One of the biggest critics of electric cars also runs one of the worlds largest automakers.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has as much as begged customers to avoid buying his electric vehicles (EVs) because he loses so much money on them.
Demand for EVs isn't just weak — it's practically non-existent. Globally, electric cars have captured only 1% of the market.
Meanwhile, in the US alone, new sales records have been set as pickups trucks and SUVs powered by gas motors have experienced a massive resurgence in popularity.
It's not like the world's carmakers are against EVs. They've all seen Tesla make a business out of them, really from nothing, in just a decade.
The issue is that they shouldn't want to commit to building and marketing cars that consumers don't want. And make no mistake about it, consumers are not showing runaway EV interest.
There have now been perfectly viable, affordable, and technologically sophisticated electric cars in the market for the better part of ten years. And sales haven't improved to the extent that a carmaker would normally think about spending the billions necessary to develop new fleets of EVs.
And yet, the EVs just keep on coming. Now, even Marchionne is changing his tune, as Bloomberg reported. The carmaker will reveal an all-electric version of its Pacifica minivan at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, wrote Tommaso Ebhardt and Jamie Butters.
"'A key theme for 2017 will be the increased availability of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean told reporters. 'This provides a dilemma for automakers as they sacrifice traditional cash-cow internal combustion engine sales for expensive and lower-margin electric cars, necessary to meet onerous new emissions legislation.'"
All these new EVs look cool and point toward a future in which the old-school gas motor will be a museum piece. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of consumers, the new wave of EVs are largely science fiction.
Increasingly stringent new fuel-economy regulations are indeed driving the development of EVs, rather than natural market demand. The automakers derisively refer to these cars as "compliance vehicles" and undertake them only to be able to continue selling their profit drivers. Okay, that's not entirely why they explore EVs — they want to patent new propulsion technologies so that they don't get left in the dust if there is a big breakthrough that dramatically shifts that market.
The big car companies are hoping that a Donald Trump administration will give them a break on fuel-economy and emissions regulations. It remains to be seen if that will happen. But until then, the EVs will keep on coming, even if nobody wants to buy them.
The night pioneering astronaut John Glenn died, Jeff Bezos received a message from him.
Smithsonian Magazine was honoring Bezos, founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, at the American Ingenuity Awards on December 8.
Glenn was supposed to attend, but because of his declining health in the last month of his life, the former NASA astronaut wrote Bezos a letter on November 28, to be read at the ceremony.
Hours after he passed, Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, read the letter to Bezos at the awards.
"I can tell you I see the day coming when people will board spacecraft the same way millions of us now board jetliners," Glenn wrote. "When that happens, it will be largely because of your epic achievements this year."
Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed several rockets in the last year, and plans to launch its 313-feet-tall New Glenn rockets before 2020.
Before he received Glenn's letter, Bezos shared his condolences on Twitter Thursday:
Thank you, John Glenn. Godspeed.— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 8, 2016
Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died Thursday at age 95. He went on to become a US Senator for Ohio, and returned to space in 1998 as the oldest astronaut ever at the age of 77.
One of the most frequently heard claims from the Obama administration is that Obamacare is responsible for insuring 20 million adults who were previously uninsured. But Heritage Foundation research shows the administration’s figure is off by a few million.
The Department of Health and Human Services claims that 20 million people have gained health coverage since the enactment of Obamacare in 2010 through early 2016.
Of those people, 2.3 million are said to be young adults (ages 19 to 25) that gained coverage between 2010 and 2013 as a result of the Obamacare provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.
The remaining 17.7 million people gained health insurance from Obamacare’s first open enrollment period between October 2013 and early 2016.
However, it is important to note that the administration’s coverage estimates are based on survey data rather than calculating the actual change in coverage in different markets. Though surveys can provide useful information, they are not as precise as using enrollment data taken directly from insurance companies.
A recent analysis by The Heritage Foundation’s Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski uses the more accurate method, taking actual enrollment data from Medicaid and private insurance companies to assess the impact Obamacare has had on coverage.
The researchers found that just over 14 million people gained coverage from the end of 2013 to the end of 2015. Of those 14 million, 11.8 million gained their insurance through Medicaid and 2.2 million through private coverage.
The report provides several key takeaways from the first two years of Obamacare’s full implementation:
Enrollment in the individual market increased by 5.9 million and the self-insured employer market grew by 3.9 million. However, these increases were largely offset by an enrollment drop of 7.6 million people in fully insured employer group plans. Overall, the net gain in private market coverage was only 2.3 million people.
In states that adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, enrollment surged by 10.4 million. However, Medicaid enrollment also rose by 1.4 million in states that didn’t expand their Medicaid programs. Overall, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program accounts for 84 percent of the total coverage gains from Obamacare since 2014.
Though only two full years of data are available, Obamacare appears to be having less of an impact on both private and public insurance markets after its first year of implementation.
For example, while the individual market saw an upsurge of 40 percent in 2014 (the first year of Obamacare’s implementation), it drastically slowed in 2015, with enrollment growth of just 7 percent.
Likewise, the law seems to be having less impact on the fully insured employer group market. In 2014, enrollment in that sector fell by 11 percent, but in 2015, it nearly broke even, decreasing by only 2 percent. Medicaid enrollment also experienced a similar trend. In states that expanded, enrollment increased 23 percent in 2014 but slowed to 4 percent growth in 2015.
Understanding exactly how Obamacare has affected health coverage is important as Congress works to repeal Obamacare and replace it with market-based reforms in the coming months.
h/t Whig Zhou
Europe may fancy itself a global green leader, but many of its “eco-friendly” policies don’t stand up well to close scrutiny. Take, for example, the EU’s predilection for burning wood to help meet its self-imposed renewable energy targets. As New Scientist reports, lax oversight over where this wood is sourced may mean that this supposedly green policy is actually increasing emissions:
The EU gets 65 per cent of its renewable energy from biofuels – mainly wood – but it is failing to ensure this bioenergy comes from sustainable sources, and results in less emissions than burning fossil fuels. Its policies in some cases are leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than burning coal.“Burning forest biomass on an industrial scale for power and heating has proved disastrous,” says Linde Zuidema, bioenergy campaigner for forest protection group Fern. “The evidence that its growing use will increase emissions and destroy forests in Europe and elsewhere is overwhelming.”
Europe has a long history with this foolish green policy. Brussels can categorize burning wood chips and wood pellets as technically carbon neutral so long as the forests being felled to source all of this wood are responsibly and sustainably replanted. But, as is the case with any energy supply chain, it’s not as cut and dry (no pun intended) as that.Negligence and outright malfeasance can make this source of biomass a decidedly brown energy source. For one thing, you need to be able to monitor replanting in order to assure the so-called lifecycle of the wood you’re burning is carbon-neutral. For another, you need to account for the various emissions produced by the machines cutting all of this wood down, the transportation of that wood to processing facilities, the actual processing itself, and—in some cases—the trans-Atlantic shipment those pellets or chips ultimately embark on (much of Europe’s biomass comes from wood sourced from the southeast United States).If we wanted to be glib, we could simply point to the fact that burning wood is hardly the sort of future-focused energy strategy that a supposedly environmentally-conscious bloc ought to be embracing. But a closer examination vindicates that initial impression—that wood pellets and wood chips sound like dubious renewables—and exposes yet another example of downright foolish green policymaking in Europe.
The unexpected election of Donald Trump has created uncertainty and new challenges for most advocacy groups. Heterodox Academy is no different; we are witnessing two contradictory trends in the last month:
1. More criticism from people on the left who say that now, more than ever, our work plays into the agenda of the right because HxA validates their claim that universities lean left and are biased against conservatives.
2. More support from people on the left who say that now, more than ever, students and professors on the left must escape from bubbles and echo chambers and expose themselves to more viewpoint diversity.
I believe that both responses are correct, but within different time frames. HxA’s work does give the right a short-term tactical boost. They get to say “See? We told you so! Universities are partisan!” These boosts feel great, and this is why our work gets more coverage in right-leaning publications than in left-leaning ones. If you are a progressive professor who cares mainly about damage control this month, don’t join HxA.
But if you are a progressive professor who wants to strengthen the left in the long run, raise the credibility and federal funding of universities during a time of Republican dominance, and improve the reliability of the research upon which nearly all progressive reforms depend, then now, more than ever, is the time to join HxA.
Here is the case for joining and supporting Heterodox Academy, as made by three prominent voices from the left.
1) Nick Kristof
Kristof wrote a pair of New York Times columns this past May on the moral and educational case for viewpoint diversity. In A Confession of Liberal Intolerance he wrote:
“The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.”
Kristof was surprised by the intensity and uniformity of the response from progressive readers, who wrote things like “you don’t diversify with idiots.” In response, Kristof wrote a second column in which he laid out “three good reasons for universities to be more welcoming not just to women or blacks, but also to conservatives.”
A) “Stereotyping and discrimination are wrong, whether against gays or Muslims, or against conservatives or evangelicals.”
B) “There’s abundant evidence of the benefits of diversity. Bringing in members of minorities is not an act of charity but a way of strengthening an organization…Sure, achieving diversity is a frustrating process, but it enriches organizations and improves decision-making. So let’s aim for ideological as well as ethnic diversity.”
C) “When scholars cluster on the left end of the spectrum, they marginalize themselves. We desperately need academics like sociologists and anthropologists influencing American public policy on issues like poverty, yet when they are in an outer-left orbit, their wisdom often goes untapped.”
2) The Harvard Crimson
Three days after the election, the editors of Harvard’s main student newspaper published an editorial titled Elephant and Man at Harvard. They began by noting the results of a pre-election survey of Harvard undergraduates that found roughly 70% identifying as being on the left, and only 13% as being on the right. Only 6% said they would vote for Trump – far below the 35% of millennials nationwide who did so. They wrote that “the survey points to an overall lack of ideological diversity that should concern faculty, administrators, and students alike, especially at this moment in our history.” Here is their key argument:
“But when the disconnect has grown to such proportions, diversifying political expression in all settings ought to become an administrative priority. The pursuit of ‘Veritas’ which undergirds our intellectual life demands not only that each member of our community be able to debate politics freely, but also that we attend to the multitude of political views that exist in our nation. Stifling this discussion on campus is a disservice to our peers in the campus political minority, and to our own educational growth.
In the same vein, administrators and faculty should take active steps to ensure that students of all political stripes feel comfortable voicing their ideas, especially in the classroom. Concretely, this effort will likely involve actively encouraging the airing of different views, and curtailing unnecessary or inappropriate expressions of political favor by professors. Guaranteeing that more conservative professors teach in subject areas that clearly lean liberal, like the humanities, is also crucial.”
In the wake of the election, the editors of Nature published an editorial titled: Academia must resist political confirmation bias. The editors explained that “It is crucial to fight discrimination in all its forms, but it is unhelpful to exclude conservative voices from debate.”
They acknowledged that “confirmation bias is rife in all walks of life, including the practice of research and the political viewpoints of academic liberals. No one should kid themselves that they are immune.” The editors specifically noted the urgency of understanding contemporary populist movements (which are attempting to reverse progressive gains around the world) and said that “social scientists must weigh in more heavily to inform public debate and vigorously challenge misconceptions — on all sides.”
All of these writers understand that the left’s increasing numerical dominance of the academy has been a pyrrhic victory. John Stuart Mill explained it well in On Liberty:
“the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner.”
When political orthodoxy suppresses dissent, it is the dominant group that loses the most. In fact, a 2005 New York Times article on Chief Justice John Roberts’ education noted that the left’s dominance at Harvard may have created stronger conservatives and less able progressives: “Conservatives at Harvard [Norquist said] learned to be ‘tougher than anyone else.’ Unlike students on the left, he said, they were constantly being challenged.”
So if you are a professor who is upset by the right’s recent electoral success – at multiple levels of government, and in many countries beyond the USA – then join Heterodox Academy. Add your voice to that of 300 colleagues who have pledged to welcome and support viewpoint diversity. Together we can improve the vitality of our universities, the quality of our research, and the readiness of the next generation to take up the challenges of democratic citizenship in a divided nation. In the long run, would that harm the left, or help it?
Recently, on a mailing list I frequent, one of the regulars uttered the following sentence: “I’m told Breitbart is the preferred news source for the ‘alt-right’ (KKK and neo-nazis)”.
That was a pretty glaring error, there.
I was interviewed on Breitbart Tech once. I visit the site occasionally. I am not affiliated with the alt-right, but I’ve been researching the recent claims about it. So I can supply some observations from the ground.
First, while I’m not entirely sure of everything the alt-right is (it’s a rather amorphous phenomenon) it is not the KKK and neo-Nazis. The most that can truthfully be said is that ‘alt-right’ serves as a recent flag of convenience to which some old-fashioned white supremacists are busily trying to attach themselves.
Also, the alt-right is not Donald Trump and his Trumpkins, either. He’s an equally old-fashioned populist continuous with Willam Jennings Bryan and Huey Long. If you tossed a bunch of alt-right memes at him, I doubt he’d even understand them, let alone agree.
The defining characteristic of the alt-right is, really, corrosive snarkiness. To the extent an origin can be identified, it was as a series of message-board pranks on 4chan. There’s no actual ideological core to it – it’s a kind of oppositional attitude-copping without a program, mordantly nasty but unserious.
There’s also some weird occultism attached – the half-serious cult of KEK, aka Pepe, who may or may not be an ancient Egyptian frog-god who speaks to his followers via numerological coincidences. (Donald Trump really wouldn’t get that part.)
Some elements of the alt-right are in fact racist (and misogynist, and homophobic, and other bad words) a la KKK/Nazi, but that’s not a defining characteristic and it’s anyway difficult to tell the genuine haters from those for whom posing as haters is a form of what 4chan types call “griefing”. That’s social disruption for the hell of it.
It is worth noting that another part of what is going on here is a visceral rejection of politically-correct leftism, one which deliberately inverts its premises. The griefers pose as racists and misogynists because they think it’s the most oppositional stance they can take to bullies and rage-mobbers who position themselves as anti-racists and feminists.
My sense is that the true haters are a tiny minority compared to the griefers and anti-PC rejectionists, but the griefers are entertained by others’ confusion on this score and don’t intend to clear it up.
Whether the alt-right even exists in any meaningful sense is questionable. To my anthropologist’s eye it has the aspect of a hoax (or a linked collection of hoaxes) being worked by 4chan griefers and handful of more visible provocateurs – Milo Yiannopolous, Mike Cernovich, Vox Day – who have noticed how readily the mainstream media buys inflated right-wing-conspiracy narratives and are working this one for the lulz. There’s no actual mass movement behind their posturing, unless you think a thousand or so basement-dwelling otaku are a mass movement.
I know Milo Yannopolous slightly – he is who interviewed me for Beitbart – and we have enough merry-prankster tendency in common that I think I get how his mind works. I’m certain that he, at any rate, is privately laughing his ass off at everyone who is going “alt-right BOOGA BOOGA!”
And there are a lot of such people. What these provocateurs are exploiting is media hysteria – the alt-right looms largest in the minds of self-panickers who project their fears on it. And of course in the minds of Hillary Clinton’s hangers-on, who would rather attribute her loss to a shadowy evil conspiracy than to a weak candidate and a plain-old bungled campaign.
I’m worried, however, that that the alt-right may not remain a loose-knit collection of hoaxes – that the self-panickers are actually creating what they fear.
For there is a deep vein of anti-establishment anger out there (see Donald Trump, election of). The alt-right (to the limited and conditional extent it now exists) could capture that anger, and its provocateurs are doing their best to make you think it already has, but they’re scamming you – they’re fucking with your head. The entire on-line ‘alt-right’ probably musters fewer people than the Trumpster’s last victory rally.
It’s a kind of dark-side Discordian hack in progress, and I’m concerned that it might succeed. Vox Day is trying to ideologize the alt-right, actually assemble something coherent from the hoaxes. He might succeed, or someone else might. Draw some comfort that it won’t be the Neo-Nazis or KKK – they’re real fanatics of the sort the alt-right defines itself by mocking. Mein Kampf and ironic nihilism don’t mix well.
The best way to beat the “alt-right” is not to overestimate it, not to feed it with your fear. If you keep doing that, the vast majority of the rootless and disaffected who have never heard of it might decide there’s a strong horse there and sign on.
Oh, and a coda about Breitbart: anyone who thinks Breitbart is far right needs to get out of their mainstream-media bubble more. Compared to sites like WorldNetDaily or FreeRepublic or TakiMag or even American Thinker, Breitbart is pretty mild stuff.
All those fake-news allegations against Breitbart are pretty rich coming from a media establishment that gave us Rathergate, “Hands up don’t shoot!”, and the “Jackie” false-rape story and was quite recently exchanging coordination emails with the Clinton campaign. Breitbart isn’t any more propagandistic than CBS or Rolling Stone, it’s just differently propagandistic.
November 2016: After 14 months of global average temperatures closer to Mr Gore’s warming scenario than to Professor Armstrong’s bet on no-trend, the Climate Bet is more in contention than it has been for the past four years. Some commentators expectations of a rapid cooling after the recent warm El Niño months have not so far been realised in global average temperature anomaly.
So, with only 13 months of The Bet remaining, what would need to happen to temperatures over that time for Mr Gore to win the bet—had he been willing to take it. After November’s 0.45°C outturn, and a total of 107 months of the bet, Mr Gore’s cumulative absolute error is nearly 21% greater than Professor Armstrong’s. As a consequence, global temperatures would need to average higher than they were in November for the remainder of the bet period. Temperature anomalies have exceeded that level in 9 months of the bet period to date.
Followers of the site may have noticed that we have not posted news items over the past few months. Please accept our apologies. Having overcome some software and administrative problems, we expect to be posting updates regularly for the remainder of the bet period.
As forecasters attempt to understand exactly what happened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the data itself may hold vital clues.
by Judith Curry
On experts, lukewarmers, and unhappy heretics.
Shortly after I started Climate Etc. in 2010, Scientific American published an article Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues. I responded with a blog post Heresy and the Creation of Monsters. Climate heresy, in response to the consensus climate change dogma, has been a major motivation and theme at Climate Etc.
This past week, there have been two terrific articles on climate heresy and heretics.
Scott Adams – The non-expert problem
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has published an astonishingly insightful article: The non-expert problem and climate change science. Excerpts:
Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation.
If you have been involved in any climate change debates online or in person, you know they always take the following trajectory: Climate science believers state that all the evidence, and 98% of scientists, are on the same side. Then skeptics provide links to credible-sounding articles that say the science is bunk, and why. How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge who is right?
You probably default to trusting whatever the majority of scientists tell you. But how reliable are experts, even when they are mostly on the same side?
Ask the majority of polling experts who said Trump had only a 2% chance of becoming president. Ask the experts who said the government’s historical “food pyramid” was good science. What you really want to know is whether climate change looks more like the sort of thing that turns out to be right or the sort of thing that turns out to be wrong.
It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this:
I’m a trained hypnotist and I have studied the methods of persuasion for years. No one is using reason, facts, or common sense to arrive at a decision about climate science. Here’s what you are using to arrive at your decision:
On the question of fear, in my experience, any danger we humans see coming far in the future we always find a way to fix.
On the question of trusting experts, I see experts as far less credible than most people assume.
And when it comes to pattern recognition, I see the climate science skeptics within the scientific community as being similar to Shy Trump Supporters. The fact that a majority of scientists agree with climate science either means the evidence is one-sided or the social/economic pressures are high. And as we can plainly see, the cost of disagreeing with climate science is unreasonably high if you are a scientist.
And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts.
Roger Pielke Jr – My unhappy life as a climate heretic
Roger Pielke Jr has published a stunning op-ed in the WSJ – My unhappy life as a climate heretic. Excerpts:
Much to my surprise, I showed up in the WikiLeaks releases before the election. In a 2014 email, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta in 2003, took credit for a campaign to have me eliminated as a writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. In the email, the editor of the think tank’s climate blog bragged to one of its billionaire donors, Tom Steyer: “I think it’s fair [to] say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538.”
WikiLeaks provides a window into a world I’ve seen up close for decades: the debate over what to do about climate change, and the role of science in that argument.
When substantively countering an academic’s research proves difficult, other techniques are needed to banish it. That is how politics sometimes works, and professors need to understand this if we want to participate in that arena.
More troubling is the degree to which journalists and other academics joined the campaign against me.
I believe climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax. But my research led me to a conclusion that many climate campaigners find unacceptable: There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally. My conclusion might be wrong, but I think I’ve earned the right to share this research without risk to my career.
Instead, my research was under constant attack for years by activists, journalists and politicians.
Or look at the journalists who helped push me out of FiveThirtyEight. My first article there, in 2014, . . . pointed out that the global cost of disasters was increasing at a rate slower than GDP growth, which is very good news. Disasters still occur, but their economic and human effect is smaller than in the past.
That article prompted an intense media campaign to have me fired. Writers at Slate, Salon, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Guardian and others piled on.
In March of 2014, FiveThirtyEight editor Mike Wilson demoted me from staff writer to freelancer. A few months later I chose to leave the site after it became clear it wouldn’t publish me. The mob celebrated. Penn State’s Michael Mann called my departure a “victory for climate truth.” The Center for American Progress promised its donor Mr. Steyer more of the same.
Yet the climate thought police still weren’t done. In 2013 committees in the House and Senate invited me to a several hearings to summarize the science on disasters and climate change.
In early 2014, not long after I appeared before Congress, President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren testified before the same Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was asked about his public statements that appeared to contradict the scientific consensus on extreme weather events that I had earlier presented. Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.
I suppose it is a distinction of a sort to be singled out in this manner by the president’s science adviser. Yet Mr. Holdren’s screed reads more like a dashed-off blog post from the nutty wings of the online climate debate, chock-full of errors and misstatements.
But when the White House puts a target on your back on its website, people notice. Almost a year later Mr. Holdren’s missive was the basis for an investigation of me by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Grijalva explained in a letter to my university’s president that I was being investigated because Mr. Holdren had “highlighted what he believes were serious misstatements by Prof. Pielke of the scientific consensus on climate change.”
The “investigation” turned out to be a farce. My heretical views can be traced to research support from the U.S. government.
But the damage to my reputation had been done, and perhaps that was the point.
But the lesson is that a lone academic is no match for billionaires, well-funded advocacy groups, the media, Congress and the White House. If academics—in any subject—are to play a meaningful role in public debate, the country will have to do a better job supporting good-faith researchers, even when their results are unwelcome. This goes for Republicans and Democrats alike, and to the administration of President-elect Trump.
Academics and the media in particular should support viewpoint diversity instead of serving as the handmaidens of political expediency by trying to exclude voices or damage reputations and careers. If academics and the media won’t support open debate, who will?
Matt Ridley – My Life as a Lukewarmer.
In response to RP Jr’s op-ed, Matt Ridley tweeted the link to a comparable essay he wrote in 2015 – My Life as a Lukewarmer. Excerpts:
I am a climate lukewarmer. That means I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future.
This view . . . is even more infuriating to most publicly funded scientists and politicians, who insist climate change is a big risk.
I was even kept off the shortlist for a part-time, unpaid public-sector appointment in a field unrelated to climate because of having this view, or so the headhunter thought. In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.
I was not always a lukewarmer. When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat.
Gradually, however, I changed my mind. What sealed my apostasy from climate alarm was the extraordinary history of the famous “hockey stick” graph, which purported to show that today’s temperatures were higher and changing faster than at any time in the past thousand years. I began to read the work of two Canadian researchers, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.
What shocked me more was the scientific establishment’s reaction to this: it tried to pretend that nothing was wrong. And then a flood of emails was leaked in 2009 showing some climate scientists apparently scheming to withhold data, prevent papers being published, get journal editors sacked and evade freedom-of-information requests, much as sceptics had been alleging. That was when I began to re-examine everything I had been told about climate change and, the more I looked, the flakier the prediction of rapid warming seemed.
The policies being proposed to combat climate change, far from being a modest insurance policy, are proving ineffective, expensive, harmful to poor people and actually bad for the environment: we are tearing down rainforests to grow biofuels and ripping up peat bogs to install windmills that still need fossil-fuel back-up. Some insurance policy.
To begin with, after I came out as a lukewarmer, I would get genuine critiques from scientists who disagreed with me and wanted to exchange views. They often resorted to meta-arguments, especially the argument from authority: if the Royal Society says it is alarmed, then you should be alarmed. If I want argument from authority, I replied, I will join the Catholic Church.
One by one, many of the most prominent people in the climate debate began to throw vitriolic playground abuse at me. I was “paranoid”, “specious”, “risible”, “self-defaming”, “daft”, “lying”, “irrational”, an “idiot”. Their letters to the editor or their blog responses asserted that I was “error-riddled” or had seriously misrepresented something, but then they not only failed to substantiate the charge but often roughly confirmed what I had written.
Talking of the committee on climate change, last year Lord Deben commissioned an entire report to criticise something I had said. Among other howlers, it included a quotation from the IPCC but the quote had a large chunk cut from the middle. When this cut was restored the line supported me, not Lord Deben. When I pointed this out politely to Lord Deben, he refused to restore the excision and left the document unchanged on the committee’s website.
I suppose all this fury means my arguments are hitting home.
I have never met a climate sceptic, let alone a lukewarmer, who wants his opponents silenced. I wish I could say the same of those who think climate change is an alarming prospect.
The truly astonishing thing about all this is how little climate heretics – such as myself, Roger Pielke, and Matt Ridley – actually diverge from the consensus science position: RP Jr. hews strictly to the IPCC consensus; Matt Ridley is on the lukewarm side of the IPCC consensus, and I have stated that the uncertainties are too large to justify high confidence in the consensus statements.
RP Jr and Matt Ridley provide appalling examples of the personal and arguably unethical attacks from other scientists, journalists, elected politicians and others with government appointments.
Scott Adams provides some genuine (and as always, humorous) insights into the psychology behind the dynamics of the climate debate.
As to the question: to be or not to be a climate heretic?
I’m planning a climate heretic blog post shortly after the first of the year. After seeing RP Jr’s title, perhaps I will title it ‘Happy Heretic’ (stay tuned). Here’s to hoping that the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives on climate science and our policy options .
Jury nullification is the last line of defense, and can turn around even the worst situation.
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My son on piano again.
Hello everyone, this is the next post in my series of Christmas song performances leading up to Christmas. I will be performing this song on the 15th for my church, so please let me know how I did in this video. Who knows, maybe I'll upload a video of the performance. Anyway, this is one of the most famous Christmas songs. I don't know why, but in the last few years it has grown in popularity. Maybe it was the Josh Groban cover. Here is Cantique de Noel (Oh Holy Night) composed by: Adolphe Adam, performed by me.
[Image Source: pixabay.com, License: CCO Public Domain]
Please leave feedback, and check back tomorrow for the Art of War review.
Also remember to check for: My weekly 7 post, and my weekly piano performance of Christmas pieces.
There’s been much talk recently about the foreign emoluments clause, and probably someone has made the following point, but I’ve not seen it. The clause provides:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
I assume for purposes of this post that the clause applies to the President (although, as noted here, Seth Barrett Tillman makes a strong textualist/originalist argument to the contrary). Applied to President-elect Trump, I assume Trump will not accept any “Office, or Title”; “present[s]” can be dealt with individually and in any event wouldn’t encompass his business dealings as a whole. So the key word is “Emolument.”
The modern definition of emolument does not seem to cover anything we should reasonably worry about Trump receiving. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, for example, defines emolument as “the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.” Dictionary.com has it as “profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services.” The Oxford English Dictionary similarly defines emolument as “A salary, fee, or profit from employment or office.” (And these definitions are consistent with the way “emolument[s]” is used elsewhere in the Constitution, where it could mean simply salary or other payment for employment.) If that’s the right constitutional definition, I don’t see what the fuss is about. Trump’s business dealings, whatever they may be, don’t amount to compensation for employment.
It’s often said, however, that words can change their meanings over time, and this may be an example. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) defines “emolument” much more broadly as “Profit; advantage.” (And indeed, the modern Merriam-Webster entry linked above gives an “archaic” definition of emolument as “advantage.”)
Regardless of what other eighteenth-century dictionaries say (I haven’t done an extensive search), the broad definition in Johnson’s work seems enough to raise an inference of a broad use in the foreign emoluments clause — especially since, as a policy matter, it might seem odd to limit the prohibition to gifts and salaries, and the subsequent phrase “of any kind whatever” indicates that in choosing between a narrow and broad meaning, one should choose the broad one. On this reading, Trump’s business dealings might well include “advantages” obtained from foreign states.
So perhaps Trump will need to rely on Professor Tillman’s argument after all. But I also like the fact that Trump’s opponents will need to rely on an eighteenth century dictionary.
NOTE: This post was originally published at The Originalism Blog, “The Blog of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism at the University of San Diego School of Law,” and is reposted here with permission from the author.
Click through to the Harsanyi article.
"You opposed Donald Trump, so why aren't you freaking out?"
David Harsanyi answers:
Well, for starters, allowing liberals to determine my level of anxiety—which would be full-blown, round-the-clock histrionics—over what's nothing more than another election would be foolish. Until it's not. The era of Trump hasn't even started yet, and the entire establishment keeps using the term "era of Trump" as if things have actually changed.
They haven't. If you're genuinely interesting in being an effective critic of the next president, acting like Adolf Hitler is pounding at your doorstep every time Trump tweets something might not be the most effective plan in the long run.
Not to mention, the left has been such an astonishing hypocrite on so many issues related to Trump that it's a bit difficult to move forward without pointing it out. Joining activists who've spent years attacking the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments—and now the Electoral College—in a newfound veneration of the Emoluments Clause is a bit much. Of course, Trump should be held accountable for his potential conflicts of interest, and one hopes conservatives who value good government will stand up when tangible evidence emerges that they exist. But the critics on the left aren't serious about the Constitution. They're serious about the Democratic Party.