when testing and experience showed the vehicles’ range dropped far faster and steeper than what Tesla claimed in its advertisements.

In Juneau, Alaska, the city’s first electric public bus could not hold a battery charge long enough to finish its route on the cold days, and requires a heated garage.

Winter is tough on any battery, and increased demand for home-heating also puts strain on the electric grid. This is true in the summer as well, as Californians found out from a Flex notification from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) last summer, covered by Climate Realism, here. Californians were informed that they should not charge their EVs during heat waves, because it will overload the grid as expected air conditioning use rises.

CAISO told utility customers:

“…grid operators again ask the public to conserve electricity to help balance supply and demand on the grid and avoid service disruptions due to extreme heat across much of the Southwest.”

“Pre-charge electronic devices · Close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool · Pre-charge electric vehicles”

While some EVs do fine when a home has the ability to place the car in a heated garage, or a more expensive model EV with battery-heating technology is used, this won’t work for everyone in places where even gasoline cars can struggle. Both extreme cold and extreme heat can drain batteries quickly, making locations with extended periods of very cold or hot temperatures less than ideal for EV use. Long distances between population centers, harsh subzero temperatures, and suboptimal road conditions all make EVs less appealing.

Political mandates that stop the sale of combustion engine vehicles in these parts of the world before EV technologies have improved may not just be inconvenient or expensive, but may actually be deadly. The Globe and Mail is right to point out these weaknesses in EVs, instead of merely flattering EV manufacturers and virtue signaling for climate alarmists.


Australian Government plans to protect marine area the size of Germany around Macquarie Island

This is pretty reasonable as environmental lockouts go. The island is close to the Antarctic so the only habitation on the island is a government research station -- so people in general will not be affected. And allowing use of the existing fish resource is unusually realistic too. Allowing some possibilty of expanding fishing would however have been desirable

image from https://live-production.wcms.abc-cdn.net.au/78bab891912e825dbe43145e951b326a

The federal government has confirmed its commitment to tackling Australia's extinction crisis by announcing a plan to strengthen protections of globally important waters off the south-east coast.

An area roughly the size of Germany is set to be added to Australia's protected marine zones, safeguarding the future of millions of penguins, seals and sea birds on Macquarie Island.

The remote and rugged island, halfway between the main island of Tasmania and Antarctica, hosts up to 100,000 seals and 4 million penguins, including the royal penguin, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Its shores are the breeding ground for several species of albatross, including the endangered Grey-headed Albatross, and an abundance of sea life that visit its waters, including whales.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced the plan to triple the size of the marine park, most of which will have high-level protections and total fishing bans.

The plan aligns with the government's pledge to protect 30 per cent of Australia's land and 30 per cent of Australia's oceans by 2030.

"Our proposal is that the waters around Macquarie Island — the whole exclusive economic zone — will become marine park," Ms Plibersek told the ABC.

The proposal, which will open for public consultation in March, has been celebrated by conservationists. "Minister Plibersek said last year that the Albanese government wants to re-establish Australia as a global leader in ocean conservation," Richard Leck from WWF Australia said. "This is the type of proposal that will help re-establish our leadership."

Fiona Maxwell from Pew Charitable Trusts said the proposal "opens the door to a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase protection for one of the most unique environments on the planet".

Seafood industry unhappy with proposal

The waters are also home to a fishery which is operated by two companies that catch the expensive and boutique Patagonian toothfish and which the minister says is "operating at world's best practice on reducing bycatch".

"It shows that a sustainable fishery is compatible with conservation."

The government's proposal allows fishing to continue in areas the companies currently operate in, and also allows room for the industry to move or expand in the future.

But the surrounding waters would be off-limits to all fishing.

Veronica Papacosta, chief executive of Seafood Industry Australia, said the proposal sidelined the fishing industry, and the government had been "hijacked" by an environmental group.

Ms Papacosta did not raise any problems about the proposal itself, but said she was angered by "the process" which "sidelined" the industry's views in favour of environmental organisations.

"It puts chills down our spine to think that this is how we're going to move forward with the Albanese government," Ms Papacosta said.

She said the fishing operations in the area were best practice, and should have been rewarded for that.

"What else is on their agenda? What else is it that we're going to have to be OK with and we're going to have to accept as a decision?"

Asked about the industry's response, Ms Plibersek said: "They'll have an opportunity to make any comments they would like to, just as other members of the public will have an opportunity to make any comments during this consultation period in March."

Marine park 'a good start'

Ian Cresswell was a co-chief author of the recent State of the Environment report and led the oceans flagship at the CSIRO as well as sustainable fisheries assessments for the Commonwealth government.

He said the design of the park was well justified by science and it struck the right balance by allowing the existing fishing to continue.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs