The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Climate Justice

Today, the editors at Bloomberg write:
It's clear that human behavior is changing the climate, but just how quickly, and with what exact consequences, is harder to say. The precise effects on weather, sea levels, incidence of disease and drought, species diversity, ocean acidification and so forth -- none of this is known with certainty.

The point is, it doesn’t need to be. Policies to mitigate climate change are best viewed as insurance against great but imperfectly understood risks. Every voter understands the concept of insurance.
So ... we don't know the extent of anthropogenic effects, we don't know the probability that risks will be realized or what true impact they might have, and don't have a reliable mitigation strategy, but we must act immediately and impose unproven draconian measures to address a very, very hazy threat. It's critically important to adopt a "ready, fire, aim" strategy.

Given this lack of clarity, why aren't Bloomberg's editors, along with Barack Obama, Al Gore, John Kerry, their supporters, and their mindless cheerleaders in the media worrying equally about another threat -- the impact of a 0.5km asteroid hitting the earth. We understand the problem far better than we do climate change, we have technology that could be applied to mitigate the risk, and yet we don't act.

A large asteroid strike would end all life on the planet for thousands of years. There is an irrefutable historical record that indicates it will happen—we just don't know when. We're studying the problem, but doing little else to mitigate it. Why? Because the risk is very, very small, just as the hyperbolic projections of calamity due to climate change are very, very small. But "climate change" has been embraced by our "leaders." The other (a extermination event!), well, it's just not important. Let's examine why climate change has been elevated to the status of a religion.

The recent political summary of the 2013-14 UN IPCC Report on Climate Change predicts global calamity unless all of us listen to the acolytes of the new climate change religion. Those of us who are heretics were a bit more skeptical, arguing that claims made by the acolytes are anti-scientific and counter-factual. More important, the claims in the report summary contradict the contents of the report itself.

Francis Menton has an interesting take on all of this when he notes that most of the world lives in poverty. He writes:
Poverty, in the sense of deprivation of basic goods and services, in very large part is a result of insufficient access to energy. Access to energy means electricity for our homes, businesses and computers; it means transportation, in the form of automobiles, trains and planes; it means heating in cold weather and cooling in hot weather; it means functioning hospitals and health care facilities; it means mechanized agricultural methods that ameliorate the effects of bad weather and pests; it means access to information; and many other things equally important. Without access to energy, people are trapped in local areas to lead a life of basic subsistence if not periodic hunger and starvation.
The acolytes, sitting as they do on a high moral perch, would have us all believe that they care, really, really care, about eliminating poverty in places like Africa, India, parts of Asia and the Middle East. And yet, they fight the very things that might reduce poverty in the developing world. Menton writes:
Given the serious hardship faced by the world’s poor in the absence of energy access, one would think that a top priority of the U.N. would be finding ways to achieve that access as quickly, as cheaply, and as reliably as possible. But in fact, under the banner of so-called “climate justice,” the U.N. is doing exactly the opposite. It is doing its best to hobble, hinder and obstruct development of the cheapest and most reliable sources of energy in the third world, while instead advocating for massive transfers of wealth from rich countries, not to the poor people themselves, but instead to the governing cliques and wealthy elites in the poor countries.

So what is this U.N. “climate justice” campaign? On its public face, it is a campaign to have rich countries pay money to governments of poor countries to compensate the poor countries for alleged harm resulting from “climate change.” A U.N. agency called UN-NGLS (UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service) is leading the charge. Their home page for “Climate Justice for a Changing Planet” can be found at The basic idea of the campaign is that the big problem facing poor countries is not poverty or lack of energy access, but rather climate change, and that the solution to climate change is to have taxpayers in rich countries transfer money to governments of poor countries so they can supposedly spend the money to ameliorate the climate change. Here is an excerpt from the Climate Justice home page of UN-NGLS:
There is little doubt that climate change will lead to unprecedented changes in the natural environment, which will in turn affect the way we live, with potentially dramatic consequences on our health, energy sources and food production systems. There is also increasing recognition that these impacts are being felt disproportionately by poor people who already live under precarious conditions. Climate change, with its many facets, further exacerbates existing inequalities faced by these vulnerable groups.
The acolytes of the climate change religion are predominantly left-leaning. What fascinates me about their ideology is that they repeatedly focus on far-off pseudo-problems (e.g., fantasical claims of climate calamity), rather that near-term problems. They repeated offer fantasy solutions that cannot be proven effective or even wise and whose unintended consequences cannot be judged, rather than offering near-term solutions to real problems (e.g., a lack of inexpensive energy access in the third world) that can be solved, if sufficient political will is mustered.

Whether it's social justice or climate justice (they truly do love the sound of the word "justice") their "solutions" have a through-the-looking-glass feel to them.

But no matter. The climate change acolytes ignore the following statements (compiled by Roger Pielke, Jr.) from the very IPCC Report they celebrate:
  • "There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century”
  • “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”
  • “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”
  • “In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”
  • “In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of drought has increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950”
  • “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low.
But reading these extracts from the scientific body of the IPCC Report forces the acolytes back through the looking glass—where science doesn't matter, facts are irrelevant, and only belief holds sway. After all, in the climate change religion, it's all about moral preening and little else.