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Think Globally, Shame Constantly: The Rise of Greta Thunberg EnvironmentalismHer future—and that of the planet—hasn't been "stolen" and the best way forward is through serious policy discussion, not histrionics. Nick Gillespie | 9.24.2019
Appearing like some child messiah in a science fiction novel, the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has just delivered what is arguably the fiercest jeremiad in America since Jonathan Edwards uncorked " Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" in 1741. Speaking at the United Nations, Thunberg, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and started protesting climate change in 2017 by staying out of school on Fridays, told the audience that it was responsible for destroying her life and that of the planet.
You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
Thunberg—and other doomsayers—are wrong about the environment and how best to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. You can watch her speech below:
Greta Thunberg to world leaders at the U.N. climate summit: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words" t.copic.twitter.com/kArrseEu9f
To say that reactions to Thunberg are as extreme as her rhetoric is an understatement. When I tweeted about her remarks earlier today, my timeline quickly filled with replies such as "Hitler also liked using pigtailed propaganda girls" and "She is a prop and a tool for eco-communism. A propaganda icon that needs to be destroyed." Of course, President Trump weighed in, posting a clip of her speech and commenting sarcastically, "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"
But despite the volume and vitriol of the attacks directed her way, it's vitally important that the worldview she represents and the policies she espouses are refuted. Like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), and a host of other American politicians, Thunberg believes that we've only got a few years left to settle the fate of the planet, a basic tenet pushed by supporters of the Green New Deal and by most of the Democrats running for president. In fact, Thunberg thinks that "cutting our emissions in half in 10 years," the target invoked by many environmentalists, is too little, too late. She avers that such a drastic reduction only
gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.
Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.
So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us—we who have to live with the consequences.
Such catastrophic thinking is similar to AOC's equally apocalyptic statement that " The world is gonna end in 12 years" and Warren's contention that " we've got, what, 11 years, maybe" to cut our emissions in half to save the planet. As Reason's Ronald Bailey has documented, such predictions stem from a fundamental misreading of a 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report offered up predictions in the growth of global economic activity, how it might be affected by climate change, and how reducing greenhouse gases might increase planetary GDP. It did not specify anything like a 10- to 12-year window after which extinction or amelioration is inevitable. Writes Bailey:
If humanity does nothing whatsoever to abate greenhouse gas emissions, the worst-case scenario is that global GDP in 2100 would be 8.2 percent lower than it would otherwise be.
Let's make those GDP percentages concrete. Assuming no climate change and an global real growth rate of 3 percent per year for the next 81 years, today's $80 trillion economy would grow to just under $880 trillion by 2100. World population is likely to peak at around 9 billion, so divvying up that GDP suggests that global average income would come to about $98,000 per person. Under the worst-case scenario, global GDP would only be $810 trillion and average income would only be $90,000 per person.
"There is no looming climate change 'expiration date,'" writes Bailey, a point underscored by Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which promotes cost-effective policies to remediate climate change, hunger, disease, and other global issues. Lomborg notes that the IPCC itself
has found the evidence does not support claims that floods, droughts and cyclones are increasing.
The scientists have said, "there is low confidence in a global-scale observed trend" in drought, a "lack of evidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale" and "no significant observed trends in global (cyclone) frequency over the past century."
What's more, the scientists have found that current human-caused global warming cannot reasonably be linked to any of these extreme weather phenomenon-"globally, there is low confidence in attribution of changes in (cyclone) activity to human influence", "low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought" and low confidence "that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and magnitude of floods". This doesn't mean there is no problem-just that the facts matter.
There are only better and worse ways to deal with coming changes. Contra Thunberg, the better ways don't demonize economic growth as a problem but as a solution. "The most inexorable feature of climate-change modeling isn't the advance of the sea but the steady economic growth that will make life better despite global warming," writes science journalist Will Boisvert. The environmental Kuznets curve, by which countries get wealthier and their citizens demand a cleaner environment, is the rule, not the exception. Such a dynamic is predicated upon economic and technological innovation that would be almost impossible under the sort of regulations promulgated by Green New Dealers and activists such as Thunberg and Naomi Klein, who wants to "decimate the entire neoliberal project" in the name of environmentalism. Environmental commons tend to deteriorate as countries begin to develop economically—but once per-capita income reaches a certain level, the public starts to demand a cleanup. It's a U-shaped pattern: Economic growth initially hurts the environment, Bailey reminds us,
but after a point it makes things cleaner. By then, slowing or stopping economic growth will delay environmental improvement, including efforts to mitigate the problem of man-made global warming.
Greta Thunberg's histrionics are likely heartfelt but neither they nor the deplorable responses they conjure are a guide forward to good environmental policy in a world that is getting richer every day. For the first time in human history, half the earth's population is middle class or wealthier and the rate of deaths from natural disasters is well below what it was even a few decades ago. Protecting all that is just as important as protecting the environment and, more importantly, those two goals are hardly mutually exclusive.
What gun confiscation would look like by Stephen Gutowski September 26, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke boasted in the last debate that he will, in fact, come for your guns. Joining him were fellow Democratic candidates, Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
The talk in some quarters switched with impressive quickness from " nobody wants to take your guns" to " hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." But what those people don’t understand is what a mandatory gun "buyback" — more appropriately known as gun confiscation given the government never owned the guns in the first place — would actually mean. It's unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unworkable.
O’Rourke’s call to confiscate AR-15s and AK-47s is unlike any policy ever instituted in the United States. Beto wouldn’t only ban future sales of the firearms — as was done in 1994 — but also force millions of Americans who already legally own them to give them up or face fines, jail, or worse.
The realistic chances this proposal could become law and survive a legal challenge are currently vanishingly small. Beto is unlikely to win the primary given that he’s polling at about 3% and hasn't seen any real bump from his confiscation declaration. Such a scheme couldn’t pass the House or Senate as things stand now (even the Democrat-controlled House seems unlikely at this point to pass a ban on the sale of the same guns). And it is clearly unconstitutional under the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court precedents, which recognize an individual right to own firearms that are in common use by Americans for lawful purposes. There’s no rifle in more common lawful use in America than the AR-15. Additionally, many police officers are unlikely to be willing to enforce such an order should it ever come.
Still, it’s important to look at the reality of what such a proposal would require.
There are no official statistics on how many guns Americans own, but the Small Arms Survey is the most widely recognized estimate of civilian, police, and military gun ownership in the world. Its most recent estimate puts civilian-owned firearms in America at about 400 million. That's far more than in any other country in the world. There are more guns here than there are people. Civilians own 100 times as many guns as the military. Americans own so many guns it amounts to three times all the world’s militaries combined.
Likewise, we don’t know exactly how many AR-15s and AK-47s there are, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade group, estimates that it is about 16 million. Beto has said he would base confiscation on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, introduced but going nowhere, which applies to many guns other than just AR-15s and AK-47s, so the number of guns affected would likely be much higher. If you stick to just the ARs and AKs Beto called out at the debate, the task seems somewhat less daunting than trying to seize 400 million guns from our 350 million citizens and upwards of 120 million gun owners. Those rifles are about 4% of the total number of guns owned in the U.S.
But it would be nearly impossibility to round up 16 million guns.
New Zealand is halfway through its gun confiscation effort, which is supported by nearly every politician in the country, and its government has seized under 20,000 firearms. That’s a compliance rate of just 10%, according to the New Zealand Herald. A similar compliance rate in the U.S. would leave more than 14 million ARs and AKs in circulation.
It also seems clear that Americans would be less willing to give up their guns than New Zealanders have been. There is a long history here of resistance to the taking of the people’s arms. It goes back to a thwarted effort by Gen. Thomas Gage, a redcoat, to seize arms from the people of Concord in 1775. Texans refused at the Battle of Gonzales in 1835 to turn over their canon to Gen. Santa Anna. Charlton Heston declared that the only way anyone could take his guns was “ from my cold, dead hands!” It’s fanciful to think a country with that kind of ingrained commitment to guns would accept a confiscation scheme when New Zealand, a place where such a scheme was passed with near-unanimous support, is having trouble implementing it.
New Jersey’s recent ban on the possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds is instructive. In April, New Jersey State Police told Ammoland.com that not a single magazine had been surrendered to them.
But if an American confiscation plan did somehow manage to get a 90% compliance rate, there would still be at least 1.6 million ARs and AKs left in the wild. To put that in context, the Small Arms Survey estimates there are about 1 million firearms held by police in the U.S. That means even if the vast majority of American gun owners gave up everything they’ve believed since John Parker and his Minute Men met Maj. John Pitcairn and his red coats on a field outside Lexington, there would still be more leftover AR-15s out there than the entire stockpile of every police force in the country.
Of course, many Americans would not turn over their guns. Many would not surrender their guns during a “mandatory buyback.” Many wouldn’t turn them over even if you sent armed men to their homes to collect them. In the end, to get every AR-15, you would have to be willing to kill some gun owners.
You would have to kill your fellow Americans to deny citizens their constitutional rights and accomplish what Beto O’Rourke says he wants. It’s an inescapable truth.
And what purpose would this serve?
Rifles play a small role in crime. Rifles, of which ARs are only a subset, were involved in 403 (2%) of the 15,129 murders committed in 2017, according to the FBI. They were used far less often than handguns (7,032) but also less often than knives (1,591) or blunt objects (467) or even hands and feet (692). ARs have, of course, been used in a number of high-profile attacks, but they are not the most common guns used in mass shootings, and some of the worst attacks we’ve seen have been perpetrated with handguns and shotguns, making it questionable at best that confiscating them would prevent mass shootings.
The reality is that there are so many of these rifles that even an astronomical surrender rate would leave a massive stockpile in civilian hands. The surrender rate would probably be low, leaving tens of millions of rifles in circulation.
Even then, the potential benefit would be extremely limited. The violence required to implement a comprehensive confiscation plan aimed at AR-15s would probably far outweigh any drop in gun violence.
Whenever the subject of global warming comes up, there is usually an appeal to authority, that the science is settled, that 97% of scientists agree.
Well, what exactly do they agree about? Here it is.
An invitation to participate in the survey was sent to 10,257 Earth scientists.
To maximize the response rate, the survey was designed to take less than 2 minutes to complete, and it was administered by a professional online survey site that allowed one-time participation by those who received the invitation.
This brief report addresses the two primary questions of the survey:
When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question
The most specialized and knowledge-able respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.
There it is. 97% of specialists agree that the earth is warming, and humans are a significant contributor. Is "significant" qualified with statistical significance? Nope. The question is posed in an incredibly broad manner. Anything from a measurable significance to a primary contributor.
Now here's the thing, the scientists who identify as "skeptics" ARE IN AGREEMENT AND PART OF THAT 97%. Who the hell are the 3% that disagree?
There are many, many claims from the climate alarmists, those who claim we need to make significant changes, changes that would have profound negative affects to the economy, in the next 10 years, or its too late, that is not part of the 97% scientific consensus.
Those on here who say the science is settled are knocking down a straw man, the science is settled on the very basics, there is much much more theory to debate and models to test.
Seems to fit in with the castle theme even though they aren't at a castle and this discussion area isn't really about castles that much.
Summary. The crossbow is easier to learn to use and doesn't require the training and conditioning that a high draw weight longbow would require. Also it can be kept at the ready, and fired from behind cover without exposing yourself as much. Its also less tiring to use since you can cock it with greater mechanical advantage then you can draw a longbow.
The longbow is much faster to fire. Contrary to what some people would think the long bow in this case penetrates better. People tend to look at the headline draw weight and think 860lbs is a lot more than 160 so it must be much more powerful, but the long bow exerts that force over a longer distance.
12 Truth Bombs from Milton Friedman As Milton Friedman wrote, "Governments never learn; only people learn." Sunday, September 29, 2019 Jon Miltimore
American economist Milton Friedman rose to prominence in the second half of the 20th century as one of the leading critics of the prevailing economic theories of John Maynard Keynes, whose mixed economy model became the standard for many developed nations during and after the World War II-era.
Born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family of modest means in 1912, Friedman distinguished himself scholastically at a young age. After graduating high school at age 16, he attended Rutgers University where he studied math and economics. He continued his education at the University of Chicago, where he received an MA in economics and would ultimately retire in 1977 after more than 30 years of teaching—a year after receiving the Nobel Prize for his contributions to economic science. Friedman continued writing and speaking publicly through various mediums—magazine columns and television, academic journals and newspaper op-eds—until his death in 2006.
12 Truth Bombs The Economist has described Friedman as “a giant among economists” and “the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century.” Here are 12 things he said to serve as food for thought:
1. "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." – >Capitalism and Freedom (2002)
3. "With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves." –Lecture "The Suicidal Impulse of the Business Community" (1983)
4. "It's a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people, who may be doing something you and I don't approve of, but who are doing something that hurts nobody else." – America's Drug Forum interview (1991)
5. "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results." – Interview with Richard Heffner on The Open Mind (Dec. 7, 1975)
7. "The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both." – From "Created Equal," an episode of the PBS Free to Choose television series (1980)
8. "Governments never learn; only people learn." – As quoted in The Cynic's Lexicon: A Dictionary Of Amoral Advice? (1984)
9. "We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don't need government at all." – As quoted in The Times Herald, Norristown, Pennsylvania (Dec. 1, 1978)
10. "The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another." – "Why Government Is the Problem" (February 1, 1993), p. 19
11. "The case for prohibiting drugs is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do." – America's Drug Forum interview (1991)
12. "There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40 percent of our national income." – Fox News interview (May 2004).
Pinker responds to some of the criticisms of the data As usual, Pinker answers in perfect, publishable English. (Nobody writes better emails!) Here’s his response to Hickel’s piece.
Not sure why I should be the one to defend the consensus on global economic development against a Marxist ideologue enabled by the Guardian—I’m just a cognitive scientist who cites data from the real experts—but here are some observations (all of them made in the chapter on Wealth in Enlightenment Now).
1. The massive fall of global extreme poverty is not a claim advanced by me, Bill Gates, or people who go to Davos, but every politically neutral observer who has looked at the data, including the Nobel laureate economist Angus Deaton in The Great Escape, the United Nations (which declared its Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty as having been met five years ahead of schedule), and other experts in global development (who bolster their data with observations they have made while they spent time in the poorest countries), such as Stephen Radelet, Charles Kenny, and the Roslings. A comprehensive overview can be found (as always) in Max Roser’s Our World in Data in the entry on Global Extreme Poverty.
2. The level at which one sets an arbitrary cutoff like “the poverty line” is irrelevant — the entire distribution has shifted, so the trend is the same wherever you set it.
3. It’s not just China, or even China plus India — many poor countries have seen spectacular poverty reductions, including Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Panama, Rwanda, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. This is on top of rich countries that not so long ago were dirt-poor, such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.
4. Hickel’s picture of the past is a romantic fairy tale, devoid of citations or evidence, and flatly contradicted by historians such as Fernand Braudel who have examined contemporary accounts of life in previous centuries, and economic historians such as Angus Maddison and his students who have tried to quantify it using wills, government records, and other data.
5. The drastic decline in extreme poverty is corroborated by measures of well-being other than income that are correlated with prosperity, such as longevity, child mortality, maternal mortality, literacy, basic education, undernourishment, and consumption of goods like clothing, food, cell phones, even beer—all have improved.
6. It’s also borne out by a sanity check from people who have actually spent time in poor countries and have observed what life is like in them—not just development experts, but also biologists I know who have visited their field sites in Africa annually for many decades, and who have remarked on changes that can be seen with the naked eye: stores that have food, kids that wear shoes, people that are overweight rather than starving, shanties replaced by cinderblock, poor people with bicycles and TVs.
7. The political agenda of Hickel and other far leftists is obvious: it’s humiliating to their world view that the data show massive improvements due to markets and globalization rather than an overthrow of capitalism and global redistribution (see the quote by David Graeber in “ Enlightenment Wars,” and the back story on Hickel’s radicalism in this article, originally published in The Telegraph).
...The important thing isn’t the line so much as the distribution: Are the world’s poorest people making more money overall? And the answer to the latter is yes, they are, as Hickel himself concedes.
This chart from a 2013 paper by Shaohua Chen, the lead development statistician at the World Bank, and Martin Ravallion requires some unpacking but illustrates the point well:
(Thanks to Ryan Briggs for the pointer.)
The x-axis represents different hypothetical poverty thresholds: $1.90 per day, $7.40 per day, all the way up to $13 per day, or roughly the US line for a family of four. Then the y-axis tells what percentage of humanity lived below that poverty line in a given year. The blue line shows the distribution for 1981, the black line for 2008; let’s just compare those two to keep things simple.
Obviously, a poverty line of $0 has no one living under it. And a poverty line of $1 billion a day would have everyone living under it. But what this chart shows is that for every poverty line between $0 and $13 per day, and potentially above that even, poverty was lower in 2008 than it was in 1981. That wasn’t true if you compared 1999 to 1981; all the progress between those years was at the very low end, so $6- or $7-a-day poverty wasn’t reduced. But we’ve reduced poverty from 1981 to 2008 using basically any threshold you could possibly want to use.
This doesn’t answer the question of what line science communicators should use. I am not as outraged as Hickel is by use of the $1.90-a-day line, as I think it shows part of a broader story that holds true for whatever poverty line you choose. But I’d personally be happy to change to $7.40 a day, which would show something very similar happening.
On absolute numbers, I fear Hickel has a weaker case. Hickel likes to note that while the share of people living under $7.40 a day has declined from 1981 to the present, the number of people living below it has increased.
“If the goal is to end poverty, what matters is absolute numbers,” he writes. “Certainly that’s what matters from the perspective of poor people themselves.”
This is the same reason that figures like Hickel’s sworn enemy Bill Gates worry about population growth in poor countries. But I think Gates is wrong about that, and that Hickel is as well. Another way of saying “the poverty rate fell while the absolute number of poor people increased” is that a lot of middle-income countries, with lots of people living on between $1.90 a day and $7.40 day, saw their populations grow. There are more Indians now, more Indonesians, more Nigerians, more Kenyans.
That’s not a bad thing. Using absolute numbers risks confusing reducing poverty with preventing poor people from existing. The latter is a much weirder and frankly more disturbing goal. The history of Western countries trying to intervene in population growth in the developing world is extraordinarily ugly, full of forced sterilizations and other human rights abuses. Part of why populations have increased, moreover, is due to profound improvement in health and food supply like the Green Revolution, smallpox eradication, malaria bednets, etc. Is the success of those policies really evidence that poverty increased?
More conceptually, it doesn’t really make sense to interpret the choice of a poor woman in India to have another kid as “increasing poverty.” What most people in the development field want to ensure is that the people who do exist, however many of them there may be, are as well off as possible. Using percentages is a better approach for that, though even percentages can be affected by population growth effects if fertility in poor countries dramatically outpaces fertility in rich countries.
When I reached out to Hickel about this issue, he pushed back, arguing that in a rich world, we should assume that any individual born into poverty is a policy failure. “In rich nations like the UK or US we would never say that a growing poverty rate has to do with reproduction,” he wrote in an email. “No, we would point out that it has to do with the minimum wage being too low, or weak labour rights, or subprime mortgages, or inflated housing prices, or whatever. We identify systemic causes, because we know that poverty amidst plenty isn’t natural, it is created. So why when it comes to the global South do we imagine otherwise?”
This feels to me a bit like an evasion of the question. We use poverty rates, not absolute numbers, in discussions of US poverty as well. But in some ways, Hickel’s response reflects the crux of the dispute between him and Roser. Roser — like most economic historians — does not view poverty as created but as the original state of humankind from its inception until the Industrial Revolution. It is a policy failure insofar as we finally have the tools to end it now and have not done so yet, but what we’re attempting to do is escape humanity’s natural, brutal conditions. Hickel sees things differently...