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New York Times Melts Down Over EPA’s Secret Science Ban

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The New York Times is spittin’ mad at Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt. In just the past week, the paper has attacked Pruitt four times—from the front-page to the editorial page—following his announcement that the agency would not longer be permitted to rely on so-called “secret science” as a basis for taking regulatory action. And at no point in this onslaught has the Times allowed the truth to get in the way of its narrative.

Since 1994, the EPA and university researchers it funds have been hiding scientific data from Congress and the public. The agency has used the data and studies in question since 1997 as the basis for issuing unnecessary and draconian air-quality regulations. During the Obama years, EPA relied on these studies to issue regulations that wiped out 94 percent of the market value of the U.S. coal industry. The largest companies were forced into bankruptcy, eliminating thousands of miner jobs, and wreaking havoc on communities that depended on those jobs.

In 1994, an EPA external science advisory board known as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee asked EPA for its air pollution data, but the agency ignored the request. In 1997, Congress requested the same data and was refused. In 1998, Congress passed a law requiring that scientific data used by the agency must be made available to the public. But a federal appellate court held the law unenforceable.

In 2011, Congress again began politely asking the EPA for its data. No luck. So in 2013, Congress issued its first subpoena in 30 years to force EPA to produce the data. Again, no luck. The House then began passing bills—three of them in successive sessions of Congress—to bar EPA from relying on secret data to issue regulations. But all three got stuck in the Senate, including the current bill known as the HONEST Act. (The secret science saga is told in full in my book, Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA and summarized in my March 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed).

Since Congress can’t or won’t act, Pruitt has taken the initiative and recently announced that the agency will no longer rely on studies with secret data.

Although the new policy officially has not been released, Pruitt stated his intent in an interview with the Daily Caller. This set off the Times into a frenzy of dishonest reporting and editorializing.

A March 27 front-page screed labeled the ban on secret data as an “attack on science.” Although I have led the charge against EPA’s secret science for the past 20 years and spoken at length with two Times’ reporters for the article, none of my comments made it into print. Nor did the Times include any comments from the key researchers who are hiding their data.

Instead, the Times quoted people with little to no familiarity with the issue, the most appalling of which was an official from the American Association for the Advancement of Science who told the Times that banning secret science “is not about science” but rather just an an attack on regulation. (My line-by-line commentary on the New York Times article is here.)

On the same day as the front-page article, the Times ran an op-ed from Gina McCarthy, the Obama EPA chief who in 2011 told Congress she would produce the data. She never did. Not only was McCarthy’s op-ed full of the usual false claims about the secret science controversy, but she failed to disclose her post-EPA affiliation with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health—one of the taxpayer-funded universities involved in hiding the controversial air quality data. (My line-by-line commentary on McCarthy’s op-ed is here.)

March 30 saw the publication of dutifully hysterical letters to the editor raving that “the discrediting of science is a shocking new piece of American life” and that Pruitt was “rolling back science-based safeguards.”

Finally, on March 31, the Times published a wild editorial accusing Pruitt of “muzzling scientific inquiry” and being “determined to destroy” EPA all in the hope of someday becoming president. (My line-by-line commentary on that editorial is here.)

All this raving aside, Pruitt is taking steps to end what I believe is the largest and most devastating case of scientific fraud ever. Moreover, EPA has spent about $600 million to prop up the claims made by the original (taxpayer-funded) secret science studies. If all this is on the up-and-up, as the New York Times and McCarthy claim. I’ll eat my words. But let’s see the data first.

Photo credit:  Pete Marovich/Getty Images

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When the EPA Was Really Corrupt

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Who said this? “The EPA is one of the most toxic places in the federal government to work. If you don’t get rid of the toxicity of the employees at the EPA, we are doing a great disservice to this country. I have serious questions about [the EPA administrator’s] ability to actually administrate.”

No, those remarks aren’t from one of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s many critics on the Left. They’re the words of former House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who held several congressional hearings in 2016 to investigate egregious cases of misconduct and mismanagement under the leadership of Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s last EPA chief.

Since official Washington is consumed with Pruitt’s every move, perhaps it’s time to take a little trip down pre-Trump Memory Lane—when all was right in the world, according to incurious elite media—and jolt the faulty memories of these hyperventilating talking heads and editorial boards who insist Pruitt should be fired for spending 50 bucks a night to rent a D.C. condo.

Gina McCarthy should share a place of ignominy in the Obama Hall of Shame, right alongside IRS commissioner John Koskinen, FBI Director James Comey, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Despite extensive evidence of wrongdoing and subsequent attempts to cover up one scandal after another, McCarthy mostly avoided harsh news coverage during her tenure from July 2013 to January 2017. (She barely won Senate confirmation following questions about her integrity and environmental activism.)

Chaffetz led a series of hearings in 2015 and 2016 detailing outrageous—and occasionally unlawful—behavior by EPA bureaucrats, and McCarthy’s failure to reprimand wayward employees. McCarthy was a masterful blame-shifter who skillfully conned a gullible media into buying her excuses, an approach that started before Obama promoted her to EPA chief. (After a top official embezzled nearly $1 million in bogus pay and bonuses while working for an EPA department McCarthy supervised, she blamed a colleague for her failure to act in a timely manner—a delay that permitted the plundering to continue for more two years.)

She was at the helm of the EPA during two major environmental crises, the Gold King Mine spill and the Flint Water crisis. McCarthy helped push one of the greatest bureaucratic overreaches of all time—the Clean Power Plan—which was so excessive that the Supreme Court stayed the rule in an unprecedented move by the court. She spent nearly $750,000 on international travel in three years.

McCarthy was accused of permitting a workplace hostile to women, and particularly dangerous for young girls. The EPA Inspector General told Congress about instances of employees watching and downloading porn, including child pornogrpahy, on federal computers. During one heated hearing, when McCarthy hid behind her usual “bureaucratese” to defend her failure to fire a known-predator at her agency, Chaffetz shot back, “I’ve got two young daughters. And I would never send them to the EPA, it’s the most toxic place to work I’ve ever heard of.”

Chaffetz also uncovered evidence that a convicted child molester “was on the EPA’s payroll for years, even after the EPA learned of this offense. The EPA knows that this person is a convicted child molester, and yet the EPA put him in a position to interact with the public. This person was found to have police sirens placed on his personal vehicle, lights and sirens, handcuffs, and a counterfeit badge.”

Makes a soundproof phone booth seems tame, huh?

So, while the New York and D.C. media echo-chamber is stuck on repeat about Scott Pruitt’s travel costs and living arrangements, I’ll pop in a mix tape of McCarthy’s Greatest Hits…

Causing the Gold King Mine spill: In 2015, EPA workers destroyed a plug that was holding water at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado. Despite knowing the risk of a blowout (and subsequently covering up the fact they had that knowledge), the work continued at the abandoned mine until a breach unleashed three million gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River, polluting a waterway serving three Western states. While McCarthy apologized for the disaster—calling it a “tragic and unfortunate incident”—her agency declined to accept full responsibility and attempted to deflect any scrutiny from Congress and the media.

Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department refused to prosecute the EPA employee culpable for the breach. (Sound familiar?) Nearly three years later, no one has been held accountable for the man-made catastrophe. Here’s how the Heritage Foundation summed up the EPA’s actions surrounding the Gold King Mine spill: “[The] EPA has obfuscated, misdirected and lied to cover up what were at best implausible assumptions followed by reckless actions and then use of taxpayer dollars to hide the truth. So far, the bureaucrats responsible have gotten away with it.”

Ignoring the Flint Water Crisis: In April 2014, a state-appointed manager switched Flint’s drinking water source to save money. Residents of the impoverished town soon started to complain about the new water’s color and odor: Testing showed it contained high levels of lead and other poisons in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Although McCarthy’s EPA was first notified of the problem in April 2015, she did not declare a state of emergency until January 2016.

That same month, the EPA’s regional director responsible for Flint resigned amid her failure to take immediate action or notify the public about the potential danger. But McCarthy  upped her blame game, writing a whiny March 2016 column for the Washington Post saying, “From day one, Michigan did not act as a partner. The state’s interactions with us were dismissive, misleading and unresponsive. The EPA’s regional office was also provided with confusing, incomplete and incorrect information. As a result, EPA staff members were unable to understand the scope of the lead problem until more than a year after the switch to untreated water.” But her own agency’s inspector general report later contradicted McCarthy’s claims, concluding the EPA had “the authority and sufficient information” to act on behalf of Flint residents in June 2015.

Misleading Congress: There were several instances of McCarthy misleading Congress and flouting Congressional oversight. In September 2015, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and 20 Republicans co-sponsored a bill to impeach McCarthy over false statements she gave to Congress about the Waters of the United States proposal. (Another flawed rule held up by the federal courts.)

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a frequent McCarthy critic, accused her of giving “misleading and contradictory” and “untruthful” statements about the EPA’s work on a highly-controversial report about a widely-used herbicide. And around the same time Hillary Clinton was deleting 30,000 emails from her private server, McCarthy was deleting around 6,000 texts from her government-issued phone. (Smith subpoenaed them.)

Violating Federal Social Media Policies: The Government Accountability Office concluded in 2015 that the EPA weaponized social media to promote the Waters of the United States rule. The agency “violated publicity and anti-lobbying provisions” and “engaged in covert propaganda” by not identifying the EPA as the host of Twitter messages related to the rule.

But, Pruitt’s condo!

Smith is not surprised by the media scrum against Pruitt. “They were top cheerleaders for the EPA’s extreme actions under [McCarthy’s] guidance,” Smith told American Greatness in an email. “Despite the embrace of the liberal media, who should champion open government, McCarthy’s legacy at the EPA is her repeated dismissal of transparency.”

Of course, it’s too late to go back in time and make the media apply the same standards to Obama’s EPA that they are imposing on Trump’s EPA. But that doesn’t mean none of it happened.

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Why is the Media Suddenly So Interested in the EPA?

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Funny what happens when a Republican wins the White House. The media mob suddenly develops an interest in transparency and fiscal responsibility. This week—in a story that has been developing over several months—all eyes are on the Environmental Protection Agency.

For eight years, President Obama’s two EPA administrators—Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy—received very little scrutiny from major news organizations. Reporters and opinion writers overlooked their misconduct at the EPA: excessive travel costs; blatant disregard of congressional oversight and lying to Congress; deleted texts and phony email accounts; colluding with activists who sought to use the agency to impose their costly, ideological agenda.

When the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the agency’s Clean Power Plan in 2016 because it exceeded administrative authority—the first time the court blocked a major EPA rule—no one called for McCarthy’s resignation or even criticized her role in writing the bad regulation. The editorial boards at the New York Times and Washington Post didn’t demand that McCarthy step down after she apologized for the disastrous Gold King Mine spill in Colorado, where 3 million gallons of toxic sludge befouled a river system spanning three states.

When McCarthy defended her agency’s role in the Flint water crisis, the Washington Post described her as some sort of hero: “She stood up to often-furious questioning at a congressional hearing that included Republican calls for her resignation, asserting that under the law her agency had done all it could to protect Flint’s residents.”

Time and again, sympathetic scribes in the mainstream media gave the EPA chiefs a pass.

But that drastically changed on December 7, 2016, when Donald Trump nominated Scott Pruitt to be his EPA administrator. Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, was an outspoken critic of the agency and sued the EPA several times in his role as the Sooner State’s top lawyer. His appointment was a Southern-styled boot-kick to the far-left scientific establishment and the environmental lobby, signaling an end to their unchecked power grip at the EPA.

To his credit, Pruitt refused to try and win them over: He immediately scrubbed the EPA’s website of climate change propaganda and encouraged the president to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

The unrelenting media assault on Pruitt is yet another tale of contrasts between how the Washington press corps covers the Trump Administration versus how it covered for the Obama Administration. One quick example: The New York Times, which has a particularly vicious vendetta against Pruitt, has published 395 articles, columns, and editorials about the current EPA chief since November 9, 2016: Nearly all are negative. The Times has churned out dozens of stories about Pruitt’s travel expenses, including his purchase of first-class airline seats for foreign trips. (Jackson and McCarthy did, too. The pair tallied over $1 million in travel costs on international junkets, according to a report last month in the Washington Free Beacon.)

But from March 2013 until November 2016, the Times only ran 156 articles that mentioned McCarthy. While she received some tepid criticism from the paper for her mishandling of the Flint water crisis, most of its coverage was nebulous if not glowing.

One puff piece described McCarthy as “a listener and a saleswoman” with a “salty sense of humor and a history of negotiating with polluting industries.” Even though that same article referenced McCarthy’s “regular cross-country road trips that are both listening tour and sales pitch,” the Times’ reporters didn’t bother to ask how she traveled or demand to see any expense reports. In fact, the only Times article that raised McCarthy’s travel schedule is buried at the end of a piece on Pruitt’s travel:

Gina McCarthy also traveled frequently to her home in Boston. A spokeswoman estimated that Ms. McCarthy traveled home roughly every other weekend during her term. She said Ms. McCarthy paid for the travel. Ms. McCarthy’s travel could not be immediately verified because her travel records are not publicly available.

Exactly. Her travel records were not publicly available because no one asked for them.

Now ponder a lengthy Times piece on Pruitt’s official schedule. Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman reviewed 320 pages of Pruitt’s schedule from February through May of last year, then accused the EPA chief of holding “back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates—and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.”

Midway through the story, Lipton and Friedman briefly mention how they reviewed one year of McCarthy’s official schedule and concluded it “also demonstrated a partisan bent.” McCarthy “held a disproportionate number of meetings with Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups, particularly in the summer of 2014, when the administration was making the case for sweeping climate-change regulations.”

That’s it. Although McCarthy handled most of Obama’s arm-twisting and bureaucratic chicanery to impose his unlawful climate change agenda, the Times could only muster a few brief paragraphs about her meeting and travel schedule over a four-year period. After she was gone.

So it’s no surprise that McCarthy found a safe space on the Times’ editorial page last week to blast Pruitt for his recent announcement to end the use of “secret science” at the EPA. The insular scientific establishment—which portrays any outside request for accountability as an “attack of science”—is furious that Pruitt will no longer allow burdensome and unnecessary federal regulations to be buttressed by independent research that is not publicly available.

Pruitt, quite logically, told The Daily Caller that the EPA must “make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

In an interview with the Hoover Institution, Pruitt further defended his move:

We have rules that we’ve adopted as an agency, historically, where we’ve contracted science out to a third party, and as the third party provides the findings and the conclusions, they don’t provide the data and the methodology that was used to reach the conclusion. We just simply made the change that if we contract out any particular third party to undergird rules, we’re going to make sure that the data and methodology is transferable and can be viewed by the public to ensure that it’s been done right.

But McCarthy, who has been accused of withholding potentially biased data from Congress, wants the research kept under wraps.

“But don’t be fooled by this talk of transparency,” she wrote in her Times op-ed. “[Pruitt] and some conservative members of Congress are setting up a nonexistent problem in order to prevent the E.P.A. from using the best available science. These studies adhere to all professional standards and meet every expectation of the scientific community in terms of peer review and scientific integrity.”

(Pruitt’s action is based on legislation sponsored by House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican and longtime McCarthy critic.)

None of the Left’s non-stop condemnation of Pruitt has anything to do with fiscal restraint or solid science. Pruitt has been a one-man wrecking crew at the EPA, dismantling Obama’s cherished climate change legacy, repealing the Clean Power Plan, dismissing activist-scientists who feed at the public trough, and ending the practice of “sue and settle,” a tactic used by special interest groups to force the agency to enact regulations they demand.

There is no greater threat to the reach and power of the federal government than Pruitt right now, and the Left not only wants him gone, they want him destroyed. (Thanks to the media’s despicable coverage of Pruitt, he and his family are facing an unprecedented number of death threats.)

The anti-Trump mob is also terrified at the prospect that Pruitt would replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, where he would undoubtedly apply the same smash-mouth approach and uncover God-knows-what. They want him so damaged that he’d never survive a Senate confirmation hearing.

It is difficult to calculate how hypocritical the media has been in covering this administration versus the previous one. But its collective coverage of the EPA and Scott Pruitt in particular has to be the most appalling—and destructive—example yet.

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Motor City Strikes Again: ‘Stop the Killer Cars!’

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Leave it to the Regressive Left to put a pothole on the Motor City’s road to renewal.

After decades of struggling, including becoming America’s largest municipal bankruptcy and enduring the restructuring of Chrysler and General Motors, Detroit has experienced an outburst of positive national press for being a hip city on the upswing.

Yet, to some, there lurks a great crime behind Detroit’s improving fortunes: the mass production and distribution of killer cars.

To wit, in a Twitter thread, a David Klion asserts:

As to why, Mr. Klion is straightforward and succinctly argues from “two unarguable premises: cars kill innocent people and cars are destroying the planet.” Ergo, he believes:

Klion is not without solutions to this scourge. Admitting he is “impatient for technology to make your car obsolete,” including “autonomous vehicles” for rural areas, he also calls for “reconfiguring sprawling metropolitan area that shouldn’t have been built around cars” to make them “more transit-oriented.”

And, yes, as one might suspect, he does equate cars with . . . 

Speeding to the defense of car-crazed Americans, especially those whose pickup trucks have shotgun racks, was David Burge (a.k.a., IowaHawk): “No invention has been a greater boon to human prosperity and freedom than the automobile.” Burge also had a few other choice words for Mr. Klion, here:

Born in the city that put the world on wheels, I’m partial to Burge’s views on cars. But this is not merely a parochial position, it is a philosophical one.

Klion is to be commended for his frankness and for his encapsulation of the Regressive ideology’s application to an issue.

Blame people for being unable to use a technology safely—i.e., killing others and the planet due to sundry inexcusable indulgences and foibles; deny everyone the right to own said technology; expect people who utilize the technology to “feel bad” until they’re “woke” enough to divine how to stop using it; and demand government ban and/or render antiquated the technology through the creation and implementation of new technologies (you know, like the car once was) and the “reconfiguration” of society.

Obviously, this belief that government can coercively recreate humanity and society into a terrestrial Eden in accord with Regressive ideology is the antithesis of clear thinking and, as history shows, sanity.

But while many may be tempted to dismiss David Klion as a crank, this is patently unfair. He is actually representative of the Regressive environmental movement and its contempt for the “infernal combustion engine,” in particular, and industrialization, in general. Further, it must ever be remembered that the Regressive Left has a proven strategy for turning insane ideas into “enlightened public opinion”: a Leftist academic or pundit spits out a nutty theory; the Leftist media gins up “news” treating the nutty theory as sane, and the cause or solution to a purported societal “crisis”; and then Leftist politicians hop on the crazy train and steam ahead toward and over the American people tied to the tracks.

With due respect to the Regressives who would turn the “Arsenal of Democracy” into an urban farm, please count out this child of the Motor City. I well recall the old Chevy ad: “It’s not just your car, it’s your freedom.”

And every  American owns that.

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Climate Cabal Purges ‘Deniers’

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The climate cabal is in a panic. The Trump Administration is systematically dismantling President Obama’s climate change legacy: Federal agencies are scrubbing references to climate change, President Trump announced the United States. would exit the Paris Climate Accord, and his cabinet is peddling American-made fossil fuels around the world.

Climate change barely registered a blip in the 2016 presidential election, and even members of the alleged Party of Science are increasingly uninterested in global warming. Only 19 percent of Democrats say climate change is the most important issue in the mid-term elections, and that support drops to 11 percent for independent voters. On the heels of an El Nino season where temperatures were customarily warm, most of the country is now enduring a frigid, blizzard-like winter, which the climate propagandists counterintuitively also blame on global warming.

So, as the climate cabal feels their grip on federal policy and public opinion weaken, its zealots are becoming more desperate. Michael Mann, a Penn State University climatologist and the media’s go-to-guy for any apocalyptic quote about how anthropogenic global warming will kill us all, seems more unbalanced than usual. As the “Citizen Secretary of Science and Environment” in Donald Trump’s so-called “Shadow Cabinet”—which also includes Laurence Tribe and Robert Reich—Mann appears to be taking his pretend post a bit too seriously. Mann recently called White House advisor Kellyanne Conway “evil incarnate,” said Trump is a “moron” and a “threat to the planet,” and denounced Devin Nunes as “a traitor to this country” and demanded he “be subject to appropriate sanctions.” He’s mocked the president’s son and tweeted at the First Lady. (Pretty ironic coming from a guy who filed a lawsuit because someone called him a mean name.)

Last April, he started the #ShowYourCancellation hashtag to urge others to join him in cancelling their New York Times subscriptions after the paper hired anti-Trump “conservative” and former climate change skeptic Bret Stephens. (As a Wall Street Journal columnist, Stephens mocked climate change as a “religion” and vilified “climate prophets and profiteers” for years. He quickly reversed his view once he joined the Times.) Channeling his inner child—apparently, an easy task for him—Mann just published a children’s book to help indoctrinate the nation’s youth in the ways we human beings are causing global warming. He smears other scientists who don’t adhere to strict climate dogma, but still portrays himself as the victim. In testimony last year on Capitol Hill, Mann compared himself to scientists purged under Stalin’s reign of terror. But despite his inane bleating about his supposed oppression, Mann still manages to earn awards and accolades from climate acolytes around the world, and is the most quoted climate scientist in the American press.

Now, the notorious “Hockey Stick” creator is going after the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Mann is demanding that museum officials remove Rebekah Mercer from its board of trustees: Mercer is an heiress, philanthropist and major Republican Party benefactor who supports Donald Trump. She runs the Mercer Family Foundation, which has donated $4 million to the museum since 2008—and probably helped raise much more than that—and has been a museum board member since 2013. Her father was a scientist, and Mercer has a master’s degree from Stanford in management science and engineering.

Despite her scientific credentials and largess, Mann wants her kicked off the board because she doesn’t agree with the mythical consensus on man-made global warming, and because her foundation donates money to nonprofits that challenge climate science. A letter signed by Mann and more than 400 activist-scientists gives a scary glimpse into the next stage of attack by the climate cabal: “We ask the American Museum of Natural History, and all public science museums, to end ties to anti-science propagandists and funders of climate science misinformation, and to have Rebekah Mercer leave the American Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees.”

In a New York Times op-ed on February 5, Mann accuses Mercer of spending millions to “discredit science.” While he rants about President Trump, the Koch brothers, and conservative climate deniers, Mann laughably argues his stunt isn’t rooted in politics: “Let’s be clear: This is not about partisan politics; it’s about mission alignment and truth. A financier of climate denialism does not belong in a leadership position at a science museum.” He arrogantly suggests that Mercer’s donations should be spent “to develop exhibitions and programs that educate the public about the climate-denial machine, that illuminate its history of using propaganda to obstruct pro-climate action and that document how we’ve arrived at this current crisis point for the planet.”

Here, I have a suggestion for Dr. Mann: After you raise the $650,000 the Mercers donate to the museum every year, then the board can ask her to step down. It’s easy to rage about “climate deniers” and make demands for a litmus test that museum board members must pass. The hard part is putting your money where your big mouth is.

He’d better start selling a lot of those kids’ books.

But this is not about science. Silencing anyone who dares even to question climate change orthodoxy is yet another oppressive tactic in the Left’s anti-speech crusade. They simply cannot abide any opinion that does not align with their progressive worldview. It’s an extension of what’s happening in academia, in Hollywood, in the media, and in the private sector. “Mission alignment” is the creepy term they will use to impose their speech and conduct codes.

They are even starting to turn on their own. Scientists recently blasted Mann’s pal, Bill Nye the Science Guy, for attending the State of the Union address with Jim Bridenstine, Trump’s pick for NASA administrator. More than 500 women scientists accused Nye of placing his “personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large” and blamed him for using his “public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.” They claimed, “it is impossible to separate science at major agencies like NASA from other pressing issues like racism, bigotry, and misogyny.”

So Bill Nye—a man on record saying he wants “climate deniers” to die off and who is a shameless promoter of identity politics—is now some kind of Trump stooge because he dared to sit with someone who holds a different opinion from his friends. Not only is he banished from the scientific establishment for his dirty deed, he is now branded racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.

This is a scary trajectory for science, and it’s being led by pernicious bullies like Michael Mann. The good people in the field need to speak out or it’s only a matter of time before they, too, are targeted just like Mercer and Nye.

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Administrative State • Economy • Energy • Environment • Greatness Agenda • Post • Technology • Trade

Smarter Regs Can Be a ‘Force Multiplier’ for U.S. Research

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Several years ago, I participated in a colloquium with a title along the lines of “Advancing Technology: Thinking Outside the Box.” My lecture probably was the most mundane: I proposed that smarter and more risk-based government regulation of products, processes, and technologies would act as what the military call a “force multiplier”—a capability, tool, or weapon that increases the effectiveness of your force and its ability to perform a mission.

Excessively burdensome regulation blunts technological innovation, I argued, echoing the conclusions of Progressive Policy Institute economists Michael Mandel and Diana Carew in a 2013 policy memo: “For each new regulation added to the existing pile, there is a greater possibility for . . . inefficient company resource allocation, and for reduced ability to invest in innovation.” The result, they said, is that “the negative effect on U.S. industry of regulatory accumulation actually compounds on itself for every additional regulation added to the pile.”

The economic burden of America’s accumulating mountain of regulations is almost unimaginable. A massive study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University covering 22 industries between 1977-2012 concluded regulation has created a considerable drag on the economy amounting to an average reduction in the annual growth rate of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.8 percent. That translates to a U.S. economy that is a whopping $4 trillion smaller than it otherwise would have been.

There are numerous reasons for this. For a start, as regulations become more complex and burdensome, prospective entrepreneurs and managers must expend more resources compliance and have less available for innovation and corporate growth. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s report Ten Thousand Commandments 2016 examines many of the government’s own cost estimates, which are notoriously low, as bureaucrats tend to lowball the costs and overstate the benefits of their rules. Nevertheless, the study found that federal regulation alone costs consumers and businesses at least $1.9 trillion every year in compliance costs and lost economic productivity—or more than 11 percent of current GDP. According to the author, federal regulation is, in effect, “a hidden tax that amounts to nearly $15,000 per U.S. household each year.”

The ‘Next Big Thing’ Will Be Hard to Find
Much existing regulation is either superfluous or not especially cost-effective. Regulatory excesses make it less likely an American will discover the Next Big Thing in any of the sectors where we have excelled—nanotechnology, materials science, nuclear power, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology and agriculture, to name a few.

That’s one of the reasons some public policy researchers say excessive regulation contributed to the dismal recovery from the Great Recession of a decade ago.

Others, such as Hoover Institution economist Robert Hall, are not so sure. Speaking about a June 2017 working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research he co-authored, Hall said, “We worked on trying to quantify the changes in regulations and their effects on productivity, but did not confirm much of a connection.”

The difficulty is it’s nearly impossible to guess what Next Big Things would have come along and significantly boosted the economy had regulation been more scientific and less onerous. Would most of the nation’s electricity be produced by newer, more efficient, safer nuclear fusion power plants? Would new materials revolutionize fields from medical devices to biofuels? Would the flu have been eradicated—thereby boosting productivity growth—by U.S.-produced “universal” flu vaccines that confer permanent immunity to all flu strains?

A recent initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which since 1987 has unscientifically and excessively regulated genetically engineered crops, severely inhibiting innovation—especially the development of new varieties of specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts—perfectly illustrates the ignorance of the critical role that regulatory reform can play. In January, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced that it was seeking applications for its Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) program, which is

. . . established jointly among NIFA, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Biological Sciences Directorate, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom to foster the development of breakthrough technologies for advancing crop breeding. Additionally, EAGER addresses the barriers to improving crop varieties, such as producing hybrids, understanding recombination, and epigenetic inheritance. This EAGER opportunity invites proposals to overcome these barriers to crop breeding in highly innovative and transformative ways . . . Emphasis should be on developing technologies that will impact crops or model crop systems . . .

The announcement went on to say that NIFA anticipated having “approximately $3,000,000 in total available grant funds for the program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.”

This proposal shows the profound ignorance of USDA bureaucrats, and that one part of the department hasn’t a clue about what goes on in other parts. It’s like driving a car with the emergency brake engaged.

Revising the department’s regulation to make it more scientifically defensible and risk-based would not only achieve budgetary savings down the road, it would also leverage precisely the kinds of research advances EAGER envisions. These are already in the research pipeline and are being funded by other entities in both the government and the private sector. But dismantling the superfluous bureaucracy that is the “Biotechnology Regulatory Services” would amount to a huge boost to the economy in the long run.

A Little Would Go a Long Way
In other words, a reduction in regulatory obstacles for the development of genetically engineered plants would be a force multiplier for many of the grants made under the program (as well as other research).

The refinement of regulation to make it more evidence-based and cost-effective, and less of a drag on R&D, isn’t as sexy as growing crops in the Sahara or developing an app to track objects in space in order to prevent collisions, but it could yield tremendous humanitarian and economic benefits in the near-term and for generations to come. Regulators won’t do it without significant prodding, however, so maybe major health-related philanthropies like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Gates Foundation, and Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative should make it part of their agenda. In addition to their direct philanthropy, their grantees would benefit from the “force multiplier” effect of smarter, more streamlined, more efficient regulation. It could be a vivid demonstration that outside the box advances need not occur inside the lab or in the field.

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America • Cities • Democrats • Energy • Environment • Post • Technology • The Left

De Blasio’s Hot Wind Blows Hard

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More than five years after New York City was pummeled by Superstorm Sandy, killing dozens of people and causing billions of dollars in damages, Mayor Bill de Blasio is demanding retribution. In an overly dramatic press event on Wednesday (undoubtedly arriving courtesy of his fossil fuel-powered motorcade), de Blasio announced the city will sue five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell—for producing and selling a “lethal product” responsible for climate change. The lawsuit, filed in federal court on January 9, claims:

Climate change is here and is harming New York City. The temperature in the City is rapidly increasing, sea levels are rapidly rising, coastal storms are causing increased flooding, and extreme precipitation events are increasing throughout the Northeastern United States. Studies by the New York City Panel on Climate Change demonstrate that global warming is already causing the City to suffer increased hot days, flooding of low-lying areas, increased shoreline erosion, and higher threats of catastrophic storm surge flooding even more severe than the flooding from Hurricane Sandy.

The complaint further alleges that the five companies are accountable for “over 11% of all the carbon and methane pollution from industrial sources that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.” De Blasio said during the presser that he wants the companies to cough up “billions of dollars to protect us against extreme weather and rising seas and fortify New York City against future storms.”

The mayor repeatedly cited Sandy as his justification for pursuing legal action: “Sandy was a tragedy that was wrought by the actions of the fossil fuel companies, let’s be clear here. That’s where it came from. If there were any deniers in New York City before Sandy, I don’t think there were any deniers after Sandy because it was abundantly clear what climate change was doing to this city.”

And lest anyone suggest either Mother Nature or the Big Guy Upstairs had more to do with Sandy than a handful of oil companies, de Blasio quickly crushed those heretics: “Sandy might have been seen as an act of God, but let’s be clear. It didn’t happen by accident.” The mayor was joined by climate propagandists Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, who called the move “a collective victory for the amazing climate justice movement around the world and in this city.” De Blasio is also directing the city’s five pension funds to divest roughly $5 billion in fossil fuel assets by the end of 2022, following a similar diktat announced late last year by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Celebrity climate-activists cheered the news. Leonardo DiCaprio congratulated New York for being the first big city to sue and divest from Big Oil. Mark Ruffalo thanked de Blasio for his leadership then tweeted this:

To celebrate his own bravery, de Blasio had the lights atop the Empire State Building shine green. (Pause to soak in all the hypocrisy.)

Well, I hate to spoil this back-patting party with a little science, but let’s break this down, shall we?

First, there is no overwhelming body of scientific evidence to support de Blasio’s accusation that Sandy was caused by man-made climate change. While some researchers insist the intensity of the storm might have been exacerbated by global warming (and much of it is vague hindcasting), there is no proof that human activity was responsible for the storm.

A summary by NOAA is equally ambiguous:

There is low scientific confidence that overall storminess has changed, however, it is likely that there has been a human-induced increase in coastal extreme sea level events due to overall sea level rise. Near Sandy’s landfall, sea level has risen over one foot since the mid-19 Century, mostly (but not solely) due to the increase in volume of the ocean attributable to its warming resulting from climate change.

What about those “rapidly increasing” temperatures? According to the 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the estimated rise in New York City’s temperature has been less than 1 degree Celcius between 1901 to 2012. A separate study from the New York City Panel on Climate Change in 2015 showed essentially no temperature rise between the late 1990s and early 2010s (consistent with the observed “pause” in global warming.) It also found a one-inch per decade rise in the city’s sea level since 1900.

And, I hate to point out the obvious here, but no more Sandys have hit New York City since 2012. If extreme storms are what to “expect” from man-made climate change, shouldn’t they occur more than once every several years? Before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the mainland last year, the United States had just enjoyed a 12-year drought in major hurricane activity. Not exactly the kind of dire weather pattern the de Blasio climate claque wants us to believe.

You also don’t have to look much further into the past than say, oh, last week, to see that fossil fuels save lives. Millions of them. Natural gas use—and prices—hit all-time highs last week in the Northeast as freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions pounded the area. It is not overreach or hyperbole to say that millions of people living in those states would have died from hypothermia but for fossil fuel availability.

Natural gas is by far New York’s largest source of electricity, with renewables (including biomass) providing about 25 percent of the state’s energy. But the extreme cold also resulted in a record-drop in natural gas reserves, according to report out today by Bloomberg News; residents bracing for another blizzard later this week should hope and pray those five evil fossil fuel companies replenish their inventory real quick.

OK, all scientific nit-picking aside, if this is so serious, why stop at a toothless lawsuit and some minor stock-trading? De Blasio filed the lawsuit to show “how we…eight and a half million strong….will no longer participate in a system that endangers our very own people. It’s time to do something different in New York City, isn’t it? We are going after those who profit. And what a horrible, disgusting way to profit, the way this puts so many people’s lives in danger.” De Blasio said it’s time for New Yorkers to lead the fight against climate change “as if our lives depend on it, because they do.”

Since climate change poses a bigger risk to the future of New Yorkers than say, a terrorist attack or disease outbreak or just the fact they live in that city, shouldn’t these tough talkers do more than talk? I realize it’s a little juvenile to just say, “Stop using fossil fuels if you’re so damn worried about it!” so let’s get a little more specific:

  • Both de Blasio and Cuomo should immediately surrender their motorcades and curtail any air travel. Since they still need to travel around the city and state, at least be eco-wise and use public transportation. (Walking to Davos next week really isn’t an option as far as I can tell.)
  • Shutter LaGuardia and JFK airports. Since the transportation sector is one of the top users of energy in the state, this seems like a logical move to stop all the death-by-fossil-fuels.
  • Close down all filling stations in New York City that are supplied by the Evil Five. After all, they are just the dealers who, as de Blasio said, have “spent a lot of time hooking society on that lethal product.” Cut off the supply to the addicted users and, voila, problem solved.
  • Build more wind farms, require residential and commercial owners to install solar systems: Wind power only supplies about three percent of the state’s total energy, and there are no major wind farms in New York City. Time to level some neighborhoods and make room for wind turbines to replace gas and oil resources. Same with solar. It only costs between $20,000 to $50,000 to install solar panels on a single-panel home, and surely all those corporations getting big tax breaks from Congress this year can finally afford solar systems. A small price to pay to save lives from rising sea levels.

If New Yorkers really want to “do something different” to stave off a death sentence, then execute the executor. That, as de Blasio said, would show how New York is indeed a “beacon to the world.”

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America • Environment • Post • The Left

Winter Weather Climate Spin Contradicts Science

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Climate-change spinmeisters have been in overdrive since late December, hustling to explain how this spate of treacherous, winter weather is all due to global warming…just like they told us. (No doubt, the next thaw or blizzard will be mankind’s fault, too.) But their avowals mostly contradict scientific fact—including facts they have affirmed in reports they helped write themselves—not to mention current weather trends.

On January 4, as a “bomb cyclone” savaged the eastern seaboard, Al Gore tweeted this:


Gore, who oddly didn’t include clips of massive snowstorms and record-breaking cold temperatures in his films or paid lectures about global warming, linked to an article written by Michael Mann, a Penn State University scientist, author of the infamous “hockey stick” graph, and the media’s favorite climate mouthpiece.

In his customary, humble fashion, Mann appropriates the two-week stretch of brutal weather as evidence of exactly what he’s been saying all along: “Listening to climate contrarians like President Donald Trump, you might think this constitutes the death knell for concern over human-caused climate change. Yet, what we were witnessing play out is in fact very much consistent with our expectations of the response of weather dynamics to human-caused climate change.” The professor then throws in some maps and graphs to purportedly boost his claim, and concludes with, “so, to the climate change doubters and deniers out there, the unusual weather we’re seeing this winter is in no way evidence against climate change. It is an example of precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.”

Gore and Mann aren’t the only climate propagandists who tried to convince a shivering, iced-over, snowed-in public that this deep freeze is proof of anthropogenic global warming. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University (and owner of a climate consulting firm that advises her clients to “plan to deal with climate change and its impacts today and tomorrow”) claims massive amounts of lake-effect snow, such as the record-breaking dump in Erie, PA over Christmas, is caused by a warming world: “If the Great Lakes aren’t frozen, when cold winter weather systems sweep across the lakes, the air warms and becomes more humid.” Hayhoe posted this chart, which was supposed to make her case but confuses her point by failing to demonstrate a long-term pattern in Great Lakes ice coverage:

She further said NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) had projected “very low Great Lakes ice coverage for this year.” Mann supported Hayhoe’s view, writing that “global warming is leading to later freeze-up of the Great Lakes and warmer lake temperatures.”

So, despite all this climate puffery, what does the actual evidence say? Let’s first compare their arguments with the most recent National Climate Assessment (NCA), a quadrennial report released by the White House in November. (All the work was conducted under the Obama administration.) Hayhoe was a lead author of this 477-page report, which lists four key findings to bolster manmade climate change. One finding suggests that, “extreme temperatures in the contiguous United States are projected to increase even more than average temperatures. The temperatures of extremely cold days and extremely warm days are both expected to increase. Cold waves are projected to become less intense while heat waves will become more intense. The number of days below freezing is projected to decline while the number above 90°F will rise.” So, “bitter cold” is not what we should expect from the “climate crisis.”

The NCA is also pretty ambiguous about other weather patterns. Concerning the lake-effect snow that Hayhoe attributes to global warming, the report concluded that, “lake effect snowfall has increased overall since the early 20th century for Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Erie. However, individual studies for Lakes Michigan and Ontario indicate that this increase has not been continuous. In both cases, upward trends were observed until the 1970s/early 1980s. Since then, however, lake effect snowfall has decreased in these regions.” Fair to call this a mixed bag.

What about the claims by Gore and Mann that this extreme winter weather is exactly what we should expect from climate change? The NCA doesn’t support that view: “Some storm types such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms are also exhibiting changes that have been linked to climate change, although the current state of the science does not yet permit detailed understanding.” It also refuted the oft-cited connection between a warming Arctic and worsening winter storms here: “Potential linkages between the frequency and intensity of severe winter storms in the United States and accelerated warming in the Arctic have been postulated, but they are complex, and, to some extent, contested, and confidence in the connection is currently low.”

And no sooner did Hayhoe and Mann warn about low ice coverage for the Great Lakes this season than updated models started to show the rapid pace at which these lakes are now freezing over. On December 26, the day Hayhoe tweeted about lake effect snow, the total ice coverage across the Great Lakes was nearly seven percent; by January 6, that figure jumped to 30 percent, exceeding NOAAs projections for the entire season. Lake Erie is almost completely frozen over at one of the earliest dates on record. (NOAAs seasonal forecast for ice coverage of Lake Erie is 82 percent.) Hayhoe, who describes climate scientists like herself as “physicians of the planet,” just made a major misdiagnosis.

The further irony is that, despite the conflicting claims and evidence, the climate propagandists’ solution to human-caused global warming is to curb the use of the very energy sources that are, in fact, preventing millions of people from freezing to death. Natural gas use hit an all-time high last week as half the nation struggled to keep warm, and prices soared. Just days before New Yorkers were pummeled by snow and cold, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to divest the state’s retirement plans from fossil fuel companies, calling them “the energy economy of the past.” OK.

All this hypocrisy and chicanery by climate peddlers isn’t going unnoticed by the public. “The popularizing of hand-wavy talking points does little to advance science and instead evokes laughter from many in the public, including President Trump,” Ryan Maue, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Science, told me. “The compulsion of activists to link every weather event with climate change, regardless of established science, lessens the credibility of well-meaning scientists who are often stuck defending nonsense.”

Perhaps it’s time for those scientists to speak-up before the entire field becomes a laughingstock.

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America • Cities • Donald Trump • Economy • Environment • Infrastructure • Post • Trade

On the Road Again: Fixing America’s Infrastructure

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There is no road ahead for America without the roadways of America: the literal highways that form our Interstate Highway System. Those highways are the great achievement of President Eisenhower and a chance for our current president to achieve greatness in his own right. Repairing those highways would be a stroke of genius by President Trump.

These highways run longer than any river or railroad. They traverse the country with almost twice the mileage of the circumference of the earth—and they will collapse into the earth, bigger than the biggest sinkhole in history, unless we undertake one of the biggest military missions in history.

This is a military mission because the Interstate Highway System is the result of Eisenhower’s insistence on defending the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was then, and is now, an inseparable part of our personal freedom and our national independence; because a country that does not know itself cannot begin to protect itself, not when it allows that which connects the country to secede from the States through neglect and mismanagement. The preservation of that highway system echoes not from the road, but from the rostrum, where President Trump said: “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.”

Those roads are wonderful things. They never cease to attract the attention of adventurers even after the adventure ceases; as the roads do cease, when they merge elsewhere or end where there is nowhere else to go, while the journey continues—the cause endures on the page and on the stage—introducing us to characters as romantic as any riverboat captain and as solemn as any solitary man.

The story thrives on the radio, where the needle on the AM dial receives the voice of a journeyman of the airwaves; the DJ and raconteur who, between changing records and breaking for a word from his sponsors, tells hour-long tales that last for many more hours, in the hearts and minds of listeners, as the miles pass and the hours go by.

This fabulist has no script, which makes his performance all the more impressive, since there is an epic quality to the way he talks. He is a monologist who uses his studio as a campfire, making the radio panel glow wherever the signal reaches a driver; wherever that signal fills the interior of a car with the sound of everyone’s favorite uncle, of the narrator of a series of stories about family trips gone awry and holidays gone haywire, where the host’s “old man” does battle with a variety of foes, from a blasted basement furnace to a pack of mongrel dogs.

His talk entertains us, while talk radio engages us. Both are products of the highway, because there is no Rush (Limbaugh) without rush hour. There is no talk, period, without that ribbon of highway and that endless skyway. This land is not your land—this land is not our land—without the Interstate Highway System that was made for you and me.

This land is no land, then, for scenes about ingénues and ennui. Nor is it the place for an actress who wants to feel the rhythm of the fast lane and ride the rapids of the freeway. Not unless she plans to play a soldier or spy who races through the streets of Baghdad or Basra, where she dodges rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire, while she drives from some pockmarked shell of an apartment building to a safe house on the outskirts of town. Not unless her car has the shocks of a monster truck, because our highways can inflict as much damage as any improvised explosive device.

President Eisenhower would not recognize these highways, were he alive today, because he would sooner diagnose himself with battle fatigue than accept this attack on his legacy. He would not be wrong to think so, given the transformation of America from the landscape of the victor into the homeland of the vanquished.

This assault from within threatens our physical safety and our fiscal solvency. It forces drivers to turn around, while local businesses see no turnaround in sight. It proves the obvious; that a nation cannot be great if its infrastructure is in gruesome shape; that an external blight can worsen into an economic burden; that an internal crisis can become a source of international condemnation.

We ruin the greatness of America when we run roughshod over the legends of America. When we turn the dream of the open road into a nightmare of road closures and foreclosure signs. When the freedom to drive anywhere yields to the fear of never leaving our driveways. We become, in a way, less American.

The hope of a better road ahead must sustain us, provided we uphold the promise to restore our most important roads. Those roads are the lifeblood of the last best hope of earth. They link the beauty of America with the bounty of America, from sea to shining sea.

It would be a disgrace to let those roads deteriorate further. It is a disgrace to have permitted the slow undoing of those roads, year after year, until all the hopes of future years depend on what we do this year.

Good, in this respect, is not good enough. Not when the price of greatness is responsibility. Not when it is our responsibility to make America great again.

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America • Big Media • Donald Trump • Energy • Environment • Government Reform • Post • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Deep Freeze Ends a Dreadful 2017 for Climate Activists

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It’s been a bad year for global warming propagandists, but fear not: Here comes a polar vortex to make it worse for them.

The unrelenting Arctic blast arrived on Christmas Eve and it remains the holiday houseguest from Hell that won’t leave: Record-breaking cold and snowfall are tormenting the eastern half of the country, and it’s only going to get worse. Weather models predict Americans will ring in the New Year while shivering under the lowest temperatures in 70 years, and the first day of 2018 could set record lows everywhere east of the Rockies.

Folks are being warned about the health risks associated with sub-zero temperatures, which could last beyond the first week of the year and stretch as far south as east Texas. It’s even too cold for the most intrepid thrill-seekers: Cities are canceling the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day due to inhumane air and water temperatures.

It marks a frustrating end to a dreadful year for climate-change activists, who have been frozen out of the Trump Administration. After Trump’s election, environmentalists prophesied the end times, labeling the president and his advisors “anti-science” and bracing for catastrophe. Climate scientists and bureaucrats at scientific agencies reached out for counseling, seeking ways to cope with life under the Trump regime; many have resigned “in disgust.”

But for once, the climate crowd’s “dire” predictions came true. Our “Denier-in-Chief” wasted no time dismantling Obama’s climate change legacy by appointing climate skeptics to fill top cabinet posts, exiting the Paris Climate Accord, repealing the Clean Power Plan, scrubbing government websites of climate change references, and promoting American fossil-fuel use abroad. If this wasn’t bad enough for them, now the climate crowd is trying incoherently to explain to frigid Americans—who are muttering “global warming, my ass” under their double-wrapped scarves—how this frigid weather is actually caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Never one to miss an opportunity to incite his foes, President Trump sent out this tweet Thursday night:

(Meteorologist Ryan Maue compiled an amusing list of Trump tweets that mock global warming.)

Trump’s tweet—one of his most popular social-media missives of the year—did exactly what he wanted it to do: Torch the mob.

Reporters, politicians, and environmentalists exploded with rage, ridiculing Trump for not understanding the difference between “weather” and “climate.” Keep in mind, this doublespeak is from the same armchair climate experts who blamed every destructive weather event this year—from hurricanes to wildfires to droughts—on anthropogenic global warming. Now, they are hand-waving away the most brutal cold snap in decades as nothing more than a normal appearance by Old Man Winter.

On Friday morning, the Weather Channel posted a world map, purporting to show how North America is an anomaly in an otherwise toasty world, and trolled the president by claiming “there is a difference between weather and climate. Short-term cold snaps will continue to occur in a warming world.” (The map was widely shared on social media, yet failed to make a convincing case that warming is significantly and uniformly impacting the planet right now: in fact, the map showed virtually no temperature change in the southern hemisphere and the tropics, and steep temperature drops in North America. Far from the “global warming” climatologists have tried to convince us is happening.)

An accompanying article warned that “a single weather event like a heat wave cannot be linked to climate, but long-term trends are better indicators of a changing climate.” This is the same weather site that posted numerous articles linking 2017’s extreme weather events to climate change, including this article that claimed winters will become “shorter and warmer.”

The New York Times, which has an entire section devoted to climate change news and often searches for the thinnest reed to connect some human tragedy to manmade climate change, scoffed that Trump appears “unaware of the distinction between weather and climate.” Science blogger Phil Plait tweeted that Trump would “literally fail grade school science. He doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate.”

But the climate propagandists can’t quite get their spin together. Is the deep freeze just weather, or is it due to climate change?

The always-charming Chelsea Handler called Trump a “dumbass” and claimed “global warming doesn’t only mean extreme heat; it means extreme weather. Hot and cold.” One climate scientist quoted in USA Today said the frigidity proves climate change is real: “We can still expect periods of very cold temperatures, snowstorms, and even days of record low temperatures,” the University of California’s Zack Labe told the paper. “However, climate change continues to shift the odds towards more periods of warmer weather and less so for colder weather.” Huh?

The Environmental Defense Fund offered its explainer on how record snowfall is evidence of global warming. “It may seem counterintuitive, but more snowfall during winter storms is an expected outcome of climate change. That’s because a warmer planet is evaporating more water into the atmosphere. That added moisture means more precipitation in the form of heavy snowfall or downpours.”

Talk about covering all your bases. EDF also took the common route of climate propagandists: don’t believe your lying eyes. It only feels colder. “Winters in the U.S. have warmed a lot since the 1970s—making what used to be a typical winter feel even more frigid nowadays.” Just remember that when your eyelids are frozen shut next week.

This mess of unscientific, emotional rants by the climate change crowd is typical of how it responds to any challenge to its dogma: Detractors are belittled, goal posts are moved, reversals on previous views are accepted without question. The scientifically-illiterate media plays along, rarely stopping to examine evidence or challenge glaring hypocrisies.

There is also a chance this cold snap portends a global cooling period that some scientists now predict. If that happens, we might all be huddled near the furnace, wondering why we ever feared global warming in the first place.

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America • China • Donald Trump • Education • Energy • Environment • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Post • Technology • The Left • Trade • Trump White House

Does Trump Threaten Science? Part 3

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On December 7, the American Association of University Professors issued a thirteen-page statement, “National Security, the Assault on Science, and Academic Freedom,” that attacked President Trump in particular and conservatives in general as “anti-science.” In Part I of this three-part essay, I gave the historical background to the popular leftist attack on conservatives for their “anti-science.” In Part II, I showed that both left and right sometimes act on non-scientific grounds to forestall valid research and scientifically sound applications. “Anti-science” sounds bad, but the term is just a polemical way of phrasing the recognition that science can’t always be left to itself to decide what to do. Other principles of a moral and intellectual nature must sometimes supervene, to prevent, for example, heedless forms of human experimentation. Bringing these principles to bear inevitably involves political action, and in that sense the politicization of science isn’t always bad. It depends on the principles—and the politics.

In Part III, we will look at exactly what principles and politics the AAUP has in mind in its attack on Trump.

China

Nearly half of the AAUP’s report, “National Security, the Assault on Science, and Academic Freedom,” deals with the supposed threat to science posed by the U.S. Government’s efforts to protect national secrets from leaking to hostile foreign governments. At the center of this is U.S. concern about China, and Chinese researchers in America inappropriately sharing research with colleagues in China. One of the co-authors, Temple University physics professor Xiaoxing Xi, was arrested May 21, 2015 on charges that he had disclosed a device called a “pocket heater” to Chinese colleagues. The pocket heater is a patented technology for making “thin films of the superconductor magnesium diboride.” The charges were eventually dropped and Xi is now suing for “malicious prosecution.”

The report cites other researchers likewise charged with stealing secrets or otherwise passing inappropriate information to China, including Wen Ho Lee, Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Xianfen Chen, Yudonng Zhu, and Allen Ho. The charges in most of the cases were dropped or ended in minimal findings. Anyone who has followed the cases closely, however, knows that charges get dropped in spy cases for lots of reasons. After the Justice Department dropped the case against Wen Ho Lee, FBI Director Louis Freeh told the Senate Judiciary and Select Intelligence Committees that “each and every one of the 59 counts in the indictment” could be proven, but a trial “posed serious obstacles to proving the facts without revealing nuclear secrets in open courts.”

The legal presumption of innocence, in other words, has to be taken with a grain of salt, at least in some of these cases. Prosecuting spies is extremely difficult. I’m not quite so ready as the AAUP to consider the U.S. counter-intelligence as comprised of bumbling xenophobic fools, haplessly undermining the legitimate international exchange of ideas.

The AAUP has been unfriendly to national security concerns for some time. In an earlier report, Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis (2003), the AAUP observed, “secrecy, an inescapable element of classified research, is fundamentally incompatible with freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression.” That report was issued during the period in which the American Left was recovering from its temporary fit of patriotism in the wake of 9-11 and was finding its new path of anti-American rhetoric. “Still vivid memories of the McCarthy era” show up in the first paragraph, and soon comes the turn to “the premise that freedom of inquiry and the open exchange of ideas are crucial to the nation’s security.”

Most of us would think that a balance can be struck between keeping some matters secret and fostering the free exchange of ideas on everything else, but the AAUP in 2003 was skeptical. It said the Patriot Act shifted “the balance ominously between freedom and security,” and generally recommended that the “threat of terrorism” be met with a redoubled commitment to “the vital and durable values of academic freedom and free inquiry.” How exactly this would deter terrorists wasn’t clear. The AAUP was much more concerned with the any restrictions that might fall on the flow of foreign students and scholars into American universities.

The new (2017) AAUP report reprises the 2003 report while shifting the focus from Middle East terrorists to China. This is accompanied by the usual warnings that the U.S, is falling behind in expenditures on basic research and that science itself is now thoroughly an international enterprise. Obstacles to exchange inevitably mean that the U.S. loses ground.

Trump

In the opening sentence of the new report, the grim specter of Donald Trump is evoked, by way of his administration’s “hostility to science.” That hostility has “exacerbated already troubling threats,” and the report nominates “Chinese or Chinese American scientists [who] have been targeted” as one such threat, and “climate change deniers” as the other. “Vicious attempts to discredit [climate science’s] validity” have “intensified since Donald Trump took office.”

The report then “illustrates the nature of the attacks” with two anecdotes. One is Xiaoxing Xi’s arrest; the other is Michael Mann receiving an envelope of corn starch that could have been anthrax. Xi’s arrest in 2015 and Mann’s encounter with cornstarch in 2010 would seem a bit distant from the malign effects of Donald Trump’s election, but no matter. Trump apparently embodies both the spirit of aggressive law enforcement and malicious harassment. For sure, President Trump through his executive orders has sought to restrict certain kinds of immigration to the U.S., and his appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA has given a voice to those who are skeptical about some of the extreme versions of man-made catastrophic global warming. Pruitt has ended the system of circular review whereby the EPA called on the same people who advocated a proposal to review it. The dismissal of committee members engaged in this sort of thing has shocked the global warming community, which had grown pretty comfortable in finding all its biases routinely and uncritically endorsed by the supposed authorities.

But does any of this really threaten academic freedom or national security?

The AAUP report matches what Mann himself would say about global warming. Whether he drafted this section is unclear, but it comes complete with the sneers typical of Mann’s writing. A skeptic is characterized as a “climate change denier.” Major discrepancies in climate change reports are noted as “swiftly debunked.” And the larger picture is summarized as “The Trump administration is attempting to delegitimize science.” Mann’s presence on the AAUP committee is itself a strong signal that the report aims at something other than a robust defense of the sciences from the threat of ideological manipulation. He is a litigious figure known for stonewalling his critics and for having attracted much contemptuous dismissal from fellow scientists. Mark Steyn notably compiled a 300-page volume, “A Disgrace to the Profession,” consisting entirely of harsh criticisms of Mann’s work from scientists who have Ph.D.s.

Mann, like anyone else in public controversy, is entitled to his defenders, but it is odd to see the AAUP lend its credibility to his cause by appointing him to what amounts to his own jury.

Threats

The AAUP has constructed a box for itself in this report. On one hand, it would like to be a fearless champion of intellectual freedom. On the other hand, it would like to impose restrictions on what others can say. The AAUP’s attempted path out of this contradiction is to treat views that it dislikes as “threats.” Of course, no one condones actual threats under the rationale of intellectual freedom, but the idea of “threat” becomes elastic in the AAUP’s view of things:

“It is not only individuals who engage in such threatening activity. Well-funded and powerful interest groups have also sought to intimidate those conducting scientific research with which they disagree.”

The example the AAUP offers is the request by the attorney general of Virginia for the research records that support Michael Mann’s claim that he had discovered a rapid rise in global temperatures (the hockey stick) in the late decades of the twentieth century. His research is irreproducible in large part because other scientists don’t have access to a great deal of it. Secrecy in science is apparently a bad thing when pursued in the interests of national security, but a very good thing if pursued in the interest of keeping global warming data out of the hands of skeptics. The battle for this data and surrounding correspondence continues in courts, including an important case in Arizona involving Mann’s correspondence with two other climate scientists.

Those matters will eventually be settled under the law. But why are such disputes presented by the AAUP as examples of the sorts of “threats” that allow exceptions to intellectual freedom? The AAUP’s answer is that the attempts by others to get access to the material creates “the possibility of being faced with burdensome, harassing, and intrusive public records requests for internal research notes and emails, which could in turn discourage “open communication among researchers.”

Thus “academic freedom” in the hands of the AAUP’s Committee A has become a “heads I win, tails you lose” doctrine.  Heads, I should be free to share my research with Chinese colleagues or anyone else, free of the nuisances of U.S. Government security concerns. Tails, the American public has no right to see the research that underlies hugely expensive and far-reaching regulations if I decide not to disclose it.

The “Assault” on Science

The AAUP’s new report announces itself as addressing “the assault on science.” Science has been under assault in some form or another as long as it has existed. The AAUP’s definite article, the assault on science, is thus an overreach. The AAUP in this instance isn’t worried by assaults on science coming from identitarian groups demanding equity in science hiring, journal publication, or ideology. It isn’t worried by assaults on science resulting from the deterioration of academic standards. And it isn’t worried about assaults on science coming from people who uphold a vox populi idea of “consensus” as the arbiter of scientific truth.

Instead it is worried that the U.S. Government has tried to stem the flood of America’s most advanced defense-related research to China and other unfriendly foreign powers, and it is worried that the government is less willing to rubber stamp “climate change” research and is instead demanding independent review of such work. These two things have nothing really to do with academic freedom. The phrase seems to be thrown into the report merely to give the AAUP the opportunity to indulge some anti-Trump rhetoric and to continue the false narrative that conservatives are somehow anti-science.

People of all political persuasions can be “anti-science” if science gets in the way of their political visions and interests. Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, and even scientists themselves turn anti-science at moments. And some of those so-called anti-science moments are justified. Research has no conscience of its own. Science always needs ethical guidance. Dr. Frankenstein—or worse—is always waiting in the wings to perform unspeakable experiments. In that light, anti-science (or at least extra-science) is a corrective. It tells us what we ought not to do. When anti-science speaks, we have to weigh its arguments with care.

Science properly pursued sets rigorous, testable hypotheses. It regards all theories as open to question and revision. It worries about contradictions between otherwise well-tested theories, such as the famous incompatibility between relativity and quantum theory. Some scientists long for a “complete” science in which some version of universal determinism is upheld, but that wish is not itself scientific. Real science is open-ended.

In that light, accusing the other side of an argument as “anti-science” ought to be dismissed as cheap rhetoric. The academic left’s version of this, whether it is launched at conservatives in general or President Trump in particular, just lowers the level of intellectual debate. We can do better. And the AAUP in its eagerness to tag Trump as anti-science has just blundered rather badly.

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America • Asia • China • Congress • Economy • Energy • Environment • EU • Europe • Greatness Agenda • Post • Trade

Why Carbon Taxes Actually Increase Global Emissions

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As the hysteria over global warming heats up, carbon taxes have become the “cool” option. Environmentalists love them. So do politicians, who are more than happy to raise taxes while scoring political points.

Carbon taxes, or other analogous pricing schemes, are now prevalent in Western Europe, and are making headway in North America. For example, California recently joined forces with the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec to create an integrated cap-and-trade carbon market.

On top of this, many well-known economists support carbon taxes, thinking they’re the best way to mitigate man’s contribution to climate change. A relatively new report written by thirteen leading economists under the direction of professors Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz—who won a Nobel Prize in 2001—recommends the adoption of a global carbon tax. The tax would value carbon emissions somewhere between 50 and 100 USD per ton by 2030, and would cost upwards of $4 trillion. Theoretically, the tax would raise the cost of using carbon-intensive sources of energy, thereby nudging producers to switch from fossil fuels to “green energy” sources like wind and solar power. Likewise, it would raise the cost of electricity, thus creating an incentive to use energy more efficiently.

As an abstract principle of theory, this seems to make sense. There’s just one problem. It won’t work.

In reality, carbon taxes are just that: taxes. They’re a money-grab dressed up with good intentions. Worse still, carbon taxes will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, adopting carbon taxes in the West will actually raise global carbon emissions by offshoring economic activity from relatively environmentally-friendly places, like the USA and Germany, to places with lax environmental laws, like China.

Open Markets & Offshoring

Wealth is like water: it flows to the lowest possible point, and continues to do so until the level is equal. This is why consumers chase cheaper goods, why investors look for undervalued companies, and why multinationals offshore to cheaper markets. This last point—offshoring—is why Western carbon taxes will actually increase global emissions.

The underlying logic is fairly straightforward. Pretend there are only two countries in the world: Germany and China. The cost of doing business in them is identical, however China’s economy is twice as carbon-intensive as Germany’s. In other words, it costs $1 to build a widget in either country, but the widget’s carbon footprint in Germany is only 1 kilogram of carbon, compared to 2 kilograms in China. Clearly it’s better for the environment if widgets are made in Germany.

But Germany’s not satisfied: they want to further reduce their carbon emissions. Therefore, they impose a carbon tax of 10 percent per widget. This raises the cost of making widgets in Germany to $1.10. Ideally, German widget-makers will invest in energy-efficient machinery, and the government can use the tax revenues to plant more trees.

Sadly Germany’s politicians forgot something: Germany is an open market. This means that German consumers can simply buy Chinese widgets—which still only cost $1 to make. At this point, Germany’s widget-makers have two options: (1) they can foreclose, since they’re unable to compete with artificially cheaper Chinese widgets, or (2) they can move their factories to China and import the widgets back into Germany. Either way, China ends up building enough widgets for both China and Germany, and Germany doubles its carbon emissions.

Now imagine what our example would look like if China built widgets for $0.1 rather than $1, and they generated three times as much emissions per widget of Germany, since this better reflects the reality. Would a carbon tax in Germany have a hope of reducing global emissions? No.

Evidence Suggests Carbon Taxes Will Increase Global CO2 Emissions

Not only does the logic show that carbon taxes in the West will invariably increase global CO2 emissions, but so does the empirical evidence.

To begin with, data from the World Bank reveals that China, and other developing countries, produce far more carbon per dollar of economic output (at purchasing power parity) than do Western nations. For example, China produced 0.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide per dollar of economic output in 2014, whereas America produced 0.3 kg of CO2, and Germany produced just 0.2 kg. On top of this, China shows no signs of decreasing its emissions any time soon: China’s currently building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants, which will ensure its CO2 emissions continue to rise for decades to come.

Taken together, these facts suggest that every factory pushed out of the West due to carbon taxes actually increases global emissions dramatically, and this will continue to be the case for decades to come. A number of other studies came to the same conclusion.

One important paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that carbon reductions alleged to the Kyoto Protocol were more than offset by increase emissions from imported products. Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research said this of the research:

Our study shows for the first time that emissions from increased production of internationally traded products have more than offset the emissions reductions achieved under the Kyoto Protocol … this suggests that the current focus on territorial emissions in a subset of countries may be ineffective at reducing global emissions without some mechanisms to monitor and report emissions from the production of imported goods and services.

Essentially, local carbon taxes are not a useful tool for mitigating a nation’s carbon footprint. If anything they actually raise global emissions. The paper also notes that China accounts for some 75 percent of the developed world’s offshored emissions.

Another study published in The Guardian, found that “50 percent of the rise in Chinese emissions are the result of goods for foreign markets.” This was echoed in a different study from the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, which found that cuts in carbon emissions by developed countries have been cancelled out “many times over” by increases in imported goods from developing countries—especially China.

Another study found that all of the trumpeted carbon reductions in places like Germany fall apart under closer scrutiny:

According to standard date, developed countries can claim to have reduced their collective emissions by almost 2% between 1990 and 2008. But once the carbon cost of imports have been added to each country, and exports subtracted—the true change has been an increase of 7%. If Russia and Ukrainewhich cut their CO2 emissions rapidly in the 1990s due to economic collapseare excluded, the rise is 12%.

These studies conclusively show that the offshoring of Western industry to China has actually increased global carbon emissions. It is unreasonable to assume that a carbon tax, which will further increase the incentive for business owners to offshore, will magically reduce global carbon emissions. There is no silver bullet. Carbon taxes are a pipe dream.

Carbon Taxes Won’t Reduce Global CO2 Emissions—Now What?

Carbon taxes will not reduce global carbon emissions—they’ll only make things worse. So what should we do? We should stop and put things in perspective. No matter your opinion on climate change, we should begin with the assertion that carbon dioxide is not a harmful chemical in the traditional sense of the word. It’s actually essential for all life on earth—plants need it to live.

The obsession with carbon emissions is allowing many real polluters to fly under the radar. For example, fertilizers and pesticides runoff from our farms is creating gigantic “dead zones” downstream. Algal blooms are choking out life a the mouths of major rivers throughout the world. Likewise, deforestation is (often unnecessarily) stripping the world of its most precious habitats.

These are real environmental problems that aren’t getting attention because carbon dioxide is so ardently demonized. It is high time we triaged the situation, and took care of real environmental concerns before investing billions in green schemes

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America • Center for American Greatness • Cities • Cultural Marxism • Economy • Energy • Environment • Infrastructure • Post • The Culture • The Leviathian State • The Media

Say ‘No’ to the Driverless Car—for Civilization’s Sake

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One of the hallmarks of the American experiment has been freedom of movement. Facing a vast, largely unoccupied continent, the pioneers headed west at the first opportunity, pushing the boundaries of first the colonies and then the new nation inexorably over the mountains, across the plains, past the mighty Rockies, and finally all the way to the Pacific.

James Fenimore Cooper gave this distinctly American ethos a memorable literary incarnation in the form of Natty Bumppo, the fictional hero of the Leatherstocking Tales—the most famous of which is The Last of the Mohicans, but whose titles also include The Pioneers and The Prairie.

Ever westward was Hawkeye’s motto, and Cooper’s novel both codified existing American sentiment and made it aspirational as well; whenever civilization in the form of Aunt Sally encroached, a Real American like Huck Finn simply lit out for the territory, as he does at the end of the first great American novel, Huckleberry Finn:

But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

But an American didn’t always have to go west in order to escape “sivilization” or even just to seek his fortune in wild and woolly places. Everybody knows the opening three words of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, but to really understand this greatest of all American novels, you need to know the first three paragraphs, the first of which includes this memorable declaration of belligerent American independence:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.

These days, Real Americans don’t much go to sea to relieve the damp, drizzly Novembers in our souls, but we do like to fire up the muscle Mustang or the F-150 truck with the gun rack and head out on the open road, following our noses and letting the trade winds blow us where they may.

Or at least we used to like it. But with the advent of the abomination known as the “self-driving car,” one of our most precious freedoms is now in jeopardy.

I mean, who asked for this? Communists? Women? (I know, same thing, voting-wise.) Sob sisters, pantywaists, geeks, pencil necks, and nancy boys? I suspect them all. It’s bad enough to climb into the cockpit of a new car these days and be confronted with a home entertainment center on wheels, complete with giant video screens that don’t do a damn thing electronically a 1934 Packard couldn’t do manually back in the day when men were men, women loved them for it, and we had the culture to prove it.

Now what? A “self-driving” car is an oxymoron, in the same way that “paying for a tax cut” is. Someone or something is going to be driving that car, and the whole point here is that it ain’t going to be you, brother.

For while you may at first think you are directing the destination of the vehicle, the fact is you’re a passenger in a computer-controlled mobile living-room whose every move is dictated by Big Brother, whether directly or remotely. It’s bad enough now, when the computers in your car can rat you out to highway checkpoints, and your Bluetooth-connected cell phone broadcasts your whereabouts to every law enforcement officer in the county.

But once the “self-driving” car juts its snout into the marketplace, and tries to drive out the you-driving cars, whom do you think is going to be calling the shots? In quick succession, say hello to the road-mileage tax and ever more vehicles on the roads, given that no one will have to qualify for a vision-tested or skills-tested drivers’ licenses anymore.

Be also prepared for restrictions on where and when you can be chauffeured around in robot-propelled comfort; which kinds of gasoline you may purchase, and when; and with whom you may someday be forced to share your vehicle as the cars are pre-programmed at the factory to respond to commands from elsewhere, including checking IDs. We used to want God to be our co-pilot; instead, we’re going to get Google.

So buy that car you’ve been fancying—you know, the one with a functioning steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes; the one that goes where you want it to, more or less—while you still can, because an unholy alliance of national-security TSA types, social justice warriors, and tech nerds are bound and determined to take it away from you. We can’t have folks mucking about inside of Fortress America, free to go when and where they please, without so much as a by-your-leave. From King of the Road to a sack of spuds, suitable for carting, in just a few postwar generations: welcome to the world of the Emasculated American Male.

What could possibly go wrong with a technological marvel like this? Edgar Rice Burroughs told us in Thuvia, Maid of Mars:

He had been but testing an invention of his own with which his flier was equipped—a clever improvement of the ordinary Martian air compass, which, when set for a certain destination, will remain constantly fixed thereon, making it only necessary to keep a vessel’s prow always in the direction of the compass needle to reach any given point upon Barsoom by the shortest route.

Carthoris’ improvement upon this consisted of an auxiliary device which steered the craft mechanically in the direction of the compass, and upon arrival directly over the point for which the compass was set, brought the craft to a standstill and lowered it, also automatically, to the ground . . .

“In aggravated cases, that is when the obstructions are many, or of such a nature as to deflect the bow more than forty-five degrees in any direction, or when the craft has reached its destination and dropped to within a hundred yards of the ground, the mechanism brings her to a full stop, at the same time sounding a loud alarm which will instantly awaken the pilot. You see I have anticipated almost every contingency.”

The forward servant pushed almost to the flier’s side. His eyes were narrowed to slits. “All but one,” he said. “Come,” urged the Prince of Helium. “Speak!” The man hesitated. It was evident that he regretted the temerity that had made him the centre of interested observation. But at last, seeing no alternative, he spoke.

“It might be tampered with,” he said, “by an enemy.”

So just in case you think things can’t get any worse, think again: “Airbus is looking towards a future of pilotless planes.”

We’ve seen this movie before, and we all know how it ended.

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America • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Energy • Environment • Post • Technology • The Culture • The Left

The Suicidal Narrative of the Modern Environmental Left

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Should you ever doubt the importance of the “narrative” to the modern Left, all you need to do is look around you. It’s the in the air we breathe, and the water in which we swim, attached to the products we buy and behind just about every news story we read or see. At every turn, we are admonished, hectored, harangued to get with the cultural-Marxist program.

On a plane recently, the attendants handed out complimentary dark chocolates. The brand? Something called Endangered Species Chocolate, a company that bills its products as “the first ever chocolate bars made in America from Fairtrade certified West African cocoa beans that can be fully traced from farm to chocolate bar. ESC has committed that only fully traceable cocoa beans sustainably grown and harvested under Fairtrade standards will be used to make their chocolate.”

In case, like me, you had no idea fluffy chocolate bunnies were an endangered species, or that a guilty nibble at a Hershey bar could lay waste to vast stretches of the veldt, the company offers this helpful explanation:

The cocoa used by ESC is grown by West African farmers who follow rigorous standards for protection of workers’ rights and the environment. When a customer purchases ESC’s Fairtrade certified bars, West African farmers earn a fair price and an additional Fairtrade social premium to invest in business and community projects such as improving education and healthcare, protecting their environment and improving their economic well-being.

Who could be against that? Westerners from Dickens’ Mrs. Jellyby on have sought to improve the plight of sub-Saharan Africans, but this statement of virtue-signaling posits that West African farmers are currently not getting a fair price for their cocoa beans; in our mind’s eye, we picture some nasty Belgian—call him Mr. Kurtz—terrorizing the natives from his Congolese redoubt.

Similarly, on a recent trip to the health-food store I bought a bag of moringa, a currently voguish “superfood” of powdered plant protein. Yum. It’s made by Kuli Kuli (which, like Endangered Species Chocolate, sports a nurturing “green” logo). Here’s what the packaging has to say:

Once eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, moringa leaves have been used in traditional medicine for many centuries… our moringa is sustainably sourced from women’s cooperatives in West Africa, where we work to improve nutrition and livelihoods. Nourishing you, nourishing the world.

If it was good enough for Sophocles and Marcus Aurelius, it’s good enough for me. But that bit about the women’s cooperatives is a masterstroke—hey, West Africa is just like Park Slope in Brooklyn, only sunnier! You can practically see the West African women, relaxing after a hard day harvesting moringa leaves, sipping a sustainable latte and reading the New York Times, and perhaps helping to save the planet themselves with a delicious bite of Endangered Species Chocolate.

It’s all just advertising, of course, and thus harmless enough. It also goes to reinforcing the narrative: that selfish man is the cause of species endangerment, that primitive societies are superior to developed ones (but then who would buy the locally sourced cocoa beans and moringa leaves?), and that traditional medicine—which is to say, no medicine at all—is somehow superior to what those pill-pushing quacks foist on you before they climb in their BMWs and head out to the links for a round or two of golf. Were that true, the ancient Greeks and Romans might all have lived into their 80s, instead of dying in their 20s and 30s, as unsustainable folks tended to do back then.

Which brings us, ineluctably, to “climate change” and this piece in the Times: “The More Education Republicans Have, the Less They Tend to Believe in Climate Change.”

Yes, you read that right.

An exhaustive scientific report unveiled this month concluded that the earth is experiencing the warmest period in recorded history and that humans are the dominant cause of the temperature rise observed since the mid-20th century. That consensus does not extend to the American public. Climate change divides Americans, but in an unlikely way: The more education that Democrats and Republicans have, the more their beliefs in climate change diverge.

About one in four Republicans with only a high school education said they worried about climate change a great deal. But among college-educated Republicans, that figure decreases, sharply, to 8 percent.

This may seem counterintuitive, because better-educated Republicans are more likely to be aware of the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change. But in the realm of public opinion, climate change isn’t really a scientific issue. It’s a political one.

You’re darn right it is. The author’s underlying assumption is that the more you know about “man-made climate change,” the more eager you should be to chow down on Endangered Species Chocolate or shovel some women’s-collective moringa into your smoothie before you leave your ant-farm apartment to hop on the mass-transit system on your way to a day job that somehow involves you, personally, saving the planet—not so much by what you do, but by what you don’t do.

But that’s not a future we on the Right want to embrace. I take this poll as a heartening sign that the more you educate yourself about the transparent fraud of “man-made climate change,” the less you’re likely to believe in their genteel fictions of peaceful, happy villages in Liberia or their apocalyptic notions of the End of the World as We Know It, just about any day now. As we’ve learned time and again, mountebanks and charlatans are always promising that the end of days is just around the corner, if only we will repent; find Jesus; join their cult; give away all our possessions; or at least sign up for a lifetime supply of snake oil, delivered by Amazon drones right to our doorsteps.

We’ve seen this movie before, of course. In April, Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute detailed 18 different instances when “[t]he prophets of doom were not simply wrong, but spectacularly wrong.”

Never mind that the Earth’s climate is always changing; we wouldn’t be here at all if it hadn’t. Never mind that there’s little humans can do to interfere with planetary processes, most of which are beyond our ken. Never mind that we flatter ourselves if we think so. Never mind that to characterize carbon dioxide—which we exhale so that the Amazon rain forest and those West African moringa plants might inhale—as a dangerous “greenhouse gas” is profoundly anti-human.

It’s what you’d expect from a political philosophy that denies God and sees itself as its own worst enemy: a narrative that must end in suicide, and all in the name of the greater good. All we ask our friends on the Left is not to take us with you.

 

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Congress • Economy • Environment • Post • self-government • Technology • The Leviathian State

How the Administrative State Serves Clients and Hurts Citizens: The Case of the Non-Organic, Organic Food

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The late economist and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman used to say that only in government, when a program or project fails dismally, the instinctive response is to make it bigger. This is especially the case in a modern Administrative State like the one we have in America today where a program alleged to serve the well-being of the public is most often proven to serve, in a big way, the interests of a large client of that administrative state.

We’re seeing Friedman’s observation validated yet again in the congressional response to an exposé of the pervasive dishonesty in the organic agriculture industry.

Following a scathing report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general that details fraud, mismanagement, and negligence throughout the global organic agriculture/food supply chain, Congress wants to throw yet more money at the problem.

Last month, Reps. John Faso (R-New York) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-New Mexico) introduced the “Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act.” It would nearly triple the budget of the USDA’s National Organic Program, which oversees the country’s organic standards and commerce. Faso said in a news release that the legislation will “provide for a modernization of organic import documentation, new technology advancements and stricter enforcement of organic products entering the US.”

The organic industry is cheering Faso’s bill; the Organic Trade Association says it “would make significant strides to improve the oversight of global organic trade, create a level playing field for American organic farmers, and establish a better system to ensure the integrity of organic.” Integrity of organic? Rubbish; it would only create a bigger fig-leaf.

When the organic designation was established in 2000, then-Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman emphasized its fundamental meaninglessness: “Let me be clear about one thing, the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.” The Faso-Grisham legislation is yet another special interest bonanza designed to further subsidize domestic organic farmers and enrich the bottom line of already hugely-profitable organic businesses.

Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration should oppose the legislation and, beyond that, demand explanations of the multiple violations revealed in the recent USDA inspector general’s report. After a year-long investigation, the Inspector General found serious breaches in the international organic market that may result in “reduced U.S. consumer confidence in the integrity of organic products imported into the United States.” Federal authorities failed to verify whether imports were organic, did not perform mandatory on-site visits of exporting countries and ignored requirements to resolve the different organic standards among exporters. Moreover, imported agricultural products, whether organic or conventional, are sometimes fumigated at U.S. ports of entry to prevent alien pests from entering the United States. USDA investigators found pesticides that are prohibited under organic protocols were being sprayed on organic shipments.

At every point in the supply chain, National Organic Program officials have been negligent, allowing the participants in this booming sector to mislead consumers into believing organic food is healthier, safer and more eco-friendly than non-organic food—none of which would be true even if there were strict adherence to organic standards.

The misrepresentation and chicanery in the supply chain aren’t new, and the feds have long been aware of that. For example, USDA reported in 2012 that 43 percent of the 571 samples of “organic” produce tested were in violation of the government’s organic regulations, and that “the findings suggest that some of the samples in violation were mislabeled conventional products, while others were organic products that hadn’t been adequately protected from prohibited pesticides.”

How does the organic industry get away with such a systematic hoax? A 2014 investigation by the Wall Street Journal of USDA inspection records from 2005 on found that 38 of the 81 certifying agents—entities accredited by USDA to inspect and certify organic farms and suppliers—“failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.” More specifically, “40% of these 81 certifiers have been flagged by the USDA for conducting incomplete inspections; 16% of certifiers failed to cite organic farms’ potential use of banned pesticides and antibiotics; and 5% failed to prevent potential commingling of organic and nonorganic products.”

Thus, organic consumers are paying a premium to buy organic foods, both domestic and imported, that aren’t organic at all. This is a scam of major proportions and would be receiving non-stop media coverage if it were occurring in any other food sector. (Imagine if such widespread and systematic fraud was uncovered in the fast-food or soft-drink industry.)

Meanwhile, the OTA and various astroturf “consumer” groups have diverted time and resources to defaming the tools of their competition—genetic engineering and state-of-the-art agricultural chemicals (which are not permitted in organic agriculture), in particular—rather than ensuring the integrity of their own sector.

Academics Review, a science-oriented nonprofit organization of academic experts, performed a review of hundreds of published research reports about consumers’ views of organic products generated between 1988 and 2014. Their analysis found that “consumers have spent hundreds of billion dollars purchasing premium-priced organic food products based on false or misleading perceptions about comparative product food safety, nutrition and health attributes,” and that this is due to “a widespread organic and natural products industry pattern of research-informed and intentionally deceptive marketing and paid advocacy.”

The bottom line is that organic agriculture is an unscientific, heavily subsidized, fraud-riddled marketing gimmick that misleads and rips off consumers. That is important because free markets don’t function efficiently when consumers are misinformed.

The old saying that you get what you pay for doesn’t apply when you buy overpriced organic products. That is what Congress should investigate instead of obligating millions more in tax dollars to line the pockets of the farmers and purveyors of organic products, real or fraudulent.

Despite the alarming findings, there has been little accountability for the fraud and mismanagement identified by USDA and media investigators. The National Organic Program, which is in the untenable, and arguably unethical, position of both regulating and promoting the organic industry, has only revoked the licenses of 11 organic vendors worldwide and collected a paltry $140,000 in fines during the past year. Miles McEvoy, the head of the NOP under President Obama, resigned just days before the USDA/Inspector General report was released, which is likely no coincidence.

The Senate Agriculture committee is investigating some of these issues, and during a hearing in July on global organic trade, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) observed: “It seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board and the regulations related to the National Organic Program.” The co-opted and incompetent NOP, which currently gets $160 million a year in appropriated funds, should be zeroed out.

The agriculture committee is expected to address some of these issues in next year’s Farm Bill. And while they’re at it, they should refer the organic industry’s pervasive fraudulent activities to the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission for investigation and prosecution.

 

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2016 Election • America • Donald Trump • Economy • Energy • Environment • Post • Russia • Technology

A Bigger Russian Threat: Disrupting U.S. Innovation

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Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, is experienced at employing surrogates and agents of various stripes and talents to further its agendas. The most recent example was a “trending topic” story on Facebook about the Las Vegas shooting published by Sputnik, a news agency controlled by the Russian government; the item claimed, inaccurately, that the FBI had found a connection between the shooter and Daesh, also known as ISIS.

An ongoing example is TV “news channel” station RT (formerly Russia Today), the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda arm, the mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda. Fake news is its stock in trade, as illustrated by its blatant disinformation attacks on the reporting of news by respected media outlets like the BBC.

In a report from the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, implicated RT in Russian hacking during last year’s presidential election. The report found that the network uses the internet and social media to conduct “strategic messaging for the Russian government” and that its programming is “aimed at undermining viewers’ trust of U.S. democratic procedures.”

Russia’s targets are not limited to politics. Dr. Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health has describes how RT subtly undermines the technology and economic growth of the United States. One example:

The report released by the Director of National Intelligence on Russia’s interference in the U.S. election concluded that RT is spouting anti-fracking propaganda as a way to undermine the natural gas industry in the United States. Why? Because fracking lowers the prices of fossil fuels, which severely harms Russia’s economy.

To underscore how seriously this is being taken by congressional leaders, on July 10 the House Science Committee sent this statement from Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to the Wall Street Journal’s “Best of the Web” column:

If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking. They have established an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda. This scheme may violate federal law and certainly distorts the U.S. energy market.

In addition, there is what a New York Times news article called “a particularly murky aspect of Russia’s influence strategy: freelance activists who promote its agenda abroad, but get their backing from Russian tycoons and others close to the Kremlin, not the Russian state itself.”

Russia’s targets are not limited to politics. Dr. Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health has describes how RT subtly undermines the technology and economic growth of the United States.

Genetic engineering in agriculture is another sector that holds intense interest for the Russians. Harkening back to the Lysenkoism catastrophe for Soviet agriculture in the Soviet Union, their research and development expertise in that area is virtually nil, and the government has a long-standing ban on genetically engineered organisms from abroad from entering the country, so the Russians have adopted a strategy of trying to inhibit its development elsewhere.

As Berezow pointed out:

RT has never been fond of GMOs [genetically modified organisms], which are largely the result of American innovation. In a 2015 article, RT reported on Russia’s decision to ban GMO food production in Russia. Tellingly, one of the protesters shown in the report is holding a sign that reads, “Goodbye America!” The anti-GMO stance is not based on science or health concerns; instead, it’s based entirely on hurting U.S. agricultural companies.

And that brings us to the United States and its home-grown anti-genetic engineering movement, which is well-coordinated and well-financed. It’s unclear whether anti-GMO activists are directly supported by Russia; it may simply be that, as one of my colleagues, a prominent Russia expert, speculated, “Whatever stirs up trouble in the U.S., Russia is ready to help make it worse.”

This syllogism explains the synergistic strategy of all the bad-actors, here and abroad:

  • the United States is by far the world’s leader in both the development and cultivation of genetically engineered plants;
  • genetic engineering applied to agriculture is the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in history;
  • organic agriculture strictly bans genetically engineered plants;
  • recent advances in genetically engineered plants–higher yields, pest- and disease resistance, drought- and flood-tolerance, improvements in sustainability, traits with appeal to consumers, etc.–are making conventional (i.e., non-organic) agriculture ever-more efficient and superior to organic’s pathetic performance;
  • there is virtually no development or cultivation of genetically engineered plants in Russia;
  • therefore, genetic engineering must be prevented from expanding and succeeding elsewhere.

An example of the lengths to which Russian trolling in the United States will go to discredit genetic engineering was a wire-service story claiming that Melania Trump has banned genetically engineered foods from the White House and favors organic products. It appeared May 30 on Your News Wire, which is widely considered to be a fake news source linked to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential elections. The author of the article, “Baxter Dmitry,” had previously penned articles alleging, among other things, “Sweden Bans Mandatory Vaccinations Over ‘Serious Health Concerns’” (untrue); and the arrest for “treason” of a “former Hillary Clinton employee” (also untrue).   

Moreover, much of the Melania Trump article, including some of the quotes attributed to the first lady, are cribbed verbatim from a 2010 article in Yes! Magazine that had nothing whatever to do with her.

One of the memes commonly employed by Russian trolls is the accusation that their targets are drug dealers or otherwise involved with illegal drugs. An odd coincidence, then, is this bizarre accusation in a comment on a Wall Street Journal article of mine: “He is presently working with the Sinaloa cartel on a campaign to put heroin back in CocaCola [sic].” (I assume he meant cocaine—which was present in trace amounts in Coke in the original 19th century formulation—rather than heroin.) More fake news.

The Russian agenda gets plenty of support from inside the United States. For decades the U.S. organic industry’s propaganda campaign has been trolling and dispensing the same sorts of disinformation to discredit the competition (that is, genetic engineering). Academics Review, a reliable, science-oriented nonprofit organization of academic experts, performed an extensive review of hundreds of published academic, industry, and government research reports concerned with consumers’ views of organic products. The group also looked at more than 1,500 news reports, marketing materials, advocacy propaganda, speeches, etc., generated between 1988 and 2014 about organic foods.

Its analysis found “consumers have spent hundreds of billion dollars purchasing premium-priced organic food products based on false or misleading perceptions about comparative product food safety, nutrition and health attributes,” and that this is due to “a widespread organic and natural products industry pattern of research-informed and intentionally-deceptive marketing and paid advocacy.”

Because of genetic engineering’s prodigious scientific, economic and humanitarian successes, history is on the side of the scientists and science-communicators in the biotechnology community. As Nobel laureate Max Planck observed, scientific innovations rarely spread as a result of their opponents’ conversion; instead, opponents of innovation “gradually die out,” and the next generation accepts the breakthrough. But in the face of relentless, dishonest opposition to genetic engineering applied to agriculture, and its attendant fake news and character assassination, it will be a long row to hoe.

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America • Donald Trump • Energy • Environment • Post • The Left • Trump White House

More Unsettled Science on Climate Change

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Call it another dispute about the “settled science” of climate change.

According to a report published in Nature Geosciences last week, we have more time than we thought to stop the predicted meltdown of the planet. Not only are climate models way off—“running hot” by overestimating temperature increases—but the warming we were supposed to experience this century hasn’t happened as most climate models anticipated. What’s even more alarming to the climate tribe is that this study, “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 [degrees Celsius],” is authored by several prominent climate scientists,, many of whom have warned of planetary doom if we don’t cap global warming within the 1.5 C range.

First, some background: Most climate agencies report the world has warmed by about 0.9 C since the late-1800s; climate scientists insist we need dramatic decreases in  carbon dioxide  emissions to keep the overall temperature increase to 1.5 C (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. This means Mother Earth has about 0.6 C left in her global warming thermometer before we break the glass. The entire raison d’etre for the Paris Climate Accord is to oblige  nations immediately to cut carbon emissions so we can keep warming “well below” a 2 C rise over pre-industrial levels.

There have been varying, desperate pleas about how much time we have left to stop global warming. Some scientists lament that we are already past the point of no return. Others, including the former United Nations climate chief, warned in a paper published in June that we only have three years left to stop human-caused global warming and if “emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.”

But this new paper suggests we have about 20 years until we will need a mass conversion to using solar panels and Teslas in order to bring total CO2 emissions to zero (a wholly punitive, unnecessary, and impossible goal.) The conclusion is based on a complicated calculation of how much of a “carbon budget” (total CO2) we have left to burn before we get into the danger zone; according to an editorial that accompanied the paper, “the amount of carbon that humans could emit before Earth warms to that 1.5 C threshold is larger than previously estimated.” Despite howls from the media, Democrats, and climate pimps like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who last week said it was already too late to recover from man-made climate change, the key goal of the Paris Climate Accord is “not yet a geophysical impossibility . . . we have more breathing space than previously thought.”

And that appears to be the main thrust of the Nature paper: to give more scientific cover to the Trump Administration should it choose to stay in the climate pact, even though the president announced on June 1 the United States would withdraw from the Obama-era agreement. There’s been some (alarming) noise in the media recently that the Trump White House might remain in the accord under the right terms: “It provides an important incentive to work to enhance the Paris pledges further, at the first opportunity, if governments are serious about the 1.5 C ambition,” wrote Richard Millar, one of the study’s authors.

But the political motive of the paper took a backseat to its acknowledgement that climate models have been faulty and the much-disputed “pause” in global warming between 2000-2015 actually did occur (this is a highly contentious debate in the climate tribe.) Comments in the media by a few of the study’s authors emboldened the climate-skeptics’ camp. Myles Allen, a University of Oxford geosystems science professor, admitted “we haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming that we see in the models. We haven’t seen that in observations.” University College London professor Michael Grubb really twisted the knife, confessing “when the facts change, I change my mind, as Keyes said.” (Some of the coverage prompted this criticism from two of the scientists, claiming their paper was misrepresented.)

 The climate tribe also went into spin mode. Zeke Hausfather, a climate researcher with Berkeley Earth, tweeted out a graph the next day to insist models and observations “agree quite well”:

 

It is clear in the graph, however, that recorded temperatures from about 2000 to 2015 fall below —and sometimes well below—the models’ midline. The chart also supports a negligible temperature increase during that same timescale. Keep in mind this time period is crucial, as it coincided with the international push to prove anthropogenic global warming and scare us into costly policies to avert a climate crisis. Overreaching climate models were props in that campaign.

Someone may have told Hausfather that his chart wasn’t exactly helping the cause, so he created another chart 12 hours later to show a more garbled version of climate models vs. observed temps:

 

Hausfather changed the Y-axis in order to show much less discrepancy between the range of climate model projections and temperatures. The first graph has a range of 1.5 C and the second has a range of 4 C. (When I asked him why he changed it, he said it was a “simplified” version of the first graph.) He also extended the timeline from 2020 to 2100 in an effort to justify the Y-axis change, even though the longer timeline is irrelevant to the Nature paper.

Of course, no media coverage of a consequential climate study is complete without a quote from Michael Mann, the ubiquitous and controversial climate scientist from Penn State University. Mann said he is “rather skeptical” of the study and claimed “most studies have underestimated how much carbon was building up in the atmosphere” since the 1880s. Mann insists we need negative emissions technology (the next climate scam and federal subsidy mooch) to avert a 2 C rise by 2100.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next year. The International Panel on Climate Change will issue its “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C” in October 2018. A draft is under expert review right now, so the IPCC refused to comment on the Nature study.

In the interim, the Trump Administration and so-called climate deniers have plenty of reason to continue to challenge the still-unsettled science of human-caused global warming.

 

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America • Donald Trump • Economy • Energy • Environment • Greatness Agenda • Infrastructure • taxes • Technology • Trade

It’s the Capital Supply, Stupid!

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Republicans insist that creating jobs is all about “tax cuts,” while Democrats insist it is all about other people paying their “fair share” of income taxes.

Both parties buy into the fairy tale that the purpose of national economic activity is to “compete” in some fabled “global economy.” Both parties tell us we need to manipulate the tax code to move our workers into the “jobs of the future.”

Whatever those are. As if they know.

What’s worse, no amount of revenue—not even the current record-setting influx of $3.27 trillion in cash into the federal coffers this past tax season—comes close to satiating both parties’ reelection-driven lust for new and ever-higher levels of spending.

They can’t even balance a budget, these self-styled mavens of “job creation.”

Politicians: Masters of the Economy?
“It’s the economy, stupid,” was the relentless refrain of Bill Clinton’s “moderate” Democrats in the 1990s, and conventional wisdom holds that his focus on this mantra accounts for his surviving impeachment.

But the economically illiterate platforms of both parties today are double-blind proofs that the only art the parties have mastered is the art of messaging for the purpose of getting elected.

Consider the current uninspiring state of our public finances: some 20 years after the D.C. punditocracy discovered in their focus groups that the “economy” was the most important thing to most people, we are $20 trillion in federal debt with greater than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities weighing on an economy that is struggling to eek out a paltry 3 percent annual growth rate.

We used to be wealthy, the world’s largest creditor. Now we are the biggest debtor in the history of civilization. Even faster than we became a superpower, we are becoming fiscally undone.

This is the legacy of the idea that we elect politicians to run the economy. How do we fix this?

Current Misunderstandings
In his 1952 talk, “Capital Supply and American Prosperity” the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pinpointed what made the United States economically exceptional:

The average standard of living is in this country higher than in any other country of the world, not because American statesmen and politicians are superior to the foreign statesmen and politicians, but because the per-head quota of capital invested is in America higher than in any other countries.

He went on to explain:

Capital is more plentiful in America than in other countries because up to now the institutions and laws of the United States put fewer obstacles in the way of big-scale capital accumulation than did those foreign countries.

Finally, Mises concluded:

No party platform is to be considered as satisfactory that does not contain the following point: as the prosperity of the nation and the height of wage rates depend on a continual increase in the capital invested in its plants, mines, and farms, it is one of the foremost tasks of good government to remove all obstacles that hinder the accumulation and investment of new capital.

Donald J. Trump is the first president in my adult lifetime to grasp this truth.

Modern presidents of both parties have been strangely beholden to an ideological commitment to “free trade” (a.k.a. “fair trade”). This, combined with serial abuses of our tax code for election purposes, has assured the U.S. capital supply would eventually decline, as the law of equilibrium inexorably draws capital investment away from high-wage, high-tax nations (like ours) and redirects it to low-wage countries, even countries run by autocrats and dictators.

The only thing left to produce the illusion of prosperity when your capital supply evaporates is exactly what we’ve been living high on ever since: fiat money and federal debt.

Returning to Economic Exceptionalism
Trump’s non-ideological view of the role of government in national economic affairs, which is paradoxically both pro-labor and pro-business, expresses itself in a two-pronged policy.

First, he would remove obstacles to large-scale capital investment in American industry. Second, he would encourage such investment in American labor by capitalists—foreign and domestic—using both his bully pulpit and whatever legislative inducements he can cajole from an otherwise feckless Congress.

Trump’s “economic nationalism” rather more resembles the hybrid approach of our Founders than the laissez-faire religion of Conservatism, Inc., or the dystopian fantasies of the progressive Left.

America’s Founders rejected federal income taxes of any kind, fearing they would become oppressive and vest too much power in the national government. To raise federal revenue, they instead instituted a regime of ad valorem tariffs on all foreign merchandise. If you were an American worker or an investor in American industry, and you bought only American goods and services, then by design you paid no tax at all.

This approach put the emphasis precisely where it should be today: on making large-scale private capital investment in American labor advantageous for everyone. It protected our wage and price structure and our capital supply from all intervention, both foreign and domestic, and set the stage for the most rapid cycle of capital accumulation the world had yet seen.

In turn, the federal government had an incentive to keep conditions optimal for American workers and investors in U.S. labor, since ironically the government’s only source of revenue was from foreign trade.

A Congress thus incentivized doesn’t argue about raising self-imposed “debt ceilings,” or “creating jobs of the future,” much less “healthcare for all,” or greasing a glide path to citizenship for illegal aliens, but focuses instead on performing its enumerated constitutional duties, strictly within its results-based means.

In a world of constant conflict over finite resources, economics is not some monopoly board game played by career politicians, but a matter of life and death for any society that seeks the unique combination of political independence, economic prosperity, and peaceful republican self-rule set forth in our national charter.

Our politicians should be competing against each other for our consent to govern rather than sacrificing us in competition against largely nameless global forces serving foreign ideologies, all for the sake of their own fleeting ambitions. The only metric that matters is whether per-capita capital investment in our domestic labor rises or falls, and this should be the main criteria by which we assess their proposals, and hire or fire our politicians when we consider their relative economic prowess

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Environment • Podcast • Section 2

Video: Julie Kelly on Hurricane Harvey and Climate Change

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[/fusion_text][fusion_text]American Greatness contributor Julie Kelly appeared on the One America News Network to discuss her recent story, “Climate Cult Exploits Harvey.” Watch the video and leave your comments below.

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America • Cultural Marxism • Energy • Environment • Hollywood • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

Weathering the Punches

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As the nation continues to debate the critical, constitutional question of who can be punched and who cannot be punched (I vote for permitting the punching of slow drivers in the left lane and anyone who drinks Riesling), it appears the “peaceful” Left has a much more expansive list of acceptable human-punching bags. Liberals encourage their mob to assault not only Nazis, white supremacists and conservative speakers on college campuses, they are now advocating violence against people who dare to challenge the reigning dogma on manmade climate change.

Two destructive hurricanes in the span of one week have emboldened the climate bullies. One of the most unhinged is actor Mark Ruffalo, best known for his role as Bruce Banner/the Hulk in Marvel’s multi-billion-dollar-earning Avengers movie series. Ruffalo must think that playing a scientist on the silver screen imbues him with some special scientific powers and moral authority, much like Martin Sheen started to think he was the president because he played one on The West Wing. Ruffalo is an outspoken—albeit ignorant and misinformed—climate activist who continues to cling to the thoroughly debunked idea that the country can be fully powered by renewable energy sources. He is also a Trump-hater and progressive rabble-rouser.

On Wednesday morning, as Hurricane Irma began pounding Caribbean islands on its alarming path towards Florida, Ruffalo was less Bruce Banner and more Hulk:

(Ruffalo was subtweeting another noted climate expert, Star Trek actor George Takei.)

One could write this off as just another emotional rant from an uneducated Hollywood celebrity. But Ruffalo has quite a following, including 3.4 million Twitter followers and the media’s admiration. So it is not without consequence when the actor invites his minions to attack a Trump Administration cabinet official and anyone deemed a climate change denier. Considering one of Ruffalo’s fellow Bernie Bros tried to assassinate several Republican congressmen earlier this summer, nearly killing one of them, it’s outrageous for a top celebrity activist to fan the flames in this kind of political environment.

It’s also a bit ironic, since he routinely tweets about love, compassion, and tolerance. But Ruffalo’s hypocrisies don’t stop there. Ruffalo claims to be a feminist champion except for conservative women (you can read about that here.) He regularly protests the use of fossil fuels, blasts corporations like Exxon, and demands states such as New York stop fracking, but he works in the entertainment business, one of the most energy-intensive industries. He is also an ardent foe of genetically engineered crops, which have numerous environmental benefits including retaining carbon in the soil and withstanding climate impacts.

His movie character isn’t the only thing about him with a split personality.

In a subsequent tweet, Ruffalo also blamed Republicans for future storms:

Now, it would be an utter waste of time to ask Ruffalo to explain the 12-year hurricane drought the United States has just experienced. Or to ask him why global temperatures have not risen anywhere close to what climate models projected over the past few decades. Or to ask him if he knows how ocean temperatures were measured in the past (by lifting buckets of seawater onto ships and sticking a thermometer in them. Sounds accurate, right?) Or to ask him to offer the data and evidence proving any anthropogenic influence in the frequency or severity of these storms.

Why bother with science when you can promote your progressive—and now, violent—agenda?

In a post Wednesday afternoon, Mark Hertsgaard, writer for the Nation, insisted climate deniers should be treated like murderers for “crimes against humanity.” He called for climate deniers to be punished, blaming them for the deaths of Hurricane Harvey victims and even exploiting the loss of a Texas toddler’s mother. Hertgaard wrote:

With Hurricane Irma churning toward Florida, the horrors and heartbreaks will only get worse until we change the game for their perpetrators. The first step toward justice is to call things by their true names. Murder is murder, whether the murderers admit it or not. Punish it as such, or we encourage more of the same.

It’s not just hurricanes that are making climate activists brutish; the election of Donald Trump and appointment of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA have brought out the pitchforks from the pointy-heads. In a July interview, Bill Nye “the Science Guy” said the climate tribe just needs a little help from the Grim Reaper to make more progress: “Climate change deniers, by way of example, are older. It’s generational. So we’re just going to have to wait for those people to ‘age out,’ as they say. ‘Age out’ is a euphemism for ‘die.’”

After the March for Science earlier this year, bullet holes were discovered near the office of Dr. John Christy, a leading climatologist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Christy refutes much of the government-generated data on global temperatures and is a target of climate activists.

Democrats are imposing a climate change litmus test for Trump appointees, including Sam Clovis, Trump’s pick for a top post in the Department of Agriculture. Senate leaders are demanding the president “withdraw the Clovis nomination immediately—not only because he is a proud ‘skeptic’ of climate change and wildly unqualified for the position of USDA chief scientist—but also as a gesture to the American people that this administration is serious about rooting out the most hateful voices in our society.” (Clovis has said disparaging things about former Attorney General Eric Holder, so of course that means he’s a racist.)

But it’s not just Trump appointees who should be judged. One activist wants all Americans to go on record with their position on climate change. Charles Wheelan, a writer and economist, recently suggested this:

I have a modest proposal: a climate change “registry.” This would be a simple petition, albeit with a twist: Each of us would be asked to sign our name to one of two statements:

  1. Yes, I believe that the risk of climate change is significant enough that we ought to take action now to reduce the possibility of future harm.
  2. No, I do not believe that we should take any action now to prevent climate change.

Why do I want to circulate this petition? Because I believe history is a powerful judge. Those who are standing in the way of sensible climate action ought to be held to account, if only in the eyes of their grandchildren who are at risk of paying the price for our inaction.

Wheelan then wondered “what some petitions might have looked like in the past,” including declarations on civil rights and the Vietnam War.

These are not the signs of a vigorous, science-based movement. They are the nervous spasms of a malevolent crusade that has less to do with ecology and more to do with ideology, beating into submission anyone who dissents. Now, it’s leading voices are aligned with the same folks who wear black masks and tell you it is OK to punch Nazis. Wonder who is next?

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