Sunday, 24 April 2016

Earth Day 2016 >>> and human progress

Earlier this week, Earth Day was celebrated by mainstream organisations and media across the world:
Futures Forum: Earth Day >>> Friday 22nd April

Although some would be very critical of it - on the one side, as an outmoded piece of doom-saying or, on the other, as a vehicle for corporate green-washing:
Futures Forum: Earth Day 2016 >>> the critiques

The Day coincided with the signing of the Paris agreement on climate change - and, again, not everyone was happy:

What will be labeled a global triumph will in reality likely be a tragedy for rich and poor countries alike, and especially for the poor.
Accelerating a transition from fossil fuels to renewables means subsidizing and mandating a return to pre-industrial energy scarcity when the energy upon which fundamental human welfare depended was far more expensive but less efficient, versatile, and reliable. The grand delusion of climate policy is the assumption that renewable energies can now supplant fossil fuels and still affordably provide the myriad of services, goods, and food handily provided by the highly concentrated and controllable energy in hydrocarbons. As Google’s engineers concluded, renewables are a “false hope.”

Everybody loses on the path laid out in the Paris agreement, both the rich countries embracing the decarbonizing but awash with energy or those beginning the grand energy transformation without full access to electricity. Man-made energy scarcity will stymie existing economic growth in developed countries and constrain if not preclude economic growth in developing countries.
There is nothing inviolable about fossil fuels. Who knows what energy innovations creative human minds will achieve? At the moment, however, there is no comparable substitute for fossil fuel or the massive, seamlessly operating energy infrastructure built around these rich hydrocarbons across the world.
The Paris agreement formalizes wealth redistribution on several levels: from rich countries to poor countries and from poor people to rich people. Former UN climate official Ottmar Edenhofer candidly reveals the endgame: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. … We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” Subsidizing and mandating still far more expensive renewables forcibly redistributes the earnings of the poor to the rich elites who can afford higher energy prices.

UN Climate Program chief Christina Figueres admits her program now creates the political and organizational wherewithal to replace the economic system that made modern economic growth possible. As she nonchalantly comments: “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
Signing The Paris Agreement Doesn't Celebrate Earth Day

The American libertarian think tank the Cato Institute has just published this overview:

You Ought to Have a Look: Earth Day Round-Up

You Ought to Have a Look is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger. While this section will feature all the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic.  ere we post a few of the best in recent days, along with our color commentary.
Since the Earth Day coverage this year seemed rather meager—a sign, perhaps, that everyone is growing tired of the pessimistic drone that defines the current environmental movement—it is possible that you may have overlooked a few stories out there that shine a more positive light on the human condition and the way forward.
You ought to take a few minutes and take Alex Epstein’s short course from Prager University. It is presented in the form of a 5-minute video titled “Why You Should Love Fossil Fuel.” Here’s course description:
Every year on Earth Day we learn how bad humanity’s economic development is for the health of the planet. But maybe this is the wrong message. Maybe we should instead reflect on how human progress, even use of fossil fuels, has made our environment cleaner and healthier. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains.
We hope you like this, because you’ll undoubtedly be hearing much more from Alex in the future as we are happy that he has joined us at the Center for Study of Science as one of Cato’s newest adjunct scholars.
Also trying to bring a positive light to our future and change the course of modern environmentalism are Michael Schellenberger and Ted Nordhaus from the Breakthrough Institute. These guys are co-authors of the Ecomodernist Manifesto that we highlighted in these pages last issue. For Earth Day, they wrote a piece for USA Today titled “Want to Save the Planet? Say Bye-bye to Nature.” They mean “bye-bye” not in the sense of nature going away, but that we (humans) should bid it farewell as we exit. Here is the lead:
Since before the first Earth Day in 1970, environmentalists have argued that solving environmental problems required humans to get closer to nature. The “back to the land” movement urged people to leave cities, which were viewed as crowded and polluted. Renewable energy was recommended because it integrates human civilization into natural energy flows, such as water, biofuels and the sun. Similarly, organic agriculture was better because it integrated farmers and consumers into the natural rhythms of nature.
In recent years, though, a growing number of environmental scientists and activists are saying that the best way to protect nature is not by returning to it, but rather by leaving it alone.
This fits closely with the idea that technology and advanced society leads to better environmental protection—an opinion that we share. You ought have a look.
And also, be sure not to miss the Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Last week, Smith’s committee held a hearing on the justification and feasibility of the Obama administration’s recently announced  “UN Climate Pledge.” Rep. Smith’s op-ed was in response to President Obama fossil-fuel-burning Earth Day foray into the Florida Everglades to tell us that we need to take action to restrict the burning of fossil fuels in the name of mitigating climate change. While we have a good suggestion for the President as to some fossil-fuel saving measures that immediately come to mind, we’ll bite our tongue because they wouldn’t have any impact on the climate anyway. In fact, this is true for all emissions-limiting actions that come from the United States—a point that Rep. Lamar stresses in his WSJ piece (with help from information originating from our work and conveyed to him via last week’s testimonyof Dr. Judy Curry).
In the end, Rep. Smith astutely concludes:
When assessing climate change, we should focus on good science, not politically correct science.
Hear! Hear!
You Ought to Have a Look: Earth Day Round-Up | Cato @ Liberty

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