The latest synod of our modern church of climate change theologians, otherwise known as COP27, concluded its deliberations in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with a “breakthrough” agreement over the “loss and damage” provisions of the global governance regime they have established to tackle climate change.
Before they left their air-conditioned hotels and hopped into limousines to take them to their jets for the long journey home, these courageous fighters for carbon neutrality agreed to create a fund on the principle that rich countries like the U.S. should compensate poor countries for the damage caused by climate change. Successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, long opposed this idea, justifiably fearing that it represents an open-ended scheme to funnel American taxpayers’ money to beacons of planet-saving good governance like South Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia.
In his brilliant dissection of the climate extremists’ case in his book, “Unsettled,” Steven Koonin, who served as undersecretary for science in President Obama’s Energy Department, notes that climate-related deaths have plummeted in the era of global warming. Citing data from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, he notes that “weather-related death rates fell dramatically during the past one hundred years” and are “about 80 times less frequent today than they were a century ago.”
Why? Almost entirely thanks to improvements in infrastructure and mitigation enabled by rapid industrialization.
Above all, the idea that the least developed countries in the world have received only the cost of industrialization and not the many benefits is ahistorical. The sophists at the United Nations insist that the new fund is a model of “climate justice,” but it sounds an awful lot like a vehicle for the “reparations” climate extremists have long demanded from the countries that were first to industrialize for supposedly having inflicted their environmental costs on the world.
If we in the West are to pay damages for the Industrial Revolution, shouldn’t we also consider the extraordinary wealth that process has helped spread around the world?
But Commerce bureaucrats have repeatedly disrupted high-tech industries by rotely applying formulas from protectionist laws (such as the antidumping statutes) Congress passed. In 1986, Commerce fabricated unfair trade charges against Japanese semiconductor exports. Those charges were used to browbeat Japan into signing a pact seeking to restrict world-wide semiconductor trade, a shady deal that was extended in 1991. That agreement politically impaled one of America’s most competitive industries. The Commerce Department decreed that imported semiconductor prices must rise by 200 percent, at a time when domestic semiconductor producers could not satisfy domestic demand. That deal destroyed more than 10,000 jobs in companies using chips, according to the Center for the Study of American Business. In 1991, Commerce rubber stamped punitive taxes on the import of computer flat panel displays that devastated American computer makers. But as long as the trade restrictions made a few domestic companies happy, politicians reaped windfall profit in campaign contributions.
Notice also that no one advocates a “windfall losses” subsidy for fossil fuel producers when “profits” (or prices)are low due to market conditions. (The common argument that fossil fuel producers receive large subsidies is a lot of hooey, in particular in contrast with unconventional energy.) The threat of “windfall profits” taxes combined with the absence of proposals for “windfall losses” subsidies means that expectationally there is a reduction in upside price potential for the fossil fuel producers, but no corresponding reduction in downside price risks. In other words, the entire statistical distribution of expected net prices — returns to investment — shifts downward.
It is shocking how many journalists viscously attack free speech, but somehow think they’re the good guys!
One of the understudied causes of the mass hysteria which broke out in 2020 is the deification of mathematical models. We were promised certain doom by Neil Ferguson from the Imperial College London and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Politicians and media outlets took every graph they created as if it were directly from the Oracle of Delphi. They were prophetic utterances! “Thus saith The Experts, The Science’s wrath is upon, let us distance and muzzle ourselves in penance!”
I’ve already written here on how I perceived Covid hysteria as a quasi-religious phenomenon. I would like to further suggest however that our increasingly secularized society has unintentionally recreated religious roles such as seers and prophets under the newer titles of “experts” and “academics.” Quite frankly this phenomenon isn’t particularly new; the minor hysterias of overpopulation and global cooling of the past were equally caused by over-certain academics with mathematical models. Since these creators of models are increasingly acting like prophets, let us remember how prophets are to be tested.