The New Religion; Mr. & Mrs. Markle; & Sure Bets Coming In.
Enemies of the People: the Markles
In his Editor’s Column this week, Michael Walsh spends some time examining the “cultus” which has grown up around the climate and its diminutive, Swedish goddess-on-earth.
Actually, It Is 'Blah, Blah, Blah'
One pernicious development of these parlous times has been the rise of various cults that ape the trappings of Christianity while being fundamentally and unalterably opposed to its moral tenets. Case in point, the Marxist Suicide Cult masquerading as heroic do-gooderism that goes by the name of "climate change," by which these solipsistic lunatics mean "man-made climate change."
The argument that the climate is changing is prima facie false, because there is no argument. The climate is always changing. An hour in any major art gallery immediately illustrates that. Start with the Dutch paintings from the Little Ice Age, such as Brueghel's Hunters in the Snow from 1565 if you doubt me. Note also that the old city of Alexandria, in Egypt, which was founded by the Macedonian Greek Alexander the Great c. 331 B.C., and once ruled over by Cleopatra, is now under water. Man had nothing to do with either.
In fact, to say that puny human beings can affect the climate is arrogance of the highest order when one considers the size of the Sun and the vastness of even our little solar system at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. "An ant in the afterbirth," as Mr. Dolarhyde famously put it….
Hence my use of the word "cult," which should not always be interpreted as a pejorative. In Roman times, the Latin word cultus went beyond simple reverence to include the ritual of the act itself. There were cults of every description, most of them benign. The emperor Severus, for example, was involved with a cult devoted to the Egyptian goddess Isis and the god Osiris, renamed Serapis. This in addition to the official pantheon of Roman gods, including the deified emperors, among whom would soon enough be Severus himself. To this day, Catholic Christians have the devotional cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which at its most extreme exhibits itself in various Marian apparitions, such as at Lourdes, Fatima, and most recently at Medjugorje in Bosnia. The earliest adherents of Jesus belonged to various Jewish sects or cults; the Ebionites, for example.
We may therefore define a "cult" as a group of adherents that regards a certain person or object (whether real or mythical) with intense devotion and is not interested in hearing any evidence to the contrary: you either believe in the Virgin Birth, or Isis, or you don't. Since modern Leftists have forsaken traditional religion, one cult they have invented and embraced is the Climate Cult, which in the U.S. began around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, established by Sen. Gaylord Nelson, Democrat (of course) from Wisconsin….
The false premise here is that some of us wanted to destroy the planet; it never seems to occur to the Left that there might have been, and still be, better ways to improve everybody's quality of life besides using the full force of government (which is to say, gunpoint) to mandate it. And so here we are, prisoners of our own device, our jailers in the thrall of childish fears that, despite the accomplishments of the late Sen. Nelson, the world is still coming to an end and, worse, it's all our fault. They have driven themselves so mad that the sight of a puff of smoke coming from a chimney or the sight of a cow's ass throws them into paroxysms of panic. And to accommodate their madness, we have to stop driving, stop heating our homes, stop cooking our food, stop traveling, stop. We've even got our military believing that "fighting 'climate change'" is its top priority instead of killing our enemies.
Which is why they are, at root, a Suicide Cult. Again, hardly unusual. Cults often kills themselves en masse.
Our Founding Editor, John O’Sullivan, contributed a column about the fact that his longstanding predictions have begun to come true.
Irresistible Force Meets Immovable Object
On far too many occasions in the last three years of writing, I’ve been forecasting that a great crisis would erupt soon when the irresistible force of Net-Zero policies met the immovable object of democratic resistance from the voters. In a way it was an easy prediction. Advocates of Net-Zero from Greta Thunberg to Leonardo DiCaprio, from U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Boris Johnson, have not shrunk from admitting that the policies they urge would mean a higher cost of living and a lower quality of life including such lifestyle changes as fewer holidays, less travel, and menus that replace steaks with insects.
Not a very appealing election program. I once wrote the Tory manifesto for Margaret Thatcher’s third election campaign which (I’m proud to say) resulted in a Conservative majority of over 100 seats. But we would not have won a single constituency in Middle England if I’d ghosted the slogan: Vote Tory, Pay More Taxes, Eat Insects, Vacation at Home, and History will Thank You.
So I was betting on a sure thing when I predicted a historic smash up between fanatical Net-Zero governments and their electorates. But the awkward thing about predictions is that it’s not enough to get them right if you get the date of their occurrence wrong. Which is to say, my confident pronouncements have been slow to materialize. Luckily the dam has finally burst in recent weeks:
On March 14 Dutch voters delivered a very unpleasant surprise to the world's climate establishments. They gave a landslide victory to an insurgent farmers party that had been holding mass demonstrations throughout the Netherlands to protest government plans to purchase farm land compulsorily and sell it to companies that, as prime minister Mark Rutte promised, would farm it more efficiently.
It’s a little hard to share Mr. Rutte's doubts about the efficiency of Dutch farmers because they've been successfully exporting agricultural products to the rest of the world from farms operating below sea level for hundreds of years. They have greatly reduced the use of water and chemical fertilizers while becoming the second largest agricultural exporter in the world. Not perhaps coincidentally, their achievements are a standing refutation of the world’s climate establishment’s argument that climate policy must rely overwhelmingly on mitigation via cuts in carbon emissions rather than adaptation to climate change (though it's how people have dealt with changing climates throughout history.)
“Efficiency” on this question, however, is a technical term. It means sacrificing the Dutch farmers because, while producing large farm surpluses, they use fertilizers that increase nitrogen emissions higher than those agreed by an E.U. committee of technocrats and imposed by the courts which were themselves responding to lawsuits from Green activists . . . until the voters intervened.
Since the election Frans Timmermans, E.U. Commission vice-president and informal “climate chief,” has invited the leader of the Farmers-Citizens Party (the BBB), the formidable Caroline van der Plas, to Brussels where he will “explain” the policy to her. She in turn invited him to Holland where she seems intent on explaining it back to him. The intrusion of democracy is already playing havoc with the stately progress of Brussels policy-making, and it's likely to get worse. The BBB has just announced that it intends to fight in next year’s European elections when its policies will cover much more than farm closures—in particular, transforming the E.U. from federal superstate to common market which presumably would not have its own Net-Zero policies.
In Germany ten days later, democracy struck again. On March 26th Berlin voters rejected a referendum proposal that, if passed, would have legally committed the city to climate neutrality by 2030. It failed:
According to election officials, a slim majority of about 442,000 voters voted in favor (50.9 percent). Some 423,000 voters voted against (48.7 percent). However, this met only one requirement for a successful referendum. The second requirement, an approval quorum of at least 25 percent of all eligible voters, was not met. That would have been around 608,000 yes votes. 35.8 percent of the approximately 2.4 million eligible voters took part in the referendum.
Berlin’s mayor, Franziska Giffey, had welcomed the result as a recognition of reality. She declared that the programs proposed in the referendum “could not have been implemented—not even if they were cast into law.”
The sincerity of that statement is confirmed by the fact that if the referendum had passed, the E.U. would have given Berlin financial assistance as part of its program to help cities to reach climate neutrality by 2030. Now, when the mayor and citizens of a European city reject cash from Brussels because they believe that the programs accompanying it will end up costing them more than they receive, that’s a small political earthquake. Moreover, the referendum was lost by a substantial margin—not so small an earthquake at that.
Joan Sammon wrote about President Biden’s going to bat for ESG:
Fancy This: Biden Leaps to 'ESG' Defense
President Joe Biden has issued his first veto to protect a rule the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced late last year that would permit investment fund managers, known as fiduciaries, to use the environmental, social and governance (ESG) construct when selecting retirement investments like 401Ks, and when exercising shareholder rights, including proxy voting. Increasingly understood to be a political device intended to redirect investor capital toward political and social objectives deemed important to the Neo-communist agenda, Congress had passed a bill earlier this month to block the new DOL rule.
The bill was an effort by Congress to protect investors from ESG consideration because the scheme violates the legally codified obligation fiduciaries have to investors. Known as the sole interest rule, it is a well-established legal principle that requires investment fiduciaries to maximize shareholder financial returns rather than promote political or social agendas. Proponents of the DOL rule assert that ESG factors could affect investment risks and returns and therefore should be taken into account by fiduciaries. But the disregard of legal principles aside, the data itself reveals contradictory evidence to their assertion.
As the world’s largest asset management firm in the world, it was a surprise when BlackRock’s former Chief Investment Officer for Sustainable Investing, Tariq Fancy, expressed doubt about ESG being used for investment consideration:
Our messaging helped mainstream the concept that pursuing social good was also good for the bottom line. Sadly, that’s all it is, a hopeful idea. In truth, sustainable investing boils down to little more than marketing hype, PR spin and disingenuous promises from the investment community.
Fancy’s analysis proved prophetic when BlackRock made history last year for sustaining the largest losses of any asset management firm ever in the first six months of the year. The ESG strategy that led to some of the losses was promoted by BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink. Fink’s often cultish focus on ESG is likely rooted in his affiliation with the World Economic Forum (WEF), the godfather of ESG that began in 2000.
Regarding Fink, a WEF Trustee board member and Agenda Contributor, many have speculated whether ESG was a concept Fink brought into BlackRock to garner control of the capital markets, or whether BlackRock shaped the WEF’s understanding of how they could use the financial sector to re-orient the capital markets and promote what has proven to be a mechanism of control. In either case, it is bad for investors.
But beyond BlackRock’s poor market performance being evidence of a contrived and misbegotten pretense, a 2022 study published by Review of Accounting Studies reveals even more about ESG. The authors discuss that while historically there may have been some indication that ESG-centric funds delivered higher equity returns, by 2022, returns on average were negative. The study concludes, “ESG funds appear to under perform financially relative to other funds within the same asset manager and year, and charge higher fees.” The authors also note, "ESG funds’ portfolio firms, on average, exhibit worse performance with respect to carbon emissions, in terms of both raw emissions output and emissions intensity (i.e., CO2 emissions per unit of revenue).”
ESG funds, it turns out, do not appear to deliver on promises for either "stakeholders" or shareholders. So: farce or a fraud?
David Cavena blogged about some of the environmental issues stemming from E.V. batteries.
The Hidden Cost of Battery Failure
Opponents of the transportation carbon cycle – in which we pull carbon from the ground in the form of fossil fuels and put it into the air in the form of exhaust from mechanized transport – tend to justify their advocacy with appeals to the oft-refuted "greenhouse" theory of “climate change.” (Of course, if the climate cultists really still believed in the “greenhouse” theory, we still would be calling it “global warming.”) But there's another cycle which should worry us more, one that is real, deleterious to our freedom and prosperity, and causing geopolitical centers of gravity to rearrange to America's detriment.
As part of the Inflation Reduction Act (shouldn't that name be considered disinformation?), President Biden created a tax credit for American car manufacturers of E.V. battery packs. This subsidy was pegged by the CBO to cost $30.6 billion over ten years. Industry analysts now estimate this credit (a hole in the tax revenue the middle class will be taxed to fill) at $136B, and being worth up to $5,500 per new vehicle to the manufacturers.
Of what are these batteries made? Lithium, a particularly toxic substance. Interestingly,
GM announced plans to invest $650 million in a Nevada lithium mine, operated by Lithium Americas, a firm whose largest shareholder has ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
E.V.s are not particularly popular, hence the subsidy. Overlooked in the transportation cycle (and so the car repair/replacement decisions of insurance companies after an accident) is the impact of car crashes, of which in America, 5,250,837 happen over the course of a year. No, not the fires that can’t be put out until the vehicle is a total loss and your house burned to the ground, but minor fender-benders in which the very expensive, highly subsidized, environmentally catastrophic battery pack is scratched. Although many E.V. manufacturers continue to insist that "their battery packs were repairable" in such situations, "many are unwilling to share key data with third-party insurers to help assess damage."
This leads to repairable packs becoming a total loss and the manufacturer gaining a subsidy for the new battery pack that isn’t gained if the data is shared and the battery pack repaired.
And Tom Finnerty blogged about a recent talk on the impossibility of achieving the long-hoped for Energy Transition.
The 'Energy Revolution' Will Not Be Forthcoming
Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for upcoming pieces by Clarice Feldman, Peter Smith, and Elizabeth Nickson. All this and more this week at The Pipeline!