Over the Top Climate Warriors Start to Acknowledge Adaptation

David Wallace-Wells writes Adapt or die. That is the stark challenge to living in the new world we have made. Is this more climate change hyperbole?

We need to decarbonise and fast.

People keep saying this, but then fail to follow through with any concrete plan for doing so. Without fossil fuels, there would be massive starvation and deaths due to exposure to heat and cold. What’s the plan?

But ‘adaptation’, the ways in which we protect people from the crisis, is not a dirty word.

Anyone who opposes adapting to climate change on the grounds that it somehow makes it harder to move away from fossil fuels is an idiot.

It won’t be enough. It can’t be. From here, even an astonishing pace of decarbonisation will still deliver us a warmer world than we have today, full of more eye-opening extremes and more deeply disruptive disasters of the kind, we are learning this summer, that even the wealthiest and most climate-conscious countries are unprepared for. No one is.

As I’ve said before, Vancouver is doing a good job preparing for increased sea levels. As for heat, I discussed the minimal cost ($300) of a window air conditioner and the more expensive option ($5000) of installing central air conditioning. Installing an air conditioner in a window so that you have at least one cool place in your home when it’s hot is an expense that almost anyone can afford. See Is Our Heatwave a Sign of the End Times?

That is what Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, meant when he wrote, with the capital inundated, that the city was now on the frontline of the climate emergency and it is the central lesson of the Met Office’s annual report on the state of the UK climate, which found that mild British weather was already a relic of a bygone era.

Rivers flood. It’s important that you check the flood danger before buying a house. In my case, I live on a 100 year flood plane. Our city has rivers on three sides. When both the river to the west and the one to the east flood, most of the city will flood. While it’s true that global warming may make these catastrophic floods more common, one should be responsible when choosing a home. There are some nice new homes in my city built on about 10 meters of fill on land near the river’s edge. These are probably best avoided.

The Climate Crisis Advisory Group, led by Sir David King, recently declared that greenhouse gas levels were already so high that they foreclosed a “manageable future for humanity”. “Nowhere is safe,” King said, provoking a host of headlines.

Humans can manage to live in deserts, jungles and the arctic. What does King mean by manageable? “Nowhere is safe” has always been true. It may be the case that many places are less safe from flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and the like than they once were, but these dangers are not new. Sounds like King is an alarmist.

The headlines are right, of course, but in their appeals to the local narcissism of climate panic, they also elide the gaping differences in the capacities of the countries of the world to respond to what is coming. Which is why perhaps the most harrowing of this summer’s extreme weather events, even more than the model-breaking Pacific heat dome, was the devastating flooding in Henan province, China, where rapid recent infrastructure expansion has inspired bitter envy across the western world.

The headlines are not ‘right’, they are hyperbolic. No one I know envies China their infrastructure expansion, which has come at the cost of terrible pollution, not to mention being fuelled by coal fired power, which, under the Paris Accord, the Chinese are under no obligation to curtail.

All these disasters are less punishing and destructive than they might have been several generations ago, but they show that, for all the progress made, even the world’s vanguard infrastructure – the built kind, the natural kind and the human kind – is failing the test of even today’s climate, which is the mildest and most benign we will ever see again.

I highly doubt that the new Chinese infrastructure is the “world’s vanguard”. Our province’s infrastructure is most taxed by wildfires, which do seem to be on the increase. Because BC is a vast, sparsely populated province, getting enough equipment and fire fighters where they are needed has always been a challenge.

Already, the planet is hotter – at just 1.2C or 1.3C of warming on preindustrial levels – than it has ever been in the long stretch of human civilisation. As a species, everything we have ever known – our histories, our agriculture, our cultures, our politics, our geopolitics – is the result of climate conditions that we have already left behind. It is as if we have landed on a different planet, with a different climate, and are now trying to determine what aspects of the civilisations we’ve brought with us can survive and what will have to be reshaped or discarded.

Humanity survived the ice ages, which make today’s extreme weather look like a walk in the park, and did so with little more than stone tools. In all likelihood, there will be another ice age in the future. The challenge with the current changes is not their magnitude, but the speed at which they’re happening. The preindustrial world was already warming, but at a slower rate. The faster the climate changes, the more difficult it is to adapt.

The word for this in the climate vernacular is “adaptation” and it has been, for a few decades, a dirty one, seen as an alternative to rapid decarbonisation rather than its necessary, humanitarian partner.

Only to idiots.

The project to protect the people of the world from the impacts of even a more stable climate may prove larger, in the end, than the project of stabilising it, which has so preoccupied us for decades.

The climate cannot be stabilized. We can do our best to make our own influence on it as minimal as reasonable. The move away from fossil fuels is a massive endeavour, and one that has a huge risk of killing more people than climate change itself if done wrong. Even at the rate our climate is now changing, adaptation will a much more gradual, piecemeal process than the move away from fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, to this point, while mortality from natural disaster has fallen dramatically over the past 100 years, the returns on engineered adaptations to climate impacts, in particular, have been maddeningly spotty. Advocates point to awe-inspiring flood-management systems in the Netherlands, but the $14bn levees built in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 don’t protect against category-five hurricanes today. The challenges will grow, in some cases exponentially, but the blueprint of adaptation is there for all to see, a photo-negative of all of the impacts that scientists have told us to expect even within the next few decades: heat stress and sea-level rise, wildfires and river flooding, agricultural decline, economic stagnation, migration crises, conflict and state collapse.

Immediately abandoning fossil fuels would lead to far worse agricultural decline, economic collapse, and all the same societal problems. Adapting to climate change will be hard, but it is as essential as developing alternatives to fossil fuels.

In a certain way, a response to sea-level rise is the easiest to envisage. Its most dramatic impacts arrive slowly, over centuries, giving generations time to adjust. However, the adjustment will have to be very large indeed. Perhaps half the world’s coastline will have to be eventually abandoned, the other half protected by defensive infrastructure of a scale straight out of Cyberpunk, although “natural” responses such as restored wetlands and mangrove forests can also play a role. Such places as Bangladesh or Myanmar, barring meaningful climate reparations, will probably focus on flood-alarm systems, concrete bunkers and a goal of “managed retreat”.

According to National Oceanographic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predictions from 2017, the global sea level is very likely to rise by 0.3–0.6 feet (9–18 cm) by 2030, 0.5–1.2 feet (15–38 cm) by 2050, and 1.0–4.3 feet (30–130 cm) by 2100.

Declines in deaths during heatwaves in parts of Europe have shown that there are some possible responses to that problem. They include more widespread air- conditioning and public cooling centres; better public communication and water-drinking campaigns; and reworking the elements of urban infrastructure, such as asphalt and black roofs, which amplify dangerous temperatures.

As I said, people should have at least a window air conditioner available in the heat. Obviously, they should drink plenty of water. Banning asphalt pavement and asphalt roofing is not a good solution. Black top is much cheaper than concrete, and asphalt roofs are far superior to tar and gravel. Other methods of roofing are not appropriate for flat roofs.

Whether these measures will work as well in much poorer parts of the world, once extreme heat is daily rather than seasonal, remains to be seen. Farmlands can’t be moved all that much, but crops can be genetically edited to thrive in the new world, with aversions to GM foods becoming either a residue of an earlier era of relative abundance or a luxury of the affluent or both.

The crops grown will have to be changed in some cases. In the north, land that once had too short a growing season for most crops will likely become productive farmland. Genetic modification will doubtless play a part, as will lab grown protein and hydroponics.

In theory, the fossil-fuel business could be functionally replaced by negative-emissions plantations, both industrial and “natural”, undoing the whole work of industrialisation by recapturing carbon from the sky. But this is not work that can be done out of sight or out of mind. Planting forests at a scale large enough to meaningfully alter the planet’s carbon trajectory, for instance, could raise food prices by 80%.

Which would cause more people to starve than would have died from global warming.

Reforestation might require, according to one recent review, a land area between five and 15 times the size of Texas. Even in the most optimistic scenario, billions of tons of carbon would have to be removed from the air every year and stored somewhere – and less optimistic scenarios will require even more.

Reforestation is worthwhile, but I don’t expect it to solve global warming. Climate engineering is another approach that could reverse the warming we’ve caused, but it’s risky.

These measures aren’t trivial and they aren’t a way to avoid hard choices. They are a last-resort attempt to square the punishing climate we are making with one that we may feel comfortable living in. This is the face of the new world. Or it will be, if we’re lucky, committing ourselves as much to world-building as world-saving.

It’s good to see the media finally coming around to the reality that we can’t just stop using fossil fuels overnight, and that we need to prepare for some amount of global warming. Our efforts to stop burning coal and natural gas could easily be accelerated by building clean nuclear power plants. Whenever an environmentalist advocates eliminating fossil fuels, this should be brought up.

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Review of “Wildcat”

* D

Wildcat is the story of the capture and torture of a woman who claims to be a reporter and a US marine who was escorting her in Iran by a terrorist bomber. The entire film takes place in two one room sets, and consists nearly entirely of dialog. The writing is solid, and the characters, especially the bomber, Abu Kahlid, played by Mido Hamada, and the woman, Khadija, played by Georgina Campbell, are believable.

I liked the fact that Khadija, while unswerving in her goal of not only surviving, but exposing her captors to the Americans, is simultaneously vulnerable and self doubting. She is a rare well written intelligent character. Kahlid is a very well rounded villain, likeable, understandable, and yet still evil.

A little higher budget and more action could have made this a good film. The initial capture of Khadija and her compatriot, Luke, is not shown. I wont spoil the ending, but it takes place in the second of the two rooms the entire film is shot in. All said, this could have made an excellent hour long episode of Homeland, but it didn’t work as a two hour film for me.

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Charity is not Shameful, the Welfare State Is

Frances Ryan, writing in the Guardian, can’t understand why Millions of destitute Britons rely on charity handouts, yet ministers feel no shame. Why should politician’s be ashamed? Presumably Ryan believes they caused those millions to fall into poverty.

A decade ago, the emergence of mass food banks in the UK could genuinely be described as shocking. The image of families queueing in their local church for a box filled with pasta and beans has not only since been normalised, it has spread.

As have poverty an homelessness in America and Canada.

This does not simply mean the number of food banks has grown in recent years – there are now more than 1,300 such places in the Trussell Trust’s network, compared to fewer than 100 in 2010, as well as hundreds more independent ones– but also that these have opened the door for other types of donation centres, each set up by community groups and charities in response to growing need.

Good for them. Charity is a noble thing.

The pandemic has, all too predictably, made things worse. Almost one in eight adults in the UK have received support from a charity since the coronavirus crisis began in March 2020, according to the Covid-19 Support Fund; more than half of them had never expected to need such help before. Demand for food aid has hit an unprecedented high, with the Trussell Trust handing out 2.5m parcels during the pandemic’s first year. Meanwhile, the Hygiene Bank – a network that provides toiletries for people who can’t afford them – reports it has distributed over 400 tonnesof products over the last 12 months, up 155% from the previous year.

Since the government chose to shut industry down, I agree that in this case, they are directly responsible for some of the economic suffering. I don’t think it’s fair to blame them for the pandemic, though, and slowing its spread was essential to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

While Britain’s richest 10% increased their wealth by an average of £50,000 during the pandemic, the poorest struggled to afford deodorant. The Hygiene Bank says that, over the past 12 months, due to a lack of money or resources, people have used washing-up liquid to wash clothes; brushed their teeth without toothpaste; and stayed at home because they didn’t have any period products. Some even removed the contents of a nappy so that it could be reused. The modern term for this is “hygiene poverty” but really, it should just be called obscene.

I was lucky to be able to move to working from home during the pandemic. Should I feel guilty for this? I agree that poverty is horrible, and it is horrible that the pandemic led to more of it.

The increasing use of charity to address this not only normalises the idea that large numbers of people are destitute in one of the richest economies on Earth – it shores up the idea that government has no responsibility for it. It is Victorian-style politics repackaged for the 21st century, in which those on the bottom rung of society are deemed worthy of scraps of charity but not entitlement from the state. Forget contracts for private firms, this is the new outsourcing – where ministers fail struggling families and then hand them over to the local food bank.

Government should not be responsible for the people. They are responsible for administering the commons. People have agency. When the government works against the interests of the people, they should be thrown out. The welfare state and universal health care are enormously expensive programs that redistribute wealth very ineffectively. Charity is a much more efficient way. If I donate to a local charity, most of the money will go to something that will actually help people. Most of every dollar that goes to the government will be wasted on the cost of the bureaucracy and the vast number of wasteful programs they fund.

This is not only wildly inefficient – piecemeal charity can never replicate a social safety net – it is also dehumanising. Poverty has long brought shame to those who endure it, and few things could feel more shameful than being forced to ask for donated soap in order to be clean.

Government is wildly inefficient. While charity forces people to ask for help, the faceless welfare state has bred institutional multi-generational poverty. Which is more shameful?

The end of government coronavirus support in September is only going to bring this into sharper focus. Furlough ending, as well as the £20 uplift to universal credit being pulled, on top of cuts to funds to help tenants facing homelessness, will create a perfect storm in which large swathes of the population risk being plunged into insecurity. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found the £20-a-week cut to universal credit alone will leave out-of-work families with children barely half the income needed to achieve a socially acceptable basic standard of living, while those with a job who rely on benefits as a top-up to poverty wages will fare little better.

The government cannot print money indefinitely. Keeping these programs running will mean cutting elsewhere, increasing taxes, or devaluing the currency, which hurts the poor. A strategy to make sure pandemic supports are removed gradually would be sensible, but this is the government we’re talking about.

The Conservative response to these challenges is now so familiar it verges on cliche. Just look at Tory MP Andrew Rosindell who defended the benefit cut on the grounds there are some people “that quite like getting the extra £20” but “maybe” don’t really need it. And yet sooner or later, there is going to have to be a push to do better, not least because middle-class people are now also queueing in food banks.

Well, he’s probably right that there are some receiving benefits who don’t need them. It’s always hard to remove a benefit.

If Covid has shone a light on the ills of 10 years of Tory rule, it has also highlighted that only sweeping reforms will change it. The gap between reality and Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” rhetoric could hardly be starker. It is only concrete action that can lead us down a different path: on housing, disability, insecurity at work, and the gaping holes in our welfare state. A government that leaves millions of the public unable to even eat or wash has, by any definition, failed. Poverty is indeed a mark of shame – but one solely on ministers’ shoulders.

Welfare states are doomed to failure. Communism, the ultimate welfare state, has failed miserably. Charity is a much better way to help people. Those who volunteer with charities honestly care about the people they are helping, unlike the mindless faceless bureaucrats who run the welfare state. The UK Conservatives are trying to wrest Britain away from the clutches of just such a faceless unaccountable bureaucracy, the European Union. You may not agree with their strategy, but they are trying to change the status quo.

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UK Labour Party Seeks to Exploit Climate Change for Votes

Ed Miliband of the UK Labour party opines in the Guardian that Our biggest enemy is no longer climate denial but climate delay. Is this mere partisan political hackery, or does he have something to say.

Future generations will look back on the climate events of 2021 and say: “That was the year they ran out of excuses.”

Politicians never seem to run out of excuses.

Heatwaves and flooding here in the UK, temperatures topping 50C in Pakistan, hundreds killed by a heatwave in British Columbia, deadly floods in Germany and China. All within a single month. Add to that the recent dire warning from the Met Office that the age of extreme weather has just begun.

See my post Is Our Heatwave a Sign of the End Times?

The wake-up call that this offers is not just the obvious one: that climate breakdown is already here. It also illustrates that we, in this generation, are in a unique position in the history of this crisis. Climate breakdown can no longer be plausibly denied as a threat etched only in the future. And all too soon, avoiding it may be a luxury lost to the past. The window to avoid catastrophe is closing with every passing day. We’re in the decisive decade in this fight, and we must treat the climate crisis as an issue that stands alone in the combination of its urgency and the shadow it casts over future generations.

Miliband falls into the sad trend of ever escalating rhetoric. First, it was the greenhouse effect, then global warming, climate change, climate crisis, global heating, climate emergency, and now climate breakdown. I wouldn’t call the extreme weather we’re seeing a breakdown, in the sense hitting a tipping point that caused the polar ice caps to melt would be. It is evidence of climate change, and has led to short term emergencies, but I would not call it a crisis either. To call it one and insist on the urgency of the issue, when we are dealing with truly urgent issues in the coronavirus and the economic fallout of the epidemic is to risk triggering apathy in people who are tired of being told what to do by politicians.

The actions we take defy the normal rhythm of political cycles. What we do in the next few years will have effects for hundreds of years to come. Unless the world cuts emissions in half in this decade, we will probably lose the chance to avoid warming of significantly more than the 1.5C set out in the 2015 Paris accord. We have seen the catastrophic effects of a world warmed by just 1.2C. What happens if we get to 2.5 or 3C? By then, we’ll look back at recent summers as not the hottest we’ve ever had but, in all likelihood, the coolest we will ever have again.

I don’t disagree that what we’re doing will alter the climate, though it’s likely to be a meaningless change in geological terms. Doing what we can to make that impact as small as possible makes sense. Politicians, like most people, are terrible at balancing long term costs with short term costs.

In software development, we have the concept of “technical debt”. If you put off work on maintainability, test automation, and scaleability for too long, while you continually implement features that bring in short term revenue, your code base becomes increasingly expensive to modify, and often, a competitor will come along who is able to deliver more quickly than you. The only way to deal with this is to spend time doing the work you know is important but not urgent, before it becomes a problem that’s too big to deal with.

The accompanying truth is that our biggest enemy is no longer climate denial but climate delay. The most dangerous opponents of change are no longer the shrinking minority who deny the need for action, but the supposed supporters of change who refuse to act at the pace the science demands. As Bill McKibben, environmentalist and climate scholar, says on climate: “Winning slowly is the same as losing.”

Climate delay is climate denial. You judge people by their actions, not their talk. If you really want to meet the goals of the Paris accord, all countries need to do their part. There will be things that we have to make slow, steady progress on, like replacing coal and gas fired electrical generation with hydro, nuclear, or solar/wind with storage. There will be things that seem to go nowhere, like electric vehicles, but then will hopefully reach a tipping point when their cost is reduced enough and the new infrastructure they require is common enough, and will rapidly replace the status quo.

The UK government is a case in point. There is a chasm between the boosterish rhetoric of the Johnson government and the reality. We are way off meeting our climate targets, which are themselves insufficiently ambitious, graded “somewhere below” four out of 10 for delivery by the Climate Change Committee. Nothing is more dangerous than the mirage of action shrouding the truth of inaction, because it breeds either false confidence that we will be OK or cynicism and despair about meaningless political promises.

I’m always cynical of government.

But why are they failing? Above all, because of a dogged refusal to put government investment at scale behind a green recovery. The more government refuses to provide that proper plan and finance, the harder the decisions on boilers, cars and industrial transition become. A government that absents its responsibility for making these transitions is a government that will fail to make them happen.

Before you invest, you need to have a plan that will work. I’ve yet to see one. Carbon taxes are not a strategy.

This is not simply failing to protect us from the biggest long-term threat we face; it’s economically illiterate too.

A government that admits it is unable to predict the economic outcomes is better than one that thinks it’s ‘economically literate’ but isn’t.

The case for investing now is not just clear as a question of intergenerational equity, it’s also the only conclusion to draw from a hard-headed fiscal analysis of the costs and benefits. The Office for Budget Responsibility tells us that the costs of acting early are surprisingly small relative to our national income – in the central scenario, an average annual investment in net terms of just 0.4% of GDP between now and 2050.

Investing in what? Nuclear, hydro, or solar/wind power? Rapid transit? State run charging infrastructure for electric vehicles? Or are you talking about giving money that you take from the citizens to incentivize them to manufacture electric vehicles, retrofit old buildings, and the like?

Meanwhile, we know that inaction is entirely unaffordable, leaving massive costs of climate damage racked up and left for future generations. The OBR also tells us that delay will significantly raise the cost of action, in part because we are baking high carbon into our infrastructure. We will have to make the transition at some point; failing to act now will betray our children and grandchildren and will just end up costing more.

We are making the transition now. It will take time. Government spending may be able to help speed it up, but it can also increase the tax burden on the poor. I don’t trust government to spend my money wisely.

We should act now not just because we must avoid future generations living in a disaster movie but because rewriting the script can produce a better world. Rapid decarbonisation is the imperative, but we can do so in a way that fixes the inequalities that exist in our current economic system. This is the promise of the Green New Deal – that this transformative programme of investment can also generate good jobs, help existing industries transition and create new ones, ensure warmer homes, cleaner air, and a lasting shift in wealth and power across our country. This is the vision we must fight for.

Of the five objectives of the UK’s “Green New Deal”:

  • Decarbonise the UK
  • Create secure jobs
  • Transform the economy so that government is accountable to people, not corporations
  • Protect and restore vital habitats and carbon sinks
  • Promote global justice

only two are directly related to climate change: decarbonization and protecting and restoring carbon sinks. Creating secure jobs, transforming the economy, and promoting global justice are all Labour party platforms. The referenced website has no concrete proposals for how any of these will be achieved. This seems like a political promotion of the Labour party, not a serious plan.

Particularly, in this year of all years, what we do here at home has real impacts around the world. If other governments believe that a country that has led the way on climate is full of hot air, it simply undermines trust and lets the big polluters off the hook. In the less than 100 days left to COP26, the prime minister must finally wake up to the fact that this is not a glorified international photo opportunity but a complex and fragile negotiation where he must deliver at home and engage in the hard yards of diplomacy.

Johnson was elected because working people in Britain were fed up with the unelected dictates of the European Union. Neither his traditional Conservative base nor his new found supporters in the working class industrial north are going to applaud him making further commitments that will hurt British business.

Just over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King said of the fight for racial and economic justice: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In the unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” As the generation that stands astride the causes and consequences of this climate emergency, we must take heed of those words.

If you want to make real change, you need to stop hyping up your rhetoric, make simple tactical plans, rather than invoking the need for ‘global justice’ and reforming the financial system, and stop advocating government taxation and spending as ‘solutions’. Based on the UK Green New Deal, it looks like the UK Labour party is using the ‘climate breakdown’ as a fear tactic to gain votes for their agenda. This makes it hard to believe that they truly believe that climate change is a crisis.

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Review of “Black Widow” (some spoilers)

* * C

Black Widow is another Marvel movie that, like Black Panther, was almost good, but had a terrible “messy spectacle” ending. Scarlett Johansson was solid in the title roll, and Florence Pugh was a stand out as Yolena, another black widow assassin. David “Hopper” Harbour’s performance as the Red Guardian, a Russian super soldier, was hindered by bad writing and editing.

The beginning of the film starts out, like Black Panther did, as a somewhat gritty spy thriller. While fun, it has a couple of head scratchingly odd choices. First, the fight between Black widow and Yolena comes out of nowhere, and ends just as suddenly. Second, having Taskmaster, the top agent of a super secret assassination organization, show up in a tank was just dumb.

I had few problems with the second act, though its pacing was very uneven, starting out with a prison break, but ending up in a slow conversation heavy “family reunion”.

Where the film really struggled was in the third act. First, I found Black Widow’s and especially Yolena’s forgiveness of what Melina (Rachel Wiess) did to them unbelievable. Melina inexplicably decides to destroy her life’s work. The film devolves into a CG extravaganza as Black Widow confronts Melina’s two dimensional partner in crime, Drakov in his secret flying base. You thought the Shield flying aircraft carriers were dumb? Hold my beer! Shit gets blowed up, Drakov’s henchman Taskmaster, who turned out to be his daughter, is redeemed, and Black Widow buggers off to get killed in End Game.

I went into this with very low expectations due to the terrible marketing done by Johansson and director Cate Shortland. They were met.

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Individualism is not Extremist, Nationalism is not Racist

Writing in the Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty claims that After Covid, the climate crisis will be the next thing the right says we ‘just have to live with’. He then goes on to attack individualism, something valued by leftist anarchists and centrist libertarians as much or more that it is by the ‘right’.

Soon, a few of the more shameless newspaper commentators will urge the rest of us to “learn to live” with climate breakdown. Soon, a couple of especially sharp-elbowed cabinet ministers will sigh to the Spectator that, yes, carbon emissions should ideally be slashed – but we must make a trade-off between “lives and livelihoods”. Soon, a little platoon of Tory backbenchers will respond to TV pictures of another devastating flash flood or deadly heatwave by complaining about “fearmongering”. “Why is the BBC so doomy?” they’ll ask, as the death toll rises.

Governments are investing in adaptation to climate change. Some level of “learning to live” with climate change is essential, as the CO2 we’ve already emitted and the minimal amount we will continue to emit, assuming we don’t want to trigger a collapse, will lead to some warming. Claiming that every example of severe weather is due to climate change is fearmongering. Like most things, extreme weather has are many causes. For example, for years the media claimed that climate change was causing hurricanes to worsen, when the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found no significant evidence. Even now, the latest study by the NOAA only shows a tiny correlation between climate change and the number and severity of hurricanes.

Soon, shockingly soon, the cheap shots, the brazen stat-bending and the coprophagic cynicism that have warped British discourse since March 2020 will migrate from Covid to an even bigger and more lethal crisis: the climate emergency. And just as they have helped shape the self-inflicted catastrophe that England has embarked upon this week, so they will work their terrible influence on that one.

That a journalist would have the balls to talk about stat-bending, given the example I just gave, is brazen. The so called ‘climate emergency’ is not a lethal crisis. As I showed in Communism Won’t Solve the Problems of Global Warming, in Canada, 9 times as many people currently die due to cold weather than to hot, so for us, global warming will likely lead to fewer climate related deaths.

Scientists and politicians the world over have noted the strong similarities between coronavirus and climate breakdown. In papers and speeches, they have drawn lessons about some of the best ways to handle both: go early, go big, and don’t pretend you can strike some special deal with a lethal force. The UK’s week-long delay in locking down in March 2020 led to about 20,000 deaths, estimates Neil Ferguson.

All the measures taken against the coronavirus were merely to attempt to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. The only things that could change the number of deaths in the long term were treatments and vaccines. While the lockdowns may have bought slightly more time for those to be developed, don’t pretend that they didn’t come at a cost to liberty, people’s livelihoods, and our mental health.

Every year wasted in reducing carbon emissions pushes us further into extreme weather, environmental destruction and the loss of human and animal lives. These lessons appeared to have been fully imbibed by Boris Johnson and his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, when they vowed last March to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the pandemic.

Climate change can’t be prevented by a vaccine. Reducing carbon emissions is difficult, and doing it wrong could do tremendous damage, just as a bad vaccine could.

Goodbye to all that. Starting this week, our prime minister is no longer even pretending to keep down infections in England; instead, he is allowing more people to catch the disease, hospitals to drown amid case numbers, and thousands more Britons to die. That scenario isn’t drawn from the government’s critics: it is the one publicly accepted by Whitehall. It is less a policy than a white flag.

BC is also lifting restrictions. While cases are rising, the provincial health officer has wisely called attention to the fact that a very low percentage of them are in the fully vaccinated. Why should those who have taken the trouble to get the vaccine or are willing to risk going without be locked down? To suggest that this is a white flag policy is shameful.

The UK was the first country to start vaccinations. Is the Oxford vaccine that poor at preventing Covid-19? While our cases are up, our hospitals are nowhere near as full as they were early in the year. Cases among the vaccinated are typically mild and don’t require hospitalization.

Even as global health experts unite in condemning the UK as a “threat to the world”, Johnson merely shrugs and asks: “If not now, when?” It is an artless, shortsighted phrase that will come back to haunt him, that will be flung in his face at future press conferences and resurface whenever that public inquiry finally begins.

He’s right though. You cannot keep hurting people forever by keeping business shuttered. At some point, the ‘cure’ of lockdowns is worse than the disease.

As ever with anything involving this prime minister, the fatal farce of “freedom day” will be refracted through a thousand talk-radio discussions about Johnson’s fitness to govern. But the Tory leader is surfing a wave far bigger than himself. Riding forces larger than himself is what Johnson has done throughout his career, and it is what makes him such an effective political campaigner. It is also what should make us worry about the terrain on which future political battles will be fought.

And the people who just wanted to be able to see friends and families again will remember that Johnson was mocked for letting them do so.

What he has correctly identified is a growing extremist individualism. It is an ideology that claims to be about freedom when really it means selfishness; and it sees any curtailment of its liberties, no matter how justified or temporary, as Stalin sending in the tanks.

Individualism is now extremist? Give me a break. Curtailing the right to assembly and free association is authoritarian. You may not have sent in tanks, but I’ve seen videos from Ireland and Australia where men with guns came, kicked in doors, and took away citizens for the crime of being in their own homes. Disgusting!

Last weekend, the chair of the Tory 1922 backbench committee, Graham Brady, claimed that face masks were really about social control. Railing at voters for meekly accepting a measure designed to reduce the spread of infection, he accused them of suffering from Stockholm syndrome. “The line between coercion and care becomes blurred, the hostage starts to see the man with the AK-47 who holds him in a cell not as a jailer but as a protector.”

At a certain point, he is right. I’ve seen many people outside or in cars alone wearing masks. Who are they protecting? Now that our mask mandate has ended, many people go without, but many continue to wear them indoors. Good for them, they may be doing some good in case they are infected with coronavirus or the flu. But at some point, don’t you want to see other people’s faces again, and be able to talk without having to repeat every other sentence?

Selfishness is hardly a new characteristic of our politics. But what is striking today is how the politicians and commentators using it sneer at those who stand in their way. There is a cruelty to this politics that is breathtaking. The rightwing commentator Douglas Murray complained in the Sun on Sunday of Britons’ “terrible fearfulness”. He didn’t trace this to the fact that the country is mourning more than 150,000 Covid deaths.

Having had a close family member die of Covid, it is hard. But life must go on. Once the bombing stops, you can’t stay in the bomb shelter forever.

Before Covid came along, Murray had a line in rubbishing activists who have the gall to sound the alarm on the climate crisis. A “fringe eco-lobby”, he declared in the Daily Mail, was committing “an abuse of children on a massive and unforgivable scale” by making them fearful of the future.

And this is true. The environmental activists use hyperbole all the time. Telling children that the world is going to end in twelve years is irresponsible and evil.

The Covid deniers are, as often as not, also the climate deniers; who are – wouldn’t you know it? – the most extreme Brexiters. Earlier this year, Steve Baker, the MP who calls himself the “hardman of Brexit” (which does admittedly sound better than his real title of “former software consultant”), joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation that claims to speak “common sense on climate change”. Its honorary president is the climate-change denier Nigel Lawson. The carousel goes round and round, but the faces on it never seem to change.

So the same people who want common sense on climate are for autonomy from the non-elected autocracy in Brussels? That makes sense. The sad thing is, those who don’t preach the climate emergency doctrine line and verse are smeared as climate change deniers. This means the smear loses all credibility. For example, though I disagree with some of his ideas, Douglas Murray is not an idiot. Calling him ‘cruel’ and ‘selfish’ doesn’t prove your point, it makes you look like a zealot.

Lawson, as Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor, played a vital role in breaking the social contract that had underpinned postwar Britain, on everything from welfare to pay to pensions. What his successors are now doing is trying to dismantle what’s left of the ethical contract Britons still hold with each other. If they succeed, the politics of extreme individualism will make impossible the collective response essential to tackle social crises, from Covid to social care to climate.

When you smear individualists as extremists, don’t be surprised when they don’t listen to your ideas about medicine, social care, and the environment. As I said at the outset, there are many individualists among the left and the center. They can be allies if they are convinced of your proposals, but if you lead them to water by force, you will never make them drink.

In his new book, Go Big, the former Labour leader Ed Miliband writes: “If we treat the climate crisis as a technical fix or technological problem to be solved and think we can do so while leaving other injustices in place … we will fail.” He is right. On climate, nearly every techno-fix has remained a money-sucking mirage, as with carbon capture and storage.

Is he right? What ‘injustices’ is he referring to? Tying unrelated issue together is not a good idea. It makes you look like your pushing an agenda. This is why people don’t trust politicians. Of course capture has been a dud: it costs money and adds no benefit to the consumer. The only way CO2 capture will be done is by government fiat. The technology is currently too expensive and would cause massive surges in the cost of fuel. Any government that caused these would be voted out post haste in the next election.

But that is exactly how the new right has dealt with the pandemic. Johnson’s government didn’t even attempt a strategy of zero Covid – instead it spent the thick end of a billion quid on making sure Nando’s was half-price for the summer. And it got lucky: Covid vaccines were in production within months.

It’s easy to say someone ‘got lucky’. But luck favors the bold.

Restoring our lives to normality after Covid is not the solution, it’s the problem.

And you wonder why Brady thinks you have Stockholm syndrome? This statement makes you sound insane.

And each time, cooperation is just dismissed as political impossibilism. Even when politicians nod their heads while scientists urge that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”, nothing happens.

It is impossible to make everyone safe. Not just politically. People die in lock down. Deaths due to drug overdoses have increased massively. How will the scientists make sure these people are safe? Or do they not count?

While nearly 70% of adult Britons have now been double-jabbed, only 1% of people in low-income countries have received even one dose. While the home secretary, Priti Patel, was cheering on England in the Euro finals, Ugandans in her parents’ former home of Kampala were turning their equivalent of Wembley stadium into a Covid hospital.

And that means no one outside Uganda is allowed to take any enjoyment in life?

This smirking ignorance is possible for as long as those people who die, whether of Covid or climate breakdown, are brown or black or poor. But even the likes of Murray and Baker and Lawson can’t rely on that. Not when a flood can burst into a German care home and drown the residents. Not when a wildfire can consume one of the richest provinces in America and the world. Some bunkers you just can’t buy.

Wanting to take care of your own before worrying about those living in other countries is natural. Until every Canadian is vaccinated, I don’t think our government should be shipping vaccines abroad. Nationalism is not racism.

You can’t control climate. We can take measures to try to lessen our impact on it. The earth’s climate has been fluctuating for billions of years. While we have the ability to make those changes at a never before seen pace, and natural climate change has caused massive extinction events in the past, and that should give us pause, thinking that we can simply turn off CO2 emissions without doing terrible harm is simplistic.

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New Report Begs for More Taxation

CBC reports that Ottawa, provinces and territories not on track to meet new climate targets. The solution: lower emission targets. The only implementation suggestion: more carbon taxation.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments have failed to plan emissions cuts sufficient to achieve Canada’s net-zero targets, says a new climate report. The report by the Pembina Institute, an energy and climate think-tank, concludes that Canada isn’t going to achieve its recently announced 2030 or 2050 net-zero goals.

Why is anyone surprised when politicians break their promises?

“Unfortunately, we are not on track to meeting Canada’s new target of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels,” said Isabelle Turcotte, Pembina’s director of federal policy. “The most optimistic projections show that we are on track to reduce emissions by 36 per cent. So there’s a big gap here.”

10% doesn’t seem like that big a gap.

Although Ottawa has established new targets, the report finds that provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario haven’t committed to meeting them yet. Other jurisdictions like British Columbia have made ambitious commitments, says the report, but it’s not at all clear how they intend to achieve them.

Energy is a provincial responsibility. The feds can give guidance, but the provinces are the ones who have to do the work. When a product manager comes and asks for a feature, you don’t promise to do it until you know it can be done.

“The approach to climate action in Canada is piecemeal,” the report says. “It also lacks accountability for governments who promise climate action but don’t have timelines or policies to match the urgency of the situation.” 

Of course provinces will do things differently from each other; they are different from each other. Who is surprised when politicians fail to set timelines or take accountability for anything?

Pembina’s report says that while progress has been made — nationwide carbon pricing and the phase-out of coal-fired electricity — it’s been offset by emissions increases elsewhere.

Carbon taxation is not progress. It is a tactic. Has it led to progress? I agree that phasing out coal fired electrical plants is progress. According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, 65% of our electricity was generated by renewables, 15% was clean nuclear power, 10% came from gas, 8% from coal, and the remaining 2% from oil and biofuels.

The federal government recently boosted its target for greenhouse gas emissions to a reduction of 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to net-zero emissions by 2050. The report says the federal government can only do so much, since provinces and territories have jurisdiction over the energy sector.

Provincial jurisdiction is as it should be. The national energy program has been a disaster. Taxpayers have spent at least $23B on pipeline subsidies and supports since 2018. If the feds boosted their targets without getting agreements from the provinces, they are even bigger idiots than I thought.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said “The findings are particularly challenging for some of the provinces that have been less robust in their work on the climate file, most particularly some of the Conservative premiers and provinces in the in the Prairies.”

Typical federal Liberal: Blames the opposition and western Canada.

“Instead of working with Saskatchewan, the federal government is actively working against us,” said Saskatchewan Environment Minister Warren Kaeding in a media statement. “There is no better example of this than the federal government’s arbitrary decision to reject Saskatchewan’s proposal to transfer control of the carbon tax, despite having accepted similar proposals from other regions of the country.”

The feds have no right to impose as carbon tax in the first place. It is an energy policy, and the provinces are responsible for energy.

“Net-zero targets do not mean much without a realistic plan to achieve them. The proposed new federal target is a national emissions target that will require action across all parts of the economy,” said Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

Having a plan doesn’t ensure you’ll meet your goals, but if you don’t have a plan, you certainly won’t.

Alberta accounts for most of Canada’s absolute emissions. The province has implemented a cap on oilsands emissions, committed to phasing out coal and introduced new methane regulations and its Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program.

How much CO2 is emitted to produce the imported oil and gas consumed by eastern Canada? Shouldn’t they be taxed just as much for those emissions as Alberta is for its oil industry emissions?

The report offers several recommendations to reverse the trend. All governments, it says, should commit to more ambitious emissions targets to achieve Canada’s goals, and independent accountability agencies that report to Parliament and regional legislatures should be established.

Adding more bureaucracy is not the answer.

Governments and businesses must also set carbon budgets that place limits on emissions, says the report. It says that all governments should prepare for the decline of the oil and gas industry, draft net-zero transition plans for the energy sector and push for the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

Businesses won’t do this unless the government gets out its tax cudgel. One would hope that before resorting to still more taxation, they stop foolishly wasting billions on propping up the fossil fuel industry. Also, to be fair, if Canadian companies are going to have to do this, goods imported from countries that don’t had better be tariffed appropriately. Instead of wasting our taxes subsidizing the rich’s purchases of fancy electric cars, why not build some rapid transit? Sadly, given their track record, I don’t expect anything sensible from our government.

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Top Ten Worst Remakes

Hollywood loves to remake classic films, but often the results are less that stellar. I tend to avoid watching them unless I hear they are good, but I’ve still managed to see a few that either sucked or were significantly worse than the originals. Here are my top ten least favorite remakes, from the least offensive to the worst, in my opinion.

Aladdin

The live action remake of Aladdin was not a bad movie, but it was inferior to the original animated film in most ways. Will Smith was a good genie, but Robin Williams was great. Jafar was weak, Abu the monkey was just a monkey, and Iago the parrot, voiced in the original by Gilbert Godfrey, was completely omitted.

Clash of the Titans

The original was a mediocre telling of the legend of Perseus, but was also the last big stop motion epic done by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. The remake was a possibly even more mediocre retelling, with the old style stop motion effects replaced by a bunch of flashy CGI.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The original was a moralizing, corny science fiction film with cheap special effects. The remake was somehow completely unmemorable. I thought Keanu Reavves was in it (he was), but that is the only thing I remember.

The Karate Kid

The original is a classic coming of age tale. The only thing I remember about the sequel, where Jackie Chan replaces Pat Morita, and Ralph Maccio is replaced by Jaden Smith. is that they replaced the poignant story of the death of Miagi’s wife and child in an interment camp while he was serving in Germany with a dumb car crash plot.

Hellboy

Guillermo De Torro’s masterpiece is far superior in almost every way to the dumb remake. While David “Hopper” Harbour was decent as Hellboy, Ron Perlman was perfect in the original. All of the other characters were either missing or were done worse. John Hurt was irreplaceable as Father, and Abe Sapiens and Liz Sherman were sadly missing.

Robocop

The first Robocop was a campy science fiction classic. I don’t remember the remake, except that they changed the ending so that instead of the bad guy’s override being nullified when the founder fires him, Robocop had to somehow overcome his programming. The original ending, while glib, was better.

The Grinch

I love the Jim Carrie live action film How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There are elements which I dislike, especially the young Grinch flashbacks and the mayor’s subplot, but every moment that Carrie is on screen is gold. I got through the first ten minutes of the animated remake before switching it off. The narration by Ferrell was aweful, and the Grinch somehow became a neurotic. Absolute garbage.

Total Recall

The original takes huge liberties with the source material (We Can Dream It For You Wholesale by Phillip K Dick), but is a great science fiction romp, and manages to stay close enough to the story to retain some of Phillip K Dick’s mind bending “Is it real or all in his head” tension. The remake substitutes Colin “Lobster” Farrel for Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger, and completely loses the original story, turning it into a mindless space adventure.

The Lathe of Heaven

The original made for TV adaptation of Ursula K LeGuin’s science fiction masterpiece is low budget and looks terrible on the big screen, but nails the source material. The remake sort of followed the same story, but eliminated almost everything good about it.

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Leftists Covet Bezos’s Fortune, Whine About Space Pollution

u-jellyGaby Hinsliff, writing in the Guardian, opines For all our sakes, let’s hope Jeff Bezos’s space trip is just a midlife crisis. Why would she wish this? Does she have something against space exploration?

One very small step for mankind, one giant ego trip for Jeff Bezos. The world’s richest man ejaculated himself into space this week, in what was not quite the first suborbital tourist flight – Richard Branson beat him up there – but definitely the fastest. “Everybody who’s been up into space, they say that it changes them,” Bezos said earnestly, of a trip that lasted roughly the time it takes to hard boil an egg.

This is the third company to–largely independently the money the government takes in taxes–launch humans into space. Who cares how long the flight was? This is a real achievement. When you have been to space, maybe you’ll have the right to comment on the meaningfulness of doing so.

If you say so, Jeff. But it looked very much like the intergalactic equivalent of one of those cruises where a vast herd is disgorged ashore for a brief, bewildered trample over the nearest landmark before being rounded up and whisked away to the next port. Sure, you’ve been to Venice, technically. But which one was Venice, again?

Comparing space flight to a boat trip is like comparing a walk to the store to running a triathlon.

Anyway, the 57-year-old Bezos said that seeing our blue and green orb from space made him appreciate its fragility, so no snide remarks about whether the cowboy hat he insisted on wearing just screams “midlife crisis” or how much his rocket resembles a penis (very much, since you ask).

As someone who likes to wear a stetson in the rain, let me tell you to take your snide remarks about cowboy hats and stick them where the sun don’t shine. As to the shape of the rocket, I highly doubt that looks were a large consideration, or that Bezos had a lot to do with the design. If it can reach space, who cares?

“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer,” Bezos said mistily afterwards. “Because you guys paid for all this.” Well, yes, in a very real sense we did. And now we’d like our money back. Someone calculated that the $5.5bn or so that the trip had cost could have bought enough food to stop 37.5 million people starving.

It’s not your money. Bezos has the right to do whatever he wants with his money. He could simply have lit it on fire and watched it burn. Instead, he invested in it advancing space travel. Kudos to him. If you want to buy food for the poor, you should earn your own fortune and do so.

Compare and contrast with his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, who intends to give away a $38bn divorce settlement she says was “enabled by systems that need to change”, and has already dispensed $8.5bn to causes including food banks, Black colleges and female-led charities. Every Amazon employee and customer paid for that too, but perhaps a bit less grudgingly.

His ex didn’t earn that money. As an Amazon customer, I’d rather the man who built the company had my money than someone who used the courts to take it from him.

If only there was some kind of mechanism, ideally administered by governments on behalf of their nations, whereby people with more money than they can possibly ever spend were required to redistribute some of it among the people without whom they couldn’t have made it. Crazy idea, obviously, although less crazy than Bezos’s suggestion of moving all the polluting industries on Earth into space, to protect our fragile planet by ruining some other one instead.

There is. It’s called the tax system. If governments weren’t so corrupt, they’d make sure to take a fair share of the company’s profits and Bezos’s earnings. Once the government has taxed my earnings, I sure as shit don’t think they have a right to take what’s left. If Bezos is talking about generating power in space, I think that’s a great idea. If you are for green energy, you can’t much greener than beamed solar power.

His plans to take paying tourists into orbit may yet founder on this being the nichest of niche markets. He won’t say how much a ticket would cost – but suffice to say that if you need to ask, then you can’t afford it. (An unnamed individual paid $28m at auction for a seat on this inaugural flight, before crying off at the last minute claiming “scheduling conflicts”, leaving one wondering what kind of person is too busy to boldly go where no hedge funder has been before; the seat was eventually taken by a Dutch financier’s 18-year-old son.

The rocket needed a test crew. Why not make some money, since he spent so much of his own money to make it happen? I doubt space tourism is anything but a sideshow, probably as a demonstration of the viability of the company’s technology.

But like Branson and Elon Musk, his fellow dystopian adventurers in space, Bezos senses opportunities for commercial exploitation of some kind beyond this Earthly realm, and wants in on the ground floor. Branson thinks there might be a market for using rockets to move people super-fast between cities on Earth, rather like Concorde only more so. Musk seems intent on cornering an emerging private sector market in shuttling crew and cargo to space stations, created by cutbacks in the publicly funded Nasa space flight programme.

How are these men “dystopian”? Do you know what the word dystopia means? Branson is an idiot if he’s serious. Thunderfoot does a good job at debunking the idea of using rockets for travel on Earth. Musk has been very clear that his motivation is the colonization of Mars. If he happens to fund this with his Nasa contract, and can do hat they need more cheaply than Nasa could, that leaves Nasa with more money for space science. That’s called a win-win.

If Bezos’s flying phallus represented little more than a restless billionaire’s attempt to kill the emptiness inside, then it might be galling but it wouldn’t ultimately matter. It would just be what happens when you get so rich and powerful that there is nobody left with the guts to tell you the hat looks ridiculous, and so does a business model seemingly based on exploiting warehouse workers while providing other millionaires with a glorified fairground ride into space.

Warehousing sucks. I did it before university, so I can tell you from experience. As long as Amazon’s workers are working for them voluntarily, they can leave if they want to, unlike slave labourers in other parts of the world. Like I said, Bezos could have taken his money and burned it. Instead he used it to advance space travel. If you don’t like that, too bad for you.

But if what it actually portends is the unchecked commercial exploitation of the ultimate virgin environment by an elite group of super-billionaires more powerful than many governments, encouraged by the unfettered way they were allowed to operate on Earth to believe they can do the same in the sky – well, then, Houston, we have a problem. Better hope for all our sakes that this really is a midlife vanity project after all.

Space is an airless vacuum with only one resource: sunlight. The moon is a lifeless, airless ball of rock. Mars is a dry, mostly airless, uninhabitable place. Anything done to them (other than cluttering up Earth orbit with space junk) is probably a net benefit. Environmentalists do not own space. Governments do not own space. If you want a piece of it, you better get up there and claim it. The entitlement of people who think they have the moral high ground to criticize someone who is pioneering commercial space flight and claim the right to dictate who should be allowed to go to space is staggering.

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If God is Dead, Are We Next?

I’m going to comment on the Aussie Nationalist’s post The problem with rationalism. While our opinions on both rationalism and the coronavirus vaccine differ in the details, the Nationalist’s thoughts bear witnessing.

In large part, the definition of ‘rationalism’ varies from source to source. Though, the fairest definition can be drawn from Pope Leo XIII in his 1888 encyclical ‘On the Nature of True Liberty’, where he held rationalism to be belief in “the supremacy of human reason.” A close corollary of this view is that reality itself is “confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it (reason) has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits” (my emphasis). Further, if human reason is supreme, anything which cannot be entirely understood through our reasoning faculties must be dismissed.

This is a very poor definition. Empiricism is the belief in only things that can be experienced by the senses. Rationalism embraces mathematics and logic, things which are entirely conceptual. The addendum, that “reason is supreme [and] anything which cannot be … understood through … reasoning … must be dismissed” is a more apt description.

On first instance (at least for myself), rationalism is an alluring concept. It is true that humans are rational creatures who should live according to both reason and reality; not on a blind faith, misguided prejudice, or baseless hope.

I agree.

To clarify the matter, the problem with rationalism is not that it holds a proper regard for human reason. Rather, the problem is that rationalism unduly extols human reason, holding it to necessarily and limitlessly result in the discovery of more advanced truths–when this is clearly not the case.

Reason has certainly succeeded in discovering ever more advanced truths–relativity and quantum mechanics, for example. I think the real problem with rationalism is that it holds reason to be the only way to discover truth. Einstein himself used imagination when coming up with the theory of relativity. Kekulé, the chemist who determined the structure of benzine, did so after having a vision of the ouroboros. Jung brought the mystical knowledge of alchemy to bear on the subconscious mind. Intuition is a powerful tool that the rationalist throws away. Rationalists excel at analysis, but often fail at synthesis.

The early proponents of rationalism, beyond a shadow of doubt, have fulfilled the objectives they once set out to achieve. Liberalism is our state ideology; secularism is ubiquitous; the population is literate; people generally only trust in and live for phenomena.

This is certainly true of the west, as a whole.

Those key metrics being fulfilled, however, they have not led to the intellectual and open-minded society once vouched for. In fact, people are more docile, superstitious, averse to independent thinking and most strikingly, servile to arbitrary authority than ever before.

When Neitzche declared that God is dead, he did so in horror, knowing that the foundations of philosophy, morality, and the enlightenment had been destroyed: “How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?” In the words of Psalms 11:3, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

As of 2021, this hideous submission to untruths has reached its peak in common responses to the coronavirus vaccines. In objective terms, it is becoming clear that:

1. The coronavirus vaccines do not reduce adverse health outcomes caused by the virus, be it transmission or death.

2. The vaccines are visiting serious injuries and death on previously healthy recipients.

3. Higher national levels of vaccination are correlated with a rise in cases and new ‘strains’.

This contradicts the media, which claims:

  1. The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated.
  2. Side effects are rare and dangerous side effects are extremely rare.
  3. Higher vaccination levels have coincided with a massive decrease in cases.

You can choose to distrust their claims. Here are the facts I can personally attest to:

  • Covid-19 killed my elderly mother.
  • I know many people who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, and no one has had more than mild flu symptoms from the vaccine.
  • A friend in his forties who had Covid-19 said it was like a bad case of the flu.
  • I have never contracted any disease I’ve been vaccinated for.

Notwithstanding the above, it is still being fervently urged that we “get the jab”–and many have acquiesced, 10 million Australians so far.

I see nothing wrong with fervent urging. The coercive tactics that the French government is undertaking, however, will earn them the righteous ire they deserve.

In the words of David Solway from Lifesite News, such people “Are not governed by reason but by a species of magical thinking, a kind of voodoo conviction. Despite whatever inner tremors they feel or doubts they may have struggled to suppress, they insist on the soundness of the vaccines and rush to the inoculation booths. These confections are like magical elixirs, bunches of dill or lavender laid at the door to keep out demonic beings, or talismans affixed to the lintel to ward off the angel of contagion.”

Having studied immunology and molecular biology, I can say that calling vaccines nothing more than magical elixirs is absolute rubbish. While MRNA vaccines are new, the science behind them is not, and the principle of using our own cells to generate viral proteins is sound. Whether you believe the efficacy clams of the vaccine manufacturers is up to you. They should probably be taken with at least a grain of salt.

Our society, continues Solway, is increasingly beholden to “proclaimed opinions that are ephemeral or manifestly not sensible,” with faith now being placed in “shamans and medical men.”

The old Russian proverb quoted by Reagan applies when dealing with doctors: Doveryay, no proveryay (trust, but verify). While doctors are human, comparing someone with an MD to a shaman is stupid.

By now, 232 years after the French Revolution, it is clear that unaided human reason is not going to usher in a promised new age of enlightenment, curiosity, and human learning. Instead, having rejected the possibility of objective truth and the source of it–God, because His infinite mysteries could not be fully grasped by the finite bounds of human reason–rationalism is moving our society ever closer towards a “bottomless pit” (Apoc 9:2).

One need not believe in God to know that there is objective truth. Rationalism and relativism are two different things. I think the real issue is that while individuals can still seek the truth, and in fact have more freedom to do so that in the past, the bulk of humanity who do not seek have no Truth to have faith in. It takes a rare man to realize that his life is his to make as he pleases and not make a terrible mess of it. Religion provided guardrails. There may be a few who do not need them, and are even constrained by them, but they protected the vast majority from losing their way.

Such would appear to be the end point for a society predicated on rationalism. This being so, much more than unaided human reason shall be necessary to reconstitute an orderly, functional, and intelligent society.

I don’t count reason out entirely, though I do think intuition and the beginner’s mind are also essential tools for the mental tool box. The question is, will those who need moral guardrails be prevented from destroying the west. If not, perhaps Islam, which retains much of its faith in the deity, may supplant western democracy as the dominant world power. I think this is probably more likely than a world ruled by Chinese communism or the current western cult of social justice, both of which are ideologies that, when their failings are exposed, fold like houses of cards.

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