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

My Twitter is full of people angry about the insane cost of living increases while my LinkedIn is full of nerdy middle class engineers in safe, white collar jobs excitedly praising net zero policies and their role in building a “sustainable” future.

Tim Newman

Samizdata quote of the day

“The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants, and Spain and Italy are spending big on African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the nation will more than double its exports.”

Bjorn Lomborg

Autumn is coming

You may think that mid-June is a little early for me to be saying that, but I do see signs that Britain, and perhaps the world, is not as green as it once was:

  • Ben Spencer and Harry Yorke in the Times: “Ministers quietly abandon ‘green crap’ as focus shifts to food security”

    Boris Johnson has scaled back plans to rewild the country as the government retreats from the green agenda to focus on the cost-of-living crisis.

    Ministers last year announced a post-Brexit scheme that would pay farmers up to £800 million a year — a third of the farming budget — to transform agricultural land into nature-rich forests, coastal wetlands, peatlands and wildflower meadows.

    But the fund, called the landscape recovery scheme, has been quietly slashed to just £50 million over three years, less than 1 per cent of the budget.

  • Nick Cohen in the Guardian: “Why bankers close their ears to the ‘climate nut jobs’ talking about the end of the world”

    If the future remembers any corporate villain from 2022, it will be Stuart Kirk. The satirically titled head of “responsible investment” at HSBC looks the part: shaven headed, tightly trimmed beard, hard, sharp eyes. Like all the best villains, the banker’s arguments are insidiously appealing. He says out loud what his audience thinks, cutting through polite society’s pious crap to reveal its selfish desires.

    “There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world,” he told the Financial Times’s Moral Money conference – and I haven’t made that title up either. “Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place.”

  • A poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies asked, “Would Britons support or oppose the Government suspending its environmental taxes to reduce the cost of living?” The result:

    Support 49%
    Oppose 18%
    Neither 23%

    A majority (58%) of 2019 Conservative voters and a plurality (46%) of 2019 Labour voters support the suspension of environmental taxes.

  • The president offers his condolences, but that’s enough about you

    The president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, offered his condolences over the massacre of worshippers at a church in Owo, Nigeria.

    News Letter reports,

    Forty people were killed in the attack at the Church of St Francis in the Owo district in the Ondo region of Nigeria on June 5. Over 126 people also suffered injuries following the attack.

    In a statement last week, President Higgins appeared to link the attack with climate change.

    His comments have drawn criticism from the bishop of the Catholic Ondo diocese, Jude Ayodeki Aroguande, who acknowledged and thanked the president for his condemnation but said the “incorrect and far-fetched” link drawn between the slaughter and climate change was “rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria”.

    In his statement, President Higgins had condemned those responsible for the attack and cautioned against “any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change”.

    The Labour politician also called for solidarity with “all those impacted not only by this horrible event, but in the struggle by the most vulnerable, on whom the consequences of climate change have been inflicted”.

    The former president of the United States, Barack Obama, offered his condolences over the massacre of children at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

    The New York Post reports,

    The former president shared the message on Twitter Wednesday in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 children and two fourth-grade teachers.

    “As we grieve the children of Uvalde today, we should take time to recognize that two years have passed since the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer.” Obama tweeted. “His killing stays with us all to this day, especially those who loved him.”

    Really jump in

    “Top Biden aide prods big tech to crack down on climate change misinformation”, Axios reports.

    Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s top domestic climate adviser, said tech companies should do more to prevent the spread of inaccurate information about climate change and clean energy.

    Driving the news: “The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation,” she told Axios’ Alexi McCammond at a virtual event that aired Thursday.

    “We need the tech companies to really jump in,” McCarthy said.

    Who is “we”?

    And what the [fossil fuel] industry is now doing is seeding, basically, doubt about the costs associated with that and whether they work or not.”

    Expressing doubt about the cost of a proposed government measure, and whether it will actually work as promised? How dare they! Such dangerous speculation cannot be allowed.

    Hat tip: Iain Murray.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    “The facile solutions offered by McKibben and other environmentalists fail to reckon with many things, not least how profoundly the world has changed since Russia’s invasion. Europe’s heavy dependency on Russian oil and gas is just the tip of the iceberg. The world’s renewable energy economy is deeply entangled with geopolitically problematic supply chains. Huge parts of the world’s supplies of silicon, lithium, and rare-earth minerals rely on China, where solar panels are produced by Uyghur slave labor in concentration camps. The idea that the crisis might be resolved by choosing Western dependence on Chinese solar panels and batteries over Western dependence on Russian oil and gas reveals just how unserious the environmental movement’s pretensions to justice, human rights, and democracy really are.”

    Ted Nordhaus.

    HSBC’s internal cancel culture

    A few days ago, HSBC (which is listed in London and Hong Kong) suspended Stuart Kirk, head of responsible investing at the lender, because of how he scorned efforts by regulators to exaggerate the financial and market impact of Man-made global warming. He gave a presentation, “Why investors need not worry about climate risk”, and this seems to have ruffled a few feathers at the bank. (Here is a link to his presentation.)

    As the Wall Street Journal comments:

    “Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” one of his slides noted. He highlighted sky-is-falling quotes from banking potentates such as Mark Carney, the former Bank of England Governor, who recently said the damage from climate change will dwarf the current pain from rising prices. Tell that to the working folks dealing with 8% inflation.

    But then of course scoring virtue points about climate change is so much easier than not printing lots of money and trying to control inflation, I suppose.

    By the way, I love Mr Kirk’s business title, “head of responsible investing”. As opposed to what, “head of irresponsible investing”, or “lazy investing” or “immoral investing”?

    There appears to have been quite a bit of pushback, and I am thinking of ordering some popcorn. Standard Chartered chief Bill Winters is reported to have said that all should be free to “speak their mind” on environmental issues, even if executives disagree with them. (Standard Chartered, which is listed in the UK, makes much of its money in places such as Asia.)

    And here’s another point: both HSBC and Standard Chartered, given the importance of Asia to their earnings, in 2020 backed Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong, designed to crush democratic opposition to moves around ending Hong Kong’s independence in legal terms under the agreement signed with the UK. Both these banks make much of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. Where does their defence of China’s bullying of Hong Kong leave their “social” or “governance” credentials, may I ask?

    ESG is now a corporate religion in the industry that I report on. It is impossible to seriously criticise it, it seems, without endangering one’s career. That said, I think the hypocrisies and cognitive dissonance involved is showing strains. HSBC may regret suspending a man for telling what is essentially the truth. He is right that there is a lot of self-serving nonsense around ESG and that some people are making a fat living out of it. I hope Mr Kirk, if he is forced out, sues the pants off the bank.

    The aforementioned WSJ article notes:

    If climate change poses such an enormous economic threat, Mr. Kirk asked, why did asset prices surge as doomsday warnings increased? Either climate risk is negligible, climate risk is already in the prices, or all investors are wrong, he said. If you believe the latter, then you don’t believe in markets and shouldn’t be regulating them.

    Credit to Mr. Kirk for exposing the hubris of the regulatory climate emperors even as his superiors shrink in fear.

    Screw ‘Earth Day’

    Sorry but someone needed to say it… 😀

    What a difference a year makes: the green dream dies in Sri Lanka

    April 2021:

    “Sri Lanka will become first country to be free of chemical fertilizer”, the Sri Lankan news website News First reported:

    COLOMBO (News 1st); President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has stated that he will take up the challenge in making Sri Lanka the first country in the world to eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers without reversing any of the steps that have been taken.

    The absence of any country in the world that has eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers is not an obstacle to achieving the goal, President Rajapaksa noted.

    The President urged all to unite to educate the farmer and create a healthy generation at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (29) to raise awareness on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and the ban on such imports.

    “The government must guarantee the right of the people to a non-toxic diet to produce a healthy and productive citizen,” said the President.

    April 2022:

    “How Sri Lanka’s shift to organic farming left it in the manure,” reports the Times:

    What turned Sri Lanka’s economic situation from difficult to catastrophic was the decision by the Rajapaksa government to implement a nationwide ban on synthetic fertiliser. It was made not at the behest of neoliberal economists doing the bidding of global capital, but rather on the advice of environmentalists in the name of sustainable agriculture.

    […]

    But that strategy backfired in spectacular fashion. Domestic rice production fell by 14 per cent from 2021 to 2022, forcing the nation, long self-sufficient in rice production, to import hundreds of millions of dollars of rice and more than eroding all of the savings from ceasing fertiliser imports. On top of that, the ban decimated tea production, leading to a $425 million economic loss to the industry in its first six months of implementation. Tea, one of the nation’s primary crops, is a key source of its total export income, making a bad foreign exchange situation far worse.

    Saying it like it is

    What new depravity is this?

    “UK supermarkets accused of ‘bombarding’ shoppers with cheap meat”, whispers the Guardian’s Denis Campbell in shock:

    Britain’s biggest supermarkets stand accused of “bombarding” shoppers with offers of cheap meat, despite pledging to promote more meat-free diets to improve health and tackle global heating.

    They are using money-saving promotions, such as two for the price of one, as a way of “pushing” meat, at odds with moves in the UK and globally for consumers to eat less of it, research found.

    Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are each offering scores of deals every week on meat products such as burgers and sausages to drive sales and boost their profits, according to a report from the

    Marketing directors of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons? Apparently not. This disturbing news comes from the…

    charity Eating Better. It is an umbrella group representing more than 60 organisations including WWF UK, Greenpeace, public health bodies, dietitians, the RSPCA and food charities.

    Putin’s useful idiots – a continuing series

    During my morning trawls of newsfeeds I came across this from some film industry news portal called Deadline:

    A long list of celebrities from the film, television, sports and music industries has sent a letter urging City National Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Canada, to defund the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The letter, sent “In solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders,” is demanding the immediate withdrawal of financial support for a 416-mile gas pipeline slated to cut through what’s termed “sacred and sensitive ecosystems” in Wet’suwet’en land, in British Columbia, Canada without consent from hereditary chiefs.

    More than 65 Hollywood celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, and Robert Downey Jr., released a letter to City National Bank’s (CNB) parent company, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

    More than 65 celebrities – that’s serious firepower, man!

    Here is a chart showing natural gas prices over the past five years, and the huge fall and bounce back in some ways tracks the lockdowns, and also, I suggest, what is going on in Ukraine. The past few weeks have been a wakeup call about where natural gas comes from, and who controls it. Maybe these “celebrities” might want to reflect on that, assuming they have above-room temp IQ capacity to do so.

    Protecting wildlife is important. So is keeping the lights on, the air conditioning working and the heating. Those “celebrities” presumably want these things to continue. If they don’t, and would prefer to live in a tent, they should say so.