Sunday, 20 October 2019

"The pursuit of the Garden of Eden fantasy is the most destructive phenomenon in all of human history." #QotD

"The pursuit of the Garden of Eden fantasy is the most destructive phenomenon in all of human history. The Garden of Eden fantasy is the desire to live--or at least to exist--in the world without the need for any mental effort.
"Nearly all of the religious wars of the past 2,000 years were fought with an eye toward a Garden of Eden in a heavenly afterlife. The obsession with reaching this state drove countless atrocities, including the medieval inquisitions.
    "Marxism holds that this Garden of Eden state can be achieved on Earth, in the form of a "true communism" where all "needed" goods are superabundant. Millions of people were slaughtered or starved in the 20th Century as a result of Communists' and socialists' obsession with reaching this enchanted Garden of Eden.
    "The fact is that [neither] human nature [not Mother Nature] allows a Garden of Eden. Life for human beings is fundamentally about exerting productive effort to achieve values: growth, sustenance, happiness. Rest and relaxation is only satisfying when it's a rest from real effort. Without effort and change, life becomes stagnant, dull and emotionless. Also, without any effort at all, human life ceases to exist."

~ Eric Macintosh, from his article 'Wealth is Created by Action Based on Rational Thought'

Saturday, 19 October 2019

"If white privilege exists, then does black privilege exist too?" #QotD

"Discussions of ‘privilege’ have become one of the themes of this age. In a short space of time, the obsession with the subject has forced its way from the margins of the social sciences right into the centre of all cultural and political debate. Politics and office politics is increasingly consumed by it...
    "Everywhere the privilege discussion is the same. Who has privilege? Who should give it up? Who should have more? ...
    "We are told that there are forms of privilege that come with being white. Historically this may be able to be said to be the case. Though again it is a claim filled with contradictions and false-assertions. Were people who spent their days working the land in some far-flung part of these islands beneficiaries of ‘white privilege’? Are their descendants today? It is an amazingly reductive and almost certainly unfair way to view most, let alone all white people. But it throws up a counter-question. If white privilege exists, then does black privilege exist too?
    "I have been wondering about this in recent times. Again, this is not to say that historically black people have always  benefited from being black. But if some white people today have white privilege then do some black people?
    "I would have said that one of the most obvious but unmentionable facts of our time is that some people do. Because whenever a system tilts a particular way some people with intelligence and savviness will take advantage of that fact. Why would they not? In the last year or so, on a number of occasions, I have walked into a hall or studio with a black colleague and been aware that I am at a distinct disadvantage.
    "What is that disadvantage? Well, it is slightly like the old saw about the gun on stage in a Chekhov play. Except that in these cases there is a gun onstage but it is able to be picked up, pointed and even fired in only one direction. And that is by the black participant in the discussion at anyone present who is white. The bullet is an accusation of racism – whether it is sincere or not, honest or not, accurate or not.
    "If an era regards racism as its cardinal sin and white supremacy as a fact then it is inevitable that as well as there being sincere accusations of prejudice there will also be some insincere ones. And that if society is largely unbothered about correcting false accusations then a hugely powerful weapon is put in the hands of any canny person who wishes to wield it..."
        ~ Douglas Murray, from his oped 'On Black Privilege'

Friday, 18 October 2019

“Saying that men and women have different aptitudes isn’t sexism. It’s a statement about the true nature of the world. If we keep saying that those differences are because of sexism, nobody’s going to end up happy with what they’re doing, and we’re going to keep making laws to remedy what’s actually the result of freedom.” #QotD

“Saying that men and women have different aptitudes isn’t sexism. It’s a statement about the true nature of the world. If we keep saying that those differences … are because of sexism, nobody’s going to end up happy with what they’re doing, and we’re going to keep making laws to remedy what’s actually the result of freedom.”
~ evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman, in John Stossel's post 'Gender Wars: The Difference Between Male & Female Brains'

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Free Speech Under Attack: "The Thug's Veto"

So "legal advice" about protestors threatening unspecified violence has managed to give Massey University  a "Health and Safety" reason to shut down a planned Feminism 2020 Conference at the University -- hosting which despite the threats against it had previously given some of us to describe the University using words like "courageous." Turns out we were wrong.  "Cancellation of the event," blathers the University statement on the cancellation, "is the only way to eliminate the risk to health and safety and to ensure that the university would not be in breach of its health and safety obligations." 

Commenters were quick to observe that you can mark this down as both the inevitable outcome of the failed Free Speech Coalition litigation against Auckland Council -- which has now cemented into legal precedent this Health and Safety excuse -- and another example of the Thug's Veto.

A timely moment then to post this brief excerpt from the just released book Free Speech Under Attack, from one my three chapters in the book, this one explaining the re-emergence of this phenomenon: 'The Thug's Veto' ...

The Thug's Veto

When we dehumanise and demonise our opponents, we abandon the possibility of peacefully resolving our differences, and seek to justify violence against them.
    ~ Nelson Mandela

Want to shut down your opposition without answering their ideas? Want to deplatform a speaker without letting them speak? Achieve your aim in two easy steps by exercising what’s become known as the Thug’s Veto. “A 'Thug's Veto' is when violent and/or threatening activists and/or protest groups … force the closurecancellation or disruption of an event that they don't agree with by means of intimidation or threats of violence and chaos.”[i]

We saw this in 2019 when threats by Peace Action Aotearoa prompted the cancellation of a speaking event by two controversial Canadians. These were not threats to take lightly: the ill-named group’s notoriety was earned by having placed a fake bomb in a crowded Wellington theatre, in order to have a film screening cancelled.

As a logical fallacy, the Thug’s Veto is the violent equivalent of ad hominem. It plays the man without the ball, leaving unanswered the ideas that speakers express, and their bones often battered and bruised.

The practice used to be called a ‘Heckler’s Veto.’[ii] Appropriate to our age, it has now been updated to be more violent.

It was first used in the modern form in 2001 after the pro-Palestinian professor, Dr Sami Al-Arian, appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News TV show. So incensed were viewers by what they heard that they send death threats to Al-Arian and protested at the University of Southern Florida, from which he was promptly sacked. The university argued “that Dr Al-Arian’s presence constituted an intolerable “disruption” to campus operations, making his termination necessary.”[iii] In response, Alan Charles Kors, editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), sent an open letter to the university arguing:

The University cannot and must not remove a professor because some portion of the public demands it on the basis of his purported political beliefs, his protected associations, and other wholly unproven suspicions. To do so would allow a “heckler’s veto” and would open the floodgates to arbitrarily firing all professors when some individuals, especially individuals willing to portray themselves as criminals, decide that they do not like the way that a professor talks, thinks, or appears. Indeed, it would create a new category, the “USF thug’s veto,” which actively encourages the threat of violence to accomplish the dismissal of professors disliked by any portion of the public. This is not only unconstitutional, but, indeed, endangers the core of freedom at any institution of higher learning and the very rule of civilised law itself….[iv]

That argument seems exactly right. “This is not about Sami Al-Arian or his political views,” Kors told the press. “This is about the devastation of free speech and academic freedom at USF and the destruction of constitutional protections at a public university.”

That devastation has continued, with protestors in recent times shutting down events from Arkansas to Auckland, and from Oxford to Oklahoma.

If the New Censors have their way, the Thug’s Veto may become the most widely accepted way to deplatform your opposition.[v]

. . . 

[To read on, order your copy of Free Speech Under Attack today!]

NOTES[i] ‘Thug’s Veto,’ Urban Dictionary
[ii] “The [US] Supreme Court first recognised the term in Brown v. Louisiana (1966), citing the work of First Amendment expert Harry Kalven Jr., who coined the phrase. The term is also used in general conversation to refer to any incident in which opponents block speech by direct action or by ‘shouting down’ a speaker through protest. Although some scholars refer to a string of heckler’s veto cases, the idea appears across a wide range of cases in First Amendment law as a label critical for any claim, made in defence of the government’s suppression, that speech inciting hostile reactions may be restrained.” Patrick Schmidt, ‘Heckler’s Veto,’ First Amendment Encyclopaedia.
[iii] ‘The University of South Florida Betrays the Rule of Law: The “Thug’s Veto” and the Ongoing Case of Sami Al-Arian,’ FIRE website, January 29, 2002
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Jonathan Haidt observes that there is also a parallel sort of ‘Victim’s Veto’ giving the easily offended power to silence speech. If “giving offence” is deemed off limits, then anyone claiming offence, especially on behalf of their group, is able to shut down any speaker they choose. This is creating am especially chilling effect on campuses, he says. To free up campus debate, he argues for a return to the common law notion of the “reasonable man” defence: i.e., if a “reasonable person” would not be offended by Statement ‘x,’ then Statement ‘x’ is okay.

"Much scolding media carry‑on about the mediocre turn‑out in the local body elections. Are people simply not interested? Actually, I think they are and attribute the low vote singularly to dismay at the candidates on offer." #QotD

"Much scolding media carry‑on about the mediocre turn‑out in the local body elections. Are people simply not interested?
    "Actually, I think they are and attribute the low vote singularly to dismay at the candidates on offer. I hesitate to criticise them but the hard fact is that local government has always been a vehicle for the nondescript, in many cases seeking an income they’re otherwise incapable of earning, plus a degree of 'fame.' That said they pay a hell of a price in tedium."

          ~ Bob Jones, from his post 'The Ho-Hum Local-Government Elections'

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

"A theory is a sophisticated, systematic organisation of evidence, a real intellectual achievement. The intellectual monstrosities constructed without attention to the evidence that are often dubbed 'conspiracy theories are nothing of the sort. They don’t even qualify as valid hypotheses." #QotD

"From 'truthers' and 'birthers,' and from Flat Earthers to 'QAnon,' so-called conspiracy theorists have been garnering more and more attention, especially because President Donald Trump himself has been known to promote this kind of baseless speculation...
    "One flaw with the practice is that it explains events by reference to hidden agendas of nefarious agents when appealing to the conventional motives of ordinary public figures can do the job.
    "It is important to distinguish real theories and real hypotheses from what are commonly called 'conspiracy theories.' A theory is a sophisticated, systematic organisation of evidence, a real intellectual achievement. Even to form a valid hypothesis about a matter, you first need to know a lot. The intellectual monstrosities constructed without attention to the evidence that are often dubbed 'conspiracy theories are nothing of the sort. They don’t even qualify as valid hypotheses...
    "Baseless claims about conspiracies tend to attract 'crackpots' precisely because they are claims about secret plots. It is all too easy to claim that the reason there is no evidence for a conspiracy is that the conspirators have worked to cover it up. When claims about secret plots or coverups spread quickly, before there is time for the evidence to come in, it’s a good early sign — like smoke where there’s fire — that the claims spreading are mere conspiracism. This is the proper pejorative term to describe the phenomenon of asserting baseless claims about the existence of conspiracies..."

          ~ Ben Bayer, 'Analysing the Conspiracist Firestorm over Notre Dame'

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Maori communism ...

“In relation to the diffusion of communistic theories in our own day, [studying the communism of the early Maori settlements is] of great interest. Its long continuance amongst the Maories shows that communism may prolong its existence under favouring conditions. These conditions existed amongst the Maories in the form of a limited tribal population, and an unlimited supply of land held in common, and in the despotic power of the Chiefs and Priests. 
    "They do not exist in any form of civilisation with which we are acquainted. They are to be found in savage life alone. 
    “The Lycurgan communism [i.e, the communism practised by the Spartans under Lycurgus] was only possible in a barbarous age, in a society where individualism did not exist... 
    "When Greece yielded to the spiritual impulses of art, learning and freedom in the sixth century BC, Sparta rapidly fell into the rear. Her institutions and her power decayed under the influence of Lycurgan communism.    "The philosophic dreams of Communism in Plato's 'Republic,' and in Sir Thomas More's 'Utopia' are still dreams. Wherever attempts have been made to bring them into realities, failures without exception have resulted.”          
~ Josiah Clifton Firth, from his 1890 book on early New Zealand, Nation Making.

"Free Speech Under Attack"

Want to hold a book in your hand with my name on the cover?

Oh look, here's a very topical new book you can order ...

Knock yourself out!

Monday, 14 October 2019

41 Inconvenient Truths on the "New Energy Economy"

Girl in a dream
The production of energy allows human energy to by multiplied many hundreds or even thousands of time. Reliable energy makes modern human life possible. Yet activists demand this reliable energy be shut down to make way for "new" forms of energy production that will allegedly be "green" to produce and easy to store. Yet to make enough batteries to store just two day's worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by Tesla's Gigafactory (the world’s biggest battery factory). Not to mention the production and disposal problem associated with batteries.
This is one of 41 stories about the "new green economy," related in this guest post by Mark Mills, that explode the many myths about the so-called "new green economy."

41 Inconvenient Truths on the "New Energy Economy"

Guest post by Mark Mills

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor, policymaker or pundit joining the rush to demand, or predict, an energy future that is entirely based on wind/solar and batteries, freed from the “burden” of the hydrocarbons that have fueled societies for centuries. Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.”

He’s right. So, in my recent Manhattan Institute report, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” I did just that.

Herein, then, is a summary of some of the bottom-line realities from the underlying math. (See the full report for explanations, documentation, and citations.)

Realities About the Scale of Energy Demand

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80 percent of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles [about the distance from Sydney to Perth], and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week. [That's about the height of the Huntly power station chimneys.]

2. $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternative energy sources delivered only a two-percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use; today, solar and wind still supply less than two percent of global energy.

3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace just five-percent of global oil demand.

5. To replace global hydrocarbons in two decades, renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold. For global petroleum production to expand “only” ten-fold, it took a half a century.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

7. America uses 16 percent of world energy. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity from other sources (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would still leave untouched 70 percent of U.S. hydrocarbons use.

8. Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, the U.S. economy grew 80 percent, global energy efficiency improved 33 percent,  so global energy use is up only 40 percent.

9. Efficiency increases energy demand: Since 1995, aviation fuel use/passenger-mile is down 70 percent, air traffic rose more than 10-fold, and global aviation fuel use rose over 50 percent.

10. Efficiency increases energy demand: since 1995, energy used per byte is down about 10,000-fold, but global data traffic rose about a million-fold; global electricity used for computing soared.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50 percent, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.

12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.

13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (the world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.

14. To make enough batteries to store two day's worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year—and rising.

16. Every $1 billion spent on data centres leads to $7 billion in electricity consumed over two decades. Global spending on data centres is more than $100 billion a year—and rising.

Realities about Energy Economics

17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh of power respectively: whereas $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hour, the shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

20. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25 percent–30 percent of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

21. Cost models for wind and solar assume, respectively, 41 percent and 29 percent capacity factors (i.e., how often they produce electricity). Real-world data reveal as much as ten percentage points less for both. That translates into $3 million less energy produced than assumed over a 20-year life of a 2-MW $3 million wind turbine.

22. In order to compensate for episodic wind/solar output, U.S. utilities are building "back-up generation" using oil- and gas-burning reciprocating engines (big cruise-ship-like diesels); three times as many have been added to the grid since 2000 as in the 50 years prior to that.

23. Wind-farm capacity factors have improved at about 0.7 percent per year; this small gain comes mainly from reducing the number of turbines per acre, leading to a 50 percent increase in average land used to produce a wind-kilowatt-hour.

24. Over 90 percent of America’s electricity, and 99 percent of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market, (i.e., consumers) demands it.

25. The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70 percent of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20 percent since 2008. Those savings were consumed by direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind.

Energy Physics… Inconvenient Realities

26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

27. The common cliché: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliché is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

28. If solar power scaled like computer-tech, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. That only happens in comic books.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

30. If combustion engines scaled like computers, a car engine would shrink to the size of an ant and produce a thousand-fold more horsepower; actual ant-sized engines produce 100,000 times less power.

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) set a maximum conversion rate of photons into electrons of about 33 percent; commercial cells today are already at 26 percent.

32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) sets a maximum capture of energy in moving air of 60 percent; commercial turbines already achieve 45 percent.

33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500 percent greater than the maximum theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.

34. About 30kg of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of just one kilogram of hydrocarbons.

35. For every kilogram of battery fabricated, at least 100 kg of materials are mined, moved and processed.

36. Storing the energy equivalent of just one barrel of oil, which weighs 140kg, requires 9,000kg (9 tonnes) of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

37. Carrying the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would require $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.

38. It takes the energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.

39. A battery-centric grid and car world means mining gigatons more of the earth to access lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, cobalt, etc.—and using millions of tons of oil and coal both in mining and to fabricate metals and concrete.

40. China's electricity grid is 70 percent coal-fuelled. And since China dominates global battery production, electric vehicles (EVs) using Chinese batteries will create more carbon-dioxide than saved by replacing oil-burning engines.

41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel—doable, though with elaborately expensive logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.

* * * * * 
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University, and the author of 'Work in the Age of Robots,' published by Encounter Books.
This article previously appeared at Economics 21 and FEE[Image Credit: Anders Hellberg [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

7 ways social justice warriors threaten freedom of speech

So-called "social justice” says that "your liberty and mine are justified only if and to the extent that it serves or benefits the interests of others, especially poor others."

Over the weekend, the Gladstone Club in London hosted the 'Speaking Truth to Social Justice' conference. In his talk ''How Social Justice Silences," speaker Peter Boghossian laid out seven ways in which so-called social justice threatens freedom of speech:
#1 Name-Calling:. "Social-justice advocates use name-calling to silence people". Peter tells us how "Nazi" is a popular goto

#2 Claiming that speech is violence: Claiming speech is violence is a way to cut off dialogue before it even starts.

#3 'Inclusion': @peterboghossian is telling us about the difference between a 'welcoming' environment and an environment that restricts speech under the guise of 'Inclusion.'

#4 Disinvitations: This is the common issue of people receiving invitations to speak, then having them revoked due to complainants about their political positions. The list of disinvitations is long.
@peterboghossian says it's more likely to happen to those on the right.

#5 Bias response teams: This is the practice of encouraging students to report "offensive" speech so that a panel can investigate and punish offenders where necessary.
The new thing now is "being offended by proxy."
@peterboghossian talks about the growing trend of being offended on someone else's behalf and making a complaint.
#6 Cancel culture: This is the boycotting, shunning or ignoring of those (usually a public figure) who say things deemed 'offensive.' 
#7 Idea laundering: A term coined by @BretWeinstein. It's the act of ideologically motivated individuals forming a peer-review group to publish faulty ideas in journals to pass them off as 'knowledge'.
To this list I will add two other common phenomena seen recently here in NZ are 
#8 Ridicule: One can easily spot the local social-justice advocate by their reference to free speech advocates as supporters of "freeze peach." This is considered to be humour.
#9 Thug's Veto: Inducing organisers to cancel a speaking event by a threat of violence.
[Summary by Stephen Knight on Twitter]

Friday, 11 October 2019

"The present political necessity ought to be of no concern for the economic scientist; the chief task of the economic theorist or political philosopher should be to operate on public opinion to make politically possible [in the future] what may be politically impossible today." #QotD

"The present political necessity ought to be of no concern for the economic scientist. I strongly feel, as I will not cease repeating, that the chief task of the economic theorist or political philosopher should be to operate on public opinion to make politically possible [in the future] what may be politically impossible today."
          ~ F.A. Hayek

Thursday, 10 October 2019

An affront to democracy

I hear many commentators across all their media bemoaning the very low number of folk voting in these council elections. 'This is terrible,' they cry. 'Too many don't' care!' they wail. 'We must get more participation in our democracy,' they insist.

Have these whiners considered that people not voting are participating in democracy? That, in fact, there are many, many reasons not to care about the smiling drones whose names appear on their ballot papers? That by not returning their voting papers, binning them, or not even bothering to read them, that non-voters are casting a vote?

The vote they are casting is for None of The Above.

It is for A Plague on All Your Houses.

It is for You're All Such Sacks Of Shit That I Wouldn't Vote For One Of You If My Arse Was On Fire.

It is for You're All As Bad As Each Other So It Matters Not A Jot Who I Vote For Anyway.

It is for There Are Many More Important Things In My Life Than Wasting It On Choosing Between Several Different Kinds Of Liar.

It's a non-vote. Which is still a vote.

There are many entirely valid reasons in every election for people choosing not to fill in and return voting papers. But that's what they choose to do: not to fill out and return them. It's their choice -- and not a single cent of government money should be spent dissuading them of that choice.

Because that would be an affront to democracy.

‘But the European debate is conducted in a parallel world: Westminster does not understand the country, and Brussels does not understand Westminster…" #QotD

"But the European debate is conducted in a parallel world: Westminster does not understand the country, and Brussels does not understand Westminster. We continue to try to strip away illusions but it is an uphill struggle…"
~ A "Downing Street official," quoted in the article 'Is the EU about to offer a time-limited backstop?'

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

"Many in Washington fear that China is already eating America’s lunch. Yet China cannot be a true competitor to the US until it allows merit and innovation to allocate capital and rewards. An economy built on wage suppression and state investment can be large, but it cannot be competitive in the long-term." #QotD

"Many in Washington fear that China is already eating America’s lunch. Yet China cannot be a true competitor to the US until it allows merit and innovation to allocate capital and rewards. An economy built on wage suppression and state investment can be large, but it cannot be competitive in the long-term.
    "Imagine if 80% of the bank loans in America went to politicians. Putting resources into the hands of officials reduces returns. The more the Chinese state spends, the lower returns are and the higher the debt burden rises. The rule of the factions continues. Unless the state retreats, it may yet bankrupt the country."

~ Leo Austin, from his article 'China’s economy runs on corruption – and the state is scared'

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

"... The bottom line is that pretty much everything Mr. Trump has promised on the trade front by imposing tariffs hasn’t panned out, even if the president persists in saying the opposite." #QotD

"... The bottom line is that pretty much everything Mr. Trump has promised on the trade front by imposing tariffs hasn’t panned out, even if the president persists in saying the opposite."
          ~ Veronique De Rugy, from the post 'Trump’s Trade Fallacies'

Monday, 7 October 2019

Friday, 4 October 2019

"Poverty is 'sustainable,' prosperity is progressive." #QotD

"Poverty is 'sustainable,' prosperity is progressive...
    "Sustainability" is not a good way to think about things. "'Sustainability' implies that our goal should be repetition: that we want to do something that can be repeated over and over and over.
    "But I think of life in terms of evolution or progress. We don't want to do the same thing over and over and over, we want to find better and better ways of doing things...
If people are free, and they are free to use energy and to use technology, they can have really good lives even in places with naturally inhospitable climates.
    "Is it sustainable [for a society] to live in poverty for 10,000 years? Well, yeah, that's sustainable, but it's not progressive. So I want to be progressive, not sustainable."

          ~ Alex Epstein, from his post 'Poverty is 'sustainable,' prosperity is progressive'

Thursday, 3 October 2019

As a master of demagogic technique Marx was a genius; for him all politics was only the continuation of war by other means" #QoTD

"As a master of demagogic technique Marx was a genius; this cannot be sufficiently emphasised. He found the propitious historical moment for uniting the masses into a single political movement, and was himself on the spot to lead this movement. For him all politics was only the continuation of war by other means; his political art was always political tactics.

    "The socialist parties which trace their origin back to Marx have kept this up, as have those who have taken the Marxist parties for their model. They have elaborated the technique of agitation, the cadging for votes and for souls, the stirring up of electoral excitement, the street demonstrations, and the terrorism. To learn the technique of these things requires years of hard study. At their party conferences and in their party literature, the Marxians give more attention to questions of organisation and of tactics than to the most important basic problems of politics. In fact, if one wished to be more precise one would have to admit that nothing interests them at all except from the point of view of party tactics and that they have no interest to spare for anything else."
~ Ludwig Von Mises, from the chapter 'Destructionism' in his book Socialism: An Economic & Sociological Analysis
[Hat tip Immaculate Perception

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

This one-sided debate we're having about James Cook ... [update 2]

James Cook (1728-1779), painted by Nathaniel Dance-Holland [public domain]
You would think from reading media reports of James Cook in recent days that he did little more in his long life but come to New Zealand to commit "hara or atrocities" -- two words used this morning on Radio New Zealand to discuss this man's contribution to history.

RNZ's report this morning recounts how an "expression of regret" on the part of the Crown is to be given, as part of the 250-year commemorations of Cook's arrival to these shores, to "leaders of Gisborne iwi." This is accompanied on the RNZ website (our "public broadcaster") by "related stories" with a headline "He Was a Barbarian," and another recounting how graffiti on a James Cook statue in Gisborne is "an act of activism that prompts debate about New Zealand's history" inciting a "hard but necessary korero."

If this is a "debate" over Cook's legacy in this year of commemoration of his first voyage here, then if this sort of media coverage is any guide, it is a very one-sided one.

Acknowledge as you must that the killing of any innocent is a tragedy. Indeed, that is just how Cook saw these nine deaths, as we will see. But all such incidents happen within a context that, if our "korero" is to be an honest one, must be part of every account.

That First Encounter

Cook was down here in the Pacific not to rape and pillage but to carry out astronomical measurements and, while down here, to explore the botany and geography and to map the coastline of this country -- a place of whom the rest of the world knew little about the inhabitants other than that four of Abel Tasman's crew had been killed by them in 1642. This being the main reason for Tasman spending little more time here, scarpering as soon as the slaughter started.

And as fearful as Cook's crew must have been of their imminent first encounter, imagine how it must have appeared to those on land:
To picture how those undreamed-of strangers must have appeared to the Maori, we must imagine what our reactions would be if we suffered a Martian invasion. According to one Maori chief, Te Horeta Taniwha, who as a small boy was present when Cook came to Mercury Bay, the Maori at first thought the white men were goblins and their ship a god. Eighty years later, the old man recalled their astonishment when one of the goblins pointed a walking-stick at a shag and, amidst thunder and lightning, the bird fell down dead. "There was one supreme man in that ship. We knew that was the lord of the whole by his perfect gentlemanly and noble demeanour.' [1]
A startling and wholly unexpected encounter for the locals! So how did this noble and gentlemanly figure oversee the death of (what is said to be) nine men at Poverty Bay? Recall that this was Cook's first encounter with a people of whom little was known other than a slaughter. He had come prepared, inviting on the voyage a friendly Tahitian called Tupia to help with interpretation. Cook's Endeavour arrived in Poverty Bay after first sighting East Cape two days earlier, anchoring "in a deep bay where it was hoped to find wood, water and fresh provisions."
The natives were numerous -- "a strong raw-boned, well-made active people..." as Cook described them -- and their speech was near enough to Tahitian for Tupia to be able to talk with them. Far from being friendly, however, they were insolent and aggressive, and showed little wish to trade. This was their first contact with white men, and they had yet to learn the chastening power of firearms. There were minor skirmishes ashore in which two Maori were killed and several wounded. 
    When a fishing canoe came near the ship's boats Cook ordered those in it to be brought aboard, forcibly if need be, so that Tupia could explain to them the visitor's desire for peace and friendship. Not surprisingly the natives resisted. A volley was fired and four were killed. Cook's conscience about the affair was uneasy, and his excuse that otherwise he and his companions would have been "knocked on the head" must have sounded thin even to himself.
    [Ships Botanist Joseph] Banks was shocked. He wrote that it was the most disagreeable day his life had yet seen, and added: "Black be the mark for it." In their brief time ashore he and [his assistant] Solander collected a meagre forty plants, and they were glad to get away from the place. So was Cook. 
    He named it Poverty Bay, "because it afforded us no one thing we wanted," and the unhappy name has stuck. On its shores now stands the town of Gisborne. [2]
So now you have some wider context on which to judge this debate, and the beginning of some context to deduce whether this 250-year commemoration should be more celebration or commiseration.

An impression by naturalist Alexander Sporing of Endeavour's  1769
encounter with the defiant occupants of a Maori war canoe,

Could It Have Been Better?

As both Cook and Banks agreed at the time, it could have been a whole lot better. Indeed, they had hoped fervently it would be so -- and in many later landings on this voyage it was, especially as Cook discovered (as many rugby-playing nations have since discovered too) that, despite their obvious love of fighting, "the main purpose of the Maori [haka] was to demonstrate their courage by insulting the white man rather than actually to attack them."[3]

And it could have been a whole lot worse -- as it had been for those local inhabitants who had encountered Cortez in Mexico, Pizarro in Peru, or the Belgians in the Congo - or for those Maori who almost at the same time, encountered the likes of French sea captain Jean-Francois Marie De Surville -- or for the crew of Tobias Furneaux, or Marion du Fresne and his crew.

First contacts between two entirely unknown cultures invite trouble. There is no reason to believe Cook wished to kill anyone, and every reason to believe he intended only peace and fervently regretted what happened.

Cook's Legacy

 If this is a debate, then let us make a case for this man and his legacy. He is much, much more than the cartoon figure appearing on NZ websites in recent days. To paraphrase George Reisman, "Those who do not understand the place of Cook have been intellectually barbarized by corrupt education."

Cook left New Zealand on this first voyage having observed a people mired in war, slavery and human sacrifice, yet still "deeply impressed with what he had seen of New Zeland and its people." [4]  With this voyage, and his mapping and reports -- and those of Banks and other scientists accompanying him on this voyage -- he left behind a people now connected, through the small amount of trade conducted and the great amounts to come, to the international division of labour. And with it Western Civilisation.

Whatever the accomplishments of Maori in their eight centuries here, what Cook and other explorers brought with them was this link to this wider accomplishment grafted out over many millennia. Over those millennia, savagery was steadily (if irregularly) diminished around the globe. As it has here in New Zealand.

This is not trivial. Without it, human progress on the scale we all now take for granted would not be possible.

To further paraphrase George Reisman,
Those who deny [this] demonstrate that they have not made the knowledge and values that constitute Western Civilization their own. They are self-confessed and self-made aliens living in the midst of Western Civilization yet preferring to all of the knowledge and values that constitute it, the meagre, primitive state of knowledge and values constituting the culture of “indigenous peoples,” who are at a level comparable to that of people who lived many thousands of years ago, with no knowledge of reading or writing, and hardly any knowledge of science, mathematics, philosophy, music, or art. 
    Whoever, in the words of Ludwig von Mises, prefers life to death, health to disease, and wealth to poverty, is logically obliged to prefer Western Civilization and its offshoots of individual freedom and capitalism to all other civilizations and cultures that have ever existed.
'The Death of Cook,' 1785, by Francesco Bartolozzi, William Byrne, John Webber [public domain]

Correcting the Debate

Cook himself was killed at Kealakakua Bay, Hawaii, murdered by another misunderstanding, "sacrificed by the priests of Hawaii. They had made a living god of him and had then realised their error, and the only way to prove him mortal in the sight of the people was to kill him. Many great men have died for the same reason." [5] The man known as to Britons as "the ablest and most renowned navigator this or any other country has produced" was dead. It was said that on hearing the news "all Britain mourned,"
and not only Britain but her friends and her enemies and the whole western world. No-one could be sure how the people of his favourite island, Tahiti, would have reacted, for in their eyes he was a demi-god and presumably immportal ...
Cook was essentially a man of peace. He never commanded a ship of the line, and he never fought in a major naval engagement; yet apart from Nelson he remains today the most famous of all Britain's captains ... 
He was a natural leader of men, a peerless seaman and navigator, a superb cartographer, an acute and accurate observer, and the foremost explorer os his own age. He died knowing that his acheivements in three historic voyages made between 1768 and 1779 could never be surpassed or even again be equalled, for he had left comparatively little for others to do.
"It is almost impossible," say the authors of The Voyages of Captain Cook, "to overstate Cook's contribution to geographical knowledge":
On the negatiive side, he silenced forever those theorists ... who insistead that there must be a great southern continent to counterbalance the land mass of the northern hemisphere, and he disproveed the theory that there existed a practical north-west passage around the top of America...
On the positive side, he discovered and charted much of the Pacific that we know today, from the west coast of Canada and the Hawaiian islands to New Caledonia; he established, by sailing around it, that New Zealand was no part of a mythical continent but two large, narrowly separated islands; he disproved the Dutch belief that "New Holland" was entirely barren by traversing the whole length of its fertile eastern coast, thus paving the way for British settlement there eighteen years later; and he confirmed that a strait separated New Guinea from what is now Australia.
He did much more however. He pioneered and perfected the use of the chronometer to determine longitude, and so took a lot of the guesswork out of navigation. He showed by practical example how scurvy, the greatest single scourge of seafarers, could be controlle and conquered. He wrote simply and informatively about the places he visited and with humanity and insight about the people he met and how they lived. His accounts of his voyages, illustrated by the various artists who accompanied him, became best-selling books which not only broadened the knowledge and mental horizons of the many who read them but lent such apparent weight to the theories of Rousseau and other philosophers of teh back-tonature school that it took several decades of earnest missionary propaganda to tarnish the poppular image of the 'noble savage.' And as father of modern marine surveying he esatablished a tradition and fouded a line that extended through Vancouver, Bligh, Broughton, Flinders, Owen, Fitzroy and others far into the nineteenth century. 
It is remarkable enough that any one man could have achieved so much, but in Cook's case it is even more remarkable ... for he came into the world with no advantage at all save his own intelligence and will.[6]
He was a great man, an Enlightenment-era hero,  and a world-historical figure. That an apology is now possible for what he himself abundantly regretted in that first encounter is a measure of how the world and New Zealand's place in it has changed since then, not least because of him and the values he both represented and helped bring here.

And since we can all now share a similar sense of humour, here's Billy T. James' own reconstructions of those historic "first contacts" ...

[1] Keith Sinclair, A History of New Zealand (1991), p. 32-3
[2] Rex & Thea Rienits, The Voyages of Captain Cook (1968), p.43
[3] Ibid, p. 45
[4] Ibid, p. 50-51
[5] Ibid, p. 152
[6] Ibid, p. 12-14

UPDATE 1:  The Point of Order blog pays tribute to the great man, who
[in] ten years, in three voyages of discovery of high risk and prodigious burden, ... achieved what surely ranks as one of the greatest expansions of the known world (superbly chronicled in J.C. Beaglehole’s edition of Cook’s journals)...
The other marker which emerges from the journals is Cook’s humanity. For a man of initially-limited horizons and trammelled with great responsibility, Cook often showed keen understanding, a remarkably non-judgemental attitude and a willingness to see things from the other person’s point of view. It made him a shrewd and scientific observer, and gave him a claim to fineness of character.
The piece is beautifully written, and deserves to be read in full.  It concludes by suggesting Cook himself is also due an apology --
Cook’s life work took more than ten years. So there is still plenty of time...
UPDATE 2:  Don Brash abhors the "factually incorrrect meddling" of British High Commissioner Laura Clark.
"She acknowledged Cook's regret over the deaths but inflated the death toll to nine without acknowledging that he recorded in his diary four or five deaths at Gisborne," he said.
    "Unwittingly, the British High Commissioner sided with activists and helped them score a major propaganda point."
Backing the iwi's number, Anne Salmond responds that Brash's comments are "extremely unhelpful."

"This week marks the 138th birthday of Ludwig von Mises, the greatest defender of capitalism in the history of economic thought. No one is truly educated who has not read and studied his works. " #QotD

"[This week marks] the 138th birthday of Ludwig von Mises, the greatest defender of capitalism in the history of economic thought. No one is truly educated who has not read and studied his works.
His ideas deserve and have the ability to replace Marxism in people’s minds. They need to be read, studied, and spread further, to and by professors and teachers at all levels, to and by journalists, government officials, businessmen, and intelligent laymen in all walks of life.
    "Von Mises is important because his teachings are necessary to the preservation of material civilisation. As he showed, the base of material civilization is the division of labour. Without the higher productivity of labour made possible by the division of labour, the great majority of mankind would simply die of starvation. The existence and successful functioning of the division of labour, however, vitally depends on the institutions of a capitalist society—that is, on limited government and economic freedom, private ownership of land and all other property, exchange and money, saving and investment, economic inequality and economic competition, and the profit motive—institutions everywhere under attack for several generations...
    "Socialism, von Mises showed, in his greatest original contribution to economic thought, not only abolishes the incentive of profit and loss and the freedom of competition along with private ownership of the means of production, but makes economic calculation, economic coordination, and economic planning impossible, and therefore results in chaos. For socialism means the abolition of the price system and of the intellectual division of labour...
    "Von Mises's contributions to the debate between capitalism and socialism—the leading issue of modern times—are overwhelming... Von Mises demonstrated that capitalism is an economic system rationally planned by the combined, self-interested efforts of all who participate in it. The failure of socialism, he showed, results from the fact that it represents not economic planning, but the destruction of economic planning, which exists only under capitalism and the price system.
    "Von Mises was not primarily anti-socialist. He was  pro-capitalist...
    "Von Mises showed that all of the accusations made against capitalism were either altogether unfounded or should be directed against government intervention, which destroys the workings of capitalism. He was among the first to point out that the poverty of the early years of the Industrial Revolution was the heritage of all previous history—that it existed because the productivity of labor was still pitifully low; because scientists, inventors, businessmen, savers and investors could only step by step create the advances and accumulate the capital necessary to raise it. He showed that all the policies of so-called labor and social legislation were actually contrary to the interests of the masses of workers they were designed to help—that their effect was to cause unemployment, retard capital accumulation, and thus hold down the productivity of labor and the standard of living of all. In a major original contribution to economic thought, he showed that depressions were the result of government-sponsored policies of credit expansion designed to lower the market rate of interest. Such policies, he showed, created large-scale malinvestments, which deprived the economic system of liquid capital and brought on credit contractions and thus depressions...
    "Von Mises's books deserve to be required reading in every college and university curriculum—not just in departments of economics, but also in departments of philosophy, history, government, sociology, law, business, journalism, education, and the humanities. He himself should be awarded an immediate posthumous Nobel Prize—indeed, more than one. He deserves to receive every token of recognition and memorial that our society can bestow. For as much as anyone in history, he laboured to preserve it. If he is widely enough read, his labours may actually succeed in helping to save it.
~ George Reisman, a student of Ludwig Von Mises, from his Tweet tribute, and his 1981 article 'Ludwig von Mises: Defender of Capitalism'

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

The Free Speech Coalition has just helped to undermine free speech.

In seeking a High Court review of the Auckland Council's decision to cancel a talk by Lauren Southern & Stefan Molyneux, the Free Speech Coalition risked creating a fearful precedent. Unsurprisingly, news has just confirmed that the Coalition has lost the case. Fortunately, however, it seems the Court has not created any of the precedents we feared.

That they didn't is perhaps only pure chance.

In taking this case, the Coalition did not seek to reverse the council's decision -- the speakers have long returned home, and one of them (Southern) has now announced her retirement from future combat. They sought only the creation of a legal precedent that would force future councils to provide venues for "political dialogue" whenever demanded.  Writing [here and here] at the time of cancellation, I and a fellow guest poster had argued that the Coalition's decision to take the case was a poor one.

Despite their battery of QCs advising and arguing on their behalf, we argued that the Coalition's case had no basis either in law or on the principles of free speech; that, in this instance, council were acting not as all-powerful territorial authorities (which they are, but should not be) but as property owners (which they should not be, but are), and that [as we summarised here] in taking this case the Coalition risked instead creating a precedent that could threaten both speech and property owners:
  • by confirming that the Human Rights Act trumps the Bill of Rights Act; and since
  • the council was acting as a property owner rather than as a territorial authority, condemning owners of all public venues to be told whom and who not they may host on their own premises.
The case was lost. But while the precedent set is bad, it is not so bad as we feared.

The court did determine that in cancelling the event, the council was not exercising any "public power," but only that of any property owner. But because it was not exercising any public power, the court held that neither the Bill of Rights Act nor the Human Rights Act was relevant to the case. This at least is a relief.

In agreeing however with the council's claim that the decision to cancel was made "exclusively with regard for health and safety considerations arising from anticipated protest," the court has now handed a fresh and legally-minted Thug's Veto to anybody publicly wishing ill on any speaker they would like to "deplatform." This will mean that if controversial events are to go ahead in future in the teeth of public protest, they will require both a "comprehensive security plan and risk assessment," and the sort of courage that Massey University is belatedly showing.

In trying to smack the Council this time, the Coalition's ill-judged legal action threatened to have property owners smacked for all time. Thankfully, they have not been smacked. But all speakers, to the degree they make themselves unpopular, have been harmed.

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Here's an essential antidote to the recent full-court media press against fossil fuels: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

The book asks:
Could everything we know about fossil fuels be wrong?
And answers:
Yes. Probably.
For decades, environmentalists have told us that using fossil fuels is a self-destructive addiction that will destroy our planet. Yet at the same time, by every measure of human well-being, from life expectancy to clean water to climate safety, life has been getting better and better.

How can this be?

The explanation, energy expert Alex Epstein argues in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, is that we usually hear only one side of the story. We’re taught to think only of the negatives of fossil fuels, their risks and side effects, but not their positives—their unique ability to provide cheap, reliable energy for a world of seven billion people. And the moral significance of cheap, reliable energy, Epstein argues, is woefully underrated. Energy is our ability to improve every single aspect of life, whether economic or environmental.

If we look at the big picture of fossil fuels compared with the alternatives, the overall impact of using fossil fuels is to make the world a far better place. We are morally obligated to use more fossil fuels for the sake of our economy and our environment.

Drawing on original insights and cutting-edge research, Epstein argues that most of what we hear about fossil fuels is a myth. For instance . . .

Myth: Fossil fuels are dirty.
Truth: The environmental benefits of using fossil fuels far outweigh the risks. Fossil fuels don’t take a naturally clean environment and make it dirty; they take a naturally dirty environment and make it clean. They don’t take a naturally safe climate and make it dangerous; they take a naturally dangerous climate and make it even safer.

Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.
Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

Myth: Fossil fuels are hurting the developing world.
Truth: Fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. If we withhold them, access to clean water plummets, critical medical machines like incubators become impossible to operate, and life expectancy drops significantly. Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West.

Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that 
“fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and to demonise, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.”

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another." #QotD

"The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what colour people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another."

          ~ Milton Friedman, from his 1993 article "Why Government Is the Problem"

Monday, 30 September 2019

50 years of climate hysteria

Perhaps one reason older folk are more sanguine about the prospects for our climate future is that we've heard many of the climate scare stories before. We've heard them, and we've noted that they never came to pass ...

  • Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of IndiaPakistanChina and the Near EastAfrica. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions....By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.
    --Peter Gunter, a professor at 
    North Texas State University. Spring 1970 issue of ‘The Living Wilderness.’
  • Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” 
    --‘Life’ Magazine, January 1970
  • Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.--George Wald, Harvard Biologist, Earth Day, 1970
  • It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.
    --Denis Hayes, chief organiser for Earth Day, 1970
  • …some scientists estimate that the world's known supplies of oil, tin, copper, and aluminium will be used up within your lifetime.
    --1990s school textbook The United States and Its People, quoted by Ronald Bailey in testimony to US House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, 
    Feb 4, 2004
  • The period of global food security is over. As the demand for food continues to press against supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise, but how much.
    --Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, 1981
  • The world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed the projected additions to the world's population.-- Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown, State of the World Report, 1994
  • The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population.
    —Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)
  • The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.
    —Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (Ballantine Books 1968)
  • I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1969)
  • In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.—Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)
  • Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity…in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.
    —Paul Ehrlich in (1976)
  • Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.
    --Sen. Gaylord Nelson, 1970
  • There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production—with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon… The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it… This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.
    --Science writer Peter Gwynne writing in ‘The Cooling World,’ ‘Newsweek’ magazine, April 28, 1975
  • This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.
    —Lowell Ponte in his book The Cooling, 1976 (which was endorsed by US Senator Claiborne Pell and Bush adviser on global warming Stephen Schneider)
  • At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable... If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. … This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.
    —Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, speaking on Earth Day 1970. Watt is Editor in Chief, Encyclopaedia of Human Ecology Advisory Board Member, Center for the Study of CO2 and Climate Change
  • By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’ 
    -- Kenneth Watt, again
  • Indeed, when we wake up 20 years from now and find that the Atlantic Ocean is just outside WashingtonD.C., because the polar icecaps are melting, we may look back at this pivotal election.
    --New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, writing in NY Times, 
    Dec 8, 2000.
  • Frostban -- a harmless bacteria genetically engineered to protect plants from freezing temperatures -- "could irreversibly affect worldwide climate and precipitation patterns over a long, long period of time.
    -- Founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin, 1986
  • The economic impact of BIV (Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus) on the beef and dairy industries is likely to be devastating in the years to come.
    --Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef 1992
  • Biotech crops will "run amok"; they will create "super bugs"; they will lead to farmers using "greater quantities of herbicides."
    --Jeremy Rifkin, 1999 
    Boston Globe
  • The use of biotechnology might "risk a fatal interruption of millions of years of evolutionary development? Might not the artificial creation of life spell the end of the natural world? ... cause irreversible damage to the biosphere, making genetic pollution an even greater threat to the planet than nuclear or petrochemical pollution?”
    -- Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century 1999
  • Current estimates that a flu pandemic could infect 20% of the world's population and cause 7.5 million deaths are "among the more optimistic predictions of how the next pandemic might unfold.”
    Osterhaus et al. Nature May 2005
  • The next flu pandemic could kill as many as 150 million people.
    Dr. David Nabarro. WHO spokesman Sept 2005.
  • As many as 142 million people around the world could die if bird flu turns into a "worst case" influenza pandemic and global economic losses could run to $4.4 trillion - the equivalent of wiping out the entire Japanese economy for a year.
    Report entitled Global Macroeconomic Consequences of Pandemic Influenza, from the Lowy Institute in Australia. Feb 2006.
  • The seven atmospheric scientists predict a global warming of ''almost unprecedented magnitude'' in the next century. It might even be sufficient to melt and dislodge the ice cover of West Antarctica, they say, eventually leading to a worldwide rise of 15 to 20 feet in the sea level.
    -- New York Times report, 1981
  • If the current pace of the buildup of these gases continues, the effect is likely to be a warming of 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit [between now and] the year 2025 to 2050…. The rise in global temperature is predicted to … caus[e] sea levels to rise by one to four feet by the middle of the next century.”
    — Philip Shabecoff, “Global Warming Has Begun.” New York Times, June 24, 1988.
  • We've got to ... try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong ... we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
    --Senator Timothy Wirth, 1988
  • We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
    -- environmentalist and presidential adviser, Stephen Schneider, in an interview with Discover magazine, 1989

  • UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ″eco- refugees,′ ′ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP. He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control. As the warming melts polar icecaps, ocean levels will rise by up to three feet, enough to cover the Maldives and other flat island nations, Brown told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. Coastal regions will be inundated; one-sixth of Bangladesh could be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt’s arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study. ″Ecological refugees will become a major concern, and what’s worse is you may find that people can move to drier ground, but the soils and the natural resources may not support life.."
    -- Senior U.N. environmental official, Noel Brown, in 1989

  • [Within] as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world’s animals or it continues to feed the world’s people. It cannot do both.
  • --environmentalist George Monbiot, writing in The Guardian in 2002
  • On June 23, 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the House of Representatives that there was a strong "cause and effect relationship" between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere. At that time, Hansen also produced a model of the future behaviour of the globe’s temperature, which he had turned into a video movie that was heavily shopped in Congress. That model predicted that global temperature between 1988 and 1997 would rise by 0.45°C. Ground-based temperatures from the IPCC show a rise of 0.11°C, or more than four times less than Hansen predicted. The forecast made in 1988 was an astounding failure, and IPCC’s 1990 statement about the realistic nature of these projections was simply wrong.
    --Patrick Michaels testifying before Congress in 2000
  • In a 2007 case on auto emissions, [James Hansen] stated in his deposition that most of Greenland’s ice would soon melt, raising sea levels 23 feet over the course of 100 years. Subsequent research published in Nature magazine on the history of Greenland’s ice cap demonstrated this to be impossible. Much of Greenland’s surface melts every summer, meaning rapid melting might reasonably be expected to occur in a dramatically warming world. But not in the one we live in. The 'Nature' study found only modest ice loss after 6,000 years of much warmer temperatures than human activity could ever sustain. 
  • -- Patrick Michaels summarising another Hansen prediction 
  • We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.
    --James Hansen, scaremongering again in 2007 
  • According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event” … “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
    -- Independent (UK) report, March, 2000
  • Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade...
    -- Janos Bogardi, director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn, 2005
  • The Scottish skiing industry has no more than 20 years left.
    Adam Watson, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, 2004
  • Unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return, Gore said. He sees the situation as "a true planetary emergency."
    --Al Gore in 2006, promoting his Oscar-winning film called, without irony, The Inconvenient Truth
  • Some of the most memorable images from Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, are the graphics that show how rising ocean levels will dramatically alter our planet’s coastlines. As Greenland’s ice sheets collapse, Gore predicts that our shores will be flooded and sea-bordering cities will sink beneath the water leaving millions of people homeless. His narration tells the audience that, due to global warming, melting ice could release enough water to cause at 20-foot rise in sea level “in the near future.”
    2008 review of Al Gore's 2006 movie
  • More efforts than ever before must be exerted to enable poor countries to prepare for impacts because it had been estimated that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010.
     President of the UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim, opening the General Assembly debate on global warming, 2008
  • In 2020, the UN has projected that we will have 50 million environmental refugees.
    -- University of California, Los Angeles professor Cristina Tirado said at the 2011 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • The Oceans will begin to boil...
    --James Hansen in 2010, on so-called "runaway" global warming
  • In 2007, 2008 and 2009, Gore publicly and very hysterically warned that the North Pole would be ‘ice-free’ by around 2013 because of alleged ‘man-made global warming.’ Citing ‘climate’ experts, the government-funded BBC hyped the mass hysteria, running a now-embarrassing article under the headline: ‘Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’.’ Other establishment media outlets did the same.”
  •  A team of international climate scientists and researchers at NASA claims the Arctic summer will be ice-free in 2013.
    -- report in German online national daily Die Welt

  • “We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path,” [said James] Hansen and his fellow scientists [who] saw a tipping point occurring right before their eyes and that the Arctic was melting exactly the way they said it would.. 
    Hansen added that the Arctic would be ice-free in 5 to 10 years.
    -- report on James Hansen et al, from June 23, 2008
  • "[The Arctic is] melting at a brutal speed ... 
     Already last October I was predicting that the Arctic could be ice-free this summer” and “In August or September we will be seeing people cruising in sailboats up there.
    researcher Olav Orheim of the Norwegian Research Council, reported in 
    Der Spiegel 
    in 2008
  • Sydney's dams could be dry in as little as two years because global warming was drying up the rains, leaving the city "facing extreme difficulties with water."
    --Tim Flannery, Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist; Australia's leading conservationist, explorer, and global warming activist, speaking to ABC in 2005
  • The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.
    --Tim Flannery, speaking to the ABC, 2008
  • Brisbane will never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming has caused "a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas" and made the soil too hot, "so even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams and river systems ... "
    --Flannery again, speaking to the ABC in 2007
  • We only have four years to save the world. If “there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late... What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” he said.
    --Rajendra Pachauri, the former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reported in 2007
  • We have hours to act to avert a slow-motion tsunami that could destroy civilization as we know it.. Earth has a long time. Humanity does not. We need to act urgently. We no longer have decades; we have hours. We mark that in Earth Hour on Saturday.
    Elizabeth May, leader of the Canadian Greens, writing in 2009
  • Brown warned there was only “50 days to save the world from global warming,” the BBC reported. According to Brown there was “no plan B.”
    -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 2009
  • Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned in a grandstand speech which set out his concerns for the future of the planet. The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James's Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world... Delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, Charles said that without "coherent financial incentives and disincentives" we have just 96 months to avert "irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it."
    -- Prince Charles in 2009, as reported by The Independent (UK)
  •  Obama’s second term is “the last window of opportunity” to impose policies to restrict fossil fuel use. Wirth said it’s “the last chance we have to get anything approaching 2 degrees Centigrade,” adding that if “we don’t do it now, we are committing the world to a drastically different place.”
    -- United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth speaking to 'Climatewire' in 2012
  • "Over the past 50 years, southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming ... In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months."
    --Flannery yet again, speaking in 2007, the year he was named Australian of the Year
  • "We have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.”
    -- French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius, meeting with John Kerry in 2014

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