Austin Voted to Defund the Police, its Murder Rate Rose 67%

Austin Voted to Defund the Police, its Murder Rate Rose 67%

Defund the police and the death rate will follow.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

The Austin City Council voted unanimously to defund the police.

“We don’t need somebody who’s a sworn officer and a gun in order to be able to accomplish what the community needs done,” Mayor Steve Adler falsely claimed.

Austin’s proposed budget targeted millions in cuts. These included 100 vacant police positions, delaying the next cadet class, delaying the replacement of duty weapons, and there were proposals by some Democrats council members to shut down the police academy, cut the bomb squad budget, and even demolish the city’s downtown police headquarters.

The proposed budget also includes a 3.5% tax increase.

Politicians limited the ability of police officers to use force against criminals and barred them from using pepper spray and tear gas against the violent mobs of Black Lives Matter rioters.

Now Austin is number one with a bullet after its homicide rate increase passed every major city.

Overtaking more violent cities like Chicago, left behind at number two, Philly at number six, and New York at number eight, Austin had the highest percentage homicide rate increase. Like the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in the 1980 Winter Olympics, Austin is the underdog that came from behind to blow everyone away with its ability to rack up bodies even faster than vegan soy hot dogs.

Austin’s percentage rate increased 64% over the year and 67% in June.

It just goes to show that even an underperforming bunch of criminals can really accomplish great things when the politicians get behind them and get the cops off their backs. If you don’t believe that defunding the police works, just stop by an Austin morgue.

Adelaido Bernabe Urias, a 68-year-old Mexican immigrant, was pushing hisice cream cart past a housing project when Marquis Davis, Jermaine Jones, and Devlon Wardy, allegedly pretended they wanted to buy ice cream from him, demanded money, and then shot the elderly man.

When some Karen called the police, the dying Mexican ice cream vendor told officers that he had been shot by three black men becoming an accomplice to the system of racist policing.

The perps were caught after the Austin Greater Crime Commission and the Austin Police Association, who had spoken out against police defunding, put up the reward money.

The Austin Justice Coalition, advocates for police defunding, didn’t bother contributing their funds to catching Urias’ murderers. His life was not the kind of life that ‘matters’ to them.

Jermaine Jones had posted a photo with a gun on his Facebook page before the murder.

The police had busted Marquis Davis a few days before the murder for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but fortunately they let him go because the enlightened progressives of Austin understand that bail is racist and criminals must be freed from prison so they don’t get sick.

Davis didn’t catch the Wuhan Virus in prison. Instead he may have killed someone’s grandpa.

The thug was freed with an ankle monitor. Pro-crime progressives insist that an ankle monitor is just as good as locking up a criminal behind bars. Urias could not be reached for comment.

The Mexican immigrant started selling ice cream after being laid off during the pandemic. Now the ice cream man is gone. And that’s the price we pay for a society that is kinder to criminals and crueler to their victims. We can have ice cream men or criminals on the loose, but not both.

There is lots of good news from Austin.

Not only were murders up 67% in June, but justifiable homicides had gone up 200%. When you defund the police, some people won’t lie down and die for the thugs.

Robberies were up 50%, aggravated assaults were up 10%, and incest was up 100%.

Over the year so far, extortion is up 113%, stolen property is up 71%, prostitution is up 138%, and bribery is up 100%. How these may be interrelated is left as an exercise for the reader.

Between the incest and the extortion, the robberies and the bribery, the stolen property and prostitution, things are great. And that’s before defunding the police has even really kicked in.

Austin progressives have finally made sure that the police won’t be shooting anyone.

Like Maurice Pierce, who was shot and killed at a traffic spot ten years ago after he grabbed a knife from a police officer’s belt and cut him. Pierce had been one of the suspects in Austin’s infamous yogurt shop murders, in which the charred naked bodies of four teenage girls were found in a burned shop. After the latest police reform measures, Pierce would still be alive.

None of this has caused advocates of defunding the police to rethink their position.

“The City has started down the path toward ending this injustice but we have further to go and we must stay the course to redefine public safety in Austin,” City Manager Spencer Cronk had boasted.

It’s safe to say that public safety in Austin has been redefined. And staying the course will really redefine it. Defunding the police has helped put Austin alongside Chicago on the growth list of homicides. And while Austin is still lagging its older more murderous brother by a lot, violence is a growth industry and the hipster hellhole is showing real promise.

Austin’s Democrat leaders have claimed that they are just giving the “community” what it wants. But most Austin residents are opposed to defunding the police and getting rid of cops.

A poll by the Greater Austin Crime Commission found that 53% of city residents don’t want a reduction in the number of cops. Nearly half of city residents think that Austin is on  the wrong track and only a third think it’s going the right way. The right way being straight to hell.

But as long as they keep voting for radicals, nothing will change. Except for the worse.

Before this year, playing a word association game with Austin would have produced answers like, “annoying hipsters”, “vegan bakeries”, and “obscure indie bands.”

Now that word association game has another answer: murder.

Defund the police and the death rate will follow.

Austin Voted to Defund the Police, its Murder Rate Rose 67%

Defund the police and the death rate will follow.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

The Austin City Council voted unanimously to defund the police.

“We don’t need somebody who’s a sworn officer and a gun in order to be able to accomplish what the community needs done,” Mayor Steve Adler falsely claimed.

Austin’s proposed budget targeted millions in cuts. These included 100 vacant police positions, delaying the next cadet class, delaying the replacement of duty weapons, and there were proposals by some Democrats council members to shut down the police academy, cut the bomb squad budget, and even demolish the city’s downtown police headquarters.

The proposed budget also includes a 3.5% tax increase.

Politicians limited the ability of police officers to use force against criminals and barred them from using pepper spray and tear gas against the violent mobs of Black Lives Matter rioters.

Now Austin is number one with a bullet after its homicide rate increase passed every major city.

Overtaking more violent cities like Chicago, left behind at number two, Philly at number six, and New York at number eight, Austin had the highest percentage homicide rate increase. Like the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in the 1980 Winter Olympics, Austin is the underdog that came from behind to blow everyone away with its ability to rack up bodies even faster than vegan soy hot dogs.

Austin’s percentage rate increased 64% over the year and 67% in June.

It just goes to show that even an underperforming bunch of criminals can really accomplish great things when the politicians get behind them and get the cops off their backs. If you don’t believe that defunding the police works, just stop by an Austin morgue.

Adelaido Bernabe Urias, a 68-year-old Mexican immigrant, was pushing hisice cream cart past a housing project when Marquis Davis, Jermaine Jones, and Devlon Wardy, allegedly pretended they wanted to buy ice cream from him, demanded money, and then shot the elderly man.

When some Karen called the police, the dying Mexican ice cream vendor told officers that he had been shot by three black men becoming an accomplice to the system of racist policing.

The perps were caught after the Austin Greater Crime Commission and the Austin Police Association, who had spoken out against police defunding, put up the reward money.

The Austin Justice Coalition, advocates for police defunding, didn’t bother contributing their funds to catching Urias’ murderers. His life was not the kind of life that ‘matters’ to them.

Jermaine Jones had posted a photo with a gun on his Facebook page before the murder.

The police had busted Marquis Davis a few days before the murder for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but fortunately they let him go because the enlightened progressives of Austin understand that bail is racist and criminals must be freed from prison so they don’t get sick.

Davis didn’t catch the Wuhan Virus in prison. Instead he may have killed someone’s grandpa.

The thug was freed with an ankle monitor. Pro-crime progressives insist that an ankle monitor is just as good as locking up a criminal behind bars. Urias could not be reached for comment.

The Mexican immigrant started selling ice cream after being laid off during the pandemic. Now the ice cream man is gone. And that’s the price we pay for a society that is kinder to criminals and crueler to their victims. We can have ice cream men or criminals on the loose, but not both.

There is lots of good news from Austin.

Not only were murders up 67% in June, but justifiable homicides had gone up 200%. When you defund the police, some people won’t lie down and die for the thugs.

Robberies were up 50%, aggravated assaults were up 10%, and incest was up 100%.

Over the year so far, extortion is up 113%, stolen property is up 71%, prostitution is up 138%, and bribery is up 100%. How these may be interrelated is left as an exercise for the reader.

Between the incest and the extortion, the robberies and the bribery, the stolen property and prostitution, things are great. And that’s before defunding the police has even really kicked in.

Austin progressives have finally made sure that the police won’t be shooting anyone.

Like Maurice Pierce, who was shot and killed at a traffic spot ten years ago after he grabbed a knife from a police officer’s belt and cut him. Pierce had been one of the suspects in Austin’s infamous yogurt shop murders, in which the charred naked bodies of four teenage girls were found in a burned shop. After the latest police reform measures, Pierce would still be alive.

None of this has caused advocates of defunding the police to rethink their position.

“The City has started down the path toward ending this injustice but we have further to go and we must stay the course to redefine public safety in Austin,” City Manager Spencer Cronk had boasted.

It’s safe to say that public safety in Austin has been redefined. And staying the course will really redefine it. Defunding the police has helped put Austin alongside Chicago on the growth list of homicides. And while Austin is still lagging its older more murderous brother by a lot, violence is a growth industry and the hipster hellhole is showing real promise.

Austin’s Democrat leaders have claimed that they are just giving the “community” what it wants. But most Austin residents are opposed to defunding the police and getting rid of cops.

A poll by the Greater Austin Crime Commission found that 53% of city residents don’t want a reduction in the number of cops. Nearly half of city residents think that Austin is on  the wrong track and only a third think it’s going the right way. The right way being straight to hell.

But as long as they keep voting for radicals, nothing will change. Except for the worse.

Before this year, playing a word association game with Austin would have produced answers like, “annoying hipsters”, “vegan bakeries”, and “obscure indie bands.”

Now that word association game has another answer: murder.

Defund the police and the death rate will follow.

The Dangerous Illusion of “Safe” Drug Injection Sites

The Dangerous Illusion of “Safe” Drug Injection Sites

Hudson Institute

David W. Murray

Drug overdose deaths are rising again nationally, soon to surpass the current 70,000-person annual toll. In response, some “harm reduction” advocates want to establish legally sanctioned consumption sites, where drug users are permitted to inject illicit drugs they purchase on the street, while being watched by clinical staff.

How could such sites, sustaining continued drug use, possibly stem the epidemic? Advocates point to one positive outcome, learned from the experience of an “unsanctioned” facility operated in secret for five years, in contravention of federal law – no one has died within the facility from a drug overdose. That outcome was reported in the July 8 New England Journal of Medicine ( NEJM ), offered in apparent support for legal recognition of such “safe” injection facilities in American cities.

But a closer look should give us serious pause that enabling continued drug injection is truly “safe,” and that we are not, in actual practice, promoting more harm than good.

The main finding was that in the course of 10,514 injection events at the site (open 5 days a week, for several hours a day, between 2014 and 2019), there were 33 opioid-involved overdoses, with no fatalities while the victim was on clinic property.

In the event of an overdose, naloxone, an antidote that reverses the respiratory depression that follows over-consumption of opioids, was administered. Once revived, the overdose victims were returned to the neighborhood streets.

However, the reported data did not show any decrease in high-risk behavior – if anything, they show just the opposite. Participation in facility services did not reduce either the number of injections, nor the number of overdose events, over time, raising the concern that “approved” consumption sites may actually lessen the incentive for participants to enter treatment and recovery.

Though we learn that some participants did stop using the site, because of factors such as “incarceration, death, or leaving town,” we are not told the percentage of this attrition, which is not a minor concern, given that drug users’ participation in such sites is at best intermittent, and further, those who disappear from participation are often the very persons most a risk.

Critically, there remains one overwhelming challenge to the claim that the facilities are actually safe, for participants and the community. A disclaimer in the NEJM report reveals that the researchers “did not collect data related to the behaviors of participants when they were not using the site, which means we do not know if they overdosed or died elsewhere.”

That is, those participating in the consumption site continued to also inject illicit drugs in locations beyond the facility borders, risking not only overdose but also using contaminated drugs or injection equipment, without staff intervention.

Not uncommonly, drug users inject multiple times a day, and as studies of comparable facilities in both Sidney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada show, the consumption site simply becomes one more place in which to consume drugs, providing for only a fraction of an addict’s aggregate exposure. We now know that only a relatively small proportion of all injections transpire at such facilities, and the reason is drug users’ preferences, not just the limited number of days or hours of site operation.

This reality explains why communities that operate such sites, like Vancouver, still suffer record-high overdose deaths, year over year. It is a virtue, to be sure, that no overdose deaths are recorded on site property, but still the overdoses mount up, in the streets and neighborhoods beyond the facility. That is, the aggregate risk to lives is not lessened.

Further, overdosing is not the only adverse health risk. There is also the impact of the continued drug exposure itself on participants’ health status, such as risk to their immune system, the disruption of their endocrine system, or the risk of deadly conditions such as endocarditis or wound sepsis, each associated with continued injection drug use.

Finally, we learn that participants did not just inject opioids, but also cocaine and methamphetamine, either alone or in combination with an opioid (opioid-only injections constituted only about 25 percent of injections by the end of the study period.)

This fact strikes at the mission of the facility itself, as the only antidote they possess is for opioids, there being no naloxone equivalent for reversing stimulant drug overdoses.

The failure of this “solution” is that we have not changed drug users’ fundamental high-risk behavior, but rather are perpetuating it. There is an alternative public policy, which is to secure drug treatment programs capable of altering high-risk behavior. Supporting strenuous outreach and treatment should be our strongest policy resort, not a program that effectively enables continued self-destruction.

“Safe” consumption facilities do not make injection drug users safe. When seen in the aggregate, they may well contribute to overall greater risk, allowing drug dealers to congregate without police interference, while users’ physical tolerance, abetted by social, legal, and normative tolerance of the high-risk behavior, undermines deterrence and prevention initiatives. Changing federal law to enable, in American cities, the official operation of such facilities does not represent sound public health policy.

David W. Murray is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute where he co-directs the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. While serving previous posts as chief scientist and associate deputy director (supply reduction) in the federal government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Murray directed extensive scientific research on all aspects of the drug problem and helped coordinate high-level inter-agency efforts to limit the production of illicit drugs and counter the transnational criminal organizations that control their global shipment and marketing.

Before entering government, Dr. Murray was executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service and held academic appointments at Connecticut College and Brown, Brandeis, and Georgetown Universities. He is the author of numerous scholarly papers, essays, and commentaries; co-author (with Joel Schwartz and S. Robert Lichter) of the widely-noted book It Ain’t Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality; and a frequent guest on major network television and radio programs.

Dr. Murray holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Chicago.

The Dirty Secret Of Electric Vehicles

The Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric Vehicles

Tilak Doshi

The widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries, perhaps with the exception of the Trump-led US administration. Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe. The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.

Mining out of sight, out of mind

Let’s start with Elon Musk’s Tesla. In an astonishing achievement for a company that has now posted four consecutive quarters of profits, Tesla is now the world’s most valuable automotive company. Demand for EVs is set to soar, as government policies subsidize the purchase of EVs to replace the internal combustion engine of gasoline and diesel-driven cars and as owning a “clean” and “green” car becomes a moral testament to many a virtue-signaling customer.

Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. The most important component in the EV is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery which relies on critical mineral commodities such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese. Tracing the source of these minerals, in what is called “full-cycle economics”, it becomes apparent that EVs create a trail of dirt from the mining and processing of minerals upstream.

A recent United Nations report warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental and labour regulations are weak or non-existent. Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour.

Mindful of what the image of children scrabbling for hand-dug minerals in Africa can do to high tech’s clean and green image, most tech and auto companies using cobalt and other toxic heavy metals avoid direct sourcing from mines. Tesla Inc. TSLA -2.5%struck a deal last month with Swiss-based Glencore Plc to buy as much as 6,000 tons of cobalt annually from the latter’s Congolese mines. While Tesla has said it aims to remove reputational risks associated with sourcing minerals from countries such as the DRC where corruption is rampant, Glencore  assures buyers that no hand-dug cobalt is treated at its mechanized mines.

There are 7.2 million battery EVs or about 1% of the total vehicle fleet today. To get an idea of the scale of mining for raw materials involved in replacing the world’s gasoline and diesel-fueled cars with EVs, we can take the example of the UK as provided by Michael Kelly, the Emeritus Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge. According to Professor Kelly, if we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs,  assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials: about twice the annual global production of cobalt; three quarters of the world’s production lithium carbonate; nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and more than half the world’s production of copper in 2018.

And this is just for the UK. Professor Kelly estimates that if we want the whole world to be transported by electric vehicles, the vast increases in the supply of the raw materials listed above would go far beyond known reserves. The environmental and social impact of vastly-expanded mining for these materials — some of which are highly toxic when mined, transported and processed – in countries afflicted by corruption and poor human rights records can only be imagined. The clean and green image of EVs stands in stark contrast to the realities of manufacturing batteries.

Zero Emissions and All That

Proponents of EVs might counter by saying that despite these evident environmental and social problems associated with mining in many third world countries, the case remains that EVs help reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with the internal combustion engines run on gasoline and diesel fuels. According to the reigning climate change narrative, it is after all carbon dioxide emissions that are threatening environmental catastrophe on a global scale. For the sake of saving the world, the climate crusaders of the richer nations might be willing to ignore the local pollution and human rights violations involved in mining for minerals and rare earths in Africa, China, Latin America and elsewhere.

While one might question the inherent inequity in imposing such a trade-off, the supposed advantages of EVs in emitting lower carbon emissions are overstated according to a peer-reviewed life-cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles. To begin with, about half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially in the mining and processing of raw materials needed for the battery. This compares unfavorably with the manufacture of a gasoline-powered car which accounts for 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When a new EV appears in the show-room, it has already caused 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The equivalent amount for manufacturing a conventional car is 14,000 pounds.

Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gasoline-powered car. Even without reference to the source of electricity used for battery charging, if an EV is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the EV will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Even if the EV is driven for 90,000 miles and the battery is charged by cleaner natural-gas fueled power stations, it will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than a gasoline-powered car. As the skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “This is a far cry from ‘zero emissions’”.

As most ordinary people mindful of keeping within modest budgets choose affordable gasoline or diesel-powered cars, experts and policy advisors the world over have felt compelled to tilt the playing field in favor of EVs. EV subsidies are regressive: given their high upfront cost, EVs are only  affordable for high-income households. It is egregious that EV subsides are funded by the average tax-payer so that the rich can buy their EVs at subsidized prices.

The determination not to know or to look away when the facts assail our beliefs is an enduring frailty of human nature. The tendency towards group think and confirmation bias, and the will to affirm the “scientific consensus” and marginalize sceptics, are rife in considerations by the so-called experts committed to advocating their favorite cause. In the case of EVs, the dirty secrets of “clean energy” should seem apparent to all but, alas, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

If Your Country Is A Part Of The Paris Agreement It Could Find Itself Lacking Sovereignty Like The British

The Revenge Of The Paris Agreement

From Hoover Institute Website
Monday, March 2, 2020

 

The English Court of Appeal handed down a blockbuster decision last week which held that the British Government had to take into account the impact on global warming from adding a long-planned and long-delayed third runway to Heathrow Airport. The reason: Britain’s decision to sign the Paris Agreement of December 2015.  The Heathrow runway project is estimated to cost some £14 billion and take until 2028 to complete. When completed, the third runway would accommodate 700 additional flights per day, which would significantly increase carbon emissions.

The judicial decision did not scrap the project, but it branded as “legally fatal” the transportation authority’s failure to consider British obligations under the Paris Agreement in formulating its Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS), which sets the standards for the expansion of Heathrow. Accordingly, any new determination to build the third runway there—or indeed any other airport expansion—could easily be challenged again given that ANPS uses an open-ended test that requires the transportation authority to prepare “an Environmental Impact Assessment to identify, describe and assess effects on human beings, fauna and flora, soil, water, air, climate, the landscape, material assets and cultural heritage, and the interaction between them.” (¶ 4.12).

The Government has decided not appeal the decision, and it is uncertain exactly what the new inquiry must cover. But the court did stress that “the Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement was clearly part of ‘Government policy,’” which “followed from the solemn act of the United Kingdom’s ratification of [the Paris Agreement] in November 2016.” At the same time, the waters are further muddied as the airport owners have indicated their intention to press forward with a judicial appeal to a higher court.

As might be expected, public opinion on the matter was sharply divided. On the one side, business and professional groups have lamented the airport’s inability to end the chronic overcrowding and delay at London’s two major airports (London Gatwick is the other). They fear that the ruling puts on hold British economic advances in the post-Brexit world. On the other side, environmental groups joyously stressed the wider implications: “The bell is tolling on the carbon economy loud and clear.”

This recent set of developments has broad implications on both the legal and political fronts. On the former, this ruling is the first ever to examine the interaction between the Paris Agreement and the domestic law of any of the signatory nations. Previously, that interaction was somewhat unclear because the Agreement’s core substantive commitment stems from the dubious decision to limit “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels” in order to reduce the risk of global climate change.

Yet, the Paris Agreement does not impose any binding legal requirements on its signatories. Its only substantive commitment requires each Party to “prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions that it intends to achieve.” This broad language was a strict necessity, as there was no agreed-upon framework on how a system of tighter legal restrictions could be either designed or implemented. But it was at least possible to think that since the Paris Agreement had no teeth, each national government could decide exactly how and when to implement it. With that understanding, there would be no necessary treaty obligation for the British Government to address in the Heathrow expansion. But this ruling controls, even in the absence of any legislation from Parliament.

The point has obvious implications for President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2017, which I fully supported. These oblique modifications of national law could prove exceptionally dangerous in the United States, where enhancing the already extensive and exacting disclosure requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) would further slow down major projects that take too long to complete as it is. Thus, there would have certainly been major judicial battles over whether the signing onto the Paris Agreement would have limited the ability of the Trump Administration to propose major changes in NEPA regulations, which the administration did in January 2020.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has continuously been denounced for shattering the fragile equilibrium whereby all nations try, by example, to egg others on to higher levels of climate compliance. After all, why should any other nation bother trying to curb global warming if the United States (not to mention China and India) will always undercut what limited “gains” those other countries could achieve on their own? America’s lack of leadership on climate leadership, many believe, has doomed the Paris Agreement.

Recent events, however, show the shallowness of this argument. Implicit in the Paris Agreement are two assumptions. The first is that without government action, there will be major temperature increases; and the second is that these increases will in turn cause major dislocations.

The first assumption has been called into question by the decline in global temperatures from 2016 to 2018, a fact which should shake the notion that there is any simple and direct correspondence between carbon dioxide levels and temperature. Amid the constant calls for new action, there is powerful recent evidence that the state of the world economy on all relevant issues of life expectancy, agricultural production, disease prevalence, and wealth inequality has sharply improved.

It is also the case that much of the leadership on environmental issues has come from the United States, which has observed since 2015 a consistent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, without joining the Paris Accords. Thus over the last ten years, market responses to price changes and pollution controls have resulted in a reduction in the use of coal by about 50 percent, which is coupled with a rough doubling of natural gas production, resulting in an aggregate decline in carbon dioxide emissions of about 2 percent in 2019. Notably, the United States met the Paris Agreement’s goals for emissions reduction, even as it has outpaced the rest of the world in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. It is therefore impossible to blame the disintegration of the agreement on the decision of the United States to withdraw from it. Perhaps if everyone followed the decentralized U.S. example, carbon emissions would be lower than they are today.

This complicated mosaic has powerful implications for the British impasse. Interestingly, on the same day that the Court of Appeal sidelined the Heathrow expansion on climate grounds, the same panel of justices upheld in a different case the initial decision of the transportation authorities to approve the disputed third Heathrow runway expansion, the so-called Northwest Runway (NWR), over the alternatively proposed Extended Northern Runway (ENR). The Court noted that the Airport Commission had determined that the NWR proposal outperformed the ENR scheme along the dimensions of capacity, respite, noise concentration, air quality and resilience, even though more homes would have to be leveled to implement the NWR than ENR. So even though the Court did not ban the third runway and has found it proper on all other grounds.

This finding raises a collateral question: Now that the case is back before the planning authorities, just how should global warming be taken into account? The obvious objection is that more planes will lead to more emissions. But that simple syllogism is falsified in a number of ways. First, if the new runway is not constructed, will the authorities be able to increase the utilization of existing runways to meet rising demand? If not, what are the consequences of planes being diverted elsewhere? Would this lead to additional emissions from all other transportation facilities? What estimates should be made about the continued reduction in emissions per flight owing to rapid changes in airplane technology, already evident over the past decade? What about other improvements in carbon emissions elsewhere in the economy that will ease the sting of climate change? And given the recent ruling, will older and less efficient trucks, cars, trains, and ships remain in service?

Clearly, the key difficulty in answering any of these questions is the vain effort to reliably project emissions estimates into the future. Therefore, the proper institutional response is to find ways to postpone various decisions as long as possible so that we can acquire better information about both the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming and the effects of global warming on economic growth and human well-being. At this point, an additional runway gives greater options for sustained economic development while still allowing for sensible social control. Undeniably, it is possible to vary taxes on emissions and accordingly limit the number of flights on all three runways in ways that will increase overall transportation output per any given level of social harm.

The opponents of the third runway may announce happily that this recent ruling will lead to the end of fossil fuels. Yet owing to the massive limitations of solar and wind energy to meet an ever-rising demand, they may quickly come to rue their recent court victory.

China ‘Captures ‘ Iran and Saudi Arabia

China’s Geostrategic Priorities Become Clear: Oil not Wind…

  • Date: 07/08/20
  • Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor

China’s offshore wind installations for 2019 and its plans for the end of the decade are catching headlines. Less well reported, in the United Kingdom at least, is the vastly more significant evidence that China is acting firmly to reduce western influence in the Persian Gulf and thus secure Middle Eastern oil supplies on a scale dwarfing current and probable future wind energy output. China’s offshore wind(ow) dressing should be discounted entirely; Beijing’s engineer bureaucrats know that oil is the key to an energy policy that serves their national interest.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has published its Global Offshore Wind Report 2020, and the Guardian has naively reported its main conclusions with enthusiasm: “China poised to power huge growth in global offshore wind energy”.

Installations of offshore wind for 2019 were dominated by Europe and by China, who together account for 6 GW out of a global total of 6.1 GW. China was the largest single installer at 2.4 GW, closely followed by the United Kingdom at 1.8 GW, and then Germany with 1.1 GW.

China now has a total installed capacity of about 6 GW, still behind the United Kingdom’s figure of about 9 GW, but clearly catching up quickly. Indeed, GWEC anticipates that China’s installation rate will continue at between 3 and 6 GW per year throughout the coming decade, delivering an additional 52 GW over that period, and a total approaching 60 GW by 2030.

In European terms that is a very large capacity, roughly equivalent to peak winter load on the UK system for example, but in the Chinese context it is a minor element.

Supposing, very generously, a 50% load factor, that 60 GW of Chinese offshore wind, if it is ever built, would generate some 260 TWh of electrical energy per annum, equivalent to well over 50% of United Kingdom’s total annual electricity generation. China, however, generates over 6,500 TWh of electrical energy per year at present, with about 300 TWh of that, just under 5% currently being obtained from windpower on- and offshore.

Furthermore, Chinese electricity consumption has increased by nearly 1000% on its 1990 level, and is still rising rapidly, as can be seen clearly in the following chart from the International Energy Agency:

Figure 1: Electricity generation in the People’s Republic of China, 1990-2017. Source: International Energy Agency.

One recent authoritative forecast suggests that China’s electricity demand might top 10,300 TWh in 2030, rising to 12,700 TWh in 2050.

Figure 2: Electricity Demand in China: 2015 (actual) projected to 2050. Source: Michael Meidan, Glimpses of China’s Energy Future (Oxford Institute for Energy Studies: 2019).

The same projection suggests a total of about 1,000 TWh of wind energy onshore and offshore in 2030 wind, comprising about 10% of China’s electricity generation, which is dominated by conventional energy, coal, gas, hydro, and remains so even in 2050.

The Global Wind Energy Council hype collapses into dust as the sunlight of fact falls upon it. Even very rapid growth in Chinese offshore wind capacity, gigantic as it appears in the European mind, will be only slightly better than marking time in the overall context of Chinese growth.

China’s electricity system is and for many years will continue to be firmly ballasted by cheap coal and gas to contain costs and maintain system security. For such a vast and conservatively engineered system 60 GW of offshore wind is an affordable gesture, and emphatically not a high risk, farm-betting, commitment. For other smaller economies and markets the projected growth is very different, and the United Kingdom, for example, is already dangerously over-exposed. China is simply dressing the window.

It is obvious that the government of the People’s Republic has concluded that renewables are not where their country’s interest lies. The engineer bureaucrats of Beijing understand thermodynamics as well as anybody and they are clearly aware that conventional energy is indispensable to their national ambitions and their security, and it is on conventional energy that China’s wolf warrior diplomats are focusing their minds.

In recent weeks it has become known that China has signed an economic co-operation deal with Iran, with China promising $400 billion of infrastructure investment over twenty-five years, presumably in a non-convertible form,  in return for privileged access to Iran’s oil: “Pourquoi le mystérieux traité entre l’Iran et la Chine inquiète tant”, FigaroVox, 28 July 2020; “Defying U.S., China and Iran Near Trade and Military Partnership” New York Times 11 July 2020.

The promised Chinese investment amounts to about $16 billion per year on average, which is close to the historic value of Iran’s total annual oil exports of $19 billion per year (OPEC), suggesting that China may become the predominant perhaps even the sole customer of Iranian oil exports.

Iran is heavily dependent on the value of oil exports, which are about 1/4 of all its exports and 4% of total GDP, so for the comparatively trivial sum of $16 billion a year China has acquired a substantial degree of control over the Iranian economy, created an income stream for Chinese state owned construction companies,  and also secured Iranian oil exports for its own use.

Iran has proven reserves of about 200 billion barrels, and it exports about 350 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per year. That is approximately 550 TWh of exported oil energy per year, available now, and nearly twice the hoped for output of the 60 GW of offshore wind that China may never in fact build by 2030.

As if this were not enough, in the last few days media in the United States have reported that US security services are currently investigating alarming signs that China may have been assisting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the construction of a nuclear processing plant, presumably for something more than mere cash in return (“U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort”). As the New York Times puts it:

Saudi Arabia’s work with the Chinese suggests that the Saudis may have now given up on the United States and turned to China instead to begin building the multibillion dollar infrastructure needed to produce nuclear fuel. China has traditionally not insisted on such strict nonproliferation safeguards, and is eager to lock in Saudi oil supplies.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing in 2019. China is helping the Saudis develop nuclear fuel production ability.Credit…Liu Weibing/Xinhua, via Associated Press

The Iran co-operation pact and the Saudi nuclear project are not the actions of a country that believes the future belongs to renewable energy and that fossil fuels are stranded assets. China’s government knows that oil remains of the first importance, and it aims to seize those valuable resources while the West is distracted by the shiny toys of wind and solar and foolishly thinks fossil fuels are history.

It is depressing to note that neither of these remarkable stories has yet had much coverage in Europe, though the Figaro article, cited above, is a notable exception. Both matters should be front page news, an ice-cold shower of reality for day-dreaming Europeans, dozing Brits. Western political discussion has become so neurotically obsessed with the distal and poorly understood threats of climate change, and is so ignorant of the underlying physical realities of wealth and strategic interest that we have all but completely forgotten what a well-designed, pragmatic and rational energy policy looks like. China’s activities in and around the Persian Gulf are a stern and intimidating reminder.

Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor.

China Is Not Our Friend, Mr. Trudeau!

 

From National Post

Time for Liberal government to give up ‘fiction’ that China is our friend, ex-diplomat warns MPs

The Murky World Of The Beirut Port Explosion

Lebanese President: Foreign ‘Rocket or Bomb’ May Have Caused Beirut Blast

TOPSHOT - A picture taken on August 5, 2020 shows the damaged grain silo and a burnt boat at Beirut's harbour, one day after a powerful twin explosion tore through Lebanon's capital, resulting from the ignition of a huge depot of ammonium nitrate at the city's main port. - Rescuers …
STR/AFP via Getty

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday the cause of the titanic explosion in Beirut on Tuesday “has not been determined yet,” and authorities have not ruled out the “possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act.”

Aoun added authorities are also investigating negligence by port officials and accidental detonation and conceded that a stockpile of highly dangerous material had been kept at the port for years prior to the blast.

The official explanation for the explosion has undergone several mutations since Tuesday. At first, it was laughably presented as an accidental discharge of fireworks from a warehouse, but later the story of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate seized from a foreign ship and stored at the port began to take shape.

Reporters followed up on oblique comments about the seized cargo and determined it must have come from a ship called the MV Rhosus, which was impounded at the Port of Beirut for safety and technical violations in 2013. Lebanese officials theorized that welders working to repair holes in the warehouse walls might have touched off a fire that caused the ammonium nitrate to explode.

That story was called into question by documents uncovered on Wednesday that implied the cargo of ammonium nitrate was still onboard the MV Rhosus, which has been docked at the Port of Beirut for six years.

As recently as 2015, a legal document stated “the vessel and cargo remain to date in port awaiting auctioning and/or proper disposal.” A media report filed the previous year described the ship as a “floating bomb.”

On the other hand, a 2017 letter from the director of customs in Beirut warned about the “extreme danger posed by the storage of the goods in the warehouse under inappropriate letter,” and one letter from a team of lawyers in 2015 explicitly stated the cargo was moved into a warehouse at the port.

The Washington Post suggested the murky situation is partly due to various parties in Lebanon attempting to shift blame for the explosion. One of those parties is Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist organization and Lebanese political party, which has good reason to be nervous.

As Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies pointed out to the Washington Post, the small fireworks-type “popcorning” of flashes and small explosions, clearly visible in numerous videos taken before the giant blast, look more like small-arms munitions cooking off than fireworks.

“Hezbollah is known to exercise control or leverage over the airport and the port, for various reasons having to do with their activities. There’s a pre-existing notion in the psyche of most Lebanese that these facilities are either dominated by Hezbollah directly or through various surrogates,” said Firas Maksad of George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies.

The U.S. government sanctioned Hezbollah has been sanctioned by the U.S. government for using the Port of Beirut to smuggle contraband, including drugs, small arms, and precision-guided missiles. The Jerusalem Post claimed on Thursday that Hezbollah has its own “special terminal” for receiving weapons at the port that bypasses customs inspectors, and the munitions are usually stored in port warehouses until Hezbollah can distribute them to remote bases and arms depots.

As for the ammonium nitrate, Hezbollah has a well-documented interest in using the chemical to make bombs. The Washington Post noted there is not yet any hard evidence that Hezbollah was aware of the ammonium nitrate stockpile or controlled it, but the possibility will surely be investigated. Most countries have strict rules against storing so much ammonium nitrate in one place and mandate strict safety protocols.

The substance remains widely used, and frequently shipped in substantial quantities, because there is high demand around the world for ammonium nitrate fertilizer, but not many sources for obtaining it in bulk. Russia is currently the leading exporter of ammonium nitrate and was reportedly the source of the cargo Lebanon seized in 2013.

“Hezbollah finds itself uncomfortably positioned as the principal backer of the government presiding over a thoroughgoing collapse of the Lebanese state and society. It will not easily shake off blame for the Beirut blast, or for the Hariri assassination,” Bloomberg Newspredicted, referring to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Experts expect a verdict against four Hezbollah operatives linked to the assassination from a U.N. tribunal soon and could be especially bad news for Hezbollah in the wake of Tuesday’s explosion.

Even if Hezbollah weapons were not involved in the deadly blast, it could still feel the wrath of angry Lebanese who have taken to the streets to protest the incompetence and corruption they blame for the catastrophe.

News that high-level officials had ample reason to know about the danger of the ammonium nitrate stockpile during the six years it remained at the port led to furious demonstrations in the streets on Thursday night. Every faction in Lebanon’s complex and already fragile government will be eager to avoid blame for the explosion.

So Now You Can’t Blame Trump, Portland!

 

From PJ Media

Day 69: Rioters Set Portland Police Precinct on Fire. So Much for Promises Riots Would Stop if Feds Left

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas
The world was assured by Democrats that if Donald Trump’s “stormtroopers” left Portland, antifa and Black Lives Matter riots would simply stop. And yet another riot was declared on Wednesday night in Portland on Day 69 of the riots.

During the attack on the police precinct, the rioters blocked traffic and shone green lasers into the eyes of police officers.

They followed up by destroying the cameras surrounding the precinct.

When that was over, the antifa mob went to the home of a woman whom they labeled a “Nazi” and woke up the neighborhood, beat on her door, shouted threats, and shone lasers into her windows.

Riots and “mass gatherings,” as Portland police euphemistically call them, have been going on every night for the past 70, well before federal police were dispatched to protect the federal courthouse. Most nights the unruly mobs are declared an unlawful assembly and riot.

Related: Portland Courthouse Bomber Busted After Trump-Loving Grandma Accidentally ‘Outs’ Him

Still, if you’re Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler it’s just so much easier to blame the chaos on President Trump instead of bad local leadership. As usual, the Democrats running the state have a set narrative that’s as laughable as it is wrong.

Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn observed in a piece headlined “Trump Wins in Portland” that the president has forced the locals to do their jobs, which they weren’t doing before.

Gov. Kate Brown sums up the dominant narrative: “The president’s decision to send federal troops to Portland was a political stunt and it backfired.” Likewise the headline over a Washington Post story that Mayor Ted Wheeler, retweeted this past Friday: “Trump ordered federal forces to quell Portland protests. But the chaos ended as soon as they left.”

… [I]f protesters are no longer trying to break into or set fire to the federal courthouse, it’s less because federal officers are no longer protecting it than because state and local police finally are. Which suggests a more practical measure for judging the results of Donald Trump’s law-and-order interventions.

In this light, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf applauded the relative calm that now holds but dryly tweeted that “stepping up and doing the right thing should not take 60 days.” Contrary to what the governor has said, moreover, Mr. Wolf emphasizes that the federal law-enforcement officers sent to Portland remain there on reserve and won’t leave until they are confident the courthouse is safe from attack.

The federal government got a promise from the governor that the Oregon State Police and Portland Bureau of Police would be deployed to quell the riots in downtown Portland around the federal courthouse. The feds would remain only deploy if needed.

Let’s take a look at the other days of riots following the so-called withdrawal of the feds—riots that national and international media claim aren’t occurring anymore.

Day 69 of the riots on Wednesday was almost like Day 68, when rioters tried “breaking into the back door of the Portland Police Association (PPA) building again. You know, the one they’d set on fire a week or so ago.

Day 67 was another “mass gathering” in which PBP officers withstood “throwing objects at officers and flashing laser pointers, bright flashlights, and strobe lights in the officers’ eyes. … During the dispersal, the officers had paint balloons and other objects thrown at them. One officer was punched. Another was injured in the arm by a protester swinging a stick or baton. Another arrest was made. After moving the crowd several blocks, officers deployed inert smoke to allow officers to safely disengage.”

On Day 66 there was a two-fer: rioting AND looting.

On Sunday, Day 65, there was a “peaceful gathering” in front of the federal courthouse, which was described this way: “The gathering spilled out into the streets surrounding the park. Vehicular traffic was unable to get through for several hours.”

On Day 64 there was a riot in a lovely old Portland park.

… [A] group of about two hundred marched from Laurelhurst Park, blocking traffic lanes … shined bright lights at Portland Police officers standing outside the building, directed lasers at the officers and eventually began throwing glass bottles at them.

A person in the crowd threw a glass jar or bottle filled with paint, which struck a Portland Police officer in the head.

People with “press” written on their outer garments repeatedly threw objects at officers. Portland Police continued moving the crowd to the west and south.

This was supposedly three days after the federal “troops,” as Oregon Democrats derisively called the Federal Protective Service police, began a “phased withdrawal” from Portland.

Related: Jonathan Turley’s Right to Ask if Antifa is the ‘Greatest Movement Against Free Speech in America.’ We’ve Got Proof.

That night, Day 63 of the riots, “protesters” in a “mass gathering” tried to set the federal building on fire again.

At times people lit small fires along sidewalks on surrounding blocks and attempted to light fires inside the fence at the federal courthouse. Others in the crowd put the fires out. Some people climbed on or near the fence at the federal courthouse, but others admonished them and they got down. People could be heard in the crowd repeating that the protest was to remain peaceful.

The larger group broke in to smaller groups and over the next hour or two people dispersed without police interaction.

There was a “mass gathering”  the next night as well, in which Portlanders were told to “avoid the area” for their own safety.

This has all been going on since May 28, following the police-involved death of George Floyd. Federal officers were deployed over the July 4th weekend.

The only thing different is that now Portland rioters have taken their riots elsewhere in town. They know that the federal officers are still there waiting for them if the newly engaged Oregon State Troopers and mayor-led Portland Police Bureau officers fail to do their jobs again.

One Billion Students—Not Back To School

Back To School: A Billion Students Still Hit By Closures

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1,058,547,236. Back to school season is just around the corner and that’s the number of learners who still aren’t able to attend class (as of early August) due to the pandemic. According to UNESCO, that figure represents 60.5 percent of all learners worldwide though it is an improvement on the 1.4 billion students kept out of school in mid March. At that point, there were national school closures in 138 countries and that has now fallen to 105.

Infographic: Back To School: A Billion Students Still Hit By Closures | Statista

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This chart shows countries with country-wide or localized school closures (as of Aug 08, 2020).