We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – weaponising Net Zero against the West edition

“Net zero has turned into a Chinese weapon aimed right at the heart of Western competitiveness. If we don’t wake up and recognise soon that we have to figure out a better way of combating climate change our industries are about to get wiped out.”

Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph (£).

Samizdata quote of the day – unfortunately the high-status fraudster won

A Washington, D.C. jury has found that conservative writers Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg defamed climate scientist Michael Mann.

The jury deliberated for close to a full day before reaching its decision.

At issue were two blog posts, one by Steyn and one by Simberg, comparing the investigation into alleged academic misconduct by Mann, then a Penn State professor, to Penn State’s handling of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former head of athletics who raped and molested children.

“If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up?” Steyn wrote in his post, which quoted Simberg’s.

Andrew Lawton

The Hockey Stick on trial

I think it’s about time we mentioned that the Steyn v Mann defamation trial is currently taking place in Washington D.C.. For those who have forgotten – or never knew in the first place – this concerns articles that Mark Steyn and his co-defendent blogger Rand Simburg wrote twelve years ago accusing university employee Michael Mann of fraud in scientific research.

This is the first time the Hockey Stick graph – which suggested a dramatic and unprecedented rise in global temperatures – has been subject to judicial examination.

If you want to follow daily proceedings you might like to check out the Climate Science on Trial podcast hosted by Phelim McAleer and Ann McIlhenny.

A climactic climax every time

It looks like we all missed a major story:

After tense and protracted negotiations, delegates at the United Nations climate conference COP28 have agreed on a deal that calls on countries to transition away from fossil fuels. It is the first time that nations have agreed to such a transition, and marks a major step forward in climate ambitions.

Wired magazine, referring to the 28th UN climate conference, held in Dubai in December 2023. These conferences are officially known as the “Conference of the Parties”, hence the abbreviation “COP”. COP28 was also the subject of this BBC story:

Once the gavel came down in Dubai, the warm words flowed – but will it really have an impact on climate change?

The agreement reached in this glitzy metropolis for the first time nails the role of fossil fuel emissions in driving up temperatures and outlines a future decline for coal, oil and gas.

In UN terms that is historic, and the biggest step forward on climate since the Paris agreement in 2015.

This comment came from someone calling themselves “D1703020689244”:

It’s the same recipe every time.

Argument, confected fury, conference schedule delayed for last minute negotiations, text issued at midnight, gavel comes down, handshakes and cheers.

Who are they fooling other than themselves.

They have a point. The gavel does not always come down literally at midnight, but a pattern can be observed. Who could forget that nailbiter of a finish in Glasgow for COP26 in 2021:

The deal was reached with nearly 200 countries at 7.40pm – more than 24 hours after the two-week summit was scheduled to finish.

It was rivalled in drama only by the the Paris climate change talks of 2015:

In the final meeting of the Paris talks on climate change on Saturday night, the debating chamber was full and the atmosphere tense. Ministers from 196 countries sat behind their country nameplates, aides flocking them, with observers packed into the overflowing hall.

(Spoiler: there was a deal. Not just “a” deal but the world’s greatest diplomatic success. Ever.)

That last-minute deal was rivalled in drama only by – wait, am I allowed two “rivalled onlies”? Probably not. OK, Paris was non-rivalrously rivalled in drama by the “last-minute deal” that saved COP15 in 2009:

The United Nations climate talks that seemed headed for sure disaster were saved from utter collapse late Friday night in Copenhagen, after leaders from the U.S., India, Brazil, South Africa and China came to an agreement to combat global warming.

COP13, Bali, 2007:

Late-night drama pushes US into climate deal

The conference had overrun by a day, despite several night-time sessions. As the wrangling continued, and with no palpable signs of progress, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who had already left Bali for East Timor, was forced to return to rescue the deal from disaster. In a tearful address to delegates, he pleaded: ‘The hour is late. It’s time to make a decision. You have in your hands the ability to deliver to the people of the world a successful outcome to this conference.’

COP11, Montreal 2005:

Weary negotiators finally agreed the revised statement as the talks dragged on into the small hours. They also agreed an action plan among Kyoto members to extend the protocol when its first phase expires in 2012.

COP7, Marrakech, 2001:

They negotiated the terms of a new climate change agreement through the night, and at dawn the exhausted delegates achieved success.

COP3, Kyoto, 1997:

The Kyoto Climate Change Conference has just ended in agreement. Industrialised nations have agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 5.2% under a differentiated target scheme. This has been one of the most complex international negotiations that has taken place and the governments of the world took it down to the wire.

Kyoto was another all-nighter, apparently. I tried to find some equivalent drama about COP2 (Geneva) and COP1 (Berlin), but that was before they were famous.

And now it’s after they were famous. The plots got too samey. Not even the magnificent opening speech to the COP26 delegates in Glasgow given by Boris Johnson (as documented by the late Niall Kilmartin) was enough to revive interest.

P.S. My apologies to any readers misled by the title of this post. If you want to know where you can be sure of experiencing a satisfying climax, try Azerbaijan.

Samizdata quote of the day – why the Tories need to burn to ash

Almost half the Conservative Party’s backbench MPs in the British Parliament belong to a Caucus promoting extreme Net Zero ideas that is funded by a small group of green billionaire foundations. The Conservative Environment Network (CEN), which acts mostly as a lobby group, receives over 80% of its funding from the European Climate Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers, Oak Foundation, WWF-UK and Clean Air Fund. As regular readers will recall, these paymasters crop up regularly whenever anyone of influence, be they journalists, academics or politicians, requires help and guidance in promoting the insanity of removing hydrocarbon energy from industrial societies within less than 30 years.


It is noted by CEN that when Russia invaded Ukraine “we helped promote the narrative that reducing dependency on fossil fuels through renewable energy and insulation would help defeat Putin”. Quite how fossil fuel dependency is reduced by intermittent renewables that rely on back-up hydrocarbons is not immediately clear. It’s unlikely that Putin quaked in his boots at the thought of the widespread mobilisation of loft insulators in the U.K.

Chris Morrison

I made it clear to my very marginal Tory MP (150 vote majority last election) that her membership in CEN guarantees I will be voting Reform.

Scottish people pay taxes so that an Iranian-linked mosque can get £372k for promoting climate awareness among ethnic minorities

The Times reports,

A mosque which has been linked to the Iranian state received £372,000 from the Scottish government.

Exiled dissidents claim the Al-Mahdi Islamic Centre of Glasgow has become an unauthorised base for the Tehran regime in Scotland.

It is a sister outpost of the Islamic Centre of England based in London, which hosted a vigil for Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military commander, after he was killed in an American drone strike.

Last month The Times disclosed that the Scottish government paid more than £193,000 to the Al-Mahdi Foundation, a charity based in the same premises in Southside.

However, it has now been confirmed that the total amount of grants given to the charity was almost double that sum. The foundation has displayed the flag of the Islamic Republic and an image of Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued a death sentence on the British author Sir Salman Rushdie.

It emerged after Russell Findlay, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, raised the issue with ministers at Holyrood.

In a written response Mairi McAllan, the transport, net zero and just transition secretary, said: “The Al-Mahdi Foundation received £372,000 of Climate Change Fund grant funding for two projects between 2014 and 2020 to support awareness raising of climate change issues among disadvantaged and ethnic minority communities and to make their community building more energy efficient.”

(Archived here.)

This was one of Humza Yousaf’s initiatives [Edit: my apologies to Mr Yousaf, it was actually one of Nicola Sturgeon’s initiatives], but let’s not kid ourselves that it is only in Scotland that this sort of thing happens. All Western governments pay vast sums to enemies of the West in brown envelopes marked “Climate change”.

Ten years ago, Brian Mickelthwait predicted the response to Covid-19

Ten years and ten days ago, the sadly missed Brian Micklethwait wrote this: “What if there is a real collective disaster?”

Brian quoted this article by Paul Murphy which said that the response of governments and the scientific establishment to what they saw as the global warming crisis had “destroyed the credibility of all involved” and “greatly weakened the world’s ability to recognize and respond to a real threat should one now materialize.”

Brian added,

An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision? (Think Stalin when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.) And what if it then imposes a wrong decision about what needs to be done? A collectivity that is hastily assembled by freer and more independent persons is just as likely to act in a timely manner, and is far more likely to have a proper argument about what must be done, and hence to arrive at a better decision about that.

Besides which, what is often needed in a crisis is not so much collective action, but rather individual action for the benefit of the collective. That is a very different thing, and clearly a society which cultivates individuality will prepare individuals far better for such heroism than will societies where everyone is in the habit only of doing as they are told.

“An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision?” There could scarcely be a better description of the response of the UK and the Western world as a whole to Covid-19. Masks are useless! Cancel that, masks are compulsory! Herd immunity! Cancel that, vaccines are compulsory! Lockdown! Cancel that, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, er, cancel that, back to lockdown!

Climate fatigue

This article about “climate fatigue” by Francesco Grillo is one of the better arguments I have seen in the Guardian on the topic: “Climate fatigue isn’t a sign that Europeans are in denial – it’s a sign of their fear”. It starts very much in the usual fashion:

The first step is to recognise that climate fatigue in Europe has little to do with Europeans being less concerned about the impact of volatile climate systems. Indeed, people feel the effects directly and terrifyingly as the continent is increasingly battered by heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods.

I am suspicious of that claim that the decline in European popular support for climate measures “has little to do with” many Europeans ceasing to believe in the seriousness of the claimed coming catastrophe. It has lots to do with it, obviously. If the people of Europe still held the same level of belief in the imminence and severity of CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) as they did five years back, their support for drastic measures to head off this disaster would also be at the same level as it was then. They don’t and it isn’t. Their increased scepticism is justified. A great many predictions of doom have failed to come to pass. Click on the word “CAGW” to see relevant past posts by me and others on this blog going back more than two decades. I will restate my own opinion: that anthropogenic global warming probably is occurring but at nothing like the apocalyptic level claimed. Angela Merkel would have been better off saying, “Wir schaffen das” about climate change.

However honesty compels me to say that some of the decline in belief is motivated by people finally having twigged that the bill for Net Zero will not ultimately be paid by the infinitely absorbent corporations and governments of legend, but by them. When people drop a luxury belief because it ceases to be a luxury they can afford, they do advance towards reason, but not by means of reason. Sometimes that’s the best we can hope for. It’s not like the prophets of doom are immune from motivated reasoning themselves. The point is that Europeans have realised, correctly, that if we actually do all that the Greens want us to do, it will impoverish us. If we do a quarter of what the Greens want us to do, it will impoverish us. That would be bad, even from – or especially from – the point of view of people worried about climate change. Impoverished societies cease to care about the environment.

This is why I said that Mr Grillo’s article is one of the better ones I have read in the Guardian. They are not usually so honest about the cost:

But people are also terrified of what they believe will be the cost to individuals of the required energy transition. According to the consulting firm McKinsey, the global transition to net zero will require additional investments in fixed assets of $3.5tn a year until 2050. That’s about a quarter of all the tax raised worldwide. There is still no convincing mechanism for financing this in ways that reassure families, individuals, small firms and farmers that they are not going to be bankrupted. Increasingly, ordinary citizens know that many of them will have to foot crippling bills for such things as renovating homes to make them comply with energy efficiency rules.


… in a country such as Italy, more than half of existing homes need to be adapted to the new standards. Italian families would have to pay out about €500bn over the next decade, an average of €40,000 per affected household, according to a study done for the Vision thinktank I am affiliated to. No wonder many families, impoverished by years of economic stagnation and more recent inflation, view the green deal not as a transition to a more just model of distributed energy production, but as a waking nightmare.

Samizdata quote of the day – if heat pumps and EVs were better they’d sell themselves

Thanks to the cult ideology of Net Zero some governments, including our own, have started trying to destroy the entire basis of human brilliance and ingenuity in a way that has no parallel other than in totalitarian states.

If electric cars represented an overall improvement on internal combustion engine (ICE) cars by being collectively better to drive, cheaper to buy and run, at least as easy to ‘refuel’, had longer (or even equivalent) ranges, used less energy, lasted longer, had better resale value, were less environmentally damaging through being easier to make, using less metals and were easier to recycle, they’d sell themselves. Those are all minimum standards the Government could have set, but hasn’t.

Guy de la Bédoyère

Daily Telegraph columnist has tantrum about North Sea oilfield

Say what you like about the Daily Telegraph, which generally tilts centre-right in its politics and economics (particularly with incisive writers such as Allister Heath and Matthew Lynn), it does not seem to enforce orthodoxy. While the leader column and Heath have both applauded the UK government’s decision to permit oil drilling in the large Rosebank field in the North Sea – and mocked the fulminations of the critics, there were fulminations in the DT’s business section. An example comes from Ben Marlow, a columnist whose portrait glares out, Medusa-like, at a foolish and fallen world.

Marlow describes the timing of the announcement as “comically bad” and immediately shows his climate alarmism colours by noting that the announcement came a day after the International Energy Agency had warned that any new oil and gas infrastructure was incompatible with the Paris Climate Agreements of limiting global warming to 1.5 C. The new oil field is expected to produce as much as 500 million barrels of oil over its lifetime. Marlow goes on to state that bringing this oil field into production will do “none of the things that ministers and its cheerleaders claim”, and went on to berate the Conservatives for their alleged failure to cover the UK in solar panels and windfarms. And he went on to attack the government for sowing “confusion” among carmakers by putting back the ban on new internal combustion cars by 5 years to 2035. Further, he mocked the idea that producing more oil has any real benefits to the UK, saying that the oil goes into the world market. He does, rightly, criticise UK governments past and present for being weak on nuclear energy, but overall, Marlow’s column is a noisy example of green tantrum-throwing in an otherwise relatively sane newspaper. I wonder what his employers make of him?

So let’s examine Marlow’s central point, that the opening of this oilfield is a blow to the environment and won’t fix anything for the UK. Well, he ignores that some oil/gas fields will and have come out of production as the oil and gas gets too expensive to extract, reducing the commercial case for it, so if this is replaced by newer fields, that doesn’t necessarily increase the total amount of oil and gas in production. And even if it does, he’s assuming a straight-line link between increased C02 emissions, and increases in the average temperature of the planet. From my reading, there is a law of diminishing returns in nature, as in economics. Every extra ton of C02 produces less of a warming impact than the preceding one. Further, there is global “greening” to consider – although there’s a law of diminishing returns on that when it comes to the link with carbon emissions, I suspect, too.

And considering that he’s a business correspondent and editor, Marlow seems curiously uninterested in how, for example, developing this big oil field will generate export earnings for the UK, and a lot of tax revenue for the government. (On the latter point, this isn’t an argument that I know classical liberals would want to make much of.) The UK has to import a lot of stuff, such as natural gas from the Middle East and so on. Exports are what we need for imports. If the UK’s balance of payments improves, it benefits us in the ability to import more of what we want. As for the government, more revenues give it more ability to encourage R&D and the like in areas such as modular nuclear power plants, etc. Even for those who aren’t carbon fuel catastrophists, we can acknowledge that if we want to shift towards nuclear fission and fusion, and potentially as yet undiscovered sources, that requires a ton of wealth.

Marlow’s mockery of the UK’s supposed tardiness over wind and solar is again a reminder that the battery storage issue just doesn’t register. Without storage, the intermittency problem with wind/sun energy is a killer. (The writer Alex Epstein and others have made this point.) Marlow, and others who share his views, really have no excuses to not directly address this point and explain how they’d handle it.

A final point: The huge budget overruns and delays on the HS2 rail project from London to the North are surely another reminder to journalists who talk a big game about “infrastructure” that the UK’s record of delivering things on time, and on budget, is appalling. Rishi Sunak, whatever else he is, is not an idiot. He knows that the 2030 mark for banning sales of new ICE vehicles was and is insane. All he needs to do to win that cigar from this blog is to reverse the policy completely. Then stand back and watch Mr Marlow’s head explode.

The “fatal conceit” of Western environmental policy, ctd

“The key insight driving the environmental movement historically was that complex natural systems must be treated with respect. Crude interventions, however well-intentioned, can make things worse. Removing an apex predator can change a whole ecosystem. A flood-control dam that eliminates natural wetlands can make floods more dangerous. Attuned to the costs of unanticipated consequences, environmentalists urged caution and restraint by policy makers and advocated letting nature take its course.”

“Today’s green activists have largely forgotten these truths. The consequences are visible all around, and the payback has only begun. Ham-fisted, poorly thought-out green policies, too often designed by self-interested renewable-energy lobbyists, will exact economic and political costs even as their effects on emissions continue to disappoint. The most likely result, sadly, is that the political temperature over climate interventions will keep rising even as green climate policies fall short.”

Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal ($). When I read these paragraphs, I was reminded of the F.A. Hayek publication, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism. For what we have here is a conceit that the top-down approach can be brought to bear on containing CO2 emissions and forcing billions to adopt new energy sources, by force if necessary. What this approach misses is how rules can be gamed. For another part of WRM’s article is that Western policy is, intentionally or otherwise, transferring manufacturing power on a gigantic scale to China, and to a regime that doesn’t really give a brass farthing for climate, human welfare or liberty.

What a time to be alive.

The Royal Society of Arts succumbs to the Dark Greens

My wife is a fellow – she finds it useful to work there occasionally and attend events – at the Royal Society of Arts. I know Anton Howes, the RSA’s in-house historian (his writings on the Industrial Revolution are excellent, and he’s known to groups like the Adam Smith Institute).

(Here is Anton’s substack

In issue three, 2023, in what the RSA calls “The Planet Issue” of its quarterly magazine, are articles asserting how serious the climate “emergency” is, and in one article, (the print edition, I cannot find the web version, which makes me wonder why not) it has a piece by Tom Hardy, entitled “Tropes of Deception”.

Hardy is a member of Extinction Rebellion and co-founded of MP Watch, a constituency network “monitoring climate denial in parliament and MPs’ commitment to net zero”.

Hardy’s RSA article refers to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (involving the likes of Benny Peiser and Conservative MP Steve Baker, among others) and other supposedly nefarious “Tufton Street” organisations. As Hardy writes: “Their agenda: to deny the scientific reality of climate change at the behest of those vested interests whose bottom line requires a repudiation of net zero and renewable energy technology.” (So that’s a “no” for nuclear power then, or an endorsement?)

In what I think is the most unpleasant part of the article, Hardy refers to the “Editor’s Code of Practice” of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPOS) and refers to what the GWPF does, and how its reports are used by journalists. Hardy also writes about “cherry picking details from authentic research”. (Coming from a deep Green, this claim of cherry picking is a bit rich, given some Greens have admitted to mistaken alarmism.) Hardy suggests that IPSO would, if he had his way, drop the hammer on journalists quoting alarmist sceptic organisations without, at least, lots of disclaimers.

The whole piece, which includes swipes at the Daily Telegraph’s business journalist Ben Marlow, and the writer Matt Ridley, finishes with the line that IPSO must be “empowered” and be “free of political interference” (translation: the wrong kind of interference, as he defines it) and be a “priority of the next government”. (How very reassuring.) Hardy does not state what this might mean precisely, but one might reasonably infer that he wants to squash the ability of journalists to source anything other than alarmist content around human-caused global warming, or face some sort of consequence to their careers and publications.

What’s striking is Hardy assumes the case around a climate emergency is beyond any scientific doubt, that debate is over, that any attempt to challenge alarmism must be squashed, including by using so-called guardians of press “independence” to punish journalists that are naughty or foolish enough to cite sources such as the GWPF. This is a religious mindset, of the very worst kind. And it is being laid out in the elegant surroundings of the Royal Society of Arts.

I suppose there are several things that might have prompted Hardy to take this line, and for someone at the RSA to be complacent enough to print him. Hardy’s possibly worried that the deep Greens are losing public support. Hardy’s right to be concerned. For starters, as has occurred over the anger at London mayor Khan’s extension of the ULEZ rules on cars, regulations in the name of Net Zero are causing real political anger. The antics of Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, Greta Thunberg and others are also riling a population that has had enough with relentless nagging, taxes and rules. This isn’t just a UK issue. Look at Dutch farmers, for example.

There’s also the transparent bias that is alienating important parts of the electorate: if we get a hot summer, then the UN, for example, talks about “global boiling”, but goes mute when a snowstorm halts windmills in Texas, for example. The public aren’t stupid, and they can see the imbalance.

There’s also the whole COVID-19 aftermath and its impact on those claiming to follow “The science” (the definite article is a red flag). That episode has weakened trust in official organisations’ pronouncements on science, particularly given the dishonesty about masks, and the attempts – which eventually ended – to halt questions about China’s culpability and the role of a lab In Wuhan.

There are several points the GWPF might want to comment on, given the attacks on it in the pages of a body as supposedly prestigious, and “royal”, as the RSA. (I note, as above, that a web version of this article is unavailable.) First, the RSA is clearly all in for climate change alarmism; it is publishing incendiary and bullying material from hardline ideologues that use disruption of ordinary people’s lives to make a case; ER has shut down the publication of a newspaper it does not like; the RSA has, in this specific edition of the RSA magazine, not provided any opportunity for a different point of view to be aired. Where, for example, are the references to the views of Michael Shellenberger, Bjorn Lomborg, Roger Pielke, Alex Epstein, former Obama advisor Steven Koonin, and many more? I guess they’re all evil and just in it for the money.

Samizdata regulars are, I know, unsurprised by all this. The RSA has, like English Heritage, the British Museum (assuming it has anything left in it), the British Library, and countless other supposed bastions of education and learning, been given the Gramsci treatment (the “long march through the institutions”). There may be people who continue to enjoy the place, with its lovely 18th century architecture, agreeable surroundings and networking parties over a glass of bubbly. Alas, champagne appears one of the few compensations from a body that appears intent on foisting shrill agendas. It may still do some good, which is why people such as Anton Howes can work there, but one has to plough through a lot of crap to find it.

There are many reasons why, as a radical classical liberal chap, I focus a lot of my attention on this issue. Because what the likes of ER want is to suppress, even kill, human flourishing. They are prepared to call for coercion; they applaud the disruption of people’s lives, and have shown an utter contempt for a free press. They’re bullies, and are beginning to realise that people are fighting back.