Column: The only predictable fallout of coronavirus? Partisanship.
The pundits are having difficulty settling on a historical analogy for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Will the spread of the disease be President Trump’s Katrina or his financial crisis? Will it be similar to the H1N1 avian flu pandemic in 2009 or will it be politicized like the Ebola outbreak in 2014?
Comparisons are tough. After all, the situation is unprecedented. The political consequences of COVID-19 are difficult to predict because of the interplay between a public health emergency and a fractured public narrative. Coronavirus is the first postmodern pandemic.
It has the makings of a phenomenon not seen in a century. The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected an estimated one-third of the global population. It had a case fatality rate greater than 2.5 percent—slightly higher than the rate for coronavirus observed in China so far. More than 600,000 people died in the United States of “La Grippe.” No one wants to see these numbers repeated.
Perhaps they won’t be. The malpractice of the Chinese Communists may be responsible for the high fatality rate there. The rate outside its borders, according to the World Health Organization, is lower. And America inhabits a different public health universe than a century ago. Flu vaccines and therapeutics did not exist. Hospitals, the sciences of virology and epidemiology, and medical technology were primitive. Authorities relied on quarantines and appeals for good hygiene. Results were mixed. And disappointing.
This is different from the Spanish Flu. Science, medicine, and public health have improved immeasurably. But that is not the only difference. COVID-19 is novel. No one saw it before last December. No one is sure where it came from. And it has spread quickly. Despite record advances in gene sequencing and drug testing, it will be more than a year before a vaccine can be mass produced.
The global economy is far more integrated than in the past. And a worldwide broadcast, digital, and social media exist that would have been fanciful to President Wilson. This system distributes misinformation, incentivizes hysteria and partisanship, and expects immaculate performance from the government while ignoring, dismissing, and excusing its own failures. Dealing with “community spread” is hard enough. Try doing it while watching Don Lemon.
We were better off when the media focused on impeachment. Now that it is interested in coronavirus, a familiar pattern will set in. Data will be publicized without the slightest sense of proportion. The most outrageous scenarios will receive the most attention. Speculation will be paraded as fact. And every conceivable negative outcome, from infections to deaths to plunging stock values, from reasonable and warranted travel bans to unanticipated diplomatic and economic fallout, will be related back to the president in an effort to damage his reelection.
Financial journalists who see bears around every corner now point to coronavirus as the irrepressible agent of recession. A columnist for the New York Times says, “Let’s Call It Trumpvirus.” CNN slams the president’s coronavirus task force for its “lack of diversity.” The Washington Post transcribes Democratic Party talking points when it suggests Vice President Mike Pence is incapable of overseeing the government’s efforts because he opposes needle-sharing programs. Among the reasons Trump is said to have weakened public health? He defunded Planned Parenthood.
The Democrats criticize Trump for budget cuts that never happened. Chuck Schumer plots a campaign to bash the president for a paltry supplemental request, only to have Trump say Congress can appropriate whatever it wants. Elizabeth Warren introduces a bill to “transfer all funding for @realDonaldTrump’s racist border wall” to coronavirus defense. Has she seen her doctor lately?
This isn’t a serious response. It’s a tantrum. There are plenty of additional things the Trump administration could do to prepare for an outbreak. My American Enterprise Institute colleague, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., has several recommendations, including allowing for more testing. What the media and Democrats offer instead are dispatches from Resistance Land—that magical place where the border is open, Medicare is for all, the New Deal is Green, and coronavirus isn’t the problem, Donald Trump is.
Knowledge of the physical universe has grown exponentially since 1918. So have the means by which we are able to express discontent, fear, blame, and unreason. Which is why I do have one prediction about the weeks ahead: Our politics will remain nasty, polarized, overheated, and dispiriting. Even as Mother Nature reminds us who’s really in charge.
Garden State Equality claims its curriculum is for the good and safety of vulnerable children. Its teachings, however, result in the exact opposite.
A little more than a year ago, the New Jersey Legislature passed, and Gov. Phil Murphy signed, a law mandating the teaching of LGBT subject matter in public school curriculum, beginning in 2020-21.
In response to the law, the activist group Garden State Equality has prepared a curriculum, currently piloted in 12 New Jersey schools and planned to be employed statewide in the fall. This is consistent with Murphy’s vision. At Garden State Equality’s 2019 Ball, he said, “I applaud Garden State Equality for not only leading this effort, but for your continued work in helping to craft this curriculum.”
Garden State Equality (GSE) is an LGBT advocacy organization devoted to instilling its vision of “justice” through an “LGBT lens” in society. Consistent with its vision, GSE’s self-described “LGBT-inclusive” curriculum spans all subjects — math, English, social studies, health, science, visual and performing arts, and world languages — beginning in fifth grade. Having New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students see the world through a LGBT lens is the goal in every class and, thus, now the goal of public education. This is well in excess of the curriculum law’s vague requirements.
In the way it is being implemented, the law is simply an instrument empowering GSE to accomplish its mission and vision, embedding sexual and gender ideology throughout curriculum. GSE envisions its curriculum “as a model that we can bring to every other state in the nation.”
A number of grassroots parent coalitions from across New Jersey, representing the state’s diversity, are raising awareness about and opposing the co-opting of public school curriculum for such ideological purposes. Historically, public schools have been the gateway to American society for immigrant families. But now, immigrant families all over New Jersey are deeply troubled and perplexed regarding the apparent goals of public education and the interests it serves.
New Jersey’s more than 600 school districts are not technically required to adopt GSE’s curriculum, although they are required to comply with the new state LGBT curriculum law. GSE is also substantially involved in drafting the New Jersey Department of Education’s “guidance” to schools about implementing the LGBT curriculum law. However, New Jersey school districts are not required to accept such state “guidance,” allowing districts to take a careful and educated approach to the curriculum law’s implementation.
The sexual and gender ideology advanced through GSE’s curriculum, and through its direct involvement in the state’s guidance to public schools, should be rejected by the boards of education of all New Jersey school districts for at least the following reasons.
The stated goal of sexual and gender ideology is to “get rid of the gender binary.” At public hearings concerning the school curriculum, advocates consistently characterize such a goal as a “must.”
We cannot get rid of the gender binary, however, as humans are a sexually dimorphic species. This reality can be denied, silenced, threatened, and punished. But it cannot be “rid of.” The existence of every person is proof of the union of what is uniquely male and uniquely female. While GSE may reject this most basic truth of humanity, it cannot eradicate it. And New Jersey public schools should not partner with its futile efforts to do so.
Beyond denying the gender binary, GSE insists a biological male who calls himself a woman is, in fact, a woman. If that’s the case, what is a woman? “Woman” becomes a word without meaning — as is the case when a biological female claims she’s a man. GSE’s ideology commands students to use such words. This does not educate, enlighten, or advance understanding. It mandates irrationality within school curriculum.
GSE claims its teachings are for the good and safety of vulnerable children. Those teachings, however, result in the exact opposite. GSE demands giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children, impeding the development of their bodies’ more than 37 trillion cells. It even demands the removal of healthy body parts, which is profoundly evil. These practices are the sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuse of children, manipulating their bodies to conform to an ideology.
Teaching and endorsing such practices doesn’t educate, but makes students vulnerable to abuse. I don’t use the words “abuse” and “evil” to be inflammatory, but because they fit the described practices. GSE doesn’t accept the right of anyone to impede the imposition of its will on children’s minds and bodies, preventing even parents from taking actions to protect their own children from abusive measures.
The sexual and gender ideology of GSE and like-minded advocates addresses the most basic questions of life and meaning concerning our humanity. It even has its own language and vocabulary, which it expects everyone to adopt. It is a totalizing and comprehensive belief system, which functions as a religion. Instituting compulsory teaching within public schools effectively establishes such ideology as a state religion.
One of its core convictions is intolerance for any dissent. It mars those who disagree with epithets, such as “haters” and “bigots,” applying these labels to many families and students within every school district in New Jersey who would dare express disagreement. These accusations even include parents who object to giving their own child the harmful drugs commanded by sexual and gender activists.
The ideology insists that every new word or idea must be affirmed. Acceptance of sexual and gender ideology renders a person defenseless to its demands. None of this carries educational value.
The Kelsey Coalition, formed in 2019 by “a group of concerned parents whose children have been harmed by transgender healthcare practices,” can serve as a resource to school districts, allowing them to make informed decisions for educating and protecting New Jersey students. As its website indicates, its membership now includes:
Surely, it would be highly immoral, unethical, and contrary to the educational and health interests of students not to inform them of the severe and irreparable harms that result from transgender physical interventions. Sexual and gender ideology pathologizes puberty, teaching that its suppression is a “treatment.” This article from an endocrinologist would educate students regarding life-altering effects on brain development, bone density, and sexual function, among other harms.
Regarding sex and gender, we are often warned against being on the “wrong side of history.” One day, the story will be told, and a chapter will cover what was done to children’s minds and bodies in the latter half of the 2010s into the 2020s. It will be included among the atrocities in the story of humanity’s inhumanity. It will be regarded with special horror because children will have been victimized in an impossible attempt to vindicate false adult beliefs and behaviors.
This historical moment provides an opportunity for every board of education member of every school district in New Jersey to be on the side of the story in which people courageously took a stand to protect children from such harms and horrors.
The global debate over climate change entered into a new and more dangerous stage this past week. Two American corporate icons, Microsoft and BlackRock, have committed themselves to resisting what they perceive as the unacceptable risks of global warming. Microsoft has announced that it will be “carbon negative by 2030,” and that by 2050 it will have removed from the environment all of its carbon emissions dating back to its founding. It has also pledged one billion dollars to a climate innovation fund to deal with global warming—peanuts for a firm with over $125 billion in annual revenues.
Not to be outdone, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets under management, has proudly declared through its Chairman and CEO Larry Fink that it will “place sustainability at the center of our investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; existing investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. . . .”
To Fink, there is no real conflict for his company between its social responsibility and its financial performance, as he is convinced that “incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision-making. . . can provide better risk-adjusted returns for investors.” Ironically, if that point were true, he would have no need to depart from traditional investment standards, as all firms would flock to the new BlackRock standard.
These powerful initiatives are driven by the proposition that climate change poses the greatest threat to humankind society has ever faced. Without any documentation or meaningful argument, Microsoft and Blackrock accept that the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere will result in elevated global temperatures. In making these statements, both companies write as if all the “world’s climate experts” within the “scientific community” speak with one voice in concluding that the release of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the industrial revolution is the source of this alleged mortal peril.
However, a close reading of these two corporate statements shows the dangers of consensus thinking around climate change, which can lead to lazy and incomplete arguments. The first issue concerns the supposed magnitude of the risk. It is clear that carbon dioxide levels have increased over time, especially over the past seventy or so years. But it is important to remember that the increase in temperatures began before the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 350 parts per million in 1987, a level which has, without justification, been posited as the tipping point for climate catastrophe. Notably, this means that much of the temperature increase over the past five decades took place in low carbon dioxide environments.
The Microsoft statement claims that “the average temperature on the planet has risen by 1 degree Celsius during the past 50 years and that carbon dioxide emissions have been a primary driver of this.” Yet that is at odds with a report from the NASA Earth Observatory which concluded “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming [0.53°C] has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” Indeed, the situation is even more complex because of the high degree of annual variability. As a result, much turns on the choice of the first and last year of the desirable interval. One recent study reported a decline of 0.16 Celsius between April 2018 and May 2019.
In any event, the explanation that carbon dioxide emissions are the sole driver of climate change is surely contestable, given that a complete account must also take into consideration population increases, solar flares, ocean currents and volcanic activity, among a vast array of other factors. The graphs included in Microsoft’s announcement duly record the huge increases in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 30 years, but those trends only weakly correlate to the modest temperature increases over that interval, including a sharp decline that extends as late as May 2019.
Thus the graph below for the 41 years from 1978 to May 2019 shows a net increase of just under 0.8 degrees centigrade. It is of course possible to present other data sets that might be susceptible to alternative interpretations, but either way, there is no rock-solid scientific consensus of the sort that Microsoft and BlackRock posit.
Microsoft and Blackrock’s presentations also suffer from other key defects. These corporate pledges assume that their proposed changes in carbon policy will reduce the increase in global temperatures, perhaps by as much as 1 degree Celsius. But what is missing from these projections is any estimate about either the financial costs of these innovations or their net impact on global temperature. If the sources of temperature changes are multi-causal, why should anyone believe that the ingenious efforts of companies like Microsoft to cleanse their supply chains of excess carbon dioxide will have more than a trivial effect on global temperatures, even if such actions are imitated by other firms?
And moreover, these effects could be totally undone if China or India decides to boost coal production in ways that more than offset any small reductions in carbon outputs by American firms. Thus, it is possible to spend billions of dollars on potential mitigation with little or nothing to show for it.
To make matters worse, there are better targets for intervention. The greatest causes of carbon dioxide emission in the past two years were the huge forest fires in Northern California and Australia. The recent California fires released about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide, or roughly the level of emissions needed to provide electricity for the state for an entire year. Taking effective steps to stop these consistent fires would dwarf anything that Microsoft can do through its supply chains or BlackRock through its sustainable investment policy. Nonetheless, A-list celebrities regularly champion the causes of global warming without once thinking about the dangerous management strategies adopted by the modern environmental movement that have contributed to such fires, a movement which opposes the removal of dead wood or the use of controlled burns to reduce fire risk. It would be far better for Microsoft and BlackRock to lobby for government reforms in forest management, a topic on which they remain silent.
Even supposing, however wrongly, that all the temperature increases and observed fires were exclusively attributable to carbon dioxide, the case for massive corporate intervention is still weak. BlackRock’s Larry Fink suggests with a straight face that the market for municipal bonds and home mortgages will collapse “if lenders can’t estimate the impact of climate risk over such a long timeline, and if there is no viable market for flood or fire insurance in impacted areas.”
Get real. These risks will exist whether or not Blackrock’s policies are implemented, and no matter what the carbon dioxide levels are. And the view that there should always be a viable market for flood or fire insurance ignores the huge moral hazard that is created when subsidized insurance is provided to persons who build too close to combustible forests or on coastal properties in hurricane zones.
Worse still, the fears that drive both BlackRock and Microsoft have not yet been observed over the past decade. Markets are supposed to price long-term risk into capital assets, but there is no sign that real estate, agricultural, insurance, or financial markets price this alleged climate risk in. Why is this, when our ability to forecast has never been better given the available quantitative estimates of climate-related risk?
One explanation is a recent study from climate scientists Giuseppe Formetta and Luc Feyen which concluded that: “Results show a clear decreasing trend in both human and economic vulnerability, with global average mortality and economic loss rates that have dropped by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively from 1980-1989 to 2007-2016. We further show a clearly negative relationship between vulnerability and wealth, which is strongest at the lowest income levels.” The study’s abundant graphs all show the same downward projections, whether one looks at floods, heat, cold or wind related damages. In other words, the historical decline of these various risks also have to be priced into any long-term financial instrument.
A similar attack on the BlackRock-Microsoft position was also launched by Marlo Lewis, whose thesis is contained in his title: “Warmest Decade – Climate Crisis Still a No Show.” In stark contrast to the data-free presentations of both companies, Lewis tracks the key worldwide indicators of long-term global health—life expectancy, crop yields, per capita income, and climate related deaths. His data tells the same story as the study—everything is better today than it has ever been. The increases in societal wealth accumulation have inured to the benefit of all, rich and poor alike.
The cavalier attitude toward any contrary scientific evidence has led Microsoft and BlackRock to endorse proposals that will do little, if anything, to stop global warming, but which will, if widely followed, reduce the ability of societies around the world to deal with global warming or any other climate calamity, should one occur. There are real social and human costs to following BlackRock and Microsoft’s lead.
The Glacier National Park is set to replace signs predicting glaciers would disappear by 2020 due to climate change. The glaciers remain.
The signs were posted in the Montana park a decade ago because, at the time, climate change forecasts predicted the glaciers would be completely melted by 2020. The U.S. Geological Survey told the park in 2017 that the glaciers were not melting as fast as predicted due to changes in the forecast model, but park spokeswoman Gina Kurzmen said the park was unable to change the signs until now due to budget constraints. Kurzmen told CNN the park changed one sign last year but is still waiting on budget authorization to update two other signs.
The new signs will still warn visitors that the glaciers are disappearing but won’t offer an expected deadline this time.
“When they will completely disappear depends on how and when we act. One thing is consistent: the glaciers in the park are shrinking,” the new signs will say.
This isn’t the first climate change prediction to not come to fruition. A report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute documented more than 50 years of what it calls “notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.” One prediction, reported by the Associated Press in 1989, claimed rising seas would “obliterate” nations by the year 2000. Just a few years earlier, headlines were warning about another ice age.
Mark Ruffalo may be most famous for his fictional portrayal of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner and his alter ego “The Hulk” in Marvel’s Avengers series, but he has recently been grabbing headlines for other reasons. Last month, Ruffalo made the news by submitting testimony in Congress based on his recent role in a largely fictionalized movie — Dark Waters — that is being portrayed as a “true story.”
While the media, Ruffalo, trial attorneys, and some politicians pretend that Dark Waters is a dramatization of a true story, its marketing materials merely claim it is “inspired by true events.” But it gets so many facts wrong, even that claim is hard to stand by.
Whether the movie is entertaining is a matter of personal preference. But whether the movie is an accurate portrayal of fact is not a matter of opinion. A movie is either factual and accurate, or it is not. The Avengers‘ movies are in my estimation entertaining. But they are not factual and shouldn’t be the basis of congressional action. Neither do we need the Hulk testifying in Congress. Dark Waters is not nearly as entertaining as the Avengers movies, but it is about as factual, so we really don’t need Mark Ruffalo testifying either.
The basic plot line of Dark Waters is that an evil, dark corporation knowingly and purposefully pollutes the water in a local community and an activist heroic trial attorney played by Ruffalo comes to the community’s rescue to force the evil corporation to take responsibility. The thrust of the movie is that corporate greed led to horrible excesses. Yet the movie itself appears to be an exercise in greed and excess. A network of well-financed trial attorneys, political activists and Hollywood nitwits have fabricated a story designed to support their political agenda, encourage ever more litigation, and make their greed appear altruistic and heroic. Trial lawyers and Hollywood shouldn’t be lecturing anyone about greed.
The movie portrays the Ohio River communities in West Virginia and Ohio in ways that promote false “hillbilly” stereotypes of locals being simple-minded and uneducated with rotting teeth. The fact is that the region is a manufacturing powerhouse and has a diverse economy with hundreds of thousands of proud, healthy, hardworking people.
Folks are not merely offended by the portrayals of locals as simpleton hillbillies with blackened and rotting teeth. Local legislators, people who would know the facts, have criticized the movie saying, “The film’s portrayal of Parkersburg does not reflect reality.” But it goes deeper than just that the film isn’t based in fact. Local legislators are concerned that Dark Waters will do “real damage to our economy and the hard-working people of the Mountain State.”
The movie falsely suggests that PFAS chemicals lead to deteriorated oral health and cause cancer. PFAS chemicals are used in firefighting foam and consumer products like non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing. Science does not establish that this is a cancer-causing agent. Nor has it found that it harms teeth. But asserting these things as if they were established fact, does make the movie more dramatic — just like the Hulk’s fictionalized strength makes the Avengers movies better.
Ruffalo’s trial lawyer character claims that “DuPont is knowingly poisoning 70,000 local residents.” This hysterical claim may make for a dramatic scene in a movie, but local leaders doubt its veracity. But it is useful to tell such lies when you’re trying to promote a political agenda and you’re committed to grotesque oversimplification of complex matters in hopes of creating a fact-free political narrative.
The movie is defended as an effort to educate and motivate Americans to take action and as a way to require accountability. But wouldn’t an accurate, fact-based portrayal be a better way to educate? How does one effectively educate with falsehoods?
Ohio River basin locals have asked “that those who profit off of fear-mongering and stereo typing [i.e. Ruffalo and other Hollywood nitwits and trial lawyers] be held accountable.” But that isn’t the sort of accountability that Ruffalo or trial attorney’s support.
No rational human being would suggest using the Avengers movies as the basis for congressional hearings. That’s why Tony Stark, Captain America, and Thor are not invited to testify. But sadly, ignorant Hollywood activists and trial attorneys — who see themselves as more intelligent and altruistic than other Americans — hope to use the mostly fictional Dark Waters movie to advance their fact-free political agenda, and shape and mold a more supportive public.
Hollywood is an entertainment industry. Ruffalo and other Hollywood activists seek to merge their political agendas with entertainment. The outcome is agenda motivated entertainment that creates distorted policy demands based in fantasy and an American public that is less informed and even misinformed because the agenda driven entertainment is such a distorted, largely fictionalized account. This is no way to make public policy.
A first in human history: Anxious about their future on a hotter planet and angry at world leaders for failing to arrest the crisis, masses of young people poured into the streets on every continent on Friday for a day of global climate protests. Organizers estimated the turnout to be around four million in thousands of cities and towns worldwide. (Somini Sengupta, New York Times, September 20, 2019) (Below: Youth March for Climate Change (New York City, Sept.20, 2019)
What is the motivating force which could impel such an amazing reaction of youngsters all over the world (except China)? Clearly, the threat of extinction is taken so seriously by so many youths that they felt compelled to participate in this effort. What has convinced so many in so many places simultaneously?
Apparently, it is the vision of the planet earth being baked into destruction by the sun’s rays. This vision seems to have originated from the speculations of climate scientists as interpreted and simplified by activists. Cold, neutral, formulaic science has never elicited such emotional reactions. Those ideas had to be interpreted and simplified by propagandists. Eventually, the vision emerged with its dramatic impact and its ability to inspire visceral fear. It is this vision which has motivated a youthful passion which thirsts for a cause to believe in.
In that sense, climate change advocacy demonstrates many of the same characteristics as religion. It is an unquestioning belief in an unseen event; it inspires an ethic requiring sacrifice to achieve; and it thrives on communal events. Thus, it meets the traditional characteristics of religion: creed, code, and cult.
This phenomenon also raises the question, “Why are these folks (young and old) so open to a new religion?” Why are they not dedicated to the traditional religions of their elders? Or, more concretely, why has the Western world witnessed such a precipitous decline of traditional religious practice in recent generations?
The answer to these questions lies in the disconnect between the common life experience of our modern culture and the world view of traditional religions. As one way of approaching this topic, we might look at the differences in the epistemology (the way of understanding) between what religion teaches us compared to that of our everyday life.
Traditionally, religion proclaims that another invisible world exists in addition to this visible world. The invisible world is better than this world. This vision has brought comfort and peace to many millions of people through the ages. It has served as a reason for us to behave in certain ways which are conducive to the common good and it has given us hope to reach heaven and eternal peace when we die.
Common life experience in the 21st century exhibits a quite different vision. First of all, we live in a world of constant discovery. While many aspects of this world are invisible, such as thoughts and emotions and happiness, it is also true that our science is based on the presumption that all reality is ultimately physical, even if it is too small to be seen (atoms), too large to be understood (the universe), or discoverable only through its effect on things that can be measured (neutrons). As a culture, we have come to believe that all reality is knowable, even if we don’t yet know it. We keep learning new things all the time, only to discover more things we don’t know. Nevertheless, the thrill of learning is one of our cultural goals.
It is the task of the theologians to conceptualize and explain the spiritual dimensions of our human experience and the connections between our life experience and our traditional beliefs. It appears that today’s theologians are asleep at the switch. Our culture cries out for an ethic which takes the world we live in much more seriously than does traditional religion. To achieve that ethic, a new vision must be developed – one which understands the beauty of the universe, the world we live in, the body we have been given, and the ways in which this visible world must be treated in order for us to achieve happiness and satisfaction in our interactions with this world, our community and ourselves.
In such a vision, we see technology as an extension of our body – machines to take us farther and faster than our legs could carry us, to make our minds more agile, our imaginations more original, our views more expansive. We see our love extended to other races and places beyond our natural limits, our talents challenged by new plateaus, and our world enriched by the newness of our life on earth. This is a vision which will allow us to seek the transcendent meaning of life as the sum of all the good and evil we can see with our sharpened insights and to find our personal path to virtue, happiness and holiness.
As our lives are enriched by the colors and textures of this world which God has provided for us, we are also confronted with new responsibilities and obligations. which have been ignored in the past, to maintain that world. Some examples: while the absolute need for cheap and plentiful energy is granted, how do we justify digging coal at the risk of black lung disease for the miners? How do we justify burying nuclear waste which will take 3000 years to dissipate? How do we preserve our planet’s suitability for human life? How do we balance the harm of nuclear weapons against the cost in human life? What do we owe to trees and wildlife? And, what are the ethical norms by which we are to measure such answers?
Religion, like life itself, must evolve to meet the very real spiritual needs of real people. If organized religions fail in this fundamental obligation, people will substitute whatever they can find in order to satisfy the primal need we all share for spiritual nourishment – even if it is as flimsy as climate change.
For us tail-end baby boomers, it’s probably true our view of what life might be like now was influenced by the “Back to the Future” series. Watching ‘Doc’ Brown and Marty travel just a few decades forward in time to a place where the Cubbies won the World Series, hoverboards were ubiquitous, and sneakers laced themselves seemed so wonderfully realistic we believed it was possible.
To be sure, some of the things depicted in “Back to the Future II” did come to pass. The Cubs did win a World Series – though not in the year predicted in the film. And technology has brought about other changes that, while not exactly like what was seen on screen, come close enough for government work that filmmakers Bob Zemeckis and Stephen Spielberg deserve a pat on the back for the visionary insight into how things might be.
One thing they got wrong was the whole business of flying cars. In the movie, they seemed to be standard transportation. In reality, they are just as tethered to the nation’s highways and byways as ever, with most of the innovations going toward fuel economy and alternative power plants. The idea of the airborne vehicle just never got off the ground.
Innovation, especially in the wireless sector, makes up for some of the disappointment. Surprisingly though, the intersection of communications technology and the automotive industry has not developed in the way people thought it might 20 years ago. That’s when the Federal Communications Commission established technology-specific rules for what it called “Dedicated Short Range Communications” in the 5.9 GHz band, reserving the space to allow cars, as it was put at the time, “to talk to one another” and to develop safety-related technologies.
A worthwhile effort to be sure, but other than a few heavily subsidized pilot projects that seem to hold little promise, there hasn’t been much movement toward the original vision, especially in the area of auto safety. At the same time, automakers have used other parts of the spectrum not reserved for these purposes to produce tremendous advances popular with consumers (like radar) and are using non-spectrum dependent tech like lidar, sensors, and cameras. Moreover, new auto communications technologies like CV2X want to access the 5.9 GHz band but can’t under the current rules that allow only for the original DSRC.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who deserves great credit for keeping adaptations to the Internet from being slowed by bureaucratic impulses, is poised to break the logjam. Rather than allow for the 5.9 GHz band to continue to go unused, he’s apparently ready to engage in rulemaking that would carve off the lower end of the band for additional wireless broadband use, while preserving the upper reaches for future automotive safety needs.
Putting new Wi-Fi in 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band will create the country’s first contiguous 160 MHz channel, something that is critical to the deployment of next-generation Wi-Fi 6, which is expected to bring gigabit and high-capacity Wi-Fi to American consumers. The unlicensed spectrum available in this area can be used to support 5G deployment. Cisco reportedly expects 71 percent of 5G mobile data will be offloaded to Wi-Fi by 2022 – meaning current unlicensed spectrum resources will be insufficient to keep up with the changes.
It’s an excellent compromise, one that leaves the door open to future developments while recognizing the need for new broadband spectrum that exists today. In the two decades since the DSRC allocation, Wi-Fi has become a core communications technology relied upon in homes, businesses, factories, airports, and hospitals across the globe. It contributes more than $525 billion to the U.S. economy on an annual basis.
It’s earned the opportunity to expand even further.
An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
I am not a scientist. I have no scientific background beyond what I’ve picked up from reading things written by and about actual scientists. So I am, therefore, in no position to critique any scientific theory as a theory.
That said, I am a skeptic when it comes to climate change. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the climate changes — obviously it does. I don’t doubt that human activity has an effect on this change. What that effect is, and to what extent it influences the entire system, I don’t know. As a scientific concept, I have no opinion on climate change.
But it isn’t just a scientific concept. It is a political issue, and that is what I am skeptical of.
You see, I can’t judge from what I don’t know (e.g., climate science), but I can judge from what I do know. I know something of history, something of philosophy, and something of human nature. I can observe what people are doing at the moment and listen to what they actually say.
Doing so, I note that the vast majority of people, including the cause’s most vehement advocates, are no more qualified to judge it scientifically than I am. Does anyone really believe that any of those people marching in Washington have the knowledge and ability to interpret data from a global climate survey? Have they sunk the necessary hours of study and objective research into this subject to be able to say what they say with any certainty, assuming they could ever be certain?
Of course they haven’t. They are going entirely off of what certain experts have told them — namely, a specific selection of experts who have come to their attention because the media has elevated them and political groups have championed and funded them. These climate change apologists are in no position to critically examine these expert claims.
Now, if there is, for instance, a genuine international crisis (e.g., Venezuela), then people have resources to verify it. They can read testimonies and see photos and video of the event, and in the last resort, they can go there to see for themselves. If it is a question of domestic policy, people can consider their own experience and knowledge to judge which approach to, say, taxation seems to be the best.
People cannot do this with climate change. The signs of the crisis come down to weather and to intensely complex reams of data that require specialized knowledge to interpret. The latter is out of reach for almost everyone. The former could be used to justify just about any theory since it is a proverb for unpredictability and changeableness.
If you tell people the earth is getting warmer, they will remember all those hot summer days and snowless winters they experienced and say that warming is very likely. If you tell them it is getting cooler, they will remember the mild summer days and bitter winter nights and say cooling is also very likely.
The fact is, the average voter has no way to adequately judge the question of climate change. Yet he is assured that it is an existential crisis that must be dealt with immediately and by any means necessary. Politicians and media activists are thus urging him to favor certain actions to combat a crisis that he has no way to verify. Worse, this message tends to be directed toward impressionable young people — that is, those with the highest emotions and the least ability to examine these claims.
That is an extremely dangerous state of affairs for a representative government.
This ties in with the fact that climate change activists and experts do not act like they are talking about science. As I say, I am no expert, but I do know enough of the subject to know that in science you have to take everything into account, especially anything that seems to tell against your theory. Science is never exactly “settled” because new instruments or new techniques could always present new observations that don’t fit with the common view. This is what happened with the heliocentric theory, Newtonian physics, genetics, and with every other major scientific breakthrough.
So when I see scientists and media personalities talking about “climate change denial,” as if it were a mental illness, accusing those who are skeptical of their theories of being in the pay of oil companies or otherwise arguing in bad faith (overlooking their own government grants and celebrity status in the process, I might add), and inflatingthe numbers of those who agree with them, it looks highly suspicious. This is not how responsible scientists or politicians behave.
Then there is the proposed solution. There never seems to be a technical solution — for instance, if the Earth’s atmosphere is being flooded with carbon dioxide, perhaps we could find a way to release quantities of a gas that might dilute the greenhouse effect. Much less is there a question of whether a warmer climate might have a net-positive effect, or at least be a manageable problem. No, it’s all certain doom within our lifetime unless we adopt tighter state control. More recently, climate change advocates have been openly calling for socialism as the panacea to the Earth’s ills.
In other words, the proposed solution to what we are told is an existential crisis is, conveniently, to give more power to the very same people who are informing us that this crisis exists.
Finally, since the average voter cannot verify that the crisis exists, he also could never say when the crisis was over. The same people who tell you it exists, who assure you that everyone who denies it is simply ignorant or evil, are also the only ones who could tell you when or if the crisis were ever solved and what must be done to solve it. An ambiguous, unverifiable crisis that only the state has the means or authority to combat is a blank check to power.
So, simply put, I am a climate change skeptic because the people advocating it do not act as if it were a verified scientific conclusion. They act as if it were a political expedient at best and a pseudo religion at worst. They tarnish and dismiss anyone who opposes them, fill impressionable young people with images of immanent doom caused by their political and social enemies, and use this cause to justify grabbing more and more power.
While I may not be able to say what the climate is doing, I can say what climate activists are doing, and from that, I can judge that they should be kept as far away from positions of power as humanly possible. We haven’t seen what happens when the ice caps melt, but we have seen what happens when demagogues claiming to protect against an endless and ambiguous crisis get into positions of power, and it never ends well.
We're seeing sexualized dances, hallucinogens, worshiping nature, confessing sins in pagan animism, worshiping purified teen saints, all to promote a supposedly greater cause.
Lynn Townsend White Jr., an American historian from Princeton, wrote an influential essay in 1967, at the height of the cultural revolution in Western campuses, arguing that Christianity and Judeo-Christian values are responsible for ecological disaster and climate change. The essay, naturally, was adapted by generations after, ironically almost like a document of faith.
The central argument went like this. White argued, “The victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture. … By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.”
, and fear — didn’t just go away but manifested in various other pre-civilized tribal ways. For example, a liberal seminary encouraged its students to skip classes to pray and confess sins in front of potted plants. In Switzerland, 250 people in full funereal garb mourned the apparent approaching death of a glacier.
That is why members of “Extinction Rebellion” do what they do. Extinction Rebellion is an apocalyptic cult that wants to radically end every thing around you, from your private cars to the burgers you eat and the plastic chairs in your yard. It is a cult that was formed after its founder took psychedelic drugs and prayed for “social change.” Members have blocked D.C. and London intersections, “twerking” the way people in a pre-civilized era would perform a fertility dance to pray to Gaia.
And then there’s Saint Greta, our perpetual teen of sorrow. I have been comparing her worship to Joan of Arc ever since she was invited to the British Parliament, the birthplace of modern democracy. She was surrounded by buffoons nodding their heads like they were listening to gospel truth.
Lads, I hesitate to take credit for my predictions…I am magnanimous and noble like that…but this entire Joan of Arc thingy…you guys read it here, first.
“Climate Apocalypticism” is simply a paganist religion, with its own saints, sinners, and providential end.
I wrote about her long before the new woke-capital fanatics adopted her as a pawn. In a recent speech to the U.N., while clearly having an emotional meltdown, she told assorted leaders, voice trembling, that they have failed the children and history wouldn’t be kind. The “gatekeepers” immediately hailed her as a brave savior as well as a vulnerable, autistic teen who shouldn’t be bullied.
So, there you have it. Sexualized dances, psychedelic hallucinogens, worshiping nature, confessing sins in pagan animism, worshiping purified teen saints, and throwing them up on an altar, bereft of their childhood, to promote a greater cause. Add to that witches hexing Brett Kavanaugh, and having an Ouija board to invoke the spirit of Karl Marx, and everything old is new again.
The reality is, of course, completely different. Much less than destroying the planet, climate change isn’t even a settled science. Conservatives don’t disagree that climate is changing. That is a straw man. Conservatives, however, are opposed to hysteria, have skepticism about the rate of the climate change, and would like to see an actual cost-benefit analysis of the radical changes being demanded.
More important than that, conservatives understand that climate change is cynically used by a certain section of people to justify their political goals of steering the West away from its way of life, a way they perceive to be evil and harmful, hetero-patriarchal, and capitalist. How? Appealing to the faith-based part of human brains, the need for subservience, and propping up children as human shields.
Consider a new letter by more than 500 scientists, which the mainstream media completely ignored. It urges the United Nations to have an open debate between scientists from both sides of the argument and states there’s “no climate emergency.” The report goes on to say, among other things:
The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate; Climate policy relies on inadequate models; More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth; There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent; There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050.
In short, everything you’re being told is wrong or flawed, and you’re a chump who is being taken for a ride.
For all the Marxists’ faults, the old left at least wanted to conquer nature instead of turning subservient to it. Of course, that went to its own extremes, but one can imagine Joseph Stalin putting all twerking climate fanatics as mentally ill people in a forced labor camp to build railroads in Siberia. The current Chinese government, likewise, gives two hoots about climate change, and for all the bravery of Green Peace and St. Greta, there’s nothing they can do about China burning more coal than the rest of humanity combined.
The modern left is a combination of two of the worst impulses in human history. First are the ultra-privileged bourgeoisie, which, having lost their old Judeo-Christian faith, are instinctively attracted to pre-civilized rituals, from overt sexuality to fewer familial ties. Consider Late Roman public orgies, and you get an idea. At the same time, human minds feel a gaping void that still needs to be filled by an alternate faith. It is in that intersection where this occultist, apocalyptic climate paganism comes from. It gives some privileged people a noble purpose.
As French philosopher Pascal Bruckner wrote in his book “The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings,” the current movement has all the trappings of a religion: saints, sinners, a providential end, apocalyptic fear, punishment, and penance. It appears Emperor Constantine’s children clearly failed to civilize their future generations. The pagan barbarians from the north are back circling outside the citadel.
Radical environmentalists are mounting a two-pronged attack on free markets and human enterprise. The first is “nature rights,” which would allow anyone to sue to stop any significant use of the land or extraction of resources as violating “nature’s” supposed “right” to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” Think of “nature rights” as a “shield” against large scale enterprise.
Lesser known, but even more potentially dangerous to human thriving, is the “ecocide” movement. Ecocide would criminalize enterprise that extracts natural resources or makes widespread use of the land, as a “crime against peace,” deemed an equivalent evil to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Think of “ecocide” as a “spear” that punishes large scale enterprise.
Here’s the general definition of ecocide:
Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.
Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” is a very broad term, intended to include everything from grass, fish, and insects to mice, snakes, and people. And diminishment of “peaceful enjoyment” would not require actual pollution, but could mean a declining supply of forage or a loss of foliage caused by almost any use of the land, perhaps even simple urban or suburban growth.
Advocacy for ecocide has now gone mainstream, making the august pages of the New York Times. Using the fires in the Amazon as pretext, the Times’ Brazil bureau chief Ernesto Londoño, pushes the idea that Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, should be hauled before The Hague to stand trial for ecocide. From the analysis piece:
There is no international crime today that can be used to neatly hold world leaders or corporate chief executives criminally responsible in peacetime for ecological catastrophes that result in the type of mass displacements and population wipeouts more commonly associated with war crimes. But environmentalists say the world should treat ecocide as a crime against humanity — like genocide — now that the imminent and long-term threats posed by a warming planet are coming into sharper focus.
In Mr. Bolsonaro they have come to see something of an ideal villain tailor-made for a legal test case.
It is worth noting that there are no voices in Londoño’s piece critical of ecocide advocacy.
It is my understanding that the Amazon fires do not mostly involve old growth forest, but rather, lands that have already been converted to farming. Whether that is true or not, should a duly elected president of a sovereign nation be hauled before the Hague and face criminal charges because environmentalists disagree with his country’s environmental and development policies legally enacted by that president or country?
If so, China’s leader Xi Jinping had better watch his back. I mean, have you ever breathed the air in Beijing?
Oh, Wesley, who are you kidding? Communists aren’t about to be targeted by radical environmentalists.
Besides, ecocide isn’t about punishing potential environmental catastrophes such as the Amazon fires. That is just a pretext. The actual goal is thwarting enterprise and opposing capitalism.
Want evidence? Ecocide campaigners’ chief villains heretofore have been corporate CEOs, whose supposed crimes have been to extract oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Indeed, in a mock trial held in the chambers of the English Supreme Court, hypothetical corporate tar sand CEOs were imprisoned for extracting oil from the fields.
Further demonstrating the real game this is afoot, Londoño foresees President Trump as a splendid candidate for ecocide imprisonment because he has thwarted mainstream environmentalist policies:
Mr. Bolsonaro is by no means the only world leader reviled by environmentalists. President Trump has been assailed for rolling back environmental regulations and pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
See what I mean about the Amazon fires being a pretext?
Radical environmentalists intend to thwart human thriving in order to “save the planet.” As “nature rights” advances — four rivers have now been granted human-type rights — look for campaigners to push hard to make “ecocide” an international crime. If they succeed, the world will face a substantially less prosperous future.
Reporters have a responsibility to challenge the assumptions and exaggerations of activists.
Last weekend, the former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University, Dr. Allen Frances, claimed that Donald Trump “may be responsible for many more million deaths” than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong combined. Frances, author of the fittingly titled “Twilight of American Sanity,” would later clarify by tweeting that he was talking about the “[t]errible damage Trump is doing to world climate at this global warming tipping point may be irreversable/could kill hundreds of millions of people in the coming decades.”
That’s quite the bold statement, considering the hefty death toll the Big Three extracted. But, really, it isn’t that shocking to hear. Frances’ pseudohistoric twaddle comports well with the pseudoscientific twaddle that’s been normalized in political discourse. Every year Democrats ratchet up the doomsday scenarios, so we should expect related political rhetoric to become correspondingly unhinged.
All of this is a manifestation of 50 years of scaremongering on climate change. Paul Ehrlich famously promised that “hundreds of millions of people” would “starve to death,” while in the real world we saw hunger precipitously drop, and the world become increasingly cleaner. Yet, neo-Malthusians keep coming back with fresh iterations of the same hysteria, ignoring mankind’s ability to adapt.
At a 2005 London conference of “concerned climate scientists and politicians” that helped launch contemporary climate rhetoric, attendees warned that the world had as little as 10 years before the Earth reached “the point of no return on global warming.” Humans, they claimed, would soon be grappling with “widespread agricultural failure,” “major droughts,” “increased disease,” “the death of forests,” and the “switching-off of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream,” among many other calamities.
Since then, the Earth has gotten greener. This year, for the first time since we began logging data in 2000, there were no “extreme” or “exceptional” droughts across the contiguous United States—although we’ve come close to zero on numerous occasions over the past decade. Every time there’s a drought anywhere in the world, climate change will be blamed. But world crop yields continue to ensure that fewer people are hungry than ever. I’m not a scientist, but I assume the North Atlantic Gulf Stream is still with us.
It doesn’t matter. Four years after the last point of no return was reached, the noted naturalist David Attenborough warned the world at a United Nations climate change summit that “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Climate change is always an extinction-level event. When the Democratic National Committee rejected counterproductive single-issue debates this week (climate change being the most notable), a member complained, “If an asteroid was coming to Earth, there would be no question about having a debate about it, but with this existential crisis facing the world, we all sit and wring our hands.” This is how a lot of Democrats speak. They are never challenged.
And if you truly believe a slight variation in climate is comparable to an asteroid barreling towards the Earth—and if we trust their rhetoric, every Democrat presidential candidate does—why wouldn’t you support the authoritarian policy proposals of the Green New Deal?
And why wouldn’t you accuse those who oppose more solar panel subsidies and tax hikes of being mass murderers? Why wouldn’t you celebrate the death of philanthropists like David Koch? These people are literally “spinning us all toward environmental doom.”
On climate change, you can say virtually anything, and no one will challenge your zealotry.
Recently I noticed that CNN, where Frances accused the president of being the worst mass murderer in history without any pushback, refers to “climate change” as the “climate crisis” in news stories—which is editorializing, not reporting.
If journalists did their jobs, they would contest some of the assumptions and exaggerations that have now congealed as “crisis” in their newsrooms. Not necessarily the science, but the predictive abilities of scientists or the hyperbolic statements of politicians. But how can any reporter be skeptical of anyone when news organizations have already conceded that what they’re covering is a “crisis?” It would be an apostasy. Chuck Todd won’t give any airtime to “deniers,” but he’ll open his show any Chicken Little who can get elected.
Not long ago, candidates and mainstream media outlets like CNN were acting as if floods in the Midwest were an unprecedented environmental disaster. In reality, deaths from extreme weather have dropped somewhere around 99.9 percent since the 1920s. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and extreme temperatures can still be killers, but thanks to increasingly affordable fossil-fueled heating and air-conditioning systems, safer buildings, and better warning systems—among other technological advances—the vast majority of Americans will never have to fear weather in any genuine way.
Put it this way: Since 1980, death caused by all natural disasters and heat and cold is well under 0.5 percent of the total.
Yet, never, to my recollection, has a mainstream reporter asked an environmental activist why, if the world is headed towards Armageddon, humans are better off now than they were 50 years ago, or 20 years ago or 10 years ago? Climate change is supposedly in full swing, yet fewer people are hungry, fewer people are displaced, and we have to fight fewer wars over resources. Extreme poverty has steeply dropped over the past 30 years. There is no evidence that this trajectory is about to change.
Worse, instead of conveying this good news, the media keeps cherrypicking problems without any context. They’ve convinced large swaths of young Americans that everything is getting worse, when the opposite is true.
Nearly every day, I read some new chilling climate change story. “Climate Change Is Driving An Increase In A Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria And Spreading It To New Areas,” says BuzzFeed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of reported cases of the “Vibrio” illness has more than tripled since 1997, from 386 to 1,256 in 201. The same day I read about the Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria, I read, in far less dramatic terms, about a new pill that researchers believe might be able to prevent a third of all heart attacks and strokes, potentially saving millions of lives.
Or take The Washington Post, which recently offered a beautifully packaged article written by a long-time environmental activist turned “reporter.” It cobbled together stories of suffering under climate change. What it failed to point out is that the vast majority of Americans rely on cheap energy and will never have to alter our lifestyles because of the climate—other than perhaps using air conditioning a few extra days.
We’re going to have to learn to deal with Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria, because the billions of people who once lived (and live) in disease-ridden areas in the developing world will want heart pills and cars and air conditioners. No sane nation is going to run its economy on expensive and unproductive energy sources.
Some people will argue that the failure of previous scares to materialize doesn’t mean this one isn’t real. Some people will argue human adaptation doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening. Of course not. But adaptation is the point.
The story of humankind is one of acclimatization. We use technological advances and efficiencies to deal with change. We will adapt to organic and anthropogenic changes, as we always do, because it’s a lot cheaper than dismantling modernity. That’s the reality, no matter how hysterical activists get on TV.
We have been witnessing unprecedented innovations in medical treatments. In the coming years new drug therapies promise to provide solutions for some of the most pressing diseases — diabetes, cancer, heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, retinal diseases — to name only a few. But if People for the “Ethical” Treatment of Animals (PETA) gets their way, most of the research that feeds the amazing future cures that we read about will be shut down or severely curtailed.
For the past few years PETA has undertaken a pressure campaign designed to intimidate airlines from transporting medical research animals. Even though it is illegal for the airlines to refuse to perform service, the campaign is proving successful in certain cases and a widespread adoption of this policy would likely stymie medical innovation.
PETA opposes all forms of animal testing despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health views such research as required by ethics and essential to finding cures. Scientists and researchers do as much research as possible with computer modeling and peer reviewed science, but at some point they must test the most promising medicines on living organisms. For example, pigs were used to develop both the ability to transplant a heart and the drugs that stop the body from rejecting the new heart. It was done ethically, with rigorous standards and oversight, and with anesthetics so as to eliminate pain for the animals involved. But PETA ignores all of this and labels these critical experiments the same as torture.
There are places were there is no animal testing. For example, in China, they test procedures and new products on humans who are prisoners of the state. So effectively, humans become the lab rats. That isn’t an improvement in ethics.
PETA’s real agenda is profoundly anti-human. PETA president and co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk admitted as much stating that: “Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS [or cancer or other horrible diseases], we’d be against it.”
When Hamas terrorists used flaming falcons and exploding donkeys to kill Israeli civilians, PETA under political pressure denounced Hamas — but only for harming and killing the animals — not for endangering or harming the school children in the way of these living weapons. This lack of concern for people is truly disturbing.
PETA’s supporters have filed comments with the Department of Transportation hoping to shut down any medical research with animals. One comment simply said: “Stop experimenting on animals. Experiment on your children and mothers instead.” Then with absolutely no sense of irony, this commenter also accused those who reject the idea of using children and mothers in medical research of being “a bunch of barbarians.” Let that sink in.
But PETA’s track record on animals isn’t so great either. For example, in Virginia, PETA activists were charged for criminal animal abuse. Then there is the PETA animal shelter kill rate from 2007-2017 — a full decade — which averaged 95.3 percent. Simply stated animals that were intended for adoptions were abused and then killed in 95% of the cases by an organization supposedly promoting the ethical treatment of animals. A PETA spokesperson quipped, “there are fates worse than euthanasia.”
The ends to which this organization will go to supposedly defend the interests of animals knows no bounds. PETA led the move to change the packaging of animal crackers that used to show cartoon circus animals in carton railcar cages. Thanks to PETA, the carton animals now roam free on the African Savannah. I’m sure we can all feel better than cartoon lions and elephants now roam a cartoon grassland.
Sadly, as silly as that effort was, far more serious is the mounting public relations campaign PETA is waging to pressure airlines to refuse to transport animals (below deck in climate controlled areas of the plane) that will be used in medical research. To date, United Airlines has caved to PETA’s pressure campaign. What’s so strange is that United’s CEO, Carlos Munoz, is alive today because he had a heart transplant that was made possible because of medical animal research.
Here’s some context — airlines often allow passengers to bring comfort pets to travel by their side — dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, peacocks, ducks, roosters, turkeys, and even kangaroos and miniature horses. This inconveniences other passengers and in some cases causes severe health problems for other passengers. On the other hand airlines are caving to PETA’s pressure campaign and refusing to transport animals used in ethical, humane & government mandated testing of new cures. These animals will not inconvenience or endanger any passengers. But this is the weird world you get when the lunatics run the asylum.
Airlines win kudos for donating flights to children in need of cancer treatment at specialized medical centers far from their home. At the same time, some airlines refuse to transport research animals and make it more difficult to develop the very cures and medicines needed to cure these sick children.
It is illegal for the airlines to discriminate against transportation of animals for research purposes. Public carriers have long been prohibited from discriminating when it comes to transportation. Non-discrimination laws for airlines do not simply prevent racial discrimination. The law also prevents an airline from transporting animals for zoos, or vacationing passengers, or as comfort animals, and then refusing to transport similar animals to be used in lawful and ethical medical research.
The law is clear — if the airline is willing to ship one woman’s dog or cat, it must also ship other similar animals being transported even if for different purposes — including medical research. Airlines have no real basis for objecting because they are paid to transport them, and these animals actually have no impact on their passengers as they would be shipped below the passenger compartment.
But because they are fearful of the bad press of PETA’s false claims of animal torture, Airlines give in. We all love pets and animals. But who wants to be slimmed by PETA as the equivalent of a war criminal for trying develop heart translate procedures and medicines or for curing cancer?
We need the Department of Transportation to enforce the law. We wouldn’t tolerate an airline discriminating against a racial or ethnic group and we shouldn’t tolerate this form of discrimination either. The lives of countless millions depend on the cures and medicines that are being developed in careful, thoughtful and ethical ways.
Global Hot Air: Here’s a United Nations climate report that environmentalists probably don’t want anybody to read. It says that even if every country abides by the grand promises they made last year in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases, the planet would still be “doomed.”
When President Obama hitched America to the Paris accords in 2016, he declared that it was “the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.” And when Trump pulled out of the deal this year, he was berated by legions of environmentalists for killing it.
But it turns out that the Paris accord was little more than a sham that will do nothing to “save the planet.”
According to the latest annual UN report on the “emissions gap,” the Paris agreement will provide only a third of the cuts in greenhouse gas that environmentalists claim is needed to prevent catastrophic warming. If every country involved in those accords abides by their pledges between now and 2030 — which is a dubious proposition — temperatures will still rise by 3 degrees Celsius by 2100. The goal of the Paris agreement was to keep the global temperature increase to under 2 degrees.
Eric Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment Program, which produces the annual report, said this week that “One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future. Governments, the private sector and civil society must bridge this catastrophic climate gap.”
The report says unless global greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2020, the CO2 levels will be way above the goal set for 2030, which, it goes on, will make it “extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2 degrees C can still be reached.”
Not to worry. The UN claims that closing this gap will be easy enough, if nations set their collective minds to it.
But this is a fantasy. The list of what would need to be done by 2020 — a little over two years from now — includes: Boosting renewable energy’s share to 30%. Pushing electric cars to 15% of new car sales, up from less than 1% today. Doubling mass transit use. Cutting air travel CO2 emissions by 20%. And coming up with $1 trillion for “climate action.”
Oh, and coal-fired power plants would have to be phased out worldwide, starting now.
According to the report, “phasing out coal consumption … is an indispensable condition for achieving international climate change targets.” That means putting a halt to any new coal plants while starting to phase out the ones currently in use.
Good luck with that. There are currently 273 gigawatts of coal capacity under construction around the world, and another 570 gigawatts in the pipeline, the UN says. That would represent a 42% increase in global energy production from coal. Does anyone really think developing countries who need coal as a cheap source of fuel to grow their economies will suddenly call it quits?
So, does this mean the planet is doomed? Hardly. As we have noted in this space many times, all those forecasts of global catastrophe are based on computer models that have been unreliable predictors of warming. And all of the horror stories assume the worst.
What the report does make clear, however, is that all the posturing by government leaders in Paris was just that. Posturing. None of these countries intended to take the drastic and economically catastrophic steps environmentalist claim are needed to prevent a climate change doomsday. As such, Trump was right to stop pretending.
Whether you believe in climate change or not, the Paris climate accord amounted to nothing, or pretty close to it. Even the UN admits that now.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing has opened a wide-ranging conversation about America’s space exploration program. I remember being a young boy and watching with fascination as rockets in the Apollo program lifted off from Cape Canaveral and as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made that giant leap for mankind on the surface of the moon. President John F. Kennedy never got to see the lunar landing, but he set the nation’s sights on the moon and helped establish America’s preeminence in space.
Sadly, by the end of the George W. Bush Administration and during the entirety of Barack Obama’s Administration, America’s space exploration program was all but shut down. Something like that can escape notice for a while, but eventually, the impact will become obvious. Imagine if the Soviets had won the space race! A great deal more than national pride is at risk.
It is high time America reassert its leadership in space. Leaving the cosmos to China would be a catastrophic mistake. The technological, economic, and national security implications are important and very real. To simply cede these matters to China would harm not only the United States, but the rest of the world. The communist Chinese intend to dominate militarily and would love for us to cede this arena to them.
Fortunately, President Donald Trump sees space as an important frontier. Early in our nation’s history, President Thomas Jefferson launched a major exploration of the western half of the North American continent. President Kennedy set in motion America’s successful Apollo 11 lunar landing. Now, President Trump is pushing America towards Mars.
On July 4, earlier this year, President Trump said, “I want you to know that we are going to be back on the moon very soon, and someday soon we will plant the American flag on Mars.” That is a worthy objective and a worthwhile goal!
Landing on Mars and returning safely home again will happen as we reestablish the capability to safely return to the moon. A round trip to Mars is about 18 months. The safety issues are exponentially more complicated than a lunar landing. There is no returning half way once headed to the Red Planet. But once we conquer these challenges, we will again be the clear and undisputed leader in technology and space exploration. That will include valuable economic benefits, obvious technological advancements, and significant national security advantages.
This is a mission worthy of a new generation of American children who dream of becoming astronauts, scientists, and engineers. But there are those who hope to demote NASA into a space agency with small dreams and mundane goals.
For example, Lori Garver, Obama’s NASA Deputy Administrator from 2009 to 2013, has recently wrote an article in the Washington Post arguing that NASA should nix plans to go to Mars and instead make its budget available for more climate science research — something that nearly every other federal agency puts plenty of money towards. According to OMB, the federal government has 19 agencies that funded climate change research to the tune of $13.2 billion in 2017 alone. But Garver sees NASA’s budget and she covets its less than 1/2 of one percent of federal spending. She wants to raid NASA’s budget to fund her own priorities — even more climate change research.
We should all be glad that Garver and her ilk were not around in the 1960’s when President Kennedy was inspiring America to aim for the moon. America needs, and will benefit from, a serious space exploration program.
But people like Ms. Garver are not the only impediment to America’s resurgence into deep space exploration. Newt Gingrich, while supportive of President Trump’s plans to go to Mars, has been advocating for policies that run counter to that goal.
Over the last few years the former Speaker of the House has repeatedly boosted Elon Musk and SpaceX as the future of space travel. From a flurry of tweets lauding the company and its founder, to a series of op-eds, including one where he encourages the government to take on “the role of an investor” in SpaceX, the policies he advocates for in the opinion pages and on social media appear to align with the company’s agenda.
Unfortunately the SpaceX agenda is mostly about getting special concessions and huge subsidies even when it fails to meet contractual benchmarks. While Musk’s prowess in space is questionable, he is a master at public relations campaigns designed to portray him as a forward thinking innovator. But the truth is, Musk is a creature of the D.C. swamp who has succeeded — far less by innovating — than by getting billions in government handouts and subsidies.
Musk’s and SpaceX’s track record on accomplishment and safety are spotty at best. Their delays and failures are commonplace. Yet, they managed to play the Washington swamp game adeptly. As a result, Musk got huge taxpayer provided subsidies for each Tesla he sold and got even larger government provided benefits and subsidies for SpaceX. Musk even managed to get the Obama Administration to pay for contract work that SpaceX failed to deliver on.
I admire Gingrich — I’ve got a photo with him hanging in my office and I signed the Contract with America. But I disagree on his proposed path to Mars that favors Musk’s legacy of failure, delay, and rent seeking. By pinning our deep space exploration hopes on Musk, Gingrich — who has a reputation as being an innovative policy mind — risks miring our space program in the swamp slime and muck that has allowed Musk to make his fortune on the backs of the U.S. taxpayer.
Going to Mars is exponentially more difficult than landing on the moon. It presents a great deal more safety challenges. Musk has proven over the past decade that safety is not his concern. In fact, he seems to view safety as a bother. Our policy makers should take this into consideration when deciding how we will take our astronauts back to the moon and beyond.
The truth is, America already has a capable new rocket that dwarfs the capabilities of the Saturn V rockets that took our astronauts to the moon. The Space Launch System will be online and ready later this year. As with any attempt to design and build something that has never been done before, the Space Launch System had some challenges. Guess what? The Apollo program had many challenges too. Even Lewis and Clark’s mission had challenges and cost overruns. When something has never been done before, developing it isn’t like buying a Betty Crocker cake mix and baking it in the oven.
Real and robust competition pushes all participants to perform their best. But SpaceX has so far been able to avoid real competition. Without any real requirement that it ultimately succeed, SpaceX has been a technological failure, even while Musk has managed a public relations success and gotten paid based on his public relations campaign, more than actual accomplishment. To make it to Mars we must encourage real competition, not Elon Musk’s fake version of competition where he gets paid regardless of what he produces.
Returning to the moon and then going on to Mars is a worthy goal and the right objective! But it won’t happen if NASA becomes just another federal agency studying climate change. And it won’t happen if Elon Musk is able to co-opt the process as he did during the Obama years. Musk’s life goal appears to be famous and rich. But America needs to make it our goal to go to Mars and bring our astronauts safely home again.