Thursday, 26 November 2020

Part 3 - History of the green agenda

(Neil's Note: This is the main part of my consultation response from last July. It shows up the enormity of the fraud which has been committed against us human beings, over 50 years, by the deep green environmentalists and their political soulmates.)

3.    History of the green agenda

1970 to 1992

Those of you who have studied the green agenda will already know that the driver of it, all along, has been the United Nations. This has been so for 50 years; ever since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day. The then UN Secretary General, U Thant, personally sanctioned the Earth Day idea.

In 1972, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) was started, under the directorship of Maurice Strong. Strong was a Canadian oil baron, and he had a scandal ridden career. His attitude can be summed up by the following quote, from a 1997 magazine interview: “Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.” Later, Strong was implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal of 2005, went to live in China, and died in 2015.

When the dust has settled enough that historians can write an objective history of the 20th century, I think Strong will be right up there with Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot in the race for most evil individual of the century. Stalin committed genocide in Ukraine, starting a famine that killed millions; and caused millions of deaths in other parts of the Soviet Union, too. Mao attempted genocide against the people of his country. Pol Pot did the same, but on a smaller scale. Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust against Jews and others. But Strong went further than any of them; he set out to bring down our Western civilization, world-wide.

In 1982, the UN put forward a Resolution called the World Charter for Nature. This included extreme and totalitarian statements, like: “Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled.” And: “Where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed.” The Charter was passed in the UN by 111 votes to 1, with 18 abstentions. The USA was the only country voting against.

In 1987, a new UN report was published, titled Our Common Future. This is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had a huge adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. Unsurprisingly, Maurice Strong was on the commission that produced it.

Our Common Future raised alarms about fourteen issues: Desertification. Clearing of forests. Species loss. Acid rain. Global warming, due to human emissions of CO2. Ozone layer depletion. Loss of coral reefs. Military proliferation and the threat of nuclear war. Toxic and nuclear waste disposal. Increasing incidence of disasters. Population growth. Poverty. International economic inequality. And what they called “the interests of future generations.”

On many of these issues, much progress has been made in the intervening decades. Poverty in the third world and population growth in the West, for example, have both been much reduced. So have emissions of serious pollutants like sulphur dioxide. The ozone layer has recovered. Desertification and forest clearing are no longer major problems. Things are getting better on several of the others, too. And claimed recent loss of species and of coral reefs have not been proven beyond doubt to be either real problems or caused by humans. Haven’t we done well?

Of these issues, three are today being actively pushed. Acid rain has been re-badged as air quality. Species loss is still being hyped, as shown by the name of extremist group Extinction Rebellion. And the global warming scare is being hyped hardest of all.

As to transport, Our Common Future focused mainly on cars in third world countries and cities. The agenda to force people in the West out of our cars came later. And interestingly, Our Common Future fails to mention air transport at all.

In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established. It’s a UN organization. Its mission statement is: “to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.” It has prepared five major reports so far; the first in 1990, the most recent in 2013. Superficially, it looks as if it should be independent and unbiased. But of course, being a UN organization, it is not.

Our Common Future led to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to whose extreme agenda politicians like then UK prime minister, John Major, signed up without consulting the people. As I like to put it, they sold us all down the Rio. In particular, they signed up to a binding Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to Agenda 21 (which has since morphed into Agenda 2030). They also signed up to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, stating 27 principles intended to achieve something called “sustainable development.”

The Framework Convention on Climate Change led to the yearly “Conference of the Parties” (COP) meetings, about which you will have heard so much. As to Agenda 21, it includes demands such as: “Significant changes in the consumption patterns of industries, governments, households and individuals.” And “Favouring high-occupancy public transport.” This was where the agenda came in of seeking to force drivers in Western countries out of our cars. Moreover, Agenda 21 was to be implemented at the local government level. So, it passed under many people’s political radar. A clever trick, no?

Climate change

Soon after Rio, the UK spin machine went into overdrive. Our TV screens showed (staged) pictures of rural roads chock-a-block with cars. Of traffic jams in foggy weather, complete with smoking exhaust-pipes. Of the aftermaths of accidents. It was hard, even then, to avoid thinking that we drivers were being set up. And organizations that should have defended us, like the Automobile Association, abdicated their responsibility. Worse, they even took part in the witch-hunt, blaming us for destroying the environment by driving our “gas guzzlers”.

Around the same time, there were attempts in parliament to set binding targets for reductions in road traffic. The first of these was made in 1994 by a Welsh nationalist MP, with a bill that had actually been written by Friends of the Earth and the Green Party! Not exactly independent or unbiased, then. And not representing the people, either.

A Road Traffic Reduction Act followed in 1997, followed by several attempts to set explicit national targets or limits for road traffic.

Meanwhile, things were happening at the IPCC. The IPCC reports are supposed to summarize the peer reviewed scientific literature on the subjects they cover. But parts of the reports – including the keynote Summary for Policymakers – are approved line by line by government officials. In the 1995/6 report, part of the Summary was re-worded in a more alarmist way at the behest of governments. And the technical reports were then updated to match. That is not peer reviewed science!

On now to 2002, and one of the most egregious examples of dishonesty by the UK government in this whole sorry story. That is, their perversion, indeed inversion, of the precautionary principle. Which, at its root, is “Look before you leap,” or even “First, do no harm.”

The Rio Declaration had included a statement (Principle 15) on the precautionary principle. “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.  Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” Now, I find that idea bizarre. For, if you don’t have a high degree of scientific certainty about the size and likelihood of a problem, how can you possibly assess whether or not a proposed counter-measure is cost-effective?

But the Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment’s 2002 report – Ref [[1]] – twists this into the following: “The purpose of the precautionary principle is to create an impetus to take a decision notwithstanding scientific uncertainty about the nature and extent of the risk.” “‘Absence of evidence of risk’ should never be confused with, or taken as, ‘evidence of absence of risk.’” And “the burden of proof shifts away from the regulator having to demonstrate potential for harm towards the hazard creator having to demonstrate an acceptable level of safety.”

Do you see what they did there? They abandoned all pretence of presuming us innocent until proven guilty. They said, in effect: “If in doubt, government should act.” So, we are all guilty, until we prove our innocence. That’s if they even allow us an opportunity to do that, of course.

Moreover, they have inverted the burden of proof.  They demand that we, the accused, must show that everything we are doing is safe. They require us to prove a negative, that we are not causing a problem. Which, in general, is impossible. And even if we’re not actually causing any risk at all, they can use the ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’ trick to find us guilty anyway!

In, say, a murder trial, such bad faith ought to lead to immediate dismissal of the case, and prosecution for perverting the course of justice. How much worse, then, is conduct of this kind when our whole human civilization is on the line?

On to 2006, and the Stern Review. This was an (apparent) attempt to provide a cost versus benefits analysis for policy action or inaction on reducing CO2 emissions. But of the three tools (called integrated assessment models) Stern had available to him, he chose the one which gave by far the most pessimistic estimate of the social cost of CO2. He also made other assumptions, which resulted in a grossly exaggerated estimate of the cost of not taking action. One economist commented: “the Review's radical policy recommendations depend upon controversial extreme assumptions and unconventional discount rates that most mainstream economists would consider much too low.” Again, bad faith by the UK government.

Then, of course, there’s the BBC. In 2006, the BBC held a meeting of what they claimed were “the best scientific experts” to decide their policy on climate change reporting. When the list of attendees was eventually unearthed, it included only three scientists; all of them alarmists. It also included the Head of Campaigns for Greenpeace. Not surprisingly, the BBC has continued to maintain a strongly alarmist stance.

More recently (2018), the BBC likened allowing climate change skeptics to speak to “letting someone deny last week’s football scores.” Even though their own guidelines say: “We are committed to reflecting a wide range of subject matter and perspectives… so that no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted.” In the murder trial analogy, this amounts to denying us the right to speak up in our own defence, and to have our witnesses – including experts – heard at all.

Next, to the 2008 UK climate change bill. They did make a token attempt at a cost benefit analysis. But if I recall right, there was a factor of 7 uncertainty in the costs, and a factor of 12 in the putative “benefits,” of taking action to reduce CO2 emissions in order to mitigate climate change. If we could believe the figures in the first place! Such numbers are useless for making any kind of objective decisions. Yet, the politicians just went ahead anyway, without consulting the people. Bad faith, no?

Before the second reading of that bill, I sent “my” MP (Jeremy Hunt) a nine-page letter, with 20 references. In that letter, I set out the relevant facts as logically as I could. I urged him to fully inform himself on the issue, and, having done that, to vote against the bill. He never even deigned to acknowledge that letter, let alone respond to it; even when I reminded him almost two years later. And, of course, he voted for the bill. He showed no interest at all in my legitimate concern. That isn’t democracy. At the very least, he should have replied: I have passed on your letter to <XXXX>, who is better qualified to answer your questions than I am, and will reply to you within <YYYY> days.

And so, we were forcibly embarked on a never-ending round of green taxes and more green taxes. Of five-year “carbon budgets,” a Soviet-style idea both ridiculous and dictatorial. Of energy policies that favour solar and wind, both of which supply power that is far too intermittent ever to be able to generate base load for a Western industrial country. Of idiocies like converting Drax power station to burn wood chips imported from the USA. Of green lies, fabrications, scares and hype; though I myself am now immune to that stuff, having stopped watching TV ten years ago. And of more and more crazy and totalitarian proposals, culminating in this “zero carbon” nonsense.

In 2009, the UK government committed another outrageous dishonesty. Prior to that year, they used – at least in theory – a social cost approach to valuing the effects of CO2 emissions when considering policies. Though, as the Stern report showed, they were not above fiddling the numbers to suit their own aims.

The government’s page on this subject – Ref [[2]] – says: “The SCC (social cost of carbon) matters because it signals what society should, in theory, be willing to pay now to avoid the future damage caused by incremental carbon emissions.” Yes, indeed. A social cost approach is by far the best (indeed, probably the only) basis for objective assessment of the costs of damage against the costs of taking steps to avoid that damage.

But in 2009, the UK government abandoned any attempt or pretence at trying to work out how big the CO2 problem really was. As the government’s page says: “the new approach will set the valuation of carbon at a level consistent with the UK’s short and long-term greenhouse gas emissions targets.” Cynically paraphrased, their argument seems to have been: “We know we can’t do a credible cost-benefit analysis that justifies any political action on this. But we’re already committed to political action. So, we’ll make up numbers to match the commitments, and hope that no-one notices.”

Abandoning the social cost approach, in my view, was an act of atrociously bad faith. Particularly because more recent research has suggested that when the beneficial side-effects of CO2 emissions, such as increased plant growth, are taken into account, it’s possible that the true social cost of these emissions might even become negative. That is, CO2 emissions would become a nett benefit, not a nett cost. If that were so, all arguments for restrictive action on CO2 emissions would be blown right out of the water. And the totalitarians obviously don’t want that, do they?

2009 was also the year of the Copenhagen COP meeting. At this meeting, the politicians were aiming to reach binding agreements to keep global temperatures below some completely arbitrary limit. But not long before the meeting, “Climategate” happened.

Climategate was a release of e-mails from a climate research unit at the University of East Anglia. These e-mails showed, to those who bothered to look, that alarmists had interfered with the review and publication process for papers on which the IPCC was supposed to rely. They had dropped, spliced or misrepresented data to produce alarming effects. They had refused to share data to allow others to replicate their work. They had plotted to delete data to evade Freedom of Information requests. They had conspired against journal editors who published skeptical papers. And more. Whatever they were doing, it was neither science nor honest. And so, since taxpayers had paid for them to do honest science, these “climate researchers” were committing fraud against us.

The UK government commissioned no less than three inquiries into Climategate. First, a parliamentary committee, which seemingly chose to avoid the most important questions. Second came the Oxburgh inquiry. It did not interview any critics of the CRU. It claimed that it would assess the quality of CRU’s science; but the papers it chose to look at did not cover the controversial areas, and did not address work done for the IPCC. Yet the UK’s chief scientist at the time described Oxburgh’s inquiry as “a blinder well played.” The third review, by Muir Russell, examined the CRU’s scientific practices, but not the science itself. It avoided answering the important questions, and the ones it did investigate were largely irrelevant. So, the outcome of all three inquiries was no more than a whitewash. Bad faith, bad faith, bad faith.

In 2015, there was another COP meeting, in Paris. At which, the politicians again sought to reach a binding agreement to keep global temperatures below some completely arbitrary limit. Not that anyone has ever proved beyond reasonable doubt that restrictions on CO2 emissions, large or small, would actually achieve this target or any other. If we don’t know what caused the earlier warm periods, how can we know that another warm – or cold – period might not kick in again, without human intervention?

The “limit” touted prior to Paris was 2 degrees Celsius above “pre-industrial levels.” (Whatever that means.) But in 2015, it looked, before the El NiƱo which started in that year, as though global warming had stopped, and was not going to reach 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, or anywhere near it. So, they arbitrarily lowered the limit from 2 degrees to 1.5! That was moving the goalposts, no? Yet another example of extreme bad faith.

The mad parliament

The UK parliament of 2019 showed itself, by its conduct, to be the most atrocious in many centuries. I dub it the mad parliament.

On April 30th of that year, minister Michael Gove met with Extinction Rebellion, a green activist group that had been carrying out disruptive protests over the previous several weeks. Later in the year south-east England’s anti-terrorist police, in my view rightly, included Extinction Rebellion in a list of extremist organizations; though they were eventually forced to withdraw this. But Extinction Rebellion proved their extremism and destructiveness in February 2020, by digging up a famous lawn at Trinity College, Cambridge – my college.

On May 1st, the day following that meeting, the parliament declared a “climate emergency.” Without any hard evidence that such an emergency existed, and without even taking a vote.

Interestingly, on May 2nd Sky News published the results of a poll – Ref [[3]] – of a random sample of their subscribers. 56% said they would be unwilling to drive significantly less to protect the environment. And 53% said they would be unwilling even in principle to significantly reduce the amount they fly. Clearly, the politicians had lost the plot, and were completely out of touch with the people they were supposed to be serving.

In June, the government put forward, and the parliament passed, a bill to introduce “a target for at least a 100% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) in the UK by 2050.” (At least 100%? Maybe more? Crazy). Select committees also initiated a scheme of “citizens’ climate assemblies,” one of the demands put forward by Extinction Rebellion. It’s amazing that those who are supposed to be serving the people kow-towed to a disruptive extremist group, but never even bothered to ask us the people what we thought. What a bunch of con artists.

Where did all this panic come from? A report – Ref [[4]] – was published in May by the Committee for Climate Change (CCC). This report recommended “a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.”

Now, the CCC is supposed to be an independent and impartial advisory body. But in my view, it’s about as impartial as Extinction Rebellion. There are mugshots and bios of eight CCC members at the beginning of the report. There may well be conflicts of interest for several of them between their outside careers and investments, and being on a supposedly independent advisory board. And when you supplement the bios with a few morsels from Wikipedia, they tell a story. I’ll let you, my readers, fill in the details for yourselves; but I will point out that one of the eight is an economist called Paul Johnson. Johnson was one of the reviewers of the 2009 decision to abandon the use of the social cost of carbon. And he supported that change.

One upshot of the bill was a report – Ref [[5]] – published last November by five UK universities, using the collective moniker “UK FIRES.” I confess that when I first found out about this, if I hadn’t been given the link by a reputable source, I would have thought it was just a sick joke. But sadly, it’s real. And, after just a single pass through the diagram summarizing the proposals, I could see that the whole idea is a nightmare. The proposals read like the edicts of a crazed, ultra-conservative dictator; and they make Soviet five-year plans look like a cake-walk. In analogy to Mao Tse-Tung’s genocidal Great Leap Forward, I dubbed them the Great Leap Backward. And the ideas in the more recent “setting the challenge” document, to which I am responding, are just more of the same.

But this parliament was crazed in more ways than just seeking to destroy our economy and our freedoms for the sake of nothing more than a pack of green falsehoods. They tried to stop Brexit, several times. This went against David Cameron’s written promise that the government would honour the result of the Brexit referendum. They tried to stop a newly appointed prime minister discharging promises which he had made to the people. And they even tried to prevent him calling a general election in order to resolve the situation.

Species extinction

The mention of Extinction Rebellion calls to mind one of the two other issues from Our Common Future which are still active. Namely, species loss.

No-one knows for sure just how many different species there are on planet Earth. The best estimate I could find was 8.7 million multi-cellular species. What this means is that the claim that species extinction is a real problem can only be justified by reference to examples of particular species, which humans have extinguished. Further, any species that was killed off by humans must have been killed off by one or more individuals or groups of humans.

Now, my view is that, if there is a problem for which I am not responsible in any way, I have no responsibility to do anything about it; on the same basis that innocent people should not be punished for crimes they did not commit. So, my demand to environmentalists is: Name and describe a species to whose extinction I contributed, and say what I did, and approximately when, to contribute to the extinction. I’ve never had an answer from even a single one of them!

Air pollution

Since cars are the major subject of this consultation, I’ll end this chapter with a brief mention of the other issue which green activists have been trying to use to force us out of our cars. Namely, air pollution. Here, as with climate change, there is a sordid backstory. I cover that backstory in the talk here: [[6]]. Of particular note are the commitments to the UN’s Gothenburg protocol in 1999 and 2012, and the EU emissions limits set in 2016.

[[1]] United Kingdom Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment (UK-ILGRA), 2002: The Precautionary Principle: Policy and Application.

 [[2]] UK government: Collections: Carbon valuation, Last updated April 11th, 2019

 [[3]] Sky News, May 2nd, 2019: Majority of Brits unwilling to cut back to fight climate change, poll finds

 [[4]] Committee on Climate Change, May 2019: Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming

 [[6]] Neil Lock, August 22nd, 2019: The War on Cars.

No comments: