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

“Fall is almost here in California. So we know the annual script. A few ostracized voices will again warn in vain of the need to remove millions of dead trees withered from the 2013–14 drought and subsequent infestations, clean up tinderbox hillsides, and beef up the fire services. They will all be ignored as right-wing nuts or worse. Environmentalists will sneer that the new forestry sees fires as medicinal and natural, and global warming as inevitable because of “climate deniers.” Late-summer fires will then consume our foothills, mountains, and forests. Long-dead trees from the drought will explode and send their pitch bombs to shower the forest with flames. Lives, livelihoods, homes, and cabins will be lost — the lamentable collateral damage of our green future. Billions of dollars will go up in smoke. The billowing haze and ash will cloud and pollute the state for weeks if not months. Tens of thousands will be evacuated and their lives disrupted — and those are the lucky.”

Victor Davis Hanson.

There seems to be a stage missing

Lest anyone look at the previous post and think that it is only the Yank media that thrills to the sound of breaking glass, here is our very own Evening Standard giving over its pages to Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion: “Roof spikes and the noble art of window smashing— protesting for Extinction Rebellion”.

She writes,

Just having left an impromptu roadblock on Millbank, I found myself yesterday suddenly among a swarm of cyclists pedalling friendly mischief around the city. There’s something about the spirit of this rebellion. When people join together in courage and love for life on earth, willing to take the punishment that will come, the system doesn’t know how to handle it. The Government itself declared a climate and ecological emergency last year, but little more than lip service has followed. On Tuesday, together with environmental organisations, academics, lawyers, and now more than 30 MPs from seven parties, we handed to Parliament on a plate a Bill fit to address the crisis. All they need to do is pass it — and all we need to do is tell them we want it.

Away with all that pettifoggery about persuading the public. That XR want it done should be enough to make it law.

Edit: Further demonstrating that persuasion is not their thing, Extinction Rebellion protesters block newspaper printing presses.

Darren Grimes said it well:

Extinction Rebellion hasn’t been ‘infiltrated’.

Black Lives matter hasn’t been ‘infiltrated’.

These movements were never about the environment or racial justice.

These movements were always about control.

They cannot win at the ballot box, so they have to use other means.

Samizdata quote of the day

As George Monbiot is pointing out, but cannot bring himself to say, the government is not your environmental friend.

Tim Worstall

To a background of Coldplay, Lomborg fisks Stiglitz

“Greta Thunberg’s message of doom is religion not reality”, writes Iain Martin in the Times:

Earlier this month, Thunberg set out in an open letter a list of demands that, if implemented, would make the economic effects of Covid-19 seem mild. Her co-signatories included assorted celebrities, activists and, inevitably, Coldplay. Climate catastrophists are clearly keen to get the alarmist show back on the road, perhaps because they have been eclipsed by the pandemic.

Martin then goes on to say that,

With intelligent use of technology and mitigation measures, mankind is more than capable of adapting to warmer conditions.

This is one of the points made in Bjorn Lomborg’s important new book False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. Mr Lomborg is a long-standing environmentalist regarded as a heretic by hardliners in the movement because he is an optimist who says that humanity is not doomed. Global warming is happening, he says, but populations have been “scared witless” into thinking that it means the end of life on Earth. “The rhetoric on climate change has become ever more extreme and less moored to the actual science,” he says. “The science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded. Global warming is real, but it is not the end of the world. It is a manageable problem.”

[…]

For the sin of deviation from the apocalyptic consensus, The New York Times — woke bible and host of the Greta event at Davos in January — unleashed the eminent economist Joseph Stiglitz to lambast Mr Lomborg, who has since responded with an amusing line-by-line demolition of Mr Stiglitz’s claims.

And here it is:

The New York Times’​ stunningly false and deceptive hit piece to preserve climate alarmism.

I do love a good old fashioned fisking.

Samizdata quote of the day

Tin whiskers. If you use a pure tin solder then the electronics will grow little whiskers which will, over the course of perhaps 3 or 4 years, short circuit the system. Hmm, OK, has a good chance of doing so. The cure for tin whiskers is to add lead to the tin solder. This is now illegal because using lead is verboeten on environmental grounds. Thus we have a shorter life span for electronics. And yes, it is worth noting that the electronics which really does have to be reliable is not subject to the no lead rule.

Tim Worstall

Now, that’s what I call optimism!

“Council borrowed £1bn from taxpayers to bet on British sunshine”, report Gareth Davies and Charles Boutaud of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Among Thurrock’s rundown council estates and neglected public parks, typical of many towns after a decade of austerity, there is nothing to suggest that over the past three years the local council has borrowed and then invested hundreds of millions of pounds of other councils’ money.

Under the direction of a senior council officer Thurrock borrowed from about 150 local authorities across the UK with little public scrutiny. These loans were not for direct funding of council services, or investing in infrastructure – instead they financed solar farms more than a hundred miles away.

Now, let us not reflexively roll our eyes upon hearing the words “solar farms”. While there has been some reason for the widespread perception that investment in sunbeams has about the same record of success as investment in moonbeams, the technology of solar power genuinely has improved in recent years.

Sean Clark, Thurrock’s director of finance, oversaw the investment of £604m in the solar industry, investments he says were prompted entirely by intermediaries approaching him with money-making opportunities. In an extraordinary interview with The Bureau, Clark wondered whether he had gone too far. At last count Thurrock owed other councils an unprecedented £1bn.

OK, now you can roll your eyes.

John Kent, the former Labour leader of Thurrock council, called on the current administration to come clean. He said: “People absolutely need to be aware that the council has borrowed £1bn – that’s billion with a b.” He claimed that the council had declined to give elected members or the public adequate details of precisely how it invested the money.

As you might have deduced from that, Thurrock Council is currently controlled by the Conservatives.

Come to sunny Thurrock, where the Tories splurge on borrowed money and it is left to Labour to be the voice of prudence! Or come to sunny Britain, which is the same except for the bit about Labour.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The humanist ethic begins with the belief that humans are an essential part of nature. Humans have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature so that humans and biosphere can both survive and prosper. For humanists, the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.”

– Freeman Dyson, the great scientist and futurist who died recently. As quoted in this fine article over at National Review, by Robert Bryce.

Dyson did not buy global warming alarmism, which must have given many in the government-funded science establishment the vapours, (excuse the pun).

The return of the Test Acts

The (Glasgow) Herald reports,

Mandatory climate change classes plan for Scottish leaders

MSPs, business leaders and newly enrolled university students may be asked to take mandatory climate change studies if plans currently under consideration are adopted.

The studies would help arm them with facts and knowledge to make urgent changes to society as it emerges from COVID-19 lockdown. The Scottish Government has already committed to enrolling at least 100 senior officials to the Climate Solutions course.

The news comes just days before Tuesday’s one-year anniversary of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declaring a climate emergency.

The course was devised by experts at the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the Institute of Directors, Stirling University’s Business School and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Among the main areas the course looks at are issues around transport, energy use, supply chains, social behaviours, mitigation and planning for the future.

Former UN executive secretary on climate change Christiana Figueres who brokered the Paris Agreement, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who is now UN special envoy on climate action and finance and ex Irish President Mary Robinson who set up a climate justice foundation, are among heavyweight names lending their support.

The Test Acts, in case you had forgotten,”were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and nonconformists.”

Mr Robinson, said: “What we’re really hoping is we can make it universal.

“The conversations I’ve had are with six universities is about making it mandatory for students as a matriculation course. Stirling and Edinburgh universities are already further down the line on that than others.

“I’m also talking to others about making it as mandatory as we can in all other sectors – including business – because we need everybody to wake up a bit to their responsibilities.

“The Scottish Government are already committed through their programme of government to put through 100 senior staff on it.”

As I mention every time this subject comes up, I am more of a believer in anthropogenic climate change than many here. But the Scottish Government is working on that. If profession of a certain belief becomes a test of office, then soon enough every office holder will profess that belief. But why should anyone believe them? Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Samizdata quote of the day

Overall it’s just that Birkenstock stamping on a human face, forever, again isn’t it?

Tim Worstall

No more cheap cars

In the Continental Telegraph, Tim Worstall points out that electric cars ain’t cheap. So when all cars must be electric, no cars can be cheap.

This is where “trickle down economics” is actually true. New tech is expensive, toys for the rich. It takes a number of manufacturing iterations for it to become cheap enough for the masses. The iPhone started at $700, you can buy better landfill Android now for $30. ABS was only for top end cars, a couple of decades later everyone has it. That’s just how it works.

But we’ve now got government insisting that only electric cars by 2035. Which is rather before those cheap ones are going to be available – an iteration of technology in a car is measured in years, up to a decade. So, the poor get screwed.

And this gets worse. Batteries don’t last forever. And a significant portion of car transport for the poor is provided by the £500 beater. An older car, mechanically reasonable enough, that another few tens of thousands of miles can be got out of. Battery powered cars won’t do that. Because at some point you’re going to have to replace the battery pack, something that will be a substantial portion of the cost of a new car.

The technology basically kills the £500 beater market.

A good point, though I would replace the word “technology” with “regulation”.

At which point, well, aren’t they noticing? Or is this the point? That the proles have to walk while the Comrades can use the whole road as a Zil lane?

How would she know?

“I will not be slienced.” (Greta Thunberg in Bristol)

How would she know? Indeed, how would we know? It savours less of English understatement that of pointed irony to say that noone has tried to silence her. So it seems to me that we and she lack data on this point.

Greta has Asbergers Syndrome. Fans of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ know how many of the jokes depend on the impossibility of silencing the asbergian Sheldon by the gentle methods of social cues and hints, and the ease of doing so when to speak or to act requires that he move outside his idiosyncratic comfort zone. If Greta ever goes to China (obviously required by her proclaimed cause but AFAIK not even hinted at by her handlers or herself) then we may learn how far her ability not to be silenced extends beyond her condition. Meanwhile, we are entitled to reply to her, “How do you know?”

The question could also be put to her about other matters.

“The real will of the people”

“A citizens’ assembly on climate is pointless”, writes Stephen Buranyi in the Guardian, “if the government won’t listen”.

Perhaps a better person than I am would not have split the quotation at precisely that point. But no one who uses the phrase the “real will of the people” has any call to complain about misrepresentation.

This is what Mr Buranyi says a “citizen’s assembly” is:

Its conceit is that it offers direct access to the real will of the people: 110 citizens – chosen to be representative of the British population – attend sessions where they are briefed by experts on the issue; they then come up with a set of policies to solve it.

“Conceit” indeed. Mr Buranyi’s complaint is that the elected government does not obey this body. I would complain if it did. I do not see why the very atypical 0.00016% of the UK population who agreed to participate in this Citizen’s Assembly lark have any better claim to mystically represent “the real will of the people” than 110 customers of your local Wetherspoons who turned up last Thursday for the Curry Club.