UN report on global warming warns of "climate apartheid" between rich and poor

This is all perfectly logical if we assume that a couple of degrees warming is going to affect anything much.  But will it? The population outside the tropics are not be going to be bothered by a couple of degrees warming.

People in the tropics already live in temperatures way above the global average so why should people in more temperate climes experience difficulty with a slightly warmer environment? 

The very hottest territories may experience out-movement but that is a problem for their neighbors only.  There is no reason to expect any significant global effect

The UN has published a new report detailing the dangers of climate change, with a particular focus on how it will shape the issue of poverty in the coming decades. It paints a grim picture for not just those suffering in the current day, but the millions upon millions that will be pushed into poverty as a result of a changing climate, which also has the potential to upend democracy and human rights.

The new report echoes the sentiments of past climate reports published by the UN, calling on governments to do more than the steps laid out in the Paris Agreement in order to limit warming to levels considered safe. These have highlighted the issues of climate refugees, diminishing natural resources and extreme weather events, but the latest puts the spotlight on inequality between rich and poor, and how global warming threatens to widen the divide.

"Even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger," said the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and report author Philip Alston. "Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction. It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work."

The report leans on figures from the World Bank and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change among others, and in part imagines a world a few decades down the track with 2° C (3.6° F) of warming above pre-industrial levels. It says this could see 100 to 400 million more people at risk of hunger and 1 to 2 billion without access to adequate water. Crop yields could drop by 30 percent by 2080, while malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress could cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year by 2030.

It also points out the discrepancies in carbon emissions coming from the poor, who will suffer the most, and the wealthy, who will suffer less. The 3.5 billion people making up the poorer half of the world's population are responsible for only 10 percent of these emissions, while the wealthiest 10 percent contribute half. Strikingly, a person in the richest one percent is responsible for 175 times more carbon emissions than somebody in the bottom 10 percent.

"Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change, and have the least capacity to protect themselves," Alston said. "We risk a 'climate apartheid' scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer."

Equally important as the issues of food security, housing and water, the report says, is the threat to democracy and the rule of law. It says the anticipated mass migrations of people forced to either starve or move will "pose immense and unprecedented challenges to governance" and likely stimulate "nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses."

"In such a setting, civil and political rights will be highly vulnerable," Alston said. "Most human rights bodies have barely begun to grapple with what climate change portends for human rights, and it remains one on a long laundry list of 'issues', despite the extraordinarily short time to avoid catastrophic consequences. As a full-blown crisis that threatens the human rights of vast numbers of people bears down, the usual piecemeal, issue-by-issue human rights methodology is woefully insufficient."


How Dengue Could Spread in a Warming World

This would probably be true IF the globe warms more.

But like most Leftist writing, the story below tells only half the story.  I come from an area in the Australian tropics -- far North Queensland -- where Dengue and Ross river virus are endemic.  So how come neither disease is common in the population there?

Its because of something that the Green/Left routinely ignore: People react to problems.  They don't let problems just go on. And in this case public health measures work pretty well. Local authorities in the tropics react to mosquito-borne virus outbreaks in two ways.

1). They spray bodies of water where mosquitoes breed and thus kill them before they can fly. 

2). They mount publicity campaigns to alert people to the dangers of mosquitoes breeding -- so that households too avoid creating conditions where mosquitoes can breed. 

Neither strategy is completely sucessful  but it is successful enough.  Despite being born and bred in the tropics I have never had either Dengue or Ross river virus.

So if Dengue does spread to new areas, the control strategies are well known

Climate change is poised to increase the spread of dengue fever, which is common in parts of the world with warmer climates like Brazil and India, a new study warns.

Worldwide each year, there are 100 million cases of dengue infections severe enough to cause symptoms, which may include fever, debilitating joint pain and internal bleeding. There are an estimated 10,000 deaths from dengue — also nicknamed breakbone fever — which is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that also spread Zika and chikungunya.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology, found a likelihood for significant expansion of dengue in the southeastern United States, coastal areas of China and Japan, as well as to inland regions of Australia.

Oliver Brady, an assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a co-author on the paper, said that the research predicts more people in the United States will be at risk in coming years.

Globally, the study estimated that more than two billion additional people could be at risk for dengue in 2080, compared with 2015 under a warming scenario roughly representative of the world’s current emissions trajectory. That increase largely comes from population growth in areas already at high risk for the disease, as well as the expansion of dengue’s range.

To estimate the future spread of the disease, Dr. Brady and his colleagues took data on mosquito behavior and projections on urbanization (one type of Aedes mosquito that spreads the disease is especially prevalent in cities) and combined them with three different climate scenarios to model what might happen in 2020, 2050 and 2080. Under all three scenarios the spread of dengue increased.

But how much the world warms has a significant impact on the spread of the disease.

The research, Dr. Brady said, “hints at the idea that if we do control emissions better, we could stop or at least limit this kind of spread.”

Warming temperatures help expand dengue’s range because, in part, as it gets warmer mosquitoes can thrive in more places where they couldn’t previously. Warming temperatures also shorten the time it takes a mosquito to become a biting adult and accelerate the time between when a mosquito picks up a disease and is able to pass it on. The study’s predictions were lower in some areas, particularly Europe, than previous studies. Those studies estimated widespread transmission of the disease on the Continent, while Dr. Brady and his colleagues estimated that its spread in the region would be limited to parts of the Iberian Peninsula and parts of the Mediterranean.

Aedes aegypti is particularly concerning, because, while other mosquito species will bite whatever is convenient, Aedes aegypti prefer to bite humans. Much of the Southeast United States used to be home to mosquito-borne diseases. Malaria was a threat until the middle of the 20th century, when a mosquito-eradication campaign eliminated the disease. But that campaign relied heavily on liberal application of the insecticide DDT, which had a host of harmful environmental effects. In 2018, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County announced at least one locally acquired occurrence of dengue.

There are limits to the study, cautioned Andrew Comrie, a professor in the department of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona. The paper is a sophisticated use of ecological niche modeling, Dr. Comrie said by email, but it does “not deal with species competition, predation, or potential evolutionary adaptation.” While there is a dengue fever vaccine, it is ineffective for most people. Treatment for the disease focuses on ensuring that the patient gets enough fluids, which can be difficult because of severe nausea and vomiting.

“For a healthy individual dengue is an awful experience that you never forget,” said Josh Idjadi, an associate professor at Eastern Connecticut University who contracted dengue fever in French Polynesia. “For infants and elderly and the infirm, they’re the ones that are going to be at risk.”



I have just heard that Herb London died late last year, aged 79.

He was an historian by training, came from a Jewish family and was a tireless campaigner for conservative causes for 50 years or more.  I myself was reading his articles for over 40 years.  The last one I reproduced was on October 09, 2015.  I am genuinely sad that I never got to shake his hand.

I have put online some time ago a 1980 article from him titled My life with "the kids".  It tells of his encounters with student radicals in the '60s and '70s.  It is eerily reminiscent  of the student Left today so is rather encouraging.  Society survived the '60s and '70s reasonably well so presumably the present ructions will do no unsurvivable harm.

I was amused by this little episode that Herb related:

"Two days later a contingent of revolutionary action students visited my office, again demanding that my files be opened for inspection. I smiled, clenched my fist, asked them whence they derived the authority to make this "request," and invited them to leave. They refused. A spokesman, obviously trying to muster all the courage he had, said, "Suppose we take matters into our own hands." I softly responded, "You're welcome to try." There were no takers"

Why did the students cave in so readily? To understand, you need to know that Herb was 6'5" and an athlete in his youth -- JR.

It isn’t Leavers who are authoritarian

Dubious surveys have been used to give a misleading picture of Brexit voters.

Kevin Baldeosingh below concludes that it is British "Remainers" who are authoritarians.  I agree. "Remainers" are people who like big government and the EU is a VERY big government.  And a liking for big government is ipso facto authoritarian. But a liking for  big government is also Leftist.  Authoritarianism and "Remainerism" are, then, both part of the good old Left-Right dimension.  Both are Leftist, not something new or unusual.

Kevin's reference to there being two dimensions of politics is an idea popular among libertarians but is not supported by factor analytic explorations of political statements.  That also shows that authoritarianism is part of a single Left-Right dimension, not something independent of it.

For more on the absurd RWA scale also referred to by Kevin, see here.  In terms of current politics it does not measure ANYTHING Right-wing

It has been scientifically confirmed that Brexiteers are bigots, ignoramuses and, above all, really, really authoritarian.

How do we know this? Because just under a year ago, something called the Online Privacy Foundation published an updated version of its 2016 psychological survey of 11,225 Britons. It found that Leavers were more authoritarian, less open and more conscientious than Remainers. It then explained that ‘intelligence has been found to be positively correlated with the… trait of openness… and negatively correlated with conscientiousness’.

The findings were reported in the New Statesman, the New Scientist and The Sunday Times, which even cited the findings as proof that ‘Brexit voters are less bright than Remainers’.

But there is a problem. The standard questionnaire that tests people for authoritarianism is designed to discover only right-wing attitudes. In fact, the survey actually uses something called the right-wing authoritarianism scale (RWA). According to the RWA, authoritarians are characterised by obedience to authorities which the individual considers to be established and legitimate, general aggression against groups considered undesirable by these authorities, and a high degree of adherence to social conventions.

Now, characteristics such as these could apply far more to the woke crowd than any other cohort. Yet, although the RWA was developed by psychologist Robert Altemeyer in 1981, it was not until 2017 that a team of American political psychologists used Altemeyer’s questions, albeit modifying their content, in order finally to create a left-wing authoritarian (LWA) test.

So, a statement designed to measure obedience to authorities in the RWA – ‘It’s always better to trust the judgement of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds’ – was changed in the LWA test to read: ‘It’s always better to trust the judgement of the proper authorities in science with respect to issues like global warming and evolution than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds.’

Similarly, references to ethnicity and race in the RWA were replaced with references to fundamentalist Christian groups in the LWA.

So what did the psychologists find? ‘Not only did LWA show a significant correlation with liberalism in both a sample of US college students and a separate nationwide sample of US citizens, it also showed overwhelmingly significant correlations with dogmatism, prejudice, and attitude strength.’ In other words, left-wingers are pretty much just as authoritarian as right-wingers.

Yet, as spiked editor Brendan O’Neill has argued, even the concepts of left and right are now becoming obsolete in Britain. ‘The left v right feels increasingly like a relic’, he writes. ‘The divide now is between Leavers and Remainers; between those who have a strong sense of nationhood and those who see globalist institutions as the best means of organising political life.’

Interestingly, this split was predicted more than two decades ago by British political scientists in a paper entitled ‘Measuring left-right and libertarian-authoritarian values in the British electorate’, which noted that the common assumption that ‘political attitudes are arranged uni-dimensionally along a left-right ideological continuum… has been shown to be implausible in numerous studies’.

The authors went on to say that ‘issues associated with the libertarian-authoritarian dimension may in time compete with the traditional left-right dimension for a central position in British political conflicts’.

This libertarian-authoritarian dimension informs, often unconsciously, the elitist narrative about Brexit (and Trump). So, in conclusion, the Online Privacy Foundation claimed that ‘many voters lack the skills to evaluate critically the information which is being presented’. This prompted it to ask questions with authoritarian implications: ‘Should access to and the use of social media and other personal online data be better regulated?… [H]ow do we ensure that we unleash the power of personal data for social good?’

That reflexive disdain for the average Briton has informed several supposedly data-driven analyses. So, in a survey conducted soon after the Brexit vote, the European Journal of Political Economy concluded that Leavers were old, white, uneducated, technologically incompetent, on welfare, in poor health, and unsatisfied with their lives. Alternative viewpoints from academia came later, with, for instance, political scientists from the London School of Economics finding that ‘the profile of Brexit voters is more heterogeneous than initially thought, and includes voters with high education and “middle class” jobs’.

However, no amount of research has changed the narrative in the mainstream media that Leavers are all authoritarian thickos. Thus, in April this year, the Guardian ran a report with the dire headline ‘UK poised to embrace authoritarianism, warns Hansard Society’. Yet the Hansard Audit 2019, on which the Guardian report was based, does not even have the words ‘authoritarian’ or ‘authoritarianism’ in it.

In fact, what the audit actually reveals is widespread disillusionment with politicians, following their failure to adhere to the decision made by the 17.4million voters in the 2016 referendum. Hence, according to the audit, only 25 per cent of the public have confidence in MPs’ handling of Brexit; 47 per cent feel they have no influence at all over national decision-making; and 72 per cent feel that the system of governing needs quite a lot or a great deal of improvement.

Indeed, according to Hansard, it is Remainers, rather than Leavers, who are more willing to defer to civil servants, judges, and peers in the House of Lords. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about who are the real authoritarians today.


Syrup Is as Canadian as a Maple Leaf. That Could Change With the Climate

Another NYT scare below. It is highly likely that the changing seasons noted below are part of a natural fluctuation.  Nobody is even trying to correlate the changes with CO2 levels. And even if there is a real decline in syrup production, it's not going to bother anybody much.  Most syrup sold is ersatz, a factory product.  We read: "In the United States, consumers generally prefer imitation syrups, likely because of the significantly lower cost and sweeter flavour"

UPDATE:  It seems that the "decline" fears did not work out. We read: "Maple syrup production rises, despite shorter season. US maple syrup production increased slightly this year, even though the sap-collecting season was shorter than last year’s, the US Department of Agriculture said. The country produced 4.2 million gallons, up 1 percent from 2018."

A growing body of research suggests that warming temperatures linked to climate change may significantly shrink the range where it’s possible to make maple syrup.

In fact, climate change is already making things more volatile for syrup producers. In 2012, maple production fell by 54 percent in Ontario and by 12.5 percent in Canada overall, according to data from the Canadian government, because of an unusually warm spring.

Canada produces roughly 70 percent of the world’s maple syrup. That was worth about $370 million in 2017.

Warm weather can hurt syrup production because the process depends on specific temperature conditions: daytime highs above freezing with nighttime lows below freezing. This specific variation — which tends to happen as winter turns to spring, and fall into winter — causes pressure differences in the trees that allow the sap to flow. And it’s the sap that the farmers boil to create maple syrup.

To release the sap, maple producers make a small hole in the tree and insert a tap that allows it to spill out. But there’s only a small window of time when conditions are right.

“You’re really only talking six to eight weeks,” said Mark Isselhardt, a sugar maple expert at the University of Vermont. “Everyday that you don’t get sap flow has the potential to really impact the total yield for that operation.”

But because of climate change, some years those key temperatures are more elusive.

Instead of six or eight weeks to produce syrup in 2012, the Fultons had just 13 days. “We started the 8th of March and finished the 21st of March,” Mrs. Fulton-Deugo said.

“That type of condition will happen more often and it can have an impact like the impact it had in 2012,” said Daniel Houle, a biologist at the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.

In addition to the shorter tapping window, spring is also arriving earlier. The phenomenon is called season creep and it means that fall ends later as well.

That creates more headaches for producers, and not only in Canada, because the timing of putting in taps is crucial. “I’m in my sixties,” said Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York Maple Producers Association and a syrup producer. “When I was a kid, my dad had the rule that you tapped around March 15th.” This year, they were tapping in late January.

Production techniques, though, are thoroughly modern. For now, that has helped the farm to adapt.

While many imagine sap collecting into metal buckets attached to trees, the Fultons and most other syrup producers now use plastic taps connected to long lines of food-grade plastic tubing. The tubes zigzag through acres of forest from tree to tree before pouring out into a collection tank. Because the system is cleaner than older methods, it allows producers to tap earlier without fear that the trees will plug the holes, the way a scab covers a cut, before the sap begins to flow. On the Fulton’s sugarbush, the taps were in the trees weeks before the sap ran.

To help coax the sap out of the trees, producers use vacuum pumps. “We’ve seen that you get basically double the amount of sap when you use vacuum,” Mr. Isselhardt said.

But the weather conditions still need to be right. And, of course, you still need trees.

Maples need to be about 40 years old before they can be tapped, though they don’t come into their prime, according to Ms. Thomas, until they’re about 90 years old. “If I planted maple trees today, it would be my grandchildren that would be harvesting the sap from them,” she said.

But a recent study suggests that the changing climate is a threat to that process of growth and renewal. Andrew B. Reinmann, an ecologist at the City University of New York, along with colleagues at Boston University and the United States Department of Agriculture, looked at what happens to trees when snowpack declines.

Snowpack is important because, when temperatures dip, it acts as a blanket over the ground that prevents the soil, and the tree roots that reside in it, from freezing. By scraping off snow from some of the forest plots at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire during the first four to six weeks of winter, Dr. Reinmann and his colleagues were able to mimic the delayed snowfall that is predicted by century’s end in the National Climate Assessment.

“After the first year of snow removal, growth rates of the sugar maple trees declined by 40 percent or so, and growth rates remained suppressed between 40 and 55 percent below their growth rates prior to the start of the experiments,” Dr. Reinmann said.

Dr. Reinmann has also been running a separate experiment where he heats up the soils to see if the increase in warmer temperatures linked to an earlier spring would offset losses from frost damage. So far, his results suggest that it doesn’t.

Diane M. Kuehn, a professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has researched the perceptions of climate change by maple syrup producers. “What I heard frequently from people was that they’re not concerned about themselves during their lifetime,” she said, “But they are concerned about future generations and their families.”


Do sweet drinks give you heart attacks?

I haven't had time lately to look at the latest medical research but as soon as I do I find the utter crap below.  It's quite grievous that one finds this in a leading medical journal. There must be an utter drought of good medical research. It's looking like you could wipe off 99% of all published medical research with no loss. Most of the authors would do more good driving taxis.

Here's what the researchers did: They threw out 85% of their data and did the analysis on the remaining 15%.  Why did they do that?  Because it was the only way they could get the conclusion they wanted. Snobs look down on sweet drinks and, as elitist snobs,  they wanted to prove that such drinks can kill you. Sadly, even with the gross abuse of their data, they still found only the most marginal effect in the desired direction.

Clearly, in their data as a whole the finding was of "no effect" from the deplored drinks.  They would not otherwise have introduced such a great distortion into their statistics. So their research does in fact prove something -- just not what they wanted it to prove.  It proves that sweet drinks are completely harmless.  Drink all you like of them.

Association of Sugary Beverage Consumption With Mortality Risk in US Adults: A Secondary Analysis of Data From the REGARDS Study

Lindsay J. Collin et al.


Importance:  Research has linked sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, but the role of nutritionally similar fruit juice and the association of these beverages with mortality risk is unknown.

Objective:  To assess the association of SSBs and 100% fruit juices, alone and in combination (sugary beverages), with mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This cohort study is a secondary analysis of data obtained from 30 183 participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. The REGARDS study was designed to examine modifiers of stroke risk. Enrollment took place from February 2003 to October 2007, with follow-up every 6 months through 2013. Overall, 30 183 non-Hispanic black and white adults 45 years and older were enrolled in the REGARDS study. Those with known CHD, stroke, or diabetes at baseline (12 253 [40.6%]) and those lacking dietary data (4490 [14.9%]) were excluded from the current study, resulting in a sample size of 13 440. Data were analyzed from November 2017 to December 2018.

Exposures: Sugar-sweetened beverage and 100% fruit juice consumption was estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire and examined using categories of consumption that align with recommended limits for added sugar intake as a percentage of total energy (TE; less than 5%, 5% to less than 10%, and 10% to 12-oz serving increments.

Main Outcomes and Measures: All-cause and CHD-specific mortality were determined from cause of death records and family interviews and adjudicated by a trained team. Multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using regression models.

Results Overall, 13440 participants had a mean (SD) age of 63.6 (9.1) years at baseline, 7972 (59.3%) were men, 9266 (68.9%) were non-Hispanic white, and 9482 (70.8%) had overweight or obesity. There were 1000 all-cause and 168 CHD-related deaths during follow-up (mean [SD] follow-up, 6.0 [1.8] years). Mean (SD) sugary beverage consumption was 8.4% (8.3%) of TE/d (4.4% [6.8%] TE/d from SSBs; 4.0% [6.8%] TE/d from 100% fruit juice). Among high (less than 10% of TE) vs low (less than 5% of TE) sugary beverage consumers, risk-adjusted HRs were 1.44 (95% CI, 0.97-2.15) for CHD mortality and 1.14 (95% CI, 0.97-1.33) for all-cause mortality. Risk-adjusted all-cause mortality HRs were 1.11 (95% CI, 1.03-1.19) for each additional 12 oz of sugary beverage consumed and 1.24 (95% CI, 1.09-1.42) for each additional 12 oz of fruit juice consumed. In risk-adjusted models, there was no significant association of sugary beverage consumption with CHD mortality.

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that consumption of sugary beverages, including fruit juices, is associated with all-cause mortality. Well-powered and longer-term studies are needed to inform their association with CHD mortality risk.


Skeptical Australian Radio commentator slammed over climate change remarks on TV science panel

That weed Karoly has been a Warmist from wayback.  He is far from an unbiased scientist.  Note that all he points to is raised levels of CO2.  But nobody disputes that.  What about the global temperature? Is that rising? Crickets. (It's falling). Typical Greenie deviousness

His argument that Australia is contributing more than its "fair share" of global warming is also  faulty.  What he is referring to is again CO2 emissions. And skeptics see CO2 as being primarily plant food  -- which it undoubtedly is -- and not as any significant influence on global temperature.  There have been long periods when CO2 has shot up while temperatuers remained stable -- the 30 relatively recent years of 1945 to 1975, for instance. Karoly has his head in an unmentionable place

Alan Jones copped an absolute roasting on tonight’s episode of Q&A — despite not even being on the panel.

The radio shock jock was slammed by a panel of science experts for downplaying human impact on climate change, after he said we only contribute three per cent to greenhouse gas emissions during his own Q&A appearance last month.

“I saw the radio commentator Alan Jones on TV recently, and he said that 0.04 per cent of the world’s atmosphere is CO2,” the questioner said. “‘Three per cent of that human beings create around the world, and of that, 1.3 per cent is created by Australians’. Is that correct, and if so, is human activity really making a difference?”

Professor David Karoly, an Australian atmospheric scientist based at CSIRO, bluntly responded: “Not everything Jones says is factually accurate.”

Prof Karoly said that, while it’s correct that 0.04 per cent of the world’s atmosphere is carbon dioxide, Jones’ statistics around humans causing climate change — and the role Australians specifically play — is completely false.

“I am a climate scientist, and Alan Jones is wrong. The reason he’s wrong is because we know that yes, the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere is 400 parts per million … and that corresponds to about 0.04 per cent.

“All his other numbers were wrong. We know that carbon dioxide concentration 100 years ago was about 280 parts per million, or 0.028 per cent, but it’s grown 120 parts per million — or about 40 per cent — and that 40 per cent increase is due to human activity. We know that for absolute certain.” [Real scientists never know anything for absolute certain]

In other words, Prof Karoly was saying we’ve technically increased greenhouse gases by 40 per cent, not the three per cent figure Jones used.

The scientist also slammed the radio host for implying that Australians contribute a negligible amount to global warming.

“Australians have contributed about 1.5 per cent. Now that sounds like a small amount, but Australia only makes up 0.3 per cent of the population, and we’re contributing 1.5 per cent roughly of greenhouse gases,” said Prof Karoly. “So is it fair that 0.3 per cent of the global population has contributed 1.5 per cent? We’ve contributed much more than our fair share.”

Particle physicist Brian Cox said people think the climate is overly “simple”, which is a big part of the problem. “But actually, the climate is extremely complicated. These models are very, very complicated and constantly evolving.

“I think many people assume you can just work out what the climate’s going to do, like it’s common sense. But it’s actually a very complex system.” [Too complex to support any firm prediction, in fact]


NYT writes: U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid

President Trump tweets: "Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country..."

The story gives Russia forewarning that the USA has expert code crackers too and is thus a betrayal.  But the NYT is a firmly Leftist organ so it will of course do anything it can to harm the USA. All of the major bills advocated by the Democratic party in recent months -- such as the "Green New Deal" -- would be hugely disastrous for the American economy and the welfare of ordinary Americans -- but that's a feature, not a bug

Remember the "Affordable Care Act", which made health insurance effectively UNaffordable for many who previously did have insurance?  Again a feature, not a bug

The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

But in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort “to say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”


Universities shine in the contest of ideas (?)

Below is some complete and utter bullshit from Deborah Terry, chairwoman of Universities Australia.  She describes what universities should do as if they actually did it.  Far from shining in the contest of ideas, Australian universities avoid any contest of ideas.

If she really believes all that dribble, let her explain why the riot squad had to be called in order to disperse the student demonstrators who were blocking people who wanted to hear Bettina Arndt at the University of Sydney.  Let her explain the Australia-wide difficulties Bettina has had even getting to book rooms for her talks

And what about the difficulty the Ramsay centre has had in being allowed to sponsor courses in Western civilization?  There has been huge resistence to letting students hear anything about the history and ideas of Western civilization.  What went wrong with the "contest of ideas" there?  Censorship of ideas would be the accurate description.

I note that she gives no evidence that our Universities shine in the contest of ideas.  Offering assertions without evidence is the nadir of scholarship.  If she is the representative of Australian  universities she discredits them.  There is of course plenty of evidence that Australian Universities do NOT shine in the contest of ideas. I have just mentioned some. The woman has her head in a dark place.  She is suffering from a severe case of loss of reality contact 

Australia’s universities have been on the public record through the decades affirming our commitment to informed evidence-based discussion and vigorous debate.

As institutions, we nurture the skills of our students to debate ideas, develop their critical thinking skills and engage with a wide array of views — including those with which they agree and those with which they disagree.

The exercise of free speech applies to both proponents and opponents of controversial ideas.

You need only to look to democracy-defending protests around the world to see this in action. Surely the ideal is for a vigorous engagement and contest of ideas, passionately and peacefully expressed.

Under wider Australian law, freedom of speech is not without limitation or caveat. There are, for example, prohibitions on hate speech and discrimination, as well as laws on defamation.

University students and staff are, of course, subject to these wider laws, like the rest of the Australian population.

The skill of being able to engage in vigorous debate without suspending courtesy is one that our students will need if they are to succeed in the workplace and the world.

The French review reminds us that the mission of universities includes responsibility for the maintenance of scholarly standards in teaching, learning and research.

Hence universities teach students to seek out and weigh evidence, test and verify, and to form cogent arguments drawing on that evidence. At the same time, our university researchers keenly examine and respectfully debate ideas, new paradigms, evidence and conclusions.

Universities play a fundamental role in the health of open, democratic societies worldwide. Australia’s universities are ever vigilant in defence of our democratic freedoms.


The opening speech in Florida

I am not going to repeat any of the text of what Trump said in the opening speech of his campaign.  Details of that are already widely available.  But I have a few brief comments. 

I have studied closely the Fascist/Nazi era in prewar Europe so comparisons with that come easily to mind.  And there is no doubt that Trump's speaking style closely resembles that of Mussolini -- the staccato words, the air of indignation, the facial expressions  and the bodily movements.  And both men were preaching a message of insurgent patriotism -- of taking the country back from those who did not have its interests at heart.

But Mussolini was a very successful orator and leader.  So it is no surprise that another successful insurgent patriot would reinvent his approach.

The similarity to Hitler is much less marked.  Unlike Trump, Hitler was very fluent and did not continue on the same constant emotional level that Trump does.  Hitler's speeches were a crescendo, starting out very calmly and gradually building up to a huge pitch of emotionalism and excitement.  The only similarity I can see between Hitler and Trump is that both spoke extempore, without using prompts.   Obama, by contrast read almost every word of his speeches off a teleprompter. His persona as a speaker and leader was a complete fake.  He was basically a dummy.

So any Leftist reading these comments will be disappointed.  They will love the Trump/Mussolini comparison and say that Trump is therefore a Fascist but will hate the Hitler comparison which says that Trump is not at all like Hitler.  But that is the way that the cookie crumbles.  All it shows is that anybody who judges people by their speaking style is a fool.  It's policies that count, not the window dressing. 

And the policies of the two men are about as opposite as you can get. Musso summarized his policies as: "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato" (Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State).  Trump, by contrast, is doing his best to get the government out of people's lives -- JR.

Inside a far-Left organization

Amnesty International started out as politically impartial but those days are long gone.  I was a member of it myself years ago.  It is heavily Leftist these days. It still does some good work in some genuinely tyrannical countries but also emits gravely unbalanced criticisms of Western countries such as Israel and the United States. They even slam peaceful old laid-back Australia. And they even campaigned against the unfortunate Sri Lankans who were at the time battling a vicious Marxist insurgency led by the relentless Tamil Tigers. And in Israel Amnesty is seen as little more than a branch of the PLO.

Its inability to keep its nose clean is evidenced by the fact that there is actually a Wikipedia article titled  "Criticism of Amnesty International". And there is a fuller account of Amnesty's Leftist biases here.

So Amnesty is led by far-Leftists.  And what do we know of such  folk?  We know that they are angry hate-filled people. Just say "Donald Trump" in front of one of them to witness the hate and anger come pouring out.  And look at what they do when they gain untrammelled power -- as in the old Soviet Union or Mao's China.  They have no respect for life at all.  They are vicious mass murderers. They stop at nothing in their thirst for power.

So what do you expect of an organization led by such people?  In a word you expect a "toxic" organization full of unhappy people.  The report below shows that Amnesty fulfils that expectation.  There is nothing surprising, original or inexplicable in it

The report was devastating. The working environment at the organisation was described as “toxic”. There was widespread bullying of staff and a bunker mentality among senior management; 39% of employees developed mental or physical health issues as a result of their work. An investment bank or a technology firm in Silicon Valley?

No. This was Amnesty International, a human-rights charity. Five managers have just left the organisation following the report’s findings.

Workplaces create their own hierarchies, regardless of whether the aim of the operation is to help people or make money. Two female partners at KPMG, an accountancy group, recently left out of concern at the behaviour of a male colleague. Coming from a family of teachers, Bartleby can attest that school staff rooms are beset by bitter rivalries. Universities are famous for their internecine disputes, as captured in the adage that “academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”

At Amnesty, the problem was not with staff motivation. The report, by the Kon-Terra group, a consultancy, makes clear that many employees regarded their job as a “vocation or life cause” that provided them with “a compelling sense of purpose and meaning”. But that commitment proved to be a double-edged sword.

First, in the eyes of workers, managers believed the importance of the NGO’s work was so great that they did not need to listen to staff concerns. Employees, the higher-ups seemed to conclude, “should be grateful for being able to work at Amnesty”. Second, workers found it difficult to set healthy boundaries on their hours (or on their tolerance of a toxic climate) owing to a deeply held belief in their mission. One cause of stress was a process called the Global Transition Programme, which moved Amnesty’s staff away from headquarters and closer to the abuses they covered. Workers felt that their views about these transfers were not seriously considered and that the implementation of the programme was rushed. As a result, employees found their work patterns disrupted, even as some moved to high-risk locations. Concerns came to a head when Gaëtan Mootoo, a long-time employee, committed suicide, leaving a note blaming work pressures. Another staff member committed suicide shortly afterwards, although inquiries found no evidence that the death was work-related. These tragic incidents led to the commissioning of the report.

So what went wrong? On the surface, Amnesty seemed to offer services to help employees cope with stress. Staff were eligible for five counselling sessions, and an external reporting service for whistleblowing had been created. Programmes were developed to train leaders and to help staff support their colleagues. But these efforts were described as “ad hoc, reactive and inconsistent”. In a survey 85% of employees said they had not been given enough guidance to support the well-being of their colleagues.

The problem clearly came from the top. If senior management is not committed to a caring atmosphere, no amount of discussion groups or special programmes will make things better.

A certain amount of stress at work is inevitable. Most organisations are hierarchical. Deadlines are a part of life, as is uncertainty over whether individual projects are going to succeed. But workers who are stressed and fearful are unlikely to stay in their jobs or be productive in the long run.

Many managers derive a lot of their status from their oversight role. That is, in part, why organisations create such roles: they can reward high-achieving employees with a title as well as with extra money. But power is seductive. Peter Cappelli, a scholar of human resources at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, says that toxicity arises when “the boss acts like a dictator and actively punishes people who articulate different views or express disagreement”.

As Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School explains in her book, “The Fearless Organisation”, the ideal is to create an atmosphere of “psychological safety” where workers can speak their minds. Managers need to learn the art of “respectful inquiry”, where they ask employees questions and listen intently to the answers. The bosses at Amnesty may have listened to the political dissidents whose causes they were championing. But they clearly weren’t listening to their staff.


A grievous sinner, and a great American

Jeff Jacoby is fairly conventional below in what he says about MLK but I cannot agree that such a disgusting creature is a great American. The Dream speech was widely praised but ignored by everyone.  The Left in particular don't share the dream.  They constantly highlight group difference instead of ignoring them and campaign relentlessly for racial preferences.

And even if it was somehow still a good speech, so what?  Even Hitler said one or two wise things in his long career of speechifying.  Here they are:  "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht" and "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk".  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day."

IT WAS March 3, 1968, and America's most influential pastor, the preeminent leader of the civil rights movement, was in the pulpit of Atlanta's Ebenezer Bapist Church. His theme that Sunday was the neverending tension between good and evil — a tension that exists not merely in the abstract, not just "out somewhere" in the "forces of the universe," but in the heart of every human being.

Including his own.

"You don't need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no," he exhorted the congregation. "I want you to know this morning that I'm a sinner like all of God's children. But I want to be a good man."

He spoke of the constant struggle to resist base impulses. "Every time you set out to be good, there's something pulling on you, telling you to be evil," King preached. "There is a schizophrenia . . . within all of us. And there are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us."

MLK's flock that morning didn't know just how sinful their shepherd could be. But the lurid details have long since been made public. Many first came out during the 1975 Church Committee hearings, a Senate investigation into abuses by US intelligence agencies. Those hearings exposed the obsessive quest for dirt on King by the FBI, which was authorized by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to tap the civil rights leader's phones and bug his hotel rooms. The bureau compiled salacious reports on King's sexual activity, peddling some of the information to reporters and politicians.

The FBI's quest to discredit King is one of the most shameful chapters in its history. But there is no denying King's seamier side. He was a compulsive philanderer, who cheated on his wife Coretta with numerous mistresses, including two in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis the night before his assassination. "We all understood and believed in the biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage," King's devoted friend and fellow pastor, Ralph Abernathy, wrote in The Walls Came Tumbling Down, his 1989 memoir. "It was just that he had a particularly difficult time with that temptation."

Now this unpleasant topic is back in the news. In a long essay for the British magazine Standpoint, the respected historian David Garrow sheds new light on King's womanizing. Garrow — author of a Pulitzer-winning biography of MLK and a noted authority on the civil rights movement — quotes from newly released FBI surveillance summaries that "expose in graphic detail the intense focus on King's extensive extramarital sexual relationships with dozens of women." The most disturbing describes King's "presence in a Washington hotel room when a friend, a Baptist minister, allegedly raped one of his 'parishioners,' while King 'looked on, laughed, and offered advice.'"

The actual FBI tape of that episode still exists in a National Archives vault, and could presumably confirm or refute the FBI's shocking claim. But all of the MLK transcripts and recordings were put off limits for 50 years by federal court order in 1977, and won't become available to researchers until January 31, 2027. "When they are made fully available," writes Garrow, "a painful historical reckoning concerning King's personal conduct seems inevitable."

A number of Garrow's fellow scholars have squared off over his essay. Some suggest that it needlessly sensationalized allegations that may not be reliable; others argue that Garrow was professionally obliged to incorporate the new material into the record. Of course the debates over King and his legacy will go on, just as the debates over other historical giants go on. The treatment of women looms larger today as an element in assessing reputation than it did a generation ago; in a #MeToo environment, the disclosures of MLK's sexual dissipation are bound to affect the way historians judge him.

What will not change is King's status as one of the towering moral champions of the 20th century.

A flawed man he may have been, as he told his parishioners in Atlanta that day, but MLK was also a figure of almost inconceivable moral valor. He devoted his life to the worthiest goal in American history — the goal of racial fairness and freedom, of an end to oppression based on color, of a nation committed to the God-given equality of all its citizens.

King, the 1964 Nobel laureate for peace and a singular advocate of nonviolent civil disobedience, never wavered from his absolute commitment to peaceful change. He was repeatedly targeted by enemies wielding knives, guns, and dynamite — he had a premonition that he would be assassinated — yet he steadfastly rejected violence. He deployed his extraordinary power as a speaker not to enrage or mock, but to elevate and ennoble. His 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech ranks with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" as some of the most indelible and affecting rhetoric in American history.

Like everyone who has ever lived, MLK had his ignoble side. He should have been a better man, a better husband, a better Christian. For all that, he was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived, and a hero for the ages.


‘Frightening’ number of plant extinctions found in global survey. Study shows 571 species wiped out, and scientists say figure is likely to be big underestimate

Some people are easily frightened, it seems. No details or reasoning are given to show why it is frightening so it seems we are reading nothing more than yet another screech of Greenie emotionalism.  If they had named just one lost species that is/was important to humankind they might have had a case -- but they do not. Why? Because there have been no important losses, obviously.  They would be all over it if there were such a loss.

I have commented on the Daily Mail version of this report a couple of days ago.  It is the Guardian version below.  I also append the journal abstract at the bottom of the Guardian article -- which is VERY interesting.  But we will get to that.

The reason I am reopening this matter is that I want to make clear how grossly unscientific the study is. I am pointing in particular at the egregious claim that:  "the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution".  How do they know?  How do they know what the plant extinction rate was before the industrial revolution? Unless they have got a fully operational Tardis, there is no way they CAN know.

To know that they would have to be able to point to a study like theirs which was conducted in (say) the 18th century.  There is no such study.  Even if there were a good species count available from 18th century England, how do we know how typical events in England were?  England has never been typical of anything as far as I can see.  So there is an excellent chance that they were not typical at all. The whole claim is pure bunk, pure guesswork.  And if they are relying on the fossil record, they are no better off.  The most prominent thing about the fossil record is the "gaps" in it.

Interestingly, they do NOT repeat their hysterical claim in the journal abstract.  Where they could have said: "at 500 times the rate of  background extinction", they in fact wrote: "at a higher rate than background extinction", which is not nearly as crazy.  So we have yet another example of crooked Greenie "science".  We all know that there is no such thing as a happy Greenie and I am fast coming to the view that there is no such thing as an honest Greenie. Exterminate! (With apologies to "Dr. Who")

Human destruction of the living world is causing a “frightening” number of plant extinctions, according to scientists who have completed the first global analysis of the issue.

They found 571 species had definitely been wiped out since 1750 but with knowledge of many plant species still very limited the true number is likely to be much higher. The researchers said the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution, and this was also likely to be an underestimate.

“Plants underpin all life on Earth,” said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who was part of the team. “They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems – so plant extinction is bad news for all species.”

The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.

“It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Dr Maria Vorontsova, also at Kew. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number but because I think that is a gross underestimate.”

She said the true extinction rate for plants could easily be orders of magnitude higher than that reported in the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. There are thousands of “living dead” plant species, where the last survivors have no chance of reproducing because, for example, only one sex remains or the big animals needed to spread their seeds are extinct.

It takes many years to be sure a plant has been wiped out, meaning there are many species awaiting formal confirmation. “How are you going to check the entirety of the Amazon for your lost plant?” Vorontsova said. And some plant species may have gone extinct before ever being discovered. Botanists find about 2,000 new species a year.

The main cause of the extinctions is the destruction of natural habitats by human activities, such as cutting down forests and converting land into fields for farming.....


Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery

Aelys M. Humphreys et al.


Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name a recently extinct plant. We present a comprehensive, global analysis of modern extinction in plants. Almost 600 species have become extinct, at a higher rate than background extinction, but almost as many have been erroneously declared extinct and then been rediscovered. Reports of extinction on islands, in the tropics and of shrubs, trees or species with narrow ranges are least likely to be refuted by rediscovery. Plant extinctions endanger other organisms, ecosystems and human well-being, and must be understood for effective conservation planning.

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019)

'It's absurd': Childcare is costing parents more than fees for exclusive private schools - with some spending $50,000 a year. It's costing $50,000 a year for full time care, and $30,000 for part time care

We see the fruit of all encompassing regulation.  When I was a kid, parents would send their kids to be minded to the old lady over the road who had already brought up her own family.  She charged pennies so those who only earned pennies could afford it.  And because she was known in the area there were no fears about it.  

That should still be allowed but these days she would be a deep-dyed criminal, in breach of dozens of regulations.  Why not revive the old system by allowing a regulated and an unregulated sector?  We would soon see how much parents valued the regulations which are allegedly "for your own good"

Parents are forking out more for childcare than the cost of the some of the country's most exclusive private schools, with some centres now charging over $200 a day.

In the most extreme cases, daycare costs are setting Sydney families back $50,000 a year for care five days a week, and $30,000 for part time care.

Parents would be paying less to send their children to Cranbrook in Sydney's eastern suburbs, an elite boys' kindergarten to year 12 college, which costs $37,230 per year.

Australian Childcare Alliance NSW chief Chiang Lim told the Saturday Telegraph that Sydney is the hardest hit city in the country when it comes to extreme childcare costs.

'It is absurd that it can be more expensive than some of the elite private schools in Sydney,' he said.

A recent OECD cost of living report found that Australia has some of the highest childcare costs in the world.

On average, Aussie parents are spending 26 per cent of their joint incomes on childcare.

Sending one child to daycare in Mosman, on the north shore, costs an average of $159.56 a day, with one centre charging $210.

Meanwhile, fees in Coogee are slightly less at an average of $150 per day, while Canterbury in Sydney's inner west costs $115 for a day of care.

'We really need a review of the entire system,' Mr Lim said.

Wealthier families in Sydney's affluent suburbs put their kids on the waiting lists of community pre schools with cost just $40 a day.

Childcare subsidies are paid directly to the centres, but are capped at an hourly rate of $11.77, which doesn't offer big savings for struggling families.

Couples with a combined income of $351,248 per year don't qualify for subsidies, and parents who take in between $186,958 and $351,247 have a capped subsidy of $10,190 per child.

This has lead to parents working less or finding other ways to get their children looked after.


Will global warming endanger the U.S. corn belt, a key source of calories for the growing global population (?)

It would be more accurate to say that American corn is a major source of calories for American internal combustion engines.  It has virtually nothing to do with feeding the world.  Only 17% of the crop is exported, mostly to Mexico and Japan.

Africa has a variety of climates but Africans mostly live on self-grown corn in the form of "mealie pap".  They don't rely on American corn.

And the experiment described below is stupid.  To expose a cultivar designed for a cold climate to unusually high temperatures is simply irrelevant.  Corn is grown all around the world in a variety of climates, mostly warm.  Some cultivars grown in India, for instance, are very heat tolerant -- up to 35° C.

So in the event of global warming, farmers would just have to order seed of a more heat tolerant cultivar.  If the Midwest warmed up a bit, use of tropical cultivars would probably INCREASE production

The article below also ignores other factors of production.  CO2 is a plant food so more CO2 in the air would also increase corn production.  And a warmer world would be more rainy, which again favours plant growth. Farmers might have to look more to their drainage but that is a lot better than suffering drought, which is the current most common problem for corn farmers. Corn likes a lot of water.

So if you look at the full picture, a warmer world would be most likely to lead to a GLUT of corn, not a shortage. It never ceases to amaze me how dishonest Warmist articles are.  Is there such a thing as an honest Warmist?

It’s a bitter cold March morning in Ames, Iowa, and the sprawling cornfields outside of town are buried beneath a couple of inches of ice and snow. But it’s hot and humid inside the custom-built grow chambers on the campus of Iowa State University.

Blindingly bright lights beat down on a trio of squares, each containing close to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) of soil, sunk five feet (1.5 meters) into the floor. The steady churning of fans, ensuring air circulation and uniform temperatures throughout the room, echoes off the walls. Every few inches, a suite of infrared thermometers and moisture sensors track the microclimates surrounding the leaves of the plants.

Inside these growth chambers, it’s the future. And Jerry Hatfield, an affable agronomist who heads the US Department of Agriculture’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, doesn’t like what he sees.

“Either we’re going to change the crops that we produce or we’re going to have to think about how we genetically manipulate that plant to have a higher tolerance to higher temperature.”
Three years ago, Hatfield used the growth chambers to find out how local crops would perform under the temperatures predicted for the region in 2100, which are expected to rise roughly 4 °C on average, or about 7.2 °F. He simulated a growing season, from April 1 through October 30, for three different strains of corn used by farmers in the area. In one chamber, Hatfield started the temperature at just around 50 °F (10 °C) to mimic conditions in early April, raised it well above 100 °F (38 °C) to simulate the hot summer days (as high as 114 °F in the chamber with 2100 conditions), and then brought it back down again for autumn. In a second chamber, he simulated the region’s current, cooler climate norms.

The differences between the plants in the two chambers were stark. While the leaves looked the same, the impact of that extra 7.2 °F was far worse than projected by even the most pessimistic scientific literature. The number of corn kernels per plant plummeted, in some cases by 84%. Some plants produced no kernels at all.

It was just the first in a series of alarming results. In the months that followed, Hatfield and his colleagues simulated the rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns expected to hit the wheat fields of Salina, Kansas, as soon as 2050. Yields fell as much as 30% with low precipitation and as much as 70% with the combination of high temperatures and low precipitation expected in the decades ahead.

To date, it’s been relatively easy for American farmers to shrug off climate change. After all, under the most optimistic models, projected US yields for corn and soybeans — which are grown on 75% of the arable land in the Midwest — are actually expected to increase through 2050, thanks to warmer weather that will benefit the relatively cool northern climes. But after that, if Hatfield is right, yields will fall off a cliff, devastating farmers and leaving much of the world hungrier.

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion. As living standards and diets also improve around the world, food production will have to increase by 50% at a time when climate change will help make both sub-Saharan African and East Asia unable to meet their own needs without imports. Already US corn and soybeans account for 17% of the world’s caloric output. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization projects that American exports of corn must almost triple by 2050 to meet the shortfall, while US soy exports would have to rise by more than 50%. All this extra food has to be grown without using significantly more land. That means it’s going to be all about yield — the productivity of the crop.

And that is what has Hatfield so worried. A growing body of scientific literature suggests that climate change is likely to decimate yields unless we can find new ways to help plants cope with the droughts, vast temperature fluctuations, and other extreme weather that’s likely to become commonplace in the decades ahead.

“If something isn’t done, we will see major drops in production across large areas of the corn belt and Great Plains,” Hatfield says. “Either we’re going to change the crops that we produce or we’re going to have to think about how we genetically manipulate that plant to have a higher tolerance to higher temperature.”


What Trump's new ethanol rules mean for you

Trump has just been on a tour in Iowa in which he takes credit for loosening restrictions on the use of ethanol in gasoline.  The move will be of huge benefit to Iowa corn farmers so will undoubtedly shore up Trump's vote in the next election. And putting more ethanol in your tank will cost you slightly less than using pure gasoline. But you will also get less mileage out of a fill-up.

So who loses from the new rules? All Americans.  America should not be growing corn at all, other than for inclusion in dinners.  Import restrictions, tariffs, are the only thing keeping corn farming alive in America. Corn is the principal feedstock for making sugar in America. And sugar is the main feedstock for making ethanol.  And making sugar out of corn is absurd.  You can make it for half the price out of sugarcane -- which is a very widely distributed tropical crop.

Americans would have sugar at half the price if imports of it were allowed from Brazil, the Caribbean and many other places around the world. Ethanol would be REALLY cheap if you made it from Brazilian sugar or imported it directly from the very efficient Brazilian distilleries.

And there is no strategic argument for America to be self-sufficient in sugar production.  There are major supliers close by and all are well protected by  American military power. You can grow sugarcane in almost the whole of central and South America, rainfall permitting. Australia too is a major sugar from sugarcane producer.

It is a considerable irony that Trump is being a Greenie in all this.  He justifies his facilitating of domestic ethanol production as  the use of a "renewable" resource, which it certainly is.  You grow it. And Greenies never care about the cost of anything.

But there is no conceivable chance of anything changing.  No politician would risk alienating all those Iowa votes

At the end of May, the Trump administration announced it would allow for the year-round sale of gasoline with higher concentrations of ethanol.

That action addressed a rule the Environmental Protection Agency had in place preventing the sale of so-called E15 fuel, which contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, between June 1 and Sept. 15. The purpose was to prevent air pollution and curb dependence on foreign petroleum, but the ban has stopped some retailers from selling E15 at all because of the need to change out pumps.

One benefit is that gas prices could come down. As previously reported by FOX Business, E15 is typically priced about 5 to 10 cents cheaper than regular gasoline.

“Now in the summer months when consumers are driving more and oil companies usually jack up their prices,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw said in a statement to FOX Business, adding that the new statute will allow drivers to save money at the pump.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles by the EPA in 2012. The group says 90 percent of cars on the road are approved to run on E15.

Shaw previously noted that E15 has been in high demand where it is offered. E10, however, is still the default regular fuel sold across most of the country.

The move is also a boon to corn farmers, since corn is widely used to make ethanol domestically. Allowing for the year-round sale of E15 will give farmers more avenues to sell corn, which could bolster revenue especially when prices are low.


More than 500 species of plants have disappeared in the past 250 years potentially robbing us of sources for future drugs, new research reveals

Only 500?  I think it was a million last time I heard.  Nobody knows in reality. In 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.  But 500 extinctions is reasonable for the time period concerned.   On some estimates 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.  Extinctions are a regular natural occurrence. 

And no extinction has yet been shown to be important to humans. Most recently extinct species have closely related or similar extant species.  The banded trinity, for instance, has dozens of similar species in Asia and elsewhere

The shocking number of plant species that have gone extinct in the past 250 years have been revealed by a new study.

Experts found that 500 species - more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - are no longer found on Earth.

Around two species of plants go extinct every year - although the true figure is likely to be even higher as plants may be disappearing before they are even discovered, the researchers said.

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University analysed all plant extinction records worldwide to arrive at the figure.

One plant - the banded trinity - has not been seen since turning up in a field in Chicago in 1916.

Others include the Chile sandalwood, a tree that grew on the Juan Fernandez Islands between Chile and Easter island and was heavily exploited for its scent.

Another is the St Helena olive, first discovered in 1805 on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic.

One lone elderly tree survived until 1994 and two more were propagated from cuttings, but they succumbed to a termite attack and fungal infections in 2003.

The research brought together data from fieldwork, literature and herbarium specimens.

It showed how many plant species have gone extinct, what they are, where they have disappeared from and what lessons can be learned to stop future extinction.

The study found that 571 plant species have disappeared in the last two and a half centuries - four times more than the current listing of extinct plants.

The figure is also more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - a combined total of 217 species.

Dr Aelys M Humphreys, assistant professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University, said: ‘Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant.

‘This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from, and how quickly this is happening.

‘We hear a lot about the number of species facing extinction, but these figures are for plants that we’ve already lost, so provide an unprecedented window into plant extinction in modern times.’

The scientists found that plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than ‘natural’ background rates of extinction - the normal rate of loss in earth’s history before human intervention.

Islands, areas in the tropics and areas with a Mediterranean climate were found to have the highest rates of extinction.

The research suggested that the increase in plant extinction rates could be due to the same factors that are documented as threats to many surviving plants - change of land use resulting in the fragmentation and destruction of native vegetation, particularly range-restricted species.

Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, co-author and conservation scientist at Kew said: ‘Plants underpin all life on earth, they provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems - so plant extinction is bad news for all species.

‘This new understanding of plant extinction will help us predict (and try to prevent) future extinctions of plants, as well as other organisms.

‘Millions of other species depend on plants for their survival, humans included, so knowing which plants we are losing and from where will feed back into conservation programmes targeting other organisms as well.”

Commenting on the research, Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, said: ‘Plants underpin and provide key resources to entire ecosystems worldwide.

‘However, much of the effort to quantify the loss of species diversity worldwide has focused on charismatic species such as mammals and birds. Understanding how much, where, and how plant species are being lost is of paramount importance, not only for ecologists but also for human societies.

‘We depend on plants directly for food, shade and construction materials, and indirectly for ‘ecosystem services’ such as carbon fixation, oxygen creation, and even improvement in human mental health through enjoying green spaces.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution.


Depressed billionaires are good news

Martin Hutchinson below continues his Philippics against low interest rates.  Martin is an economic historian and by historical standards interest rates have been weirdly low for some years now.  Low interest rates in effect price the use of capital very cheaply and, as Martin says, that renders  acquisition of all real assets very easy.  So investors have it easy and profit accordingly.

An important question, however, is whether low interest rates also benefit the average Joe.  Everybody benefits from low interest rates so it should on theory be good for any borrower.  Even an average person can now afford a lot of borrowing to buy a house or whatever.

But the unmentionable person in the woodpile is the effect on asset prices of lots of keen borrowers in the market.  Asset prices are obviously bid up.  So low interest rates are not much benefit to you if the house you want to buy has had its purchase price inflated by the easy money environment.  What you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

It seems at the moment however that the easy money effect may have approached an asymptote.  A new price equilibrium may have been reached in the real estate market.  The party is certainly over for a while as far as real estate is concerned. House prices overshot the equilibrium level for a short while and may now be settling down to sustainable levels.  So what your house is worth should stay much the same for some time  -- barring unexpected shocks.

One shock would be the implementation of Martin's recommendations. If central banks did jack up interest rates to Martin's desired levels, there would be a huge rash of bankruptcies as people became unable to pay their mortgage interest bills -- with a concomitant huge slump in real estate values.  So anybody with a mortgage should be hoping that Martin is a voice crying unheard in the wilderness.

But I think he will remain unheard and unheeded. I suspect that he is overlooking something.  Administered interest rates need not closely reflect the market but they cannot easily be too far outside the market for too long.  And I suspect that the low interest rates of the last decade are in fact a market response to the abundance of capital poured out by first Obama's and now Trump's money creation binges. Capital has become cheaper because it is more abundant.  So while governments are "printing" lots of new money, interest rates should stay low.

But that gets us to the thorny question of how long can government continue to create new money without ill effects -- without galloping inflation in particular. We have seen recently the economic disaster that unbridled money issue brought about in Zimbabwe and Venezuela so the old economic laws can still be seen functioning.

And I think it is obvious where the money has gone in the U.S. and other similar economies -- such as Britain and Australia.  It has gone into real estate prices. Real estate prices have risen to soak up all the new money. Why the expanded  money supply  has not affected other prices much is a bit surprising but the way that people cut back on other expenditures in order to save up for a home probably explains that.

So where do we go from here?   There are a lot of people who wish they knew and I am one of them.  There are feeble efforts in the GOP to rein in government spending but with neither Trump or the Donks on side that unlikely event is not going to happen soon.  If I am right that real estate prices have stabilized, we may start to see cost pressures on other assets -- meaning that ALL other prices will start to rise sharply.  How long will Trump and Congress tolerate that?  For quite a while is my guess

“It’s a depressing environment” said billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller to MarketWatch, explaining that he is investing in Treasury bonds in the hope that short-term interest rates will descend to zero again. At first sight, that should be bad news for the rest of us. But when you examine the different financial universe in which billionaires live, you come to realize that Druckenmiller’s gloom may be a healthy sign – provided the Fed doesn’t follow his policy recommendations.

“What’s good for General Motors is good for America, and vice versa” famously said GM CEO “Engine Charlie” Wilson at his Secretary of Defense Senate hearing in 1953. That was undoubtedly true then. GM employed hundreds of thousands of people, its suppliers and distribution system employed millions, and Americans as a whole, in their jobs, their wealth and their consumption, benefited from the health of the great manufacturing companies of which GM was the epitome.

What was true for General Motors in the 1950s is much less obviously true for the major corporations of 2019, notably the FAANGS (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet/Google). For one thing, much of their business consists of manufacturing in emerging markets such as China. Thus if Apple’s sales zoom up, for example, it may merely mean the employment of another army of Chinese workers and a surge in profits parked in tax havens, with no obvious benefit for the U.S. economy at all.

If the interests of today’s large companies, especially in tech, are detached from those of the United States, the same is still more true of the billionaires who run those companies or invest in them. In particular, economic policies that benefit billionaires are mostly highly damaging to the interests of ordinary citizens and of the United States as a whole. Not only can billionaires benefit economically from policies that damage the interests of ordinary citizens, there is reason to believe that, at the present time, billionaire angst and gloom may lead to better times for the rest of us.

The principal policy that over the past two decades has benefited billionaires and damaged the rest of us is that of artificially low interest rates. Low interest rates benefit asset prices, of stocks, bonds and real estate, while artificially depressing the cost of borrowing. Billionaires obviously have more assets than the rest of us, not just as a truism, but also in the sense that a higher proportion of their income after expenses is derived from revenues from assets and fluctuations in asset prices, which are relatively unimportant for those mostly dependent on earned income and pensions derived therefrom.

Because of their wealth, billionaires also have access to more and cheaper leverage than the rest of us. This combination, of greater dependence on asset values and greater ability to borrow cheaply, gives them a double-whammy benefit from interminable periods of low interest rates. Their assets rise in price, increasing their wealth both in absolute terms and in relation to the rest of us more dependent on earned income. In addition, they can leverage at artificially cheap costs and thereby buy more assets.

The ability to take on cheap leverage has been especially valuable to two classes of billionaire: those investing in real estate and those engaged in money management through hedge funds and private equity funds. As a result, those sources of wealth have increased in importance in recent decades, overwhelming wealth from conventional businesses like oil and retailing, which dominated the “rich list” 30 years ago. However, real estate and money management billionaires are especially cut off from the rest of the economy; both can flourish while the economy as a whole stagnates.

For that reason, the Barack Obama years were an especially joyful period for such people and especially miserable for the rest of us. The economy stagnated, while interest rates were held artificially low for a decade. The additional refinement of “quantitative easing” and the policy of globalization made matters even easier for them; it produced new pools of money, from foreigners and financial institutions, which could be poured into real estate and market speculation, growing the billionaires’ asset pools still further.

It is now clear that artificially low interest rates damage the real economy, in which ordinary people work. They distort investment away from productive uses – productivity growth in all the countries with near-zero interest rates has been abysmal over the last decade. Only in the United States, where rates have been allowed to lift somewhat, has it recovered, though there has been no retrieval of the productivity growth lost forever in the stagnant Obama years. With asset prices artificially high, a crash, wiping out huge amounts of wealth, is utterly inevitable – Lord Liverpool foresaw and warned against this repeated cycle as far back as 1825. Everyone except billionaires is currently poorer for these policies; once the crash comes, even some of the billionaires will suffer as well.

There are a lot of forces tending to continue the billionaire bonanza. For example, the IMF earlier this year proposed a new dual currency structure, in which cash would be forcibly devalued against e-currency, stealing people’s savings, simply so that central banks could institute even more cuckoo policies of negative interest rates. It beggars belief that globalist bureaucrats, all careful and diligent readers of the Financial Times and the Economist, can come up with ideas as destructive as that, and then express surprise when a despised, tortured people vote for populists. It is incredible that they would impose all the costs of a second currency on the economy, deliberately discriminating against savings, so that some damn silly Keynesians can impose their leftist fantasy monetary policies on us. I would probably vote for Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan against those guys — at least one would enjoy the spectacle of a massacre of IMF economists while one’s savings were being looted.

Other policies favor billionaires at the expense of the rest of us. One is the charitable tax deduction. This allows billionaires to reduce their tax bills to infinitesimal proportions, which acquiring a spurious reputation as a generous donor – and getting all kinds of non-cash benefits in return. Since many of the charities themselves spend most of their resources lobbying for policies that damage the interests of the rest of us, their special privileges are doubly obnoxious.

Druckenmiller and President Trump, both billionaires, are united in one demand: they want lower interest rates as soon as possible. Their wish is entirely self-serving; lower rates will merely further prop up the prices of the assets that both men own, already hugely overpriced. Declines in the prices of high-end real estate in the major urban centers are already happening, ding the wealth of billionaires, and are thoroughly beneficial to those of us not owning high-end real estate. Someday, we may be able to afford to live in New York and San Francisco again (not that one would want to!) Declines in loss-making tech private equity investments, also beginning, will be good for the rest of us as resources are reallocated from these money pits into products that are genuinely useful and not bottomless chasms of endless operating loss, sucking resources from more beneficial innovation.

Declines in stock market prices may seem more equivocal, but you should remember that most middle-class people with stock market investments are continually saving for their retirements. A market decline thus increases the future returns on their investments, brings them a higher dividend yield and allows them to make new stock purchases at lower prices. A market that declines and then recovers, through the magic of dollar-cost averaging and higher dividend yields, will make a middle-class stock purchaser far wealthier than a market that stays overpriced throughout.

Because of those years’ extreme monetary policies, most of the billionaires of the last twenty years are creatures of the night, that will disappear amidst much shrieking and wailing if we can restore the economy’s genuine health. A sustained period of higher interest rates, wiping out all the excesses of the Obama period and before, is needed to achieve. Let us hope the Fed stops its ears to the low-interest rate sirens, from President Trump, Druckenmiller and all those whose wealth depends on the currently grossly distended economy. A 4% Federal Funds rate, extended over the next five years, will restore the health of the U.S. economy, to the point that what’s good for General Motors and its 2025 equivalent will genuinely be good for America.


YouTube vs free speech

Pro-homosexual voices have almost a monopoly on public comment so it is bordering on the totalitarian to shut down one of the few voices on the other side, which is what we see below.

And Crowder, the censored voice, actually said nothing about homosexuality in general at all.  He just referred to one person as "queer", which is only marginally "incorrect" these days. So the censorship has risen to a point of hysteria.

The fact that homosexuality was illegal until a few decades ago tells us that there is a large and diverse body of opinion out there on the subject. There are undoubtedly many people out there who still find it distasteful.

I personally think that homosexuality has been glorified in recent years and that glorifying it is just as obnoxious as making it illegal

What I would like to see is tolerance of different opinions on the subject -- but homosexuals and their allies hardly seem to know the meaning of tolerance.  They preach it on occasions but it is only their own view that they in fact tolerate, which is no tolerance at all

I would be happiest of all if I never heard about homosexuality  again but that is not allowed it seems

As it is, homosexuals have become the royalty of social media, whom none dare criticize.  It's a situation just waiting for President Trump to exploit to his advantage.  He's pretty critical of social media already

A spat between two rival YouTubers on opposing sides of the Culture Wars is not normally news. But the clash between right-wing commentator Steven Crowder and Vox video journalist Carlos Maza has hit the headlines, because it has led to a tightening of YouTube’s content policies, adding further restrictions to what can and cannot be posted on that platform.

Last week, Maza edited together some of Crowder’s videos in which he makes fun of Maza’s ethnicity, sexuality and voice. Crowder refers to Maza as a ‘lispy queer from Vox’, a ‘gay Mexican’ and ‘Mr Gay Vox’. There’s no doubt that Crowder is obnoxious, bigoted and infantile. However, being insulted by your political opponents is par for the course in public life and should not be grounds for having them censored. Initially, YouTube appeared to recognise this.

When Maza tweeted the video as part of a Twitter thread, it went viral. YouTube responded by saying it had reviewed the videos in question and determined that ‘individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines’. In a tweet, it stated: ‘Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.’

With this refusal to censor Crowder’s videos, YouTube found itself accused of inaction and of enabling hatred towards gay people and ethnic minorities. Maza tweeted to his followers: ‘You have to raise hell. Use their platform against them. Hold them accountable for their neglect.’ And raise hell they did.

The next day, under considerable pressure from Twitter and the liberal press, YouTube reversed its stance. It demonetised Crowder’s channel – preventing the raising of money through advertising – and removed some of his older videos. But despite his successful scalp, Maza, a long-time proponent of censorship and de-platforming, was not satisfied. ‘Crowder’s revenue stream isn’t from YouTube ads. It’s from selling merch and “Socialism Is For Fags” shirts to millions of loyal customers, that YouTube continues to drive to his channel’, he tweeted. Only Crowder’s total expulsion from the internet or the removal of his means of making money would be enough to satisfy the new self-appointed censors.

In order to justify its volte face, YouTube pushed out a new hate-speech policy. Given the speed of its u-turn, the policy was presumably cobbled together on the hoof. In a blog post announcing the changes, YouTube vowed to tackle ‘extremist content’ and to remove any video which promotes or seeks to justify ‘discrimination, segregation or exclusion’.

As is to be expected with such a wide-ranging definition of ‘hate’, obnoxious shock jocks like Crowder were not the only ones caught up in it. For instance, Ford Fischer who runs the news channel News2Share, received an email from YouTube telling him that his channel had been demonetised under the new rules. He started his channel in 2014, uploading raw footage of the Black Lives Matter movement. But his channel was demonetised and his revenue was cut for hosting footage of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. Fischer told Newsweek that he had no intention of promoting the alt-right: ‘The work is meant as raw footage, so people can critique and analyse the tactics and things being said.’

Another account to be terminated was that of the award-winning history teacher, Scott Allsopp. Allsopp’s channel violated the new rules because his GCSE tutorials on the Second World War featured clips of Adolf Hitler’s speeches and other Nazi propaganda. YouTube has since reinstated Allsopp’s channel, but its initial action shows that in future it is likely to censor first and ask questions later.

YouTube’s response to the spat between Crowder and Maza illustrates how chaotic and opaque internet censorship has become. New, wide-ranging content rules are being devised and implemented at the behest of journalists and the Twittermob. The consequences can be far-reaching, with many innocent users being silenced. If Silicon Valley continues down this censorious path, the free, open internet will soon be a distant memory.