Wednesday, December 19, 2012

after the summit, the descent (the dissent was always there)

  • Posturing, in fact, is one of the biggest weaknesses of the environmental movement, where everyone wants to be seen doing the right thing, without paying the costs of actually doing it.
This article in today's National Post commenting on the inevitable demise of the global climate summit industry. 

The summits have actually outlived the problem they were initiated to discuss.  Their demise will force many charlatan professors to look elsewhere for their boondoggles, expenses paid catch up visits with friends from around the world in exotic locations, mutually reinforced by their research findings recommending the very same meetings they then attended.  It's a wonder PhD programs have difficulty recruiting.  Never mind philosophy and methodology -- how good are you at self-promotion, the art of implied crises and the conceit that an annual conference of like minds ever achieved even a modicum of divergent, let alone creative, thought?

Not to despair, there's always a new environmental dystopia waiting to be "discovered", embraced and fearlessly promoted by those same displaced intrepid summit groupies.

Meanwhile, the world continues to flourish and improve, globally.  No, it is far from perfect and it is still has ample room for improvement.  But it is steadily, and occasionally spectacularly, better than in the past.  So why do environmentalists persist in dystopian visions of limits, impending doom, stasist control and constraint?

The environmental movement will continue to be irrelevant, and a circus for Orwellian distraction of the chattering classes, until such time as it embraces the necessity for the future to be embraced with hope, optimism and creative energy, with ideas that actually transpose and facilitate empowerment, improvement and sustained growth that is the very imperative inherent in human existence.

Monday, July 09, 2012

rio revisited

I was not in Rio for the original Earth Summit in 1992.  Neither was I invited to Rio+20.  In fact, the closest I got to Rio was writing a chapter on Rio as a one of the gateways for my Tourism text Gateways to Discovery being released this fall -- so I was thinking about Rio but not one of the 50,000 delegates in attendance.  Funny, after a lifetime career in the field of resource management and sustainability, I don't make the top 50,000 to receive an all expenses trip paid by somebody else but after 6 years of blogging I make the world's top 250 climate skeptics: oh, the vagaries of fame and fortune.

Sidebar: best line of the year from the movie Contagion. 
Character 1: "you're not a writer!" 
Character 2: "I am . I blog". 
#1: "Blogging is not writing: its graffiti with punctuation."

Anyways, back to my musing on Rio and now Rio+20.  I was pondering what to say when I read this excellent summation by Peter Foster:
  • The failure of Rio does not mean disregard for “The Environment.” Environmental protection is a branch of human protection. The environment has no value except for what it means to humans. The outrage that this observation will promote serves to prove the point. The environment can no more value itself than it can express outrage. Human development inevitably involves disturbance of land and potential pollution of air and water. The issue is never people versus the environment. It is the interests of some people vs. the interests of others. The question is one of balance, and that pollution should not be suffered without compensation. A bigger question is one of entirely bogus eco scares being manufactured as a rationale for payoffs to the very kleptocrats who are responsible for global poverty.
  •  The Rio+20 text was originally sold as promoting “The Future We Want.” However, the “We” in question was always a self-selected group of UN bureaucrats, alarmist NGOs, corporate rent-seekers and main chancers whose interests were sharply at odds with those of ordinary people. Rio+20’s failure should be celebrated as The Future We Avoided.
Good stuff. Accurate, pithy and just a little acerbic.

I was going to add some more of my own commentary when I read this by Ben Pile:
  • A lot is expected of ‘science’. However, the failure of Rio+20, like the failure of many global conferences to produce agreements, such as the meetings at Durban, Cancun and Copenhagen, reveals once again that the real function of ‘science’ is a fig leaf for their delegates’ bad faith. 
  • Rio+20 was the ideal marketplace for such bland pieties. It’s not as if economic growth, short- or long-term, is a problem the UK enjoys. Politicians and ‘thinkers’ who lack the ideas necessary to produce positive change – growth – turn the concept of growth into the enemy. The anti-growth lobby congeals at events such as Rio, where there’s ample opportunity to swap ideas about how to turn their own mediocrity into a worldwide political project under the pretence of ‘saving the planet’. In reality, the desire for powerful global political institutions owes much more to politicians’ own domestic crises of legitimacy than it does to any real threat to the world’s rivers, trees and oceans.
  •  By winning whatever passes for the hearts and minds of the political establishment, environmentalism has been installed throughout political institutions without ever having won a democratic contest of its ideals. Such is the extent of this insidious colonisation that any public debate about the future, especially of energy policies, is already prefigured according to environmental precepts.
  •  This assumption that the masses are suffering from consumption addiction allows world leaders to step in and make the big decisions about the future on our behalf. Yet conferences like Rio+20 are not about protecting us plebs; these shindigs are really about protecting the elites.
  •  NGOs are only too happy to help. As I have argued previously on spiked, environmentalism has comprehensively failed to establish itself as a popular movement. Instead, environmental NGOs – a pale imitation of mass movements – were given access to political institutions to overcome the disconnect between political elites and the public. As ‘pressure groups’, they pretended to be holding governments to account, but by raising the issues the government wanted to identify with, NGOs were actually doing governments’ bidding.
  •  This supranational institution-building needs its own legitimising basis: environmental crisis. And this is where the science is recruited. Scientific organisations all over the world plan for years to produce the most ghastly predictions from measurements of our relationship with the natural world.
Thank you Ben.

The context within which both Rio and Rio+20 should be viewed is a wider worldview which recognizes the role contemporary environmentalism now plays within politics.  It is the de facto moral agenda for political poverty. The science does not require nor compel the subjugation of the human race by elites.  There are no limits that are not ideologically created by the self-serving political elites seeking to impose them on humanity. The world has spent 2000 years finally learning how to take the majority out of the default condition of human existence: poverty.  The methodology is political freedom, followed by economic freedom, followed by the opportunity for entrepreneurship and technological advancement.  Given choice and opportunity, the vast majority of the human race has proven they will choose advancement and with that advancement, both a compassion for the rest of the human race and an increased concern for the health of their environment.  In human history, no authoritarian, centralized elite or government has ever succeeded in doing the same.

About the only other thing history has proven as totally unnecessary? Global gabfests in exotic locations at tax payers expense by phony-baloney hacks.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the great wind fallacy

The world has progressed and prospered through time on the basis of the development of cheap, accessible energy.  To replace existing power sources, any new energy will have to be similarly both cheap and accessible, something existing supposedly "green" candidates are not.

As Matt Ridley aptly summarizes, the situation with wind power is that the option is both ineffective, inefficient and irrelevant:
  • To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine - despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide. 
Too often, contemporary environmentalism fails to acknowledge that nothing is sustainable if there is a failure to fully integrate the economics of life with both its social and environmental imperatives.  There is no prospect for a future energy policy premised on a culture of poverty.  Poverty is the default condition of the world. It does not need to be created: it is.  Wealth has to be created.  Prosperity takes development in all its manifestations: social, cultural, environmental and economic.  There is a world of difference between efficiency of resource use and wise use of the environment implicit within the construct of sustainability, and the deprivation and pious imposition of censure and the morally induced poverty emblematic of contemporary environmental ideology.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the long slow death of a faulty paradigm

The environmental movement is as promiscuous with its ‘ethics’ as it is with ‘The Science’. This pithy conclusion comes courtesy of Ben Pile writing in Spike on the non-similarities between Fakegate (the falsification of material to incriminate the Heartland Institute) and Climategate 1 and 2 (the massive leak of evidence of malfeasance by the core of the IPCC climatocracy).

Ben ably summarizes both the facts of the Hearltland situation and the inescapable reality that the opposition to the imposed AGW consensus at the center of the IPCC has never been a conspiracy, it has never been massively funded and it is neither exclusionary, nor authoritarian in its ideology.  Indeed, perhaps the only factor that universally applies to all climate realists is their sense of abhorrence of an authoritarian, imposed ideology of a conformed political consensus being imposed under the guise of an incomplete science. 

Fakegate reveals how deeply the environmentalism narrative of limits, pessimism and dystopia is embedded within academic and intellectual discourse.  Environmentalism has become so convinced of the correctness of its own mythology that its adherents are no linger able to see the blue skies of future prosperity for the storm clouds of their own bleak attitudes.  Dialogue is near to impossible.  Those who question the stasist paradigm are dismissed, ostracized and finally, framed with falsehoods.

Except, a funny thing happened along the way.  Those pesky skeptics refused to wear the tag of denial, sulk and wallow in shame -- instead they stood firm, resolute and, as realists, re-affirmed the primacy of empirical data, scientific method, the differentiation of science from politics, the dissociation of economics from social engineering and a confidence that when one speaks the truth, time will eventually validate you.

While environmental activists in NGOs, politics and academia collectively scrambled to more elaborate means to spin the redeeming correctness of the central narrative, that their end somehow justified whatever means were employed in its imposition, the paradigm at the center of it all has quietly and very publicly been refuted, repudiated and discredited. But, in scientific terms it is not yet refuted: an ideological proposition can not be refuted, and that is all AGW has ever been, an ideologically conspired assertion.

The paradigm that has galvanized environmentalism for the past 40 years (ecological limits, driven by human mismanagement, inducing a catastrophic and dystopian future) has been overtaken and bypassed by dynamic, progressive and prosperous change...worldwide.  It is self-evident that the world has many remaining issues.  But it is equally self-evident to the lay public that the world's problems are all issues for which progressive, astute human management can resolve and replace with something better.  That process is rarely easy, seldom quick but it is inexorable. 

Fakegate reveals that the faulty paradigm of AGW is dead. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

sad, but true

  • ...just as democracy has not guaranteed rationality in economic policy, it will also be a poor protector of personal liberty. The democratic masses are now sufficiently conditioned to believe that politics and state action are the solution to every problem, and when the crisis intensifies and anxiety levels rise, the majority will happily sign away the remaining bits of individual freedom and property rights in a desperate but entirely counterproductive bid to stem the tide.
The quote above is from the latest in a fine series of posts subsequent to his book on Paper Money Collapse by Detlev Schlichter.  In contrast to the current US President, Schlichter appears to have a clear grasp on economics, capitalism and the basis for prosperity.

For example:
  •  On the basis of economic theory and historical experience, the life expectancy of a societal model with 50 percent or more government control over the economy does therefore not look promising. The taxing, resources-consuming state-parasite must constantly weaken and sooner or later kill the productive and wealth-creating market-host. When does this happen? Well, we are about to find out, as we are now all part of some gigantic real-life experiment, bravely conducted by the current policy establishment in Europe and elsewhere at our own expense and that of our children. Across the EU, the share of government spending in the economy is already around 50 percent, depending whose numbers you believe. If we could account for regulation and interventionist legislation, the state’s grip on economic decision-making is certainly larger. To call such an economy capitalist is a joke, albeit perhaps not as cruel a joke as the one the economy itself, with its persistently anaemic performance, is playing on the Keynesian economists and their ridiculous clamour for ever more government spending to boost ‘aggregate demand’.
  • Anybody with any knowledge of economics should feel uneasy at the sight of a country where half of recorded economic activity is conducted by the state.
Rather than a sense of unease, the mass herd of mainstream media appears to be doing its best effort to rationalize and legitimize the ideology of state control over the economy.  Find one example in all of human history where this has been a sustainable success.

When ever the answer is given as "state control over the economy", you know one of two things:
  • the wrong questions have been asked, or
  • someone is seeking to exert power and control using the state as their instrument of personal aggrandizement.

Sad but true.

becoming a green hero....

As a follow up to an improvised chat I had with a student in the coffee line, I want to share a scenario for you to ponder:
  • You land your spaceship on Earth but know nothing about the planet or its inhabitants, armed only with superior technology (you are after all an inter-galactic space/time traveler) and a well-intentioned desire to assist if possible.
  •  You ask your on-board computer for a print out of the key data on the planet and its peoples: you get data for "countries" listing income per capita; annual death rate, birth rate and infant mortality; life expectancy; some trends for the last 200 years for 200 countries;  an index of political freedom; and then some data on pollution levels, which includes per capita levels of "waste" -- being from another planet you have no idea what this last item is, but what the heck, computer lists it, must have some relevance.
  • Being of superior intellect you ask the computer to run a quick correlation analysis to help you determine what to do and how you can help.  
  • You can see from the data that over 200 years the planet has been steadily improving in all areas, in all countries but some parts still lag and could be classed as "less developed" "under developed" or just in an earlier stage of development -- note, have to learn the language these people use, don't want to offend anyone from the get-go! (Hmmm, wonder if these people still use violence?)
  • Anyways your data show that prosperity and waste are highly correlated: light-bulb!  You can bring more "waste" or even better help the poor places generate greater amounts of waste and, according to your data, their incomes will rise, their life expectancy will increase, infant mortality decrease and malaria disappear -- and you will be a hero.  
  • And as a tiny green alien, you would,of course, be a "green hero".
Now you still don't know cause from effect, but hey, who's perfect anyways?

Part 2: denouement

The point is not that waste is by definition worthless and useless, it is the conditions that create that value that are significant and meaningful.

A weakness of capitalism is it generates waste.  A strength is it generates prosperity.

So, if we educate concerned and active young people that waste is bad and should be curtailed, we have just focused on an answer based on flawed presumptions: fear and guilt -- based on an incorrect presumption about limits.  We then take their energy and enthusiasm and direct them to address waste.  Great. Even if they significantly reduce waste for the wealthiest 1 billion (which has not proven possible), what difference have they made to the lives of the lowest 1 billion?

Conversely, if we focus on strengths and hope, we challenge their education to ask the right questions as to how do we create prosperity for the lowest 1 billion -- implementation of sustainability that is actually transformative.  Poverty is antithetical to sustainability.

The first construct is stasist and does not significantly alter anything: the second is inherently dynamist and does: wealth is a necessary condition for sustainability whereas poverty is what kills people and degrades the planet.

So why does convergent thinking in education stigmatize wealth?  Rather than inspire or encourage any graduate work on waste, education should be inspiring and facilitating the examination of creative wealth creation contextualized and "in country" for those places most in need of development and wealth creation.

If waste management is the presumptive answer, the wrong question is being asked.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

it's all politics...

Most people still assume that resource management and environmental decisions depend upon sound science, rational policy making and human values of progress.  In fact, they reflect a fixation on political winds of convenience and contrivance.  Too often, the results are an act of "national insanity".  The latest example is the delay and apparent "rejection" of the Keystone pipeline by the Obama Administration, which even the mainstream media recognizes as stupid and ideological from a policy perspective, perhaps the worst political mistake of his entire presidency.

  • It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
  • This seems like a truly simple determination. Iran is threatening to blockade the 20 percent of the world’s oil supply that flows through the Strait of Hormuz. The American economy is struggling from high unemployment. The volatility of oil prices, reflected in periodic spikes at the gas pump, is a threat to productivity. A privately funded pipeline project that would create tens of thousands of jobs while helping stabilize America’s energy supply clearly seems to be in the national interest.
  •  The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration.  And it would have done so entirely with private  funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds.
Stupid is, as stupid does.  Perhaps this will be the re-election slogan for the Obama Administration.