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.




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