Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger

Michael Shellenberger was a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” and he was and is the founder and president of Environmental Progress. Now he has a  best-selling  book, Apocalypse Never, published at the end of last month. I haven’t read it, and I wouldn’t have the expertise to know whether it was right or wrong. It could be that he is violently rejecting the official climate change hysterics line to fill a profitable contrarian niche, though that would be out of character based on his reputation. It may just be that he is telling the truth, and exposing what was, or should have been, pretty evident for a long time. As he puts it his article,

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening, it’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30, so I may seem like a strange person to be saying this.

But as an energy expert asked by the US Congress to provide objective expert testimony and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as an Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Well, we knew that, didn’t we? The usual people denied it, but was so, so obvious that from Al Gore on, this was science weaponized for political and partisan purposes, by scientists seeking grants and peer approval. One doomsday prediction after another came and went, one model after another failed, and yet the refrain persisted. Climate scientists who were tempted to break ranks were intmidated: as galileo demonstarted, it is not a field often distinguished by courage and sacrifice. Shellenberger writes,

“[U]ntil last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an ‘existential’ threat to human civilization and called it a ‘crisis.’ But mostly, I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.”

The cancel culture is after Shellenberger even as I write this, for he’s perceived as a traitor.  Forbes, which initially published his mea culpa, pulled it down after being bombarded with social media protests, then gave no substantive explanation for why. Well, they really didn’t have to, I suppose.

Shellenberger lists “some facts few people know,” such as,

  • Humans are not causing a ‘sixth mass extinction’
  • The Amazon is not ‘the lungs of the world’
  • Climate change is not definitively making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have declined in Britain, Germany, and France from the mid-1970s
  • Netherlands is becoming richer, not poorer while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25 per cent more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter

…and more, then later lists some of the conclusions from his book, among them:

  • Factories and modern farming are key to human liberation and environmental progress
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium
  • 100 per cent renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5 pc to 50 pc
  • ‘Free-range’ beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300 pc more emissions

…and he asks, “Why were we so misled?”

We know the answer to that, too.

The Terrifying And Unethical Dissent Of Judge Staton In “Juliana vs. the United States”

This is why all Americans should be grateful for President Trump’s judicial nominees.

In 2015, a group of 21 children (<cough> I’m sure this was the children’s idea, aren’t you? Sure you are) filed  a lawsuit that came to be known as Juliana vs. the United States. This pure abuse of the legal system to engage in climate change hysteria  grandstanding asserted that the government  was violating their constitutional rights by not sufficiently addressing the climate  change crisis. The case should have been thrown out years ago, but last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finally did it.

Well, good. The fact that it took this long was a disgrace, and the result of “Think of the children!” pandering. The 9th Circuit being the residue of judicial activism and liberal bias that it has long been, however, it couldn’t restrain itself from writing, “The panel reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large,.”

panel concluded. Whoever one the three judge decided that the word “reluctantly” belonged there should be forceably retired.  “The panel reluctantly concluded that the United States Constitution does not permit courts to dictate national policy, nor citizens, especially those without voting privileges, to bypass our system of governance because they disagree with its policies” is what that word is telling us, and a judge who regrets how the separation of powers operates to that extent does not belong on the bench. Maybe they belong in President Elizabeth Warren’s cabinet, as she announced this week that she would eliminate student loan debt “on day one.” Lord, this woman is a shameless liar!

But I digress. Sorry. Warren’s name is becoming like “Niagara Falls” to me in the old vaudeville skit….

Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2019, Because Nobody Reads The Blog On Saturdays After Noon

Have yourself a Merry Little Four Days Before Christmas!

1.  Miss America Ethics. Wait…the winning Miss America’s “talent” was performing a chemistry experiment? I read that, but Ann Althouse picked up on the absurdity:

Now, I think pouring those chemicals into flasks could be done by just about anyone. It’s not like playing the piano, singing, and dancing — all of which take at least some talent and a lot of practice, but the woman in question, Camille Schrier “has two undergraduate science degrees and is studying a doctorate in pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University.” She made a stage show out of real achievements that just happened not to be in the performing arts.

That wasn’t the main ethics problem with the whateveritis, though. The problem is that this thing is an archaic beauty contest pretending to be something else, just like the winner’s “talent” wasn’t a talent. Did you see (if you were foolish enough to watch it) any plain, overweight or unattractive women up on the stage? I didn’t. Does that mean there aren’t any smart, talented women who don’t look like they belong in a Victoria’s Secret special in feathers and wings? Gee, I guess so.

2. There has been a lot of comment here and elsewhere about this weird story…the man who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing an LGBTQ flag hanging at the United Church of Christ in Ames near Des Moines, and set it on fire outside a strip club. Much of the commentary involves finding it inconsistent that burning an American flag is considered free speech, but this guy burned an LGBTQ flag, so he was sent to jail.

Weeelll, that’s not quite accurate. Flag-burners bring their own flags; this guy stole one. Flag burners do their conflagration in demonstrations; you can’t just burn stuff in public. Prosecuting this as a hate crime, however, nicely shows what’s wrong with hate crime laws. And 15 years is indefensible. I assume that sentence won’t stand. This isn’t a freedom of speech case, though. Continue reading

Not Protesters, Just A Mob

Giving a mob the dignity and legitimacy of referring to them as “protesters” just encourages them. A prime example occurred two days ago in New Haven, at the traditional Harvard-Yale game, the culmination of the Ivy League college football season. Personally, I wouldn’t have crossed the street to attend the 136th edition of “The Game,” though I witnessed the most famous of the them all, 1968’s 29-29 tie. Nonetheless, what a bunch of climate-addled demonstrators inflicted on a large group of students and alumni just trying to have a good time enjoying football, traditions, nostalgia and camaraderie  should not be romanticized. The “protesters” are arrogant, disrespectful and anti-democratic jerks. Boola-Boola.

A large mob of Yale Bowl spectators rushed the field at halftime, demanding that Harvard and Yale divest themselves of investments in fossil fuel and energy companies, delaying the start of the second half by nearly an hour, and causing the game to finish in near-darkness. Students from both schools, who didn’t care who they hurt or inconvenienced, rushed to midfield as soon the Yale band finished performing. ( At least they could have done it while the Yale band was performing…)The contest resumed after the Yale police issued 42 summonses for disorderly conduct. But the wasted hour threatened game’s finish:  the Yale Bowl lacks stadium lights, and the game went to double overtime. Yale won just before it became too dark to play.

The Ivy League referred to the protest as “regrettable.” and Yale said that while it “stands firmly for the right to free expression,” it added that “the exercise of free expression on campus is subject to general conditions, and we do not allow disruption of university events.”

So will Yale suspend or expel any of the mob? Of course not.

Protesters that set out to get attention by disrupting the lives of law-abiding citizens engaged in innocent activities are low-level terrorists. They aim to bypass democracy by creating implicit threats, hoping that their adversaries will surrender to just shut them up and avoid the annoyance. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/19: Complainers, Climate Hysterics, Tiny Tims And Fake News

Good morning!

Good news! You won’t be thinking I’m dead any more, at least not until I am.  The combination of some complicated travel itineraries and the death of my laptop resulted in uncharacteristic interruptions of the dialogue here, twice causing soem readers to speculate on my demise, or at least incapacity. No, it was just that budgetary priorities made replacing the travel computer a bit less urgent than things like a new roof, a car that runs, things like that. Over the weekend I address the computer problem, and not a second too soon, as I will be setting off today on yet another New Jersey odyssey. Paul Morella and I will be presenting editions of our Clarence Darrow legal ethics program for N.J. lawyers in Brunswick and Fairfield,  sandwiched in between about 9 hours of driving, but I should be able to keep the ethics fires burning to some extent. Unless I’m dead, of course. As my fatalistic father liked to say cheerily , driving my morbid mom crazy, “You never know!”

1. God bless them, every one! This is one example of non-traditional casting I agree with: increasing numbers of “A Christmas Carol” productions are casting children with disabilities to play Tiny Tim. I would fight to the death for the right of a fully-able young actor to play the roles, as well as for the right of a director to cast one. However, the show presents such an ideal opportunity for a child who normally might not  have many chances to a play any  role on stage  because of his physical limitations that it seems like a shame to let it pass. I also agree with the directors who opine that having a genuinely challenged Tiny Tim gives some extra oomph to the show.

Is it exploitative? Sure, to some extent. That, however, is show business.

I draw the line, however, at casting Cratchit children who are different races than their parents, making it look like Mrs. Cratchit has been turning tricks to make ends meet, or “Tiny Tina.”

2.  Here’s another kind of “fake news”…Yahoo! News felt that an entire post was necessary to inform the world that the President had screened “Joker” at the White House. Why is this news, or even mildly interesting? It’s a big movie, with lots of buzz. Presidents have screened movies at the White House for decades, usually without comment from the news media. Now, if he had screened the original “Birth of a Nation,” like racist Woodrow Wilson, or “Tusk,” that might be worth a small news item.

Let’s see, what other fake news items (as in thins that don’t qualify as news) are there on Yahoo!? How about “Michelle Obama Looked Incredible in a Yellow Corseted Schiaparelli Gown at the American Portrait Gala”? For some reason, I thought the fawning over Michelle, which as always hyperbolic and excessive, might have abated since she left the White House, after all, the news media quit going bonkers over every Jackie Kennedy ensemble once she wasn’t First Lady any more. Then there’s the matter of the gown Yahoo! is raving about… Continue reading

Ethics Catch-Up 11/14/2009: Better Late Than Never

Good morning!

Good Afternoon!

Good Night!

I started this post at about 10 am, and again, and again, and each time another post topic intervened, pushing the daily Warm-Up from the beginning of the day to the end of it…

1. Yet another shield becomes a sword…Add caller ID to the list of useful developments ruined by unscrupulous technology. I was recently tricked by what my phone said was a call by the Social Security Administration, and it included a phone number that I had recently received a legitimate call from, via an agent. This call was a scam. Investigating, I found that there are inexpensive apps available at the Android and Apple app stores with no limitations on who can purchase them that have few if any legal of legitimate purpose. SpoofCard, TraceBust, Fake Call Plus and more  allow a caller to enter any ID they choose, and any number. They also offer menus of background sounds, various voice pitches and other features to facilitate fraud.

When ethics fail, the law must step in, and these apps should be illegal.

2. Mona Lisa Ethics. “Leonardo’s painting is a security hazard, an educational obstacle and not even a satisfying bucket-list item. It’s time the Louvre moved it out of the way” shouted a New York Times sub-headline.” It’s hard to argue with the article’s conclusion….or its author’s contempt.  Here’s a photo of the typical crowd in the Louvre’s room where the Va Vinci painting is exhibited:

The Times observes…

Content in the 20th century to be merely famous, she has become, in this age of mass tourism and digital narcissism, a black hole of anti-art who has turned the museum inside out…Relocated to the Richelieu painting wing, the Mona Lisa reduced the museum’s Flemish collection into wallpaper for a cattle pen, where guards shooed along irritated, sweaty selfie-snappers who’d endured a half-hour line. The overcrowding was so bad, the museum had to shut its doors on several days. “The Louvre is suffocating,” said a statement from the union of the museum’s security staff, who went on strike…[The author] went up with the crowds recently. Things were no better. Now, you must line up in a hideous, T.S.A.-style snake of retractable barriers that ends about 12 feet from the Leonardo — which, for a painting that’s just two and a half feet tall, is too far for looking… visitors…could hardly see the thing, and we were shunted off in less than a minute. …Pathetic new signs [read]: “The Mona Lisa is surrounded by other masterpieces — take a look around the room.”

Morons. These are the fruits of celebrity culture and the spread of the sick addiction to self-celebration. Taking selfies of an art masterpiece only has the objective of proving an idiot was there, for other idiots who are impressed. Meanwhile, those who might really appreciate the painting are  prevented from doing so. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/11/19: September 11, 2001, And Other Cataclysms

The flag is still there…

Good morning.

1. A question that shouldn’t even have to be asked.  The New York Times asks if the “right thing to do” is for films and TV shows to edit out the Twin Towers in pre-2001 productions so as not to “trigger” sensitive audience members. Productions debuting in 2002, soon after the 9/11 attacks, are a special case: several films re-shot scenes to avoid references to the disaster, and that was just common sense. The suggestion that historical airbrushing is appropriate for works release before 2001 is disturbing, however, and symptomatic of the current belief that historical records cand and should be manipulated and censored for “the greater good.” Taking out the Twin Towers is a close unethical cousin of removing Robert E. Lee statues and references to slavery.

Director Michael Bay, who had a shot of one of the towers burning (from a meteor strike) in “Armageddon,” made an appropriate “slippery-slope” argument to  the Times, saying,

“Movies are shot, edited and finished for the world to see. They don’t get re-edited because history changes. If we go there, that means every movie must change. Every book, every short story, every painting of New York in the past 30 years. It would never end.”

I would add that it will be difficult to remember the September 11. 2001 attacks if we try to eliminate visual records of the Twin Towers.

2. Meanwhile, here’s how the New York Times wants us to remember the attackers: Continue reading

Greta Thunberg Ethics

Aw, isn’t she cute! And she has advanced degrees in climate science and computer…no? She doesn’t? Then what the hell are we listening to her for?

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has set sail in a zero-emissions yacht for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN’s climate summit. This is, of course, embarrassing and ridiculous for the U.N., and for adults everyone. Thunberg , who is 16,  founded the student climate-strike movement. As with Greta’s US equivalent, the Parkland anti-gun scold Parkland kids, Thunberg has nothing to recommend her as a legitimate authority on anything. She has multiple learning disabilities; she has no training in climate science or physics beyond what would be serviceable in a high school science fair. All she has is certitude, which is a hallmark of childhood and innocence as well as progressive, and a willingness to be exploited, sort of like Joan of Arc.

That’s not a bad comp, really. As Brendan O’Neill writes in Spiked, Continue reading

Unethical Op-Ed Of The Year: “Time To Panic” By David Wallace-Wells

Just in time to lay a foundation for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s hysterical and hilarious “Green New Deal,” the New York Times’ February 16 Sunday Review section devoted its front page entirely to an essay by David Wallace-Wells called “Time to Panic.” It is, of course, about climate change. The Times presented it on a scary red background, with an illustration of someone peaking through their fingers, as if they were watching a tense moment in a horror movie. (I actually do that, sometimes.)

The article is afear-mongering piece that extols fear-mongering, so it basically disqualifies its own credibility. The author’s credibility? It’s a mystery: I spent about 20 minutes on Google trying to determine what Wallace’s background is, and failed. The Times just says that he is an author, and has a whole book coming out, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” from which this junk is adapted. Various bios I could track downonly say that he is a “non-fiction writer”–I don’t know about that. So I’m going to assume that he is just a journalist who has adopted climate change as his hobby horse, and it seems to be working out for him. Since he’s not trained as a scientist–presumably if he had any actual independent technical understanding of climate science he would be waving that credential—we know that like Al Gore, Ocasio-Cortez and whichever Kennedy it is who want to lock up climate change “deniers,” his understanding of the topic is entirely second hand: he chooses to believe reports and summaries of scientific research that he  doesn’t know enough to critically evaluate. We also know that, like Gore and Ocasio-Cortez, who has floated the theory that the earth has only 12 more years before becoming Hell, he believes in hyping and over-stating in order to motivate the public. He says so outright: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2019: “Thing’s Are Seldom What They Seem…”

Good afternoon!

1. Today’s source of maximum irritation. Remember those California wildfires at the end of last year that the news media kept reporting as proof of climate change and that prompted Democrats and talking heads to sneer in disdain at anyone, especially President Trump, who suggested that electrical equipment just might have been the cause? From NPR:

Pacific Gas and Electric says it’s “probable” that its equipment caused the Camp Fire in Northern California, the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.

California has not finished its investigation into PG&E’s culpability in last November’s fire that killed at least 85 people, destroyed about 14,000 structures, displacing tens of thousands of people and destroying the town of Paradise. However, the state’s largest utility, which filed for bankruptcy last month, said Thursday it expects the investigation will find that its damaged infrastructure sparked the fire.

Please let Ethics Alarms know how many of the news shows this morning mention this development.

2. Spring Training ethics note: Good news! Ethics Alarms has been campaigning for robo-umps at home plate to call balls and strikes for several years. Now MLB announces that it has finalized a three-year deal with the independent Atlantic League to have the league test rules innovations and equipment for the Show. This will include computer calling of pitches. Not so good news: it will also reportedly include moving the mound back, which is heresy.

3. Concern for Popehat’s Ken White.  There is not a smarter, more passionate, better blogger on the planet than lawyer Ken White, and while we have had our disagreements, his commentary on law and justice especially is a blessing for all Americans, even though most don’t have the sense to benefit from it. One of many reasons I admire Ken is that he has been candid about his battle with depression, a killer illness that too many people don’t understand. That malady runs in my family (or as Mortimer Brewster says in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Runs? It practically gallups!”), and has been responsible for more than one suicide. Popehat once was a collective, but now it’s almost entirely Ken, with occasional drop-ins from the acerbic Mark Randazza. The blog’s last entry was January 4, almost two months. I’m worried, as are most of Ken’s fans I’m sure, and I am officially sending Ethics Alarms best wishes and love to one of the really good people in multiple roles: lawyer, blogger, public educator. Get back as soon as you can, Ken. We need you. Continue reading