Sunday, September 08, 2019

Bernie Sander's "Green New Deal" is Moldy

I hesitate to argue with a politician, as I hesitate to argue with a bratty child.  Most politicians use the arts of rhetorical persuasion at a level not much higher than that a five-year old kicking her heels against the front seat of the car to get another scoop of ice cream.

But surely Bernie Sanders is a mature man?  He studied at Columbia so he must be smart, right?  He's a Jew and a socialist: both groups are generally well-read, by and large?

Sigh.  I'd heard the rumors, without really listening to the man before.  I'll listen once.  Here is the introduction to his "Green New Deal," inspired by everyone's favorite brainiac, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

"The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.

"Climate change is a global emergency. The Amazon rainforest is burning,(1) Greenland’s ice shelf is melting,(2) and the Arctic is on fire.(3)  People across the country and the world are already experiencing the deadly consequences of our climate crisis, as extreme weather events like heat waves,(4) wildfires,(5) droughts, floods,(6) and hurricanes (7) upend entire communities, ecosystems, economies, and ways of life, as well as endanger millions of lives. Communities of color,  working class people, and the global poor have borne and will bear this burden disproportionately."

(1) The Amazon rainforest is not "burning." Due to change in policies in Brazil, clearcutting (not "climate change") may have increased forest loss a bit in recent years.  People burn stretches of forest every year to plant crops.  Some 17% of 2 million square miles has been lost in the past 50 YEARS.  That means at least 83% of the forest is NOT burning right now, probably more like 99.9%.  

(2) Greenland's ice shelf always melts some in the summer. That's what the sun, which is basically parked over Greenland during the summer, does. But Greenland appears to have lost 1 part in 1000 of its glacial mass between 2002 and 2012. Sanders is telling about that much of the truth.

(3) The arctic is on fire? More hysteria, apparently.

(4) Heat waves kill people. Cold waves do, too. If the one has increased, hasn't the other decreased?  Shouldn't we compare costs and benefits, as when buying a car or picking a school?  Isn't that the adult thing to do?  Or are we just shouting to get the driver's attention and demand more ice cream (hoping the driver will give it just to avoid an accident?)  

(5) Wildfires are partly the consequence of certain environmental practices, such as allowing brush to accumulate by putting out minor fires, so big fires become really nasty when they happen.  One reason California has experienced such horrendous fires in recent years is that people have moved into dry wooded areas, where fires are put out when they occur, allowing brush to accumulate which fuels cataclysmic conflagrations.  

Unusually warm summers
may play a role, as well.  

(6) Global warming is to blame for both floods and droughts?  It sounds, then, that whatever happens, it will prove Bernie's point!  But deaths by floods have greatly lessened here in China.  And having looked long and hard for evidence supporting the claim that desertification is intensifying around the globe, what I found was a greening of the Sahel south of the Sahara Desert, normal patterns of drought in the US (play with this map over the years, and you'll see what I mean), nothing special in China, a little shift of the trade winds in Australia, and a few parched spots in the northern half of South America.  I couldn't find evidence of any fundamental change on a global scale, in either direction.  

(7) Hurricanes? Meteorologist Chris Landsea debunked that one. Damage is greater because more people live close to the ocean. The frequency or strength of hurricanes striking the US do not appear to have increased:

“There’s periods where it’s busy and quiet and busy and quiet, but no trend . . . There’s no statistical change over a 130-year period. Since 1970, the number of hurricanes globally is flat. I haven’t seen anything that suggests that the hurricane intensity is going to change dramatically. It looks like a pretty tiny change to how strong hurricanes will be. It’s not zero, but it’s in the noise level. It’s very small.”

Hurricanes have been monitored in Guangdong (Canton) Province in southern China for a thousand years or so.  One study suggests that the direction they strike (into China, into Japan and Korea, or north and out to sea) depends largely on snowfall in Tibet.

"Working class people" can't afford to live along the ocean in some states, thanks to government activism, so they may be less affected by some disasters. (Though hurricanes don't strike California, which has priced much of the working class a hundred miles from the coast, thanks to hostility to builders.) Also it's rather racist of Sanders to single out people of some skin colors for special concern. True, blacks in New Orleans took in on the chin when Katrina struck, but so did a lot of other people. 

What countries would be susceptible to sea rise? Bangladesh, sure, but also Holland. Lots of Bernie's fellow Jews in Florida were in the path of Dorian and other hurricanes. But Bernie only has eyes for black people -- ahead of the Democratic primary. What a surprise!

Can't the Left give it a rest with such racist obsessions?  Why does Sanders even bring race up in this context?  (As if we didn't all know.  Racial antipathies have become essential to Democratic hopes.)

Bernie continues his prophetic outcry:

"The scientific community is telling us in no uncertain terms that we have less than 11 years left to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, if we are going to leave this planet healthy and habitable for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and future generations."

You know what strikes me about this sentence?  The number "11."  

What's with the faux specificity?  Why not ten years?  That's "less than 11."  Why not ten years, three months, four days, ten hours, 46 minutes, and 23 seconds?  

Sanders is telling us to do something extremely vague: "transform" a national "energy system," or perhaps world energy system, to "energy efficiency and sustainable energy," whatever that means, in order to "leave this planet habitable," (or what part of it?  within what temperature, rainfall, sea level rise, etc?) for human beings.  (Or presumably robots sensitive to humanoid environmental conditions.)

And of course oil IS efficient, or it wouldn't be so difficult and expensive to make the transition to something else.  

You know someone is talking nonsense when they couple that level of specificity with orders of vagueness that would make a fog seem like Granite Mountain by comparison.  Sanders gives us a non-rounded number just to sound scientific.  The pretentiousness of his specificity, nailed to a bank of hot air, strongly suggests insincerity.

It may be that wind, solar and hydroelectric power are better for the health of our planet than fossil fuels.  But by leaving out nuclear, for political reasons, and then making his case in so obviously insincere a manner, Sanders saps his credibility, and makes one thing it's all just a political game to him.  The real end game, one suspects, lies in increasing government power over private citizens:

"As rising temperatures and extreme weather create health emergencies, drive land loss and displacement, destroy jobs, and threaten livelihoods, we must guarantee health care, housing, and a good-paying job to every American, especially to those who have been historically excluded from economic prosperity."

Race again!  What a surprise!  (Yes, that is what he's talking about -- dog whistles, you know.)

But shouldn't rising temperatures also drive additions to agricultural lands?  I mean, if the world warms, won't that put millions of acres in Russia, Canada, and the United States, and maybe Tibet, under the plow?  Surely it's an ill hot wind that blows no one well.  But a politician's manifesto is like the old SAT essays: no one expects a serious argument in 25 minutes from a high school kid, or in 80 years from a senator running for higher office.  So we let them get away with stacking decks and picking cherries in lieu of honest argumentation.    

Sanders is, however, glad to open the spigots of the Federal Reserve to make sure everyone has a healthy income AND a house AND health care.  What, you say the Federal Reserve is $22 trillion in debt?  That's a minus sign in the federal accounts, not a plus sign?  Never mind, I'm sure those children, grandchildren, and future generations Sanders mentioned earlier will be HAPPY to pay for this generation's generosity to voters.  We're already in hock to the state for our houses.  (By that I mean, my family's share of the debt Sanders and his buddies have already accumulated for the federal government, is roughly equal to the value of our home.)

Most politicians seem to have a hard time keeping their hands to themselves, whether it's money, women, or both that they reach for. 

"The scope of the challenge ahead of us shares similarities with the crisis faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s. Battling a world war on two fronts—both in the East and the West—the United States came together, and within three short years restructured the entire economy in order to win the war and defeat fascism."

We don't have a world war.  But our government can still spend national produce, present and future, as if we had one!  Kind of like the Soviet 5 year plans!  Good idea, Bernie!  I'm SURE you know how to spend our money better than we do!  (And our grandkids' money.)

"As president, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis and act immediately to mobilize millions of people across the country in support of the Green New Deal. From the Oval Office to the streets, Bernie will generate the political will necessary for a wholesale transformation of our society, with support for frontline and vulnerable communities and massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system."

Beware when a socialist talks about "mobilizing" the masses.  He means "force you to do stuff you don't want to do."  

"Massive investments."  While we're giving everyone a house, free health care, and good-paying job (whether or not they have skills worth good pay, or can be bothered to stay awake on the job), we'll also spend hundreds of billions of dollars on trains, solar panels, wind mills, but not nuclear power plants.  Thanks, kids!  Thanks, grandkids!  My family's portion of the National Debt is already some $280,000!  We owe that to the federal government's debtors!  Now Bernie here is going to double that!  So a huge percentage of our yearly taxes will go to . . . interest on the national debt!  To nothing, in other words!   Taxes, taxes, taxes, and NOTHING in return!

What a splendid promise!  

 "We need a president who has the courage, the vision, and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action. We need a president who welcomes their hatred. Bernie will lead our country to enact the Green New Deal and bring the world together to defeat the existential threat of climate change."

We certainly need a president with courage and vision.  But we don't need this hate-mongering, dishonest old demagogue.  

The US government takes trillions of dollars from the people every year, and gives us back . . . some things we want, and some we could do without.  

The "greedy" fossil fuel companies find oil around the world, invent machines to drill and press and extract it, on land and under the ocean, in all kinds of environment, ship or pipe it to refineries, refine the chemicals into a variety of useful products, set up gas stations all around the country (and world), ship gas to those stations, and make it available for about $3 a gallon, including taxes paid to the oh-not-greedy-at-all governments.  

I'm impressed by the oil companies.  I'm grateful for the services they provide: they clearly make my life much better.  

What has Bernie Sanders done for me, to compare with what Jeff Bezos and the people who work for him have done?   Amazon gets stuff I want to my door quickly.  It has also made my hometown richer, which has been a mixed blessing -- harder for our family to buy anywhere near Seattle, but providing Mom a decent retirement with the sale of her house.  

Bernie Sanders wishes to stoke hatred of these people in a form of class warfare borrowed from Karl Marx and other hate-mongering demagogues.  He wishes us all to cheer on Goliath Government as it hacks little David to pieces.  

I have heard rumors of Sanders, but the man I find on his website lives down to, or even below, those rumors.  It is a pity so many Americans find such "ideas" and such a person attractive.


Loren said...

A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - YouTube - a very nice video. AOC herself narrates it.

We are already starting to see some very bad effects of global warming. Increasing heatwaves - the warmest years on record - and increasing strength of hurricanes. Too hot and it will be very difficult to grow a lot of crops, and as a result, large numbers of people will starve. A Cat 5 hurricane that hits Miami will devastate that city so much that much of it is likely to be abandoned and insurance companies will likely be overloaded by the resulting insurance claims.

Global warming, climate change more generally, is the consensus of the scientific community. It's not just Al Gore or Bernie Sanders or AOC or whoever else one might want to make into a big villain.

Massive investments in renewable energy are necessary to avoid emitting too much CO2, and reforestation and the like are good for capturing CO2. Renewable energy has become economically competitive with fossil fuels for electricity generation, and it's a matter of time before it does so for powering vehicles.

Loren said...

As to Bernie Sanders and AOC being socialists, they are really social democrats, much like northern Europe and Canada.

If one wants to consider Big Business absolutely perfect, I note that Big Business has given us (1) the "liberal" media, (2) the firing of James Damore by Google, and (3) the dropping of Alex Jones's channels by some social-media companies.

David B Marshall said...

Loren: I couldn't care less what AOC "thinks." Good heavens, do you think I need to be taught by that silly young woman?

I mentioned heat waves. What about fewer cold spells? If you mentioned one without mentioning the other, you're not thinking objectively about the matter. A cost-benefit analysis needs to take both into account.

I also mentioned hurricanes. It is unlikely that AGW has had ANY detrimental effect via hurricanes so far.

Your comments give me the impression you're not really reading and responding, just rattling off stale talking points.

I have certainly never made the ridiculous claim that Big Business is "perfect." I don't even say that about my kids.

Loren said...

It's not just us. It's also our crop plants. We depend on them for our food and for feeding our farm animals. If it gets too hot for them, then they can't grow, and they may die.

Also, I find AOC often very intelligent and very thoughtful and very insightful -- wise beyond her years. Yes, she makes mistakes, and yes, she sometimes seems very muddled, and yes, there are gaps in her knowledge, but she is sometimes very good. Look beyond Fox News and similar publications, and look at what she herself has said.

David B Marshall said...

I don't know of anywhere in the world that is "too hot" for plants to grow. Too dry, yes. But the Amazon, which is tropical, is said to hold a particularly high biomass AND diversity. And CO2 has the general effect of causing plants to thrive. So again, I think you need to look at this question from both sides.

I seldom watch Fox News.