Trusting Science: Oh Yeah, THIS Plan Sounds Promising…

Remember “Snowpiercer”? It was a nearly unwatchably grim movie about a climate change solution that goes horribly wrong, reducing the Earth to a frozen, deadly wasteland populated only by the passengers of a single train doomed to circle the globe forever. It became a cable series on TNT for three years because anything can become a cable series for three years now.

Well, now in an example of real life threatening to imitate bad fiction, Wake Smith, who teaches “a world-leading undergraduate course on climate intervention” and is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School specializing in “solar geoengineering” has written a paper, published this week, that lays out his plan to have jets flying at high altitude  inject microscopic sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere above the North and South Poles. This, see, will reflect sunlight back into space and slightly shade the surface below, retarding the warming of the poles that threaten to extinguish all life, or so the current government of the United States seems to believe. The scheme would be extremely expensive, require international cooperation, and even at best would only “buy some time” until a better and more lasting solution could be developed.

Or it might doom the world to a frozen apocalypse. As the old saying goes, “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.” Continue reading

Case Study: Prof. William MacAskill Proves Once Again Why Philosophers Are Useless And Untrustworthy

 William MacAskill is a philosopher, a professor at Oxford who has a new book out for the riff-raff, “What We Owe the Future.” MacAskill is a key spokesman for the so-called “effective altruism” movement which advocates “longtermism,” a an ethical position prioritizes the moral worth of future generations and obligation of present society to protect their interests. You know where this goes, right? “Longtermists argue that humanity should be investing far more resources into mitigating the risk of future catastrophes in general and extinction events in particular,” writes New York Magazine. Got it. This is a another climate change activist group shill trying to get civilization to shut down based on speculation, scaremongering and dubious science.

Ann Althouse, who has the time on her hands to read the increasingly leftist New York Magazine so I don’t have to, flagged an interview with MacAskill, and had the wit and integrity to note that the philosopher so focused on the value of future lives never mentioned abortion nor was asked about it. Ann, who initially pronounced the Dobbs decision monstrous, does have integrity, and tracked down another recent book-promotion interview  where abortion was raised. Asked whether his movement should be anti-abortion, MacAskill says no, and when pressed on his reasons (admittedly lamely), resorts to pure jargon and doubletalk, ducking the issue: Continue reading

Dispatches From The Great Stupid, Climate Change Grandstanding Edition

We owe this tale to the always mordantly amusing Manhattan Contrarian.

Like his counterpart in the White House, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, (D, of course), is addicted to completely useless climate change measures. Last week he signed the bipartisan Clean Air Act, and in the subsequent celebration of this epic moment, a State Senator spouted rhetoric about waiting for Washington, D.C. to “save the planet.” Anyone who actually understands anything about the vicissitudes of climate change and the wildly complex interaction of factors affecting it knows that Washington, D.C. can’t “save the planet,” but Lamont’s state really can’t save the planet. The Manhattan Contrarian explains that Connecticut…

…has a population of only about 3.6 million. Its greenhouse gas emissions are in the range of about 41 MMTCO2e per year, which is well less than 0.1% of total world annual emissions of about 49,000 MMTCO2e. You could zero out Connecticut’s emissions entirely, and it wouldn’t even amount to a rounding error in the world total. Indeed, the increase that occurs each year in China’s CO2 emissions is a multiple of Connecticut’s total emissions. (According to Our World in Data here, from 2019 to 2020, latest years given, China’s CO2 emissions went from 10.49 to 10.67 billion tons, a one-year increase of about 180 million tons, or well more than four times the total annual emissions of Connecticut.)

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2022: Twitter Wars And More

But first, a cheerful song, because it’s all downhill from here…

Speaking of music, some opening notes are in order:

  • Yesterday was the anniversary of the much-heralded Scopes “Monkey Trial,” a 1925 ethics train wreck that I wrote about extensively last year, here and here.
  • Today, July 11, marks two of the most vivid examples of how random chance changes everything—history, culture, values, traditions– in ways that cannot be imagined. The first was the foolish duel in 1804 between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that resulted in Hamilton’s premature death (but ultimately in a boffo Broadway musical!). The second was Count Claus von Stauffenberg’s close-but-no-cigar assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944.
  • Nearer to the present, the apparent collapse of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is disappointing, because it would make reporting on various Twitter-Twiggered ethics issues a lot easier if I could start an account again in good conscience, as I was prepared to do once the service got out from under the clutches of its current censorious and progressive-biased masters.
  • I also haven’t felt like participating in Facebook of late, as the Woke Hysteria among my once rational friends there over the recent SCOTUS decisions is too great a temptation–as in “target”— for me. Right now they just want an echo chamber to scream in, and that’s what they have. Someone somewhere on the web opined yesterday that late night talk shows,  “Saturday Night Live” and its ilk were no longer primarily about comedy, but rather therapy sessions for angry and depressed progressives and Democrats, with the shows using mockery and insults to reaffirm their convictions about “the others”—those dumb, evil, racist conservatives. I think that may be a perceptive analysis. “Saturday Night Live” is a particularly vivid example: the show that once reveled in portraying Gerald Ford as a bumbling klutz and George W. Bush as an outright moron week after week while they were in the White House now hesitates to exploit the comedy gold represented by Biden’s misadventures and Kamala Harris in general. It proves that SNL is more interested in hanging out with the cool kids than actually being funny—which is supposedly its mission. This is a conflict of interest, and the producer and writers aren’t even attempting to resolve it ethically.

1. Twitter Wars #1: @Ka1zoku_Qu0d, an idiot of the sort that literally clogs Twitter, posted this: “Hold on I want to make sure I say this carefully. Yeah Anne Frank had white privilege. Bad things happen to people with white privilege also but don’t tell the whites that.” This caused so much static on the platform that “Anne Frank” ended up “trending.” Continue reading

Ethics Hero Vaclev Smil Offers The Truth About Climate Change That The Hysterics Don’t Comprehend And The Biden Administration Ignores

Finally: a respected, objective scientist who is trying to explain how useless the arguments of climate change hysterics are, and how incompetent and dishonest (or ignorant) the Left’s approach to the problem continues to be.

The scientist is Vaclev Smil. He’s the Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with interdisciplinary research interests including energy, environmental, food, population, economic, historical and public policy studies. His latest book is “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going.” The New York Times Magazine made the mistake (from its political agenda’s point of view, anyway) of interviewing him about climate change, and the interviewer, David Marchese, was clearly dismayed at what he heard.

Read the whole thing, but here are some representative snippets:

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Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 2

Part I set some kind of Ethics Alarms record for reader disinterest, which I much admit, I don’t understand. These are all topics we have covered in some detail here over the last year, and the analysis of them by the alleged “newspaper of record’s” experts is, to say the least, perverse and revealing…yet the post’s first installment inspired just a single comment. Well, the Times’ take on the remaining issues are arguably worse. I find it fascinating, anyway. Here’s the rest of the highlights…

Can we save the planet?

It is embarrassing for a supposedly respectable news organization to frame an issue in such a hysterical and intentionally fear-mongering manner, which assumes one side of a debate is correct without reflection of nuance. The Times’ author on this topic, Farhad Manjoo, is a tech reporter, not an expert on climatology, so he has been given a platform to opine on something he doesn’t understand sufficiently to discuss reliably. On the topic of climate change, this is, sadly, typical. His article contains the kind of sentence midway through that would normally make me stop reading because of the bias, spin, hyperbole and mendacity: “During the Trump years — as the United States tore up international climate deals and flood and fire consumed swaths of the globe — unrestrained alarm about the climate became the most cleareyed of takes.”

There were no “climate deals,” just unenforceable virtue-signaling and posturing like the Paris Accords; the link between present day “flood and fire” and climate change is speculative at best, and unrestrained alarm is never “cleareyed,’ especially when those alarmed, like Manjoo, couldn’t read a climate model if Mr. Rogers was there explaining it. Then, after telling us that the Trump years were a prelude to doom, he says that since 2014, things are looking up. Much of what he calls “bending the needle” occurred under Trump.

Should the Philip Roth biography have been pulled?

This one is so easy and obvious that the fact that the Times thinks it deserves special attention is itself a tell. The answer is “Of course not!,” as an Ethics Alarms post explained. An absolutely competent biography was pulled by its publisher, W.W. Norton, never to be in print again, because its author, who had written other acclaimed biographies, was in the process of being “cancelled” for allegations of sexual misconduct toward women. I wrote,

“…[P]ublisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

It apparently makes sense to the Times, although its review of the matter doesn’t answer its own question. Why not? This is also obvious: as journalists, the idea that what a writer writes should be judged by what a writer’s personal life has involved is anathema, but the Times’ readers are so woke that the paper would dare not say so. Integrity! Continue reading

A New Peer Reviewed Study Casts Doubt On The Accuracy Of Climate Change Models…And The Mainstream News Media Doesn’t Think That’s Something The Public Should Know [Corrected]

Climate change models

The day before Thanksgiving, the journal “Science Advances” published a new study of Arctic water temperature that indicates that the warming began decades earlier than was previously thought. The study found that “the expansion of warm Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Arctic, something called “Atlantification, has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900.

So what, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that the findings suggest that the climate change models considered “scientific consensus” and ” settled science” are not so settled after all. [Notice of correction: The earlier version of that sentence carelessly implied that the new study disproved the predominant science. That was not my intent. Thanks to Luke G. for calling me on this.] meaning that if you were skeptical Robert Kennedy, Jr. thinks you should be prosecuted, the new data calls into question many if not all of the climate change models. Francesco Muschitiello, one of the paper’s authors, explained, “This is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these type of changes.”

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Comment Of The Day: “On Climate Change Fearmongering”

Climate hysteria

Sarah B. graced Ethics Alarms with a thorough and valuable discussion of the practical weaknesses of the climate change religion, or cult, or whatever it is. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “On Climate Change Fearmongering”…

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There is a massive problem with climate change solutions proposed by this summit and many others, and they all come down to an attitude that electricity is as magic. All solutions to climate change seem to ride on the attitude that if we can just get everyone on perfect electricity and have them drive a Tesla, that we can get rid of nasty coal, natural gas, and oil. There are better options (nuclear) and worse options (wind and solar) for that approach, and while I could point out why replacing all fossil fuel electric production with nuclear, wind, or solar would fail to provide adequate electricity at all times from a technical standpoint, that is really unimportant to the discussion, as they all have one existential problem. Electricity cannot replace fossil fuels.

When it comes to replacing fossil fuels as the energy source of transportation, there are several obstacles that have to be overcome, and currently we don’t have any ideas of how to overcome them. Climate change activists are depending on revolutions that may or may not materialize. But something would have to dramatically change to address the fuel needs of heavy machinery, supply chain vehicles, and long-distance travel.

First, we can look at farming equipment. Tractors and combines cannot run long enough or far enough on battery capacity. Batteries just do not have the adequate power to mass ratio to allow these big machines to do their job.

Next, we can look at semis. A group ran a test by driving an unloaded electric semi truck across 1-80 in Wyoming in the summer. That stretch of road is known for three major troublesome spots: the Summit between Cheyenne and Laramie, the greater Elk Mountain Area, and the Three Sisters close to Evanston. These sections are especially difficult for traditional semis in the winter, so a summer trial without a load is somewhat of a joke. However, the report exuberantly exclaimed how well the semi did on the Summit (going down that steep grade, not up it) and the Elk Mountain area was handled with ease (coincidentally without the 60+ mph winds that make that region well known in energy circles for its wind farms on the day in question as they are found mostly in the winter time), but the desperation of the authors was clear when they discussed how the semi completely failed going up and down the mountains referred to as the Three Sisters. The truck struggled up the hills at a maximum of 5 miles an hour, draining the battery and blocking traffic as it dropped an entire lane out of service from a supply chain artery of our nation.

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On Climate Change Fearmongering

As the United Nations COP26 climate summit among of world leaders proceeded, China continued to pledge coal-reducing actions that it has no apparent intention of actually doing, Joe Biden’s Energy Secretary laughed at the idea that the administration would even try to lower gas prices, and both the mainstream media and Big Tech moved closer to censoring anyone who dared to question climate change chic. Climate change hustlers and doomsayers were, as usual, predicting disaster. We are “quite literally” in the “last chance saloon,” said Prince Charles, though why anyone would pay attention to him is a fascinating question. Even Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, condemned leaders for not addressing climate change by accusing them of “a genocide on an infinitely greater scale.” Greta Thunberg accused politicians of not taking “our future seriously.”

Here, climate wackos confronted Sen. Joe Manchin as he stepped off his yacht with cries of “We want to live!” because Manchin has blocked pointless and expensive anti-climate change measures in the trillion dollar infrastructure bill. “Business as usual” will lead to a catastrophic collapse of Himalayan glaciers; and devastating heatwaves in the southern United States, sayeth the New York Times.

Facts Don’t Matter in the Age of The Great Stupid. I’m betting neither the idiots who harassed Manchin, nor “Green New Deal” guru Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Al Gore, Greta Thunberg or Nancy Pelosi know that the extreme and apocalyptic predictions they are relying on is the IPCC’s RCP 8.5 scenario often described as “business as usual.” “Business as usual” in that scenario literally means no action by any nations whatsoever, so it is already useless—except to cause alarm and panic among those foolish enough to trust the hysterics.

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Ethics Dunce: Harvard President Larry Bacow

Allow me to stipulate that it’s unethical for a President of Harvard University to make his students stupid. Can we agree on that? In truth, it would be unethical for the President of what is supposed to be America’s most distinguished, selective and eminent institution of higher learning to make anyone stupid, but surely the leader of such an institution has a special obligation to his own students, correct?

Apparently Mr Bacow doesn’t comprehend this. Harvard President Larry Bacow issued a message to all “Members of the Harvard Community” this month. Usually such broadcasts from Olympus involve a particularly earth-shaking event on campus, but this one was standard issue climate change propaganda and fear-mongering:

Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity. . . . We are going to need a little optimism to preserve life on Earth as we know and cherish it today. The last several months have laid at our feet undeniable evidence of the world to come—massive fires that consume entire towns, unprecedented flooding that inundates major urban areas, record heat waves and drought that devastate food supplies and increase water scarcity. Few, if any, parts of the globe are being spared as livelihoods are dashed, lives are lost, and regions are rendered unlivable.

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