Young Terrors; The Wonders of Warming; & From Barrington to Norfolk.
Enemies of the People: Justin Trudeau
In his Editor’s Column this week, Michael Walsh wrote about the cult of youth which has terrorized us since the 1960s.
Monsters From the Id
One of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone concerned a malevolent child with supernatural powers who terrorized the adults around him into indulging his every whim. Frustrate the little bastard over anything, no matter how small or trivial, and the offender was subject to instant, humiliating, sometimes capital, punishment. Called "It's a Good Life," the 1961 episode was remade in 1983 by director Joe Dante as part of Twilight Zone: the Movie. If somehow you're not familiar with it, have a look. Here's the original, based on the 1953 short story by Jerome Bixby and written by Rod Serling:
And here's some of Dante's version:
The subtext was the petulant beast that dwells in the breast of every child, and no, it wasn't about Greta Thunberg. What makes this episode so remarkable was that it came as the 1950s turned into the 1960s, but still before the "youthquake" that began c. 1963. The idea that children should be seen (maybe) and not heard (never) was paramount in most stable American—father, mother, more than two kids—families. Nobody liked a smarmy or mouthy kid, certainly not one like the nasty Anthony Fremont or the brown-nosing Eddie Haskell of Leave It to Beaver:
But by the time the little monster, Anthony, returned in Jon Landis's star-crossed movie, he and Eddie had already started to take over the world, even without magical powers. The generation of parents that had grown up during the Depression had surrendered to Dr. Spock and legions of child psychologists, who wormed their way into child-rearing, "liberating" children from "arbitrary" parental authority and producing generations of the solipsistic darlings now determined to impose their theories of relativity upon the rest of the world.
Thus was begotten the Gretas of the western world: monsters from the belly of a world that has abandoned reality for their fantasies du jour. And so it believes, as good Spockians, that our children have a clearer, better vision of the future than we do. And, worse, that we ought to listen to them:
Peter Smith wrote about Australia’s implausible path to net-zero.
Down Under, Mindless Fantasies of Net-Zero
We have a government scheme in Australia which I’ve mentioned before. Its objective is to ensure the lights don’t go out during the chimeric transition to a bountiful job-rich renewable-energy future. It’s called the capacity mechanism. I suspect most western jurisdictions have one, in one form or another. In Australia it came under the purview of the Energy Security Board. Alas, the ESB is effectively no more; it’s been absorbed by the ever-expanding renewal-energy hegemony (akin to The Blob); namely, in this instance, by the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Energy Market Operator. We got a million of 'em.
The ESB made the mistake of proposing the use of gas and coal to “firm” the supply of electricity during the transitional period and was duly given a damn good thrashing for its trouble. So now the plan, so far as I can work out, is to firm unreliable renewables with unreliable renewables, plus a few batteries thrown into the mix. Don’t dare say it won’t work. They visualize therefore they actualize.
The transition itself, which I’ll come to, via a different government scheme, this time mysteriously called the safeguard mechanism, is still no more than a gleam in the eyes of renewable-energy aficionados. To illustrate: the latest official figures, for the year 2020-21, show that coal, oil, and gas accounted for 92 percent of Australia’s energy consumption. Energy badged as "renewables" accounted for only 8 percent; and of that wind and solar was only 45 percent, or 3.6 percent of the overall total. That’s where we’re at after three decades and more of huffing and puffing and spending billions of dollars on subsidies and tax breaks. And yet, mindless fantasies of net-zero persist unabated among the zealots who populate governments and the plethora of assorted climate-change bodies.
Surely the world is doing better than Australia in saving the planet? I consulted the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, to find that 92.6 percent of energy consumption came from coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and hydro in North America in 2021, and 93.3 percent in the world as a whole. Of the rest, including biomass and ethanol, wind, and sun form only a fraction. Consolingly, Australia is not letting the side down.
Tom Finnerty contributed a blog post discussing the Left’s belatedly acknowledging that there are very real positives to climatological variation.
WaPo Wonders: Is 'Climate Change' Good?
One of our mantras at The Pipeline has always been "Climate changes. Always has, always will." Which is to say, we've never denied that modern-day weather patterns are different—even significantly different—than those in ages past. In fact, we've written quite a bit about the Roman and Medieval warming periods, as well as the Little Ice Age, of the 16th through 19th centuries. We've looked into the benefits of warming (the expansion of the Roman Empire and the building of the great cathedrals of Europe coincide with the Roman and Medieval warming periods) and even of an elevated concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which have contributed to record-setting crop yields throughout the world). Which is to say, in general we don't dispute the underlying scientific data, just the questionable conclusions drawn from it.
So it is nice to see the mainstream media acknowledging, however begrudgingly, that we have a point. For instance, the Washington Post recently published an article by Harry Stevens entitled, "Will global warming make temperature less deadly?" The piece begins by mentioning a 2021 study which found that between the years "1991 and 2018... more than one-third of deaths from heat exposure were linked to global warming." Stevens notes that this study received a great deal of attention at the time: "hundreds of news outlets covered the findings." But a follow-up paper got a lot less coverage:
A month later, the same research group... released another peer-reviewed study that told a fuller, more complex story about the link between climate change, temperature, and human mortality. The two papers’ authors were mostly the same, and they used similar data and statistical methods. Published in Lancet Planetary Health, the second paper reported that between 2000 and 2019, annual deaths from heat exposure increased. But deaths from cold exposure, which were far more common, fell by an even larger amount. All told, during those two decades the world warmed by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and some 650,000 fewer people died from temperature exposure.
David Cavena looked into a new project from the scientists behind The Great Barrington Declaration.
Let the Great Covid Reckoning Begin
Readers of The Pipeline will be familiar with The Great Barrington Declaration, an early (October 2020) response to the Covid pandemic policies of various governments….
The authors of that declaration—stunningly correct in its conclusions and widely disparage by the totalitarian Left—have recently re-formed as the Norfolk Group with the mission of investigating Covid responses now widely seen as mistaken.
America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic failed on many levels of government and in many aspects. Certainly, deaths are unavoidable during a pandemic. However, too many U.S. policy makers concentrated efforts on ineffective or actively harmful and divisive measures such as school closures that generated enormous societal damage without significantly lowering COVID-19 mortality, while failing to protect high-risk Americans. As a result, Americans were hard hit both by the disease and by collateral damage generated by misguided pandemic strategies and decisions that ignored years of pandemic preparation guidance crafted by numerous public health agencies, nationally and internationally.
Written by experts in epidemiology, vaccine development, and biomedical statistics at leading medical institutions (Harvard, Oxford, Stanford), the Declaration was a statement of risk mitigation by scientists whose professional lives have been spent doing exactly that in the field of infectious disease. The Norfolk Group is making the reasonable point that, as we do for major catastrophes in every field, we must investigate what “went wrong” in our reaction to Covid. Nowhere in the literature, for example, were national lockdowns for respiratory diseases recommended prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. Even Anthony Fauci noted, in response to China’s lockdowns in early 2020, that, “…historically when you shut things down it doesn’t have a major effect.”
Unfortunately the Great Barrington recommendations were rejected out of hand, perhaps because they did not advance the objectives of the ruling classes. Consequently, thousands (millions?) of lives were ended unnecessarily, the economy was imperiled, suicide and drug overdose rates skyrocketed, and a generation of schoolchildren had their intellectual and social developments stunted by means of a useless masking and social distancing regime. The negative impacts of these policies are becoming increasingly clear, and will be with us for generations. It's time for some serious payback.
And Rich Trzupek, a chemist and air quality expert, pushed back on the crystalizing narrative surrounding the East Palestine train derailment.
Yet Another 'Disaster' That Actually Wasn't
The East Palestine, Ohio derailment “disaster” presents us with an interesting twist on the way that the public relations professionals exert control over both political parties. Usually, when there is a Republican president in office and something goes off the rails (pun intended) in the environmental world, Democrat media types quickly develop talking points designed to paint the party in power as indifferent and/or incompetent. The MSM, fulfilling its role as the primary public relations tool of the Democrat party, dutifully follows suit.
With East Palestine, the roles are reversed. Many in the Republican party have now assumed the hand-wringing role, no doubt following the instructions of their own PR professionals. (Note to J.D. Vance: it's not a "chemical rainbow," it's a petroleum sheen. Next time your car leaks a little hydraulic fluid and there's a rainstorm, you can enjoy watching one appear in your driveway.) I take little pleasure in pointing out the error of the party’s ways in this case, but err they did. The same, sadly, is true of Fox’s Tucker Carlson, who is usually a reliable and thoughtful source of commentary. He too got this one wrong.
The East Palestine derailment was no disaster. Disasters require multiple bodies, or extensive/expensive property damage, or long-term environmental harm, preferably all three. East Palestine includes none of those elements. The one thing East Palestine had that allows people to label it a disaster is ugly visuals. I get it. Everyday, non-technical people who don’t understand dispersion, or exposure, or risk see that big black cloud and think “that’s what disasters look like!”
There are facts about East Palestine that are true, but don’t actually matter. Toxic materials were present and some had been released into the environment. True, but immaterial. Burning off the contents of a tanker containing vinyl chloride released potentially toxic chemicals into the air. Also true, but also immaterial. Some potentially toxic chemicals could possibly seep into the water table, significantly affecting the quality of well-water that is used by some nearby residents. True again, but ultimately of no concern.
How can I make such claims? What makes me right and the vast majority of politicians and journalists wrong? The flip answer is this: I’m a chemist. They’re not. I’ve got 38 years experience dealing with atmospheric chemistry, dispersion modeling and risk evaluation. They don’t. Releasing potentially toxic chemicals into the environment does not necessarily mean that the environment will suffer, either in the long term or the short term. Generating potentially toxic pollutants and releasing them into the air does not necessarily put anybody in the public at risk. The toxicity of the chemical doesn’t matter. The amount of the chemical released doesn’t matter. The only things that ultimately matter are the following:
What is the maximum dose of a chemical to which a person can be exposed and how does that dose compare to established (and quite conservative) public health guidelines?
Can the chemical release cause actual, long-term damage to eco-systems or to natural resources that we depend on?
Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for upcoming pieces by Elizabeth Nickson, Tom Finnerty, and Clarice Feldman. All this and more this week at The Pipeline!