Center for American Greatness • Energy • Environment • Post • Progressivism

The Absurdity of Using the Biosphere to Power the Technosphere

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In reaction to the proposed “Green New Deal,” there is a lot more discussion about the environmental and economic costs and benefits of renewable energy. Much of the attention, however, has focused on solar and wind energy. Meanwhile, the other big source of renewable energy, biofuel, has quietly elided closer scrutiny. This requires correction. With the purported goal of “saving the planet,” governments around the world are mandating increasing percentages of biofuel to be mixed into transportation fuels.

According to the International Energy Agency, transportation biofuel production in 2017 totaled 83 MTOE (million tons of oil equivalents), which represented only 3 percent of total worldwide demand for transportation fuel. Three percent isn’t very much. But we still have to grow the stuff that goes into biofuels. How much land are we already talking about?

When assessing how much land is already committed to biofuel production, theory and reality quickly diverge. Theoretically, it is possible that current levels of transportation biofuel production might “only” consume around 120,000 square miles of land. But two reality checks result in a far greater amount of actual land use: the fact that commonly planted transportation biofuel crops offer vast diversity in yields per acre, and the fact that biofuel, just like petroleum, is not used exclusively for transportation but also for direct heating and generation of electricity. According to the World Bioenergy Association, biofuel crops are already consuming nearly 550,000 square miles of land.

Why do we have biofuel mandates at all? The main justification is they’re “carbon neutral.” The logic goes like this: prior to harvest, growing biofuel crops produce oxygen and consume CO2. Then after harvesting and processing, burning biofuels consume oxygen and produce CO2. This is a seductive equation, especially if you’ve been convinced that anthropogenic CO2 is the ultimate climate boogeyman. But the practical realization of this equation has been an environmental and health catastrophe.

There are two main types of biofuel, bioethanol and biodiesel. The primary sources of bioethanol are corn and sugarcane; the primary source of biodiesel is palm oil. In both cases, the spread of plantations to grow these crops has devastated some of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet. From cane ethanol in Brazil, to palm oil in Indonesia, thousands of square miles of rainforest are lost every year to new plantations.

In 2016, for a few brief weeks, the world paid attention to the problems being caused by biofuel production. That was when forest fires raged across Indonesia, sending a toxic haze across thousands of miles, making the air barely breathable for millions of people in Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia. The cause of these fires? Land owners burning rainforests to make room for palm oil plantations.

The idea that achieving alleged “carbon neutrality” is a sufficient benefit to offset the replacement of rainforest with monocrop plantations of palm trees and sugar cane is ridiculous. But even if biofuels somehow could be grown using “sustainable” practices, it remains an exercise in environmentalist absurdity. There simply isn’t enough land for conventional biofuels ever to make a meaningful contribution to meeting global demand for transportation fuels.

According to the Biofuels Digest, 66 countries have biofuel blending mandates. While this is hardly an objective source, it’s unlikely their information on mandates in inaccurate. The publication cites the “major blending mandates that will drive global demand” as coming from the European Union, United States, China and Brazil, and claim “each of which has set targets at levels in the 15-27 percent range by 2020-2022.”

Just accomplishing that goal, depending on the scope of these blending mandates, would require global production of biofuel to at least quintuple. Hence the ongoing land grab across the tropics, and throughout the temperate bread baskets, to replace forest and cropland with biofuel plantations. But what if biofuel were to replace all oil?

In 2017, global biofuels production was 83 MTOE (“million tons of oil equivalent”), which represents 1.7 percent of total oil consumption worldwide, which in 2017 was 4,800 MTOE. To begin to estimate how much land it would take for biofuel to replace just the oil used for transportation, which today is around 2,800 MTOE, you have to consider the yield per acre for the primary biofuel crops. For both bioethanol and biodiesel, 500 gallons per acre per year is considered quite good. This means that to replace all petroleum based transportation fuel with biofuel would require plantations consuming at least 4 million square miles.

To put this in perspective, the entire land area of the United States, including Alaska, is only 3.7 million square miles. And this is a best case scenario. While oil palms can yield slightly more than 500 gallons of biodiesel per acre, other popular biodiesel crops have much lower yields—coconut trees only yield 230 gallons per acre; peanuts, 90 gallons per acre; sunflowers, 82 gallons per acre; soybeans, 56 gallons per acre. Bioethanol yields range as high as 662 gallons per acre for Brazilian sugar cane, but only hit around 350 gallons per acre for American corn, or 275 gallons per acre for French wheat. And unlike biodiesel, bioethanol only has an energy content approximately two-thirds that of gasoline, meaning that it takes 1.5 gallons of pure ethanol to provide the same amount of energy as one gallon of gasoline. Finally, of course, global demand for transportation fuel is going to increase in the coming decades.

The worldwide impact of 550,000 square miles of biofuel plantations is is already an ongoing environmental catastrophe. Imagine multiplying that by a factor of eight or more.

In general, Earth’s finite biosphere continues to supply food for humanity with relative ease, because Earth’s 7.5 billion people only consume around 22 quadrillion BTUs per year (based on the average human consuming 2,000 kilo-calories per day). According to the International Energy Agency, world total primary energy consumption is over 572 quadrillion BTUs per year—25 times as much.

Using the biosphere to produce food will always be feasible, especially with the advent of high-rise agriculture and other fantastic innovations that guarantee food abundance no matter how many people eventually live on Earth. But it is not feasible to use the biosphere to power the technosphere—that is, the entirety of our mechanized civilization. Just replacing transportation fuel with biofuel would consume 4 million square miles, and transportation fuel represents less than one-quarter of global energy consumption worldwide.

It is a deep irony that the global elites who wish to cram humanity into ultra high density “smart cities” are at the same time advocating renewable energy that is, in all of its politically correct iterations—wind, solar, biofuel—consuming stupendous expanses of open land, and wreaking environmental havoc in the process.

It is also ironic that the supposed visionary focus on “renewables” is in reality so shortsighted. There is breakthrough potential from dawning innovations ranging from high-rise agriculture to fusion power, from satellite solar power stations to new, novel ways of directly synthesizing transportation fuel from atmospheric CO2, to innovations we can’t yet imagine. Why not use inexpensive conventional fuel in the meantime, and by so doing, more quickly lift peoples and nations out of poverty?

In our rush to avoid using fossil fuels, we are destroying the world in order to save it.

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Photo Credit: Placebo365/Getty Images

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Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Environment • Post • The Left

AOC Is a Fool, But Her Politics Are Here to Stay

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SPEAK, MEMORY

Of the once cunning heroine, the whimperer, blown off course since the State of the Union, after she plundered Shapiro’s sacred facts. Speak of all the cities in which she could not afford to live, the minds she failed to grasp, the suffering deep in her heart (and brain) at sea, as she struggled to survive and bring hope to the American people, but could not save them, hard as she tried. The fools—destroyed by their own recklessness when they ate the farting oxen of McDonald the Clown, and that God snuffed out their tax returns. Of these things, speak, Immortal One, and tell the tale once more in our time.

Beginning in the mode of epic poetry is made necessary to match the epic, and tragic, self-regard of this its subject, one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Queen of the Vandals, the on-staff Boyfriend, and the Lost Boys, Protector of the 14th district, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Growers, Lady of the Bronx, Breaker of Brains, and Mother of Dragon Spirits.

Or, at least, I assume that’s how she styles herself, but one can never be sure.

Let me say at the outset that I regret the necessity of this column. Not so long ago, in the early days of 2019, I was persuaded that we were witnessing the rise of a Donald Trump-level media manipulator in Ocasio-Cortez. Her savvy focus on the conflict between generations and classes, rather than the conflict between races, sexes, or identity groups, effectively uniting one of the largest generations in American history against another (receding) one, suggested an extraordinary, even visionary ability to sift the signal from the noise and spot the actual conflict—Boomers versus Millennials—that underlies so much of the modern “culture war.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s apparent grasp of lesser-known, even wonky doctrines like Modern Monetary Theory, spoke of a deeper, and far more comprehensive, level of policy-savvy than her consumer friendly mode of speech suggested. Not to mention, she was both dazzlingly pretty and (more importantly) sparklingly, unflappably happy in a way that few political warriors manage to be in modern times.

And, of course, it was more than a little pleasurable to watch this young woman fend off the most cringeworthy, basic, boring members of the conservative media establishment with such mocking, self-assured aplomb, while they came at her with a punditry as panting as Dom Claude Frollo, as pedantic as Sheldon Cooper, and as pathetic as Milhouse. Indeed, I would say that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still ends up blessed in her enemies a good deal.

It was more than a little rich, for instance, to watch Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) correctly and wittily excoriate Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” as a purely aesthetic totem of wokeness, only then to turn around and suggest that the cure for climate change was (wait for it) babies. What was that you were saying about unserious aesthetic signaling to your political base, Mike?

Nevertheless, when it comes to AOC, the worm has turned. And just to minimize confusion, when I say “worm,” I don’t mean the Speaker of the House, though that person’s opinion of her junior colleague from New York has probably “turned” as well.

Ocasio-Cortez may once have been a rising star, and perhaps she still sees herself as a shooting star, or, failing that, a meteor destined to crash into the D.C. ecosystem and purge the dinosaurs nesting there. But even if it is the freshman Democrat’s goal to rid us of the Trumpceratopses, the Feinsteinosauri, and the Aeropla—er, Aerodactyls—the fact is, she has been reduced to nothing but a molten, seething, scarred rock and, apparently, has the IQ to match.

Whence Comes the Fall?
Where to trace this sudden fall from grace? Perhaps we could start with Ocasio-Cortez’s disastrous friendship with Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—two women so blatant and shameless in their support for a hostile foreign ideology that even Henry Wallace would blush to see it.

Perhaps we could point to her fatal decision to stake her political career on the so-called Green New Deal, an alleged “policy document” that would be so utterly corrosive to the American economy and body politic that it may as well be called the Gangrene New Deal.

Or, perhaps, we should start with her semi-Trumpian proclamation that moral correctness is more important than factual correctness shortly after informing the world that the U.S. Defense Department budget contained enough money to begin construction on several Imperial Star Destroyers.

But, I think, all of these criticisms miss the mark. The true moment when the game was up and Ocasio-Cortez was reduced to a footnote in history came silently. Ironically, the woman didn’t have to utter a word.

The fatal blow came during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union, a moment that has proved a make-or-break outing for many politicians. Specifically, it occurred when President Trump, in one of the more unifying rhetorical moments of the night, called for Washington to “embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.” Even Pelosi had to stand up and clap, albeit half sarcastically.

But when the cameras cut to AOC, it was like watching a sped-up timelapse of a rose withering. I do not say that AOC withered before our eyes because she failed to smile or present herself as a nice, non-threatening girl. The vapid smile of a frightened young thing trying to placate her boss would have been equally pathetic. But smiles are not always flashed to show acquiescence: sometimes they are an excuse to bare one’s teeth.

It is not just that AOC did not smile prettily. Neither did she sneer, or smirk—both of which would’ve been even more aggressive reactions. The problem was that she gave no evidence of the unruffled defiance that had characterized her persona up to that point. All the sassy, irrepressible, happy warrior routine of the previous few months had dissipated. In their place crouched the persona of a sullen, hostile, and flustered teenager—made all the more absurd by the none-too-subtle Superhero-style cape that she had worn for the occasion. Before our eyes, Supergirl transformed into a low budget Supergirl cosplayer still trying, absurdly, to glare daggers at Lex Luthor.


Still, there is power in malevolence, even impotent malevolence. Had Ocasio-Cortez stayed like that all night, she might have retained some of her iconic status as a sort of Leftist Grim Reaper mentally sharpening her scythe for the president and his entire generation of politicians, even as the room applauded around her. But she couldn’t even get this right.

Instead, when President Trump applauded the number of women who had gained seats in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez jumped to the feet with the rest of her white-clad sisters, laughing and clapping like the snarkiest trained seal. Anyone watching could have read the message implicitly: when Trump promoted something that was good for the country, but not good for AOC’s brand, she sulked in her chair. When Trump gave her attention, she applauded. There are few things a politician cannot spin effectively: one of them is the message that she thinks this is all about her. And that was exactly what Ocasio-Cortez’s behavior showed. She couldn’t have self-destructed more perfectly if Clarence Darrow had put her on the stand.

What’s more, in looking so sullen and downcast, Ocasio-Cortez took away the aura of invincibility she had shown to that point. Politicians may rage, or sulk, and stew in their own resentment in private—they are human, after all—but to do it in public is deadly. In her sour, slumped over silence, it is hard to imagine a single fair-minded viewer (which is to say, not one of AOC’s diehard fans) not wondering if Trump had gotten to her: if he had pierced that impregnable aura of Bronxian self-assurance and made her bleed.

Sealing Her Fate
Ocasio-Cortez might have recovered, had she had her office issue the usual anti-Trump talking points, and then remained silent, letting the public guess as to her innermost reactions. Instead, she chose to open her mouth and remove all doubt that Trump had rattled her.

Later that night, in her very first appearance on Rachel Maddow’s program on MSNBC, Ocasio-Cortez gave one of the more extraordinary and arguably damaging interviews of her career. In a two-minute rant, Ocasio-Cortez accused Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of human rights violations, such as keeping immigrants in ice boxes; argued that the agency should be defunded; tried to claim that President Trump was restricting all forms of legal immigration while citing only forms of legal immigration that favor liberal interests; accused Trump of being anti-American; and said that illegal immigrants were more American than Trump.

All bizarre stuff, but the really important point wasn’t what she said. It was how she said it.

She spoke so fast that her sentences tumbled from her mouth; the transition between her thoughts was halting and harassed. She was so angry she could barely get the words out properly; at times, she seemed on the verge of tears. Her fans declared it a passionate, authentic moment, and it was that. But what they failed to mention was that it also came off as helpless: like she had tried every argument she could think of to get her parents to let her stay out late, and was starting to cry from frustration and anger that nothing had worked. In one night, AOC the unflappable had become AOC the inconsolable. Anyone paying attention on the Right should’ve smelled blood.

Now She’s Just Weird
From there, the rest—her slide into the Tlaib and Omar caucus as one of the Weird Sisters of anti-Americanism, the degeneration of factual content in her communications, the troubling questions about corruption in her office, and the insane decision to stake her early career on promoting one of the most politically impossible documents ever to be written by a member of congress—were all inevitable.

And yet, despite executing a virtual bloodless coup over Democratic Party leadership and forcing them mostly to accept her sophomore year Model U.N.-level solution for climate change, Ocasio-Cortez’s every utterance stinks more and more of defensive desperation, of the refusal of self-criticism, of the unbearable insolence of proud, repeated error for the sake of protecting one’s ego.

Rather than airily and regally dismissing tired Boomer clichés about socialism and entitlement, she now finds herself dragged into squabbling over whether she wants to ban hamburgers, or airplanes, or cows that produce methane. The dignity of her office, and of her specifically, are in the toilet, along with her approval ratings.

For all of AOC’s Medea-esque descent into madness, it would be foolish to dismiss the ideology that she has, albeit shrilly and unpersuasively, attempted to introduce as the Democratic Party’s primary vision.

Which brings me to the Green New Deal, itself. Having read the document, I would say Mike Lee’s attack on it as an unserious aesthetic document doesn’t capture the problem at all. The Green New Deal resolution is not aesthetics masquerading as policy: it’s a panic attack disguised as a political program.

The messaging around the Green New Deal makes that as clear as anything. Everything that everyone who supports it says, from AOC on down, can be summarized by quoting Chicken Little. “Don’t just stand there, do something!” the armies of children reminiscent of Mao instruct us. “The sky is falling! The sea levels are rising! We’re going to live in a Mad Max hellscape if you don’t ground the planes, kill the cows, stop the boats, and rebuild all the buildings now! What price to stop the collapse of society into a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes when our resources run dry?!”

On its own terms, this injunction is desperately persuasive. And what’s more, its vision of an alternative is far more interesting, and ominous, than all the sniggering about banning planes and farting cows would suggest. One of the more sinister elements of it, in fact, has nothing to do with banning anything: rather, it Ocasio-Cortez’s suggestion—shared by many others on the Left— that we cannot have a green economy without redressing various issues of racial grievance. Broadly reports:

There is no justice and there is no combating climate change without addressing what has happened to indigenous communities,” [Ocasio-Cortez] told reporters. “That means that there is no fixing our economy without addressing the racial wealth gap.

This language is echoed in the actual legislation, as well:

It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal . . . to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.

How does any of this cut down carbon emissions? If anything, according to the traditional Malthusian logic of environmentalism, poorer communities should have a lower carbon footprint, due to consuming fewer items that require carbon to produce or use. Poor people ride the bus. Rich people drive cars. Very rich people fly in private jets. Making poor communities richer would, therefore, seem to imply higher emissions—right?

But this is to miss the true vision underlying the Green New Deal, which is not a traditional document of Malthusian environmentalism, even if some of its wackier proposals owe a debt to that tradition. Rather, it is an intersectional vision, and a more authentic one than the visions of “intersectionality” held by people who claim to believe in the concept.

A New Old Religion
Everything in Ocasio-Cortez’s vision is totalizing, down to her reference to factory farming when pressed on the hamburgers point. Her understanding of a dirty economy is not merely one that produces carbon emissions: it is one that pollutes the lives of literally everyone in it. In this view, the polluters seek license not just to pollute the air and water for the sake of profit, but also to pollute the economy with artificial scarcity (one of AOC’s persistent bugaboos), to pollute the social fabric with bigotry, to be given the right to kill defenseless animals for food, to murder defenseless minorities for law and order, to kill factory workers before their time for profit, to keep children in bad schools so that they can one day fill prisons and become slave labor, to murder indigenous peoples for conquest, and so on.

A green economy, on the other hand, is one that denies scarcity, competition, conquest, church, tribe, and above all, one that rejects trade-offs.

As Whittaker Chambers once said of Communism, it is the second oldest faith in the world, first whispered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Ye shall be as Gods.” And like Gods, ye shall have the right to punish those who blaspheme against you by shaming them on Twitter. Thus, this worldview is perfect atomization, reimagined as perfect liberation. For every man, woman, genderqueer, intersex, transman, transwoman, two-spirit, and yellow-scaled dragonkin, a perfect, hermetically sealed safe space with all needs provided, and no necessity of engaging in the messy, imperfect, zero-sum world of human interaction.

C.S. Lewis may have described Hell as a Grey Town of perfectly alone, atomized human beings, yet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has taken the same concept and renamed it the Green Economy. And what stops this infernal vision from being realized? Why, nothing less than the sum total of all economic, social, and political forces that have bent their will upon humanity throughout history, and all of which mercilessly, implacably intersect. The only way to fix the world where polluters can endlessly poison the weakest among us by forcing them to interact as flawed mortals, therefore, is to tear all of society up by the roots, so that the nonconfrontational, noncompetitive, non-scarce green utopia can come into being.

This poisonous utopian dream, which is a form of the greatest species of social pollution ever conceived, will find more adherents. It will be expressed by voices more successful because more careful and skillful than AOC’s. It will come from people much harder to confound and goad into incoherence. In this respect, Ocasio-Cortez is no visionary: she is merely the designated captain of a plague ship sent into the harbor of America by decades of subversive activism.

This captainess will go down with her ship, but the disease is on our shores one way or another. Curing it will take a lot more than just spanking a few children: it will take a serious, and no less comprehensive offer to multiple adrift younger generations that fits their needs more ably and more sensibly than this Green Fever Dream ever could. The task of constructing that alternative will take far abler minds than the Right presently has on offer, and the task of selling it will take far more than f—king up the career of a single woman, however f—kable she is.

Photo Credit: Senate Democrats

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California • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Economy • Environment • Post • The Left

Too Few Homes, Too Many Homeless: How it Happened

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Apart from the fine weather unique to California, there is little stopping the homeless crisis that grips that state from infecting the rest of America. The Golden State’s other, even bigger problem—unaffordable housing—is also coming to America. All the elements are in place.

First of a two-part series

The problem of increasing homelessness boils down to three fundamental policy failures: Massive immigration, overpriced housing, and an inability of state and local governments properly to deal with homeless people.

Volumes could be written about each of these problems, because each one of them is symptomatic of deeper challenges. Immigration is fundamentally transforming our culture. Overpriced housing is only one element of the economic asset bubble that offers an illusory, unsustainable substitute for genuine economic growth. And our inability to deal with the homeless is just one example of a stultified society, mired in legal disputes, bureaucratic inertia, and corruption.

Before exploring how these three problems exacerbate homelessness, it’s important to declare their larger significance. The way each of these problems affects homelessness and how each of them might be solved in order to resolve the problem of homelessness points the way to larger, more general solutions.

Mass Immigration Raises Demand for Housing
The easiest of the three to understand is mass immigration. It is also the easiest to solve, which unfortunately is only to say the other problems are even tougher. Since 1965, more than 60 million people have immigrated to the United States. During that time, the total population has risen from just under 200 million to more than 325 million. In other words, immigration is responsible for at least 50 percent of the population growth in America during this time.

In reality, the number is considerably greater than 50 percent. For example, the Brookings Institution estimates that between 2006 and 2017, the population of childbearing-age offspring of native-born Americans has fallen by 0.5 percent per year, while the population of childbearing age offspring of immigrants has risen by 3 percent per year. Immigrants are having children at well above replacement levels, while native-born Americans are in slow decline.

The point to all that is simple. Demand for housing in America has dramatically increased because of population growth, and population growth largely has been the result of immigration.

One may argue all day that a rising population is necessary to ensure healthy economic growth, but that argument needs some important qualifications.

First, while it is generally true that a rising population is a good thing, how true it is depends greatly on what sort of population grows. When it comes to immigration, the data points to a complex mix. According to a summary of studies done on America’s immigrant population, “From 1970 to at least 2000—and possibly all the way to 2007—each new wave of immigrants was less educated, relative to natives, than the wave that had come before.” The article notes, “The educational decline has ended, but the improvement has not led to economic successes. Another area where the dramatic increase in new immigrants’ education did not result in a dramatic improvement in their situation is welfare use.” With respect to illegal immigration, the data showed them to be among the least educated, particularly those from Latin America.

When it comes to immigration, if the United States were able successfully to restrict immigration to skilled professionals, these immigrants would be able to afford homes, and they would be greater contributors to private-sector economic growth.

But there is a bigger challenge: what does optimal population growth look like? At what point do Americans decide there are enough people living here, and the downside to mass immigration outweighs the upside? Perfecting an economic model that accommodates slow population growth, or none at all, remains a challenge that no society has met, anywhere on earth. It is a challenge that is most often touted by the American Left for reasons of ecological sustainability, yet the American Left includes the most enthusiastic champions of mass immigration.

Regardless of these nuances, mass immigration has increased the demand for housing in the United States. This has driven up the prices for housing, which has left low-income residents—millions of whom are low-skilled illegal immigrants—either homeless or barely hanging on to an overpriced rental.

Political Mistakes Have Artificially Restricted the Supply of Housing
Returning to a numerically moderate, merit-based immigration policy, with secure borders, is a cakewalk compared to rolling back the political mistakes that have restricted the supply of new housing. Across the nation, but especially in blue states like California, it has become extremely difficult for a property owner to develop housing on their land. The array of forces working to restrict housing is daunting—virtually all “enlightened” politicians, powerful environmentalist pressure groups, big land developers, and the financial sector.

In California, for years, state legislation has made it nearly impossible for developers to construct new housing outside the so-called urban growth boundary. Instead, development is redirected into the footprint of existing urban areas. Environmentalist laws such as California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) create additional barriers. California’s legislature has now made it necessary for new home construction to be 100 percent “energy neutral” by 2020, greatly increasing building costs.

Where the environmentalist inspired mandates leave off, insatiable public-sector greed kicks in. According to a study last year by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, the lowest per house city service and “impact fees” were $20,000—in Sacramento, of all places. The highest fees were a mind-boggling $160,000 per home in Fremont, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is the true motivation for these outrageous fees—ostensibly to pay for public services associated with new homes? Excessive public-sector compensation, “negotiated” by government unions that exercise almost absolute control over California’s state and local politicians.

In California, public employees collect, on average, twice as much in pay and benefits as the average full-time private sector employee. The biggest cause of this excess? Public-sector pensions and retiree health care, which for retirees in California with 30 years of government service average well over $70,000 per year.

Public sector greed is a primary factor in elevating California’s cost-of-living to punitive levels. The irony is deep. Public employees could afford to make less if they made less.

Complicit in the artificial, politically contrived scarcity of housing in California are the biggest land developers. These politically connected large firms can afford to wait years if not decades for their projects to gain approval, and they can afford to pay thousands if not millions in fees to attorneys, consultants, and government agencies long before they ever reap any profit. But when they finally sell their housing developments to consumers trained to pay $1,000 per square foot or more, their profits are fat indeed.

No discussion of California’s inflated housing values is complete without explaining the benefit these bubble values impart to financial interests. Mortgage lenders build their base of collateral. Pension funds see their real estate portfolios yield impressive gains. Public entities realize growing property tax receipts. But asset bubbles do not constitute economic growth, and pursuing this economic strategy is both exploitative and unsustainable.

Policies to Address the Homeless Are Inadequate and Corrupt
Insufficient supply in the face of unprecedented demand aren’t the only reasons California has a homeless problem. Miserably inadequate “solutions,” mired in corruption are also to blame. Part of the problem is that the available solutions are hampered by an assortment of judicial rulings.

In Los Angeles, officials estimate the homeless population now exceeds 50,000. Homeless people have taken over huge swaths of the city. Moving them out of some of the most desirable public spaces is nearly impossible, however, because in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Jones v. City of Los Angeles (2006) that law enforcement and city officials can no longer enforce the ban on sleeping on sidewalks anywhere within L.A. city limits until a sufficient amount of “permanent supportive housing” could be built.

To address this growing problem, in 2016, 76 percent of Los Angeles voters approved the $1.2 billion Measure HHH to “help finance the construction of 10,000 units of affordable permanent-supportive housing over the next 10 years.” How these funds have been applied will be read in history books centuries from now as an example of epic corruption. Here is an excerpt from an email received from a local activist fighting to save Venice Beach from the homeless invasion. It speaks volumes:

We know there is a serious problem of large populations of homeless people in and around Los Angeles and we know the solution is not an easy one for anyone. We have compassion for these people and we want to help. But the homesteaders along Venice Boardwalk are not your average “down on your luck homeless”; they are mostly either out of prison left in the streets with nowhere to go or bohemian drifters and runaways who are hooked on drugs and choose this lifestyle. Many do have a place to go or capability of other means of existence but prefer the ease the Venice community for comfort, camaraderie and ease of obtaining food and restroom facility.

Clearly, the homeless encampments in Venice Beach, where well over 1,000 vagrants are estimated to reside, are destroying that community. The city’s response? Conversion of a 3.2-acre, city-owned parcel into a homeless shelter capable of holding, get this, “about 100 people.” The shelter in progress, which will be “wet,” meaning vagrants who are intoxicated will be allowed to enter the shelter, is located less than 500 feet from the beach.

In a less corrupt city, that property could be sold, and the proceeds could be used to set up and monitor a tent city housing thousands of people.

This excerpt from another email received from a neighborhood activist in another afflicted part of Los Angeles explains what’s really going on:

Unfortunately, there is too much money involved for anyone to be considering tent cities. The costs are running between $400,000 and $500,000 per unit for the projects. All of the parcels they are considering are worth millions of dollars and the taxpayers of L.A. would be much better off if the city just sold them and used that money to fund government rather than new taxes. Everyone at city hall is pushing these facilities. The city has billions to spend on them. The City Council members get campaign donations from the developers. The developers then use our money to build these buildings. The buildings are then handed off to nonprofits with long term contracts to run them. When we showed up to protest the Sherman Oaks proposed sites, our opposition consisted of LAHSA, United Way and a bunch of other so-called non-profits that stand to get big dollars from these sites.

These inflated costs are well documented. This absurd waste is repeating itself throughout California.

Coming to a State Near You
It isn’t impossible to fix the problem of inadequate, unaffordable housing and a burgeoning homeless population. What California’s facing isn’t something that had to happen. But powerful special interests like things just the way they are, and those special interests are growing in influence across America.

At the national level, the push for open borders might be unstoppable, thanks to the peculiar alliance between all Democrats who want to import sympathetic voters, hard Leftist globalists who want to undermine and ultimately destroy America as we know it, libertarian globalists naively standing on “principle,” and big business interests hoping to suppress wages. That’s a tough coalition to crack.

But it gets worse. Perhaps even more influential is the financial elite, who have decided on a macroeconomic level that the real estate asset bubble must be maintained in order to preserve credit enabling collateral. These financial wizards view immigrant-fueled population growth as an essential factor in maintaining a high demand for real estate.

At the national level, an equally daunting alliance has formed to make housing construction more difficult. The environmentalist movement leads the way, clamoring for a smaller “urban footprint,” using “climate change” paranoia as the moral bulldozer to clear away opposition. But the bulldozer is rarely necessary. The intelligentsia—that is, mainstream media, think tanks, and thought leaders in the professions of architecture, design, construction, engineering, and infrastructure—has glommed onto the small-is-beautiful theme, pushing for “new urbanism,” “smart growth,” “in-fill,” “urban containment,” “transit villages,” “light rail,” “densification,” and so on. But they’re not alone.

Right behind the environmentalists are the public employees, whose pension funds and property tax revenues are goosed by real estate bubbles. On a parochial level, but more often than not, an additional incentive cities have for densification and urban containment is that it keeps development within their municipal borders, within confined areas, lowering the per capita cost of providing public services at the same time that it grows revenues.

While California is so far gone it may only serve as a cautionary example, it would be a mistake to assume that any other state is immune from these influences. In Texas, a state where homes remain affordable, voters in November elected a Democrat as the new chief executive for Harris County. Don’t laugh. Harris County is the third-largest county in America, covering all of Houston and greater Houston, with more than 4.5 million residents.

One may safely presume that Democrats will push for restrictions on housing using the same tactics they use in California—i.e., urban containment, environmentalist construction mandates, escalating fees. But the surprise election of Democrat Lina Hidalgo, a 27-year-old with no government experience, is not the first wave assault on home affordability in Houston. It’s the next wave.

A thorough exposé of the encroachments “smart growth” zealots are making on policy in Houston can be found in urban geographer Joel Kotkin’s August 2018 article in City Journal, “The Battle for Houston.” Kotkin explains how despite the success Houston has had to-date with minimal zoning and practical flood control infrastructure, the zealous “experts” are trying to change everything. Instead of upgrading flood control channels and levees, they are proposing mandatory elevated homes, something that would cost more, and disproportionately harm low-income neighborhoods. And, of course, the experts are advocating “for the creation of a ‘thick’ (meaning denser) city, with an enhanced role for traditional transit.”

Houston, beware. Everything the smart growth crowd asks for, they’re going to get, as long as Democrats—and their coalition of big business, big labor, unionized government, financial predators, environmentalist nonprofits and their army of trial lawyers—are in charge. The war for California has been lost. California has to be recaptured, if that’s even possible. The war for Texas is on, with the largest metropolitan area already in enemy hands.

America, the scarcity profiteers are coming for you.

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Democrats • Elections • Energy • Environment • Post • The Left

Do Left-Wing Billionaires ‘Own’ House Democrats?

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As the Democratic presidential field begins to take shape, liberal and left-wing billionaires are shopping around for the best candidate to support. Some, as we shall see, are also seeking to torpedo President Trump’s presidency through impeachment long before the 2020 election takes place.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of what these billionaires have already accomplished: they helped elect a Democratic House of Representatives in 2018 that largely can be relied upon to do their bidding. In other words, the Democrats have become what they always professed to loath: a party propped up by big-money interests and beholden to a small clique of ambitious billionaires.

In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in Citizens United v. FEC that independent groups (and thus corporations and the super-rich) could spend unlimited amounts of money on political advocacy. Democrats cried foul. Capitalist and conservative interests would use this constitutional “loophole,” claimed the Left, to flood the airwaves with regressive propaganda, nullifying democracy and trampling the rights of the American people.

Just a few years later, the Democrats are singing a different tune. In 2018, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives, financed—irony of ironies!—by massive infusions of cash from unaccountable left-wing billionaires. Topping the list of the Democratic Party’s deep pocketed liberal stalwarts are Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.

Steyer’s political advocacy groups, including “Need to Impeach” and “NextGen Climate Action,” spent more than $120 million in 2018, much of it from Steyer’s own $1.6 billion fortune. Steyer has concentrated his efforts (in which he plays a starring role) on building momentum for a campaign to impeach President Trump, but he has also worked hard to increase youth and minority turnout to benefit Democratic candidates across the country.

Meanwhile, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pumped millions of dollars into a massive effort to elect candidates who support gun control. All told, he spent in excess of $100 million in 2018, much of it through his Super PAC “Independence USA,” which undertook a surgically precise effort to boost Democratic House candidates in swing districts.

Since many of the Democratic victories in critical House races were achieved by minuscule margins, many political observers view Bloomberg’s largesse as the critical factor that allowed Democrats to flip the House. Certainly Democratic candidates (and their backers) managed to outspend even incumbent Republicans in many districts, thanks in large part to Bloomberg.

Steyer and Bloomberg assert that their tens of millions of dollars were meant to help “save democracy” from the depredations of the greatest supervillain of all time: President Donald Trump. It pays to consider the question, however, whether “democracy” is really the ultimate goal for either man. Their records suggest otherwise.

Consider that both Steyer and Bloomberg have shown a willingness, even a burgeoning enthusiasm, for end-running democratic processes when those processes don’t produce the outcomes that these imperious tycoons desire, or when their financial interests would be better served by a different outcome.

For instance, Steyer and Bloomberg both have embraced the agenda of combating climate change, which for them means attempting to hobble and delegitimize the fossil fuel industry through smear tactics, disinvestment campaigns, and nuisance lawsuits, all while they realign their investments to profit from the expected shift of the U.S. economy toward (largely impractical) sources of renewable and “green” energy.

Steyer has supported, mostly by covert means, legal efforts to sue fossil fuel producers for the anticipated future costs climate change might impose on municipalities and states. Former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman even appears to have sought donations from Steyer in return for initiating a bogus lawsuit against oil giant ExxonMobil in line with the infamous “La Jolla playbook.” The playbook is essentially a how-to manual for the destruction of the fossil fuel industry, using techniques of legal harassment and media manipulation.

Bloomberg, if anything, has been even more aggressive in supporting the onslaught against the energy industry, bankrolling staff in various state attorneys general offices tasked with pursuing “climate justice,” i.e. the evisceration of oil and coal companies that compete with Bloomberg’s favored green energy suppliers. In effect, Bloomberg is subcontracting his profit-seeking vendetta against “Big Oil” to Democratic state attorneys general, who are more than willing to accept his dubious “charity.” A more naked conflict of interest in the administration of American justice would be hard to imagine.

The lesson is clear: not only have Democrats turned their backs on their principles by allowing our democracy to be compromised by big-money interests—they simultaneously have turned over the metaphorical keys to the city of American politics to ruthless, self-interested billionaires, whose records suggest that they see elections as but one tool in their expansive toolkits to achieve federal, state, and local government compliance with their wishes.

We haven’t seen the last of Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. Today, they may be bankrolling negative ads to elect left-wing Democrats to the House. Tomorrow, and the next day, they will be using their vast fortunes to make sure those same Democrats do their bidding, and to retain teams of high-priced lawyers to bend the nation’s courts to their will.

And that’s not all. Recent reports indicate that Bloomberg is planning to spend at least $500 million in 2020 to oust Trump, upping the stakes even further.

Is it “democracy” that the American people voted for in 2018, or plutocracy? We’ll know soon enough.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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Center for American Greatness • Economy • Environment • Infrastructure • Post • Progressivism • Technology

Green Luddites Are Coming for Your House, Car, and Freedom

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The New York Times this week published a guest opinion column headlined, “Why Housing Policy Is Climate Policy.” Authors Scott Wiener and Daniel Kammen argue that in order to reduce “greenhouse gas,” we need “denser housing and public transportation.” They go on to state that “low-density, single-family-home zoning is effectively a ban on economically diverse communities.”

Like so much coming from the corporate Left in America, probably the most dangerous aspect of this column is the blithe presumption that its premises are beyond debate. The climate will change catastrophically, and emissions from burning fossil fuel are the culprit. Low-density housing is the reason fossil fuel emissions remain too high. Public transportation is a good thing.

Just hold on. Stop right there. Emissions of CO2 may not change the climate very much at all, and the cost of precipitously curtailing them condemns billions of people around the world to prolonged poverty and misery. And in any case, high-density housing is creating more CO2 emissions, because existing roads cannot handle the increased traffic. And no, public transportation is not always a good thing.

Scott Wiener, a California legislator, and Daniel Kammen, a Berkeley professor who submits reports to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are part of the “consensus” that has decided any of us who question their premises are either stupid, evil, or paid hacks. They are part of the “consensus” that thinks it’s not just ok, but morally necessary and commendable to suppress opinions like ours and silence debate. They are part of the “consensus” that brands us as “deniers,” impugns our motives, questions our integrity, and dismisses facts and evidence that do not support their premises.

Irony and Lack of Vision
When you look at the policies promoted and enacted by Wiener and Kammen’s fellow travelers in business and politics, there is irony in every direction.

It is ironic that the people who they claim to want to help are harmed the most by the insanely expensive enforcement of renewable energy, housing density, and housing scarcity. It is ironic that the fossil fuel industry, which they claim to oppose, becomes more profitable when new drilling is curtailed, and new power plants using coal and natural gas have to be constructed to fill in every time the sun goes down, the wind stops blowing, or yet another nuclear power plant is decommissioned. It is ironic that they decry the “footprint” of fossil fuel, but are blind to the sprawling blight of windmills and solar farms.

It is ironic that they care about “environmental justice,” yet seem completely indifferent to the exploitation endured by miners in Africa who scrap for the cobalt needed in batteries. It is ironic that every time another government regulation or grant or subsidy or tax is enacted to “help create housing and house the homeless,” the attendant corruption and fraud and monstrous inefficiencies manage to waste nearly every dime.

Perhaps the biggest irony is how Wiener and Kammen, and all who share their perspective, have no apparent faith in technology to solve the challenges they claim are upon us. After all, the epicenter of “green” consciousness is California, and California also happens to be the epicenter of the global high-technology industry. So why can’t these California greens look optimistically into the future a few years, and quit trying to make everyone’s lives so constrained and so expensive? Imagine.

Within the next few decades, there will be modular, plug-and-play desalination units that coastal municipalities can put offshore to supply abundant water to their residents. In turn, these desalination units can be powered by modular, safe, plug-and-play nuclear reactors, scaled to whatever size is required, and nearly maintenance free. Within the next fifty years or so, energy will be beamed from orbiting solar power stations to earth-based receivers to deliver uninterrupted electricity. We’re probably less than 100 years from having commercial, scalable fusion power.

Stultifying Stagnation as a Utopian Principle
These are just a few of the wondrous innovations that are only one or two generations away, a mere heartbeat in the span of human civilization, and the only things stopping them are people like Scott Wiener and Daniel Kammen as well as organizations like the California Air Resources Board and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Let these dogmatic, tyrannical utopians have their way, and we will sink into a stultifying mire of politically anointed and narrowly specified approved technologies. We will stagnate. The great arc of human progress will come to a crashing halt.

Within a few decades, self-driving cars, some owned for personal use, others privately owned but serving the public, will zoom along smart hyperlanes at speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour. They will convoy with each other, running close together, using linked navigation systems, to facilitate far more throughput per lane mile than today’s freeways. Overhead, within a few decades, electric drones will shuttle people to and from their chosen destinations at speeds well in excess of 200 miles per hour. And far overhead, at around 50,000 feet, supersonic electric planes will fly at speeds well in excess of 1,000 miles per hour.

Kammen . . .  Wiener . . . get the hell out of the way.

Meanwhile, conventional solutions abound in spacious California, and most everywhere else on earth. There’s nothing wrong with increasing density in the urban core of existing cities. But why not also open up empty rangeland for development? California, for example, is only 5 percent urbanized. Why not increase that by 50 percent? Recommission the San Onofre nuclear power plant, adding a few reactors. Raise the Shasta Dam by 200 feet, instead of today’s tepidly promoted, still politically unpalatable 18 feet. Then you’d have all the power and water you’ll ever need for millions of new residents, living in single-family dwellings, with private backyards.

Progress That Facilitates Freedom and Choice
Some people like to live in urban high rises. Others prefer homes with yards. That’s called choice. It’s also called freedom. It’s the blessing of capitalism and the American way. And facilitating the ability for the private sector to compete to make those choices available and affordable to anyone with a decent job, is the legitimate duty of government. The job of government emphatically is not coming up with all these theoretical crises and using them as an excuse to cram us into apartments, make us ride trains, and rig the system so that a mandated, constrained life is actually more expensive.

More caustic than Kammen’s dogmatism, or the ironic contradictions that inform his premises and his convictions, is his hypocrisy. Rather than suggest everyone else lose the opportunity to have a home with a yard, Kammen, who lives in a five-bedroom house on an expansive lot in the Oakland hills, is invited to move himself and his family into one of the new units to be offered in a six-story “economically diverse” condominium situated in a “transit village.” While he’s at it, let him get rid of his car, place his children in the nearest public school, and practice what he preaches. But don’t expect him to actually do it.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Donald Trump • Electoral College • Environment • Identity Politics • Post • The Constitution • The Left

Constitutional Fairyland

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Another week, a new harvest of insane Democratic pre-electoral hobby horses. Various of the numberless swarm of presidential aspirants in that party have glibly chimed in with their views of how to modify American government to assure a permanent “progressive” majority. Gathering steam now are absurd ideas to side-step the Electoral College, pack the Supreme Court, lower the voting age to 16, and divide the political rubble heap of California into three or four states to create more Democratic senators.

All of this is nonsense, emanating from the same political fairyland as the 12-year elimination of carbon use and bovine flatulence. La Pasionaria Occasion assures us her Green New Deal will not lead to millions of unemployed as the leaders of organized leaders claim, but too a “reinvigorated workforce.” That is a (presumably) unintended recourse to Orwellian newspeak: involuntary unemployment is rarely reinvigorating.

Would-Be Rulers East and West
The bunk about the Electoral College is an attempt to subvert the basis of the American federal system. Little states such as Delaware and Rhode Island had the same number of senators as large states like Virginia (which then included West Virginia) and Pennsylvania, for the reason that their interests as states were just as significant as those of the large ones—and probably in need of even greater protection. (Philadelphia in 1787 was the second largest English-speaking city in the world, with 34,000 people, though a long way behind London, 20 times as populous.)

The champions of the project to negate the Electoral College recognize the practical impossibility of amending the U.S. Constitution for such a partisan measure. In practice, an amendment requires a two-thirds majority of each house of Congress and the concurrence of three quarters of the states, and evidently partisan measures have no chance of leaping these hurdles. Especially in this case, where all the states with fewer than ten electoral votes are effectively disenfranchised, the opposition of a majority of states could be assured in advance.

The detour proposed is that states determine that all their electoral votes shall be cast for whichever candidate receives the largest number of votes. In effect, the Democratic Party elders in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco want to take for themselves the power to overturn the verdict rendered by 20 or more states in all parts of the country. A federation equitably homogenizes the collective will of the whole country and balances out the great cities and the more thinly populated states, the regions, and the vastly differing socio-economic characters of the different states.

The whole idea is based on the false notion that the present system throws up presidents who receive fewer votes than their chief competitor. This has happened with John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson in 1824, Rutherford Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland in 1888, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 (if the Democratic votes in Alabama for Senator Byrd are not falsely awarded to Kennedy), in the Bush-Gore election of 2000, and the Trump-Clinton election of 2016. Calling upon small states to fall on their swords and put their votes where New Yorkers and Angelenos and Chicagoans want will not achieve the goal of “making every vote count” that is claimed. This is part of the leftist misspeak that holds, inter alia, that “pro-choice” means pro-choice when it really means pro-abortion, and that euthanasia is “death with dignity” and death from a wasting illness is not. (In general, suicide is not usually the most dignified way to die, though it can be. The point is that it should not be allowed the benefit of that phrase uncritically.)

If the advocates of eliminating the Electoral College really wanted the candidate who received the most votes to win (of course, JFK and LBJ would be no better known today than Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen), then they should advocate that there be, as in the French presidential system, a run-off between the top-two candidates where there is not a majority on the first round. In 2016, Trump, on the second ballot, would have taken most of the Libertarian votes and the McMullin third party votes in Utah, and Clinton would have taken most of the Greens . . .

And Trump still probably would have won.

Under this proposal to end the Electoral College, entire election campaigns would be conducted in the 25 or 30 largest metropolitan areas, altogether excluding states with fewer than 10 electoral votes: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming—27 states with 147 electoral votes. Why should these states waive their right to influence elections just to add to the political stature of such unworthies as Chuck Schumer, Kirsten (“I chose brave”) Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, and Rahm Emanuel? This is a greater enthronement of shabby bossism than ever prevailed in the piping days of Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and the Kelly-Daley years in Chicago, (which, with Lyndon Johnson’s skullduggery in Texas in 1960 led John F. Kennedy to say: “Thank God for a few honest crooks”).

Partisan Nostrums Disguised as Reforms
The court-packing scheme is completely spurious. There are three co-equal branches of government. Apart from deciding on the number of judges, nothing entitles the legislature to tinker with the composition of the Supreme Court. The current proposals to impose term limits, apportion appointments to each president, and so forth are just cruder forms of meddling than even FDR attempted by seeking to expand the court. He had won a colossal reelection victory, sweeping in huge congressional majorities behind him in 1936, and he still failed to add a few judges “to lighten case-loads.” (He did succeed in frightening the Supreme Court to be careful about invalidating his legislation, and ended up appointing seven of the nine justices.) On that occasion, the all-time heavyweight political champion of the country was rebuffed by his own congressional majorities, very loyal in almost all other matters. This proposal is just a suicide mission.

The rest of it—lowering the voting age and splitting California into several states—is just a naked partisan power grab. At times, the young were more Republican—and so was California when it was the state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. These things can change.

In pointing this out my intent is not to protect the Democrats from suffering from their tendency to believe that conditions in each state will be as they are now. My point is to protect a system that generally works well and has the legitimacy accorded it from 230 years unbroken practice, from the infantile tinkering of hacks like the egregious Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez.

All of these partisan nostrums aren’t reforms, they are just the less than righteous grumblings of people who thought they had durably gamed the system already after they watched in horror as this president dumped their apple-cart and lumped in the look-alike Republicans going through the motions with the Democratic winners who show their gratitude by going to the funerals of Republicans they defeated in presidential elections.

The Reagan legacy was squandered when George H. W. Bush allowed the charlatan Ross Perot to take 20 million mainly Republican votes, and we got the Clintons—“New Democrats,” who metamorphosed into the new normal, flat-lined Obama welfare state. It is clear from the tenor of the Democratic race this year that these wished for “reforms” are just another wheeze of the “OBushintons” to re-establish a permanent majority for their soft-left vote-harvesting declinism: the disintegration of the American state in equal opportunity self-denigration in favor of every aggrieved claimant group, foreign and domestic.

It won’t fly, and if these numberless, faceless candidates push any of this silliness, they will regret it. They are already like an awkward wave of people going over a minefield and detonating everything. At some point they are going to have to try to mount a serious campaign. Joe Biden, inadequate as he is, will make every Trump vote count, and will enable the Democrats to solemnize their electoral death with dignity.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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America • Center for American Greatness • Energy • Environment • Post • Technology

What Would It Cost America to ‘Go Solar’?

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Proponents of renewable energy claim that wind and solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. According to USA Today, “Renewables close in on fossil fuels, challenging on price.” A Forbes headline agrees: “Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels.” The “expert” websites agree: “Renewable Electricity Levelized Cost Of Energy Already Cheaper,” asserts “energyinnovation.org.”

They’re all wrong. Renewable energy is getting cheaper every year, but it is a long way from competing with natural gas, coal, or even nuclear power, if nuclear power weren’t drowning in lawsuits and regulatory obstructions.

With both wind and solar energy, the cost not only of the solar panels and wind turbines has to be accounted for, but also of inverters, grid upgrades, and storage assets necessary to balance out the intermittent power.

Taking all variables into account, what might it cost for the entire U.S. to get 100 percent of its energy from solar energy?

Speaking the Language of Energy and Electricity
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States in 2017 consumed 97.7 quadrillion BTUs of energy. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are often used by economists to measure energy. One BTU is the energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree fahrenheit.

If we’re going understand what it takes to go solar, and usher in the great all-electric age where our heating and our vehicles are all part of the great green grid, then we have to convert BTUs into watts. That’s easy. One kilowatt-hour is equal to 3,412 BTUs. Following the math, one quadrillion BTUs is equal to 293,071 gigawatt-hours. Accordingly, 97.7 quadrillion BTUs is equal to 28.6 million gigawatt-hours. So how much would it cost for a solar energy infrastructure capable of delivering to America 28.6 million gigawatt-hours per year?

Solar panels are sold by the watt; residential systems are typically sized by kilowatt output, and large commercial solar “farms” are typically measured in megawatt output. A gigawatt is a billion watts. So generating 28.6 million gigawatt-hours in one year requires a lot of solar panels. How many?

To properly scope a solar system capable of generating 28.6 million gigawatt-hours per year, you have to take into account the “yield” of the system. A photovoltaic solar panel only generates electricity when the sun is shining. If you assume the “full sun equivalent” hours of solar production are eight hours per day (solar panels don’t generate nearly as much power when the sun is not directly overhead), then you can assume that in a year these panels will generate power for 2,922 hours. Since 28.6 million gigawatt-hours is equivalent to 28.6 quadrillion watt-hours, dividing that by 2,922 means you need a system capable of generating 9.8 trillion watts in full sun. How much will that cost?

A best case total cost for that much solar photovoltaic capacity would have to be at least $1.00 per watt. Because the labor and substrate costs to install photovoltaic solar panels have already fallen dramatically, it is unlikely to expect the cost per watt to ever drop under $1. Currently costs for large commercial systems are still just under $2 per watt. So the cost for solar panels to power the entire energy requirements of the United States would be at least $10 trillion.

But wait. There’s more. Much more.

“Getting Cheaper All the Time”? Yes, But . . .
Renewable energy boosters use what’s called the “levelized lifetime cost” to evaluate how much wind and solar energy cost compared to what natural gas or nuclear power costs. To do this, they take the installation costs, plus the lifetime operating costs, and divide that by the lifetime electricity production. On this basis, they come up with an average cost per kilowatt-hour, and when they do this, renewables look pretty good.

What this type of analysis ignores are the many additional, and very costly, adaptations necessary to deliver renewable power. The biggest one is storage, which is breezily dismissed in most accounts as “getting cheaper all the time.” But while storage is getting cheaper, it’s still spectacularly expensive.

The only way intermittent renewable energy can function is by either having “peaking plants,” usually burning natural gas, spin into production whenever the wind falters or the sun goes behind a cloud. To achieve 100 percent renewable energy, of course, these peaking plants have to be decommissioned and replaced by giant batteries.

An example of this is in Moss Landing, on the Central California Coast, where a natural gas peaker plant is being decommissioned and replaced by a battery farm that will store an impressive 2.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity. Not impressive is the fact that to-date, the installation cost for this massive undertaking has not been disclosed, despite that all these costs will be passed on to captive consumers. It is possible, however, to speculate as to the cost.

The current market price for grid scale electricity storage, based on credible analysis reported in, among other sources, Greentech Media and the New York Times is between $300 and $400 per kilowatt-hour. The installation cost for a 2.2 gigawatt-hour system would, on this basis, would cost between $660 million and $880 million. Chances are that PG&E will spend more than that, since the “balance of plant” including inverters, utility interties, and site preparation and support facilities will all be part of the capital costs. But using rough numbers, a capital cost of $500 million per gigawatt hour is not unreasonable. It might be optimistic for today, but battery costs do continue to decline, which may offset other costs that may be understated.

So based on a price of $500 million per gigawatt-hour of storage, how much money would it cost to deploy energy storage, and how much would that add to the cost of electricity?

Why Can’t We Just Use Batteries?
As noted, in 2017, if all energy consumed in the United States had taken the form of electricity, it would have been equal to 28.6 million gigawatt-hours. That comes out to 78,393 gigawatt-hours per day. But each day, it has to be assumed that the solar power is only feeding energy into the grid, at most, about half that time. Batteries are necessary to capture that intermittent power and deliver it when the sun is down or behind clouds.

It’s easier to make fairly indisputable battery cost estimates by using conservative assumptions. Therefore, assume that solar can supply reliable power 12 hours a day. That’s a stretch, but it means the calculations to follow will be a best case. If the United States is supposed to go completely solar, we would need to install grid scale electricity storage equivalent to 39,197 gigawatt-hours. In this manner, during the 12 hours of daily solar production, half of the output will be being used, and the other half will being stored in batteries. Cost? $19.6 trillion.

That’s a ridiculously huge number, but we’re not finished with this analysis. There’s the pesky problem of changing seasons.

Only So Many Sunny Hours in a Day
Even in sunny California, the difference between sunshine on the winter solstice and the summer solstice is dramatic. In Sacramento, the longest day is 14.4 hours, and the shortest day is 9.2 hours. Because there are far more cloudy days, even during a California winter, compared to a California summer, the difference is solar output in winter is less than half what it is during the summer months. Solar photovoltaic production in December typically only about one-third what it is in June.

As an aside, wind resources are also seasonal. For example, California’s state government has produced an analysis entitled “Visualization of Seasonal Variation in California Wind Generation” that makes this seasonal variation in wind resources clear. Reviewing this data reveals an obvious variation between the months of March through August, when winds are stronger, compared to September through February, when winds are considerably weaker. This seasonal wind variation, unfortunately, overlaps significantly with the seasonal solar variation. The consequences for renewable energy are huge.

Again for the sake of clarity, some broad but conservative assumptions are useful. A best case assessment of this variation would be to estimate the yield of solar and wind assets to be half as productive in the fall and winter as they are in the spring and summer. This means that to achieve a 100 percent renewable portfolio, two difficult choices present themselves. Either the wind and solar capacity has to be expanded to be sufficient even in fall and winter, when there is relatively little sun and wind, or battery capacity has to be expanded so much as to not store energy for half-a-day, each day, but for half-a-year, each year. This is a stupendous challenge.

To compensate for seasonality, supplemental energy storage would require not 12 hours of capacity, to be filled and released every 24 hours, but 180 days of stored capacity, capable of storing summer surplus energy, to be released during fall and winter. Doing that with batteries would cost hundreds of trillions of dollars. It is absolutely impossible. Coping with seasonal variation therefore requires constructing enough solar and wind assets to function even in winter when there’s less sun and less wind, therefore creating ridiculous overcapacity in spring and summer.

The Cost of Going 100 Percent Solar
Even at $1 per watt installed, it would cost at least $10 trillion just to install the photovoltaic panels. Just to store solar energy for nighttime use, using batteries, would cost nearly another $20 trillion, although it is fair to assume that storage costs—unlike the costs for solar panels—will continue to fall.

Building overcapacity, probably in America’s sunny southwest, to deliver solar power through the cold winter would probably require another $10 trillion worth of panels. And to deliver power across the continent, from the sunny Southwest to the frigid Northeast, would require revolutionary upgrades to the national power grid, probably using high-voltage direct current transmission lines, a technology that has yet to be proven at scale. Expect to spend several trillion on grid upgrades.

Then, of course, there’s the cost to retrofit every residential, commercial and industrial space to use electric heating, and the cost to retrofit or replace every car, truck, tractor and other transportation assets to run on 100 percent electric power.

When you’re talking about this many trillions, you’re talking serious money! Figure at least $50 trillion for the whole deal.

Another consideration is the longevity of the equipment. Solar panels begin to degrade after 20 years or so. Inverters, required to convert direct current coming from solar panels into alternating current, rarely last 20 years. Batteries as well have useful lives that rarely exceed 20 years. If America “goes solar,” Americans need to understand that the entire infrastructure would need to be replaced every 20 years.

Not only is this spectacularly expensive, but it brings up the question of recycling and reuse, which are additional questions that solar proponents haven’t fully answered. A solar array large enough to produce nearly 10,000 gigawatts in full sun would occupy about 50,000 square miles. Imagine tearing out that much hardware every two decades. Reprocessing every 20 years a quantity of batteries capable of storing nearly 40,000 gigawatt-hours constitutes an equally unimaginable challenge.

To the extent the United States does not go 100 percent solar, wind is an option. But the costs, infrastructure challenges, space requirements, and reprocessing demands associated with wind power are even more daunting than they are with solar. Americans, for all their wealth, would have an extremely difficult time moving to a wind and solar economy. For people living in colder climates, even in developed nations, it would be an even more daunting task. For people living in still developing nations, it is an unthinkable, cruel option.

The path forward for renewable energy is for utilities to purchase power, from all operators, that is guaranteed 24 hours-a-day, 365 days a year. This is the easiest way to create a level competitive environment. Purveyors of solar power would have to factor into their bids the cost to store energy, or acquire energy from other sources, and their prices would have to include those additional costs. It is extremely misleading to suggest that the lifetime “levelized cost” is only based on how much the solar farm costs. Add the overnight storage costs. Take into account costs to maintain constant deliveries despite interseasonal variations. Account for that. And then compete.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Energy • Environment • Post • The Left

Make America Serious Again

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In a recent article in Canada’s National Post, Rex Murphy excoriated the state of politics and ideology in the United States, and more specifically the Green New Deal:

21st-century American politics is the era of the child. To wish is to do. The replacement of education with self-esteem sermonettes, the stripping of intellectual competence from schools and trigger(ing)-happy universities, has produced a de-educated, self-centered and self-validating class of silly, ignorant adults.

Murphy concludes by characterizing our hyper-progressive political bandwagon as an express train to Venezuela-style oppression.

Many others have launched learned barrages against the Green New Deal, so Murphy’s more original contributions are his observations about the character of the emerging influencers in our country who are in their late 20s and early 30s. Because they are just on the cusp of achieving political power, they are being pandered to by the establishment, and because they grew up in an age where social media was rapidly becoming the dominant form of news, they receive extensive and fawning attention from the media.

The phenomenon was repeated last week when a video went viral of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) being confronted by petulant school-age children demanding she support the GND.

What we have is a storm feeding on itself, the coming impact of which is only partially understood, and the power of its destructive force only vaguely felt. Rational thought and sober analysis largely are being tossed aside in favor of the (pipe) dream.

Another harbinger of the coming tsunami is the death of expertise as exemplified by the House Science Committee, now controlled by the Democrats: It has five subcommittees, all of whose chairmen are congressional freshmen—not one of whom has any prior experience in science. Although it’s true that you don’t need to be a veterinarian to recognize a horse’s backside when you see one, setting science funding priorities, in fields ranging from meteorology and genetic engineering to nuclear fusion and nanotechnology, requires some expertise or at least some familiarity with the terms.

It is widely recognized that many college campuses have devolved into little more than training grounds for Social Justice Warriors and other progressives, while de-emphasizing core education, at least in non-technical institutions. Numerous surveys demonstrate the presence of overwhelmingly left-leaning and ideological faculties, many of whom are protected by tenure. Stories about microaggressions, trigger warnings, snowflakes, and rigid political correctness abound, but they no longer attract as much attention as they have become so commonplace as to be boring. Developing observational and analytical skills (a core purpose of higher education and a key to innovation and economic progress) has been overshadowed by emphasis on social sensitivity.

Consider this egregious example, from a New Yorker article by Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen:

Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in, “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.

What’s next—a medical student asking that the word “body” not be used in classes, because some students might have body-image issues? Indulging these idiosyncrasies is not preparation for the real world.

That this is not confined to campuses is evident to many employers. Whether it is a high-tech firm at which employees’ whims dictate human resource policies and even business strategy (heaven forbid the company should assist the Department of Defense!) or a law firm where associates refuse to work for clients they dislike, the Millennial generation is exhibiting a new self-indulgence in the workplace.

The shift now is not from employer “exploitation” of its workforce to employee empowerment; there is clearly a range of appropriate balance between the two. The evolution is from individual focus to groupthink. High-tech companies would not be facing pressure from their employees without social networking; employees receive support from, and respond to, their peer group. Whether this is a negative, neutral, or positive influence on productivity is not yet well understood. But peer pressure, whose immediacy is driven by social media, is a powerful force for conformity.

This cultural shift plays a far more worrisome role in the realm of politics. Stars are born almost instantly if their demeanor is fetching and their message appeals to an ideologically receptive audience. The number of Twitter followers is the currency of politics in what Murphy dubbed the “era of the child.” The petulant, self-absorbed child, to be exact.

Absent the grounding in analytical thinking and the fund of knowledge that are supposed to be imparted during schooling, rational strategies likely to be effective take a back seat to idealistic aspirations. The perceived value of experience is greatly diminished.

Many people have observed that failure can be a great teacher. One reason that American culture up until now has been dominant in the world is that we are tolerant of failure but resilient enough to learn from it and persevere. But the impact of those failures is generally contained. The new generation of, dare we say, “naïve” politicians do not understand the potential magnitude of the costs of their failures. Our society cannot easily accommodate failures at the scale of governmental debacles like the Green New Deal.

It is time for the adults in the room to stand up, act their age, assert their rationality, and stop pandering to a misguided generation. It is possible to have lofty goals within a framework that recognizes real-world constraints. Let’s start by consigning the Green New Deal to the same evanescence as post-awakening dreams.

Photo Credit: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

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California • Democrats • Energy • Environment • Post

California’s Rendezvous With Reality

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Californians brag that their state is the world’s fifth-largest economy. They talk as reverentially of Silicon Valley companies Apple, Facebook and Google as the ancient Greeks did of their Olympian gods.

Hollywood and universities such as Caltech, Stanford and Berkeley are cited as permanent proof of the intellectual, aesthetic and technological dominance of West Coast culture.

Californians also see their progressive, one-party state as a neo-socialist model for a nation moving hard to the left.

But how long will they retain such confidence?

California’s 40 million residents depend on less than 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers to pay nearly half of the state income tax, which for California’s highest tier of earners tops out at the nation’s highest rate of 13.3 percent.

In other words, California cannot afford to lose even a few thousand of its wealthiest individual taxpayers. But a new federal tax law now caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000—a radical change that promises to cost many high-earning taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

If even a few thousand of the state’s 1 percent flee to nearby no-tax states such as Nevada or Texas, California could face a devastating shortfall in annual income.

During the 2011-16 California drought, politicians and experts claimed that global warming had permanently altered the climate, and that snow and rain would become increasingly rare in California. As a result, long-planned low-elevation reservoirs, designed to store water during exceptionally wet years, were considered all but useless and thus were never built.

Then, in 2016 and 2017, California received record snow and rainfall—and the windfall of millions of acre-feet of runoff was mostly let out to sea. Nothing since has been learned.

California has again been experiencing rain and cold that could approach seasonal records. The state has been soaked by some 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone. With still no effort to expand California’s water-storage capacity, millions of acre-feet of runoff are once again cascading out to sea (and may be sorely missed next year).

The inability to build reservoirs is especially tragic given that the state’s high-speed-rail project has gobbled up more than $5 billion in funds without a single foot of track laid. The total cost soared from an original $40 billion promise to a projected $77 billion. To his credit, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, fearing a budget catastrophe, canceled the statewide project while allowing a few miles of the quarter-built Central Valley “track to nowhere” to be finished.

For years, high-speed rail has drained the state budget of transportation funds that might have easily updated nightmarish stretches of the Central Valley’s Highway 99, or ensured that the nearby ossified Amtrak line became a modern two-track line.

California politicians vie with each other to prove their open-borders bona fides in an effort to appeal to the estimated 27 percent of Californians who were not born in the United States.

But the health, educational and legal costs associated with massive illegal immigration are squeezing the budget. About a third of the California budget goes to the state’s Medicare program, Medicaid. Half the state’s births are funded by Medicaid, and in nearly a third of those state-funded births, the mother is an undocumented immigrant.

California is facing a perfect storm of homelessness. Its labyrinth of zoning and building regulations discourages low-cost housing. Its generous welfare benefits, non-enforcement of vagrancy and public health laws, and moderate climate draw in the homeless. Nearly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, and nearly one in five live below the poverty line.

The result is that tens of thousands of people live on the streets and sidewalks of the state’s major cities, where primeval diseases such as typhus have reappeared.

California’s progressive government seems clueless how to deal with these issues, given that solutions such as low-cost housing and strict enforcement of health codes are seen as either too expensive or politically incorrect.

In sum, California has no margin for error.

Spiraling entitlements, unwieldy pension costs, money wasted on high-speed rail, inadequate water storage and delivery, and lax immigration policies were formerly tolerable only because about 150,000 Californians paid huge but federally deductible state income taxes.

No more. Californians may have once derided the state’s 1 percent as selfish rich people. Now, they are praying that these heavily burdened taxpayers stay put and are willing to pay far more than what they had paid before.

That is the only way California can continue to spend money on projects that have not led to safe roads, plentiful water, good schools and safe streets.

A California reckoning is on the horizon, and it may not be pretty.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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California • Center for American Greatness • Environment • Post

A Modest Proposal: Deluge the Woke

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California is a global leader in fighting climate change. California’s citizens consistently have supported cutting edge technologies to wean their state off fossil fuel and nuclear power, and are on track to be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. But is this enough? How else can Californians do their part? What more can they do to set a fine example to the rest of the world?

Clearly, more can be done. So why not flood California’s Great Central Valley, sequestering billions of gallons of ocean water that might otherwise be endangering coastlines around the world?

The feasibility of such an endeavor is hardly a pipe dream. One great dam, extending south from the Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate, plumb into the mountainous ramparts of the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, would easily permit the establishment of a gigantic lake, over 1,000 feet deep, to extend from majestic Mt. Shasta in the north to the red rock Tehachapi Mountains far to the south. For nearly 500 miles from north to south, and 150 miles or more from east to west, this gigantic reservoir could absorb 100 percent of California’s precipitation and storm runoff for decades, slowing the rise of our expanding oceans.

At the same time, Californians can quickly harvest the “low-hanging fruit” of seawater sequestration, by flooding the Imperial Valley. Since much of the Imperial Valley is below sea level, all it would take would be a pipeline, siphoning water out of the ocean off the coastal enclave of La Jolla, crossing the mountains to dump it into the Salton Sea.

Side benefit! The shrinking Salton Sea would be revitalized. Additional side benefit! A trunk pipeline could, also with no energy input required, drain additional ocean water into Death Valley, which is also below sea level.

Sequestration, after all, is hardly a foreign concept to awakened scientists, especially in California, who, year after year, spend billions in taxpayers money to study ways to stop the rising seas. But instead of sequestering carbon dioxide in caves, why not sequester seawater in California’s Central Valley?

It shouldn’t cost that much, after all, since all that is needed is a single dam, four miles long and less than a half-mile high, sealing off the Golden Gate. It shouldn’t take that long, either. Opening back in 1937, the famed Golden Gate Bridge was built in three years. If Mt. Tamalpais is scraped off, along with most of the rest of the Marin Headlands, and bulldozed into the bay, surely this great work can also be completed within three, four years tops.

As for the cost, everyone knows that no cost is too great to stop the rising seas. Californians have experience spending vast amounts of money to fight climate change. They drive on pitted, dangerous, negligently inadequate roads in order to pay for “light rail” and a “bullet train.” They pay staggering rates for electricity and water in order to pay for “wind power,” and to “save the Delta Smelt.” Californians, apparently, have hundreds of billions to spend on such projects, because no cost is too great when the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. It’s time to think big.

To assist with the cost, California’s many outspoken billionaires, nearly all of whom favor saving the planet by any means necessary, should also pay their “fair share” for the great sequestration. A statewide “climate emergency billionaire” tax could be assessed on 100 percent of their liquid assets (their fixed assets will be underwater), raising additional hundreds of billions of dollars.

The social justice element of this ambitious project might be troubling, since millions of “people of color” reside in California’s Central Valley. But not to worry, because the western portions of San Francisco and Marin County, along with the entire Silicon Valley, will also be inundated. This great migration will be a fantastic opportunity for California’s affluent coastal elites, many of them white “allies,” to link their fates with their disadvantaged counterparts, and to share in their hardships. Nobody will have “privilege,” and everyone will be heroes of the environment.

What about California’s agricultural industry? After all, California grows nearly all of America’s fruits and nuts, and even exports rice to China! But whatever agricultural bounty is lost can be offset by the biggest aquaculture experiment in the world. What Californians lose in fruits and nuts, they’ll gain in catfish and tilapia.

A true skeptic, perhaps even a “denier,” might correctly point out that filling California’s Central Valley with 1,000 feet of water would only cause the world’s oceans to drop by 1.5 inches. Filling the Imperial Valley and Death Valley might buy another inch. This sort of debate, however, should be silenced. We all have to do our part. We have to start somewhere. And since even now, the oceans are only rising by about one inch per decade, California’s brave sacrifice buys the planet about 20 years!

But where will all these Californians go, if nearly half the state’s population is displaced? Some of them could move to Los Angeles, a welcoming city that is, after all, already a magnet for the displaced of the world. What’s another 20 million newly arrived people for a “woke” population of wealthy liberals to support? Construct high rises in Brentwood and Beverly Hills in the backyards of the movie star mansions. Let’s embrace our density!

There’s an even bigger upside to the diaspora that California’s great new lake will cause. California’s displaced millions can also move to Nevada, where they will tip the political balance forever in that state as they vote for Democrats. These newly minted, fabulously enlightened policymakers can use their mega majority in Nevada to support yet another monumental step forward in the battle against rising seas—they can flood the Great Basin, allowing the people of America’s Intermountain West to also signal their illustrious virtue.

It is time for the spectacularly woke liberal voters of California to step up to save the planet from rising seas. Sequestration is an idea that’s time has come, because no price is too great, when the planet itself is in peril.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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Center for American Greatness • Democrats • Environment • Post • The Left

The Biggest Lie of the Green New Deal

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We have now seen the end results of the self-esteem movement and the indoctrination camps of higher learning: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal. Equipped with deep ignorance, bolstered by overwhelming confidence, and layered over by a distinct lack of self-awareness, the freshman representative from the Bronx has produced for the world a plan that is a rare combination mind-blowing ignorance and insanity.

But in it we do catch a glimpse of the everyday stupidity being preached aggressively on campuses across the country: it’s hard to deny that in our capitalistic country, college campuses are the last bastions of failed ideologies like socialism that are taught by failed ideologues with tenure. When those ideas are brought forth from the campus cocoon into the real world, the detachment from reality is on full display.

If the Green New Deal were ever implemented in a real way, it would incinerate the U.S. economy. Ascendant competitors such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia would laugh in triumph over the smoldering ruins of what used to be the world’s greatest economic and political power.

It’s rare to see such poison proposed by an elected official who has sworn to uphold the Constitution, but this is the world in which we live: economic arsonists in Congress actually proposing ideas that would annihilate American freedom and prosperity all in the name of a globalist, quasi-religious belief in man-made global warming.

One of the great lies in the rollout of the Green New Deal was that the proposal really did not advocate paying people who were “unwilling to work.” While the final document didn’t include those words specifically, the Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution states the GND would “provide all the people of the United States with economic security.” Of course, by all people it’s assumed to include those unwilling to work.

Despite the gaslighting, what is really being proposed here is a universal basic income (UBI), a policy that as of last year some 48 percent of Americans thought would be a good idea. Some have wrongly argued that UBI could be the answer to the coming automation of the economy. It’s not the answer, but it has been discussed and even proposed by some on the Right, including Charles Murray, who has been arguing for several years now that a UBI is a solution to replacing our welfare state and revitalizing America’s ailing civic life.

All of this, however, is besides the point. The willingness to provide economic support for those unwilling to work, or the acceptance of such ideas, is not the biggest lie surrounding the Green New Deal. A short time ago, Ocasio-Cortez insisted she didn’t want Venezuelan socialism for the United States. She was seeking the smiling, Swedish sort of socialism for this country. Never mind the fact that Sweden really isn’t socialist, either, as the government doesn’t control the means of production.

Regardless of Ocasio-Cortez’s cavalier ignorance of facts, she stated very clearly that she didn’t want the ugly, brutish socialism we’ve seen destroy Venezuela. Yet the Green New Deal exposed her lies on that front. The underlying theme to the entire plan is coercion. It has to be. This Green New Deal cannot be achieved without embracing full-blown, coercive socialism.

How precisely would the United States get to “100 percent of the power demand . . . through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” in 10 years? Coercion. How do you pay for all of these ideas? Well you coerce people—and not just the despised “1 percent”—to hand over most of their income in taxes. How do you dictate all of the madness in regards to production and pollution are adhered to? Through coercion, naturally.

There is another name for this kind of coercive socialism. It’s called Communism.

And that is precisely the underlying theme of the Green New Deal. Since the adults and sane people have apparently left the asylum known as the Democratic Party, the inmates are now running the place. As there seemingly are no sane people left inside the Party of Infanticide, many of the Democratic hopefuls for 2020, from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have endorsed the coercive Green New Deal. Add to the mix the schemes for Medicare for All and free college, these plans would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $52 trillion over the next 10 years. (Though the tab may be substantially higher—who knows?) All of this would be funded by draconian taxes that would turn those anyone who remains willing to work into employees of the state while everyone else would be wards of the state.

That’s the siren song of socialism, the devil’s deal: we’ll give you everything for free. You just have to give us your freedom in exchange. Let’s hope enough of the American people understand the madness being proposed. Because if they don’t, and these ideas get implemented, that’s the end of the American republic and of the American dream.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

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California • Center for American Greatness • Environment • Post • Progressivism

Is Gavin Newsom California’s Denier-in-Chief?

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California’s newly elected governor, Gavin Newsom, gave his first “state of the state” address on February 12, and it was a speech more noteworthy for what he didn’t than for what he did mention. Were Newsom’s sins of omission the conscious choice of a seasoned politician, or is he in denial, like so many of his California leftist cohorts?

Before criticizing the content, and the omissions, of Newsom’s speech, it’s necessary to make something clear: Nobody can deny California’s accomplishments; its great universities; its vibrant, diverse industries; its global economic and cultural influence. But California’s accomplishments are in spite of its state government, not because of it. That cannot be emphasized enough.

Newsom began by saying Californians had to make “tough calls” on the issues of transportation, water, energy, migrants, the homeless, healthcare, and the cost-of-living. He proceeded next to make no tough calls.

Forget About Fixing Roads, Let’s Build Half a Bullet-Train
With respect to transportation, Newsom made no mention of California’s crumbling, clogged freeways and connector roads. To be fair to Newsom, when you don’t have to commute day after day during rush hour—and even when you do drive, you have a driver so you can sit in the back seat of a very quiet, very smooth ride, and conduct teleconferences—you don’t really think about “roads” the same way the rest of us do. So understandably, Newsom chose to talk about high speed rail, and even on that topic, he hedged his bets. He proclaimed the project would cost too much and take too long to build a track from Sacramento all the way to San Diego, or even from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Instead he committed to focusing on completing the track from Merced to Bakersfield, where work has already begun.

Is this denial? Or just the out-of-touch priorities of an extremely wealthy man who doesn’t have to drive? Merced? To Bakersfield? Along the entire 163 mile stretch between these two cities, including everyone living in all the five surrounding counties, there are only 2.8 million people. How much will that cost? $10 billion? $20 billion (more likely)? Has Newsom considered how much highway improvement could be done with all that money? For that matter, might we ask the voters of Fresno and Kern counties, as if all that money should be spent there—“would you rather have $20 billion spent on road improvements, or that train?” Or are we afraid of the answer? Does Gavin Newsom understand that even if high-speed rail were built in all its original scope, it would still do virtually nothing to ameliorate California’s transportation challenges, which can only be solved by building new roads and widening existing roads?

Forget About Increasing Water Supply, Let’s Build Half of the “Twin Tunnels”
On the issue of water, Newsom also split the difference on what promises to be California’s second biggest infrastructure money pit after high-speed rail. That would be the two proposed “delta tunnels” that would transport runoff from Northern California, under the Sacramento River Delta, and onward to thirsty farms and cities in arid Southern California. But the governor didn’t call for two tunnels, nor did he kill the project. Like Solomon, Newsom is going to give the “water fix” advocates half of their baby. He wants to build one tunnel.

Newsom correctly stated that demand for water exceeds supply in California, but he was firmly in denial as to the solution, which is to create more supply. For the cost of even just one delta tunnel, massive desalination plants could be constructed on the Southern California coast. Those facilities, combined with runoff capture and sewage reuse projects throughout California’s coastal cities, could make them water independent. Seismic upgrades to levees along with new fish hatcheries could preserve cost-effective, environmentally acceptable movement of northern water to southern customers through the delta, something that’s worked for decades. And more storage via new off-stream reservoirs, aquifer recharge, and raising the Shasta Dam would supply additional millions of acre feet. Instead? A tunnel that will cost at least $20 billion, and add zero water to California’s annual supply.

Never Mind the Shortages We Created, Let’s Invite the World to Migrate Here
California’s politically sacred mission these days, of course, is to invite the migrants of the world to settle here. Newsom didn’t disappoint his crowd, trotting out dubious statistics to prove that undocumented immigration is a “manufactured problem.” But again, Newsom is denying the big picture: If California rolls out the welcome mat for the destitute masses of the world, where does it end? There’s good, accurate data available on this.

More than 800 million people in the world live in extreme poverty—defined as living on less than two dollars per day. What about Latin Americans, who according to Newsom’s equally photogenic counterpart in the U.S. Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), “must be exempt from immigration laws because they are ‘native’ to U.S. lands”? Over 150 million Latin Americans live on less than $4 per day. Hundreds of additional millions of Latin Americans struggle economically. Why not form “caravans” to bring them all here? Newsom, along with the entire California Legislature, will cheer them on and let them in, no matter what the cost.

As it is, currently 2.6 million undocumented immigrants live in California. Even the liberal website politifact.com acknowledges that 55 percent of immigrant households in California benefit from welfare, with their only supposedly debunking caveat being that some of these households have U.S. born children. Other recent studies put the California total as high as 72 percent. There is a cost to Californians for all this, estimated as high as $25 billion per year, so where does Gov. Newsom draw the line? Three million more migrants? Five million? Ten million? One hundred million? Or is he in denial?

And What About Those Politically Created Shortages?
Newsom mentioned “overcrowded classrooms,” and talked about “too much demand, too little supply” for housing. But his solution for education was, what a surprise, more money and “accountability for all public schools, traditional and charters” (a slap at the charter schools, well received based on the applause from the union-controlled audience). Newsom remained in denial as to the real reason California’s public schools are failing, the fact that teaching professionals have been unionized, and the unions have used the dues revenue to exercise nearly absolute control over state and local politicians. Thanks to the teachers union, bipartisan reforms to union work rules (dismissal policies, layoff criteria, lengthened tenure) are watered down or completely squelched, and charter schools are under constant attack.

As the old cornball adage goes, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, Gov. Newsom. Public sector unions destroyed public education in California. Do something about that, if your thousand watt compassionate smile is doing anything more than hiding a vacuous brain, guiding a feckless, morally indifferent human, attracted to nothing more than publicity, power, money, and beautiful women. That’s probably an overly harsh, unfair and inaccurate assessment of the Governor. So maybe he will silence his skeptics, by doing something that takes actual courage. Take on the teachers union. Don’t talk about it. Fight them. Fight them tooth and nail. Fight them on the beaches. Fight them in the streets. Fight them in the hills. Never give up.

Wasn’t Newsom’s campaign slogan “courage for change”? Offer that slogan, but nothing else, to the semi-literate, totally innumerate, thoroughly indoctrinated products of California’s public schools, and see how much good it does. They are the victims of the teachers unions. They need courage from the Governor. Not a pretty face. Not a pretty phrase.

Newsom’s solution for the housing shortage, so far, is to sue cities and counties that won’t build government subsidized “affordable housing.” But “affordable housing” is never affordable, and everyone knows that by now. It’s just a money tree for connected developers. To make homes “affordable” doesn’t have to cost taxpayers a dime. Just deregulate the private housing industry, making it easier to develop land. Then, strip away the overreaching design mandates that turn ordinary homes and apartments into hermetically sealed, stupefyingly expensive, miniature Borg cubes with embedded, connected chips in everything from the toilets to the coffeemaker, festooned with phony “gingerbread” eaves and trim that some marketing department tested with focus groups.

Newsom, to his credit, did mention the need to modify the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an absurdly intrusive law that is a gold mine for trial lawyers and unions who use it to stop land development in its tracks. But his solution? Turning CEQA reform over to a task force consisting of union officials and large home developers.

Newsflash, Gov. Newsom! Union officials and large home developers won’t benefit from CEQA reform, so they won’t come up with anything useful. They like CEQA just the way it is. Because CEQA is the reason the median home price in California is $547,400. That is an absolutely obscene amount for anyone to have to pay for a home. But it further enriches the billionaire land developers who have the political clout and financial heft to withstand the avalanche of CEQA lawsuits and regulatory hurdles. Who is harmed by CEQA? The average Joe who owns ten acres and knows a building contractor. Those guys can only dream of meaningful CEQA reform. Better yet, they should move to Texas which is still open for business. Or, that is, move to Texas before Gov. Newsom’s other photogenic counterpart, “Beto,” and his gang of Leftists with a twang, manage to turn that state into another California.

Charisma Can’t Make Up for Denial, But Redemption is Possible
On every topic, Newsom’s theme was at least consistent. Let’s be tough, let’s be honest, let’s do our duty to ALL Californians. But he wasn’t tough, and he wasn’t honestly choosing the right questions to ask, so it’s hard to see how he was doing his duty to all Californians. And for a man leading the biggest state in the United States, who could very well end up being inaugurated as the next U.S. President in January 2024, we need more. Much more. Here are three topics of bipartisan urgency that Newsom should have, but didn’t touch.

He didn’t talk about how on the next economic downturn, state and local public employee pensions are poised to bankrupt half of California’s cities and counties and totally blow up the state budget.

He didn’t talk about how California’s public employee unions have formed a coalition with extreme environmentalists and Leftist billionaires to stop all development of land and energy in order to create an asset bubble that benefits public coffers and private investments while screwing everyone else.

He didn’t talk about how, even if you believe all the alarmist hyperbole regarding climate change, you can’t possibly go “carbon free” without more hydro-electric and nuclear power.

Newsom’s mannerisms might remind one of Chris Collinsworth, a tall and well-liked sportscaster who talks with a perpetual smile on his face. But Newsom isn’t a sportscaster. He’s presiding over a state—with 40 million people and “the fifth largest economy on earth”—that has been taken over by a gang of money grubbing, power-mad, opportunistic, platitude-spewing con artists.

If Newsom’s intentions are half as benevolent as that compassionate smile of his tells us they are, and if his “courage for change” is sincere, then here’s another way he can redeem himself in the eyes of his skeptics. He can live the life that his political comrades have imposed on California’s hardest working residents. Instead of moving into a 12,000-square-foot mansion, located on an eight acre compound in one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in Sacramento County, Newsom should move his family into one of those California median priced $547,400 homes, situated on a 3,200 square foot lot, surrounded by other homes on 3,200-square-foot lots, and send his four children to a public school.

Redemption is good for the soul, so there’s more: for Newsom to fully live the California dream, and prove he cares about “ALL Californians,” he should give his personal wealth away to charity—or better yet, send it to the CalPERS public employee pension fund because they’re going after every dime they can get their hands on. Then, Newsom should cut his governor’s pay to $71,805, which is California’s median household income, and refuse all outside honorariums and fees. And he should do this not for two weeks to make a statement, or even for the next four years. He should do this for the rest of his life.

He would be in denial no longer.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

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Administrative State • Democrats • Energy • Environment • Post

The GND: Glitter, Nonsense, and Devitalization

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The latest public policy bandwagon is the “Green New Deal,” or GND, whose acronym could well stand for Glitter, Nonsense, and Devitalization. Some of its proposals are so outlandish that they would be more appropriate coming from enthusiastic (but not very smart) second-graders than from members of Congress. It is astonishing that a blueprint for so many ways to impoverish the nation and disrupt our lives could garner so much attention.

The call to move to a green economy offers a nice catchphrase, but when  you unearth the details, it’s less appealing. For example, the elimination of air travel in favor of high-speed rail—the rights-of-way for which would require the most massive government taking of property in human history outside of war and conquest. And no mention is made of the extinguishing of millions of jobs in the energy, petrochemical, and transportation industries.

Moreover, the proposal  avoids the cleanest energy option: nuclear. Nuclear power generation has its challenges, most notably safety and waste, but they are more solvable today than ever. As an illustration of the widespread irrationality being brought to bear on this issue, however, in January a collection of 626 environmental groups, led by longtime radical organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, sent a letter to Congress laying out principles and policies they believe should define the GND. Among them is a call for 100 percent renewable energy, specifying that “any definition of renewable energy must also exclude all combustion-based power generation, nuclear, biomass energy, large scale hydro and waste-to-energy technologies.” (We’re betting they are more sanguine about perpetual-motion machines than we are.)

High-speed rail always fascinates a certain segment of the population, but we can’t even manage to build one in the Northeast or between Los Angeles and San Francisco at a manageable cost, not to mention the right-of-way needed for the straight tracks essential to high speeds. In any case, our country is too large for even the world’s best railroads to serve it adequately. One wonders whether the rail advocates have looked at a map lately; even leaving aside Alaska and Hawaii, it’s 3,300 miles from Seattle to Miami. Moreover, since we committed to the interstate highway system during the Eisenhower Administration, the nation’s transportation, both intra- and inter-city, has been oriented around cars and trucks.

Nature also undermines the practicality of renewables like wind and solar energy with pesky things like nighttime and calm spells. In spite of massive investment and some incremental improvements, battery technology remains stubbornly constrained by physics and chemistry, necessitating reliable backup as duplicative infrastructure. And as for the “energy efficiency” push for all structures in the nation, the effort is so impossibly extravagant, and the cost is so astronomical (without any attempt to quantify it) that we can’t reasonably hope to achieve it in our lifetimes.

The “Green Transition” is only the second of four main thrusts of the GND. The third plank of the GND is financial regulation. It envisions massive debt forgiveness, a euphemism for shifting the burden, via tax policy, to those without the debt. It seeks to nationalize—and thus politicize—the Federal Reserve. It would empower government with essentially zero cost of capital to compete with banks, and likely drive many of them out of business. Yet this may be the most modest, if misdirected, part of the GND. And ironically, it is the financial sector that has the fewest problems, if one considers that the 2008 crisis stemmed in significant part from political mandates to lower the standards for credit worthiness. That is not to say that over-leveraging and speculation should not be controlled, but it doesn’t require the GND to do that.

Where the GND becomes truly terrifying is in the scope of the “Economic Bill of Rights” and the “Fair Democracy” planks (first and fourth).

The Economic Bill of Rights (EBR), Entirely Bogus and Ridiculous, relies on confiscatory taxation, massive redistribution of income and wealth, and Soviet-style management of vast portions of the economy—for example, all utilities. It pledges fealty to unions and promises magically to transform our public education system from mediocre (at best) to excellent. (There is ample evidence that those two promises are in direct conflict.)

The EBR also promises employment to all who want it, regardless of skills or abilities, and goes beyond even that to offering financial support for those “not willing” to work. This is welfare and government-paid sinecures run amok.

EBR further favors a more conventional bad idea: single-payer healthcare, which has been thoroughly and meticulously debunked and discredited, to take one example, in Sally Pipes’ The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care. Single payer might work reasonably well for routine care, but it breaks down when it comes to serious illness, chronic conditions, and elective procedures. Ask any Brit or Canadian.

Finally, the plank called “A Functioning Democracy.” Perhaps its acronym really means All For Democrats. Rather than increasing fidelity and accountability to voters, it seeks to loosen controls with such practices as same-day voter registration. A more appropriate approach would be a national ID card, issued at no cost and carefully controlled and validated (by cross-checking with other sources), that truly maintains the one-person, one-vote doctrine. If we can manage entry using real-time scanning to a football stadium with tens of thousands of patrons, we can do the same with voting. Introducing it would be an excellent long-term investment in genuine, effective democracy.

Another element of that last plank, eliminating the Electoral College, would be a repudiation of our entire history, which seeks to support the principles of federalism and statehood. By design, we do not have a popular national election for president. And for that matter, neither do the parliamentary systems of many other western countries. We have somehow gotten through almost 250 years with the Electoral College.

To top it all off, the GND proposes that we retreat from the world stage, gut our military, and make ourselves susceptible to all manner of threats. It is a prescription for disaster.

One need only read the summary of Green New Deal to see how radical, impractical, and utterly asinine it is, and how debatable are its alleged benefits. Why supposedly credible politicians are not treating it as radioactive is inexplicable, except perhaps for its highly misleading title. It is unworthy even of serious discussion, let alone adoption. Its acronym should really stand for Garbage, Now Discard.

Photo Credit: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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America • Democrats • Energy • Environment • Post • Satire

Power from Nothing, Checks for Free

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With utmost apologies to Dire Straits . . .

(Thin falsetto) I want my AOC
(Smattering of drums)
(Enter Mark Knopfler’s guitar on fire)

Look at them moo-cows gassing off their methane
That’s going to change now with AOC
She’s got a plan, too good to spell out fully
That plan is known as GND

Don’t like working, you don’t have to do it
Wait—that’s a lie from the RNC
But GND will guarantee employment
Your power from nothing, and your checks for free

We gotta outlaw gasoline engines
Protect frontline communitie-e-e-s
We must treat coal like Adolf Hitler
We gotta make you carbon free

Ignore that little FAQ’s sheet exposing our intentions
(Yeah buddy that high-speed rail)
That little FAQ’s sheet could never take your airplanes
That little FAQ sheet’s just a first draft fail

We gotta remove market incentives
Give away technologie-e-e-s
We gotta stop all this changing weather
We gotta make you carbon free

We need to lead with zero emissions
We need a far-sighted 10-year plan
Look at that Mama she’s stickin’ it to corporations
Yeah, she sticks it to the Man

And Trump’s up there, making lots of noises
He’s bangin’ out his tweets like a chimpanzee
It ain’t workin’, America wants action
Check it out on CNN and NBC

AOC, that’s the way you do it
Just like the moon shot from history
The DNC already has approved it
Your power from nothing and your checks for free

We’ve got to shut down nuclear reactors
Prioritize sustainability-y-y
We gotta rebuild everyone’s houses
With power from nothing and those checks for free
With power from nothing and those checks for free . . .

That ain’t workin’.

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Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Environment • Post • The Left

Attack of the Watermelon People

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Supposedly, the “Green New Deal” is “green” because it would help the environment. But a close reading of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed resolution reveals a deal that looks more red than green.

The freshman congresswoman from New York released more specifics of her sweeping idea this week. In simpler times, we called extreme environmentalists “watermelons,” because they were green (environmentalists) on the outside, but red (socialist or communist) on the inside. Ocasio-Cortez, her Green New Deal, and all her fellow travelers, are watermelons through and through.

Almost everything about Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is wrong. The premises, the priorities, and the “solutions.” It’s easy, and necessary, to criticize the priorities and the solutions proposed by this very red, outwardly green plan. But to have a completely honest debate, you also have to challenge the premises.

In the preamble, the resolution claims that sea levels are rising, wildfires are increasing, and extreme weather “threatens human life, healthy communities and critical infrastructure.” It claims humans are to blame. These are flawed premises.

Flawed Scientific Premises
The most threatening of these claims is sea level rise, but even mainstream publications that have completely embraced climate change hysteria are backing off of the most catastrophic forecasts. One of the most credible climate “lukewarmists” (a somewhat derisive term that alarmists attribute begrudgingly to skeptics they haven’t yet managed to silence or discredit) is Dr. Judith Curry, who is frequently called upon for congressional testimony. She recently completed an 18-month study on sea level rise. In the summary, she made the following points:

  • Sea level was apparently higher than present at the time of the Holocene Climate Optimum (around 5,000 years ago), at least in some regions.
  • Tide gauges show that sea levels began to rise during the 19th century, after several centuries associated with cooling and sea level decline. Tide gauges also show that rates of global mean sea level rise between 1920 and 1950 were comparable to recent rates.
  • Recent research has concluded that there is no consistent or compelling evidence that recent rates of sea level rise are abnormal in the context of the historical records back to the 19th century that are available across Europe.

Curry’s findings, consistent with those of other scientists such as the brilliant Richard Lindzen of MIT, are that over the past 150 years global sea level has risen at a “slow creep,” and since 1900, the sea has risen about 7-8 inches. The likely increase between now and 2100, according to Curry, is between 8 inches and 24 inches. While a rise on the higher end of this distribution would increase the destructive impact of storm surges in coastal areas, it is far from the catastrophe being touted by the Watermelon people.

And what of these “extreme storms”? Here again, we have data that contradicts the doomsday predictions.

Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and author of The Climate Fix, has done extensive research on extreme weather. His unequivocal conclusion is that the cost of weather-related disasters over the past 30 years have decreased as a percentage of GDP. Using IPCC data, he observes that tropical cyclones have not increased in frequency, intensity, or landfall since the 1970s. Quoting the IPCC, Pielke says “there is no trend in the magnitude or frequency of floods on a global scale,” and “there is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail,” and also “there is low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.”

Why doesn’t any of this make it into the mainstream press?

Flawed Geopolitical Premises
Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution preamble goes on to predict “mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change.” Here again, we have a flawed premise. “Climate change” is neither the reason migrants want to migrate, nor the reason that Watermelon people want them to migrate to America. Expect those regions to be in nations where poverty has always been the norm, only ameliorated enough in recent decades to ensure absurdly high birth rates. Normal droughts and storms don’t cause mass migrations out of successful nations. Rather it is endless internal warfare and recurrent famine that causes teeming populations to flee failed states with corrupt, incompetent governments.

Around the world, desperate people, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, will jump at the chance to blame someone else for “climate” events causing their misery, as they demand reparations including the right to immigrate en masse to America and Europe. And because once they are here, they will vote for greater government benefits, the Watermelon people want them to come. The more the better. The sooner the better.

Flawed Economic Premises
The economic premises underlying the Green New Deal are, if anything, even more flawed. Another part of the preamble states climate change will wreak “more than [$500 billion] in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100.” The United States in 2018 had a GDP of $20.4 trillion. But by 2100, even at the modest rate of 3 percent annual GDP growth, the United States would have a GDP of $230 trillion. So half-a-trillion “by 2100” represents a whopping 0.2 percent worth of diminished “economic output,” eight decades from now. Is that the best they can do? Who comes up with these terrifying numbers?

The preamble also predicts “a risk of damage to [$1 trillion] of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States,” though it doesn’t say by when. But just the public infrastructure in the United States is estimated to be worth at least $37 trillion. What about real estate? All U.S. homes are estimated to be worth a cumulative $31.8 trillion. And that doesn’t include commercial real estate.

The financial numbers sound scary. Obviously, $1 trillion is a lot of money. But put in perspective, their actual economic scope is not scary at all. Infrastructure and homes need to be replaced every 50 to 100 years anyway. Trillions are already being spent each year to build and maintain structures of all kinds in the United States. So the premises Ocasio-Cortez lays out are unconvincing. We adapt. We always have.

But adaptation isn’t good enough if you’re a Watermelon. A brief gallop through the “Resolved” or “solutions” sections of the Green New Deal provides us a glimpse into what is good enough for the Watermelon people. Please note these are just highlights. There’s so much more.

Highlights of the “Green New Deal Mobilization”
Here are some goals Ocasio-Cortez lays out for her Green New Deal:

  • Ensuring that any infrastructure bill considered by Congress addresses climate change.
  • Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
  • Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.
  • Zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing.
  • A Green New Deal must be developed through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses.
  • Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities.
  • Ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers.
  • Ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages.
  • Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.
  • Obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people for all decisions that affect indigenous people and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous people, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous people.
  • Providing all people of the United States with (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.

And it should all be accomplished “through a 10-year national mobilization.”

Reading these highlights, much less the entire congressional resolution, indicates the Watermelon is indeed strong in these people. Notwithstanding the staggeringly unrealistic goals, note the code words that saturate the document: “inclusive consultation,” “vulnerable communities,” “worker cooperatives,” “participatory processes,” “prevailing wages,” “high quality union jobs,” “consent of indigenous people,” “traditional territories.”

Like all Watermelon-inspired rhetoric, all of these words are calculated to sound morally unassailable. But behind the high minded compassion, the message is clear: the Green New Deal is designed to redistribute wealth and power, correct “systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices,” and transfer wealth to people who will vote for democratic socialism.

Imagine a nation where “worker cooperatives” manage the redistribution of wealth in order to provide universal health care, affordable housing, and a guaranteed job complete with family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security. All the while, making certain that whatever is done is first cleared with the “indigenous people” and evaluated for its impact on climate change. And, of course, doing all this in one decade, while simultaneously shutting down the entire fossil fuel industry. What could possibly go wrong?

The Insanity of Watermelon Politics
Finding value in Ocasio-Cortez’s Watermelon vision for America is tough, but there are some elements of her Green New Deal that merit discussion—particularly the frequent references to infrastructure investments. But if the federal government is going to be investing big money again in national infrastructure, it had better be on projects that make sense for sound economic reasons.

Obviously, some infrastructure investment should be in climate resiliency, such as upgraded sea walls to protect major cities on the east coast. Other forms of adaptation may simply involve no longer subsidizing flood insurance in resort communities built on sandbars that probably already should have washed away. But inviting social justice warriors and climate alarmists to join forces to define what the federal government is going to build, and how they’re going to build it, is the worst possible way to adapt to what may come.

It isn’t enough to question the economic absurdity of the Green New Deal. A rational response would be to assert that it doesn’t matter how much it costs. For this reason it is necessary as well to reinvigorate the scientific debate over just how serious climate change is likely to be, what the causes are for climate change, and what the cost/benefits are of various strategies.

One thing is certain: The path of the Watermelon people is a road to poverty and tyranny. There are far better ways to achieve a more universal prosperity, while helping vulnerable communities and vulnerable ecosystems, all over the world.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit:  Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Democrats • Energy • Environment • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • The Left

Mass Immigration and Climate Change Doublethink

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Doublethink, as articulated by George Orwell in 1984, “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Unfortunately, the modern left took Orwell’s book, which was written as a warning, and mistook it as an instruction manual. Perhaps nowhere else is doublethink more readily apparent than in the absurdly conflicted intersection of leftist environmentalism—think of it as ecological conservation with a pagan streak—and support for mass immigration.

Climate change true believers have perfect faith in the notion that the human contribution of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is the primary driver of global warming, and that only by drastically reducing that contribution can we avoid apocalyptic climate tragedy on a global scale. But when a grand imam of the Climate Change faith, Michael Mann, is called “A Disgrace to the Profession” and many other unflattering things by dozens of his equally credentialed peers, perhaps they are onto something.

When recipients of tens of millions of dollars in federal climate research grants ask the Department of Justice to arrest, prosecute, and imprison those who question their data quality, analysis, and conclusions, it’s a fair bet they’re up to something, but whatever it is, it’s not science. The peer review process has been a disaster for a long time. It would not be improved by deep state prosecutors going after scientific peers who are more interested in homing in on the truth than in advancing a political agenda.

Climate change skepticism should also be informed by headlines proclaiming that a particular year was the Hottest in Recorded History. That headline piqued my interest, but my willingness to believe was affected when I later learned that the “hottest year ever” part was based on a statistical analysis that was less robust than a coin toss.

But setting all that aside, let’s stipulate purely for the sake of discussion that Anthropogenic Climate Change theory is true. Just for the sake of debate, let’s agree (for now) with the warm-mongers that climate change, specifically, global warming, will wreak havoc on agriculture, lead to millions getting sick, have devastating impacts on the economy, cause tens of thousands of people to commit suicide and otherwise die if we don’t act now. That would be awful. Only real monsters would want that!

Now, having stipulated the veracity of climate change theory, we can finally begin drilling into its nexus with U.S. population growth, which since the 1970s has been driven primarily by legal and illegal immigration.

According to the World Bank, the United States is ranked 15th in annual CO2 emissions, with 16.5 metric tons per capita. Some nerds over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology broke the data down even further, concluding that “even the people [in America] with the lowest usage of energy are still producing, on average, more than double the global per-capita average” of CO2. If the most progressive, mass transit-riding, fair trade soy latte-sipping person of the left is contributing such an obnoxiously privileged amount of carbon to the atmosphere and turbocharging climate change (murderer!), what might we expect of recent arrivals from Central and South America or African refugees?

The same World Bank data tells us that Hondurans in Honduras produce only 1.1 metric tons of CO2. Guatemalans in their home land produce 1.2, and Mexicans come in at 3.9. Germans in Deutschland produce 8.9 metric tons, the Japanese produce 9.5, and even our friends to the north come in lower than the U.S. with 15.1 metric tons of CO2 per Canuck. For true believers in the environmentalist faith, especially the elitists who saw a decrease in U.S. CO2 emissions due to the recession as proof their de-industrializing policy preferences work, Pakistanis in their native land are to be exalted for their paltry climate footprint of only .9 metric tons per capita. But the most noble of all are perhaps Somalis in Somalia, who manage to get by and live presumably fulfilling lives while producing only 0.05 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person per year.

Alas, while immigrant and refugee cultural assimilation is a notion championed only by bigots, racists, and other deplorables these days, the fact of the matter is that newcomers to America, Pakistanis and Somalis, for example, quickly adapt to our energy rich ways.

The doublethink problem for true believers in climate change and open borders becomes apparent when you consider that letting anybody from those countries into the United States inevitably results in higher carbon releases than if they’d stayed in their homelands. Letting in a Canadian doesn’t add that much since our per capita releases are already similar, but the average German immigrant would double his CO2 output upon reaching these shores. Each Mexican immigrant quadruples what she would have produced if she’d stayed home. The Central Americans produce 16x as much, on average, after coming to the United States, and Somali refugees produce a whopping 366 times as much CO2 after coming to America than they would have done if they’d stayed home and worked things out there.

As a [stipulated] believer in Anthropogenic Climate Change who is not under the spell of doublethink, I must conclude that global warming is made worse with each new immigrant to the United States. Immigration must, therefore, be halted immediately. Yet the Left insists it is immoral to build walls that would drastically cut illegal immigration, and for decades they have opposed limiting legal immigration.

Through their preference for open borders immigration from countries with low energy consumption to energy rich ones, the Left is driving up carbon contributions to the atmosphere while simultaneously claiming that the world will end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change. If not for this doublethink, the left would see that funding President Trump’s wall and ending open borders immigration is a relatively cheap and easy way to forestall their predicted climate catastrophe that’s accelerated by each new immigrant to this energy-rich country.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Administrative State • America • California • Center for American Greatness • Environment • Post

California’s Green ‘Bantustans’ Are Coming to America

If the “smart growth” urban planners that dictate land use policies in Democratic states and cities have their way, the single family dwelling is an endangered species.

In Oregon, proposed legislation would “require cities larger than 10,000 people to allow up to four homes to be built on land currently zoned exclusively for single-family housing.” In Minneapolis, recent actions by the city council mean that “duplexes and triplexes would be allowed in neighborhoods that only previously allowed single-family housing.”

The war on the detached, single family home, and—more to the point—the war on residential neighborhoods comprised exclusively of single family homes, is on. And it’s gone national.

In California, ground zero for this movement, state legislation now requires cities and counties to fast track permitting for “accessory dwelling units.” This scheme will allow developers and ambitious homeowners to construct detached rental homes in their backyards, but since they’re called “accessory dwelling units,” instead of “homes,” they would not run afoul of local zoning ordinances that, at one time, were designed to protect neighborhoods from exactly this sort of thing.

“Smart growth,” however, began long before the home itself came under attack.

First there was the war on the back yard. Large lots became crimes against the planet—and if you doubt the success of this war, just get a window seat the next time you fly into any major American city. In the suburbs you will see a beautiful expanse of green, spacious, shady neighborhoods with lots designed to accommodate children playing, maybe a pool or vegetable garden, big enough for the dog.

But you will also see, plain and obvious, those suburbs that were built after the smart growth crowd came along. Tight, treeless, and grey, with homes packed against each other, these are the Green Bantustans, and there’s nothing green about them.

The image below shows homes packed roughly 15 per acre—including the streets—on private lots that are 40-feet wide by 80-feet deep. As of January, these homes were selling for $350,000. Such a deal! Smart growth!

Why call neighborhoods with mandated ultra-high density “Green Bantustans”? Because the Bantustan was where a racist elite used to herd the African masses during South Africa’s apartheid era. The commonality between the Green Bantustan and the Racist Bantustan becomes clear when you step back and ponder what is happening. In both cases, a privileged elite condemn the vast majority of individuals to live in a concentrated area designed to minimize their impact on the land.

But in America, the “smart growth” advocates aren’t racists, they’re misanthropic environmentalists.

The image below is fascinating, because at the same scale, it shows a neighborhood in the township of Soweto, once touted as a poster child for one of the most chilling warehouses for human beings in history. But notice the size of the lots—40 feet by 80 feet—are identical in size to that Green Bantustan in California. Also, please note, it’s probably much easier to get a building permit in Soweto.

In the name of “smart growth,” urban planners have succeeded in creating policy that has drawn lines around American cities, “urban service boundaries,” which make it nearly impossible to start new home construction outside these lines. While the purpose of these boundaries ostensibly is to protect open space, farmland, and wilderness habitat, not only are those goals only marginally fulfilled, but other negative unintended consequences abound. Consider the following:

Urbanization just takes a different form. Creating these greenbelts of protected open space mean instead of leapfrog development, you have super-leapfrog development. People who want to get out of the city now build and purchase homes on the other side of the greenbelt. Instead of suburbs on the perimeter of cities, you have exurbs, whole new cities, constructed just beyond the protected areas.

Quality of life is ruined in older suburbs. Homes within these cities are concentrated onto tiny lots in order to get as many people into each new development as possible. Often these new developments are imposed in the middle of semi-rural suburbs where the way of life for the people already living there is destroyed.

Traffic congestion gets worse. These dense new neighborhoods are designed to be “pedestrian friendly,” but what they really are is car unfriendly. There is no room to park, inadequate roads, and expensive light rail that most people can’t make practical use of.

Housing becomes unaffordable. The winners in “smart growth” are never people who need affordable homes, because prices always go up when you reduce the supply of developable land. The winners are those landowners lucky enough to have property within the arbitrary boundaries where growth is permitted, and the public sector bureaucrats who keep development within their jurisdictions, in order to collect property taxes and fees on artificially inflated home values.

Basic Facts Contradict the Arguments for “Smart Growth”
If the proportion of land consumed by people, even in low density suburbs, is compared to the amount of land available for development, the case for high-density “smart growth” weakens. For example, even with nearly 40 million residents, California is a sprawling, relatively unpopulated state where harsh restrictions on land development are unnecessary.

Encompassing 164,000 square miles, California is only 5 percent urbanized. According to the American Farmland Trust, California has 25,000 square miles of grazing land (15 percent), 28,000 square miles of non-irrigated cropland (17 percent), and 14,000 square miles of irrigated cropland (9 percent). The rest, 54 percent, is forest, oak woodland, desert, and other open space.

The above chart depicts three urban growth scenarios, all of them assuming California experiences a net population increase of 10 million, and that all new residents on average live three people to a household (the current average in California is 2.96 occupants per household). For each scenario, the additional square miles of urban land are calculated.

As the chart shows, adding 10 million new residents under the “low” density scenario would only use up 3.2 percent of California’s land. If all the growth were concentrated onto grazing land—much which is being taken out of production anyway, it would only consume 21 percent of it. If all the growth were to fall onto non-irrigated cropland, which is not prime agricultural land, it would only use up 19 percent of that. Much growth, of course, could be in the 58 percent of California not used either for farming or ranching.

Two key points about these data bear emphasis. First, there is plenty of room for low-density development for millions of new residents, not only in California, but elsewhere in the United States. As shown in this example, moving 10 million people into homes on half acre lots, with no infill within existing urban areas, would only consume a small fraction California’s land area.

Second, even the dense scenario depicted on the first column the chart, cramming ten homes onto each developed acre, is not acceptable to the smart growth crowd. The policy goal in California, and elsewhere as noted, is to channel as much new development as possible into the confines of existing cities, and overwhelmingly favor multi-family dwellings over single-family detached homes.

“Smart Growth” is Not Smart, It’s Just Cruel
None of this is necessary. The idea that American policymakers should enforce urban containment is a cruel, entirely unfounded, self-serving lie.

The lie remains intact no matter the context. If there is an energy shortage, then develop California’s shale reserves. If fracking shale is unacceptable, then use safe land-based slant drilling rigs to tap natural gas in the Santa Barbara channel. If all fossil fuel is unacceptable, then build nuclear power stations in the geologically stable areas in California’s interior. If there is a water shortage, then build high dams. If high dams are forbidden, then develop aquifer storage to collect runoff. Or desalinate seawater along the Southern California coast. Or recycle sewage. Or let rice farmers sell their allotments to urban customers. There are answers to every question.

Environmentalists generate an avalanche of studies, however, that in effect demonize all development, everywhere. The values of environmentalism are important, but if it weren’t for the trillions to be made by trial lawyers, academic careerists, government bureaucrats and their government-union overlords, crony green capitalist oligarchs, and government pension-fund managers and their partners in the hedge funds whose portfolio asset appreciation depends on artificially elevated prices, environmentalist values would be balanced against human values.

The Californians who are hurt by urban containment are not the wealthy people who find it comforting to believe and lucrative to propagate the enabling big lie. The victims are the underprivileged, the immigrants, the minority communities, retirees who collect Social Security, low wage earners, and the ever-shrinking middle class.

In America, it used to be that refugees from California who aspired to improve their circumstances could move to somewhere like Houston and buy a home with relative ease. Watch out. That is changing. The masses are being herded into Green Bantustans, as America turns into a petri dish for the privileged upper class, backed up by a fanatical Earth First movement.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Donald Trump • Environment • Post • The Constitution • The Courts

The Celebrated Fake Frog That Is Taking Down the Deep State

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When President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the top constitutional lawyers in the country shared one predominant hope and expectation. Before the hearings, I spoke with five of the men who fought and won hard Supreme Court battles for religious freedom, property rights, and freedom of speech. All of them told me the same thing: the Kavanaugh court will take on the administrative state.

Recently, I received an email from the Pacific Legal Foundation that their hopes are coming true. It is a comic tale of frogs, mice, and deep state overreach, but far from trivial for America’s future.

President Trump, we are often told, is not a principled man, certainly not a constitutionalist. These critics mistake a habit of abstract thinking for principles. President Trump has a patriotic grasp of the essentials. He ran on the promise to appoint top quality, conservative judges, and unlike the GOP political class, he takes pride in keeping his pledge to voters over donors. Trump used the constitutional experts at the Federalist Society to draft his list of candidates, unlike the politically safe Bush appointments, which irresponsibly added to the liberal court majority.

President Trump’s appointees, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh, are now showing their mettle.

With liberals dominating the federal agencies and the courts, the Environmental Protection Agency’s power has grown decade by decade—that is, until President Trump appointed these two strong constitutionalists to the Supreme Court. The EPA is on the front lines of this battle because its rulings directly impact private property and economic freedom.

Without property rights, we have no freedom. The founding fathers understood that private property is the boundary which limits the tyranny of state power. As David D’Amato wrote, the leftist assault on liberty preaches that private property is inherently unjust. The sanctity of your private property has no place in their dystopia of social justice under an all-powerful state.

Enter President Trump’s new conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In the very first case of the new term, the court, with Kavanaugh taking his seat, took on a seemingly comical case that goes to the heart of government overreach.

Constitutional Ground Zero
The Supreme Court, since 1984, has been guided by the precedent that administrative regulations are the specialized work of “experts,” creating the infamous “Chevron deference,” that gives federal bureaucracies the right to create rules with the force of law but not subject to judicial review.

Ordinary people victimized by federal regulations often find little recourse in the courts. The deep state gets away with no judicial limits to their power. This is rule without law.

Politicians take advantage of this unwise court deference by writing vague laws, seemingly uncontroversial, and pass on the writing of the concrete—and at times politically explosive—details to unelected bureaucrats. Bureaucrat diktats are set above the courts. Thus, the Supreme Court’s Chevron deference throws open a wide door to government action without accountability to voters.

The impact on America has been devastating. Flying in the face of everything our founders accomplished, judicial deference to the bureaucracy allows government power to grow unchecked. And grow it has. It has meant a diminishment of our liberty and our prosperity.

Robert Alt, head of the Buckeye Institute, told me that we now have 4,500 federal criminal laws, that is, laws passed by Congress. That may sound like a lot but compare it to the 300,000 federal regulations written by unelected administrators. Bureaucratic rules are not insignificant when they carry criminal penalties. These 300,000 regulations are more powerful than any law, because no one is politically responsible for them, and the courts rarely review them.

The EPA is ground zero in the constitutional battle surrounding the rule of law, balance of powers, and limits on powers. Activists at the EPA hide behind the respect we give to scientists and our desire to protect nature and human health. They take popular, important safeguards, and pervert them into unscientific, unfair, and undemocratic power grabs. The EPA’s abuse of the Endangered Species Act is a power tool in the liberal shed that seeks to diminish property rights and limit economic activity.

Fighting a Mythical Jumping Mouse
The Pacific Legal Foundation emailed happy news about their victory against administrative overreach, “The U.S. Supreme Court gave PLF client Edward Poitevent—and all Americans—another huge reason to give thanks.”

The federal government designated this farmer’s private property in Louisiana a critical habitat for a threatened frog that does not—and cannot—even live on his farm. This species of frog hasn’t been seen in Louisiana for 50 years. Biologists stated it couldn’t live on his property even if someone put it there.

The new Supreme Court reached a unanimous decision that the EPA does not have authority to extend the definition of critical habitat to absurdity. The importance of the case is that the Court judged the issue at all. It is a significant step in taking back the power of review over the Deep State. This goes beyond the particular justice done for a single farmer facing down the EPA.

Justices Gorsuch and Thomas have signaled they view Chevron deference as unconstitutional. Joined by Kavanaugh, they are exerting a leadership role on the court.

The non-existent frog is not alone. In cahoots with activist environmental groups, the EPA has been able to define critical habitat where the endangered species does not exist and could not exist in many places, precisely in order to deprive citizens of the free enjoyment and value of their private property.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is taking on the Preble’s Jumping Mouse as the next stage in this battle.

Twenty years ago, the EPA undertook to protect a mouse subspecies at the behest of activists fighting development in a broad area south of Denver. DNA studies show the Preble’s Jumping mouse never has existed. There is no such distinct genetic subspecies.

Yet the EPA forced ranchers in Wyoming, hundreds of miles away and where even alleged Preble’s Jumping mice were never found, to do mitigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the price tag to ranchers has topped $200 million. These are not rich folks with extra money lying around in bank accounts. If PLF prevails, they will get relief. The frog case should help them.

A New Era of Constitutional Limits
Cases like this go far beyond the actions of the EPA. The untouchability of liberal rulings from the bench are based on precedence and deference. Precedence and deference shelter the unconstitutional New Deal expansion of the commerce clause to allow federal regulation of all economic activity. They also shelter Roe v. Wade.

Changing the court’s application of precedence and deference, as in the Louisiana frog case, is a building block of constitutional reform. Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh are conservative in that they make narrow rulings, try to avoid big public controversies, and build up new precedents case by case. We will not see overnight revolutionary changes. We will see a gradual restoration of constitutional limits on the government.

The assessment of their Louisiana frog victory by the Pacific Legal Foundation is jubilant: “The takeaway is a very clear, severe message the justices sent to government agencies intent on abusing their administrative powers: stop exploiting your power!”

The task will take time, but we should note and celebrate that we are on the way. Victories like this are essential if we wish to return to a nation of free enterprise and liberty.

None of this is academic. Fake frogs and imaginary mice have been powerful weapons against property rights and freedom. We are battling for constitutional rule once again. Our new conservative majority on the Supreme Court has used a small frog to take a small, but hopeful, step to restore legal limits on the power of Big Government.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

 

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cities • Economy • Energy • Environment • Europe • Immigration • Infrastructure • Post • The Culture • The Left

Twilight of the Malthusians

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Thomas Malthus was an English cleric and scholar living in the early 19th century who developed the theory that global population increases exponentially, while global production increases arithmetically. His theory—and the eventual collapse of civilization that it implies—enjoys influence to this day. In California, it found early expression in a 1976 speech by Governor Jerry Brown, who announced that we had entered an “era of limits.” For more than 40 years now, influential politicians such as Brown, supported by like-minded environmentalists, have embraced the Malthusian vision. But an alternative exists.

First, global population growth was only increasing “exponentially” for a few decades in the middle of the 20th century. As the chart below indicates, using data from the United Nations, the annual rate of global population growth peaked in 1980 at just over 2 percent. Since then, it has already dropped to half that rate, estimated at around 1 percent per year in 2020. By the end of this century, global population is projected to be growing at a decidedly “arithmetic” rate of under 0.2 percent per year.

At the same time that the rate of global population growth is slowing significantly, global productivity continues to increase. Virtually all recent estimates—World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations—forecast global GDP growth to exceed 3 percent per year into the foreseeable future. This rate of growth is low by historical standards and, notwithstanding temporary disruptions caused by future recessions, is likely to be much higher over the next several decades. Put another way, the rate of global wealth creation currently exceeds the rate of human population increase by at least 50 percent, and that ratio is likely to improve over the long-term.

Enough Resources to Sustain Global Economic Growth?
By now, most Malthusians have to acknowledge that global population is leveling off, but they will nonetheless assert that too many people are already here, and there simply aren’t enough resources left on Planet Earth to fuel long-term economic growth. But the prevailing challenge facing humanity when confronted with resource constraints is not that we are running out of resources, but how we will adapt and create new and better solutions to meet the needs that currently are being met by what are arguably scarce or finite resources. If one accepts this premise, that we are not threatened by diminishing resources, but rather by the possibility that we won’t successfully adapt and innovate to create new resources, a completely different perspective on resource scarcity and resource management may emerge.

Across every fundamental area of human needs, history demonstrates that as technology and freedom are advanced, new solutions evolve to meet them. Despite tragic setbacks of war or famine that provide examples to contradict this optimistic claim, overall the lifestyle of the average human being has inexorably improved across the centuries. While it is easy to examine specific consumption patterns today and suggest we now face a tipping point wherein shortages of key resources will overwhelm us, if one examines key resources one at a time, there is a strong argument that such a catastrophe, if it does occur, will be the result of war, corruption, or misguided adherence to counterproductive ideologies, and not because there were not solutions readily available through human creativity and advancing technology.

Energy, water, and land are, broadly speaking, the three resources one certainly might argue are finite and scrupulously must be managed. But in each case, a careful examination provides ample evidence to contradict this claim.

Abundant Energy: According to the most recent BP Statistical Review of World Energy, proven reserves of fossil fuel could provide enough energy to serve 100 percent of worldwide energy requirements at a total annual rate of consumption twice what is currently consumed for at least another 367 years. That is based on adding together the known reserves of the three primary fossil fuels. Using natural gas exclusively, 27 years; oil, 90 years; coal, 250 years. Moreover, additional reserves of fossil fuel are being discovered faster than fossil fuel is being depleted. And this abundance of available fossil fuel is estimated without accounting for vast deposits of so-called unconventional reserves such as methane hydrates.

In addition to fossil fuel, there are proven sources of energy such as nuclear and hydroelectric power, and new sources of energy including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, that have the potential to scale up to provide comparable levels of power production. And then there is the eventual promise of limitless, clean fusion power, and perhaps other sources of energy we can’t yet imagine. With these many energy alternatives, combined with relentless improvements in energy efficiency, it is difficult to imagine human civilization ever running out of energy.

Abundant Water: In many regions of the world, the challenge of meeting projected water needs appears more daunting than the challenge of producing adequate energy. But fresh water is not a finite resource. There are countless areas throughout the world where desalination technology can provide water in large quantities—in 2017 over 24 billion cubic meters of the world’s fresh water was obtained through desalination, an amount equivalent to 5 percent of all urban water use worldwide in that year. For large urban users, desalination is affordable and requires surprisingly little energy input.

Another way to provide abundant water is to redirect large quantities of river water via inter-basin transfers from water-rich areas to water poor areas. Finally, water is never truly used up, it is continuously recycled, and by treating and reusing water, particularly in urban areas, there should never be water scarcity.

With water, as with energy, innovation is providing solutions heretofore unimaginable. Densely populated urban areas around the world are turning to high-rise agriculture, where food is grown indoors using water that is perpetually recycled, fertilizer from waste streams, with zero need for pesticides.

Abundant Land: The question of finding adequate land for humans is clearly different from that of finding energy or water, since unlike energy or water, land is truly finite. But even here, key trends indicate land is now becoming more abundant, not less abundant. This is because for decades, all over the world, people have been migrating into densely populated cities. Using World Bank data, as summarized on the bar chart, the global rural population (red) has slowly increased from 2 billion in 1960 to an estimated 3.4 billion in 2020. By 2050, the rural population worldwide is actually expected to decrease, back down to 3.1 billion.

Meanwhile, the global urban population has accommodated nearly all population growth over the past sixty years. These urban populations are concentrated in megacities that, while vast, consume a small fraction of land area on earth. In 1960, humanity’s 1 billion urban dwellers constituted only 34 percent of the global population. By 2050, an estimated 6.6 billion people will live in cities, comprising 68 percent of all humanity. Moreover, this transition has been voluntary. Most people apparently prefer the amenities and opportunities of urban life.

This massive voluntary migration to cities from rural areas, combined with new agricultural innovations, is depopulating landscapes faster than what remains of human population growth will fill them. This seismic shift in the distribution of humans on earth, combined with new high yield crops, aquaculture, and urban high-rise agriculture, promises a decisive and very positive shift from land scarcity to land abundance in the next 25-50 years.

The Ideology of Abundance vs. the Ideology of Scarcity
If one accepts the possibility that humanity is not on a collision course with resource scarcity, entirely new ways of looking at policy options are revealed. Rather than attempting to manage demand, based on the premise that supplies are finite, we might also manage supply by increasing production. While, for example, utility pricing might still be somewhat progressive, if we assume resources will not run out, it doesn’t have to be punitive. If someone wishes to use more energy or water than their neighbor, if their pricing isn’t so punitive as to effectively ration their consumption, but instead is only moderately progressive, then overconsumption leads to higher profit margins at the utility, which in-turn finances more investment in supplies.

Another consequence of rejecting the Malthusian conventional wisdom is a new understanding of what may truly motivate many powerful backers of the doomsday lobby. By limiting consumption through claiming resources are perilously scarce and by extracting them we may destroy the earth, the vested interests who control the means of production will tighten their grip on those means.

Instead of pluralistically investing in this last great leap forward to build megacities and infrastructure for the future—in the process extracting raw materials that either can be recycled or are renewable—the public entities and powerful corporations who benefit from scarcity will raise prices and defer investment. It is the interests of the emergent classes, whether they are entrepreneurs in prosperous, advanced economies, or the aspiring masses in developing nations, which are harmed the most by the Malthusian notion of inevitable scarcity.

Abundance is a choice, and it is a choice the privileged elite must make—in order for humanity to achieve abundance, elites must accept the competition of disruptive technologies, the competition of emerging nations, and a vision of environmentalism that embraces resource development and rejects self-serving anti-growth alarmist extremism. The irony of our time is that the policies of socialism and extreme environmentalism do more harm than good both to ordinary people and the environment, while enabling wealthy elites to perpetuate their position of privilege at the same time as they embrace the comforting but false ideology of scarcity.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images

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Environment • Hollywood • Post • The Culture • The Left • The Media

‘Mars’ Lays Leftist Fearmongering on a Whole New World

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If you haven’t watched, you would think the National Geographic Channel’s cable series “Mars,” would be a straightforward dramatization of human colonization of the Red Planet in the near future. You would be half right.

The show is indeed a well-imagined portrayal of the first colonies on Mars, but rather than being a straightforward dramatization of this exciting next chapter in human civilization, the “Mars” series is saturated with leftist propaganda.

By the end of the second mini-season, which concluded December 17, the messages were clear: humans have brought planet Earth to the brink of apocalyptic ruin—capitalist, climate-denier humans in particular—and they’re going to do the same thing to Mars. They will, that is, unless an underfunded, heroic and beleaguered, transnational band of multicultural warriors with seductive accents manages to stop them.

The contrast down on the Martian surface couldn’t be more obvious. On one side the aforementioned “good” colony of scientists and environmental justice zealots. On the other, the “bad” colony, lavishly funded by the “Lukrum Corporation,” populated by remorseless shills, bent on destroying the fragile ecosystems of Mars for fun and profit.

Just in case this cartoon caricature of ideological struggle extending itself into the solar system isn’t obvious enough, the Martian drama is frequently interrupted with documentary interludes. These segments alternate between sober commentary by climate scientists, warning us of imminent disaster, and the usual images—mountain-sized formations of ice calving into a warming ocean, raging wildfire infernos, and, of course, oil-soaked waterfowl in their final death spasms.

If the rhetoric seems over the top, both in the dramatic dialogue, and in the documentary commentary, that’s because it is. Here are some actual quotes: “Whenever the wealth of the corporations is greater than the wealth of governments, the corporations win.” “People have to join together to rein in the companies.” “Oil is a war against life.” “Big corporations will view Mars as an ‘unfettered’ regulatory environment.” “Science faces skepticism from the public and opposition from the people in power.” “Our mission was to explore this planet, not watch it be exploited by corporate thugs.”

And on, and on, and on, and on, and on. To make their points, National Geographic trots out everyone from Bernie Sanders to Bill Nye the Science Guy, and they touch on everything from climate change to Citizens United. Parents, watch your teenagers; nothing they get in the public schools will contradict this one-sided onslaught.

And what’s the point, if you take this literally? That colonies on Mars, a moonlike, cratered rock with barely a trace atmosphere and no archeological remnants (notwithstanding speculation from ancient astronaut theorists), require environmental impact statements? That Mars might experience catastrophic climate change? That its “ecosystems” must not be disrupted? Really? No. This is television docudrama intended as a convincing metaphor. After all, if we have to be this cautious on Mars, imagine how much more cautious we’re going to need to be here on Earth.

While National Geographic makes transparent use of the eventual settlement of Mars as a metaphor for the ideological conflict currently raging on Earth, this cable television production itself might serve as an apt metaphor as well. Because this TV show is affiliated with—and partially owned by—a ridiculously well-endowed foundation, the National Geographic Society, yet presents its case as if it is arguing against the all-powerful establishment.

This is one of the biggest lies in the entire debate over how to manage resources on Earth: the lie that says the people concerned about “climate change” are the underfunded underdogs, who bravely face the corporate behemoths and their paid-off puppets. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following table shows, for the most recent year for which there is data available, the annual revenue of just a few of the environmentalist nonprofits operating in America.

The National Geographic Society is the largest on this list, but the tail is long. Beyond this sampling, there are thousands of activist nonprofits dedicated to fighting “climate change,” or “smart growth,” or “getting people out of their cars” and promoting mass transit, or “environmental justice,” and so on. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, the man who once said, “terraforming Mars is an idea whose time has gone,” “billions and billions” of dollars are spent each year by environmentalist nonprofits in the United States, and “billions and billions” more around the world.

Environmentalist Nonprofits and Foundations (partial list)

To be fair, much of the work being done by environmentalist nonprofits is valuable and should be supported. Back in the good old days, Greenpeace had one mission: save the whales. And they succeeded. The Sierra Club had its origins in saving what remained of old-growth Sequoiadendron giganteum redwood trees; the club even advocated restrictions on immigration based on the impeccable logic that if millions of people continued to pour into the United States, that would put additional pressure onto ecosystems. But that idea went away as the alliance between the hard Left and the environmentalist movement solidified.

Now, instead of prioritizing efforts to end what are the urgent and genuine environmentalist challenges of today—tropical deforestation to grow “carbon neutral” biofuel, strip-mining the oceans to feed Asia, slaughtering the last herds of Rhinos because supposedly consuming powder from their ground-up horns works better than Viagra, slaughtering apex ocean predators that are essential to marine ecosystems because serving soup containing Shark fin confers status in China, rampant rates of population increases among the most backward, misogynistic societies on Earth—instead these well-heeled environmentalist nonprofits are turning all their firepower towards ending “climate change.”

The irony here is off the chart. Enlisting the financial power and moral credibility of American and international environmentalist organizations in the fight against “climate change” is a corporatist wet dream. Except, oops, it’s not a dream. It’s reality. You see, when it comes to fighting “climate change,” the environmentalists have a lot of help. And why wouldn’t they?

Fighting climate change, as it is interpreted in contemporary society, means you can’t build any more homes on open land. Instead, you have to densify, in order to reduce the “carbon footprint.” This makes established landowners and land developers filthy rich, since only they have the preexisting assets and financial heft to build more homes. It enriches the public sector, as higher property taxes are collected from real estate that has artificially inflated value, and as the real estate portfolios of pension funds soar commensurately.

Fighting climate change means consumers have to buy new cars and new durable appliances, since the old ones waste energy and water, and aren’t “smart.” And speaking of “smart,” fighting climate change means we’ll have to build “smart cities” and the “internet of things,” whereby not only will every aspect of our resource consumption be micro-managed—with “incentives” to reduce usage at algorithmically optimized moments (never mind if you wanted to wash your shirt now, and not when the grid is ready to accommodate you), but you’ll also be micro-surveilled.

Fighting climate change means that international corporations will get a few more profitable quarters, as they sell new automobiles, light rail cars, busses, washers, dryers, ovens, cooktops, water heaters, solar panels, streetlights, grid upgrades, etc., that people will be required by law to buy. And everything from your coffee maker to your toilet will be “wired.” You will not only be mandated to buy these products, but you’ll have to “subscribe” to them in order to facilitate software upgrades. You’ll never really own them. But who wants a dumb washer, after all?

Fighting climate change will mean that public entities will no longer have to build new infrastructure, and will use that money instead to hire more bureaucrats to watch over us, and to pay themselves more. Fighting climate change will mean that all rights to extract and utilize “carbon” will be traded—amidst stupefying corruption and fraud—on an exchange, with the number of extraction credits slowly ratcheted down, allowing the market to set the price per unit. How wonderful.

And while the transnational corporations are getting richer, and political bureaucracies are expanding their reach, and environmentalist organizations continue to swell with virtue, what will happen to the environment—along with possible minor warming, possibly partially contributed to by humans? A lot will happen, that’s what.

Population growth will rage unchecked in the most vulnerable regions of the planet because nobody wanted to be called racist, ocean fisheries will collapse because nobody wanted to stand up to China, forests will be replaced with carbon-neutral corporate plantations because that was the “science-based” policy of choice, and charismatic megafauna will go extinct, because, well, you know why.

While this happens, what will the National Geographic Society be up to? They’ll produce more “climate change” propaganda, purportedly to warn us about corporations and all that.

Yes, “Mars” is a metaphor. But perhaps not the metaphor its producers intended.

Photo credit: National Geographic Channel

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