Juliana v. United States – The Climate Case of the Century

Back in 2007, in the case Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. This year, another landmark climate case appears headed for the US Supreme Court, Juliana v. United States.

While environmental lawsuits have been around for fifty years, “climate rights” and climate liability lawsuits blaze new legal territory. As reported by CBS 60 Minutes, the Juliana v. United States lawsuit “was filed back in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who are trying to get the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing the use of fossil fuels. They say it’s causing climate change, endangering their future and violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.”

On June 4th this case will be argued in the Portland branch of the 9th Circuit. Preceding this hearing, expect waves of well funded protests across the United States in support of the plaintiffs, who are a group of 21 children and teens who were recruited from places in the U.S. deemed particularly vulnerable to climate change.

The prospects for this case to reach the US Supreme Court and provoke a strong ruling in favor of the plaintiffs cannot be ruled out. Over the past few decades, and despite the convenient lie that they have not, the fossil fuel industry has embraced the climate change activists. The industry has determined that challenging the basic premises of climate change activists is not a practical […] Read More

Rational vs. Religious Environmentalism

Just over ten years ago, the world lost Michael Crichton, best selling author and screenwriter, who succumbed to cancer at age 66. His loss was greater than we could know at the time, because during the final years of his life he became increasingly focused on the politicization of science. Few critics of this corruption, if any, are as articulate and influential as Michael Crichton was in his time. And yet it is politicized science, and the justifications it provides activists, journalists, politicians, and corporate opportunists, that is now more dangerous than ever.

Crichton’s scientific background – obtaining a medical degree in 1969, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies – distinguished him from the typical author of thrillers, and informed his life-long interest in science and technology. To put it another way, whenever Crichton expressed skepticism with this week’s environmental crisis of the century, he had credibility.

Probably the most succinct and moving example of Crichton’s thoughts on this topic came in the form of a speech he gave in 2003 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club entitled “Environmentalism As Religion.” The transcript offers a compelling defense of rational environmentalism vs. environmentalism as a religion, and warns against the politicization of science. Here are some of the key points he makes:

“DDT is not a carcinogen…the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people…”

“Second hand smoke is not a health hazard and never was.”

“The evidence […] Read More

Why Don’t Climate Activists Support Nuclear Power?

For several days in mid-April, downtown London was paralyzed by thousands of “climate activists” who were protesting the failure of the U.K. government to act swiftly enough to combat climate change. In mid-March, thousands of students across the United States staged school “walkouts” to demand action on climate change.

These protests are ongoing, but there is little underlying logic to them. The primary sources of anthropogenic CO2 are no longer Western nations, which in sum are only responsible for about 30 percent of global emissions. The biggest single culprit, if you want to call it that, is China, responsible for 28 percent of global emissions, nearly twice as much as the U.S., and literally 28 times as much as the U.K. Rapidly industrializing India, responsible for 6 percent of global CO2 emissions, is on track to become the most populous nation on earth. The chances that China and India will sacrifice their national future in order to reduce CO2 emissions is zero. The same holds for every emerging nation, including the demographic heavyweights Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, along with all the rest.

The logic of these protestors also fails when it comes to the science of climate change, although to even suggest this is heresy. So rather than point out that moderate warming might actually be beneficial to the planet, or that extreme weather is actually more highly correlated with a cooling planet, let’s accept all the popular wisdom with respect to “climate science.” So […] Read More

The Absurdity of Using the Biosphere to Power the Technosphere

In reaction to the proposed “Green New Deal,” there is a lot more discussion about the environmental and economic costs and benefits of renewable energy. Much of the attention, however, has focused on solar and wind energy. Meanwhile, the other big source of renewable energy, biofuel, has quietly elided closer scrutiny. This requires correction. With the purported goal of “saving the planet,” governments around the world are mandating increasing percentages of biofuel to be mixed into transportation fuels.

According to the International Energy Agency, transportation biofuel production in 2017 totaled 83 MTOE (million tons of oil equivalents), which represented only 3 percent of total worldwide demand for transportation fuel. Three percent isn’t very much. But we still have to grow the stuff that goes into biofuels. How much land are we already talking about?

When assessing how much land is already committed to biofuel production, theory and reality quickly diverge. Theoretically, it is possible that current levels of transportation biofuel production might “only” consume around 120,000 square miles of land. But two reality checks result in a far greater amount of actual land use: the fact that commonly planted transportation biofuel crops offer vast diversity in yields per acre, and the fact that biofuel, just like petroleum, is not used exclusively for transportation but also for direct heating and generation of electricity. According to the World Bioenergy Association, biofuel crops are already consuming nearly 550,000 square miles of land.

Why do we have biofuel mandates at all? […] Read More

Green Luddites Are Coming for Your House, Your Car and Your Freedom

On March 25th, the New York Times published a guest opinion column entitled “Why Housing Policy Is Climate Policy.” The authors, Scott Wiener and Daniel Kammen, argue that in order to reduce “greenhouse gas,” we need “denser housing and public transportation.” They go on to state that “low-density, single-family-home zoning is effectively a ban on economically diverse communities.”

Like so much coming from the corporate Left in America, probably the most dangerous aspect of this column is the blithe presumption that every premise they put forth is beyond debate. The climate is going to catastrophically change, and emissions from burning fossil fuel are the culprit. High density housing will help lower CO2 emissions. Public transportation is a good thing.

Just hold on. Stop right there. Emissions of CO2 may not change the climate very much at all, and the cost of precipitously curtailing them condemns billions of people around the world to prolonged poverty and misery. And in any case, high density housing is creating more CO2 emissions, because existing roads cannot handle the increased traffic. And no, public transportation is not always a good thing.

Scott Wiener, a California legislator, and Daniel Kammen, a Berkeley professor who submits reports to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are part of the “consensus” that has decided any of us who question their premises are either stupid, evil, or paid hacks. They are part of the “consensus” that thinks it’s not just ok, but morally necessary to suppress […] Read More

The Politics, the Science, and the Politicized Science of Climate Change

“Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying” – David Bowie, Five Years, 1971

One has to wonder if the shock and despair described in David Bowie’s 1971 hit, “Five Years,” would be the preferred collective mentality for humanity, at least if the relentless propaganda campaigns of climate change activists are successful. And one must admit they have powerful allies at their disposal. A climate alarm consensus informs America’s entire educational, entertainment, and media establishments, along with most corporate marketing, and most political platforms from the local city council to the United Nations.

Climate alarm shouldn’t be a hard sell, and it isn’t. The horror of natural conflagrations taps into primal, instinctual fears; when vividly imagining terrifying acts of nature, even the most hardened skeptic might have a moment of pause.

California’s horrifying wildfire that incinerated the town of Paradise in November 2018 is a good example. Later that month, retired Governor Jerry Brown appeared on Face the Nation, and predicted, “in less than five years even the worst skeptics are going to be believers.”

Taking shameless advantage of every natural disaster to stoke fear of global warming has become normal. In October 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report predicting imminent global climate catastrophe. […] Read More

How California Can Do Its Part to Stop Sea Level Rise

California is a global leader in fighting climate change. California’s citizens consistently have supported cutting edge technologies to wean their state off fossil fuel and nuclear power, and are on track to be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. But is this enough? How else can Californians do their part? What more can they do to set a fine example to the rest of the world?

Clearly, more can be done. So why not flood California’s Great Central Valley, sequestering billions of gallons of ocean water that might otherwise be endangering coastlines around the world?

The feasibility of such an endeavor is hardly a pipe dream. One great dam, extending south from the Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate, plumb into the mountainous ramparts of the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, would easily permit the establishment of a gigantic lake, over 1,000 feet deep, to extend from majestic Mt. Shasta in the north to the red rock Tehachapi Mountains far to the south. For nearly 500 miles from north to south, and 150 miles or more from east to west, this gigantic reservoir could absorb 100 percent of California’s precipitation and storm runoff for decades, slowing the rise of our expanding oceans.

At the same time, Californians can quickly harvest the “low-hanging fruit” of seawater sequestration, by flooding the Imperial Valley. Since much of the Imperial Valley is below sea level, all it would take would be a pipeline, siphoning water out of the ocean off the […] Read More

Attack of the Watermelon People

Supposedly, the “Green New Deal” is “green” because it would help the environment. But a close reading of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed resolution reveals a deal that looks more red than green.

The freshman congresswoman from New York released more specifics of her sweeping idea this week. In simpler times, we called extreme environmentalists “watermelons,” because they were green (environmentalists) on the outside, but red (socialist or communist) on the inside. Ocasio-Cortez, her Green New Deal, and all her fellow travelers, are watermelons through and through.

Almost everything about Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is wrong. The premises, the priorities, and the “solutions.” It’s easy, and necessary, to criticize the priorities and the solutions proposed by this very red, outwardly green plan. But to have a completely honest debate, you also have to challenge the premises.

In the preamble, the resolution claims that sea levels are rising, wildfires are increasing, and extreme weather “threatens human life, healthy communities and critical infrastructure.” It claims humans are to blame. These are flawed premises.

Flawed Scientific Premises

The most threatening of these claims is sea level rise, but even mainstream publications that have completely embraced climate change hysteria are backing off of the most catastrophic forecasts. One of the most credible climate “lukewarmists” (a somewhat derisive term that alarmists attribute begrudgingly to skeptics they haven’t yet managed to silence or discredit) is Dr. Judith Curry, who is frequently called upon for congressional testimony. She recently completed an 18-month study on […] Read More

California’s Green ‘Bantustans’ Are Coming to America

If the “smart growth” urban planners that dictate land use policies in Democratic states and cities have their way, the single family dwelling is an endangered species.

In Oregon, proposed legislation would “require cities larger than 10,000 people to allow up to four homes to be built on land currently zoned exclusively for single-family housing.” In Minneapolis, recent actions by the city council mean that “duplexes and triplexes would be allowed in neighborhoods that only previously allowed single-family housing.”

The war on the detached, single family home, and—more to the point—the war on residential neighborhoods comprised exclusively of single family homes, is on. And it’s gone national.

In California, ground zero for this movement, state legislation now requires cities and counties to fast track permitting for “accessory dwelling units.” This scheme will allow developers and ambitious homeowners to construct detached rental homes in their backyards, but since they’re called “accessory dwelling units,” instead of “homes,” they would not run afoul of local zoning ordinances that, at one time, were designed to protect neighborhoods from exactly this sort of thing.

“Smart growth,” however, began long before the home itself came under attack.

First there was the war on the back yard. Large lots became crimes against the planet—and if you doubt the success of this war, just get a window seat the next time you fly into any major American city. In the suburbs you will see a beautiful expanse of green, spacious, shady neighborhoods with lots designed […] Read More

Twilight of the Malthusians

Thomas Malthus was an English cleric and scholar living in the early 19th century who developed the theory that global population increases exponentially, while global production increases arithmetically. His theory—and the eventual collapse of civilization that it implies—enjoys influence to this day. In California, it found early expression in a 1976 speech by Governor Jerry Brown, who announced that we had entered an “era of limits.” For more than 40 years now, influential politicians such as Brown, supported by like-minded environmentalists, have embraced the Malthusian vision. But an alternative exists.

First, global population growth was only increasing “exponentially” for a few decades in the middle of the 20th century. As the chart below indicates, using data from the United Nations, the annual rate of global population growth peaked in 1980 at just over 2 percent. Since then, it has already dropped to half that rate, estimated at around 1 percent per year in 2020. By the end of this century, global population is projected to be growing at a decidedly “arithmetic” rate of under 0.2 percent per year.

At the same time that the rate of global population growth is slowing significantly, global productivity continues to increase. Virtually all recent estimates—World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations—forecast global GDP growth to exceed 3 percent per year into the foreseeable future. This rate of growth is low by historical standards and, notwithstanding temporary disruptions caused by future recessions, is likely to be much higher over […] Read More