Fire in the minds of men 5

Where did this madness come from, this idea that the earth is burning up, and that we human beings, as a species, are to blame for it?

Who initiated it? Why do millions believe it? How have otherwise sane men and women become obsessed with it?

James Delingpole writes at Breitbart (12 July, 2019):

The Prince of Wales has warned global leaders that if we don’t tackle climate change in 18 months the human race will go extinct.

Eighteen months to the end of us! And this from the probable next monarch of the United Kingdom and its vast Commonwealth!

No, really. Here are his actual words, in a speech in London yesterday to foreign ministers from the Commonwealth:

I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival.

For our survival! He raves. Look at the madness in his eyes:

Delingpole soberly considers the crazy prophecy as if it could be grounded in reality – which well he might, since it is widely believed all over the world:

So assuming, for a moment, that the Prince of Wales isn’t just spouting gibberish, what kind of measures might we need to adopt in the next 18 months to “keep climate change to survivable levels”?

Happily, we have a good idea courtesy of Lord Deben, chairman of the government’s Climate Change Committee. Writing in the Prince of Wales’s favourite magazine Country Life, he says:

It simply demands that we live more sustainably – that we stop wasting water, become really energy efficient, cut food waste, eat 20 percent less meat, take all our energy from renewable sources and ensure our homes are properly insulated and ventilated.

That word “simply” is doing a lot of work there.

If you’re a carnivore like me, for example, you might not take too kindly to the notion that some dodgy peer who has made at least part of his fortune by promulgating green hysteria has the right to issue directives on how many bacon sarnies or burgers you can reasonably consume per week.

But I have an even bigger red flag waving over that glib suggestion that we should “take all our energy from renewable sources”.

All of it? Really??

The late Professor David Mackay, a Cambridge engineer and chief scientist at the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change once looked at what decarbonizing the economy by going 100 per cent renewable might look like for the British landscape. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

It would involve:

Building 61,000 wind turbines.

Covering 5 per cent of the UK landmass — the equivalent of Cambridgeshire,    Gloucestershire, Lancashire, and Staffordshire combined — with solar arrays. (That would be 100 x  more solar PV than his been installed in the whole world to date.)

Damming most of the rivers in the West Highlands of Scotland to generate hydropower.

Building huge barrages across rivers such as the Severn, destroying intertidal mud flats and devastating bird and fish species.

Using the entirety of Britain’s agricultural land to grow biofuels.

David Mackay was by no means a climate change sceptic. But he was honest enough a scientist to be able to tell his government employers what they didn’t want to hear: that the idea that the UK could power itself by 100 per cent renewable energy was an “appalling delusion”.

Though it’s claimed that 14 per cent of the world’s energy is renewable, this is misleading. The majority of this — three quarters — comes from burning what is euphemistically called ‘biomass” — most of it what you and I call wood.

In other words the environmental movement is claiming as a triumph something that actually is a disaster: millions of people in the Third World are still reliant on the same inefficient, environmentally destructive, health-damaging energy technology that was used by cavemen.

As for wind turbines — ugly and seemingly ubiquitous a nuisance though they are — these currently provide less than one per cent of global energy.

Global energy demand, meanwhile, has been growing at about two per cent per year for the last 40 years. So, just to provide sufficient wind power to cover that increase in demand, how many wind turbines would need to be built?

Matt Ridley answers that question here:

If wind turbines were to supply all of that growth but no more, how many would need to be built each year? The answer is nearly 350,000, since a two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s one-and-a-half times as many as have been built in the world since governments started pouring consumer funds into this so-called industry in the early 2000s.

At a density of, very roughly, 50 acres per megawatt, typical for wind farms, that many turbines would require a land area [half the size of] the British Isles, including Ireland. Every year. If we kept this up for 50 years, we would have covered every square mile of a land area [half] the size of Russia with wind farms. Remember, this would be just to fulfil the new demand for energy, not to displace the vast existing supply of energy from fossil fuels, which currently supply 80 per cent of global energy needs.

Apart from the obvious visual blight, the environmental cost of building so many wind turbines would be enormous.

[N]othing damages the environment quite like a wind farm….

By coincidence, yesterday I found myself driving past the Prince of Wales’s country house near Tetbury in the Cotswolds, a strong competitor for the most beautiful area of England.

I drove through valley after valley of idyllic, unspoiled countryside, interrupted only by the occasional chocolate box village of honey-coloured stone with ducks and moorhens being photographed by Chinese tourists who clearly couldn’t believe somewhere quite so perfect-looking could actually exist.

This is the kind of place where you choose to live if, like the Prince of Wales, you are very, very rich. His net worth has been estimated at around $400 million — not unusual for a climate change alarmist.

Here are the Lords of Ruin – he names them, or some of them. They are in the grip of a shared delusion, but where did they get it from?

From multimillionaire Leo Di Caprio to multimillionaire Al Gore, multimillionaire Sir David Attenborough to multimillionaire Tom Steyer, from multimillionaire Sir Richard Branson to multimillionaire Emma Thompson, environmentalism is a hugely attractive religion which enables you to achieve two perfectly wonderful things simultaneously.

First, it enables you to parade your moral virtue by showing that even though you are disgustingly rich you are still in fact an incredibly caring person.

Second, it means you can lecture the revolting lower orders on how they should live their lives and you can campaign to make everything more expensive and miserable for them, as Sir David Attenborough did earlier this week when he urged that air tickets should be hiked up. Obviously, people like Attenborough will go on flying regardless because they’ll still be able to afford it whatever environmental levies are imposed. But stopping other people from doing it will mean that airports and holiday destinations will be less crowded, just as Mother Gaia intended.

Anyway, as I drove through Prince of Wales country, marvelling at the deliciousness of the views, I wondered how many of the people living on the gorgeous private estates in which the Cotswolds abounds share Prince Charles’s views on the environment. Quite a few I suspect. I know of one super-rich hedge fund manager who has donated to Extinction Rebellion, for example, which strikes me as a classic example of the cognitive dissonance to which the super-rich seem prey. On the one hand they are clever enough and, presumably, capable of sufficient due diligence to have been able to have made vast fortunes; on the other, all their powers of discernment, intelligence and research appear to have left them when it comes to the issue of climate change.

How are we going to get it into their thick, overprivileged heads that the Net Zero carbon dioxide by 2050 targets for which they are so passionately advocating will destroy everything they hold dear?

They’ll only learn, I think, when they finally get what it is they’ve been asking for:

Piles of shredded raptors landing with a thud on the estates around Balmoral, sliced and diced by wind turbines.

Solar farms and wind farms obliterating every last stretch of the Cotswolds.

Wading birds driven forever out of the Severn Estuary by a tidal barrier.

Their cleaning ladies, gardeners, and grooms turning up to work in tears because their parents have just frozen to death in fuel poverty.

They won’t like it. But by then it will be far too late.

These Lords of the Earth are plainly deluded. They have been gulled. But who has gulled them, and why?

Is there a clue to be found here in the US?

The Washington Examiner reports:

In Europe, you will often hear politically savvy people refer to Green Party politicians as “watermelons.” The reason is that although they might be environmentalist “green” on the outside, these leftists are secretly communist red if you look beneath the surface.

They typically resort to such subterfuge because environmentalism is more popular than Marxism. A former East German communist is bound to be unpopular, but perhaps not so much if he rehabilitates himself as a renewable energy enthusiast.

The case of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, is different in that she openly advertised herself as a socialist in a country with a well-grounded historical aversion to such alien ideologies. But her grand policy initiative, the $93 trillion Green New Deal, was still billed as if it were a legitimate environmentalist idea. We were supposedly trying to save the world from imminent destruction. As Ocasio-Cortez herself put it, “We’re, like, the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

Twelve years. Should we be grateful? That’s ten and a half more years than the Prince of Wales allows us.

She would have us think, then, that this is a conversation about science. We need the Green New Deal, or else humanity is doomed. But now we know a lot more about this proposal, and it appears that that isn’t what the Green New Deal is about at all.

Her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti (the brains and the money behind her political operation ever since her 2018 primary victory) divulged in an unintentionally blunt comment in the Washington Post that the Green New Deal was not only not based in the science of climate change, but in fact not even designed with climate change in mind. “It wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” he is quoted as saying.

In other words, it’s not that they looked for a way to save the world, and just happened to find a way that involved full employment pledges, the retrofitting of millions of buildings, income for those unwilling to work, high-speed passenger rail, and the curtailment of plane travel and carnivorousness. That’s precisely backwards. The Green New Deal came about because Chakrabarti wanted to transform the U.S. economy into something more primitive, and environmentalism struck him as the best excuse for doing so.

Think of the Green New Deal as an updated (and we hope less lethal) version of the “Year Zero” concept. Americans will be reassigned under a new socialist order to environmentally friendly tasks. The saving of the planet is not the goal of the Green New Deal but rather the excuse for it: the common purpose around which we all unite to pursue the deindustrialized, Utopian America of tomorrow.

And we need that Utopian socialist society because … wait, why exactly? Because of the despotic cruelty of our tsar and the grinding poverty of his recently enslaved subjects? Because none of the peasants own any land in our impoverished feudal society?

That doesn’t seem right, does it?

Perhaps the problem is that workers’ wages are at all-time highs and unemployment is at all-time lows. Or perhaps it’s that our nation is so poor and bereft of opportunity that everyone who can walk or even crawl is literally risking life and limb and crossing deserts to get here.

The sarcasm is justified. What is that envisioned Utopia really like? What is the Cause for which nothing less than all must be sacrificed?

The Lords of Ruin – those multibillionaires, the likes of Prince Charles, Al Gore, Tom Steyer – are ingenuous, you could even say innocent, gulls who would lay civilization waste with the best of intentions.

But the Chakrabartis of the movement are not innocent. They are cynically exploiting many people’s naivety, or urge to be good, or personal despair.

The naive, the would-be-good, the desperate are such as are exploited by an evil manipulator in Dostoyevsky’s great novel The Possessed (also titled The Devils or The Demons). Their Saikat Chakrabarti, one Pyotr Stepanovich Verhovensky, would set the world on fire out of sheer spite, and actually persuades a pathetic bunch of five foolish idealists to burn down half a town and commit murder for the Cause. He makes them believe there is a plan, that they are one cell of hundreds all working for the Cause; that there are, at some vague “center”, anonymous Controllers who know exactly what must be done to fulfill the Vision, and all that the five have to do – all that the believers, the dreamers, the visionaries, the desperate have to do – is obey. The distraught Governor of the district, watching the town burn, diagnoses the madness driving the terrible events. “The fire is in the minds of men and not in the roofs of houses,” he says.

The story explains what Russia had become in the late 19th century that made the Communist Revolution of 1917 possible.

Of course there is not just one Saikat Chakrabarti or Pyotr Stepanovich Verhovensky. There is a whole sub-race of them, not idealists but cynics. Out of their spite emerges the Rumor, the great Lie that ignites the minds of multitudes, including every sort from every class and nation, among them young women in New York, billionaires in California, crocodiles at the United Nations, Kings in Europe.

The survival of the stupidest? 6

Has evolution ended with Homo sapiens?

On this question, Tom Chivers at the Telegraph reports a fascinating disagreement between Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Adam Rutherford.

We have chosen some excerpts. Read it all here.

Like every other species on Earth, Homo sapiens is the product of more than three billion years of evolution: random, blind changes put through the filter of natural selection, leading from one simple original form to all the startling variety of life we see around us. Humanity’s lineage split with that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, six million years ago, and our ancestors have been evolving separately ever since. In that time we have gone from short, robust, hairy apes – perhaps partly tree-dwelling and knuckle-walking, like chimps – to tall, gracile, naked humans. It has been quite a journey.

But is that journey over? It might be, according to Sir David Attenborough, who said … “I think that we’ve stopped evolving. Because if natural selection, as proposed by Darwin, is the main mechanism of evolution – there may be other things, but it does look as though that’s the case – then we’ve stopped natural selection.”

To support his case, he points out that, unlike any other species, we can use technology to keep ourselves alive until breeding age, when otherwise we would have died. Specifically, he points towards the vast improvement in infant mortality rates: “We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear 95-99 per cent of our babies that are born. We are the only species to have put a halt to natural selection, of its own free will, as it were.” …

And what will happen next fascinates us even more. …

Attenborough … is suggesting something at once prosaic and startling: that human evolution ends here,that we are the final stop on the journey. You can understand his reasoning. After all, if we (at least in the affluent, technologically advanced West) can take even the most vulnerable babies, babies who would have died within hours of birth a hundred years ago, and keep them alive – essentially repair them so that they can live into adulthood and breed – have we not ended the cruel process of natural selection?

It’s not that simple, says Dr Adam Rutherford, a geneticist, author of Creation …  “He is absolutely right that the selection pressures on humans have radically changed, … And he’s right that one of the most profound changes to those pressures is infant mortality rates. But that’s not really, in a pure scientific sense, how evolution works.”

The fact that certain evolutionary pressures have been reduced – for example, the requirement for a baby’s lungs to be fully developed and functional by birth, now that we can keep that baby alive on a respirator until its lungs are grown – does not mean that all of them have gone. “The robust answer to the question ‘are humans evolving?’ is: we don’t know, because the timespans are too short to make a judgment,” says Dr Rutherford.

While we can watch evolution happen in viruses and bacteria – or fruit flies, or mice – human generations are just too slow; even the longest-lived of us can only reasonably hope to see great-grandchildren. Our split with the chimps takes us back to our great‑times-250,000-grandparents.

We can look at our own recent history, though, and at our genes. Several studies have suggested that human evolution has actually speeded up, not slowed down, since the advent of agriculture in the last 10,000 years – an eyeblink in evolutionary terms. In the past few thousand years some humans have evolved the ability to digest milk, unlike any other adult mammals. …

“If you look at changes in the frequency of genes in a population, which is the true measure of evolution, then I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that we’re not evolving,” says Dr Rutherford. The question, of course, is how we’re evolving.

There have been various suggestions, of varying stupidity, up to and including the suggestion that we’ll evolve fatter thumbs to help us text. (“That’s called Lamarckism, and it’s just wrong. The Jewish people have been cutting foreskins off their boys for 5,000 years and one hasn’t been born without a foreskin yet,” snorts Dr Rutherford.) More obviously plausible hypotheses include the idea that our tendency to have children later in life will select against people who are unable to do so.

What won’t necessarily happen is that we’ll become cleverer, or in any arbitrary way “better”, than we are now. Evolution doesn’t work that way.

The 2006 film Idiocracy suggested that clever people are having fewer and fewer children, while stupid people are having more, so the future of humanity is one of everyone being thick. That was a joke, but it illustrates quite neatly that evolution is not a stairway to a glorious pinnacle called “humanity”; intelligence is not the culmination of evolution, it’s just one tool that works for one species at the moment, just as sonar works for bats.

If powerful brains become less useful in future, then we can expect them to dwindle away, like the eyes of cave fish – they’re expensive, energy-draining things, and natural selection is a brutal accountant.

And if we contemplate the intellectual quality of those who have risen in recent years to the commanding heights of political power and academic authority in the West as a whole, we might suppose that the decline of brain-power in the human species has already begun.

Posted under Commentary, Science by Jillian Becker on Saturday, September 28, 2013

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