Leftist Unreality; A Resource Sector Setback at SCOTUS; & Mother Nature's Not Nice
In his Editor’s Column this week, Michael Walsh examined our societal descent into unreality.
First, Posit a Counter-Factual...
One of the hallmarks of Leftist methodology is to assert blatant falsehoods as real and then act on them—with the fierce urgency of now!—as if they were true. At first dismissed as too absurd to take seriously, this approach has proven highly successful. The triumph of relativism and the concomitant loss of belief in even the most fundamental verities has resulted in the complete emasculation of the culture —and don't expect newly defeminized women to take up the slack. The Left's squadrons of vicious, shameless lawyers take as their operating principle: "we can make the argument that...," the argument being wholly imaginary. But who's to call them on it? They may win some and lose some, but every win goes in the permanent win column and every loss can always be relitigated later.
And they're getting bolder. You have to admire the sheer audacity of trying to convince the public that there are more than two sexes, rather than two sexes and various aberrations, which is one reason they long ago replaced the word "sex" (which to the Left solely means sexual intercourse of some exotic variety or another, not an intrinsic aspect of being) with the grammatical term "gender." Voila! There really are three genders—masculine, feminine, and neuter. Problem solved: since the notion of binary sexes was merely arbitrary, why not three or four? Or more?…
Can you believe we're even having this discussion? About chemical castration and sexual mutilation as positive good things? This is how far down the cultural-Marxist road we've traveled.
Christopher Horner contributed a piece on a recent move by the Supreme Court which has been widely reported as a big win for the environmentalist movement.
'Greens' Win a Victory But Will Likely Lose the War
The United States Supreme Court this week declined to hear a challenge by oil and gas companies seeking to overturn rulings in two lawsuits, both filed by state and local governments seeking billions of dollars because energy company products supposedly caused, or made worse, devastating “climate change."
This is being reported as a victory for the environmental lobby, but those reports are misleading for a variety of reasons. Among them is that "climate” wasn’t actually at issue before the Court in this case. This was a jurisdictional question. The oil and gas companies were hoping to remove the matters to federal court given how the purported rationale — global "climate change" —unsubtly suggests this is not well-suited for resolution by, say, a county superior court in Maryland.
Meanwhile, after having stumbled in the federal courts, these litigious, progressively-led government plaintiffs view state courts as their best hope to obtain the demanded riches in disgorged revenues, to pay for politicians’ agendas that legislatures won’t fund through direct taxation.
The Court’s decision to not intervene dealt the oil companies a setback, at least for the time being. This was in fact the second time the Court has dealt with what are now two-dozen such cases in a nationally coordinated climate-litigation campaign. The first case, on a somewhat similar if even more arcane procedural question, did go to argument and the companies prevailed. More cases will make it to the Court in the near future, but these should be viewed as the pre-game warmups. Because inevitably the problem the environmentalists are going to run into is the merits of the cases themselves.
Indeed, this veritable tsunami of state-court lawfare began with demands in the name of companies purportedly causing “climate nuisance.” After setbacks in federal courts in California and New York (the latter affirmed on appeal), as well as a drubbing in New York state court in the first case filed, the plaintiffs adapted. They claim now that, upon further reflection, their demands for billions of dollars from the same parties and citing the very same behavior are really matters of state consumer protection laws, with which the federal courts should not trouble themselves. And so, the campaign of vexatious multi-state litigation to bring their targets “to the table,” to negotiate their way out of the assault and provide the plaintiffs with a “sustainable funding stream,” continues.
There is no doubt this is what is going on. A party whom I assisted in its amicus curiae brief on the previous trip to SCOTUS, Energy Policy Advocates, points out that while the principals do not advertise this — in fact they go to great lengths to obscure it — they also have nonetheless openly, repeatedly admitted it.
Equally farcical is the newfound claim that these claims are not about global this or greenhouse that, at all — which were obvious elements of the claims that led federal judges to declare the issue belongs in federal courts. Now, we are told that was all a misunderstanding.
Yet no change in branding or rhetoric can alter that this is a demonstrably coordinated national campaign to litigate purely local concerns. Further aggravating the pretense, this anti-energy campaign managed out of New York and California is quietly financed by Hollywood through charitable foundations giving “grants” to, and otherwise paying, the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Who nonetheless have been awarded “contingency fee” contracts by progressive politicians to file the suits. It is for just such circumstances, where plaintiffs seem to be playing political odds and hoping for local sympathy, that our system has longstanding doctrine that federal courts are appropriate fora to guard against a legitimate fear of state court bias and other abuse.
David Cavena spent some time checking “Green” math and found that it doesn’t add up.
Dreaming the Impossible Dream
What continually surprises is the lack of recognition of reality when discussing “green” energy. Economic reality. Physical reality. Energy reality. Let’s look at the numbers. We already know that the necessary minerals and mining capacity for conversion to electricity of America’s transportation needs simply do not exist on this planet. And we already know that we would need to double the electrical generation capacity of America, from about four trillion KwH to about eight trillion KwH, to replicate, electrically, our current personal transportation usage.
Now the climate cultists have turned their sights on home appliances. The American consumer uses approximately 4.72 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in our stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers, and furnaces. If we were to electrify these appliances, turn that 4.72 trillion cubic feet of energy now supplied by natural gas, into energy delivered via electricity, could we do it?
Usefully, the government’s EIA (Energy Information Administration) provides conversion calculations between energy sources: 4.72 trillion cubic feet of natural gas provides 4.9 quadrillion British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Assuming (one never can) a 100 percent conversion of energy consumed when switching energy systems to provide similar function, those 4.9 quadrillion BTUs, if provided via electricity, would require adding another thirty-five percent, another 1.4 trillion KwH, to the American electrical generating capacity, via wind and solar.
The IMF is getting into the Big “Climate Change” business, and Clarice Feldman is on it.
Impossible Mission Creep at the IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created along with the World Bank in post-war 1944 at Bretton Woods. The plan was to prevent another worldwide depression and lift more people around the world out of poverty. It is not a lending institution, but rather its focus is to keep watch over monetary and exchange rate policies so important to the global markets. Or at least it was. It seems to have stepped out of its lane with its new Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST). So far (as of December 15, 2022) the Trust has received from seven countries (not the United States) more than forty billion dollars and explains in generalities how it plans to use these funds:
The IMF helps countries tackle the challenges of climate change. Through its Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST), the IMF plays an increasingly important role in helping countries with limited room in their budget address long-term challenges, including climate change.
The Trust helps low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries build resilience to external shocks and ensure sustainable growth, contributing to their longer-term balance of payments stability. It complements the IMF’s existing lending toolkit by providing longer-term, affordable financing to address longer-term challenges, including climate change and pandemic preparedness.
To the extent that it intends to use these funds to address "climate change" challenges, whether or not you believe that climate change exists on a scale that requires substantial funding, the notion of adaptive measures seems to me more promising than impoverishing the world with pie-in-the-sky notions of achieving zero carbon dioxide emissions. Like most things, the worth of the project demands on the details and implementation. But there’s little detail to go on.
Feldman also contributed a blog post about Texas’s struggles to correct for what its massive “renewable” subsidies have done to the state’s power grid.
The Great Texas Power Two-Step
In sum, trying to deal with the inefficiencies in energy production created by government subsidies will only create more inefficiencies. The problem, of course, is the market distortions caused by government subsidies. I expect other states will be faced with the same problem and the same impetus to create even more inefficiencies in energy production should they, like Texas, try to “level the playing field” in a desperate effort to keep the lights on.
Tom Finnerty blogged about a recent interview which John Stossel did with Alex Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and Fossil Future. Finnerty highlighted one particular aspect of Epstein’s case, that is his argument that fossil fuels make the planet more livable, not less.
Mother Nature's Not Nice
Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for upcoming pieces by Joan Sammon, Tom Finnerty, and Peter Smith. All this and more this week at The Pipeline!